Coming Soon!

I’m excited to announce that in the coming months, this blog will be migrating to a self-hosted site, http://www.blogosensarkos.com

I’ve been steadily working for a while building up a cache of drafts, and incomplete thoughts to launch, in what seems to me to be, a much more exciting format.

The new site will allow me to pursue more creative (pipe) dreams like multimedia production.

~keep an eye out~

Theologizing Out Loud: Who gets the final Word?

The PCA General Assembly voted to form a study committee regarding the place of women in the church. Conservatives have decried this as an attempt to overturn the foundation of the PCA, effectively declaring, “been there, done that, case closed.” As the ordination of women was one factor in leading to the split between what would become the PCA and PC(USA) in the early 1970’s. 

But I must ask the question, is treating perennial theological questions as off limits really the attitude that seeks to give defference to Scripture? Or, does continual asking allow Scripture to speak afresh to each successive generation to the questions it inevitably encounters?

I am inclined to agree with the latter if for no other reason than the current controversy in Reformed Complimentarian circles regarding the supposed Eternal Submission of the Son (ESS). (I hope to write on this topic  soon) The issue regarding the place of Women in the Church has lead to big questions regarding the nature of God. We all certainly agree that question regarding the nature of God supersedes those regarding gender, however, when answers to questions of gender evoke problematic descriptions of God, our account of gender must be reexamined in light of the Biblical witness that testifies to both.

Lesser theological questions always have grand implications for foundational theology when doctrines are constructed backwards. 

To truly defer to Scripture we ought to hold lesser doctrines looser if for no other reason than an apprehension about unintentionally implying things about God we’d later see as problematic when addressing new theological questions. 

To treat theological questions as settled (even foundational ones but especially lesser ones) lends itself not to a respect for tradition but a crass traditionalism that subverts the authority of Scripture as the supreme authority for every generation. In principle questions as foundational as the Trinity or Hypostatic Union are always open not because they are uncertain but because scripture and not councils is the final authority for faith and life. 

PCA, ask the question of the role of  women in the church, and continue asking and answering it out of love for Scripture because certain iterations of their role are being seen by many to be inconsistent with our Gospel confession of the identity of God. Seek to be ever more faithful in our conceptual formulations.

Slaintè Mhath!

50 Questions: Question 1 “Does Christianity make sense”

Does Christianity make sense?

The simple answer obviously, as a Christian, I think it does make sense. Not only does it makes sense on its own, but it makes sense of everything else as well.I’ll explain what I mean in due course.

Let’s parse out the question a bit more. When one asks if Christianity makes sense they are asking about the internal coherence of the faith as well as whether the faith comports to human experience. 

First, is Christianity internally coherent? There is nothing internally contradictory within it such as the belief in square circles or five sided triangles, etc. The closest appearances of contradictions are paradoxes and dialects. On the surface paradoxes appear to be contradictory.  That is, that the two concepts appearto have either-or quality. Either the shape is five-sided or it is a triangle. But a paradox differs slighty in that the concepts have a both/and quality. The consepts dont neegate each other but they dont sit well with each other without tension. For example, G.K. Chesterton, known as the Prince of Paradox, once said, “Courage is a love of life taking the form of readiness to die.” Life and death are commonly seen as opposites but in this formulation they dont negate each other but rather compliment each other.

A dialectic developes this progression further. If a contradiction poses an either/or relationship between two concepts, and a paradoxe poses a both/and, a dialtectic poses a both/and, niether/nor relationship. Here is where it gets trippy. A great example of a dialectic comes from Karl Barth. Barth stated that Jesus Christ was both God’s Yes and No to humanity. By this he meant that Jesus brought both God’ssalvation and God’s judgement. It differs from a paradox in that the very judgemnt brought engenders salvation, and the salvation brought engenders judgment. (I hope to write more on this in the future.) In a dialectic one concept necessitates its opposite and vice versa.

To summarize: Does Christianity make sense? Yes, dialectics and paradoxes exist while contradictions do not.

Now to the second sense in which someone may ask whether it makes sense. Does Christianity comport with human experience? Here the answer is not as as cut and dried. Christianity could be defined as reflection upon all of life in light of the reality of God’s revelation in Christ. So yes it certainly makes sense as any worldview does, it’s not an attempt to escape the reality of human experience but rather assumes meaning in human experience and seeks to discern that meaning in light of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

But do things like miracles really comport with human experience? I think they do, but less so. Certainly not everyone has had experiences they were willing to chalk up to miracles, hence the “less so.” I will kick the question of miracles down the road a bit as one of the 50 questions specificaly deals with it. But I will say, we need to be careful of making too much of miracles in the Christian worldview. Miracles by definition are not the norm. They are rare and extraordinary events that occur for revelatory purposes and not ends in and of themselves.

To summarize this section: Does Christianity comport with human experience? Yes and no. Yes it does in the sense that it is reflection upon all of life in light of the Christ event. It is a worldview like Islam, Naturalism etc. used to make sense of the world around us. No it does not comport with human experience in the sense that things such as miracles, while playing a significant role in the Christian worldview, are by no means the norm of human experience.

What do you think?