October 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
There are so many perceptions of what Christianity represents, and folks out there, in the “world” often attempt to understand what Christianity is, as a religion, from whatever their personal encounters with it has been. In fact today, I had an experience like this, an experience with a new co-worker who is realizing that I am different; different not because I am a weirdo, per se (although my wife thinks I am), but because I don’t run with the crowd, and I have a certain morality that is at odds with the one adopted by so many in the world (like hedonism). And so this represents one example of how a person “out there” might perceive Christianity; i.e. by reducing it to a certain moralistic position that he has built up based upon his own past experiences with Christianity.
Beyond these kinds of somewhat simplistic perceptions of Christianity as a religion, there have been more sophisticated constructions, or deconstructions of Christianity based upon certain types of criteria that Christianity’s critics have developed based upon their commitments to naturalism, or a certain kind of Kantian dualism, expressed, even still, through positivism. It is this kind of approach to understanding what Christianity is that I want to engage with throughout the remainder of this post; and yet as I engage with this (maybe somewhat outdated approach to Christianity, although I don’t really think it is), what should emerge is how in fact people’s perceptions of Christianity, even simplistic ones, have developed from a certain understanding of what ‘faith’ and ‘pietism’ entails.
Herman Bavinck, a Dutch Reformed (and I mean a genuine Dutchman) theologian from the late 19th century has this to say about some of the critics of his day, in regard to developing critiques of Christianity, as well as demonstrating just how Christianity has come to be understood (especially in North America) as a privatized-subjectivized thing. Here Bavinck writes how “experience” was understood among the critics that he himself is criticizing:
But in this way the word “experience” is made to play an ambiguous role. When used in religion and theology, it has a wholly different significance from that which it bears in empirical science. In the latter what is meant is, that, by consistent application of the empirical method, personal interest in the inquiry is to be excluded as much as possible, and that the phenomena are observed and explained in their purity and impartially; empiricism even calls to its help the experimental proof. But when men speak of experience in religion, they mean it to be understood, on the other hand, that religion is, or at any rate must become, a personal matter through and through. Religion is, according to this interpretation, no doctrine, no precept, no history, no worship, in a word, not a belief on authority, nor a consent to truth, but arises from within, when the heart is touched and a personal fellowship established between God and our soul….
It is really easy to see how what Bavinck is describing above has played out in North American evangelical Christianity; how a piety and in-ward individualistic religion has developed that no longer has the capacity to contradict and shape it by the Word of God. Christianity for so many has become whatever the particular North American evangelical wants it to be for them; if that means a legalistic Christianity, then so be it!; if that means an antinomian loosely lived Christianity, so be it; etc.
I wonder, honestly, if North American evangelical Christianity has the theological resource to repent of such sordid inwardness and self-centeredness, and come back to her first love?! My friend at work has every right to read Christianity the way that he does; it has been modeled for him, in spades, all over our American society.
The critics of Bavinck’s day helped to develop the intellectual space for pietistic Christianity to develop; unfortunately, so many Christians (myself included, at points) have helped to concretize this space into a foundational cornerstone of what it means to be a Christian. And not just for the Christian who lives this way (i.e. a personalized Christianity), but for those who we live with, day in, day out; we have the extra burden at points, of educating folks about such things.
 Herman Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation, loc 2786 kindle.
October 20, 2014 § 7 Comments
This is an apology ‘letter’ (post) to Rachel Held Evans, in regard to the tone that I used in a post of mine that I regret writing now (this one); not because I think there are not some material theological considerations that Evans and I, and a host of others could discuss, but because the way I presented my reflection on her post about ‘Abraham and Isaac’ was indeed patronizing and presumptuous on my part. So Rachel, please accept this apology from me; will you? I never should have attempted to engage with you the way that I did. Please forgive me?
Rachel, some people in the comments have asserted that my opening clause to that post of mine was misogynistic, because I used the word ‘girl’ in reference to you. I can assure you that I as the author of that phrase and word had no intention of using it misogynistically; that never even crossed my mind when I wrote that. I simply thought it was a clever sounding turn of a phrase (at the time) that I was opening my post up with. I am not misogynistic (just ask anyone who knows me), and again, never intended to use that phrase in that way. I also apologize for that, if indeed it came off that way to you.
