A Wolf In Sheeps Clothing
I have come to see the endless study of theology as a sort of fantasy based pilgrimage for God’s approval; a grand Venetian Ball, wherein semantics and polemics vie for the sublime title of martyr.(1) But take away the imperious mask and see, deep within the inviolate halls of exposition, the meaningless of it all. It is the search for truth-devoid of our humanness, where not a single portion of Scripture has not been castrated by factions, entirely deconstructed into a hundred differing ideals and devoted certainties.
And so, there arises the question of plausibility, the prospect that it is not “God’s Will” that we perpetually hoe and till the Word. Do we honestly believe that a correct understanding of every possible doctrine will save us? “Lord, I loved and cared for others, I loved You and we spoke regularly, I did what I could to encourage, support, forgive, to heal. I depended in faith upon your own Gospel and Bible for my growth and weaknesses.” To which He says, ” Yes, but you were wrong about what type of music I prefer so, oops, sorry, you’re out of Zion… (shakes head, shrugs shoulders)”.
Like anemic junkies, we seek more and still more doctrine, desperate for another fix of acquiescence from God. I suspect this addiction functions as a methodology, allowing us to measure progress and to control the work-reward outcome, falsely comforting ourselves that we are assured of God’s approval simply through refining our doctrinal positions. And so, ever so subtly, our childlike spirit is harvested; hope, common sense, and love, slowly subdued under the cold, dread tutelage of intellectualism.
Truth be told, faith is terrifying. Trusting in God for change implies that we cannot be in charge of the outcome, that we must become dependent. And if trust, rather than workable goals, is the basis of my eternal destiny, I am at risk, vulnerable to ridicule. “The spark behind fear, recognized as life, leaps into flame, always this energy smolders inside, when it remains unlit, the body fills with dense smoke.” (2) Do I dare let go of control to seize life? Will God even want an imperfect person like me?
Outside of the Almighty Himself, there is no denomination or individual that is without blemish; we all have problems, we all fail one another, we all forgive and are forgiven. We live in a world of dependency and mutual humility. Knowledge alone is insufficient. We must actually live, in the real world.
Where intellectual-puritainism controls out of fear, the gospel brings the warmth of hope and love. Where knowledge is utopian idealism, God Himself is alive and tangible. I mean really, there are so many clearly stated truths about love and living in Scripture, that one need no mystical exegesis to know, “God’s Will”. It would be far simpler for us to just act upon what the Bible already plainly says. Action over intellectualism. Experience trumping articulation.
“Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings— I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
the broken to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your arrogant selfishness
so I don’t have to look at it any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the defenseless.
Go to bat for the widow and orphan.”
1. Semantics: pertaining to, or arising from the different meanings of words; Polemics: the art or practice of disputation or controversy.
2. The Heart Aroused, by: David Whyte, pg.63