Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Chinese Buffets --- A Scholarly Study of Divine Providence

One of the goals upon the triumphant return to the Golden State is to stop living the grad-student lifestyle with regards to erratic sleeping hours and nigh-suicidal diet choices. The motto: "Distance running by December!" [Hopefully I can run a marathon by next summer.]

What could possibly throw the plan awry? One answer: Chinese Buffets, All-U-Can-Eat. Now we all have self-control in some areas but are weak in other areas. For some people, a Chinese Buffet poses no threat. For others, Chinese Buffets enflame the conscience in much the same way that eating meat offered to idols might have enflamed some Corinthian Christians. I belong in this latter class. If an enjoyment of inexpensive Chinese Buffets is a sign of an unregenerate man, then the Inferno awaits the PP.

In the shopping mall right around the corner from the PP domicile, there has been an empty storefront lacking an occupant for close to a year. I have wondered what will go in place of that empty storefront. A new business just opened there a few days ago. What was it?

Answer: a Chinese Buffet with a $7 all-u-can-eat meal tab, not to mention chicken, pizza, fries, and ice cream. Now given that I hate cooking and prefer convenient foods, and given that one can stock up with a big meal for $7 per day [fairly inexpensive] and not have to worry about eating much later, it is simply hilarious that one of the Great Temptations of Life is placed a stone's throw from where I live. Had circumstances not permitted me to move now [making me wait until a few months down the road], or had this buffet opened a few months ago, this blog would've been named Pudgy Protestant or Porky Protestant. I will only have to suffer from this unbearable burden of knowing there is a Chinese Buffet place right around the corner for a mere three or four days, and can partake of it knowing that after that period it shall be removed. As the scriptures say: God will not tempt a man beyond what he can bear. :-)

For those who study Providence and read dusty old theology volumes [which may have their own merits], you may put your books down and refer to this thread, which is possibly the clearest and most lucid example of God's Providence in action.


With a few days left until the Big Move West, and with items and such in boxes, life is pretty slow and uneventful at the soon-to-be-former PP domicile. Plans for a phalanx of pretty pedantic Protestanttes [i.e. a gaggle of girlie groupies] to keep me happily occupied have not borne the intended fruit.

So what does one do with a few days left? Besides writing a post complaining about being bored, one could do the following:

(1) Point out that the whole triumphalistic "we have a community of interpretation" line of both Roman Catholics and Reformed Catholics is a bunch of triumphalistic hooey.

(a) There is no guarantee that a "community" will get things correctly.
(b) No criterion is made by the triumphalistic claimant by which we can objectively distinguish "good" communities from "bad" communities.
(c) For Roman Catholics, the existence of their magisterial community is the very crux of the argument that a good Protestant [who is not caught up in a warm mushy ecumenism] has with them, so once again, Romanists are content to deal with what we consider a counterfeit currency.
(d) Overlooked is the fact that no good Protestant reads the Bible in a vacuum. When I'm stuck, for example, I don't sit around waiting for the Holy Spirit to illuminate my inner self. Instead, I consult the appropriate reference works, commentaries, grammars, treatments on syntax, etc. I may even call up a seminary professor or a wise old pastor and bend his ear. I could state that the authors and scholars behind these aforementioned reference works form my "community."
(e) Overlooked is the truism that the text means what it says, and given that the people who write about the necessity of a community in interpretation somehow think that individual readers of their blogs can understand their posts while sitting alone in front of a screen, the Biblical texts should also be extended the same courtesy.

If pointing out triumphalism doesn't cure the boredom blues, one could

(2)Point out that those who teach elementary and intermediate Greek shouldn't be so quick to attempt to play the authority game whereby they make themselves the Greek authority, lest they ruin their argument with their foolish bluster. See Eric Svendsen's site and his "Extensive Response to the Hypersacramentalist." The sad part for Professor Owen is that I'm sympathetic to his position, though I'm not sympathetic to his short-guy syndrome, and, given his rather short publication record [which is shorter than mine so far as I know, and, on top of that, it is much easier to get published in humanities-related fields than it is in the sciences], he really shouldn't expect people to be in awe of his great scholastic output. Also, for what it is worth, a doctorate in a humanities-related field isn't much to brag about anyway. If he has a good argument, it can stand on its own.

If this doesn't work, it seems that one could

(3) Go the health club and play basketball for hours per day to pass the time. This would seem to work. Back in the 1980's, when a 6' guy of modest speed and jumping ability still had a chance to make an NCAA D-II college roster as an 11th or 12th player --- a benchwarmer and practice player, probably nothing more than that --- being able to hit a third of one's shots from behind the arc allowed one to achieve a reputation of being a great perimeter shooter. By the end of college, when I was working for money and the benchwarmer dream was sacrificed to the exigencies of getting into graduate school [it seemed a safe bet that the NBA wasn't going to call], I was in peak shape, and pretty deadly from the perimeter with a quick catch-n-shoot release that developed out of necessity from being only 6'.

But what do we see now? A slow white guy in his 30's who can still shoot, but, alas, everybody else can shoot now too, as the three-point arc being close to 20 years old and the young guns have grown up with it as a given. Whereas outside shooting was the province of we shorty six-footers who dared not go in among the trees, now everybody shoots from the outside. Big guys used to stay in the key, and now they shoot from outside just like we wee ones. Hitting 40%+ from behind the arc is still nice, but it doesn't justify one's existence anymore. Throw in the fact that now I'm slow [and overweight] and I can no longer feel as if I'm anything but a role player, with a very limited role at that. [Mainly, hit my open outside shots in the rare events that they arise and distribute the ball quickly to those who are open.]

On top of that, in the last twenty years the athleticism of young people has just exploded. At my club, it isn't unreasonable for a 6' person to be able to dunk without too much strain. The "fast" high school players who show up today are faster than I remember the "fast" guys back in the 80's. On top of that, they shoot just as well as many college players. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, I felt I had a strong edge over quicker and taller high school players, but now when I'm isolated one-on-one with them the look of panic on my face is noticeable. In short, the good high school players today seem to be as good as the college players of twenty years ago.

Oh, by the way, I've been in a shooting slump as well, so perhaps I should leave this depressing subsection of the thread and turn to the observation that

(4) Christians who look to the Republican Party as some sort of objectively good thing are being played like a piano. On a personal level, I can understand and sympathize with Christians who vote Republican on the basis of something like "they're not that good, but they're still better than the Democrats." This is an objectively true statement. What I can't understand is this rallying cry for the Republicans on the basis that, as compared to be relatively better than the Democrats, they're somehow objectively good. Here's the PP ultra-brief "take" on things:

(a) Big Government: R's have expanded government and its role.
(b) Private Property: R's don't seem to be particularly enamored of this concept.
(c) Abortion: a Republican-majority Supreme Court couldn't overturn Roe v. Wade, thereby sending the matter back to individual state legislatures.
(d) Taxes and Regulations: businesses are still crippled by regulatory rules, having to devote much time and money to forms and compliance work for the federal government. As for taxes, how can the R's say they stand for limited government when they go along with an agenda that necessitates most people having to have 20-50% of their incomes confiscated? In my part of the woods, we call that SOCIALISM.
(e) Drug Prohibition: most Republicans support the idea of locking somebody up who peacefully uses certain substances, even if that person is not a threat.

This is just a brief list.

It will be interesting to see what Christians do if somebody like Giuliani gets the Republican nomination in 2008. What excuses for voting for him then will be proffered?

If this doesn't cure the boredom, I could instead follow Centuri0n's tongue-in-cheek suggestion and

(5)Attempt to drum up readership by being much more provocative.

Here's an attempt at provocation by an admitted novice:

Hey Catholics: You're a bunch of Biblically illiterate Romanist idolators!
Hey Reformed Catholics: You're a bunch of psuedointellectuals!
Hey [insert Catholic apologist here]: Get a real job and stop asking for money!
Hey Atheists: Jesus Saves!
Hey PoMo's: Your purported scholarly writings require the same intellectual rigor as does popping bubble wrap!
Hey James White: You're a narcissistic perpetual victim whose favorite topic is himself! In that regards, you're like Dave Armstrong!
Hey Eric Svendsen: You're a radical sectarian gnostic!
Hey New Yorker: Jets suck, Yankees suck, Knicks suck.... [a Peter Griffin reference]

And so the list could go, but, in the end, it just ain't me. I suppose the PP will have to live in its richly deserved obscurity.

Since I'm relatively conflict-averse, passing the time with (5) is out of the question. The muse must suggest yet another thing. Ah, she is alive! --- and suggesting that I

(6) Review Biblical Hebrew. No thanks. Right now, re-memorizing roots and patterns of dots and dashes just doesn't sound "sexy." Next suggestion, please.

That certainly didn't work! I suppose I could instead gripe that

(7) Phil Johnson never blogspotted me. And to think that I never once made any comments about large pastors who wear Hawaiian about a wasted feat of self-control!

Although the possibilities for overcoming boredom that were enumerated above have their own appeal [apart from (6)], I think instead that I'll do the most natural thing: hop into my non-descript automobile, lower the windows, fluff the fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror, dust the Dashboard Jesus, blast some Bach organ music, and cruise for chicks. Yes, that will do the trick!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hays on Faith Alone

Steve Hays has put up two most excellent posts discussing "Faith Alone," and discusses the Tridentine conception of justification as well, among other things.

He's been nice enough to throw some plugs in the direction of this mom-n-pop blog, and, while the majority of his posts deserve some sort of plug from here, it would get repetitive giving near-daily plugs. However, these posts are extra-noteworthy when compared to the "merely noteworthy" posts found there.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Seeing Your Augustine and Raising You a Luther

Taken from a link provided by the barrister of braggadocio, the systematician of sola snarka , yes, the one and only archfiend Red Romanist, I took the "Which Theologian Are You?" quiz.

Anselm 87%
John Calvin 87%
Martin Luther 87%
Karl Barth 80%
Augustine 60%
Jonathan Edwards 53%
Friedrich Schleiermacher 40%
Paul Tillich 27%
Charles Finney 20%
Jürgen Moltmann 0%

PP Commentary:

(1) These quizzes are to be taken quite nonseriously, given how reductionistic the questions are when they're clear, as well as the fact that some of the questions are unclear or loaded in their wording.

(2) This is the second time I took the quiz. The first time I took the quiz, I was rated as a 100% Barthian. I'm not sure what this means exactly, but I'd probably need to find a new set of friends, as well as a new wardrobe/hairstyle.

(3) Instead of saying that I'm in 87% agreement with, say, Martin Luther, it seems preferable to say that according to this quiz the good Dr Luther is only 87% correct.

I may as well get it off the chest: Luther and Calvin are mere men, not the arbiters of Protestant truth. They too are judged by and under the sacred scriptures, and they have just as much potential for error or blind spots as the next person. The case for Protestantism stands or falls independently of Luther or Calvin. This may very well be news to some even on the Protestant side, yes, even in the academy. The question is not Is this consistent with the Reformers' views but instead is Is this position, in reality, true.

(4) Moltmann must be one very mixed up theologian.

(5) My take on theologians is that many of them are not particularly bright individuals, but instead have a stock set of jargon and speculations which are foisted on the public. I think modern theology should be relabelled as "humanistic speculation" or something more accurate. In fact, I'd go to the complete end of things and just say that theology is merely a facet of philosophy. But such a thought is not taken well in our over-compartmentalized academic world, where facets of a discipline are regarded in their own rights as different subjects.

(6) What theologian would the PP most want to emulate? Answer: St Paul. Paul of course had an unfair advantage over the rest of us, given that God revealed and taught him directly, whereas we today have to try to understand what Paul meant at whatever sticking point arises. But, unlike most of the ivory-tower theologians I've seen, Paul put his theology into practice.

(7) Having 27% in common with Tillich is 27% more commonality than I'd like to have.

(8) Favorite ambiguous statement in the quiz: "The papacy is a tool of the devil."
Which papacy? The early bishops of Rome, such as Clement and Linus and perhaps Peter if he in fact was a bishop there? Or do they mean the corrupt popes of the late Middle Ages? What exactly do they mean?

Favorite obvious demarcational statement: "Holy Spirit revival is what the world needs today." Again, what is meant by revival? Are they referring to things like my charismatic high school, where revival meant speaking in tongues and showing forth charismata? Or are they talking about the Holy Spirit's bringing men CALMLY to a conviction of their sinfulness?

[Note: while certain parts of Roman Catholicism make the fur on my tail fluff out, anything charismatic sends me into an immediate paroxysm of rage, complete with 360-degree head spins, levitations, and speaking backwards!]

(9) Anyway, the quiz brought forth a chuckle, and now we can forget about it. Readers of this blog [that means you Centuri0n] are invited to take the quiz and post their results. If the CC was not a member of the Legion of Doom [as compared to my Superfriends' Hall of Justice], he'd get a now-legendary PP Coffee Mug. Instead, he gets a tee-shirt that says "I had a link stolen by the PP and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Happy Now, Frank?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Limited Posting

The PP's Muse has taken a vacation without informing him, and hence a few days off seems to be the prescription. Even Superman needed a few days of recovery in his Fortress of Solitude, so, arguing from lesser to greater, the PP certainly can do the same.

After that, there should be a week or so of normalcy [whatever that means], and then the Big Move West takes place, which means that the Pedantic Protestant portion of the blogosphere will acquire some dust, and faithful readers might observe tumbleweed blowing through.

Beautiful California is the final destination of the PP.

Actually, there are a few points worth stating.

(1) I grew up in California. Despite spending 7 years out in the Midwest or Eastern part of the US, I never got used to the climate. Frankly, the lack of sunlight is quite depressing, which throws off the sleep schedule. This in turn throws off the diet, which in turn affects all other parts of life, and has the circular effect of making the sleep schedule even poorer.

(2) I left California for a middle-of-the-road job [nothing special], figuring that the money and opportunity would make up for the weather, leaving family and friends behind, etc. It didn't even come close to making up for that. In fact, you could have doubled my modest salary, pushing the PP into the upper class, and it wouldn't have made any difference in wanting to get back to sunshine. Environment trumps money, at least in my case.

(3) Having been born and raised well past adulthood in California, I was always told that the Midwest was more conservative. It really isn't, it seems.

(4) What makes California special? It is that the weather there is much more stable than, say Chicago. In Chicago, the joke is that you can often get all four seasons in a day, and there is something to this joke. In the Central Valley of CA, however, what you wake up with is usually what you're going to have.

(5) 100+ degree days TOTALLY ROCK. One of the simple [and inexpensive] pleasures of life is running at 7pm when it is still high 80's and the sun is starting to set, and you're just sweating like a maniac. In the East or Midwest, much of the time it is difficult to obtain a sweaty lather. The warm weather means you can keep windows open year-round, instead of having to keep the windows shuttered for half the year.

(6) Believe it or not, after seven years on EST and CST, the body still thinks in terms of PST. Pacific time ROCKS, just like 100+ degree days.

(7) I was in darned good shape when I left CA. Now, the physique is in tatters, a consequence of cold dark days dominating 6-7 months per year. Believe me, making good money doesn't mean much if you're feeling like Jabba the Hutt.

(8) Growing up in NoCal, I romanticized snow. By the January of my first year out in the East or Midwest, I was sick of snow. I never want to see it again in person.

What is the future of the Pedantic Protestant blog upon arriving in lovely California? Upon getting set up midway through July [or near the end], posting should resume normally. After all, being in California is like hitting the mother lode when looking for progressive goofball behavior at which one can poke.

Let's hope I find a good Roman Catholic parish in my new archdiocese!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

That Sweet Li'l Dictator...Ain't He Cute

In a puff piece of journalism, if it can be called that, it is revealed that Saddam Hussein, a mass-murdering tyrant, among other things, happens to have a fondness for Doritos and a dislike for Froot Loops. The article is courtesy of the Chicago Sun Times.

Yes, it is sort of funny. But, unlike the unintentional humor of pomo's, socialists, phony intellectuals, full-time apologists who ask for money instead of getting the appropriate full-time job, wacky humanities professors, and other goofballs who provide cannon fodder for this blog, this is, I contend, not really that funny, the simple reason being that mass murderers should not be humanized, but should be exposed for the mass murderers that they are. There comes a point whereby one forfeits any legal or civic claim to humanity and all the rights and privileges pertaining to it. Murdering many people doesn't seem to be an activity after which one gets to be humanized and made a sympathetic object of humor.

There's no way of verifying this, but the speculation for the day from the PP side of things is that this is part of a cultural effort to make Pres. Bush look bad and to attempt to emotionally sway people's opinions on whether the Iraq affair warranted the action that took place.

Emotionalism as journalism...and in a major newspaper too...not good.

On Postmodern Times

In silently lurking around various Christian blogs, I've seen some people advance the idea that if we don't get with it, where "with it" means embracing some principles of the amorphous and nigh-infinitely malleable blob known as Postmodernism [or "postmodern thinking"], we won't be able to do various things particularly well, such as evangelize, defend the faith, or even communicate with people. When this idea of embracing pomo'ism is advanced, there has been a chorus of agreement, along with what I detect as a self-congratulatory attitude for being so enlightened as to realizing this profound truth.

(1) When this urge is combined with the fact that some of its proponents demur giving a precise definition of pomo'ism, it is hard to take it seriously. We are then being urged to take a position, or, as some adherents would have it, an attitude or pose, whose demarcation line is so fuzzy that we have a good deal of trouble saying that somebody is on whatever side of the line.

(2) On a sociological and personal note, I get the feeling that many of the adherents of the amorphous blob known as pomo'ism seem to enjoy their nouveau intellectual status, given what I see as a perpetual self-congratulatory attitude [as mentioned in the initial paragraph]. Also, any scrutiny applied to whatever fuzzy claims the nouveau intellectuals put forth is usually met with the couterclaim that [yawn] the person asking the question just doesn't get it. Given that chasing after pomo'ism is akin to chasing after the Cheshire Cat, the natural question to ask is: we just don't get WHAT?!

(3) When discussing things with people, I have found that the biggest obstacle to making any sort of case for my position is getting them to realize that the law of the excluded middle and the standards of evidence apply to propositions in general, and not just non-religious propositions. Taking a line from CS Lewis, the problem is to get them to realize that something is TRUE or NOT TRUE. Discussions of, say, the existence of normative narratives and meta-narratives don't really make any headway on this question.

(4) Some pomo's have a habit of complaining that their posts are misunderstood, even though "there isn't an overarching narrative." This constantly causes groans from my end.

(5) Some of the things I've seen pomo's advocate, such as taking things in context, sensitivity to nuance, etc, are, rather than being great profound truths that pomo'ism has revealed to the darkened masses, mundane trivialities that one hopefully knew in one's young adult life.

(6) In attempting to see just where the "usual" method of reading Biblical texts is deficient [and in reading the queries by others asking the same], I have yet to see anything by the pomo internet denizens that demonstrates anything to warrant the general smugness put forth by the pomo advocates.

