How Theologically Opinionated Are You?

The other day, I asked myself the following question: does the devil always need an advocate?

And my immediate answer was, “Yes, yes he does, and it needs to be me.”

Then I actually, you know, thought about it. And I realized once again that I tend toward being an arrogant show-off.

theology

Personal opinion? God finds theologically accurate things spoken out of pride to be more offensive than well-meaning people misinterpreting a passage. I need to remember that my attitude, not just my words, matters.

Serious stuff aside, I want to know how many people out there have that same urge to rush to the devil’s aid in any argument, to make everyone define their terms, to get into a heated “discussion” at nearly every Bible study. So, I bring you…

How Theologically Opinionated Are You?

An Incredibly Subjective Quiz

How important to you is the translation of the Bible you use?

  1. Um…the only time translations really matter is when you’re going around in a group and each reading a verse and people get confused because the person in front of them has a different translation.
  2. I like the one I use, but I sometimes switch it up with other ones. Not a big deal.
  3. There are reasons I’ve chosen the one I did, and I’d be able to make a case for it, but it’s not like there’s only one good translation.
  4. How much time do you have for me to go into why some translations are objectively better than others? And please don’t even get me started on The Message.

When you disagree with someone about how a Bible passage should be interpreted, an impartial observer might call your response to them…

  1. The Unconvinced Look of Mild Disagreement
  2. The Gentle Reminder That There Are Other Opinions
  3. The Good-Natured Debate-Starting Gauntlet
  4. The Mighty Exegetical Flyswatter of Truth

The last time you got into a conversation on a tricky theological topic you…

  1. Didn’t. Or listened to other people argue with glazed eyes.
  2. Enjoyed hearing others’ perspectives, but tried to end it with everyone admitting that the issue really wasn’t that important and it’s okay to disagree.
  3. Got a little frustrated when people didn’t listen or misrepresented some of what you said, but overall wished it would have gone on longer.
  4. Lost friends. Possibly more than when you played Risk and conquered the world, grinding everyone else into the dust (actually, there were several similarities between the two situations…).
Where we learn to never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Where we learn to never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Someone in your small group shared their life verse and how it was important to them, but you wonder if the meaning they get out of it is what the passage really means. You find yourself…

  1. Feeling dumb that you don’t really have a life verse—is this some Christian thing that everyone is expected to have?
  2. Wanting to ask them more about their personal story later.
  3. Wincing a little because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, but that interpretation
  4. Speaking up and asking what the context of the passage is and if it really means what they think it means.

In a typical Bible study, how often do you use terms with four syllables or more?

  1. Never. People should just say what they mean instead of showing off their fancy vocabularies.
  2. Well, a few times. Most of them are books of the Bible, though.
  3. Sometimes. I try to remember to define them if I can tell people don’t know what I’m talking about.
  4. Well, let’s see…propitiation, exegetically, theophany, egalitarianism, predestination, hermeneutics, anti-dispensationalism….
Bonus if you carry one of these around to hand to people who look confused.

Bonus if you carry one of these around to hand to people who look confused.

When did you last read a theology or Christian living book, and what did you think of it?

  1. For a Bible study once, but it was required, and I mostly skimmed it. We had some good discussions because of it, so that’s cool.
  2. When that bestseller by that famous pastor came out—he did a great job of illustrating some important ideas.
  3. I usually read several a year, and it’s a great way for me to think about important issues in the faith.
  4. Last week. And while I agreed with the general premise of what the author was saying, there were several specific points where I think she was taking what she wanted to believe and making the Bible agree with that.

Your debate style could be compared most accurately to…

  1. A pickup truck. Nothing fancy, but it gets you where you need to go.
  2. A medical helicopter. Sometimes I fly up into the abstract, but only if it’s clear it will help people.
  3. A racehorse. I love the fun of a good mental challenge…and, let’s be honest, I’m a fan of winning.
  4. A train. I’m going pretty quickly in one direction, and if you can’t keep up, I’m gonna run you down.

