Monday, May 09, 2005

Need-based Theology

I thought I posted about this months ago, but I cannot seem to find it, so perhaps it's just been floating in my mind for at least that long...

We seem to build theologies based on our felt and perceived needs, don't we? Now, I'm not saying that we don't pull things from sacred texts or communally consider things, but often times the starting place is our own need to have certain questions answered, mysteries explained, or needs met.

And perhaps this is not such a bad place. It is, perhaps, where we must begin. But still, if we are not intact with other things than our own felt needs, we will fall into delusion and myth-making. This is why community past and present, near and far, is so important. The entire human family is important. Some people opt for stopping in the Semitic traditions, thinking that others are not worthy of being consulted. Worse yet, some stop with the Roman Empire's creeds as if Constantine's Councils were able to cement a universal understanding of God.

Keep seeking. Keep looking. Keep listening. But do not just form your own opinions in a sort of individualistic, me-and-God-and-no-one-else sort of way. Understand that truth is most often found in communal truth, not individual truth. Or at least know that I understand it that way.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ryan, I can't help but read your blog and feel that you are drifting into a type of synretism. This is the age of "syncretism". People are trying to harmonize and unite many different schools of thought and come up with a superior "religion". The danger in this is the dilution of the truth in a loving attempt to understand the beliefs of others. Mysticism, legalism, eastern religions, aceticism, and man-made philosophies are secretly (lately not so secretly) into our churches. They are not denying Christ, but they are dethroning Him and robbing Him of His rightful place of preeminence.

Larry said...

Well 'Anonymous' may have a point, but probably he needs your point, too. The problem of inclusiveness/exclusiveness has plagued the church for 2000 years.

For many it was settled by Constantine when he ordained that all Christians must believe the same thing.

It has never happened of course, but zillions of good Christians have been persecuted and killed because they were not 'right'.

Thank God for the inclusive stream in the church today.

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

Thanks for both of your comments. I would say that every age is an age of syncretism for at least a couple reasons: First, people don't want to leave behind certain things when they choose to follow Jesus, hence so much consumerism in the American church. Second, there are many 'redeemable' things in culture that are worthy of being brought along. And third (didn't I say 'a couple' things?), the mission and dreams of God always take place in a specific context (time, place, worldview, etc.).

Part of the enlightment-modern worldview is that one can be completely objective. To me, this is absurd. So to think that one could ever behold the 'true, pure gospel' in some objective form shows how s/he doesn't even see the syncretism they are already entrenched in.

For sure I can understand the issue of 'dethroning' Jesus, and I am not sure where I stand on that issue because Jesus often seemed to downplay the issues of him being the eternal, universal king, but then in other cases, the gospel writers and surely Paul state it, so...

sled dog said...

Anonymous here...just too lazy to register last time, but I realize that posting as anonymous can be a bit annoying...

As far as Ryan's thoughts (and much of what I see in emerging church thinking) I am in a love/hate relationship. I'm loving the call to return to basics (which I feel the early emergent church sought after). But I am really concerned about where things are going now. There is almost a lack of logical dialogue going on...a resistance to claim anything as true for fear of claiming to be a "know-it-all" rather than a seeker on a journey. I get the feeling that the emergents are fighting the establishment (sounds like the 60's all over again) at any cost. I truly believe this will end up being a loss for the gospel of Christ.

I know these thoughts ramble a bit, but hey, can't write an essay in a comment box!