For now, my main concern is that of how Christianity has become so divided by subfactions of theological perspective. The Apostle Paul wrote that it must not be about who follows Apollos or Peter or Paul, that it must be about following Jesus. Essentially, that still seems to be the common thread. Yet other matters seemed to have clouded that memory. Such matters are certainly connected to the Truth, but do not seem to be connected to salvation. This life chapter, this side of heaven, does not necessarily conclude in complete certainty about Truth, but it has enough for redemption, for hope, for love—for eternity. Thank you, Jesus. There is a Gospel to hear, to receive, and to live by. Personally, and traditionally for the universal Christian Church, that has been outlined by the Nicene (c.360 AD) and later the Apostles Creed (c. 390 AD):
We believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Ghost,
We believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen.
Am I wrong in thinking that the ideas outside of that statement of faith are secondary to the living reality of Jesus Christ? Is understanding God's sovereign will more important than believing in God's redeeming love through Jesus? Is God’s justice to be emphasized more than his grace, our sin more than our adoption? Are they all equal? Furthermore, must one fully accept the five points of Reformed theology to be saved? Or is the intellect to be trusted more than the heart?
To return to my attempted point, I welcome Christian leaders like theologians to grapple with the difficult questions in an academic way that most laity cannot or does not pursue. The latter is not a morally wrong thing. The
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . .” (Matthew 6: 9-10).
Meanwhile, greater humility is needed regarding what can be known about God in this life. The world in general could benefit from greater openness to discussion amongst its inhabitants—greater grace amidst disagreement. I have no perfect solutions—except Jesus Christ. In that, I have only the longing to see peace better realized, to see love manifested through the lives of Christ-followers. That is the predominant message that I read in Jesus’ teachings: in YHWH’s relationship with mankind throughout history. Love is not a simple truth. Neither is peace. They are a part of the whole. They are a part of Jesus, of God Himself. There is justice in God’s character. There is even wraith. But there is also grace. There is so much. It confounds the intellect. We must not forget that while such words and concepts are helpful, they are limited as well. Verbal language is limited. It is not the only form of communication. That is why we need the Holy Spirit as well as the Word who is Jesus. That is why we need each other, the holy catholic Church. That is why we need action—works, if you will—along with faith. That is why we need grace. Without grace we are no different than the rest of the world. Active grace. Let us learn from theology, but more importantly let us put the lessons and example of Jesus into practice.
May we find meaning in the hope of our journey toward both understanding and living according to the Gospel of Truth that is Jesus. May we walk alongside some of our theologians. But may we be mindful of our different journeys—our intrinsic limitations—yet united in so much more. To God be all glory. Now and forevermore, amen.