Sunday, January 9, 2011

False False Teacher Teachings?


Wolf
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
What is the difference between a "false teacher" and just "some dude I disagree with?" As many who read here know, some of our friends out there whip out the "false teacher" charge like a cheap gunslinger whips out his six shooter, with similarly dangerous results.

We all know some of the bloggers who engage in the whole "false teacher" gunslinging abuse, and I'm sure we all know some beyond the "regulars."

I recently met a new gunslinger and he had this to say (going from memory, as he decided to delete the record of our discussion so as not to "pollute" his blog with my "false teaching")...

I agree with you that we don't have perfect knowledge, nor are we required to know everything perfectly in order to be saved...

So far, so good...

But, I'm NOT wrong on this point. I CAN NOT be wrong because I'm just telling you what God has said in the Bible.

Wow. So, he "knows" he CAN'T be mistaken on some point (gay marriage, in this case, natch) and he "knows" that I am a false teacher because I disagree with him on that point.

And when I suggested that this might be a bit on the arrogant and presumptive side ("I CAN NOT BE WRONG") for someone who agrees he's a fallible human, he starts deleting things in a snit.

Which got me to thinking about the whole "false teacher" rigamarole. Do these gunslingers really understand what the bible has to say about false teachers? What DOES the Bible have to say about them? What is the difference between a false teacher and some dude that just disagrees with me? Do the gunslingers have any objective measure for this or is it entirely whimsical and subjective, as it seems to be to me?

These are the questions I have tried asking here lately, with no good results. So I'm asking here.

(As to this latest gunslinger, I'll leave him anonymous, along with the other slingers - my point is not to point out how awful or stupid any one person is, I'm wanting to talk about the IDEAS they represent, not the people promoting them - although I actually would hope that maybe some of them might make their way here and see fit to comment)

So, how about it? What objective measure IS there for the charge of "false teacher" for those who regularly use it? I've seen them occasionally disagree with one of their comrades without resorting to calling THEM false teachers, so obviously, it's not simply a matter of "those who disagree with me are false teachers." But, what, then?

A false teacher is recognizable because... what?

And should any one respond to this question, I hope it's not simply them saying, "One who disagrees with God's teachings is a false teacher," because that is entirely subjective. When they say that (and that's what they usually say) what they are ACTUALLY saying is "One who disagrees with MY UNDERSTANDING of God's teachings is a false teacher," and when you point that out, they seem to drop back to "No, not MY UNDERSTANDING, but God's actual teaching, and I KNOW the right way to take that teaching because it is 'obvious...'"

And when you ask, "Obvious to WHO?" well, then they get in a snit, call you a false teacher and delete your comments.

But I would hope that some of these fellas and gals (usually fellas, but there's some gals, too) would give it some thought and offer a response.

124 comments:

John said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post, Dan.

When I was a Christian, I noticed how some people used the language of pastoral care or spiritual guidance to manipulate and abuse others. For some, the language of the Bible or Christian teaching is just a weapon to use in interpersonal conflict. Or worse, as you point, in mere debate.

It's a despicable practice.

Marshall Art said...

I wonder if you can set it up any more in your favor?

It has always been your tactic to inject ambiguity into any discussion of Scripture and what the words mean. You resort to this accusation of an opponent having merely "a hunch" rather than a clear understanding of the plain language of the text. No matter what the issue, you present a diversionary argument, be it the "fallible human" angle, the "context of the times" gambit, the "my understanding" ploy and other and various games that allow you to continue to believe as you want and prefer, regardless of the strength of the opponent's argument. More often than not, you've done this with the thinnest of evidence/arguments to support your case, all the while demanding far more conclusive evidence/arguments from your opponents.

But you mentioned disagreements between "comrades". I can say that in one discussion between myself and one who I suspect may have played a role in provoking this post, our "disagreement" (it's really just me trying to understand how it arrived at his position) is not on a matter of clearly worded issues. It's not a matter of some "Thou shalt not.." into which one of us is trying to force a loophole so as to justify ignoring the command.

All to often, we are asked to "agree to disagree" when the arguments against you become in the least bit overwhelming. Whenever the going gets tough, the text becomes mysterious and a matter of personal interpretation. Thus, a response is virtually impossible.

Indeed, there's nothing "cheap" about the false teacher charge. What's cheap are the various dodges that dismiss any argument that would overturn or overrule your position on an issue. I don't see how it would be any different should a response be given. I'll be interested to see if anyone gives it a try.

Dan Trabue said...

Thank you, John. I agree, despicable and destructive.

Marshall, do you have an answer to the question or just more ad homs?

HOW DO YOU DECIDE IF SOMEONE IS A "FALSE TEACHER?" Do you have any biblical, logical, objective reason or is it all based on feelings and hunches?

If it's not a matter of hunches, then give up your reasoning, please. I'd really like to know.

And if you'd like, do me a favor and let some of your buds know I'm wondering about their opinions, too.

Dan Trabue said...

For the record, Marshall, this post isn't really addressed to you. For all our disagreements, I don't think you've ever resorted to calling any of us "false teachers."

Although, if you DO have an answer to the actual question asked (as opposed to ad hom attacks), I'd like to hear it.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

St. Paul is pretty clear, writing about "testing the Spirits", which I have always read in tandem with Jesus' admonition "by their fruits you shall know them". In other words, while it is certainly important that one have a certain amount of clarity concerning Scriptural and theological ideas in their contexts, it is in their loving, lived practice that they are known. As St. Paul says, one can have all knowledge and faith, but without love, it is meaningless. This isn't the emotion "love", but the practice of living for others.

To me, a false teacher isn't someone who insists the Trinity is meaningless or the incarnation is silly. A false teacher is someone who does not live as if Jesus has quite literally changed everything - everything in his or her life; everything in our collective lives; everything about how we see nature and society. That is a false teacher.

In all honesty, while I have run across several, including some we all know, who probably have difficulty with the whole "Trinity" thing, or wouldn't know what "hypostatic union" means, I can only think of one who I would call a "false teacher", and really not in some absolute sense. Calling someone "false teacher" because that person is prejudiced in one way or another really doesn't cut it for me. After all, we all are in some way, and I refuse to get too uppity about those kinds of judgment calls.

Dan Trabue said...

Agreed. I think this is one of the defining differences between more progressive Christians and more fundamentalist Christians: The ease and frequency (not to mention vehemency) with which the latter would use the label.

Alan said...

There is, obviously, no objective standard. I am extremely hesitant to label anyone a false teacher unless they are clearly adhering to a traditionally recognized particular heresy (Pelagianism being one of the most common fundie heresies.)

But common disagreement is not false teaching as I strongly believe in the doctrine of Total Depravity. I hold my own views skeptically and at arm's length because I know that I may be wrong. However, when someone clearly cannot admit that they may be wrong, that's one of the fruits that Geoffrey talks about that they're probably a false teacher. That sort of pride was the very first sin and is easily recognizable.

But most of the time when it comes to the false teacher charge, I honestly couldn't care less. Why would I care whether some random stranger on the internet thinks I'm a false teacher? Why would some random stranger on the internet care if I think they're a false teacher? I'd rather simply ignore the person than get into a stupid 3rd grade "I know you are but what am I?" debate about who is a false-ier teacher.

Scripturally, is clear that when Paul makes these charges he either has some sort of important relationship with the person involved, or with the community of faith involved. He isn't issuing random, anonymous, drive-by trolling charges of false teaching against strangers in situations he knows nothing about in communities he has no relationship with. In other words, he's not a busybody, fusspot, tattletale, and scold. He actually knows what he's talking about. That's pretty rare on the interwebs.

Marshall Art said...

"In other words, he's not a busybody, fusspot, tattletale, and scold. He actually knows what he's talking about. That's pretty rare on the interwebs."

Speaking of ad homs...Of which group do you consider yourself, Alan? That you are one who knows what you're talking about, or amongst the many who make such people rare?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You can write me off with your ad hom charge if you like, but my points are valid and relevant. But my definition is straight forward: a false teacher is one who preaches or supports ideas, beliefs or philosophies that are in conflict with Scripture, that has no basis in Scripture, but presents them as if they are sound and true.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

my definition is straight forward: a false teacher is one who preaches or supports ideas, beliefs or philosophies that are in conflict with Scripture

And who gets to decide that? I don't think that I am teaching ANYTHING that is in conflict of Scripture. I think YOU obviously are, at times, doing just that.

Does that make you a false teacher, since, by your definition, you are teaching what someone considers to be in conflict with Scripture?

Dan Trabue said...

Or, are you just some guy I disagree with on some points?

Perhaps I'd better clarify my point:

Where is the line?

Where is the line that you draw between just some dude that disagrees with you on some point and a false teacher?

Craig said...

For me one criteria is that the person be in a role where their teaching is invested with some authority. So while I would suggest that T.D. Jakes, Harold Camping, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar etc. could reasonable be referred to as "false teachers", while some guy with a blog would probably not.

I would also suggest that scripture sets a standard for those who are in positions of teaching, and they they will be judged according to that standard.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Craig.

When you say...

I would also suggest that scripture sets a standard for those who are in positions of teaching

What do you think that standard is?

Craig said...

This doesn't totally answer your question, but consider it a down payment.

James 3:1 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Some thoughts on False Teachers.

2 Peter 2: 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[e] 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer,[f] who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[g] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Craig said...

Since the term teaching elder is one that is used I would think this gets there as well.

Titus 1:6


6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

I'm pretty sure that there is something more specific, but this is a start.

Ultimately it comes down to (for me) shepherding the people of God.

Craig said...

Sorry for multiple comments.

One thread that runs through the biblical references to false teachers is that there are True teachings and there are False teachings. Seems simple, but it seems like we have trouble even agreeing on something that basic.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm unsure of your point, Craig. Yes, there are True Teachings and false teachings.

What is your point? Who's disagreeing on that notion?

Craig said...

I've encountered folks both in person and online who seem pretty adamant about pretty much everything being up for grabs where Truth is concerned.

Marshall Art said...

"And who gets to decide that? I don't think that I am teaching ANYTHING that is in conflict of Scripture. I think YOU obviously are, at times, doing just that.

Does that make you a false teacher, since, by your definition, you are teaching what someone considers to be in conflict with Scripture?"


Well this is just the kind of thing my original comment suggested would happen within this discussion, and it didn't take very long. I've pointed out a few things that you've said that were clearly not supported by the text. Things where you've suggested that which the text does not. (Bubba has done so as well and much better than I have.)

