Monday, April 5, 2010

Obfuscating The Christian Doctrine Of Salvation

Christians by and large proudly proclaim that what makes their religion distinct is that it is not predicated on a "good people are saved" principle. For how could ANYBODY know what "good enough" actually is? Upon closer inspection however, this same dilemma rears its ugly head in the Christian faith. Substitute "good enough" with "belief".

Do you see where I am going with this? For how could ANYBODY know what "belief" actually is? Do not be naive! There is a very critical corollary to point out: could not one just believe or at least claim to believe "X" but go on to behave in a contrary fashion? Presumably, many might accuse such a person of "not believing"*. Why? Because he does not DO "X"? This would imply very clearly that it is DOING, not believing, that is paramount! But then what becomes of belief itself? It is demoted to meaninglessness!

Now if one still upholds belief as being paramount, how would he compare one who believes but fails to act accordingly to one who believes seemingly nothing but behaves according to the (claimed) beliefs of the other**? Will he respect the "prick" that just believes or the amiable person that just does? I think I know the answer. In any case, how could a purportedly good God see it any differently?

Therefore, consider the insignificance of belief.

*I will briefly illustrate why failing to act according to a belief can not refute the fact that it is believed. Suppose a morbidly obese person pleads with you for advice on how to lose weight. You respond, "well, substitute your ice cream intake with raw spinach." From then on, you see this person gorging on nothing but ice cream. You ask, "where's the spinach"? Apparently your advice was not followed. Can we ascertain that this obese person doesn't believe you?

**Personally, I'd much rather someone forgive me than to claim he believes in forgiveness all the while failing to forgive me.


  1. You made a very good argument. It is clever to replace being good to believing well. If Christianity still has a standard, then it is not very unique. However, I would point out that Christians mostly ignore other religions, which also have some similar standards, so I do not believe Christians think too much of their specialness instead of unthinking worship.

    Also, I agree judging people's goodness is practically impossible and philosophically vague. In my opinion it is wrong to judge people, instead actions should be judged. I get most of my views on judgement from Albert Camus.

    I think there is a lot to be said on forgiveness and guilt and dependency of faith, but I do not want to write a book today.

  2. I think it is a little strange to ask what belief is. I understand one could do a Socrates on it and show that there are inconsistencies in people's beliefs about belief. I think a belief is just a accepted premise regardless of its truth value. It is such a basic concept , it really does not need much elaboration , in my opinion, unless you want differentiate between belief, faith, and opinion.

    To point out the problem of behaviorism (walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it is a duck = looks like belief, then it is belief) does not really debunk belief for Christians. Christians got a skygod who can see if they believe or not. True faith for many Christians is being Born-again. So whether or not belief is identifiable in other people or whether or not belief can be acted upon in an convincing way is beside the point if the brain state of belief is attainable. We all met the born Again who speaks as if they knew Jesus personally. I believe they really believe that.

    Your comparison between the nonbeliever who acts Christians and the Christian who acts outside his/her beliefs is very interesting. However, many Christians often talk about their own hypocrisies. The prayer of confession is very early in protestant services. They will confess not being Christian. So a major component to being save is not just belief but dependency on Jesus for forgiveness. Christians of more liberal denominations, the C.S. Lewis ones, are concerned with being one with God and Hell is just separation from God.

    I am sorry to say, but without really getting into Christian theology, you will not be able to convince a Christian with this kind of argument even though I think it is a bit clever.

  3. Thank you for your critique. What I value above all is HONEST argument and discussion. Thank you for bringing that here. Notice neither one of us is incendiary. 99% of the stuff out there, IMHO, is designed to piss off antagonists and to coddle protagonists. This does little or nothing to HELP people gain a greater understanding of things. That is my goal. I will follow your postings and I would appreciate if you would do the same. Thank you.