Unpacking Love Part 1: The Politics of Love by Erin Word
|Unpacking Love Part 1: The Politics of Love
by Erin Word (erinword.com)
In this growing political season (in America), we are encouraged to define ourselves: Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative, Liberal...pro-this and anti-that...and we make those definitions based on what we believe are essential and important issues. Those issues help us decide where our voice will land come vote-day. Those issues are all-important, and without knowing where people stand on issues, we would not know how to vote. Philosophy is critical here.
Not so in the church. Because, like it or not, salvation is not a democracy.
This post could be about any of a number of issues in Christianity; I have chosen one to focus on.
There is always ongoing discussion in the emerging/missional/postmodern church about salvation; i.e. is it exclusive (only for the chosen saved), inclusive (all are saved by Christ whether they know it or not) or universal (all paths lead to God)? Last fall I was introduced to another bold option, the opt-out-ism which says we all are saved by grace unless we consciously reject that grace.
Once we have defined our soteriology (is that the right big word?), we can begin determining who is saved and who isn't, even among Christians. We will try to convert people to our perspectives, as if getting one more vote for exclusivity will win the war. We believe that God will change how He selects the chosen few by majority vote.
Unfortunately in the church, all too often we are taught we are to love everyone, but only as long as they are just like us. Only if they have not only the same religion we do, but also the same theology we do. Associating with people who don't "vote" the way we do might cause us to change our "vote" and sway the polls.
But seriously, is this a democracy? Does our theology really change anything? Do we get to vote on which theology, at the end of eternity, guarantees salvation? Whatever we believe, and we can defend it to the death, does what we believe about salvation change how God does business? If I believe in hell or not, if I argue with you about who might be going there in the end, does it have any impact on whether or not hell actually exists or anyone goes there?
Why then do we spend so much time arguing theology, as if it's the politics of eternity?
We tend to believe it's our theology that saves people. We argue for souls based on sacraments, baptism, atonement...but those things, whatever you believe, don't save. Jesus does. Whether or not Jesus saves only a few, many or all mankind isn't changed by our theology.
Well, if our purpose isn't getting people into our theological camp, what is it?
I have it is more important to be kind than to be right...because if you are not kind, you are not right. If this is true, maybe we could introduce many more people to Jesus with kindness and love than we presently do with theology. I think we ought to concern ourselves with what we CAN change, that is, getting people in the door. Not the door of a church, mind you, but the door of a life of love, with Jesus. And that happens with kindness. If loving others as we love ourselves is the true mandate, the gospel as Jesus reported it to be, then we are wasting our breath on these issues, breath we could be expending in conversation and relationship with those who haven't yet met Jesus at all.
Then simply let God take it from there.