Friday, August 28, 2009

Bart Ehrman has a Ph.D in New Testament

It is important, I think, to realize that the Bible has a wide range of answers to the problem of suffering b/c this realization reveals the problem of thinking that the Bible has one simple answer to every issue. Many people in our world take a smorgasbord approach to the Bible, picking and choosing what suits them and their views without acknowledging that the Bible is an extremely complex and intricate concatenation of views, perspectives, and ideas. There are millions of people in our world, for example, who suffer social estrangement b/c of their sexual orientation. Some of this social alienation originates among simpleminded Bible believers who insist that gay relationships are condemned in Scripture. As it turns out, that is a debated issue, one on which serious scholars disagree.
But apart from that, this condemnation of gay relations "because the Bible condemns it" is a case of people choosing to accept the parts of the Bible they want to accept and ignoring everything else. The same books that condemn same-sex relations, for example, also require people to stone their children to death if they are disobedient, to execute anyone who does any work on Saturday or who eats pork chops, and to condemn anyone who wears a shirt made of two kinds of fabric. No special emphasis is placed on one of these laws over the others - they are all part of the biblical law. Yet, in parts of society, gay relations are condemned, while eating a ham sandwich during a lunch break on a Saturday workday is perfectly acceptable.

(Source: Bart Ehrman, "God's Problem", 2008, p. 17)
(Which is the book I'm reading right now.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Probably not new, but new to me

Perhaps anyone who objects to the word "belief" could go ahead and prove atheism.

Monday, August 24, 2009

DavidW's opening statement is posted

See his opening statement here.

Continuing with John

This is just the latest comment with John the Eastern Orthodox from the Mirror target practice thread, but I just had so much fun with this one that I wanted to set aside a post for it.


God hasn't told me everything he has ever done. (John 21:25). We know the things we need to know in our time.

Yes, and the Jews had the same. YOU'RE the one who posited extra revelation I don't know about. But b/c it strikes against your position, you alluvasudden think they had sthg else, sthg you can't prove and have no idea existed.
I might as well say the same about the CFs - their writings that have not survived and come down to us described in detail the Reformed position. Irenæus was a 5-point Calvinist. His non-extant writings prove it!

that's what Paul did.

1) Weren't you just telling me you were inerrantist? This doesn't match.
2) Did he weasel out? No, of course not - he explained how the NT FULFILLS the OT's foreshadows, thanks to the coming of Messiah. Did Philo have that explanation available to him? No, he was Jewish after Messiah's coming.

I asked: "How do we know what traditions are traditions of MEN?"
You answer: By carefully staying in tune with the mind of the Church as a whole. The Vincentian canon.

You're begging the question. Again. And I was hoping you'd say that, just like all the other EOx.
So what you're telling me is that you know which traditions are traditions of men by looking at traditions that are not merely traditions of men?
How do you know which is which? And "believed by all, everywhere, always" is not a live option - it's disproved by the very existence of these traditions of men! You have one corpus of writings - tradition. Then in accord with what you believe NOW, you pick and choose which ones agree, and those magically become Sacred Apostolic Tradition. But you're supposed to be proving your position by appeal to Sacred Apostolic Tradition! Yet all you can do is a posteriori read your position into the corpus of tradition and then draw out the ones that agree and then jump around and point - "See? Tradition proves us right!!!" But all you did was point to the writings that support you, and you left the ones that don't support you in the dust.
No, this is far from objective and far from intellectually honest.
Further, Jesus did not do this, it hardly needs to be said.

The original denominations are in sad shape. The new ones build success from flashy shows and good coffee.

1) I don't like the flashy shows and good coffee approach.
2) And I couldn't care much less how numerous we are. Numbers aren't the goal; even less are they a proof of truth. As long as we're being faithful, we trust God for sufficiency in numbers and all that.
3) The older denoms are largely in bad shape b/c of their courtship of liberalism. EOC is hardly a bastion of conservatism, by the way, on that count. So I'd hesitate to bring that up if I were you.

I said that burial and death doesn't sound related to spirit baptism. You quoted verses about death and themes in the Christian life. I said they have no relation to spirit baptism.

