An excellent Christian scholar (X) was explaining how he lays out all the different views on a subject, then lets the reader decide which he thinks is best. Here was an email regarding (X)’s practice.
In the podcast, he says he takes the warning to teachers in the book of James (3:1) very seriously and for that reason when he is teaching about theology or doctrine, he never only presents just one view. He presents all orthodox views and then offers his preferred view for the various reasons he gives in support of it.
And I thought he just did that because he is a typical Protestant Biblicist and the interpretation of Scripture (their only authority) warrants differing views.
I guess my problem is that it is still left in the hands of the layman to decide. But I suppose that could be the best option when (X) isn’t teaching on behalf of the catholic (universal) Church. He is only teaching on behalf of one Protestant sect of the Church. So it makes sense that he should be more careful. But I don’t think a teacher would bring condemnation when he (or she) would say, “this is the view of the catholic Church and, as such, you should hold it too.”
For example, on the Eucharist, (X) may teach all the various views and call them all orthodox, but what good is that when they are mutually exclusive of each other? I don’t understand what good it is to leave people to decide between differing options that all exclude each other! If you take a ceremonial view, then your view is excluded by mainline Protestants, Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox Christians. If you take a Transubstantiationist view, then your view is excluded by all other Christians. How can orthodox Christianity tolerate 3 or 4 or 5 different mutually exclusive views of the Eucharist, especially considering the difference between the Sacramental view and the Ceremonial view is so vast! The former says that Christ meets us and imparts grace (sanctifying, saving grace no less!) in the Eucharist. The latter says that we just have a bit of bread and grape juice in fellowship and solemn remembrance of Christ’s passion and atonement for us. Night and Day! And yet we are to believe these both fall into the pale of orthodoxy! It doesn’t make any sense! If catholic Christianity teaches that baptism and the Eucharist are “generally necessary” (BCP) unto salvation, then how on earth can it be called orthodox to believe otherwise?
So, although (X) may have reasons (and good ones) for teaching alternative views of orthodox doctrines (other than being tied to an evangelical Protestant sectarian view of Christianity), in the long run it seems that he is still forced to do so from a circular, self-refuting paradigm: one that affirms the necessity of correct (orthodox) belief, but that tolerates wide-ranging and mutually exclusive beliefs to fall under that rubric! Orthodoxy for Craig is only Protestant Evangelical orthodoxy.