Re: St. Basil's 400AD view of the Days of proclamation
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 21:37:22 +0000

George asked me to forward this to the list for him.

>Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 20:24:25 -0400
>From: George Murphy <>
>X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.01Gold (Win95; I)
>Subject: Re: St. Basil's 400AD view of the Days of proclamation
>X-MIME-Autoconverted: from quoted-printable to 8bit by id TAA26943
> wrote:
>> At 07:39 AM 08/29/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>> > wrote:
>> >> 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
>> >> 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.
>> >
>> > No because the heart of the theological message IS the Word made
>> >crucified & risen, not just "God loves us."
>> Why can't the flesh be theologically true but historically false? My point
>> is that this approach allows one to do anything one wants and to hold
>> anything one wants as being theologically true but factually false.
> 1) This is just the domino theory again in a slightly different guise &,
as I
>noted before, the hardline fundamentalist can play the same card (&
probably has)
>against you. As far as he is concerned you've already sold the farm when
you said that
>there might be minor historical errors in the Bible.
> 2) What I maintain is that there is good reason to believe the basic
>witness about the life, death, & resurrection of Jesus as things that
really happened,
>AS PART OF their claims about who Jesus is. That historical evidence &
>interpretation are connected with the corresponding witness of Israel.
That is the
>theological claim. It does not discount real historical & literary
evidence but it
>recognizes that the Bible contains other types of literature besides
>narrative. Of course someone can construct a theology in which Jesus is
pure symbol with
>no historical reality but that procedure is not justified by the type of
>study I'm speaking of. I am NOT saying that one can allegorize,
spiritualize &c
>anything that doesn't fit with one's preconceptions.
>> I can
>> imagine arguing with some people precisely this point. I know you don't
>> hold it, but I don't see any limit on why it couldn't be applied. Is it
>> wrong? IMO yes, but the position is entirely subjective as to what is and
>> what isnt historical.
> No. Some subjective element enters, as with almost all historical
>But it is not "entirely subjective" to note the differences in, e.g., the
"cleansing" of
>the Temple in John & the synoptics, study their theologies, & conclude
that it's a lot
>more likely that the synoptic placement is historicaly correct & the
Johannine placement
>is for purposes of distinctively Johannine theology.
>> > Of course I realize that Mormons will present their arguments as
>> >At the very least, by trying to focus on Christian fundamentals we may be
>> on grounds
>> >where something positive, as distinguished from the merely negative work
>> of showing that
>> >the Bk of M is wrong, MAY be done: The best defence is a good offence.
>> In the same
>> >way, I try as quickly as possible to get Jehovah's Witnesses off
>> speculations about the
>> >end times & onto the question of who Christ is.
>> Here we differ on what is positive. One can't change someone's mind
>> without a two pronged approach. First one must give the other person reason
>> to doubt their position. This is the 'negative' work of showing that their
>> system of thought isn't working. But you also need to offer an alternative
>> which solves the problems. I didn't reject YEC because I suddenly saw
>> evolution as a great thing. I rejected YEC because YEC wasn't working and
>> that caused me to look around for another solution. Merely being 'positive'
>> gets you ignored.
> This is a question of tactics & in some cases your approach may be better.
>But the YEC analogy is misleading. Christian fundamentalists are
Christian & (except
>perhaps for the fringes) people with whom I think you & I can agree about
basic issues
>of sin & salvation through Christ. Thus the debate with them isn't
>theological (though I'll argue that TE gives a better theological
expression of
>Christianity) & it's appropriate with them to focus on scientific &
historical matters.
>You aren't trying to "convert" them to a different religion. The reverse
is true with
>Muslims, Mormons, &c.
>> > But note that I say "May": I make no claim at all to be
presenting an
>> >infallible method of apologetics. Certainly Mormons are deeply
committed to
>> >their beliefs & I have no illusion that just telling them they're wrong
>> will change
>> >that. But if (as Christians believe) there is some fundamental discord
>> between false
>> >faith commitment & genuine human existence then trying to get at things at
>> that level
>> >seems to offer some promise. Whether or not my or your approach "works" is
>> ultimately up
>> >to the Holy Spirit.
