Saturday, October 18, 2014

Losing misplaced faith in Rome

The ball is in your court

Over at The Secular Outpost, Keith Parsons did a follow-up post on Biblical genocide. Here are my responses to him and some commenters. 

Again, though, Christianity has traditionally been committed to stating its case to unbelievers, using unbelievers’ own canons of rationality and morality to support the truth of the Christian revelation. From Paul on the Athenian Areopagus to Thomas Aquinas to Richard Swinburne and William Lane Craig, Christian intellectuals have sought out the skeptic in his own abode and argued that by even secular standards of rationality and morality, Christianity is the most reasonable and moral position. C.S. Lewis spent his career as an apologist trying to take the argument to the infidel, and to argue on the infidel’s terms. To argue with the unbeliever, you have to open your hermeneutical circle to him; you have to be willing to argue on his terms, not just your own.

i) That's oversimplified. The unbeliever can't just dictate the terms of engagement, however unreasonable or one-sided. The unbeliever has his own burden of proof. If the unbeliever makes the rules, then the outcome is foregone conclusion. You can't lose if you win by definition. That's not a serious debate. 

ii) Moreover, it's not as if "secular standards of rationality and morality" are monolithic. Atheists are all over the map on these issues. There is no uniform standard. 

iii) When, moreover, Christians like me do debate atheists on their own terms, by pointing out how atheism leads to moral and existential nihilism, or global skepticism, atheists become very irate. 

Judging by Veritas’ response, he would say that, yes, Muslims can make the same claim, but they are wrong, and the Israelites were right. Israel worshipped the True God and the Muslims do not. OK, you can take that line, but it obviously vastly increases your burden of proof. The justification for the passages in question now depends upon a whole, massive program of apologetic to prove that the Judeo-Christian God is in fact the true one. Only by proving this can you avoid the charge that you are engaging in special pleading, justifying actions for some (the true believers) that are not justified when committed by others. The ball is therefore in the apologist’s court, and the ball weighs a million tons.

Wrong. You don't have to prove Christianity to disprove Islam. You can disprove Islam on its own grounds. By Muhammad's own admission, the Bible (and the people of the book, Jews and Christians) supply the standard of comparison. 

The perpetrators of the genocide (or whatever you want to call it) are being asked by God to do something that no human being should be asked to do. 

Begs the question.

To be the perpetrator of a mass slaughter is not only a crime; it also entails harm to oneself. 

Whether or not it's a crime is the very point in dispute! 

No human person should be asked to kill children, even if those children are unrepentant idolators. 

Who is claiming the children are impenitent idolaters? 

Nobody should be asked to kill hundreds of fellow human beings in the manner in which God is described as asking the Israelites to slaughter the Amalekites even if those fellow human beings are irredeemably corrupt. 

What is he referring to? Death by the sword? 

People should not be asked to be the perpetrators of such horrendous acts because, again, such carnage involves harm not only to the victims but to the agents themselves.

Actually, doing the right thing can sometimes be emotionally or psychologically agonizing. That's true in war. That's true in some medical situations, where family members must make wrenching life-and-death decisions.  

To take another example, it's much easier to institutionalize some troubled family members (e.g. special needs children, senile parents) than care for them at home. That takes a tremendous toll of the caregiver, even if it's the right thing to do. 

Notice the glaring equivocation. A moral nihilist can't act more morally than a moral realist on nihilistic grounds. At best, he could only act more morally on realistic grounds. But that's judging his conduct by the very position he repudiates. So the comparison is incoherent.

"But you're not a moral nihilist, so what do you care?"
So are you asking the reader to judge the actions of the shooter by Christian ethics? How does that advance the argument for atheism?

"If a moral nihilist went on a shooting spree, would you refuse to judge his conduct by the very position he repudiates?"
Scott, what is the standard of comparison? You keep tripping over the same issue.
In your original comment you indicated the irrelevance of moral realism. You said on the one hand that a moral realist might violate his own principles. On the other hand, you said a moral nihilist might, for subjective reasons, do what the realism failed to do.
So how are you asking the reader to judge the shooter? By moral realism or moral nihilism?
"But you're not a moral nihilist, so what do you care? If the moral nihilist acts in the most upright manner you possibly can think of but the moral realist acts like a terribly awful person his entire life, would you deny that the moral nihilist has acted more morally?"
He acted more morally in spite of his position, not because of it.
"Regardless my point is the moral subjectivist or nihilist and the moral realist can display the exact same behavior…"
In which case, why bring up the shooting spree? If it isn't wrong to go on a shooting spree, what does your example illustrate?
"…so I'm curious why you keep trying to show the moral subjectivist's behavior to be incoherent."
You keep missing the point. Why is that?
I didn't suggest his behavior was incoherent. Rather, I said your evaluation of his behavior was incoherent.
"Moreover, I'm honestly curious how theism solves anything here. Why does God commanding anything thereby make it moral?"
If you're honestly curious, who have you read on the subject?

"I take that as an admission the moral nihilist acted more morally. And I take that as a huge admission."
To say that if Christianity is true and atheism is false, even a moral nihilist can do something objectively right is hardly a concession to atheism.

