Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jesus and Reason

Sunflowers Sky by paynehollow
Sunflowers Sky, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

In the previous post, the point was raised that Jesus often cited Scripture in support of his points. And, of course, he did. I found one source that suggested that Jesus cited Scripture up to 78 times. Another source says 180 times.

No doubt, Jesus often did so. Now, does his frequency of citing Scripture suggest that this means that Jesus, therefore, called Scripture the Primary Source (or, the SOLE source) for knowledge about God? No, of course not. That suggestion doesn't follow. It COULD be the case, but the text does not demand or really even suggest it. It just doesn't.

But that got me to thinking: How often did Jesus cite other sources of knowledge?

For instance, in the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man lowered through the roof of a house, we find this exchange...

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”


In that story, Jesus does not respond to the Pharisees charge with Scripture, but with real world reasoning. "Which is easier, to say 'your sins are forgiven' or to say 'walk...'?"

It's a simple rational argument in response to accusations of violating their interpretations of Scripture.

Or consider another response to Pharisees complaining (and note: they were complaining because Jesus was violating THEIR UNDERSTANDING of Scripture)...

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”


Again, no scriptures offered in response, just simple real world reasoning.

Same point in this story (again, with the Pharisees raising objections to Jesus' behavior...)

They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”

Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”


Simple real world reasoning.

Jesus goes on to tell a parable...

He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

In fact, as we all know, Jesus told many parables - simple stories usually featuring real world, natural circumstances to illustrate a point, to make a case.

Parable upon parable, offering natural world observation and learning about God given real world situations and observations...

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?


Three real world observations and analogies in a row. Pow, pow, pow.

"Consider the lilies of the field..."

"Consider the birds of the air..."

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

And not just the parables, his teachings are jammed with these sorts of observations, illustrations and analogies...

Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”


Simple real world reasoning. Using our/his God-given reasoning. Appealing to God's Word, written upon our hearts.

I'll close with one more, another instance of a Pharisee being self-righteously indignant that Jesus was not abiding by their interpretation of the Law...

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.


Simple real world reasoning. Natural world observations and illustrations. Over and over and over.

Does that mean that I think God is telling us that Reason is the Sole Source - or even just The Primary Source - for knowledge about God? No, God hasn't said that to me and I'm not going to claim God has. But clearly, folk who value what the Bible says can acknowledge how important real world reasoning and observations were to Jesus.

46 comments:

Bubba said...

Dan, I notice that you seem to think the Bible is the authoritative record of Jesus' words and deeds. Huh.

That phrase "Son of Man" is an unusual one. I wonder where it originally came from.

And a look at nature doesn't actually make it clear that God cares for the birds and feeds them; there are no miraculous bird feeders, and I must have seen three or four dead birds this summer, in the park behind work. No, the principle is most clearly taught elsewhere.

"Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?" - God answers Job, Job 38:41

"[The Lord] gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry." - Ps 147:9

You write, "clearly, folk who value what the Bible says can acknowledge how important real world reasoning and observations were to Jesus."

Jesus never explicitly said anything about the subjects of reason and observation, and you feel free to INFER that they were important to Him.

But, at the same time, you trumpet the fact that Jesus never explicitly said that Scripture is uniquely authoritative.

All He did was affirm its lasting authority to the smallest penstroke, appeal to its teachings in resolving theological disputes -- repeatedly saying, literally, it STANDS written -- and point to where Scripture predicted His life, death, resurrection, and ministry.

Oh, and He criticized the Pharisees for disregarding God's word in favor of mere human tradition, while simultaneously equating what God said with what Moses said.

But from all that, there's no real reason to infer that Scripture is without rivals when it comes to authoritatively preserving God's special revelation to man.

"That suggestion doesn't follow. It COULD be the case, but the text does not demand or really even suggest it. It just doesn't."

Sure, right.

Would that you spent even half the energy you expend trying to undermine the authority of Scripture, to obey your Lord in His attitude to Scripture.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I notice that you seem to think the Bible is the authoritative record of Jesus' words and deeds.

Of course, I do. Never said otherwise. That I have pointed out that Scripture doesn't make a claim to an Understanding Hierarchy with the Bible at top and everything else below it does not mean that I don't recognize the value of the Bible. In fact, it is BECAUSE I value the Bible that I'm not willing to say it says things it doesn't say.

you feel free to INFER that they were important to Him.

Yes, I DAN TRABUE, make inferences about what the Bible says and what it means. I've never said that's a bad thing.

What I object to is the conflation of OUR opinions with God's Word. Therefore, there's nothing unusual in me offering MY OPINION about what a text means, the only problem would be if I claimed that MY OPINION was the Only God-Approved Opinion on the topic. But I don't do that.

you trumpet the fact that Jesus never explicitly said that Scripture is uniquely authoritative.

Indeed, he didn't. Neither did he even hint at Scripture as "the decider." And because I value the Bible, I'm not willing to say it says something it doesn't say or that it hints at something I don't see it hinting at.

If YOU think it hints at something, feel free to offer YOUR OPINION that it hints at that. Just don't conflate your opinion with God's Word...

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

He criticized the Pharisees for disregarding God's word in favor of mere human tradition

Yes, indeed, they took the TEXT of Scripture and READ INTO IT something it didn't say. Jesus criticized that, rightly so. They conflated their interpretations with God's Word. It's a bad idea.

Bubba...

Would that you spent even half the energy you expend trying to undermine the authority of Scripture, to obey your Lord in His attitude to Scripture.

Again, as I've pointed out, it's BECAUSE I value the Bible that I stand opposed to those who'd undermine Scripture by conflating their opinions with God's Word. That's a DEFENSE of Scripture, not an undermining of it.

Bubba, one simple question: Is your opinion on SS YOUR opinion, or is it God's Word?

Marshall Art said...

This is nonsense, Dan. As Bubba suggested in the last post, you have worked very hard to make the entire 66 books absolutely meaningless if one cannot ever KNOW something absolutely about what Scripture might say on the subject.

The fact of the matter is that every verse has an intended meaning. The meanings only become mysteriously difficult to fathom, only become subjective, only become debatable, when one decides to add or subtract from those verses, as you do with the "laying up treasures" bit, for example.

Bubba said...

Dan, even a simple question can have serious implications, and I believe your line of questioning has very serious implications for the idea that Christian orthodoxy DOES have doctrinal boundaries revealed by God.

Do you think there are ANY doctrines that we can KNOW to be essential from God's revelation and not mere human tradition?

Consciously writing with the authority of a hand-picked apostle of Jesus Christ Himself, Paul claimed that our faith is in vain if Christ was not raised. Can we thus conclude that GOD HAS REVEALED that the Resurrection is an essential doctrine of the faith?

Writing with the same apostolic authority, John claimed that those who denied that Jesus came in the flesh do so only from a spirit of antichrist. Can we thus conclude that GOD HAS REVEALED that the Incarnation is an essential doctrine of the faith?

Your position seems to be that we can draw no such conclusion unless the Bible contained an explicit teaching like, "God has revealed that these following doctrines are essential," even though A) the Bible, specifically, never pretends to be a catechism or a book of systematic theology and B) in general, communication doesn't require the speaker to make explicit literally every single logical consequence of his message.

The only obvious exception is the very formal and artificial verbiage of modern legal documents, where people feel the need to spell out everything so as to protect themselves from bad-faith arguments like yours.

...and we're back to my example of the schoolkid who ignores the clear implications of his mother's instructions so he can do what he wants.

--

Now, to be sure, we should indeed be careful in making sure that the inferences we draw are the only reasonably possible implications from a given statement or set of statements.

For me, it's not enough to notice that an implication isn't explicitly stated and could therefore be challenged by an equally persuasive (or even more persuasive) alternative. I MUST SEE THAT RIVAL ALTERNATIVE before I will downgrade my position from "natural, obvious, and necessary implication of God's revealed word" to "mere human interpretation."

You seem to be saying, that Jesus affirmed the lasting authority of Scripture to the smallest penstroke, that Jesus repeatedly pointed to Scripture in solving controversies, saying (literally) "it stands written, and that Jesus equated what Moses said with what God said, and yet it's possible that He saw it as only one revelation among many.

Since that conclusion strikes me as ludicrous on its face, I think it's quite reasonable to conclude that Scripture is uniquely authoritative.

--

We go back to Mark 7, and I don't think you realize how much Jesus' words line up with my position.

About the Pharisees, you write:

"Yes, indeed, they took the TEXT of Scripture and READ INTO IT something it didn't say. Jesus criticized that, rightly so. They conflated their interpretations with God's Word. It's a bad idea."

