Theology: December 2003 Archives

Shameless plug

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Those interested in Christian apologetics and theology can check out my sites on those topics:

http://web.syr.edu/~jrpierce/apologetics.htm
http://web.syr.edu/~jrpierce/theology.htm

There's probably enough there to offend almost anyone.

Having taught this semester on feminist ethical theory for the first time, I've been thinking about the various kinds and motivations for feminisms. My recent venture into Ken Wilber's world of color-terms for waves of value change over time has given me some categories for thinking about these (see my Dec 5 posting on Wilber for more on the color terms).

Pre-Gilligan feminisms were generally motivated by orange concerns. Orange involves such Enlightenment ideas as equality, progress, and achievement. This led to treating men and women as if there's no real difference, expecting women to do everything men do and encouraging women to break out of traditional roles. Ifeminism is a good example of the only really consistent feminism based on pure orange principles. It insists on equality for women but not to the point of being unfair to men (and thus, interestingly, opposes affirmative action for women). If you're going to stick with pure orange motivations, the ifeminists (who also call themselves libertarian feminists) are the way to go. I've found many worthwhile commentaries and insightful perceptions coming from this crowd.

Finally, green allows real sensitivity to women's values, lives, ways of developing knowledge, ways of arriving at moral choices, etc. Green is the multicultural, pluralistic value of seeking and accepting the other. This allowed people like Carol Gilligan to say that women don't need to be forced into male molds but should be allowed to be women.

What interests me most about the green motivation is that it allows back in some traditional (i.e. blue) views about gender roles but from a green motivation, which according to Wilber is two colors more mature than blue. Unfortunately, it also allows some really dangerous attitudes when combined with red (egocentric and power-motivated values). When the red values lead to a reaction against those who wrongly or ignorantly mistreat women, anger results and fuels a reaction against such people. The green values led to the original perception, but the red fuels the reaction, and men or some group in power is seen as the enemy. This actually leads to abandoning the general green outlook, since now we have a group that isn't welcomed into the pluralistic, multicultural, just-try-to-understand-people community of love. So we don't want let the red hate full us away from the originally good insight from green, even if the initial anger of the red element is justified.

Hell and Vagueness

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Brian Weatherson has probably the best philosophy blog out there. He recently posted some thoughts about Ted Sider's paper "Hell and Vagueness" in Faith and Philosophy (2003). Ted basically argues that the distinction in goodness between the worst people in heaven and the best people in hell can't be very large, since everyone's goodness is on a continuum. God must have arbitrarily drawn a line. In response to those who complain about this as works-based salvation, he then retools the argument in terms of how much faith people have rather than how good their deeds are. I think this all misses the point, and I told him so when I read his first draft.

These issues have come up in the flurry of responses to Brian's more Catholic-friendly (but probably seriously heretical) recommendations to the theist, but Reformed views have been somewhat underrepresented and perhaps even misrepresented, even among those discussing specifically Protestant views, so I've included my thoughts. I'm arguing that we aren't in a position to say the Reformed view of God's treatment of elect and unelect is unjust, as people have been asserting. I think Brian's blog entry and all the responses are worth reading, but if you want to skip to my thoughts, go down to Dec 10. That's the first one of mine.

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Philosophy/tar/Archives/001833.html

Here's something I've been wondering about this week. In Revelation 19, an angel announces the marriage of the Lamb with his bride, the gathering of believers. Then he rides out on the white horse, and the angel standing in the sun announces the great supper of God, calling the birds to come eat the flesh of all those who defy God and continue in rebellion, gathering to make a final stand against the army of the Lord. Then they are soundly defeated, and the birds gorge themselves with the flesh of the unrighteous. I don't see anything in this chapter talking about the marriage supper of the Lamb. I see the marriage, and I see the great supper of God. When people talk about the marriage supper of the Lamb, are they talking about this feast of the birds on those who persist in rebellion against God?

Here's a musing. Take the Calvinist acronym TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints). I've heard some people of the Reformed persuastion claiming that these five points stand or fall together, and that just seems false to me, so I did some pointless speculation to think through some possible combinations short of the five points.

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