Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

I saw that Triablogue quoted this passage from William Lane Craig’s April newsletter, which made me very excited and happy.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive.

On Saturday night, ECM (a male deist) and I were talking about the Gosnell scandal, and he was asking me why churches don’t mention things like this. And I told him that the feminization of the church means that Christianity can only be cashed out in subjective terms. I told him about the church-attending women I know who are 100% Democrat because it’s more “tolerant”. And I told him about my difficulties getting the church and campus groups to take up apologetics. Is it any wonder that non-Christian men view Christianity as weak, because we can’t even talk about politics and current events in church?

Commenters on Triablogue think that Dr. Craig will draw flak for his comment, but he’s not going to draw flak from mature Christians. What he said is correct. Mature Christians are right behind him on this point. Christian men who have tried to act to defend God’s reputation in public know that there is something wrong in the churches. And eventually, men just tune out of church because we know that there is nothing there for us. If women want men to come back to church, then they have to change the church away from what it is now.

UPDATE: Lydia read this post and reminded me that pre-suppositionalism is very popular with men and is a kind of fideist approach to Christianity that’s nowhere found in the Bible. I totally forgot to mention that. Presuppositionalism, in my experience, is very popular with men. I take a strong view on it, that it’s basically fideism, but I have been disagreed with on that by many people. In my mind, the only right way to do apologetics is by addressing presuppositions like naturalism, universalism, pluralism, etc. and using scientific and historical evidence as well. So there is an area where men are working against effective apologetics by embracing an unBiblical approach to apologetics that tries to minimize the use of evidence.

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Christian business Hobby Lobby defies Obamacare abortion mandate

In the United States, Christian taxpayers are already forced to subsidize the murder of unborn children by supporting Planned Parenthood through taxes. Planned Parenthood is a major donor to the Democrat Party. In addition, Obamacare contains a provision that forces businesses to provide certain abortion-causing drugs to their employees. Failure to comply with this pro-abortion agenda will result in massive fines – over a million dollars per year for Hobby Lobby.

Breitbart reports on how Christians are being forced into civil disobedience.

Excerpt:

Now that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied Hobby Lobby’s application for an emergency injunction protecting them from Obamacare’s HHS Mandate on abortion and birth control, Hobby Lobby has decided to defy the federal government to remain true to their religious beliefs, at enormous risk and financial cost.

Hobby Lobby is wholly owned and controlled by the Green family, who are evangelical Christians. The Greens are committed to running their business in accordance with their Christian faith, believing that God wants them to conduct their professional business in accordance with the family’s understanding of the Bible. Hobby Lobby’s mission statement includes, “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company … consistent with Biblical principles.”

The HHS Mandate goes into effect for Hobby Lobby on Jan. 1, 2013. The Greens correctly understand that some of the drugs the HHS Mandate requires them to cover at no cost in their healthcare plans cause abortions.

Today Hobby Lobby announced that they will not comply with this mandate to become complicit in abortion, which the Greens believe ends an innocent human life. Given Hobby Lobby’s size (it has 572 stores employing more than 13,000 people), by violating the HHS Mandate, it will be subject to over $1.3 million in fines per day. That means over $40 million in fines in January alone. If their case takes another ten months to get before the Supreme Court—which would be the earliest it could get there under the normal order of business—the company would incur almost a half-billion dollars in fines.

[…]The HHS Mandate is a gross violation of the religious beliefs of the Green family. The issue before the courts here is whether the Greens religious-liberty rights include running their secular, for-profit business consistent with their religious beliefs. In other words, is religious liberty just what you do in church on a Sunday morning, or does it include what you do during the week at your job?

I wrote before about my reasons for thinking that Barack Obama is not a Christian. Not only is he pro-abortion, but also pro-gay-marriage. He also doesn’t believe in Hell, which is one of the most common things that Jesus taught about. All of that is interesting, but now Obama is moving beyond that to punish Bible-believing Christians for publicly acting out their faith in public. Atheism is fine, but now he is headed into fascism: using the power of the state to coerce others to accept that their religious and moral views are false.

