A Self defeating statement

John Lennox has some issues with Hawkins book “The grand design”.

One quote stood out for me:

“What science cannot tell us mankind cannot know.” Bertram Rustle.

But that is not a scientific sentence says Lennox. Very true.

I am reminded of another self defeating statement. In the back story of the game Assasin’s creed, Hassan-i Sabbah, who supposedly lead the Assassin Order in the 11th century, came up with the phrase “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”. It’s a slogan that seems to offer a key to wonderful freedoms. The problem of course that it is a phantom, a mirage. If the statement is true then nothing is true and the statement is false. It is self defeating. The conclusion “everything is permitted” may or may not be true but we certainly cannot get it from the premise “nothing is true”. The door to do what we like without moral restraint remains firmly shut to us.

The apostle Paul knew that people like to try to pry open this Pandora’s box ever now and then. In this case it was with the “grace” key. When he wrote to the church in Rome raising the question:

“shall we keep on sinning so that grace may abound?”

In other words, given that God is glorified when he forgives us, why not keep on doing things that are wrong to give God more opportunities to look good in his forgiving. Paul’s  answer was “by no means!”. When we trusted in Jesus we died to sin. We realised it is not good for us. That doing things God’s way is the best way for us and all other ways damage us. In another context he says “everything is permissible.” he says but “Not everything is beneficial.”  Far from glorifying God when a follower of Jesus persists in sin, it kind of calls into question the effectiveness of Jesus’ salvation. If he died to rescue us from sin why are we still wallowing in it and being damaged by it rather than wading out of it and bring freed from it?

The gospel itself would be self defeating if it only produced people who are evidently not being saved.



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