Belief And Choice

This bears repeating every now and again:

Honestly, the idea that we can choose what to believe is the most damning thing of all to Protestant theologies that embrace Sola Fide.

Unless we’re mentally ill or debilitated in some way, we only believe what we think the case actually is.

This is so easy to prove in real life, much less than dialectically! “I believe x is true and false” is incoherent and when a distinction is supplied so that it becomes coherent, it will denote two propositions, each with distinct dispositions; one as true, the other as false. In real life, rather than an exercise of linguistics, simply try your damndest to force yourself to think something you believe is actually false, or believe that something you think is false is actually true instead. It is true that what we think about something can utterly change, but this is always because that’s what we think the case actually is at that moment in time.

There is only one class of exception. That is any time we don’t know the truth or falsehood of some state of affairs. In such cases, we can choose. But here, we own what we’re doing and can’t demand everyone make the same choice. One example is benefit of the doubt, another would be the principle of charity, and so on. But notice, in these cases, knowing we act on beliefs, there are ethical concerns about being neutral, and we are bound in ethical principle to choose to act in a way (which is identical to “believe in a way”) that puts another person under the best light and us in relation to them.

For all other instances of choice in belief, it turns out these are entirely trivial. It literally doesn’t make a difference​ what you believe because it doesn’t effect the outcomes of acting one way or the other; and ethically anyway, one should remain neutral in this case since there’s no compelling reason evidentially, rationally, or ethically​ to not withhold judgement. Or is there?

So, if epistemic belief is efficacious for salvation, then Evangelicalism is dead because it’s out of anyone’s control and it’s just a matter of fact that God is not an idea that dawns on everyone as being true, or, there’s some ethical reason one must choose to believe. The kick in the head in that case though is that the Evangelist cannot make any arguments for God because he admits by saying there’s a choice at all, he knows there’s no legitimate fact of the matter to make anyone believe or doubt. Because this is tied to Penal Substitution theory, it is a moral concern after all. Since its view of the nature of man doesn’t benefit the doubt that man’s nature is possibly just fine or at least not totally depraved, and that man’s nature can genuinely be doubted in either sense, one must ethically choose to deny the idea that Penal Substitution is true and that epistemic belief is efficacious for salvation.

Just a thought.

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