Here I Don’t Stand

This I do not believe, God help me, I just cannot.

The wonderful world of the Internet oddly has led to a kind of “hardening” of possibilities for some folk. Too often there is a package response to everything: if I vote for Mitt Romney, I must not believe in global warming. If I believe in global warming, I must think humans are the primary cause. If I believe humans are the cause, I must embrace certain solutions. If I am a Christian, then I must be Republican . . . to make matters worse I am, but not because it is necessary to my Faith.

I have tried to make a list of things people keep thinking I believe, or must believe, that I just cannot believe. Perhaps, nobody will care, but my thought is that at least it will give just one more example to what is a general truth: most people don’t fit neat ideological categories.

So here is a reverse creed, things I simply cannot believe, but people keep assuming I do believe. For most of these positions (or non-positions) I have argued elsewhere. This isn’t an argument, but a list of heart cries.

This list may grow over time as one man’s complaint against stereotyping.

Everyone who disagrees with me is uninformed, a liar, or invincibly ignorant.

There are uninformed people, liars, and those immune to any argument. I have met them in the church, amongst atheists, and in both parties. However, I have met people in every group, I think are wrong, but are reasonable, honest, and following the argument the best they can.

I wish the world was as simple as this motto makes it.

Conservation is a liberal idea.

From the command in Sacred Scripture to be stewards of nature to the description of creation as “good,” it is hard to understand anyone eager to despoil nature. If God created something even in a broken world, Christians should hesitate to destroy it.

With Tolkien, I despise the orcish desire to cut down trees indiscriminately. C.S. Lewis was right: some progress is just going bad.

I believe conservation and creation care are Christian duties.

The Civil War was not primarily about slavery and there is a case for the justice of the Confederate cause.

Any big event has complex causes and the Civil War was a very big event, but I believe that without slavery there would have been no Civil War. Every contemporary Southern source I read gets back to a defense of “property” as the cause of the War, the right being threatened, and the only property under attack was human property.

The cause of the Union was just.

All the ideas in the Founding were from Christians or the Bible and are (nearly) infallible.

I believe the Constitution of 1789 was a brilliant document, but sorely in need of amendment: as the first ten amendments prove was a common opinion in 1789. Allowing for slavery was wrong and by the time of the Founding was known by good men to be wrong.

Classical Roman, Greek ideas along with Enlightenment philosophy influenced the Founders. Christianity was the single largest influence on their view of reality, but even there the Founders got some of it wrong.

Christian philosopher and apologist John Locke was a major influence on the Founders, so the idea Christianity was not involved in the Founding is equally absurd, but I meet such extremists less frequently.

The Bible has the answer to every problem.

The Bible is true in what it intends to communicate, but it does not intend to communicate every truth. Some modern problems cannot have been directly addressed in Sacred Scriptures, though principles there help us determine what a Christian should do.

It goes beyond this, however, to issues such as epistemology. While the Bible may imply certain ideas about what is knowledge, I don’t see a Biblical epistemology anymore than I see a Biblical form of government.

Christians have freedom to experiment in both areas I think. I am not a Platonist or a Republican, because I am a Christian, though I think my views compatible with Christianity. These are my positions based on a prudence or what seems true at the moment.

Old books have nothing to tell me.

Some problems are new, but not all problems are new. The notion that human nature has changed is difficult for me to accept and so wise old books hold promise for learning something.

Christians have no duty to help the poor.

The Bible and all of Church history agree: Christians have a duty to help the poor. A man cannot ignore the poor and be righteous before God. The question for a modern Christian is not: “Should I help the poor?” but “How best should the poor be helped?”

Christians may disagree on means, but should not disagree on the end.

Some human lives are not worth living.

I have never met a human being from whom I could not learn or that was “unworthy” of love.

Feminism was a bad idea.

Feminism gave women the vote and works to secure equal justice before the law. Those are good things. There are many forms of “feminism,” many are intriguing, and none should be dismissed easily. Being “against” feminism is like being “against” Christianity: it begs the question, “Which version?”

I believe men and women are equally created in the Divine Image and a person cannot see God’s image without male and female.

Failure to ordain women is inconsistent with justice.

Different roles, as in a play, seem consistent with justice. I am unpersuaded that “governance” roles must be tied to sacramental roles and so support women in leadership, but not women in the priesthood.

A person, any person, should be defined by desire.

I do not distrust desires, but I do not sanctify them either. I hope never to define myself or anyone else by what they want. I do not think desire saves or damns.

I know particular people will be damned.

I hope every individual will see God and live and that no particular person will perish. Christianity teaches me that not all will choose life, but I am in no position to determine which persons have made that choice.

The moment of death is invisible to me after all!

Young-earth creationism and a global flood are core doctrines of the Faith. A person cannot believe in “evolution” and be a Christian or you must “believe” in evolution to be reasonable.

The great creeds of the Church, summarizing the mind of the early Church, do not bind me to a young-earth or to a global flood. I am free to speculate in that area.

Similarly, I do not so reverence “science” of the moment that speculation about alternatives to consensus science are ruled out. I like my philosophy of science open as I hope my mind is.

Surely, many things on this list of “don’t believes” and “beliefs” will stir disagreement. Nobody is likely to agree with all of it, but that is the joy of living. Having adopted a position, I am trying (with fear and trembling!) to work it out consistently.

Lord Jesus Christ son of God have mercy on me a sinner.