Tag Archives: Syncretism

Indian philosopher Ravi Zacharas explains three arguments for God’s existence

Here’s the video from Jason at The Western Experience.

In the video, Ravi surveys the standard 3 arguments for theism in an accessible, non-confrontational way.

Ravi is that he is one of the top Christian apologists, and a good friend of William Lane Craig. One of the valuable things I learned from Ravi was how to test propositions for truth. He recommends a three-part test. First, you have to apply the laws of logic to the proposition. If a proposition is self-contradictory, then it is false. Second, you have to make sure it is validated by empirical evidence. Third, the proposition should be experientially relevant.

In this post, Jason re-tells a story of Ravi’s encounter with an Indian professor. Indians tend to embrace a syncretistic view of religion, so that people basically believe anything they want without really testing any of it using the tests for truth. They avoid the first test for truth by saying that a proposition A can be true and not true at the same time, and in the same sense. This is one of my favorite Ravi stories.

Jason writes:

For example, Dr. Zacharias was debating logic and truth and their unique relationship to the idea of God and his plan for humanity at a college campus when he was challenged by a professor at that university. The professor accused Zacharias of using the Western logic either-or and reasoning in such away that it ignored other forms of logic. The professor insisted there were other truths and that Zacharias was ignorant when it came to Eastern logic. Humorous when one considers that Ravi Zacharias is from India and a former Hindu.

The professor informed Ravi that there is another kind of logic that speaks to truth such as the Eastern ‘both-and’ logic. In other words, salvation is not either through Christ or nothing else, but both Christ and other ways. And truth can be found in other ways besides the either-or logic. As the professor’s lecture ensued, Ravi listened patiently and in places would say, “No, you don’t mean that.” The professor maintained his position as he tried to prove there were two kinds of logic and Dr. Zacharias was doing an injustice by neglecting the other. Finally, Zacharias told the professor that he could end the discussion with one simple question. Curiously, the professor dropped his pen and insisted that he do.

Now, you click through to Jason’s post and see the question that Ravi asked the professor!

This is a question you will use everywhere once you learn it. I first heard this story as an undergraduate in the late 1990s and every word of it stayed with me. Ravi’s book “Can Man Live Without God?” was one of the first books I ever read on apologetics. (The first was E. J. Carnell’s “An Introduction to Christian Apologetics”, which was given to me by a Young Life pastor)

If you like Ravi, you can find some of his university lectures here. The Harvard University one is pretty good. I like his earlier stuff better, because I believe he’s gotten a bit soft lately. I find him to be very accessible, but a bit mystical, compared to some of my favorites like William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland and Walter Bradley. A lot of new apologists like him and Greg Koukl because they are more intuitive.

Is it necessary to use words to preach the gospel?

The Pugnacious Irishman has some thoughts on it.

Here’s the problem he ran into at church last week:

The message today was a message that contradicts the biblical witness, yet it is a message I hear frequently in the 21st century.  I cannot see Jesus proclaiming the message that was proclaimed today.

[…]Our pastor’s main intention was to press home that our actions need to match our beliefs.

[…]Things started going off the rails, though, when a very obvious second message was proclaimed: the whole “actions-proclamation” dichotomy.

[…]Here’s why I say that: I thought I was just reading into the message, but that was put to rest when I heard the worship leader’s application: “go out and proclaim the gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary.”  He got it loud and clear.  When we got to my car, my wife, who is not an apologetics freak like myself (she’s normal, thank God!), turned to me and said, “I know what his intentions were, but do you get the notion that he was saying that you don’t need to talk to others about Jesus?”

Go here to read Rich’s answer to the problem.

I will surprise no one by stating that it is impossible to preach the gospel without using words, which is why Jesus used them, and why we have people writing letters, preaching sermons and disputing in public throughout the New Testament. In fact, it is literally impossible for someone to be saved without hearing about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The propositional content about these events is required, not optional.

Basically, the message of Christianity is that we are all sinful, and in need of a Lord and Savior so that we can be rightly related to God again. Works are just epiphenomena that occur after you have already been saved, showing that you really are saved. The message of the feminized church, on the other hand, is “do nice things because it makes you feel good, and it makes other people feel good – and that’s what Christianity is about”. So, saying things that make non-Christians feel bad, or that imply that they should be studying to change their beliefs is intolerant or harassment or a hate-crime.

Well, I haven’t been snarky, since, oh… yesterday. So let me tell you exactly why people in the feminized church emphasize actions instead of words, by referring to some of my favorite posts from way back when the blog started. That way, all you new readers can read stuff from back when I actually wrote really good posts on Christian apologetics, instead of really bad posts on politics.

Here are some of my thoughts on why people in church want to do nice things instead of telling others the good news and defending it against attacks. (If you only have time to read one of them read this one)

Religious pluralism and moral relativism are self-refuting

Check out this post from Neil Simpson’s blog.

