June 18, 2024

In this video, Dr. J shared some observations from his second conversation with Paulogia. Working off an outline, Dr. J glides through both Part 1 and 2, continuing the conversation and offering some clarification on the role of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. J:

Hey, Dr. J here, and I wanted to share a few observations, some reflections and thoughts I had on my second conversation with Paulogia. And for starters, let’s go over names. I did say Paulogia, yes this happened to me before, I think last spring. It’s Paulogia, so I apologize, Paul, for that. Paulogia, I’ll work on that in the future.

For those who are wondering why I call myself Dr. J, it’s because J A R O S sometimes is not the easiest to remember how to say. For J A R O S, I’ve gotten all sorts of Ways of saying my last name. So, Dr. J is nice and easy, short and sweet. So yeah, some of your, the commenters over at part two of the conversation were wondering about that.

Alright, so that’s out of the way. The first observation I had about the conversation with Paul was that it was very much a down to earth discussion. And it was great to hear from him, to learn more about him, his thoughts, beliefs, where he’s coming from. His, you know, rationale for the positions that he holds to even some of his prior theological beliefs and his upbringing sort of came out a little bit in that conversation.

I’ll review some of those things, just things that stuck out to me. And I do want to let you know ahead of time, I’ll be seeking to clarify some things I said particularly about the Holy Spirit and the Parable of the Sower. Those two things were in part two on Paul’s live channel. But I’ve got an outline here, so I’ll work on that.

So let’s first start with part one. So Paul’s interest in affirmation of the argument of divine hiddenness, for those who watched part one, it’s very personal for him. It’s part of his journey from deconversion which first began with rejecting young earth creationism, then the doctrine of inerrancy, and then finally Reliability, biblical reliability, and then ultimately it led to belief in the rejection of belief in God altogether.

And so this is really a a journey that he has gone on, and so it’s not just something he Woke up to one day. I’ve spoken with people who have said that They just sort of stopped believing God exists almost overnight But for Paul, he’s clearly wrestled with these subjects thought about these issues.

He clearly knows his Bible He really was a devoted Christian that became apparent to me And so, I do want to say that, you know, it’s great to hear people’s journey, and I think Christians could improve on being good listeners and if we’re not good listeners, We’re not going to understand people, where they come from, and really what is the issue that they might be thinking about.

We might come in thinking, oh, we know it’s this, we know it’s that, but they’re saying, no, it’s this, it’s this, so we need to listen to people. So for me, this is a very good exercise in listening to Paul and, again, learning more about his journey. Paul thinks that a Christian or theist will never understand why the argument from divine hiddenness is a good argument, because God’s not hidden to them, he says.

And so I was thinking about this some more, and I thought, well What if we could use another analogy? We got into an analogy in that part one video. What about an analogy of a blind person? So a blind person cannot see color. And it’s through no fault of their own. Well, maybe it is, depending on how the person was blind.

How about being born blind? Through no fault of their own, the person says they can’t see color. In fact, to them, there is no evidence of color, of the existence of color. So, would this person, in this analogy, I’m curious to those viewers who are following along, and maybe even Paul yourself if you’re watching, would a blind person in this analogy be considered a non resistant, non believer?

So I’m just curious here, it’s through no fault of their own is that a non resistant? Non believer if the person cannot if the blind person cannot see color even though the rest of us can see color How does that analogy fit with the discussion? I’d be curious about your thoughts in the comments Looking at the Hebrews warning passage person.

We brought this up. This person is someone who is enlightened And so Paul said that they would be part of the resistant non believers because they have been enlightened and they reject the truth, they leave the faith, so they are part of the resistant category. But I’m curious, I was thinking more about this.

Suppose that the person did receive an experience or whatever that might mean. An experience. You know, even Paul mentions that a person’s subconscious maybe, could be resisting, but does that make the individual culpable? And sort of, you know, he implies that it wouldn’t, even if the subconscious were resisting.

But think about someone who genuinely tries to rationalize out the experience. So let me give you an example, in some of the conversations on divine hiddeness, sometimes people say well, maybe God could just write in the clouds, I am here, and that would be evidence, you know, of, of, of God’s existence.

