Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let's Not and Say We Did

From We Make the Road by Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire page 29:

(A missonary came in)... who was telling how many souls he saved in africa and i was impressed with that. i thought that was great, saving souls, until he says the ones that i didn't save are going to hell. i said wait a minute. somethings wrong with this kind of thinking. he said if they're told about christ and don't accept him, then they go to hell but if they aren't told, they don't go to hell because they aren't responsible. so i did a little mental arithmetic, at which i was very poor but good enough for this purpose, and figured out how many people he was damning to hell.

The more i thought about that the more incensed i got at this whole procedure, damning these people to hell. The missionary had a discussion period and all these people were asking theological questions. So i asked him an arithmatic question. I asked, "How many people have you sent to hell? According to your analysis, for every person you've saved, you've sent hundreds to hell. Why, wouldn't it have been better if you'd stayed home, there'd be more people in heaven if you had stated home?"

Well, the people were furious.


This book is the coolest! Go out and get it! Anyone who is a teacher, knows a teacher, or has ever been taught by a teacher! great read!

i was once like this missionary. from ages 12-16 i was very zealous and fundie in my doctrine. hard to believe now, but i believe this was out of my fear and ignorance of the world outside my catholic, smalltown context.

over the past few months i've been in a convo with a guy who still holds the fundie doctine. due to my christian leanings of "witnessing" and also thinking of my own faith journey, i thought that this dialogue would show ignorance and fear and maybe get this guy to convert, or at the very least, check out something outside of where he was looking.

the convo lasted until kate read it and found that this wasn't a dialogue at all but a pissing match. it was as if i was talking to a wall. him as well! i'm not blameless here either! it was an air of "screw the facts, my mind is made up!" on either side. i saw him as an ignorant fundie who just didn't know better and he saw me as a know-it-all agnostic who is trying to be a christian. well i'm a christian, i know that. as for a know-it-all, i hope i don't come across that way on here.. i'm just sharing cool stuff i've learned here. i'm still very much struggle'n and learning and always will be!

this convo proved fruitful however. i've learned a lot and here are some lessons i hope to share:

1. never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups reading books by authors designed to get stupid people to buy them and make a profit. Ann Coulter, James Dobson, and Richard Dawkins come to mind.

2. ignorant ppl will stay ignorant no matter how many book recommendations you make.

3. i'm a fundie as well... that's right, i've said it! i'm very much a fundamentalist.. with a twist on the word of course. i believe that you should love God, your neighbor and yourself, period. you fundamentally don't have to be christian to do this. if you are currently doing this in a non-christian capacity, you're covered.

How does this work biblically?
jesus said he was the way the way, the truth, and the life. can't get to the Father without him. if you're jewish and worshipping the Father, and jesus and the father are infact one and the same, you're covered.

if you're on the WAY of loving God, neighbor or self and think God is called Allah/Shiva/or even think God is within or in others, you're covered since THE WAY and jesus are one and the same.

if you're alive and jesus is THE LIFE then you're covered if you're following said love of God, neighbor, self.

when you boil my beliefs down, this is what it is. very simplistic, just like me ;-). my fundamental creed. the rest is just doctrine.


Anonymous said...

What about atheists?

Anonymous said...

Hey Luke and anonymous,

First anonymous. Aethist is hard, but not impossible to wrestle with theologically. Let me say, I've been there -- and for good reasons. People who preach a gospel of judgment, hate, and ignorance pushed me there. OK, I let them push me there. I really thought that for every fundie lie I decoded, I had one on them. I was superior, smarter, they were just fools. Hmmm.... I think I might have been a bit judgmental myself.

OK, so about aetheists going to heaven. Well, if an aetheist lives an ethical life of loving neighbors, not exploiting them -- maybe. More likely than a judgmental scumbucket who speaks for Christ, thereby missing Christ's call not to judge (mite in the eye metaphor). Or uses Christ's name to exploit neighbors, I think so. Lest I judge, I don't know. But I know that people should not worship Christ, Yahweh, Buddah, Allah out of fear, but love. If you worship love, human goodness, then you are better off -- as far as I can tell -- than someone who uses God to justify their horrible acts of murder, theft, rape, etc...
Peace, Jim

Luke said...

to Anonymous: two out of three ain't bad.. if the said atheist is doing the neighbor and self part then in my mind that automatically loves God. God would always put Godself last anyway. if God is love, and you're a loving person, then you're a Godly person. the rest is just doctrine.

Anonymous said...

The Fundamentals or The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth edited by Reuben Archer Torrey is a set of four volumes of essays published in 1917 by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. They were designed to affirm orthodox Protestant beliefs and defend against ideas deemed inimical to them, namely higher criticism, liberal theology, Catholicism (also called by them Romanism), socialism, modern philosophy, atheism, Christian Science, Mormonism, Spiritualism, and evolutionism (an article by geologist George Frederick Wright).

They held certain principles as important as well, mainly The Inerrancy of Scripture, The Virgin Birth of Jesus, The Substitutionary Atonement of Christ, Christ’s bodily resurrection, and the Historicity of The Miracles. These were reaffirmed in 1916 and again in 1923. Another version put the Deity of Christ in place of the Virgin Birth.

My point is that you cannot truly call yourself a fundamentalist unless you subscribe to these tenents. These are what historically pass for what you label a "fundie."

