Living With Theological Tension

“What happens when two groups of people hold opposite views on a subject, yet each can point to Scripture to back them up?”

That question came up Tuesday morning in a small group study session I sometimes attend.

It’s a good question.

One guy in the group is very hard-core. He’ll flip to 1 Corinthians in a flash to show how we should judge people within our church and not be afraid to kick them out.

He has a point. Allowing people in the congregation–which should be like a family–to flagrantly mock the beliefs of the group is akin to a cancer that can grow rapidly. Treatment–remove the cancer.

However, others (like me) point also to Galatians 6. When you confront that situation, do not do so with a spirit of vengeance, almost glee. Do so with a spirit of love. Bearing others burdens.

Jesus had a name for the former. He called them Pharisees. John (the apostle) called them children of the darkness. But we can take that analogy too far. Sometimes they are mere rule followers.

But they do have a point. And so do the others.

Think of other issues. Right now a hot topic is treatment of or acceptance of homosexual people. One side takes a verse from Paul. The other takes a broader look at more Scriptures. How do you handle that?

There is no other way that is beneficial and in keeping with Jesus’ commands to love one another than to live in theological tension. It is not all bad that one side cannot “win” the argument. Sometimes we are asking the wrong question. Then we draw the wrong lines. Our human nature seeks resolution. It’s like ending a song on the Dominant Seventh. That note is tension. We crave to hear the Tonic note. Sometimes it doesn’t come. Sometimes we need to live in that tension long enough to

As I told another guy about the Creation controversy (which I again think we’re arguing the wrong question), “If your faith depends upon God creating the world in six 24-hour days, then far be it from me to try to tear it down. I don’t agree. But in the end, it doesn’t matter.” He and I agree on the resurrection of Jesus and coming into a right relationship with God by accepting His grace through faith. Other issues are merely straw horses meant to divide us. Instead we should just be witnesses to our receiving grace through Jesus. Just keep it simple–we both agreed.

I can live in tension. I sort of like it. Life lived in tension leads to a creative life. If we have resolved all the tensions, then we are in danger of becoming fat, dumb, and lazy as the old country saying puts it.

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