7 Logical Fallacies in TCA

The Coming Apostasy, Part 2

This post was written to address a number of logical fallacies that, when stacked together, somehow justified the authors’ choice to target ONE particular sin. I disagree with this decision, and I’ve decided to address it publicly in this article. I hope that if you read it, you will read all of it. I look forward to your comments.

TRIGGER WARNING:
For anyone who has been spiritually abused by the church, first of all, I’m sorry about that. In this blog post, I will affirm what the Bible says about various sins. These affirmations are not condemnation, because I know that:

We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23
~ AND ~

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

 A Critique: Chapter 7 of The Coming Apostasy 

As I have agonized over this book review—and I really have agonized over it—I decided to do something I’ve never done before: offer two reviews for the same book. To read my full review of The Coming Apostasy (sans Chapter 7) click here. The review on this page covers only Chapter 7. If you take a look at the graphic I created for this blog post, you will see that I have this section folded back on itself. There’s a reason, but I’ll get to that later.

In Chapter 7, “The Watershed Moment for the Church,” Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley present their thesis that “homosexual behavior is a watershed for apostasy,” and the legalism of gay marriage in the United States in 2015 was a “watershed moment for the church” and our culture…in a bad way.

What has been even worse than the US Supreme Court decision, if that’s possible, is the response of many professing Christians, even Christian leaders, to this issue.” (pg. 116).

It’s clear to me that the authors spent a lot of time in prayer over the subject matter in this key chapter of their book hoping to make their point with respect to those who have homosexual attraction as opposed to those actively involved in the homosexual lifestyle. In many places, I can sense a compassionate heart struggling with how to reconcile the letter of the law with the spirit of the law.

Our choice today on this issue is not between lazily condoning sinful behavior or lashing out in anger and condemnation. “There’s another way. It’s possible to show love and also to speak of transformative truth. It just isn’t easy.” (page 135)

My decision to write a critique of Chapter 7 was not made because I disagree with their comments about the sinfulness of an active homosexual lifestyle. I don’t. My problem with this chapter is their choice to paint homosexuality as the “watershed of apostasy” to the neglect of a host of other sins which are also clearly and frequently mentioned in the Bible and prevalent in the church today. To pin the decline of morality and rise of apostasy on homosexuality is an egregious mistake.

To pin the decline of morality and rise of apostasy on homosexuality is an egregious mistake. Click To Tweet

Choosing to highlight this one sin as worse than all the others is based on a number of logical fallacies which I detail below. According to Purdue OWL:

Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim.”

7 Logical Fallacies in Chapter 7

I have identified logical fallacies (you might find more) in Chapter 7 of The Coming Apostasy, and I discuss each one below.

Logical Fallacy #1: Texas Sharp Shooter (Cherry Picking)
Only select evidence is presented in order to persuade the audience to accept a position, and evidence that would go against the position is withheld. The stronger the withheld evidence, the more fallacious the argument.*

One of Hitchcock’s and Kinley’s main contentions is that homosexuality is a worse sin than others because it is “contrary to nature” and breached a “divinely appointed” barrier (pg. 120). By categorizing it as “unnatural” (which is a term used in Scripture to describe it), they put homosexuality in a class of sin all its own. They argue it is punished more harshly than other sins in the Bible (pp. 120-121). As evidence, they refer to the homosexual activity of the men in Sodom (cf. Gen. 19) prior to its destruction. The problem with this is that they completely omit Ezekiel’s words which disprove their thesis:

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” (Ezk. 16:49-50)

Sodom was not destroyed solely because of sexual sin: It was destroyed because of the abomination AND the sins of pride, gluttony, laziness, and neglect of the needy. Footnoted references from Leviticus reveal homosexuality as one of many prohibitions punishable by death. They catalogue a variety of sexual sins AND others including “cursing” one’s father or mother, having an affair with the neighbor lady, and having sex during menstruation. Homosexuality was neither isolated nor dealt a punishment different from other sexual sins.

Logical Fallacy #2: Slippery Slope
Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too; therefore, A should not happen.*

The authors argue that since home was “the first human institution” created by God, redefining marriage consequently means that “nothing is off limits” and “everything is up for grabs” (pg. 122). Not only is it impossible to validate their predictions, it is equally impossible to separate the consequences of redefining marriage from the consequences of legalizing divorce which, by the way, also violates the creation of that exact same institution. The decision to focus on homosexuality is wrong.

