June 11, 2008

becomming theologians/becomming a royal priesthood

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2.9-12 NIV)

So, I've had something bouncing around my head since I got back from Baltimore. One thing that I have always appreciated about Neil Cole but have not always seen exactly as he does, is his passion for followers of Jesus reading large segments of Scripture on a regular basis. For sometime I thought Neil's perspective was a bit "extreme". But I have to be honest, at the same time that I felt this way I rarely recommended people to read Scripture but instead recommended tons of theology books. This isn't to say that books of theology are bad. Not so. I am incredibly grateful for some of the theologians I've read and studied. But I wonder if we might be missing something if we do not encourage each other to digest the Text that is the crux of our theology.

The passage above from 1 Peter is a key passage for those of us that take a more communal, egalitarian form to our meetings and life together. I have often quoted this passage when people have asked why our community meets the way we do, or why I don't "preach" to our community. But another way to look at this royal priesthood in a contemporary form would be that we are all becoming theologians. In other words, the interpreters and keepers, of the Bible. This is actually nothing new, the early Anabaptists believed that the Spirit could speak to all and therefore professional clergy was suspect to them. Christian anarchists would be akin to this idea as well. But if this be the case, shouldn't we all be reading Scripture in order to accomplish this kind of egalitarian nature? This isn't to say that some won't have deeper insights, study more and seek out further education in this. But at the same time, it seems that in the "emerging/missional/fill in the blank" conversation we often lack an emphasis on this. Don't confuse me with other fundie critics of "the conversation". I honestly know few traditional/seeker/your own flavor that encourage this either.

But rather than worrying about heresy or embarrassment from difficult passages what if we were more consumed with "lowering the bar," as Neil says and giving everyone access–and encouragement–to study this Holy Book and become theologians, each and everyone of us?

Your thoughts?

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