Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Religious Dialogue 101: For the Lazy and Dishonest (Part 4 of 4)

16. A False Dilemma is created when one offers two extremes as the only alternatives to a position, when there are actually other options. In response to an article I had written on 1 Cor. 14:34-35,1 an anonymous critic accused me and other conservative Christians of inconsistency, because Paul’s admonition for “women to keep silent” in the assemblies and not “to speak” would prohibit them from singing (cf. Eph. 5:19); so if we allow women to sing in our corporate gatherings, we ought to let them preach. These limited choices form a false dichotomy, because it’s really not an either-or option. In context, the silence (sigáō) and the prohibition to speak (laléō) are also enjoined on male tongue-speakers (when there is no interpreter, v. 28) and on male prophets (when someone else is talking, v. 30). That is, they were not to speak as to lead the assembly. The silence here does not forbid singing (v. 15), saying “amen” (v. 16), or public confession (1 Tim. 6:12). The admonitions concern public speaking in leading the corporate assembly.2

17. Making a mountain out of a molehill is an overreaction or an overstatement that makes too much out of a minor issue. It has been alleged that among the surviving New Testament manuscripts there are up to 400,000 variations, leading many to infer that the scriptures have been substantially distorted over the centuries to the point they are no longer trustworthy.3 On the surface this may seem quite alarming until it is reasonably assessed from an informed perspective. The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of these variants are so trivial as to not even be translatable. For example, the most common occurrence is an anomaly known as “the moveable nu, where a word sometimes ends with the letter nu (the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet) and sometimes it does not. Either way the word’s meaning is exactly the same and the sense of the passage is entirely unaffected. But every time it appears in the multiplied thousands of pages of Greek manuscripts, it is counted as a textual variant. Most other variations involve relatively minor details, such as spelling, reduplication, and word order, but no fundamental doctrine of the Bible is in doubt because of textual uncertainty (see Changes in the Bible Part 1).

18. Ad Hominem is an attack on someone’s character or motives in an attempt to dismiss the person’s stated conviction rather than directly addressing the argument itself. If one objects to female leadership roles in the church, some will accuse him of patriarchal misogyny and oppressing women. To reject gay marriage and to oppose the homosexual lifestyle makes one susceptible to the charge of homophobia and hate speech. If, however, we could discuss these issues sympathetically and fairly, we could see that it’s conceivable to love and respect women while complying with scriptural guidelines on gender roles (cf. Eph. 5:22-23).3 It is also possible to be concerned and genuinely care about homosexuals without compromising biblical morality (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11).4 Since only Jesus could legitimately know what was in a person’s heart (Matt. 9:4; 12:25), if a disputant attributes questionable motives instead of addressing the issue at hand, he is guilty of an ad hominem attack and not honest dialogue.
-- Kevin L. Moore

     1 Let the Women "Keep Silent" in the Churches. Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from the NKJV.
     2 In 1 Corinthians laléō (to “speak”) is used with reference to public speaking, particularly in the exercise of a spiritual gift (cf. 2:6, 7, 13; 3:1; 9:8; 12:3, 30; 13:1, 11; 14:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 18, 19, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 34, 35, 39).
     3 Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco: Harper, 2007): 7, 10, 89, 90.
     4 See Wes McAdams’ I’m Tired of People Demeaning Women in the Church, <Link>.
     5 See Adam Faughn’s A Personal Letter to My Homosexual Friends, <Link>.

Related articles: Forest Antemesaris' More Bad Reasons to Reject Christianity

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