One such is your stance on homosexuality. You don't use the Scripture to support your position, you support it by what the text does NOT say. OR, you inject something not stated or suggested in any way, making grand assumptions that not even your arguments support. I will refer to Lev 18:22 again as a prime example. You like to say that because of verse 3, there is some opening for the behavior for those in committed, monogamous relationships; that verse 3 refers to pagan rituals or shrine prostitutes or some such. But there is no reference to anything remotely connected to the context in which the behavior takes place. Verse 22 only speaks of the behavior itself and nothing more. Furthermore, the implication of your argument suggests that you don't believe that there could have been just the type of relationships you support that would have been included in the prohibition of verse 22. Thus, your position regarding verse 22 is clearly false teaching. Unless there is Scriptural support for your contention, your "hunch", you are perverting the intent of the text, willfully or not. (BTW, intent does not matter with false teaching. False is false whether you know it to be or not, thus, so is the teaching that stems from it.)

In my case, regarding verse 22, I read it as it is: a prohibition against a specific behavior. And since context in which the behavior might take place is not mentioned (and verse 3 does not do this), there is no justification for believing that committed, monogamous homosexual relationships are given a pass. This is not a "hunch". This is an honest and objective acceptance of the fact that the text itself is clear and complete and emphatic in its prohibition against homosexual behavior in any form or context. If this blatantly honest truth is to categorized as "a hunch", then there is, a Glenn suggested, nothing solid anywhere in Scripture. It is none of it more of value than Greek mythology.

Regarding whether or not I'VE strayed from Scripture's teaching, you have yet to prove your case. All you could really say is that I don't agree with what you'd like to believe it says.

As to that, there's a difference between disagreeing as in the manner Stan and I are (again, not really a disagreement so much as my seeking understanding of a concept with which I am unfamiliar) currently engaged, and stating Scripture says something it clearly doesn't as in the example above regarding Lev 18:22.

Here's another example: Neil often refers to a UCC dude by one of his most blatant falsehoods, that of the suggestion that there is another way to the Father aside from Christ. This is absolutely false teaching and there are tons of specific verses, many are quotes of Jesus Himself, that say that Jesus is the only Way. Such makes that dude, I believe his name is Curry, a false teacher.

Craig said...

Dan,

Would I be correctly summarizing your position on Truth with the following?

Truth exists, but in our fallible humanity we don't necessarily comprehend it.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, roughly.

I think that we are fallible human beings and, as such, don't always get everything right.

God's ways are perfectly right and good, but we are entirely capable of NOT understanding God's ways perfectly right.

God's ways are inerrant. Our understanding of God's ways are NOT inerrant.

Do you disagree with that?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, would you refrain from ad hom attacks and just address the topic at hand? I'm just ignoring the unrelated stuff, so it does you no great good to write it.

The questions remain unanswered:

What is the difference, to you, between a false teacher and just some dude you disagree with?

What objective, rational and biblical measure do you have for discerning a false teacher?

Or are you freely admitting that you have subjective and perhaps even whimsical bases (and certainly nothing biblical) for guessing someone is a false teacher?

As long as you ignore the actual question and choose instead to drop to ad hom diversions, I'm more inclined to suppose the latter.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

this is just the kind of thing my original comment suggested would happen within this discussion, and it didn't take very long.

This has not been a discussion, thus far, Marshall, insofar as anything you've written. This has been me asking some questions and you ignoring the question and engaging instead in ad hom attacks.

That is not a discussion.

Anytime you'd like to join the discussion, you're welcome to do so.

Craig: do YOU have any other thoughts on the question of the post? Your first comment was not a bad consideration: That false teachers must be someone in authority, not just some random person speaking ideas out of their head.

Most of the other stuff, I'm less sure how it relates. Perhaps you're still getting around to it.

Let me know.

Craig said...

Dan,

As I did a cursory check I was struck by the fact that both the OT and NT expect for those who teach, to teach the Truth. In fact there are some unpleasant things in store for those who don't teach the Truth. Paul, seemed very confident that he was teaching the Truth, and that he had communicated the Truth to (among others) Timothy and expected him to teach the Truth as well. Given that, It seems as though the authors (who I presume to be speaking for God) seem to be saying that the Truth can be known and taught. So, it would seem to follow, that in order to teach and speak the truth one must know the truth.

I'm not suggesting that we can know all Truth, or that we can not make mistakes. I am suggesting that there is a Truth that we are able/expected to know. I am further suggesting that those who teach the opposite of this Truth will be held accountable to a higher standard.

Dan Trabue said...

I agree completely that those who teach, should teach truths and Truth. No disagreement there.

But, as I think you note, that we are expected to teach Truth does not indicate that we WILL always know Truth.

Can you agree with that?

And to repeat the question:

God's ways are inerrant. Our understanding of God's ways are NOT inerrant.

Can you agree with that?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I am suggesting that there is a Truth that we are able/expected to know.

Able to know? Expected to know? Sure, perhaps.

Able to know perfectly? Expected to know perfectly?

No.

Agreed?

Craig said...

Dan,

I haven't had time to do much more, but I think what I have posted certainly makes my contention a reasonable conclusion. If I have time to re visit this I'll post it. If not I'll stick by my comment.

Are you suggesting that Paul's admonishment to those who would teach doesn't suggest that authority doesn't play a role?

James 3:1 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

It seems that one of the conditions for being a false teacher is the one is in a position of teaching.

Craig said...

Dan,

I'm not sure that perfection is the standard. But imperfect Truth seems an oxymoron to me.

"Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”

Seems pretty clear to me.

It seems to me that there is some central core of Truth that we are expected to know and share. You can argue what that core is, but I don't think you can argue that it doesn't exist. Maybe we don't get the Truth "perfectly" but we certainly get it enough for salvation.

It seems as though you are defining Truth, by what we (you) are able to understand.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I am suggesting that there is a Truth that we are able/expected to know.

Able to know? Expected to know? Sure, perhaps.

Able to know perfectly? Expected to know perfectly?

No.

Agreed?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

It seems as though you are defining Truth, by what we (you) are able to understand.

No. I have not said that. What I said was that Truth is Truth. God's Truth is perfect.

I've said that OUR UNDERSTANDING is not perfect.

Do you agree or disagree with what I've actually said?

Craig said...

I guess I can't quite agree with what you've actually said.

I would suggest that our ability to understand Truth is sufficient. I would suggest that although we may not understand every aspect of Truth perfectly, there are aspects that we can understand exactly as God wants us to.

You still haven't explained how Christ can say "Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” and make it comparable with your opinion. You also can't harmonize your opinion with Paul who clearly states that he is preaching the Truth.

I've explained my position several times, and you seem to be saying that I must agree with your formulation. Sorry, if I'm missing something or not explaining myself well enough.

Dan Trabue said...

No, you don't have to agree with my hunch. I just find it rather odd that you can't agree with the notion that our understanding is not perfect.

You see, it seems as if you are saying you disagree with "Our understanding is not perfect," that you think, "our understanding is perfect."

Is that your position? That our understanding IS perfect?

That is what is rather unbelievable to me, that someone thinks our understanding is perfect.

Sufficient? Sure, I can agree with that. But that is not what I said. PERFECT.

Craig has PERFECT understanding?

You're a much more God-dy man than I am, brother, if so.

Dan Trabue said...

Also, I'm still wondering about your position on my post's questions.

"What is the difference between a false teacher and just some dude I disagree with?"

What objective measure do you think exists for false teachers? Where do you find that in the Bible?

Those questions.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

You still haven't explained how Christ can say "Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” and make it comparable with your opinion.

Umm, I think I can quite easily. Jesus said we will know the Truth and the Truth will set us free. And what IS this Truth that Jesus speaks of? A little context...

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

IF we hold to Jesus' teachings (that is, the things Jesus actually taught) we can know the Truth.

Does that suggest that we will know all things perfectly? No. Does that suggest we will have perfect understanding? No.

Craig...

You also can't harmonize your opinion with Paul who clearly states that he is preaching the Truth.

Paul tells us that we WON'T have perfect understanding. "Now we see as through a glass, darkly..."

Do you think Paul was teaching we'd have PERFECT understanding?

Craig said...

Dan,

Since I have never said we will have a "perfect" understanding, I'm having a hard time with you obsession.

I am content to focus on the fact that God is capable of communicating His Truth in a manner that we are able to understand. If you are content to focus on our ability or desire to understand, so be it.

I am confident that we CAN understand what God is communicating, but that we often CHOOSE not to.

You on the other hand seem to be saying that it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to understand. Or to put it another way, that God is UNABLE to communicate with us in a way that we can understand.

Your 1 Cor 13 reference doesn't address the point here. Had I said that we could know ALL truth, it would, but I never said that. If you expand your search, you will find Paul confident that he is preaching the Truth and exhorting others to do so as well.

"Does that suggest that we will know all things perfectly? No. Does that suggest we will have perfect understanding? No."

Well, it "suggests" that we will know the Truth. I'm willing to take Jesus statement at face value. If you want to put a bunch of modifiers on it go ahead.

Again, If you keep insisting that I have said what I have not said, it really renders much of this frustrating.

As far as the "main point" of your post.

I'll summarize.

1. A "false teacher" seems to be defined as someone who has been given some kind of authority to teach.

2. They continue to teach that which is false.

3. They the distort that which is true

4. They will come from within the Church.

5. Some will do it for personal gain.

6. They will be judged more harshly.

Maybe repeating the list in this format will make it easier for you.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Since I have never said we will have a "perfect" understanding, I'm having a hard time with you obsession.

Review the conversation and see if you can understand my "obsession" (ie, my not understanding what you're saying).

Craig asked initially if this was my position:

Truth exists, but in our fallible humanity we don't necessarily comprehend it.

Dan responded:

God's ways are inerrant. Our understanding of God's ways are NOT inerrant.

Do you disagree with that?


And I repeated the question twice, when it appeared you had missed it. Your only response:

I haven't had time to do much more, but I think what I have posted certainly makes my contention a reasonable conclusion. If I have time to re visit this I'll post it. If not I'll stick by my comment.

I was left thinking... wha...?

And so I rephrased my position:

I've said that OUR UNDERSTANDING is not perfect.

Do you agree or disagree with what I've actually said?


Craig responded:

I guess I can't quite agree with what you've actually said.

I said MY position is that our understanding is not perfect. I said MY position was that God's ways are perfect, but our understanding of God's ways are not perfect.

You responded, "I can't quite agree."

Do you see the source of my confusion and why I kept simply trying to get a clarification of your position, because you never answered directly?

I was rather astounded, saying, "You think we have perfect understanding?" Astounded because I don't think you hold that position and yet you seemed to be responding to my question as if you did.

