Rethinking My Theology
This blog has been silent for many moons as I have traveled to the other side of the globe and back. While I was working in the Middle East, I encountered people who had been raised in a religion very similar to Mormonism. Many of these people have serious doubts about their religion and a growing number of the younger generation are becoming agnostic or atheist. Some of them are very interested in following Jesus, but intense fear, family and social pressures, and a lack of basic human rights are huge barriers for them in responding to the gospel (or from admitting it to anyone if they do believe).
I found the similarities between Islam and Mormonism striking when it came to their objections to the gospel. I sometimes felt like I was having the same conversations I have with Mormons – it was like the same soup reheated. Their objections centered on three main things:
- belief that the Bible has been corrupted and cannot be trusted
- rejection of the Trinity (and confusion over the doctrine)
- concern that the Bible’s teaching of salvation by grace through faith could lead to license
Further, despite the crucial differences in our beliefs concerning salvation, many of them (like many Mormons I’ve talked with) wanted to assert that our religions were basically the same and that the differences were not so major.
So,allow me to wax satirical for a moment….I’ve been rethinking my position on how God works in the world and have decided that perhaps I’ve been wrong in my interpretation of John 14:6. Really, there appear to be multiple, valid paths for learning about God and what He is like. As humanity has progressed and increased in knowledge, our understanding of God and His ways have become much broader and shallower. There are many possibilities of what God could be like and we really shouldn’t worry so much about getting our doctrines on salvation right.
- The same God who had compassion on the woman caught in adultery (John 8) gave revelation to one of His prophets to institute female circumcision across Africa and the Middle East. This has helped women draw closer to God in their suffering and has helped increase sexual dissatisfaction in marriages, resulting in an increase in adultery and divorce.
- The same God who led the Apostle Paul to teach monogamy gave later revelations to His prophets to return to the polygamy of their ancestors. This, again, helps women draw closer to God in their suffering and helps married men live in a constant state of adultery.
- The same God who gave multiple prophecies and foreshadowing through the OT prophets about the Messiah’s coming sacrifice for sin, gave a later revelation to one of His prophets in the Middle East that actually He never allowed His Son to die on the cross. Rather than assuming this to be the core of the gospel message, this is just one of those extraneous parts of the gospel that we can take or leave as God works in many ways through many different paths to bring people to Himself.
- The same God who made Jesus the central figure in the gospel message decided to choose others to usurp and supplant his preeminent role in other, equally valid religions.
So I have decided to stop being so black and white in my thinking. I realize I used to sound too dogmatic. I’ve realized that these other teachings might not be such big deceptions as I was previously convinced. Perhaps God wants us to be more open-minded about who He is. Rather than giving us progressive revelation of Himself throughout history that would enable us to gradually know Him better, He would rather that humanity become less and less knowledgeable about Him and His ways as we draw near the end times and the return of Jesus. I’ve come to some of the following conclusions in my search:
- God is using various religions to help people see the truth that He did not preserve His Word as He promised, but rather He allowed His Word to be corrupted many years ago in a massive, secret conspiracy.
- God now calls people everywhere to repent and believe one of the various alternative prophets He has provided as a replacement for His Word.
- God has sent various prophets to humanity in these last days because He desires for people to have progressively less clarity about His attributes and character.
- God desires for us to shed our out-dated prejudices along with our black and white thinking about sin and righteousness as we enter into a new age of enlightenment by embracing everyone while accepting sin and blasphemy into our theology.
- We should celebrate all the ways that we agree on the non-essentials of our faith and not get so concerned about how a person can be saved and escape an eternity in hell.