Stephen Mattson, “Who’s Your Theologian?”
(Relevant Magazine: August 10th 2012)
My greatest frustration with debates among Christians and within theology is, simply put, that theology is nothing without action. No one will be convinced of the gospel of the love of God if Christians do not preach it and then live it out.
Even within the church we see people who worship and love the same God divide over issues of theology. Take the constant battle over free-will and predetermination.
Outside of the actual theological debate itself, a sadder thing happens. Battle lines are drawn between those who side either way and a subtle line is drawn through the middle of the church. Forgetting the debate itself, neither side of the argument should affect the witness of the church. Even he/she who believes in predetermination, all that TULIP stuff, in the utmost must also conclude that he/she doesn’t have the damndest idea who the elect are and must therefore love, be in relationship with and speak the truth of the gospel to all.
Likewise, on the opposite far end of the spectrum, a lecturer we had once told an interesting story about a woman in a church who was a professed Universalist. However this woman always brought non-Christians to church, more so than many others. When asked why she kept doing this, since she believed that there were many ways to get to heaven, she replied: “Why do I tell people about Jesus and the Gospel? Because it’s true IT’S SUCH GOOD NEWS!”
My point is this, theology can be a wonderful thing. But before all the papers, the debates, the committees and the meetings, every Christian take to heart the two laws Jesus gave. Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself.
I’d say that any theological debate that turns people away from God or from loving all those around us as we should is, in itself, a cancer in the Body that cannot be tolerated. It masquerades as our desire to be right before God but ultimately becomes a battle of wits and pride, and the world can see that.
Perhaps it should be considered that theologians, church leaders and Christians in general should argue less about what we can (or want to) say about God and pay more attention to what God wants to say to and through us.
Then go do it.
I don’t care if you don’t want to.
A lot of the time, in there somewhere you know you’re supposed to.
Talk to that person about God. Give your money to that person who needs it. Stop this things and give up that thing there and start doing this over here.
Don’t go and research your counter-argument paper to be published in the next Society of Biblical Literature Journal so you can justify before the world why you shouldn’t need to be actively concerned with fighting poverty in your city. Don’t write a book about how God wants you to be rich so you can justify having a big bloody house and a private jet.
Don’t try and defend, before man or God, how you can be preaching love from the pulpit but abuse your family behind the closed doors of your home.
If you dare to say that for you “To live is Christ”, then dare to live as you have said.