Evangelicals & Erudition
Frankly, my first thought was to title this particular blog article as Evangelicals & Stupidity or Evangelicals & Stinkin Thinkin, but although I would have been within my full rights as a principle of Free Speech, I thought the better of it, but please note this is my current view of most of thinking that allegedly takes place in the world today. Please note I do not have in mind the senseless acts like the individual who killed eight Asian Americans this past week in Atlanta or the senseless fools who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 8th, or the myriad of idiocy we see take place daily. Instead, I have in mind some of the banter I see from otherwise allegedly intelligent (many college-educated) individuals. This curiosity is not limited to any demographic. I see it from African Americans, Caucasians, Asians, and Hispanics (and all other ethnicities). I see it from males, and I see it equally from females. It is present in the young and the not so young. You can witness those on the Right and those on the Left, but I am sure many will see that assessment as my biased view.
Note this recent example:
To justify the rejection of hazing as a legitimate practice to bring new aspirants into the fraternity, the presented opined one reason to abhor “hazing” was the logic of using the defense of adversity builds character as a reason to employ hazing to bring new brothers into the fraternity. Now, I understand it is important to give a little context to what was being communicated. The presenter postulated that brothers would falsely try to justify the use of hazing because aspirants would come to appreciate the journey better because they successfully endured the adversity of hazing to enter the frat “the right way.” First, I need to emphatically state I am in total agreement with abolishing hazing as a legitimate practice to initiate new aspirants into a Greek organization. Hazing was part of the culture when I pledged way back in 1983. Although the National Headquarters did not sanction it, it was always an unwritten rule and accepted as conventional fare on local college chapters. But, like many things, times have changed. Greek organizations and colleges, and universities have endured significant financial liabilities due to hazing, and even more importantly, people have been severely injured. Even more tragically, people have died as a result of hazing. So, this is not an attempt to justify the use of hazing as a legitimate practice. That ship has long sailed, and I say, wisely so.
My ire was the sloppy and lazy thinking, i.e., Stinkin Thinkin, that undergirds the forsake hazing argument. When I sat through the presentation and heard the speaker state one of the reasons hazing should not be practiced was based on the notion that we should not believe that adversity builds character, I was floored. I immediately filtered that statement through my B.S. Meter and instantly knew all was not well in Denmark.
My guttural reaction was, of course, adversity builds character. Any couple who has been married longer than five minutes knows all too well about the virtue of adversity-building character. One of the reasons marriages fail at a rate greater than 55% is the failure to endure adversity. One need only look at the language employed during a traditional marriage ceremony. There is the time-honored declaration of “till death us part.” In light of sickness or health, in light of good times and bad times. We enter marriage allegedly ready to accept a state of rich or poor, better or worse. In fact, whether the couple knows it or not, worse is what the couple explicitly signs up for.
Again, I am just a country boy from Mississippi, but my education teaches me that worse is akin to adversity. What happened to the adage “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” Don’t get that sentiment twisted! It is not espousing you are to pull up stakes when things get a little hairy in the marriage.
No, you do remember the oath you took before family, friends, and most importantly, before God, don’t you? Remember how the traditional marriage ceremony begins, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of God, and before you, as witnesses, to join _ _ _ _ and ________ in matrimony.”
I eventually learned the key to navigate the contours of marriage successfully. The key is understanding in every marriage; there will always be two distinct wretched sinners. Since this truth is unassailable, adversity will necessarily be ubiquitous.
I am in total lockstep with abolishing hazing. I sincerely hope my grandson, Malachi, will one day choose to pledge my fraternity. However, I would accept that he decides to pledge another fraternity (I am probably not totally honest, but I digress). So, I would not want Malachi harmed or degraded in any significant way. But I refuse to either employ or accept horrible logic. We need to understand it is possible to come to the proper conclusion yet build it upon the improper basis.
The problem with this type of issue is if we employ improper reasoning protocol, then there is no objective reason anyone should trust any subsequent argument. You see this all too often in theological arguments. Evangelicals are guilty of espousing various doctrinal positions based on horrible logic.
For the sake of brevity (yes, I do understand the need for brevity), I will share just one example. I hold a Calvinistic position on soteriology (doctrine of salvation), while many Evangelicals adopt the opposing Arminian position. I will only briefly point out the significant divide between the two doctrinal positions is Calvinists focus on God’s sovereignty in salvation. At the same time, the Arminian emphasizes man’s freedom in accepting or rejecting God’s offer of salvation. There is, of course, a lot more to the difference, but that will suffice for today. I had a proponent of Arminianism insists his position was correct because his view of God as a Father was akin to his view of human fatherhood. His argument was essentially God had to be just like a human father. He believed since a human father would never force anything on the children he loved that surely God would never force anything on His creation.
Speaking bluntly, that is Stinkin Thinkin! Pretty much what I see more than I would care to see, especially from men and women who claim an affinity with Orthodox Evangelicalism. I would submit our culture is progressing technologically, but we are regressing intellectually.
We do so because we can wisely be against something like hazing, but we can do so by making specious arguments. Like my Arminian foe who believes he must be correct because he deploys a faulty concept about God, we have people who build an argument against hazing but base their correct conclusion on flawed premises. In the long-term, that is a sure recipe for disaster.
Stinkin Thinkin is on the rise, and it is especially alarming when I see it happen within the Evangelical community. Like always, I would like to hear your thought. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.