Anyway, Rachel, again, I am sorry for the tone of my post, and the way that I construed it. I do not know you personally (of course!), and so for me to make the leaps in judgment that I did about you personally, were unwarranted and uncalled for. I should have left any response I might have had to your post at the material theological and ‘critical’ level, and allow the merits of such a response to speak for themselves (if any). I realize that many of your readers (who have been commenting here at the blog, or just visiting it because of that post of mine) will probably think this apology is too little, too late; but I hope you don’t.
I am a passionate guy, and sometimes I type before I think enough. I have been blogging consistently since 2005 on primarily academic theological themes, but I have had moments where I have gotten caught up in the moment too quickly, and made blunders of posts that I have had to ask forgiveness for as well (this is not a common practice of mine J).
I have no doubt that you love Jesus Christ, Rachel, it is just that we have some fundamental methodological differences in our disparate approaches toward understanding what that looks like. My usage of hyperbole and melodramatic speech in my post, again were uncalled for, and should never have been made. Again I apologize.
The peace of Christ and His Strength,
PS. I have tabled that original post because I think it causes more distraction than good, and so I think it is better to simply remove that post.
October 19, 2014 § 78 Comments
[addendum: for anyone still reading this post I have written an apology post to Rachel for the tone and aggressive nature of this post, here is the link: click here]
Rachel Held Evans, continues to write herself away from the historic Christian faith, and into the arms of something even beyond so called ‘liberal Christianity;’ she seems to almost be at the doors of atheism. She has recently written this in regard to the ‘test’ that God gave to Abraham in Genesis 22:
It’s a test I’m certain I would have failed:
Get your son. Get a knife. Slit his throat and set him on fire.
I’d like to think that even if those demands thundered from the heavens in a voice that sounded like God’s, I’d have sooner been struck dead than obeyed them.
Regardless of one’s interpretation of this much-debated and reimagined text (which makes a bit more sense in its ancient Near Eastern context), the story of Abraham’s binding of Isaac should unsettle every parent and every person with a conscience. Yes, God provided a lamb, but only after Abraham gathered the wood, loaded up the donkey, made the journey, arranged the altar, tied his son to the stake, and raised the knife in the air.
Be honest. Would you have even gathered the wood?
I think I would have failed Abraham’s test. And I think you would have too.
And I’m beginning to think that maybe that’s okay….
There might be some wiggle room here (as far as trying to understand where Rachel is coming from, but it is a hypothetical that none of us has ever been faced with, so it is a question, a hypothetical failure that remains in silence … except for Rachel, apparently), but she continues on in this same trajectory in the rest of her article (at length). Let me highlight what I think summarizes the gist of her whole post, well, through sharing a few more quotes from Rachel, and then I will respond further:
While I agree we can’t go making demands and bending God into our own image, it doesn’t make sense to me that a God whose defining characteristic is supposed to be love would present Himself to His creation in a way that looks nothing like our understanding of love. If love can look like abuse, if it can look like genocide, if it can look like rape, if it can look like eternal conscious torture—well, everything is relativized! Our moral compass is rendered totally unreliable. We have no moral justification for opposing Joseph Kony’s army of children, for example, because Joseph Kony claims God is giving him direction. If this is the sort of thing God does, who are we to question it?
My point is this: It is intellectually dishonest to say Christians make moral judgment calls based on Scripture alone. Conscience, instinct, experience, culture, relationships—all of these things (and more) play important roles in how we assess right from wrong.
I’ve long been fascinated by the stories of people who defied—or “worked around”—their religion in the name of love, and these stories are plentiful among parents…. These are people of conviction, people whose faith is important to them and who long for the approval of their religious leaders and the favor of God. And yet they risked all of that for love…. I am not yet a mother, and still I know, deep in my gut, that I would sooner turn my back on everything I know to be true than sacrifice my child on the altar of religion. (read the full article here)
As one of my professors in seminary wisely counseled us in regard to what he called ‘methodological skepticism’ (he was speaking of Rene Descartes), he said: ‘skepticism of this kind is like unconstrained acid, once it is released it is virtually impossible to contain.’ This I would suggest is where Rachel Held Evans has been living for the last many years, especially in the years of her notoriety. She began questioning things, trying to be ‘critical’ towards her evangelical (maybe even Fundamentalist) heritage–which can be a healthy project with the right parameters in place–but has ended up where she is now; essentially rejecting the God of Bible.
