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For now, just some quick thoughts on theology (so my brain doesn't explode).

  • My reactions to Ostler. I've recently been reading Ostler's 2nd book. Some of the ideas in there I really like, some I don't like and I think I have counter-arguments for, and some I don't like but don't have good counter-arguments for (for example, his view regarding the ontological difference between God who has always been divine and man who has not doesn't sit well with me, but his extensive quoting and analysis in ch. 11 of the King Follett discourse is something I'm not sure can be refuted, and I certainly am not planning to take the time or effort to try to refute his claims...). But it's made me think about some of the problems of a theological approach.
  • Is a systematic approach irreverent? I'm not well-read enough to quote philosophers on this, but I think my point here has probably been made very clearly and carefully amongst philosophers (probably continental phenomenologists): It's one thing to read the scriptures with the view that they are all written/inspired by the same unchangeable God (I believe this). It is a much stronger claim to believe that such teachings can be understood through the lense of systematic theology. The danger, as I see it, of trying to read the scriptures as data points from which a theological system can be derived, is that I think it objectifies the scriptures (in the I-it sense of Buber? or the Other sense of Levinas??) and hence one's relationship with God (BTW, I really like Blake's relationship approach in his theology).
  • Spirit vs. law analogy. I think there's a fruitful comparison to be made regarding the Spirit vs. the law: the law is fixed like a theology is fixed, whereas the Spirit (like our readings of the scriptures) should be responsive in a personal (and hence idiosyncratic) way. (I have Joe's comments here in mind, in terms of personally responding to the narratives we read in the scriptures; a thought that I need to go back and reread to digest...).
  • Mysticism and mysteries. My sense is that mysticism has a pretty bad connotation in philosophical circles, esp. analytic ones. But I think there's an important difference between approaching the mysteries of God in an occidental philosophical way (contrasted with a Buberian I-Thou way?) that seems to presuppose a rational understanding of such mysteries (even if a humble, revelation-seeking approach is assumed, which I'm not even sure is possible with a philosophical approach...), and a humble, more spiritual (as opposed to just with one's mind—a distinction I'd like to think about more...) way.
  • Wresting and submission. Whether or not I'm articulating an idea that others would recognize as true, my personal experience—esp. with the scriptures—suggests that there's some underlying truth here. The scriptural question is "What does it mean to 'wrest the scriptures'?" Sometimes I come away from studying the scriptures feeling frustrated, and most if not all of these times I think it is after I am trying to intellectually force the passage into some sort of meta-theology. Now, I don't think reading (or encountering?) the scriptures should be a non-turbulent process. In order for the scriptures to change us, I think there is some rough edges (to use the JS rough-stone-rolling analogy) that need to forced from me. I take it the frustration I sometimes feel is a sign of reluctance on my part to let go of a preconceived theological view. But not just that. I think I feel this frustration when I take an intellectual rather than a spiritual approach, though I'm not exactly sure what I mean by this (I remember Matthew at some point making a similar comment regarding logic and the scriptures, either on a discussion page here or in private email...).
  • Pages and issues. Despite the following, I do think there's a fruitful way that I can approach the following theological questions:
  • Grace: More thinking on prevenient grace and '
  • Agency: I think Ostling and Morgan makes some great points on this; this seems a very important concept in LDS scriptures (hence a distinguishing concept from the rest of Christianity)
  • Foreordination: This is importantly related to agency and God's foreknowledge (though God's foreknowledge isn't a concept that interests me too much for some reason...); it's also a dangerous concept a la Blacks and the Priesthood
  • Infant baptism: I need to tie this in to the other discussions of human nature, the fall, but also mysteries (I think we simply don't know enough about this from the scriptures or even prophetic statement, so maybe it's supposed to remain a mystery...)
  • Human nature: Related to infant baptism...
  • The Fall: I'm still wondering about "is there no other way" and why Christ is the only person who didn't sin (which relates to Ostler's notion of all 3 members of the Godhead being ontollogically different than us)
  • Atonement: Analyze arguments but esp. scriptures in Ostling and Jacob Morgan's recent Dialogue article on atonement; should atonement be a mystery?
  • Self-deception: Ostler makes a lot of this notion (Terry Warner has also made quite a bit of it, before Ostler did I think), as well as many modern theologian
  • Process theology: I quite like James McLachlan's (?) article in Element (v. 1:2, contents aren't posted yet) on process theology; see also Clark's comments here (he probably has posted more recently on this...

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