Wednesday, October 5, 2011

FRIENDS, NO MATTER THE REST.. note to Ed Fudge..October 5, 2011

Hi Edward. I've looked over some of your items below including Jay Gun's interpretive principles. Also I reviewed the OT portion of your lecture regarding eternal punishment. I will read the remainder but chose  to comment at this point. I wish I found some direct common ground but alas I find both  of your attempts to treat scripture disregarding its central  nature. And you seem  fully possessed with the  'assumption' that the ultimate Sacred is attempting to communicate directly to us in these writings far more than  any other ways of getting our attention. You are taking the poetic writings of the O.T. and seeking to apply them to the afterlife of humankind. You say these are 'not literal' but are 'images'  that will depict  eventual 'reality' or , at least , are not going to reflect the  opposite of the 'reality' .

All of this must have been far removed from whoever wrote these things?  They lived with a constant threat of strong economic/social  enemies who were out to kill them and they turned to their god image pleading for help and rescue. And they were glad to hear God say I'm going to take care of these 'wicked' ones and 'crush them to ashes and dust'  etc. etc. Surely it was the literal destruction of their very literal enemies that was the subject at hand?

What I suggest is that such material also reflects 'internal realities of the human psyche'  that the writer was not able to be aware of and to acknowledge. But you and I , not to brag but to just face the human situation as it more is and how it has changed, are capable of seeing these as images of the Collective Unconscious or ,from where to the ancients ,the voice of God was coming to them. The point that I make is that you sound like such' internal image' is not 'real' and it only serves the purpose of  showing us what is 'real' which I suppose means to you primarily  'material?' It seems to me that by then pushing this all to telling us about the 'after life' is even taking the 'after life' as a material like reality rather than one of spiritual existence.  Even the 'resurrected body' described in the gospel of John is not is like 'ghost' and passes through physical walls etc. I just find myself challenging each, what seems to me,  unnecessary  and unwarranted assumption you seem to make in order to get to where you are going( and maybe more importantly to preserve your conservative Bible assumptions at nearly all cost)....which by the way is where the more 'liberal' minded lovers of the Bible got to a very long time ago(regarding that humans likely need not believe  they may be so bad that they, or their evil acquaintances,  will literally be burned by God forever in Hell.) This has not been an  issue for many Americans for a very long time. I am happy the list of scholarly  'men' you show has now  joined this perspective.

 Edward, I hear you give lip service to 'images' and 'not literal' attitudes toward Biblical statements but I see you putting no 'real' value or 'skin in the game'  regarding such categories.  I don't hear you saying that such 'internal images' have much to do with spiritual life in and of themselves?  It is like everything, except the 'material' and 'thinking' aspects of life,  is only a means to the material end?  You are not willing to let the 'images' live for their own sake and to shape our hearts and souls. To me that is why I hear what is nearly totally an intellectual , a 'thinking 'activity( You  offer to directly address  only their 'minds' at the start.)  that insists on keeping the human locked into  the material , physical , thinking world where the Spirit should  ALSO be guiding and influencing us on an ongoing basis.

I must be clear  that on the other hand  I think  conservative Christian thought cuts us off from the earthly, material, worldly life by basically saying that to just connect to the material for the sake of the material and not to gain some Spiritual benefit is of no real and soulful value of its own self. So , your approach to the Bible material   loses me in both directions.... on the one hand your materialistic view of the Bible and the 'reality' purpose of its images block me from the natural world of the Spirit, my inner world.  And your withdrawing of Soul and Spirit  from the natural material world(definitely a Western Culture thing.) blocks me from what needs to be considered 'my home'  and my  'natural, to be fully embraced,  environment'

This last statement above, to me,  refers to something different than being  ' impressed by the beauty  and wonder of nature' and thus gushing praise onto a divine and perfect creator at special moments. It is rather  to continually be bathed and nurtured in the natural environment which is made to receive every possible projection that lives in every one of us through the Collective Unconscious. (Collective Unconscious, I think you are aware by my use, is  a post modern way to speak of the unexplainable and continuous presence of the Sacred Source, from whence all comes that is. It is  within,  throughout and beyond ourselves.  This can be our explanation of the source of  life's energy  the patterns that  guide  history's   purpose. It is the home of the archeytpes which bring all the meanings and patterns that live in nature and humanity. An example of such work from an activated  archetype is what the  early Christians described as  'The Christ'  experience. They used  their Hebrew  archetypal scriptures and the heroes of faith  to elaborate their image of The Christ. This then became a living symbol that  energized the whole Christian movement.) And  we are also called to be the creation's  caretakers and ones who make it a priority that all humans are able to experience equal access to the fruits of this ever bearing earth. These  tasks should not be seen as  implications or secondary meanings of Spiritual living but a part of its very heart, something that is nothing less than making love real in the world.

