Theologia Carta

A few weeks ago I made a comment on a friends page that we have traded theologia crucis for theologia circus…for those of you who don’t use words from $50.00 books it basically means that (in my opinion) Western Christianity has traded a Cross centered belief in God for a Circus or entertainment centered view of God.

The idea that we see God as entertainment is really not to much of a stretch, we use stages and high powered lights and video announcements even in small churches now, overhead transparencies have been replaced with smooth transition worship software flowing out of video projectors, Vox AC 30 amps have replaced pianos and organs and most of our worship leaders are now under the age of 40 sporting really cool spiked hair and tats, not that there’s anything wrong with that…we like to look cool and appeal to the gen-XYZ crowd…whatever be thy name.

I see the issue as being much more serious than entertainment versus discipleship/sacrificial life/etc…the issue as I see it is our gate-keepers and leaders have failed to lead us into anything deeper than a new feel-good-bless-my-dream-Gods-favor-conquer-my-mountain matrix devoid of serious liturgy or depth of history, when was the last time you left church and your brain was challenged or your paradigm of life?

(Before I leave this point can I ask you honestly why did you go to the last church service you went to and what was the result? Did you go to get noticed? Is the service you provide/attend really doing anything for the community except sustaining a particular model that is limited to a particular group of folks who come together? What is the long term result of the last church service you attended, does it go beyond a Sunday meeting? And down that road is it possible that what happened of note could possibly have happened in a different setting with less flourish and more community? When was the last time you took a long hard look at why you go where you go?)

I’m all for the new worship, heck I led it for years as a worshipping song-writer-pastor, but beyond the worship and meetings and latest conference on writing your own book/finding your dream/conquering your mountain/ somehow we stopped growing up intellectually and forgot the shoulders we were standing on.

No I’m not talking about Smith Wigglesworth and Kenneth Hagin, John Lake or Aimee Semple McPherson, I’m talking about folks much further down the road, names we never hear like Athanasius or Origen, St. Jerome or Basil, not even Karl Barth or Bonhoeffer get a mention, let alone Polycarp or Luther.

We occasionally get a nod to CS Lewis, I’ve never heard GK Chesterton mentioned in a Pentecostal church though…how are we supposed to even gauge the depth or the breadth that’s available if we never talk about the cartographers who mapped it or the sailors who sang about it?

Lets set aside the intellectual poverty for a minute though and look into the face of whats coming…generation XYZ has been challenged by their friends to give a reasonable defense of a God who tosses people into hell like we dispose of empty water bottles, Calvin and Anselm, Augustine and Constantine are being questioned in the public square and they are wearing our blazers (or rather we are sporting theirs) hell, same-sex marriage, equality of genders, empire and the tithe all of these issues are coming up to the generation in que for our seats and we have not prepared them with anything close to a serious answer let alone given them the substance of a theology that the first four century saints easily died for.

We have not given our children a theology that is different than militant Islam, our fundamentalism and inerrant doctrines lack superiority of heart and mind, we have failed to provide a theology of the cross and instead offered a theology of feel good faith in our own well being.

Our God looks like a American version of Allah…just listen to Duck Dynasty if you doubt me, the God of contemporary Western theology guarantees my right to bear arms to defend myself, my right to prosper and my need for validation, He not only likes me, He is LIKE me.

Now before you think I am suggesting it’s all die-for-Jesus-martyrs-are-the-only-way I believe in the resurrection as the first real creative act of God since Genesis, we have at our potential and in our possession a new man a new creation and a new humanity, but we cannot get there via the entertainment driven theologia circus, we must embrace the theology of the first century and frankly that is the theologia crucis…the theology of the cross.

The map is quite clear you cannot get to the New Man except through the cross, we have been raised up with him IF we have died with him.

I’m all for healing, inner and outer…Jesus already paid for it we should ask for it.

I’m all about miracles and a “courts of heaven company moving things in prayer”…we are called to pray and to do it like grown ups who remain expectant like children.

I’m all for worship, intercession and prophetic acts, it is our heritage this honor have all the saints…

But when it’s all said and done we had better have a reasonable answer for the hope we are supposed to have and that hope needs to extend beyond some empire based model of getting my dream on or conquering my mountain or becoming successful in my ministry (none of which shows up in the New Testament) that hope needs to go beyond the veil because any hope that cannot stand up in front of the blades of Isis and love is not authentic enough to last.

Revelation says we overcome by the blood of the little innocent lamb, the word of our testimony and we love not our lives unto the death…any theology that does not anchor us in this triumvirate of God as victim, our agreement with that and our willingness to join Him there will not sustain a future for us let alone the generations that follow…it’s time to stop playing feel good church and start unpacking the gospel of the saints who willingly laid down their lives in persecution, death and defiance of the beast of empire.

Or not.

We can just keep playing churchy-feel-good with better songs, crisper videos and shallower theology.

As for me and my house…we’ve already launched out into the wild wild sea…we are in over our heads…I have had to toss doctrines and beliefs like ballast to simply stay afloat…but at least we’re moving…and I have some old maps…all in latin with sea monsters and warnings of rocky shores disguised as comfort.