I thought a discussion of this article from yesterday’s Wall St. Journal might be interesting.  The suggestion seems to be made (despite the title: Winning Not Just Hearts but Minds–Evangelicals move, slowly, toward the intellectual life) that if one is evangelical, one can’t be intellectual at the same time. Read it at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704597704574487532250568304.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

I thought one of the most important issues brought up in the article was the relationship between emotion and reason, in particular the place of emotion and reason in Christianity. The idea was expressed in the article that “Christendom” (sort of like state supported religion–the state granting financial and institutional support to religion, but not being run by religion, as it is in Moslem countries) might be a better way of dealing with religion than an emphasis on each individual’s heartfelt conversion; in the case of state-supported religion, individual responsibility for the health of the church and for the propagation of the faith would not be necessary.

Our son John is familiar with state supported religion in Germany and Denmark–his wife is Danish, and they’ve lived in Germany as well as the US.  Not many people go to church in Denmark.  People who do go regularly are considered slightly fanatic.  The odd thing is that the children do learn about religion, not in Sunday School, but in public school. In other words, you learn the facts about Christianity and the Bible, the hymns, etc.  but your parents don’t have to do any follow-up at home or take you to church. The rite of confirmation is mostly an occasion for a large family gathering, and also sort of confirms your Danishness–and for several weeks before it, you do get instruction from your local pastor.  But you don’t usually go to church again until you’re married, and finally when you’re buried.

Kierkegaard didn’t think the state-supported, “sweet” presentation of Christianity in Denmark was adequate–he wanted something more strongly experienced and struggled through by the individual, something taken seriously and personally.

Leave a comment