Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What God Hath Joined...

I saw a bumper sticker today. It looked something like this:

What God has joined together
I support gay marriage
Well...I couldn't get the fonts and sizes to work the way I wanted them to, but you get the idea. I thought whoever created the sticker, as well as those who paste it to their bumpers, assume a lot considering they have no Biblical justification to believe that God would have anything to do with the joining of two people of the same sex. It assumes they know His mind in a way for which I am often chastised. Of course when I state something I believe God would do, think, say or whatever, I at least can back it up Scripturally. I guess it's OK if someone wants to proclaim that they support what the Bible would indicate is totally out of the question. But to suggest that God would take part in such a thing is really assuming a bit much. In fact, it's quite absurd based on all the Bible says about the subject of marriage and sexuality. But it's the world in which we live and for those who are determined to do whatever they want, it is necessary to get as many people believing as they do as to whether or not a behavior is right or wrong. Even if it means rewriting the Bible.

116 comments:

Feodor said...

Speaking of rewriting the Bible, it is, in fact, lengthy study of Holy Scriptures that teaches faith communities that life in communion with the living God often means rethinking the meaning - "rewriting" - how we understand the nature of God.

Why, even in the first two chapters of Genesis we have a rewritten creation story. With Noah we have a new covenant with God, only to have it rewritten under Abram, whose own name is then rewritten. When that covenant is irrevocably broken, God renews an understanding symbolized by the Second Temple. The Incarnation, of course, is sacred history being rewritten. Then Paul understands that the whole Jew/Gentile thing has to be rewritten.

The Bible, not being one extended single book, but a compendium of historically different orientations of relationship with God... is itself a witness to rewriting.

Tah Daah! I love it when a plan comes together.

Edwin Drood said...

Life in communion with the living God does not mean rethinking the meaning. Man "rewriting" how we understand the nature of God makes no sense since the nature of God does not change. I concede that mans understanding of God changes as proven by your ridiculous second paragraph and the bumper sticker in question, but that does not mean man's understanding of God is correct, especially when it is influenced by political and secular agendas such as gay marriage.

The Bible while a collection of different books is inspired by the same unchanging God. That same unchanging God defined marriage once and only once, and that was between a man and a woman.

Just because you re-wrote the creation story doesn't change the way it really happened. I'll take the Lords version over yours


What is with your assertion that God covenant with Noah (no more world wide floods) and God's covenant with Abraham (father a nation) are any way in conflict?



pretty lame attempt Feodor

Edwin Drood said...

@Feodor

Not to get off topic but why did you choose your screen name after the Russian czar that was mentally retarded. If it's your actual first name then I apologize.

Bubba said...

The difference can hardly be overstated, between the idea of progressive revelation and corrective revelation.

It's quite clear which of the two Christ taught. In Matthew 5:17-18, He both affirmed Scripture to the smallest penstroke and claimed to fulfill Scripture.

Marshall Art said...

Feodor,

It's plain that what YOU would consider "rethinking" the meaning of how we understand God differs greatly from most people who believe. For you, it's the loopholes you need to recreate God in your own image. Why, even in the first two chapters of Genesis we have two versions of creation that are not necessarily an example of rewriting, but simply a different telling of the same story. YOU would say that there has been a re-writing. Most people aren't so totally perplexed by the variation.

As for the whole of the Bible, from start to finish we find not a rewriting, but the bringing of God's Will into sharper focus so people like yourself won't be so confused. Yet unfortunately, confusion runs rampant in your addled mind. How sad. Keep studying. I'm pullin' for ya.

Bubba said...

Soon to be out of pocket for the weekend, Marshall, but I *AM* working on a lengthy email.

In the meantime, I think the most galling thing about that bumper sticker is that it alludes to Matthew 19:6, of which the immediate context precludes their position of support for gay marriage.

"Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." - Mt 19:4-6

Pointing back to Genesis and man's very creation, Jesus Christ teaches about the permanence of marriage by asserting God's will for marriage as the union of man and woman.

To allude to this particular passage -- "what God has joined together" -- to support what the passage logically precludes requires an astounding amount of ignorance or chutzpah.


I would have loved the opportunity to discuss the issue with whoever displayed that bumper sticker, because I do believe that ignorance -- being uninformed or misinformed -- can be addressed.

The willful deceit of stealth radicalism is another matter entirely.

Feodor said...

"the nature of God does not change..." Hmmmm.

Well, Ed, if we are to believe that the Bible is a perfect - though not complete - apprehension of God, then it does seem God's nature changes. Or at least his mind.

Compare Genesis 6: 5-7 with Genesis 8:21.

And, apparently, God is so feeble minded, God needed to remind himself... 9:16
___________________

So, Marshall, you don't see a problem between Genesis 1 with the creation order of plants, animals, then humankind ("adam") - eventually split into male ("zakar") and female ("neqebah")...

and...

Genesis 2 where the order of creation is a male, plants, animals, then a woman?

Just how do you change the text to make it agree?

Marshall Art said...

Bubba,

Mere moments before I read your last, I was thinking of how I would have liked to talk with the person who's car bore the sticker. I wonder how that might have played out. Would they actually engage in a respectful, intellectual discussion, sincerely seeking to understand the other side, or would they just scream "HOMOPHOBE!!!!" and take off?

Marshall Art said...

Feodor,

I laughed when you posed your questions, but then I thought, "He's probably not joking." So here's my response:

Gen 6:5-7 vs Gen 8:21

Where's the contradiction? Where's the change of nature? I your wife truly loves you and you cheat on her, she'll be pissed. Has her nature changed because now she's pissed? And if you make amends to her satisfaction, has her nature again changed? Of course not. She's the same person and the dynamic between you has changed. More to the point, you changed by cheating and the change in YOU altered the dynamic so that her relationship with you changed to reflect your idiotic move.

So it was with God in those two areas of Genesis. His nature never changed throughout it all. And because He wiped out everything once, what makes you think that deciding never to do it again suggests a change of nature? In reality, Gen8:21 says nothing about destroying man specifically, but only never cursing the ground or not destroying all living creatures as I have done. He could do it another way.

Gen 9:16

This is just your own arrogance. You dishonor God by your flippant comment, just as if you took His name in vain. By saying He will remember (to Noah) is to suggest that Noah remember as well.

As for the creation stories, I don't need to change anything to make it agree since it doesn't contradict each other.

Gen 2:8 says that the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.

The garden was there first. It goes on to say in verse 15 "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." It was already there for Adam to work it.

The real difference is only in the fact that Chapter 2 deals with and focusses on the creation of man apart from the rest of creation. To see it as a contradiction of Gen 1, or a rewriting is a tired ploy used by those who need to have the Bible be something less than perfect (in the sense of having no real authority) so as to re-create God in one's own image and likeness in order to justify beliefs and behaviors not really sanctioned by the Bible and thus by God.

You can easily find more extensive explanations for alleged Biblical discrepencies and contradictions throughout the internet. But then you'll be forced to make real decisions about what it means to follow God/Christ. Good luck with that.

Feodor said...

Good grief, Marshall! I find it hard to believe you truly read the Bible; it seems to me you rather just pick at it.

Read Genesis 2:4-7 before you write more idiocy.

Dan Trabue said...

Are some here saying they disagree with the notion of progressive revelation? I wonder what you do with Jesus' instruction...

"You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

As I'm sure you know, when "an eye for an eye" was given as a rule, the common practice for harm was to retaliate with even more harm. If a man from one family killed a man from another family, the offended family would often sweep in and wipe out SEVERAL men in retaliation.

"An eye for an eye" was a way to stop that violence and try to keep the response in kind to the offense. It was actually an act of peacemaking, in that society.

However, Jesus took that notion of peacemaking even further saying, NO! NOT an 'eye for an eye,' but turn the other cheek, instead. Overcome evil with good, leave the issue of retaliation to God.

In short, Jesus re-wrote the OT rule with a new, improved rule that was to obeyed rather than the old rule. It seems to me that this would be a pretty clear example of progressive revelation.

How do you take it?

Marshall Art said...

Feodor,

I don't write idiocy. That's what YOU'RE here for. Perhaps instead of playing the comedic role of exasperated scholar (pardon me while I guffaw), you could just try being a real human being and stating your case. I did read Gen 2 and found your comments stupid. Tell me why I'm wrong instead of playing your games. You've never shown any reason why I should consider you intelligent, so you're wasting your time trying to convince me or anyone else with merely posing. Some intelligent comment would do better.

Edwin Drood said...

One thing I like about these blogs is I get to find out what the liberal buzz words are for re-writting the Bible to meet your political and secular world view. The term of the day is "progressive revelation". We can put that right after "Social Justice".

Dan Trabue said...

So, what IS it when the Bible speaks about justice for the poor and oppressed and foreigner and widows and orphans, as the Bible does more than just about any other topic?

What IS it when Jesus explains away OT rules, saying there's an even better understanding now?

Clearly, Jesus set aside the OT rule - an eye for an eye - in favor of "turn the other cheek," right? Clearly, Jesus set aside the OT rule - don't eat shrimp or pork, it is an abomination! - in favor of "it's what comes OUT of a person that makes them clean" - what's your term for such changes?

Dan Trabue said...

For what it's worth, the first time I ever heard the term "progressive revelation," it was from a conservative who used the term to describe why God in the OT would command people to kill innocent men, women and children, while God would NOT do so today.

Many conservative faith groups and individuals teach progressive revelation. It is particularly popular among supporters of Dispensational Theology...

Progressive revelation means that God reveals the Truth to us, but He doesn't do so in an instant. Rather, He does so progressively. He didn't just send His Son to us right after the sin of Adam. Rather, He spoke to us through the prophets first. So, man's knowledge about God progresses, until the entire Bible is completed, and at last we can see the whole picture. Progressive revelation is necessary for us because we have become totally depraved after the fall of Adam. Our understanding of the Bible would be very twisted if God did not start to teach us from the basics. Special revelation is progressive rather than instant because God wants to lay down the most important principles first, and then slowly give us the details...


source

Edwin Drood said...

Thats all fine and good so long as you only take it from Geniuses to Revelation any further and you're the one rewriting Gods revelation.

Examples of "progressive revelation" are: "eye for an eye. . .", plural marriage vs monogamy and no more unclean food [for the jews]. What these and any I may have missed are they were explicitly stated.

The idea that homosexually is suddenly Ok is an invention of secular man not God as God never explicitly reversed this law.

Even in the later days of the young NT church Paul inspired by God explicitly re-enforced the sin of homosexuality.

I know you want homosexuality to be a good thing, but thats your will not Gods. My advice is stick to Gods revelation, throwout your own and maybe when Jesus returns you can suggest it.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

First of all, I have no problem with the concept of "progressive revelation" per se. But what I think is more accurate, is that throughout the Bible, as I suggested earlier, God's Will is brought in to sharper focus, as it were. That is, for example, when Jesus speaks of an eye for an eye, His point was to draw his followers in to the real goal, which is to be more forgiving and cool with each other. But that was always the point. The rules of the game in the earlier days was a means of ratcheting down the savage aspects of mankind's way, mankind's nature. But God's nature never changed. He always wanted the two main things (to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves). If we focus on the main things, we find that nothing was re-written, only more sharply defined. "Eye for an eye" type rules were never the main things to begin with.

In short, none of this proves a change in the nature of God, but only a slow, steady "progress" toward a solid understanding (for us) of what was always meant to be. It's the difference between rules for infants, then toddlers, then grade schooler, high schoolers up to adults within a family. The main rules of the household (or parents) do not truly ever change, but aren't quite absolutely the same for all ages.

If anything, we find that Jesus tightens the rules so that merely hating is the same as killing, lusting is the same as adultery. But the whole time, how we were to think of our enemies and women not our wives never differed. First we were told not to murder, then we were told not to hate, finally we were told to love everyone all the time. But from the first, the plan was to love everyone all the time just as God loves all of us. Not really re-writing, or changing the rules---just making them more clear.

Feodor said...

I'm beginning to think that Marshall is right: we are a lot smarter and holier than Adam, Moses, Abraham, and David. They could never understand.

So God did not tell them.

He's a bright boy, no?

But Edwin caps the growth with St. Paul. We can't be smarter than Paul because then we would be smarter and holier than than the last third of the Bible. Wouldn't want that to happen, because then God would be telling us things not sanctioned by Holy Scripture... and God knows that even he cannot do that.

Still... we're a lot smarter than two thirds of scripture. Not bad.

We're bright boys, no?

Progressive revelation... all the way to the birth of the Roman Imperial period. Then it has to drop dead in order to keep me theologically comfortable.

(Surely there's no unconscious anti-Semitic Christian arrogance here, right? After all, some of my best friends are Jews. Like St. Paul.)

Feodor said...

Marshall, you brazen liar, I know you can read Genesis 2 just like you can read Locke and see clearly where your wrong. But your'e not a man with that craven heart of yours... you're too cheap.

Genesis 2:4ff...

When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth... the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground...

Genesis 1:12...

The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Marshall Art said...

"I'm beginning to think that Marshall is right: we are a lot smarter and holier than Adam, Moses, Abraham, and David. They could never understand."

Where did I ever make this statement? I may have said that there is no one who is less intelligent than Feodor, or that there is no one who is not smarter or holier than Feodor, but I never made such a comparison between people of today and people of ancient times. Suggesting that I have is what some might call "a brazen lie".

So again, Feodor demonstrates his singular inability to make an intelligent comment. In his desperate attempts to appear clever, he only proves again to be the fool.

He does so again in his next comment where he calls ME a liar without demonstrating that I actually might be one. He does not provide any evidence that I might possess a craven heart or that I might be cheap in any way.

Feodor is obviously a proponent of the Documentary Hypothesis Theory and like others of that kind believes himself to be more enlightened, more sophisticated, more intellectual in his understanding of Scripture. Once again, he needs these things to be true in order to justify his craven beliefs about what God may or may not now consider sinful.

It's clear that the focus of each chapter is different. Chapter 1 focuses on the chronology of Creation. Chapter 2 on the creation of man. It is not an overall look at Creation, but a focussed look at a mere piece of it. The point being that it isn't a case of two Creation stories, the second being a re-writing of the first, but two different stories altogether, the second being a more detailed look at the creation of man.

Try again.

