Pardon Me, But Your Theology is Showing...

sausage1-1.JPG Generally speaking, I like sausage. This affinity exists despite full awareness of what sausage is and how it's made. Of course I don't want to be asked to consider sausage making stratagems as I'm buttering my waffles on Saturday morning. Just give me some nice juicy links or patties, it doesn't matter which, and don't bother me with the details. Perhaps it would be wise to consider the effect that consumption of sausage may have, say on my circulatory system. But I don't worry about that either. Since my wife does happen to find the content and process of sausage particularly troubling, I am not afforded many opportunities to partake. Thus I revel in my status as a sausage lover while rarely indulging in its pleasing aromas and robust flavors.

More and more people are beginning to think about God in a manner similar to the way I think about sausage. Many of us are okay with God being out there. We have vague ideas about God. He loves us for example. I mean, why wouldn't he love us? We're so cool. But listen, part of being cool is not getting too crazy about religion or theology or any of that stuff. When we're in a serious bind we know that we can hit God up to bail us out, right? Sure we could all stand to be a little bit more serious or committed or whatever, but when people take all that stuff too seriously it only causes issues. So we do what we can but far be it from us to go too far overboard.

There's actually a bona fide sociological term that was coined awhile back by our friends at the University of Notre Dame, particularly Dr. Christian Smith, for this way of thinking about God (not sausage). It's called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism or as I like to call it MTD. It's like this: Be good. If you need him God will help you when you ask. Otherwise he need not interfere with your life. Simple. Easy. No mess.

By attaching a name to MTD Dr. Smith did something brilliant. He called out of the shadows a theology, a way of thinking about and discussing God, created by and for people who would likely take exception to suggestions that they cling steadfast to any theology in particular. After all subscribing too rigidly to any theology or worse, religion makes one a little crazy, right? But MTD is sort of like people who are repulsed by sausage swearing it off and dedicating themselves to a steady diet of Spam.

I bring this up because American churches are chock full of MTD's. Thus when I mention passages of the Bible like Micah 6:8 or James 1:27 someplace like last week's blog, many people take notice, blink hard, and think tenderly, "Finally, someone who gets me!"  Well if that's you then you might be disappointed, but hopefully only for a short time. That's because I believe that if we do properly "do justice and love kindness" and "visit orphans and widows in their affliction" it will only be because we have our theology properly aligned. Not the other way around. Thus over the next several weeks I'd like write about a few of those pesky theological details, why they matter, and what practical difference they make. Along the way you may have a question or want to chime in, in which case I invite your feedback. I'm usually very theology requires me to be so.

If you are going to have sausage you really should do it right, with grilled peppers and onions, maybe a little seasoning. And yes, it pays to consider what went into making it. Is it beef or pork? Hot or mild? You are, whether you care to admit it or not, going to have theology. That is you will adopt a certain way of thinking about who or what God is and it will influence your life. Thus you should do it right, with some thought and consideration. You might even have some fun in the process...certainly more fun than making sausage.

Photo credit: