Five Theologies

Journal 2005. I can’t remember the source or author, but I found this in my files. I’d be happy to attribute it correctly if anyone knows who wrote it.

The author listed five types of theology and stated a local church must have at least three of these to be balanced and effective.

  1. The mystical (emphasis on inner healing, Holy Spirit)
  2. Suffering (third-world countries often live here)
  3. Sin-Salvation (fundamentals of the faith)
  4. Social injustice warriors (feed the hungry, heal the sick, anti-abortion)
  5. Self-fulfillment (typical American, those who live in peace and prosperity)

To make it personal, I wonder how these apply in my own life. I’m moving toward the first one. I’m acquainted with suffering vicariously through my clients and African roots. I’m intimately familiar with #3 because of my MK upbringing. I agree with the need to address social injustice but don’t do much about it. And I have the luxury of living in peace and prosperity. Does this mean I’m balanced and effective? I’m not sure.

Where does your local church fit in this list? Where do you? Do you agree with the author?

A 2021 update. I have become more laser-beamed toward #1 because of my ministry and #5 because of my current culture. Perhaps I’m a little imbalanced, according to this author, but I think I am more effective because I understand my gifting and calling. But when the church body works together, we can partner with others who live out a different theology.

Nikki’s Story

From my 2016 Journal. Twenty-five years ago, I volunteered to substitute-teach in a 4th grade girls’ Sunday school class at our church in Holland, Michigan. One girl in particular was rather recalcitrant, and I didn’t know how to handle her. So I was surprised at the end of class when she asked me to explain what salvation meant. I did not know at the time that she was a visitor.

I don’t remember what all I said, but I do recall reaching into my purse and retrieving a quarter. I held it in the palm of my hand and explained that salvation is a free gift that Jesus offers to us, just like I was offering her this quarter. She stared at it, puzzled. “It’s a free gift,” I repeated. “It’s yours.” Suddenly the light bulb went on, and she reached out and took it. “That,” I explained, “is what salvation is. All we have to do is receive it.” That day, Nikki accepted Jesus into her heart, and she taped the quarter into her Bible as a reminder of her decision. The following week her mother sought me out to thank me and to inform me that Nikki had radically changed since making this important decision.

Nikki continued to attend the church on up through high school, and one day her mother asked me for a favor. Her daughter was going to participate in a Chrysalis Retreat*—a time of intense spiritual growth—and she needed to gather letters from various people to encourage her on her journey. Of course I agreed to participate. Shortly thereafter, we moved to Tennessee, and we lost track of each other.

Imagine my delight and surprise this month when I got a message on my answering machine from a Nicole who said she was looking for a Karen who had written a letter for her Chrysalis bag. She said God was doing great things in her life, and she wanted to share it with me. She’d Googled my name, found my home phone number, and sent a friend request on Facebook. I was clueless as to who this person was until I called her back, and she relayed the story of the quarter. Then it all came back. Nicole—or Nikki as I knew her then—had recently watched the movie War Room and was in the process of creating her own prayer closet. She’d unearthed her bag and determined to contact each person who’d written her a letter to thank them for speaking truth into her life. What a joyful time of fellowship we had as we caught up on each other’s lives!

*chrysalis.upperroom.org/about

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