All the back-to-school stuff has been shoved to the clearance corner and the shelves are filling with fall leaves, pumpkins, and all things Halloween. I for one am glad to see it. I have been looking forward to September since the middle of June! It was a long, dry, hot summer here in Texas.
To say we have a “fall season” in the Lone Star State is a misnomer. We wear sandals to the grocery store until Thanksgiving. Fall in Texas means it dips into the seventies at night. The mosquitos have grown to the size of small birds and the highs are in the “low” nineties. But, “It’s fall, y’all,” and we are glad. We will just sip our pumpkin spice lattes in our flip-flops and decorate our homes to look like Vermont.
Fall in Texas means we “fake it till God makes it.” Our actual fall is usually a week or two around Thanksgiving—which means we will be raking the leaves that obscure our Christmas decorations!
Pumpkin Spice is nice
Still, we are a culture that loves to celebrate whatever we can. If we are able to add pumpkin spice to something, we will. We have pumpkin spice yogurt, coffees, donuts, candles, Oreos, creamer, noodles, cream cheese, ice cream and yes, it had to be—we can now purchase pumpkin spice Poo~Pourri. (I could make a funny joke here, but I will err on the side of decorum.)
Does everything need a pumpkin-pie spice version to make it more sellable? That thought led me to this blog post topic.
Have we created a “Pumpkin Spice theology” for this time of year too?
What is Pumpkin Spice theology?
What do we add to our theology to make it more fun, more tempting, more contemporary or current? What programs are churches producing to hopefully attract people back to the pews after the summer months? Are we spending more time trying to look relevant, or are we working to be “biblically relevant”?
A lot of theology is like the fall in Texas. It is more often “created” than true. For example: “A Welcoming Church” is now the way to advertise that “we don’t preach against homosexuality.”
The problem with that position is no one in the Bible accepted that as good theology. Paul called it a “perversion” in Romans 1:27. Leviticus 18:22 calls homosexuality “detestable.” Jesus was careful to define the biblically acceptable sexual relationship in Mark 10:6–9.
A lot of people are trying to add other sexual relationships to their theology, but it is like adding the smell of pumpkin spice Poo~Pourri to the toilet bowl. Let’s face it: what you have is still, well . . . you know. (So much for decorum!)
We shouldn’t become so open-minded that we make it easy for Satan to drop in his lies.
Christians have been asked to keep their beliefs quiet, not imposing them on others. You might like a pumpkin spice donut, but someone else may want the plain glazed, or the one with sprinkles. Evangelism has been called “imposing” our beliefs on others.
Yet, Jesus told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
We can’t add Pumpkin Spice to the Great Commission
- Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” There is not a nation or a group of people that does not need to receive salvation in Christ.
- Jesus said to “baptize them” in the name of the Triune Deity. Father, Son, and Spirit are all the character of Jehovah God.
- Jesus said to teach people “all that I have commanded you.” We don’t get to adapt our theology or flavor it to the season we find ourselves and our culture in. The times have changed, but the Great Commission and the entire truth of Scripture have not.
- Finally, it doesn’t matter what season of history we have been born into, the same Jesus who was with the apostles is the person of Christ today. Jesus is unchanging with the times, and that will be true to “the end of the age.”
We have not been given permission to add a different “flavor” to God’s word simply because the culture seems to call for that. Jesus isn’t seasonal. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Pumpkin Spice theology is like the fall in Texas
The fall season will eventually come to Texas, but we “add” it to our thinking before God adds it to our days. Pumpkin Spice theology is a lot like that. We want to add things to our theology today that Scripture hasn’t promised us yet.
There will be a time of no more tears, no more illness, and no more wars. But that is a promise for heaven.
There will be a time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10). That is happening in heaven today and will happen on earth when Jesus returns.
Jesus can do miracles of healing, but often that miracle is a person’s eternal healing. We pray for healing but often that means praying them to heaven. In last week’s blog post on praying for others, I wrote about two young men facing cancer. This week they have both been sent home without medical hope.
We all wish we had some earthly hope to add to their lives.
But their only promises of hope, apart from a miracle, are heavenly.
Good theology transcends the “seasons” of time
I love the changing seasons we experience on earth. One of the great truths of our earthly lives is that those who are “in Christ” are daily moving forward to the hope of heaven. I just think we need to be careful not to add a false flavor to our theology.
Cream cheese, ice cream, donuts, and coffee don’t taste like pumpkin spice unless we add it. It might seem better at the time, but it won’t be long before everyone is wanting to taste the peppermint added for Christmas. It is our nature to change what is natural. It is not God’s nature to change.
God is eternally consistent in his word, in his character, and in his promises. We shouldn’t think we need to “flavor” our theology to make it more appealing. Biblical truth is what people need.
In November, Texans can say, “It’s fall, y’all.” The fact we put pumpkins out doesn’t change the fact that it is still warm enough for flip-flops! Churches can say they are welcoming, but what is it they are welcoming people to? If it isn’t the truth of God, it isn’t the theology we were told to teach.
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32). We are to “go” and make disciples of all nations. It is essential that we “abide in” or follow the words of Christ found in Scripture.
If I could add a little flavor to that truth, I would probably try, but I just can’t. It is the pure, natural word of the only true God that helps. People need to hear it in the purest form.
Pumpkin Spice theology seems nice, but it is like the fall in Texas. It isn’t real.
Let’s stick with the truth because that provides the real freedom in Christ people need.