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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Behold the Pierced One
This week I've been reading Pope Benedict's (then Cardinal Ratzinger's) book by the title above. I really appreciate the way some of these Roman Catholic giants do theology. (I also read a USA Today story about people being fired from their jobs because of their blogs. ;>) So- off the record- I kind of think of the Roman Catholics as the Race of Men and I think of the Methodists (at least myself) as a Hobbit. I'm not prepared to defend all the implications of that line of thought as I haven't fully thought it through. . . . . but it's a fun thought to toy with.

Ratzinger ala Benedict is dealing with an experiential epistemology (way of knowing) rooted in prayer. It is not a circumference-less or open-ended epistemology. That's what I love about the best Roman Catholic teaching-- it is thoroughly Christ centered. That is the problem with theology coming primarily from the source of one's experience (which is the genesis of our division in the Methodist Church) It has no circumference because it has no center. So behold this thought from the German Shepherd (i.e. Benedict 16)

"The New Testament continually reveals this state of affairs and thus provides the foundation for a theological epistemology. Here is simply one example: when Ananias was sent to Paul to receive him into the Church, he was reluctant and suspicious of Paul; the reason given to him was this: go to him 'for he is praying' (Acts 9:11). In prayer, Paul is moving toward the moment when he will be freed from blindness and will begin to see, not only exteriorly but interiorly as well. The person who prays begins to see; praying and seeing go together because-- as Richard of St. Victor says-- 'Love is the faculty of seeing.' Real advances in Christology, therefore, can never come merely as the result of the theology of the schools, and that includes the modern theology as we find it in critical exegesis, in the history of doctrine and in an anthropology oriented toward the human sciences, etc. All this is important, as important as schools are. But it is insufficient. It must be complemented by the theology of the saints, which is theology from experience. All real progress in theological understanding has its origin in the eye of love and in its faculty of beholding." (pp.26-27).

any of you fellow "Halflings" out there have any thoughts about this?
posted by John David Walt | at 6/15/2005 10:38:00 AM

 

10 Comments:

Blogger gmw said...

whew! Okay, first of all, very nicely done with the "German Shepherd" reference. We have much to learn from Catholics. I think many of the theological issues that we face as Protestants and Evangelicals (or whatever we'd like to call ourselves) are things that the Catholics have already worked through and have centuries of a jump on us (like Evangelicals and eccelesiology for example).

Yeah, since we believe that God is known because he chooses to reveal himself ("revelation epistemology"?) and not because we're clever or perceptive enough on our own to discover him, then we've got to have a better synthesis balancing the knowing of God through all of our faculties that have been made in his image. But prayer (substitute "relationship"?) is the means by which we pay attention to God in such a way that our faculties are integrated so that we "know" holistically.

I watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon the other night again (one of my favs) and got to thinking about the role of meditation. Obviously the movie is Eastern in its worldview, but there have been Christian mystics and Nouwen challenges us as Christian leaders to be mystics (in "In the Name of Jesus"), knowing God deeply and intimately as only a mystic can as well as thoughtfully as only a rational can.

This Halfling is aiming to be a "Scholar-Mystic" who listens well to God's self-revealing voice with all He has given me with which to listen.

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Brian said...

Mmmmm...I just love Richard of St. Victor. (He's right up there with Joel Osteen.)

I appreciate what Pope Benny says. I especially appreciate him saying that experiential epistemology must be "complemented" by the theology of the saints.

This gives great latitude to God's spirit while tethering us to a faith that is not ours, but has been handed down to us.

4:04 PM EDT  
Anonymous scott said...

JD,

Sounds like you are continuing your journey "beyond the shire."

The pontiff's statement, sounds similar to Joel Green's thoughts about reading in front of the text. If I remember this correctly, Joel suggests that we bring ourselves to the text and these experiences shape the lense we read through. And as we read together in community, your reading informs mine and mine informs yours.

Guy, I would love to hear your thoughts on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Struggled through that movie--loved Kung Fu Hustle. Have enjoyed reading your blog.

Scott

4:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous Scott said...

Guy, I could not post on your blog but its clear from your activity on JD's blog that you are his second favorite hero. Looks like Noland Donald is his first hero.

I thought I would respond to your question regarding Neo-Orthodoxy.

