The lens of Eclecticism

The Enlightenment thinkers rejected the great theological systems of the Church that provided the answers for who we are as humans, why we are here, and how the spiritual and physical realms relate. Also, they rejected secular philosophical rational systems that tried to accomplish the same. For these philosophers, reason’s domain was limited to the empirical world of scientific experimentation, and perhaps in a general way to ethics. There is no way that the human mind can construct a system of thought that can explain how heaven and earth, the spiritual and the physical, the supernatural and the natural, can be applicable for all of humanity. Such a system would necessarily be subjective, and could not be recognized as universal, objective truth. In this way the Enlightenment was a revolt against reason.

When you place this conviction next to the obvious fact that we are spiritual creatures that hunger for meaning, the outcome is eclecticism. By this is meant that we humans view the array of religions and philosophies like a vast smorgasbord. We pick and choose a little of this and a little of that according to our own bent of mind and preferences. It simply doesn’t matter that the bits and pieces do not make sense together because the Enlightenment taught us that the application of reason to spiritual matters is fruitless. For instance, one might love reading the Bible for spiritual stimulation and be a Buddhist. The two world views are utterly in conflict, yet it simply doesn’t matter. Or, one can claim to be a Christian on one hand, and passionately embrace secular social agendas that squarely contradict the ethical structure of Christianity on the other. What is truly sacred is our right to pick and choose regardless of our inconsistencies. It is even fashionable to celebrate our dark complexities as profound self-authentication. The result is that we are no longer “integrated” or whole” beings, but are fractured and compartmentalized along the lines of our contradictory choices.

Our participation in eclecticism can be very subtitle. We may be devout Christians but live out our lives on a practical level with the conviction given to us by our culture that things really do not fit together, that reality in its totality doesn’t make sense. Our Christianity has little or nothing to do with the material world (it is going to be destroyed anyways), how we spend our money (tithing was for the OT believers under law; we are now free by grace to give less), what entertainment we take in (we take in sex and violence throughout the week and sing praise songs on Sunday), how we care for the poor (the word “alms” is archaic — we leave to the government what historically was done by the Church), and how we relate to other groups of Christians (the idea of dialogue and learning from others is absurd, for we clearly got it right). The fact is that most of us do not live by a cosmology, or a world-view, that is integrated, that brings together the whole of reality. We live in terrible contradictions, and are too fearful, lazy, or willful to do anything about it. Are we really all that much different than the eclectic culture around us?

The Church has long held that creation, space and time, the spiritual world, and God Himself who exists above it all are intimately connected. God has placed in the hearts of all humanity His law to which we intuitively know and are obligated to obey through our conscience. This “natural law” is the earthly expression of God’s Eternal Law, and is what holds the spiritual and physical realms together. Moreover, since the incarnation of Jesus Christ in space and time, these two realms that were ripped apart at the fall of humanity are now brought together. Life for us should no longer be picking and choosing this and that, but about one grand aspiration to become integrated and whole beings in union with God and in harmony with nature.

Any more thoughts on this?

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