A Riper Harvest for Christ than Amongst the “Christians”: Is it Time to Shake the Dust of our Shoes?

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?

15 thoughts on “A Riper Harvest for Christ than Amongst the “Christians”: Is it Time to Shake the Dust of our Shoes?

  1. Hi David,

    Which part of the post specifically concerns your question? It’ll help me explain better if I know which section. Thanks.

    But I will say this: I don’t want to discuss what I think the “Word” is (specifically as referred to in John 1) at this point..that would require a couple of posts in and of itself. For now, I am concerned with the deification of the Bible by the consistent use of this title–because, make no mistake, the use of “Word” to refer to the Bible certainly has psychologically punitive outcomes and this, I submit, is on purpose–and the serious metaphysical and epistemological destruction this wreaks upon man’s existence.

  2. I’ve never thought of the Bible being called the word of God as being a deification of it. But I wasn’t raised in a very Trinitarian church so the idea of “The Word” as a title of deity is not close to my thought.

  3. However, its clear that when Psalm 12:6 says “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” its not talking about Psalm 12:6 itself. Or when Acts 19:20 says “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” its not talking about the book of Acts itself. The word of God as it is conceived here is a message from God which was initially oral before being written down, and all these references refer to the oral message. (Certainly, in neither of these references is Jesus as “The Word” intended, and it would be sheer madness to argue that he is intended here.) Well, the Psalms could be referring to the Torah, but Acts is clearly referring to an oral message about Jesus. The problem, of course, is that over time an oral message will become corrupt and be changed. So it must be written down to preserver it from corruption. But a written message is also subject to corruption. Once the written form is solidified it is not so easy to corrupt (in the original) but it is fairly easy to corrupt in the original language prior to solidification and its always easy to corrupt in translation.

  4. In fact, I would argue things go the opposite from what you are alleging. Its not that Christians have titled the Bible “the word” to make the Bible into deity like Jesus the Word. Rather, John gave Jesus the title The Word to make him as important to Christians as the written word in the Torah and Prophets was to Jews. The reverence for the word came long before anyone thought to use The Word as a title of deity. Even if it was hellenistic Jews who first conceived of the Word as a title of deity with their Logos or Memra substitute for God, a secondary being or angel that God sent out to communicate with men because he was too high and holy to be found lowering himself to speak to men directly. Still, Memra as a title of deity comes after reverence for the written word. What we have was a move to substitute a Being for a document, not the other way around. But Catholic Christianiy undid that with its canonization of the New Testament. In the early 2nd century, the canon was Old Testament and the Lord as Bauer shows in Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. They didn’t have the gospels or Paul yet, but only the Old Testament as a witness to Jesus (for all the prophecies and such) and an oral tradition about the life and importance of Jesus. Catholic Christianity squashed this by substituting a written document, the New Testament, for the Lord in the equation “the archive [Old Testament] and the Lord” which was the rallying cry of Christians before.

  5. But what was the message of Jesus? I’m going to die so you can do whatever you want and be saved by faith alone? No. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So the whole “man is the yardstick of truth” stick will need to find a new champion since that ain’t what Jesus taught. Its closer to what Paul taught, but still not really, since what Paul really taught was subjugation to himself, to jump exactly when he said. If today he said “faith alone” you got on board and tomorrow he said “keep the ordinances as I delivered them” you got on board, and you stuck with him through every reversal of position; that’s what Paul taught. Nobody in the Christian tradition taught that “man is the yardstick of truth” — none of the OT prophets, not John the Baptist, not Jesus, not Paul, not nobody. Thomas Jefferson maybe, but nobody in the Christian tradition.

  6. That nobody in the Bible taught that “man is the yardstick of truth” doesn’t automatically mean that man is not. It does mean, however, that is is rather absurd to speak of converting people to the dogma that “man is the yardstick of truth” as if its converting them to Christ, or in other words to say that convincing people this is “a better harvest for Christ than can be found amongst today’s Christians.”

