Christian Absurdity #4,387

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 10, 2009 in Christian Theology,Video

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Haukur August 11, 2009 at 5:28 am

I’d be interested in knowing how you made sense of this all, Luke, when you were a Christian.

  (Quote)

lukeprog August 11, 2009 at 5:45 am

Haukur,

It was all “the mystery of God.” I tried not to think about it too much. :)

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 11, 2009 at 7:27 am

Our logic is not God’s logic.

  (Quote)

mikespeir August 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

But, alas, we’re stuck with our own logic.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 11, 2009 at 11:21 am

No, through prayer, reading the Bible and forgetting everything you’ve learned about human logic, you can begin to access God’s logic. Just remember 3=1, eternal torture=great expression of love,  Dad=Son, and π=3.
 
Don’t ask me no questions and I won’t tell you you’re going to Hell.

  (Quote)

mikespeir August 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm

It’s all so clear now, Lorkas.  Thank you.  What was our little gray guy complaining about?

  (Quote)

cartesian August 12, 2009 at 7:06 am

(1) God (i.e. Jesus) sends people to hell for not worshiping him.
(2) Jesus is his own father.
 
Neither of these is a Christian doctrine. I think that should clear things up for this gray guy.
 
About (1), in Matthew 25 Jesus describes the basis on which he’ll separate “the sheep” from “the goats”: what they’ve done.
 
About (2), the claim is that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct people, all of whom are God. Yet there are not three gods but just one God. For an explanation of how this is not a logical contradiction, see this article:
http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~bergmann/godhead.htm

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 8:52 am

cartesian,
Just because it isn’t your doctrine doesn’t mean it isn’t a doctrine held by some Christians. Perhaps you think it is a bad doctrine, but it is a Christian doctrine.

  (Quote)

Democritus August 12, 2009 at 10:56 am

About (1), in Matthew 25 Jesus describes the basis on which he’ll separate “the sheep” from “the goats”: what they’ve done.

So, Paul must disagree with him, since he says that “therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”.  James, on the other hand, seems to agree with Jesus, because he says “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. ” Of course, Jesus seems to agree with Paul and disagree with James, in that “this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. ”
Wait… does that mean that Jesus disagrees with himself? ;-)

  (Quote)

MacGuy August 12, 2009 at 11:07 am

What is with this distinction between YOUR doctrine and the doctrine held by Christians? Seriously, stop the crap because that reply does not work. You’re trivializing the Christian belief system into something entirely relative and based upon what the individual THINKS, rather than whether it is actually biblically supported. I don’t care about what others THINK unless it has some actual support. There’s a reason why the Nicene Creed and others like it came about – it was to prevent FALSE doctrine from getting into the church.
You can be a Christian, and still err on some aspects of theology. Simply because a Christian holds to a certain belief does not MEAN it is a “christian doctrine” – it may be the doctrine of a certain christian but you should not claim it is a a universally correct doctrine by adding “christian” in front of it. If you’re going to respond to cartesian then explain where he went wrong in his theology. That is the best and most effective form of refutation.

  (Quote)

drj August 12, 2009 at 11:33 am

How does one determine who has the “correct” doctrine when there isnt even agreement upon the proper version of the source material, or the methods of interpretation to use etc, etc?    Or how to deal with its vagueness, ambiguity and apparent contradictions.  Literal or metaphor, etc etc.   The reasoning used by different sects is largely a matter of opinion, for which there is no clear winner.
 
Many Christians surely DO believe that people are sent to Hell simply for not believing the right way.  Many Christians believe all living human beings – from conception onward – go straight to hell if they die without a baptism.
 
If the objections in the video don’t apply to your version of Christianity, then ok… great.  But they apply to a great many’s version of Christianity, and there really arent solid means with which to determine which is the “true” version… except to simply assert it.