Luke said...

you're correct that the fundamentalists were struggle'n for power against a new naturalistic religion that they feel had crept into the churches. they still feel this.. but i don't get it. what's wrong with a natural religion? why do we want to feel alienated from God? it feels as though this is almost a prerequisite in the fundie circle as i keep hearing "religion is not a natural thing." i argue that if this were true, then we'd never find cavemen or neanderthals buried with their tools and ordimentation.

and no, i don't subscribe at all to those tenants. my only tenants are love of God, neighbor, and self. I guess you could call this a three-point fundamentalism.

Anonymous said...

Post-modern Christianity falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking. It is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward. Are these things good? Sure. Are these things bad? Sure. It all depends on how far from biblical Truth each reaction against modernity takes one's faith. This, of course, is up to each believer. However, when groups form together under such thinking, theology and doctrine tends to lean more towards liberalism.

For example, because experience is valued more highly than reason, truth becomes relative. This opens up all kinds of problems, as this lessens the standard that the Bible contains absolute truth, and even disqualifies biblical truth as absolute in many cases. If the Bible is not our source for absolute truth, and personal experience is allowed to define and interpret what truth actually is, a saving faith in Jesus Christ is rendered meaningless.

Luke said...

i disagree with you whole-heartedly on the absolute truth deal. when listening to or reading the bible, i'd say listen FOR the word of God, not TO it.

is there such thing as truth? you betcha. notice it's a lower-case "t." i think there are absolute truths out there in the form of archtypes, but the expression of these truths differ from person to person within their context.

is this scary? sure! does it allow for more freedom? yup! not only freedom for us, but freedom for God as well. In this mindset we notice that there is no such thing as secular as well as no such thing as coincidence. this life style is praying without ceasing.

Anonymous said...

Yet, we need to be ever mindful of Acts 17:11 and be like the Bereans: weighing every new teaching, every new thought, against Scripture. We don't let our experiences interpret Scripture for us, but as we change and conform ourselves to Christ we interpret our experiences according to Scripture.

Luke said...

it's more of a dialogue. there are some passages that the only way i get ANY meaning out of them in the plain sense is letting my experience interpret.

on a good day, it's the other way around. but it's about the dialogue between us and scripture that matters.

Anonymous said...

I just don't like the fact that you have no systematic theology here. What do you mean it's all "just doctrine?!" Doctrine is the key here!

Luke said...

wow.. systematic theology, i'm dealing with a learned person here! even though i don't know who you is... let me know if you can, i like discussions with those whose name i know..

as for doctrine.. i'm suspicious of that. being raised catholic where doctrine is VERY much the key, i'm suspicious of doctrines and systems. these are flawed as they are man-made concepts and constructs. it'd be one thing if it were straight from God, but i don't think the Bible fell directly from the sky and nor do these systems. in my mind they are just words on paper. much like this blog!! however our intution is from God! so that's what i try operate on. try to tap into the ever transmitting transcendent.

as for systematic theology.. i guess i'm closest to process or a Non-dogmatic theology AKA Weak theology.

Weak theology is weak because it takes a non-dogmatic, perspectival approach to theology. proponents of weak theology believe that dominant contemporary explications of theology are inherently ideological, totalizing, and militant. in response, weak theology expresses itself through acts of interpretation.

Weak theology emphasizes the responsibility of humans to act in this world here and now. because God is thought of as weak and as a call, weak theology places an emphasis on the "weak" human virtues of forgiveness, hospitality, openness, and receptivity. In each of these virtues, a metaphoric "power of powerlessness" is at work.

please see my posts on process theology for more. thanks for your comments!

Anonymous said...

You say you hold no doctrine, yet here you are saying you believe in Weak Theology. Isn't that a contradiction?

Plus you never touched on whether or not postmodern thought renders a saving faith in Jesus Christ meaningless.

I've followed your other posts, but this one I'm not buying.

Luke said...

oh dear anonymous reader you misread my intent of this whole venture! i don't want consensus, just dialogue! you can disagree with me whenever and i want you to feel free to!

for the contradiction: “The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.” Oscar Wilde.

for the Jesus concern: i don't see postmodern thought doing anything but bringing in Jesus' teachings to all aspects of life. it's main concern is with the message of Jesus not the historical figure. pomo says that we tend to focus worshipping the Messenger as Divine where it was the Message that really was. you might not see it this way, but that only enriches the dialogue.

Anonymous said...

You believe that there is a heaven?

You believe that there are other ways to achieve heaven than Christ?

I just do not get this at all.

Luke said...

Heaven... it's a nice idea, but it's not the point of this life. i'm not afraid of dying because there is this feeling... i can't explain. you can't measure it. i has to do with my dreams, experience, and noticing of "coincidence." if there is a heaven, great! i don't know what it's like, but i can only hope. Jesus said he goes ahead to prepare a place for us in his Father's house. that's all i need to know.

Will everyone go to heaven? If God is all loving, then sure! But i'd think it'd be a lot like "what dreams may come" because just because God forgives us, doesn't mean we forgive ourselves.

Other ways to achieve heaven than christ? sure! then again, i'm not even sure there's a heaven...

my focus is not heaven at all but the here and now. that brings on a whole other interpretation of what salvation means. salvation is KNOWING that no one out there is going to save you. no system, no belief, no person is going to save you. putting your beliefs into action will save you! a righteous person then is someone who does what he or she says. Jesus not only had a divine message, he backed it up with his actions, ergo making himself divine as well. that's the point for me. believing in Jesus and heaven is nice, but actually acting out heaven on earth is divine and in and of itself salvific.

i'm not doing good things with the intent to go to heaven. i'm not one to do things just to get rewarded. i do good because it's good. being a christian helps me do good.