That is why I find it pretty interesting that so many people who call themselves Christians voted for someone who persecutes Christians for taking  the Bible seriously. I think that this is a pretty good signal that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is a Christian.

A Christian is someone who accepts the truth claims of the Bible and accepts the moral authority of the Bible in defining what is good and evil for individuals and for society as a whole.

A Democrat is someone who affirms and promotes:

  • abortion, gay marriage, persecuting Bible-believing Christians, premarital sex, fatherlessness
  • poverty, unemployment, greed, envy,  covetousness, intergenerational theft, crime (by criminalizing and banning self-defense)
  • causing wars through a weak foreign policy and supporting evil dictators in places like Iran, Syria and Egypt

It does not seem to me that Christianity and Democrat policies are compatible.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Barack Obama’s religion: a closer look at his religious beliefs

Barack Obama claims to be a Christian in public. But is he really a Christian? Well there are at least two ways to look at this question. One way is to look at what Obama does, and see if it matches up with what Christians are supposed to do, and what they have done. Another way is to look at what Obama says, and see if it matches up with what the Bible says, and what the early Church believed.

What are Christians supposed to do?

There are a lot of places I could look to see whether or not Obama’s actions are the actions of a Christian, but I will just choose one: abortion. If you want to know what Christians believe about abortion, you need to go back to the very earliest followers of Jesus. At that time, the Roman authorities believed not only in abortion but also infanticide. The earliest Christians opposed not only infanticide, but also abortion.

Let’s see:

Extrabiblical Jewish Literature

The noncanonical Jewish wisdom literature further clarifies first-century Judaism’s view of abortion. For example, the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides 184–186 (c. 50 B.C.–A.D. 50) says that “a woman should not destroy the unborn in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.” Included among those who do evil in the apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles were women who “aborted what they carried in the womb” (2.281–282). Similarly, the apocryphal book 1 Enoch (2nd or 1st century B.C.) declares that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb” (69.12). Finally, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the law orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Contrast these injunctions with the barbarism of Roman culture. Cicero (106–43 B.C.) records that according to the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, “deformed infants shall be killed” (De Legibus 3.8). Plutarch (c. a.d. 46–120) spoke of those who he said “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D).

Early Christian Literature

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture, the Hebrew “sanctity of human life” ethic provided the moral framework for early Christian condemnation of abortion and infanticide. For instance, the Didache 2.2 (c. A.D. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.” Another noncanonical early Christian text, the Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. A.D. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” There are numerous other examples of Christian condemnation of both infanticide and abortion. In fact, some biblical scholars have argued that the silence of the NT on abortion per se is due to the fact that it was simply assumed to be beyond the pale of early Christian practice. Nevertheless, Luke (a physician) points to fetal personhood when he observes that the unborn John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth came into the presence of Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time (Luke 1:44).

More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. A.D. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

What does Obama believe? Not only is Barack Obama the most pro-abortion President ever, but he also has voted for infanticide several times and he opposed the ban on partial birth abortions.

Excerpt:

BAIPA [The Born Alive Infant Protection Act] (both the federal and Illinois state versions) on the other hand, was introduced to insure that babies who survive attempted abortions are provided the same medical care and sustenance as any other infant born alive. BAIPA was introduced after evidence was presented that babies born alive after unsuccessful abortions were simply discarded in utility closets without food, care, or medical treatment until they died.

As both Andy and I pointed out last night (and numerous times before), state senator Obama fought against the Illinois version of BAIPA that was identical in all material respects to the federal version. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama claimed that he voted against the Illinois BAIPA because it failed to contain a “neutrality clause” making it clear that the bill did not affect the right to an abortion. This is false. Documents obtained by National Right to Life show that the Illinois BAIPA did, in fact, contain a neutrality clause identical to the federal version.

As noted yesterday, not one U.S. senator voted against  BAIPA. Even NARAL didn’t oppose it. At the time of the vote, CNN reported that NARAL’s spokesman said the following:

We, in fact, did not oppose the bill. There is a clear legal difference between a fetus in utero versus a child that’s born. And when a child is born, they deserve every protection that the country can provide. (Emphasis added).

