1.04. Still Again: Why Does Theology Matter?

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(PLS note: I have decided to publish three times per week, rather than four or five.)

Beyond the overall approach to morality in their lives, how else will their theologies affect John and Gina?

Say both of them get married. (Not to each other, although such marriages DO happen, and it’s an interesting hypothetical.)

John and Gina probably approach their marriages differently. Their views about sex, divorce, adultery, having children, gender roles, careers, how to relate to their friends, how to relate to their friends of the opposite sex, etc., will all be shaped and informed by what they think about God and how they understand themselves in light of what they think about God.

What if their marriages go through something disastrous: the death of a child, a life-threatening disease, bankruptcy or loss of career, an unfaithful spouse, the death of a spouse? How they process these disasters will also depend on, and be greatly influenced by, what they think about God and who they understand themselves to be in the light of it.

Kim Davis, “Gay Marriage”, Civil Disobedience

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A county clerk who is a polygamist Mormon can’t issue licenses for bigamy.

A county clerk who is a Quaker must still issue gun licenses.

A county clerk who is a Muslim must still issue liquor licenses, and licenses to restaurants who serve pork.

The establishment clause of the constitution cuts both ways.

1. It says that government can’t restrict the free exercise of religion: that means that the government shouldn’t have the authority to force a baker to bake wedding cakes for a gay wedding. Society can pressure them (or support them) through the marketplace, but the government shouldn’t be involved until and unless something criminal has happened.

2. It says that the government can’t establish a religion, by which the founders meant that there was no official religion of the United States. By extension, that means that the government doesn’t per se enforce the moral views of Christians or other religious groups, or groups of religions. Government has to be neutral on those issues.

Yes, the laws against murder etc. have part of their foundation in religion, but if you can’t tell the difference between murder and issuing marriage licenses, …

If Kentuckians want civil disobedience, Governor Beshear has the right, and the legal standing, to challenge the Supreme Court’s ruling. He hasn’t, and won’t, because he’s an Obama lackey.

1.03. Again: Why Does Theology Matter?

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I said, “Theology matters because you believe something, and what you believe affects how you live.”

Imagine two people. John is a self-professed person of science who calls himself an atheist. He thinks that Christians are (at best) well-intentioned but delusional (or manipulative monsters, at worst.) Gina is a Christian who believes that God is loving and gracious, and that he has a plan for her life.

Chances are, John and Gina will have very different approaches to life. John may be thoroughly amoral, in a selfish, pseudo-nietzschean kind of way.

Or John may be extremely moral, and live his life by a strict moral code. In Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen’s character is discussing what he thinks is a hypothetical situation where a man has gotten away with murder. “In the absence of God, … he has to assume that responsibility [for atoning for his crime, balancing the moral equation] himself.”

A moral atheist, or an amoral atheist: either one can happen.

In either case, what John thinks about the God he doesn’t believe in shapes his values and actions. God’s absence releases him to live in the reptilian, or it forces him to step up and be responsible for his own moral universe.

And Gina may live a virtuous life on the basis of her faith, doing her best to serve and love people and “do the right thing.” Or she may think that God’s forgiveness means that she can live any way she wants, without fear of consequences, and do things that John would never do.

In the second scenario, I would say that Gina has horribly misunderstood what being a Christian is about; it’s NOT a “Get out of Hell free” card, and she’s treating it like one.

But again, and in both scenarios, what she thinks about God and who she understands herself to be in relation to him is the basis for her values and actions.

(PLS note: I have decided to publish three times per week, rather than four or five. The next post will be published on Monday.)

Chapel Sermon from 8-27-2015

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I preached in the Dallas Christian College Chapel last Thursday, 8-27-2015.

(I managed not to mention that it was the 43rd anniversary of the legendary Grateful Dead show in Veneta, Oregon. But I was thinking about it when I got up that morning, and I rolled a little “Dark Star” later on.)

Anyway: I hope you can hear it (I apologize for the volume level), and I hope it speaks to you. The sermon is from Romans 8.28-29, and is titled, “Whose Side Is God On?”

“We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes. For those God foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.”

1.02. What Is Theology, and Why Does It Matter?

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These posts are about theology, loosely defined. Theology = “talking about God.” If I expanded on that definition a bit, I’d say, “Theology is a more-or-less organized way of thinking about God, who he (or it) is, and how we should live in the light of this.”

There are a bunch of different approaches to theology. Some are Christian. Others are Muslim, Buddhist, etc. There are even atheist theologies, although people don’t usually call them “theology” (because the THEO- in theology comes from the Greek word for God (or god), theos.)  Philosophy that doesn’t involve God = “atheist theology.”

I am convinced that theology is deeply important.  Why does theology matter?  Two part answer:

Part 1: Theology matters because EVERYBODY believes SOMETHING about God, even if they believe he doesn’t exist. Even if they mock belief in God, they believe something.

Part 2: What they believe about God affects the way that they live, the way they react to life and death, their values and priorities, etc.

Theology matters because you believe something, and what you believe affects how you live. More on this thought in the next post.