The Instigator
mrmazoo
Pro (for)
Losing
41 Points
The Contender
Kleptin
Con (against)
Winning
45 Points

Christians believe it is more important to be a Christian than it is to be a good person.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/18/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,269 times Debate No: 1941
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (22)

 

mrmazoo

Pro

For the purposes of this debate I will define a true Christian as anyone who has the following belief:

The belief that the only path to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. In other words, you believe that you must have faith, or belief, that Christ was and is God at the time of your death. Otherwise, your entry into Heaven is jeopardized.

Anyone who truly believes the above is a Christian, and anyone who does not truly believe the above is not a Christian.

If you consider yourself a Christian but do not believe the above, DO NOT ACCEPT THIS CHALLENGE! On the other hand, I have never met a Christian who denied having such a belief.

Furthermore, for the purpose of this debate, a good person is someone who desires to treat other people with kindness, respect, and dignity. A good person is generous rather than selfish. In short, what we normally think of when we think of someone being or doing "good."

I believe that Christians believe it is more important to be Christian than to be a good person.
Kleptin

Con

This is a tricky topic to debate, especially since you've restricted these definitions.

I would personally argue that your conclusion is logically flawed because the definitions you use are flawed for that particular reason. A conclusion cannot be valid if the premises are invalid, and I believe these definition you have of being a "good" person compromises your conclusion in that way.

Christians, from my understanding, do not view being Christian and being a good person as two different things, rather, they view it as one thing. No religion or faith can be summed up so simply, every religion has a set of rules for their followers.

Imagine if you will, an exclusive club that has a one time membership fee. Paying the fee is one thing, but it cannot be expected that the membership will continue unconditionally. If I set fire to the clubhouse or assault the leader, I may jeopardize my membership by having violated some rules.

It is the same for Christianity. Believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the messiah is the initial requirement, but that does not in any way mean that a Christian can engage in "non-christian" behavior and still hope to retain the title.

Christians preach neighborly love as much as the gospel itself and a good portion of the gospel is in relation to proper interpersonal relationships.

Jesus of Nazareth himself preached that the two greatest commandments were 1. to obey and worship the lord, and 2. To love your neighbor as yourself. It was not specified which ones was of more importance, thus, Christians must assume they are of equal importance.
Debate Round No. 1
mrmazoo

Pro

"Christians, from my understanding, do not view being Christian and being a good person as two different things, rather, they view it as one thing."

But this is logically impossible.

One can easily imagine a person who does good things but is not a Christian.

For example, there are billions of Buddhists. Very many of them are good people, yet they are not Christians. Also, there was the tale of the man who died on the cross next to Jesus. I forgot his name, but this man was a thief and was therefore NOT a good person. Yet, because he believed that Jesus was the son of God just before he died, Jesus said he would go to Heaven. So, here is a biblical example of someone who was a bad person but also a Christian. Lastly, I am an atheist, yet it is important to me to be kind and generous to people and I do my best not to be selfish or cruel. Does that make me a Christian? If being Christian and being Good were logically the same, then I would either have to be lying when I say I am an atheist or we would have to say that I was not a good person even though I am kind and generous and treat people with respect and dignity.

Therefore, it is simply not the case that to be Christian is logically the same as being good even if some Christians think it is.

But more importantly, in a debate you have to agree on the parameters of the discussion. My point was that IF you agree with my assumptions, then you must agree with my conclusion. It is somewhat unfair to challenge me by saying you don't agree with my assumptions.

For example, and I apologize for getting a little off track here but this is important.

If I say:

1) All men are heathens.
2) Socrates was a man.
3) Therefore, Socrates was a heathen.

This argument is absolutely valid. Validity only applies to whether or not the conclusion of the argument (#3) necessarily follows from the premises of the argument (#1 and #2).

Just because premise #1 is false doesn't mean the argument is invalid.

If I say that I believe that IF you believe #1 and #2 then you MUST believe in #3, then I am absolutely correct. It doesn't matter that #1 is false.

