Saturday, 21 June 2008

Ironies of the Contemporary Church Part 3


Another irony of the contemporary church is the way in which the liberal wing of the church is so utterly saturated with the core outcomes of the traditional faith, yet rejects the traditional superstructure of belief and doctrine that produced these core outcomes. The liberals want to say that justice is key to the Bible, that God, Jesus, life, the church and ministry is all about love, the church must be involved in the world, that judgement is more than meeting a fork in the road with two equally weighted alternatives, and that the God-world relationship is dynamic and relational, and that God is not distant and uninvolved (they call this distant and uninvolved God transcendent!). But all of these beliefs are the result of the traditional faith of the church. The problem with liberal theology is that it is never writing its own theology, just reacting to the right wing reactionaries. Liberalism loves to put up straw figures that are easy to blow down, claiming that the straw figure is traditional Christianity. (Bishop Spong is the great exponent of this methodology.) And then, having dispensed with the traditional superstructure, thinks that its innovations are the true interpretation of the faith. The funny thing is that so much of the innovation is cultural residue from the triumph of Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity won the battle of the religions and philosophies in making love the very being of God. This is why today almost everyone in the West thinks love is the most important thing in life. The doctrine of the Trinity ensured that the West would take personal rights seriously. The doctrine of the Trinity made God’s relationship of the world dynamic and relational, fully involved, and did this by saying that love is possible because God is transcendent. The doctrine of the Trinity and the God-world relationship behind it allowed the rise of western science because it gave creation its own integrity and being. And you don’t need process theology to have a doctrine of God that allows for divine involvement, personal integrity and freedom of human beings, and a salvation that honours that freedom. The Incarnation and the Trinity do all of this and more, and do it better.

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