Whatever Happened to the Church

Reed DePace

Question I’d ask any to comment upon: is God in the process of judging the Church in America? Scripture to contemplate: Jh 6:28; Mt 5:13; 1Ti 3:4-5; Eph 5:13; 2Ti3:1-5; Jh 15:6

The background to my question comes from this FB status I posted:

Whatever Happened … To the Church?

That is what your grandchildren may ask one day. If things keep going the way they are, God is going to remove the Church from this land. America may become a post-post-Christian nation with barely a remembrance of Christ.

What ever happened to a man not being qualified to shepherd God’s family if he cannot shepherd his own family (1Ti 3:4-5)? Preachers’ Daughters (check out the family bios.)

We are awash in pastors who promote godliness but deny the only One who is its power (2Ti 3:5). Christianity IS NOT about us keeping the rules, and pastors who teach that are doing the same thing the ones Jesus condemned did.

(Don’t read between the lines. Holiness is essential. We don’t get it in any manner that is based on our effort. Our problem with sin is worse than we imagine. We neither believe nor live in what Jesus said is necessary for true holiness. Jh 6:28)

The shame of the Church continues to be paraded and laughed at by the unbelieving culture. What in the world are we thinking supporting that by parading our own sinfulness – and celebrating it – before those who mock Jesus Christ? (Eph 5:12; 1Pe 4:3)

When salt is worthless, what do you do with it? According to Jesus, you throw it into the mud where at least it can add some traction for the feet of those who walk on it. (Mt 5:13) The Church is washing away her saltiness in shallow love for God and heated love for the world. Our children are leaving us in the mud and jumping into the manure-pile of the debauchery of this world.

God have mercy, Christ have mercy, Holy Spirit have mercy. If He doesn’t our grandchildren will be wondering whatever happened to the Church in America.

Reed DePace

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55 Comments

  1. Steve Drake said,

    March 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    is God in the process of judging the Church in America?

    In that we get what we vote for? Yes. In that we reap the implications of our choices in life? Yes. In that we allow dangerous and heretical philosophies of men to be promulgated from our pulpits? Yes.

    We’re headed the way of Great Britain and northern Europe, where 2, 3, 4% of the population are actively attending church and calling themselves Evangelical. In the birthplace of the Reformation, there are very few vestiges left (as a statistical whole of it’s impact in the lives of people) of that once great movement.

    What we can do, is teach and reteach the orthodox truths of our Judeo-Christian system of thought to our children and grandchildren and warn them of the future. A future of minimal influence in the life of the culture that surrounds them.

  2. andrew said,

    March 16, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    “What ever happened to a man not being qualified to shepherd God’s family if he cannot shepherd his own family (1Ti 3:4-5)?”

    That suggests a stronger view of covenant sucession that you usually subscribe to, no?

    Or perhaps you take take the more general evangelical line that ‘believing children ‘ means ‘socially respectable children’.

    In any case, interesting post. I certainly think that Romans 1 allows us to say that any church where homosexuality is widespread,celebrated or condoned is under judgement.

  3. Reed Here said,

    March 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Andrew, no your take is not in line with my thinking. In fact, neither or your options appear to me to be consistent with Scripture.

    The issue is not about social respectability. That is the Pharisaical failure the current young generation is reacting against. Your covenant succession point is a bit unclear to me, but if you’re suggesting a RCC viewpoint, hah!

    .

  4. andrew said,

    March 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Reed,

    Most evangelical and reformed folk are unwillinging to say that as a general rule, where children grow up unbelievers, the fault lies with the parenting. This seems to be what Paul says in the verses on elders and their children, and you seem to be agreeing with Paul.

    If you think covenant sucession is RC, you may be mixing up covenant sucession with some other term – apostolic sucession, maybe (CS isn’t a terribly ancient or widespread term, though obviously the teaching is, so the confusion is understandable).

    RC Sproul, Jr defines it as the teaching “that the children of believers are expected to succeed in the faith of their parents, and this is accomplished through the divinely ordained means of covenant nurture.” (To You and Your Children: Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession)

    Or see the Hodge-Thornwall debates if you like historical pedigree to your theology.

  5. Reed Here said,

    March 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Andrew, thank you. Familiar with the concept of covenant succession, Never saw the label with it. Most likely my poor reading skills.

    Think your presentation is a bit flat and absolute. I recognize Titus 1:6 is a bit more specific than the Timothy qualification. I think, when we bring the rest of Scripture into view, we are not to understand Paul to Titus in absolute terms. E.g., no one knows the truthfulness of anyone’s profession of faith. We must live by evidences of credibility. Even where there is such evidence we are still dealing with a presumption. The elect are NOT definitively known this side of eternity. Rather they are known “approximately” (probably a better word than this).

    Titus, it seems to me, is referencing children of a man of age to by faith refrain from the debauchery/insubordination that is characteristic of the unregenerate. In this way, they offer a credible profession of faith.

    This does not, however, mean that all children in a man’s house must make a credible profession of faith before he can be an elder. The focus is on the one’s he has raised and are now reckoned adults. Do they show credible faith? In this way they serve as evidence of his fathering.

    Finally, I don’t agree with the absolute statement that children growing up unbelievers is explicitly the fault of the parenting they received., Things are much more nuanced than that. You most likely mean better than the way this is worded. Maybe a critical component is in the parenting. After all, surely the key component rests with the Spirit, not the man.

  6. March 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    When did he ever stop in any time any where?

  7. CD-Host said,

    March 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Judging the church doesn’t mean much of anything. American religion doesn’t have the same kinds of problems as European religion which have always been either state churches or almost state churches. Statistic show the numbers of Nones: Atheist, Agnostic, No religion, Don’t know their religion, Don’t care is skyrocketing. But I don’t think that plays out long term to create a few percentage points of religion. Religion in America is competitive, a huge number of people without any spiritual ties will create a market for new forms of the faith which reach out to them. Right now such forms don’t exist.

    So I don’t think decline in America that is likely to be stable. I think it is an effect of the success of the evangelical movement and somewhat regional. America I believe has a 4 generational cycle because it does not have state churches:

    If you have a regenerate church then you must exclude or effectively exclude a large number of the children of believers. Now those children are educated in the faith and willfully reject it, which doesn’t present a huge moral dilemma for believers. They are going to be pained their children choose to reject the faith of their childhood, but they rejected it. What it does mean though that does present a moral dilemma is a large number of the grandchildren of believers aren’t raised in the church at all. They don’t even get an opportunity to reject it. The only way for these grandchildren, the children of non believers to have an effective opportunity is for the message of the church to be welcomed and supported by society. But to do that a church can’t exclude those parents who rejected the church. So there has to be compromise with non-believers and not a regenerate membership. There needs to at least be a “half-way covenant”.

    The problem is a halfway covenant is almost totally at variance with the idea that everyone is damned without an experience of regeneration. And so the church sells out the gospel and in exchange gets broad civil influence. Almost immediately the people drawn to the gospel are drawn towards some notion of a regenerate church: they build a church in a church and only later form a separate institution. As long as the secular civil church exists and the regenerate church considers itself a branch from it the grandchild problem doesn’t exist, because the children just quit the branch and join the main trunk. But within a generation or two of the break they have carried off huge numbers from the secular / civil church with them. At that point they have the numbers to start thinking of themselves as a separate institution with little relationship to the trunk. The civil church no longer its primary purpose of uniting religious / pious and the secular in compromise and so dies, the cycle starts anew.

