Friday, September 10, 2010

L 4.9

Loftus advocates an “outsider test” but, such a test is not wholly convincing. Being a disciple of Christ implies a relationship. One has to genuinely invest in the relationship through good times and bad for a longer period of time rather than shorter to have any real insight into it. It’s the spiritual equivalent to not judging a book by it’s cover. Some people claim they were devout Christians but still left Christianity. Unfortuantely, many people participate in works-based variations on Christianity. Works-based religions proceed from particular acts to a general state. Being a disciple of Christ works in the opposite way; from a general state to particular acts. Did the former Christian ever actually have a lasting relationship with God? I’m not sure if this is true of Loftus. The first chapter seems to indicate that he did not. Second, I would ask if the person was not able to keep up their end of the relationship and ended up leaving Christianity when faced with difficulties. Being a disciple of Christ is not easy and not everyone is cut out for it. God allows us to be tested and some people don’t have the wherewithal to withstand those tests, even if they have had a genuine relationship for a short period of time. The relationship with God is like a muscle; it has to be exercised to be strong enough to handle adversity and have endurance.

Loftus implies that American Christians don't test their faith by examining other beliefs and their reaction to Christianity; the outsider test. America has been religiously diverse for several decades. Americans are exposed to quite a few religions that are significantly different than Christianity. Consequently, Christians do have their faith tested by direct exposure to other religions especially given the fact that diversity is so prevalent in American education and media.

Moreover, it is possible for a person to find truth on the first try and therefore, not need to test that truth. The relevance to the outsider test is that a person might have a particular religion as an accident of birth but, if that religion is true, further testing will only serve to continually reinforce that truth. Consequently, the outsider test is not necessary to discover truth in every case.

Disciples of Christ recognize works-based religions and have no need to test each one. While the particulars of worship among them might vary based on culture, they basically function the same in that the adherent must perform a prescribed set of actions in order to remain in good standing. This means that a person does not need to travel the world sampling each religion. One works-based religion is going to be fundamentally similar to the others. Christianity, on the other hand, is unique among the world religions in several ways.

The religious pluralist is going to disagree with Loftus. One branch of pluralism maintains that all religions are basically saying the same thing. Another branch says that even though religions are saying different things, sincere adherents of each religion will all end up saved or a participant in the ultimate reality. Therefore, pluralism maintains that the “outsider test” is irrelevant.

8 comments:

GearHedEd said...

"Moreover, it is possible for a person to find truth on the first try and therefore, not need to test that truth."

How convenient...

bob said...

Ok, let's OTF this.

You - "Being a disciple of Christ implies a relationship."

Islamic blogger - "Our relationship with Allah is already more intimate than any other..."

How would you attempt to persuade the Islamic blogger that he has no good reason to continue to believe that he has an actual relationship with Allah?

What would your bullet points be?

trae norsworthy said...

Islamic blogger - "Our relationship with Allah is already more intimate than any other..."

How would you attempt to persuade the Islamic blogger that he has no good reason to continue to believe that he has an actual relationship with Allah?

there are several dynamics in your scenario.

First, there is somewhat of a category mistake. Islam should not be compared to other religions because many, if not most, muslims are not islamic by choice. They are not free. Until islam is an open religion with free adherents, it should be eliminated from the pool of live options. On this issue, I would point out resources such as

Actforamerica.org

"a god who hates" by Wafa Sultan.

Davidnassar.com

In response to your statement about relationship in islam, there is no relationship with allah. The will of allah is not known. Muslims have to commit certain works, such as giving a mandatory amount to the poor, in the hope that allah will look favorably on them when comparing the good of their life with the bad. That is not really a relationship.

Which segues to my last point; islam is a works based religion. All works based religions are flawed because a system of measuring good vs bad is untenable for several reasons.

Notice that in each case, i didn't have to appeal "outside" of islam to critique it. A person does not have to go outside of their belief in order to justifiably examine it.

However, i have said that there is an element to the otf that is valid and it is the examination of your beliefs. All people should and the Bible certainly exhorts follwers of Christ to do so.

bob said...

trae - "Notice that in each case, i didn't have to appeal "outside" of islam to critique it."

Did I ask you to critique Islam?

Just wondering, but do you think your critique will persuade many Muslims to deconvert? I mean, I can critique Christian beliefs all day just by pointing out the absurdities, but that will do little to nothing in persuading you that you don't have the "relationship" you claim to have. It’s not until you, the believer, offers the same critique of your own faith that you can even barely begin to see that it just doesn’t add up.

trae - "...most, muslims are not islamic by choice. They are not free."

Many Christians believe in irresistible grace, making it impossible to resist God when he draws one to be a Christian. I do believe there are bible verses to use in defense of that belief. So, some Christians believe that Christians have no choice in becoming a Christian.

That would also mean that any Muslims who are drawn by the Christian God will not be able to maintain their belief in Allah because they can't resist God calling them to be saved. Correct?

But this is all moot. I wanted you to address this one Muslim who claims to have a relationship with their God, much the same as you claim. My challenge had nothing to do with choice or freedom. Your statement, if anything, seems to limit the ability of the very God you worship, to convert those from the Muslim faith.

trae - "Until islam is an open religion with free adherents, it should be eliminated from the pool of live options."

Just a guess, but there are probably hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in the US and democratic societies in Europe that are free to convert if they want. Sure, they will suffer ridicule, pressure, perhaps even to the extent of being disowned by their family and friends, pretty much just as some Christians in the US will suffer if they convert to the Jewish, Catholic, Mormon faiths or de-convert to atheism.

