Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Exchange Goes On -- and Escalates!

As I mentioned, I am in an exchange with people over at Alan Hirsch's blog over the place of knowledge and theology in the true experience of the divine. Even my son, Andrew, weighed in over there. Today, Alan re-opened the discussion with more quotes and people jumped right in.

Here's what I put up (prompted in part by a quote someone named Scott pulled from a Brennan Manning book):

Scott, my brother:

I love Brennan Manning, have read a number of his books and heard him speak on several occassions. But, wherever that quote came from, it is just… stupid (sorry!)
Do I really need to throw away EVERYTHING I know about Jesus every five years? Everything? The doctrine of His virgin birth? My fierce conviction (I’m counting on this) that He died in my place? His bodily resurrection? Do I really need to “relearn” all of that? Whatever point about keeping it real with Jesus was trying to be made by the author of that quote is, for me, obscured by the overstatement.

I get it that worshipping our knowledge of God is both limiting and idolatrous. But where I’m struggling is how the alternative is being framed. But, then again, I’ll be straight up enough to tell you I’m coming from an a particular flow of Christian experience and I’m trying to protect something that I believe matters. So here’s the deal…

I love to see God “show up” and blow our minds. I pray for it. I have a lifetime of experience in Pentecostal / Charismatic circles with 25 years in the Vineyard movement to date. But, sadly, I have seen incredibly goofy and even harmful stuff peddled to people in the name of throwing away everything about God so as to be open to the experience du jour (supposedly of Him) and I ache over the harmful backlash I have witnessee, and pastored people through, on the back side. Others, with different backrounds and experiences, may be contending in their comments for other things and I’m okay with that. Maybe they could share a little more about that in future posts.

The very alive church in Jerusalem, in Acts, testified to both the miraculous transcendence of God and to regular doses of “the apostles doctrine”. There is this thing called “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” in Scripture. There is a foundation. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. Maybe that’s what Alan and others are trying to awaken — first, fear the Lord, then explore the knowledge. Cool. But knowledge, doctrine, the actual intellectual construct of the law and the gospel is never, as far as I can tell, cast aside. Instead, it seems to be necessary to point us to authentic experiences of the divine.

I guess I think of it like this:

If I have a container and it is filled to overflowing with water, then Praise God, my cup overflows. But if I pour water into thin air because I have no container at all, what’s the point?

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