Saturday, September 22, 2007

Protesting Prison Library Censorship

The New York Times has run this article on the protests against the new federal policy of only allowing 150 religious books in prison libraries. Criticisms are coming from the left and the right. It confirms that the Koran was not one of the banned books. How ironic.

39 comments:

Mark said...

They've obviously never worked out the implications of this quote:

"If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all." -- Noam Chomsky

(not that I'm a fan of Chomsky or anything, but I'd say there is some pretty deep insight packed into that quote..)

Sir Fab said...

Was the Bible banned? If not, why should the Koran be?

Doug Groothuis said...

Fab:

They are completely disanalogous, and I was waiting for someone to say this.

The divinely-manded wars in the Old Testament were given to a special people at a particular time. We can debate the morality of this, but war in the Bible is not an ongoing principle of spreading the biblical message. The New Testament speaks of the state (not the church) having the power of the sword, but nothing like a holy war is intimated. Christians use persuasion, not intimidation or coercion in speading the message. See Matthew 28:18-20.

Jihad, however, is a deep Koranic principle. There is no expiration date for this endeavor. This is why Islamic terrorists cite it as justification for their deeds. Muhammad was a military leader sho ruled by the sword. He was engaged in over 60 military campaigns in this life. Jesus did nothing of the sort, of course. He died for us; he killed no one. Many of his first followers were martyred: they died at the hands of others because of their convictions. In Islam, martyr means someone who dies in jihad. No small difference there.

So, there is no analogy at all. Moreover, how many Christian terrorist are there around the globe, forcing conversions, cutting off heads, and blowing themselves to kill as many people as possible?

Sir Fab said...

Dr. Groothuis:
one does not need to go so far back as the Old Testament to find violence that can be tied to Christianity.
It was not too long ago that Irish people were killing each other in the name of their/your religion (even if religion was just a pretext, it was a convenient one).
In the United States, a few antiabortionists (to be sure the exception, not the rule) have blown up clinics, shot doctors and nurses.
The Inquisition is one of the darkest chapter in the history of the Western world.
Separatists in India, with Christian affiliations, have been responsible for violent and terrorist acts.
And I bet you that a few of the soldiers who are fighting in Iraq currently do it for the "privilege" of fighting in a "Holy War". Why, the President himself referred to the war on terrorism as a Crusade, before someone had a chance to knock some sense into his head.
Just a few examples of what a few misguided people will do in the name of religion, any religion, even one that is supposed to be about charity and tolerance (as Christians depict their own religion), regardless of what the intent of the original message might have been.
I am not saying that the Bible and the Koran are on the same plane, I do not know enough about either book to make comparisons. But I always treat with suspicion claims of one religion's superiority over another.
As far as I am concerned, the leap--not of faith, but from reason--which is required to subscribe to any religion is a problem, not the solution to the world's problems. All religions, in my opinion, are mistaken to a greater or lesser degree on matter, but tolerance for ideas we disagree with is the necessary price we have to pay to live in a free society rather then a theocratic one.
I know your view on the subject differ greatly, but I thought you might be interested in a different point of view on the subject, and I hope I have expressed mine respectfully, since it is never my intent to be disrespectful.

Jeff S. said...

We don't find the military narratives of Joshua ending with "... and so, go and do likewise."

This book banning business will only get uglier as more groups jump in to voice their opinion of what stays and what goes. Instead of taking things away from them, we should be giving them something positive instead. Let the various prison fellowship ministries do their work, and as time passes, support the ones that best help rejuvenate/integrate them back into society.

Sarah Scott said...

sir fab,

It is not wise (though it is easy) to base a religion on what its followers are doing. One must research what that religion actually teaches, and then compare the actions of the followers to that standard.

Also, I agree that any religion which requires a leap from reason is suspect. However, I would not be a Christian if I found no reason within it. Faith that does not include reason and knowledge is blind (and therefore dangerous). Faith does not exclude reason by any means.

Sir Fab said...

