If you are like me, you have encountered countless individuals who “argue” for their point-of-view based on some experience, rather than providing good reasons. These people just know that they know that they know what they believe is right because of some experience that brought them psychological confidence that they are right. While this approach to the issue of truth is endemic in Pentecostal circles, it is not limited to us by any means. Mormons, Baptists, Hindus, Muslims, and just about every other religion today claims to have had an experience, and argue that their experience justifies the validity of their truth-claims. When two people claim to have had an experience, and both use that experience to give validity to their opposing truth-claims, either one or the other is right, or both are wrong.
September 30, 2009
September 30, 2009
I have noticed over the years that the only Christians who tend to oppose theological training, the importance of learning Greek/Hebrew, or studying philosophy/apologetics are those who have not had formal theological training, have not studied Greek/Hebrew, and have not studied philosophy/apologetics. I have never met someone who has theological training, learned Greek/Hebrew, or studied philosophy/apologetics who will tell you that such training is not helpful and important for the advancement of Christianity. I find this quite interesting. How can one evaluate the worth of endeavors for which they have not participated in? Could the devaluing of these fields be little more than justification for one’s own ignorance? Hmm.
September 29, 2009
“Never argue against a viewpoint until you understand it well enough to argue for it.”—Anonymous
I think we could all learn from this one!
September 27, 2009
This post has been updated to include additional content on 10/2
Some Christians believe that while the Bible is without error when it speaks to spiritual matters (God, salvation), there may be errors in those sections that speak to scientific and historical matters, which should not concern us. This view of Biblical inspiration is often called limited inerrancy.
While it would be worthwhile to examine each of the purported scientific and historical errors in the Bible to determine if they are indeed errors, the notion of limited inerrancy can be evaluated in a more fundamental way. Greg Koukl has observed that it makes little sense to believe what the Bible says in matters we cannot test (such as miracles, resurrection, incarnation), when the Bible is shown to be untrustworthy in those matters we can test. That’s not to say the presence of errors would necessarily invalidate every truth claim the Bible makes, but it is to say that it would make it much more difficult to trust its spiritual claims. If God was not able to ensure that the Biblical authors accurately transmitted matters of history and science—which were naturally more accessible to them—why think He was able to ensure that they accurately transmitted spiritual matters? I see little reason to do so.
(The following content has been added as of 10/2)
It’s a credibility issue. Credibility is earned. It is gained by being right, and lost by being wrong. Limited inerrantists are telling us that we should trust everything the Biblical authors tell us about spiritual matters, but we cannot trust everything they tell us about non-spiritual matters because they have proven themselves to be mistaken in various ways on such matters. But if they have proven themselves to make mistakes in areas that we can test them on, why should we think they haven’t made any errors on matters that we can’t test them on? The limited inerrantist can’t respond by saying God’s involvement ensures that they will not err on such matters, because God is involved in the whole process. If He couldn’t keep the authors from erring on non-spiritual matters, there is no reason to think He could keep them from erring in spiritual matters.
A limited inerrantist might respond that God was only involved in those sections of Scripture dealing with spiritual matters. But this portrays an absurd picture of inspiration. Scripture goes back and forth between non-spiritual and spiritual claims. Surely God’s involvement was not iterant so that when the author writes a word about geography God checks out, but when he is about to write a few words on spiritual truth God checks back in! Even if this were possible, what reason would God have for deciding to inspire only those words dealing with spiritual matters? He knew that people would question the credibility of the religious claims if His authors flubbed up their facts on non-spiritual matters. So why wouldn’t God, in the interest of giving more credibility to the spiritual claims, superintend what His authors wrote about all matters?
September 22, 2009
Speaking of James Anderson, there is another James Anderson you should check out: the James Anderson of Evidential Faith. And while I’m plugging my friend’s blog, I should also direct your attention to another one of my friend’s blogs: Chad Moore’s Bookesmore.
HT: Justin Taylor
September 21, 2009
It has been popular for 100 years for liberal scholars to claim there was no Christian orthodoxy from the beginning of the church. Rather, they claim, there existed a bunch of disparate community-based theological movements loosely centered on a historical—but mythologized Jesus—each vying with the other to become the orthodox version of the Christian religion.
According to these theorists, the Jesus tradition spread rapidly to different geographical regions. Each local community would re-tell the Jesus story, but the re-telling of the tradition was wild and uncontrolled, so that the Jesus of history quickly became swallowed up by the various and competing Jesuses constructed by each community. With no way of knowing (and perhaps little concern for) which version of Jesus was accurate—if any—the battle for orthodoxy in the first 300 years of the church became more of a political battle than a theological and historical quest. Recent and popular proponents of this view include Bart Ehrman, Marvin Meyer, and Elaine Pagels.
In the way of critique, this thesis has an extremely weak historical and logical foundation. It is based largely on the (more…)
September 21, 2009
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Christianity is unique in that its veracity depends on the reality of particular historical events. Christianity is not a philosophical religion. Christian faith is not faith for the sake of faith, but a particular understanding about the significance of particular historical events—events that were either supernatural in character, or pregnant with supernatural significance. If these purported historical events are actually fictional or mythical in nature, the very foundation of Christianity crumbles.
While our faith depends on the veracity of particular historical events through which God revealed Himself and His purposes, there is no question that we believe much more than can be demonstrated historically. Historical and archaeological investigation can only verify and bolster some of the Bible’s historical claims. While it can cover a lot of ground, the remaining gaps still must be transposed by faith. That faith is not a blind and absurd leap as Kierkegaard suggested, but a reasoned judgment in reality based on the evidence available to us.