Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review of "The Reason for God" ch 14 The Dance of God

This chapter describes our relationship with the triune God, who Keller describes as "a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity." He denies that God seeks our praise out of self-centeredness, but for our joy. He knows we can't be truly happy if we lead self-centered lives, so he demands we center our lives around him and "join in the dance." If we are selfless, we are experiencing the same happiness in loving others that He has experienced from eternity. Certainly, self-absorption is an ugly state of being that disconnects us from others and in its most extreme form leads to Narcissistic Personality Disorder. On the other hand, I find beauty in the lives of those who are focused on contributing to the well-being of others and who accept themselves without requiring the continual praise and adoration of others. This idea of "loving relationships in community" is an attractive ideal to me. This doesn't make the the concept of the Trinity correct or coherent, but it's a description with which I can connect. (Much better than the "egg metaphor" I heard growing up: God=yolk, Jesus=egg white, Holy spirit=shell).

Keller says that in the garden, when Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit, they "lost the dance." They chose self-centeredness rather than choosing to love and obey God. This self-centeredness produced psychological alienation as well as humanity's "alienation from the natural world." When Jesus died for us, he invited us to rejoin Him in the dance. And, at the end of time, creation will be renewed and restored. Even nature will join in the dance. Keller says Christianity is unique in its vision for both a spiritual and material salvation: a restoration of all things. I have never understood how nature got mixed up in humanity's offense against God. Guilt by association?

I'm a little unsure how to translate all this into something I believe in. I don't take the Adam and Eve account literally and I no longer view Jesus' death from the Penal Substitutionary Theory of Atonement. I also don't know what sense to make of a "new heaven and a new earth." So, I don't know what happened to separate humanity and nature(?) from God, I don't know why Jesus' death would restore the relationship, and I don't know what the future of humanity's relationship to God will look like in the afterlife. And this is pretty much the gospel in a nutshell. I know there are ways to understand all these things in a more modern, less literal way, but I'm not sure how much is left of Christianity.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, wrote something here last night but guess it didn't post.

    "I know there are ways to understand all these things in a more modern, less literal way, but I'm not sure how much is left of Christianity."

    I'm all about learning about the modern, less literal way of understanding Christianity, but it never feels like "belief" to me, it just feels like a philosophy at that point. I have friends who have done that, shifting from fundamentalism to fairly liberal evangelicalism, but evangelicalism seems to imply at least some level of belief in the historicity of the gospels. Without that, I don't really get it. Something attractive, but not something to stake my life on. At this point.