Author Topic: Johnson Goes Ballistic  (Read 12903 times)

pastorg1@aol.com

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #90 on: August 07, 2007, 01:44:56 PM »
Gary Schnitkey writes: "I simply have hard time seeing the usefulness of a creed in a post-modern world."

I write:

I think you are joking, yes?

Creeds were developed as, and are still needed for, bulwarks against heretical threats to the Scriptural truth revealed to us in, with, and through Christ. The Athanasian Creed puts it well in its summation: "This is the catholic faith. One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully."

A post-modern, even if he thinks reality is relative, must still deal with the reality "extra nos," or he risks being run over by cars, plummeting off cliffs, or disregarding God's will to his peril. Creeds are the crosswalks, cliff fences, and warnings for our souls.

What I find exciting as an evangelist in the epicenter of post-modernism (SF Bay Area), is to insert my Christian self into secular settings and continue to bear witness to the love of God in their post-modern midst: police chaplain, airport emergency response coordinator, local character teaching writing classes (favorite author- surprise!- St. John), high-school library helper (in clerics- of course!), surfer, ((Jesus decal on the board) - and even risking the wrath of my own congregation by confessing said creed,( LBW page 54-) once a year on Holy Trinity Sunday.

Yikes.

Pete (Reality Bites) Garrison
Pete Garrison, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #91 on: August 07, 2007, 02:33:34 PM »

Creeds were developed as, and are still needed for, bulwarks against heretical threats to the Scriptural truth revealed to us in, with, and through Christ. The Athanasian Creed puts it well in its summation: "This is the catholic faith. One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully."


Pete (Reality Bites) Garrison


Oh Bites,
You're so last-millenium.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

mchristi

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #92 on: August 07, 2007, 02:40:53 PM »
Thank you for your response, Gary.  It might be a good challenge for many of use, well, all of us, to look at the post-modern world and also find what is good about it.  Like it or not, we have moved into one, and we are certainly going to have to find ways to preach to post-modern people, be church with post-modern people, and reach out to post-modern people.  Actually, there is no future about it.  They are already in our churches.

I simply have hard time seeing the usefulness of a creed in a post-modern world.

I see a good deal of usefulness in the Creeds.  Not just any creed but in our specific and central Creeds: Apostles' and Nicene.  They can form a lens through which we can see the world.  Like the canon-within-the-canon, it forms a "useful bias" (to use a phrase one of my sem profs used for the canon-within-the-canon concept) through which to see the rest of the world.    It forms a center around which our beliefs, understandings, theology, actions, and world-view can concentrate.  In fact, it seems to me that in a post-modern world, the Creeds, or evean a creed, become all the more important.

Mark C.

Mel Harris

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #93 on: August 07, 2007, 03:53:24 PM »
Thank you for your response, Gary.  It might be a good challenge for many of use, well, all of us, to look at the post-modern world and also find what is good about it.  Like it or not, we have moved into one, and we are certainly going to have to find ways to preach to post-modern people, be church with post-modern people, and reach out to post-modern people.  Actually, there is no future about it.  They are already in our churches.

I simply have hard time seeing the usefulness of a creed in a post-modern world.

I see a good deal of usefulness in the Creeds.  Not just any creed but in our specific and central Creeds: Apostles' and Nicene.  They can form a lens through which we can see the world.  Like the canon-within-the-canon, it forms a "useful bias" (to use a phrase one of my sem profs used for the canon-within-the-canon concept) through which to see the rest of the world.    It forms a center around which our beliefs, understandings, theology, actions, and world-view can concentrate.  In fact, it seems to me that in a post-modern world, the Creeds, or evean a creed, become all the more important.

Mark C.

It seems to me that if one looks at the world through one of the various lenses of modern arrogance, often lumped together as post modernism, then one would logically have no use for the historic creeds of the church.  Likewise, if one looks at the world through the lens of the historic creeds of the church, then one would have no use for post modern thinking.

I do not think that the world can be post modern, although it can be looked at through that lens (or those lenses).  I do think that we can reach out with the gospel to people who have a post modern world view, but I do not think that they can come to our faith and continue to have a post modern view of the world.

The mutually exclusive nature of post modernism and the historic faith expressed in the creeds, and therefore the impossibility of reasoned discussion between the two, seems to be what was behind our beloved moderator going ballistic at that table of pastors at the camp.

