Tuesday, February 17, 2015

All Opinion is Opinion


I don't think that it is a radical idea to say that "All opinion IS opinion..." That isn't saying that all opinions are equally valid. It's not saying that some opinions can't be mistaken. It's just noting a reality, a tautology: All opinion is, as it turns out, Opinion. As a matter of fact.

It doesn't seem that complicated to me, but I think that in some worldviews, the notion that all opinions are opinions appears to be threatening. I reference Stan Smith's latest blog post...

There is, I believe, a current, ongoing assault on the Bible in our world today...

What most people don't see is that this isn't an attempt to uphold the sanctity of the Bible. It is simply an end of anything usable in Scripture. If plain readings of explicit texts and historic orthodoxy are unreliable, then what do we have? If you want to call it "the Word of God", it doesn't help if your "Word of God" is unknowable and uncertain. If all understanding of Scripture must be viewed as opinion, there is no authority in Scripture.

It sounds intelligent and holy. "Don't conflate your opinion into God's Word." But when it is used to say, "All understanding of Scripture is opinion"--and, make no mistake, when you boil it down that is the intent--then it is nothing less than an assault on the integrity and authority of Scripture. Just like the skeptics or the liberals. Perhaps worse because it almost sounds like a call for a greater respect for the Bible. Which it isn't. Deflating God's Word to mere opinion is not a defense of the Bible.

=======

I want to be clear that I'm not picking on Stan... this line of thinking is oft-repeated in our more fundamentalist camps and I just don't think it bears up to rational scrutiny. I'm not saying "God's Word" (ie, what God actually thinks, wants, wishes, desires) is unreliable. But we're not speaking of what God's literal Word - from God's lips to our ears. We are speaking of our personal, human understanding of various passages and holy texts.

When I look at the Genesis Creation stories and say, "I think this passage is told in a mythic style..." or "I think this passage represents a literal scientific explanation of how the world began about 6,000 years ago..." we are quite literally offering our opinions, our interpretations of that text. Or for ANY text, when we offer our understanding of what the text means to us, what it meant at the time of its first appearance, what it should mean to others, etc, we are offering our opinions about that.

This is especially true on more ancient texts and on less provable interpretations. There is no evidence that the original author certainly intended passage A to be understood to be a certain way in an ancient text like this. There just isn't. Some people of good faith may think that passage A means one thing and was told in one particular literary genre, while another may think it means something else and was told in a different literary genre. And for both people, it is simply factually an opinion.

What else can our opinions possibly be but OUR opinions? Can anyone answer that?

And how is the simple pointing out of the fact that our opinions are our opinions an "assault" on Scripture? How is that rational?

I just don't understand it and I think if I were ever to sit down, face to face with one of these type of believers, perhaps we could make some headway in coming to an understanding.

If I had to guess as to why some kick back so hard at calling our opinions "opinions," it would be summed up as Stan put it when he said, "If all understanding of Scripture must be viewed as opinion, there is no authority in Scripture."

Yes, if we admit that our opinions on unprovable matters are, as a matter of fact, our opinions, we do lose some bit of power, of "authority," but it is a loss of our personal power or authority, not the power of God's Actual Word. Yes, it would be nice to say, "I am the one who perfectly understands God's Will on this topic and what God believes is X. You're welcome!" but we don't have any biblical assurance that we can speak perfectly for God. We have just the opposite, in the Bible and in just observable reality. We are not perfect human beings, we don't understand things perfectly. We "see as through a glass, darkly..." and that's okay.

There is nothing to fear in giving up the delusion that we can understand things perfectly. There is no "assault" in the simple recognition of our opinion as opinion. There is humility in that, there is grace in that and there is good solid reason in that, naught else.

142 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

Stan has added an addendum, but he doesn't help his case any with it, he just further sinks it. He added...

You have to know that this whole thing strikes a nasty chord in the "Don't conflate your opinion" group. Why? Because, obviously all Bible interpretation is opinion. "So," they will object loudly, "we do hold the Bible in high regard as the Word of God. It's Man's interpretation that we question." And, again, it sounds holy. At least, "holier than thou." Because, you see, while affirming on one hand a high regard for the Word of God, they have completely undercut any ability to have the Word of God. Do you see that? If all interpretation is opinion and all opinion is fallible, it is impossible to have a reliable Word of God.

No, I do not see that. Please, explain it with some support.

Just because I or you or anyone else may not fully/perfectly understand a given text, it simply does not follow that it undercuts a "word of God..."

The thing is, the fundamentalist types will no doubt gladly affirm "their" ability to misunderstand the Bible. "They," the "Others," are, no doubt, completely misunderstanding the points made in the Bible when they disagree with the fundamentalists. But where is the assurance that they are the ones with perfect understanding? Do they even claim to have perfect understanding?

I'd say that no, they don't make that claim (they are always free to clarify). They'd be humble enough to say, "No, I don't perfectly understand the Bible in its entirety, but there ARE parts I DO understand perfectly and without error."

Fine, I would reply. List those parts and explain why - rationally and biblically - you can't be mistaken on those passages/parts, but other people can.

Never happens.

I'll repeat Stan's conclusion...

If all interpretation is opinion and all opinion is fallible, it is impossible to have a reliable Word of God.

First of all, it's not enough to simply say "If all interpretation is opinion..." and dismiss the claim out of hand because you don't like where you're logically going with that. You have to explain with data/support WHY is personal human interpretation of an un-provable concept NOT an opinion? IF Mr 1, 2 and 3 hold three different opinions about some unproven and un-provable aspect of "the creation of the world," how are their opinions NOT opinions? In what sense?

Why are opinions NOT opinions? That is the question they never seem to respond to.

Secondly, how does human imperfection mean that we don't have a "reliable" word of God? Doesn't it just mean that we humans are liable to misunderstand something? And isn't that just the simple reality of it all? And how is our inability to perfectly understand all things an indictment of the Bible's reliability or of the person who points out that our opinions are our opinions?

It just doesn't hold water.

Marshall Art said...

In short, to say that interpretation is opinion is to simply carve out for one's self loopholes necessary to believe what one wants to believe, what has the most appeal, what one's itching ears want to hear. One needn't follow clear teaching if that teaching can be written off as mere opinion.

Indeed, you cannot make your case without referring to Scripture itself to do so, which ironically defeats your point at the same time. In this I refer to the fact that without Scripture we do not know of God. There are those, taking a position very much like your own, assuming you don't take it as well, that Scripture is written by mere men of whom we cannot put our trust. Thus, how much less trust should we put in oral tradition if we suppose that no written Scripture was available to us whatsoever? While many scholars support the oral traditions of the ancients as reliable, the mere fact that nothing is written would allow for a greater debate in contemporary times regarding whether we can or should regard those traditions as reliable.

But we do have written Scripture which has been shown to be reliably related over the millennia, based on available manuscript copies. And what we find there is that which you would cite to support your position ("through a glass darkly") as if we must accept your opinion about what that even means in order for you to put forth your position in the first place.

Of course your application of that verse---1 Cor 13:12---is inappropriate here, as it doesn't refer to the legitimacy, accuracy or understanding of Scripture, and thus God's clear revelation to us therein, but to our perfect understanding of Him, which won't be possible until heaven. It does NOT refer to the clarity of His revelation found in Scripture. And while certain points here or there might be debatable, very little is so ambiguous as to rationalize your point regarding "opinion".



Dan Trabue said...

Feel free to clarify, Marshall, but I have to think that rationally, you agree with me.

1. When someone forms an opinion about an unprovable notion based on reading an ancient text, is that opinion a personal opinion, or is it a fact?

The only rational answer is, "it's a personal opinion," but feel free to tell me your answer.

NOTE: Saying that it's an opinion does not negate the opinion into meaningless - some opinions are weightier than others. It's just noting the reality that it's an opinion, not a fact, not God's Word.

2. IF you read Genesis 1 and interpret it to mean, in your opinion, that the world was created in six relatively literal days about 6,000 years ago and someone else reads the same passage and thinks it's coming from a mythic genre, therefore has no reason to think the earth is that young (and has much scientific and rational reason to NOT think so), on what basis is one opinion more valid than the other?

Clarify away.

Dan Trabue said...

At Stan's, you noted...

To dismiss an interpretation as mere opinion suggests the opinion of he who did the dismissing is the valid of the two.

Not necessarily. I may point out that you and I both hold opinions about Topic X and that neither opinion is provable and that's all there is to it.

For instance, I don't agree in investing money as a general rule. Now, I may point to passages in the Bible that say to not charge interest or that talk about not storing away treasures, and I may point to rational reasons (like the moral question of how can we save thousands/millions of dollars for some possible future personal need when there are real needs right here and now), but it remains an unprovable moral opinion and I gladly note it as such. You may disagree. And as long as we are both clear that we're holding personal human opinions on an unprovable topic, no problem. The Problem is when one or the other (or both) sides try to pretend that they are speaking for God or that their opinions are equivalent to facts, when neither is factually the case.

So, while I may "dismiss" your unprovable opinion in favor of my unprovable opinion, but it's not to say that mine is "right" or "better," just that it's mine.

Understand?

Marshall, you also said...

It does no good to simply say, "Believe what you want, but that's just your opinion" when truth is being sought.

In reality, in some cases, we have no definitive, authoritative word as to what is Truth. We might have our personal opinions and we may have good reasons why we hold them, but the "truth" of whether or not to go to war, to invest money, to drive cars, to allow immigrants in and how... the truth for all these is not provable. And there is no harm in admitting it or pointing out that reality. The harm comes when individuals point to their personal human opinions on these unprovable topics and try to conflate them to "god's Word" or fact.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan went on to say, in another post...

For the skeptic who assures us that "Sure, it's 'God-breathed', but your opinion isn't," let's keep in mind that Jesus promised an answer, a solution (John 16:13). We do not evaluate the Word in a vacuum, dependent solely on our fallible, sinful understanding. We do so under divine guidance by the One who breathed it.

John 16 says...

when He, athe Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth

Let me back up with just his starting premise...

For the skeptic who assures us that "Sure, it's 'God-breathed', but your opinion isn't,"

You can't dismiss this and gloss over it just because you think you don't like it. This is a sound statement that must be dealt with.

DOES he (does anyone) actually disagree with Stan's "skeptic..." (ie, people like me, although I'm not a skeptic in the general sense, just about Stan's opinions..)?

Sure, it's God-breathed, but your opinion is not.

Is that not correct? Is it not absolutely correct that none of our opinions are "God-breathed..."? Is it not correct that all of our opinions on topics that can't be proven are subject to being mistaken?

Stan glosses over this to move on to some Bible verse (which ultimately, even he must not believe in the way he's suggesting he believes), but first this point MUST be dealt with.

DOES Stan now have perfect understanding? Do all of us?

Stan goes on to point to the John 16 verse as a proof-text to presumably assure us that YES, Stan CAN read the passage and interpret it "with confidence" and "know" he "can't" be mistaken. Or some such nonsense (I never can know because he won't post or answer any questions from me). But that verse does not say what he thinks it says and we are wrong to use any Bible verse as a proof text, regardless.

IF the Spirit comes and "guides us into "all Truth," then doesn't that undo Stan's argument? If the Spirit is guiding "us" into all truth, then that would include me and my understanding of "all Truth" is different than Stan's, so that doesn't hold up.

Of course, from there, we can assume that Stan does not take that verse literally. He takes it to mean that the Spirit guides SOME OF US into "all Truth..." and by "some of us" he means Stan and those who agree with Stan. Others, the Spirit does not guide into all truth.

But even THERE, Stan almost certainly is not egomaniacal enough to take even that portion of it literally. Surely, he does not think that he, Stan, has been guided by God into ALL Truth, surely he is humble enough to at least admit that he does ot have perfect understanding.

So, ultimately, his "defense" of that which is on the face of it, silly and irrational, does not hold up even by his own reasoning.

And again, this is not to pick on Stan, who is no doubt a good and decent fella, striving to do his best. I'm just calling into question irrational thinking that does not hold up to questioning.

Craig said...

This post raises a number of questions. If you would like to answer, that would be great, but if not...

So here goes.

Disclaimer, I am going to use the term "others opinions" or something similar in order to be consistent with your premise. This is not to say that I agree with your characterizations of what other people say.

1. Is there/are there any thing(s) that are contained in the Bible that you can state with a high degree of certainty are factual?

2. If the answer is yes, could you please provide an/some examples?

3. In the past, you have referred to (what you consider to be peoples opinions) as being "irrational" or "not in line with reality" or words to that effect. Can you demonstrate that you have the ability to make an objective judgement about others opinions?

4. Can you demonstrate that your opinions have been drawn directly and explicitly from scripture?

5. Is it possible or likely that you might have, in at least some cases, chosen to cherry pick scripture to support your opinion, rather that conforming your opinion to scripture?

6. Would you agree, that we should conform our opinions to scripture, rather that scripture to our opinions?

7. When you say "Is it not absolutely correct that none of our opinions are "God-breathed..."?", you appear to be "asking" a rhetorical question. I presume that you believe that "our opinions' are not "God-breathed", but chose not to state it that bluntly. It should follow then that you would suggest that "our opinions" could never be "God-breathed". If I do, get the gist of your position, could you please provide some evidence to support this claim?

8. While not arguing that Truth is determined by numbers of people who espouse a certain position. You take many positions that are counter to what the Church has historically believed. You even take positions counter the the Anabaptist positions you claim to hold so dear. Why should anyone give any credence at all to an opinion that is so out of step with what Christians have historically believed? Why would you expect anyone to believe that your opinion is more correct than those held by that vast majority of the Church?

So, there you are, do with these what you will.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, I'l be glad to answer your questions. I hope you'll answer mine. Your first two...

. Is there/are there any thing(s) that are contained in the Bible that you can state with a high degree of certainty are factual?

2. If the answer is yes, could you please provide an/some examples?


We can say with absolute certainty that, in the King James version of the bible, Genesis 1: 1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." we can state that, as a point of fact, those words are found in that place in the Bible.

But this is just stating reality.

As to the various stories that are found within the pages of the Bible, can we say that any story is completely factual and do so with a high degree of certainty? No, I do not think so.

Is that what you're asking?

If you're asking if there are bits and pieces here and there we can be fairly sure of being factual and do so with a high degree of certainty, sure.

Clearly, there are stories in the OT speaking of the nation of Israel and just as clearly, there are an Israeli people still in existence. Certainly, then, we can be sure that the Israelites spoken of as a people existed in some form and, based on archeological research, we can say this is true back in biblical times. There is the reality of a Jewish people and there is architectural evidence to support that idea.

But, can we say with any certainty that the stories of King David happened factually, just as they are passed on in the bible? No, how could we?

Now, does that answer your question? Do you disagree? If so, how can you say that any of these stories, we can be certain that they happened just as they are told? On what basis?

For the older stories especially: On what basis would we assume that stories passed on in a time period before Modern History Telling were ever intended to be taken as literal history?

Is there any rational reason to think that stories from before 500 BC were intended to be taken as literal linear history, told in the modern style? What is it?

I'll let you answer those before moving on, just to keep it orderly.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, did you know I've addressed a bunch of your comments and questions over at your blog?

Just wanted to make sure you know I finally found those.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, would you also mind addressing your view of my main point? I said...

When I look at the Genesis Creation stories and say, "I think this passage is told in a mythic style..." or "I think this passage represents a literal scientific explanation of how the world began about 6,000 years ago..." we are quite literally offering our opinions, our interpretations of that text.

...do you think I'm mistaken? Do you think when someone offers their interpretation of a given text or group of texts, that they are offering something MORE than their human opinion? That their opinions on unprovable matters somehow rises to the level of "fact" or even "God's Word..."? If so, on what rational basis would you make that claim?

And why would one person/group's opinion rise to the level of indisputable fact, but not another person/group?

It seems that you and Stan (and folk like you) won't come out generally and say, "I can't possibly be mistaken on these points..." nor will you say what those points are you can't be mistaken on, but that you harbor that opinion personally. Rather, it seems that you all hold these fears... that IF we admit we don't know 100% what God wants on this point, then we can know nothing about what God wants.. or that our beliefs are somehow meaningless if we can't claim that they are objectively factual... in other words, it appears you all raise fear-based questions, but you don't address the problem of fallible human interpretation head on. Could you clarify, please?

Craig said...

"Is that what you're asking?"

No, I'm asking of there is any specific person, occurrence, or doctrine that appears in the Bible that you can state without equivocating is factual?

"But, can we say with any certainty that the stories of King David happened factually, just as they are passed on in the bible?"

Can you provide proof that the stories regarding King David are not factual?

"No, how could we?"

We could use the same criteria we use to evaluate the factuality of events that occurred near the same time period.

"Now, does that answer your question?"
No, it doesn't.

"Do you disagree"
Disagree with what?

"If so, how can you say that any of these stories, we can be certain that they happened just as they are told?"

Since you haven't given any specifics to respond to I don't understand what you are asking.

"On what basis?"

On what basis, what?

"For the older stories especially: On what basis would we assume that stories passed on in a time period before Modern History Telling were ever intended to be taken as literal history?"

Until you can establish your premise (That the OT stories were not intended to be taken as an accurate account of actual events), then I see no reason to presume that this particular opinion you hold is valid. If you can demonstrate that your opinion is backed up by facts, then we can move on.

"Is there any rational reason to think that stories from before 500 BC were intended to be taken as literal linear history, told in the modern style?"

Sure.

"What is it?"

They are presented as such in the texts. They are referred to by subsequent figures as if they are historical. There is enough archeological evidence to support taking the OT is intended to accurately communicate real events.

"Craig, did you know I've addressed a bunch of your comments and questions over at your blog?"

Nope.

"I'll let you answer those before moving on, just to keep it orderly."

Craig said...

So you consider it orderly to respond to only two of my questions, tell me that you'll let me answer yours before you "move on", then expect me to answer a bunch of additional questions. OK, seems strange to be, but...

"..do you think I'm mistaken?"

I think that you are either mistaken or intentionally wrong about what the people you are disagreeing with actually mean. But, to your actual question, I think that you have offered your opinion without any actual facts or objective support to back it up. So that when you make these unsupported assertions of opinion, they simply carry no weight.

