Thursday, June 18, 2009

Progressing? Regressing? Dunno!

Dr Eric Reitan has graced us with another post in his series: Authority Without Inerrancy?

Oy, where to begin?
Here is the comment I left:

Hello Dr Reitan,

-Rather than viewing the Bible as the very Word of God, the progressive Christian views the Bible as a seminal human testament to divine revelation.-

One hopes he'll deal, then, with the fact that Jesus thought very differently.


-in profound mystical encounters-

Which are anything but objective.


-in providential events-

Which don't communicate much of anything specific, w/o a framework already in place thru which to interpret said event.


-through our relationships with one another-

Which are sometimes good and reflect holiness and are very often evil, disgusting, harmful, and sinful. "Progressives" live in happy-happy-land.


-In many of these cases, the actual writers were probably not striving to express their own experience of divine revelation so much as striving to faithfully put to writing stories that expressed the religious experiences of earlier generations.-

Even when they specifically state that they're writing the very revelation of God? All those "thus saith the Lord"s are "their own experiences" and "stories"?


-this means that approached on a verse-by-verse basis, one cannot confidently say, simply because the passage appears in the Bible, that it truly expresses the will of God or offers us an accurate understanding God’s nature.-

Leaving the "progressive" completely and utterly in the lurch. If God has not spoken clearly, we have nothing, no objective way to tell right from wrong, holiness from sin, Heaven-bound-ness from Hell-bound-ness. In short, it sucks to "progress".


-Witnesses-

This really seems just to beg the question. Numerous fallible witnesses lead sometimes to what we think are correct verdicts and sometimes lead to the OJ Simpson trial. What about INFALLIBLE witnesses, inspired specifically by the final, infallible God?


-The revised belief system, while still imperfect-

You mean "while still imperfect, ***I THINK (without any standard outside of myself to distinguish whether I'm right)***".


-But the process is ongoing and, in philosophical terms, "dialectical." -

So we could still be in our sins, and we'd have no idea. Heaven could be a fantasy.
Progressing towards...whatever...is purpose-less and w/o a goal or destination. You're bowing before the mirror.


-If every claim about God is taken to be a perfectly accurate description of the divine, then the reader will suppose there is no trajectory of development to look for.-

And how do you know that "development" is a good thing? This is apparently your fundamental presupp, and I can't question this more strenuously.


-Instead of seeing earlier biblical images of God as stages in a process of fuller and truer understandings of the divine-

Well, it depends on what you mean. We inerrantists recognise the reality of progressive revelation. But it's up to YOU to point out precisely how our understanding is a mishmash and doesn't work. And we all know how much progressives love actual substantive debate! (Not very much.)


-the process of refining our understanding of God probably didn't end in biblical times. -

We agree there, but you're not just talking about refining our understanding. You're functionally downgrading our primary source of info about God to the same level as the clueless pundits of today. It's foolish.


-in an evolving tradition through which God is still revealing Himself. -

I'd love to see a theory of what it means that God reveal Himself, on your view. It is apparently alot like ME revealing MYSELF. What's special or authoritative about that?


-A source can be authoritative without being inerrant--as is the case with our senses, a point I made in the first post in this series.-

And I invite anyone to see how we interacted in that combox and at my blog on that topic.
This supports my contention that God revealing Himself = me revealing myself. And what special insight do I have on the ultimate nature of reality, about sin, about good and theodicy, about eternity?



-in a way, the progressive Christian's willingness to question the perfect accuracy of the biblical account of Jesus' story reflects the seriousness with which they take the resurrection story.-

That's so rich. We think it's full of holes, and that just means we RESPECT it that much more!
This is exactly like the wife-beater who cooes to his bleeding, semi-conscious wife: "I hit you like that b/c I love you so much!"


