confession, meme

Confession Meme

meme of sorts has started, as I’m sure some of you are well aware. Its a confessional meme. Heres mine:

  • I confess: I’ve come very close to joining a denomination. Its something I’ve wanted to do – to join, get ordained and work at a school – but something I probably won’t ever do (join and ordained that is).
  • I confess: I’d had gone Roman Catholic if it wasn’t for one church in Portland, Oregon (don’t worry, it was a positive experience and not a negative experience of Catholicism). Oh, and the whole celibacy and no women priests thing. That too.
  • I confess: On the whole, the science and theology conversation doesn’t seem interesting.
  • I confess: Sometimes I wonder if a lot of theology is arguing for arguments sake.
  • I confess: It annoys me to no end when someone praying out loud uses the word “just” – as in, “God, if you’d just do this….”
  • I confess: I go to Union and I do not like R. Niebuhr and find Tillich to be uninspiring.
  • I confess: I have no freaking clue about what to do with the Pentecostal/Charismatic experience.
  • I confess: I once, for a very, very short time (and a long time ago), liked what John Piper said.
  • I confess: I worry that in the future, theology will become mostly a discussion of hermeneutics.
  • I confess: When someone says, “Because God told me so,” I feel frustrated, because its an appeal to authority that ends the conversation, and I wonder why God hasn’t told me so.
  • I confess: I want to spend an unethically large sum of money on computers and camera equipment.
  • I confess: I have only thumbed through my Richard Hays books.



14 thoughts on “Confession Meme

  1. I completely agree with your lack of interest in the science-theology discussion. And your statement about Niebuhr and Tillich while at Union is quite funny, but begs the question — why are you at Union? I also laughed at the comment about Piper; I was there once myself.

  2. d. w. horstkoetter says:

    Well, for a number of reasons – some of them is because Princeton said they didn’t like me (meh, I didn’t want an MDiv anyways), Yale thought they could do better than a Bible college student, and Duke was “waaaaaaait for it… umm maybe?… no, but try again next year.” I did turn some others down, so I was intentional about Union, just less institutions to choose from.

    The biggest reason I am here is to go to the other end of the spectrum and to converse with those people who are quite different than Multnomah. Its funny though, I was odd at Multnomah and I’m odd here too, perhaps I’ll always be odd. Also, teaching later on is only strengthened by diversifying one’s own experiences in the academy. So I think I am accomplishing my goal to jump out of being stereotyped while I am finding interesting and useful conversations with an institution that has tradition and recognition.

    I find it rather fruitful here, despite some drastic differences, and that in part is where the richness lies. With Dorrien as my advisor (and with whom I have taken the most classes from any one teacher), I find an interesting mix of the social gospel, niebuhrian realism, (and christian tilliachianism – nels ferré), and liberative “liberalism.” I guess you could say Union has become a bit of everything by accepting Dorrien and in so doing, I get to play and talk about the diversity of “liberalism.” Its a neat little microcosm.

    On another note, its funny. I mention Piper for the second time in this whole blog (the other time was in an equally negative context), and I’ve had three search engines throw people this way today. *sigh* At least its not as bad as the one person who found this blog by searching for “What makes a perfect nation state?” I think they took a wrong turn somewhere.

  3. ‘I confess: It annoys me to no end when someone praying out loud uses the word “just” – as in, “God, if you’d just do this….”’

    Yes! I know exactly what you mean! So annoying..

  4. adamsteward says:

    Here’s some. What to do with the pentecostal experience? Don’t do anything with the idea of an experience in abstraction. Just make friends with a pentecostal. (I was one at one point, so maybe you already have.)

  5. d. w. horstkoetter says:

    The thing is, Adam, that I’ve had my own experiences in the Charismatic realm, which is why the issue even comes up for me in the first place. I’m just unsure of what to make of it all, even having been in the midst of it for a time.

  6. adamsteward says:

    Hmm…maybe we’re dealing with something similar then. Not an insider anymore, but not an unexperienced outsider. Not an exile, but, in my case, not a voluntary expatriate either. From start to finish, it’s hard to know what happened, and why it stopped happening.

  7. Adam,

    I confess that I was never a full-blown charismatic, even if I’ve had my brushes with the (Catholic) Charismatic movement.

