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Christ versus culture. Culture always wins.

Or… Christ in culture. Culture still wins.

As long as we draw a line between sacred and secular we will misunderstand where the battle really is.

The Holy Spirit actually is Christ in human affairs, manifesting in the impulse for truth, harmony, equality and freedom.

In a word… love.

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  • Pat

    “As long as we draw a line between sacred and secular we will misunderstand where the battle really is.”

    Amen. So many people don’t get this and one of the things I’m enjoying about being out of a very conservative religious environment is the opportunity to enjoy all of life without fear of condemnation. I have no desire to live a cloistered life.

  • carmen

    Nor me Pat. Excellent post Rev Naked

  • God is love. And God is wrath.

    He didn’t send down those rules just for kicks. But He knows our hearts and He knows we are willfully rebellious. The law will not be mocked. “The wages of sin is dearth”. There’s His wrath.

    So He broke into the prison…through the sewer…to finally end up on cross, for us. Forgiving us. Reconciling us to Himself. There’s His love.

  • Carol

    Old Adam, a sin-centered theology always leads to a law-centered spirituality. The Galatian heresy, beginning with the Gospel, but returning to the Law has been a problem from the very beginning. The Law was made for man, to give us some guiding principles; not man for the Law.

    “A moral theology built on the authentic Gospel will be a far cry from a stoical morality built on duty and obligation, both deduced from some cosmic law of nature.” –Fr. Joseph Oppitz, C.Ss.R

    “Core moral concepts, such as freedom, conscience, obedience, and fidelity, can have very different meanings and importance. These differing meanings depend on if our concern is with conformity, fulfilling norms, and subordination, or instead if our focus is radical thinking infused with the spirit of God blowing as it wills and marked by grown-up, freely affirmed responsibility.” –Bernard Haering, The Virtues of an Authentic Life

    “The typical moralist sees grace as a means to fulfill a commandment. He puts the commandment in the first place and sees the difference of Old and New Testaments in the observance of the Decalogue. In the Old Testament they did not have the grace to keep the commandments; now in the New Testament they have sufficient grace if they use all the means, the sacraments, and so on. This is an anthropocentric, moralistic approach which makes the grace of Christ and finally Christ Himself only the means for the law, for the commandments . But primacy is not the law, the commandments “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”; the primacy is our Lord, who in his grace, his tremendous love, comes to encounter us.” –Bernard Haering, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Moral Theologian

    The tragic dynamic of a Law-centered spirituality:

