Michael Spencer’s post today at his blog, internetmonk.com, prompted a good little discussion on the nature of blogging, fisking and the discussion of theology, which often (usually) trespasses into areas of personal faith and belief. Because theology (man’s attempts to understand God) impacts in a very real way how we interact with God and accept how God wants to interact with us, discussions about theology should never be thought of as purely intellectual exercises.
As I pointed out in a comment on that post, when we are confronted with some different thinking on a theological issue, it provokes us to think the issue through in light of our own theological framework. Often that process appears as a challenge or a critique, which of course it is. From the standpoint of the reader, you can choose to critique something based on a theological framework (e.g. “it’s not Reformed, so it’s wrong”), or you can challenge yourself and your theology in the process. Often my responses to things start out, “I don’t think so, because…” This could sometimes be seen as being “critical,” which is a no-no in some circles, or it could be understood as thinking out loud from another perspective. When I think of it, I do try to indicate that’s what I’m doing. Sometimes.
This week I have been provoked in a good way by a couple of posts on i-monk on the localization of Jesus. The first post was titled Where’s Jesus?: Thoughts on a Locally Available Christ (a brilliant title) and asked the question, “Where can you get your Jesus?.” As the title implies, the post discusses the concept of trying to make Jesus – or see Jesus as – more present in one place than another. Examples include the “Real Presence” at Communion and concepts like God “showing up” at a certain church. While not denying that there is truth in some of these concepts, Michael proposes:
Presenting Christianity as a system of localized appearances of Jesus distorts many things that we want to continually affirm: Jesus as the one mediator, Jesus as the ascended Lord of the universe, Christ who is in the midst of his church and present with all of his people. Maintaining the Biblical balance between “Jesus on the table,” “Jesus in my experience” and “Jesus at the right hand of the Father is a crucial task for worship leaders, pastors and teachers.
In a follow up post, he discusses what he calls a sacramental view of reality. While not everyone would agree with his thinking or his language, what he presents is a great tool for examining how we see God’s presence in our lives, and how we function as churches. It would be nice, would it not, if we spent less time in church talking about how we could make our lives better, and spent more time recognizing the presence of God around us?
My friend Ken writes a couple of posts dealing with similar issues here and here.
On that note, I’ll sign off. Stay tuned for an upcoming post discussing another of the i-monk’s thought-provoking articles, this one on transactionalism, entitled Out of Business With God.