We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, October 30. 2007
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That, my friend, is one of the major reasons I could never become a Protestant.
That Fra Angelico always stops me in my tracks. It is amazing.
Why not? Say more, please. Not that I want to turn you into a Protestant. But that one does not have to be Protestant to benefit from Bonhoeffer. I go to a church so loving and nurturing that cynical agnostic friends who visit sneer at its happy-clappy style. The God we worship and kind fellow worshippers keeps me going thru dark days, but I know I need Bonhoeffer's reminders that tho Jesus came to bring us abundant life, it will always be a life of sacrifice and struggle, not blessed relief (people take drugs off label for the latter....) Jesus himself called us but told us to count the cost first ,not be all loosey goosey about faith, as if it were a picnic on a sunny day. The pearl of great price costs us dearly.
The Catholic missionaries I worked with in my youth have lived this more directly actually than many of my present Protestant fellow workshippers, especially the Jesuits and others I worked with in child welfare for a Catholic agency.
Here's a nice short sermon I found random googling, trying to find something else today, that could have been titled, the limits of cheap grace or lovey dovey faith: http://www.godweb.org/limitsoflove.htm
Do not mean to sound hectoring, tho, so pls. forgive me for verbal clumsiness (home w mild flu, have to drag kid out to doctor unrelated, and wish I could have a nice angel zap me with some feel good energies to sally forth less like a drowned rat...)
And, yes, Fra Angelico is awesome...
I hope you folks have kept up on the latest political events--Dennis Kucinich has called President Bush insane. This is a meaningful political event.
When I started to turn away from my Protestant Lutheran Church, it was just because of that, cheap grace--it is time to grow up nowl The idea of salvation by faith alone does not pass the test of an intellectual examination.
The idea of salvation by faith alone is perfectly Scriptural -- the entire book of Galatians, especially 2:16, makes this abundantly clear. The problem is some people have confused "salvation" with "sanctification." This is like confusing "wedding" with "marriage."
There is absolutely nothing we can do to effect our salvation other than accept, in faith, Jesus's sacrifice for us on the cross. But that is merely the beginning of the Christian life, not the completion -- as James 2:17 shows, faith without works is dead.
You marry someone for love, but you spend many years in works reflecting that love. If you have to perform works so somebody will "love" you, well, I submit that is not love worthy of the name. You are saved once you put your faith (trust) in Jesus's atonement on the cross as the expiation for your sins, but we don't sit at the foot of the cross all day anymore than we spend our entire marriage in a wedding gown. We then grow in that faith and what it means in our works.
Interesting discussion, glad I found this blog via Tim Blair.
Pelagius--that fellow from Britain--we all know, in our hearts, that what he said was true--you got to do it for yourself. We all know that, if we are honest with ourselves.
I tried to make a google post to 'Pelagius' from wiki but it did not go through. Look it up, interesting dude.
My sins, whatever they are, are mine alone, and I would not want Jesus to die for them. I would not be a grown up hominid if I asked that of someone else.
RC canon law proscribes Antinomianism as heretical. In one sense, Bonhoeffer was arguing a point that emphasizes the RC rationale quite well. Pelagianism is also heretical according to canon law and the reasoning for that decision is even more clear than that used for proscribing Antinomianism. Bonhoeffer was an excellent theologian and very prescient concerning the fact that cheap grace makes excellent paving for the road to hell (regarding the collapse of "mainline" denominations) but he never quite came around to examining (in his writing, at any rate) whether some basic tenets were actually simply Gnosticism in new clothes.
One of these years I'm going to decide whether the Reformation was a "good thing" or a "bad thing". I'm waiting for my gnosis tank to peg out on FULL prior to doing so - it may be a while.
Thanks, Rick, for your helpful comments. Am retreating to the sofa with some books and the laptop to read more about it all...
Then, again, may just watch "The Mission" for the tenth time...Robert De Niro is my idea of a justified sinner in it...love him dragging that armor around, and what the Jesuit missionary tells him to do with it...
When I was in grad school, the theological snobs used to sneer that Bonhoeffer was no more and no less than a popular Lenten author for congregations, that his theology was flawed, that he preaches only a crucified Lord, and not much about Resurrection. Easy for them to say...He died young. Thinking about Tertullian (?) saying the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, re: Bonhoeffer. Would his book, and his inspiring tho imperfect theology have hit home so hard if he had not been killed by the Nazis? Read a decent post on this from a Reformed perspective here http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/05/the_blood_of_the_martyrs.php
Perhaps it hit home because our church was just visited by a missionary speaking graphically about the persecutions he and his fellow misionaries were enduring. My offspring were scathing about the foolishness of said missionaries, I snarled that they were native inhabitants of the country in question, and could not therefore be sneered at as Ugly Americans imposing Cultural Imperialism on an indigenous culture (the stock PC view on missionaries espoused by kids in their public school), but rather brave converts to Christianity who were living in abject poverty, yet reaching out in love to others and looking after abused kids and orphans, etc. And who are being beaten and killed by their neighbors in return.
But I am very ignorant about Roman canon law. In my youthful ministry, the Catholic hierarchy were positively vile to the priests, brothers, nuns and lay ministers I worked with serving the poor. Our local cardinal was an SOB, and it seemed that whenever any priest reached out to the poor they would run afoul of him. I was the token Protestant in my agency (our constituency were mostly Protestant or unchurched) and I still remember being warned not to take communion when said cardinal came to preen at a service at our chapel. Because, of course, tho I worked for a church agency, "extra ecclesia....etc." I was diplomatic and refrained from taking part in the Mass when he was there. But he preached abominably, and was about as spiritual as a beefsteak. No compassion for the people we served, just cliches in a bored tone of voice....
