Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are We Arrogant to Believe We Are Right

It is commonly claimed that Christians are arrogant to claim they have the truth. But does this make sense? In other areas of knowledge to find what is true is not arrogant but reasonable. No one claims you are arrogant for believing that two plus two equals four, force equals mass times acceleration, or George Washington was the first president of the United States. Would you drive a car or ride in an airplane built by someone who did not have the arrogance to build them the right way? It is only in theology and ethics that such claims are made. But I see no reason for applying to these areas a principle that would be regarded as foolishness in any other area. Why should we believe that God will accept anything we choose to offer as obedience to Him any more than we would assume we can mix any two chemicals together without ever having them react?

Now it is possible to believe in this God who will accept anything you believe about him and any lifestyle you choose, though he is certainly not the Christian God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Isaiah 43:10,11). But is it not just as arrogant to claim this understanding of God is correct as it is to claim the Christian understanding  is correct? In fact, it seems even more arrogant, as it tramples over the universal human tendency to hold that certain things are right and others are wrong. It also goes against the general principles people have historically lived by, which hold there are fixed moral standards and right ways to worship God. Now this does not prove that this idea of God false, but it does mean that it cannot just be assumed to be true, resulting in labeling anyone who questions it as arrogant. If anything, it seems highly implausible that God should be totally indifferent to how we live our lives and how we worship Him. In fact, I rather suspect that that many who hold this view, when confronted, would admit that they have limitations on the kind of behavior that they believe God finds acceptable. They simply have a specific view of God that contradicts the Christian idea of God. Or there may be some who make this argument who would deny or  question that God exists. But again, they are holding to a specific viewpoint and claiming that their view is right and the Christian view is wrong. But they are no less arrogant for claiming it does not matter what you believe about God than the Christian is to claim that it does. The same principle applies in ethics. It is no more arrogant to assert a certain behavior is wrong than to claim it is all right to do it. In the final analysis, there are various views of what is correct in theology and we need to determine which is the right one. But the idea that someone is arrogant for holding a particular position is simply a red herring.

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