Thursday, February 26, 2009

Transforming Theology: "Thinking Theologically As Full-Time Christians"

The folks taking part in the Transforming Theology conversation are discussing John Cobb's book "Reclaiming the Church." It's about how to revive the Mainline Church. I outlined the book earlier. But now I want to engage the book more practically. I especially want to engage Cobb's idea of the importance of theological reflection by ALL Christians.

Cobb suggests that the Mainline Church needs to renew its vocation of theological reflection. All this means is that we need to reflect more about how our faith in God impacts our daily lives. Reflecting on how our faith impacts our lives would help us become full-time, passionate Christians. Yes, full-time and passionate. Call it engaged Christianity.

In order for us to be more engaged in our Christianity, Cobb encourages us to think about how our Christian values impact our lives as parents, spouses, partners, siblings, co-workers, pet owners, church-goers, etc. It would also be helpful to reflect on how our faith impacts our decisions, plans, schedules, budgets, etc. Our faith not only impacts whether we go to church, but also things like what we buy, eat, and recycle. Christianity is an embodied faith. It's meant to be lived in our real lives. And it's meant to change all of our lives for the better.

I think Cobb is right about the value of thinking theology. It would help us become bolder in our faith. But that doesn't mean we're told what to do by some moralistic list. It means we need to discern what is most faithful according to our understanding of Christ and Scripture. Nobody can do that but ourselves and our God. So in order to contribute to the renewal of theological reflection, I want to list ten sets of questions that would be worthy of deeper reflection. All of these questions seek to ask: How does my faith in God matter in my day-to-day life?

(1) Do I practice Sabbath, renewal, and/or recreation on a regular basis? Is it enough to recharge my batteries? Do I make time to care for myself? Do I care for myself enough so I can care for others?

(2) Do I make my budget based on my faith commitments? Am I a faithful steward of my money? Do I invest in the things I believe are worthy of investment?

(3) Do I plan my schedule in a way that is faithful to my understanding of a Christian lifestyle? What would Jesus have me do? What is God calling me to do?

(4) Do I vote according to my values as a Christian? Do the policies and politicians I support reflect my faith? Since no policy or politician is perfect, how can I vote most faithfully?

(5) Do I reflect my Christian values in the way I behave at work? How can I be an agent of God's Kin-dom with my co-workers? How can I be a Christian in my vocation?

(6) Does my neighborhood reflect the values I hold as a Christian? How can I embody those values without imposing them on others? How can I share God's love, justice, and mutuality where I live?

(7) Does my nation reflect the Christian ideals that I understand in Scripture? What would Christ do if he lived in my country? Would would Jesus ask me to do? How can I advocate for feeding for the poor, caring for the sick, and clothing the naked?

(8) How can I be a Christian when I am in the middle of conflict? What would Jesus do? What would Jesus have me do? How can I "speak my truth in love"?

(9) How can I seek "abundant life" (John 10:10) and "complete joy" (John 15:11) in my life? How can I help others experience those things? How can I enjoy God's "very good" (Genesis 1:31) world more fully? How can I help others enjoy the world more?

(10) Does my church reflect Christian values? What would Jesus ask me to change about my church? What would Jesus ask me to continue at my church? How can the budget reflect a faithful stewardship of my church's resources?

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