Monday, August 07, 2006

The Unexpected

So a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with someone who happens to be an educated leader in a major denomination (not mine, but one with which I'm more than a little familiar), and much to my surprise, our discussion got a little, um, lively. It wasn't tense; it wasn't hostile; but it was most definitely lively. And I can't quit thinking about it.

Initially I wasn't going to post about it because I think the Body is divided enough as it is. In my opinion we do a pretty good job of majoring on the minors, and I'm not really interested in some sort of bloggity showdown about when in the service we should take up the offering or if there should be drums in church or if there should be an altar call every week or every 6th Sunday or not at all. At some point, at least to my simplistic line of thinking, a person has to determine if he or she trusts the leadership in his or her church, and if the answer is yes, well, then, zip it. Last time I checked there were a whole lot of lost people in the world, and participating in or listening to conversations about important theological matters like the cold green beans at Family Night Supper and how if Mrs. So-And-So can't serve the food HOT, then she need not serve it at all - well, that really doesn't accomplish very much in terms of furthering the Kingdom.

Maybe I'm wrong. Call me crazy.

I'm not going to re-hash the whole conversation in question because I think it's unfair to the person on the other side of it. I don't want to misrepresent anything he said; I don't want to put words in his mouth; and I don't want to paint him in a theological corner where he never meant to stand. We only talked for about an hour, and it very well may be that if we had been able to hash out our viewpoints for longer, I would've come to a clearer understanding about what he meant. I wish that had been the case, because, honestly, I'm still shaking my head about it all.

D. has been my sounding board for the last week, especially, and I don't think there's any angle we haven't covered. I've talked to a couple of friends about it - though not for nearly as long as I have with D. - and we've been in agreement. I think that MAY be because we've all grown up around pretty similar teachings, and that's why I'm opening up the discussion here. I guess I'm in need of a little extra iron to sharpen my own.

Anyway, here's the statement - my statement - that started it all (it's one that I've also written here on the blog in recent weeks):

"God is Sovereign. He knew this would happen and that He would allow it."

The person I was talking to disagreed with me, essentially saying that there's a realm of stuff that God just doesn't mess with. God is present, he said, but accidents happen. If you go stand in the middle of an interstate, odds are you'll get hit by a car. God gives us free will and we suffer the consequences (and I agree that we have free will, by the way, though I think my take on it is a bit different).

What do you think? And please know - I am NOT trying to create division. I'm just trying to make sense of it all. Is the viewpoint of the person I was talking to commonplace? Am I the odd (wo)man out on this one? I mean, I'm used to being a little more liberal on some issues than many of my denominational counterparts, but I don't think I've ever felt more Southern Baptist than I did in the middle of that particular conversation. :-)

And please, go easy on me - and others - in the comments. Grace and mercy should be the order of the day. As always.

I will return to my normal, mildly amusing topics in the next post. I promise. :-)


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