Something like that. But there could be a way of rationalizing that away, in the sense that, well, you might just think it was someone in a plane who went through and, you know, wrote out the words using the plane, and however all that works. So there’s a way of rationalizing the experience. So maybe the person from Hebrews, the Hebrews warning passages, you know, that type of person would be a a non resistant because they’re, they’re trying to genuinely rationalize their way out of the experience that they had.

So, I think that maybe could be another case of, is this person culpable? Of course, there’s a warning here not, not to do this because there’s no atonement left for them if they do it. Paul does mention this sort of, it was one of the scarier verses when he was a Christian. One commenter claimed that my analogy of Paul’s crush on Jennifer Connelly would constitute stalking because Paul would provide her gifts, more lawn, etc.

Stalking is not what would be happening in the analogy. There is a concept in, in the romantic relationship game called wooing and wooing is when you try to earn or gain the love and affection of someone. So we don’t have to think that if you’re going to try to woo someone even take it slow with the wooing, like maybe you’ll send someone flowers, right?

They’ve got a a mysterious admirer. That doesn’t constitute as stalking. And I think some of the difference there is whether the affection is wanted or unwanted. By the way, YouTube commenters, It’s great because we get to interact with people with their comments, but sometimes things, comments can go off the rails.

But thank you for your comments. Paul noted that our thought experiment led to my mentioning of the greatest weakness of the argument from Divine Hiddenness, which was the concept of timing. Timing plays into this variable that you know, looking at the first premise of the argument that if loving God exists.

That there will be no non resistant non believers. As Paul mentions, yet. Yet. Well, what if we could conceive of a way, a system where God will reveal himself to all people. And so we, our discussion went into post mortem opportunities and considering that as a possible model of Christianity. But I wish, reflecting back, I wish I had clarified that post mortem opportunities were not the only option available to the Christian theist.

So here we might conceive of a model of divine providence where God has plans to reveal himself in a special way to some people at different points in their life. So it’s possible that some non res, that some currently non resistant non believers are yet to experience God. In some palpable way. And that it’s part of God’s plan that later in their life, before they die, there will be some experience.

In our discussion, I had brought up infants as a point of looking at non resistant non believers. I mean, infants in the womb can’t even form beliefs. Infants themselves are non resistant non believers. And so when they enter the world, when is it that they form that belief about the creator God or eventually Christian theism if they end up assenting to that position?

So there is, you can see here, even in God’s providential timing, There is a separation between not having information, and not having that belief, and further information, and a decision being made, and whether there is an assent or rejection of the claim being placed before the individual. I know this can get a little technical, but the point I want to say is that perhaps it’s the case that someone might live 40 years of their life, and then something happens.

To them, it is a palpable experience of the divine. Prior thereto, they might have the position, Well, I’m open, but I don’t believe. And so, it takes some experience later on. Now, my own view is that I think there is evidence of God all around us, then leads to the question, you know, well, why is it that there are some people who don’t see that evidence?

So then that could just get into a discussion about the evidence itself. At about 43 minutes in part one, Paul seeks some clarity about how the analogy makes sense. And I wasn’t as clear as I should have been. In this scenario, in the lawnmower analogy, Paul believes he would not stand a successful chance at wooing Jennifer unless certain criteria were met.

Likewise, God knows some people would reject him, unless certain states of affairs were to be met for that person. So in this analogy, which someone wrote was a terrible analogy. Right, you’ve got a, a person who mows the lawn because they admire Jennifer Connelly, but they don’t know, she doesn’t know he exists, so Paul’s the lawnmower.

Okay, fun analogy, came up with it on the fly. The point is this, that God would be the lawnmower, in the analogy. God’s trying to woo people to him. But, he also knows Jennifer Connelly might not accept the affection and love unless certain states of affairs were to exist. So, that’s all I mean when I say that there’s, there’s ground prep work to do.