It's a bad idea, and where did Jesus go to find God's word? Did He suggest that it's some ephemeral thing, revealed piecemeal through all sorts of means, and we're on our own to figure it out?

Or did He not point to what Moses said, as if Moses' words are God's words?

Doesn't that point to the unique authority of Scripture, on the question of revelation versus tradition?

Dan Trabue said...

I think I'll pass on answering any further questions from you until you answer my questions, Bubba and Marshall.

But a few comments, nonetheless...

...and we're back to my example of the schoolkid who ignores the clear implications of his mother's instructions so he can do what he wants.

I agree and think you should quit ignoring the implications of your Mother.

Bubba...

For me, it's not enough to notice that an implication isn't explicitly stated and could therefore be challenged by an equally persuasive (or even more persuasive) alternative. I MUST SEE THAT RIVAL ALTERNATIVE

I've pointed out the alternative repeatedly. In the question, Does Scripture teach that the 66 Books get a priority status in an Understanding Hierarchy in ways we know God? You are arguing, yes, while the Bible does not say that, I BUBBA think it implies it.

The alternative is the more literal and direct: No. The Bible does not say that, nor does it hint at it.

It just isn't there. Not literally, not figuratively, not even HINTED at.

Now, IF you want to argue that, EVEN THOUGH the Bible doesn't teach it or even HINT at it, that it seems reasonable TO ME, BUBBA/MARSHALL, that we NEED one of the sources to be "the decider" and it seems reasonable TO ME, BUBBA/MARSHALL, that it should be the Bible... if you want to argue that, that is entirely fine with me. One could reason out such a case using one's own reason, even if not using the Bible's direct teaching.

I have no problem with you making that case from your own reasoning. BUT you should be clear that it IS your opinion (along with Calvin and many other - but not all - Christians) and not something that God has told us.

THAT is my main point/concern. That some people think it's okay, NOT ONLY to reason out some extrabiblical conclusion, but THEN to turn around and suggest that this extrabiblical opinion is equal in weight to God's Word, THAT is a problem.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

We go back to Mark 7, and I don't think you realize how much Jesus' words line up with my position.

About the Pharisees, you write:

"Yes, indeed, they took the TEXT of Scripture and READ INTO IT something it didn't say. Jesus criticized that, rightly so. They conflated their interpretations with God's Word. It's a bad idea."

It's a bad idea, and where did Jesus go to find God's word?


Similarly, I don't think you understand how much Jesus' words condemn your position.

Consider, they READ INTO the Scripture something that wasn't literally there. And WHERE did Jesus go to find the Scriptures? The Scriptures. And WHAT did Jesus do? He said, "What you say the Scriptures say, THEY DON'T SAY."

Bubba, the Scriptures JUST DON'T SAY what you're reading into it. Like the Pharisees, you are not only forming an extrabiblical hunch ("yeah, it seems this way TO ME), BUT you're insisting that it is THE God-Approved hunch and that you can't disagree with your extrabiblical hunch without disagreeing with ESSENTIAL Christian doctrine.

And like Jesus, I'm telling you: What you read into it, that JUST ISN'T there, dear friend. It just isn't.

Hold it as an opinion for yourself, all you want. Say it makes reasonable sense to you and reason your way to that all you want, just don't conflate your opinion with God's Word or say that, contrary to anything the Bible says, that it is an essential Christian tenet according to God.

God has not told you that.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

you have worked very hard to make the entire 66 books absolutely meaningless if one cannot ever KNOW something absolutely about what Scripture might say on the subject.

1. I have quite specifically NOT worked very hard to make the 66 meaningless. I find incredible meaning and am always finding more and more, praise be to God. Factually, then, you are mistaken.

2. That I don't know absolutely everything about something, of course it doesn't mean that it becomes meaningless. I don't understand everything about electricity, but I understand enough to be able to flip a switch, and that is incredibly meaningful.

I have no idea what you are trying to say there, but it doesn't seem reasonable thus far.

Marshall...

The fact of the matter is that every verse has an intended meaning. The meanings only become mysteriously difficult to fathom, only become subjective, only become debatable, when one decides to add or subtract from those verses

Okay, so every verse has an "intended meaning..." The Bible doesn't say that, but I'll accept it as far as it goes, I'm not really debating that.

And on the matter of, for instance, "the Bible being the Sole Source for deciding things," every verse in the Bible, if you look at them, no where say that. It never calls the Bible the "trump card" or the "decider." It never hints at it. Those words have meaning and I don't see how one can reasonably find that even hinted at in those words.

You all apparently disagree.

On whose authority is YOUR interpretation the "right one," approved by God? OR, can you freely admit what I admit - that my opinions are MY opinions and that I don't speak for God, especially on topics God has not told me God's position on?

Or do you dare to presume to speak for God something God has never said?

Do you not find that a bit arrogant? Maybe even blasphemous, to put yourself in the place of God, like that?

Marshall Art said...

Folks who understand the Bible would not be so bold as to presume that their reasoning and observations are as flawless and perfect as those of Jesus. When Jesus makes all those observations, He is not without some God-like insights that none of us have. To take all of your examples and pretend that supports your position of using reason as somehow an equally dependable source of revelation as Scripture is outlandishly presumptuous. Those stories are evidence of His wisdom and you desperately choose to use them as examples, as if you have the same level of ability as Jesus to observe and reason.

The great irony here (I know how much you like irony) is your statements regarding reading into Scripture what isn't there. This coming from a guy who thinks he finds license in Scripture for homosexual relationships. At the same time, we have answered your question with numerous examples of where Scripture speaks of its own superior value as a source of revelation, by virtue of Biblical characters (Jesus, Paul, etc) encouraging its use for that purpose. I don't know what other question of yours has been left unanswered.

Meanwhile, you do nothing with the examples we've provided except to disagree with our use of them as proofs you demanded. No reason or argument for why they fail, just your dismissal. The several Jesus examples of this post do not diminish our position whatsoever simply because they are stories of how Jesus deals with situations without references to Scripture. But again, that's Jesus, the Son of God, who has a bit more on the ball than any of us.

While we use reason to understand Scripture, and thus to understand as best we can what God meant to reveal to us, what you're arguing is really something different. You're simply arguing that we are wrong and by doing so, you can yourself continue to READ INTO Scripture what isn't there, but claim your conclusions are based on reasoned study. But you invalidate this claim by so often leaving out relevant sections of passages, verses and sentences to come to your conclusions. Conclusions that are skewed and/or altered by the removal of those omitted sections.

I mention this because of the clear difference in how we each argue against the position of the other. I argue, for example, against your position based on "do not lay up treasures" by showing the entire verse or passage or parable that by doing so preaches an entirely different lesson than what only "do not lay up treasures" does.

But when you must deal with, say our examples of Scripture far more than merely hinting about its own superior position as a source of revelation, you run with "hunches", and "on whose authority must I buy into your interpretation?" and such.

We don't conflate our opinion with God's word. We relate God's word as it is written and await an alternative opinion that comes with Scripture to back it up. As Bubba said in not so many words, we need something to convince us of a better understanding or proof that we are just plain wrong. That's a whole lot different than what you like to portray.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"Hold it as an opinion for yourself, all you want. Say it makes reasonable sense to you and reason your way to that all you want, just don't conflate your opinion with God's Word or say that, contrary to anything the Bible says, that it is an essential Christian tenet according to God."

NAME ONE doctrine that is "an essential Christian tenet according to God," show us where God said so, and show how this proof meets your exacting standards for truth that is explicit rather than implicit.

Dan Trabue said...

Tell me On Whose Authority you believe your position stands, and I will address your question.

If you refuse to answer the question, then I think we can let it stand as is obvious: Your only authority is, "It's my opinion and the opinion of those who've gone before me and who agree with me..."

And that is fine, that's certainly the case for me, as well. There is NOTHING wrong with that answer.

BUT, if you think that the answer is, "God agrees with me... and therefore, GOD is my authority," that is problematic.

But your unwillingness to answer directly this simple and pertinent question calls into question your basic approach to this discussion.

Marshall...

you do nothing with the examples we've provided except to disagree with our use of them as proofs you demanded.

How many times and in how many ways do you want me to go through your examples and point out that what you say isn't there?

The passage that YOU quote, 2 Tim 3...

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is God breathed...

Okay, we can agree with that, Scripture is inspired by God.

Does it follow NECESSARILY then, that, "All Scripture is inspired AND THEREFORE, when it comes to settling disputes, it is the decider?"

No, it simply does not.

"scripture is useful for teaching, etc..."

Again, I agree WITH THE TEXT. But, does it follow, then, that "Scripture is useful for teaching, AND THEREFORE, it is the 'decider...'"?

No, it simply does not.

