Friday, January 30, 2009

Christianity, Sola Scriptura, State of Nature, & Evolution

I turn our attention to my friend and Positive Liberty co-blogger, Jim Babka, who posted on the "Two Books Approach to Christianity." Babka is an orthodox evangelical Christian. He believes the Bible as God's revealed Word. Yet, he rejects Sola Scriptura and calls for a theology more "open" to the discoveries of nature, science and reason. When reading Babka's post I'm reminded of Benjamin Rush (a Trinitarian Universalist) who described his faith as "a compound of the orthodoxy and heterodoxy of most of our Christian churches."

As Babka writes:

There is a presumption amongst reformed and fundamentalist Christians, that revelation reigns Supreme and Alone — Sola Scriptura. The fundamentalist who then insists that man’s “helpmeet,” woman, was literally built from the rib of man, sometime on the sixth (24-hour) day of creation, serves as the cliche example of this principle taken to its logical conclusion.

Skeptics — atheists in particular — mount a counter-charge (often with pomposity), that they eschew revelation and embrace Reason.

Not all Christians embrace Sola Scriptura at the expense of Reason. All truth is God’s truth.

There are two problems here to be addressed when looking at the fundamentalist’s view. First, the Bible itself does not advocate Sola Scriptura. Second, this need not be a stricter either/or situation, but rather can be a fuzzier both/and. There is a middle ground, if you will.

Explicitly, Romans 1 says that all mankind should recognize God in the creation. No one is permitted the excuse of not recognizing God because the creation “testifies.” Atheist Bertrand Russell was asked how he would respond, if after dying he was brought face to face with God. His reply: “There wasn’t enough evidence.” Romans 1:18-20 suggests that we know today as “science” is, in part, actually the study of God’s world.

Implicitly, most conservative Christians will instantly recognize what I mean when I refer to Hebrews 11 as the “Faith Hall of Fame.” In it, appears Abraham, who precedes Moses on the historical timeline. Moses is (from the fundamentalist perspective) the author of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, including Genesis) which tells Abraham’s story. Thus, Abraham was a man without a book of revelation. Yet he followed God. Abraham is the greatest figure of “faith” because he acted, without a book of revelation.

Sola Scriptura is strictly a religious construction. It is a Reformation doctrine that arose in response to the corruption of the Catholic Church. That response is understandable and was, initially, liberating.


What's notable about Babka's approach is that he uses it to defend the compatibility of Darwin's theory of evolution and orthodox Christianity. I'm writing about this because I spend a great deal of time critically analyzing the "political theology" of the American Founding and I have concluded (after some more notable scholars) that, arguably, such political theology is not "Christianity," but not "Deism" either. Yet, American political theology often presented itself as "rational Christianity." And this kind of "Christianity" oft-turned out to be theologically unitarian, universalistic, and rejected the infallibility of the Bible. It also excessively relied on "nature" and "reason" as much as if not more so than the Bible. But, this "political theology" (that may or may not be properly termed "Christianity") was not exclusive; it didn't seek to exclude orthodox Trinitarian Christianity (or non-orthodox faiths). Yet, it wanted all faiths to be open to the discoveries of nature, science and reason.

So while American political theology is not necessarily hostile to orthodox Christianity, the orthodox Protestant Sola Scriptura crowd who 1) rejects natural law discoverable by reason that has its foundations in Aristotle and 2) embraces "Sola Scriptura" as a "closed system," are likely to be anathematized by said political theology. Francis Schaeffer comes to mind as a theologian whose "Christianity" does not accord with the political theology of the American Founding. In short, if "Christians" want their faith to best resonate with American political theology, they don't necessarily need to reject the Trinity or other orthodox doctrines, but they do need to embrace a more "open" theology -- "open" to the findings of science, nature, and reason.

Thus, Jim Babka's Christianity is closer to the political theology of the American Founding than is Francis Schaeffer's.

