Through all of my study and research I often continue to come back to this same thought. That is, I am amazed at how many Christians in our Western world have come to accept their view of Christianity as correct and unquestionably perfect. Their view of God has been so systemized into their ideal theology, that all aspects of their Creator and their world fit neatly and intricately in the boxes laid out for them. They have come to a conclusion about all things involved in theology and christology and in doing so have mapped out who God is and how he is to act. In having this topography, they can answer all of life’s deepest and unclear questions (ie :the meaning of life), and arrange their compass to whatever direction they so choose. The world is an open journey, and their demystified God is beside them to help bless the way. This theological arrogance continues to boggle my mind and heart daily.
Christianity in this ideological fashion has no room for out of the ordinary. There is no questioning God and no researching or discovering him in other facets of life. He is solely found in what many call sola-scriptura. This simplicity placates God in a favorable outlook, because they are in and others are not. This philosophy is backed up through their systematic theology, which is further backed up with scripture. Now overall, having a certain understanding of God is not an evil thing, but when one truly comes to believe that he has him figured out, there stems the devilish root.
Is the “Christianity” that we embrace actually Biblical? I know through a much more Eastern Orthodox approach (though I would not label myself that way), that the western view of God and church systems have been influenced much by culture and time. This intermixture of ideological preferences and biblical truth, has produced accepted truth, sometimes far from reality. What time has done in hundreds and thousands of years is create anachronisms in scripture as accepted truth (eg. Tithing, Platonism) and then they become the norm, because all Pastors preach it that way. Then upon hearing this unrealized fallacy, we accept it with clear un-tainted belief. This simple, yet naive, way of Christian life, then creates divides in the faith, when we hear a different way of viewing such a passage. Of course I am not suggesting that every possible interpretation of scripture is relevant, many are ludicrous. But, what I am suggesting that questioning can lead to further understanding of God and the world around you.
Questioning is such a difficult process. One does not have to look far as you view the life of Job to see this as the case. Job, believed in the simple systematic world-view of his day, that if you live righteously for God, you will be blessed. This of course was the case for Job, at least in the beginning, but his world was about to fall apart. Without going into much detail, Job’s world was flipped upside down, and his systematic theology could not relate to his present circumstances. There was no theological box for what he was experiencing, his simple accepted truth, soon became rejected fiction. How could God, who he had figured out, be behind all of this, and if he was not, how could he allow it? This did not fit his system of understanding. Eventually, Job comes to a place where he questions all of it. All his beliefs, his understandings, and ultimately his theology, are on the doorstep of being trashed. It is here after a good thirty some odd chapters, that God finally shows up, and demonstrates how wrong his theological understandings are. In the discourse that takes place; you can almost feel his boxed theology, and and ultimately his world being destroyed as God enters the scene. This enormous creator finally emerges from silence, and this mystical figure who was once boxed, now becomes un-caged and God can finally be free to be who he actually is, at least in the finite mind of Job.
This story, though devastating, has a biblical truth in it, that follows through the entire flow of scripture. Job is believed to be the first book of the Bible written, and from here to the end of scripture, there is an over-arching principal seen. That is the sacredness of questioning. Whether it be in the life of Abraham, or all the way to Jesus questioning God before his death. Questioning our understanding and conceptualized systematic theology is not only healthy, it can lead us to a new fresh realized comprehension of the almighty. This process is well known by the Psalmist’s and I have discussed the book of Psalms in greater detail previously in other blogs. This art as I would call it, can lead one from an isolated ideological perspective of life, to an open-minded freeing experience that one can barely describe.
The Western mindset involved in Christianity, does not allow one to study history, philosophy, and other aspects of life, and discover theological truths that exist not found in scripture. The West created a dichotomy of sacred versus secular and doing so emerged a world of realized modernity. Though many have moved into a post modern world and beyond, some still cling to a life that involves God only in his safe sphere of the sacred. Such an idea when weighed against scripture would not only seem invalid, but insane. All of life is viewed as sacred in scripture. There was no separation, even in the modern Roman world that Paul and Jesus lived, the non-Jews would have that same belief. No division existed, all of life, philosophy, religion, science, mathematics and so on was entirely seen as the same. They were all unique paths that ultimately involved all of life. Such an idea as a secular pursuit such as science in today’s world, would be seen as theology in the world of old. The divide was not there, so the questioning of the East (that still exists today), was just a normal way of life, a normal path to pursue when following a god.
This ancient, yet present practice, I wholeheartedly believe needs revisiting. Reestablishing this ancient practice can help many move beyond their realized limitation on God and allow a new orientation of life to develop, one filled with awe and wonder. God is God and limitations and boxed systematic theology stop allowing him to be what he could be in our lives. So question; so study; God is infinitely unknown, and your comprehension of him, is most likely far from the truth.