Friday, 8/29/14

  1. What is Christianity for?
  2. A bestiary of heresy
  3. Turning a blind eye because Our Kind of People don’t see this
  4. A change of (intertwined) culture
  5. Everything you need to know about celibacy

1

What is Christianity for? That, in essence, is the question Rod Dreher posed to Matt Sitman over at the Daily Dish in a longish exchange about Rod’s Benedict Option. Sitman replied and Rod rejoins.

I think Rod’s point is very fair when he asks:

When we “reach out” to “the poor and the lonely and the marginalized,” what do we have to say to them? What do we have to say to them that’s any different from what a compassionate nonbeliever would say to them?

What indeed?

I’ve noted at irregular but fairly frequent intervals my distaste (to put it mildly) for utilitarian rationales for religion. Basic human goods need no rationale, and making religion a means to something else implies that it’s not a basic human good. So I’m not asking “toward what social goal is Christianity as an ideology teleologically directed?” To that question, any answer I can imagine is subject to Rod’s probing question.

I know of two possible answers, which differ enough in emphasis, if nothing else, to be worth juxtaposing:

  1. Evangelical: to reconcile alienated people to God. (This web page on salvation.)
  2. Orthodox: Christianity is the path for man’s union with God, even his appropriation of God’s communicable attributes (to use terms of Western theology), made possible by Jesus Christ uniting man and God in his own person. (See here)

Though I’ve left the Evangelical World, I think what I paraphrased is pretty good as far as it goes. I was pleased a little bit surprised, as all I’d set out to do was find an official version close to how I lived Evangelicalism decades ago. Both Willow Creek Church and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School “got it,” while the National Association of Evangelicals just assumed that everyone knew what salvation meant and talked about something else.

My problem with Evangelicalism is that their idea of “reconcilitation” tends to mean personally claiming the defense that “Christ died in my place,” with no real change in the now-saved person. Put differently, Christ’s death fixed His Father’s anger problem.

Can we agree that in some sense “Christianity is for salvation” as distinct from “making the world a better place”?

Have I misrepresented Evangelical view of salvation? If so, what would you say “Christianity is for” in Evangelicalism?

Have I misrepresented or omitted anything from my precis of the Orthodox view?

2

I sometimes feel I learn truth by contrast with falsehood, especially in theology. Fr. Jonathan Tobias throws me a bone for that kind of chewing:

The iconoclasts would come again, and they did. The Arians were certainly not silenced. And you might have noticed that the Nestorians are back, in spades. So are the Docetists, Donatists, Eunomians, Pneumatomachians, Sabellians, Messalians (boy howdy), Voluntarists (who mutate into Atheists, inexorably). Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! A whole bestiary of heresies to contrast to Orthodox (and orthodox) Christianity!

3

How far would you go to avoid being mis-identified as a sympathizer with, say, Pat Robertson? (If you happen to sympathize with that ghoulish humbug, substitute the bogeyman who makes your skin crawl.) Would you allow men to rape your neighbor’s daughter? Your own daughter?

That’s what Rod Dreher thinks the authorities in Rotherham, England did, as 1400 girls were groomed and raped by Pakistani men (here and here).

This is a topic that, for whatever reason, gets Rod frothing at the mouth – as perhaps it should all of us. Ultimately, the Priest-Abuser scandals in the Roman Catholic Church he had converted to as an adult caused him to leave, for instance.

But putting aside my restraint about joining his overall outrage, I agree with him on this:

British progressives, let’s not hear another word about how the sacrosanct nature of the Catholic Church contributed to the sexual exploitation of children by priests until you face up to the fact that the values of political correctness on the matter of race and ethnicity contributed to the sexual exploitation of children by these Pakistanis. Catholicism doesn’t “cause” clerical sexual abuse any more than anti-racism “causes” Pakistanis sex gangs to rape children. But a big part of the meaning of Rotherham is that Rotherham authorities were willing to sacrifice the humanity of at least 1,400 little girls to the god of political correctness.

And you watch: some progressives are even now worrying more about people thinking the Wrong Thing about Pakistani men than they are about these children, their rapists, the potential anti-white race hatred of the children’s rapists, and how the authorities failed those children.

4

Think Rotherham, England is uniquely rotten? R. R. Reno has been fighting accusations of racism for saying some things that, while painful, need to be said. He concludes:

We can and should do everything we can to improve police practice, discourage racial stereotypes, and prevent any equation of black skin with violence and crime. Most young black men are not criminals. Amadou Diallo wasn’t. But they suffer from the fact that so many criminals in America are black. Therefore, as a society we won’t fully succeed in protecting young black males from police violence until we break down the statistical links between race and crime.

That’s going to require a change in culture. And not, I want to emphasize, black culture alone, but the dominant white culture as well. They are far more intertwined than our politically correct rhetoric would have us believe.

Intertwined as in “Hollywood culture doesn’t scaled down well to Ferguson, MO?” Whelping without a husband is swell enough if you’re a starlot or pop tart, not so good if you’re a high school dropout, star-struck by the glamor of the former.

5

I have been synthesizing all the wisdom about sex on the internet, movies and TV. Here is my synopsis.

The Old Wives tales had it perfectly backward: It’s not lasciviousness, the solitary vice, or even the abominable and detestable crime against nature with man or beast, but celibacy – yes, celibacy, that monstrous vice – that causes hairy palms, pimples, blindness, weakening of the immune system, and, finally, outright insanity.

You have been warned.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.