October 29, 2006


Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

What do Christians mean, then, when they say that creation is “good”? …

Perhaps the most unfortunate answer to this question is the one most commonly regarded as “Christian.”  This is the sentimental answer.  It affirms the goodness of creation by denying the reality of any disorder or evil within our experience.  For this view, a Christian always “looks on the bright side,” always “sees nothing but good in events or people,” “remembers the silver lining,” and believes that all’s well in God’s world.  The picture of the world fostered here is unbelievably naive: people are filled only with good intentions; frustrations and fears are merely psychological since positive thought will eradicate them; and problems are only there because we do not believe hard enough that they are not there.  This gentle world is appropriate enough for Sunday school.  But when this child’s landscape, filled with ladies, bunnies, fairies, and harmless men with clerical collars, is presented as the Christian understanding of the world — since God’s world is good — Christianity has lost all power and relevance to the problems of life.  No wonder those people who live immersed within the tragedies of existence, amid its real frustrations and insecurities, its deep conflicts of power, and its inescapable sufferings, are offended by the falsity of this picture of the world and suspect that those who hold it find in this sentimentalism a helpful excuse for doing nothing about the world’s various ills (Langdon Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth, pp. 119-120).

Posted by John Barach @ 6:44 am | Discuss (2)

2 Responses to “Sentimentalism”

  1. Paul B Says:

    What about the rest of the book? Worth reading?

  2. John Barach Says:

    Yes. Gilkey isn’t orthodox and there’s some junk you have to wade through, but this is actually a very helpful book on the implications of creation ex nihilo.

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