I enjoy the doctrinal discussions I have with my "reasserter" friends at TitusOneNine. But I continue to be baffled by the tortured logic with which many of them try to justify their views.
A common reasserter syllogism is ridiculous
Some reasserters appear to be literally incapable of grasping that there might be possibilities in life other than the ones that they’ve conceived:
- They like Possibility A;
- Possibility B is unlikely, or disagreeable;
- By process of elimination, A it is; indeed, A it must be; and
- Anyone who wants to take into account Possibilities C, D, etc., is either foolish or malign.
Here's a typical example of this kind of thinking, as argued by some reasserters:
- The New Testament accounts are either trustworthy, or they’re not;
- We cannot say those accounts are categorically untrustworthy; they're at least as trustworthy as, say, Tacitus's account of Caesar's wars;
- By process of elimination, it's our duty to reframe our entire lives around at least the "relevant" portions of the New Testament accounts. (Who defines "relevant," and how, is of course another huge argument.)
Here’s another example: If Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t raised from the dead, then our faith is worthless. In other words, if we were to discover compelling evidence that Jesus stayed dead, then (supposedly) nothing he said or did during his lifetime would be of any value to us.
I’m not going to mince words: That kind of reasoning is nuts. We expect better from intelligent middle-schoolers. (And sure enough, that’s about the age when a lot of young people start questioning "The Faith Once Delivered.")
Sure, in the right circumstances, the process of elimination can be useful. But it’s just one of the tools in the toolbox. It might not always be the one to use — when you need to make a precise cut in a piece of wood, it’s literally imbecilic to insist on using a hammer.
The proof is in the results
But how do we know that the reasserters aren’t right anyway? Well, we get a pretty good indicator in the observable results:
• Reasserters claim that their view leads to eternal life for those accepting it. But they have exactly zero reliable evidence to support that claim. We hope and trust that there's a life after this one, but we have no idea what really happens when you die. The reasserter claim amounts to so much wishful thinking.
• In contrast, the so-called Enlightenment mindset has, by several orders of magnitude, done a better job of understanding and dealing with the reality that God has wrought. It has thereby helped us to do a better job as workers in (what appears to be) his ongoing project of creation.
Related post: How to judge the claims of testimony