In His Image
One of the difficulties of being arrogant, as I am, is that it takes some measure of arbitrariness to decide whom is worth hearing out. Since I am on a constant quest for wisdom, I don't often hear out evangelists. I figure I already know what they are going to say. I am reminded of this today by an (arbitrary) collision of three interesting things.
The first is conversation / apology I had with Mickey which George alludes to on his blog. The second is this thread of memory from the Evangelical Outpost. The third is a referral that I got today on my old post about The Gospel of Thomas. Tangential to that is a search I am on for 'Mel'.
When I finish up here - and who knows when that will be. I intend to begin looking at America (the world is too big, I think) strictly from a moral and philosophical standpoint. As I do so, I anticipate a great number of conflicts to be initiated and hopefully resolved with Christians, Agnostics, Atheists and Buddhists of all stripes. But right now there is a powerful idea that I cannot resist, and that is the idea of God creating man in His own image, coupled with my interpretation of the Forbidden Fruit, the value of Earthly Works and Predestination.
It essentially boils down to this:
If human beings have free will, then God has endowed us with His own sense of Good and Evil.
The implications of this are as about as profound as I can imagine anything being. In the context of mathematics and philosophy, I am saying that man's sense of his morality is complete. Another way of thinking of it is that if salvation were a matter of picking out the colors of the rainbow, God has insured that human eyes all see blue as blue and green as green. Our sense of morality is innate and perfect. It is the same as God's own. Without it, we physically could not understand God's message, or our purpose.
Having a sense of something, even a perfect sense of something, is distinct from having an understanding of something. You may know something to be blue, but you may not understand its significance or what exactly to do about that percieved fact. But the underlying fact remains. All non-defective humans develop this moral compass just as surely as they develop eyesight. Morality is our seventh sense.
The first place to take this idea is to the heart of the Protestant Revolution. But I'll not do that today. What I'll do today is explain a little bit why certain things trouble me about church. They trouble me because I believe that any man is capable of gaining understanding of their moral and spiritual purpose without the assistance of formal theology or the community of Church. However I give a great deal of credence and respect to theology and spiritual community. The difficulty is found in the conflict between the three. They force a considerate person to make choices which can be rather upsetting.
It is the upsetting nature of these choices that have me at odds with various orthodoxies, notably the fundamentalist nature of Christian evangelicals in the American public, and the libertine progressivism of various sects regarding the matter of Holy Matrimony. I am between two rocks, neither of which are particularly comfortable. Above and beyond this is the practical nature of the original Gospel and the ways and means by which this information comes to us through various instruments of theology and tradition. Whatever happened to the Sacred Feminine? Was Jesus' decentralization of Judaism a device appropriate to the times or a model for all time?
These are all things I would imagine I could engage some friendly theologian over time, and perhaps one day I will have the luxury to invite such an individual over for a regular Sunday dinner. It's an Old School dream of mine - I should live so long. In the meantime, I have faith that I'll be doing enough good, so as not to pollute my chances with the vanity of knowing for certain. I'm not in a rush to figure it out.
But I sure wish I knew the answers.