I received a message a while back asking about my qualifications to express my faith opinions on my blog since I didn’t possess a theological degree.
Why should you or anyone else pay any attention to my faith opinions on this blog?
Someone asked me that a while back. Oddly enough, I wasn’t really offended by the question. More than anything else, I was amused by it.
Surely, the answer the person who asked the question — because he disagreed with me on one faith issue or another — is that I’m not qualified to talk about faith if the sole measure of qualification is possessing a theological degree.
But that’s a double-edged sword.
The person who asked me that question didn’t have a divinity degree, either. He wasn’t a pastor.
By his own definition, he wasn’t qualified to question my beliefs any more than he thought I was to simply state mine. And, should the obvious not be clear, I’m in no way clamoring to stand on stage at a church to state my faith opinions: I state them here on my own blog.
I think that’s a pretty distinct difference.
So why should you trust what I have to say about faith as, pardon the expression, the gospel?
No one said you should.
I’m leaning toward a category inside the faith community that has been conveniently labeled — because we just have to label everything these days — “Progressive Christianity.”
You can look up the definition for yourself.
It seems that Progressive Christianity’s most prominent pastors — people who do have the educational qualifications to talk about faith — are almost always under attack from more conservative Christians. In some cases, it seems conservatives are more ready to attack Progressive Christians than they are non-believers.
The other day, I heard a pastor put it geographically, and I’ll have to paraphrase what he said: People who live in Ottumwa, Iowa are just as much Americans as people who live in San Francisco, California. They’re very different places, and in some cases, very different ways of life. But they’re all Americans, even if people in Ottumwa feel San Francisco is a completely alien world. (Or vice versa.)
I can’t agree with some of the things certain conservative Christians say. Some of it just doesn’t ring true to me any longer.
You can convince yourself that there’s something somehow wrong with my faith and my walk with Christ.
But if, in doing so, you close your mind to even the miniscule possibility that it might be your faith and your walk where the problem actually exists, that should give you pause.
I don’t hate those who disagree with me. I hope there comes a day when we’re “up there” standing before God as a group and he looks at all of us, patiently shaking His head, and says, “You know, every single one of you was so determined to have it your way instead of Mine…but I can see you thought you were doing what was right. Welcome home.”
I’d really like to believe that if God knows our hearts, He knows when we’re trying our best to do what’s right.
I talk about faith from time to time on this blog because I hope to make people stop and think once in a while about what that means.
I don’t anticipate that I’ll change the opinions of those who’ve dug in their heels over certain faith opinions. At the very least, though, I hope that I can at least demonstrate to others who don’t share those opinions that not everyone does.
And in a discussion on faith, that ought to be okay. That’s certainly better, after all, than blindly believing with the crowd out of fear of asking questions. That’s not how you grow.
There are some people who won’t accept any post on faith unless there’s a bonafide Bible verse in it. For them, I offer this from 1 Thessalonians 5: 19-21:
Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Your disagreement with someone else’s “prophetic” conclusions doesn’t automatically make theirs “evil.”
That’s something we all need to keep in mind, whether we’re conservative or progressive.
In faith and in a lot of other areas, too.