"No, I’m asking people who believe morality is either objective or subjective to judge the shooter. You obviously fall in the former category. I’m in the latter. And people who fall in either one of those categories can judge what the shooter did to be immoral."
So, moral relativists judge it to be subjectively immoral. Not truly immoral. And by that yardstick. other moral relativists might just as well judge the shooting spree to be subjectively moral.
"You judge it wrong because a biblical God told you that killing was wrong (in some circumstances)."
Well, that's a half-truth. It conflates moral epistemology with moral ontology.
"So the repeated question: 'Why do atheists who aren’t moral realists do X?' is irrelevant. And once I show that that's irrelevant, hopefully we can get back to the topic at hand, and the topic of Parsons's post: God acted really abominably during the whole Canaanite fiasco."
You chronically contradict yourself:
i) Atheists who aren't moral realists surrender the right to say God acted really abominably during the whole Canaanite fiasco.
ii) At best, they could try to argue that, according to Scripture itself, God acted really abominably. But, not surprisingly, they haven't been able to pull that off.
iii) Moreover, as I've pointed out on more than one occasion, if you reject moral realism, then why should you care how Yahweh acted? Why should you care what Christians believe?
iv) Some atheists who claim to be moral realists could attempt to attack Biblical holy war on external grounds. If, however, they take that tactic, the onus is on them to justify their version of moral naturalism. But in that event, they can't begin with an attack on Biblical holy war. Rather, they must begin by defending their value theory.
"Strangely enough, I think Bill Craig would agree with me on this. He has repeatedly said that atheists can act just as morally as theists, or even more so."
Actually, there's nothing unusual about Christian theologians granting that due to natural revelation and common grace, atheists can sometimes do things which are objectively right.
"He would only argue that, on the atheist view, there’s no objective base to that moral behavior."
Yes, that involves the routine distinction between how people act and whether their actions are objectively justifiable.
"But if the behaviors are the same, the issue seems more and more academic."
That only works to the degree that people are inconsistent or oblivious to their presuppositions. If, however, people are consistent or epistemologically self-conscious, that superficial similarity rapidly breaks down.
Moreover, it's funny when atheists like you retreat into anti-intellectualism. Aren't atheists concerned with taking a position to its logical extreme?
"it's unclear how God grounds morality better than anything else."
What literature have you studied on the subject?
"It also applies to me, because I have a subjective standard of comparison. Either way, I take it both of us would deem what the shooter did was wrong, no?"
To deem it to be subjectively wrong is factually indistinguishable from subjectively not wrong or subjectively right.
"I take that as an admission the moral nihilist acted more morally. And I take that as a huge admission."
A huge admission based on what?
"It’s perfectly possible that he acted more morally because of his position."
You keep toying with this Pickwickian definition of morality. If moral nihilism is true, then nothing he does is more moral or less moral.
"Now can we imagine the contrary? That he acted less morally (by your or my estimation)…"
You don't get a vote. You've disenfranchised yourself. You deny the existence of moral facts. Since you don't think there's true or false moral fact in how the shooter behaved, for you to say his action was (subjectively) immoral is an exercise in linguistic deception or self-deception.
"It goes against my subjective preferences…"
Like eating liver? If eating liver goes against your subjective preferences, does that make it wrong? Is a shooting spree equivalent to eating liver?
"No, you suggested his own evaluation of his behavior was incoherent."
It would only be incoherent if a moral nihilist deems his action to be good or bad.
"But as I’ve shown, and I think you've admitted, the non-moral realist can take any action he pleases."
I've admitted that a non-moral realist can be irrational.
"He can, as you admit, be MORE moral than the moral realist."
Not by his own yardstick, but by mine.
"So your attempt to charge incoherency against me and any other atheist fails."
To the contrary, you're confused (see above).
"you’ve got to stop asking me why I do certain things,"
No doubt it would be convenient for atheists to be let off their own hook. Don't expect that from me.
"Is the question too complicated to answer in a comment thread?"
Actually, I've been discussing that with Thibodeau. However, his modus operandi is to declare his own position true by definition. That's a convenient intellectual shortcut, but it proves nothing.
"This argument strikes me as very poor, and since I think Craig’s one of the best theistic proponents, I’ve always figured that was the best the theist had."
To begin with, there are varieties of divine command theory. In addition, there's natural law theory. Moreover, these aren't mutually exclusive.

Cosmic imagery

It is a serious misunderstanding of the relevant ways of speaking and writing to suppose that when the Bible speaks of the sun and the moon being darkened and the stars falling from heaven, and of similar “cosmic” events, it intends the language to be taken literally.

More specifically, different manners of speaking were available to those who wished to write or talk of the coming day when the covenant God would act to rescue his people…Metaphors from creation would likewise be appropriate. The sun would be turned to darkness, the moon to blood. 

It is vital for our entire perception of the worldview of first-century Jews, including particularly the early Christians, that we see what follows from all this. When they used what we might call cosmic imagery to describe the coming new age, such language cannot be reading in a crassly literalistic way without doing it great violence. The restoration which would be brought about was, of course, painted glowing and highly metaphorical colours. The New Testament and the People of God (1992), 283-84.
i) I appreciate the fact that Wright is debunking pop dispensationalism hermeneutics. Mind you, the fact that he's correcting one error doesn't make his own position correct. Indeed, he could be committing the opposite mistake by overreacting.

ii) It may also be that he's trying to make Scripture less vulnerable to scoffers. Perhaps he thinks some eschatological language involves a three story cosmography. Taken literally, that would be false.

iii) For some odd reason, he seems to equate a "literalistic" interpretation of this imagery with cosmic disintegration. But there's no reason to suppose the phenomena he quotes, even if taken literally, denotes cosmic disintegration.

iv) We also need to distinguish between figurative imagery and mythopoetic imagery. He acts as though the imagery he quotes can't be literally true. But even if, for the sake of argument, we think the imagery he quotes is figurative, that doesn't make it mythopoetic. In fact, it's fairly prosaic.

v) Apropos (iii-iv), he doesn't seem to grasp what the imagery describes. In my opinion, a darkened sun denotes a solar eclipse, a darkened or blood-colored moon denotes a lunar eclipse, and falling stars denote a meteor shower. There's nothing inherently figurative about that imagery. These are natural phenomena. I myself have witnessed a solar eclipse. Unfortunately, it was overcast. Even so, for a few minutes morning became night.

I've witnessed a lunar eclipse. The moon was literally darkened. And it was reddish. A red hue. And I've probably seen shooting stars.

vi) As I've remarked before, I think one problem with some Bible scholars is that they are so out of touch with nature that they just assume certain descriptions must be figurative or mythopoetic. It's not something they themselves have observed or experienced.

Keep in mind, too, that if you live in or near a big city, light pollution obscures stargazing. But people in Bible times had a better view of the night sky than we do.

Just recently, as I was returning from a late afternoon walk, I saw a sunset sundog (parhelion). That's a rare optical illusion in which refracted sunlight generates a cloudy virtual mirror-image. A double sun.

