Saturday, November 12, 2005

Return of A Continuing Conversation on TSKW

This post was an answer in response to a conversation about fundamentalism as compatible with emergent thought. It originally was posted on TSKW blog. Jason has given me a lot to chew on so I hope to respond in another post soon. Some good thoughts here I wanted to pass on.

Greetings Iggy ,
Didn't mean to seem like I had dropped off . You , sir, have posted an interesting response .

It is the case that mankind is fallen, yet , it should be stated that it is NOT the faculty of deductive logic that is tainted. Instead the emotive faculty as well as the appetites within man that is tainted. Often man allows base emotions like envy and greed --as well as the desire for crass , vulgar activities such as the excitement that results from sexual intercourse--to block out or distract ther higher emotions like charitable love for others , hope, mercy and so on .

One of the purposes that Jesus came to earth to live among us was to teach us to NOT let those lower emotions and appetites block out the good emotiions, but rather to block out that which is crass and NOT noble . That high standard is what He was appealing to at when He said in the gospels, 'Go out and find what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. '

Deductive reason helps to discourage those lower emotions, and the appetite for vulgar forms of excitement--forms of excitement without ethical or esthetic value . In that way, deductive logic (aka reason) can be a factor that either helps us to be more nurturing/more loving --or at least to block out irrational desires like greed , envy , status seeking ..that are against being nurturing/loving people .

The Spirit of God can thus be seen to edify people through deductive logic . To have loving hearts it certainly helps to have minds that are consistent--or at least continually try to be. And being consistent does often mean getting into the nitty gritty of analyzing thin distinctions --what some call "splitting hairs" .

One way of thinking that for a number of years has made me cringe--and I admire you since I've *not* seen you engage in what I'm about to describe--is the tendency for *some* people in the Fundamentalist community to try and refer to reason/logic as the "carnal mind" .

When St.Paul wrote in his epistles about the carnal mind there is NO explicit indication that Paul was in any way referring to logic/reason ;NO indication that Paul was referring to intellectualism of any kind! The truth is that when Paul writes of the 'carnal mind', or even the word 'carnal' --he mentions it in connection with the desire for sexual intercourse and or matters having to do with money ! It truly boggles how glibly some people take that phrase 'carnal mind' and try and re-define it to apply it to something that it does NOT apply to . What it doesn't apply to is reason/logic ...or intellectualism .

Some might cite the warning in Colossians where Paul seems to disparage 'philosophy' . Yet it is the view of some in the community of Bible scholars that Paul was NOT warning against formal philosophy --but instead what is called philosophy when the word "philosophy" is used in the loosest sense, and , hence, according to a scholar I read who studied the writings of Paul, Paul was warning against occult practices of astrology and other superstitious practices that were popular in some of the cities of Greece such as the city where the Colossian Christians lived . According to the scholar Paul was NOT warning against 'philosophy' in the technical, formal sense of the word such was practiced by people such as Socrates and Plato .

Of course that is an interpretation on the part of that scholar , granted and he must demonstrate such an interpretation by explicit means . However, such an interpretation is NOT that implausible when we consider that in the book of Acts , St.Paul shows a deep liking for the writings of some of the Greek philosophical poets such as Cleanthes,Aratus, and Epiminides and quotes them NOT disapprovingly, but quotes them with approval .Paul does indicate that these philosophical poets had valid insights about the same God he was proclaiming when he spoke to the Epicureans and Stoics, on Mars Hill, in the book of Acts . It is rather repugnant how people who are ready to dismiss the importance and influence of Greek philosophy on the New Testament writers --downplay that Paul quoted such philosophical poets .

In regard to Isaiah 55:8 , the statments that you have presented are of interest and *not necessarily* at odds with what I have been obligated to present--I would , nonetheless, like to emphasize for emphasis, that it is mind-boggling how some people present such an outrageously weird notion that MIS-interprets the statement how His ways are not our ways and tries to spin it, to promote the doctrine that insults God by trying to get us to believe that God supposedly pre-allows tragedy even to befall innocent people such as children and infants for some supposedly mysterious purpose---when Isaiah 55:8 does NOT explicitly support that mysterious purpose doctrine at all !

Furthermore, Isaiah 45:6-7, which I've seen twisted/falsely interpreted by people who support that weird doctrine of a mysterious- purpose- for- allowing evil-- apparently uses the Hebrew word 'ra' which is "translated" into English by being replaced by the word 'evil' --often did NOT refer to evil as in wickedness/unethical behavior . Often it simply meant an unpleasant experience--such as an unplesant that would befall great evil doers OR a destruction of some state of affairs . In Jeremiah 24:2 the Hebrew word 'ra', that is rendered into English "translations" of Isaiah 45:6-7 as the word 'evil', is apparently rendered by the word 'bad' in Jeremiah 24:2 referring to some figs in a basket that had become overripe . Thus , Isaiah 45:6-7 does NOT explicitly support that weird doctrine that would mislead us into thinking that God creates evil . Neither does Amos 3:6 --since it too apparently uses the Hebrew word 'ra' which can often signify an unpleasant experience , but not necessarily one with a wicked , unethical source .

Though I agree that God will sometimes use physical calamities to physical destroy evildoers . Not that you are at odds with what I am about to state--but let me state for emphasis that I do NOT think that God will destroy the good doers along with the evil doers--I believe that when God destroys evil doers He singles out those evil doers . The tragedy that befell many people because of hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan --there is NO indication in the Bible nor in natural theology that those events in any way served the will of God and you are right to disapprove of the outlook those who say they did . It never ceases to amaze me how back last year in 2004 when there was the Tsunami in southeast Asia--there was one or more evangelists who claimed that the people who died in the Tsunami was somehow the will of God to punish the sinful . The question that ought to be asked is what about all the sinful pimps who run hideous child prostitution rings in Bangkok , Thailand who *weren't* drowned by the Tsunami ? Why weren't they washed out to sea ---IF that tidal wave was sent to punish sin doers ? Someone ought to ask such people who make such claims that .

As for the relativist/postmodernists, I haven't gathered that they have observed that we as humanity have had the difference between good and evil explained and yet not had the consistency to live it out and objected to that inconsistency much. Rather the relativists like and support inconsistency. They especially like and support inconsistency in thought (what they call being "conflicted") , though some of them probably don't mind inconsistency in action .

In another post, here in this present thread, I would like to re-post the text of an e-mail to the editors of the magazine: 'Christianity Today' regarding the statements made by one theologian that promote the acceptance of NON-consistent thinking under the name of so-called "paradox" and how bad that NON-consistent thinking is . I bear that theologian no ill will as a person and wish him well, however, it is quite deplorable that people pass off that NOT consistent thinking in regard to doctrine of theology as some so-called "paradox" . As you point out it is better to say "I don't know" then to use paradox as a supposed explanation .

I would argue that "acceptance of mystery", though, can be also a phrase that can be bandied about in regard to doctrinal topics with just as much of a mendacious cop- out sort of flare as the word "paradox" . I'm NOT claiming that you are doing that --since the statements you have made regarding the prospect of mystery have apparently more nuance than how many I've heard use that word 'mystery' .

Posted by: Jason Leary Oct 26, 2005 9:18:46 AM

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