Monday, October 12, 2009

an Eye-Opening Experience...

This past week, we were assigned to panel groups in the Ethics in an Ecumenical Perspective class and had to come ready to discuss one of the assigned topics:
Stem Cell Research
Homosexual Marriage/Homosexual Rights
Illegal Immigration/Border Control/Economic Refugees

You were also assigned a role to play in your particular panel. One was a Catholic, one a Baptist, one a United Church of Christ (Universalist), and one a Lutheran. The Lord was highly favoring me and gave me the Lutheran role in the less than hot topic border control/illegal immigration. So, what's a former Lutheran to do when she needs to sound like a Lutheran? Why, call up her old, Lutheran-to-the-core dad and talk about border control! Come panel time, I was a full-fledged Lutheran ready to cry out about the right and left hand of God (I think I got an A that day for participation, thanks dad).

The beginning of the eye-opening experience was the other students in the class. Now, most of these students, going to Boston College and doing master work in Theology or Ethics or something of the sort are Jesuit. In fact, I think there are myself and one other woman in the class who are NOT Catholic or Jesuit. So, one man, who had been assigned Baptist and given the topic of homosexual marriage, merely quoted Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them," and used that as his opening statement. I laughed at this one A LOT, because this dear Catholic pretty much nailed the Baptist mentality on the head, and had a spot on southern accent while doing it.

During a break in the class, I was talking to one of the students - let's call him Harry for the sake of discretion. Now, Harry is a Jesuit, but also is a free-wheeling philosophical thinker. So, he would describe himself as a pantheistic polytheist. He told me this in week 2, we are now in week 6. I have been trying to wrap my head around this one for 4 weeks now, but it got further explained to me this week when he was talking about a paper he had to write for Christology. He said that he describes the incarnation as Christ being incarnated from all of the gods. Let's say this together, folks..... "WHAT???" A little later, when he found out that I still held the view of God's Providence and Predestination together, he called it "quaint." NO LIE, QUAINT!!!! When he asked for an explanation on this, I let him know that this is my hermeneutical view of Romans 9, and that I fully and firmly believe that God will be glorified through all of this mess that we call a world. I also shared with him something I had learned last week from my reading in Calvin's Institutes that God is restraining the devil from going completely off the deep end. So, while we see things as completely horrible and evil (like Hurricane Katrina, Hitler, Genocide in Africa, Apartheid, you name it), this is not the worst the devil can do. God is restraining absolute chaos, absolute evil, because He is working on reconciliation, He is giving the Church a chance to reach out and help. Now this is a completely separate topic that I have yet to fully think through, so I need to digress back to the point. My friend, Harry, once I mentioned "the devil roaming around like a lion," stopped me there and asked if I really believed in a person which is the devil or Satan. I sat there and said, "Well, yes. I do. I read my Bible and take it for what it says."

Now, this may sound like a Sunday School answer, folks, but what I was trying to tap into with Harry was that for me, as a Protestant Evangelical, I fully believe that the Bible has authority over my life as the revealed Word of God. I also read it in the literal sense, not some analogical/allegorical/morality myth mess. I really did not see the problem with John Calvin or William Perkins, who I had also read earlier that week The Art of Prophesying (fantastic book!), when they were saying that God has given us authority through His Word. We, as the Church, hold no authority over the Scriptures. And while I understood that these two men were speaking out against the Catholic Church in particular on this one, I did not really believe that any Catholic would really say that he has some sort of authority over what the Bible says. But, there is my friend, Harry, who has the freedom to become a pantheistic polytheist and conforming that to Christianity. Who also finds that my literal interpretation of the Word of God is quaint, and who when I said that my view of God is that "my God is far bigger than myself," said in response, "My God is Myself." I do realize that Harry is as far left as we are going to get in the liberal realm of Catholicism, but this was eye opening for me.

Some final thoughts. What is your authority? Do you truly live under an authority? If it is Scripture, are you attempting to explain away some passage in Scripture in order to no longer be under its authority? Have you really wrestled with that passage of Scripture, or do you just find it offensive and stick to your logical reasoning on the subject instead? Maybe it is time to wrestle?

No comments:

Post a Comment