Monthly Archives: December 2009
Open Challenge to Caleb (But All Skeptics Welcome)
In my previous post, I recounted the sad deconversion of a close friend. Although I tried to keep him anonymous, he outed himself in the first commment. The deconverter is Caleb, a good personal friend of mine and regular commenter on this blog. It is sad to see any brother (or sister) in Christ reject the gospel, but it is even more sad when that person is good friend.
In reading some of the links provided by Caleb, and the little bit of his own writing that he has done on the subject of his deconversion, I’ve uncovered two recurrent themes that seem to come up in most deconversions.
First, the assertion that the Bible is full of errors and contradictions. What errors and contradictions we are always left to guess, because this is generally argued by soundbite. That is, it is asserted without any corroborating evidence being provided.
Second, that the deconverter faced many situations that simply could not be reconciled using a Christian worldview. Again, we are always left to wonder what situations the writer is speaking of, because this is always asserted with no evidence being provided.
That brings me to the purpose of this post. I’m issuing a two-fold challenge to Caleb, but any skeptic is welcome to participate. This is my proposal:
Challenge #1: Provide an example of where the Bible is in error, or else provide a bona fide contradiction. In over 2000 years of biblical scholarship, the Bible has never been found to be in error, nor has anyone been able to show a bona fide contradiction.
Challenge #2: Provide an example of a situation that simply cannot fit into a Christian worldview. I look most forward to the entries for this challenge. I have yet to see any situation that contradicts a Christian worldview.
All right, skeptics, you have your homework. I’m looking forward to seeing your entires in the comment section below. Of course, no entires at all will speak volumes on its own…
The Emptiness of God as a Philosophical Concept
It is a sad day when any Christian renounces his former faith and rejects the gospel. It is even more sad when the Christian in question is someone who was an active evangelist and a close friend. I had a feeling that I knew what he meant when he posted “[name withheld] is free of the cult and not afraid.” But I checked the litany of comments below the status to confirm what I feared: the “cult” he meant was Christianity.
He now believes that God is love, but nothing more than that. Of course, this belief is informed by Scripture, which he also rejects. Leaving that contradiction aside, we find that what my friend has done is to reduce God to a mere philosophical concept.
He appears to understand that God is necessary for existence. He would probably agree with me that God is the First Cause, or the Uncaused Cause, that touched off the chain of events that eventually became our universe. Other than that, my friend seems to have no way to inform his understanding of God other than to label him “love.” This is reducing God to a speculative philosophical concept.
The Christian, however, believes in a deity that is more than just a philosophical concept. The Christian has real object for his faith, that is, the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus suffered all of the same things that we suffered, emerging victorius, so that we can have real comfort with someone who has been there before. Jesus is God’s way of getting closer to us: by becoming flesh and blood and suffering though life as one of us.
A philosophical concept, however, is a cold and impersonal force that has never experienced life the way that we can. This isn’t a real person that we can retreat to when times are rough. So, when times get rough, while the Christian sees Jesus as the anchor and the rock to weather the storm, my friend won’t have such a rock. He’ll only have himself.
Once he has to weather a storm relying only on himself, it is easy to conclude that a philosophical concept did nothing for him. So why not shed the philosophical concept altogether?
Reducing God to a mere philosophical concept is only a few steps away from atheism.
You really have to love Vjack, proprietor of Atheist Revolution. He has no concept of how to interpret the Bible, as I have shown in numerous previous posts. I’ve proven him wrong about certain specific interpretations of the passages (yet he continues to promulgate the same interpretations of these passages). Now, he has posted an article that shows he has absolutely zero understanding of how Christian morality works. Here’s the highlight:
With the idea of karma, there is a certain inevitability of justice. If one screws up enough in life, there is no forgiveness and no absolution of “sin” gained by repeated hail Mary’s. No deathbed confessions will save your ass. Your fate will be determined by your own behavior, just as it should be. The various Christian denominations seem determined to offer short-cuts – ways to get away with sin.
In a karma-based system, there are no short-cuts. However, there are plenty of second chances. One has an eternity to get it right, but one must change one’s behavior in order to do so. No amount of belief is going to cut it.
In other words, Christians can live whatever sort of life they choose, but if they profess belief in Jesus Christ, they’re going to heaven. That’s crap, and even someone with a Sunday school knowledge of theology knows it.
This leads me to believe that Vjack lacks even a basic Sunday school knowledge of Christianity. He likely wasn’t raised in it, but it seems (from reading his blog) that he has many family and friends that are Christian. It would seem that he should have a deeper understanding of Christianity. But, alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Mere mental assent to the person and work of Jesus Christ is enough to save a person, but not enough to send him to heaven. Satan and his angels mentally assent to the person and work of Jesus Christ, but they are not saved and are not going to go to heaven, as Revelation clearly states.
Paul, the one that many people “blame” for popularizing the idea of salvation by grace through faith, makes reference to judgment based on works and to not continue in sin so that grace may abound. James says that faith without works is dead–it won’t save anyone. The Acts of the Apostles portrays all of the apostles calling for people to repent and be baptized. The Gospels begin with John the Baptist calling for the same thing: repent and be baptized. Paul further declares that we are a new creation in Christ, and urges us to throw off the old and bring in the new, as well as exhorting us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God’s service.
Are we faced with a contradiction here? Vjack’s answer would undoubtedly be “Yes, we are.” But we’re not. We are simply confusing one’s salvation with one’s sanctification. Salvation occurs once, the moment when a person makes a sincere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Sanctification, on the other hand, is an ongoing process that will likely last the rest of the new Christian’s life. Sanctification is the process of becoming more Christ-like; of walking in Jesus’ footsteps, of absorbing his teachings and applying them to everyday life, and of becoming closer to the Father. Jesus as much as promises that this will not be an easy thing. In fact, he predicts that this will bring persecution, much trial, and even split up families.
Christianity, therefore, is about faith in Jesus first and foremost. But it is also about understanding that humans owe loyalty to God and therefore must repent of their former sins and lead righteous lives. Not because of a promised reward in heaven, but because it is the right thing to do while on earth. God commands it, and we must do it.
I was really angry when I first read Vjack’s post. My anger was directed at Vjack himself, for criticizing something he clearly doesn’t understand in the least. But, after a short (very short) cooling off period, I asked myself, “Where would he even get this notion that Christianity teaches something like this?” And it didn’t take long to arrive at the answer: Popular Christian Preachers.
I really can’t be mad at Vjack for believing that this is what Christianity teaches when there are so many popular preachers who mislead thousands of souls into believing that this is what Christianity teaches. They teach that Christianity is, as Vjack put it, a short cut to salvation. The teach easy-believism: once the “heaven ticket” is punched by declaring faith in Jesus Christ, you’re free to live a life of your own choosing and you’ll still make it to heaven in the end because you’re saved.
As Vjack astutely observes, that teaching fits well into United States culture. We are all about short cuts. We are all about finding the fastest way from point A to point B, especially when it doesn’t disrupt anything in our comfortable little lives.
But Christianity is meant to challenge a person outside his comfort zone. It is supposed to disrupt our comfortable existence. That sort of message wouldn’t preach well in the United States, so that’s why so many preachers dumb down the message and completely leave out all components that have to do with repentance and obedience to God. It’s more about filling the pews than it is about offering a life-changing message.
Vjack’s post, more than just exposing his ignorance of the teachings of Christianity, is actually an indictment of modern pop-Christianity. Many of the most popular preachers teach just the sort of easy-believism that fuel Vjack’s uninformed perspective of Christianity.