The ‘biblical worldview’ doesn’t come from the Bible

Paul at Disoriented. Reoriented has a nice post today on “The Toxic Assumption of the ‘Biblical Worldview.’

He’s reading through the book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity … and Why It Matters, by David Kinnamon and Gabe Lyons of the evangelical Barna Group. Kinnamon and Lyons argue that a greater emphasis on a “biblical worldview” is what the church needs to stop hemorrhaging young people.

As Paul notes, this is a popular slogan, but an empty one. In the white evangelical subculture, “‘biblical worldview’ is something of a code for ‘conservative doctrine’ that treats the Bible as a fully applicable roadmap for life in the 21st century.”

The quest for a bit of content to such slogans often seems futile — a tour through an endless cycle of synonymous ciphers. What do you mean by “biblical”? Conservative. OK, then what do you mean by “conservative”? Orthodox. OK, then what do you mean by “orthodox”? Evangelical. OK, then what do you mean by “evangelical”? Biblical. …

Happily, Kinnamon and Lyons take the unusual step of actually enumerating what they mean by a “biblical worldview,” listing the eight essential vitamins and nutrients they say it must entail.

Unhappily, this list is, as Paul says, “a hot mess.”

Here is what they provide as the eight elements of a “biblical worldview”:

  1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
  2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and he still rules it today.
  3. Salvation is a gift from God, and it cannot be earned.
  4. Satan is real.
  5. A Christian has a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people.
  6. The Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.
  7. Unchanging moral truth exists.
  8. Such moral truth is defined by the Bible.

“Faith, hope, and love abide, these three,” the Apostle Paul wrote, “and the greatest of these is love.”

But faith, hope and love do not abide in this “biblical worldview.”

Love — the greatest of these, the most excellent way, the imperative of the greatest commandment and the second which is like unto it — is apparently not an essential element to a “biblical” worldview.

Seriously, what book were these guys reading? Because it sure wasn’t the Bible.

Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God. … Not part of a “biblical worldview.”

For I was hungry and you fed me. … Not part of a “biblical worldview.”

For God so loved the world. … Not part of a “biblical worldview.”

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. … Not part of a “biblical worldview.”

Is not this the biblical worldview that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

We could also critique those elements that did make the cut in Kinnamon and Lyons’ list — such as the perverse choice to emphasize Jesus’ moral purity as his most essential attribute, as though this leper-hugging, Sabbath-breaking, woman-touching, dead-embracing friend of prostitutes and tax collectors wanted us to turn him into the standard-bearer for the very holiness-as-avoidance purity system he trespassed and trampled as routinely as breathing.

But there’s no need to nitpick. Kinnamon and Lyons took eight swings at the question of what constitutes a “biblical worldview” and whiffed on love every time. I am agape at this lack of agape.

If “the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches,” then this idea of a “biblical worldview” that hath not love is a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. It is nothing. It gains nothing. Whoever does not love does not know God.

This isn’t complicated. It’s not a trick question.

Love.

Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

Any discussion of a “biblical worldview” has to begin with love. And it has to end with love. Love is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of it. He said so himself.

I don’t know where Kinnamon and Lyons got their “biblical worldview,” but it isn’t from the Bible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Actually points 6, 7, 8 can and should encompass Faith, Hope, & Charity, emphasize that “I was hungry, and you fed me”, would proclaim indeed that God Loves The World. 
    Point 5 is another important one, and the best way to share faith is through helping others, considering others.
    It all depends how you interpret things.

    Also, call me a word-nazi, but are you using “agape” to mean “aghast”? Sounds to me like you’re trying to say “I am aghast at the lack of agape” or “I stand agape at the lack of agape.”

  • P J Evans

    Salvation is a gift from God, and it cannot be earned.

    So, faith, but not works. Explains why they don’t seem to believe in any kind of giving to others.

  • http://www.joshbarkey.com/ josh barkey

    I’d wager a guess that their omission of love might have something to do with the fact that — as much as these sorts of chaps will try to avoid admitting it to themselves — people who are NOT just exactly like them, theologically, still seem to be somehow capable of loving.

