Solo Scriptura and the unique inspiration of the Protestant Canon

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser wrote a series of posts defending the Bible against an anti-theist advocating its burning.

 

Here is what he wrote about challenges formulated by nice atheistic philosopher Jason Thibodeau:

“Perhaps most revealing are Jason Thibodeau‘s comments for they reveal a person who seems to be fundamentally confused on the parameters of the discussion. Jason quotes me:

“that is a good illustration of Jason’s overall objection to the Bible. He starts out with bold, magisterial claims about what any author or editor would or would not do as alleged grounds to reject the Bible. “

And then he retorts:

“And what does Randal’s argument for the magisterial claim that the Bible is sacred literature consist of? I have no idea, he has never provided one.”

The problem here is that I never set out to provide an evidential argument that the Bible is in some sense revelation (or as Thibodeau puts it, “sacred literature”). Rather, from the beginning I have simply been rebutting putative defeaters to the Bible’s being in some sense revelation. Jason’s apparent complaint that I have failed to meet a demand I never set out to meet in the first place appears to be either a desperate attempt to redraw the parameters of the debate based on his failed arguments or a more basic confusion about what was being debated in the first place.

Jason’s confusion deepens in an additional comment. He starts off quoting me:

“At this point the weight of Jason’s rebuttal consists of his observation that he finds it difficult to believe Jones would do this. That’s it. But that’s not a serious rebuttal. It is simply a statement of personal incredulity.”

And then he wryly comments “Pot, meet kettle” and quotes my own statement of “personal incredulity”:

“This claim about the moral obligation of the author or editor strikes me as completely ridiculous.”

Yes, Jason thinks he’s being clever here. But in fact he is simply placing his own confusion into broader relief. You see, as I have noted our entire discussion is predicated on Jason’s alleged ability to provide defeaters that should rationally persuade Christians that the Bible cannot be in some sense revelation. That’s what he aims to do with J-MAP. Thus the Christian believes p and Jason is aiming to show that the Christian ought not believe p. The way one does this is by presenting a logically valid argument with plausible premises. Thus, the fact that Jason’s premises rest on nothing more than his own personal incredulity is devastating for the success of his argument. For Jason to reply “Pot, meet kettle” suggests that he doesn’t even understand he has shouldered a burden of proof with J-MAP and has utterly failed to meet that burden of proof.”

 

And here is my response.

 

Hello Randal.

I think you make some good points, such as asking what Jason means by “sacred scripture”.

However I was truly put off by your dismissive and haughty tone.

Jason is not being absurd or confused at all and most people who don’t share your Evangelical convictions are much more inclined towards his side rather yours.
He is a very kind, respectful and humble person and clearly deserves our own respect in return.
You generally produce writings of excellent quality so that it is a true pity you resorted to such a language.

I personally find it problematic to believe that God was directly responsible  for the Protestant Canon as His unique revelation while desiring the presence of erroneous terror texts whose most likely and straightforward interpretation is that He directly commanded atrocities.

I take a view similar to that of Thom Stark and believe that God did not  cause  the formation of the current Canon but rather appropriates it in the same way He appropriates writings of C.S. Lewis despite his mistakes and those of Martin Luther in spite of his egregious statements about the Jews.

I know that this must seem utterly repugnant for every kind of Evangelical. But since the Protestant Canon cannot set his unique authority by itself, an Evangelical could only appeal to the tradition of the Church. And he cannot take this way since Apocryphal books, infant baptism and the adoration of saints were widely (if not universally) accepted during a great part of the Church’s history.

To my mind and that of many non-Evangelical progressive Christians, viewing the Bible in the manner I described above is the only way to be honest to the text and honest to the Almighty Himself.

Cheers.

bible

 

 

Faith, Richard Dawkins and Peter Boghossian

Nowadays faith is under attack and the word has become (in some Western circles) one of the most offensive insult somebody could utter.

There is no consensus about this question because the word is ambiguous and understood differently by many people.

Christian Rationalism

Christian rationalists such as W. H. Griffith-Thomas (1861-1924), a noted Anglican theologian, defined it in the following way:

“[Faith] affects the whole of man’s nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.”

In a similar manner, C.S. Lewis wrote

Faith is holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.

The New Atheism and scientism

On the other side of the worldview spectrum, Richard Dawkins (the Pope of militant atheism) defends the opposite position.

The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.

I want to examine that dangerous thing that’s common to Judaism and Christianity as well: the process of non-thinking called “faith”.

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

Fanatic antitheistic philosopher Peter Boghossian share the same feelings.

[Faith is] pretending to know things you don’t know.

Faith is not a virtue; faith is an epistemology. Once we understand how faith is an epistemology, everything changes. Because then you’re talking about knowledge, then you’re talking about how people know something. People who make faith claims are making knowledge claims; they’re trusting, for example, in Jesus. “I trust that after I die, I’m going to heaven and be with all of my relatives and Jesus.” Once somebody makes that claim, that’s a knowledge claim. So when you understand that, you can target their epistemology and help them see that that’s just a delusion.

Ultra-Darwinian biologist Jerry Coyne asserted:

I still feel that faith—belief in the unevidenced—is a disease that requires a societal cure, for it’s always better to have good reasons for what one believes.

Reformed epistemology and foundationalism

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser is currently writing a review of Boghossian’s offensive book on his blog.

He summed up the presuppositionalist approach of folks such as Alvin Plantinga:

There is nothing per se wrong about believing without evidence. Any foundationalist will tell you that. (And many if not most epistemologists today adopt a foundationalist theory of noetic structure. Problems only arise when you believe a putative basic belief despite a strong defeater for that belief, or when you believe a non-basic belief without evidence. For more you can see my debate with Chris Hallquist.)

The necessity of basic beliefs

The main argument for foundationalism can be summed up as follows:

1. We are justified in our belief that we really know many things about the reality we see around us.

2. To avoid circularity and infinite regress (see the Muenchhausen’s trilemna) there must be basic beliefs in need of no further justification.

3. It follows from 1 and 2 that there are such basic beliefs.

Now it is extremely controversial (to say the least) that belief in God (let alone in a particular religion) can be considered as properly basic.

But the existence of basic beliefs seems to be extremely sound.

280px-Braininvat

Let us consider the possibility that you are a brain in a vat in a simulation being carried out by an unknown scientist.

Now it is true that there might be facts showing this to be the case.

The Joy of Tech comic

But try for a few minutes to show this is extremely unlikely.

I bet you cannot do this without begging the question and already assuming things about the real world.

You cannot say, for example, that the blog you are reading is so brilliant and amazing that it must surely stem from a real human genius.

For any beinglargely outshining the intellectual abilities of our species could program the content of this blog in the software running your brain.

(Don’t worry too much about the mental health of the real author of this blog, for he only holds such beliefs about himself after having spent the whole evening sniffing coke and drinking white wine).

The problem with knowledge

It is true that even if we cannot justify our belief we are not a brain in a vat, we almost always feel confident this is not the case.

I am not a foundationalist because I do not buy that a belief without any grounding can be called “knowledge” (in the objective, absolute sense).

So I would turn the above reasoning on its head.

1. To avoid circularity and infinite regress (see the Muenchhausen’s trilemna) there must be basic beliefs in need of no further justification.

2. There are no such basic beliefs

3. Thus there is exist no objective and absolute knowledge

According, to my pragmatic epistemology, we are justified on pragmatic grounds to adopt basic beliefs without which we cannot make sense of the world and our life.

Faith as hope in the face of insufficient evidence

This leads me finally to explain how I view faith.

Faith is the hope in some extremely desirable things even if the evidence is not sufficient for concluding.

Given such a definition, faith does not necessarily have to be irrational and I would say that every human being walks by faith.

It also seems to perfectly fit how most Christians (at least in Europe view their faith). While there are interesting arguments for the existence of an immaterial world, of God and of His incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth, there are also counter arguments, and neither camp seems to dispose of compelling reasons.

Finally I want to conclude with the definition of faith one can find in the book of Hebrews, the one that Peter Boghossian heavily criticized for its alleged irrationality.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

I am not a proponent of Biblical inerrancy and view the author of Hebrews as a great Christian writer inspired in the same way as C.S. Lewis (who was arguably the greatest Christian apologist of the past century) was.

So I am quite open for the possibility that both of these authors made mistakes.

That said, I am far from being certain that the author of Hebrew really meant that faith creates evidence out of nothing.

He could have meant that faith is a subjective trust in a hope which is based on evidence (such as miracles, and the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God) and an invitation to go beyond the rational arguments which are not enough to conclude.

If so, there is no reason to think that such a faith is irrational.

As argued above, almost all humans feel confident that they are not a brain in a vat even if it cannot be justified without begging the question.

The dark side of destiny

I recently listen to an interesting conversation between Chris Date (from RethinkingHell) and Greg Crofford about a new book of Greg entitled: The Dark Side of Destiny: Hell Re-Examined.

Chris Date is a Conservative Evangelical (and a Calvinist!) holding to the teaching of conditional immortality and hell meaning utter destruction.

He is a very brilliant, bright and insightful man and he represents the most defensible and respectable form of reformed theology I am aware of. His blog  http://www.theopologetics.com/ is worth checking out.

Greg pointed out that the doctrine of eternal torment gives us a very dark picture of God which emotionally hinders many people to seek a deeper communion with Him.

He laid out a pretty interesting argument against endless torture:

1) If God eternally tormented many of His creatures He would be a sadist
2) Jesus is the human face of God
3) Jesus was not a sadist
4) Therefore God won’t torment beings forever

He explained why the authors of the New Testament (if interpreted in their historical context) most likely saw immortality as God’s gift the wicked ones will not inherit.

I started out disagreeing with him as he began criticizing universalism, which he seems to equate with inclusivism, the view that non-Christians will be given a chance to respond to the Gospel after their deaths.
Both notions are, however, far from being identical.

I am an inclusivist but not an universalist because I consider it very likely that at least some people will reject God beyond the grave.

Conservative Evangelicals typically defend Exclusivism (only those dying as Christians will inherit eternal life) using the following reasoning:

1) The Bible is the full and unique revelation of God (which is the central pillar of Evangelicalism)
2) There is no Biblical evidence that people will have a chance to choose God after having passed away
3) Therefore only Christians will get to heaven

Yet as Randal Rauser pointed out, this is an extraordinarily offensive assertion.

“They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, ‘Boil there, you offspring of the devil!’”

Now against this backdrop turn to the encounter between a cacique (or tribal leader) and his Franciscan captors. In this encounter Hatuey, the cacique, has been told he will be executed (for no greater crime, it would seem, than not being Spanish), but that he can still save his soul before his body is slain:

“When tied to the stake, the cacique Hatuey was told by a Franciscan friar who was present, an artless rascal, something about the God of the Christians and of the articles of Faith. And he was told what he could do in the brief time that remained to him, in order to be saved and go to heaven. The cacique, who had never heard any of this before, and was told he would go to Inferno where, if he did not adopt the Christian Faith, he would suffer eternal torment, asked the Franciscan friar if Christians all went to Heaven. When told that they did he said he would prefer to go to Hell.”

It is extremely blasphemous to state that Hatuey won’t have any chance to reach heaven.

So I think that the above reasoning can be turned on its head:

1) As perfectly loving God must give a post-mortem chance to many of those who have died without Christ
2) There is no Biblical evidence that people will have a chance to choose God after having passed away
3) Therefore the Bible cannot be the full and unique revelation of God
4) Therefore Evangelicalism is wrong

(Of course many people would contest 2), thereby invalidating the conclusion).

Finally Greg pointed out that the parable of the foolish and wise virgins has to be taken at face value, thereby showing that people not having chosen Christ during this life won’t be given a second chance.

A huge problem is that as a conservative Protestant, there are quite a few things in the Bible that Greg cannot interpret literally.

The parable of the sheep and the goats illustrates that very well.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Taking this parable at face value would lead one to believe that works play an important role in salvation, a doctrine Evangelicals passionately detest.

More importantly perhaps, this parable teaches that people having never heard of Christ were serving Him while doing good deeds and will usher into His holy presence.

That aspect aside,Greg Crofford seems to be a good and sensible practical theologian and I advise my readers to take a look at his works.

The tentative apologist and the friendly atheist discuss about heaven

Randal Rauser (the tentative apologist) is arguably the best apologist within the Evangelical camp.

During one episode of the British show Unbelievable he debated about the existence of heaven with (the friendly atheist) concerning a book Randal recently published that Randal wrote for dispelling wrong conceptions many Christians have about heaven.

hemant_mehta

At the beginning of the conversation, Randal mentioned the fact that many Evangelicals neglect the protection of the environment because they expect God to put pretty soon an end to this evil creation, delivering them from it.

I can remember very vividly a Conservative Evangelical telling me that he did not worry about global warming because God allegedly promised there would  no longer be any worldwide catastrophe after the Genesis flood.

This is a logical consequence of the doctrine that God cursed the whole creation and humans with a sinful nature we have to escape from, a gnostic doctrine which was introduced into the Church largely by Augustine.

Randal challenges Mehta’s assumption that the fact that heaven fulfill our wishes is an indication of its falsity. Ever since the days of Feuerbach, many atheists (not least Dawkins) have kept making the same claim.
But it is obviously wrong, the fact that a vanilla ice satisfy most desires of my gut does not mean there is no such thing.

