Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Variable Theological Leanings

I was recently asked if I consider myself a liberal, conservative, or middle of the road. Since I struggle with identifying myself in this way, I said middle of the road. For some reason, I felt the need to elaborate and continued, "When I am in liberal settings, I find myself more conservative, and when in conservative settings more liberal." The person I was talking with said, okay, so middle of the road. Another person chimed in, and flexible!

I don't know if flexible quite gets it, but I tend to emphasize theological aspects and categories that seem absent from whatever my current setting is. In a church full of people who see no problem with ordaining homosexual pastors and fully including homosexuals I tend to emphasize the need to wrestle with some scripture and traditional theological paradigms. In other settings where there is fear of homosexuals being fully included in the church community, my emphasis is on the universal nature of Jesus' message and the challenges to traditional thinking that Christ often offers.

Perhaps at the heart of it, my theology is ecclesiological. I am constantly fully aware of other positions that faithful Christians take and I tend to emphasize the inclusion of ideas contrary to the accepted norm of the culture in which I find myself. Meanwhile I have to be honest with myself that I am one person who does ultimately fall somewhere on the continuum--I think relatively close to the middle.

Do you find that your theological leanings vary based on your setting? If so, do you tend to take on some of the theology in which you are surrounded or do you tend in the opposite direction?


gavin richardson said...

i think you named it when you called the deciding factor "absent" of certain aspects. it is a place where we do more informing so that decisions are not made blindly

Cobalt said...

I do this, too. When I'm talking with atheists I feel a need to prove that theists can be rational, too. On the other hand, when I'm talking to religious people, I feel a need to prove that atheists can be good, too. This kind of role-switching is probably the result of me being a non-Christian theist, which means that I'm both out of place and perfectly at home with whomever I'm talking to, just in different ways.

I think it's extremely valuable to take on the less-expressed perspective, because it not only ensures that you continue evaluating things critically, but that people around you do, too. I think you're doing people a great service.