Believe me, when I say this – It would be so easy to draw a “crowd.” I know what the right things to say are, the right doctrines and thoughts. I could be thoroughly orthodox in every way and no one would bat an eye and every blog I wrote would get likes, “amens” and maybe a few shares. I could completely immerse myself in a theological tribe and get pats on the back and a thumbs up from my kin all the while completely selling out on what is I really believe. If you want the easiest path to being liked by others in the Christian Faith let me tell you what to believe (on top of the obvious stuff about Jesus, the Trinity, Scripture and salvation which are non-negotiable):
- That the universe is roughly 6000-10000 years old. Christians love this one because Jesus said in order to receive eternal life you must firmly hold to the idea that the universe is young and then be born again… obviously.
- The Bible is to be read at face value and read literally. I mean because every single one of us reads the Scriptures in its original languages and has a thorough understanding of its original context. Wow! Amazing!
- That all we need to do is read just “read Bible.” We just need a “simple faith.” Amen, I mean who needs over 2000 years of theological thought, translation and reflection to at all help how we understand God’s Holy Word right?
- That the Bible is about me and you. The authors of the Bible wrote Scripture fully anticipating a white Western 21st Century Christian to be reading about food safety laws in Leviticus thousands of years later. How considerate.
- That our tribe has it all figured out. This one just speaks for itself.
Satire? Yes. I hope you get the point.
Trust me, being a theologian (though I’m not sure if I’d really consider myself as one) is lonely and tough work. You read and pray, and think and pray, and discuss and pray, and read some more. We’re in “ivory towers” not just because we choose to be there ourselves, but because sometimes we’re exiled to the ivory towers by the community of Christians we usually hang around. Usually, what ends up happening one way or another is that what you once thought you knew ends up changing or at least being convincingly challenged. This is extremely isolating because at least in my experience, you start believing and working through things that no one else likes and you become alienated even from people you were closest too. I make note of this issue in a blog I recently wrote but I’ll reiterate it here. Being a good theologian, even a good Christian is embracing “the wrong.” We should love it, look for it and welcome it like a dear friend. There is nothing more humbling and even exciting than realising something we’ve held to our entire lives wasn’t quite right and that there is an entirely new world of waiting for us to take hold of.
I guess my indictment is this. Let’s kill our theological golden calves before we “kill” one another. There are truths worth dying for – but there aren’t any worth killing for.