Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Belief, Religious Pluralism, and Logical Consistency

In my previous post about self-named Christians who seek to demythologize Christ, I read a number of interesting comments.

MethoDeist takes issue with my claim that those who do not believe in the divinity of Christ are wrong:

I must disagree with this statement as well, "behavior is, however based upon inaccurate conclusions, internally rational." My conclusions are fair from innaccurate as all theology is based on faith and not on evidence regardless of what people may claim. The Christian religion is not an evidence based religion as its central tenets cannot be proven by empirical evidence just as I cannot prove my beliefs either.

Remember, it is faith that we believe on not evidence. So, my beliefs have just as much validity as yours and vice versa. Can both be correct as you asked? No, but without evidence to support or deny the conclusions we can never truly move beyond this question into which is the one true faith.

As a pluralist, I accept that we all have metaphysical positions that are based on faith and that the spiritual is not limited to out small conceptions of God. Our conceptions are important to us but are just that, conceptions. My conception allows me to experience God in all the ways that we should and I know that my wifes conception allows her to do the same even though we have different beliefs.

And Dave wrote:

I think, John, your list of either one is right, the other is right, or they're both wrong is a little too simplistic. For me, religion can't fit into such tight boxes, nor does it.

All I know is that God is larger than my understanding and because of that, I have no authority to say who is right and who is wrong. I can only say what works best for me. I wouldn't dare say that Christianity is downright wrong and some other conception is absolutely right. If I don't know everything, and I certainly don't, I have no right to judge the veracity of another belief system as a whole one way or the other.

For me, my conception of God leaves open the "both...and..." possibility. I don't think and "either...or..." is our only option. That limits God by saying that the faith of everyone but "true" Christians is rooted in lies because the only way to come to an understanding of God is through this one specific religion.

Okay, consider these propositions:

1. Religion A considers all other religions to be wrong except itself.
2. Religion B considers all other religions to be wrong except itself.

Now, one of three possible conclusions is true:
1. Religion A is right.
2. Religion B is right.
3. Both Religions A and B are wrong.

This isn't a matter of spiritual humility or personal feelings and religious experiences; this is a matter of logical consistency. One cannot conclude that both Religions A and B are both equally true because their content is mutually exclusive. If one says that both Religions A and B are true then one is necessarily talking about something other than Religions A and B. So the pluralist is really taking option 3.

Now we can talk about evidence for various religious claims and it can be prudent to be humble about one's ability to know all matters of the divine, but one can't straddle a logical inconsistency.

In like manner, the Virgin Birth hasn't been (historically) described as an abstract concept, but an actual event in 1st Century Palestine. So either:

1. The Virgin Birth happened.
2. The Virgin Birth did not happen.

But it cannot, logically, have both happened and not happened. One side is wrong, and the other is right. If you want to urge people to be humble about feeling certain one way or another, fine, but logic nonetheless dictates that one side is wrong and the other is right.

So, going back to MethoDeist's comment, if I accept a set of religious propositions as true, then I am necessarily accepting that the inverses of these propositions are false. I may be wrong, but I am at least logically consistent. Pluralism cannot make this claim.

37 comments:

Dave said...

Isn't it more fair to say "My read of Religion A/B considers..."? Certainly not every member of said religion considers everyone else to be wrong.

It's this type of exclusivist language and sentiment that feeds the violent factions of religions.

I don't think pluralism is even trying to make a claim that this or that set of religious propositions are true. I don't think it's even making the claim about "right" and "wrong." I think pluralism is being honest in saying that God or the Divine can be found in more places than any single religion and that no one, or no religion, has a monopoly on God.

JD said...

John,

I also see a great deal of "Moral Relativism" and "political correctness" in the above comments by your readers as well. This is a problem that has seeped into American culture because we want to feel comfortable in the way we practice our faith, or live our lives, and at the same time, not hurt someone else's feeling or ideas. There is a great deal of truth in Dave's comment regarding the measurability of faith, but Faith was defined well by Paul in Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." That is what makes faith....faith. I also see a great deal of Americans having trouble taking a stance on things in their life and in society today, thus pluralism.

