Skip to main content

Theological Tyranny

Job 15—Eliphaz

Religious tyranny holds onto theology rather than on to God. It has its set of beliefs and refuses to adjust them when all around it is shown to be wrong. This is the problem the Pharisees had. They could not accept God the Father as Jesus presented him to be because it contradicted the castles of air they had built. They had taken what God had taught through Moses and twisted it out of recognition by all the traditions they had developed. These traditions had been created as an attempt to follow and obey what God had taught but in the process, in the focusing on their interpretations and understandings, they lost God.

I see a parallel to today. Many churches, theologians and Christians, when faced with new ways of God’s revelation to us assume that it must be from the devil because it doesn’t match anything they’ve understood about God. Rather than considering that perhaps they have not had a full understanding of God (and who does?) they assume that what is “new” is wrong.

Oswald Chambers’ discussion of Eliphaz’s speech to Job* makes sense but it jars what I have been taught. In the late 1960s and early 70s, when the Jesus Movement broke out in tongues a book my church published warned against speaking in tongues and attempted to prove that it was not God moving the speech of these people but Satan. In later years when the “Toronto Blessing” was high in the news, the whole idea of God knocking a person to the floor seemed ludicrous to me and to most of the people I knew.

I was intensely sceptical until a good friend came back from Toronto completely changed after falling to the floor because of God’s presence. This was definitely the work of God and not of evil and I had to re-evaluate my theology accordingly. Chambers writes, “Theology is second, not first; in its place it is a handmaid of religion, but it becomes a tyrant if put in the first place.” Dogmatism is never right. We will never have a complete and total understanding of who God is or how and why he does what he does. We must be willing to hold our beliefs loosely, willing to adjust them when an encounter with God disputes them.

Eliphaz and Job’s other friends were not able to do this. They “knew” that God brings punishment to the wicked and blessing to the righteous and since Job was experiencing everything they understood to be punishment, they concluded that he was wicked and deserved all he got. Chambers advises, “Never be afraid if your circumstances dispute what you have been taught about God; be willing to examine what you have been taught, and never take the conception of an [sic] theologian as infallible; it is simply an attempt to state things.” I agree.

Lord, please keep my eyes on you and not on my beliefs. Let me not be so entrenched in any theology that I miss seeing you and what you are doing.





*"Baffled to Fight Better" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Monogamous, Homosexual Unions--My Position and the Story behind it

I've been asked to be one of two participants at church each representing opposing views on the matter of monogamous, homosexual unions, moderated by the pastor.  In preparation, I have written the following.  In the comments, please do not post any vitriol--from either side. If I think any comment is hateful, I will delete it. Respectful disagreement or questions are welcome, however.















My Position and Values:
I believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex is contrary to God’s will.I would like to say otherwise but I find nothing in Scripture that allows me to do so.BEING homosexual, having a longing or desire for someone of the same sex, is not condemned in the Bible.  We all have desires that are contrary to God’s will.  The sin occurs when we feed those desires, like Jesus talks about when he calls lust adultery (Matthew 5:28).Much cruelty to LGBTQ people has happened because of the stance of the Church. We have not acted with love, compassion and listening ear…

About the Author

DEBBIE HAUGHLAND CHAN
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA

I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

What Is Separating me from the Promise?

This is the question Andy Wood asked us each to consider this morning at the end of his sermon and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

Imagine the Jordan River on the eve of the Israelites crossing it into the Promised Land.  The river was at flood stage, so it was moving quickly (even the Red River here in Winnipeg moves quickly during flood season) but this particular stretch of the river near Jericho is narrower than the rest so that as the rushing flood waters reached the point where the people were waiting--all two million of them--it became even more turbulent.  Anyone who's witnessed a flood knows that it doesn't just carry water; there is debris like fallen trees, parts of sheds and houses and perhaps even animals unable to escape the river's grab.

Back in the days of Abraham, God had promised the land of Canaan to him and his descendants but during the days of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph, the whole family had moved out of the Promised Land to Egypt because of f…