Sunday, November 6, 2011

'TRUE CHURCH' & 'TRUE GOSPEL'...November 6, 2011..note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward(Edward's most recent essay is below.) I hope you and yours are doing well, also that your health is holding up well. I still hear  in these orthodox statements a kind of liturgy tone that feels to me separated from actual experience of its astounding proclamations.  It feels like a 'belief of precepts' rather than a trust in personal religious experience. It feels very much 'handed down',  as orthodoxy by definition always must be. I also hear at bottom a great separation and difference in God and Human. This is described as a great separation that is only overcome  by 'believing something irrational  we are told at a rational level' rather than something  that is experienced in actual inner life. You are careful to exaggerate this with ' God is God and We are not.'  It sounds  you  are in  judgement of anyone who experiences and 'sees'  this differently,  even  who 'sees' in the gospels  a  much more mutual and dependent connection between God and Human, as being filled with pride and having a wish to deny ones mortality. And that this differing viewpoint is an indication of an unwillingness to  accept 'what we are' compared to 'who He is'  which becomes the sole 'reason' there is presumed such a dissonance between God and Human. Also that until a moment in relatively recent history we humans  were not even  really 'children of God'.  Speaking for myself who does hold to some of these 'dispositions' you negatively judge I think you totally miss the actual emotion,intent,  heart and context for  what is a far more mutual/dependent/cooperative/empathic connection with the Sacred.
Which Church To Choose?
It need  not be rebellion toward God, prideful or egotistic as you suggest. Why do you find it necessary to draw a sharp line of difference between such things as genuine 'self improvement' and the 'good news' seen in Jesus' story? This is another instance of teaching that is driven to divide and separate things that should be seen as wholly united and of the same cloth. And I think you know I do not highly value efforts at only 'positive thinking' that are divided from  'true to reality' thinking and the acceptance of the  'negative' that is a part of life's reality.

The Jesus story and how I interpret it has helped and pushed me toward a kind of now unorthodox view of the God- Human relationship. I see little accommodation  for this view  is your orthodox liturgical  statements of the meaning of Jesus and the gospel. That is sad to me for my  hard found views of all this  have been a  blessing to me and given me a  more whole and connected world view than I had in earlier days.  I see this as a sign of healthy religion and religion serving its greater legitimate purpose ... to  show us  how  all is united and made whole rather than  accepting  humanity's present divided and isolated condition. I know you say that  Jesus' life and work  is how and only how things are  brought together and reconciled. But by making this a one and only  outside intervention of God  and one that can only happen with 'correct words and images related to Jesus' orthodoxy actually keeps the divisions intact and only offers an extremely narrow way for humans  to experience these 'walls of partition' being transcended.  I do not protest Jesus' statement that the 'way to life is narrow' but I hardly think that the arbitrary rules of any mass orthodoxy is what he was speaking of but something quite contrary to that. This is not how  the separation of  human friends is transcended and I'm persuaded  it is also not the way that  any perceived division between God and Human is transcended.  Orthodoxy insists upon a hierarchy of power and love and I believe tosses out the actual 'good news' that the God-Human relationship, like our earthly ones, is ultimately  based on mutuality/dependence/cooperation  of both power and love from both parties. That seems to be the best I can say it. This is now what I understand my long trouble with orthodoxy, and its underlying foundation of  unilateral 'atonement',  to be based in: hierarchy vs mutuality, privilege vs respect, obedience vs cooperation. In each case I think the Sacred is saying, latent in scripture and in present day human experience,  that the time has come  for the latter of these to transcend the former.  I now have 150 posts on the blog. This is a rather complete description of my  viewpoints and where they came from. I believe I may be done with what is appropriate to put on such a public venue.   Blessings always Edward, Jim 

P.S.  I appreciate the limitations you place on the importance and place  of the church. I see you breaking with some deep orthodoxy on that point. I  make no judgment on this church and neither do I rule out  it can be a strong center for what is genuinely Christlike.  I  hold out the possibility that sometimes to break with destructive orthodoxy while being faithful to the story that inspired it, it becomes necessary to use words and images that , to the orthodox mind, seem like a departure from faith. What this church is doing may help people to be in closer  contact to the Spirit of Jesus than  some church who brandishes Jesus'  name along with  conventional words and  constructs of orthodox  Christianity. We are right to know  we can't make that judgment.  Jesus said , 'whoever is not against him is for him' and I don't think he meant that with any less force than it sounds.  I think he was pointing out that  no  agreed on orthodoxy can ever describe what is genuinely godly. Spirit always transcends rational efforts to define faith and godliness.  The proof of such  must always be 'in the pudding.'  And some pudding takes longer to set than we have the patience for.  I wonder if  you gave this reader that much freedom and responsibility* which I think every human needs to find.  In short, making 'litmus tests' for what is in harmony with the Spirit is a dangerous and unnecessary human activity.

*The reader may find blog post Responsible Human Freedom a good read for this general topic.
On Sun, 06 Nov 2011 03:59:00 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

There is a church in my town which features inspirational speakers, although they never mention sin or salvation through Jesus Christ. Sometimes they seem to say that we are actually gods. What, someone asks, do I think of that?
* * *
The Bible informs us that there is one true God, who made all that exists, including our own human kind. Nature is not God and neither are we. We are mortal, dependent creatures, who exist at God's will, through his power and by his grace. Although we consist of earthly elements, we bear the divine image. Yet from Adam forward, we humans have denied our mortal limitations and coveted the place of God. Like the mythological Icarus, who shaped wings of wax in order to fly, then perished when his wings melted as he flew too close to the sun, the destruction that inevitably follows pride finally underlines the unyielding mortality which is our true lot. God is God, and we are not.
John's Gospel tells us that the divine Word became flesh and lived among us in the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus, God became a human mother's baby, to make us humans children of God. In him, Life was put to death, to destroy Death itself and to give us dying people life. In the risen and ascended Jesus of Nazareth, the dust of the earth sits on the throne of the universe. By acknowledging what we are and who he is -- and building our lives on those truths -- we can become more than we yet have been but all that God intended for us to be.
The church you mention probably has many good things to say. Its messages likely encourage people to strive for excellence, offer a lift during times of discouragement and stimulate self-improvement through positive thinking. Those are worthwhile goals. But they are not what Jesus is about, and they ought not to be confused with the Christian gospel. This church has a right to do its own thing, but it misleads the public if it claims to be Christian or to teach the message of the Bible.

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