IMHO...Thanks for the discussion.
PAX
JD

Dave said...

Where is the line between logic and faith?

I don't think it's about political correctness, though that may be what you hear or see. My faith just doesn't require the faith of others to be "wrong" in order for it to be "right" for me.

My faith is ultimately between me and God, not between me, you, and God. Likewise, your faith doesn't give my faith validity and it doesn't make my faith less valid. Though logic may say that if one is right, the inverse is wrong, is logic the proper method to use when talking about faith?

John said...

Isn't it more fair to say "My read of Religion A/B considers..."? Certainly not every member of said religion considers everyone else to be wrong.

No. When there are creedal statements, like 'Christ is the Son of God' or 'Mohammad is the greatest prophet of God', then these are discernable, definable religious propositions.

It's this type of exclusivist language and sentiment that feeds the violent factions of religions.

Not my problem. Blame the nature of logic.

I don't think pluralism is even trying to make a claim that this or that set of religious propositions are true. I don't think it's even making the claim about "right" and "wrong." I think pluralism is being honest in saying that God or the Divine can be found in more places than any single religion and that no one, or no religion, has a monopoly on God.

Pluralism, by your definition, is necessarily in conflict with any religion which claims to have a monopoly on God.

JD said...

Dave,

Someone is wrong, everyone cannot be right. I believe in letting you, or any non-Christian, (not saying you are non-Christian because I don't know you well enough) have your belief, but there are truths in the world, and I will continue to spread the true Gospel of Christ and His redemptive power and grace. God is God and anyone's faith or lack of faith in Him does not cause Him to cease to exist.

We can disagree, and I don't have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with the belief that our faiths in Christ can be equally correct, because they cannot, logically, be equally correct.

I think John's point at the beginning of his post was the fact that being a Christian requires acceptance of Christ as savior. To do that, you must believe in the virgin birth and the resurrection from the dead. If you deny these, then you deny Christ's deity, and in turn, deny His ability to save. In doing that, you cannot be a Christian. I cannot call the sky green, when in fact that it is blue just because I want it to be green, thus I cannot call my self a true Christian by accepting the things I like, and throwing out the things I do not like...moral relativism.

PAX
JD

JD said...

So it is my understanding, Dave, that you profess Value Pluralism?

PAX
JD

Anonymous said...

I love this. Its like watching Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk.

We have one side that states everything must be logical fit neatly into faith claims that can be justified and proven as facts.

We have the other side that states not everything can be logical. They claim faith itself is illogical so why do I need to justify it against other faiths.

So who are you Spock or Kirk?

JD said...

Stephen,

I am beginning to see it as a philisophical debate of moral relativism vs. value pluralism.

John?

PAX
JD

PS: I do love the debate though and I am glad we are having it. :)

Dave said...

Stephen, I think that's just about right.

I'll just end my contributions to this particular debate by re-asking what I had asked above:

Where is the line between logic and faith? And, more fundamentally, is logic the proper method to use when talking about faith?

Richard H said...

John says, "When there are creedal statements, like 'Christ is the Son of God' or 'Mohammad is the greatest prophet of God', then these are discernable, definable religious propositions."

Some folks have read the first few chapters of J.L. Austin's How to Do Things With Words and learned from his theory of performative language. Language, they say, is a DOING of something, not merely a stating of facts. When they come across what looks like a creedal statement, a theological proposition, they take it not to be ABOUT Jesus/God/Church etc., but to be about the faith commitment of the speaker.

Your mistake, they would say, is to mistakenly think that just because it looks like a proposition that it must be understood propositionally. You need to learn from Austin that language is an ACTION.

Of course my comment to these folks is that they need to read the rest of Austin (there is a strong tendency for those who have religious appropriations of his philosophy to only use the beginning of the book). While Austin clearly claims a permaformative DIMENSION to all language, he just as clearly refrains from REDUCING all language to performance.

