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Faith, choice, and prophecy

July 6, 2014

Rod Dreher is in a tizzy that young people are mixing different religious traditions, choosing what they want from one or more. He huffs:

Traditionalists really do believe that religious truth claims are objectively true, and binding.

The thinking above is so compartmentalized it is amazing that one head can hold it. Christians want people to have faith. To believe, as a matter of choice. But to choose only what “cohere[s] within a religious tradition.” And having chosen what to believe, to treat it as objective truth. To then refrain from choosing something else.

And to take that cognitive sequence as sensible, rather than something much like being the victim of a well-oiled marketing machine. I’d say if you’re going to choose religious beliefs, practicing some kind of mix-and-match consumerism makes much more sense than what Dreher wants.

Dreher resents people creating their own religion by taking what they like and adding to it. Ignoring that that is how every religious tradition starts. Mohammed did that. Augustine did that. Paul did that. The unknown authors of the Old Testament did that. Behind each, we can see different religious traditions that were rewoven and augmented. Yahweh was invented by someone whose identity Dreher doesn’t know, in a time and place that Dreher doesn’t know, working in a religious tradition of which Dreher has only the murkiest understanding. The one thing we can say with certainty is that that past prophet chose some of religion that came before, and added what he wanted. Undoubtedly upsetting the traditionalists of his time. And now Dreher hails it as objective truth, while complaining about the very process by which it was born!

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