Friday, July 17, 2009

How Theology Killed My Faith

First off, I'd like to apologize for yesterday's somewhat craptastic post. I think it's about as exciting as, well, sitting through a Lutheran service on Setting II. But it does give some background for the information in this post, which I think will be a bit more interesting.

Texas Lutheran requires all its students to take two theology classes. There's an introductory course that everyone has to take, and after that you have your pick of advanced classes. I had put off the intro course because I had this terrible fear of it being a kind of Sunday school for college credit, even though friends assured me that was not the case.

I finally got around to the intro class my junior year. It certainly wasn't Sunday school! We read books like Honest to God by John A.T. Robinson and Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich. Robinson said that instead of thinking of God as "up there" or "out there," we should think of God simply as love. Tillich said that faith was whatever our "Ultimate Concern" was and that God is "the ground of our being." Reading books like these illuminated the theological and intellectual canyon between clergy and laity in most denominations. Apparently Robinson's and Tillich's ideas were much less controversial among theologians and pastors than they were among ordinary members.

At first I was furious. I felt like these ideas had been kept from me as if I'd be too dense to understand them. And then I started pondering the implications of these ideas and got really furious. I thought, "Well, if it's all just metaphor and poetry, why bother?" Now I just think the Hindus beat these guys to that approach by a few thousand years.

I actually have more to say on this topic, but the point I want to make deserves its own post, which I'll probably put up sometime tomorrow.

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