United Church of Christ
James Paul White
Committee on Ministry
October 1, 2012
Committee on Ministry
“Theology of Community”
In this paper, I am going to share my ideas of theology. I believe that one of the biggest mistakes I made in the past was that I was afraid of being rejected, so I wrote a theology paper and tried to give the previous COM what I thought they wanted to hear instead of what was truly inside of me. Fortunately for me, even though I was not given a green light in order to see the Eccleastical Council, I was licensed to preach and this gave me time to wrestle with my theology and helped me to see where I stood on these very important areas of Christian faith.
I want to briefly mention that although I have a lot of respect for liberation theologians, I disagree with them in one key area. Many liberation theologians start off with their experiences, and then look to the bible and interpret it. I believe that theology must start off with the Bible because it is the best source of information about who God is, who Jesus is, and what the early church was like. I do believe that the Church should speak out when there is injustice. However, it comes from a belief that we should treat others as if we see Jesus in them (see Matt 25:31-46).
I refer to my personal theology as the “Theology of Community”. I reject this modern notion that Jesus is my “personal savior” because it highlights the rampant individualism in America. We are so consumer driven in the United States that if we have to wait more than two minutes in a drive-thru in order to get our food, we get upset. I believe that Jesus saves us from our selfishness, and self-destructive behavior; but that He draws us in to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
I see the entire Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Testament, as a story about how God is constantly reaching out to human beings with the intent of having a relationship with us. Many years ago, in my early twenties, a minister introduced a concept that I still draw upon. He used a diagram of a triangle. At the top of the triangle is God, and at the bottom two points were supposed to be the husband and wife. The idea being that as you draw closer to God, then the married couple would actually be closer to each other. If you are less selfish and willing to serve your spouse in love, then your relationship will (in theory) grow and become stronger.
What I have done is to apply this to all relationships within the church. There is a tendency within churches for people to think that their way of doing things is right, and if you don’t agree then you are somehow bad; or at least you are a nuisance that should be shunned or ignored. We as human beings tend to want to be around people that are like us, who think like us, talk like us, and have the same opinion on virtually everything. Yet, if you look at the makeup of the group of disciples that followed Jesus, this is not the case at all. For the sake of brevity I will point out only two: Judas the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector. The zealots hated the Romans so badly that they were willing to take up arms against the Romans, yet the tax collectors were willing to collect money from their fellow Jews and give it to the Romans. Both groups were represented at the table during the Last Supper. It would be a refreshing thing if that kind of diversity was truly experienced today in our modern churches.
I am heavily influenced by the theology of Karl Barth and somewhat by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I would also credit people like Hans Frei and George Lindbeck and the “post-liberal” movement; which some also know as “narrative theology”. In the writings of Frei and Lindbeck they talk about how liberal...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document