The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 October 2003

Of little faith

In an op-ed in The Boston Globe, unfortunately titled Warring with God, James Carroll, in his haste to paint General William G. Boykin as some kind of religious extremist without actually saying so, reveals that he, Carroll, has only the vaguest idea of what Boykin's religion actually is.

It was unfashionable of [Boykin] to speak aloud the implications of his ''abiding faith,'' but exclusivist claims made for Jesus Christ by most Christians, from Vatican corridors to evangelical revival tents, implicitly insult the religion of others. When Catholics speak of ''salvation'' only through Jesus, or when Protestants limit ''justification'' to faith in Jesus, aspersions are cast on the entire non-Christian world.

In his effort to avoid implicitly insulting other religions, Carroll explicitly insults one. Those "exclusivist claims" are at the very heart of Christianity; you take them out and you have — what? Certainly nothing recognizable as Christianity. What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai did not read "I am the Lord thy God, one of a panoply of such, all interchangeable." And Jesus Christ's statement that "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6) quite clearly doesn't allow for alternate paths.

But Carroll isn't interested in simple messages. Instead, he wallows in this multicultural mishmash:

How to affirm one's own faith without denigrating the faith of others? The problem can seem unsolvable if religion is understood as inherently dialectic — reality defined as oppositions between earth and heaven, the natural and the supernatural, knowledge and revelation, atheism and theism, secularism and faith, evil and good. If the religious imagination is necessarily structured on such polarities, then religion is inevitably a source of conflict, contempt, violence.

This teeters perilously close to an insistence that It's All Good, a notion that comes only from extreme blinders or high doses of Prozac. I don't think you could even sell this package to the Unitarians.

Susanna Cornett disposes of this premise more eloquently than I, and I find it interesting that while she is far more devout than I've ever been, we're pretty much on the same page here.

Posted at 3:03 PM to Immaterial Witness

TrackBack: 11:18 AM, 23 October 2003
» Boykin Wrap-Up from Backcountry Conservative
This post is a wrap-up of recent blogging that resulted from comments made by Lt. General William G. Boykin. If I missed something recent on this matter, let me know. Can the Crusader from Baldilocks Blaster's Blog on LTG Boykin......[read more]

I take much amusement from observing that the militant atheists -- "I don't have any answers and you don't either!" -- are responsible for a huge number of persons returning to faith. If they had the brains God gave a flea, they'd lighten up.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 5:22 PM on 21 October 2003