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Lees ook Sendbrief MG3 en Sendbrief GM4 oor Funk se stellings

Die Nuwe Hervorming

Piet Muller

(Dr Piet Muller is ’n toekomskundige met ’n belangstelling in hoe geestelike strominge die samelewing verander.)


Dit lyk of die christendom besig is om af te stuur op ’n “Nuwe Hervorming” wat selfs nog meer ingrypend kan wees as die Protestantse Hervorming van die vyftiende en sestiende eeue.

Soos die voortdurende debatte in Beeld en ander koerante ook getuig, is daar wrelwyd ’n ongekende nuwe geestelikheid vaardig, wat klaarblyklik in baie gevalle nie meer binne die ortodokse christendom bevredig word nie.

Daar was waarskynlik in die vyftiende en sestiende eeue laas so ’n wreldwye debat oor die christelike geloof. Kyk ’n mens na die hedendaagse bonte verskeidenheid van geestelike strominge, kan ’n mens nie help om ’n vergelyking te tref tussen die huidige “postmoderne” periode en die polsende tydperk aan die begin van ons jaartelling, waaruit die christendom self gebore is nie.

Uit die soort debatte wat gevoer word, blyk dit dat al meer christene al minder geestelike voeding put uit die ortodokse christendom, soos uitgedruk in die Apostoliese geloofsbelydenis (wat eers in die agste eeu na Jesus voltooi is).

Terwyl die Protestantse Hervorming gedebatteer het oor die almag en voorsiening van God, vra die Nuwe Hervorming vrae oor hoe ’n mens aan God moet dink en oor hom moet praat.

Oor God kan ’n mens uiteraard net in metafore praat. Vir baie lyk die metafoor van ’n verpersoonlikte (manlike) God uitgedien en talle “nuwe christene” vind veel meer aanklank by Obi-Wan Kenobi van Star Wars, wat vir Luke Skywalker ges het “May the Force be with you.”

Daar word ook gevra of ’n deurlugtige wese soos die Skepper regtig verkies dat mense in hul gebede aan hom kruipende lof moet betuig op die styl van imbongi’s wat met hul pryssange voor stamhoofde uit dans en hulle lof sing. Moet gebed nie eerder stilword-en-luister wees nie? Meditasie eerder as praat?

In ’n wreld wat die slag van offerdiere as iets primitiefs beskou, word die simbool van Jesus se soenoffer aan die kruis vir baie ook al meer onaanvaarbaar en onbegryplik. Sulke mense vind toenemend aanklank by vroeg-christelike groepe, soos die Ebioniete (Joodse christene, wat die Jerusalemse kerk begin het en in wie se geledere Jesus se broer, Jakobus die regverdige, ’n groot rol gespeel het).

Nuwe navorsing toon juis dat baie christelike groepe, veral uit die nie-Grieks-Romeinse wreld, nie aan Jesus as ’n god gedink het, of ’n leerstelling oor die maagdelike geboorte, die letterlike opstanding en die wederkoms gehad het nie.

Die Ebioniete het byvoorbeeld geglo dat die christusskap eers tydens sy doop op Jesus gedaal het. Trouens, ’n volgeling van Jesus hoef nie net ’n christen te wees nie, maar kan self ’n christus word. Hierdie opvatting is in die vierde eeu deur die opkomende ortodoksie tot kettery verklaar.

In baie opsigte was die ontdekking in 1945 by Nag Hammadi, in Egipte, van ’n kruik met meer as 50 vroeg-christelike en ander boeke en tekste, ’n keerpunt. Vir die eerste keer in amper 2 000 jaar is die vroe christene self aan die woord, en hoef ons hulle nie te leer ken uit wat die ortodokse groepe se ketterjagters oor hulle te s gehad het nie.

Onder die Nag Hammadi-geskrifte neem die herontdekte Evangelie van Thomas al meer in statuur toe. Dit is na berekening ongeveer die jaar 50 na Jesus geskryf, dws ruim 20 jaar voor die oudste evangelie (Markus) wat in die Nuwe Testament opgeneem is. Hierin word ’n “Koninkryk van God” verkondig wat al in hierdie lewe bereik kan word. ’n Koninkryk “wat in julle en rondom julle” is en wat van ’n gelowige ’n nuwe kyk op die werklikheid vereis.

