Friday, December 11, 2015

Steve Hays – James White Kerfuffle & RCC Says Christless, Faithless Jews Still God’s Elect

If you read much in the blogosphere, especially the reformed blogosphere, you know by now that there is a but of a kerfuffle between Steve Hays at Triablogue and James White at Alpha and Omega Ministries. There are a few things I want to say about this back and forth.

i) He keeps attacking an argument that people like me didn't make: "Islam is monolithic!" "All Muslims believe the same thing!"       

I am a little confused by this statement. I don’t think James White had Steve Hays in mind when he criticized the way the polls were done. Why Hays inserts “like me” in this particular objection is more than a little confusion. White is absolutely right to point this out to Steve and he does so in the typical, direct, James White style that I have come to love and appreciate so much.

ii) He keeps contradicting himself. He says pollsters fail to "filter out" the "nominal Muslims" from "truly religious" Muslims, "representational of the worshiping community."

This does not seem to be an honest reflection of what White is saying at all. The point that White is making is that the pollsters themselves do not understand the various ways that Muslims interpret their own holy book enough to construct meaningful polls on subjects such as this. The same is true when they parade their polls about what Christians believe or are, or what Christianity teaches about this subject or that one. I think Hays knows better.

iii) The fact that 100% of Muslims aren't terrorists is a red herring. Given the sheer number of Muslims, a fraction of the total is very dangerous. 

If you have not been paying attention so far, maybe now you should. This is not a red herring at all and the logic Hays uses is simply fallacious. A person could say, given the sheer number of Christians, a fraction of the total is very dangerous. What would we say? We would say that men that blow up abortion clinics and shoot them up as well are not Christians and do not reflect the Christian ethic in any way shape or form. Is there a basis in the Qur’an for violence? It depends on how it is interpreted. And that is precisely the point. I am not taking sides on this one. I am merely pointing out White’s point that Hays continues to miss.

The phrase about "escalating rhetoric" is amusing.

This is the sort of exchange one can expect from Steve Hays when he disagrees with you. Hays is a very bright guy. He can argue well. He is well-read. But when it comes to basic Christian virtue and the graces that ought to accompany a man who writes so much about the Jesus he loves, he sure forgets about all those texts that talk about loving, respecting, and extending kindness to your fellow brother. The truth is, Hays can be downright unloving and disrespectful in how he interacts with people on the internet and for some reason, no one seems to want to hold him accountable for it. It is entirely useless to put up a masterful argument for Christ if your behavior makes people wonder just how you see Jesus fitting in to how you talk to people, even on the internet.

What does he think domestic policy should be in reference to Muslims? Does he think the status quo is adequate? Does he think we need to make any changes on our immigration policy? In our visa policy? 

I have no idea if James White is a pacifist or not. It is irrelevant to what I am about to say. Apparently, Steve Hays thinks the Church has some sort of official duty not to take up a pacifist position on this issue. I would love to see that argument. The Christian Church has no interest in this political issue. We are interested in evangelizing Muslims, not killing them. We are interested in living in community with each other, not forming an army designed to take sides with the government in defense of the onslaught of Islam. Look at the environment in which the ancient Church operated. Look at her focus. There is more oppression than anything we have ever seen in our own culture. Did the Church take issue with Rome over this? No, she did not. She continued to preach the gospel, fueled by the blood of the martyrs. She was relentless. Hay could not be more wrong in his implication that the Church is somehow responsible for playing some part in stopping Islamic violence.

On another note today, it seems that an official commission of the Roman Catholic Church has decided that Jews are saved apart from faith in Christ. Rome believes that the apostle Paul’s message, especially that message in Romans 9-11, teaches us that the Jews are still God’s elect and that salvation belongs to then even apart from any profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

But in Rom. 10:1 Paul is praying for Israel’s salvation. Back in 9:2 this same apostle says that he has great sorrow in his heart over the condition of his kinsmen according to the flesh, Israel. If they are saved and that is what Paul actually believed, simply by virtue of being a Jew, then why the sorrow and why the prayer for their salvation? The same apostle wrote in 10:9 that one must confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead in order to be saved. The overwhelming majority of Jews reject this doctrine outright. Why would Paul say such a thing if we thought it unnecessary as the RCC apparently does? Paul tells us, in quoting the prophet, that God has stretched forth His hand to a disobedient and obstinate people. Clearly then, Paul was talking about the Jews.

Paul’s point in Romans 9-11 is that true Israel is God’s elect. He points it out over and over again that those who are of faith are Abraham’s seed. And the seed is Christ and the faith is Christ. In fact, Christ is the all and all. Apart from Christ, there is no faith. And apart from faith there is no hope. Therefore, apart from Christ, there is no hope. Paul wrote to the Galatians and expressed his concern over the kind of gospel Rome is adopting: his conclusion, Anathema!

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