Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Abi's OrthoCreed

Since starting this blog, I have been less active on many of the other blogs I've clogged over the past 10 months...but there are a couple of threads over at Scot McKnight's blog that have gotten me thinking...and after I finished posting a comment, which referenced my Ortho thinking here of late, I thought I should bring at least some of it over here.

You can meander through the whole thread from Jesus Creed here. My comment is #136...it's been a blog-storm!

The thread is about a church planting pastor who has just about been kicked to death by some in his flock who are "hyper-Calvinists" and just are completely unwilling to discuss or listen to anyone with another perspective. The comments are, interestingly, all over the place...and the tone only gets testy a time or two... ;^)

These are the parts of my comment I want to share with you, given our recent flury of "ortho" posts:

I wonder whether we are talking about people's postures before God or people's postures with each other?

Certainly we all agree with more humility, love and deep reverence for God...the challenge, as I see it, is that God calls us to be humble, mutually submitted and loving of each other as we love ourselves--having reverence for each other out of reverence for Christ.

I have had my share of fairly brutal bashings from just about every faith stance...and it's a toss up for me between the Calvinists (whose 5-pointed-TULIPs I just cannot embrace for myself) and their zealous (over?) defense of God's nature against human's nature (I'll lump them over-generalizingly as orthodoxy focused) and those ultra-fundamentalists who don't seem to understand how to hate sin yet love sinners because their focus tends to be on outward appearances (I'll lump them over-generalizingly as orthopraxis focused) rather than inward reality.

I've been pondering the "orthos" quite a bit over at my blog, in connection with some threads at Alan Hirsch's blog, and have begun to realize that there are really four that have to all hang together to get the proper perspective lined up: we have to have right thinking and right actions (so -doxy and -praxy), but we must also have right perception (my take on -pathy) as well as right inspiration (don't have a good word for it yet...-pneumaxy isn't flying currently).

Thinking well and acting poorly just doesn't cut it. Acting well and thinking poorly isn't much better, but sometimes does less damage in the short term. Thinking and acting well but with poor perception of the context is ineffective and very damaging in the long term. Thinking and acting well with good contextualization but improper inspiration leads to doing our own thing rather than joining God's mission.

So, I'm all for asking God to help me start with proper inspiration (the Holy Spirit's rather than humanity's), perceive people and situations through God's eyes, engage in as wide and deep and diverse studying/ thinking/ discussion as possible, and then act as much like Christ as I possibly can.

For me, anything short of all four is, well, short of that to which Christians are called.

Abi's OrthoCreed, therefore, will be:

  • LORD, in all that I see, think, do and say, let my inspiration come from your Holy Spirit rather than from human perspectives and desires;
  • LORD, let me perceive people and situations as you perceive them;
  • LORD, let me engage in as wide and deep and diverse a discipline of studying, thinking and discussion (especially listening) as I am able; and
  • LORD, let me act enough like Christ in every circumstance that my feeble light will be magnified by your cHesed and shine forth in the darkness I encounter around me.


tgrosh4 said...

Helpful reflections. Here's a ramble which just stops, but that will have to be 'good enough.' Are you familiar with N. Graham Standish's Discovering the Narrow Path: A Guide to Spiritual Balance in which he builds a case for choosing to live in the narrow crossroads of seeking a God

-who is immanent, embodied in the world
-who transcends the world

seek a God through
-our intellect
-our senses

The 4 resultant paths of seeking God, which reflect our personalities, interests, and upbringing, are held in tension across a spectrum:

-the mindful which can devolve to rationalism (eg., Reformed)
-the passionate which can devolve to Pietism (eg., Pentecostals)
-the emptying which can devolve to Quietism (eg., Cistercians, Carmelites)
-the purging which can devolve to encratism (eg., Quakers)

One is called to pursue the narrow crossroads, i.e., the integrated life. I must confess that I'm rooted in the immanent God where I merge the mindful and passionate paths, with forays into the emptying path and only nightmares of the purging path.

As for theological reflection, I find myself returning to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral:

Scripture - the Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments)
Tradition - the two millennia history of the Christian Church
Reason - rational thinking and sensible interpretation
Experience - a Christian's personal and communal journey in Christ

And how our Creator intended us to reflect His image (along the lines of McKnight's articulation):
-loving God
-loving self (i.e., proper self-understanding informed by love of God)
-loving neighbor
-loving creation

AbiSomeone said...

Hey, Tom...good enough IS sometimes best ;^) ...or so I hear!

Thanks for sharing. I am not familiar with Standish's work, but a concept of "crossroads" is interesting and the four paths are as well...worth some thinking.

I'm wondering what Brad might have to say about this...if he has a moment to ponder with us....

Integration is so important...and I think that was very much my point, as well.


Janet Woodlock said...

Amen to this! Terrific post Peggy.

tgrosh4 said...

For more on Standish go to Blessed Church. It's much easier to understand his ideas through diagrams, I'll work on scanning in a few pieces and posting them on my blog. In one diagram, he charts 'the way of the mystic' as one of faith and surrender in which there is a cycle of communion and conversion leading to

-benefaction (doing good deeds out of a love of God and people) reinforced by spiritual practices (in place of orthopraxy which eventually leads us to works righteousness, parapraxy and pride, the inner conflict as expressed by Romans 7:15-20 provides us with the opportunity to the reject the faith or faith-filled surrender to the cycle of communion and conversion)

-benediction (saying good teachings based on experiencing the reality of the Trinity) reinforced by the theological teachings of the Body(in place of orthodoxy which eventually leads to beliefs righteousness, paradoxy as expressed by Luke 9:23-24 leading us to the choice of faith-filled surrender to the cylcle of communion and conversion)

Note: The way of communion is the mystical way – it is the way of faith and surrender that leads us to
1. Emphasize loving God with all our minds, hearts, soul, and strength, and others as ourselves (Luke 10:27)
2. Emphasize giving up the attempt to be ‘right’ in practice and belief in order to simply surrender to God and have faith in God.
3. Emphasize trusting God to guide us to right beliefs and practices.
4. Born again experiences and the longer road
5. Communion: union with God and the people of God, we remain in constant conversion
6. Communion can lead to orthodoxy, conversion can lead to orthodoxy
7. Mystics rotate in faith/surrender: relationship with God and the people of God, constant conversion and transformation of self. In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3)

Brad said...

hello. a lurk ... umm ... insider commentator here, who has of late, barely been lurking and looking, as i have had two weeks straight of intense and dense writing for my IRL job. topic: organic processes for mobilizing God's people into ministry, and writing explanatory material and procedures for said process. hence, no substantive comments from me on the ortho-post or the post-ortho. but perhaps sometime in the near future, my brain will be less mooshy and i'll be able to figure out something. meanwhile, must eschew input; have more than enuff to chew on with work! blessings - brad

AbiSomeone said...

Thank you, Brad, for coming up for air and checking in...the Abbess absolves you of any responsibility to engage in our various and sundry ortho-conversations until such time as you are able. ;^)

Know that you are remembered to our Father as you labor in the Kingdom.

Be blessed....