My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

04 December 2007

Stupidity not necessary for conversion

As Christianity penetrated the well educated society of Alexandria, the choice for the convert seemed too often to be between clever, eloquently defended heresy on the one side and a dim, obscurantist orthodoxy on the other. It was one of Clement's principal achievements to render this dilemma unreal and irrelevant...

-Henry Chadwick, The Early Church, 95

10 comments:

Kurt said...

So, when we admire the mental "cleverness" or "brilliance" of writings like The Golden Compass - is this the Old Man or the New Man in Christ speaking to us?

Tamara said...

Both. Didn't Christ say we wouldn't overcome this battle till we die. Or am I confused again.

Kurt said...

Thanks for making my point, Tamara. Confusion can reign, even in the Godly, when we admire anti-Christian material exhibiting worldly "cleverness" or "brilliance" that really should be condemned for having no redeeming value in our walk with Christ.

"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Jared said...

Huh? Kurt, your original comment makes absolutely no sense in light of the original post. What's the connection? Or were you just looking for a place to voice your opinions on Pullman's books?

Kurt said...

The concepts of "Christianity penetrating well-educated society" and the use of the "clever" the "eloquent" and "stupidity" it just naturally (no pun intended) brought to mind that it is not the "cleverness" and the "brilliance" of the worldly that our New Man should be admiring but the "foolishness" of the Good News. It's all about the content, not the delivery:

"Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption..."

Jared said...

Okay, but I think the original quote from Chadwick shows that while we boast only in the cross of Christ and glory in the foolishness of the gospel, we are not called to give up thinking or interacting with the world. This is why we can read Pullman to our profit - not just to find a fun (and yes, clever) story, but to sharpen our minds by bringing them onto the battlefield and out of the training grounds of our theology books.

One of the great faux pas of 20th century Christianity was the "fundamentalist" movement, especially in its alienation from the world. Instead of learning how to live in the world and fight the battles of faith and reason, Christians just pulled away, stopped reading "worldly" books, started going to "Bible colleges" instead of public universities... and the church lost her witness to anyone who desired to use their mind in their chosen religion. It seems you would make the same mistake, of keeping us holed up with our theology books and Christian literature, sure to never get near the stain of the world.

Kurt said...

” This is why we can read Pullman to our profit - not just to find a fun (and yes, clever) story…”

What bothers me is the words “fun” and “clever” are attached to such serious anti-Christian content with such enthusiasm by Christians!


”It seems you would make the same mistake, of keeping us holed up with our theology books and Christian literature, sure to never get near the stain of the world.”

Seems kind of odd for a Christian pastor to be saying. :>)

Nevertheless, anyone who has seen my library, would not be making such an accusation.

Jared said...

I can understand the concern about my enjoyment of Pullman's books. But "fun" and "clever" aren't my summations of Pullman's works...they are also anti-Christian, quite dangerous, historically ignorant, philosophically vacuous, etc. See, I can say the bad stuff, too - but that's being said by enough other people right now.

Why is it strange for a pastor to want Christians to be in the world? The whole idea of not being stained by the world presupposes that we will be running that risk, that we will be close enough to possibly be stained and it's there - when we are closest to the staining influence - when the command to not be stained, actually means something. "Don't get pie on your Sunday clothes" doesn't mean "don't eat pie" - it just means "when you do eat the pie, please take the necessary precautions of putting a bib on."

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