Thursday, March 5, 2009

Giving Up - Yes or No.

I was listening to Fresh Air yesterday. Terry Gross was speaking with Bart Ehrman, one of my favorite New Testament scholars. Professor Ehrman and Ms. Gross were conversing about Professor Ehrman's new book, Jesus Interrupted. I have many of his books; so, chances are I'll buy and enjoy this one too.

I didn't find Prof. Ehrman's comments about the gospels particularly controversial or disturbing. I learned in seminary and subsequent studies about the different audiences and reasons for the four synoptic gospels. I was more captivated by his open admission that he is an agnostic. I don't think that agnosticism is some sort of "unforgivable sin." I do think it is somewhat sad that Prof. Ehrman and others like him ultimately say no to their Christian Faith. Professor Ehrman finally said no to Christ because he could not reconcile the reality of suffering with Christianity's proclamation concerning an all powerful and loving God who has humanity's best interests at heart. Ehrman, and others like him, find tradition answers regarding suffering too simplistic.

I comprehend Ehrman's decision to say no to Jesus Christ but I can't say no the same way that he did. Episcopal priests shouldn't be agnostic and consecrate the sacraments at the same time. And yet, I know plenty of clergy and lay persons who experience all sorts of doubt about God, Jesus the Christ, and why there is so much evil and suffering in the world. I know that there are plenty of times I wonder whether or not God exists. Should we therefore "give up" on religion? I don't always "know" that Jesus the Christ's healing power still can redeem people. I wish that God would indeed stop the suffering in Zimbabwe. My current choice is not to say no though. I'd rather grapple with God as we know God through the Christian tradition and Jesus the Christ.

I believe that Church should be the place where people of the Christian faith and "seekers" come and share their questions, sorrows, and joys with one another. I believe that Jesus the Christ and the early Church's apostles encourage Christ's disciples to live into the Gospel, formulate and act upon healthy spiritual disciplines, and act as Christ's agents of mercy, salvation, and Grace in the world. I think that the Internet holds some promise for working out some of this stuff outside of the traditional Church's four walls.

So, I'm back to the blogosphere. I've blogged before at Vocatio. My focal points there varied from vocational questions, my perceptions of Anglican/Episcopal Church issues, and congregational renewal and development. I don't intend to address those issues here. I instead hope to simply raise up questions about faith, not as a means to come up with an absolute set of answers for issues regarding suffering, evil, salvation, and retribution. Rather, I'd like to explore why we continue to believe despite all of these truths. Why do Christians strive in their efforts to continue to love God and their neighbors in a world that persecutes and harms innocent victims and privileges the wealthy more so than the poor.

I invite you to join me in this journey and wonder about the matters of a Christian Quandary with me.

Blessings Along The Way,

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