Randal went on pointing out that evidence for heaven are going to heavily depend on our background beliefs. If we think that God exists, we have strong grounds for thinking there is an afterlife, especially if he raised Jesus from the dead.

Mehta rightly emphasized the problem of eternal conscious suffering and the atrocious injustice it would be if all people dying as non-Christians would end up in such a state.

Randal replied he is an inclusivist believing that a Jewish girl dying in a Nazi camp after having rejected Christ would most likely be in heaven.

It is worth noting, at this point, that most Conservative Evangelicals hold to the view that everyone deceasing without faith in Jesus earns an everlasting stay in God’s torture chamber, thereby believing that most victims of genocides will be tormented days and nights after having perished under an atrocious pain.

This seems to be a logical consequence of their belief that the Bible is the full revelation of God  from which the reality of post-mortem conversations cannot be easily deduced.

I think it would have been great if Randal had pointed out that the Bible points towards immortality being a gift of God, those not receiving it being going to eventually cease to exist instead of being endlessly tormented.

While being an incluvist myself, I do not, however, feel the need to be a hopeful universalist wishing the salvation of everyone.

If Hitler, Mussolini, Staline or Fred Phelps (the God hates fags pastor) will repent, that’s fine. But I would not feel too depressed if they won’t and will be utterly destroyed, blotted out from existence.

Justin Briley (the moderator) asked Mehta if he would wish to be in heaven if there were one. He answered this was a “silly question”.

Randal replied this was pretty condescending and that which beliefs we see as being dumb will hinge on our own plausibility structure.

Mehta responded by quoting the widespread atheistic meme “the absence of evidence is evidence of absence” illustrating the principle by using the Skeptic’s favorite pet, the unicorn.

https://i1.wp.com/static.giantbomb.com/uploads/original/1/17172/1419618-unicorn2.jpg

A huge problem is that atheists have actually strong grounds for believing in the existence of such beings.

The reason is that atheists are better off believing in an infinite multiverse for avoiding the troubling problem if the extreme fine tuning of the physical constants allowing our very existence.

But in an infinite multiverse, every possible event (including the arrival of intelligent unicorns with very strange features) is necessarily going to happen somewhere.

We believe there is no unicorn species living on the surface of the earth because we would clearly expect evidence to be there if it were the case.

Therefore unlike an agnostic, an atheist has a burden of proof and must provide us with arguments against the existence of God and of the afterlife.

Once this mistake (and other similar ones) are debunked, the case for atheism appears to be much weaker than village atheists usually take for granted.

Rauser pointed out that another crucial difference between the afterlife and unicorns consists of the existence of many peer-reviewed publications arguing for the authenticity of some Near Death Experiences.

This is a fair point but I doubt that NDEs are really evidence of a life after death while being open to a small number of them being due to paranormal phenomena.

Mehta said that if everyone in heaven would have to submit themselves to God and Christ, this is a pretty bad new for all non-Christians.

I think that there is a fallacy going on here, which is interestingly enough also committed by Conservative Evangelicals such as William Lane Craig: the fact that someone dies as a non-believer does not mean he doesn’t wish Christianity to be true, as the case of French philosopher Andre Comte Sponville arguing for atheism nicely illustrates.

“Given that — and this is the key point — God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience” Pope Francis wrote.

https://i0.wp.com/patdollard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/pope-francis-wont-judge-gay-people.jpg

“Sin, even for those who have no faith, is when one goes against their conscience” he added.

Finally, Justin mentioned the anguish of his seven years old son after having heard that the universe would end up becoming inhospitable for life. Justin answered this is what is going to happen according to science but that God would step in to keep this from occurring. He then asked Metha what hope he would give to his own child in such a situation.

He did not answer this question and just said that he would encourage his kid to think by himself on this issue, while recognizing it wasn’t morally wrong for Justin to have transmitted such a hopeful vision of the future to his boy.

This is how I view faith: hoping in the truth of something extremely desirable if the evidence is not sufficient.
Given such a definition, faith does not have to be irrational since it does not pretend to be a form of knowledge.

Actually I don’t know how anyone manages to love the pleasures of his life while being fully aware that everything he is now will usher into nothingness.

If atheism is true, a Buddhist-like resignation and detachment seems to be a much more coherent and viable choice than Western hedonism.

To conclude, I want to strongly advise everyone to buy some of Randal’s books for he is truly a far better apologist than William Lane Craig in numerous respects.

Next episode on hell: the dark side of destiny.

Eric Seibert iwer biblische Atrozitäte

English version

Lorraine Franconian / Lothringisch

De progressive Evangelikale Theolog Randal Rauser hat de Bibelwessenschaftler Eric Seibert iwer de Thema der Gewalt in de Bibel interviewed.

Eric Seibert

Er hat gonz gut gezeigt, dass de gewähnliche Strategie von konservativen Evagelikalen (wie de Paul Copan oder de William Lane Craig) total doron scheitern, ze beweise, dass de Gott, de sie onbete, keen moralische Monschter isch (oder nit unner een zersplitterte Gehirn leidet).

Dennoch hon ich nit siene pacifistische Iwerzeugunge. Ich glawe on de Theorie des gerechten Kriegs on in de gerechte Strofe von iwlen Taten.

So es isch nit de Präsenz von Gewalt in de Bibel, de mich schockiert sondern Atrozitäte, die gegen Unschuldige begange worde sin, wie Kanaanitische Babies oder Säuglinge, oder een Gesetz, de beso hat, dass eeni vergewaltigti Frau, die nit gewagt hat, ze schrie, als Ehebrecherin besteenigt were soll.

Ich denke echt, dass es vellig unmächlich isch, solche Arte von Gesetzte als gottgewollt ze verteidige.

Nun wirft es viele Froje uf iwer de Inspiration der Schriften. Wenn mir wesse, dass es gonz klar Teele gibt, de  gegen Gottes Wille sin, wie kinn ma oneri Teele vertraue?

Ich glawe, dass en Paradigmenwechsel notwendig isch.

Evangelikale sollte ufhere, de Bibel als immer inspirierter als oneri christliche un jüdische Bicher onzesin, wie ich friher schon amol erklärt hon.

Solch een Verännerung impliziert nit unusweichlich, de theologische Liberalismus un Antisupernaturalismus ze akzeptiere.

Wie ich geschriew hon:

Um ein konkretes Beispiel zu nehmen, lese ich die Bücher von Paulus auf dieselbe Weise, wie ich die von C.S. Lewis lese: ich glaube dass beide vorbildhafte Christen, große Verteidiger des Glaubens und außergewöhnliche Männer waren, und die Existenz von logischen, empirischen und theologischen Fehlern in ihren Schriften verhindert mich keineswegs daran, all die richtigen Sachen wertzuschätzen, die sie herausgefunden haben.

Aber wenn wir nicht glauben, dass die sich im biblischen Kanon befindenden Bücher inspirierter als andere Bücher sind, wie können wir den Unterschied zwischen richtigen und falschen Aussagen über Gott machen?

Während ich nicht für alle progressive Christen sprechen kann, glaube ich, dass wir unsere Theologie auf der Tatsache basieren müssen, dass Gott perfekt sein muss, um überhaupt Gott zu sein.
Sogar wenn Menschen fehlbare Geschöpfe sind, sind sie völlig im Stande, die Vollkommenheit zu erkennen und herauszufinden, was moralisch richtig und falsch ist, wie Paulus es in den ersten Kapiteln des Briefs zu den Römern erklärt hat.

Sogar wenn de Bicher von C.S. Lewis nit ohne Fehler sin, sin de meeschte Christe eenverston, dass er een außerordentliche Mann Gottes gewese isch, viele echte geeschtliche Erfahrunge gehon hat un profunde Einsichte in Gottes Natur erreicht hat.

Awer Gott hat nit direkt durch ihn gesproche, er hat siene eigene kulturbedingte Konzepte verwendet, um iwer de Allmächtige ze schriewe, un zwangsläufig hat er sich aach monchmol geirrt.

Ich sehe de Apostel Paulus un oneri biblischi Schriewer on uf de selbe Weise: wie moderne christliche Autore hon sie echte Erfahrunge mit Gott gehabt un sich Gedanke iwer Ihn gemacht, die sie niedergeschriew hon.

Natürlich eliminiert eeni solchi Herangehensweise nit alle Schwierigkäite.

Denn warum hon Mensche, die behauptet hon, gläubig ze sin, Atrozitäte begange, die sie theologisch begrünet hon?

Konservative Protestante (aach ehemalige) konzentriere sich uf de Problem von de Atrozitäte in de Alte Testament, awer es isch nur een Teel von een generellere Schwierigkäit, nämlich de Problem von de göttliche Verborgenheit.

Christliche Conquistadoren, die de Massaker von de Indianern als Gottes Wille interpretiert hon oder isolierte Stämme, die routinemässig ihre Kinner ihre Gotte geopfert hon, sin aach gonz problematisch.

Denn in all diese Situatione hat Gott erlauwt, dass zahllose Mensche schädliche un möderische Glawe iwer Ihn gehon hon.

Während ich nit een solch breite Problem mit wenige Zeile löse kinn, glawe ich, dass Gott fähig isch, de Leid von de Opfer von religiöse Gewalt erlöse kinn, die sich fir een ewigliche Glick mit Ihm entschiede hon.

Ich wess wohl, dass es de Problem nit löst, awer ich glawe, dass es es viel lindert.

 

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

 

Eric Seibert on Biblical atrocities

Lothringische Version: Eric Seibert iwer Biblische atrozitäte.

Unjust violence and misogyny in the  old testament

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser interviewed Biblical Scholar Eric Seibert on the topic of violence in the Bible.

Eric Seibert

He did an excellent job showing why the usual strategies of Conservative Evangelicals such as Paul Copan and William Lane Craig completely fail to show that the god they worship is not a moral monster (or does not suffer under a split-brain disorder).

I don’t, however, share his pacifist convictions. I believe in Just War Theory and in the righteous retribution of wicked deeds.
So it is not the presence of violence within the Bible which shocks me but atrocities committed against innocents, such as Canaanite babies or toddlers, or a law stipulating that a raped woman having not dared scream should be stoned as a adulteress.

I think there is just no way one can defend such kinds of laws as stemming from God.

Now this raises lots of question concerning the inspiration of Scripture. If we know there are clearly parts of it which contradict God’s will, how can we trust the others?

I think that a paradigm shift is clearly necessary.

Evangelicals should stop seeing the Bible as being necessarily more inspired than other Christian and Jewish books, as I explained in a prior post a long time ago.

Such a change does not, however, inevitably implies embracing theological liberalism and anti-supernaturalism.

To take a concrete example, I read the books of the apostle Paul in the same way  I read books from C.S. Lewis: I believe that both were examplary Christians, great defenders of the faith and extraordinary men, and the presence of logical, empirical and theological errors in their writings does not prevent me at all to appreciate all the right things they figured out.

But if we don’t believe that the books within the Biblical Canon are more inspired than books outside it, how can we make the difference between right and wrong beliefs about God?

While I cannot speak for all progressive Christians, I believe that we should base our theology on the fact that God has to be perfect in order for Him to be God. Even tough human beings are faillible creatures they are quite able to recognize perfection and to find out what is morally right and wrong as Saint Paul explains in the first chapters of the letter to the Romans.

Even if the books of C.S. Lewis are not inerrant, most Christians agree he was an extraordinary man of God, had many genuine spiritual experiences and reached profound insights in God’s nature.

But God did not directly speak through him, he used his own culturally-conditioned concepts to write about the Almighty, which involves he also got God wrong at times.

I view the Apostle Paul and other Biblical writers in exactly the same way: like modern Christian writers, they had genuine experiences with and thoughts about God they wrote down.

Of course such an approach does not eliminate all difficulties.

For why did people pretending to be believers commit atrocities they justified theologically? Conservative Protestants (and former ones) focus on the problem of atrocities in the Old Testament, but this is only one part of a more general difficulty: the problem of divine hideness.

Christian conquistadors viewing the slaughter of native Indians as the divine Will or isolated tribes routinely sacrificing their children to their deities are troubling as well.
For in all these situations, God allowed countless humans to have noxious and murderous false beliefs about Him.

While I cannot address such a huge problem with a few lines, I believe that God is able to redeem the suffering of all the victims of religious violence who just have to choose Him for an everlasting bliss.

Whilst this does not solve the problem, I find that this largely mitigates it.

Accelerated fundamentalist education

 

The harmfulness of ACE

Jonny Scaramanga, a former British Christian fundamentalist, called my attention to the abusive nature of a particular form of conservative Protestant education called “Accelerated Christian Education” or ACE in short.

Jonny’s blog should really be viewed as an example of how Christians and atheists ought to interact with each other.
Despite all the traumatic experiences he went through, he remains extremely respectful and kind, and I highly advise Christians to visit his blog and Youtube channel in order for them to realize the real ordeal a fundamentalist upbringing can be.

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ACE aims at furnishing an individual Biblical education adapted to the abilities of every child. In comparison to high schools which are supposed to produce illiterate teenagers, ACE presumably leads kids to develop a Christ-like personality.
Of course, most Christians should view this promise as deceitful since it is obvious that children have always the choice to decide themselves against the Good and lead a selfish lifestyle.
I strongly doubt that statistically speaking, there is a real difference between children raised in a good Christian home and children raised by loving godless parents having a commitment for humanitarian causes.

In another video, it is pointed out that God has created every kid with his or her unique features and has a wonderful plan for him. Consequently his academic needs to be “diagnosed”.

Even if it is off-topic, I cannot help but remark there is a huge irony here. Proponents of ACE emphasized the value and worth of the human individual but fail to tell us that, according to their theology, a huge number of the wonderful babies they show us are going to end up in hell where they will be tormented forever.

Jonny criticizes both the secular (methodological) and religious aspect of ACE.

He pointed out that the ACE of fundamentalists is based on the radical behaviorism of B.F. Skinner, which I find extremely ironic since Skinner was a hardcore materialist denying mental causation.
Jonny rightly exposes the unethical aspect of raising children with rewards and punishments as if they were animals to be tamed.

He also correctly notes that ACE (and fundamentalist homeschooling in general) really hinders children from developing a social life, leaving them with a big handicap as they will enter the professional world.

As for the religious aspect, he showed how ACE teaches creationism and presents many non-senses (springing out of a literal reading of the Bible) as established facts. He also explained that ACE teaches people what to think and to learn (most often fictional) facts instead of showing them how to think by themselves and critically analyze data and ideas.
He went on and pointed out the obvious truth that such a “knowledge” is of no use whatsoever since people will have forgotten all these things as adults.
Jonny summarizes very well what a good education should be: learning to evaluate truth claims instead of learning their content.

Globally I have a very positive impression of his blog which is far from websites of hateful anti-theists such as Dawkins or Jerry Coyne. He makes a real effort to understand the fundamentalist mindset and seems really willing to help persons going through the same ordeal instead of just expressing his frustration and anger (like folks at DebunkingChristanity usually do).

Finally, I want to point out that progressive Christians such as myself also constantly combat the abuses and atrocities caused by fundamentalist education and brain-washing.

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser wrote an excellent article exposing all the flaws of the “Truth Project” which is a fundamentalist “education” for adults.

As a rule, I think that everyone ought to fight abuses and injustices wherever she finds them, especially if they are committed by individuals sharing her worldview.
There are Christian, Muslim, capitalistic , communist and antitheistic extremists and all people cherishing liberty and love should join their forces to keep them at bay and limit the psychological damages they cause.

I know that some of points are controversial and I’m looking forward to having an interesting dialog with people having other opinions.

Jesus and a dinosaur

Are ALL religions bad? Sin ALLE Religionen schlecht?

Is Faith a virus?

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This is a common claim of the New Atheists.
Richard Dawkins led the way as he wrote: “I think a case can be made that Faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.”

The problem is that this claim is extremely ambigious.

Does that means that all kind of supernatural beliefs are harmful?
Or does that mean that more than 99%, 78% or 50% of them cause harm?

Frankly speaking, I don’t see how the progressive and liberal Christianities of Thom Stark, Randal Rauser, Rachel Held Evans and many others (including myself) who FIGHT fundamentalism is harmful for society.

So, if the New Atheists want to become more than the hateful ideogists they currently are, they should clearly define (in a verifiable manner) what they mean and present evidence to buttress the claim that EVERY kind of Faith is noxious.

Until they do that, we are justified to ignore their rhetorical assertion as being “not even wrong”.

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Lorraine Franconian – Lothringisch

Isch de Glawe een Virus?

Es isch eeni häufigi Behauptung von de näie Atheisten.

Richard Dawkins hat damit begonne, als er geschriewe hat:
“Ich denke, dass ma gonz gut bewäise kinn, dass de Glawe een von de schlimmste Iwel der Welt isch, de ma mit de Pocken-Virus vergläiche kinn, wobei es schwieriger isch, es ze vernichte.”

De Problem isch, dass diese Behauptung extrem ambigü isch.

Bedeutet es, dass alle Arten von iwernatürlichen Behauptungen schädlich sin?

Oder bedeutet es, dass meh als 99%, 78% or 50% von ihnen Schade verursache?

Ehrlich gesot, sehe ich gar niet wie de progressive un liberale Christentüme von Thom Stark, Randal Rauser, Rachel Held Evans un viele oneri Lit (wie mich), die de Fundamentalismus bekompfe, fir de Gesellschaft schädlich sin.