    Evangelicals by and large are a bit complex. In the northeast, west and midwest they are in the first generation after their now separate institutions “stole” huge numbers of people from the civil churches of the victorian era to their new churches. They have completely discredited the mainline churches to the point that cooperation would be impossible. They are still regenerate, but the mainline churches are no longer a field of missions and thus they are losing members. Evangelicals in the northeast and midwest don’t have the grandchildren problem yet but they will soon. They will compromise and I think their numbers will grow.

    In the south, Evangelicals are at a different phase. They have a civil institution. Southerners identify as evangelical and Christian their whole lives and never really consider an alternative. Being Christian is part of being from the south.

    Mainline churches are going through a bit of a renaissance. Their membership more and more choose to be in their style of churches and is enthusiastic about their vision. Their infrastructure is probably still too large for their membership but they are (excluding loses to the Nones) successfully recruiting and I wouldn’t be shocked if for this generation they get into a situation where the net inflow / outflow from Nones is positive.

    Conservative Presbyterianism is very small relative to the broader Evangelical world, and trades members with it freely. I suspect conservative Presbyterian churches are going to be experiencing inflows throughout this generation.

  8. andrew said,

    March 17, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Reed,

    Could not agree more that we dealing with presumption, not certain knowledge of someone’s elect status (I have yet to read an FVer explain why susch presumption/judgement of charity is not an suitable explanation of Pauls’s calling professing Christians ‘elect’, ‘justified’, etc)

    If I understand you right you expect the grown up children of an elder to be Christian. I am content with your desription describing parenting as ‘a critical component’ for the child’s outcome.

    Your posistion is still impressively strong. Guys like Justin Taylor and Don Carson just go for the “socially respectable” option.

    Hope church goes well.

  9. Wayne Sparkman said,

    March 17, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Reed, I can agree with many of your conclusions in the OP, but at the same time, I think you’ve put too much stock in the TV show itself as an example. The substance of what youve said remains true, but that show is an instance of people with a thinly veiled agenda to make Christians look silly and stupid. One way or another they’ve talked these people into being the case studies of the show. Maybe it’s money, or fame, or ego, or even the mistaken idea that they might advance their ministry (plus, there’s always the possibility that some of these folks are just actors).
    In short, I’d put this show in the Psalm 2:1-2 category, at heart it is a raging against the Lord.

  10. michael said,

    March 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Sitting in a comfortable chair, head resting fully relaxed close your eyes and draw up images of the perfect power filled Church Christ had in mind on the day of Penecost. Focus on the book of Acts and the mountains and valleys of spiritual highs and lows described in there. Go now to the books Paul wrote. Then Peter’s, James and John. Then Jude.

    Now think about that perfect Church and Christ mighty and strong being ordained as the High Priest of the royal priesthood still going about the world building His CHURCH.

    Now consider your OP in light of these verses:

    We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:1-6 ESV)

    and

    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:1-5 ESV)

    And

    Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; (Hebrews 12:12-15 ESV)

    Then ponder which one are you, the strong one full of the power of God’s strength to bring His word, or the one close to the end waning in weakness and strength in need of GRACE to be administered to them again and again and again?

    I am convinced of one thing about Christ.

    For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:3-7 ESV).

  11. Cris Dickason said,

    March 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

    To CD-Host @ 7
    Judging the church doesn’t mean much of anything.

    [sputtering - choking - coughing sounds]

    Then by all means, you can receive judgment if you wish!

    This statement is perilous – Hebrews 10:31 and 12:29 come to mind.
    Perhaps you meant “human judgment”?

  12. Cris Dickason said,

    March 18, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Wayne @ 9 –
    I can agree with many of your conclusions in the OP

    Do you mean by “OP” the Orthodox Presbyterian Church? I certainly hope not. If you do, I’m not sure where to start…

    Perhaps there’s a typo to correct, or some opinions, observations and fact that need to be laid out?

    -=Cris=-

  13. Wayne Sparkman said,

    March 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

    OP = Original Post, as opposed to any subsequent comments in the thread.

    Or to put it another way, when we means OPC, we says OPC.

  14. CD-Host said,

    March 18, 2013 at 8:39 am

    @Cris #11 –

    I think you might be misunderstanding what I was saying. What I was saying is that clams that churches are under judgement don’t mean much. Generally “under judgement” would imply some sort of punishment. But more and more, like in the post above, it is being used for allowing a sin to go unchecked.

    X is under judgement because Y is happening. Which most just means the speaker doesn’t like Y. Which is understandable, Y is generally a bad thing. But lets not confuse that with divine judgement which is a far worse thing.

    Reality television, like Lifetime’s show, is a proxy for gossip. I assume the target audience is people who would like to gossip but live in communities so large they don’t know their neighbors well enough to gossip. They don’t know the real preacher’s family so they can’t gossip about them, so instead they get proxy preacher’s families to gossip about.

    I was saying that lets not confuse day to day life stuff, even when it takes new forms, with divine judgement.

  15. Steve Drake said,

    March 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

    CD-Host #7,

    Now those children are educated in the faith and willfully reject it

    As a self-stated atheistic theosophist do you put yourself in this category? I see a prodigious amount of knowledge on all things “church” from your posts on this blog, but very little on any saving knowledge of this for you personally. I’m not trying to stir you up, just trying to figure you out. Don’t take it in any other way than I’m still a bit concerned.

  16. CD-Host said,

    March 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    @Steve –

    As a self-stated atheistic theosophist do you put yourself in this [educated in the faith and willfully reject it] category?

    Yes. That’s a fair description. I learned and learned about the faith and as I did so came to believe it less and less.

    but very little on any saving knowledge of this for you personally.

    I was arminian my whole Christian life either through osmosis or later through intent. But if I were reformed and looked at myself I’d be a pretty clear example of what not elect means. I know the faith but lack the moment of divine grace that overpowers the will that leads to salvation. That’s what reformed doctrine considers to be the normal human condition.

    I know God’s word but I’m not called to repentance by it. So no, I’m not saved. If you don’t believe in God you don’t believe in salvation.

  17. CD-Host said,

    March 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

    @Cris #12

    OP is internet speak for “original post”.

  18. Steve Drake said,

    March 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

    CD-Host #16,

    Yes. That’s a fair description. I learned and learned about the faith and as I did so came to believe it less and less.

    So, (and I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, but truly interested), your blog comments here on Green Baggins are an attempt to persuade us to be like you, believing our faith less and less, or are you hoping that something someone will say will “click”, and you will refind the faith you once lost?

    I know God’s word but I’m not called to repentance by it. So no, I’m not saved. If you don’t believe in God you don’t believe in salvation.

    Why do you find such interest in God’s Word; you obviously have a large amount of knowledge of it, yet not believe in the God who penned it? I realize your answer here could be that you don’t believe any of it came from God at all, just humans who ‘thought’ they believed that they were writing God’s word. Another answer might be that you find ‘some’ universal truths common to humanity and useful to sociey, but I’m interested in your answer, not my thoughts about your answer.

