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Re: "new interpretations"



>
> "Secondly, this scrupulous care to preserve the Christian message as
> something distinct from one's own dieas, has one very good effect upon the apologist
> himself.  It forces him, again and again, to face up to those elements in
> original Christianity which he personally finds obscure or repulsive.  He is saved
> from the temptation to skip or slur or ignore what he finds disagreeable.  And
> the man who yields to that temptation will, of course, never progress in
> Christian knowledge.  for obviously the doctrines which one finds easy are the
> doctrines which give Christian sanction to truths you already knew.  The new
> truth which you do not know and which you need must, in the very nature of things,
> be hidden precisely in the doctrines you least like and least understand.  It
> is just the same here as in science.  The phenomenon which is troublesome,
> which doesn't fit in with the current scientific theories, is the phenomenon
> which compels reconsideration and thus leads to new knowledge.  Science
> progresses because scientists, instead of running away from such troublesome pehomena
> or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out.  In the same way, there
> will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge
> of the difficult or repellent doctrines.  A "liberal" Christianity which
> considers itself free to alter the Faith whenever the Faith looks perplexing or
> repellent must be completely stagnant.  Progress is made only in a resisting
> material."
>
>   -- From the essay "Christian Apologetics" in "God in the Dock."
 
Thank you for the passage from C.S. Lewis, whom I read very
intently 40 years ago, and need to revisit.  He had a lot to do with
my becoming an Episcopalian in 1961.  I read MERE CHRISTIANITY
several times, but the bigger influence on me was SURPRISED BY JOY,
the title line of which he took from one of my favorite Wordsworth
sonnets.  I was most grateful for his candor in that book about
homosexuality in British 'public' schools:  at that time very few
Anglicans said anything at all about the subject.

I agree with his point in this passage, and have spent much of my
ministry looking at the hard passages.  I have sometimes teased
audiences by pointing out that one of the major pains of being gay is
that we MUST read Leviticus, whereas most heterosexuals rarely do
except when mining it for particular points.  It's a fascinating book.
In teaching it at the University, I have often brought in the text of
the US law that establishes effects on labaratory mice as the standard
for determinging whether a substance is to be carcinogenic.  Both the
US penal code and Leviticus use the same density of language to work
towards similar goals of public health.

While my views are still in progress, I am impressed with attempts 
to make the the six biblical references to homosexuality less 
hostile, but not persuaded by them, any more than I am by similar 
efforts to make the Constitution of the United States give a 
21st-century view of blacks and women.  In both 'revisions,' 
proponents of change must win their support not by making
the older document say precisely what they want it to say, but by
taking the essential vision of the older document to say something
new.

I do not take a strictly liberal party line in my readings, nor in my
churchmanship (I am Anglo Catholic, e.g.).  One does not have to be a
liberal to get new understandings out of revisiting texts, however.
Conservatives aren't locked into all past interpretations.
Conservatives don't give the same interpretations about the role of
slavery, usury, divorce, women.... (the familiar list, I know) that
conservatives and liberals alike once did.  And I suppose that all of
us at times works into a Paulene snit in which we are tempted to say,

    "I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!"
     Galations 5:12  (NRSV)

And we think that our current arguments sometimes gets nasty?!

May God give us discernment and a spirit of respect across strong
differences of conviction.

Joy!
L.




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