Re: Coercion

From: Terry M. Gray <grayt@lamar.colostate.edu>
Date: Thu Apr 22 2004 - 12:40:09 EDT

Howard,

As you might imagine, I have very little to say in response. We have
very little in common methodologically. My insistence on an
authoritative text and your rejection of an authoritative text puts
us at a serious impasse on the particular questions at hand (God's
interaction with the world and theodicy).

Your suggestion that some of us have shirked our responsibility to
think or that we have mindless received what has gone before by
adopting a "traditional" system is premature. That may have been your
experience. But some of us have responsibly thought through the
options and after significant reflection have concluded that the
"traditional" and "received" system is the truth. Some of us have
even considered your present position and found it lacking. Please
don't be quick to conclude that your conclusions are the more mature.
There may come a day when you will come back. (I pray that God will
so "persuade" you ;-) Indeed, there are many unthinking, uncritical,
anti-intellectual evangelicals. But there are also many who have
thought long and hard about these things--including some of us who
end up in a very different place than you.

You do make liberalism sound attractive. Indeed, the word in its own
right is a wonderful word. And there is much that is "liberal" even
in "conservative", orthodox Christianity. God's grace to sinners
through the death of His Son is a "liberal", counter-cultural idea.
But the New Testament also calls us "to stand firm on that faith that
was once delivered to the saints" or to "pass on what I also
received". We are also warned of the idol factory of the human heart
that in our foolishness we exchange the glory of the immortal God for
images made to look like mortal man... We do this claiming to be
wise (perhaps a synonym for taking "personal responsibility for
exploring, evaluating possibilities, and making tentative choices in
the face of difficult questions). The god of theological speculation
untethered from scripture is a god made after our own image--in
principle not much different from the one who cuts down a tree, makes
his god out half of the wood and cooks his dinner with the other half.

Francis Sheaffer wrote a book entitled *He Is There and He Is Not
Silent*. These title captures the key issue in my mind. If God is not
silent and has revealed Himself then we should (yes, a moral
imperative here) believe what He has said about Himself. I am
convinced that He has and that He has done so in His mighty acts, in
scripture, in dwelling among us in Christ, and by His Spirit. While
there are human elements to all these things, i.e. the human witness,
experience, and writing, there is also a divine element--God has
spoken and He has spoken authoritatively. I reject your
characterization of these things has primarily humanly crafted
responses to God. These things come from God Himself and are
authoritative communications to us about Himself. This is also why I
reject the characterization of my view of scripture as being
bibliolatry. If the book gives us the words of God, then to take it
with the utmost of seriousness is highly warranted. The image of God
standing before us (whatever that looks like) speaking to us is not
far from what should come to mind here.

I am stressing here the ontological character of Biblical revelation.
All the tough questions of canon and interpretation remain--that's
where the debate can and should occur. And, yes, there's much that is
human introduced at this point. But, it's not a epistemological
quagmire, unless language is relative and nigh meaningless.

I do commend you for "owning" your theology (even if I think you're
mistaken). Merely repeating our parents' or church fathers' views
seems to me as well to be a shallow faith. Whether it's better than a
faith built on falsehoods...well, I guess I can leave that to God. (I
know you'll all think that it's good of me to do that!). It seems to
me that both sincerity and truth are required.

TG

-- 
_________________
Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
grayt@lamar.colostate.edu  http://www.chm.colostate.edu/~grayt/
phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
Received on Thu Apr 22 12:40:22 2004

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