"All scripture prepares followers for every good work..."

Again, I agree with the TEXT. But, does it follow that, Scripture is, therefore, "the decider..."? No, it doesn't.

I don't know what else to say but that what you say is NOT there and, if you want to guess that it might be the case anyway, that is fine. AS LONG AS you make it clear that it is your opinion and does not come as God's Word from your mouth to our ears.

What would it take to demonstrate to you that what you say isn't there?

There also isn't any mention or hint of unicorns, pink and purple talking dinosaurs or striped helicopters that run on burps in the text. None at all. What would it take to prove to you that those aren't there?

Bubba said...

Dan:

"Tell me On Whose Authority you believe your position stands, and I will address your question."

1) I've ADDRESSED your question repeatedly, by explaining my objection to it.

Once again:

My concern is that a consistent application of your approach wouldn't just cause us to see that SOME beliefs aren't really essential: it would cause us to conclude that ALL beliefs are inessential.

With the approach you're using, the issue isn't where we draw the line between essential and optional, but whether we have a line at all.

Don't just try to cajole me into to answering your question; explain why my objection to it is unfounded.


What you want is for me to "answer" your quesiton (your word), the least you could do is promise to "answer" mine rather than merely "address" it.

Beyond that:

2) I didn't ask a question in my last comment.

--

What "we" can let stand as obvious is the sort of presumption that you would decry as putting words in your mouth if "we" were to do the same to you.

Your presumption is also built on a false dilemma of "it's my opinion" or "God agrees with me," as if there are no other possibilities. There are.

I could be just as self-serving in drawing conclusions about why you insist on this oh-so-reasonable question, ignoring all objections to it.

I could draw an awful lot of negative implications from your refusal to respond to this:

"NAME ONE doctrine that is 'an essential Christian tenet according to God,' show us where God said so, and show how this proof meets your exacting standards for truth that is explicit rather than implicit."

Fortunately, I don't have to infer a thing. In trying to speak for me, you speak volumes about yourself.

"If you refuse to answer the question, then I think we can let it stand as is obvious: Your only authority is, 'It's my opinion and the opinion of those who've gone before me and who agree with me...'

"And that is fine, that's certainly the case for me, as well. There is NOTHING wrong with that answer.
" [emphasis mine]

I see.

All your beliefs are Dan's opinion only.

(I'll have to keep that in mind the next time you lecture others about how God opposes something-or-other.)

Do you believe there are ANY essential doctrines that stand on God's authority?

BY YOUR OWN WORDS, evidently not.

So on the subject of whether sola scriptura is essential, I'm not arguing with someone who holds that at least SOME doctrines are essential, I'm arguing with someone who denies all doctrines as essential.

That's very good to know.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I've ADDRESSED your question repeatedly, by explaining my objection to it.

Once again:

My concern is that a consistent application of your approach wouldn't just cause us to see that SOME beliefs aren't really essential: it would cause us to conclude that ALL beliefs are inessential.


I get that this is your concern. The problem is this, Bubba...

IF I say, "I hold these opinions about these topics: That people shouldn't drive cars, that people should not invest money and that people should not kill their enemies..." and I clarify that these are MY opinions and I think they make a good deal of sense; that they comply with sound biblical and logical thinking and, therefore, this is how I will live my life. I think they are, by and large, good rules to apply in most of our lives and would argue my rational and biblical case as to why with anyone who'd care to discuss the topic, why I think it makes sense of what we know about morality and about God...

If I express my opinion thusly, then it is clear that it is MY opinion about morality and about God and my belief system and we can hold a rational discussion about the various merits and negatives of my case.

IF, on the other hand, I say, "THIS IS GOD'S WILL, from my lips to your ears, about what GOD WANTS on these topics... that we MUST consider God as a Triune God, that we MUST consider the Bible to have top billing in an Understanding Hierarchy (with the Bible being the "decider" on debatable points), and that we MUST hold to a fairly literal Penal Substitutionary Theory of Atonement... and if you DISAGREE with these points, then you are outside of Christianity and not holding to God's Will on these questions...

That THIS is an entirely different claim. It elevates our opinions about what God wants to a point EQUAL to God's Word. IF that is the argument we are making, THEN it is an entirely reasonable and ESSENTIAL question to ask, "ON WHOSE AUTHORITY would we make such a claim?" and "On WHAT BASIS would we make such a claim?"

If we are stating that our opinions are not our opinions, but God's Will, then it is an entirely reasonable question to ask and it MUST be answered in a rational discussion.

Consider: IF I say, "I can marry as many women as I want and I can obtain these wives by kidnapping the virgin daughters of my enemies, after I kill them. I say so based on the Authority of God's Word and thus, I speak on behalf of God on this point. To disagree with my opinion is to disagree with Christianity and with God..." then reasonable people will say, "SAYS WHO?"

Just because someone makes a claim does not mean the claim is valid.

It is a VITAL question to answer IF you are conflating your opinion with God's Will.

IF, on the other hand, you are gladly admitting, "This is my opinion and I think it is an important one because..." well fine, I have no argument there. But it is essential that we understand the difference between speaking for ourselves about what WE THINK God wants and speaking on behalf of God what God has not said.

Again, this was the folly of the Pharisees.

Bubba said...

Dan:

Because you've made it clear long ago that you believe that Christ's death was NOT the means of our salvation and was only a symbol of saving grace, you don't seem to affirm any theory of atonement at all, but that's beside the point.

You've mentioned some doctrines that you do NOT attribute to God's revealed message to man: sola scriptura, the atonement, and even the Trinity.

What you haven't done is list even A SINGLE DOCTRINE that you would actually attribute to God.

You're not addressing my concern, Dan. You're continuing to argue for why your question is "entirely reasonable," but your not actually allaying the concern I have that your reasoning leads to downgrading all doctrines as merely human and therefore inessential.

Imagine there's a basket labeled "Essential Christian doctrines, as revealed by God."

I suspect your approach leads to an empty basket.

You're not addressing that suspicion by showing me what other doctrines you would discard.

Tell me one doctrine you would leave in that basket, and show me how you know that doctrine came from God.

Then AND ONLY THEN does it make sense to evaluate the doctrine of sola scriptura, because then AND ONLY THEN would we have seen your oh-so-reasonable standards already in action.

Bubba said...

It's a shame that this discussion happens exclusively online, with us separated by hundreds or thousands of miles.

If we were arguing in person, we could calm down over some pizza or -- better yet -- we could express the solidarity of our faith through corporate worship.

Perhaps we should, at least in spirit, join hands and sing one of those great hymns from childhood, whose simple message must still resonate despite our other differences.

--

Jesus loves me, this I suspect
'Cause of my reason and intellect,
But if I credit God and His word,
I'm being presumptuous and thoroughly absurd.

Does Jesus love me?
Does Jesus love me?
Does Jesus love me?
It makes reasonable sense to me.


--

I feel better already.

Dan Trabue said...

I'd always be glad to meet with anyone, anytime you're in town.

But, since you are entirely unwilling to answer my question, I will not answer yours (technically, I won't answer it again, since I've already answered at least once).

And so, to sum where we are now (best as I can tell because you won't answer a very basic question):

1. Factually speaking, the Bible never affirms a belief in an Understanding Hierarchy, with the Bible at top and everything else secondary.

2. Those who disagree and affirm a Bible as Sole (not really, but sorta) Source for authority, do so by using their HUMAN REASONING to reach an extrabiblical position, thus sort of undermining the whole concept of Bible as Sole Source.

3. It appears that Bubba and Marshall think that they can know for certain because, at least on this point, their reasoning to reach this extrabiblical/non-biblical point is not able to be mistaken.

4. On the rather tenuous authority of their own opinions, then, they would affirm that this SS of Understanding on an Understanding Hierarchy is not only a good opinion, but one that they insist (contrary to any support from Jesus or the Bible) that it is an ESSENTIAL element of Christianity.

5. I would counter that arguing that something is "essential" to Christianity and that is a point that Jesus NEVER taught is sort of presumptuous and perhaps even blasphemous. It would appear that they are putting their opinions in place of God's Word. Even though God's Word never directly says it (in any words - I'm not looking for a direct quote, but something that conveys the idea of this Understanding Hierarchy), nor does it hint at it in any direct way, they are insisting that Jesus believes it is essential to His teachings.

6. I've asked them to affirm/clarify (is it the case that you believe that Jesus teaches this Understanding Hierarchy is essential to his teachings, or is it more of your opinion), but they won't clarify, so I'm left with noting that it APPEARS this is what they are affirming, that their opinion is equal to Jesus' teachings.

7. I'd warn against going there, for that seems the same path that the Pharisees mistakenly took, much to their discredit.

