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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Self-Immolation of Dawson Bethrick

I found a new toy.

That toy is Dawson Bethrick and, along with whatever other pursuits he enjoys, he maintains the Bahnsen Burner blog (a reference to the late Greg Bahnsen, Reformed Christian apologist), which serves as his platform from which he goes about "incinerating presuppositionalism"—at least that is how he describes his blog. Judging by the posts I had read, it seems he's still looking for a match.

His post "Can Reformed Christians Count?" (07-JUN-05) seems to be a fairly typical demonstration of the integrity of his arguments, and one I wanted to succinctly post a response to before heading to bed. Bethrick remarks that Reformed Christians
tell us that their one god is actually three in number. Then they say we're wrong when we point out that this belief of theirs amounts to a species of polytheism. So we ask: Do you worship one, or do you worship three? Typically, instead of clear answers, we get bad attitude, as if we were supposed to accept their tangled convolutions on their say so.
Yes we say that you are wrong on the charge of polytheism, and for a very good reason! If polytheism is defined as belief in and worship of a multiplicity of gods—and it is—then the charge is precisely false, for Christians believe in and worship God alone, who is one. Christianity does not teach that the one God "is actually three in number," if by that you mean three Gods. "Do you worship one, or do you worship three?" Bethrick wants to ask. There is only one response possible to this intellectually dishonest equivocation: "Do we worship one what, or three what?" Do we worship one God? Yes. Do we worship three Gods? No. Is God a person? No, God is three persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I suspect Bethrick's confusion stems from the idea that "God" implies "a person," yet such an idea fails to correspond with what Christianity affirms and proclaims. He might be tempted to accuse Christianity of affirming a logical contradiction on this point, but that would be the case if and only if Christianity affirmed God is a person and, at the same time and in the same sense, three persons. But this is not what Christianity affirms. And I should like to counter that if Bethrick persists in framing his response according to the idea that God is a person, despite an awareness that Christianity teaches that God is not a person but rather three persons, then his argument commits the Straw Man fallacy and is therefore bereft of both validity and intellectual integrity.