RE: Seely's Views

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Tue Aug 17 2004 - 22:04:47 EDT

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 8:28 PM
Paul Seeley wrote:

> I fear that writing anything less than a book will be less
> than convincing especially to those who would like to think
> that if we just hold on to a literal interpretation of the
> Bible, we will not have the problem. So, I write with the
> caveat that this is only a preliminary statement, and that I
> expect to learn something from the criticism offered.

We will try to keep that in mind. BTW, thanks for the stuff you sent me.

> 7. On scientific issues, I cannot find any revelation which
> tells me God has revealed such matters; and I can often see
> from the science of the times that they match the science of
> the times; and this carries through from Genesis to
> Revelation. The consistent finding of ancient science in the
> Bible tells me this area of knowledge is accommodation, not
> revelation.

Can you cite examples of this?

> 8. On historical issues, the Bible writers of history never
> claim that they got their information from revelation, never
> say, as do the prophets, "the word of the Lord came to me" or
> the like. They almost always cite human sources as either
> their sources or the sources they would have you use to add
> to or check their work. Accordingly, the historical value of
> any passage is contingent on the sources which can be
> perceived as having been used. In order to talk about
> accommodation, there has to be something culturally
> pre-ingrained before the prophet gets there. In the case of
> history, about the only place I see such a circumstance is in
> the stories of Gen 1-11, which match closely earlier
> Babylonian stories and motifs.

I don't think anyone, even the YECs think that last sentence is
important. Clearly, if Moses was the author, he got the story of
creation from earlier sources, so the match doesn't make much difference
to the truth or falsity of the account. What does make a difference is
if the account is totally unconcordable, then by any rules we would use
in history today, it is false. If I say that George Washington defeated
the Nazi's, it would be hopelessly false. It doesn't concord to
reality. It wouldn't matter if you say that GW represents the American
people in order to save the truth of the statement. That is merely
going into fits of ad hocism to save what is clearly false.

> So, about your specific questions:
> <<Maybe sin was something the ancient hebrews understood that
> other cultures of the time didn't and thus God talked about
> sin, to get across to the Hebrews other concepts, say God's love?>>
> This is not a good example because if they understood
> something "that other cultures of the time didn't" it is not
> an accommodation.

Why, isn't that precisely what an accomodation is? The Hebrews thought
Adam was created from mud so God made up a story about creation in which
Adam was made from mud--even when Adam had nothing to do with mud. The
Hebrews thought the sun appeared after the plants, when it didn't but
God accommodated the creation story to fit the false view of the
Hebrews. Seems to me that that is precisely what accommodation is.

> <<One can probably make a case that in the OT, the word
> 'heaven' means merely the sky, not the place of eternal
> bliss. Did God accomodate his theology to the beliefs of the
> mid-east culture of 2000 years ago and add the concept that
> there was a heaven, when in fact there isn't one?>>
> First off I see from Jesus' teaching on divorce that
> accommodation in the realm of faith and morals is something
> that occurred when Israel had _pre-ingrained_ cultural
> beliefs, mores, that were contrary to what God would have
> said if they had not had such prejudicial views.
> Secondly, the Bible evidences discrimination when it comes to
> surrounding cultural views, even when the Israelites wanted
> to believe such views. For example, the history of Israel
> shows a desire to add gods, especially fertility gods, to the
> worship of Jehovah; and the Israelites did this over and over
> again. But, this is never accommodated, but always rejected
> by the prophets. The same thing is true of adding a goddess
> or consort for Jehovah.
> Thirdly, you seem to be talking about borrowing rather than
> accommodation when you raise the question about the heaven of
> bliss. It makes for an interesting discussion. The Hebrews
> believed in Sheol after death, a rather dismal shadowing
> existence; and the OT reflects that view from beginning to
> end, with only glimmers of something better. The view was
> common among the Mesopotamians, and later among the Greeks.
> It appears that Sheol may be an accommodation. If so, it is
> awaiting a more accurate revelation, the heaven of bliss,
> which is found in the NT

You seem to be playing a semantic game here. God didn't correct the
Hebrew's false view of sheol or God didn't correct the false view of a
heaven of bliss among the early Christians. In both cases, he seems to
have accommodated his method to falsehood. Why would I believe ANYTHING
I read in the Bible under this schema? How can I tell the accommodation
from the non-accommodation. (or borrowing from non-borrowing?) What is
the true theology? Sheol or Heaven? What is truth under this fluid
theological hermeneutic?

You say that Jehovah never accommodated the addition of other gods.
Maybe that was itself an accommodation to the views of the conservatives
of that day. You so far, haven't answered with a cogent argument where
the accommodation stops. I can create an accommodation scenario for
anything you claim is the limit. That is what is so disturbing to me
about your view. You can claim that the accommodation stopped with the
addition of other gods, but maybe god was also accommodating to the
beliefs of those who added the gods. Whose accommodation is true? Lots
of Gods or one god? Both can be seen as an accommodation. Your view
removes the solid earth from beneath my feet.

> Now suppose the heaven of bliss concept was borrowed from
> some other people. Would that automatically make it incapable
> of being true? I don't see why it would.

And that is precisely my point. Under your view we have no basis upon
which to know whether a borrowing is true (something god didn't
accommodate to another people ) or false because God accommodated his
theology to the false views of the other people.

> As it turns out, the heaven of bliss seems to come into
> Judaism with the hell of punishment after the exile, and if
> it was borrowed, it probably came from Zoroastrianism.

Great, so now heaven and hell are not inspired things (or they were
thought up by a false prophet Zoroaster, or God told Zoroaster the truth
about heaven and hell but accommodated his view when he was speaking to
the Hebrews. Round and round we go, where we stop only the
accommodation knows. I am not a Zoroastrian so why should I believe the
theology of a religion which is so fluid as to borrow lots of things
which may or may not be true? This is why your stuff is such a great
argument for rejecting it all.

> However, the Sadducees did not accept the heaven of bliss or
> hell (they stuck with the OT view of Sheol). Given the OT
> doctrine of Sheol and the Sadducees' rejection of the new
> doctrine of a heaven of bliss, the heaven of bliss cannot be
> considered a truly pre-ingrained belief when Jesus came on
> the scene, Consequently it is a weak candidate for
> accommodation. Jesus accepted it, and he did not accept
> everything he found in the Jewish culture, so I think there
> is a good case for a Christian, that the belief is not an
> accommodation; and even if borrowed, the borrowing is irrelevant.

I simply don't see the above as logical. It is a bit of a semantic game
between borrowing and accommodation. Did god tell people to borrow
bits and bobs of other religions? Who knows?

> I hope you can see from what I have written above that concession
> (accommodation) is bounded and is not all that common even in
> the OT. It does not open the OT to becoming a game of playing
> "telephone." I did not see the Islamic/Moonie things earlier
> because I have been to busy to follow the whole thread. (I
> just pop in when I sense my name is being used in vain. ;-)

Oh, sorry. It could have been worse. :-)

> I can only say I have not seen anything in Islamic or Moonie
> teachings which would lead me to believe that the supremacy
> of Jesus Christ has been superseded, and the NT is
> fundamentally a development of the seeds which he sowed.

How can you be sure if God keeps changing his message every few

> accept his resurrection as God's ultimate statement about his
> supremacy, a statement unspoken about either Mohammed or Sun
> Moon, or whatever his name was.

I appreciate you attempting to tackle the issue. It simply seems ad hoc
to me. Paul, everytime I read your stuff, it really makes me want to
give up on the bible. You may think you have a great idea to save the
Bible, but it has precisely the opposite effect on me. Your stuff seems
to me to be a better argument for atheism than most atheists present. I
don't mean that disparagingly. It is actually a complement because you
have clearly thought the issues out. I know you remember what I was
like after I read your book. This email does much the same for me.
Received on Tue Aug 17 22:23:49 2004

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