Moore and People at Our Door

I had two things on my mind this week. The most evangelical politician in America (if you look at his agenda) is Roy Moore. I can remember, even in my evangelical days of the 1980s and early 90s, that Judge Moore was known as a great champion of the Christian cause. That was a code word for 1) against homosexuals, 2) for guns, 3) against liberal atheism (such as the establishment in Hollywood), 4) against abortion, and 5) against feminism. These, were the issues that we were taught that God was concerned about. We did not realize that this was a narrative that was created by the conservative, political, movement to entice evangelicals to join them . . . in votes.

I don’t know for sure if Judge Moore is guilty. There is strong evidence that he is, as I read the articles. I was also greatly disappointed in his interview on Fox where he had a hard time remembering if he dated teenaged girls in his thirties and if he did, he had their mother’s permission. To me, that was condemning. If you were to ask me or the 99.99% of men I know, if we dated or tried to date teenaged girls in our thirties, or even in our late twenties, we would all say with great confidence, “Hell no!”

But, once again, the evangelical church wants to come to his defense. Why? Because he has been such a strong supporter of the evangelical agenda over the decades. But are those really Christian standards?  Does Jesus really hate the gays, and I mean hate. The evangelical attitude that I remember was clearly hate.

Once again, just like with Trump, the Evangelical church as been duped and brain-washed to the point that they cannot see truth. They don’t want to seek truth anymore. It is no longer an issue of political party. There are many Christian Republicans who have not taken the bait.

Hearing about Judge Moore’s personal history,  apparently he was always a man of hard-core (meaning tough) standards. From the time he was in the military (a very strong disciplinary) through his years as a lawyer and attorney general. He was tough as nails. Usually this position, if you look from Freud’s perspective, is a position of great insecurity, much like Donald Trump. We you have great personal insecurities, you act out by condemning, harshly, those who are not like you. This is almost always combined with a narcissistic slant, that leaves you totally blind to your own faults. It’s not partisan. Bill Clinton was like this. One of the most disciplined Christian leaders that I knew, when I was in graduate school and involved with campus ministry, was also having affairs with college girls and he was in his forties. He had no remorse because he saw himself (I think) as so important to God that God allowed him to behave like that.

The second issue was that we got to church late this morning. It is a big, healthy church with about 200-300 in attendance. Standing outside the door of our church were two protesters. I could only observe  them from a block away because, despite my desire to talk to them, they took down their stuff and left before I got there. If I have it right, the man was video-taping people walking into our church and the lady had a large sign saying that those who enter that church are on “the road to hell,” and then she had two verses ( I couldn’t read them from my distance).  The great irony is that our pastor is preaching on grace and how there should be unity among God’s people.

I can, –barely–relate to these protestors. When I was in college I could see one of my friends doing the same, such as going to a “liberal church” and telling them that they were all going to hell. We would do so, thinking that we were being prophets acting on God’s behalf.  The the Freudian view is that we were proud. We thought that were the only ones smart enough and good enough to know the real truth and everyone else were either idiots, or sinners (thus on the path to hell). It would make us feel good, stroking our ego, to have such a protest.  I think Judge Moore would have approved.

But what about the Alabama girls? It must do great harm to a 14 year-old girl, still a child in many ways, losing their innocence to a 30 something year old man’s lust. Give them grace.

 

Writing Transition, from Christian, to Fiction

When I wrote Butterflies in the Belfry, I thought it could be the first step in a long series of thoughtful books from a Christian perspective. I had mentioned in other places I already had titles in my mind such as the A Christian View of Nature. I also wanted to write a series on the dark gifts. I only use the word dark because others would assume that they are dark, but they are not. For example, The Gift of Fear, The Gift of Doubt, The Gift of Anger,  and The Gift of Grief.  However, I was a bit naive about Christian writing.