  (Quote)

MacGuy August 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Throwing questions without ANY intention of actually investigating the matter is a form of rhetoric and laziness. Honestly, I have no intention of going through the fundamental aspects of historical interpretation. But to be intentionally vague and general, the same methods that historians use to interpret a certain historical text or the tools we use to interpret modern-day literature is also used to interpret the Scriptures. You even assume beforehand that there are no solid means in which to determine a “true” interpretation. I’m sure historians would be delighted to know that characters such as Julius Ceaser was just a metaphor for some awesome salad! I mean… there isn’t a solid means to determine otherwise.
 
Seriously, I could care less about what people think. What i do have a problem with is when people use terms such as “christian doctrine” to describe what Christian is (without biblical support might I add). Worse, when someone attempts to provide an accurate picture of what Christianity is through biblical argument, you simply ignore them by saying “well that’s just your cute interpretation”. Christianity looses ALL meaning if we reduce it to this nonsense. Heck, one might as well think that Christianity is about God trying to save the trees by dying on the cross for them. Boy would the environmentalists be happy! What a loving God huh?
 
Bottom line is this: If Christianity is relative, then being a “christian” is simply what you make it out to be. There is no meaning to it at all.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm

 

MacGuy: You’re trivializing the Christian belief system into something entirely relative and based upon what the individual THINKS, rather than whether it is actually biblically supported.

Er… no. I’m pointing out that there are a lot of doctrines held by different Christian denominations. And, turns out, the Bible is so vague that what a person puts forward as being “biblically supported” is based largely on what they THINK.
 
I don’t know what I did to make you respond so harshly, but I assure you that all I’m pointing out is that Christians differ in their beliefs, and he needs to be more specific if he wants to claim that the two doctrines in question are not “Christian”, which I argued against by pointing out that they are doctrines held by certain Christian sects. In other words they are Christian doctrines.
 
Which of the following do you think are Christian doctrines:
1) God chose who would go to heaven and who would go to hell before time began.
2) God foreknew, but did not foreordain, who would go to heaven and who would go to hell before time began.
 
Those are contradictory, but they are both Christian doctrines, held by different sects. I was merely pointing out that, what cartesian said was not a Christian doctrine actually is such, but it just isn’t a doctrine to which he subscribes.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm

MacGuy: Bottom line is this: If Christianity is relative, then being a “christian” is simply what you make it out to be. There is no meaning to it at all.

I’ve got bad news for you: being a “christian” is largely what you make it out to be. Why the hell do you think that there are so many different opinions about the things that are said in the Bible? If you think that variations within Christianity make it philosophically bankrupt, then you’re in for a rude awakening if you ever actually study the history and diversity of Christian doctrine.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm

To be clear, I don’t particularly think that the diversity of belief in Christianity proves it false or makes it meaningless–I’m just pointing out to you that it’s a rather naive view to take, given the easily-observed diversity of belief in Christianity.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm

MacGuy: I’m sure historians would be delighted to know that characters such as Julius Ceaser was just a metaphor for some awesome salad!

You have your history wrong about why it’s called caesar salad. It has nothing to do with ole JC–the chef who invented it was named Caesar Cardini.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm

cartesian, if you feel that I was demeaning your post in any way by implying that it was just your “cute interpretation”, as MacGuy says, I assure you that wasn’t my intention, which I explained above (although I’m sure that you understood it in the first place–I only explained it for MacGuy’s sake, since he apparently didn’t understand what I was saying).

  (Quote)

MacGuy August 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Lorkas,
Of a preliminary note, I am being “harsh” not in a insulting way but in a satirical and sarcastic way. I’ve come across many claims like the ones you have made, and while I have nothing against you personally, I am honestly baffled and annoyed at this claim. Furthermore, I was simply being sarcastic when I said it’s just your “cute interpretation” but that is essentially what it is reduced to! You might not intend to put it that way which is cool since you’re doing this out of respect and I respect that but it ultimately IS treated in such a way; similar to how morality can be treated like your taste of ice cream.
 
