Trinity’s leadership is rushing to build a moat and walls around its theological belief system as fast as possible. To hear them talk there is a fast approaching attack, reasons to be afraid, and we must defend ourselves, our faith, and the Church. Dismissal and separation from PC(USA) will dig the moat and a defined list of Essential Tenets will build the wall. If we can get inside this fortress soon enough everything will be ok.
But I am not afraid of what is coming, and neither are many others of us at Trinity. We’ve been told we just don’t “get it”. But I do “get it” and I think others do too. We just “get it” differently and because of that we’re not afraid.
Peter Enns, a faculty member in the Christian Studies department at Eastern University, has written a column titled, “The Bible is the center of the Christian faith (and don’t assume you know what I mean by that)“. In this column he writes about a lecture given recently at Eastern University by John Franke of Yellowstone Theological Institute. John summed up his vision for a theological movement that is both evangelical and progressive by voicing a distinction between progressive (think center) and traditionalist evangelicalism (think walls).
Progressive evangelical theology is…
1) marked by holding to a “center” of theology rather than maintaining firm “boundaries”
2) views the theological task as more of a “dialogue” than arriving at firm conclusions defended at all costs
3) and encourages a deliberate engagement of voices outside of evangelicalism in order to learn from them, not simply to correct them
Peter writes, “Firm boundary marking, once and for all time, in our theological quest tends toward insulation and then isolation from any sort of criticism – which I think is not only self-defeating and intellectually hypocritical, but makes baby Jesus cry.”
Peter continues, “A theology that thinks in terms of holding to a center encourages theological exploration, with regular returns to the center for a gut check…It seems to me that one way (not the only way) of thinking about the Bible is as a ‘center’ of the Christian faith rather than a boundary. It is that to which followers of Jesus return – sort of like a tether – not the thick and high boarders through which we may not blast, under which we may not tunnel, or over which we may not climb.”
Building the walls around Trinity scares me more than living without them.
Peter is not saying, and neither am I, that the Bible is “THE center” of the Christian faith but, he writes, “it helps provide a spacial metaphor for understanding how the Bible can and should function in the Christian life. The center of the Christian faith has been and always will be – wait for it – Jesus, not the Bible.”
…and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
Trinity, let’s stay PC(USA)