Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Is the Bible historical?

Modern history as a discipline makes certain demands on the source material although this is also somewhat dependant on the underlying philosophy that one subscribes to. As a word "history" refers to the events that antedate us.

Fundamentally history can be considered as a question of truth concerning the events of the past. Now all narrative is flavoured by the author, even if it is just that way certain events are placed adjacent or separate in the story which may suggest that a correlation is or is not causative. Further, as various histories differ, or change over time, some postmoderns have argued that we cannot know history at all.

Ignoring the epistemological question, the change over time reflects some aspects of history more than others. Consider World War 1. Various histories could debate what they thought were the predominant causes for that war depending on underlying presuppositions, and how they weigh the significance of various events; but all histories would agree that there was a war throughout Europe between 1914 and 1918.

So while historians are interested in the why, the events and dates of history often stand on firmer ground. As often stated, chronology is the backbone of history.

A couple of problems that one could have in analysing Scripture is the lack of corroborating material for some events, and the way that certain events are narrated.

As a question of truth, the narrative portions of the Bible are presented as historical fact. It is history in that sense, and it is unreasonable to ask tho ancients to write in a format that moderns have come to prefer.

As to the way events are narrated and God's involvement in history, many moderns have an anti-supernatural bias which may lead them to minimise or discount biblical narrative.

This brings us to the corroboration question. In many ways this is just a question of certainty: the more (independent) people who discuss an event, the greater our confidence in it. Though true, we can only work with what we have. It is faulty to think that lack of further sources call into question a source. Rather we can hold something tentatively or securely depending on what knowledge is to be had.

That said, there are some considerations with Scripture that speak to its veracity. Firstly, there are some corroborations external to Scripture that confirm what Scripture says; both written sources and archaeological reconstructions. Secondly, when an author is shown to be reliable in one area it is reasonable to think him reliable elsewhere. Thirdly, negative features suggest reliability. It is one thing to diss the foreigners, another to reveal the warts of your own people. The frank honesty of the authors of Scripture with regard to the failures of both the leaders and the citizens of Israel is unusual.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Monday quote

Just as Adam's side was opened to bring forth the first woman, Jesus' side was opened to bring forth the church. His piercing produced a fountain of life for us!

Lee Grady

Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday quote

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.

C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Women are feminine and men are masculine

I was reading this piece which is addressing the trinitarian debate on the "Eternal Subordination of the Son". The conclusion,
Being a wife is a role; being a husband is a role; being a servant is a role; being a citizen is a role. Being male and female are not roles. While our biological sex necessarily shapes the roles we hold (in marriage, a woman will be a wife and not a husband), submission does not stem directly from gender but from a role that exists in the context of relationship. A wife submits to her husband not because he is a “man” but because he is her husband and has committed himself to certain vows and duties in the context of their marriage. The same is true of a servant and master, a congregant and elder, and a citizen and his government. Submission happens in context of specific privileges and responsibilities found in specific relationships bound by specific covenants.

In contrast to the belief that women are ontologically (and therefore eternally) subordinated to men, we believe with Paul in I Corinthians 11:3 that “the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. [Emphasis added]
And she is right that a wife submits to her husband and not to other men. In fact, wives should not submit to men just because they are men. Yet I think the author misses something.
Herein lies the problem. Grudem and Ware argue for submission of the Son on the basis of role. So far, so orthodox. But when they apply ESS [eternal subordination of the Son] to gender, they have tied submission to the essence of femaleness and not simply the role of being a wife. By necessity then, when they talk about the Son’s submission to the Father, it is almost impossible not to hear it as an ontological argument. Why? Because Bible-believing Christians know gender (more accurately, biological sex) to be an ontological category. We know that being female is an identity given by God and intrinsically bound up in the imago Dei. This is the fundamental argument against transgender positions: “So God made man[kind] in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” '

When these leaders emphasize female submission instead of wifely submission, they are speaking of submission as if it were an ontological characteristic. [Emphasis in original]
Now without getting into the trinity debate specifically, it seems to me that leadership is a masculine quality and that submission is a feminine quality. When a woman runs a household (whether servants or just children) she is exercising masculine qualities. And when a man obeys his boss he is exhibiting feminine qualities. All men and all women have both, but a man has more masculine qualities and should not neglect them, and women have more feminine qualities and should not neglect them either.

