Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jesus severed from Scriptures: New Age Anthropology


In his article, On Being Human and & Divine: Reflections & blessings at Easter, Michael Adee, field organizer of MLP, reaches far outside of Scripture in his word to More Light Presbyterians. He, in fact, seems to linger on the edge of New Age ideology. Not only does Adee continue to see homosexual sex as good, he embraces the divinity of humanity and encourages others to do so too.

It isn’t that Adee is denying the material world as Gnostics often do; he believes creation to be good. But, equating the idea of Jesus being human and divine with an understanding that humans are also divine, while at the same time embracing creation, is the basic world view of New Agers and Neo-Pagans.

Adee points to author Kathleen Norris and her understanding that the liberal emphasizes the humanity of Jesus too much, while the conservative emphasizes the divinity of Jesus too much. He quotes Norris:

“The orthodox Christian seeks another way, that of living with paradox, of accepting the ways that seeming dualities work together in Jesus Christ, in our own lives. For me, this has meant trying to hear the gospels in a way that allows me to reject a simplistic dualism in the interest of a creative tension between flesh and spirit, faith and reason, even God and Caesar.”

Adee uses this statement to write, “Our own Church and too many other religious traditions seem to resist relaxing into and embracing this natural and creative tension that Norris speaks of between flesh and spirit, sexuality and spirituality, of being human and divine.” (Italics mine)

Insisting on seeing humans as a "natural and creative tension" of human and divine, Adee includes the thought in his ending proclamation, “And, may all of us experience peace of heart and mind this Easter by embracing the inescapable paradox of being children of God, flesh and spirit, human and divine.” (Italics mine)

Probably unknown to Adee, topping off a rather Neo-Pagan view of humanity, he ends with a Neo-Pagan blessing. That is, “blessed be,” which has its origins among members of Wicca.

In all of this a thread is running, a theology that is disconnected from the Scriptures. Moreover, and terribly important at this time in the life of the Church, is the disconnect between the Jesus of Scriptures and a free floating Jesus who can be made the servant of any ideology.

Here is another important reason not to vote yes on amendment B.

The authors of amendment B sever Jesus Christ, the living Word, from the written word. In their rationale for the amendment they write, “Although the hierarchy of the church’s authority is clear, it is subverted by the current language of G-6.0106b, which substitutes for our obedience to Christ two concepts that are foreign to Reformed understanding: “obedience” to Scripture and “conformity” to the confessions.”

With that statement and with amendment B they are preparing Presbyterians, such as Adee, to fall into grave error concerning humanity and their relationship with Jesus Christ. They are opening the door to a thousand theologies foreign to the Christian faith since they will be based in a Jesus unattached to the Scriptures.

22 comments:

Aric Clark said...

"For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." Athanasius of Alexandria.

Crazy New Age Hippy.

Debbie said...

Aric, this does not mean what it seems to mean at first blush. See these explanations: http://www.nativityukr.org/worship/eastern_spirituality.html
http://www.cuf.org/Faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=257

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Viola Larson said...

Aric,
I just knew someone was going to bring that quote up. And I should have figured out it would be you : )

That statement by Athanasius has to do with what the western fathers would understand as sanctification or holiness. And it is meant to reach its final completeness after the Christian's resurrection. I don't believe that the holiness of God was on Adee's mind when he wrote that. And I am not implying that Adee believes his lifestyle is sin, I am just implying that his essay doesn’t carry that connotation

Sacramento,
Ca

Debbie said...

That first url should be http://www.nativityukr.org/worship/eastern_spirituality.html

Sorry about that.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Barb said...

Aric--
Context, context, context...

Theosis is similar to Calvin's 'union with Christ'-- but it is all about Jesus divinity, not us thinking we're like him. Adee doesn't get that, I suspect willfully so-- we're not free to carry on in our sins- sexual or otherwise, and claim the transforming relationship of union in Christ. If you love me, you'll obey me.

God's grace of himself changes us Aric...

Dave Moody
S. IL

Pastor Bob said...

Instead of trying to guess what was on Michael's mind I sent him an email asking him about this and commenting on other sections of the post. You can see the email on my blog.

Oh, and thanks for the comments on what Athanasius meant. I always wondered about that.

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

timeforthetruth said...

Excellent post Viola...very helpful.

