I must admit I am really bad at this blogging thing. I have two main problems I think. One, I just get busy with other stuff – mainly research and writing for classes and such. And then there’s my X-box. No, not the 360 – I have the original one still on which I still love to play Madden and NCAA football. Really it’s the only way I get any “real” football during the off season. Yes, there’s Arena Football and NFL Europe but like I said I want real football (no offense to those that may like the Arena league or NFL Europe) but that’s a post for another time I suppose. Two, I just suppose that I have had trouble figuring out exactly what my purpose is for this blog. I’m not really the type that thinks anyone actually wants to read about my day to day happenings. My wife Christie (most will know here as C.C. blogs at lorelaicc and frankly is much more interesting than I am. I’m just not sure anyone would be as interested in me as they are of her. Its not that I don’t have ideas on things to blog about, I do! Its that most of the things I think of are theological in nature, and, well, I just don’t want to bore anyone to sleep! But still yet, I would love to have a place where I could “field test” some of my ideas, synthesize some of my research, get feed back and interaction from others, and explore the intersection between theology and real life (so I have already given this some thought). So, I am going try to get things really rolling with a series of blog posts under the title “Why DesperateTheologian?” to try to determine what it is I want to do here. The first one (below) gives some of the story behind why I call myself desperatetheologian…
Why call yourself desperatetheologian?
To understand the name desperatetheologian one needs to know something of my theological journey. I first fell in love with theology as an undergraduate religion major at Wayland Baptist University. Unlike most I really did enjoy reading and studying anything theological. At this point I understood theology as mainly propositional in nature. This is to say that theology to me was about what we can say about God. Propositional theology is, in short, all about what we can know about God. It is statements about God that we can be sure are true. This is in essence the approach to faith that I grew up with in church. I was taught a basic Biblicist view that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God with the primary purpose to give us timeless, propositions that we are to believe and that govern how we are live and act. The Biblicist view simply says that we believe what the Bible tells us. So I did not hear a lot about “theology” per se growing up because, as I was told, “we just believe what the Bible says, not man made formulations!” But especially as a newly “surrendered” minister I was instructed in doctrines and taught that these were taken straight from the Bible. Truth be told though, everyone has some sort of theology. Where I grew up it was just not called “theology” but “doctrine” and it was basically a propositional approach to faith. When I first went to WBU I had been warned by some to be careful at college and not let all that I learned at college ruin my faith (in a propositional sort of way that is). However, those concerned really had nothing to worry about. Like I said I fell in love with theology, especially systematic theology. I liked that systematic theology gave me a way articulating “deep” things of the faith. I found that this kind of impressed people. I also liked that systematic theology was well – systematic. Every doctrine was put in its proper place. It was nice, neat, and well “packaged.” And the packaged part did not bother me. If someone had a question – well, I had an answer. So…theology for me as an undergrad was about what we could know about God and about having all the right answers and the Bible was the inerrant source of what we needed to know in this regard.
Now, some may read this and think to themselves, “What’s wrong with this? Having answers is not bad and we do need to know about God, right?” And to this I would answer a definite affirmative. But a solely propositional theology simply does not do justice to who God is. He is always so much bigger than any single proposition or list of propositions that we can come up with and systematize. Now, I need to be clear here. It is true that I was brought up in the faith with a basically propositional view of faith but I would be remiss not to add that those who brought me up in the faith also had a deep faith and loved God deeply and taught me to do the same. And at Wayland none of my professors ever taught me to simply be content with a solely propositional faith. I am thankful to Dr. Paul Sadler who taught me the importance and depth of our Baptist heritage and the importance of historical theology – though I did not realize his full impact on me as an undergrad. I am thankful to Dr. Fred Meeks, who was/is my theological mentor (and now Dr. Dan Stiver at Logsdon Seminary) who always emphasized to me that it was not enough to know about God if one does not come to actually know God, Himself – though I again did not realize his full impact on me as an undergrad.
My wife, Christie (again, most know her as C.C.), and I moved to Ft. Worth and I entered Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary the fall after graduating from WBU with my degree in religion and what I felt was a firm grasp on theology. However, before long C.C. and I would be faced with something that would shake the seemingly firm grasp I had on theology. During my first semester of seminary we lost our first child to miscarriage. I plan on sharing more in future posts so it will suffice to say that in the midst of our loss and heartache, to be honest, my propositions, the things I felt I knew about God really did very little to relieve my grief. And the propositions of other Christians we knew at school and church really did little to help them minister to us in the midst of our grief. Most other Christians did not want to talk about our experience…our story…our grief. Those that did just said that we should just trust that God knows best and that He is in sovereign control of all things. Some even suggested that Christie and I were lacking in faith because we were so shaken over the loss of our babies. It was as if we should just be able to say to ourselves, “God is sovereign” and everything would just be O.K.
In the midst of my grief I must be honest that my propositions did not stand up. This is not to say that they were no longer true. That God IS sovereign remains true. That God is holy remains true. That Christ is LORD remains true. Well, you get the point. But my grief remained…our grief remained. Sure I could comprehend the propositions I was supposed to believe in my head, but it was not my head that hurt…it was my heart. It was here that I became, well…desperate. I was desperate for something to help me make it though this grief and help my wife make it through – because there did not seem to be any going around it. I was desperate for something to keep us in church when we felt so isolated and when so few seemed equipped to respond with anything that did not sound like a cliché to someone in profound grief. I was desperate for others, anyone, to be willing to walk with is in our grief, to share our story with us. I was desperate for a theology that could help me/us make sense of our loss and grief, a theology that could make room for our experience, a theology that would enable me/us to keep believing. But I was also desperate for a theology that could transcend what we were experiencing, for something that was true and real despite our pain; that could hold on to us because we could not hold on by ourselves. In short I became a desperate theologian.