-Jesus is someone with whom we can have an experiential relationship now, today. -

And maybe that contention is supported from the errant part of the text. You have proposed no objective way to know that. It would appear you'd say that we can have a relationship with Jesus if we THINK we can. Happy-happy-land, like I said. Wishful thinking, pixie dust, "Think of a wonderful thought, any happy little thought" and you can fly, first star on the right, straight on till morning. How this kind of thinking appeals to anyone who is seriously considering the truth (or not) of whether God has anything to say to us and anything to do with us is completely beyond me.
Give me Romans 8 any day, not this happy-pill crap.

Peace,
Rhology

5 comments:

mortalquestions said...

Happily skipping into Feurbach's trap.

Dr Funkenstein said...

I've said it before but i'll say it again - I've got far more time for the inerrantists than I do for liberal/progressive religious views, because it's readily apparent that at least the inerrantists accept the whole shabang that comes with their choice of worldview (as ridiculous as I think their starting assumption is), whereas the progressives simply make it up as they go along -

Instead of seeing earlier biblical images of God as stages in a process of fuller and truer understandings of the divine

Anyone can write an inaccurate or fabricated story relating to life's big questions - doing so is not an indicator they have some understanding of the divine, partial or otherwise, since the same could as easily be said of L Ron Hubbard's creation myths. If it's so far off the mark relative to what you consider to be an accurate description of the world as to be indistinguishable from something that someone has obviously just made up minus any divine understanding or access to special revelation or the supernatural (eg such as a Scientology tract), then why not just admit as much?

the process of refining our understanding of God probably didn't end in biblical times.

It obviously didn't start in biblical times either if you think the writers of significant parts of the bible were flat out wrong on things that are central to Christianity...

A source can be authoritative without being inerrant--as is the case with our senses, a point I made in the first post in this series.

While that's true (I'm sure no standard texts in my own field are minus any errors), it generally helps to add weight to a claim or set of claims if they are at least generally in the ballpark area of being correct. Ideas like eg young earth creationism supported by the bible are at the opposite end of the spectrum to accepting evolution - for anyone who accepts evolution, as progressives tend to do, you'd have to concede if the authors of the bible had actively set out to trying to get things completely off the mark in terms of acurracy, they couldn't possibly have done a better job of it. Again, hardly what we'd expect as the hallmark of something that is supposed to have been at least in some way influenced by a divine being, whether directly or indirectly, especially as it'd be easy enough to write something like a simple 2-page 'creation' tale that is consistent with the scientific views of today. You have to ask why this is, in the event you accept views like the quote in italics:

a. because the divine being likes people to get things completely wrong when passing along his message
b. because the bible is nothing more than a collection of stories about a God that probably never existed

in a way, the progressive Christian's willingness to question the perfect accuracy of the biblical account of Jesus' story reflects the seriousness with which they take the resurrection story.

Why does questioning the accuracy of something serve as an indicator of how seriously it should be taken? Don't know about anyone else, but generally, the less accurate I consider a source, the less seriously I take it. When you're having to concede entire books (eg Genesis) never mind chapters or verses are not accurate, then it just comes across as someone who knows they are attempting to hold mutually incompatible views.

Jesus is someone with whom we can have an experiential relationship now, today.

But then as Rhology has said, if you think the bible is fairly error laden, and the writers were prone to making stuff up because they had an agenda or didn't know any better, then why assume Jesus was anything more than some guy that people mistakenly put up on a pedestal as the son of God?

Rhology said...

-why assume Jesus was anything more than some guy that people mistakenly put up on a pedestal as the son of God?-

Shoot, why not go whole hog and doubt that He even existed?

Inignok said...

You earthlings with your logic and reason. So utterly ensnared in such Western modes of linear thinking that you have the audacity to assert that something can be known. I think it's cute.

On the Moon we know, with absolute certainty, that you cannot know anything in such narrow "either-or" categories.

mortalquestions said...

Dr. Funkenstein,

I think you have it all wrong! Dr. Reitan and other progressives should be accepted because they are "intellectuals"! They have PhDs to boot! The can't get pwned by someone like Rho!