Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Does God Need the Church?" - Reflection #1...

I am currently reading Lohfink's "Does God Need the Church?" in an Ecclesiology course at UST. Here is my first impression based on the first two sections:

The first night of class was very interesting (Dr. Bill Cavanaugh is my professor). All conversation based, which is
good; Cavanaugh does help the discussion move along productively. He seems like a
good guy. Lohfink's book is very interesting and very challenging. I really enjoy the historical critical method from the standpoint of reconciling my faith with pure reason, but it only goes to a certain point. Lohfink goes on diatribes about how bad 'religion' is and how you only need faith. I understand that he's getting at 'not going through the motions' but he takes it a bit far. Also, he overplays the historical critical methodand imposes on the Biblical authors too much sociology; certainly the authors were telling their 'history' in light of the Babylonian Exile as well as trying to understand their identity, but if it's all sociology/archaeology that can explain everything then what is God actually doing that's unique to Israel? I have issues with this. It is as if miracles are all out of the question (regarding the birth of Isaac, Lohfink remarks "the author doesn't care about the miracle of the birth, but..."). Lohfink proposes that God created the world and the world had the 'freedom' to generate itself: plants, animals, man all are 'generated' from the earth because of freedom. Good to underline freedom, but it makes God like a clock-maker, who sits back and watches freedom unfold. Lohfinks bowing to the calf of 'evolution' also does not allow for humanity to be a unique species created in God's image and likeness; to Lohfink, man simply eventually happened out of freedom. I'm not a fan of that; maybe I'm a fundamentalist. As Lohfink speaks about the complexity of how Israel engaged with the Cannanites and Egyptians and how Israel is related to "El" the Canaanite God, one wonders how the 'sociology' approach portrays how anything is different for Israel. Why is Israel special? How do they obtain the Torah (which Lohfink insists gives freedom) without the miracle of obtaining faith? No Exodus, no burning bush, no miracle births, no sacrifice of Isaac story, no Ark? What gives?? I understand that 'scandal' that God has always entrusted his message to man to isseminate to other men, but didn't that have to begin with God revealing himself in a profound and miraculous way? Lohfink seems more interested in reconciling his deas to science and archaology and sociology than to Tradition, which is nderstandable.
To conclude, Lohfink suggests that the Law and the identity of the people help them
to 'gather' the people of God into the Church; I agree, but my question is how do I
reconcile the great importance of identity (liturgy etc.) with how Lohfink explains everything via the empirical? AKA: why is Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, Mass, devotion to Mary and saints important if it's all a product of sociology, and 'religion' is bad? This is where my undies get in a bunch. It is clear that the Church is worse-off when we dumb-down Tradition, and make everything generic, losing our identity and rich culture; also, true ecumenism is hurting due to so much ignorance about our own Catholic faith. Yet, we've only read 2 chapters; he hasn't discussed the New Testament at all... maybe the answer lies there.

1 comment:

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