September 19, 2020

Internet Monk Radio Podcast #154

podcast_logo.gifThis week: Pushing the theological diversity envelope. Should I let my enemies have a shot at me? Comments to a family whose son has become an atheist.

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  1. Monk, I just finished listening to your Podcast and highly recommend it.

    Your advice to the family with the angry atheist son sounds a great deal like what my mother said to me way back when I was that angry teen. Because of the way she handled it, we maintained a great relationship and 30 years later she was the first person I turned to when I began to feel pulled back toward Christ.

    If the family is reading this, I urge you to consider Monk’s advice. Encourage your son to talk to you about his feeling and the source of his anger. He may need to talk about the things he witnessed. He is going through a difficult time and you cannot order him to believe things that no longer make sense to him. But you can listen.

  2. Really good advice for the parents.

  3. Regarding allowing the cranky to take potshots at you, I think you’re very good already about letting Catholics come on here and moan about what you said – you haven’t kicked me off yet, anyway!

    TUaD has had a pop at you? I’m kind of surprised, actually; I know him from comments he’s left over at Chris Johnson’s “Midwest Conservative Journal” and I know he’s been banned from “StandFirm” but I thought he was interested in criticising the Episcopalians only, from his comments about TEC. I have no idea why he’d take umbrage at you.

    Your advice to the family whose son has lost his faith and about interacting with atheists in general is very human and loving and open and very Christian in spirit. All I can throw in here is what a visiting missionary from the Kiltegan Fathers (St. Patrick’s Missionary Society) said at Mass last week. He was speaking about working in the Third World and the importance of education, social justice, empowering people, encouraging them to take up their rights and so on. He said when he is asked how many people he’s converted, he says he’s never converted a single person – Christ did it 🙂 But he said all this (education, fighting for civil rights and so on) was important after that (and he pointed to the crucifix above the altar) – the Good Friday event. Where a man was condemned as a criminal and executed by the state in a show trial. He said that’s where the people can start asking about Christianity – ‘what do you mean this is good news, a man killed by the government? how is that good news?’ Because they are suffering under unjust governments, abuses of power, denial of human dignity, soldiers and police using their positions not for the good of the nation and the people but to throw people in jail at their own whim, they can understand this and it is a starting place to teach them. God made man hanging on the tree.

    I don’t know how that helps, if it helps at all.

    Regarding Occam’s Razor, this principle comes from William of Occam, a 14th century logician – and Franciscan friar 🙂

  4. I’m ok leaving room for debate, as long as it doesn’t negatively alter our view of God. Specifically, if God created all things through evolution, did he ever rest? Isn’t the point of evolution that this progressive process never ends? I find others, such as Hugh Owen, who have already addressed this issue from how it renders the sabbath meaningless. But the theological implications are serious. If God’s creation is never finished, then our works are never finished. Christ’s proclamation from the cross, “it is finished” even comes into question. A resting God becomes a mythical platitude; a resting creation becomes wishful thinking. We all join Sisyphus in his unending, meaningless labor. It would be helpful to hear if a theistic evolutionist has already wrestled through this.

    • After much reading, I think it’s difficult to have a perfect theology on creation — no matter where you stand. It seems to me that all sides have issues (YEC, OEC, TE, etc). All positions seem to raise issues theologically. I don’t think our theology should be our only guide when considering what is true though.

      I’m actually skeptical of, what I’ll call, Darwinian Evolution, that is that all the diversity of Earth life is the product of (mainly) random mutation and natural selection. But I’m open to the idea that ‘macro’ evolution occured — I just am doubtful that natural processes alone are adeqaute.

      As for whether God rested. What does it mean for God to rest? Theistic evolutions (generally) believe in a singular creation event. That is, that God did everything at the Big Bang, and he designed the universe so that it would naturally (by its laws) create life — that is life arose through natural processes. So, in that way, God rested from creation immediately.

      But again, what does it mean for God to rest from creation? What is the purpose of the sabbath? Didn’t God give man Sabbath for man to rest?

  5. I am one who goes out of my way to be visible on a Sunday morning with books that may be considered heretical by my conservative, charismatic evangelical community. Titles like:

    Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution by Karl W. Giberson, Losing My Religion: How I lost my Faith Reporting on Religion in America – and Found Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell, and today I could be seen with Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) by Bart D.Ehrman

    I started doing this more for those others who where becoming discouraged and sliding away from fellowship due to the seemingly lack of respect for thinking for one’s self then I did it for those who, if they see my reading material, either throw up a wall or pretend they did not notice in order not to deal with it.

    A side effect is that I feel I am slowly being pushed aside by the leadership of which I am a member.

    • I don’t usually bring books I’m reading to church, unless I’m letting someone borrow it. I did bring, “Love is an Orientation” to church last week to let my pastor borrow it and he apparently liked it.

      However, I am on GoodReads and have it connected to my Facebook account and people can see what I’m reading there. I don’t generally read a lot of books that Christians would find controversial, but I’m pretty confident that among both my friends and church family, I’d never hear a negative comment if it was. I actually recently read Saving Darwin (and didn’t care for it), and posted it to my Facebook. The only person that did comment was my pastor, but not negatively, he wondered what I thought about it (and no, there is no required understanding on how God created to be part of our church — it’s not even discussed).

      I think people in SoCal are just more tolerant — even when they don’t agree. I’m pretty politically liberal and have posted things on my FB — and even got some comments from church friends — but none would every accuse me of not being Christian or less-than because of my political beliefs. Heck, I remember when a church friend was reading The Golden Bough and had brought the book to Bible study to loan it to another friend.

      • You are very blessed, Kenny, that your friends have not questioned your salvation or at least your morality because you are of a more liberal persuasion than some of them politically. My friends have not actually done this (to my face, at least), but people I have attended church with for years certainly have. One such person suggested that I was on a “fast toboggan to hell” because she found out that I intended to vote for Obama and suggested that I was no longer “fit” to participate in the leadership of a women’s Bible study that I had been involved in for years – for that reason alone. Nice.

        I’d like to say that I was unaware that Christians had to vote all one way, or be damned, but of course, I was aware, and now am acutely aware.

        • Kenny Johnson says

          Wow. I honestly would have a hard time being part of a church family that treated me that way. Again, maybe because California is more liberal, the expectation of diversity in our churches is expected. In fact, most pastors I’ve heard speak here have acknowledged that there are both Democrats and Republicans in attendance… as well as USC and UCLA fans 🙂 and we can all get along. 🙂

          I became a Christian in my 20s. My first day at Bible study was Election Day 2000. I didn’t know any better and let everyone know I voted for Gore. I think there was some surprised looks, but I was always welcomed and eventually took over leadership of that same Bible study.