Sunday, January 22, 2012

FOLLOWING THE RULES AND.... FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT.. January 22, 2012..Note to Ed Fudge

There is a reason for rules. In a world filled with hazards and threats, they define the approved course. They show the way that is safe. They mark the path we can trust.
    (Edward Fudge's complete article below)
Grounded Costa Concordia
 Edward, of course  legitimate rules for all kinds of areas of human activity are real and important and are there for good  and respectful reasons. I think though that  'following the rules' is a concept that needs balance to it. In science or economics or politics data are collected and generalizations or averages are determined when the fact is that there may be no specific situation that is actually measured as this averaged out  general value. What this tells us is that generalities that have been determined by human consensus including rules of morality do not necessarily say something specific about the individual case demanding a  thoughtful prayerful moral decision.
I can imagine that under some specific factors  there  are even maritime rules that any boat Captain ,who does his work like art rather than in an unthoughtful rote manner,  may need to vary from the general rule in order to save his boat and passengers. In such a case of varying from the normal rule it would  only  be done with a fully conscious awareness of the general rules, much practice at following them and the seriousness of taking an action that runs counter to those rules. (The Captain of the Costa Concordia was apparently not such a Captain in any of these ways. He apparently  ignored the rules and flaunted his careless drunken behavior. That is not what I am describing. This is an example of a  total
perversion of  Following the Spirit.)
Moses And Ten Commandments On Stone

* So it must necessarily be with every category of  highly conscious and competent levels of human living and working. Those who are welded to taking  the general rules as the final guide for the moral life will be unable to make those essential life and death decisions where a path other than the consensus  and conventional wisdom  is required.  Individual life is still often uncharted waters. Our human lives are every bit that unique. This in fact is the very difference implied in   the 'Will of God' being imaged   as a human incarnation of God. The  Highest moral law is no longer words on stone or a page but requires  a living,  ever deciding consciousness of  what is the 'more excellent' way rather than 'safely' always following the general rule.

Paul labors to make that very point regarding 'law' in numerous ways. That is not just the Hebrew Torah he speaks of as adherence to the 'letter kills' compared to that of the living and always adjusting Spirit being the source of 'life.'  As you say, the actual  Christ story teaches that the 'rules' are no longer written ones but ones that are written in the life of the incarnated one Jesus. This implies that incarnation began in Jesus and continues in us all. This surely is the meaning of Jesus' saying that,' the Kingdom of God is within you.' and the mind boggling , ' And you are gods.' This is the humble confidence that Jesus was teaching humans  to have along with the courage to seek  and follow the ultimate 'rules' within our own hearts as we live day by day, moment by moment.
Again, variations from rules and  laws developed legitimately by sincere human consensus or past revelations, including morality ones,  should  never be  ignored, or undervalued but neither can they ever be considered the  final unique Will of God in any specific  human situation. Every moment of life is unique and requires a fresh and present Word of the Spirit if we humans are to come into any greater harmony than we have yet found with the actual living Will of God on earth. This is precisely what the "Living Spirit of Christ' promises and provides without ever an exception  of misguidance when it is relied on(trusted) as the primary moral guide and not second to any pre-written rules.  How can you speak of  what it means for a Christian to truly 'follow the rules' without talking about this kind of balance and feel you are telling the whole story?  The moral life as describe by Jesus can never feel like a 'safe way' for Following the Spirit is an experience  of 'trusting risk',  though in the long run it surely must be the superior thus idealistically the 'safer' way.  Another way that Following the Spirit is not the conventional 'safer way' is that when a Spirit following person chooses to  not follow the public rule, whether it be a rule of good physical health, civil code or a  moral rule s/he must be willing to accept the human judgment and  punishment that is likely to come. Here we find examples of 'civil disobedience' which have been central to improving political conditions in cultures world wide. 

An Oldest Manuscript Of A 'Letter' Of Paul
 Jesus on occasion taught his disciples by example there are times when  the  rules of  community consensus , no matter how valuable and honorable , must be adjusted if not outright broken if the right and just thing is to be done consistently.  Such as shelling the corn on the Sabbath and eating with unwashed hands and his approval of  David and his companions eating the Bread from the Holy Alter. This aspect of Jesus actions and teaching, as well as Paul's emphasis in this area, needs to be taught just as seriously and carefully, even if it is scary,  as the conventional and far simpler 'follow the rules' instruction. That is  if creative spiritual human living(abundant life) is the goal. Such thinking begins to define the nature of the responsible 'freedom' that is so valued in both the gospels and the writings of Paul. Blessings, Jim

Dove- Symbol Of The Living Holy Spirit

* The reader may also want to read blog post 'Responsible Human Freedom'         

On Sun, 22 Jan 2012 03:59:00 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

Capt. Francesco Schettino was more than two miles off course when the 114,500-ton Costa Concordia hit a reef this January 2012. The impact sent more than 4,000 passengers on the luxury cruise ship into a panic. It sent a still-unknown number of them to their cold and lonely deaths. There is a reason for rules. In a world filled with hazards and threats, they define the approved course. They show the way that is safe. They mark the path we can trust.
Our confused society has given rules a bad rap. Torah, the Hebrew word for "law," means "instruction"--always given, by the way, for the recipients' well-being (Deut. 6:24). The author of Psalm 119 understood that, and wrote its 176 verses as an acrostic tribute to God's commands. The Psalm is divided into sections that move through the entire Hebrew alphabet. Within each section, every line begins with the same alphabet character. The longest chapter in the Bible celebrates God's law--yet it is anything but legalistic.
This positive way of thinking about God's commands brings a new appreciation for them, and for the God who provides us a lighted path through life's dark and dangerous trails (Psalm 119:105). Just as Torah, the general word for "law," brings to mind a picture of God's road-markers, so the root of the most common Hebrew word for "sin" suggests a deviation from the proper path. Straying is bad. Intentionally going off course is worse. Captain Schettino admits that he was off course intentionally.
The Jews were given God's Torah, but God has given us something better than that. He embodied his will in a person. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. "I am the way," said Jesus--the road, the path, the course (John 14:6). We can say to Jesus every day, "I am safe when by thy side." In that confidence, let us pray: "Savior, lead me lest I stray . . ."

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