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Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye

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January 15, 2014 Tags: Christian Unity, Science & Worldviews

Today's entry was written by Deborah Haarsma. You can read more about what we believe here.

Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye

The internet is buzzing with news about the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. If you haven’t heard, the prominent Young Earth Creationist is hosting the Science Guy at the Creation Museum on February 4th to debate “Is creation a viable model for origins?” Predictably, most of the buzz about the event pits science vs. faith, as though we have to choose one or the other.

We at BioLogos maintain that you don’t have to choose. You don’t have to give up Christian faith in order to accept the best, most compelling science. We expect that we’ll agree with most of what Bill Nye will say about the science of evolution. Fossils, genetics, and other disciplines give compelling evidence that all life on earth is related and developed over a very long time through natural processes. But we’re also brothers and sisters in Christ with Ken Ham. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for our sins and rose from the dead, and that the Bible is the authoritative word of God.

Unfortunately, many people accept what they’ve been told about evolution – that it is the source of all kinds of evil and a dangerous step toward atheism. Many others accept what they’ve been told about religion – that it betrays delusional thinking and a deep irrationalism in one’s worldview. Both extremes are built on the same premise – that evolution is fundamentally opposed to God. We reject this.

“Evolutionary creation” is the label we’ve used to describe our position that evolution is the means through which God created. In accepting the science of evolution, we do not reject biblical faith. In fact, many biblical scholars find that the original intent of Genesis 1 has little to do with science and has everything to do with God’s purposes in creation. And in accepting God as the ruler of the natural world, we do not reject science. In fact, core Christian beliefs give a strong motivation for using our minds to explore the world he created. Applying ourselves with diligence to both God’s world and God’s word gives the best answers to the question posed for the February 4 debate.

And we’re not alone in rejecting the extremes. A Barna survey of clergy found that over 40% of pastors do not hold to young earth creationism. And the recent Pew survey found that large numbers of Christians accept evolution. While the percentage is higher for other Christian demographics, even 27% of white evangelical Protestants accept that humans have evolved over time.

Debates like this perpetuate the misconception that you have two choices: an atheistic view of evolutionary science, or a young earth interpretation of the Bible. We wish the audience could hear about another, better way. Help us spread the word that great science and biblical faith can go hand in hand.

 


Deborah Haarsma serves as President of The BioLogos Foundation, a position she has held since January 2013. Previously, she served as professor and chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gifted in interpreting complex scientific topics for lay audiences, Dr. Haarsma often speaks to churches, colleges, and schools about the relationships between science and Christian faith. She is author (along with her husband Loren Haarsma) of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (2011, 2007), a book presenting the agreements and disagreements of Christians regarding the history of life and the universe. Haarsma is an experienced research scientist, with several publications in the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #84290

January 24th 2014

Continuation

OK, I see that somehow the web uploaded my post in mid thought so I continue.

Eddie wrote:

What I’m against is theology dancing to the tune called by modern thought.

You don’t listen very well.  I reject both modern by which you probably mean postmodern Relativism and traditional modernist Western dualist Absolutism.  What I do not do is reject all that is new and accept all that is old or vice versa as many do. 

The Christianity that will survive, and thrive, will be the Christianity that is confident that it has something to teach the modern world,

I could not agree more.  Evangelicals are reacting to the world out of fear, not leading the world in fear and faith.  They are destroying themselves and maybe taking the Republican Party down with them.

Your version of how Evangelicals became the backbone of the Republican Party is only a small part of the story.  Let us begin by saying that the Republicans have been the champions of unfeddered capitalism and puritanical morality.  They also tried to put the Democrats on the defensive by being rabidly anticommunist. See Sen. Joe McCarthy.

Naturally they supported the Vietnam War until Nixon found it politically advisable to end American participation in it. 

Initially many Republicans supported the Civil Rights Movement, while the Democrats were divided, southern Democrats were segregationists while northern Democrats were for it. 

JFK took the issue from the Republicans by calling Dr. King when he was in jail and coming out for integration as president.  Barry Goldwater won much of the segregationist vote for the Republicans by coming out clearly for States Rights and against the Movement.  LBJ put the full power the presidency behind Civil Rights.

Richard Nixon cemented the segregationist vote for his party with his southern strategy by basing his party on conservative, evangelical white southerners.  He received support of the Moral Majority while he was blatantly lying about Watergate.

Ronald Reagan continued to gain the support of evangelicals with his tough talk against communism and lip service to evangalical ideals even though he never went to church and was the first divorced president.    

Bill Clinton and Al Gore were both evangelical Southern Baptists.  But this did change the loyalties of many Evangelicals.  Black people as a whole are the most religious and theologically conservative group in the US and they support the Democratic Party in overwhelming numbers long before President Obama was elected. 

President is ten times the Christian that Sen. McCain and Mitt Romney are. 

The historical evidence shows that the Republican Party is supported by Evangelicals and other conservative religionists plus rich Episcopalians and other well off folk.  The Democrats are supported by Blacks, who are religious, Jews, many Catholics, as well as liberal Christain and non-Chrsitian whites.  It is not the case of Christians vs non-Christians.

My problem with Evangelicals like Mike Huckabee et al. in the Republican Party is that their unChristian attitudes and actions belie their claims to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said, A tree is known by its fruit.  I say, if the shoe fits, wear it.  If it doesn’t, forget it. 

Maybe you should ask Jesus to apologize to the Pharisees and the Saducees while you are at it.        


Eddie - #84293

January 24th 2014

Roger:

I see that this stupid interface has added a new page, and your replies have been split over two pages.  Who knows what the software here will do, but it’s likely that my replies will also be split over two pages.  Anyhow, here is my reply to what is immediately above:

By “modern” I did not have in mind “postmodern relativism” (though certainly I would include that, too) but the ideas of the Enlightenment, 19th-century “higher” Biblical criticism, Darwinian evolution, “molecules to man by mere accident,” etc.  I’m saying that there is no reason why Christian theology should change to accommodate itself to any of those things.  (And regarding Darwin and origins issues, I’ve already indicated many times that literal vs. nonliteral exegesis of Genesis is not what is at issue here, but God’s sovereignty over nature.)

But in fact, for most of the 20th century, the mainstream Protestant churches—Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, etc.—have bent over backwards to accommodate their theology to those modern things.  And what has the result been?  Has it been churches crammed to overflowing with young people who think the Church is just great because it is “up to date” with modern science, modern moral philosophy, modern Biblical criticism?  No, it has been steadily emptying and graying churches, with the average age climbing from the 30s through to the 60s and beyond.  No young families, no Sunday schools, etc.

In the meantime, the churches who have not embraced the Enlightenment, modern morality, and mindless molecules-to-man origin stories, have been growing—the fundamentalists, the Pentecostals, etc.  So “keeping up with the times” and bringing theology “up to date with the latest science” and ethics “up to date with the latest philosophy, psychology and sociology” clearly isn’t the recipe for the survival of Christian Churches.  

People go to Churches they respect.  They don’t go to Churches where the minister or priest is a pushover who just mouths the latest conventional secular wisdom from the pulpit.  I’ve heard Protestant pastors endorsing Marxism, Freudianism, feminism, Save the Whales, impeach George Bush—you name it.  None of it saves their churches from the downward spiral.  And it’s obvious why.  If Christian teaching is going to become nothing more than a Christian veneer put on secular humanism, why should anyone give money to a Church every week?  You can be a secular humanist without going to Church at all.  Why pay money every week to hear a leftist feminist pastor preach that Jesus was a nice man, but had all the patriarchal prejudices of his age?  You can hear that in any university classroom, or from any New York Times columnist.  Churches that cave into modernity are signing their own death warrant.  That’s empirically clear.  (Of course, even if such a tactic worked, even if it filled the churches, I’d still condemn it, because full Churches that teach something other than Christianity aren’t worth attending.  But the point is that it doesn’t even work.)

On to your next post…

 


Andy Fox - #84304

January 25th 2014

I wonder if you agree that Bill “I did not have sex with the woman, Ms. Lewinsky” Clinton and Al “gimme an asian massage” Gore should be judged by their fruits?  I remember Dr. Adrian Rogers saying, “The faith that fizzles before the end was faulty from the start”.  I think the book of James would corroborate that.  It’s one thing to fall in a big way, after all David committed some doozies of sin.  it’s another to turn away altogether.  Are either of these fellows still living the faith?

I consider neither John McCain nor Romney to be Christian, so your opinion that Obama is 10 times the Christian that they are doesn’t do much for me.  10 x 0 = 0

Your facts are wrong.  Instead of looking at labels, look at what people actually believe.

The excerpt from a survey quoted below is from here:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-does-the-faith-of-republicans-democrats-measure-up-26175/

“According to survey results, 57 percent of Republicans assert that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches compared to 40 percent of Democrats. Republicans are also twice as likely to believe Satan is a real spiritual entity (33 percent versus 17 percent); more likely to reject the idea that good works can earn salvation (35 percent versus 23 percent); more commonly describe themselves as absolutely committed to Christianity (61 percent versus 48 percent); more likely to deem their religious faith to be important in their life (77 percent versus 67 percent); and more likely to believe that God is the all-knowing, perfect Creator and Ruler of the universe (75 percent to 65 percent).”

