Wednesday, May 7, 2014

To be heretical, or not to be...


I'm creating a post for the sake of Bubba, who oftentimes on other websites, on other topics, he'll go off on a "Dan's a heretic" tangent. Then gets all huffy if I don't want to discuss the off topic ad hom attack on someone else's blog, on some other topic.

NOTE: This is a conversation chance for JUST Bubba and Dan, to see where we might find agreement and disagreement. I'll ask that everyone else (should anyone else want to participate) just hold your horses and save your comments for another day. Or email me, if you must. This one's just for Bubba and Dan. Thanks.

So, Bubba, here's your chance: Raise your questions here and now if you have some real concerns about my faith journey striving by grace to walk in the steps of Jesus. We can take it slowly and deliberately and deal with any questions you may have.

The ball is in your court.

~Dan

106 comments:

Bubba said...

Dan, the term I've used has been "false teacher" rather than "heretic," and I'm not sure the two terms are entirely interchangeable.

They're related, as we see in II Peter 2:1 where false teachers bring in heresies, but I can see situations where one term applies but not the other.

If somebody holds to a heresy but keeps it to himself, he's a heretic but I'm not sure he's a false teacher. And if somebody leads the flock astray on matters that don't directly contradict orthodoxy, then he may be a false teacher but not a heretic.

But all that is secondary to the central issue that emerged in the discussion which led to this thread.

That issue is whether good-faith unanimity is possible on essential Christian doctrines and clear teachings of Scripture.

Before we even consider the question of what those doctrines and teachings entail, we must address the question of whether there ARE any such doctrines and teachings.

Before enumerating the list, we must agree that the list exists and is non-empty. Before arguing over where to draw the line between essential and non-essential (or clear and unclear), we must agree that a line can be drawn.

To that end, I'll restate the request at the end of the last thread.

--

Do you believe in orthodoxy and heresy as real categories and not just traditional understandings? Do you really believe that there are essential Christian doctrines?

Okay.

NAME ONE ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE.

Alternatively, do you believe that there are some things on which the Bible is clear and unambiguous, so that good-faith disagreement is impossible? Do you believe that good-faith Bible study would lead all honest readers to conclude, “The Bible teaches X,” even including non-believers who do not believe the Bible on that point?

NAME ONE CLEAR TEACHING OF THE BIBLE.

Don’t just tell me one belief or teaching that the church has traditionally held, or one that is present in some early creeds. Don’t even tell me one belief that you personally affirm: GIVE ME ONE BELIEF THAT MUST BE AFFIRMED FOR A PERSON TO BE A CHRISTIAN.

I’ll make it easy for you and give you two of the least controversial teachings.

1) The existence of God: God actually exists, not just as a useful human concept or construct, but as the actual Creator of all that is.

2) The historicity of Jesus: Jesus of Nazareth actually lived and preached in and around the Roman province of Judea in the early first century, and like all of us, Jesus was born and died.

Note here that I’m not even touching the Incarnation (that Jesus is God), the nature of Jesus’ birth, the causes and consequences and details of Jesus’ death, or the events that transpired after that death.

God exists: Jesus existed. PICK ONE OF THESE if you cannot think of another.

Is either of these an essential Christian doctrine, such that its affirmation is required for Christians and its denial is forbidden for Christians?

Is either of these a clear teaching of the Bible, such that all good-faith readers would conclude that the Bible teaches it, and anyone who disagrees cannot be arguing in good faith?

--

A clear and unambigous response would go an awful long way to understanding what it is you believe.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, I'll be glad to answer your questions, specifically, deliberately and honestly. I'd just ask that you do the same.

Bubba...

Do you believe in orthodoxy and heresy as real categories and not just traditional understandings?

1 Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy, as you know, just means "right thinking." Or, more specifically, "a belief or a way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct," according to Merriam Webster. We can agree on the definition, I suppose?

1a. There is no such use of the term "orthodoxy" in Jesus' teachings or in the Bible. Agreed?

1b. There are no list of items/beliefs found in Jesus' teaching or in the Bible that "God" or anyone else has said, "These are the orthodox beliefs of Christianity." Agreed?

1c. Having said that, I agree that there are "teachings accepted as true" within the various human Christian traditions. They don't always agree, but largely, within the broad terms of traditional Christianity, there is much agreement on many of these beliefs or teachings.

1d. Having said that, these ARE definitively, specifically HUMAN ideas that HUMANS have agreed are "accepted as true." God has specifically and literally NOT given us a set of orthodox beliefs, laid out in indisputable stone.

Agreed?

Continuing then...

2 HERESY

There is, I believe, ONE use of the term "heresies" in the Bible, the 2 Peter 2 passage you alluded to. The passage is more about false teachers than heresies, though, so I will deal with that here and now.

That passage, in context, reads...

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.

In THAT passage and context, we can see some things about these "false teachers."

A. The "false prophets" Peter speaks of are deliberate liars, not the merely mistaken.

B. Peter says they "secretly" introduce destructive heresies. He also speaks of "fabricated stories." This indicates deliberate deception, not merely innocently mistaken.

C. Peter says they deny the sovereign Lord who bought them, which suggests to me that these were indeed people of the faith, unless Peter is speaking figuratively. Interesting, that.

D. Peter says they are depraved, indicating/hinting at deliberate, bad behavior of some sort.

E. Peter says "in their greed..." indicating that they are not only deliberately lying and deceiving, but doing so for profit, somehow.

Thus, the one mention of "heresies" in the Bible is attached to deliberate deceivers who are in it for some profit motive. It is specifically not speaking of false teachers or false prophets (if those terms are interchangeable) as merely innocently mistaken.

Are we agreed on all of that, so far?

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Continuing with your next question (but then I'll stop and let you catch up)...

Do you really believe that there are essential Christian doctrines?

Do I believe that humans have agreed on some doctrines that these groups of humans have considered "essential" Christian doctrines? Yes, absolutely.

Has GOD given us humans a list of doctrines that GOD has called "essential...?" Absolutely not.

Does the Bible give us a list of doctrines/beliefs that the Bible calls "essential Christian doctrines..."? This is a bit more complex to answer.

The Bible makes all sorts of statements, declarations... that is to say, the Bible contains all manner of passages from a variety of books and in a variety of writing styles and, within those passages, claims are made.

The Bible has a passage that says "Sell your belongings, give alms to the poor and follow me..." Does that equate to a claim to an "essential Christian doctrine..."? I would not say so, and I'm not alone in that.

The Bible has a passage that says "He who believes [presumably in Jesus...] and is baptized will be saved." Is that an "essential Christian doctrine..."? I would not say so, and I'm not alone in that.

I could go on, including to some of your favorite passages and say, the Bible has a passage that says, "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." Is that an "essential Christian doctrine..."?

I hope you see what I'm getting at. What makes a line from the Bible an "essential Christian doctrine..."? Human agreement. That is, some group of humans have agreed, "Yes, this passage reflects an ECD. No, that passage does NOT reflect an ECD..." etc.

So, the Bible doesn't make any "claims" as to essential Christian doctrines. Those are all part of human interpretation and agreement, not something God has told us.

So far, I'm trying to be pretty literally factual, just stating observable, discreet facts that I would think we should be able to agree upon.

Am I succeeding?

Bubba said...

Dan, I think I understand WHAT you're saying, but I don't understand WHY you're saying it, and why you're NOT providing a clear response to my request.

Along the lines of what you're saying, the Bible doesn't use the word "theism," but so what? A book doesn't have to use the theological term to express the idea that God exists and do so clearly and unambiguously.

If I'm looking for a thorough arithmetic book for first graders, I would expect to see the identity properties, but I wouldn't require the term to be used explicitly: it's enough to teach the ideas.

anything + zero is itself
anything x one is itself

I think it's unreasonable to require any communication to fit a particular formula in order to be clear: I honestly think that it's so unreasonable that it's a sign of not reading in good faith, especially if one doesn't do it for all communications, and most especially if one crafts a formula after the fact KNOWING that the communication doesn't fit the bill.

The Bible doesn't convey ideas in a format that precisely matches one particular formula, but what is it that the Bible DOES clearly convey?

--

You're writing an awful lot, but none of it approaches a clear response to my request.

If essential Christian doctrine is too nebulous a concept, surely you can state at least one clear biblical teaching.

And if you cannot, you can say so, saying either that you believe the Bible in particular communicates nothing that is clear and unambiguous OR that you believe NO communication contains any message that is clear and unambiguous.

In the examples I gave, I didn't talk about the nature of God -- monotheism vs. polytheism, unitarianism vs. Trinitarianism, God's sovereignty or holiness or all those many omni's.

I JUST MENTIONED GOD'S MERE EXISTENCE.

And, as I said, I’m not even touching the Incarnation (that Jesus is God), the nature of Jesus’ birth, the causes and consequences and details of Jesus’ death, or the events that transpired after that death.

I JUST MENTIONED JESUS' MERE HISTORICITY.

"The Bible is clear and unambiguous that God exists."

I don't see what's so incredibly difficult about assenting to that claim, that you have to preface it with a series of comments that's already nearly eight hundred words.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, I'll be glad to answer your questions - and indeed, am in the process of answering your questions. But I will ask you the respect of you returning the favor and answering my questions.

Again, I don't think I'm saying anything other than simple observable facts, nothing in the way of opinion so far, so I think we should be able to agree, but please confirm.

For starters, these questions remain unanswered:

1c. Having said that, I agree that there are "teachings accepted as true" within the various human Christian traditions. They don't always agree, but largely, within the broad terms of traditional Christianity, there is much agreement on many of these beliefs or teachings.

1d. Having said that, these ARE definitively, specifically HUMAN ideas that HUMANS have agreed are "accepted as true." God has specifically and literally NOT given us a set of orthodox beliefs, laid out in indisputable stone.

Agreed?

I think it will be helpful if we take this one step at a time, me answering your questions and you answering mine, step by step.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I don't understand WHY you're saying it, and why you're NOT providing a clear response to my request.

Just to help you understand, I'm taking these steps to make it exceedingly clear what my response is and, not only that, but probably get you to agree that it's not only clear, but you agree, since I'll just be stating facts and it's hard to disagree with facts, as opposed to opinions.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

If you're worried about somehow being "trapped" by your answer, don't. You can always reclarify. I'm just stating what seems to me to be some facts and I'm trying to clarify that we can agree on some facts - with whatever caveats we may want to put on them later - before we move on.

A systematic, methodical and precise answer to your question that you will understand requires that we recognize facts when we see them.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

While I'm waiting for your answers, to further answer your question...

Do you believe in orthodoxy and heresy as real categories and not just traditional understandings?

I would have to ask, What do you mean by "real categories..."? Orthodoxy IS a real category of thinking, I guess, although to be honest, I'm not sure what you mean by that. Heresy is a real category of behavior, I guess, depending on what you mean by that.

And yes, the notion of orthodoxy as it relates to Christianity IS a traditional understanding (a series of traditional understandings), but that's just stating a fact - one which seems problematic to you because you describe it as "JUST a traditional understanding..."

Same for heresy as it relates to Christianity, it IS, factually, a series of traditional understandings about what various groups have decided was outside of orthodoxy.

What is the problem with noting that something is a, factually speaking, a traditional understanding when that is what it is?

I'm trying to take your questions one at a time, getting them answered in a manner that you understand, then move on to the next question. So, as soon as you answer my questions, we can move on.

Thanks.

Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, you've now written six comments, 1300 words and counting, but you still haven't answered my question.

It is not necessary for two people to agree EVEN on basic facts in order for one person to understand the other person's position.

And it's not necessary for you to ask me if I understand each and every subclause in your epic prologue to your actual answer. Just put the whole thing out there, and if there are areas where I don't grasp what you're saying, I'll let you know.

My question about your beliefs regarding orthodoxy led directly into the much simpler request, the one I have repeated and emphasized as the core issue.

Name one essential Christian doctrine OR one clear biblical teaching.

If you cannot do either, you should make explicit your belief that there are no essential Christian doctrines or clear teachings of Scripture.

Or if you must preface the one essential Christian doctrine or the one clear biblical teaching with a thousand-word preliminary essay, go and do so, but you should immediately conclude with the actual response.

I would be quite happy to answer some specific question that you have about my beliefs, AFTER you answer my question to my satisfaction. I asked my question first, and supposedly you started this thread to deal with my questions and my concerns.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, if you want, I can skip the first question YOU ASKED and proceed to this later question, but only if you can assure me you will answer my questions, as well.

Dan Trabue said...

The answer to your latter question will be, however, dependent upon some basic understandings that we can establish by your answering MY questions, I will note.

Also, if you ask several questions and a person proceeds to answer in the order that they were asked, I hope how you can see this is just reasonable. How would I know you would demand that I answer your last question, first?

Conversation is two way, Bubba. Why don't we try it like that? It really helps in communication.

As to your petulant demand...

Name one essential Christian doctrine [ECD] OR one clear biblical teaching.

This raises questions immediately, questions that will need to be answered in order to answer YOUR demand.

"Essential," to whom? To the human CARM evangelicals, Catholics who affirm Catholic essentials are not affirming Protestant essentials and, thus, can't be saved.

"If a Roman Catholic believes in the official Roman Catholic teaching on salvation, then he is not a Christian since the official RCC position is contrary to Scripture."

http://carm.org/are-roman-catholics-christian

So, the question, "Essential to WHOM?" is an important question to answer before your question can be answered.

Different human traditions have different human opinions on the matter. Which tradition are you appealing to when you ask me to name an ECD?

Same as to your demand that I name one clear biblical teaching. I, the anabaptists and many other humans think it abundantly clear that Jesus was opposed to Christians killing their enemies, as in war time, and that when Jesus said "Blessed are you who are poor... woe to you who are rich," that he was teaching that the actual poor are blessed but the actual rich have some cause for woe.

But to other human minds, these teachings are not clear at all.

So, when you ask that I give one ECD or one clear biblical teaching, the obvious question is, "essential to WHOM...?" and "obvious to WHOM...?"

Also, "essential FOR WHAT?" is another reasonable question. The thief on the cross, some would argue, knew NOTHING of Jesus' resurrection, and thus, he absolutely could not believe in a resurrection. But many human traditions insist on a belief in the resurrection of Jesus as ECD. Now, perhaps they are saying THEIR opinions about ECD mean, "doctrines that are the essence of Evangelical understandings of Jesus," as opposed to "doctrines that are essential for salvation."

So, understanding "essential TO WHOM" is an important question to answer and "essential FOR WHAT" is another one, so that I can accurately answer your question/demand.

Some Pentecostalists believe "that 'Jesus' name baptism' and the gift of tongues were essential for salvation." So, if the question is, "Name an ECD, according to some pentecostalists," an answer might be "speaking in tongues..."

So, two things:

1. You will need to clarify ECD TO WHOM and clear bible teaching TO WHOM.

2. You need to assure me that this will be a two way conversation and that you will answer my questions, even as I answer yours.

Balls in your court.

Dan Trabue said...

In good faith that you WILL answer my questions, I will give one answer now to your demand, "Name one clear Bible teaching..." with the caveat that this is a Bible teaching that is clear TO ME and many others, but not to everyone.

It's the one I offered above, by way of example:

Jesus said, "Blessed are you who are poor... woe to you who are rich..." I think Jesus clearly was speaking of some form of blessing or happiness or fortune is innate to the actual physically poor of the world. I think Jesus is clearly speaking of some form of woe or strife or danger is innate to the actual physically wealthy in the world.

While some of your comrades would not accept that Jesus ACTUALLY meant "poor" when he said "poor," I think it is abundantly clear - given the text, the context and the rest of Jesus' teachings - that he did mean the actual poor, the actual wealthy.

Is that clear and unambiguous enough?

Bubba said...

Dan, the question you quote is the first time I use a question mark here in this thread, but it's not the core question I've repeatedly emphasized.

(And even so, you didn't actually answer that question, either.)

Note, the single word sentence of "Okay" immediately following that question implies that it was rhetorical, as in, "Okay, I'm assuming you believe that orthodoxy is a real category worth defending and not just a traditional concept that was previously held and which we can take or leave -- so, assuming you do believe in orthodoxy, prove it and NAME ONE ESSENTIAL DOCTRINE."

You can tell that THAT has been my focus through my use of all-caps, the fact that it dominates what I copied from the previous thread (eleven paragraphs vs one paragraph plus one word), my focus in the subsequent comments at that other thread, and what I've reiterated here, in EVERY comment since, including this one.

I've even provided a single nine-word sentence as an example of what I'm looking for: "The Bible is clear and unambiguous that God exists."

My request is this:

EITHER name an essential Christian doctrine, one that must be affirmed in order for a person to be a Christian; OR name an clear teaching of the Bible, such that anyone who disagrees cannot possibly be arguing in good faith; OR, if you can do neither, acknowledge that you believe no such doctrines and teachings exist.

That has been the core of my request since BEFORE you started this thread.

--

About that request, you ask that I clarify, "essential" to whom, or "clear" to whom?

That misses the point of what I'm asking. I'm not asking a sort of anthropological question about what Catholics or Protestants believe, and I'm not asking whether you personally believe, e.g., that God exists or Jesus is/was an actual figure of history.

I'm asking whether you believe THOSE BELIEFS are either essential for all Christians or clear and unambiguous claims of the Bible.

Essential to whom? To EVERYONE who can be accurately described as a Christian.

(Here I do NOT treat "Christian" as equal to, equivalent with, and interchangeable with "saved." From the Transfiguration and Christ's teaching regarding poor Lazarus being welcomed to Abraham's side, we can easily infer the salvation of Moses, Elijah, and Abraham, but none of them were Christians.)

Clear to whom? To EVERYONE who reads the Bible in good faith.

Is there any doctrine, the denial of which is proof positive that the denier isn't a Christian despite his claims to the contrary?

Is there any teaching, the rejection of which as a clear teaching of the Bible is proof positive that the person cannot possibly have studied the Bible in good faith?

I've given examples that ought to be trivial to affirm as essential and clear, far easier than a particularly literal take on one set of Christ's beatitudes.

The existence of God, and the historicity of Jesus: are these clear teachings of the Bible, not just clear to you, but clear -- PERIOD?

--

About my "need" to assure that I will answer your question in turn, I have already written, I would be quite happy to answer some specific question that you have about my beliefs, AFTER you answer my question to my satisfaction.

And, I've just now answered your questions seeking to clarify my question -- essential to whom/clear to whom.

I do not appreciate your insinuating that I cannot be trusted to keep my word, just I do not appreciate your suggesting that my insistence that you answer my prior question first reflects worry about being "trapped," your denigrating my request as "petulant," and your initially describing me as getting all "huffy."

Dan Trabue said...

Thank you for the clarifications. And I'm sorry if you take offense at my request that you'll assure that you'll answer these questions. Too often in many of these conversations, the questions and answers have been one way and I'm just trying to affirm that this is going to be an actual two way conversation, with you answering my questions and me answering yours.

I'll assume that this is a Yes, you WILL answer my questions. Thank you.

So, you clarify by saying...

I'm asking whether you believe THOSE BELIEFS are either essential for all Christians or clear and unambiguous claims of the Bible.

Essential to whom? To EVERYONE who can be accurately described as a Christian.


Since the group "all Christians" holds many differing ideas as to what is and isn't essential, No, I can't answer what is ECD to all Christians, because all Christians do not/have not always been able to agree on essentials.

Nor have all Christians been able to agree on what is a "clear Bible teaching."

I can not - you can not, NO ONE can answer that question, because there is no assurance that ALL Christians will agree on what is a clear Bible teaching, or what is ECD. That is a simple fact.

Can we agree on that fact? That ALL Christians do not agree/have not agreed on ECD or on what is a "clear Bible teaching..."?

Now, on ECD, I think we can say that MANY evangelical Christians humans have agreed on some basics of some ECD. If you will accept an ECD that MANY human evangelical Christians will agree upon, then I would offer this example of an ECD that I affirm:

Jesus is the Son of God.

And I will offer this example of a "clear Bible teaching" that MANY human Christians can agree upon that I affirm:

When Jesus spoke of "blessed are you who are poor..." he was clearly speaking of the actual physically poor.

Does that directly and VERY specifically answer your questions?

NOTE: The reason why I am being quite specific (ie, that many human Christians can agree on these two teachings) is because I suspect that you're not asking me about teachings that humans have agreed upon. You're asking me, I suspect, what is the List of ECD that GOD has given us, or an example of a Clear Bible Teaching that WE HUMANS can NOT be mistaken about.

To THOSE questions, I affirm some basic facts:

1. God has NOT given us a list of ECD. Factually. Period.

2. Humans can be mistaken about our interpretations about many things, and often are.

So, with those caveats, I have now directly answered your questions, have I not?

Will you now take the time to go back through and answer my questions (which, again, are just clarifying that we agree upon real world facts, not really questions about any opinions)?

Dan Trabue said...

And just as a further explanation, where you say...

Clear to whom? To EVERYONE who reads the Bible in good faith.

I am noting that this is my point: Christians of good faith regularly disagree about text and ideas that seem abundantly obvious.

I would think that, given Jesus repeated references to the poor and the wealthy (I've come to preach good news to the poor... Tell John that the poor have the Gospel preached to them... Love of money is the root of all sorts of evil... blessed are you who are poor... etc, etc, etc) that CLEARLY, when Jesus says, "Blessed are you who are poor..." that the Bible is abundantly clear as a bell and obvious as it could possibly be that Jesus is speaking of the literal poor there. It seems obvious not just to me but to a whole slew of Christians, including John Wesley and many throughout Christianity's history.

