Thursday, October 14, 2010

God as facebook

In modernity we created one theological connection point for the entire world: "You are a sinner who will die in your sins unless you repent. You must be born again." This sounds theologically correct, but is it really the case that this is the only connection with God through the Jesus story? I think not, though I think it is a connection to Christianity and has been the dominant mode of connection in the church post-Reformation. But is not the sole means. And in postmodernity, such exclusion has little chance of connecting with the seekers and practitioners of the new religious economy. Multiplicity, a network of connections, is necessary, making room for both the sinners and the sinned against, the broken and the whole. Speaking more of the writer Gadda, Calvino says, "Whatever the starting point, the matter in hand spreads out and out, encompassing ever vaster horizons, and if it were permitted to go on further and further in every direction, it would end by embracing the entire universe."
Barry Taylor, Entertainment Theology, p 198

Is the statement he claims was created in modernity really created in modernity?

If one has read the Bible and has even a basic understanding of it, how can one say that that is a rather accurate summation? Does the Bible not say that we are all sinners, and come short of the glory of God? Does it not say that the wages of sin is death? Was not the message of Jesus and the Apostles that people needed to repent and believe the Gospel? Did not Jesus Himself say the we must be born again?

Upon what basis, then, can Taylor say that is not the sole means? How can he say that repentence and believing the Gospel is not the universal place where all must begin, the door through which all much enter? He may have a point that not all like that way, or like the door, but what does that mean? Does the fact that one doesn't like the door mean that one can try to climb in through the window? Does he give one scriptural source for his position? I've given the place where this paragraph may be found in his book, you may look for it and see for yourself--there is no scripture given in the context.

And when he starts writing about 'multiplicity' (wasn't that the name of an old Michael Keaton comedy movie, something about clones?) and 'a network of connections', does that strike you as him making God seem like Facebook, or some other social networking internet site? Have you made God your 'Facebook friend'? Have you left any comments lately on his wall?

Whatever Calvino or Gadda may have meant by that last bit Taylor quotes, I don't think there's any doubt what Taylor means by it--universalism. That only acceptable religious idea is one that would "end by embracing the entire universe". The most correct religious teachings are the one that embrace the most--the most people, the most other ideas, the most other beliefs--that that is embraced by the most--the most people, the most of the correct kinds of people, the most followers of other religions (so long as they are of the right beliefs, too), the most seekers and practitioners of what is considered the new religous economy.

If, in Taylor's view, God seems a lot like Facebook, Christianity becomes like Bill Clinton--everything must be polled and tested, to see what people want, and only then is a decision made about what to do and what to believe and what to teach. God, then, ceases to be the authority, and the power passes to the people--the correct kinds of people, of course.

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