Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pushing on the Logic of Liberal Protestantism

I read somewhere in Borg that if he were raised in another culture he probably would have accepted the religion in which he would have been raised.  On the surface it sounded superficial except that if he accepts inclusivism as axiomatic he cannot help but to say something like that.  I assume the Dalai Lama had a silent smile for professor McFague when she had said something similar.

Even still, I want to push Borg, Spong, and McFague to probe more deeply on why they view Jesus with ultimate concern.  Even if for them the matter is existential and cultural rather than, say, ontological, in which God is revealed in human flesh through the Trinity,  there are still motivating reasons and I would like to see these theologians more publicly grapple with those reasons.

I intuit a weak narrative theology operative in their Christ “from below,” but their narrative threads are a good deal more liberal and metaphorical all the way down than the postliberal narrative theology of Frei, Lindbeck, and Husinger.  What I’m interested in is a sharper articulation of the ultimate value system of their respective theologies, and when pushed very hard, exactly how they grapple with the exclusive/inclusive tension of a believing faith in Christ.  If one takes the Trinity with radical seriousness that invariably pushes toward a high Christology and an exclusivist interpretation of the significance of Christ as the way and the life without equivocation and remainder.  If the Trinity is a metaphor for something else—a more inclusive religious experience in which, in the final analysis, the different religions exhibit diverse dimensions of a global understanding of God, then what one could say at best is that Christ is a way, a truth, and a life with much equivocation and remainder.  My assumption is that Borg, Spong, and McFague are closer to this second camp. If that is the case, if Christ is a way, a truth, and a life, only, in which other possibilities of equal merit pertain, then my objective remains on pushing these liberal stalwarts very hard on identifying the source and rationale on why they link Jesus to their ultimate concern (assuming they do).

In my view, if the Trinity is anything less than what has been claimed in the orthodox Christian tradition over many centuries, then Christianity as a way, may have a certain aesthetic appeal that one might find inspiring at a given time and place, but nothing more compelling or enduring to it to profoundly stabilize a radical commitment to its core assumptions.  At different times and places other stories will carry a more substantial weight and Christianity as a distinctive religious will gradually flow into the ebb tide of some type of syncretism, a temptation that the early church successfully countered in no small measure in the doctrinal stabilization of the Trinity.

No comments:

Post a Comment