Friday, April 24, 2009

Allan Bloom on YouTube, the Straussians & the Founding & Stuff

I've read a lot of Allan Bloom. Until recently I had never heard his voice. Then some audio files were uploaded to the Internet. Now this.







Bloom was not particularly handsome by conventional standards. But his odd looks, combined with his odd way of speaking and his brilliance have captivated many brilliant minds, American or otherwise.

The thing I dislike the most about the "Straussians," is the "cult" that surrounds them. In Ravelstein, Saul Bellow's Roman à clef about Bloom, Leo Strauss is named "Davarr" which is Hebrew for "Word." That speaks for itself. There is likewise a cult that surrounds such thinkers as Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and many others. The irony is Rand, Strauss, Rothbard all presented themselves as philosophers of some sort. And forming a "cult" around figures as such inevitably leads to the philosophic error of "appeal to authority." Unless of course, we conclude that one or more of those figures were flawless in their thinking. I'm not even a Christian and I understand that can't be right. So don't be afraid to call any thinker, no matter HOW much you may appreciate their overall work, full of shit, at times. That's the way of the true philosopher. But make sure you have good reason for doing so or else prepare to have your head handed to you on a plate.

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of hubbub written about "the Straussians." I didn't support the Kristol-Wolfowitz American foreign policy project and many Straussians argue that Strauss (perhaps Bloom) would not have either. I'll simply assert that, like a lot of academic theoreticians, they make for better professors of political philosophy than policy wonks.

But without question, the Straussians have done ground breaking scholarly work on the American Founding, especially as it relates to religion.

One profound insight they uncover is how Locke's central teachings of "state of nature," "social contract and rights" are a "modern teaching." Indeed Hobbes formulated this teaching. And Locke sold it to Christendom, precisely by dressing up such ideas in Christian and classical natural law like language. But in dressing up the language of "state of nature/social contract and rights" with Christian and classical natural law speak, Locke in a sense, (perhaps) synthesized a more modern, subversive notion of "rights" with Christian and classical sources, thereby moderating the concept of "rights." But make no mistake, state of nature, social contract and rights, even the notion of God given "natural rights," are nowhere to be found in the Bible, and not part of the classical understanding of "natural law" either.

Here are some choice quotations from Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind":

When Bishops, a generation after Hobbes’s death, almost naturally spoke the language of the state of nature, contract and rights, it was clear that he had defeated the ecclesiastical authorities, who were no longer able to understand themselves as they once had. (pp. 141-2).

[...]

[Enlightenment] provides the structure for the key term of liberal democracy, the most successful and useful political notion of our world: rights. Government exists to protect the product of men’s labor, their property, and therewith life and liberty. The notion that man possesses inalienable natural rights, that they belong to him as an individual prior, both in time and in sanctity, to any civil society, and that civil societies exist for and acquire their legitimacy from ensuring those rights, is an invention of modern philosophy. Rights…are new in modernity, not a part of the common-sense language of politics or of classical political philosophy. Hobbes initiated the notion of rights, and it was given its greatest respectability by Locke. (p. 165).


Now, Bloom is more known for his observance of how the language of German nihilism/relativism infiltrated American parlance. Terms like "values," "worldview," "charisma" are by their nature relativistic. Once conservative Christians start talking about how they have a different "worldview," they've lost the battle. The postmodern language of "value relativism" superseded the modern language of natural rights as much as the modern language of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau superseded the language of classical and biblical politics.

The Straussians have their problems with the modernism of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, but will take their politics -- liberal democracy -- warts and all, over postmodern politics. This is what Leo Strauss' famous quotation -- "the moderns 'built on low but solid ground'" -- refers to. But as secret atheists and nihilists themselves, they believe the postmoderns truly understand the ultimate nature of reality (that there is no God, the natural law is a fiction, and that rights are not grounded in nature) but misunderstand the horrifying implications thereof (the abyss). Postmodernism, precisely because it is built not on rational principles, but the arbitrary irrational positing of relative values (i.e., "might makes right") could just as easily lead to Nazi Germany as it could democratic socialism or the American Founding. In other words, the truth, far from setting us free, horrifies.

And to horrify the Straussians who at times display contempt for popular culture, I've found the this Straussian understanding of Nietzsche almost perfectly captured in a comic book -- a graphic novel -- "Watchmen," recently turned into a movie.

As the mad vigilante superhero Rorschach put it after executing by burning alive, instead of turning over to lawful authorities, a child murderer who fed the dead child to pet German Shepards that Rorschach just killed:

Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach.


