Thursday, February 18, 2010

Glimpses...part 1

In the first post on this deconstruction/doubt topic, I talked about how I’m in a state of deconstruction, with only glimpses of what a reconstructed faith would look like. In this post, I would like to talk about some of those glimpses, i.e. what are characteristics that we comprise a reconstructed faith. Think of it as puzzle pieces. At this point, I’m not sure how the pieces will come together and what the reconstructed faith will look like. Here are the glimpses:

A Continually Deconstructing Faith – Whatever the reconstructed faith looks like, it will always be subject to further deconstruction. Sounds oxymoronic, but it’s true. Even after my faith is reconstructed, that doesn’t mean I’ve arrived and finally have it nailed down. As I said previously, there are always human constructions that are built up around our core (relationship with God, others, self) that inhibit the full expression of love in those relationships. Some call it sin, missing the mark, whatever. To continually allow the Other (God, others, self-reflection) to challenge our core is the path towards wholeness.

A Post-Foundational Faith – Previous to my deconstruction, the Bible acted as the foundation of my faith; or stated more accurately, MY interpretation of the Bible acted as the foundation of my faith. I believed that “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”. I believed that the Bible had the last word on all matters, including science, sociology, psychology, etc. As I began to re-evaluate this, I discovered that I was operating under what philosophers call Foundationalism. It is a belief in an indubitable (beyond question and self-evident through reason) foundation that all other beliefs are built upon. I think this understanding of the Bible is a product of the Enlightenment and would be foreign to the original writers/hearers of the Scriptures. Coupled with postmodern interpretation theory and the role of community in interpretation, the indubitable foundation of the Bible and my individual interpretations is no longer valid for me. Much more could be said about the tie between Enlightenment rationality, individualism, and it’s affect on interpretation, but that will suffice for now. My foundation is God’s love (but…even that needs to continually be deconstructed….what is Love? What does it look like? How would the oppressed hear the message of God’s love?)

A More Holistic Faith – This sort of ties to what I said above about the Bible. After studying the cultural, historical, and generic understandings of the Scriptures, I now see that the Bible is a very mysterious, sometimes paradoxical, sometimes violent, beautiful collection of stories, laws, poetry, myth, etc that details the God/human interaction throughout history and during specific cultural and historical settings. It’s not the final word on all matters of science, psychology, etc, nor was it intended as such. When I say holistic, I mean a faith that sees all truth as God’s, whether it comes from science, sociology, literary theory, etc. I’m still processing through how the Bible fits with all that. Some, like Wesley, used a quadrilateral of scripture, reason, tradition, experience…with Scripture being primary. Others, like John Franke, use terms like “norming norm” for the Scriptures in light of culture, tradition, reason, etc. Not sure where I land on this yet. If the Bible is to be primary, or the mediating source (which I’m not convinced of at this point), how is it to be so? Is it based on the story it tells, the authority of it (a whole other can of worms), something else??

A Move from Believing the Right Things to Believing in the Right Way – Stole this one from Peter Rollins, but I like it. It’s a move from rationality and mental agreement with doctrines to how what I believe affects me. Does what I believe make me more loving towards God and others? If not, then no matter what the “doctrine” is, I am not believing it in the right way. It is believing with a humble open hand instead of a dogmatic closed fist. It’s moving from either/or dualistic thinking to both/and thinking.

Four is good for now. More to come. Thoughts anyone???

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