Now you need to deal with my last point, since it counters your statement about death and burial related to Spirit baptism.

The point is they both can stand.

1) Quite an admission for a guy who just tried to bully me using the bogus Vincentian Canon.
2) For that one psg, yes. So if I'm trying to decide between the two positions, looks like I'll have to look elsewhere. And the rest of the NT doesn't permit the bap reg view.

But if both can stand, then scripture has failed as an authority in the church.

1) Both can stand, given tradition as well. I guess your model fails.
2) I don't make human agreement the standard of truth. This is a fundamental difference between us, and clear demarcation of your man-centered view.
3) You were criticising me just recently about being "me and my Bible under a tree", and here you're committing a similar bad practice - "this verse and this verse only!"

Do you see Orthodox arguing over baptismal regeneration? Nope.

1) Did I originally claim that?
2) And yes you do; on your view early Church writers were Orthodox. And they didn't agree. So there you go - yes you do see them arguing.
3) And EOx argue about all sorts of other things; I don't need to show them arguing about bap reg.

Seriously, the early church was baptising people in water everywhere,

My church baptises ppl in water all the time too. So what? It's a PICTURE of death and burial with Christ and of resurrection thru Him. That's what the NT teaches, so we practice it thus.

the Church HAS the interpretive skills of all God's people.

On that we can agree! We stand on the shoulders of giants. Without lending them some bogus and selective idea of infallibility.

BUT, sola scriptura folks disagree with you.

1) Oh no! I never realised before that other holders-to of Sola Scrip might disagree! Never occurred to me! My faith is now in shambles. I hope you're happy. I think I'll write an atheist memoir and then off myself.
2) The rule of faith in EOC is Sola Ecclesia - the church alone.
Any question of authority, interpretation, hermeneutic, etc, comes down to What The Church Says®.
As opposed to the rule of faith to which I hold, where any question of authority, interpretation, hermeneutic, etc, comes down to What The Scripture Says (Sola Scriptura).
One of the problems in being a holder of Sola Ecclesia is that EOC is not the only group w/in Sola Ecclesiaists. RCC, Coptic Orthodoxy, other non-Chalcedonian Orthodox groups, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons are also holders of Sola Ecclesia.
By contrast, there aren't very many holders of Sola Scriptura, and the doctrinal variation among the denominations is FAR narrower than those who hold to Sola Ecclesia, the Infallible Interpreter model.
If you don't like being lumped in w/ the cults and schismatics, maybe you should change your rule of faith. My church would welcome you!

Titus 3:5-7 - 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior

Colossians 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

The problem is, Protestants make all the church fathers out to be always inconsistent with themselves, even within a few sentences of each other.

"All"? "Always"? I suppose you can back that universal generalisation up?

Now no doubt Fathers can be inconsistent with other ones on occasion, and even on the odd occasion a father can be occasionally inconsistent with himself.

Thank you for the rare (for an EOx) concession. So we shouldn't very well base our faith on them, should we? Shouldn't think of them as infallible, now should we?
Maybe there's some way out there by which God HAS spoken w/o inconsistency, w/o garbling... Hmmm, what could that be?

And two sentences earlier Athanasius said that "Nicea is sufficient".

Maybe b/c Nicæa correctly expressed biblical doctrine? Now who's failing to harmonise?

I want to let the Fathers be who they are, not force them into being what they are not.

Sure you do, you who quoted the Vincentian Canon just a few sentences ago. Uh oh, you were inconsistent with yourself within a few minutes, a few sentences! Alarm bells.
BTW, that's MY line - letting the Fathers be who they are. So, when they're being who they are, yet you appeal to them to establish the correctness and authority of your church, how do you know which ones of their statements to accept? (That's a rhetorical question; I just want to see you repeat your a posteriori "we see which statements agree with us and then pick those to be Sacred Apostolic Tradition, and leave the rest aside" statements.)

in the catechism class I have on video, the teaching is that all the apostolic traditions have equal authority

Except when they disagree with EOC.

Was there any scripture in the process of being written during the events of Acts?