The logical import of Obama’s vote against BAIPA is that he disagrees, i.e., once a baby has been targeted for abortion it thereafter has no inherent right to the food, comfort, and medical care provided to other babies born alive. Indeed, during Illinois state senate deliberations on BAIPA, Obama stated that one of his objections was that the bill was “designed to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion.” Apparently, once the decision to abort has been made, a child is doomed even if born alive.

And of course we now know that Barack Obama supports redefining marriage so that marriage will mean two men or two women. He opposes the traditional view of marriage: one man and one woman, having children and then raising them. Barack Obama’s view directly contradicts the Bible’s teaching on marriage not to mention the words of Jesus himself. It seems to me that Obama’s actions on these issues don’t line up with what Christians have always believed on crucial issues like protecting children and defending marriage.

What are Christians supposed to say?

In order to be a Christian, you must accept that all people everywhere are in rebellion against God, and that Jesus is God stepping into history, and that there is no reconciliation with God apart from an explicit belief in Jesus’ deity, and the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Namely, that his death was a payment for each person’s rebellion against God. Christians also believe that a person must accept that those who do not know Jesus and believe in what he did will not go to Heaven, but will be separated from God for eternity in a place called Hell.

Let’s look at what the Bible says.

Acts 4:8-12:

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!

9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed,

10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

11Jesus is

   “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:1-6:(Jesus speaking)

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Philippians 2:5-11:

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 10:1-4:

1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

And in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I could go on, but that should be enough. Christians do not think that these teachings are mere opinions – we think they are facts. We think they are true and binding and knowable.

To be believe in Jesus means to believe that he is who he says he is – God stepping in history, giving his own life up in order to take the punishment that each person deserves who rebels against God. And we all rebel against God, according to the Bible.

Now let’s take a look at what Obama says. Pay attention to whether he thinks that what he is saying are his own opinions or whether they are facts.

Excerpt:

Falsani: 
What do you believe?

OBAMA: 
[…]I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

And:

Falsani: Do you believe in heaven?

OBAMA:
 Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

Falsani: A place spiritually you go to after you die?

OBAMA:
 What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

Falsani: What is sin?

OBAMA:
 Being out of alignment with my values.

Falsani: What happens if you have sin in your life?

OBAMA:
 I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

And:

OBAMA:
 […]This is something that I’m sure I’d have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they’re going to hell.

Falsani: You don’t believe that?

OBAMA:
 I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

Again, not only did Jesus mention Hell constantly, but the earliest Christians believed in a literal, eternal Hell. Obama doesn’t get to override Jesus, the Bible and the early church and substitute his own religion, and his own standard of sin and salvation. What I find annoying is that he apparently cannot reconcile God’s goodness with the existence of Hell. That’s like Apologetics 101. You would have to know nothing at all about Christianity to say what he said. You would have had to avoided reading anything that answers any questions about Christianity – because that question is easy.

To me what Obama expressed there in his answers was religious pluralism, radical subjectivism, postmodern relativism, and universalism. In no way shape or form are those beliefs consistent with what the Bible teaches. Not even close – this is not even disputable. To be a Christian, you have to believe that there are objective truths about God, independent of different people’s opinions. And that these truths are knowable, through reason, science, history and revelation in the Bible. Only atheists think that religion is non-cognitive subjective wish-fulfillment meant to make people feel good and have community, etc. If you think religion is like picking a flavor of ice cream instead of picking a prescription drug for an illness, then you’re not a Christian. Period.

So in both cases, when you look at what Obama says and what Obama does, it’s very clear that he is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot more to being a Christian than just calling yourself one. You have to act the way that Christians are supposed to act – the way they always acted since the beginning of Christianity. And you have to believe the basic things that Christians are supposed to believe. Things that are clearly taught in multiple books of the new Testament and things that were believed by the earliest followers of Jesus, right up to the present day. If I had to guess what Obama really believes, I would speculate that he inclines toward atheism, or agnosticism at best.

