Thursday, July 31, 2008

The resurrection and self-commitment

There are probably very few readers who read this personal blog but not What's Wrong with the World, the group blog to which I contribute. But it just so happens that a couple of the possibilities I can think of are among those most likely to be interested in this post that I've just put up at What's Wrong With the World.

I was motivated to post it because of a couple of things. For one thing, I've heard for many years--since back when I was a teenage presuppositionalist myself--the phrase, "You can't argue people into the kingdom of God." This was always said with great solemnity in the context of the debate (with which some of you may be familiar) between evidentialists and presuppositionalists in apologetics. It was taken to be a knock-down argument. And even when I became an evidentialist, I would still say it, because it was the kind of thing that seemed common-sensical and true, yet I couldn't see anymore why it was supposed to be an argument against evidentialism. Over the twenty-plus years since then, I've verrry slowwwly figured out, I think, why it was supposed to be an argument and what, precisely, is wrong with it.

And then I was reading N.T. Wright's book--which is very good in many sections, by the way--and came across this unfortunate and somewhat confused passage about how the proposition that Jesus rose from the dead is a "self-committing" proposition and how, therefore, there is no epistemological neutral ground in discussing it (huh?), and that provided a good opportunity to discuss the whole thing.

I'll let you read the other post to get the full scoop. But the core idea of my post is just simply that believing in God isn't the same thing as being a committed Christian. You could conclude that God exists and decide to be several other things instead--e.g., a rebel against God, a completely nominal believer whose faith makes no difference to his life, and so forth.

Something I didn't say in the other post is this: I think that one reason we don't see this nowadays is that we apologists are so seldom arguing with a Jewish audience. The first Christians weren't trying to "get people to believe in God." They were Jews, and their original audience was composed of Jews. They all believed in God.

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