Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An Insane and Hellish Legalism...

Cracked Pot
From Stan, at the fundamentalist blog, Winging It, on the "Regulative Principle of Worship...."

"I'd guess that most of you have never heard of this concept. Don't worry. I wouldn't expect it. Popular at one point, there are now very few churches that subscribe to it and, as you would expect, the rest have mostly put it out of their minds. So ... what is it? You've heard, I assume, of the principle of Christian Liberty. Based on passages like Romans 14 and1 Corinthians 10:23-33, this principle holds that Christians are permitted to do anything that God's Word does not forbid within the confines of conscience. Now, that's an oversimplification, perhaps, and there are lots of considerations, but that's the idea. Well, the regulative principle of worship is like that, except in reverse. This principle says that in worship believers are only permitted to do that which God commands.

The idea, believe it or not, comes from Scripture. The most compelling clue comes from the story of Nadab and Abihu. These priests, sons of Aaron, offered "strange fire" and were instantly burned to death (Lev 10:1-2). For "strange fire"? Oh, sure, the ESV says "unauthorized fire", like that helps. The point is that they didn't violate a command from God; they simply did something in worship that He had not commanded. When Aaron started to complain, Moses told him, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Among those who are near Me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" And the text says that with that, "Aaron held his peace." (Lev 10:3) 

It looks then like God is concerned with specifics in the worship He receives. Thus, Moses was not allowed to make whatever he thought appropriate for the tabernacle. He had to make everything "after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain." (Exo 25:40) The first two commands of the Decalogue are about the proper worship of God (Exo 20:1-6). Paul warns about "self-made religion" which "have indeed an appearance of wisdom" but "are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." (Col 2:23) Jesus rejected "the traditions of the elders" (Matt 15:1-13) and required a return to "the commandment of God". So it looks like the regulative principle of worship may have a biblical case.

After that, of course, the case breaks down..."

I will point out that my response is not, of course, an attack on Stan, but on this human (and nutty-sounding) theory... The "Regulative Principle of Worship..." Also, I will note that Stan does not fully endorse the claim. He merely says he thinks "the case for the regulative principle of worship has merit."

Here we have a "principle" that Jesus never advocated being proposed as a serious Christian tenet. The case is built almost entirely on one obscure passage from the OT, and even there, it does not promote this as a principle, but humans have taken the passage and fabricated out of thin air a principle they extrapolated from this obscure passage something that even Stan notes is the reverse of a more reasonable and consistently biblical theory, the idea of Christian Liberty.

[I will note here that I find Stan's description of Christian Liberty interesting, as taken literally, it would destroy his arguments against gay folk marrying, since God's Word never "forbids" it... it is a human extrapolation. So, presumably if one is going to be consistent on the notion of Christian Liberty, one would embrace grace on the topic of gay folk marrying or transgender folk going to the bathroom in the reasonably appropriate place, rather than the legalism of modern fundamentalist/conservatives.]

Using this approach, all manner of evil and craziness could be promoted as "coming from Scripture."

"There's this line in the Bible where God clearly okays the selling of one's daughters into forced marriages. This comes from Scripture and, thus God..."

No!

"I just read about how God told the Israelites to slaughter all the people of a nation when they invade, so that is how God wants us to deal with our enemies, it comes from Scripture..."

No!

This is the problem with the legalistic approach to using/misusing/abusing the Bible... Merely finding a passage and then, extrapolating OUT FROM that passage a human theory about what God wants (even when God never said so) is a potentially horrible idea. However, as long as you are fine with admitting it is your theory and NOT "God's Word," then okay, so perhaps it lets you extrapolate out bad or irrational theories, but it is clearly your theory and you gladly and humbly admit as much. We might could live with that. But the problem is when one conflates the extrapolated human theory with God's Word.

"It comes from Scripture..."

If it doesn't mesh with the teachings of Jesus, don't offer up an extrapolated theory as being a reasonable Christian tenet. If it sounds crazy and legalistic on the face of it, don't offer it up as a reasonable teaching of Jesus. If JESUS didn't say it, don't say it's a teaching of Jesus.

The idea, believe it or not, comes from a HUMAN head, not from God. It is something that humans are extrapolating out and imposing upon God when God has not said it. That is a bad idea. It is irrational and presumptuous and, quite possibly, even evil. Don't do that.

The one line Stan (and presumably others who might agree) got right is, "the case breaks down."

Indeed, the case breaks down when you move from an amusing "what if this were taken THAT way...?" party game about human theories and the Bible and move to "I've decided this is biblical and thus, what God wants. HEED MY WORD."

Bad, bad idea.

200 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

A note: I used the term "fundamentalist" to describe the subset of religious conservatism that, to my way of thinking and in my experience, are less open to dialog and more combative than regular conservative Christians. My parents, for instance, were conservative Christians, but they weren't fundamentalists. It is not intended to be an insult, just a way of differentiating.

Marshall Art said...

"I will point out that my response is not, of course, an attack on Stan, but on this human (and nutty-sounding) theory..."

"Nutty-sounding" to whom? Those who want to do things their own way without regard for what God is recorded to have commanded? Seems so.

"Also, I will note that Stan does not fully endorse the claim. He merely says he thinks "the case for the regulative principle of worship has merit.""

So Stan is only "kind of" nutty.

"Here we have a "principle" that Jesus never advocated being proposed as a serious Christian tenet."

This, of course, requires separating Jesus from God, as if two distinct and disparate entities. They are not. Thus, if God said it, so did Jesus. And unless Jesus later spoke on it (as He did with regards to what we eat), then it would be prudent to assume even the "obscure" teaching is still in effect.

"...even Stan notes is the reverse of a more reasonable and consistently biblical theory, the idea of Christian Liberty."

Even Stan notes a distinction between the two which you ignore. Anyone who has followed your stuff for even a short time would easily understand why you would find the idea of Christian Liberty to be more reasonable...it gives you license.

"The case is built almost entirely on one obscure passage from the OT..."

What difference does it make how "obscure" YOU insist a passage is? With this argument, one cannot Scripturally oppose bestiality, given that there is so little in Scripture on the topic. But when it conflicts with your preferred inventions, "obscurity" gives you license.

Why do you need God to tell you twice?

Out of time. More later.

Dan Trabue said...

"Nutty-sounding" to whom? Those who want to do things their own way without regard for what God is recorded to have commanded? Seems so.

Nutty-sounding to me and, I'm certain, a goodly number of other people. But specifically, to me. To those who want to do things their own way without regard to what God "is recorded" to have "commanded..."? You mean like God ordering his followers to sell their belongings and give it to the poor? You mean like God ordering his followers to not store up treasures on earth? You mean to people like you?

I don't want to do things "my own way..." I disagree with YOUR human hunches about what God does and doesn't want. Fortunately, I don't confuse you for God.

Stan is only "kind of" nutty.

I've been quite clear: I'm speaking of the IDEALS being spoken of, not attacking Stan. I specifically and literally am not calling Stan nutty. The IDEA, however, yes.

You see, unlike many fundamentalist-types, I'm able to talk about ideas and ideals without engaging in character assassination. Something worth learning.

This, of course, requires separating Jesus from God, as if two distinct and disparate entities. They are not. Thus, if God said it, so did Jesus.

God quite literally did not say it. Nor did Jesus. But, we look to Jesus, we who are his followers, because we believe that Jesus is the clearest expression of God that we have. Thus, we who are his followers, do well to interpret the whole Bible through the lens of Jesus' teachings, if we're serious about following him, not our interpretations of what God may or may not have meant in the OT.

Fortunately, I don't confuse God for our interpretations. Or yours.

Even Stan notes a distinction between the two which you ignore.

For this nutty-sounding theory to be rational at all and biblical at all, you'd have to say, "We have Christian liberty to do what God has not told us not to do... EXCEPT when it comes to worship. It's okay to usurp this clear teaching in favor of the obscure human theory because Stan has said it has merit and Stan speaks for God. We have no biblical reason to set aside the idea of Christian Liberty.

Do you ascribe to Christian Liberty as a valid principle?

What difference does it make how "obscure" YOU insist a passage is?

A huge one. Some of the basic orthodox rubrics for Bible study include...

Interpret the Bible based on striving to understand text, context, word usage and language.
Interpret the whole through the lens of Jesus' specific teachings.
Interpret the obscure through the lens of the clear.

So how obscure something is sorta is pretty critical in traditional Christian hermeneutics.

But when it conflicts with your preferred inventions, "obscurity" gives you license.

False claim. I am an incredibly moral person, given traditional Christian morality. Married faithfully to one woman for 31 years now. Don't drink, smoke or chew. Give to charities/causes. Work for and with the poor and marginalized. Etc. I'm seeking no license for immorality. I'm seeking God's Will. God has not told us this theory, some humans have. Fortunately, I don't confuse these humans with God.

God need only tell me once. God has not told me anything like this theory. Some humans have, but fortunately, I don't confuse those humans for God.

Craig said...

"You mean like God ordering his followers to sell their belongings and give it to the poor? You mean like God ordering his followers to not store up treasures on earth?"

You mean like God has rules about what people must do?
You mean like how you have followed that particular rule and sold all of your belongings?
I have to ask where God ordered all of His followers to sell their belongings and give to the poor.
Does that mean that you have followed "God's orders" and have absolutely zero savings, investments, and life insurance?
Does that mean that you have used the money that you would have used for your "treasures on earth", to give away to the poor?

Craig said...

"I am an incredibly moral person"

And incredibly, massively, unquestionably humble as well.

"God need only tell me once."

As long as you decide it's God telling you, or unless you balk at God telling you rules.

Dan Trabue said...

From my phone...

Where does Jesus tell his followers to sell their belongings? Luke 12.

Have I done this? No. I'm not a biblical literalist like you all are.

As long as I decide it's God telling me? Yes. I don't blindly follow humans speaking for God. You?

Craig said...

Your Luke 12 claim has 2 problems.

Either it's,

1. It's not a clear command for all times and everyone.

or,

2. It is a clear command for all times to all peoples and you have chosen to disobey a clear command.

I realize that neither of these problems gives you pause and the you are perfectly content to suggest that God has given you a clear command, while at the same time holding within your self the choice of whether to follow said clear command.

In essence, you're contradicting your self. It's either a command/rule to be followed or it's not. If it's a command, then you're who "no rules in the Bible" construct goes out the window as well as the fact that you are intentionally and knowingly choosing to ignore what you say is a command. If it's not a command, then who cares. It's just one more suggestion to be followed or not depending on ones whim.

Yes, it's been quite clear that you feel free to decide what is from God and what is not based on your own predilections.

Dan Trabue said...

I don't see how this is a problem for me. Now, for those who treat the Bible as a rule book or holy Magic 8 Ball where you just have to shake it up and find the rules that apply for you, then I can see how it's a problem for you or those type of people.

On the one hand, the legalists say there are rules - Universal rules - in the Bible that apply to all people at all times and all we need to do is figure out which ones (using our reasoning) are Universal and then apply them to our lives. Then the legalists have the question of, on what basis are you all ignoring this rule?

So, I can see how it's a problem for these legalists, but how is it a problem for me? The reason I brought it up is to give Marshall, now you, a chance to make some internally consistent and reasonable explanation. Not because I hold to this legalst approach to the bible.


Dan Trabue said...

Re: "based on my predilections..." No. Based upon my understanding of God as best I can reason it out. Just as is true for you. Or do you not even try to use a reason when reading the Bible and sorting out moral and Theological questions? I'm quite sure you do, just the same as I do. Unless you're willing to say you do not use your reasoning there is no difference between us on this point.

Craig said...

"I don't see how this is a problem for me"

1. You're the one who claims a commandment exists.
2. You're the one making the claim that this commandment is universal.
3. You're the one who proudly acknowledges that he makes the conscious choice not to obey the command you claim is made.

Now, of course, you don't see this a s problem. You never see a problem with establishing one standard for others and one for yourself. So, I completely understand why you don't see this as a problem.

"..a chance to make some internally consistent and reasonable explanation."

What. pray tell, do you demand that I explain this time? All I've done here is ask some questions to try to clarify your rather strange claims. So, by all means, please explain what it is that you demand that I explain. Do I need to explain the questions I've asked? Do I need to explain why you randomly answer some questions and not others? Do I need to explain someone else's post to you? Please, what must I explain.

Dan Trabue said...

Re: the morality question... I only bring it up because Marshall pay the false claim that I used really Christian Liberty for license. I was only pointing out that I do not use Christian Liberty as a license to sin in any major way. just as I am sure is true for you. You are almost certainly I generally moral fellow. Imperfect, to be sure, but you do not use your religious liberty as a license to sin. Am I wrong?

The only way I " use" Christian Liberty is in the defense of following God as best we understand it. Each of us. The whole traditional idea of the priesthood of the believer. Or, the whole idea of simple religious liberty.

Are you two coming out against the idea of Christian Liberty?

Craig said...

What the hell is your response about a morality question. Are you referring to my pointing out the extreme lack of humility and surplus of pride in yours statement "I am an incredibly moral person"?

By all means try to walk that back. The problem is that you really think that about yourself and don't understand the pride that statement represents. Nor do you understand that by measuring your "morality" based on how your external actions follow some "rules" seems contrary to your claims about the existence of rules.

Of course we all know how Jesus responded to people who claimed to do an excellent job of following the law.

Dan Trabue said...

I don't think you are immoral, Craig. I believe you are most likely a very moral person. Am I wrong?

There is no "walking that back." I am a moral person, a very moral person, as are all my friends and, I suspect, you. Feel free to disagree for yourself, if you wish, but I know my community and the people around me and by and large, we are all pretty moral people.

This, too, points to the same sort of hellish and insane legalism that is at the root of the problem in the theory Stan pointed out: You all lift verses out of the Bible, say that they are to be taken literally because, well, you say so, and thus, we are all hideously immoral, evil people. The data does not support that, at least in my circles. Maybe you live in more sick and evil circles than I do, but I bet not. I bet your view of humanity is colored by this legalistic approach to forcing a literalism on isolated biblical passages that simply don't merit it.

Are you coming out against the idea of Christian liberty?

Dan Trabue said...

1. You're the one who claims a commandment exists.
2. You're the one making the claim that this commandment is universal.
3. You're the one who proudly acknowledges that he makes the conscious choice not to obey the command you claim is made.

Now, of course, you don't see this a s problem. You never see a problem with establishing one standard for others and one for yourself. So, I completely understand why you don't see this as a problem.


No, you don't. The reason you "see," is not the reason at all.

Look, SOME people think the Bible is a rule book. That it contains rules for all times and all peoples.

Other people don't think that this is the case at all. That such a reading of the Bible is a disservice to the Bible, because one of the main themes running throughout the many stories in the Bible is the notion of freedom in Christ, of grace, not rules. One of the great lessons we learn from Jesus and the Pharisees (and later, members of the early church) is that trying to force a literal rulebook interpretation on God and God's ways, or on Scripture, is exactly backwards and wrong.

So, for the people who don't think the Bible is a rulebook, to say, "here's a rule found in the book, what do you do with that?" to a, let's call them "legalist," is not a problem. The Grace-believer is asking the Legalist, here's a rule, what do you think of it and why don't you obey this one, but think others ought to obey other rules? ...is not to say that teh Grace-believer believes in rules. It's the Grace-believer asking the legalist to explain themselves, to try to make some sense of the hit-and-miss/cherry pick approach to which rules they deem "universal."

So, with that said, to your three points:

1. No, I'm literally NOT saying that a universal rule exists and we ought to obey a rule because "the Bible..." I'm saying, for the legalist, here is a rule given NOT in the OT in an obscure context, but directly by Jesus in a pretty clear manner. On what basis do you ignore that rule, Legalist?

2. No, I'm literally NOT saying that. I'm literally saying the opposite.

3. I'm saying the rule is not a universal rule. We should save or not save, give to the poor or not give to the poor, based on our understanding of God, the context of the opportunity and time and the need involved. And ultimately, I'm saying that our decisions are decisions made from a place of grace. NOT rule-following. Not "hey, here's a line in the Bible. It's a rule, I say. Obey it."

Understand what I'm actually saying?

Dan Trabue said...

All I've done here is ask some questions to try to clarify your rather strange claims...

Do I need to explain the questions I've asked? Do I need to explain why you randomly answer some questions and not others?


No. You asked questions. I answered. Directly. Clearly. All of them. In the meantime, I've politely asked a few questions of you that remain unanswered. If answering questions is important to you, by all means, answer them when you get a chance. No hurry.

What. pray tell, do you demand that I explain this time?

So, by all means, please explain what it is that you demand that I explain.


I've demanded nothing. I've asked reasonable questions to those who advocate the theory that the Bible is a rule/rulings book and suggest that is the One True Way to read it.

For the Legalist, there are reasonable questions like,

Why do you think THIS rule is a universal rule but not THAT rule?

Do you have any consistent hermeneutic or rubric that would allow any and all objective readers to say without debate, "Oh, passages 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9a, and 12 are all universal rules, while passages 4, 5, 7, 9b, 10 and 11 are all NOT universal rules?

Do you have any internally (to the Bible) logical and consisten reason for insisting this rubric?

...these and other reasonable questions can fairly be asked of the Legalist. In this particular post, Marshall said...

"Nutty-sounding" to whom? Those who want to do things their own way without regard for what God is recorded to have commanded? Seems so.

Trying to imply (I'm sure, but we can ask him to clarify to be certain) that "liberals" don't "like" this theory because they are hedonists who have no use for rules or moral behavior. I turned this on the Legalist by asking the questions...



...to point out that there are rules that the traditional conservative Legalist does not follow, just like progressives don't heed the conservative interpretation of OT rules against "men laying with men..." The point being, we ALL ignore some lines in the Bible in the sense that we don't take them as universal rules, nor do we extract extra rules out from them. The difference between my tribe and yours is that we don't think ANY of the rules in the Bible are universal rules in and of themselves, that the Bible isn't a rulebook, so we are rationally consistent in ignoring one rule (especially a rule not from the Bible but from conservative extrapolation). It is the Legalist who needs to explain why This rule and not That one.

Do you get my point now?

Having said all of that, do either of you have anything to say to the point of the post?

Do you see where someone plucking one verse out of the OT and extrapolating out a Principle and trying to call it "Christian" and suggest it's a Godly rule is rather hard to believe? Do you see why this smacks to at least some as a hellish form of legalism that is irrational and does damage to serious Bible study and serious seeking of God's ways?

It's okay to say "No, I don't see why it's like that to some people..." I'm just curious.

Also, do you all disagree with the principle of Christian Liberty?

Craig said...

"I don't think you are immoral, Craig. I believe you are most likely a very moral person. Am I wrong?"

Given that you don't actually know me at all, this is quite the fantastic statement. You have absolutely zero criteria to make this judgement, nor are your able to articulate an objective standard defining morality, but despite that lack of foundation you feel comfortable making that judgement.

"There is no "walking that back." I am a moral person, a very moral person, as are all my friends..."

I had no doubt that you would not want to walk back a statement so full of pride.

"Are you coming out against the idea of Christian liberty?"

Given the absence of an objective definition of "Christian Liberty", I hesitate to comment due to your propensity to take my agreement with an undefined term and then pour into that term whatever meaning helps your current position.

"Look, SOME people think the Bible is a rule book. That it contains rules for all times and all peoples."

1. You are the one who articulated that this is a "command" from God not me, so you need to deal with your inconsistency not mine.
2. Simply because you make the claim that the Bible is "not a rule book", doesn't simply erase the fact that the Bible does actually contain "rules" (commandments is probably a more accurate term, but if you balk at rules you'd balk at commandments). Some of those rules are time and people specific, some are not. That doesn't mean they aren't there, it just means that you've decided that this "rule book" silliness is enough to allow you to ignore any commandments you find problematic or to dismiss God's commandments as simply utilitarian constructs.


Craig said...

"You mean like God ordering his followers to sell their belongings and give it to the poor?"

Those are your words not anyone else's.

1. You still haven't demonstrated that what you claim is a "order" is actually a universal command. Until you do, your flawed premise undermines any point you might have tried to make. Further, your characterization of Stan's point in this case in inaccurate. Stan was quite clear that the doctrine he cited was worthy of consideration, not that it should be blindly accepted and followed without question.

2. Your literal words dispute your claim.

3. Again, your words say otherwise.

I do understanding that you are now trying to re cast your words in a different light.

Craig said...

"No. You asked questions. I answered. Directly. Clearly. All of them."


"You mean like God has rules about what people must do?
You mean like how you have followed that particular rule and sold all of your belongings?
I have to ask where God ordered all of His followers to sell their belongings and give to the poor.
Does that mean that you have followed "God's orders" and have absolutely zero savings, investments, and life insurance?
Does that mean that you have used the money that you would have used for your "treasures on earth", to give away to the poor?"

I guess I missed the clear direct answers to the above questions, I can't help but think that you would be willing to point out the answers you've already given in the interest of clarity.

"I've demanded nothing..."

Nothing but that I,

"...make some internally consistent and reasonable explanation."

of a position I haven't advocated. As I pointed out, all I've done here is ask questions. You you want me to provide an explanation for something someone else said. Do you really think it's reasonable that I explain something said by someone else? Do you really expect me to answer questions not directed to me?

"Why do you think THIS rule is a universal rule but not THAT rule?"

Context, context, context. Syntax, syntax, syntax.

"Do you have any internally (to the Bible) logical and consisten reason for insisting this rubric?"

Since I've never articulated any "rubric", nor have I insisted on a "rubric", I can only deduce that your question is based on your imaginary hunch about something I may (or may not) actually think not on a position I have actually articulated. I can't believe that you could possibly think it reasonable that I defend a "rubric" that I have not articulated or insisted on.

"Do you get my point now?"

I've always gotten your point, I was just pointing out your inconsistency. It's been clear that you rebel against any sort of external, objective, limits on human behavior.

"Do you see where someone plucking one verse out of the OT and extrapolating out a Principle and trying to call it "Christian" and suggest it's a Godly rule is rather hard to believe?"

Given that you deny the existence of any "Godly" rules, I understand your reaction. The problem you have is that Stan has not actually done what you claim he has done.

"Do you see why this smacks to at least some as a hellish form of legalism that is irrational and does damage to serious Bible study and serious seeking of God's ways?"

Again, I understand that you regard any objective, external "rules" to all be "hellish" and "legalistic" and that you can't be bothered to do anything but lump anything you deem a "rule" as "hellish" and "legalistic". I do not, however, see any problem with seriously studying the Bible (even the "obscure" parts) and trying to grapple with the implications therein. I find that studying the Bible is actually what people do when they are "seriously" seeking God's ways.




Dan Trabue said...

Given that you don't actually know me at all, this is quite the fantastic statement. You have absolutely zero criteria to make this judgement, nor are your able to articulate an objective standard defining morality

Of course I have criteria to make the judgement. You are a Christian. You are committed to following the God of Love. You visit third world nations to help those in need... in my circles, knowing that much about most people tells me that they tend to be pretty moral people. I know a goodly number of people like you and, based on my experience with committed conservative Christians (like my parents, like my Sunday School teachers, like my best men in my wedding/best friends growing up), these people tend to be quite moral people.

But you tell me, Craig: Are you grossly immoral? Generally evil?

I had no doubt that you would not want to walk back a statement so full of pride.

No, not pride. Just as a point of fact, you are mistaken if you think that is my motive. No, just a realistic assessment of my own life and the life of most people, in my experience, certainly most church folk I've been around.

But if you have some reason to call me on this, by all means, what do you accuse me of doing? Adultery? Murder? Theft? Slander? Gossip? (I know, I know, those aren't real sins... [snark])? Rape? Deliberately bearing false witness? What? Accuse away, if you so choose.

Dan Trabue said...

"You mean like God has rules about what people must do?

No. I'm not a biblical literalist like you all are.

You mean like how you have followed that particular rule and sold all of your belongings?

No. I'm not a biblical literalist like you all are.

I have to ask where God ordered all of His followers to sell their belongings and give to the poor.

Luke 12

Does that mean that you have followed "God's orders" and have absolutely zero savings, investments, and life insurance?

No. I'm not a biblical literalist like you all are.

Does that mean that you have used the money that you would have used for your "treasures on earth", to give away to the poor?"

No. I'm not a biblical literalist like you all are.

I guess I missed the clear direct answers to the above questions,

Pointed out for you a second time, directly, line by line. In case the first time was not clear enough for you. Sorry if it wasn't, I thought you would be able to follow.

Marshall Art said...

Continuing with my responses to the post itself, with responses to Dan's later comments...later.

"I will note here that I find Stan's description of Christian Liberty interesting, as taken literally, it would destroy his arguments against gay folk marrying, since God's Word never "forbids" it... it is a human extrapolation."

What it is is a reasonable and logical extrapolation based on what God's Word actually says with regards to the sexual behavior of homosexuals. If the behavior is prohibited, given that such behavior is an abomination, then to pretend that God would endorse, enable or condone any sort of union that is based upon the carnal desires that result in such abominable behavior is both ludicrous and wicked. Yet, you presume Christian Liberty would provide license to engage in the behavior if the participants commit to each other in some facsimile of marriage.

