Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Fri Mar 14 2008 - 20:55:45 EDT

Message1st, you are the one who has nothing on which to base your claim, as you virtually admit when you have to fall back on "who is to say?" "Who is to say" that the Akkadians didn't know about quantum mechanics or play baseball?

2d, the doctrine of the Trinity is not about "three gods." That in itself rules out claims for the Akkadians, Kelts &c.

3d, we have to admit the logical possibility that the logos asarkos, the unfleshed Word, was revealed to some people before the Incarnation. But there are at best, as I said earlier, only hints of this in the OT, among the people to whom God had most clearly revealed himself before Jesus. & there is even less in the OT about any threefold character of God. The idea that the Trinity was revealed to some other people (even those who were supposedly "Hebrews in waiting") but not to the people of Israel contradicts statements in the OT that God has revealed Godself pre-eminently to Israel.

4th, Christian understanding of the Trinity began with the economic Trinity - i.e., God's action as Father, Son and Spirit in relation to the world. Belief in the immanent Trinity - i.e., the threefold character of God within the divine life - developed from that. We know only as much about that inner life of God as God reveals to us, and that revelation is found in the economic Trinity. (N.B., I am not saying that there are two different Trinities.) The notion that the ancient Akkadians knew about the Trinity without knowing about Jesus runs counter to what we in fact know about the way God has revealed Godself.

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dick Fischer
  To: ASA
  Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 7:48 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

  The Akkadians (who were Hebrews in waiting) most assuredly believed in the divinity of their three gods. The Sumerians readily adopted Enlil, and Ea was accepted as Enki - "lord of the earth." If Christ is coeternal with God the father, who is to say that this Ea wasn't known to God's people before the incarnation? Christ as God did not come into existence at Bethlehem, only the human Jesus did. You can't possibly know whether or not the Son wasn't known. And if He was, was it this Akkadian god? I'm not saying it is. I'm only saying it is entirely possible. To say the "concept of the Trinity has nothing to do with ." may be your conviction, but you have nothing to base it on.

   

  Dick Fischer. author, lecturer

  Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham

  www.historicalgenesis.com

   

  -----Original Message-----
  From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of George Murphy
  Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 5:47 PM
  To: Dick Fischer; ASA
  Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

   

  A comment on just one point. The Christian concept of the Trinity has nothing to do with "the three gods of the Akkadians" (a myth beloved by Jehovah's Witnesses) - or three deities of the Hindus, Kelts or anybody else. Belief in the Trinity (perhaps hinted at by the personalization of Wisdom, Word, Shekinah, Memra &c in the OT & the targums) depends on belief about who Jesus of Nazareth is in relationship with the God of Israel & their mutual Spirit. Belief in the divinity of Christ is a necessary condition for the Christian dogma of the Trinity & without him that dogma evaporates.

   

  Shalom
  George
  http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Dick Fischer

    To: ASA

    Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 5:24 PM

    Subject: RE: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

     

    Max Muller in his Introduction to the Science of Religion reasoned as follows:

    "Do you still wonder at polytheism or at mythology? Why, they are inevitable. They are, if you like, a parler enfantin [children's language] of religion. But the world has its childhood, and when it was a child it spoke as a child, it understood as a child, it thought as a child . . . The fault rests with us, if we insist on taking the language of children for the language of men . . . The language of antiquity is the language of childhood."

     

    Speaking as one who has tried to make sense of it all, I can tell you the task is not easy. Our faith is based upon an evolving religion. Living in the here and now we believe in things eternal that are current in contemporary thought. We have no choice, we can't go back or forward in time to have belief in a previous form of our religion or hold to whatever may be in vogue thousands of years hence.

     

    The New Testament has roots in the Old Testament which in turn has roots to the Babylonian period which has roots in the Akkadian era which was influenced by the Sumerians. Our Trinity today has roots to the God of the Old Testament who became obscured by Babylonian gods (which evolved under Sumerian influence) from the three gods of the Akkadians. In effect we have come almost full circle.

     

    Was the God we worship today the same god in heaven the Akkadians called "Ilu," or has only the name been preserved in the Hebrew "El"? Was Ea, god of wisdom and creator of mankind, the same as the one we call "Christ," or merely coincidentally linked to the Hebrew "Yah"? Is the Holy Spirit the very same Enlil, god of the air, breath, or spirit? The Akkadians worshipped an overarching supreme being who manifested himself in things they could see. They gave names to these natural phenomena reflecting their god's action in nature. These names became affixed to the phenomena and by the time the Akkadians had become Babylonians these became gods unto themselves. Polytheism was a natural progression forced by the language they were working in. Look at the various names God is called in the Old Testament and many of these have roots. For example, El Shaddai from the Assyrian, "Il Shadde," meaning "mountain god."

