Liberated interview with a Christian fundamentalist
Here at the Liberated.blog we also talk about intellectual freedom. But this is only possible if we overcome our barriers of thinking and are open for new ideas. Our today’s interview partner seems to many people quite counterproductive for this purpose since he is calling himself a Christian fundamentalist. But whoever wants to be a freethinker must not close himself for even the supposedly antiquated. Because especially in a postmodern world in which the question of absolute truth does not have a high priority anymore, the conservatives and so-called diehards can sometimes seem downright revolutionary. Therefore, today I am going to interview my friend and fellow believer Josef Dražil. Josef works as a missionary – not in Africa but in the heart of Germany. He runs a German Christian-apologetic website has a German YouTube channel as well as a German Facebook group in which he loves to have some quite extensive debates with dissenting people of other opinions. So, let’s don’t waste any further time and let’s get started with the first question:
Josef, if you weren’t born in Europe, but for example in Arabia, your name would probably have the Quranic spelling Yusuf and you might be a Muslim. In Thailand, you would certainly be raised as a Buddhist, and in India you most likely would have become a Hindu. Why is it that you are a Christian and not a believer of one of the countless other religions on this planet?
Of course, there is no question that education and the socio-cultural environment not only have influence on naming children, but also on basic ideological ideas about God, mankind and the world. For this reason, nobody can really be (completely) neutral and it’s quite rare that someone changes his worldview.
Everyone has such a worldview, a system of basic beliefs about the world, no matter whether he is aware of that or not. Often, one is not aware of that because a worldview is similar to spectacles which you usually don’t see but rather through which you see the world. That doesn’t mean that sometimes people wouldn’t get challenged through certain events to take off their glasses and be able to examine them. The incidents of child molestation, for example, might bring a traditional Catholic to the point that he starts questioning his whole beliefs. In any case, there are reason why a person believes, and those reasons should be evaluated. Unfortunately, persuasiveness is a subjective size and experience shows that bad arguments are often convincing to people. A prime example is the argument that I am only Christ because I grew up in a Christian country or was brought up by Christian parents.
To use such circumstances as an argument against the truth of a worldview makes only sense if this is the actual and sole reason why a person adheres to a worldview. But even if this was the case, it still wouldn’t be a valid argument against the truth of a worldview because it still could be true by mere chance. A logically invalid argument is not necessarily wrong because it is based on a fallacy. Thinking like this would be a fallacy as well: the fallacy-fallacy.
I have lived an excessive life and harmed myself spiritually and physically. In great misery I have asked God to enter my life and he graciously answered my prayer. From one day to the next, I became free from destructive dependencies and passions and have a knowledge of God’s presence ever since. As a reaction to that I have made the effort to study many worldviews and eventually even wanted to become a Muslim. In another prayer with a request for guidance, however, God has clearly revealed to me that Jesus is died on the cross for me. So, I have thoroughly learnt about Jesus and can prove irrefutably His claims to absoluteness, e.g. being God incarnate.
Prove irrefutably? Isn’t that somewhat arrogant? How can you be so sure about this?
That’s easy to explain. You have to be clear about what a proof is. A proof can be nothing other than the attestation of a fact under the presupposed truth of one or more axioms. That’s always the way it is. In the case of the biblical world view, it is the axiom “the Bible alone is the (written) Word of God”. In this context, I use “axiom” as the starting point of a worldview. A worldview is a (preferably) coherent and consistent system of beliefs.
Okay, but what guarantees that your starting point is true? How can this be proven?
Here I would have to repeat myself, what a proof is. One must always presuppose something as true in order to derive something other as true from it. That is the essence of worldviews. They are based on a first principle that cannot be further explained. In this sense every human being is dogmatic, whether he likes it or not. Because every person has a worldview, whether he is aware of it or not.
I see… so you say one just has to believe something blindly and not question it any further?
In fact, every conceivable viewpoint is actually a viewpoint of faith. But you can subject worldviews to an internal scrutiny and, so to speak, test-drive them. Some worldviews do not even start. Others start up but are easily driven into the next wall. This means that they are logically contradictory and therefore refute themselves. They collapse under their own weight and do not live up to their own specifications. For example, atheistic-materialistic worldviews must assert that there is no universally valid truth, because all thoughts and truth claims are based on electro-chemical processes in a gray matter under our skull. Therefore, thoughts are nothing more than “accidental” byproducts of these processes. But the assertion that there is no universally valid truth is a statement with a universal claim to truth. That‘s as if someone would say in English, “I do not speak a single word in English”. It refutes itself immediately.
The biblical world view, on the other hand, naturally provides the necessary conditions for rationality. It provides a foundation for 1) objective truth, 2) secured knowledge, 3) non-material, unchangeable and universally valid and applicable laws of logic, 4) objective moral values and the laws of the universe.
In this sense, I am anything but uncritical and question a lot of things. I would, so to say, love to sit in every sporty-looking worldview car and test-drive it extensively.
Interesting… so you speak about laws of nature. But isn’t the Bible a thoroughly science-hostile book? Just think of the creation story, which contradicts modern knowledge from evolutionary biology. What do you say about that?
Here I have to make something absolutely fundamental clear from the beginning. The scientific method is not a method for finding truth. It simply does not lead to true statements. And that is not the pretension of science. Hence, there is no formal logical and therefore actual contradiction. Countless theories have been put forward in the past because the evidence available at that time pointed to them. But they had to be adapted further or completely discarded. A secular epistemologist once spoke of the current state of error in the light of these supposed scientific findings.
But science says that it is at least seeking the truth and, as you admit, it is getting closer to it. So how should the evidence for evolution now turn completely to the opposite and speak for a creation 6000 years ago?