  19. Cris Dickason said,

    March 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Wayne – thanks for the lesson in blog abbreviations. Don’t know why I didn’t catch the meaning (isn’t context king?). Guess it was too close to goring my own little ox – being an OPC ruler elder. I was pretty sure you wouldn’t be leveling some across the board accusation against the OPC. Hopefully I’ve not offended you!

    I am well aware the the Only Pure Church is not yet perfected.

    Other explanations of OPC – Other People Change (courtesy a friend at General Assembly).

    CD-Host – Ok, I get what you meant. I’ve been mulling over Romans for weeks now and just started teach an SS on Romans. Chapters 1 & 2 are quite in the forefront of my thinking. So, my context overruled yours.

    0 for 2 today. Color me red-faced!

    -=Cris=-

  20. Steve Drake said,

    March 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

    CD-Host,

    I see that you have chosen not to reply to my questions in #18 above, I hope I have given no offense, so let me try to rephrase them a little differently.

    Is your interest in God’s Word, purely academic? In other words, you find it fascinating from a philosophical and psychological standpoint to study what man in his reasoning abilities about himself and the world around him has put forth from his mind and pen? Or is it possibly your studies of God’s Word and church history and your nom de plume, church-discipline-host, (and all that this entails in your posts here and on your website) enables you to justify to yourself a walking away from the teachings you were brought up with?

    I’m fumbling around here a little bit, I realize. Still trying to figure out what’s in your head. I mean no offense by these questions, and yet I think from most of the other commenters on this blog, one’s belief about God’s existence is of extreme importance. If no God, as you state above, then no ultimate standard and arbiter of good and evil, right and wrong, thus no true moral guilt before this God, and no need of a Savior. .

  21. CD-Host said,

    March 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    @Steve –

    Yes I was thinking about the “A Great Listen” thread when you wrote your post.

    Not believing in God doesn’t mean I don’t have strong views on church history or bible translation. If anything those things become stronger. As a Christian who believes that the bible has a divine author (or co-author) who is trying to communicate a theology similar to mine you constantly have to try and reinterpret the bible in terms of your theology. Once you no longer believe it becomes much easier to take biblical authors on their own terms. So in terms of “God’s word” I think of the bible as a small library not a single book, with the books having very different theologies than one another.

    In terms of why I find religion inspiring and interesting, I don’t know. I’ve always felt drawn. I suspect I ended up losing my faith because I felt drawn. Had I not been drawn and I wouldn’t have focused, had I not focused I could have stayed in my baptist church going every week and never really thinking about it. But because I did think about it I started asking questions that pulled me away.

    If no God, as you state above, then no ultimate standard and arbiter of good and evil, right and wrong, thus no true moral guilt before this God, and no need of a Savior. .

    I agree with the part about no God means no Savior. Moral guilt and right and wrong exist independently of believing in God. All humans, atheists included agree on almost everything in morality. The moral fights we have as a society are over a very thin sliver of the moral code.

    I don’t like to use terms like “ultimate standard” but no I’d contend I have a functionally ultimate standard or morality, I could call it an ultimate standard and that it isn’t different than your moral code.

  22. Ron said,

    March 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    “Once you no longer believe it becomes much easier to take biblical authors on their own terms.”

    Ah, so in other words once one frees himself of all his presuppositions and leanings he can finally rise above the text and operate according to the essence of true honesty, the sine qua non of sincere religious pursuit. Why stop there though? Let’s abandon all logic and any sense of metaphysics so we might better understand Wittgenstein.

  23. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I’m with Ron. It seems like the unifying theme of all of the writers of Scripture is belief. I would imagine not believing might get in the way of understanding their point of view?

  24. Steve Drake said,

    March 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    CD-Host,

    Yes I was thinking about the “A Great Listen” thread when you wrote your post.

    Old history I suppose, no use hashing out the argument over Romans 6:8 again. We obviously disagree. What I’m more interested in now is your ‘God is not there’ statements. I agree with Ron in #22 concerning Wittgenstein, in that the early Wittgenstein, like yourself I suppose, who denied God’s existence, could only say that down here on planet earth you’re merely shuffling a bunch of facts (paraphrasing), but in the area of man’s greatest need, his desperate need for values, meaning, and ethics, there is only silence. There is no one there to speak. Bertrand Russell called him a mystic, but Wittgenstein understood that you can’t talk about anything outside the known phenomenal world, thus only silence in those areas man knows he needs most: meaning, values, purpose, ethics.

    Moral guilt and right and wrong exist independently of believing in God.

    Moral motions maybe. Statistical averages, but no true moral guilt before an ultimate standard bearer. In fact it really boils down to this actually, and this is at the heart of every man who ever lived. It boils down to a moral matter. The right to live one’s life as one pleases, a grand monistic assumption that one is his own ultimacy. A grand delusion, I think, because you can’t live as if there is no meaning, purpose, or value to your experience.

    When you tell your wife, or kids, or significant other that “I love you”, is there any meaning in that based on your own starting presuppositions?

  25. CD-Host said,

    March 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    @Steve –

    but in the area of man’s greatest need, his desperate need for values, meaning, and ethics, there is only silence.

    There is nothing in atheism that precludes discussion of values, meaning and ethics. Atheistic philosophies have a long tradition of all 3.

    I’d argue that conservative reformed theology by holding that the world is corrupt and human action mostly meaningless is far more pessimistic about meaning than atheism. Most atheists live in a world where human action is effectual and there is real possibility for meaningful improvement of the human condition.

    As for love of course it has meaning. All people experience emotions. The glue that binds communities and individuals together isn’t meaningfully impacted by theology.

  26. CD-Host said,

    March 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    @Jeff #23

    I’m with Ron. It seems like the unifying theme of all of the writers of Scripture is belief. I would imagine not believing might get in the way of understanding their point of view?

    I didn’t even get Ron’s comment. But for your’s belief would be required to agree with their point of view. Understanding their point of view is helped by not having any expectation of agreement.

  27. Ron said,

    March 21, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I didn’t even get Ron’s comment.

    You wrote:

    1. A Christian who believes that the bible has a divine author (or co-author) who is trying to communicate a theology similar to mine you constantly have to try and reinterpret the bible in terms of your theology.

    2. Once you no longer believe it becomes much easier to take biblical authors on their own terms.

    My comment pertained to 2 yet 1 set the context.

    Regarding 1: You dismiss from the outset the very possibility that one’s theology is derived from the Bible and, therefore, the same as the Author’s.

    Regarding 2: You do “believe” something. You have at least some biases and pre-commitments, hence my comment in #22 above. In other words, since when are presuppositions necessary obstacles to interpretation let alone possible to eradicate from the process of interpretation? Should the student abandon logic in order to better understand Copi? Moreover, how does unbelief (which is nothing other than belief in something else) aid you in understanding Scripture? And how does faith hinder such an endeavor?

  28. Ron said,

    March 21, 2013 at 9:23 am

    “There is nothing in atheism that precludes discussion of values, meaning and ethics. Atheistic philosophies have a long tradition of all 3.”

