Am I a liberal or is your God too small?

Hard to believe its almost a month since I last posted, although I have been keeping up the 365. Part of the lack of posting has been busyness and not actually making time to think, which I have missed, and too much time stuck at a computer. A few days back on the bus, starting back to class with a missiology module, the mind your head event, and reading the brilliant ‘Kite Runner’ has helped considerably though.

One of the things we have been looking at in missiology is the scope of the salvation story – remembering that although personal salvation and eternal destiny are important parts of it, they are not all of. I get really annoyed by people who try to make something complex all about one thing – the whole penal substitution debate is possibly in some ways an example of making orthodoxy about one aspect instead of recognising there are a few things all to be held in tension. People are also pretty quick to try to label people these days. Perhaps one of the problems of the reformation is the continual fracturing so we have no concept of the ‘one holy catholic apostolic’ church anymore. Evangelicals especially seem often to have completely lost some of the ‘one’ concept and seem to spend all the time defining themselves over and against everyone else. If you don’t hold tightly to the exact formulation of whatever doctrine it is is being discussed you get labelled a liberal. Which brings to mind the ‘don’t throw the word liberal at me as a dirty word speech’ from series 7 of the West Wing.

[UPDATE – on labels check this out from the wonderful Real Live Preacher]

When it comes to integral mission, it still frustrates me that some people seem to read the bible with blinkers, and can’t see that mission in its truest sense is a holistic thing. Insisting that social justice, environmental concern etc is part of God’s reconciling the whole of creation just seems to get me labelled as a liberal. Which I probably wear as a badge of honour because I’m stubborn. But the fundamental problem I am becoming convinced off, (and I don’t mean this in a superior way, and realise this post has been a bit facetious so far, so I apologise) is that too often we simply have too small a view of God. To read Colossians 1 and realise God isn’t just interested in reconciling humans but reconciling and restoring the entirety of creation is to have your view of God enlarged. So maybe in these debates as we wrestle we need to be asking ourselves not how we can write someone else off to make ourselves feel superior, but how big is our view of God in it all? and I sign off with a large dose of humility realising that I too am guilty of what I am railing against others for too often…

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7 thoughts on “Am I a liberal or is your God too small?”

  1. I’m hearing your righteous anger and I’m with you. It needs saying and I appreciate your particularly facetious tone. Great post.

  2. there’s probably also room for one on is our gospel too small on how we are reducing and removing the complexity from our understanding of the gospel to being about getting to heaven as opposed to living in the kingdom. But Transfarmer is exploring some of that better than I can…

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