Monday, July 11, 2011

Jesus Meets Socrates

I'm convinced that one of the biggest problems within the Christian Church is a lack of thought.  Not the kind of thought that most of us engage in on a day to day basis, but deep contemplative thought.  The kind of thought that births creativity and allows the imagination to run wild.  In fact, this is the very foundation upon which Naked Theology was built.

The Church Fathers and other great theologians were also deep thinkers and contemplative philosophers.  Ambrose, Athanatsius, St. Augustine, Clement, Ignatius, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Francis of Assisi all built their theology, not only on their interpretation of scripture, but the deep thought that followed.  Even modern theologians such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were not afraid to dig deeply into the mysteries of God.    

Think about the times that you have run across a subject on which the Bible seems to be totally silent.  Are there areas on which you wish scripture expounded more or expanded?  Specifically in the New Testament, are there topics that you find yourself wishing that Jesus would have addressed directly, but doesn't seem to?  Are there cryptic or difficult to understand passages that you wish contained just a few more verses to help you understand it more clearly?  Have you ever read a verse and thought to yourself, "What?!  I have no freaking clue what this means!"

Now, before I go any further, let me say that I firmly believe that the Bible is completely sufficient for guidance on every and all aspects of life.  There are obviously some areas that the Bible does not directly address, such as modern cultural topics, but in studying similar issues and parallel passages, it is possible to translate a particular passage and find what you need to know in most modern contexts  There are also areas on which the Bible is vague and some passages that are very difficult to understand.  It's significant to remember that while the Bible was just as much written for people in 2011, it was written by people that lived in a very different time, a very different culture and in many areas of life, thought very differently than we do.     

I get asked theological questions fairly frequently, and since I've been to seminary, some people automatically deduce that I have all the answers.  Well, sometimes I have an answer, but not as often as I would like to admit.  There are quite a few instances where I have to plead ignorance or pull the old, "Let me get back to you on that one" while I go and ask someone more knowledgeable on the respective topic than me.  In fact, there are times when I feel that I know less after seminary than I did before...the more I read and learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.  And times when I feel like a complete idiot.

But one thing that I have learned is that while the Bible is meant to read and teach, it is just as important to be meditated on and pondered over.  It's meant to be philosophized upon, discussed and written about.  It's meant to have music written from it, art created from its influence and poetry to be inspired from it.  God doesn't just want us to mechanically read and regurgitate what we learn from scripture, but He wants us to use our hearts as well as our minds.  The early Church Fathers weren't afraid to gaze toward Heaven, and ask the tough meditative questions.  In fact, this is how many of our Church doctrines came into existence.        

When was the last time that you read a favorite passage and found yourself asking, "What if....?"  "I know that Jesus doesn't address this issue directly, but if he did, what would He have said?  How would He have handled this?"  "If Matthew, Mark, Luke or John would have been inspired to write another passage on this topic, what would they have said?"   

So, here's what I need your help with.  Do some thinking and ask yourself these questions?   

1.  What are some issues on which the Bible seems to be silent?    

2.  Have you ever found yourself thinking, "I've read this verse over and over, and have no clue what it means.  I've even asked several pastors about it, but no one seems to know or be able to explain it to me."  Tell me about it. 

3.  Have you ever thought, "I wish Jesus went deeper on this issue.  I understand what He's saying, but I feel like I need more."  What was the issue? 

I'll be compiling your comments and using your input for my book.  I'll also be posting short excerpts as the writing progresses.  Looking forward to hearing what you have to say, and more importantly, what you "think"!

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