The problem isn't when men obey appropriately (being feminine) it is when they neglect leadership (lacking masculinity). Likewise, strong women are not necessarily a problem, in fact the attribute can be quite appealing. The problem is in women usurping authority and acting in a rebellious manner.

Therefore the question is not so much: Does submission stem from gender (female) or stem from a role (wife)? The question is more, Why do wives submit and not husbands (generally)? What is it about the roles and why do men and women fit those roles? Is it arbitrary? Or are there qualities that aid and inhibit leadership and submission? Does protection go with leadership? Does putting one's life at risk go with leadership? Does provision go with leadership? Does nurturing go with submission? Does respectfulness go with submission? Etc.

If those qualities in themselves are masculine or feminine, cannot a composite of the masculine qualities that make up leadership also be masculine? Likewise submission feminine? This means that a mother is masculine in relationship to her children when she is leading them. And (male) soldiers are feminine in relationship to their commander. There is nothing wrong with this as the commander is doing the protecting and the soldier is doing the respecting.

Yet women are intrinsically very feminine and men are intrinsically very masculine.

The authors are arguing for the submission stemming from the roles and not the gender without asking why the genders are assigned the roles.

As mentioned, I think (like these authors) that wives are to be submissive to their husbands not to men in general. Further, I would say to complementarians that they need to realise that the egalitarian argument for the high status of women needs to be heard.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The dominion mandate is given to them. It is given to the man and it is given to the woman. Together they are to fill the earth and subdue it. Together they have dominion. Everything in the earth in under the woman as well as the man.

But to the egalitarians I would argue that men and women are not interchangeable sans their genitals. Women are feminine and men are masculine. This will work its way out into society and culture and a culture where this distinction is not present is disregarding how God made us. Women should not be in combat, all things considered. By all means teach your daughter how to defend herself, so that when the army breaks down the walls, or when the criminal breaks in and her husband is away, she may put an evil man to flight. There is nothing wrong with having Jael know more that one use for a tent peg, or a woman being resourceful with a millstone, but you should not send your daughters to the frontline.

Considering other occupations, it is to be expected that more men will be in the dangerous occupations and more women in the caring ones. So the problem isn't any one example of a man being a nurse, or a woman being a cop. Given the habitus of the average person we need strong men to move patients in hospital. We also need lady cops involved in dealing with sexual crimes against women. But if all the cops are girls and all the nurses are guys something is awry. Especially if all the women also put their children in daycare, school, and after-school care from birth to adulthood.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Drawing men resistibly or irresistibly

In my post Drawn by the Father I conclude
It is not so much that the Father is drawing people who don't know God to Jesus; he is drawing those who know him to meet his Son.
That is, the passage is not so much about drawing men to faith in Jesus from a position of non faith, but drawing men who already belong to the Father so that they may also trust Jesus.

Others have commented that the passage
Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:43–44) 
means that the Father is drawing people to faith Jesus. That is to become a Christian from a position of unbelief one needs the Father to draw him.

Now I think that the passage as it stands alone could say that. Further, regardless of this passage I believe God is wooing men that they may come to him.

However, the larger context of John 6 causes me to question the common interpretation. As I show in my earlier post, Jesus is repeatedly associating himself with the Father and connecting his mission with the Father's mission. The point of the passage is to make this  connection. The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father, compare John 10:30. 1 John 2:23 says.
No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
John throughout his gospel and his letters identifies the Son with the Father. Although one could read the passage about the Father drawing in isolation to mean that God draws unbelievers to salvation in Christ, it is more in keeping with John's message here and elsewhere to read the passage as God drawing his own to Christ: the Father revealing Jesus.

Confirmation of this interpretation is seen in Jesus calling himself the manna from God. "It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven [God did], but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven." Jesus is saying, "God is giving people me. God is drawing men to me." It is not about drawing men resistibly or irresistibly, it is about giving men Jesus.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Monday quote

One need only note that the choice between salvation as dealing both with “trespasses” or “debts” (plural) and with liberation from the power of (the) evil (one) was a choice apparently not faced by Jesus in his formulation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Simon Gathercole


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