Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thank You, Dr. Frazer

I decided to do one final post in my response to Dr. Gregg Frazer to thank him and release him from this discussion. As I read over his response to some posts I made last summer, I realized that we were starting to become redundant and covering ground that has already been fairly well covered. The idea of a blog like this is to promote debate that helps frame a topic for others to read about and comment on. I think that has occurred and most people who have read our exchanges know clearly where each of us stands on Romans 13 and submission to authority. I think this is important to a history blog in that our two positions more or less represent the two positions that have been argued about in Christendom for thousands of years including the time of the American Revolution.

I was going to respond in detail to Dr. Frazer but said about all I wanted to say in the comments section of Jon's post. I maintain the story of Othniel in Judges 3 clearly shows that submission is not absolute. Why would God give his Spirit to someone to rebel against a King that God had directly sent to have authority over Israel if rebellion is always wrong? I have heard Frazer's counter argument and do not buy it.

I think he takes a verse like Romans 13 that is difficult to interpret and should only be used to support other verses at best and makes it the key verse in his argument. Any argument someone makes from the full context of the Bible is refuted with him stating that Romans 13 says clearly what he thinks the text says and that is the end all. The fact is that there are other ways to interpret that verse using the text. Mayhew and Locke do this effectively I feel. I think Locke's interpretation is the most reasonable one I have heard. If anyone missed it I posted on it in August.

Anyway, I think my final comment on Jon's post sums up well my thoughts on this whole exchange and Frazer's bias:

"Frazer stated:

"If the God Who tells us to be subject withdraws that authority and changes that message, then our responsibility changes."

Translation: (Mine)

Submission to authority is not absolute.

Gregg, you cannot say for sure that Othniel had that revelation or Washington did not. You are right when you say that Hitler claimed this too. The North and the South both stated that God was on their side in the Civil War. England and the Colonies both said God was with them in the Revolutionary War.

My entire point to you is that SOMEONE WHO IS EMPHATICALLY SURE THAT GOD IS ON THEIR SIDE IS WRONG in each of these cases. This should humble us and cause us to be willing to re-evaluate our positions all the time. I would say this is especially true for those like you that come to the debate table with a laundry list of assumptions based on deep biases. I stipulate to none of your Calvinist assumptions and to be taken seriously by non-believers you must stop assuming that your PhD gives you that right.

That is how it comes off even if it is not your intention. Tom is essentially neutral in this discussion between me and you and he keeps pointing this out to you as well. You assume that your position on Romans 13 is the correct one and that taints your historical look. In other words, you have a dog in that fight and cannot be totally objective."

With that thought I end this exchange, thank Dr. Frazer for all his time, retract my statement that he was hiding in a cave afraid to respond (some manipulation to get him to come back because I think he adds a lot when he comments on this blog), and allow him the final Calvinist word that I think sums up the biased assumptions that Frazer comes with to the debate table when discussing what the Bible and Romans 13 say about submission to authority: (he is quoting me here and then saying he does not agree)

You say 'Just because something happens does not mean God intended it to be that way.' Here’s where we just fundamentally disagree."

I really do thank you Dr. Frazer and do respect the fact that you took the time to respond to my thoughts. You are now released from this discussion unless you wish to continue though I do not think it would be productive personally.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr. Winpisinger---"King of Ireland"--- I'm honored that you nominate me as "neutral," as perhaps an honest broker in this discussion, but I admit my POV is far closer to yours than Dr. Fraser's.

But if I'm to play arbiter in this debate---and I hope I proved neutral enough to not box Gregg in as a defender of slavery based on his literal reading of the Bible---I must speak to you first:

You didn't "release" Dr. Frazer, because your essay accuses him of "bias"---your word. This is an insult to an accredited scholar. It just is. He'd be obliged to answer such a charge in defense of his reputation.

So I'm answering it for him.

I'm neutral in that I don't give a good godamm about the theological implications of the story of Othniel in Judges 3. Neither do our readers, neither did the Founders in any identifiable or quotable sense. Therefore, you guys are niggling on theology, not history.

And since "Dr. Gregg Frazer" is a name brand in scholarly discussions, I'll again recommend---insist---that the King of Ireland use his real name of Winpisinger in addressing or rebutting Dr. Frazer any further. If this is your signoff post, and you say it is, then if you ever start up with Gregg again [likely], it should be with a clean slate and on equal ground, Mr. Joseph Winpisinger.

To return to my favorite subject---meself---I never won an award in debate, only in discussion tournaments. I'd rather moderate a debate than win one, because like Dennis Prager, who is my hero, I value clarity more than agreement. Only through clarity can any person find their own way towards the truth and then check it for themselves. Test everything, hold onto the good.

And so, when Mr. Winpisinger writes

"My entire point to you is that SOMEONE WHO IS EMPHATICALLY SURE THAT GOD IS ON THEIR SIDE IS WRONG in each of these cases. This should humble us and cause us to be willing to re-evaluate our positions all the time."

That's surely what The Apostle [St. Paul] means by "Test everything." But that doesn't mean they're WRONG, except in perhaps not testing.

And further, Gregg Frazer's [the person, not the Ph.D] Jesus and Gospel are far more radical and less "practical" than Locke's, Mayhew's, or the Founders' Jesus, completely unconcerned with the concerns of this world.

We should test that, too. When some jerk slaps our face or makes us carry his pack for a mile, do we offer him our other cheek as well to slap or carry his pack an extra mile as well?

We wouldn't want to lose sight of this Jesus thing...

King of Ireland said...


We all come to the table with biases. Frazer is a Calvinist and his core assumptions cloud his view of certain things. Most Historians are this way. I been teaching on historiography, reliability, and bias in my history class and we are finding that bias taints a lot of the history handed down to us.

The point of the theological debate, at least for me, was to outline the positions in detail to so others can gain clarity. It is revelevant to a History blog because our positions more or less are the same as the two camps back then.

As far as me using my name I have. It is twice now that I have given my name. I can sign my posts if you wish. But since most people on the three sites I comment on know me as King of Ireland I am going to keep that name.

I actually agree with Frazer on many things. I jumped in on his side when he and Jon were discussing the Bible a few weeks back to back up what he was saying. I disagree with him on some things and was not totally clear where he was coming from.

Now I know. He believes everything that happens is God's plan and everything else flows from that assumption. It is an assumption that I cannot agree with at its core. It is also an assumption that many at the Founding had or had to overcome to join the cause.

I decided to spend many hours debating this topic because his view of Romans 13 was going unchallenged because most on this site do not know the Bible real well or understand the theology. They need to understand that there is another interpretation and where it comes from.

Tom, you want to keep the theology out of this but you cannot. The whole argument is really over Locke whether he was a rationalist or not. I think his first treatise and the commentaries he wrote on the Bible give some insight into answering that question. Even the whole reason vs. revelation thing is theological.

You are the only who cries foul when this comes up and say you are doing to defend the readers. If they are so mad about it how come no one else says anything?

I do appreciate you though and will give some thoughts to some of your suggestions. For the record, I think Frazer the person is ok with me. Especially, when he responded back. It showed me something.

One last thing: I do think you agree with me that the problem with him is that he thinks that his interpretation is the only interpretation. What I am telling you is that what he thinks about everything being God plan that happens is the underlying reason behind those thoughts. Even brilliant men have blind spots.

King of Ireland said...


Frazer and I would have a lot of agreement on the theological holes in Mayhew and others. We both, to some degree(I am re-evaluating many of my beliefs at this time in my life, are evangelicals.

What we disagree on is the political theology. That is the subject that is relevant to this blog. That is where I disagree with the frame Jon and Gregg use. It is not about if the founders were Christians it is about if the founders used Political theology that was Christian in the DOI.

Locke is central to this debate since he was a named source. YOu cannot use his philosophy and throw out his theology. They go hand in hand. That is what happened in the French Revolution when they threw out the First Treatise and only used the second.

Tom Van Dyke said...

King, I wrote what I wrote because I happen to agree with you, but if I'm to be neutral, I thought I should simply lay out what I think are fair terms for debate. And yes, I think you should sign your own name when taking Dr. Frazer on because of his professional status as a scholar.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Gregg, you cannot say for sure that Othniel had that revelation or Washington did not.

