Dear Friends and Members of the United Church of Norman-UCC
I think Cody Franklin, identifies a key issue, in his July 16th response to my faith devotional, “What if Religions were Like Languages?” in the Norman Transcript.
Isn’t it the case, that religion is committed to the truth value of its claims? That religious language, is not for adornment, but rather seeks to express the nature of reality? I think he’s right in this.
The reality being described is this life and world. It’s one thing that almost all religions are trying to describe. It may describe more, another realm, but it is not describing less than the world we live in. This provides some common ground among religions. It gives us a basis for critique of religious ideas.
Now religion is not the only language game seeking to describe this world. The sciences do this too. So, does philosophy. So, do many disciplines. What ends up happening is that these languages begin to impact each other, helping shape each other’s languages.
For instance, after Darwin, if a Christian was to say, “I believe in God, creator of heaven and earth,” it would not likely mean the same thing as a few centuries ago. It does not mean that the earth is 6000 years old, that humans arrived on the scene in the beginning of time. It would be a mix of God and the evolutionary story. The concept, God as creator remains. But the how has changed.
Cody writes, “But we cannot treat them as languages, as if they can be picked up, put down, modified, and picked selectively from for incorporation in some kind of intellectual mosaic.” I think the history of religion, suggests just that. That ideas are picked up, put way, or modified, picked selectively.
And this is done, because as a Christian, we want the best description of the world, one that does not fly in the face of science but also does justice to the original idea, in this case, the idea of God as creator. This is done, not because we are indifferent to truth claims but because we believe our doctrine has better footing to the degree that is in conversation with other languages.
Those languages include science, it also includes other religions. Jewish Christian dialogue, after the Holocaust, caused a major revision of how as Christians think of Jesus and his relation to Judaism. Sikhism seeks to mediate Hinduism and Islam.
No religion, is self-contained. Nor is its doctrine, static and unchanging. Like a language, you can trace their social causes which gave rise to a religion and the social context that affects how religious communities think of their doctrines.
And one of those contexts is pluralism itself. According to Pew Research, 52% of American Christians believe you can find God in other religions. Why? Most likely, they have friends and neighbors, who belong to other religions. They recognize something good in their neighbor, this has impacted their doctrine. This is a common, not a scarce occurrence. I think as a pastor, it’s one to be celebrated.
Rev. Dwight Welch
July 23rd Sunday
Garnett Teakell will lead an adult education discussion at 9:45 a.m on Arminianism
July 30th Sunday
Congregational meeting begins at 9:30 as we talk about the work of the church.
August 6th Conversation Sunday
Joe Ward, chief investigator for Oklahoma County public defender’s office. He will speak on issues of Poverty and Crime. He spent 45 years as a special investigator for the Oklahoma and Texas Indigent Defense System in the Capitol Crimes Division.
We’re discussing chapter 6 of Chris Haye’s new book A Colony in a Nation at Nancy Logan’s home 3200 Summit Bend at 7pm.
Resident and Shelter Needs include soap, cleaning supplies, furniture, diapers. Kitchen Needs are dry sealed foods. Care Packets for the homeless include deodorant, self care products, snack foods
Is being held with Memorial Presbyterian Church 601 24th Ave SW Norman July 24-July 27th from 6-8pm. Snacks, Bible stories, play, crafts and lessons are focused on the importance of food in our life.