A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Friday, January 25, 2008

One Approach

If the Bible is not infallible, sometimes the question is asked: why not throw out the Bible and Christianity as not worthwhile and start fresh. This is one answer I posted on friendly atheist:

It may be that I find more resources in the Bible than some folks in this discussion even as I acknowledge that not everything in the text is helpful. But my religion does not center on the Bible, one’s object of devotion ought to be God (everything else being instrumental)

I do try to utilize the breadth of a 2000 year tradition that includes the scriptures but it also includes everyone from Augustine to Martin Luther King, from St. Francis to Gene Robinson in making sense of the human situation, the problems of life.

When folks say let’s start fresh, throw it all out, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Partly because ignorance of the past doesn’t prevent repeating the mistakes of the past and because we are historical creatures, we don’t have the option of tossing it out.

And partly because there have been practices, ideas, etc in the past that help illuminate the present, sometimes in a better fashion than what is served up today. I’ll take Augustine over Dr. Phil and Oprah in thinking about the question of good and evil.

And lastly in a world that is marked by a hyper kind of individualism, we have a possibility of participating in communities (churches, synagogues, etc) that aid each other, that can explore life together, and some of the big issues in a way that few other venues exist.

When I stand in the Christian tradition, I don’t cut myself off from resources outside of that tradition, I read with pleasure philosophy, humanist thinkers (Huxley), other world religions (the Reform Gates of Prayer has been a companion for me for a while now).

To stand in a tradition is rather to acknowledge that as I look at these other resources, I do stand in a location, I have a starting point, I have a history, I have a language, an inheritance, and a community from which I can engage that and the wider world.

1 Comments:

At 7:11 AM , Blogger Drew said...

The other issue here is that no tradition is monolithic but multivariate in itself. Part of a tradition is a shared set of symbols and language, but the ways that those symbols and language are apprehended by people within that tradition is and perhaps ought to be varied and more complex. What I mean by the latter half of that statement is that some traditions try to suppress this multivariate nature of tradition itself. This is what I see as an event within many that enforce ideas like infallibility. Traditions like the text are mediums for the object of worship who cannot be contained by those media. To fully contain that object of worship is what the Hebrews onward called idolatry. TO hold the text as something infallible is therefore something akin to the phenomenon.

 

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