    Now Christians are very explicit that they view your position as the opposite of truth. Take for instance this statement from the Statement of Faith of Ad Fontes Academy: Classical Christian School “The Bible is the infallible Word of God, and as such it, and not man, is the standard of truth.” Even Christians who don’t accept that the Bible is “the infallible Word of God” would make Jesus as a person to be the standard of truth, and Jesus’ person is still something external to us. Your position is, therefore, not Christian in the least. It is Deistical at best. Not that this makes it wrong automatically. But what is wrong is pretending you can validate your position by appealing to the name Christ. If your position is true, then argue it out. Don’t try to validate it with the name of someone who most certainly did not teach it. This is like Muslims trying to validate Mohammed with the false claim that Jesus prophesied of his coming!

  7. David,

    Thanks for your comments. You’ve thrown a lot at me, so I’ll try to keep my response as brief as possible. Usually, I don’t have much luck with that.

    The first argument concerning the use of the label “Word”…well, I think you are misunderstanding me…we are approaching the issue from different positions. I have no problem with the colloquialism “word” to describe the Bible. But that is not the issue in question. Twice you mentioned that you didn’t see the problem with Christians calling the Bible “the word”. In both cases you failed to capitalize “Word”. That indicates that you are missing my point. If I am not mistaken, the only time “Word”, is mentioned in the Bible, with a distinct capitalization of the noun, is in first John. Clearly this use is meant to deify the notion of “Word”, making God and the Word exactly the same thing…removing all metaphysical and physical distinctions between the two ideas. Him (God) and the Word are utterly metaphysically ONE. Thus, the persistent use of not “the word”, but the “Word”–capitalized–is I submit is an appeal to the divine nature of Scripture. The logical flaws and the epistemological failures in this argument I have discussed in several articles on this blog. They are far too numerous to go into here. By making the Bible God, man has been removed utterly from the interpretive process…his life must be subordinate to “the Word”. The problem is that, since man, being NOT God, cannot possibly be in a position to interpret Him, how can he ever hope to understand and apply the “Word” since clearly he is incapable of apprehending that which is utterly metaphysically distinct? How would you presume to interpret and apply God, Himself to your life. If you say, his ideas are GOOD. You are not talking Him, you are talking “ideas”. If I say “Why are they GOOD?” You would say, because they are the words of LIFE. Who’s life? MAN’S life. God’s ideas are not for Himself, they are for MAN. This means that as far as the Bible is concerned, LIFE is the standard by which we know it is true. It is GOOD because it promotes man’s SELF.

    And the Bible being “true” and the Bible being “God” are entirely separate issues. One is rational. One is impossible and asinine.

    But if the Bible is “God”, and man cannot be in a position to interpret God, then who can FOR him. The “authority” of the divinely ordained mystics fills the vacuum of punitive force, and man is a sacrificial animal to their will to power, nothing more.

    Your second argument misinterprets my position entirely. You are merely parroting the same knee-jerk reaction I get every time I mention man as the standard of TRUTH: moral relativism. On the contrary, moral relativism is a product of removing man from ethical relevance and worth completely by putting him outside of TRUTH, and thus making his entire existence a big fat moral failure by definition.The sum and substance of man is “sin”, and since all concepts are absolute (there is no “thing” which is “sin”…sin is a purely a conceptual abstraction to define the ethical behavior of an action…outside of this context, it is absolute, which is how most Christians think of it according to their “sound” doctrine) then man is absolutely and infinitely SINFUL. This makes man’s entire metaphysical and physical identity SIN, This makes the root of all evil man’s LIFE. Thus, the categorical death of man is required in order for TRUTH, which is also GOOD, to reign. This makes suffering and torment and fear and pain the gauge by which you can measure how “good” you are as a human being. The more you are horrified by your LIFE, the more God loves you. It is a contradiction in terms that has no rational basis.

    You are incorrect in your evaluation of my ideas. Christ is perfectly consistent with my philosophy because God as incarnate flesh is THE visceral proof that humanity is NOT depraved at its root but is GOOD at its root. The fact that Jesus comes in flesh must mean that God does not revile flesh, but adores it. Thus, human beings, themselves, are not “sin” but are GOOD at their root as God’s creatures. Sin enters the world whenever human beings begin to act in service to an external standard of “truth” outside of themselves (outside of their lives) because this necessitates the rejection of human LIFE in service to some conceptual, abstract, non-actual “law” which man cannot by definition observe (sense), which must mean man cannot possibly be its ontological equivalent. Thus, this new “law” becomes absolute truth…and the only way an absolute truth, being infinite and OUTSIDE of man can be revealed as wholly absolute and infinite is to eradicate man, as he represents a limitation to its absolute-ness. This cannot stand. Absolute truth outside of man cannot be contradicted by man’s existence. Man will die.

