You know whose fault this is? The Hippies. They decided that they didn’t have to do what their parents said and ultimately did something that was counter-cultural. They imagined a world that has changed the place of women, African-Americans, homosexuals, government responsibility, religion in the marketplace, and on and on. It is their fault.
I think the “Greatest Generation” is at fault also. They dreamed of a world where persecution based on ethnicity should not exist. They dreamed that people of German and Japanese descent did not have a right to do whatever they wanted and that there should not be emperors who get to enforce their beliefs on the rest of us.
I blame every generation that has come before me. This world is their fault. You know who else is at fault? The scientists – all of them, all the way back to Aristotle and Copernicus. They decided that maybe the world wasn’t working like we thought it was and so they went and studied and took away a lot of fear. I would like to blame all of the dreamers, artists, and boundary pushers. There are many more people who dared to dream and it is also their fault. Why is it their fault? Because they dared to imagine something different. I blame all of them.
What am I blaming them for? Dreaming. Dreaming is fine except when it comes to theology, right? I blame dreaming for people like Pelagius, Jacobus Arminius, and Rob Bell. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you can dig in HERE – More on all of that later.
I have been having a great conversation with a friend on twitter about whether it is a right, responsibility, or futile for every generation to take our core beliefs off the shelf. The conversation started with him saying this: “Somewhere my generation lost the courage to call wrong ‘wrong’. Be it theology, lifestyle, or sin. We’ve become cowards, myself included.” I appreciate his words and his view but I don’t fully agree.
The conversation is an important one especially in our day and age. My only real issue with his statement is that I believe it to be focused on the wrong thing. The church has always been really quick to name the wrong things – we call them heresy or anti-truths. We traditionally haven’t been open to listening to imagined ideas about God. Everything we hold sacred – including our holy texts, creeds and liturgies – has been altered along the way and then deemed “truth” by the powers that be, thereby killing off any alternative ideas. Sometimes it didn’t stop with the ideas and went right ahead and killed off the people with the ideas in some gruesome ways. Isn’t that what happened to Jesus?
So the question is present for me and my generation. Do we have a responsibility to look at everything? Can we take all books off of the shelves and make our own decisions which will then change the way the world looks to us? Some are ready to say no to this. Some would say there is fixed truth and we should live with this truth without question or imagination.
The problem I have is that we know about the hippies, the greatest generation, the scientists, artists and dreamers. We believe that things like civil rights were the right thing to do even though at the time many people, including the church, fought them at every turn.
So who are Rob Bell and his predecessors like Pelagius and Jacobus Arminius? They are people who dare us to imagine something different than the traditional view of our religion. While I believe the church to be more civil today, it takes someone like Rob Bell and his views to bring out our worst. Guys like John Piper and Mark Driscoll and their followers have come out swinging with accusations like heresy, false prophet, bad doctrine, etc. We aren’t killing people any more, but attempts at excommunication are still alive and well for ideas that are threatening to religion.
The story of the church hasn’t been an inclusive one. (I’m not even talking about other faiths, just the guys within the church who’s differing ideas got them kicked out.) What we should know today is that every story has multiple sides. Whether you are cut from the Augustine, Calvin, Driscoll cloth or the Pelagius, Arminius, Bell cloth, you should know that you are not alone in your faith. You should not be kicked out of church for your beliefs – for your beliefs make up the body of Christ. God put those beliefs in your makeup and relates to you in this way for a reason.
So here I stand as a co-laborer and co-follower of Christ asking for freedom for all men and women to dream a bigger dream. I hope that we will dream of a bigger God than the boxes we keep him in. I hope that heaven is bigger and love is wider than we can even imagine.
Random Fact learned during the writing of this post:
“Radical” comes from the same word as “radish,” meaning “root.” In the 17th century, “radical” came to mean, “returning to the origin” or “essential.” A radical, therefore, is someone who is returning to the roots, the original, and the essence.
Items that informed this post:
Song: Gungor – “God Is Not A White Man”
Twitter/Facebook/Blogs: An endless number of blogs and commentary on twitter/facebook.