Greg’s on a timer and answers questions about truth in other religions, yoga, and God’s character.
- If all truth is God’s truth, then shouldn’t Christians embrace truth in other religions that doesn’t contradict the Bible?
- Is doing yoga as a set of stretches okay rather than the traditional practice involving chants?
- How do you respond when one says they can’t accept Hell, Canaanite judgement, etc. because of their understanding of God’s character?
Melinda: Hi there. This is Melinda, the Enforcer. This is #STRask, and I’m here with Greg Koukl, who in our tiny little studio, sat down shoulder to shoulder next to me and then informed me that he has a cold. Thank you very much, try to keep your germs over there.
Greg: Well I am not gonna kiss you.
Melinda: Well no but you’re like a foot away from me.
Greg: Well it doesn’t jump like cooties can launch across the chasm.
Melinda: The way you talk it does.
Melinda: You project.
Greg: I’m not projecting right at you. Anyway there’s a microphone in the way. You’re probably going to be safe.
Melinda: I sure hope so.
Greg: Yes I have a little crackly thing going on in my voice, I have a bad sore throat.
Melinda: The first I noticed it all day.
Greg: Coughing up nasties and ...
Melinda: Okay thank you. That’s enough. So this is the short podcast. You send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask, we retrieve them.
Greg: Excuse me. All right.
Melinda: All the times I had a cold I never was this bad about it. You just ... men. So, send us your questions on twitter, I retrieve them, and Greg has four minutes – sick or not – to answer them. So let’s jump in answering the questions.
Melinda: Yes. First question comes from on Twitter. If all truth is God’s truth, then shouldn’t Christians embrace truth that doesn’t contradict the Bible in other religions?
Greg: I’m pausing only because it strikes me that the answer is obviously yes, and it’s so obvious to me that I’m wondering if I’m missing something in the question.
Melinda: No, I think a lot of Christians ...
Greg: If the thing’s actually true, then whatever thing that’s true that is a fact of the world, then God himself believes it because God’s omniscience entails the notion that he knows and believes all true facts, okay? And so if some other religion has a fact in it, well then God believes it to be so and if God believes it to be so there’s nothing wrong with us believing it to be so. The fact is there’s lots of particulars of other religions that may be entirely true as far as they go as they fit into a web, so to speak, of beliefs ...
Melinda: Of course, we don’t believe it just because that religion said ... we believe it because we know it to be true already.
Greg: No, no, not at all, but the stipulation here in the question is that the thing is so, so if – look, if Islam teaches that there’s only one true God, and there is only one true God, even if it isn’t the God that Islam thinks it is, on that particular point, the teaching of monotheism, it speaks correctly. Does God believe that there’s only one true God? Yes, because there is. And so therefore Islam is correct on that point. And in The Story of Reality, I talked about this, that we have to think about world views, taken as a whole they are incommensurable. That is, one worldview is incommensurable with a different worldview when taken as a whole, even though there maybe be points at which those worldviews share common facts. Okay?
Melinda: And since we’re all created by God in his image, and fallen short though… I mean, we would expect that there are non-biblical sources that would have truth because you know, we all have access to the world.
Greg: That’s right, there are arguably billions of facts about the world conceivable that, like, here water is H20. That’s a fact about the world you don’t need the Bible for; the Bible’s not going to teach you that, but that is a fact about the world. And given what we mean by the phrase H20, God believes that fact just as much as scientists believe it, I think that’s the point. All genuine truth is God’s truth. That is another way of saying if there is something that is a fact, then God acknowledges it’s a fact just as much as anybody else would, okay? Which means we don’t have to be afraid of the facts. Now what things are facts, and what these things mean, well this is a matter of contention and this is what we have to be careful about, but this is true not only with – in a certain sense – natural revelation, but also biblical revelation as well.
That both revelations need to be interpreted and they need to be interpreted accurately in order for them to be called facts simply put. And that’s where a lot of the difference comes between not only religions but also say science and claims that Christianity makes about the nature of the world. That it’s not always so much the facts themselves, but what the facts are pressed into service to do, and so there, we just have to have our thinking caps on when we’re dealing with it. But simply put, “all truth is God’s truth” is a truism. In fact, God believes that one too.
Melinda: Okay I want to go back to something because, I know, some people’s minds, questions gonna be raised, so you brought up the point that if Islam teaches there’s one true God and there is one true God, then I mean that’s true obviously.
Greg: Then they’re correct on that point.
Melinda: Okay yes, however this is the question I think is gonna pop into some people’s mind, do you think, and I know the answer just quickly answer this, do you think the God of Islam is the same as the God of the bible?
Greg: No. No. And that’s why I added the qualifier even if they’re wrong about who that God is, on the bare claim that there is one God that is something we can agree with.
Melinda: Right. All right, next question.