And yet, no matter how clear I think it is or how I don't see it possible that anyone could take it as NOT being "the literal poor," some of your internet pals object to a literal reading of that text. Now, I do NOT for one minute think that they are being disingenuous, or that they don't believe what they believe in good faith. I just think that it is and always has been and always will be possible for Christians of good faith who are earnestly seeking God to come to entirely different conclusions on passages that both sides think are "obvious." It's just part of the human condition. We ARE human, prone to misunderstandings and failures and being mistaken.

And our failure to understand things perfectly is NOT an indication that we are deliberately lying, that we are "false teachers," or "heretics" or anything other than humans of good will who are sincerely mistaken.

This is central, I think, to your arguments about me being a "false teacher" because you have a hard time believing that people could reach some of my conclusions in good faith. But it happens. I HAVE reached my conclusions by honestly, earnestly seeking God's will. I can be mistaken, but I am not lying or deliberately choosing something I "know" is wrong.

And, given that and given what the Bible has to say about false teachers (that it is deliberate and intentionally deceptive and, generally, for reasons of power or greed), I just do not factually fit that category, as found in the Bible.

For what it's worth.

Bubba said...

Dan, I'll reiterate that I'm not asking an anthroplogical question about what MANY Christians HAVE believed about what's essential, or about what MANY people HAVE believed about what's clear from the Bible.

I'm not asking about what others have said, but what God has revealed.

"You're asking me, I suspect, what is the List of ECD that GOD has given us, or an example of a Clear Bible Teaching that WE HUMANS can NOT be mistaken about."

That's ALMOST exactly what I'm asking, except that I'm not asking for an exhaustive list of essential Christian doctrines, but only a single entry on that list, however long or short that list would be and however controversial some other entries would be.

"1. God has NOT given us a list of ECD. Factually. Period."

Okay, but has God revealed ANY doctrine that we can know with confidence that is essential to Christian faith? If so, surely you can name one.

Here, I point out that in Galatians 1, Paul, writing in the name and with the authority of Christ Himself as one of His hand-picked Apostles, pronounced a solemn curse against all false gospels and claimed that the gospel he preached isn't man's gospel but was given to him by divine revelation.

I can't see the point in Paul's telling us that his gospel is uniquely divine and warning us against believing false gospels if we cannot discern between God's true gospel and all false, merely human gospels.

In order to discern, we must be able to know at least some doctrines of the true gospel that cannot be removed without it becoming a false gospel.

(Going by Galatians 2, it seems clear that salvation by faith in Christ is essential to the true gospel, since replacing that doctrine with salvation by works of the law results in a false gospel.)

(And going by the apostolic teaching in I John 4, it seems clear that the Incarnation is another such doctrine: EVERY spirit that confesses that Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and EVERY spirit that does not is the spirit of antichrist.)

(Note that both of these essential doctrines depend upon the historicity of Christ.)

"2. Humans can be mistaken about our interpretations about many things, and often are."

Does our fallibility regarding interpeting MANY things extend to a fallibility in interpreting ALL things? If not, surely you can name one thing that the Bible teaches about which there can be NO possibility for a good-faith misunderstanding.

You keep bringing up Luke 6:20 as an example of a passage where I guess we're supposed to accept that people have reached different conclusions in good faith, but it's one thing to say that we CAN reach disagree on SOME teachings, and it's another thing entirely to conclude that good-faith consensus is impossible for ALL teachings.

--

You're quite right, I'm asking for "an example of a Clear Bible Teaching that WE HUMANS can NOT be mistaken about."

Yes, I am, and I've even done the legwork by giving two of the most incontrovertible and basic teachings imaginable.

1) The existence of God.

2) The historicity of Jesus.

Again, all you would need to do is reply that, OF COURSE, the Bible clearly teaches that God exists -- or, OF COURSE, the Bible clearly teaches the historicity of Jesus.

I believe with an unshakable conviction that the Bible clearly teaches the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.

Are even THESE teachings things "that WE HUMANS [CAN] be mistaken about"?

That is the question you have not answered to my satisfaction.

Craig said...

"...some of your internet pals object to a literal reading of that text."

I don't want to intrude too much, but if the above is in reference to our recent conversation on this issue, it is quite clearly a misrepresentation of my position. Intentional or unintentional, I can't say. But this does not in any way represent my position.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Does our fallibility regarding interpeting MANY things extend to a fallibility in interpreting ALL things? If not, surely you can name one thing that the Bible teaches about which there can be NO possibility for a good-faith misunderstanding.

You keep bringing up Luke 6:20 as an example of a passage where I guess we're supposed to accept that people have reached different conclusions in good faith, but it's one thing to say that we CAN reach disagree on SOME teachings, and it's another thing entirely to conclude that good-faith consensus is impossible for ALL teachings.


I use that one because I think it is SO incredibly obvious - that it would seem like NO one could possibly disagree - and yet, people do disagree on it.

I would think that your 1. The existence of God and 2. The historicity of Jesus would be similarly obvious, maybe even more so, and yet, I'm pretty sure that people of good faith COULD in theory disagree.

Which is not saying anything about the document, The Bible, and everything about human nature. Do you understand that?

I truly believe the capacity for humans of good will to get things VERY wrong, sincerely and in good faith. I mean, you had German Christians doing all manner of naughty things in the name of God during WWII and you had American Christians defending (still defending) the bombing of a town full of civilians during WWII as "defensible" even for Christians. So, I have a great deal of faith in our ability to get things wrong sincerely trying to do the right.

Do you have a passage for which there are NO humans who can not sincerely in good faith "get wrong..."? What would that be and what would your evidence be that those who disagree with your take have "gotten it wrong" and that they did not do so in good faith?

Marshall Art said...

Luke 6:20 can in no way be compared to the Biblical teaching of the existence of God or that there was a Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died after preaching in Judea. YOUR understanding of Luke 6:20 is nowhere near as clear and indisputable as the Biblical teaching of God's existence. The mere suggestion says much about one's willingness to engage honestly.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm not asking about what others have said, but what God has revealed.

Well, you and I may both agree that God has revealed a great many things. Those things would include, in MY opinion, that God is love, that we are to love our enemies, that God's Way is a Way of Grace, that we should live simply, that we should hold concern for the poor and side with and live with and for the poor, that we should not kill, rape or pollute (or certainly, not in an unsustainable manner) this Creation that God has made. Among other things. I think these revelations of God are obvious and intuitive, not hard to figure out. But, amazingly, not everyone would agree with my opinions. They would hold DIFFERENT opinions on at least some of those points or in the living out of those points.

Humanity is capable of having sincere disagreements about those things about which the answers might seem obvious to us (and to them).

Perhaps this is our main difference, where we diverge. You appear to think that there is some List of ideas about which people can NOT sincerely reach different opinions.

Is that correct?

(I'll start bold-ing my questions to make them easier to find so you can answer them...)

If so, what is that list?
On what do you base your list?
Has the Bible given us a list about which people can not be honestly, sincerely in disagreement? If so, where?


I think the "obvious" (there we go, again) and factual answer to these questions is we have NO such list of ideas about which people can not hold sincere disagreements. The bible has not given us this List and, if it did, God has not given us the Rubric by which we can sort out if it was a literal list or figurative. Reason has not provided any such list and History has given us a practically limit source of examples that seem pretty endless about which people can sincerely disagree.

I'll give you a chance to catch up on answering some of my questions, now.

Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

Just to be more clear: This is a conversation between Bubba and myself. I'll thank any and all to email me questions or wait for another post to offer your comments or questions.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm not asking about what others have said, but what God has revealed.

Well, you and I may both agree that God has revealed a great many things. Those things would include, in MY opinion, that God is love, that we are to love our enemies, that God's Way is a Way of Grace, that we should live simply, that we should hold concern for the poor and side with and live with and for the poor, that we should not kill, rape or pollute (or certainly, not in an unsustainable manner) this Creation that God has made. Among other things. I think these revelations of God are obvious and intuitive, not hard to figure out. But, amazingly, not everyone would agree with my opinions. They would hold DIFFERENT opinions on at least some of those points or in the living out of those points.

Humanity is capable of having sincere disagreements about those things about which the answers might seem obvious to us (and to them).

Perhaps this is our main difference, where we diverge. You appear to think that there is some List of ideas about which people can NOT sincerely reach different opinions.

Is that correct?

(I'll start bold-ing my questions to make them easier to find so you can answer them...)

If so, what is that list?
On what do you base your list?
Has the Bible given us a list about which people can not be honestly, sincerely in disagreement? If so, where?


I think the "obvious" (there we go, again) and factual answer to these questions is we have NO such list of ideas about which people can not hold sincere disagreements. The bible has not given us this List and, if it did, God has not given us the Rubric by which we can sort out if it was a literal list or figurative. Reason has not provided any such list and History has given us a practically limit source of examples that seem pretty endless about which people can sincerely disagree.

I'll give you a chance to catch up on answering some of my questions, now.

Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

One more thing while I'm waiting. You cited Galatians 1 in bringing up the topic of certainty. I would just hasten to point out that Galatians 1 is another of those passages that speak of actual false teachers. It includes this line...

Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

...to note that, here again, we have the DELIBERATE false teaching being what makes up the signs of a false teacher. These people are TRYING to "pervert" the Gospel. It is an intentional effort to deceive and destroy, not a mere human disagreement.

This is a large part of why I disagree with the "heretic"/"false teacher" club so many use to beat those with whom they have sincere disagreements. It seems "obvious" (there it is again) to me that people of good faith having sincere disagreements is NOT the same as "false teaching" as it is discussed in the Bible.

Also, in case you weren't clear in my answer, where you state...

all you would need to do is reply that, OF COURSE, the Bible clearly teaches that God exists -- or, OF COURSE, the Bible clearly teaches the historicity of Jesus.

I believe with an unshakable conviction that the Bible clearly teaches the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.


I, too, can say "of COURSE the Bible teaches God exists, the historicity of Jesus and can affirm that it clearly teaches this. JUST AS it clearly teaches that Jesus had a gospel specifically to the poor and that Christians should not kill their enemies in war time."

The question isn't whether or not I can affirm these, but whether or not we can realize that people of good faith can disagree on all of these "obvious" (to us) points.

Do you agree that people of good faith can and do disagree on these points?

If not, on what do you base your opinion that people can not disagree on those points in good faith?

The Bible does not tell us this. God has not told us this, so how do you reach that conclusion, IF you reach it?

Bubba said...

Since I would prefer to have this conversation without input from people who tend to agree with Dan, I have no problem with his request that no one else comment in this particular thread.

--

Dan, it seems that you believe there are no essential Christian doctrines or clear teachings of the Bible that are beyond any good-faith dispute. I do wish that you would say so outright, but my years of talking with you online has disabused me of having that otherwise reasonable expectation.

I take what I can get, and I'm guess this will be the closest thing I'll see to an explicit answer to my question.

"I would think that your 1. The existence of God and 2. The historicity of Jesus would be similarly obvious, maybe even more so, and yet, I'm pretty sure that people of good faith COULD in theory disagree."

"MAYBE" more so! You only concede that basic theism is as obvious as your take on Luke 6:20, and that it's "maybe" even more obvious, but you cannot say that it's obvious beyond any good-faith dispute.

You do not provide any other teachings of the Bible that are clear beyond good-faith dispute -- no other common claims of orthodoxy, and not even any of those passages that you like to bring up in discussions of ethics and economics -- I cannot conceive of any doctrines more basic and clearly taught than the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus, and so I can only conclude that you don't provide a teaching because you think none exists.

As I wrote earlier, if you cannot provide an essential Christian doctrine or clear biblical teaching, "you should make explicit your belief that there are no essential Christian doctrines or clear teachings of Scripture."

You don't, but the implications of what you have written leave no other reasonable conclusion. Unless you explicitly correct and actually clarify your position, I can only assume that you believe that there are no such doctrines or teachings.

Well, then, thanks, Dan.

You're apparently not going to answer to my satisfaction, but you have at least answered clearly enough that I have no real doubts about your position on the issue.

Close enough.

--

"Perhaps this is our main difference, where we diverge. You appear to think that there is some List of ideas about which people can NOT sincerely reach different opinions."

No, that's off on at least three important points.

1. My emphasis has not been on a "List" (or even a small-l list), but on the existence of even one doctrine or teaching about which there can be no good-faith dispute.

I do believe it's abundantly clear that some doctrines are essential to Christianity -- such as salvation by faith and not works, and the Incarnation of Christ; see my references to Paul and John above -- but I don't think it's a trivial task to enumerate ALL such doctrines, leaving out none that are essential and including none that are non-essential.

Not even the ancient creeds were attempts at such comprehensive lists: they were polemical more than systematic, stating beliefs in opposition to the era's most pernicious heresies.

We may not be able to construct a complete List with any confidence, but we CAN know that God's existence and Jesus' historicity is on that list.

The contrary position makes no sense to me, that just because we cannot construct a perfect list we can know nothing about what would be on that list.

(An analogy: suppose you worked in an office building in Manhattan, and looking out the window toward the Hudson River, you and your coworker unmistakably saw the rock band Aerosmith filming a music video on a ferry between New York and New Jersey. You could never hope to construct an accurate and complete list of "People on Manhattan Island on May 8th at 2:00 pm," but you would know that, if such a list could be compiled, you and your colleague would CERTAINLY be on the list, and Steven Tyler would not be.)

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

2. It's not about ideas about which "people" can disagree: it's been about CHRISTIANS. I'm not sure that even non-Christians can conclude in good faith that Jesus of Nazareth is ahistorical -- there's too much historical testimony to dismiss him as fictional, figurative, or mythical -- but I know for certain that a person cannot reach that conclusion AND STILL BE A CHRISTIAN.

3. It's not about "ideas" as private opinions that people hold, but about the explicit teachings of an exoteric and objective work of literature, namely the 66 books that comprise the Christian canon.

Even if people can in good faith disagree about whether God exists (Romans 1:20 certainly suggests otherwise), there can be no doubt that THE BIBLE TEACHES IT.

While he would deny that God exists, any honest atheist would admit that the Bible unmistakably teaches the doctrine which he denies.

"You appear to think that there is some List of ideas about which people can NOT sincerely reach different opinions."

No, I would put it this way:

There are individual doctrines about which CHRISTIANS cannot sincerely reach different opinions and remain Christians, and there are teachings of the Bible about which people cannot sincerely reach different opinions, NOT about whether the teachings are true, but about whether the Bible teaches them.

It appears that THAT is where we diverge, and I will assume as much unless you explicitly object and clearly explain where I'm wrong.

--

I think it's very important to explain the relevance of this disagreement. For one thing, I don't think you realize the frequent objectionable comment that you make that prompts my supposedly off-topic tangent.

But that can wait, and you insist that I answer some of your questions.

Well, some of your questions appear to be purely rhetorical (and arguably insulting), as your answer them yourself.

"Conversation is two way, Bubba. Why don't we try it like that? It really helps in communication."

And some, I've already addressed in some level of detail, particularly your questions regarding "essential to whom" and "clear to whom."

I've even partially addressed the question about "essential for what," noting that I don't think "saved" and "Christian" are interchangeable concepts.

You asked whether your summary of "where we diverge" is correct, and I just went into great length explaining why it wasn't.

The question I see that I haven't yet addressed but still think is worth addressing is this, is there a specific passage that I think is clear beyond good-faith dispute?

Genesis 1:1 comes immediately to mind.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

No other passage makes this verse challenging, and much of the Bible affirms it, elaborates on it, celebrates it in the psalms, and explains that Jesus is the Person of the Godhead responsible for creation (Jn 1:3, Col 1:16).

Mature and faithful Christians can disagree about details THAT ARE NOT MENTIONED IN THIS PASSAGE -- e.g., HOW God created the universe and WHEN, as in how long ago was "the beginning" -- but the teaching itself is beyond dispute.

1) God exists.

2) God is the Creator responsible for the act of creation, resulting in the entire universe.

3) God created the universe "in the beginning."

The verse is simple enough that a good-faith dispute about its being a clear teaching of the Bible is not possible.

If you have another question you'd like answered, fire away.

Dan Trabue said...

Questions I'd like answered...

1a. There is no such use of the term "orthodoxy" in Jesus' teachings or in the Bible. Agreed?

1b. There are no list of items/beliefs found in Jesus' teaching or in the Bible that "God" or anyone else has said, "These are the orthodox beliefs of Christianity." Agreed?

1c. Having said that, I agree that there are "teachings accepted as true" within the various human Christian traditions. They don't always agree, but largely, within the broad terms of traditional Christianity, there is much agreement on many of these beliefs or teachings.

1d. Having said that, these ARE definitively, specifically HUMAN ideas that HUMANS have agreed are "accepted as true." God has specifically and literally NOT given us a set of orthodox beliefs, laid out in indisputable stone.

Agreed?

=====

What makes a line from the Bible an "essential Christian doctrine..."? Human agreement. That is, some group of humans have agreed, "Yes, this passage reflects an ECD. No, that passage does NOT reflect an ECD..." etc.

Agreed?

=====

About false teachers, you presented two passages that touched on the theme. In both, the false teachers were not those who were merely sincerely mistaken, but those who deliberately lied/twisted/perverted issues, for a greed motive in at least your examples.

Are we agreed?

=====

I know that is a long list of questions, but they truly are just fact-check questions. I'm just stating facts about what does and doesn't appear in the Bible and I'm just checking to see that you can agree to the facts as they are.

more...

Dan Trabue said...

Some other open questions:

Can we agree on that fact? That ALL Christians do not agree/have not agreed on ECD or on what is a "clear Bible teaching..."?

I'm pretty sure your answer is Yes, so you can skip this unless your answer is no.

Continuing...

You affirm, vaguely, that there IS a small "l" list, of sorts - a "group" if you don't like "list," of individual beliefs - there are those things you think people CAN'T disagree upon in good faith.

On what do you base your list?

Has the Bible given us a list about which people
can not be honestly, sincerely in disagreement?

If so, where?

If not the Bible, on what do you base your "collection" of unnamed, unknowable(?), vaguely grouped individual beliefs about which we can't be sincerely mistaken?

About this non-listed "group" of beliefs, you say...

There are individual doctrines about which CHRISTIANS cannot sincerely reach different opinions and remain Christians, and there are teachings of the Bible about which people cannot sincerely reach different opinions, NOT about whether the teachings are true, but about whether the Bible teaches them.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. The Bible clearly has a line that says, "those who believe and are baptized will be saved..." The text is there and one could call that a "teaching," if one wanted to. We all can affirm simple textual existence of a phrase. That isn't the problem. The problem is the MEANING individual believers assign to the text. Is that text I just mentioned a "true teaching" about which one can't disagree in good faith? Why or why not?

What makes one passage impossible to have sincere disagreements about it and with another passage, it IS possible to sincerely disagree?

Also, along these lines, it appears you want too assume too much. You want, IT SEEMS, to not only be able to say, "I disagree with that interpretation," or, "you are clearly mistaken in that interpretation," but move beyond disagreement to an assumption on someone's motives. On what basis do you think it is fair and reasonable to assume that you can assign evil intent on someone who disagrees with your interpretation? Clearly, the Bible does not say that about any interpretation (that is, the Bible does not say, "you must believe and be baptized... AND, anyone who says otherwise obviously MUST BE deliberately deceitful....") about ANY interpretation, so this is not a biblical notion, so on what do you base it??

That'll do for now. I'll give you a chance to respond.

Thank you.

Dan Trabue said...

Actually, one more for now. About the creation text, you say...

but the teaching itself is beyond dispute.

I'd posit that the Bible is a book of passages and texts, but not every text is a "teaching..." "Teaching" to me, assigns a bit more deliberate intent and requirement of acceptance or not.

There is a text that says "men shall not lay with men..." in the middle of the Holiness Code with all manner of rules given specifically to ancient Israel at a specific time and place. There is another text that says "don't cut your hair on the side of your head, men..." in the same group of rules.

But these are not what I would call "teachings," in that, it's not a "ruling" teaching us how to behave. It's text in a story about ancient Israel.

"Teachings" are, it seems to me, what we take out of a text and assign meaning to it.

The TEXT of Gen 1:1 clearly says what it says. That is not in dispute.

It's when we get down to assigning meanings to texts that we can get human interpretive differences, and on those human interpretations, we get subjective opinions about which we can disagree.

I don't think it's the case, but Are you referring to this group of beliefs about which we can't disagree in good faith, meaning that if someone says "this text does not contain THESE WORDS (which clearly, the text contains)" that they are not disagreeing in good faith?

I mean, yeah, if that's all you're saying, of course that would be an example of not arguing in good faith, if someone says, "Gen. 1:1 tells us how to build rowboats... NOT what you are suggesting, Bubba, about 'in the beginning...'" But then, no one does that so I can't imagine you're talking about disagreeing with the presence of the actual text.

You see, as soon as we move from saying, "I affirm this text says what it says" to "... and it MEANS..." we've moved from a place where we can't disagree (because that would be disagreeing with reality) to an area of good faith disagreements, at least potentially.

Want to clarify?

Bubba said...

Dan, to respond to your 2:09 comment:

About the word "orthodoxy," I've already explained my belief that a book doesn't have to use a formal term to express the idea to which the term refers. See my comments on "theism" and the presence of the identity properties in a rudimentary book on arithmetic.

I've already made clear that my focus has not been on an exhaustive list of essential beliefs, but whether we can determine at least SOME beliefs that qualify as essential. See, among other things, my analogy about a complete list of people on Manhattan Island.

