Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

October 30, 2006

A quick stab at Karl Barth: Barth really disliked …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 3:39 am

A quick stab at Karl Barth:
Barth really disliked the liberalism that elevated pietistic personal internal experience of the divine [so called] over other means of revelation. Barth attempted to stomp it out by positing the idea that God is so transcendent, so wholly other, that any revelation in a general sense is unattainable. The pietistic view holds to a hyper-immanent view of God. It had gained such a deep foothold in the church that this immanence trumped any doctrinal, systematic formulation of revelation rendering it worthless in comparison to the value and existential meaning of the revelation gained by this personal experience (contentless and incommunicable though it may be). Barth’s hyper-transcendence was a reaction to this.

At the root of this view is the idea that God is so qualitatively different from his creatures that any overlap, any revelation, imparted to us, for example by analogy, is out of the question. He maintained that the only true revelation, the only true point of intersection between God and man, was in the person of Jesus Christ.

The nick-name for this view, besides being called neo-orthodoxy, was dialectic theology. The reason for this name comes from how Barth solves the problem of this radical creator-creature antithesis. He solves the problem by declaring that revelation comes in a moment of revelation. This is the moment in time when God is immediately and directly revealing himself in a univocal way. It is not that a moment of hyper-immanence occurs. The pietists claimed to experience this hyper-immanence on a permanent and ongoing basis, but significantly, it was a kind of immanence that was spatial. A kind of immanence that had to do with locating God within at a specific point in space, i.e. within me. With Barth it was a kind of immanence that has to do with univocity with respect to knowledge. God revealing himself not merely by locating himself within a person, but by allowing the creature to attain an understanding of the person of Jesus Christ.

In his view the Bible only contained revealed truth in moments of divine inspiration that the reader might get when encountering Jesus Christ in the text. Hence the idea of letting the Bible fall open and reading the first text to hit your eye. This is probably a caricature of Barth but one can see how the idea could be attributed to him. [I personally believe this idea of closing your eyes and pointing to a verse is more attributable to the idea that the Bible is a magic book of lucky charms than anything else].

Hence the term dialectic. A swing from hyper-transcendence to hyper-immanence.Wholly other, wholly hidden to wholly revealed.

Two more to go.


October 28, 2006

Will this be yet another series that I don’t compl…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 4:16 am

Will this be yet another
series that I don’t complete? I hope not. But, due to extenuating circumstances, the series may have to wait a little bit. (If Barth were not so hard to capture, this would not be bogging down).

In the mean time, I just had to post this quote:

I have found that while evangelicals claim to believe in absolute truth and an authoritative Bible which governs all of life, they do not live like they say they believe. They say they believe the Bible is the Word of God, but somehow, strangely, the Bible always says what satisfies their personal psychological and emotional needs. They say they worship an awesome God, but their deity is not one to be feared, because He is pretty much nonjudgmental, always quick to point out your good qualities, and will take whatever He can get in terms of your commitment to Him. He’s “God lite”—not the imposing deity before whom Israel trembled at the foot of Mt. Sinai, but the sort of deity who is always there to give you fresh supplies of upbeat daily therapy. And as for God’s people, well, they are really just like everyone else—no more holy or righteous than the rest of us. Put them in the crucible of character, and they’ll fold like a cheap suitcase.

Watching sermons reduced to PowerPoint presentations or listening to one easily forgettable praise song after another makes one long for an evangelical willing to stand up, Luther-like, and proclaim his opposition to the latest survey of evangelical taste. So anxious is evangelicalism to copy the culture of hotel chains and popular music that it loses what religious distinctiveness it once had.

Now, had he been observing the kind of church in which they resemble going to court where you stand before the judge and hear him pronounce the sentence of death on you for your incurable and repeated capital offenses, followed by the remarkable sentence of pardon in Jesus Christ due to his active obedience and his propitiating death on the cross, I venture to say he might have written something different.

October 27, 2006

You’ll have to forgive me for not keeping up the p…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 2:30 am

You’ll have to forgive
me for not keeping up the pace. The fourth view is quite difficult to convey, unlike the first three which were simple and easy. To answer my sister, who wants to see a both/and solution, she is getting abit ahead. The deal is that the first three won’t allow this. Each one is what it is because they all exclude any other options. By definition, the third approach to revelation rejects the objective nature of the first two. The first two, by definition, have no place for the pure subjectivity of the third.

