3 things to remember before you criticize someone’s theology

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Revmitchell, Aug 23, 2015.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    1. UNDERSTAND BEFORE YOU CRITIQUE

    Every author has had the experience of suffering book reviews by critic who did not feel obligated to do the work of the first two stages first. The critic too often thinks he does not have to be a reader as well as a judge. Every lecturer has also had the experience of having critical questions asked that were not based on any understanding of what he had said. You yourself may remember an occasion where someone said to a speaker, in one breath or at most two, “I don’t know what you mean, but I think you’re wrong.”

    There is actually no point in answering critics of this sort. The only polite thing to do is to ask them to state your position for you, the position they claim to be challenging. If they cannot do it satisfactorily, if they cannot repeat what you have said in their own words, you know that they do not understand, and you are entirely justified in ignoring their criticisms. They are irrelevant, as all criticism must be that is not based on understanding. When you find the rare person who shows that he understands what you are saying as well as you do, then you can delight in his agreement or be seriously disturbed by his dissent. (pp. 144-145)

    2. BE SELF-CRITICAL

    In self-criticism the creative use of the theological imagination is tremendously important. Keep asking such questions as these.

    (a) Can I take my source’s idea in a more favorable sense? A less favorable one?

    (b) Does my idea provide the only escape from the difficulty, or are there others?

    (c) In trying to escape from one bad extreme, am I in danger of falling into a different evil on the other side?

    (d) Can I think of some counter-examples to my generalizations?

    (e) Must I clarify my concepts, lest they be misunderstood?

    (f) Will my conclusion be controversial and thus require more argument than I had planned?

    3. OFFER YOUR ALTERNATIVE

    In criticism it is not sufficient to find flaws in a given view. One must always ask, “What is the alternative?” and, “Does the alternative have fewer difficulties?” John Baillie tells of writing a paper in which he severely criticized a particular view. His professor commented, “Every theory has its difficulties, but you have not considered whether any other theory has less difficulties than the one you have criticized.”

    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/b...ember-before-you-criticize-someones-theology/
     
  2. righteousdude2

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    Thanks Rev for a well thought out article regarding this issue.

    You may already know this about me, I am one who does not criticize others views, mainly because I am confident of one thing, when it comes to theology, only "God knows for sure" all the answers. No one on this board is even close to being 100% correct with their understanding of theology. Besides, that is one subject I prefer to remain open to, but not critical of, because we will all be in for some eye opening when we finally sit at the Masters feet, and learn what scripture passages really meant.

    Again, good article. :thumbs:
     
  3. Van

    Van
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    One problem with questioning a published theological view, i.e. the TULIP, is defenders will always say (1) you do not understand it, (2) you lack the credentials to question it, and (3) your alternate view is unorthodox.

    Since the published view cannot be altered, the authors died hundreds of years ago, the responses will be off the shelf copy and paste responses, often directed at a mischaracterization of your view.

    Why bother?

    Revelation 2:20
     
  4. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Open theism is unorthodox. That is a fact not a defense or just an opinion.
     
  5. go2church

    go2church
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    The alternative view of Calvinism is Open Theism? What? Am I missing something here?
     
  6. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    Yea you are missing something. Too much to explain.
     
  7. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    That is your opinion.
     
  8. Tom Bryant

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    It's a good article but only applies when you're dealing with those who hold orthodox views. Open theism is unorthodox and heretical, but it is not the only alternative to Calvinism.
     
  9. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    No one said it did. Van holds to open theism and made the complaint in his post about his views having been declared unorthodox. It was not presented as an alternative. Just a differing view.
     
  10. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    I was agreeing with you, but apparently it didn't come across as agreeing.
     
  11. Revmitchell

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    No I understood that. I do not want anyone to think I was saying that open theism is an "alternative" view to calvinsim. I saw that used twice now I just wanted to clarify.
     
  12. Van

    Van
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    This is exactly what the OP addresses. Revmitchell claims without any facts, that I am an open theism. I do not believe God is the author of sin, He does not predestine our each and every sin. Everyone who believes that can be smeared with the charge of open theism. It is a waste of time to address those untethered from truth. I have refuted Open theism at least 1/2 dozen times on this BB, yet those who bear false witness continue to post their fictions. They are springs without water, wandering stars.
     
