Christian: adj.1. of Christ’s teaching or religion. 2. Believing in or following the religion of Jesus Christ. 3. Showing the qualities associated with Christ’s teaching. 4. Colloq. (of a person) kind, fair, decent. n. 1a. a person who has received Christian baptism. b. an adherent of Christ’s teaching. 2. A person exhibiting Christian qualities.
Rogue Christian: Rogue = adjective, Christian = noun"An non-indoctrinated adherent of Christ’s teaching, driven away or living apart from the church/community."
Living apart from traditional church has it's implications and complications. In addition to being a Rogue Christian it also makes me an Abbaian, a follower of the Father.
Abba: father, customary title used of God in prayer. Whenever it occurs in the New Testament it has the Greek interpretation joined to it, that is apparently to be explained by the fact that the Chaldee "ABBA" through frequent use in prayer, gradually acquired the nature of a most sacred proper name, to which the Greek speaking Jews added the name from their own tongue.1
-ian: suffix var. of –an. Forming adjectives and nouns, esp. from names of places, systems, zoological classes or orders, and founders.Abba + ian = Abbaian: Follower of the Way of God the Father.
As far as church membership goes, I am not a member of any local visible church or denomination (which is not to say I am not active within any local church or churches). Denominational background really doesn't apply. I consider myself a member of the Invisible Universal Church, which transcends denominations. I belong to a Postdenominational Christianity.
However, another implication is an apparent lack of doctrine. What's my views on soterology? Am I a Trinitarian ? Am I an Evangelical?
I am often asked, Calvinist or Armenian? Are those the only options? I find the question somewhat limiting. To be honest I agree with both and neither. I think - from a very simplified perspective - Calvinism and Armenianism are the same thing, but from two very different perspectives. If a man's life - from birth to death - were a movie, we would perceive it as an audience watches a movie. we're experiencing it as the movie "plays" or "flows" forward. However, from a divine point of view - from God's perspective - the movie reel is unrolled and the entire film, every static frame, is viewed at once. "Time" doesn't flow. For the occupants "in" the movie, choices and free will exists. From an omnipotent perspective, God can view the beginning, any and every choice made via free will, and the end and it's consequences, at once. Even though free will choices were legitimately made, God still knows their outcome.
I have a problem with predestination and God's chosen elite. It's the inverse implication that bothers me: We have a loving God who has also created people for damnation and without hope.
Some have told me I'm more Armenian because I do believe you can shipwreck your faith and lose your salvation. I don't think I really am Armenian though. You see, both Calvinism and Armenianism share their defaulted starting positions. In both, man is born in original sin, fallen and condemned. At some future point, salvation occurs. They differ on the point of whether that salvation is permanent or not.
Although I believe you can lose your salvation, I'm not convinced we begin in a default state of being "fallen" anymore and I'm not convinced we "accept" salvation but rather (potentially) choose to opt-out of it.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
The Darkly-Enlightened Brothers
Secular-Atheism and Fundamentalism were born from this forced erroneous dichotomy. Christian Fundamentalism was one byproduct of The Enlightenment. I believe the Evangelical is a child of Christian Fundamentalism.
Who are these “Enlightened”? Granted, there are two schools of thought (at least), but both are children of The Enlightenment. These two children are both The Darkly-Enlightened and it has become obvious (to me at least) that both are mistaken. Both schools of thought/belief (Secular-Atheism and Christian Fundamentalism) have been “enlightened” darkly.
A pastor friend of mine has suggested the possibility that the story of Jonah being swallowed by a fish for 3 days could possibly have been a parable or a metaphoric truth. Apparently some people in his congregation (including an elder) didn’t agree with even allowing this possibility. I suppose the argument might have been that since Jesus quotes or refers to Jonah it must be (literally) true (Mat. 12:40-41). Huh? I like quoting Harrison Ford as the President of the United States in Air Force One:
“Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but also the presence of justice.”
It is a great line and absolutely true, in spite of the fact that the movie is a work of fiction.
If we are going to go by this odd standard, than anything Jesus quotes, says as a parable, or refers to must be a literal-factual-historical truth. If this is the case, then there are some pretty big issues that must be re-addressed, because Jesus also quotes from books of the Apocrypha.
The Darkly-Enlightened are not going to dictate the criteria or boundaries of the truth to me. I do not accept their dichotomy of Secular-Atheism (Naturalism) or Christian Fundamentalism. I openly reject The Enlightenment’s (modernity’s) either/or-paradigm. I do not accept that Reason and Faith, & Science and Religion are incompatible!
