Saturday, February 02, 2008
Fundamentalism to Wisdom in 12 steps
Being a fundamentalism addict, I walked slowly by Neil's Candy Store awhile ago and something in the window caught my eye (of course!):
Copycats, wherein he seeks to dismiss historical parallels among world religions and Christian mythology.
Which lead me to a clever piece "proving" that Abraham Lincoln never existed.
Which got me to think about the Jesus Seminar, where the pastor of my church will be ... something ... not a full fellow, but a participant of some kind this spring.
Which caused me to go to the Wikipedia page on the Jesus Seminar for a gloss.
Which led me to the concept of "sapiential eschatology" (realized eschatology) , which is a pretty good summary of where my thinking has gone the past couple of years.
Which led me to pondering Jesus as radical sage.
Which led me to "wise man."
Which led me to Sophia! Again! She keeps popping up!
Which led me to Logos.
Which led me to Christ as Logos.
Which is Christ as divine in some way, an idea with which I will not part, although such phrases as "son of God" fall short, and the concept of the Trinity is "beyond the scope of this post." :-)
Which led me to Jesus, my friend.
Which just shows to go ya: You can find Wisdom, AND Jesus, from Neil's place, but it's pretty good hike to both.
And no, the "12 step" thing is not lost on me. I am, after all, a recovering post-1979 Southern Baptist.
Reading about the right-wing takeover of my erstwhile beloeved Southern Baptist Convention, I came across the Alliance for Baptists, a liberal wing of Southern Baptist who shot off back in '87 (when I admittedly was not paying attention and was, um, more or less sidestepping what coulda been a Slough of Despondency by stretchin' my mind and, well, smkokin' a little hooter):
I can dig this:
OK. New game plan. Take online classes at Philips; transfer to Iliff, earn an M.Div., and start my mission to fellow recovering but still disaffected conservatives, what Spong calls the "Christian Alumni Society," as well as never-"churched" "seekers," by starting an Alliance Baptist church either in Colorado or Oklahoma, where there are none now.
Right. All that would take a string of acts of God. But I'm game. Or not: I have grown to love me some UCC ... But my inner believer IS a historic church-and-state-shall-never-cleave Baptist ...
Second of all, this is less "12 steps" than "Six degrees of Separation" - whether from Kevin Bacon or anyone else. These are leaps of logic, really, interesting, yet not really informative.
"Smokin' a little hooter"? Dude, define "a little". Also, remember, marijuana contains no carcinogens - personally, I think we all would have been better off had the early Virginia settlers befriended a tribe that grew hemp. Of course, at my age, I do think I'm past all that (at least my wife tells me so).
Finally, I like your game plan - go for it. But remember - this might be your plan, but keep an ear open for God's plan for you, which is far more important.
I've been invited to the Jesus Seminar, I just can't afford to go. You may worship the ground in front of me now ...
Hapa, about the Jesus Seminar, I'm impressed.
Re, "First of all, why do you do this? I don't quite buy the whole "fundy diabetic" argument. I think you just like tweaking Neil's nose. In the end, though, what does that get you?"
Uno. The main thing I never, ever want to do is forget where I came from. Neil represent's where one of the places I came from.
Two-o. If I meant to tweak his nose, I'd comment on his blog.
Tres. It gets me this: I think. And another thing I never want to do is hang out with, or read, only those people and things I agree with.
Re, "Second of all, this is less "12 steps" than "Six degrees of Separation" - whether from Kevin Bacon or anyone else. These are leaps of logic, really, interesting, yet not really informative."
It's a chain of brain farts -- a form of freewheeling thinking. Who said anything about logic? Interesting -- and informative as to where my braion farts took me this morning. This is a BLOG. Not as academic article. Not an essay. Not a news story. Recall the last part of the word "blog" -- it's "log," as in "diary. In my case, a diary of my thoughts (as if there were any other kind of diary).
Re, ' "Smokin' a little hooter"? Dude, define "a little". Also, remember, marijuana contains no carcinogens - personally, I think we all would have been better off had the early Virginia settlers befriended a tribe that grew hemp. Of course, at my age, I do think I'm past all that (at least my wife tells me so).'
Once or twice a week. And, I agree.
Re, "Finally, I like your game plan - go for it. But remember - this might be your plan, but keep an ear open for God's plan for you, which is far more important."
explanation of God at work in the world -- that the old philosophers and
law-givers had only a part of the Logos, while the whole appears in Christ --
builds a bridge to other faiths, philosophies.
As for hanging out with folks who differ - I can buy that to a point. Yet, we both know what Neil is, and what his game is, so I still am not sure what the benefits are. Of course, I have benefited from ELAshley coming around here. He and I have actually interacted together well (although Marhsall Art seems to have dropped off the radar screen, except for not liking Ambrosia; he needs to go back and listen to some of those songs . . .). So, maybe all is not lost, for either one of us.
