Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Minimalist Theology

Wildflowers in our yard

Christianity. It's not complicated. It was never meant to be.

It is deep. But "deep" is not the same as "complicated."

Jesus spoke simply and spoke deep. He is going after the human heart. Change the human heart, and behavioral change will follow. Jesus reduced all moral commands to one moral command.

Jesus was a theological minimalist. 

So was the apostle Paul.

For Paul, there was only one thing to know: Christ crucified and the power of the resurrection. Minimalist Theology is "One-Thing Theology." (1 Corinthians 2:2) Resolve to know nothing but this.

Jesus' theological minimalism is seen in his simple (not simplistic) counsel for us to become like branches, connected to him who is like a Vine. Everything follows from this. 

Do I like complexity? My PhD (Northwestern University, 1986) is in Philosophical Theology. That should say it all. My studies have taught me many things, one of which is: If there is a God who created us and loves us as his children, and who desires to communicate to us, all of us, then it has to be simple.

I think Karl Barth understood this. In seminary I took a class on Barth's theology. We were assigned portions of Barth's Church Dogmatics to read. One of the assignments was to read a twenty-page footnote. The footnote was in a font half the size of the main text. I see Barth's footnotes like nodules on a vein of a leaf attached to a twig connected to a branch attached to a limb that abides in the trunk whose roots go deep into the earth. For Barth the whole point was really about the trunk and the roots, which were "Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so."

It all comes down to Jesus, and his death and resurrection, which are demonstrations of his love. 

This is not complicated. It is simple. It is not simplistic. It is deep. "Jesus loves us" is the abundant, lavish, fruit-bearing, fertile Minimum. It is the Trunk, in which we as branches are called to abide. From this, all blessings flow.

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johnpiippo@msn.com

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