Saturday, July 16, 2011

40 Day Fast Day Twelve: Processed Vs. Organic Theology

Mmm hot dogs. In a convenient can.
I spent a while working in our garden this morning, which involved a lot of weeding. We wouldn't have so many weeds, but last season I was too tired at the end of the season to put weedblock down over the garden. Basically, I put 20 minutes of work off and let it grow over the fall and winter and spring into several hours of pulling weeds.

Because of all the bending over involved in weeding, I could really feel the effects of fasting on my body. I was getting worn out really easily, and more than that, the bending over and standing up often made me light headed.

It's amazing how quickly the weeds come in. Last season we had them under control, but turn your back for a couple months and they come back, inexplicably more numerous than before (okay, it's technically explicable, but give me some poetic license here, people). We could, of course, buy processed and pre-prepared food from the store and not have to do all this work (and believe me, we often do). But if you want to grow your own food, know where it comes from, and pick fresh peas or tomatoes or peppers from your garden, it's going to require some patience and some hard work.

Reflecting on this today and applying it to spiritual things made me think about how often we take our theology from other people instead of developing our own. In other words, we get all our theology from songs on the radio, from theological books (from well-respected theologians, of course), from our pastor at church, from our trusted mentors, and from television preachers. They're all second-hand sources. We've created a culture of spiritual food in which the easiest way to learn about God is to buy pre-packaged, processed, pre-digested food. We don't have to meditate on Scripture to figure something out, it has all been explained to us. And just like any processed food, making an entire diet of this sort is unhealthy and even dangerous. If we're not looking at the first source of spiritual knowledge, if we're not interacting directly with God, the chances that we'll adopt someone else's misconceptions is not only likely but inevitable.

But developing our own theology is hard work. There's weeding to be done, and planting, and patience and meditation and prayer involved.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that I need to spend a little less time in the grocery store and a bit more in my garden.

How about you? What do you think?


  1. I totally agree.

    So many of us--myself included--don't get into the Word daily. We go to church on Sunday morning, sing praise songs, listen to the pastor's sermon, and then go our own way until the next Sunday morning when we start our weekly routine all over again.

    We don't crave the "pure spiritual milk" of the Word like we should! We allow ourselves to be fed whatever is being served without thought or consideration.

  2. I was watching a sermon online the other day and was shocked at the very definitive stance this pastor took on a particular topic. I was very troubled and it wasn't until I went to the referenced scripture to read it for myself that I began to question his interpretation. Because that is exactly what it was - his interpretation. It's easy for me as a layperson to trust the interpretation of those who have gone to seminary. But I think it's equally as important for me to spend time reading the word and hearing directly from the author.

  3. Anonymous4:37 PM

    I agree as well, but sometimes it is so hard to have the discipline to think for ourselves and really figure out what God is saying in His Word. It's really exciting when we can discover something about God on our own though. Lately I've been writing short stories about what I think heaven and heavenly relationships with be like, and although i've definitely been influence by different theologies, for the most part, it is just based on what God has been teaching me from the Bible and other experiences. It is really cool to discover new growth.

  4. Matt, I really agree with your processed vs self-discovered spiritual food idea. In fact, I developed a study called "Feeding Yourself from the Word of God" because of this (personal Bible Study Methods).

    May I quote you from this blog?


    1. Yes, of course, Duncan. It would be an honor. Thanks for asking.