Re: Seely's Views 2

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Sun Sep 05 2004 - 04:18:59 EDT

Glenn, you've raised all kinds of interesting questions. I'll address some; but I'll be away for a few days immediately afterwards and so probably won't be able to respond to your responses in time to be relevant. But I'd still welcome responses for later perusal.

I have to side with George on your S/N arguments, partly because I don't see the noise in the system. You're giving me the impression that you think God in his dealings with man is primarily some kind of information generator, and his goal is to transmit information. In contrast, I think God is a lover, and his primary goal is to successfully initiate and complete intimate relations with his creation, most especially humans. For a lover, transmitting information is certainly important, but it's way secondary to several other procedures. For a lover the primary goal sine qua non is to establish himself in the eyes of his beloved as a person worthy of love. How he does that depends at least as much on the beloved as on the lover. When God had success in establishing himself as worthy in the eyes of his chosen people, laying a bunch of info on them that they really weren't interested in would not have gained him anything. That would have been as effective as coding a bunch of numerical tricks into the first sentence of Genesis. : - )

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.

Of course lots of people think it was meant to be taken as truth; it was truth, for the people of the time: They attached themselves to God, which is what God wanted. But there's no noise involved that I can see.

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.

Do you think Ezekiel's prophecies of chapters 28 & 29 were "intended to provide information valid for all time" ? The OT is full of messages such as this that were intended for specific individuals or groups at specific times. We get enlightened by such messages only if we get familiar with the history and the circumstances, so they're "valid" for us only if we put in the necessary effort. Possibly Gen. 1-11 is valid also only in that sense, in its context.

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?

I for one am confident that revelation did not stop with Jesus. Jesus was God in the flesh, but he came at a particular point in history and his revelation was limited by being confined as it was to that narrow slice of time. The world has changed drastically since then, so there is further need for revelation to teach how God fits us in our new world. If you think Mohammed is the one, then check him out. I did, and I discarded him--although I still think that he may have been a sop God threw to the Arabs, in view of the fact that Arabs were unlikely ever to bring themselves to worship a Jew.

God is still fixing all the accommodationalist problems he created when
he started this accommodationalist 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 accommodation.

Yes, a lover accommodates himself to his beloved. The beloved doesn't need to figure out just how her lover has accommodated himself to her as long as she continues to have him as her lover. And if she loses him, the question is moot. Keep things in perspective: It's not the information that's important but the relationship. The info is important only to the degree that it serves the relationship.

1. Why does accommodation only apply to JudeoChristianity?

Who says?

2. Why do we know that accommodational revelations have stopped?

They haven't.

3. How do I tell what is and isn't accommodation other than my personal
feelings of what is and isn't?

Keep things in perspective: It's not the information that's important but the relationship. If what God has given someone else is not of value to you, let it go; concentrate instead on what God has given that is of value to you.

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)

Well, Paul obviously doesn't mean exactly the same thing with the word as I do; but to me it's obvious that God accommodates himself to people, as a lover accommodates himself to his beloved. The fact that revelation has changed dramatically down through the centuries should be evidence enough. (Or do you think God sorely misses those "sweet savours" from the animal sacrifices? : - ) )

5. What is truth and is it possible to attain it under this shifting
sand epistemology?

Truth is a salutary relationship with God, and yes, it is possible to have it. Truth is not a pile of facts. Were talking religion here, not science.

 My problem with the approach above is that you want to read it [Ezekiel 28, 29] 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.

Now here you're putting words in my mouth. I've often questioned whether Ezekiel belonged in the canon; but some of his images are priceless, so I'll keep him for his images. Same goes for Revelation. But some of the actual prophecies are...flaky?

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.

Now here you're putting words in my mouth (again). However, in my limited explorations I've yet to find another system that comes close to bringing me to God. We're allowed to test; I've tested, and they've failed. Is that because of my preconceptions? Possibly. Hard to tell. In any case, for me they've failed.

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.

I described one possibility--the one I actually favor, of course. And I never expect anyone to automatically assume anything. However, my (very solid, spiritually speaking) experience tells me the whole thing is not farce. Experience is the best answer you can get. Of course, one must always question whether one's sensory apparatus was in proper working order, and if so, how about one's interpretative apparatus? Well, I've gone out of my way to question myself on this over and over and in every which way and always concluded everything was working.

Don

 
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Glenn Morton<mailto:glennmorton@entouch.net>
  To: asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
  Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 7:22 AM
  Subject: RE: Seely's Views 2

  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 [mailto:dfwinterstein@msn.com]
> 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 Sun Sep 5 04:39:44 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Sep 05 2004 - 04:39:44 EDT