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Eric Reitan on Grasping God Through Cultural Filters

I believe in a transcendent creator whose self-disclosure is difficult for humanity to grasp and understand properly given the cultural filters through which that revelation is received. As such, any historical report of revelation will be a distortion, and the task of historical religion is to attempt to work through the distortion by gradually evolving in the light of critical conversation about experience.Christian progressives are often accused of “cherry-picking” the Bible or the tradition, when in reality what they are doing is approaching their religious inheritance in terms of the perspective described in the quote: They see it not as the very revelation of God, but as the product of divine revelation being filtered through the limitations of merely-human, culturally-situated recipients. Such an understanding calls for critical appropriation — which is not the same as cherry-picking.

Here, in a nutshell, is the idea behind a progressive understanding of divine revelation and human religion: God is imperfectly encountered in experience, filtered through the assumptions and prejudices and conceptual categories that we bring to our experience — our worldview, if you will. But experience also transforms our worldview. When a square peg is forced to go through a round hole, the hole may not be the same afterwards. And the more malleable the hole, the more this is true. A hole made of clay may actually take on the shape of the peg being pushed through it. Likewise, our worldview is transformed by our experience, including our experience of God.


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