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« Is the Book of Revelation Literal? | Main | Links Mentioned on the 5/05/15 Show »

May 05, 2015

Comments

[Formatting added for clarity]

What is missing is why someone is eternally separated from God. It is not because they did not accept Jesus as their savior, it's because they have sinned. If Gandhi never sinned and is eternally separated from God, then God would be unjust. However, Gandhi certainly sinned in his 78 years on Earth and being a decent person who is deeply religious and spiritual cannot atone for those sins. If God made an exception for Gandhi because he was a "great and decent human being", then God would not be acting just and fair. The penalty for sin is death, no matter how "good" and spiritual someone is. Also, it appears implied that what matters is being good, decent, spiritual, and religious, regardless of the person’s belief system, i.e. Christianity or Hinduism. Conclusion 3 does not follow from the given premises (namely A2) because in Christianity there isn’t a third option, it’s only eternally with God or without Him.

I appreciate the syllogistic approach.

I have a few thoughts.
1) I think the mentioning of the word "fair" here is really redundant, given the word "just".

2) The argument, the way it is written, assumes that being deeply relgious and spiritual makes someone worthy of Heaven, as if all the sins are forgoven a person because he adheres to a certain reigion with gumption and has a mind focused on spiritual things. His first rebuttal syllogism states that such a man being condemned by a benevolent and just god is incongruous. He would have to show that commitment to a religion and spirituality is sufficient grounds to merit forgiveness.

3) It's actually the opposite. A more appropriate syllogism would look like this.
A- Sin is rebellion against God, and Ghandi committed sins.
B- God is benevolent, and hates sin.
C- God is just, and will make sure sin goes punished.
D- Only Jesus's death provides forgiveness for sinners and also satisfies the justice of God in forgiving.
E- Ghandi did not have his sins forgiven through Jesus.
Therefore, Ghandi is in Hell.

Or also,

A- Justice requires that evil be punished and good be rewarded.
B- Ghandi was religious and spiritual, but did not have his sins attoned for.
C- Ghandi died, was forgiven by God, and went to Heaven.
Therefore, God is not just.

Which would mean that Ghandi going to Heaven in virtue of his religion and spirituality would mean God doesn't exist. Ghandi's religious and spiritual commitments don't wash away sin anymore than being really nice and pholanthropic excuse you from treason in a courtroom. It really comes down to this person doesn't understand benevolence or justice. That's not to say it isn't tragic that Ghandi is in Hell, but just that a god that allows people into Heaven because they are religious or spiritual is not a benevolent and just god. He's actualy evil (ignoring evil deeds and dishing out joy) and not just (failing to punish evil).

This argument presupposes everyone would find heaven preferable.

The premise assumes that a person living his or her life rejecting God would, in his or her afterlife, desire to be in God's constant presence for an eternity. In essence, that God would force someone to heaven against their will. How would that qualify as "fair"?

I was going to write my own objection, but Spencer's is more than sufficient. People get Christianity wrong when they believe that heaven that is the ultimate goal. It may be the final destination, but it is not the goal.

The challenge fails due to an unreasonable (and unscriptural) connection: Be a deeply religious and spiritual individual = go to heaven. It seems that the road to hell over-paves its good intentions with the qualities of religious and spiritual. We have this bizarre notion that good people go to heaven. Fine, but how good is that good?

The classic illustration I like is the offer of a free ticket to heaven if but you can leap the Atlantic Ocean. I am sure that some spiritual stud like Gandhi would have a foot or two on me, but we both would fall into the briny blue yards from the shore.

So Jesus taught in Matthew 5: our righteousness had to surpass that of the religious and deeply spiritual men of His day. This includes turning the other cheek, loving the enemy, not lustfully looking at another. In short, be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

So, it is not the case that Christianity is false, it is misunderstood. It was misunderstood by those who murdered Jesus, misunderstood that such action would be politically expedient (John 18:14). Misunderstood by those who took Jesus' Gospel to be political (John 6:15). Misunderstood by those who hear Jesus' comforting claim, "I am the Way, the truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me" (John 14:6), and are totally uncomfortable by it.

Misunderstood by those who never understood the concept of divine grace for sinners, except for the suspicion that it was too easy (as well as place us in a bad light, a lost populace in need of God's work to effect salvation).

Too easy or not, it works. It is the only thing that works.

Marshall and Spencer are entirely correct about the logical flaws they spotted. I couldn't state it any better than they did. :)

It also seems to me that this argument is begging the question by using such moralistic terms as "just," "fair," "great," and "decent" apart from God. Without God, it is only reasonable to ask what these terms would mean.