Bloom also tackled modern psychiatry as something that was based on relativistic German philosophy, but strangely enough was used to make Americans "feel good," when properly understood, such philosophy should do the very opposite. And here is how Rorschach made his do-good, feel-good, prison psychiatrist feel. Here is the doctor’s reaction to his interaction with the relativistic, nihilistic, value-positing patient who managed to construct a harsh world of black and white, good and evil out of the abyss:

I sat on the bed. I looked at the Rorschach blot. I tried to pretend it looked like a spreading tree, shadows pooled beneath it, but it didn’t. It looked more like a dead cat I once found, the fat, glistening grubs writhing blinding, squirming over each other, frantically tunneling away from the light. But even that is avoiding the real horror. The horror is this: in the end it is simply a picture of empty meaningless blackness. We are alone. There is nothing else.


Perhaps, I've said too much. I'll stop here.

56 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

But make no mistake, state of nature, social contract and rights, even the notion of God given "natural rights," are nowhere to be found in the Bible, and not part of the classical understanding of "natural law" either.>

This is a mistake.

Where did Hobbes get Natural Rights from? Property rights, life, liberty, happiness, etc. are given in Scripture, not just for Hebrews, or Christians, but for the enjoyment of every one in all the world. That these rights should be employed for a nation as well as an individual is no less awkward.

Would Hobbes, or Locke, claim worshipping idols (2nd Commandment) not a violation of Natural Law?

Jonathan Rowe said...

No OFT, unalienable rights to life, political liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness have nothing to do with the Bible. The concept of "unalienable rights" or "rights" itself has nothing to do with the Bible.

As you know the Bible speaks nothing to the cause of "political liberty." And regarding "life" and "property" every single culture imaginable recognizes some form of ownership rights (property) and that you cannot take the life of innocents. Locke's idea of property most certainly was NOT taken from the Bible.

And yes Hobbes and Locke WOULD claim that worshipping idols, however foolish, has NOTHING to do with violating the "natural law."

Our Founding Truth said...

No OFT, unalienable rights to life, political liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness have nothing to do with the Bible. The concept of "unalienable rights" or "rights" itself has nothing to do with the Bible.>

It seems I know where they are, and you do not.

And regarding "life" and "property" every single culture imaginable recognizes some form of ownership rights (property) and that you cannot take the life of innocents.>

Have you heard of the Canaanites and their god Moloch?

Locke's idea of property most certainly was NOT taken from the Bible.>

I never said he did, but it's there, and way before anything else.

And yes Hobbes and Locke WOULD claim that worshipping idols, however foolish, has NOTHING to do with violating the "natural law.">

Since Locke claims the Bible is inerrant, he would disagree with you, Romans 1 and 2 proclaim.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Locke never claimed the Bible inerrant. You are "seeing" things in his writings, just as you imagine natural rights in the Bible.

Pinky said...

This is an excellent subject for considerations.
.
Straussians.
.
The post and videos require a little more serious thinking than one time through--at least for me.
.
I hope this discussion thread doesn't devolve into an argument about nothing like seems to happen every once in a while.
.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Pinky---Phil---we agree once again. That's scary to both of us, isn't it...

The post and videos require a little more serious thinking than one time through--at least for me.

I hope this discussion thread doesn't devolve into an argument about nothing like seems to happen every once in a while.
..

Jonathan's post is about a lot more---or a lot less, depending on you point of view---than the Bible. It's about the state of philosophy today and of Western Civilization since the Year of Our Lord 1600 or so.

I like this post a lot on its own merits, and agree with you completely that it needs to be read and reread and then rereread if you don't quite understand a single concept, thought, phrase or word.

Mr. Rowe is not making an argument here, he's merely giving us a report on the 20th-21st century "Western mind." And a very fair and good report at that. Kudos, Mr. Rowe. And to you too, Pinky.

I hope this discussion thread doesn't devolve into an argument about nothing...

Excellently put, sir. When someone takes great care and time to post something to think about, it's only common courtesy to actually give it some thought.

Pinky said...

.
Some things are said in Rowe's post that can be disputed; but, to what end? They are opinion and one's often just as good as another.
.
The ideas that Leo Strauss held so high regarding the Founding should be identified--not left up to conjecture..
.
But, one thing Bloom iterates in Jonathon's out takes from the book, that is repeated again and again in popular media, I tend to challenge. Too much authority is given to what churchies have to say.
.
That's the identity of what it means to be a Christian.
.
Anyone who truly studies the teachings of Jesus cannot come away with the idea that salvation has much, if anything, to do with accepting the Bible as the Revealed Word of God. Read the Gospel of Matthew through.

In fact, just the opposite may be true.

