Friday, July 6, 2007

review 2--a different kind of christian

Chapter 3 is short, but pretty full. It consist mostly of a few of Dan's journal entries between meetings with Neo.

In the first entry, we have Dan musing about how "all of our theologies (at least, all of our Roman Catholic and Protestant ones) are basically modern, having been created in a modern world". He acknowledges that those in those traditions would disagree, but still thinks he has a point.

I can't help but think that his claims are a bit of a reach, even granting that being 'modern' necessarily means being 'wrong' (which I don't). I cannot say much about his claims concerning Catholicism, being an outsider to their thoughts, but I can say a bit about what he says concerning Protestantism, "But can't we agee that the way they read the Bible, the way they feel the need to put a sola in front of scriptura, the way they follow the New Testament may possibly themselves be modern ways?"

For one thing, this is all vague, except maybe for the the sola scripture part. Here is a definition of sola scriptura from Wikipedia, "Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the assertion that the Bible as God's written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine."

I guess I would ask what is necessarily 'modern' about this? Looking at the list of modern-era characteristics, what ones would this fit under? I suppose it could be analytical, either in itself or a product of analysis. But then, I don't think that analysis is something that can be put only in the modern era. It isn't secular at all. It may be about control, but only in the sense in which the creeds, some of which predate it by centuries, are about control. It would be about criticism in the same ways. I suppose it is Protestant, but that is because it is one thing that defines Protestantism.

So, I do not think that I am forced to agree with Dan (or by extention, Mclaren) that sola scriptura is a 'modern' concept that should be open to being discarded. I would say that one must look that scriptural support for the idea to determine if it is sound or not. Which leads to what I would contend should be the main questions--not if something is modern or postmodern, but if it is scriptural or not.

Dan's second entry is rather convoluted. That's not a criticism. He does try to remind himself that modernism is not bad and postmoderism good, but when it comes to trying to make judgments about postmodern thought, he does say that it may be centuries from now when we'll be able to truly see the fatal flaws of postmodernism.

I have to wonder--can we allow ourselves such a lax attitude? If the understanding of Scripture is of the first importance, then can we really wait for several more generations before we can correctly critique a mode of thinking that is already making reality claims?

He says it isn't about good vs. bad, but appropriate vs. inappropriate, but then also wonders if that is all, with the idea that he may be "underemphasizing the ways that modernity twisted and deformed the Christian message". But again we are not given any insight into what these twistings and deformings may be, nor has he seemed to (yet) ask if postmodernism may be twisting and deforming the Christian message. There seems to be an assumption that modernity did the twisting and deforming and the postmodernity is doing the straightening.

Which leads back to the appropriate vs. inappropraite thing. He appeals to Paul's statement that he has 'become all things to all people', so as to win some. I suppose it may be said that even those 'all things' Paul became had its limits--I doubt that Paul became a thief in order to win theives, or a sexual pervert in order to win the sexual perverts of his age. I would contend that in becoming those 'all things', Paul first had to determine if those things were first good things, or not. In order to determine appropriate vs. inappropriate, we must first determine good vs. bad. Only when something has been determined to be good, can we ask if it is appropriate.

The next entry has to do with how Dan claims we think of the statement "God is in control". He says that we see it in a mechanistic way, and that this is a modern way of see it, not how the people of biblical times did.

It's not a completely incorrect idea, but it depends on if we really see God's control in only mechanistic ways. Perhaps there are people who do, or have at least used mechanistic analogies, like the watch and watchmaker, to help explain God's control. My own experiences may be different from Mclarens, but I have never had a mechanistic-only view of God's control. I have been taught that God is King, Lord, ruler of heaven and earth. In that sense, even if I have never been under an earthly monarch, I think that my perceptions of God's control are more like Dan says that of those in ancient times was, even if my understanding of it is in a sense second-hand, unlike theirs.

This is getting long, so I'll end this entry here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very well

information you write it very clean. I'm very lucky to get this information from you.