Why should you listen to me?

So the question naturally arises when browsing the internet why you should listen to this person whom you have never met and know very little about. On well-respected sites like Patheos or CNN blogs, individual bloggers are, essentially, paid columnists of sorts. Presumably, someone has vetted each of the bloggers to make sure that they have some kind of authority to speak on their respective subjects. On sites like these, the blogger could be anyone. So why should you listen to me? Why, indeed.

That is the primary question that I want to ask, at least in the first season of this blog: why should we listen to anyone? Whose authority do we trust? When there are a million voices making mutually exclusive claims, how do we have good judgment in picking the right voice? And there are a million contradictory voices, and listening to the right ones makes a huge difference.

Specifically, I want to give reference to the Christian evangelical culture which finds itself on the brink of some major changes — changes for the better, if I may say so. We’re realizing that long-cherished ideals like Biblical infallibility and historicity all have major opposition that comes not from secularists with a vendetta against Christianity but from serious Christian scholars who aren’t just trying to justify a loose moral code or undermine God himself.

Why should we listen to these malicious upstarts, these heathens who would dare question our long-held traditions? Well, there are many good reasons, and I want to outline what they are and why they matter. This is not only an intellectual pursuit — say, switching from Creationism or Intelligent Design to believing in evolution — but an intrinsically moral matter. It affects how you treat others in politics, in your church, and in your communities. Is the man advocating a metaphorical Adam a threat to your children? Some people think so. But some people don’t.

Now certainly most Christians don’t belong to that fringe group which believes in a 6,000 year old earth. Most of you reading this, if Christians, are far more moderate than that; however, there is a degree to which moderates empower the crazies. If “moderate” means “only slightly consistent with our stated values,” then the crazies will take our values to their extreme conclusions. For example, Westboro Baptist Church is a highly consistent, incredibly evil consequence of Reformed theology. The goal is to be consistent and authentic while also not crazy and/or evil.

So how do we, as Christians, go about our Christianity in such a way that not only promotes what is right but also disenfranchises or even actively condemns the behavior of Westboro and similar organizations? How can we avoid compromising theological and spiritual integrity? We need to think hard about our values.

As for me, I do not ask that you automatically grant me authority to speak on these subjects. Test what I say. Do not reject it without consideration, but don’t pile on the bandwagon with me just because I promote your pet issues. If you will bear with me and hear me out, I hope that you will find yourself a more discerning and cautious Christian. Stay tuned for more!

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About Chris Attaway

Chris Attaway is a Christian philosopher seeking to refine the way we live through reasoning and reflection. Be sure to follow his blog, The Discerning Christian, for challenging articles which offer new perspectives on old problems.
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9 Responses to Why should you listen to me?

  1. Chase says:

    Not sure I like being referred to as a “crazy”, but I’ll stay tuned anyway.

    • A few things on this. Derrogatory comments refer more to what I’ll call the “gatekeepers,” to borrow a term I’ve heard elsewhere. These are the religious leaders who decide what sorts of doctrines are or are not allowed. Lay people and students are not nearly as culpable on issues of doctrine.

      Moreover, “crazy” here does not mean “devoid of intellectual capacity” but just “out there.” I personally find the notion of a 6,000 year old earth to be pretty far-fetched, so I won’t try to couch my views to be more palatable. I do, however, respect your freedom to choose to believe as you will.

      The main thing I will say, though, is that this blog is more about method than it is about specific doctrines. I definitely have my own opinions and beliefs, but those are secondary to the point.

      Lastly, I see a glaring mistake in my blog that came from something I deleted… rookie mistake, I guess. I will edit the blog later.

  2. I should just note that I am not *the* discerning Christian; this blog is *about* discerning Christians and how we might grow to be such persons. I am just me. Hopefully the name listed on my posts and replies will reflect this from now on.

  3. Not in any way Arthur says:

    What I never got is why the fight is so angry. Most evangelicals are either “faith alone” or Calvinists right?

    In one, believing the earth is 6000 years old doesn’t matter because the only thing that matters for salvation is believing in Jesus.

    In the other, it doesn’t matter God chooses you because he felt like it.

    Nothing about either seems to suggest not being a literalist at the time of death sends you to an eternal lake of fire.

    This is not Arthur :-D

    • Definitely in agreement here, but many people think the gospel hinges on these issues which many others find to be secondary or even not true at all. For example, John Piper believes that you can’t have the story of God’s redeeming original sin without a historical fall, but that is not at all true; however, it does explain the force with which some will argue these things. If they are correct, which frankly they’re not, then the spread of alternative takes on Genesis or some other contentious issue would, in their minds, condemn people to hell.

  4. Chase says:

    Wouldn’t the key doctrine to understand from the Fall is that man has freely chosen sin over evil? I would hold to a historical Fall myself but I don’t think Piper realizes how it could be taken to indicate merely our freely willed decisions of sin which needs God’s redemption. This is one area where I break off from several young earth creationists who seem to have gotten so caught up in defending there position that they mistakenly take it to be more important than it actually is.

    • Well, I would agree with you there, but John Piper and any self-respecting Calvinist would not. The issue for them is that man fell by sinning against God, which was part of God’s plan. The narrative of sin and redemption starting with Adam and ending in Jesus requires, for the Calvinist, a historical progression. This sin problem originates somewhere, and it is far more problematic for the Calvinist to say that God has intended sin for all of us and the fall is a metaphor describing God’s intentions rather than saying that God decreed a historical fall which actually took place, and man now sins as a result.

      Now granted, I think the two scenarios are equivalently bad: God is the author of sin in both. Hence part of why I am not a Calvinist.

  5. Pingback: What is listening, anyway? | The Discerning Christian

  6. Great and Wonderful People's Republic of Blogistan says:

    Welcome to Blogistan!

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