Now, if I was a Bible writer or Intertestamental writer, Wright would chalk that up to "figurative" omen. Yet it really happens.

vii) I don't think there's a presumption that cosmic Biblical imagery is either literal or figurative. That depends on the context and the genre. And sometimes context or genre is inconclusive. In those cases, you have to be open-minded.

viii) In addition, there's nothing mythopoetic about Christ returning in the clouds. I think that's like Ezk 1. Christ will return in the Shekinah.


Bad language alert:

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Social Issues And The Electoral College

Here's an excerpt from a good post by Henry Olsen:

Should You Not Do Apologetics Because God Is In Control?

Below are some excerpts from a good post by WinteryKnight. He's responding to a woman named Hope who made some comments related to apologetics. I don't know just how applicable WinteryKnight's comments are to Hope. I don't know much about her, and some of her comments seem more ambiguous than WinteryKnight suggests. But even if he's assumed too much about her and is hyperbolic at points, the general thrust of what he's saying is correct and should be said much more often and in a lot more places. If he's erring in one direction, he's doing so in response to a culture (and church) that's erring by a far wider margin in the opposite direction. More people need to talk like this (with the qualifications I've mentioned above):

Bad case scenario or worse case scenario?

There are several scenarios for how this plays out. One is that the conventional methods of containing Ebola — isolating patients and doing contact tracing of people who might be exposed — lower the rate of new infections until finally the epidemic burns itself out. That has been the case in all previous outbreaks of Ebola, although no outbreak has ever been nearly as extensive as this one.

A second scenario is more dire: The conventional methods come too late, the epidemic keeps spreading, and the virus is beaten back only when vaccines can be developed and scaled up to the point where they can be widely distributed. As the number of infections increases, so does the possibility that a person with Ebola will carry it to another country. This is known as an export. "So we had two exports in the first 2,000 patients,” Frieden said in a recent interview. “Now we’re going to have 20,000 cases, how many exports are we going to have?"

70 weeks

24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator” (Dan 9:24-27).
I'm going to discuss several different interpretations of this passage.
1. There's the liberal interpretation, which relates this to the Antiochean crisis in the mid-2C BC. This suffers from some basic problems:
i) It's predicated a the secular assumption that there is no God who reveals the future.
ii) It identifies the character who's "cut off" as Onias III. However, even on liberal dating schemes, that's off by over 70 years. Liberals salvage that identification by blaming the anachronism on the the anonymous author of Daniel, who was confused. Of course, that's a circular argument. Their identification is inconsistent with the evidence. So they preemptively discount falsifying counterevidence.
iii) Antiochus never destroyed the temple or the city (of Jerusalem). And that's hardly an incidental detail.
iv) Likewise, what does the "strong covenant" refer to in his career? 
v) Ironically, liberals have their own gap theory, when they split the seven weeks from the sixty-two weeks. Likewise, they split the "prince" and "anointed one" in vv25-26a into two different figures. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it disqualifies them from attacking amils and premils who draw similar distinctions. 
2. Some interpretations think there are two characters in view. A protagonist and an antagonist. This, in turn, has two basic variations:
i) Jesus is the protagonist, while Titus and Hadrian are the antagonists. Titus and Hadrian destroy the temple and/or the city (of Jerusalem).
ii) Jesus is the protagonist, while a future Antichrist is the antagonist.
3. Apropos 2(ii):
On this view, Dan 9:26 refers to 1C events while v27 refers to still future events. The "covenant" is a treaty or nonaggression pact which the Antichrist makes with the Jews on his rise to power. He later reneges on the deal. 
What are we to make of this interpretation? 
i) I think proponents are correct to believe that the 1C events did not exhaust Dan 9:24-27.
ii) There's nothing inherently ad hoc about positing temporal gaps. Both amils and premils do this. Arguably, that's clearly in view in Daniel, at one point or another. As one scholar notes:
But you notice between verse 2 and 3 there is an unmentioned interval of over 150 years. Daniel simply passes from Xerxes who attacked Greece, to Alexander the Great, who destroyed the Persian Empire. Daniel skips over 150 years without any reference to it. 
…in chapter 2, chapter 7, and chapter 9 he [E. J. Young] is very much against the idea of an unmentioned interval between two great events. But here he assumes a jump of at least two thousand years without it being mentioned between verse 11:35 and 36…Young, without saying so, assumes an unmentioned interval of at least 2000 years at this point between Antiochus Epiphanes and the Antichrist.
Of course, making allowance for temporal gaps doesn't justify posting temporal gaps without sufficient exegetical justification.
iii) However, both 9:26 and 9:27 share a common "desolation" motif. "Desolation" in v27 is a carryover from "desolation" v26. It seems arbitrary to split them up.
In addition, it's artificial to drive a wedge between "city and the sanctuary" in v26 and "sacrifice and offering" in v27. Those are clearly interrelated concepts. Jerusalem and the temple are where sacrifice and offering take place. 
iv) In addition, if we correlation Dan 9:24-27 with the Olivet Discourse, Jesus is, in part, answering a question about the Second Temple. The Herodian temple. That's the frame of reference. Not a Millennial temple.
v) Proponents of this view tend to flip back and forth. V24 is mainly about the future, although "atoning for iniquity" is about the past (i.e. the Crucifixion). Vv25-26 shift back to the past (i.e. the public ministry of Christ) while v27 shifts to the far future. It's a very choppy interpretation, which breaks up the flow of the passage. Not just gaps, but reversals.
In fairness, though, prophecy might include flashbacks and flash forwards. 
vi) There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea that the Antichrist might make a temporary treaty with the Jews. However, the text itself doesn't say that or imply that. In addition, I think that's out of context (see below).
4. Some interpretations think there's just one character in view throughout. That has two basic variations:
i) Christ is the consistent referent.
ii) The Antichrist is the consistent referent.
5) Apropos 4(ii), this suffers from a couple of basic problems:
i) It shares some problems with #3. 
ii) Arguments for the messianic interpretation militate against it (see below).
Apropos 4(i), on this view:
i) The Crucifixion moots the sacrificial system. In effect, the city and sanctuary are destroyed by his definitive redemptive death. At that point they've outlived their rationale. 
ii) The Crucifixion is the abomination of desolation.
iii) The "strong covenant" refers to the new covenant, foretold by Jeremiah (Jer 31). And we know that Jeremiah's oracles were on Daniel's mind (Dan 9:2). 
iv) There's a pun between "cutting" a covenant (an idiomatic term for making a covenant) and the Messiah who is "cut off" (i.e. crucified).
v) The church age is the 70th week. It began in the past, but the ending is future. 
6) I think elements of (5) are very appealing. But it suffers from some weaknesses:
i) Why would we favor a figurative interpretation when the temple and the city were actually razed by Titus and Hadrian's forces? The wording of the oracle, combined with subsequent events, invites a literal interpretation.
ii) Although, taken by itself, the Crucifixon is uniquely "abominable," in what sense would the Crucifixion be a sign or advance warning to flee Jerusalem and head for the hills decades ahead of time? It makes no sense of how that functions in the Olivet Discourse. 
7) It's possible to combine some details of these different interpretations.
i) For instance, who destroyed Jerusalem? Literally, that was Titus and Hadrian. Yet they were agents of God. So God destroyed it. And the Jews brought it on themselves. So they destroyed it–when they repudiated the Messiah. From that moment on, its doom was a foregone conclusion. And there's a sense in which Jesus destroyed it by rendering it obsolete.  
ii) Just as Antiochus was a type of Roman emperors or a type of Antichrist, Roman emperors can be a type of Antichrist. 
Likewise, one can view the fall of Jerusalem as a type of endtime deliverance and judgment. 

