Thursday 22 March 2012

Christians must treat Scripture, the Church and other 'Christian things' as a separate category


One of the traps set for Christians in the modern world is that of treating 'Christian things' just the same as we treat non-Christian things.


I mean activities like analyzing Scripture using mainstream academic methods (linguistic, historical, archaeological etc); discussing the Church using the methods of sociology or political science; treating the Priesthood as 'a job'; discussing Saints as if they were normal, average people like ourselves and our neighbours; regarding prophecies as if they were scientific hypotheses... that sort of thing.

All of these are nonsensical, and indeed self-refuting from a Christian perspective; because the secular, materialistic, naturalistic worldview has the necessary and intrinsic prior assumption of excluding Christian explanations: the prior assumption of excluding divine revelation, divine providence, miracles, angels, demonic activity... i.e. excluding just about everything of primary Christian relevance.


All such activities must be eschewed by Christians as not just worthless but dangerously misleading: eschewed (ideally) not just relatively but completely.

There is no such thing as a moderate usage of concepts such as 'the historical Jesus' or linguisic analysis of scriptures.

If we stop treating Christian things as Christian things, an unique category, it is the first step on a slippery slope to secular materialism.   


ajb said...

Why stop at just 'Christian' things, then? Don't angels, demons, miracles, and so on, affect things in the everyday world? Don't they impinge on the causal network science claims to study in a broad way (for example, prayer in the daily lives of millions of Christians)? If so, can we then really trust science in general?

Similarly, if we can't study Jesus historically, can we study the Apostle Paul historically, say? If not, can we study ancient Roman society - heavily impacted by Christians - historically?

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - that's the big question.

There are a lot of slippery slopes, of varying degrees of steepness; and maybe the one thing we cannot do is to create a secular realm that it limited, stable and useful; because perhaps secularism will always over-grow and become parasitic...

So, while *we* cannot be trusted even to study your example of ancient Roman Society without grossly misrepresenting it (by leaving-out the extreme religiousness, and by taking the wrong lessons from it) these things would in principle be possible in an Orthodox Christian society where all activity was ruled by and permeated with a Christian perspective.