Though I know it gets off track, one of the best uses of Austin for understanding religious utterances is McClendon & Smith's Convictions

Richard H said...

Dave says, "is logic the proper method to use when talking about faith?"

I don't know if it is THE proper method to use, but given the complexity of faith - that faith is a multi-dimensioned thing - then I'd certainly say it is A proper method to use when talking about faith.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever thought that the law of non-contradiction ("A" does not = "not-A") necessitates that, if a pure pluralism is accepted, then knowledge itself is no longer possible?

I mean, I know that my name is "Daniel" or that I was born in "Louisiana" - these are empirically verifiable propositions which (according to Modernity) we call "facts." They can be known. But, if there were no hard-and-fast categories (like that of "name" or the particular name "Daniel"), if all propositions were true including those which are mutually exclusive to one another, then my name would be just as much "Heather" or "snorkle" as it is "Daniel" and I should just as well be from "sandwich" as from "Louisiana." In other words if we embrace pluralism (and its implicit denial of the law of non-contradiction) then knowledge itself is no longer a reality. And this would suck. ;)

Just for the record then, true knowledge IS a reality (indeed Christ is the "Truth" and the "Word/Promise/Reason of God" that makes knowledge a real possiblity) and therefore pure pluralism is a farse. But a politically convenient one for folks with certain agendas/fears (I think much of what is wrong is at root motivated by fear - which entails the lack of love and trust; thus fear is opposite of faith...faith in turn is a response to that Word/Promise/Reason of God, Jesus Christ).

John B said...

John,

Thanks for standing up for Christ! Too long the pluralists have gone unchallenged with their wishy-washy brand of religion.

There is such a thing as absolute truth. Can any one human being comprehend it? No, but that does not mean that it doesn't exist.

Show me one single example in all of history where there was a spiritual revival founded on religious pluralism. There are none. Pluralism lacks the power to transform lives. Still people wonder why the UMC keeps losing members. Seems to me there's a pretty logical answer.

Andy B. said...

I love Jesus.
Remember when he said, "Go therefore, and compare contrasting sets of religious propositions, making sure that everyone subscribes to your own particular set, and remember I will be with you (and only you) always, until the end of the age."?
Oh, that Jesus - what a Savior!

Anonymous said...

But, c'mon, Andy B, that's what Paul did in the public square and nobody faults him for his evangelistic methods.

Just because people argue religion from an intellectual or apologetic view doesn't make them exclusive jerks, as you seem to imply.

Anonymous said...

To throw a monkey wrench into this topic as great as it is...

What about inclusivism? Seems to me most of the discussion here is exclusivism v. pluralism, but what about the middle ground?

According to Wiki...John Wesley, C. S. Lewis, Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge, John Sanders, Robert Brush, Billy Graham, and the official Roman Catholic stance is inclusivism.

So does inclusivism have a place?

Andy B. said...

Mark, I didn't say anyone is a jerk. I am sorry if you inferred that from my comment.
I meant to imply simply that there is more to following Jesus than deciding who is "right" and "wrong" about doctrine.

Brian said...

I'm so sick of hearing about the "law of non-contradiction" and these other "logic" based arguments as if they prove anything. They're straw men - set up to knock down the other side without accurately representing the other arguments.

There are some very thoughtful, sophisticated arguments for a more open (or pluralistic) view of the world and scripture. I'd suggest reading them - you don't have to agree, but I think there's some value in seeing the complexity of these sorts of arguments.

The problem for me with concepts like the law of non-contradiction is that they try to take complicated, abstract concepts and boil them down into opposing simple, factual statements. Truth claims are complicated and misrepresenting the truth claims of pluralists (for lack of a better term) doesn't add value to the debate.

BruceA said...

When there are creedal statements, like 'Christ is the Son of God' or 'Mohammad is the greatest prophet of God', then these are discernable, definable religious propositions.

I think it would be more accurate, then, to say that one or the other (or both) of these propositional statements is wrong. That's not the same as saying that the entire religion is wrong.