UPDATE: Barack Obama denies that Jesus is the unique son of God at the 2012 Easter Prayer Breakfast.

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William Lane Craig asks: are there objective truths about God?

In a lecture entitled “Are there Objective Truths About God?”, philosopher William Lane Craig responds to the nasty reactions you get from postmoderns when you claim that your religion is true, and that other religions are false. See, we think that there are objective truths about God – that there are some propositions that describe the way God is, and that people who don’t believe in them are factually mistaken. But some people want to say that every statement about God is subjective – true for each person – so that conflicting claims are fine and no one is wrong, because everyone is just describing their own preferences. Unfortunately, Christianity claims to be true for everyone – (e.g. – God is three persons and one being), so that Christians are committed to defending the idea that there are objective truths about God.

Here’s the link to a page containing the lecture audio. (H/T Be Thinking)

The MP3 file is here.

So what questions does Bill answer in the lecture?

What is a self-refuting statement?

The main concept in the lecture is self-refutation. A self-refuting sentence is a sentence that, if true, makes itself false or meaningless. For example, suppose someone said to you: “there are no sentences longer than 5 words” then that would be self-refuting since it falsifies itself. Bill argues that objections to the idea that there are objective truths about God are all self-refuting.

What is truth?

Craig holds that “truth” is a property of a proposition such that a proposition is true if it corresponds to the external world. For example, if I claim that there is a crocodile in your closet and we find a crocodile in your closet, then my statement was true. If there is no crocodile in your closet then my statement was false. The real objective world out there is what makes propositional claims true or false – these are not claims about an individual’s preferences, they are claims about the world. Bill is concerned with truth claims about God that are objective – whether there are propositions about God that are true regardless of what anyone thinks.

Are there objective truths about God?

Bill discusses 3 objections to the idea that there are objective truths about God. Each objection seeks to make religion subjective, (true for each person, like food preferences or clothing fashion).

Objection #1:The Challenge of Verificationism

The first challenge is that religious claims cannot be verified using the 5 senses, and therefore religious statements are objectively meaningless.

Consider the statement “Only propositions that can be verified with the 5 senses are meaningful”. That statement cannot be verified with the 5 senses. If the statement is true, it makes itself meaningless. It’s self-refuting.

Objection #2: The Challenge of Mystical Anti-Realism

The second challenge is that religious claims, and claims about God, are neither true nor false.

Consider the statement “Propositions about God cannot be true or false”. Craig asks – why should we accept that? Any reason given would have to assert something about God that is true or false, and those reasons would contradict the original statement. For example, “God is too great to be grasped by human categories of thought” is a proposition about God that the speaker thinks is true, which contradicts the original assertion.

Objection #3: The Challenge of Radical Pluralism

The third challenge is that each person invents an entire reality of their own, and that there is no mind-independent objective world shared by individuals.

Consider the statement “There is no objective reality shared by all individuals”. That statement is a statement that applies to all individuals, regardless of what they think.  It’s self-refuting.

Conclusion

Craig ends the lecture by arguing that it is OK for Christians to think that other people’s views are false. It does not follow that just because someone thinks other people’s views are wrong that they am going to mistreat other people. In fact, in Christianity it is objectively true that it is good for Christians to love their enemies. It is objectively true that all human beings have value, because human beings are made by God. So even if Christians disagree with others, they still treat them well, because they think that there are moral truths that they have to conform to.

My thoughts

Sometimes, non-Christians think that it is dangerous to hold beliefs too strongly. But I think what really matters is the content of the belief – some beliefs are false and some are true – you want to believe the true beliefs as strongly as you can, as long as the evidence warrants it. In Christianity, I am absolutely obligated to treat people with whom I disagree with respect and gentleness (1 Pet 3:15-16). The more convinced I am about that belief, the better my opponents will be treated. A stronger belief in Christianity means more tolerance for those who disagree.

