procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Goldingay and the Gospel

after reading the reviews for this book some time ago (over at Chrisendom), it was interesting to flick to the postscript (usually much more interesting than the introductions, i'm beginning to find), and read
The real sociocritical question then relates to us and our communities with our needs and prejudices. It concerns what we do with these texts. Fortunately or unfortunately there is no doubt about the sociocritical placing of their interpreter and thus of some of the issues they raise for him.
I write as a white, Oxbridge-educated, middle-aged, Episcopalian priest.
I write as a professor who now earns a larger salary doing an easier job in Southern California than I did in the U.K., as a result of the United States' capacity in the context of its economic domination of the world to attract whomever it wants to work here.
I sit writing these lines in the warm November sun on the extensive patio of our large condo, beyond which Latino gardeners sweep u the leaves for a much more paltry salary than mine, though one they may be even more grateful to receive for doing a job they may be even more grateful to have.
I write as the much-loved child of parents who left school at fifteen, as the colleague of many professors who resent the fact that their salaries seem paltry by American standards and as the husband of someone confined to a wheelchair by multiple sclerosis.

My reading of the First Testament* is shaped by all of these facts, among others of which i am less aware. It has a decisive affect on what i see and what i cannot afford to see.
John Goldingay, Israel's Gospel, IVP: 2003, p872-3

i wonder how clearly i see my world, see the world i am in, how much the many people and experiences and non-experiences have shaped me, and how much they continue to shape me.

how much do i question whether my agreement or disagreement with ideas, theologies, practices, is culturally-, or God-shaped?

Vinoth Ramachandra recently spoke about this, preferring (as i heard it) a more organic methodology, to try and circumvent this issue of unnecessary cultural influences. that is, the truth is transferred culture-to-culture, the out-workings of that are what are culturally shaped - but not the base seed. his point was thus theologies are that - theologies, culturally conditioned understandings of the one truth about the true God.
and whilst there are obvious caveats, nuances on this position, in many ways i am prone to agree.

the issue is rather - how do we know what are the seeds, and what the ground-specific fruit?

* First Testament is Goldingay's preferred title for what is otherwise known as the Old Testament, that is, the Jewish scriptures.

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Blogger Mark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:35 pm  
Blogger geoffc said...

ahh, but when you get to that seed how do you know there are not smaller seeds, for the seed you see is only through your culture-shaped glasses?

I think about it all the time. Especially in church history, for some reason, because of all this talk over the trinitarian controversy. Does me head in.

10:58 pm  
Blogger geoffc said...

According to Ben Myers, this is what Rowan Williams does;

"This means that an essential discipline of Christian theology is the practice of self-dispossession, of renouncing the claim to any final vision or any authoritative grasp of the truth...As a churchman, he combines an uncompromisingly rigorous commitment to the truth of doctrinal orthodoxy with an absolute refusal to grasp the truth as a possession or to wield it as an instrument of power"

I'm not sure I'm on the right track with this, but gees it's fun to quote smart people to make you feel smarter than you actually are ;-)

6:35 am  
Blogger Mark said...

Sorry for deleting my comment. I just realised I misread your post. Sorry mate!

9:33 am  
Blogger Georgina said...

Hi Doug. I just tagged you.

2:17 pm  

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