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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I am not a Christian, I guess...

I was told the other day by a friend that-according to some politician-I had a "phony theology" in all probability. And for the first time in a long time, I actually generated interest in politics for more than jokes. Then, as I was about to research such a thing, I saw the red cardinal that has taken up residence in our backyard, and the moment passed...I am back to no longer caring about politics and/or politicians...it was close!

But I probably do have a "phony theology" at some level. I call myself a Christian, but the one who defines that religion for me (Jesus of Nazareth) died before he could become one...so that is a little phony. I mean, to claim to follow a guy who died before he had a chance to do the stuff you claim he did is a bit phony for my conscience.

What interested me about the slur, however, was the use of the word "theology." I didn't know politicians knew that word, especially politically conservative ones. Theology, as the word has come to be used, means some kind of systematic, organized understanding of religious symbols. And the reason why I ignore politicians is that they seem to have no grasp of that. Politicians use religious symbols to access power (in a democracy that's usually votes), but they never actually try to organize them. So to discover one politician gave a shout out to theology is rather notable. But theology is how you organize the religious symbols and values of your life...phoniness just isn't an option.

To be "phony" something has to be a sham or counterfeit or even fraudulent. What would be "phony" would be using theology to try to make yourself into something you are not, such as using religious symbols to garner votes. What would be phony is how your hypocrisy puts a religious sheen over the way your organize your world. In this quest to combat phoniness I strive to make my theology intelligible and understandable to people. But I make no apologies for my system and organization.

So I will continue to think it's not acceptable to be rich when so many are poor; I will continue to believe that all people are equal, even if they do not think so or understand how they are equal; I will continue to believe that life is always about freedom, expanding choices, and letting people explore the caverns of the universe; I will continue to believe that life is about suffering and surrendering before it is about anything else...and this has nothing to do with being born in the USA. (apologies to Springsteen) It has everything to do with being a child of God in Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. It has everything to do with, as my pastors are found of saying, being loved beyond your wildest imagination.

That's theology. You can call me a Christian if you want...but it won't change the theology no matter what you call me.

May your table be full and your conversations be blessed.

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