Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Natural Knowledge of God

The CTCR recently released the report on the Natural Knowledge of God called for by the Synod in Convention in 2007.  It took six years of study and writing to assemble what might just as well have accomplished by directing the Synod to read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, cited copiously by the report.

I have no argument with the report’s content or conclusions.  It is well written, if somewhat dense linguistically.  Your average layman will give up long before they get to the application of the sixty-some page report, but for those who make it all the way through, the ‘application’ section is written like a theological paper, as well.  The weakness of the report is that it is not easily accessible to the average reader, laity or clergy.  It should have ended with a short arch-books type of summary for the less cerebral reader.

The report not a fun read, even for one interested in the topic.  It held a treasury of quotes and analysis, and in that sense was a joy to behold.  Of course, there were issues and arguments that were missing, some old favorite chestnuts that one might wish to have seen, but in a report of this brevity, it is perfectly clear why some editorial choices had to made.  After reading the report, however, the first question to come to mind was “Now, what do I do with all of this in terms of witness?”.  Since that was the point of the report, one must wonder why it was entrusted to a body of the nature of the CTCR, and not assigned instead to a group of pastors who have to make what they present palatable and comprehensible to the common man in the pew.

Frankly, four pages ought to have accomplished what the entire report says – not in detail, but in substance.  Those four pages would have answered the original question of the Synod in convention more clearly and to greater profit, I suspect.  The discursus on the theological debates over the natural knowledge of God was informative, but did not really serve the question of how one might apply the natural knowledge of God to witnessing endeavors.  The short excepts (or so they seemed, although unattributed in the footnotes) from other writings seemed most to-the-point, as examples of using the ideas discussed in the report.  One could devoutly wish that there were more of them and less of the dense and stilted prose that made of the body of the document.

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