So while I agree with you that an honest pluralist is taking option 3, I also see Dave's point about faith not being that simple. Ultimately, faith cannot be bound by the rules of logic.

Larry B said...

One thing to consider is that the disciplines of logic aren't arbitary rules set up by someone to start a new field. It's the concerted effort to understand the reality around us. Until post modernism entered the scene, the entirety of philosophy was centered on discerning the nature of what was observed. (post modernism injects the idea that the observer is at least in part responsible for creating the reality)

Logic then is simply a set of rules that is consistent with observed reality. If we accept that God is the author of our reality, then he is also the author of logic and there is no good reason not to use logic as a tool for faith. Ignoring the conclusions that logic brings us is in a sense ignoring part of what God has built into nature.

bob said...

Much of the argument seems to center on weather there is a right or wrong faith. I would submit that the Scriptures are pretty clear in their rejection of false gods and of false teachings.As Christians how are we to follow the great commission, Matt28:19,20 Go and make disciples of all nations, if we can't follow our own scriptures and deny that which is false.

John said...

Stephen Fife wrote:

What about inclusivism? Seems to me most of the discussion here is exclusivism v. pluralism, but what about the middle ground?

It's hard to say where the line is. The two extremes -- pluralism and absolute exclusivism don't work. Pluralism, in fact, can't even exist. It is a non-sequitur.

John said...

Brian wrote:

The problem for me with concepts like the law of non-contradiction is that they try to take complicated, abstract concepts and boil them down into opposing simple, factual statements. Truth claims are complicated and misrepresenting the truth claims of pluralists (for lack of a better term) doesn't add value to the debate.

There's a lot of wiggle room in religion -- grey and blurry areas of uncertainty. And there's also a lot of overlapping content between different religions. For example, the superlative qualities of God and Allah are quite similiar (e.g. omniscience, all-powerful, etc). But among the various ideas and sentiments that make up a religion are certain definate statements, such as "Jesus is the Son of God." That's not fuzzy at all, and any religion that rejects or rephrases this statement is necessarily on conflict with that statement. Even if it agrees with every other proposition of that religion, it is still in conflict with that proposition. Hence pluralism is not just uncomfortable or challenging -- it's an intellectual impossibility. So as long as there are certain exclusionary statements in Religions A and B, then Religion A and B cannot be compatible.

John said...

Bob wrote:

Much of the argument seems to center on weather there is a right or wrong faith. I would submit that the Scriptures are pretty clear in their rejection of false gods and of false teachings.

Yes, it is rather odd that this debate is even necessary within the Christian camp.

MethoDeist said...

I did not expect my comments to generate such debate but so far most of the comments have been good.

First, let me define Pluralism. Pluralism does not have anything to do with belief and all to do with experience. Pluralism is an objective understanding of faith in which it is accepted that all religions are not based on evidence as none exists to prove or disprove religion since it is based on faith. As such, the belief of the individual or religion is irrelevant because there is not true/false, no correct/incorrect and no right/wrong in regards to belief. So, the spiritual experience of the individual comes into play. Pluaralists believe that there are many pathways to experiencing God with the experience being the focus while belief is not important. Pluraslists are interested in the spiritual experience, the moral behavior and how the person lives their lives rather than what they believe.

Your logical progression is correct but not on objective level because no religion can be proven as correct/incorrect. It is correct on a personal (subjective) level. Like you, I believe that my personal beliefs (modern deism) are the most correct beliefs regarding God or what is the point in believing. As such, on a personal level, I agree that religion A and religion B cannot both be correct. I see myself as the correct religion just as you do. However, I also acknowledge the objective level of reality and know that neither you nor I can prove anything.

I am a Modern Deist on a subjective level and believe that my beliefs are the most correct but on an objective level I understand that experience is most important when it comes to God as belief is personal.

Now, on to some other comments.

