I was talking with a friend today about “doing church” and it’s nature/mission/meaning, etc… and as we talked about doing this thru Jesus instead of Paul I was able to bring some thoughts together about a related subject. I don’t think we can talk about ecclesiology without talking about epistemology. The American Heritage Dictionary defines epistemology as “The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.”
You see, thinking “post-modern-like” precludes a deep abiding suspicion of anything like emperical/cognitive certainty. I mean that I can create certain constructs for understanding things and decoding what I see, read, touch, taste and reason… but at the end of the day all I have are some shnazy constructs. Philosophically speaking, I can perfect my reasoning abilities, but still not attain to a full-proof reasoning that is more accurate than my own emperical limitations, experiences, personal bias and desired end game. Chaos Theory stings a little at first, but then you just start feeling numb.
When was the last time you read your Naria, and I don’t mean blah, blah and the Wardrobe. I mean The Last Battle when Aslan blows up everyone’s constructs. So at the end of time for the world of Narian Aslan welcomes the devotee of another god accounting his righteousness and faith as service to the true God. The eagles fly in the new Narnian sky and exclaim that they’ve been blind up to that point… only now do they truly see, see colors, see light, see beauty.
Lewis’ point is not to assert the classical universalism. In fact Aslan points out that he and the other god are not the same God, not the same but opposites. And the new constructs do not invalidate the previous ones, but complete them. Lewis is painting a narrative of deep humility, when we just might find ourselves called “further up and further in,” only to find out that we didn’t know this part of the journey was coming. This type of raw humility could only be a descendant of nothing less than unabridged faith… faith that God is larger than my biggest construct and greater than my worst fault and more gracious than my best effort. I would like to think that I am anticipating the shock and surprise I will feel at the coming journey, not the dismay of those who disagreed with me.
So, let’s go on to talk about church… faithfully constructing away at the job, but realizing that at the end of the day, God owns the right to turn west when we go east, jump north when we fall south, and laughingly/lovingly take our hands and call us to an even newer place, new beyond our hippest hip… further up and further in.