Feodor said...

"Where did I ever make this statement?"

"First of all, I have no problem with the concept of "progressive revelation" per se. But what I think is more accurate, is that throughout the Bible, as I suggested earlier, God's Will is brought in to sharper focus, as it were... First we were told not to murder, then we were told not to hate, finally we were told to love everyone all the time."

As if Abraham or Moses of David and all Israel could not understand love and so God wouldn't give them the message of love.

That's not even the presentation of the Old Testament. The reason the notion of "progressive revelation" gives you problems is that it is an arrogant concept arising from a severe need to make historical sense of a God trapped in and by a literal text.

Your whole spiritual approach is sick with poor thinking and rigid coldness.

Feodor said...

If this passage from Genesis 2 is not concerned with chronology, then what the hell are the words, "when" and "yet" and then "now" (in verse 8) doing there?

Willful blindness is pretty good evidence for a craven heart. Pitiful.

Marshall Art said...

"Your whole spiritual approach is sick with poor thinking and rigid coldness."

Well, if it helps you to feel superior to believe this unsupported delusion, then by all means, suit yourself. How sad it must be to crave such attention as you do yet not get it. You pathetic little boy.

I don't know that I've said anything that any normal, reasonable person would take as a slight on any of the ancient persons you've listed. However, it seems nothing God has done or said has lead to any understanding of His message in YOUR sad soul. In addition, I know I've said nothing that suggests trouble understanding the notion of "progressive revelation". Again, you're obviously stroking your own desperate ego in your frantic attempt to prove I'm your inferior.

What should be of greater concern for you is your disconnect between what Scripture says about who God is and what you insist you think He is in order to justify your unBiblical desires and beliefs. To remind those like yourself so badly deluded that His Will has been faithfully recorded regarding various issues we now encounter is not entrapping Him within the pages of the Book, but rather an acknowledgement that He has already spoken. The notion that "God Is Still Speaking" is only true because we have His Word so faithfully recorded, not because self-aggrandizing progressive losers like yourself pretend you know He's said something He never has.

But getting back to the point, you have yet to establish that anything was re-written or that anything demonstrates a change in the nature of God. My position is that everything said early on has remained but clarified. (I'll let you pretend otherwise since the laws regarding shellfish are no longer binding on us.) As for Abe, Moses and the rest, I don't think they are the only people with whom God concerned Himself. Do you?

continuing---

Marshall Art said...

Regarding Chapter 2, you're making assumptions that belie your claims of education. This bit from an article by a guy named Wayne Jackson resolves the issue well:

Order of Creation: Plants and Man

Genesis 1 and 2 are said to contradict each other in the relative creation-order of plants and man. In chapter 1, it is argued, plants were created on the third day of the initial week (11-12), and man was made on the sixth day (26ff), whereas in chapter 2, plants and herbs seem not to appear until after the formation of man (5ff). The real problem exists only in the mind of the critic. There are a couple of possible ways to resolve the alleged difficulty.

(1) Some suggest that in Genesis 1, the original creation of the botanical world is in view, while in Genesis 2 the emphasis is upon the fact that plant reproduction had not commenced, for as yet there was not sufficient moisture, nor a cultivator of the ground, which factors are remedied in verses 6-7.

(2) Others argue that entirely different matters are in view in these respective accounts. In Genesis 1:11-12 vegetation in general is under consideration, but in Genesis 2:5ff the writer is discussing the specific sort of vegetation that requires human cultivation. It has been observed “that the words rendered plant, field and grew, never occur in the first chapter, they are terms expressive of the produce of labour and cultivation; so that the historian evidently means, that no cultivated land and no vegetables fit for the use of man were yet in existence on the earth”.

(3) Another view is that Genesis 2:5 does not refer to the condition of the earth at large; rather, the writer is simply discussing the preparation of the beautiful garden in which man was to live. In any event, we must stress this point: Whenever there is the possibility of legitimate reconciliation between passages which superficially appear to conflict, no contradiction can be charged fairly!


The point is that to consider the two chapters to be two versions of the same event, as opposed to, as I suggested, two separate bits with the second a detailed look at a part of the first, is erroneous.

Feodor said...

Wayne, huh?

Yeah, you've got a hold of something there.

So which is it, Marshall, door number 1, 2, or 3? And let me add that all three seem exceptionally life expanding. Unfortunately only one can be correct given that the Bible is what it is: a "faithful recording" of the Great Crooner himself.

Which one, though? Salvation depends upon being right. So, why the lack of clarity from... Wayne?

Dan Trabue said...

Edwin said...

Thats [sic] all fine and good so long as you only take it from Geniuses [sic] to Revelation [sic] any further and you're the one rewriting Gods revelation.

I'm wondering: It appears that you and Marshall agree that God had at least SOME progressive revelation moving from early biblical history, through the OT, into the NT. Clearly, what WAS wrong in the OT - at least sometimes (eating shrimp, wearing polyester...) was no longer wrong in the NT and what WAS right in the OT (an eye for an eye, for instance) - was no longer right in the NT.

So, what I'm wondering is, do you have any biblical reason to suggest that while God engaged in progressive revelation in the Bible, that it "ended at Revelation?" Some Bible verse that clearly says that our understanding of things (or our ability to better understand things) won't continue to get better?

If there is no biblical reason to hold your position, why would you hold it?

Marshall Art said...

Feodor, you ignorant slut,

You once again mock the author rather than address the point. So typical of one who poses as an intellectual without having a real intellect. The point, you base fool, is that Gen 2 is not a an account of Creation in the way the Gen 1 is. It's focus is on something else. It isn't meant to convey the chronology of what happened first in the order of Creation. If you can't handle that, that's just too bad. But to misrepresent my position on what is or isn't necessary for salvation is unnecessary and shows a total lack of honor as well as a desperate attempt to lash out on your better. I've made no argument as to what I believe about which of the three possibilities I've offered. I've only offered them to show that the complaint losers like yourself have about what you think is a contradiction between the two chapters is a lame one. I've done my job and you, like a tantrum-throwing child, are merely stomping your little feet. Grow up.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You're asking for Biblical explanation for something that happens after the Bible was written? You have offered no such explanation for the countering opinion, have you? "Progressive revelation" explains what happens within the Bible, not what is happening now. There is no "Biblical explanation" to indicate that it means the ancients couldn't have been given the same instruction of the NT, but only that they weren't.

For example, there was no "progressive revelation" that lead to the elimination from slavery for most of the western world, because there was no mandate or instruction that suggested God was down with slavery to begin with. He never condoned slavery, He only regulated it. Again, the idea to love one's neighbor as one's self was always part of the prime directive.

But if we concede the PR means that we "rethink" God's Will or that our understand expands as we evolve as human beings and children of God, there's nothing to indicate that we can change the status of any behavior from sinful to accepted. There's never been any such change to date. Dietary regulations are not the same as behavioral regulations. Methods of atonement are not the same as the sins for which we are to atone.

And if our understanding of things can improve, there has been no evidence of such regarding homosexual behavior as regards any portion of Scripture pertaining to it or marriage. There has only been incredibly weak attempts to make verses say what they don't say in order justify a human desire to change what a human has not the authority to change.

Bubba said...

Dan, you seem intent on commenting on what I write.

In your first comment in this thread, you ask, "Are some here saying they disagree with the notion of progressive revelation?"

Up to that point, the only person who mentioned the term was me, so your allusion to "some here" doesn't hide the fact at all that you decided to address my comment, out of the blue and apropos of absolutely nothing.


About "progressive revelation," I have no problem affirming what meant by the term as used by theologically conservative theologians: I agree that God revealed His word over the centuries and not all-at-once.

What I dispute is your bastardization of the term, including the idea that Jesus "set aside" or "explains away" passages of the Old Testament.

THAT is more accurately described as a belief in CORRECTIVE revelation, and the Bible simply doesn't support that belief.


There are three things in Matthew 5 that point decisively against the notion that Christ was discarding OT Scripture.

1) His affirmation of Scripture to the smallest penstroke, in 5:17-18.

2) The fact that the teachings He disputed in 5:21, 5:27, 5:31, 5:33, 5:38, and 5:44, were not limited to what was actually contained in Scripture.

"Love your neighbor and hate your enemy" (5:44) isn't actually found ANYWHERE in the Bible: the first clause is from Lev 19:18, but the second clause in an extra-scriptural addition. It's even an anti-scriptural addition, as it violates the law's clear intent of charitable treatment toward one's enemy as well as one's brother (cf. Deut 22:4 and Ex 23:4-5).

Going by the text of what Jesus disputes, it seems at least possible that His problem was with certain oral interpretations and extrapolations of the text, and NOT the text itself. This is even more likely in light of...

3) The fact that the teachings Jesus disputed weren't apparently from the written text, by His own description of them.

Look at Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 4:10, 21:13, and 26:31.

In each passage, Jesus quotes Scripture, and how does He introduce Scripture?

"IT IS WRITTEN."

That formulation simply is not used to describe the six teachings that Jesus disputes in Matthew 5. Instead, He says, "You have heard" or "It was said."

These are clear allusions to oral teachings.


Dan, Christ's own affirmation earlier in the sermon makes it unlikely that Jesus was dismissing or "explaining away" OT law: the actual content of what He disputed and how He introduced those disputed teachings points far more strongly in the direction of oral tradition, not written Scripture.

It seems to me that what Jesus disputed wasn't the OT law of lex talionis (proportional punishment, "eye for an eye") but rather THE ORAL INTERPRETATION which applied the principle to personal vendettas.

In other words, Jesus didn't deny that "eye for an eye" is a good principle: His teaching leads to the conclusion ONLY that the principle ought to be limited to the legal system.

I've pointed this out before, but if you really think that "eye for an eye" has been completely replaced by "turn the other cheek," then you must believe that Jesus was, effectively, an anarchist.

You must believe that Jesus forbids even the state from enforcing the law: laws are thus merely suggestions, and the state cannot prosecute those who break the law, much less use violent force to arrest them and ensure their imprisonment.

Feodor said...

On my "better"? Better get a bucket.

No, Marsha, you've resorted to smoke and mirrors - and not even your own at that - not to offer any reasoned argument that constructs a possibility of meaning. No, that takes stand-up chops which you don't have. All you've done is ape a slight of hand suggestion that it could other things. That you and your Johnson can't pick one infers that no option has any rationale for its argument, simply a rationale for letting you out of dealing in the rational.

Cheap, craven, cowardly weak sauce, blowhard.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

You have offered no such explanation for the countering opinion, have you? "Progressive revelation" explains what happens within the Bible, not what is happening now.

So, you're saying that WITHIN the Bible, it was God's NATURE to progressively reveal God's Self and God's Will to people. But, at 33 AD, God's nature changed, and God QUIT progressively revealing God's nature and will to people??

I thought you were arguing AGAINST God's nature changing. Which is it?

For my part, I will gladly admit that there are no biblical verses of which I'm aware that state outrightly that God has progressively revealed God's Self to us. We infer that, you and I, from fairly evident scriptures.

I'm just wondering why you'd think that God could no longer progressively reveal God's self to us now? In ongoing new settings and new cultures, why WOULDN'T God do what God has always done in the Bible? Do you have any verse to suggest that God has quit doing what God did for the first 6,000 years of Scripture?

You appear to be saying, No. So, why then hold to that position?

Bubba said...

Dan:

On the subject of biblical interpretation, I noticed in passing that you continue to take passages out of their immediate context, in order to make a point that is contradicted by that context.

You've done this with Romans 12-13 in arguing for pacifism, you've done this with I Peter 2 to argue against the causal relationship between Christ's death and our forgiveness, and you've done this with Psalm 106 to argue against the historicity of the Bible's claims that God commanded ancient Israel to wage wars of annihilation.

Most recently, you've quoted I John to justify your own emphasis of orthopraxy over orthodoxy.

You write, "on any given day, John or Craig may disagree with Dan or Calvin or Billy Graham on TULIP or How many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but all of that pales in importance of a simple kind gesture and gracious welcome, as far as our daily life is concerned."

You quote I John 2:9-10, 3:16-18, and you then conclude, "Clearly, on a day to day basis in living out our faith, what we do in love has a much greater impact on what our position on TULIP or Atonement is."

I wonder if you've ever read the entire first letter of John.

In I Jn 1:7, John writes that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin.

In 2:2, he writes that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world.

In 4:10, he writes that God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins: that fact is presented as the driving motivation for our love for each other.

Throughout this letter, John makes clear the importance of both obeying Christ's commands...

"Whoever says, 'I have come to know him,' but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist." - I Jn 2:4

...AND believing certain doctrine about Christ:

"Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son." - I Jn 2:22

"By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world." - I Jn 4:2-4

"God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God." - I Jn 4:15

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - I Jn 5:1

"Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" - I Jn 5:5

I don't believe any honest reading of I John would lead a person to downplay EITHER obedience OR doctrine, so I must wonder: are you really so ignorant of the Scripture you so selectively quote, or do you think your readers are so ignorant as to think you can get away with such shoddy arguments from the text?

[cont]

Bubba said...

[cont]

Even Christ Himself is clear about the importance of certain doctrine. You quote Matthew 25:40...

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "

...but you ignore Matthew 26:28. In the **ONLY** regular observance for His church that He Himself instituted, Jesus Christ didn't teach us anything about what we are to do in obedience to Him, but rather what HE was to do in order to save us -- namely, that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin.

That you downgrade the Lord's Supper from a command of Christ to merely an ancient church tradition tells us all we need to know about how much you affirm all of Jesus' teachings and all of the Bible's claims.


You write, "I'm much more interested in orthopraxy than orthodoxy."

There is an obvious question about whether your frequently hypocritical and often dishonest behavior is consistent with a genuine interest in orthopraxy.

But beyond that, if you love the Bible as much as you say you do, your personal interests really shouldn't matter nearly as much as what the Bible clearly teaches. The Bible clearly teaches about the importance of at least some very specific doctrines, and that should overcome any personal preferences -- at least, it would for the serious student of Scripture.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

you seem intent on commenting on what I write...

Up to that point, the only person who mentioned the term was me, so your allusion to "some here" doesn't hide the fact at all that you decided to address my comment, out of the blue and apropos of absolutely nothing.