1) Yes, probably Mark and the early epistles like 1 Cor. Acts covers the events of some years, you know.
2) And they always had the OT - the OT was sufficient for salvation (2 Tim 3:15) and to verify the Gospel msg (Acts 17 Bereans).

When the apostle picks up his pen, sola scriptura ends, and when he puts it down it begins again?

No, SS is in effect during the normative state of the church. When the church has the Scripture. Apostolic revelation was/is as good as Scr; indeed Scr depends on the gift and authority of apostolicity.

But they didn't say "When we're gone, all scripture will be sufficient

Excuse me, but yes they did - 2 Tim 3-4.

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.

1) Yes, the pillar and ground hold something else up - the truth. Of the Scripture.
2) Irenæus said:
But it is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. ...since the "pillar and ground" of the church is the Gospel and the spirit of life, it is fitting that she should have four pillars...From this fact, it is evident that the Logos, the fashioner (demiourgos) of all, he that sits on the cherubim and holds all things together, when he was manifested to humanity, gave us the gospel under four forms but bound together by one spirit. (Against Heresies 3.11.8)

If the Church hasn't dogmatically spoken on these topics, why would my taking a side prove anything?

Um, what does "dogmatically" spoken mean? Isn't that Roman language?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sola Scriptura - My Opening Statement

I am glad to invite one and all to this, my first formal-ish debate. I would like to thank David for challenging me to a debate, for accepting the topic offered, and for his efficient and helpful email interaction in refining the topic and structure of it. I also thank him for the time, effort, and trials he has committed to the service of our country, even so far as to have recently completed a tour of duty in an overseas warzone, and appreciate his contribution to the preservation of our freedom of expression. I look forward to our interaction.

As the affirmer of the resolution, I will present a positive case, and then I will attempt to head off some of David's arguments at the pass. Then, in my first rebuttal, we will take stock of whether he has avoided the pitfalls I warned him of.

The Witness of the Old Testament

Psalm 119 alone offers glowing and highly significant affirmations of the sufficiency of Scripture - its sufficiency in breadth, its power to guide, its clarity and authority, its ability to give wisdom and enlighten. How can he who denies the resolution at hand also affirm the words of Psalm 119?

The OT is also full of prophetic utterances, originally given orally, now committed to writing. The pious person must inquire what could be equal or higher in authority to the very speech of God.

An Argument from Jesus

Given Matthew 4:4, it would behoove us to determine what words have indeed proceeded out of the mouth of God. Jesus gives us a clue in His temptation in the desert – He quotes from…the Scripture, three times, to resist the Devil. Notably absent is any extrabiblical "tradition" from Moses or David or Elijah.
The Lord Jesus quotes incessantly from the Old Testament Scriptures throughout His ministry, and usually precedes His quotations with a reverential formula indicating the divine nature of the words He's quoting. Such statements as
, Matt 5:17-18, Matt 23:23, or "…have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM…'" (Matt 22:31, emph. mine) indicate Jesus' regard for and opinion of the Scripture.

Were They Aware of It?

Jesus apparently knew that He, at least, was "writing Scripture": Matt 24:35. Peter thought Paul was: 2 Peter 3:15-16. Over and over again, prophets in the Old Testament write "Thus saith the Lord". Such examples are numerous. But let me turn now to the question of the authority of the Scripture.

The Preparation - God Is the Final Word

Hebrews 6:13 - For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself...”
Who knows more than God? Who can see farther? Who can stop Him from performing His will? Nobody; God is the final arbiter and judge, and He is the lawgiver. What He says, goes. So when we find God's communication, we are obligated to live and abide by it. Obviously I believe I know precisely where this communication is found - in Scripture. David, to deny the resolution successfully, must show us some other source of divine communication on par with or above Scripture.

An Argument from Paul and the Stated Nature of Scripture

In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, we see the richness of what the Scriptures are, and what they do:

-can give one wisdom…
-…so as to be saved (through faith)
-breathed out by God (cf: Matthew 22:31)
-profitable for teaching and correction
-can train one in righteousness
-to render the man of God adequate for every good work.

