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Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion
Publication Date: Nov 26, 2002
ISBN:0072557796 / 9780072557794
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Imprint: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education Dimensions: 9.2 X 5.9 Inches (US)
Main DescriptionThis debate-style reader introduces students to controversial issues in religion through paired pro and con articles on such issues as the existence of evil, the doctrine of salvation, abortion and cloning, the theory of evolution, justifications for war, and the sanctity of the family . For additional support for this title, visit our student website: www.dushkin.com/online
PART 1. Philosophical Issues
ISSUE 1. Does God Exist?
YES: William Paley, from Natural Theology; or, Evidences ofthe Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected From theAppearances of Nature, 14th ed.
NO: Sally Morem, from "Does God Exist?" ReligiousHumanism
William Paley (1743-1805), Christian philosopher andarchdeacon of the Anglican Church, concludes that just as anintelligent watchmaker is the only explanation for the existence of anintricate watch, only an intelligent creator could be responsible forthe even more complex creation of humankind. Sally Morem, author andcurrent president of Humanists of Minnesota, provides contemporaryarguments against both "intelligent design" (like Paley's position)and the moral arguments for the existence of God. Morem asks, If anomniscient, omnipotent God is the creator, why is there so much ofcreation that is poorly constructed?
ISSUE 2. Can Evil Exist and There Still Be a God?
YES: John Hick, from Evil and the God of Love, rev.ed.
NO: B. C. Johnson, from The Atheist Debater'sHandbook
John Hick, theologian and philosopher at the University ofBirmingham in the United Kingdom, asserts that God allows evil toexist as a means of enabling humankind to struggle in the process ofgaining spiritual maturity. He argues that opposition, pain, andsorrow are all a necessary part of what he describes as "soul making".Author B. C. Johnson counters that the existence of evil proves thenonexistence of God--for if God exists and God is good, he would notallow evil to possess such a powerful influence.
ISSUE 3. Does God Have Absolute Knowledge of the Future?
YES: Stephen N. Williams, from "What God Doesn't Know: Were theBiblical Prophecies Mere Probabilities?" Books &Culture
NO: John Sanders, from "Theological Lawbreaker? A Response toStephen Williams", Books & Culture
Stephen N. Williams, professor of systematic theology atUnion Theological College in Belfast, Northern Ireland, provides adefense against the theory of open theism, which proposesthat God's knowledge of the future is limited. Williams defends theclassical view of God's omniscience, stating that God's knowledge ofthe past, present, and future is absolute. John Sanders, associateprofessor of philosophy and religion at Huntington College inHuntington, Indiana, defends the "openness of God" theory, statingthat God's knowledge is not omniscient in the traditional sense.Sanders asserts that while God does have complete knowledge of thepast and present, his knowledge of the future is not complete becauseit is subject to humankind's exercise of free will.
ISSUE 4. Can Morality Exist Without Religion?
YES: John Arthur, from "Religion, Morality, and Conscience", inJohn Arthur, ed., Morality and Moral Controversies, 4thed.
NO: Leo Tolstóy, from On Life and Essays on Religion,trans. Aylmer Maude
John Arthur, professor of philosophy at the StateUniversity of New York at Binghamton asserts that religion is notnecessary for a people to be moral. In addition to providing argumentsagainst religion as a necessary "moral motivation" and as thesource of truth, Arthur also asserts that morality is inherentlysocial and is learned from interacting with others. Leo Tolstóy(1828-1910), moral philosopher and author of the classics War andPeace and Anna Karenina, argues for the necessity of Godand religion in the existence of morality. Tolstóy contends that truthoriginates with God and that humankind must look to God (throughreligion) for continued guidance.
PART 2. Doctrinal Issues
ISSUE 5. Is There Only One Way to Receive Salvation?
YES: Keith E. Johnson, from "Do All Paths Lead to the SameDestination?" Leadership University,
NO: John Hick, from "Whatever Path Men Choose Is Mine", in RichardJ. Plantinga, ed., Christianity and Plurality: Classic andContemporary Readings
Keith E. Johnson, regional coordinator for OngoingTheological Education with the Campus Ministry of City Collegesof Chicago, Illinois, asserts that while other religious traditionsprovide a supportive community and important ethical and moralteachings, salvation can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ.John Hick, theologian and philosopher of religion, is the author ofwhat has come to be known as the pluralistic hypothesis. He arguesthat all religions are simply differing manifestations of the sameultimate reality. Hick maintains that salvation can be found throughfollowing God in whatever form we find him (or her).
ISSUE 6. Is Acceptance of Christ Alone Sufficient forSalvation?
YES: Charles C. Ryrie, from So Great Salvation: What It Meansto Believe in Jesus Christ
NO: John F. MacArthur, Jr., from Faith Works: The GospelAccording to the Apostles
Charles C. Ryrie, former president and current professorat Philadelphia Biblical University, argues that "good works" are notin any way a part of salvation--salvation is obtained exclusivelythrough the grace of Christ. While Ryrie believes that most people whoaccept Christ will manifest their acceptance of Him through goodworks, others will not. John F. MacArthur, Jr., president of TheMaster's College in Santa Clarita, California, and host of theGrace to You radio ministry, asserts that verbally acceptingChrist is not sufficient for salvation. He believes that genuineacceptance of Christ is manifest through repentance and a sinceredesire to live a moral life. MacArthur contends that those who havetruly accepted Christ will manifest their commitment through theirgood works.
ISSUE 7. Was Jesus Christ the Son of God?
YES: N. T. Wright, from "The Divinity of Jesus", in Marcus J. Borgand N. T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions
NO: Marcus J. Borg, from "Jesus and God", in Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions
N. T. Wright, canon theologian of Westminster Abbey andformer dean of Lichfield Cathedral, argues for the divinity of Jesus.He maintains that faith and scholarship need not be mutually exclusivewith respect to the debate over the divinity of Jesus Christ. Wrightdefends his position against the assertions of participants in theJesus Seminar. Marcus J. Borg, professor of religion and culture atOregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, and a fellow of theJesus Seminar, asserts that historical evidence does not support Jesusas being divine. A practicing Christian, Borg acknowledges Jesus as agreat teacher and an embodiment of truth but not as the divine Son ofGod.
ISSUE 8. Is the Family Primary in God's Plan?
YES: Michael Gold, from "Family: A Spiritual Guide", Address Givenat the World Congress on Families II, Geneva, Switzerland
NO: Stanley Hauerwas, from "The Family as a School for Character",in Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, comp., Moral Issues: Philosophicaland Religious Perspectives
Michael Gold, a Jewish rabbi who heads Temple Beth Torahin Tamarac, Florida, argues for the primacy of the traditional familyin God's plan. Gold believes that the rescue of our decaying cultureis dependent upon returning to the traditional family structure wheremoral values can be properly taught and modeled. Stanley Hauerwas,professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School in Durham,North Carolina, believes the family to be of great importance, but hestates that it is not primary to God's plan. Hauerwas reasons fromScripture that it is the church that is primary and not the family.Putting the family first would be a form of idolatry, heconcludes.
PART 3. Social Issues
ISSUE 9. Is Abortion Wrong?
YES: The Vatican, from "1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion", inLloyd Steffen, ed., Abortion: A Reader
NO: Daniel C. Maguire, from "Abortion: A Question of CatholicHonesty", in Lloyd Steffen, ed., Abortion: A Reader
This official "1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion" waswritten by the Vatican and ratified by Pope Paul VI. The declarationis both a statement of faith and reason for the Catholic Church'slongstanding position against abortion. It also addresses criticswithin the Catholic Church who assert that abortion should be apersonal decision based on conscience and not obedience to authority.Daniel C. Maguire, Catholic professor of ethics at MarquetteUniversity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, argues for more flexibility in theCatholic Church's stand on abortion. Maguire outlines the Catholictradition of probabilism, which was originally designed toprovide a legitimate rationale for going against Church authorityconcerning moral issues.
ISSUE 10. Is Capital Punishment Wrong?
YES: Glen H. Stassen, from "Biblical Teaching on CapitalPunishment", in Glen H. Stassen, ed., Capital Punishment: AReader
NO: Jacob J. Vellenga, from "Is Capital Punishment Wrong?" in GlenH. Stassen, ed., Capital Punishment: A Reader
Glen H. Stassen, professor of Christian ethics at theFuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, argues thatalthough the practice of capital punishment has biblical roots, Goddoes not intend the penalty of death to be carried out in most cases.Former associate executive of the United Presbyterian Church Jacob J.Vellenga provides an overview of the scriptural teachings in favor ofcapital punishment from both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Hemaintains that capital punishment is one of the consequences Godinstituted to punish the perpetrator and prevent the same kinds ofacts among others.
ISSUE 11. Does the Bible Forbid Same-Sex Relationships?
YES: Richard B. Hays, from "Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies:The Witness of Scripture Concerning Homosexuality", in Jeffrey S.Siker, ed., Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of theDebate
NO: Victor Paul Furnish, from "The Bible and Homosexuality:Reading the Texts in Context", in Jeffrey S. Siker, ed.,Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate
Richard B. Hays, New Testament professor at the DukeDivinity School in Durham, North Carolina, provides evidence from bothHebrew and Christian Scripture prohibiting the practice ofhomosexuality. Hays argues that the prohibition against homosexualrelations has continued from ancient times to the present. Victor PaulFurnish, New Testament professor at Southern Methodist University inDallas, Texas, reasons that the arguments made against homosexualbehavior found in the Bible are generally taken out of context andshould not be interpreted as prohibitions against thepractice.