One of the more unfortunate things about Rachel Held Evans’ notoriety is, I would contend, is that it has catapulted her, in exponential ways, to maintain her identity as such. What I mean is that RHE and her whole online career has surrounded her with people who are corrupting and corrosive to her soul; Peter Enns comes to mind more recently. She was never mature enough (as far as theological training) to tread the waters she started treading, and now she is drowning in a tempestuous sea of doubt; not doubt about what she believes, but doubt about the God of historic Christian faith.
Is it wrong to attempt to be self-critical as an evangelical Christian (or as any type of Christian)? I don’t think so, I have been on that course myself (in some ways) over the last many years. But when someone isn’t willing or able to do the hard and rigorous work of theological contemplation, and when someone isn’t surrounded by good and edifying counselors, that someone might very well (and likely) end up where Rachel has apparently ended up; i.e. rejecting the God of the Bible, and reshaping him in a cultural and consensual image that looks like modern humanity’s ethical and “moral” trajectory rather than the God of the historic Christian faith and ‘holy writ.’
October 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
As Christians we often think about the theology of cross, and the hope of the resurrection (as we should!); but often what gets lost is a theology of the Ascension, and what that means for both now, and the future. Colossians 2, and the language of pleroma, or the plenitude of God’s fullness embodied in Christ dovetails with this, and the primacy of Christ’s life for creation as we are lead into chapter two from chapter one of Colossians, starting in verse 15. Without the ascension we would have no hope of salvation, no assurance of salvation, no High Priestly praying for us by Jesus, and no hope for final and bodily consummation. So the ascension, beyond just signifying that Jesus is above all, and beyond being the means by which he left this earth for the eyewitnesses to see, provides for us a multitude of other hopes and assurances; that without which, we would be a pitiable mass. Here is how Thomas Torrance makes this significant in a discussion he is providing for how ascension functioned in the theology of Scottish reformer, John Knox:
Knox laid unusually strong emphasis on the ascension of Jesus Christ in the self-same body which was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified, dead and buried and which rose again, and very rightly. It is one of the most neglected doctrines of the Faith. Ascension is not just an addendum to the story of Jesus, a ringing down of the curtain on his earthly life, but it is one of the great essential salvation events. The ascension of the Lord Jesus is the inauguration of the Kingdom of God over the whole creation, but as centred in Christ it is the Kingdom of Christ. What did the ascension do?
(1) It was the completion of the Incarnation event. He who descended also ascended. The very same body which had been born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, and died and was buried, ascended into heaven, for the accomplishment of all things. Thus the saving work of Christ reaches up into eternity, into the ultimate mystery of God.
(2) The union of God and man in Christ was assumed into the immediate presence of God the Father on his throne — there Christ wears our human life, and it is in our name that he is there at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, standing in for us.
(3) In our name and for our comfort he ascended to take possession of his Kingdom, to inaugurate it and enlarge it. There he is given and receives all power in heaven and on earth — there the crucified Christ sits at the right hand of power and glory.
(4) The Heavenly Session of Christ speaks of the fact that he ever lives to make intercession for us as our Advocate and High Priest and only Mediator, and prays and intercedes for us. This is the teaching of the Epistle of Hebrews, and plays a central role in Knox’s doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.
(5) In his ascension Christ opened the heavens into which we may appear in him before the throne of the Father’s mercy. Christ’s ascension is the ground of our comfort and assurance. It is the ascended Christ who sends us his Spirit, the Comforter. Thus the full meaning of the ascension is to be discerned in relation to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. It is in this light that the Church of Christ is to be understood, as ‘the blessed society which we the members have with our Head and only Mediator Christ Jesus, whom we confess and avow to be the Messiah promised, the only Head of his Kirk, our just Lawgiver, our only High Priest, Advocate and Mediator.
Thomas F. Torrance, Scottish Theology: From John Knox to John McLeod Campbell (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), 21-2.
