I have been having a debate with Paul Dohse on his blog http://www.paulspassingthoughts.com recently (link- http://paulspassingthoughts.com/2013/11/21/biblical-metaphysics-more-free-writing-notes/#comments). In this debate I have asked several times for him to tell me what he thinks the standard of TRUTH is. I know he is a “biblicist” (a proponent of biblical inerrancy), and so I feel like he wants to say “Bible”…but he won’t do it. I’m not sure why, but I have a pretty good idea.
You see, if he says anything other than “man’s LIFE”, which is my unequivocal standard of TRUTH, this puts TRUTH outside of man, which puts authority outside of man’s life as well, because what is absolute truth must be considered to have a MORAL monopoly on the force that is authority. And if truth is outside of man and authority is outside of man, then Paul has no actual, objective, nor reasonably defensible grounds for savaging the Calvinists like he does. Why? Because he concedes the exact same premise: absolute truth is outside of man, absolutely, and therefore, man can NEVER be in a position to know ANYTHING. And if man can by his very existential being, never really know anything, then man cannot ever question any idea at all, because…how the hell would he know? If truth must be bestowed, somehow, upon man, and cannot be learned, then how do we know upon whom it has been bestowed? Therefore, who the person is who gets to be the “authority” over truth, and thus has the moral right to force others into right thinking eventually just becomes an argument that goes like this:
“God said I’m right!”
“No, He didn’t! That’s impossible!”
“Oh yeah, how do you figure!”
“Because He told me I’m right!”
In BOTH Paul’s and the neo-Calvinist’s ideology the Bible is the source of all truth and authority. Which means IT is truth and authority. Thus, the fight isn’t really over any significant change in how we understand reality, it is merely a fight over who gets to say what the Bible really means. But, since in BOTH schools of thought (Paul’s and the neo-Calvinist’s) the Bible is the very proof of its own truth, it is impossible for them to actually KNOW what the Bible really says, because the Bible, being absolute truth outside of man, isn’t actually telling them anything at all. It is its own end. If the Bible IS TRUTH, and does not require the standard of man’s life as a yardstick for its TRUTH, then the only logical purpose of the Bible is simply to BE the Bible. The Bible is true because and only because it is the Bible. Any interpretation of it thus insofar as man seeks to apply it to his life (as if that’s even possible) is categorically irrelevant.
Thus, Paul’s fight is simply this: who has a more “convincing” form of the exact same argument. Who is better able to persuade people that their opponent is liar? And if that doesn’t work, well…guns are considered the great equalizer. If you can’t beat ’em, shoot ’em. And that’s what it always, always, always boils down to when we concede that ANYTHING outside of individual human life is the standard of truth.
So, this latest exchange has got me thinking. Is it time to shake the dust…for those of us really and truly interested in a faith that has an end and an identity beyond fear and ignorance…is it time to look for a harvest elsewhere. Is it time to concede that Christians today are just too far down the rabbit hole of orthodoxy to be led out. Has the rope gotten too short?
Possibly. For me…it is discouraging. I’ll admit, I am pessimistic. The Christian identity is rank FEAR now, which is why they continue to retreat into their caves on the mountains, like the Israelites. They huddle together in packs and cling to their insane ideas like “literal six day creationism” or “the Word is the Authority”…ideas that are simply indefensible to anyone else, even a “secular” world which, despite is many flaws, at least concedes in general that the senses are the root of truth, not “revelation”. I hate the Platonism of science, but at least scientists pay lip service to observable evidence. The observation by man is entirely irrelevant and illusory to Christians today…your senses deceive you; what you see washes nothing with “truth”. And the pack lashes out violently and blindly at anyone who would dare challenge the idols on their mantles. Look at how man people are run out of town on a rail from sites like Wartburg Watch for daring to offend the sensibilities of the blog hosts, or the e-Pastor, or the readers by proclaiming the irrationality of “orthodoxy”.
Anyhow, here is an e-mail I sent to my friend, John Immel. I often seek solace in John’s heavy intellect. In a sea of Christian insanity, he is one of a smattering of faces of reason. A brilliant person, he reminds me that Christians don’t have to be woefully ignorant and stubborn to the point of utter spiritual death. It’s just that most of them are.
