Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bill Fortenberry on Matthew Stewart, "Nature's God"

Check it out here. A taste:
Thus we see that both Pope and Bolingbroke, the two people that Stewart credits with introducing the phrase “Nature’s God” into English, ...

34 comments:

jimmiraybob said...

I must laud the inestimable doctor of Christian apologetics in being able to know the whole by so few of the parts. While Pope may not have recognized in Man a microscopic eye, I think today we can all behold in Mr. Fortenberry, the case of a most magnificent microscopic eye; to see so much scripture in the workings of a fly.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I meself was skeptical, but unlike you, "jimmiraybob," Mr. Fortenberry has stated his case--that notorious deists* Pope and Bolingbroke STILL were referring to the laws of "nature's God" as "God's Word," in other words, the Bible.

So man up and stop playing to the crowd, bro. I'm not saying FortenB is right, but you haven't laid a glove on him yet.

__________
*Bolingbroke, for all his non-orthodoxy, still seems to read the Bible as the divine and revealed Word of God on some level.

Instead of d-bagging Fortenberry on the edges, deal with that. Step up, Jim.



Jonathan Rowe said...

Since I've featured as much on Stewart's book as possible, and especially since there have been a dearth of negative reviews, I'm giving Fortenberry his hearing.

The kernel of useful truth I get from Fortenberry's focus on Bolingbroke & Pope is basically J. Waligore's thesis: The English Deists (especially the ones who influenced America's Founders: Pope, Bolingbroke, Shaftesbury, etc.) were "Christian-Deists" not "strict Deists." That is they believed in things like an active God, miracles, *some* revelation.

Bolingbroke's Bible was even smaller than Jefferson's.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Speaking of Shaftesbury, there's one of them today, and he's a few years younger than I am.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Ashley-Cooper,_12th_Earl_of_Shaftesbury

jimmiraybob said...

TVD - "Step up, Jim."

Ah, mon ami. You just know that I will. But first.

As Mr. Fortenberry writes, this is the same review that he put on Amazon in response to Stewart's Nature's God.

There is some expectation that when one presents a review of a book that one would actually have read the book. I am but a simple man. However, Mr. Fortenberry's review is clearly....how did you say it?,....oh yeah, clearly a "d-bagging." It is easily demonstrable, if you participate in the com sections in these parts, that as of the time of its posting, that Mr. Fortenberry had not read the book.

It is fairly clear that what he did do is shop around at online interviews and reviews and assorted flea markets and picked up a snippet here and a snippet there and then applied a very creative and imaginative redecoration of Stewart’s house.

I would assume that this is also the depth of understanding that he has of Pope. In a previous comments box he said this:

”If Pope was referring to the words of Scripture as accurately depicting the first and the last purpose of the human soul, then it would seem to follow that the God whom he described as “Nature’s God” was indeed the God of the Bible. In fact, Pope actually admitted this himself in his commentary on these lines. [and then cited a line that he attributed to Pope]



One problem is that I had to point out to him that what he claimed as an admission by Pope was actually the notes that William, Lord Bishop of Gloucester, provided to an edition of Pope’s work.

We might also look at the “if” premise. If Pope was actually citing Matthew – no, not Stewart but the apostle…..yeah, that one – then et Voila! But, Pope wasn’t citing Matthew. It is here that I give Mr. Fortenberry his highest score on use of Bible knowledge plus remarkable imagination combined with a triple chutzpah, Bravo! Not many can move like that.

Mr. Fortenberry’s problem, aside from figuring out which words are Pope’s, is that Pope is not citing Mathew. Pope is also not citing Mark or John or Luke or Saul or Scripture or the Bible or the Bishop of Rome or the heretic of Geneva. What we have here is a case of the similitude.

Had Mr. Fortenberry actually invested his time in comprehensively reading Pope’s work, and more importantly reading it in the context of Pope’s times, he would not be making such silly errors upon which to draw such grandiloquent conclusions.

As to Mr. Fortenberry’s reading of Bolingbroke, it is equally suspect. A while back I also had to correct him when he cited a passage or The Worksas the words of Bolingbroke and I had to point out that it was a quote from someone else that Bolingbroke was using – kinda changes the meaning when that happens.

