Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The value of denials in pursuing truth

[This is a companion piece to a two-parter in Pyro begun here and continued here.]

Some denials are totally valuable and totally sufficient. A spouse asks, "Did you do X?" Other-spouse replies, "No" (or "Yes"). And that's the end of it.

Put marriage aside. Just ask any credible, honorable, faithful person: "Did you do X?" The response, once again, is sufficient.

But when it comes to doctrine and truth and conceptual issues, it isn't nearly so simple. It's sad that we have to keep this in mind, but we do. In such cases, a denial (or affirmation) may be of great psychological interest, but of zero contentful or evidentiary value.

For instance, suppose we asked even Rob Bell, "Did you mean to create the possibility of hundreds or thousands going off to a hopeless eternity, suffering the wrath of God in Hell, because of what you wrote in your book?" Any chance he'd answer "Yes"?

If you asked a Jehovah's Witness, "Do you mean to be perverting the Word of God so badly that you and anyone you persuade will be shut off from redemption in Christ and doomed to the wrath of God?", would any of them say "Yes"?

If you asked a Mormon, "By your display of good works and wholesomeness, do you mean to communicate that sinners do not need Christ's blood as all-sufficient for atonement, do not need the one and only true Gospel, and thus do you mean to divert them from Christ to damning error?", what are the odds of an affirmative?

If you asked a pastor who spends his pulpit time in stories and entertainment, "Do you mean to teach your people that you are smarter and more fascinating and wiser than God?", how many would return a "Yes"?

And if you asked anyone wobbly on God's sovereignty in salvation, "Do you mean to reserve some of the glory for salvation to man, instead of God? Is that your intent?", how many would say "Yes"?

In such cases, the person's answer may tell us about them emotionally or psychologically; it may reveal their intentions. And that is of some value. Knowing what someone does and doesn't mean to do or communicate by his system helps us know that person better.

But it is of zero value in evaluating the system itself.

See?

11 comments:

Danny Haszard said...

Most Jehovah's Witnesses are decent folk who are trapped in an oppressive cult like organization the Watchtower society.
The Watchtower core dogma is Jesus 'invisible' return or second coming October 1914,this is a false doctrine.
Matthew 7:15-16 "Be on the watch for the false prophets,who come to you in sheep's clothing....."
God bless-Danny Haszard

DJP said...

And you know that because you examine the facts, not because you ask them what they do or don't mean to be doing.

Pastor Pants said...

Amen! 100 times Amen!

If I had a dollar for every time someone's violation of Scripture was brushed aside by their "good intentions" I'd be a VERY rich man. It's as if meaning well somehow removes any need for repentance.

Sir Aaron said...

Two great posts by Dan in one day? It's like fasting for a week then eating an entire cake at one sitting.

Ok, I'll stop hyperventilating now.

DJP said...

I appreciate the encouragement. It's been a very busy, productive morning. Need more!

DJP said...

...and wait until you see Part Two over at Pyro. "Bring a lunch," as Turk says.

trogdor said...

Exactly right. And important to remember when a charge is thrown back at us, such as that we make God the author of evil or negate evangelism/prayer. It's not enough to deny that we do it, we must actually know the truth well enough that we actually don't do it, in word and practice.

Just to be clear, there are Biblical, logically-sound arguments for Calvinism in which God is not made the author of evil, and that properly exalt prayer and evangelism (not to mention how silly that charge will look when brought against someone who preaches and prays like he believes God is sovereign in salvation!). We can do more than deny; we can explain and show that it's simply not true.

But there is no way for the Arminian to explain how God does exactly the same for everyone, some are saved while others perish, man provides the necessary final ingredient, yet salvation is due to Christ alone. Go ahead, try it. It'll make your head hurt even trying to think that way.

DJP said...

Did you peek at my Part Two? Just wait, dude.

trogdor said...

I thought we shared a hive mind.

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

What's that old saying? 'The road to Hell is paved with good intentions'? Or was I thinking of 'There is a way that seems right to man that's end is death'?

Maybe if we'd read the bible and actually consider what God was trying to say according to what God tells us He was trying to say rather than approaching it from a perspective of 'common sense' to fallen humans we'd never need to have this discussion. Or we could just continue to conveniently forget that the things that were 'common sense' to Old Testament Israel were chosen by the greatest apostates.

"Let's see; I can pay tribute to Assyria and have the help of this massive military force to protect me from very real and present enemies, or I can trust a little girl and Child as protection from my enemies..." (Isaiah 7-8)

It always boils down to a low-view of God and the Scriptures, usurping Their authority and replacing it with what seems right, regardless of the false teaching. Arminians just happen to have a lot more grace than the rest of that lot.

Robert said...

All logic aside(mainly because thinking of what Olson is saying and how it doesn't make sense makes my head want to explode), the Bible says we are spiritually dead and that God acts to save us. And that even the faith that drives us to repent, trust in Jesus' work to save us, and follow Him, is the gift of God to His elect. Jesus says that He won't lose any of those who God has given Him. There's no conditional if in His statement there...it isn't dependent upon our action.

Anybody clinging to their action is trying to prop up the sovereignty of man, whether they are willing to accept that fact or not. Why not just be happy with the fact that God chose who He would save and that we are counted among those chosen few? Why not be content with His work and depend upon Him for all? That is what He wants...and in the end, shouldn't that be what we are after?