Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SALVATION BY FACT & BLACK SWAN January 11, 2011, note to Edward Fudge

Edward, to say that our assurance of  God is primarily  based on 'fact'  seems to me to undercut the whole 'religious' and 'spiritual' aspect of the God-Human encounter. 'Salvation'  has to do with for sure  'faith' and  it also is congruent and in part rests on  'feeling.' But it has nothing foundationally to do with 'fact' if used in the objective  'physical verification'  of outer reality  or 'authoritative pronouncements' regarding the 'inner  world' by outer authority. Your example supports of these kinds of facts as the basic of spiritual faith.. My faith in a bridge or even my doctor are hardly to be compared to my faith in the Sacred. They are very different indeed. Your model makes them the same, a matter of  ever accumulating physical evidence, which certainly has its place in the physical world. You are far more a scientist  and materialist with this approach to faith than a spiritualist. I too use that part of my brain capacity to 'describe' my faith but not to receive it.
Painting Reflecting  The Salvation Experience
It is received with the heart and described with the head. These are two very different functions of the human psyche or mind, the first is far less under our direct control than the latter. That is why 'salvation' in all its forms and descriptions is an experience of 'grace.' The  'trooper faith' you describe  ultimately is one I think Paul would refer to as 'of the flesh only' which may be successfully  used to enter the surgery room with more calm assurance. And that is good but it is not  the basis of spiritually based  religious faith.  I believe the writer had a correct  insight saying,  'Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.'  This 'evidence' here is not  physical evidence  but 'inner/spiritual'  evidence and it goes without saying that 'hope' is an internal reality.  
You are prescribing, what I hear as,  an assurance of God based on external authority. This is where we all began as children by the assurance coming from parents and teacher, sources we eventually came to realize were not perfect and must be 'let go' of as our inner source of transcending confidence and ultimate objects of trust. Such faith is based on assurance we hear from a literalistic/materialistic  interpretation of the spiritual materials of the Biblical text( represented by your trooper). I think we may be a good way apart on this  if I hear your model correctly.

My personal faith includes a trust in Jesus but not Jesus, or certain 'factual' words about him, that any external authority would assure me of. Although it began there perhaps by opening my mind to consider spiritual realities actual spiritual faith is based on an  experience of his living Spirit (psychologically a living archetype) which has at times  produced  profound ' feeling' and ' internal perceptions'  consistent with world wide timeless descriptions of  religious experience. I think most of us have such moments and these can be authentically used as ongoing sources of personal faith.  This makes such  faith an 'internal/psychological fact' which is always its proper place. This I think is a different category of 'fact' than the one in your trooper model or one that would require a person to 'believe in' the physical fact of spiritual statements such as 'the literal bodily resurrection of  Jesus of Nazareth.'  I can't imagine spiritual faith being any other way and I think from your life example and interests,such as you share in your book- Beyond The Sacred Page, that yours is more like mine than the  'external authoritative fact'  model you suggest here. I realize it is arrogant for me to suggest I may see the basis of your faith more than you do at times. You likely think you see mine as well?   We should both be careful.

 I wish you had stuck by  your book's first, and likely Spirit informed, title  - Beyond The Sacred Page. I think you  were talked out of that more accurate  description of  your faith in order to give more honor  to the 'trooper' type model of faith which many of your readers are more comfortable with. That model is based on objective reasoning of the 'flesh'(All objective reasoning is of the 'flesh' so it is not a bad thing but simply not the function of spiritual faith..) and based on literal physical texts as the basis of  faith  rather than what I trust is the more  actual one.  Your change of title to The Sound Of His Voice I imagine was no reasoning accident anymore than the original and more spiritually based was an 'inspired' one. I prefer the emphasized spiritual  'authority' implied  in your first and less reasoned title, although the Sound of His Voice could  also refer to spiritual experience and not only to the Bible text. To me this shows two aspects(Outer material reasoned  facts vs inner spiritual experience) of your and each of our  being-  our flesh and  our spirit. Both are essential but I think it is best to not confuse them or to give flesh the upper hand that both our culture and religious orthodoxy  are happy to do.    Blessings Always, Jim

P.S. Edward, two other thoughts. Paul's inspired and eloquent  statement   regarding the 'more excellent  way' (I Cor 13)did not include physical  'fact' of any kind, but only 'faith, hope and love.'   You seem to have made  'reported authoritative fact' and belief in it a cornerstone for salvation and religious experience. God's assurance to my understanding is much more imminent and personal than accepting someone else's  report. I think the personal  salvation stories of spiritual texts throughout the ages affirm this.

