The Chair and the Desk, 10/29/15

From the chair:

“I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

-Paul to Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:12

From the desk:

“Healer claims that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism hold ‘that there is a transcendent reality; that he is immanent in human hearts; that he is supreme beauty, truth, righteousness, goodness; that he is love, mercy, compassion; that the way to him is repentance, self-denial, prayer; that the way is love of one’s neighbor, even of one’s enemies; that the way is love of God, union within or dissolution into him.’ Heller is a learned man, and he makes a plausible case that if one wants to find similarities int he world’s major religions, and if one looks at them through Christian eyes, then this is a defensible list of the elements they have in common. It seems certain, however, that an adherent of an Eastern religion embarked on a similar task would format a very different list that would make Christianity sound rather like Taoism or Buddhism, for example, rather than vice versa.” 

-George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine, 1984 ed., p.41

I think most Christian efforts to collapse all religions into Christianity are kind-hearted; people say that everyone really has the same (i.e., Christian) definition of good and that most people are following it because they want it to go well for others. However, such efforts often depend on a very shallow reading of other faiths (that can be surprisingly disrespectful). They may also depend on a fairly surface-level reading of the claims of the Christian Bible. I agree with Lindbeck–it’s better to understand faiths, including our own, with a primary interest in understanding, not conflating.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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