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Chris H
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On 2010-11-11 09:48, ThePhilosopher wrote:
It has been quite a while since I have been able to visit the Café, but I wanted to throw out an idea for consideration. Derren Brown, in my opinion, is an excellent performer, talented showman, and—from what I have heard—a very nice guy. I think he has done a great job restoring interest in mentalism (that is my field of work) and also in debunking psychics, new agers, and the rest. The problem is that “the rest” includes Christianity.


Do you think that Christianity should be exempt from debunking/skeptical analysis/investigation?
Ed_Millis
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The issue you run into there, Chris H, is that Christianity inherently revolves completely around the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ and Messiah. Christianity is not a set of rules, philosophies, guidelines, what have you - it's a relationship with a very real and very much alive Person.

The debunking that I'm familiar with takes an approach of: "If it works for you, then it works for me. If it works here, then it works anywhere." But (pardon the expression!) that doesn't work here in a relationship.

I do not interact and respond all the same with all my kids, much less my kids as opposed to my wife, and even less when you throw my co-workers into the mix. If you read the Bible aas the story of how God the Father (Old Testament) and God the Son (New Testament) interacted with those They came in contact with, you will see a wide variety of responses. And if you look at those who have a real relationship with God (versus those who simply adhere to a belief system - and you can usually tell the difference!), you will likewise find a wide variety of responses and interactions.

One size does not fit all, because we are not all the same. Only God is "God" enough to fit the oddness of each individual human soul.

Ed

(On the other hand, if you're simply referring to the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible, Jesus, and so forth, then I refer you to your local library and any one of an extenive group of books dealing with that very thing. Start with "Josh McDowell".)
ThePhilosopher
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Menlo Park, CA
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Quote:
On 2011-04-05 08:31, Chris H wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-11-11 09:48, ThePhilosopher wrote:
It has been quite a while since I have been able to visit the Café, but I wanted to throw out an idea for consideration. Derren Brown, in my opinion, is an excellent performer, talented showman, and—from what I have heard—a very nice guy. I think he has done a great job restoring interest in mentalism (that is my field of work) and also in debunking psychics, new agers, and the rest. The problem is that “the rest” includes Christianity.


Do you think that Christianity should be exempt from debunking/skeptical analysis/investigation?


Good question. A lot could be said in reply to one line, so I hope my answer is sufficient.

I think any Christian has an obligation to look critically at what he believes, and should also be able to answer to healthy investigation. On the other hand, I do see a problem putting Christianity in the same category as dousing and some "new age" claims.

In part I agree with Ed_Millis--the element of a personal relationship with God is an essential element. However, you could also say the same thing about an invisible friend, "We are friends and that is enough." In the end, you need to prove that this invisible friend exists. It is not my job to prove he doesn't.

Also, I don't really agree that Christianity does not include philosophy, since any religious presupposes a philosophy. In fact, I personally believe that one of the reasons Christianity is so convincing is the anthropology that comes along with it. I have seen few systems that (in my opinion) provide a coherent explanation to the question of "who is man?" than the one that comes with the Faith.

Christianity's claims are serious and I think anyone who is honest needs to look at those claims seriously. I have seen a lot of intellectually dishonest people on both sides--those who defend it and those who try to debunk it. Most people are so shielded by their biases that they can neither look honestly at their own view, nor the opinions of others.

So, yes, Christianity should be looked at critically, but it must be done in the right way.
- Nathan
Ed_Millis
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However, you could also say the same thing about an invisible friend, "We are friends and that is enough." In the end, you need to prove that this invisible friend exists. It is not my job to prove he doesn't.


Therein lies the fallacy of a "critical inspection" of true covenant Christianity based in relationship with Jesus and aligned with the Bible. Neither the existance nor the absence of God can be finally determined by any method of investigation. If you are going to be a _real_ Christian, then you are not going to be satisfied merely adhering to some plausible, verifiable concepts - you are a Branch in the Vine with a Spirit-powered life flowing into you. At that point, it doesn't matter what intellectual, philosophical, or anthropological arguments are advanced: "Once I was blind and now I see!" You might as well argue with the resurrected Lazarus.

This pre-supposes that God simply is, and that is taken by faith at face value. Doubts, questions, and a healthy examination of what exactly I am believing in light of the Bible - these are necessary elements of Christian growth. "Lord, I believe; help my unblief." "Not so, Lord" - quite a contradiction going on when one says "No" to the Person they believe is Christ, Messiah, and "Lord"!

