While I was visiting Trinity yesterday, I got to sit in on a PhD course on 19th century Protestant thought taught by Douglas Sweeney. He asked us these questions for a discussion on tradition and I thought they would make for a good discussion here.
These questions can be answered by evangelicals, Mormons and anyone else.
1. Which theological tradition do you identify with?
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how authoritative is your religious tradition in determining what you believe and how you operate? (1 being “not very authoritative” and 10 being “very authoritative”)
3. Why isn’t your answer to question two “10”? Or, if you actually did answer “10,” explain why.
4. What other factors apart from tradition have shaped the theological views you hold to today?
5. Can you think of colleagues within your own tradition who are giving lip service to your tradition but don’t seem to be working in continuity with it?
6. How do you decide when someone has crossed that line and no longer has a right to identify with your tradition?
Here are my answers.
1. This is a tough question for me. I was baptized into the Nazarene church as an infant but was not raised with a religious upbringing, and I’ve been pretty eclectic with my theology and style since my actual conversion. Still, if I had to pick one word to describe my brand of evangelical Christianity, I guess I would say “Pentecostal.”
3. Tradition boils down to men’s interpretation of and attempts to live what God has revealed. I’m very trusting of the Bible (as we have it) as God’s revelation; I’m not very trusting of men (or women).
4. Two main things. (1) The people I’m trying to reach out to. I’ll freely admit to attempting to form a type of evangelical Christianity that is closer to Mormonism and thus more appealing to Mormons. (2) My own theological study for truth.
5. I’m not really sure if I can name specific names since I’m so unlearned on internal Christian issues. Oneness Pentecostals probably qualify.
6. Doctrinally, any church that claims to be Pentecostal but denies the Trinity or the practice of the gifts of the Spirit (especially tongues) would qualify. Anyone who denies or minimizes the significance of being baptized by the Holy Spirit would also qualify.
Those are my answers. What are yours?
Also, I don’t want to overstay my welcome, so this will be my last guest post. Thanks, Tim, for letting me start some discussions and thanks everyone for participating.