With this post I mean to talk to newcomers to this blog, and in particular, the subset that might hold reasons to not want to read some of the posts or comments here. I’ve tried to generalise as much as I can, but in the end I think I know of only one particular demographic that could have that sentiment. I’ve tried various ways to phrase the warning I mean to write, in the end, I think it’s easiest to write the warning “in the voice of” the target audience of this blog post:
Some Bible Believing Christians, in particular those that are quite new to the “Biblical Christian” way of life, or those that are currently struggling with doubts, should rather not expose themselves to ideas that seek to challenge their beliefs. Such ideas could possibly undermine your faith and cause you to loose your way. It is very noble of you to want to engage in conversation with unbelievers and others that have lost their way, but you should rather leave it to those that are stronger in their faith, or come back later once you have grown stronger. This blog is one of those places that can be dangerous. Some posts are interesting and safe to read, but every now and then there are posts that sow the seeds of doubt. Some of those that leave comments have the explicit goal to try to deconvert you, and Hugo isn’t even a Christian, even if he sometimes sounds like one or states that he considers himself to be “following Jesus”. Be warned, and rather read your Bibles than this blog.
Those are not my opinions, which you can deduce from the fact that I write and run this blog. Let me express some thoughts in a “progressive voice” in defense of reading and engaging in this blog:
Faith and ignorance are not one and the same thing. If we hold onto our faith by keeping ourselves ignorant, by not allowing any criticisms or challenges, what happens if we cling to an incorrect belief? We never know everything. If we ignore any criticisms, how will we correct it? Usually we correct one another, or our pastor corrects us. What if our pastor makes a mistake though? What if we are all mistaken about something, because we all happen to think in the same way about it? How will we escape a situation similar to insisting on keeping our belief that the sun orbits the earth, or that apartheid is the divinely ordained state of society in South Africa? Sometimes a prophetic voice can come from the weirdest places. Sometimes even a donkey can talk to us. Then there’s another reason to read this blog: to understand those that think differently. We need to understand those that don’t have the same views, otherwise we will be unable to communicate effectively.
Both the “block quotes” above are open to being rewritten — if you’re a Christian and would like to write better versions of the above to help your fellow Christians decide whether they should read this blog or not, please do, then I’ll replace my words with yours. (“Better” should be determined by those that agree with the stance you’re writing for). Multiple contributions are also welcome.
The Comments are Worse
An additional warning: this is the internet. The comments can get particularly hairy. If you’re just looking for some food for thought, you might be interested in reading just the blog posts but avoiding the comments. If you invest a bit more time in getting to know the people that comment on this blog, you can ignore those you don’t want to talk to and only talk to (or read) those comments that you do find worthwhile.
Where do these controversial critiques come from?
I write about a number of things, much of what I write should be an interesting and healthy read for anyone. My goal is to encourage cross cultural understanding, to promote the good, and to challenge the bad. However, “challenging the bad” is a can of worms when it comes to religion… let me briefly explain my views:
When I look at the world of religion, I see different kinds of faith. Some kinds of faith I consider good or healthy, and others I consider bad. (And there’s a gray area where I can’t form an opinion like this — at most I might contemplate.) Not all good or healthy faith is necessarily correct, but there shouldn’t really be controversy about that from me: at worst I might explain where I hold different opinions, but why or how I respect differing opinions and why or how I consider them good or healthy.
Bad faith is that which is actively harmful — evil masquerading as virtue — and is something I believe must be challenged. However, our opinions might differ on what is harmful. If I believe that some element of what you believe is harmful, you might come across a blog post that criticises it, though hopefully I will simply explain what I disagree with and why, and encourage you to think about it and make up your own mind. It naturally leaves you in a position to agree or disagree with me (silently), or engaging in discussion so that we can better understand one another.
If you think it might be dangerous to understand my views better on the grounds that you wish to avoid all doubt (and you actually find my views make you doubt yours a bit), you might choose to avoid this blog. I naturally hope you don’t, that you choose to take a more “progressive” view (as opposed to more “conservative”) and not fear doubt — “progressives” typically believe that there are kinds of doubt that can lead to good personal/spiritual growth and need not be feared. Spiritual honesty. I certainly do agree that there also exists extremely harmful kinds of doubt and I in no way want to lead anyone in that direction… though yet again, I suppose your and my opinion on what exactly counts as harmful doubt could also differ in some details?
You can also consider the opinions shared in response to the previous blog post: Is This Blog Evil?
This post exists so that I can point newcomers at it in order to help them understand the nature of this blog, from which they can better choose whether they want to read it or not. For that choice the “block-quote” paragraphs are maybe the most useful, or better yet, others’ recommendations. The primary function of the rest of this post was not to say something profound, but rather to communicate my attitude towards differences of opinion and the more controversial things I write about. I believe if readers better understand my attitude, they will be better equipped to understand my intentions with the things I write, more likely to interpret my posts in the manner I intended them. In short, it should reduce misunderstanding?