    Of course nothing in atheism precludes discussion of these things. It’s quite another thing to think that meaning and ethics comport with atheism.

  29. Steve Drake said,

    March 21, 2013 at 9:23 am

    CD-Host #25,

    There is nothing in atheism that precludes discussion of values, meaning and ethics. Atheistic philosophies have a long tradition of all 3.

    Sure they do. But all they can say about them is that they came up out of the void. Evolved somehow along with man. Man then creates his own meaning, purpose, collectively or independently. But to what end? In the end, it’s utterly meaningless. One lives 80-90 years, then it’s over, and he is deluded in thinking that he had any great impact while alive during this brief span, that there was any value to his life and legacy because he’s ultimately and finally only a cog in the great impersonal machine. It’s an infinite regression of meaningless actions in a meaningless universe.

    I’d argue that conservative reformed theology by holding that the world is corrupt and human action mostly meaningless is far more pessimistic about meaning than atheism. Most atheists live in a world where human action is effectual and there is real possibility for meaningful improvement of the human condition.

    Meaningful improvement of the human condition to what end? Even if the human condition is meaningfully improved over and over and over until the final heat death of the universe, for what purpose was it? Again, and in toto, it was all for nothing. You can’t carry some Christian baggage in that we collectively and independently have purpose, meaning, ultimate significance, from an initial kick up out of the void. An impersonal universe won’t allow you to do this, and when you do, you are co-opting Judeo-Christian principles, in effect, borrowing/stealing from the Judeo-Christian system. Quit doing that. Stay within your own system.

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 21, 2013 at 10:25 am

    CD: But for your’s belief would be required to agree with their point of view. Understanding their point of view is helped by not having any expectation of agreement.

    I don’t think I agree. Generally speaking (and with exceptions, notably in religion departments), universities hire people who agree with X point of view to teach X point of view. This strongly suggests that those people are the best understanders and explainers of X point of view.

    So Peter Singer teaches utilitarian ethics, not Aristotelian.

    But in any event, you are positing a hypothetical world in which we might put aside our own expectations and evaluate from a neutral vantage point. And certainly, we strive to do this. But we must also acknowledge, must we not, that this is impossible in pure form.

    For example, in your case, wouldn’t it be better to say that you have an “expectation of disagreement” rather than “no expectation of agreement”? Perhaps I’m going too far, but it would seem that an atheist would expect to disagree with a text that he knows espouses belief.

  31. rfwhite said,

    March 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Reed: your lament strikes a chord, I suspect, with lots of us. When I think on these things, I sometimes wonder how unusual the declension we see is. What I mean is, the seven letters of Revelation reflect more than one church in serious moral jeopardy. And, of course, even the earliest NT letter (one of them anyway) portrays a church in serious doctrinal jeopardy. Those realities make me wonder what exactly we are witnessing now. Is it that “what” we’re seeing has “always” happened to the churches? Or is it that there is more widespread declension, or is it that we know more about the declension that has always been there? I tend to think that we are in a downward phase of a cyclical decline similar to what was seen in the days of the judges. God may have mercy and pull us out this downward phase. In any case, it ought to drive us to walk more circumspectly.

  32. Reed Here said,

    March 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Dr. White, add to your observations that we are speaking pretty much of the (potential) demise of the Church in North America. (By demise I do not mean extinction.)

    This presents a link between us and the Western Church (demised in Western Europe). This is not necessarily where the rest of the Church is (e.g., on the ascendancy in the Far East?).

    Yes, cyclical decline. And is this spiral too?

  33. CD-Host said,

    March 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    @Ron #27 –

    since when are presuppositions necessary obstacles to interpretation let alone possible to eradicate from the process of interpretation?

    Since always. By losing your attachment to how you would like things to be, you can see them for how they are. Becoming aware of the distinction between “what is” and “your story about what is” is one of the most important aspects of any learning. The more you can come at text free from the author’s mindset the more you can understand them. And to do that you need to free yourself from assumptions about what you would like the author to say.

    In particular for scripture the problem with faith is faith is in Christianity which is a layer which evolved from scripture and cultural influences alien to scripture. To best understand scripture you need to understand you are not the intended audience.

  34. CD-Host said,

    March 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    @Jeff #30

    Generally speaking (and with exceptions, notably in religion departments), universities hire people who agree with X point of view to teach X point of view.

    I don’t think that’s quite true. Historians teach theories and movements they don’t agree with. Experts in medieval England aren’t monarchists. People in communications, in psychology in sociology… spend more of their day teaching viewpoints they disagree with than their own subtheories. That’s why the graduate level / advanced undergraduate level courses are such a delight. Computer scientists spend much of their time teaching languages and theories they don’t agree with.

    Math, which I used to teach doesn’t have those sorts of arguments. Everyone believes everyone else’s work. But I was a strong supporter for more matrix algebra / statistics / numerical methods for high school and college while I spent the majority of my time teaching calculus.

    I think in general people who believe X bring a lot to the table in understanding X. I think people who disbelieve X bring a lot to the table. I think the best case in general are balanced critics.

    But in any event, you are positing a hypothetical world in which we might put aside our own expectations and evaluate from a neutral vantage point. And certainly, we strive to do this. But we must also acknowledge, must we not, that this is impossible in pure form.

    Yes we fail to do it perfectly. But a lower level attachment helps to do it better.

    For example, in your case, wouldn’t it be better to say that you have an “expectation of disagreement” rather than “no expectation of agreement”? Perhaps I’m going too far, but it would seem that an atheist would expect to disagree with a text that he knows espouses belief.

    No not really. If I were to take statements in the bible throw them out there 1 line per… I’d assume that those I could evaluate on “mostly agree” vs. “mostly disagree” I’d probably come in well over 80% mostly agree.

    Moreover agreement / disagreement doesn’t really matter. It does when you are struggling with the text it isn’t when the issue is fully settled. For example many biblical books picture a cosmology where stars are attached to a dome that’s a bit higher than birds fly and certainly well below where the sun and moon are. That cosmology runs throughout the biblical books from Genesis to Revelations. You don’t fret about whether you agree with the cosmology in those books you simply take it as the author’s view and move on to their main point.

  35. CD-Host said,

    March 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    @Steve #29

    Your trying to impose a Christian paradigm on atheism. Finite short lived beings can focus on fixing finite short lived problems. 50 generations is an enormous amount of time for any finite being. Things that can last that long are truly meaningfully, in a way that from a finite perspective is little different than effects that last 1000 generations or effects that last eternally. Life is the end your goals are the meaning.

    The idea that anything finite lacks purpose or meaning of significance is simply not part of atheist thought. For atheists everything is finite and meaningful. Asserting there is no meaning without infinite causes, is just that an assertion.

    But if that doesn’t satisfy you can still go up a level. You want meaning that goes beyond humans, then turn to DNA. The baby DNA in your body is 10,000 generations old. The elder DNA is a trillion generations old. The elder DNA has been through more species to create humans than you have met people in your lifetime. It has spread itself far and wide across thousands of species and is constantly trading them for new ones. You want god’s that are close to eternal, those long lived DNA come very close. You want meaning that goes up a level beyond human towards the eternal, then here is is: you are a machine built by DNA for the purpose of replicating DNA.

