Tuesday, June 05, 2012

In my last post, toward the end, I spoke of exclusion; I want to be very clear: I'm merely talking about distinguishing truth and falsehood, not making a party only a few are welcome to. Joshua Lim, a new friend, writes eloquently about the problem of radical depravity (in Calvinism, and perhaps a few other systems) and interpretive authority here. It seems very odd that people so deeply committed to the idea of their own inability would become--at a very convenient time--extremely optimistic about interpreting the Scriptures. If this inability and sinfulness were carried through to its logical end, skepticism is the result. It should be the result for dogmatic conclusions rendered from a(n) hermeneutical spiral that doesn't end, but most of you don't see the problem yet. On the one hand, the church is posited as the defender against the excesses of pietistic individualism, but it is a 'church' that lacks reality in a physical sense. And that was for the sake of accomodation. We cannot say we alone possess the fullness of the Truth, because we see the Holy Spirit working among brothers beyond the physical bounds of our denomination. Let me know when I'm getting warm. But couple that with the provisional nature of our submission to that body--and the ability to self-define the "Church"--, and it is no wonder that doctrinal agnosticism (and then real agnosticism) takes hold.  What if the only difference between a fundamentalist and a liberal is that the fundamentalist prizes certainty over unity, while the liberal does the opposite? Indeed, the liberal prizes his notion of the pristine Church uncluttered by the machinations of the dogmatic confessionalists in the very earthy, human world, desiring a visible expression of the unity he imagines at any cost, while the fundamentalist wants the earthly reality to reflect the truth he absolutely knows? In either case, the individual determines the contours of the Truth and the community to which it belongs. One absolutizes the discourse of the mind; the other absolutizes the leadings of his heart, or better stated, his emotions.
And lest you think you escape this with some "middle position" I know you're fond of, I remind you that on Protestant terms, there is no one to determine moderation from excess, truth from falsehood, beyond the individual.

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