Neil writes:

Self-refuting: [Religious pluralists] claim that other paths to God are valid, but they specifically exclude Christians who think Jesus is the only way.  But if all these paths are valid, why isn’t orthodox Christianity?  And if orthodox Christianity is valid, then these other paths are not.  Also, the definitions of “God” in these religions are mutually exclusive.

Pluralists simply don’t understand or apply the logical law of non-contradiction: You can’t have a personal God (Christianity) and an impersonal God (Islam) at the same time, or be saved by faith in Christ alone (Christianity) and by good deeds (everybody else), die once and face judgment (Christianity and Islam) and be reincarnated (Hinduism), Jesus dies on a cross (Christianity) and Jesus does not die on a cross (Islam), etc.

In the same post, he also explains why religious pluralism actually an arrogant and hypocritical point of view, not a tolerant one!

Now, check out this post from Pugnacious Irishman.

Rich explains how to do defeat moral relativism without even saying a word. You better learn how to do it, because the majority of the people you meet today believe in moral relativism. Rich knows – he’s a school teacher and this is the ethical theory that all the young people subscribe to.

My thoughts

This sort of weak tolerance of all viewpoints and moralities doesn’t cut any ice with open-minded atheists and skeptics. They like to discuss arguments and evidence. The best atheists and agnostics are guided by reason and evidence, so they are not offended by your exclusive views. On the contrary: the fact that you hold to unpopular, divisive views appears to them as courageous and authentic. Remember, Anthony Flew was an atheist once. Sure, most atheists are guided by untested assumptions and selfishness, but some of them can be reasoned with.

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Responding to the parable of the blind men and the elephant

This article on Stand to Reason is worth reading again and again until you get it! We live in a postmodern world, where people believe that religion is a matter of personal preference. Young people especially assert that no knowledge of God is possible, and that we are all grasping at straws when it comes to knowing God and making sense of morality.

First, let’s take a look at the parable:

In the children’s book, The Blind Men and the Elephant, Lillian Quigley retells the ancient fable of six blind men who visit the palace of the Rajah and encounter an elephant for the first time.  As each touches the animal with his hands, he announces his discoveries.

The first blind man put out his hand and touched the side of the elephant.  “How smooth!  An elephant is like a wall.”  The second blind man put out his hand and touched the trunk of the elephant.  “How round!  An elephant is like a snake.”  The third blind man put out his hand and touched the tusk of the elephant.  “How sharp!  An elephant is like a spear.”  The fourth blind man put out his hand and touched the leg of the elephant.  “How tall!  An elephant is like a tree.”  The fifth blind man reached out his hand and touched the ear of the elephant.  “How wide!  An elephant is like a fan.”  The sixth blind man put out his hand and touched the tail of the elephant.  “How thin!  An elephant is like a rope.”

An argument ensued, each blind man thinking his own perception of the elephant was the correct one.  The Rajah, awakened by the commotion, called out from the balcony.  “The elephant is a big animal,” he said.  “Each man touched only one part.  You must put all the parts together to find out what an elephant is like.”

Enlightened by the Rajah’s wisdom, the blind men reached agreement.  “Each one of us knows only a part.  To find out the whole truth we must put all the parts together.”

And then Greg explains why this is a problem for Christianity:

The religious application holds that every faith represents just one part of a larger truth about God.  Each has only a piece of the truth, ultimately leading to God by different routes.  Advocates of Eastern religions are fond of using the parable in this way.

The second application is used by skeptics who hold that cultural biases have so seriously blinded us that we can never know the true nature of things.  This view, de rigueur in the university, is called post-modernism.

This skepticism holds for all areas of truth, including the rational, the religious, and the moral.  In Folkways, a classic presentation of cultural relativism, anthropologist William Graham Sumner argues that morality is not objective in any sense.  “Every attempt to win an outside standpoint from which to reduce the whole to an absolute philosophy of truth and right, based on an unalterable principle, is delusion,” he states.

Sumner is making a very strong assertion about knowledge.  He says that all claims to know objective truth are false because each of us is imprisoned in his own culture, incapable of seeing beyond the limits of his own biases.  Sumner concludes, therefore, that truth is relative to culture and that no objective standard exists.

I want everyone reading who doesn’t know how to respond to this challenge to click through to STR’s web site, read the correct response, and then explain it to your spouse, children and/or pet(s). (If Dennis Prager can lecture geese in Ohio, then you can explain the blind men and the elephant to your pet(s)) The important thing is that you feel comfortable explaining it to other people.

You learn these things by reading, and then by trying to explain what you’ve learned to people around you – especially to the people who don’t agree with you. So, go to work, and leave a comment about your experience below!

One last thing. Christians – I forbid you to argue using parallels, analogies or parables like this. (I’m looking at you, my Catholic readers!) When you argue for your view, don’t use these whacky stories. Jesus used miracles to prove his statements. But you can’t perform miracles. So you can argue using the miracles in nature, and the miracle of the resurrection from history. Find your evidence here, and see it applied in debates here.