Truth Project Reflections

I have seen a few more installments of the Truth Project without comment, choosing instead some political reflections. Tonight, I should finish reading Shane Claiborne’s and Chris Haw’s very impressive Jesus for President, so I’ll rejoin that topic soon, but I did want to get back to a few thoughts on the Truth Project.

The last two installments of the Truth Project dealt with the two age-old questions of “Who is Man?” and “Who is God?” Interestingly, as least to me, he began with “Who is man?” before addressing “Who is God?” While not wanting to downplay the help these videos may be for many, I continue to be troubled by the underlying premise of much of the teaching. I’ve spoken previously about the underlying foundationalism from which the teacher comes. It continues to be a problem for me. For Del Tackett, the instructor, the world is laid out in black and white terms: good and evil. If something is not good, it is evil. This is why, in his “Who is God?” lesson, he states he began with man rather than God – man is evil and we have to understand that before looking at the nature of God.

I was more troubled with his teaching on man than his teaching on God stemming mostly from his Calvinist leanings which run counter to my tradition (suprisingly, and a little alarmingly, however, few of our members seem to notice any fundamental difference in perspective). I don’t doubt that there is something to be learned in Calvinism, however, I cannot support the total depravity which was, in essence, the teaching in this video. Man, so stated the video, is inherently evil. This was the fundamental lesson of this session, and I cannot uphold such a view. I believe the Bible teaches that man is inherently good! Created in the image of God. Now, Tackett does acknowlege this in kind of a side comment at the end of the video as if to acknowledge the shortcoming of his own theology of anthropology.

What I found especially ironic about this session was the underlying premise was that man is inherently evil and therefore, nothing of the world is to be trusted. And yet, he paints himself into a corner at the end, because he accuses humanity of all the ills and leaves no hope – we messed up and we have to wait it out until Jesus comes back and fixes it all. What of the already of the kingdom!? He never addresses it. How then shall we live? (We’ll get there, we’ll get there, I’m sure he would say, but you cannot separate the praxis from theory, and here the theor is flawed).

He picks on Maslow and his teaching of the hierarchy of needs. Quoting miscellanious fragments from Maslow, Tackett once again sets up the strawman to show that Maslow is misled and all his teaching is hogwash. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but he often jests and makes fun of the theory (really he only disagreed with Maslow’s aim in the hierarchy of needs – that man’s chief aim is self-actualization – something that he’ll hang onto and through synedoche make represent all the teaching of world) but due to his extreme dualism, he throws the whole thing out and says – “What do you expect? He’s of the world!” If only discernment was that easy! Instead, it seems to me that Paul would have an Athenian moment here. Your pyramid of hiearchy is good . . . though misguided. God is a God who has already actualized you. You are good by nature! Created in the image of God! To acknowlege total depravity, to me, allows evil to triumph good. No, there is nothing that can trump the good in us, that is what gives us hope now! Living out our faith right now, allowing the image that is within us to trump the cries and desire of the flesh – is that not the point of Romans 8!

The fact of the matter, there is much good (even biblical?) in Maslow’s theory. Why must we throw all out, accusing all non-believers of having false motives because they are caught up in some scandal trying to work against us? While this series is dressed up with cool graphics and masquarades as intellectualism, it still remains highly critical and skeptical of all higher learning! After all, the “liberal” academy is after us! I believe that if we uphold the things presented in this video, we will essentially cut ourselves off from communication with higher learning. I’m especially curious to see the next two videos (both on science). At this point, I can’t seem him being too enthusiastic about the direction of the sciences.

There is much more I could say on this video, I’ve said too much already, but I want to also comment on the next video on the nature of God. I found his approach to the question, “Who is God?” very disappointing if not just totally random. He asks the quetion and then never answers it. I mean, after all, how could you answer it? But, I would say he never even really addresses it. He has this long pastoral discourse on God being a jealous God which was sentimental and fine, but I found it random and wasn’t sure how that fit into his main discussion of who is God. He never mentioned the communal aspect of the trinity as portrayed in Scripture. This is fundamental to the nature of God and as far as I’m concerned if you are only going to give one shot (one hour) at the nature of God and never address that aspect, I’m just puzzled. It continues a very worrisome theme that has been there throughout – a theology that is almost entirely individualistic.

His discussion of sin was largely individualistic (our choices). His discussion of God was entirely individualistic (our own personal relationship). The remaining “pillars” that he sets out to address in the end of this series (economy, work, politics) are going to be malnourished because of this complete ignoring of the communal aspect of the essense of God: in theological jargon, a “functional trinitarian theology.” This is where theology has moved in recent years, and to ignore it comletely shows the reliance of antiquated, foundational modernistic philosophy underlying this entire video series.

With all that said, it’s probably going to connect to the modern thinkers in churches (50 – plus), but really miss those of us under that age. It raises some big time questions about the direction churches that work from that philosophy are headed.

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