A Theology of Edginess

"Creative Commons Living on the Edge" by Bouncer Criss is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Creative Commons Living on the Edge” by Bouncer Criss is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A recent conversation prompted me to ask “How would I describe my approach to theology?” While I have just completed 8 months of blogging on matters theological – having written more than 180 posts and being genuinely amazed that almost 500 people from around the world have become subscribers to this “In the Meantime…” blog – I am still not sure which theological “labels” apply to my writings. I clearly don’t fit into traditional confessional / doctrinal theology. Some of my musings and reflections are in concert with process theology and/or radical theology, but I am content to leave process theology to those who truly understand it and radical theology to those who are truly unpinned from the traditions of the traditional, institutional church.

Even though it may sound arrogant (it feels more risky than narcissistic), I stand with Angelus Silesius and his poetic quatrain:

I am God’s alter ego.
He is my counterpart.
In timelessness we merge—
in time we seem apart.

 

I have become more concerned…

about progressive leading rather than conservative doctrines;
about Yeshua rather than God;
faithing rather than beliefs
paradox rather than dualism
myth and metaphor rather than cause and effect
questions rather than answers
social justice rather than personal righteousness
messianic process rather than the Messiah
divine calling rather than God’s will
engaging dialogue rather than winning arguments
relational theology rather than dogmatics
convictional knowing rather than eternal Truth
anguish of the disenfranchised rather than [in]convenience of the powerful
power with rather than power over
solidarity with the poor rather than feasting with the rich
eternal life now rather than everlasting life later
re-with-ment rather than isolation

Samuel Wells introduced the term “re-with-ment” as a replacement for the traditional concept of atonement. For Wells, re-with-ment means moving beyond separation and isolation in order to be with oneself, one’s neighbor, and one’s God. Caputo talks about being caught in the tension between the conditional and the unconditional; Rollins discusses the existential tension between crucifixion (abandonment) and resurrection (re-with-ment); for me it means being on the edge between the church’s old farts and a whole younger generation of theological practitioners who are not beholden to the institutional church or its traditional formulations of acceptable beliefs and practices.

Perhaps being on the edge of a variety of movements, understandings, and practices is an apt description of the space I inhabit. Mine is an edgy theology or a theology of edginess.

Some synonyms for edginess: annoyance, restlessness, uneasiness, agitation, expectancy, impetuosity, suspense. All of these represent, to some degree, the theological space I occupy – either in terms of what I bring to my reflections or how my musings might be received by many in the church. At the same time, my edginess does not prevent me from those experiences best described by antonyms of edginess, such as calmness, contentment, enjoyment, peace, ease, tolerance, waiting. Is edginess more a mood or an understanding or an intrusive strategy or …? Yes it is.

An edgy theology is, for me, an intentional decision to go into the wilderness (as Yeshua did), exploring call. It is a trusting into trust (Romans 1:17) that the wilderness will likely confront us with the barrenness of our pre-conceived notions while bringing us face to face with the impossible possibility that we will find true meaning in our lives only when we become who we are with others and with God. Wells calls it re-with-ment; Nouwen, in his second book about the prodigal son, simply calls it Home Tonight!

So…
a theology of edginess
a sojourn outside the box
of traditional theological thinking…
a questioning of every question
and answering every answer
with another, tougher question…
taking the big risk
that salvation is the collective pilgrimage
toward human wholeness in the midst of life
rather than a divine fix
transporting us beyond life…

a theology of edginess
is equal parts laughter and tears
mixed together with
the harshness and gentleness
of every day living,
to march ahead
powerless in the face of worldly power
poor when measured by societal standards
of prettiness and prestige
standing with one another
in solidarity
when we have nothing else to offer
except ourselves
our presence…

a theology of edginess
of an edgy God
who bears-with in solidarity,
having nothing else to offer
but the presence of an insistence
that envisions the impossible possibility…

Uncanny?
Spooky?

Mystery!

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