>> The results are always up to the Holy Spirit and the person.
> I could launch into a "bondage of the will" thread at this point but we've
>got enough to debate about already!
>> >> 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.
>> >
>> > This is a little like saying that relativity is a mirror image
of Newtonian
>> >physics. It may be as far as logical structure goes, but not content.
>> Without observational evidence (which is what the theologically true but
>> nonhistorial approach has), Newtonian physics IS a mirror image of GR.
>> Without observational evidence there is little to distinguish the two
>> schools of thought. That is exactly my point about what your approach
>> lacks. Tell my why Newtonian physics is inferior to GR without using ANY
>> observational data! I don't think you can.
> OTOH, what kind of "observational" evidence can one give to show that
>Christianity rather than classical gnosticism, or the ideas of the
Jehovah's Witnesses,
>are false? With Islam there are important _historical_ differences (as
well as a good
>deal of historical overlap) with Christianity but it's debatable that we
can call them
>"observational" differences in the sense in which we use the word in
>Christianity depends on historical claims about Jesus but they - even the
resurrection -
>don't _prove_ that he's true God of true God, that sins are forgiven for
his sake &c.
>While people have appealed to miracles, charismatic gifts, comparative
morality &c as
>"proofs" of such claims, in fact we will have real "observational
evidence" for Trinity,
>justification &c only eschatologically.
>> >> 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.
>> >> 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
>> >> don't share the same view of what is theologically true
>> >
>> > Perhaps - but as I note above, as long as you're doing this you're
>> arguing on
>> >Mormon territory.
>> NO!!! With that shared assumption (that actual events leave actual
>> evidence), I am arguing on HUMAN territory. We know that events which
>> actually happen leave evidence of that happening. Why are you saying that
>> only Mormon know that--i.e. that this is mormon territory?
> I think you're playing a word game here. If you're talking about the
Book of
>Mormon you're on Mormon territory, & that isn't changed by the fact that
the discussion
>is part of the larger realm of scientific & historical data. If you can
defeat the
>Mormons on their own ground so much the better but it's still their ground.
>> I don't see much in Acts, e.g., of _detailed_ argument against
>> >paganism in the missionary preaching. Paul's messaage to the pagans is,
>> "There's a much
>> >better way."
>> I see Paul using their beliefs against them.
>> Acts 17:22Then Paul stood in the midst of Marsí hill, and said, Ye men of
>> Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23For as I
>> passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this
>> inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him
>> declare I unto you. 24God that made the world and all things therein,
>> seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made
>> with hands;
>> By using the shared assumption that there should be evidence for past
>> events against the Mormon one is doing what Paul is doing--using their
>> beliefs against them.
> Note that I said "detailed." Paul doesn't spend any time proving that the
>stories of Zeus &c are false &c as the 2d century apologists would do. He
uses a clever
>way to get some common starting ground but moves as quickly as possible to
>claims. & at Lystra (Acts 14) Paul & Barnabas don't try to _prove_ that
the worship
>of Zeus is wrong but just dismiss it as "worthless."
>> > NO, NO, NO! I do _not_ "reject historicity". I do not think
that all
>> >the Bible is historical narrative.
>> Neither do I. But everytime I mention Psalms, which is not historical
>> narrative or Proverbs, or parables I get a big raspberry from you. :-)
> I don't recall making this noise. The reason I'm critical of your
mentioning of
>Ps. or Prov. is that you seem to want to quarantine non-historical
material in the Bible
>to a cleanly demarcated portion of scripture, & don't recognize that it's
more pervasive
>than that & that it's presence is often more subtle than obvious poetic
>> What
>> I contend is that passages like early genesis, which are in the style of
>> the rest of the historical parts of Genesis, should be treated as we do the
>> latter parts of Genesis==as a text intended to be historical. (Paul Seeley
>> agrees that the style of early Genesis is like latter Genesis)
>> This point, the way early Genesis should be treated is the biggest area of
>> disagreement between us. If you are not rejecting historicity why do you
>> reject it in early Genesis, when you have acknowledged that:
>> 1. My days of Proclamation theory is a solution to the Genesis 1
>> problems(albeit you don't like it that much) (8/16/99)
> But recall also that you said (17 August) that your view of Genesis 1 "is
>historical in the sense that someone in history believed this view or
parts of it" &/or
>"that it might well be a true account of events both before and after the
start of
>time." Both of these (& especially the first) so stretch the meaning of
>that it seems to me misleading to use the word for them.
