Am I a Good Person?

"Anonymous" posted...

Hey, it was good to hear that you believe that we should be connecting with people of other faiths. There is, however, a major difference between Christianity and other world religons: Jesus was God in the flesh, there is no other like Him because He is eternal. People of other faiths can do nice things and feed the poor, I think your theology of what God's word says about the depravity of mankind. Here's a good question: are you a good person?

The short answer is: "No. I am not a good person." In fact, I think a lot of my journey over the last six years from mainstream Evangelicalism to an Emergent (sometimes "jaded," sometimes "deconstructionist") form of followership stemmed from guilt. Downright shame. I was convicted to the deepest parts of me for the arrogant, ethnocentric, angry, self-convinced religion I was practicing.

Adam, a good friend of mine, thinks it's b.s. to hold a belief system out of guilt. He likes Barack Obama, but won't vote for him because he thinks "most whites" are attracted to his audacious hope out of guilt for representing a latent, racist power structure.

I don't think that's true.

I think they're (we're) following Obama because they're attracted to leadership. But I digress...

It's not a bad thing to take action and make changes out of guilt. Guilt is a natural, important reaction to injustice - especially of our own making.

So if my Christianity is heavily informed by guilt over colonialism, Holy Wars, televangelists, Christian pop, culture wars and picket signs, then so be it. We should all be ashamed of the things done in the name of "Gospel." There's a lot to apologize for.

Now, the second part. Anonymous writes:

Jesus was God in the flesh, there is no other like Him because He is eternal. People of other faiths can do nice things and feed the poor...

Do I agree that there is no other like Jesus? Of course! Do I agree that people of other faiths do nice things? Yes!

But those folks are quite confident in the deity (or divinity) of their gods and prophets. So let's be respectful and aware... it's circular to argue that Jesus holds the only divinity. Do I believe that? Yes I do. I've said before, I think religion that sacrifices its own precepts for the sake of false-ecumenism is BORING. But I recognize a bad argument - and saying the Bible is true because the Bible says it, or God is God because God is God or Jesus is God and no-one else is... well, those just aren't very interesting arguments or statements in an interfaith context.

Oh rats! N.T. Wright is on The Colbert Report and I have to watch...

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nate said...

A lot to think about here. As far as Anonymous' comment goes, I think he may have not closely read the actually post. This happens to me a lot.

I can relate with a lot in this post...jaded by evangelicalism, for one. The bad/weak arguments of leveled by factions in Christianity are what did it for me. In fact, you mentioned the old, "the bible is true because the Bible says it is." Besides the fact that this is circular, I would argue that the Bible itself never says it is true.

Anyway, I am rambling. Good post. I enjoyed Wright on Colbert last night...I don't know who I enjoyed more though...both were funny. I love Wright and won't assume much about Surprised By Hope before reading it, but my knee jerk reaction (such reactions are never good, but at this point that's all I have to go off of) was that Wight's presupposition (the social nature of the gospel, a worthy fact) influenced his exegesis. But I can't wait to read the book.

2Pete said...

Thanks Nate. I have a hunch we've experienced a lot of similar "epiphanies" in our respective church backgrounds.

It's interesting... I didn't initially think of Wright as a social gospel kind of guy - he's certainly not a "modern liberal" in the way of his friend Marcus Borg. Which is why guys like McLaren appreciate him so much.

But there is a social underscore to the New Perspective on Paul that Wright has been so influential in developing. Particularly, that the pharisees might not have been quite as bad as we've come to assume/infer. There IS an expectation of obedience and adherence to the law... but it's from a different angle, for different reasons. It's been too long since I've read that material though, so I won't try to lay that out here.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to readng "Surprised" but don't always feel overwhelmed by Wright. I just appreciate what he offers, in general.

nate said...

I'm glad you brought up Wright's "Paul." In the book, his contributions to the "new perspective on paul" have been influential towards my outlook on justification. I was much more sympathetic towards orthodoxy (sorry for the vague term) afterward. Great read.

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