Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Response to Explanation Which Seeks to Justify Pluralism

    "What do people really mean when they say that many religions lead to eternal life? It might mean they don't believe their particular truth at all. Others might be saying, 'We believe a truth but respect other people, and they are not necessarily going to hell.'" ... Nearly across the board, the majority of religious Americans believe many religions can lead to eternal life: mainline Protestants (83 percent), members of historic black Protestant churches (59 percent), Roman Catholics (79 percent), Jews (82 percent) and Muslims (56 percent)...

    "What most people are saying is, 'Hey, we don't have a hammer-lock on God or salvation, and God's bigger than us and we should respect that and respect other people,'" said the Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.


    Quote taken from here.


    The issues is not whether God is "bigger" than us but whether the God who is bigger than us can be "trusted" (/believed) when he both states and shows that there is only one way to heaven... that being through Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer of God's elect.

    One must also distinguish between "respecting other people" and accepting or validating all their beliefs on the basis of "respect".

    Finally, lack of knowledge and failure of some (or many) to embrace God's truth does not change the truth, therefore while some may take great delight in the numbers themselves, it's not the numbers that should be their ultimate concern.

    19 comments:

    jazzycat said...

    This thinking is politically correct post-modern nonsense. Due to this relativistic your OK, I’m OK, feel good, don’t insult anybody gobblygook, Kooksville is growing with alarming speed. They are embarrassed to live in Sanitytown where absolute truth is ever in vogue. It is sad that so many can know so much about so little and be unable to discern truth outside of their daily life experience.

    If only we could have another Mt Carmel moment………

    skeptimal said...

    Swordbearer said: "Lack of knowledge and failure of some (or many) to embrace God's truth does not change the truth, therefore while some may take great delight in the numbers themselves, it's not the numbers that should be their ultimate concern."

    This is very close to something I would agree with. It reads more accurately this way, however:

    "Lack of knowledge does not change the truth, therefore while some may take great delight in the numbers themselves, it's not the numbers that should be their ultimate concern."

    swordbearer said...

    skeptimal,

    a little sharp at wit but slow on providing a basis for truth, aren't you?

    You state "it reads more accurately this way...", but isn't that claim a little audacious for one who has no knowledge (or ability to gain knowledge) of the metaphysical realm?

    skeptimal said...

    Thank you for recognizing that there was humor (friendly humor) intended in my post, though I do agree with you that truth is not relative.

    You said: "...slow on providing a basis for truth, aren't you?"

    I don't generally provide a basis for truth for every comment I make.

    You said: "isn't that claim a little audacious for one who has no knowledge (or ability to gain knowledge) of the metaphysical realm?"

    I'm not sure which way you mean this comment, but either way, "spiritual knowledge" isn't necessary to state that there is only going to be one correct answer to the gods question.

    You and I, of course, disagree on that answer. Assuming that we're not *both* wrong, only one of us could be correct.

    swordbearer said...

    Skeptimal stated: "...'spiritual knowledge' isn't necessary to state that there is only going to be one correct answer to the gods question."

    Response - You're right (... that is) when it comes to knowing the "number of right answers"; but it's a different story however to speak authoritatively on "which" is the right answer (i.e., your statement "It reads more accurately this way...")

    skeptimal said...

    I did essentially say that your version is less correct. It still doesn't require supernatural knowledge to recognize that, though.

    Just out of curiosity...Do you really think that pluralism requires belief in the "many ways to salvation" doctrine? Some of us consider pluralism essential to a healthy society even though we believe the majority of the country is wrong in their beliefs.

    swordbearer said...

    skeptimal stated: "I did essentially say that your version is less correct. It still doesn't require supernatural knowledge to recognize that, though."

    Response: On what basis (grounds) do you make this argument.

    skeptimal stated: Just out of curiosity...Do you really think that pluralism requires belief in the "many ways to salvation" doctrine? Some of us consider pluralism essential to a healthy society even though we believe the majority of the country is wrong in their beliefs.

    Response: While freedom of conscience and belief is healthy, the false beliefs associated with pluralism depart from truth and are not healthy for society. One must not confuse rights with approval or praise of false teaching/beliefs.

    skeptimal said...