Equating religious pluaralism with moral relativism is a logical fallacy as there is no correlation. Being a religious pluralist does not make one a moral relativist anymore than being a revealed religionist make one a terrorist. There is not connection.

For the record, logic is about evidence and faith is about non-evidence. Reason on the other hand spans both so one can use a reasonable view to develop their faith.

Stating the pluralism is wishy-washy shows an incredible lack of understanding of what pluralism is and is also a logical fallacy as you are attacking rather than putting forth arguments against. However, you are right that revivals are not built on pluralism. Age of Enlightments that have pushed the world forward in many positive ways are based on pluralism and the acceptance of what faith really is.

I think that Inclusivism does have a place and there are many Christians in America that agree with it according to recent polling. Pluralism will not be popular for some time because of the level of acceptance that it requires but Inclusivism seems to be up and coming even among Evangelicals.

Great discussion.

MethoDeist

Joel Thomas said...

These discussions, debates, whatever are good, but I wonder if we spend half as much time spreading the Good News as we do trying to figure out who is and isn't a Christian.

Paul didn't seem to focus so much on whether people were heretics are not but on whether they were weak in their faith, falling into temptation, or giving in to false worship practices. His purpose in the end was to unite the community, not to divide it.

Further, the writings of Paul are but one portion of the Bible. The four Gospels, the book of James, the Old Testament prophets call for economic and social justice all figure in.

Again, there are important matters at stake. But looking at the UMC, would a potential member be able to see beyond the strife and division?

This particlar matter isn't one of liberal versus conservative as much as the image of Christ and his church we present to the public. Certainly I wonder about some of my own posts as to whether those standing beyond the church's walls, if any are reading what I write, are able to filter the materials related to give-and-take (who is and isn't an evangelical, who is and isn't a Christian, what is or isn't a sin, the rightness or wrongness of the Judicial Council on a given issue) to see a Christ who is at once loving, admonishing, and transforming.

BruceA said...

MethoDeist -

Your logical progression is correct but not on objective level because no religion can be proven as correct/incorrect. It is correct on a personal (subjective) level.

If you're looking solely at subjective personal experiences, I would submit that the words "correct" and "incorrect" are not appropriate. How could we even have a meaningful discussion about whether your or my experiences were correct? What would that even mean?

I think that's the core of the whole debate: The idea that something can be both subjective and "correct" just strikes many people as an incongruous use of the terms.

John said...

Modern Deist wrote:

First, let me define Pluralism. Pluralism does not have anything to do with belief and all to do with experience.

Your definition which follows is necessarily a statement of beliefs about the nature of religion. You cannot describe your religion and avoid making intellectul assertions.

Your logical progression is correct but not on objective level because no religion can be proven as correct/incorrect. It is correct on a personal (subjective) level.

It is not necessary to prove that statements are true in order to demonstrate that they contradict each other.

Like you, I believe that my personal beliefs (modern deism) are the most correct beliefs regarding God or what is the point in believing. As such, on a personal level, I agree that religion A and religion B cannot both be correct. I see myself as the correct religion just as you do. However, I also acknowledge the objective level of reality and know that neither you nor I can prove anything.

Then you are necessarily saying that the exclusivist assertions of Religions A and B are wrong because they are exclusivist.

j2 said...

Joel,

Just which "good news" do you think we should be spreading? The very nature of the struggle in these comments indicates why the dispute must be settled or the parties disengaged. One person wants to spread his subjective good news of a pluralism rooted in post-modern philosophy and deconstructive methods of interpreting moral guides. Another is stating the propositional nature of faith based religions that seek an ultimate truth and way of life that brings everyone together in a higher state of perfection. Well, everyone that is at least seeking to trade in a solo, subjective truth for a shared one.

There is a fundamental exclusion in any propositional faith. One can invent a new christianity if they want, but the cumulative reality of Christ and his followers forms an objective reality, evidenced by an acceptance of certain faith propositions. A new christianity is not the same as the objective True Christianity that has happened and is happening. There is a lot of differences that are brought into this grand experience and its seekers look to sacred evidence to help them find unity and common ground. They are all seeking an apex of truth that forces each to give up certain personal and subjective beliefs to move closer to that apex and thus toward one another.

