Archive for August, 2008

Church Authority: Argument 2

August 14, 2008

This post is an argument that my presentation of one Protestant view of the Church as reliable in how it forms its beliefs may be valid, and not a straw-man.  The argument is two-part.  First I will produce examples of what I consider to be Protestant attestation to belief in the reliability of the Church.  Second I will give arguments for why a Protestant should accept the conclusion that the Church’s tradition is reliable.  Saying that the Church is reliable means that it tends to get its beliefs correct.  The explanation for why the Church is reliable is that it is led by the Holy Spirit; and being led by the Holy Spirit makes the Church tend to interpret the Bible correctly.  The Bible is divinely-authoritative and factually inerrant in conservative Protestant theology. Consequently the Church tends to get its beliefs about Christian teaching right. (more…)

Church Authority: Argument 1

August 8, 2008

From Reliability to Infallibility

Most Protestants don’t want to say awful things about the Church.  They don’t want to say that the Church became apostate for over a thousand years.  They don’t want to say that the Church is just a mere human institution.  There is something special about it.  The beliefs of its members aren’t just normally-arrived-at human beliefs.  There is divine guidance of some kind.

But in order to not cross the line over to a Catholic ecclesiology, [1] a Protestant must deny the infallibility of the Church.  An essential doctrine of Protestantism is Sola Scriptura.  This view can be defined as the position about authority and Christian teaching that holds that there are no divine authorities about Christian teaching distinct from the content of the Old and New Testaments.  This rules out (a) oral or written tradition distinct from the Scriptures as a source of infallible divine authority and (b) decisions by the Church as a source of infallible divine authority.

How does a Protestant deny the infallibility of the Church but still hold onto the idea that being in the Church tends to make you have the correct beliefs about the content of Christian teaching? (more…)

Should We Change Belief-Systems? Part 2

August 8, 2008

Assumptions and the Search for Truth

The X-Files was right: “The Truth is out there”.  But does that mean we can ever get it?  When people are seeking for the most accurate view of reality, a lot of the time they assume certain things as they search.  They adopt a method, but don’t realize that there are other ways to look for the truth.  In this post, I will argue that the method most people adopt for finding the truest worldview might presuppose that naturalism is false and that some kind of theism is true. I apologize in advance to readers who don’t like philosophical writing; I hope to do the rest of this series of posts in the more casual style that I did my first post in.  But the complexity of the subject matter required a more technical style.

A worldview is a system of related beliefs.  The content of these beliefs answers questions like “Why is there something rather than nothing?” “What can we know?” “What is good?” “What kinds of things exist?”.  I take naturalism to be the belief that nature is all that exists; it is a denial of the existence of a God or gods.  Theism on the other hand is the view that there is an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God who made the world.  I will examine how theism and naturalism fit with several assumptions that some of us make when we seek the truth: that we should be motivated to seek it; that virtue helps us seek truth; and that the truth we will find is good and likable. (more…)

Church Authority: Reply 1

August 1, 2008

When engaging with a sophisticated and elaborate ancient worldview that has been held by thousands of brilliant minds and many a pure heart, it is important to give that tradition the benefit of the doubt. Giving someone or something the benefit of the doubt does not imply assuming it can answer all of the objections that can be leveled against it and make an airtight case for its plausibility. But it does imply assuming that the tradition one is critiquing has answers to what seem like obvious problems with its core teachings.

(Special thanks to a phantom menace for providing many of the resources and ideas for this post.)