Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Revisiting the Five Fundamentals

Fundamentalists! The horrors! Perhaps no word in the lexicon raises more hackles and conjures up images of crazy nuts out to slit everyone's throats and establish a harsh theocracy where all who disagree are gleefully beheaded or stoned to death. Islamic radicalism of late hasn't helped any, but the word has had a very negative connotation for a long time. Not so in its origin, for Christian fundamentalism at least.

After a time, the word "fundamentalist" began to carry a stigma. One reason was that those who adhered to fundamental doctrines basically became Pharisaical in adding to the list. Along with the core, non-negotiable matters of Christ's virgin birth, atonement etc..it became a test of fellowship if women in the church dared wear a bit of rouge or if men didn't use the right amount of pomade or VO-5. (Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea) So, the word "evangelical" came into prominence for those who adhered to core doctrinal truth but didn't engage in extreme separatism or legalism in non-essentials. Now, the word "evangelical" has broadened to the point where today's evangelicals (or neo-evangelicals) are liberalizing to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable from the majority of mainline denominations. Some biblical conservatives are even beginning to distance themselves from the evangelical world because of the mush theology in vogue these days.

Modern Christian fundamentalism can basically trace back to 1895 and a conference of Presbyterians at Niagara Falls. They initially had a list of 14 areas they considered non-negotiable. These areas closely resemble the doctrinal statements of most Bible-believing, conservative churches. This list was later refined to five areas. Here they are:

1. The inerrancy of the autographs (or original writings) of Scripture.
2. The virgin birth and deity of Christ.
3. The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross.
4. The bodily resurrection of Christ.
5. The imminent return of Christ.

As I review this list, I find it both sad and amazing that anyone claiming to be a Christian could deny any of these areas. They truly are non-negotiable. When anyone departs from these areas, they are not orthodox. They are heterodox. Does that mean I want to stone those who reject these areas? Of course not. However, I am not willing to engage in endless "conversation" and "dialogue" with theologians who pooh-pooh these doctrines. I can hear the protests already about being "close-minded." However, I take my cue from Scripture, most notably the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the church at Galatia, he describes the intense conflict at the council of Jerusalem where the Judaizers had stirred the pot and tried to compromise the Gospel:

"But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the Gospel would remain with you." (Galatians 2:4-5)

In the days of Paul and the other apostles, they had early gnosticism, Judaizing, and a host of other challenges. Today, we have the postmoderns, seeker-sensitives, contemplatives and the mish-mash of unbiblical doctrines that are involved in each of these areas. (Many errors are the same, just repackaged and gussied up for a new generation) We are urged to dialogue, converse, negotiate, overlook, tolerate, accept and even compromise in the spirit of "unity."

I will not yield in subjection to them, even for an hour. Neither should anyone else who loves the Lord and reveres His Word. True biblical unity is around truth. Just because a whole host of arrogant, smug men in clerical collars or academic robes insist that truth can't be known and that the Bible shouldn't be taken any more seriously than Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" will not change the fact that truth revealed by God CAN be known, and that God's Word stands forever.

Should the Lord tarry in His coming, it is more than likely that "A Generous Orthodoxy" will be remembered about as much as a Barbara Cartland novel. However, the Bible will always find a home. If he could speak to you from hell, Nietzsche would be the first to tell you that.

41 comments:

Sophia Sadek said...

Thanks for the posting.

We've had some fundamentalists attack our chat space. One of our students said, "Jesus is alive and well and living in Merida, Mexico."

Antother student responded, "Don't say that! They'll go to Merida, find a guy named Jesus, and nail him to a tree."

We don't blame all fundamentalists for the actions of the violent zealots.

Rattlesnake6 said...

It seems that whether it's the type of fundamentalists that sophia sadek describes or the garden-variety that's running around live and well spewing out all manner of nonsense, I'm distancing myself from the terms fundamentalist and evangelical. Historically, I understand them both and could sign on the dotted line. Not any more though. The modern Church in both its mega-church and Emergent forms. There was a time when evangelical stood for Reformed. Today evangelical can be Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, Stanley Grenz, John Franke, Doug Pagitt, Anne Lamott, Bob Schuller, Billy Graham, Paul & Jan Crouch...well, you get the picture.
Rattlesnake 6

SolaMeanie said...

I can understand that completely, RS6. In fact, on the radio program a few days ago, I had suggested that was a growing feeling. My guest at the time (as well as my co-host) said that "evangelical" was worth fighting for. I would agree, but wonder if it hasn't been infiltrated too deeply. You'd be amazed at the number of people I know beginning house churches. I had thought it was just a fringe movement, but it is growing indeed. What drives it is out of control doctrinal aberrations and at time abusive behavior on the part of pastors and church leaders intent on ramming this bad theology down their throats.

crownring said...

And let's not forget "born again", ladies and gentlemen. That "term" has been sullied and made a laughing stock by the likes of Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, and a host of other TV evangelists to the point even I cringe when I hear someone using it. I think the term we will all be identifying ourselves with before long is "renewed". Yet how long "renewed" will last before it too becomes reviled is anyone's guess.

Sophia Sadek said...

One of the earlier uses of the word "evangelical" is in the writings of Rabelais. He may have even coined the word. His humor may be too raunchy for fundamentalists, but it did point out the hypocrisies of the Roman clerics of his day.

