Disoriented Theology

I sat with my graduate-school adviser, discussing what class I should take this fall — the class that will begin my completely unforeseen journey toward a theology degree — and we agreed on a logical choice: Advanced Introduction to Old Testament.

“Now, this class will probably disorient you,” he warned. “It will totally reorient the way you look at the scriptures. A lot of people have trouble dealing with that.”

It was a kind gesture. He went on to let me know he or my professor would be happy to help me if I struggled with this disorientation. I chuckled a little. If only he knew.

Disorientation and reorientation. You can’t have one without the other, I think. And though I initially think of the two as a series of self-contained actions, I’m finding that in my life, God is taking me through a simultaneous process of disorientation — a fundamental shaking free of my assumptions, my biases and my preconditions for understanding God and the world he created — and reorientation — a grasping for faith deeper and realer than anything I’ve ever known.

There’s a pressure in our culture to have everything together, to win the debate, to grasp the prize. I fit well into that culture. I love to debate. I’m competitive. I need to know, and armed with knowledge I need to share, even if it’s not knowledge you particularly need to have — even if it’s knowledge you think might not be correct. Sharing quickly takes on an evangelistic quality, followed seamlessly by a pugilistic quality.

I’m learning this is not correct. That perhaps the answers I had were incomplete or — gasp! — wrong. But if the old answers are wrong (and I should hasten to add they were wrong for me. I’m not convinced those answers are necessarily wrong for everyone.), what are the new answers? Do they exist? It’s … well, disorienting.

But it’s incredibly freeing, as well. To recognize that my ingrained assumptions, the ones with which I was raised, are not necessarily the correct ones is to allow myself to begin a journey, an exciting adventure of discovery that may not ever end. I may be, as C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, simply moving “further up and further in” to a deeper realization of who Christ is and what he’s calling me to be.

Join me, won’t you? For perhaps the first time in my life, I can’t promise any answers, but I hope we can have some stimulating discussion and share in some amazing revelations as God reveals more and more about his nature to this student.

Let’s become disoriented together and see how God reorients our lives.


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