Posts Tagged ‘Unbelievable’

An Unbelievable? Podcast

May 17, 2013

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters podcast? Let’s talk about it today on Deeper Waters.

I actually just finished the interview for the Deeper Waters podcast about half an hour or so ago. This time, I interviewed Justin Brierley of Unbelievable? and talked with him about the show Unbelievable? and about the conference of the same name happening annually in the U.K.

Unbelievable? has been one of my favorite shows since I’ve started listening. Justin Brierley is a wonderful host/moderator who brings on excellent guests and who manages to remain quite neutral in his presentation. If you really want to hear both sides of a debate sometime, just turn on Unbelievable? and see what you find. As Justin and I discussed, sometimes the atheist does do better. Sometimes the Christian does better. That is life. For those interested, I have often written into the show and spoken about how badly a Christian has done in debate. In fact, for those even more curious, I was once a guest on the show. (See January of 2010 for my debate there on the problem of evil after the Haiti earthquake.)

Justin and I talk on the show about the state of the church in the U.K. Contrary to what I used to think, it is not a spiritual wasteland over there. There are bright lights that are shining, and I consider Unbelievable? to be one of them. We need to keep in mind that there are strong pillars of Christianity that exist over there, including someone like N.T. Wright.

We also talked about the show and how it has come along and the great guests that have come on. Justin said some guests have been good and some haven’t. Some could be great writers and just not meant to a debate style like that which is done on Unbelievable?. The show has also been an education for him, something I’ve noticed in my brief time hosting a podcast. The show is often a chance for me to get my own education in interviewing guests on so many great topics.

There was also talk about the Unbelievable? conference that takes place annually in the U.K. This year, the conference will be focused highly on C.S. Lewis, seeing as it’s the 50th anniversary of his death. There will be discussions on Lewis and the imagination, Lewis and the problem of pain, and even what would C.S. Lewis say to the new atheists?

I highly encourage my readers to be listening to the Deeper Waters podcast. It’s really exciting to be bringing out the best in Christian apologetics. We plan on having more and more scholars show up. Yet while listening to my show, I also encourage you to listen to the Unbelievable? podcast. It is a podcast that I never miss and if I’m on vacation and have to listen to two podcasts one after the other, well that’s what I do. Unbelievable? is that good.

For those interested, the interview with Justin Brierley can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Determining What’s True

March 4, 2013

How do we study the Bible historically? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

After my blog post on the problem with fundamenatlism, I was asked on TheologyWeb that if by chance the Bible was not inerrant, how would we know what parts were true and what parts weren’t? This is a good question to ask.

Relatedly, on the latest Unbelievable? a skeptical teenager from Australia was on the line asking about the accounts of Judas’s death in Matthew and Acts. His contention was that if one of these was shown to be unreliable then everything in the Bible was unreliable, and the impression was given that this would go down to the crucifixion itself.

Both of these show a great concern to have. A Christian can be left with the attitude of “The only way I know that Jesus rose from the dead is that the Bible says so!” Meanwhile, the atheist can come with the idea that “If I find one mistake in the Bible, I can’t take any of it as historically reliable.”

This approach is highly problematic especially since one would not use it on any other work of ancient history. If you were reading an account of Plutarch and you found that he made a historical error at one point, you would not say “Oh well. So much for Plutarch!” If we are reading Josephus and we find that he made a historical error at one part, we do not say “So much for Josephus!” If we did this with ancient historians, we would know nothing about ancient history. For that matter, we would know nothing about modern history either since modern historians make mistakes.

Some of you are saying “Surely no one would make a mistake like that!”

Frank Zindler does.

Who is Frank Zindler? Listen to Bob Price’s description of him.

“One of the most effective (not to mention hilarious) speakers for atheism and secular humanism today is Frank Zindler, author, linguist, translator, Bible scholar, and scientist—truly a Renaissance Man.

He is an advocate as well for the much-despised but increasingly hard to ignore Christ Myth hypothesis, which he has ably defended in books such as The Jesus the Jews Never Knew and articles like “Where Jesus Never Walked.” ”

Apparently, the criteria for being a Bible scholar is having an opinion. Zindler is not a Bible scholar. To say the Christ-Myth is hard to ignore is like saying loud music as you get closer to a concert is hard to ignore. Want an example of what Zindler says?

“When the author of Matthew read Mark’s version, he saw the impossibility of Jesus and the gang disembarking at Gerasa (which, by the way, was also in a different country, the so-called Decapolis). Since the only town in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee that he knew of that started with G was Gadara, he changed Gerasa to Gadara. But even Gadara was five miles from the shore – and in a different country. Later copyists of the Greek manuscripts of all three pig-drowning gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) improved Gadara further to Gergesa, a region now thought to have actually formed part of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. So much for the trustworthiness of the biblical tradition.

No ancient historian would take this approach. It is an absurd all-or-nothing approach. We encourage Zindler to do the same with any other work of history and see what he winds up believing about history.

Now someone might say “Well the Bible is supposed to be the Inerrant Word of God!”

Yeah. So what?

How does one get from that to “If there is one mistake, then everything in it is wrong”? If you show an error in the Bible, this is what you demonstrate.

“The Bible has an error.”

You do not demonstrate that everything in the Bible is error by showing one thing is. Let’s do the opposite end. Let’s suppose I demonstrate Jesus was crucified. Would you take that to mean “Now everything in the Bible is true!” No. Not at all. I woul dnot want you to either. That would be dumb.

What do we do then? We do what we are supposed to do. We study the text.

It means we get scholarship on both sides. It means we weigh the issues out. It means we avoid just one approach. It requires we work. We also accept some things can never be proven or disproven. Let’s suppose we read about a skirmish between two individuals in a Roman biography. That could be hard to prove or disprove. Let’s suppose then instead we read about the conquest of a city. That is much easier to prove or disprove. For the former, it could be a position of faith, in that faith will be seen as believing something to be trustworthy and reliable. It is giving the author the benefit of the doubt where we find general reliability.

This is also the method the apostles encouraged. They gave evidence that Jesus had risen. Miracles were one kind of evidence. Eyewitness testimony was another. This was how the Gospels were written as well. Luke explicitly states that he knows of many eyewitnesses and reports and he made a thorough investigation.

Inerrancy is not a position that we assume. It is one we reason to. If the Bible is without error, we should be able to demonstrate that insofar as it is possible. If we truly think it is, we should be more than happy to have it investigated. If we think Jesus rose from the dead, we should be open to historical investigation into that matter.

For our atheist friends, they need to realize that showing one error in the Bible does not show all of it is false or suspect any more than it would for any other work of ancient history. Are they just as willing to examine both sides, such as the evidence that Jesus rose or the evidence that miracles have happened? So far, the number I’ve seen that do that are minimal.

Perhaps that’s because they’re really the ones that are people of faith.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Homophobia Fails

April 23, 2012

What were my thoughts on the debate on homosexual marriage on Unbelievable? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently on Unbelievable?, host Justin Brierley had a debate on homosexual marriage between Peter Tatchell and Peter D. Williams. Tatchell has been a lifelong advocate of what he prefers to call “gay rights.” Peter D. Williams is an apologist who works with Catholic Voices. There will be a link to the program at the end.

To begin with, this is a debate I thought was an absolute trounce on the part of Williams. Williams knew the material that Tatchell was citing and what the problem was with it. Furthermore, Williams himself never appealed to Scripture to defend his case so it wasn’t just “The Bible says so.” (I have heard some apologists say they think homosexuality is wrong just because the Bible says so. I really don’t think this is the way to go. It’s not that X is true because the Bible says so. The Bible says X because it is true.)

I could tell the way the debate was going to go when right at the start Tatchell started talking about homophobia. Williams was right when he said that this is more often a way of shutting down debate. It becomes more about the motives of the person presenting the argument rather than the argument itself.

Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Williams really did have a hatred towards homosexuals and homosexuality. Let’s suppose that he was filled with nothing but vitriol towards them and thought that they were less than human in any sense of the word.

Question. Does that make his arguments against homosexual marriage wrong?

No. It just makes him a jerk. He could be entirely right in his opinion and entirely wrong in his attitude. It would not work against his argument to say that he was a jerk. You still have to deal with what is said and the claim about someone being homophobic does not do that.

Furthermore, let’s think about this. What does the term mean? Phobias are not funny things. They’re terrifying things. I have a phobia of water for instance. My wife and I honeymooned at Ocean Isle Beach and it took a lot for her to get me into the water. I got out into the ocean deeper than I ever had before. Most noteworthy was she got me into the pool about 5 feet deep and away from the edge.

There was a part of me that was inside screaming “My wife is trying to kill me!” while I was doing that, but the rational side of me was saying “My wife loves me and if anything does happen, she’s fully capable of saving me.” I did trust her. It took a lot, but I trusted her.

Now let’s suppose someone was walking by who saw this and said “Wow! Look at that! The little wimp is afraid of water!” Now some of you might think that fear is bizarre, but there would not be sympathy for someone who holds that kind of attitude. I can assure them they would need to pray for God to have mercy if my Mrs. had heard that because she sure wouldn’t.

Phobias are not terms you should use to mock or denigrate someone and yet that is exactly what the term homophobia is. It is the idea that the only reason Christians are against homosexuality is because they are afraid of it or homosexuals. Does that mean I have kleptophobia because I’m opposed to theft? Do I have nymphophobia if I am opposed to sex outside of marriage? Do I have homocidophobia if I am opposed to murder? Could it actually be that I might have moral reasons for objecting to homosexuality?

The next term Tatchell used regularly was discrimination. This is playing the victim card because who wants to be on the side of the discriminators. The reality is that we all do discriminate on various topics. We discriminate on who we’re friends with, who we do business with, who we marry, and who we have sit our kids.

The law itself discriminates. You have to be a certain age to drive. You have to be a certain age to vote. You have to be a certain age to drink alcohol. If you want to carry a gun, you have to show that you are qualified to do that. This is discrimination and it is good discrimination.

Williams made the point that Tatchell is not denied any right. He is wanting different rights. He’s correct. No one has the right to marry someone of the same sex. Instead, everyone has the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, and even then there’s some discrimination, such as that you can’t marry a close family member.

Williams is also right when asking “Why not polygamy?” We could go further and ask “Why not NAMBLA?” or “Why not incest?” Now for polygamy Tatchell was of the opinion that no one would want that. He can say that, but I’m pretty sure the Mormon church here in America would certainly get a “new revelation” if polygamy became allowed.

One important aspect of the debate was that marriage sets a normative route for society that shows what is needed for the ideal raising of children. It doesn’t mean that all marriages have children or will have children, but it means that children are ideally raised by a mother and a father both. Of course, there are some tragedies that happen, such as the death of a spouse, that leave some single parents, and these can do very admirable jobs, but I am sure most would say it would be a whole lot easier if the other spouse was around.

The key point was in the idea of which sex it is that is not needed to raise a child. For me, this is the main point. Allowing homosexual marriage will be saying that men and women are really interchangeable. There is no difference between the two. Which sex will be the one to be cast aside? It’s very easy to tell you that. Fathers will be seen as superfluous.

Being a man means something. It matters. Being a woman means something. It matters. I am thankful God made me a man and when the Princess and I have children some day, as we hope to, I will be very pleased that I get to be a father and she gets to be the mother of my children and we will both play our essential roles in their proper raising.

Let’s hope the society in the U.K. recognizes what marriage really is, the union of a man and a woman, and let’s also hope that here in the states we do the same thing. For those of us who are married, let’s start living the joyful life of marriage for a watching world. The reason other people lessen marriage is because we did it ourselves in the first place.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The debate can be found here:

http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid=45A7CC8B-2EE9-4394-B030-54C00AA7CA39

Temple of the Future on Morality

May 17, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’d like today to write on something that Justin Brierley presented on the Unbelievable Facebook page. It’s an article on a site called “Temple of the Future” concerning morality and biblical truth. It can be found here.

Temple starts off with discussing recent programs of Unbelievable. To be fair, I have not got to listen to the most recent one yet on women in ministry. However, does the first one mentioned of a look at Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” really have much to do with morality? It’s quite likely that most evangelicals would agree with Bell on several moral issues. My opinion on “Love Wins” is coming sometime soon, but regardless of whether Bell is right or wrong, the question is not about whether an action is right or wrong. Bell could be a universalist or not be a universalist and still believe murder is wrong.

What of the program on the true face of Islam? It’s a wonder that this is being seen as something on the Bible when this is really something on the Koran if anything. An atheist could have been a guest on the show and could have stated that Bin Laden was or wasn’t the true face of Islam. If he knew what the teachings were in the Koran or Hadith, then he could have presented what he believed to be an accurate argument for whatever position he held. Again, whether Bin Laden was or wasn’t the true face of Islam doesn’t matter to me at this point.

The last one is the closest one we have to a moral issue, but is it really so much a moral issue? Does anyone really believe someone would go to Hell, for instance, for having a female minister? Augustine dealt with a question similar to this back with the Donatist teaching. What if someone was baptized by someone who was a heretic? Does that mean their salvation is null and void? Augustine said no.

Temple says it is foolish to let the questions of morality become exercises in literary criticism.

However, what is actually meant by literary criticism? Here are the main issues that we can raise.

Is the text that we have what we had then? This would be textual criticism. Whether what the text says is true or not does not really matter. Even if all that say, Paul wrote in Romans, is wrong, does that mean we don’t have what he originally wrote? All we want to know is if we have what he wrote.

What style is the writing in? Are we going to take Revelation in a literal sense? When Jesus says “Pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin” is he to be taken literally? At the same time, when he says “Love your neighbor as yourself” is that to be taken literally, and how do we know when to take the text literally and when not? This is part of hermeneutics, that is, the art of interpretation of a text.

Finally, we come to the questions of “What does the text mean?” and then for our personal application “What does it mean to us personally today?” The first question is the most important one although we usually skip to the second. What does the text mean? This can also be a difficult one, but it’s not just with the biblical text. It’s with any text. We wonder what the text means in Plato, the Upanishads, the Koran, Nietzsche, government laws, or just ordinary conversation. ALL texts must be interpreted and some interpretations are right and some are wrong.

Turning to the program on church leaders, Temple simply says this is a dumb question to be asking. Why? Because it’s not the way most people in the 21st century think. So what? If someone wants to remain faithful to a text, it’s an important question to ask if there’s debate on what the text means. Granted, it’s not the most fascinating topic to the secular man, but again, so what? Are Christians forced to have debates and define debates in the way that the secular person prefers?

Temple sees this as discrimination when we don’t allow women to be in ministry. To begin with, it is discrimination, but that assumes all discrimination is wrong. My work place is discriminatory. They only allow men to go into the men’s room and they only allow women to go into the women’s room.

The Boy scouts are discriminatory. You have to be a boy to participate. Places that give senior citizen discounts are discriminatory as you have to be at least 65 to get one. Restaurants that say kids eat free are discriminatory since you have to be a kid in order to eat for free.

The question is “What is the basis for the discrimination.” Does the Bible say women should not be in ministry because they are inferior? It would be good to see such a text. The closest Temple points to is Ephesians 2:22-24. Nowhere mentioned however is that the man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church which is hardly a dominating theme. As a married man, it calls me to constant self-sacrifice for my wife. Now do some people misuse this text? Of course. People can misuse any text, but does Temple want us to think the text has no meaning and is open to any interpretation. If so, then can he really say that the text teaches the inferiority of women? Can I not say “That’s just your interpretation.”?

Temple writes about two scholars of Shakespeare’s works and how they disagree over the meaning of what Shakespeare said and asks if we could ever come to a conclusion on what Shakespeare meant. Temple tells us that of course we couldn’t. Temple tells us that like any complete text, it’s open to interpretation.

Okay. Agreed. It is open to interpretation.

Then he says multiple valid interpretations.

Is this really the case? He would have to demonstrate this. Is he saying that supposing Paul wrote Ephesians that Paul believed in the inferiority of women and didn’t believe in the inferiority of women both? How could this be? If Paul puts the meaning into the text, then the text can only mean one thing. It could be difficult or even impossible for us to find out what he meant, but that does not mean that there is no meaning.

Furthermore, why should I believe that we could never reach a conclusion on what Shakespeare meant? Who knows what the future will hold. I’m certainly open to the possibility that we could someday. Temple just takes it as a foregone conclusion that we won’t. Where does this knowledge of the future come from?

Temple says to build our morality on the Bible is to be build it on sinking sand.

We’ve seen this song and dance before. One would think that Temple would have some familiarity with Natural Law thinking. Does he not read any Christian ethicists who argue not from Scripture but from the basis of Natural Law? Does he read someone like Budziszewski in a work such as “The Line Through The Heart”?

Of course, in the comments, he does present the Euthyphro dilemma as if this is something embarrassing to Christians. Granted, most don’t know how to answer it, but the answer is to ask what goodness is and if it can be defined apart from God. I believe it can just like Aristotle did and when we define goodness, which is that at which all things aim according to Aristotle, we eventually realize that God is that which is goodness in being being itself. Temple could read Aquinas in the Summa Theologica for information on goodness and the goodness of God.

