Saturday, April 08, 2017

Hank Hanegraaff's Promotion Of Eastern Orthodoxy

Somebody recently told me he's heard that Hank Hanegraaff has been attending an Eastern Orthodox church. This individual was also concerned about a report that Hanegraaff had become an Orthodox catechumen, though some people with a close relationship with the Christian Research Institute (CRI) told him that it's not true.

Before I cite some of Hanegraaff's recent positive comments about Orthodoxy, I want to give some examples of how mixed his comments about Evangelicalism and Orthodoxy have been over the years. He'll make comments that are highly supportive of Orthodoxy at one point, but identify himself as an Evangelical, or at least seem to do so, at another point. In response to a call beginning at 47:22 on his October 15, 2014 radio program, he distinguishes between what Orthodox believe about the Apocrypha and what "we" believe. On the other hand, in response to a call at 40:17 on his May 5, 2016 program, Hanegraaff misrepresented the history of eucharistic doctrine, as if there was agreement about an Eastern Orthodox view of a eucharistic presence during the first millennium of church history. A little past the 50:00 point in his February 8, 2017 program, he comments that "I have the scripture as my rule of faith and practice", which sounds Evangelical, but may not be intended that way. He doesn't use a qualifier like "alone". Near the beginning of Hanegraaff's March 8, 2017 radio program, he commented that Mary is "the apex of all of humanity" and "the model for all that we are to become in Christ", going on to say that "while Islam venerates Muhammad, Christianity venerates Mary". Later in the same program, when discussing other topics, he seems to affirm some Evangelical and non-Orthodox positions at some points, yet uses more ambiguous language and language that seems more in line with Orthodoxy at other points. See the call on baptism and salvation at 23:13 and the call on the imputation of Christ's righteousness and confession of sin at 46:51.

Why Won’t the US Help Syrian Christians Fighting ISIS?

https://stream.org/wont-u-s-help-syrian-christians-fighting-isis/

Friday, April 07, 2017

When both sides are villains

In general, I like what the Trump administration has been doing. An exception was Ryancare. I was happy to see that crash and burn–not because I like Obamacare, but because Ryancare locked in the core assumptions of Obamacare. 

I have no firm opinion about what, if anything, to do concerning Syria. When it comes to the Mideast, it's usually a choice between the disastrous consequences of business as usual compared to the disastrous consequences of military intervention. Moreover, there's the dilemma of taking sides when both sides are villains. For an intelligent critique of military intervention in Syria:

The bell curve of theism

1. Having done a post on the bell curve of atheism:


I was, not surprisingly, asked about a sequel for Christianity or theism. A few preliminaries:

i) There are different kinds of intelligence. Because Christianity is a religion centered on historical events and sacred texts, it recruits for scholars who excel at linguistics and historical reconstruction. That's a different kind of intelligence than a mathematical, philosophical, or scientific aptitude, although those are not mutually exclusive. 

To take an example, Aquinas probably had a higher IQ than Calvin. However, Calvin is interdisciplinary. A great pioneering systematic theologian. A fine philosophical theologian. An outstanding Bible commentator, by the standards of the day. He's a product of Renaissance scholarship. Knew Greek and Hebrew. It's a different skill set than Aquinas.

ii) The bell curve is about IQ. That's not a criterion of truth. A person can be very smart and very wrong. And that's a crucial distinction in theology. For instance, Rahner is very brilliant, but his frame of reference is hopelessly mistaken. This post is not a list of recommendations–although some of them I strongly recommend. 

It is useful, however, to point out that people aren't Christians or theists because they're too dumb to know any better. 

iii) My list will skimp on Jewish representatives simply because I'm more conversant with the Christian landscape than the Jewish landscape. Needless to say, Jews are disproportionately represented in math and science. There's a further distinction between nominal/secular Jews and believing Jews. 

iv) I'm not qualified to handicap how some people rank in the pecking order of science. I judge them by reputation 

v) Who makes the cut in my divisions is somewhat arbitrary. Even within my divisions, some are more gifted than others. 

vi) I'm not sure quite how to classify pagan philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. How theistic were they? 

Likewise, I'm not sure how to classify Da Vinci. Nominal Catholic? 

vii) Finally, my lists aren't meant to be exhaustive. No doubt I may omit or overlook significant figures. Sometimes that's deliberate, sometimes inadvertent. 

