In sum – modern Christianity lacks both pull and push – it lacks the pull which comes from people being grounded in Paganism and Judaism; and it lacks the push of being a complex and complete explanation of the human condition, relations, meanings and purposes. If apologists both know and also attempt to supply all of this, to supply the depth and completeness of Christianity, they find they cannot do so all at once. If they try to be exact and comprehensive, the apologist comes-up against the modern inability to follow a long and complex line of argument; yet if he tries to present Christianity all at once then what can be communicated is inevitably a gross simplification: incomplete and shallow.
Anyone arguing a nonliberal belief system faces this dilemma (although, as Bruce points out, Christians face particularly steep opposition because the population is not neutrally ignorant, but has been actively inoculated against this faith). I’ve had to deal with it in each of my essays. Not many people want to read more than a page-worth of material, and assuming too much background knowledge also limits one’s audience. On the other hand, if you’re not clear, if you leave out key steps in your argument, or if you fail to address the major possible objections, the result will be worse than useless for any reader who catches these omissions. They’ll come away less open to my position than they were before. I expect all the Orthosphere writers who have undertaken general “statement of principles” pieces have dealt with this issue. Anyway, my blogging New Year’s resolution is to put up some defenses of Christianity in particular (as opposed to theism in general) this year.
Bruce suggests that for people to grasp Christianity, they must approach it like children. This is ironic, because one of the things I worry most about is passing the faith on to my daughter. In this case, I have all the time I could want, but only before she becomes intellectually mature. Such is one of the clever ways modernity undermines the faith. Parents only get to teach their children religion during childhood, and they must present it accordingly. When they grow up, the children go to college and get their “adult knowledge” from atheist professors. Looking back on the faith they were taught, they remember the child-oriented presentation and naturally conclude that Christianity is childish. I’m still trying to figure out a way around this trap.
Filed under: Defense of Christianity |