The Golden Rule: a Parallel Analogy to The Outsider Test for Faith

Dr. James McGrath wrote something that I think expresses my Outsider Test for Faith. It's the Golden Rule, and he claims this is a Christian way to do historical studies, See for yourself...
One doesn't have to be committed in advance to history's inability to deal with miracles in order to begin to realize that one cannot claim that Christianity is grounded purely in history while other traditions are at best shrouded in myth. One simply has to apply the most basic Christian principle to one's investigation of the competing claims. That's what happened in my case. I didn't know that much about historical methodology yet as an undergraduate interested in defending and spreading his faith.

But I did know about fairness, about treating others as you would want them to treat you. The Golden Rule.

And so what does it mean to do history from a Christian perspective? It doesn't mean to allow for miracles in the Biblical stories while assuming that, when the cookies are missing and your child says he or she doesn't know what happened to them, that you're dealing with a lie and theft rather than a miracle. It doesn't mean defending Christian claims to miracles and debunking those of others, nor accepting Biblical claims uncritically in a way you never would if similar claims were made in our time.

It means doing to the claims of others what you would want done to your claims. And perhaps also the reverse: doing to your own claims, views and presuppositions that which you have been willing to do to the claims, views and presuppositions of others.

Once one begins to attempt to examine the evidence not in an unbiased way, but simply fairly, one cannot but acknowledge that there are elements of the Christian tradition which, if they were in your opponent's tradition, you would reject, debunk, discount, and otherwise find unpersuasive or at least not decisive or compelling.
Here's the link.

To read more from McGrath about the historian's methods see this link.


Unknown said...

"The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also."
— Mark Twain