    Thus, in EVERY philosophy where man’s life is NOT the standard of TRUTH men are sacrificed as wholly depraved offenses to the primary consciousness which intends to exist alone and unlimited. This makes man’s death the only possible GOOD he can do. Get the hell out of the way, so that TRUTH can reign unopposed.

    Finally, you will never, ever win an epistemological debate with me if your premise is that your life is not the standard of truth; the very standard by which you know ANYTHING. Every idea you concede; everything you know, have known, or will know, is a categorical function of your life, FIRST. There is no such thing as a truth that precedes you that you can rationally define. In order for you to know anything, you must exist first. This is true for every human being on the planet. Without man’s life, there can be no TRUTH, by definition. Because what is truth to you, or anyone else, without the context of your LIFE by which it can be observed and thus defined as TRUTH?

    It is nothing. And there is no argument you can offer to the contrary because as soon as you say or think “I believe” or “i disagree” or “this is the case” or “that is not the case” you concede my premise. I win the debate before the you let out your first breath. How? Because the prerequisite for you disagreeing with me is YOU. If you start an argument by appealing to the notion that you don’t necessarily need to exist in order to make your appeal to what you know as TRUTH, you have just committed an irreconcilable logical fallacy. There is no point in going any further. You cannot possibly concede that TRUTH is outside of your life, which is YOU, and then proceed offer any rational defense of this idea, nor an alternative standard. Even if you say “Jesus is the standard”, or “God is the standard”, you cannot have any legitimate way to explain how you know that or how that can be so. If God’s life, God’s SELF is the standard of TRUTH, then by definition, your existence is superfluous. God doesn’t need you to work to attain a standard that He already IS, by default, without you. The only rational reason God could possible create you is for you to be YOU, then. Your existence is the end of itself. This is not moral relativism…this is a proclamation that the LIFE God created is GOOD and it deserves to LIVE as a full working out of God’s purpose for creating it in the first place. You can know and trust God precisely because He is wholly committed to the fullness of YOUR life, and the lives of all your fellow human beings by which you can observe that you are rational, and capable of apprehending reality and thus TRUTH.

    Man is the standard of TRUTH because there can be no other standard. Period. Full stop.

  8. Any other standard of truth makes your existence-your life-irrelevant, by definition. You cannot work for what God already IS, if HE is the standard of truth. And further, what possible reason could God have for creating a being who cannot even WORK for the standard in the first place? Man must be wholly “saved” er…in spite of himself. How is this argument in any way logical? If all God does for you must be in SPITE of you because you are utterly removed from truth then what is the point of your existence? God would have spent his time far better doing something else, methinks. If all God does for you must necessarily be in spite of you then what can possibly be YOUR value? You cannot have any. So God is responsible for creating a completely irrelevant, valueless agent just so He can be it, for it, so that it can be “saved” contrary to all sense. Because if if God is already Himself, and He is truth, and He is thus perfect, what possible motive could He have for effectively BEING something else, particularly when that thing is categorically useless and worthless in the first place? Why contradict Himself that way, by putting Himself in a position to be people, FOR people, in order to “save” people, who can only ruin God’s perfect existence because they have absolutely zero value at all?

  9. You’ll notice I never accused you of being wrong. I’m just puzzled at how you think this lines up with the teachings of Jesus.

