Re: [asa] Does ASA believe in Adam and Eve?

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Date: Fri Mar 30 2007 - 16:32:57 EDT

George was arguing that the author of II Peter believed the flood to be universal. Just because the final conflagration and the flood appear in the same context does not mean that all the charactersitics of one must apply to the other. George knows that, and so he was addressing it by providing a very nice argument based on the original reasoning of the author to show why the author must have understood ONE specific charactersitic of the final conflagration to have also applied to the flood.
Where I disagreed with George is on what that ONE characteristic is. George thinks it is God's power, His ability to effect a universal destruction. George thinks the author's concern in this passage is to convince his audience that God is perfectly capable of bringing about his promised judgement on the earth, whenever the time is right. However, I don't think the 1st century Christians were questioning God's power. I think they were more likely questioning God's active involvement in the world, His readiness to interrupt the normal flow of life in dramatic ways. The scoffers were saying "ever since the beginning of the world, things have gone on just as they always have..." Perhaps the scoffers thought that was because God did not exist. Perhaps they thought God was not powerful. Perhaps they thought he just didn't care to interrupt life in this world. Whatever the scoffers thought, I doubt that the Christians were most concerned about God's power. I think they we
 re more likely worried about God paying attention to us here on this earth. They were doubting that God would bother to step in, that for whatever reason He just wasn't going to do it.
Whether or not George is correct in identifying God's adequacy as the author's main focus, I agree that George's subsequent logic is correct. To prove that God had adequate power to effect a universal destruction, the author of II Peter could argue either from-the-greater-to-the-lesser or from-an-equal-to-an-equal. He could not argue from-the-lesser-to-the-greater, because that would be non-sequiteur in proving God's adequacy. If the flood were merely local and non-universal, then it would not serve to prove that God could bring about an event that was global and universal. So I was not questioning George's impeccable reasoning!
But I was arguing that the author had a different focus than what George understood. I did not positively state what I believe in my prior post, I only made a negative argument against George's position. So perhaps if I state my position positively that would help clarify things quite a bit. But first, here was the negative argument that I made. I showed that the author already knew that the flood was the lesser in terms of the power required of God to effect it. The eschaton will include the melting of the elements, the actual destruction of the earth itself, not just the deaths of the people who walk on the earth, and it will include also the melting of the heavens, too. That requires significantly greater power than any flood, no matter how universal the flood may have been. The flood was merely the washing off of the surface of the earth, not the earth's substance actually being destroyed. This is not mere speculation on my part: the overflowing language that the
  author reserves to describe the final conflagration show that he sees it as a much greater event than the flood. Hence, the flood spectacularly fails to demonstrate God's power and ability to burn up the whole world. So I don't think the author was really focused on proving God's power to effect a universal judgement.
Now, here is my position stated positively, as an alternative to George's position. I think the author was trying to prove that God does, despite appearance, occaisionally step into the world in dramatic ways. It's not a question of whether God _can_; it is a question of whether He _does_. As such, the author was not restricted to arguing from-the-greater-to-the-lesser nor even from-an-equal-to-an-equal. He could have used examples that had much less significance than the final eschaton will eventually have, as long as the examples show that God does occaisionally step into the world to upset the normal flow of life in significant ways. A flood that wipes out the entire Akkadian civilization would be a perfectly good example of that. It need not be universal to make the author's point.
I think that if we could talk to Pete today, and say, "did you know that the Flood was only local? Do you want to change your argument against the scoffers?" I think he'd say, "no, why would I do that? The Flood was still a perfect example of how people think the world will continue along from day-to-day without upset, and then God steps in with judgement and messes up their plans. That answered the scoffers so that my audience would be encouraged to not stop waiting on God." I don't see that his perception of the Flood being universal or non-universal would have any affect on what he wrote in that context.
I hope I did a better job of explaining the argument this time!
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 7:41 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] Does ASA believe in Adam and Eve?

You said to George, "I believe the author's clear distinction between them undermines your argument", in which you are referring to the subsidiary point that the scope of both disasters was equivalent. But then it seems to me that you went ahead and proved his essential point, which was that the scope of the "last days judgment" in 2Pet 3:7 is intended to be universal in scope.
You said,
"3. Then he [Peter] asserts that the present heavens and "earth" (land again, not kosmos) are being reserved for a complete meltdown of the elements. That is not the same kind of calamity that happened in Noah's day, it is much greater! The future calamity will destroy the actual earth -- the very ground beneath us, and not just the people (kosmos) who walk on it."
I agree with you, this does appear to be included in the intent of Peter's statement. I don't see how this contradicts George's statement:
"The author counters by pointing to the flood in order to show that "the heavens and earth" - the whole world - can be destroyed. I do not see how that language about the coming destruction can reasonably be understood as less than universal."
The only real difference in your positions on this point seems to be in whether the elements are "literally" melted, or whether some other literal fulfillment of a universal judgment, which George has expressed ambivalence about.
George had written previously: "I agree that "The Bible simply isn't teaching us exactly what will happen at the final judgment, whether geographically or otherwise." I am not insisting on the details of fire, melting of "the elements" (or of what those stoicheia are - there are at least 4 possibilities). I am simply pointing out the most basic point that the writer is making - that the promised end is an end for the whole present order of creation."
For what it's worth,
Jon Tandy
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Received on Fri Mar 30 16:34:21 2007

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