Christian education should cover the basics, and only the basics.
“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”Francis Bacon
In the post Progressive (2020 November 10), I took a smack at revising the Red Pill lexicon, but judging by the responses in the comments, the rot goes deep – much deeper than just the name. Revising the name is the least of our concerns.
Since then, NovaSeeker and I addressed what we believe is the main error behind Progressive Christianity: What is the Authority of the Bible, and why is this Important? (2020 November 12).
In the comments, Cameron said,
“I don’t understand how scripture could be described as an “authority” anyway. Authorities make decisions, act. The Bible doesn’t self-interpret.”
The power of the scriptures is not imposed by force, so to speak. It remains up to the individual to read it, believe it, and apply it. Thus, the Bible only has the amount of authority over one’s life that one is willing to specifically grant to it. The basic question posed in this post is about how much authority it should be granted, and what are the practical outcomes of granting different degrees of authority to scripture?
Cameron is right in asserting that authorities make decisions, and act. In this case, the believer makes decisions based on his faith in the authority of the Bible. Much of that authority waits to be discovered by the believer.
Granted, this is not a simple matter. Cameron and Lance Roberts argued about whether the Bible is self-interpreting. Let’s compare these statements…
“The Bible doesn’t self-interpret.”
“…the number one rule of hermeneutics was “context is everything!”
“I think the Bible interpreting itself fits into context is everything because the Bible is the context.”
I think all of these statements are true. A self-interpretative reading of the Bible is largely dependent on the reader’s understanding of the context. If you can understand the context, then the Bible is more or less self-explanatory. But the thing is, the Bible stands alone as a monolithic authority, and it doesn’t explain the context for every single passage. So if you can’t latch on to the contextual differences somehow, then the Bible appears to be stocked full of confusing contradictions.
Progressive Christianity doesn’t care about the context!
Anyway, it’s good for us to be aware of these things. But the issue with Progressive Christianity is not about determining the context or the interpretation, it is about how much authority the Bible should be granted. Scott latched on to this.
“I’m not sure if I would characterize it as “confusion” around the term progressive.
Conflating “progress” with generally leftward movement (or movement in the direction of fewer and fewer objective standards) appears to be quite deliberate. Those who do that are not confused at all. They truly believe that moral progress is inevitable and that its long arc only goes one direction.”
One common thread I’ve found to be woven into many popular manifestations of evil is the central belief that life is a carnal carnival, or that it could be so if certain people would woke up and get with the program. Granted, at face value, this is a good thing. But it becomes sin when we try to implement it as a default vehicle for common redemption. Humans cannot woke up and get with the program by their own good intentions, social service, virtue, willpower, or any other device. This is a central tenet of the gospel.
Lexet detected the method of apostasy when he wrote [emphasis mine],
“The descent to unbelief starts when doctrines and man made works [of doctrinal hermeneutics and philosophy] take precedent over reading plain scripture.
Mankind wants to make things complex and heavily organized (Rome). So they develop doctrines that stem from interpretations. Rather than teach the following generations how they derived those doctrines, they add onto those doctrines.
E.g.: most Calvinists cannot read scripture and tell you how TULIP came about. Most cannot describe TULIP itself. They can grasp tertiary doctrines though.
Most churches don’t teach scripture. They will say they do, while ignoring significant passages of the Bible. (Another example, Calvinist churches avoid [the gospel of] John, John’s epistles, Revelation, and Mark/Luke like the plague, and for a reason.)”
Lexet elucidates a very important point (in bold). Understanding how doctrines (and theories) are derived is monumentally important towards achieving a mastery of the subject. This is how a subject should be taught – going over the primary facts, and deriving the secondary theories. Tertiary extrapolations should not be taught, but should be left to the student.