Doesn't orthodox Christianity/the Bible teach that God stopped revelation with the end of the New Testament.

That's one reason why, say, a Mormon or a follower of Elizabeth Clare Prophet could believed GW had "revelation" but an orthodox Christian should not.

King of Ireland said...


This is the whole problem. Revelation means different things to different people. I would say the same for Reason. Many teach that the Bible is special revelation in that it is the message from God to the world. This is different from general revelation which is God speaking through nature and conscience like Romans 1 and 2 talk about.

Greg and many other evangelicals would probably say that to violate a clear mandate from scripture(special revelation) by saying, "God told me to do it" is unacceptable. I would tend to agree in general if it is absolutely clear. Romans 13 is not. Both Locke's and Frazer's interpretation are at very least probable.

I personally believe that God speaks to us today through a personal relationship. I would call this revelation. I think the chief goal of life it to know God through revelation. I think this can be through nature, conscience, prayer, other holy books, movies, .... I personally believe that all of it should be subject to the special revelation find in the Bible.
Though I am re-evaluating a lot of the things I was taught by Evangelicals so I hold these positions lightly until I search all this out.

I think Gregg and I actually agree on most of what I just said he just feels that Romans 13 is clear and that any so called Revelation that would go against his reading of it would not be a revelation.

I plan on exploring the whole "right reason" subject again when I lay out the arguments of Gary Amos about where the arguments of DOI came from. He wrote the book specifically to refute Dr. Frazer and others who hold the same views on the Founding. Though he did not name Frazer by name.

The bottom line is that Romans 13 is a weak argument to stand on as someone trying to prove the Christian Nation Myth thesis because it is such a hard verse to interpret.

Jonathan Rowe said...


I can accept most of what you write except the last paragraph, I must clarify: Gregg's argument on Romans 13 is just ONE prong as to why America was not founded to be a "Christian Nation" in a political theological sense.

He concedes that many who pass his thesis' test for "Christianity" (a 10 point test formed by a theological lowest common denominator among the largest then existing Churches) like for instance John Witherspoon and Sam Adams were "Christians."

Romans 13 doesn't even make it into Frazer's top 10 of important points on what it means to be a "Christian."

And I think his intellectual adversaries understand this. Barton, Amos et al. might fight night and day over whether Frazer properly understands Romans 13, but ask them about whether Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, infallibility of the Bible are central tenets to "Christianity" and they have a problem re what the key FFs provably believed and "Christian" political theology.

King of Ireland said...


I understand the Romans 13 is far down on Frazer's list. I was not talking about him in the last paragraph. I was talking about others, especially some on Dispatches, that throw this argument around without understanding what Romans 13 states.

I think you do this at times also. I went back to read some Romans 13 posts on this site and saw the Babka challenged you on the same point. Anyway, what you stated is why I decided to move on:

Romans 13 is a small part of his argument.

It is my intention to move on to the meat of the debate and prove that the frame that he chose for this discussion is the wrong frame. It matters little whether the men he cites were Orthodox Christians or not. What does matter is whether the ideas they promoted in the DOI were Christian or not.

He attempts to evaluate their beliefs on doctrines of salvation and build an argument from there. That is not the thing that needs to be evaluated. It is where they got their political theology and philosophy. Secularists throw out the former emphasize the latter. This is seen very clearly with how people tend to use John Locke.

King of Ireland said...

I meant to say that Locke and Frazer's interpretations are possible not probable in my longer comment above in response to Jon.

Jonathan Rowe said...

He attempts to evaluate their beliefs on doctrines of salvation and build an argument from there.

NO he doesn't. But this point is important to explore. This is how Christian Nationalists evangelicals (i.e., the crowds that David Barton speaks to) define Christianity.

Gregg forms a 10 point lowest common denominator among the creeds of the largest "Christian" sects in 18th Century America. And this includes Roman Catholics and Anglicans who would not pass the "born again"/salvation std. of evangelicals.

In other words, while it's still a tight test, it's a rung lower (or broader) than the evangelical/salvation test for Christianity.

This is a point evangelicals need stressed. When they hear George Washington was a "Christian" by folks like David Barton, they hear in their minds a "born again" or "regenerate" Christian.

Some folks believe this to the point of delusion. I was shocked once debating a blogger who claimed that while St. Augustine probably wasn't a "Christian," George Washington was. What nonsense.

King of Ireland said...

But Jon you guys cannot prove the Christian Nation Myth thesis true by the route you go. All you can say it that Barton is wrong. Even if that is true it does not get us any closer to answering the question of whether this nation was founded on Christian ideas. I repeat people want to take Locke's philosophy and throw out the political theology that underpins his thoughts on these subjects.

This is the issue to focus on in my mind not whether each founder followed the ten points of Frazer doctrine or whatever. Whether the men were "Christian" or not is secondary to the question of where the ideas they used to found a nation came from.

If there is a root to these ideas we better well find lest someone chop the roots and uproot the tree thus slowly killing it. Of all the questions one can ask about the founding this is the one we have to get right or bad things will happen.

Gregg Frazer said...

I need to address this "Calvinist bias" claim.

I do not have a Calvinist bias. If I did, I'd believe in limited atonement -- but I don't. If I did, I'd be an amillenialist -- but I'm not. I put the views of Calvin and Calvinists to the same test as everything else.

My "bias" is for a method of interpretation that tries to determine what the author intended to say. This is true for ANY text -- not just the Bible. When I teach Plato's Republic, we use Allan Bloom's translation. When I teach Aristotle, we use Carnes Lord's translation. When I teach Machiavelli, we use Harvey Mansfield's translation. Why? Because these are the most direct translations. They simply translate what the author said without "adjusting" it to modern sensibilities or without "Americanizing" it.

It was this method of interpretation based on what God said in context in the original language which led me to believe some elements of Calvinism -- those clearly taught -- and to reject other elements of Calvinism -- those clearly unbiblical. I was not raised a Calvinist (quite the contrary); I came to the parts with which I identify via reading the Bible properly. I did not WANT to believe certain elements of Calvinism -- any more than you or Tom or Jon does. I had no choice but to accept what God said -- whether it was comfortable or convenient or "rational" or not.

When King sees me express belief in a God Who's plan cannot be thwarted and he interprets that as a "Calvinist bias," it's really a bias for what the Bible says (e.g. Isaiah 14:26-27). It just so happens that Calvin saw that it says it, too.

If I have a bias, it is the belief that the Bible REALLY IS God's Word. If it is, then it should be followed -- all of it, not just what seems convenient or agreeable.

Frankly, I don't understand why someone who does not believe that the Bible is God's Word would pay any more attention to it than to the latest NY Times bestseller or to Gone With the Wind or to Homer or to Spinoza, etc.

On the other hand, if it IS God's Word, then we should be trying to figure out exactly what it says -- not what we'd prefer that it say.

Again, I do not think that my interpretation is the only interpretation -- that would be silly since we talk about others. I actually held a different view of Romans 13 at one time! I think that there is only one CORRECT interpretation (the author meant to say something particular) and, yes, I think that mine is the correct one. There would be no point in holding to an interpretation if I didn't think it was correct.

Actually, I am quite open to being persuaded, but only on the basis of what the Bible says (and rational inferences drawn from it which do not contradict it). I am not open to changing views because I PREFER a different message or wish it said something more to my liking.

I believe that God knows more than I, so my job is to get in line with what He says. Quaint, I know, but there it is.

Gregg Frazer said...

Re the Declaration's "Christian" content:

a) none of the three primary contributors to it were Christians

b) neither was Locke a Christian

c) even IF Locke were a Christian, Jefferson did not identify him as the only -- or even primary -- source. He said the ideas came from Aristotle (pagan), Cicero (pagan), Locke, Sidney, and others.

d) there is no specifically Christian terminology or content in the Declaration -- it is all stuff that deists and Jews would be comfortable with (and they were and are today)

I am glad that King thinks it important to find out where their ideas came from ("where they got their political theology and philosophy"), as that is the subject of a 90-page chapter in my dissertation. One of the many problems with Amos is that he thinks that Jefferson and Adams and Franklin didn't really know what their influences were -- or that they were somehow inspired to write what they did not believe. It's intriguing to me that King, who has trouble with the inspiration of Paul, would believe in the inspiration of Jefferson.

