Project: Theological Topics

Ask questions, because I can’t possibly think of everything by myself.

I sense the leading of the Lord to address some of the major theological topics commonly discussed among Western Christians. Look for titles that start with “Theology and Practice.” It’s not that I have no awareness of Eastern Christianity, but I don’t have a feel for what Eastern Christians would consider important right now. I don’t have a finger on that pulse; it’s not my calling. The world I live in is mostly evangelical American Christian religion and its theology. I’m willing to address anything else you ask about, so don’t hold back. But I’ve already said that theology is nothing more than one person’s mental organization of faith, and what I know best is the stuff I’m reacting against from my own education and experience.

Thus, you should not expect me to issue “ex cathedra” divine guidance on what you should think or believe. This is more about developing a context for your own independent guidance from the Lord. If you share any of my background, this might prove helpful in seeking peace with God, particularly on nagging questions and controversies in Christian religion up to our time.

Right off the bat, you should expect me to say this: Most of the biggest controversies arise only in the context of Western assumptions and biases. For example, the Calvinist-Arminian debate would not arise in an ancient Hebrew society. It’s a silly question for them. We are seeking to move closer to the ancient Hebrew intellectual atmosphere and farther from the heathen world-view of the West. Some of these issues I’ll bring up will quickly turn out to be stupid questions. There is such a thing as stupid questions. Not in the sense that asking them is wrong, but that the answer is to ditch the assumptions behind them.

I can’t promise I’ll be posting daily, but I also can’t promise I won’t load you up multiple posts in a single day. It’s that kind of project and I’m that kind of weirdo. If you get bored, just check the title and skip it when you get tired of reading about it. I don’t take myself that seriously, but people have been asking those kinds of questions from time to time. Again, all I can offer is my own answers.

Where you come down on some of this stuff is wide open. My underlying contention is that divine truth cannot be rendered down to logical explanation in the first place. We all need a way of wrestling with the question of what faith demands of us personally, and the purpose God had in giving us brains was to organize and implement what our hearts discern from His Holy Spirit. We are not ancient Hebrew people, so we aren’t going to come up with their explanations. But we can seek to understand how God revealed Himself through their culture, keeping in mind that He engineered that culture as the best way to reveal Himself and His truth for us.

Feel free to keep for your own religion any traditions that bring you closer to God. You still have to deal with who you are now, in order to become who God intended you to be. My intention here is to help you examine by hopefully asking the right questions.

Feel free to ask your own questions so as to help me process it, as well.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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2 Responses to Project: Theological Topics

  1. Dave W says:

    Ed… Looking forward to this and would like to bring a phrase / tag line that the church I attend has recently adopted as its overarching theme. The senior pastor is a former drug/alcohol addict. He recommitted his life to Jesus and has been sober for 25+ years and has a keen focus for those in our community with addiction. The phrase is “God Loves You – No Matter What”. I have also seen and heard this phase several other places in the Christian community.

    Ever since this phase became the tag line for our church it has been unsettling to me. My concern is that in my heart (or maybe its really my head) it just doesn’t seem to line up with the “judgement” and “wrath” that God warns will fall on those who have not “repented” or been chosen.

    I’ll confess here that I am a mechanical engineer that was raised in a very “Western” way and have only awakened to the “heart led” way in the past 5 years. I read and re-read your post yesterday on Atonement yesterday and it was very helpful to me. I am recently retired and attempting to discern the Holy Spirit’s individual calling for me at this new stage in my life. Your prayers would be appreciated. THANKS. – Dave

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  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Good question, Dave. The tagline you cite is accurate enough within the context of your pastor’s use of it. But like most soundbites, the context is easily forgotten and the meaning can shift. The ambiguity of the English word “love” in our culture is a major problem, but an even bigger problem is the use of soundbites and slogans in the first place.

    It’s the same as forgiveness. The issue is not whether God loves those who don’t repent; it’s whether people are laying claim to His love. His love/grace/mercy/forgiveness has your name on it, but if you don’t move to where it stands (never mind why you don’t), you can’t get it. By clinging to the framework of covenant, we establish that God is the Father of us all. He’s not like any father in Western culture, but He remains our Heavenly Father. And if you are banished from the home, you cannot lay claim to any of the comforts of living in His household. You have no leverage to make claims on Him, beyond a small set of promises. Those promises are clearly revealed in the Word via the Law Covenants; they always work even if you are bound for Hell. But the promises of a Faith Covenant, which are implied by what’s in the Law Covenants, are not available without restoring what was destroyed in Eden. Law is communal in nature, but faith is always individual. Law Covenants are broad and impersonal; Faith Covenants are unique to each individual.

    So for most Westerners, the issue is absorbing the distinction between Law Covenants and the Faith Covenant. Our culture simply does not make room for this. And it’s confused by English quotations of Romans 6:14 out of the context of the whole chapter. If we have not come to self-death, then we are under Noah. Our status can be quite varied under Noah, ranging from enemy to household servant. The only thing that matters then is our compliance. Those who reach the point of self-death become children and are handled differently under the Covenant of Faith. The obedience of children varies, but the terminology of spiritual birth in the Bible implies that once your faith has been awakened on that level, there’s no going back to spiritual death.

    Then again, I can testify personally that one can lose that sense of divine Presence, and it’s worse than dying physically. I never lost the sense that He was my Father, but I felt shunned and it was beyond miserable; there are no words for it.

    I really do not like taglines. There is a real danger in plastering stuff on signboards and in pamphlets like that. I might be okay with something that describes what my organization does, so the soundbite “Street Pastor: the church where you are” is okay, but talking about God is more risky without a solid context in which our statements take on meaning.

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