drowning in truth

(non-Christian readers, this may be incredibly boring to you- i’m sorry)

This may be the best or the worst spring break ever, depending on how you look at it. Monday I got my top wisdom teeth out and yesterday I returned to the doctor for yet another appointment to try to get my asthma under control (not being able to breathe is no fun)… and now both my mouth and lungs are feeling much better but my mind hurts. No it’s not a headache, but such a tangled swarm of thoughts and ideas that I cannot sort out…

This spring break my goal was to read a few books for my senior capstone project. I’m doing a research paper on the emerging church and doing a seminar on what youth ministry may look like in the emerging church (if I can manage to pull this all off…). I wanted to read three books this break but that may not happen (thanks to feeling sick the whole beginning of the week). But I am reading a lot and my mind is simply overloaded with ideas…

I’m trying to figure out this seminary -vs- working -vs- working and going to seminary decision. What should I do next with my life? I spent hours yesterday looking for part-time youth ministry jobs in the LA area and felt extremely discouraged. I didn’t really want to work at any of the churches. They were either all about “high-octane-energy-outreach” or babysitting the church kids and being an amazing communicator. yuck… And then I found a youth ministry job that actually made my heart jump with excitement- only it’s on the north-side of Chicago, not in LA. hmm… what does that mean?

But today that seminary -vs.- working decision went a little deeper than the practical issues of moving, money, timing, Mike, etc. What is the purpose of seminary? How important is it that I go now? I wanted to go to seminary right after undergraduate because I have not had a lot of time to take biblical studies classes or theology classes and I decided that I needed to know a lot more truth for myself before I could be a witness to truth to others.

But today, as I read, I had to ask myself, how important is [propositional] truth? How important is correct doctrine? How important is systematic theology? I know that Truth is extremely important (Truth being the person and work of Jesus), but how important is truth (with the little “t”)? How important is a seminary education to being a minister? Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God and love people, and he wanted his followers to know the truth of who he was, but how much did Jesus stress that his followers have correct doctrine?

My mind is drowning in truth today because there seems to be so many competing truths in Christianity that divide us while there is only one Truth. And if I know the Truth, and I am trying to love God and love people, and I am trying to know who Christ truly is, how important is correct doctrine? And if it is essential, what is a Christian supposed to do when so many truths seem to be competing?

As a Christian community we seem to be in the middle of a giant conversation trying to figure out all these truths. I love these conversations in my own life- discussing theology, alternative views, and surrounding myself with people who think differently than I do- but can truth ever really be found? (truth, not Truth) I believe that a lot of truth is only for God to know and will remain a mystery to us here on earth… so should I ever claim to know those mysterious truths or simply join in the conversation about them? How much energy should we pour into this conversation about truth? Or should we simply focus on loving the Truth and following him?

I would love your thoughts on truth, on having correct doctrine, and on going to seminary.

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6 thoughts on “drowning in truth

  1. for what it’s worth, i think doctrine is overrated. i don’t say that to negate its importance, but quite simply, i think we have far too often used it as a distraction from actually living what jesus taught: show people the Way, feed the poor, help & love people. i kind of hold to the idea that right beliefs (orthodoxy) is only important to the extent of how it affects our right living (orthopraxy).

    these are big decisions, eh!? isn’t being a twentysomething grand?? đŸ˜‰

    if i may ask, why are you wanting to head to LA? sounds like you’re currently in chicago…?

    ooh, and here’s a great interview you might like about thriving amidst differences: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2096/is_1_55/ai_n13798048

  2. Thanks Josh- I really appreciate your comment, and I have to say that I’m in the same boat as you- orthodoxy is pointless if there is no orthopraxy or the motivation is wrong… I have to believe that God cares a lot more about our hearts than our knowledge.

    And LA? I want to go to Fuller- I’m kinda sold-out on it.

    Finally, thanks for the article- I’m a big Campolo and Clairborne fan so I like it!

  3. Great post. having worked and been in seminary for four years, and now finishing up seminary full-time for a year, there are quite a number of pros and cons.

    I agree with Josh that doctrine has traditionally been over-rated… but at the same time there’s a lot of us, including myself, who shoot our mouths off without really knowing what we’re talking about, and what’s already happened in the ongoing ‘conversation’…

    it’s such a huge topic, and a personal question, i can’t put all my thoughts down on it at the moment. but feel free to email me any specific questions, or i’ll chime in here as things come up.

    blessings and joy on the journey forward!

  4. yeah, fuller’s a great place… got a good friend there right now! rock on — keep us posted if you’re coming this way!

  5. I spent 3 days hanging around Fuller a couple of months ago. I’ve been on staff at a church for 8 years and not gone to seminary, so it was a great thing for me to get a glimpse of it all. Only a glimpse. One thought I couldn’t help having was “It’s alot different sitting in a classroom thinking about church than it is actually doing it.” Not that it isn’t good preparation. And you definitely need a strong theology in todays world.

    I’d be in favor of a both-and approach. Or at least get enough ministry under your belt that you are asking the right questions in seminary. If it is local church ministry that is your ultimate goal.

    My two cents. You are young…lots of options! I can’t wait to see how it all works out for you. You are an amazing woman!

  6. Maria,

    Obviously I’m a bit biased – I love Fuller and I’m glad I’m here right now. Looking back on the short time I worked in a ministry setting, I can think of a lot of things I’m better prepared for or would do differently looking back.

    But I also recognize it’s an individual thing – I don’t know how prepared I would feel for vocational ministry without a few years to sort out some of my own questions and thoughts. I also love the academic side of it, so I don’t feel constrained or restricted because of the academic setting, which frustrates some people I know here.

    There’s lots of great pastors who haven’t been to seminary (and probably some of the best don’t work in churches or do vocational ministry, but that’s another topic). Seminary isn’t necessary for everyone, but I think it has a lot to offer if it fits your style of learning/ministry/etc.

    A final note, one thing I appreciate about Fuller is that they’re asking the same kinds of questions you did in this post – i.e., what is the point of seminary, how do you engage postmodernists thinkers, what role does Christianity play in a pluralistic culture, etc. Fuller isn’t perfect, but it also doesn’t think it’s perfect.

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