Re: YEC Destroying Faith

From: Dr. Blake Nelson <>
Date: Fri Apr 16 2004 - 20:18:13 EDT

--- Rich Blinne <> wrote:
> On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 09:17:26 -0700 (PDT), "Dr. Blake
> Nelson"
> <> said:
> > The Koran claims to be from God (even more clearly
> and
> > umambiguously than one can say about the Bible
> since
> > it is largely a unitary text whereas the Bible is
> > not), but you assert it is not. What extrinsic
> > evidence do you use for that? Does that relate to
> the
> > extrinsic evidence one may have for the
> inspiration of
> > Hebrew and Christian scripture?
> You miss my point. Because I came to the conclusion
> that the Koran does
> not come from God and it claims as you stated that
> it does, I cannot come
> to a middle conclusion. I must either accept it or
> reject it. While
> both/and is often the correct answer, sometimes it
> truly is either/or. If
> we a priori reject the either/or paradigm then we
> need to reject quantum
> physics.

I am not sure that is true of quantum physics if you
are referring to wave/particle duality, because it
behaves as both it is not either/or except in how you
ask the question, if you will. If I misunderstand
you, my apologies. If the point you are making is
that sometimes one thing is the truth and something
else isn't the truth or at least as complete a truth
as something else, I would certainly agree with that.

> So, if I have evidence that the Bible or
> Chruch for that matter
> is not what it claims to be, I cannot hold to some
> middle ground. Hello,
> atheism.

Well, there is a difference between what either claims
to be and what *I* claim it to be. The Bible can't
claim to be anything on its own, the authors of some
texts arguably in some circumstances claim the text to
be one thing or another, but that is not the same
thing as the Church claiming to be something. There
are also particular problems with using some things
said in some texts as proof texts about what the Bible
says about itself, but let's leave that aside for the
moment. The church or some denomination thereof can
claim to be something and whether it is that or not
can be evaluated in any number of ways.

But, yes, Paul certainly claims that if the
resurrection is not an historical fact christians are
to be pitied -- so, if the resurrection is not true,
Paul thinks christianity false.

> >
> > Given that the canon was chosen by the Church
> councils
> > on the basis of many things -- and one can say
> they
> > were divinely inspired in so doing -- I am still
> not
> > sure what one means that the Bible comes from God
> > given that the Bible is a canon of texts. One can
> > certainly say each of the texts that the Church
> has
> > selected for the canon are divinely inspired,
> somehow
> > to me that gives a very different emphasis to the
> > question than saying "the Bible came from God"
> which
> > may be a shorthand way of saying what otherwise
> takes
> > a long time to explain, but the shorthand way does
> > violence, I think, to understanding what the canon
> is.
> It doesn't matter whether you ground the authority
> in Scripture or the
> Church. If you posit the latter you still have to
> deal with the Church's
> dogma that Scripture is God's Word.

Yes, it depends, however, on how you define it as
God's word. Denominations differ. I do not even know
off the top of my head how many denominations use
"God's Word" to describe the Bible. As I said before,
there is a different connotation to divinely inspired
than there is to God's word.

> So, if the
> Church claims something
> concerning Scripture and it isn't true, then all I
> said concerning
> Scripture applies mutatis mutandi to the Church's
> witness.

Yes and no. There are a couple different issues
wrapped up in here. Others smarter and more educated
than I in such matters can probably come up with a lot
more but it seems to me there are several levels to
this. 1. Creedal claims, 2. dogma, 3. exegesis by
church "approved" theologians, 4. exegesis by
theologians within the narrower tradition, 5. exegesis
by others within the broader tradition, etc.

On another level, there is also compartmentalization
of beliefs that rest on different foundations. For
the purpose of argument, failure to have a correct
belief in one area does not mean the Church is wrong
in other areas.

This is all also complicated by three major paradigms
in church order, hierarchy and the way in which dogma
is developed that exist among the Orthodox, Roman
Catholic an Protestant traditions.

It is gross oversimplification to say that if, for
example, Roman Catholics were wrong in describing the
Eucharist in Aristotelean terms in the Middle Ages
that does not mean that they are wrong about 1)
something particulr occurring in the Eucharist which
they inadequately described in Aristotelean language,
or 2) that they are wrong about any other point of
dogma or scriptural interpretation. I just don't see
how one bad fruit necessarily rots the whole tree.

> This is what
> is behind the spiritual crises amongst Catholics
> because of the sex
> scandal in the Church.

Sure, but this is a different sort of thing and a
logical fallacty to boot. Just because the RC church
had problems with
> >
> > > While we
> > > may disagree about how to interpret Genesis 1,
> it is
> > > undeniable that the
> > > Bible claims a divine origin.
> >
> > Why the term origin rather than inspiration?
> Because of the problem that inspiration means many
> things and the
> exegetical problem of what theopneustos means.

It seems that one does have that problem (within
limits of reason) regardless of what one calls it.
What am I missing in this argument?

> Origin contains all the
> possibilities without the false impressions that the
> word inspiration
> might invoke.

Hmmm... I do not know if this solves the problem
other than by defining it away. Can you provide some
context of a denomination or theologian that uses this
phraseology and tries to flesh out how one
distinguishes between what is of divine origin rather
than divine inspiration and how I would know the
difference when I see it?

> >
> > > If it does not have a
> > > divine origin, then
> > > it is a lie and it is morally reprehensible to
> > > follow it. As such,
> > > becoming a "liberal" as defined above really
> isn't
> > > an option. Thus, when
> > > discussing this with YECs or ex-YECs, an
> unequivocal
> > > support of Scripture
> > > being God's Word is essential.
> >
> > I thought Jesus, according to John, was God's
> Word.
> > Am I wrong in thinking that? And the canon is a
> > divinely inspired witness to that Word, not the
> Word
> > itself.
> Again, if the written Word (or the Church) is
> discredited then what
> either or both say concerning the Living Word is
> also suspect. This is
> the nub of the spiritual crisis. Re-read my
> original post and see the
> doubts concerning the Living Word when doubts are
> sewn concerning the
> Written Word.

Yeah, this is a tough thing, I think. I think that
perhaps the written word sometimes is given more
emphasis than, to use your phrase, the Living Word and
this can lead to problems that are only problems
because of someone's framework re what christianity
is. Certainly two of the major paradigms -- EO and RC
-- as well as an Anabaptist perspective would not have
the same problem as someone from particular protestant

> >
> > > Otherwise, we are
> > > spreading atheism.
> >
> > Is bibliolatry better than atheism? The Bible,
> > however divinely inspired, is not the Father, Son,
> or
> > Holy Ghost.
> I sure hope you don't use this in practice. The
> crisis is legitimate and
> the people involved only want to follow the truth.

No, I don't.

> Heaping false
> accusations on top of this will only make matters
> worse. Either, the
> person will be further disenfranchised with
> Christians or (more likely)
> their doubts will be made even more pronounced.

My point, somewhat hyperbolic admittedly, was that the
extreme form that you are describing sure sounds like
it might border on bibliolatry where the written word
apparently takes precendent over the living word. I
think that the real center of christian faith -- Jesus
of Nazareth -- be emphasized. Scripture speaks of
that Jesus. Just because it may not speak of
cosmology or biology most certainly does not mean it
does not speak of Him accurately.
> >
> > I think I have said before, the Orthodox, who
> venerate
> > the canon, would think that the emphasis on the
> Bible
> > as "divine" per se is out of place (if not
> heretical)
> > in several respects, not least of which it is
> Jesus of
> > Nazareth, the living, risen Christ, who is the
> > informing aspect of our faith. The canon is a
> Church
> > selected (albeit divinely inspired) witness to the
> > risen and living Christ, but it is not substitute
> for
> > Him nor for the Church which witnesses to Him and
> is
> > His mystical body.
> If you are a jury, and a witness is caught in a lie
> will you believe him
> even when he tells the truth? Will you trust the
> witness' friend when he
> testifies?

This is an inapt analogy. A lie requires knowledge of
the falsity. If someone believes in a 6 day creation
in 16th century because no better evidence is
available, it is hardly a lie about how creation
occurred and it is hardly dispositive of what the
writer of Genesis 1-3 meant. I won't belabor the
point further. I can understand how someone might
take this approach if they are not thinking about what
is "logical".

> No, everything collapses. The Orthodox
> theory of authority
> does not extract itself from this morass. If
> Scripture goes down, so does
> the Church.

Actually, it doesn't in that case since there is a the
witness of unbroken apostolic succession. Not to pass
judgment on the veracity of that statement, it is an
important part of the Orthodox community and one of
many reasons they are "skeptical" of the papacy which
they believe has a broken chain, not to mention of
protestants. The Church and the liturgy have a life
of their own in the Orthodox tradition (not saying
they don't in other traditions). One must remember
that christians existed quite well in the Church
before there was ever one jot, tittle, or iota of the
New Testament was written down. In that sense, the
Church gave birth to the NT, not vice versa.
> >
> > I am sympathetic to the idea that they would think
> one
> > has it backwards when one looks first to the canon
> > rather than to Christ and His church for the basis
> of
> > one's faith. While there is an interrelated,
> > iterative process involving Christ, church and
> > scripture (as well as other things, no doubt) in
> > faith, one has to consider what is most important.
> There is also an iterative process away from first
> Scripture, then the
> Church, and finally Christ. This is an order of
> thinking, not order of
> priority.

In my experience it is a rejection of scripture as the
basis for Jesus. This, IMHO, puts the cart well
before the horse.

> >
> > One should note on a lot of theological issues
> > Orthodoxy is by and large pretty conservative.
> They
> > are hardly liberals in any pejorative sense Glenn,
> et
> > al. may want to use in either interpretation of
> > scripture or veneration of scripture or morality
> or
> > church order, etc., etc., etc. As far as I am
> aware,
> > source criticism (or any other potential bogeyman
> > about debasing scripture) has not made much of an
> > impact in Orthodox theology. Yet, they have a
> > radically different view of the context of the
> canon.
> Just one note in passing. While I defined what I
> meant by liberal I did
> not identify who was or was not one. With respect to
> either
=== message truncated ===

Sorry, I can't reply further, my e-mail system cuts it

Thanks for your insightful comments.

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Received on Fri Apr 16 20:19:05 2004

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