Sorry that I am commenting so late but I have down with a nasty bug for the last several days. It’s tough to comment when sleeping 20 hours a day.
I am going to have to study your ideas on context a bit more because the central tenets of it still escape me. Very abstract stuff and not intuitive for me.
Of course many leaders in historic “Christendom” have used inerrancy to acquire power for themselves. This isn’t too surprising. Men have been using any excuse to gain power over others since the dawn of time. Confucians, Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists have all shown the desire to gain control. Just because something is abused isn’t proof that it is bad.
Okay, you won’t agree with I am about to say and I am not able to defend it. I know I am leaving myself open but what the heck. I have thought a lot about where the freedom in the United States came from, what is the “fountainhead?” I believe it is directly related to the Scripture becoming available to everyone without being filtered through a priest or pastor. The RC Church rightly feared the bible being translated into the native languages of the unwashed masses, they knew it would destroy their monopoly on power. I also know that Luther and Calvin were no Boy Scouts, they had no problem killing dissenters. When the people could read scripture for themselves it put limits on how far Christian “leaders” could push their power grabs. The ability to study scripture for oneself, and have confidence in it, is truly empowering. The U.S. took this farther than any other place on earth and I believe it shows.
I also don’t believe that enlightenment intellectuals were a source of freedom as many contemporary atheists claim. The French Revolution was the fruit born of the Enlightenment tree and the blood flowed, there was no freedom. Ditto for the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, etc.
I do believe in the inerrancy of scripture but not the inerrancy of creeds, popes, priests, reformers, or anyone else. I’m running low on energy right now. I look forward to your next post.
Sorry to hear that you have been unwell! I hate being sick. It is the worst! I am wishing you a speedy recovery.
Please do not feel any obligation to this blog or to me. I appreciate your comments and I appreciate you reading here when and if it is convenient and pleasurable for you to do so. Beyond that, I have no standards by which I judge anyone’s participation. You are always welcome to comment and read when you feel like it, and only if you feel like it. You owe me neither excuse nor explanation. I am sure you already know this; I just want to be clear that my expectations for when and why anyone comes here extend no further than their own desire and time to do so. I appreciate all your participation thus far. Any more is just gravy. 🙂
With respect to your answer to my question, “What is your standard of TRUTH”…I prefer not to think in terms of “rebuttal”, as it were, but in terms of the general “discussion”. Rebuttal to me sounds…hmm, antagonistic, and that’s not the vibe I’m going for (well…not in the comments section, that is LOL).
It would be reasonable for me to begin with this; for what follows is not nearly as concise nor poignant, I don’t think:
Without man, Jesus Christ is wholly irrelevant. Man’s life gives Christ meaning. Christ is Savior. Savior of whom? Of man. Which means man’s life, man’s existence, is the prerequisite for Christ. Unless man exists first, Christ cannot exist. Further, and more viscerally, Christ was born of a human woman. And without the humanity of Christ, there is NO CHRIST. So to me, Christ as the Truth is the same thing as declaring MAN as truth. And since all men are individuals, the logical conclusion is that human INDIVIDUAL’S are TRUTH…or, more to the point, they are the standard of TRUTH.
Incidentally, this is a nod to your third question “do I define man individually or collectively. I would argue that there is no such thing as a “collective”. The only salient, material and actual objects which comprise the “collective”, or the “party”, or the “government”, or the “people”, or the “workers” are individual human beings. The collective then, like any other idea, can only be good and consistent with truth when it is subject to the absolute standard of the individual SELF. The individual human is actual. The “group” is conceptual. Non-actual. Thus, the group is always subservient to the right of the individual to BE him or herself absolutely.
In short, without man, there there can be no Christ; there can be no “Inerrant Word of God”; there can be no God defined as God. This is a truism which Christians constantly reject, and this is why Christianity has been, for centuries upon centuries, an enemy of life. And why governments predicated upon the idea of Christian doctrinal “authority” have always liquified civilizations…dissolving them into rivers of blood. You thrown into the pot the French Revolution as the fruit of the Enlightenment? And I will raise you every other war which claims Europe as its epicenter, from the Crusades to the Cold War, as the fruit of Augustinian and Reformed “orthodoxy”.
WHY is Jesus your standard of TRUTH?
It is well and good to say that Jesus Christ is the truth, but what is the root assumption(s) which leads one to accept that? What foundational premises are satisfied when Jesus becomes the yardstick by which everything man integrates cognitively via his senses is judged as “good” or “bad”, “true” or “false”? What is it that Jesus Christ, as the absolute standard of all TRUTH, ultimately validates as absolute and infinite, perfect and perpetual, to the exclusion of ALL else?
The answer is: Himself.
And that is a problem.
Because if Jesus, Himself, alone, is the standard of absolute TRUTH, then the standard is by definition outside of man. Which means that your life, my life, are no longer relevant to the equation of TRUTH. This means that there is no logical line to be drawn between human life and TRUTH itself. And if this is the case, how can man ever be in a position to know and thus confirm the TRUTH? We have just conceded that the standard by which TRUTH is known as TRUE is NOT man. We just conceded that the standard of TRUTH–that absolute by which anything is affirmed or denied–is completely exclusive to his very existence. Which includes his mind, which “knows” and “confirms” ideas. This is utterly in perfect keeping with the Reformed Primer on Spiritual Tyranny. Man is never in a position to apprehend TRUTH by his very existential nature. ALL of man is beyond truth.
Thus, the only incentive left for man to live “righteously”, since it cannot be reason or knowledge, is fear. Fear of violence. Or, more precisely, fear of the ecclesiastic divine mandate to violently punish–to steal from, to blackmail, to murder, to banish, to torture–those who do not obey their “authority”. And of course there are examples upon examples littered throughout bloody history of God’s “chosen people” committing all of those atrocities in the name of absolute “truth”, and then some.
If Jesus is the absolute standard of TRUTH, then humanity and TRUTH are inexorably separated. That is, you are only “true” as a human being insofar as you conform to the standard of TRUTH. But of what relevance is man’s conformity to TRUTH then? The standard of TRUTH is that which defines what is true and what is false…and, by extension, what is good and what is bad. If man is not the standard, then man’s “truth” is not defined by his own SELF, his own existence, but by something outside of that existence. But since man’s existence, man’s SELF, is the only context he has by which to know anything at all, man’s entire epistemology (how he knows what he knows) is irrelevant. Man isn’t the one who gets to decide or concede or reject or refute, for that is solely the prerogative of the STANDARD. Man can think and do what he thinks and does, but NONE of that contributes anything to his morality or his existential worth value (his truth). Man is wholly at the mercy of the standard of TRUTH. That standard reserves the sole right to determine who is true and good and who is not according to itself. What you DO and THINK is immaterial. YOU don’t get to declare anything at all with any reasonable expectation that what you believe and profess is true or good because what is true and good is nothing that you, within the context of your own SELF, can possibly recognize. The standard is the only thing that gets to say what is good and true, and since YOU–that is, your existence and the context of your SELF–is not the standard you can never be in any position to declare anything true or good at all. Nothing you think matters; nothing you profess matters. In fact, all you think is automatically void as non-truth because YOU don’t get to say what is true. To pretend that you can observe reality from the point of view of a standard that you concede is wholly outside of yourself is the apogee of pride and damnable arrogance. You become nothing more than a mindless extension of the standard…only true and only good insofar as the standard says; and whether or not the standard changes its definitions from moment to moment, or seems to contradict itself and its own declarations, or becomes the very epitome of rational capriciousness as a rule, cannot ever warrant your criticism. Once the standard which defines TRUTH is proclaimed to be beyond the context of man’s own SELF then man forfeits his mind and his reason and utterly surrenders his epistemology to that which claims ownership of him by claiming the sole right to decide between right and wrong, good and bad. Whether or not the standard actually judges correctly is completely beyond your own senses and thus your ability to say.
So, yes…what I am saying–and this would have gotten me burned at the stake a thousand years ago…heck, more recently than that–is that it is MAN who ultimately gets to observe and thus claim Jesus Christ is TRUE. MAN is not subject to Jesus’s plumb line of reason; Jesus is subject to MAN’S. But here is the catch: only if man’s plumb line is reasonable. Meaning, only when man’s definitions of TRUTH and GOOD are rooted in an absolute objective standard of TRUTH which man can rationally define according to a context which is utterly knowable and categorically and infinitely undeniable. That context of course is the existence, the very being, the IS, of the individual material (read, actual) SELF…his or her life. Man is only in the position to rightly define and know and describe and worship God when man can claim that his understanding is efficaciously vetted according to a wholly and absolutely reasonable standard of TRUTH. And it is this fact which does NOT make the TRUTH of God’s Holy and magnificent SELF a product of human epistemological and moral relativism. You declare that Argo is saying that man gets to define God, God does not get to define man. And you are correct…that’s exactly what I am saying. But I am also saying that in order for man to define God without blasphemy or ignorance man must defined Him according to reason…NOT according to the fickle vacillations of man’s philosophical subjectivism. For the TRUTH is indeed objective, and thus is God’s great power and glory, but only when the TRUTH is vetted against an objective standard. That which can and indeed MUST be infinitely and observably TRUE by each and every human being alive (those that are not cognitively compromised, that is). And that, again, can only be man’s SELF.
