The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Isn't ALL theology 'roll-your-own'?

I am using Randy’s terminology of “roll-your-own” because it’s so appropriate and useful. :smiley:

Consider if you will the case of Brian N., a real person of my acquaintance. an intelligent and educated man who, upon his graduation from Calvin College, and wanting to become a Pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian (OP) denomination, had to face the so-called ‘trial by fire’ to determine his doctrinal orthodoxy.
He faced a group of elders and leaders and was orally quizzed on a number of items, the focal point being his agreement with everything in the Westminster Confession.
With one small quibble that was not judged fatal, he did so agree and went on to neither fame nor fortune, but a satisfying (it is to be hoped) ministry.

Something like this is no doubt common to most denominations. (an interesting word: "… a name, designation, or title;** especially, a general name indicating a class of like individuals; a category**
(countable) A class, or society of individuals, called by the same name; a sect or religious subgroup: - Wiktionary - my emphasis)

It seems clear that each ‘class’ considers itself Orthodox, even if that word is not used to designate the class; orthodox in the sense that, out of the abundance of Revelation and tradition and church history and all the things written about it, this class of people has CHOSEN a set of propositions as those elements considered to be most faithful to said abundance; primarily, of course, to Sacred Scripture.

Is Orthodoxy ‘roll-your-own’?
Yes it is. It appears to be a self-sufficient, established, concise, Scriptural body of belief but:
-it was put together by men, each of whom chose what to believe out of the abundance of materials available at that time and
-the materials that were used were previously produced by men who made choices that were often contradictory to one another and
-the church Councils also made those choices (and if you have not read the histories of those Councils, you should, to see how the ‘sausage
was really made’)

There are books written on these subjects. Let me just say that from what I’ve read and observed, Christianity is not ‘tidy’. There is nothing 'pre-pakaged. If you are Ox of one stripe or another, or Anglican, or RC - and consider those not of your persuasion to be somehow deficient (or heretical, God forbid) by their picking and choosing what to believe - really, look in the mirror. We all do exactly the same thing, as did those before us, and before them - unless we are calling for blind obedience.

I think for the 21st century individual the following is unavoidable:

"God said it.
I interpreted it
as best I could in light of all the filters
imposed by my upbringing and culture,
which I try to control for but you can never do a perfect job.

That doesn’t exactly settle it
but it does give me enough of a platform
to base my values and decisions on."

God said it.
I interpreted it
as best I could in light of all the filters
imposed by my upbringing and culture,
which I try to control for but you can never do a perfect job.

That doesn’t exactly settle it
but it does give me enough of a platform
to base my values and decisions on."

That’s why to me the concept of free will is borderline ridiculous since we are so influenced by a million things but that led me to realize that real justice can only manifest in the afterlife.

Well, you can argue - that all theology - is RYO (i.e. Roll Your Own). But some things, do have a common framework. Like a Lutheran, Baptist, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox framework. Or one that embraces the historical creeds.

But even if you adapt one of those frameworks - you might twerk it a bit.

Like the former Eastern Orthodox member. Who believed in Ultra-Universalism. Reminds me of watching the TV show - Animal Kingdom. All are members of a criminal family - raised by a criminal mom. And they kill, steal, etc. Actually, I can’t blame the boys. With a mother like Smurf, I would probably be the same way. But all these folks - if real - would be swept up to heaven immediately - under Ultra Universalism.
Or we might take the viewpoint - of full Preterism. And if so, I’m wondering why things are continuing. Why all this suffering, pain and misery?
Or we are all puppets on a string. In some type of hard core determinism. But we will all end up - in the same place. Like the Matrix Trilogy.
Or sin, death and matter - are illusions. Christian Science - mind you. All is ideas. And we just needs to see things clearly - to see the truth.

All these are plausible views. Probably arguable from scripture. But they don’t make sense to me. From a philosophical and theological standpoint.

Sure, the Orthodox are divided. And wrestle with things like:

Is the world created in 7 literal days? Or is it a combination of big bang, evolution and old earth - with God guiding it?
Or is hell a place of temporal punishment, P-Zombie solution of Anglican scholar N.T. Wright, Exile like Joshua Ryan Butler suggests, conditional immortality, etc.?
Is every word of the bible literally true? Which canon (RC, EO or Protestant) do we use? Or is the bible contain errors of history, etc. But give enough truth, for our salvation?
What happens to those of other religions? Or agnostics and atheists, who live a moral life - as best as they can?

Many of these questions, depend upon not only upon our take on the Bible. But upon the nature of God. Which is a topic of philosophical theology. And that’s one, of my favorite topics.

I call something that follows a collective theological view - a majority viewpoint. Anything else, is a minority theological viewpoint. And I don’t judge either.

I run with a Orthodox framework (primary Franciscan and Eastern Orthodox/ Eastern Catholic). Learn detachment from disciplines like Zen. And develop a sense of humor, to laugh and make fun of life. Like the Russian Orthodox Holy Fools. And the comedy elements, in a Shakespeare tragedy play. And development some pragmatic approaches to life. Like in addition to Orthodox medicine, use spiritual healing, Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Hi Dave. You certainly have been thinking. And you have expressed your thoughts well!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all statements of truth were simple and unequivocal? But that’s not how the world works, is it?

Even if God had dictated the words of the Bible to its authors (as some believe), there would probably be just as much disagreement about the meaning as there is now, since God’s words could be interpreted in multifarious ways.

So it appears that the arguments and disagreements will continue ad infinitum.

We only need look at the Muslims. They believe that God dictated his will in Arabic - via the angel Gabriel. And Arabic is the perfect language. But are ALL their scholars in accord, as to what the Koran is saying? Actually, no. :wink:

Let’s view an element or 2, from the Quora discussion Can a Muslim disagree with some parts of the Quran? at

And let’s quote a bit, from Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Koran at

Hum! Reminds me a bit, regarding “higher criticism” of the Bible. :laughing:

If the Muslims have trouble - getting it together. Are the Christians any better suited :question: :laughing:

Randy - I’m just guessing here, but I think you meant ‘tweak’, not ‘twerk’? :smiley:

twerk, v.: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance. The Urban Dictionary’s definition is: Also known as dirty dancing. When a woman slams her bottom on a mans pelvic are while dancing.

Good-natured ribbing Randy! :smiley:

Interesting, Dave. Considering the Spanish song Despacito (AKA slowly) on YouTube, has over 3 billion hits at Making it the most watched Youtube video. Certainly that (including the lyrics) is a good example of “twerk” :laughing:

Oh yeah!

In my opinion, Steve is right, but only in the extent that we are influenced… We still have the capacity and capability to learn and choose, so yes we have free will and there are a number of examples of individuals overcoming great social, economic, religious barriers to live great lives or to go on to accomplish great things.

daveB said:

I think that that is the interesting thing about 'modern ’ Christianity.

Beck has a post about the demise of the church here : … nt-be.html

Also from a political/religious view… here are a few posts from John Robb… … lence.html

and: … rica-.html