Monday, June 28, 2004

What is Truth?

As mentioned previously, this certain bishop said that the great thing about the postmodern era is that people "realize there are multiple realities." He then proceeded to talk about "living into the questions" and ambiguity as a Christian value in itself. However, this idea that every truth must be balanced by an equal and opposite "truth" in order to find God's truth is logically silly, and indicative of a worldview shaped more by Foucault than Jesus.

I believe it was the former who taught the last couple of generations that any claim to an absolute truth is actually an attempt by the powerful to solidify their control over those with little or no influence. In other words, power is knowledge, instead of the other way around. Therefore in a purely pomo worldview, to claim an absolute truth is to assume the role of an oppressor.

Jesus, however, said that the truth would make us free. He said that he is the truth. I think it must be both relational and propositional. And I think the truth can only be and do what the truth is and does if it is those things over and against other "truths." That is, lies. In other words, can we have a truth if nothing is a lie?

Frankly, I live my life among men and women who know their sexuality only as a curse, not a blessing, and their close relationships as power struggles and sources of pain instead of wholeness. Why? Because we believe all kinds of lies about God, ourselves and the world. If there is not an overriding truth that will reveal others "truths" to be the lies they really are, nobody's going to be healed.

Is there a word from God that is definitive? That can be trusted? That will enable us to cling to him when all of the lies scream at us so much louder than the truth?

I'm betting that there is, in the apostolic tradition. The faith once delivered to the saints. That the original communities' experience with Jesus can really be normative for us. How can we translate it faithfully instead of merely copying customs and mindlessly repeating ancient creeds? How can we own it and live it? I hope to find out.

But I'm not afraid. I don't have to try to "live the questions." The questions come out of the life I live anyway. It's the answers, and ultimately the Answer who is Christ that I am working to live into.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Heresy is Bad For You

I'm not sure what this week did for my cynicism. The jury's out, I suppose. I got to hear the (figure)head of the denomination talk about "ambiguity" as a Christian value in and of itself. How did he support this as being an integral part of the faith?

He actually prooftexted the Chalcedonian Definition.

Yeah, that's what I said. The document was approved at the 451 Council of Chalcedon to frame and somewhat settle the Christian Communities' conception of Jesus the God-Man, specifically that Jesus Christ is both human and divine.

His point? That the great thing about pomo (look, I'm trendy) society is that people "realize there are multiple realities," and that we live in a "both/and world." This is apparently a classical Christian value, since the Church used both/and language back in the day while trying to figure out a metaphysical question.

The problem being of course that in the case of the C.D., we have an affirmation of faith that is paradoxical, not the mixing of paradoxes in an attempt to create an affirmation of faith. The Community's faith is that Jesus is both divine and human, so they had to tailor their theological and philosophical formulations so they could have paradox but not contradiction. This is not the same as gathering up contradictory worldviews and insisting that God's truth is a paradoxical amalgam of all voices just because the people talking got sprinkled when they were infants.

According to many of the fine minds of the Episcopal Church, Christian values and teaching are to be determined by adopting and affirming all of the contradictory worldviews and opinions of everybody who ever was baptized. So long as they don't try to keep someone else's worldview out of the mix.

This is instead of converting people to an altogether different worldview (based on scripture or tradition) that proclaims all the lies they've ever believed to be just that -- lies. There is, however, one over-riding principle that stands over and against other truths and serves as a corrective: "love." Not agape, not that which can think critically and choose the best things for people and choose to be a servant even when all natural affection and caring has bled away in the face of human brokenness and evil,

This "love" affirms everyone's opinion, and insists that you must never keep someone else from the pursuit of what they think will be happiness by speaking a contradictory or corrective word.

I don't think God is doing a new thing. He's doing the same thing he's always done.

more later...