Saturday, December 17, 2005

More continuing Conversation on TSKW

This was part of a conversation on Tall Skinny Kiwi

Jason is responding in our conversation about fundamentalism as being able to fit into the new paradigm. I have part of our earlier conversation here.

On this present blog is a replica of a text that I tried to send as a letter to the editor of Christianity Today's on-line Editorial section . For some cause the letter was returned to my e-mail box . Being that I am borderline computer illiterate , I was unable to fix the sending process . So here I will mostly reproduce with some editing the letter and (perhaps) add some additional material . In the letter , I do defend open theism, though the main thrust as to why I'm obligated to reproduce the letter is to help debunk mysteriousness-ist doctrine !
The letter denounces the weird , bizarre murky sort of doctrine that tries to compromise deductive reason with the murky unwarranted notion that portrays God is somehow inherently mysterious (which is insulting to God) .

Dear Christianity Today ,
After reading the debate between apparent Fundamentalist: Chris Hall, and John Sanders , regarding open theism, I wanted to state that as I am a believer in Jesus I wish Mr.Chris Hall well, notwithstanding, I found a particular series of statements made by Chris Hall to be quite appalling , and illustrative of a rather weird brand of theology . Chris Hall.,like a number of Fundamentalists, couples the word : 'logic' with the word 'human' and puts together the phrase I've seen bandied about : the silly phrase "human logic" .
Logic is logic . The notion that there is a "human logic", separate from God's logic is bad theology . Deductive Logic is NOT a construct invented by man it is merely discovered by man . Logic pre-exists . As the Gospel of John chapter 1 verse 1 states,' In the Beginning was the Logos .' Logos which is loosely "translated" by the term ' word ' in English Bibles originally referred to a principle of order, and NOT a word in terms of literal phonetic speech . The term 'Logic' is derived from the same word as the term 'Logos' found in the beginning of the Gospel of John .
Some have claimed the Old Testament verse in Isaiah 55: 8, which quotes God as saying, 'Your ways are not my ways your thoughts are not my thoughts" somehow teaches that God has a supposed "different type of Logic" then so-called "human logic" . That interpretation , however, is completely unfounded . Isaiah 55:8 does NOT explicitly make any statement about God having any "different type of Logic" than the ones humans are familiar with . It would take more time to do full justice to why the verse should not be interpreted that way , but a clearer insight for a more plausible interpretation of the verse can be gained by reading the verse that is *immediately prior* : Isaiah 55:7 which states, ' Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him:and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon .'
A more plausible interpretation for Isaiah 55:8 is that God maintains an infinitely more noble moral standard than humans, inasmuch, as He is willing to show mercy to those who repent instead of holding a grudge, like humans have a tendency to do . That interpretation has a lot more plausibility, than the bizarre *interpretation* which claims that God has some inherently mysterious other sort of logic .
Mr.Chris Hall makes the quite weird and theologically flimsy statement ,
"Packer has warned me, both as his student in Vancouver and in many of his writings, to beware of draining the mystery out of Scripture in a misplaced desire for rational consistency."
There is NEVER any such state as "too much consistency"!!!!!! . Unless we are going to be anti-climatic about values and Truth, then we should always be willing to take the pursuit of consistency to extremes . Love of truth demands nothing less . Consistency is the foundation and the link between all the virtues--including virtues in the area of abstract thought, as well as action . To want to have a balance between consistency and even a little fuzzy thinking , is lazy-minded and quite frankly a bizarre approach ! I happen very much to agree with the New Testament verse which states, 'God is not a God of confusion, but a God of Peace ' . I also happen to agree with the verse in the epistle known as I John chapter 1 verse 5 which affirms that ' God is light and in him is no darkness at all .' (KJV) What is one of the primary properties of light ? It reveals : it shows the contours and boundaries of shapes and spaces --it makes that which is around it comprehensible .
Mr. Chris Hall should consider getting another mentor then that Mr.Packer fellow . Mr.Packer is NOT the spokesman for Jesus .
