October 9, 2009

Confession of the Month

This won't shock a lot of people, but I feel the need to admit it today, on the heels of my super-spiritual posts. Here it comes. *drum roll, snare* I am not a very spiritual christian. I might even be less in touch with God than a lot of the conceptual theoreticians I've been critiquing. And I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry that I'm not a better example. But pretense is far more damaging than failure.

What I am, at the very least, is a guy who's interested in the Story of Jesus. I believe it happens to be a true story, but it's become somewhat fictionalized. I believe it happens to be a spiritual story, but it's become largely intellectualized. I also believe there happens to be a lot of failure in this story, but the failures [especially after the cross] often tend to get swept under the rug. We ourselves fake things too, especially for the kids. But we shouldn't. Aside from Jesus, every christian believer mentioned in the New Testament was a failure in some way, shape or form.

I posted my series on The Human Spirit because I believe it describes reality, or actuality. I can't prove it's accurate, objectively. For now, I have to acknoweldge it as the bounds of theology - and hopefully, the absolute best kind of theology - even though I hope to someday call it historiographic spirituality, as evidenced by the spiritual facts and events reported by the Gospel eyewitnesses. (See yesterday's post.)

Getting to that point, reasonably, academically, and non-theologically, is probably going to take years more work. Sometimes I'm worry that it shouldn't be done. We should not overly dissect or make 'perfect' explanations for the workings of the Spirit of God. But plenty of people attempt to explain the resurrection - and we know those proofs are never 'perfect', because historical arguments always depend on what we accept as "evidence" and how we assess it. Therfore, I hope & pray we might also do well to try and explain spirituality by accepting spiritual data in the Gospels as historical testimony.

Please notice also that I say "explain". I do not say "defend". This is not for evangelism. This is for the church. I offer myself a living example of [our] profound spiritual lack - of how much we need to view The Story of Jesus in a way that is factual and spiritual, but not theoretically so.

Until then, and after then, thank the Lord for his mercy.


Rick Wadholm Jr. said...

Bill, I'm wondering how one proposes to do any thinking, writing, speaking about anything concerning Biblical history without doing so "theologically"? How might one speak of God's doing without speaking of God? Or do you propose some other meaning here for speaking "non-theologically"? I did read your post today (10/10/09) and note your comments about your incredulity concerning the flexibility of a term like "theological". While this term has such a wide range of meaning (and therefore requires some form of definition for fruitfulness when one writes or speaks to a diverse audience), yet so do MANY other words thrown around in our culture: Jesus, Spirit/spirit, spiritual, God, sin, Christian, Biblical, etc. Simply because there is a widely divergent use of terms doesn't mean these should be jettisoned, but I believe they must be defined. However, might we get into more trouble (or a deeper quagmire) by spending too much time attempting to define terms to please (or at least answer) everyone? This would seem to make conversations about such things so overwhelmingly complex as to be not genuine communication (though I still think at times with certain persons such detail should be given). But perhaps as you've stated there is a certain level of specificity that must accompany academic discussions (but at what point to we have to move beyond attempting to define every term and simply apply them?). Is this perhaps why Jesus used parables and illustrations? In order to convey meaning concerning the truth which he was teaching, but to do so in a manner that was picturesque and could still allow for some sense of ambiguity? Perhaps I'm being overly simplistic, but maybe we need some ambiguity (mystery?) in academia instead of attempting always to specify what may not be as neat and clean as our proposals suggest.

You've certainly posted to interesting thoughts here.

Bill Heroman said...

Thanks for the great feedback, Rick. By some definitions of "theological", you're absolutely right. What concerns me semantically is (1) my own frequent confusion and (2) the feeling that politics trumps actuality.

What concerns me in practice is that we cannot reconstruct historical events based on IDEAS, and so any presupposed complex theologies might prevent us from even attempting reconstruction.

For example, was James the Lord's brother or "cousin"? (You're not Roman Catholic, so that's probably a safe example.) If we preference IDEAS, we cannot reconstruct events. That set-up worked nicely for centuries. I want it to change.

No academic work will ever sap the mystery out of life. Faith based academics can be more clear. I think there are reasons we don't want to be...

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