"Do you think when someone offers their interpretation of a given text or group of texts, that they are offering something MORE than their human opinion?"

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "interpretation". I would suggest that there are at least some things in the Bible that are so clearly stated that to simply re-state them is not interpretation, it is simply reading. (This is what I was hoping for had you answered my first question) Having said that, interpretation by definition carries with it the an implication that some interpretations are more accurate or consistent with the text than others. To simply broad brush such a wide continuum, as simply "opinion" doesn't do justice to either the science of hermeneutics, the power of the Holy Spirit, nor the weight of history.

"That their opinions on unprovable matters somehow rises to the level of "fact" or even "God's Word..."?"

As long as you can't provide an actual example of someone doing this, I see no reason to speculate on something that hasn't happened.

"If so, on what rational basis would you make that claim?"

I haven't made a claim, you have. Provide some actual evidence if you want me to take it seriously.

"And why would one person/group's opinion rise to the level of indisputable fact, but not another person/group?"

Again, can you show me where any mainstream person or group has made such a claim? If not, then ditch the straw man.

"It seems that you and Stan (and folk like you) won't come out generally and say, "I can't possibly be mistaken on these points..." nor will you say what those points are you can't be mistaken on, but that you harbor that opinion personally."

You do realize that how things seem to you don't mean that you have accurately interpreted things. The fact that you can't offer evidence to support your hunch, yet still seem to believe that your opinion of what I believe is more accurate than what I've actually told you, seems to indicate that you believe that your opinion is more factual than my repeated explanations.

"Rather, it seems that you all hold these fears... that IF we admit we don't know 100% what God wants on this point, then we can know nothing about what God wants.. or that our beliefs are somehow meaningless if we can't claim that they are objectively factual... in other words, it appears you all raise fear-based questions, but you don't address the problem of fallible human interpretation head on."

It seems like it would have been more orderly for you to have simply answered my earlier questions instead of offering these unsupported ramblings suggesting that you know more about what I believe than I do.

"Could you clarify, please?"

Clarify what? That your amateurish psychoanalysis is wrong. OK, it's wrong.

If you answer the questions I asked earlier and clarify what you want clarified, I'll consider going into more detail.

Craig said...



I realize you haven't answered the questions in my initial comment yet, and I don't want to disrupt your sense of orderliness, but I can't let this go un commented upon.

"There is nothing to fear in giving up the delusion that we can understand things perfectly."

1. Unless you can offer some sort of objective proof that anyone actually holds this view, then it seems safe to say that you are the one with a delusion.

2. Do you really think that calling people who hold a different view than yours delusional is a grace filled way to respond?

"There is no "assault" in the simple recognition of our opinion as opinion."

Again, can you please provide some actual proof that anyone has ever said that opinion is not opinion? For that matter, how about demonstrating that your opinion on what is opinion is the correct opinion?

"There is humility in that, there is grace in that and there is good solid reason in that, naught else."

Again, I've not seen anyone actually assert that their opinion is THE PERFECT opinion or anything remotely like that. So, perhaps the thing to do is to provide hard data (quotes, links, etc.) that prove that you have correctly assessed what others have said, and that you have accurately represented it.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I'm asking of there is any specific person, occurrence, or doctrine that appears in the Bible that you can state without equivocating is factual?

Our opinions about doctrines are unprovable opinions. Point blank. Not a provable, demonstrable fact.

Do you disagree? If so, prove it.

I think there is evidence sufficient to say that several biblical characters existed. Pharoahs certainly existed and there is evidence that some Israelite kings existed. There is plenty of evidence that Jesus and Paul existed, for example.

Here's a source citing archeological evidence for David and Solomon, for instance...

http://www.inquisitr.com/1708852/biblical-figures-king-david-and-solomon-may-have-actually-existed-say-archaeologists/

So, it can be fairly safe to say that we have plenty of hard evidence to support the existence of many biblical characters as a reliable fact.

As to any occurrence - are we able to say with certainty that any story told in the bible is told in a completely factual, linear manner, as in the style of modern history? No, of course not. There just isn't data to support the facts for even one complete story, as told. Nor is there any evidence to support the claim/personal belief that they are intended to be taken that way.

If you have evidence, by all means present it. I'm not opposed to evidence - I welcome it. I'm opposed to unsupported claims presented as facts.

More later...

Craig said...

"Our opinions about doctrines are unprovable opinions. Point blank. Not a provable, demonstrable fact."

Then please do.

"As to any occurrence - are we able to say with certainty that any story told in the bible is told in a completely factual, linear manner, as in the style of modern history? No, of course not."

When you say "of course not" I am led to believe that you are stating that your premise is s fact. So, can you please provide proof of your statement.

"Do you disagree? If so, prove it."

As I have not stated a position on the topic, I see no reason to prove a position I have not taken.

If I do, then I will gladly provide you with support. However, in the interest of being orderly, it seems like we should deal with the questions in the order they were asked. I know you agree with this, so I'll wait until you catch up.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

"Our opinions about doctrines are unprovable opinions. Point blank. Not a provable, demonstrable fact."

Then please do.


Prove a negative? No, thanks. If you want to make or defend a positive claim that we can objectively demonstrably provably "know" that a personal opinion about religious doctrine is a fact, then the onus is on you to support the claim. If you don't want to make that claim (and who would want to?), then we have no disagreement.

Do you wish to make that claim?

Craig...

"As to any occurrence - are we able to say with certainty that any story told in the bible is told in a completely factual, linear manner, as in the style of modern history? No, of course not."

When you say "of course not" I am led to believe that you are stating that your premise is s fact.


The fact is, Craig, we are not able to make a positive claim that "Jonah actually existed and his story as found in the Bible is exactly literally how it happened, and we can know this as a fact..." IF you are making that positive claim, then defend it. If you are not making that claim, then we have no beef.

The onus is on the one making a positive claim. I'm stating that there is zero evidence that has been supplied to support such a claim. That is a fact. There is ZERO EVIDENCE. If you wish to disprove my claim of zero known evidence, then supply it.

The onus is on the one making a positive claim to prove something, not on the person who is saying there is zero known evidence.

Ball's in your court.

Craig said...

"Our opinions about doctrines are unprovable opinions. Point blank. Not a provable, demonstrable fact."

Could you please define what your are referring to when you say "doctrines"?

Dan Trabue said...

Good question.

One can certainly say definitively and factually that the doctrine of the human organization, The Catholic Church, or The Southern Baptist Convention includes belief 1, 2 or 3. So clearly, those doctrines of human organizations can be affirmed factually.

I'm speaking of "doctrines" in the sense that "God wants us to do 1, 2 and 3..." or "God is opposed to behaviors A, B and C..."

Doctrines in that sense are not provable and one can not offer a doctrine of "God's Will" as a point of fact, that's what I'm speaking of, which seemed to be the point of your request.

But since you are the one who brought up "doctrines" not me, perhaps you could define what you meant by it.

Craig said...

"Do you wish to make that claim?"

Up until now and pending your answers I have not and will not make any specific claims about this. I am trying to understand your position and feel that until I can accurately understand your position (hence the series of questions), it simply muddies the waters to introduce any sort of counterclaim at this time. I would hope that you, with your desire for order, would understand that it simply makes sense for me to attempt to understand the scope, nuance, and specifics or your position before moving on. Surely you can see that this is a reasonable approach. Which explains why I choose not to make any assertions at this point in the conversation.

Unfortunately you have, and refuse to demonstrate it. I quote.
"Our opinions about doctrines are unprovable opinions." You have taken a position, a reasonably clear and unambiguous position. Given that, it should not surprise you when people ask you to defend your positions.

"The fact is, Craig, we are not able to make a positive claim that "Jonah actually existed and his story as found in the Bible is exactly literally how it happened,..."

Unfortunately, I think that this is where you fail to understand my (and others positions). In fact our ability to make a positive claim about any historical happening, is not a comment on the actual event. This is why I believe that your entire premise is based on a faulty understanding of the actual position of the opposite side of the discussion.

"The onus is on the one making a positive claim."

Which is why, I keep asking your for evidence to support your positive claim. If, as you state, there is zero evidence regarding the way history was recorded back then, then your claim is baseless. I have seen/and provided you with studies that support the historic Christian position that the OT record is substantially accurate. As long as you continue to impose your own criteria on ancient history, you will be unsatisfied. So, if you would like to prove your positive claim (That history, prior to some arbitrary point, was not recorded accurately.), then provide proof. If all you have is perceived literary style, then stop making the claim as if it is fact.

Craig said...

"Craig, I'll be glad to answer your questions. I hope you'll answer mine. Your first two..."

"I'll let you answer those before moving on, just to keep it orderly."

Just to keep the facts straight, I've answered all of the questions you asked in your February 22, 2015 at 12:44 PM, comment.

In addition, I've addressed your questions in your 12:45 and 1:00 comments as well.

I would assume that since I've more than held up my end of this conversation, that you will gladly answer the remainder of my original questions before moving on to other areas of discussion.

I am just trying to keep the conversation orderly, as I know you like.

Craig said...

"But since you are the one who brought up "doctrines" not me, perhaps you could define what you meant by it."

As this is germane to my original set of questions, I will give you an answer.

When I am speaking of doctrines in the Biblical sense, I am speaking of those things that the Bible clearly speaks of that were later summarized as doctrine by the Church. A few examples.

Theism-the existence of a transcendental God.
The Deity of Christ
The resurrection
The concept of a triune God

Maybe, this will help you clarify your comment.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I am speaking of those things that the Bible clearly speaks of that were later summarized as doctrine by the Church. A few examples.

Theism-the existence of a transcendental God.
The Deity of Christ
The resurrection
The concept of a triune God


Craig, I don't know how much clearer I can be:

It is absolutely a fact that human church organizations affirm these as doctrines.

And each of those human doctrines are absolutely an unprovable opinion.

The church - or anyone else - can not prove that Jesus was resurrected as a demonstrable point of fact. We can not prove that Jesus is divine, as a point of demonstrable fact.

Do you understand?

Do you disagree?

That is, are you saying that you are able to demonstrate proof that the claim "Jesus was/is God's Son" is a fact?

If you are making the claim, by all means, prove it.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm not at all sure you've answered all my questions, but you've given it a shot, at least. Therefore, continuing with your 3rd question...

3. In the past, you have referred to (what you consider to be peoples opinions) as being "irrational" or "not in line with reality" or words to that effect. Can you demonstrate that you have the ability to make an objective judgement about others opinions?

If someone claims that an opinion is a fact, that is less than rational. I'm stating as a matter of fact, then, that confusing opinions with facts is irrational. It has nothing to do with my ability to make objective judgments and is a simple statement of fact.

Now, it is always a possibility that I have misunderstood someone's position and they are always free to clarify. I have historically had a difficult time getting direct clarifications, but always welcome them.

4. Can you demonstrate that your opinions have been drawn directly and explicitly from scripture?

? I don't know what you mean. My opinions about a variety of topics come from a variety of sources. My opinions about what various biblical texts mean come from a variety of sources, including explicitly and directly from the biblical text.

More...

Dan Trabue said...

5. Is it possible or likely that you might have, in at least some cases, chosen to cherry pick scripture to support your opinion, rather that conforming your opinion to scripture?

It's possible, sure. But since I am not one that goes to the Bible as a rulings or rule book, it's not likely. For instance, in the past, I cherry picked scripture to shore up my cultural belief that all homosexual acts were opposed by God. I also have cherry picked scripture in the past to shore up my progressive belief that God definitively opposes war, as a matter of fact. I recognize now that I was cherry picking verses and using the Bible like a rule book in those instances. I now recognize that the Bible is not rightly used as a rulings book and strive to not do that.

6. Would you agree, that we should conform our opinions to scripture, rather that scripture to our opinions?


No. I believe we should conform our opinions to what is Right, to what is God's Will. The human-picked books of the Bible are, to me, a good reference point (useful for training and correction), but not a rulings book where we cherry pick passages to support our points.

The problem with the notion of "conforming our opinions to Scripture," in my opinion, is that there is a risk of doing just the opposite - finding passages that support our existing biases and cultural opinions, rather than seeking Truth and Righteousness.

As Paul teaches: We are not to conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The goal then, is not in simply abandoning "conforming to the world" with "conforming with our ideas about what the Bible means" but seeking God's Way, seeking Truth, seeking Good and thus, transforming our minds.

Dan Trabue said...

7. When you say "Is it not absolutely correct that none of our opinions are "God-breathed..."?", you appear to be "asking" a rhetorical question. I presume that you believe that "our opinions' are not "God-breathed", but chose not to state it that bluntly. It should follow then that you would suggest that "our opinions" could never be "God-breathed". If I do, get the gist of your position, could you please provide some evidence to support this claim?

We have no data to support a claim that all of our opinions are "God-breathed" or perfectly inspired by God. If anyone makes that claim, I point to the reality that there is no data to support that claim.

If you're not making that claim and you agree with my stating of reality, then we're in agreement.

8. While not arguing that Truth is determined by numbers of people who espouse a certain position. You take many positions that are counter to what the Church has historically believed. You even take positions counter the the Anabaptist positions you claim to hold so dear. Why should anyone give any credence at all to an opinion that is so out of step with what Christians have historically believed? Why would you expect anyone to believe that your opinion is more correct than those held by that vast majority of the Church?

If my positions do not make sense to you, if they do not hold up to reason in your personal opinion, then you should absolutely not agree with me. But, if you can't support your disagreement with my actual positions with actual facts, you should be clear that your disagreement is one that is not over proven facts, just a matter of personal opinion.

If I make a claim that is rational and supported by facts as we know them, then you should admit that while you acknowledge my position is supported by the facts as we know them, you choose to ignore that in faith that your non-fact based opinions will turn out to be correct one day.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

"The fact is, Craig, we are not able to make a positive claim that "Jonah actually existed and his story as found in the Bible is exactly literally how it happened,..."

Unfortunately, I think that this is where you fail to understand my (and others positions). In fact our ability to make a positive claim about any historical happening, is not a comment on the actual event. This is why I believe that your entire premise is based on a faulty understanding of the actual position of the opposite side of the discussion.


Please explain what you mean. Your "ability to make a positive claim about any historical happening is not a comment on the actual event..."

?

What does that mean?

A positive claim about the factuality of Jonah's story is not a comment on the actual event??

You'll have to explain if you'd like me to understand.

Thanks.

Craig...

"The onus is on the one making a positive claim."

Which is why, I keep asking your for evidence to support your positive claim. If, as you state, there is zero evidence regarding the way history was recorded back then, then your claim is baseless.


Again, there is ZERO evidence - evidence does not exist in the real world so far as I am aware - that, for instance, the collection of stories found in Genesis were intended by their authors to be taken as a literally factual history told in the modern style that emerged centuries later.

There is nothing for me to prove, there. I'm pointing to a lack of evidence. A negative claim, as pointed out in wikipedia...

When the assertion to prove is a negative claim, the burden takes the form of a negative proof, proof of impossibility, or mere evidence of absence.

I'm point to the mere lack of evidence to support the claim.

IF you have proof to support the POSITIVE claim that, for instance, the authors of Genesis INTENDED it to be taken as literally factual history told in the modern style, then provide it.

Craig said...

"If you are making the claim, by all means, prove it."

As I said before, I am not making any sort of claim at this point. I am hoping to explore the claims you are making.

I hope this is clear.

So it is your position that the Bible is silent (or fallible) on things like the existence of God, the deity of Christ and the triune nature of the Godhead?

I think your problem is that you believe that if someone quotes the words found in the Bible, that somehow that (by definition) makes that quote an opinion, not a quote.

Craig said...

"I'm not at all sure you've answered all my questions."

As a point of fact, I have answered all of the questions you asked through your comment from February 22, 2015 at 8:11 PM.

The last sentence in the above referenced comment is ""I'll let you answer those before moving on, just to keep it orderly.".

So, since I answered all of your questions up to that point, it would seem logical that you would follow through on your commitment to answer the questions asked. I have not answered all of your questions asked after the above referenced comment, as I am trying to help you keep your commitment to orderliness, and to do what you said you would do. Clearly you can't have a problem with people expecting you do do what you say you will do, do you?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

it is your position that the Bible is silent (or fallible) on things like the existence of God, the deity of Christ and the triune nature of the Godhead?

No, that is not my position.

The Bible clearly speaks about God, the deity of Jesus and at least hints at what could be called the triune nature of God.

Those words are in the Bible.

BUT, and here is what you are apparently not understanding, that the words appear there STILL depends on interpretation and assessment of the text. ARE the places that the Bible hints at the Trinity to be interpreted that God has a triune nature? Well, that's a matter of personal opinion and interpretation and it can not be proven that the author (much less God) intended for it to be understood that way.

That is simply not a demonstrable fact. If one forms that opinion from reading the Bible, then it is their personal human opinion.

Understand?

Again, it has nothing to do with the Bible being "fallible" or not. It has everything with human understanding being fallible.

You appear to agree that you are not in possession of perfect understanding of all things related to the Bible, is that correct?

If so, then on what basis would you claim partially perfect understanding of how biblical texts are "intended" to be interpreted?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

since I answered all of your questions up to that point, it would seem logical that you would follow through on your commitment to answer the questions asked.

Already done when you posted this. Just look above your comment.

Craig said...

Thanks for the answers, a few comments/follow ups.

"If someone claims that an opinion is a fact, that is less than rational."

So if, in your opinion, someone states an opinion that you feel to be irrational, then you feel that you can make the factual claim that their opinion or they are factually irrational. Can you demonstrate that you are, factually, rational and capable of making objective determinations about the factuality of other peoples claims?

"My opinions about what various biblical texts mean come from a variety of sources, including explicitly and directly from the biblical text."

So, to clarify, would you take the opinion of a non scriptural source over the plain reading of a text in determining your opinion of the veracity of the text?

"We have no data to support a claim that all of our opinions are "God-breathed" or perfectly inspired by God. If anyone makes that claim, I point to the reality that there is no data to support that claim.'

So, you admit that no one has actually made this claim. Why would you go to such lengths to dispute a claim that no one has actually made. Or you could provide evidence that the claim has been made.

