Here's the latest fax from the eternal realms;-)
This short article deals with Friend Chuck Fager's intriguing new series at his Internet blog, A Friendly Letter, where he is contrasting one version of creedal religion (New Covenant Temple) with the Society of Friends (of the progressive sort).
He shows in startling detail why seldom if ever shall the twain meet, participate, or agree. These two contrasting worldviews have very different perceptions, many different ethical values, even different halos;-). Furthermore, alien creeds such as NCT do harp on and on about very strange doctrines.
Don't miss these very lucid contrasts by writer and thinker Chuck Fager.
For even deeper analyses check out the excellent Friends journal of discussion and study, Quaker Theology, of which Chuck is the editor, Stephen Angell and Ann K. Riggs, associate editors. The latest issue, #27, is online for free at http://quakertheology.org/QT-27.html
The volume contains insightful articles such as "Thunder in Carolina, Part Two: NCYM-FUM and "Unity" vs. Uniformity by Chuck Fager.
But now on to chewing on "Some Quaker FAQS," reflecting on the points of Fager's A Friendly Letter:
#1 "So one other way some important theologians have thought about him [Jesus] is, not a sacrifice, but a kind of model for humans to ponder, of how a non-wrathful God might want others to live, or at least learn about life." Chuck Fager
Why would a "non-wrathful God" allow, let alone cause/will/ordain, that billions of humans over the time of the last few hundred thousand years be persecuted, oppressed, harmed, and slaughtered by others, often in the name of God?
And, probably even worse, why would such a loving God allow billions of humans to endure severe suffering and excruciating deaths from various forms of natural evil and disasters from the Black Death, malaria, small pox and cancer to tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes?
I should caution that Fager already acknowledges this conundrum only a paragraph later when he writes, "much of life still has a tragic character."
#2 When questioning Evangelical Christianity's belief in a "personal relationship" with Jesus, Chuck uses the analogy, "But many of us have read or heard about Harry Potter, seen him in movies. How does any of this add up to a 'personal relationship'?"
This analogy by Fager doesn't work well except for the few mythicists who claim that the historical leader, Jesus, never existed but was a completely fictional character. The vast majority of historical scholars think Jesus existed.
Closer to the point would be to say this spiritual "personal relationship" with Jesus is like having one with another real and admired historical leader such as Martin Luther King Jr. or C.S. Lewis or George Fox.
Strangely, in fact, religious people often do speak of just such occurrences, not with Jesus only. The famous Christian writer J.B. Phillips, actually claimed that he did have a spiritual relationship/encounter with C.S.Lewis after the latter's death.
Phillips wrote that Lewis came to him in a vivid vision, stood in front of him in his locked house, and spoke words of comfort which helped Phillips overcome a deep depression!
In addition, C.S. Lewis himself and other famous religious thinkers have also written of their own supernatural encounters with dead humans.
So if one is willing to accept the view that the essentially true is the spiritual and eternal, then a relationship with a dead person (who is only dead on the level of matter and energy) isn't nearly as bizarre as it first sounds. Heck, these same humans, also, believe in angelic visitors from the supernatural realm.
Chuck Fager may be showing his hand (sorry to make an analogy between poker and spiritual philosophy;-)
that he is a modern--
one who isn't superstitious in the supernatural sense of the term.
I agree with him. I'm an Enlightenment modern. Besides, I've never believed in angels hovering in the air, didn't think, (even in my most devout years as a Christian), that there is a supernatural realm where dead people in Heaven are observing us, can communicate with us, etc.
To be continued--
In the Light,