i enjoyed a wonderful hike this past weekend with some of my closest friends, and during the hike, we got to thinking and talking about stuff like free will, predestination, and whether or not the future is set. i realize how pretentious that sounds – stuff like this really does just come up, though. it’s not like we all put on our old man caps, light up our pipes and say, “let’s ask big theological questions.”
no, it just happens. it just kinda goes in that direction. i think that we wonder a whole lot. i think we should. i wonder how much we can and/or will ever know, you know? there are some big questions out there. there are some crazy concepts out there. i mean, Christianity – heck, spirituality – is a little crazy. it’s a little vast, i’d say it’s impossible to grasp.
i think we’re misguided a bit when we say we know certain things…i mean, in our talk about free will, for example, one of us was #teamfreewill, one of us was #teamimnotreallysure, and i think both of us agreed that we’re #teamhowcanwebe? free will isn’t exactly something we can prove, you know? it may turn out that this whole time, we’ve been destined to take every step that we took and we just made ourselves feel better about it by saying that we had free will, but that’s just an illusion of control because we were destined to think that we had free will. (is your head spinning yet?)
i love conversations like that. i wrote a whole post about how i’m not sure the judgement of God is what we think it is. i think that healthy speculation is a form of worship – rattling the cage just a little bit of what you’ve always thought and always believed. i guess it reminds me a little bit of what it’s like when someone doesn’t know you really well and they try to give you a compliment or explain a bit of what you’re like, and you sit there and smile and think, “i think i can understand how they’d get that.” it’s flattering a bit, because they’re at least formulating some thoughts on you.
i wonder if God does that. i wonder if God’s favorite type of people (i know He doesn’t have favorite people) are the ones who aren’t really sure…who don’t write conclusively about Him – at least not about things that aren’t sure. this we know: God created the Heavens and the earth, God created us, God loves us, God sent Jesus, Jesus lived and died in our place and for our sins, He makes forgiveness accessible to all of us (because we’re a broken race and each daggum one of us needs forgiveness and grace) and He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and tell us more about Himself. We’re pretty dang sure He’s coming back one of these days, and we’re pretty dang sure that He’s going to establish His kingdom on earth.
we don’t know: if Christians will be “taken to heaven” pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib; we don’t know exactly what predestination means, if we have free will, or if everyone’s supposed to speak in tongues or if no one is supposed to speak in tongues, or if purgatory is a thing or not, or if people who love Jesus and are already dead are already in heaven or are waiting on Him to come back, or if we’re supposed to be submerged or sprinkled or if we won’t get into heaven if we’re not baptized (actually, i’m of the mind that we do know that one,) we don’t know if what Paul said about women in 1 Timothy was prescriptive to Timothy’s church or descriptive of how the whole church should operate. we don’t know if hell is a literal physical place with literal, actual fire where people literally burn forever or if hell doesn’t actually exist and people just stop existing altogether when they die and don’t know Jesus. there’s a lot, lot, lot that we don’t know, and i think that it’s us pretending that we do that’s hurt a lot of folks. i think it’s a false sense of certainty about things that don’t really matter that pushes people away from the church, and i think we’d do well to let go of some of those things.
i think we’d do well to speculate – sometimes even wildly – and think a little bit harder about what God may be really like…try to get our minds around another square inch of He Who exists outside of time and space. i’m not saying that i shun good theology – on the contrary, i think we should major in majors and minor in minors. i think we should hold tight to the good stuff: we’re all messed up but God sure isn’t and He did everything He needed to do to accept us even though we’re messed up, and it cost Him a lot. that’s it in a nutshell. the rest of it: swing away, yeah? discuss it. go back and forth a bit. have some conversations. just don’t pretend you know anything.