Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Defining terms and assuming the argument

I have written on choice of terms in framing a debate previously. Here are 2 further examples.

Calvinists use the term "doctrines of grace" to refer to Calvinism. They may think that they are stronger on grace though I dispute this. Such nomenclature is unhelpful and clouds the argument. This is because although "doctrine of grace" has a specific meaning it sounds like a belief in grace as opposed to, say, works. Yet Christian theology generally is a theology of grace and not works, or at least claims to be. (Others have suggested that a better term may be "doctrines of irresistible grace").

An example from a position I hold may be helpful. I hold to Young Earth Creationism (YEC). This term is a little unwieldy (and 6000 years is hardly young). Young Earth Creationists (YECs) have suggested the term "biblical creationism". Now I happen to think YEC is more biblical than the alternatives but that is kind of beside the point. "Biblical creationism" is needlessly disparaging when trying to debate what the Bible teaches. Non YECs may claim that their position is variably biblical.

Use terms that are moderately accurate, and don't use terms that assume you argument: don't beg the question.

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