Thursday Theological Inquiry

I’ve been told that I know shit about theology by one who, being a priest impressively learned in the subject, would know.  Nevertheless, I would like to begin weekly posts offering propositions from that “higher” discipline for reflection and discussion.  With my Wednesday philosophical queries, I’ve asked whether the stated proposition is true.  That’s a question worth asking of theological propositions as well, but I am also interesting in whether the statements make sense to you, speak to a familiar realm of human experience, and fit with your own theological ideas and inclinations, if you have any.

So, to begin, I quote Ilia Delio, O.S.F. from her book The Humility of God.  She’s speaking from a Christian perspective, obviously, but her words may, perhaps, be translatable into a broader religiosity:

If we reduce Christ merely to a personal Savior and confine Christ to an institutional church we can be sure that the meaning of Christ will become increasingly irrelevant in a complex world of cultural and religious diversity. Neither Christianity nor salvation is a private, individual matter. Salvation, Thomas Merton wrote, means rescuing the person from the individual or, we might say, it is bringing the individual into personhood through an experience of love.  To be a human person alive in God is based not on what we are or what we do but who we are in relation to God, self, others and world.

I’ll state up front that I pretty much agree with this.  What say you?

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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10 Responses

  1. Rodak says:

    I would say that “to be a human person alive in God” is to have effected a total merger of *what* we are and *who* we are. So long as there is an objectifiable “who,” seen as in any way separate from an essential “what,” the person remains *in relation to,* rather than *with* or *of* God.
    The ego has access only to itself and its projected dreams, many of them nightmares.

    • Kyle Cupp says:

      I would probably have stressed the “who” over the “what” more subtly, but I don’t read her as dismissing the relevance of what we are or what we do so much as emphasizing that, in the final analysis, being alive with God is not determined by what creed you profess or what visible religious signs you express, but who you are as a unique human person in relation to others. Holiness is not reducible to membership in a religious community.

      • Rodak says:

        “Holiness is not reducible to membership in a religious community”

        Yes, I totally agree with that. In fact, I might be willing to go even further to say that membership in most religious communities is a hindrance to the achievement of holiness. This is certainly the case with all of the mainstream organized religions. These may spin off the occasional saint, but for most members of any given congregation, they merely add a few more layers of paint to the ego-trip that the “worshipper” is on, providing him with a false sense of spiritual security.

  2. Kelly says:

    The quote sounds fairly accurate to me. I highly recommend the book Being As Communion by John D. Zizioulas for a more philosophical treatment of the subject.

  3. GordonHide says:

    From an atheist’s point of view what is being said here is that interpretations of what a religion means need updating from time to time to keep them relevant. Given belief in the supernatural I don’t see anything wrong with that given the desire for religion to continue.

    I guess you might get some argument from those who believe in unchanging truth.