So, are you suggesting that you have evaluated ever single place where that Bible speaks on wealth and money and are prepared to determine that you have looked at everything in an unbiased manner before making the claims you do about what is an appropriate use of wealth?

Your answer to my question #8 doesn't really answer the question that I asked, could you please answer that question?

"If I make a claim that is rational and supported by facts as we know them,...?

What sort of factually supported claim have you made?

"What does that mean?"

It means that (to use your example) that either Jonah existed or not. The literal fact of his existence is not related to the factualness of the accounts about his existence.

For example, the movie American Hustle was based on events that actually literally happened. Yet, the movie took liberties with the facts in the interest of telling the story in an entertaining way. However, the fact that the movie got numerous things factually "wrong", doesn't mean that the events didn't happen. What you seem to be doing is confusing the factuality of the narrative with the factuality of the events. This seems problematic in numerous ways.

"IF you have proof to support the POSITIVE claim that, for instance, the authors of Genesis INTENDED it to be taken as literally factual history told in the modern style, then provide it."

This is the same type of thing that your atheist buddies try to get away with.

You are clearly making a positive claim (The stories contained in Genesis are written in an epic mythical style and were not intended to be taken as history), yet you haven't provided any actual evidence to support this claim.

What you have done, is to assume that your opinion of the literary style of Genesis is correct (in the absence of any evidence to positively support your opinion), then proceeded to say that "Since there is ZERO evidence to disprove my opinion, then my opinion must be correct". (or words to that effect.

Unfortunately, you haven't proven that;
A. Your underlying premise is true and supported by evidence.
B. That the use of a particular literary style somehow limits the accuracy of the stories being presented.
C. That the level of proof for the medium somehow validates or invalidates the facts of the underlying events.

So, if you would like to demonstrate that your underlying assumptions are factual with actual evidence, then we can proceed. But as long as your whole case is "it just feels like it's myth", then we're back to your unsupported opinion being offered as fact.

And isn't what this post is about?


Craig said...

"Already done when you posted this. Just look above your comment."

I realize that you did finally answer the questions asked. I was simply pointing out that your comment suggesting that I had not answered all of your questions was somewhat skewed.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

So, to clarify, would you take the opinion of a non scriptural source over the plain reading of a text in determining your opinion of the veracity of the text?


Possibly. It depends.

For instance, a naïve, "plain" reading of Genesis 1 would have one saying, "Oh, this is told as a story that happened 'in the beginning' so this must be a history story told factually in the manner that I'm used to reading history."

But then, a more adult reading would recognize, "Oh, I recognize from archeology and physics and other scientific realms that the world was not created in six days, and not 6,000 years ago. From further education, I recognize that the period of modern history-telling did not begin until starting around 500 BC - 500 AD, so given that reality, I have no good textual reason to insist that these stories were intended to be understood as literal scientific history..."

That is, I have no problem recognizing reality as reality and believing, rationally, that in understanding the Bible, I don't have to abandon reason and real world evidence, and therefore, why would I insist, contrary to reality as I understand it, that the Bible's stories must be taken as literal history in every case.

It's probably not dissimilar to your own understanding of why you don't need to take the "four corners of the Earth" in the Bible to mean that the earth is square. No, of course, "the four corners" passage need not - SHOULD NOT - be taken literally as we know that the Earth isn't square, so that must be imagery, not a literal description.

We should not abandon reason and evidence in favor of a literal reading of biblical texts. It is irrational and not biblical.

Do you disagree?

Craig said...

"BUT, and here is what you are apparently not understanding, that the words appear there STILL depends on interpretation and assessment of the text."

So, are you suggesting that no matter how clear the Biblical text is, that there is way to interpret it accurately?

For example in John we find the verse "Jesus wept.". It seems logical to most, that (presuming a correct translation, which at this point is a safe presumption) the text literally means that Jesus wept. That He cried, That tears ran down His face. But what you seem to be saying is that even that 2 word simple declarative sentence cannot be understood with any degree of certainty.

I suspect that you don't apply this test to other works of antiquity. I also suspect that you will insist that you do, which is unprovable.

"You appear to agree that you are not in possession of perfect understanding of all things related to the Bible, is that correct?"

Yes, I do agree. Which raises the issue of your claims that someone has ever claimed to have perfect understanding of all things related to the Bible.

The problem is you make the leap from "We can't have perfect understanding of all things related to the Bible" to We can't claim to understand virtually anything in the Bible with any sort of objective confidence.

And therein lies the problem.

Because we can't perfectly understand everything doesn't mean that we can't perfectly understand anything. I'd suggest that while perfection is obviously not realistic, that it is possible to understand with an extremely high degree of confidence.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

So, to clarify, would you take the opinion of a non scriptural source over the plain reading of a text in determining your opinion of the veracity of the text?

So, to clarify, to insist on a "plain reading" over reality, over known data, over nuanced literary criticism would be naïve and childish. We ought to take an adult and rational approach to biblical studies, if we wish to be serious students of the Bible.

And again, I suspect you must agree. You don't take each biblical passage as woodenly literal "plain reading" meaning. You do not observe literally Jesus' command to "give to all who ask of you," I suspect.

You probably do not criticize those who charge interest, in spite of biblical injunctions against it (taken at a plain reading), nor do you take "four corners" at a plain reading.

I suspect that you agree that adult Bible study is more nuanced than simple wooden literalism. And rightly so.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

It seems logical to most, that (presuming a correct translation, which at this point is a safe presumption) the text literally means that Jesus wept. That He cried, That tears ran down His face. But what you seem to be saying is that even that 2 word simple declarative sentence cannot be understood with any degree of certainty.


You are not understanding my point. Still.

Clearly, in the text, it reports that Jesus wept. I have no reason to suspect that Jesus didn't weep in that story.

What I'm saying is that we can not PROVE that literally, factually, that story happened in the real world just as described there.

Do you understand the difference?

Perhaps in that text, John was embellishing to emphasize Jesus' humanity or concern for humanity. Perhaps it literally happened. We have ZERO ways to prove one way or the other. We have ZERO hard data to support a claim that it factually happened.

Do you have EVEN ONE bit of data that demonstrates objectively that John is recording a literal event or if he was embellishing to make a point? No, you don't. It is not demonstrable. It is not provable. We can not say that we know this happened as a matter of demonstrable fact.

Do you understand?

Do you disagree? If so, then resolving this matter is simple: Produce the hard data evidence to support your positive claim. If not, then we are not disagreeing.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I'd suggest that while perfection is obviously not realistic, that it is possible to understand with an extremely high degree of confidence.

Me, too.

Understand? I am not saying that we ought not be confident in our positions, that we don't have sufficient reason to hold positions. Clearly, I do.

I am entirely confident that God would not oppose gay folks marrying. I am entirely confident that Jesus rose from the dead. I am entirely confident that Jesus wants us to live a simple lifestyle, that Jesus does not want us to kill our nation's enemies in war time. I have many positions which I hold with great confidence.

AND, at the same time, I can easily admit that these are my personal opinions, not facts, not "God's Word."

Can you?

If so, that's all I'm saying and we agree.

The parting point appears to be that you all (fundamentalists, conservatives, whatever term fits) want to hang on to the notion that SOME of your positions (the ones you REALLY, REALLY are sure about) are somehow raised from opinion to certainty, fact, or God's Word because you REALLY, REALLY are sure. That isn't rational, it is not supported by hard data.

I can admit my opinions are my opinions, and I don't confuse them with facts or God's Word.

Can you?

Craig said...

Interesting, that you cast someone as "naive" who might approach Genesis by taking the plain text for what it appears to be, while you suggest that filtering Genesis through "Science" is a more adult approach.

Why is it necessary to make condescending value judgements on the maturity of the readers of Genesis.

For example, are you really prepared to pronounce that CH Spurgeon is "naive" and not "adult" because he disagrees with your opinion on Genesis?

"I recognize that the period of modern history-telling did not begin until starting around 500 BC - 500 AD, so given that reality,.."

It would seem that this is a reality unsupported by facts. Can your provide unequivocal evidence that all history prior to your thousand year window was written in a mythic, epic, non factual style? You know, actual evidence.

As I pointed out earlier, as long as your underlying assumptions are not supported by evidence, then any conclusions you might draw are undermined by the lack of foundation.

"I have no good textual reason to insist that these stories were intended to be understood as literal scientific history..."

Can you provide an example of anyone who insists that the only possible way to understand Genesis is a literal scientific history? Again, specific examples with quotes and links would really help bolster your case.

"No, of course, "the four corners" passage need not - SHOULD NOT - be taken literally as we know that the Earth isn't square,..."

And once again you are setting up a straw man. I can't understand why you continue to misrepresent what people who hold to a literal view of scripture believe.

If you don't understand what you are talking about, ask. Or do the research yourself. Don't assume or set up straw men. It's a waste of both of our time.

For the record, a literal reading of the "4 corners" passage would realize that it is literally metaphor or imagery or a popular saying that means "the entire earth.", not assume that the writer was talking about a cube or a square. A literalist reading of the text starts with identifying the genre and proceeding from there. So, one would approach poetry differently than history or the proverbs differently from apocalyptic writings. It certainly doesn't mean (at least not in the real world) that you must ignore imagery and metaphor and insist that God is a bird. Seriously, this mis application of the concept of a literal reading is childish and stupid. I really would expect better.

Craig said...

"So, to clarify, to insist on a "plain reading" over reality, over known data, over nuanced literary criticism would be naïve and childish. We ought to take an adult and rational approach to biblical studies, if we wish to be serious students of the Bible."

Had I actually said everything you assumed, you might be right, however I didn't, so I guess you need to try something else.


"I suspect that you agree that adult Bible study is more nuanced than simple wooden literalism. And rightly so."

See my other comment to correct your misinterpretation.

"What I'm saying is that we can not PROVE that literally, factually, that story happened in the real world just as described there."

What I'm saying is so what. The fact that it can't be proven to your satisfaction has no bearing on the truth of the underlying event. Further, I'd suggest you take a look at some of the work that has been done around "proving" the reliability of the scriptures, particularly the NT. Again, I'm not going to spoon feed you, you'll just ignore it or blow it off. So do your own unbiased research and go into it with an open mind.

"Produce the hard data evidence to support your positive claim. If not, then we are not disagreeing."

As long as you produce yours first.

Oh, you forgot, I am trying to understand your position while remaining orderly by not introducing my position into the conversation at this time. So, maybe it would be helpful for you to support your position rather than make presumptions about mine.

"I can admit my opinions are my opinions, and I don't confuse them with facts or God's Word. Can you?"

Since I (or anyone else) has claimed to be able to do so, why not stick to the reality rather than muddy the waters with your presumptions.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

For the record, a literal reading of the "4 corners" passage would realize that it is literally metaphor or imagery or a popular saying that means "the entire earth.", not assume that the writer was talking about a cube or a square. A literalist reading of the text starts with identifying the genre and proceeding from there.

You DO recognize, don't you, that this is literally what I am doing?

I AM identifying the genre and proceeding from there. Genesis, by all literary and scientific evidence, appears to be written in a mythic style.

So, just like you recognize, easily, that "four winds" is metaphor - and you use your reasoning to sort that out and make that decision - so, too, I use my reasoning to recognize that Genesis is not literal history, but imagery, myth.

How is it different?

And if someone insisted to you that, "WHAT??! You don't take 'four winds' literally?! Don't you believe the Bible? Why are you insisting on denying the 'plain meaning' of the text?" how would you respond?

Is it fair to say that such a response would be based upon a naïve reading of that text? Would it be insulting to call it naïve, or is that a simple and accurate description, no harm intended?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

"What I'm saying is that we can not PROVE that literally, factually, that story happened in the real world just as described there."

What I'm saying is so what. The fact that it can't be proven to your satisfaction has no bearing on the truth of the underlying event.


So what? So it is important to admit that our opinions about unprovable points are OUR opinions, not facts.

Do you agree? If so, then we have no disagreement.

Certainly, I think I'm factually correct about all manner of things we disagree upon. Certainly, I think one day you will be ashamed of your position on war, homosexuality and perhaps other topics and it will turn out that I was correct on the Truth of the underlying point.

BUT, right here, right now, I gladly admit that I do not factually know that I'm correct on these and other points, just as I gladly admit that you all do not factually know you are correct. We each hold our unprovable opinions.

Do you agree?

Don't tell me "I didn't say otherwise..." just come straight out and agree or disagree so we can know each other's position without these vague answers. The way you respond, it often seems like you intellectually realize you can't factually disagree with me, but you don't want to say so out loud, so you beat around the bush and avoid direct answers.

How about making it clear for me?

Dan Trabue said...

An example of that vagueness is here...

What I'm saying is so what. The fact that it can't be proven to your satisfaction

...it has nothing to do with "to my satisfaction" and everything to do with admitting, point blank: It can't be proven. Period.

Look, I can't prove that Jesus rose from the dead. I think there is sufficient evidence that I'm willing to take it on faith, what I can't prove. But I, am no, nor is my faith, diminished by admitting the simple reality that I can not - you can not, NO one can - prove Jesus rose from the dead.

If you can prove it, then do so, I would be glad to see the data. But you can't objectively prove it, so just admit it. It makes you sound more reasonable and less desperate, it seems to me.

I've got nothing to prove to you or anyone else. You?

Craig said...

"You DO recognize, don't you, that this is literally what I am doing?"

I realize that this is what you claim to be doing, although you can't prove it.

"I AM identifying the genre and proceeding from there. Genesis, by all literary and scientific evidence, appears to be written in a mythic style."


Do you realize what you just did there, you have used what "appears" to you, to be the case, as your underlying presumption without providing any evidence to support your presumption. Your argument is "It appears (to me) to be X, therefore it is X, therefore, because it appears to me to be X, it cannot be anything but X.". But you haven't laid a firm foundation for your underlying preconception, like with actual evidence. As a person with a tiny bit of experience building and repairing structures, I can say that if your foundation is not structurally adequate, then whatever goes on top of it is going to be messed up. It's the same principle here, without the evidence to support your foundational assumptions, anything built on those assumptions is going to be messed up.


"So, just like you recognize, easily, that "four winds" is metaphor - and you use your reasoning to sort that out and make that decision - so, too, I use my reasoning to recognize that Genesis is not literal history, but imagery, myth.How is it different?"

Because metaphor and imagery recognizable as such from a plain reading of the text. However, when you presume that Genesis is myth and exclude any other possibility, without evidence, you artificially limit that possibilities to what sounds right to you. "Four winds" can have numerous meanings from strictly literal to strictly metaphorical. Similarly, Genesis, could be written in a number of or a combination of literary styles. The problem is that literary style does not limit the potential for accuracy. You have decided (based on no evidence that you have ever provided) that Genesis must be by epic/myth simply because of how it seems to you when you read the text. So, you've bought into relativism, big deal.

"Is it fair to say that such a response would be based upon a naïve reading of that text? Would it be insulting to call it naïve, or is that a simple and accurate description, no harm intended?"

You may recall that Jesus extolled a "childlike" faith. In fact he commended such a faith. So, yeah, the terms "naive" and "adult" certainly give the appearance (and are in character) of being condescending and insulting. But, if that's grace in your world, more power to you.

Craig said...

"Certainly, I think one day you will be ashamed of your position on war, homosexuality and perhaps other topics and it will turn out that I was correct on the Truth of the underlying point."

Arrogant much?

" The way you respond, it often seems like you intellectually realize you can't factually disagree with me, but you don't want to say so out loud, so you beat around the bush and avoid direct answers."

Thanks for the psychoanalysis, are you going to bill me or is it pro bono? I've given you plenty of direct answers here and in other conversations. In this case I'm trying to get a handle on your specific positions. Until I do that, it seems like introducing my positions into the conversation will just muddy the water more than it already is. The fact that you keep trying to suggest that I must agree with what your opinion of my position is has become a bit of a hindrance as well.

"How about making it clear for me?"

Once I get a handle on your position, I'll be happy to answer some direct questions about my position, but until then I'd prefer to keep this as orderly as possible and not get sidetracked.








So, just like you recognize, easily, that "four winds" is metaphor - and you use your reasoning to sort that out and make that decision - so, too, I use my reasoning to recognize that Genesis is not literal history, but imagery, myth.

How is it different?

Craig said...

I'm going to take a chance here and do a bit of a break.

You continually use terms like "reality", "rational/irrational", "fact" etc. I think that you believe that you can objectively judge those things. But in reality, what you really mean is it is your perception of what is "real" or "rational" or "fact". It seems to me that this puts some pressure on you to demonstrate how well you perceive these types of things. So with your permission, I'd like to try an experiment.


As you know, during the period from roughly 2000-2008 we experienced a "housing bubble" and a significant economic downturn. Can you give me a rational explanation of what the real factual causes were for:
A) The housing bubble
B) The housing/mortgage crash
c) The role those things played in the larger financial downturn

I'm not looking for great detail, just a brief overview.

If this is out of bounds, then just delete it and move on.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Because metaphor and imagery recognizable as such from a plain reading of the text. However, when you presume that Genesis is myth and exclude any other possibility, without evidence, you artificially limit that possibilities to what sounds right to you. "Four winds" can have numerous meanings from strictly literal to strictly metaphorical. Similarly, Genesis, could be written in a number of or a combination of literary styles.

So, "four winds" is metaphor (to you) because it sounds like to you it is metaphor. And that's okay.

Genesis is myth (to me) because it reads like myth. Why is that not okay when I do exactly what you do?

You are using your reasoning and reading comprehension, your learning and understanding of literary genres and styles to reach a conclusion using your reasoning.

I am doing the same thing.

What is different?

Craig...

However, when you presume that Genesis is myth and exclude any other possibility, without evidence, you artificially limit that possibilities to what sounds right to you.

I presume nothing. You have to keep in mind, I come from a conservative background. I PRESUMED that it was literal history. That was my presumption. It was evidence that led me away from that false presumption.

What evidence leads you away from taking Genesis as myth?

The evidence I have is that the world is not 6,000 years old, was not created in six days, creation could not have transpired in the real world as described (short of a physics-busting/contrary to known laws of nature miracle). Where did the water come from in the flood? Where did it go? Water is a finite resource, it doesn't "grow" enough to cover the earth and "disappear" enough to shrink back.