Greg: And incidentally, just from a tactical perspective I think it’s important for us to agree with people on every place we can when there’s a larger issue that we disagree on. That indicates we’re fair-minded and we are fair-minded if we do that, and it softens the conversation considerably.
Melinda: Next question. Is doing yoga as a set of stretches okay rather than the traditional practice involving chants?
Greg: Well I think so, by and large. There may be some exceptions to this, but I used to do a stretch for a long time for my back ...
Melinda: Downward dog?
Greg: I can’t remember what it’s called ...
Greg: But ... cobra, yeah, maybe that was it. But which, generally speaking, is a good stretch. I didn’t even know it was incorporated into yoga until sometime later. You can stretch your back and it may be that yoga has co-opted some of these stretches and kind of integrated them into a spiritual system. I don’t think there’s a problem with doing the stretches themselves. Now there are, as I recall, I remember Craig Hawkins, who I worked with for many years, many years ago when I worked at KBRT from Southern California broadcasting. Craig was a specialist in this area and he was also into martial arts, but as I recall he seemed to indicate – and I don’t want to mischaracterize him, but it’s just something to think about that there are some forms of these things that it’s hard to participate in without being complicit in the spiritual things that are behind them. So I don’t know where that line is to be drawn, actually, but just something to be aware of.
Melinda: I don’t know exactly what Craig was referring to, but I’ve done yoga on and off and there are plenty of apps and plenty of DVD’s out there that really just treat it as stretches and routines, like aerobics or anything else. There are others where they’re guiding you in more, you can just tell there’s more going on where they’re getting you to focus and meditate on certain things or whatever. I have barely even touched on those but there’s a couple of those things I’ve discovered. It’s like, okay, I’m not using this one. So, where it’s just merely stretches, I don’t even care frankly if they say namaste at the very end cause that’s like the only thing. But you know, I don’t think just like doing the physical activity involves you in anything particularly spiritual.
Greg: I’m trying to picture you sitting there with your legs all woven in together and you’ve kind of got your fingertips together ...
Greg: No you didn’t do that one?
Greg: What is that one called?
Greg: Oh okay. That’s the woven leg thing.
Melinda: Well sitting Indian style?
Greg: You can’t say Indian style in this program.
Melinda: Sitting Native American style?
Greg: Well isn’t that ... so Native Americans have a way of sitting. So what do you call that? A stereotype, right?
Melinda: Well, it just refers to a style of sitting.
Greg: Just thinking, I just have this picture in mind, okay?
Melinda: No I’ve never once sat like that and I’ve never seen an exercise routine in yoga have you sit like that, so. Anyways.
Greg: I saw it in a statue once.
Melinda: Just like we talk, I think, with Halloween, merely dressing up and asking for candy does not make you ...
Melinda: Complicit in evil spiritual things.
Greg: Right, and now we know it is the occult that hijacked Halloween, it’s spiritual foundation, and not that Christian people are trying to redefine Halloween. The good guys came first in that one, which is kind of… that’s another story, but we’ll have to talk about it in November.
Greg: Is that one Halloween?
Melinda: November, October.
Greg: All right.
Melinda: Yeah, you’re recording an interview this afternoon coming up about reformation. It’s the same day.
Greg: October 31st, that’s your birthday, that’s reformation day. Right.
Melinda: So I’ve always kind of enjoyed ...
Greg: It’s only a triple holiday for you.
Melinda: Well that’s fine. That’s all I said. Well you can, it’s a triple holiday for you, you celebrate my birthday.
Greg: That’s under duress.
Melinda: So I’ll take a second here and get back to a question. Just want to talk about some upcoming speaking events. We’ve got the rethink student conference coming up in Orange County September 22nd, September 23rd. You want to say anything?
Greg: Well we’ve got close to 700 people that have already signed up for that, which is really exciting and there’s only, by the way, there’s only 2000 slots, we say there’s 2000 slots because there’s 2000 seats over at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and we pushed close to 800 ...
Greg: 1800, sorry, thank you. And if our growth trajectory continues, we are going to fill it up.
Melinda: We’ll have to close it off.
Greg: So that means do not wait for the last minute and do not expect, I mean, I’m just saying here don’t expect that if you show up at the door you’re going to be able to get in because we may not be able to let you in. You’ve got, if you want to play it safe, then just be sure to sign up in advance and as far in advance as possible.
Melinda: So just go to our website, there’s a banner on the home page but goes to rethinkapologetics.com.
Greg: That’s rethink September 22nd, 23rd.
Melinda: And then Greg in August is speaking in Gilroy, California on the 6th, on the 3rd ...
Greg: This is my 3rd decade speaking with that wonderful church in the Summer apologetic series.
Melinda: See here we go again. Making things ...
Greg: It is. I’m in the third decade. I’ve already done two decades, they gave me a plaque last year.
Melinda: You didn’t go last year.
Greg: I did too.