All I can do at this time is introduce the fourth view. This view is a reaction to the third. The third view is the hallmark of classic liberalism that flourished in the mid 19th century – especially in Europe. Friedrich Schleiermacher is the poster boy for the movement.

Early in the 20th century, Karl Barth, in an attempt to restore the church to orthodoxy and bearing an extreme dislike for liberal Christianity, formulated his views. He rejected both the objectivism of the first two views and rejected the subjectivism of the third view. (Seemingly dashing Barbara’s hopes of a felicitous blending of the two). Barth courageously stood up to the liberalism rampant in Europe, defying the trends and was eventually exiled by Hitler. He is most famous for his response to a reporter’s query about, after all was said and done in his illustrious and difficult career as a theologian, what he knew for sure. His response was: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”.

As soon as I figure out what his view of revelation was, I will report it here.

October 24, 2006

Revelation as inner experience: God as guest. Nei…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 2:18 am

Revelation as inner experience:
God as guest. Neither a body of truths nor a series of events, revelation is a matter of privileged communion with God. It assumes immediate experience. Immediate means unmediated experience. Directly with God. His spirit and my spirit. The naked God. God is spirit and when my spirit merges with God’s spirit we have communion. (Nicely put by the refrain: “You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart.” Editorial note: Notice the key phrase “how I know”. The question how do you know is even below what a doctrine of revelation is all about. This song provides not just a view of revelation, but it also is an epistemology. This song expresses this view of revelation even better, especially the last line of the chorus.)

Revelation is interior because God, not having phenomenal existence, (meaning God doesn’t exist in the physical world in any sensible way) can only reveal himself to spirit.

This stress on the interior of man’s spirit is aided by the practice of spiritual disciplines. There the goal is to facilitate going deeper within where the merging of God’s spirit with our own results in finding the Lord inside.

Revelation doesn’t come in the form of a doctrine, an external announcement. Revelation comes in the form of an inward experience. A sharp distinction is drawn between faith as the acceptance of revelation and belief as the acceptance of doctrine.

The content of this revelation is neither publically announced events which have taken place outside us in history nor publically presented interpretations of those events. It is to find God revealed personally within and desires foremostly to know only God. It does not desire to know about God, but only to know God.

In sum, the site of revelation is within us. The site of revelation is not outside of us. The indwelling Christ is the highest authority in this model – the Christ within, not the Christ without. The contrast is the outer word, the external word versus the inner word, the Holy Spirit, who speaks to our hearts.

October 23, 2006

Revelation as history or God as actor. This view m…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 4:25 am

Revelation as history or
God as actor. This view maintains that God reveals himself primarily in his great deeds, especially those which form the major themes of Biblical history. The Bible and the official teaching of the church are considered to embody revelation only to the extent that they are reliable reports as to what God has done. So the real revelation takes place in the form of acts, actions. Only actions are in a proper sense revelation. So, for example, the Exodus event is a revelation. The words about the Exodus, the reports about the Exodus are human fallible witnesses to the events. It is the events that are revelation. What’s revelatory is the event itself. Words are not revelatory, actions are. And the interpretation of those events are not revelatory.

Properly stated it works like this: “The revelation to which scripture attests is a self manifestation by God in historical events, not information about God stated in divinely stated doctrines or concepts.”

The recurrent theme in this approach is the priority of event over interpretation. It wants to be rigorously objective. It gives a lot of space to event. Creeds and doctrines in this view depend upon the prior events of revelation from which they are derived. The events are always richer than what can be said about them. There are no revealed truths. However a naked historical event is not in itself revelation. It is only revelation when the events are understood as disclosures of God.

The Bible is not primarily the word of God but the record of the acts of God together with the human responses elicited by those acts.

For example, you have to start with the humanity of Jesus and work your way to his deity, not the other way around. A Christology from below not a Christology from above. And to do that you start with the resurrection. Christianity stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus. That is the act of God par excellence. That’s the most significant act of God. Redemptive events in history don’t belong to a salvation history, they just belong to world history. And it [Jesus’ resurrection] is a self interpreting event. Jesus is raised from the dead on the third day and this is a fact that can be read off the surface of world history. It ought to be written in history books just like the battle of Waterloo.

So, again, the Bible is a report of these events. It is not in and of itself revelation.

October 21, 2006

Is this what revelation is? Revelation as doctrin…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 3:53 pm

Is this what revelation is?

