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February 14, 2005



I like what you say: Christianity "doesn't leave the definition of what [man's deepest] needs are or how they should be met up to man himself." That is true. But doesn't the Church rely on man freely assenting to this? And, for better or worse, doesn't this assume a "free market of ideas" in which the Truth attracts strictly on the basis of being true? I am arguing that religion on the "open market" should present no fundamental stumbling block.



First, I'm thrilled someone actually has read this blog! It's been so long since I have turned to it, maybe I will resume the original effort.

I don't disagree with what you said. As I said, the part of his argument saying the open market is better for religion than monopoly is, I think, true.

Instead, my criticism was more focused on what the passage seemed to suggest about the nature of religion itself. To be fair to Prof. Becker, this may not be what he intended to communicate, but there is a consumerist tone to the piece.

Yes, I would say that the Church makes a claim about what it is and means for one's life (and what one's life means), yet it does risk everything on man's freedom, inviting man to verify for himself through experience that the claim is in fact true and thus ultimately assent to it.

If that is what Prof. Becker intended to suggest, I don't have a disagreement.

But experience indicates for me that man often needs to be educated in awareness of who he is, what he desires and how he truly interacts with reality. Quite often we substitute schemas, and reductions and images. So whereas I use the term "man's deepest needs" to mean what truly man wants when you get to the core, the truth of him, as he is made. But we know that, culturally, many of us use "needs" and "desires" to refer to something less, something more surface, even if maybe still a good. Something more like the schemas and images I mentioned above. And thus the notion of the "open market" being good for religion because it will motivate religion to adjust to meet those needs raises the question for me. If Prof. Becker means something more like the latter than the former with that, then it's just a far too consumeristic understanding of religion for me. One, frankly, that you do see played out in a lot of churches to bad effects.

Does that help?


When I reread what he said I got the message that you "keep the customers satisfied" by preaching what they want to hear. And, by gosh, if its what they want to hear then it must be traditional!

Alex Vitus linked to your Integrity website which is how I got here.

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