“The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself”

Repost from elsewhere in 2008.

I just read a good piece by Thomas C. Oden (The Rebirth of Orthodoxy) that tells a bit about his journey from modernist neo-orthodox liberalism to postmodern paleo-orthodoxy entitled “Then and Now: The Recovery of Patristic Wisdoms“. He brings up some of the issues he mentioned in his book, noting that we will be forever spiritual children in the shallow end (my words, not his) if we do not rediscover the ancient Christian masters of spirituality and biblical exegesis.

He mentions how many of his friends from “then”, when he was a social activist who listened to the world around him to give him the agenda, ask him why he is not “on the street” engaging in social action. He says that his work of reading and writing is itself social action; by this work, he can change his mind to be more like God’s and the minds of others. In other words, our world will change if our worldview does. He writes:

No current moral issue is more deep-going than the acid destructiveness of modernity. No political project is more urgent for society than the recovery of classic Christian consciousness through the direct address of texts of Scripture and tradition. There is nothing better I can do for the moral dilemmas of our time than offer undiluted the ancient wisdom of the community of celebration.

I recommend this article if you’re curious about paleo-orthodoxy and one man’s journey into it and the hope that it offers us in these postmodern days.

3 thoughts on ““The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself”

  1. In light of your post entitled “The ‘liberal’ convictions of a theological conservative,” I continue to wonder why the need for the labels such as “paleo-orthodoxy.” It seems we need to keep the label-making industry in business.

    • I have spent probably more time wondering about such labels than is really productive, myself. Theologically conservative, I still think of myself as ‘evangelical’, but that doesn’t mean that either all other ‘evangelicals’ or those who don’t think of themselves as such would hold the same definition of that word. ‘Paleo-orthodoxy’ was probably an attempt to start a movement with conservative Protestantism that cut across some of the old divides and tried to unite us on the common ground of all Christians, but few use it. Even if we need labels (which, as you wonder, we may not), what is the use of one that requires explanation?

      I like to tell people I’m ‘actually’ Anglican, in that I believe the 39 Articles and love the BCP, and therefore find many Anglican churches — both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ — un-Anglican and frustrating! So not even my denominational preference is a worthwhile label, it seems.

      It would be easiest simply to be able to say as at Antioch, ‘I am a Christian.’

  2. Thanks for the kind and insightful response.

    I am finding that faithfully struggling to merely be Christian is fruitful.

    The need to articulate (find the right words or be found by the right words) is part of the wonderful struggle to be merely Christian.

    The interplay between authentic experience (Life) and articulation is transformative for me.

    That is the form and content of my journey of salvation.

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