Friday, December 01, 2006

Deprogramming your own Progressivism

“I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.” John 14

I started to write about an alternate and spiritual interpretation of this popular verse about the second coming when I got side-tracked. In the film The Shoes of the Fisherman mention is made of the Cosmic Christ. For unknown reasons I thought of searching Google for any information I could find. A site that caught my attention was revealing. I’ve tried to edit the paragraphs to make them relevant to my post. Of course, to get the original context and intent of the author, please see that website by following the link, if you must.

I remember hearing Jack Provonsha say, my apologies if dim memories of his sermon at Atlantic Union College during the 1970s contain any misquotes, that there was value in Teilhard de Chardin’s treatise on Christianity and evolution. I later heard Ronald Lawson of the Adventist Forum New York say in a casual conversation to others that Adam and Eve were not real people. After reading these excerpts, I’m intrigued that these progressive and highly educated Adventists were influenced in their thinking, if only mildly, by Teilhard de Chardin’s writings. Importantly for me, I have been influenced all these years through their impressions of Teilhard de Chardin. I’ve tried to shake much of this progressive thinking, but how does one make oneself less progressive? How do you "unbelieve" a progressive and ingrained world view and start thinking in a more conservative fashion? It is not easy, but perhaps I’m doing it every time I read and reread the Bible or argue with the Sabbath School lesson editor in what are clearly very conservative points. Who knows whether I’ll succeed or go off the deep end. I’m being a little funny here. Not to worry!

Now to the task at hand, selecting and commenting on these scattered impressions that have influenced me for almost 30 years or so.

“But in the theology of Teilhard we are all becoming Christ. There is no Original Sin, and therefore no need of Redemption. Evolutionary forces are ferrying everyone along to God-hood and all are `anonymous Christians' making faith in the literal death and resurrection of Christ unnecessary.” I actually like that phrase “we are all becoming Christ.” Of course, becoming like Christ is the more traditional. But Christ did say, “I in them and they in me, that we might all be one.” The ultimate temptation is doing away with Adam and Eve in which case Original Sin loses its meaning. Nevertheless, when you get down to practical human living, it makes sense that killing and stealing and sleeping with another man’s wife creates all kinds of problems and so is not desirable. Needless to say, I do believe and find value in the literal death and resurrection of Christ. I thank God for that.

Pope John Paul, unlike Teilhard, believes in Original Sin, the existence of Adam, and that Jesus Christ is not a `force of nature' but the God Man who literally died on the Cross and rose again. He told the scientists they were free to pursue `theories' of evolution as long as they realized that God's relationship with man was key. I thank God that I still value Jesus and his personhood. I could not love a ‘force of nature.” Regarding the Adam and Eve issue, there are some good points and there are some bad points. I’ve previously mentioned the good side of not taking the Adam and Eve story literally, (See this link.) While that approach solves some problems it, of course, creates others. If Adam and Eve didn’t exist, then man was essentially born a sinner, or worse, was always a sinner and was never perfect, or always had the possibility of being a sinner of his own accord. Either way, he can’t save himself and needs a savior to come to his rescue and to love him and to provide the object of infinite love, his creator. But we are getting into problematic waters hear by saying that man, or human kind, was never perfect to begin with. All the more reason for needing a helping hand from the creator of us all.

The world is not heading toward an Omega point of cosmic consciousness. It is headed for a judgment day and there are two groups emerging in a confrontation. On one hand there are those who worship, love and serve God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand there are the New-Age disciples of Teilhard de Chardin and his ilk who think that we are God. The more Christlike one becomes through the genuine work of the Holy Spirit, one can get a sensation that one is becoming less imperfect and sinful. (Although one shouldn't kid oneself and ever think that is somehow closer to perfection than one was the month before. We should focus on Christ the author and perfecter of our faith. We shouldn't focus on ourselves.) In a sense we are becoming Godlike and is what “Be therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” is trying to get at. That perfection comes, of course, through the abiding Holy Spirit and not through one’s own moral achievements. I also wish to love and serve God, Jesus Christ, and significantly for me, the Holy Spirit. He’s often left out of the picture and I think it important to mention Him as often as possible. For me during the last two years, the discovery of the reality and the personhood of the Holy Spirit is something for which I am grateful to God, to Christ and to the Spirit Himself.

Perhaps next time I won’t get sidetracked and will focus on how Christ comes to you and me every day through the Holy Spirit.

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