J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.
J.W. Wartick has written 732 posts for J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

Sunday Quote!- Is Adam Necessary for Christianity?

ec-lamoureuxEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Is Adam Necessary for Christianity?

Not long ago, I wrote a post about the historical Adam in which I asked whether it was a “Gospel” issue. Unsurprisingly, there were many different voices raised talking about it, and I quite enjoyed the discussion. I also shared a different Sunday Quote! on how the doctrine of Adam is interwoven with others. I often read books that I know will challenge what I believe, because I think it is important to test your beliefs constantly in order to strengthen them and correct what is wrong. I read through Denis Lamoureux’s book, Evolutionary Creation and found it quite challenging and insightful on many points.

His central thesis is particularly striking:

Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity. (367)

This thesis is very strongly worded, and I think there are a few problems with it. Key, of course, is the question of what is meant by “foundational” beliefs. Lamoureux does dive into that earlier in the book, but I think in some ways he doesn’t hit all the points he needs to. For example, the notion of original sin is one which is “foundational” in some theological traditions. Thus, for them, Adam’s non-existence would be extremely problematic. Lamoureux, however, does try to offer ways to even accommodate these traditions in the book. However, he ultimately has to settle for a “reformulation” of the doctrine in which:

[T]he entrance of sin was not a punctiliar event committed by two individuals. Instead, original sin was manifested mysteriously and gradually over countless many generations… (292).

I think this “reformulation” is unsatisfying. Moreover, as I have argued briefly elsewhere, federal headship seems to be a possible way around this for the evolutionary creation (read: theistic evolution) advocate. So, ultimately, I’m not convinced that Lamoureux’s central thesis can be carried. In fact, I think it is unnecessary for advocates of his position to even put forward.

What are your thoughts? How might we engage Lamoureux in a winsome way? What theological challenges might be offered to his position?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote- If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Is the historical Adam a “Gospel” issue? – I discuss what impact it has on Christianity if Adam is not a historical person.

Source

Denis O. Lamoureux, Evolutionary Creation (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008).

SDG.

 

Really Recommended Posts 2/27/15- Egalitarian Black Women, Diatoms, and more!

snowl-owl-post-arpingstoneOne day, my child will let me sleep again. It is not this day. 5 months of almost no sleep starts to make you a bit crazy! What year is it? Why do I walk on the ground and not the ceiling? Why did I put a picture of a Snowy Owl on this post? Anyway, I got myself coherent for long enough to assemble this great group of posts for your reading pleasure, dear readers! Read enough about 50 Shades? So did I, until I ran into the post I share below. It sets quotes from the book alongside definitions of abuse and stalking to some dramatic effect. We also have a great look at some egalitarian black women, young earth creationism, apologetics, and women in fiction. Check them out, and let me know what you thought! Be sure to also let the authors know!

5 Black Women Every Egalitarian Should Know- This is just a fantastic post that outlines the lives and impact of 5 black women who are major voices for egalitarianism (and other issues).

Issues of Abuse and Consent in 50 Shades of Grey- Here’s an excellent post that has specific quotes from 50 Shades alongside the definitions of abuse and stalking and the like. It’s quite disturbing to realize what’s in the book, and I wouldn’t have personally thought to write a post like this myself. This is a good resource to have on hand. There is some ADULT CONTENT in this link, which the author does a good job of warning beforehand.

Life in a Glass House: Diatoms Shatter Young Earth Flood Geology- What do diatoms tell us about the plausibility of young earth creationist models? Can Flood Geology really stand up under scrutiny?

The New Frontier in Apologetics: An Open Letter to the Apologetics Community- How do we move towards a broader integration of the Christian worldview into the culture and perhaps move back to the direction that Christianity is where the intelligentsia operate?

Oh No She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character Deconstructed- What does it mean to have a “strong female character”? Do we need to have specific tendencies for such characters? Can women just be women? Check out this interesting post from sci-fi publisher “Tor”‘s blog.

Book Review: “Give Them Grace” by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick

gtg-tfGive Them Grace by Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick is a book about Christian parenting. I emphasize the word “Christian” here because one of their primary theses is that Christian parenting should look distinctive when it is looked at alongside non-Christian parenting. Specifically, this should be reflected in the notion that parenting centers around grace rather than enforcing a works-based system.