Do you see now why I kept asking you to clarify? You seemed pretty directly to be refuting this common sense notion, that we don't have perfect understanding.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I am confident that we CAN understand what God is communicating, but that we often CHOOSE not to.

Agreed. But sometimes, when we don't understand, it is NOT because of choice but because of human fallibility.

Agreed?

Craig...

You on the other hand seem to be saying that it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to understand.

Do you understand the difference between "understand" and "understand perfectly?"

I understand that when I switch a light switch up, lights come on. Do I perfectly understand HOW that works? No. I understand ENOUGH.

So, if I may ask for clarification: You DO agree with me that we don't have perfect understanding?

And by asking that, I'm not asking if we can generally understand most things relatively well, I'm asking do you think we have PERFECT, WITHOUT ERROR understanding of all of God's ways?

Dan Trabue said...

You see, once we can admit to ourselves that we don't have perfect understanding of all of God's ways, then that would suggest to most reasonable people (I'd posit) a bit of humility on our part.

God has never told me that Christians ought not kill our enemies or the children of our enemies, but I UNDERSTAND from God's revelation to us in many ways that we are to LOVE our enemies and I can't really conceive of killing them or their babies in love, so I feel confident in MY UNDERSTANDING that this is a good general understanding of God's ways.

BUT, I'm not so bold to say, "And any Christians who disagree with me are false teachers."

That is, I am entirely able to differentiate between MY UNDERSTANDING of the Bible and God's Ways, and God's perfect will.

Recognizing that we are not beings with perfect understanding allows me that humility, no matter how sure I am right. I'd posit that this humility is a good thing.

I'd further posit that without that humility, we have each group and Christian reading the bible and saying confidently, "IT SAYS THIS AND ONLY THIS AND THIS IS THE ONLY GOD-APPROVED WAY OF UNDERSTANDING THIS AND ANYONE WHO DISAGREES IS A FALSE TEACHER - NOT A CHRISTIAN - AND BOUND FOR HELL!! (froth, foam)"

And, in so doing, they SEEM TO ME to be coming closer to engaging in actual false teaching of the sort that Jesus seemed to suggest was not forgivable. Beyond that, it makes for a hellish world when even Christians bite and devour one another for not agreeing with MY position.

Seems to me.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Again, If you keep insisting that I have said what I have not said, it really renders much of this frustrating.

Again, I HAVE NOT DONE THAT. I have ASKED you to clarify your position. Repeatedly. I have stated "this is my position," and ASKED YOU, "Do you agree?"

My ASKING you if something is your position is not the same as my saying, "This is your position."

Do you get what I'm saying, Craig?

Do you understand that I have not "insisted" anything?

Could you possibly give a direct answer? ("Yes, Dan, looking back, I see that you did not insist that, but rather, that you were asking the question. My bad..." words to that effect, maybe?)

Dan Trabue said...

As to your on-topic list, thanks, I appreciate it.

Your list...

1. A "false teacher" seems to be defined as someone who has been given some kind of authority to teach.
2. They continue to teach that which is false.
3. They the distort that which is true
4. They will come from within the Church.
5. Some will do it for personal gain.
6. They will be judged more harshly.


Re: 2 & 3, will you concede that, in the Biblical examples and texts, they are doing so (distorting the Truth, teaching false things) deliberately? That we're not speaking of someone who is merely mistaken, but someone who is deliberately engaged in trying to distort truth?

If so, then I find your list a reasonable and biblical conclusion.

Dan Trabue said...

Also, re: your list, would you agree that some of the biblical "tests" that are repeatedly used to "measure" if someone is a false teacher include:

Love for others
Bearing fruit of good works
Demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc)
What they do for the least of these

Do you see, as I do, that this is a clear measure used again and again as a proof against the charge of "false teacher?"

How about adding "merely human commands" to others to obey as a sign of false teachers, do you see that one, as well?

Craig said...

"I'm asking do you think we have PERFECT, WITHOUT ERROR understanding of all of God's ways?"

Since I've answered this already, I'll try again.

I think that if we could understand all of God's ways perfectly and without error we would be God. Had I actually said that we could I could see your confusion.

I do think that we are capable of understanding that which God has revealed to us. I think that God is capable of revealing HImself, His Truth, and His Ways so that we can understand what is necessary for now.

When you keep misstating my position and asking if I agree with your misstatement, I percieve that as you insisting that I agree with your misstatement. If I percieved you incorrectly then I apologize for my misperception.

RE: 2&3 on my list. I believe that I have stated elsewhere that teaching falsity intentionally and despite correction is an essential element of false teacherhood. If I only thought I did that then consider it done here.

Regarding your list. While those types of behaiviours are supposed to be a sign of those who follow Christ. It seems as though there enough instances of folks who appeared to be or thought they were doing those things, for me to look just at those sorts of external things. Shoot, even non believers can lead lives as you describe, but that doesn't save them.

For example Joel Osteen appears to hit all of the things on your list, yet he has/is teaching doctrine which is false. (His Prosperity lite/self help stuff) So, in the case of a teacher I would have to asses what they were teaching in addition to their behaviours. Certainly it doesn't boggle the mind that someone who would distort the gospel for personal gain would be able to live a lifestyle that appeared to be something that it was not. So I wouldn't discount your list, but I don't think you can seperate the two.

I'm not sure what your merely human commands cunstruct is getting at. But, if a teacher said "you must wear red on Sundays", I could decide based oon the totality of his ministry if this was something I could accept or not. But I don't see how that rises to false teacherhood. If it was "God says you must wear red or go to hell." then I don't care how many good works he did, I'd consider him a false teacher and move on.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, I have NOT misstated your position. Asking for clarification is not the same as misstating a position.

If, other than my asking you to (crazy, I know) answer my questions to clarify your position, I have somewhere ACTUALLY misstated your position, just provide the quote and I'll gladly look at it and clarify/apologize as needed.

But it simply has not happened.

You seem to be looking for a fight, rather than just agreeing with me when you agree with me.

WE AGREE, then, that we do not understand all things perfectly.

WE AGREE, then, that we do not have perfect understanding.

WE AGREE, then, that God's ways are perfect, but our understanding of God's ways are not perfect.

It's okay to say, "yes, Dan, I agree with you," if you agree with me, you know?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I'm not sure what your merely human commands cunstruct is getting at.

I'm not really "getting at" anything. I'm referencing the quote from the Bible speaking of false teachers that says...

Therefore rebuke them [false teachers] sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth...

Which sounds to me a lot like Jesus' referencing the Pharisees adding rule upon rule to what God's people are to do, but do so wrongly.

What specifically does that mean? I don't know, I just see that those who add "mere human rules" to what God would ACTUALLY have us do, that this is one trait of false teachers.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

While those types of behaiviours are supposed to be a sign of those who follow Christ. It seems as though there enough instances of folks who appeared to be or thought they were doing those things, for me to look just at those sorts of external things.

So, what are you saying? That Jesus or Paul telling us to look at the fruit of their lives is NOT a reliable indicator that they are of God?

If so, why do you think Jesus and Paul (and John and James) tell us to look at how folk live as a way of "testing the spirits"?

Craig said...

Dan,

"Which sounds to me a lot like Jesus' referencing the Pharisees adding rule upon rule to what God's people are to do, but do so wrongly."

Seems like a reasonable interpretation to me. Although I'd not necessarily limit it to just the Pharasee's.

"So, what are you saying? That Jesus or Paul telling us to look at the fruit of their lives is NOT a reliable indicator that they are of God?"

No, if you read my response I think I covered this already.

To be clear.

1. If I knew of someone who was "doing the right things", but teaching falsehoods, I would be suspicious of both their salvation and their teaching.

2. It seems reasonable that those who intentionaly teach falsehoods might be willing to live in a way that externally looks like they are "doing the right things".

3. Jesus is clear that there will be folks who prophesied and cast out demons in His name will be in bad shape.

4. I would be inclined to look at the totality of the evidence, when dealing with someone in a position of leadership.

I am aware of at least one pastor who does everything on your list, while also denying what most would consider essential doctrines (Christ's divinity, ressurection, even the most minimal level of scriptural authority). Further I know at least 2 pastors who (while having the appearance of "doing the rights things") were actively engaged in extramarital sexual relationships.

So, when it comes to those in authority, I side with Paul in expecting a higher standard of behaviour and accountability.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Craig: "So, when it comes to those in authority, I side with Paul in expecting a higher standard of behaviour and accountability."

Let us assume for the moment that this higher standard can be adduced from Scripture. St. Paul writes many things concerning proper Christian ethics, and his rule applies across the board. Indeed, a close reading of the two Corinthian letters makes clear that the administration of discipline is a communal activity, without regard to status, either inside or outside the congregation.

Most denominations have a set of rules, laws, and guidelines, including legal policies and procedures, that deal, in many respects, with similar issues that St. Paul did in his writings. In the case, say, of a pastor engaged in an extra-marital affair (in particular with members of his or her congregation), there are procedural remedies that involve, first and foremost, ascertaining the veracity of any claims of sexual misconduct.

Does the commission of such an act - whether it is carrying on an extra-marital affair, being an active substance addict, or perhaps even crossing the line to actual criminal behavior, either financial or interpersonal - mean the person in question is automatically disqualified from any position of authority? In any case where a pastor is clearly in violation either of his or her legal or ethical responsibilities, removing that person from a position of authority is warranted, without a doubt. Permanently disbarring that person from any future role in a leadership position, however, is a bit more difficult (that whole grace thing, don't you know).

In this regard, consider the film The Apostle.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

If I knew of someone who was "doing the right things", but teaching falsehoods, I would be suspicious of both their salvation and their teaching.

Agreed. But what "false teachings?" And is it a matter of them deliberately teaching something they know is wrong or is it a matter of them just disagreeing with your (generic "your") take on a passage/idea?

Or, put another way, "false" to whom?

Craig said...

Geoff,

Not quite sure what your point is. I quoted Paul earlier.

"James 3:1 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

I presume that Paul is speaking of God's judgment, not church discipline.

When someone becomes ordained in a particular denomination that should obligate them to abide to the polity and disciplinary process of the denomination.

If your point is that restoration is possible, you will get no argument from me. However, I would suggest that any such restoration and reinstatement would be dealt with on a case by case basis, not a blanket policy. While I enjoyed the movie The Apostle, I'm not sure that I would base my approach to church discipline on a movie.

In short I don't disagree with your comment, but I also wasn't referring to church discipline, rather God's judgment.

Dan,

Since I have already defined what I mean when referring to false teachings, I fail to see any relevance in your last comment.