A "Christianity" that is open to the scientific discoveries of Darwin, for instance, is closer America's Founding political theology than is a closed, Sola Scriptura system that rejects Darwin (or whatever science discovers), because such "Truths" seem not to accord with what the Bible, on the surface, teaches. The Founders, of course, weren't Darwinists because Darwin's theory had not yet been discovered (in the same sense that they didn't believe in Einstein's theories either). Yet, they embraced Locke and Locke posited theories that were as foreign to the Bible as were Darwin's.

Leo Strauss quite properly termed Locke's state of nature theory as "wholly alien to the Bible." As Gregg Frazer put it:

The biblical account of Eden and the origin of human society bears little resemblance to [Locke's] world of free agents restrained only by natural law forming society on the basis of voluntary consent. (Ph.D. dissertation, p. 369.)


Now, because of the difference between what Locke teaches and what the Bible teaches, one might conclude that Locke's theories are "anti-biblical." As legendary political theorist Walter Berns put it: "[T]he idea of the state of nature is incompatible with Christian doctrine." Or, if one believes in a more "open" form of Christianity (that goes beyond "closed" Sola Scriptura) one might conclude Locke's idea of the "state of nature" (which concept was first posited by Hobbes and also articulated by Rousseau) is compatible with "Christian doctrine." But in that sense, it would be "a-biblical" not "anti-biblical."

I think we can say the same thing about Darwin's theory of evolution. Because of the differences between what Darwin teaches and what the Bible teaches, many orthodox Christians, most notably so called "young earth creationists" who believe in a literal six day creation, argue Darwin is incompatible with Christianity. In this case, Darwin's teachings are categorized as "anti-biblical" and it is no coincidence that Dr. Gregg Frazer is a literal, six day young earth creationist. Yet, to a more "open" form of Christianity, Darwin is compatible with the Bible and Christianity, properly understood. In this sense, Darwin's teachings are "a-biblical," not necessarily "anti-biblical."

We could analyze John Locke's "state of nature" teachings almost exactly as we do Darwin's. The concept of Locke's, Hobbes', OR Rousseau's "state of nature," central to American Founding thought, was either "a-biblical" or "anti-biblical" depending on whether one possesses a closed "Sola Scriptura" understanding of Christianity or a more open understanding. America's Founders, as Lockeans, obviously possessed the more "open" theology. Indeed it is what founds America's democratic-republican political order.

47 comments:

Brad Hart said...

An interesting post, Jon. I do wonder, however, about Babka's professed orthodoxy. I certainly mean no disrespect to him, but isn't a component of orthodox Evangelicalism an acceptance of the Sola Scriptura doctrine? I would be very interested in hearing his take on this, not to mention the other orthodox Evangelical commentators to this blog.

BTW, this reminds me of a couple recent post done by Pastor/Dr. Robert Cornwall over at his blog. He asks the question, is "Sola Scriptura dead?" Here is the link:

http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/search?q=is+sola+scriptura+dead

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thomas Jefferson had an elegant argument against Paul's epistles that could be extended to sola scriptura as a whole: since the first Christians of the Acts of the Apostles days didn't have the epistles [or the Bible yet], obviously you could be a Christian without them.

Hard to argue with that.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

I can't help but note that February 12th marks the 200th anniversary of the births of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

On the issue of compatability of evangelicalism and evolution, check out Daniel Harrell's new book, Nature's Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith (Abingdon, 2008).

Oh, and while I'm at it, remember that February 13-15 is Evolution Weekend, which my church and I will be observing!

Happy Birthday Chuck!!!

Our Founding Truth said...

It's impossible for the Spirit of God to indwell Jim Babka. The Spirit of God cannot reject what he has written, since the Spirit, through man, is doing the writing.

Unbelievable! Jon, where do you dig up these guys?

since the first Christians of the Acts of the Apostles days didn't have the epistles [or the Bible yet], obviously you could be a Christian without them.>

Come on Tom, you know the answer to that.

