- Henri Nouwen saw Christian life as in three stages: communion, community, and commission. That is, life apart from others (in solitude with self and in communion with God), life shared with others (with kindred hearts in community), life given for others (in ministry).
- The very essence of the New Spirituality (spirituality outside the church) is freedom to follow your own inner light without any pressure from dogma, teachers, leaders or institutions. As Oprah says “You are your own authority.” The only problem with this is that you are putting a lot of pressure on the one short life you have, and ignoring the accumulated wisdom of centuries of religion and the tried and true experience of millions of people.
- Jonathan Edwards, a 19th century Protestant theologian, wrote that “The Holy Scriptures everywhere place religion in the affections: love, hate, fear, joy, sorrow, hope.” Religion in his opinion, is a matter of feeling and emotion not intellect. This may be true, but Holy Scripture also says we should have “reasons for the hope that is in us.” (1Peter 3:15). This is particularly necessary in an age of science and the New Atheism.
3 Thoughts for February 11, 2019
- The problem with scientific methods is they can seduce us to think that all truth can be reduced to observable data, and therefore God and the great religious traditions of the world are irrelevant – humans are self-sufficient. However, these methods cannot penetrate the intimate, personal meaning of essential experiences of life such as suffering, sex, death, and the search for meaning itself. Nor can they give us answers to life’s biggest questions such as why are we here? where are we going? Is life and the universe essentially trustworthy?
- Nine seemingly good things that can become key temptations if you overdo them: striving for perfection (where nothing is ever good enough); helping others (to the point of burning yourself out); efficiency (when you ignore the needs of those right in front of you); authenticity (sharing too much of yourself when it is not appropriate); knowledge (dwelling only in your mind); security (being afraid to try anything new); idealism (to the point of losing touch with messy reality); striving for justice (to the point of always being angry about everything); self-deprecation (to becoming a doormat).
- The Church, rather than being, as Karl Marx wrote: an “opiate of the masses,” should be a radically counter-cultural force challenging the prevailing ethic of consumption that is destroying our planet.