Actually, it was a concept (if not term) that Edwin brought up that I was addressing, although I did give it that term that you used, as that term seemed to be the best representation of the idea that Edwin was trying to get across.

So, I was not deliberately striving to comment to you or on your words, but on the concept raised by Edwin. Sorry if that was not clear.

I will address your question to me, then quit again.

Bubba...

That formulation simply is not used to describe the six teachings that Jesus disputes in Matthew 5. Instead, He says, "You have heard" or "It was said."

These are clear allusions to oral teachings.


Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

The reference "an eye for an eye" is not a reference to an oral tradition, but to several commands from God found in the OT. For instance...

[God speaking] "These are the laws you are to set before them...

...if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise..."


~Exodus 21

or...

Then the LORD said to Moses...

Say to the Israelites...

If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.


~Leviticus 24

For instance.

God COMMANDED Israel clearly and unequivocally to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand. Jesus and his listeners all knew that this was GOD'S COMMAND to the Israeli people. BUT, Jesus said in so many words...

No. NOT that law. I'm setting aside that law. Here's the new law: Turn the other cheek.

Jesus abolished OT laws about how we treat offenders, about what foods we can and can't eat and created new laws in their place. Different laws.

Some Christians refer to his reality as progressive revelation. I'm not entirely sure that I agree with the concept, but it's at least a relatively reasonable way of explaining how God appears to have changed God's mind.

And, returning to my question to Marshall, if you accept that God changes God's mind, tells one people at one time one thing and another people at another time something different, contradictory, even - if that is God's nature as found in the Bible, why would we assume God's nature has changed?

Feodor said...

Bubba is blowing hard about obedience and doctrine in the Gospel of John.

What are the commandments we are to obey?

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:10-12

"This is my command: Love each other." 15:17

Pretty simple... and nothing about shrimp... or anal sex. verse

What are the doctrines? Bubba names it himself. Simply that we believe that Jesus has been sent from God.

""Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." 17:25,26

Pretty simple stuff. Love. Christ is from God.

But then the whole progressive revelation gets a boost:

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." 16:13

Now, I'd have to say that if there's more to learn post-Son of God, and that the medium for learning more about God and heaven and his Christ is through the Holy Spirit, then I don't see how the mere end of the canon of scripture can possibly contain the greater and greater vision of the glory of God that fills the entire scope of the life of the Church through the ages until the end of time.

In fact, by faith, I'd say that positing the end of revelation with the last word of the last NT book written - which, of course, we are unaware of which one that is - is heresy.

Feodor said...
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Feodor said...
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Bubba said...

Dan, I appreciate the clarification.


On the substance, you write, "The reference 'an eye for an eye' is not a reference to an oral tradition, but to several commands from God found in the OT."

You say this, but notice that Jesus didn't introduce the reference with "it is written."

Look at your own quote of that passage.

"Jesus said, 'You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.' "

"YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID."

That's not the sort of thing that points to a passage in a text, but clearly to oral tradition.


I reiterate that if you REALLY think that Jesus is completely setting aside the OT law regarding lex talionis, then you must believe Jesus was an anarchist, de facto if not de jure.

You must also have some implausible re-interpretation of Matthew 5:17-18, to conclude that Jesus is now doing what He IMMEDIATELY ruled out of bounds -- that Jesus in fact DID come to abolish the law, and that He DOESN'T affirm Scripture to the smallest penstroke.

"Jesus abolished OT laws about how we treat offenders, about what foods we can and can't eat and created new laws in their place. Different laws."

Ahem.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished."

Feodor said...

Blogger is having spiritual demons.

Dan Trabue said...

To address this last point by Bubba, this poor Bible reader would say that the last passages that Bubba points to (I have come not to abolish but to fulfill) IS an argument in support of progressive revelation, seems to me. I mean, how do we reconcile these passages?

First Jesus said, "You know that law in the OT about 'eye for an eye?' That's not valid any more. I have a NEW rule for you now..." and then Jesus says, "But, all the same, I didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it..."

How do we reconcile the abolishing of the law and the promise that he hadn't come to abolish the law but fulfill it? I reconcile it (and I'm just a poor idiot, so take it for what it's worth) by saying...

It SEEMS Jesus is saying he did not come to abolish the law. That is NOT his purpose in coming. His purpose is to FULFILL the law, whatever that may mean. But apparently, at least PART of fulfilling the law is the setting aside of old laws as no longer valid. He didn't come to abolish the law, but at least in some cases that is a side effect of his coming to fulfill it.

I mean, once again, clearly, Jesus HAS abolish (or set aside, or reinterpreted, or taken from and added to our understanding or SOMETHING like that) at least some laws. No one is condemning wearing polyester, or eating shrimp or pork. No one is saying that we ought to seek a literal "eye for an eye" as is commanded in the OT.

We all, de facto, at least, if not de jure, agree that these laws are not in effect any more. That we have a new law of Grace.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

How else would one explain it?

Bubba said...

I doubt many here believe that God has altogether stopped revealing His truth to us, but -- because revelation is progressive but NOT corrective -- what might be further revelation ought to be judged against Scripture.

Scripture isn't the only revelation we now have, but it's the AUTHORITATIVE revelation against which all other candidates are evaluated.

It simply doesn't follow that, because God doesn't change, His dealing with us doesn't change either.


Dan's claim that God is still revealing truth is fine, but not if he invokes this supposed recent revelation to "explain away" or "set aside" or "abolish" what the Bible clearly teaches.

THAT is a betrayal of his stated devotion to the text's teachings, and it's furthermore an unnecessary betrayal if -- as he has claimed in the past -- his rethinking on the subject of "gay marriage" was really the result of careful Bible study.

Bubba said...

Dan, your paraphrase of what Jesus said isn't warranted.

"First Jesus said, 'You know that law in the OT about "eye for an eye?" That's not valid any more. I have a NEW rule for you now...' "

He didn't say anything like that.

He didn't point to what is written.

He pointed to what was spoken: "you have HEARD that it was SAID."


I will say AGAIN that if you really think that Jesus opposed lex talionis completely rather than (as I believe) merely a misapplication of the principle, then you must believe that Jesus was a practical anarchist.

This is THE THIRD TIME I've made this point in this conversation alone; I've made the point numerous times elsewhere, and I don't believe you've ever addressed it adequately.

Feodor said...

Scripture is either sufficiently revelatory or it is not.

For salvation purposes it is sufficient.

But for the purposes of being the church in the world, it is clearly not sufficient. Bubba himself admits that God has had need for revelation after the close of the canon. Therefore, clearly, scripture is not sufficient for God's purposes through the Holy Spirit.

Since scripture is clearly not sufficient, then, logically, it cannot serve as the standard measure of all revelation.

And God forbid placing the Bible above the third person of the Godhead.

But you guys do it everyday.

Dan Trabue said...

You may have made the point a few times, but it's unsupported and I just didn't feel it was worthy of addressing.

You said...

I will say AGAIN that if you really think that Jesus opposed lex talionis completely rather than (as I believe) merely a misapplication of the principle, then you must believe that Jesus was a practical anarchist.

Why? Says who?

Jesus taught that INSTEAD of the OLD law (hurt someone like they've hurt you - and no more) Jesus taught a new law (turn the other cheek). He's not saying that there ought to be no laws or that the gov't ought not have laws, just saying that we have different rules that we live by.

For instance, the Amish take that fairly literally - when they were attacked a year or so ago, they didn't seek an eye for an eye, they turned the other cheek, they forgave. But, neither did they ask the gov't not to do what it would do and follow its own laws. Now, if the gov't DIDN'T exist, they may well not have sought to punish the person who attacked them, but in fact, nearly every where a gov't DOES exist. I don't see how Jesus implementing this new, different rule for his followers is advocating anarchy. You might think so, but I don't.

Do you know of any scholars who actually teach that "an eye for an eye" is NOT a reference to specific OT laws? I will note that the Bible Gateway concordance treats it as a reference to OT law.

Dan Trabue said...

I said...

You may have made the point a few times, but it's unsupported and I just didn't feel it was worthy of addressing.

I just wanted to clarify that I didn't mean that as harshly as it sounds. Just that I didn't consider it all that strong a point on Bubba's part. Sorry for how harsh that sounds.

Marshall Art said...

Feodork,

To say that we place the Bible over the Holy Spirit is unwarranted. What we're saying is that you haven't had any revelations from the Holy Spirit (or at least that's what I'M saying). If you think you have been receiving revelations, you'd need to show why what you received should take precedent over Scripture. To support homosexual marriage, you've got nothing in Scripture to suggest such a change of belief could be supported by the Spirit. That's the whole point I made in the post. You're projecting your own desires onto the Spirit and simply insisting it is a revelation. Pretty lame, but not surprising from a false priest.

As for the three options, any one of them works for me. They all suggest the same thing, that Chapter 2 isn't a chronology of Creation, but is a look at the creation of man. It isn't me that suggests the two chapters need to be reconciled because it isn't me who thinks they contradict each other. So I need no more than I've offered. But YOU need more to prove that they are two separate accounts for the same topic. They aren't.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

"So, you're saying that WITHIN the Bible, it was God's NATURE to progressively reveal God's Self and God's Will to people. But, at 33 AD, God's nature changed, and God QUIT progressively revealing God's nature and will to people??"

Not at all. I'm merely saying the progressive revelation describes how God reveals Himself and His Will throughout the Bible. I didn't make up the term, I only meant that I understood what it means and that I don't necessarily have a problem with it. I'm sure I've stated fairly emphatically that God's nature doesn't change. Mankind's nature does and He changes tactics to deal with it, but He's always the same.

But also important is that the Bible shows HOW His Will is revealed to us. Nowadays, we're expected to believe that some just know certain self-serving things are different because...because what, exactly? Who's receiving the revelations that now contradict that which is revealed in Scripture? No one has re-interpreted anything in Scripture to justify contemporary notions regarding homosexuality. Some have simply made words mean different things, emphasized certain verses without those that follow it, and performed other semantic gymnastics to make Scripture say what it doesn't, and then states that revelations have taken place.

Marshall Art said...
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Feodor said...

"What we're saying is that you haven't had any revelations from the Holy Spirit (or at least that's what I'M saying). If you think you have been receiving revelations, you'd need to show why what you received should take precedent over Scripture."

This: Women are equal spiritual leaders and should take equal spiritual leadership when gifted by God with spiritual gifts.

The Holy Spirit has taught the church this ultimate lesson, aided and abetted by human reason expanding on Enlightenment revelations regarding individual rights.

Contra scripture.

Punto y final.

Feodor said...

And this:

There is nothing essential to skin color and race. But white folks found elaborate scriptural arguments and/or derivative implications as to why darker folks, hotter climate folks, folks from societies outside the historical ideologies of Pax Romana, Latin middle ages, and European Enlightenment are inferior.

The Holy Spirit had a bloody battle on this issue because of stiff-necked Christianity and their skilled facility with using proof texts from scripture that gave the impression of "doctrine."

(Although the impression is pretty well founded. Paul accepted slavery, after all. Another post-biblical doctrinal change arising from "progressive revelation.)

And you guys inherited and commune with that same kind of empty-hearted facility.

Feodor said...

And now you resist the grace of God for another group of believers, despite the clear sign of the Holy Spirit's presence in the many spiritually gifted leaders who, over thousands of years, served and serve the church as homosexual men and women.

Progressive revelation does not seem able to leach into every crevice of Christian refusal and stony faith... some hard hearts never see the Spirit for having their hypocritical noses buried in Holy Scripture where grace-filled revelation has been turned back into legalistic fetish.

Bubba said...

A quick clarification, Feodor.

You write, "Bubba himself admits that God has had need for revelation after the close of the canon. Therefore, clearly, scripture is not sufficient for God's purposes through the Holy Spirit."

I admitted no such thing: I did not say that God "has had need" for further revelation, but merely that He has provided revelation since the close of canon. For instance, I believe the Holy Spirit has called individuals to specific ministries and has warned individuals against otherwise safe-looking career moves.

I DON'T believe that God's written revelation in Scripture is somehow insufficient for doctrine (including key historical claims, past and future) and for those broad ethical principles that have universal application for His church at all places and in all times.

That ought to be clear from my affirmation that the Bible is "the AUTHORITATIVE revelation against which all other candidates are evaluated."



Dan, I appreciate your making clear that your reply wasn't as snarky as it may have first appeared, but I still don't think you see the problematic logical consequences of your position.

"Jesus taught that INSTEAD of the OLD law (hurt someone like they've hurt you - and no more) Jesus taught a new law (turn the other cheek). He's not saying that there ought to be no laws or that the gov't ought not have laws, just saying that we have different rules that we live by."

Never mind whether this teaching is entirely novel: does this "new law" apply to the government, or not?

If it does, then SURE the government can have other laws, but these laws are **PRACTICALLY** unenforceable: the government would not only be forbidden from using force against lawbreakers because of Mt 5:39, it would be forbidden from even PROSECUTING the criminal because of Mt 5:40.

(Notice, "turn the other cheek" is NOT the general principle: it's only one of four given applications of the general principle, "do not resist an evildoer.")

If the "new law" does NOT apply to the government and only applies to Christ's individual followers, as you seem to imply here...

"I don't see how Jesus implementing this new, different rule for his followers is advocating anarchy." [emphasis mine]

...then it seems to me that you ought to be on the same page that I'm on, that Jesus didn't altogether "abolish" the principle of proportional punishment, instead He limited the principle to areas such as the government's system of justice, WHERE IT BELONGS.

Bubba said...

Dan, you ask, "Do you know of any scholars who actually teach that 'an eye for an eye' is NOT a reference to specific OT laws?"

For one, there is John Stott, whose commentary on the Sermon on the Mount has been crucial in my understanding of Matthew 5-7. From what he quotes, it appears that his take on this passage lines up with that of John Calvin.

It may be useful at this point to provide a lengthy excerpt of Stott's commentary, rather than summarize his argument in my own words.

The following is from pp. 76-81 of The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, from InterVarsity Press' excellent series, The Bible Speaks Today.

All boldface emphasis is mine, and unless otherwise indicated, any errors are unintentional and are mine, not from the original text.