As far as cannabis intake is concerned, we should probably pause and reflect on the fact that Willie Nelson is a daily user, has been for most of his adult life. Ditto Louis Armstrong. It didn't harm either one of these men in to their (ahem) later years. I'm just saying, unlike Trix, it might not be for kids . . .
NEIL IS A BROTHER IN CHRIST.
I argue with him. I think he's wack. I think he is incapable of actually accomplishing what he says he can accomplish regarding certainty, knowledge and faith. I think he has made a totem, if not an actual idol, out of the Bible.
But HE IS A BROTHER IN CHRIST.
For me to think him not, or less than, or less than myself, when I insist that he accept my own profession, would be hypocrisy and worse.
What I get from Neil is sparks to think! And THAT, fellow brother in Christ, is a gift from God by definition, and enough reason for me to enjoy strolling by, and looking in his store windows sometimes.
God has blessed me through Neil, and through you, despite Neil's self, and your self, and my own self.
We ALL are under the tent!
Ain't it a bitch?
I told my Bird shortly I became her step-ER, and I tell anyone when it comes up, that the day it's legal is the day I stand ont he local courthouse steps and fire one up for freedom -- and if I'm leanin' on a walker as I do so, so be it.
I'll never forget the moment I realized that the Bible I was readin' at the time had pages of rice paper, and the one between the O.T. and the N.T was blank, and that, in a pinch, well, you know where I'm goin' ...
"Behind the figure of the dying demigod there looms the greater figure of a very God that dies for different worlds under diverse names--- for a Minoan world as Dionysus, for a Sumeric world as Tammuz, for a Hittite world as Attis, For a Syriac world as Adonis, for a Christian world as Christ. Who is this God of many epiphanies but only one passion?"
----Arnold Toynbee: A Study of History
"Truth is a river with many tributaries."
--Clement of Alexandria
Not to your pastor... to that collective waste of brain pan known as The Jesus Seminar.
why does your place have all the cool captchas?
ELA, what' the rub? That they are looking for the "historical" Jesus or they are parsing the Gospels to get there?
We'd rather just cling to the voodoo required to believe that God ghost-wrote, or dictated, the words into scribes' headss, and that it all is perfectly relevant to us right here right now in 2008 if we would only believe!
Uh, no thanks.
The Jesus Seminar is the first council of the New Reformation. That means were about 23 years into it. The social Gospel immediate-post-Darwin libs were proto-New Reformation. Like Hussites were forerunners of the Reformation.
"If the argument that pagan mythologies predated Christian teachings and therefore Christianity borrowed from them is true, then it must also be truth that the pagan religions borrowed from the Jewish religion because it is older than they are! Given that all of the Christian themes are found in the Old Testament and the Old Testament was begun around 2000 B.C. and completed around 400 B.C., we can then conclude that these pagan religions actually borrowed from Jewish ideas found in the Old Testament. Think about it, the idea of a blood sacrifice and a covering for sin is found in the first three chapters of Genesis when God covered Adam and Eve with animals skins and prophesied the coming of the Messiah."
Well, let's see now. The god-man is often referred to as Osiris- Dionysus in order to encompass all of the version of the same myth. So starting with Osiris when did his myth begin? Well the first written record is dated to 2400 BCE and was considered to represent a well formed cult of Osiris. In addition the 2000 year old date for the early Old Testament only counts if you are using the 'original texts' and not the Jewish texts to be dated. So the god-man myth is somewhat older that even the first "Jewish" mention of Jesus in "prophecy", even if you buy that such was a mention of "Jesus".
Now just in case, one is to jump to the conclusion that maybe the Egyptians borrowed from the Jews let us remember that Egypt was well established by over a 1000 years when the Hebrews took refuge there and even later when the Egyptian Prince Moses lead the Hebrews out of Egypt and gave them their first "Laws".
So Osiris is an old dude with an old story.
Of course if you see the Logos as something more than a once on a small planet event, then this will not bother you.
It might interest you to know that Ray Bradbury wrote a short story that touched... no, groped... this topic. Titled "The Man," it relates the story of a rocket ship that lands on a new world only to discover that Jesus has just left the day before... so begins a chase through the cosmos where the rocket arrives 12 hours late, ten hours late, five hours late, etc. But, undaunted, they keep up their pursuit.
Seems to me the good men (and women?) of the Jesus Seminar got tired of pursuing and decided to just hunker down and dissect his 2 day old message rather than ask Him for guidance.
That at least is what I think.
But, it's hard for me, a former God-said-it-I-believe-that-settles-it Southern Baptist, to express how utterly false this is:
"Either the Bible is true, through and through, or it is utterly false."