    You can go up another level if you want gods even greater than DNA. Gravity and Entropy the twins that built the universe, fire all processes and will destroy the universe as we know it in time. Then the purpose becomes simple:

    Gravity — draw mass towards yourself
    Entropy — disperse energy as evenly as you can

    Frankly I’m fine with human purposes and projects that last dozens of years most likely and thousands of years at best. But atheism allows for greater purpose.

  36. Ron said,

    March 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    By losing your attachment to how you would like things to be, you can see them for how they are.

    Presuppositions are not attachments to how one would like things to be. They are not ideals, in other words. They are commitments that pertain to things that are believed to be true. Ironically, your presupposition is you think you can understand Scripture best by being an unbeliever. Indeed, that is something you would like to be true. It’s your presupposition. You might even think it’s true. Nonetheless, this presupposition of yours governs your reasoning which only shows you are not neutral, my point all along.

    Becoming aware of the distinction between “what is” and “your story about what is” is one of the most important aspects of any learning. The more you can come at text free from the author’s mindset the more you can understand them. And to do that you need to free yourself from assumptions about what you would like the author to say.

    You have yet to show how faith undermines interpretation whereas unbelief doesn’t.

    In particular for scripture the problem with faith is faith is in Christianity which is a layer which evolved from scripture and cultural influences alien to scripture.

    Prove this assertion for us. Don’t just beg crucial questions.

    To best understand scripture you need to understand you are not the intended audience.

    That’s a pretty vacuous notion. I appreciate that Galatians wasn’t written to me, as do you. Now how does that determine who understands the epistle better?

  37. Ron said,

    March 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    From your blog:

    This is a blog for people interested in church discipline with a focus on the mechanics and the practical impact, not the theology. It is to serve the community of people who are subject to church discipline or recovering from it, so the discussions here view discipline from a member’s not from a pastor’s perspective. Comments from pastors, people who themselves have been involved in any capacity, have information about it, or just would like to discuss discipline are all very welcome.

    Are you under church discipline?

  38. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

    JRC: Generally speaking, universities hire people who agree with X point of view to teach X point of view.

    CD: I don’t think that’s quite true. Historians teach theories and movements they don’t agree with. Experts in medieval England aren’t monarchists.

    Hm. That wasn’t quite my point. Experts in medieval England are probably not monarchists, but they most certainly are social | political | feminist | Marxist historians, and they will teach from that point of view, and expect you the student to learn and use the social | political | feminist | Marxist toolset for their class.

    So …

    CD: If I were to take statements in the bible throw them out there 1 line per… I’d assume that those I could evaluate on “mostly agree” vs. “mostly disagree” I’d probably come in well over 80% mostly agree.

    Sure. But the Big Picture is one that you disagree with. When Peter says that “no writing of Scripture ever came about by the opinion of man…”, you’ve got all manner of objections forming in your head:

    * This wasn’t really Peter writing
    * There isn’t a unified text called “Scripture”
    * Those writings most certainly did come about by the opinion of man

    I’m not you, but I would find the disagreements to be distracting and a significant obstacle to understanding.

    Or take Acts. As I read your description of Acts as an early-to-mid 2nd century document written to try to consolidate church power, etc., it seems to me to be a vastly over-complicated theory. The actual text itself recedes from view, and the “back-story” becomes the story.

    To my mind, simply accepting verse 1 of chapter 1 as true until proven otherwise provides a better, simpler reading that accounts for the facts.

    I’ve not the energy right now for a full discussion of Acts, but I’m throwing that out there as a possible example of the ways in which unbelief impedes understanding.

  39. Reed Here said,

    March 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

    CD-Host: aside from way off-topic, your comment:

    “In particular for scripture the problem with faith is faith is in Christianity which is a layer which evolved from scripture and cultural influences alien to scripture.”

    Is perfectly consistent with the position that presupposes there is no transcendent being.

    Of course, the problem is that your understanding of faith is NOT what the Bible teaches. To be gracious, I do find that your definition of faith is often foundational to the (mis)understanding of those who fall away from a profession of faith in Christ. In the end the foundational presupposition to their faith was their own sovereign rationalism, NOT the existence of the sovereign God.

    Back to the topic at hand, I did not respond to your first comment because I found it so off focus and I could not figure out why. For some reason I had not picked up that you were a professing atheist. Now it makes sense. You’ve analyzed my original post from a belief in rationalism. Thanks for the outside look.

  40. CD-Host said,

    March 22, 2013 at 11:48 am

    @Jeff #38

    Hm. That wasn’t quite my point. Experts in medieval England are probably not monarchists, but they most certainly are social | political | feminist | Marxist historians, and they will teach from that point of view, and expect you the student to learn and use the social | political | feminist | Marxist toolset for their class.

    I’d agree with that. And that creates the sort of interesting interplay that I was talking about. Because while they may be Marxist (just to pick one from your list) and may be doing a Marxist analysis of medieval England they are fully aware that none of the cultural figures who they are reading are Marxist. They never confuse the interior analysis, i.e. what the authors they are reading believe, with the exterior analysis what they themselves believe about the authors.

    Let me just move directly to Acts from that.

    Or take Acts. As I read your description of Acts as an early-to-mid 2nd century document written to try to consolidate church power, etc., it seems to me to be a vastly over-complicated theory. The actual text itself recedes from view, and the “back-story” becomes the story.

    Well consider two possibilities:

    Luke-A is a Christian writer, a later companion of Paul’s writing a theological history.

    Luke-B is a Catholic writer, a man consolidating Christian myth to create a theological history.

    For both Luke-A and Luke-B I have to deal with Luke. Now there is a difference in that Luke-A is trustable, he may be wrong but he doesn’t aim to deceive. While in the case of Luke-B he does aim to deceive but may often leak more than he meant to.

    No question the distance between: what Luke-B is saying and what really happened is much larger than the distance between what Luke-A is saying and what really happened. And were the entire analysis of the bible as hostile as the one for Acts I’d tend to agree that a skeptical position is vastly complicating. The only reason to accept a thesis that complex for Acts is because it resolves many many other theological problems with other parts of the bible.

    Where I pick up huge ground in simplicity is in Hebrews, Jude, John, James, Revelations because you have to reconcile them with a complex Calvinistic theory and I can take them at face value in terms of their own theory. You have to have them constantly meaning things very different than what they are saying while I can have them mean what they say. I get to have AuthorHebrews-A who is essentially trustworthy while you get AuthorHebrews-B who frequently says stuff he doesn’t mean and needs to handled with great care. Your John of Patmos can’t keep a consistent meaning for his symbols mine can and the book is much more less complex.

    So I think my overall complexity in reading the bible drops considerably even while agreeing that there are specific places where I’m taking on more complexity than an orthodox read.

    I’ll hit the a middle case in the next post.

