why do I do these things to myself? Part II

I'm viewing the DVD sessions of the Truth Project, and I hope to be able to comment on each one of them in turn on this here blog. But it takes a while to ruminate and articulate, and it's been a crazy* week.

In the meantime, here is some content from an email I wrote to a friend who request concrete examples of some of the problems I was ranting to her about.

Here's a statement from session one:

The truth claims of God are consistent and logical; they make sense; they work. And even in a fallen world, when we follow them, they lead to peace and prosperity and happiness.

Actually, as 2,000 years worth of martyrs could attest, following Christ can lead to poverty, suffering and death. Following Christ is not about our personal happiness and prosperity. And we follow a person, by the way-- we follow Jesus Christ. We do not follow a set of truth claims. Sets of propositional truth claims can often be useful in explicating various aspects of the faith, but they are tools. They are not the incarnate Word of God.

Here's another one:

Look at God's truth claim in any particular area and look at its opposite...it's pretty much dead on what the culture is saying.

WHICH culture? He speaks as if there's only one. There are many radically different cultures, many of which have some overlap with "God's truth claims." Islam, for example, holds that God created the world. So do we. Enlightenment naturalism assumes that the world is knowable to some extent. So do we. And so on. Using the old "everything of the culture is evil and anti-God" line is intellectually lazy and does not result in appropriate cultural engagement.

And another:

A Biblical worldview is built on the presupposition that God exists and has revealed Himself to us in two ways: One, through creation itself, and two, through the special revelation of Scripture.

No mention of the incarnation of God in Christ. None. That statement is only one instance of a Truth Project proclivity to leave a gaping hole where Jesus should be.

This one left me gaping: "Plato had it right," he says, about universal ideals, "he just didn't know where to get them."

Either the poor man has catastrophically misunderstood Plato, or his theology is catastrophically unsound. Plato argued that ultimate reality resided in universal forms or ideals. "Eidos" is the Greek term. The material world was illusory and in essence unreal (or, at most, contingent in their being). This is in direct contradiction to Bible, wherein God makes the world and calls it "good," wherein God Himself takes on real physical flesh in Christ Jesus, wherein we are promised we will spend eternity in God's presence in physical, resurrected bodies on a physical, made-new earth.

In some sense it really is like watching a hostile takeover of the Christian faith by the metaphysics of presence.

And I've only watched the first two sessions.

Like I said, I do intend to locate these particular flaws in the context of some overarching issues of assumption and approach in a future blog post. Meanwhile, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.

*I was peed on while composing this post.


Jeana said...

Well, the first two claims are working under the assumption that the entire world is contained withing the boundaries of the USA. But then, most of their audience is probably working under the same assumption, so it's possible they were just "speaking to the expected audience" on that one. :-)

Of course, put with the next two statements, I'd have to lean toward your theory, that his theology is catastrophically unsound.

And this series is endorsed by Focus on the Family, yes?

I just got through explaining to my kids that sometimes you learn as much (or more) by going through something and finding the errors as you do by watching something that's all true (John Adams miniseries, I'm looking at YOU) but every once in a while it would be nice to run into something that was right to begin with. Of course, then the masses would have no interest in it, would they?

a Tonggu Momma said...

I am so glad you are writing about this. The church we are visiting just began this series. I've been uncomfortable with it since I heard the first few comments about it from the pastor. Your posts are helping me stop, slow down and put my finger on why I didn't like the curriculum.

Veronica MItchell said...

I think the basic (and predictable) problem you are getting at is the deep strain of rationalism in eveangelicalism. As you point out (and THANK YOU), Jesus is not the focus of the faith presented by TP; the focus of faith is a series of propositional statements that (it is claimed) can be apprehended rationally, proven logically, and ultimately cohere without contradiction or conflict.

But that is not what we get in the Christian faith. Yes, reason has a place and a history in Christianity, but the heart of our faith is revealed rather than reasoned, and it is revealed as a basic logical contradiction: the Trinity. How can something be both one and three? Paradoxes do not get more basic than elementary math.

We are all about Jesus. A person who could not reason his way through an 8th grade geometry test is still a Christian by virtue of clinging to Christ, not by his understanding of a deductive argument.

Kimberly said...

I am, predictably, horrified by the specific comments you mention. But, as someone else has said (something about being adequate?) perhaps the fault partially lies in trying to make the series something that it isn't: a totally comprehensive argument covering many subjects and disciplines.

Frankly, it would be interesting to see a series JUST on philosophy, or science, or whatever. Anything trying to be comprehensive is bound to make its strokes too broad and its coverage too thin.

happygeek said...

Gotta love an output incident while writing a post.

Following the truth of the gospel leads to peace and prosperity? Who wrote that? Osteen?
Thanks for your time reviewing this.