At once, Peter started showing the man around, pointing out this wonder or that, and after an extraordinarily nice afternoon, they were concluding their tour. Peter said to the man, "this is the last thing I need to show you, and it's the only rule you have to follow here in Heaven," pointing to a closed door before them. The muffled sounds of an outrageous party seemed to be coming through the door.
"What's the rule?" the man asked.
"Do not open this door for any reason," Peter replied. "That's the only rule in Heaven. Please follow it and enjoy yourself however else you like here. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to the gates."
Time passed, or didn't, as it does, or doesn't, in Heaven, and the man did enjoy himself thoroughly. From time to time, though, he came near the door, and every time it caught his curiosity, as such things will. It always sounded like the biggest, best party in all of Heaven was going on in there.
Finally, one day curiosity got the better of this man, and he cracked the door open ever so slightly to peek inside. The sight was almost just as he had thought: a big party was going on inside, though it didn't seem any bigger or better than any other party he had been to in Heaven.
Before he had a chance to investigate further, or even to think better of it and close the door, he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was St. Peter. "Oh no..." the man thought, suddenly thinking of Hell.
"I told you, my friend, the one rule of Heaven is not to open that door," Peter reproached with a stern but patient and calm voice. "Please, do not do so again."
"Okay," the man said, immediately relieved that he wasn't about to be kicked out for his curiosity. "But, if you will, sir, can you tell me what's going on in there? It looks like some kind of party, but that's what happens all over up here."
"Oh, sure," chuckled St. Peter. "Those are the Baptists. They think they're the only ones here."
This afternoon, I was sent a piece called "The New-er Atheists: Two movements battle for heart and mind," by Steve Wilkinson, published on the Christian Apologetics Alliance website today. I assume I was sent it because it makes reference of Peter Boghossian and Tom Gilson, with whom I have been having a protracted ongoing discussion about Dr. Boghossian.
In the conclusion of Wilkinson's piece, he writes this,
Tom Gilson said that Tim McGrew’s initial assessment of Boghossian’s work is that while he isn’t a heavy-hitter, as he makes a number of clear and crucial mistakes, that he will ‘rip through the average church-goer like a buzz-saw through balsa.’ I would agree, as while these ‘newer’ atheists largely setup [sic] a straw-man with regard to Christianity, they are quite right about the state of a large number of their target Christian audience and their ill-equipped state, not to mention the ‘mushy middle’ of the general populace. (bold his, italics mine)Perhaps surprisingly, my intent isn't to argue about this or that being said here. Instead, this led me to think of an honest question. I put it on Twitter, twice, and I'm quite serious about it. I would like a clear answer to this question, with some argument in its defense.
The question is Which Christianity is not a straw man of Christianity?
I'm totally serious. I want a good answer to this. The reason I think the question is valid is because of two plain facts: there are a lot of Christianities (40,000, in fact), and these are often outright contradictory with others to the point where they sometimes will say members of other Christian sects aren't saved, aren't Christians, or are heretical.
That is to say, I think every Christianity, which may actually be a point valid down to the individual Christian, is a straw man of every other Christianity. If this is the case, I think it's reasonable to conclude that no matter what Christianity anyone, atheist or otherwise, presents to criticize Christianity is not only likely but necessarily will straw man most Christianities. In that case, does this objection mean anything?
So, the question again: Which Christianity is not a straw man of Christianity?
Oh, yeah, and how do you know?