Monday, June 08, 2009


Fake it 'til you make it; or, 'put on Christ'

Woke up this morning thinking about what it means to "put on Christ."

It sure doesn't come naturally, so to speak, and it doesn't seem to come supernaturally.

One of the complaints I've seen quite a bit from the Decons is that there's no quantifiable difference in the morality of a set of X number of Christians versus a set of the same X number of non-Christians -- which, actually, is a little silly, if you ask me, "morality" being one thing and "love" being another.

So, if it doesn't come naturally, and it doesn't come supernaturally, it has to come deliberately. And, I suppose, after awhile it might become habit.

Galatians 3:27, though, seems to suggest that by one's baptism into Christ, "putting on Christ" becomes definitional -- mystical, supernatural, etceteral.

I don't know. That reminds me of the salvation as "fire insurance" that I grew up around.

I think it takes an act of the will, inspired by the gift of Grace. It takes work. Because it's not faith OR works, I don't think. I think it's faith AND works -- and I'll let the theologians argue over whether one "flows from the other" and which one comes first.

Actually, I think it flows both ways.

What do y'all think?

(Here's Charles G. Finney's hardshell Calvinist take on "putting on Christ." Lots of good stuff in it, but it IS hardcore.)

Has Bill Mahr been Decon'd, or just "Con'd" by the Devil?
No idea what that means.
Oh, did he do that "Religulous" movie? I haven't seen it. The clips I *have* seen seem like they might fall under Matthew 18: 1-7.
What's the relevance of Anonymous' comment? Bill Maher? Please.

Anyway, here's my take on it, for the grain or two of salt it might be worth. We put on Christ - we are already "in" the New Creation; yet that new creation has yet to be finished. We are, in other words, a work in progress. Two steps forward, a step back, a step forward, four steps back - yet God is with us all the way, even when we trip and fall in some pretty deep poop along the way. I honestly don't believe God cares one way or another about "morality". Love, however, is a different subject, and our failures are far more often failures of love than failures to "be good".

The Wesleyan ideal of perfection in love - all our life, our faith, our deeds, our prayer flow from the love that is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us - is a process that is always going on. Wesley believed it possible in this life, even though he never professed to have achieved it himself. We put on Christ, we are a new creation - real, divine love-in-action for our neighbors - and we have to throw ourselves on the same grace that saves us to keep us going when we see that we aren't loving as we should.
Ahh, Religulous, an amusing commentary on the dangers of religious certainty. Here's the quick version: "I don't know and you don't either, so stop being hypocrites and pretending you do."

...which, actually, is a little silly, if you ask me, "morality" being one thing and "love" being another.

I would agree with this, except that so many religious people -- shrouded in their faux piety and shielded by their so-called "faith" -- proclaim that if their legends aren't true, then everything will go to hell. That's not only laughable, but also selfish and arrogant. Religion is meant to be about the search for truth, not the possession of it. It's a journey, not a destination. That's where people get it wrong.

What does it mean to "put on Christ," though? It talks in the sense of putting on clothes, but to put on clothes, one must first take off the clothes he is wearing, so what are the clothes one is wearing right now? Is it the desire of worldly things? Is following Christ to pursue the superpersonal, so-called Godly, things? It's an interesting question.
"Is following Christ to pursue the superpersonal, so-called Godly, things?"

"Godly things" -- that'd be putting others before yourself, I think. That's it. The rest -- church, ritual, music, "worship," etc., they're all important to some people. But they pale compared to that.

So, I think what one is supposed to take off before putting on Christ is "self."

And it's damn hard to do, since "selfishness" (a "bad") is just self-preservation (a "good") on steroids.
Hehe just FYI, I worded my last comment poorly in my last paragraph. I meant the "clothes" that one puts on by putting on Christ is the pursuit of superpersonal things, while the ones that one takes off is the pursuit of worldly things. Just to clarify in case that wasn't clear.

ER, and your definition of what one might call Godly things, that was very well put.
I'm tired of what I consider the false Christian existentialism that American Christian publishing and a cultural anti-intellectualism has instilled in the general culture of American Christianity.

It sets up false dichotomies like this:

LOVE vs. ritual, music, worship (i.e., church).


JOURNEY vs Commitment, Group identification

Learning about loving and about journeying have to be taught with -- at the very least -- concrete forms in the beginning, and continually nourished by re-newed forms.

I would say that if one's living community AND that community's form of worship does not educate one about how to deepen love of other and how to integrate one's own journey with the reality of the world AND the real needs of the world, then one should find something better.

