The Theology of the Wild West

By Wes Seelinger but changed only slightly by Mike Southerland

There are two views of life and two kinds of people. Some see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are *Settlers*. Others see life as a fantastic moving gift of adventure. They are *Pioneers*.

There are two kinds of professing Christians. Those who don't like change, who have a particular view of things and who simply stay put, are * Settler Christians*. Those who have a sense of adventure with Christ, who move into better things and develop along the way are *Pioneer Christians*.

There are then two kinds of theology. *Settler Theology* is an attempt to answer all the questions and to tie God down. *Pioneer Theology* is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life and *LIVE* The Pioneer sees theology as a wild adventure.

The Wild West, which we are accustomed to seeing in films, offers us a stage for picturing the two types of professing Christians and their theology.

The Church Building:

In Settler theology the church building is the *courthouse.* The old stone structure that dominates the town square. Its windows are small. This makes it easy to defend. Besides, no one is interested in looking outside anyway. It is dark inside. It is the Settler's symbol of stability and security.

In Pioneer theology the church building is the *covered wagon.* It is a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where the Pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love, and die. It dears marks of life and movement -- it creaks, is scarred with arrows. The covered wagon is where the action is. It moves in on the future. The old wagon isn't always comfortable, but the Pioneers couldn't care less. There's a new world to explore. And there's no room for loafers.

God:

In Settler theology God is the *Mayor.* He lounges in an overstuffed chair in the courthouse office. He keeps the blinds down. No one ever sees or knows him directly, but no one is prepared to deny that he is there. The Settlers fear the Mayor, but like to keep things running smoothly.

In Pioneer theology God is the *Trail Boss.* He is rugged and full and life. He talks straight from the shoulder and lives, eats, sleeps and fights with his people. Their well being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn't move -- the Pioneers would become fat and lazy. He often gets down in the mud with the Pioneers to help push the wagon when it gets stuck.

Jesus:

In Settler theology Jesus is the *Sheriff* sent by the Mayor to enforce the rules. He saves the Settlers by offering security and a way of life that is all mapped out for you.

In Pioneer theology Jesus is the *Scout.* He rides out ahead to find out which way the Pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail and suffers every hardship. He is even willing to give his life so that those who follow may do so safely. Through his actions and words he shows the true spirit, intent, and concern of the Trail Boss. By following the Scout, those on the trail learn what it really means to be a Pioneer.

The Holy Spirit:

In Settler theology the Holy Spirit is the *Town Philosopher* whose job is to comfort the Settlers. They come to him when they feel lonely or when life gets dull or dangerous. He gives them homespun advice and makes everything O.K.

In Pioneer theology the Holy Spirit is the *Buffalo Hunter.* He rides along with the wagon and provides fresh meat for the Pioneers, without which they would die. The Buffalo Hunter is a strange character -- sort of a wild man. The Pioneers can never tell what he will do next. He really scares the Pioneers at times. He has a big black gun that goes off like a cannon. He rides into town on Sunday to shake up the Settlers.

The Christian:

The Settler theology the Christian is the *Settler.* He fears the open unknown frontiers and prefers security. He likes to stay on good terms with the Mayor and to keep out of the Sheriff's way.

In Pioneer theology the Christian is the *Pioneer.* He is a person of risk and daring, hungry for adventure, new life and challenge. He dies with his boots on.

The Clergyman:

In Settler theology the clergyman is the *Banker.* Within his vaults are locked the valuables of the town. He is a good man to know.

In Pioneer theology THERE IS NO CLERGYMAN. Instead, there are a group of older, mature Pioneers whom the Scout appoints to watch over the rest of the Pioneers. They distribute the food the Buffalo Hunter provides. They never confuse their job with that of the Trail Boss, Scout, or Buffalo Hunter. Rather, they see themselves as seasoned Pioneers who have learned to cook. Their job is to help the other Pioneers to learn to perform their jobs in the camp.

Sin:

In Settler theology sin is breaking one of the town's rules.

In Pioneer theology sin is wanting to turn back and leave the Trail Boss, the Scout, and the Buffalo Hunter.

Salvation:

In Settler theology salvation is living close to home, hanging around the courthouse.

In Pioneer theology salvation trusting the Trail Boss and following the Scout, while living on the meat provided by the Buffalo Hunter.

Which would you rather be a Settler or a Pioneer? Are you ready to leave town and join the Wagon Trail?

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When you begin your journey as a Pioneer, having the heart for the Wagon Trail, and try to live the life of a Settler one can seem to painfully suffocate. There is nothing like the real adventure of life on the Wagon Trail!!! Yeee Haw!!!!! ;)


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