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Monday, April 10, 2006

Church Sign Theology

Around 11pm last night, I'm driving through a sleepy little town on my way home. As I pass an old church sitting right up by the street, I notice they have the classic brick church sign with interchangable messages encased inside of glass. Typically, I shudder at the amazing "cheese factor" produced by the quaint little sayings. Yet, sometimes the messages reveal a church's perspective. Last night, the sign said:

God is crazy about you.

The sign bothered me for the following reasons:

Crazy?--My dictionary defined crazy in five ways: 1) mentally deranged. 2) extremely annoyed or angry. 3) foolish. 4) extremely enthusiastic. 5) appearing absurdly out of place or in an unlikely position.

Now, I've already been rebuked about being too nitpicky (when I shared this with someone else), and I know "crazy about" can be a euphemism for "loves a lot." However, is God's love best expressed by using a phrase that is tainted with the concept of lost mental capacity? Is God really so in love with me that it drives Him to act outside of His natural character? Did God lay aside wisdom, logic and reason because of His great love for me? Or, as I Corinthians 1 would suggest, is His great wisdom and logic expressed in His work on the cross to provide my righteousness?

Crazy about You--Again, when the cart goes before the horse (love before righteousness and justice), a person could drive by that church and believe they are in good standing with God becaue He's crazy about them. What need is there to come to the cross? A person easily assumes that God will simply overlook their sin because He loves them so much. Again, they don't see the glory of His love because they don't realize how deeply they've violated God yet He would be willing to suffer death to buy them back (Romans 5:6-8).

Desperate God? Quite honestly, one of the most annoying things about mainline American christianity is the portrayal of God desperately wanting someone to love. The picture gets painted that God had all this love within Him, yet needed to create humanity so His love could have an object. In reality, this is idolatry. I become an object God needs (thus replacing the All-Sufficient One, with the "He-needs-me-One"). God has been able to express His love within the Trinity since before creation. This does not diminish the incredible love God does have for us (for He was willing to lay down His life) but it's important that we sever that immense love from any views of desperation (as we as humans may have accompanied with out feelings of love).

God's Word, or words of God--I get queasy whenever we put words into God's mouth. We've all seen the billboards that say, "Hey, why don't you come over to my house before the game"--God." Cute idea. Very uncomfortable with the practice. Is that really what God would say? Do we have anyway of knowing that? Is that comment validated by Scripture somehow? Frankly, as I read the gospels, Jesus responded in a surprising way enough times that I have come to see I would be horrible at trying to assume the words He would speak in a certain situation. (That's why I am personally uneasy with the whole, "What would Jesus say to Bart Simpson/Dan Brown/Tiger Woods" type sermon series.) There is a fine line between preaching the Word clearly with relevant application (as based from the original meaning of the text...or at least a striving for that purpose) and us believing we have to make the Word relevant from our own manipulation. I haven't mastered where that line is, or how we always spot it, but I do believe when we've crossed it, it is a sign that we question the sufficiency of Scripture.

Because I can't figure all of that out, I'm thankful our sign simply says, "Grace" and I don't have to think of what sayings to put on it.


  • At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Danny, You think too much!!!! Just let the sign be the sign!!!! :) You know I love ya!!! lg

  • At 7:03 PM, Blogger finch said…

    yes, but your thoughts are right.

    oh, i have a new site up:

  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I agree with anonymous. I also "love ya."

  • At 1:43 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Danny, I am crazy about you.

  • At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    good one, gary! :) lg

  • At 8:04 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    since your character does not require you to pour out wrath on sin...

    and since i don't consider seeing your name juxtaposed with insanity that big a stretch ;)

    i'll say thanks for the compliment.

    crazy about you too!

  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    see, this is what us emergents are looking for. Just affirm me and love me! =)


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