That sounds mean and arrogant. Too bad. That is how much I hate it when you call the “Bible” the “Word”. I know what you are doing. You are calling the Bible, God…removing all distinctions between Him in the Heavens and the talisman you worship. And by doing that, you remove the distinction between you “interpretation” and God. And by doing that you make YOURSELF God. And that is not cool. The Bible ceases to lead people to their lives and to God and leads them to YOU instead. That’s…wrong.
Here’s the letter.
That’s a great point. Just enjoy learning…enjoy the pursuit of truth. I tend to get wrapped up in the results; where, really, all that really matters is that I can now properly define MY life. I cannot define anyone else’s for them. So, yes, we should just enjoy being US, and understanding that this is exactly the point of existence. Existence, life…are ends of themselves.
Unfortunately, you are right…most people don’t buy that, so sooner or later they are GOING to want to force you to NOT be you, by whatever primary consciousness they declare is truth.
I see this a bit on some blogs…it is not a matter of intellect, it is a matter of ideology. They merely disagree because my conclusion is not convenient to their argument–that MAN’S life is the prerequisite for ALL truth; which is axiomatic, for how can you concede truth if you don’t exist FIRST, which means that YOU must be YOU first, before even God can be truly God in any way that He can rationally be defined as “God”. If God is the God of the living, this presumes that LIFE is a prerequisite for Him being man’s God. But this idea is an anathema to them, because they concede that if there isn’t any authority or truth outside of man dictating the sum and substance of his life for him, then there will be rank moral relativism; an orgy of sin. Well, look around…has the Platonist assumption led to peace on Earth anywhere?!!! If the standard of truth is man’s life, then the standard is knowable and observable; it is also utterly metaphysically and epistemologically consistent. It is also completely compatible with a Creator God because now God can actually be KNOWN as God; thus, He has a purpose for man which is not only knowable, but practically applicable.
I ask, what is the standard of TRUTH.
They will not answer me. Because it can only be MAN, and they , like so many, are just terrified to admit this. But their beliefs are FAR more terrifying, because if it is something else, then ultimately man MUST be sacrificed in service to the EXTERNAL truth; because truth is absolute and immovable. In order for truth to be absolute, everything in existence must be laid down in service to it. In other words, the death of everything is required. This is why they I suspect have such a hard time saying that truth is MAN…because if truth is MAN then they believe that this somehow strips God of His power. This is of course is completely backwards…a product of the evolution of Platonism as the singular philosophical foundation for all of western thought. The truth is that God’s power can only be truly revealed, loved, worshiped, adored and honored when it can be known. In a construct where truth is outside of man, it is existentially removed from him, and thus, man is never in any position to know truth. Without this ability, man can never really know God, or, even worse, be known by Him.
I am done with all “discernment blogs” from now on. I am over it. There are perhaps a smattering of Christians here and there that “get it”, but most are just too far down the rabbit hole of orthodoxy to see any light. And, the constant appeal to the cul-de-sac of Platonist logic disguised under a the altruistic facade of “biblical inerrancy” is wearisome. Once we concede that the Bible is the “Word”, we have set up an idol…we have made God a thing to be handled by special priests “called” to “ministry”. We have removed the distinction between God and a book…which, even if it were God’s very words to man wouldn’t make those words GOD, Himself. Even God’s words must affirm man as the standard of GOOD and TRUTH in order to be true; so even if the book were written by God, Himself, it would still need to be held to the standard of LIFE for it to be both reasonable and relevant. But there I go again, offending the poor abused…the neo-neo-Calvinist (as I am starting to think of the new discernment crowd) virtue in a vacuum. So anyway…yeah, the “Word”… really, this just means we have removed the distinction between God and those people who would hold it aloft and cry “My Power, My God!”. This is idolatry and paganism, and the implications are profound. I am too old to be a hypocrite any longer.
I love Christ…I utterly reject the epistemology of Christianity, as it were.
There are some pretty cool philosophy blogs I’ve been checking out lately. I think my time is better spent over there. There is a better harvest for Christ than can be found amongst today’s Christians.
Isn’t it always that way?