The way this plays out throughout the book is through an emphasis not just on getting obedience but rather on raising children who are faithful and understand that Christianity is not about our works but about what God has done for us. The authors use several concrete examples of misbehavior or situations in which parental intervention might be required. These examples are then put through a filter of “giving grace,” often with lengthy example dialogues and advice on how to interact. How well does this seem to work out in the examples given? Well, it’s a bit uneven.

On the one hand, the example dialogues are solid ways to apply the notion that we should give our children “grace” rather than a constant stream of Law (and thus create little Pharisees). When one child says they hate another child, rather than shutting them down purely through application of discipline, the authors commend an approach which speaks to the love of Christ in the lives of children. Some may fear this means no discipline is given, but this is far from the case. The authors put forward a good balanced approach between correction and application of grace and thus also provide an example of how to avoid pure works-righteousness in the hearts and minds of our children. The system that is put forward is one in which management, nourishing, training, correction, and rehearsing of Gospel promises are all integrated into parenting.

On the other hand, there are some theological background beliefs which are distracting and sometimes even disturbing in this work. There is a constant refrain of wondering whether one’s child is “regenerated” or not. This lack of surety about the salvation of children not only is a bit terrifying for myself as a parent, but also unfortunately undermines the points the authors make at several points. As a Lutheran, I believe in infant baptism and trust in God to fulfill the promises our Lord made through baptism. I’m not trying to start a debate on that topic, but instead I say this to point out that from my perspective, this means large parts of the book are simply untenable.

Moreover, there is a frankly disturbing lack of trust in the faith of children despite the fact that Jesus Christ said to let the little children come to Him. For example, when discussing the prayers of children about faith: “Because we don’t know the state of our children’s souls and because they might simply want to please us by praying to be saved, we must continue to give them the law and encourage them to ask God for faith to believe that he is as good as he says he is” (Kindle location 814-815). This suggestion that we must essentially doubt the faith of a child, always wary as to whether they are trying to please us rather than being genuine in their calls for salvation is, I think, theologically deeply problematic.

Another difficulty with the book is a seemingly constant refrain of what mothers do, which is particularly off-putting in the discussion of how moms must always be praying for their kids. What about me as a father? It seems clear from the (pretty good!) chapter on prayer that fathers should be praying too, but then why all the emphasis on mothers in this and other regards? It makes it seem like mothers are viewed as more important, despite disavowals of that same notion.

Overall, Give Them Grace is a good but not great parenting book with lots of concrete examples that help to put forward a vision of parenting that is distinctively Christian.

The Good

+Focus on Christian parenting as distinctive
+Practical advice in many situations
+Questions which lead to more concrete applications
+Easy-to-read style which still captivates
+Fairly neutral about physical discipline with advice both to those who would like to engage in it and to those who would not [“fairly” because the authors do favor the former]

The Bad

-Doesn’t give enough credit to fathers
-Theological background beliefs about children’s salvation distracting and even disturbing
-Some advice hampered by said theological beliefs

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book through Crossway. I was not obligated by the publisher to give any specific type of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews- There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Source

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Is Islam Violent? – A response to a meme

I do not condone this image nor do I claim rights to it. See post.

I do not condone this image nor do I claim rights to it. See post.

I saw a few friends sharing or commenting on the meme I’ve shared here the other day and thought it was definitely worth a response. Here at the start I want to note that I do not condone the image shared here and think it’s deeply problematic for reasons that will become clear in what follows.

I think that we need to be careful when discussing things like this primarily for two reasons: 1) verses quoted out of context can be used to support anything; for example, I often run into atheists quoting from Joshua and arguing that it means that Christianity is inherently violent or has violent roots; 2) the picture itself doesn’t really do much to make me think any effort was made to understand what is being quoted. See below.

I’m not an expert in Islam, but I have taken a graduate level course on the topic. Moreover, there are some basic problems with this meme. One issue with this picture is that it quotes from “Koran chapter:verse” when the proper term would be “Surah chapter:verse.” Saying “Koran” instead of “Surah” is similar to saying “Bible 12:3:15.” The Qu’ran is one book, so this does not cause distortion of where to find the quotes, but in my reading this method of citation seems not quite proper. [Thanks to several readers for pointing out a need to edit here.]

Another issue is that in the Qu’ran, people aren’t referred to as Muslims but rather believers, etc. Again, this is a fairly basic misunderstanding that would be like putting the word “Christian” into the Bible all over the place when it’s not there.

