Answer Not a Fool…

As some of you may know, the first atheist monument on Government property was recently erected. Sye Ten Bruggencate of Proof That God Exists was at the unveiling and, as a way of “exposing the inconsistency and folly of atheism”, he brought a toilet seat along with him. According to an article on The Alligator he placed the toilet seat on the new monument, declaring it complete.

When I first heard about this story, I was more than a little perturbed. I understand the desire to point out the inherent contradiction between what the atheist says about religious belief, and the way in which he acts when his own beliefs are contradicted. However, I’m not sure that such antics are helpful. In fact, I’m certain they are not. The act of placing a toilet seat on an atheist monument contributes nothing to the rational discourse surrounding the subject of the existence of God. It doesn’t present an alternative consistent view that refutes, by the impossibility of the contrary, the worldview of unbelief. It is simply offense for the sake of offense. It is in my opinion that this was a needlessly offensive and childish act that communicated nothing about the Christian faith, except that some of its adherents are rude, and don’t respect others. A friend of mine in the Alpha & Omega Ministries chat channel summed it up nicely when he said “That would be like if the artist who put together “Piss Christ” was asked why they put it together, and they’re like, well, I’m really bothered by the overreaching claims of the medieval papacy, much like Erasmus. Really? Because it looks like you peed in a glass and put a crucifix in there.”

Jesus told his disciples that the world would hate them because it hated him first. Paul tells us that the Gospel is a stumbling-block, and foolishness to those who are perishing. I am not denying the offensive nature of the gospel message. To tell mankind that they are dead in trespasses and sins, deserving of the holy wrath of a righteous God, and that this very God whom they hate has offered salvation to all who repent of their sins and believe in his name, is an offensive message, but it is a true message.

I stand in support of my brothers who do the work of apologetics, defending the Christian faith and the gospel message against the irrational claims of unbelief. However, it is also my desire that no Christian apologist would ever add to the offense of the cross by acting in such a way that brings reproach upon the name of Christ.

Scripture tells us, answer not a fool… lest you become like him yourself. I fear that Sye has fallen into this trap. By acting in the same foolish and unhelpful way that many atheists treat Christianity (see the “Piss Christ” referenced previously) he has become just like them.


7 Comments

Jared Oliphint

Thanks for this. From the videos of Sye I’ve seen, the approach is shot through with problems, one of them illustrated on his recent insistence that you must literally say in every conversation that the unbeliever knows God but is suppressing that truth. A little CVT can be a lot dangerous when misinterpreted. If other apologetic approaches major on persuasion and minor on truth, this approach seems to be all truth and no persuasion.

Al Smith (Scotland)

Rather providentially, it seems like Sye has already responded in advance to all the points you make in the article, but you probably wouldn’t have had a chance to watch this before you wrote it. Before anyone makes further comments may I suggest it’d be a good idea to watch all of this so at least any further debate is more informed and has a better chance of being edifying.

Grace and peace from Scotland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyhL9EVjMqc

BK

Al – thanks very much for pointing this out. Some of us (at least one of us – me) had a chance to watch Sye’s interview on “A Rebel’s Cause” prior to this post being put on the site. Assuming that this is the response you are speaking of, I found nothing in Sye’s comments that led me to suggest that Ben wait to post this, or change what he had to say.

Sye did a very good job of explaining exactly why he did what he did. Ben also did a very good job of explaining why he took issue with it, even commenting “I understand the desire to point out the inherent contradiction between what the atheist says about religious belief, and the way in which he acts when his own beliefs are contradicted” as an indication that he knew why Sye did this. (In fact, Ben and Sye had already had a previous conversation about this very topic.)

With that said, I do appreciate the fact that you are encouraging us to be sure this conversation is edifying. I completely agree that it needs to be. However, sometimes disagreement (when properly communicated and supported) can be just as edifying as a pat on the back.

BK

Al Smith

Jared wrote “this approach seems to be all truth and no persuasion.”
Truth is good. So we all need to be about the business of helping to add the persuasion. I’m sure Sye would welcome the help.

We also need to be doing a lot more work to help educate our fellow believers about what “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” actually means; what it is, what it looks like, how it works in practice. When you understand how non-Christian world views are created in the first place, then influenced and changed, it becomes very easy to include “suppressing the truth” into every conversation. In fact it becomes positively beneficial because it’s possible to use the explanation of how that suppression is happening as a “point of persuasion” – to use your dad’s phrase from the Unbelievable show.

(Man, I need to repent of being a sluggard and get my book finished!) 🙂

RazorsKiss

I’m interested. What is lacking, in your estimation, about the body of references and explanations of the unbeliever’s suppression of the truth that already exist? Bahnsen’s thesis was on the subject of self-deception – and as such, largely focused on that issue. I have a rather lengthy exposition of Romans 1 here on the site. Many of us have expounded on the subject at length in various articles here on the site. Once again, if you read Bahnsen or Van Til, they often make the point that we don’t address every single point in every single conversation. Not only is that impossible, but it is counter-productive. While it’s quite simple to say that one should do X, it remains to be seen how this can be put into practice in, say, a short 5 minute conversation – or one that is even shorter. Further, the teaching that man suppresses the truth is part of the second step of the two step approach, correct? Is it necessary to put that into step 1? It seems to be rather obvious that we don’t always make it to step 2, simply because the unbeliever has no willingness to listen to their own position being deconstructed. Further, it’s not always the case that in one conversation they even finish explicating their own view – which is necessary in order for us to address it properly, and begin step 1! Thus, I’m not sure that it is true, or can be true, that it is necessary to speak of the suppression of the truth in every conversation. At very least, it would need to be demonstrated that Scripture teaches this, for it to be obligatory, would it not? Even better, it would need to be demonstrated that Scripture teaches it to be obligatory in every conversation, for your assertion to be validated as such.

Al Smith

If I wrote and submitted an article to you about “suppressing the truth” would you guys consider publishing it?

RazorsKiss

We don’t have any additional issues of In Antithesis planned at this time.


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