I made clear at the beginning of this debate that I was operating under the assumptions that:

1) A person is a Christian if and only if they believe that the only way to get to Heaven is to believe that Jesus was the son of God at the time of their death.

and

2) A good person is someone who strives to do good things. That is, someone who strives to treat others with dignity and respect, and who is generous and kind rather than selfish and mean.

My argument is that IF you agree with #1 and #2, then you must agree with:

3) Christians believe it is more important to be Christian than it is to be good.

Now, I haven't even made my case yet, but there seems to be little point if you are going to insist that one or both of my premises are false and claim that, therefore, my argument is invalid. As I have pointed out, the validity of an argument only refers to whether or not the conclusion logically follows from the premises, not on the truth-value of the premises.

However, I don't even believe YOU believe that either of the premises are false. For the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is obviously clear to any right-thinking individual (and I assume my opponent is right-thinking) that being and doing Good is logically distinct from being a Christian. This point seems obviously clear to me even though some Christians may disagree. After all, some people disagree with a lot of things that are true. That doesn't make those things false. It just makes those people incorrect in their beliefs.

So, in short, I still maintain that the two premises of my argument are true even though my conclusion can be valid regardless of the truth of my premises. I also maintain that my opponent doesn't believe my premises to be false. In fact, he practically says so by saying that "Christians, FROM MY UNDERSTANDING, do not view..." (emphasis added). In other words, he is not stating what he believes but only what he believes other people believe. And, again, it doesn't matter what those other people believe because their beliefs could easily be false and, in this case, it seems obvious that they are.

So, finally, I would like to get to the meat of my argument, which is this:

Imagine a Christian having to make the following choice:

A) To lead a good life but die a non-Christian.

or

B) To lead a wicked life but die a Christian.

A Christian MUST chose B over A, otherwise they can not be a Christian.

Why? Because to a Christian, the ultimate goal is getting to Heaven and being close to god. But all you need to do in order to get to Heaven is believe that Jesus was the son of God at the time of your death. Again, go back to the story of the thief on the cross. He lived a wicked life and yet Jesus blessed him and said he would go to heaven simply because the man decided, just minutes or hours before his death, that Jesus was the son of God.

What about this choice of preference:

A) A world in which all people were good but only some people were Christian.

B) A world in which all people were Christians but only some people were good.

A Christian would have to prefer B over A since they assume that the ultimate goal of life, which is defined by god, is to get access to Heaven and, the only way to get to heaven is to believe in Jesus when you die. Therefore, it is BEST (not in the sense of Goodness, but in the sense of doing what it is God wants you to do) for each person to die a Christian.

This was a somewhat long post and I apologize for rambling on about whether or not the premises of my argument are true and having to illustrate why (even though they are obviously true) their truth does not matter for my argument to be valid.

I'll stop here and look forward to my opponent's response.
Kleptin

Con

Though this point comes in the latter half of your response, I feel it deserves to be said due to priority.

I disagree with your stance that the main focus of a debate is whether a conclusion logically follows from the premises. I believe the end product of a debate should be a logically valid conclusion. No matter how well you argue your points, a conclusion derived from a faulty premises can never be logically valid, and thus, is useless in the realm of debate. It is neither unfair, unjust, nor against the rules for me to accuse your argument of being invalid on the basis that your premises are incorrect.

***

I feel somewhat guilty. You devoted half your entire response to a very qualified and very impressive explanation on a logical fallacy THAT I DID NOT COMMIT.

This is the result of some miscommunication, and I apologize, but I assure you that my argument was not to imply that all good people are Christians or any sort of similarly poorly-derived conclusions.

What I meant to say was this:

The Christian faith is NOT as purely black and white as you have said. Christians believe that one cannot be an evil person and a Christian at the same time. To be Christian is to devote oneself to a certain code of conduct and a certain way of life. To be Christian is INCLUSIVE of being a good person, not merely accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the messiah.

Will you review my other points?
Debate Round No. 2
mrmazoo

Pro

I still maintain that an arguments validity only depends on whether the conclusion is necessary, given the premises.

