You can find it here.
Please feel free to leave comments there… which is why I am turning the comments off on this post…
See you in cyberspace, my peeps.
You can find it here.
Please feel free to leave comments there… which is why I am turning the comments off on this post…
See you in cyberspace, my peeps.
I like Chris, I do, but his latest rant? How.dare.he.
Here is my video response:
First, Chris, it wasn’t just underprivileged youth. It was youth locked up in prison… it was a Muslim… and worse, a Muslim girl.
Chris interprets the Pope’s words as “atheists, when they do good, are just as redeemed as Christians.” This comports with the title of his post, “Atheists are just as redeemed by good works as Christians.” He goes on to repeat this about 1:05.
If they anger the protestants, Chris, it’s because the protestants are still listening to Martin Luther and not what Pope Francis actually said.
Chris is correct, tho, that Christians do not have the monopoly on doing good. This, I think, is more central to the Pope’s words than what has been said so far.
Here, this is the post I referenced in my video.
These are the words of Pope Francis.
In my essay in From Fear to Faith, I whimsically start at the beginning, with Jesus. I also mention our denial of the validity of Tradition, supposing there was a direct link, unchanged, between us and the Apostles. We sat, in our building, listening to a pastor, while reading the King James version, and believed Tradition did not touch or shape us. This served many reasons, not the least of which to force us to accept the pastor as the only legitimate, and thus unquestionable, authority.
Can we have a truly tradition-free Christianity? The word Christianity is itself a tradition, and one from outside the Church (Acts 11.26; note, it is a passive form of the verb). There is another tradition, The Church. While we see this somewhat develop in Matthew and then Acts — the idea of a singular Church a part from Judaism is something not likely foreseen in the New Testament. I can say that because even into the 4th century, Jews and Christians still celebrated together.
But, let’s start with the Tradition most of us hold in our hands every Sunday morning — The Bible. The Scriptures mentioned in the New Testament were holy writings and not a set canon. As I have argued before, there was some development of a set of writings by the time of 2nd Peter (mid-1st century), but this is Tradition. There is nothing in Scripture laying out what books are to be included and what books are to be excluded. The Canon of Scripture is a Tradition with many streams. For instance, Catholics have their books, the Orthodox a few more, and the Copts and Armenians lots more. If we move past Canonical books, we then need to examine the Canonical Text. Are we Western? Do we use the Byzantine? Or, are we like others and desire a critical text free of obviously unoriginal entires (such as the last twelves verses in Mark)? Our traditions of books and texts are Tradition, whether we like it or not. I prefer a critical text for study; however, for Tradition’s sake, I prefer my canonical texts to include the last twelve verses or Mark as well as John 8.
What about our doctrines? Do they not come from Scripture? Doctrines do have a genesis in Scripture, or rather, they must, but there are rarely any doctrines enshrined in the Holy Writ. The Trinity is a development, as are atonement theories. Can we really name one doctrine that is not developed by Tradition? Even Young Earth Creationism is a doctrine contrived by twisting Scripture until it screams. As a former modalist, we may even allow that modalism is itself a contrived doctrine, devoid of Trinitarian sensibilities and requiring the Father to have died on the Cross. Further, while there are verses proof-texted to mean Jesus is the Father, there are verses where Jesus is subordinate to the Father. The development of the Trinity saved Christianity from descending into the realms of a mere philosophy. These are Traditions.
Our leadership is generally a tradition. The role of the pastor in most Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches is not Scriptural. The one time we see one man sitting above all others is in 3 John, to which the Elder responds rather critically. In Scripture, we do not have a strong governance, but we do see one begin to develop with Deutero-Paul (Ephesians). When Ignatius begins to write, followed by Cyprian, the structure of the Church had become more rigid. Although based in Scripture, there was barely anything to give the Bishops the power they had. And of course, there is the whole Petrine Primacy issue. But, these are traditions. In the Reformation, when the leadership was restructured, they believed they were reaching back to hollowed antiquity to follow a better tradition. Now, we simply follow the tradition handed down to us because we think it is Scriptural. Rather, it is Tradition, just ours and not theirs (i.e., Catholic).
