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Hello. I’m new to your blog. Can you tell me where the Bible fits into your reasoning?
Hi, thanks so much for reading, Andy.
Could you be a little more specific with your question? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “fit in”.
Well, for me your key lines were: “examine [the faith] metaphysically, using Reason as my guide. My assumption is that faith must coincide with what is both logically and metaphysically consistent. I reject contradictions as being outside of reason[.]”
I’m the same as you in that regard — yet I also strongly affirm the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. Therefore, while I’m committed to logical coherence, at the same time I draw no theological conclusions based on metaphysics alone. God’s word /must/ inform me.
So where in your line of reasoning about the faith do you “allow” (so to speak) Scripture to have a say in the conversation?
Hmmm…I’ve been trying to decide how formulate a response. There is a lot going on in your comment…maybe even more than you realize. So, I guess I will just figuratively point at some spot on the chart in my mind and go from there.
Okay, first, I reject the idea of “authority” as a means to teach; to educate. Authority equals force, and so to claim authority is to ultimately claim the right to coerce by violence or threats of violence my beliefs and behavior. To claim the right to violence over an individual is in essence to claim ownership of that individual; in which case that individual cannot really be expected to learn, because the implication is that he has no right to the ownership of his body or mind. Which renders his existence as a volitional individual irrelevant. In other words, there is no need to appeal to authority to teach, because teaching becomes superfluous. Why instruct when you can simply force?
Next, I submit that when people appeal to biblical “authority” they are really appealing to the right of a select group of men to interpret reality for the masses according to a specific doctrine, which may or may not have anything to do with what’s actually in the Bible. For example, the words “the fall of man” and “total depravity” appear nowhere in Scripture, nor can one even reasonably argue that the bible speaks to these ideas despite its lack of direct mention. Nevertheless, man’s “fallen nature” and “pervasive” depravity form the whole of Christian metaphysics.
In general, I consider the concept of “authority” like I do the concepts of “perfection” and “inerrancy”. Since these are ultimately contextual concepts, their meaning is always contradicted. For example, the Bible is inerrant, we are told, however, I cannot use my Bible to pound nails; thus, its inerrancy is contextual. Out of context, it is in fact, wholly errant, contradicting the appeal to its inerrancy by definition. The same holds true for “perfection” and “authority”. The perfect car is not the perfect candy cane; and the authority of the police is not the same as the authority of a child’s parents.
In some cases, the concept of authority is equated to “expertise”. This is a fine application of authority, however, we must remember that in all areas of knowledge, authority is and must be subordinated to reason. If one’s doctor, who is an authority in the field of cardiology, tells you that you must swallow motor oil to lubricate your heart, you will naturally reject such advice on the grounds that it is absurd. In short, being an authority in a given subject does not give one license to deny reason. One cannot appeal to his expertise as grounds to completely spurn human identity. A human being, as we all agree and understand, cannot digest motor oil. It is contrary to his identity as a human being. Therefore, such advice, regardless of the source, must be false.
In the same way, when it comes to matters of Scripture, the idea of “divine inspiration” and “authority” must be subordinated to reason, which makes them functionally irrelevant with respect to Scripture. Even if God Himself declares something that contradicts man’s identity, and therefore his ability to ascertain reality, man is morally and epistemologically obligated to reject the declaration. Of course I’m betting that God would not declare something as truth if it destroys man’s identity. A declaration which hinders man’s ability to interpret reality must also hinder his ability to define God as God in the first place. Which makes the declaration moot.
Thus, when I read Scripture, I never actually consider ideas such as “divine inspiration”, “authority”, or “inerrancy” at all, because they have no practical application. They are ultimately irrelevant to anything the Bible says; and if we attempt to say they are, then the Bible becomes meaningless because “authority”, “inerrancy”, and “divine inspiration” denies the existential context of individual. For example, if am told that the Bible declares something that cannot possibly be true from the frame of reference of my identity as an individual, the only way I can accept it is if I do so by forced coercion. I cannot really voluntary accept it because I have no context whereby my volition is relevant. The declaration denies me as adequate to grasp and thus act upon such “truth”, because any such actions must be from my mere human context, which, again, is insufficient and irrelevant with respect to “God’s truth”. God’s “truth” trumps human truth, you see. But since my frame of reference is always human, I must be FORCED to accept God’s truth. I cannot verify it as truth because it is outside my context, so I can only act under compulsion. I cannot volitionally choose to accept it as true…for, again, I have no frame of reference.
Take for example the idea of human “total depravity” as a function of man’s very ontological nature. This doctrine cannot possibly be true because A.) it does not specify, by definition, where one’s depravity ends and where it begins. And B.) If man is totally depraved he is epistemologically insufficient to understand the truth of the bible in the first place. He “learns” by the forced coercion of a divinely enlightened priesthood established to compel the blind masses into “obedience”. Man’s pervasive depravity makes him entirely irrelevant to God’s goodness and truth, which makes the Scriptures meaningless to him.
This phenomenon is what I refer to as “Church-22”, and it is a direct consequence of the doctrine of Total Depravity:
The only way to be saved is to realize you cannot by nature be saved, because what is wholly evil cannot be reconciled to what is wholly good. And that the only way to choose to be saved is to recognize that you cannot choose to be saved…and that, again, is due to your sinful nature. You are told God has to choose you, for you, because you are insufficient to make your own choices for good. Which means that you are saved in spite of you, making you entirely superfluous to the salvation process. You cannot experience it, because it can only occur by the entire existential rejection of you, since you are entirely depraved.
This is rank fallacy on its face.
So, while I do read the Bible–and have many times–with great interest and find it to be of immense value to the objective of instructing humanity on the absolute morality of individual life, among other things, I apply it to bulwark and underscore my philosophical premises (i.e. my metaphysics, wherein the human individual is the moral and epistemological standard). I do not look at it as a means to subvert my premises simply because some self-appointed pontiff (God proxy, also known as the “senior pastor”, or whomever else claims a superior spiritual caste) tells me that it has some kind of spurious “authority” over them.
Hmm, what hubris to tell somebody there is a lot going on in their mind, “perhaps more than you know.” Wow, how omniscient of you! Judging by some of your other posts, I would venture you have serious issues with authority. Perhaps an overbearing father-figure is your issue? See how is it is to be omniscient?
“Perhaps”’is the word I used, which incorporates uncertainty. Uncertainty doesn’t fit anywhere in omniscience. Nice try.
You venture I have a problem with authority? No shit, bro.
Good job dismantling the “total depravity” nonsense. But I’m unsure whether you think it’s very pervasive throughout Christendom or not. If so, I assure you it’s NOT. As far as I know, only certain Baptist groups accept it, and as one of the 5 points of Calvinism. (The T in Calvin’s T.U.L.I.P.) Even most Baptist groups reject it, and only hold to the P (Perseverance of the saints or Once Saved Always Saved).
Yes I think it’s pervasive. Total Depravity is a function of Original Sin, which is broadly accepted. Also, I think if you accept one point of TULIP you must accept them all.
I’ve gone to church almost every Sunday for the past 33 years. I even used to go three times per week. I’ve attended several Church of Christ groups, Evangelical groups, a couple Baptist, Catholic churches, and Eastern Orthodox churches. The grand total number of times Total Depravity was publicly accepted and/or promoted? ZERO. Number of times I caught Total Depravity in any of their literature: ZERO. So it’s NOT pervasive or prevalent. It’s a fringe doctrine like Flat Earth. I have never accepted any of the 5 points of Calvinism. I continue to reject them all.
Total Depravity is implicit in the doctrine of Original Sin. If you accept Original Sin,
you accept Total Depravity, whether you call it that or not; whether your church uses that phrase or not.
Original sin-Wikipedia: Humans having inherited a slightly tainted nature up to a severely tainted nature. ONLY the extreme form of those who postulate Original Sin = Total Depravity. Total depravity-Wikipedia. And to say that one equals the other because one came from the other would be the false cause or genetic fallacy. Billions of people over the last thousand years have clearly seen the great difference between the two.
About 50% of Christians believe in Original sin, and 50% reject it. Me: I’m unsure. What I am sure about are things that pertain to my everyday life, such as knowing that I must work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12.
A “Slightly tainted human nature” is an oxymoron
“Slightly tainted human nature” is an oxymoron. What part of the absolute of human nature is evil? There’s no answer because the question is ludicrous. Either humans have an evil nature or they do not. Anything else is manipulative equivocation.
And I’d need to see hard data on the assertion that only half of Christians believe in original sin. I was in five churches over 25 years and they all accepted original sin.
How do you come up with the idea that human nature is absolute? Only God is Absolute. And it’s the either/or fallacy, a lack of logic, to demand that humans have an evil nature or not, when there’s much middle ground. The only ones with a completely evil nature are sociopaths. The rest of us harbor varying degrees of righteousness.
It’s impossible to prove any exact percentage, but let’s start with the early Church. The idea of Original sin was not expressed until Augustine circa AD 400. All Churches of Christ, all United Churches of Christ, all Unitarian Universalists, and all Society of Friends (Quakers) deny Original sin. Orthodox churches avoid the term Original sin, which they only apply to Adam/Eve’s first sin. They say ancestral sin: meaning that nobody is guilty for the actual sin that Adam/Eve committed, but rather inherit its consequences: physical death.
This is NOT the Baptist/Catholic/Lutheran doctrine of Original sin either, though you may want to call it that. All of what I’ve stated is common knowledge. Anyway, that’s nether here nor there. The point is, Original sin and Total depravity are much different. See their definitions in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged).
With Total Depravity, you supposedly cannot do anything whatsoever, and must wait for the Holy Spirit to arbitrarily change you. Yet most adherents of Original Sin, you *must* do due diligence, with great effort, so that the Holy Spirit can change you. It’s the exact opposite!
The only way to assert that man somehow needs salvation or suffers any moral consequence based in any way on the actions of Adam and Eve is to assert that man must be at fault simply because he’s related. He is broken because of what THEY did. What he chooses is irrelevant. Which means he’s evil for simply being born. Which means his root essence, his nature, is evil. There is no admixture of good or evil. And to whatever extent churches make an inexorable connection between man’s need for salvation and Adam and Eve’s actions in the garden, they accept Total Depravity. I don’t care how they or you attempt to equivocate on the matter, it’s Total Depravity.
But if you’re telling me that half of all Christians make no significant connection between man’s salvation and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, then that’s a half I’ve never met in my 25 years in the church.
Finally, if one is capable of doing “due diligence” on his own, then one is capable of making good choices. So what is there the Holy Spirit needs to change? One only needs to make better choices. To assert that one needs the Holy Spirit to change him is to assert his fundamental lack of efficacious moral action on his own. Why? Because by nature he is incapable of it. His nature is wholly insufficient to moral ends. His nature is evil. He is Totally Depraved.
“There is no admixture of good and evil.” Such a statement is not only foreign to Christianity, it’s foreign to logic. To be a sinner is to have evil. To deny being a sinner is to be a liar and/or deluded. Humans, outside of sociopaths, do both good and evil; everyone knows this. Unless you conclude that all humans, all of whom are sinners, will all go to Hell. Foreign to Christianity no matter how you slice it.
Churches do not make a big deal out of the original sinners. Christianity’s emphasis is free will. The vast majority of Christians deny the doctrine of Total Depravity. To call them all liars is anti-Christian and wicked. More either/or fallacy. Holy Spirit does His part; man does his part. Relationships are two way streets. If you want to get the last word in here, fine. I’m done on this subject. Case closed.
If all men are sinners, regardless of their choices, be they bad OR GOOD, then they are sinners because they were born that way. And if sin is evil, then they must be evil by nature…by dint of birth. This is is precisely what it means to be Totally Depraved, and this is what Christians believe; whether they are liars about it or whether they are simply unable or unwilling to see it I don’t know. But it’s the truth, nevertheless.
It would be nice if the square was also a circle, but that cannot happen, no matter how much we stamp our feet and scream and yell and carry on.
And yes, Christians do not make a big deal out of Original Sin. Christianity has always preferred to sweep its rational contradictions under the rug.
I do not think you really understand “either/or fallacy” If one is asserting that A must be A and cannot also be B, that is not fallacy. If man cannot earn his salvation by will and choice then it can only be because what he wills and chooses is insufficient to any fundamental moral outcome. Ans this is because his nature is evil. This IS Christian metaphysics, whether you like it or not.
You suffer from the both/neither fallacy. Man can be good, but still needs saving in spite of this. Man is good, but his goodness is morally insufficient, which is to say that his goodness is also not good. Or we could say that his goodness can never be good enough; which is to say that it can never be TRULY good. Either way, your assertion boils down to: Man can be good but not really.
I really liked our interchange on Time. But like I said, I’m through on this because we’re at an impasse, and this conversation is getting nowhere. But you are welcome to comment on my blog sometime, and hopefully I’ll be welcome to comment on a different thread of yours where we have some semblance of agreement. Take care.