While I am sure most people have already checked out the Questions for Terryl Givens post, I thought I would put a link to it because of how interesting a post it is for those that may have missed it.
To me the most interesting point was how mormonism is a great resource to look at how canonized scripture evolves. Honestly, I think I have been too myopic to really see mormonism as being one of the few religions that can provide a source for this study. While I’m sure that some other aberrant cultic groups have developed their own scriptures, I think the wide spread use of The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price certainly does put mormonism in a league of its own for study. After all it seems like many religions proudly base themselves on ineffability that is created by never questioning the environment that preceeds the canonization of scripture. While this certainly does foster a world view that seems beyond question, it seems to avoid the fundamental question of why one particular paradigm is chosen over another one with similar internal consistency.
For instance, if some of the more divisive creeds had gone another way, I don’t doubt that fundamentalist’s convictions would be any less strong. Perhaps this is because what matters isn’t so much what is believed, but how ardently one believes it.
Now this flies in the face of the extreme protectionism evangelicals have towards the bible, and the correct interpretations that lie therein. It also appears to contradict the rigidity of interpretation muslim fundamentalists bestow on their scripture. Are these views even possible if one is intimate with the way scripture is created? For instance if Paul talked about how he really wished he could re-write some of his epistles to make things clearer, would fundamentalism even be possible? Would fundamentalism be possible if, as an associate of John you heard him describe his vision in the same way one might describe a monumental event they saw, accurate but always with slightly different takes, insights, and focus.
And though these colorations to scriptural history are almost a certainty, their evolution to dogmatic unequivocancy is rarely studied. Allowing that to happen is shaking the bedrock of a fundamentalist faith. No wonder it is guarded so carefully, couched in references to blasphemy, divine denial and cultish clandestiny. And so one denies that the Bible could ever exist one jot or tittle different. Indeed many try to latch onto the security of fundamental faith by applying the same fastidious housekeeping to Joseph’s translations and revelations. People purify themselves within a paradigm of their choosing. For some it is the Bible, for some the Koran, for others the standard works. While this shows conviction to God, the if one is fully purified from their environment, they will never be able to see out of their creation. Hence the need for perfect pointers and an innerrant resources. And hence a blissful existence in a world that can only be partially revealed. I wonder if the fundamentalist's demands for the immediate self satisfaction of perfection don't require us to always be the culmination of existence. There can be no waiting for more information, this leads to revolution and change. There can be no ambiguity because this means absolute certainty has been superceeded by another design.
Unfortunately, evolution in use of modern revelation seems to indicate that certainty isn’t necessarily a product of revelation. It may be a product of the canonization of thought. The canonization of thought occurs because there is a need to unify. But with so many possibilities to choose from, people have a nasty way of limiting themselves to a single choice. Perhaps revelation really isn’t meant to get everyone on the same page, it is meant to keep us from focusing on a single page that we invariably turn into a limiting agent.