Dan Trabue said...

And Bubba, Marshall, if you all are still unwilling to answer these questions - or at least say why it is NOT essential to your argument that you do answer them - I thank you for the conversation and invite you to move on.

Conversation involves answering reasonable questions, thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

I will address one more angle. Bubba...

You're not addressing my concern, Dan. You're continuing to argue for why your question is "entirely reasonable," but your not actually allaying the concern I have that your reasoning leads to downgrading all doctrines as merely human and therefore inessential.

Your concern, as I hear you expressing it, is that, "IF I answer this question, then my position may suffer in plausibility... that is, IF I have to admit that my position is based on MY understanding of Scripture, and NOT a specific and direct word from God, then I will lack some of the authority that I desire to have..."

If that is your concern, then that is a fear-based concern. If answering a question might reduce your credibility, well, you should STILL answer the question because Truth is what we're seeking, not comfort or ease.

So, unless you can say why you won't answer based on more than "Answering truthfully hurts my argument..." then I expect you to answer the question or move on.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"And Bubba, Marshall, if you all are still unwilling to answer these questions - or at least say why it is NOT essential to your argument that you do answer them - I thank you for the conversation and invite you to move on."

I have repeatedly explained why I object to your line of questioning.

Clearly, you completely misunderstand my objection.

It's most certainly NOT about damage to my position or my credibility, nor is it about "authority that I desire to have."

It's about the God-given boundaries of orthodoxy.

Do you believe that orthodoxy is bound by some God-given doctrines, or not?

Is your position that sola scriptura isn't one of the God-given essentials, or do you believe that THERE ARE NO God-given essentials?

I give you credit enough to hope that you can see the difference rather than seriously believe that my problem could only be "fear-based" self-aggrandizement.

Bubba said...

Dan, about that list:

- Point #2 is something you can no longer claim with any consistency, since, just four days ago, you admitted that you believe Jesus is the supreme authoritative revelation of God but conceded that you cannot point to where Jesus Himself made that claim.

- On point #4, I've never claimed to be standing on my own authority on this issue: I never have, and you have insisted on shoving words in my mouth. It is my belief that some implications are unavoidable, and while you've theorized that maybe somewhere there's an alternative interpretation that's at least as credible, you've never shown us this mythical beast.

- On point #5, I find it interesting that you repeatedly reference God's Word, and you evidently mean the Bible, and that leads directly to my position: the Bible IS God's written revelation, and as such, it is not reasonable to place it alongside (or beneath) any other potential medium of communication available to the post-apostolic church, and it is unbiblical precisely because of the passage you keep invoking to condemn us: Mark 7.

- About point #7, I'd be cautious about the Pharisee accusation, if I were you; their consistent sin was making God's law less rigorous in its demands, it's not clear that theological liberals like you have the edge on that score.

The most important point is that Mark 7 remains one of the passages that support my position.

"And he said to them, 'You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' - Mk 7:9-10, emphasis mine

In this passage, Jesus said two things that are entirely relevant to our discussion.

1) He asserted that God's commandment is more important than human tradition.

2) He equated God's commandment to Scripture, "what Moses said."

From there, it's both easy AND inevitable to conclude that Jesus endorsed Scripture as divine revelation that has primacy over mere human tradition...

--

Couple brief asides:

To be sure, this is -- strictly speaking -- just an affirmation of the Torah, but it's easy enough to find where Jesus affirmed the authority of the rest of Jewish Scripture; starting in verse 6, He endorsed Isaiah.

A separate argument shows that Jesus authorized the Apostles to create new-covenant scripture just as much as He affirmed the old-covenant scripture that was already extant during His ministry, but once one concedes that He equated Moses' and Isaiah's writings with God's word, it's not that hard to show that He set the stage for the same equivalency to be applied to the writings of Peter and Paul.

--

...and I have no qualms in saying that the conclusion is inevitable because the alternatives are prima facie nonsense.

I can use symbols from mathematics to summarize Christ's two relevant claims from Mark 7.

God's commandment > human tradition

God's commandment = what Moses said

Even you can do the math to reach the conclusion from which sola scriptura is a mere generalization:

what Moses said > human tradition

More generally:

the writings that preserve the teachings of the prophets and apostles > human tradition

It's almost like a hierarchy of authority.

Bubba said...

One last thing:

"But, since you are entirely unwilling to answer my question, I will not answer yours (technically, I won't answer it again, since I've already answered at least once)."

Where? PPOR.

Quote it or link to it.

NAME ONE doctrine that is "an essential Christian tenet according to God," show us where God said so, and show how this proof meets your exacting standards for truth that is explicit rather than implicit.

You've mentioned doctrines that you REJECT as essential, God-given doctrines, including the Trinity, but I don't know where you've AFFIRMED a single doctrine as essential and God-given.

Dan Trabue said...

The problem, Bubba, is that your very purpose for NOT answering the (what seems to me to be) required question of our position is that that purpose, itself, begs the very question you're trying to avoid. Let me try this another time, another way, raising a question begged by another one of your questions...

Bubba...

It's about the God-given boundaries of orthodoxy.

Where specifically does God teach us that God gives us boundaries of orthodoxy?

And what boundaries specifically does God give us?

Bubba said...

Those are great questions that seem to restate my "NAME ONE doctrine" challenge to you.


How would you answer these two questions?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I've never claimed to be standing on my own authority on this issue: I never have, and you have insisted on shoving words in my mouth.

Well, as I've clearly stated, this is how it SEEMS.

As I clearly stated, I've repeatedly ASKED for some clarification, so by all means, tell me, Bubba:

ON WHOSE AUTHORITY would you make this claim, if not your own?

You can't dodge the claim ("I never made that claim") and simultaneously refuse to clarify with a direct answer to a simple question (IF it's not on your own authority, then on WHOSE authority?), not and be taken seriously and I am trying oh so hard to take you seriously.

Dan Trabue said...

sigh...

Bubba...

How would you answer these two questions?

IF I answer, will YOU answer? I have to rather doubt it, given your petulant history, but to show you how easy it is...

Where specifically does God teach us that God gives us boundaries of orthodoxy?

God has NOT specifically given us boundaries of orthodoxy. God has NOT said, "Here are the essentials of Christianity."

This is a simple, observable fact.

And what boundaries specifically does God give us?

"Boundaries for orthodox Christianity?" "Essentials of Christianity?"

God has not given us any. Observably, factually speaking, that has not happened. Not in the Bible, not in Bubba's head, nor in my head, God has not specifically given us a list, "HERE is what Christendom means..."

One can make the argument that the biblical writers have hinted at bits and pieces of this. For instance, John speaks this truth, "Those who love are of God... those who don't love are not of God..."

So, one could make the case that a boundary of Christian orthodoxy is that we are to love, as God loves.

But God has not specifically told us that, that is a human reasoning. One that probably most of us think is reasonable, from our human perspective.

But God has not specifically told us that.

One could argue, similarly, that similar ethical breaches are beyond "God's Kingdom" and make the reasonable conclusion that these ethical breaches are beyond Christian ethics.

But God has never given us a list of Christian essentials.

Especially, once you move away from ethical behavior type questions to more ethereal, dogma sorts of questions, God has never said, Here's my list of essentials: Trinity, virgin birth, sola scriptura and PSA.

Hasn't happened.

Now that I've shown you how to answer a simple question in a direct manner, your turn.

Answer the questions or get your hell out of here.

Marshall Art said...


"It is a VITAL question to answer IF you are conflating your opinion with God's Will."

This statement suggests a great part of the problem between us. I don't conflate my opinion with God's will. I BASE my opinion on God's will. You just prefer to see it the wrong way so as to diminish my position.

But I'll answer the question by saying that it is on Scripture's authority that you should see it the same way because that is what Scripture says.

Between Bubba and myself, we've listed many verses where the importance of Scripture is more than lightly implied, far more than merely hinted. I even offered a link in one of my last two comments in the previous thread that I'm guessing you never even accessed. It contains about fourteen citations (though one I myself find questionable). And still you pretend there's no Biblical suggestion of its own status of importance.

Throughout, you have employed a variation of the Bill Clinton defense, tap-dancing over the definition of "is". Of course noting is more childish in your style than insisting the specific words must have appeared in some specific order that suits DAN TRABUE, before any concession on your part is possible. Hardly gracious. Hardly honest. But very much worth it in order to see Bubba's parody that totally describes your style to a TEE.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, about that link, Marshall, it begins right off the top by saying...

If a doctrine cannot be found within the covers of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, then it can be safely rejected, your salvation does not depend on it.

