Which is it? You Pick!

Ed Babinski e-mailed me with a list of some interesting books published in the evangelical community, listed below. I have some of these books. But let me pose a question here. Either God was not clear in his revelation about these issues, or the Holy Spirit isn't doing his job in illuminating the truth of the Bible, or God doesn't care what Christians believe. If God doesn't care, then he's also partly to blame for the wars and inquisitions and heresy trials of the Christian past, which claimed many lives. You pick. Which is it? [This doesn't even begin to address the issues that separate different branches of Christianity].

In the 1980s two Evangelical Christian publishing houses began publishing a series that featured debates between theologians (who remained in disagreement following such debates). InterVarsity Press published...

Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialog
What About Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized
In Search of the Soul: Four Views of the Mind-Body Problem
Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views
Four Views on Divine sovereignty and Human Freedom
Four Christian Views of Economics
Four Theologians Debate the Major Millennial Views
The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views
God & Time: Four Views
Science & Christianity: Four Views
Psychology & Christianity: Four Views
Women in Ministry: Four Views
Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views
Theologians and Philosophers Examine Four Approaches to War

While Zondervan Press, part of their Counterpoints Series, published...

Two Views on Women in Ministry
How Jewish Is Christianity? Two Views on the Messianic Movement
Three Views on the Rapture
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
Three Views on Creation and Evolution
Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism
Remarriage After Divorce in Today's Church: Three Views
Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views
Show Them No Mercy: Four Views on God and Canaanite Genocide
Understanding Four Views on Baptism
Who Runs the Church? Four Views on Church Government
Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World
Four Views on the Book of Revelation
Four Views on Eternal Security
Four Views on Hell
Evaluating the Church Growth Movement: Five Views
Five Views of Law and Gospel
Five Views on Sanctification
Five Views on Apologetics
Exploring the Worship Spectrum: Six Views

Neither counterpoint series, above, is at an end.

18 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Oh, "wait just a minute, Loftus," someone will say. "It's all man's fault." Really? Does God not share any of the blame at all...at all!

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I love this.
2000 years of christian history, 1000's of denominations and 10's of 1000's of commentaries with different viewpoints are a testimony to the total humanity of biblical authorship or complete ineptness or outright intentional trickery of the divine author.

Theresa Frasch said...

Reading Four Views of Hell was one of the things that led me out of the church. I figured if four theologians couldn't agree on hell then there probably wasn't any truth to it any way.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Pointing out disagreements to undermine a theory is a Creatinist tactic I hope skeptics don't stoop to. Dawkins vs Gould. Churchland vs Fodor. String theory versus whatever.

John W. Loftus said...

Listen up Blue Devil, this is not a problem for atheists, because disagreements are expected. Read the options I gave at the beginning. Which option do you prefer here? Make a decision, okay?

Steven Carr said...

How does pointing out confusion not help to undermine the claim 'God is not the author of confusion'?

Daniel said...

BDK,

I think you're missing the point that whereas people admit they are not infallible, they also claim God is.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I understand the rhetorical point, but this argument strategy is weak. People struggling to understand texts that they think God had some role in creating is not evidence that God doesn't exist. Those that struggle are chosen, as they are showing how seriously that take God's word. It doesn't matter which particular number of angels on the pin they end up believing in. They at least work to see the meaning of his words.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

There is an even stronger point to be made here. Theists have an unspoken but basic premise -- which, I believe, some writers have attempted to derive from ideas of the nature of God rather than taking as a premise. This is that "God cannot lie."

If you abandon that premise, then theism becomes meaningless. To use the legal phrase -- I hope I get it right -- "Falso in uno, falso in omnia." If God can deceive, why should we believe him about any of the things he says. Why should we believe in hell, or salvation, or whatever. Perhaps, for the moment granting his existence, he is a being that created us for his own amusement, and his 'interventions' are merely to see how silly we will act. (He could have a juvenile sense of humor, and get great laughs at the silly hats and head-covering rules we come up with. Or watching the way we warp sexuality according to his 'commands.' Or be truly sadistic, a little boy playing war games with his toys, enjoying the carnage.)

But deception is more than lying. If you say something strictly true in a way such that you know it will be misinterpreted, you might not have lied, but you have deceived.

God, again with infinite knowledge, knew how 'his words' would be taken. And even granting a certain amount of 'leeway' because English languages are not perfect, even granting that some people, out of an evil intention, would misinterpret these words, still it was God's responsibility to be as clear as possible. Obviously he was not.

Therefore, either the words that were supposedly spoken or 'inspired by God' were not from him, or he can be a liar, and thus unworthy of following.

(This happens to be the logic behind my original 'deconversion.' It was Catholicism I left, and as I explained to people then and over the years, I did not become an atheist because I rejected Catholicism -- which i still find more 'intellectually respectable' than Protestantism -- at least they spent hundreds of years trying to work on their own contradictions -- I rejected Catholicism because I became an atheist.

John W. Loftus said...

But BDK, as prup indicated and as I argued, what about all of the killing that took place because Christians disagreed? God knew this would happen. Why? And who exactly are the "chosen" you speak of here? Who speaks for Christianity. Here we have a former Catholic who still thinks it represents Christianity better than Protestantism.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I should temper my previous claim. While the lack of obvious miracles in modernity is strong evidence that there is no God (assuming God wants us to believe he exists), there are options available to the theist to explain this strange fact.