There are plenty of other statistics I could use to support the premise that while neither party could be called the “Christian” party, based upon its membership, Christians vote Republican more than Democrat.  If you take Black Christians out of the equation, it is becomes very lopsided.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84292

January 24th 2014

I wrote:

It is my opinion that the best theological way to make this distinction about what is authoritative in the Bible is to make clear that Jesus Christ is the basis for what Christians believe. rather than the writers of the Bible thought was scientifically true. 

Eddie, what I am trying to express here is that in substance we agree in our opposition to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.  I believe that the distinction between the Word of God which is superior to the word of God is the best way to justify our differences theologically with the Evangelical Chicago Statement.     


Eddie - #84294

January 24th 2014

Roger:

I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m not a Genesis literalist, not an inerrantist in the American sense, not a fundamentalist, not in favor of Ken Ham or Creation Museums or Chicago Statements, etc.  I don’t know how you could possibly have got the idea that I was defending any of those things.  

I think you have made the same mistake that many make, which is to think in polarized terms.  Many people, as soon as they hear an ID person criticize Darwinian evolution, assume that the ID person is a rabid inerrantist, fundamentalist, creationist, etc.  But of course criticizing Darwinian evolution isn’t criticizing evolution per se.  But most people—including many TEs who are very brittle and defensive because of their own past history with creationism, going back to the 1960s and 1970s (when many of today’s fervent TEs were themselves creationists)—can manage to hold in their head only two possible answers to any question, and those answers have to be opposite—black and white.  But in fact there is a whole range of possible positions on religion and science, creation and evolution, etc.  And as an ID supporter what I oppose is not evolution but the proposed purely stochastic mechanisms for evolution.  And as an ID supporter I’m not required to adopt a literal-historical reading of Genesis; ID has nothing to do with Biblical interpretation; it’s about detecting signs of design in nature.  So I can combine whatever reading of Genesis that I deem suitable with a belief in design and a belief in evolution.

This was my original point to Deb Haarsma at the beginning of this discussion.  There are plenty of ID supporters who embrace evolution:  Behe, Denton, Sternberg.  They exemplify a “middle way” between creationist literalism and atheist evolutionism.  But they have not been treated at all well by BioLogos.  They have been either reviled or ignored.  If BioLogos is really interested in an open-minded discussion of all the possibilities of putting together evolution with theistic belief, it will open its doors to some ID columnists, by putting out some invitations.  That certainly would never have happened under Falk, Giberson, and Collins, all of whom deeply resented ID, largely for personal biographical reasons.  I’m waiting to see if Dr. Haarsma can rise above that and tear down the barriers that previous BioLogos management erected.  It would be nice to see ID and TE folks making common cause against Dawkins, Coyne, etc. instead of tearing away at each other.

As for “the word of God,” I don’t know why you keep acting as if you have made some astounding new discovery.  The distinction between Jesus as the Word (Logos) of God and the Bible as the word of God has always been well-known.  Nobody with any theological education claims that the Bible is the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity.  And of course there is a sense in which Jesus is more central than the Bible which testifies to Jesus.  But the point I’ve made—which you keep dodging—is that no orthodox Protestant, from Calvin and Luther through Wesley to Ken Ham, and for that matter, no orthodox Catholic, would ever pit the two “words” against each other, which appears to be what you are doing.  Jon Garvey certainly emphasizes the Trinity and hence Jesus as the Word or Logos every bit as much as you do, but he also upholds the truth of the Bible—the whole Bible, not just the parts that modern people find appealing.  It’s not an either/or choice.  You don’t have to abandon the idea that the Bible is the wholly true word of God to affirm that Jesus is the Word of God.  

You are mixing up two things.  I will try to help you untangle them.  

The fundamentalists and creationists to whom we both object say two things:  (1) The Bible is the wholly true word of God; (2) The Bible should be interpreted in a literal-historical fashion when it comes to scientific questions, origins questions, etc.   

You and I agree in rejecting (2).  But in rejecting (2) you often sound very much as if you are rejecting (1).  And it isn’t necessary to reject (1) to reject (2).

Every Protestant, every evangelical, MUST affirm (1).  The reason so many evangelicals are suspicious of TE in general, and of BioLogos in particular, is that a number of columnists and management figures here have given hints and indications that they don’t think the Bible is entirely true, and not just regarding scientific issues but even regarding some theological and moral issues.  

Many evangelicals could accept some elasticity of interpretation regarding Genesis 1 and even Genesis 2-3. But when TEs start denying the Fall, or preaching Open Theism (or hinting strongly at either of these things), that goes too far.  That implies that parts of the Bible are wrong, false, of no inspiration and authority. 

If “keeping up with the times” theologically means regarding some parts of the Bible as false or as of no authority, then evangelicals are right (given their premises) not to try to keep up with the times.  

Does this make sense to you?


Larry Gilman - #84331

January 28th 2014

Dear Eddie,

With respect, I think it misleading to say that Behe or any other ID advocate “embrace[s] evolution.”  For virtually all scientists practicing in relevant biological fields, “evolution” denotes not only common descent but common descent with change (and/or stasis) driven entirely by natural processes that include natural selection and genetic drift: what you term “Darwinian evolution.”  One can if one likes cut on a dotted line around common descent and call that bit “evolution per se,” but in doing so one is deploying private language, not scientific terminology: common descent is just one feature of that body of evolutionary theory which organizes modern biology.  Similarly, one would be free to say that one “embraces relativity per se,” just not “Einsteinian relativity” (favoring, perhaps, some combination of Galilean relativity and miraculous intervention), but in doing so one would be staking out an position profoundly dislocated from, and in contradicition to, what “relativity” means across the great bulk of physics-as-fruitfully-practiced.

In other words, Behe does not embrace anything that the very great majority of working biologists would recognize as “evolution.”

Also, I disagree with your description of the processes invoked (and observed) by evolutionary biologists as “purely stochastic”: fitness of variations is determined by interactions with a real world, and these interactions are nonrandom in tendency. Beak size varies under the influence of random causes, but there is nothing random about a larger beak’s ability to crack larger seeds, so if average seed size in a limited supply increases (due to, say, drought) the selective outcome is predictable with high probability.  And is predicted.  And is measured in the field.  Adaptation is nonrandom.

Natural selection is “stochastic” in the technical sense that in a complex world the life-history of any single organism cannot be predicted with certainty, but “purely stochastic mechanisms” gives a pure misimpression.

Regards,

Larry


Eddie - #84332

January 28th 2014

Larry:

Thanks for your reply.

I admit that “purely stochastic” is an oversimplification.  I was broad-brushing to make a point.  What you say about natural selection is of course true.  The point is that in most versions of evolutionary theory there cannot be any teleology, any direction, any plan; the mutational events from which “natural selection” (itself an anthropomorphism, as Darwin recognized) does its selecting are spit out in no particular order and for no particular reason, and the neo-Darwinian model (and remember, it is the neo-Darwinian model which Behe names, over and over again) is thus tied to what can be called a “stochastic” process.

Regarding Behe and evolution, I would maintain that the term “evolution,” understood by itself, refers to a process of change, not to any particular mechanism of change.  The term “evolution” has frequently been qualified by adjectives denoting quite different mechanisms.  Thus, a search of the literature over the past 150 years will turn up Darwinian evolution, Bergsonian evolution, Lamarckian evolution, neo-Darwinian evolution, etc.  And even where no particular names are given, it is evident that different evolutionary theorists have quite differing views on the causes of evolution.  Some, like Dawkins, make natural selection almost the whole story; others see natural selection as having a much more limited role.  Some place great stress on the “randomness” of mutations; others think that not randomness but physical laws of structure and self-organization play the larger role in evolution.  Thus, if you look at Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Kimura, Denton, Stuart Newman, James Shapiro, Lynn Margulis, and others, you will find that there is not one “evolution” that all scientists accept, but in fact many different “evolutions” in competition.

I see no reason why Behe should not be allowed to throw his own version of evolution into the mix of suggestions.

It strikes me as ridiculous to point to a man who says that human beings have descended from anthropoid primates, and that all life forms have descended from one-celled creatures, and say “this man does not believe in evolution.”  That goes against all common usage of the word.  People who “don’t believe in evolution” are in common usage people who deny common descent.

Finally, I note that you have discussed the case of Behe only, and not the case of Sternberg, Denton, Torley, or many other ID proponents who have affirmed evolution.  

My point was that BioLogos makes an unwarranted division among Christians who accept evolution, making some of them sheep and some of them goats.  Yet BioLogos also claims to be pushing for Christian unity.  It’s not much of an effort at unity if you not only constantly attack Christians who are creationists (Ham, etc.), but also attack other Christians who accept evolution.

But of course, those who know the history of these debates in America know that there are reasons underneath the publically stated reasons for the behavior of all the parties.  The question is whether BioLogos can rise above the historical grievances that in the past have caused it to treat Behe, Denton, etc. as if they were Ken Ham or Duane Gish.  The old management could not do so, so deep were the wounds from its clashes decades ago with fundamentalism.  The newer management, led by a physicist rather than a biologist, and a Calvinist rather than a Wesleyan, and a person who is somewhat younger and is not therefore living mentally and emotionally as if The Genesis Flood came out just recently, may be able to do so.  Time will tell.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84298

January 25th 2014

Eddie,

Let me make one thing very clear. 

What I reject is the equation of the Word with the word.  Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Logos Who is God, Perfect Human and Perfect Divine. 

The Bible is a divinely inspired Book.  It informs us about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, but is not God.  The Bible particulary taken as a whole is a reliable authority concerning spiritual matters and contains all that is needed for salvation.  However it can and has been used by humans to justify themselves so we must be very careful in how we use and understand the Bible.

The Truth of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  However that does not mean that the Bible is Jesus Christ, in particularly some aspects which taken at face value contradict the Truth of Jesus.  In other words Jesus is the perfect standard of Truth as He says, not the Bible. 

When Evangelicals say that the Bible is true, they mean and this is reasonable that every part and aspect of it is true.  When I say that the Bible is true I mean that taken as a whole and interpreted by the Truth of Jesus Christ it is true.  Again Jesus is the Standard, not the Bible.


Eddie - #84302

January 25th 2014

I agree with a lot of this, but it has no bearing on the question whether Christian theology needs “updating” in order to keep up with modern science, modern philosophy, modern psychological theories, modern sexual mores, etc.  

If Trinitarian theology, including the theology of the Word, is true, then it remains true for all eternity, regardless of changes in physics from Aristotle to Newton to relativity and quantum theory, or changes in biology from Paley to Darwin to Shapiro.  I don’t see what there is to “update.”  Applications may very from age to age, but the theology itself—the thing you are applying—doesn’t ever change.

I think part of the problem is that people use the word “theology” differently.  By “theology” I think some people mean “what professors of theology are currently yammering about”—what Barth’s view is, what Niebuhr’s view is, what Ratzinger’s view is, what Hartshorne’s view is, etc.  I agree that these things have changed, and do change, and should change.  The opinions of professors are not important enough, or accurate enough, to be engraved in stone for all time as Christian doctrine.  

By “theology” I mean the core affirmations of Christianity—Creation, Fall, Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, Omnipotence, Sovereignty, etc.  I maintain that for an orthodox Christian of any kind (Catholic or Protestant), theology in this sense can never change.  If these things are not true, Christianity itself is not true, and should be given up.

I am saying that Protestant evangelicals cannot give up the core theological affirmations of the Christian faith.  They can’t fiddle around with Open Theism or with the idea that there was no Fall.  If they do that, they will end up with another religion altogether, not historical Christianity.  And that’s fine—they can abandon historical evangelical faith if they want.  But then they should give their faith a new name, because it won’t be the same thing.

The central theological question regarding TE is whether, in trying to accommodate evolution, it has actually altered the historical faith.  I think that this varies somewhat from TE to TE.  As Jon has pointed out, some TEs such as Wilcox and Russell go out of their way to maintain divine sovereignty in their formulation of evolution, whereas others cast doubt on it.

Jon’s probing critique of American TE is completely legitimate and TEs should not be prickly and defensive when the theological questions about divine action in evolution are raised.  They should want to hear from orthodox evangelical critics; they should want their understanding of God and evolution to be tested stringently for theological soundness.  The problem is that many TE leaders (especially the biologists) are very uncomfortable with theological discussion, and not merely because they don’t know much theology (which is certainly true!), but also because they sense that their particular understanding of contingency and randomness and non-teleology in evolution poses difficulty for certain traditional Christiain understandings, and they don’t really want to confront those difficulties, lest it put their professional commitment to neo-Darwinism at risk.  I would submit that these TEs need to ask themselves whether particular scientific models of evolution are so important that fundamental Christian theology has to be altered to accommodate them.  It would be a good spiritual exercise for them to reflect on that question.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84303

January 25th 2014

Eddie wrote

If Trinitarian theology, including the theology of the Word, is true, then it remains true for all eternity,

Now we are getting somewhere.  Is the Decalogue eternally true?  If so why are Christains not bound by obaying the Ten Commandments to be saved?

I believe that the words of Jesus, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” but who really understands Who Jesus is, What is His Way, What is His Truth, and How to live His Life.

Thus the words are true, but their collective meaning is not.  Theology is our human attempt to understand Jesus Christ and His Way.  The quest and many of the words are true, but our understanding is still very imperfect.

Similarly our understanding of God’s universe and ourselves is also imperfect.  If Jesus Christ is the Logos, our quest to understand God’s universe and ourselves as created in God’s Image also can lead us to understand God better.   

Finally our theology is based on our understanding of God found in the Bible, but our world view is based on Greek pagan thought, rather than the Word.  Again it is my observation, which is widely agreed upon, that the philosophical foundations of Western culture have been profoundly eroded.

Literalism found in both science ad religion is a feeble attempt to rebuild an solid fondation for how we know and what is real.  We need a new philosophy or understanding of reality which can integrate and reconcile the truths of both Christianity and science, which may be true, but are not forever.  

(1 Cor 13:11 NIV) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.   

As Paul says, God’s Truth is relative and relational.


Eddie - #84305

January 25th 2014

Roger:
 
1. Christians are still bound by the Ten Commandments. Neither Jesus nor any Church has ever revoked them. Jesus obeyed them throughout his life, and counselled his followers to do the same. Have you not read the Gospels?
 
2. Of course our understanding of God is filled with errors, Roger. Human beings speculate, make unwarranted assumptions, reason badly, and come up with erroneous conclusions. But the claim of evangelical Christianity has always been that the Bible’s understanding of God is without error. Some modern evangelicals are now questioning that.
 
3. For any evangelical or any Protestant worthy of the name, the core of Christian theology comes from the Bible, and that core is not negotiable. The other parts of Christian theology—Thomas Aquinas’s views on angels or Luther’s view on how the sacrament works or Clark Pinnock’s understanding of how the Holy Spirit works—are all negotiable. So Genesis is not negotiable, but particular interpretations of Genesis—Ken Ham’s, Karl Barth’s, etc.—are negotiable. The problem is that some people who deem themselves Protestant and evangelical—like Siebert at Messiah College—believe that some parts of the Bible are negotiable.
 
4. You return to harping on “literalism” after I’ve told you a hundred times I’m not defending literalism. Are you deaf, Roger? Do you have trouble with reading comprehension?
 
I’M NOT A LITERALIST
I’M NOT A LITERALIST
I’M NOT A LITERALIST
 
Is that clear enough for you?

5. The modern “world view” is not at all based on “Greek pagan thought”; if you think that, you know nothing at all about the history of ideas. The modern age, from the 17th century onward, has marked a steady turn away from Greek thought. I have documented this at the highest academic level (post-doctoral) for many years now, and can give you a long reading list of the sort of books I have recommended to my students, to help you to understand this.
 
6. You complain that “the philosophical foundations of Western culture” have been eroded, as if that is a bad thing; yet you are a typical example of the sort of person who has eroded those foundations. You constantly attack the Greeks, and Plato in particular—and thus you attack “the philosophical foundations of Western culture.”
 
7. Paul certainly did not mean that “God’s Truth is relative and relational”; that is the most grossly incompetent reading of the Corinthians passage I’ve ever seen. What Paul was talking about was a Truth that is not “relative and relational” but one which, though absolute and the same for all men at all times, we in our mortal state can see only imperfectly. An iceberg is not “relational” because we can’t see it in the fog. It is absolutely there, in the place where it is, and will sink your ship if you hit it, no matter what “relational attitude” you take toward it.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #84306

January 26th 2014

Eddie,

1.  Christians are not under the Old Mosaic Covenant.  Please give a simple Biblical citation once in a while.

Have you ever read the Letters of Paul?

2.  The Bible is not a person, however if I were to characterize the Bible’s understanding of God it would be Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the only One Who is without sin or spiritual error. 

Thus when we turn this question around to determine if a Biblical passage is authoritative or if a particular teaching is Christian, the Truth of Jesus Christ must be the Standard.  Many Evangelicals do not understand this.

3.  Jesus Christ is not negoitiable.  Our understanding of the Bible is subject to change.

4.  I do not recall calling you a literalist.  However you seem to share and defend the error of Biblical literalists who maintain that word is equivilant to the Word.

This is a serious misunderstanding of Christian Biblical theology.

5.  Materialism is a form of Greek pagan thought.  So is monism, however the modern worldview that you are talking about is dualism after Descartes which is also based on Greek philosophical ideas. 

It has just occured to me that you may be using the word modernism in a narrow religious manner like the Fundamentalists and Catholics used it some time ago.  That explains some of the confusion, but again my thinking has little in common with that movement.      

6.  The erosion of the Greek philosophy in our time is a historical fact because it no longer is able to support our intellectual understanding of Reality.  I am pointing out a historical fact, not creating one.

While it would be convenient if Greek philosophy were not flawed, it is.  Given that it is our responsibility as Christians and seekers of Truth to use our God given abilities and God’s Word to discover a suitable replacement. 

While I do not expect you to agree with my historical analysis, I would hope that you would agree with me concerning our responsibility if I were somehow correct.      

7.  Again you are not reading the Bible to understand what Paul is saying, but to make it say what you think is correct. 

Paul is not saying that childish thinking is wrong.  He is just saying that it is immature and indeed appropriate and right for children.  Jesus is quoted as saying that the faith of a child is very good and proper.

Paul is saying that it is proper to grow in our understanding of God as we grow older, but we will not fully understand God until we meet Jesus face to face in heaven. 

Christians live by faith and not by knowledge.  Our faith is relational and relative, never perfect. 

Paul is clear that we do not live by knowlege of eternal truths.  “Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up.”  “These things abide (last, are permanent):  Faith (even though Faith is useless without Love), Hope, and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.           