Notice the context of chapters 3 and then 4 – Paul writes Timothy to explain how he should live and pastor in the middle of very difficult circumstances in which he expects innumerable challenges to present themselves, of false doctrine and teaching, of false living, persecution, etc. To what does he point Timothy? Oral tradition of the elders? Something separate that was for his ears only? Or the Scripture?

The Category
Scripture As Sufficient Guide

Also notice that Paul is speaking of the category of Scripture. What is Scripture, what is God-breathed? Every word from Jesus, for one thing (Jesus being God). Peter says Paul's letters are. The Old Testament, which clearly expected the New (see Hebrews, Epistle to the). That which is Scripture falls under this description. And honestly, looking at the list of things that Scripture is and can do, what else does one need? Paul apparently thought it was enough. Jesus thought enough of it to say "The words I have spoken are spirit and are life" (John 6:63). The Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) holds to the same New Testament (it's in their sort-of-official Orthodox Study Bible and read from in their Divine Liturgies under the title "New Testament"), so this should not come under dispute from David. David has some work to do – to show us an equivalent source of authority.

Scripture as Judge of Tradition

Mark 7:1-13 is the other main passage on which I'd like to concentrate, especially 7-13. The Pharisees claimed to have a rule, a tradition handed down from the elders. It was old and respected and generally held to among the leaders and hierarchy of the covenant community of God. And yet, it was wrong. How did Jesus prove it was wrong? By appealing to the Scripture. The tradition was in conflict with Scripture, and therefore, it was incorrect. Thus Jesus tells us – do not invalidate the word of God by tradition handed down (v. 13). Scripture stands as judge over tradition.
One can easily imagine someone dissenting and breaking away from the unity of the synagogue to practice what the Scripture actually says, much like the Reformation, and then being called factious and sinful for doing so, much like our Romanist and Eastern friends do. Oh wait, we don't have to imagine that at all. Jesus did that very thing…and was crucified for it.

How Do You Know?

The EO-dox claims that the Church is the arbiter of the correct interpretation of Scripture and tradition. We will probably see in David's presentation some expression, however subtle, of the idea of Viva Voce – the living voice of The Church®, the authoritative interpreter of Scripture and tradition. It is alleged that The Church® keeps us from going astray in our private, fallible interpretations of Scripture. In real practice, it defines which writings and ideas from which church writers and fathers are Sacred Apostolic Tradition® and which are merely their own personal opinions, and offers no standard outside of The Church® to corroborate that judgment. Athanasius might say on one hand: "Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith's sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrines so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture" (De Synodis, 6), but that is not in fact part of SAT®. How do we know? The Church® says so. Maybe not in so many words, but there is no other conclusion to be drawn. Thus, Athanasius, whom EO-dox quote as an authoritative voice on many other issues, becomes an empty suit when he expresses something The Church® doesn't like.
For one thing, this is not particularly intellectually honest. For another, are there not other candidates for the status of The Church®, or the infallible interpreter, out there? Rome? The WatchTower? The Latter-Day Saints? David Koresh? How can we choose which infallible interpreter really represents The Church®, if Scripture is not sufficient for that task? After all, all would shape "Tradition" in the way that best serves each one, picking and choosing, ignoring this and emphasising that.
Fortunately, we have a better way, the way of Jesus - Isaiah 8:20.

What Sola Scriptura Is Not

1) A claim that the Bible contains all knowledge.
A denial of the Church's authority to teach God's truth.
A denial that God's Word has been spoken or communicated orally at times in history, such as during inscripturation, when NT letters and books were still being written. SS deals with the church in its normative state.
A denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church.

Errors To Avoid

Keep in mind that David will not be taking this opener into account before posting his own. Let this list of common faux pas guide your reading, and hopefully he will avoid them so our interaction can be better:

-Canon - "Without The Church®, you don't know WHICH books belong in the Bible."
For one thing, this is not the topic, and others have debated it better than we (or at least, I) ever could. For another, his own church's canon isn't even closed, so he's in no position to chuck pebbles.

