Sunday, March 09, 2008

We are all gnostics!

I know that gnosticism has much deeper meanings and implications, but I want to use the term in the sense that one blogger summed it up, "Gnosticism is the belief that you have a secret knowledge of God; that your view is the trump card".

George Carlin said, "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

Mark Driscoll continues to take pot-shots at anyone associated with the Emergent Church movement. However, on the same blog that quotes his statements positively, a commenter took Driscoll to task for being too liberal and stated that there really was no difference between Mark and anyone in the EC movement.

The voices of certainty are many:
  • True Christians are Full Gospel!
  • KJV only!
  • Tounges is the evidence of salvation!
  • We are the only true church!
  • You only have religion, we have relationship!
  • Only the pre-destined are saved!
  • Our view of atonement is the only way!
  • The Bible is inerrant!
  • There were no miracles, it is just metaphor!
  • Baptism must be by immersion!
  • You must accept the trinity!
  • God wants his people to be rich!
  • Jesus was a liberal!
  • Jesus was a conservative!
...and the list of correct views goes on and on.

Carlin nails us. Anyone above us or below us, faster or slower, to the right or the left, is OFF. We are the standard, and everyone else is on or off target in relation to our view.

One person's orthodoxy is another person's heresy. One person's opinion is another person's non-negotiable truth. Is there any way off this treadmill of being right?

Jane stop this crazy thing!!!


Brook said...

you wouldn't have this problem if you were Catholic and therefore part of the One True Church... You would KNOW, not just think to yourself and argue with others!

Alice said...

Good question.

Redlefty said...

I've gotten off the path of worrying about who's right and now focus on what is useful. Of course, the definition of useful causes similar problems to the ones you've already described.

Meh, who am I kidding. Of course my way is the right way!

Andrew said...

I had a rather aggressive Mormon missionary at my door recently who also made the claim that his church is the one true church. So many one true churches to choose from.... I can't decide. :)

Actually, the dozen or so LDS missionaries I have had interactions with have been pretty reasonable and gracious. This guy however, kept hammering on the fact that they are the one and only, and that he understood that it is radical and unique to make such a claim. I didn't want to be argumentative, but I couldn't help thinking, "That is not a unique nor radical statement and if you really believe it is, then you must not get off the farm much."

Red ... it is so true, I find my reasoning circling in on me. Even if I try to get above the distinctions, be gracious, be accepting, be humble.... then I am still thinking that I have gained hold of a deeper insight that others have not yet attained! Ahrrrrrgh! I CAN'T get around it! ;)

Mike said...

A long time ago somebody told me theology would drive me crazy. Well, it did. Now I am left with nothing but uncertaintly.

But uncertainty is not as uncomfortable as I expected. Now I get to wonder anew about the questions. I am left with a sense of wonder about everything.

It's like starting life over from scratch, minus the impediment of arrogance.

SocietyVs said...

Good blog Andrew! I think most churches and denominations worry too much about correctness of certain beliefs they hold to some extreme importance (ex: Jesus is God) while they sort of let others kind of slide (ex: Love your enemy). But if you think about the 2 examples - which is more revolutionary and meaningful?

I think we all hold people to our standards (how we want to be treated and our perspectives)...all things flow through our small lenses eventually and we make decisions on them. Some people go narrow in their courts and some people find a way to value mercy in their courts. At the end of the day, we are all our own judges (judge how you want to be judged - and in another's court you likely will be judged that way) - and that means we have some responsibility at how we treat the stuff we read and intake.

But in the end, yes, we are the line we judge by (and I think this is a good thing) - even as we try to adopt the teachings of God into our lives. For someone to say 'this is the right way to do things' and another to say 'this is the right way to do things' - well they both can't be right? However, they both run seperate courts of law - so maybe thse courts need to meet to discuss what works and what doesn't.

Yael showed me this rabbi's writing today about this exact issue - about how 2 schools of thought disagree with another but God pointed to one being more just...on what basis? Open-ness.

cipher said...

However, on the same blog that quotes his statements positively, a commenter took Driscoll to task for being too liberal and stated that there really was no difference between Mark and anyone in the EC movement.

It's always relative. I think John Piper is a miserable, mean-spirited psychopath who, as a Calvinist, has no problem if God has chosen to damn his three sons - he has said as much in print - yet there are Calvinists who dismiss him as being too soft!

Andrew said...

That says so much about Piper's view of God that he can say such a thing. I don't think it is because he respects God so much, but too little. In Piper's world, an evil act would be sanctioned by the fact that God did it. To curry favor with someone just because they are the strongest makes one a sycophant. God is worthy because he is good, or he is not worthy.

cipher said...

Certainly, but he would say that God sets the standards by which "good" and other virtues are defined. He uses the potter and clay metaphor - and you know how much play that gets in their world.

I recently posted a longer comment about Piper and this issue on a thread at Friendly Atheist, and one of Piper's sons responded. One of the things I said was something I think I said to you several weeks ago - that I am appalled by conservative evangelicals' utter willingness to abandon billions of their human siblings for all of eternity so that they can have the security blanket for a few brief decades while here. He replied that he wasn't sure what "willingness" has to do with it - either it is true, or it isn't. I had also mentioned the repression and denial they must manifest, growing up with a father who is so willing to give them up; he was just dismissive and condescending. I didn't engage him; our conceptual frameworks are so widely disparate that we're speaking two entirely different languages. Communication literally is impossible.

The thing that really troubles me is not simply that Piper exists, but that there are millions like him - and, as I said, there are plenty who dismiss him as being too soft. Are you familiar with the "greater fool" principle of investing? The idea is that no matter how much you may pay for a stock, there is always someone who will pay more. I have a similar idea; I call it the "bigger bastard" principle, and I think it's particularly evident in the evangelical world. No matter how big a bastard you may think someone is - there's always a bigger one!

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