Sunday, 13 November 2016

Craig's minimum salvation criterion questioned for its consistency

From time to time on this blog I have shown some of the small interaction I have been privileged to have with important biblical scholars, including Dale Tuggy, Larry Hurtado and Bart Ehrman.

One Christian writer I really respect is Dr William Lane Craig, whose work I only really know through his podcasts. With my friend Reinald, we wrote him a question based on an important comment he made during a Q&A in his Defenders class. Before I get to our question to Dr Craig, I would also like to point out that I am on the look out for written reference material to Craig's view on the Trinity, which is a unique and interesting view. The reason for this is that I'd like to update my chapter in my paper on the various and conflicting trinity theories. FYI Dr Tuggy is in the process of writing a whole book on trinity theories and is going to devote a chapter to Craig's view, which like all trinity theories, will enjoy its own particular set of problems. Here's our question to Dr Craig:

Dear Dr Craig,

We've greatly enjoyed your last series on Trinity. It's been a subject of great discussion between us friends in Marseille, France, and of deep thinking about God - and how the NT authors described Him in the 1st century. Near the end of your Defenders 3 class: Doctrine of God: Trinity (Part 11), you received a question about the necessary understanding of Trinity for salvation. In response you perform three quite remarkable logical steps.

1) You recount a story in which you were personally impressed with the personal faith of a oneness pentecostal, for whom there were no real or personal distinctions between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

2) This person was quite clearly saved despite this confusion, because Christ's divinity was absolute in that person's mind.

3) You provided textual support for this from Romans 10:9, where Paul states that "if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

How does 3 follow from 2? You clearly imply that the distinction of persons requirement is secondary to the divinity requirement, yet Romans 10:9 has distinction at its exegetical core (GOD raised HIM), and "divinity" more contingent on subsequent catholic interpretations of Kyrios (we agree with Hurtado that the Kyrios-ship conferred upon Christ by the Father, according to a few NT passages, is absolute).

In light of how you connect your experience with this oneness pentecostal and Romans 10:9, we would also be interested to hear how you would respond to a recent posting by Dr. Larry Hurtado, who - as we are certain you will be aware - is most reluctant to import or assume fourth century ontological system of categorisation on first century thought:

1) "My own plea is that we respect the historical particularities of those earlier statements and texts, and try to avoid anachronism in our historical task of engaging them.

2) "The Christological claims in NT writings are remarkable enough in their own terms and setting, and even more so the programmatic place of Jesus in earliest devotional practice." 

We look forward to hearing from you, and thank you for this most engaging discussion,

Reinald and John

As of yet, we have heard no response from Craig.

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Thanks very much for your feedback, really appreciate the interaction.