Monday, July 2, 2007

Father Greg Jones on Modernity

Father Greg Jones has a long and detailed post that explains his views on what it means to be an Anglican Centrist. The entire post is worth reading, but I found especially interesting his discussion of the good and bad that comes from modernity:

An Anglican Centrist – like me – is not a Liberal in the classical sense. Theological Liberalism is a product of the Enlightenment. It has its roots in philosophers like Spinoza who several centuries ago began to question the kinds of supernatural or metaphysical ideas so intrinsic to biblical Christianity. The Liberal theologians of the 18th, 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries have typically questioned the possibility of miracles; the inspiration of the Bible; the classical doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection. Most of the radical Liberal theologians are gone now, and the churches they ran have largely shrunk to miniscule size. The few Liberal theologians remaining in Anglicanism are of the Jack Spong or John A.T. Robinson variety.

Many people like me refer to these kinds of Anglicans as “Liberal Modernists.” And we say that disdainfully. This is because the Modernists have for centuries now produced a theology and vision of the Church that is little different from Modernist humanism. I have always said that if I didn’t believe in a powerful God, an inspired Bible, a universal and incarnate Savior Jesus Christ, and a holy means of grace in the Sacraments – I’d stay at home on Sundays, drink coffee and read the New York Times. I’d do charitable work, and mind my own business – and I wouldn’t need the Church. This in fact is what has happened in the West. The Churches who watered down the Gospel to little more than, “Be Nice Because Jesus Says So (even though he was only man)”, have not thrived.

Modernism in the Christian sense is not worth much, but the Modern era has given a multitude of gifts to Christians. Thanks to Modernity, we now have access to powerful tools like historical-critical studies of the Bible, comprehensive understandings of ancient languages, massive archeological discoveries, telecommunications, affordable copies of the Bible in dozens of good translations, and so on. But the tools are not the point – just a means to an end. The end has to be the same as the beginning, in the case of faith, and that is the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Interestingly, the Modern era has generated a lot of skepticism about biblical Christianity – yet – it has not managed to disprove it.

Indeed, thanks to Modernity, we have discovered two huge things: 1) That the now standard scientific understanding of the Universe and its origins supports the idea that it was all created at once, out of nothing, in a flash of light. Reminds me of Genesis. 2) Of all ancient writings, the Bible represents the most reliable collection of texts in terms of the number and age of ancient copies. There is no other library of books from ancient times which is as well supported and attested to as the Holy Bible. We have more copies, more good copies, more ancient copies, and more agreement between copies of the Biblical books than any other ancient books. In other words, Modern science has questioned many small biblical details – but the quality of the bible as a witness to the stories it tells is perhaps even stronger now. That’s cool.


Read the entire post here.

Father Jones seems to have captured where I am theologically--why bother if you don't believe in the incarnation or resurrection? But he also recognizes that our faith has to adjust in response to the results of the tools of modernity. that's why we remain Christians, but reject creationism and embrace tools such as the historical critical method.

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