This was one of the first cards I ever wrote. I interpreted it very simply: This statement is saying that the standard for truth is sincerity. If you believe something, it is therefore true.
So, I suppose I took the statement as espousing relativism. I start off by showing sincerely held beliefs that were wrong. Since I'm approaching the topic from a relativistic/all-roads-lead-to-God perspective, my second point is that the Bible teaches there is only one way to heaven. My third point is that sincerity must be grounded in truth--we should sincerely believe things that the Bible tells us are true.
It may be a very simple way of interpreting the topic, but the judges like it and it's one of my favorite cards. I also seem to draw it with a very high frequency, for some reason. Perhaps tournament directors like it a lot.
seems like a gross mischaracterization
I doubt people who hold that opinion say "if you believe something, it is therefore true." That's basically applying your framework (the opposite of the statement) to the statement's language, then saying "see, the statement doesn't make sense". The point of apologetics is to understand what is being said, not rephrase it in your own framework and then show how it fails in your framework.
It's not about whether sincerely held beliefs are wrong or right, it's about how the person should be judged who held those beliefs.
The oversimplification fails to address or persuade anyone but those who already believe the opposite. So I wholeheartedly disagree with your approach here and recommend it to be avoided.
Okay, so here we have two different interpretations of a somewhat vague topic. I'm fine with a person choosing to interpret the topic as referring to judging people, but I don't believe that because there are multiple interpretations one has to be wrong or a "gross mischaracterization".
That said, I do believe that my interpretation of the topic is the one that is most consistent with the general meaning of the statement. I googled "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere" and looked at only the top five results. How do these websites interpret the statement? All of the top five results used my interpretation.
As far as I could tell, none of them said anything about "judging" people based on their beliefs.
Quotes from the top results:
"I have actually had (not overtly religious) people get angry with me when I say they have a moral obligation to check out the validity of their ideas. They literally think that the mere fact of believing passionately in something makes it right."Steven Dutch
"At first glance this kind of thinking [about sincerity] seems kind and sensible and helpful. ... Kind because it says everybody is right to believe what they want to believe and nobody can say otherwise. Sensible because, after all, who can claim that their opinion, their school of thought, is anything other than just that, opinion? ... And it seems helpful, because it suggests that believing in something is what really matters."Pete Jackson
"Simply put, some people argue that it really doesn’t matter what your beliefs on a certain subject are, as long as you are sincere in those beliefs. ... Someone’s sincerity regarding a belief does not make that belief true."An anonymous bloghttp://fulfill.wordpress.com/2011/05/11 ... u-believe-
"The one who says that as long as you are sincere [it doesn't matter what you believe] is saying, 'As long as you are already pure in your intentions, you are right to believe anything you wish.' But, this is only true for those who do not accept the Bible assessment of the human sinful nature."An adapted quote from R.C. Sproul
So, there indeed are people who say "If you believe something, it is therefore true." I'm not applying my framework to the topic--I researched the topic before
I developed my framework. My understanding of the topic determined my framework, not the other way around. Because I understand the topic as it relates to truth, my framework is about truth.
Now the alternative interpretation presented has been about "judging" people with sincerely held beliefs. I'm trying to understand how this applies, although as I said above I'm fine with this interpretation if it actually does apply. Here's my issue: Aren't all beliefs sincere beliefs? If so, then this interpretation must become a speech on judging beliefs in general--which I think is much farther away from the apparent meaning of the topic than my interpretation.
There's also no possible way Isaiah can support his statement that no one could ever be persuaded by my interpretation. How does he know? As I showed above, there are indeed people whose interpretation lines up with mine. Perhaps some of those people could be persuaded--God can use a speech to change someone's mind.
I wholeheartedly disagree that there cannot be multiple valid interpretations of a single statement. I recommend that we all recognize the validity of multiple interpretations and try to determine which one is the most likely meaning without declaring other interpretations to be completely bankrupt "gross mischaracterizations".
Master Apologetics by Writing Only 25 Cards!CalebDeLon.com