Does lack of ‘debate’ hurt our theology?

We just started a new series of adult Bible classes entitled “Seeing God Through Romantic Relationships”.  In the first lesson (listen here), one statement got me to thinking about whether or not our (apparent) reticence to ‘debate’ (or discuss) our theological imperatives actually does a disservice, both to us and to those who don’t know the gospel.  In the past, debates about various distinctive elements of a particular ‘brand’ of spirituality served to (to some degree anyway!) provide a way for people to learn about why we believe what we believe.  With our desire to avoid confrontation (and, perhaps even, to avoid controversy), these discussions have waned in the past 30 years or so.

My impression (certainly not necessarily supported by any research) is that, especially among kids and recent converts, many don’t have a firm understanding of core principles of their faith.  In particular, many would have a hard time trying to defend what they believe in a logically sound manner (whether what they believe is right or not).

Moreover, God is not afraid of doubt.  In some ways, it seems that we try to avoid some of these ‘controversial’ subjects out of fear that perhaps we might provide a ‘stumbling block’ (cf. Romans 14:13) for those whose faith isn’t as firm.  This seems like a cop out, because those who honestly look at the evidence will find that their faith is increased (improved?) by merely looking more closely.  In these situations, God, through the Holy Spirit, draws us closer to him and reveals more about himself.

I’m not advocating a return to the “bad old days” of debating others to simply prove a point of very little theological value (those that aren’t core to our relationship with God through Jesus Christ), but rather an examination of what we believe and why we believe it, including the evidence that supports it.  For example, baptism is often touted as the ‘pinnacle’ of a believer’s conversion experience.  But, in fact, it is merely the starting point (or one of the starting points!) toward growth into a mature faith.  In comparing baptism to a wedding celebration (the concept suggested by F. LaGard Smith in Baptism: The Believer’s Wedding Ceremony (out of print)), no one would claim that the ‘hard part’ is over when we enter the day-to-day living with our spouse after the wedding ceremony and the same is true for our relationship with God after baptism.

Psalm 23 for the 21st Century

It seems that our lives are lived (maybe that’s not even the right word!) at an ever faster pace. In this satirical (or is it parody?) take on Psalm 23, Marcia Hornok gives us some insight into the toll that busyness is taking on us, as individuals and a society.  Psalm 23, often called the shepherd psalm, itself gives a picture of rest in God’s protection, which makes the irony of this version even greater.

The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down only when exhausted.
It leads me to the deep depression, it hounds my soul.
It leads me in circles of frenzy for activities’ sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task,
I will never get it all done, for my “ideal” is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines, my in-basket over-flows.
Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

Celtic Work Blessing

Many of us spend a good deal (perhaps most!) of our waking moments at work. Work should not just be a means to an end (making money), but instead we need to consider our work as part of our daily worship to God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul exhorts us to do everything “to the glory of God”. And recently, there has been a movement for us to be missionaries in our own workplace.

In consideration of this, I found this Celtic work blessing to be both inspirational and practical. Enjoy!

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work that you do
with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you
and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.