How Trustworthy is That?

In these discussions on the supposed errors in the Bible there is an unacknowledged gorilla in the room. (See Incoherent Inerrancy, Who Ya Gonna Believe, There’s Accommodation, and then There’s …?, and Check Your Facts!, God.)

Specifically it is the question of Creation as reported in Gn 1:1-2:4. For those who affirm an error-laden-inerrancy, this is the really big error in the Bible. After all, Secular Science has all but proven that evolution, both biological and cosmological, is the unquestionable fact.

Sitting in classes at WTS, it was this problem that most exercised the “young evangelicals” around me (I was in my later 30’s when I went to WTS.) Enns’ solution (God’s accommodation to man’s errors) was the “cage” that finally contained this gorilla for a number of them. I daresay, caging this particular gorilla has been at the forefront of the “error-problems” of many of the errantists participating in this blog. (I could be wrong, but …)

I admit to appreciating the angst of younger evangelicals concerning this subject. Popular culture is a serious idol to go up against. One is foolish to do so with any weapon but the honest to goodness sword of truth. If in some way Gn 1:1-2:4 on the face of it acts to dull the sword of truth, by all means let’s fix this.

The problem again begins with one’s presuppositions. I for one am not ready to crown Secular Science with inerrancy and infallibility. Meteorologists still get it wrong, crops still fail, people still die. I.e., Secular Science has a long way to go before it can claim the inerrancy/infallibility that is inherent in God’s being and His word. Thus I see the seriousness of the challenge.

But there is something more important than being laughed at by a bunch of mocking unbelievers who think any of my convictions are just so much evidence of my weak mind and foolishness. I’m not ready to conclude that God has used error to communicate some of the most critical truths in the Bible.

Assume for the sake of discussion that God’s creation account accommodates itself to the errors of the ANE cosmogonies common during Moses recording of Genesis. That is, God had Moses not record a factually accurate account, but specifically used the erroneous ANE’s creation myths as the basis for his creation story.

O.k. then, let’s deal with the question of trustworthiness, of reliability. Assuming that the account is not all pure myth (error), how do we determine what parts are true? Not what parts are true, but what hermeneutical principle(s), found in the Bible itself, will enable us to reliably determine what parts are true and can be counted upon to be trustworthy?

I dare so you will search in vain for such hermeneutical tools.

The structure of Genesis (i.e., the waw-consecutive) requires that we read the succeeding stories as one whole cloth with the creation story. But let’s limit our questioning to Gn 2-3. If the creation story is error-laden, then on what basis are we to prove that Adam is historical? If we do not have a historical Adam, then what of the Fall? I.O.W., following the necessarily logic of the error-laden-inerrancy reading of Gn 1:1-2:4, we are left concluding that Adam and the Fall are nothing more than myth, and that God used these errors to rhetorically communicate some “truth” in these passages.

Take this to its next necessary connection, Romans 5:12-20. If Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical, then Jesus’ atonement is as well. There is no other conclusion we can reach. Get this, beginning with the presupposition that Secular Science must be right, and the Bible’s creation account must be an accommodation with the ANE error-laden creation myths, we end up with nothing more than a rhetorical atonement.

How trustworthy is that?

- Reed DePace

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129 Comments

  1. Roy said,

    June 6, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Right, Reed. Gorilla, indeed. Maybe pink elephant. But there.

    My creationist position does not require me to deny “science”. It does require me to exercise skepticism. And, thank you very much, I’ll exercise skepticism first about what people claim to extract from natural revelation before I’ll exercise it contra a near consensus of the church over history regarding what the Bible says.

    Now that does not mean I’ve no puzzles, that all questions are resolved even to my own satisfaction much less universal satisfaction.

    I’ve no difficulty thinking about a universe that, given all that I can tell about the physics built into it, appears billions of years old. After all, Adam on day 6, but minutes old, not only ate fruit from days old trees. but got heated by a billions of years old star which had existed only days. (As evident to even the untutored that the trees “had to be” older than mere days, so evident to the astrophysicst that the sun must be billions of years old in order to do the job the sun does, with just right mass for earth’s orbit at the right distance, right heat output from the sun (a function of mass and age) so that the earth will get exactly the right heat at its distance, etc, etc.) So God created it all, complete, in place. No problem with trees, fruit, sunlight, river water in Eden. No problem with soil in Eden, no problem with critter death prefall, no problem with Adam being able to find erosion, coal, oil, meteor craters, moon dust, dino bones.

    All such things tell me about a God who does not make junk. Everything is just right, with complete internal consistency and coherence to any investigation, all pointing to a universe made just right for people to exist.

    But what about human bones?

    In pondering such things I insist on starting with the Bible. Take on that gorilla to start. Stomp on that elephant in the beginning. (couldn’t resist the puns….;p)

  2. Jamin Hubner said,

    June 6, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    “The structure of Genesis (i.e., the waw-consecutive) requires that we read the succeeding stories as one whole cloth with the creation story. But let’s limit our questioning to Gn 2-3. If the creation story is error-laden, then on what basis are we to prove that Adam is historical? If we do not have a historical Adam, then what of the Fall? I.O.W., following the necessarily logic of the error-laden-inerrancy reading of Gn 1:1-2:4, we are left concluding that Adam and the Fall are nothing more than myth, and that God used these errors to rhetorically communicate some “truth” in these passages.”

    Well I think we need to remember that there are three creation accounts in Genesis. The first being the largest and most mysterious (since it doesn’t identify itself as an “account” like the other two) in 1:1-2:3, the second being 2:4-2:25 which identifies itself as an “account” or “these are the records,” and the third account is in 5:1-2, the shortest summary, which also identifies itself as an “account” or “these are the records.”
    My point is that Gen 1 is unique, and the structure of Genesis promotes that. The most clear and common internal-structure of Genesis is the heading “these are the records of the generations,” which is mentioned 9 times in Genesis alone. Everything before Genesis 2:4 does Not fall into any of these categories that permeate the entire book of Genesis. It seems safe to say it was probably written for a different purpose than for “records,” or an “account.” If that’s true, than we should keep that in mind when we interpret it. As Calvin said in his commentary on the Psalms: “The Holy Spirit had no intention to teach astronomy” and on his Genesis commentaries “He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere… It must be remembered, that Moses does not speak with philosophical acuteness on occult mysteries, but relates those things which are everywhere observed, even by the uncultivated, and which are in common use.”
    Adam and Eve are real historical figures because of not Genesis 1, but because of Genesis 2, 5 and the NT testimony and interpretation of those Mosaic passages.

  3. Sirius said,

    June 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Sounds like you guys need to head over to creationletter.com and help affirm that Christians still trust in the historical reliability of the Genesis revelation.

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Get this, beginning with the presupposition that Secular Science must be right, and the Bible’s creation account must be an accommodation with the ANE error-laden creation myths, we end up with nothing more than a rhetorical atonement.

    How trustworthy is that?

    Get it. Got it. Good.

    Rhetorical atonement is not trustworthy.

    End of story. Case closed. Finito.

  5. Steven Carr said,

    June 7, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Fallible man vs. Infallible God. Hmmm…I wonder who will be victorious in the end?

  6. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Jamin, no. 2: some commentators, while admitting that “this is the record” is not found at the beginning of Gn 1, note that nevertheless the account follows the “generational” pattern.

    Regardless, the “second” creation account is organically connected to the first in that the seconf highlights a portion of the first and develops it. Thus the break is not a dramatic as you may supposed. Both are presented as history.

    This is a bit off the main point of my post here as well. You are making an exegetical argument. I’m arguing against a set of presuppositions in search of an exegetical argument.

    Do you begin with a conviction that science has proven Gn 1 must be wrong, in terms of its historicity? (The science is immaterial, as we are talking about a sovereign all powerful Creator. The critical issue is the historicity.)

    Please, no more Calvin quotes. We will just end up down a rabbit trail to prove Calvin was comfortable with the historical reliability of Gn. I believe he was, but that really does not matter. I agree with Calvin that the Bible does not intend to teach astronomy. He would agree with me that when the Bible addresses astronomical topics, it does not do so errantly.

  7. rfwhite said,

    June 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Some have turned the relation of the Genesis cosmogony to ANE cosmogonies on its head, urging that the ANE cosmogonies were actually borrowing capital from that which is recorded in Genesis: see, e.g., J. D. Davis, Genesis and Semitic Tradition, (New York: Scribner’s, 1894; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), esp. 1-22, and A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1951) 98-101.

    As many would recognize, the record of the world’s original creation in Gen 1:1-2:3 describes a constructive process by which God subdues darkness and deep so that the earth is made a place suitable for habitation. From the standpoint of the comparative study of the Bible, that account is unique among as well as similar to the cosmogonies of the ancient Near Eastern cultures. For our purposes here, the uniqueness of the biblical account is the total absence of the sine qua non of the mythological epics, namely, cosmic struggle. In stark contrast to the strenuous battles of the cognate myths, the creative transformation in Genesis comes about irresistibly by the mere word of God without a hint of conflict, and the creation account in Genesis is seen to be profoundly consistent with the broader monotheistic affirmation of Scripture. As John Day (God’s Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea: Echoes of a Canaanite Myth in the Old Testament) put it, “[t]he Old Testament itself … does not tolerate syncretism, and its monotheism … must have exerted a transforming influence on the myth [of divine conflict with the dragon and the sea], shattering its polytheistic context.” Turning that analysis around, the ANE myths of divine conflict embraced syncretism and their polytheism exerted a corrupting influence on the true account, shattering its original monotheistic context. Today’s priests of nature are really no different from the ANE priests of nature: they prefer cosmogonies of their own imaginings to the revealed creation account. Nothing new under the sun, huh?

  8. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Good stuff Dr. White.

  9. sigman76 said,

    June 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    I can’t help but see wrong-headed assumptions at play in defense of such strict creationism as have effected the church for centuries. For example, Aquinas was playing off the same wrong-headed assumption in his development of transubstantiation. He simply knew what the Bible said, “This is my Body” or “eat my flesh” and taking the authority of the Bible over reason concluded from an Aristotelian philosophy (the science of his day) that his literalistic reading was justified in or by transubstantiation. Why is it so difficult to admit the literary phenomenon of Genesis while admitting the literary phenomenon of Jesus’ statement? It seems to me you have swallowed modernism just as much as Aquinas swallowed Aristotle.

    You write, “If Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical, then Jesus’ atonement is as well”… How trustworthy is that”?
    Who are you to accuse God? If he so decides to speak rhetorically does that mean it is not true or reliable? Jesus said he was a door, does that mean he didn’t speak truly?

  10. Ron Henzel said,

    June 8, 2009 at 3:45 am

    sigman76,

    I do not believe your transubstantiation analogy works, at least not in the manner in which you intend it. First of all, the actual concept of the bread and wine being transformed to the actual body and blood of Christ did not originate with Aquinas, but was passed down to him from John of Damascus in the East (8th century) and Paschasius Radbertus in the West (9th century), the latter sparking a Eucharistic controversy that lasted into the late 11th century when Western church doctrine finally coalesced around the doctrine that would later be known as transubstantiation after Aquinas employed Aristotelian categories to explain it in the 13th century.

    Secondly, If you look at Summa Theologica 3Q75, you can see that Aquinas based his doctrine not on the logic of Aristotle, but on his interpretation of John 6:54 (with obvious implications for his exegesis of Mat. 26:26, Mk. 14:22, Lu. 22:19, and 1 Co. 11:24) and on those church fathers who agreed with him (even if it did appear to set him against Augustine). Only when he began to deal with technical questions regarding the mechanics of transubstantiation did he resort to the classic categories of “substance” and “accidents.”

    Therefore Aquinas did not derive transubstantiation from Aristotelian categories any more than people today derive strict creationism from modernistic categories. He may have sought support for it in “the Philosopher,” but he sought its source in Scripture and tradition. So regardless of what Brian McLaren or anyone else in the pseudo-intellectual Emerging Church might tell you, the literal interpretation of Scripture was not an invention of the Enlightenment. But in the meantime the irony of your analogy consists in the fact that, when the actual history is considered, it works in reverse: just as Aquinas did not arrive at transubstantiation by swallowing Aristotle, so also our contemporaries have not arrived a strict creationism by swallowing modernism.

    So the real issue comes down to the rules of hermeneutics—specifically, how do we distinguish figures of speech from literal expressions? I think you would have done better to start at that point rather than with the discreditable “There’s Nothing Wrong With Today’s Church That Can’t Be Solved By Postmodernism (Or At Least Eschewing Modernism)” approach. But at least you eventually get around to the real issue, even if you mount up on your ersatz-apostolic high horse and point the long, threatening lance of your own rhetorical misappropriation of Romans 9:20 when you write:

    Who are you to accuse God? If he so decides to speak rhetorically does that mean it is not true or reliable? Jesus said he was a door, does that mean he didn’t speak truly?

    The problem here is that I can’t figure out how you could have read Reed’s entire post and concluded from it that he was saying that God cannot use rhetorical devices to communicate His truth. He was saying nothing of the kind. If I may move the italics in his original sentence for clarification, he was addressing those who say “…that God used these errors to rhetorically communicate some ‘truth’ in these passages.” The question is not whether God can use rhetoric to communicate truth, but whether God can use errors as rhetorical devices to communicate truth.

    You can come down off your horse now. And put that lance away before you put somebody’s eye out.

  11. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 8, 2009 at 7:12 am

    “And put that lance away before you put somebody’s eye out.”

    Perhaps the cautious warning should be to put his lance down so that he won’t poke his other eye out. He’s already a one-eyed horseman.

    ;-)

  12. sigman76 said,

    June 8, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Ron,

    Thanks for the concern…I do appreciate both my eyes.

    You wrote “Therefore Aquinas did not derive transubstantiation from Aristotelian categories”. That was NOT my argument. I agree with that. What I DID say was that he elevated this literal reading of Jesus over reason. THEREFORE, in order to bring both reason and scripture together he developed or furthered transubstantiation in and by philosophical categories. He had swallowed Aristotle in the sense that it was the only way he could apparently make sense of both the text and sense. As protestants we have rejected transubstantiation on both theological and hermeneutical grounds. We believe that Jesus did say “this is my body” but we also believe it doesn’t mean it literally. Therefore it is not literally true nor is it scientifically true according to protestant belief.
    By analogy, we can do what Aquinas did and read Gen 1 literally, as 6 days of creation and justify the reading by “creation science” or we can understand Gen 1 as rhetoric, or story, or myth. As untrue literally or scientifically but nevertheless being true in what it is communicating theologically. In other words, if you want to swallow modernism then God does use error to communicate truth. Or you can understand that God communicates truth by various rhetorical devices.

  13. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 8, 2009 at 8:50 am

    #12 sigman76

    “As protestants we have rejected transubstantiation on both theological and hermeneutical grounds.”

    And as protestants we have rejected the erranists arguments of myths and errors based on both theological and hermeneutical grounds. You argued that the defenders against myths and errors have fallen prey to modernism, well, I’ll give my quick 2 cents and say the people who accepted concepts of myths and errors have fallen prey to post-modernism.

    The issue isn’t simply about how do you want to read Gen 1, or what are the valid reads for each particular sections of the Bible and then argue on the percentage of probability on which read is the most valid. But instead what does the Bible revealed about God and His being, and how is that related to what the Bible revealed about itself, and then how does that informed us on our hermeneutical models. And then we apply that model consistently to all the Scripture (taken into account on the genre, grammar, context, content, etc.)

    But I am glad you are here to provide intellectual interchange. There was this old question that is asked repeatedly again and again with no response, so perhaps you can help us shed light on this.

    What is the model/paradigm that you use that differentiate between myths, “rhetoric”, story, etc.? For example: what’s stopping you from saying Jesus is just a story, rhetoric, or simply a myth? Or the death/resurrection? Or any other supposively historical narratives? What gives you assurance (and the hermeneutical model that you use) you can tell the Church which parts are myths, which parts are stories, and which parts are true historical events?

