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Monday, November 11, 2013
Dennis Muses on Intelligent Theology
: someone who looks like someone else
: a ghostly counterpart of a living person
: a double
or alter ego
Recently I met with a highly educated Episcopal Priest just to talk. I had the opportunity and was feeling the need to see and hear what a man in his position would have to say about Biblical topics that I have come to understand in a far different way than my meager WCG training in all things Bible. WCG trained itself to be good Bible readers, as you have heard me say over the years. COG ministers are mere Bible readers with no desire to dig deeper into the texts, background, history or intent of what they quote to frame their beliefs. If they had the desire they would have to keep it to themselves. Only in a secure religious setting can one speak freely of Biblical realities. Beliefs are framed by proof texting and COGs compete with each other by proof texting better than the competition. It's a ridiculous approach and why under trained men like Dave Pack and Ron Weinland make fools of themselves with hubris and ego centric ministry.
To the point.
We talked about the Gospels and the Priest comment to me was that the Gospels are full of contradictions. Neither birth stories no resurrection accounts are eyewitness accounts and are muddled, but they still have good meaning for us. He noted that if he did not have the desire for Jesus in the picture, he'd be a great Buddhist. Sigh...
We talked about Genesis and evolution and the Priest agreed that the Adam and Eve story is mythological and not really the origin of human beings. It was a comment that came with the idea that anyone should be able to understand that. I got the feeling he'd not understand anyone taking it as literally true. The creation story is not really about science of course but it has some good lessons for us. We didn't talk about what those might be. It didn't matter if Genesis wasn't literally true, which it isn't and wasn't in his view as well and held my tongue when thinking of just how much the story being literally true did mean in the New Testament and later in the Church with the concept of Original Sin. One can't be held as guilty because of the Fall of humans in the Garden if there was no garden and no man or woman actually "fell." Sigh...
The Priest fully understood the rancour between Peter, James, John and Paul in the New Testament and that none of them agreed with each other much . But again, there was good in it all. Sigh...
When it came to Revelation, he noted the Book of Revelation was never written for us. It was written for them and the "soon" and "things that must shortly come to pass" was for THEM, not US. Revelation is a strange book and not for us to get too concerned about today. We both noted how many "preachers" make fools of themselves with false predictions. Little did he know how hot a topic that was for me but he understood the actual place Revelation should have in the modern Church. None. Sigh...
He recommended a book or two that might help and as I looked through the one he took from his shelf , which he thought was just awesome and true, it was obvious the author was well versed in Buddhism and Buddhist thought as relating to the Gospels. Sigh....
It was obvious he knew what most who take the time and have the theological inclination can come to see and understand about the Bible. He made it very clear he understood it was a man originated book as there can be no other kind, and that it was certainly not written by any God literally. Yet there were many good lessons in it if you skip the crazy parts which he noted as easily found. Sigh...
All I can say is that the experience was interesting with a touch of regret. Of course the Episcopal Church is sacrament oriented. It has no interest in the strange and weird ideas of those like a Dave Pack. It is not interested in Prophecy Coming Alive! It doesn't beg for money and expects to be around a very long time. I found a grave in the Church Yard going back to 1700's and it was filled with both Revolutionary and Civil War..oops, War of Northern Aggression soldiers. It's just there for people of faith and provides a setting that serves that need. I don't find the congregants particularly Bible literate. They leave that to the Church. The members have lives apart from Church and yet the Church provides much in ways of social opportunities and excellent works in places like Haiti and the community, God forbid. Having attended, it is orderly with not much room for straying from the Liturgy or Homily. The Homily is short and to the point. No Dave Pack or Ron Weinland, Bob Thiel or James Malm would get an inch in the Episcopal setting. And this crowd would not be inclined to the personal views of a Dave Pack on everything from himself to what they should or should not eat. With forty or fifty lawyers in the audience Dave would have to be a different kind of human being.
I did have my doubts that all congregants would see or think of the Bible in the same way as the Priests do and he admitted to that being the case as well. I once heard that the average well trained theologian is 50 years ahead of the congregation in what they understand about all things Bible and this is true. Very true. I'd say maybe 2000
I had met my Doppelganger...my ghost. Maybe I was the ghost and he was the real thing. I left with several emotions tugging at me. I was a bit frustrated that we had such similar views but such different lives, though I always imagined myself in ministry from way back. I went to Ambassador College really believing it was a Seminary if you can imagine that. I was a kid and no one told me otherwise. When I was at AC I would study at times at Fuller Theological Seminary and had an inkling that that might be a better place. But with the world ending and Jesus coming soon, I stayed put. Besides they ate pork and didn't keep the sabbath. I was a kid. It was not difficult to compare his relatively easy life of being kind and loving, generous and helpful to a very unique group of people with my own at this time. I left having a chat with myself about it all just being a story. He had his and I had mine. But I had met myself in that office and it was an interesting experience and I left realizing what is uncommon knowing for the average congregant is common understanding when a man or woman is well trained in Biblical studies and can admit to the reality of it all.
Just thought I'd share it...