One of the problems I considered when I started this blog (and consider every time I write) is the matter of offense. I suspect much theological writing comes across to the reader as offensive in that it is dogmatic, argumentative and judgmental. These are cardinal sins, particularly to the postmodern mind (as I understand postmodernism).
Dogmatism represents a closed mind; it is the source of bigotry and most other evil in the world. Dogmatic assertions must be replaced with stories. Argumentation is inherently divisive and annoying. It is to be replaced with a more civil discourse, something called conversation. And judgmentalism is the worst sin of all. It reveals a self-righteous and arrogant spirit. I may hold my beliefs, (which are true for me), but I dare not judge yours (which are true for you.) Judgmentalism must always yield to toleration, not just in the normal sense of the word (no burning at the stake), but in the moral obligation to accept opposing ideas to be of equal value with your own. That may paint postmodern thinking with too broad a brush, but, no matter. I could use the same brush for modern thinking or any other kind of thinking.
Any theology, it seems to me, will inherently be offensive to someone. To “take a position” is to risk offense, regardless of how loving the intent or how sweet the tone. That’s why politics and religion are forbidden topics at the Thanksgiving table. In contemplating all this, I began to doubt whether any of this is worth it. What is the point of it all? Does not almost all theological discussion just create more confusion, more insecurity, more doubt, more division among Christians, more offense to the non-Christian?
I have seen theology divide fathers from sons, children from parents, brothers from brothers, friends from friends. All in the name of God’s honest truth. Is this really what God's truth is intended to do? (Some would say yes.) But does anybody really have any idea what they are talking about? Do I? (Some would say no.)
At this point in my thinking, I could have gone either way. Shut down the blog or forge ahead. ” Then I reread Forde’s introduction to his book On Being a Theologian of the Cross where he cited I Corinthians 1:18-25. I read and reread. Finally, I had an “aha” moment of sorts. I think I’m beginning to understand. The theology of the cross is not just one more theology that will offend some people and not others. It offends everybody! It offends me.
One reason it offends me is that it is not a theology (at least not in the normal sense), but rather an attack on theology. In fact, it puts an end to theology. Now I think I know why Luther never wrote a systematic theology. (Or Paul, for that matter) It also dawned on me that the theology of the cross (which is not a theology) could, in fact, be very postmodern (as well as modern, medieval and ancient.)
As I forge ahead, the reader should be aware that I may truly have no idea what I’m talking about. But I will continue to explore this strange new world of the theology of the cross (which is not a theology) and will (probably) continue to blog.