  14. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Sigman, no. 9: I’m sorry but your first name again please? Thanks.

    I have some sympathy with your concern, althought I agree with RF that your Aquinas analogy does not work.

    I am not about to let Secular Science or Creation Science tell me, “x, y, and z must be exactly the explanation of the details of creation,” because their calling is not to provide a “thus saith the Lord” objectivity, regardless of whether it is in opposition to or in support of the Genesis account. Theories are fantastic, and I’m grateful that God blesses our efforts to discover more about how his creation works. Yet, I’m not about to rest my convictions upon a particular theory that attempts to fill in the blanks.

    As long as it does not conflict with what God has said (and make him out to be a liar), and it works (more or less), I’m comfortable with any theory(ies) about the details God has not spelled out.

  15. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Sigman, no. 9: continuing …

    However, when you juxtapose a literary Adam (and Eve) vs. a historical Adam, you are outside the pale of Orthodoxy.

    Of course God could have merely used rhetorical as the backdrop for redemption. The question is not whether or not he could have, the question is what has he told us.

    The “rhetorical only” is an attempt to avoid the problem I am challenging here. I happen to believe that there is a literary structuring in Gen 1:1-2:3, (i.e., couplet of days, place for life, tohu, bohu.) I think it is weak exegesis to not pick up on this.

    However, to conclude that this literary structuring is ALL the passage is doing requires reading into one’s exegesis a presupposition from outside. “Of course, Secular Science has shown that creation could not have followed this pattern, therefore Gen 1:1-2:3 is only literary, and not intended to be read historically.”

    On what exegetical basis do you conclude that the literary structuring of Gen 1:1-2:4 is not also the historical structuring of the actual creation work of God? All you’ve offered is an opinion based not on what Scripture says, but on what Secular Science demands. Since Secular Science “is corret,” therefore you have to find a way out of the dilemma of having the Bible contradict Secular Science.

    Hence, a literary only exegesis of Gen 1:1-2:3.

    Not only does this fly in the face of the immediate context, and the rest of Genesis (and Pentateuch of which Genesis is the cornerstone) … Quite simply, that flies in the face of the rest of the Bible, which reads the creation account historically. You insist on literay only here, and you’ve got a huge (at least appearance of) contradiction with rest of the Bible.

    Specifically you blow the atonement – if there is no historical Adam, then our account for the source of sin and its inheritance by all men is not fact, but merely rhetorical fiction akin to Aesop’s Fables. Jesus’ atonement is presented in a 1-for-1 fashion; as Adam, so Jesus in terms of federal headship; as Adam, contra Jesus in terms of obedience to the Law.

    At most the rhetorical Adam-rhetorical Fall leaves one with a rhetorical atonement, i.e., the moral theory of the atonement. This is heresy.

    You cannot have a rhetorical Adam and still be within the pale of the Church for which Christ died for, for he himself believes in a historical Adam.

  16. sigman76 said,

    June 8, 2009 at 9:37 am

    RS,

    That is a good question. My initial response would be what you claim for yourself, to take “into account on the genre, grammar, context, content, etc.”. Is it not possible, and I think that it is, that a Biblical genre can be myth. Parables are not true but they communicate truth. I’m inclined to say that Gen 1 is not true but it communicates truth. It is in a genre of myth.

    The “thing” stopping me from saying Jesus is just a story is verified history. Jesus was a historical person…even the strongest critics acknowledge this. Furthermore, as NT Wright has shown as well as so many others, that his claims, the resurrection serve to verify not only his historical existence but his authority. But perhaps that is not quite what you are after.

    You write, “any other supposively historical narratives”. That is the crux. What is historical narrative? Gospels are not historical narrative in the sense we are use to. It is not a CNN report. But Gospels as a genre are different in kind than many narratives in the OT including Gen. 1. This is the case, among other reasons, merely by the fact that the two developed in very different social-cultural situations.

  17. Pete Myers said,

    June 8, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I sympathise with sigman in that I think there are other points in scripture’s narrative where I would want to draw a more clear hard and fast line between those who accept the Bible’s testimony about history and those who don’t. The vast majority of my peers don’t believe that Genesis 1 is historical. Blocher’s little book on this is very popular. So, it’s maybe not the best place to draw the line, as, Blocher and those who follow him really want to emphasise scripture’s infallibility with regards to what it teaches historically, they just don’t think scripture teaches 6 day creation historically.

    Having said that my personal view is that genesis 1 is a historical record and not simply a rhetorical device.

  18. Ron Henzel said,

    June 8, 2009 at 10:24 am

    sigman76,

    Regarding your comment #12, you wrote:

    You wrote “Therefore Aquinas did not derive transubstantiation from Aristotelian categories”. That was NOT my argument. I agree with that.

    I apologize for my lack of precision in capturing your point. But since you did not mention it, I think you may have missed one of my core points: “Aquinas based his doctrine…on his interpretation of John 6:54…and on those church fathers who agreed with him… he sought its source in Scripture and tradition.” My primary reason for bringing the church fathers and tradition into this is to point out that Aquinas perceived himself as standing within the received teaching of the church. You may agree with this point as well, but I think it’s still worth pressing the point that Aquinas did not have to “swallow” something that was novel or fashionable in his day (viz., Aristotelianism) in order to assent to transubstantiation. Likewise, a literal interpretation of Genesis by someone today is not an automatic indication that such a person has “swallowed” modernism.

    You wrote:

    What I DID say was that he elevated this literal reading of Jesus over reason.

    Well, actually, what you said was that Aquinas was guilty of “taking the authority of the Bible over reason” (emphasis mine). That is a different animal altogether. In your opinion, which has greater authority: the Bible or human reason?

    You wrote:

    THEREFORE, in order to bring both reason and scripture together he developed or furthered transubstantiation in and by philosophical categories.

    I think it’s more accurate to say that he defended transubstantiation with Aristotelian categories.

    But I think you’re missing something huge here: philosophy was the “science” of Aquinas’s day. Science as we now know it began as either (depending on who you listen to) a late-Renaissance or a post-Renaissance phenomenon. When people in the High Middle Ages wanted answers to what we today consider “scientific” questions (e.g., “Is the Earth the center of the universe?” “Do heavy objects fall faster than light objects?”) they turned to philosophers like Aristotle. There was no academic category called “science” that was separate from philosophy.

    So, instead of strict creationists being the ones acting like Aquinas, who used philosophy (read: “science”) to support his interpretation of Scripture, it is actually people like you who are acting like Aquinas.

    You wrote:

    He had swallowed Aristotle in the sense that it was the only way he could apparently make sense of both the text and sense.

    You mean, the way you have swallowed modern science as the only way you can apparently make sense of the text?

    Backing up a bit here: I would say that he felt it was the most effective way to defend transubstantiation against the figurative interpretation of Christ’s words of institution in the Eucharist, which, I think we need to keep in mind, had a pedigree in historical theology that was at least as old as Aquinas’s, and while he did not grant it validity Aquinas seems very much aware of that fact. Aquinas did not need the categories of “substance” and “accidents” to “make sense” of his view. He simply used them as apologetic tools.

    You wrote:

    As protestants we have rejected transubstantiation on both theological and hermeneutical grounds. We believe that Jesus did say “this is my body” but we also believe it doesn’t mean it literally.

    You’ll hear no disagreement from me on this point.

    But then you wrote:

    Therefore it is not literally true nor is it scientifically true according to protestant belief.

    I’m not sure what purpose your word “scientifically” serves here other than to act as a segue for your concept of strict creationism as being less than scientific. But then that simply demonstrates once again you’re doing what Aquinas did, doesn’t it?

    But let’s stop and think for a moment: if it turned out that transubstantiation was, in fact, an exegetically sound doctrine, then it would be a miracle, and the question of what science may be able to say about miracles would involve us in an entirely different discussion. Of course, the kind of creation that Genesis describes is, in fact, miraculous, but that does not keep you from writing the following:

    By analogy, we can do what Aquinas did and read Gen 1 literally, as 6 days of creation and justify the reading by “creation science” or we can understand Gen 1 as rhetoric, or story, or myth.

    So we can read it either as an account of the first series of miracles performed by God, or as “rhetoric, or story, or myth.” And only if we fall into the trap that snared Aquinas (and presumably multitudes before and after him) will we make the mistake of reading Genesis literally. That’s an interesting choice you present.

    I was trying to avoid this, I can’t resist. Since it is the case that, just as Aquinas appealed to the science of his day to support his interpretation of the Eucharist, so also you appeal to the science of our day to support your interpretation of the creation accounts, I need to ask: if a modern chemist had been present at the wedding at Cana, along with any equipment he might have needed to analyze the water that Jesus commanded to be poured into the jars, as well as the wine that was later poured out of them, what kind of “scientific” conclusion would he have been able to draw about what actually happened between the time it was poured in and the time it was poured out?

    Now, let’s assume that such a chemist had only arrived after the water had been turned into wine. What kind of conclusion would he have most likely drawn about the account of pouring simple water into the jars?

    Now, neither chemist has the tools to determine what actually happened inside the jars. That, in itself, limits what science is able to say about miracles. But more to the point of current attempts to reconcile Genesis with current scientific thinking: modern scientists are not like the chemist who was there both before, during, and after the water-into-wine miracle. They are like the chemist who showed up after the event. They not only lack the tools to determine what happened in the jar, but also cannot scientifically address the issue of the nature of the liquid that was poured into the jars. They only see the results, not the causes. Therefore, they cannot observe or measure what happened before they arrived on the scene. All they can do is interpret the results in a way that fits with their presuppositions and biases.

    You wrote:

    As untrue literally or scientifically but nevertheless being true in what it is communicating theologically.

    I question the value of the words “literally” and “scientifically” at this point in the discussion. More than one interpretation has laid claim to a “literal” interpretation of Genesis 1-2 (I am thinking specifically of John Sailhamer’s thesis in Genesis Unbound alongside more traditional literal approaches), and since no one was actually present during the actual creation (or evolution) of the universe to record the kind of empirical data on which modern science supposedly relies, I do not see how any claim about what actually happened at that time can possibly be falsified (to use Karl Popper’s now standard definition for what constitutes a “scientific” proposition).

    You wrote:

    In other words, if you want to swallow modernism then God does use error to communicate truth. Or you can understand that God communicates truth by various rhetorical devices.

    Some choice! What’s behind Door #3?

  19. Mike said,

    June 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    “God used these errors to rhetorically communicate some “truth” in these passages”…yes I believe that is quite right. Truth does not have to be true.

  20. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Mike: new here to GB? Please introduce yourself (general locale, church affiliation, whether or not you serve in an officer/ministerial capacity, anything you think would be helpful for us to track with your comments.)

    E.g., can’t quite tell if your comment is to be read as sarcasm. Please help.

  21. Ken Christian said,

    June 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Truly excellent post, Reed. Thanks much!

  22. rfwhite said,

    June 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    How about this: secularists try vainly to transfer the Creator’s attributes of eternality and personhood to the creation by ascribing both an ever-lengthening chronology and an organic teleology to creation?

  23. Mike said,

    June 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Reed #20.

    Yes new to GB. I have been a Christian for over 30 years serving in mostly lay capacities but also in church leadership roles. I live and work in SE Pennsylvania and am familiar with the situation at WTS.

    I found your website from another site. I am afraid that my comment was not meant as sarcasm. I have struggled with this concept of inerrancy for quite a while now so appreciate the discussion(s) on this website. Much as I would like to hold onto an idea of inerrancy (however defined) I find it is a concept that I can no longer hold on to. I know that position sets me up as the arbiter of my own idea of truth…but so be it. I have begun to be at peace with that.

    I am going to read Eagleton’s new book. should be a good read

  24. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Hello Mike: thank you for your frankness and transparency.

    I do understand how one can go in the direction you are going. Sadly, it is not evidence of the Spirit’s work.

    You are moving from a position of submission to One Trustworthy Authority to a position of submission to the tyranny of the opinions of men. Eagleton’s book, Enns’ Sparks’, all will merely give you more opinions of fallible men.

    Surely that is not what the One Who said, “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free,” intended for His children.

    I know I’m leaving a gaping hole of assumption here (i.e., why is my “opinion” better than anyone elses.) I do not mean to sound perjorative or arrogant. In a few days I hope to post a new comment that will deal with this whole issue of tyranny of opinion.

  25. Reed Here said,

    June 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Mike: p.s. for clarification sake. The blog is owned by Rev. Lane Keister. I’m just a hired hand. You can tell from my writing that I’m a really cheap hire. :)

  26. Pete Myers said,

    June 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Mike,

    What else have you read on the subject?

  27. ReformedSinner said,

    June 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    #23 MIke,

    Without arguing with you on the issue of inerrancy, without discussing Enns’ position, without even discussing about your faith, but this statement of yours:

    “I know that position sets me up as the arbiter of my own idea of truth…but so be it. I have begun to be at peace with that.”

    Do you seriously have no problem with what you just said here? Are you truly at a better place? The only resolution for your struggle with inerrancy is making yourself the arbiter of truth?

    Sorry, something is seriously amiss here and I hope I’m over-reading your statement.

  28. ReformedSinner said,

    June 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    #16,

    “The “thing” stopping me from saying Jesus is just a story is verified history. Jesus was a historical person…even the strongest critics acknowledge this.”

    So your reason to accept Jesus is not because the Bible says Jesus is a real person, but because academic critics verified history and acknowledge it. The problem with your logic is, 5000 years from now, let’s say the world has two more world wars, and most civilization have been destroyed and historical records lost and the only data we have on the Greco-Roman world is a few fragments and the entirety of the Bible. People making the type of arguments you are can say “Jesus may or may not be real, but that’s not the point, the point is God accommodates to human error. Back then the people like to have mythic divine salvation figures (we know that from the few fragments we have), so it’s also very possible that Jesus is just a made up person as God incarnate divine warrior and it’s legend is for the purpose of apologetic to fight against the other mythic divine salvation figures of Greco-Roman world. Any more attempt to read into the Jesus story as historical or actual is false and not needed for truths sake.”

    Second, as for your “parable” vs. “creation” it’s an illogical comparison. You claim to take seriously genre, context, content, grammar, etc. If you do you can make no such comparison. Parable is a parable by literary convention (the genre and syntax demonstrates they are parable and to be read like a parable). The Creation account, in the original Hebrew, in genre and grammar, are meant to be read literally. Moses was not making any metaphor or a parable when he wrote it (nothing in genre nor syntax nor grammar suggests it’s metaphorical). Now you don’t like it that’s fine, find a way to explain it that does justice to the original writer’s intend. To claim Moses’ creation account is just the same as a Parable is just as absurd as one tries to demand readers to read Jesus’ parables literally and non-metaphorically.

  29. Mike said,

    June 9, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Thanks all for the responses…this has been a difficult journey but one that I am not afraid to take. RS #27 in response to your question “do I seriously have a problem with what I said here?” The answer is “yes”…but I don’t see a viable alternative that I can live with. Many of my well-meaning friends have given me the “slippery slope speech” but I can’t live in the land of inerrancy any more without living with some serious congnitive dissonance. Some of the discussion between the groups is helpful (even if it gets a little heated and downright nasty at times) but for those of us who once held the idea of inerrancy and no longer do, the conversation is challenging. I kind of view it as a one-way door…that once we pass thru it it is impossible to go back.

    Pete #26 I have read a LOT almost until the point that I am tired of reading…some examples have been the neo post moderns McKnight, McLaren, etc. also Enns, Sparks but I have also read Keller,Beale, Mohler, Carson etc. I have interacted on other blogs (like this one). I think I have an understanding of the arguments for and against.

    Reed #24 regarding the work of the Spirit to reveal truth…I agree with your statement (that I take on faith) that the Spirit will reveal truth to us…but to me that does not include belief in inerrancy for this to happen. I don’t have to believe in a literal creation as described in Gen to believe that the truths revealed in Gen are any less applicable to me even if they are “true”. This is what I base my faith on.

    I hope this is not coming off as arrogant. It isn’t meant to be…I will freely admit that I do not have all of the answers, but I am OK with that. I continue to seek truth where it may be found but in the words of that great theologian Bono…” I still haven’t found what I’m looking for..”

  30. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

    #29,

    “I can’t live in the land of inerrancy any more without living with some serious congnitive dissonance”

    They are?

  31. Todd said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Mike,

    As an old-earth, non literal six day inerranist, I’m wondering, if from your perspecitve, the modern young-earth creationist dogmatism pushed you to a errant position, or are there other “smoking guns” in the Bible that you cannot reconcile with inerrancy. Thanks for your honesty.

  32. Mike said,

    June 9, 2009 at 11:46 am

    RS #30. I have learned to frame these discussion in terms of my own perceptions and not try and imply anything more than that. So to me there is a cognitive dissonance created. I realize these concepts may not do the same for others.

    Todd #31 yes there are other “smoking guns” for me from the Bible that I think have already been well discussed, but I would say Genesis is the “biggie”. For example, your view point of a non-literal six-day would be been considered blaphemous…or scandalous not all that long ago….yet we accomodated for the growing body of science about earth’s creation to come up with an alternative view. As our knowledge of evolution grows we will see another shift probably within our lifetimes.

    I don’t want people to think that I think the Bible is just another book or that I am a “Bible-basher”. The Bible is a very special book and time has proved that…but I do think it represents pre-modern man trying to understand and explain his world under the framework of monotheism, some of which is true (literally) and some of which is not. I am OK with that. It acutally makes the Bible more real to me and shows me an imperfect picture of who God is without my needing to “get it right” and the things that I have wrong…He will have to forgive me for. I think God is that big.

    Blessings to you all as you seek him.

  33. Pete Myers said,

    June 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    #32 Mike,

    There’s probably a lot of things that will come out in discussion. But just on this 5 day creation thing.

    As it happens, I’m persuaded of 6 day creation. However, there has been debate over the matter throughout the history of the church. As far back as the 4th century St Augustine believed that Genesis 1 was a rhetorical device, and that God had created the universe and everything in it in a single moment of time.

    His reasons are complicated, because he had a slightly larger canon than we do, and one of the books he considered to be scripture taught that the universe was created in an instant. Augustine was harmonising these accounts.

    Either way, Augustine was fine believing that Genesis 1 wasn’t a literal account.

    So, it’s not entirely accurate to suggest, as you did, that it was basically “heresy” not to believe in 6 day creation until not so long ago. It’s a matter that’s been debated for a long time in the Christian church, and there is a good exegetical argument that can be put forward for the argument that Genesis 1 is literary and not literal. Henri Blocher wrote an influential book on this called “In the beginning”.

  34. riorancho said,

    June 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Mike,

    Pete is exactly right, and the old Princeton guys who fought for inerrancy were generally old earth guys, so are you sure you are not building walls where there are none?

  35. Mike said,

    June 9, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Pete #33. thanks for the response. You have taught me something I did not know before and for that I am grateful.

    I guess my question back though is that ancient questions/debate about a literal 6-day creation is not based on science. The modern challenge is based on scientific evidence (whether one chooses to believe in the evidence or not) ..hence it moves from the philosophical or exegetical challenge to a scientific one…and I believe that is different…thus still creating the cognitive dissonance….for me anyway.

    BTW, don’t you wish we could sometimes have these discussions face-to-face? Blogging is a great tool but it certainly has its limitations doesn’t it?

  36. ReformedSinner said,

    June 9, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    #34 Mike,

    The question of Genesis and its creation account has always been discussed deeply by theologians/pastors since the Early Church Fathers. However, all of them (including modern discussions) are based on Scripture (the good ones anyway), it is inaccurate to say today’s discussion are a (and only) reaction to science.

    Second, it would also be wrong to think that people of the past discuss Genesis without taking science into account. All generations struggle with the issue of Creation over against what they observe in their generation, their worldview, and yes, their science.

    We cannot escape our culture and world, that is who we are. However, we also recognize that ultimately it’s the Word of God that challenges and rebukes us, not science. Now, science made force us to rethink about some aspects, to challenge us on our past assumptions, but that does not mean it dictates current discussions. Many people have been challenged by science and decided to rebuke orthodox teachings, but just as many if not more has been challenged by science, study the Scriptures more carefully, and affirmed their faith in orthodox teachings.

  37. sigman76 said,

    June 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    RS #28

    You write: “So your reason to accept Jesus is not because the Bible says Jesus is a real person, but because academic critics verified history and acknowledge it”

    That’s not what I said and its a bit out of context. I accept Jesus because He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own and the joy we share as we tarry here, none other has ever known.

    5000 years from now the rapture will have either happened or we will have developed time machines to go back and verify history.

    You also write: “The Creation account, in the original Hebrew, in genre and grammar, are meant to be read literally”.

    Is there an un-original Hebrew? I would disagree however, the genre is Biblical myth and is not meant to be read literally. Oh, I also don’t think Moses wrote it either.

  38. Mike said,

    June 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    RS #35, thanks for your response…with regard to whether the challenges to a literal 6-day creation interpretation come from the theological or scientific world….all I can say is that we must run in different circles. I am more exposed to a Dawkins/Hitchens type crowd..for better or worse.

  39. ReformedSinner said,

    June 9, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    #36 sigman,

    I did not quote you out of context, your context makes no mentioning of your faith. This is what you said direclty in post #16 on the Jesus question:

    “The “thing” stopping me from saying Jesus is just a story is verified history. Jesus was a historical person…even the strongest critics acknowledge this. Furthermore, as NT Wright has shown as well as so many others, that his claims, the resurrection serve to verify not only his historical existence but his authority. But perhaps that is not quite what you are after.”

    People can go read the entirety of post #16 if they want, there is no mentioning about your faith so your accusation that I quoted you out of context is false, although I am glad you’re adding it here at #36.

    Also, please answer my question instead of hiding behind a witty remark. Based on your system and doctrine of Scripture, what’s stopping Christians in the future, with the lost of historical records and only have fragments of information (the same way we have of ANE material), from saying Jesus was a made up story (the same way many people have no problem saying Adam was a made up story)?

    I will repeat my argument again: “The problem with your logic is, 5000 years from now, let’s say the world has two more world wars, and most civilization have been destroyed and historical records lost and the only data we have on the Greco-Roman world is a few fragments and the entirety of the Bible. People making the type of arguments you are can say “Jesus may or may not be real, but that’s not the point, the point is God accommodates to human error. Back then the people like to have mythic divine salvation figures (we know that from the few fragments we have), so it’s also very possible that Jesus is just a made up person as God incarnate divine warrior and it’s legend is for the purpose of apologetic to fight against the other mythic divine salvation figures of Greco-Roman world. Any more attempt to read into the Jesus story as historical or actual is false and not needed for truths sake.”

    Original Hebrew means “OT, in the original langauge of the Hebrew form”, but if you feel like you need to make a jestful comment in the blog, for whatever reason, go ahead.

    You would disagree: fine, fair, you are entitled to your opinion. However, there’s a difference believinig it is a myth and claiming it is written as a myth. Moses (yes Moses, but feel free to disagree) wrote it as history. There is no evidence in the language of Hebrew genre as you suggested that it is written as a myth. The modern academic arrogance that assumes all the ancients were too dumb to differentiate between writing history and writing myth is evident in you, and has been thoroughly proven to be a false paradigm and dichotomy.

    But then again your mind’s already made up, so that’s fine, again, this blog is for expression of opinions and arguments.

  40. ReformedSinner said,

    June 9, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    #37 Mike,

    I read Dawkins and Hitchens, I must say I am both impress and disappointed. Impress that they know how to write and grab a reader’s attention and manipulate them, and how to win an argument convincingly. Disappointed that the substance and content of their writings and arguments are so shallow. I’ve seen and heard way better challenges to the Christian faith from lesser known, non-prolific-writers, but that just goes to show the power of the pen is not in the content but the presentation.

  41. Mike said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    RS #40..agree these guys (Dawkins/Hitchens) get a lot of press…most of which is undeserved. I have seen Dawkins speak and he is convincing on some points but clearly does not have the depth of knowledge to speak in theological terms as well as he does evolutionary biology

  42. sigman76 said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    RS #39

    I said your quote was out of context because I took the words “accept Jesus” as more than just a historical position. In my post I was drawing upon the perponderance of non-biblical evidence as more than adequate to reason for the historicity of Jesus than the absence of extra-biblical historical evidence for the creation myth. However, I will qualify that I am talking about extra-biblical evidence. This is important because the Bible is still a historical record. Even if you don’t believe in its inspiriation it is still historical.
    For me the issue is this: Extra-biblical historical evidence of whatever its source (archeology, ANE ms, etc) sould supplement our understanding of the Biblical record. It doesn’t over-ride but supplements. So we have the clear biblical warrent for knowing that Jesus is a historical figure (and much more!) from the Bible. Extra-biblical evidence supplements this. However, for the Creation there is no extra-biblical evidence for claiming that a literal reading of Gen is the right way to understand the text. Moreover, there is mounting extra-biblical evidence that creation did not happen in a mere 6 days or in the order it is said, etc. Thus, I think it is more than likely that christian tradition has mis-read the narrative. Perhaps that does not answer your hypothetical question except that if we only have a biblical record then that is what we would go by…yet that is far different from what we have today.

  43. ReformedSinner said,

    June 9, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    #42 sigman,

    “For me the issue is this: Extra-biblical historical evidence of whatever its source (archeology, ANE ms, etc) sould supplement our understanding of the Biblical record.”

    In theory I do not disagree with this. Just like I do not disagree with this statement: “Science should be consistent with Biblical revelation.” But I would nuance that by saying the RIGHT science, the one that conforms to Biblical worldview. Since when is Bible just one of the authority and not the ultimate authority? However, today we know no matter how helpful science might be in improving human lives, there are tensions between science and Biblical revelation, not because Biblical revelation is wrong, but we know science is imperfect, flaw, and fallible.

    In the same way, that’s the relationship between “extra-Biblical history” and “Biblical history”. Why do I believe in the Bible’s account as superior to extra-Biblial account? Simply because I know extra-Biblical history, as product of man, is imperfect, flawed, and fallible. Reed did a good piece on this that I cannot say it any better. Why do you assumed ANE data we have today is so great that not only does it supplement your knowledge of Biblical history, but actually informs your theology (in this case Genesis?) That is the difference.

    “However, for the Creation there is no extra-biblical evidence for claiming that a literal reading of Gen is the right way to understand the text. Moreover, there is mounting extra-biblical evidence that creation did not happen in a mere 6 days or in the order it is said, etc. Thus, I think it is more than likely that christian tradition has mis-read the narrative.”

    Wow: point 1 – “there is no extra-biblical evidence for claiming that a literal reading of Gen is the right way to understand the text” – wow, so our understanding of the Bible needs to be approved by extra-Biblical evidence. At this point I am very interested to hear you say just how much of the OT do you really believe to be actual history and not mythology.

    point 2 – lack of extra-biblical evidence on a particular theological point (in this case Genesis) means the Church more than likely read it wrong.

    So…. the Church should check with the academia from now on about the Church’s theology? Check.

    Thanks. I really appreciate your responses sincerely.

  44. Todd said,

    June 10, 2009 at 8:17 am

    “However, for the Creation there is no extra-biblical evidence for claiming that a literal reading of Gen is the right way to understand the text.”

    Sigman,

    In your mind is there extra-biblical evidence that Christ literally rose from the dead? What would that evidence be?

    Thanks,

    Todd

  45. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 10, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Reed: “But there is something more important than being laughed at by a bunch of mocking unbelievers who think any of my convictions are just so much evidence of my weak mind and foolishness. I’m not ready to conclude that God has used error to communicate some of the most critical truths in the Bible.”

    Granted. However, what do you think when the laughing and mocking that’s directed at you is coming from other professing believers who think your convictions are just so much evidence of your weak mind and foolishness?

  46. Reed Here said,

    June 10, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Sigman76: osrry, but I must ask again, your first name please. Lane does not allow annonymity on the blog, merely for protection of all of us from the dreaded blog troll (he’s real, has lot’s of cousins too :-).)

    Anyway, please, who are you, where ya from, what’s your church affiliation, do you hold church office.

    Thanks for abiding by the rules of the blog.

  47. Reed Here said,

    June 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Daniel, no. 45: comes with the territory.

    In theory, I recognize that such responses from professed believers who are presenting an arugment rooted in wordly convictions rather than biblical convictions, means one of two things:

    > Either they are false professing believers, who will be exposed in time,
    > Or they are immature true believers who will be mattured in time.

    In the end, the WCF’s chapter on Liberty of Conscious is huge for me in such issues. I truly do place my faith in God’s promises summarized in that chapter. It pains me to see proffesed brothers respond they way they have in these past series of posts. Even right here on this one we’ve seen two brothers post comments which demonstrate that in some ways they are still gripped by the tyranny of unbelief. I am saddened when I consider the painful process they will be brought through as God purifies their faith.

    I am nevertheless encouraged that God will indeed free His people fully, and so comment in faith that my words witnessing to the gospel, however weak and foolish they may be in fact or in appearance, will be used of God.

    Truth is, I’m more than weak and foolish in my own being. Laughing at me here really means nothihng compared to what God has shown me He has freed me from in His Son.

    Joyfully, heartily, at and times ROTFL so hard I can’t breath – reed

  48. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 10, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Deep thanks for your response Reed. I wasn’t familiar with the Liberty of Conscience chapter of WCF and I just looked it up. Looks good, well-reasoned, and Scriptural.

    In theory, I recognize that such responses from professed believers who are presenting an argument rooted in wordly convictions rather than biblical convictions, means one of two things:

    > Either they are false professing believers, who will be exposed in time,
    > Or they are immature true believers who will be matured in time.”

    I buy this dichotomy. With regards to both cases, the WCF states the following: “And for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or to the power of godliness; or such erroneous opinions or practices as, either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the Church; they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the Civil Magistrate.

    Obviously, we don’t have a state church in America per our Founding Fathers. (Which is a good thing).

    However, I was thinking of the spectrum of responses that mature believers can make towards both the false professing believer and the immature believer.

    One response is the “Do Nothing” response. What do you think of that response? And do you see that response occurring? If so, what are the fruits and consequences that you see as a result of the “do nothing” response?

    Another response is the Great Commission response, i.e., to make disciples. Part of making disciples is challenging, exhorting, rebuking, encouraging, censuring. However, unbelievers see rebuke and censure and polemics as quarreling, squabbling, fighting, and arguing and the Enemy uses this (mis)perception to damage the Gospel Witness of the Church. And to divide the Church. Is it within the realm of consideration that disciple-making in its general principled sense can be used by Satan to damage the witness of the Gospel?!!! Aaaargh….

    A fellow weak fool for the Lord Jesus.

  49. Reed Here said,

    June 10, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Daniel, yeah, you’re feeling the significance of the struggle. Note as well that a blog is an expression of the Church Universal that is really quite new, and so different from previous contexts that it will take some time work out biblical applications.

    At this point in my experience I try to remember that there are always three parties reading what I post, and I have gospel obligations to all three:

    > God himself,
    > The person to whom I am responding,and
    > Readers who are not responding but are nevertheless participating.

    In general I prayerfully pursue the discipleship angle, recognzing that there is some mutuality to it (iron-sharpens-iron), some apologetic to it, some polemic to it, some instruction to it, always learning to it, occassionally some refuting and/or rebuking to it, and the possibility of some witnessing as well.

