Grace Emerges

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chap. 7, "A Moderate Wall" Blogbook

A Moderate Wall

a blogbook by Brad Duncan

Chapter 7

Our World View

What is the role of theology in determining our view of ourselves and the world? How are we using our basic views of God and the world we live in to construct doctrines, interpret the Bible, and define our identity? Theology is extremely important because it sets the stage with basic assumptions and beliefs that we then build our world upon. Our churches are built on theology in such an integral way, that if our theology were to change, our churches would change. In practical terms, we often treat others the way that we think God treats us. So emulate the character of God. So our theology determines our attitudes and behavior.

Consider how these subjects that are addressed by theology:
  • our view of God, and of how God views us
  • how that leads us to view one another
  • our view of the Bible and its role in revealing God
  • our view of Jesus and his role in revealing God
  • our view of redemption
  • our view of spiritual reality, our concepts of Earth, universe, Heaven and Hell

These are the subjects form our view of our existence. Our human world view, and our spiritual world view. Once we have established this world view, we can only see God through it, and not ever around or above it. If we have some unjustified ideas in this world view, but defend them as being necessary and solid, then we can easily construct a world that is nicely put-together but just too simple, too methodical, too modern, too rigid. It explains everything nicely, but it has no room for research, for expansion, for listening. Do we really know everything there is to know? Can we really pin God down and say “that settles it”? Do we really know what we know? I’m not claiming that all truth is unknowable and out of reach, but what I am claiming is that if truth depends on a living, passionate being far more creative and intelligent than us, then we do not know everything. Truth comes from God. Truth is within God. God’s will is just that - the choices of a dynamic personality. We cannot properly construct a map of God’s identity, God’s plans and God’s view of us and sin, unless we leave giant flexible gaps that allow God to, well, be God, and make his or her own decisions! We just can’t nail God down. The single biggest mistake we make when constructing our world view is settling out inflexible truths and building walls with them. We don’t leave any room for the possibility that these truths may be wrong. Then we don’t see that what we've built is a flawed assembly of God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom. It stands for both good things, like God’s love, and corrupt things like man’s power and control over his enemies.

The Main Questions

Of course just by stating these things so strongly, I am declaring my own view of truth, and I am aware of the potential irony. While I do believe in deconstruction, the removal of assumptions behind widely held truths, I also believe in reconstruction, building a way of understanding that can stand up honestly with its assumptions exposed. In my view, we can construct a useful and honest theology about God, based on what God has revealed. Like the people of Kog, we can build a Bridge of Peace over the rubble left from our assumptions. This type of honest theology can successfully face these tough questions about the nature of God and man:
  • God’s view of man: How does God view mankind, and what does that imply about our relationship with God?
  • Man’s view of God: How should man view God and relate to God? What is man’s response to knowledge of God?
  • Man’s view of evil, sin, and redemption from corruption: How should man view the evil that so evidently is present in the world? How does man view God’s role in the struggle of good vs. evil? And how does man change, being redeemed from corruption within himself?
  • Man’s view of good: How should man do good? What good things should he do? What is good? What are right spiritual practices? In theology this is often called orthopraxy - and means the practical things that we do because of our beliefs in and about God.
  • Man’s view of truth and wisdom: What is right and true? What is God’s wisdom and how is it understood? What do we believe? What is the role of wisdom vs. knowledge, and faith vs. belief, having truth vs. being right? In theology this is often called orthodoxy - and means the set of beliefs that we hold true in and about God.
  • Man’s view of man: In light of our view of God, how should we act toward our fellow man? What are the principles of right treatment and right behavior? What is our vision, mission, and purpose in the world around us, given what we believe about God?
  • Man’s view of eternity and spirituality: What do we believe about our place in the universe? What is Earth, Heaven and Hell in God’s view of all things? What is our eternal relationship with God, and how do we participate in the spiritual reality while living as humans?

The Role of Love

It is interesting to note that the word “love” was not mentioned above in these tough questions of perspective of man and God. And yet the concepts of love are everywhere in these questions, as shown below:

  • God’s view of man: God loves humans
  • Man’s view of God: Humans love God
  • Man’s view of evil, sin, and redemption from corruption: Humans stop doing bad things out of love for God
  • Man’s view of good: Humans change and do good things out of love for God
  • Man’s view of truth and wisdom: Humans understand truth only by seeing through God’s eyes of love
  • Man’s view of man: Humans loves others, “Love one another” is the singular command
  • Man’s view of eternity and spirituality: God and mankind in an eternal loving relationship

One way to attempt to shed old assumptions and reconstruct our beliefs on firm ground is to base our understanding of God more prominently on the life of Christ, and view the role of Jesus as a guide to God’s character, God’s will, and God’s relationship with mankind. Since Jesus is God, when we follow Jesus we are emulating the character of God! We are doing good, we are doing right. We are building what God is building. We are fighting what God is fighting. We can simplify the role of theology as being the guidance on how we should believe and act, to be like God ourselves, by following Christ in the way of love. Certainly building on love will create a solid foundation that will stand the test of time. And whatever we build on love will lead only to peace with others.

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