Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beware Arrogance







Arrogant words of the day, from Stan Smith's blog's post today. He was speaking of how he could not possibly be wrong on his position about homosexuality or, what the devastating consequences would be IF he was possibly wrong and he said...

"If it is not [ie, what if his understanding is not true], then we have genuine reason to question Scripture, Church history, the abilities of the Holy Spirit to lead His own into the truth, and, consequently, Christianity itself. If it is not true, then the massive failures on God's part are staggering. He failed when He called it an "abomination" in the Old Testament and He failed when Paul was inspired by God to write that no one who practices such things have a part in the kingdom and He failed by sending His Holy Spirit who was to lead His people into all truth."

Now, my leaning is to want to just leave the speaker anonymous, because it's about the idea, not who said it. But when I've done that in the past, I've been criticized for possibly taking something out of context, so, the above is from today's comment section at the birdsoftheair.blogspot.com post. Feel free to read if you so choose.

But look at what he's saying: If people like this are NOT correct in their understanding, then, to them, that indicates a failure on God's part?! What sort of arrogance is that?

Can you imagine the harrumphing and charges of blasphemy if a supposed liberal were to say something like that?

Friends, we can ALL be mistaken. We can ALL be wrong. It is part of the human condition, our collective ability to be mistaken, to be fooled by tradition or by our desires or by our culture. It happens, there's no shame in admitting our human ability to be mistaken. But to equate the slightest chance that WE could be wrong to a "massive failure" on God's part??

And if we, in our glorious human wisdom are mistaken, then we have reason to question everything, even Christianity? What sort of statement is that for a Christian to make?

Wow.

Thank God for grace and forgiveness and long-suffering patience.

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Note: To be clear, this post is not about homosexuality, it is about arrogance and presuming that for one to be mistaken can only happen if God has failed. If you have comments on that topic, I'll entertain comments with opinions about that. But I'm not discussing homosexuality.

13 comments:

Marshall Art said...

And of course your note at the end sets you up for your usual censoring ways. But I'll take a chance:

There is no arrogance in Stan's comment. It is based on the truth of Scripture and the only honest inferences possible based on the words therein. Go ahead and try to make the case that there is any positive mention of the behavior in question. Based on the references there are, such as Stan's quoting of 1 Corinthians, no honest person can make a case for the behavior in question being acceptable to God. YOU certainly have never provided any such case. Instead, you are forced to make wild extrapolations that are themselves impossible without taking extreme liberties with definitions that simply aren't possible given the times in which the words were put to paper (as it were).

The only real arrogance is in suggesting arrogance on Stan's part because of the implications of his message regarding that behavior in question. It is another attempt to demonize one who holds his perspective on the behavior in question. More to the point, it is a presumption of your own unlikelihood of being wrong on the question of the behavior to which he refers.

So, as every mention of the Bible regarding the behavior in question is absolutely negative, and in this there is no doubt or argument, then to be wrong about it does put Scripture itself in doubt. For how can it teach us one thing and leave us being wrong in believing what it taught us about that one thing? If we're wrong about Christ having risen, for it teaches us nothing to the contrary, what does that say about Scripture and the One Who inspired it?

It's an absolutely logical question given the clear revelation about the behavior in question, not an arrogant position on some vague ambiguity.

You don't want it to be about homosexuality, but your critique of Stan is absolutely driven by your support of those who engage in this sinful behavior. Don't deny it, because you won't be fooling anyone.

Dan Trabue said...

My "usual" censorship ways? I've censored (ie, deleted - usually after a warning to the commenter) MAYBE 1% of comments here. I don't think "usual" is the appropriate English word, Marshall. I think you were shooting for "rare..."

Just by way of a correction of the facts.

As to the point of the post: It is my opinion that IF someone says, "I can NOT be mistaken. IF I am mistaken, then it is NOT my fault, but a case of a MASSIVE failure on God's part..." that person is quite confused and abundantly arrogant.

For my part, IF and when I am mistaken, it is my fault. I don't seek to blame others for my mistakes, and certainly not God.

Why would I?

