Thursday, July 26, 2007

Have to?

Yesterday, I wrote about "doing" faith and I think it is important to live out our faith. However, I feel compelled to clarify something. After attending Camp Victory this past summer I've heard a few different students share things like, "I have to ask God to be a part of my life." Really? Did God leave you some time after your baptism and now God needs an invitation to return? That's not how I understand God to operate.

I think places like Camp Victory are doing some great ministry. I just have some concerns with their theology and how it differs from our Lutheran understanding. When you get into what we call "decision theology" I think we begin a step toward a dangerous theology. When we say things like, "You have to ask God into your life" that is putting the power of salvation into the hands of humans. That is to say that salvation is dependent on the act of humans. Our Lutheran theology teaches us that it is God alone that does the saving, primarily through that one gracious act some 2,000 years ago.

My concern then is that when I write things about "doing" faith it gets similarly misconstrued. It becomes easy to start thinking I have to do these things, with an unspoken reason for salvation. We don't live out our faith and serve others as part of a requirement to gain salvation because that puts us right back in the trap of being in control of our salvation. Instead we live out our faith and serve others as a response to our salvation, because God has given us this gracious gift despite ourselves.

These are, in many ways, subtle differences in understanding faith and theology. However, I also believe they are important differences. They are why I am proud to claim a Lutheran heritage and understanding of theology (even if I don't totally understand all of theology... it's complicated).

No comments: