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tiredwalker
01-02-2014, 04:08 PM
I've been having such an interesting journey lately. My husband (an atheist) randomly bought me a magazine about the new pope (I had mentioned that I liked him). I'm not Catholic and have honestly never paid attention to popes or anything about it aside from general knowledge or news worthy events. So, I've been reading about him and I suddenly felt interested in reading a book on the snippets of Mother Theresa.

As sort of a background, I grew up in the Evangelical- born again movement, but moved away from it after college. Something kept pushing me away from it, almost like the church itself was pushing me away. I married my husband and we've hand many, many conversations about this and at some point I thought of myself as an agnostic because my theology didn't line up with anything I knew of. For the past several years, I've considered myself a Christian, but I've known I've sort of hidden my actual thoughts on God from my family and friends because I know that they'd think I'd "fallen away" or "gotten tricked" or just become flakey. It's not true.

Anyway, I've been so inspired by what I've read. "Works" speak to me. I was in a college and area that focused heavily on what God was doing in each individual's life and what God could do for "me" etc. I know there is a place for that, but I can't stand it and it was that culture that was driving me away. So many people told me that moving to the East was bad because it was spiritually dead, but I have to say it's just different. There is a much bigger focus on works and helping. This new pope and my new book and this culture is changing me.

Sorry for rambling. Anyway, I was reading last night and thinking and praying and I could almost hear God saying that I shouldn't let theology and reason be a distraction. Mother Theresa said that she met an atheist helping with her mission. She told him if he believed in love he couldn't be an atheist because God is love. To believe in love is to believe in God. She lived it. She was close to God and I believe what she said there. I think I've been caught up so much in reason/theo, that I've been distracted from the goal of helping and doing.

I guess this is a random thought, but feel free to comment.

snooch
01-02-2014, 04:20 PM
These are interesting thoughts to me. Everyone has such a different experience of God, that I often wonder how surprised all of us are going to be when we get to heaven and realize that we were all <right? wrong? sort of close?> to what the truth of Him is. I don't think any of us have the capacity for understanding it all while we are here on earth, and I think that's probably why we all have such different experiences with him, and why there are so many different denominations and interpretations of scripture.

I don't think theology is the problem so much as dogma. The theology is often up to interpretation. Think about how many different beliefs there are among traditional Christian denominations about things like baptism, birth control, and communion. But where people start getting turned away like you did is when dogma starts getting tossed at people. Anything that is taken to be so supremely important as to toss people out of church over it seems to be missing the point of forgiveness and grace, and so many people are hurt by things like that.

scarygothgirl
01-02-2014, 05:02 PM
I think theology absolutely can get in the way. Many of the Christians on my facebook are always talking about Calvinism and Complementarianism and all these long complicated words about church politics, and very little about God's love and how to be more Christ-like in our day-to-day existence.

It always makes me a little nervous talking about how there are many different ways to God. I believe that there are. But I also believe that according to the Bible, the only way you can get to ultimately be with God is to die having never sinned. Or to take the free pass given to us by Christ dying having never sinned. Which means that a person may be incredibly close to God, and do many good works, but not get to be with God in eternity because they haven't accepted Christ's sacrifice. It also means that however much of a backslidden Christian the world may think you are, if you've accepted Christ's sacrifice there is absolutely nothing you or they can do to separate you from God's love and being with him in eternity.

I don't know how coherent this is all sounding. But my main thought is the necessity of the gospel over any other theology or politics, or the way anyone else may see you.

judy02
01-02-2014, 05:37 PM
Not much to add, other than I can relate to TW's post. I can sometimes feel bogged down, put off or uninspired with just politics/theology like you say.

As a teenager, I used to spend night after night, praying and asking God to help me be more and more loving. I fully believed what the Bible said about it being the second most important command, and how the other rules or principles found in there would be less burdensome by being more loving. And personally, I feel a lot more drawn to someone who is caring and kind to people and has a heart for others. The cold, distant more cut off sounding people with seeming black and white answers just put me off more.

There's also just something incredibly attractive about God's nature (God is love) and the Holy Spirit.

Also, I can relate somewhat to what Snooch says about dogmatism. Most of the time, I explain my understanding and leave people to theirs unless I believe something to be harmful or put someone in danger, or cause damage.