Pun intended, long known. Ground prep work to do to cultivate a healthy, loving relationship with people. We also see this in the scriptures. We see God place conditional circumstances. For example, in the prophets, in Jeremiah, you see this. You see God looking to future tense circumstances to decide what to do.

And so, it’s not a concept that’s totally foreign to the way we see the God of the Bible interacting with humans. Paul made some interesting admissions maybe concessions some reflections himself in the discussion toward the end of part one. Because this issue of divine hiddenness is so personal to him, he even noted that it’s a personal thing, and that the argument itself, you know, Probably may not convince people and so it just depends on the person.

I did catch something he said. He said, I am definitely atheistic towards some proposals for God, and more agnostic about others. And I think Christianity is still one of those that I’m open to. I definitely feel like I’m atheistic towards some, again, we, we were gonna talk about Christianity, but I’m definitely atheistic towards some proposals for God, and, and more agnostic about others.

And I think Christianity is one of those ones that I’m still open to. I’d love clarification from Paul. Again, my apologies, Paul. I don’t have time to watch everything out there. Maybe this would be the subject of our next discussion. What types or forms of Christianity would you be open to? And maybe even if you wanted to do a video response.

Here to my, my observations. I’d welcome your, your observations as well. So I’d be curious to know what types and forms of Christianity do you find yourself open to? That could be a whole spectrum, a variety of types. And so it could be a fascinating conversation just on that subject alone. Shifting over to part two, which is a video over at Paulogia live channel.

There we talked about the role of the Holy Spirit and there was a statement that I said Which could be taken out of context. So I want to talk about it. The context was a discussion on the Alleged inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Now, what is that? Well discussions about the inner witness of the Holy Spirit pertain to The claim that we can know Christianity is true, K N O W, we can know Christianity is true through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

Now this is a claim that William Lane Craig has made, his name was brought up a few times, and others embrace this concept. I am skeptical of this concept. As a Christian theologian, I’m skeptical of this concept. I don’t think it can be found in the scriptures. In fact, it’s far more closer to a Mormon concept.

So this is part of the formal teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, in their Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 9, verse 8. The Lord will cause the feeling of security and truth to take hold of the individual and burn within the bosom. And there will be an overwhelming feeling that the thing is right.

My own view is that I do not believe the Holy Spirit is necessary for belief that Christianity is true. I don’t think a work of super added grace by the Holy Spirit is required to form the belief Jesus is Lord or that God exists. Now I do Think that the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation the claim which could be taken out of concept was I did say the sentence The Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation.

That’s the sentence I said. But that sentence is in a context, okay, about the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. So that was the point of discussion regarding intellectual assent. So can an individual form the propositional belief, Jesus is Lord, and place their faith In Christ, pledge their allegiance to Christ, based on the evidence.

This is in the context of tweets Paul put out. Based on the evidence. And does that require the Holy Spirit for a person to do that? My own position is no. And I know that there are many Protestants that will disagree with me on this, regarding their differences of soteriology, the study of salvation. But I don’t think the scripture teaches that, rather what I see is that the scripture teaches the Holy Spirit indwells someone after accepting the Gospel message.

Now I know that there are Bible verses talking about the role of the Spirit in the salvation process, so I believe the Holy Spirit is necessary. And Paul and I even discuss, you know, issues of providence, for example which the Holy Spirit may be doing. May not be doing depends, could be the second person could be Jesus, for example, Paul and I talked about Jesus appearing to people.

For those who watched the conversation, you can see how I nuanced my position. And so I just don’t want folks to take that out of context. And some of the commenters on Paul Ogielive channel sort of say, Oh, well that soundbite, you know. So just listen to the whole conversation. And just for clarity’s sake, I do believe the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation with regard to various aspects, including divine providence, the rebirth, glorification, etc.

And so some of those concepts were even discussed in the conversation. Paul made an interesting remark about one of those polls we discussed. He said, What was interesting to me The reason why I put that poll out there is because the type of Christian I was would not have entertained this notion that you just put forth that the Holy Spirit wasn’t necessary for intellectual ascent.