Mr.Chris Hall cites the verse in Deuteronomy which states , 'the secret things belong to the Lord ' . However, the verse in Deuteronomy does NOT explicitly tell the reader what sorts of subjects are included in 'the secret things' , thus it is presumptuous to presume that the relationship between Divine foreknowledge and the free will of created beings, is in any way included in what Deuteronomy calls "the secret things" .
Chris Hall goes on to say in the exchange with John Sanders ,
' Hence, I have learned to live with incompleteness, paradox, incomprehesibility, and deep mystery in my relationship with God .'
One of the worst misnomers ; one of the laziest words in the English language is the word 'paradox' . The word paradox is one of those weasal euphemisms like unto the practice of the politician who might refer to raising taxes as "revenue enhancement" . There are NO inherent paradoxes . For there to be an actual paradox there would have to be a demonstratable case of two or more statements which claim opposite propositions about the same aspect of the same context where each of the opposite propositions that are claimed are all confirmed . <----That has NOT happened ! The series of claims that many people tout as paradoxes are either cases of contradictions that have not been reconciled that are euphemistically called "paradoxes" , or are cases of statements that seem to have self-reference but which actually don't from a linguistic standpoint such as the "this sentence is false" routine , or are statements that involve other sometimes subtle fallacies of language .
It is quite lazy to appeal to the notion of so-called "paradox" . Furthermore, to *even partially* disparage the quest to have absolute consistency in regard to belief , is a very lazy minded / hazy-minded approach, and one that reminds me of postmodernists who also don't like logical consistency and also cults that dis-courage critical thinking in favor of an emotionalistic approach to belief . If people back in 1978 Guyana , had been more willing to insist on extreme consistency, instead of the *emotialistic approach promoted by Jim Jones* , then they would have rejected the advice of Rev . Jim Jones for the garbage it was and NOT been so willing to drink the poisoned cool-aid .
It is worthwhile to note that though Jesus in the Gospels does use a phrase that has been "translated" into English , "the mysteries of the Kingdom Of God" , a more plausible interpretation would be that the word that is rendered into English as the word "mysteries" refers to what might be referred to as 'in depth knowledge', and *NOT* at all some item that in inherently inscrutable or unknowable .
St.Paul, in a verse in the epistle to the Romans, when commenting on the relationship between God and the Gentiles , does make the statement , 'how unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out' (Romans 11:33 KJV ) . However, a case can be plausibly made that the statements refer narrowly to the resourcefullness of God in being able to reconcile Himself with nations , and would NOT necessarily be a verse which alleges God's plans in general are somehow inherently mysterious, nor is it necessarily a broad claim about mysteriousness being any inherently any attribute of God .
As a believer in Jesus , I find that when the opponents against open theism have to resort to invoking terms like "paradox" , and "mystery" and ,concurrently, disparage the quest for total consistency of thought regarding beliefs then the case against open theism is on flimsy ground !
Since I'm sending this e-mail I thought I'd mention two of the verses that those who are against open theism often cite and how they could be better interpreted in such a way that does not conflict with open theism .
Psalm 139 verse 4 David says of God , 'for there is not a word in my tounge but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it alltogether. (KJV) ' Many people who are against open theism presume that the verse indicates that David is claiming that God foreknows what David will say before he says it. However, the phrase 'word in my tounge' could just as well mean what David is saying in the present tense and NOT necessarily what David will say in the future .
Then there is Isaiah 46::10 which quotes God as saying that He is , ' Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying my counsel shall stand and I shall do all my pleasure. '
Many of the opponents of open theism have presumed that God is indicating that He predicts the actions of created beings in the verse, yet the verse could very well, instead, indicate that God predicts His Own Actions and what the ultimate results of what His Own Acts of Divine Intervention will be !
There are other verses that seem to be against open theism that could also be more judicially interpreted .
Regards ,
Jason Leary

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