Thanks for visiting the Tank, for your thoughtful question, and
especially for your concern for truth and honesty before God...
See my comments below (sorry so late, but I typically run 4-6 months
behind in email)
I've just recently discovered your web page and am excited to see this resource here - you've made a great contribution to the ol' "market-place of ideas" that has been quickly forming over the medium of the Web as of late, and an invaluable resource center for respectable Christian scholarship.
One question though: In reading your biography you mentioned
you were reading an article by some apparently ignorant
Christian author who was "upsetting" you by his shallowness
or something. Sounded alot like me. I'm in my third year of
philosophy at XYZ, and have a deeply unsettled
mind when it comes to Christianity, and in particular, the
form by which I have lived my Church-life for the past
number of years - a Vineyard Fellowship. While I have never
had a problem with the orthodoxy, per se, the orthopraxis
gets to me - in particular as manifested by the lay people
and their ultra charismatic over-spiritualisation of seemingly natural phenomena and social peculiarities.
I actually have had other emails similar to yours about this group--certainly not uniformly, of course,
but nonetheless occasional...I know precious little about it personally...
whenever the attitude comes over me to vent my dissatisfaction with their weak explanations and groundless proposals,
I get back the regular stuff about being too rationally
minded, etc: I'm sure you know the deal.
yep...I know that well...I get a comment like that about the Tank from
well-intentioned Christians about once a week...>
But what gets to me
is that: I do have to confess to having a certain amount of
intellectual high-mindedness when I feel that I can see what
others cannot into the truth of an issue, or at least an
explanation that isn't so riddled with moronic inconsistencies (oops! there it is). How do you feel about the claim
that a certain amount of Christian explanation, even aside
from any charismatic taintings, must be left outside of the
realm of careful criticism, and that even if an argument or
philosophical criticism of a problematic issue isn't
foolproof, that nonetheless it may still be a good one
simply because it only portends to appeal to the "masses"?
a couple of points here:
hope this helps...
How do you defend your critical and careful approach to
issues, while avoiding the temptation to posit yourself
above the masses as somehow superior?
Actually, I don't have time to do defensive work! It turns out I have too
many people wanting the answers I try to come up with, and too much
positive feedback from hungry minds! Not that I am Paul, of course, but
Paul did not defend himself very often--and only when critically
important to the mission...so I try to follow his example...I just try to
meet needs as they come up...I am just a question-taker...
and God has blessed me with enough faults and failures and aberrations
and mutancies, that I don't tend to have the temptation to feeling
(as if I even had time to parade around in that fancy attitude
either!)...I personally have the opposite problem, of feeling inferior to
'normal' Christians in 'normal' relationships and non-isolated lives and
and with 'normal' challenges ['normal' in the statistical sense, most of
the time--even thought the value aspect of that bothers me occasionally]
How do you humbly
present your mind "as a living sacrifice" before its
For me it is quite simple...I don't value 'mind' above anything else
actually...Its just a tool, like money or influence or leadership or
attention to detail or musical ability or encouragement or even
simplicity of spirit...and, I have
learned from one or two quite vivid experiences in my life, that if and when God
wants to 'turn my mind off' to teach me, all He has to do is blink, and I
cannot solve the simplest of cognitive or communicative problems...I
learned that important lesson in the summer of 1972...funny experiences,
actually...plus, talents like that are subject to 1 Cor 4.7...
And, in the final analysis, I realize that I have so little else to work
with, and I am so dwarfed by the honor of using this scrap that I have
to honor the Crucified One...I revert back to the Little Drummer Boy's
statement--"I have no gifts to bring; but I'll play my drum for Him"...I
have no gifts to bring; but I'll think and write for Him">
Does any of this make sense?
Of course it does, my friend...of course it does...it goes with the
territory, as they say...;>)
If it doesn't, perhaps
it is enough to say that it comes out of my personal challenge
of, on the one hand, resisting the temptation of intellectual high-mindedness, and on the other, wanting to understand how to fit with the Christian norm, while refusing
to give up the integrity of my critical and ultimately
philosophical approach to Christian problemata.
As long as you keep struggling with that, that's a good sign...the
balance is difficult, elusive, and sporadic (in my case)...but in the
hands of a God, it can be an awesome thing...>
One of the things that actually helped me adjust to this niche I live
in, was the book Philosophers Who Believe (IVP)...I saw men and women
of God--no two of which were similar in lifestyle!!!!!!!! I was so
encouraged by their diversity that it was subsequently much easier to
accept my own abnormalities as (1) okay (within reason, of course) and
(2) even a gift from God (amazing thought!)...you probably have seen that
or similar books, but you might look at that pattern again from this
thanks again for visiting, for your honesty, and for your openness to His
reshuffling of your thought-life.
hope this helps,