My Apologetic

Argue for and against Christianity

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Slopeshoulder
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My Apologetic

Post by Slopeshoulder »

As I've often said, I have no apologetic agenda; I don't care what people believe as long as it is life-giving, satisfying, reasonably worthy, thoughtful, harmless and sane.

But I do like religion, considered at its best. Yet I take anti-religionist's critiques very seriously and often agree. But let's say I'm in the mood to recommend religion. I've looked at apologetics and found it sadly wanting. So here's what I'd recommend, and I'm serious.

*

Pick a religion you find intriguing, or at least near at hand. Within it, find a few people you consider very intelligent, admirable, wise, or simply kickass. They could be theologians, or maybe writers, artists, activists, or some other thing. Read what they have to say, not only about religion, but about life and stuff in general. DON'T pay much mind to doctrinal formulations or logical arguments, set all that aside, feel free to disagree, but rather let their overall sensibility seep in, just get your head and heart around that. If you find it amenable, step into that mindset and the conversation around it. Viola.
Chances are you won't by this method become an ultra orthodox apologist, but you may find yourself in the conversation and in the community. Or a friendly fellow traveller or neighbor.

It will vary for everyone, but FWIW here's my list of people that did and do this for me (these are public figures within christianity, but there are others I look to in judaism, buddhism and elsewhere):
Kierkegaard, Dostoievski, Tolstory, Karl Jaspers, Paul Tillich, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Ludwig Wittgenstein (late), William Sloane Coffin, Gabriel Marcel, Reinhold Niebuhr, Graham Greene, Walker Percy, Evelyn Waugh, Sufjan Stevens, Bono, (some) David Wilcox, Thomas Keating, Wayne Teasdale, Anthony DeMello, Bede Griffiths, van Gogh (although he wasn't religious per se?), and some people like EJ Dionne, Jimmy Carter, Jim Wallis, and to my surprise maybe Ross Douthat. In the end, I just like "talking" with these people to one degree or another. That then leads to participation in a community of discourse or form of life (which is how Wittgenstein and the postliberal "Yale school" theologians characterize a religion). YMMV.

Of course, you may find you don't connect with any of it. Then, OK, cool (hell isn't mentioned in my apologetics).

*

So, if you're a non-theist, is this a non-starter, or is it somewhat amenable?
If you're a theist, what's the verdict (other than a lack of doctrinal and biblical content)?

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Moses Yoder
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Post by Moses Yoder »

If there was a God, a creator, would there be one true religion?

Religion normally contains a set of moral codes. The way I understand your process, people would be encouraged to develop their own moral code which could be totally irrelevant to everybody else's.

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JoeyKnothead
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Post by JoeyKnothead »

From the OP:
So, if you're a non-theist, is this a non-starter, or is it somewhat amenable?
I find your position perfectly reasonable, insofar as I may seek a guide to living.

I've found, from Slopeshoulder and others, an understanding that one can read the Bible, as a Christian - a good'n at that - in such a manner as to allow its lessons to seep in, without submitting to what I consider dogmatism or indoctrination. I find such to be a good thing.

In my travels about the county now, I'm more inclined to engage Christians on matters of faith and Bible, with a knowledge - borne exclusively from this site - that one can have an appreciation for the good book. I, accepting a charge of nefarity, attempt to steer such conversations away from "God says it, so there", and onto, "why might God wish it this way" (thanks cnorman18). In such conversations, I'll even oppose a given "God position", but do so with "God's own words".

As an amateur student of sociology and other disciplines, I'm starting to gain a real appreciation for the role religion plays - for the individual, and society as a whole. While I may rail against its abuses, danged if I can't say it may well be a "social glue".
Some say it came from Memphis down in Tennessee
Or it drifted in from Georgia about 1953
Just as long as it's greasy, as long as it's fast
As long as it's pumpin' honey, it's gonna last

It's the hillbilly rock, beat it with a drum
Playin' them guitars like shootin' from a gun
Keepin' up the rhythm, steady as a clock
Doin' a little thing called the hillbilly rock
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Slopeshoulder
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Post by Slopeshoulder »

Moses Yoder wrote:If there was a God, a creator, would there be one true religion?
That's not something I personally place a lot of emphasis on.
Religion normally contains a set of moral codes. The way I understand your process, people would be encouraged to develop their own moral code which could be totally irrelevant to everybody else's.
I didn't mean to imply that. I assume people would soak up the moral code, but more as an ethical framework then a set of rules.

Mr.Badham
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Re: My Apologetic

Post by Mr.Badham »

Slopeshoulder wrote:As I've often said, I have no apologetic agenda; I don't care what people believe as long as it is life-giving, satisfying, reasonably worthy, thoughtful, harmless and sane.
Who would disagree with this statement? The problem is that religious people honestly think their beliefs are all these things. I bet even the Westboro Baptist Church feels they are sane!!!

Is there anyone who feels their religion is not life giving, satisfying, reasonably worthy, thoughtful, harmless and sane? That's what faith is. Believing something wholeheartedly for no reason.

If I had to critique what you have written I think it would make sense if you said;

"I don't care what people believe as long as they open minds."

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Slopeshoulder
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Re: My Apologetic

Post by Slopeshoulder »

Mr.Badham wrote:
Slopeshoulder wrote:As I've often said, I have no apologetic agenda; I don't care what people believe as long as it is life-giving, satisfying, reasonably worthy, thoughtful, harmless and sane.
Who would disagree with this statement? The problem is that religious people honestly think their beliefs are all these things. I bet even the Westboro Baptist Church feels they are sane!!! Is there anyone who feels their religion is not life giving, satisfying, reasonably worthy, thoughtful, harmless and sane?
Very good point. So let's add "to the preponderance of outside observers and paid professionals." (For you postliberals out there, hopefully this allows for local truth and intra-group meaning and experience.)
That's what faith is. Believing something wholeheartedly for no reason.
Well that's another topic. But I'd say it can be that, but it is better when it is an "affective affirmation" or existential commitment based on some reasonable warrant.
If I had to critique what you have written I think it would make sense if you said;

"I don't care what people believe as long as they open minds."
Good. I agree. Thanks.

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