People who know theology and I respect (such as some people that I personally know plus the likes of N.T. Wright) read the manuscript and seemed to indicate that it was well-written and important. However, I had a very hard time promoting it. Most Christian bookstores didn’t want it (fear that it could be unorthodox) and the secular bookstores didn’t see the point. While I sold hundreds, I didn’t sell thousands or tens of thousands. I had sold thousands of a previous book, A Kernel in the Pod. Those who read Butterflies in the Belfry, liked it. But so many were fearful to read it, fearful that it would challenge what they consider “Biblical” or orthodox beliefs. Then, while the book should be an interesting read for all people, the non-Christian crowd,  including my own non-Christian friends, saw the book as weird or reading it would be like inviting the Jehovah Witnesses into your house.

The other thing that I did not consider is that Christian writers are a dime a dozen. You have 500,000 thousand pastors and 200,000 Christian professors in America and many of them are writers or writers wanna-bes. So the field is crowded. For all of these reasons, I am putting my Christian writing ambitions on the back burner.

My novel, Waters of Bimini, is a new direction. I’ve always enjoyed writing fiction. I enjoy it more than nonfiction. With Butterflies in the Belfry, I had to go through layers of fact checking, including lawyers fact checking, before a publisher would send it to print. Not so with fiction. I can imagine any world that I want.

I have been asked if my novel would then fall into the genre of “Christian Fiction.”  Not in a heartbeat. I detest , so-called Christian Fiction. It is like the Hallmark Channel. It is a world that is woven of only positive things, lollipops and sweetness.

I tried to present a novel manuscript to Christian publishers back in the 1990s (a children’s book). I was sent a list of standards by each publishing house. Those standards included the rules (for acceptance). These rules included that the story has no “bad words,” no reference to sex, no alcohol, no smoking, and the list went on and on. The worst point was the story had to have a happy ending. I did challenge an editor at one of the big Christian publishing houses. I made the point that C.S. Lewis, the archetype of Christian fiction writers, used drinking, smoking , and the lack of happy endings, at least on this earth. That editor wrote back that the problem was in their market. If they published books that did not follow these rules, the evangelical community would not buy the book and Christian bookstores would not carry it.

However, the problem with Christian books is that they do not live in the real world. If you do not live in the real world, then you cannot see the face of God clearly. If God is there, He dwells in the real world.

So, while I consider myself a Christian and therefore anything I write or do has to be defined by that, my fiction writing is not “Christian” as in the American genre, by any measure of the term. Waters of Bimini, and future books, will reflect reality as best as I can, including the darkness that does occur within the real world.

America’s Violence and Lack of Will

I have written many times in blogs and other places about my eternal optimism. I observe the higher morals of younger generations, which gives me hope. I see a theological post-mil position, where the Church prevails in the end, giving me hope, bringing Christ’s peace and justice to the world. I have spoken for the solutions to our ills, including the mass killings.

I think now, with two such horrible acts so close together, I have lost this hope. Like many of you, I am weary. I have lost this hope not because there are no solutions but in spite. The solutions are complex and multifaceted, but are real. But there is no will. This is what haunts me. There is no will because there is so much personal gain from the status quo.

The philosopher gains. He/she, for the gain of moral freedom, projects an atheistic world described as a Marquis de Sade’s moral nihilism. Within that world, human life has no meaning except the meaning that you can give it through the act of the will. Saving babies from a famine in a foreign land gives meaning. Walking into a place of peace and killing as many babies, children, or adults, in the most violent way, also gives equal meaning. IT DOESN’T MATTER. Otherwise you will die and return to dirt as nothing. This is the prevailing worldview of our culture. They may not speak in philosophical terms, but they feel it.

The parents have no will to raise their children better, because it means sacrificing their own wants. Stick them in front of a screen where their faces glow green and they drift into a semi-conscious state.

The political left has no will because of the money that flows from the violent games and movies, which dehumanize people into targets and numbs the culpability of acting on violence.

