The life of the mind in early Christianity

This is the best couple of paragraphs from N.T. Wright’s massive two volume tome:

That is the point at which Paul found himself inventing and developing this new discipline we call, in retrospect, ‘Christian theology’. The radically new worldview in which he and his converts found themselves was bound to face the question ‘why’ at every corner, and in order to answer it, and to teach his churches to answer it for themselves, he had to speak of one particular God, and of the world, in a way nobody had done before.

 

This had an important result: the life of the mind was itself elevated by Paul from a secondary social activity, for those with the leisure to muse and ponder life’s tricky questions, to a primary socio-cultural activity for all the Messiah’s people. The interesting question of whether one thinks oneself into a new way of acting or acts oneself into a new way of thinking will, I suspect, continue to tease those who try to answer it (not least because it is of course reflexive: should you answer it by thinking or by acting?).

 

N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, vol. 4, Christian Origins and the Question of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013), 27.

For the early Christians, philosophy became a way of life. 

Levels of Analysis in the Sermon on the Mount: A brief outline

What is the Sermon on the Mount? How do we read it? What I have in mind is Matthew 5-7. Let’s leave Luke 6 out for now. Below are some potential layers of analysis for understanding the Sermon on the Mount. Now, the most simple way to read it is: hear these words and do them. But to do so requires a life of reflection.

  1. Literary-Rhetorical Levels
    1. The sermon is nested in Matthew’s gospel. So it’s place in Matthew’s story of Jesus must be considered. 
      1. In its context, the Sermon is Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom of God in non-parabolic format. 
      2. It is presented as a layer of evidence that Jesus is the Messiah who has authority.
        1. First because it contains Jesus’ interpretation of the Old Testament (hermeneutical skill). 
        2. Second, because it is presented as truth of the sort the Messiah would teach (divine revelation). 
      3. It is presented as a summary of Jesus’ vision of happiness, righteousness, human perfection, and wisdom. 
      4. As such, the contents are presented as an expression of an idea to be sought, but a constitution to be instantly applied. The guiding metaphor for relating to Jesus in Matthew is of discipleship, not legal judgment. 
      5. It is presented, then, as the foundation upon which the church is built (Matthew 7 and Matthew 16).
      6. It is taught on a mountain, in the hearing of crowds, to disciples who are called to preach the same message. And so it is a retelling of the Moses’ receipt of the law from God on Sinai. 
    2. The sermon, in Matthew, is elaborated upon in the narrative of Matthew in key ways. 
    3. In Matthew, the Sermon is self-consciously intertextual with the Old Testament, so those resonances must be taken into account. 
    4. Though I used to be skeptical of attempts to do this, the Sermon fits quite nicely into Aristotelian rhetorical form. Jesus appeals to commonly accepted facts, begins with an exordium, gives a narration of facts, makes a proposition statement, gives examples, uses a sort of recursive-self referential outline to clarify-elaborate on key terms, and concludes with an emotional call to action.
      1. Looking at the rhetoric can help us understand Jesus’ main point(s).
      2. Looking at the rhetoric can help us understand which parts of the Sermon are appeals to emotion over appeals to fact.
      3. Looking at the rhetoric through the lens of ancient social norms can help us grasp what function the Sermon has in his ministry. 
  2. Theologically
    1. As a book in the Bible, the Sermon is meant, by those who placed it in the canon to be interpreted within the frame work provided by the Bible even in the absence of intertextuality. The golden rule might be be informed by material in the Psalms or the personal covenant in Ruth, for instance. 
    2. Since the canon of Scripture came together in a theological milieu which included discussion of the Trinity, theosis as the goal of salvation, and the Incarnation of the Logos in Jesus, it’s important to discern these themes in the Sermon.
      1. Incarnation: The life is Jesus is necessarily divine revelation because Jesus is God incarnate. But the teaching of Jesus can still be the result of careful human thought and consideration because Jesus is also fully human. Both elements are important to consider. Understanding the human reasoning behind the sermon in how we experience it as divine revelation.
      2. Trinity: The Sermon is presented as the Son making known the culture of the Trinity as instantiated among sinful human beings. See also Matthew 11:26-30. Jesus is
      3. Theosis: Jesus says, in the Sermon, that his disciples will ‘see God,’ ‘be called sons of God,’ and that they should ‘be perfect’ like God. And so the Sermon is about how we approach the being of God as creatures. Jesus also uses the word ‘μακαριος’ which carries the connotation of ‘blissful’ as used in contemporary philosophy to describe the gods. 
  3. Philosophically
    1. As ancient philosophical discourse
      Ancient Greek philosophy (Stoic, Platonic, Aristotelian, and Epicurian) dealt with certain key issues:

