Skip to comments.Excerpts from Harry Blamires' "The Post-Christian Mind"
Posted on 05/18/2005 12:35:06 PM PDT by sionnsar
Thanks to Jill Woodliff.
Chapter 1, The Post-Christian Mind
No weapon is more necessary today to the Christian apologist than that of verbal sensitivity. The abuse of words plays a key role in the decomposition of our moral and intellectual stabilities... Indeed, one reason why we define what we are up against as the "post-Christian" mind and not the "anti-Christian" mind is that current secularist humanism feeds on the inheritance of the faith it has abandoned. There is much in anti-Christian propaganda today--its vocabulary and concepts--that is essentially parasitical on the Christian tradition.
Chapter 7, Values
We have heard too much lately about Christians trying to impose their "private" values on a secular society. And from time to time in this book we turn up evidence of concepts produced by psychobabblers that the post-Chritian mind is happy to pass off as "values." Here and now, however, we must insist that "private" morality, unless it means an individual's personal and particular application of universal morality, is a contradiction in terms. All morality is public. A person's moral system should be limited to being "private" only insofar as it was distinguishable from other people's, but a code of conduct strictly inapplicable to anyone else would not be a code at all but a collection of whims. If a given attitude is distinguishabe from any attitudes adoped by others, it cannot be described as moral. There is, of course, a moral code that is recognizably "Christian," but in no sense is it private. On the contrary, it has universal application to the whole of humanity. As for imposing that moral code on the public in general, Western civilization has, by and large, established its judicial system and its code of law on the basis of Judeo-Christian formulations.
Christians today need to be perpetually vigilant against the central assault of post-Christian secularism. The assault takes the form of an attempt to relativize whatever is fixed, whatever is firm, whatever represents the absolue and the transcendent in the presuppositions on which Christian civilization has been built. It is necessary to remind ourselves continually that the post-Christian agenda is for the destruction of morality by process of decomposition. That is to say, recognized stabilities--whether spiritual, intellectual, or moral--must be undermined. Whatever the Christian accepts as universally true, valid, binding, and decisive must be rendered in appearance a matter of conjecture or opinion, of choice or whim, of variable relevance or application, of ultimately subjective significance only...
One of secularism's most useful devices for weakening the Christian Church has been the policy of relativizing and individualizing values and beliefs. I think an important Christian defense against this policy is for us to be on our guard against allowing people to mentally write off our Christian convictions as purely individual hunches. Our belief in the resurrection of Christ is not an interesting personal presference on a par with our fondess for colorful ties or detective novels. Such articles of belief are the univeral endowment of a massive body of humanity stretching back through the centuries and reaching forward into eternity. When I was active in the academic world, I was sometimes asked questions such as, "What is your opinion?" or "What do you think?" in relation to queries about fundamental religious or moral issues. And I sometimes chose to begin my reply by saying, "Look, it doesn't matter much what my opinion is or what I think." Then I could continue, "The Christian faith is that... " or "The Church teaches that... " or "The Bible tells us that ... " We have to combat the idea that great doctrines of the faith are private possessions that we acquire individually. In the same way we have to combat the idea that moral standards fundamental to good living are privately selected and amassed. People speak nowadays as though individuals have to collect a personal portfolio of morals and values to serve them through life. It is as though we have to choose and arrange together a variety of ingredients from the moral values stall and devise our own personal menu.
Chapter 13, Freedom
In tackling this problem we have the advantage of a firm biblical account of what freedom is, and it comes from the mouth of our Lord himself. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn 8:31-32). The peculiar interest of this definition is that Jesus was immediately tackled over what he meant: "What are you talking about? We are all Abraham's descendants and not in bondage to anyone." But Jesus pressed his definition home with great precision. "Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever commiteth sin is the servant of sin" (Jn 8:34).
The word "servant" here means "slave." The slave is not a free member of a household. He lives in bondage there. There is surely here a stark contradiction between our Lord's definition and the popular conception today of what it means to be free. You get to a junction in the road and you are free to turn left or right. A man or a woman is free to marry or to stay single. Every citizen is free to vote for a right-wing candidate or for a left-wing candidate. What this amounts to is that we locate freedom in the empty space before a decision is made. But Christ's words seem to locate true freedom in the space that follows upon decision. You may choose to sin or not to sin, but if you choose to sin you have lost your freedom and become a slave to sin. Freedom appears to be something that you gain or forfeit. It seems to stand on the further side of choice and decision...
And, as now exploited, the expression "freedom of thought" is just another form of words to define total absence of conviction. The words are the Open Sesame to the Aquarian realm of conceptual fluidity. "Freedom of thought," as now accepted, is in effect an ultimate commitment to nonthought.
Current post-Christian verbal usage tends to locate "freedom" in a vacuum, in a state of mental openness to various options prior to commitment to any of them. The Christian concept of "freedom" is of an endowment granted on the further side of commitment. It does not occupy an empty space before anything has happened: it is a blessing purchased after a ransom has been paid.
Chapter 19, Conclusion
Decalogue of Decomposition
Where there are objective values, let them be subjectivized.
Where there are absolutes, let them be relativized.
Where there are intimations of transcendance, let them be dismissed.
Where there are structures, moral or social, let them be fragmented.
Where there are foundations, let them be destabilized.
Where there are traditions, let them be discredited.
Where there are distinctions, let them be whittled away.
Where there are boundaries, let them be abolished.
Where there are contrasts, let them be intermingled.
Where there are contradictions, let them be amalgamated.
Posted by Greg Griffith at May 17, 2005 11:27 PM (GMT -6:00)
I like Peter Kreeft's work on moral relativism. He's an excellent instructor and breaks these philosophical issues down very well.
Excellent. I would like to get this book. A fabulous way of explaining the problems I have with so many Christian bashers. Went to a writer's group last night...one of the writers made disparaging remarks about how some Americans were 'judgemental' about her drug usage while in France. I am not clever enough to shoot down that straw man, but I think this book might help me defend my position.
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