The problem is, I don’t think cartesian agrees that the Biblical interpretation is relative. Those with high respect for doctrine (such as myself) are rather irritated at the responses that treat it like one’s cute interpretation or taste of ice cream. Here he is trying to present an accurate representation of Biblical teaching and it’s just brushed off with minimal ease! Of course I realize the diversity of doctrines but HOW many of them are actually supported? I would say that the majority of them are based on feelings, caricatures, or taken from other friends who are ignorant on the Bible. We do live in a culture in which religion is treated as a “personal” thing so this should come as no surprise.
 

Lorkas: I’ve got bad news for you: being a “christian” is largely what you make it out to be. Why the hell do you think that there are so many different opinions about the things that are said in the Bible? If you think that variations within Christianity make it philosophically bankrupt, then you’re in for a rude awakening if you ever actually study the history and diversity of Christian doctrine.

 
The argument from diversity is not successful at all. We might as well think that evolution is a simple “personal gut” feeling because of all the different explanations posed for how a certain species had arrived. Not to mention that this gives us a pleasant excuse to ignore almost all of history! My Julius Ceaser example attempted to show that, but you ignored that point but in doing so, you also proved that there is an objective interpretation of history. Otherwise, I could NOT be wrong about Ceaser being a metaphor for some  awesome salad.
 
In addition to the reasons I provided above, the Bible has different interpretations because not everyone is entirely knowledgeable on how to interpret it. There is also new information that comes in about the culture or literature style in the time that the book had been written which revises our understanding. We’re also not perfect and therefore have made mistakes. But this is FAR from justifying the belief that it is subjective. The biblical writers even WARN about FALSE doctrine. True doctrine must exist, if for no other reason, because false doctrine exists (to borrow from C.S Lewis).
 
As I already explained, I won’t deny that there are Christians who hold to doctrine that contradicts what other Christians hold. However, this is precisely the reason why the argue on such matters! They believe that there is a true doctrine and that we should all discuss this in order to know God’s truth. Furthermore, if Christianity is relative then you cannot say that there is something called “Christian doctrine” and there is something that is not. Following your argument, we might as well include naturalism into this whole buffet.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 5:12 pm

MacGuy: In addition to the reasons I provided above, the Bible has different interpretations because not everyone is entirely knowledgeable on how to interpret it.

No, there are lots of different interpretations because different authors in the Bible said different things, or because the things it says are vague. Look at the example I gave:

Lorkas: Which of the following do you think are Christian doctrines:
1) God chose who would go to heaven and who would go to hell before time began.
2) God foreknew, but did not foreordain, who would go to heaven and who would go to hell before time began.

1) is based on verses like Eph 1:3-5, Jer 1:5, and Rom 8:28-30. 2) is based on verses like Mark 16:16, Rom 10:9, and the verse cited by cartesian earlier. The most educated Christians throughout church history come down on both sides of the issue, because it’s a question only vaguely answered by the Bible–not because some people understand how to interpret it and some don’t.
 
On the other hand, scientific theories (like the theory of evolution) typically win over a consensus of scientists based on the evidence. There might be decades (centuries?) of debate about some of the ideas, but in the end, one side accumulates overwhelming evidence and blows away competing ideas. In other words, it’s an awful analogy.
 

MacGuy: Furthermore, I was simply being sarcastic when I said it’s just your “cute interpretation” but that is essentially what it is reduced to!

No it isn’t, as I already explained. You’re doing a great job of trying to put words in my mouth, but you really should slow down and actually read the words that I say rather than predetermine what you think my intentions were.

  (Quote)

MacGuy August 12, 2009 at 6:17 pm

No it isn’t, as I already explained. You’re doing a great job of trying to put words in my mouth, but you really should slow down and actually read the words that I say rather than predetermine what you think my intentions were.

This is why I will end this discussion. You clearly do not know how to read or conveniently cut off part of what I had said. I already acknowledged that you might not have intended to put it that way but it is nevertheless treated in such a way. For example, I might say morality is relative upon the culture and to moral realists, this is like saying that I like chocolate over vanilla. While it most likely won’t be put that way by moral relativists, it is essentially a correct characterization of how morality is being treated (even Bertrand Russell agreed). The same applies here. FYI, it’s called a sarcastic exaggeration and I never claimed you said it that way!