2. At the very tippy top of the bell curve are some theists of genius, viz. Anselm, Aquinas, Augustine, Bayes, Berkeley, Cantor, Alonzo Church, Descartes, Jonathan Edwards, Euler, Gödel, William Hamilton, Leibniz, Maimonides, Maxwell, Newman, Newton, Pascal, Plato, Riemann, Scotus. 

That's a list of historical figures. They're about as smart as humans get. 

A bit lower on the bell curve, but very significant, are Butler, Locke, Paley, and Reid. Perhaps this is where I should put Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg. 

3. Among contemporary figures, theists at or near the very top of the bell curve probably include Francis Collins, William Dembski, Donald Knuth, David Gelernter, Saul Kripke, John Lennox, Juan Maldacena, Robert Marks, Stephen Meyer, Martin Nowak, Don Page, Jonathan Sarfati, Henry Schaefer, Rupert Sheldrake, Wesley So, James Tour, and Andrew Kamal.

That list has a focus on math, and science. And that list could no doubt be expanded. 

4. Among recent or contemporary Christian thinkers, I'd say the smartest are probably: William Lane Craig, Peter van Inwagen, Peter Geach, Michael Almeida, Alvin Plantinga, Vern Poythress, Nicholas Rescher, Alexander Pruss, Bas van Fraassen, and Peter van Inwagen.

(3) and (4) overlap.  

5. A list of the most talented scholars includes Dale Allison, Richard Bauckham, Gleason Archer, Roger Beckwith, F. F. Bruce, David Noel Freedman, Martin Hengel, Kenneth Kitchen, Craig Keener, Meredith Kline, John Lightfoot, Bruce Metzger, D. S. Margoliouth, Alan Millard, Adolf Schlatter, Donald Wiseman, Edwin Yamauchi, E. J. Young, Theodor Zahn. 

6. It would be a mistake to overlook artistic genius, viz. Bach, Handel, Dante. 

7. Vos and Warfield were the intellectual standouts at Princeton. 

8. Robert Adams, Elizabeth Anscombe, Alston, Swinburne, Tim & Lydia McGrew, Van Til, Wolterstorff, John Warwick Montgomery are topnotch thinkers. As are James Anderson, John Frame, Paul Helm, Paul Manata, and Greg Welty. And keep your eye on Jonathan McLatchie and Neil Shenvi.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Easter Prophecy Fulfillment

I wanted to put together a collection of links to some of our posts on the fulfillment of prophecies related to the Easter season. Since the fulfillment of these prophecies postdates our earliest Old Testament manuscripts, there's no need to argue for the traditional dating of the Old Testament books. But for those who are interested in that topic, you can find some of our posts on the subject linked here.

I wrote a post on Facebook about Jesus' fulfillment of the Suffering Servant prophecy.

The opening of the Suffering Servant prophecy and some other passages in Isaiah and elsewhere refer to the impact the Servant and Israel would have on the Gentile world. Here's a post I wrote on the subject. And here's a post on how such passages give us modern evidence for the deity of Christ.

Near the end of this post on the book of Daniel, there's some material on Jesus' fulfillment of the Seventy Weeks prophecy and some other predictions in Daniel.

Here's something about Psalm 22.

And here's something Steve Hays wrote about Psalm 16:10.

No peace without victory

I haven't studied the Benedict Option in-depth. But here are my three off-the-cuff reactions:

i) The future is unpredictable. I'm not an optimist or a pessimist. I don't know in advance how things will turn out. There are times and places in church history when Christians are forced into a very contracted existence. So there may be times and places where something like the Benedict Option may be the best we can settle for.

ii) But defeatism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By assuming that the cultural dominance of Christian values is a lost cause, we marginalize ourselves. If you surrender, you're bound to lose. If you keep on fighting, you're likely to win some and lose some. There are many chinks in the secular armor. I don't presume that secularism is inevitable. But if you stop trying to stop it, your capitulation makes it unstoppable. The sure way to lose a tug of war is for one side to let go. 

iii) Finally, it's naive. I'm reminded of Machen's analogous observation that:

It may well be questioned, however, whether this method of defense will really prove to be efficacious; for after the apologist has abandoned his outer defenses to the enemy and withdrawn into some inner citadel, he will probably discover that the enemy pursues him even there. Modern materialism, especially in the realm of psychology, is not content with occupying the lower quarters of the Christian city, but pushes its way into all the higher reaches of life; it is just as much opposed to the philosophical idealism of the liberal preacher as to the Biblical doctrines that the liberal preacher has abandoned in the interests of peace. Mere concessiveness, therefore, will never succeed in avoiding the intellectual conflict. In the intellectual battle of the present day there can be no "peace without victory"; one side or the other must win. 