Eddie - #84308

January 26th 2014

Roger:
 
Thanks for replying to my points, instead of rambling; it makes discussion easier. My answers are as follows:
 
1. Find me a passage where Paul says that Christians are no longer required to follow the Ten Commandments. Also, explain to me why Jesus challenged the dietary laws but never challenged the Ten Commandments. Also, explain to me why every Christian teacher from the days of the Apostolic Fathers through to Wesley and beyond has said that the Ten Commandments are still binding on Christians.
 
2. To characterize “the Bible’s understanding of God” as “Jesus Christ” is a serious oversimplification. There are far more Biblical passages where God is clearly distinguished from Jesus Christ than there are where God is identified with Jesus Christ. And even in the passages where the two are identified, they are almost always identified only with important qualifications, i.e., it is the Word of God (only one part of the Trinity) which becomes flesh as Jesus Christ. And of course Jesus himself distinguishes himself from the Father many times in the Gospels, and prays to the Father (which he could not do if there were a complete identity between himself and the Father). So I hope you were speaking casually and loosely, and did not mean your statement as theologically precise or adequate.
 
3. I agree that our understanding of the Bible is subject to change. But what you are not hearing—I assume because you are not listening—is that many theologians, clergy, lay leaders and TEs in evangelical churches today believe that the Bible contains some errors and falsehoods in both theology and ethics. This means that the Bible is not entirely reliable as a guide to Christian truth. But these people do not say what is going to replace the Bible as a solid ground of Christian truth.
 
It is all very well to say that “Jesus Christ” is the solid ground, but that is meaningless unless you know what Biblical statements about Jesus Christ can be trusted; and it’s precisely the evangelicals I’m talking about who cast doubt upon the reliability of parts of the Gospels. In philosophical terms, Roger, you are confusing ontology with epistemology. You are right to say that the reality and truth of Jesus Christ (the Word) would endure, even if the Bible (the word) somehow became entirely lost. You are wrong to think that a correct understanding of Jesus Christ (i.e., of the Word) would be available to Christians if the Bible (i.e., the word) were not entirely reliable in matters of theology and ethics. You cannot pit “the word” against “the Word”; our knowledge of “the Word” depends on the reliability of “the word.”
 
The literalists that you continually attack do not deny the truth of “the Word”; they merely affirm that “the word” is also entirely true. And in this their position is identical to that of the entire Christian tradition—Wesleyan, Calvinist, Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, etc. You, in pitting “the Word” against “the word,” are in fact departing from Christian tradition.
 
I know your motivation for doing so. You think that the literalists are guilty of Bibliolatry, of treating the Bible as if it were God. And many of them are guilty of that, not literally, but in effect. They pay the equivalent of worship to words, phrase, syllables, and thus read carnally; the Bible becomes an idol of fundamentalist making, and “being Christian” becomes identified with “defending the Bible.” So they devote their lives to indignantly contending that there was a literal global Flood, even as those lives often show very little of the spirit of Jesus Christ in their human relations. They fail to grasp that the Bible is just a means to an end (as Catholics sometimes fail to grasp that “the Church” is just a means to an end), and so fall into Bibliolatry (as many Catholics, especially clergy and theologians, fall into Ecclesiolatry). Your rejection of this faulty approach to the Bible is commendable. But your proposed medicine is as bad as the disease you are trying to cure. The way to handle the problem is not to pit “the Word” against “the word,” thus implicitly casting doubt on the latter; the way to handle the problem is to distinguish properly between the true divine Word, and the equally true written word which testifies to the divine Word. This latter would be the traditional evangelical approach of Calvin, Luther, Wesley, etc. Your approach, on the other hand, sounds very much like the modern liberal one; i.e., we can’t trust all of the Bible, just the parts that have “good” theology in them.
 
4. Whether you have formally called me a literalist is irrelevant. You have continually treated me as if I were arguing from a literalist position. I’ve asked you to stop doing so.
 
5. Modern materialism is not a form of Greek pagan thought. Modern materialism has a complex origin. It arose in part out of the theological decay of early modern science, which in its original form (Newton, Kepler, Boyle, etc.) was not materialistic but theistic. As time went on, “nature” came to be thought of as a self-running machine, needing God only to start it up, and eventually came to be thought of as mere matter in motion, matter that just happens to obey laws, laws which originated neither in the mind nor in the will of any intelligent being. And the people who came to that conclusion were not “Greek pagans” (who worshipped gods) but Germans, Englishmen, Americans, Israelis, Chinese, Russians, secularized Christians, secularized Jews, and others (who worshipped no gods at all).
 
There was of course an ancient Greek materialism—Epicureanism. But to call Epicureanism “pagan” is misleading, because Epicurean philosophers certainly did not worship the traditional pagan gods. Epicureanism was essentially atheistic. And when people speak of “Greek thought” in relation to “Western civilization” they are not talking about Epicureanism. They are talking about the thought of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who were neither atheists nor materialists. It was the latter thought which shaped Western civilization and (along with Biblical and Christian thought) made it as great and as noble as it was. But you have repeatedly attacked Greek thought, Greek philosophy in general, and Plato in particular. You have attacked and belittled one of the major pillars of the Western civilization.

6. You write as if Greek philosophy has been shown to be false or inadequate. It would be interesting to know if you have actually read any Greek philosophy. Your statements about it show only secondhand acquaintance, because they present much misinformation. If you have not read the actual writings, you cannot know if Greek philosophy has been shown to be false or inadequate. You are going only by hearsay.

As a matter of fact, Greek philosophy is far from dead, and Plato and Aristotle continue to have many advocates among the most illustrious modern scholars and thinkers. In the past century we have seen Taylor, Cornford, Voegelin, Friedlander and many others. Allan Bloom made a powerful case for the revival of Greek thought in politics and ethics. And of course Christian Platonism was the dominant current in C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers, and other influential Christian writers of the 20th century (whom, curiously, you do not seem to have read). Thomist philosophers of great academic achievement continue to press the claims of Aristotle. Etc. Your declaration of the death of Greek philosophy is premature, and appears to betray an almost complete lack of knowledge of the subject.

7. Your exegesis of Paul is what Calvin would call “carnal” rather than “spiritual” exegesis. You seize on the bare words as proof-texts, without understanding their deeper meaning. You quote “knowledge puffs up” out of context; clearly Paul was there criticizing proud worldly knowledge, not true spiritual knowledge. Paul would never have said that true spiritual knowledge was undesirable.

As for your point that we do not know the whole Truth, that we grow in spiritual understanding, I never denied it; what I objected to was your use of the words “relational” and “relative,” which bring in all kinds of misleading notions about truth being relative rather than absolute, truth being purely subjective, etc. We’ve been through all this with the “situational ethics” of silly liberal American theologians. You can justify murder or adultery or income tax evasion or anything else if you can say that truth is “relative.” Whenever I hear the word “relative” or “relational,” I smell theological liberalism. Paul did not use such language. Drop the words “relative” and “relational,” and just say that we grow in our understanding of the Truth as we mature, and I will agree with you that this is what Paul meant.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84311

January 27th 2014

Eddie and all,

This was to be part of my reply to Eddie, but I lost my reply to the first five points when trying to get this quote for point 6.  So I don’t have to do this again I am writing my 6th point here.

6. Below is the Conclusion of an article I found here.

http://www.creative-wisdom.com/education/hps/galileo.html

The conflict between Galileo and the Catholic Church is indeed religious and theological in essence. Since Galileo destabilized the beliefs of the immutable heaven, the unchangeable God, and the hierarchically structured universe, the positive concept of “change” has been quietly revolutionizing various disciplines. Moreover, it was the mathematization of the universe, instead of empirical observations or experiments, that brought a new meaning to science. The divine and exploratory character of the human intellect, which is derived from the mathematization of the universe, liberated the human intellect from confinement by restrictive doctrines, such as the spiritual distortion of the human mind (Calvinists), the Bible as the sole source of truth (Lutherans), and the divine authority of the Church (Catholics).

In spite of the aforementioned ideological conflicts, one should not jump to the conclusion that Christian religion is anti-science or anti-intellectual. Even while facing oppression by the Catholic Church, Galileo never gave up his Christian faith (Sobel, 1999). Indeed, Galileo found no incompatibility between his faith and his cosmology. Besides scientists, theologians such as Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Kung, Paul Tillich, and Karl Barth are also condemned by conservative Christians. As mentioned in the beginning, the case of Galileo could be viewed as a struggle between old theology and new theology. Although Galileo is a scientist rather than a theologian, his cosmology and methodology carry theological attributes and make him the Teilhard de Chardin and Hans Kung of the seventeenth century.

Good theology based on Jesus Christ and the Bible, which is a book primarily of history, teaches Change and Continuity are basic to our understanding of God, ourselves, and our world.   

Traditional philosophy, as indicated in the article cited, is against Change.  Truth is to be found in changeless eternal verities.  This worldview has greatly influenced traditional theology.

Science has discovered that the universe is constantly changing and this for the most part is good.  This goes against the basic worldview of Philosophy, but not of Christianity. 

In its struggle against the worldview of Philosophy Science has overemphasized the element of change at the expense of continuity or design (order.)

Theology then finds itself at partial odds with both Philosophy which rejects change and Science which overlooks continuity and design.  Scientists have rejected the static worldview of Philosophy, not the dynamic world view of Christianity. 

The role of good theology is then to make sure it restores the dynamic of Change and Continuity in its own thinking and bring the same to Philosophy and Science.       

 

 


Eddie - #84313

January 27th 2014

Roger:

Thank you for your reply.  I see that you are still relying on secondary sources for your understanding of philosophy, the history of science, etc.  I would advise you to consult the primary sources.

No competent philosopher is unaware of the need to do justice to both continuity and change in the analysis of the world.  That need has been known to philosophers since the debates over Parmenides in the pre-Socratic period.  Thus, the assertion that traditional philosophy is “against change” is too uninformed to be worthy of rebuttal.  Anyone who knows the primary sources knows that such a claim is based on ignorance of what the great philosophers have written.

Another foolish idea is that there is a unified thing called “Philosophy” which offers a unified “worldview”; in fact, philosophers have wildly different “worldviews” and they differ from each other as much as, or more than, theologians and scientists differ from each other.  Anyone who had actually read any philosophers would know this, so I take it that your acquaintance with philosophy is almost entirely secondhand.

The author quoted above seems to be a fan of Teilhard de Chardin, whose main offense is not his heresy (though that was noted by his Church), but his awful theological and philosophical writing—muddy, vague, and confused.  The fact that the author admires Chardin pretty much tells the tale about the intellectual competence of the author.

The author quoted also tends to make inaccurate generalizations about most of the people and subjects which he (or she) discusses, and to jumble all kinds of distinct questions together.  If you regularly read such material, it is no wonder that you exhibit fundamental confusions regarding philosophy, theology, the history of science, and the history of ideas.  The only way to dispel such confusion is to study the primary sources.  You need to read the original writings of Galileo, Darwin, Aquinas, Calvin, Plato, Aristotle, etc.  But I gather that you have no intention of ever doing that, and will continue to offer opinions based on rumor, hearsay, etc.  Thus we will ever be in conflict.  

If it is any comfort to you, I agree that there should be ongoing conversation between theologians, philosophers, and scientists.  But you keep trying to turn that into a debate between “Science” and “Philosophy” and “Theology”, as if each of these has a monolithic approach.  That’s where you always go wrong.

You would learn far more about the relationship between theology, philosophy, and science, Roger, if you spent the next year mastering just one historically and theoretically significant book—say, the edited version of the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence—than if you spent that year reading thousands of internet secondary sources such as the one you have quoted.  Just as you’d learn far more about Christian theology by spending a year carefully reading just one important masterwork—Aquinas’s Summa, Augustine’s City of God, Calvin’s Institutes—than by reading about hundreds of “views” advanced by contemporary theologians on every topic under the sun.  I recommend a major change in your study methods.  But you can do as you wish.  


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84316

January 27th 2014

Eddie,

I am very disappointed in you.  In an effort to engage your vaunted knowledge and expertise in an important Philosophical issue that concerns me I refered you to a short paper on the internet and give you my thoughts on it.

What do I get back?  In a word, Garbage!   

No competent philosopher is unaware of the need to do justice to both continuity and change in the analysis of the world.

Is that the best you can do?  Not one word on the substance of the question. 

Just indefinite criticisms which might be good advice, but irrelevant to the question at hand.  Unbelievable!

I am glad philosophers are on the job.  Please let me know when any of them come up with a viable solution to this question.  


Eddie - #84320

January 27th 2014

Roger:

There is no point in my letting you know anything, because whatever I let you know, you don’t pay any attention to it.

What I’m “letting you know” here is that your big generalizations about philosophy above are made out of almost complete ignorance of the history, purpose, methods and conclusions of the Western philosophical tradition.  You’re relying on secondhand opinion.  You don’t know the texts.  And if you don’t know the texts, you should remain silent about the subject.  Yet you insist on speaking about the subject.  And you refuse corrections from people who actually know the subject.

If you are unwilling to take the time to read Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Physics, Descartes’ Discourse on Method, etc., then please don’t speak any further about what “philosophy” says.  You’re simply spreading misinformation.  Please limit your discussions to subjects that you know.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84325

January 28th 2014

Eddie,

There is a big difference in agreeing with someone and listening to someone.  Since you are convinced that you have all the answers, you think that anyone who disagrees with you is not listening to you.

I get your message.  Philosophy is for the philosophers, particularly for philosophers who do philosophy your way, and not for non-PhDs in philosophy. 

For the record most of my reading in philosophy has been in the existentialist philosophy, Heidegger, Tillich, Kierkegaard, and Buber.  They are probabably too modern for you and you will trash them, but so be it.

You say that I have no understanding of philosophy and I am convinced that you have no understanding of theology.  If I had the choice, I would take theology over philosophy any day.      


Eddie - #84334

January 28th 2014

Roger:

Thanks for admitting that most of your reading in philosophy has been of very modern writers.

Now, think for just a minute without reacting defensively.  Have you not, over your time here, made scores of comments about “philosophy” and about the historical role of philosophy in the Western tradition, which would require knowledge of philosophical writings much earlier than the ones you have cited?  Have you not made statements which you have intended to apply to philosophy as such, and not just to the recent philosophers you have named?  

If you think about that, the next question in your mind should be:  “Do I really know enough about Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Bacon, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Bergson, Ayer, Wittgenstein, etc. so make such vast generalizations about philosophy and its role in Western history?”

And then, once you have asked that question, honesty should compel you to answer, “No, I don’t.”  

The next step should be:  “Since I don’t really know much about the philosophical tradition at all, prior to about 1950, I resolve not to make any more big generalizations about “philosophy” until I have improved my knowledge.”  

And the next step should be:  “In order to improve my knowledge, I need to read, not internet articles about philosophy, but the primary sources.  So I will not generalize about philosophy again, until I have learned some of the key primary sources by studying them firsthand.”

As for your jab:

“I get your message.  Philosophy is for the philosophers, particularly for philosophers who do philosophy your way, and not for non-PhDs in philosophy.” 

That is not my “message” at all.  You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in philosophy to talk intelligently about what philosophers have said.  But you do have to READ WHAT THE PHILOSOPHERS WROTE.  You have to read their books.  You can’t talk sensibly about “Platonic dualism” if you haven’t read Plato.  You can’t talk about the relationship between “philosophy” (as if that were all one thing) and “science” (as if that were all one thing) without knowing a great deal about the views of individual philosophers (and individual scientists).

Your problem is that you want to be the Grand Synthesizer of theology, philosophy, and science, when you have not done the basic homework that is required for such a project.

If you would limit your comments to what you have read, e.g., if you would comment on, say, the relationship of the thought of Dawkins to the thought of Buber (presuming you have read books by both), you could make concrete contributions.  But you make grand historical judgments.  It is your great sweeping generalizations that I keep objecting to.

 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84326

January 28th 2014

Eddie,

In response to the first of your 7 points above concerning whether Christians are dound by the Decalogue.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but WHOLLY lean on Jesus’ Name.

Nota bene: The Bible, the Old Covenant, and the Ten Commandments are all less than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness so they are not the basis of our hope, and they are included in the “sweetest frame” on which we dare not trust. 

Needless to say so is philosophy.

Paul made it clear that we have a choice between the Old Covenant of the Law and the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.  The Old Covenant  includes the Ten Commandments.  If we choose to put ourselves under the standard of the Decalogue, which is part of the Old Covenant, we are not saved by Jesus Christ, Who is the Standard of the New Covenant. 

Paul and the Wesleyans have it right.   


GJDS - #84327

January 28th 2014

I do not want to get involved in this strange exchange, but the last post by Roger leaves me stunned - Mat 5:17-20 makes it abundantly clear the law remains and is in fact perfected by Christ - not removed nor made different - Paul (and Mat 5:20) speaks of those who diminish the law - so Christ perfected it, and made the Law part of our heart and spirit - not a jot or smallest aspect of the Law will pass from the Law.  Anyone who claims any theological knowledge and thinks the ten commandements are not in force, is simply too ignorant for serious discussion.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84329

January 28th 2014

(Mat 5:17-20 NIV)  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

(18)   I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

(19)  Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(20)  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

GJDS,

Do you keep the Sabbath by resting on Saturday?  Do you keep all the dietary and cleanliness rules?  Do you keep are the Jewish holidays?  Do you make the appropriate sacrifices in the Temple?  All these are included in the Law Jesus was talking about.

Jesus perfectly kept the Law so we do not have to, nor can we.  What you are talking about is the Law of Christ to love God and to love others as oneself, which is not the Decalogue, but a Summary of the Law and the Prophets.

However even here Christians are not saved by keeping the Ten Commandments or the Law of Christ, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  We constantly break the Law of Christ and would be quickly condemned to Hell if that were the standard of salvation. 

The Love and Grace of Jesus is our Covenant Standard of Salvation, and nothing else.  Anything else according to Paul and good theology is Legalism and leads us to think that we are saved because we keep the Law better than the Pharisees or others.

Christians are forgiven sinners, saved by grace and not by the Law. 

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

O may I then in Him be found!

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand. 

All other ground is sinking sand.

GJDS, if you are not familiar with this hymn from my tradition, I commend it to you.   

 

 

 


Eddie - #84333

January 28th 2014

Roger:

This sermon on “justification by faith alone” was unnecessary.  If you would only read carefully, you would see that I never claimed that perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments was required in order to be “saved.”  I did not speak of being “saved” at all—you introduced that notion.  I said that Christians are still bound to obey the Ten Commandments; they are still something that God expects us to follow.  They have not been abrogated.  You can’t say:  “Oh, I know, I covet my neighbor’s wife, but that’s OK now, because Christians aren’t under Law, but under Grace.”  

So in answer to the original question you asked, yes, the Ten Commandments are still in force, and will remain in force until the New Heaven and New Earth come to be.  

Any theology which denies the obligation to obey the Ten Commandments, I would reject.  

I repeat:  core theological truths cannot change.  Human theories explaining those truths (e.g., explanations of how predestination works, or how the Eucharist works, or how the Fall affected nature, or how the God can be one yet three) can of course change; in that sense theology changes all the time, and I’ve never objected to that.

What I have said (to deaf ears) is that many modern evangelical theologians, pastors, etc. are now monkeying with core theological truths, without which Christianity is no longer Christianity.  I have said that this violates the evangelical tradition.  You apparently think that departing from evangelical tradition is fine, as long as the evangelicals in question say that their foundation is Jesus Christ.  You apparently think that one can deny the entire truthfulness of the Bible, endorse Open Theism, deny particular providence in evolution, etc., and that everything is just fine as long as the person uttering these heresies says “I believe in Jesus Christ.”  That’s where we disagree.  Having a sweet feeling about Jesus Christ doesn’t make your faith orthodox.

But maybe you don’t care in the slightest whether or not your faith is orthodox.  Well, that’s your right.  But evangelicals should care whether or not their faith is orthodox—or they should stop calling themselves evangelicals.

This isn’t about you, Roger.  It’s about the American evangelical tradition.  It’s about which way it is going to turn, as it stands at the fork in the road which is presently faces.  To the right, the tradition is reaffirmed; to the left lies the path taken by the mainstream churches a century ago.  I’m utterly unconcerned with which path you personally choose to take.  It is much more significant which path evangelical leaders and major evangelical colleges and seminaries take.  You have every right to speak for your own private theological views; you have no authority to represent the mind or soul of evangelicals today.  It is they whom I am addressing, not you.


GJDS - #84337

January 28th 2014

How extraordinary - by refering to the Bible that shows the ten commandements are to be kept by us, and then apperently understanding our inability to keep the law perfectly, and thus require salvation from Christ (who kept the law totally and perfectly), you conclude from this, the law is irrelevant and those who live their life according to God’s will, and are saved by the Grace of God, are now involved in legalism - perhaps you should study the Bible more and make fewer posts Roger.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84338

January 29th 2014

So in answer to the original question you asked, yes, the Ten Commandments are still in force, and will remain in force until the New Heaven and New Earth come to be. 

Any theology which denies the obligation to obey the Ten Commandments, I would reject. 

1.  Forgive me for repeating myself, but until you answer this question I must.  Is it your position that the Church is out of God’s eternal will because it does not keep the Sabbath, that is rest on the 7th day.  Are those Jews who keep the Sabbath and the other 9 commandments more righteous than we are?

2.  The purpose of religion is salvation.  If keeping the Decalogue does not produce salvation as the NT teaches and indeed often produces Legalism that hinders salvation, then what is the obligation of Christians to keep the Decalogue?

3.  The rich young ruler asked Jesus, “What must I do to receive eternal life?”  He said that he had kept the Decalogue.

Jesus replied, “There is one thing that you lack.  Sell all you have, give the money to the poor, and Follow Me.”  While most people focus on the sell all that you have, I think that the Follow Jesus is the key to this passage.

You are right, Jesus did not come to destroy the Old Covenant, but He did come to replace it with a better, a more complete, a more perfect different covenant. 

If the Old Covenant is replaced, it is no longer in effect.  That is what Paul said and this is now what the Bible says.  If you hold the Bible as your standard, this also must be your position.  

The problem seems to be that you and others do not understand philosophically how the Old Covenant can be true and the New Covenant can be truer. 

God does not change, but people and their ability to understand change.  To communicate properly with us humans God in a sense must come down to our level to bring us up to God’s level.  This does not compromise God, but is the expression of God’s perfect Love.               


Eddie - #84340

January 29th 2014

Roger wrote:

“Is it your position that the Church is out of God’s eternal will because it does not keep the Sabbath, that is rest on the 7th day.”

No, it’s my position that Christians are still obligated to obey the Ten Commandments.

How many times do I have to say it?  

And how many times will you keep adding in words that I never wrote, in order to make out that I’m saying something that I’m not?  

If you are talking about whether or not the Sabbath should be held on Saturday rather than Sunday, that’s a purely administrative matter.  The spirit of the commandment is that every 7th day must be a day of rest.  I’d have preferred that Christians had kept Saturday as the sabbath, but they are still obeying the essence of the commandment when they gather on Sundays.

Your contempt for 2,000 years of Christian tradition regarding the Commandments is actually an expression of theological arrogance.  You think that you understand the Bible better than all the Christians who have lived before you.  Talk about delusions of grandeur!


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84341

January 29th 2014

Eddie wrote:

This isn’t about you, Roger.  It’s about the American evangelical tradition.  It’s about which way it is going to turn, as it stands at the fork in the road which is presently faces.  To the right, the tradition is reaffirmed; to the left lies the path taken by the mainstream churches a century ago.

Eddie, you aren’t listening to me or American Evangelicals.  The question is not between orthodoxy and modernism.  The question is between status quo which is Biblical Inerrancy, as expressed in the Chicago Declaration, or orthodoxy.

The strange thing is that while you and BioLogos both disagree with the Chicago Declaration, neither of you see fit to critique its arguments theologically.  Thus it appears that you agree with the theology, just disagree with how it is used.

Indeed it seems strange that I, an admitted outsider because I am not an Evangelical, although I am an evangelical Christian, was the one to bring up this issue.  I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t heard a discussion on a local Evangelical radio station.    

You are warning American Evangelicals to avoid the trap of Modernism by refusing to accept TE.  Believe me, they have already heard this message, and their response has been Biblical Inerrancy which was made about 100 years ago and reaffirmed about 40 years ago.

So Evangelicals are safe from Modernism.  You do not have lose any more sleep over that. 

But what about Biblical literalism?  When are you going to address that and really bring Evangalicals back into orthodoxy.  If you really cared about them and the Bible and not just about a theological tradition, that is where you need to work.

I know very well you don’t care about what I think.  The only problem with that is I am the only one who takes you seriously.  You are not addressing Evangalicals because you aren’t saying anything that is new or important to them.   


Eddie - #84344

January 29th 2014

Roger wrote:

“The question is not between orthodoxy and modernism.  The question is between status quo which is Biblical Inerrancy, as expressed in the Chicago Declaration, or orthodoxy.”

Let’s put that more accurately, Roger.

The question that I am interested in is traditional orthodoxy vs. modernism.  The question that you are interested in is Biblical Inerrancy vs. The Theology of Roger.

By “traditional orthodoxy” I am not talking about fundamentalism, the Chicago Statement, etc.  I’m talking about the Creeds, the Fathers, the magisterial Reformers, etc.

I’m not telling American evangelicals that they must avoid all versions of theistic evolution.  I’m saying they should avoid all versions of theistic evolution that sacrifice Christian orthodoxy on the altar of neo-Darwinism.  There is a difference.

Both Jon and I agree that “evolution” is not in itself a theological problem.  Our objection is to the constant stream of theologically unorthodox things that TEs say in their attempts to harmonize neo-Darwinism with Christian faith.

I take it for granted that Chicago-style inerrantism is a distorted form of Christian faith that does a lot of harm.  I’m not interested in refuting it because to me it’s obviously wrong.  I put that dragon to the sword for myself decades ago, before I ever heard of ID or TE.  If you want to keep arguing with Genesis literalists as if they are still a live option, you are welcome to do so.  No one in the serious academic or intellectual community bothers with them.

The problem with you is that you are so obsessed with fighting literalists and inerrantists that you swing to the opposite pole, and end up endorsing wildly liberal doctrines.  You say silly things such as that Christians no longer have to obey the Commandments.  You pit Christ against the Bible (a standard liberal move).  You show complete contempt for the theology of the magisterial Reformers.  You brush aside Aquinas and Augustine and recommend Kierkegaard and Buber (not even a Christian) in their place.  You attack classical philosophy which was the bulwark of Western Christian culture.

Jon has been advocating exactly the right balance beween fundamentalism and liberalism, and you’ve consistently attacked him for doing so; either willfully, or out of gross misunderstanding of his position, you’ve treated him as if he’s defending fundamentalism rather than traditional orthodoxy.  And you’ve done the same with me.

Everyone else here seems to understand that we are defending Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, C. S. Lewis, etc., not Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, Creation museums, The Genesis Flood, the Chicago Statement, etc.  You’re the only one here (except for maybe beaglelady and Fruitfly) who hasn’t figured that out.  We’ve clarified this a hundred times, with no success; so there is no reason to believe that saying it 101 times will drive the point through your skull.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84342

January 29th 2014

Eddie wrote:

I’d have preferred that Christians had kept Saturday as the sabbath, but they are still obeying the essence of the commandment when they gather on Sundays.

Interesting to see that you really are a Legalist.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84347

January 29th 2014

Jon,

I hope that Eddie does not speak for you. 

Eddie,

Speak for yourself.

First you show contempt for the very people that you profess to be concerned about, saying that you distain to refute their core belief because it is so obviously wrong.

Are they stupid or under the control of the devil?

Then you completely misrepresent my positions bringing very serious doubt to your credibility and competence. 

 


Eddie - #84348

January 29th 2014

Roger, you wrote:
 
“First you show contempt for the very people that you profess to be concerned about, saying that you distain [sic] to refute their core belief because it is so obviously wrong.”
 
This confirms the conclusion I came to in reading the ending of your last post.
 
You have have not understood what I mean by “evangelical,” and have been arguing with me at great length under the fog of this misunderstanding.
 
“Evangelical” does NOT imply fundamentalist, literalist, inerrantist, Chicago Statement, etc.
 
As I use the word, an “evangelical” is someone who holds to the truth of basic, Reformation, Bible-oriented Christianity—the truth of BOTH Testaments, the affirmation that ALL of the Bible (not just the parts modern liberals like) is true in all that it TEACHES.
 
Someone can be “evangelical” and ALSO fundamentalist, etc., but an evangelical does not HAVE to be fundamentalist, etc. “Evangelical” is a broader term; “fundamentalist” “inerrantist” etc. are narrower in meaning.
 
So while SOME evangelicals read Genesis as a straight literal-historical account of creation, others do not. I would not be suprised if Walton considers himself “evangelical,” but he does not read Genesis in a fundamentalist way.
 
I gather that you never paid much attention to the student Christian life on a typical American university campus, because just about every such campus houses a chapter of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), and the leading theological lights of InterVarsity have NOT been Ken Ham, Duane Gish, etc. but Francis Schaeffer, John Stott, Os Guinness, C. S. Lewis, etc.—certainly not extreme inerrantists of the kind you are so worked up about. (The literalist-inerrantist students tend to gravitate to other student Christian groups, not InterVarsity.)

I think that every time you hear the word “evangelical” you automatically supply “fundamentalist, literalist, inerrantist, Chicago Statement.” If
that’s the case, no wonder you have completely misconstrued much of what Jon and I are saying. We are using the word “evangelical” in an entirely
different way.

SOME evangelicals hold to the literalist position that you so despise. I’m not addressing THOSE evangelicals. I’m addressing those evangelicals who are historically orthodox (i.e., in the orthodox Protestant tradition) but not committed to Genesis literalism. It’s THOSE evangelicals who, precisely because they are open to evolution, need to hear that SOME versions of TE are theologically heterodox and should not be adopted.
 
Far from having “disdain” for those evangelicals, I think they have been misled by theologically unorthodox ways of adapting to evolutionary theory, and I’m trying to give them an alternative.
 
Thus, I’m NOT telling such evangelicals that they should reject evolution and side with Ken Ham. I’m telling them that they should reject the liberal theology that goes with many formulations of TE, and hang onto the orthodox theology of standard Protestantism (or, mutatis mutandis, of Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy).
 
For an evangelical as I use the term, Genesis literalism should be negotiable, but historical Christian orthodoxy can never be negotiable; and for an evangelical as I use the term, particular biological theories of origins (e.g., neo-Darwinism, or the random origin of life) should be negotiable, but historical Christian orthodoxy can never be negotiable. Most of the leading TEs seem to reason the other way around. They seem to regard a particular narrow theory of origins (e.g., neo-Darwinism) as not negotiable, and much of the Bible and traditional theology as negotiable. I’m saying that this order of priority should be intolerable, not merely to the narrower sort of evangelical (the fundamentalists, etc.) but to ALL evangelicals.
 
What your position has in common with that of many leading TEs is a preoccupation with attacking those evangelicals who are fundamentalist, literalist, etc. That’s not where Jon and I are at. Yours is a negative position. Jon and I are pointing to a positive position. We’re saying, never mind the evangelicals whose theology is inadequate; pay attention to the evangelicals whose theology is sound. There are plenty of theologically sound Calvinists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and so on. And there is room for acceptance of evolution within a sound evangelical faith. Our objection to much of current TE is that it sacrifices parts of sound evangelical faith, in order to appease the most doctrinaire version of neo-Darwinian biology. Such a sacrifice is not necessary.
 
Christians don’t need to be against “evolution.” But they need to oppose forms of evolutionary thinking that are incompatible with traditional doctrines such as divine sovereignty, divine providence, etc. TE is right is in its opposition to narrow Genesis literalism; but TE goes off the rails when it hints at a flawed Bible, flirts with Open Theism, etc.
 
I haven’t knowingly misrepresented your position. You have said that Christians no longer have to obey the Ten Commandments. (If you haven’t said that directly, you’ve at least implied it, because you’ve said that I’m wrong on that subject.) You have scorned the collective wisdom of the Christian tradition, slighted Calvin, Luther, Aquinas, Augustine, etc. You almost never mention traditional philosophers or theologians without a dismissive or critical remark, whereas you go very easy on the unorthodoxies and fads of modern philosophy and theology. You appear to believe that Christian theology, even in its most fundamental doctrines, must “change with the times.” You appear to think that when modern science (evolutionary biology, quantum theory, cosmology, etc.) snaps its fingers, Christian theology should come running and ask how it can loyally serve its master. This is how you come across to me, and, I suspect, how you come across to everyone here. If these are not your beliefs, you are not expressing yourself very well.
 
But in the end, Roger, as I said, this is not about you. I am talking to the TE community, and to the liberal evangelical community (there being considerable overlap between the two). I am trying to persuade the more open-minded members of that community to think twice about their tendency to throw out elements of the Bible and the evangelical tradition, and to think twice about their blanket rejection of ID, since many ID supporters are comfortable with evolution, as long as it is framed within a historically orthodox understanding of the sovereignty and providence of God rather than a newfangled theology of “the freedom of nature.” But you keep getting in the way of my conversation with the TEs, injecting your own maverick theological position, as if I’m responsible to answer you if I want to criticize TEs. But I’m not responsible to answer you; you don’t represent either TE or the evangelical community.
 
I’ve answered you out of courtesy, because you have offered comments, and I’ve answered you fully; but I’m under no obligation to continue answering you forever, especially when you misrepresent what I’m arguing over and over again (putting words into my mouth about the Ten Commandments, etc.), and especially when you persist in using a narrow definition of “evangelical” which leads only to confusion and misunderstanding.
 
I think that this post and my last have been clearly and carefully written; if you don’t understand me now, you never will. I see no need to carry on this discussion further. If you choose to misrepresent or misunderstand what I’ve said here, don’t expect further replies. I trust that the readers here will see that I’ve already dealt with such objections.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #84356

January 30th 2014

Eddoe,

Thank you for your post and thank you for the conversation.

I think that this post and my last have been clearly and carefully written; if you don’t understand me now, you never will.

I think that you flatter yourself by thinking that people do not dgree with you because they do not understand you.  I assure you that I understand you and I understand the Bible, and I still disagree with you.

I would suggest that you follow the motto of Augustine, Faith seeking Understanding, as opposed the motto of many others, Understanding seeking Faith. 

Creationists come to science believing that they understand how God created the world so they seek a faith that will justify this understanding.  Same with Darwinians and IDers.

I prefer to come to Science with the faith that God created the universe and all of life while looking to science to provide the details as to how.  The faith was not that I know the answer to the question, but the faith is that there is an answer that satisfies both Christainity and Science and the fullest and best sense of these terms.

Faith seeking Understanding requires the type of humility that you do not appear to possess.  I am trying not to appear judgmental, but as a ordained Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I am obliged to speak the truth as the Spirit leads me to speak.

Again I am concerned that you do not understand the full meaning of Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith and dismayed by your failure to take seriously the Chicago Statement.  On the other hand you are not alone.

I want to thank you for reminding me that Augustine and the other great African Fathers of the Church, Tertullian,  Origen, and Athanasius, were truly great thinkers and theologians.

I do admire the great Protestant reformers, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, and John Wesley.  Martin Luther King in our own day has been a great theologian as he embodied the faith in deed and word.

You have caused me to look again at the $ Solas.

           1.  Sola Scriptura, which is not the Bible interpreted by philosophy as you would have it.  It is the Bible understood by itself, primarily by the Logos, Jesus Christ.

 

     

 


Eddie - #84358

January 30th 2014

From now on, Roger, you get footnotes only, since my carefully edited exposition is apparently of no avail and I have no time to write more of it.

1.  ”I prefer to come to Science with the faith that God created the universe and all of life while looking to science to provide the details as to how.”

I have no objection to this; the problem is that many TEs display dogmatic theological ideas about the “how”; many of them explicitly or implicitly deny that God would ever perform any special divine action (outside of natural laws) in creating the world; and many of them reject naturalistic front-loading, not for scientific reasons but for theological ones (i.e., their hatred of fixed results determined in advance by the divine will, as a violation of nature’s “freedom”).  The only “how” that many TEs find theologically acceptable is “no miracles, no front-loading, God just rolls the dice and lets nature do its thing.”  And of course this is unacceptable as Christian theology.   

2.  ”Faith seeking Understanding requires the type of humility that you do not appear to possess.”

Like anyone else, I’m capable of failing in humility.  But it strikes me that the one who is lacking humility is the one who, with zero academic training in many of the subjects he talks about, nevertheless asserts himself very firmly, and then refuses to accept correction from someone who has the academic training that he lacks.  Not to be willing to learn from someone who knows more about a subject—what is that but lack of humility?  Have you asked the Spirit (which “leads” you to tell me that I am not sufficiently humble) to inform you when you yourself exhibit a similar defect?  Or do you (very unhumbly) assume that you have no problem in that regard?

3.  Whether or not I understand “the full meaning” of justification by faith is neither here nor there.  What I do understand is that that you have not provided a shred of textual evidence to show that Paul exempted Christians from obeying the Ten Commandments; and even if he did, Jesus certainly did not.  And as you said, Jesus Christ is the final authority. 