    Swordbearer said: "While freedom of conscience and belief is healthy, the false beliefs associated with pluralism depart from truth and are not healthy for society."

    I don't agree that there are beliefs necessarily associated with pluralism (other than the belief that it's better to live together peacefully than to insist everyone believe as we do). Pluralism does not require a belief in relativistic truth.

    "One must not confuse rights with approval or praise of false teaching/beliefs."

    I agree. Religious beliefs (magical thinking) are destructive, but people should be free to pursue them any way. You and I are never likely to approve of each other's beliefs, but we could respect each other's rights and dignity despite those differences.

    "On what basis (grounds) do you make this argument."

    Restating the argument for clarity, I would say that it does not take supernatural knowledge to know that Christianity is not based on the truth, at least as practiced by evangelicals. Mainly I say this because every argument *for* Biblically inerrant, virgin-birth, raised-from-the-dead Christianity requires a pre-existing belief in Christianity. While you can not prove Jesus is not god, some of the "evidence" of his godhood is disprovable, and the rest is unconvincing. With all of the the strenuous logic-twisting required for evangelical Christian belief, one might as easily believe in Scientology.

    swordbearer said...

    skeptimal stated: "Restating the argument for clarity, I would say that it does not take supernatural knowledge to know that Christianity is not based on the truth, at least as practiced by evangelicals. Mainly I say this because every argument *for* Biblically inerrant, virgin-birth, raised-from-the-dead Christianity requires a pre-existing belief in Christianity..."

    Response: As if opposition to these does not involve "pre-existing belief"?

    skeptimal stated: "...While you can not prove Jesus is not god, some of the "evidence" of his godhood is disprovable, and the rest is unconvincing..."

    Response: What evidence are you referring to?

    skeptimal stated: "...With all of the the strenuous logic-twisting required for evangelical Christian belief, one might as easily believe in Scientology."

    Response: What logic twisting? Give specifics.

    skeptimal said...

    ...every argument *for* Biblically inerrant, virgin-birth, raised-from-the-dead Christianity requires a pre-existing belief in Christianity..."

    "Response: As if opposition to these does not involve "pre-existing belief"?"

    No, it doesn't, and if you think about it, you'll realize I'm right. People don't start life with the assumption that in ancient times a man was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, was raised from the dead, and should be worshipped as a result. Christianity is not the "default belief" which people must disprove if they are to believe anything else.

    skeptimal said...

    "...While you can not prove Jesus is not god, some of the "evidence" of his godhood is disprovable, and the rest is unconvincing..."

    Response: What evidence are you referring to?

    Most evidence for Christianity seems to fall into three categories: scriptures, anecdotal salvation "witnessing", and tradition.

    skeptimal stated: "...With all of the the strenuous logic-twisting required for evangelical Christian belief, one might as easily believe in Scientology."

    Response: What logic twisting? Give specifics.

    Belief in the inerrancy Bible, willing suspension of disbelief regarding personal witnesses, and adherence to traditional beliefs in light of tradition's dismal history for accuracy. All of these require magical thinking, logical twisting, or doublethink.

    For example, the foundation of evangelical Christianity is the idea that Jesus was the perfect son of Jehovah, and that he could therefore, in the infinity of his goodness, pay through his death for the sin debts of an infinite number of human beings. This belief primarily hinges on the inerrancy of the Bible. The Bible, however, disagrees with itself factually on the stories of both Jesus' birth and his resurrection: the two most important stories regarding his godhood. It is not possible to "harmonize" the gospel accounts without throwing out facts from one version of the story or another.

    It isn't even possible to get through the first two chapters of the torah, however, before finding factual self-contradictions between the two creation stories.

    Don't get me wrong. I love the Bible...it's a fascinating document. It just isn't inerrant.

    swordbearer said...

    skeptimal said: "Christianity is not the "default belief" which people must disprove if they are to believe anything else."

    Response:
    1. You have acknowledged as pre-existing belief => "default belief"

    2. Can you prove the "default belief" is correct? Without disproving the creation-fall position (or without proving "default belief" rests upon truth) you cannot prove "Christianity does not rest upon truth".

    3. Besides all this, I'd love to see you define this "default belief". Be sure to define the grounds for this belief.

    swordbearer said...