At any rate, the quote I gave you from an Islamic blog does not show any duress. The person making the statement about having a “relationship” with Allah probably feels just as strongly about his “relationship” with his God as you feel about yours.

trae - "In response to your statement about relationship in islam, there is no relationship with allah."
I agree. And I can make that statement just as assuredly that there is no relationship with God.

trae - "The will of allah is not known."
Again, we agree. And I make the same statement concerning the "will" of your God. It isn't known. Sure, you have a 2,000 year old book, but good luck with that.

trae - "Muslims have to commit certain works, such as giving a mandatory amount to the poor..."
Tithing!

In effect trae, all you did was make up a rule disallowing my challenge.
Thanks for nothing.

trae norsworthy said...

bob said...

Did I ask you to critique Islam?
What I was saying is that I provided a critique of islam without having to appeal to the otf. The same can be applied to christianity without having to go “outside” of christianity to do so.

Just wondering, but do you think your critique will persuade many Muslims to deconvert?
I’m not trying to persuade anyone. What a person believes is between them and God.

I can critique Christian beliefs all day just by pointing out the absurdities, but that will do little to nothing in persuading you that you don't have the "relationship" you claim to have. It’s not until you, the believer, offers the same critique of your own faith that you can even barely begin to see that it just doesn’t add up.
First, the Bible exhorts believers to do exactly what you are saying, critique your own faith. I have pointed this out to loftus several times in response to his claim that Christians are anti-intellectual which is patently and demonstrably false. So, followers of Christ indeed do examine their beliefs. Second, it’s not like I’m appealing to faith. The “absurdities” have been investigated and refuted using rationality and logic, not faith. In addition to that, people have a relationship with God.

Many Christians believe in irresistible grace, making it impossible to resist God when he draws one to be a Christian. I do believe there are bible verses to use in defense of that belief. So, some Christians believe that Christians have no choice in becoming a Christian.
I think you know this is TOTALLY different than theocracy not allowing people the right to liberty or information. christians live in societies where they can change denominations or even leave the faith. It is not compulsory.

But this is all moot. I wanted you to address this one Muslim who claims to have a relationship with their God, much the same as you claim.
The issue isn’t between the theists. the issue is between nontheism and theism. Why is nontheism, which is untenable as a belief system, better than theism?

Your statement, if anything, seems to limit the ability of the very God you worship, to convert those from the Muslim faith.
Not at all. Despite man made obstacles, God breaks through. Muslims are converted.

I agree. And I can make that statement just as assuredly that there is no relationship with God.
Not in the same way. all things being equal, the muslim does not have a relationship with allah. The Christian does have a relationship with God. the two are absolutely different.

And I make the same statement concerning the "will" of your God. It isn't known. Sure, you have a 2,000 year old book, but good luck with that.
The will of God is known to a degree because He has revealed it and not only in special revelation. Also in general revelation. The muslim absolutely cannot say the same and will tell you so. they can’t guarantee that even if they spend their entire lives doing good works that allah will find that acceptable.

Tithing!
Tithing is not mandatory. In fact, no good works are mandatory for the Christian. They are a result of a relationship with God through Jesus. Totally, totally different than the muslim situation.

bob said...

trae - "...all things being equal, the muslim does not have a relationship with allah. The Christian does have a relationship with God. the two are absolutely different."

And this is exactly why I posted a reply. The Muslim "claims" to have a relationship with Allah. You "claim" to have a relationship with God. You list numerous theological reasons why you discount the Muslim claim - muslims are not islamic by choice, the will of allah is not known, Muslims have to commit certain works.
You then make the judgement - "That is not really a relationship."
Well, it may not be the same kind of relationship that you claim to have with your God, but that is so very far from proving your claim that Muslims DON'T have a relationship with Allah.
I think the appropriate and logical response from you would be that you don't "believe" Muslims have a relationship with Allah simply because you don't "believe" Allah is real. But to list certain qualifiers as above is simply theological.

Rather than just stating that Muslims don't have a relationship with Allah because Allah doesn't exist, you come up with theological reasons why the Muslim faith is not as inviting as the Christian faith.

Please think about this trae. I mean, just because a relationship is abusive does not mean it ceases to be a relationship.

To the meat of the matter - Muslims do not have a relationship with Allah because Allah is not real. As outsiders to the Muslim faith, you and I both will agree on that - agree?
It doesn't matter if it is a "works-based" faith, compulsory, terrorist-ridden, etc. You and I consider Allah to be a myth. We find no evidence that Allah exists, and we find no evidence to support the "relationship" claim (whether a "good" relationship or "bad") made by Muslims.

I can easily apply a similar diagnostic that you and I apply to the Muslim relationship claim, to your relationship claim. For I am on the outside. I can easily see that you have no "better" reason for your "relationship" claim than the Muslim has. I find no compelling evidence in your holy book, no evidence in the lives of Christians, no evidence that the God you claim has had any contact with you, nor you with him. Nothing in your claim nor the Muslims claim resembles an actual "relationship".
Admittedly, there is plenty of evidence that Christians and Muslims believe they have a relationship with their God, but no evidence that their respective Gods actually participate at all in these claimed relationships. No mutual communications, no physical contact. It's like a man claiming to have a relationship with a blow-up doll.

So, with regard to the OTF, it seems to me that you are being unintentionally dishonest when applying it, and therefor, not actually applying it at all. You need to admit that the best reason for dismissing the relationship claim from Muslims is not because Islam is "bad", but because you find no compelling reason to believe Allah is real.

-then-

Somehow, somehow, apply that very same outsider perspective to the "relationship" you claim to have with God. The "my God is better than their God" argument is in no way analogous to the OTF.

GearHedEd said...

Trae's post of September 28, 2010 8:57 PM can be paraphrased thus"

"Nuh-uh!"

trae norsworthy said...

what part of what i said is inaccurate?