Thursday, October 05, 2006

What I've been thinking about lately

So here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. I can’t say that it all started with this, but it certainly got me really thinking. We as a staff spent the last two weeks at our staff meeting discussing the Chapter The Seven Jesuses I Have Known by Brian McLaren in his book Generous Orthodoxy. For background he sets out that he has met 7 different views of Jesus they are the:
1) Conservative Protestant Jesus
2) The Pentecostal/Charismatic Jesus
3) The Roman Catholic Jesus
4) The Eastern Orthodox Jesus
5) Liberal Protestant Jesus
6) The Anabaptist Jesus
7) The Jesus of the Oppressed (Liberation Theology)

Now here’s the thing, each one of these theologies (ways of thinking about God) have validity, they are true and there are things to learn from each one. Which brings up the question, How big is my God? Is God big enough that we can all be right, and all be wrong? My thinking right now goes something like this.

If I can fit God into my Mennonite Anabaptist theology, than that cannot be God! It is not big enough, not awe-inspiring enough, it is just a god, that I have made up, like a golden calf. However, if God is so big that Roman Catholics Liberal Protestants, and Right Wing Conservatives can all be right, then I think we are starting to find a true image of who God is. Pastor Gary shared this quote from a Texan pastor on Sunday said something to the effect that. “The thing that brings unity is not a common purpose or vision, but rather that we are all involved in a common argument.” So what if, the thing that unites us as Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist, Liberal is that we are all involved in a common argument/discussion on the best way to live out the gospel. We are united in that we all want to live out the life of Jesus, as we understand it. In this context theology, and thesis’ and books on theology all of significance and value. Because we are coming together and asking why do we believe this? What are they doing right? The Anabaptist comes and lays out their beliefs for why we are not part of the kingdoms of this world, and why we should not give allegiance to our countries, why war is wrong and how to live in this third way. The Liberal Protestant teaches us that we must live out the meaning of the miracles of Christ, building hospitals to heal those with aids, building schools so that people who are intellectually blind can see, the Charismatic Christian teaches us the power that the Holy Spirit still has and how He is still actually healing people. Can two separate sides of the women in ministry We do this because we are interested in understanding the best way to live out Jesus to the world. We don’t all agree, but we are open and understand that Jesus is bigger than my walls, my ideas, my theology.

I wonder if we viewed God like this if it would be possible for a homosexual Liberal Protestant Christian to sit with greedy Conservative Protestant Christian and for them to actually discus together the best way to live Jesus. It is not about trying to win the argument, but about discerning how best to live Jesus. Now I guess I have qualify that last statement. I’m not condoning sin, but both those who hoard wealth and those who live in sexual sin, are not living the best they can for Jesus, but perhaps they can find common ground in trying to find out what that best way is. Hopefully through this dialogue both sides would see that they are wrong. But it is not about picketing places and yelling and screaming, instead it is about discovery, trying to learn the best way to live.

I guess it comes down to, how big is my God? And, how big is my theology? Can I have a generous Orthodoxy? Or must I stay within the walls of my specific theology? So now I will practice my Anabaptist tradition. What do you think? As my community, what are the things I’m missing? Does this ring true? Or am I doomed?


Anonymous said...

Great post Nathan. It is true that too often we get into this lefty/righty thing and forget how big God is.

Ben said...

Nathan I think you are doomed. Just joking. I actually think you are totally on the right track. God is greater than we can imagine. Also we need to be in discussion even if we are 100% that we are right. John Stuart Mill states "if it [an opinion] is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth."

matt said...

That is some good stuff Nathan! That hits the nail on the head to what I have discovered about the 'religion' of Christianity. I think that too often Christians get wrapped up in their traditions, either church tradition and its doctrines are the roots of theology. Often it does seem that Christians are limiting God to their own understanding and consider all other views as wrong. From a postmodern perspective I think its great to take this behind the pulpit more and take it deeper.

Anonymous said...

wow that really opened my eyes. living in the community that i do i feel as though i have been taught my whole life that the mennonite traditions and way of living is the only right way to live, and that all other religions are way off. God is far bigger then that. i feel as though i have only known half of God. time to see what i'm missing out in!

Nathan said...

Hey there Anonymous, I just want to make sure that we are on the same page. You made a said, “that the Mennonite traditions and way of living is the only right way to live, and that all other religions are way off.” I believe we need to be careful when we say that we start talking about other religions. I was talking about denominations of Christianity. True to some it might seem like the Catholic church or the United Church are a different religion, but they aren’t. They are different brands of Christianity. They still all hold Jesus as God, and as the savior of the world. As soon as we start looking outside of that then we have strayed away from what God desires. This is not to say that there is not truth outside of Christianity, for example the Muslim principle of staying debt free is a great truth (Which I believe more of us in the West need to accept and apply). However it is not salvation, this can only come through the person of Jesus Christ.