A free apology for the Christian faith
There is a psychological cost to letting go of your beliefs. Anyone can be exposed to collapse. And, a priori, no one would be willing to watch, passive, his world crumble, such as it is. However, unlike the hasty look that an outsider might be tempted to cast on a belief system, what makes its abandonment possible is not primarily its internal difficulties or contradictions. These latter are, much more often than one thinks, likely to stimulate the thought of the believer, as long as this one has agreed to an initial investment threshold.
In this sense, the “religions of the book” can claim great agility compared to others. Their contradictions, apparent or real, fixed in black on white, are paradoxically a factor of contention which maintains the dynamics of a belief which is thought through, a belief which is not at rest, a "non-believing belief", one would say. my old professor of philosophy. This probably partly explains the tendency towards domination of these religions.
Christianity, understood as a belief system or worldview, is in this sense a fascinating textbook case. Its supposed contradictions, which often remain insurmountable to the outsider, are the object of multiple exegesis or interpretations which are part of this reflexive dynamic. The fact is curious insofar as the Christian believer is called to be satisfied with his status of "poor in spirit".
And yet, this poverty, well understood, contains in germ the force of a double movement of thought. First, the believer's willingness to accept the revealed truth. Then, his commitment to exercise his reason within the framework defined by this truth. Reason, in this division, is no longer hardly the enemy of faith. Rather, she is at his service.
The order going from faith to reason is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to the outsider who willingly seeks to reverse it. His bet is to maintain that his reason alone can lead him to the truth. That if he searches well enough with the help of this "infallible instrument", he will eventually find this truth where it lurks. It therefore does not happen to him to doubt his reason (or if he doubts, he does not push the doubt to its limit). What if this one had blind spots? What if there was something non-configurable, elusive by reason, something that would constitute an important part of this sought-after truth? What if something escapes reason?
In this quest for truth through reason, the same dynamic takes place that we observe in the believer. After a certain investment threshold, the outsider becomes fossilized in his search for the truth, which cannot be found precisely because an important part of this truth lies beyond reason, the instrument he uses to find it.
In addition to this, you need to know more about it.
But what should be highlighted above all is that along the way, the outsider builds a notoriety as a slayer of "false truths". In this start-up, the initial quest for truth is forgotten in order to permute itself into something else, in this case into a parallel belief system which does not identify itself as such. And since there is a psychological cost to giving up his beliefs, he too positions himself to defend his “non-belief” (which has perhaps become a belief without his knowledge) to which he clings, as the believer in his belief.
With this setting set, we should see, in relation to the belief system or the worldview of Christianity that interests me, what the outsider-slayer of “false truths” puts up as arguments. And given that, as a sociologist, I am sensitive to societal issues, I will begin by considering the socio-historical argument of the social impact of Christianity on societies. Or even the injustices of the church throughout history. This argument appeals to me all the more since I come from a country which is held, by some, to be the first great historical victim of the deployment of Christianity.
The sociohistorical argument breaks down into several points that I will not enumerate here (I will perhaps come back to them). I am content to consider it from the place of the outsider of the third world or the formerly colonized countries. It can be summed up as follows: "Christianity is the religion of domination of the white slave and colonialist, which it imposed and / or bequeathed to the most foolish of its former colonized" (some are more respectful in their words. They will excuse me. to force the lines a little here. They will understand that worse is also said in this sense). We deduce from this argument, that a quest for truth cannot linger on the path of such a horrifying religion. This deduction is often accompanied by contempt and haughtiness.
Objections to the Christian faith are therefore often motivated by this "thousand foot argument" which can in turn take on an air of slavery, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and anti-neoliberal. The assumption being that Christianity is the religion of all these forms of domination. Within this argument, there are approximations, enlargements of features, misunderstandings, confusions, anachronisms, fabrications, Pharisaism. But, this is not the path that interests me.
We all know, the great injustices of the church. And the Christian does not gain anything by pretending that the inquisition or the "campaign of the rejected" never took place; that the crusades did not exist; that the slave and colonialist ideology had not instrumentalised the Christian faith; that sexual abuse of minors and women does not exist today; that the faithful are not manipulated by greedy people. In the case of Haiti, I even wonder, worried, what sense does a Christian find in praising the elimination of voodoo; to promote a "republic of Christians" where Christian values and beliefs would be imposed on "disbelievers". Doesn't history teach clearly enough that taxation never leads to appropriation? But better, does not Christ teach us that one does not embark on the path of truth and salvation except by an act free of his will alone, far from any form of imposition? It is not without reason that salvation remains, in the holy scriptures, something strictly "personal".
In addition to this, you need to know more about it.
The injustices and failed actions of Christians, including morally, are real. And we Christians need to look at ourselves in the mirror and sincerely ask ourselves how disgraced we are for the faith that we profess. But, I'm not here to preach to the faithful. My point is elsewhere.
The sociohistoric argument must also turn on itself. For two main reasons. First, because the truth of a world view cannot be measured by its social impact. Whoever seeks to really know the truth, must get rid of this argument at all costs. The moral flaws of Christians (which deserve, as I have said, to be dealt with) in no way invalidate the truth of the Christian faith. But above all, because the socio-historical argument fails, in my opinion, by excess of zeal. He ignores the whole intellectual and moral history of Christianity. The ignorance (or conscientious "silencing") of this story has two major consequences. On the one hand, it makes possible a narrow view of Christendom. This is most often reduced to colonialism, imperialism and all forms of imposition by force. Revolutionary Christian morality and thought would thus have played no role in the hegemony of the Christian worldview. We thus ignore the reasons which led Christian thought, as Luc Ferry reminded us, to triumph over Greek philosophy for centuries, and at least until the Renaissance. We also pretend to ignore that, long before human rights for example, Christianity had carried out an intrinsic valuation of the human person, of his dignity.
This silencing of the moral and intellectual history of Christianity leads to attacking it in the banalities which are observed in the daily life of the Christian neighbor opposite, or in the absurdity of the practices of the "neighborhood church" , struggling to appear. We pretend to ignore that such banalities are more the expression of a disintegrating society than real proof of the alienation which Christianity is often accused of being a vector. It is this same phenomenon of disintegration that manifests itself in all spheres of Haitian public and collective life. In politics it takes on a pink color; in religion she is called a prophet (like Mackenson); in economics it perches on a filthy greed vying for wickedness; in interpersonal and group relations, it is a game of master drafts or "intelligent".
In short, the sociohistorical argument is worth what it is worth. But whoever is in search of truth will have been wise not to stop at this body of arguments. There are many other much more serious arguments, in my opinion. I will be happy to review them at the appropriate time as well.
Dr. Jean Abel Pierre
Pastor / Sociologist