Monday, December 29, 2003
HAVE THE ARGUMENTS GOTTEN BETTER?
It's been awhile since I had talked with and argued against atheists; it's been a good few months or maybe a year, although I am not counting any talks I've had with some of the kids at school. I wonder if the arguments they use will ever improve, and last Friday, I found out...nope.
I was listening to KFI Friday, and John Ziegler was filling in for the vacationing John and Ken. In the last hour, he decided to go into a rant on how the narratives of Christ birth are contradictory and all that...how they couldn't have happened...you know...same stuff, different day. One good thing about studying philosophy is that you tend to smell obviously bad arguments in a hurry, and Mr. Ziegler had a ton.
I'm not going to rehash his arguments or try to refute them; others have done a much better job at it than I can ever do. I just want to point out that he proved the point of the inerrency entry a few days back. We are driven by our ultimate authorities, even when we don't understand it. For instance, Mr. Ziegler tried to point out that there was no record of Herod killing the children. Well, fact is, there is one reference, and it's in the Bible, and it does claim to be an accurate witness. The question he should consider is why he is so willing to put the Bible on a strict test. Must everything in the Bible be confirmed independently of the Bible? Why not the other way around?
And furthermore, he has his own biases that he is being self-critical of. He says that the slaughter of the children b Herod would have made big news and should have been reported throughout the world, and the fact that it isn't is an evidence that it never happened. Well, hindsight, and an arrogant modernistic attitude, tend to blur things. We tend to impose our views on the ancient world. There is a holocaust occurring today that is far, far, far more evil that killing the children or even the attempted genocide of the Jews: every year this country kills, under the protection of its laws, over one million babies per year in the name of today's god: "personal (autonomous) freedom." It's not reported at all, and in fact, those who try to argue against it are usually labelled as extremist and religious wackos. Yet, the holocaust still occurs. In the distant futue, when attitudes finally change, will people argue that abortion did not occur because no one reported the evil acts? Or, perhaps our country is so violently wicked and apostate that the mass slaughter is simply taken for granted without a second though, much like the atrocities that occured under Herod?
This ranks up there with the 17th and 18th century people who ridiculed the Bible because it mentioned the Hittites. Heh, funny stuff.
Friday, December 19, 2003
THE JUSTIFICATION DEBATE HITS HOME
The title is really deceptive because it really has nothing to do with the debate except for one thing. My grandmother was a Roman Catholic, and today she went home to be with the Lord. She went there not knowing how to articulate justification by faith. She went there trusting in Christ. In her, I saw more faith than I see in people who are intellectually superior to her. In her, I saw the true effects of justification by faith: she trusted in Christ for everything: from continually praying when someone was ill, to thanking God when she found something trivial that she thought she lost.
She went through the Roman Catholic ceremonies because that's the culture that she grew up in, and that she lived in. She knew the church taught about the Eucharist in general terms, but she would not transubstantiation was. She would occasionally pray with a rosary, and sometimes do a prayer to Mary, but again, that's the culture she grew up in. If you don't know, Roman Catholicism is a huge part of the Hispanic culture. But she always put her trust fully in Christ.
She was justified by faith; she showed it in her works. She was not perfect, and no one can be. There was only one man on earth who was perfect, and she trusted him with all her worth. She sometimes failed, as we all do, but she would repent and get back. She was my grandmother, and she taught me about God when I was growing up.
I told Tim about this a while ago. I doubt he'll remember the conversation, but he was discussing relics and other traditions that people used during the medieval times. They still had their traditions, but their faith was in God. I always feared that my grandmother being a part of the RCC and believing some of the unique beliefs of the RCC would prevent her from getting into heaven. That was the systemization that we've fallen into into our modern life. Unfortunately, many would see my grandmother's being in the RCC as an insurmountable obstacle. She is going to hell. They wouldn't say that in many words, but that's the implication. It's sad that we have truly turned this who thing into knowledge of propositions. My grandmother didn't know the propositions; she was uneducated, a high school drop out way back in the 1940s. Yes, as she lived on, she realized one thing: Jesus loved her, and this she knew; for the Bible told her so. She trusted God, and I saw it in her works. Maybe that's why James wrote that "you are justified by works and not by faith alone." Those people in medieval times were not idolators; they just didn't know of any other way to wordhip apart from the relics and traditions. The same is true with many Catholics: some simply do not know how to worship any other way, and they are so ingrained the culture that it would be difficult to leave: but they still trust Jesus with all their heart, mind, and soul.