Gregg Frazer said...

I offer a summary of the Romans 13 issue and of the King of Ireland's unintentional support for my position:

1) The ONLY instruction we are given in the Bible regarding authority is to submit and obey.

2) We are NEVER given instruction in the Bible to rebel or resist authority.

3) We are NEVER given PERMISSION in the Bible to rebel or resist authority.

4) While I have never argued that we cannot draw inferences from Scripture, King makes a persuasive case that we cannot infer that Othniel or others received instruction from God to rebel. So, if King is right, then NO ONE in the Bible is given instruction or permission to rebel or resist authority. Thanks for the support, King.

5) King makes a case for Locke's interpretation of Romans 13 -- "that God wants all men to submit to and obey the institution of government itself even if one is a Jew and the government Gentile." If he's right that Gentile rulers must be submitted to as well as Jewish rulers, then we must submit to ALL RULERS (since all rulers are either Jewish or Gentile) -- which is what I've said all along. Thanks for the support, King.

6) There are passages in the Old Testament in which God says that He is going to remove authority from certain rulers (e.g. Jer. 27:6-7; Isa. 14:24-25), but King wouldn't recognize such passages as legitimate because he doesn't believe that God is sovereign and in control of events. So, from King's perspective, we must conclude that God does not remove the authority of rulers. From that perspective, it would always be wrong to rebel. One more time: thanks for the support.

Gregg Frazer said...

Open question to King and Tom and whoever wants to chime in:

What are the ideas on which the United States was based that are distinctively Christian?

King of Ireland said...

Frazer stated:

"When King sees me express belief in a God Who's plan cannot be thwarted and he interprets that as a "Calvinist bias," it's really a bias for what the Bible says (e.g. Isaiah 14:26-27). It just so happens that Calvin saw that it says it, too."

It is your interpretation of what the Bible says and reasonable men have disagreed for years.

Frazer also stated:

"While I have never argued that we cannot draw inferences from Scripture, King makes a persuasive case that we cannot infer that Othniel or others received instruction from God to rebel. So, if King is right, then NO ONE in the Bible is given instruction or permission to rebel or resist authority. Thanks for the support, King."

We can infer and it is possible that he may have had revelation from God but not DOGMATIC. His revelation of the worth of the individual made in God's image from nature, conscience and in the Hebrew account of Genesis may have inspired him to rebel against a tyrant that was destroying that image repeatedly through brutal acts. Maybe God's spirit was with him because he had a zeal for that image and the worth it entails.

This is the whole point and AMW calls you out on it as Positive Liberty:

It is so hard to discern the voice of God(prophets lied at times see the one that lied to the other prophet and got him to disobey God) one can never be too sure. It is so hard to interpret the hard parts of the Bible to be sure. I mistrust people that are so sure. Why? They are often wrong.

Your bias is of a predestinationist. So try not to side step what you know I was saying with a lecture on the 5 points. Predestination is the only I have ever brought up to you in this conversation.

Anyway this is a dead horse on to a good question that I plan to address over the next year:

Open question to King and Tom and whoever wants to chime in:

"What are the ideas on which the United States was based that are distinctively Christian?"

I can assure you that this question cannot be answered by figuring out if Jefferson or Adams were Christians. All that matters is if the ideas were.

From what I read(on the internet so it could be unreliable) the French got a hold of Locke's Two Treatises and did not print the Theological piece that refuted Patriarcha. It stated that this is the version that came to America.

Most people have no idea that Locke wrote commentaries on whole books of the Bible. Most people have no idea that he talked a lot about salvation being by faith. Most people have no idea that his whole philosophy of government was prefaced with a First Treatise full of arguments from the Bible.

It is entirely possible that Jefferson and company may have not known this. This is still not that relevant. Non Christians use Christian ideas all the time. Some know it and just use it and give no credit to where it came from and others are oblivious.