So, while I appreciate your encouragement, I will continue to take the time to complete my project on getting to know Bolingbroke and Pope a little better first. That, of course, and in part, includes reading their work in the entirety. Much as I read Stewart’s Nature’s God – in its entirety as well as following through with reading the endnotes and many of the works cited therein.

To paraphrase what a famous dude once said, “A wascally wabbit's tale gets halfway around the world before the hunter has a chance to get his pants on.” I’m still getting the pants on.

In the meantime, what Jon said.

PS Did you pick up on my use of “parts” and “wholes?” Ya know where that comes from? I should at least get a couple of points for allusion to microscopic eyes and flies. [sound of wind rustling in the pines]……man, this is a tough room.

jimmiraybob said...

And Tom, maybe you and Mr. Fortenberry can do a little lifting too. What exactly is meant by "the God of the Bible?" Are we talking the Heavenly Host, Yahweh, Jehovah, the Morning Star, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Trinity? Are we talking Old Testament God or New Testament God? This would be an important distinction in looking at Bolingbroke.

Let's pick the target.

Tom Van Dyke said...

There is some expectation that when one presents a review of a book that one would actually have read the book. I am but a simple man. However, Mr. Fortenberry's review is clearly....how did you say it?,....oh yeah, clearly a "d-bagging." It is easily demonstrable, if you participate in the com sections in these parts, that as of the time of its posting, that Mr. Fortenberry had not read the book.

How many David Barton books have YOU read?




Bill Fortenberry said...

Actually, jimmiraybob, I managed to locate a copy of Stewart's book at a library and make my way through most of it before sharing my review on Amazon. Since then, I've also obtained a copy for myself to have as a ready reference.

Now, in regards to the phrase used by Pope, let me point out that Stewart himself linked Pope's use of this phrase with Bolingbroke's use in his letter to Pope prior to the writing of the Essay on Man. However, Stewart never mentions that Bolingbroke explained what he meant by this phrase. Bolingbroke said that following nature and nature's God means to follow God in His works (nature) and in His Word (the Bible). Now, if Bolingbroke and Pope were using the phrase as a reference to the same thing as Stewart claims, then it follows that Pope must also have been referring to the God of the Bible.

In regards to my errors, I have never claimed to be perfect, and I hope that I have demonstrated a willingness to accept correction when it is sufficiently substantiated. If you recall, I accepted your correction regarding the misattribution of the particular quote in question, and you should have noticed the correct attribution is given in my review.

Jonathan Rowe said...

"Bolingbroke said that following nature and nature's God means to follow God in His works (nature) and in His Word (the Bible)."

I remained UNCONVINCED that when Bolingbroke said "His Word" it means "the Bible."

What is "the Bible"?

Bolingbroke rejected, among other things, most of the Old Testament, St. Paul's writings, and the book of "Revelation."

Those writings of "sacred scripture" are not what Bolingbroke meant by "his word."

Tom Van Dyke said...

I remained UNCONVINCED that when Bolingbroke said "His Word" it means "the Bible."

There's the discussion. Thank you and good night.

FTR, I find it quite convincing, absent a cite to the contrary. In the same passage, he refers to the perversions of scripture, presumably by the papists and other assorted clerytypes.

Bill Fortenberry said...

Jon, what exactly do you think that Bolingbroke rejected those things from being a part of -- the Book of the Dead, the Shastra, the Quran, the Lord of the Rings?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Interesting you mention the Quran like it's some book from outer space.

It too claims to believe in the sacred scripture of "the people of the book."

Maybe "the book" of "the word" is the same one the Quran, Book of Mormon, and of the Jews, and Christians reference.

Bill Fortenberry said...

But the question is what collection of writings did Bolingbroke reject certain biblical passages from being a part of. I thought that his reference to the revelation received by the fathers of the Christian church made it fairly clear that he was speaking of the Bible, but maybe you know of some other collection of divine writings that fits that description.

By the way, I'm curious as to whether you think that Martin Luther's rejection of the book of James marked him as being something other than a Christian. Maybe he had the same holy book as Bolingbroke.

jimmiraybob said...