I embrace the both/and-paradigm. Not only do I believe that Reason and Faith are indeed compatible, I believe they are necessary; the absence of one weakens and cripples the other.
It is interesting that some denominations lack mysticism. We all have natural facilities, innate abilities, or learned methods to help us seek, explore, and "experience" God. These are "methods" of man reaching out to God.
1.The Philosophical method (using our facilities of Reason and Logic)
2.The Academic method (using our facilities of Knowledge and Theology)
3.The Empirical method (using the scientific method)
4.The Mystical method (using our facilities of Creativity, Symbolism, and Imagination)
All of the above listed 4 “methods” are man searching or reaching out to God. There is a 5th, but it isn’t really a method and relies on absolutely none of our natural facilities. We cannot practice this 5th method nor do anything to improve it. But I’ll list it only to make this more complete. The 5th “method” is Revelation (through the “facility” of prophecy), but this isn’t man searching or reaching out to God. This is God reaching out to man.
The Darkly-Enlightened have crippled or outright killed the Empirical, the Philosophical, and the Mystical methods. If Reason and Science cannot be compatible with Faith and Religion, then little is left but the Academic and the Mystical. But if our facility of imagination is made synonymous with pretending, then the mystical experience is also lost. One of The Darkly-Enlightened brothers (Christian Fundamentalism) has embraced the Academic only, which I believe is manifested within most of Protestantism by Sola Scriptura (Scripture only). The other Darkly-Enlightened brother (Secular-Atheism) has laid claim to the Empirical only, which is manifested within modernity’s Naturalism. And both of these dark brothers make their warfare at the expense of all other methods, in essence blinding us and blocking our paths to God.
Catholicism is rich in the mystical. It is the reason why I’m looking more and more seriously into it. It is also right to assume that Orthodoxy is also rich with symbolism and powerful icons. These are not idols and for those who ‘write them off’ as idolatry and ignore them as such, a rich source of powerful spiritual ‘connectiveness’ is lost – deliberately abandoned.
When this Mysticism is used at the abandonment of other methods, it crosses the line between Imagination into pretending or the “make believe”. The Pentecostal’s regular and necessary use of Speaking in Tongues, I feel, is a perfect example of this. Tongues used regularly and by necessity are pretending and make believe.
When the Empirical is used at the abandonment of other methods, you get results like Young Earth Creationism (at the expense of established science), or, the other side of the coin, a sort of Richard Dawkinian-Evolutionism (atheism)(and you’ll notice I didn’t say Darwinian).
When the Philosophic is used at the abandonment of the other methods you get results like the Greek Stoics. God has become abstract and disconnected. God becomes some supernatural entity “out there”, detached and indifferent - a Clockmaker God. There is no “presence” within our world, our lives, nature, our services, churches, or masses. God has become an abstract.
When the Academic is used at the abandonment of other methods you ultimately get Fundamentalism and Biblical-Literalists. Father John Whiteford, of the Orthodox faith, has this to say about the problem with Sola Scriptura:
"An assumption is something that we take for granted from the outset, usually quite unconsciously. As long as an assumption is a valid one, all is fine and well; but a false assumption inevitably leads to false conclusions. One would hope that even when one has made an unconscious assumption that when his conclusions are proven faulty he would then ask himself where his underlying error lay. Protestants who are willing to honestly assess the current state of the Protestant world, must ask themselves why, if Protestantism and its foundational teaching of Sola Scriptura are of God, has it resulted in over twenty-thousand differing groups that cant agree on basic aspects of what the Bible says, or what it even means to be a Christian? Why (if the Bible is sufficient apart from Holy Tradition) can a Baptist, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Charismatic, and a Methodist all claim to believe what the Bible says and yet no two of them agree what it is that the Bible says? Obviously, here is a situation in which Protestants have found themselves that is wrong by any stretch or measure. Unfortunately, most Protestants are willing to blame this sad state of affairs on almost anything — anything except the root problem. The idea of Sola Scriptura is so foundational to Protestantism that to them it is tantamount to denying God to question it, but as our Lord said, "every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a bad tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (Matthew 7:17). If we judge Sola Scriptura by its fruit then we are left with no other conclusion than that this tree needs to be "hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matthew 7:19)."
If allowed to run to its natural conclusion you end up with a belief-system that puts the bible in its center and not God. This is biblio-idolatry.
In short, not only do we have a great deal to gain and learn from one another, only collectively do we have the keys to God. Only through unity do we have any hope to combat the devestating effects of the Darkly-Enlightened Brothers.