Amos Yong at the Missio Alliance talked today about “the phenemonology of interruption” in Pentecost. Interruption is how God expresses His sovereignty. Humanity muddles along in our reality that we can’t imagine being any other way, and events happen that do not fit “the way things are.” Our paradigms are shattered, and we are forced to grapple with the terror that Somebody greater than the projected Geist of our civilization has tinkered with us. Pentecost is the eternal event of the Spirit’s interruption. The opposite of Pentecost is ideology, the stasis of homogenized idolatrous “truth” that tries to substitute itself for God, what Slavoj Zizek calls “the big Other” and what Christians with a perspicuous (idolatrous) account of Biblical truth would call the “owner’s manual.”
I witnessed a conversation on facebook last night where one of these young, restless, well informed Christian guys was being a mansplaining stereotype of himself. There is a particular form of Christian thought that causes people (usually men because of how we’re wired but occasionally women) to think they’re experts in the faith after maybe a couple of years of serious Bible study. Their expertise then gives them the duty to “mansplain” Christianity, e.g. do things like ask patronizing, predictable rhetorical questions of complete strangers in social media in order to help them become experts in Christianity too. This morning while taking a bath, I thought of five C’s that characterize Christian mansplanation: clarity, conclusiveness, conformity, commodity, and control. Continue reading
After witnessing several exchanges here and here and here regarding blogosphere dramas around Phyllis Tickle and Mark Driscoll and trying to process a convicting conversation with an honest friend, I thought I would wrestle through what I’m going to call the distinction between critique and dismissal. Because of the gotcha atmosphere that predominates our information age, we often critique in order to dismiss and feel dismissed whenever we are critiqued by others. What would it look like to critique and receive critique non-dismissively? Continue reading
Eastern Orthodox priest Father Thomas Hopko has a featured podcast on Ancient Faith Radio that I have recently started listening to. Recently he triggered quite a bit of controversy for a commentary about a visit he made to Wheaton College in which he talked about why Eastern Orthodoxy cannot endorse evangelical Christianity as being orthodox. It was very interesting to process the very different criteria by which Hopko defines orthodoxy. I would like to review several of the points he made and then offer how I would chart out a possible ecumenical relationship between evangelicalism and Orthodoxy. I think that the apostolic succession and traditioned ground of Orthodoxy is what a true conservatism looks like; the problem with the sola scriptura priesthood of the believer in evangelicalism occurs when we farcically try to make a conservatism out of what is inherently progressive. A progressive evangelicalism can relate to the genuinely conservative Orthodoxy the way that a saxophone relates to the steady bass-line of a jazz improvisational piece. Continue reading
I have been reading off and on through Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac’s Paradoxes of Faith for the past few weeks. It’s structured in a really unique way. It has chapters, but each chapter is basically a collection of 30 or so eclectic thoughts on a theme ranging from one sentence long to about one and a half pages. It’s a great thing to read when you’re somewhere you can’t concentrate super-hard to follow an intricate trajectory of thought for 100 pages or something. So I highly recommend it. This time I’m probably going to try to quote De Lubac more and do less commentary because he says so many thought-provoking things that desperately need to be heard in the church today. De Lubac was actually a huge influence on Pope Benedict (which honestly I find a little hard to believe because he’s so feisty). Continue reading
Is God’s goal for humanity communion or correctness? The way you answer that question will determine your understanding of atonement, orthodoxy, holiness, Biblical interpretation, and just about every other major issue within Christian thought. Does Jesus’ cross serves the purpose of imputing perfect correctness to imperfect people or creating peace and reconciliation between otherwise irreconcilable people? That is the distinction. For the purpose of this piece, I want to define correctness very specifically as a way of thinking about behavior and opinions in which there is one right answer and the goal is absolute uniformity. Righteousness is different from correctness; its absolute would be perfect love for God and neighbor which would not necessarily result in identical decisions being made in the same circumstances but a perfect disposition for making these decisions. I believe that a certain threshold of correctness is important for the sake of establishing communion between God’s people, but if correctness means chasing after an elusive goal of absolute ideological conformity, then it is a source of schism in the body of Christ and as such a heretical pursuit.
I’m sitting in the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. For the past couple of weeks, I have gone to the Monday noon mass. It’s been a deep spiritual struggle each week to decide whether or not to go forward for Eucharist, but I think God wanted me to do it. Each time I have been terrified to get “caught” as a Protestant infiltrator. But that fear has been overridden by a longing to be part of Christ’s true body, the one true church. So now that mass is over, against this backdrop of feeling like a filthy Samaritan completely unworthy of God’s mercy, I just read Glenn Beck’s declaration, “We are all Catholics now.” I’m not sure that anything more sacrilegious could possibly be said. Continue reading