Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Theological labels

Those labels --- I never did much care for them. Recently someone tried to dismiss my ability to reason theologically with a disgusted, "You're just a Baptist!"

"Uh, not really," I contradicted, "or at least not a very good one." And, even if I was firmly Baptist to the bone, so what?

It's true that I am currently a member of a Baptist church. However, the reality of my theological journey is so much more complex and meandering, especially over the past two decades of marriage.

Here's an update to something I used to have up on my website, as a means of answering those who would email me in search of a convenient and dismissive label.

We aren't into labels, having found that those who wish to attach theological labels to others often do so in an attempt to dismiss anything the other person might say. ("Well, what do you expect? He's a fundamentalist." "I should have known. Can anything good come out of the Baptist church?" "It figures. Those Reformed people..." etc.) Plus, labels are so simplistic and hence inadequate to be attached to the complexity of our thoughts. For those who simply cannot function without labels and denominationalism, here's a few my husband and I have reluctantly worn, are wearing, or might wear in the future (and these are just the ones we'll admit to):
  • Christian
  • saved by grace
  • redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
  • grew up as a PK (that's Preacher's Kid, not Promise Keeper)
  • grew up in an unchurched family
  • heavily influenced by Lutheran roots
  • heavily influenced by Episcopalean liturgy and architecture
  • evangelical
  • Baptist
  • nondenominational at heart
  • Orthodox Presbyterian
  • returning to the Baptist church
  • still pretty much nondenominational
  • Calvinist? Arminian? I'm not sure.
  • 4-point Calvinist
  • 5-point Calvinist
  • staunch 5-point Calvinist
  • ultra-staunch 5-point Calvinist (I think the Internet Monk may have written an article or two about what I was like back then.)
  • wishy-washy 3.5 point Calvinist
  • closet Calvinist who likes to argue the Arminian position
  • pseudo-Calvinist
  • classical premillenialist
  • not-quite-postmillenialist, but reading on the issue
  • panmillenialist (whenever or however the millennium comes, everything will pan out in the end)
  • Biblical literalist, sort of
  • semi-Reformed
  • more-than-semi-Reformed
  • beyond Reformed
  • semi-Covenantal
  • more-than-semi-Covenantal
  • New Covenantal...sort of
  • sympathetic to paedobaptism
  • still clinging to Believer's Baptism by immersion only
  • practicing Paedobaptists but still very sympathetic to the Baptist position (i.e., theological fence-straddlers)
  • once again practicing Believer's Baptism, but not as hardnosed about immersion
  • pacifist
  • no longer pacifistic
  • pacifistic nonresister
  • fierce protector of children
  • sure about the spiritual gifts
  • sure about the spiritual gifts, but from the opposite position
  • not so sure about the spiritual gifts
  • always reforming
  • standing firm in liberty! (Galatians 5:1)

  • So there you have it. Clear as mud?
    [slightly edited, yet again, on June 22]

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