OK, so what about Christian theology?

As we continue on our road trip, we have arrived at the place where we are having a look at the first part of my theory… If you have joined us late, we’re on a road trip for a few days, a journey of discovery examining a theory I posted the other day, and built up to beginning with my posts on Monday the 6th.  The theory is:929 119-LR

“Christian theology is not particularly difficult to understand.  Its precepts and premises are fairly simple, it was given to “regular” guys to share with the world, and they did it.  Yes, of course they had a lot of help from the Holy Spirit, but then so do we. Yet we love to argue, follow tradition and form to avoid spiritual growth and reaching out, because they are counter-intuitive, and the fact that they are counter-intuitive is exactly the point of all things being new, for our human intuition isn’t new, it’s the old thing that Jesus died to free us from.”

What do I mean by “Christian theology?”  For the purposes of this journey, I mean the basic principles of the Christian faith, the bare essentials, you might say.  This is not an academic definition, this is not “systematic theology” and this is not an exhaustive list, credal statement or any of that, so please don’t say that I failed to mention such and such and call me a heretic!  (Or you’ll prove my ultimate point)

Christianity begins with the notion that we have sinned along the way, that we have messed up.  If anyone reading this believes that he or she has NOT sinned, please drop me a comment so that I can post your name here tomorrow so we can all send our congratulations!  (OK, just kidding.  You knew that, right?)  In spite of our imperfections, God loved us so very much that He was willing to go to great lengths to redeem us to that relationship with Him for which we were created, so He sent His Son Jesus to pay the price of our sins.  (I hope this is sounding familiar)  Jesus paid that price to redeem us and by God’s grace has offered us a pardon, and we have accepted that pardon and entered into relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Now, all things are new, for we have been re-born.  We no longer live according to our old ways, for we know that God loves us so very much, and we love Him in return, and because God loves all of His children just as much as He loves us, we respond naturally and love the rest of His children, too.  Love God, love your neighbor, in other words.

Now, we are trying to figure out how best to do that in a world that is kind of a mess, often confusing and sometimes a little scary… so we have gone on this road trip together.

Now, before you add to this short summary, ask yourself what is complicated about anything I just said.  I’ll give you a moment…

Unless you couldn’t help yourself from wanting to add to this, you surely see that this is not hard to grasp, it’s easy, easy, easy! A child can grasp it, in fact a child usually gets it more quickly than an adult!  We just can’t help ourselves!  Something this important can’t be simple… it must be hard.

But it isn’t, and that is counter-intuitive!

I’m not a young man any more… OK, I’m not that old either! I’ve experienced a lot of things, and one thing I’ve noticed about people is that we love to complicate things.  I sometimes suggest to folks that they not overlook the simple solution, because it’s usually the right one to any problem.  It is in this case.  The basics of the Christian faith are very simple, until we go out of our way to make it complicated.

OK, I think that’s good for now, let’s take a break, and then our road trip will move on to the next stop: Precepts, premises and regular guys.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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12 Responses to OK, so what about Christian theology?

  1. loganroberts611 says:

    Well put, I actually was just talking about this very same notion yesterday with a few people. It is really easy to read and understand, as you said even a child can grasp the simplicity here in what is being said. It is the battle between flesh and spirit, the “doing” of this simple truth, the relying on the Spirit, that is very difficult for us to do. I sometimes wonder if when I pray for strength from God, that instead of asking for more strength, I should actually pray to be revealed to more of the strength that is always actively there in my life from God (I hope that makes sense haha). I think it goes for this to though, I as a Christian know what I should be doing, so instead of praying for more instruction and clarity I should pray that God open my eyes more to the truth and instruction that has been and will always be right in front of my face. The truth can not become more than it already is, than it would be changing and God does not change so His truth does not change or grow. The same could go for His strength, and for the power of the Spirit. It isn’t that we have some control value we release when we want more strength or guidance, we can’t control the level of power God has over us. We simply need to be opened up to it more by the power of the Spirit to do so. I think at least, I ramble about this a lot haha. Great post though, I look forward to more!