    Above all, I prayerfully seek to communicate in an irenic-humble manner. I’ve regularly failed at this and am grateful for God’s and my brother/sister’s forgiveness. In this regard I particularly look to the models of the number of very godly commenters here, who provide me with examples of how to set the right tone and balance.

    In the end, I recognize that I need to make sure that I clearly and forthrightly present the truth of the gospel, no matter how well I can or cannot stand up to the challenges I believe are detrimental to the gospel.

    So, I keep plugging away. Hope this helps.

  50. sigman76 said,

    June 10, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Reed:
    This is steve. I live outside philly. attend a PCA church.

    Todd:
    NT Wright gives great extra-biblical reasons for the resurrection. That is not why I believe but they are good reasons supporting my belief.

    RS #43
    Our understanding of the Bible does not need to be approved by extra-biblical stuff but we do profit by it. It can serve to correct and inform our understanding of the text. as for the OT, I am currently hard pressed to say I believe many of the stories in the OT actually occurred such as the Exodus.
    The church does not need to check with academia for its theology. It seems to me that much of the discussion is not in strictly academia but in seminaries and with those who hold both ecclesiastical office and professorships (ie NT Wright, Enns, Luther, etc)

  51. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    June 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    A grab bag of comments:

    “As our knowledge of evolution grows we will see another shift probably within our lifetimes.”

    This is exactly the problem. The history of science is littered with the decaying corpses of various theories. So, why are we basing our exegesis on the current theory, which, as you explicitly recognize, may shift within a generation?

    I stopped reading Blocher’s book when he made the argument that since Gen. 1 was carefully structured, it probably wasn’t mean historically–that’s such a grotesque fallacy of either/or that it renders the entire reasoning process so suspect as to be worthless.

    “I accept Jesus because He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own and the joy we share as we tarry here, none other has ever known.”

    Yikes! That’s the same kind of reasoning Mormons use–in the complete absence of any evidence for the Book of Mormon. Where is that in the NT kerygma: repent and believe…because Jesus is in our hearts? No, rather “because we are witnesses that God has raised him from the dead.”

    And “origins science” is not on the same epistemological level as “experimental science.” As Ron ably pointed out, the former is dealing with things that are completely unobservable, unrepeatable, and untestable. It’s called the “underdetermination of theory” with a vengeance. Even philosophers of science regonize this sort of thing…

  52. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    #50 sigman,

    “It seems to me that much of the discussion is not in strictly academia but in seminaries and with those who hold both ecclesiastical office and professorships (ie NT Wright, Enns, Luther, etc)”

    You group Wright, Enns and Luther together, but they cannot be any more different than each other.

    Luther, while a product of university training, but back in his time the university subservient the Church. They affirm all of the Church’s dogmas, and even in their “humanities studies” they subservient the Church’s established positions.

    Wright – I do not know too much about his background so I will refrain from commenting on him.

    Enns – while he is a product of WTS but he doesn’t hide the fact that he learns “scholarship” from Harvard and he is indebted to Harvard on teaching him how to be a “scholar”. He is the complete opposite of Luther. While Luther clearly is an extreme sola scriptura-ist, Enns places extra-Biblical wisdom on part with Biblical wisdom, and in the case that one has to break a tie the extra-Biblical wisdom informs the Biblical wisdom. None of Luther’s writings, sermons, tracts, personal letters, expresses this view, in fact Luther despises the Roman Church of allowing too much human wisdom into their tradition.

    I do not know why you keep drawing a dichotomy that doesn’t exist in our Reformed Confessionals world. You seem to beating on the wrong horse. We do not deny the use and helpful aspects of extra-Biblical sources. But we recognize these are human sources, as brilliant as they may sound today, are fallible, flawed, and not the ultimate authority. They can never be put on par as Biblical revelation.

    Also, you haven’t really answer this point but sorry if I sound like I’m beating the same horse (but not a dead one but quite alive.) But it seems your rejection of OT stories is based solely on the lack of attestation by the extra-biblical sources. NT Wright is able to make a defense of Jesus’ resurrection based on historical and cultural sources on the Greco-Roman world, but we can’t make the same arguments for OT stories because we lack significant data on the OT times from Adam to prophets. Fine. However, my old argument stands. A few thousand years from now we may very well lost all the extra-Biblical sources that NT Wright heavily relies on in his defense, what then? What’s stopping future breeds of your trajectory from saying Jesus was just a made up mythic divine warrior figure, and his actual historical existence doesn’t matter? What would be the argument then for Jesus’ historicity and the resurrection? Why do we need to defend Jesus’ historicity and the absurdity of the resurrection when all other Biblical characters and stories don’t really matter because they sound equally absurd?

  53. Reed Here said,

    June 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Steve: thanks for that. As I mentioned previously, I think you’ve offered this for us before, and I’ve just forgotten.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

  54. sigman76 said,

    June 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    RS #52
    My point for putting the three scholars together was simply to note that all three hold/held ecclesiastical positions in the church as well as academic positions. (Unless I’m mistaken, Enns is an elder in the OPC?) As for Luther and Enns, I think they are quite complementary to each other. Both have been accused of heresy and both have fought to unleash the Bible from unnecessary and harmful scholasticism. The one attacked medieval scholasticism and the other post-reformation scholasticism. Both were confronted by authorities for being out of accord with the teaching of a pope: the one a catholic pope the other a paper pope.

    As to your hypothetical question (which is totally counter to anything experienced in history…time has always produced greater information not less) I answered by saying that the Bible is a historical document and just as today, people would interpret it differently. Some would say Jesus is historical and some would say he was just a fictional religious character.

  55. Reed Here said,

    June 10, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Steve, no 54: you most likely did not mean it so, but comparing Enns to Luther, and in doing so comparing those of us who disagree with him with those who disagreed with Luther ?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Talk about about arroagance and pejorative comments. Your’s is just simply ridiculous. Post-reformation scholasticism?!?!?!? Honestly, I’d thought I heard it all.

    Please, no more pejoriatives. Instead mak substantive comments that you can at least support, even if we might then disagree with your take. This is just ridiculous.

  56. Reed Here said,

    June 10, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Steve, no 54: you are either not getting, or avoiding RS’s point.

    You have posited a position which requires extra-biblical evidentary confirmation of the historicity of the Bible’s historical fact claims.

    Do not now miss that your own profession of faith in Jesus is called into question by your own words. RS’ hypothetical is well founded (contrary to your assertion that more information, not less, is the usual pattern – way too many examples contrary.)

    According to your own enunciated principles, you have no exclusive biblical basis for affirming: Jesus lived, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of your sins. You need someone other than God’s testimony to prove this. You may very well say, “no I don’t,” but you can only do so by willfully ignoring your own position.

    I’m not writing harshly, but rather pointedly. You, and quite a few other commenters of like nature, have blithely posted comments that in effect gut God of His trustworthiness because His word is doubtable. Then you simply ignore that you’ve lefte yourself (and any who follow you) with no sure basis for your own faith.

    God is merciful to some who call on His name, to allow them to live for a time in their ignorance. Yet it is not His intention to leave them there. Face up to your own inconsistencies here. Yours is not a faith founded on the Bible’s own statements.

    You may very well be saved. You need to be honest just a little more with Who you are disagreeing with. It is not just Enns’ (supposed) post-reformation scholastic opponents.

  57. sigman76 said,

    June 10, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Reed: #55

    Not trying to be arrogant and pejorative in my comments. However, we see the fruit of such 17th C. scholasticism in turretin where he notes that according to the Bible the earth was created in Autumn, in the sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee…

  58. ReformedSinner said,

    June 10, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    #54 sigman,

    You can’t be serious about your comparison with Luther and Enns. Is this conversation going to degenerate this way with superficial comparisons purely motivated by ideology? By your logic Joseph Smith the founder of Mormon Church can fit into it. He stood up against tradition and the powers to be and got persecuted by the “pope” of his day.

    Time has produced greater information and not less? Huh? Human history has shown no matter how each generation think they have preserved history that it will ultimately be lost with fragments of memories behind. No matter if it’s through wars, ideological struggles, natural disasters, etc. Humanity finds new ways to destroy civilizations and its memories. This is actually one reason the Bible is so treasurable. The faithfulness of the Church to keep the recorded Redemptive History of God, preserved with little inconsequential variants, is second to none in any other historical documents. But then again you don’t recognize it as historical documents.

    I see you will keep dancing around my question and refuse to face up with your inconsistencies. Which is your reliance of extra-Biblical historical records to affirm the Biblical history. That the only validation of Biblical story is not in God’s self-revelation, but in man’s attestation, that is your highest authority, not the revealed Word of God, but in the attestation of the writings of men. Your “pronouncement of faith” notwithstanding. The only difference between your distrust of Biblical OT accounts and your trust in NT accounts is that NT has attestations from historical critical studies, but OT lack such weight of attestations from historical critical studies.

    Within your system as it is preached, once the Church lost those attestations, the Bible becomes untrustworthy, which is something Luther would never say. Send him to Jupiter and erase all historical records but the Bible and he has no problem affirming every word, every story, every act as historical and accurate.

  59. Dave Rogel said,

    June 10, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    “If Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical, then Jesus’ atonement is as well.”

    This statement seems to imply that the only way by which it is possible for a man to sin and thereby find himself in need of redemption is that the very first man sinned in a grand gesture that we all inherit. Perhaps this is an obvious assumption for some, but should not be thought of as obvious to all. I personally believe that humans are quite capable of sinning due to their God-given ability to choose right or wrong. If the choice Adam made in the Genesis account of the Fall was symbolic of the choice to sin that we all make, how does that make Jesus’ atonement ‘merely rhetorical’? If we sin (imputed or or otherwise), we need to be reconciled to God by Jesus’ atonement, do we not?

    I have no problem with a symbolic interpretation of the Fall, and I do not share the belief that the NT references to Adam crumble in light of such an interpretation. In fact, they take on what I think is a wonderfully cultural/poetic tone and do not become any less true (e.g. Romans 5:12-14; Paul is talking about humans sinning–we all agree about humans sinning). Also, I Corinthians 15:45–which refers to Jesus as ‘an’ Adam (“the last Adam”), as though ‘Adam’ was a concept–makes even more sense with Adam interpreted as symbolic.

    All that said, I also think it is perfectly possible that Adam and the Fall are 100% historical. I do not contend that I have proof that one interpretation is correct and one is incorrect. I may think that a symbolic interpretation makes more sense, but that does not prove (or disprove) anything. However, the above quote seems to be making such a claim. I question the logic by which one would conclude that a non-literal reading of the Fall renders Jesus’ atonement ‘merely rhetorical’, when (as far as I am aware) humans are capable of sinning (an action) as well as we are capable of sinfulness (imputation), BOTH of which require actual, non-rhetorical atonement before God.

    Also, for clarity, I would like to emphasize that, in suggesting a symbolic reading of the Fall, I am not questioning the truth of the Bible (which Christians must accept on faith), but rather our interpretation of it (which has been, and still can be, incorrect). Much of the debate about our source(s) of authority has created an atmosphere in which those who seek external input and validation are accused of seeking an authority higher than the Bible. However, many Christians (myself included) who would look both inside AND outside the Bible for truth do so in order to test and challenge our interpretation of the Bible–not to somehow disprove the legitimacy of the Bible itself. This is an important distinction that gets made far too rarely in these discussions.

    Also,

    Mike #35

    Bummer, eh? So many good pubs, and here we are staring at computer screens…

  60. sigman76 said,

    June 10, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    #59 Amen to that Dave

    RS #58

    I’ve said several times, I consider the Bible a historical document. It is an ancient text. As God’s word it is infallable and I dare say, inerrant. What is in it is exactly what God wanted in it. HOWEVER, your particular interpretation just as mine is fallable. I could be wrong about the historical referent behind the biblical account but so could you. It is an issue of interpretation.

    Reed #56

    Careful you don’t push too hard and succumb to endorsing a different gospel. 1 Cor. 15: 3 ”For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”.
    My faith or lack of faith in your nuanced interpretation of Genesis is not the gospel upon which I stand. The scriptures point to Christ and do not defend some literalistic concept of creation. If I have to swallow your interpretation of creation less I endanger my soul to the flames of hell then how is that not a different gospel?

    RS and Reed

    Interestingly, 1 Cor 15 would be my answer to a total distruction of history. Christ would appear to believers as a verification of Himself and the content of which the Scriptures point.

  61. ReformedSinner said,

    June 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    #60 sigman,

    The frustrating part is you say one thing, but you would say something else that is inconsistent with what you said earlier, but you keep insisting you’re consistent.

    “I consider the Bible a historical document”

    And yet your definition of “historical” is different than what the Church has always said. The Church, when they say the Bible is historical, says it in the way that they believe the Bible contain accurate history and real figures.

    You, on the other hand, openly said here that the Bible contains myths, you don’t believe in many stories of the OT, and you doubt many figures in the OT ever existed.

    “As God’s word it is infallable and I dare say, inerrant”

    Once again this is an empty slogan. Is your definition of “inerrant” reconcilable to your claims that the Bible contains errors that we shouldn’t be ashamed to admit? You keep saying the Bible is “infallable” but at the same time you rely on fallible sources to vindicate, authenticate, the “infallable” sources. Once again how can you reconcile this?

    “HOWEVER, your particular interpretation just as mine is fallable. I could be wrong about the historical referent behind the biblical account but so could you. It is an issue of interpretation.”

    I don’t know what you are trying to accomplish here. Nobody’s perfect. Ok, so what then? If that’s the case what’s stopping us from accepting Mormon, Liberals, Jehovah Witness’ interpretation of the Bible? Since they can say the same thing: “your particular interpretation is just the same as mine, which is fallable,” if at the end of the day you really believe this then why are you even here trying to convince us you’re more right then us? Since we are just as fallible and each have our interpretations.

    It is you who came here and lecture us on why the Bible has errors, that you openly admitted you do not believe many OT stories and figures are real, and you openly declared your reliance on extra-Biblical sources to authenticate Biblical accounts. I simply want to ask you to answer a few simple questions to understand your system deeper.

    Once again you have not given me a straight answer to my simple question.

    Answer it simply: if NT Wright couldn’t argue the way he did, i.e., all historical records on Greco-Roman world are lost, would you still believe in Jesus, His miraculous actions, and His death and resurrection as real?

    If the answer is a yes, then why would you differentiate between the “absurd” story that a man can be born by a divine Spirit, perform miracles, come back to life, fly up into the sky, and yet you reject the OT stories simply based on lack of extra-Biblical attestation of those stories?

  62. ReformedSinner said,

    June 10, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    #59 David,

    So, if Adam isn’t real, the Fall isn’t real, then what sins does humanity have that deserves such universal wrath and punishment from God? What is the origin of the corruption of creation and the world that the Church used to explain it by the historicity of the Fall? Take that out then what caused the pathetic and sinful state of humanity and the effect on the world today?

    And a crucial doctrine in the faith of Christianity is Original Sin, if that is taken out and is the case then the problem of human weakness is not the inherit sinful nature of our pathetic estate after Adam’s sin (because it isn’t real), but the problem of human weakness is God’s inability to create a man that is “good” – Genesis lied, man is not good. Man is so not good that generations after generations not one man can be good, and it really is God’s fault because He failed to create a man that is good.

    I can say much more about numerous other doctrines. Just want to point out the matter isn’t as simple as “oh this is myth, that is myth, but don’t worry Christianity still stands alive and well, in fact we enhanced it for our post-modern world.” But rather this attacks the very bedrock of the foundation Christianity and its core theologies.