(7) This has also been said before on a previous blog entry, but the big names to drop: Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, etc, seem to enjoy a higher authority than do Paul, John, Peter, etc.

Some authors say some silly things but have interesting [and possibly new] truths intermingled with the aforementioned silly things. Some authors just spout gibberish. I wish more Christians would call a spade and spade and not worry about incurring the wrath of the nouveau intellectuals. Quoting a philosophy friend: "Derrida and Lyotard are to philosophy as are Cheech and Chong to physics."

(8) Often, the implicit fallacy of saying that you need a degree in X to make relevant comments about X is invoked to attempt to silence postmodernism's critics.
This can be met on a number of fronts:

(a) This is demonstrably false: I wrote a textbook in an area for which I didn't specialize in my training. Also, most people have practical or theoretical experience with things outside of their degree field.

(b) Let's say that a pomo knows more than somebody like me about the breadth of what has been written on the topic. Assuming that my points against pomo'ism are coherent, these points still stand or fall independently of my status relative to the breadth of what has been written. If a proposition is false, it is false regardless of how well-read the person who holds its truth thinks it is.

(c) I've seen a denigration of "Bible Colleges" by some of the more obnoxious pomo's. Implicit is the assumption that a secular or non-Bible college is somehow superior. Again, this is silly, as non-Bible colleges [and some Bible colleges too] often have curricula that are fad-based. Throw in the fact that most degree fields are not rigorous [which means that the PhD's and the academics in that field are not particularly trained in rigorous thinking], and it is quite possible for somebody who went to a non-Bible college to not really have much formal exercise in critical thinking, but to have great experience in classes designed to push through a political or ideological agenda under the guise of "general education."

This isn't to say that Bible Colleges are necessarily superior, but a mere appeal to the fact that somebody went to a Bible College doesn't even begin to broker the issue.


In looking back at the above in what passes as an edit session, the question arises of whether I'm being too hard on the internet pomo's I've seen. The question also arises as to whether I'm caricaturing them to a certain degree.

Answers: no and no.

Postmodernism [the amorphous ideology or the attitude] is one of those things for which I've never been able to see why non-silly people embrace it. The answer, after a decade of seeing this nonsense, still seems to be that pomo'ism carries with it an attitude or certain hipness. It is an ideology that either can't be nailed down, or, if it is nailed down, suffers from being laughably false or trivially true. That a certain portion of academics has embraced this fad merely shows one the sorry state of academics relative to the humanities.

EDIT --- Fixed a grammatical error.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Whither the Muse?

After a quiet weekend, there isn't too much inspiration to write on any topic in depth, so, once again, some not-necessarily-connected talking points will be given.
Perhaps "rants" is a more appropriate decide.

(1) It makes me chuckle to see these "Books I'm Reading" lists full of heavy theological works, especially when the people putting them on the lists seem to have a mentality more suited towards Great Bible Stories for Children. I thought about giving a phony "Books I'm Reading" list containing such items as Jughead & Archie Comic Digest #124, How to Pick up Chicks [4th Edition], and the latest Harlequin Romance Novel, but that would have its own risks.

(2) You know it is a boring weekend when you hope that some Watchtower or Mormon people drop by.

(3) When you call certain businesses and ask some basic questions, do you ever have the person on the other end act as if you're inconveniencing him? This has been happening a lot, lately.

(4) Episode III of the entire Star Wars franchise is, in my opinion, the best of the six.

(5) Are others out there noticing that quite often the main topic of conversation between adults has to do with their house, improvements being made to their house, the value of their house, or anything their-house related? Perhaps this is a sign of adulthood, but, having been an adult for a reasonable length of time, it seems as if houses are the main topic of conversation now. Yawn.

(6) Relative to the housing bubble, either I'll be very happy I didn't get into it, or, if the bubble continues, I'll be very sad that I didn't buy years back. I simply don't see how the bubble can keep sustaining itself, even with mortgage companies and banks giving crazy loans to anything that ambulates and has a semi-consistent pulse.

(7) Ecclesiastes is a very interesting book that is quite astute on human nature. The part that resonates the most with this blogger is 2:4-2:11. Basically, the author of Ecclesiastes had all of "the toys" of life: gold, silver, livestock, houses, vineyards, and a harem of lovely concubines. He had the ability to obtain whatever his heart might desire, but, upon having done this, he could only state:
Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished, and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, I conluded: "All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitless --- like chasing the wind! There is nothing gained from them on earth."

While there is nothing wrong with pursuing wealth or an improvement of one's financial status, especially when freedom is the goal in mind, it will still be the case in the end that one's heart is filled or empty independently of how much wealth or good sex one has experienced.

(8) One thing that makes being irresponsible and sinful much easier today is the fact that the opportunities for being as such come to you or penetrate into your personal sphere. Two major examples:

(a) With junk mail, one is besieged with credit card offers offering ever-larger lines of credit with ever-lower interest rates, the desired and unstated goal being to get you to spend yourself into debt.

(b) Electronic mail spam filters block out most obnoxious material, but they don't block out every pornographic invitation. At my workplace, the email domain was invaded by porn spammers, and even on more private email servers one gets a few porn spammers sneaking by. It used to be the case that one would have to go out and seek out such material, but now it comes to you unsolicited, for you to enjoy without any stigma or resistance.

(9) It rankles me when Republicans make anti-income-tax arguments based on the fact that lower taxes helps out the economy, which in turn helps increase government revenues. I'd much rather prefer them to merely say that a man should keep the fruits of his labors instead of having it confiscated by the threat of force and redistributed. It is hard to get excited for a party that still defends the right of a group of people to decide how much of your money to take, all while still promoting itself as conservative or smaller-government.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

United Church of Whom?

Stolen from Alpha and Omega Ministries, this article
deals with a possible resolution before the United Church of Christ regarding recognition of the deity of Christ. Should the UCC claim that "Jesus is Lord" or should it not?

When starting the Pedantic Protestant, the fear was that perhaps there wouldn't be enough goofiness out there [whether I find it myself or take it from somebody else's finding] upon which to comment, but those fears have quickly passed.

In graduate school, I often walked through the campus quadrangle where the kiosks put forth by liberal denominations were set up. In speaking with those people and in dealing with their literature, I realized there was alien life here on Earth. On the planet from which they came, they didn't believe in the law of the excluded middle, and they embraced contradiction as a sign of progressive thinking. That a statement was self-stultifying posed no difficulty: "Our Church has no creed --- we take people as they are!" was itself creedal, and despite the faux open-mindedness and tolerance, they were quite judgemental towards anybody who held to the old views of propositional truth. I never found one trace of anything resembling a gospel among such types during those days, for one was already OK with God, or one was never "not OK with God" to begin with. Such assemblies were nothing more than feel-good pow-wow sessions where the fashionable cause of the week was dressed in pseudo-Christian babble. If the article linked to here is at all correct, the UCC isn't much different.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Man Never Goes Poor...