From the Wikipedia entry for "Logical Validity":

"To say that an argument is valid is to say that the conclusion really does follow from the premises. That is, an argument is valid precisely when it cannot possibly lead from true premises to a false conclusion."

In other words, an argument is valid if GIVEN THE PREMISES, the conclusion must be true.

But this doesn't matter because I maintain that both premises are true.

Furthermore, my opponent has not challenged the truth of either of the premises. All they have said is that some Christians do not believe premise number 2.

Again, it doesn't matter if they believe it or not. The fact is, being a Christian and being a good person are logically distinct ideas. It is simply the case that it is possible to be a good person without being Christian. Therefore, it trivially follows that being a good person is not the same as being a Christian.

So, premise #2 is definitely true.

Is premise #1 true? I challenge everyone here to ask a Christian if they believe you can get to Heaven without believing that Jesus is the son of god. This is absolutely the basis of what it means to be Christian.

All Christians admit that all men (and women) are sinners. Therefore, it is impossible to avoid wickedness at all times. Yet NO Christian will admit that it is possible to be a Christian without accepting that Jesus is God. This alone proves that being Christian is more important than being good.

Now, I will respond directly to some of my opponent's objections:

Objection 1: Christians DO believe that doing good deeds is important.

Response: I do not doubt this at all. I never said Christians believe good deeds are unimportant. What I said was that it is MORE important to be a Christian than to be good. This objection is irrelevant.

Objection 2: You can not be a bad person and be a Christian at the same time.

Response: Two things. First, this is untrue. Christians will readily admit that nobody is perfectly good. We are all sinners. Therefore, if all people are sinners, but some people are Christians, then it logically follows that all Christians are sinners and therefore it is possible to be Christian and wicked at the same time.

Secondly, this objection is also irrelevant since even if Christians were always good it is still possible, and I still maintain, that it is MORE important to them that they are Christian than it is to be good.

These are the only two objections my opponent has put forth. Neither of them are successful and, in fact, both objections are irrelevant since they attack a claim I never made.

I am not saying that Christians are bad people or even that it is possible for a Christian to be a bad person (even though ALL Christians admit that it is impossible for a human to be perfectly good; we are all sinners). All I am saying is that, to a Christian, it is MORE important to be Christian than to be a good person.

Given the choice of being the thief on the cross, or being Ghandi (who was not Christian but was undoubtedly a good person), ALL Christians, if they are truly Christians, would choose to be the thief and not Ghandi. They would rather be someone who lived a wicked life but who found Jesus in the end, than someone who lived an inspiring and good life, but who never found Jesus. This does not mean they are bad people or that they want to live a wicked life. It only shows that it is MORE important to accept Jesus than it is to lead a good life.

To put it another way, it is POSSIBLE to get to Heaven if you are wicked, but is is NOT POSSIBLE to go to Heaven without believing in Jesus. I don't see how any Christian can disagree with this statement, nor anyone who knows anything about Christianity. From this statement, it is trivially clear that although leading a good life and believing in Jesus Christ are BOTH very important to Christians, it is nonetheless still true that believing in Jesus Christ is MORE important than leading a good life.
Kleptin

Con

I apologize. In my opium stupor, I have confused "valid" and "sound".

Wikipedia definition of a sound argument:

"A logical argument is sound if and only if

1. the argument is valid
2. all of its premises are true."

An example of an argument that is not sound, but valid is:

All animals can fly.
Pigs are animals.
Therefore, pigs can fly.

************************

My opponent defines a Christian as a person who has

"The belief that the only path to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. In other words, you believe that you must have faith, or belief, that Christ was and is God at the time of your death. Otherwise, your entry into Heaven is jeopardized."

My opponent maintains that someone who has this belief is a Christian. However, one who has this belief but deliberately strays from the role of conduct that is expected of Christians, cannot be called a Christian. Christians will not recognize a person who knowingly performs evil deeds as a lifestyle, is apathetic or uncaring about the Lord's Sacrifice, does not repent.