Sarah:
I am not a biblical scholar, but I am sufficiently literate in biblical teachings to know that there are several instructions to violence in the Bible. This also answers your first assumption, that one should not base [judgement] of a religion on what its followers do. Partly true, but exactly the problem. The violence perpetrated by some Christian is based on the interpretation of biblical teachings, which are so broad, and can be read so selectively and incoherently, as to allow violence under biblical justification.

Jeff S. said...

sir fab: could you share with us which verses you think encourages violence?

Sir Fab said...

Sarah:

On your second objection, that faith does not exclude reason, we will have to respectfully agree to disagree.

Sir Fab said...

Jeff S:

I knew your question was coming, but I am not a scholar so it took me a while to come up with the examples you ask for.

Exodus 21:15
Leviticus 20:9
Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Deuteronomy 13:6-15
Leviticus 25:44-46 (endorsement of slavery, used by countless groups to justify it through the ages)

Matthew 5:17-18 indicates that the Law of the Old Testament must be fulfilled, even though Jesus is the new way to salvation. Otherwise, one should do away with the Old Testament and simply follow the teachings of the New.

Even the New Testament contains dubious instructions:
Luke 14:26
Matthew 10:34-39
Luke 19:27

Now, I am aware that the New Testament passages I quoted are interpreted differently by different exegets, but that is precisely the crux of the matter. People have used the interpretability of the Scriptures to make their point, and to justify the use of violence.

Chuck Kinzie said...

President George W. Bush himself called Islam "a noble religion." Since the President himself believes that, why not allow the Koran to be read in prison? I thought that the U. S. stood for religous tolerance. A Muslim swore on the Koran and the Bible when sworn in as a Congressman recently. What's the problem here?

Chuck Kinzie said...

I'm paraphrasing, but the Bible says somewhere, "Thou shall not suffer a witch to live." Sounds pretty intolerant and murderous to me.

Sir Fab said...

Chuck:

I am afraid there is an ocean of difference between what the President says and what the President believes. I understand the point you are trying to make, but you might look for a better endorsement of Islam then President Bush's.

evagrius said...

I wrote some remarks which seem to have disappeared.

"Jihad" doesn't just mean warfare. In fact, it's understood by most Moslems to mean "spiritual warfare", the struggle to be and do good.

Martyrs in mainstream Islam are not those who commit suicide nor those who are killed in acts of violence against innocent bystanders.

Both of these concepts have been hijacked in Islam by a small coterie of fanatics.

While the principles of Christianity are oriented towards peace the practice of Christianity has not always been so.

The Roman Empire, after it became Christian, still had armies and still fought its enemies and still used violence to subjugate rebels.

As far as I know, there are no Christian emperors or leaders who parallel Ashoka, the Indian emperor who, after converting to Buddhism, renounced the use of violence in ruling his empire.

Naturally, his empire fell apart after his death. His successors did not have the same capacity to follow such a demanding faith.

Doug Groothuis said...

This is politically correct material, which is untrue.

1. The principle meaning of jihad is holy war. Daniel Pipes wrote on this in Commentary a few years ago.

2. No less than Bernard Lewis, an expert on the Middle East and Islam, defines a Muslim martyr as one who dies in a holy war.

3. Sadly, violence, intimidation, and conquest are in the DNA of Islam. Study its book; study its history. Find the truth, even when it hurts.

evagrius said...

Pipes and Lewis are as accurate about Islam as Hitchens and Dawkins are about religion.

Both are viruluntly anti-Moslem, highly selective in their selection of facts and highly controversial. Both do not have any real cache among most scholars of the Middle East and Islam.

Both were also influential in the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq- a debacle that will continue to have unforunate consequences for a long time and which have added fuel and inspiration to Moslem radical fring groups.

As for Islam's DNA, take a look at Christianity's own. True, they were remarkably pacific during the first three centuries but, considering what happened to the participants of the two Jewish revolts of 70A.D. and 135 A.D., that's not surprising.

Instead, look to what happened after Christianity became the "official" religion of the Roman Empire. First, persecution, expulsion and killing of pagans and destruction of their temples.
Second, the beginning of anti-Semitism in systematic fashion. Third, the persecution of "heretics", namely Monophysites and Nestorians, throughout the Middle East. The Byzantine Empire also fought a series of wars against Persia, at that time a Zoroastrian empire and a refuge for Monophysites and Nestorians.
( Ironically, theological "peace" has been somewhat restored between Western Christians and Monophysite/Nestorians through a series of declarations pointing that the divisions were due to language and not doctrine).

