Monday, March 31, 2008

For a mess of pottage

S.M. Hutchens reacts to an account of a young woman, raised in an Evangelical home, who in a university environment has discovered that "nothing I was taught had been right." Hutchens is doubtful that the typical loss of faith among those in her circumstance is really consequent on intellectual disillusionment:
.... My guess is that she is typical of the many young Evangelicals who have also discovered, the statistics tell us, something else at college: sex without marriage, which she wishes to have, also contrary to her Christian upbringing, without guilt, repentance, or amendment of life. Experienced pastors, when faced with students who “lose their faith” at college, do not begin to argue back with them on matters philosophical or theological. They inquire into “lifestyle” issues in the attempt to ascertain whether there is a release to be gained from overthrowing the faith in which they were raised. There usually is. Real intellectual difficulties can normally be neutralized in favor of further study through reasoned discourse with educated believers who have entertained the same doubts - but only in the presence of a conscience that gains nothing from discovery that orthodox Christianity is wrong.

There is also this: If a person has come to believe, say, that Evangelicalism or conservative Presbyterians or Baptist preachers who get too mixed up with politics are wrongheaded, or that Francis and Edith Schaeffer had certain problems which detract from their credibility, a modicum of native intelligence - to which such people always profess, their difficulties, they always tell us, being the result of intellectual probing - should tell them these are not the only Christian witnesses available - only provided they are interested in any kind of Christian witness at all.

....[P]ull down some Barth or Kierkegaard or Thomas Aquinas or Chesterton or Pelikan or Guardini or Tournier or Seraphim Rose or Calvin or Tozer or Reardon or Luther or Pascal or Wojtyla or Lewis. Why are your referents, the people to whose wisdom you are now referring in apposition to that with which you have been raised, suddenly now non-Christians, gay persons, and [!] pot-smokers — may we also add the sexually promiscuous? — and the like? It would seem that if one calls oneself a Christian it would be honest to give Christianity a chance first. [more]
Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments: Not Your Father's Christianity--Or Anybody Else's

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