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.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/ phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
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