TVD - "How many David Barton books have YOU read? "

I have published no reviews of any David Barton book.

jimmiraybob said...

Mr. Fortenberry - ”Actually, jimmiraybob, I managed to locate a copy of Stewart's book at a library and make my way through most of it before sharing my review on Amazon.”

Made your way through? Most of it? Whatevs.

Remember, when you get to the Pearly Gates to just explain to St. Peter that you were under a lot of pressure and it really didn’t seem like lying since you were fighting the good fight for the Lord. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not.

July 12, 2014 at 6:12 AM: BF – “Jim, if you're reading the book, perhaps you could answer a question that I have about it.” Obviously don’t possess a copy yet.

July 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM: BF - “Like the rest of the article, and presumably Stewart's book, it is riddled with errors.” I’m assuming that you’re presuming because you don’t know what’s in the book.

July 23, 2014 at 10:28 PM: BF – “Well, I discovered that the Google preview includes the page from Stewart’s book which was quoted in the Globe article.” As I said, shopping for parts.

July 24, 2014 [no time stamp]: BF published An Astounding Collection of Errors at Amazon.

July 24, 2014 [no time stamp]: BF published ”Nature’s God: Were the Founders Pantheists?” at his web site.

So, to recap, you located a library at or after 10:29PM or maybe when the library opened the next morning, took the book home, meaningfully read it, researched and reviewed Bolingbroke’s and Pope’s work, formulated a thesis, wrote a review, and managed to post it in two locations within the maximum span of 25½ hours or so. I’ll admit to being something of a slow reader but it took me weeks to get through a first reading. You da man.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Anonymous jimmiraybob said...
TVD - "How many David Barton books have YOU read? "

I have published no reviews of any David Barton book.

August 17, 2014 at 5:59 PM


Blogger Bill Fortenberry said...
Actually, jimmiraybob, I managed to locate a copy of Stewart's book at a library and make my way through most of it before sharing my review on Amazon. Since then, I've also obtained a copy for myself to have as a ready reference.


As for you dogging Mr. Fortenstein in our comments boxes previously--and in the very first comment, the question about your not reading David Barton's books applies.

Now do you have a point about the topic? What does God's "word"--to which Bolingbroke explicitly refers-- mean if not the Bible?



jimmiraybob said...

TVD - "...the question about your not reading David Barton's books applies."

Who's talking about David Barton? I'm not. Mr. Fotenberry's not.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You called Mr. Fortenberry out in the very first comment of this thread, and have done nothing of value then or since.

Now do you have a point about the topic? What does God's "word"--to which Bolingbroke explicitly refers-- mean if not the Bible?

jimmiraybob said...

TVD - What does God's "word"--to which Bolingbroke explicitly refers-- mean if not the Bible?

I asked earlier that you and Mr. Fortenberry do some lifting and narrow down what you mean by "the Bible." Do some lifting.

So, what was Bolingbroke referring to that eventually ends up in the Bible? Hint: It's what conforms with reason and nature. Another hint: It is after the OT and before the bastardizing work of Paul and all the early church fathers and purveyors of "artificial theology" since the apostles. In essence, the revealed word of God is the simple message of Jesus without all the metaphysics and philosophy and imagination gone wild. What is evident - plainly read - of what Jesus, the Rabbi, taught. The simple moral precepts of Jesus.

And, to the best of my knowledge, Bolingbroke did not regard Jesus as God. But, he did regard Jesus as someone that divined the simple essence of natural religion and the Deity. Jesus tapped into the one true God that was available to all via reason.

So, once you remove all enthusiastic enhancements starting after what Jesus reportedly spoke and eliminating the OT, we're pretty much left with a God outside of the strict Hebrew God and a God as of yet untouched by later Christian metaphysics and theology.

At best, the revealed word of Bolingbroke's God is somewhere in the history of Jesus' teaching contained within the Gospels(1). And, this is not the God defined by centuries of drafting onto the simple religion of Jesus; first by the early Christian movement and later by appropriation of the gospel history into the Bible.

As always, Tom, you are encouraged to do some reading(2).

