Thursday, 3 February 2011

Christianity Questions #18, and a conclusion - sort of.

Many non–Christians are offended by the "exclusiveness" of Christianity. Can anything be said in response?
A) Christianity is "universal" in the sense that Jesus invites all people everywhere to receive the gift of eternal life made possible by the death on the cross.

.. Jesus has never been recorded making that invitation - correct me if I'm wrong but I understand that the doctrine of the crucifixion postdates Christ by a long way. However, the story of Jesus healing Canaanites, Romans and tax collectors, and his comments about this, indicate that he did intend his teachings to include everyone. So it is an exclusive club that everyone can join... Schaeffers strongest point here and the best response. Unfortunately he undermines his arguments in the follow up... mistaking the conclusion for the start (common with theists).
B) Since many basic tenets of different religions are contradictory, someone has to be wrong.
... isn't it the Christian perspective that everyone is wrong except for me? Even within Christianity there is conflict over which Christians have got it right. Other positions include "everyone is wrong" and "all religions have some merit - vis: everyone is right to some extent, wrong to some extent, and meaningless to some extent."
C) Exclusivity seem unavoidable. Who wants to board a commercial airplane on which the pilot is not exclusively committed to a safe landing? "Doesn’t the pluralist believe exclusively that several religions provide acceptable paths to God?" The exclusion of exclusivity is also exclusive. 
... this is a mistake: he thinks that exclusivity is the exclusion of anything however trivial. In fact, it is the exclusion of all else besides some small group considered privileged. Thus you can exclude exclucivity without being exclusive. However, we can include exclusivity and still find it offencive - Schaeffer needs to be less impressed with himself... but then, so do I.

Aside: there is more to a pilots job than landing the plane ... so I would not want him to be exclusive to that one task.
D) Christianity’s uniqueness arises not from the narrow–mindedness of individual Christians, but from the extraordinary claims of Jesus Christ, attested by those who were eyewitnesses of His life, death, and resurrection
Its uniqueness arises from the assertion that only Christianity is correct - everything else is common to a wide variety of different religions. Only Christians can get into Heaven. If Heaven was a nightclub we'd say it was an exclusive nightclub. His best answer so far is the one at the start. After all there are websites which are like this: you can only post if you are a member but anyone can join... what's the problem?

While there are many other questions that intelligent people ask about God, these are some of the principal ones that could become intellectual roadblocks to those who are truly seeking to know the truth about God. As you can see from the answers I have put forth, I do not believe that any of these are sufficient to keep a reasonable person from pursuing a personal relationship with God.
I'm going to have to agree with this statement, such deliberately misrepresented and poorly phrased questions should not trouble an intellegent persona at all - though a thoughtful person will wonder why these answers should be at all pursuasive.


  1. In conclusion, I agree with your conclusion about Schaeffer's conclusion. Heh heh.

  2. Thinking about it a bit more, I think Schaeffer's an apologist in truth seekers clothing. Perhaps he doesn't even know this himself.

  3. Hey Simon,
    Check out this report about asteroid Apophis.
    This was presented to the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference in Washington DC.


  4. Um ... it's a bunch of slides from a presentation which rehashes the standard scenarios for reacting to a possible asteroid impact. Apophis itself is listed in the slides as being of negligible threat. Note that the deflection-bombs are all in the kiloton range? The main problem is in the delivery.

    Near Earth asteroids follow a scribbly orbit, but those likely to impact the Earth have already done so. We still have to keep an eye on these things since some of them could get knocked off their normal course ...