Bob Cornwall: On the issue of compatability of evangelicalism and evolution, check out Daniel Harrell's new book, Nature's Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith (Abingdon, 2008).>

Incredible! The church is filled with unregenerated leaders of the Lord's people. Inerrancy is not negotiable, since its rejection always leads to rejection of the fundamentals.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The word created in hebrew is "bara" it refers to "created out of nothing"

Romans 1
22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

I Corinthians 15
38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Why is orthodox teaching always attacked, or compromised on this blog? Jesus is a fundamentalist, as His Word says, and no one, or thing, can change Him.

As Dr. John Witherspoon says, anyone trying to distort God's Word, I call an enemy to God, and to this country!

Jonathan Rowe said...

John Witherspoon embraced the same kind of "open theology" that Babka does.

And by the way there is far more evidence that Jim Babka is an orthodox Christian than there ever was for Alexander Hamilton INCLUDING the end of his life.

JustinZ said...

OFT writes, "As Dr. John Witherspoon says, anyone trying to distort God's Word, I call an enemy to God, and to this country!"

I've been lurking here for a couple months, but this statement brought me out. To me, this statement is the crux of the "Christian Nation" question. OFT and others who promote the "Christian Nation" idea, believe that anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian is an "enemy to this country." Their view of the United States is one in which all public policy must conform to their religious views. To hold an opposing view is not merely a disagreement about policy, but makes one a traitor. When the Christian Nationalists hold this view, it is no surprise that many of us fear their coming to power.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Why is orthodox teaching always attacked, or compromised on this blog? Jesus is a fundamentalist, as His Word says, and no one, or thing, can change Him.

I don't think we ever attack this kind of Christianity. Although I did a few times try offer some rational reasons why I didn't believe in this kind of Christianity. If we were hostile to this kind of Christianity, Dr. Frazer wouldn't feel comfortable posting here.

What we do show is that this kind of Christianity is NOT the political theology of the American Founding.

I'll admit I might have a little bit of a problem with taking this kind of Christianity and constantly knocking down the theory that America was not founded to be a "Christian Nation" in this sense. If it seems like I'm knocking down a strawman, OFT keeps returning to prop that strawman up for me to knock down again.

Tom, Brian, Jim Babka and Kristo have all raised very important points along the lines of if you take away the Trinity and infallibility of the Bible and embrace natural law theology discovered by reason as authentically Judeo-Christian (despite its pagan Aristotlean origins) you are left with some kind of theology that can aptly be termed "Judeo-Christian" or even "Christian." That's a much harder theory to knock down.

Your "orthodox Christian" or fundamentalist Christian or "born again Christian" theory of the American Founding is untenable, indefensible and quite easy to knock down as I do so all the time.

Jim Babka said...

OFT wrote,
"It's impossible for the Spirit of God to indwell Jim Babka. The Spirit of God cannot reject what he has written, since the Spirit, through man, is doing the writing."

1. It’s a good thing it’s not up to OFT. Thank God for grace.
2. I don’t know where I suggested that, "The Spirit of God cannot reject what he has written..." A quote to accompany this bizarre statement would've been helpful.
3. I am the chief of sinners, and am not even confident enough to say anything more than, "Lord, I believe. Help now my unbelief."

Tom Van Dyke said...

It's impossible for the Spirit of God to indwell Jim Babka.

Ugh. Please cut this stuff out. That's between God and Jim Babka.

Although I did a few times try offer some rational reasons why I didn't believe in this kind of Christianity.

Well, of course, that opens the door to statements like the above. Word up.

[Those] others who promote the "Christian Nation" idea, believe that anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian is an "enemy to this country." ...When the Christian Nationalists hold this view, it is no surprise that many of us fear their coming to power.

True that. But many who argue for the Christian origins of the country---and still think that the country should remain true to those origins---do not argue that those who disagree are traitors.

The question for this blog is how much time should be squandered on the former group.

...very important points along the lines of if you take away the Trinity and infallibility of the Bible and embrace natural law theology discovered by reason as authentically Judeo-Christian (despite its pagan Aristotlean origins) you are left with some kind of theology that can aptly be termed "Judeo-Christian" or even "Christian."

Along with the proposition that aside from the outliers Jefferson and Adams, by and large they let stand the notion that both the Bible and the natural law came from God, and that the Bible would [or could!] not be found to be in conflict with the natural law.

There is no evidence that "reason" or the "pagan" [read: universal] natural law was chosen over the Bible in any instance.

I am the chief of sinners, and am not even confident enough to say anything more than, "Lord, I believe. Help now my unbelief."

This might be kept in mind regardless of one's POV, that even the most orthodox had doubts, and that those who exhibited no orthodoxy [Madison especially comes to mind] might have done so out of such deep humility.

Jonathan Rowe said...

There is no evidence that "reason" or the "pagan" [read: universal] natural law was chosen over the Bible in any instance.

I don't think they necessarily chose it OVER the Bible (in the sense that you had to choose one or the other). However I DO believe they turned to natural theology -- that is what's discoverable by reason and to which all good men of whatever religion could agree -- as primary and read the Bible thru this lens. And in a sense that is a "universal" reading of the natural law. I did some posts examining the literature of Founding era explications of "natural theology." Perhaps it's time to return to them.

Brad Hart said...

JustinZ writes:

OFT and others who promote the "Christian Nation" idea, believe that anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian is an "enemy to this country."

Well said!

Brad Hart said...

I second TVD's comments. Quit preaching to everyone, OFT. Not everyone believes the same as you (Thank God) and as a Christian, you of all people should know that it isn't your call to make, so SHUT UP!!!

JustinZ said...

True that. But many who argue for the Christian origins of the country---and still think that the country should remain true to those origins---do not argue that those who disagree are traitors.

One question I'd like to see explored more (though that may be slightly off-topic here) is, "What does it mean to "remain true to those origins?"

Does it mean that Christian prayers, but not non-Christian prayers, may be offered in government sponsored settings (such as Congress)? Does it mean that the fundamentalist Christian version of creation should be taught as science? Can public schools teach Christianity or use books that promote Christianity? Can teachers lead students in Christian prayers but not other prayers? Where is the line that separates acceptable Christian dominance of society and violation of right to free exercise of non-Christian religions (or do non-Christians even have a right to free exercise)? What happens if the demographics of the U.S. shift such that Christians are no longer a majority? Is a non-Christian majority still required to follow Christian practices?

Pinky said...

.
JustinZ wrote, "...this statement is the crux of the 'Christian Nation' question. OFT and others who promote the 'Christian Nation' idea, believe that anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian is an "enemy to this country."
.
An interesting note is raised by Joseph J. Ellis on this point when he quotes John Adams in Founding Brothers, "The lawgivers of antiquity ... legislated for single cities," but, "...who can legislate for 20 or 30 states, each of which is greater than Greece or Rome at those times?"
.
America was founded as a "Christian Nation"?
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I'm boning up again on natural religion/natural theology in case TVD and others want to further explore how natural law and religion.

It wasn't a "deistic" concept. Indeed many orthodox Christians believed in the natural law and natural theology and in fact were Freemasons (as we will see in a second, who made natural theology the center of their religious creed). However, it was an extremely INCLUSIVE concept. Given what Freemasonry/natural religion taught I'm surprised so many orthodox Christians of the Founding era seemed affiliated with it because it relied on religious indifferentism that constrasts with the either or approach of orthodox Christian (that believes Jesus the only way to God and all other religions false).

Here is what the Masonic book of Constitution from the Founding era held (and GW, Franklin and others had to take an OATH to this).

I. Concerning GOD and RELIGION.

A Mason is oblig'd by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance.
[Bold mine.]

Natural religion is what's discoverable by reason without the aid of revelation and that religion in which all good men agree. This was embraced during the Founding (again, even by orthodox Christians) and defines itself doctrinally as universalistic.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, you're injecting "natural religion" here as synonymous with Freemasonry.

Is the belief in a monotheistic God [which Masonry demands] "natural religion?" Is Divine Providence "natural religion?" Heaven and/or hell?

bpabbott said...

JustinZ, welcome to the discussion!

OFT, regarding your words; "As Dr. John Witherspoon says, anyone trying to distort God's Word, I call an enemy to God, and to this country!"

You might consider that you are guilty of distorting God's word.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Freemasonry, from what I have read, relied on natural religion for its monotheism. There is a reason it appealed to many of the FFs, and that's because of how it typified the spirit of the age.

Our Founding Truth said...

Justin Z: I've been lurking here for a couple months, but this statement brought me out. To me, this statement is the crux of the "Christian Nation" question. OFT and others who promote the "Christian Nation" idea, believe that anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian is an "enemy to this country." Their view of the United States is one in which all public policy must conform to their religious views. To hold an opposing view is not merely a disagreement about policy, but makes one a traitor. When the Christian Nationalists hold this view, it is no surprise that many of us fear their coming to power.>

No, Justin. You're taking the quote I butchered out of context. The Christian Nation thesis is true because the vast majority of the founding fathers, and the State Constitutions, were real Christians; orthodox.

It is Christianity that gave you freedom of conscience.

Your "orthodox Christian" or fundamentalist Christian or "born again Christian" theory of the American Founding is untenable, indefensible>

This is always the excuse, always exalting a tiny minority, when the vast majority were orthodox.

1. It’s a good thing it’s not up to OFT. Thank God for grace.>

Well, since you deny the inspiration of the scriptures, you have a more serious problem than a blog battle with me.

2. I don’t know where I suggested that, "The Spirit of God cannot reject what he has written..." A quote to accompany this bizarre statement would've been helpful.>

You deny inerrancy! If the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, and you reject His Word, what does that mean?

3. I am the chief of sinners, and am not even confident enough to say anything more than, "Lord, I believe. Help now my unbelief.">

That isn't enough. Believe what? What Lord? If you deny God's Word, you call Him a liar, and compromise His authority. Inerrancy is mandatory. If the Holy Spirit is in you, He will not allow you to deny what He has written.

Ugh. Please cut this stuff out. That's between God and Jim Babka.>

No, Tom, that's what the Bible says. Being born again is God indwelling a person. No one can be born again and deny inerrancy, it is all a part of salvation; the fundamentals I've spoken of before.

Colossians 1:27
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [bold face mine]

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

2 Timothy 1:14
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:

John 20:22
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Acts 2:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 4:8
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel.

Does it mean that Christian prayers, but not non-Christian prayers, may be offered in government sponsored settings (such as Congress)? Does it mean that the fundamentalist Christian version of creation should be taught as science? Can public schools teach Christianity or use books that promote Christianity? Can teachers lead students in Christian prayers but not other prayers?>

Everything you say, the framers allowed and promoted.

Jonathan Rowe said...

No one can be born again and deny inerrancy,...

Even at the end of his life when he was most "orthodox," Alexander Hamilton never 1) claimed to be "born again" or 2) claimed he believed the Bible the "infallible" word of God. I'll admit there were a great deal of "orthodox Christians" among the Framers and population during the Founding era (the largest denomination of which were Anglicans/Episcopalians who did not think of themselves as "born again" Christians). However, according to this "strict" test for "Christianity" that excludes Jim Babka, there is not a shred of evidence that more that a handful of Founding Fathers would pass it. Again, Hamilton, at NO point in his life, gives evidence of passing such a strict, narrow test for "Christian."

Tom Van Dyke said...

OFT, I don't want to argue the Bible with you, nor does anyone else. I don't want to argue anyone's religion with you [except the Founders'], nor does anyone else. In fact the Founders didn't want to argue the Bible with each other, as it leads to unpleasant things.

This isn't a theology blog, it's a history blog. If somebody misstates the Bible, fine, correct them. If you want to argue the Founders were on the whole orthodox Christians, fine, bring your facts and arguments. But the rest of this has crossed the line and please include me out.

Pinky said...

.
Masonry is a fraternity the purpose of which is to provide education, protection and opportunity for its members and their families. Its rituals borrow profusely from history, the American Revolution, the Bible, and other religious sources. Depending on what branch or level is involved, there are different sources recounted in the rituals.
.
Masonic history teaches that it is its underlying oath of secrecy that helped lead the Colonists to victory in the American Revolution.
.
All religions are appealing to masonry; but, Masonry is not appealing to all religions.
.
Masonry teaches there is but one God.
.

.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT, I don't want to argue the Bible with you, nor does anyone else. I don't want to argue anyone's religion with you [except the Founders'], nor does anyone else. In fact the Founders didn't want to argue the Bible with each other, as it leads to unpleasant things.>

I don't want to argue the bible either. So why is it ok to argue for a distorted bible that is out of context, and proclaiming the correct view, which is in context, and consistent with the rest of the revelation not ok?

Why is the hostility towards orthodoxy, and not against heresy?

The faith of our framers is what we should be talking about.

Hey Lindsey, did you get my post?

Even at the end of his life when he was most "orthodox," Alexander Hamilton never 1) claimed to be "born again" or 2) claimed he believed the Bible the "infallible" word of God.>

Jon:

I judge by the Bible, not by what a person says or doesn't say. If there isn't concrete words about orthodoxy, it's not right to assume something. Hamilton affirmed mysteries (miracles), and attacked infidelity (inspiration of the scriptures) way before 1800.

However, according to this "strict" test for "Christianity" that excludes Jim Babka, there is not a shred of evidence that more that a handful of Founding Fathers would pass it. Again, Hamilton, at NO point in his life, gives evidence of passing such a strict, narrow test for "Christian.">

It isn't fair to label someone without proper evidence. If you don't ever say anything against homosexuality, can I claim you're a homosexual?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well Babka certainly more than meets the religious test Hamilton set out when looking for a wife which is she must at least believe in God and hate a saint. Hamilton didn't mention she must be a Christian at all or believe ANY of the Bible is inspired. A strict Deist could have met his religious test for his wife.

And not that you should get personal, but the homosexuality issue is a very good analogy to this issue we are discussing. Homosexuals, for various reasons have lived closeted, semi-closeted or otherwise on the "down low" for reasons of prudence. It's for a similar reason that many of America's Founders kept their explicit religious cards to themselves on invoked a generic Providential God.

You can often figure out that someone is a homosexual by putting two and two together without an explicit admit from a particular person.

Ultimately an "I don't know" is a more fair response when there is a question than presuming without certain knowledge that a particular person was X.

There is one big difference in the analogy: While human nature is vastly heterosexual (90% plus) only a minority of self proclaimed "Christians" or those living in "Christendom" are "born again" who believe the Bible the inerrant, infallible Word of God. This is true today as it was during the Founding era.

Our Founding Truth said...

So while American political theology is not necessarily hostile to orthodox Christianity, the orthodox Protestant Sola Scriptura crowd who 1) rejects natural law discoverable by reason that has its foundations in Aristotle>

The churches I follow do not reject reason. Aquinas may have used Aristotle, but Natural Law (God's law in the heart) was espoused by David and Solomon, seven-hundred years before Aristotle.

Natural Law is mentioned in Psalm 40, Proverbs 3,7, etc.

Yet, they embraced Locke and Locke posited theories that were as foreign to the Bible as were Darwin's.>

None of Locke's theories were foreign to the Bible. Natural Law is not foreign to the Bible.

Tom Van Dyke said...


I don't want to argue the bible either. So why is it ok to argue for a distorted bible that is out of context, and proclaiming the correct view, which is in context, and consistent with the rest of the revelation not ok?


There's the Bible, and then there's Bible interpretation. Remember that the early unitarians argued against the Trinity using the bible itself.

So here's the thing---I see the Bible quoted out of context all over the internet, or stuff made up of whole cloth by people who have only skimmed it, like that the Bible supports fundamental inequality. It's fine to make corrections.

But to argue about interpretation, well, that's above our pay grade here, and in neutral fora like this one, it's good to heed the wisdom of Matthew 7:6.

Best to remain at arm's length from truth claims, or let it pass if you can't. Bible interpretation is in the realm of opinion, no matter how convinced we are that our opinion is truth. Opinions are not facts, and as 2000 years of doctrinal hassles have shown, the truth will not be reconciled until the Second Coming.

If then.

Our Founding Truth said...

Well Babka certainly more than meets the religious test Hamilton set out when looking for a wife which is she must at least believe in God and hate a saint. Hamilton didn't mention she must be a Christian at all or believe ANY of the Bible is inspired. A strict Deist could have met his religious test for his wife.>

The key word you use is "could." Actions speak louder than words, and Hamilton married an orthodox Christian.

While human nature is vastly heterosexual (90% plus) only a minority of self proclaimed "Christians" or those living in "Christendom" are "born again" who believe the Bible the inerrant, infallible Word of God. This is true today as it was during the Founding era.>

So, don't assume!

For the founding fathers and the people of 18th century America, you need facts to back up what you say, not just another assumption. Where are the facts the people of 18th century america were not born again? How the heck can you know a person's heart from two-hundred years ago?

Comparing today with the 18th century is a bad analogy.

Our Founding Truth said...

There's the Bible, and then there's Bible interpretation. Remember that the early unitarians argued against the Trinity using the bible itself.>

Have you read Priestley's work on God? I have, and it's absurd. He didn't argue from the evidence (the scriptures in context), he used his own private interpretation to satisfy his own will. You know I could post fifty verses right now that clearly present the duality and trinity of God; even as far back as Genesis 1!

The entire "that's your interpretation thing" is totally bogus, and is ultimately the Devil talking! That's what he does; he says "did God really say that?" "No, that's not what God meant"

He's a liar from the beginning, leading people astray, and wants to spread doubt, and for two-thousand years, has did a good job.

Tom, can you get a hold of Lindsey, I sent her my post.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Not only is there evidence of low church membership from the Founding era but the largest sect was Anglicanism-Episcopalianism. And they don't hold being "born again" as a central doctrine of Christianity.

Traditional Anglican-Episcopalians were "orthodox Trinitarian" but were not "born again" or "evangelical" Christians. Likewise Roman Catholics are "orthodox Trinitarian" Christians but do not embrace being "born again" as a central tenet of Christianity.

Our Founding Truth said...

Traditional Anglican-Episcopalians were "orthodox Trinitarian" but were not "born again" or "evangelical" Christians.>

JOn, being born again is not referring to subscription of religious tenets, like believing the trinity. It's hard to explain; the Bible's explanation is the best one. Only a student of the bible, or theologian, would refer to it. Some Christians don't write about it, or even refer to it until it is explained to them.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"like believing the trinity."

Actually the Trinity is explicitly part of the Nicene Creed which is the Godfather of "orthodox" creeds. Being "born again" is not.

Our Founding Truth said...

"like believing the trinity."

Actually the Trinity is explicitly part of the Nicene Creed which is the Godfather of "orthodox" creeds. Being "born again" is not.>

I know. Being "born again" as Jesus said, is a result of accepting the fundamentals.

Pinky said...

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The concept of being "Born Again" is the easiest of all religious doctrines to explain.
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All persons are born, once, of water, i.e., physical birth.
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To be Born Again means that one's spirit has been brought to existence in eternal life; thus, the "Second Birth" or "Born Again". As Jimmy Carter put it, "Twice Born".
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Anglicans weren't Born Again because they were Christened into the Family of God on the eighth day of life. Same with Catholics.
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Pinky said...