Mel Harris
« Last Edit: August 07, 2007, 04:02:10 PM by Mel Harris »

mchristi

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #94 on: August 07, 2007, 06:27:28 PM »
It seems to me that if one looks at the world through one of the various lenses of modern arrogance, often lumped together as post modernism, then one would logically have no use for the historic creeds of the church.  Likewise, if one looks at the world through the lens of the historic creeds of the church, then one would have no use for post modern thinking.

This illustrates one of the problems with the term "postmodern."  It gets used in a variety of different ways by different people.  I don't see "various lenses of modern arrogance," which seems to me to say the particular content of those lenses, as defining postmodernism.  Rather postmodernism is, to me, a matter how one organizes the world in thought and behavior, and our relationship with the physical world, the social world, and the world of ideas.  It might, then, apply to all sorts of lenses, including any number you might describe as being one of "modern arrogance" but also the lens of the historic creeds of the Christian church.

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I do not think that the world can be post modern, although it can be looked at through that lens (or those lenses).  I do think that we can reach out with the gospel to people who have a post modern world view, but I do not think that they can come to our faith and continue to have a post modern view of the world.

The physical world, the creation, is not bound to any particular era or the way we look at it.  On the other hand, when I speak of a postmodern world, I speak of a social and cultural situation.  That can most certainly be postmodern.  And for large portions of society (including a good many Christians, even those in our congregations) it already is.

The challenge for the church will be to reach out to people who are postmodern and make the Gospel make sense to them.  That will mean looking for what is good and useful and using it while also being critical so that particular lenses can be separated out when they are not helpful or even problematic for the communication of the Gospel.  How we tell stories and understand narratives, might be one topic to consider with this question.  In some ways, I think postmodernism makes classic Christian theology more accessible while leaving behind a Christianity that incorporates so much of post-enlightenment modernism.  It's a matter of separating the deep and important content of Christian theology and faith from some of the forms and trappings it has taken on in the last 2-3 centuries, sometimes to its detriment.

Quote
The mutually exclusive nature of post modernism and the historic faith expressed in the creeds, and therefore the impossibility of reasoned discussion between the two, seems to be what was behind our beloved moderator going ballistic at that table of pastors at the camp.

I don't see that postmodernism and historic faith are mutually exclusive by nature.  That statement, it seems to me, is possible either because postmodernism is misunderstood (or thought to be a particular set of ideas rather than a more "meta" matter about an outlook on the world and one's life), or because the differences between the historic faith of the church and the various layers that have accumulated on top of it are not clearly discerned.  (Although that discerning is often very difficult to do and not always clear.)

Mark C.

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #95 on: August 07, 2007, 08:06:16 PM »
I agree that one of the problems with the term "postmodern"  is that it gets used in a variety of different ways by different people.  The self-proclaimed post modern thought that I have read seems to simply be some of the worst features of modernism pushed toward extremes in the hope of being novel.  Apparently, Mark C. is working with a very different definition of the term "post modern" than I have seen before.

Mel Harris

mchristi

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #96 on: August 07, 2007, 09:37:34 PM »
Mel,

If you read the self-proclaimed "postmodern" philosophers, I would agree with you.  They are hyper-modernist pushing to the extremes of that.  It's a label that they put on a school of thought.

I think of postmodern more phenomenologically, maybe even a bit generationally.  I think of it as a culture that is after modernism, as a time when we move on from Enlightenment thinking for any number of reasons.  I look to culture and media; changes in how we view the world scientifically, historically, globally in the last century; self-understanding of how one's life and community fit together; how people connect and understand narratives, and so forth.  One essay that has been somewhat influential in this is "How the World Lost It's Story" by Robert Jenson (First Things, October 1993, http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5168).  I don't agree with all of his assessment, but he does at least begin to get at something here.

To engage postmodernity, and even search for ways to proclaim the Gospel to postmodern people and within a postmodern society, should not require us to embrace all that it might mean, culturally or philosophically.  But it does mean that we should be mindful that there is often a difference between how older and younger generations think of their world.  This is not all good, most certainly.  But neither is it all unfortunate.  There are, I believe, opportunities.  We can help install a Christian lens.  We don't have to be caught up in notions of a "Christian" world, of Christendom, which has certainly been used to justify many sins.  I also think it opens us up to leaving behind some of the unfortunate trappings of the Enlightenment upon Christian theology (and even Lutheran theology) while also opening up dormant connections to other eras (while still remaining historically aware).  I think it represents an opportunity for classical theology brought into the context of a postmodern world, with more openness to the spiritual realities of the world, not just the rational ones.  It could be an opportunity to renew Christian theology by seeking to express classical theology in postmodern language instead of dryly repeating shibboleths that last the impact they once carried.  This isn't going to always create satisfactory results, and we should be always putting it to the test.  But I also think that if we are to proclaim the Gospel to the world we have now, we are going to have to take a good look and see what we can make faithful use of in our proclamation and in our lives of discipleship in Christ.  Indeed, this is something Christians have always needed to do in one way or another in every era we have moved into.