Have you actuallty READ it? Do you suspend your critical thinking skillss when you do? And i am NOT quibbling over miracles!
"God offers-- within the pages of the Bible itself --no other alternative."
I reject any assertion that the Bible makes ANY claims for the Bible, as we know the Bible today -- that is the very voodoo I harp about it.
"If even one thing is false, the entire message is corrupt and no one has assurance of anything other than "it's a decent book with lots of good advice on how to live godly" "
If that's the case, then the entire message is corrupt -- because far more than one thing in Scripture is false. Accepting that, actually, is the first step away from idolatry and toward faith. Because the entire message became corrupt the instant human beings got involved with it. The Bible says THAT, quoting Jesus: There is NONE good, save God in heaven.
We should probably whoa this hoss right here. Talking to you and Neil and others for whom the Bible is a totem always reminds me of what I thought about Pentecostals when I was in high school: If you think you can lose your salvation, then you don't *have* salvation, because you're not trusting in God, you're trusting in your ability to strike a bargain. If you believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant, then you are ascribing to it qualities that only God can possess, and you seem to be trusting in the Bible, and your human understanding of it, wghich can never ever be "good," not even with "the aid of the Holy Spirit" -- because there is NONE good, save God in heaven. In which case the Bible itself, I mean as long as you hold it up, is your stumblingblock!
Well I don't really see any "bold" certainty coming out of the Jesus Seminar, unless it is the fact that the vast majority of the fellows believe that there was a historical Jesus.
ELA: "Either the Bible is true, through and through, or it is utterly false. God offers-- within the pages of the Bible itself --no other alternative."
That of course in an inarguable position, and I won't try to do so.
It is a position I can not hold, but one I recognize as having a universal appeal.
ELA: "If even one thing is false, the entire message is corrupt and no one has assurance of anything other than "it's a decent book with lots of good advice on how to live godly"
Why? It's God's Book, and God is infallible, therefore his book is infallible. If it isn't infallible then it can't be God's Book, or if it is God's Book and is not infallible then God is not infallible. Thus anyone who make the book seem fallible is attacking God's infallibility.
Oddly enough, I find myself agreeing with ELAshley on the Jesus Seminar. While certainly worth a look or two, there is also (a) their methodology to consider; (b) their presuppositions to consider; (c) their progress to consider. Their method is, to a large extent, dictated by their assumptions, some of which are questionable in the extreme, others less problematic but no less debatable for all that.
On the other hand, I cannot but agree that ELAshely's defense of Biblical inerrancy is both illogical and erroneous on its face. Just one example - the Bible is quite clear that the value of pi is 3 rather than the irrational number summarized as 3.1416. Archaeological evidence from the Levant has shown that, while there was a King David, he was a wholly-owned subsidiary vassal of the Assyrian Empire (there is a stele that shows an embassy from Israel's King David presenting tribute to the Assyrian monarch). This makes sense, as Assyria would have needed to control the trade routes through Palestine in to Egypt, for both economic and militarily strategic reasons. They were choke points, and who held them, controlled the flow of both goods and armies. The fiction of an expansive kingdom that once stretched from the Tigris-Euphrates basin to the banks of the Nile through Sinai is the kind of triumphalistic nonsense countries tell about themselves, especially after the fact.
Does any of this render the Bible irrelevant? No more so than the status of such works as Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, and The Naked and the Dead as fiction deprives them of meaning. This is not to downgrade the Bible; it is only to say that to suggest that the Bible's status as a holy book relies solely on its factual accuracy - whether this is historical, theological, moral, or what have you - is simply nonsense. It is holy through the grace of God. Period. Any other argument is pure magical thinking.
And I'll add, again: The Bible is sacred because of its place, as it is, in Christian history.
Re, (the Jesus Seminar's) alleged "bold 'Certainty' that Jesus probably didn't say this ..."
That is mistaking an emphatic declaration of doubt for a claim of certainty.
Sigh. The only certainty is that God loves us. And even that's a gamble -- but a necessary one. Because if God doesn't love us, we're totally screwed.
Not an unusual route for an ER thread wouldn't you say?
That seems strange given that's pretty much exactly how we got the Bible in it's present form in the first place. ;)
Thank you for that. You may all just manage to convince me that Liberals are not all monsters
[that was sarcasm, by the way... typed with a smile... tongue in cheek... a playful jest]
I would like to point out that just because a "stele" shows David paid tribute to the king/emperor of Assyria in no way means he was subject to their rule. Assyria may have seen it as tribute, but Israel may have meant it as gift.
There's a question of perspective (to say nothing of ego) to consider in this.
Or Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky?
Or The City of God by St. Augustine?
Or The Jewish Wars by Josephus
The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity are also good reads.
Good reading all.