I went to see the movie  Black Swan today not really knowing anything to expect. It strikes me that this movie could be seen as an adult  attempt to answer the question 'How does one have assurance of 'salvation' or from the final words of the movie of  'being perfect?'  We should not expect it to be  an easy answer to find or to describe. The movie shows it can only be adequately approached with the language of symbol, the language of religion, of the Collective Unconscious, of the immediate  voice of God. That is why such a movie is truly art and a religious statement.   It is not for the faint of heart and deserves its R rating as well would many Biblical stories.  

Here is how  I have reported on it to another  friend.... The Black Swan is truly a psychological, and to me spiritual , work. The sweet loving  sincere mama's girl who is a great white swan for the ballet  Swan Lake  is pressed to find her  inner counter part, the black swan, and so she does.  Or it finds her as she becomes more open to it.  It is hard to discern what scenes are real outward happenings versus the inner ones.(much as  with spiritual texts and story.) She has to discover her sexuality more fully  and also her capacity for violence toward her enemies, including if necessary her doting mother. She masters, with much trans-personal help like any hero story, the task by 'letting go' and entering the dark and dangerous aspects of what I would call the Collective Unconscious. (I think the dreams I've shared   contain most all the kinds of elements of the dangerous inner terrain the movie  presents her transiting.) In doing so she receives a great personal wound but also finds her more full transcending 'self'  which is able to perform both the White and Black Swan. In the end she discovers the real meaning of 'be ye perfect.'  I’m struck she had to be 'truly good' (but not complete) before she could take on the challenge of finding , owning and challenging her dark shadow side.  That goodness never escapes her. Perhaps only a  truly good, sincere  but incomplete conscience  can take on such a  full  night journey(of individuation) without  it resulting only in chaos and real  outer violence? This is Jungian to the core but I think it is likewise  a picture of psychological/spiritual development of the human personality to the core as well.  To me it is very Christic in both its tragedy and its victory.  It also is a suggestive spin on the  'death, burial and resurrection'  archetype.  It could be an answer to the question you raise  in today's gracemail that requires significant meditation and reflection as one walks out of the theater.  Blessings, Jim

On Sun, 30 Jan 2011 03:59:00 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

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Why do some people have strong assurance of salvation and others do not? How can you have stronger assurance of your right standing with God?It can be summed up in three short words: Fact, Faith and Feeling. Imagine that you are on a driving trip in a remote and deserted area, when you suddenly come upon a very old wooden bridge stretching over a river. The bridge creaks, the paint is nearly gone, it looks very ancient indeed. Fear takes over and you almost hesitate to cross over the bridge. Just then a state trooper steps out from somewhere and tells you to go ahead. The state highway department recently inspected this old bridge, the officer says. Its structure was reinforced with steel and its foundations with concrete. Next week it will get new wood trimming, sanding and fresh coats of paint. The objective reality is that the bridge is strong, safe and secure (FACT), and if you trust the report of the bridge's safety (FAITH), your fear will disappear and be replaced by calm assurance (FEELING). Faith determines feeling but well-founded faith depends upon fact. Strong faith produces good feelings, whether or not faith is based on fact. This means we cannot depend on FEELING, or even on FAITH, but on FACT.
The FACT is that Jesus has made atonement for sin, the Father is pleased, and the world is reconciled to God. If you will trust that report and rely on Jesus' work for you (FAITH), you will enjoy assurance of right standing with God (FEELING). If you do not trust the gospel report (NO FAITH), the FACT it declares does not change, but your LACK OF FAITH will forfeit the FEELING or assurance of safety that could have been yours. One other thing . . . if you do trust the officer's report, don't you agree with me that you will drive across that bridge?___________________
(c) 2011 by Edward Fudge. You have permission to reprint, republish and redistribute this gracEmail by any lawful means, if you give proper credit and make no financial profit.

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