Saturday, October 08, 2005

What Would Kristol Do?

President Hints at Greenspan Replacement
by Scott Ott

(2005-10-07) -- In the midst of a Republican firestorm over his so-called 'stealth' appointment of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, President George Bush today would only hint at who he has in mind to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who will retire January 31, after 18 years steering the nation's monetary policy.

"I can't give you a name," Mr. Bush told the White House press corps, "but let me just say that I've known her personally for more than 20 years, and have first-hand knowledge of her philosophy on fiscal policy. I've actually watched her balance a checkbook at the kitchen table. She'll make a swell Fed chairman."

Mr. Bush said the as-yet-unnamed nominee "has a charming personality, a smile that lights up the room, and I can trust her like I trust my own wife."


Bush Failed to Ask 'What Would Kristol Do?'
by Scott Ott

(2005-10-07) -- President George Bush today acknowledged that before appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court he failed to ask himself the question that he habitually applies to such decisions: 'What would Kristol do?'

William Kristol, the neo-conservative editor of The Weekly Standard, has led the Republican outcry against a nominee who, conservatives fear, secretly favors abortion kiosks in shopping malls, and who may view the Constitution as metaphorical poetry.

The president, who wears a WWKD reminder bracelet, said, "I guess I got caught up in the moment, and tempted by the allure of appointing a justice who actually speaks in language I can understand."

Upon hearing of the president's remark today, Mr. Kristol said, "Acknowledging your sin is only half of repentance, but I stand ready to graciously forgive if the president will turn and follow me."


After Miers, Bush Promises Big Fight with Dems
by Scott Ott

(2005-10-04) -- President George Bush, in an effort to calm the Republican party's conservative base after his appointment of the relatively-unknown Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, today promised that he would "make things right by picking a fight" with Congressional Democrats in early 2006.

"I know my fellow right-wingers were hoping for a big ideological brawl over this nomination," said Mr. Bush in a letter to supporters. "I guess for some of us, this feels like winning a baseball game by forfeit when the other team doesn't show up. You still get the win, but it doesn't get your blood going."

The president assured conservatives that he has ordered White House staff to "identify an issue where it's more important to stage a public fight with Democrats than to accomplish our strategic goals."

"When we find that issue," Mr. Bush told the party faithful, "I'll just walk up to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and spit in his eye."


Bush Fails to Pick Stranger for Supreme Court
by Scott Ott

(2005-10-03) -- A clearly disappointed President George Bush this morning announced that he had failed to locate a total stranger to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and was forced to settle for someone he knows and trusts.

In a news conference to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers, 60, as an associate justice on the high court, Mr. Bush admitted, "I don't get out much, and I don't personally know very many total strangers. So, I had to settle for someone whose views, personality, intellectual abilities and work habits were familiar to me. I hope the American people will eventually find it in their hearts to forgive me."

As news broke of this new setback for the Bush White House, the president's popularity rating plunged into the single digits and despondent Republican lawmakers wondered if their party could manage to "keep the doors open and the lights on" until the 2006 mid-term elections.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The lay of the land

Here's an interesting little breakdown on support for or opposition to Miers:

Is sola scriptura self-refuting?

The Pedantic Protestant ( did a fine post on this question, which he's followed up with another fine post on the same subject. Check it out, along with other good stuff on his blog.



Whoa. I hesitate to even ask after having had this debate once already with another. But...I'm what point IS it a question of torture? I mean, there have been many things thrown around that are not torture...maybe they're unbecoming, but not torture.

Yet other reports, and even pictures I have seen, (not the well known ones) are disturbing.

Not to say any of these things have been done, but by way of definitions, what falls within your evaluation here? When is it torture? When they starve them? Little cuts? Play russian roulette? Smash fingers? Genearlly physically abuse them?

Are these things justifiable if it is "what needs to be done to get the job done as expeditiously as possible"?

# posted by Shamgar : 10/06/2005 9:38 PM


A reader posted this comment concerning my little essay on counterintelligence, in reply to Mark Shea.

These are all good questions that merit a serious answer.

1.A lot of Christians have a bad habit of opting out of nitty-gritty debates. They don’t want to get their hands dirty. The subject-matter is just too distasteful and morally compromising.

But if we sit out these debates, then we delegate all the tough questions to unbelievers to answer. That’s an abdication of our responsibilities. Christians don’t have all the answers. But with the benefit of revelation, we at least have some compass points to help us find our moral bearings. Should unbelievers be answering all the heavy-duty questions in ethics?

2.Christians are disproportionately represented in the armed forces. Out of respect and support for their sacrifice, that’s another reason we need to stay in the debate.

3.Too many Christians don’t have practical answers when the going gets tough. But if you don’t have workable answers to real world problems, then there’s something wrong with your value system. There are many forced options in life. Since we have no choice but to make a choice, we have no choice but to morally valuate our choices. Mere squeamishness is no excuse to let the unbeliever do all the heavy-lifting and make the decisions for us.

4.There is nothing wrong with debating the morality of torture. The problem is when the anti-war forces try to frame the debate by making torture the only prism through which we view the war effort. They use this as a form of blackmail to preempt a necessary debate. They use it as a conversation-stopper. And that puts us all in peril.

We really are facing a mortal peril. Whatever you think of the Iraq war, it has certainly shown us the face of the enemy—an utterly wanton, ruthless, fanatical, irrepressible enemy.

5.In ethics we’re often confronted with borderline cases—cases where our moral intuitions are too blunt an instrument to draw fine distinctions of right and wrong, or where we experience conflicting moral intuitions, a conflicted sense of duty.

In that case there may be no right answer, and it’s a question of what to do in case of doubt. To play it safe? Or to be lenient?

6.What is torture? Here’s one generic definition: “torture is the deliberate infliction of intense physical or psychological suffering to punish, or to deter others, or to extract information, or to coerce a confession of guilt, or to exact revenge, or for the sake of sheer cruelty.”

Now, that’s a broad definition. “Torture” is a very loaded word, and one reason is that it triggers all these varied connotations.

That’s because it’s a general, abstract definition, intended to cover every essential hypothetical case. But, of course, at a specific and concrete level, the definition doesn’t apply as a whole.

6.Let’s take a comparison: a physician may deliberately inflict intense physical or psychological suffering on a patient and his family as a means to an end. This may even include dismemberment or mutilation, viz., amputation or the removal of a vital organ.

Yet we don’t classify that as torture. We don’t indict him for war crimes and extradite him to the Haag.

7.What we’re talking about in context is interrogation to extract actionable intel from an unwilling informant.

The first question to ask is not, “Is it torture?” but, “Is it effective?” What are the most effective techniques for extorting intel?

The second question to ask, after answering the first question, is, “Is it torture?” There may be several methods at the disposal of the interrogator.

So one follow-up question is whether torture is necessary, or if there is some other method that will succeed short of torture.

8.Torture ranges along a continuum. You could say that any coercive interrogation is torture. That any infliction of physical or psychological suffering, however, mild or temporary, is torture. Any extraction of information against the will of the informant is torture.

And there are “human rights” groups who think it’s inherently wrong to force information out of a terrorist.

9.One of my presuppositions is that someone who breaks the social contract is not entitled to civil rights since it is the social contract that confers civil rights in the first place. The social contract is premised on a tacit agreement: I’ll respect your civil rights if you respect my civil rights. But if you game the system to sabotage the system, then you forfeit your civil rights.

10.I also draw a distinction between civil rights and human rights. Roughly speaking, only citizens enjoy civil rights. A terrorist has no Constitutional rights.

11.Coercive interrogation presupposes that the detainee is a terrorist. It would be improper to use coercive interrogation on the innocent. But the very fact that the detainee is a terrorist, that there is probative evidence to that effect, discharges the burden of proof.

This is not a question of legal evidence, of legal guilt or innocence. We’re not trying to extort a confession of guilt.

Rather, this is question of whether the detainee is likely to have useful information about those who would do us harm.

12.As I said before, I regard this as a two-step process. The first step is a screening process to sort out the high-value informant from the know-nothing.

13.Having isolated the high-value informant, it’s then a question of how to extract the intel. The techniques for #12 are not the same as the techniques for #13.

14.How far we should be prepared to go depends on such factors as the threat-level, the urgency of the threat, and the quality of the informant.

15.Remember, the detainee can spare himself any unpleasantness at any time by simply being forthcoming and telling the interrogator everything he knows.

16.This is not a license to be sadistic. We should avoid the infliction of unnecessary suffering. We should avoid the infliction of gratuitous permanent injury. And, morality aside, killing an informant is an ineffective way of extracting information!

17.I’m sorry that it has come to this, but we didn’t ask for this. We didn’t declare war on the Muslim world. Rather, parts of the Muslim world declared war on us.

Just look at the kind of enemy we’re up against in Iraq. Unfortunately, war forces good men to do things they hate to do. Not to do wrong, but to do things which would otherwise be wrong but for self-defense.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blue eyewash


TheBlueRaja said...

It's probably also apropos to point out that many who advocate a just war perspective are hopelessly unfamiliar with both in bello and ad bellum requirements of just war, at least in their Augustinian expression. Modern rhetoric about war and its justification often uses the language of the Augustinian tradition while misconstruing and misapplying the historic Christian conception of it. The war in Iraq, according to strict Just War principles, is not a just war. The targeting of civillian populations (commonplace by western liberal democracies since World War II) is unjust and unchristian.


i) We are not targeting civilian populations in Iraq. We are targeting military assets nested within civilian populations.

ii) In addition, if the civilians were more cooperative in tipping off our troops, we could do this with more surgical precision.

iii) You can’t tie the hands of a field commander. You can’t be so restrictive that he is unable to defeat the enemy. Any theory of just-warfare that renders it impossible to win is a charade.

iv) Also, in a situation like WWII, I don’t know why the Nazis should be free to bomb the English with impunity, to make the English live in fear while Nazis maintain a peacetime standard of living, reducing English cities to rubble in the morning while enjoying a leisurely meal of beer and bratwurst in the evening.


The dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were manifestly evil according to the just war tradition. Justifying the murder of civilians by calculating the possible lives lost had "the bomb" not been used is a distortion of Christian reflection on the Augustinian requirements.


i) This is one of those airy oracular pontification that has no rational or moral authority. To the contrary, it would be immoral not to minimize the loss of life consistent with the strategic objective.

If the lost of life is inevitable, the least you can do is to calculate the fatalities for different battle plans and select the plan that is most effective consistent with the lowest projections.

ii) In addition, a commander would be fool to sacrifice his own troops in order to minimize enemy fatalities.



White House Attempt to Justify, Fuzz, and Fog Torture Rebuffed by Senate

Note who's leading the charge. As I've been predicting, both Hillary *and* McCain will be running against the ghost of Dubya in '08. McCain is (rightly) distancing himself from this Administration's attempts to get around prohibitions against torture.


Mark Shea is indulging in the sort of political correctness that endangers us all. He and others of his ilk slap the word “torture” on something to shut down legitimate debate. The issue should not be framed in terms of “torture,” which is a prejudicial and question-begging designation.

Rather, the question should be framed in terms of what are the most efficient methods of sorting out the high-value detainees from the know-nothings, and, having done that, what are the most efficient methods of extracting actionable intel from unwilling informants.

This is not a question of torture, but interrogation. What needs to be done to get the job done as expeditiously as possible.

President Discusses War on Terror

President Discusses War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all. Our nation stood guard on tense borders; we spoke for the rights of dissidents and the hopes of exile; we aided the rise of new democracies on the ruins of tyranny. And all the cost and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it, because, from Latin America to Europe to Asia, we've gained the peace that freedom brings.

In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom. And once again, we will see freedom's victory. (Applause.)

Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a great turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day, and continues to this hour: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won. (Applause.)

The images and experience of September the 11th are unique for Americans. Yet the evil of that morning has reappeared on other days, in other places -- in Mombasa, and Casablanca, and Riyadh, and Jakarta, and Istanbul, and Madrid, and Beslan, and Taba, and Netanya, and Baghdad, and elsewhere. In the past few months, we've seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London, and Sharm el-Sheikh, and a deadly bombing in Bali once again. All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

Many militants are part of global, borderless terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, which spreads propaganda, and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like September the 11th. Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda -- paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, and the Philippines, and Pakistan, and Chechnya, and Kashmir, and Algeria. Still others spring up in local cells, inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed. Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for our world.

We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it -- in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their "resources, sons and money to driving the infidels out of their lands." Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run. They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.

Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb, or fire a rocket-propelled grenade -- and this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.

The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews. These radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. They're strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world. The militants are aided, as well, by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam" -- with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, and Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq.

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001 -- and al Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 180 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.

On the contrary: They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We've seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Margaret Hassan, and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I do not feel your pain -- because I believe you are an infidel." And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple -- the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. (Applause.) We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let's be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that once again will destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.)

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom -- by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half the population -- this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past -- a declaration of war on the idea of progress, itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. (Applause.)

We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence, and a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, destroying their ability to make war, and working to give millions in a troubled region of the world a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we're determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur. We're reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity, based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources, here and abroad. We're acting, along with the governments from many countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders. Together, we've killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks; as well as some of bin Laden's most senior deputies; al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the Jakarta and the first Bali bombings; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner, who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of al Qaeda's senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country. Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded -- but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.

Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as long-range ballistic missiles. And in the last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspected weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.

This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we're working urgently to keep weapons of mass destruction out of their hands.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder. (Applause.) Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. For this reason, we're fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. For this reason, we're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. And for this reason, we're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power -- and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces, and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning. Within these areas, we're working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. And we're aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence. This work involves great risk for Iraqis, and for Americans and coalition forces. Wars are not won without sacrifice -- and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve.

