Friday, November 24, 2006

No Fair, You're Cheating

John Loftus moseyed into our combox, cowboy hat 'n all, and tried to show that there was a new sheriff in town. Let's look at his response:

"I believe Preterism, or even partial preterism, is a frank concession of the fact that Jesus did not return as was expected from the earliest days of Christianity until recently. It’s one thing for skeptics to scoff, it's quite another to see Christians re-invent their eschatology to accommodate this glaring problem."

1. What's he talking about? What was the "return" that the early church expected? A bodily one? The one where Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead, etc? Well, "partial-preterism" doesn't think that this "return" has happened. So it looks like Loftus doesn't understand either partial-preterism or early church history. Which is it partner?

2. Partial-preterism is a hermeneutical principle. Since the early church many have understood certain passages in a partial-preterist sense.

3. Do your homework and check out
something like this for a more thorough refutation of your views.

4. Early church eschatology was largely undeveloped. The believed in a future resurrection, judgment, and coming of our Lord. As do I. But for the most part they were silent on other matters. They were debating other topics. Furthermore, it only confirms the Bible to point out that the church is growing in understanding (cf. Eph 4).

" had already mentioned on the Unchained Radio program and in a Blog entry how believers read the Bible through the lenses of their present experiences when it comes to the creation accounts in Genesis, women's roles in leadership, and slavery. Both Paul Manata and Gene Cook disputed that they do this. But here is a case where Manata has done just that."

5. That's odd. I used the Bible to interpret the meaning of the passages, but yet I'm the one reading the Bible with 21st century goggles on.

6. No, it can't be John. I mean, after all, it's not 21st century of him to assume that Jesus' coming on the clouds means that Jesus will be surfing clouds to earth, is it?

7. How has "Manata done just that?" Do we see analysis? Argumentation? No, he's shooting blanks! No cowboy should ever go to a gunfight unarmed.

8. At any rate, Loftus must do that also. And so why should we trust his reading of Scripture. To the extent that his objection works, then, it doesn't allow him to criticize the Bible!

9. But if John Loftus can transcend his cultural conditioning, so can we. If not, why can John Loftus, but not us? Either way, either he's wrong or he can't critique the Bible. Which one is it, John?

"Now here's the question for Manata. Why can he do this with the return of Jesus and I cannot do this with the present day lack of miracles occurring today? He reinterprets the historical church understanding of eschatology in light of 2000 plus years of experiences, including several recent failed predictions of the return of Jesus in 1974, 1988, and 2000. So why is it illegitimate for me the see the creation accounts in Genesis as myth because of present day modern science?"

10. Do what with the "present day lack of miracles?"

11. Since miracles are extraordinary events, aren't there always a "lack" of them?

12. John betrays his ignorance. There was no such thing as "the early church's eschatology." To the extent that they talked eschatology in any unified way, I'm in full agreement. Jesus has not returned to judge the living and the dead.

13. Who knows what "failed predictions" regarding the return of Jesus has to do with anything. Indeed, given my postmillennial leanings, I think the second advent is a ways off.

14. Yes, it's illegitimate of you to see the creation account as a myth because of "modern day science." This is a red-herring though. Nonetheless:

a) There is not such thing as a unified opinion on the creation account given by "modern science."

b) Science can't render dogmatic conclusions on anything, let alone the creation account, as far as the atheists tell us.

c) This assumes a realist understanding of science and, to my understanding, you've never answered Steve's repeated request for you to argue for realism.

All I did as a former believer was to attempt to reconcile modern science with Genesis, just as he does with the failed bodily return of Jesus?

15. Notice that his entire attack is an ad hominem one. He never bothers to address my post.

16. There was no failed bodily return of Jesus since it hasn't happened yet.

17. He must be assume that when Jesus said they would see him coming on the clouds that that meant that everyone would see a 6ft (or so) figure surfing the clouds to earth.

18. Loftus just doesn’t like my approach because it handles the objections. But then he cries, “No fair! You’re cheating!” You know, like those kids on the playground who get skunked in pick-up football games and have to resort to the “he cheated” tactic in order to make them feel better about loosing, or to get an advantage. If my "reconciliation" works, it works. Loftus needs to engage his opponent. So, if Loftus really had "reconciled science with Genesis," then where would the problem be? Likewise, if I have "reconciled" certain passages, then where's the problem? Thus it boils down to my interpretation of the passages. Thus John needs to engage my post. My interpretation. Why does he assume that he can just name drop, act skeptical, but refuse to actually do his homework and engage in debate? I'll tell you why: That's how apostates sleep at night. If they refuse to study the Bible, they can come up with objections all day long. Just like, well, Loftus' Bird Man argument.

