Thinking Out Loud

March 23, 2009

Greg Boyd and Spiritual Maturity

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:45 pm

Increasingly over the last couple of years, we’ve been endeavoring to download the weekly sermon by Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN.   You might not agree with Greg’s take on a variety of issues, including things like open theology or rapture theology, but I guarantee that Greg will make you think (and re-think) about things differently.   I am a huge fan.

For the last couple of weeks, Greg has preceded the sermon audio with a request to visit the website and take part in a survey.   They want to know a little bit about the people like me who are part of their podcast audience, or what Greg calls “podrishioners.”   (Why is spell-check not freaking out over that one?)   (Okay, now it is.)

So I took the survey — 28 or so questions — and one of the questions really blew me away:   On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest, what is your level of spiritual maturity?


I think that in the Christian pilgrimage, the more we learn, the more we know how much we need to learn.    And of course, there is the verse that says, “each one of you ought not to think more highly of himself…”   (Or herself.)  So a “5” is out of the question.   Waaaaaay too arrogant.    Humility is the order of the day.

But I’m not a “1” either.   Hey, I’m a blogger.   When I get to them Pearly Gates and Saint Peter asks me why he should let me in, I’ll say, “Back on earth, I had a Christian blog.”    [Note 1:  The “why should he let me in” question is part of Evangelism Explosion, started by the late James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; whose position as senior pastor, as of a vote just held, will be taken over by Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham; but you can read about that here.]  [Note 2:  Greg Boyd would hate the whole Saint Peter / Pearly Gates story, yet on another level, I can just hear him saying those exact words.]

So that leaves rating myself as a “2,” a “3,” or a “4.”    Because the question is self-evaluative, it gets past the other question, “How would your friends, family and acquaintances rate you?”   That’s a whole other issue though, because I know all those people who would give me low marks and they’re just a no good bunch of  “negative 1″s.   (Do you see my maturity coming through so clearly in that last remark?)

But in a way, it raises a question that is fundamental to the whole exercise.   The fact is, I know there are people who don’t think that highly of me in a spiritual sense, and in fact, they are indeed people whose own spiritual wisdom and maturity I have come to greatly question.    So much depends not only on who is doing the grading, but what benchmarks are used as the key indicators.

(If you want to do your own spiritual report card, II Peter 3:18 is a simple place to start:  Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.    Grace and knowledge.   But Colossians 1: 9-12 gives you a much more detailed performance standard.)

Anyway, without room for fractions, I chose “4.”  I am a “4” so you had better listen to what I have to say here.    I am wise.   But humble enough to not say I’m a “5.”    Okay, why is everybody laughing…

If you’re interested in downloading a sermon of a different kind altogether, you might enjoy this one from Andy Stanley, entitled “Asking Big.”   It encourages us to look for the giant-sized, macro-sized things that seem impossible, and boldly bring those requests before God.   Only $1 US to download.


  1. What an interesting post. I had never heard of that pastor and plan to check him out. Also I loved your back and forth banter about rating your spiritual maturity. Goodness, like you said, it really is relative. I am not knee high to some theological greats but I look pretty good next to a bunch of lukewarm do-gooders. And as a fellow blogger, I am pretty sure all this faithful posting must count for something! :)Seriously though, it is a ministry and I believe that God inspries me daily as I wait in anticipated awareness of what He needs me to write. Blessings on you as you do the same!

    Comment by Cynthia — March 23, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  2. I am still running the race, for now a 2 is Ok.
    The question is…..Will I finish the race, keep the faith and how? I reach for the #5 and that’s it.
    We really eat the messages from Pastor G. Boyd , no more drinking milk like a babe but digesting whole meals of aplication for daly life events.
    I pray for a cell group here in my house in Seminole, Florida.


    Comment by Anabella Hoppe — March 24, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  3. Honestly, I can’t answer that question! I surprise myself so often — more, I disappoint myself so often — that the grade would be different on any given day. I can only leave it with the Lord and continue to have an open heart for more growth. I think it’s true that we find the older we get the less we really know. Maybe that’s because it’s going to take humility to get into heaven, and the older we are, the closer we get to those ‘pearly gates.’

    My ‘theology’ has changed SO much over the years, that it’s scary! I’m certainly not as narrow-minded and dogmatic as I once was — I think that’s a good thing!

    Comment by kaybee — March 24, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

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