  13. Van

    Van
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    Open Theism correctly presents some biblical truths, while also presenting many mistaken views of scripture. Lets take a look at some of the mistaken assertions.

    Does the Bible teach that God’s knowledge of the future is imperfect, that God confronts the unexpected? Open Theism advocates cite Isaiah 5:1-5 and assert God did not expected good grapes and was surprised when He got wild grapes. But is this what the text actually teaches? Nope.
    The Hebrew word translated in some English versions of the text as “expected” actually means to await an outcome, or to look for an outcome while waiting, or to endure a circumstance for a purpose. Similarly, the Hebrew word translated bad grapes or wild grapes, actually means sour and unripe, suggesting God desired Israel to grow closer to God in its protected vineyard, but since it did not, the hedge was removed, and the environment changed.
    So lets look at the passage using the NIV translation, which actually does justice to the text:
    The Song of the Vineyard
    1 I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
    My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
    2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
    He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a winepress as well.
    Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit.
    3 "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,
    judge between me and my vineyard.
    4 What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
    When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?
    5 Now I will tell you
    what I am going to do to my vineyard:
    I will take away its hedge,
    and it will be destroyed;
    I will break down its wall,
    and it will be trampled.
    And now with a sound understanding of Isaiah’s words, lets turn to the Open Theism assertion concerning the text: Because the vineyard unexpectedly failed to yield grapes, the Lord sadly concludes, “I will remove its hedge and it shall be devoured (v5).”
    But the actual message is that God desired for Israel to become more godly, and when they chose to remain worldly, God took action to foster His desired outcome. God may or may not have experienced the feeling of sadness when He took the action, but since the text does not say, we are left with His enduring efforts to draw us closer to Him. So while the text can be used to support the premise God has chosen to allow autonomous behavior rather than deterministically determining every thought and every outcome, it in no way supports the idea that God did not know the hearts of the people of Israel, or that He did not know that they needed to learn that their good fortune was a gift from God.
    The second mistaken view of Open Theism is that God is surprised by the worldly behavior of Israel. To support this contention, Open Theism cites Jeremiah 19:5, but does it say God did not know what the people would do? Nope. Again the word translated “mind” in many English versions of the text actually means “heart” the seat of appetites and inclinations. In other words, Jeremiah was saying God did not desire this behavior.
    Lets look at the verse using the HCSB translation: “5 They have built high places to Baal on which to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, something I have never commanded or mentioned; I never entertained the thought.” With this correct understanding of Jeremiah’s message, we find no support whatsoever for the assertion that God was surprised by their wicked actions. The same thought is expressed in Jeremiah 7:31 (“did not come into My mind”) meaning I did not entertain the thought, or desire the behavior. Ditto for Jeremiah 32:35, all three actually indicate the behavior did not come up upon God’s heart, He did not entertain it nor desire it.
    A third contention of Open Theism is that God thinks one thing is going to happen, but something else happens, indicating God knowledge of the future is wrong. To support this mistaken view, Open Theism cites Jeremiah 3:6-7, but does it say God held a mistaken view of the future? Nope. The verse does say that God said or thought that Israel would repent, but was the thought a desire or a statement of foreseen behavior? Desire. Why desire and not foreseen behavior? Because God says in verse 6 that He knows Israel is “faithless” so desire fits but foreseen faithfulness does not fit with faithlessness.
    Open Theism also cites Jeremiah 3:19-20. Contextually the passage has the return of Christ in view. It is a prophecy of the millennial kingdom, verse 19, contrasted with Israel’s behavior under the Old Covenant, verse 20. And what does Open Theism make of this fairly straightforward passage? It asserts that since Christ has not inaugurated His millennial kingdom yet, God was mistaken in His prophecy. Sorry but that is a mistaken view of the text.
    Does that fact that what God desires does not immediately or universally come to pass indicate God is not all-powerful? Nope. Rather it indicates God desires according to His purpose, and therefore His purpose is for mankind to bring Him glory autonomously, and not under deterministic control.
     

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