A friend of mine posted an article, wherein he essentially argues that there is something to be said about ‘Awestruck Atheists’ and argues (in part) that they provide a necessary mode for the impartation of virtues. I agree that this is a powerful argument, but I believe that it is essentially representative of a minor dynamic in the bigger sense of things. The decline in the Mainline denominations has coincided with an overly homogenized and dummied down theology. Christianity is (I believe) (in its true state) necessarily a revolutionary force – at least in so far as it presents concepts and assertions and makes no case for an apology for them. This is (more or less) what Barth argues as a ‘Crisis Theologian’ that we are inescapably confronted with the Gospel. You can make the argument that many so-called “Emergent” types can arguably fit the bill as being neo-liberals: trying new ways to escape the confrontation of the harder edges of the Gospel, Adamic Sin, Atonement, Election, Etc.

That said (the bit about “Emergents”) – most of us (myself included) are still trying to figure out which of these semiotic-rhetotical frame sets we actually do reside in. I, for one, probably fit in few of them.


(Mike’s Post)


(my response, initially posted on his Facebook)

I disagree with you on this. I think that you are approaching Pietism with a different judgmental standpoint then you are Atheism. At the risk of sounding condescending, I would point out that every budding scholar goes through a ‘look see┬áhere – I can connect all these dots’ phase, which typically embodies a great deal of exuberance over ultimately intractably tangental things.I will point out that Jonathan Edwards was a Panantheist, and that he felt that entire world was operating essentially out of the imagination of God – and that in this sense, all of creation was still in an ongoing state of creation.

It is certainly cool- that a lot of Atheists who have some degree of self-actualization in relation to the world around them, secondary to an awareness of a need for ethics and so on – will feel this way. But what you are essentially talking about, here in your article, is what I would describe as people running down the hallway from the other side – that ‘hallway’ being the full sublimation of Judeo-Christian values, as understood and written of Bonhoeffer.

I believe that an accurate understanding of this ‘hallway’ is that a few people will run from one side (the Atheists) to somewhere on the other side, without ever actually crossing over to the other side (actualization of authentic, personal faith) but many more people will cross from a place of being a devout Christian to the other side – which (for purposes of this illustration) mean only an awareness of the necessity and role of Judeo-Christian ethics in an advanced society.

This was the role of “virtue” when it is spoken of by the Founding fathers: that all the christians knew Religious faith-knowledge was the most efficient means of installing a socially-mediated system of values, and even the Deists (like Jefferson) who disavowed confessional faith on their own part, knew that too few of them would make an adequate journey down the before mentioned hallway – in so far as more Christians were needed, who would more then likely make that trip by default.

I am more inclined to side with J.Gresham Macken on this – that all the self-actualization/maturity/well-roundedness of any Atheist or Cultural Christian lacks the balls (essentially) and the fortitude (realistically) to serve as a social force great enough in number to make the change. It a nice and shiny play-pretty to see it happen, but on a large-scale, powerless to really make a difference. Historically, there is much greater argument that will articulated-within-the conscience pietism has more consistently been a force for good -then any ‘nice and friendly atheists’ have been.

If I gave this response a title – it would be “Mike Morrell: His thoughts on having dinner with Vegetarian Cannibals”

The real issue here is that ‘everybody wants the beauty of apophaticism – but most aren’t willing to deal with the cataphatism that is required to get there’ and that is the real issue with why ‘nice behaving atheists’ and ‘cultural christians’ will do more harm when used as poster-children for a presupposed authentic Christianity then they will do good. The seeds of destruction are within those pretty flowers -regardless of who sweet they may smell.