Wednesday, April 10, 2019

21st C Christian

So you have a new idea, a way of interpreting the faith that has been uncommon, or even unknown in our history.  I don't have a problem with that.  I think that's possible.  While I think we should regard the people who knew Jesus personally as the strongest witness to what he actually meant, I can accept the idea that they were also culturally-bound, and truths might gradually emerge.

You disagree with 2000 years of other Christians, who presumably also had access to the Holy Spirit. I can see the possibility of that as well. I'm not writing that off as impossible. What I do find hard to accept is your absolute assurance that you are right and 20 centuries of other Christians are wrong. That, in and of itself, disqualifies you from further participation in the discussion.


Texan99 said...

"Christianity and Spelling Reform" comes irresistibly to mind whenever I encounter one of these.

My pastor gave an odd sermon this week. I usually value his sermons, if only because he approaches things so differently from me that it's good to have the new angle. This one was about Judas objecting to Mary Magdalene's extravagance in spending the 300 denarii on perfumed oil to rub on Jesus' feet. My pastor's take was that Judas was right, the money should have been spent on the poor. The lesson became something like that the justification for spending it on Jesus was that He was about to undergo an ordeal for which he'd need special strengthening, so in the needs hierarchy He won out. I just can't get anywhere with turning all decisions into a needs hierarchy. That approach has its strictly limited place, is as far as I can go. What Jesus always emphasized was that the value of giving was in the letting-go practiced by the giver, and the closer the inspiration to let go hewed to God, the better. The point never was the recipient, except as the attitude toward the recipient put the giver in the right relationship to God. That's why the widow's mite is a more important gift than the casual largesse of the rich man, even though obviously the rich man can relieve more suffering in the poor with his larger gift. That's why it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven--not because it's important to deliver opulence to poor people. We are told that even poor people are better off giving away the last crumbs that lie between them and starvation, to be casually consumed by random strangers who show up at the door.

The lesson is that wealth and poverty are equally unimportant in their own right; the main thing is the living waters in the soul. But the dominant theme today is that the only important part of Christianity is the wealth-redistribution lesson. When the lesson is mostly "be more compassionate, be more awake to love," that's well enough, but it never seems to stop there. We have the spectacle of people arguing that you can't be a Christian if abortion makes you uneasy.

Korora said...

I wonder. In the days of the divided kingdom, were people saying that you couldn't possibly have a compassionate heart if the furnaces of Molech made you uneasy?

james said...

The statement "God is still speaking" seems straightforward enough. He is--He has "spoken" to me more than once. But the sloganeers mean "God is saying something new this year."

Grim said...

I think it would be nice if we could get people to just commit to trying to fully understand the older positions before telling us why they were wrong.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Grim - that is a Chesterton's Fence application.

Grim said...

Only to some degree, I think. Chesterton was only trying to avoid a stupid mistake; it may not benefit you to know why we don't need the fence anymore, but it benefits all of us to make sure that we really don't need it before we pull it down.

By contrast, there's real value to you in understanding Augustine, and Aquinas, and Kierkegaard. It's more than the prudential value of avoiding a potentially costly error. Even if they're completely wrong, you become a better and wiser person by understanding what they thought might be right, and why they thought so.