A actual reasonable person would not be so deceitful as to insist that God would have to specifically address SSM if the sexual behaviors of homosexuals are already prohibited by Him, without regard to any context or scenario in which it might take place.

"Using this approach, all manner of evil and craziness could be promoted as "coming from Scripture.""

That some people, like yourself, abuse Scripture for whatever reason, does not negate the merits of the Regulative Principle of Worship. Your reference to selling one's daughter has no relation to the principle, since that is easily rejected as something to which one might refer as a universal command still in effect. And even if one who thinks selling one's daughter is universal, such a person would find little, if any, scholarly support for the notion, whereas the Principle in question does have some.

"Merely finding a passage and then, extrapolating OUT FROM that passage a human theory about what God wants (even when God never said so) is a potentially horrible idea."

It certainly seems so when purposely using crappy examples that normal people would never claim are obliging us to do anything of the kind, such as slaughtering the people of a nation we invade or selling one's daughter. As always, you find ("cherry-pick" if you will) the most ludicrous examples as if there are actually cases that demonstrate anyone has ever interpreted Scripture so poorly. Slavery support was bad enough. Your examples are just insulting toward those who might abide the Principle in question.

What's more, your idiotic argument against "legalism" is no more than rationalizing your disdain for those teachings you prefer to ignore.

"However, as long as you are fine with admitting it is your theory and NOT "God's Word,"..."

As the Principle in question is clearly based on God's Word, as pointed out in Stan's post, regardless of the obscurity of the passage in which it is found, then it is not a human invention at all, even if neither God the Father or Son referred to it as "the Regulative Principle of Worship". You seem to think that we are not allowed to put a name to principles found in Scripture for which God/Jesus Himself has no provided an name. Where does that come from? Naming a principle merely allows for everyone to talk more easily about the principle itself. But the principle exists with or without anyone labeling it in any way. Only the name of it can be called human invention.

continuing...

Dan Trabue said...

"Those are your words, not anyone else's."

They reflect a literal interpretation of JESUS' words to his followers, in Luke's Sermon on the Plain. Here, in context, are a series of (if you are one who believes the Bible is a rule book) rules, directly from Jesus directly to his followers:

And He [Jesus] said to His disciples,

“For this reason I say to you,

do not worry about your life,
as to what you will eat;
nor for your body,
as to what you will put on.


For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?

If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink,
and do not keep worrying.


For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
Do not be afraid, little flock
,

for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Sell your possessions and
give to charity;

make yourselves money belts which do not wear out,
an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


If one is scouring the Bible, looking for rules to implement as "Rulings From God On How To Live," this passage would be one of them, with directives from Jesus to his followers on how to live.

The question then, for the Legalists:

On what basis do you not take these commands as literal commands? Why ignore Jesus' direct commands, but at the same time, take an OT passage about "men lying with men" and suggest that, even though it doesn't directly say it, this and the four other passages that sound similar are a condemnation of any gay sex, including in the context of a marriage relationship? Or why, when Genesis and Jesus use lines like "for this reason, a man shall leave his parent and cling to his wife..." (going from memory) that THIS line is a "definition" of marriage and thus, the "ruling" from "God" is that men can only marry women and vice versa?

These are reasonable questions that the legalists need to answer, to be taken seriously. Put another way: The Legalist position begs these questions.

And so, if you are a legalist (one who believes the Bible is a rulings book where we find rules directly from God on how we should live, what is and isn't right or wrong), what are your answers to these questions?

Or, do you, with me, reject the notion that the Bible is a rulings book?

Marshall Art said...

"If it doesn't mesh with the teachings of Jesus..."

Problems with the above:

---This suggests that every teaching of the OT MUST be specifically and distinctly repeated by Jesus or else we are free to reject it.

---This still requires one separating Jesus from God, as if Christ is not a reflection of God who clearly taught the exact opposite.

---Jesus gave us evidence or teachings regarding why some OT laws no longer apply, while seemingly making other even more strict (lust=adultery, hate=murder).

---Jesus taught us to obey God. He didn't go over each of the 600+ commandments God gave.

"The idea, believe it or not, comes from a HUMAN head, not from God."

Again, the idea comes from Scripture, as Stan cited Exodus, Leviticus, Matthew and Colossians to show. The name of the Principle in question is man-made.

"It is something that humans are extrapolating out and imposing upon God when God has not said it."

Naming a principle is not doing this at all. Again, the principle exists with or without a name applied to it by humans.

"That is a bad idea. It is irrational and presumptuous and, quite possibly, even evil."

No. It's a great idea as it makes teaching and learning that much easier to have names applied to principles of Scripture for easy reference. What is irrational is to pretend there is some negative or evil attached to doing so. What is presumptuous is believing you have the right to accuse anyone of evil for doing so.

" Indeed, the case breaks down when you move from an amusing "what if this were taken THAT way...?" party game about human theories and the Bible and move to "I've decided this is biblical and thus, what God wants. HEED MY WORD.""

Aside from yourself, I don't see that as a common problem at all. For example, I don't "decide" that anything is Biblical. I find what the Bible says to be Biblical. If I have any doubt or confusion about what a particular verse or passage is teaching, I seek out scholarly explanations that will hopefully make it more clear. These explanations use all the hermeneutics you only claim to abide as you truly "decide" what Jesus is teaching while being woefully unable to support your "theory".

In following comments, I will begin to address responses to my comments responding to the post.

Dan Trabue said...

1. You still haven't demonstrated that what you claim is a "order" is actually a universal command.

No, the Grace-believer does not need to defend the Legalist's position. The onus is on the Legalist to explain why they reject Jesus' literal commands (that is, the language are declarations to his followers: Do this, Don't do that... a "command" in the English language, if one takes it to be coming from a Rulings Book) and yet insist on interpretations of other "rulings" are universal.

Since I've never articulated any "rubric", nor have I insisted on a "rubric", I can only deduce that your question is based on your imaginary hunch about something I may (or may not) actually think not on a position I have actually articulated. I can't believe that you could possibly think it reasonable that I defend a "rubric" that I have not articulated or insisted on.

Perhaps so. Are you saying that the Bible does not have rules for us to live by? Universal rules that God intends for us to take literally? That, for instance, we should not engage in bestiality because there is a line in the OT (a rule given literally and specifically to the ancient Israelis) that condemns it and THAT LINE is the reason to not engage in bestiality. THAT LINE is the "ruling" that lets us know this is wrong to do and, IF that line wasn't there, bestiality would be okay?

Or, for instance, because there are four-five lines in the Bible that sound like to you and your faith community they're talking about and condemning some form of homosexual behavior, and that you all conclude it's talking about ALL forms of homosexual behavior and so, BECAUSE THOSE lines are in the Bible, we can "know" that two guys marrying is immoral/wrong?

That is, do you think that there are rules in the Bible that God intends for us to read and realize some moral rules? If so, given the many, many declarative lines/"commands"/rules found in the stories of the Bible, which ones are universal and on what bases do we "know" this?

Or do you reject the Bible-as-rulebook approach to morality?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

This suggests that every teaching of the OT MUST be specifically and distinctly repeated by Jesus or else we are free to reject it.

The OT rules were given literally and specifically to the ancient Israelis. IF one reads the text literally. So, yes, IF you are claiming that the Bible is a rule book, then you need SOME reason to explain which rules given specifically and literally and only to the OT Israelis are universal and how you "know" this.

That ball is in your court.

the idea comes from Scripture, as Stan cited Exodus, Leviticus, Matthew and Colossians to show. The name of the Principle in question is man-made.

Yes, the name did. AND so did the theory. The theory is literally NOT IN THE BIBLE. There are stories with some lines that some humans lifted out and created a THEORY, but it is not espoused in Scripture. Literally Not.

Dan Trabue said...

A actual reasonable person would not be so deceitful as to insist that God would have to specifically address SSM if the sexual behaviors of homosexuals are already prohibited by Him

Well, that's the question, isn't it? You say yes, the Bible is a rule book and, in YOUR PERSONAL HUMAN OPINION, God condemns all gay sex.

I say, NO, the Bible is not a rule book and, even so, God never condemns all gay sex.

Begging the question, Marshall.

Your reference to selling one's daughter has no relation to the principle, since that is easily rejected as something to which one might refer as a universal command still in effect. And even if one who thinks selling one's daughter is universal, such a person would find little, if any, scholarly support for the notion, whereas the Principle in question does have some.

Really? Scholars outside those who already agree with the notion of the Bible as a rule book? Name some. Or, if you're only citing those who already agree with you, you're just engaging in more question begging and these question remain begged.

As always, you find ("cherry-pick" if you will) the most ludicrous examples as if there are actually cases that demonstrate anyone has ever interpreted Scripture so poorly.

The point being is that there are all manner of "rules" that can be found in the Bible and that you don't think they are all universal. Fair enough. Why? On what basis are some universal and some not? What is your rationally consistent rubric for making such a declaration? Where does the Bible itself teach that some are and some aren't? Or that the Bible is a rule book, THE "sola scriptura" final authority? Answer: It doesn't. That is a human theory advanced by some as "inescapable..." but it "inescapable" only to those who agree with the idea. Circular reasoning, in other words.

Questions remain begged.

Marshall Art said...

"The OT rules were given literally and specifically to the ancient Israelis."

As the Bible clearly relates to us in Leviticus 18, the sexual prohibitions contained therein were behaviors that were practiced in both the land the Hebrews left as well as the land to which they were traveling. God told them not to do as those peoples did with regard to those sexual practices. Your position suggests that God did NOT find the behaviors objectionable to Him when practiced by these other peoples, but only when practiced by His Chosen People. This is idiotic at best. Or perhaps you are suggesting that God didn't care about those practices regardless of who engaged in them until He prohibited the Hebrews from engaging in them. THEN it was sinful for the Egyptians and Canaanites.

OR, despite your claim of serious and prayerful study, you ignore this detail for the sake of your homosexual friends.

"...you need SOME reason to explain which rules given specifically and literally and only to the OT Israelis are universal and how you "know" this."

I just did that above with my citation of Leviticus 18. But it takes a special kind of liar to pretend that distinctions are not obvious for at least some of the over 600 commandments God gave His Chosen. Murder, stealing and lying for example are universally prohibited behaviors. You'll suggest it is due to harm. There is no Biblical support for that...none you've ever been able to cite.

Also, as stated earlier, Jesus clearly clarifies other rules as being universal by explaining just how fervently we are to avoid them...lust=adultery, hate=murder. He also teaches that nothing that we eat can make us unclean, but only what comes from us does. That eliminates purity laws, including laws for purification (washing after touching dead animals, a woman recusing herself during her menstrual cycle, etc.) Then there is the deal about circumcision no longer being necessary, as explained by Paul. He never says we no longer have to avoid murdering people, or lying or stealing. Behavioral laws are never spoken of as being no longer in effect in any way. And while Paul reiterates that there is no longer male or female, Jew or Gentile, etc., he never implies in the least that there is no distinction between behaviors that please God versus those that displease Him.

These are just the tip of the iceberg regarding how we know which rules are still applicable to the modern Christian versus which are not. And again, Paul speaks of the Law still having the purpose of informing us of what sinful behavior is. Do you really thing he's referring to mixing fabrics or the length of hair on the sides of our heads?

And then, of course, is the context in which we see rules or commands given. You point to Luke 12 in answer to Craig's question. In the context of that chapter, Jesus is clearly speaking to specific people (His disciples) about a specific action, whereas God in Leviticus 18 is speaking about specific behaviors He finds displeasing and prohibiting them...behaviors that were displeasing to Him already, having been practiced by other peoples before He forbade His Chosen.

continuing...

Marshall Art said...

"Yes, the name did. AND so did the theory. The theory is literally NOT IN THE BIBLE. There are stories with some lines that some humans lifted out and created a THEORY, but it is not espoused in Scripture. Literally Not."

This is like full blown lying here. I referenced Stan's citations from Scripture and you still insist the principle is not from Scripture. (And you confuse "theory" with "principle"...two words that are not synonymous. Stop doing that.) Said another way, the principle is LITERALLY in Scripture, or more accurately, the principle is implied by the passages/verses cited by Stan (and others). This is not to say that anyone's salvation is dependent upon adhering to the principle, and no doubt there's no way people like you revere God enough to care how He might want you to worship Him, but that doesn't mean the principle doesn't exist in Scripture. It doesn't need to be named to exist. Not having a name in Scripture by which the principle is referred only gives you license to pretend it doesn't.

"Well, that's the question, isn't it? You say yes, the Bible is a rule book and, in YOUR PERSONAL HUMAN OPINION, God condemns all gay sex.

I say, NO, the Bible is not a rule book and, even so, God never condemns all gay sex."


First, I don't say the Bible is a rule book. YOU say I say that. You need to say that so that you can dismiss it when rules, commands, principles and teachings from Scripture are inconvenient for you.

But whether the Bible is a rule book or not doesn't matter. All that matters is whether or not a given behavior is prohibited. Homosexual behavior is prohibited. Period. There is no suggestion of any context or scenario in which it might be allowed or tolerated. None. There's no hint that a "loving, committed and monogamous" homosexual relationship would make any difference as to the sinfulness of the behavior, that somehow it would NOT then be an abomination. No hint whatsoever. None that you've ever been able to present. There's nothing that places any doubt on the clear and unambiguous condemnation of the behavior as an abomination.

There's also no hint that "marriage" means anything else but the union of one man and one woman in Scripture. There's nothing that hints the word is ripe for alteration should anyone decide that arrangement isn't attractive.

And there's without a doubt (not to put too fine a point on it) no hint of any reason to suspect that God's prohibition did NOT refer to "ALL" homosexual sex. None whatsoever. One would have to desire homosexual sex, or one would have to want to defend homosexual sex to even suggest that there might be any possibility at all that God was NOT referring to "ALL" homosexual sex. Just as you insist that God says nothing about "gay" marriage, there is even less reason (read: no reason) to pretend that He might condone, tolerate or bless it. THAT is an example of people like you inventing, indeed out of whole cloth, that which is absolutely not only unbiblical, but wholly unchristian.

continuing...

Marshall Art said...

"Really? Scholars outside those who already agree with the notion of the Bible as a rule book? Name some."

The following are sites that deal with the principle in question. You tell me if these are people who you would accuse as regarding the Bible as a rule book alone:

http://www.westminsterconfession.org/worship/the-scriptural-regulative-principle-of-worship.php

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/regulative-principle-worship/

http://www.reformedprescambridge.com/articles/ICRC_RPW_Final.pdf

http://reformedperspectives.org/newfiles/joh_frame/Frame.Ethics2005.AFreshLookattheRegulativePrinciple.pdf

http://reformedperspectives.org/newfiles/ric_pratt/TH.Pratt.Reg.Princ.pdf

http://frame-poythress.org/a-fresh-look-at-the-regulative-principle-a-broader-view/

Two are from the same guy, but one is far more detailed than the other. These are just some examples that should satisfy your request, despite the likelihood that you'll accuse them of being literalists or proponents of the Bible as a rule book, as if that's somehow a bad thing despite your inability to explain why. But here's my favorite from Wiki:

"The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and Anabaptists [except Dan] on how the Bible orders public worship."

Your final paragraph merely repeats you questions that have been answered in a manner you have yet to rebut with any success. But it ends with this:

"That is a human theory advanced by some as "inescapable..." but it "inescapable" only to those who agree with the idea. Circular reasoning, in other words."

Nonsense and stupidity. It is advanced by those who have studied Scripture and discovered the principle within its pages and have given it a name for the purpose of easy reference. Discovering a principle and then "agreeing with it", or more accurately, adhering to it, is not circular reasoning. But then, you have a hard time with understanding principles...why would circular reasoning be any different?

Marshall Art said...

One final thing for now: I do not consider the Bible merely a "rule book" no matter how it serves you to accuse me of such. I consider the Bible God's revelation of Himself to us, which includes His teachings regarding behaviors He finds pleasing to Him as well as those He prohibits us from engaging in if we are to consider ourselves true children of Him. To call them "rules for living a Christian life" is not beyond the realm of reasonable. They certainly aren't mere suggestions. So you go ahead and pretend you can't tell the difference between universal rules and those commands that are no longer binding on us because of Christ's sacrificial death. Good luck with that. I hope you have a better explanation for rejecting God's will when your time comes than you do when challenged by people like me or Craig. You'll need it.

Craig said...

So, God orders you to do something in Luke 12, and you choose not to follow God's order. I guess that says it all right there.

Craig said...

"Or, do you, with me, reject the notion that the Bible is a rulings book?"

1. I've never characterized the Bible as a "rulings book" nor as a "rule book".
2. Despite the fact that your arbitrary label does not fit 100% of the Bible (nor does your attempt to falsely represent how others view the Bible), the fact remains that the Bible does contain commands and rules that we are supposed to obey. Simply applying and arbitrary label doesn't mitigate this fact.
3. You still haven't proven your premise (that the Luke 12 passage is an "order" to all believers throughout history). Given that why should anyone take anything based on your unproven premise seriously.

Thank you for the illuminating responses to my questions. I wouldn't dignify them with the term answers, but responses are better than what you usually provide.

"Perhaps so."

Not perhaps so, definitely so. I love how you make up some load of crap out of whole cloth, then when confronted with your false claim don't have the courage to simply admit your mistake but instead equivocate and try to leave yourself some way that your fantasy can still be correct.

Given your refusal to simply admit your mistake, I see no reason to engage with any questions you've asked based on the wholly imaginary position you have ascribed to me until you can admit your mistake. Once you do that I'll happily help you along from there. What I will not do is enable you in maintaining your fantasy based claims.


MA,

You've gone to great lengths to give Dan plenty to consider. Since I've made the two main points I wanted to, I'll just watch in the absence of any direct questions.

Craig said...

"The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and Anabaptists..."

Sorry, but as I've pointed out this is not the first example of an Anabaptist teaching that Dan chooses to ignore, just the most recent.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig: Are you a moral person? Are you a very immoral person?

If your answer is yes to the latter, on what basis would I give much heed to what a self-professed very immoral person has to say?

As to the rest of your misrepresentations of what I've said (or misunderstandings, depending on if you're a very immoral person, perhaps), I'll leave them sitting unaddressed partially due to a lack of time, but primarily because they just don't represent what I've said, or what has happened in the real world here. Also, I'll wait to see if you are answering my questions, to verify that you're trying to engage in a conversation here, as opposed to just nitpick and try to be divisive and bitter. Because, why would I spend too much time dealing with the false and divisive claims of a purposefully divisive and very immoral person?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

This is like full blown lying here...

it takes a special kind of liar to pretend that distinctions are not obvious


Did you know you talk and reason like Donald Trump? It's not enough for you to say, "Hey, Dan disagrees with me..." You have to jump to "he's a special kind of liar, it's full blown lying... 100 %, totally, he's a liar... He's a lying liarly liar!"

That someone disagrees with you is not evidence that they are lying. You, too, are being unnecessarily divisive and in the process, making obvious and overt false claims (interestingly, you're lying... although I would prefer to call it an obvious false claim, giving you the benefit of the doubt that you've convinced yourself of this rather inane claim, rather than deliberately telling a falsehood... which is to say, I'm willing to give you some grace that you're not willing to extend, yourself.)

But I will ask you to tone it down if you want to engage in conversations here. The divisiveness and ugliness of your arguments are just not worth wading through. I'm willing to engage in respectful conversation if you are. That ball will be in your park.

But to address a couple of points...

Marshall...

The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and Anabaptists [except Dan] on how the Bible orders public worship."

Indeed, I'm quite sure it is shared by some anabaptists. What of it? It is not shared by others. Pfft. What's that say except that people don't agree on it, that it is not a universally accepted human theory.

Anabaptists (and many others) also believe in the theory of the priesthood of the believers. If you're not familiar with this idea, it's the notion that, while I may disagree with your interpretation, I recognize the importance of giving you the chance to understand God the best you can, even if it disagrees with my understanding. It is a Grace-based Christian tenet, and a very reasonable one, in addition to being quite biblical.

I'd encourage you to embrace that grace.

Marshall...

whether the Bible is a rule book or not doesn't matter. All that matters is whether or not a given behavior is prohibited. Homosexual behavior is prohibited. Period.

? That is an internally contradictory statement, Marshall. IF the Bible is NOT a rule book, then that some people find a line that, to them, suggests there was a rule against all gay sex would not matter. It's only if one considers it a rule/rulings book that such lines cherry picked out of the Bible matters.

More later.

Craig said...

I've been stuck on Dan's earlier statement that he is "an incredibly moral person" and how morality and believers should relate.

I'll start with the fact that it's clear that Dan doesn't consider humility a moral quality just on the face of the statement. But let's go deeper.

I've asked Dan many times for an objective moral standard, which he has been unable or unwilling to provide. Further, a quick search of dictionaries suggests that from a sociological standpoint that morality is a fluid concept that hinges on the society or group and that it is both subjective and comparative. It is also, essentially, a measure of behavior against societal norms.

So, as to Dan's claim. By definition it cannot be a claim of objective fact, it also cannot be evaluated without knowing with whom he is comparing himself. The reality of his claim is that he is saying that he "incredibly moral" as compared to someone else. We can also say that it is based specifically on his adherence to certain behaviors that he considers moral and the avoidance of behaviors he considers immoral. Obviously this is problematic absent any context. If he is claiming to be "incredibly moral" compared to Bill Clinton, then the bar isn't particularly high and as such is a fairly shallow claim. If he is claiming to be "incredibly moral" compared to Jesus, then it clearly demonstrates an inordinately high opinion of himself.

Having said that, what should this look like for believers. Three thoughts.

1. Jesus didn't call us to be "moral", He called us to be "holy".
2. Jesus didn't place emphasis primarily on outward appearances and actions but on motivation and condition of the heart.
3. As believers we live in the tension between our positional holiness and our practical sinfulness. While Christ has declared that we stand before God's judgement covered by His holiness, we still live in a fallen sinful world which has not yet been fully reconciled to God.

This is certainly a topic that could go into much greater detail and it's possible that I will develop it further. I'm left with the sense that Jesus isn't as concerned with our outward appearance of "morality", as He is with our increasing move towards the holiness found in Him.

In closing, I've had a pastor repeat this quite a few times and I become more and more convinced of it each time. Essentially the more we focus on the holiness of God, the more aware we become of our own sin contrasted with God's holiness.

Fortunately, we don't have to bridge that gap be behaving "morally" or by an outward appearance of "moral" living, Jesus already bridged that gap for us.

Craig said...

"Craig: Are you a moral person? Are you a very immoral person?"

As my last comment indicates, I don't think it is a particularly helpful measure. If I say yes, then I am simply giving into vanity and pride while comparing myself to others who I believe to be less moral than I. If I say no, then you will simply use it as one more reason to ignore points that I make and fail to answer questions.

So I say, that I am a sinner saved through the grace of God striving (poorly at times, but striving) to follow the example set by Jesus while at the same time thankful and grateful that His sacrifice will allow me to stand before God in the fullness and reality of my salvation and to be fully reconciled with God.


As to the rest of your comment. I admire how you've taken virtually my exact explanation for why I was not addressing the questions you had based on a false premise until you had dealt with the underlying problem you had, and turned it around to make it sound like my quotes of your exact words were somehow misrepresenting you. I always admire chutzpah. This is an excellent example of it.

But feel free to correct, your mistaken premise and ask your questions again in light of the reality of my position not based on your fabricated version of my position. If you would do so, you would find that I am (as usual) willing to answer any and all questions grounded in reality and directed towards me.

Craig said...

"Did you know you talk and reason like Donald Trump? It's not enough for you to say, "Hey, Dan disagrees with me..." You have to jump to "he's a special kind of liar, it's full blown lying... 100 %, totally, he's a liar... He's a lying liarly liar!""

Of course in the real world, this sort of thing was made popular by that paragon of right wing conservatism Al Franken.

But feel free to ignore inconvenient things like that when it suits you

Craig said...

"That someone disagrees with you is not evidence that they are lying."

But it is evidence of "Insanity" and "Hellish"ness.

Anonymous said...

Craig, perhaps you're not understanding the line of questions put to you, but they seem to be a fairly simple to understand. I'll repeat this one more time for you. The answer to THIS line of questions is all I'm seeking from you right now, not your mixed theories on all matter of other ideas.

Are you a very moral man?

If not, are you a very immoral man?

If you are a very immoral man, on what basis should I heed anything you say?

You are mocking me for stating that I think I and you and my friends and church folk, my parents, the folk I knew growing up, and, really, many people are basically moral people.

By that I mean that they generally speaking strive to do the right things, even if we all do that imperfectly. And, if it's not clear to you, by "doing the right things," I mean do things that are kind, helpful, promoting of love and life and good care for ourselves and one another.

Given that clarification, are you a very moral man, as are most of my friends and family? OR, are you a very immoral man? Or somewhere in between?