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced. They're unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity, or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years. With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces. Progress isn't easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom. We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that's the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who you disagree -- who disagree, building consensus by persuasion, and answering to the will of the people. We've heard it said that the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country. It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq -- but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower; it is a healthy, sturdy tree. (Applause.)

As Americans, we believe that people everywhere -- everywhere -- prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all. And so we're confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.

Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources? Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence.

There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory. (Applause.)

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there's no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end. By standing for the hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women, beliefs that are right and true in every land, and in every culture. (Applause.)

As we do our part to confront radicalism, we know that the most vital work will be done within the Islamic world, itself. And this work has begun. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person." The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith.

Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we have engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in a vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their own country. These brave citizens know the stakes -- the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition -- and that United States of America is proud to stand beside them. (Applause.)

With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle, between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision -- and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure -- until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent -- until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course of our own struggle -- the course our own struggle will take -- or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

May God bless you. (Applause.)

Old World, New World, Third World

Phil Johnson has a knack for attracting carping critics. It has more to do with style than substance, but you can predict that when he writes a certain way on a certain subject, he’s going to provoke a certain reaction. The critics are going to say what they always say the way they always say it.

I find t his amusing because the critics are so clueless. They act like Martians. They act as if they have no knowledge of American culture.

Phil’s brand of humor isn’t distinctive to Phil. I have the same sense of humor. So does Frank Turk. So does James White. So does the Pedantic Protestant. So does Peccadillo. So does Theologically Correct. So does Fide-O. The list could go on and on.

This is America humor, folks. It is a reflection of national character. The hyperbole. The satire. The larger-than-life persona. The lowbrow contempt of highfalutin’ airs.

Hey, guys, why is this such an alien concept to you? Did you just get off the boat? Were you born and raised in a Swiss finishing school?

To a large extent this is a red state/blue state thing. Phil has a red state sense of humor, while his critics have a blue state sense of humorlessness.

Liberals can’t afford a sense of humor, because humor might offend someone, might hurt their feelings. A liberal is the most uptight, inhibited creature on earth—like a girl caught wearing the wrong color dress to the prom. Oh the shame! Oh the humiliation! Of the stigma! Oh the scandal!

Have you ever noticed that right-wingers have all the fun? We say what we think—the way we want to say it. We call a spade a spade. But a liberal is a certified crepe-hanger.

BTW, this is an aspect of the Catholic/Protestant divide. Traditionally, Europe is Catholic while North America is Protestant. Blue staters look to Europe for inspiration. They look to their social elders and betters for approval. A pat on the head. They look longingly to the dying monarchies and aristocracies and the Jamesian novel of manners.

Red staters don’t define themselves by European values. They’re content to be American. They aren’t wracked by this gnawing inferiority complex. Think: Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

This also plays into the current dust-up between Phil and theBlueRaja. Now, to judge by his blog, the BlueRaja is an okay kinda guy. His heart is in the right place. And he has a good head on his shoulders.

But he has a real chip on his shoulder where America is concerned. And this is driving his pacifism.

This isn’t disinterested theology. It’s seething with Third World resentment of America as a big rich bully swaggering across the world stage, of America as a war-mongering, whore-mongering rogue state bent on world domination. Evil capitalism. Evil republicanism. Evil neocons conspiring to spread Zionism. Blood for oil.

It doesn’t once occur to him that by savaging American "nationalism" in classic UN-speak, theBlueRaja is merely replicating his own national character, mirroring his own social conditioning, reflecting his own Third World envy and rage and covetousness.

Mired in Miers

Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers has exposed a rift in conservative ranks. This may come as a pleasant surprise to liberals, who regard all right-wingers as bomb-throwing theocrats, but it comes as no surprise to conservatives. The GOP is more ideologically diverse than the DNC.

I don’t have the stats on this, but to judge by conventional wisdom, the GOP has a centripetal structure. At its solar core is the religious right. Circling the core are a number of secular conservative satellites, consisting of hawks, businessmen, and libertarians.

Of course, the religious right is, itself, a subdivided coalition of conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, and observant Jews.

Now, the satellites go along with the religious right for couple of reasons:

i) They don’t have the numbers to swing it on their own. So they need to tag on to the stream engine of the religious right.

ii) Although they don’t agree with every plank of the religious right’s agenda, the religious right generally agrees with every plank of their own platform. That is to say, members of the religious right are generally hawkish, pro-business, and anti-big brother.

Now, from what I can tell, most of the conservative punditry has, with a few exceptions, been hostile to the Miers nominations—and the exceptions are just as revealing as the rule.

On the one hand, she enjoys the support of Colson, Dobson, Land, Olasky, and Sekulow. Cal Thomas is on the fence.

On the other hand, her opposition number such names as Blankley, Buchanan, Coulter, Frum, Jeffrey, Krauthammer, Kristol, Lowry, Malkin, Novak, Noonan, Sabato, Shapiro, and Will.

It’s not hard to see a pattern here. Evangelicals support her, or at least they don’t oppose her, while her opposition comes from Jews, Catholics, and other non-evangelicals.

BTW, I don’t know where Medved or Brooks come down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they oppose her as well.

Now, there are various reasons to entertain reservations about her nomination. She’s an unknown quantity. Her paper trail is thin, and what paper trail she has sends mixed signals.

But that doesn’t account for the breakdown. What does account for the breakdown is a different value system.

On the one hand, Bible-belt types are generally disdainful of elitism. They’re not social climbers. Their world revolves around church and family, work and sports. “Hewers of wood and drawers of water” (Josh 9:21ff.).

Bush, despite his preppie background, is a perfect illustration of this outlook. And so, on the face of it, is Miss Miers. She’s from Texas. She’s a god-fearing, churchgoing woman. She’s a card-carrying member of the Bible-belt.

This goes to a deep string of Americana. We threw off the crown. This is what makes The Beverly Hillbillies and the Dukes of Hazzard hit shows. They’re deliberately lowbrow. They revel in Hickdom.

This is as old as Reynard the Fox. This is why Bush won and Kerry lost. The bourgeoisie v. the booboisie.

Yes, it was about ideology. But it was deeper than ideology. It was about what gives rise to ideology in the first place.

By contrast, non-evangelical conservatives are generally more status-conscious, hotly pursuing the medals and medallions of social prestige. Catholicism and Rabbinical Judaism are spiritual meritocracies. By contrast, Evangelicalism is all about the sin of man and grace of God.

In nominating Miers, Bush unwittingly split the core of his constituency as well as driving the satellites into outer orbit.

She’s an embarrassment—like Carrie on prom night. They can’t stand the idea of having this gauche and gawky little girl from Dogpatch USA as their judicial Homecoming Queen. It’s more enough to put up with Dubya as their Homecoming King. They are royalists at heart. Image is everything.

In addition, what distinctively endears her to the Evangelical wing of the GOP is what renders her distinctively repellent to the rest of the GOP.

That’s how she’s perceived, and perceptions are all we have to go by at the moment.