If you declare that the standard of TRUTH is outside of you, and thus is not something that you can grasp within your own existential frame of reference (which is absolute…you are always you), you are never in a position to either confirm or deny that the what the standard declares is actually true, or not, or is actually good, or not. You can no more confirm or deny what the standard declares as truth and goodness than you can BE the standard, itself.
Only the standard gets to to qualify and/or quantify anything according to truth and morality. And to pretend that somehow you can be true and good by being “conformed” to the ontologically external standard of TRUTH is ludicrous. You cannot be conformed to the standard of TRUTH, you can only be defined by it. And as I said, the definition of your moral worth and the truth of your existence from moment to moment is never something in which you get to have a say. All YOU are is that which the standard declares at any given instance. You are never in a position to cry “fair” or “foul” according to your own insufficient and existentially deficient judgments. Remember, the standard reserves the absolute monopoly on truth and the absolute right to declare it according to is own utterly self-contained understanding. You are never privy to its definitions because they are a direct function of ITSELF; and since you are not it, you can’t possibly understand. Only the standard understands itself, because its understanding IS itself.
The instant individual man is declared subject to a standard of TRUTH outside of his own SELF, man’s existence becomes a contradiction to TRUTH; a limitation to its “absolute-ness”. Which makes man an anathema to it, which makes the destruction of man the greatest moral good. Man by his existence is an affront to TRUTH, because he is utterly outside the standard. Destroying man then clears the way for all TRUTH to reign. For how do you integrate man into a standard of TRUTH which is absolute and perfect only when it EXCLUDES all else (because in order for anything to be absolute, it cannot, by definition include anything else)? The answer is that you do not. You destroy man in service to that TRUTH which cannot include him.
So then what are we to make of it when Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”?
The first thing we do is jettison any irrational interpretations such as “absolute TRUTH is outside of man”. Without man, Jesus Christ is wholly irrelevant. Man’s life gives the Christ meaning. Christ cannot give man’s life its meaning because, God as the Christ, existed only AFTER man was already established as a completely separate agent from his Creator. So, strictly speaking, without man’s efficaciously defined existence, Christ could not exist. It is logically impossible to say that that which comes AFTER man is the source of man’s TRUTH. Man’s TRUTH had to be established first before Christ, Himself could have any meaning or relevancy.
The second thing we do is establish a rational and therefore legitimate standard of TRUTH. Which can only be individual human life, as I have said, ad nauseam. For what is the one thing required above all for anything in man’s life to be declared true or false, good or bad, or given any kind of qualification/quantification at all? It is man’s LIFE; man’s root existence as an absolute and self-contained SELF which is innately capable of discerning between what is SELF and what is NOT SELF (OTHER).
In other words your very existence is the prerequisite for ANYTHING you observe, hear, feel, touch, and thus integrate into your canon of Knowledge. Therefore if anything is claimed as TRUTH which does not require first the existence of the human being (the agent to whom everything which has been revealed is revealed) then it cannot possibly be TRUTH, because there can be no TRUTH which does not require the existence of man in order to be known by man as TRUTH. Any truth which does not require the existence of man is an irrelevant truth…and an irrelevant truth cannot be defined as “true” at all. What is true can only actually be true if it can be efficaciously and practically observed to affirm the standard by which all things are defined. “Irrelevant truth” is thus an oxymoron…a contradiction in terms. What is irrelevant can neither affirm nor deny any standard, therefore it is wholly outside of any reasonable definition.
Further, how can man know what is true if he doesn’t exist first to know it? And if his existence is required for all TRUTH to be known as TRUTH what then must the standard be by which all things are known objectively and rationally and efficaciously as true?
Man’s life is the only verifiable and rational standard of TRUTH. The absolute need for individual human beings to exist before they can claim anything as being “true” means that the standard of the TRUTH is the individual SELF. The absolute of the human SELF is the only absolute which man can reasonably known. Existence is the very means by which all people know God. This makes existence itself the plumb line for how we know what is good or bad, true or false. Therefore any doctrine which proclaims that man must be subject to an “authority” which claims the right to define him and to own him must be rejected. And doctrine which claims that man is the material fruit of depravity and thus is incapable of doing good as a function of his innate and inherent nature must be rejected. Any doctrine which claims that man is inherently incapable of apprehending TRUTH and GOOD must be rejected.