Wednesday, March 01, 2006

They Blinded Me With Philosophy

This will be short, sweet and to the point. I have read/heard about premodernity, modernity and postmodernity ad nauseum. Some in the church have become so obsessed with the philosophies of men that they've forgotten about the philosophy of God.

The Word of God is not premodern, modern or postmodern. The Word of God is timeless. And so is the Christian faith we proclaim.

14 comments:

Rob said...

Sola,

But the context of the Word and the interpretation of the Word is cultural.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Rob,

No, it isn't. There is one correct interpretation and many applications. That is standard orthodoxy. If a particular culture applauds something the Bible calls sin, it is too bad for the culture in question. The culture needs to repent regardless of what their culture says is okay.

SolaMeanie said...

Another comment..

In the Old Testament, was God overly concerned about other cultures "interpretations" of His law? As I read the text, those cultures got whacked pretty hard when their practices got out of hand.

Rattlesnake6 said...

Rob,
Would you please give me the reference that nails down your presupposition that interpretation is "cultural?"
In one sense, of course, all interpretation is cultural (stopping at stop signs)but that doesn't mean that it isn't universally valid--and that is your main problem. You have no answer to Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, and others. Their interpretations were merely "cultural."
If all interpretations are merely cultural then why do you even bother to write on here or anywhere else for that matter? It's equally conceivable that all interpretations are individually cultural which is a kind of ethical anarchy.
Rattlesnake 6

Rob said...

Hey Sola,

I can definitely see your point. You were short and to the point so I wanted to be.

Let's look at slavery. Leviticus 25 seems to make slavery okay. Paul talks about slavery as a positive. Is that true for all time or could that be

The other thing I'd say is much of the Bible is poetry and metaphor. Metaphor's are culturally relevant. It's tough for those outside a culture to understand the metaphors in the culture. Seinfeld is a great example of this. If you watch the show (part of the Seinfeld culture) you understand Yada Yada Yada. Outside that culture those 3 words don't mean anything.

I'm not saying the Bible's eternal truths are comparable to Seinfeld, but I think there's a metaphor there. Outside an Ancient Hebrew culture it's really difficult to interpret much of the Bible.

Rattlesnake, that's the slippery slope argument. It tends to be a good one. How far is too far? I think the fact that we ask that question keeps us from going to far, but it's definitely something to struggle with.

Rob

Rattlesnake6 said...

Dear Rob,
I agree, but I'm very much in favor of the "slippery slope" argument because it causes us to pause and reflect upon the logical conclusion of what you're discussing.
I would really appreciate it if you would give us here your top 5 hermeneutical principles that you use and are willing to "go to the mat" for.
Rattlesnake 6

Rob said...

Rattlesnake,

Firstly, apparently I didn't get to finish my thought about, not sure what happened. Let me finish that.

Let's look at slavery. Leviticus 25 seems to make slavery okay. Paul talks about slavery as a positive. Is that true for all time or was that only true for then? How do we reconcile that? Was God confused?

Hopefully that makes more sense.

Rattlesnake, what a lot of 'slippery slopers' have difficulty realizing is that's it's a slippery slope on the other side too. We can take things that are definitely not literal, literally. For example, when Christ says ask and you shall recieve, that doesn't mean I get anything I want. Although some, like televangelist healers, take that to mean God's going to give you a Mercedes.

I think modern Christianity has fallen far down that slippery slope.

I don't know if I have 5 but I can tell you how I would read and interpret the scriptures:

1. This is God's story and is the norming norm for all human interaction with Him. I don't want to throw anything out. (Especially the stuff that makes me uncomfortable).

2. I have to be intellectually honest and use my reason and experience to interpret what I read.

3. I want to listen to tradition, and see how those before us interpreted scripture.

4. It's got to make a difference. Biblical interpretation that doesn't make a transforming impact on our lives is a waste of time and energy. (This is my biggest knock against church today. Can you name the 3 points your pastor preached on 3 weeks ago? Can he? I know I can't).

What happens when we can't reconcile all these 4 hermeneutic principles? My liberal friends toss the norming norm dumping any passage that offends their liberal sensibilities. My conservative friends tend to throw out reason and experience. They tend to say stuff like, 'If God said it, I believe it.' I don't like either of those options. I'm searching long and hard for a 3'rd. For now, I say I don't know and move on.

I hope that makes sense.

Thanks,

Rob

Rattlesnake6 said...

It doesn't make total sense, but it's a place to start.
Ad 1: I prefer to say that it is God's special revelation to man. It is more than a story. I can do lots of "stuff" with a story. It may or may not have any authoritative claim in or on my life. I'm heard the "norming norm" thing and both it and the "story" concept are getting a little tiresome.
Ad 2: Conservative Christians have spoken of both "enlightened" reason and experience. Calvin, for example, writes rather extensively--both in the Institutes and commentaries--about the place of experience in the Christian life. Experience must be gauged and tempered by the Word of God however.
Ad 3: Great point. Listening to tradition is a worthwhile undertaking. We need to sit at the feet of the "giants."
Ad 4: Calvin speaks about "the secret watering of the Holy Spirit." The Bible DOES transform lives for salvation or for condemnation. You and I don't have to "see" the transformation. We only need to make use of the means of grace God has provided and trust him to bring all things to their appointed ends. His Word will never return to him empty.
On balance, these are rather reasonable principles, but I cannot square them with your comments about Genesis and creation.
When you wrote them you sounded like a German higher critical liberal or worse--probably worse.
Rattlesnake 6

Rob said...

Rattlesnake,

I couldn't imagine anything worse then a liberal :).

My questions surrounding Genesis is my attempt to keep my 4 non-negotiables. I have trouble believing it's literal because I can't reconcile that with my intellect I don't want to just toss it because the Bible is the 'specatacles' by which I view the world. What's left?

I've come down to it's not literal but it's true. The metaphor is just as true as if it were literal. I hope that makes sense.

I would imagine that you won't agree, but I think that's okay because we would agree on the application of the Genesis story.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Hi, Rob..

While I really don't want to get bogged down into a "creation" vs. "evolution" haggle..I do wonder at your statement about your "intellect" standing in the way of the Genesis account. I am not devoid of intellect..far from it. However, I have little difficulty believing Scripture.

I already showed you how it's not a good idea to jump the gun when so-called scientists claim they have debunked the Bible i.e. the previously unknown photosynthesis going on under the ocean floor. Aside from that demonstrable scientific example, if we believe in a sovereign, all-powerful God who dwells in eternity, not in time..and can do whatever He wants, it shouldn't pose that much difficulty to our intellect. Things might not be perceived as we think they should..or something i.e. a miracle might not happen in the normal course of events that WE HAVE EXPERIENCED, but that doesn't render them IMPOSSIBLE...if we believe in the power of a Creator God.

I remember once you asking me the question, "Is God trying to trick us?" I wouldn't say that at all in the general way such a thing is motivated i.e. evil. However, God has been known to send delusions on people as judgment...and the judgment was often sent because of unbelief.

I don't think you have to sell your intellect out the door to believe what Scripture says, even if it flies in the face of what humanity (especially scientists) say is normal.

Rob said...

Sola,

I agree an evolution vs. creation debate is unhelpful. And I can really see your point about the bigness of God. I was definitely not calling your intellect into question, or rattlesnake's. I think both you guy's are far more educated then me (just and undergrad).

I'm not going to agree that it's literal, but I would say you have some excellent arguments, and what we agree on is way more important then what we don't.

For example, that humanity was designed to live with God. Humanity choose rebellion. Humanity reaped it's choices (and still does).

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Hi Rob..

Maybe we need to search for some more clarity about what kind of "literal" vs "symbolic" or "allegorical" we are talking of. Is it the "six day" scenario or are there other things that cause you difficulty?

I would keep in mind that even degreed scientists fight increasingly over the accuracy of dating methods. Especially Carbon 14. I like to say that the Bible is not a science textbook. I also like to point out that science changes continually because of new data. The global warming fight is a good example. Those who are on the global warming bandwagon get most of the attention, but there are probably just as many degreed scientists who dispute that the earth is warming irreversably. Many think this is just a cyclical pattern.

I agree wholeheartedly about humanity and rebellion. I think it is really interesting that some of the founding fathers of modern science such as Sir Isacc Newton etc. were devout believers. It's only in fairly recent years that atheistic/agnostic science has become a religion all of its own. Evolution has serious holes in it, and many scientists have pointed it out. Those who question scientific orthodoxy, though, are forced to drink hemlock much like poor Galileo (figuratively, of course..in reality they are persona-non-grata by the establishment)

Rob said...

Sola,

Literal 6 days doesn't make much sense to me. Literal 24 hours doesn't make much sense. This entire story doesn't sound literal to me.

But the point is we were designed to live in community with God. We sinned and since God can't have sin in His presence we screwed up that relationship. Ever since then He has pursued His people so they can live in relationship with Him.

All the other stuff is up for debate. And I don't need to believe it's literal to have a relationship with God through Christ.

This is what I've been trying to say. I appreciate your position on the literalness of it. I can understand it and even say you may be right. But conservative Christians keep creating these hoops for people to jump through in order to love Christ. I know you're a protestant and I appeciate the slippery slope argument, but you're going to need to allow these questions and even welcome them.

By the way, they don't need to resolve. I have many questions I don't ever expect to get an answer to. Mostly, because if I could then God is very small and can be understood by the likes of me. That means He's not worthy of my worship or my fear.

Please don't set up hoops for people to jump through. Introduce them to the Bible, the story and Christ.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

I can understand your concern/questions, but what we run into if we're not careful is the question of authority. We want to introduce them to the Bible and Christ, but if they dismiss the Bible's authenticity or authority at the outset, we have to have an apologetic for it. I don't launch into creationism or other controversies when sharing the Gospel initially, but if someone challenges the reliability of the Bible, I can't let it fly. Nor should you.

It would be also good to consider the problem of cherrypicking on what we think is literal or not literal. The text itself reveals this in most cases. Why doesn't a six day creation or 24 hour day make sense to you? I think there have been enough holes blown in the standard evolutionary line etc. by SCIENTISTS that you ought to feel a bit easier about it. I can agree with you that we ought to be cautious about the hoops we expect people to jump through as people do mature in their faith and understanding of doctrine over time. But if you undermine the reliability and authority of our very Scriptures, you really shoot yourself in the foot in the long run. It takes no intellectual leap for me to believe in a six day creation. The one big problem science has is that no one was there to observe it. Observation and testability are key requirements in the scientific method. Believing in evolution and no Creator is every bit as much of a "leap of faith" as they accuse Christians of making. And I don't concede for a moment that I have to make a leap of faith. Faith is required, yes..but there is ample evidence for me to believe my faith is on solid ground.