About one day every week, I wear my glasses instead of my contacts. It was my optometrists’ recommendation…it’s healthy to give your eyes a break from having a piece of plastic stuck in them. I joke with my friends that it’s my “intelligent writer look.” I really do look different with glasses.
I never did this until the last six months. I wore my contacts every day. Now, one day a week, I have a different appearance. Kind of symbolic, I think, of the internal conflict with which I’ve wrestled over the last year or so.
Can a Believer come to a point where he doesn’t even want to read the Scriptures? Doesn’t want to go to church? Where he views what he once saw as holy piety as overzealous hypocrites engaged in worthless traditional repetition? I arrived there some time ago. To some degree, I’ve recovered. To some degree, I’m liberated. I’m not burned out on God any longer. I’ve just come to realize that it hasn’t been Him that I’ve really been focused on in Seminary.
I’m taking a course in integrating psychology with theology right now. It’s beyond fascinating, and a relatively recent endeavor of scholarly study. The idea is to go to a middle ground on the continuum between nouthetic naivete and scientific humanism. Both psychology and theology are useful, but both end in nonsensical heresy if you follow either to their obvious conclusions. One observes what we can about man, the other observes what we can about God. Both end up arrogantly drawing conjectures when they run out of observable facts. Therein lies the nonsense.
I just finished reading this great book by Mark R. McMinn, however, that introduces spirituality as it’s own discipline. It’s not a discipline that is indicated by credentials, he argues, but is gained by just spending time with God. Talking to Him. Listening to Him. Not over-engaging, not studying, not analyzing. Reflecting, and meditating on Him. The thrust of the idea here is that theology is focused on analyzing Scripture (seminarians call it “exegesis;” it’s really a horrid practice), while spirituality, McMinn says, is focused on meditating upon Scripture. Huge difference. I’ve come to realize that the past two and a half years have given me a lot of the former, and none of the latter. So I plan to change that with a “discipline” that is oddly lost in the maze of academia: I’m going to enjoy God again. I haven’t done that in far, far too long.
I just finished reading an essay in Image Journal about a man who forsook his evangelical beliefs because he found a greater love in literature. He seems to have come from a overly religious background. I can relate, because I came from the same. I’ve recovered nicely. Or at least I thought that I had. But at least now I have an epiphany to work with. God’s not to be found in the analysis of theology, the same as man’s soul is not to be found in the analysis of psychology. Both are great tools for observation, to glean information about someone. There is an enormous difference, however, in knowing about someone and truly knowing someone.
I know a lot about God. But I don’t know Him nearly as well as I would like. I plan to turn my acquaintance into a lasting friendship.
A new step in the journey, I suppose. I just know that I’m approaching my old Love with a brand new perspective. I suppose you could say, an artistic perspective, instead of a scientific one. I was never really good at the scientific thing anyway.
I think it was Augustine who said that the one who is seeking is not lost. There’s a lot to that.
It’s amazing what you can see through glasses.
I agree with you totally, but I still love exegesis. Of course, I haven’t had it ad nauseum in seminary, just undergrad doctrine and theology. The verse I mentioned earlier (Hebrews 3:10) speaks to the TRUE type of knowledge which changes our hearts and keeps them in Christ. If your time in the Word isn’t transformative its time to shake things up. I’m happy you are doing just that. Having a form of godliness (i.e. bible reading), without the power for a changing life, is useless and deceptive. I’m glad to know you.
Once again you have touched me with your honesty. It’s a difficult time for believers. I am having a difficult time with the same stuggles you have. I don’t attend church, haven’t for a long time,and yet I see and hear things coming from, the supposed, heads of our churches and I cring. Sometimes I feel embarrassed. That’s when I take a moment to remember who counts in all this… GOD. There is a time for everything, even stopping. A silent prayer of, “help,” works wonders. 🙂
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I found your blog through the poem that you published over at Infuze. I see what you mean when you talk abou the difference between analyzing and meditating. I think analyzing can lead us toward God in the same way biology can lead us to a further wonderment of nature; however, because it is a science sometimes it causes us not to be able to see the forest for the trees. I’ll be back. 🙂