  63. Pete Myers said,

    June 11, 2009 at 3:10 am

    #36 Mike,

    I’ve missed a lot here! So sorry if I’m going over old ground, but I feel Mike deserves a response from me:

    The modern challenge is based on scientific evidence (whether one chooses to believe in the evidence or not) ..hence it moves from the philosophical or exegetical challenge to a scientific one…and I believe that is different…thus still creating the cognitive dissonance….for me anyway.

    Mike can I suggest you’re falling into a logical fallacy here? It’s a very common modern logical fallacy, and that’s why it’s very, very hard to spot, and may sound unusual when I explain it.

    Oh, and, this is a bit long…

    Natural science builds conclusions based on observed “evidence”, but so does every other “science”. Science is simply the analysis of data using reason. There are different sciences based on the different data under consideration.

    A modern day fallacy is to think that somehow “natural” science (which often gets narrowed down to the pure sciences) does not have a philosophical basis, but is in and of itself inherently true. That’s not actually the case. The natural sciences are also built on a philosophical foundation. That foundation can correspond with reality more or less. Natural science is founded upon modernism, which has many strengths, hence how science has managed to provide so many useful things to man since Descartes. However, modernism is not without it’s flaws and holes… which have been picked apart even by secular philosophers such as Kant.

    As such, “science” (as in natural science) is not in a different category from other philosophies. For thousands of years man thinkers have recognised that philosophy underpins any form of “science” or “reasonable investigation” (which is all science is). But in the modern era we fall into the error that CS Lewis warned us against – that of “modern” arrogance. We think that just because man knows more now than men in previous generations, we are somehow more intelligent. This isn’t the case, actually what we know now is simply building on what men in previous generations have given us, which is the only reason we are able to go further than them.

    The Greek philosophical view of the world was essentially evolutionistic. Cartesianism has replaced Platonism and Aristotelianism as the dominant underlying philosophical foundation, but, the same sorts of “scientific” answers for our origins have been built on top those different systems over time.

    So, essentially, “science” doesn’t equate with “truth”, neither is science somehow magically free from the problems of explaining it’s own existence. Modernism/Cartesianism which underlies modern day science begins with the principle of “I think therefore I am”. I.e. Descartes began by reasoning from the existence of himself to the existence of things around him, and this is the philosophical foundation of science.

    Kant argued that it is philosophical thin ice to begin our reasoning from ourselves. Nothing that I observe or experience can actually be trusted on this basis, and due to the fact that I am limited, I can no nothing for certain (as Richard Pratt says – if I think I know something, but I’m limited, then I have no way of knowing that the next thing I discover won’t totally prove my current understanding wrong, Newtonian physics and General Relativity is an example of this). His line of thought eventually led to the destruction of modernism, and the rise of postmodernism.

    This has left science without a credible philosophical basis. People such as Dawkins try to argue that science is true simply because it is. Dawkins doesn’t display his best colours when he’s writing about philosophy.

    Which means that the only credible philosophical foundation for science is the living God, who reveals himself in his Word. This was Francis Bacon’s (who was the pioneer of the modern scientific method) philosophical foundation for understanding the universe, and hence how science should work. We can understand the world reasonably, because behind it lies a reasonable God.

    However, this means that the Word of God should shape our scientific endeavour. It is the set of assumptions and presuppositions we should begin with as we attempt to do science. Kant’s observation is still true – we are limited and so there’ll always be things at the edge of our knowledge we can’t yet explain. However Kant’s observation doesn’t destroy our philosophical foundation – because God is infinite and knows everything then what he reveals really is objectively true.

    Secular scientists also have a set of assumptions and presuppositions, the difference is:
    (a) They don’t recognise or admit them.
    (b) Their assumptions have already historically been proven to be inadequate. Their presuppositions are founded on the idea that man can figure out truth on his own without an infinite being revealing it to him. Kant destroyed this idea.
    (c) Their assumptions also lead to unexplalined phenomena and contradictions in their model of the physical world. But for some reason, that’s “ok” coming from a secular perspective, but “devastating” when coming from a Christian perspective. Again, I’d argue it’s the other way around.

    Mike – one book I’d recommend reading (I apologise if you have already), is Richard Pratt’s “Every Thought Captive”. It’s a much more structured case for the thing that Keller is arguing for in “Reason for God”… and as great as Keller’s book is, I think there are questions as to whether Keller really hits the issues on the head clearly.

    BTW, don’t you wish we could sometimes have these discussions face-to-face? Blogging is a great tool but it certainly has its limitations doesn’t it?

    Yes, and yes.

  64. Ron Henzel said,

    June 11, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Steve/sigman76:

    You never replied to my comment #18, in which I replied to your comparison of strict creationists with Thomas Aquinas by turning it back on you and demonstrating that your method more closely resembles Aquinas’s than does theirs. And in the meantime you continue to fill this comments column with more dubious analogies. So you wrote in comment 54:

    As for Luther and Enns, I think they are quite complementary to each other. Both have been accused of heresy and both have fought to unleash the Bible from unnecessary and harmful scholasticism. The one attacked medieval scholasticism and the other post-reformation scholasticism. Both were confronted by authorities for being out of accord with the teaching of a pope: the one a catholic pope the other a paper pope.

    Reed appropriately multiplied exclamation points and questions marks in his incredulous response in comment 55. This summary of yours owes more to the historical hatchet job that Jack Rogers and Donald McKim foisted on the theological community 30 years ago with their book The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach, (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979). To learn just how far their description was from reality, you need to read John Woodbridge’s Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982).

    But I am particularly intrigued with your reference to “a paper pope.” I see you speak the language of Barth. When I read little ditties like that interspersed with the other things you say, it causes me to question your sincerity when you write (in comment 60):

    I’ve said several times, I consider the Bible a historical document. It is an ancient text. As God’s word it is infallable and I dare say, inerrant. What is in it is exactly what God wanted in it.

    But then, back in comment 9, you faulted Aquinas for

    …taking the authority of the Bible over reason [and] conclud[ing] from an Aristotelian philosophy (the science of his day) that his literalistic reading was justified in or by transubstantiation.

    So the Bible may be inerrant, but we cannot take its authority over reason? It may be inerrant, but we should not ascribe to it the same level of infallibility that the Catholic church ascribes to the pope? If God speaks without error, His inerrant speech must nevertheless be subordinated to fallible human reason? Isn’t this just really all a game?

    Please understand something: I’ve been paying attention to the inerrancy debate for 33 years now. I still have one of the original printings of Harold Lindsell’s Battle for the Bible, as well as similar copies of the other two books I’ve mentioned here. I don’t know how old you are, but I and others here can tell you that for the past third of a century (and much longer), it’s just been one song and dance after another from so-called evangelicals who think we should all become Barthians (or something similar) on this question. All this talk about how the Bible can be “inerrant” and yet have errors in it is just another charade, not at all dissimilar from the kind of pranks that others have attempted to play on us in the past.

    But maybe you were unaware of all this. Perhaps you were unaware that some of us have become more than a little jaded by all the shenanigans of faux evangelicals trying to pawn off errancy as if it were as cool as the latest iPhone. So let me catch you up on the game. Here’s how it’s been played up to now: First they agreed that the Bible was “inspired” but it had errors in it. So our side came back and said, “No, it is verbally inspired.”

    So they came back and said, “Yes, it is verbally inspired, but not all the words are inspired.” So our side said, “Sorry, the nature of the Bible is one of plenary verbal inspiration. In fact, it is inerrant.

    But they still wanted to play. So they said, “Hey! That’s a new word! You don’t see Calvin or Luther calling the Bible ‘inerrant!’ You must have capitulated to a modern, scientific, Enlightenment worldview!”

    And, of course, they were right: Calvin and Luther didn’t use the word ‘inerrant.’ Shucks! It hadn’t even been coined in English until 1837, so how could they have? So we came back and showed them all the places in Calvin’s and Luther’s writings where they said the Bible had no errors in it.

    Since then, they have fallen largely silent. With occasional mild exceptions, the inerrancy vs. errancy game within evangelicalism has been largely unattended since the mid-to-late ’80s. In fact, outside of Reformed circles, I don’t know of anyone who’s taken much notice of the latest “Enns-run” strategy.

    Of course, proving that Calvin and Luther actually did believe in inerrancy, and that it wasn’t merely a product of post-Reformation “scholasticism’s” slide into modernism didn’t keep various people from teaching that in places where they could get away with it. (Which, of course, explains your participation in the game.)

    But now, apparently, the game is back on. And now, the other side is saying, “Yes, it’s inerrant, but it has—uhm, er…well, in certain places where we have other external sources…uh, ya’ see…there are certain, uh, mistakes, ya’ might say…it’s kinda’ like…well…Oh, it’s inerrant, fer sure! … But—let’s face it, it has errors in it!”

    Same circus, different clowns.

  65. Reed Here said,

    June 11, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Steve, no. 60: respectfully brother, you are both not reading carefully enough and reading into what I’ve said.

    Particularly, with reference to my own convictions concerning Creation, I deliberately have not given enough information for any reader here to know the details of my convictions. I am used to folks pigeon-holing me as some whacko Creationist, and then using that to ignore that my point has nothing to do with such a position.

    All that really matters to me in terms of Creation, with regard to the point I am making here, is whether or not one affirms the historicity of the fiat creation of Adam and Eve, and the historicity of the Fall. If one affirms that, I may have exegetical arguments beyond, but that is sufficient to safe guard the gospel.

    This is where I think you are reading too much into what I am saying, and therefore missing the point.

  66. Reed Here said,

    June 11, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Steve, no. 60: as to where I believe you are not reading carefully enough, it is specifically with regard to the question RS has asked, and which I pushed on (and am doing again) how do you support your conviction that the resurrection occured when your position requires the validation by evidence external to the Bible?

    I ask you to slow down and note a very serious and telling pattern in your responses:

    > You did not answer RS when he first posed this issue,
    > You’ve continued to ignore his secondary references,
    > You did not pay attention to my hard push on the very issue, assuming I was talking about Creationism when I was doing nothing of the sort (my words could not be misunderstood),
    > You’ve ignored my pointed challenge in at least 2 subsequent posts since I made it.

    This is my second pointed challenge. And yes I am pushing Steve becuase the gospel is at stake. I say the gospel because you have posited a position on the trustworthiness of the Bible that requires the testimony of fallible/errant men; external to the Bible.

    Yes, the historicity of the resurrection matters. Your own reference to 1Co 15 demonstrates this – Paul validates his own witness to the historical fact by reference to historical witnesses.

    Now, please hear me carefully here, the difference between your reference to historical evidence and Paul’s is that you appeal to fallen men whose witness is not sealed by the witness of the infallible/inerrant Spirit. Unlike you, Paul offers his testimony of men under the inspiration of the Spirit.

    Your’s is a position that says, if the evidence supplied by the work of fallen men does not support it, then the historical claims of the Bible must be wrong. You place man in authority over God. You therefore have no secure reason to trust that the resurrection actually occured. Should some crticially verifiable document appear one day that reports that those 500 witnesses were asked about Paul’s report, and they say he misunderstood them, that they technically had not seen Jesus alive from the tomb – your position will require you to abandon the historicity of 1Co 15!

  67. Reed Here said,

    June 11, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Steve, no 60 (et.al.): third and final point I’d ask you to consider.

    I challenged you on labeling those opposed to Enns as post-reformation scholars.

    You responded with a claim you do not intend to be pejorative/arrogant. I accept that at face value, and

    Note that you then proceed to dredge up the whipping boy for supposed post-reformation scholasticism, Turretin.

    Please, will you stop merely obfuscating the issue? Aside for the dubiousness of the label, now you are inferring that in some manner Turretin serves to illustrate a post-reformation scholar opposed to Enns.

    If you care to explain further, great. Please slow down however and deal with one topic at a time, and stop throwing out comments that only muddy the conversation.

  68. Mike said,

    June 11, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Pete #63, I hadn’t planned to jump back into this discussion again but I so do appreciate the time and care you took to respond to me. I am familiar with modernist philosophy (and post modernist too..as well as anyone can really understand postmodernism). I do see and recognize the philosophical underpinnings of modernist/scientific thought and it is not without its trappings (as also is postmodernism)

    But I think you really hit the nail on the head with the statement “It is the set of assumptions and presuppositions we should begin with as we attempt to do science.” You are absolutely correct in that we really have to understand our assumptions and presuppositions…but I would also say this applies to religion/faith as well. No matter where we turn for our worldview we take on the baggage of presuppositions and it is those presuppositions that somehow we are most comfortable with that we tend to adopt. They somehow have to pass a “truth” test.

    For me what has happened is that I began to put some of these religious presuppositions to the “truth” test and found them lacking…one of which is inerrancy.

    I am OK living there at the moment….on the slippery slope. I have not read Pratt’s book but I will (based on your recommendation). Honestly, I was disappointed with Keller’s book…thought it was weak.

  69. Reed Here said,

    June 11, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Sidebar Comment: I expected that there would be some tendency for folks to drift off into debating Creation theories on the post. I am both surprised and grateful for how little of that there has been. For the most part, y’all have stayed suprisingly on topic. Thank you.

    I do want to address a sidebarcomment to a number of my PCA brothers who have been posting here in opposition to my point in this post. In particular I want to address those of you who are willing to opt for a rhetorical Adam/Eve/Fall. I’d ask you to consider two things:

    1. Please ask your pastors (or contact me at reedhere at gmail dot com) for a copy of the PCA’s study report on Creation. This report summarizes what the Fathers of our denomination believe is minimally required to affirm with regard to creation and still be within orthodoxy.

    I note for you here that a belief in the historicity of Adam/Eve/Fall is a part of this. My intention is not to go into the exegetical and doctrinal reasons for this. (Ask for a copy of the report to see that.) I do simply want to note that it is the conviction of our denomination that one who does not affirm the historicity of Adam/Eve/Faith has at least a serious deficiency in their own faith.

    2. I hope none of your who have so denied the historicity of Adam/Eve/Fall are officers in our Church. It is not my desire to disturb the peace and purity of the PCA. I do point out that holding such convictions in opposition to our stated position is on the face of it a conviction that funadementally conflicts with one’s vow to maintain the peace/purity of our Church. Given God’s sovereignty over the liberty of conscious, such a person can only hold office in our denomination by disregarding or denying the contradiction, and then vowing before God that which he knows is not true in his heart.

    Such, in a prior era, would be called foreswearing oneself; not something consistent with the walk of faith. Again, I am not seeking to cause trouble. I am simply noting that given your statements here, if you are an officer (or seek office), given your contratry conviction, by definition you not only cannot maintain our peace/purity, you are (will) actually disturbing it.

    This is serious. With all humility and desire to leave you at peace with your conscious before the Lord, if you deny the historicity of Adam/Eve/Fall, please prayefully work through this study report.

  70. Reed Here said,

    June 11, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Mike, no. 68: man do I appreciate both your transparent sincerity and the problem as you’ve laid it out.

    A sincere question flowing from your comment concerning the necessity of presuppositions, and your conclusion that inerrancy has been found wanting.

    Your say,

    For me what has happened is that I began to put some of these religious presuppositions to the “truth” test and found them lacking…one of which is inerrancy.

    What is the standard of your “truth test”? I.e., think back to when you learned that a ruler (you know, 12 inches, 1/2’s, 1/4’s, 1/8’s, all marked so precisely), and you found that there are variations from ruler to ruler. Remember learning that there is no truly ture, objective ruler, one which’s marks are the standard, the rule for rulers? Remember learning that all we have is a “standard ruler” maintained by the federal government, the one we’ve all agreed to use as the standard for the rest of the rulers?

    Observe, that this is a standard we live with merely because we’ve all agreed to live with it. No one is supoosing that this standard ruler is inerrant, and therefore is infallible.

    With regards to the “truth test” you’ve applied to the Bible and it’s own claims to inerrancy, what is the standard for this truth test? Even more vital, who is the source of this truth test, God or man?