  41. CD-Host said,

    March 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    @Jeff #38 con

    Sure. But the Big Picture is one that you disagree with. When Peter says that “no writing of Scripture ever came about by the opinion of man…”, you’ve got all manner of objections forming in your head:

    * This wasn’t really Peter writing
    * There isn’t a unified text called “Scripture”
    * Those writings most certainly did come about by the opinion of man

    I’m not you, but I would find the disagreements to be distracting and a significant obstacle to understanding.

    You and I have mostly the same problem with the Petrine corpus. Gospel of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, Preaching of Peter, 1Peter, 2Peter, 3Peter, 4Peter you don’t accept Peter as the author of 5 of the 7. You have a complex problem of Peter’s life and how this corpus ended up in Rhossus and nowhere else. Why is Peter’s work only known / accepted by the late 2nd centuries by an obscure docetist church and unknown more broadly? You pick up a complex historical problem in exchange for a somewhat easier interpretive problem on those two books you do accept. Your theory of the church from Acts: John to Jesus to Peter to Paul who spreads it across the world doesn’t work well with your theory of the Petrine corpus. I agree that’s a small problem for most readers because the question of canon and the question of interpretation are generally separate for Protestants. But it comes up all the time in the hunt for context.

    I don’t have a problem with context. You have to figure out why a guy who spent years running around with a very human Jesus who eats baked fish and thus cannot be a docetist would be in this very verse going on a lengthy defense of how we know Jesus exists because the prophets testify about Jesus and the prophets are trustworthy. Why he is using this language about seeing Jesus’ majesty rather than knowing Jesus? You have to carefully avoid the big picture, when reading 2Peter. I’m not confronted with that sort of mental gymnastics.

    So I have an unknown author who is moving from some form of Jewish Christianity to Petrine Christianity. And that adds complexity. On the other hand, I think you pick up far more complexity.

    In terms of just disagreeing with him on the “the writings just came about from opinions of man” that is very analogous to the modern historian not having to be a monarchist. It doesn’t present any complexity. I have to cross more distance but I don’t have any difficulty not confusing my view of what scripture is with what the author believes.

  42. Steve Drake said,

    March 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    CD-Host #35,

    I’m sure this is not something you haven’t heard before, but the Scriptures you claim to come at from a lower level attachment and as a balanced critic, says that you already know God exists, but that you are suppressing that knowledge in unrighteousness and rebellion. It says that owing to your ethical depravity you are unwilling to recognize yourself as creature; that the whole of the world about you screams a Creator, but that you attempt to keep that down with all your might. Ultimately, you know God and recognize God in the things about you, and in your own constitution, and your attempts to “do good”, and act ‘ethically’, are witness enough to this objective revelation already within and about you. Not something you haven’t heard before, right? But this is what the Judeo-Christian Scriptures claim of your condition.

    With that as backdrop, your condition is indeed tragic. Tragic in the sense of being at a car crash where a loved one is dead, still inside the vehicle, mangled and beyond recognition. I grieve, although you may not want me to, feeling that you’d rather I not experience this sense of loss, believing it to be foolish, but I know the Savior who claims you indeed do have true moral guilt before Him, grieves far more. He offered up the ultimate sacrifice, atoning for that true moral guilt He claims you have.

    I realize you believe none of this, have said so (in so many words) repeatedly. And so I question the validity of allowing you to continue to speak as if you know the Judeo-Christian Scriptures with any certainty, and can educate us on its merits or non-merits. Assuming the foundation of the validity of human reason lies in yourself, there is nothing you can offer of a spiritual nature on our Judeo-Christian Scriptures that would enlighten us. How can you? Your mind is darkened in understanding, steeped in futility, hard of heart, and callous in its ignorance. I’m not trying to be harsh here, but again, this is what the Judeo-Christian Scripuures claim of your condition.

    The tragic conclusion so far, is that you’ve been confronted with the gospel, yet have willfully rejected it.

  43. CD-Host said,

    March 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    @Steve #42 –

    You are going to have to learn to wait longer before the “I’m curious posts” and the condemning posts if you are looking for impact.

    In the meanwhile read your own post back and start substituting in Hindu words. If I were to tell you were trapping yourself into your next transmigration being a degradation by failing to follow truth and reality my guess is you wouldn’t care much. At best you are indifferent at worst you would consider it rude.

    ___

    @Ron #37 –

    No. I drifted away slowly over years. Once my wall of faith had big holes in it, but long before it collapsed I was actively cutting ties. I kept to big churches and within them avoid regularly attending small groups. I hadn’t been a member on the roll for years. There was no drama, no mess, no fuss. Someone who no one really knew anyone just drifted out. You could say I excommunicated myself long before I quit going all together.

    Mostly I didn’t go to churches which practiced any sort of formal church discipline. Once you move out of niche churches, church is a buyers market. Ministers can’t successfully discipline their parishioners anymore than AppleBees could discipline their customers.

    I at two different points attend churches with varieties of public confession. That’s an incredibly moving experience. There was discipline in one of them.

    Arguably much earlier in the process of my falling away I had the ties so that church discipline could have been possible and looking back on it might have helped. My faith fell apart slowly not rapidly. And when the cracks first appeared ….

  44. Steve Drake said,

    March 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    CD-Host,
    You’re trapped. I understand. The truth is offensive. But you’re going to have to come to grips with what the Scriptures say about your condition. You write as if your knowledge and interpretation of them should be ours, as if your nom de plume, Church-Discipline Host, has significance and bearing in what you post here.

    We, on the other hand, must recognize that your adopted monistic assumption disqualifies you to act as judge. Your unregenerate reason, Scripture claims over and over again, is unqualified to put God’s Word in the dock. It’s really that simple.

  45. Bob S said,

    March 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

    45 FWIW Ted Bigelow/Reformed Elder (??) took CD’s measure here on GB awhile ago and left his hermeneutic/epistemology in tatters. He left for awhile, but obviously, he’s back again.

  46. CD-Host said,

    March 23, 2013 at 6:07 am

    45 FWIW Ted Bigelow/Reformed Elder (??) took CD’s measure here on GB awhile ago and left his hermeneutic/epistemology in tatters.

    I like Ted he’s a good guy. But no, that’s not what happened at all. First of all the threads weren’t entirely here they were on Old Life as well. What happened was Ted was arguing that traditional Reformed theology was consistent with the entirety of scripture. Ted is a big fan of Revelations, and used it for doctrine in his arguments with Catholics. I consider that 1st century so we went there and started unpacking the symbols.

    He didn’t like where that went. Read the symbols in a consistent way and Revelations preaches docetic subordinationism not the orthodox Trinity. Jesus isn’t the messiah, there is no hypostatic union, Jesus is not born of a virgin…

    Well he suddenly didn’t like the theology of Revelations so much and wanted to talk about Stephen’s speech in Acts. His argument was that John couldn’t possibly believe what he was saying because by the time of authoring of Revelations, where he might have a later date than I do, Acts had already finished. I’m perfectly happy to grant that the Stephen character is Acts, a mid 2nd century book, is going to be much more orthodox than earlier writers. I’m not sure how that’s leaving me in tatters. It is precisely what I would expect and what I always say. Acts is primitive Catholicism.

    To leave me in tatters you have to actually win the point.

