I had breakfast the other day with a theological academic on spiritual formation and found out they have an official theology for what he said I like to teach all the time. It’s called the Theology of Weakness. Now a quick online research showed that this was not an official theology canonized somewhere in the Book of Theologies that anyone would have to go through in any major seminary training. It’s a way a few spiritual leaders have explained how pain, struggle and suffering fits into our growth. As far as I can tell, no one’s written the book on The Theology of Weakness, but there are a few seminars on how to deal with tough times.
I’m glad it’s not official, because this is not what I’m talking about. This says that when things get tough, or for some of us who are destined to be struggling all our lives with some particular sin issue or addiction (Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”), well there is a way to fit this into one’s theological life picture. When things get really difficult we can turn to this “theology” and receive comfort until things get better again and we are good strong Christians like we’re all supposed to be.
That’s not what I’m saying. Not even close.
I’m saying that our weakness — our brokenness — is THE ONLY WAY WE WILL EVER BE USED BY GOD. It’s not a theology for the bad times; it’s a theology for all times. It’s not that there is hope when things go wrong, or when bad things happen to good people, or there is light at the end of the tunnel. This teaches that things are always going wrong, that we are bad people who have had an incredibly good thing happen to us, and that no one needs to care about the light at the end of the tunnel when there is light right here in my heart when all around me is darkness. That’s what I’m talking about. So I’m going to disagree with my academic friend. I am not a champion of the theology of weakness, I am a champion of the fact that we are all weak all the time; we are all losers, we are all broken, we are all in pain, we are all sinners, we are all inadequate, we are all vulnerable, and we are finding the power of God in our lives in the middle of all these things, and realizing that this is the only way we can find it. This is where it exists.
It’s not a theology of weakness; it’s a theology for the weak, and there is no corresponding theology for the strong. It’s the only theology there is. It’s not “Blessed are the poor because they are going to be rich some day,” it’s “Blessed are the poor because they are the only ones who get it.”
Does this sound like the same thing? It’s two entirely different things. One has an assumption of “strength some day” driving it, the other has an embracing of “weakness every day” which makes it possible.
It’s not a theology of weakness, it’s a celebration of weakness when we discover that our weakness IS our strength. And there is no other way.
Is anyone getting this? Is this old hat to everyone? Am I the last one to find out? Why do I feel like I’m shouting at a wall. Talk to me, people! Talk to me!