The Instigator
Impact94
Pro (for)
Winning
2 Points
The Contender
turnerjb04
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Liberal Theology (Pro) Vs. Fundamentalist Theology (Con)

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Impact94
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/18/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 850 times Debate No: 46181
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

Impact94

Pro

I will be arguing Pro for Liberal Theology as it is defined here:
(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

In contrast to Fundamentalist Theology, as it is defined here:
(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

There will be five rounds - the first round is for acceptance, the second round is for making a statement defining the respective stance (please do not, not, not start attacking any positions yet during this round), the third and fourth rounds will be for both the negative cross examinations and the rebuttals.


turnerjb04

Con

I accept this challenge although I am not a Christian, I am a former Christian (now a Muslim) and will do my best to argue for the side that I think makes the most sense which although I am still not entirely sure yet lol, I believe it to be classical and fundamental theological position.

May the one with the best arguments win
Debate Round No. 1
Impact94

Pro

I apologize for the delay with this round, and I also want to cover up a mistake of mine in the first round - there are actually four rounds here. Nothing should change with the debate structure though, I just mistakenly typed that there would be five rounds earlier when the debate was actually set or four.


Argument #1: It's difficult to tell if the Bible actually is literally the word of God. Therefore, the Bible is not truly "divinely inspired"[1]
When it came to the compilation of theh Bible by the Council of Nicea, it appears that it was strewn together by human means. Even the answer given to how the Bible was created is said to have, admittedly, been decided upon by human beings.

"Determining the canon was a process conducted first by Jewish rabbis and scholars and later by early Christians."[1]

Furthermore, even the greatest theologians must admit that each of the books within the Bible today, and each of the books which existed within the Bible at one time in the past (i.e. the Biblical Apocrypha). To go off on a tangeant for a moment, it would behoove me to point out here that some books of the Bible have been removed or kept for various reasons of varying decisions. In fact, the Roman Catholic version of the Bible is much different from the Protestant Bible for this reason, and the Eastern Orthodox Bible is much different than the Protestant Bible.

In 2 Peter 3:16, it is said that Paul's writings are "hard to understand" and that it is the same "in all of his letters." If this is the case, then the Pauline Epistles themselves must be "hard to understand" as it is said here. Surely if the Bible were the Infallible Word of God, it would be perfect and understandible enough for anyone to read and interpret accurately, for "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Cor. 14:33).
There are also many, many branches and denominations of Christianity - so, surely if the Bible were God's Word, and God is not the author of confusion, then these denominations of Christianity would not exist, for there would be no question as to what the Bible says - and yet, the Bible is stuffed to the brim with semantics controversies and debates from beginning to end.


Argument #2: Scientific and historical evidence may confirm some elements of the Bible, but it also refutes many others as well.

While it is true that there are some things in the Bible which have been confirmed by scientists and historians, there are also some things which have been in direct conflict with these scientists and historians. The subject of evolution is an ever-prevalent notion being passed around today, with an increasing number of evidences to prove it. Another conflict with the Biblical history is this latest challenge to it's authority by historians:

"Last week, archaeologists Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University released a new study that dates the arrival of the domesticated camel in the eastern Mediterranean region to the 10th century B.C. at the earliest, based on radioactive-carbon techniques. Abraham and the patriarchs, however, lived at least six centuries before then. The New York Times, in a story about the finding today, announced, “There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place … these anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history.” "[2]

Another recent challenge to a literal interpretation of the Bible was the creationism vs. evolution debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, where 92 perccent of voters on an Evangelical Christian website believed that Bill Nye had won:

"Ninety-two percent of the more than 37,000 voters taking a poll on the evangelical website Christian Today said Nye won. Certainly, as has been noted, the self-selecting poll could have been invaded by evolutionists. But if this was not the case, the poll results suggest a few possible interpretations: 1) Self-identifying Christians don’t agree with Ham, 2) Christians believe Nye performed better, even if they disagreed with his points, 3) a mixture of the above."[3]

Argument #3: The Bible seems to be "Errant" - that is to say, it appears to have some contradictions, and as such appears to be anything but "infallible", as it is commonly said that it is "the Infallible Word of God."

Another issue with the Bible is that it appears to have clear contradictions in it - taking Exodus 31:18 and Malachi 4:4, for example, where it seems to be saying that Moses had obtained the 10 Commandments from both Mount Sinai and Mount Horeb. A detailed chart revealing many different contradictions which are apparent in the Bible can be seen in the link provided below, albeit I will digress that there are some of them which can be explained for by some Theological understanding of the said passages.

http://bibviz.com...

Clearly, if there are contradictions like these in the Bible, then the Bible must have been written by imperfect human beings and is thusly imperfect itself, much less the literal Word of God.

Sources:

[1] http://www.gotquestions.org...
[2] There Were No Camels During Time of Biblical Patriarchs, Study Says | TIME.com http://world.time.com...
[3] http://www.salon.com...
turnerjb04

Con

No problem in regards to the delaying of the round and four rounds I think is better for me anyway. I appreciate the points that you have raised and think that they are good points and of course I will be responding to those in the next round, but for now I will present the reasons why I think that it makes more sense to take the fundamentalist approach to biblical theology rather than a modern liberalism approach that you are arguing for.

