Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Filtered Christianity

I was having a dialogue with Nathan at Called to Communion. He is a Lutheran arguing that we don't need to obey church leaders if they are bad. He does not really argue that. He mostly documents their badness and thinks that it becomes obvious that Jesus does not require us to obey them. I argue there that in Mat 23 explicitly commands His followers to obey bad leaders. 

The problem is we appoint ourselves as the judge of badness. What it does is it puts a filter on our pipeline with God. When God tries to tell us something through His leaders we allow ourselves to label the leaders bad instead of obeying. It does not seem like a big deal at first. But like all sin it gets worse and worse over time until it leads to death.

What happens is we limit God by our own imagination. God's wisdom is foolish to men. So when it comes to us we need to put aside our human assumptions and accept that His thinking is higher than ours. That is just not compatible with the idea that we can judge the messenger to be wrong. What we end up with is something human. Something that tries to make sense of all the data but it is a human attempt to do so. The first real attempt at this was by John Calvin. It was pretty impressive but it was still human. There were certain truths about God that were foolish to Calvin and so he rejected them and tried to create a system of theology that worked without them.

There have been many more attempts to make this filtered Christianity work. They all have different things they find foolish in God's revelation. They often embrace the errors of the previous generation. You end up with a man-made theology or a bunch of man-made theologies.

The big question facing us today is, "Did man invent God or did God invent man?" Is the idea of God something man created to give himself a meaning and purpose, to give himself a basis for morality, to give himself comfort when facing death or for whatever other reason? It is a fair question. They look at Christianity and see this collection of man-made theologies. What conclusion are they going to arrive at?

Many have said the bible contains a story so incredible man could not have made it up. That is true but people are so familiar with the basic story that it stops being amazing. When you get past the basic story you lose that sense of wonder if you are examining a protestant faith or, worse yet, a number of protestant faiths.

When you begin to dig into Catholicism in a charitable way. That is you are able to see it's beauty and not just look for it's faults. What becomes clear is that man could not have invented the Catholic church. The wonder does not disappear after you get past the basic story. It just gets more amazing. It is unfiltered Christianity. What happens when you let God tell you things you know are foolish.

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