When one has no interest in seeking a sacred truth that is larger than what they can invent inside their head then they have left the expedition. They are constantly being distracted by the temporal intrigues and lose sight of a larger group goal. Sure, it is likely that many like them may randomly find the same distractions interesting and for a while have a shared experience, but what commitment do they have to each other when other distractions come along? Or, better yet, what commitment do they have to preserve that experience as valuable when another seeks to destroy it? What grounds are there for any moral truth when the common experience is merely a random event?

Joel Thomas said...

j2,

You are pretending that there is no subjectivity to your faith whatsoever. I don't find that credible.

Faith is based on evidence, but it isn't truth itself. That's why the Bible says we "see as in a mirror dimly."

Finally, you are casting this in terms that everything in life is two polar opposites. That's the reason many of my relatives were brought up to detest Catholics.

I'm not talking of anything goes. I am more concerned that some are substituting for faith an "I'm right about everything about faith and the Bible and everyone who disagrees with me is a heretic."

Faith always has been a mixture of the objective and the subjective. What many people label "objective" is merely what they heard taught growing up in the home or from their favorite preacher.

I'm not objecting to commonly held views, but to litmus tests that say one must believe "this, this and this" or you are an unbeliever. On many of the lists, I accept everything but inerrancy. On the other hand someone could accept as true every single statement in a litmus test and still be a tool of Satan for not including love of God and love of neighbor as foundational to their faith.

Richard H said...

A little point:
MethoDeist writes, "For the record, logic is about evidence and faith is about non-evidence."

Actually logic need not have anything to do with evidence. It has to do about the formal relationships between ideas (concepts). Consider this:

(1) All dragons have wings and breathe fire.
(2) Bob is a dragon.
(3) Therefore: Bob has wings and breathes fire.

This syllogism is an example of logic. No evidence anywhere. Consistency, yes; evidence, no.

j2 said...

Someone seems to be able to read my mind and know when I am pretending and when I am not! ;)

Larry B said...

j2 - another excellent post.

In my opinion one of the major underlying arguments here is the post-modern philosophical underpinnings vs. classical philosophical underpinnings.

Post modern philosophy essentially eliminates the idea of an objective and separate truth. Which then makes it uneccessary to pursue any rational arguments regarding such.

Most of philosophy prior to this essentially accepted a separate objective truth and thus rational investigation into that truth was necessary.

I would suggest that we have now entered a time where we have been highly influenced by post modern thought and it hasn't occurred to most religious persons that post modernism is entirely incompatible with Christianity.

Christianity holds up a separate and objective truth, and it's rational to seek that truth. I think I read Joel and others arguing here that there can't be a rational pursuit of that truth because ultimately there isn't a knowable separate and objective truth, only a subjective truth as determined by the individual.

My question is really this - do those who argue pluralism believe in a separate and objective truth regarding God or not, and if so, why is it a repugnant idea to believe that knowledge of that truth can be obtained through rational investigation and thought, and that obtaining that knowledge will necessarily rule out other propositions as necessarily wrong?

Joel Thomas said...

larry b,

Your presentation of my view is mostly false. I wrote one of my seminary papers on Immanuel Kant, and am a big fan of the idea that much if not most can be proved in faith by logic and reason. But even Kant recognized limits on the ability to prove all matters of religion objectively.

If a religion's truth could be proved entirely objectively, then we would be talking about our personal "knowledge" instead of our personal "faith." The Bible says we "see as in a mirror dimly" for good reason.

The objective is significantly more important than the subjective, because of the reality that truth is entirely objective. But our understanding of truth that cannot be proved scientifically or mathematically or entirely historically is always somewhat based on personal experience and subjective judgment. Yes, there were witnesses to the event of the resurrection. There were witnesses to Christ's healings and miracles. However, we know that people can lie and make things up. It is in good part on "faith" that I conclude that the witnesses were telling the truth. In other words, I must combine "faith" with circumstancial evidence, with proven history to reach my conclusion that Christ represents God's fullest revelation.