Reason #3: Ad Hominem Abusive
Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument.*

Kinley and Hitchcock are frustrated with those whom they refer to as “professing” Christians—especially famous authors and speakers like Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, and Jen Hatmaker who, in their opinion, have “decided to fit in rather than stand out” in society. (BTW, referring to someone as a “professing” Christian is a slam in fundamentalist circles.) They contend that this “moral freefall” is only possible because of unbiblical compromises and improper interpretation of clear passages. Since these celebrities have come out in “support homosexual relationships in the name of love and acceptance” (pg. 117), their position as redeemed children of God is cast into doubt and their influence is demonized.

Fallacy #4: False Cause
Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other.*

Why the authors purposefully picked homosexuality as the “watershed issue related to apostasy” is beyond me—even though they take nearly four pages to explain their decision. I read every word of their justification and intellectually comprehend the argument. To suggest that the legalization of homosexual marriage in the United States in 2015 is bringing us closer to the Tribulation and the Second Coming is a moot point. The fact is, every day that passes brings us closer to the End—that’s just the passing of time. But to imply that “homosexuality was only the beginning” (pg. 134) and that “what is happening today is no coincidence…this might be the beginning of the end” (pg. 135) is a bit much. Correlation does not equal causation. 

Fallacy # 5: Stacking the Deck
Any evidence that supports an opposing argument is simply rejected, omitted, or ignored*

The authors quote and reference a number of verses that specifically condemn homosexual relations; however, they skim over (or completely ignore) other sins which are also clearly prohibited. They omit almost all references to those passages in order to paint the picture that homosexuality is the worst sin and imply that it is addressed more often and more clearly than anything else. This is simply not true.

Fallacy #6: Hasty Generalization
Bases an inference on too small a sample, or on an unrepresentative sample. Often, a single example or instance is used as the basis for a broader generalization.*

The authors argue that “the stunning pace with which homosexual behavior has gained approval can only be explained in supernatural terms. Something beyond human forces is energizing this issue and galvanizing the marginalization and mocking of those who disagree” (pg. 118) I am pretty sure that the gay community would disagree with the assertion that the “approval” of their “behavior” has been accepted at a “stunning pace,” unless one means “stunningly tortoiselike.” Their striving for acceptance in society has persisted for centuries. Less than 12% of countries in the world have legalized homosexuality.* So, to make this “stunning pace” claim based solely on what is happening in a small part of the world (primarily the United States) is incredibly myopic.

Fallacy #7: Appeal to Tradition
Using historical preferences of the people (tradition)…as evidence that the historical preference is correct.*

The authors make their argument that the homosexual lifestyle should be rejected because it’s been that way since the inception of the church.

For two thousand years the church of Jesus Christ has believed that homosexual behavior is sinful…Belief that homosexual activity is wrong was almost universally accepted even two or three decades ago among Christians and non-Christians alike” (page 123).

The authors accuse “progressives” of cowering to culture—changing their positions on the issue (1) out of fear of being labeled homophobic, and (2)—they actually say this—”to appear more loving and tolerant than believers who hold to the millenia-long interpretation of God’s Word” (page 124). Why would any Christian want to appear more loving and tolerant than another brother or sister in the Lord? Could it be that many of those who hold to tradition are hateful and intolerant? Their conclusion that “it’s possible to show love and also speak of transformative truth” is sadly lost in the shuffle.

CONCLUSION

The bottom line is that the goal of Chapter 7 is to insinuate homosexuality (as if it were some new issue) as the catalyst for the great apostasy which immediately precedes the end of the world as we know it. They argue:

Homosexuality was only the beginning—the opening volley. Having lost God, man has now lost himself. Where is it all headed?…Satan is spearheading a global onslaught against God and man to pave the way for the final apostasy predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3. We are living on its leading edge. This may be the beginning of the end. Christ’s coming may be very soon!” (page 134)

If I were to follow the pattern set forth by the authors in this chapter, I could make a case that any of the following popular and prevalent sins was the true “watershed of apostasy” in the church: divorce, remarriage after divorce, gluttony, lust, neglect of the needy, gossip, slander, drunkenness, etc. Many of these have been tolerated—even welcomed—in the church ever since her inception. The apostle Paul was already writing against these moral issues prior to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70! Can you imagine what would have happened if the authors had chosen any one of those other sins as the catalyst to the end times?

