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Blue Jean Gospel

354573667_26de560f89_bAbruptly Jesus broke into prayer: ‘Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.’   -Matthew 11:25-26 

Semi-educated guess: At least ninety percent of us Christians can’t spell out our particular hermeneutic, we can’t name the five points of Calvinism, we can’t explain the differences between emergent and non-emergent, we can’t recite the Apostles’ Creed, we can’t define Antinominism, and we can’t identify the man responsible for posting his ninety-five thesis on the Wittenburg door in 1517 to ignite a movement that still rolls forward today. 

Theological scholars might say it’s a travesty. 

Maybe they are correct.   

But one thing we all can do is point to the One responsible for saving each and every one of our souls.

And that’s what counts after all.

Blue Jean Gospel is a blog for every day Christians who may not be scholars.  That’s not to say that those of us who didn’t go to seminary necessarily detest or denounce sound doctrine—to the contrary!—we may just articulate our faith a little differently.  We can have a deep hunger for truth and not be a charter member of the intellectual crowd.  We can love Jesus just as much as the smartest elder in our church and remain in the back pew if you will.  Jesus won’t discriminate when it comes to sharing his presence—you don’t have to join a prestigious missions society to be in his inner circle.

Can we agree that while some of us may or may not have all the fancy terms down, we can still have an affection for theology?—which after all, is the simple and pure study of God.  Our focus isn’t to merely familiarize or even memorize every jot and tittle this side of paradise there is to possibly know about this God, our passion is to intimately know and worship this Holy God in the person of Jesus Christ in his majestic and unmistakable Deity.

It’s not rule driven religion we are after, but it’s relationship with the Living God we cry out for. 

Jesus spent a considerable amount of his limited time with the undesirables, the unpopular, the misunderstood, the ostracized, the marginalized, and yes—the condemned. 

He certainly has the time of the day for those of us who may be a little ordinary and still have a lot to learn.

Visit Blue Jean Gospel here.

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  1. dancethespears
    November 14, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Strangely, I’ve experienced the opposite. A deep and abiding love for the wonderful mysteries and intricacies of God has often met with some distrust from fellow Christians, outright condemnation in some (extreme) circumstances.

    It’s been suggested that I don’t actually love God enough if I prefer to pondering him in a such a manner. That love for theology means I don’t emotionally love God and have a relationship with him, or that at the very least my relationship with him suffers for it.

    In fact, one time I was told theology, in general and in no way limited to my enjoyment of it, was a modern attempt at the Tower of Babel. Somehow by learning about God, people are attempting to become him!

    However, I may have also been party to the intellectual snobbery. Like many good things, what is intended for good turns out to be hurtful and divisive. Though it doesn’t forgive snobbery, I think that many people with an above average grasp of Christian history and belief are frustrated by those without one simply because of the dangers involved. Contradicting doctrines, inability to explain basic beliefs, misapplying scriptures, all of these cause quite a shock to the system. It almost begs for correction.

    It’s all too easy to become prideful. It’s easy to confuse priorities, and assume that one part of the body has the same needs as another. It’s easy to assume that one part of the body is better then the other.

    I remind myself that theology is like a gun. Some people need to be intimately familiar with that gun. They need to know it backwards and forwards. They need to be able to make it, reproduce it, and design ammunition for it. They need to be able to get a working gun into the hands of people that need it.

    The other people only need to know how to keep it clean and ready to fire when they need it. They don’t need to know why it works the way it does, they just need to know that it works reliably and how to do basic maintenance.

    They might even be a better shot with it then a person that knows more about the gun.

    Both groups are essential, and I agree that it is high time both sides realize that they’re on the same side and quite honestly can’t do without each other.

    Fancy terms or no, we’re all on the same mission.

  2. kenstoll
    November 14, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    …good points you make dancethespears, you have no idea how much I appreciated your note. You can’t use a gun very well you don’t know how to use. And misapplying scriptures is nothing to bat an eyelash at.

    As far as I am concerned, we are all on a journey to grow in Christ and to represent him in his absence, here at this very moment.

    In regards to groups, various classes, or clicks—I am not so sure there are to be distinctions among us. We are all on the same mission as you point out—rich, poor, black or white—as Christians those distinctions are buried in Christ (see Galatians 3:27-29). We do well to remind ourselves. Yes, how we all need one another, I have found that we don’t get along very well without the community of believers—and we are a wide ranging group of folks no doubt. So, I’m not big on distinctions that only seem to divide us rather than unite us, at least that’s been my experience (i.e. good, bad, mature, immature, holy, unholy, smart, stupid—are we all not sinners saved by grace?). Our various denominations serve as a barrier more than anything I am afraid (there was time you had “the church at Ephesus”, etc…).

    Justification by faith happens to the most hardcore and uneducated guy (not many of you were… 1 Cor. 1:25-27). Jesus chose regular dirty fisherman mind you—and a tax collector too if my memory serves me right. He ate with prostitutes and criminals—and even preferred their company. Nothing has changed. Many of us didn’t graduate from high school and some of us live in some of the most slum ridden places on planet earth (and never did have the privilege of 3 square a day and clean drinking water, let alone go to school). We can appreciate our personal redemption and even effectively share the gospel without knowing what the acronym “tulip” stands for—or that it even exists. You can have a serious conversation about the Bible without being able to teach a class on the Old Testament. So many more of us (verses less), are blue jean kind of folks on the “theological” playing field if you will.

