Traditional Christianity Week At Freedom Twenty-Five

by Frost on December 20, 2011

I’m less than a week away from launching myself on a two-month tour of sex, drugs, and rock and roll in Southeast Asia,so I think it’s a fine time to make a foray into the religious. Lord, grant me chastity and all that fun stuff, but not yet.

I’ve never been a religious man.

My family is vaguely Christian, or at least we used to pretend to be. On Christmas Eve, we would all go to Church. I distinctly remember it as the most boring hour of every year, made worse by the fact that it came the night before the real Christmas morning celebration of shiny new toys.

One year, we arrived at the Church late. Since we were not the only family of Christmas Eve Christians in the neighborhood, the Church was at capacity. We went home. The same thing happened next year, and thus began the Frost family tradition of pretending to try to go to Church one night of the year, because it was the thing to do. Of course we could have easily gone earlier and secured seats, but it was our unspoken agreement and holiday tradition to arrive at a time we knew to be too late, say “Aww shucks!” and go home to eat cookies and wait for the morning.

Like I said: I’ve never been a religious man. And I’m still not. I don’t go to Church. I don’t pray. I don’t believe, nor have I ever been tempted to. As annoying and pathetic as I find most outspoken atheists, I basically agree with them.

Unlike your garden variety atheist though, who read The God Delusion and now feels like the smartest sociology freshman on campus, I have quite a bit of respect for Christians and Christianity. The latter is one of the foundations of Western Civilization and a positive, uplifting force in both individuals and societies, regardless of whether its premises are true, and the latter are generally decent people under unfair assault from an anarchic political culture bent on oxidizing whatever order and justice remains in our society.

I recently became interested in learning more about Christianity and the world’s religions though, for a few reasons:

1) I’m interested in history. Even if Christianity is theology irrelevant, it is the most important intellectual movement in human history.

2) I’m interested in meaning, purpose, morality and la dolce vita. Whether Jesus was the Son of God or not, I would be a fool to rule out the ability of a highly developed, thousands-of-years-old tradition to teach me something.

3) I have never in my life seriously considered believing in God. I’ve always viewed the religious not with contempt, but with a hint of smug self-superiority. I have too much respect for too many Christian writers and thinkers for this to be an intellectually honest position.

4) Anything that the modern Progressive movement hates so virulently can’t be all bad.

So, just to be clear so I don’t any of my Christian readers’ hopes up – I am not going through some kind of crisis of self. I am not in the crushing throes of a quarter-life crisis, reaching out for some truth, any truth, any firm ground to stand on while the world crashes down around me (at least no more than usual). I invite any and all Christians (Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc) to try to plead their prophets’ cases to me, and I promise to respectfully consider those arguments in good faith. But I think it’s very unlikely I come out the other side of this intellectual mini-journey a Christian.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting links and guest posts by a few Traditionalist Christians, to whom I reached out to and asked for open letters to the atheists of my generation, as well as a few of my own thoughts on the spiritual. I don’t expect many conversions to come out of this experiment, but I do expect it to be an interesting conversation. Stay tuned.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

J.M. December 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm

You should start reading Chesterton and Lewis as other commenters said before, also you should try to find books that depict the Middle Ages in a fair view, not the protestantized version of history (the Black legend), this would be particularly easy if you have access to the works of European authors W.A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, C. Lorieux “Chrétiens d’ Orient en terres d’ Islam” (2002), K. McDonald “Culture of Critique” (2002), or Jean Dummont . Once you finish with them you could start with this website http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com, which is a good source of christian doctrine and teachings. I hope my recommendation is useful to you, for your advice has been helpful.

Jehu December 23, 2011 at 1:56 am

There’s quite a bit of wisdom in your point 4. Progressives have a far better sense of ‘smell’ than do those like you or I in terms of determining their enemies. It’s why, for instance, the antifa types attacked some Battle Lore (a Finnish epic metal band with Lord of the Rings themes). They recognized, perhaps nearly at a gut level, the implicit whiteness and Westerness of it (Eastern Terror keep away is a line in one of their songs).

Jokah Macpherson December 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I’ve never understood the reasoning of Christmas eve-only churchgoers. It’s like going to the gym to lift weights once a year.

Dulst December 20, 2011 at 11:45 pm

I agree about outspoken atheists being a pain in the ass, but The God Delusion actually promotes the artistic, literary and historic aspects of Christianity. People who assume an air of assumed superiority are annoying regardless of their beliefs, and I think atheists get a disproportionately high amount of criticism for this.

Aurini December 21, 2011 at 9:33 am

I agree, Dulst.

While I have no time for the left-wing, arrogant, Atheistkult mentality (good for you, you figured out there’s no god; would you like a cookie for your amazing work of intellectual independence?), I’m equally frustrated and upset when I run into Christians who predicate their lives on superstitious belief (such as that the antichrist is coming, or that homosexuality is an ‘unnatural sin’).

The past thousand years of theological work are amazing, and not to be discounted (though equally to be taken with a grain of salt – these were men, not angels, doing the writing). I couldn’t agree with Frost more – that we ought to look at the ideas with respect, and further I’d say that the religious module of the brain needs *something* in there, something bigger than ourselves. Wash out god with a broad-spectrum anti-biotic, and all sorts of pernicious memes can get in (communism, leftism).

What I too often see in Christians, however, is the same Atheistkult arrogance – screeching about things they don’t understand (be it tradition marriage for Atheistkult, or evolution for Christianity), and advocating the most simplistic solution (“Come to God,” “Read Dawkins”).

A bit more humbleness on both sides is needed. What are we, Muslims who care about outer appearances, and not the inner soul? For them, screeching about X, Y, Z makes sense – we’re supposed to have more sophistication than that.

