Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"He didn't deserve to die"


Over at Pyromanics, Frank Turk has an oddly reasoned post on the Ferguson affair:


You can't have it both ways: either the system is working, or it is not working. 

Actually, I can have it both ways. Sometimes the system works, and sometimes it doesn't. It would be simplistic and inaccurate to stake out a uniform position on whether or not the system works. I can point to instances where it works as well as instances where it doesn't. 

What if we start here: it doesn't matter what Trayvon Martin  Michael Brown was doing in that neighborhood.  He didn't deserve to die. He wasn't putting anyone's life in danger; he didn't deserve to die.  Until and unless you are willing to say that out loud -- and I don't care which side of the argument you are on here -- if you can't say that Trayvon Martin Michael Brown did not deserve to die, you frankly have no place in this discussion. Your moral compass and your real empathy for other people are both broken.  You can't do anything to make this or the future better until you deal with that.

Whether or not he "deserved" to die is a red herring in this situation. The question of just deserts is only germane to punishment. 

But according to the defense, Wilson's action wasn't punitive. Wilson didn't shoot Brown to mete out justice. 

Rather, according to the defense, Brown was trying to seize Wilson's gun. Assuming that's true, Wilson acted in self-defense. 

In that situation, the moral justification for potential use of lethal force isn't predicated on whether the assailant deserved it. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. That has no bearing on the moral justification.

Rather, when an assailant puts someone else's life in jeopardy, he puts his own life in jeopardy. By his action he forfeits the prima facie right not to be harmed by another. If he commits a life-threatening action without due cause, the would-be victim has a right to repel the attack by any means at his disposal. The assailant has forced his hand.

Keep in mind, too, that he has forced the would-be victim to make a snap decision. You can't put someone in that situation, then blame them for making a split-second judgment call. It's your fault for putting them in that predicament in the first place. 

So Frank's argument is morally confused. 

If you're going to challenge Wilson's action, the proper way to do so is to challenge the facts of the case. Did he have good reason to fear for his life and safety? 

Now, in response to comments, Frank amplifies or amends his original claim:

Michael Brown, whilst walking down the street, was not putting anyone's life in danger.
That is where this incident started. Officer Wilson did not come upon a fight or a robbery: he came upon two men walking in the street. That's where this started, and to see it otherwise is not excessively clever.
i) I agree with Frank that police shouldn't accost citizens engaged in lawful conduct. 
ii) However, that's a euphemistic description in this case. Hadn't Brown just committed strong-armed robbery? Wasn't that caught on the security camera? 
iii) He wasn't shot because he was walking in the street. According to the defense, he was shot because the situation rapidly escalated to the point where the officer's life was in danger. That's why he died. 
You can try to challenge Wilson's version of the events. But that's a different issue. 

Cops shoot white folks too

http://www.copinthehood.com/2014/10/black-teens-are-not-21-times-more.html

http://www.copinthehood.com/2008/02/police-involved-shootings-and-race.html

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/22/truth-about-young-black-men-and-police-shootings/

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/25/critics-see-racial-double-standard-in-coverage-of-/?page=all


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christian Mathematicians

http://godandmath.com/2012/04/24/christian-mathematicians-riemann/

http://godandmath.com/2012/01/15/christian-mathematicians-euler/

http://godandmath.com/2012/03/22/christian-mathematicians-bayes/

Mary Isn't The Only New Eve

"To how small a degree Mary as a holy person forms the centre of interest can be realized from the fact that the comparison with Eve must by no means be concentrated on her alone. 'Generally speaking, every woman who plays a part in the salvation of God's people can be understood exegetically as a type of the new Eve'. Even in Hippolytus, for example, the women who go to the grave on Easter morning are similarly contrasted with Eve - a kind of view that lasts into the fifth century - and Origen compares the two 'holy women', Elizabeth and Mary, with Eve. Ambrose parallelizes Eve and Sarah, and emphasizes that there were many Marys before the one Mary brought the great fulfilment....Again and again it is a question here of the 'woman' or 'the women' as such, who thus receive their due. Nothing like that would have been possible if the Eve-Mary typology had had only a 'Mariological' meaning from the outset." (Hans von Campenhausen, The Virgin Birth In The Theology Of The Ancient Church [Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2011], 45-6)