As King Solomon wisely observed,
“There is nothing new under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 1:9

I think it’s high time we Christians take a good look in the mirror and face the fact that we live in a fallen world. We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23). And our sins are forgivable. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness, your patience, and your forgiveness.

On page 123, the authors pose this question:

How do we hold fast to Scripture and love all people, all the while being hated and demonized for simply believing the Bible?”

I think that’s what many of us are trying to do: We are holding fast to Scripture—all of it, not just certain verses pulled out of context and over-emphasized to prove a point. But instead of being hated and demonized by society, we are being condemned and labeled by fellow Believers (“No True Scotsman” Fallacy). Many of the comments in this chapter undermine the love of Christ we have shown to our gay friends and could potentially turn them away from the One who has loved them from the moment they were conceived. It’s so unnecessary! Consider this:

The only folks Jesus continually singled out for condemnation were religious leaders! (see Mt. 23). Click To Tweet

Jesus not only taught us to love others—especially the shunned—He modeled it. He showed us how to reach out and touch the untouchable; to set the captives free; to bind up the brokenhearted; to stand up for the truth. I think somewhere along the way, we forgot that it’s NOT our job to change people. It’s our job to share the hope we have in Christ and speak the truth in love. It’s really up to the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins and initiate change in our lives.

I won’t drag this out any longer: Despite some excellent sentences sprinkled throughout the chapter, the overall emphasis of this section is wrong and riddled with logical fallacies. In my opinion, this book can and should be read without Chapter 7.


* Less than 12% of countries have legalized homosexual activity. Calculations based on the following:

  • Current number of countries in the world: 195
    Source: http://www.worldometers.info/geography/how-many-countries-are-there-in-the-world/. Accessed March 1, 2017.
  • Current number of countries in the world which have legalized gay marriage: 23
    Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2015/06/26/gay-marriage-around-the-world-2013/. Accessed March 1, 2017.

Definitions of fallacies were gleaned from the following websites:


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The Coming Apostasy

Book Review: The Coming Apostasy

The Coming Apostasy: Exposing the Sabotage of Christianity from Within by Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley

Every once in a while, something comes along that stops you in your tracks—all surrounding noise fades to a quiet stillness; the sardined space in your mind quickly expands to include long-forgotten memories; and you are immediately transported to that place from whence you came. The Coming Apostasy did that to me.

Grayscale photo of the Mary Celeste Ship
The Mary Celeste // Cumberland County Museum & Archives, Amherst, Nova Scotia Canada

The book opens with a brief sketch of the “ghost ship” Mary Celeste and the mysterious disappearance of the family and crew which sailed her in 1872. The battered and abandoned vessel provides a convenient analogy to describe the church adrift in the midst of moral and spiritual crises. With vivid apocalyptic imagery, rich symbolism, and a cacophony of current headlines, the authors begin to build their case that we are in the last (final) days of this world. An an impassioned voice sounds the warning siren and cries: “It’s almost here! Are you ready?” 

Suddenly, I am six years old again, and various scenes from the movie A Thief in the Night flash furiously in my mind: There’s a woman searching for her family—they are gone, but she was left behind. It was a dream. There’s a little girl standing by the stove in the kitchen—the burner is on, and the contents of a saucepan are boiling, but her mother is nowhere to be found—she assumes she’s been left behind. As she screams in terror, her mother rushes into the room, and together they pray so when the Rapture occurs, she won’t be left behind. It was a dream, but then it wasn’t. The woman runs to a church to find it empty except for the pastor—the congregation is gone, but he was left behind.

Thief in the Night
Stillshot from the kitchen scene (A Thief in the Night)

Fast forward five years. I’m eleven years old, and the same gal from the first movie is starring in the sequel. She’s still not accepted Jesus into her heart, but for some reason, she is also refusing “the mark” which is now required to buy and sell anything. Near the end of the movie, she witnesses a friend’s beheading on the guillotine. The crime? Refusing the mark. And now, the chorus of Larry Norman’s hit single “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” is stuck in a loop on the jukebox of my mind.