Well, first of all, SCIENCE says nothing. There are SCIENTISTS who say something. And there are various voices, too. It is easily explicable how it happens that some of them are creationists or other representatives of intelligent design: just as science does not say anything, evidence can’t tell you anything as well. I’ve never heard a fossil fish speak – but no living ones either :-). It is always scientists who interpret evidence as part of their ideological beliefs. This of course applies to creationists, but also to evolutionists. For example, the observation that life is DNA based leads evolutionists to a common ancestry of all living things. But this can also be interpreted by a creationist who recognizes a common creator behind it. One is a naturalistic interpretation and the other a supra-naturalistic. The beliefs of a worldview determine what is possible and therefore which of these interpretations seems more plausible. It can be seen that these conflicts are ideological and can only be resolved at this worldview level.
Fine, that’s reasonable. But why then just the Bible? Who guarantees that this really comes from the Creator and was not written or at least manipulated by the Church or Constantine the Great? Can science not help as a cleansing corrective? After all, you want to follow God and not human beings!
For all questions about warranty and security, I have to refer to what has been said so far. Of course, what applies to the natural sciences also applies to the historical sciences. But even these, by the way, expose the alleged forgery of the Bible as a never dying and popular fairy tale. Best sellers like “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown have impressively proven this. But this has nothing to do with serious historical science, as the consensus in archeology and textual-critical research shows. At no time has there been an institution that would have been able to collect and alter the manuscripts. The transmission of the New Testament happened in the first centuries, even under persecution by the authorities and in several independent lineages. Moreover, it is possible to reconstruct the New Testament almost completely from the letters and works of the early Christians, because they have so richly quoted it.
Okay, but even if the Bible is well recorded, it still does not mean that God is the author behind it. After all, it was written by fallible human beings. Why do you trust a Paul more than a Muhammad?
The Bible comes as a complete package and closed worldview. Yes, it confirms that it was written by people, but under the guidance and inspiration of God. Those who reject the Bible lose – as already stated – any basis for truth and knowledge. Without revelation from God, it is impossible to escape the infinite regress of reason. For example, how do you know that A is true? This must be confirmed by B. How do you know then that B is true? This again must be justified by C, and so on and so on. The consequence is clear: If one must justify each statement, one cannot justify a single statement, or one would have to be omniscient, in order to be able to justify a single statement with complete justification. This circumstance of infinite justification leads to skepticism: nothing can be known! But that is self-refuting, because then you know that you supposedly know nothing. But this gives up the logical law of consistency. Then X and its opposite non-X are true at the same time and in the same way. Absurdity and intellectual death are the result. Such a self-defeating point of view cannot possibly be true. The only way to escape this infinite regress, and thus the self-destructive skepticism, is through revelation of someone who is omniscient: God.
The Qur’an eliminates itself as a revelation from God, for it confirms the authority of the Bible, e.g. in the Surahs 2:136, 2:285 and 4:136. In doing so, it confirms something as true and of God, which clearly contradicts itself in many fundamental things (e.g. the death on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus). For us Christians, that is a good thing when the Qur’an affirms the Bible, but that is why Islam turns to absurdity and disqualifies itself. And so once again a worldview collapses because it does not live up to its own standards of logic and rationality.
Josef, I see, you really believe that the Bible is from God and you take it very seriously. You are in fact a Christian fundamentalist! Do I have to be afraid that you will start persecuting other people who do not share your worldview? Let me just mention the buzz word crusades.
“Fundamentalist” is generally negatively connoted term because of its use in media. I am indeed a Christian fundamentalist, but only in the sense that Christ is my foundation. Jesus Christ said that whoever hears his words and lives accordingly, is like someone who builds his house on a rock – a solid foundation. The teachings of the Lord Jesus form the foundation of a Christian fundamentalist. They have the highest authority in all matters of faith and life. Jesus Christ taught, however, that we should even love our enemies: bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the left cheek, too. We shall overcome evil with good. Someone who acts contrary to these fundamental doctrines of loving your neighbor and enemy, thus immediately stops being a Christian fundamentalist. He has thereby left the Christian foundation. The more fundamentalist a Christian is, the more peaceful he is. The world needs a lot more Christian fundamentalists! I cannot speak for Islamic fundamentalism, but murderous and plundering raids do not correspond to the Christian ideal and are therefore not Christian fundamentalism.
But are there not explicit orders from God in the Bible to slaughter entire nations? How do you reconcile this with loving your enemies?
God is life itself and gives life to everything. And therefore, we first have to acknowledge that only God has the right to take life. In fact, God has decided to take EVERY life eventually, because all humans have to die someday. And anyway, it was not about eliminating Canaan-based peoples. The real command was to drive them out of the land as punishment from God for their terrible sins (burning children and much more). See Exodus 23:27-33. The rest, who still remained in the country and did not turn away from these crimes and to God, should indeed be executed. With all this, one should not overlook the patience of God. In Genesis 15:13-16, He says that He grants these peoples several centuries to change their behavior. Generation after generation, however, has shown that the children have just followed in the footsteps of their parents. In all of this, one sees that God is faithful to His own nature: “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty” (Numbers 14:18).
This is no different in the New Testament. The Godman Jesus died on the cross for the transgressions of His divine law so that everyone who believes in it will be saved from His just judgment. Either one trusts that Jesus paid for the sins on the cross or one has to bear the eternal consequences for one’s own sins. God is both just and gracious through the cross. So, every debt has to be paid. But on the cross, God’s love and grace become clear as well, because He Himself pays for our guilt on the cross with His life.
Thanks Josef! I think that the readers could take some food for thought. Anyone who has any questions or problems with understanding can contact you by writing in the comments section.
Dear reader, what about you? Are you a Christian? Why or why not? Feel free to leave a critical comment and Josef will be happy to reply!