The gun merchants have no will, because of the constant flow of good money . . . from things like bump-stocks, assault rifles, and huge magazines. They have bought the right. They have bought the evangelical with strong emotional words like the “Second Amendment,” or “if you let them take away my automatic assault rife with armor piecing bullets in 500 round magazines, next the snowflakes will be coming from Grandma’s 22 pistol, which she keeps in her bedside table for protection.” No, these machines don’t do the violence. They only allow the deranged humans to inflict the highest possible damage in the shortest amount of time
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The political left and the right, both, receive huge bundles of money from the health insurance companies, which prefer not to offer adequate mental health care, from anger management to pharmacological treatment for frank psychosis and anti-social behaviors. They save money by allowing these people to wander the streets, to be warehoused in prisons, or to repetitively beat up girlfriends in private. They have no will. They have too much to gain.

There is no will to do anything. They will shoot dead the stranger on TV. They will shoot dead our neighbor’s relative. They will shoot dead the neighbor. The will shoot dead our own kids . . . and yet, there will be no will to do anything. Nothing at all. For that, tonight, I feel despondent.

Why I am a Very, Very Bad Christian Part II

12. “Swear words” do not offend me and can help the conversation at times.

13. I trust secular businesses / enterprises more than Christian ones. If a secular business screws someone, they will smile and say “ha, ha, we screwed you.” If a Christian business screws someone they will first deny it, say it was your misperception, and eventually say  it was God’s will for you.

14. I don’t like most Christian books, especially fiction. Christian fiction creates alternative world that is so far from reality that it makes no sense. It is sugar-plum land of roses  and no evidence, anywhere, of the fall. Where justice always prevails. The real world is very different.

15. I can have a good conversation with a Christian in a bar or fishing hole, but the conversation is worthless within the walls of a church . . . because they only say what they suppose to say, not what they mean.

16. I can’t stand TV evangelists. I think they should all be locked up. They are one of the biggest scars on the Church, and the Church looks the other way. They are liars. They are money-hungry fools. They are so out of touch with the real world that they wear ridiculous hair pieces and stage set-ups that no one, except those equally delusional, would want to watch them.

17. I can’t stand “Jesus talk.” I used it all the time when I was an evangelical. I gets you are lot of points among other Christians, but it is all an act on all sides. That’s what I can’t stand it. I love reality. God lives in reality and the more distant we put between us and reality, the less we can know God.

I’m a Really, Really Bad Christian

For years I have fought the stigma that I’m not a very good Christian. I have to admit, that I may be oversensitive to criticism in general, but especially to this idea of inferior spirituality.

There are the blatant examples that come to mind, which make me chuckle. After taking my family to visit a new church (Reformed) in Marquette, Michigan, we went out to the Ponderosa Steak House afterwards. A group (woman and two male friends) whom I just briefly shook hands with at that church came in and sat next to my end of the table. We smiled at each other.  I was minding my own business and eating. Then one of the men tapped me on the shoulder. He said that he had a special gift of discernment and God was telling him that I don’t “really know the Lord very well and I don’t have the spirit.”

I almost choked on a tough piece of steak. Denise and the family were oblivious to what was happening on my end of the table. I was shaken and said to them, they were wrong. Then, as I tried to eat again, the lady spoke and said, “We are going to pray for you right now because we can look at you and see that the devil is in you.”  They laid hands on me and prayed loudly for God to “enter his hardened heart.”

But most of the time is is less bold. For example, a strong evangelical family (well-known among Christians in our town) made the comment that they heard that I wasn’t even “in church” any more. This was after I had very, very good reasons for leaving a dysfunctional church and started to attend, almost every Sunday, another church.  I am an elder now and have heard comments now and then that I’m not a very good one.

But I want to come out of the closet and confess, I am not a good Christian. I don’t fit within the Christian society very well. I think on my death bed I will have many regrets of all the time I have wasted inside the walls of a church.

So here are some of the reasons that I should not be considered a very good Christian:

  1. I really don’t like attending church. I feel it is superficial. Christians trying to impress one another. Even with great preachers, and I think we have one where I attend now, once you have heard 10,000 sermons, it is hard to listen to more. Just like I would be bored to be listening to my 10,000th lecture on grasshoppers.
  2. I love truth. I am not a big fan of social mores, for the sake of social mores. I don’t believe things just because I supposed to.
  3. I love to be around lesbians. I have several friends who are. The reason is, I love the nature of women in general and being around lesbians gives me great freedom to be their friend without being misunderstood. I find them (I now that I can’t stereotype them) to be very funny.
  4. I adore Muslims. I love their culture and their people. I have no temptation to be a Muslim. It is not a theological love but a cultural love.
  5. I don’t like guns.
  6. I think all war is pretty stupid.
  7. I don’t like social lying. Lying is very important to being a good Christian, it is part of the game to make yourself to look far better than you really are.
  8. I don’t like Christian music, none of it. Maybe if you consider some of the old classical music (think Bach), I do love that.
  9. I love thinking. I love reading things that oppose what I believe. From example, on the political front, I can’t stand Donald Trump . . . to the point, I am tempted to hate him. However, I am drawn to Fox News and other pro-Trump places like bugs to a porch light. I think the reason is, a insatiable curiosity as to how can people think those things. I want them to persuade me that there are good reasons for liking the man. So far it hasn’t worked.
  10. I don’t read the Bible much anymore. Even though I haven’t read it much in the past ten years, I can still guarantee that I have studied it more in my life than about anyone I know. I mean for decades I studying for hours every day. I attempted the memorize the New Testament in college and memory work is very hard for me. I’m not against studying the Bible, but I’m in a season of my life when I have so many other things to read . . . plus, the Bible is always playing in the background of my mind from all those years of constant study.
  11. I don’t find science scary, but beautiful. When I read stories about Hubble’s findings in deep space, I feel humbled in God’s presence, not tempted to be an atheist. I had been taught for years as a young man that if you go around science too much the boogeyman will get you.

I could go on and on and I may come back and add more but I need to go to work.

Mike

Assault Weapon Ownership, is not a Christian Right

 

jesus with a gun

It blows my mind to hear so many evangelicals talking about the second  amendment being part of God’s law and the evil, liberal, godless people want to  take that right away.  Can we not see that evangelicalism has been completely duped by the political right? Christianity is not a political issue. Never was. We must untangle the teachings of the historical Jesus from the political right or left.

 

Natural Christianity is returning to the simple teachings of the man who walked in Galilee.  God save us all. There is a wanting for repentance.

 

Where is God When There is a Tragedy? An Alternative View

Some people would say that it is wrong to bring up hard issues when a terrible event has happened. I disagree. When a relative event happens, it is the ideal time to start the discussion. For example, there is no better time to talk about gun laws than now. Yes, there are a lot of emotions, which can get in the way, when you are in the aftermath of a terrible event. But there is also a kind of clarity that appears in times of crises.

I was about to do a post on House Majority Whip Steve Scalise before the awful events of Las Vegas. As you know Scalise returned to work at Congress last week after a tragic shooting, which almost took his life. I heard him and some of his colleagues make statements about God, which caught my attention.Shot

Sometimes I think that I am not a good fit within standard Christianity because I don’t follow the norms. I don’t have many Christian friends anymore, because I am often offensive to them and they fear that I am unorthodox (see my previous post about unorthordoxophobia). But I do not accept the traditional answers when they make no sense. I am even considering starting a new blog under the simple name, A Bad Christian. I thought it would be better to be up front that I will appear to be a bad Christian by the things I say.

But I do want to raise real questions. I raise these questions, not to be a troublemaker, but because I believe if you only give sweet answers to tough questions, in the end it will come back to haunt you. That’s what happened to me.

