Archives For Theological Reflection


Last week, I introduced Gregory Boyd’s recent book Benefit of the Doubt in a post called Hitting the Faith Puck. This week I’ll continue interacting with Boyd as he presents his case against certainty-seeking faith.

In chapters 2-3 Boyd raises nine objections against certainty-seeking faith. I’ll share a brief description of each objection and make a few comments afterward in italics. I’ll have to split this one up into two posts. Just a head’s up: these reflections are more philosophic, psychological in nature. We will get to Scripture, just not yet.

The Case Against Certainty-Seeking Faith

  • Trying to convince ourselves of certainty, without pursuing further evidence for a belief, is irrational. We shouldn’t have to convince ourselves to believe in something more fully than the evidence warrants. Forcing “certainty” doesn’t work.

On the other hand, repetition of a certain belief (“I do believe, I do, I do, I do”) does seem to eventually convince. In recent times the case has convincingly been made that people who listen to one viewpoint for long enough become convinced it is correct (and are astonished that others could disagree!). But I agree with Boyd that this is not a preferred approach to greater certainty. Repetition does nothing to change the evidence we’ve encountered about a belief.

Continue Reading…

June turned out to be a sabbatical from blogging. It’s good to be back in the blogosphere.

The past month reminded me of graduate school perhaps more than any month since I graduated from Harding Grad in May 2006. It was a good month — heavy on reflection, writing and speaking.

The month’s events included:

  • Writing a review of Organic Leadership by Neil Cole for the July 2009 issue of the Christian Chronicle
  • Facilitating three sessions on Engaging Culture and another on Spiritual Formation Retreats at the Mission Alive Strategy Lab for church planters
  • Writing a paper entitled The Role of Social Justice in Church Planting Among the Urban Affluent — An Experiment in Process, which I presented at the Christian Scholars’ Conference at David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Joining the editorial board of a new journal called Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis, a publication I’m partnering with friends from Harding Grad to start — all of them in very diverse mission contexts.

It gives me tired head just thinking back through it. Yet I’m so glad for the opportunity to reflect and process. These are important seasons in the life of a church planter and can often be neglected. It’s much easier just to get out there and do it. At least until we create something we regret having created apart from deeper theological discernment.

The hard work is asking, “Why are we doing what we’re doing?” And “What does God want us to be doing and why?”

It’s one of the reasons I appreciate Mission Alive’s mantra of moving from theology to practice. If we don’t have seasons of theological reflection, then we move instead from practice to practice — from ministry fad to ministry fad. Theological reflection helps us to judge what embodies the kingdom of God for our context.

Isn’t that exactly what Paul was doing in his letters to the churches he helped to plant? He was doing theological reflection “on the fly” — in the context of specific mission points on the map. All of Paul’s letters are “occasional,” that is, written for a specific church or purpose and for a specific context or scenario. Even Romans. Especially Romans.

The occasional nature of Scripture makes me think twice before deeming anything a “universal truth,” as if truth looks the same for every time and place. Truth is, all truth is encased within a particular cultural context, which makes it all the more important to spend time translating such “encased truth” into contemporary cultural contexts.

Thus, as compensation for a long hiatus from blogging, over the next few days I’ll be blogging about what I learned from the above opportunities for writing and reflection, and how we might translate what I’ve been learning into our ministry context.