COULD God have miraculously made that happen? Contrary to God's own natural law? Could he have magically made the earth appear older than it actually is??

Sure, a God could do anything.

Is that the most reasonable explanation? No, I don't think so at all.

I mean, God COULD have made the earth with four literal corners back B.C and only after Jesus did God round it off. But that's not a rational explanation. The more rational explanation is that "four corners" is just a metaphor.

The more rational explanation is that Genesis was told in a mythic style. No problem.

So, why is it okay for you to use your reasoning to reach your conclusion but not me? Where's the difference?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

"Certainly, I think one day you will be ashamed of your position on war, homosexuality and perhaps other topics and it will turn out that I was correct on the Truth of the underlying point."

Arrogant much?


?! You had just admonished me for supposedly holding a position that was lacking in confidence. You had just said...

it is possible to understand with an extremely high degree of confidence.

I am stating JUST what you had said I should be able to state: That I can hold my position with confidence. So, which is it? Should I hold my beliefs with "an extremely high degree of confidence..." or must I be timid in my beliefs, uncertain of anything?

Damned if I do and damned (by you, anyway) if I don't! Ha! Good times...

Dan Trabue said...

Not out of bounds, Craig. Just silly and a waste of time.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

The fact that you keep trying to suggest that I must agree with what your opinion of my position is has become a bit of a hindrance as well.

So, when I state that it SEEMS like you all are saying X, you blast me for not understanding your position and for painting your positions in an ugly manner. But when I assume that you all don't really believe the nutty stuff, that surely you agree with me, it's a hindrance.

Again, damned if I do and damned (by you) if I don't. Ya keep me smiling, you big lug!

If I am unsuccessfully guessing your position, you know, you can always make it easier by simply telling me your position. Eliminates the need for guessing, you know? But no, that's just what they'd be expecting!

Ha! Funnnn times. Seriously, you should see the smile on my face.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

"You DO recognize, don't you, that this is literally what I am doing?"

I realize that this is what you claim to be doing, although you can't prove it.


??

YOU are using your God-given reasoning, your education, your understanding of biblical text and context, your understanding of literary genres and styles, etc, etc... and, using your God-given reasoning, you personally reach a conclusion that "four winds" is metaphor.]

Do you suspect that I'm NOT using my God-given reasoning, my education and understanding to reach my conclusions? Whose reasoning and understanding then do you suspect I'm using??

What else CAN I use but my God-given reasoning and understanding, education, etc?

Don't be goofy, bud. Don't waste words stating things that are nonsense. The day's too short.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I suspect that you don't apply this test to other works of antiquity. I also suspect that you will insist that you do, which is unprovable.

It is absolutely provable and yes, I DO apply this test to other works of antiquity. Watch:

From the Epic of Gilgamesh...

I WILL proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh...

When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man."


Now, the text clearly says that Gilgamesh was literally 2/3 god and 1/3 man. That is what the text says and it's just a fact. But what of interpretation? Must we take it as literal, simply because it is part of a story told without any notes saying, "This is myth/epic/imagery"? No. I am consistent in that. I do NOT accept that line as a literal, factual history, simply because it is there.

I'm consistent.

Now here's the thing: Neither do YOU take this as literally factual history, even though it comes from the same general region and time as the OT stories. You no doubt (correct me if I'm mistaken) believe that you can simply dismiss this as "obvious" myth, given the writing style and time it came from.

Am I mistaken?

If so, on what basis, then, do you insist that you can somehow "know" as "objective fact" that the Genesis story (or Jonah, or Moses' story) represents literal history, told factually as a history? Or do you?

As for me, my God-given reasoning is consistent: Clearly, the text says "Jesus wept" indicating that, in the story, Jesus literally wept... BUT that we don't know/can't know with absolute certainty that it actually happened just as described or that it happened at all. We do not know this as a fact.

Similarly, with Gilgamesh, we do not know that it happened literally as it is described, but we can fairly safely assume that this is a more mythic type story told using imagery, not a literal history. We have no reason to think or demand that it literally happened as a matter of fact.

Reasoning should always, ideally, be relatively consistent like that, it seems to me.

Craig said...

"Genesis is myth (to me) because it reads like myth. Why is that not okay when I do exactly what you do?"

Because I'm not going to insist that "four winds" must absolutely mean X to the exclusion of all other possible meanings. Because I'm not going to refer to someone in a condescending way of they don't agree with me. Because, as long as you confine your opinion of Genesis to you, then who cares, it's when you start telling folks that it is irrational not to agree with your opinion. That is the difference, you are putting your personal opinion out in public as fact, with not evidence to support your claim.

"What evidence leads you away from taking Genesis as myth?"

The fact that there is ZERO evidence to support taking it as a myth to the exclusion of all other options. Because, it certainly appears that Jesus as well as various other NT folks took it as history. Because, I don't take the shallow approach of confusing literary style with accuracy, nor do I attempt to force the text into rigid categories.

"The evidence I have is that the world is not 6,000 years old, was not created in six days, creation could not have transpired in the real world as described (short of a physics-busting/contrary to known laws of nature miracle). Where did the water come from in the flood? Where did it go? Water is a finite resource, it doesn't "grow" enough to cover the earth and "disappear" enough to shrink back."

And there we have it. For you "scientific evidence" trumps everything. Who says God is constrained by what science can perceive? Why put God in a box? Who says that God can't transcend time and space? I get it, you want a god that fits within the limits that you are comfortable with. As, I've said elsewhere, the as far as I am concerned the most important words in Genesis are "God created", I don't need to understand the specific mechanism or time frame. It's interesting, but ultimately not that vital. Once you try to stuff "God created" in a box, then you're just placing arbitrary limits on God. So, again, if you want believe in a God who is constrained by His creation, feel free, just don't try to pretend like it's a forgone conclusion.

"Is that the most reasonable explanation? No, I don't think so at all."The more rational explanation is that Genesis was told in a mythic style. No problem."

The problem is that it all comes back to how qualified you are to make objective judgements on things like objective rationality and reasonableness. You are placing your opinions out there as the "most reasonable" and "more rational" options. Yet they are unsupported and not widely held. Do you really think your are more reasonable and rational that virtually every Biblical scholar in the last 2000 years.

"So, why is it okay for you to use your reasoning to reach your conclusion but not me? Where's the difference?"

The difference is still that I'm not going to be insulting and condescending about your conclusions.

"Not out of bounds, Craig. Just silly and a waste of time."

OK, just trying to get a handle on how well you can identify facts, and make rational judgements. I like the way that you delete my comment, but leave your snarky response without the context of the comment it is replying to.

Craig said...

"?! You had just admonished me for supposedly holding a position that was lacking in confidence. You had just said..."

No I didn't,

But hey I'm not the one who is saying that my opinion is going to be the actual real Truth, that's you.

You, just don't really do humility much, do you.

"If I am unsuccessfully guessing your position, you know, you can always make it easier by simply telling me your position. Eliminates the need for guessing, you know? But no, that's just what they'd be expecting!"

Given my multiple explanations of this, it seems strange that you would ignore what I have actually said, in favor of trying to goad me into doing something that I have already explained that I am not going to do here and now. It certainly raises questions about your ability to comprehend simple English and doesn't give me confidence in your ability to accurately decipher other things.

With that, and in the absence of any support for your positions, I'll be moving on for a while. Your blog comment page has run afoul of my work IT and so I cannot comment while I am at work, and the next two I'll be working until at least 10PM so my ability to comment will be limited.

If you have anything else, great, if not...

Craig said...

"Am I mistaken?"

Yes, you are applying a simplistic and unsupported arbitrary standard that you can't demonstrate is objectively correct. Your standard is essentially; "Every single written work that originates from the same time period must always be judged as the exact same literary style as all other works from that time period." Great, you claim to be consistent in applying your arbitrary standard, but simply making a claim on a blog is not by any stretch of the imagination proof. So, again, provide evidence that your foundational supposition is correct before you use that supposition as a basis to make additional pronouncements.

"Reasoning should always, ideally, be relatively consistent like that, it seems to me."

Of course, consistency without an evidential foundation is nothing. You haven't laid the foundation.

I do find it interesting that you don't seem to understand what's going on here. You wrote a post that boils down to "Stan's wrong and I'm right" (Or at least more right than Stan. As a result of your post, I had some questions about what you meant, I asked them. I have said repeatedly that in the interest of keeping things in order that I would defer taking a position or making assertions until I felt like I understood your position. My hope was that by understanding where you were coming from I could avoid any areas where we might agree and focus on areas where we might disagree. Instead, you choose condescension and attempts to get me to rush into something which I said I will do later.

So, I'll keep an eye on this and see if there is any sort of forward movement.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Your standard is essentially; "Every single written work that originates from the same time period must always be judged as the exact same literary style

No, you still misunderstand.

My point is that there is no data - zero data, no evidence, nothing, not a shred of hard objective support - that suggests that stories from prior to ~500 BC were written/passed on in the modern style of history telling. There is no data to support it. If you have data to support it, pass it on. You never have and never will because it does not exist.

I'm not making a claim, I'm pointing to reality. If I've misunderstood reality and such stories exist prior to that, all you have to do is point to the story and support the claim and you can demonstrate my mistake and I will be grateful.

But you won't because you can't.

And there is no shame in admitting that. Just don't get all pushy as if I'm somehow not being clear.

My point in this post were simple and clear:

1. We hold some opinions on topics that are not demonstrably provable.

2. On THOSE topics, our opinions ARE our opinions, not facts, not God's Word.

Do you agree with this or disagree? Who knows! You won't clearly say.

Beyond that, you all seem to want to avoid coming out and being clear and yet still hold to the insinuation that on some topics, your opinions are facts ("Yes, I DO know objectively and provably that Jesus actually rose from the dead... but I'm not going to say how or provide any support for the claim... but it IS a fact and the fact can be proven... but I'm not going to say how..."

So you can deal with it or not. I don't know how to be more clear than I've been.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Given my multiple explanations of this, it seems strange that you would ignore what I have actually said, in favor of trying to goad me into doing something that I have already explained that I am not going to do here and now. It certainly raises questions about your ability to comprehend simple English

Hey, you said I don't understand your collective positions when I have said, "They appear to think X..."

So, you can fix that by explaining what you DO think about X.

And when I say, "but X is irrational and so, surely they don't believe X, right Craig?..." you say I'm wrong.

So, you can fix that by saying what you DO think about X.

What you can't rationally do is simultaneously complain that I think you all might think X, and complain when I say, but you can't REALLY think X and then refuse to say what you think about X. That's just passive aggressive and irrational.

If you don't want to explain what you think about X, I don't care. But if I say, "Man, it sure seems like they're saying X..." and I ask for clarification, you just don't have any room to complain.

Damned by you if I do, Damned by you if I don't, and Damned by you for asking for clarification. You just appear to be coming from a very negative, damning, pissy place, man. I'm sorry for you, if that's the case, but please don't take it out on innocent bystanders.

It has nothing to do with my comprehension, Craig, and everything to do with your irrational damning and dodging.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Because I'm not going to insist that "four winds" must absolutely mean X to the exclusion of all other possible meanings. Because I'm not going to refer to someone in a condescending way of they don't agree with me.

So, you think there's a chance that "four corners" MIGHT mean the earth is actually square? Or that it once was, but since Jesus, God rounded off the earth? I don't think you do.

Look, I don't have a problem with the person who prefers to think the Earth is square or that it's 6,000 years old. Good for them. Believe it all day long, I have plenty of room in my house for disagreement.

I'm just saying "Bob" shouldn't get all pissy if people disagree with him and that Bob shouldn't question others' love of the Bible if they merely dare to disagree with Bob's human interpretation, or that they point out that Bob's human interpretation IS Bob's human interpretation.

Craig said...

Had a break, so.

1. Asking questions and pointing out flaws in your position is not the same thing as taking a contrary position. You seem confused by this. Your confusion seems to be manifested in you trying to ascribe to me positions that I don't necessarily hold, or trying to childishly goad me into taking a position, when I have given you clear and reasonable explanations why this is neither the time nor place for that.

2. You still haven't over come the underlying flaw that your entire screed is built on. You have not, nor (I believe) can you find any semi reasonable-semi mainstream person who actually holds the position you are arguing against. If you had evidence of someone actually claiming that they speak for God and that their opinions stand at that same level as scripture, you would have provided it. Unfortunately I've seen no quotes or links to quotes that support your contention.

Dan Trabue said...

I've been quite clear, Craig, I don't know what Stan's position is (or the position of other people, like you, who sometimes seem to make these claims) because he/you/they will never directly answer questions.

HOW can I know unless you all answer questions.

What I DO know is that Stan said, and I quote...

"It sounds intelligent and holy. "Don't conflate your opinion into God's Word." But when it is used to say, "All understanding of Scripture is opinion"--and, make no mistake, when you boil it down that is the intent...

That SOUNDS like he's saying that noting that the very rational and humble statement (and he will even admit that it sounds that way) that our opinions about unprovable points ARE our opinions, not proven facts is mistaken. Presumably, then, Stan believes that his opinions about unprovable matters are NOT opinions but facts or equal to God's Word. But I don't know because he will not clarify. Likewise with you, I do not know because YOU will not clarify.

How can anyone know what you all think if you won't answer simple, direct, clarifying questions?

And, not only does Stan appear to disagree that our opinions about unprovable matters are our opinions, not facts, he thinks humbly and rationally admitting this reality is not only a mistake, but an ASSSAULT on the Gospel. Again, Stan's words...

-then it is nothing less than an assault on the integrity and authority of Scripture. Just like the skeptics or the liberals. Perhaps worse because it almost sounds like a call for a greater respect for the Bible. Which it isn't. Deflating God's Word to mere opinion is not a defense of the Bible."

So, I don't know how to ascertain and determine your direct and clear opinions on the topic other than asking. Thus far, both you and Stan have declined to simply answer and instead, gone on the attack for me merely pointing out how it sounds and asking the question.

Do you not see the irrationality of that behavior? Not to mention the lack of grace and humility?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Asking questions and pointing out flaws in your position is not the same thing as taking a contrary position. You seem confused by this.

Indeed, it's not. I have no problem with questions. You can tell that by the way I've answered every one of your questions here. My problem is when people complain that "He doesn't understand my/our/their position!" and at the same time say, "But, I'm not going to clarify it for him..."

So, there is no confusion on my part, other than why you would complain about being misunderstood and then refuse to answer clarifying questions.

Do you see how that IS confusing and it's confusing precisely because it's irrational? People are rightly confused by irrational behavior, precisely because it does not make sense.

Dan Trabue said...

Oh, and you have yet to point to a single rationally sound "flaw" with any of my positions... other than the potential "you have misunderstood others" but that isn't a rational flaw since I allow that I may be misunderstanding others' positions and noting that they are free to clarify.

Now refusing to clarify your position, THAT is a flaw, but it's not with my positions.

Craig said...

"Oh, and you have yet to point to a single rationally sound "flaw" with any of my positions..."

Other than the flaws in the assumptions that underlie your entire screed.

Unless you can prove that this phenomena about which you get so worked up actually exists (You know with quotes and links and hard data), then all you've done is demonstrate exactly what you've been complaining about.

To be fair, you have answered many of the questions I've asked. By no means all, but many. In fact, more than you usually do. For that I think you.

Craig said...

Dan,

I know you keep asking me to state what I believe on this issue. I've explained why I have been unwilling to. But it ultimately I stand with the primary view of Orthodox Christianity over the past couple of centuries. There are plenty of places where you can get information about that view, from people who can articulate it much better than I.

FYI, this post covers a lot of the same territory and might be a good place to start. I'm sure the blogger would appreciate any input you might have for him.

https://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/liberals-kjv-onlyists-and-inerrancy/

Craig said...

I have to admit, that I'm shocked and impressed that you actually went to the link and commented. I'll be interested to see what happens.

Craig said...

"This book had to be written by one of three people: good men, bad men or God. It couldn’t have been written by good men because they said it was inspired by the revelation of God. Good men don’t lie and deceive. It couldn’t have been written by bad men because bad men would not write something that would condemn themselves. It leaves only one conclusion. It was given by divine inspiration of God."

John Wesley

I suspect, you would posit some fourth category. But, it seems, Wesley has a valid point.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, I would posit another theory.

As to your source, well, we shall see if he deems my questions worthy of response or if it will be another conservative not willing to engage in respectful conversation. He seems to be willing and up for it, but we shall see.


Mostly, he is arguing against arguments I'm not making, albeit making some of the mistaken (in my view) rational mistakes of, for instance, circular arguments or question begging.

I hope he is up for answering some questions that point to what appears to me, at least, to be rational holes in his arguments.

Craig said...

Dan,

First, he is not "my source" he is a blogger who is addressing some of the issues you seem to have problems with. He is doing so articulately as well and has provided a number of sources that give support to his position. I am quite sure that in the interim, while he is engaged elsewhere, you will be examining the sources he has provided and familiarizing yourself with his position.

Second, I realize that the specific post I linked is not specifically an exact analogue with your opinion. Unfortunately, your opinion is so unique to you, that the likelihood of anyone specifically addressing your position is infinitesimal. Therefore, it seemed reasonable that someone addressing the broader issues of Biblical reliability would be in a position to, at a minimum, provide some general guidelines that would apply to your position.

It will be interesting to see what he provides you as evidence, as well as the evidence you will provide to refute his mistakes. I eagerly await whatever dialogue happens.

While you are waiting, would it be possible for you to address a question?

When we look at the vast preponderance of Christian scholarship over the past 2000+ years, taking into consideration the intellect and education of the various people involved, can you provide any sort of reason why anyone would accept your opinion on any of these issues over the folks with whom you disagree?

I say this realizing that Truth isn't determined by number of supporters, but instead wondering if you realize the unlikelihood of (literally) one guy coming up with the rational hunch that proves history wrong.

Craig said...

"Yes, I would posit another theory."

But keep it a well guarded secret.

Dan Trabue said...

Are you not aware of my position that I need to repeat it again?

