Home > Uncategorized > A Secular Age: The Calvin Seminar: The Impersonal Order: on the Excarnate God

A Secular Age: The Calvin Seminar: The Impersonal Order: on the Excarnate God

Strands of Deism

• 1. Disenchantment — the mother of “causal laws”: Disenchantment leads to perceiving the world as mechanization. Aristotelian teleology is replaced by the causal explanations of science. Spirits and demons are no longer extracted from matter.

• 2. The disappearance of legend and the homogenizing of “profane time”: History excludes the stories of heroes and legends. Time is homogenized into profanity.

o Hence moral therapeutic deism (a term borrowed from Christian Smith)

o Hence the loss of the liturgy and sacred time (and watching Charles Stanley on television instead).

o Biblical criticism: if heroes and legends are excluded from history, how shall we read Scripture? This strand subjects Scripture to Cartesian (and Lockean) epistemology…


What Made the Deistic Grid so Powerful?

…”Latitudinarian clergy deployed a public version of Isaac Newton to promote a separation of creation from its Creator in order the better to ensure that rationality ruled both the natural and the social universes.”

 This contrasts with communion and agape, which are not based on by the “rules” or “codes” that categorical societies are bound by.

• Autonomous reason and dignity vs. subjection and mercy: Even the “boundary” ethics of modern societies was birthed out of autonomous reason. The law constraints of the categorical societies are based on what humans want, not on demands imposed from without. Thus, humans are not constrained by authority. Law is self-imposed — it’s impersonal. By contrast, Christians see their highest mode of being arising out of relation that is not equal. There is a hierarchical authority retained. We need grace, and grace trumps the “supremecy of a high code” (p. 283)…


Excarnation and “Embodiment within the Bounds of Reason”

• Deism excarnates the Scripture narrative. That is, the tensions described above are explained in terms of reason (disembodied minds, in contrast to incarnation).

o Two consequences:

 1. Factor out embodied feeling (Kant)

 2. Base morality on emotions (Hume)

via A Secular Age: The Calvin Seminar: The Impersonal Order: on the Excarnate God.

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