RE: Frustrations (was Re: Randomness)

From: Shuan Rose (
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 13:38:07 EDT

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            I do not think that saying that portions of the Bible express
    values is heretical. If you believe, as I and many do, that there is
    unfolding revelation in the Bible, then parts of the Bible will express an
    understanding of God and ethics that is necessarily sub-Christian ( for
    example, the Amalekite passages discussed earlier).IMO, the entire holy war
    ethic is sub-Christian. I can't square the slaughter of children with the
    Sermon on the Mount. I agree that we need to discuss how to approach
    Scripture and in what sense it is divine revelation. I suggest that should
    be the first topic we discuss.
    I agree with Blake re omnipotence. If God did not somehow limit his
    omnipotence, there would be no free will. but that's my uninformed opinion.
    I suggest that should be our second topic. I would agree that we need to
    consult books on these topics, rather than simply throw out our ideas.
    I like the book club idea. Since you proposed it, you get to set it up,
    including what book to pick, etc.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: []On
    Behalf Of Terry M. Gray
    Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 1:14 AM
    Subject: Frustrations (was Re: Randomness)


    Let me respond to several of your recent posts with the following
    expression of frustration. I'm sure you are equally frustrated.

    I would put several of your recent posts in the category of serious
    heresy (how's that for openers?).

    Your judgment that scripture is "merely" "how each author of the time
    apprehended God" as evidence in the following:

    At 2:00 PM -0600 5/28/02, J Burgeson wrote:
    >I see them more as a record of how each author of the time apprehended God.
    >Some did it well -- some, as for instance the Psalmist who wanted to bash
    >the brains out of the Babylonian infants, less well.

    I hope that you will admit that you have set some standard (I'm not
    sure where it comes from) above scripture by which you judge
    scripture. No doubt, this Psalm is a difficult Psalm as are all the
    impreccatory Psalms, but I'm not willing to say that it is not from
    God nor reveals to us something very true, good, righteous, and holy
    about God.

    You've written:

    At 11:51 AM -0600 5/20/02, J Burgeson wrote:
    >So -- take all away -- show me that the best scholarship indicates that the
    >whole Bible was written by a crazed monk in 500 AD, what remains is that
    >HAS revealed himself to me and what faith I have comes from Him, not from
    >me. In that sense, falsification is a non-possibility.

    I can't think of anything more antithetical to my understanding of
    Christianity. Christianity is not primarily about some personal
    religous experience. It's about how God became flesh 2000 years ago
    in Jesus Christ and fulfilled His own requirements for human beings
    for us (both positively in fulfilling our covenant obligations and
    negatively in paying the penalty for our failure to fulfill those
    obligations). Christianity is not primarily about what I do and how I
    respond (although I must)--it is primarily about what God did in
    Christ. Christianity is intensely historical...God acting in history
    performing mighty works that result in the salvation of his people.
    If it didn't happen then there is no Christianity, there's no
    salvation, there's merely religious sensibilities which don't get us
    anywhere except maybe to recognize our horrible sinfulness before a
    holy God. (At worst, they make us think that we're perhaps okay with
    Him because we have them.)

    Finally, in this latest message:

    >One may ascribe omnipotence to God if he wishes. The advocates of Open
    >Theism seem to have a pretty good argument against it.
    >Let me, for argument's sake, assume omnipotence, in which I neither believe
    >nor disbelievem BTW.
    >Assuming onnipotence on the part of God, it seems easy to also assume he
    >chooses not to exercise that omnipotence in some instances.
    >And that was all I said. That he does so seems (to me) irrefutable.

    Personally, I regard open theism in the same category as process
    theology. I regard it as an un-Biblical philosophical/theological
    response to the problem of evil that ignores fairly straightforward
    passages in the Bible that put God squarely in control of and in
    command of evil (without Himself being the author of sin or ceasing
    to be good). I don't think that the advocates of Open Theism have
    made a good argument against God's omnipotence in the slightest.

    I don't even want to crack the door open again on the homosexuality
    issue, other than to say that I regard your views on that subject

    Now I'm not particularly inclined to debate any of these issues. I
    simply mention these points in part to let you know how far removed
    your theology is from mine. I suspect that there are some closer to
    my camp on these questions and others closer to yours.

    My frustration comes in that it is well-nigh impossible to discuss
    faith-science issues without touching on these questions. Yet there
    is so little common ground between us on these theological questions
    that discussion cannot sensibly take place. As with this post, we
    merely say "no, and here's what I believe". I suppose that's
    discussion of some sort. [Imagine, if you're familiar with these
    denominations, church union talks between the Orthdox Presbyterian
    Church and the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA).]

    For example, if you tell me that the Psalm that speaks of dashing the
    babies against the rocks is sub-Christian and that the author didn't
    really apprehend God very well, then it's pretty obvious that you're
    not going to take very seriously my appeal to that or similar verses
    as proving some teaching about God. If I were to list for you all the
    Biblical proof-texts and arguments that we Calvinists use to argue
    that God controls everything even the minutest detail of his creation
    (casting of the lot, hairs on the head, death of a sparrow, etc.),
    you could refute them all simply by saying that the Bible is merely
    the authors' apprehension of the divine and not God telling us
    through his divinely inspired Word about himself. I guess you get
    your understanding of God that allows you to pick and choose which
    part of the Bible you want to accept or not based on something else.

    I honestly don't know where to begin with some of your posts. (Not
    that I always disagree with you, mind you.) I tend to read them,
    shake my head, formulate a long response in my head while walking or
    riding the bus to work, then deciding that I don't have time take
    this particular issue on. But I do wonder at times what the watching
    world (if there is such a thing) thinks of all this. While I'm pretty
    sure that I'm kind of right-leaning in the ASA, I'm also pretty sure
    that you are way out there on the left. (You'll probably take some
    satisfaction from that characterization.) In one sense this post is
    somewhat about distancing the ASA as an organization from your views
    (and from mine too, of course). Perhaps this is obvious to all.

    Another aspect of my frustration is that it would be nice to have
    some discussions on various issues where there was a bit more common
    ground. Maybe there wouldn't be any discussion if the ground was
    common. But most of these issues aren't new. The debates about
    scripture go back at least 100 years. The divine sovereignty/free
    will discussions go back 1500 years or so (theologically speaking).
    Process theology has been around for 75 years. Open theism is kind of
    new, but not really. These are well-defined theological and
    philosophical camps and which have answers to these questions and
    criticisms of the "contrary" perspective. On some of the issues that
    we discuss, where one come down on these theological/philosophical
    issues determines the answer in advance. Call it worldview, paradigm,
    whatever postmodernism is calling this sort of thing these days.

    (If you think Stuart was rambling, what do you call this?)

    I suppose we perform a service to our questioners and lurkers by
    giving them the range of answers to a particular question by those
    who claim to be Christians (no judgment intended here). Then they can
    think some more, read some more, weight the arguments and decide for

    I was going to propose this later, but it seems appropriate now if I
    want to end this on a more productive note. I wonder if a good use of
    our common interest in these issues would be to have an on-line book
    club. For example, several people on the list may be interested in
    reading S. J. Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. We could
    give ourselves a due date for a chapter or two, have someone
    summarize, and then discuss. Then after a while move on to the next
    couiple of chapters. [It might be fun to have an informal, impromptu
    session at the ASA meeting to discuss some of Gould's book.] Any
    takers? The book club wouldn't have to be the exclusive thread, but
    could be clearly marked so participants and non-participants alike
    would know what's up.


    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

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