So wenn de näiei Atheiste meh als de hasserfillte Ideologe sin wolle, de sie zerzit sin, sollte sie gonz klar (uf eeni verifizierbare Weise) definiere, was sie mäine un Bewäise präsentiere, um ihre Behauptung ze untermauern, dass JEDE Art von Glawe schädlich isch.

Bis sie das dun, sin wir gerechtfertigt, ihre rhetorische Behauptung als “niet sogar falsch” ze ignoriere.

My blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) (Link Here). 

On conservative Evangelicalism and homophoby

Lothringische Version: Iwer de konservative Evangelikalismus un Homophobie

 

Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser did a nice job documenting several (very representative) cases of fag-bashing within the Evangelical world.

His most striking (and utterly horrific) example is the case of American Evangelicals praising the dictator of Uganda for putting queers to death.

homobashing

I believe we have strong theological grounds for welcoming gay people within the Church.

Given the relative importance of homosexuality and social justice in the Gospel (and the whole Bible) I am truly dumbstruck by the amount of time Conservative Evangelicals spend on homosexuality while not only tolerating atrocious discrepancies between the healthcare for poor and rich children but also OPPOSING every attempt to change this tragic situation.

“You will recognize a tree by its fruits…” Jesus taught and warned us.

 

 

Homepage of Lotharlorraine: link here
(List of topics and posts)

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(Liste von Themen und Posten).

Mein anderer umstrittener Blog: Scherben von Magonia.

 

 

Biblical Inspiration and Randal Rauser

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Randal Rauser, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest Evangelical theologian, philosopher and defender of the faith recently (and a man full of love) recently interviewed pastor and theologian Tyler Williams about the gap between the results of historical-critical scholarship and the way pastors preach to their flock.

I decided to blog about this because I was confronted with this very issue two days ago.

I attended to an Evangelical Bible study about the Gospel of John and I pointed out that many sayings of Jesus cannot be historical because there are so great discrepancies with the way he expresses himself within the synoptic gospels.

Most folks there were unwilling to discuss about that and just said they want to assume the historicity of the passages and build up their faith on them.

This is certainly consistent with Tyler (and Randal at other places) reporting that many people never express their doubts in the Church because they fear to get excluded.

To my mind this is kind of irresponsible for it certainly matters if Jesus said those things or if they spring out of the theology of John (who might have created them from scratch or modified and spiritualized things the historical Jesus really stated).

They mention the case of Barth Ehrmann who after having been a fundamentalist had a strong deconversion experience and now call into question the entire Christian faith.

They rightly emphasize the fact that a rigid belief system can lead many intelligent people to throw out the baby with the bathwater and become atheists or at the very least agnostics.

Afterwards Randal and Tyler tried to salvage the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy by extending the concept as meaning that God intended the whole Bible to be viewed as a sacred Canon.

They are right that it is compatible with non-historical and mythological tales included within the Bible because they teach us spiritual truth.

The concept that God would include pseudo-graphical writings within the Canon is more difficult to swallow but it is not that implausible provided the authors had profound spiritual and moral insights.

However the presence of “terror texts” within the Canon, whereby God is described as a genocidal monster, is a strong defeater for a belief in inerrancy. Randal takes the view that God intended them to be within the Bible to teach us to be honest to God and also to show us the wickedness of our own heart which we all too easily project onto Him. But this is very problematic.

On the one hand it is certainly true that very early on, believers like the Church father Origen and Gregory strongly disagreed with the theology expressed within the terror texts. Actually, as Thom Stark and many others have pointed out, even Biblical writers like Hezechiel and Jonah had in this respect a very different theology than the writers of the book of Joshua and Samuel.

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the terror texts have had a very bad influence on quite a few people whereas many used them as an excuse to justify their own hatred.

This is why I strongly doubt that God wanted them to be included within a supernatural Canon.

Actually, I reject the idea that the Bible should be our foundation for learning how God is and believe we should base our theology on the concept that God has to be perfect in order for Him to be God.

This should be our starting point.

We can then look at the different religious texts as the “human faces of God” (to use Thom Stark’s wonderful expression), that is as being inspired in the same way books outside the Canon (such as those from the Church fathers, Aquinas, Luther, Wesley, C.S. Lewis and last but not least Randal Rauser) are.

And I’m convinced that non-Christian authors can experience many aspects of God and get things right about Him. As I’m going to argue in a future post, we have good grounds for believing this is how the apostle Paul considered some Pagan authors during his speech in Athens.

 

 

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