Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Is Scripture Not A Universal?

Scripture is a human book written within a certain context that evangelicals or conservatives claim is universal. Universiality is a claim to ominiscicnce. And since no human can have omniscience, as we are bound within many contexts of cultures, we are misguided to think that Scripture is the "ideal". This is where tradition enters.

Tradition is the attempt at "producing" or refining the text. The text has been debated as to his historicity or its mythology. Whether the writers of the text were writing in universal "myths" of their day (Greek) or whether they were using the contexts of their culture's myths (Hebrew), they were attempting to attain to the heavenly. Man has alwasys attempted to describe reality through many ways, philosophy, theology, psychology, mythology, literature, art, etc., as man is a creative being. So, tradition was man's attempt at creative interpretation of the transcendent.

Tradition was accepted in cutural norms, values, and mores that held society's "truths" and maintained society's "peace". As the individual, historical science, and the natural sciences gained influence in society through human reason, tradition and tradition's "culture" was challenged. Reality was no longer understood in tribal and communal ways, but individualized ways. The individual became capable of being educated beyond the "confines of culture" and became a "free moral agent". The birth of self-consciousness was "born" within the West and moral choice became of importance and value. Children could grow away from family values and tradition, because they became "self-actualized".

While "self" or the individual became important in the West, and industrialization undermined the "family farm", virtue was defined in different ways than "traditional understandings". Virtue became those who were able to attain through independence, choice and determine their own course in life. Determination was not from the outside, but the inside.

A clash of civilizations was born in the West and the East. The West understood values to be based on the "rule of law", and the social contract, whereas, the East are still influenced by their traditions. Self development is not an option in these cultures, as "self" does not exist apart from tradition. Reason is the enemy in traditional cultures, as it challenges the understandings and values of traditon's absolutes. Critical thinking is not a value to the conservative or evangelical because of their value of text or tradition. Reason is feared to undermine "god". God cannot be undermined from reason's inquiry, as reason is a god-given gift.

People who have not developed their reason, through fear of leaving tradition, are not developed to own their own person and choice and determine their own values. People who are passively accepting of tradition's values are prone to be useful for others to "use". These people are the modern day "dogs", so it is important for conservative and evangelicals to understand their faith in more reasoned and reasonable ways. Otherwise, we will have no impact on society at large. We will continue to be a small sectarian community that fears the world and waits for "god" to correct things. Those who do this are not leaders and they are doomed to wait for heaven to bring about justice.

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