May 5, 2008

A Cry for Help

It has not been a particularly unusual day, but already I have begun to feel lost in my studies. The day started by my inability to pull myself out of bed, but once that happened, Liz and I went for a speed-walk before she left for her meeting. I took care of Rori (trying to fit in some work, but failing miserably - Rori loves her Daddy's attention) until she got back, and then delved deep into the theology of justification in my systematic theology books. On a break, I checked my email to discover several comments from some guy on my YouTube site (on a video by Mark Driscoll, which never fails to produce entertaining comments), and an email from one of my best friends in Thailand asking for help. I'll get to her in a minute.

What hasn't ceased to amaze is the sheer variety of thinking in the Christian world. On the one hand, the systematic theologians spend hours to produce carefully nuanced interlocking theologies that are - in theory - perfectly undeniable; if you get rid of one part, so they say, you rid the Christian faith of something so horribly needed that the whole faith makes no sense without it (I still think that Systematic theologians wildly overestimate the usefulness of their trade). On the other hand, I see the comments I get from people on the web who seem to have nothing better to do than police the thought-world of heretics like me, people not part of the "catholic church" who have the gall to suggest that institutions aren't the end-all to the faith, who suggest that maybe the life of a Christian is more about a community and not an institution, more about being a servant in the world and less like a soldier, more like a missionary and less like a clergyman. But they have taken it on their plate to rid the world of the heretics through argument.

And then I get an email from
Ruth asking if some of us might be willing to help them out with basic necessities.

The second I got
the email I started to feel like crying - the whole rest of it seems so useless in the face of the injustices we see in our world today. Why bother all this study? I know that sometimes systematic theology is useful, but only sometimes. I know that argument is helpful, sometimes - but most of the time people can just ignore you (like I continue to do with most of the comments I get on that video). But the cry of the needy from the wilderness is hard to ignore.

Ruth and Colin and the kids need help in Thailand. They have encountered a fairly large financial obstacle that was not expected; in order to continue their work, they could use some cash, and soon. Liz and I will be contributing, but I want to extend the opportunity to everybody else to help; you can use a credit card and every penny will go directly into the project. It's not really for Ruth and Colin, it's for the Karen who they serve. The idea is to build a compound with a school and housing to serve the basic needs that have not been met by the Thai government - you can read about it
here. I highly recommend you do. I'll vouch for them, the Harrisons are amazing people with huge hearts for the poor and the needy. If you have any questions, leave them in my comment section and I'll do my best to answer them.

"What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." [Micah 6:8]


Jeff & Carrie said...

"I still think that Systematic theologians wildly overestimate the usefulness of their trade"

Great line! :) You know, Chris, I was reflecting on what you were saying in the blog here and it reminded me of the necessity of our theology being missional. If our systematics speak nothing or even little to our mission in the world, is it useful at all? If our presentation of the gospel does not meet people in any pragmatic way, what good is it? Many blogs, books, and conversations continually remind me of interpreting, theologizing, etc. with the intent of it being missional in nature. Thanks for this reminder!

Anonymous said...

Check out this podcast:
The freelance monotheism of Karen Armstrong:
She talks alot about the central tenet of compassion in all the monotheistic religions.