A Fristian Strikes Out

As I was browsing the Internet today I came across the following from a “John Calvin”:

“All right. So all the Fristian needs to do is to say that ‘Fristianity’ is whatever subset of Christian claims the TAGster thinks we need for preconditions of intelligibility, *except that* the Trinity is a Quadrinity.”

How does someone disprove a worldview that has the same propositions as Christianity except for the additional proposition that there is a fourth person in God?

In my view, thinking of the “preconditions of intelligibility” as a “subset of Christian claims” may be a rather substantial error, but whether or not this is the case is irrelevant to answering this objection as it has been proposed. Whatever subset of Christian claims is needed for the preconditions of intelligibility, one can be sure that the TAG adherent claims the doctrine of the Word of God is one such member of the alleged subset. The Christian worldview is revelatory. The Word of God is the final authority.

The claim of the presuppositionalists is that the rejection of this extremely basic tenet of Christianity sets an individual firmly in the position of would-be autonomy which results in a failure to render human experience intelligible. The Fristian may be happy to defend such an allegedly autonomous position except that the possibility of doing so has been excluded by the definition of Fristianity provided here.

Recall that Fristianity is “whatever subset of Christian claims the TAGster thinks we need for preconditions of intelligibility”. Fristianity is a worldview that has the same propositions as Christianity with one exception. Fristianity includes the additional proposition that there is a fourth person in God so that “the Trinity is a Quadrinity”.

The individual proposing the Fristianity Objection in this instance, “John Calvin”, issues his challenge as follows:

“I want what you do to everyone else. You show how the Muslims can’t account for the preconditions for intelligibility, you show how the Mormons can’t do this. You show that the atheists can’t do this. You, allegedly, show how they refute themselves. How their worldview *cannot* account for the preconditions of intelligibility. Now, a new batter has stepped up to the plate. Will you finally stike [sic] him out, or will I keep getting intentionally walked?”

Since I have never been much of a baseball player I will let Paul Manata do the pitching for this one. In one of his many excellent book reviews (http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/paradox-in-christian-theology.html) Manata brings up what he considers “the best apologetic arguments against Islam and Judaism…based on internal contradictions”.

“Islam claims that the Gospels are inspired by Allah. The Gospels teach that Jesus is God. The Koran says he is not. Therefore, the contradiction is that Jesus is and is not God. Is the Muslim really going to accept both these claims about Jesus:

(J1) Jesus is very God of very God.
(J2) Jesus is not very God of very God.

Or:

(J1A) Jesus was crucified and died for the sins of man.
(J2A) Jesus was not crucified and did not die for the sins of man.

Or, inconsistencies between their own apologetic practices and what their own holy book teaches:

(A1) The Bible is not reliable as a witness to Jesus.
(A2) The Bible is reliable as a witness to Jesus.

I do not see how.”

Thus analogously:

Fristianity claims that the Bible is inspired by God. The Bible teaches that God is only three in person. The Fristian says God is not only three in person. Therefore, the contradiction is that God is only three in person and is not only three in person. Is the Fristian really going to accept both these claims about God:

(F1) God is only three in person.
(F2) God is not only three in person.

The reason Fristianity as posited here fails is because it gets too close to Christianity when it is offered as an attempt to copy Christianity with one relevant difference. The worldview is open to refutation from the outset because of its inconsistency with the Christian doctrine it allegedly accepts. It is internally contradictory.

In cases where a ‘Christianity +1’ worldview is offered one may appeal to Christianity to show that the +1 creates inconsistencies with the Christianity already accepted. To show that +1 is inconsistent with Christianity constitutes an internal critique of that particular worldview.


16 Comments

Nocterro

I think you miss the point.

I have heard of the Fristianity objection before, and it always seemed to me that Fristianity would include a scripture to match the quadrinity, but was identical to the Bible in every other way.

RazorsKiss

Except that aforementioned “Scripture” does not exist.

May as well say “it’s equally possible that the Christian God exists, just like in the Bible, with the one tenet excepted, that He is Spirit – instead, He’s an alien from the planet Koozbane.”