Yet, that is the hue and cry of present day (postmodern?) orthodoxy and has been ever since religionism was first invented.
.
According to an article, The End of Christianity, in the April 13, 2009, issue of Newsweek Magazine the Rev. Mohler underlines the importance of believing in the Bible to be the Revealed Word of God as the foundation upon which one comes to be a Christian. Jesus is turned into a crutch to the Bible.
.
But, Jesus' main message was all about "Natural Rights" and it was why the popular religionist leaders of the day conspired to get the government to get rid of him via public execution. They would do it again today. Just stand up against orthodoxy and see what happens.

The point made by Jesus was that human beings are able to have a direct one on one relationship with God sans any intermediaries. THIS was the beginning of liberal thinking.

Strauss, of course, leads us back to the Greek philosophers and wants us to get down to the brass tacks of what is really taking place in the world today..
.
This item by J.Rowe points up the importance of not taking the words of so-called experts about anything. We have to go "there" for ourselves to find any truth.
.
Interestingly enough, that's something Jesus held high on his list of dos and don'ts.

It's very difficult to deal with what J.Rowe wrote as it covers such a broad scope.
.

Pinky said...

.
Apparently, in his book Bloom.
writes, "There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them. … The relativity of truth is … a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it . … The danger they have been taught to fear is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness — and the relativism that makes it plausible — is the great insight of our times . … The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all."

Jonathan Rowe said...

I'm not sure whether that's true anymore; though it might have been in '86 when he wrote the book. Though Bloom was speaking of a particular kind of student: the kind that can get into the University of Chicago. As a community college professor, I see that most of my students don't know what it means to say that "truth is relative."

And even among the students who got into U Chi circa '86, I'm sure there were plenty of bright devout Roman Catholics or evangelicals (even if they were a minority) who didn't believe this.

I think what Bloom spoke was probably true among the majority of 18 yo U Chi. student who didn't come from devout religious backgrounds.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:Locke never claimed the Bible inerrant.

John Locke's views on Scripture are important to us, RH Lee said his views were the basis of the DOI. With that said, someone would need to post words by Locke rejecting inerrancy, which I don't think exists; after going over his Reasonableness, Locke affirmed inerrancy:

"The other parts of divine revelation [Other than "Jesus is the Messiah, The Son of God"] are objects of faith, and are so to be received. They are truths, whereof no one can be rejected; none that is once known to be such, may, or ought to be disbelieved. For to acknowledge any proposition to be of divine revelation and authority; and yet to deny, or disbelieve it; is to offend against this fundamental article and ground of faith, that God is true. But yet a great many of the truths revealed in the gospel, every one does, and must confess, a man may be ignorant of; nay [not], disbelieve, without danger to his salvation: as is evident in those, who, allowing the authority, differ in the interpretation and meaning of several texts of scripture, not thought fundamental: in all which, it is plain, the contending parties on one side or the other, are ignorant of, nay, disbelieve the truths delivered in holy writ."

-Locke, Reasonableness

Also, Locke may have referenced Rights from the Bible, such as freedom of conscience.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Some things are said in Rowe's post that can be disputed; but, to what end? They are opinion and one's often just as good as another.

Phil, did you realize that the lengthy Bloom quote you posted was absolutely against such a sentiment? That when he writes

The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all."he is mocking that attitude, not approving?

With that said, it's OK to have "opinions" about what Leo Strauss said and what it meant. It's difficult to pin him down [by his own intention], and indeed, today there are East Coast Straussians [like Bloom and Harvey Manfield] who are are war with the West Coast Straussians [Claremont Institute, Harry Jaffa] over what Strauss said and meant.

Also, my opinion is that Strauss' version of John Locke is not entirely the correct one: he does point out where Locke strays from Aquinas' and Hooker's vision of natural law, but ignores the hundreds of pages written and years of study that Locke put into the Bible and Christian theology, discarding it as "cover" for Locke's radical departure from Christian orthodoxy.

And when you write

But, Jesus' main message was all about "Natural Rights"...

I hope you realize you've just crawled into bed with OFT. Strangest bedfellows I can possibly imagine...

Pinky said...

.
When it comes to naming anyone a Straussian, I'm at a loss.

I think there are those who claim to be such; but, that Strauss wouldn't give their thinking the time of day.

When it comes what I wrote about Jesus, what I meant was that Jesus opens the door to free thinking and almost every so-called orthodox, evangelical, Fundamentalist, or other main line Christian I ever met is unable to engage in that. Their minds are closed--they are the ones Bloom writes about.
.
OFT's truth is relative to his view of reality. But, he has a closed mind. And, he's probably most proud of that.

But, truth continues to reveal itself to us. It's just like that clearing up there in the future.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Actually, Bloom is explicitly talking about relativists and those who believe in the "evolution" of truth, not religious believers. The relativists' minds are so open, they hold nothing.

The irony of your insult directed at OFT is astounding, Pinky. "The closing of the American mind" is in its closing to the possibility of truth. Bloom opposes everything you have written.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Sorry OFT. That passage doesn't prove Locke thought the Bible infallible or inerrant. I agree that contra the claims of Leo Strauss, Locke seemed to be a "Christian" who hid his Christology (i.e., his views on the Trinity) and seemed to believe in the Bible generally as a revelation from God. But the evidence isn't there for inerrancy or infallibility from what you quoted.

I also think it was inappropriate for you to put [not] in brackets as it distorts the meaning of what Locke is saying. Locke is saying that all you need to believe is Jesus the Messiah for salvation (which by the way, Arians, Socinians and Trinitarians all did). That you can disbelieve in large parts of the Bible and still be saved.

Locke simply is not the kind of figure that you should wish to go to for your kind of Christianity.

Pinky said...

.
Tom sez, The irony of your insult directed at OFT is astounding, Pinky. "The closing of the American mind" is in its closing to the possibility of truth. Bloom opposes everything you have written..
Irony is, you've completely missed my point.
.
And, as far as an insult to OFT is concerned, I don't think he sees it as such.
.
Long ago, this site has moved away from being politically correct at all times.

I think we're all human and that means we all fall short of something or other. None of us is without sin--most of all, me. So, I ain't throwin' any more stones. Not even at you.
.
And, I don't have a guilty conscience.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Locke is saying that all you need to believe is Jesus the Messiah for salvation (which by the way, Arians, Socinians and Trinitarians all did). That you can disbelieve in large parts of the Bible and still be saved...

Yes, that's how it reads to me as well. Explicitly saying that.

17th century locutions are tough to navigate, though, but that should give the caution light to quote-grabbing.

JOE TODD said...

Really enjoy your blog, I left a little something for you at my site

Pinky said...

.
You see?
.
OFT comes here with a Biblicist view of reality. I don't say that is wrong; but, that it should be understood. Everything he claims will be in agreement with some biblical reference.
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

You are justly and rigtheously being deleted because of your stubborn error and ignorance.

You are refuted and YOU know it.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

I am going to continue to delete your posts until you apologize for your misconduct and humble yourself.

Pinky said...

.
I thought OFT's posts were good examples of what is meant by relative truth.
.
We all operate from our sense of reality.
.
Rationalism should give us some better understanding from where the other guy started.

One of the things I think might have been driving Locke was the religiosity of the time. If you're going to be accepted by others, you had better be speaking their language. Otherwise, whatever you have to say will be taken with a grain of salt.
.
Locke was under social pressure just as we are today. And, that's why our presidents are always sure to say, God Bless the United States.

Pinky said...

.
Unless I am grossly mistaken, NeoCons are a particular brand of Straussians that see themselves as having a prerogative to impose their view of reality on the rest of the world.
.
That would be people like the Bushes, Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. These are the people who moved into the power positions of world government under then President Gerald Ford.
.
Unless I am grossly mistaken.
.
Would Strauss have approved of their moves?
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I deleted one of my above comments which was a gratuituous insult directed at OFT. The problem with his conduct on this thread was he posted something from Locke that didn't mean what he thought. I answered him and then to a lesser extent so did Tom. And OFT should have left it there. He doesn't know when to leave well enough alone.

Brad Hart said...

Just got back in town. Wonderful little discussion going on!

Jon is right. Locke never...NEVER acknowledged the Bible to be infallible. Also, I think Jon has, in this and other posts, proven (along with the works of others) that the Bible does not support "Life, Liberty, property, persuit of happiness, etc." ideas. I'm no Bible scholar, but I believe I have read the "Good Book" enough times to be familiar with it, and I have yet to see where it affirms these beliefs.

Jon is right...OFT doesn't know when to quit.

BTW, good videos, Jon!

Brad Hart said...

OFT:

You've proven nothing...actually, you've proven that it is possible for a human being to become so indoctrinated into a particular belief so as to render any contrary opinion/evidence completely irrelevant...Much like Ken Ham has done in his ridiculous assertion that the world is 5000 years old and dinosaurs hung out with Noah, Job, etc.


"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
~Bertrand Russell

Our Founding Truth said...

You've proven nothing.>

Nice refutation Brad! You should publish it for the excellent expository argument. The detail in the refutation covers all my points; well done!

Brad Hart said...

Keep it up, Ken Ham...er...OFT!

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

~Bertrand Russell

Pinky said...