Personal protective equipment

It appears there was better PPE used with a fictional movie character in the 1980s than there is in CDC Ebola guidelines today:


What does the future look like?

1) There are different ways of interpreting the Olivet Discourse. Some view it as all in the future. Some view it as all in the past. Some view it as partly past and partly future. 
Of those who view it as all in the past, we can break that down into three subdivisions:
i) Those who think it was a failed prediction.
ii) Those who think it was a retrodiction.
iii) Those who think it was a true, but figurative prediction.
Even if we rightly discount the liberal interpretations, conservative, capable scholars struggle to present a consistent interpretation. Why is that?
2) Let's take a step back and ask how Jesus knew the future. How was he in a position to answer the disciples? What was his source of information?
i) One explanation is divine omniscience. And in the Gospels, Jesus certainly makes statements which dip into his divine omniscience. 
However, a problem with that explanation in this case is his admission of ignorance regarding the timing of the event (Mt 24:36; Mk 13:32). He knows what will happen, but not when it will happen. 
ii) In light of (i), it seems more likely, in the case of the Olivet Discourse, that Christ's foreknowledge is based on revelation. In principle, this could be indirect. It could be based on his understanding of OT prophecy. Or it could be direct. He himself was the recipient of divine revelation. 
3) Let's explore the latter option. Assuming the source of his foreknowledge was revelation, what mode of revelation would that be? Well, in principle, it could one of two different modes:
i) It could be propositional revelation. He was given true ideas about the future. 
ii) It could be visionary revelation. He saw the future. 
Certainly, visionary revelation has ample precedent in the OT, as well as NT counterparts. 
4) Suppose his foreknowledge (in the Olivet Discourse) was based on visionary revelation.  
i) To begin with, what does the future look like? If you could see the future, would it look futuristic? Let's consider some examples:
a) As a kid I saw a short-lived SF series called UFO. The series actually began in 1970, but was set 10 years ahead in 1980. 
Problem is, 1980 came and went, but 1980 didn't look anything like the projection. it only took 10 years for the series to appear hopelessly anachronistic.
b) Even if I didn't know for a fact when Bullitt was made, or who the actors were, I could tell from the cars (e.g. Mustang, Dodge Charger) that it was either made in the late 60s or else it was set in the late 60s. The film contains datable artifacts. Datable technology.
However, even that depends on the background knowledge of the viewer. I was a kid when the film was made, so I remember cars like that. But, of course, you could have a viewer who doesn't recognize period cars. 
c) Suppose I had a vision of a Siberian forest in 1000 BC. Suppose I had a vision of a Siberian forest in 1000 AD. Could I tell, by what I saw, whether I was seeing the past or the future? Does the image contain any chronological clues? Or is it too generic?
d) If I saw a vision of a London in the middle ages, and I knew enough about historical architecture, I could place it somewhere in the middle ages. But suppose I saw an image of the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde. Could I tell if that was earlier or later than the image of London? Presumably, Cliff palace didn't change as much over the centuries. 
5) My point is not that a prophet can't know if he's seeing the past or the future. My point is that, taken all by itself, what he sees may not be time-indexed. Over and above what he sees, God would have to tell him if it was past or future. 
6) Then there's one additional complication. That's reducing a prophetic vision to a verbal description. Suppose I foresee a Siberian forest. Suppose I describe what I foresaw: "There were lots of fir trees and snow on the ground."
The verbal description doesn't contain any chronological clues. That would have to be supplied by an editorial comment. 
What makes that vision a vision about the future? Basically, the intent of the writer. I intend it to refer to a future scene or future event. 
7) Now, it's possible that this is why some of the descriptions in the Olivet Discourse are chronologically ambiguous. Visions of the near future may be indistinguishable from visions of the distant future, or vice versa. And that same ambiguity may carry over to a verbalized vision. 
Unless you have an editorial aside or parenthetical comment, it may be hard to sort them out.    

The Crazies

After weeks of assuring Americans that there is no long-term, wide-scale threat to the United States from Ebola, CDC director Tom Frieden told Congress there could be a long-term, wide-scale threat to the United States from Ebola.
“I will tell you, as the director of CDC, one of the things I fear about Ebola is that it could spread more widely in Africa,” he told a House committee on Thursday. “If this were to happen, it could become a threat to our health system, and the health care we give, for a long time to come.”
The World Health Organization recently increased expected Ebola cases in west Africa from 1,000 per week to 10,000. And the United Nations warned Tuesday that the world has less than 60 days before the outbreak in the region becomes uncontrollable.
It's sobering to consider how something like this could destroy civilization. If too many people become infected, it becomes unstoppable. Then what?

It's like the black plague, which decimated Europe. But, actually, modern civilization is far more fragile than the middle ages.

Even 100 years ago, many people were far more self-sufficient. They lived on family farms. Even cities were largely supplied by local farms. Food was close by. Likewise, people in the middle ages didn't rely on electricity or refrigeration. 

