An Attempt to Get You Thinking about the Importance and Relevancy of Ministering To Teens In a Whole New Way

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fantastical Theology

  • I was watching history channel the other day and there was a show about end times. It was pretty good for the most part. There was, of course, a historical focus on the eschatological views of the early Roman Catholic Church; moving into the reformation they discussed protestant views as well. The most interesting aspect of the show was the look at the effects on the people. The people being the Church authorities and the parishioners. It was interesting to look at the way that the leaders of the Catholic Church used the teaching of eschatology in art and architecture and theater. The purpose was not to promote a fear of God and His majesty, sovereignty, and holiness that would naturally draw parishioners to God. Instead the exact opposite purpose was the objective. The intention instead was to draw people closer to the church through a fear of what will happen if they leave the church or sin against the church.

  • Later in the show as history progressed to the present age and current views History Channel interviewed various philosophers and theologians from various churches and institutions. To represent the Baptist views of eschatology there was a man named John Hagee. He is a pastor who is known for his dispensational preaching. If you have not heard of him Google him and you may be able to see the timeline that wraps half was around the his quasi-mega church sanctuary. Seriously dispensational , ...seriously.

  • I began to wonder, why John Hagee. He is not the best representation of Baptist but rather a part of them. So why not some other guy like Al Mohler or John Macarthur? Well, sadly it is in the best interest of the History channel to have a fanatic dispensationalist rather than the cultural commentator or a very thoughtful and reputable theologian. Why is this? Honestly … it creates a better fantasy for the viewer to have john Hagee get really dogmatic about his veiws as if they are the only way.

  • Think about it, what is the main draw to strong religious views which are seemingly surreal? To help you understand my point, and keep you from thinking bad things about me here are some examples: Eschatology , the working Holy Spirit, Speaking in tongues as a sign of salvation, and following standards as a means of sanctification are a few examples of strong religious views. So what is the draw? Fantasy.

  • The idea of vast systematic stories which can be stretched to the limits of ones imagination is really fun and is a great hobby. Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings are a few fantasy systems that people put a lot of time, energy, and money into. There are numerous flat, round, static, and dynamic characters that can be loved and hated. The settings are never simple but intricate and complex with unimaginably vibrant colors and are full of machines and creatures that bend the limits of natural science. The story lines are amazingly twisted web of climax and pitfalls filling us with anxiety, hope, and excitement all at once. These are very entertaining and "romantic" emotions that can cause us to connect the story to many or all aspects of real life.

  • Similarly, we often create fantasy realms around different systems of biblical doctrine and theology. Strangely enough there seems to be certain hot topic issues that people commonly create a fantasy around. The doctrine of end times seems to be the favorite fantasy doctrine of many Baptists, thank you Tim LaHaye. Bringing things to a local level, while in seminary is it is easy to fantasize about our studies and the potential we have with them. It is also easy to fantasize about how amazing the topic of the class to the point that we forget to relate the class to real life ministry. I propose rather than fantasizing about eschatology or other aspects of biblical doctrine we should be "practicalizing" it. I may have just made up the word "practicalizing" but it says what I want said. Be aware of the temptation to fantasize your classes, reading, or research. We are still sinners dependant on God to do anything that we aspire to do with our seminary training. Also we will move on to minister to folk with various degrees of biblical knowledge needing to be fed God's truth in different ways.

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