To build on Machen's point, secular progressives are utterly intolerant of Christianity. They are not content to deracinate religion from the public square. They won't tolerate the private practice of religious dissent. They won't tolerate politically incorrect beliefs. You will lose your job. Your children will be brainwashed in public school. They demand unconditional endorsement of the current liberal orthodoxies. 

The bell curve of atheism

Atheists range up and down the bell curve. Let's attempt a classification. 

Before plunging in, how we rank intelligence is tricky. For instance, some people are freakishly brilliant at one particular thing, but not equally brilliant outside their narrow talent. 

Some philosophers are smarter than some scientists, because, to be a good philosopher requires an ability for abstract analysis, whereas many sciences are more concrete, hands-on. However, it takes great ability in abstract analysis to excel as a theoretical physicist. Same thing with mathematicians–or mathematical physicists. 

It's also the case that physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers range along a continuum. 

On the other hand, the complexity of biology may select for a different kind of intelligence. An ability to zero in on something crucial. Ignore the distracting welter of detail. An ability to form a reliable generalization over vast and varied phenomena. 

1. At the very tippy top of the secular bell curve you have some atheists of genius. I have in mind some great scientists, mathematicians, and chess players, viz. Dirac, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Mandelbrot, Pauli, Pauling, Penrose, Poincaré, Shannon, Turing, von Neumann, and Witten. 

I'm not suggesting that all the greatest scientists, mathematicians, and chess players are atheists. But those are stereotypical paradigms of high IQ. 

The people I named, and that's just a sample, are about as smart as humans get. However, there's a catch: the smartest atheists are geniuses who happen to be atheists. It's not central to their self-identity. They don't define themselves by atheism. They don't devote their life to disproving religion and promoting atheism. That's not where they invest their intellectual energies. That's not their area of interest. 

2. A little lower down on the bell curve are some very brilliant secular philosophers, viz. Frege, David Lewis, Héctor-Neri Castañeda, However, like the first group, these are philosophers who happen to be atheists, rather than secular philosophers of religion.

I'm not quite sure where to put Hillary Putman. A super-smart philosopher. Later in life he became an "observant Jew," but from what I can tell, that was about practice rather than faith. 

Similarly, but not in quite the same intellectual league, are Fordor and Chalmers. 

3. Bertrand Russell was both very brilliant and a popularizer of atheism. He could do sustained, probing analysis in philosophy when he put his mind to it. But when it came to religion, he contented himself with witty, moralistic potboilers. 

4. Compared to (1), W. V. Quine is a little lower on the bell curve. Although he rarely if ever directly attacks religion or Christianity, he labored to develop a systematically naturalistic ontology and epistemology. A thoroughgoing alternative to theism. An indirect attack, by attempting to supplant it. 

5. Oppy, Sobel, McTaggart, and Mill may be the most brilliant thinkers who write sustained attacks on religion.  

6. Further down the bell curve than (3-5) are atheists like Antony Flew, Mackie, Rowe. They lack the quicksilver brilliance and rhetorical panache of Russell, but compensate by attempting serious, methodical attacks on religion. And unlike Quine, they explicitly attack Christian theism. 

7. In a niche of his own making is Thomas Nagel, whose intellectual independence sets him apart. 

8. You also have a slew of competent but not outstanding academic atheists, viz. Shellenberg, Gale, Grünbaum, Drange, Draper, Dennett, Smart, Parsons, Pigliucci, Wielenberg, Nielsen, and Quentin Smith. 

In-between (8) and (9) I'd place Michael Martin. 

9. Further down the bell curve are academic hacks like Stephen Law, Boghossian, and Paul Kurtz. These are academic popularizers. 

10. Apropos (9) are affirmative action atheists. Token female philosophers who lack any particular intellectual distinction, but exist to fill a quota, viz. Andrea Weisberger, Louise Antony.

(I don't deny that there are some very brilliant women.)

11. Perhaps even further down the bell curve are the pulp popularizers. From an older generation you have Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Andrew Dickson White, Mencken. A more recent example is Christopher Hitchens. 

