Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Romance of Objectivity. . .

One of the great myths of history and the great pursuits of people is objectivity.  We are in love with objectivity.  We list ourselves as independents (as opposed to Republicans or Democrats) and think of our selves as the grand masters of objectivity, a people who have transcended the realm of ordinary in which labels and identities matter.  Nevermind the fact that nearly all independents actually fit quite well with one of the two major parties.

As Christians we have adopted the world's great illusion of an objective mind as the purest form of human thought and reason.  So we place ourselves over Scripture and decide what is truth and what is not, what is grain and what is chaff, what is once for all and what is passing for the moment.  Roman Catholics have labeled the church and its hierarchy as some ominous and impure force and the cafeteria Catholic is much more sophisticated and pure than the one who pays much attention to the church's teaching magisterium.  Lutherans have the same kind of buffet mentality (for ethnic reasons we are less cafeteria Lutherans than smorgasbord ones).  We think of those who take things seriously as less educated, less sophisticated, and less noble as people.  It is good, right, and salutary for us to be skeptical, without a herd mentality.  I suppose it could be said for most denominations.

But the myth of objectivity is truly a myth, even a lie and deception.  While we like the image of the non-conformist, we all conform.  It is only a matter of to what or to whom we conform.  We cannot be what we cannot be.  We are all captive to a certain lens.  Which lens it is -- that is the real question.

Before Scripture we find ourselves either of those who confess the Word of God is true forever or those who find it not true or not eternal.  Before the church, we either believe, confess, and teach as those who are convinced of the truth or as those who remain unconvinced about some or all of that truth.  To what and to whom we conform, that is the real issue.

Youth is perhaps more attuned to the illusion of nonconformity than old age but that is perhaps due to the way we have schooled them to walk to the beat of their own drummer, listen first and only to the voice of their own hearts, and to be true to self above everything else.  Listen to just about every graduation address and you hear the same drivel.  Fortunately, most folks at graduations are not listening (could it be that they have already heard it all before and incorporated the myth into their world view?).

Non-conformity is an illusion, a rarity if it exists at all.  The greater question is always to what or to whom do we conform.  Here is the genius of Christian freedom.  We are set free in Christ not to be non-conformists but so that we may conform, by the Spirit's grace, loving the Lord and our neighbor, seeking to do His will out of joy and not fear of punishment, and doing good works from a cheerful heart and not a sense of undesirable burden.  We are free not to be free but to live in subjection to the only One who is the way, the truth, and the life, the One who alone bestows forgiveness, life, and salvation, and the One who elevates this service to its full and noble character in the baptismal vocation lived out in Christ.

I think it is high time we stopped trying to teach our children the illusion of objectivity and the lie of non-conformity and taught them the one freedom worth having -- that which makes us free to become what we were created and redeemed to be. 

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