And thus, IF Sola Scriptura is NOT found within the covers of the 66, by its OWN reasoning, it can be safely rejected. Which goes back to my initial point: It is a self-defeating argument.

The author of that page goes on to cite Augustine as the originator of SS (Augustine, in the 5th Century, NOT Scripture, NOT the early church), quoting him as saying...

This mediator [Jesus Christ], first through the Prophets, then by his own lips, afterwards through the Apostles, revealed whatever he considered necessary.

And how do we know this? That they revealed "whatever he considered necessary..."? Is that found in Scripture?

No. Self-defeating.

So, what case do they make at that website?

They cite verse after verse which literally commend for us the value of scripture, but NOT ONE which says Scripture is UNIQUELY the "decider" over all other means. For instance, they cite John...

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


This passage says that these things (the record of Jesus and his teachings - which do not ONE TIME mention or hint at SS) have been written so you can know and believe in Jesus and I, too affirm what it literally says. BUT, because I value Scripture, I'm not willing to affirm MORE than it says, and I'm certainly not going to affirm a guess about more than it says as being "essential," when clearly it is extrabiblical eisegesis, not literal teaching.

They also cite Jesus in Matthew, saying...

Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.


And indeed, it IS good to heed Jesus' teachings, and Jesus NEVER TAUGHT that Scripture is the Sole Decider and "Holy Trump Card." The text is not there textually or contextually.

"The ROCK" in that text refers to JESUS, not to Scripture, and certainly not OUR INTERPRETATIONS of Scripture.

I could go on, but they're all more of the same. Verse after verse that affirms Scripture, or holy teachings, but none which demand SS of the 66 Books. At the very best, you could say some of these verses MIGHT hint at it, if you read it that way.

So, returning to your comment, Marshall...

I don't conflate my opinion with God's will. I BASE my opinion on God's will.

Me, too, or at least I strive to by God's grace. But here you and I are, looking at some of the same passages and drawing different conclusions. That reality DEMANDS an answer: On what basis would either of us INSIST that OUR interpretation is "God's Will..."? Says who?

Bubba said...

Dan, I have answered numerous questions from you in the most direct manner possible; because I object to one line of questioning does not mean I don't know how to answer questions, nor does it mean I'm being petulant in objecting.

I appreciate your quick and fairly clear answers, and I'm happy to answer the same questions in return.

"Where specifically does God teach us that God gives us boundaries of orthodoxy?"

In the inexorable implications of a few specific sections of the Bible, and while I won't attempt a comprehensive list -- I'll reiterate that the Bible never pretends to present a catechism or systematic theology -- I will give you five of the most obvious examples.

1) Matthew 22:37-40, cf. Mark 12:29-31. Here, in Mt 22, Jesus asserts that the Law and the Prophets depend on the two great commandments; since He had already affirmed, in Mt 5, that the Law will outlast creation, then surely the ethical commands -- and the principles that undergird them -- are essential.

2) John 3:18. I believe that punctuation is missing from the earliest manuscripts, so here either Jesus is continuing His talk with Nicodemus, or the Apostle John is expounding on Jesus' teaching that (3:15) "whoever believes" in the Son of Man "may have eternal life." Either way, the claim is clearly made in this verse that whoever does NOT believe "is condemned already," meaning that belief is essential for salvation.

3) I Corinthians 15:12-19. Here, the Apostle Paul outlines the very grave consequences that result if Christ wasn't raised from the dead and there is no general resurrection of the dead: the Apostles' preaching is in vain and is even perjurious; the believers' faith is in vain, we are still in our sins, and we are to be most pitied; and believers who have already died have truly perished.

4) Galatians 1:8-9. Here, Paul twice pronounces a solemn curse on those who would preach a different gospel, and so the contents of the gospel is essential -- the "gospel of Christ" as he puts it in 1:7, because He is its Author and Sbject; or "my gospel" as he puts it in Rom 2:16 and 16:25, because Paul is one of its apostolic guardians and expositors. The most important details of this gospel are made abundantly clear elsewhere in these two letters, in Rom 3:21-25 and Gal 2:15-21.

5) I John 4:2-3. Here, the Apostle John explains the literally diabolic source of the claim that Jesus Christ has not come in the flesh: the spirit who makes that claim isn't from God and is the spirit of the antichrist.

In these passages, the indispensable importance of the issue at-hand is made clear, either in the positive affects of the Biblical teaching...

- all of the Law and the Prophets depend on these commands

...or, more frequently, in the dire consequences of deviating

- the unbeliever is condemned already

- the apostles' preaching is in vain, and the believers' faith is in vain

- "let him be accursed"

- the spirit that makes that claim is the antichrist

It is incomprehensible gibberish to affirm what these passages affirm but to deny that the affirmation is essential.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

"And what boundaries specifically does God give us?"

Again, I won't be comprehensive, but TEN doctrinal boundaries should be clear from the list above.

1-a) Theism: the duty to love God is incoherent if God doesn't exist.

1-b) Monotheism: in Mark 12, Jesus quotes the shema.

1-c) the primary ethical duty to God.

1-d) the ethical duty to one's neighbors.

2) salvation received by faith in Christ; John 14:6 makes clear that salvation is exclusively through Christ.

3-a) the resurrection of Christ.

3-b) the general resurrection of the dead.

4-a) the gospel of salvation, specifically by grace alone; Gal 2:21 teaches that a works-based salvation nullifies God's grace

4-b) the gospel of salvation, specifically through Christ's death alone; Gal 2:21 ALSO teaches that a works-based salvation means that Christ died for no purpose.

5) the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

All of this is very standard stuff -- no "majoring on the minors" such as baptism strictly by immersion -- and it's clearly based on God's revelation through Christ and His Apostles, not through the church's merely human speculation.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Having given my answers, I must now say that your answers confirm my quite reasonable suspicion that you deny that there are God-given essentials to Christian orthodoxy.

"God has NOT specifically given us boundaries of orthodoxy."

Okay, it's not that you affirm that there are God-given essentials but balk at sola scriptura: you deny ALL God-given essentials, and so I conclude that no serious Christian should be all that shaken by your objections to the belief that sola scriptura is based on revelation.

--

"God has NOT said, 'Here are the essentials of Christianity.'"

"God has not specifically given us a list, 'HERE is what Christendom means...'"

These sort of narrow-minded demands are part of the reason I have found your question so ridiculous, "On Whose Authority," and so forth.

I claim no special authority to determine God's revelation, in the sense of deciding what He has said, but like any other responsible and rational adult I'm competent to determine it in the sense of discerning that which, in His grace, God wishes to make abundantly clear to us His creatures.

You once asked, "On whose authority MUST we consider your interpretation an essential and my interpretation NOT an essential?"

We prefer one interpretation over another NOT because of the authority of the interpreter, but because of the plausibility of his argument. We let the positions themselves fight it out in the arena of ideas; you think your interpretation is plausible, but we'll just have to agree to disagree.

(Our disagreement on John 16:13 shows how one challenges an interpretation on the merits, by my offering a more plausible interpretation based on the actual text, not by supposing that your asserting for yourself some sort of authority to interpret ex cathedra.)

And while we disagree, we're under no obligation to extend the hand of Christian fellowship to everyone who claims to be a Christian.

I'll tell you this, Dan:

If you feel free to sling around the accusation of Pharasaism, you have very little room at all to complain about those who conclude that your beliefs drift from orthodoxy to, well, something else.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Again, I claim no special authority.

I defer to the Creator, who I believe revealed Himself first as Yahweh and supremely as Jesus Christ, and I defer to the prophets and apostles who Christ Himself endorsed.

Because Christ is at the Father's right hand and we do not enjoy the presence of any living prophet or apostle, I thus defer to the written record of the teachings of the prophets and apostles -- the Bible, for which there is no real rival.

In various other and lesser degrees, I defer to other authorities in other matters, and I take the same rational approach to the messages given by all of them, an approach that I do believe is largely universal.

I DO NOT insist that any authority figure be exhaustive to the Nth degree in his communications, spelling out literally every implication that I'm supposed to accept.

I'm not like the famously "brain-damaged" children described in Bill Cosby: Himself, who have to be told to use soap and water when their parents tell them to take a bath.

And, I DO NOT become paralyzed by the thought that some alternative interpretation might exist that is superior to my own, especially when I cannot conceive of such an alternative and haven't come across it personally.

In reading recipes and furniture instructions, at some point I accept as an unproven (and unprovable) assertion that my interpretation is -- in the absence of a better alternative -- good enough, and I act on my interpretation.

As with all other sources of admittedly lesser authority, I allow that, IN ITS FINITUDE, normal communication cannot be so exhaustive that inference is rendered unnecessary, nor can it be so unambiguous that it precludes even theoretical controversies in interpretation.