    The problem I have with your standard, at least as it appears from what you’ve said, is not the difficulties you are attempting to deal with – I see them too. The problem I have is that you are using a standard that is not really standard. Put another way, you are using an errant standard to determine that the Bible’s claim to inerrancy is errant.

    This is why the only sure starting place, the sure and most necessary standard for judging truth, is God speaking inerrantly through the Scriptures. Note Mike, that this is not a man-constructed standard. This is what God himself, in the pages of Scripture, claims.

    I.e., the only sure standard for truth is the Bible itself. I realize that this position, under the realm of human reason, is susceptable to the dangers of circular reasoning. I note that this is the dilemma rebellious man has put himself in. We cannot live without a reliable standard. The only one we have is God’s own witness.

    This is why the only truly true “truth test” is the Spirit’s self-attestation.

    Brother, you are not on a slippery slope. You are standing on the ground destined for destruction. Please, if you have not, get a hold of the resources that have been recommended here, and others of like nature.

  71. sigman76 said,

    June 11, 2009 at 10:37 am

    RS #61
    I may be inconsistant. That is part of being human I suppose.
    You write “The Church, when they say the Bible is historical, says it in the way that they believe the Bible contain accurate history and real figures”. Some in the church say this, others do not. Certainly, some in the Church hold this position but others in the church are reforming…”
    Sources are fallable. Humans are fallable. My definition of inerrant means that what God inspired is exactly what he wanted. He did not make an error but that does not mean that it has to accord to some standard of perfection that some people happen to insist upon.
    You write, ” You keep saying the Bible is “infallable” but at the same time you rely on fallible sources to vindicate, authenticate, the “infallable” sources. Once again how can you reconcile this?” I don’t believe that the extra-biblical sources “vindicate, authenticate” the Bible as being infallable. Rather, they point us toward understanding what it is and how to understand it. In other words, the Bible critiques us as much as we critique it. The very fact that it makes us uncomfortable and forces us to ask questions reveals a lot about who we are (our own context) and things that may and likely should change. The fact that Christians are so shaken up about historical issues may be because they are demanding more from the text than what the text was meant to provide. It should be telling that Christians for many years have tried to harmonize Kings and Chronicles to fit their view of the Bible (and their view of God). Both had to be historically accurate (so they thought). And yet Chronicles does not conform to MODERN cannons of historiography. What we are left with is either a false account or a record that is meant to serve a different purpose. I would opt for the record serving a different purpose. This is my point about the OT in general. It serves a different purpose than what many christians want or demand of it. It is to be read through the lens of Christ. As a story leading up and pointing to Jesus. I sometimes think Christians don’t emphesize this enough. Christians don’t want a “story” they want a God that fits in their presupposed boxes of how reality works.
    As to your question: When I came to faith, no one explained to me the historical rootedness of Jesus. I did not come to faith out of some apologetic. I saw a desperation in my life(sin), I saw Jesus in friends, and when given the gospel I simply believed. The gospel being applied by the Spirit is the power of God unto salvation. So the answer is Yes I would still believe. So why would I differentiate? Simply because the evidence leads one way (affirming Jesus) and not another (affirming a literal reading of Gen).

    Ron<
    Thanks for the history lesson. Part of my answer is in my response above. More directly, the issue is that modernism demands a certain (rational) view of “truth”. Many Christians believe the bible as being totally true according to modern ideas of truth (ie rationalism). From this starting point they demand that the Bible comports to their understanding of truth. For example, God couldn’t possibly use myth to communicate creation! It couldn’t be possible that God simply was not interested in explaining evolution to people over 3000 years ago.! Aquinas believed the Bible and attempted to fit his belief into his “science”. He interpreted the bible according to his assumptions about reality…it was the way it made sense. The other reformers interpreted the bible differently according to their various assumptions about reality…to make sense to them. All I’m trying to say is that the assumptions of modernism has made it necessary to read and think in certain ways. Science does not verify a literal reading of Genesis 1 nor does it disprove it. All the evidence does is ask us to think differently. Perhaps we are reading the text in ways it wasn’t intended. We are making demands that it was never meant to have.

  72. Dave Rogel said,

    June 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Sigman,

    Thanks for the earlier amen, but I must agree that you are making us all rather dizzy.

    Reformed #62,

    “So, if Adam isn’t real, the Fall isn’t real, then what sins does humanity have that deserves such universal wrath and punishment from God?”

    What sins do I have other than my inherited guilt from Adam’s fall? I could fill volumes, I’m sure. If, but for a literal initial act of disobedience by the first human, we could stand blameless before God on judgement day, then yes, the Fall is crucial to our understanding of and need for redemption. I have been given many choices in my life, and I have made many of them poorly, to the demise of my holiness and consequently my ability to stand in the presence of the holy God.

    Humans sin. Perhaps they sin because Adam’s original sin was a literal event which, in a large, cosmic way, enabled all future sin. I don’t deny that as a possibility.

    However, humans might also sin because they have been given the choice to follow God or to turn away from Him, and we simply never maintain our innocence. We have impure thoughts. We act in impure ways. We sin. And therefore we need to be reconciled to God, and we cannot ourselves accomplish such a reconciliation. If Adam symbolizes the human race and the Fall symbolizes the sin of every human per Romans 3:23, WE HAVE STILL ALL SINNED AND STILL NEED TO BE REDEEMED. How does sin and our need for Jesus evaporate if said sin is described by (rather than caused by) Adam? Is it not still sin? Is it somehow less sinful to act in a manner that is contrary to God’s laws than it is to be the offspring of someone who did?

  73. Dave Rogel said,

    June 11, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Sigman #71,

    My apologies for my own #72–I hadn’t yet read 71, which clarifies things greatly.

  74. Mike said,

    June 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Reed #70 thanks for your response. In response to your question “What is the standard of your “truth test”? the short (and honest) answer is me…now I can hear the roars against this overtly postmodern answer…however I would submit that acceptance of other standards of truth require a truth test as well by the adherent. We would not accept Christianity devoid of any logic or reasonableness even though some would argue it is not “reasonable” unless you have been led by the Spirit to believe it. But I don’t believe that…there has to be some coherence that makes sense to the believer otherwise he would not believe it…even if he admits that he cannot understand it all.

    I am not worried that much about the slippery slope any more…in fact this journey of mine has been marked by two main drivers…1) no fear and 2) complete honesty. I don’t find many others willing to take this journey for these reasons..but it is one I must walk. Others have their own journey and I will not judge them for it.

  75. Reed Here said,

    June 11, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Mike, no. 74: again, thank you for your gracious and gentle demeanor, coupled with a frank awareness of your position’s weaknesses.

    Hopefully I won’t be heard to be condemning you. That is not my intention. Rather, I do pray that the Spirit will use my expressions to get you to reconsider what you’ve concluded.

    You are right we all need to accept some truth test, some standard of objectivity. I have lived and felt deeply this age old philosphical quest, including the horror of the abandonment of the topic by post-modernism.

    I can’t help but observe that you have traded submission to the opinions of the many to the opinion of the one. Interestingly, this is a variation of my own position. The critical difference is that you have chosen yourself as the one, whereas I have chosen God as the One.

    I deliberately use the word chosen to acknowledge the respect I believe we must show to what you are saying. We must choose, and no one can do it for us.

    My concern Mike is that you have chosen for your authority the authority that Satan deceived our first parents into choosing. I.e., given your conviction, in the end you are the authority for your own faith. How can you be sure you have not been deceived, and that rather than salvation, you are still in your sins?

    Your’s is a journey whose end is sure, it is the wide way leading to destruction. I plead with you to consider that you do have another option, that you can rest yourself in God’s own testimony.

  76. Mike said,

    June 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Reed #75 thank you so much for your concern. I have sincerely appreciated everyone’s input and opinions even if I don’t agree with them or see things differently. I do not take your comments as condemning or condescending (as some have been to me). In fact I think they are quite caring and humble. I myself would probably have given the same advice not that long ago.

    I can’t honestly say where this journey will lead…I do know that it will not lead back to the same place I was before…as I said it really is a one-way door. But I am not afraid and I still trust that God (as I understand him) will oversee my journey…even if that is wilderness for a while. I do not feel that God has abandoned me..or me Him. Perhaps I am (pardon the pun) a broken reed for a while….I don’t know…but I don’t consider my position a weakness…it just is.

    Actually I think my faith is stronger now that I have considered the fact that perhaps Dawkins is right (which I don’t think he is BTW) but I have gone down that path…and if he is, so be it. I will not abandon my faith in God. I trust that despite some of my faulty thinking God will complete his work he began in me.

    “Now it is God who make both you and us stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come” I Cor 1:21-22 (…quoted this from memory so, if errant, I claim full responsibility!)

    Blessings today

  77. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Mike: “In response to your question “What is the standard of your “truth test”? the short (and honest) answer is me….

    For me, the key word is “honest”. I do appreciate the forthwith honesty and transparency of your answer stating that you are the ultimate authority of what is ultimate truth.

    Since I confess to being a fool, and Reed has confessed to being a fool too, then please take no offense when I state that I find it quite refreshing to encounter an honest fool who accepts the logical outcome of where his argument leads as opposed to a self-deceived fool who continually denies the logical outcome of his starting presuppositions.

    It’s like the husband who’s honest about confessing his adulterous affair to his wife. He was morally foolish about being unfaithful, but his honesty doesn’t totally alleviate or mitigate against his foolishness.

  78. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Mike: “In response to your question “What is the standard of your “truth test”? the short (and honest) answer is me….”

    Hi Mike, here’s a hypothetical dialogue between someone who believes that ultimate authority belongs to him with respect to the standard of a truth test and one who holds that ultimate authority belongs to Scripture with respect to the standard of a truth test.

    The context of the discussion is the Problem of Evil.

    Read it here

  79. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Interviewer Trevin Wax: “How do you see the relationship between the Southern Baptist Convention and the wider world of evangelicalism?”

    Seminary President Daniel Akin: Contentious.

    Unfortunately, I fear that the greater world of evangelicalism is shifting and drifting to the left.

    I give one example of this. Greg Beale’s most recent book, The Erosion of Inerrancy is basically a critique of those who still claim to be Inerrantists but who, through hermeneutical gymnastics, have basically explained the word away and emptied it of its meaning.

    I am gravely concerned about what I see happening in the greater evangelical world. Because Southern Baptists have staked out their claim as to where they are, there is a sense in which we are in a contentious kind of relationship with one aspect of evangelicalism.”

    Enns and his disciples have explained the word away and emptied of its meaning. Cf., Reed’s post on Incoherent Inerrancy.

  80. Ron Henzel said,

    June 11, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Steve/sigman,

    You wrote:

    Many Christians believe the bible as being totally true according to modern ideas of truth (ie rationalism). From this starting point they demand that the Bible comports to their understanding of truth. For example, God couldn’t possibly use myth to communicate creation!

    What you are describing and trying to debunk is actually a premodern view of truth. All you need to do is read the early Christian apologists to see what they thought of myths.

    But those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race.

    [Justin Martyr, "The First Apology of Justin," Chapter 54, ANF 1:181.]

    To Justin, the myths were wrong because they were unproven, and thus untrue and even demonic because of their obvious purpose of leading people away from the Christian faith, which Justin also takes pains to demonstrate is true because it is historically grounded.

  81. Ron Henzel said,

    June 11, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Steve/sigman,

    You wrote:

    Science does not verify a literal reading of Genesis 1 nor does it disprove it. All the evidence does is ask us to think differently.

    How come you still won’t admit that you’re doing what you accused Aquinas of doing? Just as he tried to justify his interpretation of Scripture with the science of his day, so also are you.

  82. Aaron R. said,

    June 11, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    “If Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical, then Jesus’ atonement is as well. There is no other conclusion we can reach.”

    Is there no other conclusion we can reach?

    There is a lot of nuance that is lacking in this post. This is a prime example of the reductive fallacy.

  83. Pete Myers said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Mike,

    I’ve been gone for a bit again. Just to pick up a little on the discussion now going on between you and Reed, let me offer a more robust presentation of my argument for you.

    Reed was right to put his finger on your statement about holding up Biblical presuppositions to the “truth” test. In fact, if you step back from that statement hopefully you can see that it is actually “begging the question”… to hold up a set of presuppositions to a “truth” test, and to find them wanting, is actually making it clear that you have another completely different set of presuppositions that you just haven’t yet stated.

    The essence of the presuppositional argument is to admit what the ultimate presupposition is of each worldview. The ultimate presupposition of the biblical worldview is God speaking in his word. The ultimate presupposition of other worldviews (as you’ve helpfully and candidly admitted for yourself) is ourselves as the arbiters of truth.

    Now, you saying that the biblical worldview “doesn’t meet your standard of truth” is equivalent to me saying that you are wrong “because the Bible says so.” Can you see that in both cases, all we’re doing is asserting our worldviews past each other? Each of us would simply be trying to state that the other worldview is wrong because our worldview says so…

    Furthermore, one big mistake that I think has been floating around some of the commentators on this blog for a few weeks is that the biblical worldview contains lots of inherent contradications and things that can’t be explained, which when compared to other worldviews is found to be wanting, as they are far more consistent and stand up much better. That really isn’t the case, but is often assumed by lots of thinkers (but not necessarily stated), and then “proven”. But it’s always easy to prove your conclusion when you begin by assuming it. So just pointing to apparent contradictions and inconsistencies at the limits of our thinking in different worldviews doesn’t get us very far, as all worldviews have such problems. It is inherent to the nature of being a limited creature that we will never properly understand exactly how the intersection of the finite and infinite works, that’s why materialists will always struggle – at some level – to explain how something came out of nothing, and theists will always struggle to explain – at some level – the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Just two examples.

    So… how do we “evaluate” different worldviews? The answer is to look atat the inherent presuppositional commitments. In this case, there is the inherent presuppositional commitment to dependence on God (the Christian worldview), and the inherent presuppositional commitment to independence from God (other worldviews).

    In the Christian worldview, the Christian acknowledges that they are dependent on God for all knowledge, and that’s why the Bible states all the Chrsitian’s presuppositions. In the worldview you’ve candidly put forward that you’re moving towards, you are claiming to be able to arrive at knowledge independently, hence why you become the arbiter of truth.

    However the claim for man to be the measure of all things doesn’t stand up (interestingly Socrates spotted this, but, with a polytheistic worldview was never able to suggest an alternative). Man is limited, as such, man can never claim to know anything truly… as I explained a bit in my last comment on this.

    If you make yourself the ultimate standard for truth, then, whenever you say that you know something for certain, you are brought up short by your limitedness, and you must admit that you can’t know anything for certain, because you don’t know everything… and simply may not know the reasons yet why your certainty is actually false. Yet if you claim that we cannot be certain, you are making a certain claim.

    Only if there is an infinite being, who knows everything at every point in the universe simultaneously is this problem of knowledge solved. As such, we can only know truth if it is revealed to us by God – that infinite omniscient being.

    What this looks like practically, Mike, is that throughout the history of the church there have been prevailing ideas that secularists can been certainly convinced of that supposedly blow the Christian worldview and revelation of the Bible out of the water. However, over time these supposed airtight arguments have been destroyed, and others put in their place.

    We are living at a point in history where one particular set of ideas is – again – being presented as the absolute truth that destroys the Christian worldview, and demonstrates it’s fallacy. The presuppositional argument I offer above explains how that will always be the case, and also demonstrates why the claims of secularists on any issue don’t stack up. The historical argument I offer demonstrates why it’s just not wise to jump on the secularist bandwagon. The latest round of ideas always looks as though it’s “winning”, despite the secularists insurmountable presuppositional philosophical problems, which are always ignored historically, because the prevailing winds always sound so convincing.

  84. Pete Myers said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:02 am

    #82

    There is a lot of nuance that is lacking in this post. This is a prime example of the reductive fallacy.

