Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's 11/19 Post

Actually, I think we're very nearly agreed about our capacity to separate feelings from actions. Confrontation versus controlling, raising questions, learning to see new possibilities, the opportunity for new feelings to develop, the realization that all life is interdependent--we're on the same page. We differ, I think, in that I harbor an additional hope: transformation by the power of God. The difference, of course, roots in our individual understanding of God.

Anti-Semitism is the core sin of the Christian movement. You're right. It's embedded in the background perspective of Christianity's scriptures, and Christians (across the centuries)bear responsiblity for failing to deal with the matter. Refreshingly, many Christian scholars now take the historical context of the New Testament's development seriously. The "Emergent Church" movement does as well. Over the next few decades, I expect such a perspective to become the majority viewpoint among American Christians.

Our discussion of "the dark side" of God seems to have two different threads. On the one hand, the bible stories you mention depict God as the source of various evils, always in the service of some so-called larger purpose. If we read the Bible as a flat text, that is with all parts having the same value and validity, we have no choice but to assign responsibility to God.

The alternative is to assign greater and corrective value to some texts. Many of us in Christianity insist on evaluating all biblical texts in light of what we think we know of God as revealed in Jesus. On that basis, we reject any theology that requires God to endorse genocide, murder, and the like.

All of which to leads to another point, one you put well: "...God and theology are not the same thing." You're right.

We cannot rid ourselves of theology. So long as we think and feel, we will construct theologies. That being said, Christians would do well to focus on the stories of Jesus. When we do so, we find most classic theologies challenged at many points. The example you cite (the significance of the cross) is a prime example. When I take Jesus seriously, I see in the cross and resurrection a declaration of God's boundless love for all people, a love which cannot ultimately be defeated. When we see, admit and accept this love, we are increasingly free to attempt to practice such love ourselves.

We've covered a great deal of ground in a few short paragraphs. If there's more to be said, have at it. Otherwise I'll plunge into the next text.

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