A Project of Faithful Thinking IX

[Note: This entire series of posts can be read in a single html document here.]


In the present Western sociopolitcal context, and certainly here in the United States where I live, the greatest danger for faithful Christian thinking is that of Gnosticism, the divorcing of mind and thinking from the body and the will. This has many permutations, the lines between each of which are not always distinct. There are those seek to parse the Tradition either to dismantle it or to set in place a burden of law not even the Pharisees had the temerity to establish. There are those who are diligent to know and understand their faith in accord with all the generations of Christians gone before them, but fail also diligently to observe the practices of the Faith observed by these pioneers, whether that be in sexual chastity (an absolute necessity in our sexually saturated culture) or in the self-control of appetite and the stewardship of money, which so easily lead to the godless commodification of the treasures of faith. But there are also those who, having dismantled the faith, rush into behaviors and ideologies promoted by the non-Christian world, but with a zeal that only new converts espouse and lacking the genuine world-weariness of the profligate.

Faithful Christian thinking rejects this mind-body split, and for very good reason: God himself became man. In so doing, the unity of what it means to be human was strengthened and transformed. Mind, soul and body form a unity of thought, action and will, neither one divorced from the other, for in the dissolution of these bonds, all of us become less than truly human. Any project which would elevate one aspect of human nature over another, or any apart from dependence on the Holy Trinity is a project of dehumanization. Any project which would seek immortality apart from life in God, or wisdom and knowledge apart from Christ Jesus, is a project not only doomed to failure but also fated to enslave all those who adhere to its principles.

This is why the only true freedom of thought is faithful thinking, Christian thinking; thinking which arises from the imago dei, that Trinitarian image stamped upon our nature, which, however defaced, is not dissolved. It is this thinking which reinforces and promotes the full humanity of mankind through the personhood which reflects the undying light of the Face of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is this thinking which in love seeks to live in holy obedience to the will of the God which gives life to the thinking person.

In a fatal contradiction, many Christians today seek to cut themselves off from this long-established tradition of thought and life in the Church. They see the strictures of the Holy Tradition, of the imperatives of Scripture, the Word of God written, as stultifying, as a diminishment of the freedom we humans are rightly said to have as birthright. Yet the alternatives are not more life, but more death. Inevitably, such divorcement runs its full course, and mind is split from body, soul from mind, will from act. The old inimical heresy of Gnosticism, the only true alternative to Christian faith, does not die, but lives again, if such that it offers can be called life and is not some demonic parody.

Take away the foundation of the Trinity, and one loses all capacity for right, let alone faithful, thinking. Removing the truth of communal personhood only results in the splitting of what it means to be human. Diminishing the radical Personhood of the Truth, and the Faith becomes little more than doctrinal points to argue. Divorce knowledge from love and one can only enslave one’s hearers and oneself to inhuman systems. Thinking is split and compartmentlized. Holiness of thought becomes incomprehensible because it is nonsystematic.

I have entitled this series of reflections “A Project of Faithful Thinking.” I have done so primarily because it is that, a project, a foundation on which to build, but something which in itself is unfinished. These are touchstones, pointers, which demand greater explication, but which I do not now have the resources to accomplish.

But another reason this has been entitled the way it has is that it is a very personal project, thus the singular and indefinite article. I grew up in a Christian environment which stressed right doctrine, even (however unintended) at the expense of right living. I entered as an adult a Christian environment which stressed (however unintended) institutional loyalty over right belief. In both cases, the resultant thinking left subhuman wreckage. But in the last few years I have finally come home to the Faith which unites head and heart, mind and body, spirit and flesh and provides the groundwork for the sort of thinking that is most human, and does the most to both humanize and divinize those who believe its dogma and live its life. This series is a testimony to what I have gained, and a first deposit of that which I hope to give back.

In all the ways that these reflections align themselves with the Faith and Life of the Church, I give thanks to God. In any way, however small, in which these thoughts depart from the Way revealed by Christ God in his Body, may they be corrected and their errors destroyed and forgotten.

Soli Deo Gloria

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