Dan Trabue said...

Again, consider the words:

I can NOT be mistaken. IF I am a mistaken, it is evidence of a MASSIVE failure on GOD'S part!

Dang, y'all.

Dan Trabue said...

I do find Stan's (et al) level of venom at God (IF Stan is mistaken) to be revealing. This sort of attitude helps explain why some conservative folk are so bullish on this point.

IF they are mistaken in their understanding of God on this point, then, TO THEM, that indicates that all of Christianity is nearly meaningless.

That has to be a frightening prospect for someone so tied to their own opinion and would explain why they can't even abide the notion that they could possibly be mistaken or why fellow Christians who disagree with them can not be taken as even remotely Christian. It undermines (in their mind) their entire worldview and God becomes meaningless to them.

That's a pretty powerful and fearful place to be.

And sad.

More's the pity.

Marshall Art said...

"My "usual" censorship ways?"

So commonplace despite your protests to the contrary, I'll be sure to point them out with every occurrence.

You continue to pervert Stan's words and meaning. He is clearly speaking of what it means to be specifically taught what later is said to be untrue. IF what Scripture says about the behavior in question is untrue, then there is indeed a problem with Scripture. Why that sounds "venomous" or "arrogant" to you says more about you and/or your ability to understand what you read than it does about Stan.

"For my part, IF and when I am mistaken, it is my fault."

As you so often are, and it is, then you'd have no business blaming anyone BUT yourself. But that isn't the case with Stan as he never said anything like this:

"I can NOT be mistaken. IF I am a mistaken, it is evidence of a MASSIVE failure on GOD'S part!"

Again, he isn't speaking on some vague and ambiguous point that has baffled theologians for centuries. He is speaking about something quite specific:


He is referring to the absolute FACT that the behavior in question is never mentioned in any but a negative manner any time in Scripture it comes up, and that, as such, to warn proponents of that behavior against further engagement in that behavior must provoke a question regarding whether or not it is true regarding what is implied by all the negative references. Those references suggest very strongly, without any references taking a counter position, that the behavior is sinful and to be denied one's self.

So, as it cannot be possible to be mistaken about the fact that ALL references in Scripture clearly speak of the behavior in question in absolutely negative terms, there is no arrogance in then questioning anything, but instead, a rational uncertainty that anything one reads can or should be believed and/or followed.

This might seem foreign to one as yourself for whom ambiguity is key to maintaining a position on the behavior in question for which there is no indisputable Scriptural support. But it is not for the honest reader. This might seem foreign to one as yourself who needs to believe our understanding of Scripture is shaped by the culture in which we were raised, when in fact the culture was shaped by the proper interpretation of Scripture.

Marshall Art said...

I must add, to clarify, that Stan speaks to the fact that the question of whether or not what opponents of the behavior is true, and how that question is never considered by proponents the behavior in question. They simply regard opponents as haters, without regard to the intention behind the opposition, which is often concern for the spiritual status of the proponents.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

I'll be sure to point them out with every occurrence.

One in every hundred or two hundred won't be that often, Marshall.

As long as you don't take to being deliberately off topic and rude, you have naught to fear.

Marshall...

IF what Scripture says about the behavior in question is untrue, then there is indeed a problem with Scripture.

That might be the case IF there was one approved interpretation of Scripture and everyone agrees on that. In the real world, Scripture gets interpreted in all manner of ways.

We must not let "our interpretation" be conflated with "the one True Meaning." That is where the arrogance comes in.

As long as we recognize, "When I interpret a scripture - no matter how obvious or clear or moral my understanding may be - it is MY interpretation. Thus, when I offer my opinion on an interpretation of Scripture, I am clearly speaking of MY opinion, not telling everyone what God wants them to hear, but my understanding of that..."

The problem comes when we move from recognizing our interpretations and opinions as ours and when we conflate them to God's Word and, IF our understanding is wrong, then God's Word is wrong.

Which seems to be what you're saying right there. When you say, "IF what "Scripture" says about...," are you recognizing the difference between Scripture and your own opinions about a text of a passage from the Bible?