So, back to the question in hand. Congressman Scalise was every emotional upon his return, which is to be expected. He made the comment that he felt the presence of God on that baseball field when the shooting broke out (see here). He pointed out that one of the congressmen there that day of the shooting, the one who helped him, was a “Combat Surgeon” Rep. Brad Wenstrup from Ohio.  He praised God for His goodness of working that out.

From what I understand, Rep. Wenstrup is a podiatrist (foot doctor / surgeon) who did, indeed, spend time in Iraq. But to call him a “combat surgeon” is a gross overstatement. This is not to say that Rep. Wenstrup, due to his medical training, did know how to stop bleeding, which was very helpful.

So, while it is soothing to the evangelical to be praising God for saving the life of Rep: Scalise I think it does a great dis-service. Now, such stories of miracles and God’s goodness in Las Vegas. The intent is to give God glory. But let’s think about this, taking the “answers” to their ultimate metaphysical conclusion.

It takes a lot of effort and energy, speaking metaphysically, to put a “combat surgeon” at a particular place at a particular time. The statements are that is exactly what God did on the day of the shooting in Washington. However, it would have taken much less effort on a divine being’s part to cause a firing pin of a rifle to mis-fire. It would have been much, much easier for God to have caused James T. Hodgkinson, the shooter, to have had a flat tire on the way there or a heart attack. You could move a few brain cells in his brain to interfere with his intention. By preventing the shooting, you could have prevented a lot of suffering. I will not get into the Las Vegas stories (because there are so many of them that are flooding in right now).

So, why didn’t God do the lessor effort, metaphysically? It makes no sense. This kind of god is careless, lazy, dumb, or just impotent.

The evangelical would step in at this point and say that all of this was God’s will. But then, we have created a god that is much less than the real God. It is a god on par with the Greeks (and I think that many Christians get their model of God from the Greeks rather than scripture).

This kind of god, wills evil. This kind of god is reactive. He has to pull a MacGyver in response to an event, rather than being ahead of it. This kind of god is a victim of the fate.

So how do we handle bad things? Is God asleep at the wheel? Is God there. Is God too weak to stop bad things?

The answer has to be that it is beyond our understanding. It is a mystery. But God cannot be the source of  evil. God cannot create some madman to kill our families in order to teach us something. God cannot standby when His hands in His pockets not knowing what to do except to supply a foot-doctor. If God is as powerful as we say, then God has created a world which is real. It is a world with consequences. It is a world with real evil. If God stop the consequences of evil, then would it be evil?

I am a Presbyterian and do believe in a God who is above destiny and fate. But He is also a God that allows history to take its course, with a fix in the end. But to make up superficial sweet stories of how God saved my friend in Las Vegas, but ignored the 59 other good people who were killed, will not make sense in the end and this kind of god will eventually be extraneous.

 

Evil, As an Act of Self Actualization in a Meaningless World

Of course, the thing that is on our minds today is Las Vegas. It would be foolish for anyone, at this juncture, to try and understand that which is incomprehensible. I am not going to try and do that here. We are starting to hear the chatter. Guns. Terrorists. Mental Health. Liberals. Conservatives. Isis.

What I’m about to say is not a knee-jerk reaction. It is something I have thought about many times, each time there is an act of terror in the world. If you were to look for one defining theme, and you were brave enough to go to the deep, psychological and dark palaces, I think you could arrive where I’m about to go.

In our society, in general, there is an epidemic of meaninglessness. Meaninglessness is the default position that you must take, if you are honest, if there is no God. Even many, maybe most, Christians live as practical atheists. So this is not the kind of point that an evangelical would try to make, good guys Vs bad guys, the evangelicals being the good guys of course. Certainly not attributing this to a Satanic act, as a frivolous act of black magic.  Satan is far more sophisticated than that.

If you live in a world where there is no meaning, where there are over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, many with multiple planets. That it all came from a chance happening . . .  there can be no meaning.

In life we seek meaning through a variety of ways. These ways can work . . . for a while. It can be success in a job. Being a good father. Being a rock star. Having a large following on your blog or Twitter or likes on FB. It can be a Nobel Prize. But it can be through a meaningless act of misguided Self Actualization.

