I’ve begun working my way through chapter 4, titled The Theology, Stupid, and while I’m not too deep into the chapter I want to explore aloud this idea of living the Christian life as it’s built on the planks of our personal theology. Jones says, “Good theology begets beautiful Christianity…bad theology begets ugly Christianity.”
What is “beautiful Christianity” supposed to look like. In art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Does this same thought hold true as it relates to Christianity? Jones continues to say, “A lot of us, emergents included, are disheartened by the complexion of Christianity in America.”
If first impressions determine the “second date” how has Christianity faired? Presently it seems none to well, at least generally speaking. Where this can become problematic is that the message of Christianity–the Gospel– falls victim to ugly Christianity and risks becoming irrelevant to many both in and out of the church.
It appears that Jones is putting the burden, on the shoulders of our theology, to bear the weight of the Gospel message and its intended effect and impact. This then begs the question, what is the purpose of the Gospel? Is it simply to win converts, or to save sinners, or is it something more? Isn’t the Gospel message a message of love and redemption offered freely by the creator God to his creation? So yes, you can say it’s a message to save sinners, but I’m afraid when the Gospel is reduced only to this we verge on the edge of “ugly Christianity.” This version of the story rarely speaks of relationship, and real life although we seem to think that it does. And personally, I think that “beautiful Christianity is full of relationships lived out in real life; which of course can be risky and dangerous and if we’re being honest, exciting too.
I would like to think that the complexion of Christianity in America can be seen as beautiful and vibrant not only to those outside the church but to those inside as well. But now, I think we arrive back at theology. And theology, while important and necessary, tends to divide and turn the beautiful into ugly. Yet, if we’re to achieve the beautiful in our complexion the discussion of theology can’t be ignored or minimized; it has to be engaged.