The problem is, once we become so attached to our opinions that we can no longer differentiate our opinions from God's Word, we've set ourselves up for failure and for arrogance. But further complicating things, we won't even recognize it AS arrogance because, "after all, it's just God's Word and I'm just defending it..."

No, in truth, Marshall, if we are saying "I am so sure I can't be mistaken and if I have misunderstood, it's God's fault..," we are usurping God with our own ideas about god. Dangerous, scary stuff.

Marshall, if and when you get to speak to God directly and if you find out, will you really tell God, "God, you messed up big time! I can't believe how stupid you were in how you wrote the Bible..."?

Really?

Marshall Art said...

"As long as you don't take to being deliberately off topic and rude, you have naught to fear."

Yeah. Right. Whatever you say.

"In the real world, Scripture gets interpreted in all manner of ways."

That "fact" is never at issue. What is at issue is whether one has support for an interpretation; whether an interpretation is reasonable and worth a damn.

But more to the point of the post of Stan's regarding the behavior in question, whether an interpretation is actually true or not is not discussed or considered before accusing as haters those defending the position understood since Scripture was written.

As to "arrogance", is it arrogance to insist that Christ actually rose from the dead, since that is what is taught in Scripture? Some actually believe it doesn't truly teach that He rose bodily, but spiritually or metaphorically. Your "arrogance" angle is nonsensical because it arrogantly presumes that there is nothing in Scripture about which we can be certain. If a position can be defended well, which is true of our position on the behavior in question (not so much by you defending your position), it is not the least bit arrogant to be convicted in our belief. Your suggestion of arrogance is borne out of your lack of conviction, as well as your inability to defend your position, which after all these years is still chock full of gaping holes.

"The problem comes when we move from recognizing our interpretations and opinions as ours and when we conflate them to God's Word..."

No. This is only a problem for people like yourself who do not like the implications of the actual teaching an interpretation reveals. An interpretation is just that: a discovering of meaning. It can either be defended and supported by evidence and sound, logical argument, or it can't. Thus, the interpretation of those passages that refer to the behavior in question are clear in their regard for said behavior as sinful. You don't like the true meaning interpretation reveals, so instead of offering sound and logical counter arguments and evidence to demonstrate a more truthful meaning, you go elsewhere hoping to make an argument where none exists. To shore up your weak position, you accuse others of arrogance for being convicted in their beliefs.

Marshall Art said...

"...and, IF our understanding is wrong, then God's Word is wrong."

Once again, this is not being said by Stan or anyone else. He is not referring to an understanding, but the fact of what is actually stated in Scripture in every reference to the behavior in question. If Scripture says that the dog is green, and we come to find that the dog is not green, then there is a problem with Scripture. It is not as if we just came to believe it says the dog is green, but that Scripture actually said it, which is proven by the actual words used when it does.

Again, your problem here is that you desperately need ambiguity in order to hold your position, but there is no ambiguity regarding the issues that separate us, particularly the behavior in question. As long as you can maintain the pretense that there is any doubt, you can not only continue to hold your weak misinterpretation as true, but accuse your opponents of all sorts of things for not caving to the nonsensical "other opinions are valid, too", such as hate, bigotry and arrogance.

"No, in truth, Marshall, if we are saying "I am so sure I can't be mistaken and if I have misunderstood, it's God's fault..,""

Again, that is not suggested in the least, in any way, shape or form by Stan's post. What is truly scary is that you are so fused to your unsupportable position on the behavior in question that you would dare accuse someone of something they are not saying. If it isn't true that we are not to worship other gods, what then? Is it arrogant to insist that we aren't to worship other gods, Dan? Is there any doubt in your mind about that? If you can't be certain about that, then YOU have a problem. If you CAN be certain about that, you STILL have a problem for you are condemned by your own words.

Scripture is crystal clear about a lot of things, Dan. Many of those things are not bought into by everyone. The question is the same? Are these things true? Since Scripture is clear about these many things, what would it say about Scripture if any or all of these clearly stated issues were NOT true? So the question to which Stan refers as not being asked, is "If you are demonizing me for defending what Scripture says on these many clearly stated issues, have you considered first whether or not they might be true, or do you just don't want them to be?"