.
heh heh heh
.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

I don't know what you are talking about and I don't need Kristo or Dr. Frazer's approval for the points I made. I refuted YOUR claim that based on what from Locke YOU presented on this forum (something I have not deleted; all viewers can read it for themselves; but just be aware of the erroneous terms OFT stuck in brackets) this proves that Locke thought the Bible inerrant or infallible.

I wasn't referring to Locke & the Trinity; though it's ridiculous to assert that the evidence proves Locke a Trinitarian.

Finally, if readers don't know what I'm talking about, it's because I have deleted OFT's post which flunks the test of civility that at least I am holding him to when he comments on threads where I am the primary poster.

Pinky said...

.
Here’s Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield and some others.on Strauss. .

Pinky said...

.

This may be a better video..

Jonathan Rowe said...

Sorry OFT, but you are still flunking the test of civility. NO AD HOMINEN ATTACKS. I copied this post and the last and sent them to TVD. I'll let him do with them as he wants.

Though I will note, it would be a LOT easier to deal with you if you accepted that you are someone who doesn't understand the principles of logic (these are objective principles, not things over which we debate) and fallacies and consequently, tend to make them in every long comment you post. If you were more amenable to understanding how it is that you make logical fallacies, you would be a more welcomed presence here.

Tom Van Dyke said...

OFT, by acting uncivilly, you bring discredit to your religious beliefs. I don't know why you'd want to do that.

I'm in favor of deleting you just because you make Christianity look bad. You fulfill every stereotype that's used to slander the greater community of faith.

_____________

For the record, the scholars are entitled to their opinions about Locke, but it's also possible he nodded toward unitarianism just to be taken seriously by all the cool people, for whom unitarianism was in vogue.

Also, it's possible he never made up his mind one way or the other, which would explain why he was reading and studying the epistles of Paul until his dying day.

Pinky said...

.
When we know we are dealing with a mainstream orthodox Christian, it is really dumb (should I say, stupid?) to expect them to alter their Biblical viewpoint.
.
Any person who has followed along here knows, full well, that my viewpoint is closer to a secular humanist.
.
OFT has been encouraged to continue and he has received support for his perspective. Or, at least, for the perspective others may think he has.

Everyone knew--or should have--right from the giddy up where he was going to come down.
.
It looks to me as though any fault swings both ways.

I did say it would be better if this thread could stick to the subject at hand.

Has anyone seen any of the videos on the NeoCons?
.
I guess the question I had about Strauss and the NeoCons is answered in one of those videos.
.
So, the NeoCons, apparently are doing the same thing the Christian Nation people are doing--trying to interpret the Founding to fit their particular interests?
.

Brad Hart said...

I agree. There's a reason that OFT has been banned from numerous other sites. His insistance that HE alone holds the keys to all truth makes him look like a very sad little person indeed. If the God of heaven is the god of OFT then PLEASE let me spend eternity in hell!

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
~Bertrand Russell

OFT, please refrain from bothering us. Go hang out with Herc. Mulligan, Dan Atkinson, etc. Your services are no longer required.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, let me say this, Brad---we have had commenters here who are no less uncivil or inflexible, and Mr. Goswick is one of the very few who actually reads the Founding documents before rendering an opinion. Even if his reading of those documents is frequently wrong, he is not always wrong. I just wish he'd play by the rules of civility and of quoting correctly, and stop adding brackets [containing stuff they didn't say] to the source material.

As for what I've read of Mr. Mulligan, he does a much more creditable job supporting a similar POV. IMO, he's frequently got the better of some of our contributors in their exchanges on other blogs.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Had to delete another of OFT's comments. NO ad hominen attacks on my threads.

Pinky said...

.
So, clue me in.
.
What is the subject of this thread?
.
Anyone?

Brad Hart said...

OFT said:

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
~Bertrand Russell

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

I am doing you the courtesy of saving and sending TVD the posts of yours that I delete.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

Read carefully. Here is when I refuted you. This ENDED the conversation. I'll repeat this for the sake of other readers as well.

Sorry OFT. That passage doesn't prove Locke thought the Bible infallible or inerrant. I agree that contra the claims of Leo Strauss, Locke seemed to be a "Christian" who hid his Christology (i.e., his views on the Trinity) and seemed to believe in the Bible generally as a revelation from God. But the evidence isn't there for inerrancy or infallibility from what you quoted.

I also think it was inappropriate for you to put [not] in brackets as it distorts the meaning of what Locke is saying. Locke is saying that all you need to believe is Jesus the Messiah for salvation (which by the way, Arians, Socinians and Trinitarians all did). That you can disbelieve in large parts of the Bible and still be saved.

