There is a fascinating conversation taking place on whether or not to raise a child in the church. In it she writes,
Basically, neither of us believe that we can be sure one way or the other and, at least for me, I’m just not sure it matters. In the end, shouldn’t we be good people because it’s just the right thing to do, independent of judgment from on high? And any God who might be out there… wouldn’t he/she/it be rather pleased I’ve lived a good life and been kind to others? There’s just something about the notion of an all powerful being who will punish me for not believing despite the quality of my life that seems a little… self serving? Narcissistic? So we’ve decided to raise our daughter in the way that makes the most sense to us. As she grows up and begins to question the world around her, we’ll help her understand that people all over the world believe all kinds of different things. As an intelligent human being, it’s her job to find the belief system that is right for her and makes her feel happy and fulfilled.
At last tally she was nearing 300 comments and multiple trackbacks to this post.
I tried to break it all down for my wife so that we could understand what was taking place both in the original post but also in the comments below it. In brief, “Hey God, [whoever you are], You’re not the boss of me or my kid.” It is the moral “emancipation proclamation.” It is the struggle toward ethical independence. It is the sad attempt to declare oneself autonomous of any authority.
What worse, it would seem that most of the comments are those of similarly burned cynics. Nearly all of her readers seem to have had a horrible church experience growing up Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, or whatever. Now, in order to redeem those memories and to prevent the same from happening to their kids, the alternative is not the elimination of faith, but the inclusion of all worldviews.
The author refers to herself as “agnostic.” Although there is an increasing pull in Western society toward “new atheism,” which aims to cleanse the world of faith, this mood is also wildly popular. The mantra of the agnostic is tolerance and pluralism within faith.
Once again, let me define the latter. Pluralism: All groups’ beliefs and practices are equally valid, when interpreted within their own culture. Salvation is for all. (in their words at religioustolerance.org — except that I corrected their grammatical mistake)
Again from that same source:
According to David Barrett et al, editors of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified worldwide.
They suggest 4 possible responses to having “34,000 separate Christian groups“:
There are four main methods of viewing other denominations and religions:
|Extreme Particularism: This is the belief that one’s own faith group possesses all of the truth, as revealed to their religion, alone, by God. Other faith groups and religions worship demons and are led by Satan. Few if any of them will be saved.|
|Exclusivism: One’s own group possesses the truth as God revealed it to them. Other religious groups are in serious error, and place the latter’s members in grave peril regarding salvation.In recent years, some theologians have objected to the term “exclusivism” because of its negative connotation. They prefer the term “particularism” Within Christianity, this belief system takes two main forms:
|Inclusivism: One’s own group possesses the truth; other religious groups contain parts of the truth. The latter’s believers are less likely to be saved.|
|Pluralism: All group’s beliefs and practices are equally valid, when interpreted within their own culture. Salvation is for all.|
I suggested this to “Skinny Sushi”:
Skinny, your “morality” is worthless. Is there no place to instruct your child why there is death or why there is life? Shouldn’t responsible parenting include explaining the consequence of lawlessness? Life only begins when you’ve reached the end of morality and all it amounts to nothing but worthlessness.
To which Skinny replies:
breadandsham – there is death because our bodies cease in their abilities to function, wear out like anything else, and there is death because people become ill, commit crimes, or have accidents. There is death because that is the best biological plan. Continued existence without death would create quite a population explosion. There is life because of a complex biological event, easily explained by science, in which cells divide and become life. The consequences of lawlessness are easily explained… it’s called the legal system, and that is its whole purpose. I don’t see why it has anything to do with one or another person’s idea of divinity.
To which I reply:
It sounds like you haven’t fully thought it all through yet. Your comments are dismissive and pretentious.
Your worldview (and that of many of your readers) is entirely consistent with your basic presupposition. That basic presupposition is that you are god. You have failed to fully think through the implications of such a worldview. It reduces to irrationalism and a hopeless relativity that is entirely unlivable.
Everyone defining for themselves what is right is not possible. There must be some standard. This is elementary philosophy.
Admit that you don’t like the teaching of the Mormon church and move closer to truth, but don’t abolish the very notion of a benevolent Creator God who is revealing himself to mankind who exist only because and for His purpose. He makes Himself known whether you put your hand in front of your eyes or not.
Don’t let the online banter and the various positions comfort you. Let them make you uncomfortable and unsatisfied. There must be a better way to raise a child than simply, “You are in control. You decided what you believe is right. There are not rules and there is no accountability.” No one actually believes this consistently. You ought to seek answers from non peers lest we all lose our backbone.
I await a response . . .
PS She could not have picked a more appropriate image for her post. (the same image I have picked for mine)