Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)
TITLE: Theological Baggage
By Earl G Donaldson
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
ADD TO MY FAVORITES
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.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.