Re: Lack of Apologetical predictions

George Murphy (
Sun, 08 Nov 1998 18:29:27 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> Hi George,
> At 08:47 AM 11/7/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> >
> > For YECs who are coming to realize that that view doesn't work but who
> >still think that Scripture can be true only as historical narrative, your
> >approach may be the best way to keep them from apostasizing. But that is
> >because it has to be accomodated to their rather limited idea of Scripture.
> Yes, and don't forget that it is my limited view of scripture also. :-) I
> just don't believe in telling the Emporer that his clothes are pretty, when
> he is butt-ugly naked. If I must believe in allegory anytime there is a
> problem between science and scripture, then my religion can't lose. It is a
> zero-loss game which wins every time. Such a religion is nothing but
> fideism, belief supporting itself with ad hoc props of allegory.

I said at the beginning of this thread that I was not particularly interested
in "allegory". If you are going to toss everything which is not historical narrative
"wie es eigentlich gewesen ist" - allegory, poetry, myth, parable, novel, etc - in a big
pot called "allegory" & reject it as butt-ugly naked, you are rejecting a great deal of
Scripture which manifestly is not historical narrative.


> > This is not "epistemology" because theology doesn't tell scientists how to
> >do science. It is _theology_, which is a discipline in its own right.
> Epistemology is a priori both to science and to theology.

Both science & theology make use of epistemological concepts, but are free to
modify them in accord with the nature of the phenomena they study. Philosophers who
don't like relativity or quantum theory had better modify their philosophy, & similarly
(as far as Christians are concerned) for Christian theology. Emphasis on this is one of
Tom Torrance's major contributions to the science-theology dialogue.


> >> Not necessarily, the image you have is a cultural image of maggots. Maggots
> >> have been used to treat gangrene for millenia in folk medicine. Maggots in
> >> those contexts are very good.
> >
> > Yeh, but those who use them don't want to be maggots. Leeches have been
> used
> >for a long time in medicine but being called a leech isn't a compliment.
> I could have used any animal. You miss the point. The non-historical
> approach has no ability to say that any theological/primal myth is false.
> All stories are true. I could have used unicorns rather than maggots and
> you still would have no basis upon which to day that the story was false.

It's not that I miss the point but that the point you think your making is based
on a false assumption about symbols. Within a given cultural context, one symbol cannot
just be arbitrarily switched with another. The symbol of creation of humanity from
maggots says something about human nature different from creation from dust. To say
anything further about this I'd want to know if you think Gen.2:7 is a literal,
scientifically and historically correct, description of the first human.

> >> No, my basic problem is that I want to avoid tautological belief systems.
> >> And I would say that the Disciples themselves grounded their belief system
> >> on something other than jesus himself.
> >
> > Of course when I say "Christ" I mean the whole "Christ event" - born,
> teaching,
> >healing, crucified, & risen.
> >
> >> They grounded it on the physical
> >> evidence they were privileged to observe. They touched, saw and heard the
> >> Resurrected Jesus. They didn't simply believe things because they believed
> >> things. And Thomas was the worst one because he claimed he wouldn't believe
> >> without that evidence.
> >>
> >> John 20: 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with
> >> them when Jesus came.
> >> 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But
> >> he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails,
> >> and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his
> >> side, I will not believe.
> >>
> >> I do not believe I am doing anything different from what Thomas did. And I
> >> think Thomas was the most rational fo the disciples.
> >
> > You cut the text short!
> >John 20:29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen
> me? Blessed are
> >those who have not seen and yet believe."
> That doesn't mean that Thomas wasn't a Christian.
Did I suggest that he wasn't? Thomas is in a way a very typical Christian, & is
accepted by Jesus. But the story of Thomas does NOT say "blessed are those who, upon
hearing the message that Jesus is risen, go and look for evidence beyond the apostolic
witness to confirm this claim." The sermons in the book of Acts & Paul's letters
likewise appeal only to the witnesses of the risen Christ & do not encourage any idea
that hearers should try to gather additional evidence.
The proclamation of the gospel is not simply the same type of message as the
announcement of scientific, political, &c claims, let alone the claims of competing
religions. It is the proclamation of the creative Word of God which itself is able to
bring about and nurture faith. Christians should try to remove unnecessary obstacles
which keep the Word from being heard, and should proclaim the gospel as carefully and
clearly as possible, but in the last analysis it does not have to submit to alien
criteria. "Those who have ears to hear, let them hear", and if they won't, shake the
dust off your shoes & move on. If this be fideism, make the most of it.


George L. Murphy