Saturday, February 16

The Good News

After a long absence, I return with a five page article entitled "The Good News." It is too long to post in this blog, so here is a link of it as a pdf file:

The Good News

12 Comments:

Blogger Thom said...

Congrats Tim, that is a great summary of everything that you've been posting all these time. Mind if I print out the pdf and share with my friends? You'll be credited as the author, of cuz. ;)

9:45 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi thom, of course you can!

8:13 AM  
Blogger the_burning_bush said...

Hi Tim. I liked the PDF. I'm convinced no one will ever have the same style you have, and you ought to be glad about that. I will try to address the true feel you seem to have of the Good News while offering a glimpse of my disagreement where I have it.

1) Replacing the moment with the 'here-after' is the dictomey we constantly hear in sermons, I agree. My question to those who only see the 'later' part of their spiritual lives is essentially this: 'Why do you care so much about getting into heaven and so little about letting heaven get into you?'. Isn't this a false dicotomy?

2) Christianity provides negative freedom, definitely. As Sartre noted, existence is only understood negatively. Christianity (and esp. Romans) posits the self which Paul says we need to see to realize how very different we want to be. This is why the Psalmist says we are to rejoice with trembling, because there is always the possibility of doing the very thing we wish not to do. Until we realize our negative existence (who we do not wish to be) we do not recognize our positive existence, which is the Good News.

3a) In order for news to be Good, it must be good for someone, either oneself or one's neighbor. To say it is good for all is commensurate with saying it is good for none. The extremely self-centered person in Christianity recognizes perfectly the way he is required to treat others, which is to say, that if he wishes to be forgiven, he must also forgive.

3b) Christianity is not egotistical, but it definitely puts the individual before the many -which you pick up on. The ninety-nine sheep are left for the one that wanders away. The perfume is not sold and the money given to the poor. The angels rejoice in heaven over one sinner who repents. Etc, etc. When one understands devotionally the love God has for himself alone, then he understands what love is and how he ought to love.

If a person is not willing to be saved as an individual -to confess their sin and have the faith that they personally can be forgiven- then they cannot be saved. Just as the condemnation of the one does not depend on the deeds of another, so too, the opening of the door Christ knocks on cannot be opened by any other.

4) Some good points here. Our fruits reveal us for who we are, definitely. I do think it is a bit premature to guess another's inner values based on what they do without noticing the way they do it. Jesus spent a lot of time alone, did that mean he didn't care about the spiritual state of the Jews? No, not at all. The way he spent his time alone -petitioning God for their welfare- reflects this.

In the same way, I believe that watching a movie can provide the opportunity to reflect on the Good News and what it means to the one who watches it -which is of prime necessity in sharing the Good News. Are most movie watchers slumbering in their faith? Yes, you probably have a point in that regard.

Your examinations of the Good News have given you an appreciation for the Moment (and hence the journey as opposed to the destination). Existentially speaking, the work of the Christian must center upon the Eternal Moment, that paradox whichin lies the motion of love which, unlike the restless deceit of the world is everywhere its own destination wherever it may go.

As for the notion that Christianity is a positive freedom, Soren would probably note that if you call Christianity a positive freedom you are essentially saying that it can be expressed directly -perhaps that is what you are trying to do? I am not sure.

Is it of interest to you and the understanding of the Good News that Christ always preached the gospel in non-direct forms: the mustard seed, the pearl of great price, etc? If Christianity is a positive freedom -where one does not need to posit another thing- why is it preached to unbelievers indirectly?

Again, thanks for the reflections on the Good News, Timothy. Like the Athenians of old, Christians have a sad tendancy to say, 'Oh well, everyone understands what the Good News is ...' only to go back into their autopilot life.

May God continue to guide the inquirings of your heart as He prepares you for the return of His Son.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Thanks burning bush, the thought you put into your comments make me feel guilty for the very short ones I place on your blog.

I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean about Kierkegaard's reply to positive freedom. I used the metaphors (taken from political theory) as a way to think about Christianity's impact in our lives. It was not meant to be a decisive statement about the nature of Christianity. But maybe you also saw this, and I am just missing the point.

You're right that I focus on the journey rather than the destination. When Jesus spoke of this destination, he tied its quality our speicfic acts in the present (such as forgiveness, treating the poor well, etc.) Hence, I find it natural to reflect only on the here and now.

You have a good point about Jesus and how he spent alot of time alone. I was not trying to claim that someone's external behaviour can be easily judged to see what they truly value. Instead, I was trying to prove the idea that such a eschatology is unlivable with the empirical evidence that around 95% do not behave in a way that suggests that is what they believe (in my experience, anyway).

Again, thankyou for the feedback.

8:35 AM  
Blogger the_burning_bush said...

Hi Tim,

I put a large quantity into my comment. Whether it had any quality is open to interpretation ;)

I did some reading about 'negative freedom' and I did correctly identify it as a continentalist phrase (from Hegel particularly). The negative view of freedom implies that freedom cannot simply be communicated directly, but instead posits things which are not freedom (such as torture, etc.). In this sense Christianity offers negative freedom because it is always saying exactly what we need to be freed from ("Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.").

The liberals of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries seemed to emphasize negative freedom (no censorship, no press restrictions, no religion restrictions, etc.). Christianity has similarities with liberalism, but instead of placing responsibility on the government it places it on the individual. This was Kierkegaard's claim as well, when he asserted that the duty of restricting one's own choices is a far prouder title than that of the Censor General of the Roman Republic.

Jesus did want us to live in the here and now ... he did not permit people to wait to follow him (even to bury their own father). I would say it was more of a living out all eternity here and now. He also spoke about what would happen in the future ... judgment, the resurrection of the dead, the rooms in his Father's house, etc. But, again, the knowledge of the future is to be taken up in the way we choose and act in the present -not the other way around.

Thanks again for your post. This is a thoughtful place indeed.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

I especially liked the concept of positive freedom (freedom to rather than freedom from), Freedom to love rather than simply freedom from hate!

6:44 AM  
Blogger the_burning_bush said...

Hi Tim,

I think you'd like this one:

http://www.meredevotion.com/2008/04/momento-morte.html

(Sorry, I know it's sort of a faux pas to promote your own posts on someone else's blog)

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