Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Deep modern Christian apologetics - psychological evaluation procedures may be the key

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The reason that CS Lewis has not yet been superseded as a Christian apologist (i.e. one who defends Christianity, shows its coherence, explains its basis and so on) - is that his arguments cut deeper than other apologists and he made fewer assumptions of his readers.

It seems that nobody has yet gone any deeper, or at least not in appealing way; but most more recent apologists have simply rung variations on Lewis's method.

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What did Lewis do?

Here is an excerpt from the letter he wrote to the BBC when invited to contribute the talks taht later became Mere Christianity: 

It seems to me that the New Testament, by preaching repentance and forgiveness, always assumes an audience who already believe in the law of Nature and know they have disobeyed it. In modern England we cannot at present assume this, and therefore most apologetic begins a stage too far on. The first step is to create, or recover, the sense of guilt. Hence if I give a series of talks I should mention Christianity only at the end, and would prefer not to unmask my battery till then. 

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Lewis based his apologetics on the understanding of human nature and natural law - which for his era was still solid ground among all except a handful of intellectual ultra-radicals. 

But since Lewis wrote, the inbuilt spontaneous assumption that there is a human nature and that there is a valid natural law (inbuilt morality) have actually been inverted - such that anything spontaneous is regarded as evil, this is perhaps the essence of prevailing public morality (political correctness). 

So, unless people can be caught as youths, before they have been participants in that vast and pervasive system of artificial morality the mass media, they may be lost to even Lewisite apologetics.

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Modern apologetics must cut even deeper - must (I think) focus on systems of evaluation (but not, of course, calling them that!). 

In other words, modern apologetics must start with a discussion of grounds for belief, which means exposing the basis by which people arrive at beliefs - and the extent to which this is a product of political correctness and the mass media, and the extent to which this permeates all of the high status and powerful evaluations systems such as politics, law, public administration, charities and NGOs, educational institutions, the military... and the major Christian churches.

Or, we cut to the chase and go straight to the individual systems which lie below this. 

If we cannot rely on previously trusted sources, and not even the Christian churches - then people are thrown back onto their own devices: the must (and I mean must) develop their own instincts of evaluation based on the heart. 

Obviously this idea of the heart needs clarification - and needs to be distinguished from head and body knowledge -  but it is critical; and it may be the only realistic hope. 

But obviously this is hazardous - it has, in particular, the hazard of spiritual pride and self-serving self-deception. But where else can we go to to find a ground for living, and a sufficiently-powerful basis for motivation?

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Intellectuals schemes from reading or institutions and the vitalism of following powerful gut-feelings will not work, they have been colonized and corrupted; we must instead learn to seek and recognize heart knowledge, the slow warmth of it - the connecting, relating basis of life. 

All external knowledge must be tested by the heart.

We need to build upon the certainties of the heart.

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This is hazardous. But we have no alternative. 

Christianity needs to come from the heart, be underpinned by the heart - this needs a new kind of apologetics.

The evaluations of the heart is not the end of apologetics - that end would be a full denomination of Christianity; but that end cannot nowadays be reached in one step; but only via gaining independence from the corrupted or inverted evaluations of the body or head. 

On that independence apologists can build; not otherwise.

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