Monday, October 18, 2004

Foolishness to the Greeks Chapter 5b

Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture on Amazon

Chapter 5b:

foolishness to the greeks coverThough for the most part, Bishop Newbigin's book has not been as engrossing to me as Professor Koyama, wow, I really liked chapter 5b! He says post-Enlightenment thought and behavior has trumped the old assumption that resources are finite and *some* of us have been acting as if resources of all kinds are infinite…hmmm…lots of familiar ideas, esp that any economy needs to be a mixed economy; he cites the need early on in industrialization and modernization for governmental intervention and even governmental controls to save people from the exploitative outcome of the purer forms of capitalism. He thinks capitalism and consumerism are the sin of covetousness, considers it "a desperately dangerous case of cancer in the body of human society." These days I'm beginning to agree, and not only because I'm living in southern California. Though his proposed alternative doesn't seem particularly realistic, either—but then Christianity's not about logic and realism.

Marian, our moderator asked:
"Should the image of Jesus Christ be in the central shrine of public life? Are we comfortable with this? Is Christianity better than other religions?...What do you think?"
Everyone who knows me [from these forums] probably has figured out I'm Barthian on this issue, so I'll start by saying asking if Christianity is "better than other religions" is like comparing mangos and avocados and then throwing in some rolled oats, because Christianity's not a religion in the common sense of the word "religion." One of the discussion participants asked, "If Christ is to be the central shrine of our culture, is it as service or as sovereignty? And if not Christ, who or what?" His question is my answer: if not Christ, who or what? Because some idea or icon or god or combination of many and/or all of those must be sovereign, since the people need a god…but without the God of Truth people and state both perish! I'll go back to something I think I wrote on Water Buffalo Theology, or maybe I didn't post it there, but lately I've sure been saying it a lot: whether or not a person - or a culture - claims Christ Sovereign Lord of All, Christ is Sovereign and Lord of All: Christus Pantocratur.

I absolutely agree Bishop Newbigin's not remotely talking about establishment of religion nor does he man a visible, physical - in Westminster language, a "sensible" - representation when he refers to "the image of Jesus Christ in the central shrine of public life."

How do we enthrone Jesus Christ in the public arena? By claiming our created-in-God image [, justice, community, *otherness and strangerness*, slowness, creativity...] by doing justice and mercy; by treating each person and all people as fully human, actively affirming and celebrating the Divine in them! I'd also hope a major part of the witness of the present-day church still would be "See how they love one another." So, I believe, we enthrone Jesus publicly and privately particularly with the quality of our friendships - Jesus' ultimate accolade to his companions and disciples was calling them "friends!"

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