I guess you are familar with Amos. This is where this discussion needs to turn. It is where my academic attention will turn soon. I am either going to pursue a Natural Law theology degree or History. I am not sure.

But I hope to answer this question some day in a thorough manner. I think Amos is on to something but does a poor job of discussing where the Founders got the ideas from. Madison is clear to me in that Witherspoon was well versed in this political theology the others I am not sure.

I would like to read your thesis though where can I get one. Maybe that is where I should start.

Dr. Frazer,

Do you agree we have covered the Romans 13 ground enough that it is clear where we both stand enough to move on to other things? I hope so because I think we are beating a dead horse and should agree to disagree at this point.

King of Ireland said...

By the way Gregg I used have another interpretation of Romans 13 too and changed my mind based on arguments I had and going back and re-evaluating what others said. I did not base my change on what I wanted it to say.

I have no problem obeying the hard parts of the Bible. When it says to go and make disciples it was hard to go to Nomadic Tibet and risk being beaten in my legs with pipes by the Chinese by giving out Bibles, teaching them about God and praying for people who were sick right in public. It was even harder when you are on a bus full of monks who have killed thousands of Christians over the years who came to Tibet and will put a knife in your back without a thought to see a lady half dead and wonder if you should pray for her.

It was hard and I argued with my self but the Bible says to lay hands on the sick. It is even harder when you do not know the language. But I got up and put my hands together and pointed to her hoping her Dad would realize what I was asking to do. He was desperate and let me.

I prayed and prayed and then I looked up and the Monks were smiling and the Dad was in tears and thanked me. Tibetan men do not cry. They go and ask the Chinese to beat them in defiance just so they can prove they will not cry to let them know they cannot break them. This was a miracle that long time missionaries could not believe. They just do not cry and not in public for sure.

Turned out she had just been struck by lightening. Was she healed? Who knows but I did pray for another person in the market that came back healed and in their right mind many weeks later so much so that people recognized it in the market and my Tibetan Buddhist friend emailed me and told me about how he was all better asking for Bibles.

So I understand I do not need to just obey the easy parts. I make my decisions on prayer and personal study the same as you. Everyone who differs on this issue from you is not trying to make things say what they want it to say.

King of Ireland said...

If Cicero's ideas are consistent with the Bible why does it matter if he is pagan or not? Talk about Strawmen when did I say Jefferson was inspired? Am I Amos? What a leap!

King of Ireland said...

Frazer starts it up again with:

"1) The ONLY instruction we are given in the Bible regarding authority is to submit and obey. "

They you are saying both are absolute. Then Peter was in sin when he did not obey the rulers and preached the gospel anyway. Thanks for the support for my point that if submission is absolute then obedience must be too since Titus 3 says both! Now so does Frazer.

Since we both agree that Peter was not in sin doing this then submission is not absolute. Peter did not get some "special revelation" from God to rebel. He just did what he knew was right.

By the way I broke about 57 Chinese laws by praying for the Tibetan woman. I think Jesus told the Pharisees who were so concerned with the letter of the law that they overlooked human suffering that they were straining out a nat and swallowing a camel. I think David also took the Priest bread( a clear violation of cermonial law) and used it for food.

In your sure fire judgement of Washington and Co remember mercy. Maybe they read the annals of the history of tyrant pricks and decided not to swallow the camel? I think they got mad at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath right? What did he do?"

He violated what they thought the Bible said. They were so sure they were right but in the end they were wrong. They had PHD's too! There is a time for everything. One time God told David to go out and fight the next time he told him to wait for the breeze in the trees! The point is to hear God and have his compassion.

If Hitler was a baby and I knew 100 % What he was going to do when he grew up I would blow his head off as a baby. Would this stopped God's plan for him to kill 10, 000 Jews? Is that a bad thing?

You started it up again not me!

King of Ireland said...

Frazer states on another blog:

"Since we have direct revelation from God that rebellion is not right – at least without God Himself raising up a deliverer – we would need direct revelation from God telling us that He had appointed such a deliverer to do what He’s otherwise prohibited."

