The other evening I sat down to finish The Bourne Legacy (which I’ll be blogging on soon), but first started to page through the books I had just received from Amazon. I turned to Chapter 2 of Robert Webber’s The Divine Embrace, and was immediately hooked. Even though the hour was late – normally too late for serious reading – I just couldn’t put the book down. Jason Bourne will just have to hang on for another day or two…
Chapter 2 of Webber is entitled A Historical Perspective I (AD 30 – 1500), where he outlines the history of Christian thought concerning the topic of spirituality, which he defines as “a lived theology.” His concept of spirituality is essentially the concept that I have been working under for the past few years, that the type of God that we believe in (or, who we believe that God is) determines how we will live our lives. Conversely, I also believe that the way we live our lives reveals what we believe about God (our theology). Webber strongly makes the point that theology and spirituality cannot – or should not – be separated from each other. They key, rather, to understanding spirituality is in a “lived theology … found in God’s vision of creation, incarnation and re-creation.”
Webber shows how the development of the creeds were more than just theological statements (in the modern sense), they were affirmations of the Biblical spirituality that was under attack by various heresies. The Apostles Creed is the most basic and fundamental of the creeds, countered gnosticism, which taught a spirituality based on freeing the spirit from the bondage of the fallen, physical realm. The Apostle’s Creed very strongly affirms the incarnation, and was seen by the early Church as a guideline for the Christian life, not just belief.
It is interesting, reading through Webber, how certain elements of the heresies of the early church are still around, challenging a true Biblical spirituality. In fact, much (and perhaps post) of evangelicalism functions under some form of one or more of these early heresies, and absolutely functions under non-Biblical post-medieval philosophies. Over the past year I’ve grown increasingly disillusioned with Evangelical theology and practice, as has been evident on this blog. As I’ve dug a bit more into the theological and philosophical history of the church, the Evangelical church seems to have less and less to offer. And, the post-modern, “emerging” church is in no better shape.
Webber, however, is doing something other than confirming what I’ve already been thinking, he’s pointed out some errors in my own thinking, that I thought I had already repaired. This is exciting… As I’ve just posted on skepticism and having our beliefs challenged, I am truly excited when I discover possible errors in my own thinking, and perhaps have an opportunity to correct those errors.
I’ll start posting a series on this book, outlining his main points and giving my own thoughts. As always, feel free to comment along the way.
Steve-O, you have hit upon a major issue. I’ve been living among the evangelicals for over 30 years, but consider myself now more than ever a “Lutheran expatriate.” However, for a number of reasons I don’t see myself becoming Lutheran at this point in my life. If I weren’t committed on Sunday mornings (I teach a Sunday School class before church) I would be tempted to catch an early liturgical service somewhere then head off to our current church.
I am hoping that Webber will offer me some clues on how to continue a healthy expatriate status…
Correction: “Ancient-Future Faith”
Like I said on Master Quixote’s Totally Baked blog:
“Webber’s Ancient Faith has had the most impact on me in the last year — I am, however, frustrated due to not knowing where or with whom I can flesh this out.”
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