----- BEGIN EXCERPT -----

[The rest of Matthew 5] consists of six parallel paragraphs which illustrate the principle Jesus has just propounded in verses 17 to 20 of the perpetuity of the moral law, of his coming to fulfil it and of his disciples' responsibility to obey it more completely than the scribes and Pharisees were doing. Each paragraph contains a contrast or 'antithesis' introduced by the same formula (with minor variations): You have heard that it was said to the men of old... but I say to you... (21, 22).

What is this antithesis? It is clear who the authoritative ego is. But with whom is Jesus contrasting himself? It is essential to consider this question now before, in the next three chapters, we look in greater detail at the six antitheses themselves. Many commentators have maintained that in these paragraphs Jesus is setting himself against Moses; that he is here deliberately inaugurating a new morality, and is contradicting and repudiating the old; and that his introductory formula could be paraphrased 'you know what the Old Testament taught... But I teach something quite different.' Popular as this interpretation is, I do not hesitate to say that it is mistaken. It is more than mistaken; it is untenable. What Jesus is contradicting is not the law itself, but certain perversions of the law of which the scribes and Pharisees were guilty. Far from contradicting the law, Jesus endorses it, insists on its authority and supplies its true interpretation. Four arguments will be sufficient to prove that this is so.

First, there is the substance of the antitheses themselves. At first sight in each instance what Jesus quotes appears to come from the Mosaic law. All six examples either consist of or include some echo of it, e.g., You shall not kill (21), You shall not commit adultery (27), Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce (31). Not until we come to the sixth and last antithesis do we see clearly that something is amiss. For this reads: You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy (43). Now the first half of this sentence is a clear command of the law (Lv. 19:18), although even this is a truncated commandment, omitting the vital words which set the standard of our neighbour-love, namely 'as yourself.' The second half of the sentence, however, is not in the law at all. It comes neither in Leviticus 19:18, nor anywhere else. So here was a contemporary addition to the law, which was intended to interpret it, but in fact distorted it. When we look more closely at the other five antitheses (as we shall in the following chapters), it becomes clear that a similar distortion is implied. It is these distortions of the law which Jesus rejected, not the law itself. After all, the first two antitheses do not read 'It was said "you shall not commit murder and adultery" but I say you may.' Rather, 'but I say you shall not even have angry or lustful thoughts.'

[excerpt continued]

Bubba said...

[excerpt continued]

Second, there is the introductory formula, beginning you have heard that it was said to the men of old (21, 33), or you have heard that it was said (27, 38, 43), or more briefly still, it was also said (31). The words common to these formulae are it was said, which represent the single Greek verb errethe. Now this was not the word which Jesus used when quoting Scripture. When he introduced a biblical quotation, both verb and tense were different, namely gegraptai (perfect, 'it stands written'), not errethe (aorist, 'it was said'). So in the six antitheses what Jesus was contradicting was not Scripture but tradition, not God's word which they had 'read' [Cf 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42: 22:31] but the oral instruction which was given 'to the men of old' and which they too had 'heard' since the scribes continued to give it in the synagogues.

Professor David Daube confirms this from his comprehensive knowledge of rabbinics. The verb 'hear' is associated, he says, with 'the superficial, literal meaning of Scripture.' So in the two parts of the introductory formula, 'the first gives a scriptural rule narrowly interpreted, the second a wider demand made by Jesus.' Again, 'These declarations "Ye have heard -- But I say unto you" are intended to prove Jesus the Law's upholder, not destroyer... it is the revelation of a fuller meaning for a new age. The second member unfolds rather than sweeps away the first.' One might sum it up by saying that in relation to scribal distortions of the law, the term 'antithesis' rightly describes the teaching of Jesus, whereas in relation to the law itself 'exegesis' would be a more accurate word. His quarrel was not over the law, for both the Jewish leaders and he accepted its divine authority, but over its true interpretation.

Thirdly, there is the immediate context. We have already seen that in the verses preceding and introducing the antitheses (17-20) Jesus affirmed in a quite unequivocal way what his own attitude to the law was and what his disciples' ought to be. This was 'fulfillment' in his case and 'obedience' in theirs. Not a dot or iota would pass away; all must be fulfilled. Not one of the least commandments might be disregarded; all must be obeyed. Are we now seriously to suppose that Jesus contradicted himself, that he proceeded at once in his teaching to do what he had just categorically said he had not come to do and they must no do? For this is the dilemma: if in the antitheses Jesus was contradicting Moses, he was thereby contradicting himself. 'Commentators have exhausted their ingenuity,' writes W.C. Allen, 'in attempts to explain away this passage.' He goes on to exercise his own ingenuity by supposing that verses 18 and 19 'did not originally belong to the Sermon, but have been placed here by the editor.' His reason is that in his view 'the attitude to the law here described is inconsistent with the general tenor of the Sermon.' But this is an entirely subjective judgment, and moreover it does not solve the dilemma. All it succeeds in doing is to remove the supposed discrepancy from the teaching of Jesus and attribute it instead either to the first evangelist or through him to some early Christian community. The better way is to accept the statements of verses 17 to 20 as genuine and to demonstrate that they are consistent not only with the Sermon as a whole but with the rest of Jesus' recorded teaching. This brings us to the last argument.

[excerpt continued]

Bubba said...

[excerpt continued]

Fouthly, there is Christ's known attitude to the Old Testament. In the previous chapter Matthew has given an account of his temptations during forty gruelling days in the Judean desert. Each subtle enticement of the devil was countered by an appropriate quotation from Old Testament Scripture. Jesus had no need to debate or argue with the devil. Each issue was settled from the start by a simple appeal to what stood written (gegraptai). And this reverent submission of the incarnate Word to the written word continued throughout his life, not only in his personal behavior but also in his mission. He was resolved to fulfil what was written of him, and could not be deflected from the path which Scripture had laid down for him. So his declaration in Matthew 5:17 that he had come not to abolish but to fulfil the law and the prophets is wholly consistent with his attitude to Scripture elsewhere.

From these four factors it is evident that the antitheses do not set in opposition to each other Christ and Moses, the New Testament and the Old Testament, the gospel and the law, but rather Christ's true interpretation of the law and the scribal misinterpretations, and therefore Christian righteousness and pharisaic righteousness, as verse 19 anticipates.

What, then, were the scribes and Pharisees doing? What were the 'torturous methods,' as Calvin called them, by which they debased the law? In general, they were trying to reduce the challenge of the law, to 'relax' (19) the commandments of God, and so make his moral demands more manageable and less exacting. They found Torah both a yoke and a burden (indeed they called it such), and wanted to make the yoke easier and the burden lighter. How they did it varied according to the form each law took, and in particular whether it was a commandment (either precept or prohibition) or a permission. Four of the six antitheses fall into the category of 'commandment,' the first three of which are negative (forbidding murder, adultery and false swearing) and the last of which is positive (enjoining love for neighbour). These four are clear commands of God either to do or not do something. The remaining two (the fourth and fifth antitheses) are best described as 'permissions.' They do not belong to the same category of moral command as the other four. Both lack the prescriptive words 'You shall' or 'You shall not.' The fourth antithesis concerns divorce, which was never commanded but was permitted in certain circumstances and on certain conditions. The fifth concerns retribution ('an eye for an eye...') which was permitted in the law courts and which restricted to an exact equivalent the penalties which Israelite judges might impose. Thus both these permissions were circumscribed by definite limits.

[excerpt continued]

Bubba said...

[excerpt continued]

What the scribes and Pharisees were doing, in order to make obedience more readily attainable, was to restrict the commandments and extend the permissions of the law. They made the law's demands less demanding and the law's permissions more permissive. What Jesus did was to reverse both tendencies. He insisted instead that the full implications of God's commandments must be accepted without imposing any artificial limits, whereas the limits which God had set to his permissions must also be accepted and not arbitrarily increased. It may be helpful to see the application of these principles to the antitheses in summary before considering them in detail.

The scribes and Pharisees were evidently restricting the biblical prohibitions of murder and adultery to the act alone; Jesus extended them to include angry thoughts, insulting words, and lustful looks. They restricted the command about swearing to certain oaths only (those involving the divine name) and the command about neighbour-love to certain people only (those of the same race and religion); Jesus said all promises must be kept and all people must be loved, without limitations.

But the scribes and Pharisees were not content merely to restrict the commands of the law to suit their convenience; they sought to serve their convenience still further by extending its permissions. Thus they attempted to widen the permission of divorce beyond the single ground of 'some indecency' to include a husband's every whim, and to widen the permission of retribution beyond the law courts to include personal revenge. Jesus, however, reaffirmed the original restrictions. He called divorce on other grounds 'adultery' and insisted in personal relationships on the renunciation of all revenge.

This preliminary look at the antitheses has shown us that Jesus did not contradict the law of Moses. On the contrary, this is in effect what the Pharisees were doing. What Jesus did was rather to explain the true meaning of the moral law with all its uncomfortable implications. He extended the commands which they were restricting and restricted the permissions which they were extending. To him Moses' law was God's law, whose validity was permanent and whose authority must be accepted. In the Sermon on the Mount, as Calvin correctly expressed it, we see Jesus not 'as a new legislator, but as the faithful expounder of a law which had already been given.' The Pharisees had 'obscured' the law; Jesus 'restored it to its integrity.'

And in this matter Christian disciples must follow Christ, not the Pharisees. We have no liberty to try to lower the law's standards and make it easier to obey. That is the casuistry of Pharisees, not Christians. Christian righteousness must exceed pharisaic righteousness.

Yet the advocates of the 'new morality' or 'situational ethic' are in principle trying to do exactly what the Pharisees were doing. True, they claim to take Christ's part against the Pharisees, but they resemble the Pharisees in their dislike of the law. They regard the law as rigid and authoritarian, and (just like the Pharisees) they attempt to 'relax' its authority, to loosen its hold. So they declare the category of law abolished (which Jesus said he had not come to abolish) and they set law and love at variance with each other (in a way in which Jesus never did). No. Jesus disagreed with the Pharisees' interpretation of the law; he never disagreed with their acceptance of its authority. Rather the reverse. In the strongest possible terms he asserted its authority as God's Word written, and called his disciples to accept its true and deeply exacting interpretation.

------ END EXCERPT ------

My own thoughts, in a moment.

Bubba said...

Dan, there are a few very good reasons I find Stott's approach convincing.

1) It accounts for the introductory phrase "it was said," which is clearly different from Christ's use of "it is written" to appeal to Scripture.

2) It accounts for the discrepancy in 5:43, the fact that "hate your enemy" is found NOWHERE in Scripture.

3) It accounts for what Jesus REALLY contradicted in 5:21 and 5:27. QUITE CLEARLY, Jesus Christ wasn't opposed to the prohibitions of murder and adultery.

He didn't contradict "Thou shalt not murder" and "thou shalt not commit adultery."

As is clear from the teaching that immediately follows, what He contradicted was this:

"Thou shalt not murder, but anything short of murder is fine."

"Thou shalt not commit adultery, but anything short of the actual act is fine."

It was those additions He opposed, and those additions are clearly extra- and anti-scriptural interpretations, NOT THE TEXT ITSELF.

4) It coheres quite easily with the plain meaning of Mt 5:17-20.

5) It also coheres with Christ's consistent approach in quoting Scripture as authoritative.

6) Above and beyond all this, it provides a structure that gives an overarching meaning to the ENTIRE section -- Mt 5:17-48 -- instead of forcing the reader to treat the passage as random and disconnected.

Throughout, Jesus opposed one common opponent: not the text of Scripture itself, but the scribes and Pharisees.

And, throughout, Jesus repeatedly corrected the same mistake from the scribes and Pharisees: their efforts to diminish the weight of the law, by restricting the commandments and relaxing the permissions.

Every single verse in this lengthy section can be seen as a response to that one group and their one consistent interpretative error.


On the other hand, Dan, your approach doesn't account for these details in the text, their immediate context, and their larger context. Your interpretation of the entire passage must be more chaotic and haphazard.

Marshall Art said...

Feo,

You're now taking human error and using that to support some kind of re-writing of Scripture? or that somehow the Holy Spirit revealed something to those who misused or misinterpreted Scripture? You're really scraping the barrel here. Do you honestly think that there existed no one in ancient times who saw all men as equal? You think only divine revelation could correct those who supposed themselves superior due to skin color? Is it the Holy Spirit or simply honest men who realized no such support for racism exists in Scripture?

And assuming homos actually existed in leadership roles in the church for "thousands of year", you'll have to first show which were resisting their urges as the sinful temptation it is versus those who proudly proclaimed their sin as worthy of God's blessing, and still try to show how any such "revelation" trumps what Scripture has revealed as sinful. Since this is not possible, one must assume no such revelation from God, the Son or the Holy Spirit ever existed or exists now.

Nothing you've presented thus far can be seen as a revelation of God's will (such as the use of the Bible to justify racism) or that it took the Holy Spirit rather than simply honest God-fearing men to work towards a change in state policy as well as correct the obvious abuse of Scripture.

Try again.

Marshall Art said...

Bubba,

Thanks for your latest offerings. That book of Stott's is now on my list. Just your short exerpt reeks of objective logic and sense.

Feodor said...

"Since this is not possible..."

Oh, but it is. If you can, but for a moment, enter the progressive revelation that is twentieth-century historical scholarship.

My Boswell to your Johnson (God, I wish you had the capacity to appreciate the wit in this one line; but, alas):

John Boswell, "Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century"

Hoisted on your own petard now, Ma.

Bubba said...

Yeah, Marshall, Stott's book on the Sermon on the Mount is a great one, so much so that it has drawn me into the Bible Speaks Today series, for which Stott is a co-editor. His BST commentary on Romans is a little tougher, but I've found it to be crucial in a deeper understanding of God's work in justification and sanctification.

Stott is still active in writing, but fifty years he wrote a book called Basic Christianity, which Christianity Today has since recognized as one of the top 50 books that have influenced evangelicals: it's a very good complement to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and I'm getting to the point where I think "Basic" should definitely follow "Mere" for those who need to learn the essentials.

(Broadly, my admiration of Lewis has led to an admiration of Stott, where the former seems to argue from common-sense reason, and the latter takes as a given the authority of Scripture, and both reach the same destination by very different roads.)

Even better, I think, is his book The Cross of Christ, which is a thorough look at why Christ died, what His death accomplished, and how the cross has changed all our relationships.


