I met a new Christian today and for a flighting moment, I thought that just maybe we could be on the same page. Then, once again, I felt like I am on my page alone . . . at least here in my neck of the woods if not the whole world.
You see, the dude is a recent Harvard graduate and we had a very interesting talk about Cambridge, MA and the Harvard campus scene (I've only visited there once).
I knew he was a Christian and we talked about some mutual acquaintances at Harvard.
But then he threw me a curve. He is involved with a very fundamentalist, charismatic church. The church practices speaking in tongues in their morning worship services, and faith healings are a corner stone to their ministry.
I wanted to write a long essay someday about my views of this brand of Christianity, so I can try and make sense of it. However, I just don't have the time right now. Actually, I shouldn't be even blogging right now as I have too much to do.
When I share my hesitation with charismatic Christianity, many of my Christian friends, and including Denise, see me as just being critical and judging other believers. But I have a lot of history with that branch of Evangelicalism. When I was involved with charismatic groups in college, it was the most intellectually and emotionally dishonest time of my life. I started seeing supernatural miracles every day, crosses in the clouds, bugs that spoke prophecy to me and etc. I will come back to this in another post, which I was working on before I got so busy. In that post I wanted discuss the thought (based on a comment that HUG said) who is really the insane and who is sane?
But, in brief, here is my position I see human intellect, reason or logic (however you want to frame it) as a wonderful gift from God. However, it is not perfect so we can't know all truth 100% of the time but we can know most of it most of the time. So faith is not the opposite to reason nor is faith a spiritual counterpart to worldly reason. Knowledge is wonderful. Knowing as much as the world as we can is our calling.
I also know that our perceptions and emotions are also corruptible. We are all prone to playing games with ourselves an others on a psychological level. Self-deception is very common and we can't trust our own hearts. If I hear voices coming from bugs, then am I not insane and completely out of touch with reality? I never really heard voices from bugs, but I lied, like I think everyone in our group was doing, in order to impress my charismatic brothers and sisters.
Additionally, when you look at the world dualistically, you think that only things that go against the laws of nature are of God. In my view, all of nature is of God. Everything this side of nothing is a miracle. So 'supernatural miracles are not necessary for my faith.
Now God certainly can work outside the wonderful laws of nature, which He has made. But they better be "Biblical-grade" miracles if you want me to believe that it is more likely they are real than me just imagining it. I mean, people should be raised from the dead. Arms should re grow. People should speak languages, fluently, that they have never studied.
So, is there any place left for rational Christianity? The Great Randi is my hero. He is a (secular) rationalist and skeptic. He has a million dollar award for any supernatural act. No one has take the prize so far.
So, it quickly became an oxymoron for me. A Harvard graduate in the most irrational brand of Evangelicalism. I can't even discuss my skepticism outside my own head without being perceived as "nonspiritual," critical, etc. Is there rational Christianity practiced anywhere anymore? If reason has no purpose then I may as well become a new age pantheistic.