Best Argument Against Biblical Fundamentalism

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Awesomelyglorious
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10 Jul 2012, 11:54 pm

AngelRho wrote:
@Awesomelyglorious: Whether one can be identified as an authentic Christian or not really is irrelevant, though. What matters is whether someone really is, i.e. whether God can identify them as His own.

Except that it is entirely relevant. If a person who is indistinguishable from other Christians later is found not a Christian, then frankly, saying "Christians never leave" is pretty much a No True Scotsman. I mean, you can say "scripture says", but you aren't actually tracking variables about the individuals in the first place. So, while I admit that it is not entirely ad hoc, it's also such a poor fit for the variables that it may as well be.

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P=P whether or not P is known, and that's the logical issue here. Verification of something doesn't magically bring it into existence. Whether you are saved or not is a matter between you and God. Taking people at their word and judging them by their actions are all we have, and even THEN you can't say with 100% certainty whether one's faith is genuine. Personally, I believe in giving people the benefit of a doubt unless I have reason to believe otherwise. Maybe that makes me naïve or gullible, but I believe it does people more than their fair share of justice. That's the very least I feel I can do.

The issue isn't that verification of something brings it into existence, only that the label of "Christian" in it's usage has to be applied to known set of people. If you can't actually know who is a Christian, then the label really does get to be used in an arbitrary/ad hoc manner. I mean, if we live in some reality where we can't tell whether we've seen a Christian or not, then we haven't seen one. Why? Because there is supposed to be a difference so that people can see that difference and be drawn to the wonder of Christ. So.... if I can't see the difference, then we have some reason to suspect that there is no divine influence on those of faith, AKA, there are no Christians by your definition of Christian.

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The Scotsman fallacy, on the other hand, is employed as a way of avoiding something that is seen as an unpleasant truth. You can't say that a "true Christian" will do or not do X or Y because even Christians at their best are still imperfect. So what makes a Christian a genuine Christian has to go beyond their actions. I wouldn't say that a professing Christian behaving badly is necessarily a false Christian, but based on behavior I might call the authenticity of their faith into question, or even that the evidence of their faith is unfavorable.

I recognize that. The issue is that in a situation like this is that you're either stuck saying that we really ought to be able to identify true Christians and yet really cannot, or we can identify them, but we can't know whether they are saved. Either one gets us in a bind.

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At any rate, a genuine faith is an unshakeable one, which I think is the real test. "Loss of faith" might be due to different factors. One might be that one never possessed a saving faith in the first place. Another could be that one might be saved but at some point fall prey to negative secular influences, whatever they might be, and struggle at acknowledging what they really do believe. They may even claim to be atheists or agnostic for a while. But if the work of salvation is already done, it is impossible to fully turn away from it. Saying "I'm an atheist" is more an attempt to convince oneself of a falsehood than it is to convince others, and given time it could very well be that the "backslider" could return to a public life of faith. But I do think having an actual experience would make this very difficult to do, to actually turn away from faith, so I'm more likely to believe that one was never saved in the first place.

Well, people with actual experiences still leave the faith and become very committed atheists. So.... yeah. The issue is then, what does the Holy Spirit look like? If Christians can't identify it, so as to allow intersubjective identification of who really is a Christian and who is not, how do we even know it's acting upon individuals at all, and that they aren't just having some delusions? I mean, if three different people perceive an object, we should expect all three of them to agree easily, and that any person who has not seen it to be unable to agree at all, or to be easily identified as a fake. But within Christianity, we have tons of people who say they've met God, Jesus, and all the rest, but... then they leave and were never identified as a fake while in there, despite perhaps even taking a pastoral role in the church or some other prominent position and exercising it with great devotion for years. I mean.... maybe they're just a really deceived individual about their faith, but.... the fact that this does happen seems very unusual if there is actually a legitimate faith experience.



Rocky
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11 Jul 2012, 4:44 am

Instead of using the term "True Christian," we could use the term "Lifelong Christian." That is terminology that we could all agree on, since it doesn't claim more it should. We can all agree that Matt Dillahunty was not a lifelong Christian. We can at least agree about that.
If, on the other hand, he had suddenly died as a child, before he could become an atheist, you theists would say that he was a true Christian. He would then be a "lifelong Christian." I would say that would be irrelevant to the question of being a "true Christian."


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Alfonso12345
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11 Jul 2012, 8:46 am

AngelRho wrote:
At any rate, a genuine faith is an unshakeable one, which I think is the real test. "Loss of faith" might be due to different factors. One might be that one never possessed a saving faith in the first place. Another could be that one might be saved but at some point fall prey to negative secular influences, whatever they might be, and struggle at acknowledging what they really do believe. They may even claim to be atheists or agnostic for a while.


There could be one other factor. It could be that the god you believe in has already planned out ahead of time who will go to Hell and who will not, meaning there is no such thing as salvation or free will. If this being is totally omniscient then it knows everything that will happen before it ever happens, so free will can't exist. If there is free will then it can't be omniscient.