SolaMeanie said...

I would hardly call Rabelais an evangelical. Although he spent time in a Catholic monestery, he was largely a secular satirist. Coarse, bawdy, raunchy...you name it. Not something one would associate with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Disapproval of raunchy humor is something that should be shared by anyone naming the name of Christ as their Savior. It is not a "fundamentalist" issue per se. I have no problem with people rejecting biblical Christianity and living as secular a life as they please..gutter humor and all. Contrary to popular opinion, American biblical conservatives do not wish to establish a theocracy. However, we do believe in the concept of truth in labeling. Our problem is with those who call themselves Christian and then proceed to violate every biblical tenet of the faith including those governing orthodox behavior.

Sophia Sadek said...

Sounds like a thought police issue. There is far more to Rabelais than his raunchier moments. Most of his satire is directed at the habits of those wearing a habit. So, I wouldn't call it "secular," although I guess the Latin Church has been rather "secular" in its nature.

One can appreciate the finer points of Rabelais by not focusing on his cruder aspect. It's a complete rejection of a work based on one dimension that gets fundamentalists into trouble.

SolaMeanie said...

Sophie,

When you use the term "thought police," it is not only insulting, but it also indicates that you really don't understand the subject at hand. If you are a person outside the church being critical of what you perceive as "fundamentalists," then your confusion is understandable.

This is largely a "within the camp" discussion...and specifically within the camp of evangelical conservative Protestantism. Rome does not have a dog in this fight, at least not yet.

I am more well read than you imagine. I said nothing about "rejecting" a work. I can read and get a chuckle out of William Faulkner although I certainly don't agree with the point of view of the characters within Faulkner's works, nor the language with which they are occasionally expressed. However, I am not going to class Faulkner as a theological work expressing the thoughts of biblical Christianity. Surely you can see the distinction.

If you are going to attempt to bring Rabelais into that area, then you will have to have him face Scripture, especially those passages that rebuke vulgar, profane speech and coarse humor. If you disapprove of the Scriptural rebuke, your quarrel is with the Lord and not me. (Then again, Scripture wasn't exactly the foundation of Catholic theology in the 1400s.)

As far as issues within Christianity, disputes over theology are nothing new. The early church councils were held (including the earliest one on record in Jerusalem dealing with Judaizers) to settle such disputes and declare what the orthodox position was/is. There are a host of people within evangelical Christianity attempting to depart from biblical orthodoxy. That is what is spurring this discussion forward.

So, whether you are reading Orwell, Rabelais or the Seventh Sola, enjoy...but let's be clear about what we're about.

Rattlesnake6 said...

Dear pseudo-Sophie,
Martin Luther coined the term. Nice try.
Rattlesnake 6

Sophia Sadek said...

Many apologies for any offense. I did not intend to be insulting, only to hold up a mirror to the attack on Rabelais.

For me, he is like a neighbor. When I see him lying beaten on the side of the data communication superhighway, I cannot help but attempt to assist him in any way I can. Whether you approve of his work or not, he was a seminal figure in the Reformation.

Our tradition is not as kosher minded. We go by the concept of corruption coming out of the mouth, rather than entering in. In that sense, the filth we find in Rabelais does not spoil the wheat, nor does it corrupt our consciousness.

You have assisted us immensely in demonstrating that the thief in the wilderness sees himself as a divine hand. That is a valuable lesson for all of our students.

Thank you kindly.

SolaMeanie said...

Sophie,

I can accept that at face value, and thank you..but I am a bit mystified as to WHERE you are coming from. You say I "attack" Rabelais, but I am basically evaluating him from a Scriptural/theological sense. He may well be a humorous, gifted writer to some..and that is your privilege to think that way. That does not make him an orthodox Christian theologian with an accurate view of God, Jesus, the authority of Scripture, soteriology, Christology, epistemology etc. If he (or anyone else for that matter) decides to write things that are contrary to Scripture, then responses such as mine are to be expected from those who take the Bible, God and Jesus Christ seriously.

I do not see Rabelais as a seminal "Reformation" figure..and I doubt that most Reformed people who are knowledgeable about the Reformation period would place Rabelais in that light. He was a satirist first and foremost. Don't be thrown by his spending time in monasteries. A monestery does not a sound theologian make, necessarily. Assuredly, Rabelais did tweak the Catholic hierarchy in various ways, but that does not a Reformation hero make. He was doctrinally a heretic. (and no..that does NOT mean I would have approved of him being burned at the stake. Faith and/or belief cannot be coerced). What I AM saying is "truth in labeling."

Perhaps part of my difficulty in understanding where you are coming from is your rather cryptic style.."the thief in the wilderness sees himself as a divine hand." Meaning what? Me? I am saying nothing other than restating basic biblical orthodoxy.

I hold the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice in Christianity. If one has a low view of Scripture, then of course renegade monks like Rabelais or modern apostates like Bishop John Shelby Spong will resonate.

From what you seem to be saying (and forgive me if I misinterpret), to have a firm, clear, convinced view of anything is somehow a no-no. Very postmodern and lots of fun for mind games, but in the real world it doesn't work very well. If we can never know anything for certain, then doing anything at all doesn't make much sense. The postmodern mind is irrational. I am afraid if people imbibe of it too deeply, they will eventually find themselves at Bellevue Hospital, on thorazine and undergoing shock treatments.

Sophia Sadek said...

You are correct in my overreaction to your attitude towards Rabelais. In fact, one of our students pointed out that it is not Rabelais who suffers from orthodoxy, but those who have been led astray by it.

The big difference between orthodoxy and fellowship with Christ is in the approach to scripture. When one idolizes scripture, one distances oneself from the divine Logos. Scriptural idolatry leads people away from divinity and into a labyrinth of apostolic error. It creates a rocky consciousness that rejects the divine Logos. In our tradition, we are informed by the Gospels, instead of holding them up as absolute truth.

Our student observed that the more Rabelais is spit upon, the more sympathy he gains from the followers of Christ. His status as heretic puts him in good company. After all, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified for his blasphemous heresies.

As for the irrationality of postmodernism, a voice of reason crying out in the wilderness sounds like the ravings of a lunitic when heard by the ears of the criminally insane.

SolaMeanie said...

Led astray by orthodoxy? Sophie, Sophie...surely you can do better than that! Orthodoxy means "right" or "correct." The term heterodoxy means the opposite. Wrong or incorrect. One cannot be led astray by orthodoxy because by definition orthodoxy is the correct belief. Sigh.

The church reserves the right to define itself and what is orthodoxy or orthopraxis. The definitions are to come from God's Word - Scripture. These sorts of arguments remind me of the person who challenges the law against murder by asserting that "murder to one person might not mean murder to another." Ridiculous of course, but a great illustration of the postmodern mindset. You say you are informed by the Gospels and do not hold them up as absolute truth. If the Gospels are not true, then why follow them? Also, if all Scripture is God-breathed and Jesus upheld its authority, how can you then distance yourself from the divine Logos who Himself said the Scriptures point to Him? He chided the Pharisees for ignoring and distorting Scripture, not for following it!

Flouting biblical commands sounds like great fun until your own ox gets gored. Adultery and lying might make for a great parlor game until your spouse brings home syphilis and your tax preparer lies to the IRS about your income. Words mean things and ideas have consequences.

This charge of "idolizing Scripture" is a canard. No one in evangelicalism or fundamentalism worships the Bible. We worship the One who inspired it and obey Him by obeying His Word. We take our attitude toward the Scriptures from the Lord Himself, who upheld the authority of Scripture. Of course, you can do what countless others have done through the ages and deny the plenary inspiration of Scripture. The church has always rejected such attempts and will continue to do so.

Rabelais gaining sympathy from Christ's followers? You must be in some obscure cult, then..as I know of no one who considers Rabelais representative of Christianity. He's basically nothing more than flatulence jokes told in a 1400s Gallic accent. And to compare Rabelais of all people and any criticism he receives to the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross is breathtaking...and that's being as kind as I can be. I really strongly suggest you re-read the Gospels as well as the book of Romans to fully understand why Jesus went to the cross.

Postmodernism is not a voice of reason. In fact, postmodernism dislikes rationality and reason intensely. You really need to give it up, Sophie. I am not some rube out of an unaccredited Appalachian correspondance school. I happen to know what I am talking about.

Sophia Sadek said...

There are two types of orthodoxy. One is "upright teaching." The other type is the kind that most people are familiar with.

Sacred texts are not themselves "divine Logos." Instead, they give us a glimpse of the divine in a language that can be understood by the initiated. They contain pointers, for those who are willing to follow them.

The Pythagorean school has excellent guidelines for interpreting sacred texts. We recomend them to serious students of the bible. You may find them to be too postmodern for your liking.

SolaMeanie said...

Pythagoras and the looking glass..reflect the full moon. Sigh.

To be "upright" in terms of teaching and understanding the Bible, one must understand and teach it correctly.

In addition to some good courses on biblical theology, hermeneutics etc..I would also suggest a good course on reading comprehension. I didn't say that sacred texts were the "divine Logos" as any cursory reading of what I have written would clearly indicate. The sacred text of Scripture was plenarily inspired by the divine Logos (Jesus Christ) and as such, is profitable for instruction, reproof, correction etc. To those who are willing to listen to it, understand it and obey it.

What you are advocating (suggested by your use of the word "initiated) is regurgitated gnosticism, which has been rejected by the church from the beginning. We do not consider gnostics or the Pythagorean school serious students of the Bible. The biblical books of Jude, 1,2 and 3 John etc. will be instructive to you. They were written to counter an early form of gnosticism that had arisen.

Christianity has never been "for the secret initiates." Scripture has never been open to "private interpretation" as Peter made clear.

First we had Rabelais. Now we have Pythagoras. What will you try next, pray tell? Sappho or perhaps Lucrezia Borgia? Arius? The Nestorian heresy? Monism? Hymenaeus and Alexander? Sebellius?

Let's see. Jezebel maybe? Lilith? Mary Queen of Scots? Hero and Leander? Antigone? Apollinarianism?

Okay, now that I have teased a little, let me be serious. "My liking" has little to do with it. What matters is what God Himself says. We can argue until the cows come home, but in the end He has the final Word. That final Word has been spoken in His Son and in the text of Scripture, which points to His Son. There is no other way.

SolaMeanie said...

To clarify something I said earlier, Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The term Logos refers to Christ. I know..I know..you probably have difficulty with the Trinity. But I must be accurate in what I say about Christian theology.

Rattlesnake6 said...

Dear Sophie,
Postmoderns want it their way all the time. First, we have to listen to endless drivel about modern and premodern thinkers and in the next breath they're appealing to Pythagoras!
The main problem, however, is not your blatant inconsistency; it is your disdain for and refusal to submit to the authority of God's Word. This is what all of your pseudo-intellectual arguments boil down to. You want to live autonomously and want no one, not even God, to have any say in your life.
That is part of the reason you try splitting hairs over the defintion of orthodoxy. It's pure spin and dance.
Rattlesnake 6

Sophia Sadek said...

Thank you for clarifying us on the "orthodox" definition of the divine Logos. Even the OED lists Jesus as the theological definition of Logos.

Before orthodoxy mangled the definition, logos was defined as "reason and oratory." A number of pre-Nicene authors describe a spring of water where the spring represents reason and the stream flowing from the spring represents oratory.

We see a reflection of this spring in a number of places, including the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Jesus offered to make her a source of eternal life.

Jesus didn't reveal how he would initiate the woman. He didn't reveal the nature of this eternal source. He (and the author of John's Gospel) only give us a hint at the possibility.

Can we agree that Jesus incarnated the divine Logos? There is a difference in an individual incarnating the Logos and actually being the Logos. To say that he is the Logos is to deny his humanity. I'm not sure you want to take that step.

As for the truth of the Trinity, perhaps we should leave that for another day.

Does the orthodox disdain for the Pythagorean tradition have anything to do with the fact that the Pythagoreans had the capacity to perceive a spherical, rotating Earth where the orthodox taught that the Earth was flat and immobile? (Yet another "upright" teaching.)

Rattlesnake6 said...

Dear what-a-tendentious-handle,
The Bible in John 1:1 calls Jesus the Logos, but in John 1:14 says that this Word became flesh, so that doesn't appear to be a problem for the author of John's gospel, who just happens to be John.
Where in the world did you come up with the notion that "the orthodox? disdain Pythagoreans or their tradition? I was merely arguing that a far better hermeneutic was to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. If you are a Christian, you are one very confused person. If you are not, what you're saying must make perfect sense to you.
Rattlesnake 6

Sophia Sadek said...

RS6, what aspect of John 1:1 calls Jesus the Logos? Please, elucidate this assertion for my feable, postmodern mind.

My query about the orthodox disdain for the Pythagorean school was a reference to the blog owner's comment about the seriousness of gnostic and Pythagorean scriptural scholarship. Your confusion about my confusion derives from your assumption that I responded to you, when I was responding to Solameanie.

I wouldn't call myself a Christian. Christians have a reputation for being vicious and brutal. Besides, the orthodox definition of Christian excludes those who know the truth. Therefore, in the eyes of the orthodox, it would be a fib to take on such a moniker.

SolaMeanie said...

Sophia,

I will pass over the silly charge of viciousness and brutality. You know better than that, or should.

It never ceases to amaze me when non-Christians try to instruct Christians about Christian theology and the meaning of their own Scriptures. A bit like trying to instruct a neurosurgeon in the proper way to use a scalpel or hemostat.

The Pythagorean school may well be adept at gnosticism, but it is clueless about Christianity, the Bible or the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Gnosticism and similar false theologies attempt to force on Scripture ideas that are alien to both Scripture and to the men who authored it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You think you know the truth and that the orthodox definition of Christian excludes those who claim to know it. The church reserves the right to define itself. I indeed hope and pray you find the truth. Your eternal destiny hangs on it.

Rattlesnake6 said...

Dear Sophie,
Thank you for being so clear. I truly appreciate you stepping up to the microphone and stating so emphatically and unequivocally where you stand: with both feet firmly planted in mid-air.
Good luck with your ethics, your hermeneutics, and your life.
Rattlesnake 6

SolaMeanie said...

Btw again...I need to shoot a hole in the "flat earth" canard. Keep in mind that the average Joe didn't have ready access to Scripture. Regardless of what the "powers that be" taught, the Bible actually refers to the "circle of the earth."

Also, the writings of pre-Nicene authors are not considered canonical Scripture.

Sophia Sadek said...

I never intended to say that the orthodox definition excludes those who claim to know the truth. What I meant to say was that the orthodox definition of Christian excludes those who know the truth. In order to be considered a Christian by orthodox standards, one must adhere to a strict matrix of deception.

Part of that deception is, in fact, claiming to know the truth. Anyone who does not adhere to the sophisms of the Nicene Creed is not considered a Christian by orthodox standards. Such people have always been considered to be a threat to the flock (or, more accurately, to those who prey on the flock).

As for the "circle of the Earth," that has a distinctive ring to it. It reminds me of Thales assertion that the Earth was a flat disk.

As for your observation that the average Joe did not have access to sacred texts, that part of the Reformation has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the average Joe can now see the deceptions of the orthodox clergy in their mishandling of sacred texts. On the other hand, the average Joe can be mislead into thinking that the texts are to be taken literally.

The advantage of Pythagorean hermeneutics is that it prevents one from falling into the pit of sophistical misinterpretation. It is a cure for apostolic error.

SolaMeanie said...

I used the word "claim" purposefully. You are making truth claims and we are disputing those claims. If anyone is deceived, it is you, I am afraid. You reveal how woefully ignorant you are on Christian theology with each response. I am not threatened by you and the Pythagorean school in the least because what you are saying is so demonstrably false. Sadly, you seem to think anyone who doesn't agree with you is an "average Joe." Check out Rattlesnake6's theological training sometime and you'll see why such claims are so laughable.

The Nicene Creed is simply a restatement of Christian doctrines derived from Scripture..doctrines taught by Jesus and the Apostles. If you think that systematic theology is based on sophistry, you really don't understand the subject. Your phrase "apostolic error" is especially telling. The apostles were directly taught by Jesus and given their authority by Him. Are you telling me that Jesus was a bad teacher? Perhaps you're telling me that Jesus had no authority to give His authority to the apostles?

I would really enjoy seeing you attempt to impose a gnostic-style interpretation of a murder statute. I can just hear the judge banging his gavel now between fits of laughter. Of course, if someone you love is murdered, I can well imagine that you'd want the letter of the law observed.

Tell me this. Who sets the rules for Pythagorean hermeneutics? What authority do they have for setting those rules? If I decline to follow those rules and head off in my own direction, does that make me a Pythagorean heretic? Suppose I take a different tack on "the harmony of the spheres" or metempsychosis? Silly, isn't it?

You're basically telling me that the founder of Christianity and His closest followers didn't understand the faith THEY founded! What garbage!

Rattlesnake6 said...

Sophie,
Simple question: How do you KNOW that the Pythagorean hermeneutic is a cure to the apostolic error? In fact, on your premises, how do YOU know anything?
Rattlesnake 6

Sophia Sadek said...

First, in answer to RS6, I know that the Pythagorean techniques are a cure for apostolic error because they have been applied with great success. It's like mathamatics, the proof of the tool's validity is in its application. Without application, mathematics would be a futile endeavor, an exercise in insanity.

In response to Solameanie, you're misrepresenting the nature of the Nicene Creed. The people who crafted it, especially Athanasius, deliberately misrepresented Proverbs 8:22 in order to support their sophistry. It was born of deception.

A student of Christian theology observed, "I thought it was taken straight out of the book." Actually, it was taken crooked out of the book.

There is no mystery to the Trinity. The only mistery is how anyone can espouse such a bold-faced lie.

As for confusing RS6 with the average Joe, there is no chance of that happening. RS6 is clearly not at the level of average.

Support for apostolic error is in the Gospels. Peter wasn't a very good disciple. It's obvious to anyone who reads the text. He simply didn't listen.

This doesn't mean that Jesus was a bad teacher. He had other disciples who actually listened and learned. Basing a tradition on the apostolic authority of a bad student is exactly what caused apostolic error in the first place.

By the time the fourth century rolled around, the students of the bad student began labelling the better students as "heretics" because they did not obey bogus authority. What you call good theology is actually bad discipline.

SolaMeanie said...

Again, you seem to assume a great level of ignorance on the part of your interlocutors. It's just not going to fly, Sophia. You're going to have to back up what you're saying and that will be problematic. To compare mathematics to theology is like comparing apples and oranges.

I am most certainly not misrepresenting the nature of the Nicene Creed as any student of FACTUAL church history will know. My library is chock full of books about this period and they weren't written by people chanting over a Ouija Board. Proverbs 8 is dealing with the subject of wisdom told in an anthropomorphic manner. No more and no less. To say there is some "hidden meaning" in this is purely fantastic and almost delusional.

As to the Trinity, you are not the first who fails to grasp the subject. I would advise you that God is a non-analogous being. There is no one like Him. He is separate and distinct from His creation. The Trinity is affirmed by Scripture, and just because your finite mind can't grasp it is no justification for calling it a lie.

As to the Apostle Peter, I believe Jesus would laugh heartily at your characteristic of him. I think YOU need to read the text again. Yes, he was impulsive and the Bible writers are to be commended for their honesty in not whitewashing individual faults. After the Resurrection, Peter became a bold lion of the faith and a key leader as Jesus Himself intended.

I almost begin to believe that trying to discuss this further with you is pointless because your whole view of this subject is based on bad history, faulty information, ignorance of orthodox theology, hermeneutics, exegesis and a host of other maladies. I strongly suggest that you simply begin reading the Bible at face value and stop trying to impose gnostic errors onto the text, as well as the history and culture of the people who authored it under divine guidance.

SolaMeanie said...

On reflection, you might be able to make some comparisons between math and theology in an abstract sense. However, you will eventually run into the same problems as do those who try to view the Bible through a scientific lens. The scientific method is based on observable data analysed in experimentation in a controlled environment. That doesn't quite work with theology.

Sophia Sadek said...

Ahhh, it looks like we're getting somewhere. The personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8 (anthropomorphism, in your expression) is analogous to the personification of Logos in John 1. Such personification is a pagan concept.

So, what's a pagan concept doing in the OT? What's a pagan concept doing in the gospel of John? And why are there other numerous pagan references such as the parable of the seed sower? Why did Jesus use the pagan oratorical technique of parabole? Why does Matthew point to the pagan pearls of wisdom?

If you please, go back to the writings of Athanasius and look at his references to Proverbs 8. If you look at it with an open mind, you'll see how he changes the gender of the person of wisdom from feminine to masculine. He also make it apply to Jesus. By doing so, he makes the faux pas of identifying wisdom with Jesus, just as RS6 made the mistake of identifying Logos with Jesus.

Christ is a child of wisdom. Jesus performed the role of Christ by incarnating the divine Logos. That's a clearer understanding of the nature of the divine Logos and the nature of wisdom than Athanasius possessed.

Athanasius also made the mistake of referring to Christ as the divine hand. John and Peter were hands. Jesus was at the head. Yet another apostolic error.

On another topic:

Had you formal scientific training, you would not limit the scope of science to the logical positivist method. Logical positivism serves to refine scientific understanding. The great leaps in scientific discovery have always come outside the scope of that method. In fact, they often have contradicted the conclusions of laboratory science.

There are many methods of science. Controlled laboratory procedures serve a minor role next to other techniques.

Thanks, at least, for reconsidering the analogy between mathematics and Pythagorean hermeneutics. If you rejected such an analogy altogether, you would not have referred to Peter as a lion.

In mathematics, we use abstract symbols to represent objects. Sacred texts were written with a similar discipline. In fact, mathematics was part of the priestly initiation for that very reason. If you can't deal with the abstractions of mathematics, you will not be able to deal with the abstractions of sacred literature.

SolaMeanie said...

No, hon..we're not getting anywhere, although I will commend you for finally putting your cards on the table instead of cryptic asides. Very good.

In most of what you wrote, you forget one very important thing. The intent of the author/writer. Remember when I said you are forcing ideas onto Scripture that are alien to Scripture? That is precisely what you are doing and is demonstrable by the testimony of the Scriptures themselves as to hidden meanings and speculative theology.

Anthropomorphism is not a "pagan concept" in your sense of the word. It is a literary device. Another example of a similar device is when Jesus said "I am the door." We don't look for a knob on Him, do we?

While it might be true that occasionally, biblical authors might have referenced a non-inspired text for the purposes of showing familiarity, that did not mean they referenced the text or idea as authoritative for Christian theology. Paul, for example, quoted pagan authors on Mars Hill to show his familiarity with their writings, but that was not an endorsement of their theology. A text without a context becomes a pretext. BTW..I used the term "The Gnostic Medusa" to head off another post. My knowledge and use of a mythological creature such as Medusa does not mean I am ready to worship at a pagan temple. To suggest that is..well...I'll try to stay polite. :)

Matthew's pearls had nothing to do with the pagan concept. It is an analogy and nothing more. Also, if Jesus (as Christians believe) is the Second Person of the Triune God and Creator..it is proper to call him Wisdom since He is the author of it. Is that too hard for a gnashing gnostic to understand? I am reminded of a lyric that says "those whose heads are searching in the clouds to make discoveries, yet maybe fail to see what's on the ground beneath their feet not hard to find." Try pulling your head out of the gnostic mist and read what Scripture actually says. Christ IS the Logos and that is the meaning of John 1 whether you like it or not.

As for my "formal scientific training," I am not ignorant of basic concepts. My point was that in math and science, you perform experiments or solve problems by using proven formulas. God is not someone who you can call into a laboratory and ask Him to sit down in a petri dish so you can test Him. That and that alone was my point in making that comparison.

Finally, as for the Apostle Peter. I hate to break it to you like this, but I did not have any "hidden meaning" in my calling him a lion. Again, that was a literary device intended to convey a concept..his boldness in standing for His Lord.

Remember that God opposes the proud. Gnostics pride themselves so much on their speculative theology and "initiated" status. The real God of the Bible is the one who said a child could understand the truth. Perhaps you should meditate on what it means to be a child again. I pray that you will be saved in truth and be led out of the deception in which you are so absorbed.

Rattlesnake6 said...

How do you know math is true? Are there paradoxes? Apparent or real contradictions. What's behind your appeal to math, because math has to rest upon something that must rest upon something. Can you help us out by "naming the child?" That way we can get on with what your life and worldview is founded upon. Until that time, you are convincing no one.
Rattlesnake 6

Rattlesnake6 said...

How do you know that mathematical abstractions are really abstractions? In other words, what is your FINAL court of appeal for life? Please do not give me the infinite regress or the something-came-out-of-nothing nonsense.
Rattlesnake 6

contender said...

Sophia, you wrote: "Why did Jesus use the pagan oratorical technique of parabole? Why does Matthew point to the pagan pearls of wisdom?"

You really need to understand the Jewish nature of Jesus' words. They were not pagan. What do you think the "Pearl of Great Price" is/was? I must ask you to tell me what you think about this in order to see how you really do at proper interpretation and to illustrate my preceeding statement about understanding Jewish roots.

An accountant friend of mine has repeatedly told me that "mathematics: is determined by what philosophical presuppositions you accept that undergird your conclusions. He has said that it is a giant assumption to imagine that God acts on our system. I would have to have him come here and comment in order to follow up on that. The point is that mathematics is NOT divine and absolute in authority.