The definition that my opponent gives is of one who accepts Jesus in MIND

But the teaching is that one must also accept him MIND, HEART, and SPIRIT.

A Christian is one who follows the teachings of Christ. One who does not follow the teachings of Christ is not a Christian because then, he would only believe in MIND, but not HEART AND SPIRIT.

Thus, my opponent's assertion that "Christians believe it is more important to be a Christian than it is to be a good person"

is in and of itself flawed because Christians see being a good person as a part of Christianity.

***************************************

"Objection 1: Christians DO believe that doing good deeds is important.

Response: I do not doubt this at all. I never said Christians believe good deeds are unimportant. What I said was that it is MORE important to be a Christian than to be good. This objection is irrelevant."

In fact, since Christians believe that the performance of deeds is a key factor in the Christian lifestyle and definitive of their lives in following the footsteps of Christ, it's not right to separate the two.

"Objection 2: You can not be a bad person and be a Christian at the same time.

Response: Two things. First, this is untrue. Christians will readily admit that nobody is perfectly good. We are all sinners. Therefore, if all people are sinners, but some people are Christians, then it logically follows that all Christians are sinners and therefore it is possible to be Christian and wicked at the same time."

This follows from the assumption that being a sinner and being a bad person is one and the same. It is not. A bad or wicked person is one who readily strays from the teachings of Christ and refuses to repent, regardless of whether or not he believes that Christ is the only way to Heaven.

My opponent makes lengthy arguments and cites many definitions but does not capture the essence of Christianity enough to make a sound conclusion.

My opponent's definition of Christian focuses primarily on having a belief, but not a lifestyle. While it is true that Dismas, the thief on the cross, joined Christ in heaven, this was through the act of repentance.

Luke 23:39-43:

[O]ne of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, "If thou be Christ, save thyself and us." ♦ But the other answering rebuked him, saying, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? ♦ And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss." ♦ And he said unto Jesus, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." ♦ And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Dismas, the good thief, not only accepted Christ as God, but also acknowledged that he did wrong, and that he deserved punishment. This is what makes him a Christian, his act of repentance.

Christians call Dismas the "good" thief because although he committed an evil, he repented for his crime, and showed sincere regret. Dismas follows the footsteps of Christ because he accepts Jesus mind, heart, and soul. A person who believes in Christ and is aware of Christ's gift only believes in mind. This person is not yet Christian until he willingly repents and accepts Christ fully. Only then can he be considered a Christian.

In that case, the most important thing is NOT the belief, but the good act of repentance.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
I'm really disappointed you feel that way, because debate isn't about how well you can bend the rules to convince a crowd.

If your definitions are flawed, they are flawed, and your conclusion isn't sound. So regardless of how many votes you get, you still wouldn't have won the debate, because your argument would have been objectively false.
Posted by mrmazoo 8 years ago
mrmazoo
No thanks. No point, really.

You've already admitted that if you accept my definitions (ie. if you accept the parameters of the debate), that you can't win.

So instead, what you did is simply changed the debate to something that I had not intended and argued against THAT.

It's sad that such tactics can actually sway people, but...well...there it is.
Posted by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
Look, the purpose of the comment is not to continue the argument. If you wish, you can reissue a challenge to me and we'll debate again.
Posted by Solarman1969 8 years ago
Solarman1969
Let me clarify for you

Look at the LIFE of Jesus

what did he do?

what did he say?

was he nice ?

was he smart ?

was he prophetic?

I think that if we look at his words and deeds, we see a thoughtful, kind man who cared for the lesser people and poor, and told people not to beleive in material things, but to attend to the spirit.

He never harmed a FLEA

thus, regardless of all the nonsense people have made up about him (ie the Catholic Chuch and Mormons etc) about your belief in him as such and such and blah blah blah- thats all poppycock

consider what HE said and did

and then, if you FOLLOW such a man

in your behavior and deeds

turning the other cheek in anger

being compassionate

etc

then you ARE a good person, arent you?

there are ALOT of other GOOD options for saviors or gurus to follow who are also nice

Jesus is a real good one though

SOLARMAN
Posted by mrmazoo 8 years ago
mrmazoo
Kleptin, please just answer the following questions:

According to a Christian, would Hitler have gone to heaven if he had honestly repented a minute before his death and pledged his love and belief in Jesus?

