Other Writings and ReflectionsThe Outsider Test for Faith: How Serious a Challenge Is It?
First paragraph (sans footnotes):
The crusading atheist John Loftus, formerly a fundamentalist preacher who left the faith of his youth and set up the Debunking Christianity website, has made quite a splash in the blogosphere with his so-called Outsider Test for Faith. He first articulated his understanding of this test in his book Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, and he defended it further and also responded to criticisms in “The Outsider Test for Faith Revisited.” The upshot is that he and others, many of whom frequent his website, seem to think that the Outsider Test represents a formidable challenge to faith of any kind. Frank Zindler, editor of American Atheist Magazine, has thus written: “If John Loftus never wrote anything else, he will be remembered a century from now for his Outsider Test for Faith.” But is Zindler right about that? Do we really have here a serious challenge to religious belief? For my own part, I seriously doubt it.
The Rob Bell Affair
Although much of the initial firestorm on the web over Rob Bell's book, Love Wins, now seems to have faded, I have observed with both astonishment and considerable amusement the near hysteria that this book has provoked in some evangelical circles. I therefore record here three short items that I have written: a brief customer review at Amazon Books, a comment on a long critical review of the book, and an analysis of Martin Bashir's unjustly celebrated interview of Bell in which Bashir, not Bell, merely shoots himself in the foot, so to speak.
Concerning False Prophets and the Abuse of Revelation
For two reasons, this is my favorite unpublished paper. First, I love the parable of Morg and Nivlac, which begins "Long ago in ancient Atlantis...." For you see, I always wanted to write a fantasy story. But the first sentence would always come out, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit," and that, of course, has already been done. Second, though the paper was written several decades ago, I still find utterly compelling its critique of.....oops, I better not say, or that will spoil the fun! My thanks to Gene Pineda for the work he has done in formatting this paper as a PDF file.
Postings to the Net
Occasionally, I have been inspired to enter an electronic forum and to engage others on some theological topic, and once in a while I may even have managed to address an issue in ways that may be of interest to a larger audience. So here I reproduce a few "discussion starters" that I have employed and a few exchanges as well. Some of these were first posted decades ago even before the advent of the world wide web. So many of the ideas represented here also receive further elaboration in various published writings of my own.
- A Simple Argument for Universalism
- Universalism, Calvinism, and Arminianism: Some Preliminary Reflections
- The Essential Role of Freewill in Universal Reconciliation
- Are Some Sins Unpardonable?
- Does Matthew 25:46 Teach Unending Punishment? In this post, which originally appeared on the Evangelical Universalist website (Click here for the original post and subsequent discussion of it), I explain why a popular interpretation of Matthew 25:46 is quite fallacious.
- A Question about Hitler. In an electronic forum I once asked how many felt that in Hitler's shoes they would have fared any better than he did. It was not at all a precise question, but it did spark an intriguing discussion. So I reproduce here both my original question and my response to the replies I received.
- Concerning Limited Election and Reprobation. Here I reproduce six entries from my side of an exchange with one, Zachary Haston, and these illustrate, I believe, some of the logical paradoxes to which an Augustinian (or Calvinistic theology) inevitably succumbs.
- Concerning Revelation and the Bible. These four posts, one of which appeared in the old newsgroup soc.religion.christian and the other three of which appeared in the Society of Christian Philosophers Listserve, deal with the way in which some Christians employ the Bible in support of morally repugnant doctrines.