You’ll notice this site has new strapline, prompted by The Scylding’s comment on the BHT today:
I’ve found that of late, my theological questioning has died down a lot. I’ve virtually stopped asking why? – now I go to church, accept forgiveness, partake of His body & blood, and pray and work through stuff daily, without tormenting myself about the big (theological) picture. I can’t say why this has happened – but there is little angst and introspection regarding theological matters. Not that I have the answers, or have found solutions. I’ve had plenty of other problems to deal with – but in the past, problems let me to question theology.
As I said in reply, I can identify with what The Scylding is saying here:
For all that I may engage in more theological discussion than is probably healthy, I really don’t have any major angst about theological issues any more. Basically, if it’s not in the Small Catechism then as far as I’m concerned it really doesn’t matter all that much.
If it is in the Small Catechism, though, then you can take it from me when you prise it out of my cold, dead hands.
As I’ve said before, I believe the Small Catechism is a statement, not of “Lutheranism”, but of “mere Christianity”. It’s even more basic than “Augsburg evangelicalism”. The Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Absolution, the Lord’s Supper and daily prayer: that’s Christianity for you, right there.
But, you may ask, does this mean that those who disagree with the Small Catechism (e.g. as regards baptism or the Lord’s Supper) are “defective” Christians or in some way outside the “true church”? How can the Small Catechism represent “mere Christianity” when so many Christians disagree with significant parts of it?
Well, to return to a theme from one of my earlier posts back in 2004, this is a matter of “centred sets” rather than “bounded sets”. In other words, I am not concerned here with defining a boundary, within which are “true Christians” and outside of which are “heretics” or “defective Christians”. Rather, it is a case of defining Christianity it terms of its “centre” rather than its “boundaries”. Of course, the true centre is Christ, but we encounter Christ in the life of the church, a life delineated by the Word, the sacraments and prayer, as expressed in the Catechism.
Some reading this may consider that the Small Catechism is in fact some way “off-centre”. Well, we’ll have to agree to differ on that (at least until you admit you’re wrong ;-)). But I’d still suggest that a “centred-set” way of thinking about these issues is more fruitful than a “bounded set” approach or seeking an irreducible “lowest common denominator” of teachings supposedly agreed upon by all Christians (which is really just defining a bounded set, but with a somewhat wider boundary!).
And here’s where I think the centre lies. “Here I stand”, and all that…