-Appeal to Tradition - we will probably see this from David. Watch out for equivocation - does he define how we know what is good Tradition and bad tradition without a circular, question-begging appeal to The Church®? Does he take into account when the same church writer he cites elsewhere claims that Scripture is sufficient for the church?

-Appeal to age - the Church is old, ergo it's right. Remember, the OT precedes the church, and the NT is the very record of the earliest believers in Jesus.

-"The Church gave you the Bible". Remember the OT? Also, so what? Does said Bible point us to follow the Church as final authority? That's the question.

-Empty "we believe"s - We're not debating what Orthodox believe or don't. Watch out for unsupported assertions.

-Errancy - From earlier conversations, I know that David does not hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. One must therefore ask why he is even engaging in this debate. John 3:12 - "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"

-Making too much of John 20:30-31 - Does David give us a solid backing for claiming to know that these other things came from Jesus and the apostles through oral tradition? Does he tell us where? Or is it "The Church® says so" again?

-"That's just your private interpretation"- Of course, that statement would be his own interpretation. Further, he has to personally interpret Church statements and conciliar statements. This is a conversation-killer and a cop-out, more worthy of liberals and Emergents than someone who takes the church seriously.

-Making too much of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 - Does David prove that the word of mouth is different in content than the letter mentioned? That the tradition mentioned there is distinct from the Scripture?

-Blueprint for anarchy/thousands of denominations - the misuse of a sufficient source is not a valid argument against that source.

  1. It's not the Bible's fault if some people neglect, ignore, or misuse parts of it.
  2. The Bible never guarantees unity or unanimity, but rather expects disunity in the epistles, the churches of Revelation 1-3, and 1 Cor 11:18-19.
  3. That's often because of human sin and contrasting preferences.
  4. Is it EOC's fault that the inerrantist and errantist positions both exist inside their camp? Or ethnic divisions that squabble? Or some churches that chrismate Protestant converts and others that baptise them? Old Calendarists? Does that make EOC invalid for that reason?
  5. Perhaps David would like to compare apples to apples - Scripture + infallible interpreter model vs Sola Scriptura model. The Scr+ model includes the disparate cults and groups mentioned above. Not a favorable comparison. Or we can compare the unity of EOC to Southern Baptists. Either way, I like my position's chances.

(Word count: 1988)
(Link to comment repository post)

Sola Scriptura Debate Comment Repository

As promised, this is the place to leave your comments about the debate.
To help keep track of the chronological order of events and posts, I'll jump in and leave a comment that links to every new post in the debate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Formal debate on Sola Scriptura

DavidW (at Pious Fabrications), whom I met through David Bryan's blog, and I have agreed to have a formal debate on the topic of Sola Scriptura. The resolution and schedule of entries for the debate is as follows:

Resolved: "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience." [This taken verbatim from the 1689 "London Baptist Confession of Faith" and aptly summarises the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.]

Obviously, I am affirming the resolution and DavidW, a practitioner of Eastern Orthodoxy, will deny.
Here is the schedule:

1a) Rhology's opening and position statement. 2000 words limit DUE: Saturday, 22Aug
1b) David's opening and position statement. 2000 words limit DUE: Saturday, 5Sept.

2a) Rhology's 1st rebuttal. 1600 words limit. DUE: Saturday, 19Sept
2b) David's 1st rebuttal. 1600 words limit. DUE: Saturday, 03Oct

3a) Rhology's 2nd rebuttal. 1200 words limit. DUE: Saturday, 17Oct
3b) David's 2nd rebuttal. 1200 words limit. DUE: Saturday, 31Oct

[We've decided to skip the usual third rebuttal in order to trim down the length of the debate a bit. We thus shortened the debate by a month.]

4a) Rhology poses David a question. 400 words to formulate. DUE: Saturday, 07Nov
4b) David answers. 1600 words to answer. DUE: Saturday, 14Nov

5a) David poses Rhology a question. 400 words to formulate. DUE: Saturday, 21Nov
5b) Rhology answers. 1600 words to answer. DUE: Saturday, 05Dec

6a) Rhology poses David a question. 400 words to formulate. DUE: Saturday, 12Dec
6b) David answers. 1600 words to answer. DUE: Saturday, 19Dec

7a) David poses Rhology a question. 400 words to formulate. DUE: Saturday, 02Jan
7b) Rhology answers. 1600 words to answer. DUE: Saturday, 09Jan

8a) Rhology poses David a question. 400 words to formulate. DUE: Saturday, 16Jan
8b) David answers. 1600 words to answer. DUE: Saturday, 23Jan

9a) David poses Rhology a question. 400 words to formulate. DUE: Saturday, 30Jan
9b) Rhology answers. 1600 words to answer. DUE: Saturday, 06Feb

10) Final statements: 1500 words, posted simultaneously at agreed-upon time. DUE: Saturday, 20Feb

I will be posting my entries on my own blog and he on his. We have agreed to link to the other's entry whenever one appears. Comments on my posts, if not too long, I will read but not post. I will keep a separate post, to which I will link later, for the peanut gallery and comments, which will have an unmoderated combox.

I would like to thank David for introducing the idea of debating, for kind of provoking me to get my rear in gear, and for his participation and very cordial communication as we agree on terms. Originally I proposed a resolution that he would affirm and I'd deny, but he's probably right that it's easier that I affirm Sola Scriptura. Anyway, my opening statement will be up by Saturday. It's almost done now, actually.
May all enjoy and profit from this engagement.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mirror target practice

John continues to stumble over his misconceptions of the Sola Scripturist's disadvantages vis-à-vis the Eastern Orthodox Church. I'll try to help.

but then you later say: "the true church is invisible" and "that the institution of the Christian church thru time has been as a rule corrupt"

No, I meant what I said. No one church has it all right, but some have it more right than others. See Revelation 1-3. But when I have the opportunity to choose whether I should go to Philadelphia or Ephesus, I'll go Philadelphia, though there are no doubt members of the invisible ch in Ephesus as well.

wrong interpretation of Ware

Prove it. You haven't interacted with Ware at all.

Arguments over books written 2500 years ago is not an open canon.

Oh, OK. So if EOC were to accept one of these books in a few decades in an ecumenical council, that wouldn't actually result in an addition to your now-commonly-accepted Canon?

Ware does not mention anything about a canon dispute, he only mentions people who think some books are on a different level


Concerning the remnant and the "motif of the OT", there was a remnant WITHIN the institutional Israel.

And outside it. Naaman, Rahab, Ruth, 1000s of Egyptians and other foreigners who went with Israel in the Exodus.

And institutional Israel was the custodians of scripture. Not anybody and everybody who happened to possess a copy.

Agreed. So what?

They didn't throw their ideas into the public square and let people do what they will, they actually went around and set up institutions.

Once again, agreed. So what?
And that didn't prevent the churches from going wildly astray already, even within years of their apostolic foundation.

when you said you don't have a committment to the truth of institutional church, you don't mean that.

You don't know nearly enough about me to make such a judgment.

If Calvin wasn't an authority, then your friends at church can hardly be an authority. An invisible group can't be an authority.

Sure they can. What is your argument for this assertion? You're assuming what you need to prove - that Calvin is somehow over "my friends at church".
And "my friends at church" aren't in authority over me; my elders are - Hebrews 13:17.

Who told you the canon again?

Bishop Ware.

Kidding, kidding. The people of God have come gradually to recognise what the true Canon is. That is, Canon2 has gradually come to match Canon1.

Who told YOU the canon again? EOC? When it can't make up its mind?
No, seriously, who told you the canon?

oh say Malachi 1:11 I suppose? We would find incense burning in your baptist hall?

Malachi 1:11“For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. 12 “But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’ 13 “You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the LORD of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?” says the LORD.

1) Are you offering grain offerings?
2) Is incense offered in EVERY place?
3) Is this not a prophecy of the endtimes, where God will rule over the entire world?

It is also individualism, not something befitting of the body of Christ.

1) Not pure individualism, as explained.
2) Yet given that Christ holds every man responsible, label it with whatever epithet you like. It changes nothing about Christ's command.

