Between Two Worlds

Here's what I'm thinking tonight: I've found myself engaged in quite a lot of dialogue lately concerning theology. While I always welcome lively conversation, I find it can be especially frustrating.

I feel like I live between two worlds.

One one side, I'm a fundamentalist. Because I hold certain doctrines such as the divinity of Christ and the authority of Scripture to be non-negotiable, I'm seen as an old school Bible thumper.  Because I believe that Jesus is the only way for salvation I'm called "intolerant" or "bigoted."

On the other side, I'm a liberal. The church tradition from which I come, the independent Christian Churches, is known for being anti-intellectual, and rightly so. In the early twentieth century the intellectual movement among Western Christianity was driven by Biblical liberalism. People questioned essential doctrines and our churches responded by rejecting any intellectual approach to the Scriptures. It was a "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" response. So now, among some people in my fellowship, I can be perceived as a liberal; since I refuse to endorse certain extra-Biblical teachings, I'm just as wrong as the agnostic or the atheist.

So on one side I face people who believe nothing is concrete, a laissez faire approach to spirituality where everything goes. And on the other side, I'm confronted by those who believe that we know everything about God and there is no room for disagreement.

And there I am, the middle child, trying to play peacemaker. It's a good life.

I'll admit, it's an easier existence to live in one of those two worlds. When you live in the liberal world where everyone's right, you think it means everyone will be happy. But inevitably, someone's "rightness" infringes on your "rightness."

When you live in the fundamentalist world where everyone's wrong, it makes identifying the wrong people easy [anyone who disagrees with you is wrong]. And that's all well and good until you realize that everyone else in the entire world, in addition to 99.9% of all the people who ever lived, are wrong.

So, in which world do you live?

I'm naive enough to believe that there is room enough to live between the two worlds. There is truth from God that needs to be recognized, but there is also much that is mysterious about Him. There is voluminous information that can be discerned from examining creation and the Scriptures, but there is a limit to what we can pronounce undeniably. Unless we're prepared to dwell in a faith that's black and white with shades of grey, we'll beat our heads against brick walls trying to grasp the complexity that is God.

So even though it's a pain, I choose to live between these two worlds with the hope that dwelling here will somehow make a difference.

And that's what I'm thinking about tonight.