Point #1: The fundamentalist approach makes more sense of Christian theology
The first point that I would like to raise is that Christianity teaches that God is omnipotent and omniscient, that He is All-Powerful and All-Wise. This remains with the approach I am arguing for as it presents the case of a God who through His wise and powerful nature, through men inspired the word of the text to be presented to all of humankind as the Divinely inspired word of God, for all to follow, for a means of peace and salvation. The modernist approach makes if very difficult to remain Christian because of the very questioning of God's nature and attributes, for how can a God of this nature reveal through men to humankind a book so erroneous and contradictory internally and externally, for the pro liberal approach would concede this much and this brings into question the very nature and essence of the God the bible is trying to present. Thus, I would say that in fact the pro liberal approach to biblical theology implies that God isn't all-knowing or all-wise and that in fact he is capable of making mistakes and errors.

Point #2: The fundamentalist approach makes sense of the bible holistically
This approach I would argue also seems to make more sense because it allows you to believe in a God who revealed the text through men as being Divinely inspired throughout. Now the modernist approach raises the question of, which parts do you take literal and which don't you? It seems to me that in fact this approach is really picking and choosing at its own convenience and that it is really a cop out to avoid some of the things I have mentioned about Gods omnipotence and omniscience. The fundamental approach makes sense of the bible as a whole and can argue away contradictions in various alternative ways rather than admitting that God makes mistakes or that He isn't all that perfect after all, which is the impression I get from a pro liberal theology. Consequently you also have to question all aspects of the bible for when God says He is a jealous God and you have to worship Him alone is this whole passage literal or is it metaphorical, which parts are literal, which are metaphorical and what is your criterion to determine this.

Point #3: The fundamentalist approach makes sense of God's will and intentions
This approach to biblical theology also makes sense of God in terms of what He would have wanted and intended to do in revealing a text to mankind. It suggests that God, through men inspired the word in which people can rely on and take as their inspiration and guidance. For if God wanted to reveal a text to man why would He do it in such a manner that it has contradictions and errors, well of course He wouldn't, rather God would have intended to give a text to people that they can trust and rely upon rather than one that almost questions the texts very origins, if you take the fundamental approach then you can come to know God for who He is as mentioned in the text, if you are pro liberal then, you raise the question of why would God have revealed it in this way, surely He could have done a bit better?

Point #4: Pro Liberal theology is offensive, fundamental theology is full of praise
What I mean here is that fundamental theology really acknowledges God in His true nature and is praiseworthy of God because it believes in all His attributes as told in the bible and for that is full of praise, which of course God deserves. However, with pro liberal theology I would argue that what you say about God is to Him maybe offensive and some what degrading, for it implies God makes mistakes, He is not perfect and is somewhat flawed, is this really God and is this what God would want of people to take this approach to Him and His Divinely inspired text, to question Him and accuse Him of making errors, mistakes and taking human knowledge and wisdom over His own.

Point #5: What next?
I think that one of the other issues with taking the pro liberal approach that you are arguing for is that it raises the issue of what next are you going to try to change or modernise just because it appears problematic, for example you may try to argue that in fact God is not all good to get pass the problem of evil just because it seems problematic, the issue is here that although it might work from a theological and philosophical perspective where talking about the Creator of the universe, you cannot create lies about Him, His nature, essence, revelation and so on.

So I hope I have raised enough points to get you thinking and would also that you to really clarify your position, do you really believe in an erroneous bible, full of errors and contradictions and how do you reconcile this whilst believing in the God of Christianity.
Debate Round No. 2
Impact94

Pro

Rebuttal #1: God is Omniscient; The Bible Cannot Be Perfect.
In regards to my opponent's first point, I would most certainly like to make a clarification: at no point do I believe that I am bringing the omniscience and omnipotence of God into question. In fact, it is much the opposite - I concede that the Bible is fallible, and that it does indeed contain marks of human error, but as a result, I believe that such a Bible is proof that the omniscient and omnipotent God of christianity could not have possibly written such a text. In reverse, I might argue that to say the Bible literally is the word of God would be an embarrassment to Him, because clearly the Bible is not perfect.
As an added point to my rebuttal, I would like to point out another problem, and this is that the Bible is believed to be the perfect, Infallible Word of God - but this is just not possible.
We as finite beings could not possibly comprehend what is perfect. To say that the Bible is perfect would mean to say that it is without room for improvement. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perfection as "1.having no mistakes or flaws 2. completely correct or accurate." Philosophically, I would argue that perfection is an infinite property, because as long as something is finite, it can always be more than it already is.