    As is that. :p

  85. June 12, 2009 at 10:07 am

    “As is that. :p”

    Being concise is not the same as being reductive.

    You, also, just committed a reductive fallacy. ;-)

  86. Reed Here said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Aaron, is this your first time to Green Bagginses? If so, welcome; if not, hello again. If you would, please (re) introduce yourself; already have your name, please add your locale, your church affiliation, what church office you hold (if any.)

    As to your observation of lack of nuancing, consider that absence of presence is not proof of absence. The nature of blogging requires a balancing between focused pithiness and measured explanation. My conclusion is based on quite a bit of prayerful study. I find that usually those who affirm inerrancy readily see the argument; whereas those who do not do not.

    Fortunately we have the commenting process to help expose and develop. I invite you to demonstrate how your own un-nuanced conclusion is valid. I’m ready to hear/learn how I’ve committed the reductio ad absurdum fallacy.

  87. greenbaggins said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Yes, Aaron, but assertion is not proof. Why not prove that it is a reductive fallacy?

  88. Mike said,

    June 12, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Pete #83, again thanks for this comment. I know it takes a lot of time to clearly articulate these points as you have done.

    I think though, with all due respect, you are guilty of what you accuse me of. That is not fully understanding and comprehending my presuppositions. When I hear Christians make similar assertions as you have done “there is the inherent presuppositional commitment to dependence on God (the Christian worldview), and the inherent presuppositional commitment to independence from God (other worldviews)” …my response to this is that there is a ton of presuppositions contained in that statement.

    I was thinking about this just this morning that I think presuppositions are the bilblical parallel of planks and specks. It is easier for us to see the specks (other’s presuppositions) in other’s eyes than it is for us to see the planks (our presuppositions) in our own eyes. A good example of this is the link sent to me by Truth Unites #78. In that dialogue the Christian neatly picks apart the presuppositions of the unbeliever however the unbeliever does not in turn point out the glaring presuppositions of the Christian.

    I think for honest dialogue we need to fully acknowledge both…this is how I began my journey

    very respectfully (and apologies if I have offended any…def not my intent), Mike

  89. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    A good example of this is the link sent to me by Truth Unites #78. In that dialogue the Christian neatly picks apart the presuppositions of the unbeliever however the unbeliever does not in turn point out the glaring presuppositions of the Christian.

    Dear Mike,

    The unbeliever has no need to point out the “glaring” presuppositions of the Christian in that dialogue because the Christian himself points out his glaring presuppositions himself!

  90. Mike said,

    June 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Truth #89 …but how does that Christian present them in the dialogue? Like they are the ultimate reality…which I would submit is a presupposition.

    I don’t want to get into an argument over whose presuppositions are better or right or whatever…I just wish that Christians would acknowledge their presuppositions honestly….as I have done. I don’t think many understand them b/c when you start going down the “why, why, why” path when it comes to Christian presuppositions I think you find that the basis of belief is their own faith that they have chosen to place. I don’t say this condescendingly…it is just the way it appears to me.

    I have been honest about who or what is my standard of truth. The fact that Christians have chosen not to be their own arbiter of truth but rather to place that in a belief system which includes the Bible I don’t think makes us that much different…and I am OK with that. no harm no foul.

  91. rfwhite said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Mike: I’m not clear: when you say, “I don’t think [it] makes us that much different,” you seem to be saying that Christians should acknowledge that we all, Christians and non-Christians, operate from presuppositions. Is that correct? To say that we all operate from presuppositions, however, is not to say that all presuppostions are of equal truth value, correct?

  92. Pete Myers said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    #88 Mike,

    I’m sorry if I haven’t made clear that I have presuppositions too. I’ve tried to do that.

    If anything, I’d argue that Christians are more clear than non-Christians at stating their presuppositions.

    Here is my essential presuppositional committment: faith in God, expressed in dependence on his Word for the foundation of all knowledge.

    Hence, if there is any question on any issue, the ultimate “trump” card in my presuppositional framework is: if you can demonstrate it exegetically from scripture, I’ll believe it.

    I’m afraid that, if there’s actually a whole set of presuppositions I haven’t been up front and honest about, then you’ll have to point them out to me Mike.

  93. Mike said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    rfw #91

    “…that we all, Christians and non-Christians, operate from presuppositions. Is that correct?” unequivocally yes

    “To say that we all operate from presuppositions, however, is not to say that all presuppostions are of equal truth value, correct?” I plead the 5th on this one. This is why I am on the journey.

  94. Mike said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Pete #92…right on brother! I get it. THanks for your response.

    I know that I have expressed a lot of ideas here that clearly reflect a post modern viewpoint yet I see the problems with this as well. I think postmodernism works better in theory than practice. It raises questions better than it gives answers. But these questions I must wrestle with until at some point I give up or come to some understanding that makes sense to me that I can live with.

  95. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Mike: “Truth #89 …but how does that Christian present them in the dialogue?”

    If we turn to the aformentioned dialogue referenced in #78, we see that the atheist clearly understands the Christian’s presuppositions via his statement: “Well, I can see that if I believed in God and held the Bible as my foundation for truth then the problem of evil would be at least a little easier to grapple with.”

    Mike: “I just wish that Christians would acknowledge their presuppositions honestly….as I have done.”

    Most professing Christians don’t think through their faith that deeply.

  96. June 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Reed,

    Yes, I’ve not introduced myself before. I pastored youth for a handful of years, but have since returned to finish my theological studies. I’m studying philosophy at Calvin College, then planning to enter an MA or PhD program, in either theology or biblical studies (or an interdisciplinary field that would include those subjects).

    I would describe my church affiliation as some amalgamation of Reformed, Anglo-Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Kuyperian, Anabaptist, and Orthodox. But I’ve mainly taken to calling myself Augustinian ;-). (I should probably also mention that I studied for a couple years at a tiny Bible college in Britain, accredited through the University of Wales.)

    “The nature of blogging requires a balancing between focused pithiness and measured explanation.”

    Absolutely–and I think this is the key. With all of our hasty thinking and argumentation (myself included, of course), we frequently can reduce complex ideas into what becomes oversimplification.

    I should add, though, that the “reductive fallacy” should not be confused with the “reductio ad absurdum” argument. Reductio ad absurdum is an actual technical argument (not a fallacy), which is quite clever, actually =).

    I was trying to be a nice Christian, and tried to only implicitly point out the oversimplification in the original post, when I wrote:

    “If Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical, then Jesus’ atonement is as well. There is no other conclusion we can reach.”

    Is there no other conclusion we can reach?

    That is to say, there are actually many possible conclusions we can reach. As one example, perhaps in Paul’s time and culture, use of textual sources was not the same as ours, and we are anachronistically (and accidentally) applying 21st-century sensibilities onto the 1st century.

    Here is your original statement:

    P1 (Adam and the Fall are in the Bible.)
    P2 Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical.
    P3 (Jesus’s atonement is in the Bible.)
    C Therefore, Jesus’s atonement is also rhetorical.

    But the problem with this line of argumentation is that while your premises are sound, the conclusion is invalid. For example, there many parts of the Bible that are indeed rhetorical, but this does not render Jesus’s atonement as rhetorical.

    I think it’s good, though, with all of the discussion over presuppositions. It’s obvious to everyone involved that this heavily debated topic is essentially a philosophical/epistemological debate. And since we are all good Reformed believers, we are only fully aware that it is not always in our power to “convince” someone to believe in things.

    I think a healthy study of some of the tools of philosophy can bring a lot to the table, and highlight where some mistakes are being made. For example, let’s look at the common argument for inerrancy based on the character of God:

    P1 God is perfect (i.e., factually correct with math, science, history, etc.).
    P2 The Bible is God’s book, theopneustos, divinely inspired.
    C Therefore, the Bible is perfect (i.e., factually correct in math, science, history, etc.).

    But this is also invalid. While the premises are true (God is indeed perfect, and the Bible is indeed God’s word), these two points do not by necessity lead to the conclusion. Because you could similarly say (1) God is perfect, (2) humans are God’s creation and made in the imago dei, (C) therefore humans are perfect.

    Anyway, just food for thought.

    “My conclusion is based on quite a bit of prayerful study.”

    You have to be careful with sayings like these ;-). I once had a guest lecturer at Bible college that explained he had studied Revelation for 25 years, and therefore his Dispensational interpretation was based on quite a bit of prayerful study ;-D.

    My youngest has waken from his nap, so I have to go!! =)

  97. Mike said,

    June 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Truth Unites #95

    “Most professing Christians don’t think through their faith that deeply.” I totally agree….but don’t you want to know why? I guess there are myraid reasons why…but this is SO important to get right.

    I have to admit that one of the reasons for where I am is not getting satisfactory answers to some of my questions. Thanks to all who have contributed and commented (Pete, Truth, Reed, rfw etc). I have to say to date this is the best “conversation” I had on the subject so far and why I am so engaged in it. When I talk about these things to the average Christian they look at me like I have 3 heads. Thanks everyone for hanging in there with me!

  98. greenbaggins said,

    June 12, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Aaron, your syllogism with regard to historicity has a flaw in it, and that is that you have not taken into account Paul’s explicit linking of the two historically (Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15). The first Adam last Adam connection means that from the perspective of the entire sweep of redemptive history, the second Adam came to fix what the first Adam broke. If that’s true, then if what Adam broke is not really historical, then why would there NEED to be a literal, historical second Adam to fix the problem. Your demonstration of the fallacy of the undistributed middle (which is what you were trying to make the argument look like) assumes that Adam and Christ are not connected in any way. But if they are, and if the whole point of Christ’s atonement was fix the Fall, then your argument does not hold.

  99. June 12, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Hi greenbaggins,

    That is absolutely one possibility, 100%. Although again, I’m simply pointing out that as the original post said, this is not “simply the only conclusion we can come to.” It is reductionist to say that this is the one and only possible option that these premises can validly point to.

    And that, certainly, is something we should all agree on.

  100. greenbaggins said,

    June 12, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Aaron, I’m glad you acknowledge the validity of the argument. However, for Reformed confessional believers such as myself, the historicity of Adam is not up for negotiation.

    The argument would go like this: Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 definitely propose a connection between the first Adam and the last Adam. Presumably this is indisputable. What is also indisputable from those two passages is that the last Adam came to fix what the first Adam broke. Would you be with me so far? If you are, then I don’t see how one could avoid the conclusion that if what Adam broke is not historically broken, then there would be no need for a historical “fix-it” job. The nature of the solution dictates the nature of the problem, does it not? Nevertheless, it is quite plain that Jesus’ Person and work is definitely an historical “fix-it” job. Therefore, Adam’s brokenness must also be an historical brokenness.

  101. Reed Here said,

    June 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Aaron, no. 99 (and previous): thanks for your reduction correction. I thought I’d made a mistake after I posted, but was on my way out to an important meeting.

    I see why you are saying I am making a reduction fallacy, and I believe you are wrong. Lane has pointed you to the necessary correction of your misunderstanding. Your response here, allowing for other possibilities, is missing the necessary presupposition that I thought was clear in what I said.

    Let me naunce this so as to remove the unclarity. Note right before the section you quote that I reference Rom 5:12-20. My argument hinges on the exegesis of this passage. I’ve assumed that my presupposition about this passage was rather well recognized, even by those who disagree with the common orthodox exegesis.

    As I noted to someone else here on this thread, this passage presents Adam and Jesus in a one-to-one manner; i.e., what it true for one is true for the other (federal headship), and what is the result for the one is exactly opposite the result for the other (sin vs. redemption.) It is really quite uncontroversial and rather common to note that Paul’s argument for the historicity of Jesus’ redemtption rests in this passage on the historicity of Adam and the Fall.

    Thus, rather than be an example of the reduction fallacy, my conclusion necessarily follows. Gvien Paul’s argument there are only two options available: either Adam AND Jesus are rhetorical or they both are historical.

    Of course, there could be a host of other alternative options, but that would require some presuppositions that I expected the readers here already reject. E.g.,

    God could be a liar;
    God could be irrational;
    God could be unknowably transcendent;
    (I’m sure you can come up with other equally ludacrious unbelieving presuppositions).

    Again, I thought we all agreed that these (and their like) are off the table. Further, I don’t think the presupposition that God communicates rationally, without any deception, is an Enlightment, or Modern, pre or post, or any other blame-your-era presupposition. Rather I think such a presupposition is rather basic to God’s own self attested identity in Scripture. It is as foolish to argue that such a presupposition is actually a reflection of modern concerns, and not inherent in the text, as it is to say that 2+2=4 is arthimetic of the western white male used to oppress others.

    I’ve heard (listened t, studied, worked with) the argument that we who are supportinng inerrancy are foisting in the Scriptures a modern presupposition of the nature of historical writing, and I find all such arguments empty of real force. There is no example you can provide that will avoid the force of the problem here. Paul assumes Adam’s historicity. This presupposition is fundamental to his argument for the historicity of Jesus’ redemptive work.

    You can’t get around that the way in which you’ve tried.

    So, not to be disagreeable, but to indeed do so, I disagree. I remain open to being shown other valid possibilities. I do not think you can demonstrate one more than these two, not at least without assuming something that necessarily further contradicts God’s own witness.

  102. Reed Here said,

    June 12, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Aaron: might I also ask you to consider that your assumptions about my lack of intellectual exposure and acument may be more based on your own fault reading of what I’ve said and not my actually failings?

    E.g., on what basis do you suppose you are being all that accurate and helpful in suggesting a bit of philosophical study will do me good? I’m open to correction of actual error. By God’s grace I’ve learned to be open to the arrogant put downs of the opponents of the gospel. Likewise I’m willing to bear with the uncalled for put downs of brothers – and I’m willing to love them back when they display similar arrogance.

    Please, feel free to make actual critiques of my statements, such as correcting my reduction reference error. Might I ask you consider the wisdom of more humility in assuming I’m not as well studied or read as you.

    To paraphrase someone I’ve recently read, be careful lest your presumption of your own correctness lead you to arrogant errors.

  103. Reed Here said,

    June 12, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Aaron: speaking of errors, you’ve outlined the inerrancy syllogism as follows:

    P1 God is perfect (i.e., factually correct with math, science, history, etc.).
    P2 The Bible is God’s book, theopneustos, divinely inspired.
    C Therefore, the Bible is perfect (i.e., factually correct in math, science, history, etc.)

    While I am sure you can find someone somewhere who has so argued, that is not the argument of those more versed in the biblical argument for its own inerrancy. Not by way of assumption here, but as it seems you are making a reduction fallacy here, who among the inerrancy defenders, such as Warfield, have you spent any critical time reading?

    I’m surprised that you left out of your syllogism at least one critical premise, namely that the Bible itself claims to accurately represent the inerrant character of its Author. Accordingly, if P1, P2 AND P3 are believed, then the conclusion necessarily follows.

    I’m not all that well versed in logic. Yet this seems pretty obvious to me. I wonder, with sincerity as I see this error continually made by others who speak and argue like you, why do you either miss or dismiss this?

  104. ReformedSinner said,

    June 12, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    ouch, I’m gone for a couple of days and this thread has morphed so much. I’m going to take a backseat for now as the weekend is coming up…

  105. Pete Myers said,

    June 13, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Mike,

    What do you make of the arguments put forward for why the Christian presuppositional framework is more consistent than a man-centred presuppositional framework?

  106. rfwhite said,

    June 14, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Mike, Pete Myers raises an important implication: if there is such a thing as a superior presuppositional framework, how do we recognize it when we see it; that is, what are its distinguishing marks?

  107. GLW Johnson said,

    June 14, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Should we assume Aaron that you will not be doing your graduate training at WTS Philadelphia?

