Categorical Theology

Sometimes I notice I have trouble talking theology with people who are accustomed to thinking of theology only in categories. For example, I am aware that I am not exactly a Calvinist. For a lot of people their immediate response to this is to assume I must be Arminian in my beliefs. This is false. I am even further away from Arminianism.

In my way of thinking about theology it is perfectly fine to have a belief system that is somewhere in the middle. But it seems as if a lot of people, believe this is cheating, somehow.

It is as if the men, for whom these theological systems are named, are such icons that we are obligated to accept or reject everything they say as a unit. Perhaps we are supposed to submit to their wisdom, assuming they are smarter than us and whatever they say fits together as a cohesive system must be accepted in total.

For some, theology is a zone where you are not allowed to think for yourself. Instead you are obligated to study, discuss and choose your belief based on the historic categories used to teach theology.

This doesn’t work for me. Not only do I like to think for myself, but what makes the most Biblical sense to me, doesn’t fit exclusively into one of the traditional categories. It appears to me to be a clear, sensible, tight fitting system, and I am perfectly fine that it doesn’t fit any previously defined mold.

So don’t limit my theological discussions to the framework of others. Instead let me describe my own beliefs. Hear what I say, rather than only looking for what historic views my discussion resembles.

I expect that the best ways of discussing God’s character, actions, and redemptive work, may be yet to be composed. Perhaps, our conversations will give birth to a new paradigm, but only if we allow ourselves to think outside of the historic boxes. Of course, we can never set aside Scripture, reverence or God’s deity, but there is still a lot of room for discussion.

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