My point is this: There is no such thing as a tradition-free Christianity. Oddly enough, I began to discover this when I started to study the Trinity. I felt my modalism pushed out by the likes of Tertullian and Athenagoras. When I began to read Irenaeus, I was pushed to the wall of accepting Apostolic Succession. By the time I got to the Fourth Century, I was hopelessly holding on to a feeble attempt at denying what would soon become a reality — if we deny ourselves the experience of Christian Tradition, we will ourselves become our own tradition. And this is important. Because if we are ourselves our own tradition, then it is not the needed democracy, but rather a dictatorship — a monarchy stripped of purpose and beauty with only violent power remaining. Rather, I prefer the Tradition of Chesterton,
“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead….Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.” (Orthodoxy)
During my transition from the cult of fundamentalism to Mainline Christianity, the reliance on Tradition provided me with a certain comfort level that I could use to explore different facets of Christianity. No longer was Christianity limited to one, pardon the pun, monolithic model but now included mystics, doubters, skeptics, conservatives, liberals, and all sorts of jackets in the sacred closet. It wasn’t that I could pick and choose, but now I could participate in the voting process. Once I realized the beauty, depth, and warmth of a Christianity because of Tradition, I could continue with my belief in God.
But I can’t. Here:
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”
“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Text from page of the Vatican Radio website
Agree, agree, agree. Even Zwingli would agree.
Did you notice how specific Outler’s understanding of the role of experience is for John Wesley? It is not just any experience that a person has. It is not experience with a person and whether you find them to be a good or decent person. In fact, Outler almost always modifies the word experience with “Christian.” And it is not just any “Christian experience,” it is the particular Christian experience “of the assurance of one’s sins forgiven.”
Saw this posted via DW on Fb.
Often, I run into people using experience in the pentecostal sense. Who knew they could be wrong?
Anyway, the entire article is well worth the read!
I thought this might interest some of you:
Do atonement theologies that focus on Jesus’ death underwrite human violence? If so, we do well to rethink beliefs that this death is necessary to bring salvation. Focusing on the Bible’s salvation story, Instead of Atonement argues for a logic of mercy to replace Christianity’s traditional logic of retribution.
The book traces the Bible’s main salvation story through God’s liberating acts, the testimony of the prophets, and Jesus’s life and teaching. It then takes a closer look at Jesus’s death and argues that his death gains its meaning when it exposes violence in the cultural, religious, and political Powers. God’s raising of Jesus completes the story and vindicates Jesus’s life and teaching.
The book also examines the understandings of salvation in Romans and Revelation that reinforce the message that salvation is a gift of God and that Jesus’s “work” has to do with his faithful life, his resistance to the Powers, and God’s vindication of him through resurrection.
The book concludes that the “Bible’s salvation story” provides a different way, instead of atonement, to understand salvation. In turn, this biblical understanding gives us today theological resources for a mercy-oriented approach to responding to wrongdoing, one that follows God’s own model.
I received this in the other day from a reader and thought I’d share…
I saw the recent dust up between the doctors Cargill and West. You seemed to be okay with Cargill who West has outed as an agnostic. You’ve also said New Atheists and other atheists are something like prophets. Why, as a Christian, do you treat atheists and agnostics so good? Shouldn’t you try to shame them into conversion? Can’t we just burn them at the stake like the bloody heretics they are?
- Harry Z.
Thanks, Harry. Yes, I do see value in atheism and agnosticism even to the Christian perspective. I guess as a Methodist I believe everyone is on an equal journey where God will lead and thus use them. I also find that as my faith grows in the unknowable it also requires more knowledge, so how can I dispense with this who prefer absolute knowledge or even the modern descendants to Dionysius?
I believe facts are facts regardless of generation. After all, Scripture testifies to the demons who understood the fact of the One God. If they told us of One God would we deny them that fact? Or would we not find a way to use that admission to benefit our own view?
You might ask “shouldn’t we prefer our Christian brothers to outsiders?” Why yes, I believe so. Of course, if we allow that the parable of the Good Samaritan may still teach us something more applicable we might consider all of those whom we despise to be our neighbors. Perhaps that is the first sign of who our neighbor is — do we despise them enough? I’m not saying I despise atheists by any means, but I believe I could argue in favor of the fact that many Christians do. So, if we are to prefer our brothers, and neighbors are everyone, can we separate too easily neighbors and brothers?
