Welcome, dear guest, to Theology Cake! My meager attempt to share some small wisdom or insight and my opportunity to learn and to discuss with you our love for God and cake.
I have the privilege and challenge of raising two young humans with my favorite person, that is my husband. While I “woman” the fort at home, my husband bravely marches to the trenches of an alternative school where he helps to provide counseling and therapy to high school students. On the weekends, and all the other days of the week, my husband serves as the Youth Pastor and Young Adults Pastor at our church. At times I am given an opportunity to serve through teaching. At other times I sit quietly in the pew. And still other times I’m wrangling my toddler in the pew. I love what I do, and I do him that I love.
When I’m not enjoying the married life, I find time to enjoy cake! Cake is best enjoyed with a well brewed cup of single-origin coffee served in its robust, unadulterated beauty in a heavy mug with a substantial handle easily gripped with my tiny, woman hand. Better yet, cake and coffee are enjoyed while watching a marathon of Monty Python and the Flying Circus. And better-er yet, enjoying all three while cuddled up in a flannel blanket with my bearded husband in a warm cabin a top a snow-covered mountain with access to running water and electricity. Because you can’t watch comedy television without any electricity.
I probably sound like a secular hipster mom to you. You are wrong. I am a spiritual hipster (not really a hipster) mom with no formal theological teaching except two brief semesters in college. I studied psychology and Spanish. But because of my desire to learn the deep things of God, I audited a junior level Systematic Theology class. My professor “loved” having a psych student in his classroom. I attempted to read Jensen and Bart with the best of them. Listened to lectures and discussions [read debates with the professor] that I didn’t dare attempt to join because I read books written by Bevere and Bell and not the Church Fathers. I wrote papers and made a ghastly mess of the Chicago writing style, because who ever thought footnotes were helpful?¹ I loved all of it! It was an introduction to the world of Biblical academia and Christian doctrine.
My theology, I discovered, is like a cake baked by a well-meaning amateur. I watch baking competitions on TV, spend hours on my favorite baking and cooking YouTube channels. I buy fancy baking equipment so I feel like I know what I’m doing. Expert bakers graduated from culinary schools, were mentored by household names, and host their own baking program or have a sponsored blog. I follow recipes and save them on my Pinterest board. Sometimes I peruse one of my cookbooks or (gasp) bake from a box. Experts are experimenting and testing, writing their own recipes and improving on their grandmother’s pound cake. My baked cookies, cakes, and pies are never uniform, always wibbly-wobbly, hardly ever risen correctly, and smeared instead of iced. Expert baked goods are dainty and enticing and even come out of the oven photo filtered with the light balanced and plated beside a cappuccino, the foam artfully poured on top. But by some magical favor of the baking faery, my cake more often than not still tastes good!
Theological discussions I participate in don’t include proving my expert sources, debating the accuracy of a metaphor, or comparing and contrasting the differing views of some finer attribute of God. Conversations I’m a part of don’t occur in the lecture hall of a university, the smoky room of a pub, or the pulpit of a cathedral. When I take part in a discussion about God it’s with my husband in our room after the children have been put to bed, or with close friends around a dining table covered with cold left overs, and other times in a small church hall with metal, fold-out chairs. But by the grace of God and as led by His Spirit’s inspiration and revelation, more often than not, it still tastes good!
Every person is a theologian, whether they have the degree, the minister’s license, or a preponderous library in their office. They are a theologian whether they are a follower of Christ, a Buddhist monk, a woman in a hijab, a man with curls falling from the sides of his hat, or a tattooed intellectual who claims there is no God. At some point in our life, our soul is awakened to God and we make some decision concerning our opinion of Him. God becomes a study to us. We learn about Him from our parents, pastors, the media and our experiences. We discover and develop what we make of Him. Either we receive Him or we reject Him. But when we have encountered Him truly, we understand it is not what we make of Him, but what He is making out of us: an image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).
So I’m a spiritual hipster (not really a hipster) mom whose theology is like cake.
1 Apparently theologians think they are helpful.