The original question I asked you is if you have any proof that Washington was not raised up as a deliverer. All you did was change the subject and ask me if I had any he was. I provided evidence that he thought he was but since I am not God have no proof that he was. But the question still stands:

Do you have any proof that Washington did not have a revelation from God to do what he did? I cannot say Othniel was right for sure but you cannot say Washington was wrong either for sure. We never know who the deliverer is. It seems you think it is possible that Othniel did not know he was and maybe was in sin and God used it.

All one can do it what he thinks is right. Romans 13 is not 100 percent clear for sure. If fact, it may be one of the most unclear verses in an unclear book. You use to build a doctrine. Unwise Dr. Frazer very unwise. You are the one with the Thesis and the burden of proof is on you not me.

You even admit to times when even the most diligent Christian cannot know for sure. What if God was delivering the US in 1776 and someone resisted it by helping the King? Can that person know for sure which side to take? Make your case! If not then this is not as clear as you make it seem.

AMW at Postitive Liberty is making some strong points against you. I think it is because you look at the branches and miss the trees.

Gregg Frazer said...

I was merely trying to correct the whole "Calvinist bias" notion. If you mean "predestinationist bias," that’s a different thing. "Calvinist" does not equal "predestination" and "predestination" does not equal "Calvinist." Even then, predestination is not my presupposition; the fact that the Bible is the Word of God is my presupposition. I only believe in predestination because I think the Bible teaches it, not because it has some compelling value in and of itself.

I did not mean to suggest that you take the easy way out; I was trying to be clear that I don't read into Scripture what I'd prefer it to say. It often seems as if you and others think that I WANT my view to be correct and, therefore, interpret the Bible conveniently to fit my preference. I was trying to emphasize that, being a fallen human being, I might not prefer that much of what the Bible teaches be true, but since I believe that it teaches it, I have no choice but to bow to it.

Re Othniel: like I said, he either received special revelation from God overruling what God had taught to men generally or he generated his own revelation to himself and sinned.

We can be quite sure that the words of the prophet to Jehu were from God because the Bible says so.

I wasn't trying to sidestep anything -- while you've expressed disagreement with me regarding God's control of history, that's not the same thing as predestination and it isn't all that you've brought up. You've continually brought up a supposed "Calvinist bias" on my part -- so I was addressing that. If that isn't what you meant to say, I can hardly be accused of sidestepping based on inability to read your mind.

My comment about you apparently believing Jefferson to be inspired was an inference (wrong, you tell me) based on your gushing remarks about Amos and his views. I assumed that you agreed with his views. If you do not agree with his views, but have just been trumpeting them for argument's sake, then I did, indeed, build a straw man in that case. I apologize. I wouldn't want a straw man made by me to go unacknowledged.

Amos attributes Christian influence to men who were not Christians and who never attributed their ideas to Christianity or the Bible -- so, apparently, they were inspired in some way. Since: a) the ideas are not distinctively or inherently Christian, and b) the writers were not Christians, and c) the writers did not claim Christian influence, it seems to me that the only logical conclusion from Amos's claims is that they were inspired.

Friendly advice from one who's gone the Ph.D. route: if you're thinking of pursuing a degree in theology or in history, I would encourage you to seek out better, more reliable sources than Amos.

Gregg Frazer said...

The first statement in my summary was made in the context of our discussion, so I assumed that readers would understand that without having to re-tread ground. Apparently, you did not understand that, so I thereby confess that I misstated the initial statement. It should read:

1) The ONLY instruction we are given in the Bible regarding authority is to obey unless/until the authority commands us to disobey God; then we must disobey the command, but remain in subjection.

The statement was intended to affirm that we are only given instruction to submit and to obey (regardless of extent), never to resist or rebel. I apparently wrote it poorly.

Thank you for notifying me that I needed to be clearer. Obviously, I assumed too much from the reader.

Gregg Frazer said...

If it were God's plan that Hitler live and kill millions of people, then you would not have been able to kill him -- unless you're the answer to God's question in Isaiah 14 -- i.e. unless you're more powerful than God and can thwart what He's planned. If you are powerful enough to thwart God’s plan then it’s a valid question; if you’re not, it’s an invalid hypothetical. [alert: This is MY opinion based on what the Bible directly says]

Actually, I believe the ORIGINAL question about Washington was MINE, asking you for some EVIDENCE (not even "proof") that Washington was specially raised up by God as such a deliverer. But, be that as it may:

I have proof from my theological viewpoint that Washington did NOT receive special revelation from God -- because God isn't giving special revelation any more (until the events of Revelation 19). There was a 400 year period between the Old and New Testaments in which God was silent and did not give special revelation to men. We have been in another of those periods since the book of Revelation was finished.

But, for those who do not share my theological position, I cannot prove that Washington did not receive special revelation from God.

We do know, however, that: a) Washington did not claim to receive special revelation from God; b) Washington did not appeal to such a claim when commanding troops; c) no one else claimed that he had received special revelation from God; d) we have no special revelation from God confirming a special appointment to Washington; and e) in neither theology nor history is the proper default position that an assumption is true unless you can prove it is untrue -- quite the reverse. Should we assume that Washington liked hamsters -- or should someone who says that he did provide some evidence?

Gregg Frazer said...

I am actually confident that Othniel knew that God assigned him the special role of deliverer (I assumed the agnostic position to play out the implications of your contention) -- I am quite confident that God would have made that known to him. But, if God did not make that known to him, then it would have been a sin for him to do what he knew (as far as he knew) to be wrong.

God holds men accountable for the revelation that they have.


You say that Romans 13 is not 100% clear -- to keep you accountable to what you complain about in me, you mean to say that YOU don't think Romans 13 is 100% clear -- right? Now, actually, I know that you're expressing your opinion -- as do I in such things. But, since you get annoyed when I don't identify it each time as my opinion or my view, etc., you should so identify yours as a good example to me. As for Romans 13, I THINK it is 100% clear.

Actually, I don't build a doctrine based solely on Romans 13 -- the rest of Scripture supports my view, too (alert: that’s MY view). But even if I did build on Romans 13 alone, I don't quite see why it's unwise to build a doctrine on a passage that YOU consider unclear, but that: a) is directly stated; b) in context, there is no reason to believe that it should be treated as poetry or allegory or hyperbole; and c) that the vast majority of the church has considered crystal clear for centuries. There would be no doctrines if we had to wait for 100% recognition of a doctrine before proclaiming it or holding to it.

I admit that it is difficult to know what we should do during times of revolution/transition between regimes. That is the ONLY time it is difficult to know. If only you would admit that it is not at all difficult otherwise -- that we should be subject to all regimes when there is no doubt who is wielding authority.

As I've said (numerous times), we are accountable for our obedience to God's instruction to be subject to authority. We must do all that we can to obey that instruction. When it is difficult to know who is in authority, it becomes a matter of Christian liberty and we should pray and study and ask for wisdom to obey His instruction. In doing that, we DO know that God would not want us to disobey what He has revealed to us. So we DO know that we should not resist authority. But, we may end up being subject to more than one authority. And it would certainly be clear that we should not resist the authority that HAS been over us and that might be going out of existence. Until it goes out of existence, it is an existing authority and, therefore, established by God and not to be resisted. That much we DO know. So, we may not obey all that we should, but at least we won’t do what we KNOW is wrong.

In 1776, there was no special revelation from God [none has been brought forward] to instruct believers that God wanted them to participate in rebellion against Great Britain’s authority over them. Absent such special revelation to amend the special revelation that they already had – which clearly (my opinion and that of the church for 1600 years) instructed them not to resist authority – their clear responsibility was not to participate. God holds men accountable for the revelation that they have – not for what He has not revealed to them.

So, in the example you give: since the only revelation available to the one who helped the king was to be subject to authority; and since the king was his authority; then he should help the king and I believe God would honor that intent to obey Him by obeying the authority God placed over him. I believe that God does not place men in positions in which they have to sin. If it is a sin for him to do it because it would be (unbeknownst to him) opposing God’s plan, then it would be what the Old Testament law calls an “unintentional” sin.

I’m still not clear on how you can believe in God raising up deliverers, though, since you don’t believe that He has control over history.