    Theology isn’t knowing that Luther was going to pursue law until his brush with lightning and that he subsequently disappointed his father by choosing a path to the monastery. How many of my readers know that Luther’s monastic cell would quickly become his crucible and almost drive him insane—eventually becoming the very place the gates of heaven would open up to him. Many of my readers have no idea about church history, but they know the book of Acts well enough to know that we have some work to do in returning to our foundations. That’s plenty of history if you ask me—history we need reminding of ourselves and history we could stand to emulate more.

    Like you, I have had glorious moments of basking in the knowledge of God’s many many awesome attributes, but just because someone can’t spell them out in sequence or detail doesn’t mean they don’t have an idea about them. Some of the most lost people you’ll meet could win a bible trivia contest or score well at a bible memory weekend. Satan himself knows more than any one of us and he’s no closer to God for it—he certainly isn’t very Christlike or motivated by the love of Christ.

    Again, my point is this: Our faith isn’t to be measured by how much we can recite. It is to be gaged by “in whom” we have placed it, and it is to be validated by a works that appears as its fruit. I have some friends who feed and clothe the poor and share the gospel of grace right up the street here in Pontiac, Michigan. Some of these friends are really rough around the edges and some of them barely can spell out much other than the “basic” gospel message, but you know what—they are my heroes—not my friends in ivory towers formulating one more polished doctrine as they are ever so careful to cross every “t” and dot every “i”. I am afraid I am one who is more like those friends in suit and tie and less like my friends dressed in blue jeans out doing the actual selfless works of Jesus.

    Do you have a blog?—I tried to visit by clicking on your icon and was unsuccessful.

    Ken

  3. dancethespears
    November 15, 2008 at 6:56 am

    I absolutely agree that there is no need for anything more than a redeeming relationship with Jesus Christ to be saved. Furthermore, that’s all that is needed to be an extremely powerful member of God’s kingdom. After all, if God can save us from ourselves, a lack of knowledge on our part won’t really stand in the way of him being using us for his will. He get’s what he wants, we just need to be willing to be used by him.

    There’s only one tiny thing that I felt I might disagree with.

    The actual selfless works of Jesus are many and varied. No one can claim that he did not give us a crystal clear example of what it means to love our neighbors! He left no smidgen of doubt, it is a must-do.

    However, that is not the only thing that Jesus taught us. Most famous are the blue jean moments of his ministry, but he had incredible suit and tie moments as well. The resurrection appearance on the road to Emmaus centers almost entirely on Jesus’ perfect understanding of “theology” and his teaching of it to others. One of the travelers specifically refers to Jesus as someone “powerful in both word and deed.”

    That this account shows up in Luke, so focused on the social aspects of Christianity, makes it an interesting juxtaposition. Perhaps Christ was dual-natured in more then one way, by also being both perfectly blue-jean and perfectly suit and tie! Dual dual-natures?

    Maybe our fear is actually of substituting the means for the ends? It is easy to forget that theology has a purpose beyond the formation of a more perfect doctrine, or that service has a purpose beyond making one day on earth easier for a neighbor.

    I guess this might be another strange parallel between the church and christ. As a body we must be equally comfortable in both blue jeans and suits. As individuals we must make sure that we have both outfits in our wardrobe, if for no better reason then Christ himself did so.

    We should have a ready answer, and bear fruit and works. The funny thing is, I think, that when we love God and have a relationship with him, both of those come naturally. God provides us oppurtunity for works, and we must take them. God provides us the words to say, but we must say them.

    Quick ending thought: The languages used in ivory towers is different then the language of the blue jean crowd. When it comes to reaching and affecting nonchristians audiences, reams of perfect doctrine might be dismissed by the jeaners as irrelevant to their current struggles, but a helping hand would get through easily. Ivory tower residents might disregard simple charity as placebo-effect behavior, but they can’t ignore rational defense and argument.

    The hands of the church must sign to the deaf, while the mouth of the church must speak to the blind?

  4. kenstoll
    November 15, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    …amen. You make a solid case. “The hands of the church must sign to the deaf, while the mouth of the church must speak to the blind?”—good word picture there. He does get want he wants as you state, and furthermore he will shape each of us into the image of his Son no matter the means he must use. We are incapable of changing ourselves as you allude to, and it is a painful process as well as ongoing (are being transformed… 2 Cor. 3:18).

    I really appreciate your contribution as you bring up some great points. If I came across on as if I believe theology is useless or anything less than necessary, please forgive me. I am convinced some of my friends use what they think or define as “theology” as a badge or even as a pass to look down on others—as if they have a special club. We all are different and a great many of my brothers and sisters do fine in blue jeans.

  5. dancethespears
    November 15, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    “A badge or even a pass to look down on others.” Regrettably, you are correct. I’ve been guilty of it, and I know others have been too. I’ve been like like the disciples in the Temple, assuming that the widow dropping in her two coins is next to useless when compared to all those that donated a forture.

    And no, you never made it seem that you thought poorly of theology. Far from it! You’ve emphasized it’s value at every turn.

    I’ll be checking in often, thanks for the good reads and penetrating ideas.

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