I took the liberty of looking up a couple of these Surahs. Surah 8:65 is quoted in this picture as “The unbelievers are stupid; urge the Muslims to fight them” in fact says, according to the Sahih international version of the Qu’ran, ” O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you twenty [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.” Not only does this not have the word Muslims, but it is also much longer, and doesn’t call unbelievers stupid. In fact, a comparison of the major English versions show that almost every one says “without understanding” or “do not understand.” The closest it comes to “stupid” is “without intelligence.”

The alleged quotation of 22:19 is particularly problematic, because it completely rips the verse out of context. According to the picture, it says “Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water, melt their skins and bellies.” Not only is this actually a reference to 22:19-20 but it also is not a command at all. The context of 22:19-20 is the day of judgment and this punishment is that described of for those in hell (see Surah 22:16-17 for more context). Quoting this verse to say Islam is violent would be akin to quoting a passage about weeping and gnashing of teeth from the Bible, turning it into a command to Christians without justification from the text itself and then saying it proves Christianity is violent.

I checked a couple more references and they too not only shortened the alleged “quotes” but also largely took them out of context.

Yet another problem with a picture like this is that it doesn’t account for the fact that in actual practice, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not violent. I’m not sure of the actual number of Muslims in the U.S. alone, but with over a billion Muslims in the world, if every single one were indeed violent, I would imagine that fighting would be occurring in the streets of Dearborn, MI; New York, Minneapolis, etc. Yet I don’t see this happening. Isolated incidents? Yes. A complete totality of violence everywhere? No. I would argue this is because the vast majority of Muslims have a more nuanced approach to the Qu’ran and its interpretation than simply quoting verses out of context allow; just as Christians would argue for nuanced interpretations in much the same way.

I have not entered into a wider discussion of Islam and religious violence, nor is this the place to do so [see some posts in the links]. I conclude simply by noting that the use of memes like this are, I think, deeply problematic. If we as Christians expect to be treated fairly and have real differences among Christian beliefs and interpretations acknowledged, if we think that people unfairly quote our holy texts out of context and that we deserve to have our nuances of thought also conveyed, then we should do the same for those of other faiths.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The Myth of “Religion” – Constructing the Other as Enemy- How has the category of “religion” been used to support the premise of religious violence and making the “other” into an enemy?

Book Review: “The Myth of Religious Violence” by William Cavanaugh- Here is a book which discusses the notion of “religious” violence at length with sometimes startling conclusions.

I am not sure who was the original user that put the image  up, so I can’t cite it appropriately. I make no claim to owning the image and use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote!- Trading Off the Bible for Science?

afos-mrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Trading Off the Bible for Science?

Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin was one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read recently. The range of essays offered was excellent. Even when I disagreed, I was challenged.

One area that was fairly interesting was the discussion Hans Madueme offered of an interplay between the Bible and science:

There is a trade-off between what is biblically plausible and what is scientifically plausible. To the degree that the doctrine of the fall reflects the biblical story, to the same degree is it inversely faithful to the evolutionary story. (238, cited below)

I think the language of “trade-off” here might be viewed as a rhetorical flourish. The next phrase is equally weighted to seemingly back-load a specific reading of the story of the fall into what is “plausible” over and against that which is “scientifically plausible.” Although I think there may be something of a trade-off in some sense, in order for this qupte to be true there would have to be an inherent inverse relationship between evolution and the Bible. This may, in fact, be the case, but there are a number of steps that need to be proven before one can get to that point.

More intriguing, perhaps, is the notion that we could recast this “trade-off” between exactly how much science we want to read into the Bible and how biblically plausible we are. I would argue that the more we insist that the Bible is explicitly revealing specifics of exact empirical science, the more we do damage to the text. This is a position that does not see science and the Bible as in complete opposition to each other, nor does it see the Bible as scientifically inaccurate or as “non overlapping magisteria.” Instead, where the Bible speaks to scientific issues–if anywhere–those are affirmed. Where it doesn’t, we should not insist that it does.

What do you think? Is there really a trade-off between science and the Bible? If so, in what way?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote- If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Hans Madueme, “The Most Vulnerable Part of the Whole Christian Account: Original Sin and Modern Science” in Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin edited Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014).