I was raised with a “pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, dispensationalist, rapture-oriented” perspective. I cut my teeth on Tim LaHaye’s end times teachings years before he and Jerry Jenkins ever wrote their bestselling “Left Behind” series. And the movie A Thief in the Night had me so freaked out as a child that—for months after I saw it—whenever I found myself unexpectedly alone, I replayed the girl-by-the-stove scene in my head and wondered if I’d been left behind. (I’m not kidding.) It took lots of re-assurances of salvation and mini-theology lessons before I finally let that fear go.

Book Cover: The Coming ApostasyNeedless to say, when I decided to preview the new book The Coming Apostasy, it was a conscious decision to revisit my theological heritage and compare it to what I know to be true. I’m not a little girl anymore. I’ve had formal theological training and spent the last three decades studying and teaching the Bible. I was anxious to compare the current teachings of these authors to the Scriptures and “pop end-times culture” in order to answer a nagging question: Has anything changed in the last 40 years with regards to end times teaching? Because at this point in my life, I’ve survived at least three or four “second comings,” Y2K, numerous “blood moons,” and one “Mayan Apocalypse.” I was hopeful they were not setting yet another date for Doom’s Day!

In other words, I was slightly skeptical—especially after the authors set the stage for their thesis by recounting a number horrific current events including everything from the exponential rise in human trafficking across the globe to the blatant barbarism of ISIS and the incessant threats from Iran’s leadership to annihilate Israel.

According to authors Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley, we are on a trajectory towards the climax of world history and our velocity has been accelerated. These are the end times. The last days. The time is now upon us when God and His followers are rejected, ridiculed, and relegated to the sidelines of society. It’s a perilous period of time immediately preceding what many expect to be the second coming of Christ—when Jesus stops knocking at the door (Rev. 3:20) and instead busts it down, and everyone on earth will mourn for Him (Rev. 1:7). And then, judgment.

Has anything changed in the last 40 years?

Over the past forty years, the world around us has dramatically changed, and the church has matured in its understanding of end times. We know God has a plan, and He is working it. We know it’s not our job to guess when Jesus will return or attempt to accelerate the timeline (as if we could do anything to affect God’s perfect timing). We know our job is to share the gospel message (Matt. 28:18-20) and protect ourselves from deception and false teaching in these last days (Col. 2:8).

I LOVED The Coming Apostasy*. The authors have a high view of Scripture and repeatedly steer Believers back to Bible basics. They plead with their readers to avoid tampering with the time-tested teachings of the Bible in order to placate modern masses; to stand for what is right, even when the world says we are wrong; to maintain an attitude of humility; and to put what we’ve learned into practice.

When we pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake or when we fail to apply what God’s Word reveals to us, we are setting ourselves up to become proud and bloated…The Word of God always leads us to the person of God. It’s never an end unto itself. Truth comes from God to us in order that we may respond accordingly and live that truth back to God” (pp. 52-53).

They also warn us to be very, very careful with interpretation: “Sincerity is no substitute for biblical integrity” (pg. 59).  I couldn’t agree more. 

Without a clear understanding of Scripture and a constant calibration of our hearts and minds to God’s Word, the truth in us can fade and even morph to accommodate our feelings or the changing times” (pp. 59-60).

Kinley and Hitchcock are committed to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God—authoritative for every issue in our lives. What the Bible says we should do, we do. What it says we should avoid, we avoid. Period. “God’s Word is our source for detecting and rejecting apostasy” (pg. 114). It’s important to note that when they are referring to God’s Word, they are referring to the proper interpretation of it. And I’d like to clarify something that is mentioned in passing in the book, but could have used a bit more attention: biblical hermeneutics. 

The authors at Theopedia.com define hermeneutics as “the science of interpreting what an author has written.” They continue: 

In Christian theology, hermeneutics focuses specifically on constructing and discovering the appropriate rules for interpreting the Bible. These methods and principles, however, are often drawn from outside of scripture in historical, literary or other fields. It inevitably involves exegesis, which is the act of interpreting or explaining the meaning of scripture. The goal in applying the principles of hermeneutics is to ‘rightly handle the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15), striving to accurately discern the meaning of the text.” “Hermeneutics,” Theopedia

In other words, there exist guidelines and standards for proper biblical interpretation, and it is when these rules are either ignored or twisted that we end up with false doctrine in the church. The authors of The Coming Apostasy are frustrated with “professing Christians” (especially famous ones like Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, and Jen Hatmaker) who—in their opinion—have “decided to fit in rather than stand out” in society. The authors contend that this “moral freefall” is only possible because of unbiblical compromises and improper interpretation of clear passages.

