For our theology to be truly “Christian”, above all else it must have Christ at its center.
If this seems obvious, good, it ought to. But our practice often puts the lie to our profession.
It is entirely possible to do theology, or even to study and preach the Bible, with hardly a mention of Jesus. And it happens more than we might like to admit.
I think that, often, we set Jesus on a shelf because he terrifies us. We have our easy categories and our self assured view of the world around us, and Jesus turns it all upside-down, setting a question mark alongside everything we thought it meant to be pious or orthodox.
In last week’s reading from Common Prayer, I came across this quote, “Teach us the necessity and power of asking the right questions, and help us to live the answers.”
And the key question is this – what does it mean to be faithful, orthodox, loving, pious, forgiving, etc. in light of the story of a Messiah who died on a Roman cross and rose again from the grave?
If every word of our theology is not transformed by that story, the Jesus story, then whatever we are doing it has no claim to the name “Christian.”
So when we think about the death penalty, the value of life, the doctrines of heaven and hell, what it means to live out our faith in this time and place, the intersection of faith and science, how we treat those who are different from us, and the thousands of other questions we face in this life – let us always ask how the story of Christ transforms the way we see all other stories.
Let us ask the right questions, and let them be cruciform questions.