For the purpose of the hypothetical (and since you do agree that there in fact false teachings), it could be any false teaching. If a teacher is willing to willingly distort the teachings of Christ (this sounds so familiar, didn't I already say this?), then it seems logical that they just might practice falsity in other areas of life as well.

The problem with your whole comment is that your presume more than I actually said.

Please read again. Note added emphasis.

"If I knew of someone who was "doing the right things", but teaching falsehoods, I would be SUSPICIOUS of both their salvation and their teaching."

In this situation I would be SUSPICIOUS, which would lead me to dig deeper to reach as accurate a conclusion as possible.

If someones actions don't line up with their teachings, it seems the prudent thing to do to allay ones suspicions. It seems that to test what people say and/or do in light of scripture is both biblical and prudent.

Craig said...

"Or, put another way, "false" to whom?"

Objectively false.

Dan Trabue said...

Define "objectively false," using biblical reasoning to support your definition.

Is someone teaching gay marriage is a good thing teaching an "objectively false" teaching?

Is someone who is teaching pacifism teaching an objectively false teaching?

Is someone teaching that women should be treated as chattel, as belonging to their families/fathers/husbands teaching an objectively false teaching?

Who decides what is "objectively false?"

Craig said...

Dan,

According to you.

"Truth is Truth. God's Truth is perfect."

According to the dictionary True and False are defined below.


True:

1.
being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact; not false: a true story.
2.
real; genuine; authentic: true gold; true feelings.
3.
sincere; not deceitful: a true interest in someone's welfare.
4.
firm in allegiance; loyal; faithful; steadfast: a true friend.
5.
being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something: the true meaning of his statement.
6.
conforming to or consistent with a standard, pattern, or the like: a true copy.
7.
exact; precise; accurate; correct: a true balanc


False:



1.
not true or correct; erroneous: a false statement.
2.
uttering or declaring what is untrue: a false witness.
3.
not faithful or loyal; treacherous: a false friend.
4.
tending to deceive or mislead; deceptive: a false impression.
5.
not genuine; counterfeit.
6.
based on mistaken, erroneous, or inconsistent impressions, ideas, or facts: false pride.

I'm not sure what I can add. Maybe you are using the terms in something other than the standard English definition.

Although the standard English definition would properly allow someone whose teachings were based on "mistaken, erroneous, or inconsistent impressions, ideas, or facts", to be correctly referred to as a false teacher.

Craig said...

"Is someone teaching gay marriage is a good thing teaching an "objectively false" teaching?"

If some one was teaching that the Bible teaches that "gay marriage" is a good thing, then I would suggest that they could be referred to as a false teacher. (more properly, it could be suggested that they were propagating a false teaching.)

"Is someone who is teaching pacifism teaching an objectively false teaching?"

Since I have previously stated that pacifism is a philosophy that is within the realm of Orthodox Christian teaching,and is a topic for in house debate but not divide. I can only assume that you have made some sort of whimsical leap to think that I might refer to a pacifist as a false teacher.

"Is someone teaching that women should be treated as chattel, as belonging to their families/fathers/husbands teaching an objectively false teaching?"

Since I am unaware of anyone actually teaching this, I will assume that this is another of your bizarre examples (similar to your always convenient "raping puppies" example) unworthy of serious response.

"Who decides what is "objectively false?""

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Since I am unaware of anyone actually teaching this, I will assume that this is another of your bizarre examples

This was standard teaching for most of church history, if I'm not mistaken. It's the reason brides are still symbolically "given away" today, because they WERE literally given away.

I think you're missing my point: Who decides what is "objectively false?"

Church A says, THIS teaching is "objectively true" and those who oppose are it "objectively false." Church B says just the opposite.

I'm not sure you're grasping the meaning of "objective." The dictionary meaning.

My point being, as Alan pointed out early on, when it comes to moral teachings, there is no "objective" reasoning. We can't measure "gay marriage" or "pacifism" or "sexism" and define without doubt "objectively this is wrong/right/permissible, etc."

How would you do so? By saying "The Bible says so..."? But other Christians who disagree with you will say the same thing right back to you.

Objective according to whom? God? Yes, if you can get God to validate your position, your understanding of a particular passage, then you can say "This is objectively true." But otherwise, it's just your take on a passage vs their take on the passage and we have no referee to throw the yellow flag when someone is wrong.

Marshall Art said...

And therein lies my point once again. To try to discuss what a false teacher is, one cannot take a step without some reference to relativity. "Who's truth?" is the question that cannot be remedied. But that doesn't mean the answer is unknown. So OK. If one church teaches something as blatantly unsupportable as "God blesses monogamous homosexual unions", then to that church, anything that says otherwise is a false teaching. Conversely, that church is the false teacher (its pastor, anyway) for preaching that stuff in the eyes of most traditional churches. But what does that church do but hang its hat on the fall back position that "we can't know perfectly God's Will". Convenient. It makes us all true teachers. Under such conditions, there are NO false teachers, only accusations of such. And we all hope we're right or not so far off that our salvation is in jeopardy. Somehow, I don't think that's what God had in mind. I agree with Craig that He intended that what He revealed to us can indeed be understood to HIS satisfaction and to the extent that we will be called to account.

Alan said...

Dan,

As I wrote earlier, if we could actually define objective truth, we wouldn't need Scripture. (If it is objectively true, we don't need a yardstick of any kind.)

Anyone who thinks there is objective truth to be found by human beings in the church clearly hasn't looked around at all the denominations that exist. Arminians and Calvinists and Lutherans and Catholics. I think most of them are wrong on some point, but I'm not arrogant enough to claim to be objective. And anyone who does simply rejects the effects of sin in our lives, our "objectivity", and our reasoning.

It always amazes me the number of people who claim to be orthodox but who outright reject notions like total depravity. Or rather, they embrace the notion when it suits them, but never recognize it in their own lives.

Craig said...

"Is someone teaching that women should be treated as chattel, as belonging to their families/fathers/husbands teaching an objectively false teaching?"

Since I am unaware of anyone actually teaching this, I will assume that this is another of your bizarre examples (similar to your always convenient "raping puppies" example) unworthy of serious response.

"Who decides what is "objectively false?""

The obvious answer is God decides what is objectively True or False.

Are you actually suggesting that anyone else could decide what is True or False.

The best we can do is to recognize Truth and hold on to it, while rejecting falsehood.

Churches don't have the power to decide Truth.

"...if you can get God to validate your position, your understanding of a particular passage, then you can say "This is objectively true." But otherwise, it's just your take on a passage vs their take on the passage..."

If that's really the case then why do we care? It's just a bunch of opinions. Paul was obviously wasting everyone's time with his warnings against false teachers. Because, we just can't know. Only those who perfectly know all of God's Truth could ever hope to be able to figure this out.


"when it comes to moral teachings, there is no "objective" reasoning. We can't measure "gay marriage" or "pacifism" or "sexism" and define without doubt "objectively this is wrong/right/permissible, etc."


So, why do you wail against things like; greed, homophobia, "raping puppies", killing children, war, killing in general, pollution, women as chattel, slavery,etc? We can't objectively decide if they are right/wrong.

Sorry, I've been down this road before with you. I see no reason to go back. If we accept your premise that there is no identifiable Truth, then ultimately it comes down to who has enough power to impose their opinions on others. Once the "it's all opinion" card gets played further discussion is hopeless.

I'll leave you with this. I believe that God is more that capable of communicating Himself and His truth to us in a way that we can understand. You, it seems, don't.

Anonymous said...

"It always amazes me the number of people who claim to be orthodox but who outright reject notions like total depravity. Or rather, they embrace the notion when it suits them, but never recognize it in their own lives."

You mean people like Dan?

Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Alan said...

BTW, Dan, I would note that even when I report that I weighed out 10.0 grams of material in a research paper, it is understood that the last decimal place is uncertain, meaning that the "actual" value is anywhere between 10.0 and 10.9 g.

(We teach even novices about the need for "significant figures". Perhaps that's a term that brings back fond memories from high school chemistry. There are things we're reasonably sure about, but there is always uncertainty built into every measurement.)

(And that's just on the macroscopic level. Once we get to the nanoscopic level, anything like exact observation and measurement eventually go out the window. Anyone who has not contemplated the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics probably has a rather naive understanding of reality and objectivity, to say the least.)

If we cannot even get a simple "true" and "objective" measurement in something as simple as measuring the mass of a reagent (what could be more basic?), it amazes me that people think we can be objective about anything as subjective as faith. Particularly when one of the most important experiences of faith, the very notion of being born again is, necessarily, inherently personal and individual.

Or they either just don't know or believe what they're actually saying (or both.)

Alan said...

(sorry for the multiple posts....)

Also, FYI, this isn't a new question. The Westminster Catechism covers this pretty easily, yet not as Craig (who I thought was a Presbyterian, but apparently not) defines it. We can be certain of our own salvation, because what we need to know for our salvation is clear enough to anyone in Scripture. The historical and traditional and orthodox confessions that we Presbyterians (except Craig) adhere to make no such claim for anything else.

Chapter I, Article 7: "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded"

"Known, believed, and observed for salvation." Doesn't say anything about anything else like women's ordination, pacifism, immersion vs. sprinkling, etc., none of which are *salvation* issues.

False teacher want to make all issues salvation issues so that they can make up their own rules about who is in and who is out.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

"Who decides what is "objectively false?""

The obvious answer is God decides what is objectively True or False.


Yes, yes, Craig, GOD does decide.

And what did God tell you about gay marriage? About pacifism? About killing your enemies?

Alan said...

Dan, if you're trying to get them to admit that their opinions are not God's opinions, that the Venn Diagram between God and themselves is not a perfect 1:1 correspondence, you ought to know by now, it ain't ever going to happen.

I've seen you have this conversation (or one very much like it) a few times before and you've gotten the same answer from them you're getting now. They know absolutely perfectly what God wants on every topic on which they want to be right. On topics they don't actually care about, they're indifferent. (Unless, of course, you take a stand on it, then I'd bet my pocket change they'll also perfectly know God's will on that topic too.)

Here's a question for you: What makes you think that asking the same question again and again is finally going to jar them into changing their minds that they might occasionally, not be perfect? Especially given that it has never in their lives occurred to them before, obviously.

Dan Trabue said...

It's a good question, Alan. I guess I'm not trying to change their mind. I'm just trying to rationally discuss the positions and let them stand on their own for what they're worth.

CAN we truly have a person who does not have perfect understanding of all things who then can still claim to have "good enough" understanding of some things that they can confidently claim that they "CAN NOT" be mistaken?

