RE: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Fri May 08 2009 - 11:37:35 EDT

I was talking to a Greek professor of religion from our campus who studies the New Testament. I realized the difference between formal or academic theology and the theology that results from faith. Surely, the data is the same, viz. Scripture, however the prior information that we analyze the data with, is very different. His approach was based on not inferring anything supernatural from the data, whereas I supposed from the outset that there is a supernatural aspect to Nature with humans being little supernatural beings, with God the Big Supernatural Creator. That is to say, humans have some aspects of the supernatural but we ourselves are not Devine. Obviously, the conclusions we arrive at is totally different. Who is right?
Moorad
________________________________
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow [wybrowc@sympatico.ca]
Sent: Friday, May 08, 2009 12:05 AM
To: asa@lists.calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God

Sorry, George. I mean nothing aggressive by "George must know", but since the phrase displeases you, I will substitute another.

I wasn't trying to use the word "public" misleadingly. Your single sentence on the subject did not make it clear what you meant by "public". I now see what you meant by the word, but I couldn't have read your mind based on the lone sentence supplied.

I'm tantalized by your remark about the abrupt ending of Mark. Mark is a Gospel I've spent a considerable amount of time studying. Are you suggesting that one or more of the other Gospel writers in some sense erred by including more than Mark includes? Or, perhaps, erred not simply by including more, but in the way that they handled the "more" that they included?

By the way, I've never looked for the "standard superhero God". I'm quite happy with a God who created everything, but in his dealings with us speaks in a still, small voice. Your difficulty is not with me; it is with Christians who claim to be every bit as personally faithful, and every bit as historically orthodox, as you, but who differ with you over the interpretation of various Biblical books and passages and over the relative importance of various strands of the Christian tradition. And many of those Christians would read the Bible as saying that God, at his pleasure, *sometimes* appears in glory and power and honour, and *sometimes* in weakness and (in the world's eyes) dishonour. They would not accept the supremacy of your hermeneutical principle.

And once again, in saying this, I am not attacking your theology or Luther's or anyone else's. Maybe it is the difference between the way a religion scholar and the way a pastor/theologian approaches things. As a religion scholar, I always find myself saying things like: "*This* particular formulation of Christian theology works well with a clockwork universe, whereas *this* formulation seems to fit better within a relativistic view"; or "*This* brand of Christianity accepts natural theology, whereas *that* brand of Christianity does not*". That's why I find the hard-line positions that ID and TE people take against one another very puzzling, as if it's just obvious what something as historically complex as "Christianity" is, and just obvious that "the other guy" has got it wrong. In your case, what I tend to object to in your language is the finality and decisiveness of it, as if it's clear that your particular form of Lutheran theology is *the* correct formulation of !
 Christian theology because it's the only one that does justice to the meaning of the Cross, the only one that correctly integrates Hebraic thought with the New Testament, the only one that does justice to what we've learned from modern science, etc.

But aside from any objections I might have to your rhetorical style, I think that a theological one-sidedness causes you to miss things. And I don't mean "miss things" primarily in the sense of "make a mistake". I mean, "miss out on something joyful and rewarding". For example, you've often spoken here about kenosis, and I've read a couple of your articles on that, but neither here nor in either of your articles did I see any reference to the writings of Simone Weil, who probably explored the notion (even if she doesn't use the word itself very much) to a greater depth than anyone else, and also wrote about it with great emotional power. I think you could use her to strengthen your case, so I'm wondering whether you simply haven't heard of her, haven't read her, missed her particular writings on the subject, or have some strong reason to omit her from your account. She was of course never an academic theologian, but was a theologian in a far more important sense -- one !
 whose speech about God appears to have been informed by an encounter with God -- which is much more than can be said about the general run of academic theologians. I prefer a saint or a prophet to a Harvard or Tubingen theologian any day. So when I say that I don't read much modern theology, keep in mind that it's theology of the academic brand that I mean. But if anyone, academically trained in theology or not, earning a living as a theologian or not, says something arresting about God, I start paying attention. I can fall asleep reading Rolf Rentdorff or Wolfhart Pannenberg, but when I read Weil's writing, I'm awakened with a jerk.

Cameron.

----- Original Message -----
From: George Murphy<mailto:GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
To: Cameron Wybrow<mailto:wybrowc@sympatico.ca> ; asa@lists.calvin.edu<mailto:asa@lists.calvin.edu>
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 11:04 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God

My even quicker responses:

1) I wasn't arguing particularly against ID when I spoke about "an adequate theology of divine action." I was writing about science-theology dialogue in terms of a theology of the cross well before ID came on the scene.

2) The hiddnness of God is "a fundamental premise of the Hebrew Bible -- as George must know very well." George has already cited Is.45:15 here & spoken about the cross-resurrection pattern in the OT so you should have said "as George clearly does know," but that wouldn't have been quite as effective rhetorically. Nevertheless, the hiddenness of God even in his revelation in the cross is more profound - not surprisingly if the OT points toward, & finds its fulfillment in, the New. It's a mistake to say that what's new about trhe cross is God's wekness & vulnerability & not his hiddenness, for it's precisely that wekness & vulnerability that hides God from the person looking for the standard superhero God. If God weren't hidden in the event of the cross in a way more profound than what Israelites had always believed then the cross wouldn't have been a scandal to the Jews (I Cor.1:23).

3) Whether or not the risen Christ would have been seen by a Roman soldier if he'd stood in front of him is not something that can be answered definitively by the accounts we have of the appearances in the Gospels & to Paul in Acts. Some people to whom Jesus appeared didn't recognize him, & we have apparently contradictory statements about what Paul's companions experienced (Acts 9:7 & 22:9). I'm strongly inclined to believe that the Roman soldier would have seen Jesus - after all, Thomas & others who doubted (Mt.28:17) did. But that isn't what I was talking about. All the accounts make it clear that the risen Christ appeared only to those he chose. He would have been seen if he'd appeared to the soldier but he didn't. It wasn't like the crucifixion, when anyone in Jerusalem who wanted to could go out and see Jesus dying. & that is the sense in which the resurrection appearances were not public - they were "private showings" to those whom Jesus chose. So your great !
 discovery of another heterodox TE falls to the ground because it depends on your misleading use of the word "public." What you're referring to is whether or not the resurrection appearances were objective. Be more careful about "taking" what I'm supposedly "implying." (& again, drop the "George must also know" gimmick.)

I should also add that while I indeed disagree with Bultmann, he had an important point which is often missed. To say that "Jesus is risen into the kerygma" is certainly not a full or even adequate statement about the resurrection, but it is essential because that's the only way the risen Christ in this life is going to encounter us in this life. He isn't going to appear to us as he did to Mary Magdalene & Peter, but comes to us when he is proclaimed (&, I would add, in the "visible words" of the sacraments). I think that's part of the significance of the abrupt ending of Mark at 16:8.

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca<mailto:wybrowc@sympatico.ca>>
To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu<mailto:asa@lists.calvin.edu>>
Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God

> Ted, George, Bernie, etc.:
>
> A few quick points:
>
> 1. I don't know of any ID proponent who denies that faith is a required
> "component of an adequate theology of divine action". First of all, ID
> claims to be able to detect only the results of divine action, not the
> divine action itself; second, no Christian ID proponent believes that the
> capacity for intelligent design exhausts the nature of God. Intelligent
> design can only examine the expression of the rational side of God. But no
> ID proponent has said that God is wholly explicable in rational terms. No
> ID proponent has said that the action of the Holy Spirit or the suffering of
> the Suffering Servant or the meaning of the Crucifixion is explicable in
> rational terms. ID leaves the field wide open for "an adequate theology of
> divine action". It's hard to see why the inference that the complexity of a
> cell requires intelligent design (even supposing it's a bad inference) poses
> any obstacle to any theology of divine action that anyone here might wish to
> propose. The inference "God designed this" does not in any way restrict the
> speculations of theologians regarding how God actualized his design, or what
> purpose the design serves in God's overall plan. The fact that both Dembski
> and Behe have granted the possibility of quantum explanations shows the
> flexibility of ID on this subject, and ought to set TE fears at rest.
>
> 2. Even if the New Testament had never been written, no Jew needed to be
> taught that God was hidden; it's a fundamental premise of the Hebrew
> Bible -- as George must know very well. So the "theology of the cross", in
> teaching that God is hidden, doesn't teach anything new. It strikes me that
> what it new in the crucifixion is not the hiddenness of God but the weakness
> of God, the vulnerability of God, the self-surrender of God. And yes, I
> think Martin Luther has brought that point out well. I think it is brought
> out even more powerfully in the writings of Simone Weil, a writer whom
> George might very well find congenial, on the notion of divine self-emptying
> at any rate, and quite possibly on other matters.
>
> 3. George must also know that the citation of John 14:19 alone is not
> sufficient to settle the question whether the Resurrection appearances are
> to be understood as public or private events, and he must be aware that
> Biblical scholars disagree over that question. I assume that he (and
> everyone else here) also knows that many Christians do think of it a public
> event. I would wager a small sum that even a few TEs think of it as a
> public event. Indeed, I am not sure that Ted Davis doesn't think of it as a
> public event -- but Ted can speak for himself on that.
>
> And just to clarify, by "public event", I mean this: Someone outside of the
> fledgling Christian community of Jesus's disciples and followers, say, a
> Roman soldier who was present at the crucifixion, could, in principle, have
> seen Jesus after the Resurrection, and said "Hey! You're supposed to be
> dead! I was in the squadron that crucified you!" Whether any outsider did
> in fact see Jesus, I am offering no opinion. But I would argue that most
> Christians who have ever lived have supposed that the Resurrection was a
> public event in that sense. And common sense is on their side. To say that
> Jesus "rose from the dead" would be grossly misleading if a public event
> were not meant. After all, was the raising of Lazarus not a public event?
> Even if Jesus's body was a "glorified" body, it was still a body, and
> therefore should still have been visible. We can of course assert that his
> "glorified" body would have been invisible to unbelievers -- which I take it
> that George is implying. But then our position would be no different from
> Bultmann's; i.e., *for the Christian* Christ has risen, whereas no one else
> observes anything unusual. Yet I know that George disagrees with Bultmann.
> So the question is what sort of resurrected body George believes in, that it
> can be invisible to unbelievers but visible to believers, yet still be a
> "body" as the word "body" is used in either normal speech or intellectual
> discourse. And I would cite this remark as yet another example of where a
> TE proponent differs from conventional Christian theology -- which is fine,
> as long as it is frankly acknowledged.
>
> Cameron.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "George Murphy" <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com<mailto:GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>>
> To: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com<mailto:bernie.dehler@intel.com>>; <asa@lists.calvin.edu<mailto:asa@lists.calvin.edu>>
> Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 4:46 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God
>
>
>>A couple of comments:
>>
>> Bernie is right - what "careful observers" see is not God's "hand" but the
>> "tools" wielded by that hand. This is why I've emphasized that faith (in
>> a deeper sense than just believing in invisible agents) has to be a
>> component of an adequate theology of divine action.
>>
>> On Ted's discussion: People may have varying reasons for thinking that
>> God's action is generally hidden. As will surprise no one, I think the
>> fundamental reason for such a view is that the God we're talking about is
>> the one revealed most profoundly in the event of the cross - i.e.,
>> paradoxically where God is most hidden. (Some will ask, "What about the
>> resurrection?" As I said in a recent post, a theology of the cross
>> includes the resurrection of the crucified one. But the resurrection was
>> not a public event, the kind of phenomenon open to observation by
>> everyone - cf. Jn.14:19.)
>>
>> Shalom
>> George
>> http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
>>
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com<mailto:bernie.dehler@intel.com>>
>> To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu<mailto:asa@lists.calvin.edu>>
>> Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 3:27 PM
>> Subject: RE: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God
>>
>>
>>>I think the following is a fallacy:
>>> "Only careful observers see His hand."
>>>
>>> Scientists are painfully "careful observers." If anyone could "carefully
>>> observe" it should be scientists. If God's workings are imperceptible, I
>>> don't think it is because of the fault of the observer. Also- if it only
>>> took a "careful observation" to see God at work, then that perception
>>> could be then shown to others once it is discovered-- so where is it?
>>> That's what DI ID'ers are trying to do (explain God's hand at work
>>> through Intelligent Design because life as we know it is impossible to
>>> happen naturally), but they don't seem to have a compelling "careful
>>> observation" to peddle.
>>>
>>> ...Bernie
>>>
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu<mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu> [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
>>> Behalf Of Ted Davis
>>> Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 11:27 AM
>>> To: asa@lists.calvin.edu<mailto:asa@lists.calvin.edu>
>>> Subject: [asa] a creationist on the hiddenness of God
>>>
>>> Cameron Wybrow has been encouraging us to talk about a kenotic view of
>>> creation and God "hiding himself", in connection with TE and ID. While
>>> browsing in the college library this afternoon, I found a very curious
>>> little book by Gorman Gray, a retired engineer, called "The Age of the
>>> Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits?" Information is at
>>> http://www.ageoftheuniverse.com/Welcome.html
>>>
>>> Mr Gray is an advocate of a universe with "undefined age," but a recent
>>> biosphere (no more than 6000 years ago or 7500 years ago if the
>>> Septuagint
>>> is used). I encountered a similar view once, when a Brazilian teacher
>>> told
>>> me about it. Actually the famous YEC George McCready Price admitted this
>>> possibility at one point. As a say, a curious little book.
>>>
>>> My point in mentioning it here is that I found the opening paragraph of
>>> the
>>> preface to be interesting in connection with the theme of this thread. I
>>> quote as follows. Remember, the author is a creationist, if not
>>> technically
>>> a YEC then almost a YEC but absolutely not a TE.
>>>
>>> "We are compelled to believe in a God who is above His creation and who
>>> can
>>> intervene supernaturally whenever, wherever and however He pleases. Most
>>> of
>>> His interventions today are quiet. So quiet, in fact, that some might
>>> consider world events merely as natural forces producing their
>>> predictable
>>> physics. Only careful observers see His hand. We are dealing with a God
>>> who silently 'hides himself' (Isaiah 45:15)."
>>>
>>> Wow.
>>>
>>> My only comment: those TEs who like the QDA view (quantum divine action)
>>> are motivated by a similar concern. Contrary to what is often said or
>>> implied, they are not denying that God sometimes work genuine miracles
>>> (that
>>> would in some cases go well beyond QDA) and they are not picking a view
>>> to
>>> retain academic prestige. Rather, they really believe that virtually all
>>> divine activity is pretty subtle, while at the same time they want to
>>> uphold
>>> the orthodox belief in a God who acts--who acts all the time, all over
>>> the
>>> place.
>>>
>>> Whatever else we might say about that view, we need to keep this in mind.
>>>
>>> Ted
>>>
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>>>
>>>
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>>
>>
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>
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Received on Fri May 8 11:38:38 2009

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