Saturday, July 13, 2013

Keep It Complex, Stupid

I HAVE TO SAY THAT SOMETIMES CHRISTIANS  ARE A little... judgmental. Does that make me judgmental to notice judgmental Christians? Well anyway, judgmental or not, I’m going to write what’s on my slightly irritated heart. 

Here’s a conversation that frequently occurs with some Christian and myself: 

   “I truly enjoy Peter Kreeft, he is so intellectual,” I sigh with stars of spiritual love in my eyes.
   “I prefer simple myself. The gospel should be simple,” The Christian says so sweetly and self-righteously and bats her eyelashes upon large eyes. 
   “Oh, okay. I just..” feeling a bit awkward here, I look down and shuffle my feet, “I just meant that I think....”
   “I love Jesus. We should talk about how we love Jesus, don’t you think? All that doctrine and religion stuff, it’s not really what Jesus would want us to talk about, you know,” her voice lilts with sincerity. "I don't mean to be mean-spirited, so don't take this personally, but I really think that people who love to talk theology don't know Jesus in their hearts."
   “Well," I start again, "I... I don’t think there is anything wrong with learning things that are deep. You know, the deep mysteries of God.”

I am starting to feel a little defensive here and hate that I am feeling defensive. I should have no animosity towards someone who wants their spiritual life to be simple. So I mentally cross myself and pray for grace. The person usually gives me a great big spiritual grin, puts her arm about my shoulder and adds a syrupy piece of advice.

“Well, bless your heart. As you mature in Christ,” she whispers, “and I’ve been a dear friend of Jesus for many years, you will learn that it is best to be simple.”   
The person might at this moment touch my hand gently. She is sincere, I don’t doubt that. Then she walks off with a gospel-sharing glow.

These encounters make me feel judged-- as if my yearning for theological heights is anti-Christian. Perhaps I shouldn’t but I do feel these are subtle put-downs. I usually go to confession after these moments and pray for the person. I need to for my sake. 
But I ask myself, is it actually important to keep things simple?

Finding Complexity
You see, I crave something brilliant in theology. I need to know on a constant basis that God is amazing and His thoughts and His ways are infinitely above mine. This makes me feel secure. I see the complexity of creation and know theology must be like it. God made me a researcher, a perpetual student of His awe and for some reason that seems to intimidate other Christians--perhaps making them feel judged by me. (At least that is how I am taking the situation. I may be wrong.)

I sought this deep desire for theological brilliance and wisdom out. I dug for it and raced for it and pled for it and purchased this pearl of great price. I actually found it and...
It is wonderful to be humbled by the theological greatness I found in the Catholic Church. It was deep and complex and they drew from the Bible things that send spiritual shivers down my spine. At first I was skeptical, then miffed by Catholic answers to my questions, then I was furious and finally thunderstruck with exquisite shock. They were right and I was wrong. 

They were right and I was wrong.

Instead of being irritated by that fact, the humiliation turned quickly to a sweet humility that flooded me with an inexpressible gratitude. God is bigger than me. My brain cannot contain or fathom or invent such a wonderful church and its theology as I have discovered in the Catholic Church. 

The Complex via Simplicity

Guess what! I am not God. The Catholic Church forced me to understand that very simple little gem of theology but it took their crushing brilliance and complexity to do it!


That kind of pure humility is bliss. It gives you both joy and peace. I...am...not...God! My brain is nothing in comparison to God’s--that is a vital part of the gospel and that is such good news.


The Catholic Church not only satisfied and satiated my need for deep theology, I feel overwhelmed by it. Where I was craving a drop of liquid spiritual wisdom in former denominations, I found I was crashed over by a tsunami of Christian giants of the past 2000 years in Catholicism and now I am floating upon an ocean of radiant sagacity swimming among the great saints. 


For me, Catholic thought has been heaven--a vibrant complexity of diamonds sparkling with billions of little lights all shining upon some new facet of God’s love. 

Please don’t think I am in any way knocking simplicity. I’m not at all. If God draws you to simplicity I am thrilled for you. But God did not make me that way. Let’s unite and not let this divide us in Christ. 

2 comments:

Marcos David Torres said...

What an awesome post! Very heartfelt and sincere. I loved it! (Especially the title, lol)

When it comes to the whole simplicity/ complexity issue I would have to consider myself a hybrid. I love deep theology as well. I love knowing more and more because theology ultimately reveals the character of God. While many people enjoy hours of television and entertainment, I enjoy hours of theological exploration. But when it comes to life, ministry and practical spirituality I enjoy taking the complex and making it simple (but not shallow). Kinda like what Jesus did with the parables. Deep theology expounded in a simple yet infinitely profound concept.

Anyways, really enjoyed reading this! Excellent thoughts :)

Teresa Beem said...

Thanks David!