When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

03 December, 2012

Theological Pet Peeves

Note: I originally wrote this two weeks ago (18 November, to be specific), and just haven't gotten back around to editing and post it between Thanksgiving, illness and travelling.  Finally getting there! -S

A few weeks ago was especially unnerving for me, hitting on many of the "theological pet peeves" I have, so I thought I might put together a brief commentary on each of them.  They're not in any particular order (other than how I thought of them).

1) "Accepting" vs. "Receiving" faith
While I generally understand what Christians mean when they ask, "When did you accept Jesus?", my mind immediately reacts with "SEMI-PELAGIANIST!!!"  I know it may seem like semantics, but in all the research I have been doing of late on Original Sin, I know that no one would ever "choose" faith.  We cannot choose spiritual good.  I've spent years trying to figure out how to explain this in a concise manner, and it finally dawned on me this week.  I've always said that our role in the creation of faith is passive, not active.  But finally, the right word to use instead of accept dawned on me.  It is receive.  We receive faith.  We may reject it (which is what everyone would do, were it not for the working of the Holy Ghost), but our receipt of  faith is entirely passive.  Putting the emphasis on our acceptance (or supposedly active) role in salvation is nothing short of Semi-Pelegianism, even if it isn't meant that way.  We have to be very precise in what we say, not be lazy or sloppy in theology.

2) Saying "just" in prayers
I don't know if there is necessarily anything theologically wrong with this, but I can't stand when people use the world "just" in prayers.  It's a filler, it's annoying and it just makes me want to scream.  Another thing that drives me nuts is when people mutter things under their breath in prayer.  Again, not sure there is really anything wrong with it, but I can't concentrate when I am listening to others when I'm supposed to be praying.  Interestingly, I don't think I've ever heard a Lutheran do either of those things.  I wonder why that is?

3) Dual Covenant vs. New Covenant Theology
With all that has gone on in Israel the past weeks, I keep seeing posts on Facebook about how America has to save Israel and (yes, some people have actually said this) how America was created to save Israel, even though Israel wasn't a nation until 150+ years after we were founded as a country.  This comes from a largely Dispensational idea that Israel must be restored before the return of Christ (something I've never found in the Bible).  What the Bible does make clear is the New Covenant, which is not just for Israel but for all in Jesus.  America may have strategic or other reasons to help or "save" Israel, but using Dispensational Theology with no Biblical basis to make political decisions terrifies me.

4) End Times Signs-seekers
Jesus told us that even He does know know when He is to return.  One of the frustrations that also comes from Dispensationalism is that there are those who continue to look for signs, even though we cannot know the hour or day when Jesus is to return.  From solar flares to the UN (which is, by the by, a misunderstanding of the Antichrist, who is a religious, NOT political, figure) to waiting for an invented Rapture, I seem to see something new at least weekly.  There are even those who claim that 21 December 2012, the day the Mayan Calendar supposedly predicts the end of the world, is also the day the Rapture will happen.  These attempts to read signs that aren't there just makes the rest of us Christians look silly and loony.  It's hard for anyone to take Christianity seriously when what is known about it is just plain goofy, and not actual Christian, Biblical doctrine.

5) "Baptism is just a symbol, but you must be fully immersed and not an infant for it to be valid."
If something is only "symbolic", why do you care how it is done?  What does it matter?  Sigh.

6) "You cross yourself?  Oh, you must be a Catholic."
Um... no.  I know many non-Catholics who cross themselves: Lutherans, Orthodox, Anglicans, etc.  I wish this was something more Christians did, but no, that doesn't make me Catholic.

7) "Lutherans are intellectual Christians."
For some reason, people seem to think this is an insult.  It isn't.  What's sad is that more Christians aren't "intellectual".  What I mean by that is that they know and understand the Bible, Theology, church history, other Denominations, early Church Fathers, etc.  So few seem to dig into the meat of Christianity, and it is sad.  Our faith is not just one of belief, but also of reason.  It is very logical, but you have to understand and study. That is the greatest disservice done by American Churches today--they seem to be nothing more than fluff and entertainment, and seriously lack substance.  Yes, that is a generalization.  But I hear so often we should ignore our differences for unity.  No.  We cannot have unity without understanding our differences, and why those differences exist.  Then we can have discussions about differences and perhaps come to a place of unity.  Ignoring them only makes the divisions worse.

8) Not capitalizing appropriate references to God
I've been typing up charts from a book written by a protestant theological professor which are largely helpful, but he seems incapable of capitalizing "He" in reference to God, or "The Word" in reference to the Bible, or many other similar examples.  It has reminded me how much that drives me nuts.  You don't have to capitalize everything, but when you're specifically referring to God or His Word, it is the right thing to do.

9) "Why do you have to be so arrogant?"
I get that a lot, and it is a fair criticism to some extent.  I tend to be a very snarky person by nature.  I'm very good at speaking the truth, I'm not so good at always doing it in love.  Rather than arrogance (which I can understand how it looks that way), though, I would submit it is confidence--confidence in my faith to the point that I would die for it.  I made that vow in my confirmation, and I take it very seriously.  I have a hard time even wanting to evangelize, because I see a broken church--and why on earth would I want to bring more people into something broken?  So I spend more (most) of my time attempting to correct the serious errors I see in Christendom today.  One thing I desperately miss about the early church is the condemnation of heresy.  The Roman Catholic Church still does this to some degree, but we need more of it.  There is so much heresy in the church today, and few seem to even realize it.  And so in my frustration and sadness over this, I tend to resort to snark.  For that I apologize.  I hope you will all understand it comes from a place of confidence in my faith and wanting to not see heresy in the church.
"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." -- Martin Luther

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