It was this last phenomenon that had unforeseen consequences. A major reason for the quick and surprising success of Islam against the Byzantine Empire was the lack of support for the Greek Byzantines by the subjugated Monophysites and Nestorians.

All of this does not condone nor excuse the violence of Islamic terrorists but, if one is to be accurate, one must see the truth of things.

There's enough fault on all sides.

It's time to stop denigrating and demonizing those who don't share one's faith.

righteousness first said...

Evagrius:

It seems that you are influenced by intellectualism and take a tolerant view of other religions. As evangelicals, we are called to make disciples of all the nations, and therefore, have to find reasons to correct other views--even if it means demonizing them. Jesus' words to "take the log out of our own eyes" do not apply to us because we are "giving the answer for our hope." You need to understand that we could care less about "scholarship" but look for those who support our presuppositions, whether or not they have any credability or academic training in a given field (e.g. Islam). We know that there are faults within fundamentalism, but I think you should admit that our overall system is consistent insofar as we have an answer to every criticism. Because we believe that the Bible in true, any contradiction must be false in our system.

Steve

evagrius said...

"Jesus' words to "take the log out of our own eyes" do not apply to us because we are "giving the answer for our hope."

Hah. True humility.

One can't argue with such a profound sense of the Gospel.

Kyl said...

Sir fab writes, “As far as I am concerned, the leap--not of faith, but from reason--which is required to subscribe to any religion is a problem, not the solution to the world's problems.” You are in the realm of probability rather than absolute certainty, you have to have a certain amount of faith to believe that God does not exist (if that is your view). Christians are operating in the realm of probability too when they say God exists. Atheists have to muster a lot more faith than the Christian. This is from the Stand to Reason blog “…three lines of evidence (not just blind faith) for the supernatural:

Big Bangs have a Banger
Rigged dice have a Rigger
Information has an Informer
We argue from evidence for God and Christianity. Faith is the persuaded mind putting trust in Jesus' promise. Now, some may not be persuaded; but it's grossly inaccurate to claim that Christianity is irrational.”

J.P. Moreland speaks here: http://www.leestrobel.com/videoserver/video.php?clip=strobelT1011

Sir Fab said...

Kyl:

The fact that probability counts for atheists too is undeniable. So is the fact that there are degrees of probability. There are things that can be closer to 100% probable, others that can be close to 0% in probability.

For me, the fact that some kind of driving force behind nature might exist is a possibility (I will not express my thoughts on its probability). However, the existence of a creator, endowed with the anthropomorphic attributes that religious believers of different stripes imagine it has, and responsible for leaving instructions so fuzzy and contradictory that several different books, all claiming final authority, have been written (and interpreted) in his name, is so unlikely as to merit little or no credence at all.

If you want proof of the irrationality of religious believers, look at the premise of this post: the number of Christian books allowed in prison library has been limited to 150, but, oh dear, the Koran is readily available. Doesn't that strike you as irrational? Not if you are a Christian who believes your book is superior to all others. And, of course, you can supply hundreds of unverifiable, unfalsifiable reasons why a comparison between the Bible and the Koran is untenable, the first of the two books being the only true account of God, his works, and his plans for mankind.

evagrius said...

the number of Christian books allowed in prison library has been limited to 150, but, oh dear, the Koran is readily available. Doesn't that strike you as irrational?

Gee, odds of 150 to one sound pretty good to me.

Kyl said...