In using language to communicate to His finite creatures, even the perfect and infinite God isn't required to convey a truly exhaustive and thoroughly unambiguous message.

What I really don't get is your apparent insistence to the contrary.

On whose authority do YOU dare insist on how explicit God must be in His revelation? On whose authority do YOU dare reject the responsibility to draw reasonable inferences and accept them as authoritative, absent any compelling alternatives?

"Not in the Bible, not in Bubba's head, nor in my head, God has not specifically given us a list, 'HERE is what Christendom means...'"

Who on earth are you to insist that God couldn't reveal His doctrinal boundaries to us except in this specific formula?

I don't expect an answer. I don't even expect you to give the question any serious thought, but you should know that you're utterly transparent.

I encourage you to think deeply about that greatest commandment. Jesus commands us to love God "with all your mind."

I doubt you will be kindly judged for turning off part of your brain to ignore the inexorable implications of His revealed word, on the flimsy excuse that they don't meet your precise formula.

Since I've received the answer to the question I repeatedly posed and responded with everything I wished to say, I'll bow out.

I'll see you around, even though, if we never do cross swords again, it'll probably be too soon.

Marshall Art said...

"If a doctrine cannot be found within the covers of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, then it can be safely rejected, your salvation does not depend on it."

Well, that's the discussion, isn't it? But like Bubba says so well, you're in denial as long as Scripture does not present a doctrine in just the way that pleases YOU. All the examples herein provided, in total, lead to the conclusion that SS is far more likely than not. It is evidence far more tangible and direct than for any you've ever put forth for either support of SSM or your position on economics. But because, in this case, there is nothing that refers to God saying, "I, the Lord your God, state unequivocally that SS is my doctrine for you and is thereby a Christian essential!" you suppose the concept is impossible, unlikely and not even hinted. Indeed. To paraphrase Donald Fagan, the things that pass for reason in your case I can't understand.

Dan Trabue said...

Before carrying on, some definitions might be helpful.

Imply vs Infer, for instance...

IMPLY = to put the suggestion into the message (sender implies)

INFER = to take the suggestion out of the message (receiver infers)

The best way to remember the difference between these two words is to think in terms of the model used by communications theorists. Communication consists of a message, a sender, and a receiver. The sender can imply, but the receiver can only infer. The error that usually occurs is that the word infer is mistakenly used for imply.


(From Grammartips.homestead.com)

Or, Oxford Dictionary notes...

Someone who implies a fact, belief, or opinion seeks to convey this information but it is up to the person receiving the information to interpret it.
Infer

When someone infers something, they reach a conclusion or decide that something is true on the basis of the evidence available.


Thus, when someone says "the text IMPLIES..." they are presuming they know the mind of God and can speak for God. Of course, in the English language, ONLY the speaker can confirm or deny if that was their implication.

What you all are dealing with, rather than Implications, are Inferences. You read the text and infer this meaning FROM it. You can't say for sure that this was God's intended implication, but it seems like a reasonable INFERENCE to you. Same for me, of course.

With me so far?

Another thought, then...

When we INFER something from the text, there can be a range of rationality to the inference. IF, for instance, a text said that "John ate 10 apples a day and Peter ate 10 oranges a day and James at 10 pears a day," you can comfortably and rationally infer from that, that those three apostles ate 30 pieces of fruit a day. I don't even know if that is an inference or just a rational deduction, given the evidence. All of that to say, some inferences can be considered fairly certain IF the presumptions establishing the inference are correct.

On the other hand, some inferences can be only probable or even only possible, if not likely.

So, concluding from my fruit example, we can say with some certainty that if my facts are right, then these apostles DID eat 30 fruits a day.

On the other hand, we could deduce the following...

These three disciples really LIKE fruit

Or

These three disciples are in a region and culture where eating fruit was part of the daily diet, even if they DIDN'T like it.

for instance. And those INFERENCES MAY be right, but ONLY possibly. It's a guess based on the evidence, but there is insufficient evidence to establish for sure that either (or neither) is correct.

We could further INFER...

Given the evidence of these three apostles, we can conclude that ALL the apostles supported the eating of fruit because fruit should rightly be considered the PRIMARY food group one should eat.

But this is even further removed from likelihood. COULD it be true? Sure, but there is nothing like enough evidence to demand that it must be true. It is an INFERENCE on the part of someone and the inference is lacking sufficient evidence to demand it as evidence and proof positive.

It seems to me that your inferences are closer to this third conclusion than the first.

One more definition:

IF we are speaking of ESSENTIAL meaning, "Of the ESSENCE of an idea..." then I think we can safely say that the Trinity, the Bible as the Word of God, the Virgin Birth... that these are part of the ESSENCE of Christianity as many humans in the church understand it.

IF on the other hand, we are speaking of "essential" as in, "One MUST believe this or otherwise, they are not a Christian, according to God," then those examples are NOT essential in any sense related to Jesus' actual teachings (ie, Christianity).

Stopping for now...

Dan Trabue said...

A couple more comments on a couple more comments...

Bubba has said...

In reading recipes and furniture instructions, at some point I accept as an unproven (and unprovable) assertion that my interpretation is -- in the absence of a better alternative -- good enough, and I act on my interpretation...

And Marshall has said...

All the examples herein provided, in total, lead to the conclusion that SS is far more likely than not.

"Good enough" and "more likely than not" are not especially compelling places to stand. That sounds like you're saying, "eh, seems reasonable enough to me... I'll take that explanation until I hear a better one..." Which is fine. I think there are a great many opinions that we hold for which there is not a great compelling argument and we might say "eh, seems reasonable enough to me..."

That is fine.

But, a mild "seems good enough to me..." is hardly something so clear and strong as to insist upon it as "essential." I'd think you'd withhold that designation for something SO overwhelmingly obvious that everyone can see, "YES! This IS essential to the faith! There can be NO doubt what the meaning of the text is!"

Something more akin to "the three disciples each ate ten fruit a day, meaning we can STRONGLY conclude, 'YES! They DID eat 30 fruit a day!!'"...

and less like the "Well, since those three ate fruit every day, we can conclude that we ALL must eat Fruit and that Fruit, indeed, is the PREMIERE foodstuff!"

One is a simple, strong, straightforward matter of facts and math, the other requires some leaps and guesses, which is why it's hard to get past a "eh, I guess it's compelling enough..." sort of feeling.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, with that reminder of English usage of words and the other comment, moving back to the question in question.

Bubba, you said...

I defer to the Creator, who I believe revealed Himself first as Yahweh and supremely as Jesus Christ, and I defer to the prophets and apostles who Christ Himself endorsed.

Me, too. This is not the question. We ALL are striving to defer to God's Will.

You go on to say...

Because Christ is at the Father's right hand and we do not enjoy the presence of any living prophet or apostle, I thus defer to the written record of the teachings of the prophets and apostles -- the Bible, for which there is no real rival.

And that is some fine, personal reasoning. It isn't a bad rational approach to the problem of "How do we know?" and I'm not criticizing the opinion. It may well be worth exploring, as far as opinions go.

MY point, though, is that the Bible does not tell us this and IF the Bible is your source for ultimate interpretations and answers to questions, then one can't really say, "For the Bible tells me so." This is, by definition, extrabiblical reasoning. And that is okay, I have no problem with that. It may not even be a bad personal opinion to hold.

But it's not a biblical opinion.

But I've said that.

Let me try it this way:

Let's say there are 1,000 Questions we might have about following God and Christianity. Those questions might include "Does God have a triune nature?" "Did Mary have to be a virgin?" "Is it okay to invest our money?" "Is polygamy okay?" "Does the Bible describe salvation by grace, by works, by atonement... what is the best understanding of salvation?..." Questions of that nature.

And, from a group of Christians, we might find 3,000 interpretations (more likely, 300,000) of the Bible on these various topics.

Now, we ALL are seeking to defer to God's Will. We ALL are using the Bible as an important source for understanding, teaching, direction, etc. We ALL are serious about finding the good and right answers.

On what basis do we say, "Of the TEN answers we had for the Triune nature of God, THIS is the one acceptable answer for the Church? Of the FIVE answers about investing, THIS is the one acceptable answer for the Church..." etc.

HOW do we decide, "Of these various answers, here are the best answers for 1,000 of these questions. For 2,000 of these questions, it is acceptable to have no clear, one cut answer..."?

Beyond that, HOW do we decide "Of the 1,000 'approved answers' THESE 500 are essentials to Christianity. The others are important, but not essential..."?

Early on, Alan gave what I believe to be the right answer: The Bible doesn't tell us. And we protestats have no Pope to decide for us. WE Humans - usually in sub-groups denominations) have collectively decided and we accept it by faith (or not) if we agree with that particular group of humans..."

