What struck me was how the response proposed was one-sided when doubts arise regarding Christianity. The first point, recommended focusing on the Resurrection, rather than minor issues such as inerrancy or evolution vs. creationism. (Curiously, this came across as a concession minor issues were a lost cause.) He states:
Therefore, from a purely intellectual standpoint, I would set down all other studies, including conversations with those who are representing another religion, books about atheism, or the destiny of the unevangelized. Just to focus on this central issue of Christianity. There is so much good stuff out there on this subject, but I would start here and graduate tohere and here . Listen or watch to the debates with William Lane Craig about the historicity of the resurrection.
(I was secretly pleased I guessed the books before clicking on the link. Habermas & Licona’s “Case for the Resurrection” then Licona’s “Historiography of Resurrection” and finally N.T. Wright’s “Resurrection of Jesus.”)
Notice what is missing from the list? Yeah…any skeptical books. Now I will grant you, there are not many non-theists writing on the Resurrection, but even a mention of “The Empty Tomb” or possible Loftus’ work, or Erhman’s concerns would have been interesting. What was more interesting was the suggestion to “set down” conversations “with those who are representing another religion.”
Why? Why, when doubting, must one only look to one side of the issue?
The third point Patton makes solidifies his intentions—he recommended “fellowshipping” (that’s Christianize for “socializing” or “relationshiping.”) He notes:
One normally becomes emotionally predisposed to those of their immediate fellowship. “Following the crowed” is a very effective means of being persuaded of the most unlikely beliefs. In fact, I have often said that if I hung around the flat-earth society members too long (and there is a flat earth society!), I may begin to doubt that the world is round. This is not because the arguments or evidence is persuasive, but simply because of implicit emotional control of belief that such constant fellowship affords.
I believe his concern is for Christians to begin assuming the beliefs of non-Christians because of emotional attachment. Ironically, the very action he fears is the very action he suggests the Christian engage—only hang around flat earth society….er….Christians…and one will become emotionally attached to the arguments one assumes.
I find it very telling skeptics not only encourage fellow skeptics to read non-theist literature, but ALSO theistic literature. I, too, would recommend Licona if one wants to study the Resurrection. I, too, would recommend non-believers engage with Christians, or “fellowship” with them. But I go farther and recommend one also engages and reads people holding to alternate views.
What would you think if I told you to ONLY read what non-theists write, or ONLY associate with non-theists? Does that sound like a person who is confident regarding the strength of their position or one who fears weaknesses would be exposed if someone dares inform themselves?