So many holding various views on the LGBTQ+ question seem to believe there is no common ground to rally around. Therefore, the conversation devolves into a shouting match, or worse, a power play. I believe that if cooler heads prevail, we can find common ground and move the conversation forward. By listening well to both sides, the areas of common ground will begin to surface.
We all want to know how one’s sexual identity should best be understood. To find the answer to this question we must first understand and commit to the ground rules of healthy conversations that lead to truth. Being committed to reason and logic is the fifth and final ground rule I began discussing last week. This week, I’ll share five more ways we can go wrong in our reasoning about this important question.
As discussed last week , following the rules of healthy communication help us all understand one another and together discover truth. Over the last two week I’ve discussed four important “ground rules” to help us all have healthy, civil, and productive conversations. This week, I’ll discuss the fifth way to ensure we are on the path to finding truth in any conversation, including the important “LGBTQ+” conversation.
We teach our kids to “play by the rules.” We also do so at work, and there are even laws in place to ensure this. Our nation functions because there are rules we all agree are in our best interest to follow. Rules are necessary in order to ensure fair games, healthy work environments, and just societies.
“What we’ve got here…is failure to communicate.” Not only was this true for the Captain in Cool Hand Luke, but it is also true for those with different perspectives on the LGBTQ+ movement. Those promoting the movement and those questioning it seem to be so polarized that neither can hear, much less understand what the other is saying. Yet, I see a way forward.
(No matter where you are on these issues, please stay with me to the end of this series. I’m sure much of what I will say can be taken out of context if not read within the larger whole of my line of reasoning on this issue.)
Sometimes we face real moral dilemmas—doing one thing we ought to do means doing something else we ought not do. What are we to do when we are in these hard spots? Last week I discussed one solution that won’t work. This week I’ll look at a second option that is better than the first, but still not a good solution. Then I’ll offer what I believe to be the best ways to solve these moral dilemmas.
We all want to “do the right thing.” But sometimes that is much easier said than done. What do we do when choosing one right thing also means doing one wrong thing? What do we do when moral duties truly collide? There are three answers offered, but I only think one is realistic in our day-to-day lives.
I’m convinced that pre-evangelism is essential for reaching people with the gospel in postmodern settings today. But perhaps I need to make my case a bit more persuasively. After all, isn’t the gospel self-authenticating and powerful enough on its own? Do we really need to appeal to fallen people’s inadequate reasoning in proclaiming a message about rebirth? Perhaps my quoting of Schaeffer, Moore, and Keller still leave you wanting input from a higher authority.
Fifty years ago, Francis Schaeffer, the one-of-a-kind preacher and evangelist in postmodern Europe (before most people ever heard the term postmodern) told us, “Pre-evangelism is no soft option.” More recently, Russell Moore awakened us to the reality that “we can stop counting on the culture to do pre-evangelism” for us.
From Unlikely Converts, pages 13 to 15:
“Don’t you just love stories? We sit on the edge of our seats to hear them. We download podcasts that feature them. We pay money to hear comedians tell funny ones. We wake up when a longwinded speaker breaks from explanations, elaborations, and emendations and says, “This reminds me of a story.”
“Randy Newman has done it again! His latest book on personal evangelism is so captivating and inspirational that I read it in one sitting.” So says Dr. Lyle Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University Randy’s latest book is Unlikely Converts, the result of his doctoral research on how we can help non-believers come to faith. I’ve asked Randy to write a series of four guest blogs here to share some of what he discovered (and hopefully entice you to buy his book!)
“I Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God”—therefore, the Bible is God’s Word!” This is often heard, and may initially sound good, but it is guilty of circular reasoning—“begging the question.” This logical fallacy is a tricky one, and even gets the most careful thinker from time to time. So, let’s learn to identify and avoid it, in order to have healthy conversations and find truth!
“Everyone knows…” means “What’s wrong with you for not agreeing?” This is an example of the often-heard “bandwagon” fallacy. Last week I explained this ubiquitous derailer of good conversations, and offered a number of examples. This week I’ll suggest ways to get conversations back on track when they are derailed by this error.
“But Mom, all my friends do it!” “Everyone’s switching to Right Guard!” “No one believes that anymore!” You have probably heard a child, advertiser, or friend say these things before. It may have initial appeal, but when you stop and think about it you know something is wrong with this line of thinking. These are all examples of another common logical fallacy: the “bandwagon fallacy” (or the “appeal to common practice” and the “appeal to populace” fallacies). This is a fifth way healthy discussions are shut down.
Two years ago I posted a three-part series on logical fallacies, which has been one of the most popular series to date. In the series, I discussed three ways conversations break down. The Ad Hominem, Genetic, and Red Herring Fallacies all sidetrack conversations. But there are more fallacies to be aware of and avoid. In this series, I’ll discuss three more common ways conversations are sidetracked: the “Straw Man” fallacy, the “Bandwagon” fallacy, and “Begging the Question.”
Doesn’t the amount of evil make God’s existence unlikely? Last week I discussed two problems with this objection. This week I’ll offer a third response: it is reasonable to believe God does limit evil, for our good. Though we cannot know this through empirical investigation (by looking around, as discussed last week), upon further reflection we have two good reasons to believe that God does limit evil.
We have seen God has morally sufficient reasons to allow evil. Yet why so much? Couldn’t he accomplish his purposes by allowing much less evil than we experience? Isn’t the amount of evil reason enough to not believe in God? This is a very reasonable response often offered at this point in the discussion. At least three things may be said in response.
We have seen that God has a very good reason to allow pain and suffering in the world—its possibility was the only way he could create us with true freedom and all that goes with it. But what about hurricanes, earthquakes, and diseases? Can God not limit these and still preserve human freedom? He can, but it seem there may be other morally sufficient reasons for him to permit these evils. I’ll offer an argument to this conclusion in the next few posts.
We often say God can do anything—this is what it means for him to be “omnipotent.” But last week I argued there is something God cannot do. He cannot create people who are free and then determine what they will choose. Some object this limits God and makes him less than all-powerful. If they are right, the response to the Problem of Evil from human freedom is derailed. Is this a good objection?