Monday, July 16, 2007

Are Christians As Inflexible As They Say We Are?

It is my contention that Christianity, when it is full-blooded, is simultaneously reflexive, reasonable and faithful. The tools of reason and analysis are actually built into and intended to be used by the faith system of Christianity. If God has given us intellectual tools such as reason, and if all truth is God’s truth, the Christian has nothing to fear by examining all things in pursuit of their faith.

In a recent column, Dinesh D'Souza cites Stanley Fish (whose NT Times blog requires subscription) and some recent comments of his critiquing the recent spate of atheist anti-Christian literature. A significant part of what they both have to say question the unflinching dogmatism of these popular authors as compared to the constant reflection of Christianity. Fish, while discussing their analysis of Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress, notes that their indictments of inscrutability and intransigence upon Christianity fail. The text itself, and Christianity in general, contain the kind of reflection and even skepticism they say it doesn’t. D’Souza notes:

Fish comments, "What this shows is that the objections Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens make to religious thinking are themselves part of religious thinking. Rather than being swept under the rug of a seamless discourse, they are the very motor of that discourse."

And,

Fish observes that while religious people over the centuries have dug deeply into the questions of life, along come our shallow atheists who present arguments as if they first thought of them, arguments that Christians have long examined with a seriousness and care that is missing in contemporary atheist discourse.

What seems to be lost on most critics of Christianity is that it contains a long and powerful tradition of theological and philosophical development. The dogma of Christianity necessarily includes the tools of self-analysis and reflection – if we are noetically broken creatures, our faith requires constant attention. The reigning dogma of popular atheism is apparently marked by self-satisfaction, inflexibility and myopia. I would not be surprised if it were true that no other tradition in human history has offered more to the advancement of the human mind than the Body of Christ.

4 comments:

The Gyrovague said...

Good post. I am never afraid to let Christianity come under fire, or question what I believe because I know that in the end it is the truth. An Athiest would say that is arguing with the end knowledge in mind and thus is circular, but we serve a great God.

We will forever be doging the barbs and arrows of the devil. He is desperate because his time is short, but we win. What a restful feeling it is to know that.

jamonation said...

"If God has given us intellectual tools such as reason, and if all truth is God’s truth, the Christian has nothing to fear by examining all things in pursuit of their faith."

I've posted my thoughts on these two statements.

I don't understand how the official Assemblies of God policy "that all matters of faith and conduct must be evaluated on the basis of Holy Scripture, which is our infallible guide (2 Timothy 3:16,17)" fits with examining one's faith. Leads to a foregone conclusion doesn't it?

Brian B said...

Jamonation - I couldn't seem to post my reply to your blog post in the comments section; perhaps I can email it to you, and you can post it for me?

Anyway, as should be fairly obvious, coming to understand what Scripture says about God, ourselves, the moral requirements on our lives, etc. requires the use of, among other things, the intellectual tools of reason and critical examination, etc. Answering the question "What does Scripture infallibly teach about X?" will clearly require the intellectual resources in question, don't you think?

jamonation said...

Comments section. I don't see anything in the logs about any failed comments, try that link.

http://jamonation.com/contact if commenting doesn't work for some reason.