Re: St. Basil's 400AD view of the Days of proclamation
Sat, 28 Aug 1999 21:12:35 +0000

At 06:09 PM 08/28/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
> We agree on "centrality of the gospel story" but our whole disagreement
>just what is meant by "veracity of the documents." I do't agree with your
>sentence here & just don't see how your position can be sustained. Here
we come to what
>I said when I jumped ahead too quickly a couple of exchanges ago. Whether
or now Jonah
>or the Good Samaritan happened, their theological messages are quite

That just seems to be poor justification for saying a third story isn't
historical. The 'fact' that the Good Samaritan isn't a real tale in no way
implies that the flood, the fall, the Exodus or the resurrection is thus
non-historical. What you are using is a non-sequitur. One could equally
claim that whether or not the resurrection occurred, the theological
message is clear--God loves his people and is willing to sacrifice for
them. This type of claim can be universally applied and there is no limit
to its application. All it takes is belief--not evidence. And protesting
that this isn't the way the resurrection should be treated is not IMO a
good argument.

> There is good reason why the Mormons don't have crosses on their
>When I asked a Mormon missionary about this he said, "If someone killed
your brother,
>you wouldn't put the gun he used to do it on your living room wall would
you?" They
>don't agree with orthodox Christianity on what it means.
>> And by theologically true, I assume they mean the very same thing you mean.
>> It is a true theological statement about the metaphysical reality of God's
>> cosmos.
> But we don't agree on what that "metaphysical reality is" - which
includes a
>Trinity & justification & the fact that we can't & don't need to become
"gods" by our
>own efforts.

You are missing my point. I agree that we and the Mormons don't agree on
what metaphysical reality is. That is totally different from what is
theologically correct (true) within their system. They work from their
assumptions and we work from ours. Since assumptions can't be proven our
lack of agreement with the Mormons on these issues is merely evidence that
we differ in our assumptions. What you are missing is that we can't simply
proclaim our assumptions are correct and then go home. That is like what
was suggested in Vietnam--declare victory and go home.

> Sure, & if they're unwilling to at least try looking at things from a
>standpoint then they'll never see the truth of it. We aren't talking here
>about abstract presuppositions of philosophical theology but about matters
which have to
>do with basic existential questions - guilt, mortality, meaning, &c. Do
you [the
>Mormon] really believe, when you're lying awake at 4 a.m., that you can
become a god?

Since I am playing the role of the mormon here, I would say yes. I think
they really do believe this. Why shouldn't they? They have been taught it
since birth. YECs believe the nonsense they believe, even at four in the
morning lying awake. Romans beleived in the kinds of Gods they believed
in. I don't see a problem with a Mormon believing what he says he
believes. You believe what you say you believe don't you? I do to.

>Take a look at Ezekiel 28. It's that kind of thing that a genuine
theology of the cross
>(grounded in the belief that the true God really died on the cross in
human history)
>gets at.

Fine, but once again, you are using your assumptions. Assumptions define
the mental/philosophical/religious playing ground. What you are doing is
like applying the rules of Monopoly to the game of RISK. It simply doesn't
work. Mormons believe that latter day revelation supplants earlier
revelation. So do the Muslims. and so do the Christians because we added
the NT to the OT. Thus applying Ezek. 28 to them might not have the effect
you intend because their assumption is different.

> I don't say "You don't accept my set of assumptions and therefore you're
>I explain my beliefs, inclus=ding the historical grounding for them, and
say why I think
>they address issues of the human condition that other assumptions don't.
I invite them
>to at least a willing suspension of disbelief, to look tentatively at
their life & the
>world from that standpoint.

and when I had 6 weeks of momon missionary visits, they invited me to do
the same thing--look tentatively at my life from their standpoint. They
encouraged me to pray and seek the truth in these matters.

What you are missing is that without concordism what we have with regard to
evidence is a mirror image of what the other religions have. Anything you
can say, they can say too. This is why concordism must be made to work if
it can be.

> Certainly it may be appropriate to talk about the lack of historical &c
>for the Book of Mormon. I think what's most effective has to be decided
on a case by
>case basis.