==

(I'm matching your use of these keystrokes above, to help you map my answers to your questions.)

I absolutely disagree with the claim that "human agreement" decides what beliefs are essential to Christianity. Not only do I refer you back to my comments on Paul and John, I remind you that Paul taught that we are dead in our sins without the Resurrection of Christ, and he did so with the authority of a hand-picked apostle of Jesus Christ. That makes it clear enough that we cannot dispense with the doctrine and that it is therefore essential.

==

Personally, I see nothing wrong with a definition of "false teacher" that just means someone who teaches false doctrine, whether he does so knowingly or innocently, and I'll reiterate from my first comment that the "false teacher" question was secondary to my main point of contention.

But, sure, I agree that the two passages we discuss attribute deliberate deceit to the false teachers.

- Galatians 1:7 mentions those who "want" to distort the gospel (Gk thelo, to intend).

- I Peter 2:3 attributes to the false teachers "greed" (pleonexia, avarice).

That doesn't actually resolve anything.

If you're right and there are no teachings from the Bible about which good-faith disputes are impossible, then indeed mere disagreement isn't enough to indicate that one or the other is a false teacher.

But what if you're wrong?

If I'm right and there ARE at least SOME biblical teachings about which there is no room for good-faith disagreement, then a contrary opinion on one of these clear teachings from an otherwise capable adult could ONLY be because he's being deliberately obtuse.

And there's that word: deliberately.

That individual would be guilty, first of deliberately deceiving himself that honest disagreement is possible, THEN by deliberately deceiving others in insisting that he reached his transparently implausible position through something like a careful and prayerful study of the text.

[More to come]

Bubba said...

About your 2:26 comment:

I agree that there isn't and probably cannot be consensus about the sum total of all beliefs, whether each is an essential Christian belief, a clear teaching of the Bible, neither, or both.

(For what it's worth, I believe that all essential Christian doctrines are also clear teachings of the Bible, but not vice versa. I believe I've said this before, but I cannot find where.)

But I do believe there is consensus among Christians about SOME clearly essential doctrines, and there is consensus among all people who study the Bible in good faith about its clear teachings.

I've mentioned two such doctrines repeatedly: the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.

There ARE some otherwise capable adults who claim to be Christians who consider God to be merely a useful human concept and who wonder aloud about whether Jesus really walked the earth.

Those people are liars.

And any otherwise capable adult who would express some reservation about whether the Bible teaches theism or the historicity of Jesus hasn't studied the text in good faith, no matter his protestations to the contrary.

Continuing...

I've already provided a partial look into the basis on which I believe certain doctrines are essential: look again to my discussions on Paul and John, but more broadly I believe the clear teachings of the Bible point to the essentials.

The more important a doctrine is to the Bible's overall message and especially to the gospel of salvation, the more apparent its necessity.

If you want a more detailed answer, we would have to tackle essential doctrines one at a time, but I'll give you a couple examples.

- I believe God's existence is an essential doctrine, in part because Jesus authoritatively taught that the greatest commandment is to love God, which is incoherent if God does not exist.

- I believe Jesus' historicity is an essential doctrine, in part because Paul authoritatively insisted both upon salvation by faith in Jesus and the necessity of the Resurrection of Jesus without which, we're dead in our sins. Both of these teachings are incoherent unless there was a living Jesus in whom we could have faith, who died and was subsequently raised.

From these two examples, you can see a pattern. If removing a particular organ causes death, that organ's essential; likewise, if contradicting a doctrine causes the Bible's overall message or the gospel message to fall into an incoherent mess, that doctrine is obviously essential.

"Has the Bible given us a list about which people can not be honestly, sincerely in disagreement?"

No, but I don't know why would we expect such a list or why my position implies the need for such a list. I don't need a list of people who are false teachers that deny the Incarnation: it's enough to know what the Apostle John taught about the Incarnation, and we all have both the ability AND the responsiblity to take that teaching seriously by opposing those who deny the Resurrection.

The last questions from your 2:26 comment lead directly to the entire next comment, and all of it can be answered together and will be answered presently.

[One more to come]

Bubba said...

Dan, toward the end of your 2:26 comment you raise a very good question.

"What makes one passage impossible to have sincere disagreements about it and with another passage, it IS possible to sincerely disagree?"

In your next comment, at 2:37, you distinguish between a text and its meaning.

"It's when we get down to assigning meanings to texts that we can get human interpretive differences, and on those human interpretations, we get subjective opinions about which we can disagree."

That's true, SOMETIMES.

--

To digress, I'd say that, because the Bible claims for itself a double authorship -- each book was written by God through men -- each text has at least two simultaneous meanings:

1) The "original" meaning that God intended to communicate to the original audience that the human author is addressing, sometimes quite explicitly, with Luke addressing Theophilus, Paul addressing the church at Rome, etc.

2) The "universal" meaning that God intended to communicate to all readers in all circumstances.

When I talk about a text's teaching, I find that I usually mean its universal meaning: since none of us in the 21st century are the direct and original audience, the "original" meaning isn't primarily for us: we can learn much about God and how He interacts with man, but we do so by "overhearing" His conversation with others, often Israel as a nation or early Christian congregations.

These multiple meanings, because they are simultaneous, are complementary, NEVER truly contradictory. Whatever God revealed or promised or commanded to the original audience, His message to us is similar if not precisely identical.

The coolest example I've ever seen of a text having multiple simultaneous meanings is Hebrews 3:7-11, quoting Psalm 95:7-11

"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.' As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"

There are four clear contexts for God's call to hear His voice and not harden your heart.

1) The events originally referenced, e.g., in Exodus 17 when the Israelites tested God by griping about being thirsty.

2) The psalm that looks backward to those events, calling the nation of Israel not to emulate their grumbling ancestors in the wilderness.

3) The author of Hebrews, urging his original readers to listen to God's call.

4) OUR reading the same passage now, recognizing it as Scripture.

Notice that the author of Hebrews writes that the Spirit SPEAKS -- present-tense -- through a psalm written centuries prior, about events that are even further back in the past.

John Stott points out that we must understand the universal meaning of any text in light of its original meaning, to avoid two dangerous errors.

1) If we study the original meaning without seeking the universal meaning, we're like antiquarians combing over merely ancient documents.

2) If we seek the universal meaning divorced from its original meaning, we fall into an existentialism where what we want to see overrides what a consistent God communicated to the earlier audience.

No, we look to understand the universal meaning in the context of the original meaning.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Take Deuteronomy 22:8, where the ancient Israelites were commanded to build railings on the roof of each house.

- We should not apply the text mechanically and start putting railing on our roof.

- At the same time, we should not ignore the teaching simply because it was part of the old covenant directed to an ancient agricultural society.

Instead, we find balance by recognizing that the teaching reveals our duty for due diligence in providing for the safety of our guests and others who are in our care -- and it reveals God's concern for that duty.

--

Now, I agree that a text can have multiple interpretations -- NOT complementary meanings for different audiences, as above, but COMPETING ALTERNATIVES for the correct meaning for a given audience.

How many plausible alternative interpretations can a text have?

I propose that a text CANNOT have an infinite number of plausible interpretations. A single finite text cannot mean LITERALLY anything.

That means that each text can only have a COUNTABLY FINITE number of plausible interpretations.

Sometimes that number is greater than one, at which point a text simply isn't clear beyond any good-faith dispute.

Sometimes that number is actually zero, as in the case of that famous sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."

But I put it to you that sometimes the number is one. Sometimes there is one and only one plausible interpretation of a given text. There's no reason why the range must necessarily jump from zero to 2+.

I propose that Genesis 1:1 is just such a text. It's meaning is clear and is almost identical to its semantic content (a good sign that interpretation is trivially easy): God exists and is the Creator, God created the universe, and God did so at the beginning of the universe's existence.

If there's another plausible interpretation, you ought to be able to produce it easily.

In the absence of a plausible alternative for a text that's been studied for literal millennia, I think it's safe to assume that no such alternative exists.

Therefore, there's only one interpretation for this particular text, and the text's meaning is clear beyond any good-faith dispute.

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, trying to figure out how best to systematically continue. Looking at a key point we've made...

whether we can determine at least SOME beliefs that qualify as essential.

Do you agree that the question "essential to WHOM?" is an important question to answer before answering the actual question?

If your question is, at its root, "Can we determine without possibility of error at least SOME beliefs that God considers essential?" (and I think that is what you have said), then are there not prior questions that must be answered...

Can we fallible, mortal humans know with 100% objective certainty anything about a God we can't measure, see or otherwise assess or ask questions of?

And...

Whatever beliefs or feelings you might hold as an individual human about what the Bible might tell you specifically about that topic, can you agree that it is a subjective and unprovable opinion?

From a purely rational point of view, can you agree with the fact that we can not demonstrate that we know 100% accurately anything about God?


The thing is, Bubba, ALL of our opinions about the what the Bible teaches or what it means are OUR human interpretations. That is a fact, I hope you can agree.

NOTE: I am not saying we can't hold positions about God that we humans find to be reasonably compelling, just that we can not say we know without possibility of error anything about God.

ALL of our opinions about what God does and does not want are also OUR human opinions, opinions we can neither prove nor disprove with any objective certainty. This, too, is a fact.

So, while I think I can "know" some things reasonably well about God and what God wants, it remains my human opinion, one that is subjective and unprovable. And the same is true for you and all of us.

So, can we "determine" at least some beliefs that GOD deems "essential..." with objective accuracy?

No, of course we can't. Do you disagree? If so, then it would seem to be a simple matter to objectively demonstrate that you can objectively "know" God's opinions about essential beliefs.

But all you can point to - all I can point to - are human interpretations of Biblical passages and human opinions about philosophy, nothing that I can think of to demonstrate one opinion is factually correct over another.

And, as the Bible tells us and as reason supports - HUMAN opinions about unprovable matters are subject to mistake and error. We see as through a glass darkly. We know ONLY in part.

The Bible teaches this very observable human reality.

Can we agree on all of this?

Dan Trabue said...

Two clarifying questions I have for you.

1. You have stated in a variety of ways, "If I'm right and there ARE at least SOME biblical teachings about which there is no room for good-faith disagreement..."

I would ask: On what basis do you think there are SOME topics about which you can't be mistaken?

Has the Bible definitely told you that you, Bubba, can NOT be mistaken on some topics? If the Bible has not told you this, who has?


I get that you have reasoned out some passages that hint to you that this is the case (that is, "Paul wouldn't say, 'I write you these things that you may KNOW...' if I, Bubba, couldn't know those specific things without error..."), but you can agree that there are no passages that tell us, "on these topics, people can't be mistaken..." Right? Indeed, the reality that some people will disagree sincerely on "these topics" - whatever they are - is real world evidence that people CAN and ARE mistaken on all topics.

I'm just wondering what is your source for your certainty about "some topics" about which you can't be mistaken?

2. You state...

There ARE some otherwise capable adults who claim to be Christians who consider God to be merely a useful human concept and who wonder aloud about whether Jesus really walked the earth.

Those people are liars.


I would ask:

Says who?

On what basis are you able to discern not only that they are mistaken, but what their inner motives are and that they are deliberately lying?


I hope you can see this is a pretty bold statement to make, some might even say arrogant, to aver that people who disagree with your interpretation are not only mistaken, but deliberately lying. How do you know? Because, to you, it "feels like" it would be impossible for someone to reach that opinion?

Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

And any otherwise capable adult who would express some reservation about whether the Bible teaches theism or the historicity of Jesus hasn't studied the text in good faith, no matter his protestations to the contrary.

Just one last clarification from me while I wait your responses. I raised this matter earlier, but just wanted to make sure we're clear on it.

IF there is someone who says, "I've read the Bible, SERIOUSLY seeking to learn what it means and my conclusion is: The Bible NEVER mentions God, nor does it ever one time talk about a man named Jesus..." THAT would be someone who is not being straightforward or arguing in good faith. Clearly, there IS text in the Bible that speaks of both God and Jesus.

I know of NO ONE who is doing that, but if there were someone doing that, we could conclude they were not arguing in good faith or were insane or illiterate and lying or otherwise not being straightforward.

The thing is, no one does that. Where people might differ - and do so in good faith - is in INTERPRETATION. Not, "The text does not exist..." when it clearly does, but "I think the stories of Jesus are best understood as a legend passed on by Jews hoping for the Messiah, they don't represent an actual person or his words..."

Now, I of course, would disagree with that conclusion, but I would not say that this person MUST be arguing in bad faith. There's room for honest disagreement, even though I may find his arguments wholly uncompelling.

Now, it's POSSIBLE that person might be arguing in bad faith, I'm just noting the capacity within the human race for sincere disagreement over a wide array of what may seem like obvious topics.

I have no hard evidence to support the claim "anyone who would say that is a liar" and don't find it plausible that everyone who might reach such an unlikely opinion is doing so in bad faith, perforce.

Do you? and, if so, where is your evidence? Just in the "I, Bubba, don't personally see how it's possible, to me, Bubba, therefore, since I, Bubba, don't see how it's possible, it's not" vein of evidence?

Bubba said...

A very busy weekend is about to start, so it may be a couple days before I can post anything resembling a thorough response.

With luck, it'll be late tonight after everyone's in bed.

Worst case, it may be Monday or even Tuesday.

Until then, I must say I appreciate this exchange. I'm not sure I'm at the point where I must retract even the most critical opinions I've had about you, but I must certainly reevaluate them, for at least one good reason:

While I still strongly disagree with you on a great many things, I understand the rationale behind your position much better because of this exchange. At its core, our disagreement is largely an epistemological disagreement.

How do we know what we know? How we can know these things with any certainty?

These are questions I cannot tackle in the time I have right now.

For the moment, just two bits of food for thought.

1) You ask:

Can we fallible, mortal humans know with 100% objective certainty anything about a God we can't measure, see or otherwise assess or ask questions of?

An unqualified answer of "no" is problematic, because it implies that we CAN know that we CANNOT know anything -- that is, we can know nothing about God EXCEPT His unknowability.

What makes God's unknowability uniquely knowable? Why couldn't we even know with confidence that God exists?

2) You mention the passage about how "We see as through a glass darkly. We know ONLY in part."

I agree, but that we means cannot know everything, NOT that we cannot know ANYTHING. We know only in part, but we do KNOW that which we know.

Seeing through a glass darkly obscures our view, but not so much that we can't see anything on the other side: the glass is translucent, not opaque, otherwise the analogy is wrong, and it ought to be said that we're staring at a wall that blocks our vision rather than THROUGH a glass that only obscures it.

After all, the Apostle who wrote that seemed very confident about a few key doctrines.

"I hope you can see this is a pretty bold statement to make, some might even say arrogant, to aver that people who disagree with your interpretation are not only mistaken, but deliberately lying."

It's no more bold than Paul's pronouncing a solemn curse on anyone who taught a false gospel, as if we were capable of discerning the true gospel from all its false rivals.

And in the same letter where Paul taught that we only know in part, he went on to claim quite boldly that, if Christ wasn't raised, we remain dead in our sins (I Cor 13:12, 15:17)

Since his claim in 15:17 is arrogant by your understanding of 13:12, it seems unlikely that your understanding matches what he meant by it.

More later.

Dan Trabue said...

As you have time. I'll look forward to your responses when you're able.

One response to what you just said...

An unqualified answer of "no" is problematic, because it implies that we CAN know that we CANNOT know anything -- that is, we can know nothing about God EXCEPT His unknowability.

What makes God's unknowability uniquely knowable? Why couldn't we even know with confidence that God exists?


I think I'm just speaking fairly straightforward factually. We don't know ANYTHING with 100% certainty if we can't measure it, check it, confirm it. That's just a statement of reality.

Thus, we can know that there are tens of thousands of deaths due to car wrecks each year because we can check accident reports and confirm the data. But we can't know with certainty that God has an opinion about air bags or about rifles or about the Amelekites or about how we cut the hair on the side of our heads or wear jewelry or who we marry. We simply DON'T factually know this because we have no way of confirming our conclusions.

Now, many of us accept the Bible as inspired, but even then, we will always have human interpretation of passages and those human interpretations ARE fallible. The text that says "sell your belongings and give it to the poor and follow Jesus," was that an indication that God supports everyone doing that literally? Was it a rule just for some people? Was it more of a figurative statement or general guideline, not an actual rule? These are all open to human interpretations and humans will disagree about how to interpret these, and many will do so in good faith.

I just can't see how this is anything but a confirm-able reality.

We'll talk more when you're able.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan,

It seems clear that we have fundamentally different views of epistemology -- of knowledge, what we can know, and how we can know it.

For one thing, I strongly distinguish between my ability to know a truth and my ability to demonstrate that truth. You seem to think that the one always implies the other, writing that "it would seem to be a simple matter to objectively demonstrate that you can objectively 'know' God's opinions about essential beliefs."

I know that I exist -- cogito ergo sum -- but while I can explain that argument for how any thinker can know that he himself exists, I cannot DEMONSTRATE to any other thinker that I objectively exist.

I can know that I exist.

You can know that YOU exist.

But for all I know, you could be an online simulation of a human being, a sophisticated version of the ELIZA program. Even if we met in person, you could be an elaborate illusion or a subjective hallucination -- or everything I perceive as reality could be false, as I could be dreaming or trapped in the Matrix or some other gnostic nightmare.

You cannot demonstrate to me that you exist, at least not to the same degree of confidence that is found in the argument of "I think, therefore I am."

But you still know that you exist.

Or, to take an example from the Bible, a servant at the wedding in Cana would KNOW that he put water in the jar but it came out as wine, and he could certainly testify to it, but he couldn't demonstrate it: I doubt any scientific test could ever prove OR disprove the miraculous origins of this otherwise ordinary (but tasty) wine.

His testimony would depend on his credibility as a witness, but such testimony is a perfectly valid source of knowledge.

You seem to think that our only source of metaphysically certain knowledge is empirical evidence.

"I think I'm just speaking fairly straightforward factually. We don't know ANYTHING with 100% certainty if we can't measure it, check it, confirm it. That's just a statement of reality."

Again, I don't think we can be 100% certain of any sensory input -- again see The Matrix -- and I believe that rational arguments from first principles are more sure than our mere senses, but your position is logically incoherent.

You make the same mistake as those who would claim, "All sentences are false," as the claim undermines itself.

"We don't know ANYTHING with 100% certainty if we can't measure it, check it, confirm it."

Can you measure that claim, check it, and/or confirm it? The claim that only empirical evidence is 100% trustworthy is **ITSELF** not subject to being measured, seen, assessed, checked or confirmed. BY ITS OWN STANDARDS, the claim doesn't stand up.

--

That's not the only time your arguments have been self-defeating. You seem to think that our fallibility requires us to be humble about every conclusion we draw, but you seem to consider your own beliefs about fallibility to be, well, infallible.

We both agree that humans are fallible, capable of making a mistake, but we differ on the degree of that capability.

I believe that we're SOMETIMES capable of making mistakes, but that there are times that all capable adults really are able to draw the correct conclusion, such that drawing the incorrect conclusion is evidence of a willful effort to argue in good faith.

You believe that we're ALWAYS capable of making mistakes, such that good-faith disagreement is ALWAYS possible, but you make one VERY noticeable exception: your own conclusions about fallibility.

Hence, your repeated insinuation that I'm arrogant for disagreeing with you: you apparently believe that no one could disagree with you in good faith about the extent of our own fallibility.

You think you can infallibly know that humans are OTHERWISE incapable of infallibly knowing anything.

Dan Trabue said...

A few responses...

I can know that I exist.

You can know that YOU exist.

But for all I know, you could be an online simulation of a human being, a sophisticated version of the ELIZA program.


While this may be a fun thought experiment in Philosophy 101, I think most of us find the hard evidence of mutual human existence (ie, we're not in The Matrix) to be strongly compelling. Being confident of what we can see, hear, taste and otherwise measure - even if there's a incredibly remote chance of a Matrix scenario - is not comparable to being confident that our interpretations of an ancient collection of books.

Bubba...

You seem to think that the one always implies the other, writing that "it would seem to be a simple matter to objectively demonstrate that you can objectively 'know' God's opinions about essential beliefs."

A question: IF you can't demonstrate your belief about what the meaning of a text is, on what basis should someone else accept your belief to be without error?

Bubba...

The claim that only empirical evidence is 100% trustworthy is **ITSELF** not subject to being measured, seen, assessed, checked or confirmed. BY ITS OWN STANDARDS, the claim doesn't stand up.

I'm not sure I understand. If I'm saying that the weight of a table or the height of a person is demonstrably factual, I CAN affirm the reality of those claims by measuring them. Thus, the claim DOES stand up.

How does it not?

Bubba...

You seem to think that our fallibility requires us to be humble about every conclusion we draw, but you seem to consider your own beliefs about fallibility to be, well, infallible.

No, I believe my fact claim about fallibility to be measurable. We can look at each person and see that they are fallible, thus supporting the claim. If you claim to be infallible, we can watch and measure your life, your claims and test to see if you are infallible.

But this is not in debate, since you don't claim to be infallible and, indeed, don't claim that anyone (other than God/Jesus) is infallible.

So, again, I'm not sure what you mean here, since we seem to agree on the point.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, it's my position that there are essential doctrines of Christianity and clear teachings of the Bible, neither of which can be denied in good faith by an otherwise capable adult.

You disagree, and about the former, you ask: essential to whom? essential for what?

Throughout the New Testament, Christ and His Apostles repeatedly distinguish between truth and falsehood: the Apostles proclaim the true good news ("gospel") and instruct us to guard that gospel and stand firm against false gospels.

