The “Been There, Done That” Argument

Under Ken Pulliam’s post, James McGrath on “What’s Wrong with Penal Substitution”, there is a discussion between Grace and Andre.  Grace is a Christian who used to be an agnostic.  And Andre is an ex-Christian.

What amazes me is how so many people use a “been there, done that” sort of argument.  A while back, I blogged through the Zondervan publication, More Than One Way?  Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World.   John Hick said that he used to be a conservative evangelical.  And I believe Alister McGrath said that he was once a religious liberal.

A professor once used the “been there, done that” argument on me.  I was writing a paper that tried to tie Isaiah 53 to Jesus, and which sought to uphold a conservative view of Scripture.  He told me that he used to hold that sort of viewpoint, but not any more.

The implication of the “been there, done that” argument is that, just because a person once held a viewpoint and found it wanting, that viewpoint actually is wanting.  Also, there’s a view about growth that is in the “been there, done that” argument: a person once held a worldview, and now feels that she’s outgrown it, and so she looks at people with the worldview that she once held and considers them to be immature—as if they need to outgrow where they are to arrive at her level.

But I don’t think that the “been there, done that” argument is that good.  In fact, I’m sick of seeing it (not that I have any power to stop it, and I may use it myself at times!).  Just because one person couldn’t make a particular worldview work for him, that doesn’t mean somebody else can’t.  And who’s to say that ex-(fill-in-the-blanks) held the best possible version of the belief that they are now repudiating?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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