Monday, April 7, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's 4-7-08 Posting

Yes, both of us reflect our respective cultural conditioning. My own tradition tends to practice a highly personal form of Christianity. Personal piety, of course, has deep roots in the Christian tradition. My faith journey (note: personal language again!) has led me to expand my range to include social/community matters. I have not felt it necessary to drop the personal dimension. In fact, I find the personal fuels the global, rather than vice versa.

Clearly the example of slavery rang your bell. We've been over this ground in previous postings. The two of us operate from different postulates with regard to the nature of God and the scriptures. I rather doubt we will change one another's minds. On the basis of my postulates (see earlier postings), I indeed can say that the promotion of slavery was a misuse of scripture and of the name of God. Given your postulates, you can not. Both of us seek a place on which to stand and evaluate the relative merit of a given piece of scripture. We've simply found different places. Hopefully our readers will find this interesting. Perhaps some of them will suggest a third or fourth option.

In my last posting I indicated more might be said about possible personal applications of the commandment. Over the course of my pastoral ministry I've encountered cases in which God's name was invoked to justify spouse abuse, self-abuse, turning away from the poor, obviously unjust war, church cliques battling to the death over worship styles, and religious leaders destroying the reputations or careers of theological rivals.

Pastoral ministry often consists of exposing such misuse of God's name, so that we might begin to address root cause(s). Helping someone come to confess that he or she has been misusing God's name is often a necessary first step toward their growing into responsible, faithful adults. In short, the Third Commandment is now an important component of my pastoral care tool box.

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