Also, if you understand that national Israel rejected Jesus as Maschiach Nagid in Matthew 10 (and not just at the crucifixion) you will then understand the exclusion of the Jewish crowds from being given anything but parables (riddles) when He spoke of prophetic things. They, unlike his disciples, had forfeited the right to Kingdom knowledge. This does NOT justify the occultic initate knowledge of gnostics. This was an "in-family" dispute between the King of Israel and His rebellious subjects. It was a judicial decision on King Yeshua's part.

Sophia Sadek said...

Sola, the ideas that you think are alien to sacred texts are actually only alien to your idea of sacred texts. There is deeper meaning in the text than you are willing to admit.

When you refer to metaphor as a literary device, you miss its application as a oratorical device. In fact, oratory predates literature. Much literature was oratorical for generations before being written down.

If you break open the hard crust of your rocky consciousness to allow a little light to shine in, you will no longer view sacred texts as absolute divine authority. Instead, you will see metaphoric meaning where you failed to see it before.

You claim that Matthew does not point to the pagan pearls. How familiar are you with those pearls? Do you have any specific reason for making that assertion other than the desire for it to not be so?

When you said that Christ is wisdom, you demonstrated another example of the apostolic error of which I speak. Do you also confuse Christ with the divine hand?

You view Christ as being the divine Logos. That's your prerogative. A different interpretation is that Jesus incarnated the divine Logos in order to serve as the messiah. It is a more robust and rational interpretation.


RS6, you seem to have misunderstood my references to mathematics. I was making an analogy of abstractions such as the leonine Peter with mathematical abstractions. Pythagorean hermeneutics is not mathematical, but it is an abstraction in the sense that mathemetics is.

Contender, to say that Jesus was strictly Jewish is to limit him in time and place. When we read the text, we don't see his domain as being of this world.

You asked about my understanding of the Matthew reference. Having a knowledge of the pearls of wisdom and their relation to Christ, I take the pearl to be one of the pearls of wisdom. There is evidence that the Church repeatedly attempted to outlaw anyone who had knowledge of those pearls.

In your reference to mathematics, I agree that it is neither divine nor an absolute authority. It is a tool that can be used to solve a variety of special problems. Pythagorean hermeneutics is also such a tool.

You may feel comfortable thinking that you know that sacred literature is an absolute authority. In fact, in your life, it may very well be an absolute authority. What you see in sacred texts is limited by your understanding of them. Therefore, your absolute authority is absolutely limited.

One day you may come to know that what you assumed to be positive is actually negative, and vice versa. Such is the nature of absolutes.

SolaMeanie said...

Sophie,

I must admire your tenacity in trying to defend such serious errors. I can only hope and pray that you will be as tenacious in defending the truth if God is pleased to help you discover it.

I will agree that Scripture is wonderfully deep and the Lord is always revealing more layers to His children as they study His Word. However, God is consistent and the more we learn only serves to confirm the truth He has already revealed. The only sense in Scripture where something is "hidden" can be illustrated by Jesus' use of parables, which the Jews didn't understand. And He explained precisely why He did it and then proceeded to inform His disciples of the meaning. Right there in front of your face. There are other examples. Again, you are not gleaning any deeper meanings out of Scripture with your system. You are IMPOSING meanings on Scripture that aren't there.

I haven't missed metaphor as an oratorical device at all. Remember, context. We were discussing words in text and anthropomorphisms in text. Strike one.

What is your authority for telling me that the Bible does not convey absolute divine authority?

Contender answered the question about the pearls, so I don't think I need to add anything unless you persist in insisting that your pagan idea was what Matthew was talking about. What is your proof positive that Matthew drew from your pagan idea..other than for your desire for it TO be so? Strike two.

As to Christ, wisdom and the Logos...my interpretation is the correct interpretation. There is only one correct interpretation, but many applications. You can only deny that Jesus is the Logos by ignoring John 1:1 and other Scriptures, or by reinterpreting them in Lewis Carroll fashion according to your own mistaken desires. The language is plain in the text and enough scholars have elaborated on this to the point that denying it is either helplessly blind or hopelessly delusional. I would not use "robust and rational" to your interpretation.

As to the wisdom aspect, this is a perfect example of how people who adhere to your ideas use pettifogging to cloud the issue. As Creator, God can be called the author of wisdom and even wisdom without doing violence to Scripture. You see, I take Scripture as a whole to arrive at theological conclusions. I don't just isolate one verse and try to build a doctrine out of it.

It is said that God is love. If God can be love, He can also be wisdom. In Proverbs 24, wisdom is called an "it." The context determines what you read and how to understand it. It's an analogy. Spell it out slowly. A-N-A-L-O-G-Y. Nice try. Strike three.

As your other remarks are directed at contender and RS6, I will let them answer those.

The long and short of it, Sophie, is that Jesus, God the Son, died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification. There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. You need to repent of your sin (including your false theology) and place your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I pray earnestly that you do. I'm just a beggar. But I know where the bread is.

SolaMeanie said...

