Kerygmore – Why the SNAFU?

JMJ

I now have to say another thing as huge as my first point. It may even be harder to accept. No one (or very few), in this age of enlightenment, believes in science. Unlike the God thing, I can actually prove this one.

Once someone I knew spent $20 on $2 lottery tickets. On one ticket he won $6. He said, “Look, I’m ahead $4!” He fought me when I pointed out he’d lost $18.

We’re all ready to pay the Math Tax called the Lottery, or other forms of Gambling. Evolution has brought us to a place where we and many other creators stand. Every last one of us is the product of billions of years of evolution and breeding. Yet how many of us refuse to accept that – not because of religion, but rather because of ideological points? If any other creature was so dedicated to denying its own nature, it would die out. We will, too, if we are not careful. We imagine that some races are “more evolved” than others.

We deny simple mathematics when it comes to our economic choices. Listening to “Freakanomics” on NPR, you realize over and over that what we think of as liberal economic policies – and conservative ones – fail. Constantly. Yet none of us want to hear that and even the reporters on the show don’t like to hear their pet social programs wreck lives.

We know that plastic is killing the planet, but how much plastic do we use? We know that petroleum consumption is practically an addiction, but we fight wars to sustain it. We are sure that unprotected sex with multiple partners, chain-smoking, capitalism, processed food, and even greenhouse gases are killing us, yet we do nothing to stop and most of us are certain it will not affect, you know, me… personally. We are sure on the right that big gov’t is an evil – but we constantly make it bigger. We are sure on the left that big gov’t will be just and protect us, so when the gov’t fails to do that – does the reverse, actually – our solution is to give the gov’t more power.

We’re this way when it comes to Astrology (now more popular than ever and most of my non-religious friends think of it as just another form of M-B personality tests). Social work, politics, food. We love “science” when it shows us we’re right. We ignore it when it shows us we’re wrong. And there’s no deity or church to condemn us for it.

We say we want to do something – but the opposite gets done.

I mentioned yesterday that it seems as though all of the religions overlap in some very important ways. Then I commented that they feel to overlap in some crucial ways as well. Why is that so? a superficial exploration of this question will point out cultural, historical, and political issues. We may even get to theology. yet, if everyone says, for example, we must love the other person then why do some religions deny the existence of the other person at all? Some religions say any love of other is actually the love of self and any perception of “other” at all is a misperception. How can this be?

To understand the answer to this question we must go deeper than things superficial.

Remember I asked you to accept, as a given, that there is a God and he loves us. From this, I drew the point that such a loving God would try to reach us, to make himself known to us and we known to him. I pointed out all the overlap and suggested that here was a golden path to the knowledge of God. In fact, a Christian writer by the name of Paul said (in the Bible) that all humans have this knowledge of God written in their hearts – even unbelievers. Another writer, Justin, in the 2nd Century adds that all truth (he uses Plato and Socrates) no matter where it comes from is always God’s truth. Today we would say even scientific truth is God’s truth. However, we don’t believe in Science.

The real issue: we won’t believe in any form of Authority.

One version of history says Martin Luther was opposed to the Pope. In fact, Martin Luther was opposed to confining Papal Authority in one person. Instead of One Pope, Martin gave us a world filled with Popes. Each Christian (and, in fact, each person) inspired by their “inner light” has become infallible. There is a direct line from the Wittenburg Door to Oprah Winfrey and it continues on. We now “know” that feelings are more important than facts. I don’t like this because it makes me feel X. Therefore it must be untrue.

But this is not new. Humans have been like this, quite literally, forever. We’re afraid of Authority and we will do anything to manipulate and mold it into our own likeness. This is why all the overlapping golden road I mentioned before has brought us no closer to unity, no closer to “coexist” than millions of bumper stickers. Each one of us wants to be their own pope.

