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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)

TITLE: Theological Baggage
By Earl G Donaldson


Theological Baggage

The thing that irritated Jesus most about the Pharisees was their preoccupation with purity laws. These man made laws were a major part of the “theological baggage” that kept the Hebrews from responding to the teachings of Jesus. Believers in today’s world also struggle with “theological baggage,” which can include not only religious rules and dogma, but relationships, personal prejudices and any other emotional hang up that limits one’s ability to think clearly about a new idea.
The message of the Kingdom of God that Jesus was bringing to the Hebrew world was new: certainly not what they were expecting. Jesus did not come to challenge the political power of the Romans or to replace Herod or Pilot or any other political leader. Jesus left his home with God and came into this society to offer spiritual power to individuals. Jesus preached that a personal relationship with God could not only make possible an abundant life here in this world but it could open the door to eternal life in the world to come: a clear and simple message, but the Hebrews just couldn’t understand it, because they were caught up in purity laws and other traditions from the past: “theological baggage.”
The “theological baggage” a modern day believer might bring along is different but just as destructive. We all have it: words spoken by a parent, a pastor or a Sunday school teacher; the doctrines taught by one’s church or denomination; beliefs expressed by high school, college and seminary professors; and doubts derived from personal prejudices or pain. The list of theological intrusions from the past could go on forever, and they all affect a seeker’s ability or inclination to think and discover new truth. Even though the message of Jesus is simple, it requires an open mind. One might object and cry out, “The things I learned in Sunday school were good.” Or “My mother was a saint.” And I’m sure she was, and college and seminary students learn wonderful things. All the baggage a believer brings on board is to that believer precious, which makes it all the more difficult to take a step forward without looking back. Tradition, denominational statements of doctrine, advanced education, words of wisdom from a parent, all seem so “right on,” and they may well be, but one must still study and think.
To Jesus, the option to “look back” did not exist. He had no “theological baggage.” To those who wanted him to recognize family, he demonstrated his freedom. “Who is my mother or my brethren” (Mark 3:33 KJV)? Time and again Jesus challenged his disciples to think and open their minds to his new and progressive thoughts. “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mt 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mk 4:9, 4:23, 7:16; Lk 8:8, 14:35 KJV). The religion of Jesus is for individuals who will think. It is one of personal discovery. Only truth that a believer personally uncovers and experiences is real.
Another objection is that of scripture, which is certainly valid. One might ask, “Why can’t we just accept the bible the way it was written? After all, isn’t the Bible God’s word?” And of course, you can accept the bible, but you still must think and engage. It is only when the seeker ingests the biblical idea that the concept becomes one that the seeker can use and build on. It is of little value to know that Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3) unless one is willing to actually seek the “born again” experience. The bible contains truth, but no truth––biblical or otherwise––has value until it is processed and incorporated into one’s belief system. One simply cannot live, enjoy and demonstrate the abundance promised by Jesus when their brain is dominated by the thoughts of someone else. The challenge we all face is to lay aside our “theological baggage” and seek the truth. Truth has its own parameters.

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This article has been read 225 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 04/27/12
A deep and penetrating take on the subject matter. I agree that the Word should be ingested and digested as it is. The Lord and His Word is simple when one has the ears to hear, and the eyes to see.

The so called "man's doctrine" interferes with the purity of God's Word. Nice job... I appreciate your efforts in maintaining the integrity of God's Word.

God Bless~
Genia Gilbert04/27/12
I can see that a lot of thought went into this, and it has depth. One suggestion: space between paragraphs would make it easier to read. But all in all, I thought it was very good writing.
Hiram Claudio04/30/12
Well written and truth to the principles we all need to follow. Well done!
Leola Ogle 05/01/12
This contained many nuggets of truth. I agree with Genia that spaces between paragraphs makes easier reading. Whenever I copy and paste my entry for submission, the spacing I have in my original never copies with the spaces. So I have to redo the spacing once it's copied. Perhaps that's your problem. If you preview your entry, it shows what it will look like to the reader. Thanks for sharing. God bless.
Nancy Bucca05/02/12
How true. I'm sure we all have theological baggage to rid ourselves of when striving to come to Christ. I know I certainly did. It isn't easy getting all those wrong doctrines and teachings out of one's head; but the Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. If we're willing, we can dismantle those mental strongholds - one brick at a time.

The one thing I think this article could have used to make it more meaningful is a little more showing, rather than telling; perhaps some dialogue as well.

Other than that, I truly enjoyed reading it. It's quite a powerful message. Thanks for this.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/03/12
You made some interesting points. This is definitely a thought-provoking essay. I liked how you interpreted parts to help the modern mind understand your message.