Anyway, I haven't got much else to add really, other than I can relate :) It's always nice to hear personal stories and testimonies so thanks for sharing yours.

Virginia
01-02-2014, 05:44 PM
TW, your journey resonated with me. Thank you for sharing :hug:

And I agree that oftentimes Christians are too concerned with being "right" and not concerned enough with being Jesus to other people.

Christina
01-03-2014, 01:56 AM
TW, thank you for being so transparent and honest. THat's a good place to be!

I believe that there are many ways to God, but I have a hard time believing that it is the way to "Heaven" since the Bible repeatedly talks about belief in Jesus Christ as being the one and only way to get to heaven.

But aside from all that...I believe theology is stupid about 99.5% of the time.

Realistically. Look at the Bible. Read. What do you see? Follow it. Why must there be so many divisions and politics and rah rah rah??

My husband is a very profound theologian at heart. He loves studying it. But what I find is that it takes him away from the *relationship* that he is supposed to have with Christ, and with God. And with all 3. And who cares. lol

I am very simplistic. I don't understand theology at all. I can't debate it. I don't even want to. I find it pointless. At the end of the day, what God says is what he says and that's that. We're so caught up in trying to prove what's right in our eyes to other people who couldn't really care less...and not enough time loving them like Christ wants us to love.

At the end of the day, what were we told? The two greatest commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind, etc. and love your neighbor as yourself! And then, I think of that as three commandments, for to love your neighbor as yourself, you must also love yourself, and not just them.

Anywho...for me it doesn't get any more complicated than that. That and the fruits of the spirit. All of them make logical sense. All of them can be learned without books, schooling, or degrees.

And there's no politics involved.

I don't know who complicated it so much, but I think it's ridiculous.

And now you know what I think about theology. :D

Ramura
01-03-2014, 08:30 AM
Very interesting and challenging perspective, TW. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly.

This is an issue I have found myself thinking about more and more over the past few years or so. I have also become something of a “fan” (for lack of a better word) of Pope Francis, although I am not Catholic and do not ever intend to become one (too many issues with Catholic “theology” lol). I think the changing focus he has created is a very positive thing and long been needed, in Protestant circles as well.

I come from a very intellectual church background, with a heavy emphasis on good, biblical doctrine and teaching. Between that background and my naturally analytical mind, I’ve become something of an intellectual myself. So take my viewpoint with that grain of salt. 

While I definitely take issue with the practice of spending all our time with our noses in theology books, ultimately, I don’t think the problem is “theology” in general as much as it is specifically “bad theology.” For the purposes of my explanation, I use the term “bad theology” to refer to unbiblical ideas about God, his Word and, by extension, the Church and God’s purpose for us as Christians. That is to say, if someone studies the Bible hours on end week after week and comes away with the conclusion that’s all God wants from him as a Christian, I would suggest that he has adopted some very bad theology. In contrast, someone who devotes a substantial portion of their time to reading the Bible and praying, sees the frequent commands throughout Scripture to help the disadvantaged and bear one another’s burdens (1 John 3, Philippians 2, James 1, Galatians 6, etc), and acts on them, that action is the natural result of his “good” theology.

I think this is a line we need to tread carefully, because I think, while we can’t truly have good theology without good works, we can (and many people do) have good works without good theology. Of course, the Bible speaks to this point a number of times, that’s was the whole point of the Great Commission and countless martyrs throughout the centuries. The disciples, Paul, etc could have just volunteered at their local soup kitchen if all they were concerned about was helping out their fellow mankind. They were tortured, driven from city to city, mocked, despised and eventually killed not because of their generous spirits but because of their theology. That in itself is enough to tell me theology is pretty important, but in addition to that, I have a quote from my new favorite pope that speaks to this as well:

“Thirdly, professing. We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord.”

(Full homily here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130314_omelia-cardinali_en.html)

Jesus didn’t start a non-profit organization. He also didn’t start a seminary. He started the Church.

Basically, I think we need to be wary of pitting “theology” and “good works” against one another. They are not enemies. Neither one should replace the other in the Christian’s life, because they are both essential callings.