Sir fab,

Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb write, “Muslim rejection of the New Testament is contrary to the overwhelming manuscript evidence. All the Gospels are preserved in the Chester Beatty Papyri, dated about a.d. 250. And the vast majority of the New Testament exists in the Vaticanus Ms. (B) that dates from about a.d. 325–50. In addition there are nearly 5,700 other manuscripts of the New Testament dating from the second century a.d. to the fifteenth century (hundreds of which are from before the time of Muhammad) that confirm the same substantial text of the whole New Testament existing in Muhammad’s day.” Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli write, “Christianity is reasonable but it is not obvious. It is more like E=MC2 than like 2+2=4…If Christianity is so irrational, why have so many brilliant minds accepted it?...Paul, John, Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Bonaventura, Scotus, Luther, Calvin, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Berkeley, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Newman, Lincoln, Pasteur, Kierkegaard, Shakespeare, Dante, Chesterton, Lewis, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Tolkien, da Vinci, Michelangelo, T.S. Eliot, Dickens, Milton, Spenser and Bach, not to mention a certain Jesus of Nazareth.” In addition, there are the prominent intellectuals I mentioned in this comment https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=14410967&postID=8643163189477979863 Your claim of irrationality is clearly, clearly incorrect. Here are some good books to read:

Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli

Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig

Reasons to Believe by Scott Hahn

Christianity has historically produced great minds. However, in the past (roughly 40 years since Alvin Plantinga’s influential book, God and Other Minds, in 1967) eminent Christian intellectuals have thoroughly refuted your claim of irrationality. Thank you for your comment, Sir fab. I hope you have a good day.

Sir Fab said...

Kyl, I could produce a list as long, or longer, of brilliant minds who have found it perfectly reasonable to reject all faith, and have lived quite satisfactorily lives. I won't do it, because of course you will keep your mindset (or your mind set), and no amount of the evidence of irrationality of religion, not just yours--any religion, will do. Suffice it to say that Muslims, for example, could produce a list of all the historical and scientific inaccuracies in the Bible to boost their equally irrational claim that their holy book is the correct one.

Kyl said...

Sir Fab writes, “Kyl, I could produce a list as long, or longer, of brilliant minds who have found it perfectly reasonable to reject all faith, and have lived quite satisfactorily lives. I won't do it, because of course you will keep your mindset (or your mind set), and no amount of the evidence of irrationality of religion, not just yours--any religion, will do. Suffice it to say that Muslims, for example, could produce a list of all the historical and scientific inaccuracies in the Bible to boost their equally irrational claim that their holy book is the correct one.”

I can ask you the same type of question. Would anything convince you, Sir fab? If there are convincing arguments, would you still keep your mindset, Sir fab? I have put huge amounts of effort into studying atheism and other religions (ten years of my life). I like to ask the question “What is honestly the correct view on this topic or that topic? Do you like to ask that question? I’m glad we are able to communicate here.

Kyl said...

(continued)
This is a Continuation from my comment that quoted the Stand to Reason blog. This particular comment isn’t necessarily directed to you, Sir Fab. However, you are welcome to comment on it. Melinda Penner wrote, “Faith is the persuaded mind putting trust in Jesus' promise.” Here is my view on the topic (according to my understanding of the topic). Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli write, “The faith-works controversy that sparked the Protestant Reformation was due largely to an equivocation on the word faith. If we use “faith” as Catholic theology does-see the old Baltimore Catechism definition of faith in section (b) above-and as Paul did in 1Corinthians 13-that is, if we mean intellectual faith-then faith alone is not sufficient for salvation, for “Even the demons believe-and shudder” (jas 2:19). Hope, and above all love, need to be added to faith (1 Cor 13:13). But if we use “faith” as Luther did, and as Paul did in Romans and Galatians, that is, as heart-faith, then this is saving faith. It is sufficient for salvation, for it necessarily produces the good works of love just as a good tree necessarily produces good fruit. Protestants and Catholics agree on this. The Pope even told the German Lutheran bishops so over a decade ago, and they were startled and delighted. The two churches issued a public Joint Statement on Justification, a statement of agreement. Protestants and Catholics do not have essentially different religions, different ways of salvation. There are real and important differences, but this most central issue is not one of them.” I agree with Kreeft and Tacelli on that topic. The (above) Kreeft and Tacelli quote is from Handbook of Christian Apologetics.

Kyl said...