    They’ll wordplay their “general atonement” garbage all day if you call them on it, but it’s a sticky point better off left at the periphery. Too hard to legislate. Too hard to CONTROL. And if there’s one thing our young people need… it’s to be controlled.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    Sigh. We build these communities centered around one person’s interpretation of the Bible, and then anyone who reads the Bible as it was intended is attacking the Bible.

  • http://twitter.com/ysqure3 John Magnum

    Points six, seven, and eight are a single point, biblical inerrancy, smeared out over nearly half the list. And since they’re attempting to explain and define the substance of the Biblical worldview, saying “The Biblical worldview is do what the Bible says” is not enormously helpful. Note that their list isn’t saying “The Bible inerrantly proclaims that the greatest principle is love”, just “The Bible inerrantly proclaims”. There’s nothing in there about the substance of those principles and moral truths, just the metatextual assertion that the Bible contains them.

  • walden

    That’s a terrible list for a “biblical worldview”. 
    I actually think only #3 is fully consistent with such a view – and that, only if paired with “faith without works is dead”.
    Almost everything else on this list is bibliolatry of a particularly narrow sort….

    I don’t even think the first one is accurate — although necessary for certain views of atonement that require JC to be the lamb without spot.

    This list doesn’t even contain the basics of Christian doctrine: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”  Nor the “good news”.   Bleaahhhhh.

  • Marcion

    To be extremely generous to Kinnamon and Lyons, they might be trying to work the Old Testament into their “Biblical Worldview.” Love is… Less emphasized there. That being said, if that’s the case, then staying away from mixed fibers, shellfish and menstruating women needs to be somewhere on that list. Maybe in the next edition.

    What really surprises me is that the bible blatantly contradicts itself on something like half of those points, but they still say that the bible is inerrant. Did they even read the bible before defining their “Biblical Worldview”?

  • http://reasondecrystallized.blogspot.com/ extremities

    Here I take issue.  I agree with you that love is a superior path, but I don’t agree that it’s the Biblical path.  Some people take the Bible, and, like you, use it to justify the basic goodness within themselves.  Some people, like Al Mohler let’s say, take the same Bible and use it to justify their own prejudice, bigotry, tribalism, and lust for power.

    Who am I to decide between them?  Biblegod orders genocide, and also sent his own son to die for us … to save us from what he would have had to do to us otherwise.  The Bible ascribes both wise moral commandments and some of the vilest atrocities imaginable to its chief character; the only way to avoid seeing the contradiction is to come to the table precommitted to the notions that god is good and the Bible is an important route to connecting with him.   Abandon those–or at least question them–and you can avoid the mental backflips and view it as a conflicted, man-made historical artifact.
    Let me come at the question more pithily: “biblical” morality or “biblical” thinking is a incoherent mess which no one follows in toto.  Everyone lives by their own inner lights and use the Bible to justify them after the fact; liberals admit this, conservatives deny it.  Liberal believers like to exegesis their way out of all the nasty things the Bible it says.  Conservatives just deny that they are, in fact, nasty.

  • flat

    hello God, Flat here: sorry that we suck so much at doing your will.

  • Figs

     But…if without faith you are not saved, and once you get faith you are saved, isn’t faith earning you that salvation? Like, there’s a precondition to that gift from God. A price. That price is faith. Or am I wrong somehow?

  • Jim Roberts

    When making rules, there should be considerably less intepretation than is necessary to read this list as endorsing love. After all, if you take these rules exactly literally (which you’re supposed to, see point 6), then that means you probably shouldn’t be telling Fred how to interpret Scripture, what with you being a woman and he being a man.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Meh, my Lutheran church said it was faith, not works. However, they said that if you had faith, you would do works. Not doing works was proving that you had no faith. Further, look at the wonderful stuff God has given you, and God loves you, and God will be so very very disappointed in you if you don’t do good things. Lots of good things, only good things, live your life for others every second of every day, and kick yourself in the head whenever you fail to live up to perfection. God still loves you, even though you’re disgusting and make the baby Jesus cry. 

    The doctrine of faith, not works, means that nothing can ever be proven. That can lead to the idea lots of right-wing Christians seem to have, that works don’t matter and can in fact be a bad thing. Or it can lead to a constant nervousness and self-hatred because you aren’t good enough for God. A Puritan minister described it as like a spider held over a the flame of a candle. 

