Has the Protest(antism) Stalled?

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In a sense, it is a new protest against what many see as the institutionalization of religion. Almost a year ago, I wrote an essay outlining what I see as a fairly significant shift in the way many Americans think about their faith (I blogged about some of the themes in that essay for the Huffington Post). As a philosopher, I’m intrigued by the epistemology (how knowledge is grounded) of this shift. I’ve become convinced that people of faith depend upon the social and practical constructs of something like the church in order to maintain a robust belief.

Paul Pardi: Protesting Protestantism: Why Religion Must Continue To Change.

Pardi postulates several trends in religion, notably a rise in community, or the corporate interdependence of faith, and the rise of the transcendence. One of his points which bothers me is this:

Believers will depend on an authority to ensure their faith has merit. Regardless of whether one is meeting in a mega-church or a home church, some authority that gives credence to belief always emerges. It may be an individual that everyone turns to for guidance or protection, or an escalation of the importance and authority of a religious text (or a version of that text — this year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, a translation which many almost deify), or a particular practice such as speaking in tongues or communal prayer. Many philosophers and scientists uphold reason as that authority. Regardless, epistemologically, belief needs a king and a soldier.

Does it? Do we need an outside authority to validate our faith? Here, if he is correct, we find the reason that Faith will ultimately fail. When you need an outside authority to validate your faith, and that authority fails, so will your faith. Think about Creationism, or fundamentalism, or many of the -isms which separates us from God and when it falters, how many angry non-believers rise. The author notes KJVO-ism. How many people has this -ism destroyed?

Does belief need a king? Can authority be in non-authority?

Yeah, I don’t like this point whatsoever. I think that the focus on finding the authority which validates a belief (whether is it atheism or Christianity) gives to fundamentalism. I am not against an authority in a belief system, but if that authority is what validates your belief, then it becomes a problem. Instinctively, I want to destroy your validating authority, just to toy with your mind, to see if you actually have faith.

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One Reply to “Has the Protest(antism) Stalled?”

  1. I’ve seen this happen in a lot of cases where people are looking for acceptance from the group and will ‘follow the crown’ in they faith as both a way to validate their faith (others beleve it too) and to feel abpart of the group. Where I’ve seen it is in less populated areas with limited faith communities. Rather than plant their own church, they just pick one they can live with and go there. Plus, I believe one feels better if they can believe in black and white terms. Living with any uncertainty of faith can be difficult, so if someone tells you they have the answers, and they have others who agree, it’s easier to latch on to them.

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