We need this perspective more than ever! We need to know that Jesus is Lord, that history is his-story, and that the chaos of this world has already been reordered (I say by faith) by the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus is Lord, that is what his session at the right hand of the Father asserts, in a loud trumpeting way; in such a way that we ought to be quiet before Him as he sits upon his throne.
I am really burdened right now about what is going on in the Christian church, and in culture at large. My guess is that Jesus is about to step off of his throne only to finally come and announce, by sight, that he indeed is King of kings and Lord of lords; and to set to rights what the world has set to wrongs.
October 12, 2014 § 5 Comments
I am totally confused about what is going on in North American evangelicalism! I am a son of evangelicalism, and it is in absolute disarray; it is unbelievable. It seems as if the confusion ranges from trying to hearken back to a Fundamentalist past, attempt to live in a neutral and vanilla holding pattern, or appropriate full on Progressive Christian patterns; really it seems as if all of the above is on tap on a continuum found in any given North American evangelical church.
I believe that evangelicalism’s turn to the navel, introverted individualistic premises have come to roost. Which has positioned evangelicalism in such a way that the cultural sensibilities have more voice than the Lord’s voice. That a normative relativism and political correctness has so overcome the mood of the evangelical church that it is more loving to affirm the crooked rather than to point out the straight.
I see no sense, in general, among evangelicals of God’s real presence in the life of the evangelical church. There is no fear of God left, only fear of what others think. The wisdom of the cross seems to be absolutely foolish and weak to the evangelical church, such that the way of the world has more sway resulting in the worshipping of our self fulfillment rather than the fulfillment of God’s life and promises for us in Jesus Christ!
It is heart wrenching to watch this and be a part of this!
October 10, 2014 § 6 Comments
I was diagnosed with what is typically a terminal cancer in November, 2009; the cancer is called, Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT) sarcoma. The survival rate when diagnosed with this cancer is dismal; it is a mere 10% (up to 5 years). There is no protocol or treatment for this cancer, and typically when it is found it has spread so rapidly through the body, that surgery is out of the question.
By God’s grace, and after enduring grueling chemotherapy (apparently the most difficult protocol to endure – they used a related cancer’s protocol, the Ewing’s sarcoma protocol to treat mine) I had resection surgery on May 6th, 2010, and then more cycles of chemo after that through June right up to July, I was declared cancer free in August 2010, and I have remained cancer free since then. I survived this cancer, through all of this treatment (which almost killed me), but only miraculously.
I am opening this post this way not to talk about what I went through any further, but to join in on a conversation that has already been started by Brittany Maynard, and Kara Tippetts, and now a respondent to Kara, Jessica Kelly. Brittany is suffering from a terminal brain tumor, she is 29 years old, just recently married, and was just getting started with life; but this brain tumor has brought things to a screeching halt! Brittany has decided to take her own life through utilizing the state of Oregon’s assisted suicide law (her and her husband moved to Oregon, recently, to allow for this possibility). Brittany plans on ending her life through assisted suicide, potentially on November 1st, 2014. Kara Tippetts, is a 38 year old woman who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her pastor husband, and four kids. She too is fighting with terminal cancer, but hers is terminal breast cancer. She wrote an open letter to Brittany challenging Brittany not to take her life through assisted suicide, but instead to let the natural (according to the terms of her cancer) order of things take their course, and allow the cancer itself to take Brittany’s life – this is what Kara plan’s on doing with her cancer (i.e. allow the cancer to take her life whenever that happens). Jessica Kelly, in her own right, is a mother, a Christian mother who just recently lost her young little boy to terminal brain cancer. Jessica has responded to Kara’s open letter to Brittany, and encouraged Brittany with the thought (contrary to Kara’s advice) that it is proper and right for Brittany, if she so chooses, to end her life through the means of assisted suicide.
Here is a sample of what Kara originally wrote to Brittany, encouraging her not to take her life through assisted suicide:
Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.