    1. After stating "...some of the "evidence" of his [Jesus'] godhood is disprovable, and the rest is unconvincing..." and asked to give the evidence, skeptimal stated: "Most evidence for Christianity seems to fall into three categories: scriptures, anecdotal salvation "witnessing", and tradition."

    Response: What's your point?

    2. skeptimal gave the following as evidence for "strenuous logic-twisting" required for evangelical Christian belief: "Belief in the inerrancy Bible, willing suspension of disbelief regarding personal witnesses, and adherence to traditional beliefs in light of tradition's dismal history for accuracy. All of these require magical thinking, logical twisting, or doublethink.

    Response:
    a. Inerrancy of the Bible - It does not require logic twisting to believe that God (creator, sovereign, lord of providence, able to govern all things in heaven and on earth such they they serve his purpose, etc.) is able to use human instruments (including their circumstances, freedoms, experiences, etc.) under the governance and administration of his Holy Spirit to have the Word prepared and preserved as he desires. Experience shows that most people who oppose the doctrine of inerrancy err in their exegesis.
    b. Question of Jesus' atonement and redemption; of the reliability of Scripture regarding Jesus' birth and resurrection narratives, and of the harmony of the gospels.

    Response:
    a. It is reasonable that God (who is both the judge and the offended one) is able to determine the requirement for reconciliation and redemption. This he has done - See Hebrews 10).
    b. What errors do you refer to in the the narratives and between the gospels? (Are you taking into account ALL the sound principles of exegesis including it's spiritual, historical, gramatical, cultural, linguistical, etc., principles including genre and writer's perspective?)

    3. skeptimal stated: "Don't get me wrong. I love the Bible...it's a fascinating document. It just isn't inerrant."

    Response: That's like loving the principles of finance, but not accepting them, seeing their real value, and making use of them.

    skeptimal said...

    to believe anything else."

    Response:
    1. You have acknowledged as pre-existing belief => "default belief"

    I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here. It doesn’t seem to be a response to anything I’m saying, and I can’t make sense of what it is you think I’ve acknowledged. I haven’t said there *was* a default belief. I just said that it doesn’t take a pre-existing belief to question the tenets of Christianity. It *does* however, require pre-existing belief in Christianity to accept the “evidence” put forward for that faith.

    Skeptimal said: "Most evidence for Christianity seems to fall into three categories: scriptures, anecdotal salvation "witnessing", and tradition."

    Response: What's your point?
    I have no point other than to answer the question you asked. This was a summary of what I have observed to be the bulk of the “evidence” put forward for Christianity.

    skeptimal said...

    You said: “It does not require logic twisting to believe that God … is able to use human instruments to have the Word prepared and preserved as he desires. “

    It does when you ignore evidence that the “inerrant” Bible has serious factual self-contradictions.

    You said: “Experience shows that most people who oppose the doctrine of inerrancy err in their exegesis.”

    OK, now that I’ve looked up “exegesis”… I understand you to be saying that if someone says there is a contradiction in the Bible, he doesn’t understand what the Bible is actually trying to say.

    That’s why I only brought up the factual self-contradictions, because they can’t be explained away through convoluted appeals to obscure doctrines. For instance, there is one complete order of chronological creations in Genesis 1, and then a completely different chronological order in Genesis 2.

    I said: "Don't get me wrong. I love the Bible...it's a fascinating document. It just isn't inerrant."

    Response: That's like loving the principles of finance, but not accepting them, seeing their real value, and making use of them.

    No, it isn’t like that at all. The Bible is still a fascinating exploration of early thinking about the universe. The principles of finance are just dull.

    swordbearer said...

    skeptimal stated: "...That’s why I only brought up the factual self-contradictions, because they can’t be explained away through convoluted appeals to obscure doctrines. For instance, there is one complete order of chronological creations in Genesis 1, and then a completely different chronological order in Genesis 2."

    Response: I'm willing to discuss this matter with you. To begin the discussion, answer the following questions/requests:

    1. State the "specific" differences you refer to.

    2. Are you suggesting there is no way to harmonize Genesis 1 & 2?

    3. Are you suggesting the author purposes for Genesis 2 to simply be a restatement of Genesis 1 (i.e., another chronological origin account)?

    skeptimal said...

    You said: 1. State the "specific" differences you refer to.