I want the answer to that question, for the reasons offered. But, in addition to that question being answered, I'll entertain the question that YOU raised: Are you a holy man? Do you generally have positive, helpful, kind, loving motivations of the heart?

Please answer the questions being asked of you or move on and we'll let your silence speak for itself.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

If I say yes, then I am simply giving into vanity and pride while comparing myself to others who I believe to be less moral than I. If I say no, then you will simply use it as one more reason to ignore points that I make and fail to answer questions.

If I ask you, Craig, do you take trips to Haiti to do things to help folk there? And you answer Yes, is that "giving into vanity," or is it simply affirming the truth of things? If I ask someone, "Do you often, maybe even the majority of the times, try to do things for Goodness' sake... that is, to try to be helpful, not harmful, to promote love and life and kindness, not hate or destruction or wickedness?" and they answer Yes... is that giving in to vanity or is it simply stating a fact?

Again, I suspect that you have bought into the theory that humanity is "utterly depraved" to such a degree, that you can't even admit that you are basically a good guy, striving to do good things with good intentions in your heart.

Or perhaps you truly don't do this. Perhaps you truly do things with evil and harmful intent. But I doubt it.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

As to your suggestion that it's not a helpful measure, I respectfully disagree.

If one self-confesses to being a very immoral person, then for what good reason would I heed anything they say? Even assuming that they are NOT a very immoral person, but are, instead, expressing a false modesty (ie, they know they generally strive to do the right things, but will make a false claim and pretend to be very immoral, even when they aren't, because... well for whatever reason!), then are their words something that can be trusted?

Do you agree that it is reasonable to NOT trust someone who claims to be very immoral or to rely upon what they say?

Would you agree that expressing a false modesty is, in and of itself, a lie and render that person's word unreliable? What else will they be willing to lie about?

~Dan

Craig said...

This entire discussion boils down to a few basic questions.

1. Are there any limits on what is appropriate in corporate worship at all?
2. If a book contains any rules does that automatically classify it as a "rule book"?
3. If a book, or compilation of books contain a number of different genres of literature, dose that fact automatically invalidate one of the genres?
4. Does the human construct of "Christian Liberty" automatically trump the human construct of "Regulated Worship", even though both have scriptural support? If so, why?
5. Does the construct of "Christian Liberty" have any limits at all?

Craig said...

"Craig, perhaps you're not understanding the line of questions put to you,..."

I understand them, I've pointed out that some of them are based on a flawed premise. Given that, answering them just adds to the confusion.


With the understanding that I've addressed the problems I have with the premise behind the question and my previous answers, I'll try once more.

Are you a very moral man?

Compared to Jesus, no. Compared to Hitler yes. This is a question that cannot be answered objectively. Certainly no way to answer with humility.

If not, are you a very immoral man?

Compared to Jesus, yes. Compared to Hitler, no. Again, no way to answer objectively.

"If you are a very immoral man, on what basis should I heed anything you say?"

I've never claimed you should heed anything I say. My perceived/comparative morality has nothing to do with it.

"You are mocking me for stating that I think I and you and my friends and church folk, my parents, the folk I knew growing up, and, really, many people are basically moral people."

Nope.

"Given that clarification, are you a very moral man, as are most of my friends and family? OR, are you a very immoral man? Or somewhere in between?"

Given the fact that you've already asked these questions do you really expect me to answer again?

"I want the answer to that question, for the reasons offered. But, in addition to that question being answered, I'll entertain the question that YOU raised: Are you a holy man? Do you generally have positive, helpful, kind, loving motivations of the heart?"

Feel free, but I suspect I know your answer. I've already dealt with the topic.

"Please answer the questions being asked of you or move on and we'll let your silence speak for itself."

Answered again, but you'll ascribe whatever motives you want to me.

"Or perhaps you truly don't do this. Perhaps you truly do things with evil and harmful intent. But I doubt it."

I look at what scripture says about human nature and assume that I'm human.

"Do you agree that it is reasonable to NOT trust someone who claims to be very immoral or to rely upon what they say?"

Never really thought about it. I guess I'd say that not much is truly impossible.

"As to your suggestion that it's not a helpful measure, I respectfully disagree."

Of course your do. Morality is rooted in simply engaging in actions that don't violate the norms of your community and is transient, subjective, and simply an external expression of conformity. Anything else implies an objective standard of right and wrong, which you quite clearly don't embrace.

"Would you agree that expressing a false modesty is, in and of itself, a lie and render that person's word unreliable?"

By definition, "false modesty" is false. The problem is that in the absence of evidence your conclusion about someone else's modesty is subjective and not rooted in reality.

"What else will they be willing to lie about?"

I don't know. Again, without evidence of the initial lie, it becomes pointless to try to judge anything else. But take your best shot, reality has never stopped you from judging my motivation in the past.


Anonymous said...

"If you are a very immoral man, on what basis should I heed anything you say?"

I've never claimed you should heed anything I say. My perceived/comparative morality has nothing to do with it.


If you are a self-confessed very immoral man, yes, your confession of that gross immorality is something to do with it. Be reasonable.

If not, are you a very immoral man?

Compared to Jesus, yes. Compared to Hitler, no. Again, no way to answer objectively.


You keep repeating this. It's not so. We don't have to make it a relative question. I'm not asking "Craig, compared to Jesus, are you a very moral man?" I'm asking a simple question: Are you a moral man?

I've further clarified what is probably clear to most people: By asking this, I'm asking, are you generally a person who strives to do what is right, to promote goodness, kindness, healthy, honest living?

Now, I can answer that question easily for most of my friends (if not all), Yes! Of course they are. I can also answer it for myself: Yes, I do strive to do the right thing, as a general rule. I don't do things that deliberately promote harm or aggression or hatefulness... instead, I generally do strive to promote that which is good, true, helpful, kind, honest and loving. I don't do so perfectly AT ALL. But it is my goal, as a general rule.

Compared to Jesus, is that STILL my general goal and hope and wish? Yes (because it's not a comparative quality. It's a question of what I seek to do, as a general rule.

So, let me ask you this one different way: As a general rule, Craig, do you strive to do the right, to be helpful, kind, compassionate, just and loving?

Or do you strive for the opposite? To promote harm and hatefulness?

Why is this a hard question for you?

~Dan

Craig said...

It's not a hard question I've answered it multiple times.

I can't help but notice that you've actually changed your position from you are "incredibly moral", to the much more ambiguous "strive to do the right thing". As long as you set the bar at simply engaging in behaviors that a certain group thinks are moral at any given time, then you set the bar too low and simply establish morality by works.

I'm not sure Jesus ever hinted (because there are no rules or commands) that simply behaving in a way that can be considered moral was our goal.

Craig said...

Of course I try to do the right thing, and despite that I fail often.

The problem is that you claimed to be an "incredibly moral" person, not simply moral but "incredibly moral", now you've walked that back to I "strive" to be moral. How about you pick one?


The problem with striving to do the right thing is it puts the focus on our efforts and works not on Jesus. Like with most of your philosophy it is human focused. So feel free to rely on your incredible morality and your striving if it makes you feel better.

Anonymous said...

So, given my definition/clarification of what I'm speaking of: ARE you, like me and most of my friends, an incredibly moral person? OR, are you a very immoral person?

Sorry if you have answered (or think you have). I do not see a direct answer to this question.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Like with most of your philosophy it is human focused.

Well, Craig, the deep dark truth of the matter is, I AM human. My HUMAN understanding and reasoning is what I use to sort out questions about God and morality. It's all I have.

What do you use, if not your human reasoning and understanding?

OR, is it the case that you, like me, also use your reasoning, awful and imperfect human reasoning, though it may be?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

...but I will clarify, while my reasoning (coming from ME, a human) is human-based, my desire is God-based. But I use my reasoning... YOU use your reasoning, we all use our reasoning to try to understand God.

That's just the reality of it all.

So, if you are saying that OUR philosophies are based on our understandings we humans hold based on the reasoning we humans employ, you are correct.

IF you are suggesting that I am using my human reasoning, but you have some clear and perfect communication from God so that you don't have to use any reasoning at all, you just lap up what God tells you and pass it on, as God's spokesperson, well, that is obviously not the case.

Just by the way of clarification.

~Dan

Craig said...

Based on your "clarification", you aren't actually an "incredibly moral" person you're just striving to engage in enough of the behaviors you consider moral to tilt the scales in your favor.
"
So, given my definition/clarification of what I'm speaking of: ARE you, like me and most of my friends, an incredibly moral person? OR, are you a very immoral person?"

I've explained multiple times that the premise of the question is flawed and that to respond any way other than what I have simply encourages your flawed premise and makes things more confusing.

So.

"Of course I try to do the right thing, and despite that I fail often."

The problem is that as one who follows Jesus, I see no call from him to simply engage in moral behaviors. It's just not there. Given that why should I waste time trying to attain a transient, amorphous, works oriented state of morality, when Jesus calls us to so much more?

I'm not suggesting either of your options.

I'm suggesting that your philosophy is focused on what actions humans can engage in that fit your version of what is moral. I'm suggesting that your entire worldview is centered on humans.

That's what I'm suggesting.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig I'm not asking what you think about morality, or holiness. I'm asking, are you moral? And since you brought up holiness, I have also asked if if you are holy?

is it the case that you do not know if you are moral? Is it the case that you think you might possibly be very immoral? Is it the case that you don't have any criteria to evaluate whether or not you are moral? What is flawed about the question's premise?

Do you see how it appears that you are just dodging a relatively straightforward and easy question? After all, you denigrate and me as being arrogant for suggesting I was moral. That must mean you have an idea of what is and isn't moral. If you have an idea about what is and isn't moral, then how is it that you do not know if you are moral or not?

Dan Trabue said...

Re: my worldview being human-centered... How exactly is my worldview human centered and yours not? What do you mean by that?

The fact of the matter is that I am seeking God's will and what God wants in this world and in my life as my primary goal or at least, at my best, that is what I am seeking as my utmost goal. Are you suggesting somehow that you know that this is not the case? That you know my desires better than I do? If so, do you see how that might be considered a bit arrogant and presumptuous?

Craig said...

"I'm asking, are you moral? And since you brought up holiness, I have also asked if if you are holy?"

Are you really? I couldn't have guessed this given your tiresome repetition of the same questions I've already answered over and over again.


"is it the case that you do not know if you are moral?"

No it's that case that morality is not an objective standard, therefore trying to make an objective assessment of a subjective standard is a foolish waste of time.


"Is it the case that you think you might possibly be very immoral?"

Again, the absence of an objective standard of "moral" renders this question pointless. I have already placed myself on a continuum of "morality" and that's the best I can do in the absence of an objective measure.

"Is it the case that you don't have any criteria to evaluate whether or not you are moral?"

As I've pointed out the lack of an objective standard of morality and the fact that morality changes with time, culture, and societies makes objective statements about anyone's individual morality pointless.

"What is flawed about the question's premise?"

The lack of an objective standard of morality.

"Do you see how it appears that you are just dodging a relatively straightforward and easy question?"

Only if you consider multiple responses, explanations, and answers dodging. Of course, when you reject the premise of a question it's not a dodge it's something else. A double standard.

"After all, you denigrate and me as being arrogant for suggesting I was moral. That must mean you have an idea of what is and isn't moral. If you have an idea about what is and isn't moral, then how is it that you do not know if you are moral or not?"

My issue is with you claim that you are "incredibly moral", not "moral" or "relatively moral", but "incredibly moral". So yeah, there is a fair amount of pride inherent in that statement, conversely a distinct lack of humility.

Dan Trabue said...

The lack of an objective standard of morality.

So, you are saying that there is NO objective standard for morality, is that what you're saying? I thought you had one...

But okay, so you don't think there is an objective standard for morality where we can know beyond all questionable doubt everything that is and isn't moral. Are you also saying that we have no hope of having ANY clue about what is and isn't moral? And that you have absolutely no idea if you are a moral agent?

My issue is with you claim that you are "incredibly moral", not "moral" or "relatively moral", but "incredibly moral". So yeah, there is a fair amount of pride inherent in that statement, conversely a distinct lack of humility.

How can you say that if you have absolutely zero idea about what is and isn't objectively moral?

My argument would be that we have a very good idea about what is and isn't moral. Ideas and ideals that 95% of people can unite behind, even if imperfectly. It is immoral to kill someone with no cause. It is immoral to rape women. It is immoral to enslave someone. It is immoral to steal what isn't yours. It is immoral to spread false claims about another person (for instance, calling them prideful when you have no reason to do so, no data to support the claim). It is immoral to abuse children, to assault people, to poison someone's water or air deliberately. To take actions (like drinking and driving) that can reasonably place other people at risk of harm...

I would wager that the vast majority of humanity would not have a problem agreeing with these ideas. (Well, perhaps with the exception of some fundamentalist-type Muslims, Christians and other zealots, for whom morality is not about harm but about pleasing a whimsical god who may very well command atrocious harmful behaviors). I just don't think morality is that hard to identify, even if it is an imperfect identification.

I guess you simply are clueless about what is and isn't moral. Is that what you're saying?

Hmm.

Dan Trabue said...

By the way, if you're agreeing with me that there is no objective standard for a completely perfect understanding of morality, I'm glad to hear it! Too many fundamentalists seem to claim that they DO have an "objective" standard for morality... and it is THEIR INTERPRETATION of the Bible (failing to understand "objective," apparently). I hope we can stand together on this one.

Craig said...

I've addressed the objective standard issue earlier, the problem isn't my standard it's yours. You are making an objective claim without an objective standard.


If you're interested you can read my earlier comments on this and get a sense of my position. That would probably be more useful than you making more assumptions and guesses.



Dan Trabue said...

And I've dealt with your concerns in your earlier comments.

If you're interested, you can read my earlier explanation and get a sense of my position.

Beyond that, are you going to answer the question, so you have no objective standard?

Also, given the fairly universal set of accepted morals I've given, are you a very moral person?

You're making this much too difficult, Craig.

Anonymous said...

the problem isn't my standard it's yours.

I asked YOU if YOU had an objective standard. How is that my problem?

I've asked YOU if YOU were moral by whatever standards you may wish to apply. How is that MY problem?

The problem here does not appear to be mine, but your unwillingness to answer a reasonable question based on your opinions/ideals. I'm not asking you to gauge them by my standards, but by yours.

If YOUR standard is "God says we are all evil, evil hellish worms and I am, therefore, an evil, evil hellish worm" then YOUR answer to my question is "Yes, I am a very immoral person." By THAT standard. Or apply whatever standard you wish.

YOU are the one that appears to be concerned about comparing your morality to others, that's not anything I have said. I've been quite clear that I'm basing it on fairly universally agreed upon (if imperfectly agreed upon) standards that the vast majority of humanity can agree upon.

So, given these multiple clarifications/corrections, will you begin to answer these reasonable questions?

~Dan

Craig said...

I've been clear that I am using the dictionary/sociological definition of morality for the purpose of this conversation. Given that by that definition morality is fluid and society dependent the type of objective answer you demand is impossible. Further, as believers we are not called to a subjective fluid standard of morality. Why should I, as a believer, be concerned about meeting a standard that is meaningless.

As long as you demand answers that are virtually impossible to give, you will be disappointed.

I'd love to point out the specific things I've mentioned that you've not addressed, but time and device prevent that.

Anonymous said...

So, then, you being utterly unable to define morality, you'll gladly retract your charge that I am being arrogant?

There is nothing "impossible" about asking someone - especially someone who presumably believes in the importance of morality - if they are a moral person. I've provided an answer so that demonstrates that it is not impossible.

Waiting for answers or apologies. Or just continue to not answer or apologize and that will say it all.

Craig, I can hardly be reasonably pressed to deal with things I've supposedly "not addressed" when you refuse to answer reasonable questions. Especially when the one set of questions you say I haven't answered, I have answered directly twice.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Why should I, as a believer, be concerned about meeting a standard that is meaningless.

Because you are the only one saying it's meaningless. Everyone else is able to understand that, yes, we can agree on a great deal of what is and isn't moral.

I'm asking you the rather simple question - GIVEN that morality is not engaging in harmful activities like rape, murder, theft, lying, bearing false witness, gossip, slander, falsely claiming someone is arrogant, etc and instead, engaging in positive, healthy activities like being a helper, being honest, being considerate, being kind, etc... given that, are you a very immoral man?

There's nothing difficult about answering that question.

All of this is, of course, a distraction from the main point of the post, but given that conservatives like to deal in moralizing, I think it is related enough to try to work out a clear and direct answer from you. But I've tried all I will. Answer or not, that's on you.

~Dan

Craig said...

If by utterly unable, you mean that I've already defined morality as its being used in this discussion. Unfortunately you seem to be pushing for both a different definition as well to conflate effort with achievement.

It's not that I'm pressing as much as pointing out that fact that things remain unaddressed.

I've already acknowledged that I do not engage in most of the things you list as your personal definition of morality. Unfortunately the dictionary and social scientists don't agree that your list is an objective definition of morality. It's too bad that you can't just dictate what morality is despite the existing definition.

According to your definition of random behaviors I'm sure I appear moral, given Christ's call to live differently I'm not sure that appearing to live according to an external set of behaviors is the issue for believers.

Anonymous said...

If by utterly unable, you mean that I've already defined morality as its being used in this discussion.

I'm asking you the rather simple question - GIVEN that morality is not engaging in harmful activities like rape, murder, theft, lying, bearing false witness, gossip, slander, falsely claiming someone is arrogant, etc and instead, engaging in positive, healthy activities like being a helper, being honest, being considerate, being kind, etc... given that, are you a very immoral man?

There's nothing difficult about answering that question.

Are you a Holy Man? (since that is what you say Jesus wants)

Do YOU PERSONALLY have an objective source for perfect knowledge of morality?

Questions remaining unanswered.

Unless you're answering THESE questions, directly, don't bother commenting again, Craig.

Thank you,

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Oh, and this...

I've already acknowledged that I do not engage in most of the things you list as your personal definition of morality. Unfortunately the dictionary and social scientists don't agree that your list is an objective definition of morality.

Morality:
1. beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior
2. a doctrine or system of moral conduct
3. conformity to ideals of right human conduct

Given that we, society/societies have a general agreement about what is and isn't right behavior (and as specifically identified in part, for your benefit), are you a very immoral person? Do you fail to conform to accepted norms of morality?

You state...

I've already acknowledged that I do not engage in most of the things you list as your personal definition of morality...

According to your definition of random behaviors I'm sure I appear moral


Not "my personal definition." It is the cross-societal definition of morality, generally agreed upon by most peoples everywhere. Life is not as difficult as you make it.

So, it appears that YOU AGREE that you are a moral person (maybe even a very moral person?) according to common human standards of morality? IF that is the case, are you prepared to apologize for suggesting that it is arrogant for me to say the very same thing?

And are you prepared to answer the question: Do YOU personally hold an objective source for defining morality?

My guess is that you think you do ("guess," as in, I believe you've affirmed this in the past, but I don't recall if that was your position or not, for sure... which is why I ask, well, that, and because you seem to now be saying there IS no objective way of identifying morality).

~Dan

Craig said...

"GIVEN that morality is not..."

And now we come to the root of your problem. You have decided that morality is defined as engaging or not engaging in a list of behaviors that you find to represent "morality" to you. I see no reason to accept your definition as a "given" while dictionaries and sociologists don't accept your hunch as a "given". Once you can let go of your hunch and go along with the dictionaries and sociologists.

"...given that, are you a very immoral man?"

Since I don't accept your "given", I see no reason to blindly accept your terms as definitive. Having said that, once more I repeat that I do not engage in the negative aspects of your list (in general), and I refrain from the negative aspects of your list (in general). As to whether or not the activities I do (do not) engage in "makes" me "moral", is a question that I'll leave to those who know me. I still see (and you haven't provided) no call from Jesus to be "moral", so I see no reason to focus on something transitive and subjective.

"Are you a Holy Man?"

Answered, at least once.

"Do YOU PERSONALLY have an objective source for perfect knowledge of morality?"

Since I've never claimed to have one, nor have I made any claims about being objectively "moral" (you have, but that's another issue for you to ignore), I am mystified as to why you would ask (not just ask, but demand that I answer) a question that bears no resemblance to (and actually is contradictory to) what I've actually said.

"Given that we, society/societies have a general agreement about what is and isn't right behavior..."

Really? SO a society that accepts slavery as moral is wrong? A society that executes gay people? A society that fails to grant full citizenship to women?

These are all things that are accepted in certain societies and are actually codified in law. Who are you to tell them that there society is immoral.

"Not "my personal definition." It is the cross-societal definition of morality, generally agreed upon by most peoples everywhere."

Yet some societies disagree with you, which (definitionally) makes those behaviors "moral" in those societies.

"So, it appears that YOU AGREE that you are a moral person (maybe even a very moral person?) according to common human standards of morality?"

Oh no, Dan has decreed that we agree. I guess than means all discussion stops because Dan must be correct.

"IF that is the case, are you prepared to apologize for suggesting that it is arrogant for me to say the very same thing?"

No, I still maintain that if someone uses the term "Incredibly" to describe how amazingly much better they are than everyone else the use of the term "incredibly" indicates a lack of humility. Of, I guess falsely accusing me of using the term "arrogant" is just one more example of your "incredible" morality.

"And are you prepared to answer the question: Do YOU personally hold an objective source for defining morality?"

I've not said that I do. Since I'm not claiming such (using the dictionary/sociological definition of morality) a thing and have actually consistently claimed the opposite the answer (again) to your rather bizarre and pointless question would seem to be no.

Maybe if you didn't spend quite some time deciding what other people think, and dealt with the reality of what they actually say, you wouldn't be quite as confused.

Craig said...

You probably didn't notice, but early on I specified that I was talking about "morality" in the definition/sociological sense for the purpose of this conversation. I did so because of definitions like the ones below. I was specific about this because morality is based on society and group and what may be moral in one group may not be in another. To try to impose the moral consensus of one group (or one time period of history) on another group is simply foolish. I'm sure that there are some morals that are shared across multiple groups and societies, but not all and those societies who differ still adhere to a moral consensus of some sort and as long as the do would be considered (in context) moral.

Morality

"a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society."

"In its descriptive sense, "morality" refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or social mores. It does not connote objective claims of right or wrong, but only refers to that which is considered right or wrong."

"For a topic as subjective as morality, people sure have strong beliefs about what's right and wrong. Yet even though morals can vary from person to person and culture to culture,"

"descriptively to refer to certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior"

"Morals differ among cultures, and there are morals that are relative, i.e., dependent upon situations and context."

Craig said...

So, given that morals are dependent on the society or group they reflect, I would (and possibly have) argue that there is a moral code particular to Christianity (a group or society) that is rooted in the character and nature of God revealed in scripture. If one accepts some basic tenets of Christianity (relating to the existence and nature of a transcendent God) then it would be reasonable to argue that it possible to assert the existence of an objective (particularly Christian) moral code. This is reasonable only if it is rooted in the transcendent nature and charter of a sovereign God.

That is the only situation where I might posit that existence of an objective morality.

But, as I pointed out, I am specifically not speaking in this context about a specifically Christian moral code, but rather about morality in general as it's used sociologically and by definition in a non Christian context.

Anonymous said...

To try to impose the moral consensus of one group (or one time period of history) on another group is simply foolish.

So then, was it foolish for you to call me arrogant because I identified myself (and you and most people I know) as moral, even incredibly moral? If there is no objective moral code so that you can't even define moral, on what basis would you call someone arrogant?

~Dan

Craig said...

Once again, I didn't call you arrogant. I pointed this out once, which I'm sure you read, yet you continue with falsehoods. I would have thought that one of such incredible, nay, superhuman morality would be able to refrain from falsehoods, I guess that's not included.

Dan Trabue said...

You said of me, "and Incredibly massively humble as well." To indicate that you thought it was arrogant for me to make this claim. Don't play with words Craig. That would be wrong. That would be weasely. Don't be weasely.

(from my phone. I am not able to copy and paste. hopefully you understand the point.)

Craig said...

No, I've said repeatedly that you lack humility, not that you are arrogant. It's telling that all you have left is to claim that I've called you arrogant, when that claim is clearly false, then you try to blame me for trying to take a stand for accuracy. Incredibly, fantastically, super humanly moral indeed.

Dan Trabue said...

Arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities.

This is NOT what you mean by saying I lack humility? That instead of having humility, I have an exaggerated sense of my abilities?

By making up excrement like I am "super humanly moral indeed..."?

Regardless, you can't go around and insinuate that someone is arrogant (by claiming they lack humility) and at the same time, claim that you have ZERO objective reasons to thinking there are ideals of morality. If you don't know what is moral, according to you, then why do you think I lack humility?

Enough of this silliness. Clearly according to your words, you don't think you have an objective source for morality and thus, have NO clue about what is and isn't moral, and thus, your insinuations are meaningless, according to your words.

For my part, I don't think it's that hard to identify what is and isn't moral. False claims, for instance, are not moral. Nonetheless, I still suspect that, in spite of your false claims and attempted slander that you are generally an incredibly moral person, as well.

Dan Trabue said...

So, to sum up:

You don't have any idea of whether or not you are a moral or an immoral man, as you lack any meaningful objective standard to identify morality.

Nonetheless, even though you don't know if you are a moral man or a very immoral man, and any standards we may propose are meaningless when it comes to morality, you feel comfortable accusing me of lacking humility.

And by "lacking humility," you don't mean I'm arrogant. I'm NOT arrogant, according to you, just lacking in humility. But this is meaningless, according to you, because you are not able to identify even if you are a very immoral man and you have no idea about any objective standards, so you're just not sure about what is and isn't moral... and yet, I lack humility.

Based on what, then? Just a hunch from a guy who knows nothing about morality and who may be a very immoral man?

You think that, as a possibly very immoral man, that you are able to assess that my "entire worldview is centered on humans." And by saying that, are you suggesting that your entire worldview is centered on something else? Or are we alike in that regards?

Or, are you saying that YOUR worldview (very evil man that you may be) is centered on God, but mine is centered on humans...? We just don't know, because apparently you're not able to address this conundrum or support this claim. But then, you may be a very immoral man, so that may explain that.

Finally, you still do not see the direct answers to your questions you put to me, even when they've been directly pointed out at least a couple of times?

Is that all what you're saying, thus far?

It's what it sounds like. Which, I hope you can understand, sounds very confusing and hard to follow rationally.

Craig said...

It seems somewhat ironic that someone who so vehemently denies the existence if any sort of God given rules recorded for us would be so inordinately proud of following rules made by sinful fallible humans.

Craig said...

I realize that it upsets you when your inaccurate comments are pointed out, and that you feel the need to put words in my mouth that I clearly didn't say in order to avoid admitting your false statements.

So why don't you just pick up both sides of the conversation since you're going to ignore what you want to and recast what you can in order to make yourself look better.

So by all means take great pride in your massively incredible fantastically proficient almost superhuman ability to follow some rules contrived by social convention.

I'm impressed.

Dan Trabue said...

If and when I make an incorrect statement, I'm always glad to be corrected. So clarify, you DON'T think I'm arrogant?

What is the difference between lacking humility and arrogant?

Dan Trabue said...

Since arrogant is the opposite of humility, do you understand that saying one lacks humility implies one is arrogant?

Another unanswered question: what is lacking in humility about identifying oneself as incredibly moral if one is incredibly moral? (A claim made not just about myself, but you and most people I know) Are you making the claim that I am not incredibly moral, by standard measures? And if so, on what basis, since you appear to think that all appeals to morality are meaningless?

Anonymous said...

What Craig said...

It seems somewhat ironic that someone who so vehemently denies the existence if any sort of God given rules
recorded for us
would be so inordinately proud
of following rules made by sinful fallible humans.


Broken down...

It seems somewhat ironic that someone who so vehemently denies the existence if any sort of God given rules...

I do not deny that there are rules in the stories in the Bible. In context, those rules are always given specifically and literally to the people in the stories. Just as a point of fact. YOU are the one who wants to say, "SOME of these rules (I'll let you know which ones) are universal and God intended them for us. Also, there are SOME rules that people like me have extrapolated out of lines that don't specify these rules, but we'll let you know what they are, as a favor to God... You're welcome..."

...recorded for us...

An as-yet demonstrated claim. An empty claim.

would be so inordinately proud...

Not proud, just noting that I and most people I know are basically extremely moral people, by standard moral conventions. And in the context of this conversation, that being an observably moral person, for another person to suggest I have intentions of denying moral behavior is simply false and an irrational attack, unsupported by the data.

of following rules made by sinful fallible humans.

These aren't "rules made by sinful fallible humans..." rather, they are ideals which are reasonable and recognized as reasonable by humans. We ought not harm others if for no other reason than we don't want to be harmed and we don't want our loved ones to be harmed. This is a rational morality based on the Good of ourselves and our world. This, as opposed to someone saying, "There is this story in the OT where some people are killed by god for creating "strange fire." THIS means that it is a God-given rule that there are things God does and doesn't want us to do in our Sunday morning worship services and we'll let you know what those things are." That is NOT a reason-based morality based on common Good. It is an irrational to the point of being hellishly ungracious rule based on an irrational approach to understanding morality.

Just by way of clarifying the many mistakes in each line above.

~Dan

Craig said...

Lacking in humility means that humility is not something you display in your "incredibly moral" comment. Has you read the comment where I explained this the first time you probably wouldn't be having this semantic meltdown.

Anonymous said...

So clarify, you DON'T think I'm arrogant?

What is the difference between lacking humility and arrogant?

Craig said...

While I've definitely seen you act in an arrogant manner in other contexts, this appears to be an issue of lack of humility and pride. Given the fact that I haven't hesitated to use the term arrogant in the past, if I meant arrogant I would have use the word. Unfortunately for you I have factually not called you arrogant in this thread despite your counter factual insistence otherwise and your manipulation of definitions to try to save face. The truth of the matter is that every time you insist I've called you arrogant it's a false claim.

Seriously if you want to wallow in semantics and falsehood be my guest. The fact that this is the direction you've chosen, as opposed to something more substantial is very telling.

If you want substance I'll try to make time, if semantics, I'll be much less likely to invest the effort.

Dan Trabue said...

Arrogant is a synonym for lacking humility. Who's playing withsemantics?

Craig said...

Ok if you say so. Will it make you happier if I just said you were being an arrogant, prideful, hypocritical, ass?

I really don't think so and didn't plan to go that far, but if it somehow helps you I guess I could do it.

Or you can stick with semantics over substance.

Dan Trabue said...

Again, you have no bases to consider me arrogant (not humble) since all ideas of morality are meaningless, according to you.

If you were interested in substance, you'd answer the questions that have been asked of you.

Craig said...

You mean the ones I've answered already? Please feel free to misrepresent me in whatever way strikes your fancy as you've completely abandoned substance in favor or semantics and misrepresentation.

Marshall Art said...

"Did you know you talk and reason like Donald Trump?"

Not that you've been able to demonstrate.

Here is what I said:

"This is like full blown lying here. I referenced Stan's citations from Scripture and you still insist the principle is not from Scripture. (And you confuse "theory" with "principle"...two words that are not synonymous. Stop doing that.) Said another way, the principle is LITERALLY in Scripture, or more accurately, the principle is implied by the passages/verses cited by Stan (and others). This is not to say that anyone's salvation is dependent upon adhering to the principle, and no doubt there's no way people like you revere God enough to care how He might want you to worship Him, but that doesn't mean the principle doesn't exist in Scripture. It doesn't need to be named to exist. Not having a name in Scripture by which the principle is referred only gives you license to pretend it doesn't."

...and this:

"But it takes a special kind of liar to pretend that distinctions are not obvious for at least some of the over 600 commandments God gave His Chosen."

So in the first quote of mine, I show you how the principle is supported by Stan and you insist the principle doesn't exist. You do this with absolutely no attempt to rebut the use of the passages Stan cites, no attempt to provide an alternate interpretation or application, no attempt to demonstrate that they do NOT suggest the principle in question. So it is indeed like lying to say that the principle doesn't exist when Stan cites evidence the clearly shows that it does, or at least can be inferred. So, instead of me sounding like Trump, you sound like Obama pretending jihadists have no koranic basis for their violence. That's called "lying".

Regarding the second quote, I stand by it as well. It takes a special kind of liar to pretend that there are no distinctions between the many OT laws that are not easily recognized by honest people. Distinctions regarding law of behavior versus ritual purity, for example. Distinctions between laws that are universal (murder, stealing, lying) versus those that aren't (mixing fabrics--eating shellfish). If you wish to say you can't see these distinctions, and thus can't abide behavioral teachings of the OT as a result, you're a liar.

With that said, it is crystal clear that my accusations regarding you being a liar are not related to mere disagreement with my beliefs. They are directly related to your statements as cited above in the two quotes. Indeed, it is ugly and divisive to suggest that I call you a liar simply because we disagree. In fact, it's a lie.

Marshall Art said...

"Indeed, I'm quite sure it is shared by some anabaptists. What of it?"

Why do suppose they do? I'd insist it is because they find the principle in Scripture and thus, it is inaccurate at best and a lie otherwise to say the principle is not in Scripture. THAT'S what of it!

"Anabaptists (and many others) also believe in the theory of the priesthood of the believers. If you're not familiar with this idea, it's the notion that, while I may disagree with your interpretation, I recognize the importance of giving you the chance to understand God the best you can, even if it disagrees with my understanding."

That is not the "principle" of the priesthood of believers. You're describing the "principle" of Christian liberty. The former is the principle that we are no longer separated from God and since Christ's death on the cross, have direct access (the temple curtain torn at this point is symbolic of this change His death brought about). We have no need of a priest to intercede on our behalf. It has nothing to do with abiding crappy interpretations of Scripture that you favor over more accurate ones, which is what the abuse of Christian liberty gives you license to do.

"That is an internally contradictory statement, Marshall."

Not at all, since I don't quibble about whether or not to refer to the Bible as a rule book. That's your hangup. I'm content knowing that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to us in which He teaches us of behaviors He finds pleasing and displeasing. I seek to abide those teachings without pretending those I don't like are no longer applicable. My point was that what we call the Bible ("a rule book") doesn't matter so much as whether or not we abide what it teaches with regard to human behavior. Play games all you want with what to call the Bible. It still prohibits homosexual behavior regardless of the context or scenario in which it might take place, just as it prohibits murder and lying and doing your sister or goat.

Marshall Art said...

"I'd encourage you to embrace that grace."

I'd encourage you to live according to your own encouragement, particularly at my blog where you display very little grace in your exchanges with Glenn.

Marshall Art said...

" I don't do things that deliberately promote harm or aggression or hatefulness..."

You promote the legality of abortion, which in turn promotes severe harm to the aborted and in too many cases, physical and emotional harm to the woman who aborts.

You promote the lies of the LGBT agenda, which in turn leads to all manner of physical and psychological harm, including the spread of diseases, damage to the body, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and other ills.

The consequences of the above are well documented and belie any claim that there is no deliberate promotion of harm. The aggression and hatefulness of those who indulge the above behaviors toward those who oppose them is also well known to honest people.

Marshall Art said...

Craig's troubles in dealing in Dan's "are you moral" are valid concerns, especially considering Dan's disdain in regarding Scripture as a "rule book". On what basis can we determine morality without some "rules" regarding behavior? The definition Craig has been using to deal with the discussion does not provide a solid basis.

But even if the question refers to what Craig (or anyone) feels is moral, to answer the question is awkward. An honest person can only say that one attempts to be moral (or holy) but won't insist one is successful with any consistency. So no, I would not entertain the question, either, regardless of what was meant by the term "moral".

And yes, the statement "I'm incredibly moral" is lacking in humility. It is vain and conceited and is very Trump-like. But "arrogant" will do just fine.

Anonymous said...

Marshall, are you a moral man? Or are you an immoral man?

~Dan

Craig said...

MA

I only put that definition forward in the context of this thread because it seems like the context fits it. I think I explained some other options that exist as well.

I love how you provide a detailed explanation of your response to the "moral" question and Dan comes back re asking the question you just answered. Of course that includes ignoring the vast majority of the substance of your comments.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall asked about on what basis can we know what is moral without some rules..? The answer is common sense. The answer is some things are self-evident. The answer is Do no harm. The answer is consensus.

The fact of the matter is, if you need a complete set of Rules for Morality carved in stone from God to you, we don't have that. No one thinks we do. We all use our reason to sort things out. The thing is, we can do okay with that, even if imperfectly.

Do you understand that there exists no flawless rulebook?

Craig said...

Great point. As long as consensus exists about a behavior it's a moral behavior. I'm sure that will make many people happy.

Anonymous said...

Craig, do you understand that you have no flawless book of rules to set everyone straight with? That YOU use your reasoning, flawed though it may be, to reach understandings about morality?

Or are you speaking to god and getting your morality straight from that god?

~Dan

Craig said...

Dan,

Do you understand that your comment bears virtually no resemblance to anything I've ever claimed or said?

Do you actually realize what you have claimed?


MA,

Just note that Dan just confirmed that he agrees exactly with the definition I provided earlier, that he has confirmed that he believes morality to be subjective and dependent on the context.

Craig said...

"Do you understand that there exists no flawless rulebook?"

Do you understand that the alleged lack of existence of a flawless rulebook (leaving aside the fact that no one has claimed one exists), does not mean that absolutely no rules exist.

Dan Trabue said...

Do you understand that the alleged lack of existence of a flawless rulebook (leaving aside the fact that no one has claimed one exists), does not mean that absolutely no rules exist.

Yes, I do understand that. Perhaps there is some definitive list of rules someplace that no one knows about, for instance.

Your question directly and clearly answered.

Now, do you understand that there exists no flawless rulebook?

Do you understand that your comment bears virtually no resemblance to anything I've ever claimed or said?

Yes. I'm asking you a question because I wonder what your answer is. Not because you have said it. Nonetheless, you have given answers that have raised the question in my mind, so how about answering it?

Do you actually realize what you have claimed?

Yes, that there exists no flawless rule book. Do you agree?

Dan Trabue said...

Just note that Dan just confirmed that he agrees exactly with the definition I provided earlier, that he has confirmed that he believes morality to be subjective and dependent on the context.

I've always been quite clear that I think morality is subjective, in the sense that we have no authoritative source to verify objectively a complete and authoritative list of rules for living. This should not be a surprise to anyone who reads my words.

I don't know that I'm saying morality is definitively dependent on the context. For instance, I can't imagine any instance where selling our daughters off into a forced marriage is moral. But, clearly, we both think that context matters for morality. For instance, many religious conservatives don't think that polygamy or slavery were necessarily wrong in the context of Israel, but they think it is wrong today, so most likely, you and I think that morality is at least sometimes dependent on context.

Craig said...

If I've never claimed a flawless rule book exists, then what would possibly make you wonder if I believe one exists?

The fact that you acknowledge that morality is subjective means that it's dependent on context. If it wasn't it wouldn't be subjective. Of course all the definitions I posted all disagree with you as well. So you are free to believe whatever you want no matter whether your belief contracts reality and definitions or not.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, I do understand that. Perhaps there is some definitive list of rules someplace that no one knows about, for instance.

Your question directly and clearly answered.

Now, do you understand that there exists no flawless rulebook?

Do you understand that your comment bears virtually no resemblance to anything I've ever claimed or said?

Yes, I am well aware you have not stated this directly. I'm asking you a question because I wonder what your answer is. Not because you have said it.

Nonetheless, while you have not stated this directly, you have given answers that have raised the question in my mind, so how about answering it?

Do you actually realize what you have claimed?

Yes, that there exists no flawless rule book. Do you agree?

Craig said...

Once again, since I've never said that I believe a flawless rule book exists, why would I deal with something that doesn't exist. I guess you can continue to ask me if I think unicorns, trolls, on Dan's intellectual consistency exist as well. But like the rule book you obsess over those are imaginary as well.

Dan Trabue said...

So, that's a no? Why not just say so, directly?

Craig said...

I wouldn't want to encourage your delusions.

Dan Trabue said...

Asking you to clarify your position is not a sign that I hold delusions. It is a sign that I do not know what your position is and seek clarification.

Conversation does not have to be this difficult, Craig.

So, that's a NO?

Craig said...

When your guess about my position is so far from the reality of my comments then I tend to suspect delusion.

Dan Trabue said...

It's not a guess about your position, it is a question about your position, giving you a chance to clarify.

Last time I'm saying this: Conversation does not have to be this difficult, Craig. I'm guessing now, about your position, that you just aren't that interested in answering reasonable questions politely asked.

If so, duly noted. If not, feel free to begin answering directly and clearly.

Craig said...

I'll try this one more time using the smallest least complex words possible.

I do not believe that a "flawless rule book" exists. I do not believe in things that do not exist. Are you so dense or obtuse that you cannot or will not grasp this simple concept?

Dan Trabue said...

So, that's a No, you don't think a flawless rule book exists. Good, we agree.

The follow up question, then, was:

Do you agree that YOU use your reasoning, flawed though it may be, to reach understandings about morality?

Marshall Art said...

What flaw do you see in Scripture, Dan, with regards to God's will for human behavior? I'll wait here while you don't respond.

Anonymous said...

I see no flaws in the stories within the Bible. Only in human interpretations of those stories.

The stories themselves are what they are. Sometimes, they reflect opinions about God's will, sometimes, they reflect human flaws to greater or lesser degrees. "Stories" or "Scripture" can't be wrong, they're just words. It's how you interpret it that can be right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

If one reads the many stories about slavery, even where God endorses or "commands" enslavement, and one reaches the conclusion that slavery can be moral, I think clearly, that is an irrational and immoral position to reach. Why? Is it because there is a line in the Bible that tells me that it's wrong? No, it's because enslaving other humans is a violation of human rights and I don't need a line in the Bible to tell me that this is wrong.

Do you need a line in the Bible to tell you any and all slavery is a moral wrong and a violation of human rights?

If one reads the many stories about selling one's daughter or woman relative into slavery or into a forced marriage, even where God endorses or "commands" such enslavement, and one reaches the conclusion that selling one's children or forcing them into a marriage against their will can be moral, I think clearly, that is an irrational and immoral position to reach. Why? Is it because there is a line in the Bible that tells me that it's wrong? No, it's because enslaving other humans in that manner is a violation of human rights and I don't need a line in the Bible to tell me that this is wrong.

Do you need a line in the Bible to tell you any and all selling of children or forced marriage is a moral wrong and a violation of human rights?

That is the difference between what I'm calling the Legalists' approach to reading the Bible and the Grace-oriented approach. The Legalist says the Bible is the primary or sole source for matters of faith and practice, the Grace-ists say, no, that's a mistaken notion, it's not rational or moral or biblical.

I'll wait while you answer those questions.

~Dan

Marshall Art said...

"I see no flaws in the stories within the Bible."

Then it can't not be a flawless rule book as the rules in Scripture are not flawed in any way. And while it is only you who needs for us to regard Scripture as ONLY a rule book at all, you can't have it both ways. It is either flawed or it isn't, regardless of whether or not one looks to it to provide rules for Christian living or not.

more later

Dan Trabue said...

I'm not sure what you mean. I don't "need" you to regard the Bible as a rule book only. Never said anything like that. I'm saying you all DO, as a point of fact, treat it as a rulings book. Need to know if two gay guys getting married is okay? Just look to the Bible to find a ruling on the topic. Need to know if there are rules for worship? Just look for a ruling on the topic from the Bible.

How is that NOT treating the Bible as a rulings book?

And if it is a rulings book, then a reasonable question is: Is it a flawless rulings book where all one has to do is open it and glean rulings on morality and faith? Or is it a book of stories that contain rules and you have to use your reasoning to sort through what is rational (to you) and makes sense? If the latter, then are you not using your reasoning to settle things, not the Bible?

Marshall Art said...

Let's start over. Your premise that the Bible is not a rule book is flawed. To pretend that seeking the truth of Scripture in order to understand morality...what is behavior pleasing to God, versus that which is not...constitutes using Scripture as a rule book is simply you trying to legitimize your rejection of God's will when you find it inconvenient. There is no other source for determining what pleases God, what falls within His will for us, except Scripture itself. We can easily look at what is clear and find that two homosexuals marrying each other is most certainly NOT OK, and can't possibly BE OK, if the sexual behavior that consummates that union is clearly, unambiguously and without exception stated anywhere in Scripture, prohibited. It isn't a great mystery that requires deep thought to understand except if you're looking for a way to reject God's will in a manner that you can pretend is adequately rationalized to suit your preferences.

"I don't "need" you to regard the Bible as a rule book only. Never said anything like that."

Not in so many words. But with every word you do use, you demonstrate how desperately you need me to regard the Bible as a rule book. Frankly, I'm good with that, as I, as one who objectively and truly desires to understand what God expects of me, have no problem with the concept of rejecting the world and my own desires and compulsions in order to as accurately and effectively as possible be what He wants me to be. That requires studying those aspects of human behavior that have been quite thoroughly described as either pleasing or displeasing to God.

As such, I'm not about to pretend I am truly engaged in trying to abide His Will by pretending certain commonly used words now mean something they've never before meant in the history of mankind...like "marriage". If Scripture (or God) says or implies that marriage is a good thing, there is simply and absolutely no justification for pretending "marriage" means or can include the union of two people who engage in a behavior God has prohibited. There is nothing that so much as hints that "marriage" makes abominable behavior worthy of God's blessing, encouragement or tolerance.

So if I use the Bible as a "rulings book", you use it as license to do whatever the hell floats your boat, and then as if that wasn't bad enough, you try to insist that you're the one embracing grace by doing so, while I'm lacking in grace by holding fast to what is clearly revealed regarding human behaviors pleasing or displeasing to God.

Then, you suggest that somehow to abide those teachings on human behaviors, it has to make sense. Where does Scripture teach that exactly? For one who decries what you label as human constructs and inventions, none such as Sola Scriptura or Regulated Worship comes as close to outright selfish evil as that!! It didn't make sense to Abraham that he was instructed to sacrifice his son. But as one who truly revered God, he was prepared to do as God instructed.

This is not to say that there might be an instance where some aspect of Scripture requires some deeper study. But we're not talking about any heavy mystery with regards human behaviors. You simply WANT it to be difficult to "sort through" to justify your coming to a clearly contrary position on behaviors you wish to celebrate. Your entire premise is one of deceit and is self-focused, not God focused.

Dan Trabue said...

Those are some fine, if rather whimsical opinions, Marshall. And you are welcome to them.

Or are you trying to suggest that your opinions here are something more than just your opinions? Maybe the word of God? Because as you know, I do not conflate your opinions with God's word.

Dan Trabue said...

Just to correct one mistaken opinion you voiced, I am not saying it is all that difficult to understand the Bible. I'm offering the pinion that you were flatly mistaken on some rather obvious and straightforward points. I am saying that you all find it difficult to understand, even on some rather obvious points.

For instance, is slavery always immoral, or does it depend upon a whim of a capricious god? Selling your children? Forced marriages? Killing children in war time?

For most of us today, these are straightforward questions of morality they're always wrong for you all it's not so clear.

Just to clarify.

Marshall Art said...

"Those are some fine, if rather whimsical opinions, Marshall. And you are welcome to them."

And there you go again. You default to the "you're welcome to your opinion" cowardice instead of actually putting forth anything akin to argument that would dissuade me, or anyone else for that matter, of the position I hold. So once again, Dan, for about the billionth time, I totally get that you don't agree and regard my position as mere opinion rather than fact. Try actually making some kind of effort to say why. You know...just for a change of pace.

"I'm offering the pinion that you were flatly mistaken on some rather obvious and straightforward points. I am saying that you all find it difficult to understand, even on some rather obvious points."

Blah, blah, blah. I get that. Really. I do. I'm still waiting for an actual argument. Something substantive that dispels the notion, corrects the position, enlightens as to a more reasonable understanding and why then it is actually more reasonable. I get nothing. Just more of the same empty crap about opinions.

"For instance, is slavery always immoral, or does it depend upon a whim of a capricious god? Selling your children? Forced marriages? Killing children in war time?"

God is not capricious. Only human beings are. Your refusal to accept facts about his nature and the historical record regarding His commands does not mean He is capricious. It means you reject God in favor of your imaginary god.

I don't care what "most of us" believe about anything. I care about what God says, what His will for us is and there is only one place to learn what that is...Scripture.

Dan Trabue said...

You default to the "you're welcome to your opinion" cowardice instead of actually putting forth anything akin to argument that would dissuade me, or anyone else for that matter, of the position I hold.

I am not in the business of trying to change people's minds. I will, however, offer my reasons why I hold my positions. I do this all the time with you. And, when you disagree with MY opinion and hold an other opinion, you are welcome to that opinion.

What do you want me to do? Beat you over the head until you agree with me?

I DO offer my reasons for holding my opinions. If you truly don't see that I've done that, then you have an understanding problem. Not sure that I can help with that, other than explaining it in multiple ways. Which I have done.

Dan Trabue said...

So, you don't care what others think? Then answer the questions:

For instance, is slavery always immoral, or does it depend upon a whim of a capricious god?

Selling your children?

Forced marriages?

Killing children in war time?

Marshall Art said...

"I will, however, offer my reasons why I hold my positions. I do this all the time with you."

No. You do it rarely, if at all, and even then you do not respond to follow up responses that describe why you're reasons are invalid, false or idiotic. More to the point, you too often abuse Scripture and then use that abused Scripture to defend the original wacky position. You "reasons" are cheap, lame, lazy. But we're expected to accept them as real reasons and/or arguments.

While you may fail at changing the minds of others, and why wouldn't you fail repeatedly given what passes for reasons for you, it would seem that one who speaks of God's grace would be gracious enough to indulge the opponent who is sincerely hoping for something akin to an actual explanation, which is what you have in both Craig and myself, and the many who have given up trying over the years do to your dodging, obfuscation and equivocation.