One point that I have to add… You point to specific issues such as the classic arminianism vs calvinism but conveniently ignore the overwhelming unity that exists within Christianity. And what you never really addressed the key issue – namely whether Biblical interpretation is relative or not. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that one example proves that all interpretations of the Bible is relative. That’s about as silly as saying that historians disagree and appear to have no consensus on some particular works, therefore all history is relative! I made clear arguments in favor of objective interpretation, and your response ignored.

Unless you suddenly wish to actually engage my arguments, then I will no longer continue this discussion. I figured that it is best that way since apparently my sarcasm has also gotten to you. Perhaps I should’ve simply stayed away from sarcasm to begin with, but THIS IS EXACTLY why I use it! Most people just resort to non-sequiturs so I end up have nothing more to say…

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 12, 2009 at 8:20 pm

MacGuy: Don’t fool yourself into thinking that one example proves that all interpretations of the Bible is relative.

I thought I was keeping it simple by giving you one specific issue to talk about, but I guess that was the wrong decision. Here’s a slightly larger (though still minimal) sample of the issues that Christians disagree on:
1) Is “once saved, always saved” true or false?
2) Does the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son, or from the Father alone? (this is a major East/West distinction–indeed, the source of the earliest schism)
3) Do people who never hear about Jesus go to hell?
4) Do people who die before the “age of accountability” go to hell?
5) Is salvation based on faith alone, faith and works, or works alone?
6) Can women be priests/preachers?
7) Can priests/preachers be married?
8) How should communion be performed?
9) What about speaking in tongues? Prophecy? Healings? Miracles?
10) WTF does Revelation mean?
 
I could go on, but perhaps 10 are enough for now. Let’s remember my original point: just because something isn’t part of a person’s individual idea of Christian doctrine, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a Christian doctrine. For example, “Priests can’t be married” is a Christian doctrine, even though Protestant denominations disagree with that doctrine. “Preachers can be married” is also a Christian doctrine, even though all Catholics disagree with it. That is all that I was pointing out in my original post, despite your attempts to claim that I was making an argument against Christianity by pointing that out.
 
I’m not arguing that “all biblical interpretation is relative” by any stretch, I’m just pointing out that an awful lot of it is based on personal beliefs (or accident of birth into a particular denomination) combined with proof-texting rather than the imaginary One True Interpretation that you seem to be asserting. Even if it does exist, we haven’t found a way to reliably find it, since the most sincere Christians disagree about what the One True Interpretation is, and have done so throughout church history.

MacGuy: You point to specific issues such as the classic arminianism vs calvinism but conveniently ignore the overwhelming unity that exists within Christianity.

Some denominations have overwhelmingly agree that predestination is false, while others overwhelmingly agree that it is true. If you think that this is a settled issue in Christianity, then I’m afraid you need to study more Christian theology (and not just the theology of your particular denomination–that’s the way that people fall into the trap of thinking that there’s “overwhelming unity” about issues like these).

MacGuy: This is why I will end this discussion. You clearly do not know how to read or conveniently cut off part of what I had said.

I find it strange that you say this, since I actually addressed a lot of different points in my last response, while you seem to be caught up in the idea that I don’t know how to read (for some strange reason). I would say that it’s like the pot calling the kettle black, but I don’t think that I’m either the pot or the kettle in this case. It’s like you constructed a straw-kettle to call black, while ignoring the substance of my reply.
 
Alas. I can’t say I’m sorry that you decided to end the discussion.

  (Quote)

MacGuy August 12, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I find it strange that you say this, since I actually addressed a lot of different points in my last response, while you seem to be caught up in the idea that I don’t know how to read (for some strange reason). I would say that it’s like the pot calling the kettle black, but I don’t think that I’m either the pot or the kettle in this case. It’s like you constructed a straw-kettle to call black, while ignoring the substance of my reply.

What? I was referring not to the points that you made in your last response but in regards to your assertion that I had put “words in your mouth”. The issue we were discussing was about the cute interpretation; not for our discussion in general. I was more caught up in trying to refute the assertion that “biblical interpretation is relative” than the reading part. I don’t know what makes you think this when I attempted to make a huge explanation on the objectivity of interpretation. Hopefully that is not an intentional way to deceive yourself into thinking you didn’t err.
Now… I honestly got the impression that you were arguing for biblical relativity. You deny this and so apparently I was wrong. But DRJ did make this claim and you seemed to have defended him indirectly so I might’ve unintentionally thought you agreed. If I made a straw man, then I apologize! Will get back to this later once you add some further clarification.

  (Quote)

oliver August 12, 2009 at 11:46 pm

MacGuy,
So WHAT is your argument, exactly? In a few words, if possible.
 

  (Quote)

drj August 13, 2009 at 3:50 am

MacGuy:  But DRJ did make this claim and you seemed to have defended him indirectly so I might’ve unintentionally thought you agreed. If I made a straw man, then I apologize! Will get back to this later once you add some further clarification.

 
Well, now – I’m not sure exactly what you mean by Biblical relativity – perhaps you can elaborate, but it doesn’t sound like something I believe in – after all, I believe Christianity is objectively false.
 
IF Christianity were true, then I would imagine there would only be one right way to believe in it, and only one way interpret the Bible.   But even if that’s the case, that doesn’t mean anyone knows what it is – so with that in mind, when a significant portion of the Christian community claims a belief certain belief as its doctrine, I believe them.
 
Whose authority on the matter should I trust?  Yours?  The Pope’s?  Should I believe the Chicago Statement on Hermeneutics?  What objective means do you have to determine whose standard is closer to truth?  You can’t exactly take a poll to find out which belief system resulted in more heaven bound souls.
 
When it comes down to it, the reasons for choosing different standards is a matter of personal taste – inerrantists feel its playing fast and loose with scripture to believe anything else; Catholics would feel absurdities result from claiming total innerrancy.  Who is objectively right?
 
Until such time as you can determine whose got the real objective truth here, another Christian’s statement of doctrine is just as good as yours.  In fact, thats all I take doctrine to be; what people calling themselves Christians claim it to be.

  (Quote)

drj August 13, 2009 at 4:24 am

I will add that I do recognize that quite a many unbelievers misrepresent or misunderstand the vast differences between the doctrines of different Christian sects, and tend to think of the whole as homogeneous.  The most common mistake I see is the failure to recognize that many Christians are not exclusivist.
 
So I do sympathize somewhat, when one feels maligned by those kinds of mistakes.

  (Quote)

cartesian August 13, 2009 at 8:44 am

Lorkas: cartesian, Just because it isn’t your doctrine doesn’t mean it isn’t a doctrine held by some Christians. Perhaps you think it is a bad doctrine, but it is a Christian doctrine.

Sure, I agree that some Christians think God sends people to hell for not worshiping him, and some Christians think Jesus is his own father. The gray guy in this video raises some problems for those people.
 
When I said that these weren’t Christian doctrines, I assumed that there are some essential orthodox Christian doctrines. I think you can find these by taking the intersection of the great Christian creeds (Nicene, Apostles, etc.). The intersection of these creeds does NOT include the claim that God sends people to hell for not worshiping him. And I bet the intersection of these creeds explicitly denies that Jesus is his own father. That the Son is not the Father is pretty standard Trinitarian theology.
 
So while the gray guy raises problems for some Christians, I don’t think he raises any problems whatsoever for Christianity itself, where “Christianity” refers to the intersection of the great Christian creeds.
 
(And I wasn’t at all offended by your response to me, so don’t worry about that.)
 
I’m not a universalist, by the way. I don’t think everyone will be saved. I just don’t think that belief (i.e. cognitive assent) is necessary for salvation. That’s a pretty horrifying doctrine, if you ask me.

