Saturday, September 13, 2008

What an Obama Presidency would mean

Doug Groothuis on what an Obama Presidency would mean.

Continuing With Zilch

Since I’ve not been able to sit down and write much the end of this week, I haven’t had a chance to interact as much with Zilch (and Paul C. as well) on the Nihilism post I previously wrote. I have some time to further flesh out my argument now.

First, however, I must point out that Roger has actually done a great job elucidating some of the points I originally tried to make. Indeed, his summary is spot on when he says:


I notice that neither you nor Paul are really disagreeing with Peter or myself on this subject. Pretty much every point has been ceded about the worldview's content and necessary implications - the only real response has been, 'Yes, but, we like it enough not to kill ourselves yet.'
Now remember, my original thesis was: Within atheism, life is meaningless because the only thing that can give it meaning is the individuals who live their lives, and when they die all their meaning vanishes with them. Inherent in this claim is the fact that the only type of meaning an atheist can claim is subjective meaning.


The Subjectivity of Atheism

Zilch’s main tactic has been to claim that I’ve been smuggling in theistic concepts when determining how an atheist ought to act. I pointed out the irony of this since Zilch also stated that what I had said about nihilism fit with Sartre (is this a tacit admission that Sartre was a closet theist?).

I had originally said:
So our evolution causes us to long to survive, which requires us to ignore the objective reality of our universe. There is no meaning, but in order for us to survive we have to pretend there is meaning.
To which Zilch responded (italics his):
Nope. What "objective reality" must we ignore? As I said, there is meaning in the universe, or rather many meanings. Once more, you are assuming your position to be true- I don't have to pretend. If you can prove to me that there is a God, that would be a different story.
Here Zilch is so certain that I’m smuggling “God concepts” into the discussion that he ignores the implications of his very response. I am most certainly NOT smuggling any theism into my statements at all. My argument has NOTHING to do with what I believe about the universe, and I can prove it by using Zilch’s own words here.

Zilch says: “There is meaning in the universe” but immediately backs away from that by saying “or rather many meanings.” But that, precisely, IS my point. There are many “meanings” that an atheist claims, yet none of them are objective. They do not transcend the individuals involved. Indeed, how could they? They remain totally and completely subjective. And if they are totally and completely subjective, then this is exactly what I claimed in my very thesis statement.

Zilch responded to my following comment:
But just because something is doesn't mean something ought to be that way. That is, just because we've come about from creatures with a survivability instinct doesn't mean that's what we ought to have.

Since we've also evolved intelligence, then we're able to separate the is/ought and look at the world and see there is no reason to live.
by stating:
That might be true if one presupposes an eternal Ought. But since, in the atheist view, such a thing does not exist, but rather all "oughts" are evolved entities, then this cannot be the position of the naturalist, but only the imagination of someone who already believes. Of course there are reasons to live: they are evolved, not eternal, and peculiar to us humans, but they are the only kinds of reasons we have. From the point of view of an atheist, naturally.
Again, all italics are his. And once again, Zilch is so intent on finding an underlying theistic bent to my argument that he doesn’t realize he’s once again handed me exactly what I claimed before in his own words. When I say that “just because something is doesn’t mean something ought to be” that is not a claim that there is an eternal “Ought” out there. Indeed, my point was that there is no ought at all from the atheist perspective. That’s why you cannot derive one from what is.

In other words, Zilch completely missed my point because of his bias in reading what I’ve written. (He’s unfortunately tunnel blinded by not realizing that I am fully capable of making an argument from someone else’s presuppositions.)

And finally note that Zilch once again agrees that the only reasons to live are “evolved, not eternal, and peculiar to us humans.” Indeed, he emphasizes that these are the “only kinds of reasons we have”. Which again just IS my thesis statement. So at this point I have to wonder just who Zilch is arguing against, because thus far he’s been in total agreement with what I said before while missing the fact that I actually said it.

Now Zilch believes that our concepts of how we view meaning came about via evolution. He states this repeatedly, and I’ve already quoted one such passage above. But despite that he also admits:
Now that we have achieved a degree of freedom from want, we are less constrained to have only beliefs that are accurate or even fitness enhancing, and we can still thrive: if you are rich enough, you can believe just about anything.
So on the one hand, our beliefs come via evolution, but on the other hand they don’t because we can now deviate from the path of evolution. One wonders where these deviations arose from.

In any case, however, it should be noted that evolutionary beliefs merely select for survivability advantage. They do not select for truthfulness. To give a simple example, if someone believes there is a demon in the woods, he will not go in it. As a result, he is not mauled by a bear. This is a survivability advantage even though (according to the atheist) there are no demons at all. Those who would believe in demons would be less likely to go into the woods than those who scoffed at the thought of demons. So evolution doesn’t select for truth, but merely selects for that which allows survival.

And as Zilch said, as long as we are able to survive “you can believe just about anything.”


The Implications Regarding Suicide

So let us plug this concept back into the idea of our lives being meaningful. As I pointed out, according to evolution, belief that our lives are meaningful is a survivability advantage since virtually everyone (atheist or believer alike, but with the exception of true nihilists) says that their lives have meaning. The universality of this belief would require it to be an extremely STRONG survivability trait. That is, if it weren’t important to the survival of our species, we ought to see more people who did not have this trait. Since we don’t see that many, this trait (according to evolution) must be pretty darn important to have for survivability.

But just because we have the inborn desire to belief our lives are meaningful doesn’t make it so. All it means is that evolution selected it. This is why I said that meaning in evolution is nothing more than an opium to drug us into a state where we will not off ourselves. It is pretty obvious (again, due to the universality of the belief) that belief in a meaningful existence is necessary for survival, so not having that leads to death; the most obvious form of which would be suicide (as this is an internal trait—completely subjective—and therefore does not pit man verses the environment, or man verses beast, but simply man verses self).

Just so this point is clear, let me illustrate it with some syllogisms too:

1) Universal traits come about in evolution because that trait has a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

2) The belief in a meaningful life is universal.

Conclusion 1: The belief in a meaningful life provides a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

3) Converse of 1), traits that do not show up in an organism over time do not provide a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

4) The lack of belief in a meaningful life is virtually nonexistent.

Conclusion 2: The lack of belief in a meaningful life does not provide a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

5) Subjective concepts are internal to the organism.

6) Beliefs are subjective concepts.

Conclusion 3: Beliefs are internal to the organism.

7) The environment and predators typically only interact with the external changes to an organism (i.e., speed, strength, visual acuity, etc.)

8) Beliefs are internal to the organism.

Conclusion 4: The environment and predators will typically not interact with the beliefs of an organism.

9) Conclusion 2 restated: The lack of belief in a meaningful life does not provide a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

10) Conclusion 4 restated: The environment and predators typically only interact with the external changes to an organism.

Conclusion 5: The environment and predation are not the likely reason for why the lack of belief in a meaningful life does not provide a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

11) Suicides are typically driven by issues internal to the organism.

12) Suicides decrease the survivability advantage for the organism.

Conclusion 6: Suicides are a possible reason for the decrease of survivability of organisms due to internal issues.

13) Conclusion 2 restated: The lack of belief in a meaningful life does not provide a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

14) Conclusion 6 restated: Suicides are a possible reason for the decrease of the survivability of organisms due to internal issues.

Conclusion 7: It is possible that suicides are the reason that the lack of belief in a meaningful life does not provide a significant survivability advantage for the organism.

Now obviously given the above, suicide is the most likely explanation for why lack of belief in a meaningful existence has significant disadvantages over the belief that there is meaning in life. That is, the other possibilities for this belief being detrimental to the organism do not seem adequate to actually cause a decrease in survivability.

Again it should be pointed out that this does not prove that life is meaningful in reality; it merely says that the belief that life is meaningful grants a survivability advantage due to the fact there will be less likelihood of suicide under that position.


The Meaninglessness of the Subjective Meaning

Finally, I want to address the idea that Zilch has brought up repeatedly, namely that if something is meaningful for him then it really is meaningful. My argument is that subjective meaning is ultimately meaningless. To establish this claim, let me first draw out some further implications.

First, it is important to note that we need to view the system in its entirety. Zilch does not wish to do so, for he states (italics his):
And I differ with you, for the same reason: yes, the Universe as a whole has no meaning, just as the Universe as a whole is not alive. But there are parts of the Universe that are alive, and have meaning, because they have evolved.
And:
So you are saying that if the universe as a whole has no meaning, then no part of the universe can have meaning? That doesn't make sense- the universe as a whole is not iron or green or alive, but parts of it are iron or green or alive, no? Again, you are assuming that "meaning" is some sort of primal quality, like the laws of physics, and if the universe as a whole cannot be described as being "meaningful", then no part of it can be "meaningful" either.
So it is clear that Zilch is trying to compartmentalize the idea that on the whole the universe is meaningless, but in part it is meaningful. This meaning is (as established above) subjective meaning, not derived from the universe itself but rather an artifact of evolution.

The problem with Zilch’s concept is that we must view the universe as whole to determine whether our subjective meanings are actually meaningful or if they are merely delusional. To give a specific example of why this is important, consider the following analogy.

A man is walking down the street when he sees a car veer toward a group of deaf students. The man shouts out: “Get out of the way!” The deaf students do not hear him and are run over. Was the man’s warning in any way a meaningful warning?

No. The warning did not change the outcome at all. It had no effect on the course of events in the slightest. Seen in terms of the system as a whole, the man’s shout was completely irrelevant and therefore meaningless.

In the same way, an atheist decides that he wants to live for as long as he can, and he claims that this gives meaning to his life. But does it really do so? Even if he extends the length of his days, the end result of death is inevitable. It cannot be stopped forever. And furthermore, the end is identical regardless of how many days the person lives. In other words, for all the struggle for life that the atheist goes through, it changes nothing. It is as meaningless as shouting out a warning to deaf students because the end result is the same.

Those who are dead are dead regardless of the lives they lived. Whether one is a murderer or a virtuous saint makes no difference. Whether one lives ten minutes or a hundred thirty years makes no difference. Death is the great equalizer: all become identical in the grave.

Therefore, no matter what meaning you manufacture in your life, it is irrelevant.


One Final Word

Since Zilch is so adamant that I must be forcing theism into my arguments, I encourage all to examine again the basis of my arguments. The basis of subjective meaning is found in Zilch’s own words, not in theism. The basis of the suicide theory is found in the proposed concepts of evolution, not in theism. The basis of the meaninglessness of subjective choices is found in the fact that life does not extend forever, not in theism.

My arguments at no point smuggle in any God concepts at all. They are, in fact, intentionally devoid of them. These are not ideas that I believe in, because I do not hold to the presuppositions required to believe them. However, atheists do; yet despite this they do not wish to believe what their presuppositions would lead them to.

Rather than me inserting God concepts, it is the atheist who, faced with this philosophy, must steal from the Christian worldview in order to avoid the consequences. The atheist must assert that despite all evidence to the contrary, their sheer force of will is sufficient to establish real meaning. They have to ignore the fact that their idea of meaning is impotent. But it is not so much that they must ignore this, it is the very nature of how they must vehemently argue for their meaning that gives away the fact that they are smuggling in concepts.

The theist has reasons for defending meaning in the universe, not the atheist. But the atheist wants that meaning, so they hijack it without establishing it within their own worldview. The result is that atheistic meaning is a house of cards, a stolen concept devoid of a foundation.

Fire-proofing the damned

I’m going to complete a bit of unfinished business. Here’s what one of the brain donors over at Gregory MacDonald’s blog said in response to a post of mine:

Auggybendoggy said...

First thing is first...Learn to spell Steve… I don't see how in CU (christian universalism), believing in hell, leaves someone to persue [sic] a hellbound path… Where has Talbott or Mcdonald [sic] ever encouraged people to continue on a hellbound path…People don't want that for 10 seconds they sure as Hell (no pun intended) don't want it for a Millenium [sic]… I don't want my friends to go hell ANYMORE than I see them in it already...SEPERATED [sic] FROM GOD.

http://evangelicaluniversalist.blogspot.com/2008/07/steve-hays-responds.html

For someone who reproves me for misspelling, I can’t say that Auggy sets the most felicitous example. He should stick to theology.

On second thought, his theology is no improvement:

Where has Talbott or Mcdonald ever encouraged people to continue on a hellbound path…Ok, so many people like steve see it as inherent.__Perhaps I might explain, as I do with my "fellow men" at work._So you think hell is fun? Try this for starters. Go to a swimming pool full of water and drench yourself with lighter fluid. Take a match and light yourself on fire. Give it lets say....10 seconds. Ok, Ok, give it 5 seconds...Too long huh._What makes you think hell is just ok. __I think if Steve can do that little test then he might have a different perspective of 10 years in hell. How about 10,000 years._What about 1,000,000,000 years.__People don't want that for 10 seconds they sure as Hell (no pun intended) don't want it for a Millenium.

Several problems with this devastating counterargument to my position:

i) To my knowledge, MacDonald and Talbott don’t take the flames of hell literally. In that event, Auggy’s illustration fails to rebut my contention about MacDonald and Talbott. This example is an illustration of his assumptions rather than theirs.

ii) Auggy seems to think the lake of fire is a literal lava flow. If so, then unless the damned are made of asbestos, they couldn’t spend 10 years in hell. They’d incinerate on contact.

So that would illustrate annihilationism rather than universalism.

iii) Or does Auggy think the damned are fireproof? But, in that case, they might find a dip in the lake of fire quite refreshing.

Indeed, surfer dudes might find Auggy’s depiction of hell quite compelling. They could spend eternity riding the perfect wave.

At this rate I’m bracing myself for the sheer brilliance of Auggy’s follow-up objection.

Earmarks

One of the political issues that gets a lot of buzz these days is the issue of earmarks, which are a form of pork barrel spending. The unquestioned assumption is that pork barrel spending is a bad thing, and politicians who bring home the bacon are corrupt.

I agree with this to an extent, but the issue is somewhat complicated. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a politician trying to do something for the benefit of his constituents. After all, he was elected to represent their interests.

Of course, there are right and wrong ways to benefit your constituents, and some constituents are more deserving than others.

But it’s always funny when pundits automatically attack a politician for “pandering” to his constituents.

The problem is not so much with pork barrel spending, per se, but with an underlying problem, of which pork barrel spending is merely symptomatic. Why do we have pork barrel spending in the first place? For a couple of related reasons:

i) The Federal income tax siphons a lot of money away from state taxpayers. Pork barrel spending is just a way of getting back a fraction of what Uncle Sam took from us in the first place.

ii) The whole point of the graduated income tax is income redistribution. Take from those who have more and give to those who have less. Spread the wealth around.

The only way to eliminate pork barrel spending is to slash the Federal budget and trash the Federal income tax.

Unless and until those two things are done, pork barrel spending is the inevitable result of a systemic problem.

Unfortunately, I don’t see either happening in the foreseeable future.

This brings me to a related issue: lobbyists. We’re told that lobbyists corrupt the political system by, in effect, bribing politicians to write sympathetic legislation.

There’s some truth to that charge, but—once again—it’s merely symptomatic of an underlying problem.

If gov’t weren’t so expansive and intrusive, we wouldn’t have such a stake in what gov’t does for us, to us, or against us.

That’s why lobbyists pour money into campaigns to gain access and curry favor.

The only way to eliminate this influence is to scale back the scope of gov’t.

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future, either.

Self-spiting liberalism

Roger Ebert doesn’t like Sarah Palin. Among other things, he says “I trust the American people will see through Palin, and save the Republic in November. The most damning indictment against her is that she considered herself a good choice to be a heartbeat away. That shows bad judgment.”

At one level, his reaction is entirely predictable. As a member of the liberal establishment, he mirrors the groupthink of his social circle. Indeed, there seems to be a roll call vote underway, in which members of the liberal establishment must renew their membership and reaffirm their liberal bona fides by the ritual stoning of Sarah Palin.

But at another level his reaction is deeply ironic. Of course, the irony is lost on him. Ironic, I say, because—for the last several years—Ebert has suffered debilitating complications from thyroid cancer. And he recently broke his hip.

If the eugenic culture which targets Terri Schiavo and little Trig had its way, people like Ebert would be weeded out.

Of course, if you swear by liberal orthodoxy, and you’re rich enough not to be a “burden” on anyone (e.g. Robert Ebert, Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox), then the liberal establishment will turn you into a posterboy for its eugenic agenda (e.g. stem cell research). But once the eugenic regime is firmly ensconced, even defective celebrities will lose their market value.

(Incidentally, one wonders how dependent Ebert may already be on the kindness of Catholic doctors and nurses who will be voting for Palin.)

A man in Ebert’s condition should be gratified to have someone like Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Welcoming and defending children

From Gilbert Meilaender:
[Christians] seek daily to learn how to see the whole of life in the light of God's creative and redemptive activity. The life of the child in the womb is God's creation, and that child is part of the world Christ came to redeem. The worth and dignity of the child's life are not therefore dependent on our evaluation -- on whether at any given moment we "want" that child. Indeed, both before and after birth parents' feelings may vacillate -- as they sometimes want and at other times do not want their children. That the rabbis understood this well is nicely captured in a few sentences by David Feldman:
The Bible prescribes that an offering be brought to the sanctuary by the woman following childbirth (Lev. 12:6). Its purpose, explains the Talmud, is to atone for a vow never meant to be kept: When birth pangs were severe, she presumably vowed "never again"; a while later she would forget that oath; satisfaction had dispelled anxiety.
Our continuing task, therefore, is to struggle to bring our judgments and feelings into accord with God's action -- to let our estimate of the child be shaped and formed by God's.

Seriously to attempt this is to learn our limits. We do not, ultimately, fashion the conditions of our life; rather, we live under God's mysterious but providential governance. The unexpected -- and even the unwanted -- events of life are occasions and opportunities for hearing the call of God and responding faithfully. Sometimes, perhaps often, this will mean that we take up tasks and burdens we had not anticipated or desired, and they in turn may bring a certain measure of suffering. Within the community of the church, of course, we ought to seek to bear each other's burdens, and too often we fail to do so. But even when we think we suffer alone, we do not, since God has taken that suffering into his own life.

To counsel the acceptance of the unwanted -- acceptance even of the suffering it brings -- is not to encourage mothers or fathers to be "victims." Rather, it is to call for the strength that virtuous action requires. One need not be a Christian to agree with Socrates that it is better to suffer evil than to do it, but certainly Christians should understand such a claim. If we seek to save ourselves by doing away with the child who is unwanted, we hand ourselves over to the destructive powers of the world in an attempt to avoid them, and we act as if those powers are ultimately worthy of our worship, as if they could save. We take our stand, it is sobering to realize, beside King Herod after he heard the news the Magi brought. That is not, I think, where, finally, we want to be.
From John Frame:
Arguably the unborn are the weakest, poorest, most helpless people that there are. They have no political or economic strength, not even voices to plead their own cause. They are under vicious attack today by the dominant forces of society: the educational establishment, the media, and the government, including the courts, which should be demanding justice. Even the most influential ethical thought of modern society stands against them.

And the most terrible part of this is that these children are under attack from their own mothers. God's plan is that the parents of a child should be his defenders. Our tradition regards a mother's love for her child as something very deep, indeed fierce in its defense of the child's life. The mother is the child's last line of defense. If the mother forsakes her child, who will help? Who indeed? Psalm 27:10 gives the answer: "My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in." Isaiah speaks in horror about the possibility that a mother might forget her child. But, through Isaiah, God says, "Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you" (49:15). God is the helper of the poor, the husband of the widow, the father of the fatherless. He cares about those for whom the world has no care. And he calls his people to be his agents: "Seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (Isa. 1:17). The unborn represent humanity in its most helpless form, under merciless attack. They have, therefore, a unique claim upon the mercy of God's people.

A separate and unique human being

Excerpted from The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame (pp. 725-726):
The relevant scientific data confirm the argument from Scripture that unborn children are persons. From the point of conception, unborn children have a full complement of chromosomes, half from the father and half from the mother. Therefore, the unborn child is not "part of his mother's body." His genetic makeup is different from hers. So we should not treat the unborn child as we treat hair or fingernails, or even as we treat organs like the gall bladder or liver. The unborn child is a separate and unique human being.