"What do you want me to do? Beat you over the head until you agree with me?"

While that would be great fun to see you try, no. It's not what I want you to do. What I want you to do is to cease the dodging, obfuscation and equivocation and actually answer questions directly until one is satisfied that you've fully explained and/or clarified your position. This is what two people do who are sincere in their desire to both understand and learn from another. While I am certain of my positions and convicted in the truth of them, I am not married to any of them to the extent that new information won't alter my positions and beliefs. Sparring is not the point for me, nor has it ever been. It is to find the truth. Nothing in your defense of your positions lead to anything like it, and mostly because your defense is so poor, so lazy and weak. The fear (for lack of a better word) is that your understanding might indeed be more accurate. But if you don't give a flying rat's ass to be as direct as possible, to have the courage to attempt a real argument/explanation, then you obviously can't have the truth. Truth isn't hard to see, even though it is hard to accept. I'm not afraid of the truth in the least. I'm too old and too tired to attach myself to falsehood. It hurts far worse in my opinion. (THERE!!!! You see that!! I also have no problem pointing out that which is only my opinion!!!)

As to your reasons, most of them amount to no more than asserting once again that you don't see things our way, that you think what you believe is clear in Scripture. That isn't giving a reason. That's restating your opinion. Now to the extent that you might offer a verse now and then, it is quite common, if not routine, that doing so leads to an explanation why your citation fails to support your opinion due to a clear misunderstanding of the verse chosen. Case in point:

Your constant reference to "do lay up treasures for yourself" as justification for your nonsensical "simple living". I've read the context in which this verse appears over and over and the lesson is the same. It is NOT a teaching against wealth building. It is a teaching against building wealth without first storing up treasures in heaven. It teaches against putting wealth above the will of God. But it does not teach against building wealth. That is not the point at all and it is crystal clear when read in context. One does not serve two masters if wealth creation takes a back seat to serving God. Serving God does not prevent the creation of wealth.

more coming...

Marshall Art said...

"So, you don't care what others think?"

This is just like your constant reference to "saved by Grace"...incomplete and out of context where the whole truth lies. I said: "I don't care what "most of us" believe about anything. I care about what God says...etc."...the definitive point being the "most of us" part, as if you've done some kind of poll. Your constant claim that "so many" think like you is a bullshit attempt to add validity by suggesting your belief is in the majority or held by "most". Talk about opinions put forth as a truth claim!!! And a truth claim you never take the time to support with evidence!!

Furthermore, I don't see how the my statement naturally compels me to answer your questions. Indeed, it doesn't in any way whatsoever. Nonetheless, I have no problem doing so in great detail, or as much detail as the questions necessitate.

"For instance, is slavery always immoral, or does it depend upon a whim of a capricious god?"

I reject the "or" part of the question completely. I'm not here to talk about how your god does things. I'm here to discuss only the Will of God. God is not capricious. I'm sure I've insisted upon that not too many comments ago.

As to slavery, I'm going to assume you're referring to the form of slavery that most commonly springs to mind in most people today, especially black people...that of the slavery of the antebellum south, whereby people are kidnapped and forced into servitude against their will. This is clearly prohibited in Scripture. It falls under the charge of kidnapping, which is what this type of slavery is at its more basic level. The rest of it is covered under other prohibitions, such as those against murder, fornication, slander, etc. Why you'd ask such a question is besides me, unless it is to discover something by which you can demonize me in some way.

If you wish to determine if I think it is immoral without God's prohibition, then the answer it no, it is not inherently immoral, though I may regard it as such for any number of reasons. Morality is determined by God, not by man.

more coming...

Marshall Art said...

--Selling your children?

Here I'll assume you mean while they're alive as I see no moral issue surrounding the selling of a dead person's body.

In Scripture, children weren't so much sold as made a part of an economic arrangement by which the children "sold" were placed in a situation that provided for them in a better manner than could be fully afforded by the parents. They received compensation by which they could survive and the child was placed in a situation in which the child was provided for. I see no moral issue in such an arrangement wherein a better option is unavailable. One does what one must, even when it is hard. I would not wish my entire family to suffer, including the child, if I could not otherwise find a way to provide for them all.

One must also consider the details of the situation. With whom is one entering such an arrangement. Is the intention of the "buyer" noble or depraved? If the child is merely to serve the "buyer"...as a maid, cook, cleaning woman/butler, etc., then we're looking at no more than the child working on behalf of the family with the wages paid up front and given to the remaining members of the family for its support. It's an economic arrangement for the benefit of all involved.

But to outright sell a child merely for the profit of it, without regard to the child's welfare, as if the child is no more than cattle, of course it would be immoral and another form of kidnapping in reality, which is prohibited in Scripture. While the child in each case may not be fully on board with the idea, in the former case, the intention is good even if the scenario is unfortunate. But then, that can't be called forced without also calling evil any force a parent might put upon a child, including cleaning his/her room.

---Forced marriages?

In this day and age, in this culture, of course I would consider it so. But are forced marriages always immoral? No. Of course not. They weren't in olden days for a variety of reasons having to do with the lifetime welfare of the girl. It would have been immoral to allow her to suffer trying to survive in a culture that has a general lower regard for females. So no, it is not "always" immoral.

more coming...

Marshall Art said...


---Killing children in war time?

Ah. One of Dan's favorites.

The first question is, who started the war and why? This is an essential question to ask before trying to ascertain the morality of anyone being killed in wartime.

If I, or my country, were to start the war, the reason would have to be just. Our forefathers started a war to gain their independence from an oppressive king. That was justified. In essence, they did not start the war, they were forced to take up arms. While they may have forced the issue until war broke out, the actions of the king provoked it all. This is true of many wars, that one side was compelled to take up arms for a cause that was just. In these cases, collateral damage, including the death of non-combatants caught up in the fighting, is not an immoral act, because it came about as the result of a moral fight. No war goes long without non-combatants, even infants, being killed. But their death is always on the faction that provoked the war. Not the defenders against oppression and despotism.

This is one of your favorites because you take the wacky and irresponsible position that because an innocent might be killed, all war is therefore immoral. It's a cheap and lazy position for it does not take into account how many children might die anyway if war isn't fought by honorable and noble people against those who aren't. I give you Sadam Hussein as a prime example. This guy was killing all sorts of people in all sorts of ways and that would have continued without our intervention. You'll allow the killing of innocents by people like Hussein and pretend that can go on for as long as it takes to convince Hussein to be a nice guy. That's grossly immoral given the unlikelihood of success together with the number of innocents dying in the meantime.

For all of these questions, God's Will is easy to apply throughout. There's no big mystery at any time. You take the lazy way out in each case by simply finding what you think is the most egregious situation in order to entrap me in some way. But God's Will clearly revealed makes that attempt impossible to fulfill as you have just been shown.

Dan Trabue said...

As to slavery, I'm going to assume you're referring to the form of slavery that most commonly springs to mind in most people today, especially black people...that of the slavery of the antebellum south, whereby people are kidnapped and forced into servitude against their will. This is clearly prohibited in Scripture. It falls under the charge of kidnapping

I'm speaking of ENSLAVING HUMAN BEINGS AGAINST THEIR WILL, denying them the liberty to make their own choices.

Understand?

So, is slavery always immoral?

If you wish to determine if I think it is immoral without God's prohibition, then the answer it no, it is not inherently immoral,

Wow. Damn.

Literally. Damn.

Marshall Art said...

"I'm speaking of ENSLAVING HUMAN BEINGS AGAINST THEIR WILL, denying them the liberty to make their own choices.

Understand?

So, is slavery always immoral?"


You don't even read the comments of your opponents, do you? I already answered this freaking question.

As to:

"Wow. Damn.

Literally. Damn."


...you'll need to provide some argument to defend the concept that YOU can determine morality without God. I insist you cannot, but rather all you can do is choose to label a given behavior based on how you personally feel about that behavior. But neither that choice, nor the reason for it, actually makes that behavior moral or immoral. Nor does it matter how many people agree or disagree. So on what basis do you insist that one needn't refer to God's Will to determine the morality or immorality of any given behavior?

Dan Trabue said...

I ask again because you weren't clear, just seeking clarification. Thanks for clarifying, I guess.

So here is the great madness in this theory of legalistic Bible reading... You end up with no morality. You can't even say that enslaving human beings is immoral, in and of itself. You can't say that forced marriage, in and of itself is immoral. You can't say that rape, forced marriage, killing children, etc, etc are immoral in and of themselves. They are only "wrong" in the legalists' mind, because there is a line somewhere in the Bible that they take to mean that God condemns it in some - maybe even most - situations, but there, it's only wrong because God said it was, NOT because it was a great strike against human dignity and human liberty and human rights.

And that, is hellish and insane.

you'll need to provide some argument to defend the concept that YOU can determine morality without God. I insist you cannot

I'm not saying one can determine morality without God. Indeed, I think morality is one of the good rational arguments in favor of a Loving, Just Creator God.

So, as is often the case, you read my words and draw bad conclusions.

What I'm saying is that God is revealed and morality is understood in many different ways, and not one of them is "primary" or exclusive. The Bible speaks of knowing God and God's ways through our God-given reasoning, through our innate moral nature (being created in the image of God, after all, and having the spark of the divine in us, being created just a little lower than God), through tradition, through Scripture, through God's revelation, through the Holy Spirit, through Creation... and reason supports these conclusions from the Bible, I'd say.

But, being fallen and imperfect, in NONE of these ways of understanding God will we find perfect knowledge in every way. The Bible, again, tells us this much and again, reason supports this. Being imperfect, Marshall, that means that EVEN IF one considers the Bible to contain or to be "God's Perfect Law..." it STILL requires our imperfect human understanding to sort it out. What else do you have but your reason? Some perfect direct line to God? By all means, present it.

No, we all use our reasoning. So, to minimize morality down to "I found a line in the Bible that I interpret to be God's 'perfect' universal law and thus, I know this behavior is wrong because this line in the Bible..." is neither rational nor biblical. Nor sane. Nor moral.

So literally, Damn.

Dan Trabue said...

So on what basis do you insist that one needn't refer to God's Will to determine the morality or immorality of any given behavior?

So, in case it's not clear from my last answer: I DO think we ought to seek God's Will in determining questions of morality and how to live. I think we do this through prayer and meditation, through our God-given reason, through consideration of history (both bad and good examples), through God's creation and through the stories found in the Bible. As indeed, the Bible teaches.

You do recognize, don't you, that the Bible teaches all of these as ways of seeking God's will, right?

The thing is, the Bible does not insist upon "the Bible" as a "primary source" and certainly not a "sole source" for questions of morality. It just doesn't.

So, seek God's will? Absolutely. Do so without using our God-given reasoning, without contemplation of God's World, of human history and tradition, without prayer... and ONLY using one tool in the toolbox of seeking God? No, I think that's a bad idea. I'm sure you agree.

Craig said...

"Do you agree that YOU use your reasoning, flawed though it may be, to reach understandings about morality?"

I do not rely solely on my reasoning to determine anything. In the case of morality, as it is defined by the dictionary and sociologists, it's a fluid, subjective societal or group consensus which requires very little reasoning to blindly follow. In essence it's simply following peer pressure. (from the dictionary/sociological standpoint) The problem is that I don't have the hubris to assert that the morality of my society is right while others are wrong. Nor would I assert that the consensus of morals reached by another society is objectively wrong no matter how much I disagreed with it. (again from a dictionary/sociological perspective.

Craig said...



For instance, is slavery always immoral, or does it depend upon a whim of a capricious god?

Selling your children?

Forced marriages?

Again using the sociological/dictionary definition of morality the answer to all of these questions must be no. Clearly there are societies and groups who consider these behaviors to be moral within their societies and groups, by what objective standard can anyone say that they are objectively wrong?

It must be frustrating to want so badly to assert objective wrong and right yet have no basis or standard upon which to do so. It has been asserted both by the dictionary, sociologists, and commenters that morality is subjective. (one could say that morality is objectively subjective) So how does one bridge that gap from a subjective morality to objective right and wrong.

Craig said...

"So, you don't care what others think?"

Under what construct do others opinions hold any objective value?
Under what construct should anyone conform their behavior or thought based on what others think?
Basing ones morality on the opinions of others who are by definition flawed and sinful seems like a horribly incredibly bad idea.
I guess MLK should have altered his behavior based on what others thought.

Dan Trabue said...

Again using the sociological/dictionary definition of morality the answer to all of these questions must be no. Clearly there are societies and groups who consider these behaviors to be moral within their societies and groups, by what objective standard can anyone say that they are objectively wrong?

No, it's not frustrating at all.

We don't have to have an objective standard, Craig, to say it's wrong (or immoral, if you prefer) to take away human liberties. I don't know, this is weird. Are you saying that you are not prepared to say that these actions (slavery, murder, rape... of children!) are wrong and always wrong?

Are you not prepared to say that they are immoral, clearly so?

You are taking a strange position and I imagine it's in an effort to make some point, in a vague, nebulous manner. If you want to make a point, why not just make it?

I think this fear of not having an "objective standard" is part of the dementia afflicting our more fundamentalist brothers and sisters (whether that be Mormon, Muslim or Christian fundamentalists)... They NEEED a black and white answer to their questions and so they construct one, which they fail to see they do using their own reasoning. But they are dangerous because they convince themselves that their "black/white" answers are not their reasoning, but from their "god..."

I do not rely solely on my reasoning to determine anything.

Oh? What do you use? Casting logs? Ouija board? Parcheesi?

Of course you use your reasoning. You use your reasoning to take in the data, assess its import and reason out a conclusion. What else CAN you use? Blind stupid obedience to what someone else has told you? What?

Dan Trabue said...

This dancing around with evil ideas is exactly why the sort of Fundamentalist approach to reading the Bible is hellish and insane.

Craig said...

"Are you saying that you are not prepared to say that these actions (slavery, murder, rape... of children!) are wrong and always wrong?"

"Are you not prepared to say that they are immoral, clearly so?"

Not at all. What I am saying, is that using the dictionary/societal definition of morality as subjective that you ascribe to, that it becomes impossible to classify moral standards adopted by other societies or groups as being inherently wrong. My moral standards aren't the issue here it's you willingness to reserve a subjective moral standard for yourself, your society, your group, while determining that other societies subjective moral standards are objectively wrong. I've purposely and intentionally made a point of using the dictionary/sociological definition of morality (which you embrace) in this discussion. It's not my fault that your definition doesn't allow you to impose your subjective moral standards on others. Or to pass judgement on others.

"You are taking a strange position and I imagine it's in an effort to make some point, in a vague, nebulous manner. If you want to make a point, why not just make it?"

Not at all. I'm simply applying the dictionary.sociological definition of morality in an evenhanded manner to groups with different morals, while pointing out that you can't logically leap from subjective morals to objective evil.

"Oh? What do you use? Casting logs? Ouija board? Parcheesi?"

All of the above as well as sacrificing an occasional goat to Satan.

"Of course you use your reasoning."

You know how much I love it when you tell me so adamantly what I do, it must make your feelings of incredibleness grow even more when you can tell others what and how they think

Of course, I'm not dancing around with "evil ideas", I'm just applying the standard you ascribe to logically and consistently. Of course, your still left with a failure to actually label any idea as objectively "evil", but thanks for your opinion.

Dan Trabue said...

What I am saying, is that using the dictionary/societal definition of morality as subjective that you ascribe to, that it becomes impossible to classify moral standards adopted by other societies or groups as being inherently wrong.

Why? I would disagree.

There are some societies that believe in female genital mutilation or forced marriages, I would say it is clearly an attack on human liberty. Clearly, then, it is not impossible to classify their values is inherently wrong.

I DO think we need to be careful about imposing outside values on other cultures, to be sure. While I may not agree with arranged marriages (where all parties are in agreement on the topic), but if people are participating willingly, then I'd also be careful to call that wrong. I would, instead, say that I'm dubious of the morality of the behavior, because it's questionable if women, in particular, truly are free to say No.

Nonetheless, clearly, it IS possible to call actions by other cultures immoral, based on human rights violations. IF one believes that some values are self-evident, as most of us in the free world do.

"Of course you use your reasoning."

You know how much I love it when you tell me so adamantly what I do,


Then answer the question: WHAT do you use other than your human reason?

Answer the question or go away. It's a vital point that you are playing with rather than dealing with directly.

Craig said...

"Why? I would disagree."

Because the dictionary/sociological definition is clear that morality is determined by individual cultures, societies, and groups in consensus. Therefore any moral standard held as consensus by any society or group is by definition moral. Your agreement or lack thereof really has no meaning.

"Clearly, then, it is not impossible to classify their values is inherently wrong."

By your subjective moral standards, not theirs. Again, it's that pesky definition thing that's tripping you up.

"Nonetheless, clearly, it IS possible to call actions by other cultures immoral, based on human rights violations. IF one believes that some values are self-evident, as most of us in the free world do."

If not all in the world agree, then are these values truly, objectively "self evident"? As long as you cling to the subjective morality definition, you have a problem. What, for example, are the objectively defined "human rights"? Who defined them and codified them? Where can they be found?

"Then answer the question: WHAT do you use other than your human reason?"

I've answered this numerous times before. But since you asked. Seances, Voudun, Ouija boards, goat sacrifices, the I Ching, Tarot cards, and occasionally astrology.


Dan Trabue said...

it's that pesky definition thing that's tripping you up.

Morality: a : a doctrine or system of moral conduct b plural

3: conformity to ideals of right human conduct

I'm not tripped up, you are.

And since you're not answering directly actual questions with actual direct answers, you're done here. (I'm assuming you don't actually worship Satan and sacrifice goats to baal or whatever silly-ass non-answers you're offering. You're being belligerent and obtuse.)

Let me know if you ever want to really answer.

Don't respond here on this post again, Craig, unless it begins, "Sorry Dan, I was just messing around. My actual direct answer to your question is..." Other responses will be deleted.

Dan Trabue said...

Read the first few words you wrote, Craig, and then deleted the comment unread. You know what you need to do if you wish to engage in respectful adult conversation.

Dan Trabue said...

Craig, still commenting. Still dodging the reasonable question.

What DO you us, if not reason to sort these moral questions out?

You made a claim, I'm just looking for an answer to the question. This is a reasonable request.

Bubba said...

Dan, I've been glancing in on this thread, mostly out of morbid curiosity, but I think I should make two very quick suggestions.

1. On deleting Craig's comments. Unless Craig's comments are significantly worse than yours, maybe you should give him the liberty to comment. You've repeatedly denigrated an approach to Scripture as "hellish" and "insane," even diagnosing those who take that approach with dementia, and you've told Craig he's being "belligerent and obtuse."

Your blog, your rules, of course, but knowing both of you (to an admittedly limited degree), I find it hard to imagine that a consistent application of a set of rules of decorum would condone your comments while condemning his.

2. On Craig's use or neglect of reason. I haven't read every comment here, much less have I read every comment closely, but the question you're insisting Craig answer doesn't seem to be a precise match to the comment it's addressing, a comment you quoted.

Craig said, and you quoted, the following:

"I do not rely solely on my reasoning to determine anything."

In response, you ask the following, which you describe as a reasonable question:

"What DO you us, [sic] if not reason to sort these moral questions out?"

But Craig didn't say he doesn't use reason: he said doesn't SOLELY use reason, and you seem to miss that key adverb.

I actually think it's a reasonable position, to believe that no one SOLELY uses reason, apart from all other tools. Arguably, reason is nothing more (or little more) than a set of tools to process information, but it needs information TO PROCESS -- "grist for the mill," as it were, and that information can come directly from sensory experience and indirectly from the communication of others.

Regardless of whether his position is reasonable, your question doesn't seem to match his position with any sort of precision. It's as if someone said, "I don't just eat meat," and you're badgering him about why he's a vegetarian.

I think his sarcastic response wouldn't be the most appropriate in all circumstances -- that said, at a certain point, one might reasonably conclude you don't always argue in good faith -- but his response might not be coming from out of the blue.

A more careful reading of the other person's statements might lead to more germane questions on your part and a more productive conversation all around.

Dan Trabue said...

Hello Bubba, welcome. Thanks for the thoughts.

Craig says he does not solely use his reasoning. I'm asking what else he uses, if not his reason. It's a reasonable question I want him to answer before moving on. It's a critical point, and so I am politely insisting. When he answers directly, he can comment.

I've duly noted the "solely" question, noting that of course we pray, we read, we research... And THEN we reason out our understanding, using our reason to sort out the various input.

What else is there?

It is a reasonable and essential question.

Do you get the point?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, if you had to guess, what else do you think he uses so that he's not "solely" using his reasoning to sort out moral questions?

Do you use something besides your reasoning to sort out moral questions? (Again, noting that I'm counting prayer, Bible study, research, meditation, additional information as sources for data which we THEN use our reasoning to sort out). If so, what?

Dan Trabue said...

Craig made some more false claims and continued to dodge the question so the comments were deleted, just for the record.

Dan Trabue said...

Look, this isn't difficult, Craig. YOU claimed, "I do not rely solely on my reasoning to determine anything." YOUR words.

I'm asking, what else do you rely upon?

Answer that reasonable question and then we can move forward. But I am politely insisting that you DO answer that question before making other comments. Don't bother with other comments, they're not even being considered.

It's a reasonable request.

And look, I fully understand that you've probably misunderstood and now feel backed into a corner and are embarrassed to admit it... "Oh, I misunderstood, yes, of course I ultimately use my reason to weigh and sort things out..." But there is no harm in admitting a simple misunderstanding. No one would think less of you for it.

Bubba said...

Dan, instead of asking what he uses "if not his reason", you could ask what Craig uses "in addition to his reason," as that would be a more germane response to what he said and, evidently, a clearer expression of what it is you're asking.

(I see now that you're doing just that. Perhaps you could meet Craig halfway by acknowledging that your original question wasn't perhaps as precise as it could have been. There's no harm in such an admission, and no one would think less of you for it.)

It seems you're bracketing the other things you use in addition to reason -- Bible study, research, additional info, etc. -- and standing aghast at the possibility that Craig also uses other things in addition to reason, and that strikes me as odd. It seems more consistent with an attempt at argument by outrage than a sincere effort to understand Craig's position, no matter how politely you delete his every response that doesn't satisfy you.

I'm not going to speculate on how Craig would elaborate on his comment, but I do think there are tools or "inputs" in addition to data and reason.

- There is what I'd call data, the information one receives either through direct experience or through others' communication.

- There is also reason, which includes at least the processes which one uses to "crunch" the data and draw subsequent conclusions.

- But there are also assumptions which may be considered the other part of reason: these can be reasoned about but not proven. Some are genuine axioms that we must take to be true, such as the law of non-contradiction, others are presumptions that aren't true, such as the presumption that miracles never occur.

- And, finally, there are attitudes which color our process and guide us to reach conclusions that are often beyond what reason strictly requires. These attitudes can be themselves reasonable OR unreasonable, but their resulting conclusions aren't always provable beyond all doubt.

Scripture suggests that attitude is very, VERY important, particularly reverence toward God and humility about yourself. Together, Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 teach that the fear of YHWH (the Lord) is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.

In light of God's omniscience and perfection and holiness, and in light of our limited knowledge and fallibility and fallenness, is it possible that God's actions and commands might sometimes confound our understanding of morality? ABSOLUTELY.

In light of the evidence of the historical and bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, I believe it's quite reasonable to submit to Jesus' every teaching. Did Jesus affirm the authority of Scripture in His teachings and His example? Did He contrast God's word and mere human tradition, implicitly equating the former with Scripture (ie, what Moses taught)? Did He affirm the lasting authority of Scripture to the smallest penstroke, appealing to Scripture in His temptation and in the controversies with the religious teachers and even in His post-Resurrection explanation of why His suffering and death was necessary? YES HE DID, UNMISTAKABLY.

But do I see you exhibit an attitude of humility, either in accepting the possibility of God's revelation confounding your merely human understanding, or in submitting to Christ's affirmation that God's revelation is authoritatively preserved in Scripture?

No, I do not.

On the contrary, you not only take great pains to reject these particular expressions of humility yourself, you categorically denounce -- in the strongest possible terms: insane, graceless, hellish -- those who do otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to be clear about this in this post and in other times when the topic has arisen. In this particular post, the first time it came up, Craig accused my philosophy of being "human focused..."

Like with most of your philosophy it is human focused.

And I said to Craig...

I AM human. My HUMAN understanding and reasoning is what I use to sort out questions about God and morality. It's all I have.

What do you use, if not your human reasoning and understanding?


And I continued to clarify...

...but I will clarify, while my reasoning (coming from ME, a human) is human-based, my desire is God-based. But I use my reasoning... YOU use your reasoning, we all use our reasoning to try to understand God.

That's just the reality of it all.

So, if you are saying that OUR philosophies are based on our understandings we humans hold based on the reasoning we humans employ, you are correct.

IF you are suggesting that I am using my human reasoning, but you have some clear and perfect communication from God so that you don't have to use any reasoning at all, you just lap up what God tells you and pass it on, as God's spokesperson, well, that is obviously not the case.


And, while waiting for Craig to answer, I clarified further...

Craig, do you understand that you have no flawless book of rules to set everyone straight with? That YOU use your reasoning, flawed though it may be, to reach understandings about morality?

Or are you speaking to god and getting your morality straight from that god?


The latter question gets to why this is a critical point. Some in fundamentalist circles act as if they can "know" they are right because they get THEIR information straight from God, no human decisions were involved. "God said it, that settles it!" As if God had spoken straight to them and they had definitive authoritative answers, straight from God and NOT human opinions. This is a vital question.

Whilst waiting still, I further clarified...

What I'm saying is that God is revealed and morality is understood in many different ways, and not one of them is "primary" or exclusive. The Bible speaks of knowing God and God's ways through our God-given reasoning, through our innate moral nature (being created in the image of God, after all, and having the spark of the divine in us, being created just a little lower than God), through tradition, through Scripture, through God's revelation, through the Holy Spirit, through Creation... and reason supports these conclusions from the Bible, I'd say.

Noting that we might glean information and revelation from many sources, according to the Bible and to reason.

more...

Anonymous said...

When Craig did respond more directly to the question, he said...

I do not rely solely on my reasoning to determine anything.

I responded, assuring him that he did use his reasoning...

Oh? What do you use? Casting logs? Ouija board? Parcheesi?

Of course you use your reasoning. You use your reasoning to take in the data, assess its import and reason out a conclusion. What else CAN you use? Blind stupid obedience to what someone else has told you? What?


NOTING that he used his reason to assess data and input and REASON out a conclusion. "WHAT ELSE" I asked (ie, what else beyond JUST your reasoning, NOTING that he's using his reasoning but asking WHAT ELSE?) "can you use?"

If it wasn't clear that I was asking "what ELSE IN ADDITION TO YOUR REASONING do you use..."?, then surely it is now, yes?

But Craig responded by saying...

You know how much I love it when you tell me so adamantly what I do, it must make your feelings of incredibleness grow even more when you can tell others what and how they think...

Clearly, I'm asking the question, seeking clarification. I'm just giving Craig the benefit of the doubt that he IS using his reasoning and STILL I wonder, if "not solely" his reasoning, what else?

I asked...

Then answer the question: WHAT do you use other than your human reason?

OTHER THAN/IN ADDITION TO, WHAT ELSE are you using beyond just your reasoning? Again, if it wasn't clear, I apologize, but now it is clear.

So to reiterate yet one more time: I GET that you are saying you don't use your reasoning SOLELY. I'm asking WHAT ELSE IN ADDITION TO YOUR REASONING are you using?

Again, my apologies if that was less than clear. Now it is clear.

Awaiting an answer.

But Bubba, I don't think this is the problem. I could be wrong, but I don't think Craig was misunderstanding. He has said, somewhere, that I will only mock or tease him if he does give his answer. So, it doesn't sound like he's misunderstanding the question, but that he's afraid his answer will seem silly or mock-able.

Again, it's a reasonable question. I'm simply insisting he give an answer.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

As to your attempt to answer, Bubba, you said...

- There is what I'd call data, the information one receives either through direct experience or through others' communication.

Agreed. The earth around us, the Bible's text, the texts of other books, the human traditions around us, the understanding of language and dialect and tradition related to God and the Bible, etc, all of this is data. We use our reasoning to sort out the meaning and import of this data, and since our reasoning is imperfect, well, our conclusions are not guaranteed in any way to be perfect, especially about matters that we can't objectively prove/demonstrate.

Agreed?

- There is also reason, which includes at least the processes which one uses to "crunch" the data and draw subsequent conclusions.

Agreed.

- But there are also assumptions which may be considered the other part of reason: these can be reasoned about but not proven. Some are genuine axioms that we must take to be true, such as the law of non-contradiction, others are presumptions that aren't true, such as the presumption that miracles never occur.

Agreed. But what do we use to assess/think of/evaluate these assumptions? Do we not use our reasoning? I say yes. What about you?

- And, finally, there are attitudes which color our process and guide us to reach conclusions that are often beyond what reason strictly requires. These attitudes can be themselves reasonable OR unreasonable, but their resulting conclusions aren't always provable beyond all doubt.

I suppose. I might need some concrete specific example to have a better idea of what you mean. But given any attitudes we hold, we still sort through things using our human reasoning, right?

So, I'm not seeing what else we are using BUT our reasoning to sort through all these things. Are you suggesting there is something else?

Thanks for the throughts.

~Dan

Craig said...

"I'm asking, what else do you rely upon?"

I guess it's pointless to point out that this is a different question from the one you demanded I answer, and that you have yet to acknowledge this indisputable fact.

As with many things that problem is in the terms and the meaning. You have made it quite clear that fallible human Reason is "all we have", you've rhetorically asked "What else is there?", so it's clear that you place a high value on and a great deal of faith in your fallible, limited, human Reason. Given that, it's understandable that you judge things like scripture, prayer, theology, Christian scholarship through the lens of what you find to be Reasonable. This is so ingrained in your being that for anyone to suggest any possible alternative is met with derision and skepticism, not with acceptance and grace. So, if I were to say that instead of submitting scripture, prayer. etc. to the litmus test of what I find reasonable, I instead submit what I find reasonable to the litmus test of prayer, scripture, Christian scholarship, the counsel of the body of Christ, I might as well be speaking Tagalog or Urdu for all the sense this perspective makes to you. So, instead of adding to your confusion and making myself a target for your ridicule, derision, and contradiction, I choose not to play this particular game.

I realize that it gives you great satisfaction and pride to be able to delete my comments than falsely represent them. I realize that your commitment to your personal, fallible, limited, human Reason above all else gives you some sort of a sense of power or control, but since it's limited to just you it has no value in any larger context.

I completely understand that you feel like this one way exchange of me explaining things to you, you deleting them, and falsely representing what you've deleted represents a two way, Reasonable, mature, conversation while you pat yourself on the back for your incredible grace. While that may give you some sort of warm feeling, I'm just saddened.

Craig said...

"But Bubba, I don't think this is the problem. I could be wrong, but I don't think Craig was misunderstanding. He has said, somewhere, that I will only mock or tease him if he does give his answer. So, it doesn't sound like he's misunderstanding the question, but that he's afraid his answer will seem silly or mock-able."

In most evangelical Christian circles that answers that I have given you would be considered Orthodox, but with your tendency to ridicule and mock Orthodox Christian thought, my hesitation to engage with you again is understandable.

I have to note that in your version of this thread you somehow managed to give the impression through selective quoting that I have not answered or responded to any of your questions. Again, if this is what you believe Reasonable, adult conversation to be it just reinforces my concerns.

I have to say that you have admirably supported my contention that you consider your human, limited, fallible, Reason to be "all" you have. The simple fact that you have absolutely nothing else that you can rely on besides your human, fallible, limited, Reason is kind of sad in it's hubris.

So, while you reject all except your human, limited, fallible, Reason please understand that there others out in the world that choose not to limit themselves.

Bubba said...

I have a somewhat detailed analogy, but I think it's worth examining closely.

Suppose a situation that's quite typical of a spy novel: an asset is meeting his handler, and the plan is that, at an appointed time, they sit on the same park bench and -- without explicitly acknowledging each other -- subtly exchange copies of the same newspaper, one copy containing the asset's latest report and the other containing the newest set of instructions from the handler.

The asset arrives with his newspaper and his usual coffee from Starbucks, he sits down, and he subtly notices that the handler doesn't have a newspaper. Instead, the handler is reading a magazine, and the asset glances at what he's reading.

The asset sees that the handler is turned to some minimalist advertisement, and he sees some unmistakably hand-written text in the whitespace:

BEING WATCHED.
SNIPER IN THE WOODS.
CAN'T EXCHANGE.
CALL THE MAIN OFFICE.

Trying to remain calm and look as casual as possible, the asset looks at the thick cluster of trees opposite the bench. He doesn't see ANYTHING amiss, much less a hired killer with a rifle.

The asset could do one of two things.

1. He could trust that he saw nothing amiss in the woods, hope that he didn't overlook anything, and attempt the exchange.

2. He could trust that he saw a message from his handler, hope that he read it correctly, and deviate from the protocol -- he could read a few articles in the paper (or pretend to do so), finish his coffee, and walk away, to call a backup phone number that he has for emergencies.

Notice that, EITHER WAY, he has trust his eyesight, either trusting what he saw on the page or trusting what he DIDN'T see in the woods.

He could trust what he saw in the trees (the absence of a threat) to disregard what he saw on that paper, or he could trust what he saw on the page despite what he saw in the trees.

In either case, he can't help but trust his senses, but there's only one option that demonstrates his trust in the agent sitting beside him.

--

I hope my point is clear enough.

Indeed, we must use our reason to comprehend divine revelation, but there's a significant difference between comprehending revelation and effectively dismissing it -- for example, by relativizing it into meaninglessness: "that text isn't a record of God's authoritative revelation to man, it's only a record of man's subjective experience of God," or "the text is meant to be taken figuratively, with some meaning that is quite different from what its original audience took, but don't ask me to elaborate."

The difference is one of attitude, two examples of which I've already given.

One can either humbly accept the possibility that God's revelation will sometimes confound our limited and fallible understanding, or one can arrogantly give his own understanding primacy over all possible revelation.

One can either humbly follow Christ's teachings and example in all things, including on the subject of Scripture's divine authorship and lasting authority, or one can arrogantly make Christ's teachings contingent on whether that person already agrees with the teaching.

In short, one can allow God to reveal new things or limit God to confirming only that which he already knew.

In only one of those two options does the man actually bow to God as Lord.

Craig said...

Bubba,

Maybe you'll see this before it goes away, great analogy. I've been revisiting Scheaffer recently and he makes some extremely compelling arguments about exactly what you are talking about, especially about God communicating with us and about how the Christian/Biblical narrative is the one that best ties together all aspects of life as we experience it under the Lordship of God.

Craig said...

Bubba,

I've been thinking a lot about your last point and I can't get past how much different the gospel of Luke would have sounded had Mary said, "Well Mr. Angel, it's like this. I appreciate your offer, and after using my Reason, I've decided this whole virgin gets pregnant thing just doesn't fit with how I view things. So thanks for the suggestion, but no.".

Dan Trabue said...

Craig...

I instead submit what I find reasonable to the litmus test of prayer, scripture, Christian scholarship, the counsel of the body of Christ...

Is THAT your answer to the question I'm asking?

I'll leave your comments for now while I wait for you to clarify. But no more comments until you clarify, please.

Thanks.

Marshall Art said...

"So here is the great madness in this theory of legalistic Bible reading... You end up with no morality. You can't even say that enslaving human beings is immoral, in and of itself. You can't say that forced marriage, in and of itself is immoral. You can't say that rape, forced marriage, killing children, etc, etc are immoral in and of themselves. They are only "wrong" in the legalists' mind, because there is a line somewhere in the Bible that they take to mean that God condemns it in some - maybe even most - situations, but there, it's only wrong because God said it was, NOT because it was a great strike against human dignity and human liberty and human rights.

And that, is hellish and insane."


The first point is a better example of hellish and insane. Using your terms, the "legalist" begins with morality. Any reason takes place in understanding when, where and how one applies that morality to the every day. The morality itself is obvious. That is, unless you need to reason out "thou shalt not murder". Do you struggle with the difference between specifically murdering as opposed to more generally killing someone? That's not an issue of Scripture and its perfection. It's one of your own shortcomings or lack of comprehension skills considering the two words (Murder v killing) are distinct.

"You can't even say that enslaving human beings is immoral, in and of itself."

Sure I can. And here's why: YOU choose, for whatever "reason", to decide that it is moral. I can go strictly by the teachings of Scripture and never have to worry about why it's immoral. As one who wishes to please God and live in a manner as pleasing to Him as possible, I don't need to know why, or even care why, or even see why a given behavior might not be pleasing to Him. If he says, "Don't", it's enough for me that I don't.

But if I do not understand, comprehend or even realize the existence of a God-mandated prohibition (or directive), my "accidental" behavior has no bearing on the morality of the behavior itself. It stands as either moral or immoral whether I realize it or not while in the commission of that behavior and regardless of my own personal belief about it, OR the consensus opinion of those around me.

So, while I may indeed agree that something like slavery is immoral, the fact that so many in our culture agree does not make it so. The fact that the enslaved might not be keen on the idea of being enslaved does not make it so. You continue to confuse what is moral with what any number of people have decided should not be done for whatever reason. And that in most cases an immoral behavior might be viewed as particularly offensive to our sensibilities, that it might actually result in harm of one person or another, may align with God's reasons for prohibiting it, the very fact that it displeases HIM is what makes it immoral, not that it displeases us.

Marshall Art said...

Case in point. Many, many people are totally annoyed by the moral behavior of devoted Christians. Does that make the Christian immoral, or his behavior immoral? No. And this is true no matter just how annoying and torturous the presence of the Christian and his behavior is for others to bear. And everyone who is annoyed can be in complete agreement that their lives are better without this annoying Christian with his goody two-shoes attitude around. They may be tangibly happier, less stressed. The Christian is still a moral person perpetuating nothing but moral behaviors regardless.

"They are only "wrong" in the legalists' mind, because there is a line somewhere in the Bible..."

This is only true in your mind, not in the mind of those you derisively call "legalists". For them it is a matter of it being enough that it is prohibited in Scripture (or for moral behaviors, prescribed). What harm it might do to others might make it easier to abide if they are empathetic, but not required for adherence. All that is required for such people is that God has prohibited or prescribed. They don't need the details because of their conviction and trust in God. Because of their devotion and love and desire to please God. So strong is this in them, that it becomes or became nothing more than His wish is their command. Should they care to do so, they will speculate as to why it is forbidden or encouraged, but that knowledge or understanding becomes superfluous against the desire to please and obey the Lord.

In the fact of this, how does "reason" improve the situation when devotion to God is our purpose...the "reason" for our existence?

"...it's only wrong because God said it was, NOT because it was a great strike against human dignity and human liberty and human rights."

They're usually one and the same. But the latter is not the reason why it is immoral. The former is. All that other stuff is, hopefully, a culturally ingrained response to bad behaviors which, ironically, is the result of a few thousand years of Judeo-Christian influence and upbringing.

As badly as you seem to need to believe that there's something wrong with me, you can't support that by citing the harm done to others of a given behavior for why it is immoral. That only explains why most people abstain from and punish such behaviors, and that mostly because most people can imagine what it would be like if they suffered from those behaviors. But as to whether or not something is moral, that's the result of God's will alone. We merely commandeer the term/notion for our own purposes.

In the meantime, you can continue pretending God's will for our behavior is an extremely puzzling mystery. I'll continue to acknowledge that it is no more so than "interpreting" what to do when encountering a "STOP" sign while driving.

Craig said...

THE ANSWER, maybe. An explanation just like the rest of the comments you've deleted , definitely.

Anonymous said...

Craig, you have in the past criticized me for not getting your position right. I have tried very hard to get a clear answer from you so that I DO get your position right.

One last time and then I'm done with you if you don't answer clearly... IS that your answer to the very reasonable question I've asked you? Yes or no.

Reasonable people can see that I'm trying very hard and with a great deal of patience to get you to clearly and directly answer a reasonable question based on your claims.

I asked...

I'm asking WHAT ELSE IN ADDITION TO YOUR REASONING are you using?

YOu said...

I instead submit what I find reasonable to the litmus test of prayer, scripture, Christian scholarship, the counsel of the body of Christ...

So, IN ADDITION TO USING YOUR REASONING, you also submit what you find reasonable to the "litmus test" of prayer, scripture, Christian scholarship, etc... Is THAT your answer to the question asked?

If you don't want to answer clearly, say so.

If you're wanting ridicule, you're doing a pretty good job of mocking yourself by these non-answers.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Marshall...

Sure I can. And here's why: YOU choose, for whatever "reason", to decide that it is moral. I can go strictly by the teachings of Scripture and never have to worry about why it's immoral. As one who wishes to please God and live in a manner as pleasing to Him as possible, I don't need to know why, or even care why, or even see why a given behavior might not be pleasing to Him. If he says, "Don't", it's enough for me that I don't.

I am very glad that you can call slavery immoral. Welcome to the 19th century.

But two points on your explanation:

1. God has not said that slavery was immoral. God has not said "Don't," not in the Bible.

2. Indeed, taken literally, sometimes God commands Israel to enslave others, including forcing "virgin girls" into forced marriages (which is actually closer to rape than slavery, or really, sex slavery).

My question, then, is do you think that God sometimes commands people to do what you think is immoral?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Whilst waiting for Craig to have a chance to clarify, let me proceed with what it appears he is saying...

Given that, it's understandable that you judge things like scripture, prayer, theology, Christian scholarship through the lens of what you find to be Reasonable.

Yes, it is. Again, what else is there? Do you do something other than judging those things using your reasoning?

This is so ingrained in your being that for anyone to suggest any possible alternative is met with derision and skepticism, not with acceptance and grace.

If reason is, indeed, the Thing we use to sort through understanding data/input/processes like Scripture, prayer, the opinions of other Christians ("Christian scholarship"), etc, then is it not only reasonable to be skeptical when someone says "I have something in addition to my reasoning to assess these matters..."? And if that same person refuses to clearly say what they have in addition to reason and instead, pussyfoots around, offering silly answers, is it "grace" to assume that "Yeah, they probably DO have some secret Thing in addition to reason that they use..." Or is that a ridiculous leap to make? Skepticism is reasonable, is it not?

instead of submitting scripture, prayer. etc. to the litmus test of what I find reasonable, I instead submit what I find reasonable to the litmus test of prayer, scripture, Christian scholarship, the counsel of the body of Christ

The obvious question to this response is, "SO, what ELSE beyond reason are you using?" Yes, I get that you put your reason to the "litmus test" of Scripture, prayer, etc... BUT how do you assess what those things mean? DO YOU NOT USE YOUR REASON?

IF you pray and truly feel that God is leading you to kill the children of your enemies, and you find support for that in biblical precedent, do you accept that as true, even though your moral reasoning rejects such a conclusion? The thing is, in all this, you are still using your reasoning to assess, "Am I aligning my reason to what the Bible teaches...??" How do you know you're doing this? By using your reasoning!

Where am I mistaken?

Do you see how it could sound as if someone making this line of arguing is just looking for a way to elevate their reasoned out conclusions BEYOND their own reasoning and conflating it to being the same as God's Word?

~Dan

Craig said...

Dan,

If you want that to be the answer, then sure. As I said, it's more than that and I have no desire to try to explain something to you that you clearly haven't understood previously.

If you can accept and acknowledge the differences in our approaches and simply allow those differences to be, that would be great.

The simple answer is that you claim that Reason is "all we have", I'd suggest that there is more and that part of that more is prayer, scripture, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wise counsel of other believers, history, scholarship, and theology. The fact that you reduce everything to the "all there is" of fallible, limited human Reason doesn't mean that you are correct, it just means that that what you'll settle for.

Again, we're talking about two completely different diametrically opposite approaches here. While I understand yours and the rationale that leads you to your Reason is "all we have" approach and I disagree with it, I don't see any point in trying to explain any more about my approach given your inability to even admit that there is any possible option beyond limited, fallible, human Reason. If you can't even accept that there is another option, how could you possibly take any other proposed option seriously.

I'm sorry that your mind is made up. I'm sorry that you can't or won't open yourself up to anything beyond Reason. I'm sorry that you have such a hard time dealing with your frustration. I'm sorry that my previous experience answering this question has made me unwilling to deal with your dismissive ridicule again. Mostly I'm sorry that you can't conceive of any possible alternative beyond limited, fallible human reason.

As far as you being reasonable. I'm sure that you think that misrepresenting deleted comments is reasonable and shows grace. I'm sure you think that failing to acknowledge that your initial question ignored the content of the statement that you claim inspired it. I'm sure you think it's reasonable to ignore my repeated explanations for why I prefer not to go into detail on this topic. I'm sure you think every single thing you do and say is reasonable, because to you Reason is "all we have".

So, if you think the reasonable and grace filled thing to do is to resume deleting and misrepresenting my comments, go right ahead. I can't stop you, and don't care that much. From here on out, my comments will appear elsewhere so as to allow the possibility for others to compare your characterizations with reality.

I'll summarize.

Dan's view- Reason is "all we have", everything else is subject to Dan's individual, limited, fallible, human Reason.

Craig's view- Reason is but one tool in a larger tool box, but is ultimately valuable in so far as it aligns with what we know about God, His nature, and His will.

Craig said...

"Where am I mistaken?"

Clearly and obviously you're not mistaken. You never are. You are correct that the only thing we have to rely on in the entire universe is our limited, fallible, fallen, prejudiced, selfish, human Reason. That's "all there is", there is absolutely nothing else. Everything, everywhere revolves around our individual, fallible, fallen, sinful, limited, human Reason. It's all subjective, we can know nothing objectively, all we can do is apply our limited, fallible, human Reason and hope for the best.

What an absolutely, thoroughly, depressing and self centered worldview to live by. If all you have to offer is your Reason, then I'll take unreasonable any day.

I'd ask you to prove your claim, but you can't. I'd ask you for evidence, but you'll just say "What else is there?".

Anonymous said...

The simple answer is that you claim that Reason is "all we have", I'd suggest that there is more and that part of that more is prayer, scripture, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wise counsel of other believers, history, scholarship, and theology. The fact that you reduce everything to the "all there is" of fallible, limited human Reason doesn't mean that you are correct, it just means that that what you'll settle for.

Sigh.

Instead of being combative and belligerent, you'd be a better ambassador for you line of thinking if you just directly answered questions, Craig.

If you have something you use in addition to reason, then offer it.

Craig...

I'll summarize.

Dan's view- Reason is "all we have", everything else is subject to Dan's individual, limited, fallible, human Reason.

Craig's view- Reason is but one tool in a larger tool box, but is ultimately valuable in so far as it aligns with what we know about God, His nature, and His will.


Allow me to re-summarize.

Dan's view- Reason is "all we have", we use reason to assess everying else... prayer, research, data, etc

Craig's view- Reason is but one tool in a larger tool box that includes access to prayer, research, data, which is sort of the same thing that Dan is saying...

BUT (Craig's view goes) reason is ultimately valuable in so far as it aligns with what I, CRAIG, AND PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH ME THINK WE "know" about God, His nature, and His will... WHICH "KNOWLEDGE" WE USE OUR REASON TO ASSESS.

======

The thing is, Craig, it sounds very much like you use reason the same way I do, to assess the input we all have from a variety of sources. But, you said you have something beyond and in addition to reason and the only thing you point to are the very inputs that I have already acknowledged.

So, the reasonable question is...

what do you have or how are you using your reason in ways that are different than what I am doing?

You are taking exception to my "it's what we have to assess these inputs, what else is there?" but not answering the question.

Failing an answer to this new revised question, we're done, as you don't appear able or prepared to make your case from fear that I'll mock you with my mighty "dismissive ridicule."

As noted elsewhere, no need to do that, you're mocking yourself pretty well.

Again, the only comment I'll accept from you now is to this question:

what do you have or how are you using your reason in ways that are different than what I am doing?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Or put another way, you frame our "disagreement" this way...

Given that, it's understandable that you judge things like scripture, prayer, theology, Christian scholarship through the lens of what you find to be Reasonable.

instead of submitting scripture, prayer. etc. to the litmus test of what I find reasonable,

I instead submit what I find reasonable to the litmus test of prayer, scripture, Christian scholarship, the counsel of the body of Christ


I would frame it this way:

I seek God, the good, the right, Jesus' Way to live.
I have various ways of doing this, prayer, meditation, Bible study, research, human tradition, the creation around me, etc.
When I seek God through these various ways, I use reason to assess my conclusions and to weigh the data against each other.

Craig seeks God, the good, the right, Jesus' way to live.
Craig tries to submit his reasoning to what is found in prayer, meditation, Bible study, research, human tradition, etc.
Craig uses his reason to sort out and assess what he finds in these various sources.

What is different from my way and your way?

I'll entertain an answer to that question, too. Please be direct and clear.

Thanks,

Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, I would reiterate the point of that espionage analogy. Truly, I agree with you that we must use our reason to DISCERN revelation, but that doesn't give us license to DISCARD revelation.

My interest in this discussion is tied to a question that I asked quite a while back, for which I don't remember your ever providing an answer. The issue was the clarity of communication, of text in general, and of the Bible in particular.

I had asked whether you believe any teaching of the Bible is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement. I distinguished between a teaching's clarity and its truthfulness -- Dawkins' writing is quite clear in asserting that God doesn't exist, even as I reject the assertion as false -- and I provided as examples two of the Bible's most obvious teachings:

- the existence of God: in other words, theism, the foundation of monotheism and Trinitarianism, without which the Greatest Commandment is nonsense.

