What Actually Happens at Baptism? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This week’s Question That Haunts Christianity comes from Drew:

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Slavoj Žižek and the Illusion of Religion

Brilliant philosopher or crazy homeless man? You decide.

I’m getting audited, which I can tell you completely sucks. And I’m getting audited for three years of tax returns, which means triple the pain — it’s like getting an enema with thumb tacks. I’ll write about it more sometime.

But because of that, I need a couple more days to chew on and answer this week’s Question That Haunts — it’s a good one. In the meantime, here’s a fantastic guest post by Zane Schertz, following up on last week’s post about Slavoj Žižek. About himself, he says, “I am a death of God theologian. I am currently studying dialectical materialism, and Jacques Lacan’s stade du miroir. My main theological influences are Thomas Altizer, Slavoj Žižek, Soren Kierkegaard, George Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Drew Sumrall. You can find me on my blog and on Twitter.” Here’s Zane:

In the theological realm there has been much discussion over Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek. What makes this a bit of anomaly is that Zizek is a self described atheist. So the next logical question is, what can an atheist teach us about theology and the Christian walk? Well, first we must understand there are many varying forms of atheism. Just as there are many varying forms of Christianity, Judaism and so on. So before we dive in, understand that to lump Zizek in with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens and so on, is to lump Tony in with Mark Driscoll. It’s irresponsible and we will ultimately miss what Zizek is saying.

Slavoj Zizek is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and a professor of philosophy and psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School. Now Zizek is a character to say the least. His style is manic, ugly, and all over the map. Have you ever had so many thoughts going on in your brain that your mouth can’t keep up? I assume Zizek spends all of his waking moments in this state. He just talks and talks and talks and talks and talks [you get the point] and within that time he jumps from topic to topic to topic to topic. So needless to say, more times than not it’s difficult to keep up with his thoughts and antics. However, when he gets dialed in, there is no one person more brilliant, exciting, and passionate than Zizek.

I asked Tony if I could guest post here to discuss how this atheist madman can and should be implemented into modern theology and Christianity. My goal is to be as coherent as possible, but when discussing Zizek this sometimes becomes a bit difficult. So I am currently thinking maybe I bit of more than I can chew. Anyway, here is my best effort to explain Christian [atheism] as Zizek sees it:

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Barry Taylor’s Faith (after the death of God)

Barry Taylor

Barry Taylor is someone I respect very much. He’s written a wonderful post about where he thinks the Christian faith is going after the death of God and the death of the self (what I would call the death of metaphysics). Here’s a taste:

It would seem that the consciousness of the world has changed. Mark I. Wallace, in his book, Fragments of the Spirit, names both the ‘de-priviledging of metaphysics’ and the ‘erasure of the self’ as two significant challenges to Christianity in the third millennium. What does this mean? Well to me, it heralds a shift in human self-understanding away from the subjective and static view of the self, bequeathed to us by the Greeks and others that has driven our understanding of the self for centuries. I believe this is being eclipsed by a more mobile and fluid understanding of the self, where inwardness is not of prime focus. Two things going on for me–we can reference ourselves without a working hypothesis of God (Vattimo) and we can now consider ourselves without the anthropocentric impulse of the Enlightenment.

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Law and Prayer and Sin and Homosexuality [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

Questions That Haunt Christianity came back with a vengeance this week. Wow. I’m especially grateful to William Birch, who asked the question, for being so engaged in the comment section — you should go read them all.

William’s question was:

If God hates homosexuality so much, then why won’t He deliver me from it?

Many commenters took exception to the way that William posed the question. They didn’t like the “If…then…” formula, because if you reject the conditional clause at the beginning, then there’s nothing else to talk about. But everyone worked through that, since this is obviously a personal and haunting question for William (and many others).

For beginners, I’m going to agree with premises that William stated in the comment section. Even though I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly affirm these premises, they’re essential to answering the question in the way that William intends it:

  • The words of Leviticus and the words of Paul cannot be pitted against the words/thoughts of God. If it’s in the Bible, we’re going to assume that God intended it to be there.
  • God does actually hate some things.
  • God does actually answer prayers and deliver people from things that vex them.

With those as background, here’s my response:

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