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

If Scripture says that the dog is green, and we come to find that the dog is not green, then there is a problem with Scripture.

A very good analogy, Marshall. IF Scripture says a dog is green, then we SHOULD recognize it as being figurative language, because in the real world, we know that dogs are not green. IF we take something as literal that should not have been taken as literal, then, again, we can't blame God for "massive failures." It would be OUR fault.

And again, to blame God for our misunderstanding is arrogant.

Marshall...

If a position can be defended well, which is true of our position on the behavior in question (not so much by you defending your position), it is not the least bit arrogant to be convicted in our belief.

And if someone goes out of their way to find a way to defend that dogs are actually green because, "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!"... well, just because they truly believe they can defend it well does not make it a fact. It is still a human opinion and interpretation and human interpretations and opinions are prone to being mistaken.

To then say, "Well, because I think I can defend my position from the Bible - and can defend it quite well! - so IF I am mistaken, it's a failure on God's part..." well, that does not make it so.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, a question for you, on this topic. Please answer:

If and when you get to speak to God directly and if you find out what YOU THOUGHT was "crystal clear" and unavoidably biblical and thus, in your opinion, factual, will you really tell God, "God, you messed up big time! I can't believe how stupid you were in how you wrote the Bible..."?

Really?

Dan Trabue said...

While waiting your answer to that question...

Marshall...

To shore up your weak position, you accuse others of arrogance for being convicted in their beliefs.

Being "convicted" in one's opinions and beliefs is fine.

Being "convinced" one has the One True Word from God and that makes their opinion a fact, and if they are mistaken, then GOD was mistaken... that is not fine. That is arrogant and delusional.

I am quite convicted that my opinions are reasonable and moral and biblical, to boot, but I don't then make the leap from "my opinions are reasonable..." to "therefore, my opinions are facts and can not be mistaken... and IF I were mistaken (which I can't be), then GOD FAILED MASSIVELY..."

If I did that, that would be arrogant and delusional.

See the difference?

Marshall Art said...

"Marshall, a question for you, on this topic..."

Is an example of your self-serving suppression of opposing perspectives. It assumes something that YOU NEED to be true in order to make your point. It requires that all teaching of Scripture is vague, ambiguous, open to various interpretations, each as valid as the next. The question is clearly stupid.

However, when I get the chance to face the Almighty, and if I am allowed to question Him on such issues, and assuming my position was wrong, I would simply ask where I went wrong in reading what so strongly sent me in the wrong direction.

But then, no one here, and certainly not Stan, is suggesting that God IS stupid and wrong, but that Scripture is crystal clear on the behavior in question to the extent that our being wrong is not really possible. That's not arrogance, it's just stating fact.

"Being "convinced" one has the One True Word from God and that makes their opinion a fact, and if they are mistaken, then GOD was mistaken... that is not fine."

You keep saying this, but it is not a reflection of what is being said by Stan. Look at it the way it was presented:

1. Scripture teaches that God exists.
2. I live according to the teaching that God exists.
3. I am called nasty things because I live according to the teaching of Scripture that God exists.
4. The truth claim is put into question by those calling me nasty things for living according to the teaching of Scripture that God exists.
5. If I am wrong in my belief that God exists, there is something wrong with Scripture which teaches that God exists.

The issue at hand involves Scriptural teaching that is quite clear. And while that teaching might not be as clear as the teaching that God exists, it is quite clear nonetheless. If it is arrogance and delusional to state that it is true that in every reference of the behavior in question Scripture regards it as sinful, then it is arrogant and delusional to state that God exists.

If one is labeled as a hater simply for stating what Scripture says, then what Scripture says is being called to account, as is the truthfulness of what Scripture says. If those labeling us a haters are correct, then there is something wrong with Scripture for saying so clearly what the "labelers" say is false. That is the implication of the those who label us as haters, not what we're saying. Thus, the arrogance is in YOUR position, not ours.