Things you should know before you attempt to learn other things

Monday Musings for May 03, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

I’m using this issue of Monday Musings to announce that Lesson 02 of my series Christianity 101 has been published. In this course, I am going to introduce each of the loci communes (literally “common places”) of Protestant theology, but not necessarily at the rate of one per month — and not in-depth — and today’s lesson is still introductory material.

In lesson 03, we’ll start getting into the theological meat with the topic of God’s revelation… which is not about the Book of Revelation. “Revelation” is the general term we use to describe God’s information output. But more specifically, it’s his human-receptor-optimized output. The Bible is the most obvious of God’s revelations… being “God’s word” … but I’ve identified ten.

Now, there are two reasons why we’re not quite ready to study these revelations: First, it’s a fool’s errand for nonbelievers… just be warned. Second, such a study can be hazardous for Christians who are not grounded in the faith. Here’s what’s at issue.

If you cannot retreat to the core truths of your Christian faith when the going gets tough — like reaffirming that God exists, that the biblical Jesus existed, that the Bible is valid, that you are a child of God who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit —  then textual criticism could turn you apostate! People often disengage from God rather than come to grips with the inconsistencies between how they interpret the Bible and God’s other nine other revelations — and I can’t blame them.

William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith Ministries thinks that New Testament Scholar Bart Ehrman fled Christianity for that reason; Craig postulates that Ehrman, who grew up in the Evangelical tradition, held to a literalistic idea of what inerrancy is and the wrong idea about how inerrancy works. When Ehrman ran into a textual challenge as a doctoral candidate, he put too much pressure on the wrong thing — and he turned apostate rather than work through the difficulties!

(Click here to see one of my “Craig-influenced” answers about Bart Ehrman.)

You’ve heard me talk about “The Big Four” — prayer, Bible study, fellowship and service. A Christian who has these in equal measure will not easily be shaken. Such a person has taken God, his word and his people seriously. He or she has been proactive in preparing for the war that every believer is and will be fighting until Christ returns (Ephesians 6: 10-20).

So, here’s a warning to those of you who won’t let go of the Creation Science paradigm: I will likely shake you out of the trees when I start talking about God’s revelations — and how nothing can be true unless they are all true. You see, no revelation is more important than the Bible, but several of them are more foundational than the Bible. Without them, Scripture would be moot.

For instance, if language does not have predictable, God-ordained rules, then the Bible is moot because we can never know what it says. Or, if we are merely brains in a vat (or plugged into The Matrix) and our experiences are illusory and not real, we have bigger problems than the Bible not being true: nothing is true if that’s our reality… but it’s not.

You may think that the brain-in-vat postulation is too far out there to ruin your day, but that speaks to its foundational nature. Philosophers call the idea that our experiences are real a “properly basic” assumption about life. But many atheists cling to the illusion of an illusion.

(Click here to read the article referenced above. For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)