September 26, 2009

The New Revolution

The Age of Faith did not give way to the Age of Reason quite everywhere. In the institutional church, it merely compromised. Like the ancient Roman Ignorance, Protestant Reasoning was born serving political ends. The new mysteries were presented as intellectual concepts instead of spiritual magic. And while the new reasoners went on to do battle with their Englightenment peers, the world just kept on turning for us regular peons.

By the 20th century, despite lingering power struggles, the medieval exaltation of ignorance and mystery had revived stronger than ever, buoyed by the academic genuflection toward skeptical claims and the insistance of strong boundaries between "history" and "theology". Today, I question whether the two-tiered compromise will hold up for a population that grows closer and closer to one-tier, class wise. But I'm certain the system will do its best, once again, to compromise with the cultural change.

Personally, I don't think the early christians saw the Gospels like today's scholars think they did. Jesus & Paul talked about Adam & Eve as if they were real people. Early believers must have read the Gospels as if Jesus Christ really did and said those things, also. So no matter how sophisticated their composing processess might have happened to be, I am willing to trust the Gospel Writers. Whatever they said about Jesus is historical enough for me. And the spiritual claims are supernatural activity, not theological "truth".

Frankly, lay persons normal christians deserve better than what they're generally being given. Let the world have their skepticism. Let the authorities keep their institutions. Let the strongest pulpiteers craft whatever dogmas they can keep selling. But I think people are looking for a bold, historical-spiritual view of the Lord and his life in the Gospels. Leaders with political ambitions can continue to compromise, but I suspect most believers do not wish to compromise. In my experience, believers primarily incline to believe.

Whether straightforward or compromised, the renewed Temple Curtain of Ignorance and Mystery is probably here to stay. On the other hand, certainty and feigned certainty seem to be going the way of the do-do, the eight track, and feudalism. Ironically, my suggestion is that we might actually strengthen the faith by embracing a genuine skepticism. Are the Gospels hstorically reliable? Who can really say? IF the Gospels are historically reliable, what is their actual story? Ah ha. Now, make your own choice.

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