SDG.

adam, fall, original sin 238

Really Recommended Posts 2/20/15- Egalitarian Marriage, Ken Ham, Kids, and more!

snowl-owl-post-arpingstoneAnother sleep-deprived Really Recommended Posts here! Also, did you know that you can still have allergies when it is -10 degrees Fahrenheit and snowy? I’ve mastered that. Anyway, this week we have posts about Ken Ham, egalitarian marriage, teaching kids critical thinking,

6 Things Egalitarian Marriage is Not- Too often, people who critique the egalitarian position argue that egalitarian marriage means men and women are assumed to be exactly the same or that it is unbiblical. Here are some answers to some misconceptions about egalitarian marriage.

How I’m Teaching my 6-Year-Olds to be Critical Thinkers- Natasha Crain continually writes awesome posts for teaching apologetics in family settings. Here, she shares some tips for teaching critical thinking to your youngsters.

Ken Ham Ascribes Motive to Your Crime- Psychoanalysis of opponents on hot issues is not something we should engage in. Unfortunately, Ken Ham, a prominent Young Earth Creationist, continually assigns motives to those with whom he disagrees.

If Humans Evolved from Apes, Why Do Apes Exist Today? – Look! I can agree with Answers in Genesis, the prominent young earth creationist group, on something! This is a really bad argument that I have, unfortunately, seen many Christians using. Don’t do it.

Eclectic Theist- Did you know I have another web site? I do! On it, I review books, talk about Star Trek, food, tennis, economics, (and more!), and dive into all kinds of random interests. Check it out!

Microview: “The Dominant Culture: Living in the Promised Land” by Martin Murphy

100_2744Martin Murphy’s The Dominant Culture is an introductory exposition of the book of Judges in the Bible. Judges is my favorite book of the Bible for a number of reasons, but mostly for the people. Samson was my most loved story when I was a child–it was like a real-life superhero. Deborah has grown to be a story of great importance for me as it demonstrates a woman in the role of leader and prophet over the people of Israel. Gideon is another exciting story with all sorts of action. The cycle of Judges also draws interest by being mirrored in our own lives as we experience sin, consequence, cry for help/repentance, and deliverance.

Murphy’s book brings much of the book to life as he retells the stories with an eye for application in the present day. How do Israel’s stories point to truths in our own lives? The book proceeds effectively through the major stories of Judges, with a few comments on minor stories as well. The beauty of the way Murphy does this is that he doesn’t try to make a kind of direct correspondence between the nation of Israel as theocracy and our own world in a kind of one-to-one correspondence; rather, he draws from the stories of Judges to show how we live in a world in which each goes his/her own way, sin reigns, and we need repentance. These and other applications are drawn throughout the book with rather remarkable insight.

There are some downsides in the book, particularly with the marked reading of gender hierarchy into the narrative of Deborah. Here, it seems, Murphy goes off track of what is otherwise marvelous exegetical skill, as he must continually appeal to silence (by saying things like the Bible never says God approved of Deborah as a prophetess) rather than allowing the text itself to demonstrate that Deborah simply was a leader and prophet. The very fact that the author of Judges does not condemn a woman as a prophet and judge when they are quick to condemn other wicked practices (such as using the refrain of “everyone did as they pleased”) in fact seems to point in the opposite direction as that which Murphy goes regarding Deborah. This is, thankfully, just one unfortunate aberration of exegesis among what is otherwise a quite solid job navigating between the need to stay true to the text and draw out applications for today.

The Good

+Often shares insights that bring new light to familiar or unfamiliar texts
+Applicable interpretation rather than merely analytic
+Explains key terms in meaningful way

The Bad

-Unfortunate comments about Deborah and women in leadership

Conclusion

The Dominant Culture is a solid introduction that ties the book of Judges in to our own era. It does so remarkably well without falling into the possible errors of only going for current relevance or making direct 1-to-1 connections between Israel and a country like the United States. If one can get past a few specifics of doctrinal stances that take away from the general appeal of the work (in particular the discussion of Deborah and women in leadership), it provides a good introduction to and application of Judges.

I was provided with a copy of the book for review. I was not obligated by the publisher to write any type of review whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews- There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Source

Martin Murphy, The Dominant Culture.

Another Pro-Choice Meme – Does it Succeed?

pro-choice-argument

Recently, I saw a few people on Facebook posting this image. It’s a bit hard to see on here so here’s a transcript (skip this if you already read it and go to the “Analyzing the Meme” section [I typed it as it is without correcting punctuation):

Women: I’m pregnant what should I do?
Pro life: keep the baby!
Women: okay! Can I have prenatal vitamins?
Pro life: what?
Women: can I have financial help for doctor appointments?
Pro life: ummm…..
Women: can I at least get paid maternity leave?
Pro life: ummm… Excuse me?
Women: the baby is here can I get financial help?
Pro life: I’m sorry do we know you?