For simplicity's sake, I'll group all of the moral terms together under the category of Good. Christians understand Good to be defined by God Himself. Someone is Good if he or she is following the parameters that God has given us. However, the author (NuttyZA) is appealing to some standard of Good that is apart from God. This separation of Good from God is necessary if God is going to be judged, which NuttyZA clearly does.

Christians understand the basic concept of the argument to be ridiculous. Since God is the ultimate definer of Good, then all of His ways are Good be definition. The argument is flawed in its foundation. We can't judge God by some external, human-derived standard of Good. God is Good because God defines Goodness. Period.

Closing with a quote from CS Lewis:
"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?"

A.) Christianity states the following:

1. God is benevolent, just and fair and is the standard for Goodness

2. All have sinned against God and Are guilty

3. The only way to salvation (i.e. a pardon for your guilt) is thru repentence of sin and trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. One literally has to accept Jesus as ones savior

B.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (better known as just Gandhi) is universally accepted by humanity as a great and decent human being who:

1. Lived for just over 78 years and is now deceased
Was a Hindu
2. Was a deeply religious and spiritual man however never accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour in the 78 plus years of his life.
3. Died guilty of his sins before God

The three following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements:

1.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now in hell as he died guilty before a just and holy God having never accepted the pardon offered by God for his sins through Jesus Christ.

Therefore God is benevolent, just and fair.

Therefore Christianity is True

2.) Therefore a belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as your saviour is necessary to be forgiven for your sins in order to go to heaven
Therefore Christianity is True

3.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was judged by God and his destiny is in the hands of a Benevolent, Just and Fair God

Therefore your soul will be judged by a Benevolent, Just and Fair God when you die.

Therefore Christianity is True.

While my above analogy is a little messy, what I attempted to point out is that the first premise given by the objector is wrong. However, it is also a point of view given by many Christians when attempting to explain the Gospel which is still wrong.

Once we adjust the first premise to be the correct teaching of scripture, the premises should follow [though, they may need to be cleaned up]

If all of mankind judges a man as righteous, but God judges him as unrighteous, then it must logically follow that either mankind or God is unfit to judge men. The conclusion that God is unjust therefore logically assumes that man is better suited to judge men than God. This is circular reasoning.

Others have already adequately addressed the issue. The only thing I'll try to add is brevity and my own framing of the issue.

The argument mixes an internal critique and an external critique. From the internal standpoint, it takes it for granted that (a) God is just, (b) God sends people to either heaven or hell, and (c) God only sends people to heaven if they have trust in the righteousness of Christ instead of their own righteousness.

It then takes an external standpoint and says that (c) is unjust. But if you cash out the justice of God consistently with Christian theology, (c) is not unjust according to said theology.

What's missing is logical and historical accuracy. Ghandi rejected the salvation offered him by Jesus, and being a deeply religious and spiritual man is nearly meaningless if you're worshiping a pantheon of imaginary dieties. My sister is "a deeply religious and spiritual woman" who worships Satan, should she go to heaven because she is "deeply religious" and "spiritual"?

No, God IS benevolent, just, and fair. God gave Ghandi 78 years to accept Jesus, God gave Ghandi Charles Freer Andrews whom Ghandi called "Christ's Faithful Apostle" a Christian missionary who worked with Ghandi for decades and tried to bring Ghandi to salvation. Ghandi rejected both Andrews and Jesus.

How benevolent, fair, and just would God be if he let Ghandi in to heaven without repenting for rejecting Jesus... and without repenting for years of pedophilia and incest?

I think the flaw in all these so-called arguments against Christianity is that people think we deserve heaven. We all deserve hell. That's the problem. People can be great to each other on a horizontal plane, but the vertical plane is what God is concerned about. God gives us everything and yet we are unthankful. We are sinful. We defy His laws and want to make ourselves gods. That's the sin of humanity. That's the reason why we need Jesus. It's not just allegiance as if saying, "You must have the Boston Red Sox as your favorite baseball team in order to get to heaven." It's not a popularity contest.

We need Jesus because He was the only person who fulfilled the Father's righteous requirements of the law. People love to say, "Oh, my god is a god of love." True God is love, but God also is holy, righteous, and good. And He hates sin. And He hates the sinners who commit the sin (if we don't repent). That's why we need Jesus. That's why people who don't have Jesus as savior have no hope.

This is why we worship God--to give Him thanks for giving us the gift of faith and eternal life even though we don't deserve it. Anyone who thinks they deserve heaven has no idea what the Gospel is all about and doesn't understand the radical depravity of humanity.

