Monthly Archives: March 2017

Sacrosilly!

Evangelical:

Do you realize that the Jewish scriptures were freely rewritten all the time, updated specifically for relevance, until the Torah was deemed sacrosanct in around 450 BCE? Do you realize that this practice of redaction and reimaging didn’t end until 30 BCE? Even then, the “Tanniam” weren’t happy because there were “still too many holes in this fence” of declared sacredness in the interpretations of the laws they’d given. In fact, it wasn’t “holified” enough until the third century! Scripture, to the Jews who wrote it, was not the word of God! Their only hermeneutic was that an exegesis was invalid if it painted God in a bad light, or humanity; rabbis were free to have any beliefs they wanted. They simply had to keep the law and not contradict it. The law was the “memra” of God because it embodied His clear intent. As logos, Jesus also embodied the will of God toward man; which was universal and free rescue, salvation, even from the demands of belief.

If we do not put down the book and continue to repurpose what we believe we have learned from our experience of Christ, bringing that back to bear on the book, then Christ is dead and the book a mere totem with a Zoarastrian, Babylonian, Platonic, Stoic trope about a fella nobody really noted at all, historically, in contemporary terms.

Just a thought.

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Going With The Flow …

Something you will likely never hear your pastor say, but something in the minds of many seminary graduates:

“I don’t know if there is a god; I don’t think we know much at all about Jesus; I’m pretty sure there is no Hell.”

This, a paraphrase from a once young graduate I watched grow up in the church who, before seminary, knew quite a lot about all of these “realities”.

I’m not sure whether he became a pastor or not because congregations are market forces which demand everyone in their Christian enterprise know quite a lot about these “realities”.

In other words, what one should know and what there is to know don’t matter much, mainly because congregations are never ready to grow up, to graduate; they, the laity, of all things, tell folks what they should know. Often, pastor’s go with the flow because no one can swim up Niagara Falls.

Just a thought.

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Quin Beneficium

No one escapes salvation because it is a universal, transformational experience of participation in the good.

Anyone who says Atheists have no sense of good is a blind person, or a person who cannot recognize goodness when they see it, which is the same thing.

If God is goodness and God is omnipotent, what ought the Christian think about all of humanity without​ compromising the meaning of those ideas? The remarkable thing some actually do in all ready willingness is demand that the whole of humanity is completely depraved. Well fuck you! Take a look around! We can more easily say the opposite is true! What’s more, since we can genuinely debate this at all, the ethical obligation is to benefit humanity the doubt because that is good. Yet, those who do not, again cannot recognize goodness in order believe at all times what is best to believe when in doubt!

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Belief And Choice

This bears repeating every now and again:

Honestly, the idea that we can choose what to believe is the most damning thing of all to Protestant theologies that embrace Sola Fide.

Unless we’re mentally ill or debilitated in some way, we only believe what we think the case actually is.

This is so easy to prove in real life, much less than dialectically! “I believe x is true and false” is incoherent and when a distinction is supplied so that it becomes coherent, it will denote two propositions, each with distinct dispositions; one as true, the other as false. In real life, rather than an exercise of linguistics, simply try your damndest to force yourself to think something you believe is actually false, or believe that something you think is false is actually true instead. It is true that what we think about something can utterly change, but this is always because that’s what we think the case actually is at that moment in time.

There is only one class of exception. That is any time we don’t know the truth or falsehood of some state of affairs. In such cases, we can choose. But here, we own what we’re doing and can’t demand everyone make the same choice. One example is benefit of the doubt, another would be the principle of charity, and so on. But notice, in these cases, knowing we act on beliefs, there are ethical concerns about being neutral, and we are bound in ethical principle to choose to act in a way (which is identical to “believe in a way”) that puts another person under the best light and us in relation to them.

For all other instances of choice in belief, it turns out these are entirely trivial. It literally doesn’t make a difference​ what you believe because it doesn’t effect the outcomes of acting one way or the other; and ethically anyway, one should remain neutral in this case since there’s no compelling reason evidentially, rationally, or ethically​ to not withhold judgement. Or is there?

So, if epistemic belief is efficacious for salvation, then Evangelicalism is dead because it’s out of anyone’s control and it’s just a matter of fact that God is not an idea that dawns on everyone as being true, or, there’s some ethical reason one must choose to believe. The kick in the head in that case though is that the Evangelist cannot make any arguments for God because he admits by saying there’s a choice at all, he knows there’s no legitimate fact of the matter to make anyone believe or doubt. Because this is tied to Penal Substitution theory, it is a moral concern after all. Since its view of the nature of man doesn’t benefit the doubt that man’s nature is possibly just fine or at least not totally depraved, and that man’s nature can genuinely be doubted in either sense, one must ethically choose to deny the idea that Penal Substitution is true and that epistemic belief is efficacious for salvation.

Just a thought.

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Tongue Lashing

Christian language:

It is by grace through faith — both gifts from God, not choices or efforts of men, so no man can boast — that a person is saved, and Christ atones through his life and work through the cross; the fully human, fully divine savior of the world through whom God has begun to draw all the world to himself.

Secular Humanistic language:

Everyone has a natural sense of goodness and a draw to act towards that end. In acting toward the good, we experience the transforming nature of participation in our humanity. From that, we have a clearer idea of what being human is all about and a better understanding of what is good and what is important. Through all of this, humanity will lift itself further in distinction from other animals, living fully realized and meaningful lives. There are people who exemplify our ideal selves and are models that when embraced, lead us into that place of “the way to be in the world” as we should have been all along, from the beginning.

Now, if you’re one or the other and can’t do translation real-time, I suggest you don’t bring up your own private language at all; you have no intent, or ever did, in understanding or caring about the person you were about to otherwise assail with literally meaningless words.

Just a thought.

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Brutes!

That we must deliberate and find some means to reason that God exists at all necessarily means there is no fact of God. Any fact we’d appeal to in order to demonstrate inferences about God are sound only ends in the idea that those facts themselves are merely brute facts and God, ineffectual in trying to underlay them with an explanation. That is, since God Himself in that case would be the ultimate, ineffable brute fact yet one literally without any implications to reality at all other than being that stub to all those otherwise brute facts that are before God, said to lead us to God, yet are inarguable in any case.

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Interview At “The Place”

Live at 5 PM CST, tonight.

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More Words …

It should interest the American Christian that the Bible wasn’t written in English. That way when he discovers that when he says “By grace through faith” it may not mean what he thought it did, he explores what “charis” and “pistis” meant to the fella that this phrase comes from. It turns out that salvation then is God’s “persuation” toward us and our “persuation” towards God.

The more complicated issues of context and meaning are inherent in literature, especially ancient literature. We can’t presume it sufficient to just read scripture and think our takeaway is anything like what the author was trying to convey. And the truth is, we are not the audience of any author of any writing of any scripture. To understand scripture then, we must do the work of becoming the audience of the authors of each book, each letter in the Bible.

If we’re saved by grace through faith, then it doesn’t exist anywhere in beliefs but in the tension of an infinite God and finite man both drawn to each other where the plot, life, is what happens as a result of it.

Just a thought.

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Signified

Supposing two things at the same time (that all your religious experiences and ideas were intense, very meaningful yet there was no God), how could the existence of God be accounted for by the existence of intense and very meaningful religious experiences and ideas?

Surely we can only say that there are intense and very meaningful religious experiences and ideas. That there is or isn’t a God cannot be known to change anything. Certainly too, just because we believe or doubt there are deity, that belief doesn’t effect the existence of deity; just what we attribute these things to.

Just a thought.

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Getting With The Program

Salvation requires your participation. You cannot “get there” or “get it” as if it is a destination or an object to possess. So, the various transaction based theories of soteriology are undone in saying of primary importance, “There’s nothing you can do to earn salvation”. That’s of course because choices are “things we do” and commitments to act, but more importantly, that this belief about salvation is true, but only in the sense that salvation is not objectifiable or, that attaining or possessing salvation is literally out of our hands entirely. The latter completely removes any need for evangelism and any real need for personal accountability because God literally does not have any meaningful qualifications by which he chooses whom he will save. With that idea too, is the utter bastardization of Jesus and any reason he lived and died as he did. If it is true, this false dichotomy of faith versus works, then nothing is true about Christianity because all meaning of it has been lost.

But we know this unthoughtful balderdash isn’t so! We know it from Philosophy, we know it from Psychology, we know it from Linguistics in Dialectics and in speech acts: Belief is an attitude of how one is disposed, or relating to, some idea about a state of affairs. We cannot choose what that disposition will be. Unless one isn’t genuinely after what the case is, or is psychologically impaired, or is making an ethical choice such as “benefit of the doubt” or applying the “principle of charity”, we will always believe what appears to be the case to us. And if one needs to justify this obvious fact of circumstance using scripture for proof-text, quite​ a bit of time could be spent on the Greek term “pistis” (πίστης). One would find that when it concerns faith, it is “to be pursuaded” or “to be drawn toward”. As it is translated as belief, of the more than 250 times pistis and its conjugates appear in the New Testament, it is “to act” in nearly every instance, and when we would otherwise be confused with two opposing sayings like “all things are permissable” and “everything not of faith is sin”, we have a lot of clarity!

Belief is classically then, to act on faith. In plain English, the willingness to act committedly toward the object of belief. It turns out that this presentation agrees exactly with what Analytic Philosophers and Psychologists define belief by: a commitment to act. The only thing missing from the puzzle is what the object of Christian belief is. It turns out not to be Christ himself! It is through Christ that object of belief is revealed, according to scripture. That object revealed is God, or at least in as much as we can say the ineffable can be known or “acted toward in a committed way”, the intent God has toward us. That intent, “Logos”, “Memra”, embodied by Jesus is love and human well-being, which is to say, goodness. It happens that grace has meant our perception of goodness in the world. It is grace, goodness in the world that indeed saves.

The entire Gospel of Jesus is that the Kingdom Of God has come and that we’re all participants in it when we are committed to the goodness of life, just as Jesus has shown, just as God intended for us from the beginning, just as the sacrifice of Christ solidifies a divine commitment in unconditional surrender to abundant life too, which includes everyone whether they ask for it or not. This is the only truth to the Protestant idea that nothing you can do can earn your salvation. But that’s because it’s everyone’s gift, and one we all enjoy participating in, even to say without it, there’s likely no one who would find life meaningful at all.

We have to begin to realize that not everyone wants to talk about God just as not everyone finds mathematics or origami even remotely interesting.

Realizing this, and realizing that “salvation is by grace through faith for those who believe” is jargon for “your life will forever change when you do what your heart is compelling you to do, and each time you do, you are somebody else’s savior”, you can connect with others through the life of Christ without the baggage of religion, finding there’s a huge difference between someone who doesn’t know Christian creeds and theology or outright rejects them, and someone who also at the same time is exactly Christ risen themselves; a participant of the Kingdom because she showed up with her sleeves rolled up.

Just a thought.

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