The Truths of the Scripture (or any complex subject) must be internalized
This is exactly how I was taught. When I was an undergrad studying physics, I had to work through the mathematical derivations for things like Einstein’s Special Relativity, Euler’s Formula, Gauss’ Law, and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. I remember spending about two to three weeks to work through each one. Continuum Mechanics and the Schrödinger’s Equation took me about six weeks. Whenever I began working on one of these problems, I had the sense that I was pecking away at numbers and symbols that meant absolutely nothing to me. It seemed so incomprehensible, like mysterious hieroglyphics. But in each case, after a period of immersion in which I worked through the factors and the equations, there eventually came a very sudden and distinctive “A-ha!” moment, in which the cryptic puzzle suddenly transformed into an intuitive common sense about the nature of the thing. After that, I didn’t need to rely on a formula to be able to assess or predict the outcome of a given interaction. I could just look at the factors and get a fairly accurate idea of the interaction and the results.
But after supper at the end of the day, I retired to my room to listen to New Wave Funk and Alt-Rock, and play a game of chess with my classmate. We exchanged erudite jokes and metaphors related to these scientific principles, adorned ourselves with pipes and strange hats, and mockingly pretended to be edumacated. In these humble moments, I realized that, aside from the thrill of excelling in my studies, I was still a poor, struggling student, friends were still friends, God was still God, chicks were still flaky, the cafeteria food was still bland, and I still got forked in Chess.
I had the same experience when I first came across the Manosphere. At first, when I saw the Red Pill dialect – all those inscrutable words and terms: Alpha, Dark Triad, hamster, hypergamy, Machiavellianism, r/K selection, Sigma, $ћ!t tests… and those acronyms! AWALT, IOIs, MGTOW, MMV, PUA, SMV, … It was entirely indecipherable to me. But I immersed myself in reading Roissy, Dalrock, Illimitable Men, Rollo, Zippy Catholic, et al., compared notes, and studied the concepts until that “A-ha!” moment came. After that, I was able to see how my own experiences fit into these theories like my hand in a glove.
But in the final, I feel a little annoyed with God, or led down by the church, or something like that. I mean, why couldn’t I have learned these basic truths about human nature from the Bible, or my prayers, or my father, or my pastor? Why could I only learn these things from godless men like Roissy, and from enduring sordid life experiences like divorce and screwing around with wimmin?
There seems to have been a failure in the priesthood.
One important thing I’ve learned (which you’ll never hear in any church) is that you can’t encompass the subject of sanctification without discussing sex. But the church won’t touch this subject, so secular culture has to take up the slack (and is quite happy to do so).
Nova Seeker pointed out the subterfuged response to the slack.
And what is the new content? Generally speaking, it is something people call “moralistic therapeutic Deism”, coupled with a generous helping of progressive social politics and morals, cooked together into a new stew of progressive pseudo-Christianity. Something that looks Christian and speaks Christian in terms of its words and symbols, but embodies a different worldview, a different moral system, and a different substance altogether in terms of what it teaches, if anything at all beyond merest Deism, therapeutic spiritual assistance, and new progressive social mores (tolerance, affirmation, affirmative consent, equity, etc.).
Yes, this is what is served up by the worldly system. But are we serving anything more delicious or nutritious?
The intuitive knowledge that characterizes the mastery of a subject can be gained by spending years working with that particular phenomenon in a laboratory, or industry, or marriage.
Much of the value of an education is that you can obtain the same mastery within weeks, as opposed to spending years in the field.
After achieving a mastery of each concept, one gains nothing less than a sense of confidence about understanding and navigating through life and the physical world, and perhaps even controlling or evading some parts of it. All those weeks (or years) of work, just to say, “I did it!” and “I can do it!” This capability is valuably efficacious for a man.
The thing is, you can’t really afford to spend years in the field learning things like basic Christian doctrine and Godly principles of marriage. The cost is too great, as I have found.
It’s much better to spend a few weeks in study, and then enter into life with a winning chance, rather than to waste precious years learning the same lessons through failure.
Currently, the church offers us nothing in this regard. In fact, it teaches a lot of converged values and worldly philosophies instead, if any at all.
Exit Question: What subjects should be taught in Sunday school or catechism for the post-adolescent age group?