This book had to be written by one of three people: good men, bad men or God. It couldn’t have been written by good men because they said it was inspired by the revelation of God. Good men don’t lie and deceive.

it's begging the question. Good men wouldn't write to deceive, but is writing something in a genre other than modern history an indication of deceit? No, of course not. Good men COULD have written it in a time when stories were passed down differently than we pass them on now with no indication of deceit. Just as ancient people didn't write stories down in English because it wasn't thir language, we have no reason to believe that they'd pass down stories in a modern historic or scientific manner, because it wasn't their genre.

That is a fourth option and a reasonable one. I'm sure you must agree (but tell me, if you'd like to be clear) that telling a story in an allegorical sense or using imagery is NOT an indication of deceit. So, why is that not reasonable? We don't know because no one on your side (that I have seen) will address the question.

DT

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

First, he is not "my source" he is a blogger who is addressing some of the issues you seem to have problems with.

Craig, just because you disagree with me on some things, there is no reason to automatically disagree with me on everything. This fella is a source that YOU referred me to. He is "your source" in this conversation. Yes, I suppose I could have said, "the source to which you referred me to..." but "your source" is appropriate and much easier. Relax, brudda.

Craig...

It will be interesting to see what he provides you as evidence, as well as the evidence you will provide to refute his mistakes. I eagerly await whatever dialogue happens.

If I had to guess, I would guess he will offer no evidence at all. First of all, because none of you ever have offered any evidence. Secondly, because I'm just offering a rational observation(s).

The Bible does not, as a point of fact, refer to "the Bible." There is no evidence to contradict that fact, it's just a fact.

The Bible does not, as a point of fact, refer to its own "authority." That, too, is a human construct. One could debate whether it is a reasonable human opinion or not and that's fine, but as a point of fact, I've just offered a simple fact.

Like that. I just don't see what there is to possibly dispute, as I've just offered demonstrable facts. But hopefully, this fella will be willing to discuss the topic. We shall see.

Craig...

can you provide any sort of reason why anyone would accept your opinion on any of these issues over the folks with whom you disagree?

I am not at all sure that you are correctly citing "all of Christian history." Since, as noted, I'm simply stating observable facts, I can't imagine anyone actually disagree with the facts that I have laid out. Now, once we have established these are, in deed, facts (ie, once someone agrees to reality), then we can discuss theories about implications of these facts, but I rarely have gotten that far in modern discussions because modern conservatives seem unwilling to even enter into the discussion with the facts laid out up front. I'm relatively confident our ancient ancestors would do a better job. But who knows?

Marshall Art said...

Without quoting anything in particular that has been stated above, I wish to add my four cents (inflation being what it is).

Comparing a metaphorical phrase (like "four corners of the earth") to an entire book (like Genesis) is more than a little foul play. The phrase does not mitigate the message in which it appears, while writing off an entire book as "myth" totally detracts from the reliability of both the author and the facts he is trying to address. Since the example of the point being discussed is the Creation story, there is nothing that can be put forth as proof that it didn't happen just as written, in as simple a manner and in as short a time frame.

Dan, as do so many regardless of their belief level, dismisses the Creation story on the basis of having what they claim is evidence of science (although here he only asserts the age of the earth, for example, and employs the assertion as evidence). But nothing that science indicates as regards the age of the all things can be proven, since there is no way to go back in time first hand to check the data for accuracy. So a faith in the tools and techniques of imperfect man must be greater than any faith in God in order to dismiss the Creation story of Genesis.

Now, I have no problem with anyone who wishes to speculate as to the manner in which Creation is recorded is Scripture. Does a "day" mean a 24 hr period as it does today, or does it mean a far greater period of time? Such debate is great fun, but no conclusion can be put forth as fact. But neither can any conclusion from scientific study. There is simply no way to confirm one and dismiss the other.

Some, like Dan has done here, choose to accuse others of suggesting that God chose to create the earth to look old to our scientists...to fool them or test our faith perhaps. But another explanation is simply that our scientific methods are not suited for the task regardless of how much scientists and their sycophants would like to believe. Those methods cannot help but conclude what they conclude, but that doesn't mean the conclusions are correct or accurate. It's just what the method thinks it is seeing. What's more, science cannot account for the miraculous. So while God might have created all things just as the Creation story implies, science may be, and likely is, incapable of truly and accurately confirming or denying it.

Thus, one truly cannot say that science tells us the Creation story is wrong or not recording the event accurately. It is just that too many fear being considered unsophisticated or neanderthal to admit they believe God created all things in six days and that the age of the earth is nowhere near as old as the intelligentsia insists it has to be in order to feel "intelligential" (I made that word up).

Marshall Art said...

Then of course there is the problem of defaulting to "that's your opinion" in order to maintain a false belief as equally likely as the proper belief that an honest study of Scripture can only produce.

There is no way to use Scripture to justify a belief that same-sex marriage could possibly be condoned, encouraged or blessed by God. It is not an opinion to say otherwise, but a willful heresy based on a complete fabrication and distortion of words and verses and teachings from Scripture. Certainly Dan has never done so (and in time I will again return to a previous post of his to further prove this point).

So what we actually have here is the excuse of differing opinions (agree to disagree nonsense) providing loopholes to believe what one wants to believe rather than what is actually being taught.

I say all this not to begin another discussion of homosexuality, but to deal with the issue of what we can know with certainty about what Scripture teaches. By Dan's standards, there is very little we can know or prove about ANYTHING in history beyond some vague notion that something happened during a given period. And there is no one we can trust to provide us with firsthand knowledge or that we can trust to have been given accurate knowledge of an event or discussion or a speech...we just would be fools to pretend that anything so detailed can be taken as having actually happened. Did Jesus actually weep? No way to tell and if there is no way to tell, how can we be certain of any teaching of His? No one, apparently, was trustworthy during the time of the Bible at any time. We can take no assurance anywhere.

But we can make shit up. We can pretend that one passage means whatever we need it to mean, regardless of what it says or what the author intended (for surely we can't just read it and know what he intended to convey...just ain't possible). It's all just opinion. At least that's Dan's opinion and his opinion is more plausible because...it just is. But we all know what they say about opinions.

Marshall Art said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshall Art said...

Few of us who take the time to comment on these here blogs have a problem understanding the distinction between opinion and fact. For some of us, facts are used to support our opinions. That is how we know there is no supporting homosexual behavior in any context for a Christian. What facts are available roundly and decidedly prohibit any engagement in the behavior. This is a fact. And while Scripture might imply that marriage is a good thing, there is nothing in Scripture that suggests marriage is ever defined as merely the union of any two (or more) people, but the union of man and woman. This, too, is a fact.

Once again, I am not looking to debate homosexuality, but this issue illustrates the difference between fact and opinion as well as the difference between the way someone like myself understands the two versus how Dan does. And the facts are such that I can say with great certainty what God's position is to an extent that far surpasses mere opinion. Am I able to be so certain of every issue? Never said I could be. But where I make such a claim, I can support it with fact and in doing so demonstrate how the opposing position is total crap. What remains is concession or stubbornness borne of being of the world. From Dan we get the latter presented as a difference of opinion and an agreement to disagree.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, did you have any questions or are you here to just vent your unsupported and unproven/unprovable opinions? If the latter, well, okay, you are welcome to your opinions. I disagree.

Dan Trabue said...

And, as a point of fact, your opinions about what God may or may not think about gay folk getting married ARE, as a matter of fact, opinion, NOT a known fact.

Additionally, it is a silly opinion, in my opinion and an immoral one to force upon others, but it is certainly an opinion that you can keep for yourself if you wish. Just don't call it a fact, or you will have factually demonstrated that you do not, in fact, understand the difference between your opinion and facts.

Marshall Art said...

Once again, Dan, I have no problem putting forth as fact what you so desperately need to believe is an opinion based on actual evidence from Scripture. The evidence is so compelling and overwhelming that to pretend there is any possibility that God would approve, bless, condone, tolerate or look the other way on with regards to SSM is not an opinion at all, but mere delusion. It is delusion of a conscious type, a willful self-deception. Here's more fact for you: what you attempt to put forth as evidence for your delusion is plain fabrication. It is distortion of the clear meaning of easily understood words and the sentences they form to put forth a message. That God disapproves of SSM is without doubt and incontrovertible.

Here's even more fact: what you choose to regard as opinion is fact that conflicts with what you'd prefer was true. You assign the word to your own beliefs because you couldn't possibly justify holding those beliefs by virtue of Scriptural support. Ambiguity is your friend and concrete, no-doubt reality a mortal enemy. You need ambiguity in order to rationalize holding your woefully unScriptural beliefs.

No doubt you will write off this comment as opinion, because you need it to be.

Dan Trabue said...

I will write it off as opinion because that is, in fact, what it is, Marshall. You have offered zero hard data to support any fact claims. You repeatedly point to, "I, MARSHALL, think that when the bible says X, it means God thinks 1, 2 and 3..." and that is a fine opinion, but it is, by definition, an opinion.

There is nothing wrong with holding opinions, Marshall. The only error is in trying to pass off your human opinions as being equivalent to fact or, worse, "God's Word..."

But we've said all this before, eh? So, short of any hard data from you, have a nice day and enjoy your opinions.

Dan Trabue said...

Look, Marshall, let me demonstrate what I'm speaking about:

1. If I say, "Genesis 1:1 in the KJV says 'in the beginnings, God created the heavens and the earth...' and that is a demonstrable fact." I can open up a KJV Bible and point to Gen 1:1 and demonstrate that the fact is, in fact, a fact, not an opinion.

2. IF, on the other hand, I say, "Taken all together with the rest of the Bible, Genesis 1 and 2 describe how literally and scientifically, God created the heavens and the earth. It happened in six literal days because that is what the text says..." THAT is an opinion. I would have no hard data to support that claim. I can't get the author(s) to verify their intent, I can't get God to vouch for my opinion and there is no hard data to support a six day creation theory. It is the very definition of an unsupported and unsupportable opinion.

3. If I continue, "We know it is a fact, because God gave us the Bible and God intended us to take Genesis literally," that STILL remains an unsupported and unsupportable opinion, not a fact.

4. To demonstrate that this is how God wants us to understand Genesis, someone would have to get God to validate it. Facts need to be verifiable to affirm as facts.

Craig said...

"That is a fourth option and a reasonable one."

I'll grant you, it's an opinion. Unsupported by evidence, ignoring Wesley's third option, and reasonable to you. But still an opinion.

Craig said...

"...there is no reason to automatically disagree with me on everything."

Of course I don't disagree with you on everything. In this case I was fairly explicit, about this being one person addressing some of the root issues about which we disagree. If you look at what I actually said (February 26, 2015 at 3:29 PM), I was pretty clear about that.

Having clarified what I actually said, if it makes you feel better to refer to this a "my source" feel free.

"If I had to guess, I would guess he will offer no evidence at all. First of all, because none of you ever have offered any evidence."

1. As written this statement is a flat out lie. You may not have gotten the evidence that satisfies your particular taste, but to make the blanket that "none of you ever offered any evidence", is just not true.

2. I'm glad that your penchant for prejudging people based on a lack of information is still intact. Your propensity to make judgements about what individuals might or might not do or say based on how you perceive them as part of some "group" is staggeringly shallow and irrational.

3. I'm glad to see you entering the discussion with an open mind. It's clear, that you are prepared to listen to what people offer with an open mind and rationally apply reason to it without resorting to prejudice i or presumption.

4. I'm sure this means that you are perusing the sources he cites and preparing some devastating fact based rebuttal for him.


"Secondly, because I'm just offering a rational observation(s)."

You mean, rational to you. Are you suggesting that rational is an objective standard? Would you equate rationality with wisdom?

"...as I've just offered demonstrable facts."

Facts that demonstrate nothing. the fact that the Bible doesn't use specific terms or words doesn't prove that the concepts underlying those terms or words are non existent in the text. I hope you have more game than simply arguing semantics.

"I am not at all sure that you are correctly citing "all of Christian history."

Unfortunately, I am sure that you are factually NOT correctly citing my actual words (You know the ones you put in quotes, that I didn't actually say). So, if you are unable to stop yourself from (intentionally?) mis-quoting me, how and why should I believe that you are able to accurately represent any position. Perhaps if you spent the time responding to what I actually said, rather than making things up, it would be helpful.

"Now, once we have established these are, in deed, facts..."

I'm sure you meant something like , when I actually establish my opinions as facts, or words to that effect.

As I mentioned earlier, you are simply offering an opinion about semantics, not content. We have offered numerous instances where Jesus appears to take the OT stories at face value as accurate representations of previous events, yet you haven't offered any proof (beyond stories about how you and your friends might reference something without believing it is true. Amusing anecdotes, but hardly fact based evidence) that it is necessary to assign some other arbitrary meaning to the text.

Again, I'd hope for more than semantics and word choice as proof, I suspect it will not be forthcoming.

Interesting, that this all seems to come back to what you think is "rational", "reasonable", or represents "reality", but when I tried to do a bit of an experiment to gain some perspective on your ability to accurately asses those things you deleted it.

Craig said...

MA,

Good point. To suggest that science can do anything beyond speculate on the appearance of the age of the earth, is to give "Science" an explanatory power beyond it's scope. Simply, one cannot use the scientific method to determine the origins of anything. The best that can be done is to try to apply what is observable now to what is unobservable from thousands or millions or billions of years ago. It can't be done and to assert that "Science" has definitive answers about origins is simply wrong.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

As written this statement is a flat out lie. You may not have gotten the evidence that satisfies your particular taste, but to make the blanket that "none of you ever offered any evidence", is just not true.

Craig, I don't know how to say this any clearer: I am just stating observable facts, there is nothing really to disagree with and as a point of fact, no one has offered anything to dispute the facts I've pointed to.

Look, let's take this one step at a time.

I stated the reality that the Bible does not talk about the Bible. That is just a fact. It isn't semantics, it's a fact. "The Bible" in this context refers to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.

The Bible does not talk about "the Bible." It does not talk about "the 66" "the protestant canon" or ANY other words or in any other manner make one single reference to itself. As a point of fact.

Do you actually disagree with that? If so, present some evidence where the Bible refers to - in ANY terms whatsover - the 66 books of the Bible.

You could totally dismantle my point and clarify that I am in fact very mistaken IF you could do that. You can't. It doesn't exist in the real world.

But by all means, provide data to support that I'm not pointing to a fact.

Or admit that, "Yes, Dan, on THAT one, you are speaking the facts..." and we can move on to the next point.

This doesn't have to be this difficult, friends.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I'll grant you, it's an opinion. Unsupported by evidence, ignoring Wesley's third option, and reasonable to you. But still an opinion.

Yes, Craig, it is an unprovable opinion. As were the other three. Do you disagree? Or do you think that the other three are proven and "fact..."? If so, feel free to support it with data.

Or agree with me that they are all four unproven and unprovable opinions. But abandon the silly belligerence, it's just tedious.

Craig said...

Dan,

It is my intention to stay out of whatever level of conversation you have over at the other blog. I sincerely want to see how it develops between you and someone who does not have the lengthy track record that you and I have. I do not want to interfere over there at all. So I hope that you understand that I may point out things from that conversation in other places.

Such as this.

"I do not, in any sense, dismiss the bible,..."

I would suggest that you don't dismiss the Bible as a whole (based on your understandings), however, it think that it is safe to conclude that you dismiss parts of the Bible. At least in the sense that you have in the past suggested that parts of the OT are "revenge fantasies". Perhaps this is nit licking, but it seems as though assigning something to the category of "revenge fantasy" without any evidence pretty effectively dismisses any possible value in the passage.


"...only insist on striving to not make it into something it (and more importantly, God) does not make it."

Could you please expand on what "God" "intends to make the Bible? It seems as though that is a pretty bold claim of fact, and that as such it seems reasonable to expect some more detail.

Craig said...

Yes, Dan. The fact that I can admit that the Bible does not use the term "the Bible", nor does it use the therm "66 books or the Protestant Canon". Does not in any way militate against my larger point. Jesus clearly refers to "The Scriptures", which in that day was defined as what we now call the OT. So, it seems like the conclusion that in Jesus time that there was a collection of literature that was sacred is a safe bet. We can further make some reasonable conclusions about the NT ( I simply can't believe you don't understand how the Canon came into being), if one reads the words of the authors, it is fairly understandable that they believed that they were writing something intended for a wider audience. Further, the NT writers speak of the work of other NT writers as scripture, on the same level as the accepted Jewish scripture. Further, the establishment of the Canon and the reasons for it are clear and reasonable. I see no reason to expound on what is readily available information, and certainly hope that you would avail yourself of all of the sources for said information.

So, while you have managed to construct a scenario that allows you a comfortable place to sit. I'm not sure that you simplistic scenario actually takes into account all of the factors involved.

I must note, that you still have ignored Wesley's third option. Why is that? Do you really believe that God was unwilling or unable to superintend the writers into communicating factually the information that He wanted communicated?

As my previous comment points out, since you seem to be speaking for God, maybe you could shed some light.

Dan Trabue said...

I would suggest that you don't dismiss the Bible as a whole (based on your understandings), however, it think that it is safe to conclude that you dismiss parts of the Bible. At least in the sense that you have in the past suggested that parts of the OT are "revenge fantasies". Perhaps this is nit licking, but it seems as though assigning something to the category of "revenge fantasy" without any evidence pretty effectively dismisses any possible value in the passage.

In Psalms, the psalmists will frequently utter vengeance prayers. "Oh, that you would bash the enemy's babes' heads against the rocks..." like that. That speaks powerfully of the pain of an oppressed people. Now, just because neither you (presumably) nor I think it is godly to wish that babies' heads would be bashed, does not mean we dismiss the passage, does it?

Please answer. When you've answered, if you agree with me that not holding up those passages as being the epitome of godliness is NOT the same as dismissing it, then please have the integrity to admit it and withdraw this complaint.

No, as a point of fact, I do not "dismiss" parts of the Bible. I interpret them differently than you do, perhaps, but disagreeing with Craig is not the same as dismissing the Bible.

Do you understand? I don't ask that in a belittling way, I genuinely want to know if you understand the error in your suggestion.

Craig...

Could you please expand on what "God" "intends to make the Bible? It seems as though that is a pretty bold claim of fact, and that as such it seems reasonable to expect some more detail.

