Thursday, December 21, 2006

Theological Depression and Struggle

I took Baptist History with Dr. Brand during the D-Term and I have yet to finish the work, because it is quite extensive. I'm on a daily reading plan to get me through the textbooks and I'll crank out the book review shortly before I turn everything in, but the primary focus of my attention has been on completing the research paper, and my research has led to my newest bout with theological depression.

Theological depression is what happens when you encounter falsehood and shortcomings and realize that they are quite profound. It's the consequence of actually listening to a conversation partner and realizing that they seem to be wrong. I've been studying a man named William Owen Carver, (yes, that Carver, Boyce-ites). He taught missions and comparative religion for muliple decades, and unfortunately, had his missionary passion laced with theological liberalism, such as advocating the Documentary Hypothesis, two Isaiahs, and evolution. At the same time, he was a bold advocate for missionary work and evangelism, and those who new him testified to his love of God. It is odd that despite his passion for missions, he refused to answer the question of who can be saved as Scripture does.

I encountered the same thing this past Sunday. Before going to the Cardinals/Broncos game, Michael and I went to my Uncle David's church, a Presbyterian church that's part of the PCUSA denomination. As I sang the Christmas hymns with the congregation, I noticed that they had changed the words to a few songs, namely obliterating any reference to "men" or "man" or "sons." This was but one of several examples of their biblical "squishiness" (as Dr. Brand would say), but they seemed to really love each other.

My encounter with Carver has been a struggle, as I tend to just want to give up. But still I know I have to struggle through the theological depression, and know that God has called for me to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Simply retreating from the battle is not an option. You don't end the pilgrimage just because you face hardships.

Ultimately, I must entrust Carver, my Uncle David's PCUSA church, and all others who fall short in such ways to God, the one who renews our minds and transforms us from the conformity of the pattern of this world. I must entrust myself to Him as well, knowing that I fall short in so many ways myself. I've been really thankful to my friends and fellow Christ followers John Letoto and Jessica Cimato for the honest words they've written on their respective blogs. They have helped me love Jesus more through their writings, as they have honestly written about their own struggle to love God more.

Tomorrow's agenda features more study about the life and thought of W.O. Carver, missiologist extrordinare and a severly flawed theologian, yet a man who loved God, His Word and His world very much. I guess we have a lot in common, minus the "extrordinare" part. I can only hope and pray that the latter part might be true of me too.


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