I wish there had never been a Reformation. So much blood, so much division in Christ's body. Weakened the church. Imagine what this country would have been like divided, had we not kept the Union together....But years of working with people in the RC church convinced me that I would have bolted too...The Church and its leaders are fallible humans, IMHO, and that is why I lean towards the congregation rather than Mother Church. And if I toast in hell for it, so be it. I wouldn't promise to obey in my marriage vows, either...just an uppity New England woman, seldom wrong and never in doubt...actually, these days, often wrong and my most cherished beliefs regularly shredded by my fierce adolescents' claws and teeth delighting in proving me wrong!
You might wish to add http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399862/ "End of the Spear" to "The Mission" regarding films concerning martyrdom.
I am unqualified to make a determination as to whether Bonhoeffer's theology is "flawed". I find him rather convincing when set alongside Calvin. I just wonder whether he would have continued his reflections to the point where a revision of his views on salvation would have occured. His clarity regarding cheap grace leads me to think that he would have pursued the issue to a logical conclusion.
Thinking of him always leads me to CS Lewis' imaginary bishop - deciding that reigning in hell makes ever so much more sense than serving in heaven.
Wow, it does my heart good to read a little Bonhoeffer at the end of the day. The example of Bonhoeffer staying true to Christ in the midst of so much compromise in Nazi Germany inspires 60 years later.
Bonhoeffer said, right at the end of his life, for me, it is entering eternal life.
Retriever--having read what you wrote, I don't think you will 'roast in hell'--but that is just one man's opinion!
Fine post and good comments that tie the mind to the heart. It is Christ, after all, who demands as a condition of discipleship that we each pick up our own cross if we would follow him. To be a so-called-Resurrection person one has to get "crucified" first--in whatever form that entails. The vast majority of ways consist of nails pounded into one's heart or head or both.
One of the things we Protestants could learn from Roman Catholics is the sense of awe and mystery around God, around Christ. We tend to have God in our rational boxes, which he's forever kicking in -- so we rebuild the box to accommodate that footprint.
Bonhoeffer would have fit nicely in that Social Gospel thread posted here a while back. Inspiring man, yes, although I'm not sure being part of a murder plot, no matter if it's to murder Adolf Hitler or what, is the best way to model a life committed to God's grace.
And shame on him for calling Anabaptists "heretical."
Of passing interest--and I certainly don't know the truth of this--but I read the other day that the reason for the outbreak of iconoclism in eastern Christianity was that the muslims were winning battles, and it was noticed that they did not make images. Therefore the thought arose, we are being punished for violating the commandment about not making images, so we better stop doing that. Just a thought, but an interesting one.
This is an interesting thing, salvation. I take an older view, that we are already 'saved'--just by being born in this ever livng ever dying universe. Whence this division between creator and creature? In some of the older images, the gift of immortal life in the garden of this world was offered freely from the divinity, only needing to be accepted. The drink ambrosia poured forth from an ever renewing source. The monotheisms(islam excepted) have contributed to our sense of how we should behave to one anotheri.ut the drink is there, in the older images. I wish I could post some of the older artwork, in their more crude artwork of the time, but I don't know how to post it. And when you go back even further back, before agriculture, to the hunter gatherers, you still don't find a great division between creator and creature, not in the stern monotheistic sense, that has come to dominate our societies. And this stern sense of a god --just one!--out there somewhere who is on our 'side' against all the others--it may still blow up the world. In fact, the chances of that happening are increasing, as the insane clue in to the nuclear weapons. But Mother Nature is patient, and kind, and if we screw it up, somewhere, sometime, she will offer us another opportunity, even if we don't deserve it. Because she loves her children. After all, she is inconcievable, but has that drink, ambrosia.
I'd add one more thought. I think Jesus is best understood as a guide, a light, a 'role model' - what our present day parents are told to be, and should be too. "What I can do, you can do too, and more.' he said. The fellow that pointed at the divinity, was made into a divinty himself, by the people around him, after he died.
'The words of a dead man are modified in the guts of the living.' WH Auden
In one sense you're right, Bob, Jesus is our guide, our example, of course, but his whole point is precisely that we are incapable of following him without confessing our sinfulness, accepting his salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit -- after which, he said, "you shall do greater works than these."
And he was right -- on Pentecost Sunday when Peter preached to the crowd thousands came to faith. In all his preaching Jesus never had thousands come to faith at once like that. Paul spread the gospel to the Roman empire, Jesus never did that. Greater works, indeed.
You have to take Jesus at his own word. Jesus himself said everything I myself do is by the Father's power, he never once said we should use our own power to try to emulate him, he knew it was impossible. His entire ministry was to tell people about the Kingdom of God and provide the only way possible for us to enter that Kingdom -- viz, faith in the forgiveness of sins available through his death and resurrection.
St. Paul had it correct -- if Jesus did not die for our sins and wasn't resurrected, then Christians are the most pitiable creatures on earth, stumbling along with a role model none of us have a prayer of living up to.
I love how C.S. Lewis put it: Jesus was either one of the greatest liars the world has ever known, one of the most notorious madmen, or the very Son of God Himself. He can either be completely dismissed or completely worshipped, he left no coherent third way to view him.
What I personally discovered about thirty five to forty years ago, is Iwould much rather 'hang out' with good Christian folk, the reason being that they were so much more optimistic and fun to be around than the others. I know these theological discussions have been around forever, and while I have my views, I don't insist I'm right, and wouldd much rather put up with a little disagreement, in exchange for the companionship of good hearted human beings. That is my (currently :) settled opinion:)
Amen. I find it much more interesting to hang out with smart people who don't believe the same things I do.
Check out Drudge. Kucinich says he saw a UFO. I got to get some sleep. NIght.