The essential doctrines of Christianity are at least those claims that are essential to that Christian proclamation, the gospel message, the denial of which distinguishes false gospels.

They are essential to the gospel message, and they are essential FOR our proclamation of the true gospel to the exclusion of all the false gospels we are commanded to reject.

Essential according to whom? According to the Apostles, though admittedly some doctrines are more explicitly described as essential (again, see Paul and John on the necessity of the Resurrection and Incarnation).

And the Apostles claimed to be proclaiming God's revealed truth in Christ's name and with Christ's explicit authority: if they do so with credibility, they are merely conveying what God has revealed to them.

--

I'll reiterate that I distinguish between affirming Christian orthodoxy and being saved, and again one reason is that clearly some people were saved centuries before Christ's appearance, including Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and Elijah.

Certainly men like Enoch and Abraham were saved prior to the full revelation of the Christian good news (and even the use of the term "Christian"), but it's worth noticing that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness," and that points to one of the two core doctrines I keep mentioning, basic theism, the existence of God.

Earlier you mention the thief on the cross, and it is anachronistic to expect that a God of progressive (NOT corrective) revelation would hold a man against the full revelation of the gospel when it hasn't yet taken place.

Even still, the thief's comments point to those two core doctrines I keep repeating.

"Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." - Luke 23:40-41, emphasis mine

Huh. It looks like even this poor thief believed both in the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.

--

Look, Dan, as much as you deny the causal connection between Christ's death and our salvation, you are adamant that we are saved through faith.

But faith in whom? How can one have saving faith in God if he denies God's existence, and how can one call on the name of the Lord if he denies the historicity of Jesus?

("How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?")

We can hope that, in His mercy, God saves sinners despite some good-faith rejection of some part or other of the gospel, but we still have the Christian duty to defend the integrity of the gospel.

We should not arrogantly presume whether a neighbor is or isn't saved, as Jesus alone will declare whether He knew that person and will condemn even some who claim to have done mighty works in His name (Mt 7:21-23), but Jesus simultaneously told us that the false prophets could be determined by their fruit (7:15-20).

Matthew 7:21 is a key passage for our discussion.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

This warning can only be useful if the Father's will is, to at least some degree, definitely knowable.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"If I'm saying that the weight of a table or the height of a person is demonstrably factual, I CAN affirm the reality of those claims by measuring them. Thus, the claim DOES stand up."

But your claim wasn't just that measurable claims were completely trustworthy, but that ONLY measurable claims are trustworthy.

"We don't know ANYTHING with 100% certainty if we can't measure it, check it, confirm it."

Since you can't measure THIS PARTICULAR CLAIM, you cannot know it with 100% certainty, at least not according to the claim itself.

--

We both agree in the fact of human fallibility, yes, but where we seem to diverge is the EXTENT of human fallibility.

I believe that there are some things that we can know to the preclusion of any good-faith disagreement, that human fallibility allows for good-faith mistakes in SOME areas but not ALL areas.

You seem to disagree, believing that human fallibility allows for good-faith mistakes in ALL areas.

Well, really, all but one area: the extent of fallibility. It seems that you believe only arrogance could be behind someone's disagreeing with you on the extent of our fallibility.

--

Funny enough, your position parallels Stan's at Winging It.

He believes that human depravity prevents an unregenerate response of faith, and you believe that human fallibility prevents any reliable knowledge and good-faith consensus.

On occasion, Stan has erroneously suggested that pre-regenerate saving faith would be just another work, to be opposed as part of a works-based salvation when the Bible always contrasts faith and works.

In the previous discussion, you acted as if the knowledge that leads to saving faith is likewise just another instance of salvation by works.

Bubba said...

Dan, this statement points at the crux of our disagreement.

"Being confident of what we can see, hear, taste and otherwise measure - even if there's a incredibly remote chance of a Matrix scenario - is not comparable to being confident that our interpretations of an ancient collection of books."

Then the Apostles' work in writing down God's message of salvation was in vain, as is ultimately God's work in revealing Himself in Christ and then through His hand-picked Apostles -- or at least both are in vain for anyone past the Scripture's sell-by date, whatever date that may be.

"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." - Luke 1:1-4, emphasis mine

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." - John 20:30-31

It seems that the goal of the apostolic witness to Christ -- certainty about what took place, and saving faith that Jesus is the Messiah -- has been lost to the uncertainty that comes with time, if the goal was ever attainable at all.

Just a few days ago, you wrote:

"Where people might differ - and do so in good faith - is in INTERPRETATION. Not, 'The text does not exist...' when it clearly does, but 'I think the stories of Jesus are best understood as a legend passed on by Jews hoping for the Messiah, they don't represent an actual person or his words...'" [emphasis mine]

An otherwise capable adult simply CANNOT read the introductions to Luke's gospel and John's first letter and then Paul's clear teaching that we're dead in our sins without the resurrection, and STILL conclude "in good faith" that the Bible is not clear about the historicity of Jesus.

If the Bible is not clear about the historicity of Jesus, it's clear about nothing: a book that can mean literally anything means nothing.

But it is clear, and so we're back to the observation that irked you from the last thread.

After you accused your opponents of bigotry, bullying, and religious fanaticism, I noticed how Bryce's expression of gratitude toward you suggested that he didn't realize that you love the Bible and strive to conform to its teachings.

"It’s people like you who are the only ones tying me down to religion. Everybody else seems to believe that six verses written thousands of years ago should matter more than the reality of today. That I should be condemned as both a person and as a potential parent, due to six verses written thousands of years ago."

And now, you dismiss our ability to draw ANY sure conclusions from "an ancient collection of books."

Is it really any wonder that people like Bryce conclude that you're a religious ally AGAINST the authority of Scripture?

Dan Trabue said...

Again, I rather doubt that you are accurately understanding Bryce. You probably should ask him what he thought than presuming you are understanding his position. You have a history of misinterpreting folk from the "other side..."

A few responses, a few questions...

your claim wasn't just that measurable claims were completely trustworthy, but that ONLY measurable claims are trustworthy.

I did not say either of those propositions. Here's a case in point: You've misunderstood my actual position. To clarify:

Measurable claims ARE measurable, that would be my point. Now, we all know that measurements can be off, data can be off, data can be twisted. I'm not saying any of that I'm just saying that measurable claims are measurable.

Nor did I say that only measurable claims are trustworthy. I hold a whole host of positions that I think are solidly rational and moral. I think they are reasonable positions to take. I don't need to know with 100% certainty to stake out a position on an opinion about morality. I think you can reasonably rely upon the moral OPINION (one that is unprovable, but reasonable) that "We should not rape children or kill them for sport. Doing so is wrong." That is a reasonable moral opinion for a wide variety of reasons.

I'm just noting the reality that
1. our opinions about what God does or does not approve of are not provable, and
2. thus, people of good faith WILL disagree on a wide variety of topics, including some who will take the position that it IS moral sometimes to target children for death (or at least include children in a target area where they will die).

Again, we have no reason - no evidence - to back the claim that "Because someone disagrees with ME, Bubba, on a topic that I, Bubba, think is abundantly clear, they must be lying and not arguing in good faith..."

Is there any hard evidence for that sort of claim, or is it entirely an opinion - unsupported - of Bubba? If the latter (and it is the latter), on what basis should we decide, "Okay, if Bubba thinks it, it must be true..."?

More later...

Dan Trabue said...

Okay, returning to some of my questions and your answers (or not) to them. I'll number them for reference sake...

1. Do you have a passage for which there are NO humans who can not sincerely in good faith "get wrong..."?

Your answer appears to be any passages which speak of God's existence or Jesus' literal existence, that no one could possibly get those teachings "wrong..."

Is that correct?

But what is your evidence that no one could possibly reach a "wrong" belief about them and do so in good will? [See Question 2]

2. What would that be and what would your evidence be that those who disagree with your take have "gotten it wrong" and that they did not do so in good faith?

So, you offered a verse that speaks of God creating the earth as an example that someone could not read and disagree with the notion of there being a Creator God. Even unbelievers, I believe you said.

But a person could, in good faith, read that passage and their take-away would be, "this is a story in the Creation Myth vain," and, in good faith, sincerely believe that just because there is a story that begins in this creation myth sort of way, that it demands a literal God. Is this not the case?

3. If not, why not?

I asked about whether you thought there was a list of items found in the Bible about which we can not disagree...

4. what is that list?

On what do you base your list?

Has the Bible given us a list about which people can not be honestly, sincerely in disagreement? If so, where?


You appear to answer, NO, there is no such list, but the absence of any such list does not mean there are no items on which we can't disagree. You said...

My emphasis has not been on a "List" (or even a small-l list), but on the existence of even one doctrine or teaching about which there can be no good-faith dispute...

We may not be able to construct a complete List with any confidence, but we CAN know that God's existence and Jesus' historicity is on that list.


My question in response to this:

5. How do we "know" this?

You appear to try to answer this by citing the Genesis 1 passage and you go on to say...

the verse is simple enough that a good-faith dispute about its being a clear teaching of the Bible is not possible.

More...

Dan Trabue said...

So, my follow up question is...

6. Why? Says who?

You appear to be saying, "If a passage is 'SIMPLE ENOUGH...' then no one can disagree in good faith." Right? But that begs the question that I asked, "Simple enough, TO WHOM?" Implicit in your statement is the assumption that the passage is "simple enough" and "obvious..." TO YOU, Bubba. But is that the criteria by which we "know" some idea can not be disagreed upon? If it is obvious TO BUBBA, then no one can possibly disagree with your interpretation?

When I put it like that, I am certain you agree that NO, this is not the criteria. I would then ask for a more complete answer to number 6: WHY? Says who?

About the "group" (list, accumulated individual beliefs, whatever) of items that we "can't" disagree upon in good faith, I ask...

7. What makes one passage impossible to have sincere disagreements about it and with another passage, it IS possible to sincerely disagree?

I asked...

8. Can we fallible, mortal humans know with 100% objective certainty anything about a God we can't measure, see or otherwise assess or ask questions of?

You responded...

An unqualified answer of "no" is problematic...

and went on to try to explain why No is problematic. Does that mean your answer is Yes, there ARE some things we can know with absolutely 100% certainty that our human opinions are without error?

If so...

9. What are those things that we can know without any chance of human error? On what do you base this?

You appear to be answering, "I, Bubba, think we can not reasonably be mistaken on SOME things, but I am not able to say which things are on that 'list' of things we can KNOW with certainty... but there are some anyway..." or something to that effect.

Follow up:

10. If we can't know, with certainty, the list of items on which we CAN know, with certainty, how do we know, with certainty, what is in that list?

I guess, in short, it all seems to be coming back to the fact that the Bible does not teach there are a list of things about which humans can reasonably disagree upon, but you are certain that such a grouping exists, but you can't prove it or name the items in that grouping, except for two examples, which you are sure are in that grouping, but it seems to you, Bubba, that some ideas are so obvious (to you, Bubba) that other people could not possibly disagree with you, Bubba.

So, my summing, over-arching question is:

11. If you can't demonstrate which items MUST be agreed upon and with items absolutely can NOT be disagreed upon in good faith... on what basis would we decide to accept your unsupported opinion?

Looking forward to answers to these 11 (although, admittedly, they may be somewhat redundant and somewhat touched on already, I'm still not getting your answers to them, so I'd appreciate answers as directly as possible to each of them, so I don't miss your answers).

Thanks.

Bubba said...

Dan, if our disagreements were really the result of misunderstandings on my part, to the degree that you like to portray, then this particular conversation would be going very differently.

You would be telling me something like how you really do believe that the Bible clearly does teach the existence of God and the historicity of Christ, and I would be arguing, quite unreasonably, over areas of obvious agreement because I didn't understand that we're really on the same page.

You now write, "Measurable claims ARE measurable, that would be my point."

Ah, you were just stating trivial tautologies and not drawing any larger conclusions from that point. You weren't arguing that measurable claims are the only claims we can trust absolutely.

I don't know where I got the crazy notion that you believe we cannot know anything with 100% certainity if it's not measurable.

Except, that's exactly what you wrote:

"We don't know ANYTHING with 100% certainty if we can't measure it, check it, confirm it."

If that's not what you meant, you shouldn't have written it, and the decent thing is to simply state that you miswrote rather than now blame your opponent for drawing entirely reasonable conclusions from what you now say you've misstated.

--

Some of the questions you've asked, I think I've already answered as thoroughly as I can.

What you now number as question 7, for instance, I explicitly addressed in my comment on May 8, 4:16 PM, after first quoting the question and briefly digressing.

I'm not sure why you're restating the question unless you think I didn't even address it.

Again, my argument is that, since no text can mean literally ANYTHING, each text has only a countably finite number of plausible interpretations.

Indeed, sometimes that number is greater than one, and when the sentence is semantically nonsensical, that number is zero. I see no reason why the number of possible meanings includes zero and two but not the number in-between.

--

Some qutestions you ask, I've already explained why I do not see their relevance.

"10. If we can't know, with certainty, the list of items on which we CAN know, with certainty, how do we know, with certainty, what is in that list?"

Look again to my analogy regarding inhabitants of Manhatten on a given day and time.

Your question implies that a DA couldn't prove that the defendent was at a particular bar without a complete list of that night's patrons.

"You have multiple eyewitnesses AND a videotape of me at the scene? Pheh, you can't prove *I* was there unless you can list EVERYONE who was there!"

What patent nonsense.

--

And your question of "Says who?" is juvenile. I'm not making an appeal to my own authority in my "demi-perfection," anymore than YOU'RE appealling to your own authority when you wrote this:

"IF there is someone who says, 'I've read the Bible, SERIOUSLY seeking to learn what it means and my conclusion is: The Bible NEVER mentions God, nor does it ever one time talk about a man named Jesus...' THAT would be someone who is not being straightforward or arguing in good faith. Clearly, there IS text in the Bible that speaks of both God and Jesus."

Here you're not arguing from authority, you're arguing from the text itself. That is a reasonable thing to do, but it's an activity that you apparently reserve for yourself.

Or did I miss where you showed where your positions meet your own ridiculous standards?

Your take is that the Bible "speaks of" God and Jesus, even if it's an open question whether what it insists on their actual existence.

What would your evidence be that those who disagree with your take do not do so in good faith?

Is it just in the vein of "I, Dan, don't personally see how it's possible, to me, Dan, therefore, since I, Dan, don't see how it's possible, it's not"?

Bubba said...

Dan, this isn't the first time this subject has been at the center of our disagreements: your position that there are no essential Christian doctrines explains why you do not insist upon the bodily Resurrection and cannot even affirm that an outspoken atheist must renounce his denial of God in order to become a Christian.

But the subject has also been tackeled more directly, in a different thread started explicitly for the benefit of our discussion, that time at Criag's.

There, I had asked, what are the essential truths of the Bible?

You didn't argue that there's no such thing, and you didn't ask questions like, "essential to whom?"

Instead, you called it a "fairly easy question to answer," and your answer included God's love for us and His offer of salvation, and it included both the claim that Jesus is the Son of God and the claim that He was killed, ALL OF WHICH imply the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.

You then followed up with a "systematic approach to listing what [you] think essential teachings are found in the Bible," and again God and Jesus are present and quite active in your list, creating us, inviting us to join His "party" and wanting us to love one another.

Now, you've written that this is the place for discussion if I have some "real concerns about [your] faith journey striving by grace to walk in the steps of Jesus."

You seem to know even less than you did five years ago, when you were quick to affirm a number of essential teachings, and that would be an area of concern.

I'd be curious to know what happened, beyond the general phenomenon in which the stubborn adherence to a few fallacies tends to metastasize through a person's entire belief system.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

And your question of "Says who?" is juvenile. I'm not making an appeal to my own authority in my "demi-perfection," anymore than YOU'RE appealling to your own authority

It's a reasonable question.

You want to say that someone can't possibly interpret it differently than I do. I'm saying, "clearly, people do, factually speaking, in the real world."

I have the evidence of real people actually, honestly disagreeing with you in the real world.

You have, "I, Bubba, can't imagine that is true..."

It's a reasonable question. You said you'd answer questions.

Answer, please.

Bubba said...

I have answered questions, Dan: plenty of them in this thread alone, and with AT LEAST as much clarity as you approached answering the *ONE* question I repeatedly asked you to answer.

I thought you were apologetic for insinuating that I couldn't be trusted to engage in a fair give-and-take, insisting that I "assure" you that I would respond to your questions. Now you're back to the same insinuation.

I *DID* address that particular question, Dan. I stand by my describing the question as juvenile, since especially snotty children will use those very words of "says who?" to dismiss even self-evident statements of fact that they find inconvenient, but that's not all I wrote in response.

In quoting me, you cut off the response mid-sentence without even the common courtesy of using ellipses. If you had read past what you quoted, you will see that I provided a very substantive response, pointing out that you make a similar claim without providing your own source of authority.

You wrote that, if a person claimed to have carefully studied the Bible and then denied that it even mentioned God, "THAT would be someone who is not being straightforward or arguing in good faith."

Your question is as relevant to that claim as it is to mine: SAYS WHO?

On what basis should we decide to accept your unsupported opinion?

--

My position is that, since like any other text the Bible cannot lead to a literally infinite number of plausible interpretations, there are some interpretations that an otherwise capable adult cannot make in good faith.

The most obvious example is simply theism, that the Bible clearly teaches the existence of God.

"I have the evidence of real people actually, honestly disagreeing with you in the real world."

Are they disagreeing on this particular claim, that the Bible teaches that God exists? If not, their disagreement with me is irrelevant, because I am not arguing that no one can disagree with me ON ANY TOPIC and do so in good faith.

Earlier you wrote, "I'm just noting the capacity within the human race for sincere disagreement over a wide array of what may seem like obvious topics."

That's fine, because I'm not disputing that: what I'm disputing is that that "wide array" of topics is INFINITELY WIDE and is wide enough to include such trivially obvious claims as, "The Bible clearly teaches that God exists."

(Since you don't think that a person can believe in good faith that the Bible doesn't even reference God, you have your limits, too. You don't really believe in an infinitely wide array of topics on which genuine disagreement is possible, as is often the case, we're just arguing over where to draw the line.)

Do you have evidence that people "in the real world" dispute my claim that the Bible clearly teaches the existence of God, and evidence that they do so "honestly"?

If you do, produce it. PPOR.

Anything less doesn't prove nearly what you think it does.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I stand by my describing the question as juvenile, since especially snotty children will use those very words of "says who?" to dismiss even self-evident statements of fact

I used "Says who?" as a way to lighten the question with a bit of humor. Sorry it was lost on you.

The question: Based on whose authority? is a valid question.

What is your answer to this valid question?

You cite, "Self-evident." But that begs the question: "Self-evident..." to WHOM? Because it factually, clearly is not self-evident to everyone.

Of course, this is a convenient dodge. Self-evident is defined "clearly true and requiring no proof or explanation..." But your claim DOES require proof, you can't just say, "nu-uh, ain't gonna answer it. self-evident, so there, nyaa!"

That, my dear friend, would indeed be childish.

It is not clearly true,if it were, everyone would agree with you, there would be no debate, because it would be clearly true. Your position is not clearly true, so it requires an answer.

So, on whose authority do we kneel to your understanding?

And just so you're not confused, let me re-state the context:

Bubba...

There ARE some otherwise capable adults who claim to be Christians who consider God to be merely a useful human concept and who wonder aloud about whether Jesus really walked the earth.

Those people are liars.


Dan:

On what basis are you able to discern not only that they are mistaken, but what their inner motives are and that they are deliberately lying?

It is clearly is not self-evident, so I'm going to hold you to your assurance that you will answer the question, as this is a primary question in are disagreements.

Bubba...

If you had read past what you quoted, you will see that I provided a very substantive response, pointing out that you make a similar claim without providing your own source of authority.

The difference, Bubba, is that I AM NOT SAYING NO ONE CAN POSSIBLY HAVE another, different opinion in good faith. You are.

That is the difference.

I'll await your promised answer.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

As to this...

with AT LEAST as much clarity as you approached answering the *ONE* question I repeatedly asked you to answer.

I have given you a very precise and clear answer to your question.

FOR ME, one answer to your question is that Jesus was clearly speaking of the literal poor and literal rich in the many places he refers to the rich and the poor.

FOR ME, I can agree that the Bible clearly teaches Jesus as a historical person and God as a genuine entity.

FOR OTHERS, they might have other answers or different opinions, I can not speak for others.

BUT, the question you really wanted answered, "What is God's answer to your question?" I can not answer that for a very precise, rational and abundantly obvious reason: I. Am. Not. God.

I would have thought that evident to you by now.

So, don't try to sell some weak vinegar as champagne, Bubba. I answered your question with amazing precision and clarity. In addition, my answers have the benefit of being obviously, observably factual, with no real room for disagreement.

Now, for your answer...

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, I have addressed your question, and I simply cannot let your most recent comments pass as if they were remotely accurate or consistent.

I made very clear what I asked from my very first comment here.

I had asked for you to name an essential Christian doctrine "such that its affirmation is required for Christians and its denial is forbidden for Christians," or name a clear teaching of the Bible "such that all good-faith readers would conclude that the Bible teaches it, and anyone who disagrees cannot be arguing in good faith." [5/7, 12:33 pm]

I then made explicit what I would expect if you were unable to do either.

"If you cannot do either, you should make explicit your belief that there are no essential Christian doctrines or clear teachings of Scripture." [5/8, 5:50 am]

You. did. neither.

