So here's one for the "your God's too small" department...

Last night I had a long theological conversation with my wife about something that has confounded me most of my life:  namely, how do I hold to my affirmation of a profoundly orthodox Christian theology - not without some wrinkles and doubts, mind you - but very traditional with a high Christology; AND celebrate and honor the other great faith traditions of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism as true and valid, too? 

+ To be sure, I know that Harvey Cox is on to something when he speaks of "the many mansions of the Father" in Christ's discourse in John 14 - something that Fr. Ed Hays grasps, too - just as Hendricks Smith honors God by praying five times a day as a Muslim, practicing Zen meditation all through the name of Jesus as Lord.

+ How, then, does this fit with my equally true affirmation that something objectively changed in the world and heaven and earth through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?  For, that has been both my intellectual and mystical reality.

So my dear heart says, "Aren't you always talking about the paradox of faith?  The bold and challenging truth of God?  Could it be that not only are all the faith traditions true and noble, but that the orthodox way of Christ has opened some uniquely important truths for you that cannot be reconciled this side of glory?" 

Well, damn, says I:  once again, lassie, I think you're on to something.  Perhaps I CAN hold two seemingly contradictory notions of God's presence in the world and trust that beyond my limitations they fit into a grand scheme that I can only see darkly now but may see one day face to face.  I know that most of my favorite Christian theologians who have attempted authentic inter-faith work either "dumb down" traditional theology to be "nice," or else seem to fake it and avoid the hard questions.  All, except the "three amigos" of the Pacific Northwest who not only worship with one another, but bring out all the hard texts and challenges to see where love leads.

As even Augustine noted, when either common sense or love is to be compromised, we need to put away the literal words of scripture and tradition and follow the true spirit of the Lord into love.  Ok... so perhaps my God has been too small, yes?  So I'm off to play one final Irish gig for this season in my kilt to the glory of God!

Comments

Black Pete said…
I know what it's like to live with a great theologian, James. That helped me, too.

And what you're articulating is the challenge of being authentic in an interfaith setting without being competitive of the truth, or abandoning of it.

"Many paths up the mountain." --Zen saying
Di said…
He always makes me sound so eloquent. Believe me, at midnight after an 8-hour closing shift at work, I wasn't nearly that pretty about what I said. But he got the gist of the message right, anyway— "Aren't you always all about paradox? Isn't this just another paradox?" Something like that.
RJ said…
Thanks to you both... (smiles) you both light up my life (albeit in very different ways.)
Black Pete said…
Hey, Di, you got it across--that's the main thing! :)
Philomena Ewing said…
A perfect synergy of man and woman here or is that an oxymoron ?!
You are lucky to be able to discuss such matter at all me-thinks !
Blessings
RJ said…
Methinks you are right - and blessed, too. Great to hear from you.
Luke said…
here's a few wrinkles i like to throw the way of those who are certain that Christianity is the only way. first would be the whole "I have other flocks than these" John 10:16

and then there's Augustine, who is often worshiped more than Jesus in the church, who said "there are those that God has that the church has not."

pretty tight. great post.
RJ said…
Great to hear from you, Luke. Blessed Easter to you and your family, too.

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