Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's 11/25 Post

Well, when you put that way (nicely phrased, by the way), I do not think we disagree on the outcome of transformation by God. You wrote: "This is what I take transformation to be about: not a willed surrender to a fixed way of being, but a surrender of the will as a prelude to a new and unprecedented way of being more fully filled with God and godliness. This transformation cannot be an act of the conditioned will, and must be the result of grace--the surrender of the will to God by God." We agree. Once again, we've bumped up against the limits of written conversation. Thanks for unpacking the matter.

As for Christians and anti-Semitism, I hope I did not overstate the case. The mindset the two of us bring to interpreting scriptures remains a minority mindset at the present time. I dare hope it is growing in influence and that it will be the majority mindset in the near future.

Humility coupled with love is the ultimate value for a God-oriented person. It's a safeguard (not infallible, but useful) against using texts to coerce others to accept our own agendas.

Yes, if we accept the idea that we must assign different values to various portions of scripture, we also must recognize that anyone can elevate a given text according to his or her personal perspective.

Classic convictions of our respective faith traditions may help guide us. For example, the earliest Christian confession of faith is "Jesus is Lord." That core confession draws us to pay attention first to the stories of Jesus, to try to understand and love and follow Jesus. This tends to lead us to judge other scriptures on the basis of Jesus. Christians who start with Revelation, violence-supportive Hebrew scriptures, or even the writings of Paul miss the mark. Jesus, from a Christian perspective, is the Great Corrective or Standard. It is possible to read Christian history as the story of how we Christians forget this is so, only to rediscover it.

Enjoy Thanksgiving. We'll pick up with the conversation next week.

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