"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

PHoC -- Last Chapters

Finished this book a few minutes ago and wanted to record some things from the final chapters.

Part IV deals with THE QUEST: Modern Christianity -- 1650 to 1945

Modern Christianity "developed as a quest to find the universal truth about God, the self, science, philosophy, society and nature. If human beings understood truth, then we could fix --or, at the very least, correctly anticipate -- the problems that plagued humankind. . . . Modern Christians, ... defined quest as a finite intellectual search in which their questions would be answered . . . In the modern mode Christians were less interested in pursuing God than they were in pursuing knowledge about God. For in their world knowing about God equaled knowing God." (pg. 218-219)

In the chapter on The Quest for Light, the author discusses several movements that sought to answer: "Where is God?" For the Quakers, "look within" (pg. 226), for Catholics, "pick up a book -- any book -- and read" (pg. 230), for evangelicals, "in the transformed heart of those born again" (pg. 233), the deists, "in a life of reason and good works" (pg. 237), the transcendentalists, "in the subjective unity of the self and nature" (pg. 241), for early Protestant liberals, "in comprehending the harmonies of the whole" (pg. 243) and for the doubters, "who knows? but that is what makes belief an art" (pg. 246).

Author discusses such things as tolerance, equality, freedom, community, progress, ecumenism and pluralism as it relates to the modern era.

Part V -- THE RIVER: Contemporary Christianity - 1945 until now

The ethics of "universal hospitality" was explained in such a way that made everyone under one big tent of Jesus' love. One young man interviewed declared that Christians "must 'feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, all taken in a frightening literal way.' Justice is not a metaphor. . . . Part of universal hospitality is in the practice of befriending other religious traditions and practices, while remaining deeply grounded. . . . [We should] engage in 'theological hospitality' ... [and] we 'should be open and welcoming ... instead of starting with the theological differences that divide us'" (pg. 303).

"Justice demands that all divisions be overcome by Christ's love -- divisions of economics, class, race, health, education, nationality and religion." Even nature needs to be "welcomed as part of God's universal hospitality." (pg. 305)

From the Epilogue

"Seeing the past on its own terms - not through the romantic gaze of nostalgia - is intrinsic to human flourishing. Nostalgia ... is the enemy of hope. It tricks people into believing that their best days are gone. A more realistic view of history ... envisions the past as a theater of experience, some good and some bad, and opens up the possibility of growth and change. Our best days are ahead, not behind. Hope for the future." (pg. 307-308)

"Without love, Christianity is either a pretty bad joke or a political agenda." (pg. 309)

"Big-C Christianity has often surrendered the pursuit of love in favor of its own power and perfection; Great Command Christianity grounds faith in love of God and neighbor." (pg. 309)

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