Thinking about it more, I am less convinced I am right in my knee-jerk criticisms of Loftus.

I posted this over at Victor's blog to see what he thinks. He is usually pretty thoughtful on this stuff.

Anonymous said...

"Either God was not clear in his revelation about these issues, or the Holy Spirit isn't doing his job in illuminating the truth of the Bible, or God doesn't care what Christians believe...

Oh, "wait just a minute, Loftus," someone will say. "It's all man's fault." Really? Does God not share any of the blame at all...at all!"

I don't see how the answer can't be: Some of these things will not be made clear until "End Times", but the ones directly leading to evil acts still have no excuse because: 1) All "four" or however many guesses (or any amount of possibly rational answers) don't lead to evil acts. 2) God says he will always leave a possible way to avoid evil

Randy said...

I do think Catholicism totally solves this problem. Jesus gave us the gospel and it has been taught by His church ever since. It is a huge problem in every other brand of christianity and a major reason why I became Catholic.

tweety bird said...

I don't see how the answer can't be: Some of these things will not be made clear until "End Times", but the ones directly leading to evil acts still have no excuse because: 1) All "four" or however many guesses (or any amount of possibly rational answers) don't lead to evil acts. 2) God says he will always leave a possible way to avoid evil

1) It's an ad hoc answer
2) If God is all-good and wants us to know things, why is there so much ambiguity in the source texts? The point sticks with the question of whether or not God does want that.
3) Will you admit that the Bible is not a "perfect revelation" on these ambiguous doctrines? Did God intend for it to be? If there are multiple views on multiple doctrines, then saying that the evil that results from this (fighting to establish one of those views as the dominant one) is somehow the fault of humans is silly -- if God is all-powerful and all-good, God must make the evil disappear by perfect revelation (rather than imperfect revelation). Therefore, God does not exist.

Dave Armstrong said...

Precisely. This is one of the reasons (ultimately, theological relativism, doctrinal chaos, and ecclesiological anarchy) that Protestantism is far less plausible of a Christian option than Catholicism, and partially why I converted from the former to the latter. Most of these debates are internal divisions among Protestants. There is little question of where Catholics stand (or Orthodox, for that matter), on most of them.

Most of our allowed differences are in areas where one would hope and expect that there can still be discussion, because it involves some of the most mysterious, complex philosophical and theological topics, such as on predestination and free will, where Catholics can be Molinists or Thomists (I am a Molinist).

Apologetic method can also be a valid area of dispute, since method and approach does not involve absolute categories, but only pragmatic, prudential ones. I myself fall on that spectrum into what is called the evidentialist or broadly Thomist approach, over against the presuppositionalism of Calvinists and many fundamentalists.

Yet that is not entirely clear-cut, since my favorite Christian philosopher is Alvin Plantinga, who comes from an analytical perspective which has some affinities to presuppositionalism. He modifies it, however, to make it far less objectionable to my taste (and that of those he opposes, since he is immensely respected).

Dave Armstrong

Dave Armstrong said...

John W. Loftus wrote:

> Oh, "wait just a minute, Loftus," someone will say. "It's all man's fault." Really? Does God not share any of the blame at all...at all!

No, it isn't necessary that God be blamed for this particular difficulty, insofar as there is at least one proposed system (Catholicism - and to a large extent, Orthodoxy) which overcomes the objection. If indeed God intended to set up one Church (which is the biblical teaching after all; Protestants don't deny that but simply redefine it to an "invisible church"), then if certain Christians reject that set-up and go off and form their own little traditions of men and their mini-traditions, I dont see how that casts into doubt the original system which indeed held sway for 1500 years of Christian history.

So there is a real sense in which one can blame man rather than God for these things. All systems (even divinely-instituted ones) can be corrupted or rejected by men. It makes no sense to blame that on God. It is like saying that God made Satan a free creature, who then chose to reject God, and blaming God for that rather than Satan.

Why is it that you guys have to blame everything on God when it isn't even remotely logical or required in any sense to do so? I undersatand it is your obsession or complex, but at least try to display some semblance of sense and moderation in your excesses and grudges against the God you simultaneously claim does not exist.

But I don't expect to see that anytime soon. In the meantime I'll enjoy the humor of the illogical and irrational thinking.

Dave Armstrong

John W. Loftus said...

By the way Dave, one of my professors at Marquette University was Donald O'Keefe, and he argued that the Vatican Documents also allow for his fideism.

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello John and all,

I think Dave has the correct viewpoint about people blaming the Creator for the actions of deceptive and flawed humans. People have freewill and that means they are ultimately repsonsible for what they do and the resuslts of those deeds. To assert on one hand that religion is error prone and deceptive and then blame the Creator for the actions of human deceivers because they were given the freewill to deceive is logically flawed. I come across this argument regularly from people who think their bad luck or the actions of others should be blamed on "God," while never considering that they have already asserted that the texts and religions they oppose are the result of human deception and error. Consequently, religious leaders and founders are lying about their relationship to the Creator and the true sources and meaning of their canons.

To put this into the proper context, if someone tells lies about you, does that make you the liar? Ever heard of false witnesses and false prophets?

Here is Wisdom !!