In the last post I talked about why I needed to study theology.
The line of thought that led to that post, and now to this one, was opened up from a conversation I had with my friend, Tad Cunning. We were talking theology as well as talking about studying theology.
We both agreed, I think, that while studying theology has been important for both us it has also been difficult and in some senses dangerous.
Studying theology requires deconstruction. Deconstruction of faith. Deconstruction of presuppositions. Deconstruction of hermeneutics. And much more.
This is not comfortable.
Would you be ready to learn that things you treasured may very well be mistaken in significant ways, if not totally incorrect?
Would you be ready to find out that how you approach the Bible may be, at the very at least, naive; at the very worst, dangerous?
Theology may require this of you.
Theology required it of me.
It was dangerous.
It was exhilarating.
I got deconstructed.
I still am undergoing this (much of what studying theology did for me has worked itself out post-graduation).
I don’t read the Bible the same way anymore.
I don’t understand it as “God’s instruction manual for life” or understand it as some book of divine facts about everything under the sun from topics such gardening, or dating, or marriage, or youth participation in our churches. It is not that book.
Sometimes opinions are presented that suggest if one part of the Bible gets challenged or demonstrated to be historical questionable then it all goes out the window. For example, if Job didn’t exist, then Jesus will disappear soon! This is wrong, wrong, wrong. The Bible is a better book than that.
It is a narrative told from many different perspectives, in many different ways, with many different types of literature, from many different times and we need to appreciate it all and let it all speak as its time, date, place, genre and culture would have it. It doesn’t all make sense, some of it is just plain weird but it points to Jesus and he is compelling.
How I read the Bible affects a lot now.
My view of human origins is not trapped to a flat understanding of Genesis as literal, historical accounts of events – evolution sits happily on my table.
I don’t follow traditional understandings of much popular theology anymore on topics such as heaven, hell, the who’s and what’s of salvation.
I am getting my head closer to understanding just a bit of how immensely loving and self-limiting God is and that the atonement does not display an angry, condemning God but something else entirely.
Theology offered space for lots of stuff that needed challenged to be challenged.
This was not comfortable.
I questioned aspects of the Christian faith before theology.
I ask questions more and more often now.
I live with questions.
I don’t expect answers.
Questions that I know I will, more than likely, never get answers to.
Yet I wake up every morning confronted with the gracious, loving, world transforming and challenging person of Jesus, who invites me into his collective, and he is compelling and that is enough for me.