RE: Seely's Views 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Sat Sep 04 2004 - 10:22:17 EDT

Sorry about that mistaken transmission of this unanswered. I can't get
my outlook to split the html line on the messages which come in in html.
I get tired of having to preface every paragraph with GRM: and so I try
to forward a copy to myself to turn it into plain text which then puts
the > on the start of each line.

Don wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Don Winterstein []
> Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 3:28 AM

> What if God's objective with Gen. 1-11 was not to communicate
> a story at all but simply to insert himself into the lives
> and culture of certain ancient Hebrews? God might then have
> regarded it as appropriate or even necessary to interfere as
> little as possible with their preexisting (inaccurate or just
> plain wrong) beliefs, modifying them only enough to be able
> to satisfy his objective. In that case his word to those
> ancient Hebrews would not have been intended to provide
> information valid for all time, but it still would have been
> the word of God to those people.

Then I go back to the very noisy communication channel. The fact that
so many ancients, as well as moderns, think it was meant to be taken as
truth shows that the communication channel is extremely noisy. If it is
that noisy on this part of the communication channel, why is is
noiseless elsewhere?
When we start talking about God giving revelatory information which
isn't "intended to provide information valid for all time" I get kind of
nervous. Why? Well Jesus came and according to Paul Seely taught a
different religion from that of the Jews.

        "Now, it seems to us that what is manifested here is the
built-in obsolescence of the Mosaic law (cf. Hebrews 8:13). Its
legalities were appropriate to the age in which and for which they were
given (cf. Galatians 3:23-25; Matthew 19:8) but, with the progress of
revelation and in particular with the coming of the King and inbreaking
kingdom, the Lord of the Sabbath redefines the law in terms of God's
ultimacies rather than His temporalities." Paul Seely, Inerrant Wisdom,
(Portland: Evangelical Reform, 1989), p. 77

Now, why would we expect that this game should suddenly stop at Jesus
and that Jesus is the revelation for all time? Perchance we should have
gone with Mohammed during Islam's ascendancy? Don't anyone give me a
bunch of milarky about Islam having a contradictory theology with that
of Christianity. Christianity clearly had a different theology than
Judaism and Paul thinks that is ok. Maybe Jesus was merely a stepping
stone. Maybe God didn't communicate the holw truth. Paul writes:

        "It is then out of respect for the heart condition of those to
whom He spoke that God sometimes drew back from telling the absolute
truth. Rather than forcing upon men with culturally weakened moral or
intellectual capacities the unbearable light of pure truth. He
condescended to adjust His revelatory lesson to their mistaken views. He
gave them milk until they were ready for solid food (John 16:12; I
Corinthians 3:1,2; Galatians 3:23-4:7) and sometimes that milk was a
watered down compromise with the pure truth (Matthew 17:25-27; 19:8;
Acts 16:3)." Paul Seely, Inerrant Wisdom, (Portland: Evangelical Reform,
1989), p. 200

So maybe in a fit of accomodational feelings, God accomodated the idea
that Jesus was God's son. And this accomodation was done because of the
numerous mystic religions around in the 1st century church? Why is that
untrue? (I find that few on your side actually try to answer these
questions). Maybe God came in later and tried to fix the
misunderstanding and inspired Mohammed to write:

"4.171": O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your
religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth;
the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word
which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore
in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for
you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have
a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His,
and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.

And then of course, we must not forget that Islam wouldn't stop the game
either so along comes Joseph Smith who fixes that really inconvenient
rule that we can't become gods someday.

And in the last century, Sun Myung Moon comes along to complete Jesus'
failed mission.

I have left out the accomodations God made to Zoroaster and other great
religious leaders, like the Baha'ullah.

God is still fixing all the accomodationalist problems he created when
he started this accomodationalist game he plays with humanity. The
problem I have with this longstanding game is that I can't figure out
what is and isn't accomodation. Y'all are on a vast trackless desert
of shifting epistemological sand. What is true today, theologically
isn't true tomorrow.

Until someone on that side of this debate actually answers in a cogent
manner the following questions, I will think y'all a wee bit mad.

1. Why does accommodation only apply to JudeoChristianity?
2. Why do we know that accomodational revelations have stopped?
3. How do I tell what is and isn't accommodation other than my personal
feelings of what is and isn't?
4. Where in the Scripture (indeed any scripture from any religion) does
it say God accommodates? (Paul's examples in his book are not
satisfactory for me--the case of divorce)
5. What is truth and is it possible to attain it under this shifting
sand epistemology?

> We today could still benefit spiritually from such ad hoc
> words because we could imagine ourselves in the place of
> those ancient Hebrews and hear God speaking to us; or we
> could at least benefit from seeing how God has acted in other
> historical times in such a way as to lead eventually to a
> fuller revelation of himself.
> A great many portions of the Bible in fact must be read in
> something like that way if they are to be of spiritual
> benefit for people today.
> Examples: Ezekiel 28, a prophecy against Tyre; Ezekiel 29, a
> prophecy against Egypt. (Interestingly, neither of these
> prophecies seems to have benefited from historical
> fulfillment! If anyone knows otherwise, I'd be interested.)

My problem with the approach above is that you want to read it some way
to ensure that it is true. You don't seem to give consideration to the
fact that it might be false--totally false, unfullfilled. To me, such a
failed prophecy should be taken as evidence that it isn't divinely
inspired. An atheist would say that that is a good reason not to
believe the Bible but strangely Christians don't think that is an
appropriate response. There are possiblities--it will happen in the
future (maybe when global warming shuts down the rainfall that feeds the
Nile--see how long Egypt lasts then). Maybe it is a later-but
pre-christian addition). But one possibility surely is that it simply
might be false.

What I find so odd on your side of this equation is that you assume that
Christianity is a self-contained system which doesn't have to interact
with the possibliity that another religion might be true. And when one
so easily picks and chooses things to be true and false in Scripture
y'all never explain how you know it is true, except by existentializing
it. We have been that road. But I also don't think y'all think through
the implications of the noisy communications channel.

> The point: God's objective may not have been what you think
> it was. If so, you might be trying to get the wrong kinds of
> information from those narratives. In other words, the
> problem would not be God's failure but rather inappropriate
> human expectations.

And why exactly should I then automatically assume that God's intention
was as you describe it? Just because I might be wrong doesn't
automaticaly make you correct. The whole thing might be farce. This is
another question I would like to see addressed and actually answered.
Received on Sat Sep 4 10:39:08 2004

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