- the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus: the claim is made clearly enough in texts that are explicit about their trustworthiness (especially Luke and John's gospels), and after naming witnesses to the Risen Christ, Paul is emphatic that, if Christ isn't raised, our faith is in vain.

I don't believe you clearly answered the question, and your apparent position is that NO teaching is beyond reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

If that's so, combining that position with your claim here leads to some very interesting results.

- On the one hand, reason is the ONLY tool available for understanding divine revelation.

- On the other hand, reason is an INADEQUATE tool for reaching any conclusion with confidence.

God always mumbles -- or He effectively mumbles, since we are always so hard of hearing that we can't ever really know what He says.

That's convenient, Dan. It provides an always-present escape hatch for avoiding being convicted that you're EVER in defiance of God's will: "You say God says such-and-such, but you're using your fallible human reason to reach that conclusion, you don't speak for God, I should follow God rather than man," et cetera, ad nauseam.

But it's incoherent. It claims that we're fallible on every possible point, but it's built on the presumption that you are infallible when it comes to the extent of human fallibility.

"I seek God, the good, the right, Jesus' Way to live."

You can say that, but you've set yourself up to be impervious from even the most incontrovertible correction -- and along the way, you flat-out rail against those who are ALSO seeking God, but who dare to believe that God's revelation is sometimes clear beyond reasonable doubt.

I can say with confidence, Dan, that grace does not include the requirement to pretend that God's revelation is always murky, nor does grace permit us to denounce as demonic lunatics those who reject that supposed requirement.

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

I would reiterate the point of that espionage analogy. Truly, I agree with you that we must use our reason to DISCERN revelation, but that doesn't give us license to DISCARD revelation.

Agreed. IF God has revealed something to me and I discard that revelation, that's not a good thing.

IF, on the other hand, someone assures me, "Yah know, GOD has revealed this to me so you better believe me I'm right and speaking for God!" and I opt to disagree with that fella's hunch, that is not the same as disregarding God.

I'm positive you can agree with the principle.

I had asked whether you believe any teaching of the Bible is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

I believe I answered fairly clearly, but I'll re-answer:

I think there are many teachings of the Bible that are extremely clear, what I WOULD THINK is beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement. I would think that Jesus' pacifism/anti-war stance is that clear. I would think that Jesus' simple living/bent towards the poor and marginalized is that clear, I would think that God being a God of love is that clear, that slavery is immoral is that clear, etc, etc. I think there are many things that would SEEM to be clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement.

At the same time, I recognize that Christians, people I am certain are moral and operating in good faith, would disagree with me on many of these points.

Thus, I conclude that no, I'm not at all sure that such a teaching is there, because humanity has proven to be able to disagree on just about everything, even with good intent.

So, I think you understand me aright.

Bubba...

- On the one hand, reason is the ONLY tool available for understanding divine revelation.

- On the other hand, reason is an INADEQUATE tool for reaching any conclusion with confidence.


I would modify that to say that reason does not allow us to reach any conclusions on topics that can not be objectively proven/demonstrated with absolute confidence. I think reason IS adequate for us to reach most conclusions with reasonable confidence.

We are not gods (although created in God's image, just a little lower than God and given by God our reason), so no, I do not think we can have absolute confidence in our reason. Do you?

More...

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

That's convenient, Dan. It provides an always-present escape hatch for avoiding being convicted that you're EVER in defiance of God's will

For dishonest people, intent on lying and deceiving, it does make it "convenient" for such people to try to abuse morality and reason and God's Word. For people like you and I and others who sincerely seek God, I don't see how it's "convenient." It's just the reality of our fallen and imperfect nature. No "escape hatch" wanted or desired for people of good faith. We seek God. I assume that is true for you and know it is true for me, imperfect fella that I am.

God always mumbles -- or He effectively mumbles, since we are always so hard of hearing that we can't ever really know what He says.

That is not what I'm saying, but if you want to conclude that for yourself, that's fine. Just know it's not what I'm saying at all. I think God is abundantly clear enough, we should love, we should support, we should be kind, we should be honest, we should, ultimately, embrace grace as we deal with ourselves and our neighbors. Do I know perfectly what that means? No, but then, neither do you.

Do you?

But it's incoherent. It claims that we're fallible on every possible point

I don't find it incoherent. I find it to be simple reality. I don't see any evidence to point to the conclusion that we have partially perfect understanding (now THAT sounds incoherent!), and isn't that what you're arguing? That is, you're not arguing the crazy, that we have perfect understanding of all things, but that we have PARTIALLY PERFECT understanding and our PARTIALLY able to PERFECTLY understand God... what does that mean? On what topics? Says who?

See the problem? It's incoherent on the face of it.

you flat-out rail against those who are ALSO seeking God, but who dare to believe that God's revelation is sometimes clear beyond reasonable doubt.

See above. Reality does not support a "partially perfect" incoherency.

grace does not include the requirement to pretend that God's revelation is always murky

That's not my argument. Instead, by grace, I argue that people who disagree with me on topics where I think God is abundantly clear that, no matter how clear it seems to me, that they in good faith disagree. How is that not grace? How is that not reasonable?

~Dan

Craig said...

Dan

I've said what I have to say. The fact that you want to recast it to make yourself think we agree is not something I can control.

Personally, I can't help but feel pity for someone who has nothing at all to rely on but his personal, fallible, limited, human Reason. I'm tired of correcting and explaining , I'm tired of seeing you consistently misrepresent those who disagree with you to the point that you probably think your version is accurate.

You've gotten what your going to get from me on this topic. Delete, denigrate , ridicule, presume, misrepresent, if it helps you.

Craig said...

If Reason is "all we have", then doesn't any conclusion arrived at using Reason become the right conclusion? Or at least right for the individual using Reason?

Anonymous said...

No, I think I'll leave it be. You appear to have made all the case that you are capable of making and there simply isn't anything there. So far as I can see, based on YOUR words, the thing you have in addition to reason is... nothing. The answer to the question is, you have nothing in addition to reason that you use.

You simply haven't answered with anything else.

You HAVE said, sort of in a different tack than what you claimed, that you try to align your reasoning to what the Bible, prayer, human tradition, etc have taught you, but you use your reason to sort all of that out.

I don't know if you actually see something else or it's just wishful thinking that is clearly not there, but you can't admit it... I don't know. I'm just telling you that if you have made a case that you use something in addition to your reason, I'm not seeing it.

As to your questions, I'm glad to answer them:

If Reason is "all we have", then doesn't any conclusion arrived at using Reason become the right conclusion?

No. Since our reasoning is not perfect, then it could clearly be mistaken reasoning.

Or at least right for the individual using Reason?

If someone is seeking the Good and the Right and they've reached X conclusion on Topic 1, then that is the best that they know to do.

For instance, if, given the reality of WWII, a soldier truly thought the best, most righteous and just way to end the war and save lives and do the right thing was to bomb Hiroshima, then he was acting on that moral question as best he knew how. However, if it turns out that was an immoral decision, then he was wrong.

As we know, people of good faith disagree on whether or not it was a moral decision and we have NO WAY of settling that question with 100% certainty here on earth. He did the best he knew and was either right or wrong. The Muslim extremists who attacked NY, IF they thought they were doing right, did right the best they knew how and were either right or wrong.

This is the problem with a unique sacred text as THE Sole Decider... people of good faith will reach their conclusions, for better or worse, and sometimes it will be monstrous decisions... BUT they will feel comfortable because they "know" god is on their side and they were just doing what god wanted.

If, on the other hand, human rights and harm are a major part of our decision process AND we know we are fallible in deciding where that line lies, well, I think it is a much clearer decision AND we will make that decision humbly, knowing we can be mistaken.

Finally...

I can't help but feel pity for someone who has nothing at all to rely on but his personal, fallible, limited, human Reason.

So, you pity yourself, since you have offered ZERO things you use beyond your pitiful, fallible human reason. If you think you have offered something, I can tell you, anyone objective reading this will be forced to say, "um, no, he didn't." (and I have asked others and no, they don't see anything else.)

There simply was nothing else that you offered beyond what I'm talking about (ie, you are only speaking of your reason).

Rather than take offense at that or attempting to mock ME for not seeing your glorious answer, perhaps the better part of humility will be to consider why no one but you can see your answer (apparently not even Bubba, since he opted to not try to answer for you... although he can certainly clarify) but you.

~Dan

Craig said...

I just want to thank you for choosing to characterize my position in a manner that you believe makes your position stronger and diminishes mine. Unfortunately, the actual words I used undermine your claim, some of which you've conveniently deleted. By all means construct the end of this thread however you wish to make you look good.

Unfortunately, your underlying premise, (Reason is all we have) remains unproven. While your subjective,limited, human centric, worldview, bolstered by your personal, subjective, fallible, limited, human Reason seems attractive to you, to others it just seems depressing and full of despair.

Anonymous said...

And truly, Bubba (or Marshall, or anyone else out there), if you DO see some Thing that Craig has said he uses in addition to his reason, I'd love to hear your theory of what he has said, and maybe he'll clarify.

With the note that saying, "I strive to align my reason with what the Bible, etc, says..." [NOT AN EXACT QUOTE, just summing it up, lest I be accused of "lying" about your words] is not the same thing as having some other Thing that one uses. That is merely saying that he strives to understand God and align his reasoning with what HE HAS REASONED that these other things say...

Thanks,

Dan

Anonymous said...

your underlying premise, (Reason is all we have) remains unproven.

As is the claim that we have some other Thing in addition to Reason, right?

If you want to comment again, please answer that question.

On the other hand, we are all in agreement that we DO in fact use our reason, so at least that much is agreed upon by all. The question then is what other Thing do we have beyond our Reason? I'm glad to say there is some Thing else IF someone will make, you know, a reasonable case for it.

Thanks.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

While your subjective,limited, human centric, worldview, bolstered by your personal, subjective, fallible, limited, human Reason seems attractive to you, to others it just seems depressing and full of despair.

And please stop thinking you can speak for me. You have a decidedly bad history of guessing what my words mean. I'm not saying and NEVER have said that our human Reason is attractive to me. I'm saying it IS what we have. And I'm asking the question, "What else is there?" Which question remains unanswered.

I would LOVE to hear there's a Magical Thing we can use to reach perfect knowledge (or even "partial perfect knowledge..." if that made any rational sense) and not be fallible. But no one I know of has suggested such a Magical Thing exists.

A wise man once promised that right here and now, we only know in part, but one day we will know in full. Right now, we see as through a glass, darkly, but then we shall see clearly.

So, no, I'm not at all saying I find fallible human reason attractive. I'm saying it is what we have.

Having said that, I would settle if people would just use their reason and abandon magical thinking. Even flawed, fallible human reasoning is better than magical thinking.

One man's opinion.

~Dan

Dan Trabue said...

? It is meaningless because you are doing nothing to make your case. So, we have me, answering your questions, directly, clearly and pointing to observible reality (we do, observably, indisputably, have our reasoning) and you, making unsupported claims and obfuscating, not directly answering questions and making character attacks... Which is fine if you're satisfied with making meaningless, unsupported claims. But that's on you, not me.

Dan Trabue said...

As to your comment...

your incredible offer of proof of your underlying premise is absolutely nothing

It is an odd and rather meaningless comment. What offer of proof? YOU had said...

Unfortunately, your underlying premise, (Reason is all we have) remains unproven.

So allow me to clarify for you what I've been saying all along. YOU had said that you had something in addition to reason to rely upon, when you said you don't solely rely upon reason.

I responded by saying that we DO have reason - no one disputes this - and then I asked the question, WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE BEYOND, IN ADDITION TO REASON?

It was a question, not a statement.

Now, given some time to think about it and given your inability to offer anything else, I am pretty confident that Reason is what we have to sort things out and I know of nothing else beyond Reason, but I remain open to the possibility of some other Thing, I've just been waiting for you to present it.

What else, in addition to reason, do you use?

And so your question about my "underlying premise" is, itself based on a false premise. To repeat: My premise is: We all use our reason to sort out matters of faith and morality AND I know of nothing else that we use in addition to Reason.

If you have something, now would be the time to point it out.

But seriously, only answers to the questions (in bold above) that have been asked of you. Other comments will be deleted UNTIL SUCH TIME as you actually answer some of the questions being put to you. Not out of an effort to silence you, but to try to get you to focus on your claims and clarify what you actually mean.

Telling me, "I already answered it..." tells me nothing, since there are no answers to that question in this post. If you truly answered it in this post, all you need to do is copy and paste it and say, "Here is the answer..."

Dan Trabue said...

In case you have a hard time finding the outstanding, reasonable questions, here they are collected for you:

1. Yes, I get that you put your reason to the "litmus test" of Scripture, prayer, etc... BUT how do you assess what those things mean? DO YOU NOT USE YOUR REASON?

2. What do you have or how are you using your reason in ways that are different than what I am doing?

3. What is different from my way and your way?

4. CRAIG: "your underlying premise, (Reason is all we have) remains unproven."

As is the claim that we have some other Thing in addition to Reason, right?

5. What else, in addition to reason, do you use?

Bubba said...

Dan, in the classic book, Economics in One Lesson (available for free online), Henry Hazlitt distills Bastiat's story about the broken window into the "one lesson" of economics:

Do not judge an economic policy ONLY by the short-term effects on one group, but on the long-term effects on ALL groups.

I believe that a similar principle ought to guide all our reasoning about ethics, especially Christian ethics. After all, we are not called just to love one particular neighbor, we're called to love EVERY neighbor.

A judge who commutes a murderer's sentence from execution to life without parole -- or, better yet, pardons him entirely -- can be said to have shown much grace and mercy to that man, but what about everybody else? What about his victim or victims and his/their friends and family? What about the rest of society, including potential murderers and potential victims whose lives may be changed by how strict or lenient the criminal justice system proves to be toward those who commit murder?

A commuted death sentence sends the message that the victim's life is worth less than the murderer's life, and a full pardon sends the message that the victim's life wasn't worth enough to punish the man responsible for ending it, and I don't see how either demonstrates much grace at all to the innocent man OR his survivors.

It's Adam Smith's famous statement, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

(Since Christian ethics aren't actually wholly dictated by any principle of harm -- the Bible doesn't teach it, and the tenth commandment is incoherent if "no harm" is sufficient for an act to be moral -- our duty to an immortal soul doesn't end with the death of his mortal body. Hence, we should honor our parents even after their deaths, we should take care never to desecrate anyone's remains, and we have no liberty to slander a person or gossip about him just because he's dead.)

No man is an island, no action takes place in a vacuum.

--

This principle ought to be applied to the subject at hand, in at least two ways.

First, I don't believe grace compels us to extend the benefit of the doubt EVEN when an issue is absolutely clear, it seems you disagree, but in extending the benefit of the doubt on the **CONTENT** of a text, you adamantly refuse the benefit of the doubt on the **CLARITY** of a text.

I had asked whether you believe "any teaching of the Bible is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement," and you replied, "I'm not at all sure that such a teaching is there, because humanity has proven to be able to disagree on just about everything, even with good intent."

That sounds humble enough, but I notice how you treat those who disagree on your position that no teaching is absolutely clear: you condemn them, denigrate them, and even almost literally demonize them, by calling their position graceless and hellish and insane, and by accusing them of dementia and megalomania.

Second, in focusing on extending grace to the recipients of a message, you ignore the duty to extend grace to the author of that message -- for I do not see how it is loving and gracious to insist that, no matter how careful and precise and emphatic he is, EVERY ASPECT of his message will always be subject, not only to the distortions of dishonest and unreasonable men, but EVEN to reasonable, good faith misunderstandings.

This becomes particularly dangerous to one's moral duties when the message is a divine revelation, whose author is God, to whom we owe our first duty.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what your opening economics analogy is supposed to mean or how it relates, just fyi. I agree, no action takes place in a vacuum.

However, in it, you said...

(Since Christian ethics aren't actually wholly dictated by any principle of harm -- the Bible doesn't teach it,

...and that relates to the point of this post, I think.

1. I think clearly and obviously, the Bible includes teachings that are supportive of the principle of harm. "Do not shed innocent blood," for instance. It's wrong to enslave, kill, rape innocent bystanders because it is a shedding of innocent blood and it is WRONG to do so. I could go on, but that's not really the point.

2. The point is, IF I were to insist, "GOD has declared the Principle of Harm, straight from God to Us. We must therefore obey it because it is clearly in the Bible, ie, it is clearly a teaching from God!!"

3. THAT would be insane and hellish. To lift a few lines from the Bible, declare them a "principle from God" and suggest/demand that those who disagree with that "principle" are disagreeing with God, not the human inventors of the principle.

4. No, we conclude a Harm Principle NOT because "the Bible," but because it is reasonable. It is something closer to an observable, measurable criteria by which we can live life in community/society.

Just by way of another example of my original point.

To the rest of your points, I can certainly agree that this "harm principle" is not the end all and be all of how we treat one another. It is a reasonable starting point.

"What rules should we create to enact as laws that everyone must obey? How about the 14th chapter of Leviticus, in its entirety and taken literally? Or how about one of the "law" chapters from the Koran, taken literally?"

No, that's not a reasonable starting place, because who has the authority to say that we SHOULD take either of these sources, literally, as a set of rules for a society today? God has not told us this and most of us can probably agree WE don't think it's rational, even though it's "biblical."

No, directly lifting verses and "principles" from the Bible is not a good starting point for creating rules for living today simply because "the Bible..." (or "the Koran..."). BUT, do no harm, this is reasonable, we can all see the validity of it. It's relatively clear, at least in broad strokes. It's a reasonable starting point, seems to me.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

"I'm not at all sure that such a teaching is there, because humanity has proven to be able to disagree on just about everything, even with good intent."

That sounds humble enough, but I notice how you treat those who disagree on your position that no teaching is absolutely clear: you condemn them, denigrate them, and even almost literally demonize them, by calling their position graceless and hellish and insane, and by accusing them of dementia and megalomania.


I disagree. What I am doing (at least striving to do, I don't do it perfectly, to be sure) is the epitome of rationality and grace. The principle I strive for is to, when I disagree with ideas, attack THE IDEAS, but not the person.

I disagree with the "worship principle" people but I am not negating their Christianity. I am not saying they are insane. I am not saying they are bad people. Indeed, I'm quite sure they are moral, good Christians. BUT, I disagree with this idea of creating out of whole cloth a "principle" based on a few out of context verses lifted out of the Bible and elevating that to God's Word. That, to me, is insane and very potentially hellish (creating a graceless, loveless world, devoid of God). That is, to be sure, hyperbole, but I don't think hyperbole is wrong, in and of itself (indeed, characters in the Bible use it, including Jesus).

I find it reasonable to, IF I disagree with an IDEA strongly enough, to attack THE IDEA. I don't think there's anything innately wrong with that. But attacking the idea is not the same as calling the authors of the idea demons or wolves or false teachers (that is something that conservative Christians have often done to me but I've not returned that favor...)

So, respectfully, I disagree with the idea of attacking ideas that I think are bad or that it is graceless or "mean" towards the authors of said ideas. I have to believe that you would agree with me, now that I've explained the difference. But you can tell me.

Any chance you might give some consideration to asking the questions I asked of you?

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Bubba...

you ignore the duty to extend grace to the author of that message -- for I do not see how it is loving and gracious to insist that, no matter how careful and precise and emphatic he is, EVERY ASPECT of his message will always be subject, not only to the distortions of dishonest and unreasonable men, but EVEN to reasonable, good faith misunderstandings.

This becomes particularly dangerous to one's moral duties when the message is a divine revelation, whose author is God, to whom we owe our first duty.


I don't believe I have any duty to speak on God's behalf what God has not said.

I DO believe I have a duty to be humble, not arrogant, a duty to God and myself.

I DO believe that Jesus came down quite harshly on those who did presume to speak for God.

I DO believe that we ought to extend grace to one another, even when I think someone is clearly wrong. And what does that mean? Does that mean I say, "Well, I can't prove you're mistaken on this point, so I guess we'll assume we're ALL correct!" No. I don't think it means I have to agree when I think someone is mistaken, especially on serious matters. But it does mean, to me, that I do extend some grace, some benefit of the doubt. If the person is, by all accounts, quite sincere in his/her attempts to follow God/Jesus, I don't try to tell them they aren't sincere. But I might say on some points, I believe they are clearly sincerely mistaken.

This is extending grace to me, and yet, striving to live to the ideals I believe Jesus' taught (which includes humility and extending grace). So, no, I do not believe it is ignoring my duties to God to be gracious and humble towards others, even while disagreeing with them.

I certainly don't want to go down the Pharisee road. If the Bible's stories teach us nothing, it certainly warns us of that.

Seems reasonable to me.

~Dan

Bubba said...

(Not quite done with addressing yesterday's response. Will tackle today's comments later...)

Dan, I had written that I didn't think you had clearly answered my question, and what you write now still isn't clear.

Again, I had asked about whether ANY teaching of the Bible is clear beyond any reasonable, good-faith disagreement, and on the one hand, you've now replied, "I'm not at all sure that such a teaching is there."

But on the other hand, you disagree with my saying you believe that God **effectively** mumbles: that's not what you're saying at all, "I think God is abundantly clear enough."

But on the other, OTHER hand -- back to hand #1 -- you reject the term you coin of "partially perfect understanding."

"that we have PARTIALLY PERFECT understanding and our PARTIALLY able to PERFECTLY understand God... what does that mean? On what topics? Says who?"

If we don't have such understanding, I can't fathom what YOU might mean when you deny that God mumbles and affirm that He is "abundantly clear enough."

--

I actually kinda like the phrase, "partially perfect understanding," but I would amend it to make it less ambiguous. You write that the phrase "sounds incoherent," but that might be ONLY because you have the adverb "partially" modify the adjective "perfect," and it's hard to imagine perfection that is only partial. But both modifiers should apply to "understanding," not to each other.

A better phrase would be "partial and perfect understanding," but even that sounds incoherent unless one recognizes that a thing can be simultaneously perfect in one aspect and imperfect in another respect.

(Suppose there's a math professor who's very careful in his thinking, but he has a cast on his writing hand, and he just wrote a simple geometry proof on the whiteboard. What he wrote might be simultaneously perfect in its logic and quite imperfect in its penmanship.)

An even clearer phrase would be the second of this pair of definitions.

- Absolute Confidence, Comprehensive Scope (ACCS). "A person can be absolutely confident about ALL proposition."

- Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS). "A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."

I reject the first but affirm the second. It seems you reject both -- and it seems you're ABSOLUTELY confident that ACLS is false, and **THAT** is what is incoherent, that a person can be absolutely confident that absolute confidence is impossible for ALL propositions.

Or maybe I missed your tentative and provisional attitude toward your hunches about the "simple" reality of our fallen and imperfect nature -- and since those are hunches and not claims about which you're absolutely confident, I guess I missed the benefit of the doubt you gave toward those who disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

If we don't have such understanding, I can't fathom what YOU might mean when you deny that God mumbles and affirm that He is "abundantly clear enough."

1. We don't have "partially perfect understanding" because it is rationally inconsistent, seems to me.

1a. If we DO have "partially perfect understanding," then we would have to have an exact and comprehensive list of those Things We Understand Perfectly.

1b. If we didn't have such a list, HOW would we know which things we understood perfectly and which ones we didn't? Based on what?

1c. Where would such a list come from and would it be authoritative? According to whom? Who would have the authority to affirm it perfectly?

See the problem?

2. I mean that...

2a. God IS clear enough to understand for most people, generally speaking and

2b. The reality that we humans disagree on things that seem abundantly clear to one or the other or both indicates that, in spite of how clear God may be, we humans are fallible enough to sincerely not understand just about everything.

Is there any data to indicate this is a mistaken belief? I don't know of any.

You define my "partially perfect understanding" thusly...

- Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS). "A person can be absolutely confident about SOME propositions."

which is fine. The problem with this is, WHICH propositions can we be absolutely confident about? Where is the authoritative list? Who is in a place of authority to affirm the ABSOLUTE correct nature of the list?

If we don't have an authoritative list, then how do we know which things can't be mistaken about? I think Jesus is clearly pacifistic in nature, abundantly clear. Is Jesus' pacifism on the list and thus, we can have AC in the Quaker, Amish and other Peacemaker's understandings? If it's not on the list, who made that call and under what authority?

Do you see the problem I'm getting at?

Thanks for the respectful discussion.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan, to address one more thing from yesterday, you write:

"IF, on the other hand, someone assures me, 'Yah know, GOD has revealed this to me so you better believe me I'm right and speaking for God!' and I opt to disagree with that fella's hunch, that is not the same as disregarding God.

"I'm positive you can agree with the principle.
"

You presume too much, and to whatever degree I find your principle reasonable, as a Christian I know of two or three dozen obvious exceptions.

Maybe you've heard of them. Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, John, Paul...

Again I would direct your attention to Jesus and His approach to the Old Testament.

