Tom Gilson

Somebody Here is Very Spiritually Naive

One of the characters in this video is displaying some serious spiritual naivete, a dangerous disconnection from reality. My question for you is, which one, and why?

(The clip is 2 minutes, 38 seconds long. Use this alternate link if the video fails to display properly–it hasn’t always been behaving today. I have another question specifically for followers of Christ to discuss at my Strategic Christian blog.)

Hat tip to Joe Carter

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18 thoughts on “Somebody Here is Very Spiritually Naive

  1. This clip made me laugh in shock and gratitude for such a coherent description of what a person without salvation in Jesus Christ is facing. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be prepared to address many topics (dramatized in this scene from ER). We must be willing and able to address and disprove relativism in all its forms, especially religious. We must be willing to boldly proclaim not only the reality of Jesus’ work on the Cross but the unpleasant reality of Hell. If there is no consequence for sin, then why did He suffer and die. Finally, we must be willing to defend the idea that sin is everyone’s problem, and that God, through his Son Jesus has offered a means of atonement that can save anyone.

  2. Wow! What a very powerful scene – and great acting by the man…so passionate and convincing. The woman’s message is all messed up and I’m glad the man asked hard questions and demanded absolute answers. Religious pluralism and its close cousin, moral relativism, really do (to quote the man) make things worse.

    Is the woman supposed to be a Christian? I’ve never watched the show.

    The “Lipstick Jungle” bug on the bottom left is a nice touch.

  3. Ken Mann says: This clip made me laugh in shock and gratitude for such a coherent description of what a person without salvation in Jesus Christ is facing. As followers of Jesus Christ…

    You laugh at someone facing eternal damnation and then have the gall to call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ?

    Finally, we must be willing to defend the idea that sin is everyone’s problem, and that God, through his Son Jesus has offered a means of atonement that can save anyone.

    Ok… Let’s hear your defense. Why should I believe one iota of what you just said?

  4. The woman’s message is all messed up and I’m glad the man asked hard questions and demanded absolute answers

    She didn’t give “absolute” answers because she didn’t have any. None of us do (at least, not when it comes to the deep, metaphysical questions). Should she have feigned certainty (a trick known euphemistically as “faith”)? Why do you Christians so often recoil from epistemic humility? Sometimes the only honest answer one can give is “I don’t know.” Stamping your feet and unleashing a tirade of naked assertions doesn’t change that fact, nor does the strength of your conviction.

  5. Jordan says:

    You laugh at someone facing eternal damnation and then have the gall to call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ?

    Jordan, to say you misunderstood my comments would be as great an understatement as your offense. My reaction was the joy of such a profound moment being portrayed on a TV show. At my own blog I go into more detail I rejoice at the idea that, in a medium such as television, where people typically try to escape reality, that the reality of their own death and their need for forgiveness might be forced into their thinking.
    I am somewhat new to comment forums. Your reaction is a caution for me to choose my words more carefully in the future.

  6. Jordan,

    Sometimes the only honest answer one can give is “I don’t know.”

    I agree. So why do you think she didn’t do that? Why do you think she said the truth about atonement and God is whatever you interpret it to be?

    We may not know the truth about atonement and God, but the one thing we do know is differing opinions aren’t equally valid – hence ‘whatever you interpret it to be’ is a terrible answer.

    She confirmed it was a terrible answer (or a naive answer) when she objected to his interpretation.

  7. One of the Youtube titles refers to this snippet as “ER discovers the flaw of postmodernism”. How true. I think the man demanded, “I want to know a real God who deals with real forgiveness and a real Hell”. The obvious response was to point him to real repentance. For some reason the naive chaplain did not consider that.

  8. What bothers me about the chaplain is that she handed out patronizing pablum to a dying man when she should have said “I don’t know” and left.

    The chaplain’s comments all turned the focus away from the man’s real concerns and inward to the man’s feelings.

    The man wasn’t concerned about his feelings. He had feelings because he had real concerns.

    In a subtle way the chaplain was discounting the man’s concerns and saying “All that matters is your feelings”.

  9. Here’s another clip that explains why the chaplain said what she said. Start about the 3:15 mark.

    Clearly she sets up (and falls for) the epistemic false dilemma between knowing with absolute certainty and anything goes.

  10. Ken Mann says: Jordan, to say you misunderstood my comments would be as great an understatement as your offense.

    In that case, I apologize. I suppose I jumped the gun a bit there…

    SteveK says:

    I said: Sometimes the only honest answer one can give is “I don’t know.”

    I agree. So why do you think she didn’t do that?

    That’s a good point, but one has to wonder what her religious views would’ve looked like had she not been trying to comfort a dying patient. I think we all tend to wax postmodern when we’re trying to help someone who’s up against the wall (not that that’s necessarily a good thing). It’s the intellectual equivalent of telling a child who just lost a hockey game that one day he’ll play in the NHL.

    P.S. Not to go too far off topic, but wasn’t that Michelle from 24?

  11. What strikes me in something like this and so many debates in our society is that “What is true is no longer allowed to be said.” At the same time “what is required to be said is known to be false.” As a Chaplain in a secular institution she was probably required to do reflective listening and not say anything about real faiths or beliefs. Maybe the best thing she could do is find him a real Christian minister to answer his questions.

  12. It’s the intellectual equivalent of telling a child who just lost a hockey game that one day he’ll play in the NHL.

    But he’s not a child, he’s a man, he knew he was being patronized in the sense you echoed in your analogy, and that was the absolute last thing he wanted. I actually think this (i.e., the way she chose to “comfort a dying patient”), rather than masking her religious views, in fact reveals a lot about them.

    P.S. Not to go too far off topic, but wasn’t that Michelle from 24?

    Right you are. Doesn’t look too bad for having been blown up, eh? 🙂

  13. Tom,

    I know you’ve gone the route of examining exclusivity in light of this clip in your more recent post above, but another avenue of investigation occured to me – this would be a great springboard to discuss knowledge. Was the man simply (though strongly) emoting, giving a vivid depiction of his inner feelings, or did he actually have real knowledge on an ontological level of sin, justice, damnation, and his need for forgiveness? Can we have real knowlegde of moral culpability toward God, and is this man an example of that?

  14. Hi Aaron,

    Was the man simply (though strongly) emoting, giving a vivid depiction of his inner feelings, or did he actually have real knowledge on an ontological level of sin, justice, damnation, and his need for forgiveness? Can we have real knowlegde of moral culpability toward God, and is this man an example of that?

    We’ve discussed this many times here – knowledge and epistemology. It’s a favorite topic of mine even though I pretty much stink at it compared to most others.

    Maybe I’m wrong but aren’t you setting up a false dilemma of sorts (I might have the wrong term) between knowledge of inner feelings and knowledge of sin, justice, etc? While emotions can be untrustworthy at times, I wouldn’t say they never reflect reality. Emotions linked to death may *actually* come as a direct result of knowing sin, justice, etc.

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