Curmudgeon Drops Christian
And Challenges D.G. Hart
If you're reading this, you can blame a teacher for the ability to read, but you'll have to blame yourself for coming here. I used to blog under the name, The Christian Curmudgeon. Some of you will know that my old Google Account was hacked by someone asking for money, and, as a result, I have not been able to recover anything I had linked to that account. This presented me with the necessity of creating new email addresses, a new Blog site, and the opportunity to reinvent myself.
I decided to create two Blogs linked to different email accounts. One Blog is devoted exclusively to matters associated with the church I serve. There I publish homilies and other church related materials. I want to avoid any confusion about those things I write as a minister, and specifically as a minister of my church and my denomination, and those things I say a an individual and private person .
This Blog is devoted to what I want to say in the latter capacity. The first Blog publishes what I write as a minister with a very restricted identity. This one will publish anything I want to talk about, including theological and ecclesiastical topics not related to my restricted identity. One hope I have is to express opinions without people saying, "How can you as supposed 'man of God' think that?" Or, "No wonder, given your religious affiliation, you think such stupid things."
As noted above, I am also taking the opportunity to reinvent myself. This has been accomplished by retaining the word "Curmudgeon" and replacing the words "The Christian" with "Just a." I have changed my identity from "The Christian Curmudgeon" to "Just a Curmudgeon." Dropping the "The" is a characteristically humble admission on my part - there are Christian curmudgeons other than I.
Why drop "Christian" the title? Has The Curmudgeon apostatised? Not self-consciously. I remain a baptized, orthodox, reformational Christian. What then?
Simply put, I like to write about a number of topics, and I do not think there is a Christian view, not even a Christian curmudgeonly view, of everything about which I write. I do not hold, as once I did, the "world-and-life-view" outlook that there is a distinctly Christian view of and/or approach to everything. I am always a Christian, sometimes better, other times worse, but I do not believe that there is a view of, or approach to, everything, that is grounded in the Christ, the Redeemer-King, and the Bible as redemptive revelation. I think God has spoken in his Son and his Word infallibly but not exhaustively. He has spoken to us a Word that is redemptively sufficient for us in this world (i.e. sufficient to show us the way of redemption and to enable us to believe and live as redeemed persons) but redemptive sufficiency does not require a Word about everything under the sun.
I am affirming the existence of the distinction between the sacred and the profane, the religious and the secular, the church and the world, or, as our Lord put it in a concrete case, what is God's and what is Caesar's. Put another way, I am saying I believe in the existence of two kingdoms, both under the sovereign rule of God, the kingdom of creation and the kingdom of redemption. We share life in the kingdom of creation with all mankind. We share life in the kingdom of redemption with all who are in the church.
Paradoxically, I think the two-kingdoms, non-world-and-life-view, of this present world is the Biblical world-and-life-view. The church as the kingdom of God on earth has its peculiar sphere, and, when it focuses on the things which Christ, as its King, has given it, and only it, to say and do, it is has the potential to be most powerful. On the other hand, when it involves itself in matters not assigned to it by our Lord, it diffuses its power, weakens its witness, and unnecessarily binds its members' (most often a minority within its membership) consciences. Consider: does Christ have a Word to speak, does he call the church to bear witness about, and are the church's members bound to defer to the church's pronouncements - regarding such matters as the roles of women outside the church and family, health care, the economy, immigration, national defense? Does Jesus have a choice among the candidates that members of the Republican caucus will choose among to nominate to the House as its next Speaker? Is there a candidate, among those vying for the Republican Presidential nomination, who has Jesus's endorsement? Does Jesus tell us whether health care should be entirely an individual responsibility, a combination of individual responsibility and private insurance, a government responsibility, or a partnership of the individual, government, insurance companies? Is Christ for or against Social Security? Does he favor or disapprove intervention in Syria?
On the old Blog I published whatever I wrote that I wanted to publish. Most Sundays that included a copy of the manuscript of that day's homily. Those will not appear at this Blog site. I wrote about a number of ecclesiastical issues not directly related to my work as a parish minister. Those will continue to appear here, not on church Blog site.
I also wrote about historical, cultural, and political issues that interested me, or, to be honest, provoked me. I have asked myself, "What is the source of what I say here?" Do I know the mind of Christ about this? Are these words guided by the Biblical revelation? Do I say these things as a Christian representing a distinctly Christian point of view? Are these matters about which I am certain - as certain as a Christian, living in this age, recognizing his own limitations and fallibility, may be?
My answer to those questions is, "No." So how do I come up with the things I say? They come from a variety of sources about which I can only guess (much of what we think and do in this world is guesswork) - genetic tendencies, upbringing, life experiences, reading, reflection, reasoning, family, friends, conversation, prejudice (by which I mean matters I intuitively or after reflection judge and am unlikely to question), and who knows what else?
The bottom line is that I have opinions. They are my opinions, not God's. God gives me the freedom to have opinions, so long as I submit to what he says through his Son in his Word. I have an opinion about the Trinity, an opinion I believe is Biblical and obligatory on me and the whole church catholic. I have opinions about illegal immigrants, and I believe in my opinions enough sometimes to write about them, but I do not claim them as God's. Nor should I.
With this Blog I am out Hart-ing Darryl. He continues to say everything at two Blogs - Old Life (which is a reference to being an Old Side and Old School Presbyterian) and Putting the Protest in Protestant. Now when he writes about the movies and TV shows he and Mrs. Hart watch, is he giving what he believes are Jesus's reflections? I suggest the he, too, reinvent himself perhaps by creating a new Blog, "The Secular Hart." I like the double entendre of it.