Marshall:

You say that lost souls are damned because of their sin, and not because they did not accept Jesus as their savior. I know many would say exactly the opposite. Jesus paid the penalty for all sin, thus all sin is forgiven. All that remains for us is to accept that forgiveness on the terms that it is offered to us. It is that failure which leaves the lost outside of Heaven, outside the protection of God, and subject to the enemies of God, for whom the lake of fire is prepared.

The distinction is important in this context because we must address the apparent cognitive dissonance revealed by this antitheist, which is irreconcilable by your view. One might ask if God would condemn to eternal suffering a person whose only sin was that he once stole a lollipop when he was nine years old. You would have to say yes, cementing the antitheist’s view that God is unjust, and therefore unworthy of his time or attention.

But the truth is that all sin is merely the manifestation of the sinful nature that has been imposed on us. Christ paid the price for all sin “from the foundation of the world.” It was never about us being “good enough”. God can make us perfect in the twinkling of an eye. It’s about freedom.

I’ve mentioned on this forum before that not even God can simultaneously make a person that is both morally perfect and authentically free. This does not violate God’s omnipotence, since the impossibility of this task is inherent – in other words, it is nonsense (like saying God can’t make a square circle). Thus, in order to produce a person that is both morally perfect and authentically free (which is the “peculiar people” that God desires), it is necessary to begin with a morally imperfect person that is essentially free, then allow them the choice to be made perfect.

To the antitheist, this view places the onus of damnation on the person, preserving the justice and even the kindness of God in the case of the relatively good person who chooses to remain as they are, despite the promised outcome.

RonH, I give up. What's your point? That I should not have added the formatting? That I should not have told you I added formatting? I'm stumped.

Are you absolutely sure Ghandi is neither in heaven or hell? If so, then where is he? How did you get that absolute information?- And how are you so sure this is true?

The real fallacy with the argument is as to who defines the term "good person." If the world does, God is neither benevolent or just. If God does, then He is both.

The point I would make is no matter what people thought of Ghandi nor what he thought of himself in Gods eyes he was not perfect. If he made the slightest error(which he made many) that was counter to Gods will, he is not a good person. Merely for the fact that he rejected the one true living God revealed through Jesus is a sin and therefore Ghandi is worthy of judgement just like everyone else. That alone refutes the arguement.

As many others have pointed out, the critical flaw in this argument is the ambiguity as to what it means to be 'benevolent, just, and fair.' The first task we must undertake is to concretize what that charcterization of God is. As others above have pointed out, what is aimed at by this characterization is that God does good to those who deserve good (ie heaven) and ill to those who deserve ill (ie hell).

Our characterization of Christianity then becomes:
A) Christianity is:
1) God does good (heaven) to those who deserve good and ill (hell) to those who deserve ill
2) When you die, your soul goes either to heaven or to hell
3) The only way to deserve good (i.e. Heaven) is thru a belief in Jesus Christ. One literally has to accept Jesus as ones savior.

I've made a slight adjustment to A3 for clarity, replacing 'salvation' with 'deserving good,' which is consistent with our usage in A1.

Next we tackle Ghandi's qualifications for being getting into heaven.
B) Ghandi was considered to be a great and decent human
3) Ghandi was spiritual and religious, but never accepted Jesus as his savior

B1 and B2 don't tell us anything pertinent that B3 doesn't also tell us. What we are looking for in order to establish this disproof of Christianity is a way to massage B and B3 into
B4) Ghandi deserves good (heaven) from God (which would result in a contradiction between A1 and A3)

Let us now split A3 into two distinct premises to highlight the area of potential conflict with A1.

A3*) One way to deserve good (i.e. Heaven) is thru belief in Jesus Christ.

A3**) All those who deserve good from God will do so on the basis of A3*

We may note that establishing B4 consistent with A1, A2, A3* would contradict A3**, and would falsify Christianity.

The difficulty is that we cannot establish B4 with any sort of certainty given our current set A&B. At most we might be able to argue on the basis of set B the conditional:

B4*) If anyone would deserve good (heaven) apart from the basis of A3*, then Ghandi would.

The obvious problem is that B4* is insufficient to contradict A3**. In fact, given a failure to establish B4 given B4*, we might be able todefensibly assert A3** on the basis of B4*. We simply cannot establish the falsity of A3** unless we have an independent basis for asserting B4, which we presently lack (and I'm skeptical as to whether any nonchristians would be able to produce evidence to support B4).

