Thursday, September 10, 2015

Progressive Christianity: Loving People, Loving Theology

I’ve been reading Rachel Held Evans’ book Searching for Sunday. It’s been an enjoyable read (as long as you allow that time I was brought to tears as part of enjoying the book). In this book, as well as her other book that I read, it’s clear: Rachel cares about people. That is really important to her. She looks around her and sees so much hurt, and it bothers her. (I think that her doubts are from her inability to put together such pain with a God who loves.)

My tribe does not have the reputation of caring about people. If anything, Reformed pastors are known for caring about theology. Our claim to fame (or infamy!) is that we are very careful, very precise when it comes to understanding the Bible. I’m guessing that it’s my tribe that Rachel has the hardest time with.

Over the years, Jesus has been teaching me about caring about people and caring for people. I am sure that not all that long ago I would have thrown Rachel’s book against a nearby wall while thinking, ‘She just doesn’t understand the Bible!’ Now, her concerns bring me to tears as I think, ‘Yep, she’s right’.

But I haven’t come to the point of jettisoning theology. I am convinced that there is a way of combining a deep concern for theology and a deep concern for people. In fact, I am convinced that the way that we best care for people is by having a deep concern for theology, by being very careful when it comes to understanding the Bible. And I think this because it describes Jesus.

Does anyone doubt that Jesus cared about the people? That’s really hard to miss. But what can be missed is that Jesus also cared about theology. Consider some things that He said.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (This is part of the Sermon on the Mount.)
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
These are theological comments rooted in a careful understanding of the Bible. And Jesus said them because He cared about people.

So, people like Rachel and people like me need to work together to understand better how to care for people by caring about theology. That’s probably a tall order, but it just seems right.

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