11. Then you have a special category of popularizers who are science writers or washed up scientists, viz. Carroll, Coyne, Dawkins, Harris, Hawking, Kitcher, Krauss, Ruse, Sagan, Shermer, Susskind,  Stenger, Weinberg, Neil deGrasse Tyson, PZ Myers. In some cases they lack the brilliance to make an original and notable contribution to scientific knowledge. In other cases their best work is behind them. Unsurprisingly, they are massively ignorant of philosophy and theology (although Ruse is a cut above).

12. Then there's the category of the celebrity apostate. Bart Ehrman is the current darling, while John Loftus is a wannabe. 

13. You also have secular ethicists and policy wonks like Richard Posner, Peter Singer, and John Rawls. 

14. Near the bottom of the heap is Richard Carrier. Intellectually, he's above average. In high school I'd expect him to be a member of the honor society. If, however, you dropped him into the student body of CalTech or MIT, he'd disappear without a trace. A smart dilettante who doesn't know his limitations. 

15. At the nadir of the bell curve are the proudly, hopelessly dumb and ignorant Internet atheists who swarm Reddit, YouTube, and Debunking Christianity, &c.

16. I should add that there's a bell curve for believers which parallels the bell curve for unbelievers. Christians and theists range along the bell curve, and some occupy the tippy top. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Dismissing “The Benedict Option” In Favor of “The Grace of God” Option

The Benedict Option: Read the Review, not the book
First, a bit of ironic humor: When I speak to Christian groups the question I hear most often is: “How do the Jews keep their children in the fold?” The answer, of course, is that most of us don’t. As the joke goes, the difference between Donald Trump and a liberal Jew is that Trump has Jewish grandchildren.

A question that preoccupies many of us, both in election years and non-election years, is “how can Christians (and Christianity) maintain an influence in a world that seems to trend more ungodly with each passing minute?”

One option put forth is by the Methodist-turned-Roman-Catholic-turned-Eastern-Orthodox writer Rob Dreher, is “The Benedict Option” – not named after “Pope Benedict”. Both “The Benedict Option” and “Pope Benedict” are named after the fifth-century Monastic Benedict of Nursia, who developed the famous “Rule of St. Benedict” not merely for “monasticism”, but for “a confederation of autonomous communities” living apart from the world. It is said that “most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages” adhered to this rule.

David Goldman has reviewed “The Benedict Option”, and he has done it in a non-fawning way:

Monday, April 03, 2017

Is Jesus a ghost?

The short answer to the title of the post is "no". That said, it's not uncommon for liberal scholars or outright atheists to claim that Paul's reference to a "spiritual body" in 1 Cor 15 denotes something etherial, in contrast to a physical resurrection. On that view, a "spiritual body" would be something like a ghost. 

The usual evangelical argument is that a "spiritual body" is not an immaterial body; rather, that's shorthand for a body empowered by the Spirit of God. And I think that's a persuasive interpretation.

But let's play along with the ghostly resurrection for the sake of argument. It's striking because this is generally put forward by critics of orthodox Christianity, yet it has ironic consequences for critics of orthodox Christianity.

On the orthodox view, if the corpse of Jesus never came back to life, that falsifies Christianity. But according to the ghostly interpretation, even if we discovered the bones of Jesus, that wouldn't falsify Christianity since the Pauline paradigm doesn't require a physical resurrection.  

Perhaps a critic would object that while that's true considered in isolation, it contradicts Gospel accounts regarding the empty tomb. Ah, but that presents another irony. Given the ghostly interpretation, a Christian could help himself to one of the naturalistic explanations for the empty tomb (e.g. swoon theory, wrong tomb, stolen body, nonburial, body moved) because, on the ghostly interpretation, there needn't be a supernatural explanation for the empty tomb since Jesus wasn't supposed to be physically resurrected. It doesn't matter what happened to the corpse. Here a conservative Christian can use one liberal theory to deflect another liberal theory. 

Perhaps, though, a critic would object that even if that explains the empty tomb accounts, consistent with the ghostly interpretation, it fails to explain the emphasis in Luke and John on the solidity of the Risen Jesus.

But if (ex hypothesi), we're going to use the ghostly interpretation of 1 Cor 15 as our frame of reference, then it makes sense to question the traditional interpretation of Luke and John, to bring them in line with 1 Cor 15. From what I've read, apparitions can appear to be 3D. Block out light. Be seen from different angles. In a fraction of cases, they are even said to be tangible. So, if we were using the ghostly interpretation of 1 Cor 15 as our benchmark, that could still be harmonized with the post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus in the Gospels. 