Now we have huge metropolitan centers entirely dependent on food trucked in from other states. We have food production dependent on agribusiness. 

We also depend on telecommunications and electronic financial transactions. We depend on fiat money, which requires gov't enforcement.

What if all that collapses because there are no longer enough people to run things–like oil and gas production? What about medications that require refrigeration? 

If the power grid goes down, nuclear generators go critical. 

Also, as we've seen, the very people treating the sick are also vulnerable to infection. It's a vicious cycle.

What about ravenous feral dog packs roaming the streets and countryside? 

You can imagine a scenario like 28 Weeks Later or The Crazies where authorities firebomb or neutron bomb cities. They kill everyone in hopes of killing the carriers.

I'm not making a prediction. I'm just discussing how quickly and easily the situation could escalate to a worst-case scenario. All those apocalyptic films we've been raised on suddenly come true.

Or, to take a more reliable comparison, those catastrophic judgment scenes in Revelation.

Kruger reviews Enns

Untangling “Tradition” from Scripture in the 13th Century

“Alexander’s comment indicates, thus, his sense both of the priority of Scripture as a source of Christian doctrine and of the sufficiency of the biblical record for the salvation of human beings.”

This is an example of moving back from the brink. At another point, Richard Muller pointed out how “Scripture and ‘the tradition’ had become conflated”, a process that peaked during the 12th century. Later (in the 13th century), this conflation began to come undone, and the “distinction” between the two enabled an emerging doctrine of Scripture to take form during the high Medieval years.

It was discussions of precisely how this came about that led to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

Just as the medieval view of text, canon, and exegesis is the proper background against which the Reformation and the subsequent development of Protestant approaches to Scripture must be understood, so also is the medieval doctrine of Scripture the necessary background to an understanding of the development of an orthodox Protestant doctrine of Scripture.

What normal Muslims believe

In their own words:

Latest dispatches from the One True Church®

In a time of such widespread moral confusion, I'm eternally grateful that the One True Church® speaks with such clarity, unlike those benighted Protestants:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Liberal indoctrination

Tremper's tirade

I don't know if it's really worthwhile for me to comment on Tremper Longman's tirade in response to Lillback's reply. Longman is planning a series of responses. This may be my only comment. But for now I'll offer an initial comment:
I am writing this time because I am thinking of posting the transcript (or part thereof) of a conversation that you had with Van Til about forty years ago. In one sense it is old news, but in another it shows a trajectory of thought of trying to undermine the Seminary in the eighties that I and others think lead to your actions today. 
Also, I should point out that if you use my friend Bruce Waltke for political reasons I will expand my efforts to expose you. Yes I am seeking to undermine the present Westminster. The difference between you and me is that I am transparent in my efforts and you and Carl and others work in secrecy and with misdirection.
Since you all have chosen not to respond to our public and private approaches to you, I will give you till Thursday to respond or I will assume that you accept my assessment of this situation and will proceed with my post.

i) I think Longman comes across as sophistical, egostical, and delusional. To a great extent, Longman is just a purveyor of gossip. 

ii) I don't think Longman is putting all his cards on the table. I expect he's so invested in this issue because he views the position of the current regime at WTS as a repudiation of the position he and Dillard took in the OT introduction they coauthored. So he may well view the current policy change as an tacit, implicit attack on his own views. That's why he takes it so personally. There's also the question of whether he thinks Enns is out of bounds. Although, from what I can tell, Longman is to the right of Enns, he teaches at Westmont and Fuller, so he may feel that even if he disagrees with Enns, the position taken by Enns falls within permissible diversity.

iii) He also acts like Waltke is a senile old fool who's being manipulated by others. Now, admittedly, Waltke's about 84, so perhaps he's losing his marbles. But is there any evidence that he is, in fact, becoming feebleminded? 

iv) Then he lays down an ultimatum, and pretends that if Lillback doesn't respond by his dictatorial deadline, that means Lillback agrees with Tremper's assessement of the situation. Pure sophistry! 

v) He spins an elaborate conspiracy theory out of his fervid imagination. The Van Til interview was part of a long-term plot. The Waltke retirement gig was a diversionary tactic. The ghost of S. Lewis Johnson is behind this hostile takeover. 

