An Argument in Favor of Theological Fighting ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Argument in Favor of Theological Fighting

No one in the church likes fighting these days--unless they are "moral majority" throwbacks, Mark Driscoll groupies, or theologians who love basketball. (Caveat: They could also be theologians who, being in all other respects at the precise, dead-center, bull's eye of God's will, should like basketball.)

Anyway, it's hard to pick a theological fight in this season of global tolerance. Ideas, which are innately hierarchical in their importance, are elevated to a bland equality. Some people embrace the four-fold way and others prefer margaritas. It's all good.

As far as fighting goes, you almost have to do it in a back-handed way. Gone are the days of the Church Councils when leaders girded up their loins with a kind of relish and waded into serious biblical skirmishes while the world waited, holding its breath, for the outcome. In Emergent circles, for example, fighting is a dirty word. Better that we should all disagree about things like hell and homosexuality rather than talk about them out loud--which would cause [gulp] disagreement.

For my part, I like fighting. Or a kind of fighting. I like verbal confrontations where people freely air their opinions, defend them vigorously, and walk away friends. The ideas involved, not the personalities, are up for debate. So snide remarks and straw men conflagrations are outlawed, but biblical truth, in its bright bluntness and shadowed nuance, is invited to make an appearance.

I realize that what the church calls "doctrine" (Sola Scriptura--"scripture alone"--and the Westminster Catechism, for example) typically rise out of theological disputes. Various people argue that these origins cast doctrine in a dubious light. ("Doctrine divides!") As you could probably guess, I couldn't disagree more. And I'm willing to fight you about it.

It's not as if the differences (between Luther and Rome, for example) weren't there before their confrontation. They simply hadn't yet been stumbled upon. Once the sharply contrasting theologies became evident, disagreement was inevitable. This is just one example, but I think it's indicative of a universal pattern.

We fight over important things--whether they are mythic treasure hoards, beautiful women, or the divine revelation of Christ. As far as doctrine is concerned, occasional outbursts of disagreement should not be considered a stigma. It's just the way vital truths emerge and are recognized as vital. We fought, and we fight, because they are important.

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Bernard Shuford said...

I like your thoughts here, big man. The only thing I can think of to fight with you about at THIS point, though, is Kansas versus the Tar Heels, since our respective loyalties lie suchwhere. As well, since the two programs have been hopelessly intertwined for many years, I'm just glad that we finally got Roy back and that's that.

Good post.

Ariel said...

I'm just glad that we finally got Roy back and that's that.

The audacity.

It was a dark day in Kansas when Roy perjured himself and went to live in the shadow of Dean Smith's schnoz.

But time heals all wounds. Bill Self is a better recruiter, a tougher in-game coach, and more charismatic...I look forward to playing UNC in the tourney.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife