Friday, September 25, 2009

Last Tuesday-ism

Last Tuesday-ism is occasionally used as an argument against Christianity (like here), especially Young Earth Creationism, especially the kind that I generally argue, where my answer to why geological structures appear to be really old is b/c God created them, like Adam, with a certain appearance of age to the natural eye. Adam was formed and created as a fully-grown man, not a zygote. Similarly, I figure it's a good explanation to say that God created the world to look old when studied from the standpoint of unbelieving naturalistic "science", using limited methodology, knowledge, breadth of vision (ie, we can't look back very far; indeed we've recorded even less), and instrumentation, and when attempting to, as it were, prove God wrong.
But since God actually did create it more recently than many billions of yrs ago, we'd expect to see inconsistencies in any worldview that expresses the billions of yrs belief. And indeed we do. Exhibit A - evolutionary naturalism.

Anyway, the skeptic asks how this position is distinguishable from last Tuesday-ism, and the answers are manifold. Remember, we take the question from the Christian worldview, and in that worldview, God doesn't lie, and He does communicate truth. That's the fundamental axiom; w/o that, we argue (and quite successfully) that there's no way to know anything about anything. So, as I said in the ERV thread above, if God is lying to us, then we have no way to discover truth. About anything.
Basically, this is an alternative worldview, much like the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so it needs its own structure and framework to be constructed by the questioner. Who is God and how do you know? How do you know God created the world last Tuesday? How can you trust the passage of time? Are all of your remembered (but completely fabricated) relationships and experiences worth anything? If so, how do you assign value to them and how do you justify that assignment?
Can you really trust airplanes, boats, drinking water out of the tap, flu shots and vaccines, ibuprofen, food, sex, your parents, given that nothing you remember about them is real? I mean, you have a whole life of work ahead of you here.
By the way, if you want to go on the fascinating but flawed "prankster/evil god" argument from there, first demonstrate how you can reliably know anything about that god.


I'd like to turn the question back around to the skeptic now. How do YOU know last Tuesday-ism isn't true? Maybe the universe exploded (out of nothing, caused by nothing, of course) into existence last Tuesday and everything we observe now in the world, galaxy, and universe coalesced in that time, and by some improbably bizarre set of circumstances (sound familiar?), the Earth and life have come together since then. And yes, evolution has taken place in that short time. Natural pressures and natural selection have determined that human beings would exist, believing by and large that the world is many billions of yrs old, b/c if they didn't believe that, then they'd commit suicide out of despair (well, that's the scientific community's best guess, though we haven't -yet- figured out a way to study that part of our past, but we're working on it. And until then, it's a fact, not a theory). So up to this present time, the human population has been shaped by these pressures and selection to express the "Earth is billions of yrs old"-belief gene in most cases.
You may scoff and say, "That's improbable! Astronomically improbable!" Wait a second. Isn't that precisely what you say about the way you already think the Earth and all life on it came into existence - thru astronomically improbable events? Further, when challengers to Old Earth or at least to evolution challenge you and contend that the odds against life appearing on Earth are simply too vast to comprehend and to attribute to mere chance, don't you respond with "well, improbable it may be, but that's the way it is"?
So that's my answer to you - improbable it may be, but that's the way it is. After all, what's the difference in probability between astronomically improbable and astronomically improbable?
Now, prove me wrong.

58 comments:

justfinethanks said...

like Adam, with a certain appearance of age to the natural eye.

It's a lot more than an appearance of age. It's also an appearance of history. Like how we can see how the Hawaiian Islands formed by the pacific plate slowly carrying a mass of land over a hot spot.

It would be as if Adam, at the moment of his creation, had a scar on his knee from when he "tripped as a five year old" and cavities because he "neglected his teeth for a few months." You don't think this would be a little deceptive?

I figure it's a good explanation to say that God created the world to look old when studied from the standpoint of unbelieving naturalistic "science", using limited methodology, knowledge, breadth of vision

When you read the Book of Genesis, do you do it from standpoint of using "perfect" methodology, omniscience, and fullness of vision?

No?

Ok, then this has nothing to do with anything. If you accept that only "perfect" knowledge is acceptable, then you will have to accept that since we are imperfect, ignorant beings when the read the Bible, we can't trust anything it says.

and when attempting to, as it were, prove God wrong.

No, actually, the Christian creationist geologists of the 19th century worked to prove God RIGHT. They worked from the assumption that a Global flood happened a few thousand years ago, and worked towards finding evidence of that "fact." But it was tossed overboard when observation kept conflicting with "revelation."

We'd expect to see inconsistencies in any worldview that expresses the billions of yrs belief. And indeed we do. Exhibit A - evolutionary naturalism.

Well, naturalism isn't the only worldview that that holds to the "billions of years" belief. The brand of Christianity that the superstars of Christian philosophy hold to (Like Craig, Pruss, and Plantiga) also allow for "billions of years."

In the book "Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics," Plantiga has an essay called "When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible." In it,Plantiga says (he's an evolution skeptic mind you):

I take the evidence for an old earth to be strong and the warrant for the view that the Lord that the earth is young to be relatively weak

So, is Plantiga a heretic spreading false teachings? Does Plantiga have an inconsistent worldview?

(For the record, since I know how dogmatic you are about these things, I'm fully expecting you to throw one of the smartest Christian philosophers alive under the bus.)

if God is lying to us, then we have no way to discover truth. About anything.

Well, according 2 Thess 2:11, God does indeed make some people believe in "strong delusions."

In fact, God has a habit of deceiving people, such as in Jeremiah 20:7, Jeremiah 4:10 and Ezekiel 14:9.

He even goes so far as giving some people laws and rules they SHOULDN'T live by in Ezekiel 20:25.

What guarantee do you have you aren't among the ones that God lies to? And for whatever reason you give, how to do you know THAT isn't one of the lies God told you? And for whatever reason you give, how do you know that ALSO isn't one of the lies God told you?, etc.

It seems to me there is Biblical proof that God is a liar and you have no way of knowing whether or not you are amongst the lied to.

How do YOU know last Tuesday-ism isn't true?

Unfalsifiable.

UNFALSIFIABLITY IS UNFALSIFIABLE

Of course it is. I'ts a principle, an epistemic tool for demarcation. The principle of unfalsifiability only applies to theories and explanations.

Plus, it also violates the principle of uniformity, without which no science is possible at all.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Similarly, I figure it's a good explanation to say that God created the world to look old

Not really, for several reasons:

1. Occam's razor gets to do some whittling here - the 'actual age' hypothesis is considerably more parsimonious than the 'appearance of age' hypothesis

2. All you've done is basically given a specific version of the underdetermination of theory problem (part of which is the idea that an infinite number of theories could explain a given set of observations equally well), which could be applied to any scientific theory not just the age of the Earth - do you apply it wholesale and if not why not?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-underdetermination/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underdetermination

3. Your argument isn't that you can come up with an empricially equivalent idea, its that you can prove the alternative false. Invoking Omphalos fails to disprove the 'actual age' theory.


4. Almost all clergy rejected the Omphalos theory as soon as it was proposed, since it made God/the world deceptive and basically resulted in skepticism. In fact, as you say:

"Who is God and how do you know? How do you know God created the world last Tuesday? How can you trust the passage of time? Are all of your remembered (but completely fabricated) relationships and experiences worth anything? If so, how do you assign value to them and how do you justify that assignment?
Can you really trust airplanes, boats, drinking water out of the tap, flu shots and vaccines, ibuprofen, food, sex, your parents, given that nothing you remember about them is real? I mean, you have a whole life of work ahead of you here."

Given your view is just one of the variants on the spectrum of 'appearance of age' ideas, this criticism would apply as exactly to your own view as it would to LTism.

As for 'how do you know God', the obvious answer is revelation - but then John Frame admits that Christians have no way to validate revelation, so how does the Christian have any edge over an FSmer on this front, especially when you conisder the criteria used by Vhristian apologusts to test internal consistency of Christian claims are, shall we say, somewhat more relaxed than when they are testing other worldviews.


and in that worldview, God doesn't lie, and He does communicate truth.

Well, except when he doesn't as noted in the bible, which obviously has implications for taking God as a standard of truth


By the way, if you want to go on the fascinating but flawed "prankster/evil god" argument from there, first demonstrate how you can reliably know anything about that god.

That's not really the point of it - the point is that the 'good god' is indistinguishable from 'bad/prankster god, and any claim that can be made to support good god can as easily be reversed to support bad god's existence and thus god belief is self refuting.

UNFALSIFIABLITY IS UNFALSIFIABLE

As justfinethanks has pointed out, not every statement or argument is a scientific one, so why would this be a concern to anyone?

Falsifiability is a principle you'd argue for (or against), not something you'd set out to scientifically test.


As an aside, it is interesting that for an worldview that supposedly provides certainty, there's so much confusion over this amongst Christians as you have

1. Apparent age creationists
2. Scientific creationists who think the a young earth is supported by physical facts
3. Old Earthers who think the bible provides no grounds fro a young earth (eg Gleason Archer) and that physical facts also support an old earth

Surely you'd expect a bit more consistency if the bible was as you claim it to be (ie easily understood by the average man and obvious in what it means with its main claims)?

Rhology said...

jft,

You *THINK* that Hawaii formed like that. In fact, that's part of the false memory that has evolved into humanity.


You don't think this would be a little deceptive?

Deceptive? This is what happened, by natural processes. There's no mind behind it! What are you, some kind of creationist?


So, is Plantiga a heretic spreading false teachings? Does Plantiga have an inconsistent worldview?

I don't know much about his doctrine, but yes, if he believes in an old earth, then he has an inconsistent worldview.


I'm fully expecting you to throw one of the smartest Christian philosophers alive under the bus

Yes, b/c inconsistently following Jesus is all according to how smart one is.
Or not.


How do YOU know last Tuesday-ism isn't true?

Unfalsifiable.


1) So apparently falsifiability isn't the end-all be-all way to determine truth and untruth.
2) If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by rapid coalescence of galactic dust since last Tuesday, my theory would absolutely break down.
3) So you apparently agree with me that any skeptic who brings up the last Tuesday-ism objection to a Christian would be using an invalid argument. Glad we can agree on something!




Dr Funk,

All you've done is basically given a specific version of the underdetermination of theory problem (part of which is the idea that an infinite number of theories could explain a given set of observations equally well), which could be applied to any scientific theory not just the age of the Earth - do you apply it wholesale and if not why not?

1) Now you're just giving me a lot of naturalistic doctrine gobbledygook. It's like I'm quoting obscure theologians to you or something. Can you disprove it or not?
(And yes, in case you were wondering, it IS a pleasure to throw common atheist arguments back on atheists.)
2) My theory explains ALL observations equally well (absent an argument from the opponent).
3) Yes, I apply it wholesale. On naturalism, tell me why I can't do so.

Oh, and from the underdetermination wiki page:
To claim that a theory is weakly underdetermined is to say that the currently available evidence fails to prove it, but some evidence collected in the future might conceivably be able to.

Interesting. That's what I see from Darwinians all the time, and even more commonly from atheists trying to tell me that the universe began thru natural processes.


the obvious answer is revelation - but then John Frame admits that Christians have no way to validate revelation, so how does the Christian have any edge over an FSmer on this front,

1) B/c the revelation of the God of the Bible is actually real.
2) The FSM is obviously an ad hoc contrivance.
3) And (perhaps most importantly) the FSM worldview is internally inconsistent. Pastafarians need to try harder.


Surely you'd expect a bit more consistency if the bible was as you claim it to be (ie easily understood by the average man and obvious in what it means with its main claims)?

Why? Didn't you forget something rather important? (Starts with "s", 3 letters long.)

Anonymous said...

JFT, will you marry me? We'll have babies and teach them to dislike dogmatist morons who argue craziness for fun.

cannibalox said...

I have a pretty simple question for you Rhoblogy: How would your belief help the human race? I could get into a debate about whether Last Tuesday-ism is correct or incorrect, but I think that question is much more important. Naturalistic science has given us many beneficial things (cool toys at the very least), and I'm pretty sure it's saved a couple lives along the way. What practical fruits does Last Tuesday-ism offer the human race?

justfinethanks said...

You *THINK* that Hawaii formed like that. In fact, that's part of the false memory that has evolved into humanity.

I'm starting to think that you misunderstand the LTism objection. It's designed to show the absurdities that result when you abandon falsification. You can make up tons of scenarios that are conceivably true, but cannot be proved false.

Your home is made entirely of hot dogs, but an invisible and undetectable gas in the atomsphere called "litmose" gives it the precise appearance to all senses of a modern home to everyone who perceives it. Prove me wrong!

Oklahoma doesn't exist on Earth, it exists on the planet Rikta, but a mysterious and undectable Quantum flux makes anyone who enters Oklahoma transport instantly to the planet, complete with the total sensation that you are still on Earth. Plus, it looks like its Oklahoma for anyone who peers into the Quantum flux. Prove me wrong?

Since I hold falsification to be an important way to distinguish probable explanations and theories from stuff people just make up, LSTism or your variation of it isn't a problem for me. Since you deny that falsfication is important for determining the age of the Earth or Universe, it is a problem for you.


I don't know much about his doctrine

By all appearances, he's an OEC.

if he believes in an old earth, then he has an inconsistent worldview.

Just curious, what's your rough estimate of the number of people on Earth who have a "consistent worldview." Two dozen? Three?

Yes, b/c inconsistently following Jesus is all according to how smart one is.

In fact, it's starting to look like there is an inversely proportional relationship between how consistently a Christian follows Jesus and how smart they are.

So apparently falsifiability isn't the end-all be-all way to determine truth and untruth.

Never said it was. It's just an important means of seperating probable explanations and theories from invented explanations and theories.

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by rapid coalescence of galactic dust since last Tuesday, my theory would absolutely break down.

Ok this is funny, but still misguided. Darwinian evolution provides an observable mechanism (Mutations + Nat Sel) to explain the built up complexity of complex organs. If you can provide a similar observable mechanism that could conceivably lead to complex organs via your method, then it could be tested and possibly falsified.

So you apparently agree with me that any skeptic who brings up the last Tuesday-ism objection to a Christian would be using an invalid argument.

I'm at a complete loss at how you could reasonable infer this from anything I wrote.

And now, I would like to revisit the points in my post you didn't address.

Number 1: You claim that since we possess limited intelligence and means, we can learn nothing about the Earth's past. I think that I have sufficiently demonstrated that it is a self refuting claim, because it can be equally applied to the Book of Genesis, or anything for that matter. So, unless that you can somehow argue that limited percpetion is OK when learning things from the Bible, but unacceptable when learning things from nature (and I can't see how you can without special pleading or begging the question) I trust you will never, ever forward this argument again.

justfinethanks said...

Number 2: My contention that since the Christian God is deceitful, we can't really claim to know anything given the presumption of Christianity. To make it easier for you to address this argument, I'll break it down into the syllogism.

P1)The Christian God deceives people.
P2) Any given person who is deceived by God cannot know or prove that they aren't being deceived.
C) Under Christianity, no one can know whether any piece of knowledge they hold is true or a God given deceit.

And from that conclusion, we can further infer that the Christian worldview leads to epistemic suicide and is self refuting.

In defense of P1

2 Thess 2:11
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie

Jeremiah 20:7
O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

Ezekiel 14:9
And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

Ezekiel 20:25
Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.

There, I think that premise is airtight.

In defense of P2: Any individual who is aware that they are being deceived isn't actually being deceived. This is because awareness of how one is being deceived and the nature of the deceit actually eliminates the deciet.

For example, if you kid tells you they didn't drive your car and you believe them, you are deceived. If you discover that you are being deceived by noticing that the odometer mysteriously jumped eighty miles, you become aware of the deceit, and therefore AREN'T deceived. Instead, you know the truth.

And the conclusion follows because once we know that no God-deceived person can know whether they are deceived, then we further know that they can't know the extent or nature of that deceit. And therefore, given Christianity, no person has any certainties that anything they know is true or false.

You might object: "God only deceives the unsaved. I'm saved." How can you know that your thinking this isn't part of the deceit? And for whatever reason you give, how do you know that ALSO isn't part of the deceit? And so on and so forth until you give up.

And thus, Christianity is is shown to have no solid basis for knowning anything via "internal critique" and is not a worthwhile worldview. And by your own standard (as revealed in this post) too!

Rho:
if God is lying to us, then we have no way to discover truth. About anything.

Hey, ask and ye shall recieve. Bada bing, bada boom. Good luck in your quest for a new worldview.

JFT, will you marry me?

That's very flattering (assuming you're a chick). But I am already happily married with a skeptical toddler of our own, who will almost certainly rebel against me in her teenage years by becoming a creationist who practices homeopathic medicine.

I have a pretty simple question for you Rhoblogy: How would your belief help the human race?

I'm going to have to object to this point on behalf of Rho as being irrelevant. The truth value of a belief or scientific theory has nothing to do with its pragmatic utility.

cannibalox said...

I'm going to have to object to this point on behalf of Rho as being irrelevant. The truth value of a belief or scientific theory has nothing to do with its pragmatic utility.

I apologize if it seems irrelevant, but I am indeed very pragmatic, and to me, the truth value of a statement is superseded in importance by its practical application. Religion is certainly a useful tools when it comes to specific problems, such as spiritual or moral conflicts. However, I fail to see why Last Tuesday-ism needs to be proven. Call me someone who loves ignorance, but i would rather not know if the universe was created last Tuesday. There would be no difference in how I would live my life, and if I wished to cure a disease or some similar problem, concepts such as evolutionary naturalism would still be my go-to tools. More importantly, I believe my question is relevant because there has to be some reason as to why a person would argue Last Tuesday-ism, or any position for that matter. I am merely trying to find out exactly what Rhology hopes to gain from proving this particular viewpoint. This is not an ad hominem attack or anything, I'm just able to see potential benefits from Christianity in general, but this particular theory seems to hold no value, particularly when it seems that an "Old Earth" and Christianity are not mutually exclusive beliefs. Once again, this a very pragmatic view, and I do not believe in truth value being the end-all be-all in determining whether a theory should be accepted/use. If Rhology is doing this merely because he believes "it is the truth, and the truth must be told", then all is fine and dandy.

David said...

I think that this craziness is exactly what naturally results when you move away from the firm foundation of Christ and His Apostles and the Church they founded. The extreme Creationists essentially make God a liar; of course, Protestantism in general doesn't paint a very pretty picture of the Lord... And then they wonder why so many of the youth are falling away from Faith; why have Faith in a deceptive, rather meanspirited pseudo-God?

NAL said...

Rho:

... if God is lying to us, then we have no way to discover truth.

Sure you can. If God is lying then the truth is the negation of whatever He says.

For example, if God says the Earth was created in six days and this is a lie, then the Earth was not created in six days.

Rhology said...

cannibalox,

This isn't really my position at all. It's an argument ad absurdum, taking naturalistic presuppositions to their logical conclusion. And my refrain is the same as atheists everywhere when they encounter Christians - "Prove it!" That's what I want - prove it. Prove me wrong.
I'm doing this to show the atheist who makes this argument who foolish it is and how it turns back badly on the atheist.



jft,

It's designed to show the absurdities that result when you abandon falsification.

Cool. Except falsification is not falsifiable.
But again, this kind of thing is not my problem; it's the empiricist's problem.


You can make up tons of scenarios that are conceivably true, but cannot be proved false.

I didn't make this up, you know. You need to be talking to "Reed" in comment #73.


Your home is made entirely of hot dogs, but an invisible and undetectable gas in the atomsphere called "litmose" gives it the precise appearance to all senses of a modern home to everyone who perceives it. Prove me wrong!

Easy enough. My fundamental presupposition is that the God of the Bible is and speaks, and all alternatives have so far proven to be internally inconsistent. If I ask enough questions of your "view" or Pastafarianism or whatever, it always turns out to be full of holes.
Where is the naturalist going to turn?


what's your rough estimate of the number of people on Earth who have a "consistent worldview." Two dozen? Three?

No idea. Alot, but a minority.


Darwinian evolution provides an observable mechanism (Mutations + Nat Sel) to explain the built up complexity of complex organs.

That doesn't provide any observable EVIDENCE of that mechanism accomplishing the action in question, that is, macroevolution.


unless that you can somehow argue that limited percpetion is OK when learning things from the Bible, but unacceptable when learning things from nature (and I can't see how you can without special pleading or begging the question)

You've got it all wrong. Limited perception is fine as far as it goes and can discover truth if Christianity is true. But if naturalism is true, I see no reason to think any perception is trustworthy, for numerous reasons.


P2) Any given person who is deceived by God cannot know or prove that they aren't being deceived.

That's where you're wrong.
1) God 'piggybacks' on already-existing self-deception when He deceives unrepentant enemies of His.
2) One can know that he is right with God, through repenting and faith in Christ.

Jer 20:7 - he's using "deceived" in a metaphorical sense, wherein he is complaining that God has pressed him into such painful and difficult service as being a prophet. This demonstrates one of the problems with just doing word search copy+pastes.


How can you know that your thinking this isn't part of the deceit? And for whatever reason you give, how do you know that ALSO isn't part of the deceit?

I've been over this before, multiple times. If this is true, then there's no reason to think it's true, since it could be part of the deception. No reason to think that we can understand the Bible's telling us these psgs you've cited. It leads to absurdity. There has to be some access to truth.




David (channeling Frank Schaeffer),
I'd like very much to know how the Orthodox answer is better.
Based on what I know of you and EOC, I guess you'll probably tell me that the Bible is errant and that we should just all roll over and accept evolution.



NAL,
I'm sorry, but you need to rephrase that, since it's incoherent as it stands now.

David said...

Rhology,

Because the "Orthodox answer" takes into account three very important facts which Protestants have forgotten:

1. The Holy Spirit guides history. (read, for instance, the entire Old Testament and the history of the Orthodox Church.)

2. Man is meant to grow into the "likeness" of God through the process of theosis. (see 2 Corinthians 2:15, Acts 2:47, and 2 Peter 1:4, for instance)

3. We are still living in the seventh "day" of Creation. The eighth day will dawn in full at Christ's Second Coming; until then, we experience a foretaste of the eighth day in the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Church he founded. (see, for instance, Genesis 2:2-23 [and note] that the seventh day does not have a dawn and evening as the previous six do)

David

Rhology said...

1) Um, David, you're talking to a Calvinist. You think Calvinists don't believe the Holy Spirit guides history?

2) Isn't that pretty similar to the Protestant doctrine of sanctification, in this life?

Anyway... I guess I don't understand how this answers naturalism very well at all. It might be b/c EOx don't often deal with atheists in the public marketplace of ideas.

David said...

1. From a Protestant perspective, he didn't guide it very well considering he couldn't even keep his promises of preserving his Church from heresy and providing visible unity. Of course, that's no problem when you also believe that he's predestined the majority of his creation (whom he "so loved"???) for the flaming pits of hell.

2. No, no, it's not.

The point wasn't to answer "naturalism," which you confute with atheism. The point was that science, whether evolutionary biology or quantum physics or the aspirin tablets in my bathroom, doesn't conflict with the Apostolic Christian Faith. There's a reason that evolution has shaken the Western Churches (and their numbers in membership) but hardly had an effect on the Eastern Churches (whether Orthodox or Nestorian) -- it's all perspective.

You claim that the Orthodox don't have much experience in with atheists in the public square. Perhaps you've forgotten that the majority of Orthodox Christians lived under Atheist Communist rule for the majority of the 20th century? We've got experience with Atheists...

Take a look at our experience with Atheists:
http://www.allsaintsofamerica.org/martyrs/nmruss.html

David

Rhology said...

1) Hmm, unity - EOC doesn't have that either. If you're going to have unity, have unity. Christ meant SPIRITUAL unity, not INSTITUTIONAL unity.
Also, unity isn't achieved simply by defining everyone in your communion who disagrees (to a sufficient extent) out of your name. Like I said, have unity if you're saying you have unity.

And no, "world" doesn't always mean "everyone ever created".

2) Um, OK.

I don't conflate atheism and naturalism, but they're quite close. Naturalism is more specific.
And it's easy to not be shaken when you just absorb the teaching wholesale and ignore the pretty obvious conflicts between Christian doctrine and evolution. Just ignore it long enough and it'll go away.
Which is why I said what I said about atheism, but I'm willing to be corrected. Who among the EOdox have written against atheism, performed apologetics against atheism, debated atheists in public?
Maybe St Seraphim of Sarov and "Remarkably, St. Seraphim's words were remembered: 'That Tsar who will glorify me, I will also glorify him'"?
Maybe I should take back that whole "conflicts between Christian doctrine" thing. That's not very Christian.
And maybe I should scale back my expectations as far as biblical exegesis goes: "The overthrow of the Tsar, 'he who restraineth' (2Thes.2:7) opened the way for the servants of Antichrist to exterminate the spiritual powers of Russia..."

David said...

1) Please explain how the Orthodox Church does not have unity as you claim. Also, please explain what you mean by "spiritual unity." How does the Orthodox Church not have spiritual unity? How do Protestants have spiritual unity? Do you have spiritual unity with Methodist Arminians? How about even Anglican Calvinists? How about the Amish? The Mormons? The JWs? Do you have spiritual unity with them? Do they have spiritual unity with you?

In order for unity to be visible, as Christ demands it be, it must, in some sense, by institutional unity. More important, though, is unity of Faith. Do Protestants have this? No. Do the Orthodox? Yes. Why does the Church excommunicate those who disagree with it? Excommunication is not a way to ensure unity, necessarily. They have already broken their unity with the Church. It is to emphasize (once again, visually) that they are not of the Church.

And no, "world" doesn't always mean "everyone ever created".

Let's speak clearly and not mince words. Do you or do you not believe that God created the vast majority of people both now and in all of human history predestined for eternal torment in hell?

absorb the teaching wholesale and ignore the pretty obvious conflicts between Christian doctrine and evolution.

I'm not sure anyone, including modern scientists, have absorbed Darwinism wholesale. Evolution, though, in no way conflicts with traditional Christian doctrine. In fact, some of the early Fathers, such as St. Basil the Great, were scientists and wrote (what very little the ancients knew) about evolution in some form. Obviously, they didn't know the details, but they also didn't have violent fits and try to compensate by, for instance, setting up displays of dinosaurs with saddles on their backs at "Creationist" museums. Honestly, do you know how ignorant this makes Christians look?

Who among the EOdox have written against atheism, performed apologetics against atheism, debated atheists in public?

I point you again to the Holy New-Martyrs of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Ethiopia. What Protestants have been burned alive, imprisoned and tortured in Gulags, and massacred by Soviet soldiers as a witness to the Christian Faith before Atheists?

Maybe St Seraphim of Sarov and "Remarkably, St. Seraphim's words were remembered: 'That Tsar who will glorify me, I will also glorify him'"?
Maybe I should take back that whole "conflicts between Christian doctrine" thing. That's not very Christian.


Prophecy isn't very Christian? Hm...

And maybe I should scale back my expectations as far as biblical exegesis goes: "The overthrow of the Tsar, 'he who restraineth' (2Thes.2:7) opened the way for the servants of Antichrist to exterminate the spiritual powers of Russia..."

Do you disagree that the Czar restrained the Atheist Communists? Or that Atheist Communists are the servants of the AntiChrist? 1&2 John are very clear about who the AntiChrist is... And Atheist Communists fit the bill.

You've developed the interesting habit of criticizing the martyrs in our conversations. I suppose it's easy to sit back in your chair in comfortable persecution-free America and say "they should have done this" or "they could have done that." When reality hits you in the face in the form of the buttstock of a Kalishnikov, though, your ideas change. That so many were willing to stand up and face torture and death rather than deny their Faith in Christ is more than enough witness for the Atheists.

I've seen persecution firsthand in Iraq. I've seen churches bombed; I've seen Christian children kidnapped and murdered; I've seen Priests beheaded; I've seen people afraid to practice their own religion. Criticize them as much as you want for not preaching in the streets to convert to the Muslims, but I don't see you on a flight to Baghdad to do so either.

zilch said...

David: is Rho going to Hell?
Rho: is David going to Hell?

Just askin'.

by the bye- Rho, if you haven't done so, I recommend reading Philip Henry Gosse's Omphalos. It's very well written and presents perhaps the best case for your "appearance of age" thesis. You can download the PDF here.

Not that he isn't wrong.

David said...

zilch,

David: is Rho going to Hell?

No.

David

Rhology said...

Zilch,

Most probably, barring repentance and belief of the actual biblical Gospel.

Seth said...

RE:
David: is Rho going to Hell?
Rho: is David going to Hell
?

During my Yom Kippur readings, I stumbled again onto a topic that I think would be an interesting discussion.

What is the sin of Balaam as referenced in Rev. 2:14, Jude 1:11, 2 Peter 2:15, Micah 6:5, and elsewhere, and why is it so serious? Clearly the apostles and Jesus Himself think it is a biggie for discerning who is and is not a "True Believer".

I don't have a blog or forum for it, but if one of you guys are interested in it and would host it, I'd love to see the differences between how an EOC, SBC, RCC, etc. deal with it.

zilch said...

Hmmm... David thinks Rho is not going to Hell. Rho thinks David is probably going to Hell. New questions:

David: if Rho is not going to Hell, what's your beef with him? Isn't that what it's all about, just getting things good enough to get your ticket to Heaven?

Rho: I loves me some Christian infighting! Seriously, though- doesn't the Big Guy have the final say here? Do you claim to know exactly what He requires for membership in His Club?

Rhology said...

If you're looking for Christian infighting, it ain't this combox. David is Eastern Orthodox, not Christian.
And yes, God has the final say, and He already had it - Galatians 1:6-9.

zilch said...

Okay, Rho, as you know, I'm just a know-nothing atheist. But if someone tells me he considers himself a Christian, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I'm not God or anything and I don't really see any obvious differences in goodness between different sects. And as far as I know, members of the Eastern Orthodox church commonly consider themselves Christian.

So my question is: how do you know exactly who is a Christian and who is not? Are entire sects eliminated- for instance, Mormons or JWs? Do you have to be a member of one of the "true" sects to be a Christian? And if so, why should I, or God, believe you when you claim to know who is and is not saved? As you may know, other people have other criteria.

Rhology said...

Fair enough, zilch. I wasn't expecting you to know that. Just consider it a point of information. :-)
Mormons, who are polytheists, also consider themselves Christians. The goats of Matthew 23 also considered themselves Christians; there is an objective standard in the Bible to know what is a Christian.

Mormons and JWs are not Christianity, correct - they are polytheists and deny the Gospel as in Galatians 1:6-9.
One has to believe the Gospel to be a Christian.
The only way someone like you could tell the difference is to get into the biblical text. God doesn't need my poor 'judgment' on who is and isn't saved - He can tell all by Himself and far better than I.

David said...

Seth:

I don't know much about the subject, but it seems to me that Barlaam's sin is something akin to simony, but in the reverse. Simon wanted to buy the Holy Spirit; Barlaam sold the Holy Spirit.


Zilch:

David: if Rho is not going to Hell, what's your beef with him?

I wouldn't call it "beef;" just friendly discussion to the benefit of philosophical inquiry.

Truth is sorely lacking in the world today. And if one knows the Truth, I think one has the obligation to share it with others.

Isn't that what it's all about, just getting things good enough to get your ticket to Heaven?

No, no, it's not, as much as Protestants would like to make it that way...


Rho:
According to St. Athanasius, whom you've quoted several times in the past, you're the one who cannot properly be called a Christian: "But beyond these [Scriptural] sayings, let us look at the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the fathers kept. Upon this the Church is founded, and he who should fall away from it would not be Christian, and should no longer be called [such]."

David

Rhology said...

Seth,

I admit to being very confused as to the nature of Balaam's sin. It's one of the things I feel like I understand least in the Bible. :-(

Seth said...

David and Rho,

I don't know much about the subject,

I admit to being very confused as to the nature of Balaam's sin.

Bummer, maybe for a later time then.

The general premise is that when Balaam could not curse Israel via prophecy they devised a more ingenious scheme. There were three main sins: 1- curse Israel, 2- do it for hire, and 3 - the one Jesus cites as a test-of-faith, have the Israelites inter-marry with Moabite women so that their worship would progressively deviate from what God commanded and accepted.

Num 25:1-2
While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

Rhology said...

who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

I've noticed that happen a few times in the NT - it quotes the OT and inserts info that the OT doesn't seem to make explicit. I always wonder if the author had access to some other tradition or if it was just straight-up inspiration-aided insight. Any idea?

(And before you ask, David, see my 1st rebuttal about Enoch and the Cretan 'prophet'.)

Seth said...

I've noticed that happen a few times in the NT - it quotes the OT and inserts info that the OT doesn't seem to make explicit. I always wonder if the author had access to some other tradition or if it was just straight-up inspiration-aided insight. Any idea?

Num 31:15-18
Moses said to them, "Have you let all the women live? Behold, these, on Balaam's advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.

And again, the interpretation during the "revival" in Nehemiah,

Nehemiah 13:1-3
On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, for they did not meet the people of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them--yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. As soon as the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent.

Rhology said...

Ah thanks!

Although I don't know whether David here will accept that that's actually what happened, given that God is shown here commanding something that would no doubt offend David's sensibilities, and it's not inerrant after all...

zilch said...

David: thanks. I don't know where I got the idea that the ticket to Heaven was the only important thing. Must have been some false Christians. Just the other day, a woman over at RaptureReady was gushing how nice it was to just dump leftover weedkiller down the drain, because Jesus was coming soon anyway and would clean up, and she had her ticket anyway. People like that confuse me.

Rho: the nature of Balaam's sin confuses you? I must confess, the nature of Balaam's ass confuses me even more. I guess it's just that ol' devil naturalism rearing its ugly head again.

cheers from autumny Vienna, zilch

Rhology said...

David (from your longer comment),

Please explain how the Orthodox Church does not have unity as you claim.

As I said in my debate opening statement: ...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?


Also, please explain what you mean by "spiritual unity."

God makes believers into a royal priesthood (1 Peter), the Body of Christ (1 Cor), a building (Ephesians). Unity in the Gospel.


How does the Orthodox Church not have spiritual unity?

1) B/c you don't believe the Gospel.
2) But what I meant here is that you're claiming INSTITUTIONAL unity, and I'm telling you that if you SAY you have it, either have it or admit you don't.
3) I'm just saying that since you don't and I don't have perfect institutional unity, our positions are equal.
4) Plus, if my denomination were so inclined, we could either absorb liberals and just call 'em Southern Baptists, ignoring the actual differences, and/or kick out people we didn't like or want among us and still claim the same institutional unity.



Do you have spiritual unity with Methodist Arminians?

The ones that are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, yes. Etc.
No, not Mormons. Their ecclesiology and soteriology is actually much closer to EOC than Calvinism.



In order for unity to be visible, as Christ demands it be, it must, in some sense, by institutional unity.

1) Where do you see that in the Bible?
2) No, institutional unity is a qualified calling and command for ppl who are already spiritually unified thru the Gospel.


Why does the Church excommunicate those who disagree with it?

So does my church.


Do you or do you not believe that God created the vast majority of people both now and in all of human history predestined for eternal torment in hell?

That's hardly responsive to the fact that the word "world" does not always mean everyone who has ever lived or will ever live.
And no, not necessarily. We're not at the end of history yet - perhaps in the future the vast majority of ppl will be blvrs. Postmillennial eschatology says just that. So does dispensationalism, come to think of it - during the Millennial Reign on Earth.


Evolution, though, in no way conflicts with traditional Christian doctrine.

Only if you care about the Genesis narrative. But for an errantist like yourself, you can just define that part right out of your "Sacred Tradition", if you want, apparently.


they also didn't have violent fits and try to compensate by, for instance, setting up displays of dinosaurs with saddles on their backs at "Creationist" museums. Honestly, do you know how ignorant this makes Christians look?

Why would I care about that? Are you unfamiliar with the whole sinful man/world vs preaching of the Cross and the truth contrast in the NT?



What Protestants have been burned alive, imprisoned and tortured in Gulags, and massacred by Soviet soldiers as a witness to the Christian Faith before Atheists?

Quite a few have suffered in Vietnam and China. That wasn't what I asked you. Would you mind answering the question, please?


That so many were willing to stand up and face torture and death rather than deny their Faith in Christ is more than enough witness for the Atheists.

It's A testimony, yes. But YOU were the one who barged in on a post that doesn't concern EO dogma at all, claiming that EO dogma has a better answer for naturalism. So what is it? I call you on it and you cite martyrs?

Rhology said...

Prophecy isn't very Christian?

Oh, don't get me wrong, there's TONS of unbiblical random "prophecy" out there. In false religion.
So you think that a mere man will glorify another mere man, eh? How does that work?


Do you disagree that the Czar restrained the Atheist Communists?

Nice leap there. Context much?
2 Thess 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

It's pretty reckless Left-Behind-type eisegesis to apply those contemporary events to 2 Thess 2's prediction. I didn't think Tim LaHaye had a lot of pull in the EO community.

David said...

the inerrantist and errantist positions both exist inside their camp?

Not an essential matter of Faith for the Orthodox. Remember: our beliefs don't hinge on this or that individual verse.

Or ethnic divisions that squabble?

What "ethnic" divisions are you referring to? Are you talking about national churches(different from "ethnic" - very different, especially considering that Russia, whom I'm certain you're referring to, is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world)? Maybe you're talking about Russia's claims on the Ukraine and Estonia? How do small territorial disputes compromise our unity?

Or some churches that chrismate Protestant converts and others that baptise them?

This has nothing to do with unity. It has to do with local traditions. And it goes back to the earliest days of the Church. Are you familiar with the controversy in the 3rd and 4th centuries over rebaptism of the lapsed during the persecutions in Africa?

Old Calendarists?

Mostly schismatic -- which means they've broken from the Church, which, of course, doesn't compromise the Church's unity -- and, increasing heretical -- but isn't that what always happens when you take one step in the wrong direction... Satan takes ten more for you.

Unity in the Gospel.

Right. A Gospel whose most essential matters you fervently disagree with most other Protestants on. Hm...

1) B/c you don't believe the Gospel.

You wouldn't have the Gospel if it weren't for the Church, but oh well... It's possible for a group to have spiritual unity but not the Gospel, isn't it? Sunni Muslims, for instance, seem to have a great amount of spiritual unity with each other...

2) But what I meant here is that you're claiming INSTITUTIONAL unity, and I'm telling you that if you SAY you have it, either have it or admit you don't.

And we do. Unity doesn't exclude the possibility of conflict; it only promises that eventually said conflict will be resolved. Surely you're familiar with the state of the churches in the New Testament?

4) Plus, if my denomination were so inclined, we could either absorb liberals and just call 'em Southern Baptists, ignoring the actual differences,

Where in the Orthodox Church do you see substantial differences ignored?

and/or kick out people we didn't like or want among us and still claim the same institutional unity.

And you do... as you say below that your church excommunicates.

1) Where do you see that in the Bible?

John 17:23, amongst other places.

2) No, institutional unity is a qualified calling and command for ppl who are already spiritually unified thru the Gospel.

I agree...

And no, not necessarily. We're not at the end of history yet - perhaps in the future the vast majority of ppl will be blvrs. Postmillennial eschatology says just that. So does dispensationalism, come to think of it - during the Millennial Reign on Earth.

Please quit dodging the question; it's dishonest. Do you or do you not believe that the majority of people living on earth at this very moment were predestined by God long before their lives ever began to spend eternity in torment in hell?

Only if you care about the Genesis narrative.

But are you reading Genesis properly? Hm... what does "yom" mean?

But for an errantist like yourself, you can just define that part right out of your "Sacred Tradition", if you want, apparently.

Have I ever done that? You continue to say that I'll do it, yet I never have. You have created a straw-man of my beliefs on inerrancy.

Why would I care about that? Are you unfamiliar with the whole sinful man/world vs preaching of the Cross and the truth contrast in the NT?

Did Adam ever ride a dinosaur? Did Adam and dinosaurs co-exist? Please don't duck these questions the way you often choose to do.

David said...

That wasn't what I asked you. Would you mind answering the question, please?

The point was that the Orthodox have publicly stood up to Atheists, only perhaps not in the way you would choose to have them do. Things like freedom of speech are relatively new to most Orthodox, remember?

But YOU were the one who barged in on a post that doesn't concern EO dogma at all, claiming that EO dogma has a better answer for naturalism. So what is it? I call you on it and you cite martyrs?

I apologize if I "barged in on" this discussion; I'll be more careful next time. My original point, though, was that basic scientific facts like the earth being older than 6000 years don't conflict with traditional Christian belief; only particular verses taken out of context. Let science do its job; it's done well enough so far, if my medicine cabinet is any indication.

So you think that a mere man will glorify another mere man, eh? How does that work?

The term "glorification," in the Orthodox Church, refers to the official proclamation that somebody is a Saint of the Church; it's comparable to the term "canonization" in the West. It was under Czar St. Nicholas that St. Seraphim was glorified; and Czar St. Nicholas himself was martyred, receiving his glorification.

Nice leap there. Context much?

Their use of this particular phrase from Scripture is not somehow "official Orthodox doctrine." The Scripture is a living document and the possession of the Church; they chose to use a phrase from our Book.


David

Rhology said...

David,
I ordinarily don't mind it when someone derails a combox; if I have time, I follow the rabbit trail. But this time, I'm kinda fond of this post, so I want to derail it less. You couldn't know that, so I don't fault you for anything, I'm just telling you that now. I'm actually content to leave the long part of our convo where it is, save one question, the first one. You seemed to be claiming that EOC has a better answer for naturalism than Calvinism. I'd like to know what you meant. Did you mean martyrs and just rolling over for the evolutionary paradigm, shoehorning it into your dogma b/c you don't have an external correcting mechanism, or did you mean sthg else?

6p00e008d9f4818834 said...

Remember, we take the question from the Christian worldview, and in that worldview, God doesn't lie, and He does communicate truth.

Then why do you insist in teaching doctrines that insist that God is misleading or tricking us? Your doctrine cannot be read any other way.

Rhology said...

Who's the "us" in my argument?

(This is a pop quiz for reading comp.)

Rhology said...

Oh wait, you're freelunch.
God is both deceiving us and not deceiving us, in the same way and at the same time. Go away.

John said...

I have no idea what "institutional unity" is, and why you claim that Orthodoxy claims this is what we have.

What we have and claim to have is unity in communion which is founded on agreement in the faith. But agreeing isn't in itself unity, rather its a foundation for having unity.

You say that unity is God making believers into "the body of Christ". How there unity in the body of Christ if there is a baptist church on one corner only allowing as members those holding a baptist statement of faith and on the opposite corner presbyterians only holding presbyterian statements of faith? How are you not saying "I don't need you" to a part of the body when you say that?

And what verse states "the gospel" that Orthodox do not believe? Why don't you give us a list of verses that Orthodox has proclaimed are not to be believed.

Rhology said...

David,

Courtesy notification.

Viisaus said...

"I point you again to the Holy New-Martyrs of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Ethiopia. What Protestants have been burned alive, imprisoned and tortured in Gulags, and massacred by Soviet soldiers as a witness to the Christian Faith before Atheists?"


Well David, if you had read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Archipelago Gulag", you would know that great many Russian Protestants, Baptists mainly, did indeed end up in Stalin's Gulag. Actually in greater percentage (compared to their overall numbers) than the Russian Orthodox did!

Solzhenitsyn also wrote that while there were many EO martyrs, such people nevertheless were but a small shining minority amidst the general apostasy of other Russians. A great majority of pre-Soviet Orthodox population surrendered to the new godless system either actively (giving up their faith) or passively (failing to offer serious resistance). One 1920s White-Russian emigre bemoaned Russia's apostasy with poetic verses:

"The devil is laughing at you, Russia, because you only fancied yourself to be Christian."

Generally speaking, the Soviet atheists mopped the floor with the Orthodox church, even turning it into an obedient tool of the state (which led to ROCOR schism). The "only true church" simply failed to stop the rise of Communism.

Viisaus said...

"Did Adam ever ride a dinosaur? Did Adam and dinosaurs co-exist? Please don't duck these questions the way you often choose to do."


IMHO, being a creationist is today one of the clearest and easiest ways for a Christian to bear Christ's cross of shame. We must be ready to face the fallen world's ridicule to prove our loyalty to His revealed Word.

EOs even have their own exotic tradition of "being a fool for Christ" (yurodivy):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurodivy#Eastern_Orthodoxy

You could consider Protestant YECs to be "fools for Christ."

Viisaus said...

"You've developed the interesting habit of criticizing the martyrs in our conversations."


Here's one admittedly cold approach that you probably haven't thought about, but that DOES have clear Biblical precedents; Muslim and Communist persecutions could be a divine punishment for the EOs.

For just like God sent Assyrians and Babylonians to wreck the kingdoms of apostate Israelites, He could send Muslims and Communists to chastise EOs for their icon-worship, semi-Pelagian soteriology etc. This of course would not make Muslims and Communists righteous, but they would act of "the scourge of God."

Thus most Israelites killed by Nebuchadnezzar were not proper martyrs for true faith, but rather getting their just desserts - as prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel testify.


This is how an early Anglican apologist John Jewel argued in his HOMILY AGAINST PERIL OF IDOLATRY:

"Thus wee see what a sea of mischiefes the maintenance of Images hath brought with it, what an horrible Schisme betweene the East and the West Church, what an hatred betweene one Christian and another, Councels against Councels, Church against Church, Christians against Christians, Princes against Princes, rebellions, treasons, vnnaturall and most cruell murders, the daughter digging vp & burning her father the Emperours body, the mother for loue of idols most abominably murdering her owne sonne, being an Emperour, at the last, the tearing in sunder of Christendome and the Empire into two pieces, till the Infidels, Saracens, and Turkes, common enemies to both parts, haue most cruelly vanquished, destroyed and subdued the one part, the whole Empire of Greece, Asia the lesse, Thracia, Macedonia, Epirus, and many other great and goodly countreyes and Prouinces, and haue wonne a great piece of the other Empire, and put the whole in dreadfull feare and most horrible danger. For it is not without a iust and great cause to bee dread, left as the Empire of Rome was euen for the like cause of Images and the worshipping of them torne in pieces and diuided, as was for Idolatrie the kingdome of Israel in old time diuided: so like punishment, as for the like offence fell vpon the Iewes, will also light vpon vs: that is, left the cruell tyrant and enemy of our common wealth and Religion the Turke, by GODS iust vengeance, in likewise partly murder, and partly leade away into captiuity vs Christians, as did the Assyrian and Babylonian Kings murder and leade away the Israelites, and left the Empire of Rome and Christian Religion be so vtterly brought vnder foot, as was then the kingdome of Israel and true Religion of GOD, whereunto the matter already (as I haue declared) shrewdly enclineth on our part, the greater part of Christendome within lesse then three hundred yeers space, being brought into captiuity and most miserable thraldome vnder the Turke, and the noble Empire of Greece cleane euerted."

http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk2hom02.htm

David said...

Viisaus:

And, going in the same vein, I assume that the early Christians were persecuted by the Romans because God was punishing them because they were idolaters as well? The Apostles were all martyred because they'd abandoned the real teachings of Christ? Boy, it's a good thing Martin Luther came around 1400+ years later to restore them!

Your logic is tenuous, to say the least. And it's the same argument the Jews (and Roman pagans) used against early Christians...

Rhology said...

David, please apply a little more critical thinking here. SOME of biblical suffering was sent by God as punishment, at the hands of evil men, like Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon, as Viisaus said. And yet other sufferings were for other reasons.
Viisaus' point is that there's good reason NOT to use martyrs as support for your position. Better to discuss the presuppositions, the issues. It's a big problem for ppl with man-centered theology such as you have.

orthodox said...

