Theological Lemmings

Collared Lemming
Most of us have heard the myths about the lemming. It’s a small rodent who commits suicide in a herd mentality because everyone else is doing it. Well, they don’t exactly do it purposefully. Take a look below, or click here for the full article.

The following is quoted directly from MSN Encarta:

The Norway lemming appears in the cultivated fields of Norway and Sweden during the course of the periodic mass migrations for which it is famous. When overpopulation of Norway lemmings leads to a scarcity of food and overcrowding of habitat, many thousands of the animals migrate in search of food. The migrators swim lakes and rivers, cross mountains, and eat all vegetation in their path. Eventually, some reach the sea; attempting to swim it as if it were a river, they are drowned. This phenomenon of mass migration and drowning is relatively infrequent, although population fluctuations occur every three or four years.

What does this have to do with theology? Funny you should ask.

I haven’t been a believer all my life. My story is rather dramatic, yet not all together uncommon. Read it here. The thing is, I haven’t ever been the one to follow the crowd. That doesn’t mean I am a liberal, or some other crazy out there thing. I am highly conservative, logical, and analytical.

However, I am tired of being tame. I am tired of religious leaders attempting to domesticate me to their brand of conservatism. I have the privilege of working with two students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Sadly, I have reached a point of frustration that I actually cringe in my heart upon typing the very name of that place.) In conversation with one of those students I heard some annoyance with the phrase:

“We just need to get back to the Bible.”

The point is not that we need to get back to the Bible. The point is that so often in our decrying of theological malfeasance among our peers we fail to realize that we are spouting our personal interpretation of the Bible as the Bible people should “get back to,” rather than allowing the Spirit to speak through the very text he wrote. In doing so, both in higher education and from our pulpits, we commit grievous acts against the very God we serve. We domesticate and entire crop of believers by making them theologically illiterate. They cannot read the text, interpret, and discern the God centered meaning for themselves. They become spiritual babes suckling at the breast of a religious leader’s personal ego. They become little more than a lemming, who has run out of food. They eventually come to an obstacle or vast sea that they cannot traverse due to the uninhibited reliance on someone else’s spiritual existence. In the face of this sea they can little but tread water until they drown.

I don’t want to be lemming. I want to exist, to struggle, to journey, to be, to do, and to live a spiritual life.

What if we all put down the picket signs outside the abortion clinic and offered the compassion and understanding of Christ to the young girl rather than what she is already finding inside?

What if we put down the picket signs outside the political personality we have been told to despise for the moment and sought to impact change in the world by actually living the love of Christ?

What if we, as ministers, commissioned members of our congregations to actually go out and be lights in the community of their son/daughters’ sports teams, and even gave them permission to miss church?

What if we stopped villifying sinners for doing sinful things and shared the hope of Christ in a loving relevant manner with them?

What if…?

What is your what if…?


~ by bchatcher on September 5, 2007.

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