Shouldn’t we all stop throwing stones at each others, especially when we all live in glass houses? Does any person, group of people, or any political, philosophical or religious perspective have an absolute corner on truth? Aren’t all of our perspectives, beliefs and even convictions vulnerable to questioning and critique?
Maybe we should stop acting as if our own particular house is made of impenetrable steel reinforced concrete and thus impervious to critique. And, maybe we should stop throwing stones at each other’s glass houses and, instead, invite one another into places of honest and humble reflection and discussion.
Marcion Lives Today!
Recently, on FB and other places, I’ve seen this comment, “Marcion is alive and well today” (or something like that). Marcion was an early church leader (2nd century CE) who denounced the so-called “God in the OT” and proclaimed a Christian canon that did not include any of the Hebrew Bible and even excluded much of the NT as well. The comment that his is alive and well today is a response to those who would portray the God of the OT as violent and vindictive, and thus the opposite of the God of the NT who is love.
Yet, in my reading of both Old and New Testaments, God is portrayed at times as a God of infinite grace, “slow to anger and abounding in love” but also, at times, as a God who punishes, often quite severely, those who reject and/or oppose him. For example, hell–i.e., eternal conscious torment reserved for the unrighteous–is a subject that is only, perhaps, just maybe hinted at in the OT, yet it is a full blown doctrine in the NT. And that God is portrayed as condoning, commanding and even committing acts of extreme violence in the OT and promising divine, even eternal violence in the NT, I don’t think, can be denied.
What the World Needs Now
Whether one believes (1) that the just and violent judgments of God can be reconciled with the love, mercy and grace of God or (2) that these diverse portrayals are ultimately irreconcilable, or (3) some other theology, no one, in my opinion, has built a theological house of steel reinforced concrete. If we’re honest, we all know that our particular theology is not “the corner on truth,” especially when it comes to the nature of God and God’s work in the world.
So let’s hold to, share our theological perspectives with humility. Let’s discuss our theological beliefs with an honesty that acknowledges the weaknesses while explaining the strengths.
The last thing our world needs right now (or at any time) is more strife, more division, more defensiveness, more pride and arrogance, more blindness to our own biases, etc. We don’t need to agree with each other on everything or settle down in some kind of political, philosophical or theological no man’s land–negative deconstruction–but we do need to show much more empathy and respect for each other’s lives, experiences and, yes, even our beliefs and humility for our own.