Is that a rational conclusion to reach?

You and I think not. We think, BY DEFINITION, someone with an inability to perfectly understand all things can not claim to have inerrant understanding of some things.

Some of our friends here appear to think differently.

If that's the argument and the difference between us, so be it, I'm just trying to get at the bottom of it and let it sit there and stew for consideration by anyone who's interested.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

If that's really the case then why do we care? It's just a bunch of opinions.

As I noted earlier, I think this gets to the reasoning why some people shy away from acknowledging their own errancy (ie, ability to be wrong). IF matters of faith and morality are somewhat subjective and impossible to say with 100% certainty, then (to them) Christianity seems pointless.

I don't think so.

I can't "prove" objectively that pacifism, gay marriage, NOT killing your enemies, living lives of grace and peace and love are the ONE AND ONLY "right" ways, the only ways that God approves of. These are MY conclusions based upon the bible and my God-given reasoning and life in this world. I can't prove any of that any more than someone else can prove the opposite. It IS subjective.

Do I think God's ways are impossible to understand? No.

Thus, Craig, your conclusion...

I believe that God is more that capable of communicating Himself and His truth to us in a way that we can understand. You, it seems, don't.

Is incorrect. I don't think God's ways are inscrutable. I think we CAN understand God's ways. I just don't trust YOU (ie, not "you" specifically, but other fallible human beings) to be a final arbiter as to understanding God's ways.

I think, for instance, that the Bible is plenty clear that we are not to pursue wealth ("be content with what you have... Wealth is a trap... FLEE all of that."), but others are just as sure that those passages that I think are plenty clear mean something other than what their direct teaching would suggest.

It's not that I think God's ways are impossible to understand, I just don't trust fallible humans to always rightly understand it, even those issues which I think are obvious enough. And, not only that, but I'm aware enough of my own fallibility to say that I will not say that I am the only one who has it right.

Alan said...

Dan wrote, "We think, BY DEFINITION, someone with an inability to perfectly understand all things can not claim to have inerrant understanding of some things. "

I wouldn't quite say that.

I would say that certainty is a spectrum from 100% certain to 0% certain and that most things fall somewhere on that spectrum. We might be 95% certain, but still admit that, because everything we know, say, or do is tainted by sin, we cannot be 100% certain that we are right about something. Or one can claim to be 100% certain, but still be 100% wrong.

Yet, one thing I am 100% certain about is that I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, to God alone be the glory. I believe that Scripture is clear enough and that God's Grace works through the Spirit to assure the elect of their salvation through the faith that God alone instills in us. Since our faith is God's work in us, and not something of our own making, we can be 100% certain that we haven't been led astray.

Ironically, of course, many non-Calvinists would contest the doctrine of unconditional election and would contest that I would have any right to claim 100% certainty about salvation, and they'd contest the notion that faith is not something we do ourselves (at least in part.) So while I can be 100% certain that I am saved, it doesn't mean everyone else agrees with me any any of it.

Other than that, however, I would say that there is little Scriptural evidence to suggest we have a right to claim 100% certainty about much of anything else. Is women's ordination wrong? I'm 99% certain it is not, but I recognize that *all* our ordering of how we do Church is tainted by sin, which is why I like the motto, Ecclesia Sempre Reformanda. Hopefully we get a little closer to the truth as we go along. But that means admitting we were at least a little wrong yesterday, and the day before that.

Anonymous said...

"What is the difference between a false teacher and just some dude I disagree with?"

I'd say the level of impact. I know people whom I consider good teachers, people who believe what is true, but who also hold a notion or two that I believe to be false. (I don't actually know anyone with whom I agree 100%.) But I wouldn't label them "false teachers". (I don't think on my blog I've ever labeled anyone as a "false teacher".)

Here, perhaps a comparison might help. Preacher Abel (for "A") teaches that we are saved by being good folk and living a good life and by repenting of our evil and it will all be okay. Preacher Bob (for "B") teaches that we cannot be saved by our works and we can only be saved by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ. I'd say that Preacher Bob is teaching the truth and Preacher Abel is a ... false teacher. Now, say Preacher Bob goes on to teach that Christians ought to be living godly lives because some day Christians will rule the world (an abbreviated and, therefore, possibly faulty representation of Federal Vision teaching). I'd say that I disagree with Preacher Bob. In this case, he's teaching a motive with which I would disagree, but he is holding for godliness which the Bible also encourages and it won't have a negative impact on people to live godly lives, so we disagree. He's not a "false teacher". He's just mistaken on that point. The "Federal Vision" view (as an example) may not be true, but it doesn't carry ramifications to theology that produce false results, nor does it cause people to aim at living other than what the Bible teaches, so ... we just disagree. But if Pastor Currie (for "Currie") teaches that Jesus is not the only way, that would be a "false teacher" because it will damn some.

How do I know I'm right and Pastor Currie is a "false teacher"? Scripture is abundantly clear on the matter and teaching otherwise requires a removal of plain text (as opposed to nuanced reading or "a difference of opinion" on the meaning of a text).

How do I know I'm right and Pastor Bob is wrong? Well, including the humility that I might be wrong, I can only operate on what I know. I see Scripture that says "x" on the topic at hand and the Scriptures offered by Pastor Bob don't seem to say what he says, so I'm forced to stay with "x" until convinced by Scripture or evident reason. But it would be futile to fall back on "we can never know perfectly" because we'd have to end up with "we can't really know anything" from there, and that's not helping anything. So, I'm stuck with "convinced by Scripture or evident reason".

Dan Trabue said...

"Anonymous," may I ask who you are?

Marshall Art said...

The number of denominations does not necessarily support the counter to the notion that God has made certain truths known to us. In most cases, the differences in denominations are of a sort not essential to salvation, mostly polity, ritual and things like that which separates Calvinists from Arminians (for example). Our salvation doesn't rest on whether we side with one or the other on the subject of election. That's a reasonable example of "some guy who just disagrees with me", not one of completely contradictory views on, say, the deity of Christ. Though there are those who claim the title "Christian" yet still doubt the deity of Christ, they are in small number and their arguments are easily shredded.

"It always amazes me the number of people who claim to be orthodox but who outright reject notions like total depravity. Or rather, they embrace the notion when it suits them, but never recognize it in their own lives."

I don't know to whom the first sentence above refers, but the second is plainly both a straw man and non sequitur. What about anything an opponent here has said leads you to believe that because they expound on an issue they believe is plainly sinful or unChristian that they don't recognize their own sinfulness? How do you get from their commentary on a given issue to the accusation that they might not recognize their own faults?

"...it amazes me that people think we can be objective about anything as subjective as faith."

It amazes me that you can't focus on the issue. No one is claiming perfect understanding of faith. The subject regards whether or not there's anything of which we can be absolutely certain within the faith; whether or not God has successfully made ANYTHING clear to us so that we can easily understand it and by which we can easily determine whether another is preaching falsely.

"False teacher want to make all issues salvation issues so that they can make up their own rules about who is in and who is out."

False teachers won't regard anything as certain in order to make up their own rules about what they can or can't do and still pretend they are faithful to Him. The more ambiguous they can keep things, the more mystery that can be maintained about what God's Will for us is, the lighter the cross they can choose to carry, the less of themselves they must deny.

Marshall Art said...

"As I noted earlier, I think this gets to the reasoning why some people shy away from acknowledging their own errancy (ie, ability to be wrong). IF matters of faith and morality are somewhat subjective and impossible to say with 100% certainty, then (to them) Christianity seems pointless."

That's not exactly how anyone is expressing things, and there is no one on THIS side of the issue that claims to be perfect or perfect on every issue regarding the faith. But "Thou shalt not..." is about as straightforward as anything can get and no argument to counter or mitigate it comes close to being as clear. "Convoluted" is the word that springs to mind. Even on the subject of homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I freely, openly and willing admit that I could be wrong. But the chances are negligible, not so much due to anything corrupt about MY ego or nature, but due to the convoluted nature of the arguments proponents have thus far put forth.

My imperfection or sin nature does not demand imperfection in my understanding of every aspect of the faith. If you are going to insist that our fallible character will not tolerate that can be 100% correct on any given subject, then the conclusion that there can then be nothing upon which we can rely in Scripture is the only logical one.

It seems to me that those on YOUR side of the issue indeed have some line that divides what you will always insist is correct teaching and that which you believe is subjective interpretation. Whether or not you admit your belief is subject to your own fallibility is not reassuring, because it also seems to be the case that to say "it's just some dude with whom I disagree" is one way you say, "I don't care what you say, I insist on believing this no matter what your evidence and arguments are."

Alan said...

""Anonymous," may I ask who you are?"

Isn't it obvious, Dan?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Oh my. HWMNBN has visited us?

Dan Trabue said...

That's sorta who I thought it sounded like, but then, he says plainly "I don't think on my blog I've ever labeled anyone as a 'false teacher,'" and I don't think he's THAT out of touch with reality.

Alan said...

Heh. I didn't actually read the comment, just skimmed it fast and saw the Obsessive Currie Derangement (OCD) shining through and thought you'd had a visit by HWMNBN.

Alan said...

"I don't think he's THAT out of touch with reality."

Never underestimate the dark side of the force.

Craig said...

Dan,

I’m going to try to start from a different place in an attempt to clarify better.

The best place to start seems to be God’s grace. I firmly believe that God through His grace has saved me. I had nothing to do with my salvation, it is completely and totally a work of grace by the sovereign LORD.

If the LORD decided to extend this grace to me, I see no reason why He will not allow me to have, through his grace, understanding of Him and His ways sufficient to His plans for me.

To be very clear any understanding that I have is a gift from God, and like any other gift from God it is subject to being used poorly.

“And what did God tell you about gay marriage? About pacifism? About killing your enemies?”

If your question “Has God given me some special revelation, the answer is no. To the best of my knowledge the words “gay marriage” and “pacifism” appear nowhere in scripture. The concept of “gay marriage” appears nowhere in scripture. There is sufficient scriptural support for one to conclude that pacifism is a reasonable course. There is also enough to support the just war theory. There is certainly a scriptural prohibition against murder. There is also scriptural support for killing under certain circumstances. However, these are at best secondary issues. Up for debate, but that’s about it.

“CAN we truly have a person who does not have perfect understanding of all things who then can still claim to have "good enough" understanding of some things that they can confidently claim that they "CAN NOT" be mistaken?”

Given the fact that no one in this conversation has made this claim, one must ask what your point is. Please take this opportunity to demonstrate where I (or anyone else in this conversation) have/has said they "CAN NOT" be mistaken?” .