1) And even then, only what is conformable to reason:

"But since it is notorious that a certain order of men, who call themselves the church, have been employed to make and propagate a theological system of their own, which they call christianity, from the days of the apostles, and even from these days inclusively; it is our duty to examine, and analyze the whole, that we may distinguish what is divine from what is human; adhere to the first: implicitly, and ascribe to the last no more authority than the word of man deserves."

2) @

http://books.google.com/books?id=FoArAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA344&lpg=PA344&dq=%E2%80%9CYou+will+find+that+it+is+the+modest,+not+the+presumptuous+enquirer,+who+makes+a+real,+and+safe+progress+in+the+discovery+of+divine+truths.++One+follows+nature,+and+nature%E2%80%99s+God;+that+is,+he+follows+God+in+his+works,+and+in+his+word.%E2%80%9D&source=bl&ots=XwSxmcVGYN&sig=Cfzx3QPT3M4d5rqqr2BSS6NUvYE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4iLRU4CXJ-XH8AHZtIHoCQ&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9CYou%20will%20find%20that%20it%20is%20the%20modest%2C%20not%20the%20presumptuous%20enquirer%2C%20who%20makes%20a%20real%2C%20and%20safe%20progress%20in%20the%20discovery%20of%20divine%20truths.%20%20One%20follows%20nature%2C%20and%20nature%E2%80%99s%20God%3B%20that%20is%2C%20he%20follows%20God%20in%20his%20works%2C%20and%20in%20his%20word.%E2%80%9D&f=false

Tom Van Dyke said...

Anonymous jimmiraybob said...
TVD - What does God's "word"--to which Bolingbroke explicitly refers-- mean if not the Bible?

I asked earlier that you and Mr. Fortenberry do some lifting and narrow down what you mean by "the Bible." Do some lifting.
__________________

Just make your case and stop annoying everybody. "Revelation" means scripture, means the Bible--unless you have soemthing more than "no it's not."

Geez, you people have gotten so lazy.

Bill Fortenberry said...

Come on, jimmiraybob, we're not talking about the Summa Theologica here. Stewart's book is written on almost a kindergarten level compared to the material that is usually discussed here. Even a slow reader should be able to get through it in just a couple of days.

Bill Fortenberry said...

In regards to Bolingbroke, let me present a few passages that reveal to us first that he was a Christian and second that he was referring to the Bible (though not necessarily all of it) when he spoke of God's word.

To demonstrate that Bolingbroke was a Christian, we must first determine what it means to be a Christian. I have written a lengthy study of this question at: http://www.increasinglearning.com/the-minimalist-messiah.html, but the gist of it is that all one must do in order to become a Christian is believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day. This stated expressly in I Corinthians 15. Thus, to determine whether Bolingbroke was a Christian, we need only to discern whether he believed in the sacrificial death of Christ and His resurrection. Here are a few of the things that Bolingbroke wrote on that topic:

They disputed not only about the miracles that had been wrought, and were daily working among them, even about that decisive concluding miracle the resurrection of Jesus, but about the interpretation of their prophecies, which foretold the coming of the Messiah, and about the application of them to him.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vUSyllaj7H0C&pg=PA384

These declarations of Jesus before his crucifixion, and the charges he gave to his disciples after his resurrection, might embarrass them a little, and might cause some difference of opinion among them mat their first setting out.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vUSyllaj7H0C&pg=PA412

These reasons, which cut up the root of articificial theology, deserve, for that reason, to be more fully explained. If we do not acknowledge them, we assume that the Son of God, who was sent by the Father to make a new covenant with mankind, and to establish a spiritual kingdom on the ruins of paganism, and the reformation at least of Judaism, executed his commission imperfectly; we assume, that he died to redeem mankind from sin, and from death the wages of sin, but that he left them at the same time without sufficient information concerning that faith in him, and that obedience to his law ... Natural religion may be collected, slowly, perhaps, though sufficiently by natural reason, from the works of God, wherein he manifests his will to mankind. But a religion revealed by God himself immediately, must have been complete and perfect from the first promulgation in the mind of every convert to it, according to all our ideas of order.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vUSyllaj7H0C&pg=PA418

Bill Fortenberry said...