And that brings me to my final point, which is that I also think we need to be careful of judging those intellectuals who do read a lot of theology books and go to seminary. As I just said, I think both theology and good works are essential to a Christian, but the balance will look different in each believer’s life. As I mentioned in the beginning, I come from a very intellectual church background, and as a result I have had the opportunity to see the effect that these deep, rich biblical studies have had on some Christians’ lives and how they’ve been able share their experiences with others in very uplifting and God-glorifying ways. God’s given each of us our own strengths to be used in the Church. Case in point: Paul spent a whole lot of time debating theology (Acts 9-end) while Stephen spent most of his short ministry waiting tables (Acts 6:1-3). But we know from Paul’s ministry and his epistles that service to others was also part of his work and Stephen ended up dying for his theological proclamations.

Sometimes, I wonder if one of the biggest problems we have in the Church today is simply that our Pauls and Stephens just don’t get along as well as the Pauls and Stephens of the first century Church.

mina
01-03-2014, 10:27 AM
Here are my jumbled thoughts; I did not grow up in the church and in a way I feel very blessed b/c of that. Meaning that, I never knew what theologies or religious ideas were "in" to be a Christian. I don't know who I'm supposed to dislike for what beliefs. I know what love looks like and I equate that with God; if that even makes sense. I now understand theological ideas and even agree with some; but I feel that anything people clutch too tightly that doesn't allow them to love others is not godly. It is possible to love religious ideas or popular ideas more than God and I've seen it happen so many times. They will know we are Christians by our love.....but often love stops with only those that agree with us. That turns me off; no matter how conservative or liberal or progressive the viewpoint is. Without love, you are just a sounding gong. The heart of the Bible is simple to understand; Jesus' commands to us in the purest form is to love- God and others- even if you disagree, even if your deeply held beliefs differ. I don't particularly think the idea or bit of theology is what is the diversion but the way people believe it or hold on to it or relate to it.

I do think there is a place for theological beliefs and ideas but I also think they can divert from the heart of what Jesus wanted us to do if they become more important to you. I would much rather be a close friend with someone who doesn't exactly believe as i do but is kind and loving to all than someone who holds similar beliefs but hates me b/c I'm not a Calvinist or in their same denomination or something of that sort. I don't know if any of this makes any sense....... One of the people I hold in high esteem is a struggling Christian, but she loves, and forgives people like no one I've ever met before. I've learned so much about how to love and respect others as a Christian through her example..... much more than I've learned in hearing Christians battle out their doctrinal differences or rant how conservatives or progressives are hateful or whatever.

Ramura
01-03-2014, 11:08 AM
Sometimes, I wonder if one of the biggest problems we have in the Church today is simply that our Pauls and Stephens just don’t get along as well as the Pauls and Stephens of the first century Church.

Lol, I just realized the inherent contradiction in my illustration here, being that Paul didn't become a Christian until after Stephen died and in fact, Paul's first appearance in the Bible was him approving Stephen's death. So maybe they didn't get along so great afterall.

Okay, I suppose I could have picked a better example. Hopefully my overall point is still understandable with some imagination. :D

snooch
01-03-2014, 12:48 PM
I don't want to derail the thread, but I would be curious to hear from the people who have responded to TW what your definition of "theology" is. After reading through the posts, I'm wondering if we are all really saying the same thing, but with differing views on theology because we're all defining it differently. Which may be completely off-base too :D

katzankatz
01-03-2014, 01:00 PM
I think there can be both. One who studies and practices good theology can also practice charity. They do not have to be exclusive of one another. Too many times they are though. We can be so involved in reading the Bible and studying concordances and following rules that we miss the whole point of the gospel. Remember the old saying, "so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good"? Or we can be so caught up in doing, doing, doing, taking care of people's earthly needs that we do not share the gospel, what people need more than anything.

I like what Ramura said about good theology and bad theology. Good theology increases our knowledge of the character of God, his will for us, how his world works, how he wants us to live. Good theology draws new followers to him and increases the kingdom of God. Bad theology ultimately draws people away from God gives people a wrong or incomplete view of God. I've seen both kinds of theology. The church I grew up in, while mostly right Biblically, also missed the point of the gospel a lot of times. In youth group, we spent more time debating the deep theological truths of skirts and culottes versus pants rather than digging into the Bible, learning about real life-changing holiness. Outside of that movement, I have learned the Bible far deeper than rules and regulations. Good theology is more than dos and don'ts and "look at what I'm doing here!". The life lived out of good biblical doctrine produces fully devoted followers of Jesus. It's results last beyond the here-and-now.