Some atheists seem to think that their view is automatically correct. However, I can ask “Are there any good arguments against God's existence?” I could ask “How did you come to the conclusion that atheism is true?” I haven’t seen any good arguments that would convince me that atheism is true. Atheism isn’t automatically true. When atheists and people in other religions start to question why they hold their views, it can be a great thing.

evagrius said...

I have less problem with atheism than I do with unreflected faith.

Dostoevki, I beleve, stated that atheism is the last rung on the ladder of perfect faith.

Quite a few atheists are such because the God that they see portrayed is basically an egostical personage.

Archbishop Zizioulas, the Greek theologian, in his latest book, Otherness and Communion, argues that the question should not be "Does God exists" but "What kind of God exist". Clarify the nature of God, ( as a Tri-Une Communion of Love), and you've clarified atheism.

righteousness first said...

kyl:

You need to be careful when talking to sir fab and evagrius--they are intellectual and we are evangelicals. We both have a fundamental disagreement: we believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God that is best interpreted with evangelical/fundamentalist convictions while they are ecumenical. That is why they would not be impressed with your quote of Geiser; they would consider him to be a discredited charleton who makes ad hoc pronouncments on texts he's never read: e.g. the Koran (my brother who went to Duke characterised him this way). But we would say it is okay to discredit Islam even if we've never read the Koran (in Arabic) because we are conviced in the Bible. In other words, we don't need to consider the "evidence" before we cast judgment. Remember Paul's words in Corinthians--our arguments are silly and foolish to unbelievers. To assume that an intellectual would think otherwise would contradict Paul.

We are fundamentalists, they are not. Let's cherish our identity rather than try to make ourselves seem more mainstream than we really are. That's just an exercise in arrogance, pride, and boasting. Let's just admit that we believe in the Bible and we try to make it seem "logical", but we fundamentally just believe.

Sarah Scott said...

RF,

Once again, your second statement displays a crucial false dichotomy.

While I am sure you mean well (and I am aware it can be a difference in definitions), honestly your regular polarization of intellectuals and evangelicals is becoming irritating. I only say this so that you might understand (again, as we have had this conversation) that there are, case in point Dr. Groothuis, intellectual evangelicals.

Sir Fab said...

Kyl:

to better frame my "atheism" (which is an absurd term to begin with, because it seeks to convey the idea of the absence of the belief in something that has not been proven to exist, sort of like "aNessie-ist",) what concerns me is not the possibility of the existence of a driving force, a "first cause", which logically leads to an infinite loop and is impossible to prove/disprove. What concerns me is the belief that people have in a God that is loving at times, but scornful and vengeful at others, omniscient, omnipotent and compassionate at the same time (attributes that can be hardly reconciled without jumping through logical hoops,) inscrutable and manifest. It reminds me too much of certain people I know, whom I am quite puzzled by and have not particular regard for.
The obligatory question is: are we made in God's likeness or is he conceived in ours?
It seems to me that many believers, even quite rational, scholarly and illustrious ones, have to set themselves in a permanent state of suspended disbelief regarding internal and external inconsistencies. And yet, no logical mountain is too high to climb when a believer is armed with faith.
What an incomprehensible world I live in!

evagrius said...

sir fab- Perhaps you should read (Pseudo) Dionysis the Aeropagite, ( available in the Library of Western Spiritual Classics).

There you'll find his essays on Mystical Theology, the Divine Names etc; all profoundly influential on the theology of both Western and Eastern churches.

You'll find the distinction between "cataphatic", positive language about God, and "apophatic", negative language about God.

You'll also find that one must go beyond both languages and essentially enter silence where one encounters God.

You'll find that the qualities you describe can be reconciled but not through what is normally thought of as concept and logic.

His theology is grounded in Scripture and Liturgical, communal worship. He has numerous refences to both scripture and liturgy often in allusions.

He may be difficult to read at times but is worth the effort since he "clears up" a lot of theological language that is, at first glance, quite confusing.

Doug Groothuis said...

E says:

"Pipes and Lewis are as accurate about Islam as Hitchens and Dawkins are about religion."

This is absurd. Lewis is a well-published academic and no partisan. His works have been translated into Arabic, for heaven's sake! Pipes is extremely knowledgeable and no hate-monger either.