In short, the argument only appears to succeed based on the suspect assertion of B4 apart from any clear evidence or reasoning to back it up. an assertion of B4* is insufficient, as absent the truth of B4, B4* would instead support A3**, corroborating A rather than demonstrating that it is internally contradictory.

Fales premises:
"... Gandhi ... is universally accepted as a great and decent human being".
Says who?

However:
1. God is benevolent for providing a way for Gandhi to come into right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

2. God is fair for giving Gandhi 78 years to come into right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

3. God is just for not forcing him into heaven by honoring Gandhi's willful rejection to come into right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. God is also just for punishing Gandhi's wrong doings in life.

Therefore God remains benevolent, fair and just and Christianity remains true.

What is missing is the biblical concept of sin. Just being 'deeply religious' does not do away with sin and the problem of unrighteousness we have before a holy God. It is not an issue of sincerity or morality (of which Gandi could claim lots of from a human perspective). Sin and separation from God are the issues.

jmscwss,

Interesting thoughts. I've interacted with them, but not here (so as to not throw off the focus of this thread). See here: https://janitorialmusings.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/3226/

1. Going faster than the posted speed limit is against the law.

2. I understand that going faster than the posted speed limit is against the law.

3. I disagree with the posted speed limit.

4. I go faster than the posted speed limit.

5. I get a speeding ticket.

6. The person I passed was driving at the posted speed limit.

7. The consequences of my going faster than the posted speed limit is fair and just because I broke the law and the other person did not.

Disagreeing with the law does not negate my obligation to obey it. Justice and fairness is not determined by my personal feelings but on the law, its purpose, and the prescribed consequences of not following it.

This is the flaw in the first assertion. To say that a law does not apply to a person simply because the person doesn't like the law is a fallacy.

By what standard can Gandhi be judged good?

Hmm, I see the problem as an interpretation. Jesus said he is the truth the light and the way,none enter the kingdom of god but through me. To me this shows that the truths Jesus spoke were the way, 'love god with all your heart,love your neighbor as yourself, do this and live' so clearly an expression of Jesus as lord/god is not required, thus Gandhi loved god,and clearly loved his neighbors...thus he qualifies for grace....

I would challenge that Gandhi is universally accepted as great and decent human being. We cannot exclude God from the count on this...and his judgment is infinitely better than ours. Whom should I trust in this? God or man? God has the greater sight and thus it is who is great and decent in his sight that matters, not who is great and decent in the sight of man. Besides, God's requirement is not greatness and decency...it is moral perfection, which is a higher standard.

The three following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements:

1.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now in hell as he never accepted Jesus as his saviour
2.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now in heaven
3.) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is neither in heaven or hell

Ryan,

If you're going to take your cue from the words of Jesus, what do you do with Jesus saying that "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). If you add that to your list of loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself (and why would you not include it?) then does Gandhi still qualify?

And if Gandhi still qualifies (because he was as perfect as God the Father), why on earth do you think he needs grace? Since when do we qualify for grace?

Finally, if loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourself is all that is required, why did Jesus die?

I believe Naaman's comment way at the beginning of this line holds a crucial key to the perceptions one holds to the challenge that even considers this a decisive defeater of Christianity.

>> We can't judge God by some external, human-derived standard of Good. God is Good because God defines Goodness. Period.

I too took the time to go to the hyperlink Amy supplied and saw the extensive comments to that post. Those that criticized the challenge followed the arguments you have seen throughout this article. Those defending the challenge seemed to not understand some of the key components of the Christian faith that recognizes immediately the weakness of the article. One telling line of argumentation felt that the love that is the main quality of God had to be emotional as its base.

Please, in dealing with the issue of agape-love in 1 Cor. 13, are we dealing with an emotion or an impetus to action? What I mean, I offer in this analogy. A person frantically appeals to two people to give to some charity, some pressing need that anyone could agree is noble and compelling. The appeal is emotion-ridden and tearful. One responder offers tears, hugs, words of concern ... and a $100 check. The other is straight-faced and quite reserved and stoic in response, but gives a $200 donation, quietly hoping for the best.

Which act is more loving?

In dealing with a God of love, we are dealing with the para-emotional, not the love associated with Valentine's Day but the love of determined action. This confusion has been the short-coming of many who wish to remind us that God is love, but not quite have a handle on "love."

Amy. I've gone through a lot of the STR Place Challenges you've posted some time back. This got me to thinking that sometime soon STR should offer a counter-challenge, something along this line. "From the earliest days, from Celsus to Porphyry, atheists have made assertions against Christianity that at best were misunderstandings, or based on misinformation. This seems to be a standard trend through the centuries." I would be the first to state that this counter needs more thought, but it would be nice to see instead of the usual bi-weekly challenge, something along different lines.

