i've been consciously/subconsciously wrestling with something the last couple weeks -- an 'aha' from which popped into my head the other morning. i'll start earlier though. but i'll preface it all with this: if you don't wrestle with concepts/opinions, then your reality is probably thin.
so a couple weeks ago (as described in previous post), lauren and i went to this great music festival. the generalized definition of the larger portion of attendees at said festival were definitely of the hippie/grateful dead-ish persuasion. while i definitely consider myself to have some 'hippie' elements, i would never classify myself wholly as such, as so many other qualities and characteristics come along with such a categorization.
one such component, is the 'everything goes'/'love and accept everyone's beliefs'/'don't worry be happy' mentality. brett dennen was one such artist promoting this, as was martin sexton. i appreciate the push that these types of encouragements are meant to have -- especially in our present times where discrimination still runs high, where conservative christians tend to look like judgemental hypocrites, where war seems to be the solution to most large scale problems, and where it generally seems that people hate what is different. but something that dawned on me was this: there is an unfathomable difference between trite inclusivism, and thoughtful universalism... with the 'peace love happiness' mantra being the former.
what leads me to be suspicisous about trite inclusivism, is that i don't believe there is usually much thought behind it. i see that there is often much passion, but usually suspect that there hasn't been much scrutiny behind the belief. it is often obvious (to me) that those in this realm of thinking simply jump on the bandwagon as a way to qualify their do-what-they-want actions.
what then is thoughtful universalism? a little backstory first. back in seminary, i became captivated with theologian Jurgen Moltmann. briefly, Moltmann has a very wide-reaching, outside-the-box theological mind. he asks good questions, and doesn't presume to know the boundaries of God - but has an stunningly beautiful way of writing about God. his words and his thinking pierce my heart. Moltmann's christology is cosmic in scope -- meaning it is far-reaching: that the scope of christ's atoning work on the cross is infinitely larger than we can imagine. this has resonated with me since i first began to read Moltmann. and practically, it resonated most in a precept during seminary when a theology professor asked this question during a discussion on Christ as THE Way: "if we suppose Christ as THE Way, and we accept his atoning work by accepting him into our hearts with the decision to live for him, then how do we suppose the mentally handicapped accept this redemption that God offers?" what he was saying, is that if we as christians presume that the only way "to heaven" is "to consciously pray and accept jesus into our hearts", then are the mentally incapable S.O.L.?
this is a difficult thing to wrestle with -- to believe that Christ is THE WAY, but to also believe that God is bigger than we can presume. is Christ the redeemer of humanity? or is Christ the redeemer of the universe? how big of a picture of Christ are willing to paint? how small of a box are we willing to risk keeping our Christ in? these are questions that we are CALLED to ask -- to wrestle with. seeking truth, I.M.H.O., is immeasurably more important than pleasing/including others. what lines up with the Kingdom? what lines with up with this world? what seems like a self-centered-pursuit? what seems like a loving, selfless endeavor?
so i ask: is Christ the ONLY way? HOW is Christ the only way? can we fully determine/explain how Christ is the only way? can we ever completely and concretely know how God ultimately works?
Christ must increase, i must decrease...