Christianity Today: Shooting itself in the foot for 51 years.

Oh boy, here we go again…

I want to like Christianity Today, I really do. I mean, the magazine does have some helpful resources, like devotionals and news of what’s going on in the “evangelical” (the term is so ubiquitous and elusive these days) world. What drives me nuts, though, are its frequent, misguided, attempts at engaging the “secular world,” usually through overly-simplified movie reviews, poor writing and hyper-conservative cultural critiques.

They’ve outdone themselves recently by inviting “theologian” Douglas Wilson to debate Christopher Hitchens in a series of exchanges titled, Is Christianity Good for the World.

I must admit that, as of this post, I haven’t read all 5 segments in their entirety, but have covered enough to get the general downward spiral of humiliation that is an intelligent, if contentious, Hitchens verbally trampling Wilson in their battle of wits.

**OK, I finished the series this afternoon.  Whew, what a painful load of dreck.  It’s a back-and-forth of pointless banter of Wilson making ridiculous metaphors that don’t prove anything, let alone the goodness of Christianity for the world, and Hitchens avoiding the one point Wilson can manage to harp on.  It’s as embarrassing as I anticipated.  Wilson comes off as smug and self-righteous, while still unable to actually argue a point relevant to the actual topic.  All right, if an atheist doesn’t have a descriptive term for her or his basis for their morality, so what, the common preservation of the species is enough of a point to shut up Wilson’s reiterations (and I do believe in God).  Besides, he never gave a credible argument for what Christianity has/may have done to be labeled “good” by anybody.  Saying Jesus died and brings us good news of salvation isn’t an argument for someone who thinks Jesus is a schmuck.  Hello, borrow a dollar and buy a clue, your cutesy metaphors aren’t working because they don’t actually apply to the discussion…ahem, I stand by my previous assessment.***

Really, is Wilson the best they could find? With arguing points like, “The gospel makes the world better through Good News, not through guilt trips or good advice,” Wilson seems to be swimming upstream both without a paddle, but also without his bathing suit (maybe wearing sweat pants). The gospel truly is good news, but that certainly doesn’t build a case to prove Christianity has benefited anyone at any point.

sigh.

My previous experience with the largely self-published Wilson comes from the archaic and ridiculous tome, “Reforming Marriage,” which was held to my wife and I as a study-guide for marital counseling. After underlining about 90% of it to mark flagrant, misogynist, outrageous and naive statements (feminism is evil!). The unfortunate thing, from my perspective, is that he touched on relevant issues, but expressed his views in such an abrasive manner that it totally overwhelmed any positive aspects we could glean from it. This is not an author who should be widely read, let alone represent a large portion of Christians, especially in such a public and sensitive way.

As I’m sitting here, I have a running list of people I think would be more qualified for the debate – but I’m not sure any of them would subject themselves to it.

So read the “debate” and let me know what you think. Better yet, let Christianity Today know what you think. Maybe they’ll think twice about who they pick to represent themselves.

-W

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5 Comments

Filed under religious propaganda

5 responses to “Christianity Today: Shooting itself in the foot for 51 years.

  1. Ty Willis

    Please read all of the debate. Wilson has done what few evangelicals are equipped to do, hang Hitchens with his own rope.

  2. OK, I’ve read it…ugh…the whole thing. If few evangelicals are equipped to do what Wilson did, we are in a sorry, sorry state. Perhaps Mark Noll was right, maybe there still isn’t an evangelical mind. Prove me wrong, PLEASE!

  3. Beth

    Sorry, Ty. If Wilson if the best we’ve got, I’m out.

  4. Ty

    I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back. Wilson’s argument used the presuppositional appraoch to apologetics. It works with some people and leaves others cold. I generally prefer the classical approach and find it works better with most people, if used well. I have had similiar discussions with other Christians about how effective Wilson was. Some think it was masterful, others just didn’t get it. That why they make chocolate and vanilla. I’m in California today looking at the sunset. That is a sufficient for me. Why is there something rather than nothing? I could go on and on. Sooner or later there would be an argument that connected with the unbeliever. We were all unbelievers at so at some point in our lives. We either fight the overwhelming evidence or we surrender. I’m sure Wilson sleeps better at night.
    Peace-

  5. Ty,

    You make a better case in one paragraph than Wilson did in his wandering, incoherent arguments. I found Wilson’s blathering to be less presuppositional and more pull-it-out-of-my-nether-regions while I try to be snarky. I’ve had a bit of instruction in both approaches and can handle people making either argument, if done well (at least coherently). I don’t think Wilson did either. He seemed quite consistent with his self-published (and, apparently edited) books – where he starts in a good direction, makes an outlandish statement and proceeds to build an argument on conjecture and opinion rather than reason and fact…and then he spreads his superior, paternalistic confidence all over it.

    It was exactly the sort of sensational and flagrant bafoonary Hitchens drools after to get himself in the spotlight. Mind you, I don’t think Hutchins’ arguments were too strong either, but at least they were intelligently presented.

    I would love to read your own response to Hitchens arguments – I think it’s a great exercise and makes me consider doing the same, myself.

    Wow, I’m long-winded today.

    This brings me to another point. I’m thinking about starting another blog based purely on religious issues (particularly Christianity) because these seem to have the garnered most attention and controversy. In other words, it seems that people really want to have these discussions and it might be good to start a separate, less wayne-specific forum for it. Keep an eye out for it! Also, if you know of others that are already doing a good job at it, please let me know. I don’t keep up with too many – CT is like staring at car crashes all day.

    Thanks Ty,

    -W

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