Your writing about what's clear "FOR ME" but not "FOR OTHERS" is probably as close as I'm going to get, to your making explicit your belief that there are no essential doctrines or clear teachings of the Bible, about which good-faith disagreement is not possible.

I accepted your answer as close enough, but do not expect me to laud you for your "amazing precision and clarity."

--

"The difference, Bubba, is that I AM NOT SAYING NO ONE CAN POSSIBLY HAVE another, different opinion in good faith. You are."

The thing is, I've already quoted where you do exactly that, and I'll quote it again.

"IF there is someone who says, 'I've read the Bible, SERIOUSLY seeking to learn what it means and my conclusion is: The Bible NEVER mentions God, nor does it ever one time talk about a man named Jesus...' THAT would be someone who is not being straightforward or arguing in good faith. Clearly, there IS text in the Bible that speaks of both God and Jesus." [5/9, 7:59 am, emphasis mine]

And I see that you've done it again: your crowing about your "amazing precision and clarity" is not only inaccurate, it's inconsistent with your apparent position that you can only determine things for yourself and not for everyone.

"In addition, my answers have the benefit of being obviously, observably factual, with no real room for disagreement." [emphasis mine]

In this very same, last comment of yours, you implied that only God Almighty could see what is true beyond any good-faith disagreement. (How could one know that?)

Are you now arrogating for yourself knowledge that is only available to God? Even though you insist you. are. not. God?

--

You ostensibly started this thread for me to raise questions if I have "some real concerns about [your] faith journey."

You've seen much more interested in hectoring me about your questions than in answering my one sustained question, and more than that, you've repeatedly misrepresented what you've written. You've avoided a clear answer to my question, and your own writing is inconsistent with your implicit position.

I would have hoped for more in an honest discussion, but I can't say I was the least bit surprised about what I got from you.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm interested in seeing you do what you said you'd do and answer the questions because you said you would do so.

Now, let me explain, again, why I've answered your question in spectacular exactness and precise detail, factually so, and why your NOT answering the question I've asked is holding me up on answering these additional questions you are asking.

1. I am trying to answer all your points and questions in an orderly, precise manner. Thus, I started with your first question.

2. When you complained about that, I moved to the question you said you wanted me to answer and asked some clarifying questions first (answer your question, for whom?), because the answers to those clarifying questions MATTERED to my answer to your question.

3. You did at least answer the clarifying questions (You wanted me to answer for God and/or for "all people."

4. Thus, you asked, TO GOD, what is an Essential Christian Doctrine. You wanted me to answer, on God's behalf, what God considers an ECD. Here's that exchange...

Dan:

"You're asking me, I suspect, what is the List of ECD that GOD has given us, or an example of a Clear Bible Teaching that WE HUMANS can NOT be mistaken about."

Bubba:

That's ALMOST exactly what I'm asking, except that I'm not asking for an exhaustive list of essential Christian doctrines, but only a single entry on that list...

5. Okay - now HERE (again) is the exact answer to your specific question (two questions, in my response, so I'll answer both, precisely, factually and accurately), once we narrowed it down:

5a. I AM NOT GOD and I CAN NOT ASK GOD WHAT GOD'S OPINION ABOUT ANY CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, THEREFORE, I CAN NOT ANSWER AUTHORITATIVELY, beyond-all-doubt what God's opinion is. Nor can you. Factually speaking.

5b. Human people can and have been mistaken about practically everything. We have NO real-world, factually-based reason to think that there is some set of beliefs that humans can not be mistaken on. We have NO biblical reason to think so, either.

...

Those are specific and direct answers to the questions you asked and clarified. I was trying to reach some common ground on this basic reality before going on to address your later clarifying questions/comments because I was being orderly and precise.

Thus, I had not yet proceeded to your later questions because you have not addressed the questions I have when you objected to my reality-based answers to your question. You object to my reality-based answers and said that people who do object to SOME ideas (vaguely and not specifically enumerated, but SOME ideas, including God is God and Jesus was a historical person...) are liars.

Given my reality-based answers to your question, I noted that in the real world, we have no reason, no grounds, no rational basis to make that assumption. I then asked you, ON what basis would you make that assumption?

This is the reasonable question that remains unanswered. Your answer to that question matters to your later questions/points.

You can't just beg off rational, orderly questions in an adult conversation if you wanted to be taken seriously, Bubba. You said you'd answer, answer.

Dan Trabue said...

But in order to do what I can to further the conversation, I will answer your point you say I have left unaddressed (I'm inserting letters in your questions/comments for reference sake)...

A. I had asked for you to... name a clear teaching of the Bible "such that all good-faith readers would conclude that the Bible teaches it, and anyone who disagrees cannot be arguing in good faith."

I then made explicit what I would expect if you were unable to do either.

B. "If you cannot do either, you should make explicit your belief that there are no essential Christian doctrines or clear teachings of Scripture."


A. I explained, clearly and specifically, why the question, "A clear teaching of the Bible TO WHOM?" is a vital question. If you want to know what many S. Baptists think, I could answer THAT question, if you want to know what I think, I could answer THAT question (and did).

You were not, it appears, asking for the answer according to various people, you wanted to know the answer, definitively, in GOD'S OPINION.

I then answered that I am NOT God and am unable to say, "IN GOD's OPINION, this is the answer..." Nor can you unless you're confusing yourself with God or have an ego the size of the universe.

Do you disagree? Do you think that people CAN say, "Here is God's opinion on this topic, authoritatively so..."?

B. IF I am unable to name authoritatively God's opinion on any idea, then I should say there are no "essential Christian doctrines...? But I DO think there are doctrines that are the essence of Christianity, in my (and other human) opinion. I'm just not willing to speak on God's behalf, "HERE IS GOD'S AUTHORITATIVE OPINION, from my lips to your ears..."

Do you get that? I DO think there are some teachings that are of the essence of Christianity (thus, "essential Christian doctrines," at least in that sense).

My answer to your first query then is specifically and literally, "No, I know of no topics on which humans can be mistaken on, given all the real world evidence and, added to that, the fact that the Bible makes no such claim" and, "I can not say authoritatively and with no possibility of human error, 'this is God's opinion...'"

And to your second point my answer is specifically and literally, clearly, "I DO think that there are teachings that are the essence of Christian teachings, according to our human understanding."

Thus your questions and clarifications have been repeatedly answered specifically, clearly and literally.

I await your answer, because it really comes down to that one question, "On what basis do you think that those people 'must' be lying?" "On what basis do you think you can speak - with no fear of error - 'THIS IS GOD'S OPINION on this topic...'"?

Says who, Bubba? On what authority, what rational grounds?

Because, I have to tell you right now, it seems to all come down to, "I, Bubba, think it, therefore it HAS to be factually true..." that is the only answer I've received from you (ie, your claim that your opinion is "self-evident," when clearly, by definition, it is not.)

The ball remains in your court.

Bubba said...

Dan, I'm frankly confused.

On the one hand you write, "I know of no topics on which humans can be mistaken on."

On the other hand, you treat your own positions on this matter as "factual" and "reality-based."

You apparently cannot be mistaken, that humans can be mistaken on anything.

--

I need to appeal to no authority to state what is obvious to anyone who is not being willfully blind.

Theism is essential to Christianity: theistic Christianity is redundant, and atheistic Christianity is a contradiction in terms. The existence of God is the foundation doctrine on which all else rests, including the greatest commandment according to Jesus.

Theism is also clearly taught in the Bible: The claim that God exists is one of the clearest messages of the Bible, whether or not a person accepts that message.

I'm doing nothing here but stating the obvious.

Dan Trabue said...

...the obvious... TO YOU, BUBBA.

But Bubba is not the sole arbiter of reality, do you recognize that?

If you aren't going to answer the questions I AM asking you, how about that question, Bubba: Do you realize that in this whole wide world, you are not the sole arbiter of what is "obvious..." and when you say, "it's obvious," you MEAN, "It's obvious, to me and people who agree with me, but not to everyone..."

This is what it comes down to. You can't/won't answer this question because to do so exposes the hole in your reality/your argument.

You WANT to say, "I don't need to answer because the answer is obvious (to me) and therefore, a fact..." but that is not reality. In short, you are confusing fact with opinion.

Bubba...

On the other hand, you treat your own positions on this matter as "factual" and "reality-based."

Bubba, do you realize that people can be mistaken about facts? I do, do you? There is nothing inherently contradictory in my point, which is what you seem to want to suggest.

I'm stating facts, here they are again:

* I AM NOT GOD and I CAN NOT ASK GOD WHAT GOD'S OPINION ABOUT ANY CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, THEREFORE, I CAN NOT ANSWER AUTHORITATIVELY, beyond-all-doubt what God's opinion is. Nor can you. Factually speaking.

That is simply a fact. Do you disagree?

* Human people can and have been mistaken about practically everything.

That is a fact, as well. Do you disagree?

But it doesn't matter. I see now that you will ask questions but not answer them, at least when the answer is inconvenient.

So, to answer for you/sum up for all of us:

Bubba does not seem to be able to distinguish between fact and opinion. He apparently thinks he can speak authoritatively for God (correct me if I'm mistaken, but I think that's what you're saying.)

Not only that, but Bubba (appears to) think he can speak for all of humanity and say that no one could possibly agree with his interpretations and so, if someone disagrees with an opinion or interpretation of Bubba's, that is how Bubba can KNOW they are lying: Because they disagree with Bubba on ideas that BUBBA THINKS are indisputable.

I posit that we can not definitively, authoritatively speak for God or anyone without being able to confirm that we've correctly understood their position and do so with 100% certainty that we guessed their meaning correctly.

I further posit that this is an observable fact, based on real world observations that anyone (actually anyone, not Bubba's "anyone") can see and measure and prove.

I posit that it is arrogant to presume to speak for God, especially something that God has not said.

Bubba appears to disagree.

If you wish to start actually answering the hard questions, please do so. If not, thanks for at least trying.

Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm frankly confused.

On the one hand you write, "I know of no topics on which humans can be mistaken on."

On the other hand, you treat your own positions on this matter as "factual" and "reality-based."


You actually provide a great case study. Here I am, stating observable facts:

1. I am not God. Fact.
2. I can not ask God (and receive an answer directly) to clarify God's opinion on various interpretations of the Bible. Fact.
3. Therefore, I factually can not state authoritatively, "I KNOW God's opinion about x, y, z or ANYthing, beyond any doubt, because God is not telling us and we have no way of confirming our guesses as to what God might think." Fact.

Each of these are observable, obvious facts. And yet, in spite of their factual nature, you appear to be mistaken and think that some - at least you - CAN know factually, authoritatively God's opinion on various ideas. If so, you are observably mistaken/in error. And yet, you sincerely appear to believe it (or not, you tell me), in spite of having no proof other than your say so that you're correct.

So, you demonstrate for us that a thing can be both a fact and someone can be mistaken about it.

Bubba said...

You think my position that the Bible clearly teaches the existence of God is only obvious "to me" and to those who agree with me, but your position isn't so subjective and tentatively held -- no, it's based on "an observable fact, based on real world observations."

Or so you say, but you apparently see absolutely no inconsistency in doing so, despite my best efforts to point out the hypocrisy.

--

About your attempts to portray my position in the worst possible light, even my latest comment puts the lie to your conclusions.

"He apparently thinks he can speak authoritatively for God (correct me if I'm mistaken, but I think that's what you're saying.)"

I just wrote something along the lines about how I don't need to appeal to any authority to state the obvious.

"I need to appeal to no authority to state what is obvious to anyone who is not being willfully blind."

From that you conclude that I'm presuming to speak for God. Nice.

--

Again, my position is that human fallibility ONLY means that we can and do make mistakes, **NOT** that every capable adult acting in good faith can make a mistake in literally every area.

I do not presume to be the sole arbiter of reality or to speak authoritatively for God: I'm just stating what's actually obvious to anyone not willfully blind.

Christianity is theistic.

The Bible is theistic.

These aren't controversial claims no matter how much you so desperately want them to be.

Bubba said...

(Unintended multiple posts above.)

Dan, it looks like what I quoted earlier is missing a negative, that it should be "I know of no topics on which humans cannot be mistaken on." The paragraph doesn't parse without it.

Anyway, those three claims of fact are internally incoherent.

Can you know that you are not God, beyond any doubt? You apparently think so, going by #1, but in #3 you claim that you CANNOT say, "I KNOW God's opinion about x, y, z or ANYthing, beyond any doubt." [emphasis mine]

Why is it that one cannot simply know from observation that the Bible teaches that God exists -- that instead one must (but cannot) inquire about God's opinion on this matter? -- but you feel free to assert as "fact" your own claims without any reference to the divine opinion?

What you claim, you just "see" as observable, factual reality.

What I claim, I could only know by consulting God, and since I can't consult God, I must be a megalomaniac for presuming to know it.

It couldn't possibly be that the theistic nature of Christianity or the Bible is clear beyond any reasonable doubt.

Bubba said...

Dan:

Apologies for the early multiple posts: it's what happens when you hit the Return key with the Publish button active rather than the text field. Do feel free to delete the two duplicate comments.

--

I'm not sure what more there is to say, since both of our positions are probably about as clear as they're going to be, and just as clear is the unlikelihood that either of us is going to change his mind any time soon.

The second fact you list is true, but it begs the question, assuming your position rather than demonstrate it.

You write, "I can not ask God (and receive an answer directly) to clarify God's opinion on various interpretations of the Bible."

But who says that one needs divine clarification to determine a text's message beyond any real good-faith disagreement?

I don't believe that's true in the general case for ANY text, and with the Bible we already have the written record of God's revelation to man, through the prophets and the apostles. I don't see why we would need clarification from God about whether this revelation teaches that GOD EXISTS.

The existence of God and the historicity of Jesus: THOSE are the doctrines I keep focusing on because they are both more central and more obvious than the issues you've raised.

About those issues, you write that "Jesus had a gospel specifically to the poor," but He did not, as neither Zaccheus, nor Nicodemus, nor Joseph of Arimathea, nor the Roman centurion were turned away because of their wealth. The angel announced to the shepherds that the good news of Jesus was to be for "all" the people, not just the poor.

About the command to the rich young ruler to sell his belongings, I've pointed out on more than one occasion that the man was looking for salvation by his own works. The apostles focused on repentance and faith, not a vow of poverty, in their proclaiming the good news of salvation, and even when the Jerusalem church sold many of their possessions and had things in common, it's clear that they still owned their own homes, and Peter taught that Ananias' property was still at his own disposal (Acts 2:46, 5:4).

(And after the rich young ruler left, Jesus taught that all things are possible with God -- as if God exists.)

On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the Bible teaches both the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus.

Peter's earliest sermons proclaim that God exalted the crucified and risen Jesus, which is incoherent unless both God exists and Jesus lived in history, and in his earliest letter, Paul's defense of the true gospel of salvation by faith depends on the same doctrines.

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." - Gal 2:21

Whose grace? God's grace, which He could not provide if He did not exist -- just as Christ could not have died if He did not first live.

--

Because we are fallible human beings who can SOMETIMES make mistakes, we should indeed be humble, carefully avoiding to insist that the Bible is clear on issues where it's really not.

But the opposite error is also bad, insisting that the Bible is NOT clear where it really is. To do so is to sow seeds of doubt and confusion that undermine the integrity of the good news in its proclamation to sinners who desperately need it.

It's to repeat the questions of the serpent and Pilate: Did God really say that? And, after all, what is truth?

My position is this:

The existence of God and the historicity of Jesus are clear teachings of the Bible and essential doctrines of the Christian gospel, beyond any possible good-faith disagreement from an otherwise capable adult.

To deny that, to protest that God's existence and Jesus' historicity are *NOT* clearly taught in the Bible and are *NOT* essential Christian doctrines, is absurd, which would call into question a person's intelligence or integrity.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

But who says that one needs divine clarification to determine a text's message beyond any real good-faith disagreement?

I don't believe that's true in the general case for ANY text, and with the Bible we already have the written record of God's revelation to man, through the prophets and the apostles. I don't see why we would need clarification from God about whether this revelation teaches that GOD EXISTS.


It is necessary because...

Before you can accurately understand any text, it is important to know what style, language, idioms, literary devices are being used. Is this a literal history? Is it an epic story? Is it a myth? Is it intentional fiction? It is a scientific treatise? Is that line hyperbole? Imagery? Historical fact? etc.

If you read a mythic story like it's a scientific treatise and declare, "We can know X is reliably 100% without-doubt factually true because we read it in this scientific treatise!" you will be absolutely wrong.

Not everyone agrees with your take on various Biblical passages, of course, and probably most who might disagree with your opinion do so in good faith, we have no reason to suspect otherwise.

After all, YOU disagree with MY take on some passages. Including on passages that I think are "obvious."

Doesn't mean you're deliberately being deceptive, it just means we have an honest disagreement.

That's why.

If you can't verify with the author, "Was this literal or figurative? How did you mean this?" then in order to speak with 100% authority, you have to be able to verify with the author or in some other objective manner.

You have no such authoritative source with which to verify your interpretations.

If you do, please demonstrate for me.

If you don't, then perhaps you can see why you can't rationally make the claims that you're making.

And because you KEEP repeating false conclusions about my point, let me clarify:

I'm not saying, "It's CRAZY to assume that the Bible is teaching God is real or that Jesus was a historical person..." Do you understand that? I think it is a rational conclusion given what the Bible says and the evidence we do have.

Let me repeat:

I think it is a rational conclusion given what the Bible says and the evidence we do have.

Do you understand that?

My point is that, just because you and I think it's a reasonable conclusion, we have no reason to insist that every MUST agree with us, that people could not, in good faith, reach another conclusion.

If you have evidence (other than your only straw you've grasped at so far, "It's obvious TO ME, BUBBA"), then perhaps we could reach some agreement on this point.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

But the opposite error is also bad, insisting that the Bible is NOT clear where it really is.

My position is this:

The existence of God and the historicity of Jesus are clear teachings of the Bible and essential doctrines of the Christian gospel...


On THAT point, you and I don't disagree. But you don't stop there. You make this extra claim, and it is one that you have not yet supported and one which you CAN NOT support, as it is factually, demonstrably mistaken, obviously so.

...beyond any possible good-faith disagreement from an otherwise capable adult.

No, that is not the case. That is an empty claim. SOME good-faith rational adults may not accept the Bible as God's revelation. Some may think it is an inspired piece of literature, but think it is largely mythic or epic or otherwise not literal history. We can see this in the many real life people who think just this way.

We have no evidence, no reason to assume that they're lying when they opt not to interpret the Bible the way you do or I do.

If you have evidence, present it. Or perhaps we can agree, now that I've pointed it out this way, that you have no rational grounds to make this claim, nor any evidence to support it.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Just to clarify, one more time, a point I’ve already clarified…

Bubba…

Why is it that one cannot simply know from observation that the Bible teaches that God exists -- that instead one must (but cannot) inquire about God's opinion on this matter? -- but you feel free to assert as "fact" your own claims without any reference to the divine opinion?

What you claim, you just "see" as observable, factual reality.


IF you are saying, “The Bible teaches us in its text about a Creator God, this is one conclusion we can reach about what the Bible is teaching…” Yes, that is an observable fact. Period. Those words are in there.

BUT (and this is critical), what do those words MEAN? Do the teachings that ARE LITERALLY in the Bible mean that there is a God, or can a reasonable person take them some other way? Such as thinking that this text is not a literal history text reflecting an actual Creator God, but that they are mythic stories about a Creator God, stories that should not be taken literally? COULD some people take it that way?

Well yes, not only could they, but we see people in the real world taking these teachings that way all the time.

So, I’m differentiating between what the text literally says and what the text MEANS.

Is the line “in the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” in the Bible? YES, literally, of course it is, no one is disputing that. BUT, does that text MEAN that the way the Earth was created was by a creator God “in the beginning…”? Well, different people of good will have disagreed upon that.

Are you speaking ONLY of the question, “IS this text found in the Bible?” If so, we don’t disagree, NO one disagrees that the text that is actually there is not actually there. But, people of good will can and do disagree about the meaning of the text. This latter is what you’re talking about, isn’t it?

So, to answer these questions...

Can you know that you are not God, beyond any doubt?

Yes. God (as we understand the concept of God) has lived forever, I have observably NOT. God is perfect. I observably am not. What sort of question is this?

continuing...

in #3 you claim that you CANNOT say, "I KNOW God's opinion about x, y, z or ANYthing, beyond any doubt."

I can't, observably. HOW can I perfectly know God's opinion without being able to ask God to confirm it?

Continuing...

but you feel free to assert as "fact" your own claims without any reference to the divine opinion?

I'm speaking of observable, testable realities. ARE there people out there who sincerely don't think the Bible is to be taken literally? Of course there are, we see them all over the place. DO we have any reason to think they are acting in bad faith? No, they seem to seriously not to take it literally.

I don't need to ask God what I can verify here on earth, right?

Maybe I'm missing something - I'm not sure what you're asking because I'm just speaking of observable realities, I'm not making any authoritative claims about what God does and doesn't think.

Bubba said...

Yes, Dan, I'm referring to the meaning of the text.

As I've already written (using the word "interpretation" for what you refer to as "meaning"), I do not believe a text can have a literally infinute number of plausible meanings, so it can only have a countably finite number of plausible meanings.

Sometimes that number is greater than one, as when the text is unclear.

Sometimes that number is zero, as when the text is that is grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical, e.g., "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."

And sometimes that number is one -- that there is only one plausible meaning or interpretatation.

When it comes to the Bible and its meaning at least regarding theism, there is only one plausible interpretation:

God exists.

