From the list custodian re: the terrorist attacks,
ecernyar at SATX.RR.COM
Mon Oct 29 10:36:45 PST 2001
Jamar's post represents a very bitter view toward evangelicals who accept,
albeit reluctantly, Biblical teachings on hell. Apparently referring to
such theology, Jamar declares "[t]he intolerant feel no constraint to accept
or tolerate diversity," and suggests that those accept C.S. Lewis's position
(Jamar says "Eric's position") on the subject are in league with those who
burned people at the stake.
Prof. Jamar has either completely missed, or he deliberately ignores, the
last paragraph of my previous post explaining "my position" that religious
liberty is a Biblical imperative. I can find little comfort in Prof.
Jamar's assurances that the ideological humility and generosity born of the
liberal tradition will protect even those who ascribe to "my position"
(really, C.S. Lewis's position) when Jamar (a self-proclaimed proponent of
that tradition) seems intend on deliberately misunderstanding, stereotyping,
and ridiculing "my" position. There is a strong sense in Jamar's post that
"you evangelicals don't at all deserve to be tolerated" and "you had better
be thankful that we in the liberal tradition are as humble and generous as
we are." To the evangelical ear or eye, the hostility in Jamar's post
quickly drowns out any sense of humility or generosity. I fear that this
strained, reluctant "commitment" to my religious liberties, being born of
such abundant, undeserved humility and generosity, could be exhausted at any
moment. It is not far from saying, "if you really want to be assured of
your civil liberties, renounce the exclusivity of your religious beliefs."
Because Prof. Jamar is hardly alone in his perspective, it merits further
response. I sense that Prof. Jamar's distrust derives from a disbelief that
those who believe in hell could possibly embrace the "full worth and dignity
of each human being." And if one does not embrace the "full worth and
dignity of each human being," one cannot be trusted to embrace their civil
I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of evangelical,
sola-scriptura Christians believe wholehartedly in the full worth and
dignity of each human being. It is a core Biblical teaching. Christians
believe that the full worth and dignity of each human being can find no
greater expression than in the facts that God created them in his own image
and that he loved them so much that he died for them.
I believe that the two biggest points John Calvin made in his Institutes of
the Christian Religion were the dignity (infinite worth & eternal
significance) and total depravity (all born with a sin nature) of "Man."
Prof. Jamar, like many others, stumble over the "doctrine of depravity." I
understand that. But in the evangelical mind, the two doctrines are not at
all inconsistent with each other. Indeed, the "mystery" of the Cross cannot
be understood apart from them.
Finally, I strongly dispute Prof. Jamar's suggestion that those who believe
in hell "feel no constraint to accept or tolerate diversity." Evangelicals
would be horrified at the burning of people at the stake. "For we wrestle
not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual
wickedness in high places." Eph. 6:12.
From: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics
[mailto:RELIGIONLAW at listserv.ucla.edu]On Behalf Of Steven D. Jamar
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2001 7:03 AM
To: RELIGIONLAW at listserv.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: From the list custodian re: the terrorist attacks,
Eric's post demonstrates better than I could the asymmetry of the demands of
tolerance and acceptance of the full worth and dignity of each human being,
regardless of regligious belief. The intolerant feel not constraint to
or tolerate diversity. The tolerant do ? even to the point of tolerating
at some important level accepting the intolerant and recognizing their
commonality with oneself even as that same commonality is denied by the
This has implications well beyond the personal and talk radio. How is the
to respond to the intolerant? Those damning the country to hell? Those
advocating a creation of a religious state?
The law must respond not in the way of religious orthodoxy - "you must
this and only this or you are damned to hell or, in this life, to jail."
law must respond in the liberal tradition, in the tradition of recognizing
inherent worth and dignity of each person, in the tradition of humility
one's own correctness (collectively in this setting), in the tradition of
tolerance and acceptance.
Keeping those traditions in word and deed is a serious challenge in the best
times. But in times of war and fear and uncertainty, the desire to find a
scapegoat and to define who we are by excluding "them" becomes even stronger
and the challenge even greater.
Where are the voices condemning Falwell and hate mongering? There were
willing to jump all over the host of "Politically Incorrect" for some
politically incorrect statements. Those who question the use of force are
Where is those fundamentalist Christian spokesmen embracing Jews and Muslims
and Hindus and Buddhists?
It would be small comfort to those burned at the stake if the government
to adopt Eric's position of "it's your own fault if you do not use your free
will to see things my way." As the government has done in the past.
Let me add (at the risk of Eugene considering that I am wondering too far
afield here from law and civics and religion) that in my personal experience
most Christians and most Muslims believe they have it right, but approach
understanding with greater humility that admits that perhaps they don't.
this tiny bit of humility, this lack of pretention, even in the face of
doctrine that excludes all non-believers, is, I think, the saving grace -
thing that allows diverse people to live together and allows us to reach
agreement that the government must at the very least not choose sides.
Prof. Steven D. Jamar, Director LRRW Program vox:
Howard University School of Law fax: 202-806-8428
2900 Van Ness Street NW mailto:sjamar at law.howard.edu
Washington, DC 20008 http://www.law.howard.edu/faculty/pages/jamar
"In education, it is my experience that those lessons which we learn from
teachers who are not just good, but who also show affection for the student,
deep into our minds. Lessons from other sorts of teachers may not.
you may be compelled to study and may fear the teacher, the lessons may not
sink in. Much depends on the affection from the teacher."
The Dalai Lama's Book of Wisdom p. 87
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