Is that not the hoot! No doubt everyone is deceived if you talk to conservatives. I even saw a recent video where during a church service a preacher had his parishioners come forward and they were asked to rip apart any Bible they had except the King James Version. Not even the New King James Version was acceptable.
One Christian group thinks the others are deceived while other groups think likewise about them.
I have several Systematic Theology textbooks, including one by H. Wayne House, called Charts of Christian Theology & Doctrine. In it he charts the denominations of course, but he also has charts of five models of revelation, six views of inspiration, five views of the Trinity [I have a used book and on the “Orthodox Trinitarian” view the previous owner, presumably a student, penciled in “Us!!”], three views of “tongues,” four views of the nature of man, three views on original sin, five views of salvation, nine views of the atonement, five views of sanctification, four views on water baptism, four views of the Lord’s Supper, four views of the rapture, four views of the millennium, and so on.
Rich Knopp at Lincoln Christian University, my Alma mater, is using my book, WIBA, in his college and master’s level classes on apologetics. As students read through it they are asked to notice any contradictions they see within the text. When I first heard about this I was puzzled, but not any more. For in one part I argue as if God has foreknowledge of human actions while in another part of it I argue that God doesn’t have this kind of foreknowledge. Contradiction? No, not here. It’s just that I’m arguing that if God has foreknowledge he should be able to foreknow and answer prayers that haven’t yet been prayed, but in fact I don’t believe God can have this kind of foreknowledge along with other Christians. Does this debunk Christianity? Well, not those who affirm Open Theism since I at one time embraced this view. But I do argue against them on other issues, especially when it comes to the logical choices that open theists have not sufficiently dealt with on page 81, where I use Paul Helm’s argument against it.
And here is the problem. When it comes to Christianity I agree with the Protestant criticisms of the Catholics as well as the Catholic criticisms of the Protestants. And I also agree with the fundamentalist criticisms of the liberals as well as the liberal criticisms of the fundamentalists. And I agree with the Hindu, Muslim and Jewish criticisms of Christianity, as well as the Christian criticisms against their religions. When they criticize each other I think they’re all right! What’s left is the demise of religion and Christianity as a whole.
So in order to make my case I represent contrary theological positions against other theologies. If someone wants to argue Pat Robertson was wrong when he said the Haitians deserved what they got then I must argue that he stands squarely in the Christian tradition. He’s not stupid. He’s more consistent than those other Christians who are denouncing him. But by doing so I’m called stupid by these other Christians who denounce him as stupid. I’m not being stupid. These other Christians fail to realize that Robertson’s views were standard fare among Christians at one time, and are still held today by a lot of people who donate money to Robertson’s ministry. They’re all stupid, right? They are all deceived, right? That’s what more enlightened Christians say and it reminds me of that Church of Christ chart above.
So at this point about all I can do is argue that if God exists he is at least partially to blame for people not understanding his will, as I did for a long chapter in The Christian Delusion. This is a serious problem for the Christian faith given the horrible deeds the church did down through the centuries, and the fact that one denomination condemns to hell a different one.
Robert G. Ingersoll said:
Every [Christian] sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed His will to man. To each reader the Bible conveys a different meaning. About the meaning of this book, called a revelation, there have been ages of war and centuries of sword and flame. If written by an infinite God, He must have known that these results must follow; and thus knowing, He must be responsible for all.Friedrich Nietzsche said:
A god who is all-knowing and all-powerful and who does not even make sure his creatures understand his intention—could that be a god of goodness? Who allows countless doubts and dubieties to persist, for thousands of years, as though the salvation of mankind were unaffected by them, and who on the other hand holds out the prospect of frightful consequences if any mistake is made as to the nature of truth? . . . Did he perhaps lack intelligence to do so? Or the eloquence? Must he not then . . . be able to help and counsel [his creatures], except in the manner of a deaf man making all kinds of ambiguous signs when the most fearful danger is about to befall on his child or dog?Should't this be good enough?
[First posted 2/17/10]