Gerson and Mohler on Hume

Two more items on Brit Hume appeared since yesterday and are worthy of note. First, Albert Mohler has devoted an entire episode of his radio program to this topic. Perhaps the most helpful part of the conversation is Mohler’s careful explanation of what Buddhism is. It’s not a theistic religion, but a philosophy. Thus, Brit Hume was correct to say that Buddhism does not offer redemption and forgiveness as Christianity does. You can listen to the program here or press the play button below.

[audio:http://www.sbts.edu/media/audio/totl/2010/AMP_01_07_2010.mp3]

Second, Michael Gerson’s column in this morning’s Washington Post is really good (HT: Justin Taylor). He rightly concludes that Hume’s critics have shown themselves to be the intolerant ones.

‘True tolerance consists in engaging deep disagreements respectfully — through persuasion — not in banning certain categories of argument and belief from public debate.

‘In this controversy, we are presented with two models of discourse. Hume, in an angry sea of loss and tragedy — his son’s death in 1998 — found a life preserver in faith. He offered that life preserver to another drowning man. Whatever your view of Hume’s beliefs, he could have no motive other than concern for Woods himself.

‘The other model has come from critics such as Shales, in a spittle-flinging rage at the mention of religion in public, comparing Hume to “Mary Poppins on the joys of a tidy room, or Ron Popeil on the glories of some amazing potato peeler.” Shales, of course, is engaged in proselytism of his own — for a secular fundamentalism that trivializes and banishes all other faiths. He distributes the sacrament of the sneer.

‘Who in this picture is more intolerant?’

12 Responses to Gerson and Mohler on Hume

  1. Polarbear January 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    This Gerson article is fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing it. I love that term “secular fundamentalism”.

  2. Michael Gerson January 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Denny, thanks so much for your mention today. I got a lot of good reaction on this one.

  3. Denny Burk January 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Mr. Gerson,

    I’m a big fan of your column, and thanks so much for the article. It is right on the money. Thanks for stopping-by to comment.

    Denny Burk

  4. David Vinzant January 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    If Hume’s motive was really to help Woods, he would have offered him his counsel in private, not as an op-ed on national television.

  5. David Vinzant January 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    And if someone wanted an honest, clear explanation of Buddhism, I think Mohler would be the last person on my list to recommend.

  6. Ken January 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Why is that? Is Dr. Mohler incapable of providing an honest, clear explanation of Buddhism? Whenever I’ve heard him speak he always seems honest and clear.

  7. David Vinzant January 11, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Because Mohler is a paid representative of a competing faith that claims to be the one and only true religion. Would you look to the Dalai Lama to get an honest explanation of what Southern Baptists believe? Actually, that might work as the Dalai Lama is less of an exclusivist than Mohler.

  8. D.J. Williams January 11, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    David,

    Could you actually point out something specific Mohler said about Buddhism that was off-base?

  9. David Vinzant January 11, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    D.J.,

    I don’t have the time, interest, or expertise to engage in a detailed discussion on Buddhism. I will admit that I did not listen to Mohler’s entire radio show linked above. If you have (or know of) a transcript of the show with the relevant text about Buddhism, I will be glad to read it. My point was that Mohler is not the person I would turn to for a “careful explanation of what Buddhism is.” I somehow doubt that Mohler has a vast knowledge of Buddhism and, regardless of his knowledge, he clearly has a bias in favor of his own religion.

    In a NY Times op-ed yesterday, Ross Douthat pointed out that the voices of actual Buddhists had been drowned out in the debate. He provided some helpful links:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/brit-hume-right-to-discuss-freely-wrong-on-buddhism/

    http://ricksanchez.blogs.cnn.com/2010/01/06/buddhism-tiger-woods-an-explainer/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/07/AR2010010700899.html

  10. D.J. Williams January 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    David,

    So, you’ve effectively written-off Mohler’s work as poor and irrelevant, yet you have no actual factual basis for doing so, just a suspicion that it can’t be very good because of a few things you know about Mohler? That sounds an awful lot like, well…bias.

    Even I’ve spent enough time studying Buddhism to say exactly what Mohler does (and what your first link even admits) – there is no concept of divine forgiveness and redemption in Buddhism. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to understand and explain that.

  11. David Vinzant January 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Yep, I’m biased. So is Mohler and so are you. In fact, we all are to one degree or another. The point is that if I want “a careful explanation of what Buddhism is,” I’d rather get it from a Buddhist, or at least someone who doesn’t believe Buddhists are going to hell. By the same token, I would recommend Mohler if someone wanted a “careful explanation” of what Southern Baptists (or his wing of Southern Baptists) believe.

  12. D.J. Williams January 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    David Vinzant wrote,]
    “Yep, I’m biased. So is Mohler and so are you. In fact, we all are to one degree or another.”

    Exactly. Everybody’s biased, including that Buddhist you want to ask, who’s just as likely to color his description of his own faith to make it look more favorable as Mohler is to color his description to make it look unfavorable. So, let’s evaluate people’s writing based on whether or not it’s accurate, not whether we think it will be.

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