“I just don't trust YOU (ie, not "you" specifically, but other fallible human beings) to be a final arbiter as to understanding God's ways.

That’s good, because I don’t recall ever asking you to. I would suggest that you trust those who have established Anabaptist doctrine (such as it is). Except in cases where Anabaptist doctrine collides with your personal opinion. It also seems as though you trust Wink at least on some things. For me personally I’m comfortable with God being the final arbiter as to understanding His ways.

Craig said...

Contd.

“I can't "prove" objectively that pacifism, gay marriage, NOT killing your enemies, living lives of grace and peace and love are the ONE AND ONLY "right" ways, the only ways that God approves of.”

I’m not sure any one has asked you to. But I suspect that God does consider each of those things either objectively right or wrong. Now we may not know which, but the fact remains that if you could ask God “Is XYZ right?” He is going to give a yes or no answer, which bears absolutely no relation to our opinion of the rightness or wrongness of XYZ. I prefer to strive to align my self with God, rather than to revel in the ambiguity of “we just can’t know for sure”.


“Chapter I, Article 7: "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded"

I’m pretty sure I said something similar earlier. But, Dan, we know of the regard in which you hold creeds and confessions so this may not be particularly compelling for you.


“False teacher want to make all issues salvation issues so that they can make up their own rules about who is in and who is out.”

This might be the best comment in the whole thread. Since none of your pet issues is anything but a secondary issue, I don’t have to agree with your opinions. Speaking for myself I don’t believe I have never questioned the salvation of anyone in one of these conversations. I don’t have enough information to even dream of trying. Besides it’s not my place to question who God elects.


“They know absolutely perfectly what God wants on every topic on which they want to be right.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard/read someone actually make this claim. But I’m cool with thinking that “Thou shalt not…” actually means Thou shalt not.

“On topics they don't actually care about, they're indifferent”

As are most folks, I suspect. It’s hard to get worked up about something I don’t care about.

Craig said...

As someone suggested, we’ve beaten this dead horse plenty elsewhere. I really have no reason to think that either of us will be persuaded to change. If there’s something new to beat on I’ll respond, if not I’ll just see where this goes.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Please take this opportunity to demonstrate where I (or anyone else in this conversation) have/has said they "CAN NOT" be mistaken?”

The very first sentence in the second of these posts...

It is possibile to be correct 100%, knowing what God has told us.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

The best place to start seems to be God’s grace. I firmly believe that God through His grace has saved me. I had nothing to do with my salvation, it is completely and totally a work of grace by the sovereign LORD.

Agreed.

If the LORD decided to extend this grace to me, I see no reason why He will not allow me to have, through his grace, understanding of Him and His ways sufficient to His plans for me.

Agreed.

To be very clear any understanding that I have is a gift from God, and like any other gift from God it is subject to being used poorly.

Agreed.

If your question “Has God given me some special revelation, the answer is no. To the best of my knowledge the words “gay marriage” and “pacifism” appear nowhere in scripture.

Agreed.

All of this is what I've been saying, too.

So, where is it you think we disagree?

But if this is your position, then you are not amongst those who would yell "Wolf" (false teacher) on these non-critical issues.

Craig said...

"It is possibile to be correct 100%, knowing what God has told us."

Thanks for playing.

The first sentence in the second response is "I wonder if you can set it up any more in your favor?"

So you are actually going to equate "it is possible" with ""CAN NOT" be mistaken?”

Perhaps a quick trip to Dictionary.com to check out some standard English definitions might help.

"All of this is what I've been saying, too."

Yes, when you said:

"“…when it comes to moral teachings, there is no "objective" reasoning. We can't measure "gay marriage" or "pacifism" or "sexism" and define without doubt "objectively this is wrong/right/permissible, etc."”

I can completely see how that is exactly what I just said.

"So, where is it you think we disagree?"

Perhaps you should re read the comment thread. I'm not going to repeat myself.

"But if this is your position, then you are not amongst those who would yell "Wolf" (false teacher) on these non-critical issues."

Had you read my earlier comments, this would not necessarily come as a surprise to you.

For the record, my personal criteria to label someone a 'false teacher" would be based on specifics of their teaching (what specifically they said about any of your pet issues), not simply the fact that they mentioned them.

As I said before, a teacher saying that he supports "gay marriage" in a general sense would be someone that I would probably be suspicious of. Check him out, and probably not pay much attention to. However, if a teacher insisted that the Bible supports "gay marriage" and that there is no possible other position that can be taken, that would probably get the false teacher label.

But, ultimately, it doesn't matter. Why, because “…when it comes to moral teachings, there is no "objective" reasoning."

It's all just personal preference anyway.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, you are not like these other guys. You're too smart and reasonable to try to put words in my mouth.

So don't do it.

Does what we believe matter? YES.

Do you have an "objective standard" by which you reach your moral decisions? NO.

We don't disagree on those points, quit acting as if we do and quit implying I'm suggesting we ought not care about what we believe, or even what others believe.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

if a teacher insisted that the Bible supports "gay marriage" and that there is no possible other position that can be taken, that would probably get the false teacher label.

Just curious: Would you apply that same label in the inverse? That is, if someone was teaching that the Bible condemns gay marriage and no other possible position can be taken, would you probably give the false teacher label?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Perhaps you should re read the comment thread. I'm not going to repeat myself.

No need to. You've already stated:

The best place to start seems to be God’s grace. I firmly believe that God through His grace has saved me. I had nothing to do with my salvation, it is completely and totally a work of grace by the sovereign LORD.

THIS IS A POINT ON WHICH WE AGREE.

If the LORD decided to extend this grace to me, I see no reason why He will not allow me to have, through his grace, understanding of Him and His ways sufficient to His plans for me.

THIS IS A POINT ON WHICH WE AGREE.

To be very clear any understanding that I have is a gift from God, and like any other gift from God it is subject to being used poorly.

THIS IS A POINT ON WHICH WE AGREE.

If your question “Has God given me some special revelation, the answer is no. To the best of my knowledge the words “gay marriage” and “pacifism” appear nowhere in scripture.

THIS IS A POINT ON WHICH WE AGREE.

Unless you're going back on some of these points ON WHICH WE AGREE, then I don't see that we're much in disagreement.

The only place where I can see we might disagree is a matter of degrees:

While we both agree that we don't have perfect understanding and we both agree that we can have a generally "good enough" understanding, you seem to perhaps have a slightly more elevated sense of what "good enough" means.

It SEEMS to mean to you (correct me if I'm wrong) that "I, CRAIG, have a good enough understanding to know that Dan is mistaken, but I also acknowledge that I could be wrong, but I'm not..." kind of wishy washy flavor to it. Which is kind of where I am, too. It's just that I'm willing to acknowledge that, while I think I'm right, being fallible, I could be mistaken.

You seem to be suggesting that this honesty is a weakness, but I'm not sure. You just seem to not want to be nailed down on a position. Here, I can say that I agree with your conclusions as written above (which is what I've been saying all along) but then, you push back for some reason that I can't define.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to comment more if you wish.

Marshall Art said...

"Craig, you are not like these other guys. You're too smart and reasonable to try to put words in my mouth."

Sounds like he might be drawing conclusions based on YOUR words that then offend your own ear.

Craig said...

"Craig, you are not like these other guys. You're too smart and reasonable to try to put words in my mouth."

Sorry, I thought that be actually quoting you I would get past being accused of this, I guess not.

To be clear, you object to me putting your words in your mouth, OK.

Craig said...

"Does what we believe matter? YES."

The quote I pasted earlier would seem to contradict this. As would your insistence that all we are talking about is individual opinion and interpretation.


"Do you have an "objective standard" by which you reach your moral decisions? NO."

If you are going to scold me for "putting words in your mouth" then don't make assumptions about what I do or do not have or do.

"...quit implying I'm suggesting we ought not care about what we believe, or even what others believe."

Again I simply quoted you, then drew some reasonable inferences from your quote.

Craig said...

"Would you apply that same label in the inverse? That is, if someone was teaching that the Bible condemns gay marriage and no other possible position can be taken, would you probably give the false teacher label?"

Given the fact (which you acknowledge) that the Bible says absolutely nothing positive about "gay marriage" and in fact doesn't address it at all, any teacher who claimed otherwise would be de facto teaching falsehood. However, since the Bible does in fact only refer to marriage between men and women it is a reasonable position, supported by the text to teach that hetrosexual marriage is Biblically normative. So, while it is impossible to answer you definitively with such a limited amount of information, I would (as I usually do) evaluate actual teachings before making any kind of assesment.

Craig said...

"It SEEMS to mean to you (correct me if I'm wrong) that "I, CRAIG, have a good enough understanding to know that Dan is mistaken, but I also acknowledge that I could be wrong, but I'm not..."

You're wrong.

"It's just that I'm willing to acknowledge that, while I think I'm right, being fallible, I could be mistaken."

First, you're wrong.

Second, I've frequently acknowledged mistakes and asked for forgiveness. So, once again please stop imposing your prejudices on me.

"You seem to be suggesting that this honesty is a weakness,"

Interesting conclusion since I've never stated anything remotely similar to this.

"You just seem to not want to be nailed down on a position."

I can see by commnts like this how much you value nailing down your position.

("“I can't "prove" objectively that pacifism, gay marriage, NOT killing your enemies, living lives of grace and peace and love are the ONE AND ONLY "right" ways, the only ways that God approves of.”)


" but then, you push back for some reason that I can't define."

If you have something specific that you need help defining, I'll deal with it.

Where you lose me is that even though you "agree" with my statements you have reached what seems like a significantly different conclusion from me.

So while I appreciate your agreement, I find your conclusion mystifying.

Craig said...

Marshall,

The compliments are really flowing my way.

Fisrt Alan says I'm not a Presbyterian, which could be the nicest thing he's ever said about me.

Then Dan says I'm smart and reasonable.

It's a happy day for me here in the ole holler.

Craig said...

Sorry for the multiples, but I lost 2 longer comments and didn't want to keep losing mre. I could keep going and try to get 100.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I simply quoted you, then drew some reasonable inferences from your quote.

Reasonable TO YOU. Unfortunately (or fortunately, maybe) you are proving the whole "fallible human, entirely capable of interpreting things wrongly" angle. You may have THOUGHT your inferences were reasonable, but as it turns out, they were incorrect.

And that is from a fella American Christian speaking the same language in the same culture in the same century...

Craig said...

So when you say this:

"“…when it comes to moral teachings, there is no "objective" reasoning. We can't measure "gay marriage" or "pacifism" or "sexism" and define without doubt "objectively this is wrong/right/permissible, etc."”