There’s just one problem…

** It is at this point that I have to insert a caveat: I HATED the premise of Chapter 7.
In fact, I disagree so much with their decision to focus on one particular sin
that I’m writing a separate review specifically for Chapter 7 (click here to read it). **

Chapter 8 is entitled “Will the Real Jesus Stand up?”—I loved this chapter! In it, Kinley and Hitchcock present three popular “Christ caricatures” including: Hipster Jesus, Equality Jesus, and Patriotic Jesus. Each easily recognizable caricature captures a particular part of Jesus’ personality and ministry methodology, but none of them is complete on its own. And none of them bear much resemblance to the complete picture of the Savior as recorded in the Bible.

Thanks to the overwhelming secularization in society, we’re beginning to see a dramatic drop in the most basic biblical knowledge about Jesus…But among those in America with a rudimentary knowledge of Christ, many have rejected long-held beliefs about the Son of God, favoring instead a re-imagined version of Him. To them, He’s due for an upgrade—Jesus 2.0, and new and improved Christ for a new generation” (pg. 139).

The authors are spot-on theologically when they say, “The portrait of Jesus that Scripture paints cannot be improved upon” (pg. 144). Amen, and amen. “By detaching ourselves from Scripture’s Jesus, we not only end up with the wrong Jesus, but we also short-circuit the very power of the gospel” (pp. 144-145). Can you imagine? May it never be!

One thing we know for certain: the end is coming. God has a plan, and He’s been moving it forward since the beginning of time. His redemption is available to everyone who calls upon His Name. There is forgiveness available to everyone. Every. One. We have all sinned and fallen short of what could have been (Rom. 3:23). And yet, while we were still living in our sinful state—according to our own whims and desires; never giving God a second thought (or third thought); never darkening the door of a church building or even owning a Bible—God became a man and made a way where there was no way. And that way is still available to everyone today. It always will be. (Click here to learn more about this.)

How Should We Then Live?

Having made their case for these being the “last days” and some in the church capitulating to current cultural expectations, The Coming Apostasy concludes with a four-point answer to the question, “How should we then live?”

  1. Remember ~ We need to remember that we were warned about false teachers and false teachings nearly 2,000 years ago, and the fact that they exist should be no surprise.
    .
  2. Remain ~ We must commit ourselves to spiritual growth through prayer, Bible study, obedience, and anticipation of His return.
    .
  3. Reach Out ~ We should reach out with compassion and mercy to those who have been deceived by false teachers while guarding our own hearts with truth so we don’t fall into the same trap.
    .
  4. Rest ~ We can rest knowing that our eternal destiny is with Him.

The book ends with a clear, concise, biblical presentation of the gospel message and an invitation to the reader to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because, when it all comes down, the goal for any Christian is to save as many as we can from eternal separation from the Lord. Though we are living in the end times, we are not alone…and we know how the story ends. 

* I highly recommend The Coming Apostasy to everyone (especially pastors and Bible study leaders) with this caution: BEWARE of Chapter 7. In it, the authors select one sin and focus on it and neglect numerous others which are also clearly prohibited in Scripture. I was mortified at their labeling homosexual behavior as the “watershed of apostasy” in the church. Although the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is wrong, nowhere in Scripture is any one sin singled out as “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” with regards to end times (or any other time for that matter). In fact, Scripture is very clear about what God hates and what sins will be rampant in the last days:

These six things the Lord hates,
…..Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
…..A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
…..A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
…..A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.”
Proverbs 6:16-19

AND

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  2 Timothy 3:1-5

Therefore, when you read Chapter 7, do so with the understanding that the authors have chosen to focus on ONE clearly condemned sin and to ignore others which are also clearly condemned, have been around just as long, and are actually more prevalent in the church than homosexuality.

Because I truly enjoyed The Coming Apostasy, I cannot not recommend it. However, I also cannot recommend it wholeheartedly without addressing the problems in Chapter 7; therefore, I am writing a completely separate review of Chapter 7 which you can read HERE.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”