Janitor,

Ryan *may* merely be referring to the fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - and perhaps a Gentile named Job - receive Christ.

Literally.

Simply because any lesser any-thing cannot do.

Literally.

Or:

As you rightly allude to, he *may* in error think that one insufficient law merely replaced another insufficient law.

Literally.

Time and Physicality are peculiarly flimsy in that Hell has as little to do with such as Heaven.


What is missing is any mention of the issue of sin.

Jordan Azraei,

We can't claim to know for sure.

Not truly.

It's a hypothetical question which assumes one of two presuppositions. Those being 1) God intentionally withheld the necessary and sufficient means (Christ/Himself) from Gandhi - in which case Gandhi had no hope. Or 2) that Gandhi in fact A) perceived the truth of *Christ* and also then B) in fact withheld himself from Christ.

This challenge, though couched in very logic-like form is really a variation of the "God doesn't run the universe the way I think he ought to, therefore I've proved God doesn't exist" argument that you find so often in books by Darwinists (including, Darwin himself).

As Marshall pointed out in one of the first responses, the logic here shows a clear lack of understanding about sin and conflates individual behaviors with the root of sin: the attitude that I am rejecting God as God and determining for myself what good and evil are. In other words sin is saying to God, I'm going to replace Your definitions of fairness, justice, and benevolence with my own (and then condemn You for not living down to them).

The argument shows the hubris of a finite human with very few real facts about Gandhi, his actions, his motivations, and the attitude of his heart, sitting in judgement of an omniscient being who knew Gandhi better than Gandhi knew himself.

The "logic" here also misses the Grace of Hell. Spending an eternity in the presence of an utterly holy being you despise, in the presence of an overwhelming love you spurn, is a torment that will make a lake of burning sulfur seem like a sauna (to use a bit of hyperbole).

Jordan Azraei,

Clarification:

The phrase "hypothetical question" in my reply to you was inaccurate as it implied a reference to the challenger's "question". Rather, it is simply a reference to *your* question as to how it is anyone can claim to know for sure. The philosophical presuppositions supply the possibilities even though they cannot provide us with the specific knowing your specific question was aimed at.

The challenger assumes the definition of "benevolent, just and fair."

To start with "just", the Christian thinking is that God's justice is rooted in himself. If you define "fair" as "not arbitrary or capricious", then you understand something of the relationship between his justice and his immutability and/or impassibility. So God doesn't go around changing the rules on what he considers just.

Every last one of us has fallen short of God's standard and are worthy only of his wrath. God is benevolent in that he hasn't sent his wrath on us immediately, but rather has provided a way for us to escape his wrath through his Son, Jesus Christ.

To define "just" as the ability for us to earn our way into the favorable presence of God is antithetical to the Christian definition. Therefore, the logic of this whole argument fall apart on that point.

The meaning of the word "fair" is often taken as something that supports the challenger's definition of "just" such that God would be constrained to act according to a human will that is somehow "good enough". However, God is not fair according to this definition. If he were fair, then he would not be benevolent for fairness would have dictated that his wrath be meted out long ago in full. So God has exhibited patience with us. That's not fair. Also, fairness would dictate that an innocent man could not suffer the penalty for guilty men. Nevertheless, Christ did that for us according to the will of the Father. That's not fair. So God isn't fair, but he's not fair in our favor.

So the definitions that the challenger used, while possibly held by some Christians who are less than thoughtful on the matter, are not representative of a mature Christian understanding of what has been revealed to us in the Scriptures. It is a straw man.

"So God isn't fair, but he's not fair in our favor."


Beautifully stated Jim Pemberton ~

hope that helps amy

The premise that Ghandi is "universally accepted as a good and decent human being" assumes that God's standards accept him as such. God's standards as described in the Bible say otherwise.

jmscwss captured the actual *problem" here. The challenge isn't concerned that we have fundamental flaws in our nature.

Everybody knows that simply by being alive.

Nor is the challenge concerned *only* with how that fact "in isolation" ties into the Christian's metaphysical statement on reality.

The challenge is concerned merely with the question of God's response to the flaws we all perceive in ourselves and in others as such affects the coherence of Christianity’s "Set" of truth claims on God and reality.

"The distinction is important in this context because we must address the apparent cognitive dissonance revealed by this antitheist, which is irreconcilable by your view. One might ask if God would condemn to eternal suffering a person whose only sin was that he once stole a lollipop when he was nine years old. You would have to say yes, cementing the antitheist’s view that God is unjust, and therefore unworthy of his time or attention."

