Thursday, November 2, 2006

Ms. Katharine Jefferts-Schori Interview

A recent interview on the NPR program 'Here and Now' had the new Episcopalian primate of the United States Katharine Jefferts-Schori. I'll admit I have a hard time referring to her as a 'bishop' only because it is a heresy in my Christian faith to change any teachings of Jesus to accommodate radical secularists. The interview touched on a previous TIME magazine interview that Ms. Jefferts-Schori gave. In it when asked if Jesus was the only path to salvation she answered, "We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box". Robin Young (RY) who interviewed Ms. Jefferts-Schori (KJS) pinned her down by asking, "they say Scripture says that Jesus says he was The Light and The Way and the only way to God the Father." Ms. Jefferts-Schori went into alternate-universe spin mode...
KJS: Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. Umm... that is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through... human experience.. through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus. RY: So you're saying there are other ways to God. KJS: Uhh... human communities have always searched for relationship that which is beyond them.. with the ultimate.. with the divine. For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus. Uhh.. uh.. that doesn't mean that a Hindu.. uh.. doesn't experience God except through Jesus. It-it-it says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their.. own cultural contexts; they relate to God, they experience God in human relationships, as well as ones that transcend human relationships; and Christians would say those are our experiences of Jesus; of God through the experience of Jesus. RY: It sounds like you're saying it's a parallel reality (emphasis mine), but in another culture and language. KJS: I think that's accurate.. I think that's accurate.
"Parallel reality" Wow.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)
I'm so glad I'm a Catholic. To read the rest of the interview click here. (Hat Tip: CaNN) UPDATED: Episcopal church loses 115,000 members over a three year period. For more click here.

26 comments:

Walt D. said...

I don't wish to start a fight, but I think your treatment of this issue is most insensitive. You may as well be laughing at a homeless person.

"I really feel bad for you Anglicans having to put up with heretics such as Ms. Katharine Jefferts-Schori." I would suggest that you use the word "heretic" sparingly; when has calling someone a heretic ever ended well, for Catholics especially?

"Her daughter was mentioned but I didn’t read anything about a father… er excuse me, human paternal unit." Wow! That wasn't gratuitous at all. Oh, and for your information, a "parental unit" refers to both parents.

And here: "I'm so glad I'm a Catholic." Indeed....

But fear not, I won't base my future opinion of Catholics on you; most that I know are human. Oh, and I do sincerely (for real) apologize for finding it necessary to villify you, but some bloggers should be held accountable for their ignorance, sometimes, maybe.... [I'll visit your site again soon if you have something to say in response to me.]

Walt D. said...

Oh, a "paternal" unit. I guess I must give you the benefit of the doubt; I suppose you might have actually meant to sarcasticly correct yourself from saying father with an adjective that also means father. My mistake....

Tito said...

Walt D.,

The 'heretic' comment.

When a person that holds a highly public position in society such as Ms. Jefferts-Schori, what she says and does carries a lot more weight than the average person.

So when she espouses a doctrine that goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ, such as homosexual licentiousness and woman priests, she needs to be called out for who she is.

Thanks for reading my blog, hopefully you will read more about the scriptures and Tradition to better understand where the Church is coming from.

Oh, and thanks for the mulligan on "paternal" unit. Be it as it may, that was a sarcastic comment I was attempting.

Walt D. said...

I appreciate the coolness of your response. However:
a) Christ never said a word about homosexuality, or sexuality for that matter!
b) The women were the first told to spread the word of the resurrection; therefore, the first apostle was... a woman.

To my knowledge, Christ says nothing conclusive against a woman being a priest, per se. Feel free to explain it to me if you so desire. But Pope John Paul II said "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." This and other things imply to me that the exclusion of women in the priesthood is based on tradition, not scripture. Don't get me wrong, if it is an article of tradition I would certainly not be so hasty as to discard it (I wish the gay bishop thing could have been held off, as the Lambeth Conference wished), however we Episcopalians based our judgement on all three pillars of Tradition, Scripture, and Reason. None can stand alone in our tradition.

Tito said...

Walt D.,

Here are three excerpts from the Holy Bible concerning the ordination of women into the priesthood:

and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
-- Romans 1:27

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,
--1 Corinthians 6:9

understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
--1 Timothy 1:9-10

Recently in the Apostolic Ordinatio Sacerdotalis letter by Pope John Paul II in May 22, 1994 the late pope said the “Priestly ordination, which hands on the office entrusted by Christ to his Apostles of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful, has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone. This tradition has also been faithfully maintained by the Oriental Churches”

Pope Paul VI had the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith write the Declaration Inter Insigniores which “recalls and explains the fundamental reasons for this teaching… …and concludes that the Church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination."

Back to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis Pope John Paul II says “other theological reasons which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ's way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time.”

As Pope Paul VI later explained "The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology-thereafter always followed by the Church's Tradition- Christ established things in this way."

Back to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis Pope John Paul II goes on to state “In fact the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God's eternal plan; Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, "through the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord's way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15). The Apostles did the same when they chose fellow workers who would succeed them in their ministry. Also included in this choice were those who, throughout the time of the Church, would carry on the Apostles' mission of representing Christ the Lord and Redeemer.”

Pope John Paul II makes an excellent analysis of the precedent that Jesus set up from the start regarding his own mother “the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe.”

Pope Paul VI even warned the Anglicans concerning of the ordination of women to the priesthood: “reminded Anglicans of the position of the Catholic Church: "She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his Church."

You should read Mulieris Dignitatem and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis for a better understanding of why the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium states why only men are to be priests.

Walt D. said...

All of the evidence you give seems, to me, to point tradition rather than scripture. Other than the very real and, perhaps, legitimate fact that Jesus chose no women among his 'Twelve,' everything seems to say something to the effect of "this is how we've always done it." The fact that women were not among the twelve only illustrates the Church's adherence to a tradition that happens to originate in scripture. Again, I'm not knocking tradition, but Christ does not admonish the idea of a female priest directly. His choice could just have easily represented cultural practices, just as Schori talked about the question of circumcision back in the day. The question should be: "Is it really necessary to God's plan that the Twelve were all men, or was it just incidental?" For many, there seems to be no strong evidence that it is not incidental.

And the three scriptural references appear to me to be completely irrelevant to the issue. The only times women are even mentioned in the three verses are in the first verse when it describes men giving them up, and in the third verse when it talks about the "murders of mothers." How do these verses have anything to do with female priests, or the lack there of? Perhaps you meant for these to talk about homosexuality, and got your scripture mixed up (an honest mistake), because at least one of these certainly does make reference to homosexuality. However, I will here suspend my arguing of that issue for if, and when, you are able to formulate your argument more properly.

Tito said...

Walt D.,

It seems more that you are more Lutheran than Episcopal since you seem to adhere to 'sola scriptura'. Remember the Church draws from both Tradition and Scripture. Technically the Bible was not formaly recognized in its current form until the 4th century. Prior to that, if you want to read about the early fathers of the Church, there is no mention of woman priests anywhere. And there is a lot of sources to choose from such as St. Athanasius to name one.

Taking your 'logic', if the Bible doesn't state in specific terms that we can't drop a nuclear weapon, then it's ok to drop a nuclear weapon. But if you read the scripture carefully it says to 'not kill', even though it doesn't mention 'nuclear weapon' anywhere in the Bible.

That is your line of thinking. Take a moment to digest this because there is a Tradition (with a capital 'T') of having only men priests AND you can explicitly see it in the Bible when Jesus had numerous times to mention to his apostles that women can become priests-- which he didn't state at all.

Walt D. said...

You are saying that "[this] is your line of thinking," but clearly it is yours as well. Your rationale is the same as mine, because you believe that what I'm saying is that women should be priests solely because Christ never says we shouldn't, but the end of your argument implies that we shouldn't have female priests because he never mentioned that we should. The nuclear weapon analogy concerning my views is not valid PRECISELY BECAUSE the Bible says to not kill; you're essentially purporting that my logic would allow people to kill, but then you prevent my "'logic'" from running its course by claiming for your own argument the fact that the Bible admonishes killing. But speaking of unethical uses of rhetoric, I was going to send the below comment before I noticed your most recent post. Hopefully you will be able to discount my thoughts here as easily as you seem to have done with your most recent comment....

Pardon my interjection here, but I saw you say "pass me some cool-aid" in another post of yours. Do you ascribe to Mr. Bill O'Reilly's ideology? I sincerely hate to change the subject, but... well I can't rightly continue these conversations if you respect him. This is certainly in poor form on my part, but I will not be able to continue. Put most bluntly, if you cannot see through O'Reilly's rhetoric, than... well, it would be fruitless to reconcile any other differences we might have. "I'm a watchdog... I'm looking out for you...." This protectionism is, it's just dangerous if people buy into it. I'm sorry to be as I am; I'm sure I'm belittling you here if you do consider him reasonable. I don't really wish to discuss this actually. I'm sorry. I wish you the best.

Tito said...

Walt D.,

I like O'Reilly but he is a poorly formed Catholic so anything to do with bioethics I pretty much discount him on that since he is completely wrong on that subject in too many ways to waste space on.

Your comments are discounted concerning that. It doesn't bother me either way, just as long as there is no profanity in any of these posts.

Anyways in 1 Corinthians 11:2 Paul tells the Corinthians “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” Again in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 it states “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” And another time in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 it also states “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”.

All of which is kept by the authority of the Catholic Church which it states in the Holy Gospel of St. Luke 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." ‘Rejects him who sent me’, ie, you?

Keep reading in Matthew 18:17-18 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Here Jesus not only speaks of disciplining those that deviate from Tradition he also says explicitly the power to legislate, ie, the Magisterium’s letters and encyclicals concerning (for example) why women can’t be priests.

Matt said...

Walt,

In my opinion, the major point of heresy in Ms. Jefferts-Schori is not her acceptance of women priests, because that has been accepted by her faith "tradition", and is not explicitly forbidden in scripture, they just don't know any better. The major points of her heresy revolve around her modernist attitude that teachings can evolve away from what Christ passed on to His apostles. This in it's essence denies the divinity of Christ, by suggesting His teachings are of the world and can be disregarded at will. This would include the teachings against homosexual behaviour which is mentioned extensively in the Old and New Testaments, as Tito has well established.


b) The women were the first told to spread the word of the resurrection; therefore, the first apostle was... a woman.


"I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." This and other things imply to me that the exclusion of women in the priesthood is based on tradition, not scripture

...
His choice could just have easily represented cultural practices, just as Schori talked about the question of circumcision back in the day. The question should be: "Is it really necessary to God's plan that the Twelve were all men, or was it just incidental?" For many, there seems to be no strong evidence that it is not incidental.


I hope you've taken the time to read the documents Tito pointed out to achieve a fuller understanding of the true Christian teaching on the matter, but let me point out a few gaps in your arguments.

1. A woman was in fact the first witness to the resurrection, and they were certainly told to spread the word. What does that have to do with apostleship? You seem to not understand the distinction between disciples and apostles. All followers of Christ are disciples. Only those chosen by Christ, and subsequently by the apostles themselves posess the apostolic authority, and charisms. This is clearly established in the New Testament (Jn 15:16, Jn 20:21, Mt 28:18-20 , Mt 16:18, Acts 1:20, Acts 1:25-26, Eph 4:11, Eph 2:20, 1 Tim 3:1, 1 Tim 3:8, Tim 1 5:17, Tit 1:5).

2. What were the teachings of the Church based on before the scriptures were written and assembled, a process which was not completed until the 4th century? As Tito has said, the faith was passed to the apostles, who passed it on to their successors to the present day. It is clear from the teachings and actions of the early Church that women were not ordained to the priesthood or to be bishops (successors to the apostles). Sacred Tradition does not derive it's authority from Holy Scripture, Holy Scripture derives it's authority from Sacred Tradition.

3. Christ overthrew any and all cultural practices that were not fit to Christianity. He had no hesitation in doing so. If in fact it was right and just for women to be priests, He would not have allowed the situation to be that way. Remember, the New Testament priesthood is in the order of the Old Testament priesthood, which was clearly only open to men. Furthermore, there was several most worthy women, who He would have ordained if it was the right thing to do - first and foremost, Mary His Mother, the Mother of God, preserved from original sin. If ever there was a woman who could be a priest it was her... but, He did not do so, because the priesthood is a male vocation.

4. There are deep theological relationships between the priesthood, the Eucharist, the tabernacle, the Church and Christ. These rely on the important sign that Christ was a man, and requires priests to be men. I don't expect you to understand these truths, but this is no mere "cultural" issue.

5. St. Paul seems to suggest strongly that men are the leaders in the Church, and women are not to preach there. (
1 Cor 14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:11-12).

I hope this helps you to understand.

God Bless,

Matt

Walt D. said...

Matt,

Tito has not well established the scripture about homosexuality, actually. Even so, I believe a critical eye will reveal the irrelevnence of at least some of those references to homosexuality. For starters, Sodom and Gomorrah was about violence and RAPE, not homosexuality. The people seemed most happy to rape Lot's daughters. And Romans, well that letter is a classic representation of an argumentive letter. And if you know anything about classical persuasive letters, you should know that the comment about homosexuality is in the part of the letter which concedes common interest or norms that are mutually agreed upon between the author and the intended reader. Consequently, one may deduce that the matter of homosexuality is peripheral to the main point of the letter; in other words, it is unimportant. And though Paul is speaking against homosexuality here, in light of the above, I do not believe that it is part of God's message here.

And again, when exactly did Christ say anything against homosexuality? In my opinion, these obscure references to homosexuality do not adequately evince that homosexuality is a sin in God's eyes. I mean, many things in the Bible are preposterous if taken literally, one must concede.

1) Don't talk to me about the distinction between a disciple and an apostle. Do you know anything about the definition of the word "apostle," or of its Greek derivation? Go to http://www.etymonline.com/. There is perhaps a distinction between "apostle" and "Apostle," but did you see it capitalized in my comment?

2) I'm sorry, but saying that women can't be priests because they haven't ever been priests isn't a compelling argument to me. Perhaps I am simply incapable of revering "Tradition" as you do.

3) So slavery was, and still is apparently, fit to Christianity? It is necessary that some things were considered peripheral to Christ's specific message of salvation, and were consequently lacking in his Gospel. That does not mean that we should not strive for works and development outside of that central message, because I believe that my Church is not yet perfected. I believe that there will always be potential for growth, and indeed change.

4) I'm displeased that you find saying "you're to stupid to understand" to be an exceptable argument. Your ego will one day be confounded, I think. I pray that I may never resort to something so petty. This insult is the last I desire to hear from you, my "brother in Christ."

5)Agreed. Such simply doesn't sway me, however.

You talk about the "modernist attitude that teachings can evolve" and so forth. And yet you neglect to realize that Paul's (among others) revelation occured after that which Christ gave to his apostles. Paul's works are themselves an evolution of the Gospel. I believe in a dynamic godhead. I believe that the dynamism inherent in the world is reflected in the dynamism of the relationship that the deity has with the world's inhabitants. I'm sure you will retreat to saying "that's not what the Church teaches," as you have been frequent to do thus far. And that is fine, but again, I believe in progression; I believe that progress is possible. And I believe in thinking on my own, at least to some degree; this is called "critical thinking," and it is a part of "reason." If you are capable of anything other than regurgitating what others have said in the past, I suggest you do so from time-to-time. If you can't bring yourself to do it in matters of religion, I hope you can somewhere else. It is a wonderful gift He has given us.

If you have taken offense, I cannot be truly sorry this time. Your apparent lack of any desire to discriminate any potential crudeness from your words has left me with a desire to reciprocate such social laziness.

Was it you or I who failed to reconcile this between us? Reconciliation is, I believe, part of Christ's message. However, it is part of a continuum that begins with the function of discrimination, seperatio (yes, I did mean to leave the "n" off), logos, that sword that protrudes from Christ's mouth in Revelation. Maybe this is not a failure of reconciliation, but rather a success in seperation.

I will not return here; write me off as you will.

Matt said...


And though Paul is speaking against homosexuality here, in light of the above, I do not believe that it is part of God's message here.

And again, when exactly did Christ say anything against homosexuality? In my opinion, these obscure references to homosexuality do not adequately evince that homosexuality is a sin in God's eyes. I mean, many things in the Bible are preposterous if taken literally, one must concede.


Well, if you don't hold to the Christian belief that the bible is the inspired word of God, and that it is all true, then I guess you could take out those portions you find offensive and attribute it to the human author alone. Of course, it's clear from this, that Paul is speaking with the authority of Christ as Christ said of the apostles - "who hears you, hears me".

1 Cor 9-10 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God.

Now the effeminate is the submissive participant in a homosexual act, the lier with mankind is a sodomite. Clearly this is meant with force of authority as an apostle. This position has been held by the Christian Church from the apostolic times to the present in continuity, it is never considered a novelty. It would be completely inconsistent to condemn fornication while permitting homosexuality. The bible is clear, sexual relations are reserved to marriage, the definition of which can be found in Genesis - one man and one woman.


1) Don't talk to me about the distinction between a disciple and an apostle. Do you know anything about the definition of the word "apostle," or of its Greek derivation? Go to http://www.etymonline.com/. There is perhaps a distinction between "apostle" and "Apostle," but did you see it capitalized in my comment?


The etymology is inconsequential, the bible makes a clear distinction between the followers of Christ, and those chosen by Him initially, and subsequently by the original 12 to lead the Church, and dispense the sacraments.



2) I'm sorry, but saying that women can't be priests because they haven't ever been priests isn't a compelling argument to me. Perhaps I am simply incapable of revering "Tradition" as you do.


Then you ought to toss your bible too, since the only reason you consider it an authority (or perhaps you don't) is because of Tradition. Nowhere in the New Testament do any of the documents assert themselves to be scriptural, this is a teaching past on by Sacred Tradition.


3) So slavery was, and still is apparently, fit to Christianity? It is necessary that some things were considered peripheral to Christ's specific message of salvation, and were consequently lacking in his Gospel. That does not mean that we should not strive for works and development outside of that central message, because I believe that my Church is not yet perfected. I believe that there will always be potential for growth, and indeed change.


You are mistaken, the Church does not favor slavery, it never fit into Christianity. What Christ and the Church have always taught, is that slave or free, salvation is available to all. Please help us to understand on whose authority the teachings of Christ may be changed????



4) I'm displeased that you find saying "you're to stupid to understand" to be an exceptable argument. Your ego will one day be confounded, I think. I pray that I may never resort to something so petty. This insult is the last I desire to hear from you, my "brother in Christ."


Be displeaased if you like, take offense at nothing. There was no insult meant, and you know it. You are not Catholic, and the theology I'm referring to is deeply Catholic, to develop it here in a few paragraphs is not possible. If you want to learn, I can provide some excellent references.


5)Agreed. Such simply doesn't sway me, however.


He says it pretty strongly, but then again, if you don't hold scripture to be authoritative, I can understand that you don't wish to accept it.


You talk about the "modernist attitude that teachings can evolve" and so forth. And yet you neglect to realize that Paul's (among others) revelation occured after that which Christ gave to his apostles. Paul's works are themselves an evolution of the Gospel. I believe in a dynamic godhead. I believe that the dynamism inherent in the world is reflected in the dynamism of the relationship that the deity has with the world's inhabitants. I'm sure you will retreat to saying "that's not what the Church teaches," as you have been frequent to do thus far. And that is fine, but again, I believe in progression; I believe that progress is possible. And I believe in thinking on my own, at least to some degree; this is called "critical thinking," and it is a part of "reason." If you are capable of anything other than regurgitating what others have said in the past, I suggest you do so from time-to-time. If you can't bring yourself to do it in matters of religion, I hope you can somewhere else. It is a wonderful gift He has given us.

Ok, so you don't ascribe to an eternal and unchanging God which is a tenet of Christianity. God is perfect, the only cause a reasoned being changes is to become more perfect. For God to change would mean He is imperfect, He is not, so change would be contradictory.

Paul's letters are not an evolution of the gospel, they are a distillation, as well as possibly additional direct revelation from Christ. Remember, not everything Christ said was written down, and in fact, none of what He said had been written down at the time of St. Paul. Spare me your condescension and speak to my arguments if you are a man of reason, instead of dismissing them with "doesn't sway me"... what kind of critical thinking is that?


If you have taken offense, I cannot be truly sorry this time. Your apparent lack of any desire to discriminate any potential crudeness from your words has left me with a desire to reciprocate such social laziness.

Was it you or I who failed to reconcile this between us? Reconciliation is, I believe, part of Christ's message. However, it is part of a continuum that begins with the function of discrimination, seperatio (yes, I did mean to leave the "n" off), logos, that sword that protrudes from Christ's mouth in Revelation. Maybe this is not a failure of reconciliation, but rather a success in seperation.

I will not return here; write me off as you will.



I take no offense, I guess your arguments are deflated and you do not wish to abandon them. Sorry to hear that.

Matt

Walt D. said...

I don't know why I return here. You are mistaken about my "deflated" argument.

Yes, I believe that God is not perfect. That is indeed part of what I was saying. Once you realize this much, saying that "he is not [imperfect], so change would be contradictory" is a circular argument. It begs the question, but I can't fault you for that, since you didn't know that I had already recognized the consequences of my beliefs.

And yes, I do consider the Bible fallible. However, I still think that divinity is revealed therein. But knowing what that truth is requires discernment, in my thinking. What you seem to imply is that interpretation, discernment, and scholarship concerning the Bible is completely unnecessary, at least it is unnecessary now, since everything has already been solved.

It would be absurd for me to believe something simply because it says that it is true, or someone else said it was true. At least base your belief on something like: "because I feel it's true in my heart." At least then you would have a personal justification. Why do you even study these doctines when, at the end of the argument, you are believing it simply because it says that it is infallible? I mean would you believe me if my only argument was "because I am right?"

My arguments are not deflated. However, if you are only going to believe something that is stamped with the approval of the Church, then my arguments will never sway you; I may as well give up. If I were to base my beliefs solely on faith and tradition then no one would ever be able to convince me of anything by way of argument; without reason, there would be no method by which I might discover that I was wrong.

Walt D. said...

Oh, and you said that slavery was not part of Christianity. And yet you say that the Bible is completely true, "that it is all true," in the Christian belief? Hmm, I'd like to see how you reconcile those two claims.

(Leviticus 25:44-46)

Oh I see, that one doesn't count. The author of Leviticus was just kidding there. Gotcha....

Walt D. said...

I couldn't resist indulging once more.

I told you to "write me off as you will," and sure enough, you did write me off by saying: "I guess your arguments are deflated and you do not wish to abandon them. Sorry to hear that."

How characteristically demeaning of you! I must be a psychic or something; I suppose you didn't intend to offend me with that insult either.

Matt said...

Walt,

Yes, I believe that God is not perfect. That is indeed part of what I was saying.

Thanks for clarifying this, it is fundamental to your position, so we must address it first. Can you explain what God's flaws might be? And what additional knowledge he might gain? Were would he learn? He created the universe with all it's matter, all of it's natural laws, out of nothing, that seems to demand a certain perfection to me. Since you reject the divine authority of scripture, I won't bother citing it any further in this discussion, but suffice to say there are numerous references to the perfection of God in the Old and New Testament. In fact, it's the recognition that the Jews believed God to be infinite and perfect, that drew many Greeks to the religion. As Aristotle taught, by reason alone, there is but one God, the prime mover, who is infinite and perfect. I guess you take issue, not only with Christianity, but reject also the Aristotelian metaphysics? What is your worldview then, if you can't trust in your god, as he might error? Is there only one god? I guess if he's not perfect and infinite, then there could be others, right? Why not worship many gods, then, to cover the bases? One of them might be better than the other.

What you seem to imply is that interpretation, discernment, and scholarship concerning the Bible is completely unnecessary, at least it is unnecessary now, since everything has already been solved.


I don't know where you infer this, I think I said nothing like it. Many things are solved, many are not, especially those writings which are prophetic. Furthermore, scripture is full of depth that is yet to be explored beyond some of the basic truths that we do understand.


It would be absurd for me to believe something simply because it says that it is true, or someone else said it was true. At least base your belief on something like: "because I feel it's true in my heart." At least then you would have a personal justification. Why do you even study these doctines when, at the end of the argument, you are believing it simply because it says that it is infallible? I mean would you believe me if my only argument was "because I am right?"


I don't believe that the Bible is true simply because it says so, nor something as foolish as "I feel it's true in my heart". My reason tells me it's true. The argument goes something like this:

1. The Bible is authentic because of the numerous independent sources which bring it to us today in virtually identical texts. It's far more consistent than any other ancient texts available. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that the OT is virtually unchanged in 2000 years.

2. The Bible is true because of the witnesses who risked death and died for it's message. The Apostles and numerous early Christians would not have martyred themselves if they didn't believe it to be true, and since they were there, they would know it's truth. These events have numerous independant sources, even hostile ones, that confirm the truth of the historical events around the time of Christ, including the willingness to die for His message. So many men would not lay down their lives for a lie.

3. The bible tells us Christ created a Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time, and we know the bible is true. We know that the only Church that could be the one founded by Christ is the Catholic Church, this is clear from all historical sources. Thus the Catholic Church is the one True Church and is guided by the Holy Spirit.

4. The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, declares that the whole of the Christian Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired word of God and are infallible. Since the Holy Spirit can't error (being God), the bible must be the inspired word of God.

Sadly this leaves a gap for those who are outside of the Catholic Church. This is part of the reason that there are over 30,000 denominations, each of them with their own set of beliefs, all trying to rebuild what the Church has always had... the Truth.


Oh, and you said that slavery was not part of Christianity. And yet you say that the Bible is completely true, "that it is all true," in the Christian belief? Hmm, I'd like to see how you reconcile those two claims.

(Leviticus 25:44-46)

Oh I see, that one doesn't count. The author of Leviticus was just kidding there. Gotcha....


Umm.... I'd hate to burst your bubble, but in case you were unaware, Leviticus is part of the Old Testament. Not all of the Old Testament laws are carried over to Christianity, concession for divorce, for example is rejected by Christ (remember, it was always God's plan, divorce was a concession). As to the lesson we can find in Leviticus 25:44-46, Christ opened the covenant to the whole world, so we are all brethren (even though some are separated), I see an admonition not to oppress my brethren by might.

"I guess your arguments are deflated and you do not wish to abandon them. Sorry to hear that."

The only reason to depart from the field is if you are vanquished, or you wish to avoid being vanquished which you surely would be if you stayed to fight. I can think of no other reason? Perhaps you'll provide one?

God Bless,

Matt

Walt D. said...

You are essentially asking how I can justify my belief that God is imperfect. Is that right?

Well answering this is difficult, but I'll give it a shot, be it brief. How did the serpent get into God's perfect state of bliss, Eden? Keep in mind that when you argue the existence of a devil that is seperate from YHVH, you are essentially arguing the existence of a second, evil, deity (bye-bye monotheism). Indeed, why did God create evil and suffering at all? If you believe that we have free-will in heaven as well as Earth, and yet that there is no evil in heaven, then you can't very well give the "free-will" theodicy; if free-will and perfection can exist mutually in heaven, why not on Earth?

You might say that He did so to seperate those who are unworthy of heaven. But if He made the Earth like heaven, then you wouldn't have to worry about the wicked of the Earth, because all would be both free and good. And can you really say that designing the universe to be inherently a reward system demonstrates perfect benevolence?

Put simply, God's imperfection is my theodicy. And if you can't concede the plausibility of this, then I don't imagine there's a reason for me to explain how he might gain knowledge. It is not for lack of answers; I just don't want to spend time and energy explaining something that you will never really entertain.

If you haven't noticed, most of my numbered bullets are criticisms of your corresponding arguments....

1. Well, no actually. I'm taking classes under Dr. James Bowley, who edited "The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance" Volumes 1 & 3 (Volume 3 specifically concerns biblical texts in the Qumran Library), among other scholarly/archeological works in his field. While the versions of these books are very similar, the modern versions are not "virtually unchanged" from the Dead Sea Scrolls. And the Qumram community didn't even consider many Old Testament works important at all; the library only contains works that they saw as being important. In that sense, the "Bible" is significantly different; similarly, what one calls "the Bible" is incredibly subjective. Samaritans only recognizes the Pentateuch; Jews have twenty-four books in their Tanakh; Protestants have sixty-six books; you have seventy-three books (correct me if I'm wrong); the Eastern Orthodox church has about seventy-seven books (with a 151st psalm); and the Ethiopian Christian church has about ninety books. If you want to say the "correct" one is the one that most closely adheres to Tradition, I guess the Samaritans are it. At the very least, Eastern Orthodoxy is as much "traditional" as is Catholicism (deciding which is "Sacred Tradition," however, is subjective! Unless you think you can "argue" the sacredness of something; in which case you would be most incorrect [non-rational conception of the "sacred": Rudolf Otto]).

2. "The Bible is true because of the witnesses who risked death and died for it's message... they would know." So no one has ever been martyred outside of Christianity, and those who might have certainly didn't believe that they were correct in their beliefs? This argument of yours is quite poor, in my opinion. What do you even mean by "true?" This is a VERY important question! Do you mean historically accurate? Do you mean it's metaphorically true, like a fable? The difference between how you answer this question and how I would is probably the most fundamental difference between us (I could be wrong though).

3. "We know that the only Church that could be the one founded by Christ is the Catholic Church, this is clear from all historical sources." Can we say "begging the question" much? This statement of yours is purely subjective. I doubt Eastern Orthodox Christians see it as being so "clear."

4. (read below)

Earlier you said: "Well, if you don't hold to the Christian belief that the bible is the inspired word of God, and that it is all true, then I guess you could take out those portions you find offensive and attribute it to the human author alone." And yet you criticize me for pointing to the fact slavery is acceptable in the Bible. Who is taking "out those portions [that they] find offensive" now?

Even so, your argument about Christ having opened the covanent to all peoples is, I think, a sturdy theological argument; much better than many of these fallacies which I'm forced to explain to you: Christocentric, but still pretty good and reasonable.

But as you said in number 4: "...the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired word of God and are infallible...." Being relatively liberal, I hate to say "flip-flop," but can you make up your bloody mind about the Old Testament? How can you say that the Old Testament is "infallible," but also say that parts of it are irrelavent? If you can't concede that saying that parts of it are irrelavent is the same thing as saying that it is "fallible," then you should not wonder why it is that I wish to give-up on you.

I suppose it is possible that I am escaping the issue by desiring to give-up this conversation. But is it not similarly avoiding the argument to say "I don't expect you to understand these truths," or saying it is necessary for me to read some treatise to understand rather than trying to explain it to me. I could very well shake you off in the same manner.

Another thing that I neglected before, because I was trying to be brief, was the matter of the word "apostle." You say that the word's Greek etymology is irrelavent, but I say etymology is among the most important subjects when thinking about the context in which ancient text was written. The book was original composed nearly 2000 years ago, and yet you say that the ancient meaning of the language in which it was written is irrelavent?!

Additionally, I should go ahead and say that I don't believe in free-will. This fact is VERY relavent to the discussion of my personal theodicay, which I talk about at the beginning of this comment. The issue of psychological determinism may be, perhaps, too large to begin arguing here, so I'm not going to start it (but if you want to change the conversation, go ahead).... I feel like I'm the only person who is really being honest about my beliefs. I say what I believe, while you seem to only be talking about "truth." But I guess you'd see that as a non-issue.

Matt said...

Walt,

where to begin?


You are essentially asking how I can justify my belief that God is imperfect. Is that right?

Well answering this is difficult, but I'll give it a shot, be it brief. How did the serpent get into God's perfect state of bliss, Eden? Keep in mind that when you argue the existence of a devil that is seperate from YHVH, you are essentially arguing the existence of a second, evil, deity (bye-bye monotheism). Indeed, why did God create evil and suffering at all? If you believe that we have free-will in heaven as well as Earth, and yet that there is no evil in heaven, then you can't very well give the "free-will" theodicy; if free-will and perfection can exist mutually in heaven, why not on Earth?

You might say that He did so to seperate those who are unworthy of heaven. But if He made the Earth like heaven, then you wouldn't have to worry about the wicked of the Earth, because all would be both free and good. And can you really say that designing the universe to be inherently a reward system demonstrates perfect benevolence?

Put simply, God's imperfection is my theodicy. And if you can't concede the plausibility of this, then I don't imagine there's a reason for me to explain how he might gain knowledge. It is not for lack of answers; I just don't want to spend time and energy explaining something that you will never really entertain.


While this may be an interesting worldview,it is decidedly different from Christianity. I can't teach you all this theology right here, but I will cover a couple of salient points.

God desired to make creatures with free will, as a reflection of His own divinity. In doing so, He fully knew that some of the creatures would chose to disobey. Did He create disobedience, ie. evil? No, it was a natural possibility when He granted free will, He neither created it nor desires it. All suffering is a consequence of sin ultimately, so none can be attributed to God's active will, but to disobedience. Now, God has the power to end suffering, but He does not do so because of the greater good which comes of it, just as a loving parent will allow a child to scrape their knee from time to time.

Now, as to free will, I can't explain how free will can still be exercise once we have the beatific vision, how could I? It is a mystery. I do know that we exercise free will in order to reach heaven (or hell), and that I understand all to well.


If you haven't noticed, most of my numbered bullets are criticisms of your corresponding arguments....

1. Well, no actually. I'm taking classes under Dr. James Bowley, who edited "The Dead Sea Scrolls Concordance" Volumes 1 & 3 (Volume 3 specifically concerns biblical texts in the Qumran Library), among other scholarly/archeological works in his field. While the versions of these books are very similar, the modern versions are not "virtually unchanged" from the Dead Sea Scrolls. And the Qumram community didn't even consider many Old Testament works important at all; the library only contains works that they saw as being important. In that sense, the "Bible" is significantly different; similarly, what one calls "the Bible" is incredibly subjective. Samaritans only recognizes the Pentateuch; Jews have twenty-four books in their Tanakh; Protestants have sixty-six books; you have seventy-three books (correct me if I'm wrong); the Eastern Orthodox church has about seventy-seven books (with a 151st psalm); and the Ethiopian Christian church has about ninety books. If you want to say the "correct" one is the one that most closely adheres to Tradition, I guess the Samaritans are it. At the very least, Eastern Orthodoxy is as much "traditional" as is Catholicism (deciding which is "Sacred Tradition," however, is subjective! Unless you think you can "argue" the sacredness of something; in which case you would be most incorrect [non-rational conception of the "sacred": Rudolf Otto]).


The point I was trying to make was that, the remnants of the Dead Sea Scrolls verify the accuracy of the current versions to a great extent. The fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls are incomplete is inconsequential. The elements we have verify the authenticity. Sacredness was not part of my first point, so I don't understand why you brought it up.



2. "The Bible is true because of the witnesses who risked death and died for it's message... they would know." So no one has ever been martyred outside of Christianity, and those who might have certainly didn't believe that they were correct in their beliefs? This argument of yours is quite poor, in my opinion. What do you even mean by "true?" This is a VERY important question! Do you mean historically accurate? Do you mean it's metaphorically true, like a fable? The difference between how you answer this question and how I would is probably the most fundamental difference between us (I could be wrong though).



A nice little strawman you build -- you deftly avoid responding to my argument. The fact is that the apostles and early martyrs where LIVING WITNESSES to the life of Christ, and so many of them chose to die rather than deny the truth of His teachings, it's inconceivable that they would do so for a lie. Later martyrs where not living witnesses to the to the life of Christ and thus can only attest to what they were taught, this would by apply to people who die for any message that they did not personally witness.

By true I mean the common word. True. Something that is not false. Please, I'm an ignorant common man and I lack your great learning, so let's stick with the common meaning of words, shall we?



3. "We know that the only Church that could be the one founded by Christ is the Catholic Church, this is clear from all historical sources." Can we say "begging the question" much? This statement of yours is purely subjective. I doubt Eastern Orthodox Christians see it as being so "clear."


Actually, the Orthodox and Catholic Church's don't disagree on the historical foundation of Catholicism, and it's continuity. They do disagree on the concept of the primacy of the Church of Rome, and a few minor theological items. They certainly disagree about the precise historical events which separated them from the Church of Rome, but that's to be understood.

So no, it's an objective statement, to which you have not objectively responded.



4. (read below)

Earlier you said: "Well, if you don't hold to the Christian belief that the bible is the inspired word of God, and that it is all true, then I guess you could take out those portions you find offensive and attribute it to the human author alone." And yet you criticize me for pointing to the fact slavery is acceptable in the Bible. Who is taking "out those portions [that they] find offensive" now?


I didn't criticize you for pointing out that slavery is acceptable in the Bible. I criticized the argument that the Levitical law which implies that it's ok to keep slaves does not mean that Christianity considers it ok to keep slaves. I take nothing out of scripture, I only seek to understand the lesson that the author intended. Remember Christ made clear that in the Old Testament concessions were made for the "hardness of hearts" of men, so this is not unreasonable. You understand what I mean by a concession right?



Even so, your argument about Christ having opened the covanent to all peoples is, I think, a sturdy theological argument; much better than many of these fallacies which I'm forced to explain to you: Christocentric, but still pretty good and reasonable.

But as you said in number 4: "...the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired word of God and are infallible...." Being relatively liberal, I hate to say "flip-flop," but can you make up your bloody mind about the Old Testament? How can you say that the Old Testament is "infallible," but also say that parts of it are irrelavent? If you can't concede that saying that parts of it are irrelavent is the same thing as saying that it is "fallible," then you should not wonder why it is that I wish to give-up on you.


I'm not flipflopping, nor did I say that the Old Testamnet, any part is irrelevent. I only say that some of the Levitical concessions do not apply to a Christian context because Christ restored things to their original state. Now, relevency and fallibility are not the same things in the simple meaning, they are quite different. Many things are true, that are not relevant to a particular situation, that doesn't make them fallible.



I suppose it is possible that I am escaping the issue by desiring to give-up this conversation. But is it not similarly avoiding the argument to say "I don't expect you to understand these truths," or saying it is necessary for me to read some treatise to understand rather than trying to explain it to me. I could very well shake you off in the same manner.

Another thing that I neglected before, because I was trying to be brief, was the matter of the word "apostle." You say that the word's Greek etymology is irrelavent, but I say etymology is among the most important subjects when thinking about the context in which ancient text was written. The book was original composed nearly 2000 years ago, and yet you say that the ancient meaning of the language in which it was written is irrelavent?!


You take the etymology as some sort of super truth, while refusing to recognize the context of the words for apostle and disciple in scripture, and in the writings of the apostolic fathers. They knew the difference, why don't you?



Additionally, I should go ahead and say that I don't believe in free-will. This fact is VERY relavent to the discussion of my personal theodicay, which I talk about at the beginning of this comment. The issue of psychological determinism may be, perhaps, too large to begin arguing here, so I'm not going to start it (but if you want to change the conversation, go ahead).... I feel like I'm the only person who is really being honest about my beliefs. I say what I believe, while you seem to only be talking about "truth." But I guess you'd see that as a non-issue.


I don't see that as a non-issue. You seem to not hold to objective truth as a basis for reasoned argument? I don't know how to respond to such existentialism, I just am not edukated enuff I gess.

God Bless,

Matt

Walt D. said...

Oh...

"The only reason to depart from the field is if you are vanquished, or you wish to avoid being vanquished which you surely would be if you stayed to fight. I can think of no other reason? Perhaps you'll provide one?"

Here are some (though not all are true for me in this case):

a) Belief that staying is futile; after all, it would not be so absolute of a success as "vanquishing" our foe. Even if I had "beaten" you, you could still certainly choose to see yourself as the "winner."
b) Realizing that our differences lie in places that rationality cannot go; respecting that what seperates us is not a fault in either of our reasons, but in our non-rationalistic beliefs.
c) Being tired of having to deal with someone arrogant enough to assume that my having given up is logistically proof enough to them that their's is the superior argument (which you demonstrate in the above quote). That is fallicious thinking, which leads to my next reason.
d) My opponent thinks fallaciously; how can I argue with someone on the basis of reason when they mix logic with fallacy? Why should I persist in arguing on the basis of reason with someone who will not listen to reason.
e) I have many essays to write here at Millsaps College.
f) My puppy died.
g) My brother's wife had twins, and I want to spend time with them.
h) I have cancer, and again I have little time to spare.

I have tried to be apologetic in those instances where I am being arrogant on several occasions. If I have failed at any point in doing so, I apologize now. You? Not so much; you say God bless, but you are disrespectful. Nor have you conceded a single thing in our discussion. Again, I talk about my "beliefs" and "opinions," and you talk about "truth." When have I ever implied that I had a monopoly on truth, as you have when talking about "your Church" and its "truth?"

It is your arrogance, sir, that compels me to leave this endeavor. As stated above, you have assumed that my giving up necessarily means that you have beaten me or something. That is not true, and I am tired of dignifying your behavior by responding.

Walt D. said...

I've commited the strawman? I've avoided respounding to YOUR argument? I guess you've won then.

"Concession," err... a village in Nova Scotia?

Some day, when you're in heaven, and I'm in hell we'll look back on this and laugh and laugh....

Matt said...

Well, I sure pray that you go to heaven despite all your blashpemous statements, I'll include you in my prayers.

God Bless,

Matt

Walt D. said...

Again, you fail to address any claims about your ethics....

I suppose that you may not have meant it as such, but saying that you will pray for someone because of what they believe is very demeaning; you could just as well have prayed for me and not have made a spectacle of your faith before me and these readers by saying that you had done so. It is my understanding that the prayer would be no less meaningful if you had simply prayed, and not told me so. I suggest that you do that the next time you wish to pray for someone about the matter over which you disagree.

Matt said...

Walt D.,

I believe, as the Gospel tells me to, that I must instruct the ignorant and admonish the sinner.

When a man, who claims to be a Christian, denies that God is infinite and perfect, that is blasphemy and the behaviour needs to be admonished.

In correcting your errors, I am not being disrespectful, I am being charitable.

God Bless,

Matt

Walt D. said...

You have not been paying attention. I thought I explained quite clearly that I was not Christian on that other page.

"In correcting your errors, I am not being disrespectful, I am being charitable."

That is a lovely justification of a behavior that is common to all ideologies. You are defending your worldview; that's all. If you cannot concede that in saying that you justify your behavior as being a matter of charity (to presume that your endevour is purely an act of charity) -- if you can't concede that that belief is arrogant, then you will never truly concede a thing.

Since you have evinced that you are incapable of listening to my arguments, I hope that I will resist the temptation to come here again and be indignantly inflamed once more, because I am certain that you will continue to pass off your self-aggrandizement as proof of your righteousness.

Take a hint. Stop implying your belief's righteousness with those things that YOU have degenerated into purely Christian arrogances: "God bless," "I will pray for you," and so forth.

Anonymous said...

Ewww. You say you're glad to be a Catholic? I'm thrilled to be a WASP.

Tito said...

Anon,

Bzzz.

In Christ,

Tito

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