First, I cannot speak to all three instances where Dr. Lillback was passed over for a faculty position, but I can for the first two and they were nothing analogous to the Fantuzzo situation. He was interviewed and the faculty agreed he was not the right person to fill that position.
That's not self-explanatory. Does he mean the history dept. thought he was the right person to fill that position, but when it came to a full faculty vote, it went against him? For unless it got to that stage, I don't see that a member of the OT dept. would be involved in the deliberations of the history dept. But maybe I'm missing something.
Second, I knew Al Groves very well, having hired him and worked with him for over fifteen years (and considering him one of my very best friends), and let me just say he deeply loved Doug Green and he would be distraught over Doug Green’s situation. To invoke his name in this context is a travesty.
It's easy to speak on behalf of the dead, since they are in no position to take issue with the words you put in their mouth.
And as far as that goes, E. J. Young (as well as Oswald Allis, Robert Dick Wilson, and Alan MacRae) would be distraught over the OT introduction which Longman coauthored with Dillard. Not to mention that E. J. Young would be distraught over Peter Enns teaching there. So ventriloquizing for the dead is cuts both ways. 
And yes, Iain Duguid, is a respected former student of mine. He also knows that I am deeply disappointed that he accepted the position in the manner that it was offered to him.
As far as that goes, Duguid might be deeply disappointed with Longman's antics and tactics. 
And finally, I did not know Lillback had to hire a senior Old Testament professor to lead the department since they had a senior Old Testament professor, Doug Green, who had not yet been forced to retire.
Of course, that's disingenuous. That represents Longman's viewpoint, not Lillback's. 
But what is most egregious about Lillback’s statement is that it misrepresents the circumstances of Fantuzzo’s departure. For that reason, I asked Chris if he was willing to comment on the situation.
Which becomes a he said/she said situation.
I don’t recall the board’s vote, but I wasn’t passed over; I was appointed as a full-time faculty member, and the search was closed. The idea that once hired I was still competing for the position is absurd.
But in a previous letter, Fantuzzo indicates that he was simply given a 3-year contract:
The only difficulty I faced during the interview process came in a phone interview with Greg Beale, which I thought inappropriate because he wasn’t a Westminster faculty member. He mainly voiced objections to Longman and Dillard’s An Introduction to the Old Testament, expressing disagreement with their views on Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, authorship of Isaiah, and the composition and date of Daniel. We disagreed about his reading of Longman/Dillard, but nothing more came of it. Though ST Prof Lane Tipton told me that Beale recommended that the WTS faculty limit my contract to one year rather than three.
So it wasn't a permanent job. Rather, the seminary was free to renew or not renew his contract when it expired. That's how it looks to me. 
The truth is the OT department, the faculty, President Lillback, the administration, and the board all welcomed me, making it plain that I had safely secured the post and would be promoted once my dissertation was finished. That was not a promise put in writing, but I was told to expect advancement as I met the benchmarks published in the faculty manual.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that that's correct:
i) If so, I can understand why he'd feel that after receiving the red carpet treatment, the rug was pulled out from under him. 
ii) Why would the current regime change its mind about Fantuzzo? In his previous letter, he said a student was recording his lectures, which he interprets as surveillance. If, as a result, the current regime acquired more information about his views, that, might in turn, cause Lillback et al. to reconsider. Keep in mind, too, that during this period there was some change in the composition of the faculty (e.g. adding Beale) as well as the board. So the ground may indeed, have shifted. 
When competent administrations make decisions affecting the future of OT studies at a seminary—of all departments—do they leave the OT department out of the process? Wouldn’t responsible leadership give special consideration to the members of faculty with expertise in the field? So, why did the Lillback administration snub Doug Green and Mike Kelly?
If the current regime deemed the OT dept. to be the source of the problem, then you're not going to consult the very people you intend to replace. 
And why did they keep my other WTS colleagues in the dark? Is it because plans to eliminate Doug were already in the works?
That raises a logistical question. If the current regime planned to cashier the OT faculty, it would be quite maladroit to begin ousting OT profs. unless they had replacements lined up. But timing that is tricky. So it wouldn't surprise me of there were overlapping negotiations with overlapping timelines. It's like selling your house to finance the purchase of a new house. Unless you coordinate the closing dates, you will end up nowhere to live during the interim.
(5) If a fair and open competition were being held, why was Peter’s “presidential constitutional prerogative” required both to block my promotion and to appoint Iain Duguid?(6) And when Peter finally announced Iain’s “nomination” to faculty, why did Jeff insist that there would be no discussion of the matter? Don’t public and fair competitions welcome frank and open conversations?The truth is I wasn’t passed over: Peter Lillback treated my colleagues and me with contempt because I was being eliminated. His actions in my case were simply the next phase in what’s amounting to a ‘totalitarian purge’ of the WTS OT faculty.
Why must there be competing applicants for an open position? I could see a problem of Lillback appointed Duguid, and unilaterally imposed him on the roster. But what's the problem with Lillback nominating Duguid, subject to the approval of the full faculty and board? 
Keep in mind, too, that Duguid is clearly more qualified that Fantuzzo. He's a seasoned Reformed OT scholar who's published several commentaries or expository sermon series. He has extensive pastoral as well as teaching experience. 

Trial balloon

To understand the current discussion, the key point to emphasize is the indissolubility of a valid Christian marriage. The Catechism states: 
Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. (CCC 1640) 
The Church has no power to change this teaching, because it is the teaching of Christ. (Matthew 19:11-12) This is something the non-Catholic media often misunderstand. The Church’s dogma on marriage is not a “policy” that can be changed, any more than the Nicene Creed is a “policy.” In this regard, the Church’s Magisterium is a servant of the truth, not its master. The Catechism says, “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.” (CCC 86) 
Because marriage is indissoluble, a validly married Catholic who obtains a civil divorce from a judge and then contracts another civil marriage is objectively in the state of ongoing adultery. Jesus said, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12) Again, following the teaching of Christ and the words of Sacred Scripture, the Church has no choice but to withhold communion from those deemed to be in grave sin. (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Matthew 18:17)
i)This nicely illustrates the circular logic of the Catholic convert/apologist. Who determines what is dogma in the first place if not the Magisterium? Hence, Anders can't very well go behind the back of the Magisterium by direct appeal to Scripture. That's the Catholic dilemma: if you have independent access to the authoritative teaching of Scripture, that moots the Magisterium. 
ii) Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Pope Francis did want to change dogma. How would a savvy pontiff go about that? Would he simply abrogate the Catechism? To begin with, how can one pope pull rank on another pope? It's like one 5-star-general pulling rank on another 5-star general. If a pope invoked his authority to trump what previous popes officially taught, that would call his own authority into question. Popes need to seem to agree with each other. 
So a savvy pontiff would float a trial balloon. You avoid the appearance of reversing dogma. Instead of a full-frontal assault, you back into the change. An incremental change.
I'm not claiming for a fact that Francis is trying to change "dogma." I'm just saying it's naive to suppose that if a pope were so inclined, he'd go about it in a brazen fashion. Rome values the appearance of continuity.
iii) Catholic apologists like to lecture Protestants on how we just don't understand. Unless certain magic words are used, like "ex cathedra," "de fide," or "by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma," it doesn't stick. 
Yes, we understand that face-saving distinction. It doesn't matter what the Magisterium says or does as long as that is technically distinguished from "dogma." Dogma could be locked away in a secret vault. The pope forgot the combination. The pope could preach heresy, but as long as dogma is contained in that safe, the infallibility of the church is untarnished by whatever is said or done outside the secret vault.   
iv) There are, however, problems with that technical distinction. To begin with, it illustrates another Catholic dilemma. When Catholic apologists are making a case for Rome, they make great claims about how the Magisterium furnishes the ethical and doctrinal certainty which sola Scriptura can never provide. 
When, however, Catholic apologists are defending Rome against the charge of ethical and doctrinal inconsistencies in its teaching, they suddenly issue disclaimers about the uncertainty of Catholic teaching unless it meets an elusive technical definition. To make certainty unfalsifiable, they must make certainty unverifiable. 
v) In addition, the "progressive" wing doesn't need an outright win. Take Vatican II. That represents a compromise between the modernists and the traditionalists. But for the modernists, a compromise is a win. The only policy change they require is permission. Relaxation of the status quo ante. 
There are two ways a policy can change:

a) We used to oppose X, but now we support X. 

b) We no longer oppose X.

