Thursday, August 15, 2019

Preston Sprinkle's Capitulation to the World

by Michael R. Burgos, Ph.D.

I've watched Preston Sprinkle transition from orthodox Protestantism to an iteration of eschatological conditionalism. That transition was surprising to some, but not to me. It seemed to me that he intentionally failed to interact with the most significant works on the subject, and that his argumentation simply rehearsed the well trodden paths of heterodox interpreters. It also seemed to me that his theology was disconnected from the authority of the local church, its confessions, and its creeds-- "theology in the raw" as it were. I wondered, does Sprinkle affirm anthropological monism? This is a question that I've asked a mutual acquaintance, namely, Chris Date. It's profoundly relevant to any consideration of final punishment since the same biblical language used to describe the intermediate state is used to describe the punishment of the reprobate. 

Leaving conditionalism aside, a member of my church handed me a book that Spinkle wrote that she received while completing a program at Eternity Bible College. The title of this work is Grace // Truth 1.0: Five Conversations Every Thoughtful Christian Should Have About Faith, Sexuality, & Gender. This text is designed to persuade Christian students and other young adults of an understanding of homosexuality and transgenderism that is grossly out of step with the historic biblical faith. Until recently, the perspective Sprinkle takes in this book was previously unknown to the church. I decided to give Grace // Truth a read, and what I found was disturbing. Here are a few of its many problems: 

On page 27, Sprinkle wrote that same sex attraction isn't "a sinful action that someone needs to repent from." He also appealed to testimony of "Cynthia Nixon from the hit show Sex and the City" in order to persuade readers that same sex attraction is unchosen (pp. 27, 37). What an astounding series of claims! First, any desire to engage in sinful behavior, such as same sex attraction, is a product of our fallen nature. Unlike the external temptations that Jesus faced, same sex attraction is an internal temptation that is brought about by our Adamic nature. Like a desire to commit suicide, abuse drugs, or engage in incest, a desire to fornicate with the same sex is an intrinsic part of our idolatrous disposition. Any desire to engage in an an activity that is a violation of God's revealed will is itself sinful. Jesus will not only call all people to account for their actions, but for their illicit thoughts too. One day "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Rom. 2:16). Jesus explicitly taught that evil thoughts and desires are sinful (Matt. 15:19-20).

Moreover, Sprinkle's appeal to Nixon is absurd. Surely he knows that anecdotal claims from unregenerate people, especially those who shill obscene television programs, have about as much credibility as a character reference from Al Capone. So too, Sprinkle is likely aware of the Sexuality and Gender study completed by Drs. Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh, and how this study ought to have tempered his claims. Sexuality and Gender demonstrates that while sexual orientation may not be actively chosen by an individual, there is no scientific evidence "for the view that sexual orientation is a fixed and innate biological property" (p. 13). There is absolutely no scientific evidence that there exists a "gay gene" or that a predilection for a specific form of sexual depravity is biologically innate. However, even if one was born with a predilection for a specific form of sexual depravity, a Christian worldview, with its pessimistic outlook upon the human condition, would preclude enshrining such depravity as either morally neutral or compatible with the Christian faith.

On page 31 of Grace // Truth, Sprinkle compares same sex attraction with alcoholism. He wrote, "There's a reason alcoholics say they're alcoholics even if they haven't had a drink in twenty years. It's because the desire to drink is always there, even if they don't act on it." Here, we see both Sprinkle's capitulation to the Alcoholics Anonymous disease model of alcoholism, and a repudiation of the Christian gospel. The biblical teaching is that drunkenness is one sin of many which may be overcome in Christ. Similarly, same sex attraction is not an indelible orientation that one may never overthrow. The apostle Paul specifically identified that the church in Corinth consisted of people who were drunkards and homosexuals, but were changed into disciples (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Sprinkle has essentially upended the doctrine of sanctification, choosing instead to sanction the zeitgeist.

On page 49, Sprinkle wrote, "Until Christians develop the reputation of being far too chummy with LGBT+ people, we fail to imitate Christ as we ought." The irony here is remarkable. Sprinkle, who speaks as one outside of the authority of the body of Christ, has sought to correct the church, even accusing it of not imitating Christ. In reality, Sprinkle has argued against a series of canards which, while finding traction in the minds of the moral revolutionaries ("Those Christians hate gays!"), has little to do with reality. Local churches call all people, including those with a propensity for sexual depravity, to repentance and faith in Christ. Homosexuality isn't merely just another sin. It is an upending of the created order and of the human constitution.

On page 75, Sprinkle asserted that attending a homosexual wedding is a "gray area" for Christians and that it a question of Christian liberty. Really? I wonder if Sprinkle would be willing to attended a wedding for a white nationalist who held strong and well known antisemitic and racist views. Would Sprinkle attend a wedding for an incestuous couple or for a couple who had left their previous spouses for each other? Attending a wedding is a tacit means of supporting and celebrating that union and the people therein. It is disingenuous to suppose that one can honor the thrice holy Lord of glory by supporting and celebrating a union predicated upon disobedience to his revealed will.

