January 07, 2003

Disputations has had some excellent posts lately. He aims at quality, not quantity, whereas I employ the "broadcast" method. He speaks humorously of the viral theory of heresy, which I have been prone to (his dig at those avoiding Merton because of something he wrote in his journal in '67 especially hit home).

My (very) limited theological reading suggests to me that much of it is speculation, an issue perhaps peculiar to my cast of mind. For example, here is a quote from Hans Van Baltahasar:

"Consider the abysmal problem of the relation between God's Kingdom and earthly power (into the ultimate depths of which probably only Reinhold Schneider has the courage to descend today): whether, for example, a call to arms by the Church, a blessing of weapons, or taking up the sword of this world is an expression of the courage of the Christian faith or, on the contrary, the symptom of an unchristian and faithless anxiety; whether something that can be defended and justified in a hundred ways with penultimate reasons drawn from faith (quite apart from the lessons of Church history - but then what does Church history teach?) will collapse miserably before the throne of judgment of the ultimate reason - because what of course appeared to be God's weapon in the hands of God's warrior against God's enemies is now suddenly exposed as Peter's desperate sword-waving against the high priest's servant, whose side Jesus takes in order to expose such brandishing of weapons for what it was: anxious betrayal."

This was great, I loved reading it, thinking about it, but in the end it fell flat, too speculative. The short answer is that he doesn't know what the connection between God's Kingdom and earthly power should be. And that's fine and I appreciate the honesty, but so much of theological writing is like this - pure speculation on this side of life. Similarly, how many are saved - wither many or few - has been debated ad nauseum with no clearer picture. Theologians have been all over the map, and rightly so since it is only for God to know. These "criticisms" if you can even call it that, may be the by-product of my math-oriented mind, concerned with being able to look in the back of the book for the answer - i.e. that a = (b + c)/ d. But clarity is overrated. Neither Zechariah nor Mary were given much clarity by the angel Gabriel, but one chose the better path.

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