It is also true that the unborn child is dependent on his mother life support: oxygen, nutrition, and immunity. In this sense, the unborn child is similar to the parts of the mother's body. But this dependence is not essential to his existence. Technology has been able to provide life support for very young fetuses, and it is certainly possible that future technology will be able to support the embryo/fetus through the whole gestation period. Furthermore, even after birth children are dependent on adults for life support. So dependence does not count against the independent personhood of the child.

It is also significant that science is no more able than theology to pinpoint a time during gestation at which the unborn becomes a person. There is no point at which a mere physical collection of cells turns into a person with a right to life. The various points that have been suggested -- implantation, detectable heartbeat, detectable brainwaves, quickening, viability, and ability to feel pain -- are significant developments, but none of them persuasively marks a transition from nonpersonhood to personhood.

. . . But I would caution readers that this is not fundamentally a scientific issue. The chief issue here is the personhood of the unborn, for that conveys a right to life. Personhood is a metaphysical, religious, theological, and ethical category, not a scientific one. There are no scientific observations or experiments that can detect a difference between a person and a nonperson. To reason from scientific premises alone to a conclusion about the rightness or wrongness of abortion is therefore to commit the naturalistic fallacy.

. . . [I]n my judgment the religious dimension cannot be escaped. Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) gives us an adequate argument against the sin of abortion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now Can We Move On?

Turretinfan notes:

David Ponter writes: "What is clear now, beyond any doubt whatsoever, is that the doctrine of unlimited atonement was a Reformed doctrine. The evidence now is of such efficacy that only a proverbial fool would insist otherwise." (source)
My commentary:

I don't know about everybody else, but I sure am glad that's been cleared up at last. (Oh, and thanks for telling those of us who differ that we're fools - I really appreciate that). So, now that the issue is finally settled, can we now look forward to some posts from that side of the aisle that actually demonstrate they actually believe what they say they believe?

As TF has also noted:

He is in a position to do research on so many more useful issues - issues that actually would help to defend the gospel from false gospels: issues on which apparently he and we Calvinists are in agreement.
Indeed. I've said this for quite sometime now. While some of these folks twitter on about the scope of the atonement, it's mighty hard to find some of their leaders actually interacting with the atheist, the Romanist, the Orthodox, the Muslim, the Mormon, the Arian, etc. Meanwhile those of us called by various perjorative terms are now doing, and have been doing for quite some time that work. Personally, I've always found that odd. We're told we're too restrictive on our views of the atonement, while they are so very expansive, but we're the ones, not them, who are doing the work of evangelism and apologetics on the internet. Well, then, now that the issue has apparently been settled so that the rest of us are just "proverbial fools," perhaps we will actually see that trend reverse in the near future. I surely do hope that will be the case.

Ersatz ecclesiology

BILLZUCK SAID:

“It is true that house, church, and pillar and foundation do not have articles. While in the case of house the article might have been incorporated into the preposition, the others are predicate nominatives and normally would not receive the article in any case.”

In which case the construction is neutral. You can’t simply assume that it should be rendered “the” church.

“These terms are generics that indicate what the object is, not the object itself…Therefore these generic terms cannot be reduced to the local church at Ephesus.”

True, since generic terms can designate many things beside a church. A Greek temple has pillars. Therefore, is a Greek temple a pillar of truth?

A private residence is also a “house.” Therefore, is a private residence a pillar of truth?

Your argument either proves too much or too little.

“They rather designate the genus to which Ehesus is a species. This is elementary greek logic which Paul would have learned in Tarsus which was a university town only second to Alexandria.”

As we’ve just seen, that inference doesn’t follow from your own argument. I trust that Paul was a better logician than you are.

“Since this is instruction to Timothy and Paul sends him to work in many churches, e.g. 1Thess.3:2, it must be applicable in every place he goes to minister. Ephesus is not the only church so we cannot restrict this terminology to a description of Ephesus alone. I conclude that the pillar is the church as such.”

You’re not paying attention to what I’ve said. I made the point that the referent of 1 Tim 3:15 is the church of Ephesus.

Did I deny that Paul’s imagery is applicable to other local churches? No. But you can’t simply pluck 1 Tim 3:15 out of context and reassign it to the modern church of Rome. That isn’t exegeting the text.

“The church is that body of which Christ is the head (Col.1:18,24) and all baptized people are members (1Cor.6:11,15; 12:13,27).”

Are baptized apostates members of the church?

“This body is one body (1Cor.12:13; Col.3:15; Eph.4:4) and all are members one of another (Rom.12:5). Christ and His Church are thus one whole Christ (see 1Cor12:12-13).”

One of your problems is that you equate the meaning of a word with the meaning of a concept. The “church” has acquired many connotations over the last two millennia. But Paul is using ekklesia as a synonym for the OT congregation (or assembly) of the Lord.

“This body is visible because the sacraments by which it is constituted are visible.”

Even if I accepted your Catholic sacramentology, that has absolutely nothing to do with the exegesis of 1 Tim 3:15.

“The local churches are all parts of one visible church because the bread which they all bless and break is a participation of the Body of Christ, and all who partake of that one bread become one bread and one body.”

Not only is that acontextual, but it’s counter to the text. You’ve now defined the church in sacramental terms rather than alethic terms. Paul said a pillar of truth, not a pillar of the Mass.

“Thus all the churches are one visible catholic church and Timothy is to conduct himself in this way in all the churches that are the church of the living God which is the pillar and foundation ofthe truth.”

Paul says nothing about “one visible catholic church,” so your gloss is superimposed on the text rather than derived from the text.

BTW, why should anyone care how you interpret 1 Tim 3:15? Do you speak for the Magisterium? Did the Vatican appoint you to be its point man?

The rivers of Eden

SHEPHERD BOY SAID:

“At the risk of stating the obvious, wouldn't a worldwide Flood eradicate all traces of these four antediluvian rivers? Such a catastrophe would've utterly rearranged the topology of the earth, I think.”

I don’t know that a global flood would eradicate all trace of preexisting rivers. Your statement contains a number of unspoken assumptions which we’d have to explore.

As you know, rivers are, themselves, a major source of flooding. In river valleys, the rivers often overflow their banks during the snowmelt, or due to heavy rain upstream, and flood the surrounding land. They then revert. Parts of Bible history are, themselves, situated on floodplains like Mesopotamia and the Nile River valley. Riverine flooding doesn’t obliterate the rivers which are the medium of such flooding.

i) Presumably you think a global flood, due to its great scale, would obliterate preexisting rivers. Are you attributing that to diluvial erosion?

If so, I think that would depend, in part, on the flood mechanism or drainage mechanism we postulate, as well as the rate of inundation or drainage.

As you know, the Bible cites two flood mechanisms: rain and the “fountains of the deep.” The latter expression is considered to be “poetic,” so we have to speculate on what is literally in view.

Does torrential rain obliterate rivers? Not in my experience. Also, once the land is submerged to a certain depth, isn’t there a difference between the water action at or near the surface and the water action near the riverbed?

What about the “fountains of the deep.” Doesn’t that suggest coastal flooding? Wouldn’t that involve a more gentle and gradual action? Does rising water have the same erosive power as running water?

I’d add that some rivers are tidal rivers. Because they feed into the sea, the sea level affects the river level. High tide raises the river level as seawater backs up into the river channel.

Drainage can obviously be erosive, but that also depends on the rate of runoff. And, of course, rivers are both natural flood mechanisms as well as natural drainage mechanisms.

Gen 1:9 suggest orogeny. The dry land was formed by rising out of the sea. Hills and mountains form natural barriers to flooding. God could flood the earth by reversing the process. Lowering the mountain passes. Or breaching them—like a breach in a dike or a dam.

How much water is needed to inundate the earth would, of course, depend on how high above sea level the high ground lies. There are two ways of flooding the earth. Raising the sea level or lowering the high ground.

It doesn’t take much water to inundate a river valley or flood plain since the dry land is low-lying. The Bible doesn’t give us much information, so many scenarios are possible.

ii) Or were you suggesting that the pressure of the water at extreme depths would obliterate the preexisting riverbanks?

If so, this assumes that the floodwaters were extremely deep. As I’ve just suggested, that isn’t the only alternative—even for a global flood.

Also, we’ve all seen pictures of (or read about) seabeds where, despite the immense pressures, the ocean floor isn’t flattened out like a steamroller. Indeed, some rather delicate looking creatures survive down there.

Likewise, does standing water have the same erosive power as running water?

I’m not a hydrologist or geologist, so I can’t give you expert answers. I’m just suggesting some of the variables that you’d need to factor into your answer.

“I understand that there is some disagreement among scholars regarding whether the Noahic flood was global or local, but it seems ridiculous to have Noah spend 120 years building an ark to avoid a flood he could simply walk away from.”

i) Scholars disagree on whether the 120-year figure has reference to the interval between the divine warning and its execution or else a general lowering of the human lifespan.

ii) It’s also easy for us to forget that the ark, while functional, is not a practical necessity.

a) For one thing, if God can miraculously spare Daniel’s friends from incinerating heat, or sustain Jonah in the belly of the “whale,” then he doesn’t need an ark to preserve Noah and his family—or a variety of fauna.

In fact, God often does things which are not strictly necessary to make a point. Consider the rigmarole of the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. God could have liberated the Israelites by a far more efficient means.

But he was using very dramatic methods to score symbolic points. To humiliate the cult of Pharaoh. To ridicule Egyptian mythology.

Yes, in the case of local flood, Noah would be able escape if God simply told him that on such-and-such a date, he was going to inundate the area. But that wouldn’t illustrate the principle of divine deliverance.

b) In addition, the purpose of the ark is more than merely utilitarian. It’s a symbolic craft. A floating temple. A microcosm of the cosmic temple. As one scholar explains:

“What is now to be observed is that the design of the ark suggests that it to was intended to be a symbolic representation of God’s kingdom in this cosmic house form. For the ark, however, seaworthy, was fashioned like a house rather than like a sailing vessel. All the features mentioned in the description of the ark belong to the architecture of a house: the three stories, the door, the window. More specifically, these architectural features of the ark match up with features in creation’s cosmic house as that it figuratively envisaged in various biblical passages, including the flood narrative itself.”

“The three stories of the ark correspond to the three stories of the world conceptualized as divided into the heaven above, the earth beneath, and the sphere under the earth, associated especially with the waters (cf. e.g., Exod 20:4; Deut 4:16ff.; Rom 1:23). Possibly the idea of three such zones is reinforced by the animal lists which classify the creatures in the ark as birds of the heaven, cattle and beasts of the earth, and the creeping things of the ground (Gen 6:7,20; 7:23; 8:17; cf. 7:14,21; 8:19). The third category, the creeping things, might have special reference here to burrowing creatures whose subterranean world would then have been substituted for the sphere of the waters under the earth as the lowest level of the ark-cosmos. Or does the narrative intend the correspondence of the first story of the ark to the waters under the earth to be suggested simply by the fact that this lowest part of the ark was actually submerged under the waters of the flood?”

"Clearly, the window of the ark is the counterpart to ‘the window of heaven,’ referred to in this very narrative (7:11; 8:2). Appropriately, the window area is located along the top of the ark, as part of the upper (heavenly) story. One is naturally led then to compare the door of the ark with the door that shuts up the depths of the sea, holding back its proud waves. (For this cosmological imagery see Job 38:8-11.) Precisely such a restraining of the mighty surge of waters was the function of the door of the ark, once the Lord had secured it about the occupants of the ark at the outset of the deluge. Together, the window and door of the ark mirrored the two cosmic sources of the floodwaters, the window of heaven, opened to unleash the torrents of the waters above the earth, and the door of the deep, unbarred to let the waters beneath the earth break loose.”

“Another indication of the cosmic house symbolism of the ark is that it is God himself who reveals its design. Elsewhere when God provides an architectural plan it is for his sanctuary-house, whether the tabernacle or temple (Exod 25:ff. 1 Chron 28:19; Heb 9:5; cf. Ezk 40ff.; Rev 21:10ff.). As the architect of the original creation, who alone comprehends its structure in all its vast dimensions (cf. Job 38), God alone can disclose the pattern for these microcosmic models,” M. Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 225-27.

http://www.god-centered.com/resources/kingdomprologue.pdf

So even if the flood was a local flood, you could still have an ark like Noah’s ark—for emblematic reasons.

“With regard to tracing the ancient names, isn't it reasonable to assume that Noah's descendants may have named features of the post-Flood landscape after those destroyed by the Flood?”

i) Yes, it’s possible to name new places by reusing old place names. When Englishmen colonized parts of North America, they named some of the towns they founded after some of the towns they left behind. But that’s a case of using the same names for different landmarks. I don’t see how that fits the context of Gen 2:10-14.

The primeval rivers are part of the antediluvian landscape. That’s the address of Eden.

Yet the narrator is writing long after the flood. He’s using names for landmarks which his audience would recognize. Telling them where Eden was located.

Doesn’t that imply continuity between the status quo ante and the status quo quem? It’s not using old names for a new location. It’s naming an old location, citing the original landmarks as coordinates.

ii) Moreover, Mesopotamia is a natural flood plain. So a reader who’s acquainted with Mesopotamia might well associate the flood with local conditions. The Tigris and Euphrates (among others) are indigenous flood mechanisms.

iii) Furthermore, that would also explain why the ark came to rest in the same region (Gen 8:4). The waters receded in the same general area where they originally arose—since the same rivers also serve as natural drainage mechanisms.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Search Engine 101 for Mr. Garrett

Apparently, Stephen Garrett, one of Bob Ross' acolytes has problems using search engines.

Exhibit 1


Exhibit 2


James White has addressed the latter. I shall now address the former.

Mr. Garrett, writes:

Charles and Bob have done plenty of writing and "exegeting" scriptures that disprove Hyperism.


Good for you! I, of course, am no hyper-Calvinist. So, how does exegeting texts that refute hyperism affect anything I have stated?

Has Gene commented each time in refutation?
No, do I need to do so? There is a vast literature on the subject. Further, Charles simply isn't on my radar, not now, and not in 2 years. The only reason you are on my radar now is because you have chosen to be a follower of this blog. Are you, I wonder, following this blog in order to stir up more strife? If so, it won't work. I would rather spend my time on issues other than those I was addressing two years ago. Indeed, I have little time to deal with people online who are more concerned about being Baptist than being Christian. I've stated before that such a way of thinking is just as poisonous to Baptists and the wider Church in general as is harping on the doctrines of grace 24/7, or the scope of the atonement, etc. can be. I am Baptist and I am Reformed, but I am not obsessed with either one. I will defend my sacramentology and soteriology when I feel it is necessary, but I will not get involved in the crypto-Landmarkism that is creeping into Baptist life once again. Anybody who knows me knows how I feel about that.

That said, I have addressed Mr. Ross and Charles, according to the dashboard from which I compose articles for this blog, no less than 10 times, eleven times, if we include Sam Hughley's guest blog, and that is just from this blog alone . I have also addressed him at the Strange Baptist Fire blog.

Because Mr. Ross, like Charles, has proven himself to be unteachable, incorrigible, and uncorrectable, I have long since relegated him to the status of the factious man of Titus 3. If Mr. Garrett had bothered to check the archives of this blog, he would know that. Ergo, until the other day, and related to a completely different subject, I haven't felt the need to address Ross in about 2 years. I also know, and Mr. Garrett may not, of others who have tried to deal privately with Mr. Ross over the past few years, but to no avail. They have received largely the same sort of treatment from him as have Dr. White and myself. Sorry, but I don't have time for that. If the local churches to which Charles and Ross belong will not discipline them or if they have made the attempt and been ignored for all I know, then there isn't anything more I can do. There is no presbytery to which I can make an appeal, and, since I live several states from either of these men, I have no desire to appeal to their associations, particularly since the answer is likely, in this age, to be "these churches are autonomous, so we can't help you."

This is a good place to pause for a moment and make a wider point. Awhile back in talking about the Crypto-Amyraldians on the internet who delight in little more than posting about the scope of the atonement I noted that if these people really believed what they believed, in their case about the scope of the atonement, then they needed to demonstrate it by rolling up their sleeves and interacting, as we do regularly here, with the Romanists, the Orthodox, the atheists, the Mormons, etc. Instead, when we go to their blogs, we find little else but constant harping on us or the scope of the atonement. If you really believe what you believe, demonstrate it. The same goes for Charles, Mr. Garrett, and Mr. Ross. If you three really believe what you believe about soteriology, then get off your high horse about Founders, James White, myself, and others who differ with you and demonstrate what you believe by interacting with the atheist, the Orthodox, the Romanist, etc. on your blogs. Dare I say, you won't find that at the Flyswatter or the BaptistGadly. Instead, what you find are endless, pointless, and largely ignored by us (for reasons explained above) posts that do little but seek to stir up strife. Occasionally, they'll interact with an Arminian (to their credit), but I don't see them doing what Dr. White and his team do or we do here. In other words, it's time for them to demonstrate they can do more than criticize their brothers. If they can't - or won't - then we have no reason to conclude that they want to do nothing more than stir up strife - something the crypto-Amyraldians are not guilty of doing, I might add.


Indeed, Mr. Ross continues to spew the same material repetitively as if nobody has answered him. Often, he moves from one topic (the relationship between regeneration and faith) to another (Paedobaptism), as if one necessarily entails the other or if belief in one entails affirmation of the other.

Speaking of lies, let's see what Mr. Garrett has cooked up:

He quotes me as follows:

"Regeneration is distinct from salvation in that it leads directly to conversion, which leads to justification leading to the others."


He then comments:
Is this so? Is this not a bunch of nonsense? Does it not deny that regeneration = salvation? Not only does the "ordo polutis" of Gene create the monstrosity of a "regenerated unbeliever," but also a "regenerated yet condemned" unbeliever! What kind of "regeneration" is it that does not convert, save, or justify?
How did what I wrote lead to the concept of a "regenerated unbeliever?" Mr. Garrett, a graduate I see Wingate University, apparently needs to retake English 101 with either Dr. Little-Sweat or Dr. Christopher, if they are still teaching, for he suffers from a case of reading incomprehension.

Is regeneration the same as "salvation?" No, "salvation" is a much wider concept. It can include "regeneration," it may include others concepts. In context, I am, of course referring to Charles' (and others') continued misuse of theological terminology. To refer to "regeneration" as if it is the same thing as "salvation" is simply sloppy.

Did I say anything about regeneration not leading to conversion, and directly so? NO. That's exactly the opposite of what I wrote. I said it leads directly to conversion, and then justification, and "others" (eg. other aspects of "salvation").

In fact, I have been over this with Mr. Ross and his followers several times. I guess Mr. Garrett needs to have it spelled out one more time:

A. This is the current dominant expression. Regeneration defined in 2 ways/senses.

Narrow sense: The work of regeneration itself is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. This expresses the actual phenomenology of God Himself regenerating, God’s own work defined as resurrecting the lost soul to life.” He operates immediately upon the heart to prepare the way for the truth… The Scripture attributes the birth to the will of God exclusively, thus showing that in some aspect it is not to be regarded as due to the reception of the truth. John 1:13. “(James Boyce, Abstract of Theology, Regeneration and Conversion).

Broad sense:
The entire process leading up to a saving profession of faith and even continuing on (as a person is considered to be regenerate). Thus, this broader view is, functionally, the first view (eg. the one held by Dr. Masters). This expresses the broader psychology of the person, the object of God’s regenerating work. This usage may encompass all that leads up to the actual moment of conversion, or it may include that which follows (the fruits of regeneration itself, e.g. a regenerated person is a regenerate person; we know he is regenerate because of the fruit his life shows). James Boyce, stated it this way, “The Spirit acts mediately through the word.” (ibid)

So, Regeneration, in its strictest sense, refers solely to the Holy Spirit’s work in the sub-conscious life of man: “by a creative word God generates the new life, changing the inner disposition of the soul, illuminating the mind, rousing the feelings, and renewing the will. In this act of God the ear is implanted that enables man to hear the call of God to the salvation of his soul.” Regeneration in its broadest sense refers to what occurs when the regenerated heart comes in contact with the gospel and the Holy Spirit effectively applies God’s word to the mind.

B. Order: External and effectual call-This encompasses instruction in the gospel, the means of grace, conviction, knowledge of the true God, personal sin, guilt and condemnation, sorrow for sin, and knowledge of Christ as Savior. (This expresses the broader psychology). The Holy Spirit then brings this person over into spiritual life (the immediate phenomenonlogy), then they believe, repent, and are justified, and begin living the Christian life (back to the broader psychology).

Robert Reymond even gives this order in his New Systematic Theology (771) in discussing the order of salvation: Two divine acts. 1. Effectual call, via (2) regeneration. The result is 2 human acts: (3) repentance and (4) faith.

When it is said that “regeneration precedes faith,” theologians articulating this view are referring to the narrow sense (the phenomenology of God’s sovereign agency), not the broader psychology and process. Thus, they tend to divide View 1 (Dr. Masters’ view) above up and express it in terms of: Calling (External and internal/effectual, inclusive of elements 1 to 6 above), Regeneration (God’s immediate agency), and Conversion (repentance and faith).

Diagramed it looks like this:

External and Internal (Effectual) Calling (encompasses instruction in the gospel/Word of God, the means of grace, conviction, knowledge of the true God, personal sin, guilt and condemnation, sorrow for sin, and knowledge of Christ as Savior.) (May or may not take a short or long time) This is underwritten by the Holy Spirit striving with the soul of the person, which is what makes the call “effectual.”*

-leads to-/by way of-

Regeneration (the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit and the individual’s passing from spiritual death to spiritual life)

-leads to—

Conversion (immediate Faith and Repentance) The analogy is that he is born, and like a baby cries and breathes so does he.

*Some like Berkhof state that the external call precedes regeneration, then the effectual call results and then follows conversion. John Murray makes regeneration the link between effectual call and conversion as diagrammed above. Either view falls well within this second view of the order.

In regeneration in the broader sense the implantation of the incorruptible seed, the changing of the heart, the drawing power of the triune God, and the external call of the gospel all come together and give birth to the converted soul, who believes, repents, and is justified.

In Presbyterianism and some Reformed Baptist theology you find that except in the case of elect infants, elect imbeciles, and John the Baptist (Lk. 1:41-44) regeneration always accompanies either the preached word, the written Word, or an intellectual knowledge of the gospel held in the mind received in the past. There are people who hear or read the gospel who immediately are regenerated and saved, and there are people who hear the gospel for years and know it intellectually but who are not saved until the Holy Spirit comes and opens their eyes spiritually.

C. Time factor:

(a)External and Effectual calling, as defined above: may take any amount of time, short or long on a case by case basis.

(b) With respect to the time of conversion itself: Regeneration itself in, the narrow sense, (the Spirit’s giving of New Life) is immediate and immediately followed by repentance and faith (conversion) such that (emphasis mine):

“The very first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith; as the first conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened is seeing.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, 41).

REGENERATION is an act of God originating by a new creation a new spiritual life in the heart of the subject. The first and instant act of that new creature, consequent upon his regeneration, is FAITH, or a believing, trusting embrace of the person and work of Christ. Upon the exercise of faith by the regenerated subject, JUSTIFICATION is the instant act of God, on the ground of that perfect righteousness which the sinner’s faith has apprehended, declaring him to be free from all condemnation and to have a legal right to the relations and benefits secured by the covenant which Christ has fulfilled in his behalf. A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, Chapter 34, available here: http://www.reformed.org/books/aa_hodge/outlines/chapter34.html

and

This is not a question of order in time, because regeneration and justification are gracious acts of God absolutely synchronous. The question is purely as to the true order of causation; Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us that we may believe, or is it imputed to us because we believe? Is justification an analytic judgment, that the man is justified as a believer though a sinner, or is it a synthetic judgment, that this sinner is justified for Christ’s sake ? (A.A. Hodge, Ibid.)

“The immediate effect of the divine regeneration of the soul is that the sinner now abhors his sin that he once loved and trusts in Christ for his salvation.”(Boyce and Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace, 149)

When speaking of the order of salvation (ordo salutis), Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith. Regeneration precedes faith because it is a necessary condition for faith. Indeed it the sine qua non of faith. It is important to understand, however, that the order of salvation refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order. For example, when we say that justification is by faith, we do not mean that faith occurs first, and then we are justified at some late time. We believe that at the very moment faith is present, justification occurs. There is no time lapse between faith and justification. They occur simultaneously. Why then do we say that faith precedes justification? Faith precedes justification in a logical sense, not a temporal sense. Justification is logically dependent on faith, not faith on justification. We do not have faith because we are justified; we are justified because we have faith.

Similarly when Reformed theology says regeneration precedes faith, it is speaking in terms of logical priority, not temporal priority. We cannot exercise saving faith until we have been regenerated, so we say faith is dependent on regeneration, not regeneration on faith. (R.C. Sproul, Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology,, 2000 edition, 195).

D. Engagement of mind: Active in “calling” elements. The soul itself is said to be passive with respect to the Holy Spirit’s resurrecting power itself. The mind itself is actively engaged in instruction, conviction, sorrow, etc. (the calling elements), culminating with repentance and faith due to the Holy Spirit’s striving with the soul.

E. Use of means: In the narrow usage, referring to the Holy Spirit’s actual phenomenological task of resurrecting the unbeliever’s soul to new life, there is no means as such, it is His work alone. Means are “preparations” for this work of grace but not the work itself. In the broader sense, however, means are used as preparations and given orientation to the new convert’s spiritual life, because the narrow meaning does not occur independently of the means of grace (the gospel in particular), in order for them to repent and believe. Thus, in this broader sense: Primary: Word of God, Secondary: circumstances, etc. This is God’s ordinary means (emphasis mine):

God’s call is made effectual by the Word and the Spirit. It is important to see that the Word and the Spirit are here conjoined as two vital factors of regeneration. The Holy Spirit is not working apart from the Word or against the Word, but with the Word. Nor is the Word working alone without the presence and power of the Spirit.

The call referred to in effectual calling is not the outward call of the gospel that can be heard by anyone within range of the preaching. The call referred to here is the inward call, the call that penetrates to and pierces the heart, quickening it to spiritual life. Hearing the gospel enlightens the mind, yet it does not awaken the soul until the Holy Spirit illuminates it and regenerates it. This move from ear to soul is made by the Holy Spirit. This move is what accompanies God’s purpose of applying the benefits of Christ’ work to the elect. (Ibid., 190 -191).

Apart from the Word, there is no salvation and no activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people. Where the Word is rightly preached, the Spirit is active in power. Where the Word is not rightly preached, the Spirit is not active in power. It is impossible to have a place in which the Word is preached clearly (as the proclamation of Christ), where the Spirit is absent in his power and saving strength. It is equally impossible for the Spirit to be actively present if the preaching of Christ is not the central focus. (Michael Horton, Receiving Christ, In The Face of God, http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/horton/ReceivingChrist
.html )

A person perishing without having heard the gospel (such as the “heathen”) and being converted, with the possible exception of those dying in infancy, perishes in their sins, cut off from God, under the presumptive judgment of God in this life. Ergo, we must do missions and evangelism in order to reach the lost. Some (Boyce, Abstract of Theology, Ch.32: cf: http://www.founders.org/library/boyce1/ch32.html) hold out the possibility that God can regenerate a person to motivate them to pray for more revelation through a missionary.

V. The relation of regeneration to conversion will, therefore, appear to be one of invariable antecedence.

Wherever the appropriate truth is at the time present its relation is almost that of producing cause, for the prepared heart at once receives the truth. Hence, as this is so generally the case, they have been usually regarded as contemporaneous and by some even as identical. But that regeneration is the invariable antecedent is seen,

1. From the fact that the heart is the soil in which the seed, the word of God, is sown, and that seed only brings forth fruit in the good soil. The heart is made good soil by regeneration.

2. Regeneration (as in infants) may exist without faith and repentance, but the latter cannot exist without the former. Therefore, regeneration precedes.

3. Logically the enabling act of God must, in a creature, precede the act of the creature thus enabled. But this logical antecedence involves actual antecedence, or the best conceptions of our mind deceive us and are not reliable. For this logical antecedence exists only because the mind observes plainly a perceived dependence of the existence of the one on the other. But such dependence demands, if not causal, at least antecedent existence. Here it is only antecedent.
VI. There is not only antecedence, but in some cases an appreciable interval.

1. This is true even of conversion regarded as a mere turning to God. Between it and regeneration must intervene in some cases some period of time until the knowledge of God’s existence and nature is given, before the heart turns, or even is turned towards that God.

(1.) This must be true of all infants and of all persons otherwise incapable of responsibility, as for example idiots.

(2.) There is no reason why it should not be true of some heathen. The missionaries of the cross have been sought by men, who knew nothing of Christianity, but whose hearts, unsatisfied with the religion of their fathers, were restlessly seeking for what their soul was crying out.

In such cases, God ensures that they receive the gospel itself through a missionary. Boyce takes this from missions reports. This is an exception, not the rule, and it is speculative.

F. Causality: Regeneration precedes their actual faith by causing it. It is monergisitic.

G. Held by: Princeton/Westminister Presbyterians, early Southern Baptist writing theologians (Boyce, Dagg, et.al.) , late 18th century theologians, some 17th century theologians (Turretin), 20th century theologians, majority of current American traditional Calvinists (Sov. Grace/Reformed Baptists, OPC, PCA, etc.), some Progressive Primitives. This is, currently, the dominant parlance.

This critics have stated that this position “denies the use of means.

This is the same “direct operation” palabber taught by the pedo-regenerationist theologians Shedd, Berkhof, and R. C. Sproul, and other preachers such as James White, Scott Morgan of the Founders, Gene Bridges, Tom Schreiner of the Southern Seminary, and others who advocate “Reformed” theology according to the Berkhof theology book.

None of them has given evidence that they believe that the Word of God is an instrumentality in the “quickening” work of the Spirit in regeneration or the New Birth, contrary to the Creedal Calvinism of all the Calvinistic Confessions of Faith. See: http://www.carthage.lib.il.us/community/churches/primbap/BradleyProgressive.html

By way of reply: Where in this view is means denied? Nowhere.

God’s call is made effectual by the Word and the Spirit. It is important to see that the Word and the Spirit are here conjoined as two vital factors of regeneration. The Holy Spirit is not working apart from the Word or against the Word, but with the Word. Nor is the Word working alone without the presence and power of the Spirit. (Sproul, Ibid.)

While regeneration is a sovereign act of God according to election, it is an encouraging fact both for the sinner and the preacher of the word that God’s regenerating grace is commonly bestowed where the preparatory work is performed. This is the rule, under the gospel dispensation. He who reads and meditates upon the word of God is ordinarily enlightened by the Holy Ghost, perhaps in the very act of reading, or hearing, or meditating. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word,” Acts 10 : 44. He who asks for regenerating grace may be regenerated perhaps in the act of praying. God has appointed certain human acts whereby to make ready the heart of man for the divine act. Without attentive reading and hearing of the word, and prayer, the soul is not a fit subject for regenerating grace. (Shedd, Regeneration, cf: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/Shedd_Regeneration.html

These individuals have claimed that this view affirms that regeneration can exist without faith and/or that faith is not considered to immediately accompany regeneration. How is this criticism then true?

“The very first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith; as the first conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened is seeing.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 41).

“The immediate effect of the divine regeneration of the soul is that the sinner now abhors his sin that he once loved and trusts in Christ for his salvation.”(Boyce and Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace, 149)

It should be apparent that View 1 can comfortably subsist within View 2 as subset expression or vice versa. Likewise, they are functionally equivalent expressions. There is no “Hardshell Doctrine” to be found here, none whatsoever. The only thing equivalent is the axiom that regeneration precedes faith, but this has always been the view expressed by the Reformed community. This is, it seems, why these critics have to change the subject to infant regeneration. That, however, is a separate issue (see below).

Source


Also:

When I say “regeneration precedes faith,” I am simply stating that their relationship causal and logical, if it is temporal it implies nothing of the interval, and I would affirm it in the limiting case of John the Baptist, but, by the same token I’m not completely convinced of the classic text for that. The ordinary means (that for adults and children of competency in understanding) always is via the accompaniment of the Word of God and the calling to mind of other circumstances. I agree with Boyce on this, except in his third and possibly his second limiting case.

Source.



So, Mr. Garrett, I do not affirm that a person can be a "regenerated unbeliever." I affirm exactly the opposite, insofar as the order is logical, not temporal - a caveat that your fellow chronic strifemaker have called, "doubletalk." I took that then to mean, as I still do, that they would rather be dishonest and drop the caveats that I have given than actually speak honestly.
You, Mr. Garrett, would do well not to associate with these individuals.

So, before you go casting about with the questions you have asked of us, Mr. Garrett, I suggest you acquaint yourself with the archive functions of this blog and others. It's really not difficult. Search Engines are your friend.

The Perils of Palin

I’ve changed my mind about the race. Before McCain chose Palin, I was sitting on the fence. After he chose her, I decided that I could bring myself to vote for the ticket—however grudgingly. But I’d now take that a step further. At this point I think I have a duty to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Why? Because the liberal establishment has decided to turn this election into a referendum on eugenics. Palin is now a symbol of an issue much bigger than herself (or McCain).

Of course, Obama and Biden haven’t been quite as rhetorically vile as their surrogates, but there’s no doubt where they stand. Obama regards the child of an unplanned pregnancy as a “punishment.” He opposed the Born Alive Act. Biden recently attacked Palin for having Trig, in the context of remarks about stem cell research.

Considering these developments, I think the religious right now has an obligation to support Palin for what she’s come to represent, and express its support at the ballot box.

That’s irrespective of other issues, pro and con. There are other issues, both pro and con. But this has now become the “central front” in the culture wars. If we don’t back her, what message will that send? If we sit out this election, it will be a turning point in the culture wars. Time to flex our electoral muscles.

The Interpretation of Scripture: In Defense of the Historical-Critical Method

“When one comes to inerrancy, it has to be understood as a consequence of inspiration, but one that is not conterminous with it. It is restricted to inspired statements in the Bible, and not to its questions, exclamations, or prayers. For the Constitution [Dei Verbum, Vatican II Council] plainly states, ‘Since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers should be regarded as asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that we must acknowledge the Books of Scripture as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error the truth that God wished to be recorded in the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation’ (§11). Especially noteworthy are two things: the verb ‘asserted,’ which is used twice, and the last phrase, ‘recorded…for the sake of our salvation.’ In other words, inerrancy is the quality of all assertions in the Bible that pertain to human salvation. That important phrase saves Catholic interpreters from crass fundamentalism, because it means that the charism of inerrancy does not necessarily grace every statement made with a past tense verb as if it were historically true.” J. Fitzmyer, The Interpretation of Scripture: In Defense of the Historical-Critical Method (Paulist Press 2008), 8.

“The method is called ‘historical-critical,’ because, as we have seen, it applies to the Bible the critical techniques developed from Alexandrian classical philology. It recognizes that the Bible, though containing the Word of God, is an ancient record, composed by a multitude of authors over a long period of time. Being an ancient composition, it has to be studied and analyzed, as are other ancient historical records. Since much of the Bible presents a narrative account of events that affected the lives of ancient Jews and early Christians, the various accounts have to be analyzed against their proper human and historical backgrounds, in their contemporary contexts, and in their original languages. It is called ‘critical,’ not because it seeks to criticize the ancient records in any pejorative sense, but because it uses the techniques of different forms of literary and historical criticism,” ibid. 63.

“The method makes use of two preliminary steps, borrowed from classical philology: (1) the consideration of introductory questions concerning (a) the authenticity of the writing (e.g. Did Paul write the Epistle to the Ephesians?); (b) the integrity or unity of the writing (Did Paul write all of it, or has the text suffered secondary interpolation?); (c) the date and place of composition; (d) the content of the writing, analyzed according to its structure or outline, its style, and its literary form (Is it a letter, a parable, a prayer? Is it poetry, rhetoric, historical narrative, or fiction?); (e) the occasion and purposes of the writing (i.e., the author’s intention in composing it); and (f) its background (Has the OT author been influenced by Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, or Canaanite ideas? Has the NT writer been influenced by Palestinian, Jewish, Hellenistic, or eastern Mediterranean ideas?). All such preliminary questions help much in the comprehension of the biblical writings as something coming to us from a definite literary context, time, and place in antiquity,” ibid. 63-64.

“Likewise borrowed from classical philology is (2) textual criticism, which is concerned with the transmission of the biblical text in the original language and its ancient versions,” ibid. 64.

“Along with such preliminary questions to which the biblical text is submitted, there are refinements of historical criticism that have come to be associated with it. Though they are not per se historical criticism, they are forms of criticism that in the long run affect the historical judgment about an ancient text [e.g. literary criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism]…Finally, it should be clear that the use of all such criticism is geared to one end: to determine the meaning of the text as it was intended and expressed by the human author moved long ago to compose it,” ibid. 64-66.

“Sometimes Catholic who are impatient with the historical-critical method ask, ‘Why should not modern biblical scholars interpret the Bible as did the Fathers of the Church or other writers of the patristic period?’ The main reason is that so much has happened in this world since the patristic period. The Catholic Church, in its interpretation of Scripture, has learned much from the scholars of the Renaissance and the Reformation. The Renaissance emphasis on recursus ad fontes opened up the study of the Bible to its original languages and some of its ancient versions, which notably changed the orientation and interpretation of the whole Western Church, which previously had read the Bible only in the Latin language, either the Vulgate or the Vetus Latina. The new study in the Renaissance period opened, indeed, the way further to the translation of the Bible into various vernaculars among the Reformers. It also broke with the highly allegorical typological, and homiletic interpretation that had characterized the patristic and early medieval modes of expounding the biblical text, which in many cavalier ways disregarded the contexts and the basic literal meaning of the Mosaic, prophetic, and sapiential writings of the OT,” ibid. 78-79.

“The Catholic Church also learned much from scholars at the time of the so-called Enlightenment, even though it resisted their rationalistic and anti-dogmatic presuppositions. Today we often forget how, on the heels of the Enlightenment, great historical and archaeological discoveries of the nineteenth century affected our reading of the Bible. Such discoveries were unexpected, but they make it impossible for one to interpret the Bible in the simplistic and often allegorical ways that had been in vogue since the time of the Fathers of the Church and of medieval theologians,” ibid. 79.

“Though Pope Benedict XV, in his encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus (1920), could find no good in the study of the literary genres of the Bible, Pope Pius XII corrected that misguided advice in his encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu (1943),” ibid. 81.

“If the meaning of a biblical text could take on a meaning different from its originally expressed—and, I would add, originally intended—meaning, then how could one say that the Bible is still the source par excellence of divine revelation, the means that God has chosen to convey to generation after generation of his people what his plans, his instructions, and his will in their regard actually are. This characteristic of the written Word of God demands that there be a basic homogeneity between what is meant and what it means, between what the inspired human author sought to express and what he did express, and what is being said by the words so read in the Church today. This, then, is the major problem that the literal sense of Scripture raises today, and one with which theologians and exegetes have to deal,” ibid. 89.

Paradise Lost

“Genesis 2 describes a verdant paradise-like garden in which Adam and Eve lived and worked. There has been a tendency to regard the Eden episode as legend or myth, that is, not as a historical account, and to view Eden as a symbolic place rather than a real location. Archaeology cannot settle this question, but Genesis 2:10-14 surely offers a specific location for the garden by naming the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The English name Tigris is actually the Greek vocalization of the ancient Sumerian name id-dikaltu, which means River Diklatu. The Hebrew preserves the Sumerian as Hiddekel. Euphrates echoes the Akkadian name of the river—purattu. These are real rivers whose names were known in ancient cuneiform texts, and whose names survive to this day. Little is known of the other two rives, the Pishon and the Gihon (Genesis 2:10-13). The former is said to flow through the land of Havilah, a Hebrew term for northern Arabia. The idea that a river once flowed across the deserts of Arabia, and somehow connected with the Tigris and/or Euphrates River, seems far-fetched. But this all changed when evidence for such a river came from satellite radar images taken during the 1994 mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Boston University geologist Farouk el-Baz, who studied the images, noticed that traces of a defunct river that crossed northern Arabia from west to east were visible beneath the sands, thanks to the ground-penetrating capabilities of the radar technologies. He called it the ‘Kuwait River,” for that is where it apparently connected with the Euphrates or emptied into the Persian Gulf. Some scholars have proposed that this is the Pishon River of Genesis 2. Environmental studies in the region suggest that this river probably dried up sometime between 3500 and 2000 BC when an arid period was experienced. This new evidence suggests that the Bible has preserved a very ancient memory that predates the era of Moses. By the mid-second millennium BC, this river had already turned to desert 1,000 years or more earlier,” J. Hoffmeier, The Archaeology of the Bible (Lion Book 2008), 34-35.

World Opinion

We've been hearing a lot lately about how world opinion favors Barack Obama over John McCain. Here's a recent Reuters story, which I came across on Drudge Report, about world opinion on another issue.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Revolution in the Church"

"Revolution in the Church"

Trig

Perhaps some perspective (and inspiration) is in order?

Contemporary Jesuitry

David Waltz continues to use diversionary tactics to defend himself:

Now, contrast Beale’s and Carson’s own words with what Hays and Bridges have been saying within their recent threads (and comments) specifically directed at me (THREAD 1; THREAD 2; THREAD 3; THREAD 4; THREAD 5; THREAD 6; THREAD 7), and then come to your own conclusion as to which of us throughout the discussion/s has been the better representative of what Beale and Carson were attempting to convey concerning their approach to apostolic hermeneutic (BTW, though Hays links to the CT interview, one must wonder if he actually read the entire article.)

And what “contrast” would that be?

However, as the editors point out in the Introduction, the volume does NOT “survey contemporary debates over the use of the OT in the NT” (p. xxiii).

How is that a “contrast” with what I’ve been saying? Did I ever claim that this book would be a “survey contemporary debates over the use of the OT in the NT”?

No. I cited this book to document the harmony between apostolic exegesis and grammatico-historical exegesis. It doesn’t have to be a survey of contemporary debates to do that, now does it?

Rather, it documents apostolic exegesis, showing how NT writers interpret the OT in a manner consistent with the context or original intent.

So this sentence doesn’t “contrast” my position with the position of the editors.

Waltz then quotes a longer passage from the book. I’ll begin here:

The distinction between those who think that the citations bring with them the OT context and those who think that the NT writers resort to prooftexting. For the evidence is really quite striking that the first disciples are not presented as those who instantly understood what the Lord Jesus was teaching them or as those who even anticipated all that he would say because of their own insightful interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures. To the contrary, they are constantly presented as, on the one hand, being attached to Jesus, yet, on the other, being very slow to come to terms with the fact that the promised messianic king would also be the Suffering Servant, the atoning lamb of God, that he would be crucified, rejected by many of his own people, and would rise again utterly vindicated by God. Nevertheless, once they have come to accept this synthesis, they also insist, in the strongest terms, that this is what the OT Scriptures actually teach…Rather, they keep trying to prove from the Scriptures themselves that this Jesus of Nazareth really does fulfill the ancient texts even while they are forced to acknowledge that they themselves did not read the biblical texts this way until after the resurrection, Pentecost, and the gradual increase in understanding that came to them, however mediated by the Spirit, as the result of the expansion of the church, not least in Gentile circles. This tension between what they insist is actually there in the Scriptures and what they are forced to admit they did not see until fairly late in their experience forces them to think about the concept of “mystery”—revelation that is in some sense “there” in the Scripures but hidden until the time of God-appointed disclosure…

How does that “contrast” with anything I’ve said?

i) To begin with, what do the editors say about the viewpoint of the NT writers? “Nevertheless, once they have come to accept this synthesis, they also insist, in the strongest terms, that this is what the OT Scriptures actually teach…Rather, they keep trying to prove from the Scriptures themselves that this Jesus of Nazareth really does fulfill the ancient texts.”

How does that stand in “contrast” to my own position?

ii) Waltz evidently thinks it’s significant that NT writers didn’t always understand Jesus to be the fulfillment of OT Messianic promise. How does that admission stand in “contrast” to anything I ever said?

a) For one thing, Waltz is confusing reader intent with authorial intent. Meaning is a property of authorial intent. The fact that NT writers, when they used to read (or hear) the OT scriptures, before they knew Jesus, didn’t see Jesus as the fulfillment of OT messianic promise, is irrelevant to the meaning of the OT passages in question.

b) Waltz also confuses sense with reference. Take Isa 7:14. Did Isaiah know when the Messiah would be born? No. Did he know that Jesus would be the Messiah? No. Did he know that Mary would be his mother? No.

Now, Isaiah did know some things about the Messiah. And about his mother. But God didn’t reveal to him many other details.

The NT writers know something that Isaiah didn’t: the actual referent. They live in the age of fulfillment. They interpret Isa 7:14 in the light of fulfillment.

That’s something they couldn’t know in advance of the fact. They have some information Isaiah didn’t.

But does this imply that they are adding something new to the sense of Isaiah 7:14? No. Those old words still mean what they always meant.

Suppose a police detective gets a tip from an anonymous informant. Over the phone, the informant says: “Meet me at the docks at midnight tonight. I have the goods on Tony Romano!”

When the detective actually meets the caller face-to-face, he’ll learn something about caller that he didn’t know from the cryptic phone call. But that additional knowledge doesn’t add anything to the meaning of the phone call.

Here’s something else he quotes from the same book:

We sometimes need reminding that the NT authors would not have understood the OT in terms of any of the dominant historical-critical orthodoxies of the last century and a half. (Pages xxvii, xxviii - bold emphasis mine.)

i) Once again, how does that “contrast” with anything I said? Was I discussing the history of the grammatico-historical method? Did I refer Waltz to a 19C commentator like H. A. W. Meyer? Did I refer him to Patrick Fairbairn’s 19C monograph on typology? Did I tell him that was the sort of thing I had in mind? No. I specifically referred him to modern scholars who represent my position.

Suppose Waltz asked me what I mean by a “car.” And I cite the example of a 2008 Alfa Romeo to illustrate what I mean by a car.

Suppose he then mentions the model-T Ford as a counterexample. He trumpets the model-T Ford as somehow disproving my example.

But how would the model-T Ford function as a defeater? Did I ever claim that all cars resemble a 2008 Alpha Romeo? Does the fact that there are differences between a model-T Ford and an Alpha Romeo prove that an Alpha Romeo is not a car?

Waltz resorts to the same ploy in some of his other quotes, as if the point at issue was the history of the grammatico-historical method.

ii) Moreover, the “historical-critical method” is not synonymous with the “grammatico-historical method.”

The historical-critical method is “traditionally” defined by certain metaphysical presuppositions which don’t define the grammatico-historical method. For example:

“All events historical and natural occurring within it [reality] are in principle interconnected and comparable by analogy…humanity’s contemporary experience of reality can provide objective criteria by which what could or could not have happened in the past can be determined,” R. Soulen & R. K. Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism (WJK 2001), 78.

iii) The dumbest part of this exercise is that Waltz is attempting to position himself against my own position, as if he speaks for Catholic hermeneutics in contrast to Protestant hermeneutics. Needless to say, the historical-critical method represents mainstream contemporary Catholic scholarship.

Indeed, Joseph Fitzmyer, the present doyen of Catholic Bible scholarship, just published an entire monograph on The Interpretation of Scripture: In Defense of the Historical-Critical Method (Paulist Press 2008).

Waltz is just another half-breed convert to Catholicism. Someone who’s out of touch with his adopted denomination.

Then he treats us to the same quote from Beale that I already corrected him on. Beale is not claiming that NT writers interpret the OT semi-contextually. Rather, he allows for the possibility that they sometimes quote Scripture “ironically or polemically” as part of an ad hominem argument.

Waltz is unteachable. He misrepresents a position. When he’s corrected, he repeats the same misrepresentation.

Then we’re treated to his selective quotation from the interview with Beale and Carson. Now, there’s nothing wrong with selective quotation if your quotation is representative of their overall position. But Waltz distorts their position.

To begin with, Waltz originally said, “Steve’s approach has been criticised by an Evangelcial scholar.” He then quoted a passage from an article by Peter Enns. So that’s how he framed the issue.

I responded by referring him to works like the book edited by Beale and Carson. How do they characterize their effort?

Beale: It's evident in our book that the New Testament writers use the Old Testament with the context of the Old Testament in mind. That's a real debate between evangelicals and non-evangelicals, but it's also an in-house debate. Some evangelicals would say Jesus and the apostles preached the right Old Testament doctrine but from the wrong Old Testament texts. They believe that what the New Testament writers wrote was inspired, but their interpretative method was not inspired, that it was just as wild and crazy as the Jewish method at the time. Our book proceeds on the presupposition that of course their conclusions are inspired. But we also show that Jesus was not a wild and crazy Jewish interpreter like those at Qumran or elsewhere, but he interpreted the Old Testament in a very viable way.

If you want a good example of someone who would disagree with our method, there's a recent book by Peter Enns called Inspiration and Incarnation. In one of the concluding chapters, he contends that Jesus and the apostles preached the right doctrine from the wrong texts and that we should do the same. I have written a lengthy review of that chapter in the periodical Themelios. Enns responded, and then I wrote a surrejoinder just on this very issue.


This is part of the interview that, unsurprisingly, Waltz didn’t quote. Now how does my position stand in “contrast” to what Beale just said? Where’s the “contrast” between my appeal to Beale and his own intentions in editing this book? There is no contrast.

The explicit point of contrast is between Beale’s approach and the approach of Enns. Waltz appealed to Enns and I appealed to Beale and Carson (among others). My appeal is directly responsive to his.

Finally, he quotes a little snippet from Carson without bothering to reproduce Carson’s actual critique of the way in which Enns tried to drive a wedge between apostolic exegesis and grammatico-historical exegesis. Here is some of what Carson has to say in response to Enns:

Enns rejects solutions (a) that try to show the New Testament authors really do respect the Old Testament context; (b) that concede the New Testament author is not using the Old Testament text "in a manner in which it was intended," but which then argues the New Testament author is not really interpreting the Old Testament text but merely applying it (115); (c) that concedes the Old Testament text is being stretched way beyond its context, but which then simply appeals to apostolic authority to cover the breach. Enns is happy to summarize his alternative:

1. The New Testament authors were not engaging the Old Testament in an effort to remain consistent with the original context and intention of the Old Testament author.

Yet the more one insists on the commonality of Jewish and Christian hermeneutics in the first century, the more urgently one faces two crucial needs. (i) One should try to identify differences as well as similarities in their respective hermeneutical approaches. For instance, many have pointed out ways in which New Testament pesher interpretation is rather unlike pesher found in 1QpHab. But we’ll let that pass. (ii) It becomes important to raise a question of warrant. If Paul’s way of reading the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, is methodologically indifferentiable from the way of reading deployed by his unconverted Jewish colleagues, how are they managing to come to such different conclusions while reading the same texts? We’ll see in a moment that it is inadequate simply to say, "Well, Paul now believes Jesus has risen from the grave, and is the long-promised Messiah." That is true, but, as we shall see, not sufficient to address the question. To put it differently, how does Paul think his own reading of the Old Testament has changed from three months before his Damascus Road experience to three months after? Is there any change in his hermeneutics? Or is it only that his answers are now different, so that he manipulates the hermeneutical axioms in rather creative ways? What hermeneutical change in his thinking warrants the Christological readings of the Old Testament he adopts?

That is an important question. It is possible to identify several hermeneutical differences. I can take the space to mention only one, and it needs much more development than I will give it here. First-century Palestinian Jews who were asked the question, "How does a person please God?" were likely to answer, "By obeying the law." This answer they could apply not only to figures such as Hezekiah and David and Moses, all of whom are found this side of Sinai, but even to figures such as Abraham and Enoch, who are found on the other side of Sinai. After all, Genesis tells us that Abraham kept all God’s statutes, and we know what they must have been; Enoch walked with God, and we know full well what is required for that to take place. One must infer that they received private revelations of the law. What this does, hermeneutically speaking, is elevate the law to the level of hermeneutical hegemony: it is the grid that controls how you read the Old Testament. It is, in substantial measure, an a-historical reading. But when Paul as a Christian and an apostle reads the same texts, he insists on preserving the significance of the historical sequence. Thus in Galatians 3, Abraham was justified by faith before the giving of the law, and the promise to him and to his seed similarly came before the giving of the law. That means that the law given by Moses has been relativized; one must now think afresh exactly why it was given, "added" to the promise. Again, in Romans 4 Paul analyzes the relation between faith and circumcision on the basis of which came first: it is the historical sequence that is determinative for his argument. Nor is this approach exclusively Pauline. In Hebrews, for instance, the validity of Auctor’s argument in chap 7 turns on historical sequence. If Psalm 110, written after the establishment of the Levitical priesthood at Sinai, promises a priesthood that is not tied to the tribe of Levi but to the tribe of Judah, and is thus bringing together royal and priestly prerogatives in one person, then the Levitical priesthood has been declared obsolete in principle. Moreover, if this new king-priest is modelled on ancient Melchizedek, himself a priest-king, there is also an anticipation of this arrangement as far back as Genesis 14. In other words, where one pays attention to links that depend on historical sequencing, one has laid the groundwork for careful typology. The argument in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 similarly depends on reading the Old Testament texts in their historical sequence: the fact that Psalm 95, written after the people have entered the Promised Land, is still calling the covenant people to enter into God’s rest, demonstrates that entry into the land was not itself a final delivery of the promise to give them rest. Moreover, the reference to "God’s rest" triggers reflection on how God rested as far back as Genesis 1-2—and thus another typological line is set up, filled in with a variety of pieces along the historical trajectory.

Ultimately, this insistence on reading the Old Testament historically can be traced back to Jesus himself. But the only point I am making here is that this is one of the hermeneutical differences between the apostolic interpreters of Scripture and their unconverted Jewish counterparts. But none of this is unpacked by Enns, even though such considerations must play a considerable role in any evaluation of how the New Testament writers are reading Scripture.

Second, as a result of these points being ignored, in quite a number of Enns’s discussions I wished the presentation went in slightly different directions. I will not here treat the use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2, as I have discussed that quotation at rather too much length in my commentary on Matthew in the EBC series. But consider how Psalm 95:7-11 is used in Hebrews 3 and 4. Enns makes much of the shift in the position of diov: he thinks that this means that, whereas in Psalm 95 God is angry with his people for the forty years of the wilderness wanderings, in Hebrews 3-4 God’s anger comes only at the end of the forty years of wilderness wandering (140-142). But this is seriously overstated. Even in the account in Hebrews, it is clear that during the forty years the people are hardening their hearts, rebelling, and testing the Lord and trying him. That is why (diov) God was angry with that generation—i.e. because of this rebellious behavior during the forty years. The assumption, surely, is that God’s response has been wrath as long as there has been rebellion. The text does not say that God was not wrathful during the forty years, but suddenly became wrathful at the end of forty years: the latter way of taking the text demands an antithesis that is simply not there. Instead, what one finds is a small difference in emphasis. One can even venture a guess as to why this small difference in emphasis has taken place: in Hebrews, Auctor wants to show his readers how God’s wrath finally issued in his refusal to let his covenant people enter the Promised Land. The readers are thereby warned that they, too, might not enter into the ultimate rest, if, like the generation of the exodus, they begin well, but do not persevere to the end. Of course, that lesson was already there in the words of Psalm 95; all that Auctor has done is strengthen that point. And meanwhile, what Enns has overlooked in Auctor’s brilliant exposition of Psalm 95 is (as we have seen) the way he situates the Psalm within the trajectories of redemptive history to show that even the Old Testament writers did not think that entrance into Canaan constituted the ultimate rest. Collectively they generated a typological trajectory that necessarily outstrips the rest of Canaan.

It would be tedious to go through all of Enns’s examples, but I cannot forbear to mention that readers would do well to compare Enns’s treatment of "Paul’s movable well" with that of, say, Thiselton.

(g) Enns draws attention to Luke 24:45: the resurrected Jesus "opened the minds" of the two Emmaus Road disciples "so that they could understand the Scriptures." Enns takes this to be the kind of claimed revelation the Teacher of Righteousness enjoyed at Qumran, re-orienting the reader to a new understanding of Scripture along lines that are not transparently there on the surface of the Old Testament text. But the context shows another dimension to this exchange between Jesus and the two Emmaus believers that must not be overlooked: toward the beginning of the conversation, Jesus tells them, "‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (24:25-26). Toward the end, Jesus adds, "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (24:44).

This is quite striking. On the one hand, even the apostles and other disciples did not understand, before the cross and resurrection, that the Messiah would be crucified and would rise the third day, even though Jesus had told them. They simply did not have the categories to absorb such information. Transparently, when they had become convinced of his resurrection, they had to undergo a transformation of their understanding of the Scriptures. In other words, in the psychological development of their understanding, the resurrection of Christ comes before their Christianized understanding of the Old Testament text. That is the point Enns is making. But on the other hand, even before his resurrection Jesus himself holds his followers responsible for understanding the Old Testament text in a Christianized way, and labels them foolish when they fail in this regard. He himself, and all the major New Testament writers, speak of the events of his life as fulfilling what the Old Testament says, not as adding brand new meaning to what the Old Testament says. (This, as we shall see, is one of the dominating themes in Wright’s book.) Enns never explores what this side of things might mean.

Sometimes the two points come together in dramatic ways. For instance, in Romans 16:25-27, Paul’s gospel is in line with "the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past"; but it is also "now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings." On the one hand, the gospel has been long hidden; but when it is revealed and made known, this revelation takes place through the prophetic writings. Quite a number of the "mystery" passages of the New Testament turn on unpacking some things that are genuinely there in the biblical texts, but which have been "hidden" in the past until the great revelatory event of Jesus Messiah has taken place. Because they truly are there in the text, readers can be berated for not having seen them—i.e. the assumption is that if it were not for their moral turpitude and their ignorance of God, they would have seen how the texts are put together, would have grasped more clearly what this God is truly like, and would have understood their Bibles properly. That is also why the New Testament writers do not restrict their apologetic to the stance: If only you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that he rose from the dead, then you will be transformed and come to read the Bible the way we do. Rather, they urge upon their Jewish counterparts the right way to read the Bible. Their apologetic often consists of showing from the Scriptures that Jesus Messiah had to die and rise again. Their hermeneutic in such exposition, though it overlaps with that of the Jews, is distinguishable from it, and at certain points is much more in line with the actual shape of Scripture: it rests on the unpacking of the Bible’s storyline.

(h) The failure to get this tension right—by "right," I mean in line with what Scripture actually says of itself—is what makes Enns sound disturbingly like my Doktorvater on one point. Barnabas Lindars’s first book was New Testament Apologetic. The thesis was very simple, the writing elegant: the New Testament writers came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he had been crucified and raised from the dead. They then ransacked their Bible, what we call the Old Testament, to find proof texts to justify their new-found theology, and ended up yanking things out of context, distorting the original context, and so forth. Enns is more respectful, but it is difficult to see how his position differs substantively from that of Lindars, except that he wants to validate these various approaches to the Old Testament partly on the ground that the hermeneutics involved were already in use (we might call this the "Hey, everybody’s doing it" defense), and partly on the ground that he himself accepts, as a "gift of faith," that Jesus really is the Messiah. This really will not do. The New Testament writers, for all that they understand that acceptance of who Jesus is comes as a gift of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14), never stint at giving reasons for the hope that lies within them, including reasons for reading the Bible as they do. The "fulfillment" terminology they deploy is too rich and varied to allow us to imagine that they are merely reading in what is in fact not there. They would be the first to admit that in their own psychological history the recognition of Jesus came before their understanding of the Old Testament; but they would see this as evidence of moral blindness. As a result, they would be the first to insist, with their transformed hermeneutic (not least the reading of the sacred texts in salvation-historical sequence), that the Scriptures themselves can be shown to anticipate a suffering Servant-King, a Priest-King, a new High Priest, and so forth. In other words, Enns develops the first point but disavows the second. The result is that he fails to see how Christian belief is genuinely warranted by Scripture. No amount of appeal to the analogy of the incarnation will make up the loss.


http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/three-books-on-the-bible-a-critical-review.php

How does that “contrast” with my position?

After you subtract his diversionary tactics, and after you restore the material which Waltz suppressed, I would indeed invite the reader to “come to your own conclusion as to which of us throughout the discussion/s has been the better representative of what Beale and Carson were attempting to convey concerning their approach to apostolic hermeneutic.”