    Excerpt from THE ETHICS OF FREEDOM By Jacques Ellul

    2. Freedom in Relation to the Powers

    Liberation in Christ frees us not only from the flesh but also from the powers. Here again some explanation is necessary. The Bible speaks of forces which subjugate man. These are distinct from the flesh, which in some sense assimilates itself to man. They are not just evil and rebellious powers. They are not just powers which scripture has rightly or wrongly, realistically or mythically, personalized. We have to take the term ‘power’ in its broadest sense, for the law and religion can also be described as powers.
    Liberation from the law is liberation from a power. We find ourselves in the common movement whereby man loses his freedom when he uses it against God and receives it when God re-establishes dialogue with him. God imposes a commandment on man. The decisive and constantly repeated act of man is to separate this word from the one who speaks it and to try to make it his own.
    Adam did this. Faced by the one commandment of God, he isolated it under the serpent’s influence. He set God aside and controlled the commandment by giving it another point and meaning. Finally he made the commandment into a word of his own by himself saying what is good and evil. The relationship with God was thus broken and Adam’s finitude became his alienation.
    Now the Old Testament shows that this process as constantly repeated by man. It was especially repeated by the chosen people; Paul brings out the implications of the changing of God’s commandment into law. We must not think, however, that the process was peculiar to Israel. At issue here is the relation of all men to God, and particularly of Christians.
    As is shown by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, and also in the exhortations in the New Testament epistles, we constantly separate the commandment from him who speaks it. This means that it ceases to be a living word. It is a living commandment only because he who formulates it is the living God. Apart from him this word becomes a dead word comparable to any quotation from any author. It no longer draws its value, force and authority from the one who has spoken it. The commandment is not seen to be true for man because God is the true God. It now derives its authority from itself and its content. Man can thus evaluate its content according to his own criteria, e.g., reason. It is no longer invested with what God reveals himself to be for us, namely, love. Once we isolate the commandment from him who speaks it, it is no longer the commandment of love. It necessarily becomes word alone, and as such constraint, duty, and obligation.
    Above all, when man separates the commandment from God in this way and sees it only as commandment, it becomes man’s own word. He can then go on to treat it as his own word. He may still view it as the supreme and perfect word, but it is still the word of man. We should note this well, for it is still true even though, like the Jews, we continue to maintain explicitly that we regard it as the word of God.
    What we are describing is not a philosophical or theological attitude. It is our natural and unconscious inclination. It is our innermost tendency even though in good faith we believe that we are defending the word of God. This always happens when we legalize the commandment, when we isolate it, when we try to obey it to the letter, or conversely when we dismiss it easily by saying that it is outmoded, when we make a summary of it (an ethics), when we bring it into our own circuit of good and evil, when we use it in our own lives to justify ourselves (before God) or to condemn ourselves (in God’s place), when we harden it into a reality that has been declared once and for all, when we measure it by our own standards, or when we take possession of it in exposition, discussion, or dissection. In all these common and familiar attitudes we seize the commandment of God and make it our own word.
    This brings dialogue with God to an end. When we make the word of God our own word we simply talk to ourselves. Our dialogue is with our own reflection in a mirror.
    Why do we unconsciously separate the commandment from him who speaks it? It is because the latter makes us uncomfortable. He disturbs us by his incalculability, by his actuality, by the weight that he gives to his words. We prefer to deal with mere words, with a formula which is stable, which does not budge, which we can count on, which enables us to estimate our chances.
    A strange thing happens, however, when we make this separation, when we seize the commandment and make it into our own law, so that the living word is only past scripture. We believe that in so doing we shall establish our power over this law and to some degree make it a chattel of ours. Instead, we invest this law itself with power.
    The power that we have denied to God ( the power of love) is transferred to what we have made an emanation of our own, namely, the law. But now it is legal, moral power. It is an implacable power of judgment that hangs over us. We have made the law into a law of death. We wanted to make it into something else, but we are caught, for the law is a much weightier matter than we supposed. It was given by God. It was invested with power by God. It cannot be changed into a mere object in our own hands. It cannot be something mediocre and neutral. It was the word of life and it is not going to become a mere phrase in fiction. It becomes the course of death (Romans 7:7-13).
    The law itself becomes a power over us which constrains and binds us and pushes us further and further away from God. This is what the Bible is showing us when it describes the exaltation of the Torah, the adoration of the word and letter, and the fanatical obedience that will lead to conflict with the Son of God and ultimately to his death. For we should not forget that when we deaden the commandment so that it is no longer the place of dialogue with the Father, when we make of it our own word and thus break off the relation with the love of the living God, this does not simply mean that we quarantine ourselves and shut ourselves up in a ghetto. It means that we do violence to God himself. God willed to be love, and in refusing this love we bring about the death of God.
    In the form of word or law or morality, the law invades our lives. It becomes a crushing and oppressive power that drives us away from God. It brings us under the attraction of evil and makes the good sterile and desiccated. It becomes demanding and mingles with the moral systems of the world except that it is infinitely more rigorous, being a power in a sense that moral systems can never be. It takes possession of our lives. Thus man comes to be made for the sabbath. Man himself brings this about, but only because the law comes from a higher place than man. This is why the law becomes a source of bondage. …… ‘In reality a new bondage has been set up, a gilded bondage in some regards, for the moment man was brought under the law he was given the hope, in spite of all the evidence, that a means was given him whereby he could please God and escape his wrath.’ This was possible only because the law itself not merely had power but had itself become a power with its own intrinsic authority. This is why it can enslave and why its threat continues even to our own day. …… ‘we are always in danger of being satisfied once more with a purely external law, alienating our freedom, through sloth or false comfort, by complying with the order outlined by the law. We are constantly tempted to reinvest our freedom in unimaginative obedience to commandments. Hence the commandment replaces our freedom and takes charge of our moral existence.’