Waar die Protestantse Hervorming gedebatteer het oor die gesag van die Bybel, vra die Nuwe Hervorming nou vrae oor hoekom die Bybel saamgestel is soos wat dit tans daar uitsien. Om watter redes is sekere geskrifte ingevoeg en ander oor die hoof gesien? Aan die hand van nuwe navorsing begin daar ook groter duidelikheid kom oor die rol wat politiek in die samestelling van die Bybel gespeel het.

Sulke vrae is byna angsvallig deur die Protestantse Hervorming vermy. Trouens, Michael Servetus, die Spaanse hervormer wat hierdie onderwerp aan die orde wou stel, is in Calvyn se tuisstad, Genve, tot die brandstapel veroordeel.

Die nuwe debat vra selfs ook vrae oor hoe die ideale kerk daar moet uitsien en hoe dit bestuur word moet.

Die eerste salvo’s van hierdie Nuwe Hervorming is reeds afgevuur. Bob Funk, voorsitter van die invloedryke Jesus Seminar (’n internasionale groepe skrifkenners, wat ook ’n paar Suid-Afrikaners insluit), het byvoorbeeld 21 stellinge op die internet gepubliseer om “’n komende radikale hervorming” mee in te lei. Dit is selfs meer ingrypend as die 95 stellinge wat Martin Luther teen die kerkdeur gespyker het. Tog sal ’n mens eers na afloop van die debat regtig weet of daar van ’n ingrypende hervorming sprake was of nie.

Die sieninge van die Jesus Seminar het reeds al op ’n paar Suid-Afrikaanse kerkvergaderings beroering veroorsaak. ’n Tyd gelede moes prof Andries van Aarde van die Hervormde Kerk bontstaan oor wat hy bedoel het en nie bedoel het nie met sy nuwe boek oor Jesus, Fatherless in Galilee (’n boek wat terloops net in Amerika verskyn het).

Die kwessies waaroor daar tans gedebatteer word is egter so belangrik dat Suid-Afrika nie op die kantlyn kan sit en wag om te sien wat die afloop daarvan is nie. Daarom is ’n groepie mense reeds besig om te organiseer aan ’n internasionale kongres oor die Nuwe Hervorming, wat in Johannesburg sal plaasvind. Mense wat bereid is om by die organiseer daarvan betrokke te raak, of wat referate wil lewer, kan skakel met pietmul@icon.co.za of met prof Hansie Wolmarans van die RAU by jlpw@lw.rau.ac.za.

Hierdie artikel het oorspronklik in Die Burger verskyn, en word geplaas met vriendelike vergunning van Die Burger.



The Coming Radical Reformation


Twenty-one Theses

Robert W Funk


(www.westarinstitute.org/Fellows/Funk/funk.html)

Theology

  1. The God of the metaphysical age is dead. There is not a personal god out there external to human beings and the material world. We must reckon with a deep crisis in god talk and replace it with talk about whether the universe has meaning and whether human life has purpose.

  2. The doctrine of special creation of the species died with the advent of Darwinism and the new understanding of the age of the earth and magnitude of the physical universe. Special creation goes together with the notion that the earth and human beings are at the center of the galaxy (the galaxy is anthropocentric). The demise of a geocentric universe took the doctrine of special creation with it.

  3. The deliteralization of the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis brought an end to the dogma of original sin as something inherited from the first human being. Death is not punishment for sin, but is entirely natural. And sin is not transmitted from generation to generation by means of male sperm, as suggested by Augustine.

  4. The notion that God interferes with the order of nature from time to time in order to aid or punish is no longer credible, in spite of the fact that most people still believe it. Miracles are an affront to the justice and integrity of God, however understood. Miracles are conceivable only as the inexplicable; otherwise they contradict the regularity of the order of the physical universe.

  5. Prayer is meaningless when understood as requests addressed to an external God for favor or forgiveness and meaningless if God does not interfere with the laws of nature. Prayer as praise is a remnant of the age of kingship in the ancient Near East and is beneath the dignity of deity. Prayer should be understood principally as meditation — as listening rather than talking — and as attention to the needs of neighbor.

    Christology

  6. We should give Jesus a demotion. It is no longer credible to think of Jesus as divine. Jesus’ divinity goes together with the old theistic way of thinking about God.

  7. The plot early Christians invented for a divine redeemer figure is as archaic as the mythology in which it is framed. A Jesus who drops down out of heaven, performs some magical act that frees human beings from the power of sin, rises from the dead, and returns to heaven is simply no longer credible. The notion that he will return at the end of time and sit in cosmic judgment is equally incredible. We must find a new plot for a more credible Jesus.

