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Q & R: More than one theology?

Here's the Q:

I just finished reading your book 'Why did Jesus, Moses.......?'. I loved the book and would gladly recommend it to all who have a thirst for spiritual inspiration.

I agree totally that christian doctrine and theology needs serious work to deal with a multi-faith society. You provided some great examples and you suggested that loads more work is needed.

My thought for you is as follows: If theology is viewed as guiding principles rather than doctrines, creeds or beliefs, then christians wouldn't need to have barriers that become catalysts for division.

This thought is consistent with Paul's comments in: 1Corinthians14:31,'All of you may proclaim God's message, one by one, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged'.

Also, 1John4:2, 'This is how you will be able to know whether it is God's Spirit: anyone who acknowledges that Jesus Christ came as a human being has the spirit who comes from God'.

So does that mean that there can be more than one theology approved by our Lord himself?

I would say that if a community feels that there is only one true theology (i.e. their own theology or doctrine), then it is probably a heretical community, because it is not in keeping with the above comments from Paul and John.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Here's the R:
Thanks for your question. I think you're on a productive line of thinking. Of course, deciding what is a "guiding principle" and what is a "doctrine, creed or belief" is itself a matter of interpretation ... It brings to mind the old (and, I think, good) dictum: in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, diversity; in all things, charity." The problem comes when some people see nearly everything as an essential because to them, the Bible is crystal clear on an issue, and to question what it clear to them is to question the Bible itself.

The 1 John 4:2 passage is a really interesting one to bring to bear on this subject. I'm pretty sure that the writer intended his words to address a specific context rather than be used as a blanket litmus test (although a broad one). So, for example, someone who taught that Jesus came in the flesh AND that aliens in space ships are invading the earth, AND that vaccinations are a plot to sterilize enemies, AND that Texans have a right to rule the world, etc, etc, etc, wouldn't, necessarily, be speaking from God's Spirit.

But I agree with your instinct to see that truth is wide and deep, not narrow and flat. A wonderful book on this subject was written by my friend John Franke: Manifold Witness. I highly recommend it.