Sunday, 28 April 2013

Super-correctness versus continuous revelation

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This assertion is based on my experience, as well as my understanding of history.

In my brief time as a Christian I have tried - at times - to give my allegiance to a bottom line - whether scripture, reason, tradition etc  - and found it almost immediately impossible.

It seems that a living religion cannot exist on such an abstract basis but must be 'believed' in the sense of lived; which means that there must be communication with God and revelation at a personal level - simply in order to sustain scripture, reason, tradition.

Most obviously, because disagreements on interpretation always come to the fore, and cannot be resolved on the basis of anything other than interpretation - yet interpretation is shaped (almost wholly) by motivation such that it turns out there is ambiguity everywhere (in scripture, reason and tradition); such that when any church is cut-off from continuous revelation, the corruptions of the world will supervene.

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And I was taught by reading Fr Seraphim Rose, as well as seeing for myself, that 'super-correctness' is no answer at all, but makes matters worse.

Super-correctness effects scripturalism (leading to line by line Biblical literalism and legalism), reason (leading to scholasticism) and tradition (leading to micro-level arbitrary ritualism and lifestyle rules).

Super-correctness leads to a particularly dangerous form of fake Christianity - prideful, zealous, punitive, negative, life-destroying, tyrannical and evil. It has everything that is Christian except the one thing needful: love.

Super-correctness is easy to perceive in other people, but very difficult to combat without advocating dilution, weakness, and 'liberalism'.

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What passes for modern Christian 'devoutness' (and is advocated by reactionaries) is, unfortunately, very seldom otherwise than mere super-correctness.   

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I think there is only one robust defence against on the one hand apostasy and backsliding into secularism; and on the other hand superficial and prideful super-correctness - and that defence is a living faith, a faith of frequent contact with the divine and in receipt of continual revelations.

The major mainstream branches of Christianity are mostly divided between a majority of apostates and a minority of super-correct - and the real Christians are trying to live off their glorious histories (I have tried this myself - tried to be a Prayer Book Anglican, in effect, to live from written history); but this won't work - or at least it won't work for very long, or in the face of difficulties.

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I think that effective Christianity from now will absolutely require to aim for, and organize around, a direct personal contact with a personified God.

That requirement to subjective-ize the objective is (I think) the characteristic which is shared by all significantly large and thriving types of Christianity.

(It follows that what cannot be so appropriated by an individual must not be put at the centre of their faith - only that which they feel can be and ought to be a rock.)

Of course this is not enough - and by itself or when too dominant this is excessively individualistic, creates schisms, weakens and destroys churches - but I think Christians must be open to, indeed insist upon, a personal appropriation and experience of the Gospel, of the main tenets of their faith.

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And it is clear that cool, detached, playful intellectualism can be a very significant barrier to this; which is why - in the modern world - intellectuals and intellectual activities are almost always anti-Christian in their effect (whatever their intention).

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