I realized I haven’t blogged much content apart from linking to others partly because I have been spending some time replying the conversations on a couple of email groups I’m on. I’ll pick out some random statements and post them below.
“… Faith is as our response to Christ is first and foremost, trust (a little fuzzier then mental assent to a set of statements), the recent readings in the lectionary through Mark 4,5,6 … reminded me of the dynamics of faith and response to Christ ( e.g. the demoniac, the woman with the issue of blood, the Jairus episode) and the contrast with Nazereth, the disciples, and Herod. Gives me the narrative framework to work beyond the way the question is framed above. I have problems if I need to “expect” children, people with learning disabilities, people in coma, or those severely messed up in their thinking etc to having things sorted out before they are accepted by Christ. I see it as they are accepted first, and then slowly being restored or formed into the fullness of image of God (which includes the intellectual bit)
… I admit, it’s increasingly harder for me in the wake of many unhealthy “prosperity” and “faith” and “success” teaching nowadays. But, I’m challenged to either confront them when I have a chance (which we may need to do) and I must focus on what I perceive as a better and more faithful alternative – and see communities cultivated which are theologically, spiritually, and misisonally maturing (note: continuous tense), No easy answers here.
… I think when there’s a common “cause” or “focus” I too have had wonderful relations with those who are “less like” me (that looked like “like me less” *smile* but there’s a difference). Perhaps now the challenge is how do we (and here we are starting with Christians for now) …
(1) Co-exist with those whom disagree with us (e.g. Tony & Peggy Campolo are an interesting example in the case of “homosexual partnerships”, or closer to home those who are more “goverment supportive” or “critical of the government”, and of course, those who have differing theological persuasions and methodology)?
(2) Engage in conversation to allow for mutual growth (whether i affirmation or admonishment) … e.g. I’m constantly reminded to not “neglect” the Holy Spirit by the Pentecostal/Charismatic stream, and yet I think Luther’s Theology of the Cross is something my friends i that stream would appreciate, and then how this kind of interaction changes us). BUt this is possible when we allow for some “liminal” space in terms of oour thinking, experience and ministry.
(3) Avoid a “globalization” (in a sense) of one “form” of Christianity exported or mutated in our midst … this means there will always be a sense of continuity with out past (e.g. many of our churches have a missionary past and influence), a continuity with the wider church (including our western counterparts) but also a discontinuity because of contextual factors whether in time and place. And out of this dynamic or dialectic, there’s a move forward or beyond more confining catergories ( e.g. my own journey is between evangelical/charismatic emphasis, then evangelical/liberal concerns, ..) My sense is many of us “feel” this experientially (or exsistentially) but are fumbling with the language to express this exploration adequately.
… if we do not demand the texts from the OT to NT to fall into a tight “system” then we allow for things unsaid to exist in some tension or even a humble willingness to acknowledge we don’t know in detail. In my theological naivety during seminary, I recall a friend asking me about whether we can lose our salvation or one saved always saved. I cheekily said. You know, to me if these guys are over confident in the early church and I am Paul …. watching them squandering the Christian faith and messing up the Gospel with abuse – I’d shout watch out man .. you might lose your salvation! If there’s some Christian genuinely strugglling with walking faithfully and seeking to follow Jesus but failing because of the realities of sin and life on earth .. if I am an epistle writer I’d say … You are in God’s hands, you will persevere … he will help you. there is a sense that the Texts written to the people first and foremost are either to challenge or comfort more than proviiding the “answers” to often speculative questions which after getting a “packaged” static answer leaves us with nothing much to respond?!
… when we use the metaphor of a dance with three points rather than two poles (praxis verses thinking), i.e.
to me spirituality, thinking (theology) and praxis then we can do more constructive work. This is how it works for me lately. I’m sharing a testimony and not saying I’ve achieved (necessary qualifier of a fellow sinner)
I’ve been reading Bonhoeffer’s Sanctorum communio and intrigued and appreciate his emphasis on I-You, the concern for “the other” and also meditating on the lectionary texts and noticing how Jesus encounters those “outside” the religious=social-economic boundaries ( e.g. Mark 5 – woman with the issue of blood, the demonized person, and Jairus episode, etc). When I sit down and consciously think about it … there’s a dynamic going on here in my prayer and theologizing (thinking) .. certain space is opened (for the Spirit to do some work).
Then with the Article 11 concerns and other things happening in the paper, I’m constantly reminded of how is my relationship with the “other” especially my Malay Muslim neighbors. This makes me want to talk with them and initiate a smile or conversation (which happened thanks to Gareth very often as a bridge – naturally not manipulatively)
So in a small way .. a baby step you may say … I also want to intentionally learn and practice how to allow this kind of “ortho”-cylce of spirituality, theology, praxis dance. So, whenever, I’m asking theological questions, I consciouly engage in spiritual practice and/or a missional endeavor of some sort. The hope is after some time … this will be part and parcel of me – with out me even thinking about it.Of course, there’s the other dimension of God’s work and prompting which we can discuss further.
This is an important frame of reference for me .. and then as we explore hard questions ranging from theology to ethics. there will be a greater congruence with oour mental abilities and the lives we live. Not easy. And we’d be less concerned to have the final say on people’s eternal destiny (since it’s not up to us) while appreciating the good that is present and confronting the evil that is there too in whatever situation. Raise more pressing questions which open doors rather than close them – espcially in engaging with the “Other” whom is unlike me (or may not like me – or I them). I think sounding a little cliche here … but more our of a second naivete … people need to meet Jesus, and we share Him with them. Perhaps we need to be a little bit more cautious before adopt a “all or nothing” approach to others. This requires a proper confidence in Jesus, and a certian level of security in ourselves and respect for the other person to be different and think differently. And of course, a key practice we are learning is the art of distinguishing … distinguising the major and the minor, or even the knowable as well as unknowlable .. together with that is the importance of discernment .. our inner motives and attitudes will be a good start, our fears and concerns too … and as we do that, we can also begin to discern the state of the heart of the other … “
These thoughts are raw and unrefined … I offer them as a gift (if anyone feels them helpful.) Perhaps there were more thoughts above so tonight less random thoughts to offer … cut and paste stuff through the day is still ok 🙂