But if you don't think that it's a human answer, then what IS the answer to "HOW do we decide which are the 'Right' answers?" and "How do we decide which of these tenets are essential and which are not?"

On what basis? On whose authority?

It's an important and reasonable question to answer.

Dan Trabue said...

Consider an example outside of our discussion: The disagreement between John Wesley and John Calvin. One source notes at least a few differences, including the idea of predestination...

Calvin and Luther argue that God takes the initiative to save by arbitrarily selecting certain people for salvation, and relegating the rest to damnation. Only those who have been elected for salvation can be converted.

Salvation is not available or possible to all. Here John Wesley goes in a fundamentally different direction than Calvin and Luther.

First, Wesley states that God takes the initiative in saving human beings through the gift of prevenient grace given to every person, enabling the possibility for anyone to be saved. Thus Wesley displaces predestination with prevenient grace which enables a person to respond when God’s saving grace comes.


Two believers, respected theologians in most evangelical circles (not anabaptist for Calvin, though, given his support for persecution of Other Christians... but that's an aside...). BOTH are looking at Scripture as a guide. BOTH reach conclusions that are extrabiblical (ie, like SS, these doctrines are not taught directly, rather some believers INFER them).

Calvin decided that God "predestines" those who would be saved and damns the rest.

Wesley disagreed.

ON WHAT BASIS would we choose one "side" or the other in this discussion?

ON WHAT BASIS would we make (or not make) this belief an "essential to Christianity" belief?

Important questions, begging to be answered.

Dan Trabue said...

Or, put it in yet another way: I honestly believe that my positions are both the most reasonable and the most biblical out there. Otherwise, I wouldn't believe them, right?

So, I've studied Scripture, I've prayerfully reasoned through it and reached a conclusion. Other people have done the same and reached a different conclusion. I've listened to their reasoning and don't find their case compelling at all, and still find my case compelling.

ON WHAT BASIS would I abandon what seems most biblical and most rational to me? On whose authority would I give up these convictions?

Marshall Art said...

Five posted comments that fail to overcome the weight of logic and evidence provided by Bubba and myself.

First comment:

No class on the difference between "imply" and "infer" was necessary. But it is not the least bit inappropriate to say that a text or its author is implying one thing or another. Indeed, the phrase, "the implications of" such and such is very much commonly used to suggest the meaning of both spoken and written words (as well as actions). This is no big deal and that whole "class" was a waste of time.

It was also a waste if your intention was to further support your position that our evidence from Scripture can be easily dismissed or denied in favor of some as yet unsupported alternative.

The implication of close to two dozen verses provided by Bubba and myself (more than one dozen for sure) is that your original question can be answered in the affirmative, that the Bible does suggest the authority of itself that satisfies the concept of "sola scriptura".

Comment the second:

"Good enough" ain't good enough for you? "More likely than not" not likely enough for you? La-dee-freakin'-DAH!

Without a doubt, you have hung your hat on far less in defending your positions over the years. You still do in denying ours here. "More likely than not" has no bearing on the strength of the actual verses used. Each of them, certainly most of them, speak of using "what is written" as a solid and reliable source for knowledge about what has been revealed by God in all His many ways. Indeed, there are far more verses that support the SS position than there are for the absolute sinfulness of all homosexual relations. I wonder just how many verses you need to "infer" a truth about anything? With the strength of the numbers of verses regarding "what is written", the primacy of Scripture as our source of knowledge in a world without Jesus, the prophets or apostles walking among us is without question. If you don't find the numbers compelling enough for your, the problem is on you, not us or Scripture itself. So let me restate my position so as to be more clear: Due to the number of verses offered in evidence, all speaking of "what is written" as being of great importance for us to learn about God, it is far more than merely likely that Scripture speaks of itself in terms that align with SS.

Marshall Art said...

Your third comment continues with the false notion that the Bible doesn't tell us about itself in the manner at issue. The many verses offered disagree, some better than others, but all point to the primacy of Scripture over anything else now that Jesus, the apostle and prophets no longer walk among us.

Let's look at your little hypothetical. There could be a billion different interpretations. So what? Are they not all based on someone's reliance on Scripture? Isn't each person offering an interpretation looking first to what Scripture says about any given topic or issue? What does that imply to you? How can you not infer that each person is indeed regarding Scripture as the sole source of knowledge in coming to each interpretation? They are all putting into practice the concept of SS. You do it yourself even though you come up with goofy interpretations. You do it by insisting that our position isn't in the Bible. You obviously must use the Bible as a very important source for Christian knowledge to take the position that it should matter that it isn't in the Bible (even though we've shown it is).

You finish the third and continue the fourth with your question that you think matters more than it does: On whose authority?

For SS, on yours, on Alan's, on Calvin's and Wesley's, as well as on Christ's and Paul's and the various other verses in Scripture that say so. All refer to Scripture to get their answers regardless of whether or not those answers agree. Note that SS does not require that we all "see" the same things in Scripture. You don't want to be mixing arguments here. The whole thing is over whether or not Scripture supports the concept of SS. We've shown it does and you and all the other mentioned agree by virtue of your reliance on the Bible to say it doesn't. It's a no-win for you.

Marshall Art said...

For your fifth:

"I honestly believe that my positions are both the most reasonable and the most biblical out there. Otherwise, I wouldn't believe them, right?"

Not necessarily. Based on the years of dealing with you on the blogs, the possibility that you believe what you believe because you like what you believe better than what you should believe is more than merely likely. It seems the only possibility.

I say this because of how poorly you defend your positions and beliefs, as well as how poorly (even MORE poorly) you argue against the positions and beliefs of those with whom you disagree. The standards you demand of others are not followed by you, as has been pointed out by several visitors and opponents. As I mentioned earlier, your arguments about interpretations often call to mind the Clinton quibbling over the definition of "is". What passes for reason and logic in your interpretations, explanations and understandings leaves a great deal to be desired.

I have no problem with someone holding to positions I find problematic. Pardon my suspicions when those positions are so poorly defended.

Dan Trabue said...

So, Marshall, once again...

ON WHAT BASIS would I abandon what seems most biblical and most rational to me? On whose authority would I give up these convictions?

You go on to cite my OWN opinion (reminding you that MY opinion is that I don't find the evidence in the text) in support of the claim that I don't believe is found in the text.

Am I missing something?

What is your direct answer to that question?

You want me to change my position, being a rational human being who loves the Bible's teachings, I HAVE to know, "ON WHAT BASIS would I abandon what the text seems to say (or not say) to me?"

Answer it or move on in defeat (because, as I stated right off the bat, the argument is self-defeating.)

Marshall Art said...

Of course, whether you change your position or not is strictly up to you. Whether you should or not would be on the basis of sound reasoning against which you have not laid anything other than "not compelling" or "that might be your hunch" or "I don't buy it". None of these provides anything of substance by which the other side might consider to amend or adjust their position. When you fall back on a tactic such as questioning whether a word or set of words doesn't necessarily have to mean what we put forth as really the only possible meaning, you are merely using the grade school "nuh uh" argument. When we posit that a word or set of words must or can only mean that which we argue, it is usually on the basis of common understanding of those words, together with the elimination of any other possibility based on the best translations of the original language. It is also based on the totality of all verses and passages that touch on the same subject and how they all point to the same meaning.

We can also point to 2000 years of understanding of a given issue or topic as a basis for our position should an issue have been addressed in all that time. To change such understanding requires and DEMANDS more than just a hunch by modern progressives who don't like the implications of the traditional position. It requires some solid and substantial evidence upon which the shift in understanding can't help but be pulled away from what had been.

In considering the issues about which we've discussed and debated over the years, there are clearly far more examples of you inputting meaning that doesn't exist into Scripture with very little in the way of providing a basis upon which anyone else should come to believe the same way. Regardless of how much you claim to study and love Scripture, your conclusions don't reflect that at all.

As to self-defeating arguments, I think I've shown quite clearly that arguing against SS is exactly that. If your argument hinges upon Scripture not referring to itself in that manner (which the couple dozen verses offered contradict), you cannot make that argument without referring to Scripture and its authority.

So, the "on what basis" question has been answered in several ways often enough now where you lack of satisfaction on the issue again suggests sheer denial on your part, rather than a reasoned and well formulated argument that would persuade anybody but yourself.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, FINALLY, you directly answered "on what basis" and you did so correctly. Why that was so hard, I don't know.

And yes, it IS a matter of, as you say...

Whether you should or not would be on the basis of sound reasoning

That is, we SHOULD make our decisions based on what seems to be the most sound reasoning. YOU have done so, you've reached your conclusion based on what seems to be the most sound reasoning TO YOU. So have I. We disagree on what is most reasonable, but that's okay. That happens.

The point there is that WE are deciding for ourselves (as it should be, right?) what is most reasonable - we HAVE to do this if we are rational adults and want to behave as such. It is YOUR conclusion that these texts you cite (somehow) hint at SS enough that it seems compelling to you. It is MY conclusion that what you're reading into the text simply is not there.

We can hear from God eventually if either of us understood it correctly, but in the meantime, WE are acting on OUR best understanding. It's not a matter of you speaking for God or ME speaking for God, we're both offering OUR OWN best understanding.

From there we can continue as respectful, rational adults acting based on a mutual difference of opinion. As it should be.

Just one last thing as to your argument, such as it is. You say...

If your argument hinges upon Scripture not referring to itself in that manner (which the couple dozen verses offered contradict), you cannot make that argument without referring to Scripture and its authority.

? Do you know that this makes no sense. I CAN and HAVE made the argument that "The extrabiblical conclusion you are reaching is NOT in the text itself, either literally or metaphorically, nor can we reasonably infer it as a given..." without considering Scripture as SS. I'm just stating an observable fact.

Now, you can reason BEYOND Scripture, "Well, no it does not literally say that, but when it says X, that COULD fit with the notion of SS..." but you can not and have not pointed to anything that demands it as the one and only or even the likely explanation.

You simply haven't.

Regardless, me looking at the text and noting that factually, it isn't there, does not depend upon an SS belief on my part. Of course it doesn't. How could it?

Marshall Art said...

"Regardless, me looking at the text and noting that factually, it isn't there, does not depend upon an SS belief on my part. Of course it doesn't. How could it?"

First of all, you can only say "factually, it isn't there" if by saying so you are referring to the principle of SS not expressly mentioned anywhere in Scripture. I don't know that either of us, or Stan, or Augustine ever hinted at that possibility. If that is your position, we've wasted all sorts of time.

But your original question did not ask for that. It asked for Scriptural evidence for SS. Bubba and I provided numerous verses that, by their number, points to the authority of Scripture as the prime source of knowledge of God. Jesus referred to it in that way, even while being the ultimate source Himself. His words speak of it as what the Jews should have been studying for knowledge and revelation. That He and/or His prophets and apostle indeed trumped Scripture, one would be hard pressed to imagine that was not a given while He referred to Scripture.

Secondly, verses that contain words such as "do not go beyond what is written" do indeed stand as solid evidence for the principle of SS. If "do not go beyond what is written" suggest something other than the importance of Scripture for understanding and revelation, what alternative explanation for that phrase, and those like it, can you offer? If it could mean something else, what is it that you think it could mean, and how do you support the possibility?

The above shows that our disagreeing is not, nor has it ever been, in question. "This is how it sounds to me" requires an explanation. You offer next to nothing, if anything at all.

Conversely, when you offer an opinion with which we disagree, we provide all sorts of Scriptural backing, as well as explanations for why that backing is sound.

Reasoning requires dealing with the words and verses as they stand. I go back to my stop sign example. What else could a sign bearing the word "stop" mean, but to stop? There is nothing that allows for any alternative explanation. One cannot reason by what it doesn't say to arrive at a conclusion that the verse in question doesn't imply.

Gotta go.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, I've already dealt with this passage/question in the previous post...

verses that contain words such as "do not go beyond what is written" do indeed stand as solid evidence for the principle of SS. If "do not go beyond what is written" suggest something other than the importance of Scripture for understanding and revelation, what alternative explanation for that phrase, and those like it, can you offer? If it could mean something else, what is it that you think it could mean, and how do you support the possibility?

1. The TEXT does not say, "Do not go beyond what is written in Scripture..." Just "do not go beyond what is written..."

What evidence is there that Paul is speaking of Scripture there?

2. EVEN IF Paul is speaking of Scripture, "Do not go beyond these teachings in Scripture..." does not equate to "Scripture should have prime 'deciding factor' in discussing disagreements..."

3. What is ironic, is the suggestion that this text MUST mean "Scripture is SS" is "going BEYOND WHAT IS WRITTEN..." you are reading into the text what is not there. If nothing else, this text teaches us NOT TO DO just what you're doing.

That you miss this meaning is irony, indeed.

4. What else could it mean?

A. Paul is addressing an apparent problem of false teachings/bad teachers in the early church.

B. Paul makes clear that he does not judge himself, but it is THE LORD who will appraise him/us. Not somebody's interpretation of scripture, not some church group or denomination or splinter faction, but GOD.

C. Paul offers this teaching, which might be worth some discussion...

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.

In these debates of non-provables and extrabiblicals, are we to "judge nothing" positively until we hear directly from God? Sounds like that might be Paul's implication (although, we'd have to ask him/God, to be sure... that being the nature of implications...)

D. Paul says, in context...

so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

...explaining his intent, "That you may not be puffed up in following this person or that person..." and what is different from "this person" and "that person..."? Their INTERPRETATIONS and TEACHINGS. But those are their OWN personal opinions and personal opinions are NOTHING to be puffed up over. Rather, we should wait for God to make these things clear, rather than divide into factions.

...This seems to me to be the idea Paul is speaking of here, not SS. I simply see nothing that suggest Paul is saying, "But in matters of disagreement, let the Bible be the 'decider' of matters..." Rather, he seems to be saying, "We WILL have disagreements... We ARE having disagreements, but don't get puffed up over your chosen teacher/interpretation... GOD will decide, not our interpretations of Scripture...

Does Paul clearly teach the IMPORTANCE of Scripture? Sure! But does Paul anywhere say something that MUST be taken to mean SS?

No, I don't think so. I just don't think it's there and this verse does not prove it.

COULD one read INTO the verse such support? Sure, if one makes some presumptions that aren't in the text. But I just don't think it demands that interpretation at all.

And since I think I'm holding the more rational and biblical interpretation, is there any reason I should give up what SEEMS most rational and biblical to me?

None that I've seen you cite, nothing beyond, "Well, it don't seem that way to ME!"

Marshall Art said...

Actually Dan, what is ironic is that you rely solely on Scripture to deny Sola Scriptura. It's quite funny.

I would say, however, that it is NOT "reading into Scripture" to suggest a principle taught by Scripture. That we put a name to that principle is not a matter of reading anything into Scripture but merely labeling a principle. Thus, we don't need to see mention of the Holy Trinity, for example, to believe Scripture teaches us of the Trinity.

So your ironic argument supports the position rather than denies or contradicts it.

Look at the passage to which you refer in your last comment.

1. Are you suggesting that maybe Paul was talking about the sports pages of the local newspaper? Are you suggesting that he was referring to anything other than what was the recorded teachings of the faith at that time?

2. What other possible explanation could exist for "do not go beyond what is written" other than the superior authority of what is written? And this is spoken by a guy with a history of direct contact with Christ!

3. There is no "reading into" attempted. There is merely the recognition of the implications any encouragement to "not go beyond what is written" carries. So many verses speaking in such terms, so many showing a referring to "what is written" (such as by Christ Himself) as a means by which one find a basis for belief and behavior, the primacy of Scripture, as well as Its own view of such is self-evident.

4. Once again we see it is you who reads into Scripture what isn't explicitly there.

4A. Paul is not addressing false teachers/bad teachers here. There is nothing describing Apollos as either. The suggestion is that there are differences in how Apollos and Paul teach (not what) and that some people follow one or the other as if one is better to follow. He is telling them they are to regard each of them as servants of Christ and the focus should be on what is written, not on who is teaching what is written.

4C As Paul is talking about a person (himself and/or Apollos---or even teachers of the Gospel in general for that matter), he is saying judge nothing about such people. This is evident when he refers to God exposing the motives of men's hearts. He's not talking about what it being taught by such people, so that when he gets to the part about going beyond what is written, it is a means by which one can determine the truth and/or accuracy of the teaching. The focus should be on the teaching, not the teacher.

4D If one is not going beyond what is written, it won't matter from whom one learns. What is written is what is important. Indeed, if anything, this is a good argument against denominations as the same Book used by all is what is important. And again, Paul is talking about the motives of the teachers that God will make clear. He's not talking about Scripture when he says that. The ludicrous part of your position is that you even provide the verse that says this very thing, yet you totally misrepresent it.

"But does Paul anywhere say something that MUST be taken to mean SS?"

Yes, by saying don't go beyond what is written as preferable to the teacher as a source, he's putting the written word as a higher authority. This passage proves the point rather well the more we break it down. Thanks for the help.

All presumptions regarding this passage has been coming from you. I'm simply repeating what the passage is saying.