Pro Fanum

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In his recent post, Darryl targets my assumption of the infallibility of the God’s Word, and offers his alternative. But this simply highlights yet another example of an “inescapable concept.” The best way to summarize this concept is with the phrase, “not whether, but which.” It is not whether we will have a god over our society, but rather which god we will have. It is not whether this god speaks his law to us, but which law will be spoken to us. It is not whether we will have blasphemy codes, but rather which blasphemy codes we will have. The fact that we call our blasphemy codes by another name these days (hate speech) does not alter what is in fact occurring.

All law falls under the category of imposed morality. So which morality should it be? Kant’s? Sharia? Christian? Bentham’s? Why are we shocked when a Christian answers this question as a Christian? I don’t expect Kantians to call for the imposition of Sharia. There is even less reason for dismay about the Christian response when we learn that consistent Christians reject the “imposition” of Christian morality upon a society by force. Rather, it is to be done by persuasion as the Holy Spirit does His work in a society.

How does this relate to infallibility? Note that infallibility must be accorded to something, somewhere. In order to have any traction whatever in discussions like this, an unquestioned (and infallible) axiom is necessary at some point in everyone’s position. Sometimes it is hidden down deep, and other times it is right on the surface. But it is always there. Infallibility must be located somewhere.

And this is how it works in Darryl’s post. He says that the Bible was written by men, and is interpreted by men, and men are fallible. But notice what then goes missing. Darryl does not go on to say that he too is a fallible man, and so all that he says about the Bible might be wrong. No, he pronounces confidently about the nature of being born again, and declares that God resides within each of our hearts. Now, is this true? How can we know? Mostly true? Which part? Men cannot live apart from a sure word, and they will always locate that sure word somewhere. And when they have done so, they have thus identified their god. As it turns out, Darryl’s god is Darryl.

But now, back to a basic issue. I am not shocked and dismayed when a nonbeliever like Darryl expresses his unbelief. But why are people shocked and dismayed when Christians express their faith? Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do? And surely it should be permissible for a Christian minister to hold to the infallibility of the Bible? But when he does, if he is then slanderously assailed as a racist, the reason is not that the secularists were getting a little bored and needed something to do. The reason for this is that they are protecting their altar, their sanctuary, their font of infallibility.

The word profane comes from pro (in front of, outside) and fanum (temple). That which is profane is “outside the temple.” But which temple? I am in hot water locally because I have profaned the secular temple. I am thinking outside their sacred box. But I am a Christian, and I cannot help this. I am outside their temple talking this way because I do not worship in there.


Douglas Wilson

Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.

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