RE: The Problem of Liberal Theology

From: Shuan Rose (
Date: Thu May 09 2002 - 18:11:51 EDT

  • Next message: JW Burgeson: "Re: GEN 1-11: Beyond the concordist debate"

    Hi Glenn,
    Sorry for ruffling YOUR feathers. I let my sarcasm get away with me... I
    guess that I am just tired of people pinning the liberal(read: apostate)
    label on me for not accepting a historical reading of Genesis
    1-11.Sometimes I feel we should just forget the whole thing and start
    reading the Bible at Genesis 12.
    For the record, I believe that there is a great deal of historical truth in
    the bible. I don't think we can read EVERYTHING as historical or literal.
    Jonah, Job, and Daniel 6-12, for example, are not meant to be taken
    literally or historically, in my mind. Gen 1-11 is closer to these forms of
    literature than, for example, Gen 12-50.And the Bible can be wrong
    scientifically(Lev 19:11) and historically( The succession of Persian kings
    in Daniel).
    We simply can't take the view that all types of literature in the Bible can
    be interpreted one way, IMO.And the Bible is not a history book,science
    book, or book of metaphysics. But you know this.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Glenn Morton []
    Sent: Friday, May 10, 2002 1:02 AM
    To: Shuan Rose;
    Subject: RE: The Problem of Liberal Theology

    Hi Shuan,

    You wrote:

    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: Shuan Rose []
    >Sent: Thursday, May 09, 2002 12:08 PM

    > Well, I think that your approach, Glenn, should not be seen
    >as the only or
    >even the referred approach to Gen 1-11.But if you want a historical
    >reconstruction of Gen 1-11, go ahead. May the Force be with you.I
    >think that
    >your historical interpretation ends up being as subjective and symbolic as
    >my "Mythopoetic" interpretation, but you want to portray yourself as the
    >"objective scientist standing up for history & truth versus mythmaking
    >liberals like John, George, and myself, knock yourself out, Saint Glenn...

    Why the hostility? Why is it ok for you to tell me how wrong I am, but not
    ok for me to suggest that your approach might have flaws? It seems to me
    that this is a good for the goose etc issue. Or a dish it out but can't take
    it issue. I like the approach I take. Of course not everyone will like it.
    That is ok. If you don't like it, you don't have to read anything about it
    and you won't get mad at me anymore.

    As to the comment 'objective scientist,' I don't see the justification for
    this comment. I have never suggested or called myself that. I don't,
    however, see a reason to hold to what I view as two standards--one for
    science and one for religion. I used to do that when I was a YEC. I held
    one standard of truth for Monday through Friday when I was at work looking
    for oil. This standard required that Truth was determined by how well a
    hypothesis CORRESPONDED to reality/history. As a YEC I then held another
    standard entirely in the evenings and weekends when I did my YEC stuff. This
    standard held that the Bible (or really my interpretation of it) was true
    regardless of what scientific data contradicted it. It was a double-minded
    life and I want no part of such a life any more. I wish to have one
    standard of truth for both religion and for science and that standard is
    what is real, not what I can make out to be real or what I can declare by
    fiat to be 'real' in some unverifiable sense.

      Shuan, I see the liberal doing exactly the same thing as the YEC. The YEC
    holds that the Bible is true according to their interpretation regardless of
    what data contradicts it. The liberal holds that the Bible is telling us
    truths which are absolutely unverifiable by any scientific standard. Thus it
    doesn't matter a whole lot that the Bible tells us silly things about
    talking snakes because it was never meant to tell us about the scientific
    view of the world. It is true theologically. Both camps declare the Bible
    true no matter what the contradiction is or how embarrassing the Biblical
    story is. Frankly, I think both approaches stink, but then, there I go
    again, ruffling feathers.

    Both approaches leave no way for the Bible to ever, ever be false. To the
    liberal it is always true theologically no matter what it claims about
    talking snakes, floating axe-heads or the sun moving back. And to the YEC it
    is always true historically no matter how historically false their
    interpretation is. And to me, that is the problem with BOTH approaches.
    Heads, we christians win, tails, them there heathen lose. WE can't lose
    because we rig the game in one of two ways so that we always come out on
    top. Without any ability for the Bible to ever be wrong, both sides are
    totally fideistic (which claim has gotten me in trouble many times before).
    And maybe that is what religion is really all about--a fideism which can't
    be budged no matter what the theological leanings of the individual are.

    But, Shuan, please don't get your ruffles out of shape if someone pushes
    back after you have pushed. It is part of the experience on this list.

    And Shuan, I am certainly not a Saint. I struggle deeply with my beliefs
    and doubts assail me constantly. I feel like David Hume who wrote:

    "Doubts stole in, dissipated, return'd, were again dissipated, return'd

    He also wrote:

    'If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school
    metaphysics, for instance; lets us ask, Does it contain any
    abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does
    it contain any experimental reasoning, concerning matter of
    fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it
    can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion." cited by Alexander
    Waugh, Time (London: Headline, 1999), p. 82

    If you want a place to pigeonhole me, place me in the aviary next to Hume. I
    don't think he was cannonized!


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