According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Monday, August 4, 2014

Scot McKnight's Review of "Five Views of Biblical Inerrancy," Part 1 - Albert Mohler




There is little doubt that the inerrancy of the Bible is a current and often contentious topic among evangelicals. Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy represents a timely contribution by showcasing the spectrum of evangelical positions on inerrancy, facilitating understanding of these perspectives, particularly where and why they diverge.

Each essay in Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy considers:

  • the present context and the viability and relevance for the contemporary evangelical Christian witness;
  • whether and to what extent Scripture teaches its own inerrancy;
  • the position’s assumed/implied understandings of the nature of Scripture, God, and truth; and
  • three difficult biblical texts, one that concerns intra-canonical contradictions, one that raises questions of theological plurality, and one that concerns historicity.



Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy serves not only as a single-volume resource for surveying the current debate, but also as a catalyst both for understanding and advancing the conversation further. Contributors include Al Mohler, Kevin Vanhoozer, Michael Bird, Peter Enns, and John Franke.


* * * * * * * * *


Scott McKnight begins a discussion of Inerrancy to which I will add
occasional emendation, notes, links, and resources. R.E. Slater, August 4, 2014


Inerrancy: A “Classic” Model

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/08/04/inerrancy-a-classic-model/

by Scot McKnight
August 4, 2014

The word “inerrancy,” like the word evangelical, beggars clear and compelling definitions and articulations. Many of inerrancy’s proponents don’t believe simpler words — like truth, truthful, trustworthy — adequately express what is to be believed about the Bible. So there is an Inerrancy Debate, and it is now in an official form: Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy. The editors are J. Merrick and S.M. Garrett, and the contributors, with responses to each of the other essayists, are R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Peter Enns, Michael F. Bird, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, and John R. Franke. Believe me, this is one of the more volatile issues among evangelicals (the term “inerrancy” tends not to be used except by evangelicals, and then not by all). I am not a fan of these Counterpoint books since, in general, the responses go down hill fast. I do value sketching various views of a topic, including inerrancy. But this sketch is clearly an in-house-evangelical affair with not a look at Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans or others.

Mohler kicks the volume off, and after reading him carefully I have come to this conclusion: Mohler creates an argument the way Kris and I do crosswords — we work in this corner and then that corner, and then on this line and then on that line. We don’t finish up one section before we move on to another. The problem is that arguments are not crosswords. Mohler’s essay, in other words, is a tangled mess with barely any order — here one thing, there another, with an application/polemical point now and then later another one, with some Bible and then no Bible. One can discern what he believes well enough, but for a representative of the “classic” view (and he means Warfield through the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy) this is at best a hodgepodge of claims. There are much better studies, including those by B.B. Warfield, E.J. Young, J.I. Packer, and Paul Feinberg’s well-framed essay in a book called Inerrancy (ed. N. Geisler).

I was a college student when the inerrancy debate became big at the hand of Harold Lindsell’s famous The Battle for the Bible. I devoured the book, stood amazed at some of his claims, but knew there was much to study in this topic — so I read B.B. Warfield and E.J. Young cover to cover, carefully watching how they worked. They were articulate, careful, and mostly convincing. But not all have achieved their level of patient exposition of the Bible’s understanding of itself.

He contends inerrancy is supported by the Bible’s own claims, by the course of theological history, and for pastoral reasons.

These are representative statements by Mohler:

“An affirmation of the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible has stood at the center of the evangelical faith as long as there have been Christians known as evangelicals” (29). He’s more or less right: I don’t think it is all that helpful to call the Reformers “evangelicals” (as we know them today), but evangelicalism (properly boundaried) has believed in inspiration and authority.

One of his best lines is “When the Bible speaks, God speaks” (29). He accepts ETS’s older statement — “The Bible alone, the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs” (29). He approves of Carl Henry’s line that “inerrancy should be seen as a requirement of evangelical consistency rather than as a test of evangelical integrity” (29), though I’m not sure what this means. He knows many aren’t in agreement, including Roger Olson [(cf. The Doctrine of Inerrancy's Oblique Terminology and Virtual Meaninglessness and When Did Evangelicalism Start to Go Wrong (or, Right)?)].

He believes in a slippery slope mentality: give up inerrancy and things fall apart theologically, morally, epistemologically, and ecclesially. Giving it up leads to “hermeneutical nihilism” and “metaphysical antirealism” (31).