    I think as much as you can’t understand my position, I can’t understand yours. For example, your argument is that unless man and man alone (or man’s LIFE) is the sole standard of truth and there is no truth at all external to man then “This makes man’s entire metaphysical and physical identity SIN.” I wager you were raised Calvinist. I encountered Calvinism relatively late in life. I was raised more on the position of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew that a good man brings forth good things out of a good heart and an evil man evil things out of an evil heart. So I can’t comprehend any assertion that “makes man’s entire metaphysical and physical identity SIN” (especially if this is claimed for all men) any more than I can any assertion that makes the totality of everything a man does in life good (especially if this is claimed for all men). All men are not good; all men are not evil. There are both types. I think perhaps in trying to escape the overly pessimistic view of Calvinism that everyone is pure evil you’ve gone to the opposite extreme that everyone is pure good. Surely there is a happy medium.

  10. “Man must be wholly “saved” er…in spite of himself. How is this argument in any way logical?”

    That business about light your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven squashes this Pauline fetter which enslaves men to sin.

  11. Argo, I like that you challenge what I’ve been taught. Thinking is hard, but something I desperately need! You are championing individual worth. These discussions are of great benefit to me & I’m sure others are reading & pondering as well. The more interaction, the better we understand, even if it’s getting old on your end.

    Remember, the arena of ideas is rough! Keep going. If you weren’t on Paul’s blog, I would have never come across your ideas. Same for John Immel as well.

    I hope you both continue to comment at Paul’s & JA’s. You will find the hungry. And also those who disagree. The blogosphere is a great place to present ideas. Disagree or misunderstand today, agree or understand tomorrow.

    You care. You don’t keep it to yourself. I am grateful. Thank you. YOU matter! 🙂

    Typing this as I am & have been quite sick for the past few days – that’s how much you matter.

  12. A Mom,

    I hope and pray for a speedy recovery! I am impressed that you can string together such lovely thoughts in the midst of feeling so horrible. I know that when I’m sick (I’m a huge sick-wimp!) my coherency goes right out the window. LOL Some might argue that I must be sick a lot,then!

    Anyway…your words are as beautiful and cleansing as a spring rain. Thank you! A spirit like yours surely causes the meadows to rise colorful in heaven.

    I have been reading your comments and following the evolution of your understanding and ideas on the blogs over these last months. My jaw is dropped at the degree to which you have so quickly discerned the difference between love and tyranny, Christ and false doctrine, human worth and the death of man in service to those who’s message is autocratic and bludgeoning.

    It is YOU who is making the difference…YOU who is saving the minds and lives of so many you encourage and defend.

    Rock on.

  13. So, God came as a man not a book.

    I had a sort of theology squabble with me brother (an elder in a non cal mega) and he asked me what my beliefs were since I was giving him my Platonic wrath of Christianity. I told him whatever gives man the most responsiblity for his behavior. And what better to prove that the case than God becoming a human!

  14. That is right, Lydia. In addition, God coming as a man is the supreme divine argument that God does not, in fact, reject the “material” world, as the Gnostics of the time would have argued. I find it interesting how often God zigs when Platonism zags. The coming of Messiah does many good things for those of us who are interested in a belief system that does not ultimately rely on self-loathing as the catalyst for “good” behavior. Jesus satisfies the Law by his death…for the Law inevitably requires the death of man in service to its own “absolute truth”. Jesus, being known as the “Son of Man”, or the second Adam, dies for all humanity which has “fallen” by its mass acceptance that morality is outside of itself. His resurrection declares the life of man the actual plumb line of all “GOOD” and all “TRUTH” (one cannot exist without the other), and shows that the end of the Law was always man’s life. If you look at the OT and really study the law, LIFE as the plumb line for the law is God’s whole point. The more you accepted the innate goodness of your fellow man and yourself, and treated them accordingly, the more the Law was satisfied. And in those ritualistic aspects of the law which were not always kept…well, God demands mercy not sacrifice. That should have spoken volumes to the Jews.

    Still, it is sad to see how many people continue to concede the Platonist assumptions inherent in the Law (which is now is functionally the same thing as the whole Bible to most “orthodox” Christians) when the inevitable role of Messiah and his message concerning the Law is not considered. To think that the Law can be the end of itself seems a bit strange to us who have now come to understand that without man’s LIFE there can be no meaning to the Law. The simple logical conclusion to this axiom is that the standard of morality then cannot be the Law but must be man. This seems intuitive, but unfortunately..well, people seem to LIKE hating themselves for some reason.

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