What I am writing of as being partially, and only partially, subjective is faith, not truth. Sometimes, though, what we regard as "truth" changes when more evidence comes in or greater reason is applied. Women banned from the ministry was once a "truth." Now we know that our prejudices overshadowed an honest interpretation of Scripture.

At the point when great numbers of people, particularly the leadership, (the Councils, for instance) can merge their personal experiences and subjective judgments with historical evidences can we arrive at the point that one faith is more true than another. Such does not make every aspect of another faith necessarily false, but causes us, as Christians to believe that God is most fully revealed in the divinity/person of Jesus Christ.

I don't believe that truth is relative, nor do I believe it is subjective. Faith and truth overlap but they are not the same, because, again, faith is at least partially subjective. I simply believe that on some topics God by revelation or by science has not provided us with sufficient information to know the truth, as in we have a very incomplete understanding of the beginning of the universe (that is perhaps a truth God will always withhold), and as in the Christian community once regarded epilepsy as demon-possession. That doesn't mean those who saw epilpesy as demon-possession were relativists, it means they were simply wrong.

If I were a moral relativist, then I'd say there's no right or wrong about invading Iraq; instead I say it was not only wrong but immoral. Ditto for capital punishment. On capital punishment, I think there is no possibility of any other view being correct. That doesn't mean, however, that I regard people who support either the Iraqi invasion or capital punishment as unbelievers.

In conclusion, your statement about me that I am arguing there can't be a rational pursuit of truth is pure bunk, and the idea I think there is only a subjective truth as determined by the individual is wholly trash.

j2 said...

Now there Joel, no one attacked you so much, Larry said:

"I think I read Joel and others..."

So his comments were a distillation of the many posters who were sympathetic to religious pluralism and repudiate an objective and logical search for truth based on scripture and experience. I thought his post most accurate in that context.

Surely if you studied Kant then you likely studied Foucault. I would think that you understand the implications his ideas pose to the whole of Christianity and in particular a denomination such as the UMC. Strangely so many of the leaders within the mainline denominations speak from a post-modern, deconstructivist point of view and are either ignorant that they are, or simply are just being coy. The higher up the ecumenical chain the more I'm likely to suspect they know they are and intentionally do not want people to understand that aspect of their theology.

Do you reject post-modern and deconstructive approaches to theology and doctrine?

Larry B said...

Yikes Joel - I tried to qualify my statement, and I was posting most in the vicinity of yours so I started with "I think I read Joel and others arguing here". I wasn't insisting that you specifically were arguing a specific point of view, only that I was inferring something and was stating that inference up front. I was merely attempting to clarify my starting point before asking my question. Sorry for the confusion on my part.

My intent wasn't to separate believers or unbelievers, the argument in my mind hadn't even advanced that far. There are plenty of believers who don't bother with this sort of dialogue regarding rational argument who do just fine without it. I'm only curious in so far as those who do consider it, how they can arrive at a pluralistic understanding of God.

The first poster dave said "I don't think pluralism is even trying to make a claim that this or that set of religious propositions are true.
I think pluralism is being honest in saying that God or the Divine can be found in more places than any single religion and that no one, or no religion, has a monopoly on God."

Logically speaking that is incorrect according to what Jesus said and taught, unless I have erred in my understanding of the Gospel texts. Did not Jesus make the precise claim that He and the Father were one? He has made a claim counter to the pluralist viewpoint espoused by Dave, so it's not a logically consistent view to call onself a pluralist and a Christian at the same time. The logical inconsistency isn't a prima fascia case for calling someone an unbeliever, I just was looking for some understanding of how someone holds the two seemingly conflicting views.

Joel Thomas said...

larry b,

I took it that you were claiming the my views as a whole are incompatible with Christianity. I believe such deserved a strong rebuke.