Thursday, February 15, 2007

An Amen Moment

The names Barth, Tillich, Schleiermacher, et. al. used to make my eyes glaze over. However, nearly 20 years after finishing seminary, I'm finding that study and discussion of the product of such folks through the lens of practical experience of ministry to be, dare I say, stimulating. At, Dr. Mark DeVine of Midwestern Seminary shares his insight in the form of blog articles and downloadable papers. In the final paragraphs of a paper entitled Friendship and the Cradle of Liberalism: Revisiting the Moravian Roots of Schleiermacher's Theology (an energizing, galvanizing, innervating, motivating title, no?) we find the following observation:

Once Christian reflection lets itself become distracted from the one object of its witness, namely God revealed in Jesus Christ, the intrusion of alien norms becomes inevitable. It matters not whether new tests of theological viability issue from current psychological fads, postmodern hankering for community or fascination with market techniques and managerial theory. Once Christian proclamation begins to take its epistemological cues from outside the norma normans of Holy Scripture as the witness to God's revelation, a lack of confidence in the possibility of theology itself is already exposed.

The result, too often, as Barth warned, is a Feuerbachian projection of human dreams, hopes, and fantasies into the metaphysical realm. When this occurs, anthropology replaces theology and, as Sidney Cave has put it so well, we "make our poor experience the measure of what God is."

By the way, that striking figure in the picture is Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schliermacher.

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