Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Antipathy and Apathy Toward Christianity

Antipathy toward Christianity is in some ways easier to engage than apathy toward Christianity. The one who cries "Wrong!" is engaged. The one who mutters "Whatever.." is disengaged. The former needs answers; the latter needs questions.

6 comments:

Paul D. Adams said...

Yes! In my philosophy classes I labeled today's culture typically filled with "whateverists," those who find nothing important, vital, virtuous, or true. In such a culture everything becomes mundane, boring, bland, routine, unremarkable, tedious, or wearisome. At the end of my ranting over today's culture I get a typcially typical..."WHATEVER!" It's as if I've said nothing. Maybe that is the point. Perhaps the intent of employing apathy is to silence antipathy...a feeling of intense dislike. Hum...

Jonathan Erdman said...

The question that rolls around in my mind is how to stir my generation, who is so apathetic towards truth claims, metanarratives, and exclusive religious positions.

I've always thought that in some ways these days are parallel to the times of the prophets. The prophets of the OT often challenged the people towards holistic commitment. They laid down the gauntlet - all or nothing!

The human person seems so fragmented in today's culture. We are compartmentalized into so many categories that religion just becomes another category. (I think Shaeffer predicted this, to some degree.)

I tend to think that the apathy needs to be challenged. We need to call for a complete faith commitment - something that dominates the whole person and calls out for true transformation and a higher calling. This is what the faith has always been about, anyway, though hasn't it??? And that's why it disturbs me when evangelism debates rage about whether we should talk about propositional truth or not. Of course we should talk about prop truth! But if all we do is talk propositions then this fragmented world will just see Christianity as another compartment: the propositional compartment. Truth doesn't just touch mind it fires the heart.

D. A. Armstrong said...

When one of you guys comes up with a way to absolutely wake up this generation let me know. I was talking about sharing the gospel with my youth group this evening. Some of the kids were certainly interested in this, but many were disinterested as if what I was talking about didn't matter.

If there one religious truth to affect your heart, it is the gospel. Although, I think the law of non-contradiction might be almost as exciting.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Pascal's statements "against indifference" in Pensees are very applicable to our "whatever" situation, as are his comments on "diversion." I address the former in On Pascal. I address the later in The Soul in Cyberspace." But read Pascal for yourself!

William Bradford said...

If there one religious truth to affect your heart, it is the gospel.

Agreed although I think the adjective "religious" could be ommitted as the gospel reveals truth which is not compartmentalized but rather all-pervasive. Nancey Pearcey, who authored a chapter in the book 'Darwin's Nemesis,' may have hit the nail on the head when she noted that truth in western culture is generally viewed as not only relative but subjective as well. It is as if each one of us is entitled to his or her own touchy feely view of reality but- do not think of imposing this on others.

Ironically there is one preserve of truth where objective reality still holds sway in the minds of post-modernists- science. This explains why battles are fought tooth and nail over a materialist scope of science which is meant to exclude consideration of design.

No wonder youth brought up in this culture are not drawn to truth as a concept. They have been taught that it does not exist as an objective reality.

Jonathan Erdman said...

William says...
It is as if each one of us is entitled to his or her own touchy feely view of reality but- do not think of imposing this on others.

I would differ a bit here. I don't think it is so much an issue of "feeling." Sometimes it is all too convenient to label this generation as "touchy feely" and "irrational." I don't know that there is a preference for feelings as much as there is just a general questioning of the role of feeling, rationality, or intuition....Although there is no doubt an apathy towards intellectual discussion among many - much more exciting to play Xbox until 4am every night...

William also says...
No wonder youth brought up in this culture are not drawn to truth as a concept. They have been taught that it does not exist as an objective reality.

This has always been interesting for me to think about because even though I know that there are people who are teaching that truth does not exist as an objective reality, but I just look at this as a stupid and temporary trend. I think it is more of a fad - a teaser issue that makes the middle level intellectual feel smart and postmodern when in reality they don't know what they are talking about.

I think the questioning of objective truth is easily taken care of by simple logic. However, if we look deeper I think that the issue is less logical and more about the epistemological framework. There is an epistemelogical paralysis: How do I determine religious truth in a world saturated with pluralistic perspectives??? I think that the only way the church can answer this is by something holistic: intellectual, spiritual, and emotional, etc. A stand on all fronts.

I have a problem with any po-mo church movement that thinks that objective truth is not worth arguing. But I am equally disturbed when Christian academics believe that the battle is only for objective truth.