As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reply to Post-Moderns

I'm not certain what you're asking, so I'll just give my reactions to what you wrote. Your post quotes a man who said:
But if it's wrong, it's wrong all the time regardless of the circumstances.
Although I believe this shows a slight lack of sophistication in moral philosophy, I basically agree with him. However, is polygamy a sin? Abraham did it (kind of.) Isaac and Jacob did too. King David did, and his son most certainly did. Aside from bishops needing to be "the husband of one wife", I don't see what the issue is. Why coulndn't anyone marry more than one wife?

But that skirts the larger issue. If something is wrong in one time and place, is it not wrong in all times and places? As I said, I largely agree with that. Animal sacrifice, for instance, is no longer acceptable. Eating pigs, however, is. But let's take the statement, for the most part, at face value. Something that is a sin is always a sin. If that is the case, why do we not follow some of the laws of God's Chosen from the OT? I mean the ones for the nation, like wiping out other nations that worship foreign gods.

But that still isn't the main issue of your post. How much can we question? It seems to me that everyone is going to question everything anyway. I know I did, right before I started down the Catholic path. Even the Orthodox, to some extent, encourage that as "wrestling with God." To be engaged with God in that manner is better that becoming distant from Him. And I think the Church must allow such questions and doubts.

However, the Church can never deviate from the deposit of Truth. As much as questioners deviate from it, they are not Christian. Thus, the main question is how are we going to determine what that Truth is.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jordi said...

Writing from the gut, not the brain, I want to ask why is it problematic to ask questions? I can understand where we can perceive problems, but are they really problems?

If I question the why or why not of women priests/ministers, I must examine history, the words of St. Paul, culture, and probably a few more things. This examination can lead to a better understanding. A more pedantic believer might tell me that it has already been examined and the answer is such and so-forth, according to paragraph 123.4 of the Official Belief System.

So the problems are: through examination, we are in fact questioning Paul, the Bible, and the Official Belief System that Zondervan or St. Ignatius spent spent so much money to publish.

We are questioning three authorities here (history and culture, interestingly enough, has nothing to lose and therefore it’s authority is not threatened or diminished or challenged by any form of questioning).

So what’s wrong with the questions? It challenges two things that our faith relies on or perhaps even is founded on, and one thing that can be use to wield power.

But Jesus instructed us to see for ourselves and read for ourselves. And his life is an example of old things being “fulfilled”, in other words, transformed and, in essence, ended.

Was Jesus a postmodernist for the Pharisees?

My own problems with Christianity always revolve around what most other people think is non-problematic and quite simple to understand. For instance, God is “unchanging.” Great. Very simple and very comforting. But what exactly is unchanging about God? His anger? His forgiveness? His love? His vengeance? His incorporeality? His promises? His covenants? His methods?

We really don’t know. We attribute what we like most, value most, and say that THAT is what is unchanging. But the fact is, from one individual to the next, God changes because we all project our understanding of God in exactly the same way that simple English vocabulary words change from one person to the next because they may understand the word in one sense more than in another sense.

Language has to be precise in order to be an effective tool. A dictionary helps us to define and understand our language, and helps us to use our language clearly.

God has no dictionary. He says so himself. Who can understand God? The Pope? Pat Robertson? George Bush? Elton John?

How therefore can we define God? How can we establish a “Webster Definition” of our faith?

Only through the writings of the past…writings that are products not of God’s revelation but rather each individuals perceptions and culture and subjective context.

Right?

Or has God revealed himself clearly enough to not be threatened by post-modernist questioning and inter-faith endeavors and scientifically enlightened 21st Centurians?

I don’t know.

And finally, if something is wrong, is it wrong all the time? There are at least two episodes in the Bible where God approves lying. So lying is not wrong all the time, apparently.

What about if smething is right, is it right all the time? Burnt offerings are right? Stoning adulteresses is right? Retaliation is right?

When you are married, you trust in your spouse’s love and devotion. What can change this?

Let’s say my wife loves scrambled eggs for breakfast. Can I ask her if she’d like an omelet once for a change? Would making waffles instead disrupt my marriage, or enrich it?

Examining the Catholic Church reveals that many things probably originated only because they were effective at one point in time and culture, but what happens when they are no longer effective? And why are they no longer effective?

Is it because we lack faith or are less spiritual or more sinful, or is it because we are growing and changing and organic?

As long as God remains silent, we have no choice but to speak and ask if we are to be honest and real in our belief or unbelief.

6:20 AM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

I think "post-moderns" don't just question religious revelation. They kind of question everything, including science. That said, you raise a good point. While there is rational, logical basis for belief in God, that belief neither tells us of his nature, nor supports similar logical certainty in basic, Christian dogma. Christianity is irrational. Faith, by biblical definition, is irrational. "Evidence of things not seen" etc.

Questions, therefore, are natural. And we can't supply sufficient answers, or I can't.

8:31 AM  

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