  (Quote)

cartesian August 13, 2009 at 9:00 am

Cartesian: About (1), in Matthew 25 Jesus describes the basis on which he’ll separate “the sheep” from “the goats”: what they’ve done.

Democritus: So, Paul must disagree with him, since he says that “therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”.  James, on the other hand, seems to agree with Jesus, because he says “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. ” Of course, Jesus seems to agree with Paul and disagree with James, in that “this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. ” Wait… does that mean that Jesus disagrees with himself?

I don’t think the verse you cite from Paul disagrees with Matthew 25, since I don’t think that the basis on which Jesus will judge people is works of the Law.
 
Also, I think the justification that Paul is talking about is our redemption from our sin-debt: that justification is indeed received by us completely by faith. Paul is not talking about our regeneration and sanctification, i.e. our being saved from a sinful nature. That process requires our cooperation, i.e. faith working in love (Galatians 5:6). This is the justification that James is talking about. So I don’t think that James and Paul disagree; there’s just an ambiguity in “justification.”
 
Sometimes Jesus speaks of being saved in the sense of being redeemed by our sin-debt. Faith is sufficient for that salvation. When he speaks of this kind of salvation, he sounds like Paul. Other times Jesus speaks of being saved from our sinful natures. This salvation requires us to do stuff. When he speaks of this kind of salvation, he sounds like James. But there’s no contradiction here, so no, Jesus doesn’t disagree with himself.
 
If you’re having trouble seeing this distinction, think about the Exodus. The Israelites were enslaved by Egypt. God got them out of slavery, by getting Pharoah to release the Israelites. This was a gift from God. It didn’t require that the Israelites do anything — they were released from slavery whether they knew it or not. [This is like the justification that Paul often talks about: we were slaves to sin, indebted to God. Jesus' life and death atoned for our sin debt, releasing us from that bondage to sin whether we know it or not.]
 
But the Israelites still had a problem: They were in Egypt, not in the promised land. And they were stubborn and prone to idolatry. So they took a sanctifying trip through the desert, learning to keep the commandments, learning not to worship idols, shedding off the sinful generation, etc. [This is like the justification that James talks about: we are stubborn and idolatrous, spending our time and talents on sinful pursuits. Via the in-working of the Holy Spirit and our free cooperation, we're taking a sanctifying trip through the desert, so to speak, to become righteous.]
 
In the end, as they approached the promised land, only the righteous people were allowed to enter the land. This is the salvation that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25: entering heaven.
 
That’s the distinction between the justification that Paul often speaks of, the justification that James often speaks of, and the salvation Jesus speaks of in Matthew 25. There’s no inconsistency here. It makes for a rather engaging story, really.

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 13, 2009 at 9:03 am

cartesian: So while the gray guy raises problems for some Christians, I don’t think he raises any problems whatsoever for Christianity itself, where “Christianity” refers to the intersection of the great Christian creeds.

Sure, I agree with this. If I read your original post as something like “Neither of these is a[n essential] Christian doctrine,” then I don’t really see a problem with it at all.
 
In fact, I’m sure that you would support the attempt by the gray guy to raise problems for those Christians with poorly-reasoned beliefs. It can only improve the world if people move from poorly-reasoned beliefs to more reasonable ones. Even if I don’t think that your views are as reasonable as possible (and I know you think the same about mine), I can still see that they are light-years ahead of many other Christians, and would prefer there to be more Christians like you.

cartesian: I just don’t think that belief (i.e. cognitive assent) is necessary for salvation. That’s a pretty horrifying doctrine, if you ask me.

I find that a terrible doctrine too, cartesian. It’s so nice to find points of agreement.

  (Quote)

cartesian August 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

Lorkas: cartesian, Just because it isn’t your doctrine doesn’t mean it isn’t a doctrine held by some Christians. Perhaps you think it is a bad doctrine, but it is a Christian doctrine.

