This past week we had an intensive introduction to seminary life which culminated in a retreat. All during this week we were challenged to be open to other methods of practice and "doing" religion. We did so by visiting churches and LOTS of class discussion and self-reflection. I loved it!
A prime component of all of this was our "Theological Worlds Test". There is a book by a hermit called Theological Worlds: Understanding the Alternative Rhythms of Christian Belief by W. Paul Jones which stipulates that all religions and reasons why people are drawn to particular Churches is that we are driven by a certain primal fear. So the way we see the world and interact in it is all based on what "world" we happen to reside in.
This is a great, ministry-changing idea as it helps one understand where ppl are coming from. it explains why particular ideas, sermons, bible passages, hymns, etc. resonate with some and not with others. All of these worlds are scriptural represented and supported. here is a quick run down:
World One: Orphan-- primal fear: all is not well! this is not my true home!
Life is: journey home to a place of protection. Heaven!
God is: loving parent, ultimate security (rock of ages)
Jesus is: link between here and "home/heaven", divine window
Church is: described in family images, a warm place.
Preachers act surrogate parents of God's family
Pop Culture Reference: Wizard of Oz (this isn't Kansas!)
World Two: Crusader-- primal fear: could be happy here, someone screwed it up! systemic injustice the real problem of the world. get rid of the "-isms" we can have heaven on earth! Heaven not important, now is paramount.
God seen as: coach, motivational energy to fight the fight.
Jesus is: social prophet, political agitator
Church is: a task force, change agent, a prophetic community
Preachers are like Martin Luther King JR, political activists
Pop Culture Reference: Rage Against the Machine
World Three: Adventurer-- primal fear: boredom! positive note sounds more loudly here in this world. it's largely optimistic and problematic spots of humanity are accidental. Harmonious world where you take care of yourself is taking care of others
God is: Energy, spirit, moving, motion, not stable!
Jesus is: not savior, more like a guide
Church is: education, spiritual recharging station
Preachers are exciting, challenging, and answer questions with more questions! the education aspect is really highlighted here.
Pop Culture Reference: The Simpsons (not linear plot, more wondering and covering lots of topics in one episode)
World Four: The Sinner--primal fear: moral and spiritual failure of humanity. Most thought of world when thinking of Christianity.
life is as test and trial. humanity is fallen/bad!
God is: the judge and will convict but not sentence
Jesus is: the sacrifice, enabler of forgiveness, SAVIOR
Church is: proclaiming community, worshiping
Preachers are role models for community.
Pop Culture reference: Jerry Falwell/Televangelists
World Five: Wounded Healer-- primal fear: shit happens, nothing you can do about it. you will die, life is tragedy. hope is that through other ppl an intimate bond will happen and God cares and empathizes with us.
God is: compassion and empathy
Jesus is: EMMANUEL! (God with us) and paramount as Jesus is the ultimate paradox. God knows through Jesus on the cross what it feels like to be abandoned by God.
Church is: intimate sharing, a big support group.
Preachers are pastoral councilors and role models of compassion
pop culture references: Mother Teresa, alcoholics anonymous, Fight Club
Here's the test for you to test yourself and see what worlds you score in. it's not digital and you have to sum up your scores all on your own, but it's worth it.
I scored high in worlds 3, 1, and 2. The thing about these worlds is that no one has the corner on the market. each one is just as valid as the others. so even though i didn't score high in world 5 or at all in the sinner world doesn't discount them. in fact our class was all over the board.
ministry is messy. what we're challenged as preachers to do is recognize these worlds and do our best to reach all worlds as best we can. what we need to strive for as ministers is to keep all these worlds in dialogue with each other as one can see the potential conflict that could come out of one holding onto their world and actively attacking the others.
So this whole process was definately a HONR! i really opened my eyes to what it means to be a minister as well as why there are so many churches with so many different ways of doing things. It explains alot about the world of religion but it also leaves open a HUGE question which would be "what way is right?" the answer is more questions! critical thinking! they are all valid and the world is a wide open place.
so how does my three interact? something like this:
something is wrong with the world, this is not my home--orphan
this wrong is partly systematically imposed and the -isms aren't helping--crusader
but these three dimentions are enjoyable despite these wrongs--adventurer
there are dimensions that get it right--orphan
we need to work to establish these dimensions here--crusader
by enjoying each other and the world at large--adventurer.