I also offer this paragraph from my recent blog  post called ,'Freeing The Soul From Fear.' 
   I think Sardello would be leading us to reexamine some of the basic suppositions we have inherited from orthodox Christianity. For example the mandate to ' love not the world' and the famous hymn ' This World Is Not My Home' I believe in our day have come to serve fear and to lead one into fear rather than helping them to be 'freed from it.'   Such mandates teach one to harden the ego 'against the evil of the world' which in turn tightens  and retracts one's soul and interferes with taking more seriously the Christian description that, 'God so loves the world' along with the Sacred verdict regarding creation, 'It is good.'  And we too stand in need of loving the world as an avenue to free our souls from fear. 

 I wish I could find more harmonies in these two views. I sincerely, and hopefully not condescendingly,  think the ones you have generally embraced and that you apply in the Hell discussion are more influenced by secular  historical culture( especially of the  past 300 years) than those that I find more fitting and comprehensive (and using your words reflecting  'The Character of God.') to the present situation. But I don't suspect you see it that way  at all. You likely  feel that in your very direct and intellectual use of the Bible you are appealing to the most ancient and deepest wisdom that is available.
I'm sure we do agree that it is 'wisdom' and the 'love' that spawns what we most want ourselves and others to be connected to and recipients of. That likely this alone can 'save' our nation and culture from  severe  on-coming consequences.  We are both from North Alabama and the Church of Christ heritage and we have  both taken trails that are significantly  different than the ones we first set out on. So I can agree to keep holding these things in common and as able to lovingly  transcend the differences  I refer to above. I'm still comfortable in our friendship with these supports.

Please know that I take  much delight in the reception and  appreciation your book about  Hell continues to receive.  I am heart-felt  glad for you. I guess I still have a sadness in me when ones I consider cherished friends are truly on a different path than myself. I need to get over that  kind of nostalgia and trust that is OK,  even  how it should and must be.

Brotherly, Jim

On Wed, 05 Oct 2011 03:59:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge



PIGTAIL HERMENEUTICS -- The New Testament was written nearly 2,000 years ago in a language and a culture far different from ours. How should we interpet it for application today? Some see no need to interpret. For example: Paul tells the Corinthians to eat at home -- presto! church kitchens are sinful today. However, this approach ignores the command's context (regarding behavior at the fellowship meal then connected to the Lord's Supper), its purpose (to correct the Corinthians' discriminatory conduct), and the fact that the Corinthians met in homes and did not own "church buildings." Others say we should follow commands that involve "eternal principles" but not temporary ones. But how do we tell the difference?
Jay Guin -- a gifted Bible teacher and Tuscaloosa, Ala., elder (as well as an attorney and prolific blogger) -- presents a different hermeneutical approach that seems to me more useful, workable and faithful to Scripture than either of the above, in an article he titles "Hermeneutics: Transculturality, Braided Hair and Pigtails?" Read it all here.

CONVERSATION WITH MATT DABBS -- The September 30 issue of "Kingdom Living," the blog of Matt Dabbs of St. Petersburg, Florida, includes a conversation between Matt and me about The Fire That Consumes. However, Matt's inquiries focus less on outward content and more on personal and internal details -- motives, reactions, expectations. I appreciate Matt's hospitality in including this in his blog. Read it all here.

LECTURE POWERPOINT ONLINE -- Now you can watch the slides to my September 24 Lanier Theological Library Lecture on "The Fire That Consumes" at no charge online. The 188-slide Power Point program is largely self-explanatory and is so detailed that it served as my teleprompter. To watch the slide program, click here, then use space bar or arrow key to advance slides. (For full-screen viewing, press F5 key. This is a read-only file.)

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