I'm not commenting, now, on whether she’s a good pick or a bad pick. I’m just commenting on how the angular light of her nomination has revealed the seams in the GOP.

Fundie hicks


This guy thinks that fundie hicks like Vern Poythress and John Frame are "philosophically sophisticated" exegetes.

--Jonathan Prejean


Prejean is an able man, so it’s sad to witness his slide into obscurantism.

1.Both Frame and Poythress hold advanced degrees from Ivy League institutions (Harvard, Yale, Cambridge).

2.”Fundamentalist” is a term with a specific historical meaning. It’s a pity that Prejean indulges in the same sloppy, ahistorical usage as the liberal pop media.

3.I’m not a fundamentalist myself, but I don’t use it as a term of abuse. Fundies like Bock, Block, and M.H. Harris, and Hoehner are currently producing some of the finest Bible commentaries available.

Fundies like *Blomberg and the late Gleason Archer have done yeoman work in defense of the inerrancy of Scripture.

And if Prejean is using “fundie” in a broader sense, then the list of eminent fundie scholars is far longer.

*As a premil Baptist I assume he’d qualify as a “fundie” in Prejean’s eyes.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Has God spoken?


I guess I am surprised that anyone is shocked at this. Taking the bible as 100% true from a historical and scientific perspective creates huge problems. Not accepting this creates huge problems if you believe in Sola Scriptora. The question then becomes "Why not reject the resurrection?". For Catholics this issue does not come up. When you have scripture, tradition, and the magisterium you have a logical basis for interpreting some scriptures literally and others not. This document is just one of many out there in the Catholic church. It is not official church teaching. The church gives individuals a lot of freedom when it comes to the how of creation (not with the who and the why). It doesn't when it comes to the resurrection or other core doctrines. The bible is inerrant. It just needs to be interpeted correctly. God gives His church the grace to be able to do that.

# posted by RandyGritter : 10/05/2005 12:32 PM

Excellent post Randy.

And it is true... the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura, which isolated the Bible from the living Tradition, did indeed cause many Protestants to turn themselves into pretzels in defense of the text against its obvious discrepancies. Once they relegated the divine revelation to words on a page, all that remained for anti-Christians like Thomas Paine was to attempt to use textual evidence to discredit Christianity. Sola Scriptura, which took the biblical texts outside of the religous community from which they were written (so as to make them absoultely independent of it), developed completely outlandish ideas of Scriptural inspiration. Louis Bouyer provided an excellent analysis of this aspect of Protestant belief in his classic book, "The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism".

# posted by Charlie : 10/05/2005 1:19 PM

Matthew, the piece you linked is being intellectually dishonest & *reading into* the text in saying that the Catholic Church now believes sections of the Bible to be "untrue". You're getting into the *literal* v. *literalist* argument for Scripture interpretation. Was the universe actually created in 7 days? Or is a day as 1000 years to God? Can we, with our finite language, put God's creation of everything in a strict, literalist 7-year box? Or can we take it literally & believe that God brought creation into being in whatever way He chose?

I'm sure you've seen artist's renderings of what the early Jews believed to be the structure of the earth (as described in Scripture) that there was a dome over the earth that held back the water in the sky? That verbal description is as close as the ancients could get to accurately writing down what the Holy Spirit breathed through them. Now, because of science, we know better, but it in no way negates Scripture, does it? Of course not. This is an example of what the Church document quoted in the piece you linked is referring to. If one were to stick to a strict 7-day interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis, one would also have to believe that what science has taught us about the earth as a body in space is untrue. I would have to ask a person who held such a literalist interpretation how they'd square the two.

The Catholic Church does not teach that Scripture is wrong, untrue, etc, in any way, or that it is not the Word of God.

"You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time." St Agustine, as quoted in paragraph 102 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

And also:

In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men." CCC, paragraph 101 quoting Dei verbum 13.

Human language is finite & imperfect. Can we hold God, Who is perfect & infinite, to that? Human language, at one time, simply didn't have the words to accurately describe what God had created. That doesen't mean that God's Word is wrong. The words the sacred writers chose to use were the best available at the time to describe what the Holy Spirit was telling them.

I'd refer you, also, to paragraphs 105 through 119 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the official Catholic understanding of Scripture, especially:

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, mad
Gene Branaman | 10.05.05 - 4:46 pm | #

It turns out that not everything in Scripture is literalistically true. So when a Churchman points out that the creation account in Genesis is told (in St. Jerome's words) "after the manner of a popular poet", a modern reporter naturally hears "Catholic Church no longer swears by the Truth of the Bible".

Oh, and when a grownup tells the reporter that Jesus doesn't really have a sword sticking out of his mouth and lambs don't really have seven eyes, the reporter, like the dumbest kid in class, writes that "they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation".



The Church of Rome is the world’s largest denomination. It is also the world’s largest liberal denomination.

If you have any doubts, just read Gledhill’s article and the response to it.

Typically, the Catholic response has all the coherence of the Keystone Kops. But, of course, it isn’t about intellectual coherence, but intellectual bondage.

A devout Catholics is a classic company man. Here is a real quick way to tell the difference between Catholics and Evangelicals: Evangelicals defend the Bible while Catholics defend their institution.

When a company is caught illegally dumping toxic waste into the water supply, you always, without fail, have a corporate spokesman come outside to deny the charge.

That’s the initial, invariable reaction. Pious Catholics have the same mentality. Problem? What problem?

Let’s run through these reactions one at a time. Who said we were shocked at this news? I and others have been documenting the Magisterium’s liberal views of Scripture for some time.

It’s true that if you subscribe to the inerrancy of Scripture, that presents certain intellectual challenges. It’s true that if you reject the inerrancy of Scripture, that presents certain intellectual challenges. It’s true that if you’re an outright unbeliever, that presents certain intellectual challenges.

Randy then takes this issue to a logical conclusion by asking, “Why not reject the Resurrection?”

He poses this as a dare to the Evangelical. But why should we back away from that question? Isn’t Scripture a form of historical revelation? Isn’t the Resurrection a historical event?

If he says that taking the Bible as “100% true” from a “historical” (as well a scientific) perspective creates “huge” problems, then, given the (false) premise, that does, indeed, create huge problems for the credibility of the Resurrection.

So what’s his way out? “For Catholics this issue does not come up. When you have scripture, tradition, and the magisterium you have a logical basis for interpreting some scriptures literally and others not.”

This is to beautifully naïve, is it not? It doesn’t occur to Randy’s childish mind that the historical-critical method is a double-edged sword. Not only can it be applied to Scripture, but it can be applied with equal efficiency to tradition and the magisterium.

Many Catholics vainly imagine that they can poke holes in Scripture with impunity on the assurance that if anything worthwhile slips through it will be snagged in the safety-net of the magisterium. But the same skepticism that shreds the Bible will shred the magisterium for good measure.

There is, for example, a reason why Hans Kung has a liberal view of Scripture and tradition alike. For he applies the historical-critical method to both.

But in Randy’s little sandbox, such elementary consistency is beyond his cognitive development.