The media lynch mob


A quick observation about the liberal establishment. On the one hand, the liberal establishment gives blacks like Rodney King, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown every benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, the liberal establishment presumes the guilt of blacks like Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, and Bill Cosby.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Victorinus And The Perpetual Virginity Of Mary

Not much of what Victorinus of Pettau wrote is extant. But he apparently made some comments relevant to the perpetual virginity of Mary in his writings that didn't survive. In response to Helvidius, who argued against Mary's perpetual virginity, Jerome commented:

Drawing the lines


On the one hand, Abolish Human Abortion refuses to cooperate with Catholic prolifers on theological grounds.

On the other hand, AHA views itself as heir to the anti-slavery theorists and activists. Yet abolitionists like Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Thomas Paine, Theodore Parker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Henry David Thoreau, and Theodore Weld were by no means theologically orthodox. 

By the same token, the men who effectively abolished slavery in America (e.g. Lincoln, Sherman, Grant) were by no means theologically orthodox. 

Ironically, AHA's position is the mirror image of the Confederate theologians who opposed the abolitionists because they were heterodox. 

Fahrenheit 451


This is a sequel to my earlier post, from comments I left at Beggars All:

steve said...
Notice Guy's faithless response to Luke and John. He openly scorns the assurance they give the reader. He refuses to credit what they say on their own terms.

He's a rank infidel with a bit of borrowed religiosity.
steve said...
"I don't deny the assurances of Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James,Jude, Matthew or Mark. I know the books associated with them are God breathed because I have it on the authority of the Church established by Christ."

The passages I quoted don't condition their assurance on your extraneous putative authority. Rather, the assurance they proffer is predicated on their own writings, as is. It's self-contained.

You refuse to accept the claims of Luke and John on their own grounds.

They say that by reading and believing what they wrote, a reader will have certainty about the life of Christ and saving knowledge of his person and work.

You directly contradict what they say. You look them square in the eye and say: "No, I don't believe you!"

You don't believe Luke and John. You only believe Pope Francis.

"Steve, without an infallible Church, you don't even know what the Bible is."

Suppose I'm stranded on a deserted island. Suppose I never heard of "the Bible" or "the church."

Suppose a copy of Luke's gospel or John's gospel or 1 John washes ashore.

If I read it and believe it, do I have the certainty, the saving knowledge, that they promise the reader?

If you deny that, then you're an infidel.
steve said...
i) You disbelieve what Luke or John say on their own merits. You deny that what they claim is obligatory or authoritative in its own right.

This despite how them themselves frame the issue. Luke grounds the assurance he gives a reader, not in Pope Francis signing off on what he wrote, but on the quality of his own sources. His personal research is the stated basis for the assurance he gives.

John grounds the assurance he gives a reader, not on the approval of Pope Francis, but on John's firsthand knowledge of Jesus, and inspired recollection.

What if Pope Francis told you not to believe Luke's Gospel or John's Gospel, or 1 John? Evidently, you take his word over theirs.

ii) If Luke is true or John is true, then its truth does not depend on my ability to prove it. If it's true, then even if I fail to prove it, it is still true.

Suppose John's Gospel washes up on the beach of my deserted island. I have no idea where it comes from. Do I have life in Christ's name by believing what John recorded (Jn 20:31)?

Suppose I'm walking along the beach of my deserted island and I find a copy of Luke's Gospel on the shoreline. I'm not familiar with the author. By reading and believing it, do I true and certain knowledge of what Luke recorded (Lk 1:1-4)?
steve said...
"Steve, without an infallible Church, you don't even know what the Bible is."

That's an empty-headed trope you mechanically repeat–like pulling a string on a doll.

It disregards internal evidence. It ensnares you to a vicious infinite regress. And it reflects your double standard.

steve said...
If a book contains false divine promises (i.e. promises falsely attributed to God), then believing them doesn't make them true. If, however, a book contains true divine promises, then God will do for the reader what he promised in the book independent of any corroborative evidence.

Is it a fact that by reading the Gospel of Luke, a reader can acquire sure knowledge about the life of Christ? Is it a fact that by reading the Gospel of John, a reader can acquire saving knowledge?

steve said...
"I don't deny the assurances of Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James,Jude, Matthew or Mark. I know the books associated with them are God breathed because I have it on the authority of the Church established by Christ."

You invoke a secondary (alleged) authority while disowning the direct authority of the writers themselves.

Luke doesn't predicate his Gospel on the authority of "the Church," but the evidence his own investigations.

Likewise, when John says "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life" (1 Jn 1:1-2), he's not appealing to the authority of "the Church," but his personal authority as an intimate eyewitness to the public ministry of Christ.

When you only accept what Bible writers say on the authority of your sect, you disrespect their stated truth-conditions and substitute an alien rationale.

"Why didn't Christ just leave us a book like the Koran or something?"

Given your ecclesiolatry, we could turn the question around. Why did God give us a Bible at all? Who needs a book when you have the living oracle of Mother Church to answer all your questions?

steve said...
"I know the books associated with them are God breathed because I have it on the authority of the Church established by Christ."

You don't have an authoritative church–although you do have an authoritarian church. All you really have is the authority of your own individual opinion. Your fallible personal opinion that your particular denomination is infallible. Your "infallible external authority" is your private judgment in disguise. You postulate an infallible external authority.

John says, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands…"

Pope Francis is in no position to say that.

The author of Hebrews says the message "was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard" (Heb 2:3).

Pope Francis is in no position to say that.

Luke says, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you" (Lk 1:1-3).

Pope Francis is in no position to say that.

"I also can say the same for the OT including those 7 books you don't have."

And the Ethiopian Orthodox church can say the same for the books you don't have. And the LDS church can say the same for the books you don't have.

"There were Church councils, presided over by Catholic bishops, ratified by popes, that decided which books stayed and which books didn't."

Because, for you, the word of God has no inherent authority. If the Pope gives thumbs up to the Gospel of Thomas, then it's in. If the Pope gives thumbs down to the Gospel of Matthew, then it's out.
steve said...
Guy,

By your own admission, you don't begin with an infallible church–because you can't. Rather, you posit an infallible church. You begin with your fallible postulate of an infallible church.

It is viciously circular for you to retroactively validate your fallible option by reference to an infallible church, when that's nothing more than your fallible postulate in the first place. Your endpoint can't rise higher than your starting-point.

"Reasonable" and "infallible" are not synonymous. Not even close.

steve said...
i) Guy's demand for an "infallible external authority" generates an infinite regress. If we can't be certain of anything without reference to an external criterion, then by what additional criterion do we test our external criterion? 

This approach fails to distinguish between first-order knowledge (knowing that) and second-order knowledge (knowing how we know, or proving what we know).

To halt the vicious regress, some knowledge must be immediate.

ii) In addition, Guy shows contempt for Biblical assurances based on the witness of the Spirit.

iii) Let's take a comparison. Suppose Calvinism is true. Suppose God intends someone to be a Christian. One way God can do that is to predestine that person to be raised in a Christian church. Perhaps that's all he's every known.

Now, considered in isolation, believing something just because you were raised that way is not a good reason to believe it.

If, however, Christianity is true, then what this man believes is true. Moreover, it isn't just a historical accident that he believes it. Rather, God put him in that belief-forming environment to foster faith in Scripture.

So he's right to believe it. It's the right thing to believe, and he was conditioned to believe it by a reliable belief-forming mechanism–God's special providence. God prearranged the events in this man's life so that he'd be exposed to the truth. God regenerated him to make him receptive to the truth. He isn't mistaken, and under those circumstances, he cannot be mistaken.

However, because Guy despises Calvinism, he's cut himself off from that providential source of justified true belief.

steve said...
Keep in mind that there was never a church of Rome. Rather, there were churches of Rome. A variety of house-churches, under different leaders. That's on display in Rom 16. There was no church of Rome in the 1C. Just a number of neighborhood fellowships scattered across the far-flung city. No one church of Rome. No singular church.
steve said...
"Do you mean the burning in the bosom experienced by every schwarmer?"

Even though the word of God appeals to the witness of the Spirit, Guy considers that equivalent to Mormonism. Further evidence that Guy is a hardened infidel.

For Guy, the Bible has no more authority or credibility than the book of Mormon.

"Boys and Girls, Let's put our thinking caps on."

That would be a radical change in Guy's modus operandi:

"Before around 1450, when Gutenberg invented the printing press and printed a Catholic Bible, your foundational belief of 'Bible Only' was a physical impossibility."

Evidently, Guy thinking cap is out of order. Before the invention of the printing press, there were no mass copies of papal encyclicals, conciliar proceedings, Scholastic theologians, or church fathers.

Guy's alternative is no more or less dependent on the printing press than the Protestant rule of faith. The church of Rome also disseminates its dogmas in writing.

"Really? Have you ever been to Rome?"

As a matter of fact, I have–several times.

More to the point, I'm discussing 1C Rome, not 21C Rome

Notice, though, how Guy blows right past Rom 16. He doesn't even know what it means. Try reading Fitzmyer's commentary on Rom 16. A Jesuit commentator. Notice what he says about the house-churches referenced in the text, with different leaders.

"Kephas, the wicked high priest, uttered infallible prophecy in virtue of the office he was holding.:

That's Guy's bare assertion. To the contrary:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2014/11/was-there-jewish-magisterium.html

"( Pssst! Kaiphas/Cephas )."

Guy robotically reiterates the same refuted claims. I already corrected him on that. He offers no counterargument.

"Suppose black was white and up was down."

Notice that Guy has no counterargument.

"I won't bore you again with my 'amateurish' description of Richard Whately's method of argumentation which says we can trust our powers of observation and the testimony of history when it comes to Christ"

Guy has yet to demonstrate how that method of argumentation yields infallible conclusions.

Let's try one more time:

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 Jn 5:13).

Does Guy agree or disagree with that promise? If a reader believes what John wrote, does he thereby know that he has eternal life?

Is that a true or false promise? The promise isn't conditioned on believing in Pope Francis or an infallible church, but on believing what John wrote.
steve said...
"You reject the Church that predates your Bible, the Church you are totally dependent on for that Bible."

Catholic apologists imagine that church history is on their side, yet they make utterly unhistorical claims about how the church of Rome gave Christians the Bible. That's because Catholic apologetics is really based, not on church history, but an a priori methodology.

They begin with their conclusion: the alleged necessity of an infallible church. Then they stipulate whatever is necessary to yield their foregone conclusion.

There are many excellent treatments of the canon. For instance:

OT Canon:

Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church.

Andrew Steinmann, The Oracles of God: The Old Testament Canon.

Apocrypha:

David deSilva, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance.

NT Canon:

E. E. Ellis, The Making of the New Testament Documents.

C. E. Hill, Who Chose the Gospels?

Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books.

–––––, The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate.

Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance.

Stanley Porter, How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, Translation.
steve said...
"Tell me more about the trustworthiness of that 'Inner Witness of the Spirit' you said you rely upon to know if you are reading inspired scripture or not."

I didn't make a personal claim. And I didn't propose the witness of the Spirit is a canonical criterion. Rather, I made an observation about how Scripture appeals to the witness of the Spirit as a source of Christian assurance.

"Do you get all misty eyed and choked…"

Your comments on the Biblical witness of the Spirit are sacrilegious. What possesses you to mock what Scripture says about a source of spiritual assurance? What is it about Catholic piety that makes you blaspheme the work of the Spirit?

"I know I am a Christian.
I have the Baptismal certificate to prove it although I have no recollection of the event.
I know my sins are forgiven when I hear the priest say, 'Absolvo te'.
I know I have the Holy Ghost because I was Confirmed."


Yes, I understand your faith in priestcraft. And if you were Sikh, you'd have faith in its Gurus. Your faith begins and ends with externals. Pure ritualism.

"On your trips to Rome, did you ever consider investigating any ancient places of worship? Evidently not."

Do you always make ignorant assumptions about your opponents? I've visited such ancient Roman churches as Santa Sabina and Santa Costanza–among other sites.

"Steve, since day one, the Church has had a highly organized structure for transmitting the Faith to the laity called the "hierarchy". For centuries, only the Catholic clergy could read."

Why did they need to read unless the Catholic religion depends on writings to disseminate the faith?

"Before Gutenberg, the principle of SS did not/could not exist."

Which undercuts your appeal to the church fathers, church councils, &c. Can't have it both ways.

"Anticipating your oft repeated question about how do I know the priest who absolved, Confirmed or Baptized me had the right intention,all I need to know is whether or not proper form was used. The intent is presumed if the form is used."

What about Simony? What about idle European noblemen who sought ordination for the sole purpose of collecting ecclesiastical preferments? Absentee bishops who had no intention of performing religious duties? Just gaming the system for money.

"If you doubt me, ask EA…He wouldn't be so brash as to be on this blog shooting his mouth off on things beyond his area of expertise."

What's your area of expertise, Guy? Do you have a degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University?

steve said...
"Ea, You need to repent. I don't know how much of a Catholic you were, but if you were raised and Confirmed in the Faith, your problem is probably not intellectual but emotional and spiritual. Soaking up a bunch of anti-Catholic propaganda is the last thing you need. Go get the healing you need. Talk to a priest."

Let's see. Hans Küng is still a priest. So I guess EA should talk to Küng about papal infallibility. Thanks for the recommendation, Guy!
steve said...
"You are in the hot seat on this point."

I have asbestos padding.

"Before Gutenberg, the principle of SS did not/could not exist."

You don't know what the principle is. Take a Fahrenheit 451 scenario. Suppose ownership of Bibles was punishable by death. Not only you, but every family member–as a deterrent.

Suppose a Protestant community evades the ban by memorizing the Bible. Different members commit different books of Scripture to memory–before they destroy their copies to avoid detection. That community is still governed by sola Scriptura, even though it has no physical copies of Scripture.

The content of a book can be orally transmitted. Many people can memorize the same copy. A one-to-many relation.

Indeed, that's more than hypothetical. You have people like Alec McCowen and Max McLean who do that sort of thing.

That's different from oral history or oral tradition, where it's word-of-mouth all the way. By contrast, this is controlled tradition, because it has a written frame of reference. One can double-check memory against the exemplar. The standard exists.
steve said...
According to Trent: 
"Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle."

Notice that this is based on certain authorial attributions. Moreover, that view was maintained at least through the pontificate of Leo XIII.

However, the modern magisterium no longer demands assent to those authorial attributions. But in that case, the Tridentine list is obsolete. The modern Magisterium has relaxed the presuppositions on which the list was originally and logically based.
steve said...
Once again, Guy advertises his chronic incapacity for rational discourse. He doesn't grasp the nature of hypothetical arguments. My hypothetical was a limiting case (another concept which eludes Guy) concerning what is or is not consistent with sola scripture in *principle*. That, of course, sailed right over Guy's head.

Every Christian doesn't need direct access to the Bible to be governed by sola Scriptura. That confuses content with the mode of dissemination.

If, say, the Bible was read aloud in public worship to a congregation of illiterate Christians, that would be consistent with sola Scriptura.

Soggy crunch time


Abolitionists call for the immediate and total abolition of abortion (with no exceptions or permissions) and we work for this end daily, seeking to accomplish it as soon as possible. And we know that this could take a long time and likely will not happen overnight. But the fact that we must fight this battle for a long time and seek to save lives on a daily basis should not modify the manner in which we fight for abolition in our overall strategy. 
Abolitionist think the fight against abortion will be a long one and we are prepared to fight on real fronts all along the way but we are not interested in creating battles that forestall the real debate with the pro-abortion side (whether elective abortion is ever permissible). 
http://blog.abolishhumanabortion.com/2013/11/a-plea-to-incrementalists.html?q=incrementalists

This suffers from two related problems: On the one hand, Prolifers are also in this fight for the long-haul. Indeed, prolifers have demonstrated their tenacity. Shown their dogged dedication to the cause, in the face of tremendous obstacles. It takes great commitment to stay in the fight year after year. Abolitionists have yet to demonstrate the time-tested same resolve.

On the other hand, how can abolitionists attack prolifers because they've been at this for 40 years when abolitionists allow themselves such an open-ended timeline for success? How can they take consolation in saving however many babies in the meantime when they attack prolifers for doing the very same thing? 

Yes, they say they differ in terms of strategy, but my point is that they don't differ in terms of time allotment. 

When the perfect is the enemy of the good



Dear Christian: We have been commanded by our Lord to love our neighbors as ourselves. He didn’t follow this up with any exceptions, so we can only assume this means ALL of our neighbors, correct? So knowing this, how can we continue supporting bills, legislation and restrictions which only protect some human beings? 
https://www.facebook.com/AbolishHumanAbortion/posts/795434450522571
i) During WWII, some Catholics and Protestants, at grave personal risk, sheltered Jews from the Nazis. Famous examples include Miep Gies, Corrie ten Boom, and Hugh O'Flaherty. 
But by AHA logic, they didn't love their neighbors because they only saved the Jews they could.
ii) Suppose I'm sunning myself on the riverbank on a fine summer day. A mother and her two young boys come paddling down the river, but their canoe capsizes. The mother, a weak swimmer, can barely get herself ashore.
As for the boys, there's one of me and two of them, so I can't save them both. If I divide my efforts, I can't save either one. So I have to make a terrible choice. I rescue the one closest to me, and perform CPR. The other is carried downstream and drowns. Tragic, but unavoidable.
According to AHA, should I refrain from saving either boy unless I try futilely to save each one–thereby condemning both to death? 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Secular and religious violence

https://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/quotes-from-william-t-cavanaugh/

Peter Is Always Listed First

…except when he isn't.

"Paul…Apollos…Cephas…Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:12)

"the rest of the apostles…the brothers of the Lord…Cephas" (1 Corinthians 9:5)

"James…Cephas…John" (Galatians 2:9)

Catholics often argue for the papacy by citing Peter's position at the beginning of lists of the disciples in the gospels and Acts (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-9, Luke 6:12-6, Acts 1:13). But why cite those lists and not others, like the ones I've quoted above? And why think that Peter's position in the lists represents his rank in the church? During the times being addressed by the four passages in the gospels and Acts, there was no system of church government as we have in churches today. And two of the most prominent apostles, James and Paul, weren't apostles yet (at the time of three of the lists for James and at the time of all four for Paul). James was an apostle at the time of Acts 1, but the passage in question is addressing the earlier disciples of Jesus, not all of the apostles, which, once again, underscores the limited significance of the list. Why should we think that Peter's position in lists about the pre-Pentecost era reflect the jurisdictional rank of Peter and his alleged successors throughout church history?

New Age Jesus

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/11/changing-jesus-calling-damage-control-false-christ/

Tremper's open letter



However, speaking honestly, you have lost my respect as a board. 

That's such a paternalistic statement. Why does he imagine the WTS board pines for his respect? 

And, based on the many emails and private posts that I have received, I am far, far from alone in that assessment. It is indicative of a problem that many of those who contact me privately ask for anonymity because of a fear of reprisal from the present administration at the Seminary.

I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the WTS administration is vindictive, surely the only people it's in a position to retaliate against are current employees. How "many" could that be? WTS is not a huge seminary, like SWBTS. It has a fairly small faculty to begin with. 

Does Longman imagine that the WTS administration can wreak vengeance on former faculty, board members, or alumni? How, exactly, does that work? Does Lillback have the power to issue a blacklist? The long arm of Lillback? 

This approach is unprecedented in Westminster’s past and thus represents a departure from the tradition of Westminster Seminary. As a result, until the past ten years, Westminster had been a significant influence in the broader evangelical and even the broader Christian world. 

Well, on the one hand, that would go back to the halcyon days when Enns was working there. Is that the kind of influence Longman sorely misses?

On the other hand, Fantuzzo and Green have a very short paper-trail, that I'm aware of, so it's hard to see how much influence that were in a position to exert outside the classroom. 

Today, Westminster is irrelevant to the broader Christian world. The Seminary, under your leadership, has circled the wagons and become in-grown and parochial.

i) What's his standard of comparison? Fuller Seminary? Eastern University? 

ii) If, moreover, WTS has become so marginalized, how is it in a position to retaliate against critics? 

Indeed, it has become increasingly embarrassing for alums and former professors like myself to say we were connected to Westminster.

If he feels that way, perhaps he should ask WTS to rescind his MDiv.

In the first place, I seriously doubt that the Board will discipline the administration. The problem is that the Board has basically been shaped by the administration after there was a mass resignation of Board members who voted against the continuance of the present administration.

i) Again, I don't know what that's supposed to mean. "Mass resignation" makes it sound like the former board resigned en masse. But if a majority of the board members were opposed to the current administration, they had the votes to fire Lillback. 