Hitchens and Dawkins, on the other hand, don't even try to represent religion properly, as many critics have pointed out.

One can be critical of Islam and well supported in one's views. Neither Lewis nor Pipes are "virulent," however. That is cheap character assassination

Kyl said...

righteousness first,


Your anti-intellectual mentality is not representative of how Christians have conceptualized what it means to be a Christian for roughly two thousand years. Generally speaking, your anti-intellectual mentality has only been around for about 150 years (it is both new and incorrect).

J.P. Moreland writes, “The word apologia means "to defend something," for example, offering positive arguments for and responding to negative arguments against your position in a courtroom. It is important to recognize that this is exactly how the apostle Paul did evangelism (Acts 14:15-17;17:2,4,17-31;18:4; 19:8 ) He persuaded people to become Christians by offering rational arguments on behalf of the truth of the gospel. He even cited approvingly two pagan philosophers, Epimenides and Aratus (Acts 17:28 ), as part of his case for the gospel. In 1 Peter 3:15, the apostle does not suggest that we be prepared to do this, he commands it. The word logos means "evidence or argument which provides rational justification for some belief.”…Peter is saying that we are to be prepared to give rational arguments and good reasons for why we believe what we believe, and this involves the mind. Peter's reference to gentleness and reverence implies that we are to argue but not be argumentative.”


J. Gresham Machen writes, “God usually exerts that power in connection with certain prior conditions of the human mind, and it should be ours to create, so far as we can, with the help of God, those favorable conditions for the reception of the gospel. False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervour of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the word to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”


Moreland writes, “…from the fact that reasoning alone will not bring someone to Christ, it does not follow that we should not persuade or reason with people. Preaching alone will not save people without the Spirit’s work, but we still preach and work on our messages. We should do the same thing with our use of reason in evangelism.”

Moreland writes, “Regarding the arrogance that comes from knowledge, we need to keep two things in mind. First, Paul’s statement is not against knowledge per se, but against a certain attitude toward it. The proper response to his warning is humility, not ignorance! Second, for every knowledgeable person who is arrogant, there is an unknowledgeable person who is defensive and proud as a cover-up for his or her lack of knowledge. Arrogance is not possessed solely by people who have developed their reasoning abilities.”

Moreland writes, “It is interesting to note that Jesus did something His followers should emulate: He intelligently answered the Sadducees’ question!”

Here are four books that I recommend for you:

Love Your God with All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland

A History of Apologetics by Avery Cardinal Dulles (William Lane Craig has written that it’s a scholarly masterpiece and an invaluable reference work).

Handbook of Christian apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli

Reasons to Believe by Scott Hahn


Would you like to add anything to my comment here, Dr. Groothuis?

righteousness first said...

kyl:

I've read all of those books, save the Dulles publication. I wouldn't say they are intellectual in nature--more devotional. I have plenty of intellectual books at my house, but the ones you listed aren't among that category.
I spent 2 years at Brown before converting and transferring to Moody and then going on to a prominent evangelical seminary. What I saw at Brown was intellectualism: well-published authors in major presses, MacArthur fellows, Guggenheim winners, etc... while my experience at evangelical institutions shows that the debate is framed a different way. There is no correspondence between the two. Perhaps you've had the opportunity to study at a serious academic environment. It's a difference only appreciated firsthand--not by rumor or feeling.
While some scholars such as Kreeft and Plantiga teach at serious universities, the others you mentioned do not.
But that is fine. I've recognized firsthand that we are not part of the debate, we are not taken seriously, and our attempts at intellectualism miss the mark. Case in point: the books you listed don't seem more "intellectual" than recent books by J. Osteen. The logic may be a bit more robust, but the sophistication of the arguments is not dissimilar. They are both fundamentally based on interpretation of the text. Our nature as fundamentalists leads us elsewhere because we start with an entirely different a priori definition.
I'm fine with being a fundamentalist and ascribing to an a priori definition. It bothers me that we are parading our knowledge like we're serious and intellectual. Let's take another example: P. Ruckmann, an avid KJV defender lists on his website that he's read this ridiculous amount of books, that he's done this, that, and other "intellectual" activities, yet I challenge you to read one of his publications. Will you be impressed? No. Counting books, counting publications, etc... is not a true measure. Other measures, such as landing articles in the best journals, publishing with presses like Harper, landing tenure at top-notch universities, getting into top-tier PhD programs is a better measure. Do the authors you mentioned do that. Not really.
Do we as fundamentalists have some intellectual capital, though? A little bit, but let's stop pontificating as if we've arrived at that point or that we speak from that perspective.
As for your arguments, they are problematic. A few examples of Paul reasoning are unpersuasive. I can just as well make an argument for the importance of understanding architecture because he visited temples. Besides, the point might be clear thinking rather than intellectualism per se. But it’s fine if we disagree—I respect your arguments.
Let me close with one example. Moreland cites ubiquitous as a word that we need to learn to develop our vocabulary. Aiming at the sub-500 SAT English crowd seems a bit low, doesn't it?