  8. The virgin birth of Jesus is an insult to modern intelligence and should be abandoned. In addition, it is a pernicious doctrine that denigrates women.

  9. The doctrine of the atonement — the claim that God killed his own son in order to satisfy his thirst for satisfaction — is subrational and subethical. This monstrous doctrine is the stepchild of a primitive sacrificial system in which the gods had to be appeased by offering them some special gift, such as a child or an animal.

  10. The resurrection of Jesus did not involve the resuscitation of a corpse. Jesus did not rise from the dead, except perhaps in some metaphorical sense. The meaning of the resurrection is that a few of his followers — probably no more than two or three — finally came to understand what he was all about. When the significance of his words and deeds dawned on them, they knew of no other terms in which to express their amazement than to claim that they had seen him alive.

  11. The expectation that Jesus will return and sit in cosmic judgment is part and parcel of the mythological worldview that is now defunct. Furthermore, it undergirds human lust for the punishment of enemies and evildoers and the corresponding hope for rewards for the pious and righteous. All apocalyptic elements should be expunged from the Christian agenda.

    God’ s Domain according to Jesus

  12. Jesus advocates and practices a trust ethic. The kingdom of God, for Jesus, is characterized by trust in the order of creation and the essential goodness of neighbor.
  13. Jesus urges his followers to celebrate life as though they had just discovered a cache of coins in a field or been invited to a state banquet.

  14. For Jesus, God’ s domain is a realm without social boundaries. In that realm there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, homosexual nor heterosexual, friend nor enemy.

  15. For Jesus, God’ s domain has no brokers, no mediators between human beings and divinity. The church has insisted on the necessity of mediators in order to protect its brokerage system.

  16. For Jesus, the kingdom does not require cultic rituals to mark the rites of passage from outsider to insider, from sinner to righteous, from child to adult, from client to broker.

  17. In the kingdom, forgiveness is reciprocal: individuals can have it only if they sponsor it.

  18. The kingdom is a journey without end: one arrives only by departing. It is therefore a perpetual odyssey. Exile and exodus are the true conditions of authentic existence.

    The canon

  19. The New Testament is a highly uneven and biased record of orthodox attempts to invent Christianity. The canon of scripture adopted by traditional Christianity should be contracted and expanded simultaneously to reflect respect for the old tradition and openness to the new. Only the works of strong poets — those who startle us, amaze us with a glimpse of what lies beyond the rim of present sight — should be considered for inclusion. The canon should be a collection of scriptures without a fixed text and without either inside or outside limits, like the myth of King Arthur and the knights of the round table or the myth of the American West.

  20. The Bible does not contain fixed, objective standards of behavior that should govern human behavior for all time. This includes the ten commandments as well as the admonitions of Jesus.

    The language of faith

  21. In rearticulating the vision of Jesus, we should take care to express ourselves in the same register as he employed in his parables and aphorisms — paradox, hyperbole, exaggeration, and metaphor. Further, our reconstructions of his vision should be provisional, always subject to modification and correction.


Ten Golden Words (1995)

Gerd Ldemann



[The following essay was originally published as the Epilogue to Gerd Ldemann, Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity (trans. John Bowden, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), pp. 219-220.]

  1. The view of the Bible as the Word of God or as Holy Scripture belongs to a past time. Today it hinders understanding. The Bible is the word of human beings.

  2. The idea of the sinlessness of Jesus belongs to a past age. It hinders understanding of the human being Jesus. Jesus is either fully a human being or not a human being at all.

  3. Jesus proclaims the unknown God and his rule. He understands, measures and lives out the tradition by love, which first allows us to live in a human way, open to the world and indeed reasonably, in the freedom of the children of God, and to remain true to God’ s creation.

  4. As the first Christian, Jesus remains the criterion for what is Christian in the Bible, in history and in the present.

  5. The church is the community of people who have been touched by Jesus, who celebrate his coming and seek the truth.

  6. The heretics of the second century, men and women, are at least as close to Jesus as the orthodox, and must be welcomed back into the church.

  7. In the conflict between the church and truthfulness, truthfulness has the priority.

  8. In theology and the church there is a need to turn from phraseology to reality in order to survive.

  9. Theologians must keep learning to say ‘ I’ , and if need be to contradict the tradition.

  10. A fragment of religion which has been experienced and recognized is worth more than an orthodoxy which is fully known. A tiny ray of the light of Jesus in my life is more important than any orthodoxy.

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