Moving along, he says that “This document is just one of many out there in the Catholic church. It is not official church teaching.”

Not, it’s not. It’s simply a document issued by the bishops of the UK. But that’s a sizable hunk of the magisterium, is it not?

And if the teaching office of bishops is so easy dispensed with, why bother with a magisterium at all?

Continuing: “The church gives individuals a lot of freedom when it comes to the how of creation (not with the who and the why).”

This is the way Unitarians talk as well. Once again, it never occurs to the Randys of the world that such institutional laxity is culpable rather than exculpatory.

Continuing: “It doesn't when it comes to the resurrection or other core doctrines.”

In other words, the Catholic church draws arbitrary lines between what is true and what is false in Scripture. But because Catholicism cultivates an anti-intellectual, fideistic outlook, the artificiality of this procedure effects no cognitive dissonance in an undisciplined and underdeveloped mind like Randy’s.

Moving along: “The bible is inerrant. It just needs to be interpeted correctly. God gives His church the grace to be able to do that.”

Want final proof of an inability to think straight? Here it is. He begins his paragraph by denying that the Bible is 100% accurate in matters of science and history.

He ends by affirming that the Bible is inerrant. It’s just a matter of interpretation.

Once again, this is flatly contrary to what he originally said.

In addition, the claim that it’s just a matter of interpretation is such a tired old ruse. Only those with an insatiable appetite for self-deception are taken in by such a transparent ploy.

Randy is so dense, not for lack of basic intelligence, but lack of basic incentive. He has no incentive to be consistent because consistency would threaten the security of the sandbox.

BTW, it really wouldn’t hurt Randy to learn how to spell sola Scriptura. But I guess that’s what happens when the Latin Mass is ditched.

But if you think that Randy’s reply is hopeless, wait until you read Charlie’s. He speaks of “obvious discrepancies.”

If so, this is a case of falsity, not false interpretation.

Continuing, he talks about “relegating the divine revelation to words on a page.”

Well, yes. Unless you believe in continuing revelation, which is formally denied by the church of Rome, then we have no more prophets or apostles to communicate God’s word. What we have is a written record.

In some cases, this is a written record of the spoken word, in other cases it consists of words on a page because Jeremiah or Paul were dictating to a scribe.

This may be news to Charlie, but there’s a reason we speak of the Bible writers or authors of Scripture. They were literate. They could read and write. They could compose speeches and letters and gospels and so on. So, yes, you have words on a page.

And I have even more exciting news for Charlie. The teaching of his own church has a textual basis. Papal encyclicals consist of words on a page. So does the Catechism. So does Vatican II.

Notice that Charlie is using medium of words as well to express his thoughts. Amazing what words can do.

Continuing: “all that remained for anti-Christians like Thomas Paine was to attempt to use textual evidence to discredit Christianity.”

Apparently, Charlie has never heard of Celsus or Porphyry or Julian the Apostate. He knows no more of church history than he does of Scripture.

That’s the appeal of Catholicism. It’s a license to be ignorant.

Moving along: “Sola Scriptura, which took the biblical texts outside of the religous community from which they were written (so as to make them absoultely independent of it).”

Where were the Prison Epistles written? Within the religious community? Or in a jail cell?

Where was the Book of Daniel written? Within the religious community? Or by a Jewish exile indentured to a heathen regime?

Where was Revelation written? Within the religious community? Or on a penal colony?

You see, being Catholic means that you don’t have to know anything about the Bible. You simply regurgitate any dumb thing you’ve heard from Mother Church. You don’t study what the Bible says: you study what Mother Church says the Bible says. There’s no attempt to compare the two.

Continuing, “[They] developed completely outlandish ideas of Scriptural inspiration.”

Actually, before many denominations capitulated to modernism, the plenary inspiration of Scripture was common property of nearly all professing Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. You can still find this completely outlandish theory affirmed by Trent and Vatican I.

Moving along: “Human language is finite & imperfect. Can we hold God, Who is perfect & infinite, to that? Human language, at one time, simply didn't have the words to accurately describe what God had created. That doesen't mean that God's Word is wrong. The words the sacred writers chose to use were the best available at the time to describe what the Holy Spirit was telling them.”

This is yet another thoughtless statement by yet another thoughtless Catholic.

Suppose the big bang theory is true. Suppose historical geology is true. Suppose evolution is true.

Isn’t human language adequate to express those truths? If I read Hawkins or Dawkins or Gould, are they unable to use human words to adequately state and explain evolution and historical geology and the big bang theory? The cosmologist, paleontologist, and evolutionary biologist is using finite language to put the science of origins in a box, is he not?

Gene is comparing Scripture to modern theories of science. But in order to carry out such a comparison and contrast, the language of Scripture and science alike must be adequate to present these differing accounts of the origin of the cosmos and life on earth.

And you can do this without recourse to scientific jargon. There are science books written for children using a child’s vocabulary. Evolutionary fairy tales for kids.

Actually, Scripture does describe the earth as a body in space: “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7).

And let’s finish with Shea’s brilliant comment: “Oh, and when a grownup tells the reporter that Jesus doesn't really have a sword sticking out of his mouth and lambs don't really have seven eyes, the reporter.”

This draws no distinction between the genre of historical narrative (Genesis) and the genre of apocalyptic prophecy (Revelation).

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.

In the document, the bishops acknowledge their debt to biblical scholars. They say the Bible must be approached in the knowledge that it is “God’s word expressed in human language” and that proper acknowledgement should be given both to the word of God and its human dimensions.

They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”.

The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.

“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

Of the notorious anti-Jewish curse in Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us and on our children”, a passage used to justify centuries of anti-Semitism, the bishops say these and other words must never be used again as a pretext to treat Jewish people with contempt. Describing this passage as an example of dramatic exaggeration, the bishops say they have had “tragic consequences” in encouraging hatred and persecution. “The attitudes and language of first-century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians should never again be emulated in relations between Jews and Christians.”

As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.

Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.

The bishops say: “Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.”

In their foreword to the teaching document, the two most senior Catholics of the land, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, explain its context.

They say people today are searching for what is worthwhile, what has real value, what can be trusted and what is really true.

The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. In the past 40 years, Catholics have learnt more than ever before to cherish the Bible. “We have rediscovered the Bible as a precious treasure, both ancient and ever new.”

A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word. The Breakout Trust raised £200,000 to make the 30-minute animated film, It’s a Boy. Steve Legg, head of the charity, said: “There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly.

That leaves a staggering number who are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching.”



Genesis ii, 21-22

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man

Genesis iii, 16

God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Matthew xxvii, 25

The words of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Revelation xix,20

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”,,13509-1811332,00.html

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Play the hand you're dealt

Back when my dad and his older brother were kids, there was a day when his older brother was as sick as a dog. That was the day my dad chose to beat the stuffing out of him. Of course, he paid for it the next day, but it was worth it!

The PP informs us that he is busy this week. So I’ll take advantage of his distraction to comment on a recent little essay of his, addressed to a hypothetical Republican.

Now, speaking for myself, I’m a natural born cynic. And although my conversion to the faith some thirty years ago has given me cause to rethink and renounce many of my previous beliefs, I’ve never had the slightest occasion to recant my cynicism. Indubitable cynicism is a wonderful vaccine against disillusionment and doubt. If cynicism were a verb, I would say “Cynico, ergo sum.”

I share the PP’s criticisms of the Bush administration. However, I’m not disappointed. I’ve not suffered a memory lapse—although if I were suffering from political amnesia I don’t suppose I’d remember it, right? I’ve not been whipped into a frenzy. I’m not running scared.

No, I don’t feel silly. No, the GOP isn’t playing me like a piano. My piano lid is locked and bolted. No, I don’t support big gov’t as long as it’s in Republican hands. No, I don’t take a particularly positive view of the national party.

N/A. None of the above. Zippo!

I voted for Bush in 2000 because the choice was between Bush and Gore, and Bush was better than Gore. I voted for Bush in 2004 because the choice was between Bush and Kerry, and Bush was better than Kerry.

My philosophy is not to vote for the best candidate, but to vote for the best electable candidate. There’s no point in voting otherwise, although there’s sometimes a point in sitting out an election. What the point of voting for a loser? Either vote for a winner, or don’t vote.

For me, the choice is between better and worse. It’s as simple as that. I play the hand that providence has dealt me. I calibrate my cynicism to providence.

It’s quite true that Christians have nowhere else to go. Who would ee vote for? Petruka? Remember him? I don’t either? That would be a feel good vote, but nothing more.

If third parties could work, they would work. If third party candidates could win, they would win. They lose because they don’t have the votes.

Yes, I know, that’s a tautology. Nothing very profound. But tautologies do have the singular virtue being true. Trivial, but true—fatally and irrefutably true.

Now, there are times when the cost of winning is higher than the cost of losing. The PP brings up Giuliani. I’d sit that one out.

You can compromise to the point there it isn’t a choice between better and worse. You can compromise to the point where you become a clone of the opposition.

In that case, it sends a good message to the party bosses that you are prepared to draw a line in the sand. Some loses are tactical losses. But you don’t win by losing every time.

A vote for the GOP is not a vote for big government. Yes, Bush is a big government guy. But that’s not why I’m voted for him. That’s an incidental evil of voting for him. I cast my vote for Bush for other reasons. Unfortunately, big government is the price one pays for a Bush administration.

I don’t like the tab anymore than the PP. But if Bush spends like a Democratic, so would a Democrat. Yet a Democrat would be hostile to my values across-the-board, whereas Bush is generally sympathetic. And, at worst, voting for Bush is an act of damage control.

I’ve heard it said that both parties are headed over the cliff, just at different speeds. To begin with, this isn’t true. They aren’t going in the same direction on all issues.

But even so, there’s something to be said for buying yourself some lead time. For setting up some roadblocks on the expressway to destruction.

This isn’t about winning, in the sense of forcing the God-haters into absolute surrender. That’s not going to happen. This isn’t about winning the war. This isn’t about winning every fight and skirmish.

This is about winning just enough battles so that we survive and stay in the game and keep the cause of the gospel alive to pass on to another generation.

There’s a lot to criticize in Bush, but, you know, he’s the one who ran and won. Many of his critics have never run for national office, much less won their bid for high office. Better candidates have run—and lost.

We can’t expect the other guy to do it all for us, to agree with us all the time, to do what we would do were we him his position, because we’re not in his position, and he’s not us.

If a better viable candidate runs, I’ll vote for the better viable candidate. But we can’t leave it all to the other guy, tell the other guy what we want, tell the other guy what to do, and expect him to do our bidding everytime.

You know the old saying that if you want something done right, you've gotta do it yourself. But if you’re going to delegate the task to a second-party, and there are perfectly good reasons for doing so, then you have to settle for less. The only question is, how much less?

Finally, we really are making progress, you know. Take the dust-up over judicial nominees. When Reagan nominated Bork, the liberal establishment simply crushed him. He lost, and lost by a wide margin.

When Bush nominated Roberts, the liberal establishment was absolutely impotent to prevent his confirmation. He won, and won by a wide margin.

Why are the liberals so fanatical about the courts? Because that’s all they’ve got left. They’ve got this toehold on power. Just one frost-bitten toehold on power.

Why are liberal lawmakers so dependent on the judicial branch of government? Why don’t they pass a federal law banning school prayer? Because they don’t have the votes. Why don’t they pass a federal law legalizing abortion on demand? Because they don’t have the votes. Why don’t they pass a federal law legalizing homosexual sodomy? Because they don’t have the votes?

They don’t have popular support for their agenda. That’s why they’re so angry and insecure and iron-fisted. They’re the ones running scared.

Well, cowardice has its consolations. But I’ll have to skip town next week to dodge falling rocks from the PP’s crushing reply. And if the Turkoman decides to pile on as well, I guess I’ll have to go into the witness protection program.

Either that or rent a room in Jus Divinum’s Tuscan villa. That’s his winter residence, you know. His summer home is a charming chalet overlooking Lake Lucerne. Did I ever tell about you about the time he was entertaining The Donald? Well, that’s another story.

Swords & plowshares

A sure-fire way of starting an argument in the blogosphere is to make a statement which no reasonable person would disagree with. In this case, Phil Johnson upheld the right of self-defense. Here is one response:


neopuritan said...

Nice straw man you have set up.

Most Christians who are labelled "pacifists" are not radical, but conservative in their application of Rom 13:4, while also being mindful of Mt 5. In a society where gun violence is an epidemic, and where our government feels free to pre-emptively invade other countries, the church needs to speak prophetically that violence is not a suitable response in almost any situation. The fetishizing of weapons and warfare is incompatible with Christian peacemaking - unless of course you live in Florida, where one can now shoot first and ask questions later.


Why this guy calls himself a neopuritan is mystifying. There was nothing notably pacifistic about Puritans like Milton, Cromwell, and John Owen. But I guess that's the difference between neopuritan and paleopuritan, right?

Should we love our enemies? All things being equal, yes, we should. But Jesus also said that we should love little children as well.

Now, Phil used the example of lethal force to prevent child-rape. He used that example because it’s about as morally unambiguous as you can get.

You see, there are situations in which you can’t be equally loving to all parties concerned. You can’t be equally loving to the child and the child molester. If you don’t intervene to protect the child by any means necessary, then you are being unloving to the child by allowing it to be molested.

So which should take precedence—the child or the pedophile? For normal men and women, the question answers itself.

Now, neopuritan doesn’t have a real argument to make against Phil. You can see that because, in place of a real argument, he simply strings together a number of question-begging assertions.

The strategy here is that if you don’t have a real argument, you can fake an argument by piling on a number of fallacies so that the sheer weight of the fallacies will add up to an argument.

i) Is gun violence an epidemic in the US? Short answer: no. It is only an epidemic among the criminal element in certain urban centers and minority groups. But, of course, it would be a sin against political correctness to do a demographic breakdown. Propaganda trumps truth.

ii) Gun violence is also epidemic in England, where they have draconian gun-control laws, the effect of which is to disarm the general public, leaving them defenseless against marauding street gangs who have the police outgunned as well.

iii) On the other hand, you also have a country like Sweden where, due to compulsory military service, most everyone has an Uzi in his closet, and gun-violence is quite low.

iv) Naturally, neopuritan disapproves of preemption. Since preemption is a logical extension of national defense, which is, in turn, a logical extension of self-defense, it is consistent to oppose one and all.

But like the liberal demagogues elsewhere, he also goes out of his way to misrepresent the argument. Certain just-war criteria must be met to justify preemptive action.

v) He then says that “violence is not a suitable response in almost any situation.”

No supporting argument is given for this sweeping assertion.

The obvious rebuttal is that you resort to force when persuasion is insufficient to repel evil.

vi) Again, for someone morally blind like neopuritan, all violence is morally equivalent. The violence of the child-rapist and the violence the policeman in restraining the child-rapist are morally—or, I should say—immorally equivalent.

vii) Presumably this would extend to the violence of an attending physician in the ER who performs invasive surgery, often without the consent of the unconscious patient, to save his life.

viii) One wonders if his abhorrence of violence extends to spraying cockroaches, trapping rats, and consuming a plate of fried chicken.

ix) He talks about peacemaking. Fine. If he can make peace through non-violent means, then there are plenty of hot-spots around the world for him to put his philosophy into action. Why doesn’t he lead through example?

x) Then he lies through his teeth about the Florida law. This is simply a common sense law which allows homeowners to defend themselves on their own property. If they abuse the law, they can be prosecuted. But it does shift the burden from the homeowner to the criminal—which is where it should belong. The criminal should assume the risk, not the homeowner. But that is way too morally transparent for someone like neopuritan.

For someone who disapproves of straw man arguments, neopuritan has a whole factory full of them.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Who is Harriet Miers?

Mavin Olasky has been posting some background info on Bush's new nominee for the high court.


Harriet Miers -- pro, part 1

This begins a series of seven posts on Harriet Miers, based on interviews with those who know her. Some background for the first five: I spoke yesterday with Nathan Hecht, the Texas Su-preme Court justice who is a prolife hero for strongly supporting parental notification laws five years ago when a SCOTEX major-ity was scuttling them. Hecht, 55 and never married, and Harriet Miers, 60 and never married, have known each other for 30 years and are -- to quote Hecht -- "very close friends. We dated some. The relationship has been close: Platonic... We go to din-ner, I go to Washington for special things."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:24 AM :: :: Comments (39) ::

Miers has been a member of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas for 25 years, where Hecht has been an elder. He calls it a "conservative evangelical church... in the vernacular, fundamen-talist, but the media have used that word to tar us." He says she was on the missions committee for ten years, taught children in Sunday School, made coffee, brought donuts: "Nothing she's asked to do in church is beneath her." On abortion, choosing his words carefully for an on-the-record statement, he says "her per-sonal views are consistent with that of evangelical Christians... You can tell a lot about her from her decade of service in a con-servative church."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:23 AM :: :: Comments (17) ::

Hecht says about Miers' judicial philosophy: "She's an orginalist -- that's the way she takes the Bible," and that's her approach to the Constitution as well -- "Originalist -- it means what it says." He notes that her legal practice involved writing contracts rather than tort law, so she was always looking at the plain meaning of the words: "Originalist." He also says she's not a social butterfly who will be swayed by Washington dinner table conversation: "She goes to the dinners she's supposed to go to. She's not on the social circuit."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:22 AM :: :: Comments (6) ::

Hecht says Miers never got married because she "probably worked too hard. She's close to her family, has a sister and three brothers, goes to her nephews' high school football games, bought a car for one of them." She "had a Catholic upbringing, had not been close to the church, it was off again, on again, then she came to a point in her life when she wanted to change that…. She made an abrupt change in 79 or 80. She was very hard-working and successful, she wanted new meaning, substance in her life.”
Her father died when she was a freshman in college. "Look at her commitment in taking care of her [now 93-year-old mother] all these years. Look at her tax returns. She tithes, gave a full tithe to the church. Helps out in missions, Bible translation. These are the kinds of values she shows." Hecht and Miers "went to two or three prolife dinners in the late 80s or early 90s."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:21 AM :: :: Comments (3) ::

Questions are being raised about Harriet Miers' politics because published records show her making contributions of $1,000 to Lloyd Bentsen in 1987, Al Gore in 1988, and the Democratic Na-tional Committee that same year. Hecht says, "She was a Democ-rat years and years ago, in the early 80s." As far as the late 80s contributions, "If she did it, it was because the [law] firm made her do it." She is loyal to President Bush and he to her: "The president demands a lot. The people he's loyal to are productive." Miers and Laura Bush are "very close. Harriet just loves Laura, has the deepest respect for her. Laura has migrated in her faith, it’s stronger than when she got to Washington.”
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:20 AM :: :: Comments (9) ::

Harriet Myers -- anti

Hecht's evaluation needs to be taken seriously, but here's one negative analysis from a lawyer who is a conservative Christian and worked with Harriet Miers in Texas (I agreed to go off-the-record with this lawyer, a credible person whose practice could be seriously hurt by this criticism of Miers): "Harriet could have become a conservative in Washington, but unless she did, she doesn’t have any particular judicial philosophy… I never heard her take a position on anything… We’ll have another Sandra Day O’Connor… Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she’s known. She’s a pretty good lawyer…. This president can be bamboozled by anyone he feels close to. If a person fawns on him enough, is loyal, works 25 hours a day and says you’re the smartest man I ever met, all of a sudden you’re right for the Supreme Court."
Posted by Olasky on Oct 3, 05 08:19 AM :: :: Comments (15) ::

Harriet Miers -- her pastor's view

I talked yesterday with Miers' pastor, Ron Key, who for 33 years (until a few weeks ago) was pastor of Valley View Christian Church in Dallas. “She started coming to church in 1980. She helped out with kids, made coffee, furnished donuts, served on missions committee. She worked out her faith in practical, be-hind-the-scenes ways. She doesn't draw attention to herself, she's humble, self-effacing." Key has still seen her in recent years because "her mother is 93. Harriet tries to get home as much as she can." When Key and Miers met in 1980, "I don’t know how strong her faith was at that time. She came to a place where she totally committed her life to Jesus. She had gone to church be-fore, but when she came to our church it became more serious to her.... Our church is strong for life, but Harriet and I have not had any conversations on that…. We believe in the biblical ap-proach to marriage."


A friend of Triablogue is converting my posts to audio format. Check it out at:

Sunday, October 02, 2005

McRyanMac: Princeton New Media: TigerHawk

McRyanMac: Princeton New Media: TigerHawk: "The other interesting question involved the 'public relations' war. 'Are we losing the PR war to the enemy? What are you doing on the marketing PR front?'

General Patraeus said that they have given the media an enormous amount of information, including countless important metrics for measuring progress, but that it is largely ignored. He observed that the enemy “On many days it is impossible to break through the steady drumbeat of sensational attacks occurring in Baghdad throughout the country. The opening of the new military academy got no coverage at all, even though it was a big event with the whole Iraqi government in attendance.'

Patraeus is obviously extremely unhappy with the monomaniacal press coverage."

Read the whole thing to feel the depths of the "quagmire". :-(

The gaying and graying of the priesthood

Once upon a time the Society of Jesus was the spearhead of the Counter-Reformation and mission to the New World.


McDonough and Bianchi base Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits on their interviews with several hundred Jesuits. The number of American Jesuits declined from the peak in 1965 of 8,393 to the 2000 figure of 3,635, and is still falling. The Jesuits have changed from a cohesive, disciplined society to a loose association of groups held together by little more than the name Jesuit and a common administrative structure. The old close-knit Catholic communities from which Jesuits were recruited have dissolved, as have the theological certainties that sustained those communities. Jesuits turned to psychology for salvation, and reinterpreted Ignatian spirituality to arrive at a therapeutic religion.

Sexual dissent among Jesuits is the most controversial issue. McDonough and Bianchi hesitate to guess the size of the gay population in the Jesuits, but one Jesuit they quote estimates it as a fifth of the total, another as a majority of Jesuits under age 40. Sexual orientation has replaced nationality as a way that Jesuits identify themselves. A substantial gay presence in a religious house is disruptive because of the discomfort that heterosexuals feel about the gay lifestyle (celibate or not). As heterosexual Jesuits age or depart, the “‘gaying and greying’ of the Society” advances.

Jesuits have been feminized in other ways: “God the Father has become the least popular manifestation of the deity.” Confrontation is out, dialogue is in. Jesuits have “shifted from a masculine assertiveness to a feminine emphasis on conciliation and healing.” Current Jesuits claim devotion to Jesus, but he does not seem to be the Jesus of the Gospels, the Son of the Father, but an androgynous therapist. Former Jesuits drift off into vague Protestant liberalism mixed with New Age and Eastern elements, but even some current Jesuits have no sure answers to this question: Is the risen Jesus figurative, or divine, or what?


What becomes a legend most?

Dr. White doesn’t need any help defending his own position, but I had to laugh at one pseudo-Reformed quasi-Catholic’s claim that Jeremiah 31:34 was quoted in John 6:45


Dr. Owen doesn’t need any help defending his own position, but I had to laugh at one Baptist scholar’s claim that Jeremiah 31:34 was not alluded to or quoted in John 6:45–I believe his exact words were:

…there is barely a verbal parallel to Jeremiah 31:34 (which Owen presented in his first article without even noting that this is a far stretch), but the connection to Isaiah is clear.

The problem for such an opinion is the fact that both the New American Standard Bible and the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland text to the Greek New Testament list Jeremiah 31:34 in their cross references to John 6:45. Leon Morris cites the reference to Jeremiah 31:34 as a possible alternative to Isaiah 54:13 in his commentary on John 6:45 and even suggests that both texts may be in mind for John in this passage (Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John, Revised. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, 1995, pg. 329, note 118).

One can call it “barely a verbal parallel” or a “far stretch” if you like, but the fact remains that Dr. Owen did not make up the parallel out of thin air as it seems our good Baptist doctor would have us believe nor is there any reason to believe that such an allusion by John is somehow suspect.

It seems here at least in this case that entire committees of international scholars agree with Dr. Owen. If I remember correctly, at one time our Baptist scholar was on the translation committee that produced the New American Standard Bible. How odd to find him in disagreement with what we find in the cross references of the New American Standard Bible translation.


Kevin Johnson is trying to create a legend. Legends are created by the cumulative impact of subtle distortions and half-truths if they are allowed to pile up unchecked.

i)”Quotation” and “allusion” are not synonymous.

ii) This is what the following commentators on John say:

“The quotation comes from Isa 54:13,” F. F. Bruce.

“Jesus next directs the assembly’s attention to a second Scriptural text (v.45a)—Isaiah 54:13,” C. Blomberg.

“Although not cited verbatim, the reference is apparently to the statement in Is. 54:13,” H. Ridderbos.

“This is a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:13,” D. A. Carson.

“A paraphrase of Isa 54:13; cf. Jer 31:34,” Kostenberger.

“The Isaiah passages seems the more likely source,” L. Morris.

“Kai…theou Is 54:13 (1 Thes 4:9),” The Greek New Testament, 4th rev. ed., B. Aland, K. Aland, J. Karavidopoulos, C. Martini, & B. Metzger, eds.

“From Isa 54:12f. John gives a sufficiently exact paraphrase and is probably dependent on the LXX: he does not use didaktos elsewhere. For the thought cf. Also Jer 31:33f; this is particularly interesting in view of the use of helkein just before (31:3, see on v44), but it would be unwise to lay much stress on this coincidence,” C. K. Barrett.

“Jesus claims the fulfillment of the promise that God’s people in the time of restoration would learn from God (Is 54:13; cf. 1 Thes 4:9). Like some rabbis John may blend the Greek and Hebrew texts, but a free quotation from the LXX is also possible; the Father’s witness should therefore be sufficient to bring those who are truly the remnant of God’s people to Jesus (Jn 6:45). Like other midrashic interpreters, Jesus is explaining the text from the Torah proper in light of a text from the prophets; indeed, allusions to the larger context of Isa 54-55 seem to be presupposed in the rest of the discourse,” C. Keener.

iii) Notice that not one authority has John quoting Jer 31:34. Barrett notes a conceptual parallel with Jer 31, but regards the verbal link as coincidental.

Kostenberger says it’s a paraphrase of Isa 54, and only mentions Jer 31 for purposes of comparison.

Note that both Keener and The Greek New Testament give 1 Thes 4:9 as a cross-reference. By Kevin’s logic, Jesus is quoting St. Paul!

Keener regards the Isaian background as pervasive.

iv) Remember that Dr. Owen built his specific case on the specific content of Jer 31:33-34.


1. Who is meant by “all that the Father gives me”? Does this only refer to the elect who are predestined to glory? Or might it include them, as well as a larger circle? It would seem that it would include a larger circle, for it includes all those who “come” to Christ. We are told in verse 45 who these people are who come to Christ: “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father.” That would appear to include the entire Church, all those who enter into the covenant. This is confirmed by John’s citation of Jeremiah 31:34 in this same verse: “They shall all be taught of God.” The word “all” in its context in Jeremiah clearly refers to everyone in the covenant. It is equivalent to “the house of Israel” in 31:33, and includes “the least of them to the greatest” (v. 34). This is simply a figure of speech for the entire nation, the people of God, the Church as a whole.


Johnson should have stopped writing after his initial sentence. Dr. Owen is, indeed, better off without muddy-handed little helpers like Johnson.