The revivals taking place in the world are taking place in "non-intellectual" environments. My understanding of early Christianity leads me to believe that this is what happened early on (though I know there were a few intellectuals) and during the Second Great Awakening. It seems to me that the greatest movements of Christianity take place in non-intellectual environments, but I guess you could always counter that argument by pointing out problems with those movements: pluralism within early Christianity, strange behaviors in Africa and Latin America now, growth of cults after 2nd GA (as Moreland argues). At that point I'd just say you're being tendentious and trying to defend the merits of your own perceived intellectualism.

evagrius said...

Lewis and Pipes are not highly regarded by other scholars.

Of course Lewis is translated inot Arabic. They're curious as to what he has to say and how misleading he is.

Both Lewis and Pipes were/are involved in the Iraq debacle. The decision to attack, invade and occupy Iraq was contrary to the just war theory as the late Pope, and current Pope, and other religious leaders have stated.

If you want a view of Islam that is more insightful and deep, examine the life and writings of Louis Massignon, ( 1883-1962), who converted to Islam in his twenties and reconverted to Catholicism after investigating the life of al-Hallaj, a Sufi mystic. He eventually became a Melite Greek Orthodox priest celebrating the Liturgy in Arabic.

evagrius said...

My understanding of early Christianity leads me to believe that this is what happened early on (though I know there were a few intellectuals)...


Yes, There certainly were quite a few "intellectuals". They're known as the Church Fathers and begin in the apostolic age.

It was the "intellectuals" that determined Christian doctrine and dogma.

They clarified the relationship between the Scriptures, the Church, the Liturgy, prayer and learning. They clarified and enunciated the elements that make up the Christian faith concretized in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds.

They were not only "intellectuals" but people of deep faith and prayer.

Without them I seriously think that Christianity would not have survied.

Kyl said...

righteousness first,

I’m vigorously opposed to your anti-intellectual view.

“I've read all of those books, save the Dulles publication. I wouldn't say they are intellectual in nature--more devotional.”

If I gave you the more sophisticated books, I would be writing for years. There are a lot of them out there.

“I spent 2 years at Brown before converting and transferring to Moody and then going on to a prominent evangelical seminary. What I saw at Brown was intellectualism: well-published authors in major presses, MacArthur fellows, Guggenheim winners, etc...”

Generally speaking, leading Christian thinkers are remarkable. William Lane Craig wins debates. Francis Beckwith could win a debate with David Boonin (both Boonin and Beckwith have books with Cambridge University Press) There are countless other leading Christian thinkers. I’m not making this up.

“…while my experience at evangelical institutions shows that the debate is framed a different way. There is no correspondence between the two. Perhaps you've had the opportunity to study at a serious academic environment. It's a difference only appreciated firsthand--not by rumor or feeling. While some scholars such as Kreeft and Plantiga teach at serious universities, the others you mentioned do not.”

What about BIOLA University? We are talking about one of the world’s leading centers of thought. For example, the M.A. in Philosophy of Religion & Ethics program is unspeakably brilliant. You could be assuming that the leading Christian thinkers are framing the debates incorrectly. However, they have framed a variety issues correctly. Although BIOLA doesn’t have the name Princeton, BIOLA is producing greater intellectuals. It is producing many, many intellectuals that will become as great as people like Robert P. George, Plantinga, and the countless others.

