Theological Bullshit

Hello, my name is John Jensen. With my wife Raquel, and my daughters Ade and Cheyenne, I have been creating and taking part in small communities of faith, mostly among those that do not fit into our normal traditional Christian boxes. Our current community is in Long Beach California. We have found these communities of those that are radically diverse, and committed to a bottom up empowering of people in all of the social fabric, have had a transformative effect on our life, and that of those around us. My website johnthereverend.com has many similar articles, as well as occasional videos, hope you will join the discussion.

Theological Bullshit

My pedigree is pretty strong in the “emerging church” world. Though I may not have any degrees, my wife and I were on the vanguard of this brave new world where art, post modernity and mission were innersecting. I was on staff with a missions and church consulting agency that was helping churches prepare for this changing landscape long before the discussion of “emerging” was even in the public square. Our first youth ministry was way outside the box, and our first church plant “the belonging” was surprisingly influential. The third church plant we worked with was written about in The Shaping of Things to Come.

Long before people were writing books for and against the emerging church, we were living something radically different, and continue to do so. There are many people that are very well respected authors and conference speakers that were part of this conversation way back in the day.

I think however we have gone in two directions. We have either gone in the direction of “emerging church is a style” or “emerging church is a ideology” The one looks at, how we can do things better to reach our goal of saving the lost. The other is more about challenging the thoughts and theologies of the traditional church.

I want to speak a bit about the second part. I admit, I may come across as a bitter, under educated and anti education guy, but hey, I might be a bitter, under educated and anti education guy!

What I have begun to see more and more commonly among this circle, is theological mumbo jumbo. This tendency to come up with the most extreme, shocking, or mystical ideas and to throw them around as some testimony as to how unique and non traditional we are. To show how our post modern deconstruction of the faith has allowed us to embrace all kinds of thoughts. And to escape any real critique because… it isn’t really about right and wrong, black or white, it is all about the wrestling, the journey.

Well, this is where I get to my title. I am more and more convinced that any ideology, any theology, any Christology that does not have flesh on it, is quite frankly bullshit. As much as I find the clever rhetoric to be a bit too cool for my tastes, Peter Rollins is quite correct when he said, “I deny the resurrection of Christ every day I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, every time I turn my back on the poor”. This infatuation with coming up with all kinds of deep and meaningful ways of deconstructing scripture, pontificating upon abstract concepts, and creating “conversations about God”, is basically bullshit if it doesn’t actually cause us to become part of the way.

The early church was not known by its beliefs. The truth was that by the Nicean council the church was incredibly diverse in its theology, if a bit less so in its structure. But what it was fairly united in, was the way in which it lived. It was the Way. They cared for not only their own sick and poor, but those of the Romans. They were good news to the poor and the marginalized. They were devout in their generousity, and scandalous in their equality. They stood against the tyranny and oppression of both religion and state. They would often fast not for spiritual reasons, but so that the money they saved in not eating could be used to buy a community member out of slavery.

So as fascinating as some of the differnent theories of atonement might be, as interesting as a study of what heaven may be like, and as unique as some post modern take on St. Pauls scribbles in the public toilet in alexandria might be…

If it doesn’t result in love, especially for the least of these, then it’s a banging gong, a noisy symbol, it is in fact just theological bullshit

rev

  • http://piratetopastor.com Patrick Green

    Amen and amen. I cannot add anything to this. Thank you.

  • http://www.paradigmshift-jmac.blogspot.com Joe Machuta

    While I agree that the early church was not known for its beliefs to a degree, It is very true that what the early church believed does not closely resemble orthodoxy. Theological discussions will aid in shining a light on this. Orthodoxy/evangelicalism has highjacked Christianity since Nicea. I would like to see some theologians get it back from those who have stolen it.

  • Kevin

    I loved the last sentence.

  • http://www.WinningAtRomance.com Gina Parris

    This is brilliant: “This tendency to come up with the most extreme, shocking, or mystical ideas and to throw them around as some testimony as to how unique and non traditional we are. To show how our post modern deconstruction of the faith has allowed us to embrace all kinds of thoughts. And to escape any real critique because… it isn’t really about right and wrong, black or white, it is all about the wrestling, the journey.”

    Booyah!

    I think it’s why I grow weary of the “emergent” scene, where we’ve just exchanged one arrogance for another. (Bless those poor saps who raised us, but failed to continue to be as enlightened as us.)
    Let’s be Jesus with skin on in the world, but to do so, perhaps our study of The Bible should first make us more like Him, more acquainted with Him and more in Love with Him. How can we see others with anything other than love when we start there?
    I have more questions than answers the longer I serve God (which has been my whole life) but the questions never dampen my desire for Intimacy with that Lover of my soul.

    (And dang, now my guest post about Zombie Sex is going to look really shallow.)

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

    I agree with everything said here and yet when Gina said “it’s why I grow weary of the “emergent” scene” I realized that it is the exact opposite for me … the reason I “stay” connected to the emergent scene is that I find more people there who are sincerely committed to living out the way of Jesus than I do in any other Christian community. Yes, there are those connected to emergent who fit John’s description and I love what he says to them “If it doesn’t result in love, especially for the least of these, then it’s a banging gong, a noisy symbol, it is in fact just theological bullshit” BUT in all fairness I have to recognize that there are also an awful lot of people connected to emergent that are living out the way of Jesus in some amazing and radical ways and they are a great example and inspiration to me.

  • http://geneanderson.blogspot.com/ Gene Anderson

    One word…Aye.

  • VCO

    We all have more questions than answers, thus the word “faith” and having it. I’m fairly certain Whiskey Preacher’s conclusion is in the Bible and not original to him, but if it took him all these years to find it, at least he did. That’s more than I can say for most of the world. He’s preaching New Testament Biblical advice that my grandchildren know and have known since they were 6. He’s not teaching a new revelation or giving any new insights. I just wasted my time reading it!

  • David

    John, I’ve always thought you were full of theological bullshit. This article proves it.

  • Joy Wilson

    John, you are right on target. There are so many Scriptures about this, but what immediately came to mind when I read your article was 1 Corinthians 13. If what we preach and teach isn’t lived out in loving action, we are just noisy gongs, gaining nothing and sharing nothing of the Lord to anyone. Jesus told some people that just because they ministered in his name didn’t mean they had any connection with Jesus at all.

  • http://johnthereverend.com the rev

    VCO, I am sorry I just don’t really understand what you are saying. Can you rephrase it for me?

    Thanks for the kind words everybody

    john

  • http://www.grapplerschurch.tv Scott Blair

    As I continue to wrestle with God trying to discover Truth I find myself often getting a little confused at times from so many sides. Rev always slaps me back to the simplicity of the gospel. I don’t want to be just making a bunch of noise. Thanks Rev. and Whiskey Preacher.

  • Walter Hanter

    Emerge this!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X