Two days ago I posted a short video summarizing a thought experiment that I present in my book You’re Not as Crazy as I Think, pp. 137-140. The video elicited an online rebuttal from Steve Hays of Triablogue. He begins in his first sentence by poisoning the well as he describes the thought experiment as me posing a “trick question” to serve as a “wedge tactic.”
Next, he states that I rig “the debate by stipulating a false dichotomy”. Steve is confused. A false dichotomy obtains when a person falsely state that there are only two options. I don’t make that claim. Rather, I pose the question, given these two options which would you choose?
Later, Steve claims that I “brazenly” endorse “salvation by works alone”. That’s utterly false on two counts. First, I don’t endorse anything. Rather, I pose a question — how do belief and conduct function in right relationship with God and other people? — and invite each listener or viewer to ponder that question for themselves. But folks like Steve view people who don’t give you the “right answer” with suspicion. They believe that encouraging people to think for themselves is a subversive act which is clearly intended to undermine that which they believe to be true.
Why is that? Is it because they themselves have been indoctrinated and they know nothing else? Is it because deep down they are insecure about what they believe and find such questions to be existentially unsettling? I don’t know. But either way, it is a disturbing phenomenon.
Next, let’s consider Steve’s claim that by allegedly valuing Muslim Diagne’s works over Christian Ntakirutimana’s beliefs, one is thereby endorsing “salvation by works alone”. This too is utterly false. One may simply believe that works are indictative of salvation obtaining in the life of the individual, not that works are thereby saving. And of course, Jesus himself often taught on the centrality of spiritual fruit in the life of an individual as a key indicator of the work of salvation in that individual.
As bad as all that is, Steve ends on an even worse note by suggesting that Jesus’ response to the Rwandan genocide was nonintervention. He thus observes, “If we’re supposed to follow his example, then his example is nonintervention. Do nothing to prevent the genocide–or, if you couldn’t see it coming, do nothing to stop genocide in progress.”
This bizarre comment ignores the fact that the church is now called to be the presence of Christ in the world, to behave in the manner he would behave if he were here. And that includes, among other things, protecting the innocent from harm. It also includes attempting to understand those with whom you disagree with charity and accuracy, qualities that Steve Hays knows nothing about.