I can offer all manner of personal opinions on the topic, just as you might. The difference APPEARS to be is that I do not conflate my opinions with God's will. ARE your opinions about how God might want us to interpret the Bible your opinions or are they points of fact?

Please clarify.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

The fact that I can admit that the Bible does not use the term "the Bible", nor does it use the therm "66 books or the Protestant Canon". Does not in any way militate against my larger point.

By all means, make your "larger point." My point began with that very exact conceit, one that you appear to agree with. So then, it is NOT a "flat out lie" at least so far as this fact claim that I made and the "flat out lie" is a mistake, at least as far as this particular claim that I made. Is that correct?

So, what is your "larger point..."? You appear to go on to say...

Jesus clearly refers to "The Scriptures", which in that day was defined as what we now call the OT.

I do not disagree with that, nor have I claimed that to not be the case.

So, it seems like the conclusion that in Jesus time that there was a collection of literature that was sacred is a safe bet.

Here, you begin to move into human opinion. The Bible does not make the claim that Jesus or anyone else considered the OT texts "sacred," depending on what definition you assign to that, but still, I have offered no opinions on this, so no "lies" thus far.

We can further make some reasonable conclusions about the NT ( I simply can't believe you don't understand how the Canon came into being), if one reads the words of the authors, it is fairly understandable that they believed that they were writing something intended for a wider audience.

Yes, Luke specifically speaks of making a record of Jesus' story, presumably for others. And Paul's letters to various places were specifically to those places, so yes, in that sense at least some of these books appear to have been written to some others. Nothing that I have claimed contrariwise...

Dan Trabue said...

Further, the NT writers speak of the work of other NT writers as scripture, on the same level as the accepted Jewish scripture.

Presumably you are speaking of Peter's words here...

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

But we must not get ahead of ourselves or beg any questions... which letters of "Paul's"? There were many correspondences in the early church... Did Paul ONLY write the 13 attributed to him in the Protestant Bible? Did he write others that went missing? Are the ones attributed to him actually his, the ones spoken of here? Where is the proof for any of this? Was Peter speaking authoritatively here in referencing Paul's letters as like Scripture? Was he making a vague generalization? Where is the proof for any of this?

I get where the traditional opinions come from, but that there are these opinions is not the same as saying they are facts. Where is the data to support these facts and this specific understanding/insight to the authors' intent?

Who speaks of Peter's, John's or James' letters as scripture? Should they not be included?

Questions remain unanswered and we can't just assume that "because tradition has it" equals fact.

I see no reason to expound on what is readily available information, and certainly hope that you would avail yourself of all of the sources for said information.

Ah, but YOU made a claim (as yet unsupported) that I have lied. You are dealing with ideas that I have not spoken to as of yet.

My FIRST point I made clearly and you have agreed with, so there's no lie there, and it is indeed a verifiable fact.

My second point, then, was a simple question, not a claim...

2. To what texts are your appeals of “authenticity” since Jesus never used that term?

My only claim is that Jesus did not use the term "authenticity," which is a fact. Where am I mistaken in pointing out that reality? Is there some objectively factual place where Jesus speaks of the 39 books of the OT as "authentic," either in that term or others? What is the point being made in those places?

Again, no real claim here except for a matter of fact. Do you dispute my fact or do you agree with me?

I went on to ask/state...

3. Would you agree that one can cite a source without saying, “and by citing that source, I mean to say that I think it is a literally historic document – or not? Or that it is intended to be interpreted a certain way?”

And, as a point of fact, people can and DO cite sources without inferring that they are insisting upon a literally factual take on that story/source.

So, again, each of my facts made on this point are verifiable. What specifically is it you dispute, if not my actual facts that I pointed to?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I must note, that you still have ignored Wesley's third option. Why is that?

I have made it clear that I do believe, as a matter of opinion and faith, that God inspired the human writers of the Bible. The problem with Wesley's quote...

It leaves only one conclusion. It was given by divine inspiration of God."

Is that factually speaking, it is NOT the only other option. I gave another option and you appear to agree that it is a legitimate option. So, as a point of fact, rationally speaking, Wesley was mistaken (if he was actually making this claim and not just making a vague general assertion, not really intending to sort out all possible options - I do not know Wesley's intent and can't ask him).

Do you agree with THAT reality, that there are, in fact, other options? I pointed out another option because you were appearing to suggest that Wesley was right, there are only three options. Now, you and I appear to agree that he was mistaken, but you tell me.

Do you really believe that God was unwilling or unable to superintend the writers into communicating factually the information that He wanted communicated?

I have no evidence to make a claim as to what God did or didn't want to communicate or that God WAS trying to "communicate" something. Saying that something is "inspired" is not necessarily the same thing as saying "inspired to communicate a factual idea."

As a point of fact. Again, I'm just stating demonstrably factual points. Are you disagreeing with any rational fact claims I have actually made? If so, which ones specifically and where are your counter facts?

I am always able to be swayed by actual facts. Opinions, too, if they are well thought out. But simple vague claims that "You are mistaken! You're lying!" are not that impressive. I'm sure you can appreciate this.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Are you suggesting that rational is an objective standard?

Nope. Unfortunately.

Would you equate rationality with wisdom?

Possibly. Being rational is, I believe, a good starting point towards the road to wisdom. Insisting that one is right because one's tradition has always held a view is a bit more shaky starting point, although tradition certainly has its place.

I will, as a rule, gladly take a rational person over a zealot, in terms of wisdom, any day.

Craig said...

"When you've answered, if you agree with me that not holding up those passages as being the epitome of godliness is NOT the same as dismissing it, then please have the integrity to admit it and withdraw this complaint."

First, I've never suggested that the psalms you reference are the epitome of Godliness. The problem is that when you suggest that some sections of the OT are "revenge fantasies", allows you to dismiss them as having any relevance.

Second, to make your point, you must pull these please out of context. If, in fact, Israel was being persecuted then it seems reasonable that they would cry out to their God for deliverance. I can't imagine that as a problem, no matter what form it takes. Also, for your claim to make sense it must ignore how God responded to the prayers that offend you so.


So, I have no idea how this becomes an integrity issue. You have made a claim of fact (that some OT scriptures are "revenge fantasies), you have not proven that claim. You have in fact used this "revenge fantasy" category as a way to minimize or dismiss passages that disturb you.

So, when you say this,

"...only insist on striving to not make it into something it (and more importantly, God) does not make it."

So, what you are saying that you really have no idea what God wants to make (or not make) of the Bible. Despite your very own words which seem to suggest that you know (or at least can know) what "God does not make it." It seems as though you are suggesting that God does have a vision in mind for what the Bible should be, but that seems at odds with your position. Clarification?

"The Bible does not make the claim that Jesus or anyone else considered the OT texts "sacred,"..."

Interesting, so when Jesus referred to the Hebrew scriptures He didn't consider them sacred or authoritative. You constantly use the example of Jesus reading from Isaiah as "proof" that the "good news" was primarily/exclusively about righting social wrongs, yet you are now arguing that Jesus didn't consider the prophecy that (you claim) He was fulfilling to be either sacred or authoritative. OK, I guess that makes sense to you.

"Questions remain unanswered and we can't just assume that "because tradition has it" equals fact."

Good, because no one is doing that. Of course, the problem is that "because it seems so to me" or "the questions haven't been answered to my satisfaction" doesn't really get you anywhere either. Which raises the question, what questions remain unanswered? What research have you done to determine that these questions are actually unanswered? Do you understand that there is a difference between "unanswered" and "Dan is unaware of the answer"? Can you clarify which of those two you are actually saying.

"Ah, but YOU made a claim (as yet unsupported) that I have lied."

The closest I can find n a quick perusal is where I point out that you attributed a quote to me that I demonstrably did not say. If I have missed somewhere else in this thread, point it out. But using actual quotes to demonstrate that you lied about what I said seems like pointing out the obvious.

Craig said...

"Do you dispute my fact or do you agree with me?"

As i have pointed out before, appeals to semantics and word choice aren't the issue. The issue is how Jesus treated, used, and referred to the Hebrew scripture. Please point out where he referred to it in any way other than as authoritative? You do realize that one can treat something as authoritative without using the word authoritative, and that the lack of the word doesn't negate the reality of the actions.

"Would you agree that one can cite a source without saying, “and by citing that source, I mean to say that I think it is a literally historic document – or not? Or that it is intended to be interpreted a certain way?”

Of course, but that's not the claim you are making. First, you are claiming that Jesus was referring to the Hebrew scriptures as not literally historic. (Although the existence of a literal historic corpus of Hebrew scripture kind of undermines your point) Second, you are claiming (or at least inferring) that Jesus was NOT intending to treat the Hebrew scriptures as accurate and authoritative. Yet you have offered no proof. You say that Because you and your friends do something, then it is likely that Jesus did the same thing. This is a silly excuse for support.

The only thing you could say with any rational sense of confidence is that it is unclear what position Jesus took on the veracity of the Hebrew scriptures and that either option is equally likely.

If one accepts your hunch it ignores the fact that the guy who claimed to be The Truth, was intentionally referring to events that He knew to be false.

Craig said...

"Being rational is, I believe, a good starting point towards the road to wisdom"

So, then, are you asserting that wisdom is unequivocally good?

"Insisting that one is right because one's tradition has always held a view is a bit more shaky starting point, although tradition certainly has its place."

If one was doing this, I would agree. The converse, it seems, could also be true.

If as you suggest that "Reason" is unequivocally good, and that it leads to wisdom, and that it is Biblical to "reason together", then how is it reasonable to dismiss centuries of wise rational folks reasoning together, in favor of your opinion.

One problem you have is that it's easy to dismiss the past couple of centuries of accumulated Christian thought, study, reasoning, and wisdom as mere "tradition". It's even easy to pick out examples of tradition gone awry. But, it's not as easy to simply ignore the cumulative weight of scholarship, theology, and wisdom as equal in value to your personal, unsupported, opinion.

Craig said...

Just a thought. Maybe instead of this back and forth, I'll drop out of this conversation. That way you will have the time to study the resources that the other blogger has listed, listen to the podcasts of the conference he is involved in, and be ready when he has the time to engage with you. It is clear to me that you have the opportunity to get a preview of the arguments he will most likely use, as well as the evidence he might present. If you take the time to prepare, you should have no difficulty in quickly and decisively dismantling his points and demonstrating the superiority of your position.

Anyway, just a thought.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, you forget, I had a lifetime of listening to that side of the argument. I'm generally familiar with the points.

What I'm NOT familiar with or aware of existing are answers to the questions I am asking. These are, to me, reasonable questions that point to incredible holes in those arguments that I heard for decades. I've not heard answers to those questions.

I rather doubt this fella will provide any answers, any more than you are. But I'm very glad to listen to anyone who will give it a shot.

If you don't want to try (and you can't, really, so I don't blame you for not answering), then don't, no problem. I'll see if this guy will.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

You have in fact used this "revenge fantasy" category as a way to minimize or dismiss passages that disturb you.

Once again, that I disagree with Craig's human interpretation and unproven hunches about these texts is not an indication that I dismiss them. That I dismiss CRAIG's interpretation is not the same as dismissing the text.

That remains a fact, no matter how many times you misrepresent reality.

Craig...

It seems as though you are suggesting that God does have a vision in mind for what the Bible should be, but that seems at odds with your position. Clarification?

I don't know definitively, authoritatively how God wants us to interpret the Bible or IF God wants us to interpret it a certain way. Nor do you.

As a point of fact.

Agreed?

As someone who thinks God reveals God's Self reasonably well through creation, through our hearts, through the Bible, etc, I think I have reasonable understanding of God's Ways. To wit: Love one another, love our enemies, love our friends, love our families, love the least of these, take care of one another, work to do good, promote health and healing, safety and simple, good living. I think this is fairly obvious and clear, but I do not speak authoritatively for God, I would not presume to do that.

As to the minisculia of Biblical interpretation, we have no data on which any one of us can presume to say we speak authoritatively for God.

As a point of fact.

Do you disagree?

Craig said...

"Craig, you forget, I had a lifetime of listening to that side of the argument. I'm generally familiar with the points."

I'm impressed. You seem to be suggesting that your lifetime of general familiarity with "that side of the argument", has prepared you to deal with this dialogue. You seem sure that there have been no major changes since you check of of conservative land.

"What I'm NOT familiar with or aware of existing are answers to the questions I am asking. These are, to me, reasonable questions that point to incredible holes in those arguments that I heard for decades. I've not heard answers to those questions."

The fact that you haven't heard answers to those questions, doesn't demonstrate that answers don't exist. One wonders, how much time you have spent in open minded study searching for these answers. One wonders why you wouldn't give the gentleman's sources even a cursory glance just in case you might possibly have missed something.

"I rather doubt this fella will provide any answers, any more than you are."

But heaven forbid anyone suggest that you might pre judge someone who you perceive to be more conservative than you are. Once again, you confuse answers with answers that satisfy you. Just because you don't like the answers doesn't mean they aren't answers. Just because you don't like the answers or don't find them convincing doesn't mean the answers are wrong.

"If you don't want to try..."

Of course, in all of the years we've done this and all of the hundreds of hours I've spent answering questions for you, I've never, ever, not even one tiny little time, ever tried to answer your questions.

I guess, now it's OK to suggest that you've lied. Since, this is a whopper. If you're going to make a claim like this, you should be prepared to prove it or apologize. I suspect neither will be forthcoming. But this is truly B.S., just one more example of how you exemplify the way of grace.

"That I dismiss CRAIG's interpretation is not the same as dismissing the text."

No, no,no. It's not a matter of dismissing my interpretation of the text. It's a matter of you classifying sections of scripture as "revenge fantasies" with absolutely zero support for your claim. My interpretation is immaterial as long as you feel free to just invent some ridiculous theory out of thin air and have the nerve to suggest that it is fact.

You don't even know what my interpretation of the text is,because you haven't provided one specific text that is a "revenge fantasy" for me to even consider. Even if you did, you still have to support your interpretation. Of course, you feel confident that you can disagree with an interpretation that I HAVEN"T EVEN MADE, because you haven't given anything specific to interpret.

So, am I to conclude that you do find the "revenge fantasies" to be an important part of your Bible study or do you simply ignore them as "fantasies"?

"I don't know definitively, authoritatively how God wants us to interpret the Bible or IF God wants us to interpret it a certain way."

Yet your very own words would seem to indicate that you do have a pretty clear idea of what God does not want to make it into. I know that because it's what you actually said.

" make it into something it (and more importantly, God) does not make it."

So, you have some really clear ideas about what God doesn't want, but nothing about what He does.

It's all clear now.

"As to the minisculia of Biblical interpretation, we have no data on which any one of us can presume to say we speak authoritatively for God."

Yet, if one looks at your actual words, you seem to be doing just that.

"Do you disagree?"

With your earlier quote or this more recent one?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

So, what you are saying that you really have no idea what God wants to make (or not make) of the Bible. Despite your very own words which seem to suggest that you know (or at least can know) what "God does not make it." It seems as though you are suggesting that God does have a vision in mind for what the Bible should be, but that seems at odds with your position. Clarification?


Again: I think many ideas about morality and God are quite clear. I think it is abundantly clear that we who wish to be moral and follow God's Ways are to be loving, grace-full, forgiving, etc. I think it is clear, that is my opinion.

Again: I do not/can not presume to speak with authority that as a point of fact, God DOES want this or that. Neither can you.

I think it is sufficiently clear that we are to love our enemies, but I can't say that this is a fact because I can't "prove" God to begin with, nor can I "prove" a loving God as found described in the Bible (as I understand it). So, it is, as a point of fact, NOT a demonstrable fact that there is a God or that God is represented by Love and that those who follow God ought to love others. It is NOT a demonstrable, provable fact. That is a simple fact. I'm just acknowledging the reality that we can't speak in terms of "proven facts" about our ideas about God or God's ways.

That I can't prove God exists does not mean that I don't find sufficient reason to believe God exists and take it on faith.

That I can't prove God is a God of love and wants us to love does not mean that I don't find sufficient reason (within and outside of biblical texts) to believe it and take it on faith.

I'm just separating out what is opinion (even opinion that I find extremely compelling) and what is fact. I have no problem identifying that not everything I believe is a provable fact.

You?

And now, now do you understand the difference I'm making? The distinction between fact and opinion? And when I speak of provable facts, I'm limiting it to provable facts. Whereas, within "opinion," there is a range of opinions from less likely to more likely.

I think that God would oppose gay folk marrying or endorse bombing Hiroshima extremely unlikely and those who hold those opinions are likely (IN MY OPINION) mistaken. I think it is very likely that wisdom and Bible teach that God would want us to live simply and share our resources/pool our resources and those who disagree are likely (IN MY OPINION) mistaken to some degree. But I don't conflate my opinion - even on those topics where I feel pretty confident that my position is the most rational, moral and Godly - with fact or with God's Word.

See the difference?

I'm not sure how to be any more clear on this, Craig. I hope you understand now.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

He didn't consider them sacred or authoritative. You constantly use the example of Jesus reading from Isaiah as "proof" that the "good news" was primarily/exclusively about righting social wrongs, yet you are now arguing that Jesus didn't consider the prophecy that (you claim) He was fulfilling to be either sacred or authoritative.

My suspicion is that he considered the OT as sacred in the "of God" definition of the word. I can't prove that. It is not a demonstrable fact. It is my opinion.

Where am I mistaken?

If you hold the suspicion that Jesus considered the OT "authoritative" in the sense that it was the One and Only Source for moral answers, that is your opinion, you can't prove it, it is not a demonstrable fact. It is your (if you hold it) opinion.

Where am I mistaken?

Or, since I'm just pointing out reality, do we agree on these points?

Dan Trabue said...

NT Wright on Biblical "authority..."

Biblical Authority: the Problem

When people in the church talk about authority they are very often talking about controlling people or situations. They want to make sure that everything is regulated properly, that the church does not go off the rails doctrinally or ethically, that correct ideas and practices are upheld and transmitted to the next generation. ‘Authority’ is the place where we go to find out the correct answers to key questions such as these.

This notion, however, runs into all kinds of problems when we apply it to the Bible. Is that really what the Bible is for? Is it there to control the church? Is it there simply to look up the correct answers to questions that we, for some reason, already know?

As we read the Bible we discover that the answer to these questions seems in fact to be ‘no’. Most of the Bible does not consist of rules and regulations—lists of commands to be obeyed. Nor does it consist of creeds—lists of things to be believed. And often, when there ARE lists of rules or of creedal statements, they seem to be somewhat incidental to the purpose of the writing in question.

One might even say, in one (admittedly limited) sense, that there is no biblical doctrine of the authority of the Bible. For the most part the Bible itself is much more concerned with doing a whole range of other things rather than talking about itself...

=======

NT Wright...

http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Bible_Authoritative.htm

A very good article worth reading. I am not alone in this.

And, Craig, unlike your source pointing to multiple books, Wright sums up the problem with "biblical authority" on a freely viewable page and explains, very well, the problems in text that can be read in just a few minutes.

I'd be interested to know where you think Wright has gone wrong (Ah! See what I did there?!), if you think that is the case.

Craig said...

Dan,

There are several problems with your somewhat out of context citation of NT Wright.
1. It ignores the context of the entirety of what Wright has written on the subject and cherry picks one short article that seems to support your point.
2. I have to ask if you read the entire article. Because it certainly doesn’t 100% support your hunch.
3. What you have done is to suggest that one article (out of context within Wright’s larger body of work) is somehow a counterbalance to the sources provided at the other blog.
4. Although Wright has used the term “myth” in connection with the OT, he is using it in an entirely different sense than you are.
5. I thought you didn’t like prooftexting, yet here you are engaging in a version of it.
6. If you read the entire article, He does not support your hunch about Jesus and Paul’s references to the OT.
7. Wright is a fallible human, and while I think he is correct in many areas, it does not mean that he is correct in all areas.
8. From the reading I’ve done of his on this subject (More than one cherry picked article), I’d suggest that if you put Wright on a continuum he would overall be closer to the historic Orthodox view of things than to your somewhat peculiar singular view of things. That would, of course, require that you actually read more than this one piece of Wright’s and be willing to compare and contrast with a reasonably open mind.
9. Even if you were correct that Wright completely supports your opinion, all you are left with is 2 opinions against that preponderance of Church History. Or for that matter against the 6-8 sources given at the other blog.
I guess you consider a google search for something that superficially appears to support your hunch as substitute for looking at the resources you have access to and studying them

Dan Trabue said...

2. I have to ask if you read the entire article. Because it certainly doesn’t 100% support your hunch.

Oh, to be sure, I'm not saying I agree with everything or that he touches on all my points here. My point was that he raises some of the very same questions I raise.

It sounds like to me from this (and other places I've read Wright), he'd come much closer to agreeing with my questions and disagreeing with the approach you all seem to be promoting, but maybe I'm mistaken. Regardless, the point was, he raises many of the same points/questions I do. And does so within the context of one article.

4. Although Wright has used the term “myth” in connection with the OT, he is using it in an entirely different sense than you are.

I suspect you are mistaken on that point. Perhaps it's the case that you don't understand what I mean by it?

"When anthropologists talk about myth, what they mean is not an untrue story. What they mean is a story which is full of power for how we understand ourselves individually, for how we understand ourselves as a community, for how we understand what the human project is all about, and some of its paradoxes and tragedies and so on.

The mythological element, however, has gotten misunderstood to be that if it's myth, therefore it isn't history, and vice versa. That's just for starters."


~NT Wright.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

then how is it reasonable to dismiss centuries of wise rational folks reasoning together, in favor of your opinion.

I'm dismissing no one. I'm asking questions based on their claims and just waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting to see if anyone has anything to address those questions. I can't clarify with Wesley or Calvin or any other dead theologians so the burden will have to rest on people today who wish to address the questions raised by their arguments.

If no one wants to address them, no problem, but I can't pursue a road that is, on the face of it, counter-factual just because of an appeal to numbers or tradition. I'm sure you wouldn't want me to do this, any more than I'd want you to embrace pacifism because "The Anabaptist's 500 year tradition."

Reasonable?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

it's not as easy to simply ignore the cumulative weight of scholarship, theology, and wisdom as equal in value to your personal, unsupported, opinion.

If what they appear to say is irrational, even counter to facts, then yes, it is easy to ignore bad claims (or perhaps bad understandings of claims). What else can I do? Bow to the bully of tradition because 100,000 dead guys can't be mistaken? No thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

The issue is how Jesus treated, used, and referred to the Hebrew scripture. Please point out where he referred to it in any way other than as authoritative? You do realize that one can treat something as authoritative without using the word authoritative, and that the lack of the word doesn't negate the reality of the actions.

It seems you want me to argue your point for you. You have not established any support for your position. I've clearly supported my "Jesus does not call it authoritative..." and you agree, he didn't use that term.

Don't you need to point to ANY place where Jesus spoke of the OT as "authoritative" in the sense you mean it... as a "primary" or "sole" source? If you want to argue that, while Jesus never called the OT (and certainly not the NT) "authoritative," he hinted at it (suggested it? implied it??) when he said... what?

You have to make a case before I have any need to disprove it. Who knows, if you make it well, maybe I'll agree. But first, you have to make it, not just claim it.

Craig said...

"Waiting to see if anyone has anything to address those questions."

So, is it that you are unwilling or unable to actively seek out the answers you are looking for. I suspect that they are out there. I certainly suspect that these questions have not been asked and answered. Maybe it's just easier for you to wait and hope that someone will come along and answer them for you.

"Reasonable?"

I have no idea. To me it seems strange to have questions, yet wait for others to answer them. What happens if/when you get answers? Will you all of a sudden be open to doing a 180 against your current opinion? Will you simply continue to ask for more and more proof? If these questions bother you, why not put forth the effort to seek answers?

"What else can I do?"

It seems as though the options you have left yourself are;
1. Uncritically accept the vast preponderance of Christian scholarship.
2. Strike out on your own as if the past 2000+ years of Christian study have no meaning because it doesn't make sense to you.
3. Ignore the fact that Christian scholarship and theology is simply the consensus based on 2000+ years of people of good faith reasoning together.

Why not do the research on your own? Are you really so happy with your own personal opinion, that has virtually no support in the rest of Christendom? Are you really prepared to assert that 2000+ years of study, prayer, seeking God etc. are less compelling that this little hunch you've cooked up? Or is sounding right to you what ultimately tips the scales?

"It seems you want me to argue your point for you."

No,not at all. I was simply hoping that you could admit that it is possible to treat something as though it has authority without using the words "authority" or "authoritative". It seems as though asking you to acknowledge what seems fairly self evident is even a bit too much for you.

"I've clearly supported my "Jesus does not call it authoritative..." and you agree, he didn't use that term."

So what. You can't seriously assert that the only possible way to determine Jesus view on the authority of scripture was for him to have used the word "authoritative". This is just silly. Again, if all you need to feel vindicated is a semantics argument, then feel free.

"You have to make a case before I have any need to disprove it."

So, I appeal to the preponderance of Christian Orthodox understanding of scripture, while you posit some new unsupported theory that no one else accepts, but the burden is on me? Really?

FYI, Jesus seems to place some degree of authority in the scripture when he responds to temptation from Satan. Every response was "It is written...", when He threw out (violently) the moneychangers etc. His rationale started "It is written...".

Although you probably didn't read this far, I think that Wright is correct is assigning the authority to God, not the scriptures themselves. Yet, we are left with the fact that God communicated His authority through the scriptures.

Unless you are prepared to argue that God has no authority. Or that God communicates His authority to each on an individual basis. Or that one must find God's authority through reason.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

is it that you are unwilling or unable to actively seek out the answers you are looking for. I suspect that they are out there.

I believe that it is obvious that the Bible is not "authoritative" in the popular evangelical sense. The Bible nowhere states that it is "authoritative." The Bible does not imply that the Bible is "authoritative" any place that I see. God has not told me that it is "authoritative." Reason does not dictate to me that it is "authoritative."

Given all that, I have absolutely no reason to suspect that it is authoritative. On what basis would I try to research something I see no evidence for?

Consider: I do not believe there is any evidence for extraterrestrial aliens hiding on earth. Now, many many people do, but I see no evidence to support the claim. Given that, I will not be researching something I don't believe in.

Why would I?

Who does that? Who goes out and researches something they don't believe exists? On what basis?

Neither do I believe there is any data that there are good reasons for abusive, oppressive racism. Do you think I should research for good reasons of something I don't believe in?

Why aren't YOU researching the good reasons for racism?

No one researches things they don't believe in, Craig.

If you think there is a compelling case and you want to make it, I'll consider your summary of the best case you can make for it, but not much more than that.

That's just an irrational request to do your work for you for something I don't even believe in.

Dan Trabue said...

As Walter Brueggemann has rationally stated...

As our mothers and fathers have always known, the Bible is not self-evident and self-interpreting, and the Reformers did not mean to say that it was so when they escaped the church’s magisterium. Rather the Bible requires and insists upon human interpretation, which is inescapably subjective, necessarily provisional and inevitably disputatious.

I propose as an interpretive rule that all of our interpretations need to be regarded, at the most, as having only tentative authority. This will enable us to make our best, most insistent claims, but then regularly relinquish our pet interpretations and, together with our partners in dispute, fall back in joy into the inherent apostolic claims that outdistance all of our too familiar and too partisan interpretations.


http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2104

IF a text has to be interpreted to be understood (what genre is this? the reader must ask... what meaning is intended here? the reader must ask... what was the cultural and societal context of this text? the reader must ask..., etc, etc) and IF our human interpretations are not infallible, then in what sense does calling a mere text "inerrant" or "infallible" make rational or biblical sense?

Craig said...

Dan,

There are several problems with your somewhat out of context citation of NT Wright.
1. It ignores the context of the entirety of what Wright has written on the subject and cherry picks one short article that seems to support your point.
2. I have to ask if you read the entire article. Because it certainly doesn’t 100% support your hunch.
3. What you have done is to suggest that one article (out of context within Wright’s larger body of work) is somehow a counterbalance to the sources provided at the other blog.
4. Although Wright has used the term “myth” in connection with the OT, he is using it in an entirely different sense than you are.
5. I thought you didn’t like prooftexting, yet here you are engaging in a version of it.
6. If you read the entire article, He does not support your hunch about Jesus and Paul’s references to the OT.
7. Wright is a fallible human, and while I think he is correct in many areas, it does not mean that he is correct in all areas.
8. From the reading I’ve done of his on this subject (More than one cherry picked article), I’d suggest that if you put Wright on a continuum he would overall be closer to the historic Orthodox view of things than to your somewhat peculiar singular view of things. That would, of course, require that you actually read more than this one piece of Wright’s and be willing to compare and contrast with a reasonably open mind.
I guess you consider a google search for something that superficially appears to support your hunch as substitute for looking at the resources you have access to and studying them.

Craig said...

“…but then regularly relinquish our pet interpretations and, together with our partners in dispute, fall back in joy into the inherent apostolic claims that outdistance all of our too familiar and too partisan interpretations.”

As soon as you relinquish your pet interpretation and agree that the “inherent apostolic claims” even existed. We might get somewhere.

“IF a text has to be interpreted to be understood (what genre is this? the reader must ask... what meaning is intended here? the reader must ask... what was the cultural and societal context of this text? the reader must ask..., etc, etc) and IF our human interpretations are not infallible, then in what sense does calling a mere text "inerrant" or "infallible" make rational or biblical sense?”
It’s statements/questions like this that make me question if you even understand what people mean when they talk about a literal interpretation or being authoritative.

Dan Trabue said...

It’s statements/questions like this that make me question if you even understand what people mean when they talk about a literal interpretation or being authoritative.

By all means, tell me what you think I mean and what you are suggesting literalists mean. Enlighten me.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

There are several problems with your somewhat out of context citation of NT Wright.

I already addressed your misunderstandings on this comment at your own blog. You must have missed it.

Craig said...

"Enlighten me."

I have done so multiple times before. Will you promise that if I do so again, you will stop incorrectly representing the views of those who take a literal approach to scripture.

Dan Trabue said...

I doubt seriously that I have done so, but by all means, enlighten me.

I have no intention of misrepresenting anyone, least of all, my parents, Sunday School teachers and best friends I grew up with who come from this world still. I love these people and would never intentionally misrepresent them.

Craig said...

"I already addressed your misunderstandings on this comment at your own blog. You must have missed it."

I just went through every recent post you've commented on, and I did not see any indication that you had addressed the problems with your out of context (the context of Wright's larger body of work) link to the N.T. Wright piece.

If it's there maybe I'll find it eventually. I really suspect it's not exactly a hard hitting point by point refutation, but I could be wrong. Anyway, since this is where you originally used the Wright piece, I would have thought you would have kept your response here, to keep things tidy.

Craig said...

"I doubt seriously that I have done so,..."

Of course you do.

I've invested enough time tonight, maybe some other time.

Craig said...

"It's probably not dissimilar to your own understanding of why you don't need to take the "four corners of the Earth" in the Bible to mean that the earth is square. No, of course, "the four corners" passage need not - SHOULD NOT - be taken literally as we know that the Earth isn't square, so that must be imagery, not a literal description."

It's comments like this that make me wonder if you understand what people say when they approach the Bible "literally".

The fact that you continue to suggest that there are people who take things like "four corners" to mean the earth is square, makes my point.

"No, of course, "the four corners" passage need not - SHOULD NOT - be taken literally...""

No, of course the "4 corners" passage should be taken literally. It should be taken in the sense that the author intended it. It should be taken literally as metaphor.

"Oh, I recognize from archeology and physics and other scientific realms that the world was not created in six days, and not 6,000 years ago."

Please provide scientific proof of the exact age of the earth?

"From further education, I recognize that the period of modern history-telling did not begin until starting around 500 BC - 500 AD,..." Please provide me with proof of this claim.

That is, I have no problem recognizing reality as reality and believing, rationally, that in understanding the Bible,

"I don't have to abandon reason and real world evidence, and therefore, why would I insist, contrary to reality as I understand it, that the Bible's stories must be taken as literal history in every case."

No one is suggesting that you personally do so. What is being suggested is that you show some grace for those who might not agree with you. Who have used their reason to reach a different conclusion. Why would you imply that those folks are not reasonable and unaware of reality?

Just imagine if you are mistaken and the reality is that even some of the stories you claim are not real, is real. What does that do to you claim of complete accuracy about what constitutes reality?



Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

No one is suggesting that you personally do so. What is being suggested is that you show some grace for those who might not agree with you.

Are you kidding me? Craig, that has been my point all along in all these sorts of discussions.

The point is that there are those on the more conservative side who are NOT okay if I interpret Genesis differently, NOT okay if I hold a different idea about the Atonement or homosexuality. That these are signs or proof that I am NOT a believer or a "true believer" or not a Christian... that indeed, I am a heretic because I hold different unprovable opinions.

MY point has been all along, believe differently than I do if you want, no problem. I will disagree with you, maybe even strongly disagree with you, but I won't call you stupid or a fool or not a fellow Christian simply because you disagree with my opinion... and that I am just asking for the same grace the other direction.

Did you not understand that this has been my point all along?

And that others have said, "no, we are 'certain' of our interpretation, we 'know' we can't be mistaken and our understanding on these points is the same as God's as a point of 'fact...' therefore, you are a fool, an unbeliever and a heretic..."

The point I've been making is that simply believing in your own opinion does not make it a fact, no matter how sure you are, on unprovable point... after all, look at me: I'm sure of my personal opinions on all these same facts, that does not make my opinion correct... any more than yours is authoritatively correct. So, given that we can't prove the point one way or the other, grace, friends. Disagree in Grace. You are not a heretic for disagreeing with me and I am not a heretic for disagreeing with you.

Do you get that, now? It's all about the grace, man.

Marshall Art said...

The problem, Dan, is in what you regard as sufficient proof, which seems to change depending upon the issue on the table. Also, your demands requiring that we wade through that which is irrelevant or unrelated to the point on the table. A good example is the "four corners of the earth" phrase. As Craig points out, no one regards that phrase as a true description of the earth itself, but a metaphorical alternative to "the whole earth" or "worldwide". It is deceitful to bring up such a phrase in discussions of literal translation, as it purposely denigrates those who speak of literal translation as idiots who might indeed believe the earth is cubed or squared, or that they cannot distinguish between metaphorical phrases and the message intended by their use. Where's the grace in that?

We also do not regard you as heretical because you disagree with us. You disagree with what Scripture says, and we have no trouble backing up our position directly with Scripture, compared to something far less from you, or worse, meaning injected into words and sentences built from them that cannot mean what you want and need them to mean.

And here's the sorriest part: you dare suggest a lack of grace from us without demonstrating grace yourself. It seems clear to you that grace is something you throw out when you're weak positions are exposed and the implication of those weak positions (heresy, for example) is so clear. There is no grace in refusing to accurately label the problem.

There is no grace in demanding a personal visit from God Himself, confirming what His clearly revealed will in Scripture has already attested, before you'll be willing to discard this nonsensical notion that we base as fact that which is only opinion.

But let's concede that it is all opinion. Everything we believe is opinion only and unprovable in the manner only personal witness and video recording can be. You're still faced with the reality that we have the facts to back up our opinion as a far more sound and reasonable opinion. In this, you do not provide counter facts to give your opinion more credibility. You simply wave off what conflicts with what your preconceived notions need to be true.

All this and more have been cited by many...myself, Craig, Glenn, Stan, Mark, Neil, Bubba and others over the years. It is quite clear, you need it all to be opinion so that what you want to believe you can continue to believe, regardless of whether or not you should or whether or not there is actual fact and evidence to back it up. Keep it all opinion if it helps you sleep at night.

Craig said...

"Craig, that has been my point all along in all these sorts of discussions."

What has? Showing grace? You mean like "BS" and "spewing lies" and your repeated suggestions that those who don't agree with you are naive, while you are mature? Is that the kind of grace you mean?

"The point is that there are those on the more conservative side who are NOT okay if I interpret Genesis differently, NOT okay if I hold a different idea about the Atonement or homosexuality. That these are signs or proof that I am NOT a believer or a "true believer" or not a Christian... that indeed, I am a heretic because I hold different unprovable opinions."

