If you are looking for my latest thoughts on Jayber Crow discussing Chapters 27-29 please go here. Today I wanted to post an excerpt from a poem by Wendell Berry on his opinion regarding theology, as some of us at Michele’s place have been wondering how to pin down Berry’s beliefs as they seep into Jayber’s story.
Having written some pages in favor of Jesus,
I receive a solemn communication crediting me
with the possession of a “theology” by which
I acquire the strange dignity of being wrong
forever or forever right…
…If I’m a theologian
I am one to the extent that I have learned to duck
when the small, haughty doctrines fly overhead,
dropping their loads of whitewash at random
on the faces of those who look toward Heaven.
Look down, look down, and save your soul
by honester dirt, that receives with a lordly
indifference this off-fall of the air. Christmas
night and Easter morning are this soil’s only laws.
……….[Doctrinal distinctions on minor issues]
causes of eternal amusement, could we forget
how we have hated one another, how vilified
and hurt and killed one another, bloodying
the world, by means of such questions, wrongly
asked, never to be rightly answered, but asked and
wrongly answered, hour after hour, day after day,
year after year–such is my belief–in Hell.
–Wendell Berry, 2008
Berry’s thoughts in one sense echo those of Paul:
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. II Tim. 2:22-26 KJV
But it is important to draw the line carefully when discerning what is foundational to the Christian faith from what is open to differing (and controversial) interpretations. In any case believers are to be recognized by the way they love one another. Love will include speaking the truth but love will also see that this is done humbly with a view toward drawing others to the truth that will set them free.