Doctrine or Heresy?
As mentioned in the Inaugural Essay, I believe that one must take special care when it comes to handling the Scriptures. This is especially the case when a radically different core idea being proposed interprets scripture that contradicts traditional interpretations. Thus, if I find a passage that seems critical of the Symbiotic thesis, I have to take it seriously, analyze it more closely, and deal with the seeming discrepancy. I have found that an honest effort yields fresh insights, as well as reconciling the verse to the thesis. The more of these there are, the stronger the thesis becomes, especially if a simple re-interpretation, a different way of looking at the text, is all that is required.
Consider the following text, which comes from Ephesians 3:
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now, this passage appears to be fairly straightforward: the bolded text states that it is Christ that dwells in our hearts by faith. However, the bold text with the grey backgound in verse 16 that precedes it is also a straightforward statement that needs hardly any interpretation if we view it in light of Symbiosis. The only way to evade the implication is to damn it by calling it a proof text, implying that anyone trying to take it literally is a clueless amateur unable to really extract the "nuances" of this verse that only those privileged ones who have a Theology degree are capable of doing. The "proof" of my amateur-hood is the fact that I am interpreting the text as if it actually meant exactly what it says. In support, the Theology degree-holding "geniuses" (of the modernist persuasion) will cite the bolded text in verse 17 and point out that that proves that this entire passage is metaphorical. Jesus Christ is clearly "That Christ" in verse 17. How can it be said that Jesus dwells in us when he came in the flesh (bodily and physically) and later ascended to heaven? Thus, these geniuses tell us that verses 18 and 19 are to be understood metaphorically, not literally, and are "really" an appeal by Paul for us to participate in Christian brotherhood, and that's all there is to that verse, and to verse 16 as well. Shut up and listen to your betters!
In short, when we encounter phrases that imply that we are "in Christ" or that "Christ is in us", it is being recommended that they be interpreted metaphorically, which means that only part of the passages in which they appear actually apply, with the rest being rhetorical "fluff". The accusation I am addressing is that Symbiosis is a "doctrine" actually founded on the "fluff" in verse 16, and thus is mistaken at best, and heretical at worst. To be sure, it may be a really good metaphor, but it is optionally embraced or ignored by individuals depending on whether the metaphor actually contributes to an understanding of the phenomenon for which it is a metaphor. The problem statement now becomes "Who is qualified to determine which parts of the passages really apply, and which are "fluff"?" You can be sure that Theologians will not only say who is qualified, but also say who is not.
I disagree that Symbiosis is founded on rhetorical "fluff", but to refute the charge, it is necessary to step back and show the dangers and pitfalls of what I call the "It's only a metaphor!" counterargument to appreciate what it is that we are losing when it is invalidly applied.
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