Thursday, November 04, 2021

The Treasures Of John

The upcoming Christmas season is another good reason to read Lydia McGrew's recent book arguing for the historicity of John's gospel. (There's now a Kindle version of it.) See here regarding the fourth gospel's underestimated material on Christmas issues.

Imagine a young man, heir to a fortune, who has been told for years that certain portions of that fortune must not be used, claimed, or relied upon. Some of his most beautiful and pleasant properties, some of the loveliest treasures left to him by his ancestors, must never be treated as if they are really his. He may appreciate them aesthetically from a distance, but he may not live on the estates or handle the precious objects, and he is not free to spend any of those treasures for his most serious needs. His earnest advisors tell him (at least initially) that this is not because they themselves think that there is anything questionable about his right to these properties. But, they say, there are learned geographers who doubt that most of the lands even exist. Some lawyers question whether the heir has proper title to the lands; his advisors therefore worry that he will be evicted should he take up residence. Others, eminent financiers, believe that the property in question will disappear in some complex financial fashion if he should attempt to claim it. So the young heir learns to live on a far more modest inheritance and to act in practice as though he does not even possess some of his own property. Even some beautiful places and things that his father particularly wanted him to have do not come into his hands, for he has been taught not to claim them.

Now, suppose that some of his own advisors one day begin to say that they, too, have decided that he does not really own this great portion of his patrimony, that it is a chimera, or that it has disappeared in a financial crash. Will the man be likely to check out their statements? Is he not more likely to conclude that nothing much is at stake? After all, he has lived without this property for many years. He has had to behave as if he did not own it. Why should he bother to find out whether his current advisors are wrong or right, now that some of them also question this property?

In just such a way deference to credentialism and the persistent practical refusal to rely upon John’s Gospel create psychological indifference to its historicity and a passive willingness to let it be taken from us by scholarly skepticism. Yet if John’s Gospel is historically reliable, it is a very great treasure, far dearer than mere houses or lands or any earthly gold or silver. It tells us much that the other Gospels do not relate about the teachings and doings of Jesus Christ, and, if it belongs in the canon of Scripture with all of its overt claims to be the product of witness testimony, then these unique historical stories are gifts that our heavenly Father wanted us to have for our spiritual needs. They cannot truly satisfy those needs if they are merely pious fictions. Should we not then rouse ourselves to investigate the question of whether or not we can rely upon John?

(Lydia McGrew, pp. 18-19 here)

Monday, November 01, 2021

A Day Living With A Poltergeist

One way of conveying what it's like to live with a poltergeist is to walk through the events of a particular day. And I've been wanting to write more about the events of May 30, 1978 in the Enfield case, since it was one of the most significant days in the case and has received much less attention than it should.

In the process of discussing what happened that day, I'll be citing Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes. I'll refer to Grosse's tapes with "MG", meaning that MG31A is a reference to tape 31A in his collection. And I'll refer to Playfair's tapes with "GP", so that GP68B is a reference to his tape 68B.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

No Bishop Of Bishops

"For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let us all wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there." (Cyprian)

As you can see on the page linked above, dozens of other bishops at the council spoke after Cyprian made his comments. Nobody voiced any disagreement with what he said. They often appeal to scripture and reason to justify their position on the matter before them, but nobody appeals to papal authority. And nobody gives any indication of thinking that such an office existed or that departing from it or operating independently of it needed to be justified.