Theological statements - part 1
It seems to me that, in these days, I am more aware of theological statements than I ever have been. Now, theological statements are statements about God, or man's relationship to God, that are purported to be true. So, for example, when I say "I am a sinner" I am making a theological statement. I am defining my position before God. I am also saying something about God as well. But more on that later. Or maybe not. At any rate, there are a lot of theological statements that are being bandied about and I want to set my mind on trying to make some sense of it all.
When I move from the "is" to the "ought" I am making a theological statement. in other words, I can with my eyes and ears observe someone taking a candy bar from a store and not paying for it. Where I am from we call that stealing and I can see someone stealing. That is a experiential statement and can be verified or proven false through observation. Now, when I say "I ought not to steal," that statement cannot be verified through observation. I know that we can demonstrate that stealing harms the economy of the individual that is stolen from (that can be demonstrated by numbers) but who is to say that we ought not to harm that person or a particular category of people? Maybe they were put on this earth for the sole purpose of suffering harm and we are merely fulfilling their purpose here. That is a fair interpretation apart from a standard that is true for all people and all time. I have a standard that I use to judge what I ought to do when I am tempted (another theological term) to steal: God's word as revealed in the Bible.
Now, theological statements apply to individuals, not groups. I cannot say that I saw a 12 year old, blonde haired boy steal a candy bar so all 12 year old, blonde haired boys steal candy bars. It does not work like that. Theological statements cannot be ascribed to a group. It is like saying that all Catholics oppose abortion. By definition, if you are Catholic, you are making the statement that you support the tenants of the Catholic church. I have run across many people who identify as Catholic who do not agree with the church on a number of issues. I am done saying "Well, then. you are not Catholic." Even God through the choosing of the nation of Israel dealt with people on an individual basis. There were true Israelites and false Israelites. The false one rejected God. The true ones accepted, by faith, beliefs about him that were revealed to them in the Scriptures. Even though God had a relationship with a group of people he related to individuals in that group.
All this to say, I have been known to think about groups theologically. Now, it seems to me that I should be able to say "Because you are _____ then you _____. Here's one: "Because you are a Baptist you believe in the complete separation of church and state." Now my belief system is in line with many, historic positions of the Baptist, Christian denomination. But not all Baptists share that with me. And I am not interested in calling someone who has been a Baptist for 80 years anything else other than a Baptist.
So, where is all of this leading? Down an uncomfortable path. A decidedly uncomfortable path.