Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Little faith...

What do you do when your faith is at low tide? When prayer and/or scriptural meditation just don't dispel fear, doubt, or anxiety? When the words of Jesus "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" seem appropriate? I don't know about you but I listen to Bach. And not just any of his peaces but his organ fugues. For some reason that I can't articulate, Bach's fugues aren't just pieces of music for me they are descriptions of God's sublime majesty. And to my mind each is Bach's attempt to preach the gospel. Maybe one has to be a Christian to "get" this but I'm fairly certain that in all of Bach's organ music (even ones we might call secular, i.e not explicitly for worship) he was preaching to us through music.

It is a sorry state of affairs for Christians in the western world that we have so little sense of God's real presence -- the Holy Spirit -- in our lives. In former times we were very near the earth and all of its beauty and power (both good and ill) that getting in touch, spiritually speaking, was not so difficult. But not so much these days. Speaking of which, there is an interesting study by the Pew Forum on Religion and the Public Life that speaks about this issue, i.e. spiritual fulfilment, or lack thereof. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tradition and "The Purpose of Exegesis"

The appeal to tradition was actually and appeal to the mind of the church. It was assumed that the church had the knowledge and the understanding of the truth, that is, the meaning of the revelation. Accordingly, the church had both the competence and the authority to proclaim the gospel and to interpret it. This did not imply that the church was above the Scripture. She stood by the Scripture but, on the other hand, was not bound by its letter. The ultimate purpose of exegesis and interpretation was to elicit the meaning and the intent of the Holy Writ, or rather the meaning of the revelation, of the Heilsgeschichte. The church had to preach Christ, and not just the Scripture.

The use of tradition in the ancient church can be adequately understood only in the context of the actual use of the Scripture. The Word was kept alive in the church. It was reflected in her live and structure. Faith and life were organically intertwinded. -- Georges Florovsky, Chapter 8, "The Function of Tradition in the Ancient Church"; Eastern Orthodox Theology, Daniel B. Clendenin, ed. (Baker Books, 1995) (emphasis mine)

The highlighted text made me stand up straight when I read it this afternoon. It was one of those "whoa, did I just read that?" moments. That the ancient church was to preach Christ didn't surprised me. But Florovsky's bit about preaching Christ and not just Scripture had me interested. How much of what we do as Christians is just preaching Scripture in a rote fashion, out of context to what it was ultimately exposition for, namely Christ crucified and risen. Without it one can do all the proof-texting one wants and, with apologies to the Bard, "it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Theology and Basketball?

So I'm bemoaning the fact that my woebegone Timberwolves got screwed *again* in the NBA lottery (no surprise there as that team can't catch a break ever!) and I think "Well, let's see who they might draft with the crappy neither-here-nor-there 6th pick". So off to ESPN's web site I go. After reading a number of pages of stuff I have already read, I go to one of the ESPN blogs called TrueHoop. And scrolling down the page I was flabbergasted to read a short paragraph get this..a theology blog! And it was about the hot button issue of homosexuality to boot! Never, in a million years, would I have ever thought I would have read about theology on anything related to sports and certainly not anything related to ESPN. I mean, are you kidding me?! This was just too astounding not to check out. So, I did. The owner of said blog is Brad East, a theology student at Emory University, and a darn good blog it is. He has links to really top-shelf theologians like N.T. Wright, Stanley Hauerwas, Walter Bruggerman, Wendell Berry, Rowen Williams and G. K. Chesterton. That's a good list.

Anyway, I've read three or 4 posts and I like him already. I should be fun digging into all the posts on the site. Check it out.

Update: I forgot to mention that I have added Brad's blog to the RSS feed list on the right.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jesus or Dan Brown

Dan Brown's America

This is an interesting critique not only of Brown's novels (and the new movie based on his second), but about our generalized, fuzzy, DIY religiosity. I consider myself a moderately liberal Christian but I have to say that the older I get the more orthodoxy appeals to me. Maybe I'll spend some time unpacking that. But for now I commend this op-ed piece for your edification.