      1. Blissfulness/Blessedness- Jesus describes his vision of blessing/bliss in Matthew 5:3-10 and bookends those beatitudes with ‘the kingdom of heaven.’
      2. Virtue – Jesus never uses the word virtue, but his sermon does touch on righteousness and prudence, and these terms are associated with Jewish virtue ethics in contemporary literature. 
      3. The Passions – Jesus never uses this word, but his topics include: anger, lust, hatred, the need for approval, and anxiety. 
      4. Politics – Jesus is dealing with conflict resolution, group solidarity, resource management, and personal piety within the context of a divinely sanctioned community: the kingdom of God. He is, in the Aristotelian sense, producing an ethical foundation for a constitution of people. 
    2. Ancient philosophical discourse tended to refer people to the Logos, but individuals like Parmenides weren’t afraid to claim divine inspiration as a rhetorical technique.
      1. Jesus, while showing his work (he gives reasons for his pronouncements) still places himself in a place of implicit divine authority, ‘I say unto you.’ and ‘I will say to you, depart…’ In this sense, Jesus is operating as philosopher/Prophet, but also as the Logos behind both. 
      2. To bring your mind into closer conformity to the Logos, ancient philosophy recommended philosophical exercises: hiding good deeds, time alone, meditation on the day’s duties to avoid worrying over the future, considering one’s misdeeds, making amends for wrongs done, taking criticism well, keeping promises when inconvenient, and so-on. Jesus does precisely this. 
      3. On the ancient understanding, the Old Testament was/is a body of philosophy (see The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture by Yoram Hazony). Jesus is furthering that discussion, operating as a voice among many, but also as the Voice.  
    3. Jesus touches, albeit briefly on the topics most germane to human happiness, and so that naturally brings the Sermon into conversation with Christian and non-Christian discourse on metaphysics, psychology, ethics, and politics. 
  4. Sociologically/Historically
    1. In the sermon, we have a window into Jesus’ aims as a player in history (see The Aims of Jesus by Ben Meyer…not enough people read this). 
    2. Historical background (obviously) will give some window into what Jesus was getting at. Particularly in conjunction with rhetorical and literary analyses. In the Sermon are explicit and implicit critiques of other forms of Israelite practice contemporary with Jesus.
    3. If Jesus conceives of his kingdom as a people, in a place, with a king, and a culture, then the Sermon can be conceived of, not merely as ethical or theological discourse, but as strategy. The Sermon includes some aspects of how to appropriately maintain the reputation of God’s people in an honor shame culture with competing strategies for acquiring status within the meta-group of the Roman world. I can think of four items that cover this well: Neyrey’s book Honor and Shame in the Gospel of MatthewThe Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic GospelsThe Micro-sociology of Charisma, and The Power Tactics of Jesus ChristOther items of interest include Stephen Bram’s Biblical Games with his emphasis on Game Theory applied to biblical narrative and Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds.