Progressives don't need (i). (ii) is enough. They now have the freedom to teach and practice what they believe. All they need is a wedge. A concession. 

You don't need to change "dogma." A policy change will give you all the advantages of a dogmatic change without the logical or historical disadvantages.  

vi) This synod wasn't a case where the pope appointed an ad hoc committee to study an issue, then report back to him. Francis was front and center. You can't blame it on the subordinates. He's the fall guy. 

vii) Why, moreover, would Francis convene this extraordinary synod unless he intended to change the status quo? All by itself, convening this very public synod fosters an enormous expectation that there will be some sort of policy change. If that was not his intention, then he's incompetent. 

I suppose a Catholic apologist could always say the Holy Spirit prompted the cardinals to elect an incompetent pontiff. (Wouldn't be the first time.) 

“The Influence of Patristic Literature upon the Reformation”, Part 2

Nathan Rinne has just published Part 2 of a series with the rough title of “The Influence of Patristic Literature upon the Reformation”:

“In his groundbreaking work on the Italian monk and theologian Ambrose Traversari (1386-1439) Charles L Stinger, professor of history at Buffalo University, describes the revival of patristic studies at the beginning of the 15th century.

According to Stinger, significant catalyst for that revival was the desire on the part of humanists to confront Aristotelian scholastic theology with what they considered to be a superior alternative.

While Stinger’s treatment of the topic ends with the Council of Basel-Ferrara-Florence (1431-47), he makes the somewhat startling claim that a revival in patristic studies would continue all the way into the 17th century as a discernable conflict between patristic and scholastic theology, a conflict that would only come to an end when Protestant theologians “began to return to [Aristotelian] dialectics to analyze the orthodox creedal formulations of the Augsburg Confession and Heidelberg Catechism.”…

Read the entire piece here.

Here is Part 1: “Was a significant aspect of the Reformation a revival of patristic theology?”

The Quadriga, Medieval Exegesis, and the Rising Need to Know Hebrew and Greek

There was what we’d call “good sense” in Medieval exegesis, and also some nonsense. Separating the two wasn’t always possible, but some clear thinkers, even in the middle ages, could find their way through to what was important:

George Whitefield

Not only was Whitefield a peerless evangelist, he was a saintly Christian:

The liberal coalition

I'd like to say a little more about the ups and downs of the culture wars. The liberal coalition is fragile. Liberal activists are fairly successful when they are united by a common cause, united by a common aim, and united behind a common foe.

Ironically, however, their success can be their very undoing. For instance, as long as they can focus on Christians as "the enemy," that's a galvanizing influence. 

To the extent, however, that they succeed in disenfranchising Christians, Christians cease to be as threatening to them. At that point they begin to turn on each other. 

For instance, feminism is a driving force in liberalism. That also requires an enemy: men. Liberal policies are increasingly anti-male. Take California's recent "affirmative consent" law. Not surprisingly, Harvard has followed suit. Or take liberal animosity towards male-oriented sports.

Problem is, this strategy requires liberals to antagonize about one half of the population. And not just white men or social conservatives. But men en masse–including men who are otherwise disposed to be liberal. What happens when men get fed up with being pushed around?

Another example is the civil warfare within organized atheism. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins v. the feminists and apologists for Islam. 

In this respect, liberals are like Muslims. Muslims have two perceived enemies: the infidel, and fellow Muslims. To some extent, killing the infidel is a temporary distraction from their favorite pastime: killing each other. Islam is so factionalized, with murderous tribal and theological animosities. 

That's also an occupational hazard for liberals. Liberals are never safe from fellow liberals, for liberal orthodoxy can change on a dime. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Duty is ours, consequences are God's

i) It may feel like we're losing the culture wars. Perhaps we are. Even if that's the case, remember the epigram attributed to Stonewall Jackson: "Duty is ours, consequences are God's."

That's good advice for Christian culture warriors. 

ii) That said, the future is unpredictable. That's because the winners die. Every three generations or so, the human race undergoes a complete turnover. Every few generation you have a whole new cast of characters. So the past is no guide to the future. 

In that respect, no one ever wins or loses the "war." We only win or lose battles. The war is out of our hands. For the cause outlives both sides of the battle. Both winners and losers die. Others take their place. That's why, for better or worse, nothing is etched in stone. The status quo is inherently unstable. 

iii) In addition, unbelievers are sore winners. If you keep abusing your power, you can provoke a backlash. If you abuse your power too often, you lose your power. Even military dictators can be toppled. 

iv) Keep in mind, too, that in the culture wars, the liberals lost many battles before they began to win. Liberals win because they never give up. They keep agitating until they win a precedent. Doesn't matter how many times they lose. They only need to win once to get a foothold. Once they get a foothold, they build on that.

And two can play that game. That strategy is available to conservatives as well. 

v) The liberal power base is the media, judiciary, and academia. These are all quite vulnerable. The liberal establishment no longer have a lock on the media. Newspapers and network news are moribund. Cable TV, talk radio, and the Internet have created tremendous ideological competition.

For many people, a college degree is no longer cost effective. That will weaken academia. Liberal economic policies which destroy wealth creation will also result in cuts to state universities. 

And, of course, you now have online eduction. That, too, weakens the academic establishment. 

That leaves the judiciary. But the judiciary is always up for grabs. 

Rome's blueprint for anarchy

Parsing the Olivet Discourse

I'm going to say a bit more about my interpretation of the Olivet Discourse. My interpretation is provisional.

1) One complication is the fact that this discourse is recorded, with variations, in all three Synoptic Gospels. So one question is how to correlate them.

2) Some scholars, based on the assumption of Markan priority, as well as the further assumption that Mark's version is more "authentic" (because it's earlier and less subject to embellishment than Matthew and Luke), take Mark's version as the standard of comparison.

Although I think Markan priority is plausible, I don't think that makes his version more authentic than the other two.