Locke simply is not the kind of figure that you should wish to go to for your kind of Christianity.
Case closed. Nothing more for you to say. At least not on this thread. If YOU were an honest person you'd know when to quit and when to concede.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:But the evidence isn't there for inerrancy or infallibility from what you quoted.

I presented evidence to the contrary, and my posts were deleted.

That you can disbelieve in large parts of the Bible and still be saved.>

I, having gone over the Reasonableness, can assure you, in the Reasonableness, or, most likely in any other of his works, did Locke ever make that assertion. If Locke did claim parts of the Bible were not needed to be a Christian, do me the honor of showing it to me.

Locke wrote disbelief of non essentials is irrelevant to salvation. Here is Locke on the issue:

"The other parts of divine revelation are objects of faith, and are so to be received. They are truths, whereof no one can be rejected; none that is once known to be such, may, or ought to be disbelieved. For to acknowledge any proposition to be of divine revelation and authority; and yet to deny, or disbelieve it; is to offend against this fundamental article and ground of faith, that God is true. But yet a great many of the truths revealed in the gospel, every one does, and must confess, a man may be ignorant of; nay, disbelieve, without danger to his salvation: as is evident in those, who, allowing the authority, differ in the interpretation and meaning of several texts of scripture, not thought fundamental: in all which, it is plain, the contending parties on one side or the other, are ignorant of, nay, disbelieve the truths delivered in holy writ; unless contrarieties and contradictions can be contained in the same words; and divine revelation can mean contrary to itself.

Though all divine revelation requires the obedience of faith, yet every truth of inspired scriptures is not one of those, that by the law of faith is required to be explicitly believed to justification. What those are, we have seen by what our Saviour and his apostles proposed to, and required in those whom they converted to the faith. Those are fundamentals, which it is not enough not to disbelieve: every one is required actually to assent to them. But any other proposition contained in the scripture, which God has not thus made a necessary part of the law of faith, (without an actual assent to which, he will not allow any one to be a believer,) a man may be ignorant of, without hazarding his salvation by a defect in his faith. He believes all that God has made necessary for him to believe, and assent to; and as for the rest of divine truths, there is nothing more required of him, but that he receive all the parts of divine revelation, with a docility and disposition prepared to embrace and assent to all truths coming from God; and submit his mind to whatsoever shall appear to him to bear that character. Where he, upon fair endeavours, understands it not, how can he avoid being ignorant? And where he cannot put several texts, and make them consist together, what remedy? He must either interpret one by the other, or suspend his opinion. He that thinks that more is, or can be required of poor frail man in matters of faith, will do well to consider what absurdities he will run into. God, out of the infiniteness of his mercy, has dealt with man, as a compassionate and tender Father."

-Reasonableness

Locke simply is not the kind of figure that you should wish to go to for your kind of Christianity.Case closed. Nothing more for you to say. At least not on this thread. If YOU were an honest person you'd know when to quit and when to concede.>

Let me decide what figure of Christianity is best for me, and you can decide the same for yourself. The case isn't closed as I earlier presented; you, who I include with Sparks and Price, by affirming theirs, and deleting mine, that if the articles to be believed, were mandatory to make one a Christian, then the Apostles were not Christians, as they had no clue of the articles, they, not known until the Epistles were written.

Our Founding Truth said...

That you can disbelieve in large parts of the Bible and still be saved.>

From the previous post, it appears Locke believed a person could be ignorant of particular scriptures, but once those are known, they cannot be disbelieved.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

The problem is you don't know what the meaning of the word "nay" is. It's not "not" but "no."

"man may be ignorant of; nay, disbelieve, without danger to his salvation:"

He says it right there that a man can disbelieve part of the Bible without danger to his salvation. That's what he means by "nay, disbelieve...."

"as is evident in those, who, allowing the authority, differ in the interpretation and meaning of several texts of scripture, not thought fundamental: in all which, it is plain, the contending parties on one side or the other, are ignorant of, nay, disbelieve the truths delivered in holy writ;"

Here is what Locke means with a contemporary example. Both YOU and Dr. Frazer are orthodox Trinitarian evangelical Christians who believe the Bible inerrant and infallible. You believe that Romans 13 permits revolt against tyrants; Dr. Frazer does not. Both claim that scripture proves your position. You can't both be right (but both could be wrong). Let's assume one of you is right; you'll find out when you die. Since you and he both agree on the fundamentals of salavation (which by the way you two hold to a much stricter standard than Locke's fundamentals of simply Jesus being the Messiah which includes Trinity deniers as well as Trinity affirmers).