The Seared Conscience

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

What does it mean to have a seared conscience? It’s something like seared flesh. The top layer is dead and insensitive to pain. To have a seared conscience is something like the experience of doing, over and over, that which you just know to be wrong until you stop listening to your moral intuitions all together. Peter writes of a similar experience:

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:20-21)

Again, why is it worse? Acting in the face of consciences condemnation slowly puts your conscience to death. For the Christian, sanctification is the two-fold process of listening to conscience and reforming conscience where it is in error. To desensitize conscience makes you, from a personal-social standpoint, irredeemable. That’s why the author of Hebrews says that people who are subjecting Christ to crucifixion all over again by their public actions cannot repent. They’re too busy intentionally stifling the truth to be able to hear its call.

Interestingly, this ancient piece of observational psychology has been discovered anew:

“Moral incongruence, in this case, the experience of disapproving of IPU [internet pornography use] while still using it, seems to be a key variable in predicting a host of important outcomes associated with pornography use, not the least of which is perceived addiction to internet pornography.”

Doing what you know or feel to be bad and deriving pleasure from it [at least with respect to porn] leads you to feel trapped in that behavior. I wonder if this holds true in other areas like drug use, losing your temper, failure to exercise, over eating, etc. And if so, what are the options? Convincing people to give up on their moral positions? If wrong, this makes sense. But maybe this is where a therapeutics of personal responsibility might be useful. The stoics recommended taking responsibility for everything you experience/do. The Lord tells Cain something similar. Thomas Saasz recommends jettisoning the notion that mental disorders are anything other than repetitive behaviors for which people can take responsibility.

I certainly don’t want a seared conscience.

Letty Russell and Joachim Jeremias on God as Father

[Original post from 2013 when I was a research assistant and read as much of the academic feminist literature as was possible]

“The title Father for God is placed in the mouth of Jesus in three other passages of Mark (8:38; 11:25; 13:32) and in six passages from Q, including the model *prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9 // Luke 11:2). It is much more frequent in the letters and in Matthew, John, and Luke. It also occurs in rabbinic literature and the Jewish *liturgy. Jesus and/or his companions may have used the title Father for God in some form, but it cannot be shown with certainty that they did so. If they did, it was because the title resonated deeply with their Jewish hearers, perhaps to express resistance to the imperial title pater patriae: “God’s reign (not the emperor’s) is near”; “God (not the emperor) is our father.”- Letty Russel, Dictionary of Feminist Theologies (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 1.

In the early parts of the entry she deals with the view commonly ascribed to Joachim Jeremias’, that αββα (Father) was a term of childlike intimacy. She notes:,

“This idea is based primarily on analyses of *gospel materials by Joachim Jeremias (1967, 11–65). It has been used to privilege Father as a divine title and to reject feminist critiques of exclusively masculine language and imagery for God and of the problematic character of parental language for God. Jeremias’s case, which has been modified very little by his followers, relies on a series of interrelated claims: (1) that the word abba represents a special use by Jesus that was central to his teaching; (2) that for Jesus it expressed a special kind of intimacy and tenderness, deriving from its supposed origin in baby talk; (3) that Jesus’ practice was distinct from the practices of both the early church and Judaism. These claims were formulated under the influence of the patently anti-Jewish article in the TDNT by the Nazi scholar Gerhard Kittel.”

I will say this: Jesus definitely used Father language to address God.

It’s also funny to see a feminist scholar using the genetic fallacy with the ‘Nazi accusations will work’ fallacy. Those antics have been used, it seems, from the beginning. 

Father language most likely had very little to do with emotional intimacy but rather with patriarchal reverence which indicated that Jesus saw himself as the go-between for God and his people (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus is the broker between the ultimate Patron and his loyal clients. Calling God, “Father” or “Abba” was Jesus’ way of saying that God is supreme to other patrons and apparently Jesus’ way of showing that this apparently distant figure was accessible to Jesus’ followers. (see William Herzog, Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus (Louisville, KY: WJK, 2005), 12, 22-24.