     

    So it is not surprising we have confusions. We can rightly root out what we can perceive to be dead wrong, such as YEC and the cults. But the continued parsing of OT Hebrew we seem to want to do on this list trying to make 21st century sense out of every word and phrase is a futile exercise in my opinion.

     

    Dick Fischer. author, lecturer

    Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham

    www.historicalgenesis.com

     

    -----Original Message-----
    From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of John Walley
    Sent: Friday, March 14, 2008 9:18 AM
    To: 'David Opderbeck'
    Cc: 'David F Siemens'; gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
    Subject: RE: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

     

    David,

     

    I agree with you that the mission of the church ought to be about reaching and alleviating the suffering of the less fortunate of the world instead of soaking up our endless blessings and debating how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, but that is a different argument.

     

    At least for the rich, educated Westerners like you and me who have the privilege of even thinking about and debating these issues, we have the responsibility of getting it right, because the mission of the church above depends on it. There is a direct correlation between what we believe here and whether some starving kid in Africa gets a meal today or not. Why? Because it takes the resources of the other rich educated Westerners that haven't come into the church yet to help us feed that kid in Africa and they aren't coming in as long as we insist they take stupid lessons in order to become a Christian.

     

    Bottom line, I feel Protestantism is flawed because there is currently no mechanism to excommunicate people like Ellen White, Herbert Armstrong and Ken Ham and we have to let them tarnish the whole church and that actually becomes counter-productive to the mission of the church. Although we have seen abuses of a centralized control structure in the church before, I am not certain that the de-centralized Protestant church is any better off without one now. Hopefully though this whole new form of science/faith apologetics is the work of the Holy Spirit and will prove to make the church relevant again and we can recapture the role of honest and reality-based intellectual thought leadership we once had in our culture, and then there will be a consensus and a mechanism to dispatch the Ken Ham's and we can get on with feeding those kids in Africa in a bigger and better way.

     

    Thanks

     

    John

     

     

     

    -----Original Message-----
    From: David Opderbeck [mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com]
    Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 11:58 PM
    To: John Walley
    Cc: David F Siemens; gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
    Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

      No, it's not relativism. It's just that the world, the church, the gospel, are all so much bigger than this one concern. There are nearly 7 billion people alive in the world right now. About 1 billion lack access to clean drinking water. About 1.6 billion have no access to electricty. About 3 billion people live on less than two dollars a day, and about 30,000 children die every day because of poverty. Think about this for a minute: by the end of this week, more children will die because of poverty than the total number of people who have ever visited the creation museum.

       

      Does that mean the creation museum is ok? Of course not. It makes it even more of a travesty to spend millions on such a thing. But you are taking a problem rich, educated Westerners like you and me have because we're so rich and so educated that we have time to worry about how Genesis relates to modern science, and you're making it into priority one when billions of starving, dying people don't give a crap about it.

       

      I want all my questions answered too, I want everyone to agree with me, and I want my faith to be simple, straightforward, and easy. I want to be able to beat the stuffing out of my unbelieving friends in apologetic arguments. I want my son to be perfectly healthy. I feel bad for myself, but it ain't gonna happen. Meanwhile, I have to pick myself up, stop blaming everyone else, and ask the Holy Spirit what his priorities are for me. No doubt some of that involves doing what I humbly can to promote good Christian scholarship and improve the life of the mind in the evangelical church -- I'd say I feel that's part of my calling so long as I get to serve in academia. But I have to fight myself not to confuse my place on the pinky toe of the Body with the whole Body, and I have to fight myself to allow the Holy Spirit to show me all the varied areas in which the Kingdom of God needs to break in.

       

      On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 11:22 PM, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:

      But again David, this is the theological relativism I mentioned earlier in my opinion. Excusing YEC and other flawed doctrine is not the answer. Why would Jesus bother to warn us about false teaching then if it didn't matter? Truth does matter and we shouldn't excuse our church leaders for missing it. You recall my analogy before about the spiritual Arlingtons and I think it still holds.

       

      And as you know we have discussed before offline, these science/faith issues are not just obscure, internal doctrinal issues like infant baptism or speaking in tongues that the world doesn't know or care about, but it is in fact the very definition of objective reality at stake here and when it plays out in the courts and in the global media at the very nexus with the world that Jesus commanded us to make disciples of, I think we have more accountability than to just love everyone. We have to make sure our faith is grounded in reality as well and I really don't think that is too much to ask. The subject of this thread highlights the need for this and the gravity of the consequences of failing at it.

       

      Plus there are other very practical drivers to getting this right as well. This science/faith arena is the very battleground by which the enemy is using to marginalize and even criminalize Christian faith in our culture. We need to repent of our spiritual pride that has led to this deception In order to prevent engendering further contempt and scorn from those we are called to reach and to keep this from leading to something much worse.

       

      Thanks

       

      John

       

        -----Original Message-----
        From: David Opderbeck [mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com]
        Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:32 PM
        To: John Walley
        Cc: David F Siemens; gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
        Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

        John, I understand some of what you're feeling right now. I think, though, we ought to be a little more nuanced in what we say of how the church has handled itself. The church is big. In every period of history since the time of Christ, the church has been faithful in somethings and not so faithful in others. From our perspective the progress can be lurching, painful, and slow -- kind of like someone giving birth. But the Holy Spirit has never left the church. Thank God that today, most Christians around the world are taught to reject racism and antisemitism, to help the poor, to combine the preaching of the gospel with acts of mercy, and so on. The things that in my wisdom I want to become "prefect" right now in the church might not be exactly the things God in His wisdom is putting at the top of the list. Our individual lives are like grass that dries up and blows away, and the Kindgdom of God is a tiny mustard seed, but the "not yet" will come....

        On Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 9:10 PM, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:

        When Jesus warned of false teachers, that logically implies that there exists true ones. Where to find them is a different issue but Jesus did say that His sheep hear His voice and if we seek the truth we would find it.

         

        I reject the claims that due to the nuances of much learning, the truth is unknowable because that is counter to the claims of Christ. Also I agree with George that obvious doctrinal error can be sufficiently filtered out easily enough by plain common sense, spiritual discernment and testable science.

         

        Granted we will all have unlearning to do on judgment day but the real tragedy is that false learning came at the expense of not learning what we should have and what God called us to. And I think that will be in large part for a lot of people due to the fact that the church absolved herself of this responsibility.

         

        John

          -----Original Message-----
          From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of David F Siemens
          Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:09 AM
          To: john_walley@yahoo.com
          Cc: gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu

          Subject: Re: [asa] Why couldn't you write your d*mn book more clearly?

          There are several conflicting magisteria, like Ellen G. White, prophetess of the Seventh Day Adventists; Herbert Armstrong who had headquarters in Pasadena, CA. There are other theological traditions that are held within the several denominations, including the now abandoned Missouri Synod anti-Copernicanism. Since serious Bible students differ on the Eucharist and Baptism (back to the time of the Reformation), where will you find this magisterium? The fact is that, when we stand before the Lord, we'll have things to unlearn, even among those of us who are certain they are right.

          Dave (ASA)

           

          On Thu, 13 Mar 2008 08:29:25 -0400 "John Walley" <john_walley@yahoo.com> writes:

            George,

             

            I agree with you wholeheartedly on this one and this same conclusion has been my key takeaway from my recent OEC-TE journey. The church needs more of an emphasis on what are reasonable and allowable interpretations of the Bible (after getting it right first of course) and that would diffuse a lot of this "private interpretation" nonsense that leads to this disaster and others.

             

            I think we need the office of the Majesterium restored to the church and that was one unfortunate casualty of the Reformation and we are suffering as a result of it. Ironically, I think the closest thing that I have found that approaches this function in the church today is this list. There may be better examples out there cloistered away in church hierarchy somewhere but not easily accessible to the general seeking public to my knowledge.

             

            Today's Protestantism is afflicted with the intellectual equivalent of moral relativism in our culture. We have intellectual or spiritual relativism where every idea is equal including YEC and it is politically incorrect and unacceptable to correct it. This denies the truth that there is an absolute right and wrong and that we should have it or be looking for it and have a way to know it when we do find it.

             

            I think it will take a removal of all the complicit pastors from their roles and it will take a new generation of leadership in the church but I am hopeful that we will see it soon as I feel that is what the Holy Spirit is trying to do.

             

            Thanks

             

            John

             

        --
        David W. Opderbeck
        Associate Professor of Law
        Seton Hall University Law School
        Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

      --
      David W. Opderbeck
      Associate Professor of Law
      Seton Hall University Law School
      Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Fri Mar 14 20:58:59 2008

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