Bad Theology Rohr, Young Shack Relationship
“Bad theology is like pornography- the imagination of a real relationship without the risk of one. It tends to be transactional and propositional rather than relational and mysterious. You don’t have to trust Person or care for Person. It becomes an exercise in self-gratification that ultimately dehumanizes the self and the community of humanity in order to avoid the painful processes of humbling and trusting. Bad theology is not a victimless crime. It dehumanizes God and turns the wonder and the messy mystery of intimate relationship into a centerfold to be used and discarded.” William Paul Young, The Shack, in The Divine Dance, The Trinity and your Transformation, Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell. P. 21.
A friend reminded us of this quote from Young in the foreword to Rohr’s book at a weekly preaching group discussion before Trinity Sunday.We talked about how the Trinity offers us an icon about relationships, a relationship of love. We all admit to worrying that we are preaching heresy, especially about the Trinity. I also constantly think about heresy in spiritual direction. Am I telling someone something that is not true about God? Well, of course I will. I am human, but my hope is that as long as I also stay in direction myself and try to stay in the present moment where the Spirit can move us, and think about what I am saying, and spend most of the time listening, I may stay connected. Talking and studying about theology and a relationship with God in community also may keep us closer to the truth. This is where the Anglican tradition of using scripture, tradition, and reason can be another tool to prevent us from “missing the mark”.
Young’s idea that bad theology is like pornography, a state of not being in a real relationship is startlingly helpful. If what we talk about only leads to a skimming the surface relationship with God, rather than that deeper messy one of love, we may be on the wrong track. One member of our group also reminded us that social media has some similarity to pornography in that it also is not a true relationship. It is a way of being in relationship but not having ever to get below the surface. No commitment. I use social media a great deal to stay in touch with family and friends, but I want to remember that a real relationship with that person as with God requires more, a visit, a phone call, a presence.