Jesus Christ AND Ayn Rand?
The media is abuzz about a “schism” in the Republican Party, a “crisis of values” among Conservatives. But, the media — and unfortunately those responding to it — are all too superficial to see that this is more than a political schism; much more. The political aspect is just a faint echo — a tremor, which serves as a precursor to the massive coming earthquake. It is not a political crisis, but a philosophical one. It is not a crisis of conflicting opinions among groups. It is a crisis of conflicting worldviews within individuals. It is a crisis in the deepest part of one’s soul; a crisis of cognitive dissonance run rampant in the minds of men, a war between ideals — and the opposing ideals are not what the headlines would lead you to believe:
“Take a Stand Against Rand” says Christian author, Marvin Olasky in World Magazine.
“Ayn Rand or Jesus Christ? Conservatives can’t have it both ways” says Mike Lux of the Huffington Post.
“You Can’t Reconcile Ayn Rand and Jesus” says CNN Contributor and Professor of Religion at Boston University, Stephan Plethero in a USA Today Forum.
“Christians Must Choose: Ayn Rand or Jesus” reads a headline for the American Values Network.
There is a choice to be made, but it isn’t between Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand. It’s between reason and irrationality; between reality and fantasy; between the objective and the subjective; between truth and fairytales. And it is a choice that primarily needs to be made by Christians.
The political and religious commentators above are quick to blindly pit Christianity against the philosophy of Ayn Rand and then proceed to wholly denounce one in favor of the other as if the two are some random opposing sports teams behind which the masses are to gather according their personal and subjective preferences. They drop, or entirely ignore, the context and the nature of what is being discussed. These are not sports teams — they are worldviews; ideas about reality. And the context is not a popularity contest — it is reality. We are in reality and we are speaking of different views of that reality. Any given aspect of a view of reality will either be accurate or not: true or false. And this, the accuracy of a worldview (or aspects of it) is what matters in the context of reality.
The question to be asked first is not: Are the worldviews of Christianity and Objectivism (Ayn Rand’s philosophy) compatible? Rather it is: What is true? Or, more specific to the context of this discussion: Is there any truth in Christianity or in Objectivism? And here is where the Christian must make the crucial choice mentioned above: will he be an advocate of reason, rationality, and objective truth by objectively assessing the truthfulness of his conceptions of Christianity (and willingly rejecting that which is found to be untrue), or will he be an advocate of irrationality, fantasy, and subjective fairytales by insisting that Christianity is true without any objective reason for believing so — that it’s true merely because he wants it to be.
This — devotion to truth, regardless of the implications — is the foundational and indispensible first step that any man who wishes to be worthy of the title of “Man” must take. Apart from this first step, every thought and crafty sentence, every argument and concept of “proof”, every illusion of truth in one’s head is just that: an illusion — a fleeting and floating cloud of subjective, emotionally charged nothingness. And, therefore, apart from this step, every critique of other worldviews and every bit of “intellectual” commentary is massively pointless and absurd — akin to a child babbling about his dreams to a board of directors in a business meeting. Such is the majority of content of the articles above.
However, once one has taken that first step and decided to live for and love the truth no matter where it may lead, then — and only then — is he fit (assuming he is armed with a proper epistemology) to evaluate the truthfulness, not only of various conceptions of Christianity, but of all ideas, period. Then, he is fit to discover all of the truth — no matter where it came from and no matter where it leads. Then, he will be capable of rising above the stupid and trite ‘sports game’ demonstrated in the above articles and throughout the media, in order to see what is and is not true in the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and to properly integrate it with all other truth which he has discovered, particularly truth about Christianity. Then, rather than emulate the intellectual cowardice of the Seminary professor who told Dr. John Piper that “[Ayn Rand’s writing] is incredibly dangerous”, he will be able to emulate Paul’s description of an intellectual hero — a ‘spiritual man who appraises all things’ (1 Cor 2:15) because he will have an objective standard against which to appraise all things. Then, he will be equipped to say with Paul “we destroy speculations and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ “(2 Cor. 10:5) because he will no longer be running from speculations and lofty opinions or retreating to his own personal fantasy-land which he calls “truth”.
This is what is desperately needed on the part of Christians today (and on the part of every man in general). This is not the only step which needs to be taken, but it is the first. This is what I have done, and am eager to continually do. And this first step — together with the path to which it leads — is why I can very comfortably and confidently say that I love Jesus Christ and I love Ayn Rand — and, I love myself. This is the foundational reason that, in spite of massively popular contrary opinions, I can very seriously — and with full conviction — call myself a Christian egoist.
Originally published at www.thechristianegoist.com on October 29, 2012.
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