But, yeah, Stott's book on the Sermon on the Mount is a great place to start, and it really highlights the goals of the BST series: to be faithful to the text, relevant to today, and eminently readable. Because the book focuses on just three chapters of the Bible, it can expound on the text in a great deal of detail.

Dan Trabue said...

I was looking into Stott some to see what I could find out about him, expecting not to like his reasoning much. Turns out, he seems pretty reasonable.

Some quotes...

On social justice, which is important to him (and rightly so)...

I think it was reading the Bible. As I read and studied and meditated, my vision of God grew and I came to see the obvious things: that God is not just interested in religion but in the whole of life—in justice as well as justification.

Some people might say that your commitment to the justice of god, expressed in social terms, led to a watering down of your commitment to the gospel.

I think that's rubbish, honestly. I remain committed to evangelism. I have had the privilege of leading more than 50 university missions all over the world, and they spanned a period of 25 years until I felt I was a little out of touch with the student generation and too old.

I can honestly say that my social concerns have not diminished my zeal for evangelism. If anything, it's the other way round.

There is a real need for evangelists who are not engaged in holistic mission because their calling is evangelism. I don't criticize Billy Graham because he simply preaches the gospel and doesn't engage in social-political work—well, he does a bit, but not much—any more than we don't criticize the Good Samaritan for not preaching the gospel to the man assaulted by robbers.


Great reasoning. We are each called to fill our role. Some ARE preachers, some evangelists, and some, Stott appears inclined to think, more called to social justice type work. God bless Stott for that observation.

Dan Trabue said...

On "hell," he seems less orthodox than I am, not appearing to believe to think that "eternal punishment" is likely "eternal..."

I described as "tentative" my suggestion that "eternal punishment" may mean the ultimate annihilation of the wicked rather than their eternal conscious torment. I would prefer to call myself agnostic on this issue, as are a number of New Testament scholars I know. In my view, the biblical teaching is not plain enough to warrant dogmatism.

On evangelism and dogmatism...

What are the weaknesses of evangelicalism?

We've discussed our rugged individualism and the difficulty we have in cooperating with one another. Another weakness is our dogmatism. Instead of remembering Deuteronomy 29:29 ["The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."], we are dogmatic about even the things that God has kept secret.

Should we pay attention to the wisdom literature of other religions?

And the wisdom of people with no religion?

Yes, we certainly should, even if with reservations and a desire to bring their thinking to the ultimate touchstone of biblical authority.

The key text is John 1:9, which says that the logos, the Son of God before the Incarnation, is the true light coming into the world and giving light to everybody. I believe that is the right translation—that he is constantly coming into the world. Indeed, he has never left it, because the world was made by him, and so he is in the world. He was in the world even before he came into it in the Incarnation, and as the logos he is giving light to everybody.

So, there is a certain light of common sense, reason, and conscience that everybody has, because they're also made in the image of God.

Dan Trabue said...

On problems in the church, and more on poverty...

I did, I think, mention three blind spots. The nuclear horror was another one: evangelicals were the last people to make a statement about the immorality of weapons of indiscriminate destruction. I think the third one was the environment.

There is a great deal in the Bible about God's concern for the poor. Poverty—not poverty in the sense of simplicity, but in the sense of lacking the basic wherewithal for survival—is not really on our evangelical conscience yet.

You've seen a great deal of poverty around the world. Do you perceive a difference between the Christianity of the poor and the Christianity of the rich?

Yes, I do. In the Old Testament, there is a fundamental association between material and spiritual poverty. Often, you are not sure what is meant by "the poor." But they tend to be those who are materially poor and who on account of that poverty need to put their trust in God with a greater strength than if they were rich and so self-dependent.

My own understanding is that in the Sermon on the Mount, which may have involved a concentrated period of instruction, Jesus said both "Blessed are you poor" (Luke) and "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew). I think there is a blessedness attaching to both. The kingdom of God is a blessing to the materially poor because it affirms their dignity and relieves their poverty; it is also a blessing, a free gift, to the spiritually poor. So, there is a sense in which poverty is an aid to faith and riches are a barrier to faith.



On women in ministry...

You seem to me to have changed your position on gender. Certainly, your later writings present a different view of the status and role of women. What has brought this about?

What has helped me most in struggling with this issue is a growing understanding of the need for "cultural transposition." This is based on the recognition that although biblical truth is eternal and normative in its substance, it is often expressed in changeable cultural terms.


John Stott, In Christianity Today

Dan Trabue said...

While I disagree with some of his conclusions (on gays in the church, for instance), I'd bet we could have some pretty reasonable and enjoyable conversations and find very much to agree upon.

Dan Trabue said...

I haven't found his writings on the SOTM online, yet, unfortunately, so I have to withhold judgment on his reasoning and position on that until I find a bit more.

I'm still thinking on Bubba's quotes from him. I don't know that I disagree with parts of his conclusion...

What the scribes and Pharisees were doing, in order to make obedience more readily attainable, was to restrict the commandments and extend the permissions of the law.

I can probably agree that this may well have been the case - That they were "setting love and the law" in opposition to each other and thus, abusing the law. I don't see how, though, that this re-interpretation of the OT LAW (you have heard it said, 'an eye for an eye...' but I tell you, 'Turn the other cheek') is not rightly considered setting aside the OT law.

Were the pharisees and some religious types abusing the law? Perhaps. But clearly, "turn the other cheek" is a DIFFERENT rule than "an eye for an eye." I don't think Stott is arguing (or anyone here is arguing) that "an eye for an eye" is still a good and valid law. No. THAT law has been set aside. No one (well, maybe a few) believes that this is a good law/rule for us to follow any more. Rather, the ideal is "turn the other cheek."

So, I'm not clear what Stott would say if he were to be asked directly, "But didn't Jesus in fact, set aside as no longer valid, the OT law 'an eye for an eye.'"? Are you thinking that this command from God is still in effect??

Bubba said...

Feodor, I'm not all that interested in discussing anything with you at any great length, but having skimmed the exchange between you and Marshall, there are a couple things I'd like to relay.


First, you write about how "white folks found elaborate scriptural arguments and/or derivative implications as to why darker folks, hotter climate folks, folks from societies outside the historical ideologies of Pax Romana, Latin middle ages, and European Enlightenment are inferior."

I believe one can easily overstate the supposed scriptural grounding for racial prejudice: in the last century, for instance, Darwin was far more important than the Bible, in terms of being a foundation for eugenicist thought.

And, nowadays, most scriptural arguments for racial prejudice doesn't come from "white folks." It comes from people like Jeremiah Wright and his mentor James Cone, who wrote that blacks "are a manifestation of God’s presence on earth" while whiteness is "the expression of what is wrong with man."

But the most important point is that supposedly scriptural racial prejudice has been repudiated, NOT by abandoning Scripture, but by hewing more closely to it: by seeking a better understanding of God's written word and submitting to its teachings more completely.

The fact that problematic teachings have been derived from the Bible doesn't undermine its authority, not when those teachings have been repudiated by an appeal to the Bible.

Matthew 4:5-7 seems to prove this point.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Second, you seem to say that your position regarding men and women is in opposition to Scripture.

"This: Women are equal spiritual leaders and should take equal spiritual leadership when gifted by God with spiritual gifts.

"The Holy Spirit has taught the church this ultimate lesson, aided and abetted by human reason expanding on Enlightenment revelations regarding individual rights.

"Contra scripture.
" [emphasis mine]

Whether this particular position contradicts Scripture is somewhat beside the point I'd like to make, though I do appreciate a willingness to admit that some positions are "contra scripture."

My issue is with the idea that a Christian can oppose the Bible's clear teachings.

One of the points made in that lengthy excerpt of John Stott, above, is that Christ affirmed the authority of Scripture. Stott goes so far as to assert that there is a "reverent submission of the incarnate Word to the written word."

Christ affirmed Scripture, so to deny its authority is to deny HIS authority.

Beyond that, it's problematic to reject the Bible in favor of the Holy Spirit, because we know what we know about the Holy Spirit because of the Bible.

You write about "the clear sign of the Holy Spirit's presence in the many spiritually gifted leaders who, over thousands of years, served and serve the church as homosexual men and women," but how do we know the "clear sign" of the Spirit if we cannot trust the Bible, which teaches us how to recognize the Spirit's work?

You quote John 16:13...

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."

...but if the Bible isn't a trustworthy record of Christ's affirmation of the authority of Scripture, how in the world can you trust its record of His explanation of the Holy Spirit's purpose?

It seems to me that God's incarnate Word, His Holy Spirit, and His written word all reinforce one another: the whole thing flies apart if one tries to set them against each other.

At the very, very least, I think you should appreciate the fact that not many Christians are going to follow your understanding of the Holy Spirit if doing so entails abandoning the authority of Scripture.

Marshall Art said...

I don't think it's enough to say that Stott supports "social justice" until we can find out what he means by that term. As we know from the current discussion at AmericanDescent, it's a fluid term, particularly for the left.

And to return to the point, I don't think anyone can say that the Holy Spirit is doing the talking if the result is a move toward something that so firmly contradicts Scripture, as does something like homosex marriage, or the notion that God would ever bless such a thing. Poor interpretations of Scripture from the past, such as on slavery or women ministers, being corrected is not the same as a definitive sinful behavior now being put forth as no longer sinful. It would be akin to saying the bestiality is now OK. There is no Scriptural precedent for overturning that which the OT laws said was a sinful behavior.

I also believe that there is a problem with the understanding of an eye for an eye. Even in the OT, could a man decide on his own to simply take another man's eye because the other man poked the first, or was this something that was ruled as a proper restitution in a type of trial? It seems to me that Jesus was not speaking in terms of civil action, but in terms of personal action when He said to turn the other cheek.

Put it this way: suppose a man stoned his child to death for the crime for which stoning a child was proscribed. Would the people simply take the man's word that he was justified, or would he have been investigated to make sure there was no murder of the child? The stoning, it would seem, could only take place after it was determined by tribal elders (or whatever) that the kid did indeed break the law. It's the only way it makes sense in terms of the community surviving. Otherwise, exacting the punishments proscribed by Levitical law would be problematic as anyone would serve sentence as he sees fit.

Even now, though the law may still arrest a person for smacking you with a bottle, and you may feel justified (as you would be) seeking payment for medical attention, forgiveness is still the Christian's duty.

So I don't think Jesus was doing anything more than clarifying the law of "eye for an eye" as not pertaining to the mentality of the person struck. It would be vengence if an individual returned the strike, but justice if the law penalizes the initial striker.

And as Bubba suggested, it's not changing the law as it was meant to be followed in the first place, but changing what the law had become back to that original intention.

Dan Trabue said...

As we know from the current discussion at AmericanDescent, it's a fluid term, particularly for the left.

???!!!

Social Ministry has two main aspects: social service (also known as Parish Outreach) and social action

Social Service is giving direct aid to someone in need. It usually involves performing one or more of the corporal works of mercy. That is, giving alms to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick or imprisoned, taking care of orphans and widows, visiting the shut-ins etc. Another name for it is charity.

Social Action is correcting the structures that perpetuate the need. Another name for this is Social Justice. Through the lens of social justice, we begin to take a look at the problems and issues facing us in our own communities, the nation and finally the world, and we begin to ask questions such as, "Why is there so much unemployment in our area?" "Why are there so many poor in our community?" "How will the deforestation of our rain forests affect our global climate?" etc. Very often when you are performing social service, you also become involved in solving the problem which created the need in the first place, and the two are closely related and often blend together.


THIS is what we mean. Nothing fluid about it. It means justice for the poor, the marginalized, the widows, the orphans, the foreigners. Looking out for oppression of these groups, looking out for cheating and taking advantage of these groups. I don't know about what YOU all mean by it, but we mean just what we say we mean, just the common notion of the term.

In the 1980s, the US gov't placed thugs in power in Latin America, terrorists, dictators, strongmen. As a result, the poor were often oppressed, killed, raped, kidnapped. Working for social justice in that situation meant trying to put an end to the oppression.

It's not brain surgery. It's the golden rule (the one as found in the Bible, not "he who has the gold, makes the rules"). It's social justice. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. AND IF some entity is NOT doing that - especially to the least of these - then working to end that oppression, THAT's what we mean by social justice.

Nothing fluid about it.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

it's not changing the law as it was meant to be followed in the first place, but changing what the law had become back to that original intention.

So, the ORIGINAL intent of "an eye for an eye" was "turn the other cheek?"???

Marshall Art said...

NO. I think the original intent was that one love's one's neighbor as one's self. The 'eye for an eye' bit was meant to regulate issues of justice and in many ways, it's still practiced today. If you're trying to kick my ass, I've only the legal right to fight back to the point of repelling the attack. Once I've beaten off your advance, I am not legally allowed to then beat you to a pulp. If you hit me, I cannot kill you for it. "Eye for an eye" prevented someone from demanding a life for an eye. But the whole time, the intent was that each person be cool to other people all the time. Do you disagree with this?

As to social justice, once again, you speak of goals, but not how to achieve them and THAT'S where the disagreements come into play. THAT'S where liberal socialism rears it's incredibly ugly head. In addition, suggesting the causes of the problems are also a matter of political philosophy. An objective study would not yield the same causes as a liberal study since the liberal assumes someone did something to someone else and that's why that someone suffers.

But let's not get into SJ here as it is already underway at AmericanDescent.

Marshall Art said...

Right now I gotta split. It'll be at least a few hours before I post anymore comments at either blog.

Bubba said...

Dan, I would have hoped that we could have had "some pretty reasonable and enjoyable conversations and find very much to agree upon," but it doesn't appear that you can communicate clearly to theologically conservative Christians, particularly in regards to where your beliefs deviate from ours. You've concluded that I just don't understand you, and I believe that you're deliberately less clear than you could be.

I honestly cannot imagine that things would be more fruitful in a hypothetical conversation between you and Stott. It might be more civil, but then, our conversations were pretty civil, at least for a while -- a very long while, until I concluded that it was no longer reasonable to give you the benefit of the doubt.


I really do appreciate your quoting and linking to that CT article.

(Apropos of Marshall and Feodor's discussion here, Stott addresses the meaning of John 16:13).

I have a couple brief responses to what you quote:


- My opposition to the Progressive platform for addressing issues of poverty and pollution (and, to at least some degree, the progressive understanding of these issues) simply does not mean that I'm apathetic about these issues.

You note that "social justice" is "important to him (and rightly so)."

Newsflash: justice is important to most people, myself included. It's just that quite a few of us of wary of the Left's invocation of justice because it's frequently used as a Trojan horse for a radical, statist agenda -- to the degree that opposition to that agenda (or their definition of justice) is wrongly attributed to indifference over the issues involved.

One thing Stott's writing has done for me is reiterate the need for social concern, not only from individual Christians but from the corporate church. Still, we ought to avoid both pitfalls of downplaying that need AND of taking the bait of a political agenda that I think is immoral and ineffective, and I think we could do a better job at striking the right balance.


- About what Stott describes as specialization within the church, I should have probably been more clear by now that I do believe that there's room for specialization in ministries. However, I don't think that specialization should be used as cover for emphasizing political activism at the expense of evangelism. Subversion doesn't suddenly become specialization just because one could make an biblical argument for the activity, and there *IS* a difference between the two.

In that interview, Stott notes, "I'm afraid that in some cases the cause of [evangelical] fragmentation is worse than [basic human insecurity] -- it's a simple matter of ambition. There is a great deal of empire building among us. The only empire in which we should be interested is the kingdom of God, but I fear some people are building their own."

Certainly there can be a political agenda to the kingdom one can build for himself, even in the guise of specialization.


- On Stott's writing about "cultural transposition" -- "the recognition that although biblical truth is eternal and normative in its substance, it is often expressed in changeable cultural terms" -- his general approach is well within the mainstream.

We see the same approach with most (not all) theological conservatives regarding Paul's teachings on appropriate attire: we look for the universal principles that undergird his specific teachings to the church in Corinth.

[cont]

Bubba said...

[cont]

- About poverty, it's worth noting that, while Stott does say that "there is a sense in which poverty is an aid to faith and riches are a barrier to faith," he also reiterates the middle ground between asceticism and materialism; he affirms that "the two blessings go together," for the materially poor AND the poor in spirit; and he implies that poverty comes with its own pitfalls, in answering whether the poor tend to see themselves as poor in spirit.

"Some do. Their material poverty helps them to see their need of Christ. Others, however, become bitter and can't listen to the gospel. What is the African phrase? 'An empty belly has no ears.' When they're that poor, they can't respond to the gospel. It's like the Israelites when Moses told them about the exodus: 'They did not listen to him because of their cruel bondage.'"

In context, the sum of Stott's words here are far more moderate than the ones that you emphasize by quoting.


The most important thing to notice is Stott's foundational principle of submission to the authority of the Bible.

Why is he ambivalent about annihilationism?

"In my view, the biblical teaching is not plain enough to warrant dogmatism. There are awkward texts on both sides of the debate."

(For myself, I'd LOVE to see his arguments about the "awkward" texts.)

Note the implication: when the text is plain, we SHOULD be dogmatic.

Does Stott criticize as a weakness dogmatism, per se, or only unwarranted dogmatism?

"Instead of remembering Deuteronomy 29:29, we are dogmatic about even the things that God has kept secret. We're often not prepared to admit a certain agnosticism, which is a very evangelical thing, if we are alluding to what God has not revealed." [emphasis mine]

Note the implication here, that if God has revealed it, we SHOULD be dogmatic about it.

Against what should experience be evaluated?

"We have to recognize the important place of experience, but our experience does have to be checked all the time against biblical teachings. Otherwise, it will become an ungodly and non-Christian existentialism."

Stott affirms "the ultimate touchstone of biblical authority," and he points everything back to the question of the Bible's teachings.

"The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform." [emphasis mine]

Dan Trabue said...

Note the implication here, that if God has revealed it, we SHOULD be dogmatic about it.

We all agree that it is important to stand strongly on some points. It IS dogmatic that we are to love our enemies and I think we can all agree that we MUST stand by that.

No need to think that we have a difference of opinion on that point.

The difference is, I'd suggest, that probably folk from your/our background (since I come from a similar background) is that our list of issues we might choose to be dogmatic and harsh about would probably be much longer than those from my current faith tradition.

I am not dogmatic about anything I am not certain about and, being a fallible human capable of error, I'm not certain about as many things as I used to be, when I was more conservative and more self-assured. Nowadays, I tend to at least try to leave more items - less important issues - in God's hands and grace.

Bubba said...

One more thing about dogmatism, Dan, is that Stott does believe the Bible is quite clear about the causal connection between Christ's death and our forgiveness. I first really noticed Paul's claim that our justification is rooted in God's grace, our faith, *AND* Christ's death, by reading Stott's BST commentary on Romans.

In the interview you cite (single-page printable view HERE), Stott mentions Galatians in a passage that someone like you could see as a repudiation of the necessity of the causal link between Christ's death and our salvation.

He lists a few things that would prompt his leaving the Church of England. (Note in passing that these items are rooted in the Bible.) After mentioning a denial of the Incarnation, he continues:

"Then, there's the work of Christ. In Galatians, if anybody denies the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone, that is anathema: Paul calls down the judgment of God upon that person."

Stott mentions grace and faith, but not Christ's death. Note that he *DOES* mention "the work of Christ," and here it's worth my quoting Stott's BST commentary on Galatians, a paragraph regarding Gal 2:21.

All emphasis is mine.

----- BEGIN EXCERPT -----

We have seen how Paul counters his critics' attempt to overthrow his doctrine; we must now consider how he sets about overthrowing theirs. Verse 21: I do not (NEB 'will not') nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose. We must try to feel the force of this argument. The two foundation planks of the Christian religion are the grace of God and the death of Christ. The Christian gospel is the gospel of the grace of God. The Christian faith is the faith of Christ crucified. So if anybody insists that justification is by works, and that he can earn his salvation by his own efforts, he is undermining the foundations of the Christian religion. He is nullifying the grace of God (because if salvation is by works, it is not by grace) and he is making Christ's death superfluous (because if salvation is our own work, then Christ's work was unnecessary).

------ END EXCERPT ------

It seems clear that Stott believes that the Bible clearly teaches that we are justified by Christ's death; it follows that he probably insists on being dogmatic about this teaching.

Dan Trabue said...

And I'm all in favor of the authority of Scripture, fyi. I oppose war because of Scripture. I oppose works-based salvation because of scripture. I oppose hypocrisy because of scripture. I desire to be a good steward of creation because of scripture.

I believe in the authority of scripture. I just don't agree with everyone on what a given passage might mean. "Obviously" or otherwise.

Bubba said...

Dan, about The Sermon on the Mount:

I'm sorry, but I haven't been able to find any online versions of the book either, beyond the preview available at Amazon.

But I did excerpt the book AT LENGTH, quoting six full pages without ANY omissions, and I made sure to include the entire section about Stott's general comments on the six antitheses that conclude Matthew 5.

The two-thousand-word excerpt, personally transcribed by hand, was more than enough to get a sense of what Stott believes about Mt 5:17-48, and why he believes it.

There's a bit more worth quoting about 5:38-42 specifically, and I'll do so shortly.


You write:

" 'What the scribes and Pharisees were doing, in order to make obedience more readily attainable, was to restrict the commandments and extend the permissions of the law.'

"I can probably agree that this may well have been the case - That they were 'setting love and the law' in opposition to each other and thus, abusing the law.
"

Dan, to be clear, it seems that Stott attributes that behavior to modern advocates of situational ethics, NOT the first-century scribes and Pharisees.

If anything, the Pharisees were antagonistic to BOTH the law AND love. They rebelled against the law's full implications, so that they could show less love to their neighbors: they permitted the indulgence of hatred and lust so long as one refrains from murder and adultery; they encouraged divorce on a whim and fraud through insincere oaths; and they allowed for personal vendettas and (contra Ex 23:4-5) excluded one's enemies from the obligation of neighborly love.


More importantly, you write:

"I don't think Stott is arguing (or anyone here is arguing) that 'an eye for an eye' is still a good and valid law. No. THAT law has been set aside. No one (well, maybe a few) believes that this is a good law/rule for us to follow any more. Rather, the ideal is 'turn the other cheek.'

"So, I'm not clear what Stott would say if he were to be asked directly, 'But didn't Jesus in fact, set aside as no longer valid, the OT law "an eye for an eye." '? Are you thinking that this command from God is still in effect??
"

It's clear from the commentary that Stott thinks exactly that.

I quote from pp. 103-105. As before, all boldface emphasis is mine; unless otherwise indicated, any typographical errors are also mine.

----- BEGIN EXCERPT -----

The excerpt form the oral teaching of the rabbis which Jesus quoted comes straight out of the Mosaic law. As we consider it, we need to remember that the law of Moses was a civil as well as a moral code. For example, Exodus 20 contains the ten commandments (the distillation of the moral law). Exodus 21 to 23, on the other hand, contain a series of 'ordinances' in which the standards of the ten commandments are applied to the young nation's life. A wide variety of 'case-laws' is given, with a particular emphasis on damage to person and property. It is in the course of this legislation that these words occur: 'When men strive together... if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.' [Ex. 21:22-25. Cf. Lv. 24:19, 20; Dt. 19:21.]

[continue excerpt]

Bubba said...

[continue excerpt]

The context makes it clear beyond question that this was an instruction to the judges of Israel. Indeed, they are mentioned in Deuteronomy 19:17, 18. It expressed the lex talionis, the principle of an exact retribution, whose purpose was both to lay the foundation of justice, specifying the punishment which a wrongdoer deserved, and to limit the compensation of his victim to an exact equivalent and no more. It thus had the double effect of defining justice and restraining revenge. It also prohibited the taking of the law into one's own hands by the ghastly vengeance of the family feud.

Similarly, in Islamic law the lex talionis specified the maximum punishment allowable. It was administered literally (and still is in e.g. Saudi Arabia) unless the wounded person waived the penalty or his heirs (in a case of murder) demanded blood-money instead. [I owe these facts to Sir Norman Anderson, an expert in Islamic law.]

It is almost certain that by the time of Jesus literal retaliation for damage had been replaced in Jewish legal practice by money penalties or 'damages.' Indeed there is evidence of this much earlier. The verses immediately following the lex talionis in Exodus enact that if a man strikes his slave so as to destroy his eye or knock out his tooth, instead of losing his own eye or tooth (which he would deserve but which would be no compensation to the disabled slave), he must lose his slave: 'He shall let the slave go free for the eye's (or tooth's) sake.' [Ex. 21:26, 27.] We may be quite sure that in other cases too this penalty was not physically exacted, except in the case of murder ('life for life'); it was commuted to a payment of damages.

But the scribes and Pharisees evidently extended this principle of just retribution from the law courts (where it belongs) to the realm of personal relationships (where it does not belong). They tried to use it to justify personal revenge, although the law explicitly forbade this: 'You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people.' [Lv. 19:18] Thus, 'This excellent, if stern, principle of judicial retribution was being utilized as an excuse for the very thing it was instituted to abolish, namely personal revenge.' [John W. Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Tyndale Press, 1972), p. 35.]

In his reply Jesus did not contradict the principle of retribution, for it is a true and just principle. Later in the Sermon he himself stated it in the form: 'Judge not, that you be not judged' (7:1), and all his teaching about the terrible reality of divine judgment on the last day rests upon the same foundation principle. What Jesus affirmed in the antithesis was rather that this principle, though it pertains to the law courts and to the judgment of God, is not applicable to our personal relationships. These are to be based on love, not justice. Our duty to individuals who wrong us is not retaliations, but the acceptance of injustice without revenge or redress: Do not resist one who is evil (39).

------ END EXCERPT ------

My own comments, momentarily.

Bubba said...

Dan, I would summarize the points from these two lengthy excerpts this way.

Stott provides four reasons why the entire section of the six antitheses, Mt 5:21-48, involve opposition to lenient misinterpretations and **NOT** the text of Scripture itself.

1. The substance of the antitheses. Clearly, Jesus didn't "set aside" the prohibition of murder and adultery: He deepened their implications by also prohibiting hatred and lust. And, when He opposed the teaching of "hate your enemy", He opposed a doctrine that is found **NOWHERE** in Scripture.

2. The introductory formula. Christ routinely introduced Scripture with "it is written" (perfect tense), but here he introduces the antitheses with "it was said."

3. The immediate context. In the verses immediately prior (5:17-20), Jesus taught that not one penstroke would pass away, that He would fulfill all of Scripture, and that His followers were to obey even the least commandment.

Here, your position repeatedly bumps up against the plain meaning of this passage, as you insist that Jesus really did "set aside" or "explain away" or even "abolish" OT law.

"It SEEMS Jesus is saying he did not come to abolish the law...

"I mean, once again, clearly, Jesus HAS abolish[ed] (or set aside, or reinterpreted, or taken from and added to our understanding or SOMETHING like that) at least some laws.
"

4. Christ's known attitude to the Old Testament. Elsewhere He consistently appealed to Scripture as authoritative and even submitted to Scripture.


In addition, Stott provides a fifth argument for why, in 5:38-42, Jesus didn't "set aside" the principle of retribution.

5. Christ's affirmation of retribution. In the very same sermon, Christ affirmed the same principle of retributive justice at the cosmic level.

"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." - Mt 7:1-2

[cont]

Bubba said...

[cont]

To address one possible objection, I highlighted one part of that last excerpt in anticipation of the strawman attack against literal physical maiming.

In even the ORIGINAL formulation of "eye for an eye," we see the practice of commuting the punishment to the payment of damages in at least some circumstances. See Ex 21:22-27.


To address another possible objection, that lex talionis is fine for God but no longer applicable anywhere in human relations, I quote Stott's response to the well-meaning but wrong-headed strict pacifism of Gandhi and Tolstoy (p. 110).

"Our main disagreement with Tolstoy and Gandhi, however, must not be that their views were unrealistic, but that they were unbiblical. For we cannot take Jesus' command 'Resist not evil,' as an absolute prohibition of the use of all force (including the police) unless we are prepared to say that the Bible contradicts itself and the apostles misunderstood Jesus. For the New Testament teaches that the state is a divine institution, commissioned (through its executive office-bearers) both to punish the wrongdoer (i.e., to 'resist one who is evil' to the point of making him bear the penalty of his evil) and to reward those who do good. [Rom 13:1 ff.]"

Dan, you insist that you're not taking the position that even the government must "turn the other cheek" and refuse to use force or even prosecute those who break the law.

If the government does have the moral right and responsibility to prosecute criminals and even use violent force to bring them to justice, then it's not remotely clear why you think Jesus completely "set aside" the principle of retributive justice.

Feodor said...

Bubba,

"I'm not all that interested in discussing anything with you at any great length.."

What a repressed and tense way to begin your moderately lengthy discussion, how disingenuously solicitous, and how indicative that you are warding off response before it even comes: how much such a beginning says about you.

Nonetheless, you've thrown a gauntlet and a one that is fairly ratty and quickly unraveled.

Regarding your, "I believe one can easily overstate the supposed scriptural grounding for racial prejudice: in the last century, for instance, Darwin was far more important than the Bible..."...

One. The Triangle Trade which treats Africans as chattel pre-existed Darwin's theories by three hundred years. During that time, protestant and Catholic theology, clergy, and lay leaders understood Holy Scripture as sanctioning the practice. The biblical sources for their sermons and legislation are too numerous to list.

Two. Darwin worked out his theory of evolution over a number of years in which he also developed and held strong anti-salvery views. In fact, recent research is beginning to appreciate how his abhorrence of racism framed his development of the theory of evolution. You can find this in "Darwin’s Sacred Cause", by Adrian Desmond and James Moore.

Concerning Jeremiah Wright, in no way does Reverend Wright privilege one race over another. What he does is to essentialize racial and cultural differences by identifying different different cognitive schema and valuations between races but goes on to celebrate such "fixed" differences. This has the effect of harshly criticizing white hegemonic cultural bias because it has weeded out different BUT EQUALLY productive systems that other races can contribute.

I believe there are persuasive grounds to disagree with how Reverend Wright finds the differences hard wired between races, and, as a matter of fact, so too does Dr. Cone. Dr. Cone - far from your horrid misreading - is not talking about race. His use of "black man" and "white man" is as metaphorical stand ins for ideologies. If one supports an ideology of power and low concern for justice then one stands in the inheritance of western, white colonialism and slavery. Therefore one is a white man, whatever his skin color. In this sense, Alan Keyes and Clarence Thomas support the legacy of white oppression and are, therefore, "white men" in black skin. However, if one supports racial justice and liberation and a redress to the effect of centuries of white hegemonic oppression, then one is a "black man" whatever one's skin color. Thus, LBJ is a black man in white skin.

So, now when you say, "blacks 'are a manifestation of God’s presence on earth' while whiteness is 'the expression of what is wrong with man'", you can now understand better what you are reading and know that Dr. Cone is not talking about skin color. He is talking about where the heart is dedicated: toward oppression or toward liberation.

Bubba said...

Dan, about other, more recent comments -- really digressions to one degree or another...


On "social justice," you write:

"In the 1980s, the US gov't placed thugs in power in Latin America, terrorists, dictators, strongmen. As a result, the poor were often oppressed, killed, raped, kidnapped. Working for social justice in that situation meant trying to put an end to the oppression."

It seems to me that you always forget about the right half of the Risk board, as if the Soviets weren't working to establish satellite states.

Contrary to the brochures, Communist countries have never been a "workers' paradise," and Cuba is still quite infamous for its oppression.

To still oppose U.S. foreign policy in that context might be -- MIGHT BE -- morally defensible, but to ignore that context so consistently is to create a strawman in an effort to smear a country that you defend as "great" only when it's convenient.

We did unpleasant things in a half-century, existential cold war against a totalitarian nuclear superpower; we weren't doing it for the hell of it, or for financial gain.


About deference to the Bible, you write:

"And I'm all in favor of the authority of Scripture, fyi. I oppose war because of Scripture. I oppose works-based salvation because of scripture. I oppose hypocrisy because of scripture. I desire to be a good steward of creation because of scripture."

I think your day-to-day hypocrisy has been well documented, Dan.

Your supposedly biblical arguments for pacifism involve wrenching passages out of even their immediate context (Rom 12, Ps 106), and denying the historicity of even THE PASSOVER, and asserting that OT history contains Jewish revenge fantasies where accepting the plain meaning is almost literal blasphemy.

You insist these passages must be taken figuratively but you have never offered a detailed figurative interpretation, much less a plausible one.

You assert that it is "doubtless" that Paul's teachings in Scripture contain misogyny and bigotry, and that even Christ's choosing of twelve men as His disciples was a nod to the surrounding cultural sexism.

Christ taught that we were created male and female so that a man would become one flesh with his wife, but you think God blesses "gay marriage."

In the upper room, Christ taught that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin, and you not only deny the causal link between His death and our salvation, you have even written that the Lord's Supper is only an ancient tradition.

In none of these things do I see evidence of submission to the authority of the Bible.

You write, "I believe in the authority of scripture. I just don't agree with everyone on what a given passage might mean. 'Obviously' or otherwise."

One's interpretations of Scripture can strain all credibility, and on many issues your position is far beyond merely straining belief. There is often such a sheer difference between the Bible's clear teachings and what you believe, that I personally do not think that the Bible really is for you "the ultimate touchstone" in terms of doctrinal matters.

Feodor said...

Continuing:

Concerning this from you, Bubba, "But the most important point is that supposedly scriptural racial prejudice has been repudiated, NOT by abandoning Scripture, but by hewing more closely to it: by seeking a better understanding of God's written word and submitting to its teachings more completely."

I completely agree. It is rather like "progressive revelation except that I don't think it is God or God's nature being progressively revealed, I think it is humankind's slowly increasing capacity to understand God's nature that is progressively revealed.

The major case in point is St. Paul. St. Paul wrote that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ." But Paul, being human, did not fully understand the cosmic scope of what being one Christ means. Nor, for that matter, do we, sadly. But we have grown in how we understand the deeply expansive and mysterious truth of unity in Christ, in part because Paul helped illuminate the path preeminently well.

But Paul, as I say, fell short at times: as when he advocated that women should be silent in the church; as when he carries on too far with metaphors that get tangled up with the notion of Christ and the Church and he can't find his way back to clarity, leaving a general rule that women are too much to be second-class and passive property; or as when he admonishes the slave to do his duty as a slave.

These are St. Paul's inadequate moments, canonized along with his brilliant and surely holy ones. God, of course, in God's own good time, has used those inadequate moments to inspire new thinking - even though those weaknesses of Paul terribly delayed the understanding that women are fully equal in all aspects of faith.

That Holy Scripture is the canon of the human walk with God means that it necessarily contains dead-end paths as well as the paths of light. No wonder then, in your words, that Scripture needs reinforcing from a triune god. Scripture is the cooperative product of human capacities writing sometimes at the supreme limit of understanding and even foresight beyond human capacity. But the triune God is untouched by human effort, whether glorious and God aided or fallible.

Therefore, your quote of Mr. Stott is the simplest, barest, clearest presentation of your and his blasphemy.

Feodor said...

Oh, and Matthew 4 simply has Jesus presenting scripture in response to the Devil's quoting scripture. The passages themselves cannot be resolved unless one interprets which one best applies to the situation.

Neither is the best for all time for all situations, apparently, since they remain in tension.

The trick is to interpret for one's time and place. And to be an honest and well-meaning interpreter. Even then, none of us is Jesus, so humility is a must. And Love. But Scripture hardly ever dictates the path. It must be interpreted, just as Jesus did.

The devil, after all, was reading scripture scrupulously right. But his heart was not.

You strike me as the scrupulous sort.

Feodor said...

Finally, you and Marshall have to contend with this:

"You have heard that it was said...

BUT I say to you..."

Sound like change we can believe in.

Bubba said...

Dan, the more important recent comment is about dogmatism. You write:

"We all agree that it is important to stand strongly on some points. It IS dogmatic that we are to love our enemies and I think we can all agree that we MUST stand by that."

This dovetails with the discussion at your blog, about orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

In affirming orthodox doctrine there, or in affirming issues on which to be dogmatic here, you seem to gravitate toward ethical questions only.

"I guess I would just say that the basics of orthopraxy are not nearly so complicated or hard to understand that many make of orthodoxy.

" 'Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you' is fairly easily understood and fairly universal, even if we're not always clear on exactly how to live that out, we're all united on that front.
"

What about, say, the Incarnation of Christ, the denial of which is proof of the spirit of antichrist, according to John (I Jn 2:22, 4:2-4)?

In the Stott interview to which you linked, he pointed to that doctrine and the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone as essential, doctrines without which a church "would be an apostate church and one would have to leave."

I pointed this out a few days ago, that, at your blog, you mention the emphasis on loving one another in I John, but not the emphasis on the Incarnation and belief that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God.

While you personally seem to affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, you have never been entirely clear on whether belief in the bodily resurrection is absolutely essential to Christian faith.

I've even asked about the fundamental doctrine that precedes the Incarnation, the Trinity, and even simple monotheism: the doctrine of theism. I've asked whether you believe an atheist can become a Christian while holding to his denial of God's existence, and the only answer you've ever given is that you don't know.


You write:

"The difference is, I'd suggest, that probably folk from your/our background (since I come from a similar background) is that our list of issues we might choose to be dogmatic and harsh about would probably be much longer than those from my current faith tradition."

That much is obvious.

What isn't obvious is whether your list of dogma includes anything EXCEPT ethical commands.

Are you dogmatic about Christ's crucifixion and bodily resurrection? That He died for our sins, that we are justified "by [God's] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith"?

Are you dogmatic about Jesus Christ being God Incarnate? About His virgin birth? About His even being an actual figure of history and not some fictional character in a fable or epic myth?

Are you dogmatic about the Trinity, three Persons in one Being? Are you dogmatic about monotheism, that there is only one God? Are you dogmatic about simple theism, the existence of God?

I ask because it's not clear that you're dogmatic about any of these things, and there are some signs that you're NOT dogmatic about all of them.

Bubba said...

Feodor, I do tend to be thorough rather than brief when I write, but I was brief in comparison to my exchanges with Dan today, and I only touched on two topics out of many that you and Marshall have covered.

I didn't mean to sound rude when I wrote that I wasn't interested in a lengthy discussion: I was simply being honest.


I can't really figure out what you think I meant in my pointing out that Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture support each other.

Scripture points to Christ, in prophecy that allows us to verify His identity when He came, in records of His words and deeds, and in apostolic explanations of who He is and what He accomplished.

Christ also affirms Scripture, affirming its authority to the smallest penstroke, appealing to its teachings as the final authority, and attributing its words to God Himself.

Scripture teaches us authoritatively about the Holy Spirit, His work and how to identify Him; and the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture.

And, Christ told the disciples about the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit revealed more to them about Christ.

("He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you." - Jn 16:14)

There is **NO** conflict between Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture; trying to set one against another is both foolish and damaging to one's theology.

I'm not saying that Scripture is God; I'm simply asserting that Scripture is FROM God and is therefore reliable and authoritative. My approach to Scripture is in accord with Christ's own approach to Scripture, and so it's not blasphemous.

My approach is certainly more in line with Christ's approach than is yours -- your picking and choosing which teachings of Paul's is authoritative -- to say nothing of your dishonesty in saying you "agree completely" with my belief that one should "seek[] a better understanding of God's written word and submit[] to its teachings more completely."

Feodor said...

Bubba,

Well, I don't think how you and Dan go about it should be considered the standard for "lengthy" or thorough. But that's a different matter.

You say, "Scripture points to Christ, in prophecy that allows us to verify His identity when He came..."

And that is exactly wrong. The disciples came to know Jesus as the Christ by his words and deeds and especially by the the wounds in the hands and and side of the risen Christ.

Subsequently the apostles and the church combed through the scriptures and found prophecy and typology. Even as the Gospels engage in this looking back they creatively present Jesus claiming the Prophets and the disciples openly doubting.

The Son of God is and was the only true revelation of God. "I and the Father are One... Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does."

And as for the "smallest penstroke," Mark 10 reveals the whiteout, a temporary fix, and then more whiteout with restoration:

"Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
"What did Moses command you?" he replied.
They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
_______________________

"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law."

Hummmmm. What kind of possibilities of biblical interpretation did Jesus model for us here?

I'm excited thinking about it. The passing of hard hearts that is... concerning what God has joined together.

Feodor said...

It is your dishonesty that remains willfully bling to how scripture argues within and between the canons as to what its "core" teachings are.

In short, you wont read it. You gloss it.

And Mark 10 begins to take off your cloak. Romans 10: 5-13 puts the nails in your dishonest coffin. But it is pretty complex - needing an understanding of Greek and Hebrew and some extended study of torah and midrash and Pauline theology - and I don't expect you to be able to unpack it.

Unless you decide to do some years of study.

Bubba said...

Feodor, I assume it was a typo, and I never hold such simple mistakes against others, but I must say that I don't mind being told I'm "willfully bling."


More seriously, I don't see how you can be so certain that Mark 10 and John 10 are authentic teachings of Christ while simultaneously claiming that the evangelists "creatively" embellish the Gospels.

I don't think either passage teaches what you think it does, but I don't really have much patience for people who affirm as authoritative ONLY those passages of Scripture that can be made to fit with their theories.

Feodor said...
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Feodor said...
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Feodor said...

Cheap way out, so maybe "bling" does apply.

You're avoiding how Jesus and Paul use the word, ἀλλά and δέ and how, after Paul says that Moses described a righteousness that is by law, Romans 10:8 literally reads, "but the righteousness that is by faith says..." ( ἡ δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη οὕτως λέγει...) where the construction "οὕτως λέγει" in the Septuagint is used where the English translates, "thus saith" as in a new word from the Lord.

I have no respect for someone who fades away when the biblical text is being responsibly read after claiming such faith in it, bling or not bling.

Feodor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feodor said...

Is blogger acting up or are the technical troubles mine alone?

Bubba said...

Blogger's been flaky all day, at least in a serious lag between blogger.com/comment and marshallart.blogspot.com. Your issues might be related.

Baseball game's not quite over, but I'll try to address Romans 10 in a little more depth shortly.

Bubba said...

Feodor, about Romans 10:5-13:

First, the passage quotes and alludes to quite a few passages from the Old Testament; I still don't know how you're so sure that this passage is authoritative when you claim that the Apostles speculatively combed through Scripture to fit Christ into the picture.

