Monday, July 21, 2008

How not to debate Theology. 1 -Begging the Question

Theological debate is a cut-and-thrust world. To get the best out of any debate, we have to understand some of the principles. Just as Don Carson's book 'Exegetical Fallacies' teaches good exegesis by bringing up examples of bad, so we shall make some remarks on how to conduct onesself in a debate by bringing up a few examples of how not to. We begin with the ever-popular fallacy of 'begging the question' consists in assuming one or more of the points to be proved in the debate. A wider application of this would be to attribute to your opponent a view that you hold, but that he does not.

In the debate with our Dispensational brothers in Christ:

1. Dispensationalist: "If you interpreted Genesis the way you interpret Revelation you would make the Bible into silly putty." (But we don't, because we don't believe that there is a single hermeneutic for all of Scripture, but different genres should be interpreted differently. So apocalyptic should NEVER be interpreted in the same way as history)

2. Dispensationalist: "You believe the Church has replaced Israel." (No, we believe that the Church is an enlarged and reformed Israel. The Dispensationalist, on the other hand, views the Church as an exclusively Gentile body.)

3. Dispensationalist: "You believe that the centre of history is God's redemption of man. We believe it to be His own glory." When the Covenant Theologian replies that he thinks nothing of the sort, the Dispensationalist will declare that he does so, though not in those words. Thus theological debate will be stifled.

4. Roman Catholic: "The early Church was Catholic. They believed what I believe." (No, the word 'Catholic' then did not mean what it means in western culture today. It meant universal, as opposed to heretical)

NOTE: We do not think that the errors of Dispensationalism are one tenth as bad as those of Rome.

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