Emergent Theological Conversation - Miroslav Wolf Day II

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In addition to the links via James Mills, I noticed Jay Voorhees has been posting a great summary of what he gleaned from yesterdays sessions with Volf.

Some thoughts from my notes for day II:

1. Culture: Church arises out of the culture it arises out of, and has it’s own culture as a result, and God is the God of all cultures. Too many churches draw the lines of culture too sharply, and too many too loosely. Church is gathered and scattered, and our engagement with culture must represent both realities.

2. Individualism: Within the idea of the 'will to embrace', we mustn't make the mistake of overemphasizing the individual will. That will doesn’t appear out of no-where. It is the gift of God that comes through communities, that practice and learn it. The weight of the community has to support the will to embrace. On the other hand it is about individuals in our interior life, relating by willing to embrace and relate to others.

3. Motivation: The motivation for 'the will to embrace', starts from how one reads and interprets the story of Christ. It must start with a proper reading of scripture, of family relationships, of faith, and liturgy, how is it practiced at the centre of our worship.

4. Interfaith dialogue: Let’s use Hermeneutics of charity with others of other faiths. Our sacred texts define us the most, and are for full of possibilities to engage in dialogue to read it in common. We see the bible in a new light when we read it with a Muslim for instance. And being open this this dialogue is not about abandoning our faith, but using it for dialogue instead of polarizing polemic.

5. Truth: I have to act informed by the best reason I have. But what is most problematic, is the idea of possession of truth, that I then defend. We are supposed to be seekers of the truth, with humility and openness, and not dogmatic possessors. I have to think of my own provisional knowing, and it’s only in the light of God’s glory that one day knowing will really be possible. It doesn’t mean flip flopping in my beliefs, but having an open mind.

6. Confidence: We are not absolute, our horizon is limited, we have to acknowledge that, but we distinguish between a reflective mode and action mode (faith and worship mode). This is how I live in action because I think it is the right way to live, and yet being reflective, I can say I cannot fully know and defend everything beyond doubt.

My faith depends on being in God’s hand, it’s the nature of faith (me). Being in God’s hand is not something I can share academically, but by common reference to the context humanity finds in our shared experiences.

7. Proclamation: I don’t wrap my prayers into conditional statements. Preaching is proclamation, to point to the gospel story, I don’t mention commentators, but I talk about the power of god, when I am in teaching mode. We have different modes of communication for communicating, and sometimes we proclaim from confidence, in others we offer questioning.

8. Double Vision: Exclusion and Embrace is not about the content of a decision. There is the issue of how we negotiate our decisions, but then what we decide is something else. Exclusion and embrace is not about what we decide, it is about the process of how we decide. It opens up the possibility of relating to the other without demonising one party, and keeps up the possibility of learning. I wish we would engage with our questions with double vision to inhabit the space of others position and relate to those with who we disagree in love and connection, not like rival sports teams, or political parties set against each other.

9. Indifference: It’s a grand thing to deny a grand thing. We are such lousy embracers of the things of God. Indifference to God is more troubling to God than people who are angry who are engaging with him. Some people who are angry with God are engaging with him more than most Christians so often. We have a segment of our culture drugged by consumerism to not take the big claims of life, to take life seriously, so as to stay involved in the petty comforts of life. God is always closer to us than we are to ourselves.

10. Atonement: In ‘Free of Charge” I talk about inclusive substitution, rather than exclusionary substitution, where a 3rd party is punished separate to us, and this isn’t right as it is unfair, and guilt is not transferable, I can’t put that onto someone else to bear it for me.

The idea from old and new testament is that Christ isn’t apart from us bearing our sin, but atonement functions by our identification with Christ, we were with Christ when Christ die, that which happens to Christ happens to us. There is an issue of guilt, how does one separate the deed from the doer, why does it stick on me, and what right can it be separated from me. In Christ we die with him and are raised to new life and are free from guilt, our guilt is crucified, inclusively in Christ, not him taking mine away. The church largely hasn’t dogmatised atonement as we are to hold it provisionally, and with multiple and differing situations we need to be redeemed from, and Christ’s death is complex and able to redeem all our contexts.

(Again apologies for typos, these are my conference notes, and undertaken with jet lag and my usual poor spelling)