>> 2. that your account of the flood doesn't match the details of the account
>> (8-15-99). I havn't seen a critique of my view from you explaining where I
>> fall short(factually).
> I think your account of the flood can be called "historical" only in the
2d of
>the senses quoted above, & even there I'd omit the word "well". It's a
"might have
>been" account. & while linguistically _kol_ doesn't have to =
"everything" & _eretz_
>can = "land" rather than the earth, one has to look pretty fixedly at the
trees rather
>than the forest not to see that the story is talking about the destruction
of the world
>- all flesh, the earth. No, I don't believe in an historical global
flood. I think the
>biblical writers used traditions of Mesopotamian floods to speak about
God's cosmic
>destruction of an evil world by a global flood. I think that that is
truer to the sense
>of the whole flood story than your attempt to construct a might-have-been
>version, ingenious though it is (& I am not being sarcastic).
>> I guess my question is, why would someone want nonhistoricity when it can
>> be historical? That is something I really don't understand.
> It's not a question of "want" but of "willing to accept when the evidence
>suggests". & it's partly a question of how much one is willing to stuff
into the
>category "CAN BE historical". In order to "harmonize" the gospels
Osiander was willing
>for Jesus to have raised Jairus' daughter more than once. Would you be
willing to
>accept that as "can be historical"?
>> > I'm not committed to thinking that _everything_ in the Quran or
the Book of
>> >Mormon is false. Sooner or later we have to get to the theological
>> discussion - I want
>> >to do it sooner & you later. It may be that you'll convince some Muslims
>> that their
>> >book is historically wrong & they'll then say, "OK, I surrender. Now
>> tell me the
>> >truth." Fine. If you then tell them the real gospel & they believe it,
>> great. If you
>> >simply left it (as I know you wouldn't!) with convincing them that the New
>> Testament is
>> >historically accurate then they would have asked for a bread & you would
>> have given them
>> >a stone.
>> Two comments. First, your committment to thinking that everything in the
>> Koran and the Book of Moman is false is not evidence that this is so.
> You misread me. I said "I'm NOT committed to thinking that everything in
>Quran or the Book of Mormon is false."
> .....................................
>> And I agree that one can't leave someone with the idea that the NT is
>> historically accurate without taking them into the theology. I just don't
>> see how one can teach a historical religion like Christianity without the
>> history.
> & I never said one should. You can't talk about Christianity with the
>that Jesus lived & was a certain type of person & died on the cross & was
>> >> 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
>> > I confess to believing Christianity true & working on that
basis. OTOH,
>> your
>> >presupposition that _all_ theologically true statements must be
>> historically accurate
>> >(at least approximately!) seems to me
>> > a. not deep enough to get at the real issues, &
>> > b. simply wrong.
>> I have not (to my knowledge) said that all theologically true statements
>> must be historically accurate.
> On 28 August you said, "After all, if the story is all fiction, no amount
>theological truth can be squeezed from it." Does this mean that if it has
a little
>historical truth it can have a little of theological value? What's the
>OTOH, I don't think there is a 1 to 1 correlation.
>What I have said is that if something
>> appears to be historical (like early Genesis), is written in a historical
>> style (like early Genesis), AND it is suggested to be filled with deep
>> spiritual and theological significance, then the falsity of those
>> historical events creates huge doubt about the derived theology. And
>> because the the Good Samaritan story is told as a sermon illustration, it
>> has enough room for doubt about its actual historicity.
> Actually it's the whole sermon.
>> That does not apply
>> to early Genesis since it is not part of a sermon illustration.
> Would it be unfair to paraphrase your statement as "is not intended
primarily as
>a theological statement"? If that's a reasonable paraphrase then it
summarizes our
>basic disagreement here.
>George L. Murphy

Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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