Monday, April 14, 2008

Cleaning out the files.

I have not posted because I have run out of things to say. So, will post something I wrote before I came back to the Church. It was a reply to a letter from a friend. I post it because I no longer struggle with many of these questions and it is good to look back every once and a awhile to see where you came from. On second thought maybe I do still struggle with the same questions only differently. So, here it is a letter from 2005.

“I have never heard of F Buechner. Though a quick web search yields this- "Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun." He is an Episcopalian or at least well liked by the EC. He sounds like Yancey for the mainliner. I do not mean that to sound as bad as it might seem coming from me. Both of these fellows have some good things to to say and perhaps just as importantly say it well. People listen to well spoken things even if those things are wrong (Ayn Rand is a great example). Yancy and it seems, as far as I know, Buechner say true things well. In a similar way Lewis, Schaffer and Chesterton spoke to an earlier generation. There are similarities to all these non-theologian writers on theology. They have interesting insights that are usually missed by the professional theologians. These insights are gained from being consumers and practitioners of theology rather than the creators of it. "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried."

I am skeptical that theology has more correct things to say about God or faith than anyone or anything else. Whatever theology says it says precisely but it may be precisely wrong or precisely misleading. God may reveal himself in bits and pieces every day. Theology has some things to teach us but so do our neighbors and our enemies. We certainly have a big chunk of revelation in the bible, but the bible is not exhaustive in it's statements about God or faith or practice. This is part of my growing difficulty in being evangelical (not to mention the almost systematic way the Holy Spirit is ignored). I am unsure how well I will do at Bethel. The last night I was with my friends at bible college in San Antonio we were discussing what we could take away with us. What was the meaning and the effect of 4 years of college level biblical study. My response "I know now that God exists, everything else is speculation." And in reality that is all I have hung on to. Anticipating another round of intense study I only hope to add one more true statement. I have no idea what it will be but I figure that knowing 2 things for sure is a hell of a lot more than I should expect from life. Abraham believed God and he was declared righteous. That was only one thing! I think it would be nice to know three things before I die. That would balance nicely. I should think that Faith in God is more about what we do not know but hope to be true rather than that which we think we can prove through logic and reason. Then again logic and reason have their place as does systematic theology...

[Mrs. Germanicus ;-) and I are reading through the bible together. We are in the middle of Exodus and we both agree that the God we read about in the bible is not the God we hear about in most churches or the God that most people "love". I suspect if a neophyte were to read the bible and take it at face value, they would not come to the same conclusions about God as D. J. Kennedy or C Swindol. They would see no lessons on leadership in Exodus no Organizational strategy in Joshua or 5 keys to financial management in the gospels. I suspect they might find a a fierce powerful God controlling the fates of people, kings, nations and the world. A God that thinks nothing of wiping out an entire family to prove a point or to exalt a despot to punish a nation. A God that chooses his favorites based on God knows what and then sticks with them no matter what they do. I am the God of deceivers, thieves, rapists, murder's, and idol worshippers. I will redeem them and the world will see my glory. We do not understand. I tremble when I think about facing God. I think and fear that he will be more terrible and real than I imagine. I can not reconcile it all with what I have read, heard and what I understand of the churches teaching. So, I move forward, haltingly, humbly, and carefully. I move forward because I must, time compels me and I am trapped. God hates the arrogant and the coward. I do not know what to do except live and live fully.”

1 comment:

J. Thorp said...

This is a wonderful little glimpse you've given us! Thanks!

If you do not grapple with these same questions now (of *course* in a different way), with what do you grapple? : )

And if you no longer struggle with them, why are you still hanging around here with us mortals? : P