His history of this discussion focuses on the 20th Century — from Warfield to Lindsell to ETS and CSBI (1978). God is perfect; his words therefore are perfect; Scripture is inspired by God and therefore inerrant; the Spirit attended the authors and the text and speaks to us today in the inward witness; the Bible is plenarily inspired; authority follows from this and without this the authority is shaken.

He then makes his case: the Bible, history and pastoral ministry.

His case for the Bible starts off poorly for me. He quotes 2 Peter 1:21, which in the NIV 2011 reads: “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Mohler’s observations: “Peter’s point is that the Scripture is to be trusted at every point, and he defines its inspiration as being directly from God, through the agency of human authors, by means of the direct work of the Holy Spirit” (37). Well, not exactly: Does “prophecy” mean “Scripture… at every point”? I doubt it. He speaks of the “original text” but is that one of Peter’s categories? Anyway, the point is that Mohler colonizes 2 Peter 1:21 into his existing theory of inerrancy and explains Peter through his theory. Fortunately, his section on the Bible improves and his stuff here on Paul is done well. Yes, I agree: Paul and the NT authors, including Jesus, were Jewish and had a “high” view of Scripture and its truthfulness and God’s trustworthiness in the Word. This does not solve the hermeneutical problems but it does give us a good framing of the early Christian view.

On the faith of the church, Yes, the church has always believed the Bible is true, trustworthy, and authoritative. To import the word “inerrancy,” which means CSBI or ETS for Mohler, is simply a bad case of anachronism run amok. It is not good history to impose later categories on the church fathers and medieval theologians or even the Reformers. Plus, they always operated with a strong sense of “tradition” alongside the Bible.

The authors are to use test cases: Joshua 6; the tension of Acts 9:7 and 22:9, as well as Deut 20:16-17 and Matthew 5:43-48. On Joshua 6; Jericho, archaeology and the Bible: he believes in inerrancy, therefore there is no problem; on Acts 9 and 22, he believes in inerrancy therefore there is no problem; and the same on Deut 20 and Matt 5.

This is a great example of a priori logic, of assumptions, and of deductive logic but I’m glad there are other essays in this volume.

Three more critical observations

Mohler makes claims about the history of theology without documentation.

Why not trot out statements from Augustine to the modern day? Why not frame what they believed in their terms and let the chips fall where they may? Instead, he makes summary statements about history, and (as we will see) his summary statements are not accurate. Both Bird and Vanhoozer take Mohler to task for his claims about history.

Mohler uses a priori Logic as Argument

The second observation is that here is how Mohler’s logic works: I believe in inerrancy, therefore the Bible is not wrong. Over and over he says, Since I believe in inerrancy this theory about a passage can’t be right. This is a priori logic, if not fideism [(sic, exclusive reliance in religious matters upon faith, with consequent rejection of appeals to science or philosophy)], and it is being used for a doctrine that was formed, if my reading of the history is right, on the basis of inductive logic.

Mohler affirms inerrancy with little biblical examination

Third, for someone who affirms inerrancy of the Bible there is precious little emphasis in this study on the Bible itself. He has one short section (3 pages) and in the challenging portions he spends far too little time patiently examining what the Bible actually says. A “biblical” inerrancy is one founded on patient study of what the Bible says.

Summary

It is because of understandings of inerrancy like this of Mohler that many of us don’t want to use the term “inerrancy.” What does that mean? In the hands of Mohler, the word “inerrancy” is boundary-drawing politics and polemics.

The Bible’s way of talking about the Bible is “Word” and a word is spoken by a Person, who is engaged in a covenant relationship of love, and the proper response to the Word from God is to listen because, as covenant people, we want to know what God says and do what he wants. I have sketched this in the “Boring Chapter” in The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.



* * * * * * * * *





Why Can’t I Just Be a Christian?” Parakeets make delightful pets. We cage them or clip their wings to keep them where we want them. Scot McKnight contends that many, conservatives and liberals alike, attempt the same thing with the Bible. We all try to tame it.

McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet has emerged at the perfect time to cool the flames of a world on fire with contention and controversy. It calls Christians to a way to read the Bible that leads beyond old debates and denominational battles. It calls Christians to stop taming the Bible and to let it speak anew for a new generation.

