Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dagens provokation

"Most of us, for instance, rarely have cause to reflect that some of the variants of America's indigenous evangelical Christianity, especially of the "fundamentalist" sort, would have to be reckoned--if judged in the full light of Christian history--positively bizarre. Yet many of its dominant and most reputable churches have--quite naturally and without any apparent attempt at novelty--evolved a Christianity so peculiar as to be practically without precedent: an entire theological and spiritual world, internally consistent, deeply satisfying to many, and nearly impossible to ground in the scriptural texts its inhabitants incessantly invoke... the American myth of salvation, at its purest, is a myth of genuinely personal redemption, the escape of the soul from everything that might confine and repress it--sin, the world, and the devil, but also authority, tradition, and community--into an eternal, immediate, and indefectible relation with God, and it is to this myth, much more than the teachings of the New Testament, that some forms of American evangelical Christianity, especially fundamentalism, adhere. This is obvious if one merely considers the central (and some might say only) spiritual event of fundamentalist faith and practice, that of being 'born again.' In the third chapter of John's Gospel, where this phrase is originally found, its entire context is mystagogical and clearly refers to baptism, but so far removed has it become from its original significance in many evangelical circles that it is now taken to mean a purely private conversion experience, occurring in that one unrepeatable authentic instant in which one accepts Jesus as one's 'personal' lord and savior. Some fundamentalists even profess a doctrine of 'perpetual security,' which says that this conversion experience, if genuine (and therefore hangs, for some, in agonizing uncertainty), is irreversible; like the initiation ceremonies of the ancient mystery cults, it is a magic threshold, across which--once it has been passed--one can never again retreat, no matter how wicked one may become. One could scarcely conceive of a more 'gnostic' concept of redemption: liberation through private illumination, a spiritual security won only in the deepest soundings of the soul, a moment of awakening that lifts the soul above the darkness of this world into a realm of spiritual liberty beyond even the reach of the moral law, and an immediate intimacy with the divine whose medium is one of purest subjectivity... The churches most likely to prosper greatly are those that make an appeal to--and an attempt to adopt the style of--an emotive individualism. Whether this means seeking to provide a sort of chaplaincy for small communities of earnest, socially conscientious liberals (as do many mainstream Protestant parishes and many Catholic parishes that might as well be mainstream Protestant), or promoting a more traditional--if largely undemanding--popular moralism, or promising more extreme forms of spiritual experience, or supplying a sort of light spiritual therapy, what is ultimately important is that institutional authority and creedal tradition not interpose themselves between the believer and his God."
David Bentley Hart

10 Comments:

Blogger David Nyström said...

Ja, det var en provokation som heter duga. Vissa poänger har han helt klart, även om jag tycker han överdriver en del.

Huruvida Joh 3 'clearly refers to baptism' kan ju diskuteras, och hans parallell mellan kalvinistisk(?) evangelikalism och gnosticism var nog en aning magstark. Att betona vikten av personlig uppenbarelse är inte detsamma som att predika självfrälsning genom esoterisk kunskap.

Men angående evangelikalismens ofta självslutna system träffar han mitt i prick...

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you presume that Hart knows anything more about authentic Spiritual Life as compared to anyone else?

Is he a Realized Saint?
And why?

Because the only persons, male or female, that have ever had anything authentic to say about The Divine Reality are and were the Realized Saints.

Realized Saints because they had actually Realized something remarkable (and Divine) about the nature of existence altogether. And therefore lived in the world from an entirely different perspective than the normal consensus social "reality" of the times in which they lived.

Very few of such Radiant Beings were theologians, or even had much too say--they were essentially "fools for Christ", lost in contemplation of the inherent Radiance of Being

7:02 AM  
Blogger joelh said...

anonymous,

are you saying that only saint are allowed to speak? since saints are realized (and recognized) only after their death, that would condemn us to complete silence.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Erik Å said...

Varifrån kommer citatet?

4:02 PM  
Blogger joelh said...

erik: jag tror det är denna; artikeln är dock låst men kan köpas: http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/religioninamerica-hart-1563

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Citatet återfinns på sidan 51 i boken "In the Aftermath - Provocations and Laments" av David Bentley Hart.

9:48 PM  
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