Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Postmortem on Holding-2

"Next Hays will call all performed anthropological study a fruitless endeavor (as he so belches from his armchair of non-expertise)."

"Belches"? More of Holding's excretory obsession.

"Pointing to a "promise/fulfillment pattern" is not rebutting the matter stated, which is that the example of Pharaoh is one of block logic and dichotomy."

What block-logic? What dichotomy? What we have, rather, is teleological reasoning. God will harden Pharaoh's heart as a means to an end--the revelation of the true God (Exod 7:3-5). That is the form of the promise/fulfillment scheme. Even when Pharaoh is said to harden himself (8:15), this is also said to be in fulfillment of God's prophetic word (cf. 4:21; 7:3).

"'Do I need to use the latrine?' Does Hays dare engage this absurd extreme?"

I confess I hadn't gone into this discussion under the assumption that I'd have to recapitulate the fifth labor of Hercules. So I must decline Holding's kind invitation to join him in the cesspool. I haven't the nose for the job.

He said: "No more idiotic statement could be made."

I said: "What statement could I have made to justify such a sweeping condemnation? Must have been pretty outlandish, right? This is why Mr. Holding is responding to. I had said that "the Bible-believing Christian is honor-bound by the logic of Scripture."

He said: " No, Hays said far more than that, and he purpusely [sic] isolates that portion to create a red herring. His full statement was: Wilson and Holding are treating the logic of Scripture as a culture-bound casket which they are at liberty to bury in an unmarked grave. But the Bible-believing Christian is honor-bound by the logic of Scripture. Let the dishonesty speak for itself, and that Hays thereafter isolates my first sentence from the rest of the paragraph."

But Holding is just stalling for time here--hoping the clock will run out. Yes, what about his first sentence? What about Wilson? Wilson is his great authority on "block-logic." And Holding denies that "block-logic" is normative for the Christian conscience. Hence, Holding denies that the Christian is honor-bound by the logic of Scripture. Like a greedy taxi-cab driver trying to up the meter, Holding has simply taken us the long way round to arrive at the very same destination.

He said: "No one said anything about 'earning' God's covenant promises."

I said: "Really? Let's go back to back to my verbatim quote of Holding: "To say, 'Lord, have mercy!' (Matt. 20:31) means, 'Lord, pay up your debt of interpersonal obligation to us.' Far from being a plea of the hapless, it is a request to pay back previously earned favor from our client (God) whose patron we are."

There you have it. Earning God's favor and thereby casting God in the role of debtor. And this line of reasoning runs directly counter to Rom 4:1-4. If that's a representative slice of sociorhetorical criticism (Pilch & Malina), then so much the worse for sociorhetorical criticism. I choose to line up behind Paul, not against him.

He says: "There we have it, yes -- another case of dinshonestly [sic] and verbal equivocation by Hays. He has dishonestly used the words 'covenant promises' to substitute for the word I did use, 'favor' and now is trying to equate the two in a desperate attempt to justify his original falsehood."

Actually, Holding used several words. He didn't merely use the word "favor," but "earned favor"--indeed, "previously earned favor", no less: "Far from being a plea of the hapless, it [mercy] is a request to pay back previously earned favor from our client (God) whose patron we are.'

Holding went on to uses the phrases "covenant obligation" and "covenant relationship."

I then said: "Even in the former case, we did nothing to earn God's covenant promises." I used "covenant promise" as a synonym for "covenant obligation" and the like.

Holding then said: "No one said anything about 'earning' [his quotation marks] God's covenant promises."

Notice carefully just what Holding denies. He doesn't take issue with the phrase "covenant promises." Instead, he denies that such promises were "earned." He places quotation marks around the verb, for emphasis--not the noun. It's the verb, with the scare quotes, that's the object of his negation.

Now, though, he's suddenly shifting ground--rejecting as "dishonest" a synonym which he had heretofore accepted without protest. He didn't take exception to the synonym at the time. Rather, he took exception to the allegation that covenant promises were "earned."

Conversely, he also quoted, with evident approval, the phrase "earned favor." All I've done is to take my cue from his fluid usage and semantic equivocations. So much for his trumped-up charge.

But if that were not enough, Holding now follows this up with a longish gloss:

"Let it be remembered that this is not said snobbishly as though God "owes" us something naturally. By comparison God made a compact with Abraham and willingly underwent the ritual of contract (passing between the halved animals) which essentially indicated that if He broke His contract with Abraham, He would be divided in half like the animals! God in His love was willing to send His Son, and is also willing to place Himself under contractual obligation to us, to start a relationship of "ongoing reciprocity," in which "those toward whom one has such a debt are equally obliged to maintain the relationship by further favors..."

In other words, Hays purposely obscures that this "earned" is made in the context of God's own covenant promises in which God obliged Himself and thus set up the entire system of return. So now will Hays argue that God can break His promises and release Himself from His own covenant obligations? Does a covenant obligation make God a debtor? If God says, "I will do this" and God cannot lie, is there or is there not an obligation present? Rom. 4:1-4 only draws from the most critical example of this -- the covenant within which YHWH set up mutual sets of obligations for Himself and Abraham."

i) To say that I "purposely" obscure his usage once again credits me with inspired powers of foresight. In the nature of the case, I can only comment on what he said at the time, and not his retrofitted version.

ii) Yet--and here's the real kicker--Holding himself, in his retrofitted version, uses "covenant promises" and "covenant obligations" interchangeably.

At this point, Holding has his wires so thoroughly crossed that a professional electrician would be hard-pressed to sort them out.

"Hays once again plays a disgusting game of verbal equivocation. The retort was that Calvin did not find these elements to disturbing in the rabbinic writings to use them in his commentaries."

Except that that's not what Holding said. It is he who equivocates with his patch-up jobs.

"All Hays does in reply is offer misdirected and irrelevant bouts of verbal diarrhea mixed with pious outrage."

Another appeal to Holding's favorite argumentum ad excrementum.

"Well, sorry, but for Paul, Hebrew and Aramaic were the 'native' languages. Next irrelevant belch?"

i) "Belch"? Another example of Holding's unhealthy fascination with excreta.

ii) Holding is in no position to know that. Indeed, the claim is antecedently improbable. Given that Paul's hometown was a Roman city, there is no reason to assume that Paul didn't pick up Greek as a child.

"Yet part and parcel of such learning is recognizing your own biases as a social scientist. Paul, for his inspiration, was not one of these and we have no indication that he had the social scientists' knowledge and capability to think outside his own box (or that he even thought he needed to)."

Notice that this is precisely the way in which the queer lobby in liberal churches explain away Paul's opposition to sodomy.

"In other words, Hays, though too gutless to say so outright, wishes to accuse Wilson of incompetence."

Actually, this follows from Holding's criterion, not mine. If you take Holding's view of psycholinguistic conditioning, then, by his own chosen standard, no 20C Jew can be an expert on ancient Hebrew thought-patterns.

" This error is one we have seen from Farrell Till as well. Sorry, but "argument from authority" is not a fallacy if the authority really IS an authority. Fallacy occurs when authority is quoted for the sake of authority ("Albert Einstein says that basketball is stupid"); not when the expert really knows their business (it is no fallacy to quote Stephen Hawking on black holes). Let it speak for itself again that Hays imitates an atheist opponent of ours to perfection."

This is really fascinating. Remember what Holding said to Dr. White? "White's own classification of Romans 9 as 'logical' is similarly obtuse. Indeed, logicians would call what Paul does in Romans 9 a fallacious 'argument from authority'".

Okay. It's not fallacious for Holding to quote Hawking on black holes, 'cause Hawking "really is an authority" on the subject. He's an "expert who really knows his business."

But when Paul quotes from the OT, that's fallacious 'cause the OT really isn't authoritative. The inspired writer doesn't know what he's talking about. Go figure!

"So how does Hays explain the "not" in Jer. 7:22?

In i) hays claims he does not have to explain it, but out of the other side of his mouth, then does so."

For someone who claims to be a Christian apologist, Holding doesn't seem to know much about how to mount an argument. In apologetics it is commonplace to present a two-pronged strategy in which we first challenge the operating premise of the opposing side, and then, for the sake of argument, stipulate that even if his premise were true, his conclusion fails to follow. That is not talking about of both sides of the mouth. That is simply offering a multifaceted rebuttal.

" Sorry, but the "Reformed interpretation" still dies on the vine if I am right, because the negation idiom is therefore expressed as well in the "not" in the second clause. That this did not occur to Hays as once speaks volumes for the low level of his mental horsepower."

i) Except for the stubborn little fact that there is no negation in the second clause.


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