Re: Response to: What does the creation lack?

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (dfsiemensjr@juno.com)
Date: Tue Dec 11 2001 - 15:14:09 EST

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    On Tue, 11 Dec 2001 08:06:45 -0500 "Howard J. Van Till"
    <hvantill@novagate.com> writes:
    From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <dfsiemensjr@juno.com>

    > Our only possible source for the Trinity is revelation.

    Dave, I don't mean to sound excessively feisty, but what do you make of
    the fact that the relevant "data" was apparently downloaded mostly in the
    first century, and then lay relatively unprocessed until it was needed in
    the fourth century to craft a theological solution to the problem of
    controversy that threatened to divide the institutional church?

    Looks to me as though there was no need to formulate an official
    statement until, on the one hand, there were a number of groups which
    were revising the biblical statements according to their "rational"
    requirements, and, on the other, an emperor who, in keeping with imperial
    tradition, wanted uniformity throughout his realm. The earlier Caesars
    allowed any belief to flourish so long as the imperial cult was accepted.
    Christians and Jews got into trouble, but other groups didn't care. But
    Constantine had a different kind of problem entirely, though with the
    desire for uniformity.

    >Only recently has the Big Bang indicated a beginning to the universe,
    which was
    > already in the scriptures. Apart from the Hebrew scriptures, the
    "creation"
    > myths are a reshaping of something, whether by Marduk using Tiamat, or
    the
    > Demiurge using what was available.

    Re science: I would suggest that we admit that Big Bang cosmological
    theory is able to speak only to the formational history of OUR universe
    since t=0. It has no empirical access to what may have preceded it, and
    it has relatively little to say about what may co-exist with it.

    Re exegesis: Given the uncertainties in translating the opening lines of
    Genesis, many biblical scholars are quite modest in their claims about
    what the Bible actually says about an absolute beginning. Some suggest
    that Genesis 1 starts not with "nothing," but with chaos.

    There is a difference between the claims of exegetes, who may consider
    alternative renderings (recall "All scripture which is inspired ...") and
    the way the adherents to Jewish and Christian beliefs understand the
    passage. I have run across some very strange interpretations of several
    passages by rightists and leftists.

    > There is another aspect of the situation, in that theology has been
    described as
    > the application of philosophical methods to the data of scripture.

    My question has been, Why limit the "data" of theology to the biblical
    text alone? I'm eager for theology to be a vital and contemporary
    discipline that is as relevant to the continuing human experience as are
    the sciences. Why treat God as essentially silent (non-revelatory) since
    the Church chose to close the canon?

    Howard Van Till

    In that case, which "prophet" or "apostle" are you going to believe?
    Mohammed? Joe Smith? Sister Aimee? the pope speaking ex cathedra?
    Kabbalists? Whitehead and Cobb? people who hear voices telling them to
    kill? What criterion do you use? "Sounds good to me"? I'll stick with the
    sola scriptura of the reformers, with the lower criticism to give us
    assurance of the best text and linguistic experts to help us understand
    the original terminology. The canon is the only "sure rule for faith and
    practice."

    As for God's silence, I believe the Lord directs his children in various
    ways. But the messages are not authoritative. What I think God is saying
    to me must be brought to the test of scripture, and may also be subject
    to other tests. I recall an evangelist who was holding services in a
    Mid-western church. A young woman came to him saying, "God told me to
    marry you." He responded, "He told me no such thing." The brother died a
    bachelor. I don't know about the woman. But I am fairly confident that,
    if she browbeat some guy into marrying her, he had a tough life.
    Swallowing "God told me to tell you to ..." is pathetic.

    Howard, have you really considered the consequences of you approach? IMO,
    it is more likely to lead to disaster than to spiritual advance.
    Dave



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