March 25, 2008

Apologetics 101: Faith vs. Values?

This interview of Will Smith in Men's Vogue reveals a guy with great personality, significant intelligence, and tremendous character. He's in love with both his family and his work and is portrayed as someone who usually puts others before himself. I'm sure he has his flaws, but I think its safe to say that the overall clean-cut image he puts forth is probably not very common in the Hollywood subculture.

But despite all that is good about Will Smith, his significant intelligence has sadly evaded him as he has been taken in by the cult of Scientology a la Tom Cruise. I like Will, I hope he will come around. In the interview with Men's Vogue, he states very tragically that he sees little difference between Scientology and the Bible, because there is much more to Scripture--in content and in purpose. He says,
I’ve studied Buddhism and Hinduism and I’ve studied Scientology through Tom. And nobody’s saying anything different! Look, I use the Bible to explain the ideas of God, and life, and love, and relationships, and the life of Jesus Christ to teach my children how to defend their spirit. But in all of the experiences I’ve had with Tom and Scientology, like, 98 percent of the principles are identical to the principles of the Bible. The Bible says, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And you know, there’s a Scientology principle: Do not create experiences for others that they cannot comfortably perceive.
It's unfortunate that he has come to think of the Bible this way--as merely a handbook for morality. Do unto others should not be approached independently of no one comes to the Father except through me. But is he all that different from many Christians who regard the moral propositions of Scripture above the saving power of the gospel. Perhaps we could helpfully understand the gospel call as one of many moral appeals, yet is the one that lacks political correctness.

As an ethicist who believes we need to always be in conversation about morality, the good, true, and the beautiful, I'm saddened that the Bible has been reduced to merely a set of values. The Bible does contain moral precepts, but not to be removed from the context of the Christian life, apart from which they make little sense. I make this argument from an epistemological perpective because while people can do good and know right from wrong, they cannot always account for it.

As a believer, have you been prepared to engage someone who aspires to the values but rejects Christ? Do you have the knowledge and the courage to confront someone who chooses only to accept bits and pieces from Scripture, ultimately making themselves their own authority? As Christians we need to consider the moral conditions in culture that we are growing our families in, be we need to be prepared to show the difference between adopting a set of moral values over and above embracing the gospel. There is no absolute truth, no absolute right and wrong, without the God from whom all truth eminates.

1 comment:

RosalieG said...

One of the enemy's tactics is to mimic the truth. Or to take the Truth and pervert it. This, of course, is what has happened with Scientology - it is a mimic.

I found it interesting he said he studied "through Tom". That reminded me of how we study "through Jesus".

As for the Bible just being a hand book, I don't think it really is because even many Christians aren't even bothering to read it. They may go to service and be involved in church but that doesn't necessarily mean they know what the Bible even says.

For the general population, I have heard the Bible misquoted a lot and referred to as "the good book" and God "the man upstairs"....and many quotes are things they've heard the Bible says, not things they've actually read. Many quotes are out of context.