PART 4. Religion and Science Issues
ISSUE 12. Does the Theory of Evolution Explain the Origins ofHumanity?
YES: Daniel C. Dennett, from Darwin's Dangerous Idea:Evolution and the Meanings of Life
NO: John MacArthur, from The Battle for the Beginning: TheBible on Creation and the Fall of Adam
Daniel C. Dennett, professor of arts and sciences at TuftsUniversity in Medford, Massachusetts, argues against a God beinginvolved in creation. He maintains that Darwin's theory of evolutionis the strongest and most elegant explanation for the creation of theuniverse and humankind. Featured teacher of the radio ministryGrace to You and president of The Master's College in SantaClarita, California, John MacArthur argues for divine creation.MacArthur believes that faithful Christians are being deceived by thenaturalistic philosophy of evolution, and he provides conservative,scriptural arguments supporting a God-directed creation.
ISSUE 13. Does Religious Commitment Improve Mental Health?
YES: David B. Larson, from "Have Faith: Religion Can Heal MentalIlls", Insight
NO: Albert Ellis, from "Dogmatic Devotion Doesn't Help, It Hurts",Insight
Psychiatrist and president of the International Center forthe Integration of Health and Spirituality in Rockville, Maryland,David B. Larson argues that religious affiliation, belief, andpractice are positively related to mental health. Psychologist andfounder of rational-emotive therapy and president of the Institute forRational-Emotive Therapy, located in New York City, Albert Elliscounters that religion is a contributor to emotional disturbance.
PART 5. Political Issues
ISSUE 14. Is War Ever Justified?
YES: Editors of First Things, from "In a Time of War",First Things
NO: Walter Wink, from "Beyond Just War and Pacifism", in J. PatoutBurns, ed., War and Its Discontents: Pacifism and Quietism in theAbrahamic Traditions
The editors of an interreligious, nonpartisan publicationentitled First Things provide an argument defending militaryaction, using both historical and theological backgrounds in supportof just war theory. Walter Wink, professor of biblical interpretationat Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, argues that victimsof evil should not respond to evil on its own terms but choose a formof nonviolent resistance.
ISSUE 15. Should There Be a Strict Separation Between Church andState?
YES: Richard Davis, from "Should There Be a Strict SeparationBetween Church and State? Yes", An Original Essay Written for ThisVolume
NO: Mathew D. Staver, from "Separation of Church and State",Liberty Counsel, http://www.lc.org/OldResources/separation.html
Richard Davis, professor of political science at BrighamYoung University in Provo, Utah, argues for a strict interpretation ofthe Constitution concerning church and state issues. He states thathistory has demonstrated that when there is not a strict separation,the civil government, religion, and especially the people suffer.Mathew D. Staver, a Christian attorney specializing in religiousliberty law and founder of Liberty Counsel, contends that a strictseparation between church and state is not what the founding fathershad in mind when they established the Constitution. He presentsevidence supporting the assertion that strict separation should existon the federal but not the state level of government.
ISSUE 16. Does the Religious Right Threaten AmericanFreedoms?
YES: John B. Judis, from "Crosses to Bear", The NewRepublic
NO: Fred Barnes, from "Who Needs the Religious Right? We All Do",Crisis
John B. Judis, senior editor of The New Republic,argues against the Religious Right using the political process toforce its morally conservative political agenda on the Americanpublic. He maintains that government should be allowed to operateindependently of the Religious Right's influence. Fred Barnes,cofounder of the weekly magazine The Standard, argues insupport of the Religious Right keeping traditional moral issues alivein the public debate. He asserts that morality plays a vital role inthe success of America, and without the influence of religiousconservatism, the nation's freedom may be in jeopardy.
PART 6. Denominational Issues
ISSUE 17. Is Mormonism Christian?
YES: Daniel K. Judd, from "Is The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints (Mormonism) a Christian Religion?" An Original EssayWritten for This Volume
NO: Craig L. Blomberg, from "Is Mormonism Christian?" in FrancisJ. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen, eds., The New MormonChallenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-GrowingMovement
Daniel K. Judd, professor of ancient Scripture at BrighamYoung University in Provo, Utah, reasons why The Church of JesusChrist of Latter-day Saints (LDS) should be considered a Christianreligion. He states that because the LDS Church bases its theology andpractice on Jesus Christ (particularly his atonement andresurrection), it should be considered a Christian Church even thoughits members do not accept many of the creeds of traditionalChristendom. Craig L. Blomberg, New Testament professor at the DenverSeminary in Denver, Colorado, states that Mormons are not Christianeither as a church or as individuals. He bases his statement on whathe interprets as inconsistencies between The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints and the Christian Church as represented in the Bibleand in early Christian creeds.