In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the [sic] such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths. (source)
Kara is obviously appealing to the wisdom of the cross, the cross of Jesus Christ where suffering, of the most heinous kind resulted in bringing eternal life and beauty out of ashes to the many. But Jessica responded to this, she disagrees with Kara; here is how Jessica responded as she reflects upon the death and suffering of her own little boy:
The suffering that led to his death was not beautiful. That is not to say that there were never tender moments, but the overall experience was not one of beauty. And I find our experience is completely consistent with my Christian faith. The Bible does not say that death is beautiful. Scripture describes Satan as one who holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14). It is Satan who comes to kill and destroy, Jesus is the giver of abundant life (John 10:10). The Bible does not associate death with God’s beauty. (source)
This represents an honest disagreement between two sisters in Christ, and both of them, Kara and Jessica have presented themselves, either to Brittany (i.e. Kara), or to Kara (i.e. Jessica), in the most gracious of ways. My intention is not to muddy this up, then, but to continue within this same theme of gracious conversation.
What is under consideration, really only has ethical import from a Christian perspective. If I were not a Christian, I would say assisted suicide, without a doubt, is the way to go. If I believed that this was it, and that my personal comfort was the ultimate that determined the way that I lived, and provided the value to what life means and is ultimately about, then I would choose assisted suicide; no questions! But this is not the reality. The reality is that Jesus Christ is alive, He is risen, and we live in world where his life and death, and resurrection has provided all of the value and purpose that we need. We know what God thinks about life, we understand who holds the power of life and death in his hands. We understand, as Christians that we are not our own, that we have been bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:18-19), and that our days are in His hands and not our own. It is knowing all of this, knowing the living Lord, that problematizes this situation; the situation of assisted suicide.
I believe Kara’s sentiment is right, and Jessica’s is wrong. We are not on a slippery slope when it comes to this end of life and death question, there is a difference between alleviating suffering through various medications, and life support systems, and deciding to finally take one’s own life (no matter how great the suffering). God controls the “natural” order of things, which includes the number of our days (Psalm 139); “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up” (I Samuel 2:6). His grace was sufficient enough for His own Son to endure death by the “natural order of things” (which was according to God’s gracious plan), and not to allow His life to be taken prematurely – remember in the Gospel of Luke when the people wanted to take Him and throw Him over a cliff and kill Him (that would have short circuited God’s plan for His Son, even if it would have been the gracious thing to do in light of the terminal suffering Jesus was going to suffer at the cross).
I cannot ultimately counsel Brittany Maynard on what to do on November 1st. I can encourage her not to take her life though (along with Kara). I can pray for her, that if she has not given her life to Christ that she would. I can pray that the Lord will give her wisdom. I can pray that the Lord would miraculously heal her body. And I can use myself as an example. I was diagnosed with a cancer, that is just as terminal as Brittany’s (DSRCT) – look it up (Wikipedia has a good description of it, actually). What if, in light of the dismal diagnosis that I had, what if I had decided to take my life before the suffering got too bad? I wouldn’t be sitting here almost 5 years later writing this letter and reflection of sorts for the world to see on the internet. If nothing else, this should be reason enough for Brittany to forego her apparent decision to commit suicide, and take her life. How do you know Brittany (if you read this) that you are going to die from your cancer? You do not know that, for sure. Look at me. But even more so, look to Jesus! I am praying for you dear sister!
Let me end this with the first part of the Heidelberg Catechism (The Lord’s Day):
Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
And here is a video of Brittany Maynard:
October 9, 2014 § 23 Comments
There seems to be an ascendancy, once again, of philosophical theology [and I apologize, this post, or at least this point of this post is going to have to remain rather general and abstract without any concrete examples at the moment]. The way I understand philosophical theology is pretty close to home; it is a form (it might be THE form) of evangelical theology that I sat under while in undergrad at Bible College (things changed a bit for me in my seminary experience because of two profs in particular). Philosophical theology, as I understand it, and have experienced it, in a nutshell, is what has come to be called: analytical theology. Analytical theology, in a nutshell, is theology, like scholastic theology from the post-Reformed era that feels free to drink freely from the analytical philosophical tradition (like from Aristotle, Plato, the Stoics, et al), and use the categories discovered by these philosophers as they reflected upon creation as the categories through which the Christian God was synthesized and casted.
