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Aug 26, 2005

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will spotts

Very interesting analysis.

A couple of observations:

the liberal approach is the same as theosophy. (i.e. It tends to emphasize the various commonalities in the religions). Theosophy is the same (on most points) as both Gnosticism and ancient paganism (as practiced by the enlightened elite -- not the masses). (This about paganism was demonstrated to me recently at the site in Bath, England -- it was very clear that the notion was that there was one "divine", and the "gods" and "goddesses" respesented either aspects of the "divine" or manifestations of some kind.)

The liberal approach may not recognize this -- and may focus on the various political emphases of its practitioners, but the underlying premise is the same -- right down to the need for an elite to be able to sift the nuances and hold the secret keys to understanding the text.

Though I have more in common with the conservative side, I have to admit, an element of logical self-contradiction enters the picture. If, as is central to the conservative approach, Scripture is to be viewed as the word of God written -- or some similar formulation -- and if this is God's revelation, and therefore, trumps all naturalistic concerns -- then why systematize it? As a Presbyterian I shock myself -- but why might Calvin write Institutes? IF THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WRITTEN WORD, then God intended it to resist systematization. Otherwise, He would have written the Institutes instead. In fact, I'm convinced that there are things deliberately included in the Bible to frustrate our logical understandings. Not that God wants obscurity -- but God does seem to want us not to rely on our own cleverness and "understanding". ("Lean not on thine own understanding"?). This applies to any of our unifying principals.

That said, I do tend to find Reformed thinking pleasing for its logical coherence, and I do find it to be a fairly faithful representation of what the Bible teaches. However, it is incomplete, and passing a test on this theology is not a (ironically enough, works based) prerequisite for salvation.

I'm also not arguing against theology -- just against our over-attachment to our own schemata. We are certainly able to understand what God intends us to understand about himself. We are not, however, able to comprehend God.

Michael W. Kruse

"As a Presbyterian I shock myself -- but why might Calvin write Institutes? IF THE BIBLE IS GOD'S WRITTEN WORD, then God intended it to resist systematization. Otherwise, He would have written the Institutes instead."

Exactly! Well said. Thanks.

I think systematic theology plays an important role in our faith but it is incomplete. I think that is what the Emergent folks are striving to understand.

I would also add here that the term "post-modern Christian" can be taken in two ways. First, as a Christian who has completely embraced postmodern philosophy. Second, as a Christian living in an age of postmodernism. I see myself as the latter and I think many Emergent types would say the same.

We inherit some good stuff from Modernism but there is also some very unhelp stuff. Postmodernism brings some much needed correction but brings its own baggage as well. As a disciple of Jesus, being salt in the world, I want to keep the best of both and discard the worst of both.

I will have more to say in some posts in about a week or so on this topic. Thanks again for some great observtions.

will spotts

"I would also add here that the term "post-modern Christian" can be taken in two ways. First, as a Christian who has completely embraced postmodern philosophy. Second, as a Christian living in an age of postmodernism. I see myself as the latter and I think many Emergent types would say the same."


This is a very good point. I think the first is the issue I have more problems with. There seems to be a great gulf fixed between what Christianity teaches and what post-modern philosophy embraces. Then there is the difference between academic philosphy and working philosophy. I think the second definition applies more to trying to respond to this "working philosphy".

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