According to a Christian, would Mother Teresa have gone to heaven if she had honestly denounced god and Jesus a minute before her death?

Perhaps the answer is not absolutely cut and dried, but I believe every HONEST Christian would have to say that ABSOLUTELY, WITHOUT A DOUBT, Hitler would go to Heaven if he HONESTLY repented and accepting Jesus Christ before he died. This is the very basis of Christian doctrine.

Perhaps some Christians can honestly say that Mother Teresa would still go to Heaven, but many many Christians would disagree. Acceptance of Christ is pretty much absolute and without it you will not be allowed into the kingdom of Heaven. You may argue that god is god and therefore he has some leeway, but this would be an example of an exception that proved the rule.

That rule being that kindliness is not AS important as acceptance of Jesus.

I really don't see how any honest Christian can disagree.

My definition of "good" is probably the most common definition used in every-day speak. To argue that the word "good" should mean something different is to to "hinge on definitions that happen to be purposely flawed towards your side of the argument."

Besides, I defined "good" in my original post. You can not argue definitions in a debate, as long as those definitions were made explicit at the outset.
Posted by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
"It doesn't matter that the thief was SORRY. He was a wicked man. That was the point of the story, that even a wicked person can go to Heaven if they

(Insert HTML coding that makes this into size 100 font)

repent

(End HTML coding that makes this into size 100 font)

and accept Jesus."

I know how annoying the voting system can be, but I personally believe that neither of us won this debate in any sort of obvious way. I personally feel my argument is stronger because your argument hinges on definitions that happen to be purposely flawed towards your side of the argument.

If I conceded those definitions, it would have been impossible to argue. I'm sure you know that.

The first thing you wanted to do is completely isolate being "Good" from being "Christian", and the fact of the matter is, Christians believe that being good is an essential part of their Christianity. It has to do, as I said, and as others have commented, with following the footsteps of Christ.

Understanding and believing Christ's sacrifice is completely different from accepting it into your life and repenting for your sins. It is the repenting that clears the soul of original sin and perpetual repentance that keeps it clear. This is the way into heaven.

Dismas the thief cleared his soul by accepting Christ and repenting, and was about to die just as he met Jesus. This is why he was allowed into the kingdom.
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
Not necessarily. In fact, one far more skillful than myself addresses your reasoning here:

http://www.ex-atheist.com...
Posted by mrmazoo 8 years ago
mrmazoo
It's funny. My opponent never once addressed my arguments. Instead he argued against something I never said.

He kept going on and on about how I do not understand Christians or Christianity.

Simply put, if believe the thief on the cross went to Heaven, but the Buddha, Ghandi, Einstein, and millions of other good people who did not die as a Christian did not go to Heaven, then you MUST vote for me. Otherwise, you are a hypocrite, plain and simple.

It doesn't matter that the thief was SORRY. He was a wicked man. That was the point of the story, that even a wicked person can go to Heaven if they repent and accept Jesus.

But a good man can NOT go to Heaven without accepting Jesus. Ask ANY Christian.

So again, any Christian that votes for my opponent is simply a hypocrite or is dishonest.

Debate over, indeed.
Posted by Solarman1969 8 years ago
Solarman1969
To be like Christ IS to be a good person

HE was a good person

debate over
Posted by impactyourworld89 8 years ago
impactyourworld89
We are not saved through our good works. If we were, we would all be in a help of trouble.
John 5:24 (NLT)
"I assure you, those who listen to my message and belive in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemed for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
God saved you by his special favor when you believed And you can't take credit; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done so none of us can boast about it.
However, good deeds should come as a result of your faith. We are the light of the world (matthew 5:14) If people see us different than the rest of the world, they will see a light and it is also an opportunity for witnessing. So while being a good person isn't going to get you in heaven, it is still important.
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