I'm not saying this alleviates all the RCs. Some know exactly what the RCC teaches, and they should know better; but some aren't as "educated," and may not know the fullness of the teachings so they just follow the traditions. Yet, they know one thing above all us: Jesus Christ is Lord, and he died for their sins, and they believe that, and consequently, show that in their works: they trust in him for everything, and thank him for everything, even things seemingly trivial. They don't know what forensic justification means, or what in intricately involved in a substituionary sacrifice means: they just trust God with all their mind, soul, and heart, and obey what God requires of them.
My grandmother left this earth today. She is now with Jesus.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. -Phil 1:21
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
JUST SOME POST-MODERN THOUGHTS
I was reading this interview and was particularly interested in Wright's view on inerrency of the Bible.
I tend to agree with the gist of what he said. I think that the whole inerrancy/infallibility debate came about because of the Enlightenment and postmodern attacks on the Bible. It really isn't that difficult to show. The 16, 17th, 18th centurries...they all changed the way man thought about the world, and subsequently, affected the church. It was a revolutonary way of thinking, and of course, it would affect the way people look at the Bible. No longer did science become the tool to discover the world God made, but it has now become the tool by which every line must curve to. No longer is rational thinking a tool, but instead, everything must conform to this thing called reason. Heh, that's always a good one. "Reason," as if it's self-evident what it means. Anyone who has a smattering of the history of philosophy knows that's a whopper. Ranks up there with "Clinton was the most ethical president in history."
The whole thing on inerrancy falls on what authority one chooses to follow. If some people find an archaelogoical discovery that seems to go against what the Bible says, many people pounce on it to show that the Bible is wrong. The problem is, who's to say that find is correct. Perhap it relates to something else, or something mistaken. They make the claims about science being antithetical, and disproving the Bible, but of course, that's all based on a naturalistic view of the earth that doesn't allow for supernatural evets. Hence, why the Bible's claims about the miracles must be discarded and everything; but that does not mean that they did not happen. If God does exist, then perhaps it is possible that the miracles really did happen? He is a subernatural, transcendent being, and he is not limited to his creation. In this case, then, if one disallows that anything beyond naturalism is possible, is it any wonder that one will find a "scientific contradiction" in the Bible?
Now, one thing should be said. There is a necessary inerrancy that the Bible possesses. Whatever the Bible does teach, it does so inerrantly. THis is an epistemological necessity for certainty. Consider, if the Bible erred at any point, then there would be no reason to trust other parts. Anything could be wrong. That's why I appreciate Wright's remarks when he said, "I really think that if it's in [the Bible], I need to be doing some serious business with it. If I say that I believe X but the Bible says Y which is much different, then chances are I'm making a mistake somewhere. There are many, many issues where I say I am committed to believing this text whenever I figure out what on earth it is supposed to mean, which at the moment I don't think I know." I don't see this as denying inerrancy; I rather see it as someone committed to his presuppositions and wants to explore more about them. It is an ancient text with a culture that is dramatically different than ours (for instance, "striking the hands" does not mean giving each other a high-5.) Some of the parts of the text will be difficult to understand, but that is why God gave the church her leaders: to help us to learn and understand the glory of God's word.
Just some thoughts....coherent? eh, who knows.
Monday, December 15, 2003
I was listening to a lecture by the Rev. Steve Wilkins not too long ago. He brought up an interesting point: if Saddam Hussein had the capacity to rain bombs on Washington as the U.S. did on Baghdad, would we have attacked? Or would we rather have negotiated with him, and called him a partner in peace?
Maybe that's why we're not directly engaging with North Korea. Something about making Honolulu glow in the dark, or causing the people of Seattle to go from 98 to 1,000,000 degrees in a split second...I dunno.
Friday, December 12, 2003
The quarter's finally done. Turned in two final term papers, and for the next three weeks, I'm off. Just have to worry about work. So I'll be back to blogging, maybe later tonight.