This is as close as one can get to a literal no-brainer.

Earlier you berated me for daring to draw conclusions about other people's motives, but you seem quite willing to do the same.

You write, "people of good will can and do disagree about the meaning of the text," but on a subject as obvious as this, how do you know that those who disagree do so as people of good will?

"I'm speaking of observable, testable realities. ARE there people out there who sincerely don't think the Bible is to be taken literally? Of course there are, we see them all over the place."

How do you know they're sincere? How do you "see" their sincerity?

"DO we have any reason to think they are acting in bad faith? No, they seem to seriously not to take it literally."

The plain meaning of the text itself argues against any atheistic interpretations being made in good faith -- and how would you know they're being serious?

What are the physical signs of honesty that always, consistently, and predictably distinguishes an honest man from a fraud who's trying to deceive himself and/or others?

Once again, you're presuming what's being argued, here presuming that we "see" honest and sincere people concluding that the Bible teaches an atheistic worldview.

You're doing so hypocritically, since you're making claims about other people's motives after denouncing me for doing the very same thing.

The only difference is that the conclusion I'm drawing is negative, but that can't be a difference that matters, since you do not hesitate to criticize me for my supposed arrogance.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

And sometimes that number is one -- that there is only one plausible meaning or interpretatation.

When it comes to the Bible and its meaning at least regarding theism, there is only one plausible interpretation:

God exists.


Second interpretation: The Bible is a book of myths, not a literal history in the modern sense. It does not mean there factually IS a literal God, any more than a book about cyclops means there was a literal cyclops.

There's a second interpretation/take away from the text.

Short and simple:

1. Do you understand that some people may not agree with your interpretation on the literary style of the text?

2. Do you understand that this IS a second literal, real world interpretation of the text?

Bubba said...

The Bible doesn't merely contain history in which YHWH plays the central role, it contains commands to have no other gods beside YWHW and to love Him with all your being, instructions for a sacrificial system with an annual calendar of festivals, and an extensive liturgy of prayers to YHWH thanking Him for His steadfast love, to say nothing of the New Testament's record of Jesus claiming to be God.

The alternative interpretation you mention simply is not plausible.

There are people who disagree, but I do not believe they do so as capable adults acting in good faith.

The Bible clearly teaches that God exists.

People who want to deny the existence of YHWH ought to be honest and distance themselves from the Bible as untrue rather than pretend that the Bible can be plausibly re-interpreted as myth and legend.

The Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead: Christians reject these books as false scripture, but we have the decency to treat these books as the religious texts that they are, and so we show those books far more respect than the wolves in sheep's clothing who pretend that the Bible could just be a book of myths.

--

Earlier you mentioned the interpretation where "the stories of Jesus are best understood as a legend passed on by Jews hoping for the Messiah, they don't represent an actual person or his words..."

You wrote:

Now, I of course, would disagree with that conclusion, but I would not say that this person MUST be arguing in bad faith.

Why "of course"? If the legendary interpretation isn't implausible on its face, why try to reassure me that you not only disagree, but that you do so as a matter of course?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

There are people who disagree, but I do not believe they do so as capable adults acting in good faith.

The Bible clearly teaches that God exists.


? Are you saying that ALL people who read the bible and think it is best understood NOT as some sort of actual history with an actual God... that these people are ALL lying and they actually DO think it is history and there IS an actual God, but they reject that idea?

And, as I don't see a clear and direct answer to them, I repeat my questions to you:

1. Do you understand that some people may not agree with your interpretation on the literary style of the text?

Yes? No? Some other non-yes/no answer?

I think you're saying, "Yes, I see that some people don't agree with my interpretation, but they are lying or are not rational adults..." but please clarify.

2. Do you understand that this IS a second literal, real world interpretation of the text?

I think you're saying, "No, that is NOT a real world take on the text," but please clarify.

Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

There are people who disagree, but I do not believe they do so as capable adults acting in good faith.

The Bible clearly teaches that God exists.


Clearly, yes, it does. But what does that teaching MEAN? People of good faith disagree. We have no reason - you have offered no evidence to support the claim that people of good faith can't disagree. That is what is missing.

Saying, "They just ca-a-a-annnn't!!!" is not enough.

Bubba said...

I answered both your questions, Dan. I had considered numbering the answers and putting them in bold, but I didn't think it would be necessary for so short a comment.

1. Do you understand that some people may not agree with your interpretation on the literary style of the text?

Quote: There are people who disagree, but I do not believe they do so as capable adults acting in good faith.

I understand disagreement exists, but it doesn't follow that I must conclude that those who disagree do so in good faith.

2. Do you understand that this IS a second literal, real world interpretation of the text?

QUOTE: The alternative interpretation you mention simply is not plausible.

The interpretation exists but is not plausible.

--

"Are you saying that ALL people who read the bible and think it is best understood NOT as some sort of actual history with an actual God... that these people are ALL lying and they actually DO think it is history and there IS an actual God, but they reject that idea?"

I don't know how many times I have to retype my position before you understand it.

As I wrote, on May 8 at 12:44 pm, "While he would deny that God exists, any honest atheist would admit that the Bible unmistakably teaches the doctrine which he denies."

The Bible clearly teaches theism -- that God exists.

It's not that ALL people who read the Bible in good faith must BELIEVE the Bible in its claim that God exists: I'm only saying that a capable adult reading in good faith would find that it teaches that claim.

"Yup, the Bible teaches that God exists. I don't believe the claim, I don't believe in God, I don't accept the authority of the Bible, I think it was written by a bunch of primitive savages, but there's no question that the Bible claims that God exists."

THAT's a more intellectually honest position than the crap about how maybe it was intended to be read as a book of myths or legends.

--

Now, since I've (twice) answered those two numbered questions AND answered your most recent question, I'll draw your attention to the question I asked you, about your writing that "of course" you disagree with the conclusion that Jesus is merely a legend.

Why "of course"? If the legendary interpretation isn't implausible on its face, why try to reassure me that you not only disagree, but that you do so as a matter of course?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm only saying that a capable adult reading in good faith would find that it teaches that claim.

Okay, I think you're misunderstanding me.

As I have said, IF you are saying, "the Bible teaches God..." then yes, that IS what the text says and NO ONE DISAGREES WITH THAT. That is, NO ONE is disagreeing with the literal teachings' actual existence.

Does the Bible teach us about a Creator God?

YES, says everyone. That IS a teaching found in the Bible. No one disagrees with that.

Are we agreeing and understanding that reality, that no one is disputing the text exists? Or do you think there are people out there who dispute that, where the Bible says "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." and say, "No, the Bible does not teach that line..."?

I'll wait for you to clarify.

Bubba said...

Dan, I wrote, "The Bible clearly teaches that God exists."

You reply, "Clearly, yes, it does. But what does that teaching MEAN?"

It means that God exists.

Earlier you distinguished between the text and its meaning...

"We all can affirm simple textual existence of a phrase. That isn't the problem. The problem is the MEANING individual believers assign to the text."

...but if now you agree that the meaning of the Bible's teaching regarding God's existence is "God exists," then what are you asking about?

My position is that, on the subject of God's existence, the Bible's teaching has only one plausible meaning: "God exists."

Even those who deny that the meaning is metaphysically true ought to be able to concede that the Bible teaches it, just as I can conclude that the Koran teaches that Mohammed is God's prophet when I think he was anything but.

My position is essentially a negative claim, that there are NO other plausible alternatives.

It falls on those who disagree to prove that a plausible alternative exists by producing it.

--

Saying, "They just ca-a-a-annnn't!!!" is not enough.

And that gets me back to my other question.

"ARE there people out there who sincerely don't think the Bible is to be taken literally? Of course there are, we see them all over the place."

How do you know they're sincere? What's your evidence for that, Dan?

Or are we back to the place where your every claim is just a real-world fact that needs no evidence, while everything I assert must be proven with some notarized writ from some almighty authority?

Bubba said...

What is there to clarify, Dan? I've made perfectly clear that it's not just that the Bible uses the word for God but that the Bible teaches that God EXISTS.

I've used the term "theism" a dozen times, it ought to be clear what I mean.

It's not just that "the Bible teaches God..." as if what followed those ellipses are superfluous, but that the Bible clearly teaches certain things ABOUT God, beginning with God's existence.

It looked like you understood my position for a few days even as you derided it. Whatever it is you're huffing, lay off.

Dan Trabue said...

I don't think you're understanding my question. I repeat:

Are we agreeing and understanding that reality, that no one is disputing the text exists?

That is reality, so I have to suspect that you agree with reality, right?

The question for people at large, then, is about what MEANING we assign to these texts, which no one disputes exist. The question is, "Here is this text in this collection of ancient books we call the Bible. What does it mean to us?"

Here are at least three responses to that question:

1. Some people hold the opinion (one which we can't verify or substantiate as 100% factually true, but it is our OPINION): This collection of texts represent text that WE BELIEVE has been inspired by God and that it is useful for teaching and understanding.

2. Other people hold the opinion: This collection of texts represents some wise sayings and good moral teachings, but the stories, events and characters therein are not necessarily based on reality. Some may be loosely based on reality, other less so or we just can't know.

3. Still others might hold the opinion: These stories are no different than other ancient texts telling fantastical stories. Yes, there are texts here that speak of a magical god, but there are texts in other books that speak of giants and dragons. Maybe you can find some pretty poetry in these texts, maybe you can find some interesting teachings or words of wisdom, but no more so than any other ancient texts.

In each of these groups, these people no doubt sincerely mean what they are saying (that is, we have no reason to suspect that they mean something other than what they say.

Do you agree with that?

Dan Trabue said...

I think the problem you're experiencing, Bubba, is that you seem to be assuming that everyone is reading the Bible the same way you are.

That is, IF you start with the assumption that the Bible has no errors and that it is, basically, written by God to pass on messages and teachings to us specifically about God's nature as described in those pages, then making the assumption, "Not only does the Bible have text speaking of a Creator God, but that text MEANS that there is a Creator God, one that matches the description found in the various texts of the Bible."

But not everyone is starting with that assumption.

So, for the person starting with that assumption, your claim might be pretty reasonable and complete. Indeed, no one who makes those assumptions about the various biblical texts on the topic will reach the conclusion that there is not a God and that Jesus is not an actual historical character. (Probably. I'd have to think on it some, but probably not...)

But not everyone starts with those assumptions.

I know you understand that (right?), but I don't think you're applying that reality to the question being considered.

IF someone is starting off with different assumptions about the various biblical texts, they may, IN REALITY, reach different conclusions in good faith. Again, I'm just asking you to look at reality.

Do you really think that everyone who disagrees with you on these points is lying? What kind of world-wide, eons-long conspiracy organization would that require?? It just strains credulity.

Bubba said...

Dan, those three responses appear to differ in whether they accept the teachings of the Bible, and to what degree they accept those teachings, they DO NOT appear to be disagreements about what those teachings are.

In addition to God's existence and the historicity of Jesus, the Bible also teaches about God's actions in histories and in communicating through Scripture: those claims are beyond what I've been focusing on, but presumably all three groups can agree about the CONTENT of those claims even as they disagree about whether they accept those claims.

Someone in Group 1 would say, the Bible teaches that God exists, that God acted in the miraculous plagues of Egypt and the parting of the sea, that God communicated His instructions to us, and that Scripture contains God's revelation, and we believe the Bible on all these points.

Someone in Group 2 could say, the Bible does teach all those things, but we DON'T believe the Bible on all these things: maybe they correspond to reality and history, maybe they don't.

And someone in Group 3 could say, certainly the Bible teaches all those things, but we don't believe the Bible on these things either: the text is no more trustworthy than fairy tales.

In such a case, they're not arguing over the Bible's message, but rather its credibility.

--

"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.'

"But he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.'
" - John 20:24-25

Was Thomas confused about the other apostles' claim? Evidently not.

Evidently, he DID understand what they claimed, he just didn't BELIEVE what they claimed.

And that sort of difference is not what my position is about: it's not about the credibility of the Bible's claims but the CLARITY of those claims.

What you would have to propose is this:

A. "I believe the Bible teaches that God really exists."

B. "I believe the Bible teaches that God is just a useful human construct."

C. "I believe the Bible teaches that God does not exist at all."

All three of these people could be outright atheists, but assuming they're all capable adults, only the first guy is intellectually honest.

The other two are obvious liars, which may be why your examples don't correspond to the issue on which I've focused, the Bible's CLARITY, not its credibility.

--

My position doesn't depend on consensus on the inerrancy or even the inspiration of Scripture: even if the Bible was a merely human work that contained verifiable errors, it would still be true that it CLEARLY teaches theism.

As I wrote, on May 8 at 12:44 pm, AND RESTATED EARLIER TODAY, "While he would deny that God exists, any honest atheist would admit that the Bible unmistakably teaches the doctrine which he denies."

If I think even an atheist can admit that the Bible unmistakably teaches theism, it's obvious that I don't believe that the reader must affirm the Bible's inerrancy or divine inspiration to reach that conclusion.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, I think we're talking past each other. I've always stated the obvious, that the text says what it says, but what it MEANS can be debated/disagreed upon.

In this thread, way back on May 8th, I said...

The Bible clearly has a line that says, "those who believe and are baptized will be saved..." The text is there and one could call that a "teaching," if one wanted to. We all can affirm simple textual existence of a phrase. That isn't the problem. The problem is the MEANING individual believers assign to the text. Is that text I just mentioned a "true teaching" about which one can't disagree in good faith? Why or why not?

Whether the text is there or not is not the question. The question is whether or not there is a meaning assigned to the text and what that meaning is.

Now, you, I and even many atheists might be able to agree that lines like Gen 1:1 demonstrate the Bible has text that teaches the idea that there is a Creator God. Some actual Far Liberal Christians (some who you appear to be referring to who might not think there is an actual God or that Jesus was a literal historical person) would agree that the line is there and is a teaching about the Creator God.

But what does that mean? Does the line mean that there IS a creator God?

You would say yes.

I would say that I believe in a Creator God, not because of that line, but because of the general evidence, but that the line is referring to that reality.

The atheist would say no.

The Liberal Christian who does not believe in an actual God (who I hear exists, but have never known one, personally) might say that, while the text is teaching a Creator God, it is coming from a mythic document and does not mean that a Creator God exists.

And each person believes this in good faith.

That is what I've been speaking of, which appears to be the same thing you're speaking of. But it's hard for me to tell from what you've said. Want to verify?

Bubba said...

Dan, I think passages like Ps 14:1 and Rom 1:19-20 points against the idea that a person can truly deny God's existence in good faith, but I haven't been arguing about that.

(Likewise, I believe the Bible teaches much more than theism and Jesus' historicity: it's also clear about God's holiness and Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, but I haven't been arguing about that.)

I haven't been arguing about whether or not an individual believes in God, but whether he recognizes that the Bible teaches that God exists.

THIS is what I've repeatedly claimed is beyond any good-faith disagreement among capable adults:

- NOT that God exists,

- NOT that the Bible convincingly teaches that God exists, such that no one could read the Bible and deny God's faith in good faith,

- NOT that the Bible accurately teaches that God exists, such that Genesis 1 does indeed "mean that there IS a creator God."

- **JUST** that the Bible CLEARLY teaches that God exists.

I certainly believe the first and third of those statements, and I think a case could be made for the second, but my SOLE focus has been on the fourth statement: THAT is the statement I have here been asserting and asking you about.

I could not have made this more clear, as it appeared in that first comment, reprinting the comment from the other thread.

I asked, "do you believe that there are some things on which the Bible is clear and unambiguous, so that good-faith disagreement is impossible? Do you believe that good-faith Bible study would lead all honest readers to conclude, “The Bible teaches X,” even including non-believers who do not believe the Bible on that point?" [new emphasis]

If you actually agree that even some small number of the Bible's teachings are thus clear beyond any good-faith disagreement, you ought to say so, because what you've written here points in the exact opposite direction.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

that the Bible CLEARLY teaches that God exists.

Okay, let me try a new tack:

The Bible does not TEACH anything. The Bible has texts and passages. People take those texts and draw meanings and teachings from those texts, but the Bible is not "giving" you a "teaching."

I think perhaps this is where you're getting off. It's as if you are saying, "Here is the text and that text IS A TEACHING, TELLING US... a, b and c..." or whatever it's "telling you." But the Bible contains texts. It is people who assign "teachings" or "meanings" to the text.

Do you get that, where the Bible says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." that the Bible is not giving you a teaching. The Bible is an inanimate collection of stories. IT DOES NOT GIVE TEACHINGS.

Can you agree to that reality?

Now, we can argue, "I think the AUTHOR of this text was trying to pass on THIS teaching..." and argue about whether or not the author was trying to do that. BUT, the thing is, the authors are not here, they have not told us the intent of their teachings, nor has God told us.

WE assume some meaning, we read into it whatever meaning we might find, PERHAPS guessing correctly what the author's intent was, but not knowing one way or the other, nor being able to prove one way or another, it will perforce remain a guess.

Now, what you've said in this regard is that, at least in some, vague, unenumerated set of passages, we CAN know because there is only ONE POSSIBLE interpretation/take/understanding of the passage. But that simply isn't factual.

Can you name just ONE PASSAGE that has only one possible in the whole world interpretation/explanation?

If you point to a passage where it speaks of a God as God, as Creator, or Judge or whatever, you STILL are stuck with what literary style is being used? If it's comedy, then that might suggest one thing, if it's modern history, that might suggest another one. And, as noted, we can't ask the author what literary styles and devices they were using, so no, factually, there is NOT just one possible take on any given passage or set of passages.

But feel free to point to an example.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, as you imply I've already answered that question: Genesis 1:1, as I explained almost two weeks ago.

The genre or style in which a person wrote DOES inform the message, but there's no serious doubt that Genesis was written as comedy. There are satirical speeches recorded in Scripture, perhaps most famously in I Kings 18:27, where Elijah mocks the Baal worshippers, but clearly Genesis 1 doesn't belong among them.

We can know this because the Bible repeatedly alludes to the chapter and affirms its teachings.

Psalm 104 praises God for His work in creating and sustaining all that exists, and John 1:3 elaborates on the claim that God created all things, by teaching that all things were made through the Word -- that is, through Christ.

Indeed, a frequent refrain of the Old Testament could be summarized in this way: Elohim who created and governs the universe is the same YHWH who chose and redeemed Israel.

To that refrain, the New Testament elaborates, God both created the world and redeemed His church through Christ.

--

Now, having answered once again a question that I already answered nearly two weeks ago, I note that you did not answer any of the questions I REPEATEDLY asked yesterday. You didn't even acknowledge that I asked them, as you were apparently too busy hectoring me to answer your questions and writing about how you're waiting for me to clarify.

There isn't much that you've asked that I haven't already thoroughly answered: there's a growing list of questions that I've asked that you haven't even acknowledged.

Conversation is two way, Dan. Why don't we try it like that? It really helps in communication.

One of the questions I asked yesterday (twice) is worth reiterating, which I will do momentarily.

--

It appears that we're not talking past each other after all: I cannot fathom why you couldn't say so sooner and with more clarity, but you don't believe that a text can convey any clear message.

You write, "The Bible is an inanimate collection of stories. IT DOES NOT GIVE TEACHINGS."

Never mind that the Bible contains more than stories, and never mind that the act of collection involved human agency -- the Bible didn't collect itself -- certainly the Bible is inanimate, but that overlooks the obvious, that written language is an inanimate means through which animate (and rational) minds communicate to other animate minds.

If you left a note on the fridge for your capable teenage kid, listing chores to do while you're running errands, and on your return, the kid tells you that he saw the list but ignored it because it was inanimate, you'd be in the right for grounding him for both disobedience AND for being willfully obtuste -- and I'd say that only an irresponsible parent would have bought that lame tripe.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

"Now, we can argue, "I think the AUTHOR of this text was trying to pass on THIS teaching..." and argue about whether or not the author was trying to do that. BUT, the thing is, the authors are not here, they have not told us the intent of their teachings, nor has God told us."

...and if they did tell us their intent, we'd be arguing over THAT communication rather than the previous communication. If they did so audibly, we could discuss the reality that sonic vibrations through the atmosphere are inanimate; if they did so through a DVD recording, we could insist on consensus about the reality that a binary code on a plastic disc is inanimate.

Even an objective clarification from God Himself would be transmitted through inanimate means, whether it's clay tablets or sound waves projected from a voice in a burning bush.

Your apparent position robs all communication of any real potency, regardless of whether the author is human or divine, dead or alive. God's revelation to His prophets and apostles was in vain, first because they could only "guess" (your word) at what He was revealing, and then because they couldn't clearly communicate that revelation to others without any better hope than their readers' "PERHAPS guessing correctly what the author's intent was."

--

I say it's your apparent position because I doubt you believe it, sincerely and consistently.

If you believed that YOUR OWN attempts at communication resulted in a crap shoot when it came to your audience's interpretation, you wouldn't be wasting your time blogging for nearly a decade.

For that matter, you wouldn't have your refrain of lamenting how I can't seem to understand anything that you write: you would instead be surprised that ANYONE *EVER* stumbled upon what you really meant.

And your reassurances about your controversial beliefs coming from "prayerful and careful Bible study" would be next to meaningless: rather than seeking the authors' intended meaning, trusting that that meaning CAN be known to some precision, your efforts would have to have been "read[ing] into it whatever meaning [you] might find." Your position would be an argubaly clever manipulation of the characters in the text to make them say what you want, but not a remotely trustworthy apprehension of what the authors intended them to say.

Which brings me back to one of the questions I asked yesterday.