Now, to demonstrate that Bolingbroke was referring to the Bible when he spoke of the word of God, let me present the following two quotes in addition to the one already included in my review:

The genuine doctrines and dictates of Christianity, have not been conveyed to us by the first of these four ways; for the Saviour published his gospel by preaching, and by occasional discourses, and not by writing. But they have been preserved by the second; for two of the four evangelists had been disciples from the first, and witnesses, not only of all that had passed during his mission, but of his resurrection. They had, therefore, received immediately from the author the doctrines they published in his name.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vUSyllaj7H0C&pg=PA469

I may deny that the Old Testament is transmitted to us under all the conditions of an authentick history, and yet be at liberty to maintain, that the passages in it which establish original sin, which seem favourable to the doctrine of the Trinity, which foretel the coming of the Messiah, and all others of similar kind, are come down to us as they were originally dictated by the Holy Ghost.

http://books.google.com/books?id=KsoLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA205

Personally, I think that this is fairly clear, but just in case it's still a little uncertain, let me suggest a consideration of this statement from Bolingbroke:

Christianity, genuine Christianity is contained in the gospels; it is the word of God; it requires therefore, our veneration, and a strict conformity to it.

http://books.google.com/books?id=pm9JAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA109

But perhaps you might think such a statement to be too conciliatory toward Christianity to be a true conveyance of what Bolingbroke really believed about the Bible. In such a case, you may find this statement to be more to your liking:

If we add to these considerations that of the infinite number of copies, of version, and of versions of versions, which have given occasion to many alterations and interpolations, that are to be found, without going to Spinoza, to Hobbes, or to the fanciful author of the pre-adamitical system, we must be, I think, convinced that the Bible, which we call the word of God, is as little fit, by the manner in which it has been preserved, to be a uniform foundation of universal religion, as by the manner in which it was written and first published to world.

http://books.google.com/books?id=vUSyllaj7H0C&pg=PA32

No matter where you turn in Bolingbroke's writings, there is no way to escape the fact that when he spoke of following God in His word, he was referring to the practice of following the dictates of the Christian God which are contained in the Bible.

Jonathan Rowe said...

What did your Baptist John Leland think of Bolingbroke's "Christianity"?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Correction. It appears to be this "John Leland" who criticized Bolingbroke.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Leland_(Presbyterian)

jimmiraybob said...

Mr. Fortenberry - "Come on, jimmiraybob, we're not talking about the Summa Theologica here. Stewart's book is written on almost a kindergarten level compared to the material that is usually discussed here. Even a slow reader should be able to get through it in just a couple of days."


Ya know, you could always have come back and merely said that you had not read the book, that you had skimmed some passages, and that you were only commenting on a couple of minor items. And you could have said that you were going to go back to Amazon to change the title of your review from An Astounding Collection of Errors, which carries the inference that you'd read and are knowledgable of the whole work, to something like I found Something That I Think is an Error. And that would have been passable. But no. Instead you dig deeper.

Since I believe that Dr. Frazer has actually read the book, perhaps he can set me straight. If he comes forth and assures me that anybody but me and the slow readers of the world could easily have read the book* in a few hours, which apparently you did, or even a few days, which you claim can easily be done, then I will apologize for considering you a fraud.

Either way though, at least TVD will still love ya.

As to the rest of your proof texting, you da man. Please o please apply the Fortenberry Method to Mr. Beelzebub next. I have a friend that thinks you can't make him into a good Bible Christian and there's a bit of a wager on the barrel head.

As always, I implore the reader to read the actual texts - the primary documentation - to get the real version(s).

* In any intellectually meaningful way.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well I stand by my assessment that Bolingbroke teeters between "strict Deist" and "Christian-Deist."

I think a stronger point would be to argue Bolingbroke & Pope don't "own" the term "Nature's God" of the DOI.

If they do, it supports the "theistic rationalist"/"Christian-Deist" political theology thesis.

Jonathan Rowe said...

This is Leland on Bolingbroke:

https://ia600502.us.archive.org/1/items/supplementtofirs00lela/supplementtofirs00lela.pdf

My favorite title is "St. Paul vindicated against Lord Bolingbroke's charge of madness."

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