  • JRoth95

    I laughed out loud (boy that’s a lot of typing; I should try to shorten that) at “agape at this lack of agape.” I was also reminded of the first time I saw the word written, which was on hand-lettered signs with arrows stapled to telephone poles in a industrial/warehouse area of Miami. My RCC church was charismatic enough that I’d heard the word, but had no idea how it was spelled (I was about 10), and either my parents hadn’t either or they just thought it was funny to play along. Anyway, it was simply hilarious to see these signs directing drivers to someplace that either was or would cause them to be agape.

  • Enoch Root

    Quoth: “Kinnamon and Lyons argue that a greater emphasis on a “biblical worldview” is what the church needs to stop hemorrhaging young people.”

    I argue that a greater emphasis on understanding the divine and oneself is what a person and their community might need in order to have a better life.

    Within the context of keeping an institution full of people, however, it might make total sense to avoid cultivating compassion and understanding. After all, look at North Korea.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    5. A Christian has a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people.

    When someone asks, what does faith in Christ mean, what can anyone following this list answer? There is nothing about what Jesus taught on it. 

    6. The Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.

    Stone disobedient children. Love thy neighbor. Judge not lest ye be judged. Kill thy neighbor and all they neighbor’s children and cattle and sow thy neighbor’s field with salt. Women are filthy about 1/4 of the time. Slaves, obey your masters. It is as likely for a rich man to get into heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. There is no longer male nor female. God has shown me I should call no one unclean.  Honor thy father and they mother. Leave your father’s dead body to rot and follow me. 

    How do they expect to keep any children in their church after said children become literate? Or do they expect said children to never ever read the Bible, even though the Bible is supposed to be so important? It’s been at least a couple hundred years since reading the Bible was the province of an elite few, but that is the only way they can possibly succeed in this. Which, to this former Lutheran, looks like medieval Catholicism, not related to Protestant teachings at all.

  • AnonymousSam

    Let’s see. I wonder which message kids, teenagers and young adults are most likely to respond to?

    1) God has a list of rules. He wants you to follow all of them, and trust me, you don’t want to find out what happens if you break them. And you will break them. You’ll break every single one of them, because you’re a disgusting, vile piece of dung beneath God’s notice, and only fervent, desperate prayer on your part can pull you out of that. Good luck!

    2) God loves you, kid. You and every beaten, tired, bullied sod out there. In the end, he always sides with you. These other people? They get their shot, and who knows, maybe they don’t learn from it. You know the great secret, though. In the end, they’re never the ones who win.

    I know which one I’d have preferred to hear when I was young.
    I know which one kept me a Christian-hating atheist until I found this blog.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I believed in #2 when I was a teenager. It did me no good, and in fact probably did me harm. Teaching people that they’re better than others always does harm. Also, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people all the time. I guess “in the end” could mean “after you’re dead”, but I’ve never exactly found that inspirational. I didn’t want my enemies to burn in hell (I didn’t believe in hell anyway), I wanted them to stop hurting me now. And Christianity never led me to a way to know how to do that, or even to allow me to want them to do that.

    I only found love when I became an atheist. Because that is when I started to believe I was allowed to love myself and do what I needed to do to stop other people from hurting me.

  • Lunch Meat

    The Bible is not the gospel, nor is it the foundation for a Christian life.

    Actually points 6, 7, 8 can and should encompass Faith, Hope, &
    Charity, emphasize that “I was hungry, and you fed me”, would proclaim
    indeed that God Loves The World.
    Point 5 is another important one, and the best way to share faith is through helping others, considering others.
    It all depends how you interpret things.

    The problem is that “unchanging moral truth in the Bible” is code for “gays, feminists, environmentalists, and liberals are evil”, not “love each other and feed the hungry.”

    This reminds me of the time I posted a hypothetical question on facebook, “If you and a group of people were stranded on a desert island with no books or other sources for morality and/or philosophy, what 3-5 principles would you want to make sure your kids learned, above all others?” (The idea being that if we distill the Christian faith down to the most important points that we absolutely could not go without, a lot of the stuff we focus on wouldn’t be there.) One person replied, “the 10 commandments as the foundation of morality.” I tried to explain the point is that you can’t refer to the ten commandments without having the text of the ten commandments. He didn’t get it.