I think it was the philosopher Sade (don’t have time to look it up as my dog is in the car and the sun just came out), who believed that any great act, good or evil, gives your life credit.

If you were a 65 year old man and you look back on your life and think it was all in vain, all without meaning, one act of self-actualization would be to save a baby from drowning (where you end up in the news and are praised). Another such act in a meaningless world would be to kill as many people as you can, maybe setting a new American record. Almost anyone, with careful planning, can break that record.

For this one facet to the why of such evil, we have to re-introduce the true narrative that it is NOT meaningless. That the pauper who lived and died with no notoriety, is worthy of God’s love and their life was not wasted.  We must also make it clear that atheism is not obtainable, as no one can live consistent with it. To try to live consistent, implies nihilism and the meaningless of one’s life. It is a hopeless trap for a society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Brown, a Tragedy of the Faith

Because Dan Brown has a new book coming out, Origin, his publisher is getting him out to the media. One of those public appearances was this morning’s, CBS Sunday Morning. They had a careful interview and a walk through his personal biography.

I never knew, until this morning, where Dan Brown stood on spiritual issues. His books were opposed by many Christian leaders from the Pope to evangelicals. However, to me at least, that never tells the author’s personal story because it is fiction. An author can write a fictional view that is in direct opposition to their personal view.

However, there appears to be a consistency between the author, Mr. Brown, and his works. I suspect, from what he said in the interview, that he is an atheist, with certainty. As a matter of fact, his new book seems to look at what happens when there is no longer need for God.

But this is not a criticism of Dan Brown. I respect him as an author. This is a criticism and more of a post=mortem of what when wrong in his faith journey.  He describes an experience as a young boy of going to his Episcopalian priest and asking him (my paraphrase), “I am learning at church that God created the earth in six days. However, in school I am learning about evolution, which takes much longer. Which one is true?”

He reports that the priest said, “Good boys don’t ask such questiodan brownns.”

That was the beginning  of his departure from his Christian faith and his turn to a more cynical (and lucrative I must add) path of raising doubts about the Church.

My grief is directed at the lost opportunity. How tragic that a young man could be asked such an important question to his priest and was given the worst possible answer he could have given.

The second point that I want to make, is that Dan Brown talked about his father being an accomplished mathematician and teacher at a prep school. Being raised in a family of math (and music) was another factor in his doubts. It is my view that math, music, and art are the greatest apologetic of God being there, yet if not seen in that light, it can be misused. It was another sad failure in his upbringing. It is a little like using the profound order of a garden to prove that there is no gardner.

But again, this is not a criticism of Dan, but of us who continue to miss these opportunities.

Unorthodoxphobia

I had a strange experience two weeks ago. A Christian book club, which promotes and reviews Christian books, was considering listing my book Butterflies in the Belfry. While the book does have some controversial points, the director of this club was not interested in its content or reviewing the book himself. He was not even that interested in me as an author. He was very interested, however, in my church affiliation. He asked for the web link to my church. When I supplied that link, the following day, he sent me a rather abrupt e-mail that he will remove my book from their list and will not be involved with any promotion. He seemed like a nice young man (at first), but the e-mail was rather brash. He said that apparently my church tolerates the “sin of LGBT,” and that I was not “orthodox” and that he needed to protect his readers from me. I was confused. My book, only in the most tangential way, touches on the topic of gender identity. But he based his concerns on the “Welcoming Statement” of my personal home church, which is as follows:

 We Welcome You…

At WPC, we welcome those who are…

Old, young and in between. Churched, un-churched and in between.

Female, male and in between. Rich, poor and in between.

Gay, lesbian, straight and in between. Certain, doubtful and in between.

Individuals, families and in between. Prideful, humble and in between.

Addicted, sober and in between. Socialist, capitalist and in between.

