Friday, May 21, 2010

More on Death and more on Love (being inadequate)

I am always badgering my students to make their reflections rooted in specific events and circumstances instead of the general sweeping statement, Clayboy's reflection on the death of one of his parishoners shows why.

Interestingly Magret Hebron also comes to the conclusion (pace the Beatles and Steve) that love does not equal Christianity, although she is coming at it from a totally different perspective than Hays, her argument ends up being remarkably similar.

2 comments:

  1. Well, to begin with, I shouldn't be taken even as seriously as the Beatles, much less Richard Hays or Jonathan or Margaret!

    My observation is that if we were to try to distill the energy and power of our faith into a single word (which I am not convinced is a worthy effort or even possible), it would seem to have to be love, as "boring" as that sounds -- and I agree that it sounds trite. But it's easy to arrive at love as a fundamental elemental by asking the "why" question:

    Grace.
    Why?
    Love.

    Cross.
    Why?
    Love.

    Kenosis.
    Why?
    Love.

    Redemption.
    Why?
    Love.

    Love.
    Why?
    God.

    The Calvinist, of course, would answer "God's glory" to all that, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree so long as God's glory is recognized as emanating from His nature as perfect love.

    But technically speaking, unlike Margaret you weren't asking (and Hays wasn't answering) what the basis of Christianity itself was, were you? We're looking for the motivating factor of Christian action, for Christian ethics, unless I'm much mistaken. But even in that case, I still find "love" to be at the root of it all as an integral sina qua non. The question, I think, is how we decide which actions are Christian, and to that, I don't know how "cross" (for instance) comes into it unless taken as "self-sacrifice", which is undertaken as an act of love (either love toward God or toward those for whom one the sacrifice is intended to save). The same goes for community, redemption, etc.

    So it seem to me that love is an elemental, and likely the prime (only?) elemental. Yet I can see how that would make it an inadequate answer, much like looking up a word in the dictionary and finding that word being used as its own definition. But "unifying theme" sounds abour right.

    I seem to be blathering on as though I think I'm knowledgable, but I'd really like to hear your perspective here about why (as I fully expect) I'm missing the point.

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  2. Hi Steve, :-)
    As always, thanks for your contribution.
    I think the issue is that for you or I, conditioned as we are by our respective understandings of Jesus and the gospel, love is adequate for the unifying theme of Christianity (although Hay's first point stil stand regarding the NT, but if we are synthesising you've always got to lose some detail) and I think especially once you start dealing with Trinitarianism, love becomes even more foundational. However for those without such conditioning (i.e. most of humanity) love needs qualifying with other words, and therefore is not sufficient on its own. It needs to be reemptive love, or self giving love, love on its own it too vague and meaningless. At the very least it needs to be separated from the sort of love that our society champions: grasping, subjective, contrary, unfaithful, lusting, temporary love.

    But yeah, probably both Hays and Margret are stretching the point to make a point.

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