Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bibliolatry 103: The Dictionary's No Help Here...

It's my focus on the Holy Spirit within Christian faith that stirred me to get all grumpity at the Blasphemy Challenge folks. Most days, I honestly couldn't care less what atheists think. If they'd just gone their merry Godless way I wouldn't have given them half a thought. But when you start messing with my Comforter, it's Clobberin' Time. Or to be more accurate, it's clobbering time by the rather less rock-like standards of a slightly doughy pastor with a taste for satire and the absurd. Snarkily Poking Time, perhaps.

Oddly enough, both atheism and literalism seem to suffer from the same affliction when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Both succumb to the temptation to approach faith in a mechanistic way. But neither really grasps that the central truth of Christianity doesn't lie in doctrines, texts, or the frameworks that human language and rationality creates. It's essentially ecstatic.

That's why I have such difficulty with the term "Bible based." We can't understand the Bible...really know it...without the action of the Holy Spirit. We can know it as moral teachings, or as historical data. But saying one is "Bible based" seems to somehow miss the point.

I've also heard it said, again and again until my brain bleeds, that "All we need is Jesus." But that's hardly an orthodox statement of Christian faith in the Triune God. The problem is that we don't really have Jesus..not in the way He intended...unless we have the Holy Spirit. We can memorize the Jesus data we read in the Bible. We can assert our fealty to Jesus as we would to an emperor or whatever Republican equivalent happens to be in the White House. We can emote and babble away to Him to our hearts content.

But unless we've opened ourselves to the ruach, to the pneuma, to the shechinah, to the Paraclete he promised...we haven't experienced Him. We don't participate in Him. We aren't transformed and swept up into the relationship with God that Jesus both proclaimed and embodied.

Christianity is Christocentric, sure, by definition, just like Buddhists are Buddhocentric and Raelians are Raelocentric. But it cannot be truly Christian unless it is Pneumatocentric as well.