  • AnonymousSam

    First of all: I wish you could have had a better youth, and that it hadn’t led into a life of constantly knowing that there are people how would pat themselves on the back while taking away your rights and the treatment you need. My life took a pretty steep dive while in school and I know all about having enemies you can’t stop or escape. Being different has always put me in a situation where the vast majority of people have no empathy for my situation and think I brought it on myself. You’re right that religion, when misused, can aggravate one’s feelings of helplessness.

    Was what you were taught a more progressive message, or the standard “Christians are better than non-Christians” message? I was aiming for more something like what Fred would want to pass down to his kids if they were in the kinds of situations that kids and teens have to deal with all the time (see that bullying thread earlier today). I know if I had to do it all over again, a progressive Christian message might have helped me a great deal, and certainly better than the threat of divine retribution on top of everything else.

    I still count myself as an atheist, albeit one with a creed. The best I can do is hypothesize what message might have caused that to not be the case, and for me, it would have had to be a positive one, as my life had very few positives. Feeling like someone was on my side might have helped a great deal, since it often seemed like no one else was.

  • Carstonio

    None of the items in Kinnamon and Lyons’ alleged “biblical worldview” have anything about the kind of world the worldview-holder wants to live in. I would welcome a world where folks follow the principles listed in the Isaiah quote (and I only know the source from from Googling) whether they belong to Christianity or Judaism or any other religion.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     The people who tend to come up with lists like this often refer to people who don’t believe them as “wishy-washy” people who believe “anything” – those new age, hippie types who don’t actually value truth at all and think all religions are the same. (In other words, your typical non-RTC in the Left Behind books.)

    Well… I quite often go to church and recite the Apostle’s Creed. Which I firmly believe to be the truth. It’s not that I don’t value truth – it’s just that I don’t agree with their particular “biblical worldview” list.

    Unfortunately, if I told them that, I doubt they’d believe me. After all, if I valued truth, I’d obviously think they were right.

  • Will Hennessy

    Fred, you subversive little shit. Don’t you know what a dangerous game you’re playing here? I mean, Jesus talked about love all the time, and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.

  • Will Hennessy

    Or, to put it another way:

    “Peter Pumpkinhead put to shame
    Governments who would slur his name,
    Plots and sex scandals failed outright,
    Peter merely said, ‘Any kind of love is alright.’”

    -XTC

  • Lunch Meat

    By the way, unless you posit an extreme view of biblical inspiration, that God literally dictated the words of the Bible to the writers, then 6 and 8 definitely cannot be true. The Bible did not exist when the Bible was written, so the Bible cannot say anything about itself, unless one of the writers knew not only that their own book would be canonized but also the identity of and information contained in every other book canonized. This would only be true if God had given said writer a prophesy, which we have no reason to believe.

  • http://twitter.com/WayofCats WayofCats

    To me, stuff like this explains why so many fundamentalists don’t think too much, and can’t apply logic and reason. What they are required to believe does not lend itself to thinking.

  • Lunch Meat

    I should clarify; 6 and 8 could be true, but it could not be true that “the Bible says 6 and 8.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    It might give hope to see that more than a few Christians are wising up to such a loveless, legalistic approach, I always get some hope, and often a laugh, whenever I visit the Stuff Fundies Like website, stufffundieslike.com

  • LoneWolf343

     “Agape” also means “mouth hanging open.”

  • walden

    the apparent Biblical Worldview (or at least Kinnamon/Lyons tests 6-8):

    “For everything there is a prooftext
    And a verse for every purpose under heaven.”

  • walden

    And this one is just weird: “Satan is real”

    Required belief in satan? A character who at most shows up in an occasional book, and doesn’t appear in most.   I can see these guys want to update the creed (“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty…..and in that other guy, the really bad one with the evil laugh”)

  • AnonymousSam

    Possibly? IIRC there’s a bit in Exodus where God commands Moses to celebrate the completion of the Torah. You know, that collection of books, none of which were written when he said that?