Why do non-Christians get so offended when Christians claim to be right about there being only one way to be rightly related to God? Well, for many it’s because their worldview is a personal preference, and they feel uncomfortable having to defend it rationally and evidentially – which is what Christians do that makes us so different from everyone else. For most people, religion is just their cultural preference – like cooking style, or favorite sport, or clothing style. That’s why they respond to your truth claims with name-calling like “you’re intolerant” and “you’re judgemental” and “you’re arrogant”. These are just shorthand ways of saying, “I’m offended that you’ve thought things through more than I have, and that your careful arguments and evidence make the blind faith that I was raised in look bad – so I’ll just call you a name rather than do any thinking about what you’re saying”.

This happens a lot with insecure people who are raised to think that their religion is a racial, national or cultural identity. They haven’t thought anything through, or considered any alternatives, and they think that if you tell them they are wrong  on matters of fact that somehow this amounts to some sort of racism or prejudice. You make factual claims, and they hear discrimination. But that’s not how Christians think of religion – we only care if it’s true or not – just like we care whether the claims of history or science are true or not. For many non-Christians, religion is not about truth at all but about personal preferences – and they cannot understand why Christians say that they have to go to Hell for having the wrong personal preferences. You have to tell them that religion is about truth. Then they understand why you are disagreeing with them and you can have a conversation about what is true.

For further study

debate between a Christian and a postmodern, featuring Christian scholar Peter Williams and a very strange liberal person. This audio really makes it clear why people are opposed to objective truth claims about religion. Williams’ opponent is the epitome of postmodern relativist irrational universalism.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The blind men and the elephant: an argument for religious pluralism?

From Please Convince Me, a post by Aaron outlining 7 problems with the blind man and the elephant story.

Here’s the set up:

Maybe you’ve heard the parable of the six blind men and the elephant. In this parable, six blind men feel a different part of an elephant and come to different conclusions regarding what the elephant is actually like.

One blind man grabs the tusk and says, “An elephant is like a spear!” Another feels the trunk and concludes, “An elephant is like a snake!” The blind man hugging the leg thinks, “An elephant is like a tree!” The one holding the tail claims, “An elephant is like a rope!” Another feeling the ear believes, “An elephant is like a fan!” The last blind man leaning on the elephant’s side exclaims, “An elephant is like a wall!”

This parable is often used to illustrate a view known as religious pluralism. Like the blind men, no religion hasthe truth. Rather, all religions are true in that they accurately describe their personal experience and the spiritual reality they encounter, given various historical and cultural backgrounds.

There are various types of religious pluralism, but one way to define it is as follows: “the view that all religious roads – certainly all major or ethical ones – lead to God or to ultimate reality and salvation.”1 This idea is commonly reflected in such statements as “All religions basically teach the same thing” or “All roads lead to the top of the mountain.”

The elephant parable, while attractive to many, suffers from a number of problems.

And here’s one problem:

Problem #4: The parable commits the self-excepting fallacy.

The religious pluralist who tells this parable claims everyone is blind, except the religious pluralist himself! In other words, there is an objective perspective presented here. However, if all religious views are essentially blind, this would include the religious view of religious pluralism. But the religious pluralist conveniently exempts himself, having somehow escaped the spiritual blindness which has enveloped all other religious views and has come to see the truth of religious pluralism! In so doing, the religious pluralist claims to have the only objective perspective:

In fact, he wouldn’t know that the blind men were wrong unless he had an objective perspective of what was right! So if the person telling the parable can have an objective perspective, why can’t the blind men? They could – if the blind men suddenly could see, they too would realize that they were originally mistaken. That’s really an elephant in front of them and not a wall, fan, or rope. We too can see the truth in religion. Unfortunately, many of us who deny there’s truth in religion are not actually blind but only willfully blind. We may not want to admit that there’s truth in religion because that truth will convict us. But if we open our eyes and stop hiding behind the self-defeating nonsense that truth cannot be known, then we’ll be able to see the truth as well.5

5 Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 49.

Read the whole thing!

UPDATE: Greg West of The Poached Egg tweets an announcement of his post on the same topic.

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