Earlier you mentioned the interpretation where "the stories of Jesus are best understood as a legend passed on by Jews hoping for the Messiah, they don't represent an actual person or his words..."

You wrote:

"Now, I of course, would disagree with that conclusion, but I would not say that this person MUST be arguing in bad faith."

Why "of course"? If the legendary interpretation isn't implausible on its face, why try to reassure me that you not only disagree, but that you do so as a matter of course?

I'd appreciate an answer.

Bubba said...

Dan, part of our disagreement centers on the issue you raise with this paragraph:

"Now, what you've said in this regard is that, at least in some, vague, unenumerated set of passages, we CAN know because there is only ONE POSSIBLE interpretation/take/understanding of the passage. But that simply isn't factual."

I'll reiterate that the absence of an enumerated list or set doesn't preclude us from knowing whether some particular element belongs on that list; again I direct you to the example of people on Manhattan Island.

But here you do an okay job summarizing my position: I do believe that, for some teachings within some texts there's only one plausible interpretation, and that includes the Bible's very clear teaching that God exists.

You state quite bluntly, "that simply isn't factual."

What makes you sure that it's not a fact?

Suppose that I don't hold you in high enough esteem to take your word for it.

Suppose that I don't assume that every disagreement over interpretation arises out of good faith, so that the mere existence of that disagreement isn't conclusive.

And suppose further that I'm not just talking about the general case -- SOME intepretation about SOME text -- but instead about a particular interpretation about a specific text. Say, my claim is specifically that the Bible clearly teaches that God exists.

What is the best argument that you would produce in an effort to convince me that I'm wrong?

An obvious choice would be to argue FROM THE TEXT that the Bible could arguably teach that God doesn't exist, except perhaps as a merely human construct. I don't understand why you haven't yet tried that approach, except that "of course" you disagree with that conclusion -- but you wouldn't be arguing for what YOU PERSONALLY believe, but only what someone else COULD arguably believe.

If nothing in the Bible even arguably points in that direction, perhaps it isn't so crazy to conclude that the Bible only teaches one thing after all, at least on the subject of theism.

If no credible alternative interpretation can be demonstrated, I don't see why I should accept as "simply" "factual" that it's out there.

Somewhere.

Dan Trabue said...

This is too much work.

Bubba...

If you actually agree that even some small number of the Bible's teachings are thus clear beyond any good-faith disagreement, you ought to say so, because what you've written here points in the exact opposite direction.

I think there are a great deal of biblical texts that are abundantly clear in their meaning AND I think that humans are capable of sincerely missing what I think the point is of these texts.

Look Bubba, rather than speak of some text where you and I both agree on their clarity - and where I'm just asserting that I'm sure there might be someone out there who could, in good faith, misunderstand it - why don't you pick some text that you think is abundantly "self-evidently" clear where I disagree, so we can speak about something other than vague "Yeah, I'm sure there's someone out there who might disagree" (on my side) or, "No, there ain't nobody could possibly disagree" (on your side). If you choose some specific passage where you think there is ONLY ONE possible interpretation/idea and I hold a different interpretation/idea, then we could talk in specifics.

So, other than us talking about hypothetic people and ideas that may or may not exist, why not provide a specific example where I disagree with your opinion where you think I don't do so in good faith.

To that end, you say...

Suppose that I don't assume that every disagreement over interpretation arises out of good faith, so that the mere existence of that disagreement isn't conclusive.

Well, you may or may not find the existence of disagreement conclusive, I'm saying that we have - you have - no evidence on which to say, "I don't believe him. No one could possibly disagree with my interpretation/take on this text and do so honestly... there is ONLY ONE interpretation/take on the text and it is mine."

You can be skeptical if you want, but your skepticism does not equal an invalidation of the point. You have to have SOME basis other than "I don't think anyone could disagree with me on this text, therefore, such people don't exist. Anyone who says differently is lying and not arguing in good faith." if you want to make your case. Simple skepticism is not an argument.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I've repeatedly asked the same two questions over the last two days, and ONCE AGAIN you not only omit a halting attempt to answer either question, you don't even acknowledge that I've asked them.

So much for your two-way conversation.

--

My belief that the Bible clearly teaches theism isn't grounded in mere skepticism: I've studied the Bible, and I know what it says, and that is why I know that it clearly teaches theism.

To mention just one of a vast number of scriptural threads that depend on theism, I once again point you to the Bible's claim that God created the universe.

- Genesis 1 makes the claim.
- Psalm 104 praises God for the act.
- John 1 elaborates that God acted through Christ.

Knowing what the Bible teaches is how I can know that it precludes certain other ridiculous positions, e.g., the Bible teaches atheism, or the Bible teaches God only as a social construct.

But if my position is mere skepticism, yours is sheer credulity -- and you're in a position to show that it's not by arguing FROM THE TEXT that one could arguably conclude that the Bible teaches something other than theism.

You demur, and I'm not surprised.

--

"So, other than us talking about hypothetic people and ideas that may or may not exist, why not provide a specific example where I disagree with your opinion where you think I don't do so in good faith."

(Even without the question mark, you seem to be asking this as a question.)

Why not? Because it's irrelevant to the entire point of this conversation, going back to where it started, at Sifting Reality.

On May 6, 4:01 pm, you sneer, "that I disagree with what BUBBA condemns is not in any way comparable to disagreeing with what I think God wants or what the Bible teaches us about God and morality."

"You see, I don’t confuse Bubba with God."

At 4:51 pm, I responded:

"Indeed divine revelation is authoritative and merely human interpretation is not, but my theology leaves room where yours apparently does not, for a deity who need not mumble.

"I believe God can and does sometimes reveal Himself clearly enough that there’s no real room for disagreement — and I believe, where God does reveal Himself and His will, there isn’t an infinite amount of room for disagreement.
"

[continued]

Dan Trabue said...

Some various points...

Bubba...

The genre or style in which a person wrote DOES inform the message, but there's no serious doubt that Genesis was written as comedy.

But there is serious doubt as to whether it is written in mythic form vs a scientific or historical form. And that matters to the meaning of the text.

Bubba...

I asked, "do you believe that there are some things on which the Bible is clear and unambiguous...

Yes, BUT...

...so that good-faith disagreement is impossible?

NO. Clearly, even on things which I think are abundantly clear and obvious, people DO disagree with me, and I have no reason to think that it's not in good faith. Similarly, even on ideas that YOU think, in your opinion, are clear and obvious, people DO disagree with you in good faith. And you have no reason - no real world evidence - to think it's not in good faith.

Thinking, "I don't think any one could disagree with me, therefore, no one CAN disagree with me..." is not evidence.

Bubba...

Do you believe that good-faith Bible study would lead all honest readers to conclude, “The Bible teaches X,” even including non-believers who do not believe the Bible on that point?"

No. In the real world, people manage to have good faith disagreements about everything. I have no real world evidence on which to reach any other conclusion other than, NO.

Bubba...

Why "of course"? If the legendary interpretation isn't implausible on its face, why try to reassure me that you not only disagree, but that you do so as a matter of course?

I say, "Of course," because, of course, I have clarified my actual position MANY times and by now, of course, you should know, of course, what my position is, since I have been abundantly clear.

THAT is what the "of course" was in reference to, not what you seem to assume it was in reference to.

See? People in good faith misinterpret things all the time. Or were you not acting in good faith? I am assuming you are.

And why am I doing so? Because I have no reason - no real world evidence to cause me to think otherwise.

Bubbba...

I do believe that, for some teachings within some texts there's only one plausible interpretation, and that includes the Bible's very clear teaching that God exists.

You state quite bluntly, "that simply isn't factual."

What makes you sure that it's not a fact?


The entire absence of any real world evidence to the contrary. The fact that, for any passage you put up, I can offer a secondary explanation/interpretation.

Given those realities, I am certain it is a fact, as a fact is just something that can be confirmed by observing and noting reality: A real thing.

Since I can point to alternative understandings - more than one - then factually, there can't be ONLY one, because I've pointed to more than one.

Understand?

Bubba said...

[continued]

At 5:44 pm, quoting me, you respond, "The flip side of that is, of course, I leave room for the reality that I and you and we all are fallible humans, capable of being mistaken. You appear to insist that there are some topics on which you can’t be mistaken because, you posit, God wouldn’t 'mumble.'"

As part of your response, on May 7, 8:21 am, you make the following contentious claim.

"In the real world, Bubba, sincere Christians of good faith disagree on passages. It’s not a sign of 'false teaching.' It’s a sign of disagreement. Naught else. We’re humans. We have imperfect knowledge, we won’t always agree."

You then insinuate that my position, which you smear as insisting on "a whimsical list of Gotta Agree with Bubba points," is tantamount to "actual heresy" because it depends on salvation by works rather than by grace through faith.

On addressing that claim and that accompanying insinuation, I asked, at 11:46 am, what you were doing accusing anyone else of heresy.

"Do you actually believe that there is a such a thing as a outright heresy and not just heresy as Christianity is only traditionally understood?"

You responded by denying the very category of heresy, at 1:18 pm.

"Look, I clearly don’t believe in heresy the way you all use it. I don’t think your heresy club you try to beat people with is a biblical idea. I used the word Heresy because it’s YOUR type of word, not mine."

At 2:47 pm, I responded with the questions that I would ultimately republish here at your request.

"It’s not that you disagree with any particular list of essential Christian doctrines, which you’ll describe as only 'traditional Christian essentials' rather than ACTUAL Christian essentials, and which you’ll frequently denigrate as random and whimsical no matter how thoughtfully assembled.

"You disagree with the idea that ANY doctrine is essential.

"It’s not that you disagree on which teachings of the Bible are clear and unambiguous. You disagree with the concept that ANY teaching COULD be clear and unambiguous...

"Or do I misunderstand you once again? Do you really believe in orthodoxy and heresy as real categories and not just traditional understandings? Do you really believe that there are essential Christian doctrines?
"

And the train of thought continues with what I copied and pasted in my first comment here.

--

What I've wanted to know, since before this thread began, is whether you can clearly and honestly say what you believe about the mere categories of orthodoxy and heresy, and about whether the Bible teaches ANYTHING about which capable adults cannot disagree in good faith.

To that end, I've been focusing on the MOST obvious claims:

- Not God's wrath or omniscience, but just God's existence.

- Not Jesus' virgin birth or the bodily resurrection, but just Jesus' historicity.

Going from these topics to things like the virgin birth, pacifism, or chastity doesn't bring me one step closer to understanding your position about whether there ARE any Christian essentials or clear teachings of the Bible.

Bubba said...

Dan.

"Since I can point to alternative understandings - more than one - then factually, there can't be ONLY one, because I've pointed to more than one."

I have consistently used the adjective "plausible" and other qualifiers to make clear where I stand.

It's not that I deny that other people can claim that the Bible is a telephone directory or a cookbook or an instruction manual for a VCR. It's that they cannot do so as capable adults acting in good faith.

I'm not denying the fact that people can babble incoherently.

How could I, after years of talking with you?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I have consistently used the adjective "plausible" and other qualifiers to make clear where I stand.

Which gets us right back to one of my first questions to you: Plausible TO WHOM?

Just because YOU, BUBBA, do not consider an opinion plausible does not mean that it isn't plausible. I think, in my opinion, some of your comrades hold an implausible position when they think that when Jesus says "poor" he does not mean specifically the literal poor, but that does not mean that it is implausible TO THEM. Nor does it mean that they are arguing in good faith.

This seems to be the crux of your problem: You appear to think that people who disagree with you on some points can't do so - it does not seem plausible to you - therefore they can't ACTUALLY believe it, therefore, they must be arguing in bad faith.

But that is irrational. Do you not see that? The whole of rational adult thinking does not begin and end with you and those who agree with you, do you understand that?

Should I write off your comrades who disagree with my opinions on these topics where I think the biblical text is abundantly clear and call them liars? WHY WOULD I?

There is no evidence of it, they just disagree in good faith.

I have no reason, no evidence to suspect otherwise.

YOU have no reason, no evidence to suspect otherwise.

Again, appealing to "but I, BUBBA, don't see how it's plausible, therefore, it must be a lie" is not evidence.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, I appreciate your finally answering some my more recent questions -- and answering some of my earliest questions.

I had asked: Do you believe that good-faith Bible study would lead all honest readers to conclude, "The Bible teaches X," even including non-believers who do not believe the Bible on that point?

"No. In the real world, people manage to have good faith disagreements about everything. I have no real world evidence on which to reach any other conclusion other than, NO."

I don't think an absence of evidence of bad faith is sufficent to lecture me about the ubiquity of good-faith disagreements "in the real world," since credulity is no more conclusive than skepticism, but no matter.

You've finally provided a clear an unambiguous answer to the question I raised 86 comments ago -- really, the question I raised back in the other thread.

THANK YOU.

You're absolutely right, that this is too much work. (Would that you had clearly answered this question earlier!)

Ceteris paribus, other issues might have been worth discussing, but personally, I don't have the time but any more of this nonsense.

I'll wrap up from my end this evening.

Dan Trabue said...

So then, other than an appeal to "cause it's not plausible, in MY BUBBA opinion..." do you have ANY hard evidence to call those who disagree with you on this vague, unspecified list of opinions, "Liars"?

If so, please offer it.

If not, you'll have to acknowledge that we have no reason to give your opinion much weight, not in face of hard evidence to the contrary.

Bubba said...

The evidence I have is the text itself. Like numerous, merely human texts, the Bible clearly communicates at least SOME of the ideas that the authors intended to communicate.

I haven't been standing by some "vague, unspecified list," but two very simple items on that list: the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus, teachings so obvious you'd rather change the subject than attempt to produce a plausible argument that the Bible could be interpreted to teach something contradictory to these claims.

And I'll reiterate that, if you really believed that clear communication wasn't possible beyond blind luck, 1) I doubt you'd spend a decade blogging, 2) you wouldn't grouse about my supposed habit of misunderstaning you, and 3) you wouldn't testify so vociferously that your positions came from careful Bible study.

We both agree that good-faith disagreement is SOMETIMES possible, but it's my position that it's not ALWAYS possible.

From our actions, it's obvious that we both believe clear communication is possible, but evidently only one of us is honest enough to admit it.

But that gets back to your being a false teacher, a topic which I'll pick up this evening, at which point the floor is yours.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

The evidence I have is the text itself.

The same texts to which I refer. But you are not referring to THE TEXT, but to YOUR OPINIONS about these texts. The TEXT is what it is and none of that is in dispute. What meaning YOU ASSIGN to the text is yours, not the text.

This is the difference you don't seem to comprehend. Not sure what to do with that.

Bubba...

Like numerous, merely human texts, the Bible clearly communicates at least SOME of the ideas that the authors intended to communicate.

On this I agree. And I think my understanding of what they are communicating is the most rational, most apt understanding. BUT, you disagree. By your measure, I should call you a liar and say that you don't really believe it, but I have no evidence to think that, any more than you have evidence to think that I do.

And if you say, "But I have the text!" I will just say rinse and repeat.

Bubba...

I haven't been standing by some "vague, unspecified list," but two very simple items on that list: the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus, teachings so obvious you'd rather change the subject than attempt to produce a plausible argument that the Bible could be interpreted to teach something contradictory to these claims.

And on those two topics, you and I agree on the meaning of the text. Where we disagree is that I allow that there may well be some human beings out there who disagree on these understandings of what the text means.

We ALL agree that the texts say what they say, what we're disputing is the meaning assigned to them by humans.

Again (again, again...), if you're simply stating "These texts say what they say, using the words that they use..." there is ZERO disagreement. No one disputes that Genesis 1:1 says "in the beginning..." what is disputed is the meaning assigned to the text. Does it MEAN there is actually a god who created the world "in the beginning..."? Does it mean that this is a creation myth, not unlike other creation myths.

People of good faith can and will disagree about the MEANING. But everyone agrees that the text says what it says.

So, again, if you have zero evidence to support your claim, I have hard evidence, facts that are observable in the real world, to dispute your hunches.

Facts trump hunches, Bubba.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'll reiterate that, if you really believed that clear communication wasn't possible beyond blind luck...

I don't believe that communication isn't possible. I have never said that.

What I've said is that human beings, FACTUALLY, do manage to disagree, to misunderstand, to reach bad conclusions. All of us do it. We have plenty of evidence of this reality. I've done it. You've done it.

But we also have the ability to communicate, to keep communicating and clarifying. I believe in that process and that is why I engage in it, even when I reach some limited success, sometimes.

By and large, I think I do communicate successfully, I think the biblical authors have communicated successfully, I think people in general are capable of communicating successfully. I just don't think it's that hard UNLESS you have a mental blind spot - for example, holding an unhealthy alliance to a cultural or political point of view that makes it difficult to see other points of view successfully.

But I don't think most people are that way. I think most people DO understand communication pretty well, by and large.

Bubba...

1) I doubt you'd spend a decade blogging,

Well, since your premise was mistaken, your conclusion is mistaken and the evidence is in the very points you're making.

Bubba...

2) you wouldn't grouse about my supposed habit of misunderstaning you, and...

Not supposed. Factual. I know what I believe and I can read what you've written and can testify that, factually speaking, your understanding is a misunderstanding.

Bubba...

3) you wouldn't testify so vociferously that your positions came from careful Bible study.

? Why wouldn't I if it was the fact? Why would I not just repeat the facts, even when they get misunderstood or when I run across someone who would deny facts?

The thing to do when one runs across a fact-denier, it seems to me, is to simply repeat the facts.

So I do. BECAUSE I believe in communication.

Bubba said...

"The same texts to which I refer."

I must have missed where you produced an actual argument that the Bible teaches atheism -- must have been lost in all your efforts to change the subject.

"Where we disagree is that I allow that there may well be some human beings out there who disagree on these understandings of what the text means."

Even on whether the Bible teaches that God exists? Where are these people, and what are their arguments from the text?

Or is the existence of these people and their arguments an instance of "facts trumping hunches," even though you can't produce them?

You crow, "I have hard evidence, facts that are observable in the real world, to dispute your hunches."

What facts? Where?

Where are the people who dispute that the Bible teaches theism, and where are their actual arguments so that I might see how hard the evidence, so that I might observe what you say is observable?

I claim that the Bible is clear at least on the existence of God, you claim that some capable adult (someone, somewhere, somehow) could reach a different conclusion in good faith.

WE BOTH HAVE CLAIMS.

What you denigrate as my hunch is more than that: what you exalt as your fact is less than that.

The claims are conflicting and apparently at an impasse, but you have no actual argument or evidence to justify your promoting your claim so that it trumps mine.

Bubba said...

"Not supposed. Factual. I know what I believe and I can read what you've written and can testify that, factually speaking, your understanding is a misunderstanding."

Funny, then, how you so rarely attempt to correct my misunderstaning, for others' sake if not mine. You usually abandon that "process" of communicating and clarifying RIGHT at the moment where you would have the most impact.

About our stumbling over the correct meaning through luck, I was under the impression that you thought interpretation was a matter of guesswork.

"WE assume some meaning, we read into it whatever meaning we might find, PERHAPS guessing correctly what the author's intent was, but not knowing one way or the other, nor being able to prove one way or another, it will perforce remain a guess."

Can't imagine where I got that idea.

If the problem isn't that you won't answer a question clearly, it's that you'll immediately backtrack on that answer: there's a glimmer of an answer, and it's gone again in the mist of ambiguity.

You now write, "I think the biblical authors have communicated successfully."

Apparently not, if not even THE EXISTENCE OF GOD is clear enough in their communications that it's beyond good-faith disagreement.

What you could possibly mean then by successful communication, you haven't communicated.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I must have missed where you produced an actual argument that the Bible teaches atheism -- must have been lost in all your efforts to change the subject.

YOU chose, as your examples, two points with which I agree. So, I have not argued against them using the Bible, since I AGREE with you.

Beyond that, I HAVE produced an argument: NOT EVERYONE agrees with your take on what to do with a text.

YES, Gen 1:1 speaks of a creator God. THE TEXT SAYS WHAT IT SAYS. I have pointed out repeatedly that no one disagrees, saying the text doesn't say what it says.

I pointed out that it's the MEANING about which people disagree. IS Gen. 1:1 an accurate testimony of an actual Creator God or is it a creation myth?

People of good faith disagree on the MEANING.

In the real world.

So, yes, I have produced an argument against your point. Those are TWO separate takes on the MEANING of the text. 1. Literal history. 2. Creation myth.

TWO takes.

Therefore, one can not argue that there is only ONE take on the text when I JUST POINTED OUT TWO.

Bubba...

Even on whether the Bible teaches that God exists? Where are these people, and what are their arguments from the text?

???

Bubba, answer directly please:

Are you speaking of JUST THE TEXT?

Because as I note repeatedly, NO ONE DISAGREES that the text exists in the real world as it is.

OR

Are you speaking of THE MEANING of the text?

Because in the real world, people of good faith disagree about the meaning.

A clear, direct answer, please.

Bubba...

You crow, "I have hard evidence, facts that are observable in the real world, to dispute your hunches."

What facts? Where?


Here:

I have produced an argument against your point. Those are TWO separate takes on the MEANING of the text. 1. Literal history. 2. Creation myth.

TWO takes.

Therefore, one can not argue that there is only ONE take on the text when I JUST POINTED OUT TWO.

FACT.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Funny, then, how you so rarely attempt to correct my misunderstaning, for others' sake if not mine.

Our entire life together, Bubba, has been me correcting your misunderstandings about my actual positions. How many thousands of more words would it take for me to not be characterized as "rarely" attempting to correct the misunderstanding.