Neo-orthooxy may be best described by Brian McLaren in his book A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN

Does this describe you?

I think neo-orthodoxy is really Weslyan Theology--social holiness yoked with personal holiness. The two hand-in-hand. Also, a heavy dose of Trinitarian theology and missiology.

Scott

4:50 PM EDT  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

Nolan who? and when do we see the Scott Lees Sees blog?

4:58 PM EDT  
Blogger gmw said...

Hey Scott (via JD),

Try commenting on my blog now. I played around with the settings so I think you'll be able to get on there. Just do me a favor and don't post anonymously--I like to keep the conversation up with real live people.

As for "neo-orthodox", I'm not sure whether the McLaren title gets it or not. The only McLaren book I've read is the one we read for an evangelism class at Asbury. It was good, but I think it's been retitled, so it's hard to keep up with which one it was that I read! With McLaren's name and writings being so linked to the "emergent" church, it's hard to know if he's a neo-orthodox or if he's emergent...and I'm not sure those are the same thing. I think the book's title is catchy for those looking for a synthesis of the best of each tradition. But that's also the aim of the ecumenical movement, and the Tom Oden, etc. "ecumenical consensus" group, and a host of others.

My own take is that the evangelical holiness Wesleyan/Methodist tradition actually takes in a lot of these categories rather than being one of the many categories. I'm not a fundamentalist, a Calvinist, nor an Anabaptist, even though I think we've got something to learn from them. Nor am I Catholic, even though I think we've got much to learn from Catholic Christians.

As far as Crouching Tiger goes, I'll do a post on it sometime soon. I also really enjoyed Hero with Jet Li. I want to see Kung Fu Hustle and The House of Flying Daggers. CTHD is a beautiful movie. The action is like dancing. I love the mythical other-worldliness and the richness of the story and the characters. More at some point on my blog...and thanks for bringing up!

6:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Michel said...

One could not have expected less from a Pontiff who chose the Blessed Saint Benedict as his patron! (IOGD!)

Truly a masterpiece of theological insight that Pope Benedict XVI is! An interum Pope, but a definite asset to the church.

What I like about what you have quoted JD is that in his appeal to prayer and the lessons of the saints is the automatic recognition that the Bible is never read alone. Prayer denotes the need for the Holy Spirit to illumine the text, and the "theology of the saints" recognizes the communal nature of the Gospel.

12:03 AM EDT  
Anonymous Scott said...

Guy,

A good blog to read when it comes to neo-orthodoxy is alancreech.com Another you might enjoy is peter matthews. you can link to his from the asburyblog.net

Peter is a former Baptist campus pastor who is now ordained in the anglican community via rewanda. He has a god discussion going regarding the church.

I think a good way to get into McLaren's head (if you are interested) is to read New Kind of Christian, and part 2 The Story We Find Ourselves In, and his new book (personally have not read this one yet) The Last Word and the Word after That : A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity.

The first book deconstructs many of our western evangelical paradigms, while the second book reconstructs based on the biblical narrative. I'm assuming the third book deals with implications of this reconstruction.

I look forward to more discussions over at your blog. Based on what you said about CTHD you will love Kung Fu. JD, you can see this movie no major mercies.

Scott

10:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Nolan said...

John David, don't you forsake me! The world knows your true feelings. They are clearly posted on my blog.

10:39 PM EDT  
Blogger gmw said...

Hey Scott,

I could be completely off here, but much of what I hear from others or glean from articles about or by McLaren is stuff that good many Wesleyans who lean evangelical but have a grounding within the mainline churches (in their best creedal orthodoxy) are already cool with. We're not transitioning out of fundamentalism and trying to differentiate ourselves as it seems many other evangelicals do(esp. from conservative Reformed backgrounds). I've yet to get into those books of his b/c my perception is I would just end up nodding my head a lot and not be as engaged as when reading some other authors who are working theologically on a deeper level and who aren't having to lay extensive groundwork in deconstructing the fundy or very conservative evangelical paradigms. Like people who are solidly orthodox but are regulars in The Christian Century instead of Christianity Today, for example. Being careful how I say this, but my perception is that I wouldn't learn as much via McLaren that I don't already know as I would through others. I know that I could always learn something, but I hope you get my drift and, as I said, I could be quite wrong.

11:38 PM EDT  

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