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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, May 07, 2004

More theology

I've just started reading the last of the assigned texts for my theology class: R. R. Reno's The Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminishing Christianity. And I'm enjoying it, for several reasons.

First of all, there's the simple relief of reading something that is readable. Unlike some of our previous assigned reading, this material is not so "dense" (the seminary term for nearly impenetrable prose-- so called, I assume, because that's how the reader feels after the first few paragraphs). It is meaty, but the writing is quite accessible, and very direct.

Secondly, Reno's offering some solid food for thought. For instance, he maintains that talk about Christian belief and teaching being "relevant," stems from an almost reflexive distancing on our part-- keeping God at arms' length, out of a "horror of dependence" and a "fear of difference."

...The problem with traditional Christianity does not rest in the fact that the so-called modern mind is too sophisticated, too scientific, too worldlywise to believe. Rather, the problem is that we do not want to believe. We want a "gospel" that affirms our increasingly fragile self-images. We want a "gospel" that helps us remain stable and unchanging in a world full of threatening forces that might sweep us away. We do not want repentance. We do not want transformation. In short, we do not want what Christianity teaches.

...the difficulty we face is hardly one of relevance; indeed, we fear Jesus' relevance. The so-called problem of relevance that has dominated modern theology turns out to be a pseudo-problem conjured up to keep the crucified Lord at a safe distance to be navigated only by the hermeneutically authorized.

...the very real difficulty that modern theology senses but misdiagnoses is the challenge of bridging the gap between what we want and what God gives us. It is the difficulty of achieving the intellectual, moral and communal disciplines sufficient to even imagine that dependence is not an assault on our dignity and that the difference of spiritual rebirth does not rend the delicate fabric of our humanity.

I can't wait to see what he says next.


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