I guess I'm taking a stand here for good theology:). But I realize that all the good theology in the world is worth very little if I do not love God and love my neighbor.

Virginia
01-03-2014, 05:28 PM
Edited because I realized I didn't answer the question about what theology is.

Technically, it's the study of God/religion. Beyond that, I don't have a good definition because it's 2 a.m. ;)

snooch
01-03-2014, 07:04 PM
I have an example to throw out, where theology - as I define it, which is a sound understanding of scripture - is important to the good works we do.

Matthew 6 talks about our good works and says:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


So while I think doing good works, and showing Jesus to other people, is incredibly important to how we are to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, scripture (theology?) also tells us how we are to do those good works. If we make announcements on Facebook about the good things we do, are we doing good works and trumpeting them for recognition? Are we doing them in front of others and, in doing so, losing our heavenly rewards?


I think this is why I believe theology and scripture need to be an important part of our lives. That's our instructions from God about how to do his will. If we don't know what it says, and we just do good works out of a loving heart, but then announce it all over the place, brag about it, etc., we might be doing ourselves a disservice by making our good works less humble, less pleasing to God.


Like I said though, maybe "theology" is meaning something different for different people. To me, it means a sound understanding of scripture, and I think that's important so we know how God will be pleased by us.

Historia
01-03-2014, 08:13 PM
I grew up in a church that seemed to teach the basics and stayed away from intellectual theology*. To be honest, I did not know Calvinism vs Arminianism or Pre vs Post Tribulation or other things of that nature, until I was well into my 20s and some things I did not know about until reading some rather long debate posts on CF (and then googling some of the terms). Part of me feels stupid and like I should do some deep theological studies. But to be honest, I don't feel like it's so important. I feel like the basics (baptism, communion, Trinity, etc) are enough. Though I will continue to google terms and look into things that I think might be important to know (such as still believing how I was taught as a child about communion but wanting to be more aware of the different beliefs involving communion).

I don't care if people want to focus on theology, with deep studies and debates. But it bothers me when I encounter people (thankfully, only online) who seem to think I can't be a real Christian if I don't know every theological issue well enough to debate on it for hours. With those kind of people, I think theology is definitely a distraction. However, others have said it much better than me already that it's about balance.

I'm also a fan of Pope Francis (though like Ramura, I won't be converting to Catholicism any time soon).

*When I say "theology," I'm referring to the various points of Christian thought (for lack of a better term), such as Calvinism vs Arminianism and consubstantiation vs symbolic vs real presence communion/Eucharist.

Christina
01-03-2014, 11:13 PM
I think theology is a study of God's ways and in general a study of the theory of spirituality as it pertains to God/Jesus. But I think that the study of it, and the focus of it, can be and often is turned towards the study of the doctrines (hence my post lol) rather than the study of God and the relationship between man and God.

scarygothgirl
01-04-2014, 04:40 AM
But it bothers me when I encounter people (thankfully, only online) who seem to think I can't be a real Christian if I don't know every theological issue well enough to debate on it for hours.
.


I went to a church full of people like this. They'll eventually give in when you push the gospel on them hard enough. But I feel like people who are already Christians shouldn't have to have to gospel pushed so much on them. I have someone on my facebook who went to that church, and then when he moved he posted on facebook about how his new church mustn't be very good because the one person he spoke to there couldn't answer his questions about where the church stood on certain theological issues (he used really long words that I don't even understand... why expect every member of the church to?)

judy02
01-04-2014, 06:08 AM
I went to a church full of people like this. They'll eventually give in when you push the gospel on them hard enough. But I feel like people who are already Christians shouldn't have to have to gospel pushed so much on them. I have someone on my facebook who went to that church, and then when he moved he posted on facebook about how his new church mustn't be very good because the one person he spoke to there couldn't answer his questions about where the church stood on certain theological issues (he used really long words that I don't even understand... why expect every member of the church to?)

Hmm yeah, that person does just sound very arrogant to be honest. We shouldn't be afraid as Christians sometimes to admit we don't always have all the answers. Study, the scriptures and learning more about God's nature and our own inward transformation is a gradual and continuous process.

I attended a church as a child growing up that did just seem to teach the basics all the time, and it never seemed to go much deeper. When I went to University, I was fascinated by deeper teachings, and not just reading the Bible at face value. Sometimes you are ready to go onto deeper things, other times you need to get to grips with the basics again as well.

