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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Grasping for a theology I can trust

I have no desire to be a stick in the mud but I do not think any compelling argument can be made from what the early church believed about anything.

It is certainly interesting and certainly worthy of consideration, but it seems to me that Jesus no sooner disappears and power struggles, legalism and Gnosticism are already worming their way into the message as we see in the book of Acts and the letters of Paul. After 70 AD, Semitic perspective is eschewed and the church begins a tailspin deep into Greek philosophy. Once the original Apostles are dead there are no brakes to that trend and the church body as a whole redefines every New Testament word in terms of its Greek back story while adding an overstated drama inventing ecclesiastical meaning instead of seeing the biblical text in its actual historical context. I am not saying they did this out of deliberate intent to distort but simply out of an uneducated assumption that these words precipitated from a Jewish sect must obviously mean what they mean "to me." And thus was invented the tradition of unscholarly study of Greek where it is studied with rigid grammar and no research into linguistic significance except when confused. This trend continues to this very day. It will be hard to change it because it would require a great number of esteemed leaders to admit they were wrong.

We did not suddenly find ourselves victims of the heresies of Augustine of Hippo. He merely sealed the deal once and for all and the church has ever since been a cult of hidden anti-Semitic attitudes married to Greek Philosophy involved in horrific power struggles to reestablish absurd concepts or substitutes for apostolic authority. It is Augustine's false teachings that forever plunged the church into a required organizational structure as that remained the only way to sustain his paradigm. And yet it violates every principle Jesus and Paul taught about the nature of the relationship Christ has with the individual.

The Roman Catholic monolith could not establish its power grip until after Augustine. The so called Protestant reformers were themselves grasping for power. I can empathize as they required some sort of power to counter the Roman church. So as they saw it, they had no choice but to go no farther back than Augustine. In a sense Protestantism simply went back to the same poisoned root and became a different kind of Catholicism.

Back to my opening statement - I think the only arguments we can make are those that consider the possibilities and rely upon the potential for coherence when as many factors as possible are wrestled with.

3 comments:

  1. When my friend Dave read Bob's recent post, "What I Actually Believe", he suggested "it's almost as if Bob has crawled into your heart and communicated the essence of your faith".
    I am no scholar but after being treasurer of an Anglican Parish Church for 8 years in the 1960's I have been outside the walls of traditional Christianity for some 40 years and can relate to so much that Bob has to say. For me there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION (or Christendom) and the Christian FAITH.
    I understand what Bob is saying when he suggests that the Protestant reformers didn't have to go back farther than Augustine - back to the same poisoned root!

    In "What I Actually Believe" Bob has written, "I believe the scripture shows a progressive revelation of God. I think mankind struggles with a mature and healthy concept of God and that God knew this and deliberately chose to reveal Himself in a progressive transition from our distortions into His true representation".

    With hindsight I can see that I have learned so much over the last ten years or so about why people believe what they believe, often as a result of divisive, denominational theology.

    I would suggest that instead of going back to the poisoned root of the teachings of Augustine we need to go back to the teachings of 'The Fall of Adam'. If Jesus is described as the Redeemer before Creation doesn't this suggest that God knew that HUMANITY would miss the mark of what mankind had been created to be (one definition of sin)? Could it be that this would be inevitable until Jesus arrived as the promised Messiah, when Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit could then begin to live His life in and through those who would accept the calling that they were receiving?

    Like Bob I have a faith that I don't want to define (something that initially troubled my friend Dave). I believe we are all on unique journeys and that we are all seeing a small part of the overall picture.

    Unlike Bob who describes himself as a people person, I am very much the INTROVERT - maybe with full-blown Aspergers Syndrome - who would describe himself as a bit of a hermit - someone who has known ABOUT God for some 60 years but who only began to KNOW God over the last 7-8 years.

    Bob's earlier article was the catalyst that encouraged me to rewrite the introduction to my blog and rename it. It's been a long journey - asking some of the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers. Over the years on the internet I have been in touch with several hundred people and I know that I have been able to support and encourage at least a few people to THINK FOR THEMSELVES.

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