3) Other scholars center their analysis on Matthew's version because that's the most detailed. And I think that's logical, although it's important to qualify that by comparing Matthew with Mark and Luke.

4) There are roughly three basic interpretive approaches one can take to the Olivet Discourse:

i) Interpret the text preteristically throughout.

ii) Interpret the text futuristically throughout.

iii) Interpret the first part preteristically and the second part futuristically. 

All three approaches can appeal to some verses which support their approach. All three approaches must square their interpretation with problem passages that seem to be at odds with their approach. It's difficult to consistently carry through any of the three approaches. 

5) I myself incline to 4(iii). What about difficulties with that approach?

i) One source of ambiguity is due to the fact that we're dealing with a prediction that is, in some measure, modeled on OT exemplars. So the language is, to that extent, allusive and impressionistic rather than precisely descriptive. 

ii) In Biblical typology, an earlier event can foreshadow a later event. But that's a two-way street. Typology assumes similarity between type and antitype. But in that case, just as an earlier event can foreshadow a later event, a later event can backshadow an earlier event. Even if the Olivet discourse is predicting an event in the near future (the First Jewish Revolt) as well as another event in the distant future (the Parousia), it wouldn't be surprising if it sometimes uses similar language for both, inasmuch as type and antitype are, in fact, similar to some degree. Typology involves repetitive historical patterns.

iii) I'm inclined to say the first part of the text emphasizes the First Jewish Revolt while the second part emphasizes the Return of Christ, which has yet to eventuate. 

Let's also consider some specific verses:

6) Who are the Messianic pretenders? In principle, this could refer to two different kinds of claimants:

i) These could be men who claim to be the real Messiah, in contrast to Jesus. That claim would be more likely to mislead some Jews or Jewish-Christians. 

ii) These could be men who claim to be Jesus. They are Jesus come back. That claim would be more likely to mislead some Gentile Christians. 

iii) Preterists identify these claimants with some 1C candidates. One problem with that identification is that Jesus says at least some of the claimants gain a following by performing miracles. So that sets the bar pretty high, even for impostors. 

7) There's some difficulty correlating the "abomination of desolation" with a 1C event. Considered in isolation, the best candidate for that identification would be the Roman desecration of the temple, after the Romans sacked Jerusalem and invaded the city. But in context, that's much too late to serve as advance warning to get out while the getting is good. 

Some preterists correlate the "abomination of desolation" with the Zealot desecration of the temple. That's probably their best bet. But whether that's how the disciples, or the original readers of the Synoptic Gospels, would construe the reference, is a different question.

8) Even if, taken in isolation, it's possible to interpret the "coming Son of Man" imagery in Mt 24 preteristically, doesn't that commit the preterist to interpreting Mt 25 preteristically as well? 

9) There's the question of what "the end" refers to. In context, does that denote fall of Jerusalem or the Parousia?

10) What does the phrase "wars and rumors of wars" refer to? Was there ever a time in human history when you didn't have wars and rumors of war? That makes even less sense on a global, purely futuristic interpretation. 

If, however, this alludes to the ramp up to the First Jewish Revolt, then that makes a lot of sense. When you hear about insurrection in Jerusalem and Judea, now is the time to get out of Dodge, for once the Roman armies occupy the countryside and surround the city, you're trapped. 

11) What about earthquakes? These are so random that they don't seem to be advance warning. Perhaps, though, the point is not the occurrence of these signs in isolation, but an unusual conjunction of independent signs.

12) The imagery of someone on the rooftop having to leave everything behind naturally suggests an elevated vantage-point from which the observer could see the advancing Roman armies. Had he heeded the preliminary signs, that would have given him sufficient lead-time to make his escape with provisions, at a good time of year for travel. But if you wait until you can see the whites of their eyes, than you waited too long. You are likely to be overtaken. Your escape route cut off. Weather may be rotten for travel by foot. You're lack provisions. I think this section is clearly concerned with location conditions in and around Jerusalem. If you wait until the Roman counterattack is imminent, you just ran out of time. 

13) On a global, futurist interpretation, it's hard to see how leaving town would protect you from end-of-the-world events. Surely there's nowhere to run under that scenario. And the time of year would be irrelevant. 

14) I don't see how the futurist interpretation of Mt 24:33 makes sense in light of vv30-31. If, at that point, you are actually witnessing the return of Christ, then the signs have surely outlived their usefulness. For what they signify is now evident to all. 

15) I take the "whole world" (Mt 24:14) to be an idiomatic designation for the Roman Empire. 

16) Some futurists cite Mt 24:29 to prove that we're not dealing with two different events, widely separately in time. There are, however, two problems with that appeal:

i) The Greek adverb (eutheos) is often used as a transitional device to segue from one scene to another. A syntactical convention. It allows for narrative compression. Indefinite intervals. The implied duration must be supplied by context or other clues. 

ii) And it's only used in Matthew's version of the Discourse. 

17) Apropos (16), The disciples ask Jesus about two events. Since one event is actually earlier (indeed, much earlier!) than the other, that's the order in which he answered them. First the fall of Jerusalem-related events, then Parousia-related events. First and second. 

One is earlier, one is later. They seem close together because he's responding to a two-part question. But the fact that they're close together in the sequence of the answer doesn't mean they're close together in the sequence of time. 

18) Some futurists appeal to Mt 24:21. However, I take that to be a warning to get out of Dodge before the Romans besiege Jerusalem, for once Jerusalem is surrounded by Roman armies, and the countryside occupied, there's no exit. 

In other words, a reference to the First Jewish Revolt, expressed in hyperbolic, end-of-the-world jargon, for which there's OT precedent.  

A warning, decades ahead of time, for true believers in Jerusalem, to evacuate when the signs of that particular catastrophe were coming to pass. And that's distinct from the Parousia. 

Some might object that it's artificial to take the first part as referring to the near future (1C events) and the second part as referring to the distant future (the Parousia), but the disciples asked a two-part question, so Jesus is, to some extent, answering them on their own terms. That's how they framed the question. So it's a part 1, part 2 answer. But in reality, these are separate events. 

Of course, if they ask the wrong question, he's free to reformulate the question. But there's nothing to indicate that he recast the question.