Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Typical Theological Conversation

Theology, the foundation of any religion, is easily spaghettified by any generation that needs to twist it into the status quo.  Sometimes, the old guard fights back and recruits young-uns to wave the banner flag for their cause, becoming more shrill as the rest of humanity moves on.  

The following is a typical conversation one might have with a layperson of Christianity, where there is no "winning" the argument because, after all, theology can answer everything.

Skeptic: If you claim that we can look at our bodies and see God's handiwork, because of the perfectly functioning systems, all working together, why is there cancer?

Believer:  Because, when Adam and Eve sinned, destruction started to happen in our bodies, due to the curse (jargon).

Skeptic:  Wait!  Two things.  First, if sin is what causes cancer, then, when we are without sin, in Christ (jargon tossed in here for effect), why do we still get cancer?  Second, if cancer was part of the curse, why was it not specifically mentioned by God, but rather, only some sort of toil stress and sweaty curse was mentioned?

Believer:  Well, even though we are alive in Christ, we still have our earthly bodies and must follow the same laws of all other bits of humanity.  Also, it didn't matter about what God mentioned in the curse.  Adam and Eve were given the curse of death, which manifests itself in cancer.

Skeptic:  If we have to follow the rules of all other bits of humanity, then why was Jesus and some of his followers able to heal, using the magical laws of supernaturalism?

Believer:  Well...first of all, that was Jesus.  Second, those were apostolic times (jargon).  We don't have that ability anymore.

Skeptic:  Huh?!  Why not!?  Other denominations would disagree and even claim to have healed others.  But, if this were possible, why are people not flocking to healing sessions?  Why is it not on camera?  Why do we have no real human beings standing up and saying - I WAS HEALED!!!...and then God would be glorified (jargon) and many would be healed?

Believer:  There are, I guess.  You just have to Google them.  But Jesus also told somebody not to tell everyone about the healing he had done to him.

Skeptic:  Yes, but Jesus also told someone TO tell everyone.  But, back to the beginning...why doesn't God heal everyone who asks him?  He actually says he will in the Bible.

Believer: Their heart wasn't right.

Skeptic:  What!!!???  How can you even SAY that!  Jesus says that if you believe in me, you are no longer a member of darkness, but of light (jargon).  So, how on earth can your heart NOT be right?  You're part of the freaking club!

Believer:  True, but consider Ananias and Sapphira.  They were part of the club and yet lied about stuff and had to die.

Skeptic:  Okay, wait... That doesn't even make sense.  You're part of the club that states you are in darkness only if you're not a member of said club, but you CAN do something dark, which then requires death then, but not in this era?

Believer:  Some things are a mystery.

Skeptic:  No, some things are unbelievable for a reason.

And to all the theologians that think they could win the above argument, you obviously missed the point.


  1. Some things are a mystery = total cop out. We have cancer because God created this consistent universe, where it "rains on the just and unjust", and yeah, we are never promised that life is a bed of roses for christians more than for anyone else. Human bodies function according to nature and science, and this includes illness, birth defects, etc.

    1. Excellent analysis for your line of theology. What then do you say about the sins of Israel? Every single time they sinned, they got the shaft. Seems like God makes up his rules as he goes along. He requires obedience to his laws and then.....doesn't sometimes?

  2. 1. Old covenant- basically "you follow the laws I've given, I'll make sure you as an ethnic group don't get wiped out." Mercy can fit within that framework- it's like my attendance policy with my students, which is basically "x number of absences, and I have the right to kick you out of my piano studio forthwith." I have that rule in place so I can kick out those who I think aren't taking this seriously, but if a kid is legitimately sick, out of town, etc. I can choose to keep them. The rules let me make individual decisions based on the situation, while giving me the horsepower to kick out who I think deserves it without having to listen to the "that's not fair" stories. (limited analogy, I know- God's not some mean piano teacher in the sky, but it's a conceptual analysis of mercy in the framework of law) Under the old covenant, they really did get the shaft when they messed up, at least most of the time, and, while God was working in some pretty barbaric eastern cultures, there are things He commanded, like the genocide for example, that I struggle with. A pragmatic analysis might say- "well, the genocide was for the purposes of eliminating a disease, or genetic purity, or preventing a future coup/attempted extinction by the other guys, etc."- who knows? While I'll never say that God "just didn't intend for us to know x", the fact remains that we don't have a complete view of ancient history- we have archaeology and some limited records; that's about it.

    I don't think God's rules were ever purposeless, even if the purpose was to add ritual and liturgy as a way of preserving certain ideas- take the "kill the bird in a bowl over running water" stuff. =) For me, not knowing the purpose of doesn't mean there isn't one; (proving negatives is rather difficult) it means that we haven't figured it out yet.

    2. New covenant- basically, "you're responsible for your own actions, love God and others, and keep the commands I (Jesus) give- but there's mercy and forgiveness when you mess up, because now you're ready for direct revelation and divine relationship, instead of just being given a rule list."

    1. Isn't it interesting that trying to describe the "Old Covenant" takes so many words? Essentially, it's due to giving excuses for the stupid ideas that that God manifested. Seriously, give the Bible another go - without the hangups of religiosity - and see the evil being for what he really was.