Those who know me understand that I like to stir things up from time to time. I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind. I’ve never been afraid to embellish things with a wee bit o’ hyperbole. I don’t do this to be a smart ass. I do it to push people to think about what they are saying and doing. Yeah, sometimes it bites me in the back side. Most of the time, however, I’m not sure that anyone’s actually listening. Or, maybe they just don’t have the time to think about it.
Yesterday was one of those times that I purposely poked. A Facebook friend had posted something about being a liberal. Now, I’ve made it pretty clear that I lean to the progressive/liberal side of the theological spectrum. So, when I saw this I thought that it was worth reposting on my timeline to see what kind of responses it would garner. A couple people ‘liked’ it. That was expected. One person, however, took exception to it…with gusto. I enjoyed reading his response. It was well thought and courteous. Yes, there was strong language and passion. I would expect nothing less from him.
While I disagree with some of what he wrote, I must honor his position. It’s where God has met him. This thing that we call orthodoxy is a fairly wide playing field. There is a lot of room for diverse ideas and beliefs. This may have been the single most important lesson I learned in seminary. ‘Doing’ theology is not simply reading someone’s book on Systematic Theology and spewing it at people. It is conscious reflection on what we understand from the Scripture, the Church and its traditions, the creeds and how they intersect with the reality of our culture. It’s wrestling with the tough questions and issues while resisting the tendency to offer simple answers that help no one. My friend has done this. So have I. We have come to different conclusions. That’s ok. God, whom we follow, is a big God. I’m fairly sure that God is not worried about our differences. We each have different gifts and purposes in life that the Holy Spirit distributes as the Holy Spirit sees fit. For me, or anyone else, to say that someone else has missed the mark is simply wrong. Yes, we can encourage one another to greater understanding. Yes, we can use hyperbole to poke and prod one another to continue to think and reflect. And, yes, we can piss each other off. But, through it all, we’ve got to remember that we can have only a small piece of God’s truth. And, chances are, we’re wrong a lot more than we realize.