And now for something completely different.

Many times over the years, I’ve been amazed at how people belittle theology and theologians. At times, they are treated with the kind of contempt usually reserved for Dastardly Pastors.

Theology occurs when ANYONE opens their mouth and an opinion about God falls out. Theology is always happening, if God is the topic.

But let’s be honest: there are people who make theology really unpleasant. Not because theology is inherently unpleasant. Just them.

With that in mind, I am now going to attempt a blog post about theology that combines the dubious springboards of Monty Python’s Fish-Slapping Dance and Bill Engvall’s Here’s Your Sign. (Please watch the videos, or else nothing that follows will seem wondrous — that’s a Charles Dickens quote. Part of it, anyway.)

Based on the wisdom found in these videos, perhaps we could establish a bit of a baseline for people who like to flaunt their theological understanding even when the situation doesn’t call for a full PhD download. We could then say something like “here’s your theo-sign”, and then smack them – in Christian love, of course – with a large, smelly, dead fish.

We’ve all met people who brandish their theological degrees like a bully billy club. You know the type:

  • they have an arsenal of handy sound-byte quotes that begin with “Barth/Calvin/Bonhoeffer says…”
  • they shut down the conversation if you aren’t proficient in the original languages of Hebrew & Greek (and by ‘Greek’, they mean koine, you gibbering plebian)
  • any simple faith-question generates a deluge of buzzwords about genre, authorial intent, and interpretive method that makes the questioner sorry they asked
  • by the end of any discussion, the topic might remain as muddy as ever, but their Yoda-like expertise will be firmly established

I agree with Bill Engvall: if these people wore a sign, you would simply avoid engaging them, whether in person or online. Why waste your time and risk losing some of your sanctification? Pearls before swine, as it were (Matthew 7:6)

But they’re Christians. So, like it or not, they’re part of our family. Dang.

They need to be discipled, just like the rest of us. Now it’s getting complicated.

A good, wet slap in the face with a smelly fish might be the only thing that gets through to them, but it’s hard to imagine that was what Jesus meant when He said to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)

I guess the onus is on us. Love them, have grace for them, pray for them.

Handing them a sign and a solid fish-slap would be much easier, and probably more fun (giving in to our baser impulses usually is), but it probably won’t qualify as the most spiritually mature, Christ-like response we could come up with.

Still, I’m curious (speaking hypothetically, of course): which fish would make the most gratifying sound? I’m leaning towards carp.

ps. That line about ‘losing some of your sanctification’? Just a joke. Put down your lexicons; I was only kidding.