Practically speaking, a lot of Christians think of theology like a box.

They think it forms the walls and lid for our minds and souls. The box shelters us from evil. Creativity — thinking outside the box — represents some kind of disruptive assault on all that is right and good.

We Christians have a hard time knowing when to be orthodox and when to be groundbreaking. There’s not much room for creativity when it comes to theology. It’s a set system. And that’s ok. But, it’s harmful to let our fixed theology calcify our minds.

The easy and lazy path is to be conservative in everything and fight change of every kind.

If you’re the kind of person that is threatend by change, I’m not judging you. I’m just inviting you to consider that you’re predisposition to favor the status quo (to be conservative) may be the function of other factors — your personality, your past experiences, your personal preferences.

In other words, if you don’t like Jackson Pollock, it’s not God’s fault.

Using God to back up your own ideas warps our world’s understanding of what God is like. And,  it makes you look silly:

“Christians are not always viewed as creative people, either by ourselves or the secular world. We tend to limit ourselves and what we are able to do with the talents and gifts God has given.

For example, for years may magazines and Sunday school publications bought their Bible art from a lithograph service. The little line drawings were safe, predictable, and dull. Then one publication decided to try something different. A Jewish artist was hired to illustrate Bible stories. She did an unusual job. The pictures seemed to come alive on the page. But no sooner had Christians opened their first issue than they began to write protest letters. “These pictures look too Jewish,” the letters declared. “The don’t feel Christian, you know. Some of the people in them aren’t smiling.” The artist’s work went into storage and the conservative readers breathed a sigh of relief; modernism had been stopped.

In the world of art, we have chosen religious propaganda over genuine creative work. Yes, we are interested in pointing people to Christ, but that noble goal gets rather downgraded when we thing the Holy Spirit can’t work through excellence.” [1]

This is talking specifically about art, but the underlying principle applies to Christian’s aversion to change across the board. Using theology as a box to shelter us from having to make decisions about life in the contemporary world would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Some of the most deeply spiritual and meaningful contributors to our understanding about God were also among history’s most creative minds. They did not view theology as a box. They saw it more as the mind’s north star. A fixed reference point essential for keeping their explorations of creation on a healthy course.

Theology didn’t hold them back. Theology wasn’t a protective shield from the harsh realities of life. Theology was their map to adventure and their guarntee that, wherever they might roam — physically, intellectually, creatively — all they had to do was look up to get their bearings and find their way home.

So, before we close the lid on a creative effort let’s consider: Is this really theology at stake?  Or, is this my box talking?

God is big. He doesn’t need our box. Let’s be conservative only when necessary.

[1] From: Creative Teaching Methods, LeFever, 1990

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Posted by Wildman

Husband. Dad. Pastor. I like to capture moments, pull their threads, and see what unravels. Lead well, read well, think well. And grace. Lots of grace.

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