Age Appropriate Theology: Grow Up!

Here’s the Script to the Video “Age Appropriate Theology: A Challenge to Grow Up. I wanted to post it here because I mis-spoke a couple of times and I think the intended text helps clear up some badly chosen words, as my memory and delivery are not the best. Enjoy.

Let’s define Christian theology as faith seeking understanding in context of others, the church if you will. With that, I’d like to challenge you to seek an age appropriate theology. Let me explain.

I have this nightly routine I do with my daughter. We watch a Bible video for kids then we go through some important scriptures and pithy doctrinal statements to commit to memory, and we end tuck-in time with a prayer.

My hope is that someday when my daughter has her coming of age years and any type of identity crisis that may come from those years, she’ll let me let me remind her that what I taught her as a child was a child level Christianity; but when she has finally reached an age where she can choose, she needs to take what I gave her as a child and use it to develop an age appropriate knowledge, because thats what disciples do.

So many Christians want a Christianity as simple as they were taught as children but that type of faith is more often then not a Sunday school level Christianity. It’s just not big enough for the kingdom of God or the world with all its weight, depth, complexities, and practicalities. Sunday school lessons are not discipleship faith. Adults in the Information Age of the 21st century have no excuse if the faith they were taught as children doesn’t have enough depth to answer the basic problems we must answer as adults.

Maybe some examples will help here?

When you were a child you were taught that God made the heavens and the earth. But as an adult you must reconcile the fact that a disciple says in the beginning was the Word, was Jesus. Genesis 1:1 has to be united with John 1:1! Jesus is our beginning and our end. Child level explanations will not be enough to organize a good, and just, and beautiful, and wise life, and will definitely not be enough to tackle your life’s problems.

If Christian theology is faith seeking understanding (in the church) then your trust in Christ better be towards the Father, by the power of Holy Spirit at an age appropriate level. And I don’t mean your calendar age here. That was an analogy.

You see, my daughter may be content with a child level theology now but the Church isn’t 4 years old. You may have been taught adolescent theology but if you stay content with a theology that hasn’t grown much past a high school level I think it’s time to grow again my friend.

Let’s take Calvinism as another example since I am a Reformed Christian and I feel most comfortable speaking on what I know. Did you know you could be a reformed Christian and not a Calvinist btw? Well, that’s for another video. The point here is to focus on The perspective embodied in “TULIP” Calvinism. Actually, Calvinism started with an Augustinian orientation: An augustinian Theology is built off of an intuition to understand while having a faith that is faithful to the power God has. Enter Calvinism…

Calvinism takes that orientation and stretches it to a logical conclusion. God is so powerful, so big, so in control He is actually in control of everything, directly. If this is true and not just a theology then all questions are answered by it and essentially pointless because not only do all answers move breath and have their being in God but so do all questions. He’s the one doing it, not me, because that’s the power He has and exercises, always.

Augustinian Christianity and Calvinism are old in the Christian tradition. But we live in the 21st century, not the 4th or 16th. I’m reflecting to challenge you to an age appropriate theology for a faith best positioned to seek and be in understanding, in our age, and I’m asking here in our context if Calvinism is appropriate? Or better yet is it even enough for where we’re at in history? It’s obviously crucial to our heritage but is it our system if you will? Assuming your a Reformed Christian.

Disciples who want to be innocent as a child but wise as serpents should intuitively see the cracks in Calvinism. I am confident it is not big enough of an understanding of our older faith and great God. It is only enough if you are willing to remain at that Augustinian Calvinistic level of Christianity and limit the data those systems can load and bear which admittedly can feel like a lot.

I think my daughter’s nightly routine will help analogically here. What I hope to do with her someday, I must do with you, right now, if you’re a Calvinist. It’s time to grow up!
Faith seeking understanding must be a way of life for you at an age appropriate to our faith, hope, and love as an individuals and as heirs in God’s body of believers.

Without getting too technical here and bore people let’s just say Calvinism supposes God is in control as though He is not wise enough to rule and reign through his knowledge, and let you have genuine freedom by the capacities you have been given, in objective ways. I’m not saying your free or predestined, I’m just saying either the questions life has are real, and for you to have some role in, or they’re all illusions and are directly being organized by God’s power and we only think we have a say and way to understand them.

No, I think. It’s time for anyone with an ism to grow up and have a faith appropriate enough for the age were in if they’re capable of it.

This means that those questions are real and not an illusion, you have to figure them out, ask them, and play your purpose in God’s answer for them. That’s the key: God is that big but God is also that Small. He’s so small, so big, so obviously in front of us that we have a real purpose to show up and do something with that knowledge. We live in a universe changed by Jesus the Nazarene and that’s huge.

Reformation theology can guards our heart from the idolatrous stance that justification through faith by grace can have anything added it or taken away. But that ingenious truth unique to the Reformation is not big enough to be coherent to your purpose as an adopted child of God in an age with the internet and Moores law, to name a few unique circumstances of our age.

Calvinism is a great example of this: -isms and theological orientations may help you develop an age-appropriate theology and may embody the hearts of an age-appropriate theology but rarely are they in and of themselves enough to be an age appropriate theology for the world we are commissioned to be salt and light in.

Dallas Willard once said that, “with respect to many events in our future, God’s will is that we should determine what will happen.”

NT wright has some wisdom here that I think would be wise to remember as you seek faith that has a mature enough understanding to be bigger then any -ism that may get in the way. He has said that the church is pointless without both unity and holiness. So a bunch of holy-rollers out there doing their own thing alienate the sinner, the drunk, the prostitute, the homosexual. But a unified church with no holiness is a social gathering with no distinctiveness to its institutional powers.

If you’re trying be in that sweet spot of the faith, that is, a disciple always learning Jesus towards the Father, through the Spirit, you will have to continue to grow up. I hope as you learn a mature theology that embraces the 2,000 years of Bible, dogma, and philosophy we have as a body of Christ, you’ll come to know the heights, and depths, and width, and bigness, and smallness, of God in your life and not be afraid of Palageanism or a fruitless life because you’ll become mature enough to not even get caught in that game.

Thank you for not coping out. Don’t leave the questions and answers to God alone he didn’t create us to be a fun hologram with no substance. Thank you for actually trying to make some faithful steps to be God’s purpose…towards the Father, through the Son, by Holy Spirit.

Thanks for visiting RobertDryer.Com


For further reading on this subject please see 1st Corinthians 3 and this good piece by my buddy Joel Muddamalle: 3 Tips When Your theology is challenged

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