Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Going out on a limb

This will offend some and I don't want to be too hypocritical, but this is coming to me today:

Steve  and I have been commenting on a site called the nakedpastor where the author of many pictures and cartoons illustrates the problems he and other have and have had with the "church".  Some of it reminds me of i-monk, which I've always enjoyed.  And the discussion, though often vigorous, was usually gracious and constructive.  Many people there witness to the "post-evangelical-wilderness" but have not given up on faith or Jesus Christ. They know they must have him and his grace or they might as well expire.  There was always that which we could share.  Michael  Spencer was also always very forthright and transparent with his readers while being gentle.  This was incredibly refreshing and his greatest strength.

I don't get that same sense at the nakedpastor.  There is some transparency attempted with the commentary on the pictures but it usually is guarded in some way, questions are not answered directly.  One does not get the sense that we are on a quest for truth together, rather that truth is individual.  Yes, No?  Or we need to just listen more to ourselves and our spirit and God's Spirit and not be manipulated?  Maybe that's it.   I find the ambiguity  distressing.  I like to think for myself and speak honestly.  Surely, I am a posterchild for this.  Yet, I also have something to confess.

There is a way of being "prophetic" and a way not not being "prophetic" at all.  Yet, I sympathize with those who struggle with their faith and with what they have experienced and how they feel they have been abused.  Abuse should be exposed.  All manner of abuse should be exposed and the blogger exposes some.  I am with him there.  There we are on the right track.

I am trying to listen with an open mind, though, and hear the pain.  Still, the answer is decent, Christ-centered,  scriptural, teaching about sin and forgiveness, and love and truth.

The other thing I am reminded of, is a piece by CBC radio "Tapestry"  not too long ago on one of Daniel Dennett's attacks on Christianity by focusing on disillusioned pastors.  This was a very sad piece to me.  In a way what came out of it for me was:  if you don't believe anything, then just get out of the arena.  You cannot help anyone.  Is this too harsh? And it is not about you and your disillusionment.  And yet, also, compassion for those who lost faith.  Very much.  (I commented on the much commented on show and received a lot of thumbs down, one of the most rated comments.  10 thumbs up and 31 thumbs down.)

What Dennett asserts at the end is preposterous.  Since "real scholarship" shows how everything is "wrong" about the Bible, practically, everyone is found in a hypocritical and soul destroying situation.  Well, you are wrong there Mr. Dennett.

(The whole subject of pastors "losing faith"  also relates to recent discussion with the Reformed on whether one can lose one's faith, the famed doctrine of "perseverance of the saints".  Their answer would be:  he never had faith to start with.  I think these former pastors would tell you differently.  I am suggesting, however, what their idea of what "faith" might have been was too anemic.  See Bror on this, today.  Also the summary on the first commandment.)

Apologetics and comparative religious studies, however, need to be done and making clear statements "metaphoric" unnecessarily  or fitting clear texts into your system and twisting them on the way must be stopped (Calvin).  The theology of glory must be given up for the theology of the cross.  The Law and Gospel must be cleanly distinguished.


Bror Erickson said...

Thanks Brigitte,
That was a thoroughly depressing interview. Oh well. Seems to me, and this is what many don't get, this fundementalism is a worse problem than liberalsim. These people are brought up to believe whole heartedly in a strawman, there position is the strawman, and it will be destroyed, it can't help but to be.
I visited the Naked Pastor years ago, I found him to be quite whiney and unopen for advice so I left. He is a man who wants to be smarter than he is. That was my take. if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen as they say. Or grow some balls. It takes those, the ministry does. but this whiney introspection, it is for the birds. If you aren't certain, than you have no business saying thus sayeth, and if you can't say thus sayeth, stay the hell out of the Pulpit. that's my two cents. Been a while since I've been over there though.

Brigitte said...

Sorry about the depressing interview. It is really depressing.

Yes, whiney introspection is for the birds.

Something has to happen. Either you come to the extra nos, or your end up with pride or despair. We know that.

Bror Erickson said...

it is o.k. I need a depressing interview now and then. Thing is non Lutheran pastors sometimes wonder why I am not more cordial with them. That is why, I do not like this dishonesty. I have little tolerance for the liberals or the fundementalists. I have more respect if they would just engage in honest conversation, but I find the ability to do that lacking among clergy...
I do try to be cordial, but then I sometimes think it is overrated.

Brigitte said...

When I listen to the CBC interview, I wonder, too, if people make too much out of the having faith or not having faith. It is not an "on" or "off" switch.

It is more of a variable quantity.

For example when atheists talk about Mother Theresa triumphantly and how she felt such darkness at times or toward the end, or whatever, it does not mean there is no faith. It can be that faith of the baby, harder to peg down. She still did her work and went to the supper and belonged to her community. How much faith is she supposed to have and how good is she supposed to feel?

How often have we dragged ourselves to the supper to receive something for the empty hands and heart. That's just it. From ourselves we have nothing, but God can still give, if we just hold out the container. That's how we know the supper is true. It still gives when we have nothing. That is just precisely it.

And Mother Theresa, anyhow, she lived in such conditions, she may have had lack of vitamins, sleep, or iron or other things. Plus she worked herself to the bone. Sometimes we are just worked to the bone and need some time away. Even Jesus took time away.

Anyways. Faith needs nourishing and a tiny faith is still faith, if it would like to receive from God.

It is part of decision theology and of this election business to look at yourself to see if you are in faith. No wonder people get paranoid about this and over-analyze this.

Just look to God and seek the fellowship. He can give you just what you need.

Brigitte said...

Not to confuse interviews. Previously, we talked about a CBC Tapestry production on ministers discuss their loss of faith.

Here is a different link, which David Hayward gave me today, to an interview he had himself with Michael Spencer.

What I get out of I-monk and this interview is that the theology of glory and the theology of Calvin is very seriously harmful.

Steve Martin said...

I guess the only reason that I still go to the nakedpastor's site is for the people that are going there who may be really confused, on the fence, ignorant of the Christian faith and what it really is.

The nakedpastor was one of those non-denominational wonder he's thrown it all overboard (basically). I go with the hopes of keeping (some)others from joining him (with the proclamation of the Word)

Brigitte said...

I am really offended by a number of the posts, which is what they are supposed to do, I gather.

But I am also trying to see it for the audience for which it is intended--those who have been burned by evangelicalism and other situations.

He is trying to get people to think for themselves after they have been told what to wear, what to do, how to argue. I see some merit. He wants to help those who have come through this with their spirits zapped.

It's just that it comes across nihilistic and denigrating those who want to be in church and Christ's church in general. It looks like something almost out of Richard Dawkins' foolish accusations.

Besides offending me it is also sensitizing me to people's hurts.

However, one can always find reasons to stay away from church.