Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Different Frames

Being a systems person I am always asking bigger questions when confronted with an issue or conflict.  For example, in one church conflict I kept asking, "Is it possible that the Alaskan climate, especially during our long, cold, dark winters is contributing in significant ways to this conflict?" 
I do the same thing with theology.  All of our beliefs about God come from somewhere.  We can say they come from the Bible, but it is our interpretation that has been shaped by how we have been raised or what we are reading.  We can say they come from our experiences, but these often have meanings we and others impose on them.  We can say they come from our own thinking, but our thoughts about God are never pure, having been shaped by other forces. 

So I find myself backing up when I have thoughts about God.  What is the larger picture or frame I am looking through to think this way about God?  Maybe, just maybe, my frame needs adjusting.  Or perhaps I need to peer through a totally different frame.
Marcus Borg in his book, "Speaking Christian," talks about two frames of Christianity.  The predominant and historic one he calls "Heaven and Hell" and the other "Historical-Metaphorical".  I don't think Borg uses this example but a good one is the flat earth view that existed centuries ago.  We become attached to our big picture frameworks and don't give them up easily.  Think about Christians today who refuse to believe in evolution despite the evidence and cling to a literal view of the Bible.  How about Peter's dream in Acts 10 where he was persuaded to change a long standing belief and tradition of circumcision?  What did it feel like for Peter to look at new Christians through a different frame? 

What would it be like if you looked at God or the world through a frame other than the one you are currently using?  Frightening?  Unsettling?  Freeing?  Giving up our frames is not easy.  But perhaps God is not calling us to give them up completely.  Perhaps it would benefit God's purposes if we considered another frame for awhile, just for the experience of it.  We would return to our comfortable frames.  But somehow we would be transformed a bit, even looking at the world and God slightly differently than before.
Grace Always,

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