Asking the hard questions Are we living in the day when the US church no longer...
There are many aspects of our Reformed/Presbyterian tradition for which I am thankful. One aspect in particular is our focus on the life of the mind. We deeply value education, study, and wrestling with theological implications as we engage in present culture. There have certainly been weaknesses associated with this strength such as occasionally having an overly cerebral faith that doesn’t engage our heart and passion. Nevertheless, I am still thankful for the many benefits that come with valuing the mind.
One of ECO’s values that has been newly redesigned is having a “Livable Theology”. This value has sparked some great conversations among many leaders. Is a Livable Theology somehow watering down the depth of our theological heritage? The answer is definitely no! What a livable theology entails is that we want to take all of our rich theology and make sure it is influencing our lives and the ministry of our churches.
Sometimes there is a false dichotomy between practical ministry and a depth of theology. In reality, our theology should inform decisions for our churches as well as our individual lives. We constantly want to be asking, “how does the truth of our Reformed theology influence our ministry?”. We want to answer tough questions that our culture is wrestling with in a way that is faithful to Scripture and our Reformed tradition.
While I am thankful for other evangelical traditions and the way they engage in ministry, I am also keenly aware that there are unique (or at least slightly nuanced) answers to some challenging questions that we in ECO provide. These questions include those of evil and suffering in the world, the posture toward the larger culture, human identity, sexuality, the question of science and faith, and the responsibilities we have to steward what the Lord has entrusted to us.
I am writing this article on my way back from preaching at First Presbyterian of Edmond, Oklahoma. While there, one of the youth Sunday School teachers was asking me about recommended books for adults and older teens to read and discuss as they engage in an increasingly post-Christian world. His heart was the same as many others who ask, “How do we equip our students to live out their faith into the world?” We all need to pursue a livable theology, and encourage our young people to pursue it as well as they grow up in the faith through our local ECO churches.
ECO’s Livable Theology is probably one of the most exciting values to me personally. What I sense in our ECO churches is a true desire to not accommodate the winds of culture, but at the same time not to withdraw from meaningful interaction that will truly transform our surroundings. I think a livable theology is one of the gifts, unique to our particular ethos, that ECO can offer. It is honestly what is attracting people from non-denominational frameworks to be a part of our movement – knowing that we as a denomination will not just protect our theological concepts, but to integrate them into our lives and ministries.
How are you living out your theology in your local context where God has called you? My prayer is that we would constantly be engaging our minds and our hearts in order that God would be glorified and that His light and love would shine through each of us to those who do not yet know Him. We are always praying for you, your partnership in ministry, and I am grateful to be on this journey of faith together.