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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are Christians experts on God and life?

It is a strange thing how some Christians feel that simply being a Christian means they now understand the things of God and the secrets to living a good life.

But think about it. Do you have any relationships at all? Does having any of those relationships automatically make you an expert in sociology or psychology or anthropology or philosophy or anything else without an honest effort toward a credible education? So just because we have a relationship with God, why does that automatically cause us to know things we have not explored with a well developed and authentic understanding of? Just because we believe and have the ability to read and think for ourselves does not make us bible scholars.

OK so the spirit of God talks to you. Does this somehow make you into a person who understands the intricacies of communication or how language works or how conceptualization takes place in the brain and so now you can avoid assumptions unawares? Or is this an experience of the mystery of the closeness of the lover of our souls? Does He speak to instruct us in fine details or to assure our hearts that we are His?

Sorry, but there is no substitute for an excellent education. However, all this notwithstanding, the knowledge that is really important in the Christian life is the authenticity of one's heart given to Christ and the genuineness of experience that can belong to any one who remains present with Christ, who walks with Him and who allows the wonderment of life in Christ to be embraced with fondness. It is not about having answers it is about having the connection.

If it is answers you want, you are on your own. So long as you are in Christ whatever answers are genuinely working for you are good enough for now. If you want better answers then develop the skills to differentiate good answers from bad answers and prepare to be often mistaken even if well intended. All the answers any of us have will never be more that what we are capable of understanding anyway.

I have given a great deal of time in my life to become an educated person. The more I learn the more I discover that what we think we know may not necessarily be true. Every answer creates even more questions and reality over time becomes even more unmanageable. There comes a time when the real value of education is that it gives you various ways of managing life while it keeps you from settling into self-discovered answers that fall apart when you work them through to their logical end.

Love each other, love yourself, love God -- life is good! Who needs more than that?

Friday, July 16, 2010

If theology has limited value what about philosophy?

Philosophy is for people who find it interesting. It can expand the mind but it can also blind us. I cannot claim to be well versed in the numerous nuances of various philosophies that have captured the fascination of those who have made it a life quest. Nonetheless, I personally view philosophy as a game of lenses. It is helpful to discover that one can embrace different lenses that alter the way you make sense of and respond to things. But ultimately, philosophy eventually becomes an exercise in optical illusions. You begin to see things in a way that seems to confirm your philosophy and at that point philosophy becomes a blind anchor and you are no longer free to sail.

Therefore, philosophy is most useful in being able to demonstrate that there are actually numerous intelligent ways of making sense of things. Indeed, when interpreting the bible, I do not regard an ancient Jewish concept of reality to be superior to a modern twentieth century Western paradigm. All cultural perspectives are merely useful for those on the same page, they are never perceptions of reality, they are only aftereffects of cultural development. Nonetheless a more proper interpretation of scripture will be possible (never certain) by attempting to appreciate the horizon of reality from the point of view culturally owning the author.

If you seek to interpret words, philosophy can be a great tool to help you learn to adopt temporarily a modality you do not personally embrace. However, if it is reality you seek, philosophy is the illusion you are finding it.

And yet, it is impossible to live without a philosophy of some sort. The brain insists on organizing observations into coherent concepts that allow us to live spontaneously while minimizing the potential dangers and maximizing the potential rewards. My philosophy is very anchored in the idea that reality is solid but perception is not. Reality is bio-semiotically an arm's distance away. It cannot be inspected directly. I am lost in an ocean of filtered perception where there is no shore. For me this is why I am so comfortable resting in the presence of Jesus. Ultimately reality is His problem, I live by faith in His abiding love.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Don't be cultic

The bible says, many things. What it explicitly says is biblical, but how I make sense of how it applies or what conclusions are to be drawn is just me influenced by the bible. I cannot embrace the bible without bringing to it myself and shaping an understanding for myself. But the moment I equate my understanding of the bible with the bible itself, I have become a cult. I have become my own authority independent of what God has breathed.

All theology is man made, even mine. Good theology is man made as is bad theology. The only healthy attitude about theology is found by balancing these two principles into an irresolvable conundrum:

1) Rightly divide the word of truth
2) Let God be true and every man a liar

No matter what you think you will always be wrong in some way, large or small, that you are either incapable of appreciating or have yet to learn.