Ignorance is Not Purity

I saw this article posted on someone else’s page and there are two reasons I am responding to it. 1.) As a scholar of religion who analyzes the use of symbols and practices as a profession and 2.) because I was made deeply happy to see other Christians responding to it critically. We need to hear the voices of thinking Christians more, and we don’t hear them enough.

As a scholar who works primarily in religion, the problem with articles like this one is the isolationism and historical revisionism they promote. They assume that “Christianity” is a kind of bounded, autonomous, entity that has never touched, interacted with, or been changed by any other religious belief system anywhere ever. For obvious reasons, this is not true. Christianity is as much steeped in other religious traditions as any other.

It also takes the view that symbols, icons, and objects from other religious traditions all fall under the category of “from the devil.” If it’s Hindu, the devil made it. If it’s Buddhist, the devil made it. If it’s shamanic or animistic, the devil made it. This is a disconcertingly offensive position to take regarding all other human ways of interacting with the sacred. This is also a dangerous route for Christianity to take, because it stifles all forms of creative inquiry and upholds ignorance as “purity.” Better not learn anything new, because the devil might get you.

This article isn’t critical thought, it’s fear.