    In Genesis 1, man and woman are created last, on the sixth day, after plants and animals. In Genesis 2, beginning in verse 4, a new order of creation begins with man, then. Gen 2 Verse 5-7 specifically states that no shub or field had yet been created before god created man. It was important to the author that man was created when the earth was bare, because man was created from the dust of the ground.

    In Genesis 1, man is created AFTER the animals. In Genesis 2: god creates the animals after man has been created, then he brings the animals by so that man can name them.

    In Genesis 1, man and woman are created together on the seventh day, after the plants and animals had been created. In Genesis 2, man is created, then plants and animals, then woman.

    The attitude of the gods in Gen 1 and 2 are different, too. The first Genesis god is pleased with everything as he creates it. The Genesis 2 god creates man, then tries to find somebody to be a helpmate to him. He goes through all the animals and isn’t pleased with what he’s done. Then he gives up and clones Eve from Adam’s rib.

    You said: 2. Are you suggesting there is no way to harmonize Genesis 1 & 2?

    Yep.

    You said: 3. Are you suggesting the author purposes for Genesis 2 to simply be a restatement of Genesis 1 (i.e., another chronological origin account)?

    No. I’m saying that there was more than one author. I’m saying that the old testament is stitched together out of oral traditions that disagree with each other.

    You said: “I'm willing to discuss this matter with you.”

    Gee, thanks.

    skeptimal said...

    You said: 1. State the "specific" differences you refer to.

    In Genesis 1, man and woman are created last, on the sixth day, after plants and animals. In Genesis 2, beginning in verse 4, a new order of creation begins with man, then. Gen 2 Verse 5-7 specifically states that no shub or field had yet been created before god created man. It was important to the author that man was created when the earth was bare, because man was created from the dust of the ground.

    In Genesis 1, man is created AFTER the animals. In Genesis 2: god creates the animals after man has been created, then he brings the animals by so that man can name them.

    In Genesis 1, man and woman are created together on the seventh day, after the plants and animals had been created. In Genesis 2, man is created, then plants and animals, then woman.

    The attitude of the gods in Gen 1 and 2 are different, too. The first Genesis god is pleased with everything as he creates it. The Genesis 2 god creates man, then tries to find somebody to be a helpmate to him. He goes through all the animals and isn’t pleased with what he’s done. Then he gives up and clones Eve from Adam’s rib.

    You said: 2. Are you suggesting there is no way to harmonize Genesis 1 & 2?

    Yep.

    You said: 3. Are you suggesting the author purposes for Genesis 2 to simply be a restatement of Genesis 1 (i.e., another chronological origin account)?

    No. I’m saying that there was more than one author. I’m saying that the old testament is stitched together out of oral traditions that disagree with each other.

    You said: “I'm willing to discuss this matter with you.”

    Gee, thanks.

    skeptimal said...

    You said: 1. State the "specific" differences you refer to.

    In Genesis 1, man and woman are created last, on the sixth day, after plants and animals. In Genesis 2, beginning in verse 4, a new order of creation begins with man, then. Gen 2 Verse 5-7 specifically states that no shub or field had yet been created before god created man. It was important to the author that man was created when the earth was bare, because man was created from the dust of the ground.

    In Genesis 1, man is created AFTER the animals. In Genesis 2: god creates the animals after man has been created, then he brings the animals by so that man can name them.

    In Genesis 1, man and woman are created together on the seventh day, after the plants and animals had been created. In Genesis 2, man is created, then plants and animals, then woman.

    The attitude of the gods in Gen 1 and 2 are different, too. The first Genesis god is pleased with everything as he creates it. The Genesis 2 god creates man, then tries to find somebody to be a helpmate to him. He goes through all the animals and isn’t pleased with what he’s done. Then he gives up and clones Eve from Adam’s rib.

    You said: 2. Are you suggesting there is no way to harmonize Genesis 1 & 2?

    Yep.

    You said: 3. Are you suggesting the author purposes for Genesis 2 to simply be a restatement of Genesis 1 (i.e., another chronological origin account)?

    No. I’m saying that there was more than one author. I’m saying that the old testament is stitched together out of oral traditions that disagree with each other.

    You said: “I'm willing to discuss this matter with you.”

    Gee, thanks.