Thursday, December 20, 2007

taking God off the throne, part 2

This is a sort of continuation (because I refuse to call it a sequel:-) (it could be worse--I could call it prequel:-) of the entry from a few days ago, the "knocking God from the throne" (assuming I'm remembering the name correctly) (I need to lay off the parentheses, don't I) one.

Gnosticism in the Mainline

Theologian David Miller had already made the implications clear in 1974:
…the announcement of the death of God [is] the obituary of a useless single-minded and one-dimensional norm of a civilization that has been predominantly monotheistic, not only in its religion, but also in its politics, its history, its social order, its ethics, and its psychology.

Miller went on to prophesy: "When released from the tyrannical imperialism of monotheism by the death of God, man has the opportunity of discovering new dimensions hidden in the depths of reality's history." At the funeral of the God, Miller announced the rebirth [of the spirituality] of gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome.

One of the things that first struck was the use of "the death of God" rhetoric, which is has in common with Caputo rhetoric (and with Nietzche, if that tells us anything). Also, Miller's statement above deal with effect of the "death of God" idea outside of just religion, as does Caputo with the "coming Democracy" idea.

Peter Jones, the author of the article linked to above, deals mostly with gnosticism and its influence, especially in regards to such "death of God" ideas. I'll leave much of it to you to read (and I do recommend it) and only point out a few things.

Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar, and promoter to "canonical status" of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, enthusiastically adopts the radical program of Bishop Spong. Ominously, the next project of the Jesus Seminar is "The Mythical Matrix & God as Metaphor." Says Funk: "We are discussing the future of God, so to speak." With what happened to Jesus, one shudders to think what the Jesus Seminar, with its self-declared unbiased objectivity [!], will do to God.

However, modern "Christian" Gnosticism has not quite yet finished with Jesus. Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, authors of The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? deny that Jesus ever existed. Far from being turned off from Christianity by their research, Freke and Gandy say their premise actually strengthened their faith. "What we've discovered is that the message of original Christianity was…about, for the original Christians, becoming a Christ oneself. This leads them to conclude that the Gnostics were the original Christians. Their book has been remarkably well-received, reaching bestseller status in the United Kingdom, garnering at least one "Book of the Year" award, and receiving support from…John Shelby Spong!

More things that are kind of familiar. Not counting "Christianity must stop being Christian" Spong, of course.

Myth and metaphor, for example. There was something I read a few days ago, actually here...

Chris Elrod: TRUTH Wins

...where the discussion went into areas of seeing the story of Jesus as "myth", a "pre-easter" and "post-easter" Jesus.

I realize first off that C.S. Lewis used 'myth' in his writings about Christianity and the story of Jesus, but with him we have an explanation. His view seemed to be that Christ was a mythical type of story that also happened in real life. He took the biblical account of Christ's life serious and seemed to view it as true history, what really happened.

What "mythic" seemed to mean in the discussion above is this, from one of the replies...

The stories are myths, but the man is real. The stories convey truth about the man, but they were never meant to be “impeccably reliable historical records”.

...which seems to be very different from what I remember of Lewis. This view really does seem to see the biblical account as being 'myth', and not necessarily historically true.

I have no further comment about that for now, only to show an example, and a recent one, of the use of myth in regards to the Bible.

In the connections with paganism, I don't understand it as much as Jones seems to. I don't know if some who are advocating for this weak view of God are directly trying to bring in some new brand of paganism, although gnosticism isn't too much of a stretch, I think.

At any rate, dealing only with the ideas as they are, they are disturbing enough.

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