One of my favorite shows on TV right now has to be Parks and Recreation. Not necessarily because of the content, but because of the exaggerated characters it brings together. Andy Dwyer is probably the best representation of the exaggeration. He is basically a seven-year old in an adult body. In an episode featuring Andy helping the Parks and Rec department out with an Opossum problem the following exchange takes place: Andy: When you’re in a situation, you don’t have time to think. So I thought to myself, “Don’t think, Andy. Act.”
Tom: So you weren’t thinking.
Andy: Not at all. I cannot emphasize enough how little I was thinking. It’s quotes like this that typify his character and just make him a joy to watch. It really is like watching a kid in adult shoes who refuses to engage society with any sense of discernment or intelligibility. The scary revelation that I come to through the character of Andy Dwyer is that all to often this can even describe those of us who claim to belong to the Way.
I guess what I am trying to say is this. There are a lot of things about our faith and doctrine that are hard to understand, much less communicate to others. But does that mean we should give up and just talk without giving thought to them? Does this mean that we don’t wrestle with concepts like The Trinity, The fully divine/mortal revelation of Christ, the Atonement, free will, etc.? By no means. In fact, if we don’t wrestle with these things then how do we expect to be able to bring others into a full understanding of who Christ is and the forgiveness offered through the cross. And all the more, if this wrestling with doctrinal issues does not guide our speech/breaking of the Word before others, then are we being faithful to the Church?
1 Timothy 4:14-16 reads, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” By watching our doctrine we save our hearers? If this is something we truly believe then we are accountable for the words we speak especially in regards to issues that communicate beliefs essential to who we are as Christ followers. This is especially true for those who stand in the pulpit (present company included) and for those who have been ordained in whatever tradition they belong to (present company also included :)).
And so what do I propose? Study to show yourself approved. We have been given two millennium of heritage and tradition handed down to us by some of the greatest minds ever who coincidentally enough belonged to the Church. Names like Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Augustine, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Zwingli, Luther, Arminius and Wesley. These are all names we should at least be somewhat familiar with. Here are men who made it their lives’ work to wrestle with issues essential to our identity and can even help us struggle with them today.
So I guess it comes down to whether or not we choose to think about such things or not. But one way or another, eventually we will all be accountable for these hard things and how we treated them.