Well, if I can’t bring Mohammed to the mountain, I may as well bring the mountain to him! Rather than trying to persuade Alan to adopt my ground, I believe I ought to visit Alan on the ground that he has already staked out.
In particular, I suspect one of Alan’s greatest frustrations is that I don’t seem to fully appreciate his critiques of Christianity. So, while he works on the “reasons that [he] find Christian beliefs untenable“, I may as well join him and summarize the reasons that I find Christianity objectionable. [Read more], to see if we can at last find some overlap…
To avoid endless debates about definitions, I propose we explicitly limit the field of our critique to “Christianity As We Know It” (CAWKI), which basically means American Evangelicalism, or more broadly “historic orthodoxy as interpreted through the lens of Western Protestantism.” This partly due to necessity — after all, both Alan and I came out of that tradition. However, it also appropriate, since American Evangelicalism has interacted with modern rationalism far more than, say, Argentinean Pentecostalism or Ugandan Revivalism.
B. Love and Hate
Perhaps even Alan wouldn’t say he hates Christianity; nor do I, for that matter. In fact, it is because I love Christianity that that I hate those things which disfigure it. Unraveling that paradox may ultimately prove crucial to helping Alan understand my position. For now, though, hopefully seeing that I hate many of the same things he dislikes will help provide our sorely-lacking common ground.
With that out of the way, here in no particular order are my Top Ten gripes about Christianity-As-We-Know-It:
With all these problems, one might wonder why I still believe in Christianity at all! The short answer is that these are all human flaws, and not really peculiar to Christianity. The longer answer (which I took pains to make more verbose this time, Alan 🙂 is that I believe there is more to Christianity than this. In fact, it is precisely that “more” which provides the basis for this critique.
In other words, I honor Christianity as being worthy of critique, since it sets forth standards so high it can even judge itself!
So, my questions to Alan are:
Even if we can’t agree about Love, perhaps we can at least join in Hate! 🙂
— Ernie P.
P.S. I should confess that this is largely inspired by Chapter 3 of Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy, and partly for the same reason: I believe our authority to judge others stems directly from our ability to judge ourselves, and our willingness to be similarly judged.