You dismiss what you don't like as Paul's "inadequate moments." Just how do you know that this passage is so devastating to what I believe, when it could just be yet another display of his delay-inducing weakness?


Second, you suggest that, in 10:8 the word for "says" or "sayeth" implies that the word from the righteousness of faith is "a new word from the Lord."

It's funny, then, that that word is a pretty close quotation of Deuteronomy 30:14.


I'm not quite sure what you think Romans 10 proves. If you could explain yourself -- after explaining how you know this isn't one of Paul's brain farts -- I'd appreciate it.

You say that a true understanding of the passage is decisive proof against my beliefs, but that it's a difficult understanding.

And yet you don't write a whole lot to explain this understanding, other than to regurgitate some Greek and claim that I'm avoiding the implications of its usage, but, still, those implications aren't drawn out.

You're not writing enough of substance to actually elicit a response.

Marshall Art said...

Well, that's typical for Feodor. He'll type some stuff that suggests he has some sort of background, but only for the purpose of posing as an intellectual. There's never any real attempt to explain his position on anything. Instead, there's only condescension and arrogance, with crap suggesting his opponents aren't capable of understanding so, you know, why bother trying? It's a great dodge if we were all the nincompoops he wishes we were. But as a coward, he'll not take a chance of showing his limitations by actually trying to seriously engage. He types plenty of words, but never really says anything. And that's so sad as I have such high hopes.

Feodor said...

I'll think about entering an open dialogue about interpretation when you both make the following choice:

Either...

1. Proclaim that women should be silent in the church and that those who unfortunately find themselves in slavery should obey their masters... (i.e., Bible is in-errantly inspired and every verse is good for all time.)

or...

2. State clearly that Holy Scripture must be reasoned and prayed over and absorbed only through interpretation for one's time since it carries a lot of cultural and situational baggage. Passages must be adjudicated within the faith community and no one person gets it entirely right and no community gets it entirely right for all time. (i.e., Bible is at least partly socio/culturally contextualized and demands interpretive frameworks in order to best understand.)
_________________________

If you cannot choose, then we have no basis for dialogue on Romans 10 because you've refused all necessary grounds for starting, namely, declaring your philosophical prolegomena for interpreting a received text.
_________________________

One helpful hint, though, given your reluctance to hear Romans 10, is to begin with how Paul does not locate the Word in text.

You guys want to continue to live by the righteousness that is by the law. And so it is such a continuing scandal for you when "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me" keeps happening.

Bubba said...

Feodor, about women speaking in church, there's a pretty good argument (halfway down the page) that, in I Cor 14:34-35, Paul is quoting mistaken opponents in order to rebuke their position.

In their book When Critics Ask, Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe note that "whatever Paul may have meant by the 'women be silent' passages, he certainly did not mean that they should have no ministry in the church."

"This is clear for several reasons. For one thing, in the same book (of 1 Corinthians), Paul instructed women on how they should pray and prophesy in the church, namely, in a decent and orderly way (cf. 11:5). Further, there were also times when all the men were to be 'silent' as well, namely, when someone else was giving an utterance from God (cf. 14:28). Finally, Paul did not hesitate to use women to assist him in the ministry, as is indicated by the crucial role he gave to Phoebe in delivering to its destination the great epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16:1)."

Their conclusion differs significantly from Glenn Miller's above. They write that, "when understood in context, the 'silence' passages are not negating the ministry of women, but are limiting the authority of women."

Though I tend to think Geisler's position is the more easily argued from the text, I'm remain open to correction.

The point is, both approaches have the right idea in seeking to understand Paul's teaching by examining the context of the rest of Scripture.

You're presenting false dilemmas. One can affirm the inerrant authority of Scripture without concluding that, for instance, Mark 6:8-9 requires evangelists to carry a staff and wear sandals: one can see Christ's command as a specific instantiation of the more universal principle of simple dependence on God's provision on-the-way.

And one can conclude that some passages contain culturally specific details that entail universal principles without discarding the passage as "cultural baggage."

Bubba said...

Feodor, you write:

"If you cannot choose, then we have no basis for dialogue on Romans 10 because you've refused all necessary grounds for starting, namely, declaring your philosophical prolegomena for interpreting a received text."

You're not exactly leading by example, at least not explicitly.

(And, really, while I'm fine with simple typos, I'm not a fan of using two-dollar-words when they don't seem to mean precisely what is intended. One can be so busy trying to look smart that he forgets the need to communicate clearly.)


You write about my supposed "reluctance to hear Romans 10," but on that I'm not reluctant at all.

I'm reluctant to talk with you at length, but that has nothing to do with the subject at hand, and everything to do with the fact that you're an asshole.

The problem is you, not Romans.

I'm not reluctant to hear about the passage, but you don't seem eager to say anything clear about it that would actually prove any of your bold claims.


And, I think you completely misunderstand my position on the law. To the best of my ability, I do affirm the full implications of the law, but that does not imply that I believe we are justified by the law.

The law in its full strength emphasizes the need for salvation by God's grace, in Christ's death, and through our faith, because we cannot possibly meet the law's full demands.

Marshall Art said...

"I'll think about entering an open dialogue about interpretation when you both make the following choice"

Don't think too long. First, because you'll hurt yourself, and secondly, because your presence here isn't the blessing for us you perceive it to be. Thirdly, when we enter into an agreement regarding the ownership and management of this blog, then you can make demands on me and my guests.

Marshall Art said...

There's another problem with Feo's demands. He expects that we have an answer for absolutely every detail of the Bible, no matter how minor, no matter how obscure. That would be a legitimate demand if anyone other than himself suggested such all encompassing knowledge and understanding. But such is not necessary to be correct on a given subject. One need not know the color of Adam's eyes to understand that there is no precedent for believing God would change His mind on the subject of homo behavior. There is no parallel to such a concept except in Feo's fevered imaginings.

Feodor said...

"'when understood in context, the 'silence' passages are not negating the ministry of women, but are limiting the authority of women.'"

Bubba, I'm terribly afraid you do not understand the word, "equal." It was my contention that Paul could not see women as equally able to serve in ALL the role of ministry in the church, i.e. as "fully equal."

You counter with arguments from other gentlemen that he surely "valued and honored" women. That he valued and honored them in first century context is not in dispute. That he transcended the social context of the first century is theological vision is not under dispute. That he failed to live up to his holiest vision of life is clear.

I fear you do not understand the word, "equal."

But then I suspect you do. Your silence on the issue of slaves suggest that you probably are aware... that or you need another book to tell you how to protect scripture from that question.
________

By the way, it's not hard being an asshole to a blowhard. In fact, it's pretty much required.
________

Marshall, no response on the gay bishops and priests documented from the beginning of the Christian era to the fourteenth century?

I bet you also did not know that same-sex union liturgies have been found from Platonic Greece to Rome to the Christian Europe of both the Catholic and Orthodox churches before the Renaissance.

And conditions before giving a free seminar to you bozos do not "demands" make. You must be feeling the pressure.

Feodor said...

And what about Moses rewriting scripture and Jesus re-rewriting it?

Bubba said...

Feodor, you should prove your claim that Moses and Jesus rewrote Scripture in order to have any real reason to expect that we would address the claim.


That Paul expected slaves to submit to their masters is no evidence that he believed the institution to be moral.

You might as well argue that, because Peter taught submission both to gentle masters and to cruel masters (I Pet 2:18), he condoned cruelty as moral -- or, because Christ taught that one should not resist an evildoer who subjects him to violence and oppression (Mt 5), He condones such behavior.


About the word "equal," I wonder if you deny the equality of the Father and the Son -- or do you deny the Son's submission to the Father?

They are equal in deity, in divine power and glory, and yet the Son completely and perfectly submitted to the Father.

That Jews and Gentiles are equal in Christ, I affirm without reservation, and it appears that Paul does the same, but it does not follow that Jews and Gentiles have identical roles in history (see Rom 11).

Likewise, men and women are equal in Christ, but it does not follow that they have identical roles within the family or the church.

The young and the old are surely equal in Christ, but that doesn't obliterate the validity of the fifth commandment.


About marriage, it is enough to know that Jesus Christ is perfectly clear about why God made us male and female: there in Matthew 19 (and everywhere else) He did not rewrite Scripture but instead affirmed its divine authorship and lasting authority.

Otto Marasco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Otto Marasco said...

They will "assume" anything to further their course … Good to see I'm still on the blogroll... Otto aka, American Interests

Marshall Art said...

Otto! What a pleasant surprise! Feel free to join in at any time. And yes, I keep you on the blogroll for the very fact that as an Australian you were giving your views of American issues. I very much liked that idea, even though I came upon you so soon before you retired that blog. Though I never followed through, you had initially inspired me to seek out other blogs from other countries that focus on our country in order to get some insight on true "foreign" opinion about us. Hopefully I'll get around to doing that, but in the meantime, should an issue being discussed interest you, your slant would be most welcome. Consider also the team blog of which I am a part, "American Descent", which, while touching some of the same themes discussed here, is more about the United States since November of 2008.

Feodor said...

Bubba,

As for Moses rewriting scripture, you have Jesus own answer to questioners just in the above comments. If you not not read such simple and clear language here, there's really no hope for you.

["It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning...}

Again, I don't think you pay attention when Jesus and Paul use the Greek words for "but." You really should.
_______________

"That Paul expected slaves to submit to their masters is no evidence that he believed the institution to be moral."

I guess you can make this argument if you think Paul is either 1) ultimately unconcerned with the tepid immorality of slavery, or 2) thinks rising against inhuman, immoral slavery is a worse sin - in which case you stand against the history of the United States since the Emancipation Proclamation and stand against taking a stand against all present day forms of slavery.

When Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, advocates praying for one's enemies, turning the other cheek, and offering one's jacket as well as one's coat, the argument clearly assumes that one has the freedom to choose turning the other cheek rather than retaliating and that one has a coat and a jacket. Slaves have no choice in behavior.

So your comparison is empty of meaning and moral understanding.

Feodor said...

________________

Bubba, if you want to equate female representation with the second person of the Trinity, that's just fine with me.

You may aware that the heart of Roman Catholic objection to female priesthood is precisely that the gender cannot represent Christ in the world. I'm happy that you are taking a more enlightened view. However, I note that it seems you arrive at a more godly view by the odd route not of raising women above the estimation of decayed old values but by lowering Christ.

While temporarily creative, I don't think the grounds you provide for allowing women to represent the head of the Church - though not, in your view, God the Father - make theological sense in the long run to faith or reason.

The telling barrier to your hierarchical structure of the godhead is that it is fundamentally blasphemous to any orthodox understanding of the Trinity. Since 325 at the council of Nicaea, the Christian church has claimed that the Trinity is three "persons" and one "nature" or "substance." As this indicates that all three persons of the Trinity are, by nature, one God, then they are clearly co-equal - if even that makes any sense - for they are in com-union one God.

If by "the Son completely and perfectly submitted to the Father..." you have in mind Philippians 2 and the Son willingly "emptying himself", then you are way off base. The Father did not ask, the Son took it upon himself. It was the Son's to decide what to do, being God even as the Father and the Spirit are God. There is no hierarchy, here; there is just the glory of the Son choosing to "humble himself," by his own agency, his own nature as God. You act as if homoiousios is orthodoxy and not, as it has been since the issues was decided 1600 years ago, homoousios.

Additionally, the passage in Philippians 4 is clearly and strongly addressed to all Christians, not just women, so, again, your take veers off base and toward heretical thinking.

In the end, I could suggest to you nothing more profound than those very words from Phil. 4:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Feodor said...

Finally, your typological use of Romans 11 as applicable to gender is totally absent and unjustified by the text itself. Paul never made such an idiotic typology.

If one were to ignore the bad logic, one still comes up against the fact that, to Paul, the historical role of Israel had delimited historical timeline: from its formation to the rejection of Christ. Just how would you surmise the role of women will pass away? And whatever will they do while they wait for Christ to come again: watch men take on the only role left, like Paul thinks Jews can only watch Christians do the Lord's work in the world?

Too, too twisted, man, when one thinks your take through.

Bubba said...

Feodor, nothing I've written justifies the bizarre conclusions that you're drawing: you get so fixated on making what you think to be clever replies, that you seem to miss when your comments have nothing to do with what was written.

Rather than try to untangle your misunderstanding about my beliefs regarding the sexes, I will simply reiterate this:

Men and women are equal in Christ, but it does not follow that they have identical roles within the family or the church.


About the Trinity, I will also reiterate the Father and the Son **ARE** equal in deity, and in divine power and glory.

Nevertheless, the Bible is clear -- and Jesus Christ is clear in His own teachings -- that the Son submitted to the Father.

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want." - Mt 26:39

"Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise." - Jn 5:19

"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me." - Jn 8:28

"If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,' though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word." - Jn 8:54-55

"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." - Jn 10:17-18, cf. Jn 15:10

To summarize from above, the Son sets aside His will and submits to the will of the Father, does only what the Father does, and speaks only what the Father teaches Him to speak; He is glorified by the Father, He keeps the Father's word, and He receives commands from the Father.

There are also the impenetrable mysteries of Christ's claim to be limited to knowledge and His claim that the Father is greater than He is (Mk 13:32, Jn 14:28).

I don't believe you summarize the council accurately, but regardless the Council of Nicaea doesn't trump the clear teachings of Christ and the Bible, anymore than they are trumped by the Emancipation Proclamation.


On that subject, slavery is an institution that limits freedom, but it doesn't ELIMINATE man's free will: a slave isn't an automaton. Hence Paul and Peter's instructions to slaves, as if they can choose to serve wholeheartedly or not.


About Jesus and Moses and their supposed rewriting of Scripture, I understand that Jesus taught that Moses' instructions regarding divorce were a concession to human hard-heartedness, a concession that was not intended from the beginning.

But that doesn't mean that Moses or Christ rewrote Scripture: at least, I don't see how it does, you haven't explained how it does, and pointing out the word "but" is no substitute for a good explanation how it does.


Finally, it seems to me that Paul doesn't believe that Israel's role in history ended with their rejection of Christ, since he writes that the natural branches will be grafted back in "so all Israel will be saved" (Rom 11:23-32).