The Tentative Apologist
10/9/11 at 12:46 PM 0 Comments

The problem of irrelevant comments explained

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In my last article, "Commenting on the Tentative Apologist" I explained that I will be deleting two types of comments: those that are ad hominem attacks on my person and those that are non sequiturs. In this article I am going to explain further what a non sequitur is by using a recent example.

In my article "Why Christians shouldn't seek a biblical worldview" I explained why Christians ought not talk about having a "biblical worldview". Instead, they should aspire to have a Christian worldview or a worldview consistent with Christian convictions. I gave several reasons for this. To begin with, the very concept of "biblical worldview" is inherently indeterminate since there are many worldviews represented in scripture. A worldview is a set of presuppositions about the nature of reality, including one's understanding of science and natural history, theology and ethics. And the worldviews of Abraham, Moses, David and Paul were all different in critical respects. Abraham, for example, was a monolatrist (he worshipped one god whilst recognizing the existence of other ancient near eastern gods). It is not until the book of Isaiah (more specifically Deutero-Isaiah) that we find Hebrew prophets clearly siding with monotheism. (Christians analyze this doctrinal development in the terms of progressive revelation.) Paul was not only a monotheist but, it would appear, a proto-trinitarian. So if we focus on theological beliefs alone we find various incompatible sets of beliefs or worldviews among the writers of and characters in the Bible. Which of these should we hold?

This leads to a second problem: there are many things we know now about matters in areas like theology and science which were not accepted or believed by the writers of scripture. For example, Christians have confessed the homoousion since the fourth century and the Chalcedonian definition since the fifth century. These doctrinal confessions are consistent with the Bible but are nonetheless post-biblical in their formulation and confession. So to restrict ourselves to a "biblical worldview" would mean a radical delimitation of what it is we can know. Needless to say, there are countless matters of science that are part of our worldview (heliocentrism and plate tectonics for example) which were not part of the worldview of the writers of scripture.

So that was my argument in brief. And then along comes "believer" and comments the following:

rr, a true Christian Worldview would be a Biblical Worldview. Since a worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world we live in. And a Biblical Worldview is one based on the infallible Word of God. When one believes the Word of God is entirely true, then one allows it to be the foundation of everything one says and does. This view would believe that absolute moral truth exist and absolute truth is defined in God's Word. That Christ did live a sinless life and God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and still rules today. Salvation is a gift from God through Christ alone that cannot be earned and satan is real and that a true follower of Christ has the responsibility to share God's plan of salvation with others.

Please observe that there is no critical engagement in this passage with any of my argument. In other words, believer refuses to engage the two arguments I presented and which I summarized above. Instead he/she utters a series of disjointed observations which beg definition (e.g. what does it mean for "a true Christian Worldview" to "be a Biblical Worldview") or are fine but irrelevant to the argument (e.g. "Salvation is a gift from God through Christ alone...").

To make matters worse, believer followed that up with another non sequitur:

rr, and the Word of God is accurate in all it's teaching.

Again, this has nothing to do with the argument I presented. Consequently, believer's comments are non sequiturs. So be warned that under the policy I have now implimented, comments like this that completely ignore what I have argued will be deleted.

In closing, how might one engage critically with my argument? Here's a good rule of thumb. If you want to take issue with what I have said then quote an excerpt from my article and offer a critical response. But piling up a series of platitudes and maxims that are irrelevant to the argument will be a one-way ticket to that desk top recycling bin in the sky. 

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