If in fact God's response to the obvious - to all of us - is that He is 1) being logically coherent in damning said 9 year old - and that 2) He intentionally withholds from us and from said 9 year old the actual perception of and access to *Himself/Christ* (from the All-Sufficient Means we all ultimately need) - and/or that 3) such withholding is either because He intentionally withholds such or because His Reach is too flimsy, to weak to out-reach mere Time and Circumstance and/or that - finally - 4) all is well "-Because I AM logical in doing so and therefore coherent" then the Atheist has his answer: Christianity is an incoherent set of conflicting statements.

Fortunately none of that captures God's actual response to the obvious problem of our own fundamentally weak and obviously flawed - sinful - natures which we all (painfully) perceive both in ourselves and in others.

Also, there is God's interface with Man - with all contours of created reality, such that we find in 1 - 4 something that sums to that which is less than the language of God revealed in Christ. Given such is the case, we move a little further:


If in fact God's response to the obvious - to all of us - is that He is 1) being logically coherent in damning said 9 year old (or what have you) - and that 2) He intentionally withholds from us and from said 9 year old (or what have you) the actual perception of and access to *Himself/Christ* (the Immutable, All-Sufficient Means we all ultimately need) - and/or that 3) such withholding is either because He intentionally withholds such from us or because His Reach is just too flimsy – just too weak – to outreach mere Time and Circumstance and/or that - finally - 4) all is well "Because I AM logical in doing so and therefore coherent" then the Atheist has his answer cemented: Christianity is an incoherent set of self-conflicting statements.


Fortunately, while a small sub-set of Christians may assert various flavors of 1 through 4, none of that sums to Christ just as none of that sums to Christianity given that none of that captures Christianity's actual set of truth-claims on the fundamental shape of reality and on God's actual response to the obvious problem of our own fundamentally weak and obviously flawed - sinful - natures which we all (painfully) perceive both in ourselves and in others.


The language of God on the shape of reality and His interface with all of its contours is found throughout the OT in Christ and throughout the NT in Christ.

RonH, no, I'm sorry, I still don't understand your point.

For starters, the three conclusions that the challenger mentions DO NOT follow from his premises.

The second and third of them is contradicted by his premises.

For example, isn't it painfully obvious that premise A.2...the claim that every person is either in heaven or in hell after death... is incompatible with the claim in conclusion 3 that Gandhi is neither in heaven nor in hell.

Isn't it also dreadfully obvious that A.3 plus B.3...the claim that non-Christians don't go to heaven plus the claim that Gandhi is a non-Christian... is incompatible with the claim in conclusion 2 that Gandhi is in heaven.

So only the first conclusion actually follows from the premises.

So the first point to note is that the argument is really this:

  1. God is good.
  2. Christians go to heaven.
  3. Non-Christians go to hell.
  4. Gandhi was a non-Christian.

    THEREFORE

  5. Gandhi went to hell.
The situation described by conclusion of this argument is supposed to be unjust because Gandhi was so very good. And because it is unjust, then, it is supposed to be incompatible with premise 1. Since premises 1-3 are important to Christianity, and premise 4 is supposed to be an indisputable fact, this is supposed to be a problem for Christianity.

Now, I think we should note that it is at least possible that premise 4 is false. Because that is possible the argument is actually a complete failure. What if, as Augustine suggested, there is a preaching to the dead. What if, as a result of this preaching, every person whose damnation would be a plausible counterexample to God's justice turns out to actually become a Christian? Then this objection is just wind, right?

But even if we grant that there is someone whom everyone agrees is just a capital fellow and who 'shouldn't' be in hell, but who, nonetheless, rejects Christ, even if preached to by Christ after death.

Even granting this, there is the separate question of whether the circumstance of his being in hell is unjust. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that the circumstance is tragic, but not unjust.

We don't even need to say that the person deserves to go to hell because of his unbelief. What if the principle problem with Sin is not moral but medical? What if the issue is whether you are healed of the disease of Sin? It's not that God is being a jerk and blaming you for not believing in Him. It's that if you won't take the cure for Sin, you won't be able to tolerate heaven. Heaven will be an agony for you that makes hell look like a country picnic. Hell is actually better for the uncured sinner.

If that's the way it is, then it's tragic that Gandhi is in hell, but no injustice was involved in putting him there...it was actually a mercy.

But why HELL? I mean, couldn't the lost soul be annihilated, or put in an earth-like setting for all eternity. Why eternal torment? How is that more merciful?

