Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Degrading Nature of Popular Theology

I'm consistently astounded by the ridiculousness of people's devotion, not to the Bible (oh, if that were only true for those that so often profess it), but to theology that is either created in their own mind, or one that is based on extrapolating dogmas from bits of Greek philosophy and Biblical verses strung together out of context (or sometimes just downplayed or exaggerated). Honestly it just makes me sad to see so many people eventually disenfranchised by a theology not only unable to reconcile real life events with their doctrines, but also unable to explain the very nature of their doctrines in ways that do not employ a string of logical fallacies.

Mostly I find myself in conflict with people who follow a John Piper version of neoreformism. Piper has amazing skills to mobilize people and deliver an emotion evoking message. But largely I think that he is a fear monger...one who exclaims that we should fall on our faces and repent because God would be justified if he dropped a building on us. One person I know exclaimed that we cannot understand God's love until we understand His wrath.

This issue presses into thoughts about the future, the validity of talking to God, but most of all...what the character and attributes of God actually are, as directly written about in the Scriptures or literally exemplified in Scripture, which should be our founding 'tradition' and revelation concerning God and His history with humanity.

OK, so why do I think that Reformed Theology is ridiculous? Because it has to pass off certain scriptures as merely anthropomorphisms concerning God and thus not literal descriptions of God's character or actions. So, they will play down verses like, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." But emphasize verses like, "There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God." These two verses are easily reconciled if you take them in context...but to the reformed theist, God is the only one who can make you seek Him (ie...God makes you seek God), and only God can make you pray things that are in His will (ie...God prays to Himself through you).

God is loving: As my friend stated, you can only understand God's love if you understand His wrath. That seems in stark contrast to the Bible that states that it is God's kindness that leads to repentance. Reform theists seem to advocate a God of wrath and retribution for our sinfulness...one that causes tsunamis to kill thousands, one that pulls buildings over on people, and one that justifies the slaughter of people practicing things not Christianity. They seem to say that if we only understood his wrath against our sin and why he stands ready to topple buildings on people...that we would see the love behind His reconciling us to Himself via Christ. Yeah...so loving.

God is forgiving: Yes...but not for you. Reformed theist believe that you cannot seek God (as I stated earlier), because your nature is so corrupt that it is impossible. Therefore God Himself has to change your heart and make you come to Him. There can be none of your own choice in the matter, because then there is something about your salvation that you could boast about. So...God alone draws people to Himself...which means that only those who are saved were the only ones that God bothered to draw. After all, if God is doing all the work of salvation and God is all powerful, then why are not all people saved?