Adel Thalos
Snellville, GA

Aric Clark said...

I think it's charming that everyone immediately assumed that I needed an education on just what Athanasius meant. I'm well aware of what Theosis is about. :P

My point is that it is an equally valid interpretation of what Adee is writing about. He doesn't actually explain what he means by the divinity that humanity shares. He isn't a polytheist so he doesn't mean that we are all somehow gods in our own right. Nor is he denying the existence of sin or claiming that we're all saints, who have perfectly realized God's righteousness.

Since you already disagree with Adee on a number of issues, Viola, I think you have an overpowering tendency to see (and even to seek) in everything he writes some kind of heretical source or impulse, when there are orthodox sources within the tradition that could also be his inspiration.

Aric Clark said...

ack - I always forget.

Aric Clark
Fort Morgan, CO

Viola Larson said...

Bob,
I also sent Adee an e-mail; he hasn't responded. I like your posting as I said over there in a comment.

However, some of Adee's comments do not lend themselves to what Athanasius was speaking of, for instance, a "natural and creative tension" between humanity and divinity in believers hardly fits.

Adel,
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Boy Viola,

I went back and read the article you mentioned and did not read it the same way you did.

All I take from Adee's references to us being human and divine is that we are created in the image of God, and that counts for something.

I most liked this paragraph that he wrote:

"I want Jesus, his example and ethical teachings to interfere more, not less in my life. I want Jesus to interfere more in our Church and in the world. I want him to interfere with our struggles to love ourselves, God and each other. I want him to interfere when we cling to interpretations of Scripture or church dogma that support our prejudice which hurts others, or when we refuse to see each person as God's child, as neighbor."

Amen, I say.

(What any of this had to do with Amendment B completely escaped me.)

Tom
KC

Viola Larson said...

Tom,
you are right, you did not read it the same way I did.

Sacramento, Ca

Kattie W. Coon said...

Viola,

You said:
"Tom,
you are right, you did not read it the same way I did."

Well, it just goes to show that there is room for variation in interpretation, and that proceeding with caution is in order, doesn’t it? Or are you really saying that Tom is a fool? If it's the latter, then I guess I can understand your response to Dr. Adee's essay as you simply trying to gently correct the poor theologically challenged fellow, but if it's the former, then I don't see any justification for your response to Dr. Adee. Possibly it's just in keeping with the Layman's "Call to Arms" that was issued following the last GA. I mean, isn't that the point in time where we try to demonize or sub-humanize our adversary, justifiably or not, so that we can proceed to destroy him with a clear conscience? You’ve taken the same approach now with both Heather Reichgott and Michael Adee, and I found your responses rather unwarranted in both cases, bordering on offensive.

I suggest you take seriously the lesson provided by the gracious Rev. Bob Campbell ( https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2113520706057661449&postID=3000650252974197556 ). I found his response quite refreshing and exactly what the current atmosphere needs. I agree with what Alan and Jodie said in response to Bob’s blog article, and I also agree with Bob’s response to them, which is why I’m commenting about it here instead of there. It's nice that you sent an email to Dr. Adee, but that, in my opinion, doesn't add any justification to your article.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Viola Larson said...

Kattie,
I only allowed this comment so that I could say that Pastor Bob is a friend of mine. That doesn't mean we always agree. I do like parts of what he wrote. And you are right he is a very gracious man.

As for Tom I wrote what I wrote because Tom and I have had the same arguments over every article I write which includes something about homosexuality. I simply did not want to argue with him anymore. He certainly is no fool.

As for Jodie and Alan, what can I say, they are who they are and I pray for them.

Debbie said...

I'd like to refer back to Aric's comments. Aric is suggesting that Dr. Adee only sounds like he's saying that we have a fully human and fully divine nature in the same way that Jesus does, similarly to how Athanasius only sounds like he's saying that we can become God. But, Aric suggests, just like Athanasius, Dr. Adee doesn't mean that we are truly divine in the same way as Jesus is.

Well, Aric, perhaps Dr. Adee could confirm that. Could you ask him? I would ask him, but I know from experience that he will not answer any e-mail from me. He has also neglected to answer any e-mail from Viola, so it is useless for her to ask him, either. But it is more likely that he would answer a question from you.

