Open to Criticism

In the last blog we quoted Michael Ward who asserts that true religion should be “. . .both self-critical and open to criticism from without, open to revision in the light of new knowledge and in response to new situations.” [1]  What situations should cause us to be self-critical and open to criticism about our religious beliefs?  One reason would be if there are contradictions within our belief system.  It would make sense to at least try to determine why these contradictions exist.

In this blog, we have identified three contradictions within the Christian doctrine of salvation.

  1. Our doctrine of salvation contains, in the worlds of the Christian philosopher David Elton Trueblood, “a contradiction at the heart of the system” [2] because a majority of people who have ever lived will be sent to hell for eternity even though they have never heard of Jesus. [3]  Yet God claims to be a God of love and justice.
  2. If we consider the fact that we are finite, we realize that being finite means we cannot obtain certain proof that Jesus died and rose again from the dead and yet God demands that we believe in these events if we want to go to heaven. And yet God claims to be a God of love and justice.
  3. We encounter passages in the Bible that teach salvation is through belief in God, our conduct, pattern of behavior, motivation, use of abilities, and repentance.  The Bible does not solely teach salvation is through belief in Jesus.  If we really believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, there must have been a reason he made these statements.

So why are not Christians addressing these questions; why do they continue to ignore them when they are raised?


[1]   Michael Ward, “A Time to Scatter Stones and a Time to Gather Stones Together”, Imprimis, July/August, 2017, Volume 46, Number 7/8, p. 3.

[2]   David Elton Trueblood, Philosophy of Religion, New York:  Harper & Row, 1957, pp. 221-222.

[3]   John Sanders, What About Those Who Have Never Heard?, Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 1995, p. 9.

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