Rebellious teens, rebellious theologians
Something happens when we go from high school age to college age, regardless of if we actually go to college or not. We begin to learn things apart from that which our parents taught us. It might not be new information, but it becomes our information. It’s as though we start to figure things out and these things somehow become more real. Mark Twain is quoted as saying,
When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
This becomes even more exaggerated when we learn things we had never heard before. It’s as if no one had attained such knowledge before! It might be in college, it might something from our work environment, or even from something on TV. When we learn it we want to tell others about it or even ask them, “Why has no one ever told me this before?”
I’ve noticed that the same thing happens on a theological level. People who are raised in one theological tradition move away from home for one reason or another, connect with a church or group of a very different tradition, and do what can be seen as a flip-flop much to the dismay of those back home. Some raised in a more Reformed tradition come to learn about Bible prophecy and wonder where this has been all their lives. People from a more charismatic tradition come to lear about doctrine in a Reformed environment and wonder where this has been all their lives. People from a more seeker-friendly tradition come to a church with Bible teaching and the Holy Spirit’s and wonder, well, you know.
To the young rebellious theologian I say this; slow down, take it easy. This is nothing new, it’s only new to you. Take it in stride. Most importantly, be teachable. Be a student, a learner. Take it all in, don’t thrown it all away.
To the pastors of church I say this; seek a Biblically balanced practicality in your church. Balance ins’t compromise. Teach your hopefully Holy Spirit founded conviction, but also inform about other views if for nothing else than the sake of education. Teach doctrine that is soaked in the love and power of the Holy Spirit.
Transition is a time for learning and for teaching. In either case it’s a time for testing. Use the time and the testing to make sure you are on solid footing, make any corrections needed, stand firm on what remains, and enjoy what is new. Well, new to you.