To address her three points:

  1. “Father” does represent a special intimacy, but the intimacy of patron-client relationships. (See Jerome H. Neyrey,“God, Benefactor and Patron: The Major Cultural Model for Interpreting the Deity in Greco-Roman Antiquity” S.J. University of Notre Dame) This is the representation in the gospels themselves, “Nobody knows the Father, except the Son…”
  2. The use of Father was not a context independent term of intimacy and tenderness. Jeremias did not stick to his claims about the intimacy of the word nor make them central to his arguments. He changed his mind by the time he published his New Testament Theology, (see page 62-67). He noted that “It is necessary to issue a warning…the fact that abba was initially a child’s exclamatory word has led to the mistaken assumption that Jesus adopted the language of a tiny child when he addressed God as ‘Father’; even I myself believed this earlier (pp 67).” Everybody thinks this is the case these days. Sentimentality is a powerful argument. 
  3. Jesus’ practice was distinct from early Judaism, he simply called God, “Father” more often and claimed the right to bestow that option upon others. Incidentally, Jesus’ practice was not distinct from early Christianity, the early Christians say themselves imitating Jesus when they did it (see Romans 8:14-17).

Think Rightly About Yourselves

[This is a repost from 2013 with an additional translation added to the list below]

Text

Λέγω γὰρ διὰ τῆς χάριτος τῆς δοθείσης μοι παντὶ τῷ ὄντι ἐν ὑμῖν μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρ᾽ ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν ἀλλὰ φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν, ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως. (Rom 12:3 BGT)

Translation

Upon first glance the obvious translation/meaning is, “For, I say to all of you through the grace which was given to me, do not think about yourselves more highly than it is necessary to think, but rather think [w/respect to yourselves] in a manner that leads to temperance; each one as God has given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)

Other Common Translations:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Rom 12:3 KJV)

 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  (Rom 12:3 ESV)

 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone who is among you not to think more highly of yourself than what one ought to think, but to think [sensibly], as God has apportioned a measure of faith to each one. (Rom 12:3 Lexham English Bible)

 

For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you. (Rom 12:3 International Standard Version) [Here, they catch that ‘thinking of yourself’ is implied due to the nature of the contrasted modes of thought.]

 

For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.
(Rom 12:3 NET)

Syntactical Comment

Every translation takes the Greek preposition εις to mean “with” and they translate the stative verb (verb about a state of being) adverbially. I’m going against a trend in translations here, but εις rarely means ‘with’ and not ever, that I can think of, with an infinitive. But εις το + [infinitive] often (always?) connotes purpose.  

Paul is contrasting to ways of thinking about yourself. One is haughty, the other is a form of self-reflection that leads to sober-mindedness or temperance. 

Reflections

Paul wants Christians to think about themselves so that they can judge their own capacities soundly. But it’s not just that he wants them to think soundly. It’s that he wants them to think about themselves in a way that leads to sound judgment in interpersonal matters. What this means, if you go on to read the rest of Romans 12, is that we consider just what our gifts are and we use them in a way that is in line with unhypocritical love (Romans 12:9).

This is an interesting way of looking at things. Be utterly realistic about how wretched, weak, and malicious you are (Romans 1-3). Also, be utterly realistic about what God’s grace has done in you (Romans 7-8). Realize that God has a plan that uses even the most dire of circumstances to bring his will to pass (Romans 9-11). Now, use your gifts with circumspection and confidence. That’s what he’s saying, or something like that.

A Recent Translation That Got Things Right

David Bentley Hart Translates the verse:

“For, by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to be more haughtily minded than your thinking ought to be, but rather to let you thinking conduce to sober-mindedness, as God has apportioned a measure of faithfulness to each. (Romans 12:3 DBH NTT)

Don’t Be Yourself

“Just be yourself.”

If “be yourself” means “be honest about yourself, your weaknesses, and your abilities, lie neither to yourself or others” then I agree. If it means do what you truly and really think is best, then I absolutely agree. 

But what it really means is something like this excuse your excesses, wink at your weaknesses, befriend your faults, and ignore your ignorance.

If I were to tell a struggling Greek student, “just be yourself,” then they would remain a non-Greek knowing person. 

If a new lifter goes to the gym and acts like themselves with the weight equipment they will either plateau at a non-optimal state, injure themselves or become a gymbecile.

