Objectivism and Christianity

Ayn Rand and Christianity

I had a conversation with a friend about the difficulty of defining a worldview when there’s disagreement among those who subscribe to it. What is Objectivism? More controversial, what is Christianity?

Even among those that style themselves “Objectivists,” there is disagreement about conclusions of reasonable minds. To the point, there’s a battle between The Atlas Society in Washington, D.C. and The Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA. It’s even more obvious that there is disagreement (a battle of sorts) between those who claim to articulate true Christianity.

So, for a layperson like me, it’s a challenge to articulate a Christian voice, except as it relates to myself, a Christian. But, it the context of writing a book, the audience I seek to reach is not interested in my particular view of Christianity. To narrow the scope of the comparison, I had thought about focusing on the Christianity of C. S. Lewis. After all, he has a great apology/introduction that was intended to introduce “Mere Christianity,” a particularly non-controversial brand.

But, after we talked about it, it seemed like it would detract from the purpose of the book, which is more about Ayn Rand than about C. S. Lewis. In other words, it’s the movie that’s really going to get readers interested. The “Christian Objectivist” audience is very limited, but Christians who will become interested in Ayn Rand’s thought because of the movie could be plentiful. Furthermore, Ayn Rand fans may be interested in a Christian perspective other than Ayn Rand‘s, with appropriate respect for her philosophy.
Again, always interested in your comments.

If you have read, or are reading, or even intend to read The Soul of Atlas, I would love to hear from you.

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The Soul of AtlasThe Soul of Atlas by Mark David Henderson
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One thought on “Objectivism and Christianity

  1. Mark, you might want to take the approach of sticking with the earliest possible interpretations of Christ’s teachings by Christian saints and theologians whose interpretations are widely accepted by many denominations.
    There were many disagreements between Christians in the first 1,000 years before the first “Schism” between the Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic churches. But also for the first 1,000 years or so the foundational Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Christian Church (made up of representatives from all the Christian geographical areas, diocese, etc.) openly discussed and debated many, many doctrines and ideas that were brought for discussion, decided what they believed was based on Christ’s teachings and what wasn’t, and set forth their interpretations of Christ’s teachings and the Bible as the closest thing to “Official Christian Doctrine” that is possible under an inclusive cooperative process like a truly “ecumenical” council. For example, issues like “was Christ a man only (albeit a very holy one), God only (who took the form of a man but did not completely share our Human Nature), or was he fully both?” were openly accepted into discussion and debated before “official doctrine” was declared (as opposed to being issued as dictatorial edicts from a few church “officials” or surrendering to an “every man for himself” breakdown of any cohesion at all amongst Christians).
    St. John Chryssostom, St. Justin the Philosopher, and St. Gregory of Nyssa are just three examples that come to mind just now. I’m sure there are a hundred more. I would *highly* recommend gleaning examples and or interpretations from St. John’s writings, if any there are particularly relevant to an “Objectvist vs. Christian beliefs” discussion, because of his very straightforward and eloquent way of presenting theological concepts to people who were not theologians.
    In the second 1,000 years of Christianity many, many denominations, sects, individuals, etc. introduced new interpretations and theological conflicts that were never widely accepted, until today we have so many ideas flying around (“Original Sin” , Purgatory, etc.) that no two groups seem to share any ideas that weren’t already agreed upon in the “First Thousand”.
    So if I were writing such a book, as I was defining “Christianity” and using examples of Christian doctrine and theology in my arguments, I’d stick with “First Thousand” definitions and examples. There will *always* be some people for whom the specific teachings of their denomination and/or their personal interpretations will differ with what you present…no matter what you present. But “First Thousand” theology and examples would seem to be the best bet for minimizing those conflicts in the minds of as many readers as possible. Plus it will give the closed-minded among Atheist Objectivists less opportunity to distort what you’re trying to present, i.e. by pointing out the flaws of Original Sin, Puritanism, etc., and saying “this is Christianity, therefore Christianity is wrong” and thinking that they’ve made some sort of valid argument.
    Is “advice” a subset of commentary”…? 😉

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