As Locke would argue, the one of you who is wrong actually disbelieves in Romans 13, but it still eligible for salvation as long as you affirm the fundamentals. If Romans 13 really means you can't revolt against tyrants and you hold, oh yes you can revolt against tyrants, then according to Locke's logic, you don't really believe in Romans 13.

Now you might not agree with Locke's logic. But that IS what he's saying.

So right there in Locke's words, he is saying you can disbelieve in certain non-fundamental parts of the Bible and still be saved.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Jon: Locke simply is not the kind of figure that you should wish to go to for your kind of Christianity....

OFT: Let me decide what figure of Christianity is best for me, and you can decide the same for yourself.
The historical record does NOT show, and NOTHING YOU PRESENTED shows that Locke was an orthodox Trinitarian Christian who believed the Bible the inerrant infallible Word of God.

And I was making the assumption -- a reasonable one I take it -- that this is the kind of "Christianity" YOU endorse, which Locke did not.

The case isn't closed as I earlier presented; you, who I include with Sparks and Price, by affirming theirs, and deleting mine, that if the articles to be believed, were mandatory to make one a Christian, then the Apostles were not Christians,...Okay the Apostles may not have understood the Trinity and if they were saved, all this does is cast doubt on the notion that you have to ACCEPT the Trinity to be saved! You see how this drive to claim Locke is dilluting the purity of your orthodox Christian faith. Or maybe you really will embrace theological liberalism, after Locke. Be my guest.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Let me also note that we aren't done with Locke by a longshot. Not only have I been carefully reading his words, I've also been reading the top most Locke scholars who know and understand Locke's writings and the facts of his life a Hell of a lot better than your or I do (or than Jared Sparks, Price and the other FFs do). And almost ALL of them concluded (based on their superior knowledge and understanding of Locke's OWN WORDS and life circumstances) that Locke was NOT a Trinitarian Christian.

YOU don't have the knowledge of Locke that for instance John Marshall (not the FF, but the living scholar at currently at John Hopkins University) does. And I'm sure as Hell going to believe his superior knowledge and understanding of Locke's own words than yours.


Likewise I've seen Michael Zuckert (of Notre Dame) and Jeremy Waldron (of Columbia) debate Locke. And spoken personally with Paul Sigmund (Locke scholar at Princeton). Sigmund agrees with Marshall on Locke being a secret Arian. And each and every one of these men has forgotten more of the details of John Locke's writings and life history than you will probably ever know.

Tom Van Dyke said...

OFT:From the previous post, it appears Locke believed a person could be ignorant of particular scriptures, but once those are known, they cannot be disbelieved...

TVD: I read the Locke passage that way. But more importantanly, from that previous post:

OFT:that if the articles to be believed, were mandatory to make one a Christian, then the Apostles were not Christians, as they had no clue of the articles, they, not known until the Epistles were written.This actually parallels an argument from Thomas Jefferson, who no doubt copped it from Locke. Mr. Rowe, I believe Mr. Goswick moves closer to your own position here. Your efforts haven't been wasted. Please do take yes for an answer.

We have many pigheaded commenters on this blog whose positions have remained unchanged from their very first comments, as if they have never even read this blog and our discussions here. In fact, I'd venture they could give the swine flu to themselves.

Per Matthew 7:6, of course. At least Mr. Goswick takes our discussions seriously. We can safely accord him status as a human being.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And Jon, I wouldn't give you 2 cents for any Locke scholar who claims he knows the truth about Locke. They're so far all over the map that I can find you any 20 who disagree with your any 20.

The actual question is how the American Founders perceived him. Much more relevant. In fact, the only relevance, not only to this blog but to reality.

Our Founding Truth said...

OFT:From the previous post, it appears Locke believed a person could be ignorant of particular scriptures, but once those are known, they cannot be disbelieved...

TVD: I read the Locke passage that way. But more importantanly, from that previous post:>

Am I reading you right?

Jon:He says it right there that a man can disbelieve part of the Bible without danger to his salvation. That's what he means by "nay, disbelieve...."

Then that would be a contradiction of this in the same paragraph:

Locke:"They are truths, whereof no one can be rejected; none that is once known to be such, may, or ought to be disbelieved. For to acknowledge any proposition to be of divine revelation and authority; and yet to deny, or disbelieve it; is to offend against this fundamental article and ground of faith, that God is true." [bold face mine]

I just saw something!

Locke:"But yet a great many of the truths revealed in the gospel, every one does, and must confess, a man may be ignorant of; nay, disbelieve, without danger to his salvation: as is evident in those, who, ,allowing the authority, differ in the interpretation and meaning of several texts of scripture, not thought fundamental:" [bold face mine]

It appears to me, Locke is affirming the authority of scripture.