The type of Christian that I was would have not entertained this notion that you just put forth that the Holy Spirit wasn’t necessary. You know, my thoughts on this are that I do find many people can leave the Christian faith without having explored Other options that may be available to them. I’m not saying this is what happened with Paul, but some people haven’t learned about different models of divine providence, different theodicies that exist in the Christian literature, and some people might be quick to leave the Christian faith altogether simply because the Christian faith of their parents is one that they didn’t find appealing or they couldn’t, in good conscience, accept.

You know, that makes me a little bit sad because I love reading Christian literature Christian theological literature, learning about the Christian tradition and, you know, I wish some folks maybe, before giving up the Christian faith altogether, Would do further exploration and so in this case.

Yeah, Paul’s just saying when he was a Christian He wouldn’t have even thought about the position I hold And it just makes me think, well, maybe things would have turned out differently if he had. I’m not saying my view is right, but you know, I’m trying to do the best I can. One of the benefits to this conversation with Paul, and I think others saw this, was that you can see we’re all, in some ways, we’re all in this together.

We’re trying to explore truth and discover truth. So yeah, we’re doing the best we can. I was stumbling around talking about how, even as a Christian, I don’t understand the words. That other Christians mean sometimes. And I couldn’t think of the word for that. The word is jargon. There’s Christian jargon that exists out there.

Even as a Christian, I struggle to understand what people mean. So, I might be confused. Because I don’t know what someone means when they talk about their relationship with God in a certain way. Now, if you’re an atheist and you’re watching this video, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. So if you hear a Christian talk about what God’s doing in their life and this and that, it can be confusing.

It’s confusing even for me. And so I try to think about it and think about what people might mean, at least so I can understand them, even if I disagree with them. How they’ve interpreted what has happened. You’re not alone. There are other people who are confused with you. And over the years I’ve come to think more about the jargon and how to understand the jargon.

So it’s helped me to better love Christians because I think I know more today about what they intended to convey. I know linguistics can be confusing. The parable of Jesus. This is one that got some commenters on Paul’s channel typing quite a bit. Here we were talking about the soil the seed, what does the seed represent.

There was one thing Paul said, when you evangelize, you’re not planting faith, you’re planting the message. Maybe I was a little hasty in my agreement with him because I think one could say that one is planting faith through the proclamation of the message. So it’s, it’s not necessarily an either or.

It’s a, it’s a both and. Now, the explanation of the sower. So yes looking at Mark’s version of the parable of the sower, Mark chapter 4, compared to say, Matthew 13. In Mark 4, we do have Jesus explicitly saying that the sower sows the word. So it is the message. But, I still do want to contend that it’s a tricky parable.

And, and here’s why. When you look at Either Mark 4 or Matthew 13, you can see Jesus identifying the seed or the plant with the person, not the soil. So the soil doesn’t fall away, the soil doesn’t choke, but it’s the plant itself. Jesus does sort of show that the, the message or the word is the seed, but out of the seed grows the person.

And so the plant is the person. In the other examples, when I say the other examples, I mean the second, third, and fourth types of seed. Now the issue of the conversation with Paul was that first type of seed. Someone who doesn’t accept the gospel. What about this person? And so for Paul, I think he was thinking about this in terms of the, the soil.

Because the soil’s not culpable. Looking at the explanation, Jesus only says that the person doesn’t understand. That’s all that Jesus says. So consider Mark 4, starting at verse 13. And he said to them, Do you not understand this parable? How, then, will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word.

And these are the ones along the path where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. So that’s interesting, because in Mark’s version of the parable, chapter 4, verse 14, it’s Satan who comes and takes it away. But in Matthew 13, here the parable of the sower, when anyone Here is the word of the kingdom and does not understand it.

The evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. In Mark’s version we don’t have and does not understand it, but in Matthew 13 we do. So that’s an interesting difference, it doesn’t mean they are logically incompatible. But here Matthew 13 tells us it’s the person who doesn’t understand.

I, I think that’s interesting, and when we think about the problem of divine hiddenness, what does it mean that the person doesn’t understand? Does it mean that they’re not capable of understanding? Does it mean they’re willfully not understanding? The parable doesn’t say. And so, that’s why these issues are Complicated.

