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Interesting Conversation out in Blogland

October 5, 2007

Pisco is wondering How Useful is Theology? He posits: Every so often my Jewish and apatheistic past bubbles up again, and I just get the urge to scream, “Who cares?” Doubly so when I feel like correct opinions about God are used as shibboleths between Christians to separate the sheep from the goats. Interestingly, one always believes oneself to be with the sheep. Isn’t that funny?

Tandaina had a great response, with which I fully agree:

Don’t tell my bishop hun but I’m with you.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading of rabbis recently and I’m really liking the Jewish approach. I like the idea that these texts are living things that we are supposed to bring our own interpretations to. I like the idea that often the answer is “we don’t know”. I like the argumentand discussion that doesn’t have to lead to a definite answer.

I think for Western minds yes and no, right and wrong are something we are trained to look for. We want to know we are right, period end of story. I’m rather of the opinion that there isn’t a final universal TRUTH to be found. Truth is relative, it is changing, its a journey not a destination.

(I feel me another blog post coming on.) 😉


In turn, there was a link from Pisco’s comments to a post from Sarx called Two Sides of the Same Coin – which takes things a bit further.

Sarx says:

It took Judaism several thousand years to develop the idea of “heresy” outside of what we would call “Social Justice Issues.” Generally, if the poor were not fed and the debts were collected with interest something was horribly wrong – no matter how many Yom Kippurs your High Priest celebrated. Only much later – 10th century CE – did Maimonides come up with something that could be called a definition of heresy and orthodoxy in Judaism. Yet, even now – after 1000 years – the statement’s validity is debated. There is no canonical text, even. This is a 3000 year old religion.

Christians? We leapt to definitions of Orthodoxy in only 300 years or so – and we did so under the pressure of secular politics, claiming that God was inspiring the politicians to press us so. The process is highly suspect, if you ask me – even if I agree with some of the creedal points thus generated…

Our ideas of sexuality effect/affect our theological ideas. What you say about sexuality loops into what you say about men and women. What you say about men and women loops into what you say about Jesus. What you say about Jesus loops into what you say about God. What you say about sex ties into Morality. Morality ties into God.


Does talking about God equate with knowing?
Does even claiming to know equate with God’s being?
Does an eternally present and incarnational deity ever change?
Does a loving God allow for disagreement?
Does praying to God in all humility allow one to know who God is?
Does God have a say in the matter?
At which point(s) do you wrestle with history and politics instead of God’s person?

These are not rhetorical questions. I just don’t think we need the answers as fast as we seem to want them.

I agree with him. The fast food nation wants it now, and the Christians jumped way too quick to solidify their doctrines for political, rather than religious, reasons. The result has been to overburden Christians with a document (the Bible) which is not allowed to grow along with the Christian faith/tradition.

Is it any wonder things are the way the are? Christians were cut off at the knees before they even knew they might want to stand up at some point.

Interesting stuff.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2007 12:58 pm

    I’ve always said that one of the worst things that happened to the Church was that we were institutionalized into the State Religion of Rome under Constantine.

  2. October 5, 2007 2:15 pm

    Sounds like another situation where people are thinking too hard. See, that’s half the problem we humans have — thinking too hard.

    Speaking of which, questions for you follow:

    1) What’s the worst job you ever had?

    2) Tell me about a time you felt particularly cherished.

    3) What outfit of yours makes you feel the most you, and why?

    4) What situation/environment/music/people helps you feel closer to God?

    5) Are you doing okay, hun?

    Enjoy the thinking. 🙂

  3. October 5, 2007 4:47 pm

    Sly boots Kate: creative and helpful, I expect and pray; we’ll see.

    Oh, we’ve compromised with the world many more times than that, my dears, though it certainly is appropriate to cite classic examples: the Constantinian Settlement, or smaller local temporary versions since ??

    And how can a community(ies) centered on a human being be unworldly, anyway? The Docetist foundations of the Biblicists are showing, I think. The “Jewish” (??) model of ongoing serious discussion without ultimate settlement short of One, which has been practiced widely in all branches of Christianity, and Islam, for hat matter, is being democratized (Forgive); the laity are making it their work and the institutional seams are bursting.

    I suggest we all get into something comfortable (heh), sit down, and talk; no pressure on when to speak, though you may be invited regularly to do so. Listening well will get you far more points than saying something brilliant and wise.

    We got an “Unlearning Racism” committee at my parish, named after Fr. Lloyd Uyeki, who was in a Japanese-American prison camp as a boy during WWII, and who died in 1995 due in part to injuries sustained at that time. Our meetings go like that. He, and the meeting of which he was a founding member, continue to praise the Living God, not one of the dead.

  4. October 7, 2007 9:29 pm

    There are some awfully smart people out there in Blogland. If only the people who make the Big Decisions in our world had half the capacity for nuanced thought as do Pisco and Tandaina and Sarx.

    I decided a few weeks ago to make “I don’t know” both my mantra and my motto. Does that make me smart, too? 🙂

  5. rick allen permalink
    October 7, 2007 11:29 pm

    I am puzzled why there should be objections both to the raising of theological questions, and to their settlement.

    That is, I can see why some would think that we should never ask, “why?,” and that some might think that we should leave all questions unanswered. But to think both seems a little inconsistent.

    We have theology because we ask questions. I think we have to. Maybe not everyone does. But unless we all just agree to shut up about it all we can’t help but raise all sorts of questions about what God desires of us, who God is.

    That the canon closed at least keeps the revelation comprehensible. I know very few Christians who can claim to have even finished the bible, a single book, from cover ot cover. What has been preserved over the centuries of reflections and questions and synthesis would take at least ten lifetimes for one person to read.

    As ot the settlement of theological questions–well, the claim that it’s all about Constantine is, I know, a sort of catch-all answer. But these things were being settled back when the Church was still an outlaw organization. The rejection of Marcionism, for instance. Suppressing questions is inhuman; not less inhuman is pretending that every answer is equally correct, or that inconsistent imperatives can coexist.

    So I’ve got no problem if something like Arianism was taken care of long ago. It is an arcane issue. It has little to do with the concrete claims of Jesus on our lives. So thank God it was dealt with long ago. If I am of a scholarly bent I can of course spend my life reading Athanasius and Arius and trace the long course of the controversy. It’s quite fun, if you like that sort of thing. But I don’t exactly feel the iron thumb of Constantine on me when I affirm “begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.” If utterly obsessed and unconvinced I am free to become a Jehovah’s Witness. But in fact I am pleased and delighted that theology has taken its course over the ages, that human reflection has gone all over the map with the Christian revelation, and that, at times, such meanderings have been corrected when they begin to get out of hand.

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