Re: [asa] RE: (fall-away) TE and apologetics

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Wed Sep 23 2009 - 11:21:02 EDT

Bill - I apologize for confusing things by trying to respond to two
posts at once. The tolerance I refer to is simply that of being
respectful of differences in belief, and the integrity of the persons
holding them. The "God is Love" reference is to a particular case where
differences in sincere understanding will arise quite naturally, for
instance depending upon how much thought one has given to the
consistency of this posit with other scriptural references.

In this specific instance, my response was probably rooted in snippets
of recent posts that set out to define overly narrowly (in my view) who
gets to identify themselves as "Christian". Those who were disciples of
Jesus in the approximate time became known as Christians because of how
they related to one another, to borrow from Burgie's latest post,
because of their common journey. They were no more or less disciples
because their understandings of Jesus differed among themselves and over
time. I just extrapolate that sensibility into the present.

The "God is Love" content of my response really (and not so clearly,
alas) addressed Christine's comment that: "Toleration should never be a
pretext for relativism." Though she referenced an "ism" categorization,
I just reacted in recognition that situational or idiosyncratic (though
equally sincere) differences in perspective among individuals or groups
of people will always be in play, cannot be avoided, and need to be
respected in order to be able to play well together, and maybe even learn.

All that sounds well and good, but of course I still struggle with the
practicalities when these differences seek to find their way into
shaping school curricula (for example).

JimA [Friend of ASA]

Bill Powers wrote:
> Jim:
> It seems that in the example you offer, the truth is that
> "God is a god of Love. God is Love."
> Such a truth is then recognized (at least by some) to be in tension
> with other accepted truths, e.g., God's Sovereignty, His Omnipotence,
> His command that the Israelites "destroy" a certain people.
> What is not clear here is where the "tolerance" part comes in.
> I am presuming that this "problem of evil" is addressed in various
> ways, and that these various ways are where the tolerance is supposed
> to arise.
> I would suppose however that some resolutions might fall outside of
> the Christianity, and therefore we would not be tolerant of them. For
> example, the resolution can be achieved, consciouslessly or
> unconsciously, by presuming the existence of two Gods, the one Good,
> the other Evil. How often have you heard it said, or be tempted
> yourself to say, "God, had nothing to do with the attack on the World
> Trade Tower." Is this to abandon the concept of Sovereignty, or
> Omnipotence? Indeed, wouldn't extreme verions of front-loading look
> this?
> So, when and how do we decide to be tolerant, and when to object? I
> suppose it could be equally consistent to always to one or the other.
> Yet Paul tells to live in peace, as much as is possible, with our
> neighbors? I still find this ambiguous.
> bill
> On Tue, 22 Sep 2009, Jim Armstrong wrote:
>> Christine -
>> The problem is that what is truth for one may be taken as a godless
>> heresy to another - e.g., evolution. So absolute Truth is more than a
>> bit elusive, which you actually [perhaps unwittingly] captured in
>> your condition, " the best of our ability". Therein lies the
>> problem. We must virtually always understand that there will be great
>> variation in the product of " the best of our ability." So we
>> should not get too hung up on the pejorative use of "relativism".
>> While we may think we hold the truth, others will predictably take
>> issue with us, and SOMEBODY's got to be wrong!
>> In fact, we need to get used to the fact that ALL bodies of human
>> interpretation, such as those that define "denomination", are all
>> error-ridden to some degree, even ... [gasp] ... our own! So while
>> toleration may seem to be a pretext for this apparently undesirable
>> thing called relativism, I submit that we absolutely must become
>> humble enough to recognize that there is a very real probability that
>> some portions of our own understandings are in error, that we may
>> learn from the perspectives and practices of other persuasions, and
>> that we are essentially charged to honor the quest for relationship
>> with divinity underway in that other, less informed person. I would
>> distill this to say that humility and reality demand a certain
>> relativism.
>> It seems to me that there are "truths" that are very widely accepted
>> within the Christian community, but not really tested with
>> steely-eyed resolve. For instance [and this is by no means a new
>> thought!], consider these familiar expressions of truth: "God is a
>> God of love. Indeed, God IS love."
>> Given that starting point, have you ever found a really satisfying
>> reconciliation between those statements and the genocides performed
>> or ordered by the Old Testament God, or a truly satisfying answer to
>> the disarmingly simple old nagging question, "But what about the
>> African natives that never had a chance to accept Jesus?"
>> To be sure, there are ways to respond to this seeming paradox. There
>> are even ways that do not hand-wavingly appeal to "mystery" or
>> "sovereignty" of God. But in my experience, the the former to not
>> satisfy, and the latter do not come without giving up something
>> broadly taught in mainstream Christianity.
>> Or so it seemeth to me, at this brief parenthesis in my pilgrimage.
>> JimA [Friend of ASA]
>> Christine Smith wrote:
>> [snip]
>>> Jim writes:
>>> "My guess is that God has no denominational affiliations, and
>>> wonders even why we create them and defend them so passionately when
>>> we understand so little."
>>> CHRISTINE: True, I don't think God has a "denominational
>>> affiliation" per se, but I do think He cares an awful lot about
>>> Truth, and that we follow Truth to the best of our understanding.
>>> That is the purpose of revelation - to help us understand truth
>>> better. Toleration should never be a pretext for relativism.
>> [major snip]
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Sep 23 11:21:54 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Sep 23 2009 - 11:21:55 EDT