Sunday, August 24, 2008

Engagement with Faith

I was reading a book about faith. I think it was by Cardinal Suenens. But whether that is correct or not what I remember is a bit about religious responses. The author made the point that there are three kinds of religious responses and that everyone's response is made up of some mix of those three kinds.

The kinds are:
  • Autogenous — the response of personal responsibility to make up your own mind and inform your own conscience. One might say personal intellectual discernment.
  • Programmatic — the response of obedience to duly constituted authority such as the pastor, the bishop, the scripture, the pope, or whatever authority is recognized in your particular case.
  • Pneumatic — the response to the Spirit as experienced in your own faith life. This is the response to personal inspiration under appropriate discernment and is the kind of response often characterized as charismatic.
I think there are also three characteristic and related resposes required in each case and these are: Humility for the besetting sin of the Autogenous is likely to be intellectual arrogance. Submissive Obedience for the likely sin of the Programmatic is disobedience when he or she ought to obey. Finally, Prayer and Discernment for the danger to the Pneumatic is Spiritual Pride and mistakenly following false spirits.

Over the years I've often reflected on these things. I am personally rather Autogenous, probably 60% at least, and maybe 30% Programmatic, and only 10% Pneumatic. I'm not entirely sure how useful this sort of taxonomy is more generally, but it has been useful to me.

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