Analyzing the Meme

The meme is clearly aimed at the notion that pro-life advocates are inconsistent. They claim to be “pro-life” but when it comes down to the details of life, they jump ship.

I am not speaking for all who are pro-life (that would be impossible), but I do think it is extremely important to be consistently pro-life. That is, an argument like this can show that a position like pro-life is inconsistent, and that does discredit the pro-life position. We need to be consistently pro-life if we are to consider ourselves pro-life at all. But–and this is a really big “but”–the meme completely misses the point.

Missing the Point

It should be clear, however, that the argument presented in this meme is a bit off target. The point is that the real question at issue is whether the unborn is a person.

Think about the meme this way:

Women: I have a toddler what should I do?
Pro life: keep the toddler!
Women: okay! Can I have health care?
Pro life: what?
Women: can I have financial help for doctor appointments?
Pro life: ummm…..
Women: can I at least get paid leave if he/she is sick?
Pro life: ummm… Excuse me?
Women: the toddler is here can I get financial help?
Pro life: I’m sorry do we know you?

What conclusion could be drawn from this? That women (or men) have the right to kill the toddler if they don’t receive those things? I should hope the answer is obvious: no, that does not follow at all. Whether one thinks the answers to the questions the women ask in this scenario should be affirmative or not, suppose it was no to all of them: does that mean we’d go ahead and green light the parents killing the toddler?*

Thus, the argument begs the question. No one should take seriously the notion that if someone can’t pay for supporting a human being they should kill him or her. The only way the argument makes any sense is if one has already assumed that the unborn is not a human being/person. And that is an issue that should be discussed more thoroughly. I have written numerous articles in defense of the pro-life position, so I won’t repeat my arguments here.

Conclusion

One of the comments on Facebook a user posted from the group that put up this image was “How true..
They are not pro life…they are pro birth…then wash their hands afterwards..”

I think this comment demonstrates how much of an emotional impact a meme like this can have. We as pro-life individuals need to be consistently pro-life, lest people reject our reasoning because they see us as “hypocrites.”

However, the ultimate point–the one at the heart of the debate–is whether the unborn is a person. And a meme like this does nothing to discredit the pro-life position whatsoever. It does not follow that if I can’t pay to support my son, I should be allowed to kill him. Neither does it follow that the interlocutor of the meme has demonstrated the pro-life position is mistaken.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Pro-life- I have written a number of posts advocating the pro-life position. Particularly relevant to the present discussion are “From conception, a human” and “The issue at the heart of the abortion debate.”

*This is an example of the “trot out the toddler” defense of the pro-life position. It was coined by (I believe) Scott Klusendorf.

I am not sure who was the original user that put the image  up, so I can’t cite it appropriately. I make no claim to owning the image and use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote!- Sending the “Other” to Hell

cadr-whiteEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Sending the “Other” to Hell

We as Christians often need reminders that we are to share our faith with gentleness and respect. I know I often fail in this regard, and sincerely repent and ask for forgiveness from those whom I have failed. Re-reading James Emery White’s Christ Among the Dragons was a reminder of how that attitude can spring up:

Many Christians view those outside of the faith as needing to go to hell. They are the bad guys, the enemy. (95)

We see this often when, for example, someone dies and a comment is shared “he/she is burning in hell.” I have, unfortunately, seen this myself many times. But is that the attitude we should be taking as Christians with regard to those of other faiths or–heaven forbid–those with whom we disagree in our own faith tradition?

Whenever this kind of attitude crops up in our own lives, we should repent and ask for forgiveness. Our job is not to send the “other” to hell. It is to share Christ’s love with them.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote- If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

James Emery White, Christ Among the Dragons (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010).

SDG.

christ among dragons- 95

Does “50 Shades” reveal some unspoken longing for gender hierarchy?

The only thing (probably) I’m going to write on 50 Shades of Grey is this post. I know, there are literally hundreds of Christian responses to the book. This is not another. It is a response to an article from First Things called “Fifty Shades Against Gender Neturality,” which I found to be deeply problematic.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. No, I haven’t read the book. No, I’m not commenting on the content of the book because I haven’t read it. All this post is trying to put forward is the notion that 50 Shades of Grey somehow reveals an unspoken longing for gender hierarchy, as alleged in the aforementioned article, is mistaken.