In his books The Jesus Creed and Embracing Grace, Scot McKnight established himself as one of America’s finest Christian thinkers, an author to be reckoned with. In The Blue Parakeet, McKnight again touches the hearts and minds of today’s Christians, this time challenging them to rethink how to read the Bible, not just to puzzle it together into some systematic theology but to see it as a Story that we’re summoned to enter and to carry forward in our day.

In his own inimitable style, McKnight sets traditional and liberal Christianity on its ear, leaving readers equipped, encouraged, and emboldened to be the people of faith they long to be.

The Importance of "Gentle Commerce" for the Pacification (Decline of Violence) in the World


Phys.org posted a recent article supporting the idea that commercial exchange and craft specialization provokes humanity to "work, live, and co-exist" with one another more peaceably than if no economic exchange existed and instead, major populations competed fiercely with one another for the same resources, provisions, and technology.

Interestingly enough, the movie "Divergent" depicts a stratified society divided up within a small, localized region (the ex-Chicago area) measured not economically but sociologically into five groups: the protectors, the servers, the farmers, the law keepers, and inventors. But in any Utopian vision of the world there can, and will be, differences and division that may not be enough to hold a society together.

However, through trade and commerce with the Soviet Union, China, SE Asia, the Mid-East, and Africa, both Europe and the Americas have created conditions for communication,  a forum for the exchange of ideas and ideology, and a good measure of population movement between specialities and regional resources. Even so is global technology also contributing to the necessity amongst humanity to live peaceably with one another against the larger urges to retain fundamental regional beliefs and ignorance.

No country is impervious to discrimination and cultural warfare. We see this with the clash between Western culture and Eastern religions; between tribal identities and familial affiliations; between adaptive democracies and resisting autocracies; between economic fascism and market economics. In fact, wherever a population with large identities meets with another population with similar patriotisms, devotions, or nationalisms, there can always exist a struggle between acceptance, tolerance, and workability vs. dissolution, intolerance, and the refusal to cooperate with one another.

Here in America we see this on a church level as regional denominational bodies and independent church fellowships struggle to recognize each other's right of a pervasive biblical view. Conservatives disallow liberalism while liberals debunk conservatism; hate speech and segregating violence is deemed right-and-just in some faith organizations while the civil liberties of all citizenry are more broadly recognized in others; church creeds and constitutions are constructed to delimit the rights of congregants while in other fellowships they are freely embraced by right of biblical principle.

What the 21st century has brought to mankind is the ability to speak to one another in a deeper, more expansive language of social construction than at any other time in human history. And yet, the struggle of the human spirit to accept change, adapt to population movement, and allow cultural reception is just as large now as it was centuries earlier with America's Southwest native tribal federations (as shown in the article below).

Into these differences of the human mind and heart has come Jesus Christ to invoke God's love and grace against the religious and civil intolerances of the human heart unwilling to adjust, to see, to hear, learn, or listen, to any other diatribes or debates other than its own regional mindsets and resistance.

But to the degree that Jesus was successful in enlarging the human heart of a willing disciple to willfully change and adapt, to that degree was the gospel enlarged and a spirit of peace and cooperation has been able to take root.

But when Jesus' gospel was rejected He was crucified, his disciples persecuted and scattered, and the gospel of God became yet another gospel spoken from the roots of a false tongue and deceiving witness by nay-sayers and opponents, false prophets and would-be followers.

It is into these turbulent times God's church, and the people of this world, must submit to loving one another or reap the whirlwind of their own destruction and demise. To seek to relax religious and ideological principles enough to be able to see the other who is different from ourselves seeking refuge and help rather than wishing to compete or combat. America's border wars must be refashioned so that the innocent may find safety, education, trade, and very existence itself. And America's debate with the Muslim man or woman must become no debate at all for those wishing peace and harmony while holding on to their own faith structures.