Jon:I've also been reading the top most Locke scholars who know and understand Locke's writings and the facts of his life a Hell of a lot better than your or I do (or than Jared Sparks, Price and the other FFs do).>

As for Sparks, I don't understand why you keep bringing him up; it's impossible for him to be right about Locke. He used the omission of Articles to label Locke, which cannot be done.

The Apostles didn't understand the Articles.

Jon:Okay the Apostles may not have understood the Trinity and if they were saved, all this does is cast doubt on the notion that you have to ACCEPT the Trinity to be saved! You see how this drive to claim Locke is dilluting the purity of your orthodox Christian faith. Or maybe you really will embrace theological liberalism, after Locke. Be my guest.

My entire point was to out Sparks and Price, and I included you because you closed me down.

We just take the next step with Locke, and that means going into "Disbelieving" fundamental doctrines, or anything in the Gospels and Acts, which even critics who call him a Deist, understand Locke affirmed.

He's a tricky guy to figure out, but I don't see him lying in a theological treatise, as he told his lordship Bishop Edwards, he wouldn't do that.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr. Goswick, you may find these of interest:

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=494

http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=1267

It would be good for you to have some scholarly allies and not have to wing this on your own.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, and here's the horse's mouth:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ROAfJfNfUq8C&dq=locke+waldron&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=ulal_XJXUF&sig=Y0aXU1lNwEBKFN_IB2fpgn__-VI&hl=en

Our Founding Truth said...

Tom, It's probably a good idea to get some allies, but at least on the first two links you gave, not one quote by Locke was posted in support of any conclusion. Anyway, the Reasonableness is Locke's Treatise on Christianity, the others, I'm not so concerned with. I want to know what Locke, and the framers believed about Scripture.

Here is Waldron:

"Since Scripture, which Locke believed to be infallible, asserts that Adam and the generations proceeding from him are one species or kind, and since revelation trumps rational doubt, Locke did not need to find another way to equality. This, of course, leaves the Essay and the Two Treatises as separate projects."

-Waldron, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor at Columbia Law School and Director of Columbia's Center for Law and Philosophy

Also, Locke:"a man may be ignorant of; nay, disbelieve, without danger to his salvation: as is evident in those, who, ,allowing the authority, differ in the interpretation and meaning of several texts of scripture, not thought fundamental"

Is allowing the authority the same as imposing your authority on the reliability of the text? Why didn't he write "their authority" instead of "the authority" It seems to me, the authority is about interpretation and meaning of texts of scripture not thought fundamental, not disbelieving that they are reliable.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Here is Waldron:

"Since Scripture, which Locke believed to be infallible
...

All I'm asking is that you follow up why Waldon asserts that. Then your arguments will be stronger and more solid. Waldron, as an established scholar, gets more wiggle room than you do to make such bland assertions [altho I bet he'll get a fight about that one]. I was attempting to give you a compass, not a map, on how to up your game, pointing you at scholars like Waldron. You're just making too many errors with your impatience and amateur quote-grabbing and it discredits your position. If you're writing to convince, then convince. If you're writing for therapy, like Lucy Van Pelt sez, that'll be five cents please.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I don't think Waldon said that exact quote. I think Victor Nuovo of Middlebury wrote that in a review of Waldron's work.

Our Founding Truth said...

Since Scripture, which Locke believed to be infallible...

Tom:All I'm asking is that you follow up why Waldon asserts that. Then your arguments will be stronger and more solid.

I mentioned that in my post. From the article he writes, he doesn't give any evidence(quotes) from Locke on the basis of his understanding. The article is about Natural Law, not infallibility.

From what I've read, it may be because of his believing Locke was a Messianic Christian, therefore affirming scripture, but that isn't much.

The other link talks about equality, etc.

Barely going over Waldron's book, I didn't see he mentioned infallibility or inerrancy once; maybe he assumed it.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Just get your act solid, Jim. Jonathan is open and vulnerable to solid arguments. It's a weakness of his, and why we're such good friends. And stop slagging on my homeboy. You're your own biggest enemy, not him.

You wrote:

Here is Waldron:

"Since Scripture, which Locke believed to be infallible...
Now you're backing off. Jesus, man. God gave us liquor and brains for a reason. Use them both well. Stop quote-grabbing for effect and start reading for understanding. Hit the [mental] gym and stop trotting out your 70 MPH fastball and pretending you're Sandy Koufax.

And Jim, I hit the internet at first with minimal work and a lot of bullshit. But after giving up numerous grand slams, I decided it was time to stop faking and start reading.