I’ve been chewing over a variety of theological ideas with you all over the approximately year and a half that I’ve been blogging. These have been supplemented by long conversations with my good friend Ben (who’s not blogging theology right now), as well as a variety of books I’ve mentioned.
Ben and I have come to the realization that four key concepts do a pretty good job of summarizing where we’re departing from the Evangelical mainstream, and in these four areas we find a clear call to re-focus our faith. The mnemonic “ROCK” helps me to think about them:
Rightly dividing the word – The concept that the Bible contains many words of God, though it is not, in its entirety “the Word of God.” Carefully, prayerfully, and in fellowship with others, discerning the words of God within the Biblical texts and narrative, is important to understanding God’s priorities and commands.
Open View of God & the future – Though it is wildly unpopular in orthodox Evangelical circles, the notion that God has released the control of certain decisions to his creation, and actually experiences those things unfolding in time, is a liberating perspective. It completely does away with the determinism of predestination, as well as a lot of the theodicy arguments of why a good God allows evil. In its place we find God interacting with his creation in a dynamic and sacrificial way, suffering with those who suffer even as he ministers to their wounds, or commissions his people so to minister. In the Open View, God calls us to work because he has work he ACTUALLY WANTS US TO DO.
Christus Victor as the model for atonement, within the context of a Warfare Worldview: This perspective recognizes that sin is not merely the failings of humans, but the corruption of a whole swath of creation (maybe all of it) by God’s enemies, the Principalities and Powers of which the New Testament writers spoke. Jesus’ death and (more especially) resurrection were key battles in that war, in which we are now engaged with God in fighting to take back territory and citizens occupied and enslaved by the enemy. Paradoxically, as the weapon of Jesus’ victory was to take on death and defeat it by rising anew, so our greatest weapon is to take on hatred and defeat it with his love, for our weapons are not carnal.
Kingdom citizenship – We understand the salvation of Jesus not to be simply a future escape from earth to heaven, but rather his naturalizing us into citizenship in his kingdom (the new creation) here and now. As God breathed into Adam the breath of life in the first creation, so Jesus breathes into his disciples the Breath (Spirit) of new life in the new creation. With our new citizenship we are now aliens in this present enslaved world, and we (individually as citizens, and collectively as embassies or outposts of the kingdom) are called to work as reconciling ambassadors and members of a divine resistance, participating with Christ to take back his territory and his people from the slavery under which they now live. Our goal is not to get people “believing” in a “religion;” it’s to help people to recognize who is their true king–to bow the knee to Jesus as Lord now, and then to join us as citizens of Jesus’ growing kingdom.
These four concepts have the capacity to ROCK some dearly-held doctrines. But I hope the will also ROCK a few lives and maybe even ROCK a church or two! ROCK on!