Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peter Enns on Renovating Your Theological House

Many of us inherit our beliefs or pick them up on the way from those we meet. We get them from our parents, our pastor, the people we sit with in Sunday school and the stuff we watch on TV. We might even get them from the Bible. But we all get them from some place. And for a while, we are satisfied with them and don't question them.

Then something happens. We meet someone who thinks differently than us. We notice something in the Bible we hadn't seen before. We experience a crisis that challenges much of what we held dear. For some, the process of studying theology in a university or seminary causes a complete rethink of most if not everything we thought we knew.

If we decide not to stick our heads in the sand. If we don't runaway screaming or simply give up. Then we have some "renovating" to do.

The process of renovating a house is a good metaphor for what it is like renovating our theological house. Many homeowners will, at some point, attempt a small weekend project. Often, its not too long before that bit of DIY turns into a nightmare. I once ended up committed to remodeling an entire bathroom when the drain I was fixing broke off in the wall. Similar thing happened when trying to do little "projects" in my theological house. A busted drain or an unexpected crack led me down paths I had never expected.

The renovation metaphor is not my own. Peter Enns has a post today that extends it much farther than I did. And if you read his post with your theological house in mind it is amazing how well the metaphor works. Here is one part that particularly struck me.

Not everyone renovates their house, no matter how much it’s needed.
Some don’t like anything any builders have to say, and so they argue with them. They actually like arguing. They email them just so they can call the builders names and tell them how dumb they are.
Others feel it’s all a builders’ conspiracy and it’s their responsibility to tell all their neighbors that they shouldn’t have their houses renovated either, no matter what these lying builders say. They feel they know better than everyone else, and they get quite in your face about it if you disagree.
Then there are some who hire builders to begin work, but when walls start getting knocked down they become fearful and fire the builders mid-task. They would rather nail up some plywood panelling to cover up the holes than finish the job.

Please do take some time to read Pete's post. I think you will discover that just as we need to renovate the homes we live in we also need to renovate the homes where our beliefs live.


  1. Thanks, John! This reminds me of a gem from Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis):

    “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

    1. Krista,

      Thanks. I am not sure if I had read that before or forgot it, but it is quire appropriate.


    2. It is one of my favorite quotes of his.