Turns out, you were wrong about something. How hard is it for you to admit that to the other person?

  1. No big deal. I never had a really strong opinion in the first place, and the other person knew that.
  2. Not very. I respect my friend, and am always open to changing my mind when I hear a new perspective.
  3. Pretty difficult. It takes a lot of convincing for me to admit I’m wrong, and I usually have to respect the person a lot to tell them.
  4. Hardest. Thing. Ever. It might take me years to change something I have a strong opinion about, and even then I’d rather not admit to someone that they were right and I was wrong.

Give yourself 1 point per 1, 4 points per 2, 7 points per 3, and 10 points per 4. Then tally them up. (Yes, I realize it’s confusing to assign numbers to numbers, but WordPress reformatted my ABCs into 123s and it’s easier for me to make you do more work than for me to figure out how to fix it.)

Calvin

8-18: Theological Pacifist

Maybe you just don’t care about all of those nitpicking abstract things. Or maybe you just like to avoid conflict. Whatever the case, if people are being opinionated and obnoxious, you’re probably not among them.

19-40: Theological Peacemaker

Always the one to go for the practical above the picky, you help balance out the arguers. On most things, you probably have an opinion, just not one you’d be willing to fight to the death for.

41-60: Theological Thinker

You may not start debates, but you’re fine with joining them, and you like to know why you believe what you do. Sometimes you might get a little intense, but you try not to put the stakes too high in discussions of hard topics.

61-80: Theological Zealot

Predestination? Hell? Nature of God? Gender Roles? BRING IT ON. You think these things matter and that everyone should care as much about them as you do. Sometimes you intimidate people and forget to be gracious. But these conversations are battles, and you must win.

I will stand up and own my score of 68, putting me in Zealot territory. But I’m working on it, guys. So, where did you fall on the scale?

Or just, you know, bring up something really controversial in the comment section and see how everyone reacts.

24 comments

  1. Used to be a 90 on your quiz scale. Age has mellowed me a bit, I think, to a 56 or so – nearly equal to my years. Hope I don’t slip any farther down the slope of theological indifference.

      1. Oh, I’m still pretty much convinced of my own “rightness” — at least in the heat of theological (or other) battle. I’m just don’t care as much as I used to whether others recognize that mine is the correct understanding of an issue. Is there such a thing as latent hubris?

  2. First off, I don’t like arguments…usually neither side convincingly wins. I got 41. But in actual debate on tough theological issues, I must admit to being drawn deeper into the 41-60 camp, and on occasion, I’m sure I’ve been the perfect Zealot! This reveals a disturbing personal scenario…what I THINK my attitude is and what my REAL approach is to theological discussion. Thanks for this eye-opener!

    1. Thanks, Grandpa. I think all of us can think of times when we haven’t been very gracious…maybe that one certain issue or one certain person who gets us into Zealot territory.

    1. Well, I skewed the Zealot answers a little because exaggeration is funnier…and was even being hard on myself to score in that category. But I think we all know when we’re being Zealot-y…

  3. 44. 🙂 i’m not too surprised. i like thinking and debating, but i don’t like it when people get really heated over something. good quiz, amy!!

    1. The “heated” part is a good distinction. I always have a hard time knowing if people are just being passionate about a topic or if they’re really going to walk away angry. There’s a big difference, for sure.

  4. 56. It honestly could probably be higher. For me, it depends on who I’m with. As a Bible major, I do a LOT of theological reading and know a lot of big words. But I try to be smart about my audience. With some of my fellow Bible/Christian Ed majors, it’s all theology all the time. But around others who have absolutely no idea what I mean by theophany, I try and chill out a bit. There’s nothing wrong with a little intellectual empathy. Great post, Amy!

    1. YES. Thanks for that thought, Olivia. The vocab especially is all about the audience. Sometimes I forget that group discussion is about what’s best for the group and not a platform for me to show off how smart I am.

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