Thursday, 7 May 2009

Isn't Jesus great?

Having just worked through the closing chapters of Roger Olson's Story of Christian Theology I can't help feeling sorry for those who are so taken up with non-biblical theological agendas. That in turn leads me to feel sorry for our pluralistic culture. Have they any idea what they're missing??!!

Like classical liberalism, I could accommodate my faith to the prevailing winds of modern thought and philosophy, and end up with a god who can't perform miracles, and who is rather vague and undefined but is somehow related to humanity who don't need his salvation anyhow. The only thing such theology will inspire as far as I can see is faith in myself and humanity - a false hope if ever there was one.

Like neo-orthodoxy, I could deny that the Bible as such is the Word of God, but that it can become the Word of God when God uses it to speak to me. One thing is for sure though, it isn't propositional truth God is interested in! I'm far from an expert in these things, but although neo-orthodox theologians seem to say many things that are helpful, I don't see how we can know anything with any certainty - total subjectivism and relativism is on the doorstep. So I can only be sure of my faith if I trust my feelings and experiences as the final authority in verifying truth.

Like process theology, I could deny that God is omnipotent and sovereign, but rather that he is a being who is in a relationship with his creation and tries to persuade humanity to live according to his ideas (which would bring peace and harmony), but can't help it when we go our own way and have a holocaust. 'So what good is he against the pervasiveness of evil in the world?' I ask myself. There's no guarantee that life will ever be different from what it is now.

Like liberation theologies, I could accept that the prime purpose of theology is not to ensure we believe the truth, but that we get the right things done - i.e. overthrow injustice in whatever form it rears its head, be that economic, racial, sexist, or whatever. But that is where these theologies seem to stop - they're about getting what I want, and getting it now. That's as far as the seem to understand the Kingdom of God. Is there nothing more other than trying to mop up the mess in our broken world?

Then I turned to Hebrews 1:1-2:4 to prepare for Sunday evening's sermon. What a breath of fresh air! All these theologies put me and us in or very near the centre of things, either directly or indirectly - I am the authority; my happiness is the goal. In contrast, however, the writer to the Hebrews says to us, 'You give me a religious idea or system, and I'll show you how Jesus is far better than it!'

Here is one who is God's final word on the subject. He is the 'exact imprint' of God's nature! How can we know the truth? Look at Jesus - he is the truth (John 14:6). The picture of Christ that the author of Hebrews gives us is beautiful, majestic, inspiring and powerful. But there are implications - if this is true, 'how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?' (2:3). No wonder sinful people like us are so keen to come up with less demanding alternatives. How grateful I am to God, who overthrew my sinful rebellion in order that I may gaze with wonder at the Lord Jesus Christ, and experience the truth that sets me free (John 8:32, 36)!

PS - I can't vouch for the accuracy of the links to 'Theopedia' above - I've only just discovered it myself. But at least it should give an idea of what these movements are about.

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