I'm not saying that's how I interpret the Gospel accounts. But then, that's not how I interpret 1 Cor 15. If, however, a liberal or atheist is going to insist that in 1 Cor 15, a "spiritual body" is etherial rather than physical, two can play that game. They can't pit that against the Gospels. So that wouldn't be a defeater for Christianity, on their own grounds, so long as the "resurrection" is consistently ghostly in the Gospels and 1 Cor 15 alike. 

This creates a dilemma for the critic of orthodox Christianity. How do they disprove Christianity? They can't disprove Christianity by claiming that the Resurrection never happened if they define a resurrection in immaterial terms. For by that logic, it only has to be a ghost or apparition. 

The only way they could disprove the Resurrection on those terms is if a reported ghost or apparition of the dead can only a hallucination. But a problem with that contention is that we have evidence of veridical apparitions and ghosts. 

So the dilemma persists. Having raised a shortsighted objection to the physical resurrection of Christ, the critic has unwittingly made the Resurrection unfalsifiable. 

Martians

I recently got into an impromptu Facebook debate with a religious pluralist. I've rearranged the comments to group related comments together:

Wayne
Were the 12 disciples reasoned into their faith?

Hays
They were eyewitnesses to the miracles of Jesus, including the Resurrection. 

Wayne
Was St. Paul?

Hays
He was converted through Jesus making a personal appearance to him. And, in addition, his own ministry was confirmed by miracles. 

Wayne 
How is this equivalent to being "reasoned into their faith" in the way that Jonathan suggests?

Hays
Among other lines of evidence, Jonathan appeals to testimonial evidence. That's an extension of firsthand observation, which we rely on that all the time, and it's often highly reliable. 

Wayne
He was knocked on flat on his (back?), struck blind, and communicated with directly by the risen Lord. How is this equivalent to being 'reasoned into his faith' in the way that Jonathan suggests?

Hays
Same answer (see above).

Wayne
It only implies inerrancy if you are desperate to find grounds for inerrancy.

Hays
So you're now admitting that your question was disingenuous. You never wanted an answer. 

Wayne
Divine inspiration more plausibly suggests infallibility with regard to a spiritual message, assuming the target audience happens to have ears to hear (i.e. an open heart in the presence of the Holy Spirit).

Hays
You're confusing the inspiration of Bible writers with the illumination or regeneration of readers. 

Wayne
If the traditional arguments that you have in mind are inductive, they cannot in principle support the absolute conclusion of 'inerrancy'.

Hays
You seem to be confusing an "absolute" position (i.e. the Bible has no errors) with absolute proof. But that's a non sequitur. 

I don't believe there are any Martians residing in subterranean cities on the red planet. That's an "absolute conclusion," inasmuch as my belief amounts to a universal negation. 

Is it a problem for my believe that my arguments for that conclusion are probabilistic rather than absolute? Do I need apodictic proof to be justified in my belief that there are no Martians hiding in underground complexes?

Wayne
And I'm saying that you can never arrive at a belief in inerrant scriptures (as regards internal consistency for over 1000 years or as applies to every claim that might seem to have a bearing on science or history) without having been coerced (through various kinds of 'group-think', usually involving threats of hell and hopes of paradise). The onus is on you to acknowledge these problems and think them through honestly.

Hays
The onus is not on me to accept the armchair narrative you foist on me. I wasn't raised in fundamentalist churches, so your narrative doesn't apply to me. That's a danger of stereotyping your opponent. 

Wayne 
Your 4 ways of 'making a case for Biblical inerrancy' can only support their general authority and reliability--and even that, typically, for someone who is culturally predisposed to accept them.

Hays
It's amusing how you continue to indulge in fact-free narratives about your opponent's assumed background. In fact, it's a revealing window into your standards of evidence, or lack thereof.

My dad was agnostic. My mother had drifted from the faith when I was growing up. I attended public school K-12. And I had a steady diet of secularized pop cultural TV fare. But don't let that stop you for concocting imaginary backstories about what Bible-believing Christians are culturally predisposed to accept. 

Wayne
How about the commonly held belief in eternal conscious torment-- for the devil and his angels AND for unrepentant human beings --how do you reconcile that idea with the idea of an all powerful, all knowing, all loving creator?

