• Abigail Clauhs (CAS’14)

    Abigail Clauhs (CAS’14) Profile

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There are 11 comments on POV: What BU Can Learn from Evangelical Christians

  1. Thank you for this. While I am not an evangelical Christian I agree that they are our fellow students, faculty members and staff and should be part of any efforts that calls itself “interfaith”.

  2. An interesting article, one that raises some tough questions.

    Here’s one of them: if someone comes to your Council holding religious beliefs that, say, non-believers ought to be killed; women ought to be subjugated and severely punished if they become ‘insubordinate’; or that people who are gay are guilty of one of the most heinous sins and deserve little more than to be outright degraded (i.e. given fewer, if any, rights; excluded; considered to be ‘lower’ people, etc.); do you still celebrate the ‘difference and diversity among us’?

    If not, why? And if not, how would you reconcile this with accepting to the table individuals holding less extreme, but perhaps equally dangerous, unfounded, and ultimately outrageous beliefs?

    The problem, I suggest, is that the Interfaith Council can’t possibly reconcile its commitment to universalism with its commitment to the legitimacy of belief systems that are often at once rigidly absolute (like some evangelical beliefs might be) and dangerously radical.

    You can try to find a middle ground, where you say, ‘Well, we won’t accept those holding religious beliefs that non-believers ought to be killed en masse, but less radical beliefs are acceptable.’ Why? Isn’t this a moving line? How do you draw it? How do you determine what’s acceptable and unacceptable within the domain of religion? Doesn’t this immediately discount your commitment to giving legitimacy to all religions, even evangelicals?

    Short of a good reply, the project seems to me half-baked.

    1. The simple answer to your question is that there is no religion that holds the beliefs that you specified. There is no religion in the world that calls for people to degraded. If you are asking if there are religions out there who have different ideas about what is sinful as compared to the general public, yes, there are, but that does not mean that those religions are hateful. No legitimate religion that I have ever heard of is innately hateful or out to degrade people. Now, there are some people out there who are out to degrade, but the council can’t control that.

  3. “It is about learning to live in community while acknowledging that we all believe our religion is, indeed, the right one.” In other words, a community where we believe that everybody else is wrong. That does not sound like a good basis for “community.”

    What we *really* need at universities are institutions that help students overcome the indoctrination they have been subject to. We need a Non-Faith Council.

    Failing that, we need to abolish all faith-centered institutions and programs on campus, as faith has no place in a modern educational institution. Tolerance and acceptance, yes, but sponsorship and legitimization, no.

  4. Ryan, the author clearly says, “The goal of the interfaith movement is not universalism.” You’re caricaturing the interfaith movement, and forcing it into a tedious, overplayed, and ultimately unnecessary impasse concerning the limits of “universal” acceptance. Inviting everyone to the table is not the same as agreeing with what they say.

  5. The author wisely observes that “while minority religions feel a need to teach about themselves and strive for acceptance, the majority religion runs the risk of complacency.” However, she immediately goes on to say: “Christianity is secure in its position. It does not need to explain the meaning of its symbols or the motivations for its practices.” Apart from the early stages of Christianity in Jerusalem under the persecution of the Sanhedrin and of the Roman Empire, I cannot think of a time when Christianity has been less secure in its position than ours, and from what I can tell we are with increasing speed returning to the position Christianity held during the times I just referred to. To be an evangelical Christian or a “conservative” Catholic (one who believes the teachings of the Church on the authority of God’s having revealing them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived) is to be considered a fool or a fanatic (or both) by almost everyone in academia, in politics, or in the media, in short, by anyone who counts in the intelligentsia and elite who dominate in the present American regime. Evangelicals and true Catholics are not staying away from interfaith gatherings because of any complacency arising from the assurance that their views are the dominant ones– far from it. Rather, they fear not only contributing to the prevailing religious relativism according to which their views are supposedly no more valid than anyone else’s, but also that they will be held up to ridicule and even get into trouble for their “outmoded” or “intolerant” views, or any of several other available and even less flattering epithets which are commonly applied to them for disagreeing with those who are, in fact, quite complacent in the views they hold in keeping with the currently reigning law of opinion. It is the Christians who have the challenge of giving reasons for their views, not complacent liberals, smug in their unquestioned dogmas of “progress,” “freedom”, “tolerance”. While the author is to be commended for her offer to receive such people into the discussion and not “demonize them,” I cannot share her assumed optimism that others besides her will be so tolerant and benign towards evangelical Christians or conservative Catholics who dare to come out of the woodwork and voice their heretical and heterodox views.

      1. I agree! Very, very well said! Thank you for contributing. I am in a weird place right now where, once I was an evangelical Christian, so certain, so secure, with enormous conviction and now I am unsure and confused. But I also know, now that I’ve been on this side for 5 years, that believing so certainly that everyone else is wrong (or as a loving evangelical Christian, rather than everyone being wrong, you focus on sharing “The Good News” and the truth that all need to hear and consuming love that all can find in Jesus) feels so hurtful and exclusive and like it couldnt possibly be such in this vast, diverse world and universe where God, no matter what you believe, couldnt fit into such a little box. It is all so troubling because I still feel so much love and serenity and security when I recount beliefs like above, as my soul is transported back to my e. Christianity times… but at the same time feel such strong urges to be more open because I cant possibly KNOW the universe and what comes after it, right? I am a scientist and it definitely wasnt even that that threw me off the faith certainty boat.
        I digress… my point is, in agreement with Louis’ comment, and specifically from this weird place I am now in my faith (?), I do see such great pressure in our society and especially on university campuses and in an interfaith environment, against such staunch certainty and find it hard to imagine they wont be met with hoards trying to help them “see” how such certainty is wrong, or worse, be demonized for it. They probably rather go share the “Good News” with people on the steet or in the student union, using a survey as a segue into a one-on-one conversation. At least, that’s what I used to do. Why would they want to show up to a place that might be more hostile to their conviction, especially if they ARE CERTAIN and have the tools to defend, but just dont want to waste time against such resistance… where they could reach more “available” people elsewhere?

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