Are you a First-, Second-, and N-Order Complaint Person?

Read this blog entry and see where you fit in. Chances are you fit into the N-Order if you read my blog!!!


The Devil: Satan as a Functional Theodicy, Part 1

More quality from Experimental Theology. I’ve been thinking about the whole Devil/Satan issue lately, particularly as Pentecostal friends mention this ‘enemy’ quite a lot. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve been interested in the psychology of Satan for some time. Not Satan’s psychology, mind you. But how Satan, as an psychological construct, functions in the minds of people. How do people use Satan to describe and explain their experiences?

Obviously, such an approach sets aside questions of ontology and focuses on the psychological dynamics. As a psychologist I can’t address the question of Satan’s existence, but I can study how people think about Satan. I have the tools to do that kind of research.

Wind of doctrine

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14, NRSV

I’ve been accused of this very thing by a conservative friend, a self-confessed fundamentalist. Well, I’m certainly not static, as this blog demonstrates (just read my profile). I read my N.T. Wright post and now I’m thinking hmm…..favorite theologian? As I read The Last Word and The Word After That by Brian Mclaren, I’m thinking that I don’t really want to pick and choose favorites, for theologians across the spectrum are helpful, even when I don’t necessarily agree with their conclusions. Some make more sense at the time I read them than others. Yet I shouldn’t simply become a ‘fan’, for we are all full of shortcomings. Intense study does not make one an expert.

Misquoting Jesus

You have got to love libraries. I recently borrowed two books, both of which have proved to be thought-provoking – The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, which I am still working through, and Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman. This book has been the best explanation of textual criticism I have read so far – simplified for a layman like myself. Whilst I enjoy theology, I tend to get bogged down in technicalities and lose interest. Now I have a basic understanding of why so many variants exist in the New Testament (referenced in most Bibles in footnotes). Ehrman does not present a radical liberal viewpoint, rather comes from a conservative evangelical background which was shaken through extensive seminary study. Yet the conclusions now seem to hold some ground on the works of liberals contending that the idea of divine inspiration of the books of the Bible is false. It’s not that scholars such as Ehrman or any number of liberals do not take the Bible seriously enough, for they spend their lifetimes committed to its study; they rather appreciate a more diverse understanding of the nature of God and his communication with creation.

Living life

Previously I wrote an entry describing my desire to follow in the moral footsteps of Christ, though difficult this may be. Now many things have come to a head, particularly my health and well-being. I have largely lived with a pessimistic view, and operated primarily in ambiguities. What this means is that I view my current living and work situation negatively, and spout a variety of ideas that I rarely ever follow through on. I simply operate aimlessly, living in the moment with little thought of the future. I was able to live this way easily when single, but in a relationship I find my decisions constantly affecting another. I can easily blame others for my predicament, yet this will only stunt rather than further my growth. So I must make a few commitments for change – in the spirit of metanoia, or repentance. These I post as a public record for accountability purposes.

– Choose optimism. Be thankful for your work and living situation. There is much to like about both, much that is an improvement on the past, and much that is better than what many others experience.

– Choose to be peaceful. Don’t let others affect your well being, instead accept and forgive. Refuse to hold a grudge. Be friendly to those who are not friendly to you, or have upset you. Pursue this way of peace demonstrated by Christ, Gandhi, King and others.

– Refuse excess. Don’t submit to your whims. Be content with less rather than more.

– Eat well and exercise often. This is a difficult one because eating well and exercise require time, and time is a limited resource (especially when you spend almost 3 hours of a day in travel!) This requires careful planning.

– Plan well and stick to it. Continuing from the last goal, good living requires good planning. I am very good at talking about doing things, and very good at not following through! This requires discipline, and discipline requires planning. As the old adage goes, you either plan to achieve, or plan to fail – there are no other choices. No planning at all is planning to fail.

I am quite a carefree and moody individual, drifting along on the whims of my emotional state, which can quite easily shift into negativity and laziness. Having the drive to act and perform is quite a struggle – but one which is critical for my ongoing survival.