Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Christian epistuh--WHAT? part three

I know epistemology ain't a regular, every-day word, but it says exactly what I need to say about Christianity in this train of thought. More on that a little later.

epistemology = a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.

Consider also the following scripture reference, and I hope this all comes together for you like it came together for me sitting in that classroom nearly a decade ago:

1Jo 2:16
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. NASB

Everything wrong in the hearts and minds of men is a result of the fall. Let's be more specific:
  • What we desire related to our bodies -- lust of the flesh
  • What we view (symbolism in images) -- lust of the eyes
  • What we do with our intellect -- the boastful pride of life

We are triune beings, a composite of body, heart, and mind. Semantic baggage we will have to sort through in some other post is the piece of us some call heart, some call soul, some call psyche, and some call spirit. I am using the term heart purposely to enable the inclusion of the word imagination separated from the intellect.

Humans are corrupted in all three parts of our being.

Our bodies and every decision we make motivated by providing the body security, comfort and pleasure is affected by the lust of the flesh. Our imagination that allows us to conceptualize abstractly and see meanings behind the material world is corrupted by the lust of the eyes. (The Cadillac coat-of arms carries a complex set of connotations wholly different from the Volkswagen V over W inside a circle, while both are just an identifying mark on a vehicle. We understand the connotations and connect with them emotionally by a look at the symbol. ) All that we are able to build materially, not just skyscrapers and bridges, but our institutions and social order are corrupted by and are themselves a source of the pride of life.

Sociologists cannot agree on whether or not Conflict Theory (control of resources), Symbolic-interactionism (power of symbols) or Structural-functionalism (social order as a function of institutions) is the unifying theme for society because all three exist together. I submit each of these organizing matrices can be identified in society because each is a function of one of the three parts of humans. Conflict Theory deals with issues of resources and wealth because we have physical bodies; Symbolic-interactionism deals with issues springing from our heart and its imaginations; and Structural-functionalism deals with our mental acuity and various applications of the same. We are three-part beings, and we have established a world system that reflects ourselves.

Connecting scripture, real life, and sociology:

lust of the flesh > drives strife over resources > economics develop to manage conflict > Conflict theory develops as explanation of what is observed

lust of the eyes > drives perception of man's cosmic significance > religion develops to assuage the need to know/understand significance > Symbolic-interactionism develops as an explanation of what is observed

pride of life > drives man's ego to achieve his own significance > societal institutions such as republicanism as an idea for self-government develops in ever widening power and influence to order society and build/sustain human experience; Structural-functionalism develops to explain what is observed

All of what we have done is corrupted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. All that is in the world, is from the world.

Part four will examine the consequence of what I suggest here on the historical diversification of Christianity into sects, our modern day debates about how we interpret Scripture, and thus how we think about God, the Father. Ultimately as mere humans what we believe about the origin, nature, and methods of Christianity is limited by our worldly, corrupted human knowledge of Christianity.

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