Hays
At this juncture there's nothing to reconcile inasmuch as you haven't even presented an argument for how that's supposed to be irreconcilable. Just bunching some things to gather, then positing an inconsistency, begs the question. The onus is on your to turn your objection into an argument. Then we'll have something to talk about.

Wayne
Why all the collateral damage? Are we or are we not created/chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world?

Hays
The elect, but not humanity in general.

Wayne
If so, why is it necessary that our salvation be bought at the price of the suffering of those who were not so created/chosen?

Hays
Once again, you need to flesh out your contention. In what sense do you think reprobation/double predestination entails that the salvation of the elect was "bought at the price of the suffering of those who were not so created/chosen"?

Wayne
Unless these questions are acknowledged as legitimate and then substantially addressed…

Hays
You're taking intellectual shortcuts while you demand far more from Christians. But the onus is not on Christians to rebut accusatorial questions. Accusatorial questions don't amount to rational objections. If you find something objectionable about Christianity, you assume the initial burden of proof to turn that into an actual argument. You need to give reasons for why that's supposed to be a problem for Christianity. Unless and until you put an actual argument on the table, the burden of proof is not on the Christian to rebut something for which you've provided no evidence.

Wayne
Could he not just as easily have made the choice between annihilation and eternal life?

Hays
Annihilation isn't justice, but an evasion of justice. 

Wayne
Does the end really justify the means?

Hays
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Although any end doesn't justify any means, some ends justify some means. 

Wayne
So the damned never had a chance from the get-go. Not only were they born under the weight of original sin, they were never intended to be saved in the first place. Does that seem reasonable to you? Does that seem like the action of an all knowing, all powerful, all loving God?"

Hays
Yes it does.

This goes back to ancient and perennial debates over the necessary preconditions of moral responsibility. The compatibilist/incompatibilist debate continues to rage in contemporary philosophy, with many variations. It's not as if one side won the argument. 

What people find intuitively plausible or implausible is typically dependent on the examples used to illustrate their intuitions. Change the example, and what appears to be intuitively implausible may now seem plausible, or vice versa. We could get into the weeds of this debate. 

Wayne
If the suffering of the damned is not necessary to some higher good, that makes God a sadistic monster.

Hays
That only follows on the assumption that retributive justice is, at best, an instrumental good rather than an intrinsic good. That's an assumption you need to defend.

Wayne
If it is necessary, it limits his power.

Hays
You seem to have a simplistic grasp of omnipotence. There are things even an omnipotent agent can't do. Take second order goods. In the nature of the case, those can't be produced directly. 

Likewise, although an omnipotent agent can often bypass natural media, he can't do that constantly without destroying the nature of creaturehood. If God opts to achieve an effect through a natural medium, that limits what he can do. That's a self-imposed limitation. To work through a medium is to accept the in-built constraints of the medium. And that's the nature of mundane existence. Our mode of subsistence is creaturely. So God relates to us on our own level–or else not at all. 

Wayne
You mistake moral and intellectual clarity for accusations. I'm saying that you cannot reconcile the traditional attributes of God with the commonly held teaching of eternal conscious torment.

Hays
Yes, that's what you're saying. By saying and showing are two different things. 

Wayne
Prophesies are like horoscopes--they are vague and ambiguous--easy to read whatever meaning into.

Hays
According to you. 

Wayne
As a Christian…

Hays
Was that sarcastic? 

Wayne
I must admit that Isaiah 53 seems incredibly compelling. But to the average Jew, not so much, eh?

Hays
You mean, like the Jewish authors of the NT?

Wayne
But even as a Christian [sic], I don't find, 'I called my son out of Egypt' (Matthew quoting Hosea) at all persuasive. Do you?

Hays
A striking example of typology. And in the nature of the case, we're in a better position to appreciate the emerging pattern in retrospect. 

Wayne
Miracles fall under historicity and are often doubtful, to say the least.

Hays
Because you say so. 

Wayne
Finally, the fact that many objections have been fielded just shows the ingenuity of apologists. Many have been fielded well, to be sure, and many have not.

Hays
Because you say so. 

Wayne
Moreover, your argument is so weak that it is laughable to anyone who is seriously concerned with the question.

Hays
You're not entitled to speak on behalf of others. We didn't vote to make you the standard of comparison.

Wayne 
To deny the seriousness and legitimacy of these objections...