No, I do _not_ have to prove God exists. If you intend to cause me to examine an aspect of my faith with the intent of restructuring it, then it *is* you who bears the burden of proving the question is weighty enough to be considered and has enough impact and evidence to have merit. But it also needs to come from within the framework of Bible-based faith and covenant relationship, or it is like applying the evaluation standards of juice orange to a car!! "Much learning" just might "maketh thee mad" if it makes your heart look at the Jesus Life from the world's point of view.

Ed
JohnWells
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Therein lies the fallacy of a "critical inspection" of true covenant Christianity based in relationship with Jesus and aligned with the Bible. Neither the existance nor the absence of God can be finally determined by any method of investigation. [/quote]

Uhm, no. The existence of God may be demonstrated by reason, which is certainly a valid method of investigation. If you tighten your usage to include only scientific, quantitative modes of investigation, then yes, you're correct, but your statement as it stands is counter to the Christian worldview. You either end up with Puddin' Head Wilson's faith (believing even when you know it isn't true) or fideism.



[/quote]

If you are going to be a _real_ Christian, then you are not going to be satisfied merely adhering to some plausible, verifiable concepts - you are a Branch in the Vine with a Spirit-powered life flowing into you. At that point, it doesn't matter what intellectual, philosophical, or anthropological arguments are advanced: "Once I was blind and now I see!" You might as well argue with the resurrected Lazarus.

This pre-supposes that God simply is, and that is taken by faith at face value. Doubts, questions, and a healthy examination of what exactly I am believing in light of the Bible - these are necessary elements of Christian growth. "Lord, I believe; help my unblief." "Not so, Lord" - quite a contradiction going on when one says "No" to the Person they believe is Christ, Messiah, and "Lord"!

No, I do _not_ have to prove God exists. If you intend to cause me to examine an aspect of my faith with the intent of restructuring it, then it *is* you who bears the burden of proving the question is weighty enough to be considered and has enough impact and evidence to have merit. But it also needs to come from within the framework of Bible-based faith and covenant relationship, or it is like applying the evaluation standards of juice orange to a car!! "Much learning" just might "maketh thee mad" if it makes your heart look at the Jesus Life from the world's point of view.

Ed
[/quote]

But, you are engaging in essenitially circular reasoning. Unless your warrant for believing the Bible, for example, comes from outside the Bible, then you can make no stronger a claim to truth than a Muslim advocating the truth of Islam on the basis of the Koran. Put another way, what you seem to suggest is that any critical examination of Christianity that does not explicitly, and a priori, assume the truth of what is being critically examined is not only counter to Biblical faith, but potentially sinful.
Ed_Millis
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God came first, not the Bible. Yes, I grew up hearing Bible stories and reading scriptures and going to church, just like so many other people who try to put on the "Christian" label but find the glue doesn't stick to their worldliness.

But until I actually surrendered my life to Jesus, I did not actually "believe" the Bible. "Believe" in this case takes on the meaning of "allowing this to affect my life"; else it's simply history and philosophy and theology and knowledge. Judas, Felix, Herod - they all "knew" a lot about God, Jesus, Israel, and so forth, but in the end it never moved them to a surrender of the will.

At that point in my life, the Bible began to make sense to me. The knowledge and history and so forth were always there, and I did "believe", but the abilty of the Bible and Christian teaching to impact and guide my life was not there until I became His. In John it's called "born again". And I don't think there's much in the way of "critical examination" that will validate that!

If all you're talking about is the historical and literary validity of the Bible, that's available in great abundance. I don't have the brains to do all the research that's already been done; at some point, I have to take by faith the words I read from the research others have done. Maybe you've done all of your own research and have no need to rely on anything that's been written before; if so, I commend you. And I have nothing further to say, because I'm talking about something much deeper.

So, since I'm involving faith to that degree, then I will willingly extend it to include the Bible which both leads and teaches me about my Beloved Friend Jesus and also confirms what I come to understand simply by walking with Him. I am not holding faith above or apart from reason; if it looks and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck, and that's what I need to believe.

