Friday, March 04, 2005

Heresy and Mystery

I was reading an article tonight on about The Da Vinci Code (still more to come soon) by Rev. John Sewell, and it raised an interesting point on heresy.

It seems to have become rather trendy of late to make the observation that the word "heresy" is derived from a Greek word meaning "to choose". Quite often this observation is the beginning of a typically post-modern spiel about how one choice is just as good as another, and orthodoxy is only orthodox because those who made those choices came into power. So when Sewell made this observation I let out a sigh.

But I was pleasantly surprised. His point wasn't that one choice is as good as another. His point was that the choice comes from a desire for certainty and this desire for certainty is the real problem. Sewell says, "The heresy is to not be willing to live with the tension of the paradox, but rather to want reality easily understandable."

Mystery is the heart of Christian faith (and probably the heart of other faiths as well). When we grow weary of mystery and press on for precision and certainty, heresy is the only possible outcome.

“It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity.”
-Albert Einstein
Sewell sums up his point nicely, saying, "The fact that the church chose the way of paradox and ambiguity as the most authentic way to live in the mystery of God revealed in Christ is the most telling reason for the enduring power of its life and message."

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