About my theology

You might have noticed that my main profile picture is of a woman holding a staff that has budded. That’s a reference to Aaron’s staff (Numbers 17:8) and the image is from a piece of artwork by Siku. The picture above is similar: the snake is a reference to how Moses and Aaron threw down their staffs in front of Pharaoh (Exodus 7:8-11) and how Aaron’s staff devoured the staffs of Pharaoh’s magicians. She’s picking it up by the tail because that’s how Moses was instructed to pick up his staff when God met with him at the burning bush (Exodus 4:4).

So, theology…

From one angle, my beliefs are quite orthodox: I believe we are all equally in need of salvation and that there is no salvation outside of the cross of Jesus Christ. However, I’m really not sure how consciously aware people need to be of the cross and/or Jesus before they can participate in the resurrection life. So, from that angle, I differ from many Christians who hold strong conversionist beliefs and this is one of the reasons why I wouldn’t describe myself as an evangelical. Meanwhile, although I believe Jesus is the one who saves, it’s not for me to judge who will ultimately be proven as having entered his salvation.

So I try not to.

Am I about to try and convert people?

I have little love of conversionism and I’m not here to make people agree with me.

That said, I’m not going to be dishonest about my faith. And no, I don’t believe there’s any way of life that can surpass having a conscious, active and living relationship with Jesus (and all persons of the Trinity for that matter).

If I have an agenda then, I suppose you could say it’s to help people imagine what it might mean to know God, or to know him more closely. I’m not about to hand out tracts. Instead, I’ll offer my writings in the hope that people will come and taste what the kingdom of heaven is really about. If you come here and walk away with a more integrated, rounded, and/or nuanced approach to life, I’ll count that as a success. After all, thriving relationships, being our full selves, appreciation for the world around us — I believe these are all part of what relationship with God is in its fullness.

Meanwhile, it’s taken me a while to get to where I am and I know I haven’t got it all figured out just yet. But then, I think a person’s direction of travel is more important than where they currently are.

What do I believe about Bible?

I think it’s an absolutely amazing compilation of books, from voices across a wide expanse of time, all of whom I believe were inspired by the Holy Spirit when they wrote.

I believe the Bible is God’s word written. So, whilst I believe the Bible was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Bible in a way that is unmatched by any other text or medium, I do not believe the Bible is itself a person or a substitute for the persons of the Trinity.

I don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word. I believe Jesus is God’s Word.

I don’t believe the Bible to be infallible. I think of infallibility as an attribute of a person, not a text. Jesus is infallible, a book cannot be.

I don’t believe the Bible to be inerrant. If it is, then why, for example, does Isaiah 61:1 talk about release for the captives and prisoners, but Luke 8:14 (quoting that verse) talk about release for the prisoners and the blind? Seriously, if the Bible is inerrant, then why do the Masoretic text and the Septuagint vary from each other? (You have heard of the Masoretic text and the LXX, right? If not, do a quick internet search.)

Importantly, although I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant, I do believe it is trustworthy for matters of faith. However, I also believe — as CS Lewis put it — that if we don’t in some sense read it as literature, we don’t read it at all.

I believe the Bible is less a rule-book and more the witness of the revelation of God throughout history, up until the early church. This revelation means that humanity’s understanding about who God is has developed over time — and indeed we are still learning. I believe that the church actually needs to be OK with being changed by groups of people who have historically been excluded from it. Actually, this is something that’s really important to me and I wrote more on it in this post here.

Meanwhile, I really love the Old Testament including the Old Testament law and I write about them often. That’s not because I’m a legalist disguised as a progressive, it’s because I have a different view on it compared to many others and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I wrote more about how I view the Old Testament law here.

Do I believe God desires and celebrates women in positions of teaching and leadership, both inside the church and outside the church?

Yes. Definitely.

Also, I love preaching. (I did a short video on this subject on Facebook.)

Am I affirming of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships?

Yes, though I don’t know whether the LGBTQ+ community would call me an ally. My blogging focuses more on purity culture and how the institution of marriage should or shouldn’t relate to sex, rather than the major LGBTQ+ debates and clobber passages. However, I do aim to make all my writing accessible to LGBTQ+ people, even when I don’t write specifically about them or for them.

Do I believe that God ordained monogamous marriage as the only place for sex?

Deep breath… no, I don’t. For several reasons.

I’m yet to lay out my theology on this, but meanwhile, if you want to know more, this post here talks about why I don’t think all extra-marital sex can be considered equivalent to what the Bible terms ‘sexual immorality’.

Meanwhile, I have a whole ‘unmeaning marriage’ page because I think the church has given too much religious meaning to marriage, when even in Jesus’s words it’s something that will not last.

I have serious misgivings about the widely accepted notion that marriage is an illustration of Christ’s relationship with the church. Yes, it sounds pretty and romantic but… I don’t think that’s what Paul was actually getting at in Ephesians 5. Plus, whilst the New Testament uses the image of a wedding and the bridegroom and bride to symbolise Jesus and the church, it doesn’t talk about marriage.

As for the Old Testament passages that I used to interpret as being about the sanctity of marriage — when I read them now, they seem to be far more about honour. Do browse through the page on virginity, honour and violence for more on this.

Overall then, I still think marriage can be a great thing, and I think sex can be fun and very precious. However, I no longer believe that ethical living requires sex to be exclusively inside marriage.

I also… OK and I know this is even more controversial, but I’m really not sure that monogamy is a necessity for sexual ethics either. I have zero time for polygamy, because I think it fosters inequality between men and women; but I’m not convinced that all forms of polyamory constitute ‘sexual promiscuity’. So, although I’m not about to promote polyamory, I think dialogue on the subject should be fair and informed. I’ve met some very interesting and ethical people who are polyamorous, and they raise questions that I think the church would do well to consider.

You might also want to read the about my feminism page as some of the topics there are also relevant.

Do I believe in hell?

I don’t think so. I definitely don’t believe in eternal conscious torment. I wrote about the Mark 9 clobber passage here.

Do I believe in substitutionary atonement?

Probably, but I reject in penal substitutionary atonement — and it’s PSA that I hear ex-evangelicals and ex-fundamentalists having real issue with. I wrote more about my issues with PSA here.

Do I believe the doctrine of the Trinity?

Yes.

And I think neglect of the Trinity is a hallmark of toxic theology (for example, see this post: when we don’t explain the Trinity, the gospel gets ugly – especially for wives).

I am also very tired of seeing the Holy Spirit erased from our understanding of the gospel and under-represented in worship.

Do I believe Jesus physically rose from the dead?

Maybe this wasn’t the most pressing question on your mind, but yes, yes I do believe that and it’s very important to me! More here. The affirmation of our physicality is a big part of body-positivity. Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, the staff in my profile picture is a symbol of resurrection.

As I said, this stuff is important to me.