Revelation as doctrine, or God as teacher. Revelation according to this view is principally found in clear propositional statements attributed to God as authoritative teacher. Basically this is the view of Roman Catholic neo-scholasticism, Thomism (i.e. Thomas Aquinas) and also of protestant evangelicalism. Revelation for these orthodox evangelicals is thus equated with the meaning of the Bible taken as a set of propositional statements each expressing a divine affirmation valid always and everywhere. Carl Henry states that God is revealed “in the whole canon of scripture which objectively communicates in propositional verbal form the content and meaning of all God’s revelation. – God’s revelation is rational communication conveyed in intelligible ideas and meaningful words; that is, in conceptual verbal form.” Henry approvingly quotes Gordon Clark “aside from imperative sentences, and a few exclamations in the Psalms, the Bible is composed of propositions.” Henry writes, “theology consists essentially in the repetition, combination and systematization of the truth of revelation in its propositionally given biblical form.”

Note: the reference above to “protestant evangelicalism” refers to it in its broadest sense. That is, mainline protestant denominations (liberals) and also the broad spectrum of conservative (red state) believers. This is an assertion which you as an individual with your own opinion may not agree with. EDIT: By that I mean you might not agree that this is the predominant view held by Protestant evangelicals.

You have all heard, read or believed that revelat…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 4:38 am

You have all heard, read or believed
that revelation comes in two flavors. One is general revelation. This revelation is available to all via creation (nature) and bears with it no redemptive stamp. The other is special revelation. This revelation is called special for at least three reasons. One is that it is directly associated with the Bible. Another is that it takes faith somehow to appropriate it, which faith is not available to all. The third is that its content is in all ways about redeeming dead sinners, reconciling them to God.

I don’t know about you, but I have recently had reason to question (put under a microscope) my own understanding of this special revelation. First, how has it, this special revelation, transpired in my own mind and understanding? Second, as a result of this, I have begun to ask whether this “revealing” that is supposed to have been transpiring has in fact actually done so in my own case. You should not equate this questioning with doubting. This is an entirely different thing. You would think this “revelation” would be a constantly ongoing, astounding, earth shattering thing in one’s “walk”. Or is it just a one-time deposit that you live on. Revelation must be different from learning, mustn’t it? Or is it?

Anyway, stay tuned for a few quick suggestions as to what this revelation is or how it works. Maybe you can identify yours as I try to identify how various people have tried to explain how this works.

October 4, 2006

What do you think of this short article? “[T]hou …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 1:28 am

What do you think
of this short article?

“[T]hou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” Revelation 3:1

Many churches (both conservative and liberal) lack any real life. They go through the motions of religion, but they experience little of holy supernaturalism in their Sunday meetings — or any other time, for that matter. There is almost no passion. Shouts of praise and joy, tears of love and repentance, hands raised in holy supplication — these are too emotional; too individualistic; too immature; well, too embarrassing. We must at all costs have a respectable and sophisticated religion, and our power has declined as our respectability and sophistication have escalated.

In this sense, our churches bear little resemblance to the primitive Church we encounter in the Bible.

They also bear little resemblance to its world-conquering exploits.

Recently I’ve spoken with members of what is generally regarded as the most conservative Presbyterian denomination in the nation. They’re told me that their churches are filled (make that, half-filled) with mostly elderly saints and that their Sunday “worship” (I’ve yet to find in the Bible any proof that Sunday is specially designed for worship) is all done decently and in order — and with absolutely no life.

Meanwhile, the sanctuaries of many charismatic and evangelical churches are glut with youth. The errors of these churches are many and obvious. The attraction of these churches is also obvious: breezy entertainment, lowest-common-denominator theology, superficiality — and life. We do well to recall that we can purge the entertainment, ratchet up the theology, and correct the superficiality in living churches.

But we can’t resuscitate ecclesiastical corpses, no matter how theologically pristine they are.

Our older denominations (again, both conservative and liberal) are dying. Denominationalism, with all of its bureaucratic tentacles and well-oiled machinery, will probably expire within a century. This death will be healthy for the Church, which did not begin with denominations and has never needed them. The local Church as the covenant community of saints and its weekly Lord’s Day celebration of the His resurrection and His call to victory trump comatose denominationalism every time.

A living Church is a Church replete with holy passion and answered prayer and ecstatic joy and potent tears and vexing problems and theological arguments and all the other things that make for life.

“Pro-life” should denote more than anti-abortion.

It should also denote anti-ecclesiastical corpses.

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Any guess as to who wrote it?

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