What Scripture teaches that, and how does this putative objector KNOW that God is a alien from the planet Koozbane with only a *hypothetical* Scripture, not an actual? You start changing all sorts of things then, don’t you? Revelation is part and parcel of Christianity. Positing a non-actual conception as an “objection” only proves that this conception is objectionable (and actually, that the implications are more far-reaching than the objector accounts for, most times).

Nocterro

“Except that aforementioned “Scripture” does not exist.”

Neither does the quadrinity. It’s a thought experiment.

The objection was that Fristianity combined with a scripture that teaches a trinity is internally contradictory. Fristianity with a scripture that teaches a quadrinity is not.

So, how exactly does Christianity account for the preconditions of intelligibility, while Fristianity does not?

Jeff Downs

Thanks for writing on this, more need to be done.

BK

I think it is difficult (impossible, actually) to *consistently* claim that Christian Theism (CT) is *necessary* on the one hand (whether or not one believes they can demonstrate it to be so) while at the same time positing an alternative to CT as a hypothetical (i.e. as possible).

If one does not believe CT is *necessary*, but merely *sufficient* then I suppose there is no inconsistency.

Good post. I would love to see more on this topic.

Theo Beza

Of course the careful reader will note that John Calvin never claimed that there was only “one” difference. Just that whatever the TAGster thinks the preconditions are excecpt a quadrinity. I’m unaware of sophisticated TAGsters who claim the existence of the Bible as one of those ontological presupposituions. The contingent existence of a holy book doesn’t seem to be a NECESSARY precondition; and of course, one can claim that it is but then would need to offer the *argument* for this. Lastly, if needs be, a Fristian book could easily be produced. A day at Kinkos with a pair of scissors and a Bible would work. Or, I could say that I actually saw said book in Africa. A holy Fristian man then took the book and threw it into the ocean whereupon a beluga whale ate it. Indeed, this wouldn’t be problematic. It is of course possible that every single Bible in the world could be destroyed. If this happens, and it could, would Christianity not be true via ‘the impossibility of the contrary”? You’d be bound to say, “Of course not.” So, me thinks you whiffed, big time. I felt it up here in the cheap seats! Anyway, I won’t be back as debating radical Tagsters who blame those who offer FSC’s (Fristian-style counter-examples) of being sinners in love with autonomy doesn’t strike me as a valuable way to spend my time. But you keep using that argument ad pietum.

BK

Hey “Theo” 🙂 Nice to see you hear.

I realize you said won’t be back to debate us radical TAGsters, but I feel the need to ask a question. Just one.

1. Where are you “standing” when you make the comments above?

I suspect you know what I mean when I put the question just this way, but will explain it anyway in case you don’t. Specifically, what worldview are you arguing from within? Are you a Christian Theist? If so, do you believe that Christian Theism is *necessarily* true? If so, do you have any response to my comment above about the seeming inconsistency in positing Fristianity as a possibility as a CT?

If you don’t believe Christian Theism is *necessarily* true, then that obviously changes a lot of things. But if you do – I am wondering how you feel it is consistent to put forth this thought experiment in the first place?

Thanks!

BK

RazorsKiss

Theo: Isn’t everyone a sinner in love with autonomy? Hrmm. Nice strawman, though.

Noct: From the standpoint of Fristianity: Does WHAT meet the preconditions of intelligibility? What content, with what revelation, are we talking about? As I said – the *content*; the supposed “Scriptures” of the putative Fristianity – do not exist except as a bare hypothetical . Therefore, there is nothing to supply the preconditions of intelligibility. There is merely imaginative speculation with no foundation, and no means of self-verification, or revelatory authority. “Some guy thought of this once” doesn’t really strike me as especially authoritative, epistemologically.

Hypotheticals are all well and good, as far as they go. Our imagination. Where they don’t go is into the realm of the possible. Sort of like God being an alien from the planet Koozbane doesn’t go into the realm of the possible. Or God lying 🙂

C.L. Bolt

“Of course the careful reader will note that John Calvin never claimed that there was only ‘one’ difference.”