If it is as you say, it would also be nice for him to explain why he would use a term such as "fully human and fully divine", a classic term used only for Jesus Christ.

And, Kattie, by the way, his use of this term would be one excellent reason for Viola's interpreting Dr. Adee's article as being out of step with orthodox theology.

I happen to know Viola. She is not an attack dog, as you seem to think. Her purpose is to defend Christian faith, not to demonize anyone. That is so far from true about Viola that using "demonize" to characterize her actions seems to be about someone in a different universe. I can only suppose, when people say things like that about her, that they must understand everything they have read completely differently from how I have understood it. Same words, different meaning. And actually I think that characterizes the whole debate in the PCUSA very well.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

"If it is as you say, it would also be nice for him to explain why he would use a term such as "fully human and fully divine", a classic term used only for Jesus Christ."

Debbie,

You don't really think he was trying to say that term applied to anyone else but Jesus Christ, do you?

Here's what he wrote:

"For your reflections this Holy Week and Easter, what does it mean >>to you<< to be fully human and fully divine?" (Emphasis mine)

Now if he had written "for you" rather than "to you" I would have to raise an eyebrow, but of course he didn't, so why question the orthodoxy of his statement? As I see it, he never tries to argue that people (saved or otherwise) are both fully human and fully devine.

Viola, do you agree with Debbie's apparent interpretation?

"Well, Aric, perhaps Dr. Adee could confirm that. Could you ask him? I would ask him, but I know from experience that he will not answer any e-mail from me. He has also neglected to answer any e-mail from Viola, so it is useless for her to ask him, either. But it is more likely that he would answer a question from you."

Do you not understand why he might not want to answer questions from you guys? Maybe if you guys didn't take shoot first and ask questions later approach it might help.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Viola Larson said...

Kattie thats a bit of selective editing and reading on your part.

"what does it mean to you to be fully human and fully divine? How are you doing in your body and with your spirit?

"These dualities of faith and reason, flesh and spirit, spirituality and sexuality, of being human and divine, can harmoniously and gracefully co-exist within each of us"

"And, may all of us experience peace of heart and mind this Easter by embracing the inescapable paradox of being children of God, flesh and spirit, human and divine"

Kattie W. Coon said...

"Kattie thats a bit of selective editing and reading on your part."

Not at all; I pulled out the only statement involving the term “fully” or any synonym thereof that could be even remotely construed the way Debbie (and I guess you) implied. Where does he imply that the he believes we are both fully human and fully divine? Certainly not in the statements you pulled out. You are reading way too much into his words. I might even suggest that you see what you want to see.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Anonymous said...

Viola,

"the same arguments over every article I write which includes something about homosexuality."

I didn't realize that I was homing in on articles that include something about homosexuality. I thought we were talking about biblical interpretation, the identification and nature of God's Word, Anthropology, Logic, language, Church history, stuff like that.

I really don't care about the topic of homosexuality. It's not my issue one way or the other. Although I do remember using it as an example once or twice. Now you got me paranoid.

But I do think Katie is right about Adee's article and his use of "fully human and fully divine". I thought he was asking what the reader thought of Jesus being both. It would have been silly and out of context to ask the reader what they felt about being fully human and fully divine themselves.

I have a friend who believes she is divine. But its not a religious thing. Other than that, the only people I have met who come close to believing they are fully divine are usually pushing grocery carts around.

This guy is not pushing grocery carts around, does not strike me as being particularly narcissistic, so I assumed he could only have been talking about Jesus.

And we, as being made in the image of God, and being made sons (and daughters) of God through Jesus Christ, share something divine. We partake in his death and resurrection. In Jesus Christ we are new creations. We are IN Him. We are ONE with Him. The Holy Spirit dwells in us making us temples of the Holy Spirit.

It's all straight out of the Bible.

Adee is not saying anything beyond that. At least not in this article. Not that I can tell. If he has in other articles I don't know, because I've never read anything else by him and don't know him from Adam.

And the connection you made to Amendment B, is that what makes this article really about homosexuality? I just thought it was a non sequitur. I still don't see how the two sections of your post are related. And then I'd argue that Amendment B isn't really about homosexuality either.

I guess I'll have to pay more attention to the real topic of your posts. And pick some that can't possibly have anything to do with Homosexuality and see if we find ourselves having the same argument again. Maybe you can point them out?