So what, are you so insecure that you get this worked up about what other people think of you? If your point is that people who disagree should live at let live, why do you continue to post in disparaging ways about those who disagree? Why do you continue to comment at other blogs, in ways that you have to know will be provocative? If you want to live and let live then it would help if you were to stop referring to your "unprovable opinions" as "reasonable" or "rational" or "reality" or "adult" or using declarative sentences, and to others opinions as "BS" or "naive" or "verbal vomit" or "bullshit answer" or "arrogant and sanctimonious excrement" or "mental diarrhea" or "arrogant mouth shit". Yet you do.

You say things like "God blesses gay marriage", then get upset when people ask you to provide Biblical support for your claim.

I've been very clear for years, I literally factually, based on my limited contact with you, have no way to even begin to judge whether or not you are a believer. I have no way to know. But, you have to admit that some of your positions could be interpreted as beyond the scope of Orthodox belief? Don't you? If you want to hold them, fine, just don't be surprised when people push back and ask for support. Biblical or otherwise.


"...I won't call you stupid or a fool..."

But as I noted earlier, you have no problem with lots of other things.

"no, we are 'certain' of our interpretation, we 'know' we can't be mistaken and our understanding on these points is the same as God's as a point of 'fact...' therefore, you are a fool, an unbeliever and a heretic..."

You keep claiming things like this, and I keep asking for links and quotes, but there never seem to be any, why is that? Could it be that you have misunderstood what others have said? If the above quote is accurate, then you should have no problem substantiating it, if you can't than you should stop ascribing words to others as quotes that you can't source.

"...simply believing in your own opinion does not make it a fact,..."

An opinion that no one has disagreed with. Except when you express your opinions in declarative sentences, which can get confusing.

"It's all about the grace, man."

Yes, you've given many examples over the years of how to disagree in grace. We should all follow your example.

Craig said...

"It's all about the grace, man."

If this is really the case, then how about answering my questions from my comment at March 5, 2015 at 7:55 PM. Perhaps you could also address the issues about what level of proof you find convincing about some things presented as scientific "fact"?

Dan Trabue said...

Which question? This one...

"Oh, I recognize from archeology and physics and other scientific realms that the world was not created in six days, and not 6,000 years ago."

Please provide scientific proof of the exact age of the earth?


You'll have to take it up with scientists, but I'll be glad to give you a link to get you started...

http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html

"Ancient rocks exceeding 3.5 billion years in age are found on all of Earth's continents."

I never said that we know the "exact age..." just that the data is out there in multiple fields to demonstrate that the earth is not simply thousands of years old. As you can see, 3.5 billions years + is no where near 6,000 years old.

That question? or this one...

Why would you imply that those folks are not reasonable and unaware of reality?

If someone is not able to distinguish between their personal unproven and unprovable opinion and fact, then they are not aware of reality. Am I mistaken?

Dan Trabue said...

Now, Craig, as interesting as this has all been, I'm feeling like we've gone on too long without getting anywhere.

Let me just restate my points here, points that I believe are a matter of fact and which, perhaps, you and I agree (although at this point, I'm just not sure):

1. When we read any text and offer an opinion as to its author's intended meaning, we are offering OUR opinion, not a fact.

2. Where we can find the author and verify their intent, then we can know that meaning as a point of fact. Where we can't find the author or otherwise verify their intent, we only have our opinions.

3. Now, some interpretations/opinions about what the author may or may not have meant may be more or less reasonable, but they remain unproven opinions, not facts.

Again, this is just reality, I can't imagine you disagree with that. If you do, well, then I find that confusing and irrational.

Short of any further clarifying questions: Peace to you, seriously.

Craig said...

"I already addressed your misunderstandings on this comment at your own blog. You must have missed it."

If you are talking about your one sentence response that doesn't deal with my specific points raised here, then in that sense you did and I found it. It was so small I skipped past it a couple of times. I suspect that you probably consider that your response eliminates the need for you to respond to that actual points I made here. OK, fine.

"1. When we read any text and offer an opinion as to its author's intended meaning, we are offering OUR opinion, not a fact."

Of course no one is actually suggesting otherwise. Of course to acknowledge that undermines your whole post.

"2. Where we can find the author and verify their intent, then we can know that meaning as a point of fact. Where we can't find the author or otherwise verify their intent, we only have our opinions."

I'm confused, I was unaware that you would agree that is is even possible to find a scripture which has a clear factual meaning. Your earlier position was that once we started to try to assign meaning to a passage it automatically became a matter of opinion.

"3. Now, some interpretations/opinions about what the author may or may not have meant may be more or less reasonable, but they remain unproven opinions, not facts."

As no one disagrees that opinions are opinions, it seems like you are repeating yourself. However, it seems that once you throw the word "reasonable" in, what your seem to mean is "What Dan finds Reasonable". Unfortunately, this means nothing in the context of a conversation, as your criteria for judging "Reasonable" are unknown and unknowable. Given the fact that at least part of your reasoning on homosexuality is based on the logical fallacy of arguing from silence, I'm not sure that how define "Reasonable" is helpful at all.

But again, I appreciate the fact that you can call for "grace" and "peace" all the while behaving in a way that demonstrates neither. As long as you continue to act like the kind of things you engage in are the way of "grace", your attempts to hide behind "peace" rings hollow.

But, you keep it up.

Craig said...

Dan,

As I've been doing some research on the topic if authority, I was struck by a question.

What did you hope to accomplish (or demonstrate or prove) by linking to the NT Wright piece?

What was it specifically about that piece made you choose it is supporting evidence for your opinion?

Dan Trabue said...

What did you hope to accomplish (or demonstrate or prove) by linking to the NT Wright piece?

To share, "Hey, here's this more mainstream (perhaps) fella who asks some of the same questions I ask, who appears to be coming from the same rational starting place that I am..."

Not to say that he agrees with me on all things.

Not to say that I agree with him on all things.

Not to say "Wright agrees with me, therefore you're Wrong..."

Just to say, "Interesting piece worth reading..."

As I often do with essays I find interesting.

Dan Trabue said...

"1. When we read any text and offer an opinion as to its author's intended meaning, we are offering OUR opinion, not a fact."

Of course no one is actually suggesting otherwise. Of course to acknowledge that undermines your whole post.


As a point of fact, there are those who say (of their interpretations on various texts in the Bible), "I can NOT be mistaken on this point." In other words, they are conflating their opinions with fact and with God's Word.

Further, they say that if disagreeing with their opinions on those points (not on all points, but on some points where they insist they can NOT be mistaken) is equivalent to disagreeing with God (and if you disagree with God, it must be because you are deliberately choosing to reject God and/or are a heretic).

That is problematic and it appears you agree.

If you doubt me on this, just ask Glenn you-know-who if he can be mistaken on his personal understanding of any texts that have to do with homosexuality.

Now, how widespread is this problem? How many people conflate their opinions with "fact," as if it were a proven thing? I don't know, many people hint around at it but won't answer clarifying questions to see if they can differentiate, so sometimes it's hard to tell.

Craig said...

"...there are those who say (of their interpretations on various texts in the Bible), "I can NOT be mistaken on this point." In other words, they are conflating their opinions with fact and with God's Word."

So you claim, yet you cannot provide evidence of anyone actually saying this. (Links and quotes)

"That is problematic and it appears you agree."

problematic to you. But, once again you appear to be choosing to make conclusions about what I think without support.

"If you doubt me on this, just ask Glenn you-know-who if he can be mistaken on his personal understanding of any texts that have to do with homosexuality."

So now you want me to prove your point for you. Why not do it yourself?

"Now, how widespread is this problem? How many people conflate their opinions with "fact," as if it were a proven thing? I don't know, many people hint around at it but won't answer clarifying questions to see if they can differentiate, so sometimes it's hard to tell."

Since you haven't provided any proof (other than your say so, which isn't), there is no factual indication that there is a problem. In the absence of proof that a problem exists, somewhere other than in your mind, then this all seems silly.

Could it be possible that somewhere in your being you suspect that maybe these folks who disagree with you might be on the right track and you are just resisting considering their positions because it is uncomfortable for you.

So, to sum up your posting of the Wright piece, you don't actually believe it proves or demonstrates anything you just thought it was interesting.

Now, on that I call B.S. Why would you say that you were posting it because he agreed with you, at the time, but now have changed your story?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, you've read Glenn's rants. Is it the case that you actually doubt that he thinks he absolutely cannot be mistaken on his interpretation of texts about homosexuality, for instance?

Dan Trabue said...

"That is problematic and it appears you agree."

problematic to you. But, once again you appear to be choosing to make conclusions about what I think without support.


Craig, I think it's time for us to give up. I'm simply noting that it APPEARS that you agree with me. You can clarify by, well, clarifying if I am mistaken. Instead, you just criticize without clarifying.

DO you agree with me? Do you disagree? I don't know, you rarely clarify anything directly.

Given this reluctance on your part to clarify in instances like this, my point stands:

You DO appear to agree with me, as any rational person would.

If you don't agree, you are free to explain what I've gotten wrong.

But I don't have time for these vague and unclear responses.

Again, peace to you.

Craig said...

"Craig, you've read Glenn's rants. Is it the case that you actually doubt that he thinks he absolutely cannot be mistaken on his interpretation of texts about homosexuality, for instance?"

I can't, don't and won't speak for anyone else, I believe I've mentioned this before.

"If you don't agree, you are free to explain what I've gotten wrong."

Dan, you are absolutely correct. I have never ever explained anything to you. I've provided actual evidence of instances where your very own words contradict yourself, and you ignore it. I spent hours and multiple posts answering your questions, yet you continue to claim I don't.

We're back to you making claims of fact, without being willing or able to back them up. As long as you do so, I will point it out.

Dan Trabue said...

Don't believe it, makes no difference to me. I'm stating what he has said and others hint at (including you, sometimes) without being willing to clarify.

I am not willing to wade through all of Glenn's blogs to find the quotes, but you can be sure it's a reality, all you have to do is ask him.

Believe it or not, doesn't change the reality of it.

Craig said...

"I am not willing to wade through all of Glenn's blogs to find the quotes, but you can be sure it's a reality, all you have to do is ask him."

OK, you're not willing to prove your charge (Even if Glenn did say what you accuse him of saying, that is still only one person not many), and you think I should just trust you that Glenn has said what you perceive him to have said.

Oh, and before you start, I'm not defending Glenn. I've called him out on plenty of what he has said, and would never suggest that his views represent ant sort of constituency.

Dan Trabue said...

you're not willing to prove your charge (Even if Glenn did say what you accuse him of saying, that is still only one person not many), and you think I should just trust you that Glenn has said what you perceive him to have said.

1. There is no "charge." I'm simply stating what Glenn has said (and others vaguely imply and don't clarify). As a point of fact, Glenn has said "I can not be mistaken" (or perhaps "I can't be mistaken..." or "I'm NOT mistaken," ...not the exact quote but the idea) about his interpretation of the handful of passages dealing with (perhaps) some form of homosexuality. It's not a charge to report what someone has said. It's a report.

2. Whether you believe it or not, it is reality. You DO understand that, right? I really don't care if you believe it.

3. IF I was making some scandalous "charge" like you say, I might not do so without having the sources (he's said it more than one time). But I'm just pointing out what was said to me, something that he would not deny if asked. I have no desire to try to spend hours and hours pouring through all the places I've talked with Glenn to find the quote.

IF I was making some "charge" ("Mr X abuses puppies..."), I would support the claim. There is no "claim," though in this case, no "charge." It's just what he said.

Believe it or not.

As to the rest of conservatist-dom, all I can tell you is that many of you all make statements that SOUND like you're saying "When Lev 18 says 'blah' it means that God opposes gay marriage and I can NOT be mistaken on that point, that is, as a point of fact, what God's position factually is!" and when I ask for clarity, conservatives have typically been vague, neither confirming or denying what they mean.

For instance, are you saying you're abundantly clear that when you interpret passages from the Bible, that it means you know for a fact that God is opposed to gay folk marrying? Or is it just your opinion, one which you're pretty certain of, but still, a personal opinion? I think your answer is opinion, but I'm still not sure.

Marshall Art said...

Speaking as one who has no doubt that Scripture speaks of all homosexual behavior, and not some self-serving notion of some homosexual behavior (considering how Lev 18:22 speaks only of the act and not as regards any context or scenario in which the behavior might take place), I'm certain I can speak for Glenn and others that as there is no hint in Scripture that "marriage" means anything other than one man and one woman, thus there is no possibility that God would in any way bless, encourage, tolerate or condone SSM. This isn't a matter of anyone presuming first hand knowledge of His position on that specific subject, but only the only reasonable and possible conclusion at which any honorable and honest individual could arrive. As such, it is not much of a stretch to insist that it IS God's position based on all that Scripture provides as evidence to support the conclusion. Thus, I can know for a fact that God is opposed to homosexuals marrying or dating or even pining for each other.

Now, two homosexuals having an agape type of love towards each other...that's a different story. But anything along the lines of erotic, romantic attachments? Not a chance in the hell that Dan should consider a final destination should he continue to pervert Scripture in order to rationalize his position.

I hope this lends clarity to the discussion.

Craig said...

"It's a report."

It's a report that is unsubstantiated by evidence or proof or facts. All there is is "I know this is true, you should just trust my Reason".

Again, proof.

"Whether you believe it or not, it is reality. You DO understand that, right?"

How can you claim that something is "reality" if you can't substantiate your claim? It seems to me that "reality" should be something that can be explicitly proven. Yet, you can't or won't provide proof that your interpretation of what Glenn (still just one person, not many) accurately represents what may or may not have actually been said.

"But I'm just pointing out what was said to me, something that he would not deny if asked. I have no desire to try to spend hours and hours pouring through all the places I've talked with Glenn to find the quote."

You leave me with 3 unsatisfying options.
1. Trust you.
2. Do your research for you
3. Ask Glenn

Somehow none of those 3 makes sense to me. If you are going to make an accusation (or report or claim of fact or whatever way you want to put it), then it seems that you should do what you ask of others and provide evidence to support your contention.

"It's just what he said."

In reality,given the lack of evidence, it is not.

It is your version of what he said, or it's your interpretation of what he said, or it's you opinion of what he said. In is not "Just what he said.". If you can't provide a quote/link to his words saying exactly what you claim, then the reality is that you are wrong in your assertion.

"When Lev 18 says 'blah' it means that God opposes gay marriage and I can NOT be mistaken on that point, that is, as a point of fact, what God's position factually is!"

Can you provide a source for this quote? Can you provide any evidence of anyone saying this? If not, please stop attributing false quotes to people who you won't identify.

I know it's easy to broad brush and make sweeping unsupported generalizations, but without support of your position...

Since the Bible doesn't address "gay marriage" I would not suggest that the Bible takes a stance on something about which it is silent.

You, on the other hand, don;t seem to have problems drawing inferences from silence.



Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I'll help Trabue out

Yes, I did say I'm not mistaken about what the Bible says about homosexuality, because it is quite plain to anyone without an agenda.

I also claimed that I am not mistaken about 2+2=4.

And I stand in good stead with all orthodox theologians who agree with me about homosexuality in the Bible. I'm not an anomaly in that regard. For at least 4000 years (OT and NT) Jews and Christians understood what the Bible says about homosexuality, so if I'm wrong, so are all of them. Yet Trabue considers it arrogant to be certain of anything. Which only proves what a fool he is.

Oh, and I'm not coming back for rebuttals - I just learned of the comment string and wanted to set the record straight. Otherwise, I don't have time to waste with heretic Dan.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Again, proof.

Glenn...

Yes, I did say I'm not mistaken about what the Bible says about homosexuality

From the horse's mouth.

Thanks, Glenn.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

Since the Bible doesn't address "gay marriage" I would not suggest that the Bible takes a stance on something about which it is silent.

Good for you. Tell that to your comrades, who not only take stances, but claim that they can't be mistaken on those stances.

Are we done here, then?

Marshall Art said...

Not quite. You see, the notion that God could not possibly bless a homosexual union is supported by all the Bible DOES say about human sexuality, marriage and family. It doesn't matter how few verses refer to the immorality of homosexual behavior. A good Christian only needs Lev 18:22 to know that there is no possibility for SSM since the behavior that would consummate such a travesty is prohibited.

Your great problem and dishonest position requires that all "opinion" be dismissed as it might regard what Scripture does or does not teach, and the implications of its teachings. This is convenient, but not the least bit logical when an opinion is so soundly supported as is ours regarding the untenable position you espouse. Yes. It may technically be only my opinion that God would never condone, bless or sanction a "gay" marriage, but strength of Biblical teaching renders it a complete fact. To date, you have rendered absolutely nothing that compares with regard to your opinion on the subject. Your attempts are clearly no more or better than injecting meaning into whatever part of the text serves your preference. In other words, you don't even offer opinion so much as fantasy and make-believe. THAT is not opinion, but fact supported by years of evidence inherent in your comments.

Dan Trabue said...

You are welcome to your own opinions about those things you can't prove, no matter how unsupportable, immoral or irrational I may believe them to be.

Believe what you want, just don't ask others/demand others must agree with you. We'll pass, thank you very much.

Marshall Art said...

They are totally supportable, completely moral and absolutely rational (given how perfectly it aligns with what God hath revealed to us in Scripture). You simply reject it with no "yang" argument to this solid "yin". Indeed, you have nothing in Scripture that honest people can interpret as supportive of your preferred position. This, too, has been proven over and over with nothing better from you than "believe what you want". But you never finish the sentence. The honest truth of your position can only result in, "Believe what you want, but I'll believe that which isn't true in the least because I can then pretend my homosexual friends are not really engaging in sexual immorality as if it is blessed by God."

And you keep saying this:

"...just don't ask others/demand others must agree with you."

First of all, no one is asking or demanding you to agree with us at all. We're encouraging you to agree with the clearly revealed teachings of Scripture. But you'd rather support sexual immorality. So, if we're asking anything it's that you would be honest or prove us mistaken. You can't do both. I wonder if you can do either. It seems unlikely. That's more fact than opinion as well.