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Yvonne

And...or?

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As I sat in contemplation over the last week or so, I wrestled with ideas about God, Christ, and Jesus. Oh, I know what I believe about God, but it is next to impossible to put it into words. Even when I use metaphor and analogy, I still struggle because every tool seems so inadequate. Then it hit me, this is exactly why I struggle with finding a place for Christ in my Christianity. Because The Christ is as difficult to explain as the Ultimate Source that I choose to name God. I was wanting somebody, anybody, to explain. Even though you all tried – beautifully, I might add – the concept is beyond words. Now I get it. Having applied my reason to all that's been said in this forum, and then allowing my intuition free rein, I get it.

 

I believe that is the best way to approach The Divine – with intuition and reason. Having found a way to the Divine Other using both reason and intuition, I cannot turn back. But the key word is and – head and heart, thinking and feeling, science and religion, theology and mysticism. I am be comfortable with the and in my life.

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It is always worth noting that fundamentalism, going back to the original Niagara Bible Conference in the late 1800s was always a simultaneously rejection & acceptance of modernity: while it wanted to reject scientific ideas that conflicted with their religious beliefs, they also wanted to treat their religious beliefs as scientific facts. Nice, firm, solid, objective, testable, empirically verifiable, certain, stable regardless of interpretation.... they wanted the fundamentals of Christianity (as defined by their conservative Presbyterian version of things) to be factual in a very modern, scientific understanding of the term.

 

It is an interesting turn of events that St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin would agree more with your post than with the fundamentalists*.

 

Aquinas, and most of the mediaeval tradition, was quite blunt about the fact that direct and full understanding of the divine was not going to happen. For a lot of issues, the best we could do is talk in terms of allegory and analogy.

 

Calvin similarly stated we couldn't create a unified theology that perfectly models and explains God, Jesus, and their relationship to the world. To use a term from sociology, he preferred creating a series of "middle range theories" about grace, faith, christology, etc. based on logic interrogating revelation and the Bible. Calvin explicitly stated he couldn't reconcile all these topics into 1 stable and unified theology (example: his belief & argument about why & how God is good, with his belief and argument about humanity & suffering), and he wasn't going to bother trying. The only way to do that was to engage in wild speculation that was divorced from the concerns of the Christian community.

 

...Or maybe they wouldn't agree with progressive. I'm sure the religious right would disagree with me, and the more knowledgeable thinkers would easily be able to beat me in a fair debate. But the point remains that American "traditionalists" are not anachronisms harkening back to an older, more pious age, and the ways they engage questions of certainty and ambiguity are as historically situated as anything. However, do am always amused when something I thought was a radical break from Christian theological thought is really only a break from a century's worth of thought from a geographically constrained region.

 

One of my standard dead horses to beat is that progressive Christians would find allies within Christian history, both in terms of practitioners (who acts the way we often think Christians should act?) and theologically (who makes systematic arguments about faith that speak to our concerns?). You stating you like analogy and metaphor as opposed to CERTAINTY! made me want to take another whack at the dead horse ;)

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Great way to put it. I find that certain authors can put into words what I know intuitively but can't express. I go to morning prayer sometimes at my church and they read two Bible lessons and a contemporary lesson. John Vanier is our current contemporary author, and can that guy write! Not all lessons are as effective, but they are much better than anything that I could think or write.

Kay

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