Saturday, February 26, 2011

Like a moth, like a moth,
Drawn was I to the warmth of your face.
And meager hope, restless hope
Bound me to wait on cliffs of doubt.

Leo did his level-best to distract, to deflect
From the sign of my thrashing heart, which kept tenuous time.
Doubtless happy light, joyous light
Might dare break forth from your magic eyes (even in this dark lonely crowd).

Like the grass, like the growth
Of earth at spring's inception did I wait to bloom in the sun of your laughter.
Happy hours, holy hours
Went by as I granted your requests.

I am stirred, I am stunned
By the gravity of one error; Does it doom me?
In my haste, in my hurry
I forgot to buy you popcorn.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Follow Up Concerning Invincible Ignorance and "Inclusivism": One of the most serious charges against either Rome or Orthodoxy is that it is indifferent toward Jesus as "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." That perhaps articulating some idea that God is merciful to the ignorant who never hear of Jesus Christ. (Granted, this outcome grows more unlikely by the day, praise God.) On the one hand, "all paths lead to God" is expressly false, based on the verse I quoted above. But if all truth in the universe finds its source and summit in Jesus Christ, then whatever a person happens to be doing at any given time may be an occasion to find truth which belongs to Him. In that sense, all paths lead to God because nothing good or true or lovely could be so without God. Frankly, Acts 17 makes very little sense within a Calvinist way of looking at salvation/conversion, specifically this verse: "that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him." What do we call all the occasions immediately prior to someone responding in faith to Jesus Christ? Why are they seeking? Aren't they dead? Calvinists have no category for an as-yet-saved person "in transit," or a good explanation for why they are in transit. I suppose after the fact, you could say they were decretally elect in the mind of God from all eternity anyway, but I don't know how in Heaven you know that, nor how you know that you and your fellows know you're going to make it to the end. Are you absolutely sure you want to say that God has to regenerate a person first? Does this fit with how things normally go? [Ephesians 2:5, idiot.--ed.] OK, that is a sticky one.

But come, let us reason together on another matter. I heard a pastor describe a believer's lament this way: "I'm the one who believes, even though that non-Christian over there is way better than me." All together now: "to the praise of His glorious grace." But, you must fearfully consider, "Perhaps I have the dead faith James decries." Furthermore, you dummy, GO TALK TO that person! It's probably the easiest harvest in the history of Christianity. Anyway, this is what Catholics were talking about with agape at the Council of Trent: "Faith Alone" could reduce to mere assent without anyone noticing, because we Protestants don't talk about dead faith. To us, it's a ridiculous contradiction. BUT MAYBE IT SHOULDN'T BE. Of course, works do flow from faith, in a sense. But what kind of faith? To a Catholic, works are not only the fruit of (living) faith, agape is their animating power. Yes, I'm a little bothered by such a narrow, sterile definition of "faith" as intellectual assent in the Catholic Church; yes, I understand how the sacramental system could seem fearful and mechanistic to a Protestant. But I also know that the signs Christ uses to teach his people light the loving heart up like a Christmas tree. If there are 7 of them, what do I care? It's all love to me. In short, this is an ecclesial discussion; don't blame me if I return, abandoning my protest for lack of evidence. Our communities were not formed with the intent of permanence. Dare I say, they were not formed with the intent of schism.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Invincible Ignorance=Universalism?
Being the lunatic proceeding with a Reformed Protestant seminary education while most likely entering the Roman Catholic Church in a few weeks, I hear interesting things that strike me in funny ways. One of my professors was speaking about a student who is entering the Eastern Orthodox Church. That student had given him a book defending Orthodoxy, and he said he was disturbed by Orthodoxy's belief that God could show mercy to people in other religions due to ignorance. (I mentally noted that Rome's position probably isn't any different.) Is this a compromise of John 3:19, 14:6, and Acts 4:12, to name but a few? Well, let's think it through. Premise 1: God is the final Judge, and we are not. Premise 2: God judges the hearts of mankind, and will do so without error. Premise 3: He is free to show mercy, or not, to whom He wills (Romans 9:15-16). Premise 4: Christians are commanded to plainly declare the good news of God in Jesus Christ, without respect to persons. Premise 5: Christians are not privy to the judgments of God in the secret counsels of His own will. Premise 6: The mercy of God comes to men through Jesus Christ. Conclusion(s): Other religions are not equal paths to God; they do, however, demonstrate the human search for God. Insofar as these religions teach truth, it is truth derived from Christ, who is the Truth. (John 14:6) Further still, the failure to preach Christ is a presumption upon God's mercy, not an expansion of it. Sanctified speculation regarding the ignorant is nothing more than an admission that God's judgments are unsearchable; you might say it's an elaborate way of saying "I don't know" to the question of who precisely populates the kingdom of Heaven. I could think of no wiser thing a creature could say, except perhaps, "Jesus is LORD." In fact, I don't fear the exploration of other religions for educational and apologetic purposes, precisely because they derive truth from Truth itself. Because Jesus sanctified human life by taking on human nature, he has left his footprints on every step toward God. I'm not super-versed in comparative religion, but I can tell you that every true thing I ever heard in other religions reminded me of Jesus.