Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Do Troubles Determine Your Theology?

Greg Boyd and Brian Mclaren have one thing in common... both faced a crisis of faith prompted by extremely difficult circumstances in their life.
Boyd ended up an Open Theist – making God into a being so “relatio-centric” that He has somehow removed all knowledge He has of the future from His mind (to protect our freedom to choose). Mclaren has become the spokesperson for the Emergent Church, creating a worship context that accepts almost anything and only avoids determinative statements about things like the nature of God, sin and salvation.
I know there is much more to each of these men, and I don’t expect that either would be satisfied with the one-sentence description I have given, but I think it is worth noticing the common denominator. Doctrinal error is often more a result of “the problems of life” than an honest reading of the Biblical text.
We do this all the time. For example, troubles come into our life and we are tempted to think of God as something akin to Job’s friends’ description of Him (i.e. the god of the eternal scales, rewarding the “good” and punishing the “bad”). Without our minds being informed by the text of the Bible, we would then “create a god in our own image,” and worse, begin to live our lives based upon that knowledge. In this case, “god” could easily become a distant genie that needs to be pacified and coaxed into doing nice things for us.
When our minds are taught by the Word, however, and our understanding of say, divine sovereignty, increases... then how we respond in these troubles changes. We begin to view them as trials to grow in (James 1), or discipline to learn from (Hebrews 12), or the attacks of our enemy against us (Ephesians 6).
The most difficult path to stay on is the narrow one... there are so many bypaths and inviting side trails! We won’t go wrong, though, if we keep our minds in the Book and seek its Author incessantly.
Would that I did it better!