Friday, December 07, 2007

White elephant theology

“[Matt Bathome] I for one, have never heard Chris L claim that he knew the entire truth.

I see the elevator didn’t make it all the way to the top floor. I guess we need to explain the obvious.

The parable only works because both the narrator and the reader know what the animal really is. They have inside knowledge. Their perspective is the true perspective.

So the parable suffers from an internal contradiction. If it were realistic, then the narrator would be in no position to know that the animal was really an elephant. Therefore, the narrator is assuming a privileged viewpoint which he denies to the blind parabolic characters. He is exempting himself (and his readers) from his own parable.

If the parable were realistic, the narrator couldn’t even tell us the parable since he would be just as blind to the true nature of the real world as the blind parabolic characters. And if it were realistic, then the reader would be out of the loop as well.

[Joe C] “Yeah, him knowing ‘all he truth’ or ‘seeing the whole elephant’, was NEVER a part of his article that Manata is doing a critique of. And I’ve never seen him claim that either. I think this was dishonest reporting/reviewing, and an apology should be made for making a bad straw-man against Chris Lyons.”

i) How does Joe know that Manata was guilty of a straw man argument? How does he know what a straw man looks like, anyway? If three blind men tried to describe a straw man, they might come up with three different descriptions. It all depends on which “part” of the straw man they feel, right?

ii) I agree with Joe that an apology is in order. I think Chris, Matt, and Joe owe the Christian community an apology for slapping a Christian label on their theological ineptitude and intellectual incompetence.

[Chris L] “One need not see the entire whole to know that one experience of it is not its entire nature. Your analysis of my article a) is flawed in the very logic it tries to use; and b) completely ignores the heart of the thesis around the dimensionality of God.”

i) In that event, the analogy with the parable breaks down.

ii) And how does Chris know that God is a hyperdimensional being? He can’t successfully appeal to science, for science is ultimately grounded in our timebound experience of time and space.

iii) For that matter, does he experience God as a hyperdimensional being? How many dimensions of God does he experience? 10 dimensions? Does he experience God at the Planck scale?

iv) Is God in a state of superposition before the collapse of the wave function? Remember that, according to Chris, God actually occupies space and time. BTW, is there a God for every parallel world?

“In the case of the nature of God, we already know from Job (and elsewhere) that we cannot fully comprehend the nature of God, and we know from Genesis (and elsewhere) that God exists apart from time.”

How is that analogous to the parable? Who corresponds to Job? The narrator? Or the blind men?

“Therefore, when we examine Him only within time, we start from a basis of admitted ‘blindness’, and this then slips into arrogance when one of us ‘holds his trunk’ and declares it to be a snake (or a sola)…”

How does that relate to his comment about what we know via revelation? Is revelation timebound? In that event, it doesn't tell us anything about what God is like outside of time.

If, on the other hand, revelation supplies a timeless, God’s-eye view of himself, then our knowledge of God isn't limited to our timebound viewpoint.

“Rather than play the part of a blind man in denial of his blindness (which is what these systematic theologies do when they exclaim exclusive definition of the nature of God), I am just suggesting that we admit our blindness…”

I'm more that willing to stipulate to Chris's theological blindness.

“…- our inability to see time beyond our own limited experience - and accept that God’s Word is true and that we don’t need to make it uncontradictory when it deals with the nature of time (ex. predestination and free will).”

True of what? Does the Bible reveal timeless truths or timebound truths? Is freewill a timeless truth or a timebound truth? How does he know that freewill is true if it's just a timebound category?

[Joe C] “Metaphors aren’t perfect Paul [Manata]. Don’t miss the big picture (lol the irony!!) because you’re trying to take small parts of the metaphor literally and apply them to real life.”

i) Now Joe is trying to distance Chris from his own illustration. If the parable is inapplicable to real life, then what does it illustrate?

ii) How does Joe know when to differentiate what is literally the case from what is figuratively the case? How does his timebound horizon permit him to do that?

“All Christians will never have the full picture of God (The super infinitely huge Elephant).”

How does Joe know what lies on the other side of our temporal horizon? Can he see on both sides of the limit?


  1. ggthanks for saving me the time!

    I also find it funny that they keep repeating the same mistake I corrected in my original post.

    Systematicians do not say that we have the whole truth about God, they simply take what they do have - the whole Bible - and apply the whole of *the Bible* to the parts found therein.

    They conclude that, to the best of our ability, here is what *the whole Bible* says about X.

    In the analogy, the elephant would hjave th be *the Bible,* so Lyons is saying that each theologian only has a few books. That they're not in possession of all the other books (tail, leg, side, tusk), they just have one (trunk).

  2. Agreed. I should note though that you accidentally said [Ken Silva] and it was [Matt B] that you were really talking about. It get's confusing because the pomo guys made that site so that it's named after Ken's site.

    What's really a shame about the whole elephant idea is that Chris Lyons formulated it somewhat recently, and he previously was a lot easier to converse with. Now he seems to be declaring anathemas against calvinists on a regular basis, as I've tried to document here:

    Funny thing is, he's a big promoter of the Restoration Movement which has the motto "In Essentials, Unity. In Non-essentials, Liberty. In All Things, Charity".

    Thanks again Steve and Paul.

  3. "I agree with Joe that an apology is in order. I think Ken, Chris, and Joe owe the Christian community an apology for slapping a Christian label on their theological ineptitude and intellectual incompetence."

    As the "Ken" mentioned above, I do refer you to Jim's comment in that I was not the one speaking, it was Matt Bathome:

    In large part that website exists to attack me. For example:

    So I was sure a bit surprised to be fired at here.

  4. Mistaken identity. Steve has a full set of John Owens' works on the way, to make it up to you Ken :-)

  5. Well then, in line with my brother the Apostle Peter, then mistake me even more! 8^)