Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Charles Colson - The Faith - Prologue

I bought my mom and dad two of Ken Miller's books, Finding Darwin's God and Only A Theory. My mom read both of them and enjoyed Finding Darwin's God. A few days ago she said I owed her two books since she read the two I bought. She gave me the first one, Charles Colson's The Faith. I am going to read it and go over it here in my blog.

Any quotes from the book will be used in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws of America.

The Prologue starts out with the story of the Amish school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. So right from the start I can see where this is all going, loads of emotion and little reason or evidence or substance. He goes into detail over the whole situation which you can read all about on the Wikipedia page. At the end he points out that the Amish showed real Christian love by forgiving the dead shooter and donating the money for the survivors to the shooter's widow and their kids. He doesn't make the claim here that only Christians are capable of doing something like this but alludes at it. A quick Google search of the subject will show that this is a very human thing to do, some just do it sooner than others.

He next makes up a story about two Christians living in Roman occupation during the plagues of the early 2nd century. He sets it in 116 AD and talks about a possible small pox plague. The only plague I can find any information on during the second century was the Antonine plague taking place between 165 to 180 AD. It was possibly a small pox plague. Colson tells his story saying that the rulers would leave town to escape and that the only people left would be the Christians to take care of the sick because that is what they were called to do by Jesus.

Two things about his little story. First the Antonine plague killed 2 Roman Emperors one of them being Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. The plague was named after Antoninus. So to say that the "wealthy fled" is shown to be false when 2 Emperors die to the plague.

Second the ones most affected by the plague were the soldiers. Marcus Aurelius was unable to push back the Germanic and Gaelic tribes because of his lack of soldiers. This is part of the reason that he personally joined the front lines. One particular offensive, against the Marcomanni, was postponed because of a lack of troops.

So I have to question what Colson is describing. He also makes the claim that "paganism didn't teach that human life was sacred." There is no citation for where this comes from, and I cannot find anything that backs this statement up. What I did find was this quote from the UNRV website:

"Indeed, it was not so much the paterfamilias who was owner of the house, it was his deified ancestors and local spirits who were the real proprietors and guardians of the land. The family demons could bring woe to those who offended them, and surely there was no greater insult than to lay a hand upon the paterfamilias whose chief duty was to propitiate them. Outsiders were also thought to invite divine wrath if they attempted to evict or harm a man within the presence of his household familiars. These religious taboos rendered domestic life and private property sacred centuries before civil law was accepted as a substitute."

This gives me the impression that everything was held in great esteem and life was protected by their ancestors and Gods. Colson's comment is just a straw man meant to demonize anything or anyone who are not Christian.

He goes on to claim that carrying for others was an "unprecedented teaching of Christianity". This is just not true. An early version of the Golden Rule was written about in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (2040 - 1650 BCE). Well before Christianity and in the lands where the roots of Christianity formed. This is anything but "unprecedented".

Near the end of the prologue, Colson pulls out the No True Scotsman fallacy and claims that "love and forgiveness" are the hallmarks of real Christianity. This of course ignores passages such as 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' or Jesus claiming to bring a sword and turn sons against parents. I suspect that this fallacy will play out a lot through the book.


Chris said...

Lots of good stuff you're teaching me here. Thanks.

Dax said...

Am looking forward to your comments but I'm afraid that Colson has merely written another songbook for the choir.

BeamStalk said...

I agree, Dax, but I was asked to read this and it supposedly overturns evolution.