Some Baptist Wisdom

In America Baptists – especially Southern Baptists with their evangelical traditions – have gotten a bad name among many religions and even other sects of Christianity. While much of this dislike is well-deserved, the Baptists have had amongst their number some great and wise theologians and philosophers. Below are some words of wisdom from one of them:

There is a certain view of God and nature and man and the world in the background of our faith. But Christianity is a historical religion, and a religion of experience. It is grounded in facts. The Christian worldview rests upon these facts.

From the fact that other religions, including Judaism, have in them the idea of sacrifice and propitiation, it is concluded by some that it must be a false idea. Fundamentally this assumes that everything in the non-Christian religions must be wholly false. Is it not far more likely that a universal religious idea has in it an element of truth than that its universality is a mark of its falsity? Christianity purified and fulfilled all religious ideas of human beings, emptied them of their transient and superficial meanings, and revealed their true inward meaning. The atonement of Christ in a very special manner does this. In it God appears in Christ, not as a distant, implacable and angry being, requiring a satisfaction for sin which humans cannot supply. Jesus himself, as holy and loving and yearning to save humanity, provides the satisfaction.

— E.Y. Mullins
4th President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Obviously as a Pagan I have a theological difference of opinion with Rev. Dr. E.Y. Mullins’ assertion that “Christianity purified and fulfilled all religious ideas of human beings, emptied them of their transient and superficial meanings, and revealed their true inward meaning,” but his wisdom in knowing and saying aloud that universally held religious and moral concepts are more likely to be true than false and that things outside of the Christian faith are not inherently wrong just for being outside the Christian faith is profound.

Tags: | | | | |

The Euthyphro Dilemma

Euthyphro is one of the Greek philosopher Plato’s early dialogues, dated to around or soon after 399 BCE. In it the Greek philosopher Socrates and Euthyphro, a man known for being a theologian, attempt to arrive at an acceptable definition of piety.

One of the key points in the Euthyphro dialog is called the Euthyphro Dilemma:

Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?

For the followers of the Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) this normally translates into – on the occasions when it is debated by the theologians – the question of whether something is commanded by their God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by their God.

Amongst polytheists – with the rare exception of myself – the question rarely arises do to our multiplicity of deities with possibly conflicting directives and our lack of requirement for- or belief in their omniscience or infallibility.

I can’t speak to whether or not the Sikhs have the Euthyphro Dilemma often or not. They’re monotheists, but their view of their God is vastly different from most other faiths.

In any case though, it’s an interesting debate. Is the God(s) the creator or legislator of morality, or is the God(s) the enforcer of a morality that originate from separately Divine will?

Tags: | | | | | |