Out of the Closet Meme
What follows are my theological confessions. Ben Meyer, over at Faith and Theology, posted a series of theological confessions and invited the rest of us to do the same. I’ve read confessions at a couple of other blogs, and it appears we have much to confess -- I'd suggest most especially Michael Westmoreland-White's confessions -- many if not most of which I concur with.
So, here are a few of my own.
- Being that I am about to begin my tenth year pastoring a small Mainline Protestant church in Southern California, a place where the esoteric and the non-traditional are as attractive as anything orthodox or traditional, where self-help and do-it-yourself religion reigns, I confess that theological debates that are remote to practical pastoral questions have increasingly less interest to me. Yes, there are esoteric questions that are fun to debate, but I simply find that I have less and less time and interest in pursuing them.
- I confess that my own personal experience colors the way I read and understand theology (that should come as no surprise considering the first confession). To give an example, let me point to one of the most divisive of modern questions – that of homosexuality. Like many I had grown up with the idea that homosexuality and Christian faith are incompatible. I’d read all the biblical texts and knew what they said and what they meant for the church – then my brother came out and confessed he was gay. That confession forced me to re-examine my theology and my practice. You can deny the influence of experience, even suppress it, but it will raise its head and you’ll have to come to terms at some point.
- I confess that when it comes to reading and applying Scripture, I do pick and choose. I choose to embrace the picture of God that is compassionate and welcoming over the picture of God the wrathful judge. Perhaps this is why I’m increasingly attracted to Marcus Borg.
- I confess that people come first – that is I believe that God is more concerned about people than getting everything right – whether it’s doctrine or liturgy or church order. This maybe why I’m part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a tradition without creeds, books of order, or official liturgies – though we do practice weekly communion with a passion.
- I confess that I struggle with how to explain/understand doctrines such as the Trinity, the Resurrection, and “stuff” like that. I am comfortable confessing God to be one in three, but I think the 4th and 5th century formulations, so dependent on forms of Platonism are more and more problematic. With that said, I still stumble over confessions of God that go I believe in God the Father/Mother – I don’t believe God has gender, but some language is so ingrained that it’s difficult to “re-imagine” God confessionally. I’ll leave the Resurrection to another time and place.
- I confess that it’s no longer possible for me to insist that Christianity is the sole depository of divine truth. Again I do struggle with this – For I do believe that it is in Christ that God reconciles the world and makes all things new(2 Corinthians 5). But, my encounters with people of other faiths has broadened my outlook considerably.
- I confess to be caught between two worlds – between my evangelical past and my mainline Protestant present. I think I’m a wannabe progressive. I want to retain a high of Scripture -- I’m not ready to jettison it as being out of date – and yet I feel compelled to listen carefully to the critical evaluations of Scripture.
- I confess that Jurgen Moltmann is the theologian who most speaks to me (it used to be Bonhoeffer, but Moltmann gets to more issues and questions), though it was Karl Barth who freed me to listen to Scripture anew.
- I’m increasingly impatient with those who are unwilling to give due respect to reason and to science in their theological ponderings.
- I confess finally that this is a journey that is yet to be completed, a journey of discovery, where old ideas are reconsidered and if necessary abandoned. It is a journey, I believe that I take in the company of the God I have encountered by the Spirit, in the person of Jesus. It is to him that I look for guidance and sustenance in the days to come.