Rhology said: "I trust God to lead His church to a proper recognition of Canon1"
-Didn't you just lecture us that the true church is invisible and visibly mostly corrupt?

Sure, and I stand by it. But you're jumping in at the wrong end of the pool.
If the Scripture is not given, we have no revelation from God. And it just so happens that we have no objective and consistent way to judge moral right from wrong, we have no solution for sin, we have no God-given metaphysical or epistemological basis for anything. In short, we're screwed. So yes, to believe the contrary is absurd so I believe that God is trustworthy to make His Scripture known to His people.
Now, it also just so happens that His Word reveals what His people are supposed to believe, that counterfeits will arise, and that even the earliest churches had serious doctrinal and practical problems, and that each person is responsible to repent and believe Christ and the Gospel. But if a "church" like yours doesn't teach said Gospel, we have a problem.
Hope that helps clarify.

Canon2 was in flux in Luther's time, but not now?

Canon2 was in flux in Luther's time for EVERYONE, not just for Protestants. It's still in flux for EOC. I don't see how you're in a position to lecture anyone.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pubblyk skul edjakayshunn

An old high school acquaintance recently friended me on Facebook and saw a disparaging comment I'd made about public schrool education. The original status post had been "Why are people upset about the gov't taking over health care?" and I had quite reasonably agreed! I mean, obviously, the gov't has done such a bang-up job ejakayttin the masses, why wouldn't we want a massive governmental bureaucracy controlling the industry?

So this acquaintance pointed out that we had both gone to a good high school, a magnet one in fact. Indeed, the exception serves to prove the rule - we went to a magnet school and that school still had many problems and had many serious shortcomings. One of which was the teaching of Darwinian evolution as fact in the science classroom.
An acquaintance of hers said, "It is fact." Wait for it...
I asked for evidence.
Another acquaintance said, "Google 'peppered moths'."
And that, friends, is pubblyk skul edjakayshunn at work. I rest my case.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Intelligent Designs shop is now open!

Mi amigo Mariano at Atheism is Dead has just opened an online shop - Intelligent Designs.
Take a look, grab some merchandise if you like what you see. I don't know about the thong, but I do like the Born Jewish bumper sticker.

What errancy yields in the East

David (not David Bryan), I'm simultaneously gladdened and saddened to see your comment about mission work.
Gladdened b/c I believe your Gospel is a false one and I don't want it proliferated.
Confused b/c there are hundreds of people groups out there who've never heard the name of Christ. Do you think that they'll be " Christianity (by) the fact that Christians (act) like, well... Christians" when there aren't any anywhere near them?
Also, since when has "well, it didn't work" been a valid excuse for disobeying a direct command (Matthew 28:19-20) by Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another David, more errancy

One of David Bryan's readers, David W, made some more comments in support of biblical errancy. I guess it's not only the Roman church that has problems with encroaching liberalism.

this nothing injures the truth of what they have said.

Except this: They got stuff WRONG. And it becomes simply a question of fideistic special pleading to say, "Well, they got some things over there wrong, but on the stuff that's really important to me, they totally got it right!"
AKA reshaping God's Word in your own image. Usually mainline American evangellyfish like to rewrite it to write out the things that make them uncomfy, so they can believe in their Word of Faith confess it and possess it type stuff. But you're doing the same thing toward a different end.

that God became man

Maybe. Unless that part was errant.

that He wrought miracles

Unless those parts were mistaken. Don't forget, a lot of the miracle accts don't match!

that He was crucified

Or maybe He wasn't, maybe they got that part wrong. After all, only one of the Gospels mentions Simon of Cyrene. The accts of the thieves on the crosses differ. etc.

I think that Scripture itself also argues against inerrancy.

But maybe those parts are errant, so your case is self-refuting.

Jeremiah 8:8.

You do realise there were multiple copies and lines of transmission of the Scr, don't you?
Or is this another case of special pleading - you're just SURE that THIS passage is inerrant. Somehow.
It's like one of the elders of my church says: It's inspired in spots, and you have to be inspired to spot the spots.

Jeremiah 7:22

Context, my friend. Context.
22 “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.