Tom
KC

Debbie said...

Kattie, if Adee wasn't referring to us people when he was talking about being divine, then why did Aric bring up the Athanasius quote? He didn't object to Viola's interpretation that Adee was referring to people as being divine.

The context of the question, "what does it mean to you to be fully human and fully divine?", was in the midst of Adee's talking about our bodies and our spirits. Then Adee directly follows the question with the second question, "How are you doing in your body and with your spirit?" So why would Adee talk about our bodies and our spirits, then ask a question about what it means for Jesus to be fully human and fully divine, and then go back to talking about our bodies and our spirits? Are you saying that he is just a poorly organized writer?

It is hardly surprising, if that is what he has done, that we would be misled into believing that the question "what does it mean to you to be fully human and fully divine?" was about us people, since it was sandwiched between other material about us people.

Again, it would be nice if Adee would explain himself, since his article is apparently so difficult to understand, using wording that does not mean what its plain meaning would appear to mean.

At least according to what you all are saying.

By the way, Viola asked Adee her questions about what he wrote a day or so before she published her blog. So she did not "shoot first and ask questions later", as Kattie unkindly phrased it. Viola gave Adee some time to respond, but he apparently chose not to. He seems to prefer not to correspond at all with those of us who are theologically orthodox. It is unfortunate, since it makes it impossible to conduct a theological dialogue with him.

If any of you are able to ask him what he really meant (since the meaning of his actual article is apparently obscure), it would be great to know the answer.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kattie W. Coon said...

"And then I'd argue that Amendment B isn't really about homosexuality either."

There’re really two Amendment B's. There's the old B (that is G-6.0106b), and the current B (08-B). The latter is partly about homosexuality, but is mostly about getting rid of unreformed language such as "obedience to Scripture" and "conformity to the historic confessional standards". Some people would disagree, but that’s the way I see it. The former, even though it doesn't actually come out and state it, is really all about homosexuality as is evidenced by the historical record.

As I see it, the Holy Spirit was never in favor of leaving non-celibate Homosexuals out of ordained service. If it had been in favor of it, we wouldn't have had to couch G-6.0106b in such evasive and dishonest language. In fact, to find the honest prohibition of non-celibate Homosexuals from ordained service you have to go to a couple of Authoritative Interpretations from the late 1970's. The problem with these statements is that most people don't know they exist or, if they do, they don't really know where to find them. It looks like we’re keeping dirty little secrets. Where’s the Holy Spirit in that? Also, Authoritative Interpretations are never voted on by the Presbyteries and have been used on occasion to circumvent the Constitutional Amendment process.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al

Kattie W. Coon said...

"So why would Adee talk about our bodies and our spirits, then ask a question about what it means for Jesus to be fully human and fully divine, and then go back to talking about our bodies and our spirits?"

Let me turn the question around. What would you mean by it if you spoke of man's body and spirit and then asked for reflection about what it means to be fully human and fully divine?

I would have no problem recognizing the stark contrast between the two. Why do you insist on trying to shoehorn an absurdity into Dr. Adee's discussion?

"Are you saying that he is just a poorly organized writer?"

No, not at all. He's bringing up the contrast between the fully divine and the fallen.

"Again, it would be nice if Adee would explain himself, since his article is apparently so difficult to understand, using wording that does not mean what its plain meaning would appear to mean."

I had no difficulty understanding it and apparently others who commented on it didn't either. I guess it's true of any collection of people that some will get it and some won't.

"He seems to prefer not to correspond at all with those of us who are theologically orthodox. It is unfortunate, since it makes it impossible to conduct a theological dialogue with him."

Considering he is theologically orthodox, I think you've set up quite a paradox. No Debbie, I think he is quite aware that you guys are not really interested in a true theological dialogue. You would rather lecture at him, put words into his mouth, and dig for any opportunity to prove he's some sort of pagan. As Alan Kiste pointed out on another blog, it’s no accident that Viola would, within one week, write an article about the failings of the new FOG, write another article twisting Heather Reichgott’s meaning, write still another article twisting Michael Adee’s meaning, and then follow that by starting a series on Wicca (from a Christian’s perspective). I guess you don’t recognize the hostility inherent in the environment you’ve set up.

Excuse me while I pick my jaw off of the floor.

Kattie
Huntsville, Al