Friday, December 01, 2017

Doctrine and evidence

Their objections to Christianity being directed much more against its doctrines than its evidences. William Cunningham, Theological Lectures (Forgotten Books, reprint, 2015), 240.

That's an important distinction to keep in mind when responding to atheists. Are they objecting to Christian doctrine or the evidence for Christianity? 

Often, they attack the Christian faith by attacking what they deem to be problematic doctrines or consequences. In that situation, a Christian apologist needs to redirect the conversation to the question of evidence. The question at issue should be whether something is true, and how we can know it's true. Discussing evidence has more ultimate relevance to what really matters, because evidence is evidence for (or against) the truth of something. So that should be the focus of the debate. If there's direct evidence for Christianity in general, or indirect evidence for individual doctrines (i.e. evidence for the source of doctrine), then we need to concentrate on the evidence. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice call-out to Cunningham's "missing" lectures (the one book of his not published by Banner of Truth, Reformation Heritage, etc.). I've been reading this recently as well. Very good!

    I wonder if taking Cunningham's cue and tracing it back, as Tim McGrew does in his lectures on the Deistical controversy, may help many Van Tillians to better understand what so-called "classical" apologetics was doing. Might take some of the bite off of their criticisms?

    I'm also intrigued by Cunnigham's hint that the origins of Kant and the post-Kantian idealists where actually just paying back the early-19th Anglo-Americans in kind, i.e., that much of that imported German Neology was in fact informed by 17th century English Socinians/Deists and the their sometimes ham-handed handling by otherwise orthodox theologians (his 18th lecture among others). This same thesis has been repeated in the 21st century by a German historian/theologian, to the effect that we should not blame Kant for being Kant, because he was really being a 17th Century British Deist of some kind (haven't read the book yet; forget the title).