How about a Christian who is addicted to various evil behaviors? Should he simply “be himself?” Or should he try really hard to discipline those habits out of himself?

Anyhow, I think the advice can be stated in a useful way, but in the romanticized way it is commonly used it is a bad and dangerous idea.

The Loquacious Atheist: He Is Speaking Pure Gibberish

When I heard that Daniel Dennett’s new book on consciousness was released, I didn’t care. He has a tendency to argue in this format:

  1. Here’s an idea it isn’t worth explaining from the past.
  2. Here’s my alternative that uses sciency words.
  3. It cannot be explained by current science, but with enough scientific advances, it obviously will be explained.
  4. Logic, etc.

I’m hardly exaggerating. It’s like Sam Harris, but less endearing because it isn’t podcast format and he doesn’t look like Zoolander. I stopped reading Dennett’s books when I recognized that pattern.

David Bentley Hart refers to mistakes like this as the pleonastic fallacy, explaining qualitative distinctions in terms of quantitative increments toward some grander whole. He’s especially fond of the accusation in The Experience of God. In Breaking the Spell, Dennett basically argues that a bunch of physics explanations are true, biology is probably just as accurate, therefore there is no need for a first cause since more explanations will be found. In other words, being itself can be explained by things that already apparently possess being. Theodore Beale made this awesome meme about his style:

[ATHEIST+LOGIC.jpg]

Having mentioned Hart, the silver lining of new Dennett books being released is that Hart lumbers forth from whatever tome laden cavern he inhabits in order to put pen to paper for a brief, scornful essay before returning to his arcane pursuits. Apparently, Dennett does not disappoint and continues his pattern of argument. And Hart, not to be outdone, makes fun of him for it:

Dennett, however, writes as if language were simply the cumulative product of countless physical ingredients. It begins, he suggests, in mere phonology. The repeated sound of a given word somehow embeds itself in the brain and creates an “anchor” that functions as a “collection point” for syntactic and semantic meanings to “develop around the sound.” But what could this mean? Are semiotic functions something like iron filings and phonemes something like magnets? What is the physical basis for these marvelous congelations in the brain? The only possible organizing principle for such meanings would be that very innate grammar that Dennett denies exists — and this would seem to require distinctly mental concepts. Not that Dennett appears to think the difference between phonemes and concepts an especially significant one. He does not hesitate, for instance, to describe the “synanthropic” aptitudes that certain organisms (such as bedbugs and mice) acquire in adapting themselves to human beings as “semantic information” that can be “mindlessly gleaned” from the “cycle of generations.”

But there is no such thing as mindless semantics. True, it is imaginable that the accidental development of arbitrary pre-linguistic associations between, say, certain behaviors and certain aspects of a physical environment might be preserved by natural selection, and become beneficial adaptations. But all semantic information consists in the interpretation of signs, and of conventions of meaning in which signs and references are formally separable from one another, and semiotic relations are susceptible of combination with other contexts of meaning. Signs are intentional realities, dependent upon concepts, all the way down. And between mere accidental associations and intentional signs there is a discontinuity that no gradualist — no pleonastic — narrative can span.

Similarly, when Dennett claims that words are “memes” that reproduce like a “virus,” he is speaking pure gibberish. Words reproduce, within minds and between persons, by being intentionally adopted and employed.

And so it goes. 

Abba Joseph, Beetle Kings, and Jesus

This little piece from the desert Fathers helpfully illustrates Matthew 5:14-16:

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my Little Office. I fast a little. I pray. I meditate. I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else am I to do?” “What else,” Abba Lot says, “can I do?” Then the old man stood up, stretched his hands towards heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

Jesus, in the passage mentioned, challenges his disciples to be the light of the world. Abba Joseph above tells Abba Lot, “If you will [desire to be a light], you can become all flame.”

But to will the destruction of our most cherished unnatural impulses can be hard.

I want comfort. I want my way. I want my space to myself, my time to myself, my feelings to myself, my whatever.