Learning to love and show grace to others with disagreements I think is an acquired skill that takes time.

blythe_ann
01-04-2014, 04:18 PM
The definition of theology form my desk side dictionary: The study of divine things and religious truth. Doctrine is defined as a particular position, principle or policy taught and advocated. And a Christian is someone who believes and accepts Jesus Christ.

I see theology becoming a distraction in churches-- I grew up reading big-worded books from children's church up. We never looked out of those books to the world around us. And it seems, with theological study, a stronger commitment to doctrine is almost inevitable. It's doctrine, in my opinion, that is more damaging than having theological knowledge. Using your knowledge to judge and alienate everyone who doesn't agree is more distracting that reading big books.

My opinion of theology being a distraction is it can be because we're prone to focusing on the wrong thing. However, theology itself isn't wrong.

Jesus Himself knew His stuff- I mean, the kid was blowing minds at the synagogue when He was just a little guy. He was a teacher of authority. He knew His stuff. But I don't remember any verses about God ignoring people so He could study religious documents. No, He taught, He prayed, and He LOVED people. He taught, He loved, He healed, He spent a lot of time taking care of people because He loved. Jesus did WORKS.

Now, I don't have an intimate understanding of His Father like He did. So I need to do more studying than Jesus would have. But, logically following my understanding of Christianity, I should follow His life model in gratitude to what He has done for me... and that means I should be doing works. I might not go to hell if I'm not doing works, but I might bring more with me to heaven if I do.

Maybe that doesn't make sense. I tried to think on this and present something well written and then it just came out scatterbrained!

snooch
01-04-2014, 04:43 PM
That didn't come out scatterbrained - it came out very well. Using Jesus as the model for the works we should be doing makes perfect sense to me.

tiredwalker
01-04-2014, 08:21 PM
Didn't mean to write and walk---kids, work, life, blah, blah, blah. This is a great discussion. For my part, my parents met at Moody Bible Institute, my dad became a pastor, has an MDiv and a Doctorate in Bible, reads the text in Greek and Hebrew, I went to Christian college, and married a mega church PK who left Christianity based on reason (it whole journey started with trying to find a better way to witness to atheists and the entire thing crumbled). My whole world has been about theo and digging deeper into the text, going to the original language to figure out real meanings, and then defending it with reason.

Theo is important, but it has been my foundation which crumbled. Better Jesus loves me this I know than losing it all to a translation.

Keep talking, I love this.

Christina
01-05-2014, 06:37 PM
My FIL left Christianity and became an Atheist as well because he went to some class or something where it gave good reason for God to not be real. So he left based on reason. My MIL is still with him but they lead very separate lifestyles that is for sure.

I can understand why folks would want to leave it and why they do. Christianity is not easy to believe in. But believing there is no God is even harder.

snooch
01-05-2014, 07:30 PM
It's funny how reason affects different people in different ways. I was a reasoning agnostic for a really long time. When I began reading the Bible and learning what my husband believed and why he believed it, it was with a mind toward finding errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies in the Bible or Christian beliefs. That was my goal. And in trying to do that, in studying to do that, I came to realize there were too many reasons to believe. Reasoning had exactly the opposite effect on me, and brought me to belief, instead of confirming my disbelief.

DIANAC
01-06-2014, 08:08 AM
(Almost blind post. Sorry, all!)
Hello, TW!
To my shame I have not been here for a while now. I feel that I abandoned my friends :embarassed: Occasionally however I quietly stop by just to see how everyone is doing.
Last night I read your post but I was just too tired to answer it. But your thoughts stayed with me.

Lately I have come to understand this. God is bigger than any theology which is a man’s explanation of God. Different denominations strongly believe that they are the ones who have the truth. But every denomination has some truth and something that they need to rethink. There are strong points and weak points in EVERY church.

Theology! It seems such a lofty word. How can I… study God? But I want to know Him and treasures that are hidden in Christ. I do, with all my heart. I also have come to understand man’s theology has a direct reflection on his life. Some teachings produce zeal for good works, some produce zeal for evangelism, some – introspective attitude towards personal holiness. But incorrect theology can also produce depression, shame, hopelessness as it can distance us from God.