Hays
You're at liberty to regard your objections as "serious" and "legitimate". You are not at liberty to impose your plausibility structure on anyone else. 

Wayne
And to pressure people to believe these doctrines

Hays
We're simply pointing out what God requires of his people. 

Wayne
Poses a moral hazard (since it encourage people to deny the logical and moral implications of such teachings)

Hays
Putting aside your tendentious characterization of their "logical" and "moral" implications, it's dangerous to encourage people to deny revealed truths.

Wayne
If you wish to discuss these ideas further, you need first to demonstrate that you at least understand my objections to them.

Hays
I'm not commenting for your benefit, but for the benefit of lurkers.

Wayne
Moreover, we haven't even broached the topic of other faiths and other scriptures

Hays
Well, that's easily disposed of. Muhammad was a false prophet by his own yardstick. He told doubters to measure him by the Bible. He doesn't measure up. End of story. 

Joseph Smith was a classic con artist. The evidence is abundant.

I'd say Swedenborg was either mentally ill or demonically possessed. 

Even in principle, the Hindu scriptures can only be as inspired as the nature of divinity in Hinduism, which ranges from an impersonal concept of the divine to folk polytheism. In the former case, inspiration is impossible, and in the latter, it would amount to revelation from gods who are finite in knowledge and morally flawed. 

Buddhism ranges from atheism to folk polytheism. Same problem. 

I could continue, but that's a start. 

Wayne
And the spiritual lives of those born in other cultures before and after the common era.

Hays
Like what? Buddha deserting his wife? Vedic sages getting high on mushrooms? 

Wayne
Unless Christian apologists are willing to seriously inquire into all these questions, it is no wonder that young people can be talked out of their faith.

Hays
What Christian apologists have you read? What about Win Corduan on Eastern religion? What about D. S. Margoliouth and Michael Nazi Ali on Islam (to name a few)?

Complaints about the morality of everlasting punishment are nothing new. You think Christian apologists have ignored that? Surely you jest.

Once again, there's an scholarly literature defending the inerrancy of Scripture from various angles. It's not as if Christian "apologists" (i.e. scholars, philosophers, scientists) have neglected that issue.

Wayne
Indeed, their faith was little more than indoctrination to begin with."

Hays
You could say that for anything. You could say that for a kid raised in "progressive Christian" churches. You could say that for a kid raised in atheism.

Wayne
So doing, our faith is no longer dependent on the idea of inerrant scriptures or fear of hell

Hays
That's because your faith is an intellectual compromise that isn't consistently based on revelation or naturism. 

Wayne
Rather, we can recognize and honor the light that lights everyone who comes into the world and acknowledge, truly, that whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely.

Hays
As I noted before, you're ripping those passages out of context. They are set in the context of cultivating explicit faith in the historical Jesus of the Gospels.

Wayne
Most compelling, from where I stand, is the notion of the perennial philosophy which finds historical and cultural expression in various religious and philosophical traditions, including Christianity. The latter, certainly, has some historical basis, but one need not imagine that this tradition must be true in every historical detail-- or that it is the only on-ramp to the Way of Truth and Life --in order for it to be an authentic on-ramp that functions positively in the lives of individuals and communities.

Hays
A basic problem is that you're caught in the self-refuting dilemma of the religious pluralist and relativist. In order to distill a core of common truth in various religious and philosophical traditions, you must exempt yourself from the skepticism you impute individual adherents. You must simultaneously assume a God's-eye view of what reality is like while you deny that same objectivity to the benighted adherents of each and every religious and philosophical tradition. The rest of us are blind men groping different parts of the elephant, while you alone are sighted, so you can see the whole picture. 

Wayne
To invite skeptics to bracket their skepticism and look to the living Christ who is not so far from any one of us.

Hays
You offer than nothing but your own skepticism. Drowning men clinging to each other, as they sink beneath the waves.

You then engage is a classic word-study fallacy, by supposing that the concept of Biblical faith is reducible to the dictionary definition of a word.

Wayne
Instead, to the living Reality that IS Christ-in-you

Hays
Unbelievers don't have "Christ-in-them".

Wayne 
Behold I stand at the door and knock... Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely...

Hays 
Think it about it. Really think. Those passages require a response. An informed response. They require historical knowledge of Jesus to respond. You desperately want these passages to mean something they clearly don't. Moreover, it's just a charade for you to prooftext your position from Scripture when you deride the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. You're position is riddled with glaring inconsistencies.