1 Corinthians 7:10-14 makes very clear that he is stating his own opinion

Paul usually referred to Jesus Christ as "Lord". He was saying he had no clear command from Jesus' own mouth. But that's not the only way God inspires Scr.
He goes on to say:
25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.
40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.

Further, once again we have to check the context. This is a letter from Paul. Not everything in the letter is straight command. It's what he said. If he intended to command, OK, it's a command. If he intended to dispense advice but not enjoin the advice with a "you MUST do this", then it's advice. This is the latter. We can tell by reading it with a heart and mind disposed to understand it, not to prove a point that is totally foreign to it.
Finally, how do you know he really said what you think he said? Maybe that part was errant.

2 Tim here referring to what we call the Old Testament

Which you just called out as errant in your comments on Jeremiah.
One thing we're seeing clearly, that humans, devoid of the Spirit, can be VERY errant.

Comparing the Islamic ideas regarding the Koran (that it is entirely inerrant and has existed in heaven with God since before Creation) is a little unsettling.

The Islamic doctrine of the Qur'an is better matched to the Christian doctrine of the Logos, Christ, just FYI.

David Bryan said,
I fail to see how, but I do not possess all knowledge, obviously.

You seem to be vacillating when it suits you - you were just SURE that the Cross inscription accts were irreconcilably inconsistent, I pointed out you don't have all knowledge, Seth explained it, and you didn't say "I do not possess all knowledge, obviously" or anything like that. Why the change now?

John said,
The question then becomes, is one of the gospels in error because it isn't laid out in the order I want it to be laid out?

EXCELLENT question, and one that David Bryan and his errantists comrades need to, and (according to what I've seen, fail to) grapple with.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Holy Fire

Lucian, one of the weirdest characters I've ever run across on the Internet, and my friend David Bryan, have commended the Holy Fire of Jerusalem to me as testament to the Eastern Orthodox Church's validity. Their comments take place in this thread. I have several thoughts.

1st, thanks much for the vid. It's far from clear what's happening though. At first it's dark, then some regular joes come running out into the crowd with two candles aflame. And the miracle is...?

2nd, such an occurrence seems to be just a bastardised mishmash of out-of-context Bible accounts. A temple (from the OT, but unknown to the NT). A priest (from the OT, and unknown in the NT). A holy place (more like the pagan practice of the high places in the OT). By a church that doesn't preach the Gospel. Fire occurring spontaneously, that doesn't consume (which happened one time at the burning bush and was a sign of YHWH's direct presence).

3rd, EOx appeal to this occurrence as substantiating their church's authority from God. Maybe they should focus on getting the Gospel right first? Just a suggestion.

4th, most of the other vids I attempted to view didn't work. Of the ones that did, what are they supposed to prove? That the Holy Fire doesn't burn people? Have you even watched these? Take a look at this one. I could go home and do the same with my own candle and a Bic lighter. The vids are purported to be evidence for the miraculous origin of the fire, but they're just not any good. So it's not like I accept only video evidence of divine miracles or something like an atheist would demand, but since the site offers video evidence to back up its claims, I'll critique it. If they really want to be convincing, they should hold it up to their faces for minutes at a time instead of just waving it around a 6 inches from their beards so the heat can dissipate.

5th, demonic activity is more probably the origin of this occurrence. A group that claims a perverted Gospel with a perverted sense of church gov't with a perverted authority and perverted expectations and perverted Christology finds "evidence" for itself by a spectacular "supernatural" occurrence? What does that sound like?

6th, I certainly have my doubts that God would grace the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with a display of Holy Spirit glory. For one thing, are the people in the vid in church or at the circus? Sheesh. For another, I know for a fact that said building is the site of incessant fights and territorial squabbles between the various ethnic Orthodox and the Romanists who have planted their flags in the various niches and alcoves. If the reps of a given church leave their alcove, not one minute goes by before it is taken over by one of the others, and not returned willingly.

7th, I find it highly ironic that David Bryan seems to think that this is a true sign from God, and yet it is virtually content-less. And the Scripture, which has tons of content, is errant. What's wrong with this picture?