    My take on this is that the church is essentially charismatic, even if the manifestation of charisms becomes more nuanced, more natural over time. It reminds me of something I just read from Romano Guardini’s The Humanity of Christ about the miracles of Christ – even when they are extraordinary, they are marked by an unobtrusiveness, a naturalness, a humanity…

    Peter Leithart recently observed (likely he was citing somebody else) that in ancient culture, the common expression of women in public was hysterics. And thus, it was this hysterics that Paul rejected, making way for the more sober expression of women in church.

    What do you think?

  8. adamsteward says:

    Fred –

    First off, I’m not sure what you mean by saying that the charisms “become more nuanced, more natural over time.” If by that you mean that they are thoroughly human happenings, then I would have to aggree with you. To me, there is no question that genuine movements of the spirit happen in charismatic meetings. But this shouldn’t keep us from being able to recognize that there is also an excercising of a fundamental human need to reach out and long for God. This itself should be understood as a gift from God.

    And as far as miracles go, I think St. Anselm addresses this best in affirming that miracles aren’t really “super”-natural – they are a manifestation of the way its supposed to be in a world not suffering under the pain of its sins. Jesus’ healings almost exclusively return the disenfranchised to the worshipping community of Israel, and they are simply instances of who he is in his mission to restore the broken communion between God and Humanity. So it’s not the miracles, it’s the sinful and destructive orders that we experience as “normal” that are actually something other than the way it’s supposed to be.

    As for the Paul and Women issue, I think that explanation is as plausible as any, although I am very reluctant to attempt to identify any particular phenomenon as Paul’s referent. I think it is enough to say that from the context, which includes instructions as to HOW women are to pray and prophesy in the church, Paul simply cannot be talking about speech in general or speech that addresses the assembly. It has to be some problematic form of speech peculiar to the Corinthian church that is interrupting orderly worship.

  9. Adam,

    This looks great. What you say here clarifies some things for me, especially about the everydayness of miracles. What irks me about the charismatic groups is that miracles become the point of worship. I strongly believe that the gift of tongues has subsided now because language study by Christians has replaced it; or rather, the charism itself has a stronger natural base now than at Pentecost. Miracles, charisms, exist for building up the body. The hostility of parishes to charisms means that those who are interested in them form their own communities separate from the body – in so doing, they produce a polarity which mirrors the barrenness of the parishes. Ideally, the charismatic movement would be better integrated into the normative parish.


  10. adamsteward says:

    “The hostility of parishes to charisms means that those who are interested in them form their own communities separate from the body – in so doing, they produce a polarity which mirrors the barrenness of the parishes. Ideally, the charismatic movement would be better integrated into the normative parish.”
    This is a great point, Fred. A lot of my experience in the charismatic church has been charged with a lot of hostility and, sadly, a condescending attitude towards non-charismatics, both of which are surely spurred on by the rest of the church’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of “the charismatic experience.” Plain and simple, the Spirit unifies, and the excercise of spiritual gifts are occassions for unification. So if they are causing division, well, maybe weve missed the point. I completely aggree that the charismatic movement would ideally be integrated into the normative local church. How?

  11. Joseph Ratzinger asks the same question in this astonishing article (see especially Part II). Relying on this article, I see two polarities in the church: the pastoral for the care of souls and the apostolic for the universal mission of the church. The charisms are concerned with reviving this universal mission (what are tongues for but the facilitation of universal evangelization?) In the Catholic Church, charisms tend to initiate new communities within the church: monasteries, mendicant orders, movements. In the middle ages, these groups remained close to the parish, making a leavening presence. The last vestige of this alliance ended with the passing of the parish convent in the 1970s, but the bond had already been weakened. One consequence of this weakened bond is that both the monasteries AND the parishes tended to forget the apostolic dimension.

    A wide variety of ways exist to rebuild this bond. The parish should recognize the value of the charismatic experience and invite the charismatics to help revive the sense of the universal dimension in the parish. For example, preaching missions, offering retreats, and participating in common activities with the parish. For their part, charismatics should resist the temptation to make themselves pastoral (although a certain independence of community may be involved). In a Catholic setting, the minimal connection with the whole would be at the diocesan level.

    I don’t know it this helps, but I thought it might be worth it to share my experience with these struggles.

  12. Pingback: Long on Epistemology « flying.farther

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