And again, even the parable itself continues later on to identify the seed with the plant with the person. So, for example, Matthew 13, 22 is what was sown among thorns. This is the one who hears the word, but cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Consider the rocky ground here. This is the one who hears the word. So it’s a person who hears the word. And immediately receives it with joy. Yet he has no root in himself. He has no root in himself. It’s a person, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

One of the things Paul and I didn’t do was, we didn’t whip out our Bibles and look at it together. I mean, he sort of joked, hey, we’re doing a Bible study. It’s interesting to think about, in Mark’s version, it’s explicit that the seed is the word. But then when the seed germinates, it becomes a person. You see how the people turn out differently.

And what appeals to the plant? The cares of the world? Is it thorns, external factors? Or is it someone who grows and prospers, right? Good, good soil leads to fruit. You also see here the choices of the agents. The choices of the plants, if you will. Leads to different end results. So it’s also not merely not merely our contextual circumstances, but the choices we make as well.

All this to say, it’s complicated, and it’s maybe a little harder than folks realize. Sometimes the text of scripture is clear, other times it’s trickier to understand. The parables of Jesus, even Paul mentioned, are multi layered. The disciples themselves needed to seek clarity. So even with this clarification, maybe we would have asked Jesus a follow up question about what was meant.

Looking back I feel like I had a genuine conversation with someone who’s not a Christian, and I, this is the second time I did it, and I really would love to do it again. Discussing with Paul. I think it’s a great way of building civil, cordial conversation between other people. But it’s, in many respects, it’s more than that as well.

It’s listening to people, learning from them, learning things myself. And it’s good to be challenged in our beliefs. And like I said earlier, we’re all exploring truth together. Some of the ways that Christian, Christians have acted, they try to play gotcha, you know, and some of the commenters have kind of made remarks about this, Christian apologists doing this sort of game.

I’m not interested in that sort of game of, of gotcha. I think exploring truth together and walking alongside each other is a better, better method. And for my own purposes, why would I do something like this? Well, again, I wanted to. Reach out to Paul, to have a second conversation, to explore some things he had posted online for us to go further into what we previously talked about.

But also to show that as a Christian, we can be thoughtful people. I think there is a case for a rational Christianity, a reasonable Christianity. And it doesn’t always have to be the version that William Lane Craig holds, or some other philosopher, there are different models out there. I want to invite people to consider, I want to invite you to consider the possible reasonableness of Christianity, the rationality of faith, and that there are intelligent people on both sides but to consider the evidence, and that, as I would hold, that the evidence suggests that Jesus is Lord.

There might be implications for what that means in our lives. It might mean we have to stop acting a certain way. Stop looking at things we shouldn’t look at. Stop thinking about things that we shouldn’t be thinking about. Stop spending our money in a certain way that pleases us. There are implications.

And I think more times than not, it’s the way of life that we like affects the way we think about things. It requires us to just be honest with ourselves. And in some ways to learn about how we might not be being honest with ourselves, right? We sort of talked about horizons or biases. Maybe we’re not even aware.

And so there’s opportunities for self reflection. And so I just want to encourage you to think about the Christian worldview, to consider the claims it makes, and whether it is reasonable or unreasonable. And if you have questions about that, feel free to reach out to me. You can go to my website, veracityhill.com

There’s a contact form. I’d love to get in touch with you and to have a discussion with you, answer your questions about the Christian faith. Well, thanks for watching this observation video just outlining some of the things I was thinking about and reflecting on from my conversation with Paula Gia.

And Paul, I’ll be sure to say Paulogia moving forward thanks for your mercy and grace with my mispronunciation. And again, if you guys have questions, feel free to reach out. I’d love your comments about even this video. Did I say something else that piqued your interest? Is there something you think I’m off my rocker on?

I’d welcome a discussion, whether you are a non Christian or a Christian.

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Mark Lester

Mark Lester is a Media Associate at Defenders Media, 501c3 and contributes to the work of Dr. J through Veracity Hill.

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