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Strange, or should I say, curious?
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OFT who parades himself around here as though he is so knowledgeable about Christianity fails on the simplest and most primary concept of all--being born again.
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The action of being born again occurs when the individual accepts Jesus as their personal connection to God the Father. There might be some other ways of saying the same thing; but, that is it.
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The Fundamentals are not requisites to being born again under any circumstances.
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Jonathan Rowe said...

Pinky I think the problem is that the Bible say a heck of a lot of things and you can pick and choose what to stress and interpret different sections differently.

For instance Jesus said Matthew 18:3

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

I'm waiting for a movement of "child-again" Christians who claim if you haven't been "child-again" you really aren't a regenerate, saved Christian.

Brad Hart said...

And then there is my all-time favorite Bible verse: 2Kings 18:27:

"But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?"

Yes, the Bible is full of people who eat their own shit!

Jonathan Rowe said...

OMG,

I never encountered that passage before. That's great. I've got to blog about that and see the reactions.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Read it in context first. Sheesh, you guys are wearin' me out, all of you.

Brad Hart said...

Sorry, Tom. We'll try to slow down for ya! =)

Tom Van Dyke said...

I meant the quote [quotation!] from The Second Book of Kings. Sometimes, it's like the blind leading the stupid around here.

8-[D>

Pinky said...

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Jon, my comments come out of my personal experience starting in 1937. I am extremely well founded in Christian Fundamentalism. I sat in congregations and listened to some of the early Fundamental Evangelists. Here is one of them. J. Frank Norris I can list a few.

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Brian Tubbs can verify my comments.
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To be "as a little child" is to trust simply without any rigamarole or suspicion.
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I seldom make absolute statements here; but, I my statement about being born again is absolute.
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Maybe, as I wrote earlier, it can be stated in some other ways; but, they all mean the exact same thing.
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Jesus says, in Revelations 3:2, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear[s] my voice, and open[s] the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
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No conditions. Period.
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Beyond that, there can be a lot of argument.
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What I've read from Joseph J. Ellis, so far, it comes to me that the Founding Fathers (8 of them) were at odds with each other on a lot of things and religion was just one of them. And, Ellis points out that we're still carrying on the same arguments.
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What have you got to say to that?
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Brad Hart said...

True that, Tom, but you run the risk of...well...as Mr. Abbott put it long ago:

Pot...kettle...black.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm OK with the pitch of my pot, Brad. You piqued my interest, so I actually looked up the quote in context, unlike many of the other kettles around here. An interesting story:

The Assyrian emissary [Rabshakeh] offered all worldly comforts if the defenders of Jerusalem would just surrender the city. The words you printed were his insults directed at them.

But the prophet Isaiah told them God wouldn't let Jerusalem fall to King Sennacharib, and indeed that very night, the Angel of the Lord killed nearly 6000 of his army in their sleep.

So Sennacharib went home, although it came to pass that while worshiping his false god one day, his sons fell on him and killed him.

A Bible commentary said that by Jewish tradition, Rabshakeh was a Jewish apostate, apostates being the most unlovely of the enemies of the Lord.

Interesting book, that Bible. And I see that they sell scoffing T-shirts of the Bible passage you quoted. Even more interesting.

bpabbott said...

Phil: >>To be "as a little child" is to trust simply without any rigamarole or suspicion.<<

Is that along the line of surrendering your liberty of conscience to another?

Pinky said...

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That could be, Ben.
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But, no matter, it's a personal choice.
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From there on out, is where the crazy people get involved.
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And, the world seems to have more and more of them every year.
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bpabbott said...

Tom: "The Assyrian emissary [Rabshakeh] offered all worldly comforts if the defenders of Jerusalem would just surrender the city. The words you printed were his insults directed at them."

hmm ... I'm not sure who comes off looking the worse here. In my opinion, the "Assyrian emissary" sounds morally deficient.

Who is supposed to have the moral high ground?

Tom Van Dyke said...

I leave this discussion to you, Brad, although I do hope you didn't already order the T-shirt.

Love,
Tom