Every part of that golden road is pointing towards God – towards an Authority to whom each one of us feels in their heart, they may have to submit. And each one of us knows we would never submit. Ever. YOU ARE NOT MY SUPERVISOR is the credo of this age. But this is not new. It’s been the just-after-primal human cry for ever.

So there are forks in the road and precipices. There are unpaved stretches and who landslides worth of washouts. You can’t get there from here. But each of us knows that road is there. And when we get on it (even by accident) we find ourselves wondering, “Where does this go?”

I’ll be back tomorrow with the mother of all Kerygma. The Kerygmama. 

I Think You Have Questions

JMJ

Questions always arise about my participation in Church. I think they are valid questions, but I think they are often predicated on invalid assumptions: essentially, they are some form of How can you do this? Where this is incorrectly understood or defined. As a result of “this” being incorrectly defined often “you” and “do” are also incorrectly defined. So what is the this is the first question that must be addressed. What is being done? comes way before Who is doing this? and How is it done? Ironically, my blogging is mostly about How and Who rather than what. To use insider jargon, these blog posts are usually testimony or discipleship rather than kerygma. Although you cannot properly do any without the others, the Kerygma comes first: the What, then the who, then an invitation to how.

Take it as a given that there is a God and he loves us. That’s a huge leap for some readers, I know. So maybe inviting you to “take it as a given” is a huge stumbling block for you. Yet, I don’t think you’ve read even this far without understanding that I believe this. We can fall down the rabbit warren of debates about God’s existence at a later date. For the sake of argument take it as read. I will take it, as writer, that the rest of this essay is totally useless without that beginning. But you cannot prove to me that there is no God – you can only prove that you do not believe there is a God and that may be a better question to debate, but we’ll come back to that. For now: the is a God and he loves us.

Imagine that you’ve met someone on Tinder, Scruff, or Growlr. How do you decide they are real and not some Nigerian scammer waiting to ask for money or someone worse waiting to beat you up when you go out to meet them the first time? You ask questions, you exchange photos, you probe a bit. After deciding the risk is worth it, you go ahead and meet. Did they reveal themselves in a full face shot? Did you see a full body shot as well? Are you able to say their physical type is – with 100% certainty – exactly what you think it is? How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Having walked through all of that how big of a risk will you take? Will you meet? Will you meet in a crowded, safe space? Will you go to each other’s apartments first? God and you have just “swiped right”.

There is a God and he loves us. What would such a God do? Who he hide away? Would he reach out? If he hid, how would we know? If he reached out how can we tell? Christianity says God has spent literally all of human history trying to get to us and trying to get us to listen. The classic Kerygma would include a long list of the Hebrew Prophets and their teachings, but you might rightly ask, “What about the Chinese?” or “Where does that leave the Arapaho?” It may surprise you to hear that both the Jewish and the Christian teaching is that God has left no one alone in this. C.S. Lewis used a nice, respectable word, “Tao” to describe the common teachings of all the religions on love, morality, ethics. It may surprise you to hear how great a common overlap there is among them all. This would make sense if God is a God who loves us. He would want us to know him as best as we can. He would put not just clues, but a huge, golden pathway everywhere around the world for us to get to him. This is not a case of “many pathways, one mountain”. Where, then, does this pathway go?

It’s useful to acknowledge all the ways these religions do not overlap. But is that important? Or is that like saying the leftwing or rightwing all around the world is destroyed by differences more than held together by commonalities? Being something of a Personalist Anarchist, I think all statists (Left and Right) have far more in common than they wish to admit. I think most religions would agree on even some very profound theological truths. But there are differences, yes. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

Is there anyone who manifests all these truths in one, supreme way? Is there anyone whom we can point at and say, “Given these two assumptions, and the fact that all these religions overlap in all these awesome places, is there anyone I’d say I want to be like more than I want to be like anyone else?”

Yes, I want you to say Jesus there, but not yet. In Part II I’ll go over a few other choices whom I am happy to acknowledge: but also to explain why they don’t seem to be the right ones. So tune in later this week for Kerygma II – Kerygmore.