Almost everyone has heard of the K.I.S.S. principle: “Keep it simple, stupid”. Of course, we only apply it to those things that appear to us to be more complicated than they should be.
But, have you thought about how the K.I.S.S. principle can be applied to theology? Think about it. For the most part, when it comes to God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, etc. Scripture usually uses very simple analogies and examples. Sure, there are a few difficult and complex issues, but most of the “hard parts” deal with living out the simplicity, not with complex items.
For example, instead of defining God, Scripture simply speaks of him as creator, protector, provider, king, father, etc. And what about Jesus? He is savior, master, shepherd. The Holy Spirit is helper, teacher, guide. And the church? The church (a word which itself is a simple designator for an assembly of people) is family, followers, beloved, brothers and sisters.
But, instead of attempting the hard work of living according to this simple designators, we tend to analyze, classify, define, and make complex. Of course, if we spend all of our times making things complex, then we feel like we’re doing something important. If we right books and articles and even blog posts analyzing and classifying, then perhaps we don’t actually have to live it.
In fact, the earliest formulated creeds were quite simple: “I believe in God the father, the maker of heave and earth.” But, two thousand years later, we’re not satisfied with simple statements like this. We must define exactly what it means for God to be father and creator. And, if someone doesn’t agree with our analysis or definition – even if they agree with the simple statements of Scripture – then we label them as a heretic. (It’s a good thing we don’t burn or drown heretics today, or there would only be a few people still living.)
Think about the amazing complexities that Christians have attached to the simple concept of “salvation”. It is no longer enough to recognize that Jesus is savior – that he has rescued us from our own sinfulness and eternal punishment – now we have to agree on the hows, whys, whens, etc. If someone doesn’t agree with all of our complexities, then we question their salvation.
Why can we not “Keep it simple, stupid?” Perhaps, if we learned to keep it simple, we would learn just how difficult it is to live the new life of salvation. Of course, if we ever did this – if we ever actually tried to live the simple life – then we would have to learn to listen to the Spirit instead of relying on our own complex analyses and definitions.