Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Obligations of Non-Believers

Here’s an interesting quotation from WLC:

I think non-believers are absolutely obligated to take the Lord’s Supper and to tithe and so forth mainly because they are morally obligated to become Christians and so to do the things that God commands Christians to do.

This is scary stuff for anyone who is opposed to the idea of a theocracy.  I guess it won’t register as such for anyone who is a christian, but imagine the righteous furore from the favourite websites of islamophobes around the world (and those of the alt-right, the slightly more right-wing outlets such as Daily Stormer) if the scenario were slightly different.  Imagine an imam blithely saying something similar about how non-muslims are “absolutely obligated” to fall in line with islamic traditions and so on because everyone is “morally obligated to become Muslim and do what Allah commands”.

I wondered if the context made the comment more benign than it appears.  Here's that context (from a Reasonable Faith podcast):

KEVIN HARRIS: <snip> Skipping down to the last paragraph, Howe argued that there is a difference between biblical morality and a broader morality — though for Christians, observing the Lord’s Supper is important, non-believers are not obligated to follow such rituals.

DR. CRAIG: I disagree with that!


DR. CRAIG: I think non-believers are absolutely obligated to take the Lord’s Supper and to tithe and so forth mainly because they are morally obligated to become Christians and so to do the things that God commands Christians to do. They are disobedient in refusing to worship and submit to God as he calls us to do. It is not as though they are exempt from these moral duties and that these are laid solely upon Christians. These are moral duties that every human being has as a creature of God – to worship God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and so to carry out the obligations that God puts upon worshipers.

KEVIN HARRIS: Chase that just a little bit, Bill. We often hear from our atheist friends, skeptical writers, that faith doesn’t have a moral component to it. Faith in God – whether you believe in God or not – is not a moral thing. It is just a difference of opinion or something like that.

DR. CRAIG: I think that is profoundly wrong. I think that we have a moral obligation to believe in God. The first and greatest commandment that I just quoted is that we worship God with our whole being. Atheists are fundamentally in rebellion against God and are doing something that is deeply immoral that separates them from God and leaves them under his condemnation and wrath.

KEVIN HARRIS: Another thing that I would look at, if he is going to talk about what biblical morality is, what Christians would do to be moral and what a non-Christian would do (and you would disagree with that rightly), it brings up the issue suppose you encountered someone who was engaged in homosexual behavior. The temptation it seems in what we see today (particularly from Christians) is how they ought not do that, how it is wrong, how the Bible says it is wrong when if that person is not a Christian they are going to say I’m not going to follow your Bible. From that standpoint, telling them what Romans says or what Leviticus says would just fall on deaf ears. You are putting your biblical morality on me. In a sense they would be right, wouldn’t they? The issue is – your sexuality aside for a moment – what is your relationship with God? What is your relationship to Christ? That is what we should go to rather than be side-tracked on what a person is doing.

DR. CRAIG: I think that is true as evangelistic strategy that we ought to win people to Christ so that their lives would be transformed by Christ so that they can then avoid temptation and avoid sin rather than requiring them to reform their lives first and then come to Christ. But nevertheless, the truth is that insofar as they do these things as non-Christians they definitely are sinning. They are in rebellion against God. One has only to read the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans to realize that there is a whole litany of behaviors that are rampant among non-Christians which are noxious to God.  Paul says those who do such things deserve to die. They fall under God’s retributive justice and are justly condemned for doing those things. Of course, you and I are in there with them in that mass of sin. But one has fled to Christ for mercy and grace and pardon and cleansing. That is what the non-believer needs to do, too.

KEVIN HARRIS: Come as you are and then let God take care of all these things.


Nope, not any better in context.  Not at all.  WLC is implying here is that people disobeying Paul deserve to die, unless they have “fled to Christ”.  And this could easily be interpreted as “if you’re not a christian, you deserve to die”.  It's lucky that we don't have violent, fundamentalist christians out there ready to put WLC's and Paul's words into action, isn't it?

And yes, I do notice that WLC prefaces all of his multisyllabic statements with an indicator of opinion (“I disagree”, “I think”), but I think this is no more than an intellectual fig-leaf.  But I guess that’s just my opinion.

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