So I’ve been “reading” a book, and by reading I mean skimming to get to one or two specific parts, and it’s not my favorite. There’s the religious language and just comes from a place that’s kind of unappealing to me (for the most part, not completely). And it’s not that those things are bad, it’s just not my cup of tea. A lot of people would really enjoy it. Anyway, they did make an argument that I found really interesting.
They are reflecting upon some of the formulations of Christian doctrine, specifically whether Christ was in essence the same as God or in substance the same as God. While they’re doing this they argue that the debate wasn’t really about doctrine. Underneath the doctrine question was really a quest for power. You have two factions levying for power. Who will history deem right? Who will win and be able to lead this thing? The doctrine question was the symbol of this power struggle. Whoever won this battle won the war.
Now, this may be an oversimplification, and I’m sure each side had a lot invested theologically. But, I also know that usually things are rarely about what they seem to be on the surface. This is always about that. So, it makes me wonder if it’s the same today. Are the factions within the Jesus faith really about the differences in doctrine, or are they really about power and the future? We look on these ancient debates and go, who cares, that’s stupid to argue about, why are they even concerned about this? And I wonder if people will say the same about the “big” debates we have now. “Free will or predestination, that was stupid why were they arguing about that? Oh that was really about these different sides levying for power or self-justification, or fear that they might be wrong.”