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Patriotism and the Christian Faith


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#61 mrmando

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 06:11 PM

Well, your "Biblical" argument starts looking more cogent when you appeal to extrabiblical ideas like natural law.

Can anyone take a stab at whether Paul, writing well before the Enlightenment, might have cottoned to Williams' interpretation of Rom. 13? Personally, I like what Williams says here, and I can't really make sense of Rom. 13 any other way. I'm just not sure whether it's really "what Paul meant" or not.

On another note, does anyone know what Islam says about government? What are the chances of the "Arab spring" actually flowering into real democracies? (It would be nice if it happened; sure would save our army some cash.)

#62 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 07:58 PM

Well, your "Biblical" argument starts looking more cogent when you appeal to extrabiblical ideas like natural law.

Oh, I don't know about extrabiblical. Natural law (which is another way, if you asked John Locke, of just saying God's moral law) seems to be clearly Biblical. I'm pretty sure the Apostle Paul mentions it in Romans 2:14-15 and elsewhere.

Edited by Persiflage, 10 May 2011 - 07:58 PM.


#63 mrmando

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 08:05 PM

Hm. The "law" in Rom. 2 is the law of Moses.

Williams:

"There are too too many arbitrary governments in the world, where the people don't make their own laws. These are not properly speaking governments but tyrannies; and are absolutely against the law of GOD and nature."

Whereas, the law of Moses is not presented in Scripture as an example of people making their own laws; rather, it is received by revelation directly from God. I happen to like the idea of people making their own laws, but calling it Biblical seems like a bit of a stretch.

So, to clarify: the idea that the basic moral precepts contained in Moses' law are "written on our hearts" — it's Biblical and I agree with it. The idea that the desire for freedom is written on our hearts — it's Biblical (see Exodus) and I agree with it. The idea that the impulse toward democracy is also written on our hearts — I agree with it but don't think it's Biblical.

(Edit) Circling back to an earlier post of yours ...

In Exodus 18:13-26 we see the form of the temporal government of Israel being created. Those captains over thousands, hundreds and tens were elected by the people. Moses chose the captains that the people chose (Deuteronomy 1:9-18).

Two versions of the same story, with different details. In Exodus, Moses himself selects the captains; there's no mention of them being chosen by their own tribes. Deuteronomy suggests that the tribes were involved in the selection process. So, which account is accurate? Who knows? Whatever the answer, it's certain that the people didn't select Moses himself -- God did!

Edited by mrmando, 11 May 2011 - 12:10 AM.


#64 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 01:28 AM

Whereas, the law of Moses is not presented in Scripture as an example of people making their own laws; rather, it is received by revelation directly from God. I happen to like the idea of people making their own laws, but calling it Biblical seems like a bit of a stretch.

Right. God's moral law, or natural law, is not something we make ourselves, it's something we are given by an outside source (the Creator). When we talk about the people making their own laws politically speaking (or electing the people who make the law), that's self-government - it's our duty to make our temporal laws in society coincide with God's law.

So, to clarify: the idea that the basic moral precepts contained in Moses' law are "written on our hearts" — it's Biblical and I agree with it. The idea that the desire for freedom is written on our hearts — it's Biblical (see Exodus) and I agree with it. The idea that the impulse toward democracy is also written on our hearts — I agree with it but don't think it's Biblical.

How about instead of saying "impulse toward democracy" we just say self-government. Democracy is just one kind of self-government, and pure unadulterated democracy is not particularly a good thing. So it might be fairer to say that the moral (or natural) law being written on our hearts leads to specific logical conclusions about government. Conclusions that we are also helped to reach by how Moses was told to set up Israel's government and by what the Apostle Paul explained about the purpose and role of government.

In Exodus 18:13-26 we see the form of the temporal government of Israel being created. Those captains over thousands, hundreds and tens were elected by the people. Moses chose the captains that the people chose (Deuteronomy 1:9-18).

Two versions of the same story, with different details. In Exodus, Moses himself selects the captains; there's no mention of them being chosen by their own tribes. Deuteronomy suggests that the tribes were involved in the selection process. So, which account is accurate? Who knows? Whatever the answer, it's certain that the people didn't select Moses himself -- God did!

Well, assuming the Bible is true, both versions of the story must be true. Is it possible that Moses and the people chose these representatives of the people? Yes, it's possible - if Moses was directed to select those representatives he instructed the people to elect. As far as Moses himself is concerned, the government rule that the people of Israel didn't select for themselves was the slavery to Pharaoh that they were all born under. Every single Israelite that left Egypt under the leadership of Moses chose to do so (and yes, God did choose Moses to lead the people out of slavery). But the idea that the people ought to choose the leader that God chooses is again confirmed in Deuteronomy 17, I Samuel 9:15-17 + I Samuel 10:23-25, and I Samuel 16:1-13 + II Samuel 2:4 + II Samuel 5:1-4 - all cases of the people needing to choose God's choice.

The fact that God has proscribed a way for us to act or a path for us to choose doesn't still mean that we aren't still the ones who have to choose it. The idea that the Bible teaches natural law is not a new idea. Again, another pastor, Samuel West, taught that:

"A revelation, pretending to be from God, that contradicts any part of natural law, ought immediately to be rejected as an imposture; for the Deity cannot make a law contrary to the law of nature without acting contrary to himself, - a thing in the strictest sense impossible, for that which implies contradiction is not an object of the divine power ... The doctrine of nonresistance and unlimited passive obedience to the worst of tyrants could never have found credit among mankind had the voice of reason been hearkened to for a guide, because such a doctrine would immediately have been discerned to be contrary to natural law."

West then applies this specifically to Romans 13 -

"If magistrates are ministers of God only because the law of God and reason points out the necessity of such an institution for the good of mankind, it follows, that whenever they pursue measures directly destructive of the public good they cease being God's ministers, they forfeit their right to obedience from the subject, they become the pests of society, and the community is under the strongest obligation of duty, both to God and to its own members, to resist and oppose them, which will be so far from resisting the ordinance of God that it will be strictly obeying his commands. To suppose otherwise will imply that the Deity requires of us an obedience that is self-contradictory and absurd, and that one part of his law is directly contrary to the other ...

"A very little attention, I apprehend, will be sufficient to show that this text is so far from favoring arbitrary government, that, on the contrary, it strongly holds forth the principles of true liberty. Subjection to the higher powers is enjoined by the apostle because there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God; consequently, to resist the power is to resist the ordinance of God: and he repeatedly declares that the ruler is the minister of God. Now, before we can say whether this text makes for or against the doctrine of unlimited passive obedience, we must find out in what sense the apostle affirms that magistracy is the ordinance of God, and what he intends when he calls the ruler the minister of God."

" ... that the nature and reason of things require such an institution for the preservation and safety of mankind. Now, if this be the only sense in which the apostle affirms that magistrates are ordained of God as his ministers, resistance must be criminal only so far forth as they are the ministers of God, i.e., while they act up to the end of their institution, and ceases to be criminal when they cease being the ministers of God, i.e., when they act contrary to the general good, and seek to destroy the liberties of the people."

Of course, this is entirely contrary to guys like John MacArthur who interpret the passage exactly like you'd imagine a Tory preacher in the 1770s would. In Why Government Can't Save You, MacArthur writes -

" ... how many present-day believers would even partially approve of the Puritans’ bloody overthrow, under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, of the English monarchy in the 1660s ... Over the past several centuries, people have mistakenly linked democracy and political freedom to Christianity. That’s why many contemporary evangelicals believe the American Revolution was completely justified, both politically and scripturally. They follow the argumentation of the Declaration of Independence, which declares that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are divinely endowed rights. Therefore those believers say such rights are part of a Christian worldview, worth attaining and defending at all costs, including military insurrection at times. But such a position is contrary to the clear teachings and commands of Romans 13:1-7. So the United States was actually born out of a violation of New Testament principles, and any blessings that God has bestowed on America have come in spite of that disobedience by the Founding Fathers."

I'm assuming MacArthur just never bothered to read any of the sermons that were actually preached from the pulpit to the Founding Fathers, let alone George Buchanan's 1579 De Jure Regni Apud Scotos or Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica circa 1274.

#65 mrmando

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 02:01 AM

How about instead of saying "impulse toward democracy" we just say self-government. Democracy is just one kind of self-government, and pure unadulterated democracy is not particularly a good thing.

Right, because it's essentially mob rule. So ... you are in fact arguing for any form of government that entails people choosing their own leaders, even if it's a monarchy.

Well, assuming the Bible is true, both versions of the story must be true.

Holy cow. :blink:

OK, please reconcile the two conflicting creation narratives in Genesis, or tell me at what point in his ministry Jesus cleansed the Temple, or explain how Judas died twice in two very different ways.

...

Again, though: marvelous stuff on Rom. 13. This is precisely the way I've understood the passage for a long time. It is, however, a double-edged sword: the government established by the Founding Fathers has not always fulfilled its obligations under moral law either.

Edited by mrmando, 11 May 2011 - 02:41 AM.


#66 Ryan H.

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:49 AM

Holy cow. :blink:

Are you that removed from conservative American evangelical culture that such a statement is stunning? Such attempts to reconcile these difficulties in the text are furthermore not just an American evangelical thing, but reach back into earlier Christian and even early Jewish ways of reckoning with the Scripture's competing narratives. You may deem such reconciliations either naive or silly, something Christianity has been thankfully shaking off over the past few centuries, but such an approach isn't without precedent.

#67 Ryan H.

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 05:58 AM

"A revelation, pretending to be from God, that contradicts any part of natural law, ought immediately to be rejected as an imposture; for the Deity cannot make a law contrary to the law of nature without acting contrary to himself, - a thing in the strictest sense impossible, for that which implies contradiction is not an object of the divine power ..."

What of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son? Of course, in ultimate terms, God proved himself consistent with his nature. But it does seem that God is not unwilling to challenge individuals by making provocative statements that may seem incongruous with what is else known about him, at least for a time (see, also, Jesus' original proclamation of "you must eat my flesh and drink my blood," a teaching after which many of his followers leave and Jesus nevertheless refuses to elaborate/correct their face value reading of his comment).


#68 mrmando

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 06:58 AM

Are you that removed from conservative American evangelical culture that such a statement is stunning?

No. Used to be quite the champion at Biblical inerrancy and free-association prooftexting myself.

Such attempts to reconcile these difficulties in the text are furthermore not just an American evangelical thing, but reach back into earlier Christian and even early Jewish ways of reckoning with the Scripture's competing narratives. You may deem such reconciliations either naive or silly, something Christianity has been thankfully shaking off over the past few centuries, but such an approach isn't without precedent.

Not all such reconciliations are problematic. The two passages in question (Ex. 18 and Deut. 1) don't necessarily contradict at all; it's just that one includes details the other one leaves out. But the idea that both passages must be true in order for the entire Bible to be true ... well, such a statement would have to apply to all contradictions in the Bible, not just this one, and many of those contradictions can't be so easily reconciled.

Edited by mrmando, 11 May 2011 - 07:45 AM.


#69 Thom Wade

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:23 AM

Not all such reconciliations are problematic. The two passages in question don't necessarily contradict at all; it's just that one includes details the other one leaves out. But the idea that both passages must be true in order for the entire Bible to be true ... well, such a statement would have to apply to all contradictions in the Bible, not just this one, and many of those contradictions can't be so easily reconciled.



Actually, in one account, man is created first, then the animals... in the other the animals are created and then man. One can certainly argue that is not an important contradiction...but both cannot be true either.

#70 mrmando

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 07:47 AM

Actually, in one account, man is created first, then the animals... in the other the animals are created and then man. One can certainly argue that is not an important contradiction...but both cannot be true either.

My statement referred to Deut. 1 and Ex. 18, not to Genesis. If you believe in Biblical inerrancy then no contradiction is unimportant ... especially if it occurs in the creation narrative. And yet, there it is.

#71 Thom Wade

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 08:33 AM

Whoops...sorry...not sure how I missed that.

#72 CrimsonLine

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 08:44 AM



Not all such reconciliations are problematic. The two passages in question don't necessarily contradict at all; it's just that one includes details the other one leaves out. But the idea that both passages must be true in order for the entire Bible to be true ... well, such a statement would have to apply to all contradictions in the Bible, not just this one, and many of those contradictions can't be so easily reconciled.



Actually, in one account, man is created first, then the animals... in the other the animals are created and then man. One can certainly argue that is not an important contradiction...but both cannot be true either.


I know that this is not the central topic of this thread, but there are other ways to read the passage that resolve the apparent contradiction (perhaps Genesis 1 is a literary framework rather than a chronological recounting of events, or perhaps Genesis 2 tells of the creation of the Garden of Eden specifically while Genesis 1 is about the whole earth, etc) while remaining confident in the inerrancy of the Bible.

#73 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 09:59 AM

So ... you are in fact arguing for any form of government that entails people choosing their own leaders, even if it's a monarchy.

Yes. Even Oliver Cromwell would have supported a specific kind of monarchy.

Well, assuming the Bible is true, both versions of the story must be true.

Holy cow.

I don't know why there's a problem with this. The Law of Non-Contradiction can be applied to the Bible. A contradiction is when one proposition or story excludes the possibility of the other. But whenever there are different versions of a story in Scripture, the fact that supplemental details in each story complement each other and give us the bigger picture is not something to worry about. There's a difference between an actual contradiction, and what appears like could be a contradiction upon a perusory reading.

OK, please reconcile the two conflicting creation narratives in Genesis,

Actually, in one account, man is created first, then the animals... in the other the animals are created and then man. One can certainly argue that is not an important contradiction...but both cannot be true either.

In context, Genesis 2 is focusing in on Man and the Garden of Eden, and is not written necessarily in specific chronological order - "on the first day" - "on the second day" like Genesis 1. The beginning of Genesis 2 is the Garden of Eden, not the planet earth. In fact, Genesis 2:19 does not actually say the time God created the animals, instead it simply says that God brought the animals He "had formed" to Adam to be named. To read this passage historically, instead of just as poetry, still does not demand that every little detail must exactly proceed the other just so. One simply needs to look at the author's intent - Genesis 1 gives an ordered account of Creation - Genesis 2 focuses in on the story of man, providing additional details to what Genesis 1:26-28 only briefly summarized.

or tell me at what point in his ministry Jesus cleansed the Temple,

Twice. Once at the beginning of His ministry in John 2:13-22 - notice the different details, quotes, etc. And once at the end of His ministry in Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46. Remember, all the early events mentioned in John, chapters 1-5, (except for Christ's baptism by John the Baptist) are not mentioned in any of the other gospels. What Scriptural evidence would you use to claim that Jesus only "cleansed the Temple" once anyway. For all we know, He might have done so more than just twice. He was certainly in Jerusalem more than once, and I'd sort of expect Him to do it every single time he walked into Jerusalem.

or explain how Judas died twice in two very different ways.

Come on now, do both Matthew 27:3-8 and Acts 1:16-19 really exclude each other? The different descriptions of the same death are due to the writers (one's a Jew and a former personal friend of Judas, the other's a Greek medical doctor). It would be a different thing if Luke told us the fall was the cause of Judas' death, but he doesn't actually say that, does he? Luke's a doctor, so you would expect him to, but instead he's explaining why Judas' field got its name.

Again, though: marvelous stuff on Rom. 13. This is precisely the way I've understood the passage for a long time. It is, however, a double-edged sword: the government established by the Founding Fathers has not always fulfilled its obligations under moral law either.

You are right, it hasn't. But no government by men ever will. That's why you arrange a government structure different than pure democracy, so that you have a government of law and not of men.

What of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son? Of course, in ultimate terms, God proved himself consistent with his nature. But it does seem that God is not unwilling to challenge individuals by making provocative statements that may seem incongruous with what is else known about him, at least for a time (see, also, Jesus' original proclamation of "you must eat my flesh and drink my blood," a teaching after which many of his followers leave and Jesus nevertheless refuses to elaborate/correct their face value reading of his comment).

True. But instances of God telling someone to do something contrary to His revealed law is provocative precisely because whenever God does do this in Scripture, He is looking for a response. There is a difference between God provoking someone like Abraham or Peter, and God declaring his revealed moral law.

Not all such reconciliations are problematic. The two passages in question (Ex. 18 and Deut. 1) don't necessarily contradict at all; it's just that one includes details the other one leaves out. But the idea that both passages must be true in order for the entire Bible to be true ... well, such a statement would have to apply to all contradictions in the Bible, not just this one, and many of those contradictions can't be so easily reconciled.

Name one apparent contradiction that can't be reconciled and I'll personally ditch believing in Biblical Inerrancy.

you believe in Biblical inerrancy then no contradiction is unimportant ... especially if it occurs in the creation narrative.

Correct.

And yet, there it is.

By "it," I'm assuming you are referring to a light reading of Genesis 2 that demands that the author intended to mean that animals were only created after Adam?

#74 mrmando

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Posted 11 May 2011 - 12:03 PM

(perhaps Genesis 1 is a literary framework rather than a chronological recounting of events)

A passage that places so much emphasis on 1st day, 2nd day, etc., is somehow not chronological????!!!

or perhaps Genesis 2 tells of the creation of the Garden of Eden specifically while Genesis 1 is about the whole earth

The beginning of Genesis 2 is the Garden of Eden, not the planet earth.

The phrase "the earth" occurs five separate times in Gen. 2:4-6, but you both want to maintain that the chapter is not about the earth?

The chronologies are rather more tangled than has been discussed thus far.

In Gen. 1: Vegetation on day 3; stars, moon and sun on day 4; birds and fish on day 5; first animals, then humans, both male and female, on day 6.
In Gen. 2: Man, then vegetation, then animals, then woman. Possibly this all took place in one day, if "day" in 2:4 means the same thing as "day" in 2:3. But in that case, which day was it? The phrase "in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven" (2:4) doesn't correspond to any of the days in ch. 1, since in ch. 1 earth and heaven are made before the first day. If it's the day when vegetation was created, perhaps it's day 3 ... except it would have been inconvenient for man to name the animals without any sun to give light for him to see what they looked like.

A historical-critical analysis of Gen. 1 & 2 would simply suggest that the two stories are separate but partially overlapping accounts of the same events (neither one, obviously, being an eyewitness account), collected from divergent strains of oral tradition. But an inerrantist has to maintain that both chapters are written by the same author — who apparently gives great attention to a strict, ordered chronology in ch. 1, and then goes off his meds in ch. 2, since the chapters don't have a prayer of being reconciled unless you assume that ch. 2 is completely non-linear.

In the end, inerrantists shred the text to chop suey in order to maintain their preconceptions. I'd just rather shred my preconceptions and take the text as I find it.

Name one apparent contradiction that can't be reconciled and I'll personally ditch believing in Biblical Inerrancy.

First we need to agree on what we mean by "reconciled." For instance, you try to "reconcile" one of the contradictions in Genesis by claiming that "The beginning of Genesis 2 is the Garden of Eden," when in fact the garden isn't even planted until 2:8, after the man has been created. If you are allowed to "reconcile" textual difficulties by proclaiming falsehoods about the text, then you are playing with a stacked deck and there is no way I can win.

Edited by mrmando, 11 May 2011 - 05:31 PM.


#75 mrmando

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:19 PM

Hm. We seem to have killed the thread by going off topic.

It is, however, a double-edged sword: the government established by the Founding Fathers has not always fulfilled its obligations under moral law either.

You are right, it hasn't.

Well, then, the extent to which a given government upholds moral law is the same extent to which it has the moral right to expect service from its subjects/citizens, up to and including military service.

Your disagreement with Andy, then, has nothing to do with how you interpret Rom. 13 — both of you would say that a citizen's obligation to the government is conditioned by the government's behavior with respect to moral law.

Where you disagree is on whether or not this country has an essentially good government — or, perhaps, on whether specific actions undertaken by its government are good.

Edited by mrmando, 12 May 2011 - 02:29 PM.


#76 tenpenny

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 08:54 PM

A historical-critical analysis of Gen. 1 & 2 would simply suggest that the two stories are separate but partially overlapping accounts of the same events (neither one, obviously, being an eyewitness account), collected from divergent strains of oral tradition. But an inerrantist has to maintain that both chapters are written by the same author — who apparently gives great attention to a strict, ordered chronology in ch. 1, and then goes off his meds in ch. 2, since the chapters don't have a prayer of being reconciled unless you assume that ch. 2 is completely non-linear.

In the end, inerrantists shred the text to chop suey in order to maintain their preconceptions. I'd just rather shred my preconceptions and take the text as I find it.

Ha – I love it. I too find it remarkable the lengths that inerrantists seem willing to go. To me, their best (worst) arguments have an air of "Alice in Wonderland" about them. To the degree that historical-critical analysis functions like a solvent to remove the dross of overworked exegesis that is wedded to inerrancy, more power to it. Christians ought to welcome historical-critical analysis for the light that it does shed on the Bible. Why should we remain in ignorance (about the Bible, and how it came to be)? Surely God does not want that for us. The tricky thing with historical-critical analysis is to know when it's done all it can reasonably do, so we can move beyond it (while not forgetting what we learn from it). Because when we overuse it, it can turn even those biblical passages that resemble hard rock candy jawbreakers into pea soup (solvents just keep dissolving, indiscriminately – it's up to us to know when to stop applying them).

I think a similar process is in play with creationists, who literally believe that the earth is about 6,000 years old. Christians ought to welcome science for the light that it does shed on nature. Why should we remain in ignorance (about nature)? Surely God does not want that for us. The tricky thing with science, once again, is to know when it's done all it can reasonably do, so we can move beyond it (while not forgetting what we learn from it).

What do I mean when I say that we should "move beyond" historical-critical analysis (and science, for that matter)? Perhaps something akin to what Hans Urs von Balthasar meant when, in his great interpretive study of Maximus the Confessor, he wrote (on pp. 308-9) about Scripture in this way (and quoted Maximus):

And just as the world hides God in a revealing way and reveals God in a hidden way, the Scripture is a disguised and confused voice like the rolling of thunder,

which says nothing clearly; it is a kind of voice of the elements. For every word of God that is written down for man is, as long as this age lasts, the precursor of another word, which uses it as an instrument to proclaim itself to the mind in an unwritten, intellectual way, and which, in the age to come, will be revealed in a more perfect form. As it is proclaimed, it bears truth within itself, but does not show it in an unveiled, naked way.

Or, again, as when Maximus wrote in his Centuries on Theology (second century, from sections 74 and 75):

It is by means of the more lofty conceptual images that the inner principle of Holy Scripture can be stripped gradually of the complex garment of words with which it is physically draped. Then to the visionary intellect – the intellect which through the total abandonment of its natural activities is able to attain a glimpse of the simplicity that in some measure discloses this principle – it reveals itself as though in the sound of a delicate breeze. ...

For an understanding of Scripture that does not go beyond the literal meaning, and a view of the world that relies exclusively on sense-perception, are indeed scales, blinding the soul's visionary faculty and preventing access to the pure Logos of truth.

"... it reveals itself as though in the sound of a delicate breeze." The greatest film directors, such as Tarkovsky and Ozu, have understood this mode of revealing very well.

But if words like these sound altogether too "mystical" to control, and the first thing that leaps to your mind is the danger of theological speculation, then perhaps nothing I might say would assuage your fears (which I acknowledge are not without basis). Still, I wonder where this spiritual timidity in so many of us Christians comes from, and if it is truly necessary. It's as though we imagine that "the way" is like a one-inch wide board fence, the top of which we must tread with the strictest possible adherence (to orthodoxy), leaving no room for deviation – the slightest of which would send us tumbling headlong into perdition. I guess that's one way to try to "control" people. In a different spiritual tradition from Christianity, Shunryu Suzuki took a wider view of the matter, and we all might learn something – and to be less controlling, spiritually – from him:

Even though you try to put people under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.

And a few centuries before Jesus of Nazareth was born, Chuang Tzu was not afraid to address his hearers this way:

I'm going to try speaking some reckless words and I want you to listen to them recklessly.

If we tried listening to the word of God a little more recklessly, perhaps we might actually come nearer to that "inner principle of Holy Scripture" which Maximus had in mind when he wrote about "the intellect which through the total abandonment of its natural activities [i.e. recklessly?] is able to attain a glimpse of the simplicity that in some measure discloses this principle."

Edited by tenpenny, 12 May 2011 - 09:07 PM.


#77 Ryan H.

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 09:52 PM

A passage that places so much emphasis on 1st day, 2nd day, etc., is somehow not chronological????!!!

Well, the "literary framework" view has many different varieties, but some would understand the emphasis on the days as a way of evoking temple dedication ceremonies, a passage that essentially paints the poetic picture of the world as God's temple. Other close cousins, like the point of view put forward by John Walton, who keeps the idea of God speaking on days, but suggests the text isn't actually about material creation at all (he bases his argument primarily on a revised understanding of the word bara).

Personally, I've always been struck by the common ground shared by Genesis 1 and Egyptian creation myths--there are stronger connections between the two, I'd argue, than there are between Genesis 1 and other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths--and am interested in exploring Genesis 1 as a polemic against Egyptian myth.

The phrase "the earth" occurs five separate times in Gen. 2:4-6, but you both want to maintain that the chapter is not about the earth?

The word that is sometimes translated as "earth" can also be translated as "land" or "territory," depending on context. See, for example, the words selected by the ESV, which translates the word as "land," with the option for "open country" suggested in footnotes. I'm not necessarily arguing they're right to approach it from that POV--the ESV's word choice strikes me as a bit inconsistent in these passages--but it's nevertheless out there.

In the end, inerrantists shred the text to chop suey in order to maintain their preconceptions. I'd just rather shred my preconceptions and take the text as I find it.

Let's face it, historical-critical research has generally been more interested in what the text was than what the text is.

Edited by Ryan H., 12 May 2011 - 10:04 PM.


#78 mrmando

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 11:28 PM

Well, the "literary framework" view has many different varieties, but some would understand the emphasis on the days as a way of evoking temple dedication ceremonies, a passage that essentially paints the poetic picture of the world as God's temple. Other close cousins, like the point of view put forward by John Walton, who keeps the idea of God speaking on days, but suggests the text isn't actually about material creation at all (he bases his argument primarily on a revised understanding of the word bara).

Are such views attractive to inerrantists, though? I suppose there may be some exceptions, but I figure most people who want to argue for inerrancy would also prefer a reading of these texts that is literal to some degree.

Let's face it, historical-critical research has generally been more interested in what the text was than what the text is.

Oh, without a doubt, historical-critical can be just as effective at tearing a text to shreds as inerrantism can. I just prefer to let the edifice of scripture be what it is, rather than try either to chisel off all its rough edges in an effort to resolve contradictions ... or to prise all of its bricks apart in order to make an educated guess at which kind of clay they were made from.

Edited by mrmando, 13 May 2011 - 01:01 AM.


#79 Ryan H.

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 06:16 AM

Are such views attractive to inerrantists, though? I suppose there may be some exceptions, but I figure most people who want to argue for inerrancy would also prefer a reading of these texts that is literal to some degree.

In my experience, these views are relatively popular--or at least part of the open discussion, without outright dismissal--among inerrantists of a not-so-deeply fundamentalist stripe. After all, many definitions of inerrancy allow for genre to inform how we understand what the text does and doesn't suggest.

#80 SDG

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 08:41 AM

Well, the "literary framework" view has many different varieties, but some would understand the emphasis on the days as a way of evoking temple dedication ceremonies, a passage that essentially paints the poetic picture of the world as God's temple.

Are such views attractive to inerrantists, though? I suppose there may be some exceptions, but I figure most people who want to argue for inerrancy would also prefer a reading of these texts that is literal to some degree.

I would call myself an inerrantist -- though I'd have to unpack what that means -- and I would say the "literary framework" theory is a very attractive way of reading Genesis 1.

But an inerrantist has to maintain that both chapters are written by the same author — who apparently gives great attention to a strict, ordered chronology in ch. 1, and then goes off his meds in ch. 2, since the chapters don't have a prayer of being reconciled unless you assume that ch. 2 is completely non-linear.

This is not what I understand to be required by an inerrantist view of scripture.

Are such views attractive to inerrantists, though? I suppose there may be some exceptions, but I figure most people who want to argue for inerrancy would also prefer a reading of these texts that is literal to some degree.

In my experience, these views are relatively popular--or at least part of the open discussion, without outright dismissal--among inerrantists of a not-so-deeply fundamentalist stripe. After all, many definitions of inerrancy allow for genre to inform how we understand what the text does and doesn't suggest.

Exactly.