Theology has ruined me. Decades of sermons, books, studies, blog postings, seminars… all to ultimately learn that everyone is “right” in their own eyes. For each school of thought there is a complete defense for their system.
Never mind the numerous pre-suppositions and assumptions that form their foundation. Ignore the gaping holes in logic that frame their construction. It’s like a roughed out house with no real walls yet… or like an emperor in a parade wearing imaginary clothing. Any error is glossed over with a suspension of disbelief since a true believer in their system would never dare really raise the question.
Raising honest questions is what taking the leap of doubt is all about.
If you aren’t allowed to be honest about doubt, then you aren’t living in reality. If you aren’t allowed to question teachings that men have created and passed along (for two years or two thousand, it doesn’t matter), then you aren’t living from the depths of your heart.
What is it that causes people to avoid the difficult questions? What is it that causes people to side with one group’s interpretation over another, claiming they are the only ones who are right about that topic? I think there’s simple four-letter word for it.
Fear to be wrong. Fear to lose. Fear to be reprimanded. Fear to be on the outs (with God or the group). Fear of insecurity. Fear of isolation. Fear of uncertainty… because if each school of thought is rife with its own problems, then what can you really be certain about?
The truth is, there is MUCH you can be certain about that is healthy, good, constructive, restorative, and freeing. Much. And it has little to do with theological correctness or political correctness or anything that divides people into separate warring tribes.
You can be certain of God’s love. You can be certain God has your best interests at heart, even if you have to travel some very dark valleys along the way. You can be certain that God is merciful and forgiving and supportive and a very present help when you’re in deep trouble. But that kind of certainty has another name – it’s called faith.
This kind of faith that is not like wishing on a star. It is more the confidence through experience that when you move ahead (despite the risks and uncertainty), God will be there every step of the way. Sometimes he may be silent, but he’ll be there.
And God will provide what you need at just the right time (assuming you’re working on the kinds of things God actually cares about). God is not an enabler of co-dependents, but he is a loving, caring father… and in truth, a nurturing, supportive mother. It’s unfortunate that it is so common to use the masculine pronoun regarding God, because if we (male and female) are made in the image of God, then God must have both attributes and is not solely a “he” anyway. That is worth considering, contemplating, owning.
Things like this are worth being certain about through experience, worth having real faith. They help build your life, your faith, and ultimately help restore the world. And that is something that theological arguments over our origins, destiny, and the cosmic nature of “sin” and “punishment” fail to do.
Theology camps often provide an alternate universe in which everything makes sense (to them), but is so detached from the realities people actually live in that it plays out to the ruin of people, society, and the planet. Because if God is going to burn it all up anyway and only rescue his “chosen few” (the ones in their camp), then nothing else matters but their rescue. They may be eager to get the word out to bring in more people to their side, but that then brings in more money, power, and desire for control. And with that comes more fear. And more than anything else, fear will bring us all to ruin.
God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment.
– Paul of Tarsus to Timothy in Ephesus