  • JonathanPelikan

    I came to slacktivist before you started in on  the first LB movie; I’d say you were most of the way through book 1 when I leapt aboard… and ever since then, Fred, I’ve been reading pretty steadily. I can’t thank you enough, because I’ve gone from an atheist with more than a little intolerance towards Christianity because I’d been seeing and feeling the blunter, dumber, antiChristian end of it… to the sort of atheist who can scroll that list and, before reading any of your commentary, poked some of the major issues with it, such as the absence of love or hope in this set of Christian rules.

    It reads a lot like what a Judge Dredd sort of Lawful Neutral deity might lay out. Here are The Rules; feel how you like, have hope or not, I don’t give a shit, but so fucking help you if you break The Rules… Which, when you come down to it, is a startlingly frank and honest admission about something that fundies typically try to always hide and soften and lie (often to themselves) about.

    I’m actually surprised that ‘Hell exists’ wasn’t on that list somewhere to make the ‘or else’ even more explicit, even though the point still gets across rather well.

  • Ralovett

    I have just discovered that I must be a flaming liberal. I just assumed that “love” and the other things Fred mentions were what numbers 6, 7, and 8 were about. That is, that these were the accurate, unchanging, moral truths defined by the Bible. 

  • http://www.gyrofrog.com/ Gyrofrog

    When I was young, our church had a weekly meeting called “Agape Circle.”  Whenever I saw that in the bulletin, it never failed to amuse me, the mental image of people sitting in a circle, mouths hanging open in unspecified astonishment…

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    A Christian has a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people.

    This struck me in a way that the idea has never really struck me before.  This is, really, one of the key ideas of Evangelical Christianity and it’s also the most ass-backwards way of doing things I can imagine.

    Ever since I left the church I’ve realized more and more that I am, in fact, an evangelist for all kinds of things.  I tell people about bands I like and books that I enjoyed and TV shows that are great.  But never once has it occurred to me to say that the appropriate way to get people to listen to a band is by stopping at sharing my enjoyment of the band with that person.

    I could sit here all day and say, “Man, Sons of Bill is an awesome band.  I love listening to their music.”  I could tell you about the times I’ve seen them.  I could talk until I’m blue in the face about my appreciation for Sons of Bill and it won’t actually matter.  If I’m only sharing my particular appreciation for Sons of Bill I’m just using Sons of Bill as a vehicle to talk about myself.  So you might walk away thinking, “Man, that guy really likes Sons of Bill,” but you’re not walking away thinking about Sons of Bill.  That seems like an important nuance, doncha think?

    It’s a much more effective tactic to say, “Hey, you know what band is awesome?  Sons of Bill.  Get you some:”

    http://youtu.be/XDPAEANFP9w

    (And, yes, I see what I did there.)

  • Gotchaye

     Absolutely.  I’m no longer surprised when someone tells me with a straight face that they “believe there’s an objective morality” as if that’s somehow interesting or useful information after they get some push-back on some particular claim about homosexuality or women or the evils of socialism.

    To my mind, this is the best evidence there is for the usefulness of a strong liberal arts education.  Lots of people obviously care a great deal about questions like “what sort of thing is morality?” and “what do other people think about morality?”  It pains me that they so thoroughly lack the intellectual tools needed to think about those questions, even as they (correctly, IMO) believe that the answers to these questions are among the most important things to know.

  • Will Hennessy

    On another note (perhaps a more serious and pointed one), I’m finding it both amusing and sickening at this trend in “non-denominational”  Evangelical churches of proclaiming themselves things like ‘the church of love’ or ‘the chapel of love’ (though, I think they missed the connection to the song from back in the day), when their behavior outside of their little right-wing evangelical box is anything but loving. At best they’re openly condemning of behavior that they don’t consider “pure” and, at worst, they’re faux-loving, pretending to care for the well-being of their gay or Wiccan or simply non-believer neighbors while calmly insinuating that they believe you’re a sinner bound for hell because of your lifestyle. Deceptively loving. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

  • Thebewilderness

    That is so weird, cuz that is of what they are currently teaching and doing that is not working to fill the church with the young.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     That is so weird, cuz that is of what they are currently teaching and
    doing that is not working to fill the church with the young.