Let's leave annihilation to one side for the moment.

What if Sin is a progressive disease...it just gets worse over time? Mightn't it be that the torment of hell is just what you would get from eternal life, with sin, in an earthlike setting? I think it is. So again, hell is a mercy, it is really bad...that's why it's tragic that people go there. But what makes it bad is the very sin for which hellions won't take the cure.

Now let's consider annihilation. Why wouldn't a good God at least annihilate the souls of the lost? Well, perhaps that's incompatible with God's hope even for the lost. Perhaps He always wants the souls in hell, including Satan and his demons, to turn to Him, repent and be saved. To annihilate the souls in hell would be to stop hoping.

The second and third of them is contradicted by his premises.

There you go Amy!

The second and third of them is contradicted by his premises.
There you go Amy!


Well not really, but close.

The wording of the 'challenge' is at odds with what seems to be intended by the 'challenge'.

What is intended by the 'challenge'?

The 'conclusions' (as they are called in this presentation) were apparently intended as alternatives. I think Alan got this in his video.

The 'conclusions' are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive alternatives and this is true independent of the premises. It's true provided only that heaven and hell don't overlap.

None of the 3 'conclusions' follows from the premises. In Premise 1 the 'challenger' talks about what he thinks Christianity states (claims) not what he is supposing to be true. There is no premise about the truth of Christianity. What Christianity 'states' does not support to the first 'conclusion' any more than it supports either of the others.

Does THAT help?

The 'conclusions' are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive alternatives and this is true independent of the premises. It's true provided only that heaven and hell don't overlap.
The three alternatives at the end are not mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive Ron.

#1 Says that G is in hell because he is not a Christian, the others make no reference to reasons.

G might be in hell for some reason other that his not being a Christian. A possibility not on the challenger's list.

And, in fact, now that I think on it, both Alan and I proposed that that's exactly what is the case.

Alan, I believe, suggested that he's in hell because he's being punished for being a sinner.

I suggested that he's in hell because he's not cured from sin, so hell is more merciful.

It is not among God's reasons for sending G to hell that G is not a Christian. His not being a Christian causes a condition (or fails to cause the alleviation of a condition). The presence of that condition is the reason G is in hell.

The cause of G's being in hell is not that G is not a Christian. God freely sent G to hell...that's the cause.

Nor is "being in hell" an implication of "being non-Christian".

So G's not being a Christian is neither a cause, nor a reason nor logically sufficient for G being in hell. For all that non-Christians do go to hell. But they don't go to hell because they are non-Christians.

I also pointed out that we don't actually know that G did not ultimately become a Christian.

But let's suppose, contrary to fact, the choices were mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive. It's not a hard supposition. Let's just say that the challenger left out the because-clause of alternative #1. The points claimed to be parts of Christianity already openly conflict with the last two alternatives.

If C is true then X is false.

So if it turns out that X is true, C is false!!!!

Stunning.

The challenger's one and only point was that Gandhi doesn't deserve to go to hell, but Christianity says that he does go to hell. And that somehow conflicts with God's goodness.

None of the 3 'conclusions' follows from the premises.
It is strange, then, that the challenger said this:
The three following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements:
He seems to think that all of his conclusions follow.

You can't both be right. Though you could both be wrong.

As it happens, I think you are right in this case. Not for the reasons you give, but because there are more than the three alternatives presented. So none of the challenger's conclusions follow from his premises. The whole thing is one great big non sequitur, that manages to ape the appearance of logical sophistication, but falls far short of the reality.

#1 Says that G is in hell because he is not a Christian, the others make no reference to reasons.
Yup. You are absolutely right there.

So clearly there's another fix the presentation needs:

Change 'conclusion' #1 to read like #2...

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is now in hell.

I didn't bother to mention this because I had already spent too much time on this silliness.

He seems to think that all of his conclusions follow.

You're entitled to think he does or claim to think so.

On account of the highly unfavorable time/silliness quotient mentioned above, I leave you it.


You're entitled to think he does or claim to think so.

Indeed I am, because he explicitly says that he thinks his three conclusions follow.

I am wondering, though, Ron, why you think you are entitled to think that the challenger does NOT believe that his conclusions follow? Just because they in fact don't?

That's no good.

I still think you have to take him at his word when he explicitly says that he thinks all three conclusions follow.

Nor do I think that removing the because-clause from option #1 is so clear a fix as you seem to think it is.

The only real punch that the challenge has is that it says that G is in hell just-because-he-is-not-a-Christian-in-spite-of-his-good-moral-character.

You take the reason off, and the conclusion that God is not good isn't plausible at all.