And if the resistance is that there can be no community that satisfies "me," then I would suggest that such a stance is entirely a privileged American construction of selfish faith that will always fail to love others more than self, fail to journey deep into the heart of God, and fail to find the clothes at the back of the wardrobe that are the perfection of who I am created to be.

The liturgy matters, the narrative matters, the community should exert a formation that is both uncomfortable and fulfilling. Neither my need nor my needlessness can be understood within some stripped down, creedless rejection of the fact that human beings have to belong to something, sociologically speaking, just to be real in the world.

Now, this is not related to absolutist truth claims. But in putting on Christ, we would sell ourselves short to forget that Christ clothed himself in us first. He was a first century Jewish man. He could have been something else. But he had to start somewhere and be something.

So do we.
Money quote: "But in putting on Christ, we would sell ourselves short to forget that Christ clothed himself in us first."

Feodor: That's a very humanistic opinion, and one with which I agree whole-heartedly. I don't think I could have said it better myself. (h/t)
Feodor: "But in putting on Christ, we would sell ourselves short to forget that Christ clothed himself in us first."

Feodor, how so very Gnostic an understanding.

Of course the early gnostic variety of Christians always said Paul was one of them.
Here we go! LOL
That's exactly what I've been trying to tell you, DrLBJ:

Orthodoxy is very comprehensive. You don't have to turn your back on the community of the church in some search for an ur-community, which is simply, surely by now, just as power-interest led as any.
F: "Orthodoxy is very comprehensive."

Isn't that an oxymoron?
Orthodoxy can be complex or convoluted,but comprehensive? "THE Right Teaching" among a myriad of teachings doesn't seem to denote comprehensiveness.
Comprehensive Orthodox teaching:

Christ is both God and human.

Human nature is both flawed and capable of co-participating in divine nature.

God is three. God is one.

Bread and wine, water and oil, marriage and priesthood, a claim of faith and a confession of denial, Christ is truly present in all these.

Prayer works, prayer will never get you what you want.

Human life is a cross and human life is the closest thing to divinity in all the cosmos.

Death is the punishment. Death is conquered.

Orthodoxy is concerned not with what is right.

I said, NOT with what is right.

Orthodoxy is concerned with what is good AND beautiful AND right, all at the same time.

Classical Protestantism is concerned solely with what is right. This is the Christianity of your foundation.
Sorry, I should say "orthodox" teaching, not Orthodox.
Re, "This is the Christianity of your foundation."

Maybe the Christianity of DrLoboJo's inherited, and now largely cast off, tradition. Mine, too. Not the Christianity of his foundation, I'm pretty sure. Nor mine now.

But he can speak for hisself.
BTW, Feodor, a few miles from here is one of them Anglican churches split off from the Episcopals, a mission of the Anglicans in Rwanda.
I did mean "the foundational years" of childhood and early adulthood, i.e. not necessarily one's recent choices.

A few miles from here, thousands believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe (deceased) is the Messiah and will come back.

White people. What can you say!?

Crazy, crazy worries.

And then there's Jeremiah Wright finding himself speaking the same words that the gunman, James von Brunn, spoke:

"Jews are controlling Obama."

Gays, Jews, and a black President. World's gone crazy, but at least one abortion doctor got justice.

Where in hell is the Ameritianity God? That white boy knows what to do.
Ugh. Everybody just needs to chill out and have a coldbeer. ... I think Hank Jr. had a song to that effect a few years ago...
Yep, I thought so. Here's the words:

There’s crime in the city streets

Always trouble in the middle east

How do we let things get so out of hand

Just watching the evening news

That would give anybody the blues

The more I know, I think, the less I understand


Oh, why can’t we all just get a long neck?

And make a toast to peace and harmony

Why why cant we all just get a long neck?

See how good gettin’ along might be

I’d like to buy the world a round

In a honky tonk on neutral ground

Where we can see inside we’re all the same

Pop a top and let the good times pour

‘Til we forget what we’re fighting for

I’ll ask again could someone please explain?


Oh why can’t we all just get a long neck?

And make a toast to peace and harmony

Why why cant we all just get a long neck?

See how good gettin’ along might be

And different as we may be

We’re all one big family

Can’t we just agree we’re gonna disagree?!


Oh why can’t we all just get a long neck?

And make a toast to peace and harmony

Why Why why cant we all just get a long neck?

See how good gettin’ along can be

And see how good getting along could be

Que Pasa!!!!!

I met a living God once. It was His Imperial Majesty Hali Selassie in Asmara, Ethiopia (now Eritrea)during his annual visit to settle all major legal disputes and capital crimes in 1967. I did note that he was short and black. (Met, well I was in the same room as his Highness and I had to bow towards him so I counted that as an personal interaction worthy of "Met".) Eat your hearts out Rastaferians!
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