Sunday, May 01, 2005

Personal Jesus

More from Mark Allan Powell, in Loving Jesus:

When we understand our spirituality as a relationship with Jesus, our spiritual lives are grounded in a reality external to ourselves -- something that we are not able to manipulate or fashion to our own design (at least, not easily). This gives an integrity to our spirituality that basically keeps us honest.

If Jesus really is risen, raised from the dead and living now with a spiritual body, then we can indeed have a relationship with a Jesus who is real, not just imaginary. We can come to know this Jesus and be challenged by him. We can grow to love this Jesus in ways that are both intimate and mature. And we can experience what it means to be in a reciprocal relationship with a spiritual being who loves us back -- indeed, who loved us first (I John 4:9).

I have to say, I'm heartened to read statements like this written by a bigshot theologian at an ELCA seminary. Because, to quote Powell again, "No matter how much we love theology -- it will never love us back." The Lutheran academy has for many decades engaged in a one-sided love affair (or perhaps just a prolonged bout of intellectual self-gratification) with theology, while losing its passion for the Christ we claim as Lord -- more or less dismissing the experiential aspects of Christian spirituality as pop sentimentality. Frankly, I think that attitude has hurt our tradition. I sense the beginnings of a paradigm shift back toward an appreciation for "celebrating the Mystery," without abandoning intellectual rigor, and I welcome that...loving God with all our heart (the seat of the intellect, in ancient Hebrew thought) and all our soul and all our might.


Andy said...

"Celebrating the Mystery"? [gasp] People might think we're becoming Anglicans? What will the LCMS say?

LutheranChik said...

Well, as far as they're concerned we're already the E*CA, so I don't expect we can say or do much more to upset them.

LutheranChik said...

I should add the postscript that I grew up in the LCMS.;-) They're responsible for my catechesis as a young person, a fact which I'm sure probably alarms them now, LOL, but which I credit with giving me a good grounding in Lutheran theology, as well as helping me catch the theology bug at a young age.