Seeing Through the Glass Darkly

The certainty with which some express their convictions today is quite remarkable. Even more so when they base their convictions on revelation and biblical interpretation.

I’m well into a collection of essays that leads me to this thought. The essayists attempt to say what God is by discussing what God is not.

They make the claim that God is not: religious, nice, one of us, an American, nor a capitalist, among other reductionist “nots.”
They find fault with ecclesiastical leadership that has accommodated to the culture. They reject Western culture that has been overtaken by a feel-good therapeutic model. And they critique religion that remakes and recasts “God” in the image of humans and most modern theology that has been done since Thomas Acquinas in the thirteenth century and Julian Norwich in the fourteenth.

Much of the critique of culture and politics is right on. I agree with it. But reading their claims, I am left feeling pretty much outside the community they describe. The whole enterprise of the church reaching out to people in the culture is not just mistaken, they say. It’s mean-spirited!
“it is pious language that stands on the false assumption that the purpose of the Christian faith is to give our lives ‘meaning’ and to satisfy our individual souls. The reason for the dominance of this language is understandable; it is the logical consequence of turning all Christians into potential consumers and turning the church into nothing but a vendor of goods and services–one more corporation vying in the marketplace for its own special niche…But this niche only appears tolerant. It actually uses the language of hospitality to cover a vindictive spirit.

seems not to be a concern for them. Their concern is to acknowledge that “God is.” They know what this means. They know what practices are necessary to express the convictions of faith. And by virtue of their own critical insight and intellectual acumen, qualities lacking in the rest of us who have sold out to popular culture and the shifting sands of modern theology, they know who and what God is.

There is in the dialogue about faith that speaks with a sense of certainty that excludes a lot of faithful people who live in a more ambiguous world. I read these essays and I come away thinking the case is closed. There is nothing to discuss. They have the answers, I’m wrong and that’s it.

1Corinthians 13:8-13
8Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Join the conversation!

Post a reply in the form below.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image