“If you’ve spent any time with sheep, you know that they’re stupid. They’re just dumb! They’ve gotta’ be chased around by dogs, because they don’t even have the brains to make their way home.“
It’s the basic gist of many sheep sermons, and somehow the pastor ends up tying it all back to how the shepherd cares for his stupid flock. But sheep are actually surprisingly intelligent– They have amazing memory and recognition, build friendships, team together and support each other in fights, and even feel sad when their friends die. There is a reason why God chose to represent His son as a Lamb throughout the story of the Bible, and there’s a reason why He chose to represent His people as sheep again, and again.
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.'” –John 21:15–17
So What is Gentle Theology?
Gentle theology is not theology lite. It does not exist to rob God of His justice, or somehow water down theology to make it more palatable. It is simply a call to search for the heart of God, and walk in the fruits of the spirit.
Gentle theology is not wimpy– Upon seeing Aslan interact with the children in the Chronicles of Narnia, I would call him gentle, but I wouldn’t dare to call him wimpy.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Gentle theology is a push back against every time that someone has been attacked by the overly zealous bearers of truth. It is a rebuttal to the cage-stage calvinist, who we may find ourselves in agreement with, but recognize lacking in grace.
Still, it is more simply that call to search for the heart of God. Yes, God is gentle, and his gentleness does not mean that He is not holy and just:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23
“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” -1 Timothy 6:11
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with child.” -Isaiah 40:11
“Let your gentleness be evident to all [why gentleness, rather than something else?]. The Lord is near.” -Phil. 4:5
What does this mean practically? It means loving people, not lashing out, taking time to listen, breaking bread with those we disagree with, lots of long talks, sometimes with a pipe, sometimes with a brew, but always with a heart for loving those around us.
This project is still growing– at some point, it may encompass a podcast, more articles, more stories, etc. At the moment it exists to bring gentle theology to you, friend.