"Muslim and Communist persecutions could be a divine punishment for the EOs. "

Or it could be God's way of making a diaspora of ex-patriate Greeks, Russians, Serbians, Romanians etc to spread EO all over the whole world.

Rhology said...

Good point.

So it all comes back to what's undergirding the event of persecution and martyrdom, as I was saying.

Viisaus said...

"And, going in the same vein, I assume that the early Christians were persecuted by the Romans because God was punishing them because they were idolaters as well?"

It seems that you don't know the church fathers THAT well after all. For example, Cyprian of Carthage, that grim proto-Novatian rigorist, argued precisely that God had allowed the Decian persecution to happen because Christians had become lax in faith and morality:


"During the early part of his exile, he wrote to the congregation in Carthage offering an interpretation of the persecution and urging the appropriate response which the community should make to it. Appealing to dream visions, Cyprian explained that because the church had been negligent in its prayers and in refusing to practice a union among its members, God had allowed the persecution as a testing. God intended to demonstrate the church's failures and thereby move the Christians to amendment. To bring the persecution to an end, therefore, the entire church must repent and pray for the forgiveness of sin.(6)

...

Clearly, Cyprian believed that God governs the universe according to moral standards, testing, rewarding and punishing according to the merits and for the best interests, perhaps of all humans, but certainly of Christians. He asserted that the persecution was carried out by the Roman officials under the inspiration of Satan but that God controlled Satan's operations. Thus he explained that although Christians had brought on the persecution by their negligence, God intended it for their correction and salvation. If they heeded the call to repentance and improvement, the persecution would stop; if they continued to sin, as the first set of confessors had done, the persecution might be intensified still more. Cyprian signaled the danger of provoking the divine anger and bringing down greater suffering on the church. This danger would be his primary concern in deciding on the readmission of the lapsed."

http://people.vanderbilt.edu/~james.p.burns/chroma/clergy/Burnsorders.html

John said...

Well then, since Communist persecution has ended in Russia, and Greece is no longer under the Turkish yolk, I guess God is now done punishing whatever bad elements there were.

Viisaus said...

Besides his factual "Archipelago" book, Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted the presence of Russian Baptists in Stalin's Gulag also in his famous novel "Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" - and it seems that their behavioral testimony was enough to impress that Eastern Orthodox writer:


"One Day focuses on Ivan Denisovich. Other characters play other roles, with Alyosha appearing only infrequently. But it is Alyosha that holds the key.

The reader suspects this almost as soon as we are introduced to him:

"Alyosha, who was standing next to [Ivan], gazed at the sun and looked happy, a smile on his lips. What had he to be happy about? His cheeks were sunken, he lived strictly on his rations, he earned nothing. He spent all his Sundays muttering with the other Baptists. They shed the hardships of camp life like water off a duck's back.""

http://www.summit.org/resources/essays/2008/02/meaning_in_the_gulag.php


This "Orthodoxy Today" article also notes the sufferings of USSR's Baptists:

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles2/UzzellGulag.php#

"On the Protestants she is somewhat stronger, reporting that the Khrushchev years, during which religious persecution was growing while other forms of repression were softening, saw the Baptists become "the largest single dissident group behind barbed wire.""


... and the servile behavior of many Russian Orthodox prelates:

"In contrast to the collaborationist policies that were to become the hallmark of the Moscow Patriarchate, the imprisoned bishops proclaimed that "the Church will be ready for the material deprivations to which it could be subjected . . . remembering that its strength does not depend on the existence of an undamaged external structure."

John said...

Interesting information Viisaus, but do you have an overall point?

Russian Orthodox are no strangers to the debate over the Russian Patriarchate during the Soviet years. Some argue the underground church did the right thing in separating itself from a compromised hierarchy. Others argue the official visible church made the best of a bad situation by keeping the church still visible and open in the dark years. I've got all the polemical material from both sides, and I'm not going to judge, not having walked a mile in their shoes.

Viisaus said...

I was originally responding to David's stereotypical depiction of the sufferings of EO martyrs that Protestants supposedly know nothing about.

In reality, many Protestant martyrs died in Communist hands as well, and the number of Russian EOs who became "traditores" (to use an old Donatist term) outnumbered the number of their martyrs.

David said...

Rho & Viisaus,

I respect and, largely, agree with many of the points you both have made here; I'm very happy, in fact, that you raised these points. I don't think that you've carried them through to their logical conclusion, though.

The examples you each use, such as God's punishments of Israel in the Old Testament and St. Cyprian's opinions about why Christians were being persecuted in his time, contain a common theme: God's actions upon and interactions with his chosen people.

I'm glad to see that you've finally come around. I heartily agree with both of you; Orthodox Christians are indeed God's chosen people!

John said...

Viisaus - that's still a fact not in evidence.

And if it were in evidence, I'm not sure how it is significant.

Viisaus said...

No, rather the Orthodox church was only carrying within itself a chosen minority that had not been sullied by idolatrous spirit, like the seemingly invisible 7000 in the days of Elijah.

(Great majority of Israelites perished during the Chaldean invasion, and only a minority survived to repent in exile.)


Back in the Elizabethan era, an English Protestant ambassador Giles Fletcher visited Russia during the reign of Boris Godunov.

In spite of all his criticism, Fletcher was gracious enough to concede that not all EOs were necessarily lost souls - a favor that EOs did not usually return to Western Christians...

p. 130

"All this mischief commeth from the clergie, who being ignorant and godlesse themselves, are very warie to keepe the people likewise in their ignorance and blindnesse, for their living and bellies sake: partly also from the manner of government setled among them: which the emperours (whom it specially behoveth) list not to have chaunged by any innovation, but to retaine that religion that best agreeth with it. Which notwithstanding it is not to be doubted, but that having the word of God in some sort (though without the ordinarie meanes to attaine to a true sense and understanding of it) God hath also his number among them. As may partly appeare by that which a Russe at Mosko said in secret to one of my servants, speaking against their images and other superstitions: — That God had given unto England light to day, and might give it to morrow (if he pleased) to them."

http://www.archive.org/details/russiaatcloseofs20bond

John said...

Viisaus, this is just protestant polemical nonsense. What he calls superstitions to do with images, has nothing to do with what the priests or emporers might want, but rather the teaching of the 7th ecumenical council held some 800 years previously. Now you can criticise that council if you want, but it has nothing to do with the 16th century Russian priesthood or emperors.

Rhology said...

What he calls superstitions (have) to do with images

Yep.



And David, you made me smile, b/c you also have a point.
But remember:
1) God often says in the OT prophets, while warning Israel of this and that punishment and of Babylonian invasion, that He is divorcing Israel.

2) Other OT prophets speak of similar judgment against non-chosen people nations, such as Nahum and Jonah vis-a-vis Assyria, Obadiah vis-a-vis Edom, etc.