You are suggesting that it is an incorrect conclusion to think that you mean there is no objective measure of morality, or to objectively define right/wrong.

OK, my bad.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, there is no objective measure of morality. A point which I thought you agreed with but I guess I'm mistaken.

So demonstrate to me your objective measure for morality, Craig.

Do you mean merely, "Well I am 'certain enough' that this teaching is right because I am 'certain enough' that MY understanding of the Bible, and thus God's will, is correct..." or do you mean somehow truly objective?

Alan said...

"Given the fact (which you acknowledge) that the Bible says absolutely nothing positive about "gay marriage" and in fact doesn't address it at all, any teacher who claimed otherwise would be de facto teaching falsehood. "

Craig also doesn't believe in the Trinity because that doctrine is never mentioned either. So the doctrine of the Trinity is teaching falsehood.

The Bible does not mention open heart surgery, therefore if Christians allow open heart surgery that, it is teaching falsehood.

The Bible never mentions marriages occurring between white anglo-saxon protestants. In fact, not a single marriage between white anglo-saxon protestants can be found anywhere in Scripture. 100% of the marriages described in the Bible are not between white anglo-saxon protestants and 0% of the verses in the Bible that describe marriage talk about white anglo saxon protestants. The Bible says nothing positive about marriage between white anglo-saxon protestants. Therefore it is normative that marriage between anglo-saxon protestants is not allowed and teaching otherwise is false teaching.

Same for left handed people. Teaching pro-left-handed marriage is false teaching. There's a reason that the Latin word for left is sinister, you know. There are centuries of tradition behind the notion that being left handed is sinful. And left-handed marriage it is never mentioned in the Bible. So teaching that's OK is also false teaching.

Right Craig?

Craig said...

Dan,

I've answered this before, I'm not sure doing so again helps matters.

I was under the impresion that you were upset because my quoting you put words in your mouth. Not what my personal standards are or are not.

One example. "Thou shall not murder." This is a very clear declarative statement. So I have no problem feeling confident that murder is objectively wrong.

It seems as though you keep jumping between at least 2 different standards.

1. Wrong, which I would define as something that objectively can never be right.

2. Moral, which seems to be a term that is inherently subjactive and to some degree or another culturally driven.

In the example above I would suggest that murder is both objectively wrong as well as immoral. However in some cultures what we would consider murder (for example honor killings) would be considered moral.

FYI I'm headed for a weekend on beautiful frozen Gull lake and will be limited in my access to the internet. I may or may not respond much for the next few days.

Marshall Art said...

"Craig also doesn't believe in the Trinity because that doctrine is never mentioned either. So the doctrine of the Trinity is teaching falsehood."

In Matthew 28:19; Jesus says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit". Sounds like the Trinity to me. But then, hey, I could be wrong no matter how many variations of this verse's point is found in Scripture.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Further above, Art dismissed some of Walter Wink's commentary because he found it difficult to believe that the Gospel writer was including culturally specific information that deepened and broadened the scandal of the message of Jesus that would be missed by one not of this culture.

Reading thru Lisa's sermon draft this morning (something I do every Sunday, and have for over sixteen years), I came across a reference to Jesus in Caesarea Phillipi. She discovered that in that city there was a pagan shrine to Pan, known as the Gates of Hell. It is in Caesarea Phillipi that, according to the Gospel of St. Mark, Jesus asks his disciples to tell him what others are saying about him, what they think, and it is here, specifically, that Peter says that even "the Gates of Hell" cannot prevail against him.

Now, is this an accident? An ironic aside? I have been studying the Bibles in depth for two decades, and I just learned this little factoid that alters not just my understanding of this passage, but even my approach to the Gospel of St. Mark (in particular) as a whole. Is it necessary to know this little fact to gain understanding from this passage? No. Knowing it, however, gives added depth to the passage, gives it specificity, a reference outside the later accretions of legend and myth.

Responses?

Marshall Art said...

Well, one response is that for one who has "been studying the Bibles (sic) in depth for two decades", it is odd to hear that you think Peter said that of Jesus, when in fact, Jesus said it of Peter (Matt 16:18). Perhaps we also have differing definitions of the term "in depth".

Also, the "factoid" changes nothing about the verse, even if it was an allusion to the pagan temple. As to Wink, my position is that he has poorly applied the cultural references in a manner that distorts the message and make it mean what it doesn't. I stand by my assessment of both Wink's lame commentary and the message imparted by Christ.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

True enough, I erred. It was indeed Jesus that said it of Peter - that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church, built upon the rock that is Peter.

This does not change, in any way shape or form your understanding of this passage? That this Shrine to Pan, built in a cave that is part of the source for the Jordan River - a temple built on a rock - is used as a play on Peter's name? That it is called "The Gates of Hell"? None of these little bits of information broaden your understanding of what it is Jesus is saying here?

Seriously?

How sad for you.

Marshall Art said...

It's an interesting tidbit of info. But what more can it add to the lesson and meaning of Christ's words? Does the addition of the info really change it? I don't think so. I mean, you don't suggest that the temple itself is being suggested as that which will or won't prevail against Peter, do you? That would be silly. He's obviously saying the evil will not prevail against the church. Even if the apostles thought, "Hey, cool! The Gates of Hades are just down the street!", I can't imagine they missed the point because of it.

But the Wink stuff implies that such references demand a different understanding of the words of Christ. They don't. He just wants them to in order to satisfy a theme more pleasing to his own sensibilities and ideologies.

Marty said...

Well it certainly changes my perspective a bit on that Scripture. Thanks for sharing that Geoffrey.

That is what I really like about Methodist pastors, at least the ones I've been privileged to have. Walter Wink is a perfect example of this...putting Scripture within it's context of the times it was written. Brings a whole new perspective to the meaning of things.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Why am I not surprised that contextual information, little nuggets that liven and deepen the text, mean nothing to you?

As for Wink, since you have not read him, you have absolutely no basis for what you say about him. It's actually kind of silly.

Marshall Art said...

I freely admit, and have admitted, that I am only going by what has been linked thus far. If you'll notice, instead of looking only for that which you might condemn, I've asked for book titles by the guy. What more do want? But the link gives a good clue as to the guy's mindset and it's clearly buffoonish on this issue, which is all I've dared to comment upon. His insights are, as I've said, buffoonish as well as a great leap of logic. Worse, they suggest that Christ Himself is capable of using illogical examples in His teachings. And of course, the Wink example does NOT properly explain Christ's meaning.

YOUR little "Gates of Hell" argument is, as I said, interesting trivia, but does not alter the meaning of Christ's message whatsoever. If so, you haven't explained how.

As to meaning "nothing" to me, I believe I said I found it interesting. What more do you want? It's of no more value that YOU'VE been able to explain, so just how giddy with excitement do you expect one to be?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

OK, here is why it's interesting. Rather than some universal meaning that the real Gates of that place of eternal damnation cannot stand against the Church, Jesus might well be teasing Peter, with the multiple word play involved, the references to "the rock" and "Gates of Hell" having, in context, multiple meanings.

St. Mark's portrayal of Jesus is almost idiosyncratically a Galilean/Judaean Jew (he refers to non-Jews as gos, a moment that has caused some consternation). My guess is - based on the evidence in the gospel as a whole - the portrait the author is painting is of a Jesus who not only physically moves from Galilee to Jerusalem, but emotionally and psychologically does as well. The view of most peasant folks, of most folks in general, is limited by their experience, Jesus among them. The city of Caesarea Phillipi was probably at the outer reaches of their understanding of what constituted "the world". The pagan temple there was probably a point of contention with local Jews (even if, as is likely, the local population was quite small).

Here comes Jesus, bringing his disciples, quizzing them about his identity, and receives the declaration that he, Jesus, is the Messiah! For his reward, Peter is told, by a Jesus who always downplays this title in St. Mark, preferring "Son of Man" (there is the history in Mark studies of what is called "The Messianic Secret"). In other words, Jesus is declining the name, in the process teasing Peter for being a bit over the top by going a bit over the top himself.

Marshall Art said...

One of the problems with these kinds of "insights" is that it depends on the accuracy of translations and understandings of ancient languages and customs. Even then, the can be no guarantee of objectivity in how to apply the knowledge these "insights" provide. An example:

In the story of the rich young man that Dan likes to use in his "Bible economics" arguments, some say that the "eye of a needle" of which Jesus speaks is a gateway into the city, made intentionally small to allow night-time entry without risking security. If a someone had a camel loaded up with goods, he had to unload it in order to get the camel through. This was supposedly a reference to the "baggage" a rich man may have with his wealth and his ties to it. If he didn't unburden himself, didn't cut his ties to his wealth, he'd be tempted away from God.

Yet others say the original language is an actual needle and the word for "eye" is "hole" which is really the same thing so perhaps it IS a likely reference but then others say no such gateway bore that name and...

None of it matters. As interesting as the insight may be, the message is clear no matter what the reference is, and no matter what the "insight" provides...the temptation to cling to one's wealth makes it difficult for a rich man to enter heaven. Jesus could just as well have said that it is easier for a goat to pass through a brick wall than it is for a rich man to enter heaven.

Turn the cheek, give the tunic, walk an extra mile, the message is nothing more than to show love to one who craps on you, not to make a statement of defiance or to show them up or to make them feel guilty or ashamed. To show love. Period.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Art: "None of it matters." Philosophically speaking, you are a positivist. It's all clear now. There are the words on the page, dead letter that refer to other dead letters (dictionary definitions) without any need to read sentences, paragraphs, whole books as cohesive wholes with narrative structure, with references to the culture within which it is written, with side jokes, and puns that lives up the meaning of the texts.

There is just a bunch of words, and all we need to do is pay attention to those little scribblings on the page.

After 2000 years of Christian history, the four levels of allegorical interpretation, various mystical and theological interpretations, the whole Reformation, Biblical scholarship and historical criticism, we have Art here, proclaiming with authority that all we need to do is read the words.

Because, apparently, we are all first graders.

Alan said...

"There is just a bunch of words, and all we need to do is pay attention to those little scribblings on the page."

If only he actually did that, Geoffrey. But you and I know that nothing like this:

"Turn the cheek, give the tunic, walk an extra mile, the message is nothing more than to show love to one who craps on you, not to make a statement of defiance or to show them up or to make them feel guilty or ashamed. To show love. Period."

Has ever been evidenced in MAs behavior.

So again, he doesn't even believe or do what he says he believes. If that doesn't define a false teacher, I'm not sure what would.

Marshall Art said...

