Tuesday, April 24, 2007

the clumsiness of fictional christianity

i loved the da vinci code
i loved holy bood, holy grail
i even liked the less-well-written 'last templar'

but let's be honest

these portrayals of christians are demeaningly one-dimensional

authors just don't seem to "get" christians
they write us as being scared of the truth, fascinated by folklore, and deprived of all rationale thought in favor of ancient mysticism

for example,
in the last templar
a character makes mention that there is "proof" of the humanity [aka non-deity] of jesus christ

he goes on to state the obvious, that this is threatening to christians, and makes the assumption that we are threatened by the "truth"
and that we prefer the "experience" or "comfort of faith" over "the facts"

but this is where they get it all wrong

see, there is a difference between truth and meaning

things that are true can be proven to be true
but true things are not always meaningful

meaningful things don't always have to be factual
[love, for instance, isn't a fact - it's a kind of experience]

the problem with dan brown and raymond khoum is that they think we count our experiences are proof of the veracity of christ's claims

which we don't

in fact,
we believe the teachings of the bible
because there is ample archaeological evidence and scholarly research to prove the worth of the text

despite all of the hullabaloo about the council of nicea and all the pseudopegraphic gospels [gospel of thomas, of mary, etc...]
the scholarly evidence overwhelming supports that the books in our bible are
- written by their claimant authors
- authoritative in local churches [beginning in 1st C palestine]
- consistent with history and biblical theology
- credible [in the case of the gospels] first-hand and/or eye-witness accounts of the life and times of jesus of nazareth
- withstand the rigors of textual criticism [i.e. there's proof that the books we have in our bible are actually the original books written by the original authors] far more so than those of plato, aristotle, or caesar's gaelic wars

in short,
there is real proof that the bible is real [aka a credible, historical document]

that's why we believe it to be true

there are always those who say that jesus never claimed to be the son of god
that this is a distortion of the church or pauline theology

but this is also complete bollocks
there could be no greater student of the hebrew scriptures
or one more fully commensorate with the followers of jesus
than paul

so, when paul traces the claims/miracles of jesus through the hebrew scriptures
[and, then, so does the anonymous author of hebrews]
we get a pretty solid evidentiary set
jesus did make claims to be god
equal with god
and his teaching supports the idea of a trinitarian god ruling all of the kosmos

we believe in jesus' teachings as they are commonly understood by orthodox theologians

because they're true

but just because they're true doesn't make them meaningful

again - this is where i think our fictional authors get it screwed up
"they" think that "we" overlook the proof/factuality of [1] the biblical text & [2] the claims of jesus because we're scared that the proof doesn't lie on our side

i.e. if we really looked at the evidence, we'd be forced to give up on our superstitions

but this just isn't the case

the scholarly proof
supports the biblical story

we can thank our host of apologeticists for unmistakeably showing us that [lee strobel, josh mcdowell, et. al.]

and i think the reason those authors [brown, khoum, etc...] make that mistake is that they hear us talk about our experiences so passionately and assume that that's all there is to faith

but this is not so

the proof makes it true

but the experiences make it real


the experiences make it real in a way that proof never can

the experiences make it meaningful
which is why we talk about our experiences of god
rather than the proof

particularly in a postmodern world
we've come to take "truth" for granted
and have become disullisioned with the meaninglessness of some "true" things

so, what we've come to want more and more and more
are things that are meaningful

christian spirituality is ferociously meaningful
the experience of god is life-changing
living guided by the holy spirit into a lifestyle of divine cooperation is a fundamentally altering path

which is why we talk about it so much

but let's not be confused

just because we talk about our "experiences" more than our "proof"
doesn't mean there is no proof

it just means that proof isn't enough to affect us

for that, we need something more

we need something real

we need to experience god for ourselves

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