    The overlap between Evangelicals and Republicans is most obvious when you realize they’re response to pretty much everything is, “Do the same thing, but do it harder this time!”

    And, erm, feel free to acknowledge the sexual innuendo there.  Or innuendon’t.

  • John

    Dear Geds, you have converted me to your Sons of Bill religion. Thanks for showing me the way!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    To me, stuff like this explains why so many fundamentalists don’t think
    too much, and can’t apply logic and reason. What they are required to
    believe does not lend itself to thinking.

    Not exactly. It doesn’t lend itself to thinking to believe something that is merely incoherent. But to believe things which are actively and patently opposed to easily observable reality actually requires quite a lot of thinking. Constant mental gymnastics in order to keep reality out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    I can’t see any reason to list out anything other than 2 and 3, as they trump everything else.

    I mean, if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, is running the show, and you can’t earn salvation from him, why does anything else matter?

    Seriously, fuck it.  Do what you want – God is just going to sort it out anyway, so what difference does it make?  You’re not going to earn brownie points by emulating the sinless life of Jesus, or by sharing your faith, or by sticking to those unchanging moral principles.  As for Satan, refer back to number 2.  Satan’s existence or non-existence is irrelevant in the face of the all-powerful God who is in charge.

    ETA: Now, if they had opted to add a qualifier to 3 and phrased it something like, “Salvation is a gift from God, and it cannot be earned; however, there are certain prerequisites you must meet to qualify for receiving that gift,” then it would have made sense to go on and list those prerequisites. Of course, then they should have listed 2 as 1 and 3 as 2. They also would still need to add some sort of reason for mentioning the sinless life of Jesus, because even then, as now, it sort of leads one to think, “That’s nice. And?”

    Of course, even with that, to Fred’s point, they’d end up missing the boat and trying to find a way to emulate Jesus’s ability to walk on water…

  • AnonymousSam

    Not sure about that. When something forces itself upon them, maybe. I’ve seen a number of fundamentalists who seem to view even thinking about something as challenging the moral authority of their leaders/the Bible/God, though. And then there’s people like Ginny, who boast about not listening…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I am agape at this lack of agape.

    Okay, give it up, guys. The best sentence of 2013 has been written.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As I pointed out in another recent thread, Altemeyer noted that what fundamentalist Christians are doing is not so much defending what the Bible actually says but what they think it should be about, and nothing, not even the Bible itself will make them think otherwise.  

    This does remind me of something that happened to me one Sunday afternoon few weeks ago, when a guy tried witnessing to me at the bus stop (ironically I was heading to see the musical The Book of Mormon at that time.)  I engaged with the fellow a bit, rather than rebuke him out of hand, because I did not want him to feel like his efforts were wasted, and I did not want to push him further into his hole of religious security by chasing him away from the heathen “Other”.  We went back and forth, and I explained to him a few things I had learned from this very blog (thank you Fred!)  

    However, what I could not really figure out was exactly what it was he wanted from me.  He made his assertions about Jesus being sinless and dying for our sins, etc, but I did not really understand what he was asking me to believe or do.  What was the point?  I suspected that the conversation would have gone on indefinitely if my bus had not arrived.  

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    And to compound your point, there is the problem of the various canons of the various Churches.

  • P J Evans

    ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ by Jonathan Edwards.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Meh, my Lutheran church said it was faith, not works. However, they said that if you had faith, you would do works.

    I always thought that the order of that was the other way around.  That is, you do good works in order to build faith.  The works are kind of a meditation, a way of making yourself more spiritually pure in the eyes of God, not because of your work itself, but because of the lessons you learned doing that work.  Do good works for other people, see the gratitude and love you spread in doing so, and know that you are a more faithful person for having done it.  

  • P J Evans

     The class where we got into that kind of question was intro to political philosophy – although it was ethics we were discussing.

  • AnonymousSam

    Oh, oof. My American Thought and Literature teacher had us read that as one of the very first things in the class. I struggled so badly. Between that and a little poem which could be summarized as “my baby son died and this makes me very happy because he’s with God now”, I thought that class was going to be–no pun intended–Hell.

    Thankfully, then we got to Anne Bradstreet, who could be called the first published American feminist, and the instructor made it clear that she was his favorite writer of that era.


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