"Has ever been evidenced in MAs behavior.

So again, he doesn't even believe or do what he says he believes. If that doesn't define a false teacher, I'm not sure what would."


That would be the perfect shot if you could point to any place anywhere where I have touted myself as the perfect example of a Christian. Indeed, I believe I have admitted that I fall short on more than one occasion. But my imperfection does not dismiss the truth of what I have said.

"After 2000 years of Christian history, the four levels of allegorical interpretation, various mystical and theological interpretations, the whole Reformation, Biblical scholarship and historical criticism, we have Art here, proclaiming with authority that all we need to do is read the words."

Pretty cool, huh? That's the beauty of Scripture. I only need four neurons to understand God's Holy Word.

"Because, apparently, we are all first graders."

Oh, if only you were that. For of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Alan said...

"I only need four neurons to understand God's Holy Word."

Psst. Does he even know that it wasn't written in English?

Wow. 4 neurons was clearly an overestimation.

Marshall Art said...

Psst! Does Alan know that you can get any number of English translations of the copies of the original manuscripts? I don't need to know Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew. Isn't that cool? Gosh. I wonder how many neurons he has.

Alan said...

So you're not just reading God's Holy Word. You're reading a translation. And you have to pick a decent translation, which means one should (if they care) know a little something about the differences between how translations were done. It makes quite a difference when one translation says "Thou shalt not kill" and another says "Thou shalt not murder." Just one example.

But no, you just read the words on the page without giving any thought to any of that nonsense because knowing these little "tidbits" doesn't add anything to your understanding. You just read the words on the page.

I'm not surprised that they don't add to your understanding. I can't imagine anything that would add anything to your understanding.

Marty said...

And Marshall should also know, if he is fluent in any other language than English, that something is always lost in the translation, no matter how decent it might be. Now I don't know if any idioms were used when the scriptures were written, but those are sometimes very difficult to translate from one language to another. And given a different time and place and culture...well...you get my drift.

Alan said...

No, no, no Marty. You don't need to know any cultural context to translate or understand idioms in the Bible. Just read the words. ;)

Marshall Art said...

"No, no, no Marty. You don't need to know any cultural context to translate or understand idioms in the Bible. Just read the words."

The problem here, amongst so many suffered by the boy Alan, is that this sad case makes a snarky comment, I respond in kind, and he then treats that as a serious and definitive reflection of my position.

The truth, something to which the boy only gives lip service, is that I am aware of cultural aspects and commentaries dealing with the translations of ancient languages and how all that impacts the meaning of Scripture. I just don't give much credence to those who think they've uncovered "truths" in the last 75 years that absolutely no one in the last 4000 has ever seen before, "truths" that coincidentally match their personal ideologies. I tend to go with those who's only agenda is determining as closely as possible what God meant to reveal unto us no matter what the consequences for them, or me, personally.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, listen, all of you: Any more comments with ridiculous name-calling (the boy, moron) however apt or not they may be, I will take the time to remove the epithet and post any pertinent comments. If it's all just junk name-calling, then it will all be deleted.

Comment on the points, not the person.

Alan said...

" just don't give much credence to those who think they've uncovered "truths" in the last 75 years that absolutely no one in the last 4000 has ever seen before"

Yeah, that's unheard of. Like say, discovering new medications. People have been studying medicine for well over 4000 years, so what are the chances that any new medications might ever be discovered?

And clearly, since we've sifted through every square millimeter of ground in the Middle East already, down to a depth of at least 5 meters, there's no chance that archeology and anthropology might lend some new understanding. Nope, none at all. Because everything that we need to know has already been figured out. Period.

It couldn't possibly be the case that our knowledge of the ancient world is limited enough that we should instead, be surprised when we *don't* learn something new. Nope. Learning new things is obviously more unlikely.

Not that it really matters either way, because it's all just about the (English) words on the page.

Marshall Art said...

I see. You equate new discoveries in science and medicine with new discoveries of the meanings of words in Scripture. Uh huh. Perhaps you might link to some source that describes when that major discovery took place that overturned thousands of years of understanding regarding the Scriptural teaching on sexual immorality. I know I've searched for such and no arrangements of words prompts Google to produce such. And really, if it exists, there is no way one couldn't find it, wouldn't you think? Surely no way that those who support a sinful lifestyle wouldn't herald that discovery in their ongoing arguments seeking to justify their lifestyle choice. Yeah. THAT'S gonna happen.

"And clearly, since we've sifted through every square millimeter of ground in the Middle East already, down to a depth of at least 5 meters, there's no chance that archeology and anthropology might lend some new understanding."

There's always a chance. But only those that are more invested in their sinful desires than God's Will would live in conflict with what is known on the "chance" that such evidence validating their position exists. But hey! Think of the possibilities! Maybe Fred Phelps is absolutely right and "God hates fags" is sure to be discovered soon to justify his POV! Naw! I don't buy it. I'll stick with what we know for certain about both points of view.

Alan said...

Back to your gay obsession again MA?

Seriously, I don't know a single straight guy who obsesses about gay stuff as much as you do. Nothing in this post has anything to do with being gay, I didn't mention anything about being gay, yet you bring it up again and again and again and again. In fact, you bring up gay stuff up much more than I ever do in these conversations. I'm sure we'd all be happier if you satisfied those obsessions elsewhere.

"You equate new discoveries in science and medicine with new discoveries of the meanings of words in Scripture. Uh huh."

Uh. No. I equate new discoveries in science and medicine with new discoveries in archeology and anthropology which may provide greater illumination to our understanding of Scripture. But that's a nuance I wouldn't expect you to understand (naturally.) As we've seen recently, you can't even understand when you clearly and repeatedly contradict yourself.

But since we currently understand the Bible perfectly, and have for 4000 years who needs new understandings?

The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example have provided all sorts of completely worthless information about the texts themselves. Archeology has provided meaningless insights into why Paul travelled to the particular towns he went to in his mission trips which sheds no light whatsoever on the particular issues he's writing about. None of that is important to you because you need only read the (English) words on the page.

Now go on, go obsess about gay stuff again. (Though we've already got this thread over 100 comments, I'm sure you can fill another 100 with your pointless gay-obsessed blathering.)

Marshall Art said...

"Back to your gay obsession again MA?"

Yes. I'm obsessed with being happy and gay. Why you bring this up I have no idea.

But the topic of homosexuality is part of the overarching theme of false teachers as support for it is a position held and furthered by Dan which is why the charge is so often leveled at either him or people like him. He tries to dispel that charge with what he thinks is a Biblically based definition of the term by which he can pretend he does not qualify. It so happens that it is one of his positions that is the most clearly in conflict with Scripture. Thus, it is easiest to return to in order to discuss the topic. He would like to talk about people speaking of how many kids Mary had, but I don't recall any such discussions ever taking place in his or my blog discussions, or any blog where we've both visited to debate any issue.

But as it happens, and you'd do well to ponder the distinction, it is not that I am obsessed with homosexuality, but that people like you are that I find fascinating. You're so obsessed that you'll twist Scripture to find permission for it and redefine words to soften the image of it as well as to demonize opponents of it. There's so much more that defines what a real obsession it is for people like yourself and your enablers, but you (probably don't) get the point.

"Uh. No. I equate new discoveries in science and medicine with new discoveries in archeology and anthropology which may provide greater illumination to our understanding of Scripture."

...none of which has served to support your hope for Biblical permission to engage in that which is forbidden. But that's a nuance I wouldn't expect you to understand (naturally.)

"As we've seen recently, you can't even understand when you clearly and repeatedly contradict yourself."

What you see in your delusions has no bearing here. I'm more than willing to examine real proof that I have in any way contradicted myself. Got anything?

"(Though we've already got this thread over 100 comments, I'm sure you can fill another 100 with your pointless gay-obsessed blathering.)"

The point is false teachings. Pretending that God in any way blesses or gives approval (tacit or otherwise) for any form of homosexual behavior is an example of a false teaching. An obvious example at that and the fact that it bugs you so much that I return to this obvious example is simply bonus for me. Your intolerance for my chosen strategy of debate is not very gracious.

Alan said...

Now you've completely abandoned the topic in order to continue blathering on for almost 500 words proclaiming loudly about how you're totally not obsessed with homosexuality, even though it takes you almost 500 words to express that. Over and over and over.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Seriously, MA, we all *totally* believe you. No really, we do! *snicker*

But please, continue to blather on off-topic for another few thousand words about how you're totally not obsessed with teh man-on-man action. It's completely believable, Mary.

If, on the other hand, you'd like to return to the topic we were discussing, which is how knowing the context of Scripture doesn't provide any new understanding whatsoever, I'll be happy to mock you about that sort of stupidity too.

Now, hump MA! Dance monkey boy, dance!

Marshall Art said...

"Now you've completely abandoned the topic in order to continue blathering on for almost 500 words proclaiming loudly about how you're totally not obsessed with homosexuality, even though it takes you almost 500 words to express that."

Once again, you've provoked a response from me and now insist that I've abandoned the topic. YOU brought up my so-called obsession. I only set the record straight (no pun intended).

"If, on the other hand, you'd like to return to the topic we were discussing, which is how knowing the context of Scripture doesn't provide any new understanding whatsoever, I'll be happy to mock you about that sort of stupidity too."

My intent, if not properly manifested, was to indicate that not all contextual arguments add to or enhance the words as they are. There are some, such as the notion that "spare the rod" was used to justify smackin' the crap out of your kids. Context and understanding of the original language shows that the "rod" in question was a shepherd's staff (also called a "rod") used, not to beat the crap out of the sheep, but to gently guide them in the intended direction, thereby improving the inference of the verse to be "spare guidance" of the child will spoil him. In this case, the cultural context enhances the meaning of the verse.

My issue has been with what you think is added by other "insights" and whether or not it alters the meaning. "Gates of Hell" references does not change the meaning I had already inferred by a simple reading of the English translation. It's an interesting tidbit of info but largely, if not completely irrelevant. Perhaps you'd like to "mock my stupidity" by demonstrating just how that tidbit has enhanced your understanding of Jesus' statement regarding Peter.

"Now, hump MA! Dance monkey boy, dance!"

More "grace" from Alan that goes unchecked by the host who insists upon it. Was there anything at all in Alan's last that justified overlooking this classless and unnecessary utterance? Be clear. I can take his childish prattle. I simply consider the source. But Dan is proving again how subjective he is in determining what is or isn't graciousness in the comments of his visitors. Not the least bit surprising.

Alan said...

Some cheese to go with that whine, MA?

Marshall Art said...

Now I'm whining. Whatever.