Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Supernatural Rationalists?

Some ten or so years ago I learned of a Church of Christ thought leader who said that "we" were unique among conservative religious groups in that "we" have a both a high view of scripture and a high view of reason.  It struck me as expressing a lot of truth.  Most of the rest of the religious world holds that the two are mutually exclusive.  I think our spiritual primogenitor, Alexander Campbell, could be characterized both as a rationalist and inerrantist.  From a hundred years ago comes an illustration pertinent to my personal history.  My Dad related to me many years ago that his Grandaddy as a young man was taught by his older brothers, who were Baptist ministers, that he needed to have a conversion experience in order become a Christian.  However, as he related to my Dad, he could not seem to get it the Spirit or the feeling they said he should have.  Eventually Grandaddy found the Church of Christ where an emotional experience was NOT required for getting right with God and where emotions, feeling, and the miraculous in the modern world are downplayed.  He was told to just follow clear and easy steps culminating in baptism and that would do it.  Grandaddy was a fan of a minister named Bynum Black.  I have a 1960's  facsimile of a periodical, the Eye-Opener, published by this minister back in 1900.  I grew up in the county where this originated.

It is common even today for people to communicate that they have had a call to the ministry.  Usually it is not conveyed as a direct communication from the spirit world or from God but sometimes, I'm not sure.  My Dad in my younger years would preach a skepticism that people received a supernatural communication to preach.  It was part of the family heritage evidently.  Below is a cartoon from the issue making fun of this.

The cartoon mocks a man who is out plowing his field who interprets sounds made by his donkey to be a message from God and his call to preach. 

This and other examples I may describe sometime later illustrate how our group downplays feelings and the supernatural in comparison to other religious groups.  Accounts of the miraculous that occurred after New Testament times were/are always met with skepticism.

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