Mathematically, it can be argued logically with inequalities:
1<2, 2<3, 3<4, 4<5, 5<6,...1,000<1,001, 1,001<1,002... 1,000,000<1,000,001...
As you can see, there is always a finite number greater than the first, so every number is flawed because it is not as good - or at an equal or greater than value - as the next number. However, this can easily be changed with the integration of a different variable:
1<∞, 2<∞, 3<∞...1,000<∞, 1,001<∞... 1,000,000<∞, 1,000,001<∞...

What this all has to do with the perfection of the Bible, is to say that as long as the Bible is finite - and I argue that it is - it cannot possibly be perfect. Even more, a finite human being created by God is unable to comprehend such an infinite perfection; to say this is possible would mean to argue that a finite human being could comprehend God, but of course this is impossible. So, the very fact that humans are capable of reading and comprehending the Bible, must mean that the Bible is finite, or in other words, imperfect. We could not understand it otherwise.

Rebuttal #2: The liberal theology approach views the Bible in the context of an ancient document.

My opponent raised the concern that the approach of liberal theology to the Bible could be a cop out to - what I'm assuming - some verses in the Bible, alongside a cop out to God's omniscience and omnipotence. I've previously rebutted the latter, so I will argue the former.
I would like to introduce a verse from the Bible, which is Deuteronomy 22:28-29, which states:

28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. (NIV)

http://www.biblegateway.com...

I ask, is this a verse which christians should take literally today? Or should we take the liberal theology approach, deem that this verse is part of an ancient text, and go on to say that it no longer applies?

"The fundamental approach makes sense of the bible as a whole and can argue away contradictions in various alternative ways"
Perhaps - if so, I would be interested if my opponent could rationalize Exodus 31:18 and Malachi 4:4 in his/her next rebuttal, and even more convincingly, some other alleged contradictory verses in the Bible as well.

"Consequently you also have to question all aspects of the bible for when God says He is a jealous God and you have to worship Him alone is this whole passage literal or is it metaphorical, which parts are literal, which are metaphorical and what is your criterion to determine this."
I think that, from what can be examined, the God of the times referenced to in the Bible may be more likely than other gods, but this is my opinion alone. Therefore, if the God of this ancient text is the true God, then it would make more sense to worship this God than any other. As with any ancient text, I would say looking for consistency and motifs is most likely the best bet for exegeting accurate information from the books compiled in the Bible.

Rebuttal #3: God Authored the Bible?

"It [fundamentalist theology] suggests that God, through men inspired the word in which people can rely on and take as their inspiration and guidance. For if God wanted to reveal a text to man why would He do it in such a manner that it has contradictions and errors, well of course He wouldn't, rather God would have intended to give a text to people that they can trust and rely upon rather than one that almost questions the texts very origins..." (emphasis mine)

I believe my opponent may have philosophically arrived at the conclusion I have arrived at here, albeit my opponent does believe in fundamentalist theology at this point as far as I am aware. I am arguing that, because the Bible is imperfect, God must not have authored it. Perhaps such a perfect guide would be nice, as my opponent argues, but I would argue that a perfect document, a perfect guide of life, would just not be feasible, logically or philosophically. As stated before, we as finite beings could not possibly comprehend perfection, so in order for the Bible to be comprehensible, as it is, it must, therefore, be finite.


Rebuttal #4: The View of God

I think I already rebutted much of this in my first rebuttal, but I will briefly cover this view nevertheless. Liberal theology is very expansive on views of God, as there is no grouping of denominations based on fundamental theological approaches, so I cannot speak for the whole of liberal theology; and I would also like to mention that there are many views of God under the fundamentalist christian umbrella as well. However, I will reaffirm that, on account of the Bible being imperfect, saying that an omnipotent and omniscient God had authored such a flawed document could make fundamentalist theology to be a kind of embarrassment to God, in a sense. Liberal theology looks at the Bible, and denies that such an all-knowing, all-powerful God would have authored such a text.

*Point #5: What next?

This point which my opponent raised is, I concede, a very good point; but not necessarily in a bad way. Of course, I do not believe that the liberal approach to the Bible will eventually condemn God in any way on account of the problem of evil, because liberal theology is more based in criticism of the Bible rather than criticism of God - the two are hardly the same, after all! But "what next" is indeed a good question. Will evolution be discovered by a liberal christian? Will an end to discrimination and prejudice be put forth by a liberal christian? If we are to look at many parts of the Bible as ancient and outmoded, it opens up the future for whatever is required in order to learn more scientifically or socially. I do want to clarify though, that I do not believe this creates lies concerning God's "nature, essence, and revelation", et al, as my opponent argues.

I await my opponent's rebuttal.
turnerjb04

Con

turnerjb04 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Impact94

Pro

This is unfortunate; I hope my opponent will be able to have the chance to explain away my rebuttals in this round. Although in closing, I would like to thank my opponent for bringing up his/her very valid concerns and arguments for liberal theology. I do hope this will be an enlightening debate for the both of us.
turnerjb04

Con

turnerjb04 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Jifpop09 3 years ago
Jifpop09
Most people are neither. They are both movements.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
Impact94turnerjb04Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 2 years ago
Krazzy_Player
Impact94turnerjb04Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF