I have been doing Everyday Theology for the almost 3 years. I love it. Of all my projects, it is my favorite.
As I continue my transition from being a local church minister (only) to an academic and a public theologian – things will necessarily need to change.
There are four changes that I just wanted to “get out on the table” to talk about what is going on behind the scenes or what is driving this conversation from my side.
Here are the four things:
- I believe that almost everything about the Christian faith needs to be updated for the world that we live in. The first implication is that
- we have to get rid of words like “supernatural”
- I need to start quoting people by name for accountability and credibility
- there are some big and/or fancy words that I need to get comfortable using. I will always try to define and explain things as we go – but some of these words are too good and too helpful to continue not using them.
Number one is obvious. There is no aspect of our lives that has gone unchanged in the last 2000 years. From basic things like food and sex to more complicated things like politics and economics , everything has changed.
It’s not that these things have changed entirely – it’s that nothing has gone entirely unchanged.
Religion is in this category. Christianity, both in it’s revealed nature (revelation) and it’s organization (religion) has evolved, adapted, and transformed immensely. I think that is a good thing. The only thing about it that is not good is that some believe that is has not changed or that it isn’t suppose to change. That is where the problem comes.
In the coming month I will be floating some thoughts about prayer, biology and reading the Bible in light of these necessary and good changes.
The second thing is an immediate casualty. There are many things that are gained by updating, but there will also be some things that get sacrificed in the transition. This involves moving away from the supernatural.
I do not believe in the supernatural. I still believe in miracles – just not in the supernatural. Neither the word or the idea is in the Bible and it is really hurting us in the post-modern (and modern) world.
sidenote: the fact that most people do not know how that is possible shows how limited our conversation has been around this issue.
What we call the super-natural is really just left over language from the pre-natural mindset of ancient times. I believe that God’s work in the world in the most natural thing in the world. It is not SUPER-natural, which really means UN-natural. It is just natural. Everything is natural. Praying for someone to be healed is natural. Someone who you are in relationship giving you their car when they hear about your need is natural.
It might be miraculous (surprising to us) but it is not super-natural or un-natural. It is just natural. It is how God works. [if you want to read something similar that I wrote about discerning God’s will click here]
The third change is quoting people. I have avoided this for three years because sometimes people are scared off by name dropping as it can seem too academic or highbrow. I think that avoiding author’s and expert’s names has been the right decision up to this point, but that continuing to do so will be limiting. For both accountability and credibility I need to make this change. I know that some people will be turned off by it – but hopefully we can meet in the middle!
The fourth change is using some multi-syllable words. I have avoided this for the same reason as I have avoided quoting authors. But the simple fact is that this conversation is framed by some ideas that are encapsulated in good words. I need to become proficient is using these words well and being comfortable explaining them and integrating them. I will try to do this with clarity and caution – not for the sake of using the $10 word, but for reasons that it propels the conversation forward in a good and helpful direction.
I just wanted to clear the air. Two main points A) as I continue to learn and translate and participate in public theology, I wanted to show my cards so that everyone knew where I was coming from. B) Sometimes people push back on me (which I enjoy) but are surprised that I don’t just repeat the same ‘apologetics’ answers that I learned in Bible College (Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Ravi Zacharias, etc.)
I want to be really clear about what I am doing. I am participating in a great global conversation about updating the faith for the 21st century that is both:
- in continuity with the historical christian tradition
- relevant and has accounted for the realities of the world in which we live
If you want to check out the kind of thing I am after check out this article by F. Leron Shultz [link]