Monday, October 01, 2007

Town vs. Gown: Classical (?) Christian Education in Idaho

The college handbook forbids students to embrace or promote “doctrinal errors” from the 4th through the 21st centuries, “such as Arianism, Socinianism, Pelagianism, Skepticism, Feminism.
Thanks to Shaw for pointing us to a fascinating story from the 9.30.07 New York Times about a private Idaho college that aims to incorporate classical learning into a curriculum that, the founder says, aspires to a "medieval" protestantism.

This reference, from deep in the story, might be worth looking at in light of Dante's project to situate classical and biblical traditions in and through his own work:
In the early 20th century, a Dutch theologian named Cornelius Van Til introduced a kind of theology called presuppositionalism. He argued that no assumptions are neutral and that the human mind can comprehend reality only if proceeding from the truth of biblical revelation. In other words, it is impossible for Christians to reason with non-Christians. presuppositionalism is a strangely postmodern theory that denies the possibility of objectivity — though it does not deny the existence of truth, which belongs to Christians alone.
At one point the college's founder, Doug Wilson, says:
“There are circumstances in which I’d be in favor of execution for adultery. . . . I’m not proposing legislation. We’re saying, Let’s set up the Christian worldview, and our descendants 500 years from now can work out the knotty problems.”
How prevalent might be Christians who'd agree to this matching their notion of "the Christian worldview?" Or, in the noble tradition of "What would Jesus do? (WWJD)" we can ask WWDS: "What would Dante say?"


Salemm said...

I think it would have been better stated if the writer had said that since modern seculars and bibical christians start with very different presuppositions, it is very difficult to have a conversation because the even the words they use mean different things. I don't think it is impossible for this conversation to occur, but both sides need to understand what they believe and then make sure that the terminology used is defined and understood.

Regarding, Doug's remark about adultery, I'm sure most christians would disagree. After all, Christ prevented the stoning of the woman caught in adultery. I have known Doug Wilson for many years and he tends to say things that he knows will push people's buttons. This can be problematic and explains to a degree the animus he arouses in those who disagree with him.

tom said...

Thanks for your comment, and for sharing your experience. In some ways, despite all the back-and-forth of faith vs. reason, sacred vs. secular, one could agree with some conviction that not only is it "very difficult to have a conversation," but that in many instances, the conversation has yet to begin. Much talking past one another, for the reason you cite. But how easy is it to clear the ground for examining, openly and with a sense of the complexities, the "very different presuppositions" underlying so much of this discourse?