Truth as Untruth

The “American analytic philosopher, Christian theologian, and Christian apologist”(1) WIlliam Lane Craig wrote the following:

“Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of a lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis fails to become a Christian because of a lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with god.”

What disquiets so about such a statement? Even if this entire piece was somehow empirically verifiable and true, what is it in its tone that is so cold and fundamentally unchristian?

Firstly, it contains the clear assumption that our dear Mollinist (2) Mr. Lane Craig is one of the elect. Isn’t that nice for him? He has decided and chosen correctly. His eternal salvation is assured, and ipso factum the reverse applies: all who reject his theological position are the rebellious and damned. Mr. Lane Craig isn’t among the rebellious who have refused God. He has not, like those miscreants, loved the darkness. He isn’t one of those rebels who “wants nothing to do with God“. He really is a fortunate fellow! The unseen subtext is dense with self-righteousness, bigotry and contempt for those who are as yet unconvinced of Christ’s message. Of course Lane Craig, with his astute, theologically trained mind, will be able to quote any number if scriptures in support of this narrow little piece of doctrine. Then again, the Pharisees were equally adept at justifying their self-righteousness – delineating the saved from the unsaved, the chosen from the cursed, the enemies of Yahweh from his true servants themselves).

Lane Craig makes no space for the liminel, for that freedom which is at the heart of Christ’s message of salvation. In fact he seems to imply there is an oppressively nnarrow area. His tone is redolent of that coercive, Inquisitorial theology which drags and kicks people into the kingdom of God through browbeating and veiled threats. Is that indeed the spirit of Christ, or the spirit of an intellectual bully?

Long ago when my wife and I were working for an interdenominational missionary organization in Cyprus, A kind and gentle missionary working amongst Arabs said something which struck me then with a force which remains just as significant: “wherever you encounter a spirit of coercion, that is not the spirit of Christ. Christ is a gentleman and coerces no one.”

Not so Mr Lane Craig. I imagine his instant retort (again, with a wad of scripture as thick as a Phylactery.

WIlliam Lane Craig, using an eerily medieval lens, sees lack of convincement as rebellion. He fails to see the liminel space Jesus opens up for each of us where convincement and metanoia may freely and joyously occur. Whether it is Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well or to the rich young man who could not commit to following Christ, there is always a sense of compassion and respect – something distinctly absent from Lane Craig’s mean little discourse on the hearts of men and women struggling to “find God”.

I have a picture of him in mind, barging in on Jesus’ conversation with the samaritan woman and saying with a sort of impatient irritability, “Listen woman, do you even realise who you’re talking to? Your life shows you love darkness rather than light – you want nothing to do with god: you better get on board while the going’s good”.

Jesus, interrupted and misrepresented by this zealous man, might by now be stunned by the intrusion or censure of our confident evangelist. Perhaps he would take him aside and explain to him that “As for anyone who hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

At this point we may imagine Lane Craig, who understands the Bible so well, lecturing Jesus on the merits of his own argument. He might argue with Jesus that The Kalām Cosmological Argument should be brought to bear on the Samaritan woman, or that expounding post-Cantorian, axiomatized infinite set theory might be helpful. Or he might say to Jesus, “why bother conversing with this fallen woman at all? She wants nothing to do with god.”

I picture Jesus looking at Lane Craig and with pity, and saying “you have been with me so long and you have learned so little. Have I not taught you to love?

(1) Wikipedia

(2) Molinism is named for the 16th-century Jesuit, Luis de Molina. Molinism is a system of thought that seeks to reconcile the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. The heart of Molinism is the principle that God is completely sovereign and man is also free in a libertarian sense. Molinism partly seeks to avoid so-called “theological fatalism”: the view that God decrees who will be saved or damned without any meaningful impact of their own free choice. Today’s highest-profile defenders of Molinism are William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga” –

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