We are a mixed bag of individuals and yet we are all one in Jesus. (Galatians 3:27)

You are invited to join our nurturing, affirming community as we participate in the wild love of Jesus Christ. Approved by Session, December 15, 2016

We thought about that opening statement carefully. While I did not draft it, as an elder, I did approve it. As I voted on it, I imagined what Jesus would be thinking in this circumstance. The way that I know the historical Jesus, was that he never turned away anyone, except for maybe the pseudo-religious. I mean, if our welcoming statement said that members of Isis was welcome, as long as they entered our sanctuary unarmed, I would have supported that statement as well. Who are we to set up barriers between anyone and the Gospel? Who needs the Gospel more than those who are sick?

This experience got me thinking about the whole topic of orthodoxy. This topic rides closely on the back of a recent trip to the American southeast, where I stumbled into my old Christian stomping grounds of theological certainty, or what we would have called then, orthodoxy.

I will give a brief explanation of this unorthodoxphobia, which I have coined for the purpose of this post. Phobia, when added as a suffix, simply means the irrational fear of something. Humans, in their fallen state, have a great tendency to have irrational fears. In this case, I have observed an irrational fear of someone being unorthodox in their Christian theology.

Christianity has always absorbed philosophical thoughts from secular society, even thought it was warned never to do that. One of those secular philosophies comes from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. Within that philosophical frame work, the secular thinkers of the seventieth and eighteenth centuries began to adopt an Aristotelian view of nature and humans, that 1) our reason is perfect and 2) empiricism or the observation through our senses will always lead us to certain truth.

This was never a Biblical concept. The more Biblical view is that reason is very good, but broken by the fall. It can be trusted, but never fully trusted. Because of this limitation, we can never know all truth with complete certainty. We must approach all held views with humility.

After the Reformation and with the Catholic Scholastics, this secular philosophy was adopted as Christian. Theologians became to seek the perfect theological positions on all things. This was the age that arguments such as how many angels could dance on the head of a pin (which does have some metaphysical relevance, but not much). Today, this rational certainty is manifest as absolute positions on which political party is God’s favorite. Another example is an old Christian friend saying that it is a clear Biblical principle that climate change is a hoax. Then of course, there is the certainty, held by some, that the earth is only six thousand years old.

With this background of an unhealthy dependency on a perfected reason, the protestant church began to splinter more and more throughout the eightieth trough the twentieth centuries because if you believe that you can reach pure certainty about all positions of life, then you have the confidence to separate and despise positions that are not in agreement with yours. The humility of uncertainty, due to a broken reason, is lost. The separation grew, and built upon that certainty, a hatred of the opposition grew to the point of horrible religious wars.

There is a huge difference between the relativity of truth, which I certainly don’t accept, and this position of humble uncertainty. But this “uncertainty” that I am speaking of, is not a wishy-washy know nothing position. It is having great trust that many positions are true, but an openness to reconsider, knowing that I (not God) can be wrong.

Rock-n-roll

I want to end with talking about the psychology of certainty. When I was in this certainty camp, (and I am often psychoanalyzing myself), it was that I believed that my favor in God’s eyes, was determined by me believing the right things . . . about everything. I had a genuine fear that I might get some detail wrong or associate with those who do. That’s why I didn’t partake of the wonderful rock-n-roll music of the seventies (not to mention great books, movies and etc.).

I was studying psychology in a secular university. I remember throwing my text books against the wall when I thought I read something that wasn’t orthodox. I did the same when I read Christian books with theological points that I was not sure were true. I feared this slipping into the unorthodox, and then into the bowels of Hell itself.

I assume, but can not know with certainty, that this is the same psychological motivation for those today who are so extremely concerned about working out all precise “truths” of their Christianity. However, I know realize that I spent 25 years being wrong (that story is in my book) and am bound to be wrong again. But true discipleship is constantly learning and replacing bad ideas with new ones that are closer to God’s absolute truth, a truth that I can never full know in this mortal body. J. Michael Jones