I guess the question we must ask is whether or not to consider others is whether or not their mission is to destroy — obliterate — Christianity. Unlike trolls from South Korea who clearly has made it his mission to obliterate Christianity, I do not believe Cargill is out to destroy Christianity. He does call attention to the reality that often times, Christians are engaged in cognitive dissonance. What do I mean, you may ask. Rightly so, let me suggest the message of the Pat Robertson meme is not that Christianity is deluded, but that it has a double standard. For instance, we chalk it up to fantastical faith evolution and other scientific discoveries and yet suggest that our faith in a Risen Lord is beyond testing, even on a historical ground (Look for the book by James McGrath. This is a logical fallacy. We should endeavor to be honest, and unlike Ham and TT, Cargill calls us to be honest with ourselves in exploring Christianity.
For me, I would submit, faith is part of the Logos. In John, we read of the Spirit of Truth that is to come and guide us into all truth. For Christians, this has given us the canon of the New Testament — including books not written by the purported authors — as well as developed doctrines. But, equally so, it has given us science and the need to further our knowledge of exactly what truth is. If God is the God of Truth (and Deutero-Isaiah declares him to be), then Truth like God is not limited to a certain time and place, but must be experienced until the fullness is reached. Where we find truth, we will find the divine. That is, if we allow certain frictions with classical theology to wear-off. This is a new world, but it is nevertheless a world that values truth. If we are those who value truth as well, then regardless of where that truth originates, we as Christians will seek it out and not limit it to a specific time and place. Like God, we know that truth goes ahead of us. Once we find it, we will cherish it, not suffocate it under a superstitious poison.
This is where atheists and agnostics come in at. I have faith in God, but I have a greater faith in the Christian Tradition. As far as the theology of the Living God, I must concur with the apophatic theologians, who I would suggest, would be more favorable to agnostics — who are humble enough in their humanity to suggest that simply, they don’t know (and maybe do not care) — than we are. I would rather doubt God than prove him. After all, the God you can prove is only the god of your Creation. This is why I would give quarter to all facts, regardless of generation — because all truth is God’s truth. This is why I would prefer agnosticism than fundamentalism.
So, Harry, I hope that answers some of your questions. Please feel free to email me with any more.
Say I’m writing a book and I wanted to talk about what Christian doctrines (v. dogmas or ethics) need to be redefined for the modern century in lieu of science and other relevant facts, such as biblical studies and an appreciation (by even Protestants) of the Church Fathers.
For instance, the theodicy, inerrancy, and the doctrine of the separation of God and Creation.
What doctrines do you think should be re-examined in light of relevant data?
For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” (John 5.16-7, NASB)
There is no doubt in my mind that Young Earth Creationists are little more than deluded deitists. The proof, first and foremost of these gnostic heretics, is their denial of the ontological creative God. Guess what? Looks like Jesus would think Ham is bunk as well.
And course the on-the-run criminal in South Korea will simply say Jesus didn’t believe in God… but the reality is, is that the Jewish theology included an ongoing creation, an ongoing ordred existence. We can break this down, but the fact that Jesus affirms an ongoing creative God should destroy the YEC argument…
Also, John is following the Deuteronomy notion of Sabbath here… just saying.
Of course, they’ll employ the theory of motivated reasoning and come up with some garbage.
Also, as a note to Honey Tee Tee — regardless of the lie you tell, you will not comment on this blog until you have met the demands of this post. Once that is the case, I will allow you an actual blog post to express any view you want, without censoring. You can write as long and about whatever you want. I will post on right here. On my blog.
In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different Interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.
I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but Augustine’s words here matter to us today because he secures for us a place for science (or, if you rather, the pursuit of truth) in examining our theology. Science can change, he admits, our interpretations and our theology. He also goes on to admonish the Christian who would profess to be wise and look rather stupid — you know, Ken Ham, Little Honey Tee Tee, T. Breeden — because he seeks to counter the settled science of the world. Augustine viewed the light of reason in this work as we must science — the great corrector or our idiocracy.
I, as a believer, see this as the goal of the Spirit who guides us into all Truth, re: John 14–16.