Tension – by Gerald L. Borchert

In Tension: Empowering Christian Thought and Life, author Gerald L. Borchert wrestles with the many ways in which Christians experience tension both in the church and in real life. The very nature of choice is a source of tension, and all humans are confronted daily with choices that can have significant impacts on themselves and those around them. Borchert examines what it means to live with freedom and to engage with our choices in a meaningful way.

Pulling from personal experience, Borchert recalls how, as a young child, he first encountered tension in the ongoing debate over the timing of creation and the dichotomy of how science and Bible handle the origin of the universe.

“Our task as humans,” he writes, “is to recognize what is science and what it is not. The task likewise is to recognize what the Bible claims to be hard truth or reality and what it does not. Our further task, therefore, is to recognize what is true biblical exegesis (interpretation) and what is merely an assumption concerning statements in Scripture. Our task is to work at understanding what statements are rooted in observable fact and what are theological or scientific reflections. In this pursuit of understanding, it is not a question of truth but the kind of truth that is present in an issue.”

Borchert continues to reflect on a number of areas inherent with tension: Christian salvation; our personal mindset; the ancient understanding of “time”; the nature of human failure and suffering; and what it means to be Christ-like.

“I trust these and other preliminary reflections will set your thoughts into high gear. Hopefully they will stir your mind and challenge you to reflect more on the tensions and polarities that may be present in your theologies and the way you approach life. Some of these tensions may be easily discernible, while others may not be so evident in your thinking. Wherever you are on the spectrum, I suggest that there is a need to reconsider the issues concerning tension as we look to the challenges of the future.”

Borchert’s goal is to encourage the reader to think about tension as an instructive force that makes us look at both sides of an issue and learn to deal with the uncomfortable feeling that our current perspective might by in need of updating.

“I think we need repeatedly to ask: Is our theology ready to deal better with old tensions and accept the fact that new tensions loom in the future? Perhaps, seeing the incredible power that is present in dealing more effectively with both sides of tensions may be more productive. Dynamic power may be present if we are a people who are willing to accept and creatively integrate such tensions into new combinations. Will we be among the new explorers of Christianity?”

Gerald L. Borchert

Author-editor, Gerald L. Borchert, Emeritus Professor and Thesis Director at the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies, holds an honors Ph.D. from Princeton and is an elected member of Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas. A prolific writer, former lawyer, pastor, and television teacher, he has served as dean of two theological seminaries and as chair of the Commission on Interchurch Relations for the Baptist World Alliance; has directed more than fifty seminars to the Bible lands; and is on the translation team of the New Living Translation. He and his wife, Doris, a professor of Christian education, have taught in many institutions around the world.

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