Daily Archives: October 18, 2010
Loftus once wrote:
We abhor someone who is supposed to decide between two parties who also has a conflict of interest. That person could be a trustee of an estate, a judge, or a principal. We want a fair and impartial judgment. We want a fair ruling. So arguing against the Outsider Test for Faith is like arguing against a fair and impartial ruling. It is to argue against what is intuitively obvious to everyone else and consequently makes believers look very bad, because we abhor what they try to argue against. That is, even arguing against the OTF tells an outsider there is something badly wrong with the Christian faith. (source)
So, we can’t win. If we ignore the test, that proves its validity. If we engage the test, that proves its validity. From this point forward, John is no longer allowed to talk about how religion can’t be falsified.
William Thatcher faces a dilemma in A Knight’s Tale. Unless you are of noble birth, you can’t compete in sports. So William says that he’s a noble. Eventually, it’s discovered that he’s the son of a local thatcher, he’s arrested, and is disqualified from further participation. Apparently, there’s qualifications for being a noble. You can’t just say you’re a noble.
I’m a writer. I knit words together into sentences, and those are stitched into paragraphs. These words convey arguments or paint vivid word pictures. Someone could claim to be a writer, but write in all lowercase letters, run-on sentences, a single block paragraph, and ramble for 200 pages without really saying anything at all. No argument was made, no description painted, no story told. Such a person would not be considered a writer; so again, we see that certain criteria must be met to claim that title.
And so it is with any label. In fact, there are actually severe penalties for claiming that you have certain labels if you do not. You cannot claim to be a police officer unless you are a sworn law enforcement professional. Same for claiming the title of doctor when you are not a physician.
My point: to call yourself X, you must meet the prerequisites of X. It is not enough to simply declare yourself X.
Yet, apply that same logic to the label of “Christian” and you get accused of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. In the mind of the skeptic, it’s sufficient for a person to say, “I’m a Christian!” If a person claims Christianity, then he is a Christian. No other prerequisites necessary.
Over at the blog for Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?, you see a very similar argument in the comments of this post. A commenter named Joe (who claimed to once have been a born-again Christian), regarding the Christian view that homosexuality is a sin, writes:
If there were a God, he would not want his church to make people so unhappy and affect peoples’ lives so negatively. I would not wish such a “therapy” to my worst enemy (if I had any).
A commenter named Rostam tells Joe that he wasn’t ever a born-again Christian. Joe replies:
When I was 15 I gave my life to the Lord. In the following years, I led other people to the Lord, prayed for the sick, spoke in tongues, was a worship leader in my church and even attended a 1-year bible school to prepare me for further ministry. I can truly say I was as honest and sincere about my faith as everybody else.
Sound familiar? It should. Jesus once said:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Mt 7:21-23, emphasis added)
The mark of the Christian is how much Jesus’ lordship of your mind, body, and soul has transformed you from the inside out. How has he changed your way of thinking, of looking at the world? It’s not about what works you have done. Yet, when accused of not being a Christian, the first thing Joe does is defend himself by listing his works. Not the strongest defense.
Obviously, since Joe believes that homosexuality is correct behavior and demonizes anyone who disagrees with that position, Christ never changed him from the inside out. His ear was never inclined to the word of God. So I agree with the assessment proffered by Rostam. Joe was a Christian in name only, but he never let it truly enter his being. He never let the message transform him. He never became the new creation that Paul promises we who take our faith seriously will become.
And by listing his works as a defense, he becomes the hypothetical individual that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7, but he doesn’t even realize it. This proves that Joe may have read the message, and he may have behaved in a way that would suggest he was a Christian, but he never actually digested the message.