I grew up Armenian Orthodox but I did not know Christ. My Uncle (a great and kind man) was an Archbishop but we did not own a Bible. I did not even know that people are able to have their personal Bibles. It’s funny because my Uncle at one point was even managing the archives at Echmiadzin.
Echmiadzin is to the Armenian Apostolic Church what The Vatican is to the Catholic Church. As my Uncle gave me as a young girl a tour of the Archives I remember seeing amazing old illuminated manuscripts, old hand written copies of the Bible – evidence of the early faith of the Armenian nation, the first Christian nation. But now they are museum relics. Later, as God saved me as a new transplant to US, I joined various evangelical churches where I was quickly introduced to various doctrines/theologies. It was a long journey of growth. But thankfully, now I am able to step back and to realize that God is so much bigger than any doctrine. What is important as I am getting to understand is an allegiance to the Truth and not to any Doctrine. And to be open for the Bible to correct my understanding and my faith.
Now as a family we attend a Baptist Church. But now I am not afraid to read Brother Lawrence, for example. I like learning from him certain things but I also disagree with him some other things. My old Calvinist friends if they find out about my new reading habits would proclaim me a heretic.
Sometimes as my brother and I discuss a certain Christian doctrine from a "new" angle, I jokingly tell him that he and I are in danger of being excommunicated from every denomination known to mankind ;)
When theology and certain doctrines at kept at high esteem (higher that the Word of God) I am afraid that denomination might become a museum relic as those old manuscripts.
What I want to say is that it’s good to question things. And do that with an open Bible in one hand. Let the Word of God lead you into every truth. He promised that He will do that. Christ only, in all things!

About Mother Theresa…She had her own muddled theology even though she did a lot of good.

Ramura
01-06-2014, 08:45 AM
Here's a thought: we've identified several ways that theology can be a distraction from good works. Is it possible the reverse can also be true in some cases? I'm thinking of the common philosophy that I see in society a lot today that says, "it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're doing something good in the world." And some churches, in a sincere attempt to be relevant to the world, maybe softens their stance on some important theology a little too much.

This discussion has just been getting me wondering where the correct balance is. Personally, I think my church falls a little too heavy on the theology side, studying a little too much more than doing. I know that influences me and I want to find the right balance for myself and help my church improve if I can. But, I have also experienced firsthand the benefits of good, strong theological teaching, even all that doctrine and dogma that no one else seems to like. :P And I don't think my church has been exclusive or unloving with said theology (though I understand that may be the case in other churches), it's just been taking up too much time, so to speak. So I just wonder what the balance is. I know no person or church will get it perfect, and I don't think there is one image that is perfect for everyone. God may call one perso /church to a heavier emphasis on theology, while calling another to a heavier emphasis on works.

snooch
01-06-2014, 10:09 AM
I think that's why it's so important to 1) Stay in the Word, because you have to know what it says to stay in it, and 2) Have a living, breathing, walking relationship with the Holy Spirit, so he can apply the word to your life specifically and individually.

Faith without works is dead. You can believe and know all the right things, but it will stagnate and not multiply in the world if you aren't applying it to your life and spreading the love of Jesus.

At the same time, works alone don't cut it. You have to know what God wants, what Jesus did, and have faith that the works you are doing are for God's glory, or they are just works and nothing more.

I'm great with knowledge, and okay with works, and I need to really focus on the relationship more, personally. This thread has helped me understand more how important all of it is, and where I need to focus my efforts.

snooch
01-06-2014, 10:10 AM
(And it's great to see Diana post here! :hug:)

tiredwalker
01-07-2014, 12:13 PM
Stretching ourselves like a hide in all directions is what I think we're supposed to do. We're to try it all and then we'll be balanced. Knock, ask, seek, open doors, give, and help people find. We should teach and learn, give and receive, rely on faith and balance our lives with reason. If we tip too far one way, it's not healthy...though it's easy to do. If we rely solely on our theo/reason, we risk condemning the innocent or losing our faith altogether. If we work non-stop without thinking, we'll have no answers when those we help ask us questions.

Virginia
01-07-2014, 02:07 PM
Here's a thought: we've identified several ways that theology can be a distraction from good works. Is it possible the reverse can also be true in some cases? I'm thinking of the common philosophy that I see in society a lot today that says, "it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're doing something good in the world." And some churches, in a sincere attempt to be relevant to the world, maybe softens their stance on some important theology a little too much.

