Friday, June 1, 2012

Being a Passionate Christian

[Disclaimer: When I reference 'theologian' throughout this post I am referring to the whole gamut and continuum that that word can mean ... so whether you are a professionally trained theologian or an unprofessionally untrained lay theologian, I am referring to all stripes---or, I am referring to all Christians.]

Passion. Passion and Theology often don't mix, in fact a hallmark of genuinely scholarly Theology is usually to be dispassionate. To suspend one's own person from the mix, to remain unaffected by the ideas one is studying; and thus, purportedly have the capacity to provide objective analysis of whatever the topic under consideration might be. Clearly, there is place for seeking to accurately represent ideas, paradigms and parameters within theological discourse. But to remain unmoved and dispassionate about the truths contemplated and articulated by genuinely Christian Theology is balderdash, in no uncertain terms!

A Compelling Picture of Passion
Christian Theology is indwelling and inhabiting the life of God in Christ; it is thinking from the center of God, who is Jesus Christ, with the Spirit. Thus Christian Theology should always be an activity in doxology (worship, the attribution of worth toward the other---in Christian Theology the only One worthy of worthship is our God in Jesus Christ!). If we are living our lives from the life of Christ I don't see how the would-be theologian can be dispassionate. I am not referring to a personality trait, per se; or an emotional high and low. But I am referring to an uncontained zeal for the things of the LORD. Living the kind of life that has a fervency and verve that results in putting Jesus first, and others second (so a proper order, understood in dialectic balance). It is this kind of mode that ought to affect the Christian Theologian in the same way that God's life affects Godself in Triune love; the kind of love that causes the second person of the Trinity to penetrate the depths of his creation by incarnating to the point of death, even the death of the cross. So Christian Theology should be cruciform in shape, because God's life is cross-shaped; at least this is what Jesus' hands and side bear witness to---this seems passionate to me. I am obviously going a little stream of consciousness here, but hopefully you're getting what I'm getting at.

I am tempted to critique why I think folk are not passionate about theology, even as theologians at points. But, this would only be to hit upon a well rehearsed theme here at the blog, and so I will forgo why I think certain modes of theology are less capable of being passionate, in the Christian sense of passion, that is.

Why am I passionate? What drives me? I am hopeful that I am passionate about the things of the LORD because 'he first loved me that I might love him!' I am passionate because I have been through existential depths and dark seasons of the soul (not just the cancer, but definitely that too), both emotionally (years of depression and anxiety for example ... thankfully those years seemed to have faded, but to take on a different shape now) and physically (so the cancer). This seems to be the pattern of Jesus' life being played out in my life (and all of our Christian lives); moving from death to life, being constantly given over to Jesus' death that his life might be made manifest through the mortal members of my body (our body as Jesus' body, and as individual members of that cf. I Cor. 12.27).  I have doubted the existence of God (like many), which was an absolute nightmare for me; I have doubted everything you can doubt (not like Descartes though ;-), but not because I wanted to. It was this kind of doubt that overtook me for years and years, but the result was one that led me in the end to say 'where else can I go, for you alone have the words of eternal life.' This is what motivates me, this is why I am passionate; because I know that my sanity and life are grounded in and through Jesus Christ, I don't have anywhere else to go dangit! I love Jesus with every inch of my recreated-resurrected humanity from his. That's it, that's what drives me; that's where any passion I have comes from. I love Jesus so much I can't stand it; I need a new body to really express the depths of this love and passion ... that's my hope! And this is my passion, what's yours?


  1. Hi Bobby!
    I 2nd most of what you've written up there. I'm zealous to defend God's honor, not like Job's friends, who accused Job in order to justify God and hope to garner some reward from Him, but against those who would make Him out to be as mechanical and determined as they make His creation. I'm passionate against those who would make Jesus compelled by what He was predetermined to do by "providence", rather than moved by His love for Father and creature.
    And I'm passionate about defending my salvation as having been secured by Him, and not something that I secure by any action or contractual business.
    That said, and I do believe I love the Lord, I just have never been able to take a measure of that in any way that I don't blush to say it. I think I would be a much better Christian if I loved Him all that much. My conscience tells me "if you love Him, why don't you do what He says?"

  2. Duane,

    Thank you for sharing your heart here!

    Thankfully we can rest in what he did for us. And we move and live from within us, both the judgment and life; both realities embodied in Jesus' life for us. We worship a God of grace, and it is this that compels us; his love. Sure we fail, as long as Jesus didn't; then we're okay. :-)


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