This week found me dialoging on a Christian theology forum.
I did a bit of reflection on alternative viewpoints. There is a movie called God is Not Dead. The movie presents a philosophy professor, who insists folks take his viewpoint in class. Yet my experience in philosophy classes, is they are open to multiple viewpoints. And sometimes it’s good to argue a viewpoint that’s not your own. I remember taking a business ethics class at the College of DuPage. The professor has some projects for us to work on, with a partner. My partner and I found the one on the porn industry fascinating. Then I went on to defend the position of a porn producer and my partner took the place of a TV interviewer. The professor said he can envision me as a porn producer – something that would go against every ethical grain in my fiber.
And sometimes we might discover an unusual and interesting new viewpoint. The best response I’ve seen started on evil and the Christian response to it, came from the Journal of Christian Theology and Philosophy. It’s called Eternal Selves and The Problem of Evil at Problem of Evil . Or someone argues for reincarnation. Let me propose an alternative explanation. How do we know that a person having reincarnation memories of past lives is not tapping into genetic memory (see genetic memory )? We could have access to everyone’s experience who ever lived. It would be akin to the collective unconscious of Carl Jung.
Then I reflected on two other things:
- I was asking an Indian friend about something the Muslims believe, as he was married to a Muslim wife. But he was a scientific type and an agnostic. He told me that western university scholars had the best understanding, what the Muslims believe and practice.
- Then I read a story about a holy person or saint in India. Some of this students asked what a certain popular figure’s place on something was. He told them to pick up the telephone – call them – and ask them.
So I do like both these pieces of advice. Go and see what the western academic scholars say – who don’t belong to that group. Or pick up the telephone and ask them.
I also thought about a story from a popular health and prosperity gospel minister – Larry Ollison. He had a dream in which God taught him all the secrets of the universe. He remembered that everything was very simple. Yet he couldn’t remember the details.
Then I remember emailing a Baptist minister, who had a PhD in theology from a Catholic university. He taught church history at the College of DuPage. I asked him if there was a rational way to tell which Christian group is right. He got mad at me and discussed the topic the next day in class. But he didn’t mention me by name. He said there is no rational way and it end up being a matter of belief.
I’m not so hard pressed on positions and it’s good to see alternatives – at least, be aware of them. I can appreciate reading a great work of literature like Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Yet I am opposed to her atheistic and self-centered philosophy.
In the article (i.e. from Dr. Mark E. Ross – associate dean and associate professor of systematic theology at the Columbia campus of Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina) at Unity it says, “How, then, can we be one in Christ and show the communion of saints? It would seem that either we must ignore our doctrinal differences and treat them as inconsequential, or we must remain permanently divided and in opposition to one another until Christ returns. Is there not a more excellent way? (1 Cor. 12:31).”
Perhaps when things finally end in time – we might find things as simple as the dream of Larry Ollison.