Friday, October 5, 2007

Conventional Wisdom and Logic

Kelly's take on Mr. Erik's essay here,

This essay reminded me strongly of the class on Logic which I took in college. It was full of math problems disguised as "If A, then B" sentences. Mr. Erik made several points in his essay, but I'm not sure that his conclusion matches his premises.

"13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

It looks like Conventional Wisdom (the way the majority thinks) is the path to hell.

His premise here seems to be that whatever the majority Christian denomination is, must be wrong, because few will find salvation.

I think the question to ask there is, how will Jesus crunch his numbers at the final judgement? According to a 2002 Pew Research Council survey, in the United States the population is 52% Protestant and 24% Catholic. If Jesus divides us into "anything but those horrible Papists" and "Papists" then I guess the Catholics are going to heaven, because we're the minority.

On the other hand, if Jesus is sensitive to various non-Catholic Christian denominations and counts them all separately, then we are left with 24% Catholic and a bunch of other numbers such as 16% Baptist, 2% Pentecostal, etc. In that case, he is correct that Catholics would be bound for hell.

All of this begs the question as to why Candy and Erik are trying to convert as many people as possible to being born again Christians. Surely, if they become the majority, then their salvation is in danger.

Still, the thought that Jesus will judge Christians by whoever is the minority seems odd. Let's examine Scripture further.

Matt. 25:31-46 is a long passage where Jesus tells of dividing goats from sheep and judging them. Skipping to the end, we read that the dividing criteria were the works of the people.

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

A similar parable is given in Luke 12:43-48:

46The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

47And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Or see 2 Cor. 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

I could continue, but three examples are enough for now.

I am not saying that we are saved by our works. We are saved by God's grace, though our faith, BUT, our faith is manifest by our works. As those who are critical of the Catholic Church are fond of pointing out, not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" will enter heaven. If we say we have faith, but that faith is not to be seen in our actions, then it is a false faith. When judgement comes, it is our deeds which will show whether our faith was true or false.

Mr. Erik goes on with his next premise.

There is only ONE way to Jesus, and that is through faith in Him, in his dying on the cross to pay for your sins, and His raising from the dead three days later. Believing this in your heart and confessing this with your mouth is how you get saved and receive Jesus (Romans 10:9-11)

Fair enough. The Catholic Catechism paragraph #183 states "Faith is necessary for salvation. The Lord himself affirms: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mk 16:16)."

But Mr. Erik, after supplying his "if" forgets his "then." He does not show where the Catholic Church denies the necessity of faith for salvation, because the Catholic Church does NOT deny it. Instead, he says:

The Roman Catholic Church today also proclaims that their traditions are equal with God's word, the Holy Bible.


Sincerity will not get you in, nor will traditions, or conventional wisdom.

So, faith is necessary for salvation. The Catholic Church teaches that tradition is equal to the Bible. Therefore, Catholics will not be saved. That doesn't follow, logically.

Perhaps he means to say that faith is necessary for salvation AND you must believe that the Bible alone is our sole authority. This seems to be what he believes, although it isn't what he says.

If you believe that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation, then Catholics are saved. If you believe that faith in Jesus AND belief in the Bible alone as sole authority is necessary, then Catholics aren't saved, but then you are pointing to something other than faith and/or God's grace as being critical to being saved.

You can't have it both ways, Candy and Erik.


kritterc said...

You hit the nail on the head!!

Elena said...

I love a good logical argument. Great job Kelly. I would be interested in their response.

Courtney said...

Have you all watched this video from Evangelical Catholicism ( I recently came across it again. It sums things up well, I think, and I've always found it quite powerful. Posted on my blog as well.

Courtney said...

Posting the video might help! Sorry!

Annie C said...

Oh there's my quote, Matt 25:45. thank you Kelly. Great article.