I think I missed this on my first read, but were you making this move?:
 
(1) Some Christian believes P and takes P to be part of her Christianity.
(2) Therefore P is a Christian doctrine.
 
I don’t think that’s a good move. There are some really confused people out there. Some people are tritheists when it comes to the trinity, yet tritheism has been condemned time and time again by church councils. But if a Christian mistakenly believes it as part of Christianity, then according to this inference tritheism is a Christian doctrine. That does violence to the natural understanding of “Christian doctrine.” I think we should just conclude rather that tritheism is a doctrine held by some Christians.
 
We wouldn’t make that move with respect to atheism, for example:
 
(1*) Some atheist believes in Hegel’s Absolute and takes that to be part of her atheism.
(2*) Therefore, Hegel’s Absolute is an atheist doctrine (??)
 
I don’t think that follows. But if it doesn’t follow here, why think (2) follows from (1)?

  (Quote)

Lorkas August 13, 2009 at 11:31 am

It was sloppy of me to say “some Christians”, which I noticed while I was talking with MacGuy. What I meant to express was just that, some denominations do officially hold to the doctrines that you put forth as “not Christian doctrines”, and it’s inaccurate to think of your own doctrines as the only ones that are “Christian doctrines”. I understand what you were trying to say now, though, so nothing came of that objection aside from a clarification.
 
Of course it is not going to make any sense to talk of anything as an “atheist doctrine”. I think for something to be considered “doctrine”, it has to be codified by some governing body, and since atheism has no governing body, it can’t really have doctrines. Doctrine isn’t, as I’m sure you’ll agree, just something that people agree about–it is an official position taken by an organization. For this reason, we can’t even say that “I don’t believe in God” is an atheist doctrine, it’s just the definition of the atheist’s position.

  (Quote)

lukeprog August 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I think the point here is that Christian doctrine claims that:

1. God loves everyone.
2. God decided that people who don’t believe in Jesus will go to hell.

And, it is simple fact that:

3. The vast majority of humans in history didn’t believe in Jesus.

But (2) and (3) entail that God decided the vast majority of humans will go to hell, which on the face of it makes (1) very improbable, given:

4. A being that loves everyone would not decide to send most people to eternal suffering.

and

5. Hell is eternal suffering.

  (Quote)

cartesian August 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

lukeprog: Christian doctrine claims that: … 2. God decided that people who don’t believe in Jesus will go to hell.

I think that entailment claim is false. Though many individual Christians believe (2), you won’t find (2) in any of the great Christian creeds. And Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a. Der Pope) explicitly denies it here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDFUNICI.HTM
 
I hear “Christian doctrine” as “those beliefs that are necessary for a person to be a Christian.” But maybe you just mean it as “beliefs that Christians qua Christians have held or taught.” If so, we agree, but then your conclusion is that those particular Christians were wrong, not that Christianity itself is wrong. I accept that conclusion.
 
In any event, I think your (2) is false. And I think it’s false that Christian doctrine entails (2).

  (Quote)

lukeprog August 14, 2009 at 4:16 am

cartesian,

Of course it is very hard to nail down what “Christian doctrine” is, because there is such great diversity even on the most fundamental of issues. As far as I can tell, (2) is very popular in American Christianity, and most of my audience on this blog is American.

  (Quote)

Democritus August 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

Cartesian,
I know the possible explanations to make that “contradiction” vanish. I’ve been sort of a theologian, so I should know. My intention was to point to the ambiguity in terms. The Bible is quite ambiguous on how exactly someone is saved – does it need any kind of action, or simply faith? If it needs any action, can that be considered meritory or not? If there is merit, how exactly is it measured in terms of how it relates to the faith itself? And, if there’s merit, what’s the measure of merit between Christ and the saved person?
Catholic Theology is distinctly more elaborate on those questions then Reformed Theology is, and I’m sure that the status of “merit” and “works” is one of the main differences between one and the other. Both are considered Christian, however, and each point of view creates its own problems. Do you see that?

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment