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Neo-plustarian Ipsoflogonasticism, the only way to go

I'm around a lot of people who really like to theologize about helping the poor and speak very dramatically about it. Yet, honestly, I don't see a lot of that going on. At least not among these people.

I do see other people, in other contexts (usually outside of this highbrow Christian bunker) who are actually doing this. But they are not usually the ones who spend a lot of time talking about it. They just do it. This seems to be the way it goes a lot - those who actually spend their energy doing something useful for humanity and the Kingdom often have little motivation to intellectualize about it or dramatize the idea while standing behind the fancy podium at the top of the Hill. Once again I recall seeing Dale Voss through the window of the classroom, on his knees in his maintenance uniform, cleaning the dirt behind the big plant. Then often I see him later that week, sitting in the front of Wal-Mart patiently and happily waiting on the dozens of Malagasy students he has just driven there in a big van so that they can do their shopping for the week. I suppose it could be said that the Malagasy students are not "poor" but I guarantee you will redefine that word if you are a foreign person in a totally foreign place with nothing to your name except your suitcase.

I sometimes wonder what exactly were the experiences that James had that led him to write his letter that we now read in the Bible. I also wonder why it is one we pay little attention to in the upper-eschalon world of religious academia. Perhaps the two are related. There is a lot of discussion in my world over the nature of God, the Trinity, mysticism, spiritual formation, theistic pietism, soteriology, eschatology, and etc. One of my professors describes himself as a "post-foundationalist missional neo-restorationist catholic." This is said somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but this arises out of the kind of things that this academic world does and this kind of theological identity labeling is serious business here. One of my fellow students describes himself as (or aspires to be) a neo-orthodox monastic. Others very boldy carry the emergent label. Others love to consider themselves non-institutional (in the postmodern sense, not the CoC sense), while others claim Third Wave Trinitarian Theistic Millenialist Post-Orthodox Missional Apostolic Ascetic Augustinian Incarnational Ipsoflogonasticism. Actually I made the last one up but I am sure there is someone establishing a blog dedicated to it right now. What this all comes down to is the worship of a certain kind of theological philosophy rather than what our belief produces in our lives. As a result we become a people who talk ourselves to death regarding our brand of theology rather than a people that take the fuel of the seeds of the gospel and transform it into lives of action and transformation. "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder!" James said go to town with your belief and your faith, but if you want to really be a Christian, show me how that is making a difference. Show me what that is inspiring you to. Show me how your faith has made you different today from what you were yesterday. You stood on the Hill yesterday and dramatically talked about asking that homeless person to church. So where are your homeless friends on Sunday? You philosophized in class and on your blog endlessly about the trinitarian nature of the Godhead. How is that changing what you do with the $20 bill in your pocket? What about that guy in the corner who nobody has talked to in weeks? What about the hour you had alone in the car? How much of that was with God?

I say all of this because I constantly need this kind of transformation. I love to think about things. I lay awake at night pondering mysteries. But even though God, creation, and existence are all infinitely complex constructions, God is also amazingly simple in what he calls us to. God, the prophets, Jesus, and the biblical writers did a lot of chastising of people for spinnging their wheels and completely missing the point. So, let's have our philospohical merry-go-rounds but know when it is time to get off and get dirty in the simple Gospel.


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