I think its important for us to realize that Theology and Doctrine are not the same thing. With most of us having departed from the institutional church, it’s easy to have a slight fear to reluctancy to use some words or terms – and I think Theology is one of them. The word seems so scholarly, so rigid, so pedantic, it seems maybe “unpractical” and maybe meant to be discussed exclusively by clergy or at least intellectuals. And I don’t think those could be more wrong. I do however think it’s completely normal for us to feel this way about the word – but also be good to become comfortable with the word again. To me, Theology simply means – “thoughts on God.” That’s it? That’s it. It’s your thoughts on God. And the cool thing is, we all have them – even if we think we do or not. We all have our thoughts and opinions on God based on the things we’ve been taught and the experiences we’ve had or not had. Everything we’re taught and every experience shapes our “thoughts on God.” “I believe God is a loving God because he rescued me from a horrible time in my life.” Or, “I think God is an unloving God because he didn’t rescue me from a horrible time in my life.” So, since we all realize we all have a Theology – it hopefully will become easier and more comfortable to share it with each other. Most importantly – we need to realize: our different Theology doesn’t mean one of us is right and one of us is wrong. We can’t be afraid to share with each other in fear that my thoughts don’t match up with your thoughts. They’re just thoughts – you don’t have to cling on to them or be afraid of them.
For me, I’m realizing how valuable it is to write them down. I think we tend to gloss over some of our thoughts or beliefs about God without REALLY thinking about what that means or why we think that way. How many of you would be comfortable answering this question in front of the group: What does it mean to you that “we meet under the headship of Jesus Christ?” How comfortable to would you be to answer that right now? I think most of us would agree to that statement, but I don’t know how many would be comfortable answering it. So, I think writing it down – makes you ACTUALLY think about what you think about. You can’t just skip over a thought if you actually have to write it down. It’s so easy to skip over thoughts and think – “well, I just know what that means…”
And for me – writing isn’t easy. It’s not easy and I don’t like it. But – I think there is value for us all to stretch ourselves and be able to write out our thoughts on God or Core Values. I think it’s easy to maybe just fall on just believing what my husband believes or what this or that brother believes. How incredible would it be for somebody to sit down to write down their core values …and really not know what to write down. How exciting is that?? I think both – scary and exciting actually. And that’s okay. Normal and okay. The greatest thing about seeing what everyone’s Theology and Core Values are…is that it will effect and shape my Theology. This Christian life indeed continues to be a shared One…how incredible is that?
As far as Doctrine goes: Doctrine and Core Values could defined as being similar – both meaning “beliefs or positions.” But the difference – and it’s a biggie – is that doctrine refers to a “principle of law.” And I don’t believe this exercise that we’re doing has anything to do with Doctrine or putting law into effect. There’s a huge difference between a belief you have versus a law that is mandatory. One you self protect and the other you don’t. One breeds Life and the other one breeds death.
So, let’s realize that we’re doing this exercise to find our Lord in together and not to find reasons to split or disagree. Not meeting together because our beliefs are a little different from each has been done before…again…and again….and again. We don’t all believe the exact same thing…hey, maybe that could be one of our core values… 🙂 Also, it’s important that visitors know what we believe. We can’t depend on “personal one-one-one’s” to accomplish this everytime we have a visitor. So – knowing what we believe is two fold!! For us AND for visitors.
I’ll end with this:
We have to be okay with being wrong. We have to be okay with not knowing everything. We have to be okay with realizing that we don’t have God figured out. We have to be okay with the fact that our “core values” may look different a week after we write them down. We have to be okay with our Theologies looking different after talking with a fellow Brother or Sister. And just because you write something down – doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. It just means that it was for you at that moment in time. It is okay to be wrong. Let’s agree that we’re going to look back on our lives five years from now and realize that we missed the boat on some things…and be okay with that.
It’s not about right or wrong – it’s about Christ. And it’s about what it means “to be about Christ.” It’s about God telling His story and us getting to be a part of it. It’s about His life being lived out in each one of us while living in the tension between two realms.
Life could not be more exciting.