You will never find God simply by validating the Bible against standard of history and literacy. Neither will you ever find God (to any depth) apart from the Bible. It is the Bible that tells us about Him and leads us deeper into Him. If you remove the Bible, then you have God resembling a water balloon with the skin peeled off. God is not the author of confusion. He is a Person, One Being, with a personality, character, and mind that is the same across every century in every culture. The Bible reveals this; remove it, and you have religious imaginations filling in the gaps.

But the Kingdom of God is within. It's His heart and my heart somehow becoming One, as Jesus and the Father are One (according to John). Exactly how that works and what it looks like and where the boundaries are - well, that's the realm of a relationship with the Savior. I believe the Bible because it's part of the "conversation" I am having with Him. He left me a Book because that communicates with me and helps me know Him; without it, I would be stumbling in the dark - and that would be a very unloving thing for Him to do.

Are there things I don't know, don't understand, would like to ponder, might even wonder if that got written down right? Sure. Then again, we've found errors in my college database program textbook, which can be immediately and absolutely verified. So, since I know God Himself, I'm inclined to embrace the Bible as true. Period.

As Mark Twain said (if Google is correct): "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." Likewise, there is enough in the Bible that I know to be true - because it works and it fits with the intimate friendship I have with Jesus - that I feel no need to "critically examine" whatever minor details I do not understand.

And yes, to allow myself to be sucked into a purely intellectual quagmire over a historical or literary issue of the BIble that better men than you or I have not been able to resolve since before either of us was born, with the likely outcome of clouding my faith with confusion and driving a wedge of doubt between me and Jesus - I would indeed call that "not of faith" and therefor, according to the Bible which I believe, sinful.

Not that it's wrong to think and ponder and even change my mind with better evidence - I believe that's enjoined and making proper use of the brain God gave me, however small it is. But to try to rip apart the relationship between Jesus and one of the little ones He died to have is to petition the Father for a millstone necklace! It's not about the facts as we understand them - it's about Jesus and how much I love Him!

Ed
JohnWells
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That's a lovely testimony, but it doesn't actually address my contention, to wit, that what you are advocating is, essentially, a heresy called fideism, rather than advocating faith in the traditionally Christian understanding of the term. Real faith of a true Christian is an act of the will, not a sentiment, and I'm not sure your definition above goes beyond a principally subjective notion of faith.
FriarShaun
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And herein lies the rub. Our minds are too feeble to base faith upon reason, our hearts too fickle to base faith upon feelings, and our will too dependent to base faith upon determination. In other words salvation is not an act of man. It is man's response to pre-evinent grace. God initiates we respond. If we think too much we get confused, if we feel too much we get offended, if we push too hard we get exhausted. Don't get me wrong, I believe Christianity to be the most rational, fulfilling, and proven world view, but I am a Christian because God touched me. I know I will have doubts, my brain is a three pound ball of fat! I know my feelings will betray me because feelings are like farts they blow in overwhelm and dissapear. I know my will is limited because I can't even stick to my own plans. God, however; is faithful, He has always been better to me than I deserve. That is why we enjoy illusion, it only confirms what we already know, we play the fool easily.
Ed_Millis
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Beautifully put, FriarShaun!!

JohnWells: I'm not too sure I totally understand "fideism", even though I did look it up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fideism). I'm not trying to go around in circles, or throw up a wall between reason and faith, or whatever else might be in that article. (Too many big words!!)

I am simply declaring that I have founded my faith in the character and nature of the Divine Person Who desired me, sought me out, and redeemed me at great personal cost. That God Himself would so love me is totally beyond reason!

I have no problem examining the specific things I believe. Then again, I have very little understanding of what I'm looking at many times. And so I fall back into this: Jesus is real and alive in me, and I am led by the Holy Spirit into truth because I want it - or should I say "Him", because Jesus is "the Truth". I am as a little child, and I defy any two-year-old to critically examine the hows, whys, definitions, and motivations of his Father's handling of life. Rather, the child gets up and comes to the table, never even thinking about wher the food comes from, and goes to play, never even thinking about the stability of the house. That is faith. To think that I can understand much of heavenly things is to think too highly of myself.

If I have totally misunderstood you, sorry 'bout that. But then, I think you've misunderstood me as well. And it's possible that we are AM and FM, and unable to communicate very well. So be it.

Chhers!
Out ...
Ed
JohnWells
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And that may be it, that we are, essentially, speaking a different language. What you call faith, to me, sounds like a blithe sentimentality.
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