This is a really good piece by Richard Beck at experimentaltheology.blogspot.com called “I Don’t Believe in Universalism”. Particularly this spot on systems in general and theological systems in particular.

“I don’t like -isms.

I don’t believe in -isms.

-Isms are ideological systems and I struggle with those. Especially metaphysical systems…

To be clear, I love thinking about and creating those theological systems, how this or that issue or tension or biblical text “fits together” in a vision of universal reconciliation. I think such system building and system testing is a part of what it means to say that that faith is seeking understanding. It also helps us compare and contrast the reasonableness and coherence of different systems.

In short, I think creating these systems, these theological -isms, is both valuable and important. But I don’t believe in these systems. The systems are tools and hypotheses. That is all.”

Systems are great as models for understanding scripture and Christianity, as well as in other disciplines, particularly the natural and social sciences. But you don’t believe in them, you use them, and their value is in how useful they are, how well they work, and if they don’t work you throw them out. Systems are one place where promiscuity is not a bad thing. You can find the rest of the piece here.

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