Definition: strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles:
Often a major objection to Christianity by secular humanists is that it is too dogmatic. Another observation (usually stated with a bit of annoyance) is that we believe we have an infallible starting point which is finally authoritative, namely, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. When the Bible is cited as the authority or foundation for some belief it is usually met with an intense wagging of the head with the words “Fundamentalist!” said between clenched teeth in a less-than-loving tone (This is particularly ironic since the accusation of being unloving frequently follows). Usually some invective is thrown in the mix, which I will not quote for the sake of decency. Suffice it to say they do not appear to be happy individuals in the discussion.
What I find ironic is the hypocrisy. The secular humanists are fundamentalists! They have a doctrine of infallibility just like the Christian to which they appeal dogmatically. A retort might be that humanists generally view things as relative and that therefore my assertion is ill founded. However, in order to make any judgment on truth-value, one must have an objective framework to operate from. If according to humanism, morality and value are social conventions and are relative, no charge of absurdity or falsity can be attributed to the Bible, nor to anything for that matter, because their is no standard in which to contrast truth from error — rational from absurd. Seeing as humanists do make such truth claims, they have a doctrine of infallibility which they dogmatically appeal to.
So what is it?
- Infallibility is an inescapable concept
If the humanist objects to dogmatic appeal of the Christian to the infallible nature of the Bible, it must be based on a prior acceptance of a rival doctrine of infallibility. Let’s produce the opposing views of infallibility to prove the point:
The alleged infallible starting point for many folks is the voice of the majority and is captured in the words of Pythagoras, “Vox Popula, Vox Dei” or “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. In this view the majority can infallibly dictate things like societal policy, ethics, economics, law and morality. This could very well be called the most popular view today.
This starting point is not usually stated to be infallible, but implicitly it has a doctrine of infallibility. It is seen in the fact that is believes that the mind of man can find infallibly fixed laws that govern the universe, colloquially called “natures laws” conceived as both moral and physical. A short summation of this view would be: What is is infallibly right.
This view has a few variations like the divine right of kings, Marxism or even the Roman catholic church. Philosopher-kings is an ancient concept that thought that only the philosophers were fit to rule because they were the only ones who could rule competently and infallibly since all others were too ignorant and therefore fallible. For men like Plato, who advocated the view, sin and error was always the result of ignorance.
There are more views, but this will suffice. The basic premise is, in the words of theologian Rousas J. Rushdoony, “if the infallibility of Scripture is denied, it is denied only in order to ascribe infallibility to nature, to man, or to some other aspect of institution of man.”
2. What are the necessary preconditions for infallibility?
- Total self-consciousness
In order for someone or some institution to be infallible, they must have no hidden potentialities within themselves. But man does not have this. He is not totally self-conscious for their are hidden recesses in his mind and hidden potentialities that he may never be aware of.
- Total knowledge of oneself and abilities
In order to speak infallibly, one must know oneself and abilities in total. Without knowledge, there can be no infallible authority. And without full knowledge, how could one know whether they have the truth? What if they are missing key aspects that would change their perspective? This happens all the time with science and is evidenced by its history. We never know if we have arrived at truth on our own.
- Total control
In order to have an infallible word, one must not only know something, but be able to bring it to pass. Man cannot say that he has obtained this since, lacking both full knowledge and self-consciousness, man changes in his mind. He cannot make absolute judgments on anything and thus does cannot bring things infallibly to pass. In short, anything rooted in man cannot be said to be infallible. As Rushdoony wrote, “God, being omnipotent and totally self-conscious, can predict because His word is the controlling word. God’s word comes out of His unchanging and omnipotent being, and the word of God is thus of necessity infallible. The only word the sovereign and triune God can speak is an infallible word.” (Emphasis original)
So what do we have? We have Christian fundamentalism vs. humanistic fundamentalism with the key difference that the humanist must confess his starting point is woefully fallible since he does not have the preconditions for infallibility, whereas the Christian’s is rooted in the infallible God of Scripture. Also, we have shown the humanist is not justified in accusing the Christian of dogmatism as he is “guilty” of the same.
If the secular humanist wishes to hold any ideal, he can only do so by a doctrine of infallibility. If he wishes to maintain a relativistic starting point, he cannot make any judgments of falsity of absurdity to any belief. He cannot claim infallibility because he doesn’t have the preconditions of infallibility. So, why be dogmatic against Christianity? Why call the laws of God cruel and malicious? Why be angry with fundamentalists in the first place?
There is a war taking place, and a rather unfair one at that. It is between the Almighty God of Scripture and the wavering fickle and uncertain word of man. The more man tries to sustain his existence outside God’s laws, God’s purpose and God creating man in his image, the more destructive, irrational and animal-like he makes himself out to be. His origin will be chaotic, and his end disastrous nonsense.