So even with the scant sketch above of how I understand philosophical or analytical theology what should begin to emerge is how there is no necessary connection between Christian theology, and its revealed categories, and the categories “discovered” by the analytic philosophers. And yet what happens in the analytical theology tradition is that a foundation, of sorts, is constructed so that these two disparate approaches of thinking about metaphysical things can be brought into mutually supporting beams such that God’s life ends up being founded upon our capacity to think God (from reflecting upon creation) instead of being confronted by God Self-revealed and interpreted in Jesus Christ. This is how I see analytical theology functioning, and it is because of this that I must reject it, and search for an approach (and I believe that I have found one years ago now) that does not depend upon my ability as a philosopher and theologian to conceive of God, categorically, apart from his Self-revelation.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, a German theologian from the 18th and 19th centuries, who became known as the ‘Father of Theological Liberalism’ (wrongly!) offers an alternative to the analytical tradition–when critically received–that I believe is quite refreshing; and that I believe moves us away from attempting to work out correlationist theologies that seek to synthesize Christian theology with classical philosophical categories (Thomas Aquinas is one of the most famous for attempting to do this … I should say though, that I can learn a lot from Aquinas, still, just not uncritically).
I believe, along with Schleiermacher, and Karl Barth (and Thomas Torrance, et al) that Christian theology cannot and must not depend upon any attempted correlations between natural reflection upon nature (the analytical philosophers), and then syntheses of these reflections with Christian theology. I do not believe, along with someone as Scottish as Thomas Torrance, that there are any natural analogies for God become man (i.e. the Incarnation); do you? Schleiermacher writes it this way:
Our dogmatic theology will not, however, stand on its own proper ground and soil with the same assurance with which philosophy has long stood on its own, until the separation of the two types of proposition is so complete that, e.g., so extraordinary a question as whether the same proposition can be true in philosophy and false in Christian theology, and *vice versa*, will no longer be asked, for the simple reason that a proposition cannot appear in the one context precisely as it appears in the other; however similar it sounds, a difference must always be assumed.
And this in regard to the audience of Christian theology:
It is obvious that an adherent of some other faith might perhaps be completely convinced by the above account that what we have set forth is really the peculiar essence of Christianty, without being thereby so convinced that Christianity is actually the truth, as to be compelled to accept it. Everything we say in this place is relative to Dogmatics, and Dogmatics is only for Christians; and so this account is only for those who live within the pale of Christianity, and is intended only to give guidance, in the interests of Dogmatics, for determining whether the expressions of any religious consciousness are Christian or not, and whether the Christian quality is strongly expressed in them, or rather doubtfully. We entirely renounce all attempt to prove the truth or necessity of Christianity; and we presuppose, on the contrary, that every Christian, before he enters at all upon inquiries of this kind, has already the inward certainty that his religion cannot take any higher form than this.
For Schleiermacher, then, and many others after him (like Barth, Torrance, and a whole host of more ‘liberal’ theologians), Christian Theology is for Christians! It is exclusive to those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear; as the Revelator has written: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
The ascendancy of philosophical or analytical theology that I referred to to open this brief piece up continues to make new in-roads into the evangelical heart-land. I think we ought to repent of that, and engage in theological endeavor that ironically comes from someone like Schleiermacher. We want to really be able to hear from the Lord, and attempt to repeat what we hear in a genuine way as Christians. We want to genuinely walk in the way that comes after we come to recognize that Deus dixit, that ‘God has spoken;’ and only after that and from that speech can we truly theologize and in a way that contradicts our words, and our lives instead of flowing from them (which I contend analytical theology does at its base in the methodological form that it flows from).
 If you have not spotted the undercurrent of what I am getting at yet let me help: What this cuts against, what I am about to write about, is natural theology. Natural theology believes that there are analogies in creation (because of an interconnected chain of being between creation and Creator) that can be used as foundation stones for us to build our knowledge of God upon (i.e. analogia entis, ‘analogy of being’). So this is part of the critique, and part of what is going on here. But the deeper concern I have is the impact that analytical theology can possibly have upon a Christian’s spirituality. I believe Christian theology, by definition, is for Christian eyes and ears, and so from this touchstone, of sorts, we proceed onward with Schleiermacher and Barth.
 Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, §16 postscript in Bruce L. McCormack, Orthodox And Modern: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2008), 72.
 New American Standard Bible, Revelation 3.22.