Melinda: You’re so making all this up. No you didn’t go last year because you had the cruise.
Greg: The cruise. The last time I was in Gilroy they gave me a plaque to celebrate two decades, okay? You’re straining it, you’re swallowing a camel.
Melinda: Yes, I was.
Greg: All right, okay.
Melinda: Because they were so disappointed they didn’t have you last year that they contacted me well over a year ago to make sure they could have you this year.
Greg: Right. So this is the beginning of my third decade which is a completely ... God even believes that truth because all truth is God’s truth.
Melinda: August 13th, you’re speaking in Grapevine, Texas.
Melinda: At 121 Community church. You don’t even remember these things, are you saying that you know this stuff?
Greg: I’m going to be doing something with Watermark Church too with a staff.
Melinda: Yes, you are. By phone.
Greg: So I’m really looking forward to all of that.
Melinda: And then on the 20th of August he’s going to be speaking at Hawthorne Gospel Church at Hawthorne, New Jersey.
Greg: And then there’s always October 31st.
Melinda: The triple holiday.
Greg: Which is your birthday.
Greg: I’ll be gone.
Melinda: Okay. Are you this year? Not that it matters.
Greg: I’m planning on it.
Melinda: It’s a Tuesday this year, it’s staff meeting and we’ll be here recording.
Greg: I’ll leave early.
Melinda: Next question, the last question, comes from BaldMonkey94. How do you respond when one says they can’t accept hell, Canaanite judgment, etc. because of their understanding ... because it impends God’s character?
Greg: Well I had somebody raise this last week and I asked them – it’s not meant to be glib, but it is a fair question – by what standard are you using to judge God as being immoral in this case? That was one part of the question, all right? And they had no answer for me. They just believe that if we can’t do it, then God can’t do it. And I asked this person, do you think that children – I should say – that parents have the same moral restraints on them as children have on them? And he said no, and I said – and of course, I’m making the point that some offices, so to speak, are not constrained by the same obligations that other circumstances are.
And in this particular case, the complaint is, well, God’s killing all these people. And it’s wrong for us to kill people, but why isn’t it wrong for God to kill people? He’s trying to apply the same standard, and here, I think, the difference in roles or positions or, you know, the role they play makes a difference here. Because in the case of human beings, we have a limited ability to do things morally because of the role that we have. But God has a different occupation; God is God. Notice how some people will argue against capital punishment. They’ll say it’s wrong to take another human life because human beings shouldn’t play God. Okay, I don’t actually think that this is a sound way of arguing against capital punishment. I have my reasons why it’s not a sound argument against capital punishment, but I want you to just see the intuition that is expressing itself there.
The intuition is that God has prerogatives in virtue of being God that human beings don’t have. One of them is, is that human beings shouldn’t have the prerogative that belongs to God alone, which is to take life. And my response is, I think there is a difference in prerogatives and maybe humans shouldn’t be playing God, but can’t God play God? In other words, can’t God do the things that are rightfully within his purview, and the answer is yes, of course. And one of those is taking life. He gives life, he can take it.
I do not think, personally, I do not think that God needs any morally sufficient reason beyond the fact that he’s God to take a human life. It belongs to him, he made it as his. Turns out in the cases that you identified, Melinda, he does have more morally sufficient reasons to have acted in the case of the Canaanites, say the flood, a judgment upon wickedness. And it strikes me that God of all creation is obliged to do justice on the earth, and those were examples of justice. So if a person is gonna raise this kind of complaint, I think for one they’re gonna find themselves with feet firmly planted in mid-air. Because they’re going to have a hard time gathering up a foundation for a moral rule that they’re going to be able to use against God’s behavior. The argument that well, we’re not allowed to do it, so God shouldn’t be able to do it, strikes me as just obviously false because God is in a different occupation than we are.
Some things that are not our prerogative turn out to be God’s prerogative, and I think that’s a pretty fair assessment, especially when it comes to taking human life.
Melinda: Good, just before we end I just want to mention, if some of you, many of you are surprised by Greg’s comment a little bit ago that Halloween does not originate from the occult, go to ...
Greg: The other way around.
Melinda: Celebratingholidays.com Angie Musteller, she’s also got a great book. She’s got a lot of information about the history of holidays and stuff. And ideas for celebrating many of them, not just Halloween. So ...
Greg: Also there’s a note on there about Melinda’s birthday too you can find on there ...
Melinda: Not on her website, no. So that’s it for this episode. Send us your questions on Twitter using # STRask. We get around usually to all of them, now that Greg’s back probably within a few weeks or so every once in a while, I toss one out just because it can’t really do it justice in four minutes or less so.
Greg: Plus I don’t know the answer.
Melinda: There’s that too. You can always call Greg on Tuesday afternoons, 4 to 6 PM Pacific time, and talk to him and have a conversation that way. So, I’m Melinda the Enforcer with Greg Koukl for Stand to Reason.