As I have been exiting the “Evangelical Wilderness”, I have been taking stock of where I fit with some of my theological beliefs. Some of the areas where there is variance between what I believe and what others believe are in the table below. I am solidly in the right hand column in all of these topics.
I didn’t always used to be in the right hand column. In fact, the church that I grew up in would have been in the left hand column for five of the six items. It hit me earlier this week that there is a pattern here. The two columns can largely be classified by two words “Orderly” versus “Flexible”. (There may be better synonyms, feel free come up with better categorizations.)
Let’s go through the list and see how they fit this classification.
Inerrancy vs. Inspiration
Granted advocates of Inerrancy also hold to Inspiration. Often they will use the phrase “Plenary Verbal Inspiration”, meaning that the inspiration is fully authoritative, and inspired right down to the choice of words that are chosen. I hold to a view of inspiration that is considerably less strict than that, that God used very human vessels to convey his thoughts, and that these human vessels did not feel at all constrained to shape the words they heard to fit their audience. That is why we see Matthew talking about the “kingdom of Heaven”, while Mark uses the expression “kingdom of God”. Their concern was relaying the message in a way that their hearers could understand and process. As we read through the Gospels I could point out many examples of this.
Calvinism vs. Arminianism
One is rooted in God’s unchanging character and his sovereignty, the other in the response of Human beings.
Cessationist vs. Charismatic
One says that the Holy Spirit no longer gifts people in “charismatic” ways. The other says that that is putting God in a box, and that God can and does choose to gift his people in different ways.
Creationism vs. Theistic Evolution
The first says that all species on this earth were created by God as they exist now during three specific days of a seven day period (Days 3, 5, and 6). The second says that God created life and that that life has constantly evolved and changed over roughly four billion years.
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism
The first points back to created order and that man was created head of the family. The second points to giftedness, and that God may choose to gift people in different ways and that they should serve according to their giftedness.
Liturgical vs. Extemporaneous
The former points to a set order that is to be followed in a cycle with set scripture readings and prayers. The latter looks to variation in worship, though to be honest Extemporaneous is rarely done well and ends up looking like a cheap version of Liturgical. Michael Spencer wrote a whole series on this.
Here is what hit me earlier this week. The differences can be summed up in two letters. “J” and “P”. You may recognize them as the final letters in the Myers Briggs personality type indicator. While Myers Briggs has been somewhat discounted, it got me wondering. Have my theological choices been largely been a product of my personality or personal preferences. Is it just coincidence that many denominations are largely in one column or the other.
Then Wednesday’s Post came along with this humdinger.
Haidt (along with Richard Beck) have convinced me that when we take a stand for “truth” or “morality,” we are primarily revealing deep, fundamental visceral and emotional feelings and then using rational arguments to justify our “righteous” position. Furthermore, those who are on the more “liberal” end of the spectrum react intuitively to different things than those on the “conservative” end. (Chaplain Mike)
Christiane provided us with this amazing quote, and a translation for those who do not come from “la belle province” or “le beau pays”
Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait point.
The heart has its reasons of which the mind knows nothing.
Interpreting this for myself, it makes me wonder if most of my reasons for the theological changes I have made are because of the way I am wired. If I had been wired differently maybe I would have been quite happy to stay in the church of my youth. Conversely, perhaps those who are raised in traditions like the one I am currently in, and who crave certainty in their innermost being end up in those churches that promise more of that. And perhaps there are those who find they do not fit, and chose to chuck the whole church thing altogether.
I added one other row as I was finishing writing this post.
I will call the category “Overarching Guide” for lack of a better word.
Is it no wonder that I say “I like to err on the side of Grace”?
As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.