Challenging the Justifications

I read this in one of the replies Steve gives, and have some desire to go further on this:

the church and postmodern culture: conversation: Applied Radical Orthodoxy
To say that others are rationally entitled to their beliefs is not to say that their beliefs are correct, and, when we see that entitlement and truth are different concepts, we see that we can hold that the belief of another is false and yet reasonably believed by that person. So Wolterstorff’s epistemology allows for the religious believer to hold to the exclusiveness and unique truth of her own religious commitments. The lesson to be learned is that one can hold one’s own religious commitments as epistemically justified and true without programmatically denying the justification of the commitments, religious or not, of others.

I am not real sure about “one can hold one’s own religious commitments as epistemically justified and true without programmatically denying the justification of the commitments, religious or not, of others”; not in the sense that I can challenge the logic of it; I just wonder about the value of that. I don’t sense that RO is “programmatically denying the justification of the commitments”; I think they are CHALLENGING the justifications. And I certainly feel there does exist an appropriate, “proportiante” level of “admonishment” to be doled out. In that sense, the sense of warning or misgiving that we present to another theology (or what we suspect is an ill-begotten “justification”) should be proportionate to the “offense”. So I am constantly beriding Bush on the grounds of his apparently representative status of the Religious Right (although I have my doubts about the sencerity of his “advocacy” of such. Many people seem to want to say “I have no doubts as to his sincerity, but…..” I can’t even bring myself to let that temper my disgust for the man, or his greedy, selfish sell-out of an admnistration.)

I think it a little less appropriate to challenge in a scolding manner the theological “motivations” of people such as Jim Wallis (or perhaps Tony Campolo—I haven’t seen any RO criticisms or questioning toward Campolo, but he seems to be saying many of the same things Jim Wallis is saying, and is deeply involved in Call to Renewal, etc. )

Actually, I’d also be even more interested in RO/Campolo interchange than I am about RO/Wallis (or , as Jamie suggested, a broader RO/Progressive Christian dialogue). Campolo certainly seems much more “ecclesial”; he recognizes the primacy and centrality of the church. I’m not saying Wallis doesn’t, but Campolo certainly has , of late, much more of that “kerygmatic boldness” to insist on the reality of the body of Christ as central, neccessary, and our only hope.

But all this is to say that for a Jim Wallis to be questioned so accusingly, while the Religious Right and the Bush administration get rarely a mention, seems to suggest that the likes of Wallis and “Progressives” are considered a bigger danger. I don’t think that this is what any of these RO-writer/thinkers actually believe (I assume it’s more a matter of “of course the Bush adminstration is a bad deal”, so bad in fact, that other things are more interesting to write and talk about, and that their intellectual efforts should be levelled at the more “hard to notice” ways of capitulating to the liberal democratic notions, which I sense as the motivation for calling Wallis into question.) So, having said that, I return to the what I perceive as the gist of Steve’s argument/challenge: it’s in the presentation (at least that’s what my “challenge” would be. I’ve said before that I originally received the “Jim Wallis: Constantinianism of the Left?” article as inappropriately judgmental, which is not to say that some of the theopolitical perspective behind that isn’t appropriate (or even to pose it as a question). I indeed do see and concur with some of the sense of warnings that Wallis has ventured over into philosophical turf of the nationstate without much sign of a basic distance from that. But such arguments require some time to do much good to the “accused”, and require more intellectual diplomacy, and above all, a recognition of the primacy of mutual commitments to the kind of justice and politic to which God is calling us. I certainly see quite a bit of that to be affirmed in an RO/Progessive dialogue. That also DOES NOT mean that a basic “commitment to Christ” should require me to jettison my feelings that much of the Religious Right shares with me the same commitment, since much of what they advocate presents itself to me as “sheep in wolve’s clothing”; even as apocalptic as “angel of light” , deceptive, even AntiChrist when it comes to national embodiment of such as in the Bush administration. I mean, after all, at what point does “commitment to Christ” REALLY mean COMMITMENT? When does it become merely a propositional system of stuff you “believe” instead of an actual revelation of Christ himself?

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I am a Web developer with a background in theology, sociology and communications. I love to read, watch movies, sports, and am looking for authentic church.

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