    ___

    The other area we discussed was the Van Til apologetic. It gave me a chance to clarify my thinking on epistemology, but that didn’t go very far either. He couldn’t make the negative case against the materialist epistemology which is the crucial first step in making the positive case for the Reformed epistemology.

  47. CD-Host said,

    March 23, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Steve @44

    We, on the other hand, must recognize that your adopted monistic assumption disqualifies you to act as judge. Your unregenerate reason, Scripture claims over and over again, is unqualified to put God’s Word in the dock. It’s really that simple.

    That’s Calvin not scripture. Scripture does not give license to the doctrine that anyone who disagrees with Steve Drake must be wrong by definition. Scripture, at various places makes broad claims about being consistent with reality, that the God of scripture is the god of this world. Scripture claims to conform to the world not be an alien doctrine from an alien God. Moreover scripture makes claims that God is good and righteous. That is the morality of the God of scripture is the morality of man not some alien morality that they cannot know.

    Calvin likes to have it both ways in a morass of contradictions. The morality is knowable by all men, but not really knowable or followable without a complete overpowering of the will. God is interested in moral behavior but it has no effect on his behavior. The world is fully in accord with God’s teachings but sinners are so wicked that they have a consistent experience of a world as if it were fully out of accord with God’s teachings and thus the truth of God cannot stand in a neutral form.

    You like to take this even further. As per our discussion of 7 day creation. Anyone who disagree with you on 7 day creation is rejecting scripture thus can’t know the truth of scripture and the truth of the world. Hence, your point is proven by definition. Must be nice to live in a world where your statements are tautological certainty.

    Most Protestants don’t buy into that. If there is going to be some individual whose word is tautological truth, Pope Francis I has far better claim than Steve Drake. And Francis is going to restrict himself to those sorts of claims slightly more than once a century and only after consultation with many different minds and diverse opinion. I don’t believe it true of Francis, I no offense, certainly don’t believe it true of you.

    In the end if scripture wishes to make claim to being anything more than the secret teachings of an alien God the perforce it needs to be in the dock of the unregenerate. The kinds of things I’m hitting Jeff with on 2Peter and before that Brandon on Hebrews are either true of false on their own. I have nothing to do with it.

  48. Steve Drake said,

    March 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

    CD-Host #47,

    That’s Calvin not scripture.

    And since Calvin is considered the father of Reformed Theology, to which the Westminster Confession of Faith gives assent, to which the PCA arose within, to which the author of this blog is a pastor of, to which most of us find our allegiance in, your point is?

    In the end if scripture wishes to make claim to being anything more than the secret teachings of an alien God the perforce it needs to be in the dock of the unregenerate.

    Still working with that grand monistic assumption I see. Christ is asserting that you bow and kneel. That you recognize your true moral guilt before Him, recognize His sacrifice for you personally on the cross, recognize that He is Lord. That you won’t do this, delegitimizes anything you say about Him or His Word. How can you? You don’t believe He even exists. You’re still in rebellion. Caught between rationalism and irrationalism, you know God exists, but seek to deny that with every ounce of your being. Steadfastly adhering to blind meaningless chance that kicked you up out of the void, with blind faith adherence that you have meaning and purpose to your existence where none exists, you deny the Creator that would give you any hope.

    This doesn’t have to be the end for you though. You know the action you must take. “…for unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

  49. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    CD, I think I’ll leave it at this: The problems that trouble you are not problems that trouble me. Not because I’m unwilling to ask the questions, but because there are so many degrees of freedom that I don’t draw the “must have” kinds of conclusions you do.

    Just to take two examples: The Petrine corpus has been discovered only in one docetist church in Rhossus. You conclude that “Peter” was a docetist.

    I conclude that our manuscript record is nothing like complete. If “2 Peter” were truly so obscure, it would not have been picked up in the 2nd century as a part of Scripture (the Sahidic (copt) text).

    To me, that’s a wash at best, with advantage “genuine.”

    Another example: Peter is held to have dependence on Jude. This is a representative argument (not yours, but Kummel’s):

    1. The literary dependence on Jude rules this [early Petrine authorship] out. II Pet 1 and 3 already have a number of contacts with Jude: cf. II Pet 1:5 with Jude 3; II Pet 1:12 with Jude 5; II Pet 3:2 f with Jude 17 f; II Pet 3:14 with Jude 24; II Pet 3:18 with Jude 25. The most striking agreements with Jude are shown in the portrayal of the false teachers in II Pet 2 and also in the illustrations based on the OT and the pictures drawn from nature, agreements in the exact wording and extensive agreements in sequence. The false teachers deny the Lord Christ and lead a dissolute life (II Pet 2:1 f = Jude 4), they despise and blaspheme the good angelic powers (II Pet 2:10 f = Jude 8 f), they speak in high-handed fashion (uperogka; II Pet 2:18 = Jude 16), they are blotches on the communal meal (spigoi suneuwcwmenoi; II Pet 2:13 = Jude 12), they are clouds tossed about by the wind, devoid of water, for whom the gloom of darkness is reserved (II Pet 2:17 = Jude 12 f), they are denounced for their fleshly corruption and their unrestrained mode of life (II Pet 2:10, 12 ff, 18 = Jude 7 f, 10, 12, 16). The sequence of examples of punishment from the OT in Jude 5 ff (Israel in the desert, fallen angels, Sodom and Gomorrah) is arranged in historical order in II Pet 2:4 ff and modified (fallen angels, Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah) because the author of II Pet needs the example of the Flood to combat the deniers of the parousia. The general statement in II Pet 2:11 makes sense only if note has been made of the concrete example mentioned in Jude 9. The image in Jude 12 f is more genuine and more plastic than the parallel in II Pet 2:17.

    This material shows, therefore, that it is II Pet which is the dependent factor. It is further to be observed that the quotation from a noncanonical writing (Jude 14 f = the Apocalypse of Enoch 1:9; 60:8) is lacking in II Pet, and that by omitting certain essential features the allusions to the apocryphal writings have been somewhat obscured in Jude 6 (fallen angels) and 9 (the struggle between the archangel Michael and the Devil). From this it may be concluded that II Pet is already reluctant to use this literature whereas Jude has a naive attitude toward it.

    — Kummel, Introduction the the NT, 430-434, cited here.

    This is certainly possible, but it presupposes a textual world, one in which person A sits down and reads the now-hallowed texts of B, C, D, … and then repeats, glosses, responds to them (thus here).

    But that was not this world. The apostles knew one another, talked with one another, at least until the diaspora and probably until the death of James in the 60s.

    And what I have found is that with people I know, and even people that know people I know, various “memes” tend to pop up and recur. Who hasn’t heard the phrases “prayer warrior” or “profession of faith”, even though the wording isn’t from the Scripture?

    It seems just as likely that Peter and Jude have similarities because Peter and Jude had conversations, perhaps even about the matters in the epistles. Or that Jude sent out a letter and it came to one of Peter’s churches. Or vice-versa. Or …

    I’m not advocating any of those particular hypotheses because I don’t have specific knowledge to rule out the others.

    But that’s the point: None of us really does.

    My own area is in the textual problems concerning 2 Cor. And what I found in my research is that textual critics tend to pull the trigger quickly on evidence that “shows” that X could not be the case. But the controls on these methods tend to be lacking.