While there is much more that can be said about Grace // Truth, as well as the appropriate Christian responses to those who, whether willingly or unwillingly, possess same sex attraction, suffice it to say that the approach offered by Sprinkle is one contrary to biblical Christianity. Sprinkle has sanctioned same sex attraction such that it lies beyond the grasp of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Corinthians 10:13-14. In so doing, Sprinkle has done the church a great disservice and has himself, imbibed deeply of a non-Christian position. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Genetic Fallacy: Critical Race Theory's Indispensable Tool [Pt.2]

§ III. Valid Genetic Reasoning According to Scripture

Having elaborated on why the genetic fallacy, why it is a fallacy, and why CRT is entirely dependent on it, we now turn to answer the implied claim of CRT proponents that our genetic reasoning is fallacious. Given that Scripture contains no errors, logical or otherwise, we will be appealing to the it to defend genetic reasoning in general, and our own genetic reasoning in particular. For if our method of reasoning is not condoned explicitly or implicitly Scripture, then we must abandon it. It will be demonstrated that our reasoning is not only neither explicitly nor implicitly condemned by Scripture but required by Christians in our analysis of ideas that are purportedly derived from, supportive of, or in harmony with the teaching of Scripture.

Prior to Foucault, Freud, and Nietzsche, the enemies of Christ utilized the genetic fallacy in order to steer people away from the Lord Jesus. For example, in John 7:45-52 we see the fallacy employed by the Jewish leaders. There we read the following –

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Whereas the Law of God does not judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning about what he does, the Jewish leaders rejected the claims of and about Christ for two reasons. Firstly, they asserted that the laity did not “know the law” (i.e. they were not rabinically trained) and, therefore, were not competent to assess whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. Ironically, through their fallacious argumentation the Jewish leaders also imply that their criticisms of Christ are correct because they originated with the so-called “learned” men of Israel. As a further point of dramatic irony, the reader by this point in John’s Gospel knows that Nicodemus, one of the elite teachers of Israel trained to “know the law” was woefully ignorant about Christ’s person and work, the doctrine of regeneration in the Old Testament, and the typology of the Old Testament.1 Secondly, the Jewish leaders asserted that Jesus could not be the Christ because “no prophet arises from Galilee.” What is being communicated is not merley that no prophet arises from Galilee geographically, another point which is demonstrably false,2 but what is also implied is that the Lord’s teaching about himself is not to be trusted because it originated with a man whose place of origin, i.e. Galilee, was low on the social totem pole.3

The Jewish leaders of Christ’s day did not differ much in this regard to Nietzsche, for whom the truth of Christianity was refuted by a genealogical analysis – or so he believed – of the origin of its central moral and metaphysical doctrines. What they fail to demonstrate is that the social standing of the people, and of the Lord Jesus as well, provides an unreliable foundation for the claims made about and by him. Simply being a layperson without formal rabbinical training does not render the theological claims one makes false. Likewise, simply being a person who was born into a family of a lower social stature does not render the theological claims one makes false. However, like their modern successors – Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and the gamut of CRT theorists, scholars, apologists, and activists – the Jewish leaders irrationally argued that the truth claims they were being presented with were false due to their origin among certain classes of people in society.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Genetic Fallacy: Critical Race Theory's Indispensable Tool [Pt.1]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ I. Whose Fallacy is it Anyway?

Whereas proponents of Critical Race Theory (hereafter, CRT) once claimed that “social justice contras”1 were ignorantly protesting CRT, they are now claiming that our criticisms are fallacious forms of genetic reasoning.2 Given that this latter accusation is a tacit admission that we are not ignorant of CRT, it follows that CRT proponents are the ones who are arguing fallaciously by moving the goalposts. The fallacy of moving the goalposts is committed when a speaker/writer demands that his debate opponent meet some criterion, but changes the criterion to be met when his opponent has met his initial demand. In the case of CRT’s incompatibility with Christianity, consider the following example –
Person A – “If you want me to take your arguments against CRT seriously, then you need to prove to me that you know what you’re talking about.” 
Person B – “CRT is x. It originated with y, was passed down through z, and is now held primarily by people from w.” 
Person A – “That’s all well and good, but how can I take your arguments against CRT seriously when you haven’t sufficiently demonstrated a link between CRT and the possibility of it being anti-Christian?”
This example of moving the goalposts, moreover, is only one level of fallacious counter-reasoning by proponents of CRT, for we have elsewhere shown quite clearly how CRT’s philosophical underpinnings are inseparable from its use as an “analytical tool.”3 What is argued against by the CRT proponent, therefore, is a straw man. Furthermore, the accusation that opponents of CRT have committed the genetic fallacy is ironic, given that CRT’s foundational assumptions are prime examples of the genetic fallacy.

In what follows, we will demonstrate how CRT is built and thrives upon the genetic fallacy. Additionally, it will be demonstrated from Scripture itself that some forms of genetic reasoning are not fallacious, and that our criticism of CRT falls under this category of valid genetic reasoning.