“But that is fine. I've recognized firsthand that we are not part of the debate, we are not taken seriously, and our attempts at intellectualism miss the mark.”

William Lane Craig writes, “Christian philosophers have been coming out of the closet and defending the truth of the Christian worldview with philosophically sophisticated arguments in the finest secular journals and professional societies. The face of American philosophy has been changed as a result. Fifty years ago philosophers widely regarded talk about God as literally meaningless, as mere gibberish, but today no informed philosopher could take such a viewpoint. In fact, many of America’s finest philosophers today are outspoken Christians.”

Quentin Smith writes, “…This book, followed seven years later by Plantinga’s even more impressive book, The Nature of Necessity, made it manifest that a realist theist was writing at the highest qualitative level of analytic philosophy, on the same playing field as Carnap, Russel, Moore, Grunbaum, and other naturalists…in philosophy, it became, almost overnight, “academically respectable” to argue for theism…”

“It bothers me that we are parading our knowledge like we're serious and intellectual.”

Here is a hypothetical: Beckwith wins the abortion debate with Boonin. Beckwith is both serious and an intellectual.

Here is another hypothetical: William Lane Craig wins the debate with Quentin Smith. Craig is both serious and an intellectual.

William Craig writes, “It is part of the broader task of Christian scholarship to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women.” You are probably familiar with the plausibility structure of a culture (e.g., my Machen quote in the other post). It is great that the most prominent Christian thinkers of our time are vigorously opposed to anti-intellectualism.

One more thing….

Beckwith writes, “The literature on same-sex marriage is even more impressive given the relatively brief time socially conservative intellectuals have had to wrestle with this issue. The works of Lynn Wardle, David Organ Coolidge, Gerard V. Bradley, Robert P. George, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Richard W. Garnett, J. Budziszewski, William Duncan, Hadley Arkes, and Richard Duncan offer first-rate "secular" defenses of traditional marriage and, in many ways, are more sophisticated and compelling than the works of those who defend same-sex marriage.”

Thank you for your friendly writing style, righteousness first.

Kyl said...

Matthew 22:37-39

An intellectual love for God with the mind is included by Jesus.

righteousness first said...

kyl:

I welcome your more sanguine attitude towards the fundamentalist battle against liberalism, and perhaps we are making more headway than I suspect. And whether the battle is as important as you suggest is another matter. As for your Bible quote, I would say the text is a merism.

It's fine to classify me as an anti-intellectual; that's a clever rhetorical move that puts me on the defense if you're so inclined to do so. But, alas, my point must not have been clear: my definition of intellectualism a priori precludes most evangelicals from the discussion--so to accuse me of anti-intellectualism, you should use my definition "elite coterie of academia." That's what I mean--not your definition of intellectualism. What you would call intellectualism doesn't constitute intellectualism in my mind, just as you would not consider T. D. Jakes to be intellectual, whiles other might. I don't consider myself, nor Dr. Groothuis, nor Moreland to be an intellectual according to my definition. The latter two are making efforts to think clearly, articulate the Christian worldview, and to evangelize, but those things fall outside the purview of my definition.

Perhaps the Bible Institute of Los Angeles will be a knight in shining armor. I've heard about their apologetics program and that they've gotten a couple of students into top programs, and perhaps some of them will teach at ranked schools. Only time will tell. But will several students go to top-tier universities and later teach at top-tier schools? I doubt it. Unless you can provide me with any evidence--we're both speculating at this point.

Rather than point to Biola, which according to the most recent US News, was totally unranked, Wheaton would be a better example. They are ranked, and professors such as M. Noll are taken seriously--that is he taught at HDS. Have Moreland, Craig, Beckwith, etc... been invited to teach at a first or second tier univeristy? I'm not sure.

Perhaps I'm too cynical about our status and perhaps I've just resigned myself to other pursuits, but I wonder how much people (on this blog) are making an apologia of their own calling by proclaiming that "intellectualism" (defined your way) will usher in the kingdom.