This article will not be explicit but by nature its content is more “adult” than my site normally is.

Only Women?

The author of the article on First Things writes:

[T]here’s a hunger that’s not being satisfied: Namely, for men who are unabashedly masculine, who aren’t afraid to take control, and to lead. That is, there’s a longing (even a lusting) for men who aren’t afraid of what’s classically been called “headship.”

A major difficulty with the article is the premise that women’s desire to be dominated somehow reveals a more basic gender hierarchy ingrained into human nature. One difficulty with this is that it is not only women who desire such things. There are men also who are “into” things like being dominated. Thus, should we draw the conclusion that there is a basic hierarchy of women over men in human nature? Clearly not. Moreover, what response could the author of the article on First Things say in response to this? That human nature is broken? Obviously! But it is clearly special pleading to say that women’s desires in this realm point to intrinsic human nature while that desire of men is a reflection of the opposite. The standards need to be the same.

But the author never even mentions or acknowledges awareness of men longing for the same type of activity. Why not? Perhaps it is just ignorance, or perhaps it is the desire to push an agenda. But the reality of men who want to play the role of submissive demolishes this absurd premise. Surely the author wouldn’t agree that this reality means:

There’s a hunger that’s not being satisfied: Namely, for women who are unabashedly feminine, who aren’t afraid to take control, and to lead. That is, there’s a longing (even a lusting) for women who aren’t afraid of what’s classically been called “headship.”

But if women lusting after these kinds of relationships entail this for men, why would it not entail the same for women? It seems that the only reason is because this would go against the argument for male headship. That, indeed, is special pleading.

There is a kind of brokenness here, but it is not a hidden desire for men to be in a relationship of headship of women; it is a brokenness of the fallen human nature–lusting after characters or even activities which we don’t have. The women and men reading 50 Shades is indicative of something: broken human nature.

What Are We Attracted To?

The central premise of the author’s argument is that that which we are attracted to must reveal something about human nature. Our desires must somehow show a “hunger” “not being satisfied.” In the case of 50 Shades, the author argues that it is male hierarchy. But how fluid are these hungers? Who decides what the “hunger” ultimately points towards?

As one commentator on the article shared when I posted it to a Facebook group, what do human desires for pornography, materialism, or mind-altering drugs point to? The permutations of what we could arbitrarily assign to these things are nearly infinite. Materialism–the desire for more things–points to our need to dominate the earth; to outdo our neighbor; to love our neighbor by buying them things; to assert our authority over those who can’t buy things; perpetuation of immoral systems of wealth; etc.

The arbitrariness of assigning interest of 50 Shades to an unspoken desire for gender hierarchy is clear and tells us more about the author’s presuppositions than about the reasons behind the book’s success.

Looking for the Brothel

The author writes:

If Fr. Smith, the titular character in the Bruce Marshall novel, is right that “the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God,” what are fans of the Fifty Shades series seeking?

This line reveals how the author’s presuppositions have guided their article.* Think about it:

Men seeking brothel = looking for God
Women seeking pornographic books = looking for men

How does that follow? The article is blatantly male-centric and yet offers no reason for thinking that this strange split should be believed. Why think that men seek after God while women must seek after men? Are women incapable of also seeking God? Could women’s desire for similar sins also be a kind of replacement for God? Perhaps men seeking a brothel are in fact unconsciously looking for women to love and care for them. Perhaps they are looking to perpetuate a sinful cycle of violence against women.

But according to the author, when it comes to men- they seek God. Women? Apparently they have to seek after men.

Conclusion

There is something happening when we go after sinful desires. We are seeking to replace God with an idol. Whether that idol is a brothel, a dirty book, accumulating wealth, or something else, we can unanimously affirm that all of these desires point to a replacement of God with something else. There is a God-shaped hole in our hearts, and we as fallen people will seek to fill it with anything. These desires don’t reveal the way things should be, as though our sinful longings were somehow pointers towards the good. Instead, these desires are themselves evil. They are a replacement of God with something which is not God. The fallen world does not show how things should be; it shows them as fallen. To arbitrarily psychoanalyze desires and assign to them our chosen pet issues is to do injustice to the real impact of sin on human nature and in society. Rather than trying to put forth our agendas of what preferred stance we take on gender issues or something else, we should seek to reconcile with God and point people towards God.

*Another commentator on the article when I shared it helped develop this point.

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SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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