Essay / Misc.

Rebuke, Repentance, and Restoration

John Mark Reynolds, 2004.

What if one viewed the world through a religious framework? Not because one had to out of fear (you never know when to expect the Spanish Inquisition), but because it is interesting and after much experience of the world seems true? What if one decided that a holy book, like the Bible, contained the truth by which mankind should live? Surely this could be as viable as a secular point of view. Logic and the dialectic don’t promise secularism. The dialectic is a way to live, not a promise of answers. Are there answers? I think (however dimly I see them) that there are some. The dialectic allows for this limited certainty. Lately, during this War, such religious people (mostly Moslem) have come under fire. Need a traditional religious way of living lead to terrorism or intolerance? First, tolerance (by itself) is not a virtue. Tolerance seems to me to be good party manners. You don’t make fun of the stories told by a tipsy relative at the party. It would not be polite. However, no one would tolerate Uncle Fritz telling his pro-Nazi stories. There is a limit to tolerance and it would seem to be morality. Both secularism and religious world views give many different types of morality. Morality is going to have to come from somewhere. Secular morality, badly understood, led to Stalin and the deaths of millions of people. Religious morality, badly understood, leads to Bin Laden. My point is that what we oppose in the War is a false world view, Bin Laden’s form of Islam. I am against it, because it is wrong. It is ethically wrong, historically wrong, and philosophically indefensible. It is not because he is a fundamentalist, or somehow too “conservative” or committed to his world view. If his world view (a variation of Islam) were not wrong, then being very committed to it would not be bad. My belief is that traditional Christianity, that holds the fundamentals, is the best way to go. I think it true, good, and beautiful. Acting on that belief would never lead to terrorism, since war for any Christian is a bad thing. Terror would be an unjustified action in any circumstance. It can be justified in some cases in a broken world, but it is never our first choice. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, not Henry V. The War on Terror is just, but it is sad. I work for a rapid end to the War, because no Christian can like war. Now in fact, I think there is no secular morality that does not (in the end) lead to monstrous moral problems. That does not mean most secular people are bad, they are not. But to the extent they are not, they are not acting consistent with the variation of secularism they hold. Many are almost saintly in their private and public lives. Religious people are not always good. We do not always or even mostly act in a manner consistent with our view of the world. (In my own life, God forgive my twenties, I was not a good person. Many secular people, if not most, were much better.) However, Christianity provides a way of rebuke, repentance, and restoration. This is a good thing. It is such a good thing, I don’t understand why people do not want it. But there you go. That makes me think that I may be not following the dialectic with enough vigor. On to the Euthyphro!

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