    • Don Merritt says:

      I’m not quite sure if this is your situation or not, so if I’m off target, please forgive me…

      Sometimes when I have trouble figuring things out, and I find myself asking God to make things more clear, or give me more strength, or more… something, I come to realize that I’m really not quite wanting to give up my control of the situation. Yet, when I stop doing that, even if I’m not entirely clear what to do, when I change my request to something like “Lord, do your will in and through me in this situation,” things seem to work out in ways I hadn’t anticipated or understood… and for the better, as weel.

      Thanks for your comments, and I hope that helps in some way!

  2. Little Monk says:

    Good Morning, Don. I love this post, and you’re right… THIS kind of “theology” is not complicated. I’m still sort of “vibrating” from the Bible lesson Paul taught me this morning, about the … the specificity… of Jesus’ “anointing” and what we today would see as His “commission” or His “charge”… from Luke 4:18-19

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
    Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
    He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
    And recovery of sight to the blind,
    To set free those who are oppressed,
    To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

    I think what has again struck me as so breathtaking, is the SIMPLICITY of it all! I mean, look there… there is “God’s restatement”… “God’s definition”… of the Gospel. First given by God to Isaiah, then documented from Isaiah to Israel, then… then… REPEATED, ENDORSED, and AFFIRMED by Jesus personally!

    Six lines, Don. SIX LINES!!! And the entire summation of the totality of the “Gospel”, of “Theology”, as JESUS summarizes it!

    And look at the difference of emphasis between God and man! This SO rings true in my heart and spirit. It’s actually challenging for me even to type here and now, for I’m still a bit wrapped and rapt in the “worship” of it all… but no, this is the “right place” for me to type words in this Now Moment…

    I can hear the echoes, “But what about SIN?!!! Sharing the Gospel HAS to start with the ‘Sin Stuff’! Paul said so! Pastor said so! This, that, the other book, teacher, tract, said so! Sin is important, surely it has to be part of sharing the Gospel!”

    Of course it is, and of course it does. But look at those six lines! God doesn’t IGNORE sin. Jesus doesn’t OVERLOOK sin. It’s just that God sees it in so different a way, in a way we are so unaccustomed to looking at it, it is hard for us even to recognize the reference. Jesus addresses sin from GOD’s… Grace… perspective… altogether… “release to the captives, sight to the blind, free those who are oppressed, proclaim the favorable year…”

    I leave it to you, dear teacher, to expand a bit on Jubilee and what a wondrous concept that is to be mentioned here in this context.

    Isn’t it amazing, that NOWHERE here, do we see the word “repent”, or “call to repentance”? And yet, it is there, yes… but from HIS perspective, not our “religious”, or “churchy” one…

    I see six amazing lines, each of which make a Cosmos changing, life changing, earth shattering revelation…

    Line 1: A statement of condition. “Here is HOW I am, here is what has happened.”
    Line 2: A statement of the reason: “Here is WHY that is the case, what to announce, to/for whom.”
    Line 3: The Legalities: “Here’s Who sent me as Herald to read what document to what convicts.”
    Line 4: More Royal/Divine Gift: “To give Light in Darkness, Sight to Blind” (3 and 4 are the “sinner” parts, from God’s side. We stand under condemnation, blind. He “reads our King’s pardon, and grants us sight”
    Line 5: Writ of Manumission: “I come commissioned to hand you freedom forever from slavery, bondage, incarceration.”
    Line 6: Proclamation of Jubilee: “That all debt be discharged, and none further incurred, that forevermore you be provided for by the generosity of the Lord.”

    Now, does Jesus ADDRESS sin? Yes, clearly.

    Does He see it as WE like to see it? The finger-pointing at others, or the chest-beating at self?
    Nope. In fact He, God, Isaiah see it SO RADICALLY differently than we do, it’s hard for us even to recognize it. Is our “repentance” there? Yes… He comes, commissioned and anointed, to make the proclamations, present this documentation, and release the chains and locks. But STILL we must stand up from the chains and shackles, walk out the prison doors, and enter the free world sunlight on our own two feet.