    That doesn’t mean, from an objective point of view, that I *know* that you are wrong to dismiss 2 Peter. It just means that I’m not impressed with the problematic nature of many of the problems.

  50. Bob S said,

    March 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    46 The other area we discussed was the Van Til apologetic. . .

    This is what I was alluding to as you well ought to know, CD.
    The whole NotFalsifiableEasilyVerifyable or whatever schtick, your misleading preface to the above comment aside.

    IOW here at GB in the combox, we reap the benefit(?) of the sporadic appearances by the insufferably pedantic and token representatives for what? three ontologies now: Bryan Cross/Romanism, Perry Robinson/E.Orthodoxy and now guess who for
    gnostic rationalism.

    Mind you, I am not complaining, just saying we ought to call it what it is.

    cheers,

  51. Daniel S said,

    March 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Bob S, this is completely off topic and really has nothing to do with anything but when I read your posts I read them as if you spoke with the voice of Tony Bruno – some sports talk show host in the Philly area. Just saying, I thought you’d like to know. On top of that I also enjoy your writing style and inadvertant/advertant? humor. If it makes you feel any better I read Bryan Cross as if he speaks like Dwight Schrute.

  52. CD-Host said,

    March 23, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    @Jeff #49 –

    This is a slight change in topic. The point about the origin of the Petrine corpus in my post is that it doesn’t create additional interpretative difficulties. I didn’t present a full argument at all for why I don’t believe it is authentic. I was more focused on the two key problems in the orthodox view whe discovery / timeline doesn’t make sense for the Orthodox view. How is the Peter of 2Peter familiar with the post Marcionic church’s bible? That’s an interpretative difficulty.

    A question like Why the style of Greek in 1Peter is so different than in 2Peter? is more of an independent argument for them not sharing an author. Certainly an independent argument for Peter not being authentic would include things like the Kummel point. Literary dependence on Jude is a problem for more liberal theories. But, you are right that dependence is fully consistent with an orthodox view of Jude and Peter knowing each other and working together.

    The Petrine corpus has been discovered only in one docetist church in Rhossus. You conclude that “Peter” was a docetist.

    I didn’t quite say that. It is evidence for it being a docetic work and evidence against it being authentic to an orthodox Peter.

    If “2 Peter” were truly so obscure, it would not have been picked up in the 2nd century as a part of Scripture (the Sahidic (copt) text).

    The nice thing about 2Peter is we don’t have to guess the how. We have the history. AFAICT everyone agrees on the story both Catholic and “heretic”. Bishop Serapion (Antioch) has a congregation in Rhossus which is using the Gospel of Peter. Other churches in the area believe Gospel of Peter is Marcionic and complain. Serapion contacts a Rhossus Docetic church to get a timeline, believing they predate Marcion. Evidently the Catholics and the docetic church are on friendly terms even though Serapion is not docetic. He gets from the the entire Petrine corpus and kicks it up the chain of command.

    If you don’t mind I’ll have this post do double duty for the CTC crowd at this point:

    a) Let me just point out that is precisely the sort of behavior that one would expect to see in a hierarchy. Regional officer faces a problem collects information, issues a personal opinion and kicks things up the chain for a more official opinion. This is the kind of behavior we don’t see a century earlier. This is the problem with the belief in the idea that the hierarchy existed from Peter’s time

    b) You’ll note that Serapion at the end of the 2nd century acknowledges the order of churches as: docetic -> Marcionite -> Catholic. His writing is ambiguous but seems to consider the docetics to be Jews. There is no claim his church got there first and the others originated from Catholics. He’s a remarkably good early witness who agrees with my chain of events and disagrees with yours. And as mentioned he is a Bishop.

    Now back to the main argument. Both Jerome and Origin agree with this chain of events for Peter. To the best of my knowledge it is undisputed. It was that obscure and it was picked up. Eusebius thinks it a fake and records a good chunk of this history to argue it is fake. Serapion grouped it with the Gospel of Peter which was his focus. You can’t make the argument this wouldn’t have happened this way because in the case of 1Peter and 2Peter we know at least some of the details and it did happen that way.

    And what I found in my research is that textual critics tend to pull the trigger quickly on evidence that “shows” that X could not be the case. But the controls on these methods tend to be lacking.

    I agree with you. I think the textual critics are far too fast in their hypothesis. While I consider textual criticism to be a piece of evidence I’d only use it as an assist.

  53. Bob S said,

    March 26, 2013 at 1:00 am

    51 Well, off topic is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, Daniel.

    There’s no doubt that there is abuse and people ride their hobbyhorses way over the speed limit. (Is that you CD, in the corner with dismay and consternation written all over your face?)

    That said, polemical theology is a legitimate subset of the genre and disputatio used to be an integral part of a classic education contra the kinder gentler educationism that reigns today.

    Still, if Augustine said the ridiculous deserves ridicule (Prov. 25:4), we does our part.

    Psalms 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

    FTM there are enough intelligent and literate commentators that come and go around here, that we can fall through the cracks if necessary.

    I don’t see any reason though to fulfill the expectation of every babbler who think their audience is a fool for being protestant. True, they generally like to return the compliment with as much spleen and incensed outrage as they think they can get away with, but I am fine with that.

    Only been through Philly on the fast dog years ago so not up on the media personalities, as well that I incline more to the pro athletes are overpaid bums and movies/TV are vain and idol amusements way of thinking, but I get your drift. An edicated guess with a little internet cheating tells me that Bruno is probably a lot closer to Mike Royko than Schrute who comes off as the ultimate dweeb. IOW plain speaking is good.

    And the pope speaking is bad.

    cheers.

  54. Ron said,

    April 2, 2013 at 7:40 am

    With respect to the church I think we may properly speak in terms of cyclical decline and spiraling downward. Those providences are in some sense observable. I think the question of whether God is judging the church is a bit trickier. Unless we know whether a particular behavior must be a result of judgment, or actually is a form judgment, I don’t see how we may rightly infer whether God is judging the church in providence or whether he’s doing something else. (Andrew said something about homosexual behavior. At the very least, the notion of God judging as opposed to merely shaping, pruning and completing a good work in the church I would think depends upon God’s hidden, subjective motive and not what he discloses in objective providence. I don’t see this question as that different from the questions that surrounded the 9-11 attacks and God’s intention for America.

  55. Ron said,

    April 2, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I didn’t complete my “Andrew” thought in the previous post…

    With respect to the church I think we may properly speak in terms of cyclical decline and spiraling downward. Those providences are in some sense observable. I think the question of whether God is judging the church is a bit trickier. Unless we know whether a particular behavior must be a result of judgment, or actually is a form judgment, I don’t see how we may rightly infer whether God is judging the church in providence or whether he’s doing something else. (Andrew said something about homosexual behavior. I think that touches upon behavior that may be indexed to a particular divine motive.)

    At the very least, the notion of God judging as opposed to merely shaping, pruning and completing a good work in the church I would think depends upon God’s hidden, subjective motive and not what he discloses in objective providence. I don’t see this question as that different from the questions that surrounded the 9-11 attacks and God’s intention for America.


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