RE: Seely's Views 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Tue Aug 31 2004 - 06:44:54 EDT


-----Original Message-----
From: Don Winterstein []
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 4:46 AM
To:; Glenn Morton
Subject: Re: Seely's Views 2

PHS: You seem to be getting closer to understanding.
GRM: Oh good, I have been working towards that for decades! :-)
It's time for me to pile on and join the others who've been telling
Glenn where he's wrong. :-)
GRM; Late to the game :-)
Glenn, coming as you do from a YEC background, you seem to have
swallowed the "Wonderful One-Hoss Shay" view of the Bible common to some
YECs, namely, that every part of the Bible is perfectly created and is
as good as every other part. The whole will last intact until the
Second Coming, at which time it will be superseded by God himself in
person. If any part of it can be shown to be imperfect, it's authority
fails and the whole thing becomes completely worthless. That's why it's
important for those who think of the Bible in this way to defend their
view of its perfection to the death. Their faith depends on having a
perfect book.
In reality, as I'm sure you know, the Bible is a collection of ancient
writings from many different authors from many different periods. Those
who collected the writings for the canon may have been pious,
intelligent and knowledgeable, but they were nevertheless human. We
have no assurance that they included all the appropriate writings or
that they did not include some that don't really belong. Furthermore,
while I accept the divine inspiration of the entire Bible, I'm 100%
convinced that the level of divine inspiration varies considerably from
one writing to the next, where by "level of divine inspiration" I mean
the degree to which the writing reveals universal truths of God. I
suspect every Christian who's read the Bible would agree.
Given such facts and convictions, it would not be at all unreasonable
for an intelligent, educated person in our day simply to declare that
this or that writing in the collection was included in error and was
never truly divinely inspired. Martin Luther on occasion was inclined
to reject both James and Revelation; and Revelation had a particularly
difficult time making the original cut. A contemporary scientist who
felt Genesis 1-11 requires a literal interpretation could simply
eliminate those chapters from his personal canon. To do so, of course,
would have consequences: He would thereby sever an important part of his
connection to Christian tradition and to other Christians. But there
would be no reasonable grounds for denying such person a right to be
called Christian.
Well, if we're free to downgrade or throw out writings we don't like,
where would be the basis for faith? The true basis for faith is not the
book but the Person. The encounter with the Person is at the heart of
faith. Such encounter rarely if ever gives detailed factual information
about the Person, but it often stimulates a vigorous search for
corroborating witness in the world: That is, the first time one has an
intense experience of God, one urgently needs to interpret such
experience, and the quickest way to do that is to find others who have
had similar experience. The Church has such others, and the Bible
records details of many such experiences. As a result, the person who
has had the encounter finds support in other Christians and in the
Bible. The Bible becomes valued because it supports and enhances the
incipient faith.
GRM: The problem with existentializing the faith is that the only way
we know anything about Jehovah or Jesus is through the book. If the
book is wrong or worse (partially untrustworthy) then we know nothing.
It has nothing to do with worshipping a book but everything to do with
epistemology. If all we have to have is a relationship which we feel
subjectively, then the problem with this is obvious. Indeed, humans
have the ability to fool themselves into thinking they have
relationships with dead people with whome we would say thy can't
possibly have relationships with.
"As late as the 1960s Lenin was speaking directly to the Faithful. When
Stalin fell from favour with the Party, delegates of the 22nd Party
Congress of 1961 heard this testimony from Comrade Dora Lazurkina: 'I
always carry Ilich in my heart, comrades, and have survived the most
difficult moments only because Ilich was in my heart when I took counsel
with him [Applause.] Yesterday I took counsel with Ilich and he stood
before me as though alive and said; "It is unpleasant for me to be
beside Stalin, who brought such misfortune to the Party'.' [Stormy
prolonged applause.' Even when translated to immortal glory, it would
seem Lenin enjoyed stabbing his colleagues in the back. We can only
imagine what Marx and Engels would have made of such utterances; their
thoughts, presumably, would be comparable with those of Jesus if He
could witness High Mass at St. Peter's." A. N. Wilson, God's
Funeral,(New York: Ballantine Books, 1999), p. 97

GRM:He/she had a relationship but didn't have truth.
For most Christians the personal encounter comes through the preaching
of the Gospel in one form or another. That encounter is at the heart of
faith. Genesis 1-11 likely has little or nothing to do with the faith
in the initial stages, but when the person expands his knowledge of
Christianity and confronts those parts of the Bible, he does not lose
his faith if he cannot take them literally, but rather he interprets
them in a way that is consistent both with his personal encounter and
with his outside knowledge of the world. If parts of the Bible that he
finds strange threaten to destroy his faith, the correct response for
him is to take refuge in and strengthen the personal encounter and then
revisit and reinterpret those strange parts, ideally with input from
more mature Christians.
To require God to jump through hoops of our design is the way of
doubting Thomas: "Unless God does this or that in the way I prescribe,
I'm never going to believe." Jesus was gentle with Thomas, but Thomas'
way was inferior to the way of those who believe on the basis of the
personal encounter.
GRM: The only way we can be sure we are not a part of a long running
joke, a longer version of the Ilich Lenin in my heart routine, is via
some form of objective verification. Existential feelings simply don't
prove much, unless one is willing to believe that Dora Lazurkina did
have a relationship with Vladimir Lenin.
Received on Tue Aug 31 07:03:01 2004

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