A relentlessly personal Christian life

Eugene Peterson on the Christian life as relentlessly personal:

My experience of theology was contaminated by adolescent polemics and hairsplitting apologetics. When I arrived at my university, my first impression was that the students most interested in religion were mostly interested in arguing. Theological discussions always seemed to set off a combative instinct among my peers. They left me with a sour taste. The grand and soaring realities of God and the Holy Spirit, Scripture and Jesus, salvation and creation and a holy life always seemed to get ground down into contentious, mean-spirited arguments: predestination and freewill, grace and works, Calvinism and Arminianism, liberal and conservative, supra- and infralapsarianism…

So—spiritual theology, lived theology—not just studied, or discussed, or written about; not “God” as an abstraction but God in a participating relationship; not God as a truth to be argued; not God as a weapon to be wielded in the culture wars. Rather, the conviction that everything of God that is revealed to us is to be lived relationally in the dailiness of our human lives on this local ground on which we have been placed. Nothing disembodied, nothing impersonal, nothing in general.

The moment we divorce debates about how to think about God rightly from our real lives and hide it away in ivory-towered-academia, we have missed the wood for the trees.

Paul, in writing to a young church leader, Timothy, urges him to “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.” A sincere faith, that is grounded in the dailiness of our human lives, and finds accountability and support amongst community, means that we can learn and apply the scriptures from those closest to us. This enables us to observe not only what is taught but how it is practised, and live out what we learn. ‘Debate’ and ‘argument’ in this context is about a joint quest for truth to be grasped and lived, not one-upmanship or prideful point scoring.

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