Monday, October 20, 2008

Influence or Regulation?-

As a Christian and a Philosopher (to whatever degree I am much of either) I have considered my place in society. As either (or both) I impact my world with what I say and what I do. I hold that what we do rises from what we truly believe.

Some of my fellow Christians are activists. They intentionally act to influence our society to become more consistent with Christian principles. I cannot fault them for zeal and active endeavor to realize such ideals. Yet in my own life I chose not to strongly associate myself with these people.

The problem for me is in believing that the best Christian influence is through regulation. Ultimately I see such activism creating a Christian culture in which Christians are comfortable, but non-Christians are likely to be uncomfortable. This would drive unbelievers to move away from such environments, and the influence of Christians on non-Christians would become less by virtue of that distance.

I also often find that the culture of Christians tends to be narrow, shallow and lacking in interest. It need not be so, yet in areas where American Christian culture has deep roots there is often a distinct provincialism. There tends to be a failure to interact with ideas, since so many living together think much alike.

This kind of culture would offend the part of me that is the Philosopher.

For me an ideal culture would be diverse in thought and action. Regulation would be minimal, and ideas and beliefs would be free to interact in an organic and catalytic fashion. It is more of an environment of Influence rather than Regulation.

I cannot help but feel that ideas thrive in environments of freedom and diversity. While tight regulation may make some people feel secure, it seems repressive to me. Freedom on all levels of life allows for freedom of thought.

Such must necessarily be difficult for orthodoxy. To hold believers to beliefs that are consistent with Christian doctrine in an environment of free thinking must necessarily present a great challenge. Yet the opportunity for those believers to interact with unbelievers is much greater in an environment of free thinking.

Or so it seems to me. My love of freedom does not require the abandonment of order and discipline. Indeed, these are needed even more in a realm of great freedom. They are, however, freely chosen and adhered to, rather than simply regulated into being.

So I would say I value Influence over Regulation in the exchange of ideas. It must be what I truly believe, because it is how I live.

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