Given that “the TAGster” claims that God’s revelatory Word is a precondition for intelligibility and given John Calvin’s suggestion that the Fristian presents “whatever subset of Christian claims the TAGster thinks we need for preconditions of intelligibility” it follows that John Calvin is in fact committed to this claim since one such precondition is God’s revelatory Word. If John Calvin does not believe that the claim of at least some presuppositionalists is that we must presuppose the Word of God in order to make human experience intelligible then he is simply mistaken. So long as God’s revelatory Word is claimed as a precondition of human intelligibility the Fristian must include the claim in his or her worldview and will continue to fail in formulating a coherent worldview for the reasons already presented by Paul Manata. Note that there was more than one deviation from Christian Scripture included in the internal critique of Islam. There is no reason to suppose that there is any difference with respect to Fristianity as proposed by John Calvin.

“I’m unaware of sophisticated TAGsters who claim the existence of the Bible as one of those ontological presupposituions.”

This is not relevant since I did not make this claim.

“Lastly, if needs be, a Fristian book could easily be produced.”

This is not relevant since John Calvin did not do so.

“So, me thinks you whiffed, big time.”

Not at all. John Calvin presented a possible worldview and requested that it be critiqued like other worldviews allegedly have been. The critique I provided is analogous to those provided by Paul Manata. Perhaps John Calvin would take issue with those, but that would be a different conversation.

“Anyway, I won’t be back as debating radical Tagsters”

Sorry to hear it, though I do not know what a “radical Tagster” is or why I am apparently being included in this category. It sounds quite like the mere rhetoric that traditional-style Van Tillian presuppositionalists are often rightly accused of preaching. I find it unhelpful regardless of which side it comes from.

“who blame those who offer FSC’s (Fristian-style counter-examples) of being sinners in love with autonomy”

This is not relevant since I did not blame anyone of this. Interestingly enough I have offered several FSC’s in various places myself. So far as I know I have not faced the charge yet that I am a sinner in love with autonomy, but I will concede that it is true that I am.

“But you keep using that argument ad pietum.”

This is not relevant since I never used such an argument. Neither did Paul Manata.

C.L. Bolt

Nocterro,

You stated that you think I miss the point right before restating virtually the same claims I interacted with in the original post.

Jeff,

Thank you for reading! There is indeed much, much more work to be done (or to be forsaken in acceptance of some other method). Nevertheless the particular FSC in question and those like it is one that I believe can be shown to fail as described above.

Mitchell LeBlanc

The Fristian objection shows the insufficiency of the “impossibility of the contrary”, but I’m not sure what Calvin means here when he speaks of the ‘subset of Christian claims’. It doesn’t seem to me that the Fristian objection succeeds by mirroring the claims of Christianity, but rather, by offering an account in the manner which the Christian claims do. I think I agree that if he is merely taking essential Christian claims and trying to establish some sort of non-Christian worldview he is in error. What he should be doing, is discerning the relevance of certain claims to the allegedly Christian Theistic account of X. All claims, are of course, ex hypothesis and no real ‘revelation’ seems necessary.

RK said: “Hypotheticals are all well and good, as far as they go. Our imagination. Where they don’t go is into the realm of the possible”

Not that you care, but unless you have some argument against Yablo-conceivability this is merely an unsubstantiated assertion.

Chris, in a somewhat unrelated note, Joshua has disappeared from the discussion on my Conventionalism post. Am I to be expecting a response from you in the near future?

C.L. Bolt

“What he should be doing, is discerning the relevance of certain claims to the allegedly Christian Theistic account of X.”

Which is what I think he was doing originally or at least asking others to do, but the introduction of Fristianity as described above certainly does not add anything to this endeavor.

A response? Surely you do not suspect me of having an answer? 🙂

I doubt that I will be responding any time soon in the form of a post. I am still interested in an audio debate, but you know how that goes.

Mitchell LeBlanc

I did expect you of having one, or otherwise furiously working away at one during your free time (if you have any) =). It was, however, comforting to note that I wasn’t the only one who disagreed with Joshua’s approach.

My course load during the summer will not be nearly as crazy as it currently is, so perhaps we can arrange something for that period.

A Fristian Strikes Out Revisted: Response to “Theo Beza” | Choosing Hats

[…] […]

Chris

Chris John Calvin on that blog is Paul Manata!!!

C.L. Bolt

Nah…they don’t even look alike.


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