Grace Emerges

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chap. 8, "A Moderate Wall" Blogbook

A Moderate Wall

a blogbook by Brad Duncan

Chapter 8

The Role of Theology

The role of the theology is to answer our man questions about God, in a way that we can live in knowledge of God as humans, properly relating to God, living the best life possible, and growing to spiritual maturity.

As I described in the previous chapter, theology answers the main questions about God.  These can be rephrased as:
  1. How does God view mankind?
  2. How should people view and relate to God?
  3. What is evil?  And how should people react to evil without and corruption within?  How does God redeem us from evil?
  4. What is good?  And how can people do good to live in a right way in God's eyes?
  5. What is true?  What is God's wisdom?  What should we believe?  Where does truth come from?
  6. How should God's children treat one another?
  7. What is heaven?  What is the eternal impact of our relationship with God?  
As God's creation, we are like God in being multi-faceted.  We have a spiritual component of self, that we know very little about, but which leads us to connect to God and to answer these questions.  These questions are life for us.  Everything else is just the daily work of living, but connections to God and other people are what we really consider as "life".  And theology is about people as well as God.  Good and evil, truth and love, evangelism and mission refer to how people act with regard to one another, not just in regard to God.  As they say, "no man is an island".  Spirituality is about connection.

So, theology give us truth, and we build our spiritual life upon it.

From Theology to Bricks

In the Parable of the Golden Bricks (Chapter 1), I proposed the concept that God has revealed truth  throughout the ages in the form of Golden Bricks, key principles that we could build our lives upon.  I also proposed the concept that man's bricks were also created based on human ideas.  The bricks co-existed.  Together they were used to build religions and define the relationship between God and man.  

So what are these bricks?  Let's look at concepts that make up the subjects of Christian theology, and that we use to build our religious structure.  Here is a random sampling of them:

Bricks in the Theology Wall:

grace judgment reward punishment salvation redemption faith humility trust acceptance dependence righteousness worship repentance justification atonement freedom renewal responsibility transformation obedience authority discipline submission surrender truth honesty wisdom knowledge ideals values kindness mission peace compassion vision evangelism defending convincing winning life contentment joy investment commitment relationship treasure reward eternity

These bricks that I have listed represent many of the higher concepts in the Bible and in our belief system.  Many others could be added to this wall.  They seem to be good, important and structurally sound.  The wall should hold together well, built with these bricks.  Almost all of them are generally good things, like grace and faith.  A few of them catch your eye as being not so good, but probably necessary, like judgment and punishment.  And a few others are in-between, like evangelism, winning and defending, they can be positive or negative depending on how they are used and how far they are taken.  In the moderate mindset, these types of values, represented in these bricks, live in careful balance.  They are heavily defended, but also carefully defined.  They create a thin delicate line in the sand that cannot be crossed.

Looking at this wall of bricks, does it look familiar?  Is it comfortable territory for you?  Do you readily know what to do with most of these concepts, how to define them and place them in such as way that they form a structure around your faith?  Do they define your interaction with God?  Do they help define who is "in" and who is "out"?  Do they help you decide how to treat others?

Picking Some Bricks

In order to dissect the moderate wall, I will pick some representative bricks that address the main questions about God.  Not only are these bricks representative, they also form opposing pairs, creating a kind of paradox in our theology.  Here are the bricks I want to discuss:

How does God view mankind?

Paradox 1: grace vs. judgment

How should people view and relate to God?

Paradox 2: trust vs. righteousness

What is evil? 

Paradox 3: repentance vs. justification

What is good? 

Paradox 4: transformation vs. obedience

What is true?  

Paradox 5: wisdom vs. knowledge

How should God's children treat one another?

Paradox 6: kindness vs. evangelism

What are heaven and eternity?   

Paradox 7: freedom vs. reward

Intrigued yet?  I'll explore each question and paradox in the following chapters. These bricks will help us understand and possible deconstruct the Moderate Wall.