Theology is a hard thing for me to talk about sometimes. Partly because I feel inadequate to discuss it. And partly because I know my theology is flawed. I'm not sure anyone has a perfect theology, but I just don't like to be wrong. ;)
As far as my theological beliefs, the Reformed tradition sums it up well. Calvinist. Sovereignty. Glory. Suffering. Community. These are the buzzwords of Reformed theology today. John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler are its spokespersons. Throw in other names like Challies, Keller or Carson and you will be up to speed on Reformed-speak.
One of the defining characteristics of Reformed theology is its intellect. We, the "young, restless and reformed" crowd, tend to elevate thinking about God and talking about God and refining our doctrine and explaining what we believe. Logic, reason and (usually) literal interpretation are the norm. But, I fear, we start worshiping the system. I have noticed this about myself. I become very concerned about whether or not what I am thinking or feeling or pondering or concluding is right. Do I trust in God's sovereignty enough? Am I doing community the right way? If I forget to end my prayer with "for the glory of God," am I going to hell?
That's not faith. That is clinging to works, to thoughts instead of God. It is easy, in the Reformed tradition of intellect, to overthink things (Maybe that is why I feel so comfortable among Reformed peers... I am an overthinker! ;)). To somehow lose God in the process.
I'm going to link to two other blogs now. You might find it ironic, especially if you're not Reformed, that I'm linking to Reformed blogs that talk about this very thing. We're an ironic species, we humans. Just go with it.
I've always appreciated John Piper. In the midst of some very frustrating and dark times in my life, it was Piper's sermons that the Lord used to draw me to Himself again. Certainly I struggle with elevating Piper to God-like proportions. I jokingly call myself a Piper-ette. Which is exactly the point I'm trying to make - the battle of intellect vs. the Person of God. But anyway, I appreciated what he had to say in a recent Ask Pastor John segment. John Piper's Caution for the New Reformed movement
Then I read this gem from The Resurgence today. Pretty much the same point, but a little more expansive.
I'm getting a headache from thinking. Certainly thinking has its place in Christianity. In doctrine, theology and daily living. God is the Great Thinker and if we are made in His image, we were made to consider, reason and ponder. But to do it apart from the heart of God is meaningless. I'm a very emotional person. So emotional that I just do not trust myself very much. I make a lot of decisions based on how I'm feeling that get me nowhere at best or prove disastrous at worst. So in order to counter the dangerous effects of emotions, I tend to stifle them. I shove them out of the way where they can't be a distraction and try to silence the pangs clamoring for my attention. There can be a time and place for that. But to do it all the time is, I think, dishonoring to the Lord. We're called to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." It is okay to have an emotional walk with God, or an emotional spiritual experience. To be overflowing with passion or gratitude or love or tears or pain. To really feel it.
Along those lines, I think that is why imagination is important. We've been going through the book of Colossians at church and the concept of mystery in relation to God has come up a couple times. Particularly Colossians 1:26-28 - "[T]he mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ." It's not mystery like God is withholding something from us unfairly, but that He is so incredible and vast that there are just some things we'll never quite be able to wrap our heads around. Or that won't be made known to us apart from His timing. But I like that there is mystery. That we won't ever get tired of plumbing the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. That there is always something to explored, some new perspective to gain, new mercies to be realized. That there is room for wonder and excitement among logic and reason.