Moses frequently claimed to announce what God has said, sometimes at great length, and many of the passages you find the most difficult to accept as divine revelation came from Moses saying, "The Lord said such-and-such." But look at Mark 7:9-13, and you'll see that Jesus treats as interchangeable "the commandment of God," what "Moses said," and "the word of God."

Isaiah frequently claimed to speak for God, with the same formula, "The Lord said." Among his prophesies is the clearest Old-Testament expression of the penal substitutionary atonement which you reject, but in one of your favorite passages from the Gospels -- the sermon in Luke 4 -- Jesus quotes Isaiah and claims to have fulfilled one of this mere man's oracles from God.

And the most explicit example of Jesus quoting some fella who said that God said something is probably in Mark 12:35-37.

There, Jesus quotes His ancestor David quoting God, who's speaking to Jesus.

(The verse is Psalm 110:1, the English is unclear -- "the Lord says to my lord" -- because it uses the same word "lord" for two different Hebrew words. What David actually wrote was, YHWH (the Divine Name, unmistakably God) said to my adonai (master), "Sit at my right hand," etc. This was seen as a clear allusion to the Messiah, whom we discover is Jesus.)

In addition to what the other synoptic writers have, Mark records that Jesus straight-out affirms divine inspiration. It wasn't just that David claimed to speak for God, but that David was "in the Holy Spirit" when he declared what God said.

And the reason Jesus brought up the passage was to point out the seeming conundrum of the Messiah's simultaneous descent from David and supremacy TO David -- a supremacy that hints at the Messiah's divinity.

What Jesus implies here, He makes explicit elsewhere: by claiming to forgive sins and by saying, "Before Abraham was, I am," Jesus of Nazareth unmistakably claimed to be God, the Creator of the universe.

(The immediate audience knew what Jesus was saying, and they accused Him of blasphemy; the Gospel writers don't seem to condemn them for misunderstanding what He taught, but rather for not BELIEVING that He is who He claimed to be.)

He didn't just claim to speak for God, He claimed to **BE** God, and at the same time He did affirm that the OT prophets were telling the truth when they clearly claimed to speak for God.

But your principle would lead us to be skeptical about all these fellas -- Jesus, the Prophets He affirmed, the Apostles He commissioned -- and leave us free to disagree with their hunches. And yet you claim to follow Jesus.

I can't square that circle.

Bubba said...

Dan, I would add that your principle above gets the order wrong when it comes to how we approach Jesus and (implicitly) the Prophets and Apostles whom He authorized, whose teachings have been preserved in Scripture.

We are NOT called to recognize His (and their) authority because we find that we already agree with what they teach.

We are called to submit to what He teaches BECAUSE WE RECOGNIZE HIS AUTHORITY.

Jesus was a good teacher, truly and literally the greatest teacher, and yet look at the reactions of those disciples He personally called, who traveled with Him and talked with Him for about three years. They didn't immediately see the truth of everything that He taught -- "This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?" -- but the journey wasn't about trusting Him because of His teachings, it was about trusting His teachings because of Him.

On the one hand, we have the benefit of the full revelation of Scripture and the hindsight of the cross and the empty tomb, but on the other hand we're at a remove of nearly two millennia, separated by great spans of language and culture. The Twelve were called to believe even the most challenging of Jesus' teachings, and so are we.

Certainly, we can pick and choose which of Jesus' teachings we like, and claiming that the "simple reality" of life is that no one can authoritatively speak for God, we may even condemn Jesus not only for daring to do just that, but for claiming to be God Himself.

We can do all this, many people do, but if we're consistent with our beliefs and honest with ourselves, we will not then claim to be followers of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

You presume too much, and to whatever degree I find your principle reasonable, as a Christian I know of two or three dozen obvious exceptions.

Maybe you've heard of them. Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, John, Paul...


We could debate this, but for now, I'll be glad to amend what I said to, "IF, on the other hand, someone LIVING TODAY assures me, 'Yah know, GOD has revealed this to me so you better believe me I'm right and speaking for God!' and I opt to disagree with that fella's hunch, that is not the same as disregarding God.

Surely we can agree on this? Or not, you tell me.

If not, it seems you'd have the same problem as with your Absolute Confidence, Limited Scope (ACLS) theory... WHICH people are the ones who are speaking with the authority of God? Says who? On what bases?

It is an appeal to HUMAN power and authority that I'm not willing (and good Reason would suggest not be willing) to concede, PRECISELY because I'm striving to follow God, not humans.

We are NOT called to recognize His (and their) authority because we find that we already agree with what they teach.

We are called to submit to what He teaches BECAUSE WE RECOGNIZE HIS AUTHORITY.


Okay. And I don't agree with humans who interpret what they taught in a bad, irrational and/or unbiblical way. BECAUSE I recognize God's authority.

See?

We can do all this, many people do, but if we're consistent with our beliefs and honest with ourselves, we will not then claim to be followers of Jesus.

Well, respectfully, I disagree with your human opinion on that matter, precisely because I'm a follower of Christ.

~Dan

Bubba said...

Dan,

Having said all that, I can think I can address today's responses somewhat briefly, and in the order in which you made them, with a major exception to come.

--

I mentioned Hazlitt en route to making two points that I thought I made quite clear and emphatic.

1. While you may be giving people too much benefit of the doubt when it comes to disagreeing with you on the **CONTENT** of a text, you give others no room whatsoever to disagree with you on the **CLARITY** of a text.

2. While you may be acting in love give the **READERS** of a text to believe that literally no message is beyond a reasonable, good-faith disagreement, it is not loving toward the **AUTHOR** of the text to believe that -- because it means that no part of his communication can ever be unmistakably clear, no matter how careful and precise and emphatic.

In both cases, you're invoking the duty of love quite selectively.

What's worse, you're trying to ensure that love is shown to the PURELY HYPOTHETICAL person who claims that the Bible isn't clear about the existence of God or the historicity of the Resurrection, but you're doing so at the expense of real people -- Craig and Marshall and Stan and others who dare argue with you, and Moses and Paul and others whose teachings you effectively dismiss.

--

A discussion of harm and morality would be interesting, but I brought it up **ONLY** to make the point, related to number 2 above, that we have a duty to a text's author text that survives his death, even when he is now safe from any real harm our actions might cause.

As you say, it's just a starting point: and even if one could argue that all harmful acts are immoral, that doesn't imply that all immoral acts are harmful.

That, quite clearly, is contrary to Scripture, which does not limit immoral behavior to strictly harmful behavior. Otherwise, about half the Ten Commandments would hardly make sense, because no harm results from prostrating yourself before a statue, from treating the Sabbath as just another day, or merely coveting those nice things your neighbor has.

--

About distinguishing between the idea and the person, I'm not sure it would be that difficult to find examples of your attacking the person and not just his idea, and at any rate, I think the difference is probably irrelevant.

Does a rational person hold to irrational ideas? Does a graceful person hold to graceless ideas?

It almost sounds like the concept loving the sinner but hating the sin, but that concept does NOT require us to deny that the person is a sinner. Indeed, the truly loving thing may involve being honest, not only that he is a person who has committed sins, but that his doing so makes him a sinner.

--

I don't know of ANY questions you've directed to me personally, which I have not addressed.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

You write, "I DO believe that Jesus came down quite harshly on those who did presume to speak for God."

Ah, yes, men like Moses and Isaiah and David.

--


You claim, "If we DO have 'partially perfect understanding,' then we would have to have an exact and comprehensive list of those Things We Understand Perfectly."

I don't see why that would be required at all.

I don't need an exact and comprehensive list of all squirrels in existence (or all mammals, or all objects generally) to have complete confidence that the animal in my front yard is, in fact, a squirrel.

I don't need such a list of all logical axioms to have complete confidence in the law of non-contradiction.

In the same way, I don't need an exact and comprehensive list of all of God's commands for all creation, just all humanity, or just even myself to know with confidence that He commands that I love Him whole-heartedly.

(Or, more prosaically, a man doesn't need to know everything that his wife wants him to do over the weekend, in order to have complete confidence that she *DOES* want him to fix the shower. It would be utterly bizarre if you approached any earthly relationships in this way.)

To know that ACLS is true, one need only have perfect confidence about ONE proposition, not about the enumeration of ALL propositions about which one is perfectly confident.

--

You then write, about ACLS, "The problem with this is, WHICH propositions can we be absolutely confident about? Where is the authoritative list? Who is in a place of authority to affirm the ABSOLUTE correct nature of the list?"

Those are all very interesting questions, I'm sure, and so it must boggle your mind that the speed limit is posted on the side of the road without an attached list of ALL speed limits in all locations, plus all driving regulations, and maybe even the entire list of all laws applicable to that particular location, along with a detailed explanation of the derivation of the authority of each political body that wrote, signed, posted, and enforces each law. I see no other way you could be confident that the speed limit really is 35 mph -- and I'm sure the nice office who pulls you over would be happy to hear your quite reasonable thoughts and metaphysics and epistemology.

But even if these questions don't need to be answered -- and I don't think they do -- raising these questions DOES NOT address the serious problem I've raised regarding your position.

I'll reiterate that you seem absolutely confident that we cannot be absolutely confident.

If you ARE absolutely confident, then your position falls apart; if you're not, you have no reason to insist that others agree with you.

--

You've amended your position to fellas who are "LIVING TODAY" and who claim to speak for God, but I can't see why the presence or absence of a heartbeat on a particular Friday is determinative.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites weren't exactly praised by the writers or rewarded by God for being skeptical about Moses, at least until after he died, and in Matthew 11, we see that Jesus affirmed the divine commission of John the Baptist while he was CLEARLY still alive.

I affirm the unique authority of the Prophets and Apostles above all other mere humans -- living OR dead -- and vital signs aren't the central reason why. Those who were born recently I eschew, NOT because they might still be breathing, but because, by the nature of the case, their recent births preclude them from being hand-picked Apostles of the risen Christ.

Bubba said...

Dan, I might check in again another day, but I need to wrap up for now.

I think the most important thing in your responses is this, from two different comments.

First:

"I disagree with the 'worship principle' people but I am not negating their Christianity. I am not saying they are insane. I am not saying they are bad people. Indeed, I'm quite sure they are moral, good Christians. BUT, I disagree with [an idea of theirs...]

"I find it reasonable to, IF I disagree with an IDEA strongly enough, to attack THE IDEA. I don't think there's anything innately wrong with that. But attacking the idea is not the same as calling the authors of the idea demons or wolves or false teachers (that is something that conservative Christians have often done to me but I've not returned that favor...)
"

Second:

"I DO believe that we ought to extend grace to one another, even when I think someone is clearly wrong. And what does that mean? Does that mean I say, 'Well, I can't prove you're mistaken on this point, so I guess we'll assume we're ALL correct!' No. I don't think it means I have to agree when I think someone is mistaken, especially on serious matters. But it does mean, to me, that I do extend some grace, some benefit of the doubt. If the person is, by all accounts, quite sincere in his/her attempts to follow God/Jesus, I don't try to tell them they aren't sincere. But I might say on some points, I believe they are clearly sincerely mistaken."

I could say quite a lot, about the biblical and even dominical warrant for personal repudiation (that is, "name-calling"), about the incoherence in the proposition that one can denounce an idea in the harshest possible terms without implicating persons who hold that idea, and about your own inconsistency in making personal attacks.

But all that is besides the point:

You balk at being called a liar and a false Christian.

I can certainly understand why you would, but as much as you object to others' reaching those conclusions and making them known, you should stop trying to berate them into changing their minds. Reject their conclusions as false, but accept that their conclusions are fairly well fixed.

If you can do that and discuss your many other disagreements without rancor, have at it, but if that's a deal-breaker, it would do everyone a world of good -- EVERYONE, yourself included -- if you would just say, "I understand, I strongly disagree, I don't believe we can continue to discuss things, so we should go our separate ways."

You mention a person who is "by all accounts, quite sincere in his/her attempts to follow God/Jesus," but it's not clear to me what accounts would assure us of your sincerity if we've been convinced otherwise BY YOUR OWN WORDS -- probably literal MILLIONS of words exchanged (more than 40,000 in this thread alone), hours upon hours of time spent communicating, over the course of about a decade.

You tell us that you "do extend some grace, some benefit of the doubt," but you seem to overlook the possibility that we have attempted to do the very same thing for as long as it seemed the least bit reasonable -- that we stopped, not because of a lack of grace, but because of an overabundance of evidence.

It seems that you believe that reasonable, good-faith disagreement is ALWAYS possible because, supposedly, people sincerely disagree so often about so many things.

But even though the disagreement is obvious, the sincerity is not.

[to be concluded]

Bubba said...

[finally...]

Sincerity isn't obvious, but you think it is.

As much as you've complained about mind-reading in the past, your position seems to be that internal motives are more clear to everyone than external communication, and that's absurd.

Speaking only for myself, I have studied Scripture enough and have talked with you enough to conclude that, if you really were sincerely and consistently striving to follow God, it would be obvious by now.

It's not, and in fact the opposite has long since been obvious.

You write, "I don't believe I have any duty to speak on God's behalf what God has not said."

Indeed, but about what God HAS clearly said, Christians have both the liberty **AND** the duty to be dogmatic.

There comes a point -- for me, we've long since passed that point -- where I can no longer extend any benefit of the doubt about your supposed Christian discipleship without compromising my commitment to God's clear revelation.

For that reason, my refusing to budge on my assessment of you, absent new evidence of the most remarkable kind, isn't rooted in gracelessness toward you or stubbornness about my own beliefs. It's rooted in my devotion to God and His revealed word.

I suspect the other guys would say something similar, and this is why I think you should recognize that we will not be moved. For all that you write about how you must follow God and not man, you should know that **WE** must honor God rather than indulge you.

Dan Trabue said...

Before I deleted the comment, Craig said...

It's like when you shower folks with grace, tolerance, and the benefit of the doubt by derisively labeling anything that doesn't fit your rationalist template as magical thinking.

It's a descriptive label, not an insult.

You've said that there is this Thing that you use in addition to Reason, but can't answer what that Thing is. It SEEMS TO ME as if you are describing a Magical Thing that can somehow make you able to "know" the meaning of texts perfectly - without using your Reason - SO THAT you can align your Reason to this Real Meaning... but you can't say what that Thing is.

It's not an insult (not intended as one), it's intended as a description.

Hope that helps you understand the point and not take it as an insult.

Now, truly, if you want to comment, I'd prefer that you answer the questions I've asked. Indeed, I insist.

NOTE:

Craig has RESPONDED to each of my questions above at his own blog, in a post that I can't respond to. Unfortunately, his responses are not answers to the question being asked.

Now, because I (unlike Bubba, apparently - and again, that is not intended as an insult... this is what I'm gleaning from Bubba's words above) am willing to extend to Craig the benefit of the doubt, I'm thinking that he honestly thinks he has answered the actual question and probably thinks he has answered it directly and clearly. At the same time, I'm quite sure he hasn't (and hopefully he is willing to extend to me the same grace and assume I'm being quite honest on the point). It's really quite fascinating.

IF someone truly deeply believes they have given a direct and clear answer to a question and the Other guy is quite sure he hasn't answered the question at all, what are we to do with that? How do we respond?

It might be helpful if Bubba or Marshall or anyone else who'd care to take it on to look at his responses and see if they see a direct answer and try to explain it to me. I'm entirely open to hearing it... I'm also pretty sure that it's not there, but if someone can explain how it is an answer, I'm open to it. I truly want to know.

All the same, I will withhold Craig's comments until he tries to answer perhaps in another way, more directly. If he so chooses. His call, but no more comments without an attempt.

Peace.

Dan Trabue said...

Just the first of the questions that Craig apparently truly thinks he answered which he literally - so far as I can see - did NOT answer. It has nothing to do with me "not liking" his answer, it is literally not an answer to the question asked...

Dan...

1. Yes, I get that you put your reason to the "litmus test" of Scripture, prayer, etc... BUT how do you assess what those things mean? DO YOU NOT USE YOUR REASON?

Craig...

1. I use every resource available to me including my reason, scripture, the counsel of others, the accumulated wisdom of my family, my community, as well as the breadth of accumulated wisdom and knowledge from the past. So, as I have said, I use my reason as one part of the process but subordinate it when it disagrees with things I value more highly than my selfish desires.

And I would repeat, I GET that you are attempting to "subordinate" your Reason with Scripture, counsel, family wisdom and tradition. Okay, do you understand that I GET that is your desire.

What I'm saying/asking is that do you NOT use your reason to know "Uncle Jack says X, but Aunt Jill says A+B, tradition tells me Banana and the Bible literally says "purple..." ...which one of these should I subordinate my reason to, in order to be closer to God's Will...?"? Do you get it? You are USING your reason to sort them all out, are you not? If not, what are you using?

And understand, I'm not making a case that I "prefer" or "demand" Reason over all other Things... I'm saying I do not SEE ANY OTHER THING that somehow gives me Power to subordinate my Reason to God's Ways. If you can tell me what you are using in addition to or in place of Reason in order to sort those things out so that you can THEN subordinate your Reason to God's Will, I'm glad to hear it.

I literally see nothing in that answer that tells me that, and THAT was my question.

Perhaps Craig was just unclear and maybe that helps him understand... or maybe he thinks there IS an answer to my question in there, I just don't know. I am saying I flat don't see any answer to the question.

Anyone else see it?

Dan Trabue said...

A few for Bubba...

the incoherence in the proposition that one can denounce an idea in the harshest possible terms without implicating persons who hold that idea, and about your own inconsistency in making personal attacks.

One can and should "attack" ideas, even in harsh terms, when you think they're wrong, or at least harmful ideas. I can't imagine that you disagree.

One can and should attack ideas, instead of the person, when one is dealing with disagreements. Now, the degree of the attack on the ideas can be debatable. If you merely think an idea is irrational, is it wrong to call it insane? If you merely think an idea is potentially dangerous, is it wrong to call it hellish? I guess it's debatable, I don't know that there is a right answer, or I'm not sure how exactly to draw that line, anyway, and don't know of any objective way to say what is the right place to draw such a line.

Is calling an idea irrational OR insane an attack on the person? I don't think so.

But, if one disagrees with an idea or several ideas, even, does that give one just cause to say, "you aren't a Christian, you are a liar, you are a false and deceptive teacher..." getting into another person's motivations and their own personal identity? That seems to me to be an attack on the person, not the idea. If, for instance, merely disagreeing with "Joe" on homosexuality is enough for "Joe" to say, "You're not a Christian if you disagree with me on this!" Joe is attacking the person, rather than dealing with the merits of the arguments on homosexuality. Seems to me.

About distinguishing between the idea and the person, I'm not sure it would be that difficult to find examples of your attacking the person and not just his idea, and at any rate, I think the difference is probably irrelevant.

I expect it would be difficult, but perhaps not impossible. I'm not perfect. When faced with constant attacks instead of rational discussion, I'm quite certain I've lost patience and gone snarky/made smart alecky remarks. Actual attacks on the person? Not so sure. It's possible, I'm not perfect, but I'm pretty sure it's rare. I deliberately strive to stick to disagreeing with IDEAS, not the person.

On the ACLS issue, I would like to talk about that in more detail, maybe a new post. For now, I will respond to this one...

To know that ACLS is true, one need only have perfect confidence about ONE proposition, not about the enumeration of ALL propositions about which one is perfectly confident.

And on what basis does one have PERFECT/ABSOLUTE confidence about one proposition that they can't prove? Because there's a line in the Bible that says it, literally? But we've all established that we don't take each line woodenly literally, so that can't be it. Because many others have believed it in the past? That is an appeal to numbers and is not sufficient for perfect confidence. Because it REALLY makes sense to you? That is an appeal to human reason, which we seem to all agree is not perfect.

I'm not saying one can't have perfect confidence about one theological/moral proposition that they can't prove, I'm just not sure what that confidence would be based on.

That's all for now...

Thank you for your thoughts.

Dan Trabue said...

I said...

Is calling an idea irrational OR insane an attack on the person? I don't think so.

I will note that some people - many people - are so heavily invested in their human ideas and opinions that attacks on those opinions, to them, feel like attacks on them, or perhaps to their faith. I've had dear, close conservative friends who rejected the notion of a non-literal Genesis because "If you take away a literal Genesis, you totally undermine the Christian faith and all is lost! I would abandon my faith," they said, "If Genesis isn't literal history!"

Now, for THAT person, merely disagreeing about the literal nature of Genesis felt like an existential attack on them and their entire faith system, even though it wasn't anything person at all, it was the mere disagreement with an opinion/interpretation. I suspect that is sometimes tied into why mere disagreements feel like attacks when no attack is intended.

For what it's worth.

Bubba said...

Dan:

"I will note that some people - many people - are so heavily invested in their human ideas and opinions that attacks on those opinions, to them, feel like attacks on them, or perhaps to their faith."

This attempt at amateur psychology is no way to focus on ideas rather than people -- and you were just writing about how you take pains to avoid "getting into another person's motivations and their own personal identity."

Dan Trabue said...

Just noting what I've personally heard people say, and noting that it's not intended to be an attack and that some people may feel that way, even when it's not intended that way. Just an observation.

Do you think that some people (left, right, whoever) DON'T get so tied to their beliefs that someone raising questions about their beliefs might be interpreted as an attack?

Bubba, I'm running into odd behaviors that I can't explain rationally. Like in the other post where Marshall and Craig insist they have answered questions and I can look at the questions I ask and their responses and see it WASN'T an answer to my question, but an answer to some other question... What to do when there is that sort of disconnect (allowing that maybe somehow their response IS an answer to the question asked, even though it seems quite clear to me and mine that it isn't, that it literally isn't... and I just can't see in what sense it is a "direct" answer) in communications. It's very interesting and difficult to deal with, it seems to me.

Same thing for "personal attacks" where none are intended, only disagreeing with ideas... and yet, how it feels like an attack. How do we bridge that understanding gap?

Just observations and questions.

Bubba said...

Dan, there are certainly those who believe that the entire superstructure of Christian doctrine falls apart in the absence of young-Earth creationism -- both fundamentalist Christians **AND** the obnoxious atheists who seem to think that disproving the theory demolishes Christianity -- and while I don't believe young-Earth creationism is a strictly necessary conclusion from Genesis (and the numerous books of the Bible that address the creation account), I do think it's quite possible that these people reach their position from a logical error in their inferences rather than some primal psychological need. The conclusion you draw about those Christians is most certainly NOT from giving them the benefit of the doubt.

And I do believe that you're drawing that conclusion: I'm very skeptical of the claim that any of these Christians actually told you that they are "so heavily invested in their human ideas and opinions that attacks on those opinions, to them, feel like attacks on them, or perhaps to their faith."

(The dead giveaway is the reference to "human ideas and opinions," which is how you describe positions with which you disagree, even if the other person believes that the doctrine is either direct revelation from God or an unavoidable conclusion from divine revelation.)

But even if, implausibly as it sounds, one guy said exactly that, your repeating it and raising questions about it is hardly an example of focusing on ideas rather than persons.

So, too, your "observations and questions" about why others supposedly aren't answering your questions and are inferring personal attacks that you say you don't intend: those issues are also about persons and not ideas. Since insisting that you focus on ideas and not persons, you have done little but raise subjects that are about persons and not ideas.

I would go further and suggest that you're raising the issues about communication in order to disparage Craig.

After all, you don't seem all that open to the possibility that you are at fault, that you are the one who needs either to read others more closely or to write with more precision (or I believe, more clarity and honesty). If you were, you wouldn't have a blanket policy of deleting Craig's comments, quoting and addressing only those parts you want to, and refusing to let his comments stand until they meet your approval, all for the sake of "respectful adult conversation."

On this subject of "ideas not persons" and "descriptions not attacks" -- and certainly not for the first time -- I believe you are blatantly refusing EVEN TO TRY to abide by the principles and rules that you seek to impose on others.

Anonymous said...

You are perhaps right. I can, I'm sure, do better and will strive to do so.

But as to my intent, my intent is to find better ways to communicate, not to disparage.

I do, no doubt, fail and you can fault my failures and I will strive to hear that as reasonable criticism and learn and do better. But you can't fault my intent.

My parents, my family, my best men growing up... many beloved family and friends in my life are still in the place where I once was of being more conservative and that is fine. But we all (them, and conservatives I do not know personally) have this communication problem and a large part of why I do what I do on this blog is to learn better how to bridge that communication gap.

And so, my apologies for my failures. Seriously. Thanks for the words of advice, I will strive to improve.

Peace.

~Dan

Anonymous said...

Oh, and when I say, "we all..." I'm speaking not just of me and conservatives I deal with, but my progressive friends and family and tribe, along with our conservative friends and family and neighbors... we all have this difficulty. My progressive friends read my blog and the answers and responses and (to them, apparent) aggressive divisiveness of our conservative commenters are all a puzzle. "How did they read that into what you said?!" they wonder. Or, "But that's not an answer at all to the question you asked!" they'll say.

My point being that this is not just my problem dealing with our conservative friends, it seems to be a fairly widespread problem. May God grant us wisdom in finding answers and common ground.

~Dan