It's All Theology Anyway

April 19th, 2011
Photo © Ed Yourdon | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

The conventional wisdom is that lay people are not interested in theology. Perhaps they don't think in those terms, but many of their issues are just that--theological. And if they are active in mission, then they have even more occasion to think about what they believe and why.

Not only that, but all churches have people who run the theological gamut in their beliefs. Just in my Sunday School class alone, we have folks who were raised or who are former members of the Catholic church, Lutheran church, Presbyterian church, Baptist church, no church, Korean Methodist church, United Methodist church, and another Baptist church. We even have an agnostic. In our church, the range is even broader. 

In fact, one of our best-loved Sunday School leaders is a Calvinist. She whole-heartily believes in double predestination and teaches from that perspective. While at first I was troubled that her theology was not Wesleyan, over the years, I have grown to appreciate her. Because while she talks like a Calvinist, she lives like a Wesleyan--extending God's grace to all.

But her beliefs about predestination did come up in a coffee we had at our house last week. A friend who is visiting the church asked what we, as United Methodists, believe about that particular doctrine. When the discussion moved into the arena of grace, she suddenly said, "If predestination is true, then Jesus did not die for everyone." Bingo! She nailed it. Guess why she was visiting our church...because she was attracted to our church's mission and witness in the community.

I don't know about you, but in my experience, when people are actively engaged in mission and sacrifice their time, talents, and money, they want to be able to stand firm and know what they believe. It is not enough to simple feel good doing good for others; people want to know that what they do in God's name really matters to God. And if that is not theology, then nothing is.

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