But Jesus is already the light of the world. So, why not become all flame? Aaron Weiss from mewithoutYou asks that question in his song, “The King Beetle on the Coconut Estate.

Remembering: Part 2

Previously, I mentioned the bizarre timing. 

Two years ago, around the end of October, I ran into a friend at the bookstore. He was bandaged and seemed rather disheveled. He was wearing a hospital bracelet. A few days or weeks later (I can’t remember), his wife called to let me know that he had disappeared. I figured that he was as good as dead. And so for the past two years, I listen to some of the music he wrote in November and I think briefly about our friendship, what I learned, what I could do better in current friendships, and pray for his family, etc. 

Now, his disappearance could have meant anything. He possessed a powerful intellect. His desk in his home was always riddled with strange old electronic devices he would repair: oscilloscopes, out of production media players, decaying monosynths, disassembled miscellany, and disorganized sundries, etc. But he also had great facility with learning languages, very difficult mathematics, music history/theory, and a vast knowledge of philosophy, theology, the occult, and Jungian psychology. He knew chemistry and sometimes did impressive tricks. And he had a knack for surviving in the wild. His never-ending curiosity was unnerving. But certain desires that drive people can becoming so consuming that they destroy rather than enliven, his was for knowledge. As he would say, unchecked desire could dissolve rather than coagulate.

He always reminded me of Andy Kaufman. He loved the eccentric and would happily take a joke too far just because he enjoyed it. In high school, the song “The Great Beyond” would remind me of him as much as of Kaufman. Part of why I became friends with him guy was our similar sense of the absurd. We were in a band called ECP, the Exploding Chaos Parade. With the exception for four or five people whose opinion he really valued, he was immune to group norms. That immunity to the opinions of others is very freeing.

While I was writing the other post, I had this sudden hopeful thought: what if he came back…what a train wreck that would be, but he’d be alive, be there for his kids (in some capacity) and probably have some wild stories. My natural pessimism reminded me that this isn’t a movie. Anyway, his wife called me a week later, to the day, to tell me his remains had been found.

But what was weird about it all was the day I ran into him, prior to his disappearance, we talked about Carl Jung’s book Synchronicity and potential overlap with Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of morphic resonance. Synchronicity is Jung’s term for coincidences which are not causally related, yet are meaningfully connected. That’s what made the timing of the phone call, the text, and the delayed moment of remembrance of my other friend all so bizarre.

Here’s an example of his music: 

 

Here is an absurdist collage he made for reasons he didn’t even know:

I don’t mean to romanticize my friend. He was a broken man. Everybody is haunted by demons, may God give us the strength to face them. 

Eric Johnson’s Proposal for Christian Reading

 

Eric L. Johnson, Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal[1]

Below is a summary of Johnson’s rules for Christian reading. It’s a useful part of his book. Because these are my own words, anything poorly stated is my own fault, not Johnson’s.

  1. The goal of Christian reading, even leisure reading, is conformity to Christ. Therefore what and how we read matter.
  2. The Holy Spirit is the Christian reading light. This metaphor indicates that while reading, the Christian is cooperating with the Holy Spirit in coming to have self-knowledge, knowledge about what is being read, knowledge about the author, knowledge about the world, and knowledge about God.
  3. New Christians should ask wise guides for help in reading, both what to read, and how to understand it.
  4. There is a natural hierarchy in the texts we read:
    1. The canon of Scripture.
    2. Classic texts of the Christian traditions.
    3. Other quality texts (I would add, classical texts of one’s national, ethnic, or intellectual tradition).
    4. Inferior texts that aren’t worth reading.
    5. Bad texts which draw the readers from what is true, good, or beautiful.
    6. Banned texts, some texts are simply justifiably censured and censored.
  5. Non-Canonical texts need to be read with trust and suspicion.
  6. Reading non-Christian texts wisely increases wisdom and is therefore worthwhile.

References

[1] Eric L. Johnson, Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal (InterVarsity Press, 2007), 222-226.