My theology received a compliment the other night when I spent time with a pastor who is in the process of starting a new church in my area.
When it comes to our Christian worldviews, no two are exactly alike. My theology might work for me but may not work for you. I’m sure yours wouldn’t necessarily work for me, either.
Even when we base our opinions and our values as closely as we can with the Bible, there will always be disagreement. After all, the same Bible that teaches of the love of Jesus Christ was used by some to justify things like slavery and criminalizing interracial marriage.
While visiting with this pastor and hearing his vision for the church he plans to start in the Holy City, (which is Charleston’s nickname), we talked about a variety of hot-button topics.
One of them was women in the church.
I told him about a church I used to attend whose policy was clear: a woman would never have the title “pastor.”
They based this notion on the writings of Paul who wrote that he never allowed women to hold positions of authority over men. This extended, of course, into the church as well.
But this same church allows women to deliver the message on Sunday mornings and to function in other ways in the exact same way men who would carry a “pastor” title would.
A woman who might run the children’s programs would be called a “director,” while a man who does the same functions would be referred to as a “pastor.”
I honestly don’t think God is stupid. I honestly don’t think He’s fooled by those kinds of semantics.
My theology happens to tell me that there are plenty of women out there who know more about the Bible than I probably ever will. Therefore, I’d be the idiot to refuse to listen to what they’d have to say just because of their gender.
Another issue was homosexuality.
June is Pride Month which is designed to celebrate the contributions of the LGBTQ community. I find Pride Month — and the whole Pride movement, in fact — has come something of an unnecessary wedge between the gay and straight communities. But that’s a post for another day.
When the subject of homosexuality came up, I told him I can’t accept the argument that many Christians who happen to be gay use: that God “made them that way.”
I’ve written about this before. I don’t think homosexuality is a choice. In fact, I think the straight people who make such a claim are out of their mind. Given the way the LGBTQ community is still treated by the mainstream, there’s no logical reason anyone would choose that.
I understand the desire to characterize one’s sexual orientation, then, as being out of one’s control. I do agree that you don’t choose who you’re attracted to.
But I don’t think that means God specifically assigns that to you, either.
My reasoning is simple: If I believe that God “makes” people gay, then my theology then is required to believe that God similarly “makes” innocent children have terminal cancer or that God “makes” any number of other situations that are perceived disadvantages happen. Just because.
If I were to believe that, then my view of God would have to be in direct conflict with my understanding of Him as a loving, fair, just God.
In that case, 2+2 would not equal 4.
The pastor told me I had a ‘sophisticated theology.’
I took as a compliment. Maybe he was just being nice.
But like everyone else, I had to find a Christian worldview that makes sense to me without straying too far with that the Bible gives me to understand of who God is.
I think we all do that. On some level, if we truly choose to believe in God, I think we have to do that.
We have to set boundaries within our own belief system so we can then weigh what we understand with what we encounter to determine how God would have us handle things.
Some people allow their theology to be completely defined and controlled by others. I feel sorry for them because that’s not building a personal relationship.
I think the pastor I met would agree with that.
I’m definitely going to look into the church he’s planning to start. I may write more about that as we get closer to his intended launch later this year.
In the meantime, I’ll take his compliment with a grain of salt and hope that it won’t allow pride to alter my perceptions.