So I can only assume that a minority of the board resigned after they were outvoted by the majority.

ii) In addition, doesn't this go back to the termination of Peter Enns? Presumably, the disgruntled board members resigned after they lost that battle. If so, what does it say about their judgment or theological bearings when they sided with Enns? 

The board may be ultimately responsible for the Seminary, but it is accountable to its constituency and owes those of us who are a significant part of the Westminster community an answer to these disturbing questions.

Who is the "us"? Longman is not a member of the Westminster community. By resigning, ex-board members severed connections.  

Already I have received messages from people (including PCA ministers and denominational executives) who have said that they will not hire Westminster students.

How ironic. In the context of attacking the WTS regime for its allegedly Machiavellian tactics, the critics are going to settle old scores by exacting revenge on the students. Guilt by association. Attack the administration through the students. Talk about "reprisal"!

Longman and his cohorts are so fanatical that it's blinded them to any semblance of moral consistency. They've become the very thing they feign to hate. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Three modern myths in interpreting Genesis 1

"Three Modern Myths in Interpreting Genesis 1" by Vern Poythress.

John Bugay speaks about the history of Roman Catholicism

My presentation on the history of Roman Catholicism 11/21/2014Here is a link to the slides I used in my Agora Forum discussion on Roman Catholicism Friday night.

There were about a dozen people in attendance, and the discussion lasted about 2.5 hours. It was not recorded.

My thanks to Dr. David Snoke for the invitation, and to all who attended and took part in the discussions. I had a great time.

2014-11 Agora Forum on Roman Catholicism.

Water witching


I've read that Joseph Smith was into water witching. I haven't studied that accusation in depth, and I haven't studied water witching in depth, so in this post I'll discuss the issue hypothetically.

If we assume that at least in some cases, water witching is more than randomly successful, two explanations present themselves:

i) The douser might be genuinely clairvoyant. By dabbling in the occult, he acquires extrasensory knowledge. Of course, that's a nice way of saying he's in league with evil spirits. 

ii) If a douser plants evidence, or if he's already familiar with the area, acquainted with spots where there's surface water, then he can "discover" what the client paid him to find. That's impressive…unless you consider the possibility that he went to places where he already knew what he was going to find.

In that case, the rod is just a prop. The rod points because the douser is manipulating the rod. 

Inventing apostolic succession


They began to be concerned with their own history…The Marcionite church had is beginning with Marcion…The Montanists went back to Montanus…All of these bore the names of founders whom people knew, while the Christian churches normally went back beyond the turn of the first century into the time of the apostles. Only that which can trace its history back into the earliest time, either directly or through fellowship with churches which are able to document it directly, can be genuine. In this way the concept of apostolic tradition developed and along with it, apostolic succession. 
In this context people sometimes proceeded quite liberally in building the chain of tradition...Then, as now, historical thinking was overlaid with wishes.  
The idea that both of them [Peter & Paul] first came to Rome after the church had already existed there for a longer time had no place in early Christian thinking, which in this case wanted to forge a connection between something they knew and the earliest and best-known men whose names they knew.  
In the first century and the beginning of the second, the Roman church was led by a college of presbyters, as we learn reliably from 1 Clement which we have frequently mentioned. We can no more speak about an apostolic succession, by which Peter passed on the episcopal office by a laying on of hands, than we can about many other things. This idea was a product of the second century when the idea of apostolic succession inevitably developed from the concept or requirement of apostolic tradition. Both existed only after the second half of the second century. K. Aland, A History of Christianity (Fortress 1985), 1:118-120. 

Science's incomplete metaphysics

"Thomas Nagel is not crazy" by Malcolm Thorndike Nicholson.

How Many People Were in the Exodus from Egypt?

OT numbers are often puzzling to modern readers. Sometimes they're round numbers, sometimes they're symbolic numbers, sometimes they're idiomatic descriptors.

https://www.scienceandchristianbelief.org/serve_pdf_free.php?filename=SCB+12-1+Humphreys.pdf

https://www.scienceandchristianbelief.org/serve_pdf_free.php?filename=SCB+13-1+debate.pdf