Monday, April 30, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Protestants are familiar with the "faith alone" statement arising from the Reformation. This statement in itself is of ongoing controversy but is especially focused on the doctrine of salvation, or justification. Many centuries prior to the Reformation, Anselm (d. 1109) wrote a number of theological and philosophical writings, some of which are Why God Became Man and The Virgin Conception and Original Sin. He also proposed the ontological argument for God.
Some Christians are vehemently opposed to philosophy. Others say we can only come to know God through reason or natural means. The difficulty with the latter approach is that we may never get to know God. Anselm, apparently following similar thinking of Augustine, wrote in his Proslogion:
"Non tento, Domine, penetrare altitudinem tuam, quia nullatenus comparo illi intellectum meum; sed desidero aliquatenus intelligere veritatem tuam, quam credit et amat cor meum. Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam. Nam et hoc credo: quia "nisi credidero, non intelligam [Is 7,9]."
Translation (not mine):
"I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate your sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, --that unless I believed, I should not understand."
It should be noted that the Proslogion or "Discourse," was written as a prayer and is not meant solely to be understood as a philosophical or theological treatise. What I appreciate about this quotation is that it supports the divine origin and priority of faith without denying the role of reason or understanding. In other words, reason does not undermine faith but is led by faith to greater understanding, all the while humbly realizing that perfect knowledge of God in this life is beyond us. In addition, faith does not mean an end to the use of our rational capacities, which are also gifts of God, nor does reason negate faith. Reason may be used in support of faith.
Finally, while this quotation does not bring any resolution to my understanding, or lack of, regarding realism and nominalism, it does help to resolve an understanding of the faith that undermines a polarization between faith as prayer (i.e., liturgy) and faith that permits learning (i.e., Christian education, catechesis, doctrine).
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
They listen to it on the radio or internet every day. They attend concerts on a regular basis. Their faith depends on it, so much so that Sunday can be no different than the other six days of the week. There is a concert or party on Saturday night. Let's have another on Sunday morning. Let's have a rock band in front of the altar and call it "Our" service. After all, isn't faith 24/7? "It's only Rock n' Roll, but I like it."
This "innovative" approach to Sunday morning is not solely a Lutheran phenomena but it goes against almost everything Christianity has understood and taught about worship throughout the ages. The difficulty comes when people no longer discern a difference between what entertains them in their daily lives and worship, between a Saturday night concert and a Sunday morning service. Worship becomes little more than what's in it for "Me". Faith becomes dependent on something's entertainment value and my feelings. Somewhere in all this the question arises, "Who, or what then, is "our" god?"
There is a time for everything under the sun. That means that some times are set apart for different (holy?) things and Sunday morning or the weeknight service ought to be unashamedly different than what I am used to at other times of the week.
As someone once said, "You are what you eat." That's what the altar is for.