The point is that this is the same idea we’ve seen over and over. So many today arguing against morality believe that Christians use the Bible and only the Bible, not realizing the Bible itself argues against such a claim in passages like Romans 2. Are we to think when the Israelites got the Ten Commandments that they had no idea murder was wrong before that? Of course not. Moses himself made sure, though not doing a good job of it apparently, to make sure no one was watching when he killed an Egyptian.

Hopefully atheists and others will soon stop making this argument and start actually interacting with Christian positions.

A Response To Paul Baird

March 30, 2011

Welcome back everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. The time has come for me to address the question that I said earlier that belongs to Paul Baird. Thus far, I have found Baird to be an atheist highly capable of dialogue and when a serious question like the one he has rises up, I wish to deal with it.

Basically, the question concerns the justice of God. Is it the case that Hitler could have prayed a prayer before he died and repented and wound up in Heaven while at the same time a Jew who had simply rejected Christ all his life and died in the gas camps would go to Hell?

How is that just?

It’s a good question and an understandable one, so let’s put into play some parameters for our discussion.

First, biblically, anyone who commits any sin whatsoever knowingly and unknowingly justifiably deserves Hell. Note that I am not saying that Hell is deserved to the same degree. I do believe there are degrees of sins just as there are degrees of acts of grace.

Second, there is no action that one can do that could merit eternal favor with God on one’s own. One has to come to God on God’s terms. You cannot do a good deed in order to cancel out a bad deed.

Third, apart from the saving work of Jesus on the cross, no one past, present, or future from that event would have any chance of salvation.

Is God’s system fair? Well let’s suppose that instead he had a system that was arbitrary clearly. In order to merit eternal life, at the end of your game, you have to have 1,000 points. Bad actions cost points and good ones gain them. Why 1000? Just because. Why how many points each action has? THhat’s just because also. You lose, say, 700 for murder and gain 2 for helping a little old lady across the street. You’d on the other hand gain 700 if you threw yourself on a live grenade to save innocents.

Is such a system fair? Hardly. It’s arbitrary and leaves the person in chaos wondering if they are or are not going to make it. What do we need? We need to get rid of the points system altogether. What if we had more of an all-or-nothing system related to good deeds as well?

Say, what if we had a system that meant one was on the path they needed to be on following as best they could and not rejecting the true path?

I believe this is a closer description. For those outside the body of Christ, I believe it’s best to say that frankly, we don’t know. We do know however that the judge of all the Earth will do right. No one will be able to say on the last day “It wasn’t fair.”

Someone like Hitler also will have a harder time repenting. The further you move from the light, the less likely you are to return to it. For the seeker, the closer you get to the light, the more likely you are to turn to it.

Now this has been an interesting diversion but keep in mind, it is a diversion. The truth of Christianity does not hinge on this. If Christ is not raised, then this is all just speculation that will never matter. Now if Christ has been raised, then this is important thinking on a topic that raises much controversy but is secondary The real question is “Did Jesus rise.” One should not reject God over a secondary question.

So I would put the question in my opponent’s course. What have you done to answer the question of “Did Jesus Rise?”

Presuppositional Apologetics on Unbelievable

March 25, 2011

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve finished up our study of the Watchtower booklet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” so now, I’m going to look at some other topics for the time being before the next big project. One topic I want to look at is the recent usage of presuppositional apologetics.

This was featured recently on Justin Brierley’s incredible program Unbelievable. The debate was between Christian Sye Tenbruggencate and atheist Paul Baird. This was round two of the debate. Now I do think round one that had been recorded last year went to Sye, but this time, I give the win to Paul and I wish now to critique some points from Sye’s presentation. Tomorrow, I could spend the blog answering an objection of Paul’s to Christianity presented on the show.

I have been in interaction with Sye and I have not been impressed by what I have seen. Sye had said on the air that other approaches to apologetics that did not presuppose God’s existence or start with Scripture were sinful. As an apologist using those other methods, I strongly disagree. I find that when the apostles dialogued in the book of Acts with unbelievers, they started with what their opponents knew and accepted as authoritative. If I am a non-Christian, I have no reason to accept Sye’s presuppositions. He needs to argue from the presuppositions of my worldview to convince me.

That having been said, I’m not ready to throw out the window what would be called the argument from reason. I do think there is something to the idea that if we find that our reason is the result of an accident, that there could be some reason to distrust it. We all seem to have this belief that our minds can interact with the world and tell us things about it and this is something fascinating worth studying.