Mark C. Christianson

ptmccain

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #97 on: August 07, 2007, 09:42:29 PM »
Mark C. thanks for your thoughtful posts.

You wrote:
It could be an opportunity to renew Christian theology by seeking to express classical theology in postmodern language instead of dryly repeating shibboleths that last the impact they once carried.

Can you give me a few concrete examples of classical theology expresed in postmodern language, and/as opposed to dry repetitions of shibboleths.

Thanks,
PTM

mchristi

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #98 on: August 07, 2007, 10:51:12 PM »
Can you give me a few concrete examples of classical theology expresed in postmodern language, and/as opposed to dry repetitions of shibboleths.

I hesitate to give particular formulae because that is kind of the point, formulae don't necessarily work.  I think I'm using "language" here more broadly than just words and sentences.  It has more to do with using verbal and visual imagery, telling stories and parables (and possibly in certain ways), and so forth.  Part of what I mean about repeating shibboleths is that certain words and phrases that have been in long use don't have the meaning that they once did.  For one thing, words like "salvation" and "faith" and even "sin" may need to be explored in ways that many have not needed to do.  That old Lutheran question, "What does this mean?," needs to be asked again while also going deep into our theology and tradition.  For example, with salvation we might need to be more particular about thinking not only what ways can we speak of this and think of this without the word "salvation" (although I would never say we should not use it, either), but also questions such as "to what purpose" and "why should we care about it."

More importantly, what I mean by my comment about repeating shibboleths is being more concerned about expressing ideas and seeing that they take on real meaning that reaches deep into our very being, than with using traditional language to express it.  Please note carefully, this is not an argument for abandoning that traditional language, but rather on our focus for concern and our ability to communicate the meaning.  Keep the Creeds and the catechism, make them a center, and talk about them with the emphasis on finding deep meaning in and around them.  And even more importantly, do this in and around the Scriptures.

Some particular classical theological concepts I think would be fruitful to explore in "postmodern language" is the theology of the cross (in particular how it is that we know Christ foremost through his joining us in our human predicament,  becoming a curse for us in St. Paul's language, to have compassion on us (note compassion is literally "suffering with") not so much to remove us from suffering but to be with us as we move through it, as does Christ on the cross; the idea of union with Christ (see, for example, Luther in the Freedom of a Christian but also the work of theologian John Zizioulas in "Being as Communion" on trinitarian theology, the notion of a person, and what all this means about our relationship with Christ); valuing the "christus victor" idea along with Christ as sacrifice for sin; our being justified in Christ and our being in bondage to sin.  These are not shibboleths in themselves, but they easily become so when we assume that they hold meaning for those who hear them in proclamation or in teaching.  Sometimes we need to break out of modern, Enlightenment habits here.  We need to renew our efforts, engage our imaginations, and explore these topics to make them hold real meaning again.

I am certain that some of the people who were sharing the table with Richard when he went ballistic would say some things very similar.  I can understand that this will cause some concern and skepticism.  But it seems to me that many of the people like those who sparked off Richard actually go in a hypermodern direction.  They cut off a fixed anchor and set themselves (and others) adrift.  What they don't find, then, is that what they cut loose is actually a center with some real and powerful gravity to it.  The difference in metaphor is, I think, important.

I don't know how well I answered your question, Paul, but as I noted above.  In some ways this is a big theological and ministry project or program, needing much to consider and many faithful people to pursue it.

Mark C.

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Re: Johnson Goes Ballistic
« Reply #99 on: August 12, 2007, 10:22:47 PM »
For a faithful, biblical editing of the Apostles Creed see Dr. Harry Wendt's course, "An Apostles' Creed for the New Millennium"

First article adds "and Owner of the heavens and the earth" following the affirmation of God the Father as Creator.

Second article does include material on the life of Jesus, summarizing his journey by saying that He lived "as a Servant without limit"

Third article names the battle of the Spirit, waged against Satan, the demonic, and the sinful, deathly powers- how it is only by the Spirit's power these are defeated.

Of course, this Crossways course is not actually trying to re-write the ancient creed, but to draw out its meaning.

Perhaps this is what some faithful, orthodox believers are attempted to do.

See www.crossways.org

Peace, Tim S-B
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 10:24:39 PM by S-B »