19. So fellow believers, be encouraged. Right now you have your wits about yourself, leave Christianity you'll start doing drive by posts with no intellectual weight behind them, and then claiming that God should have made men with wings so they could fly and gills so they wouldn't drown.

20. After this Thanksgiving, thank the Lord that you're still in the faith.


  1. Manata: If my "reconciliation" works, it works. Loftus needs to engage his opponent. So, if Loftus really had "reconciled science with Genesis," then where would the problem be?

    Think about what it is that you are trying to reconcile, my friend. You are trying to reconcile the fact that Jesus has not returned for about 2000 years, with the Bible. But the control beliefs you use to interpret the Bible are set by the failed return of Jesus. That's all a Biblical exegete can do, as I did, except for one small problem. I could not reconcile the Genesis creation account with science. I suppose you can claim to be smarter than I am because you think you've done this. But I don't think it can be done. Therefore that's one of the reasons I have became a skeptic.

    It's too bad you won't be alive in about 1000 years to see how Christians will think once again about what the Bible says and the problem of evil, or about Jesus' return, but it will be different, that I can guarantee you. Why? Because they will do what you have done in today's world from today's perspective, partner, because that's all we as humans living in history can do, that's why.

    Now get out of town. ;-)

  2. It seems to me that Loftus is doing this because he has studied all of this indepth and has already "dealt" with all the arguments for Christianity. So since he has already "sifted through" the arguments and found Chrisitanity "wanting" therefore we should also find it wanting and accept his "scholarly" conclusions without argument. (all said tongue in cheek)
    I think I am going to go back to reading Dale Allison for my critiques of Christian Eschatology. I find Allison wanting but at least he makes arguments.

    I want Loftus and others to know that I disagree with Manata's interp of eschatology, but I find Manata's arguments to be prevailing against the their Ad Hominems and rank Psychological discussions of Manata's beliefs.

    (If Loftus and others can psychologize my beliefs and Manata's, which is a logical fallacy, then I can psychologize back and show how absurd all of the dodging of argument really is.)

    Love's Work

  3. John,

    Just let me know when you want to interact with my arguments.



  4. Paul, but people can argue for many different interpretations from the Bible. I want to argue about why we see things differently, which is the most important type of argument between us, don't you think? Control beliefs from our very own historical perspective control what we see. I mean after all, why did Christians believe before the Van Tillian or even Calvinistic (and before that Augustinian) arguments?

  5. What were Atheism arguments like before John Loftus???

  6. Jimmy Li, that's my point, thanks. there is a progression of understanding as time moves one for any view, atheism included.

    ...with one huge exception. There is no divinely inspired historically conditioned book that atheists must correctly interpret.

  7. John,

    I note that you're still running from my post.

    The question shouldn't revolve around your genertic fallacy, but rather with truth.

    If my interpreation is true, then you've lost.

    So, deal with the meat and get off the milk, partner.

  8. Listen up, Paul. Since so many Christians diagree, it's about seeing things. That's it. It's about seeing things. Haven't I said that before?

  9. John

    Still refusing to answer my post, I see.

    An argument is valid cross-culture.

    Care to deny that premise?

    if not, then deal with my argument.

    If so, thatnks for the fodder I'll make an upcomming post with.

  10. Paul, I will admit that I have never read any book or article defending Preterism (or partial preterism). What I know about it has been gleaned from discussion boards. It's uninteresting to me as a skeptic. So you're right about my lack of understanding on this issue.I don't understand most things, and I'll admit this.

    I am 52 years old. When I was in school (1979-88) it hadn't been argued for, as far as I could tell. It's something new to me on the theological scene, just like the idea that Jesus never existed is new to me on the skeptical scene (G.A. Wells wrote in 1985, I think, but it was ignored by most theologians for a few years). I am not conversant on either of these two topics, and if I am wrong in what I wrote, so be it.

    But I wanted to make a point about how people read the Bible. That's my point. We do so through the lense of history. We do so from our present perspective. The things you now believe are different in many ways than the ways early followers believed. The reason is because you study a historically conditioned book, and my argument all along is the same. If God chose to reveal himself in history, he chose a very poor medium to do so.

  11. John,

    People have given preterist interpretations for hundreds of years. At any rate, even if it were new, that would not make it false, and even though there are different answers about what the text means, doesn't mean that one isn't correct and that we can't know what is correct.