This discussion has just been getting me wondering where the correct balance is. Personally, I think my church falls a little too heavy on the theology side, studying a little too much more than doing. I know that influences me and I want to find the right balance for myself and help my church improve if I can. But, I have also experienced firsthand the benefits of good, strong theological teaching, even all that doctrine and dogma that no one else seems to like. :P And I don't think my church has been exclusive or unloving with said theology (though I understand that may be the case in other churches), it's just been taking up too much time, so to speak. So I just wonder what the balance is. I know no person or church will get it perfect, and I don't think there is one image that is perfect for everyone. God may call one perso /church to a heavier emphasis on theology, while calling another to a heavier emphasis on works.


This is my experience as well.
I do think that other churches might fall on the other side of the spectrum, however (focusing only on doing good and not at all on proper theology, which I do believe is important).

I think Jesus provides a perfect example of the balance between doing good works and having good theology. He healed people, washed their feet, raised them from the dead; he came to serve and not to be served. But he also pushed back against the religious leaders of the day and their misinterpretations of God's Law that He gave them in the Torah. Many of the religious leaders of the day were legalistic (meaning they kept "laws" that were man-made and not from God), or they boasted about their religious status...and Jesus clearly put them in their places ;)

judy02
01-08-2014, 03:59 PM
It's funny how reason affects different people in different ways. I was a reasoning agnostic for a really long time. When I began reading the Bible and learning what my husband believed and why he believed it, it was with a mind toward finding errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies in the Bible or Christian beliefs. That was my goal. And in trying to do that, in studying to do that, I came to realize there were too many reasons to believe. Reasoning had exactly the opposite effect on me, and brought me to belief, instead of confirming my disbelief.

This is just a wonderful testimony Snooch, thank you so much for sharing it! :) It gives me some peace of mind too.


Sometimes as my brother and I discuss a certain Christian doctrine from a "new" angle, I jokingly tell him that he and I are in danger of being excommunicated from every denomination known to mankind ;)

I think as a sincere follower of Christ, it isn't natural for us to fit neatly in any category when it comes to denominations :) And I feel some concern for any believer who is solely just influenced by their own denomination's beliefs. My heart's desire is to strive for true authentic Christianity, which I think will always be a lifelong, continuous journey. People don't fit into categories, and I think to feel you are going to excommunicated, makes me think as a church we need to try and improve and be maturer at dealing with differences ya know? :) Unless you're denying who Christ is I suppose.

This is a good thread, thanks to the person for creating it.

snooch
01-08-2014, 04:23 PM
This is just a wonderful testimony Snooch, thank you so much for sharing it! :) It gives me some peace of mind too.

Thanks, and I'm glad it gives you peace of mind :)

I think as a sincere follower of Christ, it isn't natural for us to fit neatly in any category when it comes to denominations :) And I feel some concern for any believer who is solely just influenced by their own denomination's beliefs. My heart's desire is to strive for true authentic Christianity, which I think will always be a lifelong, continuous journey. People don't fit into categories, and I think to feel you are going to excommunicated, makes me think as a church we need to try and improve and be maturer at dealing with differences ya know? :) Unless you're denying who Christ is I suppose.

I really agree with this. One of the primary reasons I turned against Christianity, or all religion of any kind actually, was because I was... I guess I really was ex-communicated, in the sense that I was denied receiving communion at my father's funeral from the church where I grew up. Because I got married by a Christian pastor, but outside of the church. That was such a slap in the face to me, and such a betrayal, and all from the man-made rules of a denomination. I didn't want anything to do with God when that's how his representatives treated me, as unfair as that response from me was. You have to be so careful about how you treat people so that kind of thing doesn't happen to them.

judy02
01-08-2014, 05:06 PM
It might not be a perfect response Snooch, when you say unfair, but I think it is also very understandable and natural. It is very easy for teaching and people's behaviour to influence how we view God sometimes. I believe God is loving and patient with us while we work these things out and deal with working out God's truth along the way :) It isn't always an easy road, and I have struggled with some people's behaviour in Christian circles before, even though it isn't the same story as yours. When people's main motivator behind their actions, is one of love and a desire to care for others in their life and protect them from any abuse, I find it a lot easier to respect them, even if we disagree on theology sometimes.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit!