Saturday, April 12, 2008

Theology

Currently listening to: Hail, mighty man of valor
Currently watching: David's mighty men
Currently thinking about: How I am seven feet away from a crisis of faith.

To be more precise, seven feet past. And I'm wearing it on my sleeve like a cuff link. This can happen when theology takes a vacation and theophanies are too few and far between.

Can we conjure up for a moment the place where things were a little more effortless and innocent? Before paid pastors purposefully disqualified themselves from ministry by downloading filthy images onto the church computer. The same computer in the sanctuary that controls the power point presentation of the Sunday morning worship hits.

The time I am referring to was called idealism. It was absolute and sure. As solid as gun-ship gray paint and obsidian. When a man could both speak in tongues and have the proper interpretation without causing a ruction. When you could play an acoustic guitar through a chorus pedal whilst rocking a neon yellow nylon guitar strap in tapered jeans. In the age of prudence the word "revival" meant something else entirely and you could count on a slide show when the missionaries came to your church. This assurance confessed a disdain for Mormons, profane cartoons and the new age in a simple and soft cadence.

I remember idealism with great fondness. Bible memorization was a lot easier then. The outward signs of an inward grace told everyone that believers had the market cornered on good works stricter than the roman siege at Masada. I remember commenting to my father that even should a non-believer perform a noble act of mercy it would only actually glorify their father the devil. He looked at me with both disappointment and trepidation as I'm sure he was wondering what they were indoctrinating me with at the Pentecostal church's youth group. The entire parade of the unfaithful was easily characterized. They had an affection for secular music and recreational drugs.

A desert be no desert if Christ is there with him - Matthew Henry

She was tall like a broomstick and didn't trust the septuagint. Although, she didn't know about the septuagint, Jerome's vulgar latin translation or even Martin Luther hiding out from the Pope and turning the gospel of Luke into German. She certainly didn't know about John Wycliffe and his posse the Lollards. Or that the Morning star of the reformation having already been martyred and buried, was exhumed so they could torch him all over again. I don't really even remember this girls name but I do recall how I felt when she confided that she could never believe because that the words of the bible certainly lost their luster and perfection as they were changed from one language to the next. An argument not based of her strong volition or the want to sin without remorse, but born in thoughtfulness and a naive etymology. I on the other hand was an evangelist charged with conveying a gospel not much more complex than what my t-shirt might say. I explained to my gangley friend that although there might be some textual issues in the book of Psalms, and a thing or two different between the KJV and the NIV it was a actually quite a masterpiece of precision. The Pentecostal church's youth group* had taught me that even if a cyclone had attacked a junkyard and the debris miraculously built a printing press, those were still better odds than the bible evolving into what it is. She did not seem to follow this logic nor my clever illustrations and remained unconvinced. I sometimes think that today, besides having tall children she is probably comfortable in her agnostic understanding while I continue to reel in my uncertainty.

Mark 8:34-35 (NIV) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." - Jesus of Nazereth

Intellectual suicide. Now I blog about what could have been. If I'd gotten out my thesaurus years ago and hadn't spent so much time reading about Carl Erskine and the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers I might have come to grips a lot earlier with my theology (or how I think about God's relationship with me and the rest of the galaxy.) I'm stuck. My crisis is mine alone and not answered by someone with a patent on exegesis or some guy with clunky glasses, the midrash and post-modernism. I'm stuck beyond certainty. I need signs and wonders and scientific foundations. I need a visitation and to lose all my self-interest. I'm vain and totally defeated. I want my friend idealism to come walking off the plane into the terminal. Fresh with souvenirs to remind me where he went. This isn't going to happen. He died in the crisis. Now I'm left with something much more uncomfortable; reality, revelations and relativism. I think about my disciples and if they need to know these truths to... But I don't know how to break it to them. Do you?

Jason lives with his wife and son in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. He enjoys running and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His first book, "Songs about my dreams" will be released independently in 2009.

* All above references to the "Pentecostal church's youth group" do not necessarily reflect the authors true experiences.

2 comments:

Steve Oberg said...

Ah, the good ol' days when we knew everything. I am with you - I feel your pain.

royzoner said...

Idealism only lasts for a couple of years, then we get to work on the good stuff. when you look back (or in my case, read your post) idealism keeps us trapped in an unreal world and may create false expectations-- if there's no work or discipline to reach the idealistic expectation. And even when there is that discipline, its easy to become a zealot.

i remember taking a BB gun to all my old LP's, in the name of Jesus. Back then I thought Jesus may have been disappointed that I didn't burn them all in one go. Now I think He wouldn't have minded some old Hall & Oates and Blondie to be played as an act of worship.

heck maybe i am being overly idealistic in saying this, my idealism just shifting from the right to left. I am going to go repent now and read the KJV.