4.  Interesting that you omit, from your list of “great Protestant reformers,” John Calvin, a more scholarly exegete and more competent systematic thinker than any of those you named, and historically the strongest single influence upon American evangelical Protestantism.

5.  I’m glad to learn something new from you, i.e., that Martin Luther King “embodied the faith in deed and word.”  I guess it is consistent of you to say that; since you believe that Christians are no longer bound by the Ten Commandments, it is only natural that would describe a serial adulterer as someone who “embodied the faith in deed.”  I guess JFK was engaging in perfectly acceptable Catholic behavior when he was enjoying the delights of Marilyn Monroe, and that another Democrat, Bill Clinton, was engaging in perfectly acceptable evangelical behavior when he was enjoying similar favors from Monica Lewinsky.

6.  I never said that “sola scriptura” was “the Bible interpreted by philosophy.”  You are either deliberately lying about what I have said, or you are an incompetent reader.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84357

January 30th 2014

Continuation

2.  Sola Fide, Salvation by Faith alone and not by the Law or any part of the Law.

3.  Sola Gratia, Salvation by faith through grace, meaning that Christians are not under the Law.

4.  Sola Christus, meaning that Jesus Christ is the Beginning and End of our faith, not the Bible, not good works, and not philosophy or science. 

Nota Bene:  There is a fifth sola, Sola Deo Gloria, which imho does not belong with the others. 

Thank God for the Protestant evangelical tradition and all that it has done and meant for our world, but a tradition is a tradition and not the Word of God. 

God’s Truth is marching on and we must try to keep in step to follow Him.  Glory, Glory Halleluia.  Amen.  


Eddie - #84359

January 30th 2014

Continuation of footnotes:

A.  I never said that salvation came through the Law.  I said that Christians are still bound by the Ten Commandments.  You confuse justification with sanctification—a kindergarten theological mistake which Calvin never made, and which Wesley never made, but which, apparently, some modern Methodists make.  If Wesley—who put so much emphasis on sanctification—is reading your posts, he’s rolling over in his grave.

B.  Same point.  Saying the Law is not necessary for Salvation (because if one sins, there is Grace) is not the same as saying that God exempts us from the content of the Law—the moral law, that is, which is given in outline in the Ten Commandments.

C.  Not one of your heroes—Hus, Luther, Wesley—ever pitted the authority of Jesus Christ against the authority of the Bible as you are doing.  They would all be very angry at you for doing so.

D.  Why are you thanking God for the Protestant evangelical tradition, when you apparently believe that it is riddled with errors and has grossly misread the Bible from the very first day of the Reformation?

E.  “God’s Truth is marching on” NEVER meant “God’s Truth changes.”  And it never meant that Christians had to “keep in step” with modern science, modern philosophy, modern social mores, etc.  It meant that Christians had to “keep in step” with the teaching of God’s revelation.  You are using a beloved traditional phrase to justify a radical liberalizing of Christian doctrine as it kowtows to modern culture.  You should be ashamed of yourself for manipulating the letter of the expression, while violating its spirit.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84362

January 31st 2014

Eddie,

Regarding your footnote on Dr. King.  A serious problem of Legalism is it exposes our faith to ad hominem arguments. 

Martin Luther expressed rapid antiSemitism which was used by Hitler to promote his racist views.  Does that mean thast the Reformation was wrong or antiSemitism is right?

I hope that you haven’t forgotten that David was an adulterer and a murderer.  He had many wives contrary to God’s Law and was a terrible father ans a bad king when he did not respond to problems in his own family which led to Absolom’s rebellion.  Yet we quote the Psalms of David all the time as good theology, right.

Legalism prevents people from accepting the good as well as the not so good from people whom God has blessed.   

If we are judged only by our sins, which are real, none could stand.  Thank God that we are saved grace received through faith, and God is able to work through me despite my sins and shortcomings, which are many.  

God’s Truth comes in many forms, which is what the Saduccees and the Pharisees refused to acknowledge.  Please do not follow in their footsteps.  


Eddie - #84363

January 31st 2014

Roger:

New footnotes:

1.  It appears that you think that serial adultery is acceptable to God, as long as the serial adulterer plans on repenting at some point in the future, after he has satisfied his lust once more.  You’ve turned “God will forgive the sinner if he realizes the great evil of his actions and repents in sackcloth and ashes” into “Sin all you like, because no matter how many times you do it, and no matter how lazy you are in trying to combat it, Jesus has you covered.”  Absolution without contrition.  What a cheapening of divine Grace, to make it obtainable without any personal discomfort.

2.  The latest example of your Pulitzer Prize-winning English is “rapid antiSemitism.”

3.  Luther was wrong to be anti-Semitic.  Anti-Semitism is contrary to Biblical principles.  Luther was right to obey the Ten Commandments.  They are at the heart of Biblical teaching.  

4.  God had not at the time of David proclaimed monogamy to be required.  You clearly don’t know your Old Testament.  (Not surprising, given your scorn for Calvin and Calvinism.)

5.  Anyone can admit, in a vague general way, that his sins and shortcomings are many.  That gives the appearance of humility and piety without offering any real, heartfelt admission of wrong.  But hardly anyone admits to specific sins and shortcomings, because specifics cut too close to the bone.  For example, hardly anyone ever says, “I deliberately made fun of you at school yesterday, because I wanted to earn the approval of the ‘cool kids’ in the class; this was evil, sinful pride, and I’m deeply ashamed of myself.”  And hardly anyone ever admits, “I have great intellectual pride, and tend to be very defensive when someone corrects me, especially when I know that the correction is valid and/or that the person correcting me knows considerably more about the subject than I do.”  That’s much, much harder to confess than “My sins and shortcomings are many.”

6.  “God’s Truth comes in many forms” is a vague generality with no precise meaning.  But of course it allows one to believe that Christian theology should change to “keep up with the times.”  A breaking of faith with God is neatly concealed by bland, innocuous-seeming “openness.”  That’s liberal Protestantism in a nutshell.  And of course, liberal Protestants always accuse those who hold to the traditional faith of being “Pharisees and Sadducees.”  “You’re a Pharisee!” rolls off the tongue much more easily than “I’m a heretic” or “I’m a sinner.”


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84364

January 31st 2014

(Mat 5:21-22 NIV)  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

(22)  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

 


Eddie - #84365

January 31st 2014

Roger:
 
Before exiting from our theological conversation, I thought I would share an interesting document with you.
 
You have, according to various internet sites, the title of “Rev.” in the AME church. I therefore thought that you might be interested in the following excerpts from the foundational doctrinal statement of that Church. I have added some emphasis in boldface, to highlight items that may have escaped your attention thus far.
 
“DOCTRINES AND DISCIPLINE OF THE African Methodist Episcopal Church….
 
“VI. Of the Old Testament.
 
“THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, who feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth: yet, notwithstanding, no christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments, which are called moral….”
 
I think the above passage is very illuminating for our debate.
 
And then there are these little bits:
 
“After which the Elder shall say,

“YE that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort…

 

............................................

“Quest. WILT thou then obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of thy life?

“Answ. I will endeavour so to do, God being my helper.”

I would assume that “the commandments of God” here include, among other things, the Ten Commandments.

Finally, there is this juicy bit, concerning a doctrine that the founders of the AME were very concerned to repudiate:

“Q. 18. Have we not also leaned towards Antinomianism?

“A. We are afraid we have.

“Q. 19. What is Antinomianism?

“A. The doctrine which makes void the law through faith.

“Q. 20. What are the main pillars hereof?

“A. 1st. That Christ abolished the moral law. 2d. That therefore Christians are not obliged to observe it. 3d. That one branch of Christian liberty, is liberty from obeying the commandments of God. 4th. That it is bondage, to do a thing, because it is commanded, or forbear it because it is forbidden. 5th. That a believer is not obliged to use the ordinances of God or to do good works....”

So the AME not only from the beginning upheld the authority of the Ten Commandments, but also anticipated, and consciously fenced out, the doctrine that Christ abolished the moral law that is part of those Commandments. And they put a name to that doctrine: “Antinomianism.” The very theological teaching that you, Roger, have argued for here (and we have your words to prove it), your denomination has rejected as false.

But there is nothing to stop Rev. Roger Sawtelle from becoming the founding minister of The First Church of the Antinomians.


 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #84366

February 1st 2014

OK, Eddie,

Are Christians bound by

1. the New Covenant of Jesus Christ or

2. the Old Mosaic Covenant or

3. both Covenants or

4. the Evangelical understanding of God? 

 


Eddie - #84368

February 1st 2014

Why ask me?  The Church which has designated you “Rev.” has a full statement on this matter.  See the source I’ve quoted from above; you can find it on many internet sites.

If you’re not inclined to acknowledge me as someone with any understanding of this subject, you should at least accept the view of your own Church.  (Which, as I demonstrated above, is the view I’ve been arguing for.)

If you don’t accept the view of your own Church, you should be having this discussion with your ecclesiastical authorities, not with me.  (And perhaps voluntarily excusing yourself from teaching duties within your Church until the theological disagreement between you and your Church is straightened out.)

Whether or not your hero Martin Luther King felt guilty for repeatedly and knowingly violating God’s commandment regarding adultery, I do not know.  But it is certain what God’s commandment was, and equally certain that King was obligated to obey it.  The AME Church says so.


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