But the problem is G isn't in hell just-because-he-is-not-a-Christian-in-spite-of-his-good-moral-character.

He's in hell because God put him there out of mercy. Because the other option was to leave him exposed to God's holiness when he has not been cured of his sin.

I am wondering, though, Ron, why you think you are entitled to think that the challenger does NOT believe that [all three of] his conclusions follow.

Just to refresh your memory...

1) Ghandi is in heaven (whatever the reason)
2) Ghandi is in hell
3) Ghandi is neither in heaven nor hell.

RonH, I agree that (contrary to the words he used) he was stating possible alternatives, followed by the conclusion that would follow from each alternative. This is precisely why I added the formatting. I bolded the three alternative conclusions (any of which he thinks proves Christianity wrong) because those are the conclusions he draws from the three possible alternatives. He didn't organize his thoughts clearly (each of those points was just a single paragraph), so I was helping him out with bullet points and bolding in order to draw attention to the "therefore" conclusions.

Now, can you please explain to me what you meant when you said as your entire comment, "[Formatting added for clarity]," because I still do not understand your point.

While you're at it Ron, perhaps you could explain how it is that the claim that "The three following conclusions can be drawn from the above statements" works out to saying that none of the conclusions follow.

Also why did you feel the need to refresh my memory about your modification of the challenger's three conclusions? Is it that you suppose I have not appreciated the logical exhaustiveness of the three alternatives as you have modified them? I proposed the same modification before you did (see the bit where I said "But let's suppose, contrary to fact, the choices were mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive. It's not a hard supposition. Let's just say that the challenger left out the because-clause of alternative #1.").

I suppose that, as modified, you could make the claim that the single conclusion consisting of the disjunction of your three propositions does follow from the challenger's premises.

That is to say that if X, Y and Z are exhaustive alternatives (as your modified propositions are), then "X or Y or Z" is a logical truth. Because a logical truth follows from anything and everything, then, yes, that conclusion does follow from the challenger's premises.

Is that your point?

Sadly, the disjunctive conclusion also follows from the denials of all of the challenger's premises, so I'm not sure how much help that actually is.

Or maybe your point is that the argument proceeds by some sort of process of elimination?

If that's it, then you may be right that that is what he was getting at. Though it's impossible to be sure, because the presentation is strange to the point that I think we must recognize that this challenger has very confused ideas. Before the challenge can even be properly answered, it's really up to the challenger to write coherently.

That, of course, won't happen in this thread. So I'll re-interpret the challenge the best I can.

First, let's notice that what the challenger presented as a conclusion of his argument, the claim that Gandhi is in heaven, or in hell or in neither, is nothing of the sort. It is actually a premise. You can then proceed with standard dilamma (actually trilemma) form:

  1. Either Gandhi is in heaven or Gandhi is in hell or Gandhi is in neither.
  2. Christianity implies that Gandhi is not in heaven.
  3. Christianity implies that Gandhi is not in hell.
  4. Christianity implies that Gandhi is not in neither.

    THEREFORE

  5. Christianity is false.
Now we've got something valid that uses some of the same the words as the challenge (for whatever that's worth).

But, assuming Gandhi is not a Christian, the claim that Gandhi is not in hell, per #3, is not a straightforward implication of Christianity (as is the claim that he is not in heaven, per #2, and as is the claim that he is not in neither, per #4). If anything, it looks like Christianity implies that Gandhi is in hell.

So I initially it is difficult to see why we should accept premise #3.

Now the challenger might go on to say that this is where the bit about God's goodness comes in. If Christianity is true, God, being good, can't send Gandhi to hell. So #3 actually turns out, the challenger says, to also be true. It is an implication of Christianity (via the goodness of God) that Gandhi is not in hell.

Well, it might be true, or it might not, that a good God could not send Gandhi to hell. It all depends on God's reasons for sending Gandhi to hell, doesn't it? If the Christian God has a morally sufficient reason for sending Gandhi to hell, then it just comes out false that Christianity implies that Gandhi is not in hell. That is, premise #3 in the reinterpretation of the argument above just comes out false.

God's reason for sending Gandhi to hell as proposed by the challenger...the simple fact that Gandhi is not a Christian...might not be a morally sufficient reason for sending Gandhi to hell. Let us grant that (though it was never argued for).

OK. So what? Alan proposed a different reason. So did I. Both the reason Alan gave and the one I did are morally sufficient. So the challenge, even given my overly charitable re-interpretation of the hot mess above, just falls flat.

Q.E.D.

Challenge answered.

Right?

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