imputed righteousness, part 2
I’ve just written how reading Paul’s statements on guilt changed my whole way of thinking, and switched my mind to a new track.
The track I’m referring to is something I’ve called “non-metaphysical Christianity”, the idea that the scriptures are not talking about invisible scoreboards and diagrams, but about real changes in the minds and emotions of human beings.
This means reinterpreting theological terms like salvation, sanctification, and purification to refer to actual changes in human life, and not just changes we experience at church. It means reinterpeting big ideas like the trinity and “Jesus is Lord”, rediscovering them as experiential realities.
Anything else is suspect; once our discussion is cut loose from real human life, there is nothing to keep us from floating into abstract theological worlds of pure nonsense - where most of the religious world is now.
To be clear, I’m not denying metaphysical realities, or scoreboards in the sky. I’m denying that we can say anything meaningful about them, unless they have specific implications in concrete reality. I’m denying that theology should be about angels on pinheads. I’m doing the same thing for theology that the scientific method does for physics.
This is the only respectful posture we can take. If God is a reality, he is a reality far more complex than even our most elevated understandings. There is no hope that we can size him up in some simple terms. There is no sense in which our theological concepts grasp his real essence. Instead, we can understand that these terms were given to us to help us process our experience and relationship with the reality beyond reality.
In this, I’m just following in the footsteps of the first Christians. They were very blunt, quick to throw out any theology that wasn’t concrete. According to them, the temple was just a building, sacrifices didn’t really do anything about sin, and religious services were probably keeping you from doing something worthwhile, like helping mugging victims.
Their blatant honesty was the groundwork for the new spirituality they experienced. Beyond all the religious ideas, beyond the show and ceremony, they had to confront the realities of human life. That was where God was found, drinking wine and eating bread, dying on a cross in the dark.