Michael Ruse is an author and philosopher of biology at Florida State University.  He says something in a guest post at Science and the Sacred which struck me as odd coming from an self-described agnostic (atheists in respect to Christian doctrine), but serves as a rebuke to those who claim to be Christ-followers and yet deny essential truths.  In his mind you have more intellectual integrity as an atheist or agnostic than you would as a theologically liberal “Christian.”

I think of myself as an agnostic on deities and ultimate meanings and that sort of thing. With respect to the main claims of Christianity – loving god, fallen nature, Jesus and atonement and salvation – I am pretty atheistic, although some doctrines like original sin seem to me to be accurate psychologically. I often refer to myself as a very conservative non-believer, meaning that I take seriously my non-belief and I think others should do (and often don’t). If someone goes to the Episcopal Church for social or family reasons, or because they love the music or ceremonies, I have no trouble with that. Had I married a fellow Quaker, I might still be going to Quaker meetings. But I have little time for someone who denies the central dogmas of Christianity and still claims to be a Christian, except in a social sense. No God, no Jesus as His son, no resurrection, no eternal life – no Christianity.

HT: Erik Raymond

10 comments
  1. I had a conversation like this with a girlfriend who considered herself Catholic but also pro-choice. I told her, in no uncertain terms, that if she is pro-choice she literally cannot be Catholic (nor Christian, but I guess a lot of the types that Ruse talks about here can’t seem to wrap their heads around that) along the lines of what Ruse covers here. (I, personally, am a deist.)

    Needless to say, she didn’t care for that assessment and the relationship didn’t really go too swimmingly from that point forward.

    1. @ECM, I would say being pro-choice is inconsistent with being a Christian, but so are a lot of other things. I wouldn’t make it a condition of salvation.

      I know the Catholic Church has different teaching, and pro-choice people can be refused communion, etc.

      As far as your relationship, I can’t imagine why that didn’t go so well 🙂

    2. @ECM,

      I think you’re right about this ECM. But I have 2 corrections.

      First, new Christians haven’t studied everything so you just need to talk with them a little in order to get them to think about these issues. I don’t believe that a mature Christian can be pro-choice.

      Second, tactics. Don’t talk about the authority of the church or the definition of Christian at the beginning. Just ask her for her reasons for being pro-choice then share your reasons for being pro-life, and link your reasons to the CHristian worldview.
      .-= Wintery Knight´s last blog ..Mayor of Doncaster slashes taxes, spending and political correctness =-.

  2. I totally agree with Michael Ruse. Our priest said something along the same lines after the election saying that when you vote you are voting in agreement with the laws that the president will pass and since Obama is ultra-liberal on things that Christians should be opposed to, you are being hypocritical coming to Church after voting for him. You either are or you aren’t a Christian. Choose one and follow the life of that choice.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..A failure in compassion =-.

    1. @Kathryn, There is an inconsistency, and I’ve not been able to wrap my mind around it. I would say that some who have voted for Obama have done so because they felt his position on poverty and war were more in line with Biblical teaching. I obviously disagree.

      So I wouldn’t say it determines who is a Christian and who is not.

      What Ruse is discussing is doctrine, not practice.

  3. He’s right. There is literally no point in being wishy-washy about it. If you go for the music, I’m sure you’re more than welcome. But you can’t uphold the central tenets of Christianity then claiming to be a Christian is meaningless.

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