I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If they are right, they are wrong...

I have an apologetic maxim that I have tried to instill into both my girls. That is, “If they are right, then they are wrong”—the “they” being unbelievers. One of the most (ironically) consistent entailments of every non-Christian outlook is self-contradiction. This problem haunts the reasoning of everyone who will not evaluate things in light of God’s redemptive-providential plan and rule in Christ. If they are correct in their premises, they will draw contradictory conclusions, and vise versa. This is the folly of those who will not build their house of knowledge on the sure rock of Christ's enduring word.

The following editorial exchange is an explicit example of this problem. For a little background, the Daniel Esau reference is to a letter Mr. Esau wrote seeking to vindicate religion in general and Christianity is particular from secularist’s letters attacking the sam

I’m not particularly interested in standing with Mr. Esau in his attempt to defend the abstraction “religion.” I only know of particular religions, and only one that is defensible, namely Christianity. Ms. Hawkins had a similar interest, narrowing her focus to Christianity, so I felt obliged to answer.

'True religion' depends on one's beliefs

I read with interest the commentary by Daniel Esau, "Religion has accomplished much good" (Oct. 30), on his defense of religion. I certainly wouldn't argue with his list of good deeds done in the name of Christianity, though good-hearted people with or without religion contribute to the same causes. But I take exception to his use of the words "true religion" and "false religion." When it comes to spiritual beliefs, truth is a matter of opinion.

Muslims believe theirs is the true religion. That some have chosen the path of terror does not negate its peaceful side any more than our criminals define all Americans. And we all know that within the Christian religion there are many deviations of what each considers the truth.

Major violence throughout history began when one religion decided to spread its beliefs to the entire world by force, a concept that Jesus never taught. History has shown that Christianity and Islam are the two main culprits of this phenomenon.

Many historians believe that the seeds of Islamic terror began with the first Crusade in 1095 when Christians invaded Jerusalem and massacred the entire Muslim population. People tend to remember things like that.


My response...

Letter writer’s belief depends on opinion

“True religion depends on one’s beliefs” (Rosemary Hawkins’ letter, Nov. 4) and regarding “spiritual beliefs, truth is a matter of opinion.”

Strangely, Hawkins perceives herself to be free from the slough of religious irrationalism that she imposes on others. One can only conclude with Hawkins that religious truth is merely opinion and thus autobiographical, without objective meaning; or that Hawkins believes to possess that privileged place of objectivity that allows her to pass universal judgment on religious truth claims.

If it’s the former, then her letter was just one more person’s “spiritual belief” expressing a distaste for other religious perspectives, which isn’t very remarkable. However, if it’s the latter, then she believes her letter conveyed objective truth about religion and her point is self-contradictory.

Hawkins’ view has the pretense of even-handedness. But the fact is that it’s just one more perspective that claims to have religious truth cornered.

Because the Christian Scriptures teach that Christ is the Truth and the exclusive Way, all contrary claims are false by definition, including Islam. Therefore, Hawkins’ denial of such claims is just another way of saying that Christianity is a “false religion,” the very thing she wants to “take exception” with.


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