Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Acceptable Religious Taxonomy...But Say "Yes"

Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. This practice helps us label, identify and therefore classify things in our worlds. Most of us remember these..., Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species...The Hierarchy of Biological Classification's Major 8 Taxonomic Ranks. Most of us learned these is science class. I have found it increasingly difficult to label some things in life....simply put, taxonomy has become taxing.

One such area is the area of faith. As I seek God and seek to be in community with the people of God I have found it difficult to identify to any specific degree a box or category to which I belong. I have also found it difficult to label others. Now, let me say that I don't think it is wise to always label everyone on every single issue. As a matter of decency though I try to avoid certain topics with some people who may not hold similar beliefs or experiences as me. I have gotten into tight relational spots before when assuming someone else had a specific belief or adhered to a specific doctrine.

So anyway, I tend to identify with some aspects of many thoughts...but I can't find any single doctrine, denomination or theology I fully support or adopt. In some ways I am extremely liberal and in others I would be considered a radical fundamentalist. I don't know if others are this way or not. At the end of the day it only matters to the degree that my being a religious collage, or faith mutt becomes prohibitive to relationships or the Kingdom of God in general.

My wife has been after me lately about something and I hate to admit how right she is. First she right about the mind set and she is also right about my dire need to adjust my perspective. Here is her point..."look for a way to say yes". I tend to say "no" to many things. From, "can we paint the house green" to "can my less-than-responsible sister keep her untrained puppy at our house for a while"...which has been a goat roping to say the least...I often say no, only later to agree to the idea. I don't know why I do that. I typically play those situations like a chess player or like a crash test analyst...what could possibly go wrong, what would be the situation if the worst possible scenario actually occurs and thousands of other calculations and critical analyses. When I imagine my sister-in-law's puppy pissing on our new hardwood floors, taking a squishy dump on our new rug or chewing chunks of wood off the legs of our kitchen table...I say "no". More importantly, when I think of my wife being in a horrible mood when I get home because of the mess and work associated with a puppy that isn't even ours...I say "no". For what it is worth, the puppy has been an unmitigated disaster and my wife probably wishes I had stood firm on my original answer of "no".

But in the world or faith I think my wife is really on to something. Why should any difference in experience or variations in the minutia of doctrine be an impasse for a relationship? I don't think it should. In fact, I think there is something significant about the prayer of Jesus, "that they may all be one". Did Jesus know that people would differ in their theology? Sure. Did Jesus expect His words to be debated and would Jesus reasonably conclude that people would come to differing understandings regarding His teachings? Sure. As a Jew, Jesus was well aware of factions and divisions that existed between the children of God. Jesus dealt with the Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc. As God on earth...Jesus knew we would differ. Yet he prayed for us to be one. I don't think His prayer was that we wouldn't disagree or that everyone would be a clone of some specific theological school. I think Jesus was intent on love, unity and community in spite of or perhaps because of our diversity. I don't think it is unrealistic to think that Jesus was telling us to look for a way to say "yes".

How might the world look if, as followers of Jesus, we looked for ways to say "yes" to one another? How might we begin to be "yes" people in the area of diversity? How might we move toward being "yes" people in the realm of service to those around us? What is required for us to be "yes" people to benefit the Kingdom of God? I have more questions...and am lacking many answers. But I want to begin to say "yes" to beginning the search for those answers. I am also willing to say "yes" if God chooses to leave me in a state of wandering and mystery long as I am "following hard after Thee".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

beautiful thoughts, bro. i shared the post w/ my Google Reader friends. looking forward to tomorrow.