Friday, July 10, 2015

When Puritanboard told me to become a Christian

That probably caught you off guard.  Normally I point out the shortcomings of Orthodox Bridge (a necessary task, mind you), but I decided to change course.  I had posted a book review of Jamie Smith's fine Imagining the Kingdom.  One of Smith's arguments was that what we call "worldview," which better thinkers call "social imaginary" or "plausibility structure," doesn't simply function at the cognitive, intellectual level.  It goes into one's very bones--literally.

All of this is common-sense to anyone who has ever learned a new skill or even a new spoken language.  You don't learn something merely by cognitively massaging it.  You have to practice it.  This sort of learning takes place at the pre-cognitive level. As N. T. Wright notes elsewhere, "people who learn the serious business of prayer often discover something that therapists in other traditions sometimes stumble on as well: that prayer encourages a rhythm of breathing that facilitates a calmer and wiser bodily approach to life than might otherwise be the case" (The Case for the Psalms, 28).

Of course, there is a danger here.  Some traditions literally gaze at their navels and it is not always clear if that isn't their primary goal in prayer.  And we want to avoid fetishism--by these physical actions we can manipulate God.  The question remains, though, is that necessarily what's going to happen?

This is why the truth doesn't lie with Descartes--on any point.  If you don't believe that "presuppositions" or "worldview/story/social imaginary" goes all the way down to the precognitive level, then you posit some autonomous realm where the Ego remains untouched.  The more vicious irony is that these guys are Van Tillians.  I guess I am the true presuppositionalist.  The discussion ended with a call for me to repent and believe the gospel.


  1. There are some very shallow unlearned people on Puritanboard.

    Has that site moved? I can't seem to get on there any more. I'm rather missing the interesting discussions that go on there.

    1. I don't think it moved.

  2. I found it again on Google, but the address on my favorites had stopped getting me there.

    I respect the fact that they accept only users who are signed up to the Reformed confessions. It cuts out a lot of pointless discussions and means that the people are really serious about Reformed theology (at least as far as they actually understand it).

  3. I have an Anglican friend there and I know a Lutheran is there, but no one is allowed to criticize the Standards. I just stay there to ask technical questions and the like. I don't really expect to learn anything.