For most people, "I didn't say that. I didn't intend to hint at that..." suffices as a hint that what you just wrote is not what they said or meant.

Case in point:

About our stumbling over the correct meaning through luck, I was under the impression that you thought interpretation was a matter of guesswork.

I did not say that interpretation is a matter of guesswork. I've repeatedly said that I think my understanding of various biblical texts are exceedingly rational, biblical and apt ones.

What I factually pointed out is this:

WE can NOT verify with the authors of a collected series of texts from thousands of years ago their intent. We can reasonably read and glean what we may glean, but we can't demonstrably prove "THIS IS THE ONE RIGHT UNDERSTANDING of this text. No one can possibly have another understanding."

Do you get the difference?

We can reasonably infer some meaning from various ancient texts, or any text, but if we can't verify with the author, we CAN NOT rationally say that we have the one "right" understanding.

I'm not saying, "Blessed are you who are poor... but woe to you who are rich" is a text that is not obvious in meaning. I think it is. But I'm realistic and humble enough to acknowledge that I can't verify with Jesus what he meant in saying it. Some people can honestly disagree with my understanding, and that's okay.

I don't presume to have the one true, God-approved, factual understanding. I DO presume to say, "I think the meaning is pretty clear," but that is not the same as saying "I alone - and those who agree with me - hold all Truth and Understanding."

So, you misunderstood, I corrected and I clarified.

Do you understand me now?

Bubba said...

Dan, it seems to me that you frequently accuse me of misunderstanding WITHOUT providing even an attempt to clarify -- at least, you do so more often that I would prefer.

And volumes of words don't help if they don't actually clarify, if instead they obfuscate and equivocate and digress.

I had asked at the very beginning, do you believe that good-faith Bible study would lead all honest readers to conclude, "The Bible teaches X," even including non-believers who do not believe the Bible on that point?

You provided a near-answer on the next day, comparing your take on Luke 6:20 with the Bible's clear teachings of theism and the historicity of Jesus...

"I would think that your 1. The existence of God and 2. The historicity of Jesus would be similarly obvious, maybe even more so, and yet, I'm pretty sure that people of good faith COULD in theory disagree."

...and you FINALLY provided a clear answer today, almost two weeks later.

"No. In the real world, people manage to have good faith disagreements about everything. I have no real world evidence on which to reach any other conclusion other than, NO."

Everything else you wrote -- the 10,000+ other words -- are largely superfluous to these answers.

--

On the subject of unfounded accusations, you've asked, "Should I write off your comrades who disagree with my opinions on these topics where I think the biblical text is abundantly clear and call them liars? WHY WOULD I?"

Why would you not? You've accused us of bearing false witness, which is another way of calling people liars, especially if the act requires deliberate deceit and not just a mistaken eyewitness testimony or subsequent conclusion.

You poetically accused Bush and his supporters of deicide and worshipping a bloodthirsty idol, and you accused me of a "digital lynching" for criticizing Obama's race-essentialist mentor and former pastor.

You frequently accuse me of rampant megalomania, insinuating that I put myself in the place of God Almighty, so what's one more pejorative?

I would just ask that you try to back up your accusations. If you notice, yesterday at 6:14 am, I addressed both your claim that Jesus had a "gospel specifically to the poor" and your take on the encounter with the rich young ruler, and I did so in the larger context of Scripture. Choosing never to address these sorts of rebuttals suggests that you can't back up your claims.

(It's an oldie, but a few years back, you asserted that Jesus "abolished" OT laws, and in arguing against that position, I excerpted John Stott's commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, at great length, typing out some 3,000 words. You COMPLETELY punted on dealing with any of the substance of his argument, to your discredit.)

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

I've already made abundantly clear that I'm distinguishing between a text and its meaning, as on May 8, at 4:16 pm, just 28 hours after my first comment.

There, I pointed out that, with Genesis 1:1, its meaning "is clear and is almost identical to its semantic content," implying that the two are different concepts.

Again, "there's only one interpretation for this particular text, and the text's meaning is clear beyond any good-faith dispute."

I distinguish between the text and its interpretation/meaning, where I use THOSE two words (interpretation and meaning) much more interchangeably.

Now, about Genesis 1:1, earlier I wrote, "Mature and faithful Christians can disagree about details THAT ARE NOT MENTIONED IN THIS PASSAGE -- e.g., HOW God created the universe and WHEN, as in how long ago was 'the beginning' -- but the teaching itself is beyond dispute."

What teaching? That God exists, that God is the Creator responsible for the act of creation, resulting in the entire universe, and that God created the universe "in the beginning."

If the "creation myth" meaning affirms those claims but concludes that the details in early Genesis are a figurative narrative of HOW God created the universe, then the meaning is still essentially theistic, and it's only a variation of the meaning I'm discussing.

If, instead, the "creation myth" meaning denies even these claims, to go beyond arguing that early Genesis conveys the fact of God's act of creation in figurative ways to argue that the passages convey that God doesn't exist AT ALL, then I would point to any number of texts that demolishes that theory, including Psalms and John's gospel.

But that's not a distinction of historical vs. mythical, it's a distinction of THEISTIC VS. ATHEISTIC.

--

You write:

"WE can NOT verify with the authors of a collected series of texts from thousands of years ago their intent. We can reasonably read and glean what we may glean, but we can't demonstrably prove "THIS IS THE ONE RIGHT UNDERSTANDING of this text. No one can possibly have another understanding."

Again, however they verified their teaching, we'd be stuck with the same problem of whether there was only one plausible interpretation of that verification. It's a problem that may be reduced but not eliminated with the "process" of communicating and clarifying.

And, again, even supposing God could and did reliably communicate His revealed message to His prophets and apostles, His work of revelation seems incomplete at best and completely in vain at worst if those messengers couldn't reliably communicate even the simplest component of that message to others.

And that revelation to the prophets and apostles brings us full circle, to your snarky comment that started this ball rolling, which you restate here at the end.

And that comment is a good place for me to wrap up, momentarily...

Bubba said...

Dan, I return to May 6 and the very first comment I mentioned here in summarizing the relevant exchanges that led up to my question and this resulting thread.

You sneered, "I don’t confuse Bubba with God."

At the end of your most recent comment, you get back to that insinuation of arrogance.

"I don't presume to have the one true, God-approved, factual understanding. I DO presume to say, 'I think the meaning is pretty clear,' but that is not the same as saying 'I alone - and those who agree with me - hold all Truth and Understanding.'"

The Apostle Paul certainly did presume to have the "one true" message from God to man, the true gospel in stark contrast with the false gospels, and in Galatians 1 he proclaimed a most solemn curse against those preaching those false gospels.

Paul repeatedly wrote about his gospel -- see the uses of "my gospel" in Rom 2:16 and 16:25.

In the same letter, he repeatedly mentions God's gospel (Rom 1:1, 15:16) and Christ's gospel (Rom 1:9, 15:19), and it's clear from the context that he's referring to a single gospel, not three different gospels.

The good news is God's because God is its author, Christ's because Christ is its substance, and Paul's because Paul is one of its caretakers.

But NOWHERE does the Apostle Paul, the servant of God and the servant of Christ (Titus 1:1, Rom 1:1), conflate himself with the Master whom he serves.

Now, I'm certainly not saying that any of us are apostles: the canon is closed, and no one alive today is qualified to be an apostle, as nobody is a hand-picked emissary of Christ and an eyewitness to the bodily resurrection.

But if Christ's apostles have the authority to define and elaborate God's revealed message with confidence, and to do so without arrogantly presuming to BE God, surely the rest of us can discern the most basic components of that message, discern that the message is clear beyond any good-faith disagreement, and do so without that sort of arrogant presumption.

After all, that task is FAR more modest than the preaching responsibility of the Apostles and the authority in which they claimed that responsibility.

Even more so than your average human being, Christ's disciples ought to be amply equipped to interpret Scripture: we're not just made in God's image, we have God's Spirit indwelling us.

In I Cor 2:10-16, Paul explains that God's Spirit plumbs the depths of God's wisdom, reveals that wisdom to the Apostles, equips them with the very words with which they impart that wisdom to us, and even guides us in interpreting those words.

The basic message of the Bible is God's revelation through His prophets and apostles to us, so that we can truly know that revelation -- so that we may have CERTAINTY concerning the Apostles' teaching, as was Luke's goal for Theophilus; so that we may have the CONFIDENCE that John repeatedly commended in his first epistle; and so we might GROW IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, as Peter commanded at the end of his second epistle.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

What you've written, "I don't confuse Bubba with God," is glib, and it's very much along the lines of your trio of short comments about abortion, back at Sifting Reality.

There, you conflate the means of medical procedures with the ends of murder, as if no one could unjustly take a life through a lethal injection or a crude but effective amputation of the head.

You equivocate between the legal definition of murder and the moral prohibition of murder, as if no government has legalized atrocities through kangaroo courts, concentration camps, gas chambers, and incinerators.

And you treat your changing your mind on the matter as proof that morality is subjective, as if the objective immorality of adultery would be undermined if a man reconsidered his marriage vows to have a woman who was not his.

It's all so superficially clever but morally vacuous and intellectually dishonest.

There, you're using euphemism and apathy to distance yourself from the fact that the lives of tens of millions of children have been ended in the womb, deliberately and unjustly and often quite violently, and you defend this mass murder despite your platitudes about non-violence and protecting our most vulnerable neighbors.

Here, you're trying to undermine the confidence that a person can have in the most basic claims of Christianity as taught by God's prophets and apostles and preserved in the written record of their teaching -- INCLUDING claims as basic as theism and the historicity of Jesus.

On the one hand, there are people who treat God as a mere human construct and dismiss as unimportant the claim that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth, and they do so describing themselves as Christians.

On the other hand, there are people who believe that God has clearly communicated His own existence and the historicity of Jesus, they rebuke the first group, and they do so with confidence.

Your beliefs coincide with the second group -- "of course" they do, and I do know that you've pointed out before how your beliefs line up with the early church creeds. But as much as they coincide, you find it far more important to chastise them for their supposed arrogance than to correct the first group on their atheism.

You personally affirm the truth in its most basic claims, but you invoke that affirmation as cover for your concerted attempt to undermine the church's confidence in the truth. You place yourself in the orthodox camp while undermining the very concept of orthodoxy.

With the integrity of the gospel at stake, you denigrate its defenders and, as a result, you make room for false gospels. That you personally believe much of the gospel doesn't excuse or exonerate this treacherous behavior.

And because I do not question your intelligence to the degree that all this could just be some sort of misunderstanding, I must question your character.

You're enabling the propagation of false gospels, and because I suspect you know what you're doing, I think describing you as a false teacher is entirely appropriate.

(Because you're acting in the role of an accuser against the church, its faithful members, and the message to which God has entrusted it, there's actually a Hebrew word that's far worse but probably more accurate.)

You're not going to agree with my assessment. I'd be shocked if you even gave it serious thought.

Nevertheless, I think I should tell you that, as long as you use such thoughtless talking points, defenders of Christian orthodoxy will draw less-than-positive conclusions about you, and we'll have good reason for doing so.

I'll see you around.

Dan Trabue said...

As always, Bubba, you are welcome to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

Some actual, demonstrable facts, in the face of some of your points (this will take a while)...

1. "there's only one interpretation for this particular text, and the text's meaning is clear beyond any good-faith dispute."

Factually false. Here is a text: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Now one take on this passage is that it comes from a reliably factual source and, therefore, tells us factually that God exists and created the heavens and the earth 'in the beginning.'

A SECOND take on the passage is that it comes from a collection of creation myths and, therefore, does not tell us factually that God exists, etc.

TWO takes on the passage, TWO ways of looking at the passage, TWO ways of interpreting it. Not one. And for any passage you offer, I can offer other, similar second (or multiple) ways of interpreting/thinking about the passage.

Factually, then, there is not only one take on the text and FACTUALLY, people of good faith can and do disagree on how best to understand it.

2. however they verified their teaching, we'd be stuck with the same problem of whether there was only one plausible interpretation of that verification. It's a problem that may be reduced but not eliminated with the "process" of communicating and clarifying.

Not so complicated, Bubba. Factually, if Mr X writes Text 1 and someone says, "Text 1 means A, B and C, right?" Mr X can clarify, "No, that is NOT what my intention was when I wrote it." Factually speaking. Factually speaking, where Mr X has passed away and all his comrades and family have gone on and we have no definitive clarification of Text 1, then we factually can not definitively state with 100% authority, "Text 1 means A, B and C." We can speak with some relative authority, "I'm pretty sure, given all that Mr X wrote, that he did NOT mean A, B or C because..." and we can point to Mr X's other writings or maybe his contemporaries' writings to make our case. And we may or may not be able to make a pretty good, solid case. But, factually, we can not state with 100% authority, "Yes, I know perfectly what Mr X intended..."

Observably, factually speaking...

Dan Trabue said...

3. The Apostle Paul certainly did presume to have the "one true" message from God to man, the true gospel in stark contrast with the false gospels, and in Galatians 1 he proclaimed a most solemn curse against those preaching those false gospels.

Factually speaking, Paul NEVER said he could not be mistaken. Indeed, he said the opposite, that now we know only in part, as through a glass darkly. That is a fact.

Beyond that biblical fact, we can just see the reality of this all around us. None of us have perfect knowledge in general, or even perfect knowledge about some subset of ideas. Factually, no one does.

Factually, we are not assured that there are some subset of ideas about which we can not be mistaken.

Factually, the Bible never makes that claim.

Factually, we can see this in the world around us and in our very lives.

In short, we have no biblical or rational reason to think we can have perfect, without fail knowledge in any subset of ideas. AND, we have biblical and rational reasons to think otherwise.

That Paul speaks with confidence is no different than me or others like me speaking with confidence. We do so because we have a reasonable degree of confidence in our positions, NOT because we have perfect knowledge.

As to your claims about Paul, he did indeed berate "false teachers," but these were people - factually, according to the text - that were deliberately lying, deliberately deceiving for a profit or power motive, not the "merely mistaken." We have ZERO biblical witness of any church leaders condemning the "merely mistaken" as false teachers. Factually speaking.

And beyond the biblical witness, this is just rational. Yes, of course, people can be mistaken, even on serious issues. It's why we debate vigorously, disagree vigorously. No one is saying we should not disagree with others when we think they are dangerously mistaken.

BUT, people have GOT to get past this attitude of, "If they disagree with me, they can't honestly think they're right, so they must be lying monsters, of the devil, out to deliberately destroy and therefore, must be stopped." That is just a shallow, irrational approach to disagreement. We've got to stop that, and that is what I'm trying to do here by emphasizing holding our positions strongly, but with humility and respect/love for those we disagree with.

That is the Mistake of the Pharisee and it is wrong because it is lacking in grace and humility.

4. I'm certainly not saying that any of us are apostles: the canon is closed, and no one alive today is qualified to be an apostle

Fact: On this point, you are correct. None of us are apostles. However, we are all followers - Paul, Peter, Bubba and Dan - but what does that mean? Does that indicate a perfection of understanding - even on a subset of ideas - on our part/on their part? No. The early church disagreed, got into fights, disputed various sincerely-held tenets. The early leaders were human, sometimes vain, sometimes arrogant, sometimes overly-sure and underly-humble. We have no reason to think otherwise and we have their own testimony to support it, factually speaking...

Dan Trabue said...

5. if Christ's apostles have the authority to define and elaborate God's revealed message with confidence, and to do so without arrogantly presuming to BE God, surely the rest of us can discern the most basic components of that message

I think we absolutely can, as I have stated frequently. I, after all, hold strongly and with some confidence the positions I hold. BUT, I do so with the clear and humble realization that I can be mistaken. I simply, factually can. I have NO evidence to support that, on some topics, or some subset of topics, I can go without error.

You have provided no hard evidence that this is the case, I have no reason to think that there is some subset of ideas about which I can NOT be mistaken. Nor do you have any reason to think this. Factually speaking.

That we may be relatively confident, strongly confident about some of our positions does not negate the fact (and it is a fact) that we have no evidence to support the claim that "about THESE sub-set of ideas, I can not be mistaken."

If you have evidence that there is some subset of ideas about which you can not be mistaken, please provide it. But simply pointing at the text and saying, "See what it says? I can't be mistaken about it because it's 'clear!'" is factually, not evidence.

6. you're trying to undermine the confidence that a person can have in the most basic claims of Christianity as taught by God's prophets and apostles

FACT: No, I am not "trying" to undermine anyone's confidence. I AM trying to undermine and cut back on everyone's ARROGANCE, but there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. And what is that difference? The difference between saying, "I'm confident in my take on this position for these good reasons..." and "I, DAN TRABUE, can NOT be mistaken on this subset of ideas and the reason I can not be mistaken is because I have said so and I'm certain of it and I'm certain that no one could reasonably disagree with me and do so honestly..."

So, factually speaking, that claim is demonstrably, objectively false. How do I know? Because you are speaking of MY motives and I know my motives.

I am NOT trying to undermine anyone's confidence. In fact, I have stated in the past, "If you really believe X, by all means, believe it for yourself. I'm not trying to make you believe NOT X. Just recognize that many of us sincerely believe NOT X and we will act on that sincere belief, just as you should act on that sincere belief, as long as it's not harming others."

Dan Trabue said...

7. You personally affirm the truth in its most basic claims, but you invoke that affirmation as cover for your concerted attempt to undermine the church's confidence in the truth.

Absolutely false, NOT factual. I in no way am involved in a "concerted attempt" to undermine the church's confidence in Truth. That I BELIEVE the Truths found in the Bible - including the problems of arrogance - and, therefore encourage humility is only supporting the Church and her confidence in Truth. If some in the church replace their confidence in their opinions and positions with the certainty that they personally can NOT be mistaken, then they have moved from confidence in truth to a place of arrogance about their own brilliance. That, to me, is what undermines Truth in the church.

The problem, Bubba, is you seem to think that humility in our own brilliance somehow undermines Truth, whereas I think it supports Truth.

Regardless, the claim is a false one, not factual. Demonstrably so.

8. because I do not question your intelligence to the degree that all this could just be some sort of misunderstanding, I must question your character.

Then you do so in error. Factually speaking. I may be many things: Flawed, imperfect, arrogant at times, mistaken at times, able to be deceived, etc. But I am not a generally immoral person. I seek honestly and sincerely to do the Good, the Right and to walk in the steps of Jesus, my Lord and God. I am ENTRELY capable of being mistaken, but if so, it is a sincere error on my part, not a deliberate deception. Anyone who knows me can tell you the same.

Your conclusion is a faulty one, not a factual one.


9. You're enabling the propagation of false gospels, and because I suspect you know what you're doing, I think describing you as a false teacher is entirely appropriate.

Well, your suspicions are faulty, not based on facts. Again, anyone who knows me can tell you otherwise. You can consider me an imbecile if you suspect I'm "obviously" mistaken, but you can not rationally, factually consider me false in what I'm saying. There simply is ZEROevidence for it beyond your "I, BUBBA, don't see how he could really believe that, therefore, he must be false..."

Your ability to accept and understand does not equate to evidence, but rather, merely points to your human capacity to be mistaken or to lack understanding...

Dan Trabue said...

9. Because you're acting in the role of an accuser against the church, its faithful members

Absolutely false. This is NOT a fact in the least. I am NOT acting as an accuser against the church, but a defender of the church. YOU falsely conflate "those who agree with me" with "its faithful members." Bubba, factually speaking, the church does not begin or end with Bubba and those who agree with Bubba.

NOT factual. Demonstrably so. Additionally, given the years I've spent working with and for the church, it is a stupid-as-hell comment. I may be an imperfect follower of Christ, but I am NOT Christ's accuser, or the church's accuser and you have ZERO evidence to support this demonstrably false claim.

10. You've accused us of bearing false witness, which is another way of calling people liars, especially if the act requires deliberate deceit and not just a mistaken eyewitness testimony or subsequent conclusion.

When someone says something that is demonstrably false, I may rightly say, "This is demonstrably false." I generally try to phrase it like that, or calling it a "false witness" rather than calling it a lie, because a "lie" assumes intent. I usually use "This is a false witness" to give the grace of the benefit of the doubt, to assume that the false witness could have been done from ignorance or as a simple stupid mistake, rather than intentionally lying. Like your false claim that I am involved in a concerted attempt to undermine the church's confidence in truth. Factually speaking, that IS simply false.

Now, you probably speak that falsehood sincerely, in confusion and ignorance, or perhaps in arrogance of your own certainty in your own brilliance, but not as an intentional attempt to speak a falsehood. But, it remains factually a demonstrable falsehood. Pointing out false statements and calling them "false," is okay, I think. Do you disagree?

Dan Trabue said...

Phew!

In short, in conclusion, it appears your error is in your confidence that you can't be mistaken on some unsubstantiated subset of beliefs.

You appear to affirm you can 100% "know" you are right NOT because of a SINGLE SHRED of real world evidence, but because "I, BUBBA, don't see how anyone could REALLY think this, therefore, they don't. Therefore, they must be liars. How do I, BUBBA, know this? Because I KNOW IT. It is 'self-evident' to ME, BUBBA, therefore, it must be..."

That is an error in presumption, Bubba. Again and finally, if you have NO evidence as to why your opinion MUST be fact beyond, "well, it must be!" then we have no rational reason to accept your opinion, especially when it flies in the face of observable known facts.

Sorry. You might want to give some humble consideration to all these observable facts in the face of your petulant insistence in the certainty of your own inability to be mistaken.

Good luck and may the grace and wisdom of God go with you.