Before we really get going here, the title is modified version of a Firesign Theater sketch -- a skit which is really about how much we Westerners and Americans think of ourselves. It's sort of a satirical Ozymandias, so it is apropos that we use it here to talk a little about the word "humble" and what it should mean to us.
Here's why I chose this topic: there's a blog out there which isn't actually "new", but it's new to me -- and it's being authored/supplied by a handful of young guys who, all in all, are guys I like insofar as I know their work. The site is New Attitude.org, and apparently they had a conference this year.
They are now blogging about something which is an interesting topic -- something they are calling "Humble Orthodoxy", and all things being equal, I say good on them. Their link there gives a broad definition of what they're trying to say, and this month they are blogging to work out or anecdotally-demonstrate what they're talking about.
And it turns out that this is the root question: in what way should "orthodoxy" be "humble"? I mean, I'm not sure anyone is going to go on-record to say, "Wow -- shouldn't orthodoxy be arrogant and a little sassy and bossy and aggressive? Doesn't orthodoxy have a right to be like Fred Phelps or somebody like that because it's God's sovereign Truth™ and it's not wrong?"
You know: not even us Pyros think of orthodoxy like that -- in spite of what our critics will say about us even after this little bit of yammering from me. Certainly, God's truth -- which is what the Greek-derved word "orthodoxy" means in this case, the doctrines which reflect God's truth -- has authority.
And that is the first place where the matter of being "humble" comes in: as someone said over at the NA blog, it's a phony humility which is not orthodox. It's inherently not humble to be doubtful of God's word or of God. That's actually sinful and arrogant in an ontological way.
So we can agree that the first place where "humble" and "orthodox" come into contact is before God: we ought to be humble before God -- which is not, btw, an academic humility, but the kind of humility which actually bends the knee and (as they say in the OT) gets face-down before God, recognizing that I'm a contingent nothing without my Creator, Sustainer and Savior.
For the verse-number guys who think you can't spill out God's truth without the verse numbers, check out 1 Pet 5:6, Luke 14:11, Zeph 2:3, and Dan 5:21-23.
But then there's one verse which has to catch your eye as you bumble through BibleGateway.com:
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."(ESV)(again, for the verse people, 1 Pet 5:5) And while we might expend 1000 words on the nuances there, one thing's for sure: Peter is talking about relational humility of people to people, so in some way "orthodoxy" causes "humility" one to another among Christian people.
But what does that mean? Not to be thick-headed here, but does it mean (as one writer at NA put it this week) that we have the truth but we act as if we don't know it?
Here's my 2¢ on that to keep my Wednesday post brief this week: I think that "humility" in "orthodoxy" has to be first a conforming of me to God's word. Not to open up old controversies here, but Francis Chan had a great sermon on the Holy Spirit a couple of weeks ago in which he said that unless we have the Holy Spirit in us, we're not going to repent and turn toward God. That's the primary work of the Holy Spirit -- and in turning toward God, we start doing the things God wants us to do, the way God wants them done. That's the first "humble" thing: God's word, God's work, God's way.
But then there's a consequence there which, I think, get missed in the, um, (I almost said "rush to be humble", but I'm not sure that "rushing" is compatible with "humility") urgency to be humble now that we know what that is: "God's way" is to declare truth, and deliver truth, and to live truth -- which necessarily means "in spite of error". Again for the verse guys, I'd go back to 1 Timothy and Titus to see what Paul thinks about having behavior which is according to healthy doctrine.
Cap in hand, I get the appeal of wanting to be like David Carradine in the 70's TV series Kung Fu. I get the appeal of a pseudo-monastic lifestyle because it seems a little mysterious to people who don't really know what you're up to. But even Kwai Chang Caine had to stand up for what's right every now and again -- about once every 20 minutes (including commercial breaks) if memory serves me right.
So in the end, if that's actually humility -- taking action in truth after being transformed by the truth in the first place to right action -- should we care that some people will interpret our (metaphorically speaking) moral and spiritual Shao Lin disciplines as being unhumble and ungracious?
If so, when should we care?
That's what the meta is for, and I leave that to you today.