What the world of high theology needs, not to mention the world of high philosophy, and the closely related world of high jinks, is a horse doctor dose of pastoral cynicism.
Let me illustrate. If you were to give x-ray spectacles to one thousand thirteen-year-old boys, we should assume that all of them would use this fascinating gift, not to better the lot of mankind, but to look through women’s dresses.
Now the only difference between x-ray glasses and high-flown philosophy, theology, or whatsitology . . . actually, there really isn’t any difference. And this is the lesson for today.
The gospel of sheer grace enables us keep it simple—love God and hate sin. Everything other than sheer grace enables us to run away from keeping it simple, and to run away fast.
A few days ago I took a shot at what one reader thought was social Trinitarianism. Actually, I was taking a shot at so-called social Trinitarianism, the kind that was squishy on the subject of sodomy. I am a Trinitarian, and I believe that we will become increasingly like the God we worship. That means the Trinity is socially relevant, at every level of our lives. So I suppose that makes me a social Trinitarian.
But I was referring to the stratospheric thinker Trinitarians who, at the end of the day, don’t think that buggery is all that bad. I was talking about the kind of high falutin’ Trinitarians in the Anglican communion who get underfoot whenever some fundamentalist reads Romans 1 out loud, and asks something like, “What about that?” Within thirty seconds, a strange green perichoretic fog sets in.
Now I believe in perichoresis also (the name for each person of the Trinity indwelling each of the others). I do so robustly, and with loud whoops. But there are guys who are way too smart, and who want to look through women’s dresses, and if they are stuck with Christianity, they want to figure out a way to do it perichoretically — much more sophisticated than x-ray glasses.
But look. The basic differnce between the Christian faith and paganism is that the Christian faith is dualistic, and paganism is monistic. We believe in the Creator/creature distinction, the dualism between that which is God and that which is not God. Paganism holds that all is one, and wisdom consists of learning how to morph everything into everything else. All the boundaries blur, and everything in the world is as up for grabs as each feature of Michael Jackson’s face. If the atheistic materialist is correct, then in principle anything can be transformed into anything else. That is the story that evolution tells. If the pagan pantheist is right, then everything is all part of the one, and anything can in principle become anything else. Paganism is the religion of protean shape-shifting. Ovid’s Metamorphoses was no accident. And if this is the basic faith of the people, then the division between the sexes is arbitrary. The promiscuous heterosexual wants to blur the clear boundary between my wife and the wives of others. The confused transgenderite wants to cross and blur the boundary between between male and female at will. The homosexual wants to defy the natural use of the woman, and the lesbian wants to reject the natural use of the man.
Natural use? Sure. In Genesis, God spoke and not God sprang into existence. God looked on that which was not God, and blessed it, and said that it was good. Got that? God created the basic distinction, the distinction of all distinctions, and He said it was a good thing. And then He kept on doing the same thing, over and over — the sun is not the moon, good, the land is not the sea, good, the day is not the night, good. God loves boundaries and fences. God loves this and that, this and not this. Now because Yahweh Elohim is one and three, and three and one, and He dwells harmoniously in what we know as the triune Godhead, there is such a thing as perichoresis — this enables men and women to live together as friends and lovers, and so it really is a blessed thing.
But there are some folks out there who are going to use perichoresis, depend upon it, to tear down the boundary between male and female. If they were out and out pagans, they wouldn’t have to do that — they could just let matter morph like they think matter does. But they are stuck in the Christian tradition, for the time being anyway, and so they are also stuck with the God who created, rejoices over, and sings about all these distinctions, and who commanded us not to commit the abomination of messing with any of these ancient landmarks. Men are to live their lives in this category, and women are to live in that one. They can have regular meetings in the marriage bed and have a party, but keeping it a party kind of depends on everybody remembering who is who and what goes where. Vive la difference.