Frost December 22, 2011 at 3:08 am

I think it a lot of me attitude is the result of where I grew up and my social circle.

My undergrad was overflowing with the most annoying kind of atheists, but I’ve barely met any actual Christians in my ‘real life.’ Thus, my sample of them is CS Lewis, Chesterton, Peter Hitchens, and the smartest Trad Christian bloggers I’ve found. I don’t deny that ignorant, annoying Christians exist, and maybe my attitude towards them would be more hostile if I had been raised in a community of them.

Jack Dublin December 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I recommend the major apologists throughout history. Start with the Summa Theologica (considering its length you might go with ‘A Shorter Summa’ by Peter Kreft) and a bit of Augustine. Then move forward to G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.
Other than those:
Vox Day’s ‘The Irrational Atheist’ would be another good choice, particularly for the historical information.
The Bible itself.
And I’ll give one argument for Theism right now:
Mozart (the aesthetic argument)

If nothing else you will be the most intellectually honest atheist/agnostic I have ever heard of. Try talking to most atheists about the Problem of Pain or any of Aquinas’ work and you get blank faces.

Heathcliff December 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

If you wanted to approach things from a very rational and scientific viewpoint you could read some of the very strong arguments for intelligent design such as Darwin’s Black Box or The Creator and the Cosmos.

Koanic December 21, 2011 at 6:29 am

ID is about as compelling as evolution, that is to say, no very.

spandrell December 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

The problem with Christianity these days is that all major churches are leftist, multiculturalist Cathedral branches. So self-identifying as Christian makes all those leftists think you are one of them.
Theology is ok, but in the end religion is a social club. And God knows I want no part in that club.

theodred December 20, 2011 at 11:57 am
Andrew December 20, 2011 at 10:51 am

Just as TCarlyle mentioned I think Chesterton and Lewis would be better suited for you. Some of McDowel’s stuff is all right. However, his interpretation methods I disagree with when it comes to scripture. I believe the best evidence is found within the nature of man. He has a concept of good yet consistently does evil in thought and deed. He looks for a redeemer/savior/hero to save. He looks towards the heavens in awe and reverence. If he is not worshiping himself he worships something. All these could be explained naturally and philosophically. However, I don’t think it is necessarily proof of God’s non-existence rather a consequence of His own creation.

Koanic December 21, 2011 at 6:19 am

Which books by chesterton or Lewis?

Rob December 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

Atheists and believers have more in common than not. Most atheists follow the Ten Commandments. Most atheists would say a person should live honestly and respect their neighbor. Atheists have inherited nearly all the attitudes stemming from the Judeo-Christian belief. They may not believe in a God that lives up in the clouds, but the god that lives between your ears and tells you what to think and feel and do is more powerful anyway.

Most atheists possess that smug superiority you mentioned. It’s funny, really, because they exhibit the same orthodoxy of thought that everyone else does.

You might consider studying some Jewish thinkers. We did, after all, write the Old Testament. And I’m not so sure rationalism/the Scientific Method isn’t the most important intellectual movement in history. Whether it is or isn’t is debatable.

Simon December 20, 2011 at 5:14 am

Are you interested in truth, Frost? What’s your standard for determining whether something is true?

Stryker December 20, 2011 at 2:55 am

Here is a free lecture that might be of interest. A similar shortcut to basic Christian Theology.

http://www.newreformationpress.com/blog/nrp-freebies/christianity-in-five-verses/

Stryker December 20, 2011 at 2:50 am

If you are going to understand Christianity at all you need to be familiar with it’s primary texts. Here is a shortcut/ overview that will help. If you are interested hit the contact button on the site and drop me an email. You can have it for free.

https://www.newreformationpress.com/audio/bible-in-an-hour.html

josh December 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

Thanks!

TCarlyle December 20, 2011 at 2:15 am

Keep Pascal’s wager in mind.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager
It’s a fascinating thought.
I myself left organized Protestantism, was a die-hard agnostic (huh?), and have found myself returning to the fold of thought by notables such as Chesterton and Lewis.

Koanic December 20, 2011 at 2:07 am

One shouldn’t convert unless there is sufficient evidence for literal, rational, eye-open belief in the assertions of fact made.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

http://www.koanicsoul.com/blog/resources/proving-christianity-is-true/

Frost December 20, 2011 at 2:13 am

I agree. I will definitely check out McDowell’s books. Which of those two do you suggest I start with?

Cheers,

Frost

Koanic December 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

Well “Evidence that demands a verdict” is 800 pages, whereas “A ready defense” is 400 pages of the “best of”. So start with “A ready defense.” There are really only a couple of critical sections; the rest is optional.

The only thing that McDowell isn’t good for is fitting the Genesis account into a scientific account of the big bang from the standpoint of an earth observer, factoring in relativistic time. But you don’t need any of that to convert. Let sleeping leviathans lie… there are plenty more like that one when you’re ready.

After you convert, read the 4 gospels, and NOT the rest of the New Testament, until you properly appreciate their standing relative to Jesus’ own words. Feel free to read the Old Testament as well. However, the next step after reading the Gospels would be to read Vox Day’s Wrath Trilogy. Be forgiving of the slow beginning, like Tolkein he takes a bit to get going. After that, read Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s collected works and Tolkein’s collected works. Then you’ll have an understanding of Christian civilization, spiritual principles, and worldview .

Then it’s time to understand the Bible more deeply, which requires understanding Church and Biblical history. I’m still working on this stage myself. Just reading the Bible by itself will expose you to many potential errors, and I say that as someone who has read it multiple times.

Optionally, you can choose the advanced course in Christian civilization and ancient history by reading Texas Arcane and Cambria Will Not Yield. You should also read Voice of the Martyrs for an idea of what’s currently going on. And Vox Day is a good all round source.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: