Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Defending the Indefensible

Nick writes:

I hope you will excuse my ignorance on this point, but I don't understand the distinction you are making between "spiritual uncleanness" and "ritual uncleanness." My understanding is that, if anyone breaks the ritual law on any point, he commits a sin, and sin makes him spiritually unclean. It was a sin to touch a dead animal, or a woman who was going through her period. Sin is a very spiritual matter and it requires a spiritual remedy.
The distinction between these is common in both Catholic and Protestant theology and understanding of the these texts. The problem here is that you drew an inference without bothering to familiarize yourself with the concept. Ritual cleanness is not sinful in itself. Rather, it pictures sin. Touching the dead defiled a man because death is the ultimate consequence of sin. I would suggest you avail yourself of a copy of Vern Poythress' The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses.

Do you expect me to respond to all of that? I guess I can if you really want me to, but I would have rather respond to your own words, instead of a great big copy-and-paste. Also, you seem to be making an argument from authority by utilizing what "Keil & Delitzch" have to say. The problem is, I've never heard of those guys (sorry!) and so their opinion on this matter doesn't really mean a whole lot to me. Finally, do you know what the "shotgun approach" is? It's when you overwhelm someone with a massive amount of information and then, when he/she can't respond to it all (b/c of the undue burden placed upon the person's time and energy) then the person with the shotgun claims the victory. I hope that's not what you are doing here.
K&D is a standard OT commentary with a Lutheran slant and is still honored as one of the best to this day, nearly 150 years since it was first published . Since I agree with the exegesis, even though I am a Reformed Baptist, then why shouldn't I offer it? I also chose it and not another for the simple reason that it is easily accessible. Would you prefer I chose Wenham, Bellinger, Keck, Gane, Ashley, Cole, or Levine? Somehow I don't think you'd know who most of these persons are, and I think that appealing to any of them would have garnered a similar response.

If you would like to counter it, by all means, go ahead. Yes, I do expect you to exegete the text, but that would, of course present you with a dilemma wouldn't it, given your rule of faith? If you do that, you'd need to appeal to a Roman Catholic, and to know that it wasn't private speculation, you'd have to demonstrate the exegesis was infallible. So much for the Roman Catholic rule of faith.

You're the one using the text to justify your practice. I'm sorry you don't like having to read the material, but that comes with the territory if you want to defend the faith. If you don't have the time, that's not my problem.

The problem here - repeatedly- is that you don't seem at all familiar with the literature. There are any number of commentaries I could cite from both Protestant and Catholic sources. Your biggest problem is that you didn't bother to exegete the text. Rather, you chose the proof text method. Now, you're reaping the consequences.

An argument from authority is not fallacious at all when engaging in an exegetical discussion when it is unreasonable for the disputant to dispute the authority in question. Since I'm quoting a standard commentary accepted in both circles, the fact that you don't know who they are merely advertises your ignorance. It does not however, falsify the appeal any more than a Jehovah's Witness can falsify an appeal to Bruce Metzger. The onus is on the JW and the onus here is on you.

Types, by their very nature, only go so far. I wasn't even using that passage as an explicit example. But, the fact remains that the water in question is holy and it is being used to remove spiritual uncleanliness. That's the only reason why I cited it.
1. Notice that you still have yet to exegete the text.

2. This is still an assertion bereft on an argument, and if the water is a "type" of what is it a "type?" Holy Water? Where is the supporting argument?

3. Hebrews says all those "types" are fulfilled, so appealing to "types" is fallacious, once again, on exegetical grounds. The NT licenses water for baptism, nothing else.

4. The particular text in question is related to the ceremonial law, and both Catholicism and Protestantism accept that the ceremonial law has passed away. In appealing to this as an example of "holy water" is thus ruled out on those grounds alone. Thus, your position on that passage is out of step with your own communion.

5. You're also using "examples" to justify a present practice. Where is the supporting argument? The first (proto)deacons were chosen in Acts by lot. Tell me, do you advocate the choosing of deacons by lot? John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. Why don't you do the same? Saul killed the Amalekites. Hosea took an an adulterous wife and children. Go thou and do likewise.

Now, you'll notice that tfan is rejecting the very notion that water can even be made holy
No, he never rejects the consecration of water.

I'm not saying that it is "holy water" in the developed sense, as in "water that is blessed by a Catholic priest." Those passages are merely examples of water that was made holy, and/or water that was used in the same way that "holy water" (in the developed sense) is used today
1. Again, this is a caveat not in your original. Rather, you simply state that these are examples of "holy water." I've already been over that.

2. So you keep asserting, but you keep failing to demonstrate it. That's the problem. Your "analogies" are disanalogous in a number of ways, which I went over. Had you exegeted the texts, you'd have known that. You're citing them for "water that is made holy" but neglecting several important facts. So, at best, your citations are highly selective, at worst, you're wresting Scripture from its context and perverting it for your own ends.

For example:

Elisha makes the water "healed" [KJV], "purified" [NAS], or "wholesome" [RSV] (cf. 2 Ki 2:19-22).
This has all the virtue of the old joke about the backwoods preacher who believed he was called to preach who would simply turn in his Bible to a passage and preach from it without studying it. One day he turned to the passage "Judas hung himself." Startled, he closed his Bible and reopened it to a new text, "Go thou and do likewise." Now scared, he closed the Bible and opened it again, "What thou doest, do quickly."

No, Elisha makes the water pure for everyday use by the people. This is not an example of "holy water" or "holy water being used then like it is today." Do your priests consecrate holy water for drinking, washing dishes, and farming? No. What we have here is the miraculous purification of "bad water." Such water is common that part of the world.

Elisha ministered in a period of growing apostasy, so the land was experiencing numerous curses in accordance with the terms of the covenant, because of Israel's unfaithfulness. This was at Jericho, where Joshua had been. Abarbinel thinks it was so from the times of Joshua, being cursed by him; but, if so, it would not have been inhabited again; rather this was owing to a new curse, upon its being rebuilt; though this might affect only a small part of the ground, not the whole, as before observed. (Gill) God cleanses the water, showing mercy, and these waters are purified for use for something other than planting and yielding no crop; rather the water is purified for human consumption and the land is made to bear fruit. There is nothing here about "holy water." You, Nick, have abused the Word of God. Again, same standard commentary:

Elisha makes the water at Jericho wholesome.—During his stay at Jericho (v. 18) the people of the city complained, that whilst the situation of the place was good in other respects, the water was bad and the land produced miscarriages. haarets, the land, i.e., the soil, on account of the badness of the water; not “the inhabitants, both man and beast” (Thenius). Elisha then told them to bring a new dish with salt, and poured the salt into the spring with these words: “Thus saith the Lord, I have made this water sound; there will not more be death and miscarriage thence” (mishsham). m'shalleket is a substantive here (vid., Ewald, 160, e.).hammayimmotsa is no doubt the present spring Ain es Sulta{C}n,the only spring near to Jericho, the waters of which spread over the plain of Jericho, thirty-five minutes’ distance from the present village and castle, taking its rise in a group of elevations not far from the foot of the mount Quarantana(Kuruntul); a large and beautiful spring, the water of which is neither cold nor warm, and has an agreeable and sweet (according to Steph. Schultz, “somewhat salt”) taste. It was formerly enclosed by a kind of reservoir or semicircular wall of hewn stones, from which the water was conducted in different directions to the plain (vid., Rob. Pal.ii. p. 283ff.). With regard to the miracle, a spring which supplied the whole of the city and district with water could not be so greatly improved by pouring in a dish of salt, that the water lost its injurious qualities for ever, even if salt does possess the power of depriving bad water of its unpleasant taste and injurious effects. The use of these natural means does not remove the miracle. Salt, according to its power of preserving from corruption and decomposition, is a symbol of incorruptibility and of the power of life which destroys death (see Bähr, Symbolik,ii. pp. 325, 326). As such it formed the earthly substratum for the spiritual power of the divine word, through which the spring was made for ever sound. A new dish was taken for the purpose, not ob munditiem(Seb. Schm.), but as a symbol of the renewing power of the word of God.—But if this miracle was adapted to show to the people the beneficent character of the prophet’s ministry, the following occurrence was intended to prove to the despisers of God that the Lord does not allow His servants to be ridiculed with impunity.

The difference is that I base the legitimacy of my position upon the soundness of my argumentation, not upon my reputation or the status I have in the Church. In other words, nothing is ever right simply b/c I say so. Instead, it is right b/c of the evidence and the argumentation that I provide.
1. A caveat not in your original, and if we judge by the soundness of your argumentation, the Roman Church is hard up for apologists.

2. "The soundness of your argumentation" and you rejectig a person's testimony on the grounds of his vocation are not convertible categories, so your objection here doesn't work.

However, I'm simply supposed to believe that water is superstitious b/c some unnamed doctor a long time ago told Perrin that there were many superstitions among the people in medieval times?
Well, if we follow that sort of thinking, we can safely say that much of what you and I believe is to be dismissed. Why should I believe anything Eusebius of Caesarea said, if, that is I apply the same standard to his work that you apply to Perrin's?

I mean, give me a break! Tfan wants me to simply take this guy's word for it. That's an argument from authority, and if you're going to make an argument like that, then you have to make sure the person you are citing is an actual authority.

It is up to you to dispute the authority by disproving it since it's from your own side of the aisle. Instead, you simply waived your hand and said that physicians don't have authority in matters of theology in the Roman church. So much for the quality of your argumentation. Perrin is a historian, and yes, Nick, when you do that, you are engaging in rhetorical shorthand.

So, here's my challenge, PC, exegete each and every text that you gave and demonstrate that they say what you think they say and then make the connection to "holy water."

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