    I’m sorry… I know I’m babbling… I’m really not “commenting” nearly so much as I’m just yet “humming” with the magnificence of all of this.

    But to see Paul’s Blog put up there these incredible six lines… and then come see you presenting the “simplicity” of the “theology of God”, and presentation of the Gospel…

    The pieces just FLY together before me, and what else can I do, dear brother, but just kneel in awe at the beauty of it all, and say…

    “Wow! Amen!”

    • Don Merritt says:

      I’m right there with you, Little Monk! Paul’s blog, and the comments (Oh, hi everybody, this is what we’re talking about) are really amazing. How they line up with what you have been posting and what I have been posting, all arrived at individually, combined with some other things I’ve noticed out there, give me the distinct impression that something amazing is “going on” here, that God is busy on WP!

      Another “wow”

      I stuck a little story on Paul’s blog about the time I had a group of students in that synag0gue at Nazareth and the “wow” we had there. The whole thing, the announcement of the Christ, the simplicity of the message and the ‘primitive’ theology of the Christian faith… but then those who were there when Jesus made His statement wanted to kill Him, and we would rather argue and fight…some things never change and yet God is moving in our midst still. It’s simply inspiring!

      • Little Monk says:

        Yessir. I saw your story over on Paul’s Blog, and I found myself… “there”… just seeing that, hearing that, being a part of that moment when Jesus read those words and sat in that seat. I think that had much to do with what “triggered” those ongoing moments of amazing…. “unfolding” (is the only word I can find, though it seems wholly inadequate to the experience)… of what God did above with those six lines.

        Every have one of those moments… like you’re standing in the gorgeous night darkness on the 4th of July… and that BIG one goes off? That beautiful Big Rocket that bursts into a flowering of light and fire? But then, that’s not all? THOSE fragments, themselves, burst forth again? Revealing an even more awesome display?

        That’s what was happening… is yet happening, to be honest… with those six lines. They are still just opening, and opening, and opening… Jesus’ “Introduction of Himself”… Jesus’ Commission… Jesus’ Gospel… Jesus’ Theology…. and the thunder just peals on, with such beauty and perfection.

        I don’t know how to say this, but today, you and Paul have given me such a tremendous gift I can’t wrap words around it. I believe each of us have “Our Own Gospel”… our own proclamation the Lord sets on our hearts to free broken, enslaved, children… and it always reflects our own liberation. I believe, it’s not quite finished yet, so I’m not positive… but I believe that today, this morning, you and Paul may have given me mine.

        Thank you.

  3. adamaphar says:

    I almost agree with you. I think there is a constructive and useful role of skepsis in spiritual life. Your summary of Christian theology has many assumptions that are worth examining, and in fact not examining those assumptions enslaves us to tradition and authority. The exercise of the mind in rational argumentation is absolutely essential to an authentically-lived Christian life.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I almost agree with you, too. Please hang in with me, this is far from the end of the story, and it may not be headed exactly where you think…

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

      • adamaphar says:

        “This is not… a credal statement.”

        It is. To say otherwise is being disingenuous.

        • Don Merritt says:

          You are certainly free to see it differently, but I’m not sure that clearly setting out my contextual intentions could be either ingenuous or disingenuous, strictly speaking, unless you perceive them as a deliberate and willful attempt to deceive someone, and at this point in the overall narrative of a multi-post discussion you might not easily find a place to hang your hat if that is your assertion. Again, I suggest you hang in a while and see where this is going.

  4. chaplynne says:

    Reblogged this on ChapLynne's Chat and commented:
    A Pharisee asked Jesus: 6 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.

    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    Just as Don was saying, the concept is simple. We often make things more complex, but we must start as a child, and put first things first. Love God. Love our neighbor, just as we love ourselves.
    Of course, that’s where it gets real complicated, because we are not always sure about how to love ourselves…but that is another blog subject.
    In the meantime. Simple. Love God. Love neighbor, as ourselves.

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