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Saturday, July 6, 2002

'Retrograde' theology?

Roger M. wrote:

Back to the idea of an evolutionary theology, UU-ism should take as its orthopraxis the idea of consensual creation of meaning and value over time, rather than on retrospective and retrograde references to Christianity, or humanism, for that matter.

There's no "either-or" here.

Any "consensual creation of meaning and value over time" that excludes history will fail in the long run. Evolution doesn't start from scratch. A consensus of contemporaries who choose to ignore their own historical traditions is not a creative evolution over time but a rejection of time. (As one branch of postmodernists would observe, it privileges "synchronic meaning" over "diachronic meaning.")

To notice that we are reshaping a tradition to meet the needs of our time is, in my view, a more sustainable approach than to try to create a new consensus without regard to the work done by our predecessors. People in the past are part of the human consensus, just as people in other cultures are; their experiences have something to offer; we are in dialogue with them as well as with our contemporaries.

It is deeply antihistorical to think that our work can ignore or dismiss Christianity or humanism. (As a student of literature, I can't begin to imagine reading without engaging these two potent traditions.) Evolutionary theology wants to know where we come from as well as where we are going. We need what the past has to offer, or we will have to invent for ourselves from scratch the entire human heritage in each generation. That's one of the key insights in Through the Rose Window. But arbitrarily excluding "retrograde references" sounds more like repression than evolution.

(Originally posted to UUBooks)

Copyright © 2002 by Philocrites | Posted 6 July 2002 at 5:18 PM

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