Dr. Robert Morey, a well respected theologian and apologist, posted the following in the comments section of a separate post on this issue:

Gnosticism was part of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jewish Messianic Church when Gentiles flooded into the church and brought their Greek philosophy with them. Origin is a good example of a GK philosopher who claimed to be a Christian but really brought in all kinds of GK pagan ideas such as the pre-existence of the soul.
They claimed that they had special knowledge through immediate personal visions, dreams,and revelations. Their secret gnosis was above and beyond Scripture. It made them special. They were in the know and superior to those who only had the Bible.

Rattlesnake6 said...

Dear Sophie,
Given your epistemology, how do you know what the nature of absolutes is?
BTW, I intend to keep coming back at you at this point until you stop all pseudo-assurance and tell me your, well, axioms for life and where you derive them.
You have not answered my questions to you. Instead, you fill the air with what you must think to be very intellectual. Just drop the academic pinheadery and answer the questions. We'll all be better served. Most of us can read and write--we're semi-literate, so cut to the chase.
Rattlesnake 6

Sophia Sadek said...

Sola, it is not I who need to repent. You are the one who is opposed to divinity. You think that Jesus died for your sins. That doesn't make it so. That's another apostolic error. You've taken things out of context. And you accuse me of ascribing meaning that does not exist.


RS6, there are no absolutes. All things are relative. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will mend your vicious ways.

SolaMeanie said...

Sophia,

Are you absolutely sure there are no absolutes? I am really saddened for you. You are so lost.

Opposed to divinity? That has to be the most "out there" charge I have ever been hit with. You have spent post after post telling all of us we are in error. Now that you have thrown down the gauntlet, let's see you back your charges up with some actual proof. RS6 has asked you to do this several times. I want to see you make your case from Scripture in context.

If you are incapable of doing so with clarity, precision and documentation, you had best head back to your metaphysical school and get a refund. Loving hint...that's a bad place to learn Scriptural truth anyway.

contender said...

Sophie,
I am going to say something you should understand or at least relate to. This will also make you furious no doubt, but the pagan hidden pearls of wisdom is a cheap satanic counterfeit of a reality taught by Yahweh (God) in the Bible. The various gnostics teach that the unitiated will not understand the "pagan pearls." This counterfeit claim parallels the epistemologically true reality of God's children versus the devil's children who have not been "born again." Jesus said to not "cast your pearls before swine as they will trample them underfoot and then turn and rend (hurt) you." Jesus also taught that unless you are "born again" you cannot perceive the Kingdom of God and can't enter it. (see John 3) He never called His brethren or children swine which was an unclean animal according to God's word in the Old Testament or Tanach.

In 1Co 2:14 The Apostle Paul carrying on this same theme stated: "But a natural man (read non born-again man here) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."

Sophie, you will never be able to truly see or perceive what the Bible is really talking about until you have trusted in the simplicity of the Gospel and consequently been born again or regenerated by The Holy Spirit.

God does not require effort we can boast about to prove how smart, deep or initiated we are in order to be born again. As a gift we have new eyes granted us that we may see. Jesus made that clear in Mt 11:25 ". . . Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes" The Apostle Pul again follows this theme when he says in 1Co 1:20 " Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

De 29:29 states: "The secret things belong unto YAHWEH our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Pr 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

We who are born again into God's family are considered royalty (kings) to Him since we are directly related to Jesus Who is called "our elder brother" and He is KING of the universe. As such we have things revealed to us and are expected, by Him, to search them out. The Apostle Peter said in 1Pe 2:9 "But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light"
Jesus said we will be successful in Mark 4:22 "For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.

To sanctify something is to set it apart for a specific purpose. Jesus prayed that we who believe in Him would be set apart. He also revealed how we would be sanctified or "set apart" in
Joh 17:17 where He said "Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth." The Bible is NOT just one book but 66 books written by 40 authors over at least 1,400 years. As a Jew, Jesus was referring to this word.

2Ti 3:16* All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17* so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
1* I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2* preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

And yes, it won't do to dodge the importance of His (that is Jesus or His real Jewish name of Yeshua which means "He saves") Jewishness as He and the Scriptures thought it very important. Jesus said to the woman at the well, "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews." —John 4:22*

Ga 4:44* but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (that would be a Jew under the Torah or the Law of Moses)
5* that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Are we to just willy nilly accept over God's words in the Bible the words of men, Pythagorian or otherwise?

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul answers that in Romans 3:4 "May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED."

At the risk of casting my pearls before those they don't belong to I will explain the parable of the "pearl of great price." The Pearl" or "great treasure" that was buried in the field is the ecclesia or elect believers in the simple gospel. Pearls were an unclean thing because they came out of an unclean environment of an oyster. It was causd by a piece of sand that created an irritation in that environment and created something beautiful. Jesus, as a Jew, was one of the "sand of the sea" children that God had promised Abraham. He was an irritation in the unclean environment of a sinful and fallen world. A pearl was grown in an organic way unlike cold stones. A man saw the great treasure buried in the field (the world) and gave all he had to buy the field. In buying the field he bought the pearl or treasure as well. Jesus was crucified and paid for the sins of the world thereby making the people of the world to be "bought with a price." Without understanding the Jewishness of the Bible and Yeshua you would not understand this. If you are not "born again" into His family, with a new set of eyes and ears, you might not accept it anyway!