  108. Mike said,

    June 15, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Pete #105 and rfw #106. These are good questions…for which we may come to different conclusions based upon the “goodness” of the outcome of the presuppostion is that is our measure. Ceratinly Nietzsche’s presuppositions led him to believe in a worldview that would lead to “negative outcomes”.

    I think I can anticipate your next question….how am I determining “goodness” or “negative outcome”…the simple answer is that I don’t know or at least I cannot tell the source with any certainty. Christian philosophers (like Lewis or Schaeffer) would point to evidence of the divine in the existence of these ideas. I am not so sure….Do these ideas of goodness and evil exist outside of a Christian framework (or at least a theistic framework)? I believe that they do…but are they societal, instinctual, divine, a combination…I don’t know.

  109. rfwhite said,

    June 15, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Mike, when you ask if ideas exist outside a Christian framework, it seems from your answer that it is not their existence that you question but their origin. Is that correct? If not, please explain.

  110. Mike said,

    June 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    rfw #109 correct

  111. Pete Myers said,

    June 16, 2009 at 7:01 am

    I think I can anticipate your next question….how am I determining “goodness” or “negative outcome”…the simple answer is that I don’t know or at least I cannot tell the source with any certainty. Christian philosophers (like Lewis or Schaeffer) would point to evidence of the divine in the existence of these ideas. I am not so sure….Do these ideas of goodness and evil exist outside of a Christian framework (or at least a theistic framework)? I believe that they do…but are they societal, instinctual, divine, a combination…I don’t know.

    Mike, in all honesty I can’t see why you find your current position any better than the Christian worldview you said you’ve moved from. I’m not saying this to “have a go” – please understand this is a genuine question. But you don’t seem to have any actual reasons for shifting your framework other than it feels right to you, and the position you seem to be holding to (trying to understand it as I read what you say) appears self-refuting.

    What I’ve put forward to you, Mike, is not that the Christian worldview is somehow more “good” or less “bad” than another worldview… I’ve attempted to demonstrate that the worldview you’ve described is self-refuting at the most fundamental level, in contrary to the Christian worldview which is consistent with it’s own presuppositional foundations.

    So.. my question is what do you make of that, rather than how you feel about the different positions?

  112. Mike said,

    June 16, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Pete #111 is it consistency that we are striving for? I can only answer for myself in that I am not. I think we all assume that truth (what we are ultimately striving for) is consistent. Can it be inconsistent?

  113. rfwhite said,

    June 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Pete Myers: to follow in your line of thought, a well-known apologist has said words to this effect: the Christian worldview is commended by the impossibility of the contrary.

  114. Pete Myers said,

    June 16, 2009 at 11:47 am

    #112,

    Mike… your reasons for shifting worldview so far are that you’ve found more “peace” in alternatives. Are you defining “truth” simply by what feels “peaceful”?

    Surely a worldview that is self refuting at the most fundamental level is in a level of turmoil, or chaos, or movement, or conflict… but not “peace”.

    Though, I guess if you want to say that you’re not even sure if a worldview needs to “make sense” at the most fundamental level, then you’re happy to believe all sorts of “non-sense” :p (to allude to a very famous Christian thinker).

    #113

    Looks like we’re on the same page.

  115. Mike said,

    June 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Pete #112 yes there is a certain sense of “truth” about it…but I would posit that applies to Christianity as well. We all do this in life…thus the saying “if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck..” This is the kind of truth test (mentioned in earlier comments) that certain aspects of orthodox Christianity fails to pass for me. Inerrancy being one of them.

  116. Pete Myers said,

    June 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    #115,

    Mike on this:

    but I would posit that applies to Christianity as well

    The argument that I’ve put forward contrasts the Christian – theo-centric – worldview with a secular – anthropo-centric – worldview, and tries to demonstrate why the secular worldview is fundamentally inconsistent on the presuppositional/foundational level in a way that is not true of the Christian worldview.

    I’d invite you to engage with the argument I put forward. I understand that you don’t feel the secular worldview is more fundamentally incoherent than the Christian worldview… but why is that the case? Particularly in reference to the position I outlined in #83

  117. Mike said,

    June 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Pete #116 we could probably talk about this in circles all day but I don’t think the postmodern conundrum is reason to dismiss or accept some certainties…even if the certainty is about uncertainty.

    If you think about it, a naturalistic worldview is extremely consistent if you accept the presupposition…even more so that Christianity….yet most of us reject it upon it’s presuppositions in favor of a theistic one. But this christian worldview is based upon many assumptions…some of which I accept (faith in God) and some that I reject (biblical inerrancy). I can be “certain enough”…and not fall into the postmodern conundrum realizing that even these “certainties” may change over time.

  118. Pete Myers said,

    June 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    #117

    Mike, with respect, I don’t think you seem to be understanding the idea of “presuppositions”.

    What’s more the thing that you’re referring to as the “postmodern conundrum” isn’t really where my argument lies. Or at least you’ll have to explain what you mean by that.

    On a separate issue – If the Bible teaches inerrancy, then faith in God means accepting inerrancy. Choosing to believe some things God says and not others is not having faith in God at all.

  119. Reed Here said,

    June 16, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Pete: ooooohhhh, well said. We don’t get to pick and choose, do we?

    Mike: that deserves some reflection. :)

  120. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Reed #119 “We don’t get to pick and choose, do we?” to which I would respond…why not? This is one of the very fundamental problems I have with inerrancy….it is a pill that has to be swallowed whole.

  121. Reed Here said,

    June 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Mike: I was referring to Pete’s comment:

    Choosing to believe some things God says and not others is not having faith in God at all.

    By definition, God speaks authoritatively. His word does not allow us to pick and choose what we want to believe, simply because of Who He is (perfect) vs. who we are (fallen.)

    I’m not sure what is so controversial about this point, nor how this creates a inerrancy pill that sticks in the throat.

  122. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    It seems to me that we always want (as sinful folks) to be able to limit God in what He can and cannot say. So if we have the ability to pick and choose what God has said in the Bible and what He has not said, or, alternately, what is binding on us and what is not, then we will have the ability to put ourselves on a level with God so that we can take away some of the things we don’t like in Scripture, and leave those things we do like. This will have the effect of creating God in our own image, a “return favor” that we have been doing for millennia.

  123. ReformedSinner said,

    June 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    #121 Reed,

    If I may, I believe Mike’s take is that since you (nor I) are God, then how can you say your “take” on God is better than his? At the end of the day it’s just our personal flavors and opinions, since God is unattainable.

    This is why he can reject everything, everyone, that he doesn’t like, because, at the end of the day, any of our take (or Warfield, or any Reformed giants) are just the same as his, so he’s at peace with what he wants and how he wants it and he doesn’t care what others think (he has expressed this many times in greenbaggins, and no he has no problem with this.)

    Just wanted to move the conversation along, the problem is no longer submitting to the authority of God, the problem is he doesn’t believe any human beings has access to the authoritative teachings of God.

  124. June 17, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Hi guys,

    Sorry for my extended absence! I haven’t set aside enough time to post until now.

    Reed, I’m afraid that you appear to be just as terribly longwinded as myself! This is a recipe for disaster.

    Reed:

    “Of course, there could be a host of other alternative options, but that would require some presuppositions that I expected the readers here already reject. E.g.,

    God could be a liar;
    God could be irrational;
    God could be unknowably transcendent;
    (I’m sure you can come up with other equally ludacrious unbelieving presuppositions).

    Again, I thought we all agreed that these (and their like) are off the table. “

    It’s reassuring that you are open to the possibility of there being an entire “host of alternative options.” And yes, these particular ones listed here are off the table. But there is another option you did not list:

    God could be accommodating to his audience.

    And interestingly enough, this possibility seems to be under great exploration at the moment. And it certainly corroborates the data that we have from God’s gracious “general revelation,” in addition to the “special revelation” of the scriptures.

    Reed: “Further, I don’t think the presupposition that God communicates rationally, without any deception, is an Enlightment, or Modern, pre or post, or any other blame-your-era presupposition.”

    3rd Century: “Well of course God communicates allegorically.”
    12th Century: “Well of course God communicates metaphysically.”
    21st Century: “Well of course God communicates rationally.”

    Okay, if you say so =).

    Reed: “I’ve heard (listened t [sic], studied, worked with) the argument that we who are supportinng [sic] inerrancy are foisting in the Scriptures a modern presupposition of the nature of historical writing, and I find all such arguments empty of real force.”

    It’s funny, because even modern historians will happily explain that there is no such thing as “objective” history. This is one of the good elements of that mixed bag of postmodernism.

    Reed: “Aaron: might I also ask you to consider that your assumptions about my lack of intellectual exposure and acument [sic] may be more based on your own fault [sic] reading of what I’ve said and not my actually [sic] failings?”

    You may. But see [sic]‘s highlighted above. ;-)

    Reed: “on what basis do you suppose you are being all that accurate and helpful in suggesting a bit of philosophical study will do me good? [...] Might I ask you consider the wisdom of more humility in assuming I’m not as well studied or read as you.”

    This is where your responses started to get a little…awkward… (3 posts, back-to-back-to-back, timestamped 8 minutes apart?!)

    Reed, it seems as though you took a lot of my general comments regarding the entire debate as personal comments. If you go back to my original comment, I actually was speaking only generally. And to clarify my original point, I was talking about not this comment thread (or you personally), but rather the entirety of the evangelical academy, including all of those presently engaged in the debate, ad nauseam infinitum.

    So perhaps your advice that you gave me is more appropriately applied to yourself:
    “be careful lest your presumption of your own correctness lead you to arrogant errors.”

    Reed: “Aaron, no. 99 (and previous): thanks for your reduction correction. I thought I’d made a mistake after I posted, but was on my way out to an important meeting.”

    No sweat, Reed. I went ahead and did a Google search on “reductive fallacy,” to try and follow your tracks and see which site led you astray to a false definition. I clicked on the first result at the top of the list, and sure enough, the very first definition offered of the “reductive fallacy” mistakenly labels it “a.k.a. reductio ad absurdum.” So, now I see why you got it wrong =).

    I’ll let you guys continue to mingle among yourselves! Enjoy the company.

  125. Reed Here said,

    June 18, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Aaron: I’ve yet to run into te kind of smarmy, drippy, condescending arrogance you show here. Please, if this is the caliber of your interaction, don’t waste our time.

    Your comment was addressed to me. Nothing in your comment noted you were referring to the entirety of the evangelical academy at large. I responded personally not becaue I took it personally, but because you directed it personally. Get off your high holier than thou horse.

    Your dismissiveness of my awareness of the boundaries of the debate is just that, dismissiveness. I’m well aware of the historical objectivity debate and the century by century perspective, and a host of other such angles you may want to assume I’m not aware of.

    As to your, “I can see where you got it wrong,” on the reductive fallacy – come off it dude! That error came out of my own noodle. Why in the world do you find the need to look up where you think I got it from, and continue to harp on it? It serves no purpose in the conversation other than as another means of put down.

    I could care less about personal attacks you make on me in this way. I do care that you use such attacks to “prove” your’s is a superior position.

    I note you are yet young in your study and ministry (from your blog site.) I pray in time God will be merciful to show you the wretchedness of the arrogance that writes what you’ve written – all personal against me and not substantive to the topic at all – and then end with the smary, doubtful of sincerity, “Enjoy the company.”

    Please, read and consider the following post, Inerrancy & Humility. You seem to be running a campaign for the non-existent poster child position.

  126. GLW Johnson said,

    June 18, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Aaron is one of those anti-inerrancy zealots I earlier referenced. Reed, don’t feel singled out- he behaved the same way over on Scott Clark’s blog

  127. Reed Here said,

    June 18, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for your concern Gary. No, I’m o.k. with his treatment of me. I still remained concerned and startled that someone ostensibly called to some form of ministry on the Church would behave publicly with such willfulness.

    Sheep bewarned.

  128. June 18, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Reed:

    “I see why you are saying I am making a reduction fallacy, and I believe you are wrong.”
    “By God’s grace I’ve learned to be open to the arrogant put downs of the opponents of the gospel.”
    “Might I ask you consider the wisdom of more humility in assuming I’m not as well studied or read as you.”
    “To paraphrase someone I’ve recently read, be careful lest your presumption of your own correctness lead you to arrogant errors.”
    “who among the inerrancy defenders, such as Warfield, have you spent any critical time reading?”
    “Get off your high holier than thou horse.”

    I cite these as examples of you performing the very accusations that you are leveling against me. If I am on a “high holier than thou horse,” it is only in response and to the degree that you are as well =). You assume that I’m not as “well read” as you, you comment about assumptions of correction and arrogance, you are rude, and absolutely condescending. I’m surprised that you say you have yet to run into someone exhibiting such qualities! =)

    Reed: “Your comment was addressed to me. Nothing in your comment noted you were referring to the entirety of the evangelical academy at large.”

    Reed, as an example, look at this statement of yours: “By God’s grace I’ve learned to be open to the arrogant put downs of the opponents of the gospel.” Now, depending on how “center-of-my-own-universe” I am, I could take your comment as referring to me. “Reed,” I would say, “that is a personal attack! Of course you are talking about me, because I am the only person you are talking to here!” But of course, I would be wrong. =) It’s just a general comment.

    Seriously, I wasn’t talking about you =).

    Reed: “As to your, ‘I can see where you got it wrong,’ on the reductive fallacy – come off it dude!”

    I’m glad that you highlighted this specific comment of mine, because as I was writing it, I thought to myself, “Should I tell him that I’m explicitly using his own terminology, from his earlier comment?” (See your very first comment quoted above.) So when you write it, it’s okay; but when someone else writes it, it is “rude.”

    “That error came out of my own noodle.”
    Okay, if you say so =).

    GLW:
    “Reed, don’t feel singled out- he behaved the same way over on Scott Clark’s blog”

    On the contrary, I will happily refer everyone here to the comments that GLW is citing. As you can see from clicking the link, Scott himself admits that he resorted to a bad attitude, and I was simply responding and calling him out on it.

    Such is the case here. My comments and attitude here are only in response to Reed’s initiation. See my original comment (#96) above (before Reed got riled up) as proof of point.

    Reed: “I still remained concerned and startled that someone ostensibly called to some form of ministry on the Church would behave publicly with such willfulness.”

    If you think I’m bad, you should read Paul or Jesus sometime! Those guys had some cannons!

    Of course, if you think their harsh words and attitudes are sinful, you have to wonder whether the authors of scripture erred in recording them, as sinful as they are! But personally, I think the authors got it right ;-).

    Okay gents, I’m afraid I’m going to have to bow out. Reed, I’ll give you the last word. But I pray that “in time God will be merciful, to show you the wretchedness of the arrogance that writes what you’ve written.” =)

  129. Reed Here said,

    June 18, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Aaron: please, you are merely turning the tables. You have not responded to one substantive response I made. I’ll limit myself to one example. You get on me for erroneously thinking you were talking of me when you actually were talking about the evangelical academy. I point out to you you are not justified in calling me to account because you actually did what I said, directed your comments at me. And now you ignore the facts of the matter, dissembling in style, in order to yet again take another shot at me.

    I note for the record Aaron that you have not made one substantive comment concerning the subject of the discussion here. Instead you have spent your time disparaging both individuals here and those who affirm inerrancy more broadly.

    Your’s is the kind of disingenuous dissembling that is characteristic of one who either does not have an argument or worse. Instead of joining the conversation with some sincere constructive interaction … Well, I’ll let your behavior stand as its on testimony.

    No doubt you will continue to be self-justified, and then try turning the tables by asserting to any who challenge you, “nyah, nyah, that’s what you are, but what am I?”

    Feel free to contact me off blog if you believe you have any offense against me which you are conscious bound to address (reedhere at gmail dot com.)

    Otherwise, given your failure (unwillingness, inability?) to constructively engaged, consider yourself not invited to participate at this point. Good bye to you and your pea-shooter.


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