I find more effect with this. Why? Because we share the same assumption
that there should be evidence for what actually happened in the past. And
we share the same assumption that lack of evidence, while not proof of the
negative, does raise questions about whether or not something actually
happened. Once again, this is where concordism has it all over the
theologically true but non-historical views. We (mormons, muslims and us)
don't share the same view of what is theologically true

>> No, you told me your theological assumptions were the correct assumptions.
>> If I don't accept your assumptions, I am not bound by your conclusions. You
>> didn't tell me any reason why your assumptions are correct. No data, no
>> chain of reasoning that would grab a person whose assumptions are different
>> than yours. Sure, if the Mormon suddenly decides to accept your assumption
>> then he will say "AH I see you are correct George". The problem is that he
>> doesn't accept what you assume. He doesn't accept that polytheism is wrong,
>> he doesn't accept that works is a bad way to be saved. This is what I find
>> so frustrating about theologians (and my middle son is starting semitary, I
>> mean seminary). They tend to assume that their theological assumptions are
>> somehow unassailable and thus expect that everyone should accept what they
>> derive from their assumptions. That just isn't the way the world works.
> I don't know what seminaries or theologians you're familiar with but this
>be a complete misrepresentation of ones in my branch of the church.

George, I would respectfully submit that what you are doing in this
argument is precisely that. YOu have assumed that orthodox christianity is
truth. I also assume that. But then you argue that the morman is wrong
based upon the implications of orthodox christianity. When discussing
things with someone outside of our faith, it is useless to expect them to
agree that orthodox christianity is true prior to them becoming believers.
They really don't accept the fundamentals of the orthodox christian faith.

> Again I refer to my paper from the ASA meeting.

I will re-read it after I get my furniture out of storage next week.

Just as in science, one can't
>evaluate theological presuppositions by whether or not they have some a
>plausibility. You have to work out there consequences & see if they
correspond with
>experience. In the case of theology, that means considering how well they
address both
>personal existential concerns and knowledge of the physical world,
history, &c.

How well they address the physical world and history, I can understand.
How well they address personal existential concerns is much more nebulous.
When I was in China, I found that their view of existence was much
different than ours. And I didn't find their view better or worse, I just
found it different. Such cultural differences may play a role in how one
judges the efficacy of a view addressing personal existential concerns.

>you're not willing to get into the system far enough to see what the
consequences of the
>basic presuppositions are, of course you'll never believe them. If you
refuse even to
>consider the possibility that the speed of light is the same for everyone
then you'll be
>a Newtonian all your life.

True, but at least with SR and GR, I can show observational data that
doesn't fit Newtonian mechanics. What do I show to someone to convince
them that existential concerns are better handled in the western system of
thought vs. the eastern or even the muslim view? Since they view their
place in the cosmos totally different than most westerners do, it is hard
to even communicate much less get them to acknowledge the superiority of
western thought (which isn't superior).

> Here the matter is somewhat different because Muslims don't believe that
>died on the cross. & that isn't because of historical study but because
Islam, like
>the Judaism of Paul's time, could not imagine a crucified Messiah who
"died in

They also don't believe that God had a son. Jesus was merely a prophet.

In fact, a great deal of what passes for Christianity would just as soon
>get past the cross as quickly as possible and move on to Easter. Muslims
have a way of
>avoiding the cross entirely. & the problem isn't so much with willingness
to apply
>historical criticism to the gospels - they're quite happy to do that - but
with the fact
>that they're completely unwilling to apply it to the Quran.

I would take it from this that the Muslims should historically analyze
their book, realize it is non-historical and then reject the Koran. But I
know lots of atheists who tell me that christians should historically
analyze their book, realize that it is non-historical and then reject the
Bible. And indeed you reject historicity but fail to conclude that the
Bible is wrong. You say parts of it are non-historical but theologically
true. If you can do this for the Bible, why can't a Muslim or Morman do it
for their book? Why can't they say their book is historically inaccruate
but theologically true? The fact that it contradicts historical and
orthodox christianity seems an insufficient reason to me. It seems to me
that you are holding two standards one for christians and one for others.


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