Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"You are removing God from the everyday!"

Here is the point of resistance: "What you are saying removes God from the everyday!" This is the resistance constantly offered against my turn toward radical sola scriptura, this is the real sticking point against all my talk of psychologism and serendipity and revelation and God-breathed and authority and law and gospel and stuff. And, I must admit, there is an element of truth in this. The direction I'm facing does remove "God" from the everyday moment, in a manner of speaking.

Now, this is not to say it secularizes everything, it doesn't. There is no doubt that God upholds and orders all things (Genesis/Ephesians/Colossians passim). What it does remove is the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. It denies every request to look for God in things (en se). It “limits” our knowledge of God, or , if you will, our places of finding God, to Word and Sacrament directly and creation (natural theology) indirectly, but in this latter only in a derivative sense. To explain.

Where natural theology is concerned, it denies that we can begin with the observable world and go on to say anything properly about God. This would be the analogia entis with which Barth beat Catholicism about the ears. Underneath this practice is the Roman Catholic assertion that God does not destroy but perfects nature. Instead, the position to which I am turning begins with Word and Sacrament and only then goes on to say anything about the world which correspond to these things – for example, as a good sermon illustration would do, or in the way we give thanks or that we do good works.

Thus, this is to assert a difference between God and the world. This is to assert the need for special revelation. This is to assert that God redeems the world not as much by perfecting its nature but by killing it and bringing it back to life again. In short, the direction I am looking is, as closely as I can tell, fundamentally Reformational, and fundamentally a "theology of the cross" where any attempt to say anything about God apart from the cross was denounced by Luther as a theology of glory, sure to be an assertion of man and sure to be an eruption of law and an eradication of grace.

This is only a radical move when one considers the evangelical folk-religion Christianity represented by the revivalist/pietist tradition. Indeed, it is because I have begun calling that tradition into question that I’m beginning to wonder whether or not what I'm actually doing is setting off toward another expression of Protestantism entirely; one found in a denomination which discovers it origins closer to the magisterial rather than the radical Reformation. But, of course, one which does not loose the very deposit of faith which has set me off in such an unknown direction. Yes, this is scary, but it is also exciting, in that I am quite sure that by following as best as I can in the direction of the elevation of Scripture, I am discovering a better and more accurate way of understanding Jesus himself, as he is for me, as I am for him, and as this relationship is discovered in the trinitarian economy of God’s saving and redeeming work in the world.

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