If someone thinks they can use such an argument to demonstrate the existence of God, I say more power to them. It is not one I would use so there do not need to be any responses telling me why I should not accept the argument. I would accept a different form based on Aquinas’s fourth way, but it is not the presuppositional argument.

Looking at the debate, Paul did state to Sye that he was willing to grant theism so can Sye get him to specifically Christian theism? Much of the show was devoted to that and the hope was never delivered. Sye would say a nonsense sentence in response like “Pizza three music lamp green.” Well I’m sure at that that every Muslim out there was ready to repent and come to Jesus.

The argument from reason, like any other theistic argument, cannot get you to the Christian God. They do not rule out the Christian God either. They can get you to theism. This is a criticism many of the new atheists make of theistic arguments and sadly, many strongly Calvinistic Christians do. I have heard some say they dismiss the Five Ways for instance because those don’t get you to the Christian God specifically. Aquinas would say they were never supposed to. This is not to criticize Calvinism however. Someone can be a Calvinist and agree entirely with what I’m saying.

What Sye’s charge is is that people use logic and reason without a basis for the validity of logic and reason and they need God for that. Okay. Let’s suppose I grant that. Christianity is not the only system that can justify logic and reason in that case. Judaism can. Islam can. Deism can. Some cults could make such a claim. Aristotle himself would have had a basis for his logic and reason as well.

Sye’s response would be “But you don’t need a generic god! You need the true God!” I agree in a sense. Only the true God could account for reality. However, Sye’s argument is that it is inconsistent to trust logic without a basis for it. If that’s the case, any of the theistic systems win on the question of consistency. However, while something must not be consistent to be true, it’s being consistent does not mean that it is true. I believe the Bible has no contradictions, but that does not mean that if it had no contradictions it would be ipso facto true. If the Harry Potter series has no contradictions, that does not make it historical.

There has also been the case that man cannot know anything about God apart from the revelation of Scripture. I find it interesting that it seems Romans 1:20 is a verse that is used to defend this position when in fact, I think that it argues just the opposite position. Let’s look at the verse:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The Apostle Paul is arguing in Romans 1 that God is angry with the Gentiles for how they’ve lived. In Romans 2 however, he argues that the Jews are just as guilty. However, their condemnation is in some ways worse because they have the Scriptures and they still do not live as they ought. Thus, it is implicit in Romans 1 that these are people without the Scripture but only have general revelation.

These people are without excuse. Why? Because they do know there is a call to their lives. After all, Romans 2 makes it clear that the testimony of the law is written on their hearts. They know right and wrong as general revelation. (Another point for the new atheists to learn. You do not need the Bible to know right from wrong and the Bible is not the moral standard) Still, the gentiles are doing what is wrong.

Thus, they are without excuse. They know enough about the true God to know that he could not be contained by idols and such representations, but they do it anyway. Now does this mean this knowledge of the true God is salvific? Not necessarily. There is the question of those who’ve never heard of course and there is debate on that, but just having a right concept of God insofar as it goes is not enough to bring about salvation.

In fact, that’s what we have in other religions. Muslims and Jews both have some right beliefs about God. The arguments for natural theology can be used by the Muslims and Jews just as well as by the Christians. Of course, when it comes to special revelation, this is where they differ. Sye’s argument would say you need a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, immutable, etc. Well Jews and Muslims believe in that kind of God. “But that’s not the true God!” This is where we come to the main point.

There is not a single philosophical argument that can be used to prove Christianity. That does not mean philosophy is useless of course. Philosophy can defend the Trinity once Scripture establishes it. Philosophy can support the belief systems of Christianity. Philosophy can guide our thinking so we think rightly when studying the Scriptures. However, you cannot use just thinking and get to the point of saying “God revealed Himself in Jesus through Jesus’s death and resurrection and I need to believe on Him for eternal life.”

Philosophy can get you to God, but it will not get you to the cross. The cross and the empty tomb are events that take place in space and time and thus, they need the backing of arguments based on space and time. That is, they need history. You need to demonstrate historically that Jesus rose from the dead. Even if you could philosophically disprove other systems, it would not historically demonstrate Christianity, which is a historic faith resting on historical events.

Thus, I consider the argument as used for theism, one that is workable, but to say it works only for Christian theism, I deem it a failure in that sense. Let us not make the mistake of thinking what would not want to be thought, that with our reason alone we can reach a saving knowledge of God. We cannot. We need him to reach down to us and we need to use history to understand how he did so.