America is in a global position of leadership, and leadership by its very definition is that of serving the other, recognizing the other, and helping the other different from ourselves. In this service must be the willingness to be pervasively tolerant and not simply enforcing intolerance by guns and bullets, sharp tongues, and intolerant ideology. Let us learn to beat our weaponry into plowshares and begin the harder task of uniting all men and women. To write civil laws that are equal and just. And to speak a gospel of peace and harmony against a gospel that would divide and dehumanize one's fellow neighbor. This is what it means to "bring in the Kingdom of God" by both the human spirit and the Spirit of God until He comes. Amen

R.E. Slater
August 4, 2014




Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler has documented a 40-year period of violence
among the ancient pueblo people of southwest Colorado. Credit: Washington State University


Researchers see violent era in ancient Southwest

http://phys.org/news/2014-08-violent-era-ancient-southwest.html

It's a given that, in numbers terms, the 20th Century was the most violent in history, with civil war, purges and two World Wars killing as many as 200 million people.

But on a per-capita basis, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler has documented a particularly bloody period more than eight centuries ago on what is now American soil. Between 1140 and 1180, in the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado, four relatively peaceful centuries of pueblo living devolved into several decades of violence.

Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Kohler and his colleagues at WSU and at the University of Colorado-Boulder document how nearly nine out of ten sets of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms.

"If we're identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death," said Kohler, whose study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Yet at the same time, in the northern Rio Grande region of what is now New Mexico, people had far less violence while experiencing similar growth and, ostensibly, population pressures. Viewed together, said Kohler, the two areas offer a view into what motivates violence in some societies but not others. The study also offers more clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to none 30 years later.

From the days they first arrived in the Southwest in the 1800s, anthropologists and archaeologists have for the most part downplayed evidence of violent conflict among the early farmers in the region. A minority raised the specter of violence but lacked a good measure for it.

"Archaeologists with one or two exceptions have not tried to develop an objective metric of levels of violence through time," said Kohler. "They've looked at a mix of various things like burned structures, defensive site locations and so forth, but it's very difficult to distill an estimate of levels of violence from such things. We've concentrated on one thing, and that is trauma, especially to the head and portions of the arms. That's allowed us to look at levels of violence through time in a comparative way."

Meanwhile, Kohler and his colleagues are examining the role of factors like maize production, changes to the climate, and growing population in changing levels of violence. A paper of his published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the Southwest had a baby boom between 500 and 1300 that likely exceeded any population spurt on earth today.

Both the central Mesa Verde and northern Rio Grande experienced population booms, said Kohler, but surprisingly, the central Mesa Verde got more violent while the northern Rio Grande grew less so.

Kohler offers a few explanations.

Social structures among people in the northern Rio Grande changed so that they identified less with their kin and more with the larger pueblo and specific organizations that span many pueblos, such as medicine societies. The Rio Grande also had more commercial exchanges where craft specialists provided people both in the pueblo, and outsiders, specific things they needed, such as obsidian arrow points.

But in the central Mesa Verde, there was less specialization.

"When you don't have specialization in societies, there's a sense in which everybody is a competitor because everybody is doing the same thing," said Kohler. But with specialization, people are more dependent on each other and more reluctant to do harm.

Kohler and his colleagues also cite Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker's thinking in his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

"Pinker thought that what he called 'gentle commerce' was very important in the pacification of the world over the last 5,000 years," said Kohler. "That seems to work pretty well in our record as well."

The episode of conflict in Southwest Colorado seems to have begun when people in the Chaco culture, halfway between central Mesa Verde and northern Rio Grande, attempted to spread into Southwest Colorado.

"They were resisted," Kohler said, "but resistance was futile."

From 1080 to 1130, the Chaco-influenced people in Southwest Colorado did well. In the mid-1100s, there was a severe drought and the core of Chaco culture fell apart. Much of the area around Chaco lost population, and in 1160, violence in the central Mesa Verde peaked. Slightly more than a century later, everyone left that area, too.

"In the Mesa Verde there could be a haves-versus-have-nots dynamic towards the very end," said Kohler. "The people who stayed the longest were probably the people who were located in the very best spots. But those pueblos too were likely losing population. And it might have been the older folks who stuck around, who weren't so anxious to move as the young folks who thought, 'We could make a better living elsewhere.'" Older, or with too few people to marshal a good defense, the remaining people in the Mesa Verde pueblos were particularly vulnerable to raids.

At least two of the last-surviving large pueblos in the central Mesa Verde were attacked as the region was being abandoned. Some of their inhabitants probably made it out alive, but, says Kohler, "Many did not."

Explore further: Scientists chart an ancient baby boom—in southwestern Native Americans from 500 to 1300 AD