Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Second Pre-emption

Post 45--:

Wonderful Summer Weather

It’s been a wonderful summer here on Canada’s West Coast, though it was unusually slow in coming. I have loved it and spent a fair amount of time—weeks in fact—away from my desk and, hence, away from this blog. Visiting our kids and families in WA and near SF in CA with days of RV-“camping” in between. Since then, “backyard” RVing in southern BC—with more to come. If you like a moderate climate without extremes of heat and cold, then BC’s south-west coast and much of Vancouver Island is the place to be. So a bit of a lull, but one you can understand, I believe. But, while it’s still great summer stuff in the middle of September, here I am, once again slogging/blogging it out. This morning the temperatures are pleasant but the sky is cloudy, something we have not seen for a while—and have not missed. Welcome to Fall.

Writers about Secularism

I told you in the last post that I have a second pre-emption to share with you, a good thing about secularism. Secularism did not just pop up out of the West’s woodworks; it took centuries to develop, the story of which is told in great detail by Canada’s philosopher Charles Taylor in his tome A Secular Age. Kuyperians, among them “Father” Abraham Kuyper himself as well as the movement’s primal philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd and others, have also traced its historical development and exposed its roots, origins and influence.

Secularism as a Chastener

Secularism has lured many Christians into its trap and thereby seriously reduced the scope of their faith to the private, the home and the church, but it has also served as a corrector and chastener of Christianity. In volume 5 of my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, I wrote that “secularism is at least partially the result of an aggressive and intolerant version of Christianity that needed chastening.” Of course, Christians were not the only ones to practice intolerance; it was a major human characteristic down through the centuries; it marked all civilizations. Tolerance and its child, pluralism, are of rather recent vintage everywhere.

Jonathan Chaplin

The British Kuyperian scholar Jonathan Chaplin, a one time faculty member of the Institute of Church & Society in Toronto, a Kuyperian tertiary institution, wrote,

Let me make it clear that the anxieties shared by many secular liberals about the impact of public religion are real ones. Some of them are mine too…. And let me alswo r3ecord that the response of early modern liberalism to public religion was compelling and necessary. In the 17th century religion was not only public, it was backed by force of arms. In such circumstances, we can see why moves to confine the public expression olf faith seemed so necessary. In time, Christians who had stoked up religious warfare were humbled and had to allow liberalism to teach it again what its own deepest principles had always implied: that authentic faith cannot and may not be coerced. So, a religious response to contemporary liberalism must begin by appreciating liberalism’s vital historical contribution to religious freedom and democracy.

In spite of my constant anti-secular bias in my writings, including this blog, I want this contribution of secularism recognised and remembered as we go along. Honour to whom honour is due!

Of course, since then, secularism has gone far beyond its original form and can now be legitimately described as intolerant, more so than most North American Christians. That’s the reason I frequently write negatively about it. But may I never forget their original chastening contribution to Western Christians. We needed it and deserved it. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Precious friend, We celebrate with you and your family, your healing and resurrection. May you continue to grow strong in body and in spirit as you embark on the new path laid before you. We love you! Christine and Al