It's one of those commonplaces that many never notice. But once you do notice it, you see it everywhere.
I speak of the unspoken assumption of a great many non-Christian/Christian dialogues, at least from the non-Christian side. Unspoken, I say (or speak, heh), but there nonetheless.
Take this recent post from one of those blogs you should visit every day instead of ________ and _______ ___ ______, to wit: Fred Butler's Hip and Thigh.
Fred responds in characteristically non-RPB style to another post titled 7 Truths LGBT Kids Need to Hear from Homeschooling Parents. Fred's post, in turn, elicits a cordial, well-written challenge from a person named "whitechocolatelatte" which goes something like this:
Are you endorsing a tough love, aka abusive or bullying, response to LGBT children? We all know people will have theological disagreements, but the larger question is how to love those you care about most in the midst of those disagreements.
To interpret a hurt child’s longing for affection and understanding as an assault on your faith is not a gracious response on any level. If you want to weep in your closet and pray, be my guest, but when you interact with people you disagree with, especially if they are people who look up to you, what they need is acceptance of *their inherent worth,* regardless of their theological positions or lifestyle choices. (You would even agree with that, theologically, wouldn’t you — we are all made in the image of God?) If you develop a real relationship with people, and they see you have a life they would prefer, you’ll get questions, but running around throwing metaphysical stones like this is just bullying.
Getting up on your high horse is not going to convince anyone else to come down off of theirs.As such responses go, it's hard not to appreciate the relative graciousness of the questioner, and his/her attempt to make common-ground, from his/her -- oh, bother, his -- perspective.
But there it is. Really to get what he's saying, you have to preface it with the thought, "Assuming the Bible is a lie," or "Assuming God's word is insufficient and uncompelling," or "Assuming Jesus lied and is dead..."
Because what he does is simply sweep aside Scripture and the worldview it lays out. He calls Fred to assume with him that everyone's self-chosen path is equally valid (except the Christian one), and that the highest value is love-as-endorsement, and that the greatest crime is making people (except Christians) feel bad about their choices... and on that basis, calls Fred to come off it.
Which Fred, characteristically, does not.
That last is a constant feature, by the way. The assumption here is that Fred is the issue. He is on his "high horse." How could it be otherwise? We're all free to choose whatever we choose to believe; there is no external, compelling authority against whom it would be high moral treason to rebel. All there is is choice, our choice, our hearts, our feelings and values and judgment.
And so, sure: assuming that, then whatever you want, follows. Like "Assuming that saltwater is air, crossing the Atlantic is just like a really long walk." Right. Exactly. Assuming.
What I'm wanting to highlight is that this is not new. When were the words "Has God really said" spoken, in challenge to an unwelcome word from God? You know. And have you seen what Satan did there? Like Fred's commenter, he didn't try formally to deny everything at once. He didn't deny that there was a God. But he did deny that God was compelling, that God's word was binding and sufficient, that the only starting-point for thought was the word of God.
That was the whole game-plan, and it was executed very effectively. Simply move the game pieces to a different board and a different set of rules. Do that, and it's all over but the rolling of the credits.
Listen for that, in what is said to you; watch for it, in what you read. It's seldom stated formally, but it's there: "Assuming the Bible is under our judgment, assuming our judgment is supreme, and assuming that we are as gods, don't you think...?"
Once you see that, you see the bankruptcy of evidentialism as an apologetic. You see that granting that assumption is the whole game. You see that ultimately the only sufficient response can be, "But I don't assume that. And since you have no transcendent reason for doing so, I call you instead to assume that God's word is sufficient and compelling, that God alone is sufficient judge, and that Jesus was the truth, is the truth, and spoke the truth, and that He is alive and coming as Judge of the living and the dead. Assume that, and..."