By counting on our self-anointed visionaries to not carry out the moral exhortations they speak to the dirty masses in the imperative tone.

Considering that a middle-class guy such as myself is harangued by progressives to surrender more of my property and wealth to Government [the One True God, a Jealous God] for redistribution to lazy people, greedy corporations, welfare moms, or the old folks down the street whose presumed right to entitlement comes from the mere fact that they're old, it must be the case that either there aren't too many progressives out there, or that there are a lot of progressives who spout their wealth-redistributionist rhetoric strictly for public show.

Deroy Murdock gives a nice little treatment in this article found on the once-truly conservative National Review site.

When Massachusetts cut its top tax rate to 5.3 percent in 2001, it let guilty liberals pay the old 5.85 percent rate if they wished. According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, as of June 15, only 930 taxpayers opted to do so on their 2004 returns generating an extra $246,505. In 2002, 2,215 taxpayers paid the higher rate, yielding $341,829. Among 3,218,572 returns filed in 2003, only 1,488 (or 0.46 percent) paid the voluntary higher rate, adding $209,216 to state coffers.

Pro-tax U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) spurned the higher rate that year. “No, I won’t” pay some $800 extra, Frank told Boston radio host Howie Carr in April 2003. “I don’t trust the legislative leadership and Gov. [Mitt] Romney to make the right decisions, so I’ll donate the money myself, probably to some health clinics in New Bedford that are going to get hit hard in the new budget.” How inspiring to see a confirmed progressive like Barney Frank choose private charity over public assistance.

Yes, how very inspiring that a progressive allows himself the choice that he in part denies to those of us in the great dirty unwashed masses!

What They Don't Teach in the Ivy League

Let's suppose that I think that position X on an issue is false, but agree with position Y. Along comes Author Z who, in his writings, simultaneously holds or indicates an acceptance of the conjunction of X and Y. Query: am I violating some canon of consistency by citing Author Z's endorsement of Y?

Answer: not necessarily

Helpful guidelines for those who seek true wisdom:

(1) If Y and X happen to be logically independent of each other, or if the reasoning for Y's truth does not imply the truth of X, then there is no logical problem with my citation of Author Z.

(2) Even if the truth of X were to imply the truth of Y, this wouldn't make somebody who holds Y but not X to be inconsistent. This is a mere restatement of the converse fallacy.

(3) One could challenge me to cite an author [say Z2] who, besides agreeing with Y, also finds X to be false. But then in most situations [perhaps all?], Z2 will then disagree with me on some other proposition Q. Supposing that the argumentation for Q is logically independent of that for X and Y, the imaginary interlocutor could ask why I'm citing Z2 and not some other author Z3 who agrees with me on X, Y, and Q. And the cycle could go on and on, until one can only cite somebody who agrees with him in every detail. This is a rather silly way of proceeding, methinks.

Let's apply this to when an Evangelical has the sheer audacity to cite an Early Church Father without first prostrating himself before the ECF Commissar or any other person who feels as if the ECF's are theirs to lease out to those receiving their good pleasure.

(a) It is quite one thing to say that X and Y are logically dependent on each other, and quite another thing to show it. Given the theological diversity in the ECF's --- contra the claims by the 10-minutes-per-day triumphalistic RC apologists --- it isn't a trivial matter to show that X and Y are logically interdependent.

(b) On an ethical note, I allow RC's to do the same thing with regards to ECF's. However, I'm not so arrogant to think that they have a Property of Pedantic Protestant sticker on them. Some of the ECF's agree with me on some things, others disagree. In the language of the skaters down the block: whatever, d00d.

(c) It is quite possible that an ECF who holds both Y and X [whereas I hold Y and the negation of X] is citation-quality relative to Y simply because there are good reasons for Y and not-so-good reasons for X. Example: X might be something against which one has a good scripture-based argument, whereas the ECF holds Y due to some abstract philosophizing based on questionable principles.

(d) Conservative Protestants have an objective criterion why they take certain parts of the ECF's pleasantly and other parts unpleasantly, and that criterion is Scripture. Whether or not RC's approve of this really doesn't mean anything unless they can give an argument that this criterion is a bad one, and that isn't something that can be shown in a quick-n-easy fashion.

[Yet to Edit]

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Random and Unconnected "Reactionary" Thoughts

Being a bit mentally burned out from life-in-general, today's would-be blog feast possibly resembles last weekend's leftovers, or, even worse, a bowl of watery gruel that belongs in a 19th century English orphanage. Or perhaps this entry will resemble the Feast of Feasts --- microwave burritos with grape Gatorade! This thread is written with the secondary intention of giving Diane something amusing to read while at work.

(1) The anti-anti-postmodernists that I've seen have the same pretentious sneering towards the anti-postmodernists that the postmodernists in academia have when they spout their postmodernism [in whatever form it happens to be] to their captive students. It never seems to occur to the anti-anti-postmodernists that those of us who think postmodernism to be silly [at best] have actually read some of the original source material and find it to be a mixture of largely pseudointellectual nonsense and banal trivialities that are already well-known.

(2) Those who advocate some sort of "postmodernist" approach to the study of scripture as well as its dissemination have not, in what I've seen, shown just where the classical approach is deficient. But you wouldn't know that if you thought triumphalism was a valid argument form.

(3) Relative to what I've seen, the postmodernist's and anti-anti-postmodernist's best weapon is the reflexively offered argumentum-by-you-just-don't-understandem. This means that you never consider the fact that [as stated in (1)] some of us have actually read some of the source material of postmodernism, but merely deflect any questions or appeals for evidence by exclaiming YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND POSTMODERNISM until the interlocutor vanishes. Such an argument didn't work on me during my academic days --- why would a group of internet dilettantes think they can merely sneer away our skepticism?

Let's switch gears now:

(4) If I invaded people's blog threads and put up lists of grievances and replayed all of the mean things that meanies have said to me over the years, thereby interrupting the topic at hand, and if my site was littered with self-referential posts complaining or praising what whosits has said about me, often colour-coding the posts and boldfacing every mention of my name, wouldn't that seem like a manifestation of a serial Narcissus complex? And what if I put up a long list of quotes of praises and complaints regarding me, so that the world knew that it was ME being discussed? Wouldn't that seem inordinately narcissistic? This is just a theoretical question, obviously.

(5) Am I the last man in the world who finds tattooes to be eyesores, no matter how impressive the art? I mean, I can appreciate a flaming skull with a bloodthirsty snake crawling through one of the eye sockets like the next guy, but would I want the aforementioned image indelibly sketched on the part of my body that tickles the fancy that day at the tattoo parlor? There's nothing amoral about tattooes, but it is just something I ponder. When I play basketball with under-30 people --- an activity becoming increasingly futile at an exponential rate of augmentation --- I'm the only person [it seems] with a bare body.

(6) Dittos on (5) relative to earrings and piercings.

(6.5) Relative to (5) and (6), are the pierced and tattooed people looking at me and saying something like What a tasteless clod he is! He hasn't decorated his body at all!

(7) It seems as if everytime I see a driver in front do something stupid, careless, or inattentive, their right or left hands appear to be pressing against their ear. Hmmmm....I wonder what that means and if that has any connection....

(8) Time to expose my secret identity: I'm Frank Turk, aka Centuri0n.

(9) Hahahaha, just kidding. I'm really Phillip R. Johnson of Pyromaniac fame.

(10) Hahahaha, fooled you, didn't I? Actually, my legal first name is Peter and my father's last name was Protestant. When the great-grandparents arrived at Ellis Island early last century, they didn't have their paperwork, so the clerk gave them the surname Protestant as a sort of cruel welcome-to-America joke. People can be rather obnoxious at times.

(11) If you believe something as silly as (10), you'd probably take the Jesus Seminar seriously!

(12) News flash: the case for classical Protestantism or for whatever doctrinal position is in question is logically independent of whether Luther, Calvin, or any other "magisterial reformer" is correct on an issue. A solid Protestant --- not one who has invested himself into a cult of personality --- will treat Luther and Calvin the same way as he would any other writer of antiquity: neither with initial disrespect nor initial fawning, but with an eye towards the question of just how faithful to the Biblical texts they are.

(13) If you like Cheap Seats on ESPN Classic, we're on the same page humorwise.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Birthday, Old Friend

It was the early 1980's. The allowance was quickly turned into quarters which were then deposited into the various arcade cabinets such as Space Invaders, Wizard of Wor, Rally X, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Defender, Robotron 2084, Berzerk, Battlezone, Ms Pac Man, Xevious, Galaxian, Galaga, etc etc etc. A generally carefree youth was spent divided between the tripartite existence of sports, reading, and bicycling by myself or with friends to the nearby pizza parlor or yogurt shoppe to play the arcade games there.

And now, those carefree days of unfettered mostly innocent youth are but a wistful memory. Thoughts about how to make the 5000 point banana appear appear in Ms Pac Man have given way to logging into my retirement account online. The goal of breaking the high score on the Asteroids machine, witnessed to by inputting initials [and nothing more], is now replaced by the goal of switching jobs. The decision of whether to plunk the last quarter into, say, Defender, instead of, say, Rally X, is now replaced by the decision as to what sort of health plan to consider.

In many ways, being a "grown-up" is not nearly as fun as being a young kid in the early 80's. Some people have lousy childhoods and they might have a quite different experience. But, in a sad and wistful way, I note that Pac-Man is a quarter-century old.

As a result, I feel even older, realizing that the glory days of mullets, frozen yogurt, muscle shirts, girls with obnoxious amounts of hair spray, neon colors, and tapered jeans are a lot farther back than I'd like to think. One would think that having one's joints creak when getting out of bed in the morning would be a reminder, but I'm dense.

Pac-Man spawned a mass of marketing knockoffs. I personally bugged Mom to buy Pac-Man cereal at the store [it was a Lucky Charms clone], I watched the Pac-Man cartoons on Saturday morning, I had a Pac-Man tee-shirt, I had at least one book on patterns to beat the Pac-Man arcade game, and we were all nice to the kid with the Atari 400 computer that had the best home version of Pac-Man. Ah, the good ol' days.

Even today, I have Ms Pac-Man and Pac-Man on the computer via Microsoft Revenge of Arcade and Return of Arcade. And I warn all readers, I completely own Ms Pac-Man, having cleared over 23 boards in one game, so you don't want to challenge the PP. I do note that Ms Pac-Man never dropped the feminist schtick and insists on the title Ms and not Mrs.

In closing, turning to Pac-Man: Happy 25th, old quarter-grabbing friend.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Roman Catholic Spamming

A day ago, I added a brief statement to the "about me" section of the blog [look to your right] where I said I'm interested in Roman Catholicism.

It turns out that, upon checking my email, an unsolicited message from none other than Patrick Madrid was there. Has this nobody all of a sudden attracted the big-league RC's? What, pray tell, could Madrid want?

It turns out the mail was a spam-message plugging a set of debate videos and tapes by Patrick Madrid. "Equip yourself to share and defend the Catholic faith effectively!" I didn't know that I was diagnosed as a budding Roman apologist by Big RC Marketing.

We are now at the stage where certain apologists for Rome invade our electronic mailboxes with unsolicited clutter. And, like the notes for porn, viagra, refinancing, and mortgage companies that are found in the PP inbox, this too is going into the "deleted" file. Perhaps in an act of revenge, barring his flight to a Levitical city of refuge, I can send a PP catalogue to Mr Madrid, where he can peruse the entire PP merchandising line, encompassing not only tee-shirts and coffee mugs, but sweatshirts, pullovers, sweaters, and, yes, halter tops for those pedantic Protestanttes who wish to make apologetics inroads with repressed young male Catholics.

EDIT: removed some puckishness, added some questionable humor

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Just For The Heck of It

Perhaps this reveals the sheltered nature of the PP's life, but I honestly didn't know that there is a genre of music called Christian Hip-Hop.

Check out this interview of the Gospel Gangstaz.

Reaching souls through Christian rap [I feel a certain dissonance in putting those previous two words in adjacent places], rappers Mr. Solo, Tik Tokk, and Chille' Baby attempt to fulfill their mission to save lost souls via rap music.

Favorite quote: regarding a bad experience with a record label, Tik Tokk states in the link that "We are gangstas and we are not going to be pimped."

To the Jews I become like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law. To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God's law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law. To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. To the gangstaz I've become a rapper to save.....

EDIT: apparently, after a brief internet search, there is also a genre of music called "Christian Death Metal." Yet another interesting fact learned for today...

A Brief Thought Experiment

Experiment: suppose Jesus came onto our modern scene, worked miracles, and, unlike the first time two millenia ago, He was recorded doing these things on some medium, such as film, videotape, etc. Perhaps He could go on Larry King and work some miracles. Then he ascends into Heaven [again].

This may or may not convince freethinkers of the present era to reconsider their position.

Now step up into the time machine I've rented for this thread, and set the dial to "AD4001." [Whoops, I should be politically correct and say 4001CE or 2028 After Roe.]

What would a modern freethinker relative to AD4001 think upon viewing these old-by-now media?

One such objection would be that the art of "special effects" and "computer graphics" and such were highly developed in the motion picture art form of the late 20th and early 21st centuries [the "Middle Medieval Era"]. The artisans of those ancient days could make just about anything on film seem real and believable. Therefore, this tape of Jesus doing a certain type of miracle may very well be a special effects deal put forth by somebody with a closet agenda. That is, whatever is on the old media could reasonably be explained by some other explanation.

But perhaps there would be records of eyewitnesses from those times in which Jesus worked his miracles, and they'd leave behind some sort of record [perhaps] that yes, the material is authentic as is not some side project by Industrial Light & Magic.

It seems to me that the same rationalizing objections given against the eyewitness testimony of the gospels could be applied to the hypothetical eyewitness testimony of the late 20th and early 21st century as well, and hence the evidential value of a videotaped Jesus today [in 2005] could be dissolved by the same sort of rationalistic acid in the 41st century as it is dissolved today in 2005.

Conclusion to the thought experiment: the very advanced nature of our media today would not, to future generations, make a visit by Jesus to AD2005 any more believable to 41st century scepticism than the actual gospel records themselves from the first century.

In other words, I conclude after a moment's thought [and not much more than that] that a recorded appearance today by Jesus wouldn't make the case for or against Christianity any stronger in, say, AD4001.

What do Pedantic Protestantistas think, if any such people exist?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Defending Romanism --- Part 3

In this little exercise of trying to systematize my own thoughts, I listed four prongs of attack that the Romanist employs to argue for his position. The first thread dealt with Prongs (3) and (4). The second thread dealt with Prong (1). This thread, which should wrap things up, deals with Prong (2).

Here's a restatement of Prong (2):

(2) RCism is not completely supportable from the OT and NT:
(a) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, being found in "seed" form, but needs extra-Biblical evidence
(b) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, not being found in "seed" form, but extra-Biblical evidence supports the Roman superstructure added to the Bible.

This method has the most promise for the Roman apologist if his sole goal is to get to me [and nobody says that his goal has to be this]. I'll now talk about a coherent Romanist apologetic that deals in my currency and doesn't already assume Romanism as true. Now this apologetic will come up short --- I'm the Pedantic Protestant, not the Pedantic Papist, after all --- but it does have the possibility of being strengthened eventually into a strong argument. Just think of the reduced time in purgatory a Roman Catholic would get for his supererogatory efforts in convincing the nefarious PP to join the Dark Side! =D

Let me note that, as with the posts below, I can at best try to give a general outline. Filling in all of the details would require a book, and a blog is not a book. But, the hope as I type this is to be reasonably successful in giving a general program to follow.

Our Feature Presentation

Where exactly do I differ from Rome? At the risk of being repetitive or sounding doctrinaire, here are the main things with which I disagree, in the form of a close-to-exhaustive list.

Marian doctrines:
(a) Sinlessness
(b) Assumption
(c) Co-Mediatrix
(c) Perpetual Virginity

Ideas of authority:
(a) Scripture is not the sole infallible rule of faith, but must be supplemented in some fashion by the RCC
(b) Papal ex cathedra infallibility
(c) Apostolic succession

Justification [the whole shebang here!]

These points could be broken down more finely, and there may well be other points of difference [in fact, there are]. But this list presents a formidable array of differences as it is, so I'll stick with it.

I know the scriptures too well, and, more importantly, have enough experience with exegesis and exegetical arguments to say that any of the items above are explicitly mentioned in scripture. I'd go so far as to say that they're not even implicitly mentioned without prior Roman baggage. This is really just a restatement of stating that Prong (1) will be entirely unsuccessful if applied to me.

But it is quite possible [in the logical sense] for the Roman apologist to justify
these positions by appealing to Tradition and a "development of doctrine" viewpoint.
How would I attempt do this?

The answer seems to be straightforward: give evidence that the Fathers who are cited in support of one of the doctrines above are to be taken as seriously as the canonical writings.

The "ancientness" of a given Father has nothing to do with whether what he is saying is correct or not. There are ancient heretics and Christians; there are more recent heretics and more recent Christians, so the issue is not brokered by any misplaced veneration of a given Father.

The "piety" of a given Father also has nothing to do with whether what he is saying is correct or not. There are pious heretics and not-too-pious Christians, so the issue of how seriously a Father must be taken is not brokered by this.

Calling a Father "part of the Catholic tradition" is also begging the question in this context, since the question of just what is Catholic tradition [or even if it exists] is logically prior to this.

I will give a Father the same veneration as the sacred text provided that his writings and life meet the same standards as do the NT texts.

What makes the writings of the NT an infallible bedrock for myself [and, presumably, for other conservative Protestants]?

(i) There is good evidence [liberal scholarship notwithstanding] that the traditional authorship claims of the NT writings are in fact correct.
That is, St Matthew wrote the first gospel, St John wrote the fourth gospel and the three epistles that bear his name, the letters of Paul that are included in the NT in fact have Paul as their background genius. Those NT writings written by apostles have apostolic authority, and both Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants have not problem with apostolic authority.

What about those NT writings that are written by somebody other than Paul or the Apostles? For example, what about Mark's gospel? I find the arguments that Mark acted as "Peter's interpreter" to be quite reasonable. In this case, the second gospel has a direct link to the Apostle Peter, and its authority is not in question. What about the third gospel? Here, I'm not well-studied on the isagogics of the third gospel, but much of the third gospel is already found in Matthew and Mark, so even if Luke [or the author of the third gospel] didn't have quite the apostolic connections that I'd like, what he writes is consistent with those gospels with which I have no problems relative to authority. The idea with Acts is that Luke shared many moments with Paul, so the Acts at least has a firm apostolic link.
Basically, apostolic authority or proximity to apostolic authority gives the NT writings a very high status.

(ii) The Apostles and Paul were directly commissioned by Jesus and their words were supported by miracles. Why does apostolic authority or proximity to apostolic authority matter? Simply put, the apostles' actions were accompanied with miracles. Revelation in the OT and the NT is accompanied by miracles or signs, and their revelations were accompanied by miracles and signs.

(iii) Again contradicting the views of liberal scholarship, I find the NT writings, while having a few things that are hard to rectify either exegetically or historically, have an internal doctrinal unity. Defending this is out of the league for a blog post, and I'm merely stating a position to which I've come.

We deal with each ancient Christian or author on a case-by-case and evidential basis. How much does the ancient writer measure up to (i)-(iii) enumerated just above?

Here are my answers relative to my current state of knowledge [June 2005]. These answers are perfectly open to emendation if contrary evidence is presented.

Relative to (i): most of the 2nd century writers were not intimates of the apostles. This means [for me] that they can't be given a blank check, and what they write has to be critically examined the same way any other author's writings are to be critically examined. They lack the apostolic authority that the NT writings have.

Now, for any given topic in any given ancient writer's writings, we'll have that the writing is a restatement of what is in scripture, or a proposition that while not being explicit in scripture is not in contradiction to scripture, or implies something that negates clear scripture.

Of the three possibilities just enumerated, the first is easy to deal with: the writing is true [authoritative or not] because it is identical to scripture, which scripture we already take as true. The third is also problem-free, as in this case the writer is clearly in error. The second possibility is where some of the distinctly Roman claims live.

How can the RC apologist make progress here in this second possibility? Answer: give some sort of historical evidence of an intimate chain between an apostle and the early writer in question. This may be a difficult thing to do, but it isn't unreasonable, as canons (i)-(iii) are being consistently applied. Protestants don't [or shouldn't] have problems with succession, provided that there is an evidential basis for it. It is the blank check, ambiguous appeals to "succession" that cause me to raise eyebrows.

Relative to (ii): what sort of attestable and believable miracles are there to accompany an early writer so as to make any thesis of his having authority a plausible one? The threshold for believable miracles and such should meet the NT evidence.

Application: if Father X says something that is logically neutral with respect to scriptural writings, he may be correct on the basis of a philosophical argument or some other extra-confirmatory evidence, but on a doctrinal issue [say any of the ones mentioned above] it is difficult to take what he says seriously without the attestation of miracles and such.

This isn't an unfair condition to require, since this is the precedent in the writings [OT and NT] that both RC's and Protestants accept. It isn't a case where the rules are being changed. Where are the miracles or the divine affirmation of the writings? Provide these relative to Fathers who support the distinctly Roman doctrines above and these will be much more acceptable.

Relative to (iii): Does the general thrust of an ancient writer's work agree with scripture, even if a few particulars are off? If an ancient writer wants to be taken seriously, there must be an internal unity in his writings. Therefore, if a Roman Catholic wants to cite Father X's statement Y on, say, Mary, it is a good thing for the Protestant audience to know that X is more or less safely orthodox.

But even then, perhaps the Roman Catholic might say that X is right on Mary while being wrong on other points, and we on our side can admit a prima facie plausibility to this. In this case then, the Roman Catholic is "acting Protestant" in the sense of reading the document and giving himself the same epistemic authority as does a Protestant. I may not like Origen, but I can agree with some of his points while disagreeing with others.

The Roman Catholic might admit this [I don't see what harm it would do] but then some sort of evidence as to why X is correct in stating Y. Appeals to RC tradition won't do --- they're circular, being the question under discussion here.

Comments on Tradition

I've read the Catechism of the Catholic Church [by Hardon] on the issue of Tradition, and I find it not too helpful in giving an objective criterion as to exactly what is tradition, how something becomes part of tradition, and just why I am supposed to vest people with authority to make this decision in the first place. After all, there are plenty of liberal Roman Catholics out there [Brown and Fitzmeyer, say] with whom I disagree, and having read some of John Paul II's writings I can't say that I know where all of this great intellectual admiration for him finds justification. What he says makes no difference to me if there isn't an evidential basis for beliving in the whole Roman system in the first place. After a fair amount of study, I still don't see much [if any] objective justification for why Z is considered Tradition and not Q. Also, the self-selecting nature of Tradition makes it equally hard to defend or attack the proposition that something really belongs to part of Tradition.

I've seen some Roman Catholics bypass this problem with a more organic view of tradition where different Fathers may contradict each other, but, using loose analogical imagery, the different tastes are swilled around and a sort of consensus emerges. Fine, so be it. This still doesn't deal with the evidential paradigm I've given above [not that they're obligated to], but it still causes questions of authority from somebody like me: Why believe this council? Why vest them with authority? What do they know that I don't know? And so on.

In light of the above paragraph, I run into the melodramatic argument by outrage where the Roman Catholic finds it a rather stunning feat of arrogance to say that I think that I, a single person, know more than a council. And on an emotional level, it does have a share of intimidation value. But again, that is the only value that it has. Most theologians and scholars that I've seen deny, say, John's authorship of the fourth gospel or Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, but I stand in contradiction to them because I think their methodology is shoddy. That I'm in the very clear minority relative to NT scholarship doesn't trouble me, because I have yet to see the conservative arguments adequately addressed and refuted.

Thus, were I to embrace RCism and morph into the Pedantic Papist --- an action that would require the printing of a new set of business cards as well as a new wardrobe --- I'd have to nail down exactly what Tradition is and isolate the objective criteria used for determining what is or isn't Tradition. If RC apologists can't do this, then they don't deserve to be taken seriously.

Finally, a Summary

As usual with my attempts at serious posting, I've bitten off more than I can chew. All of my points could be the topics of small [or not-so-small!] monographs, though I hope I've at least brought out my position [speaking for nobody else] in a semi-coherent fashion. If not, then you probably haven't made it down this far, having gone somewhere else on the internet!

In summary, RC's need to do the following:
(1) Objectify Tradition and the criteria by which material is considered Tradition.
(2) Justify these criteria relative to (i)-(iii) mentioned above.
(3) Connect the doctrines mentioned above to Tradition.

Some three-step program, eh? None of the points there are trivial and would take a LONG time. But, given the great ambition of the Roman Catholic enterprise, with all of the extra claims on top of scripture, it shouldn't be scandalizing to point out that all of these great claims require a firm evidential support. Speaking for myself alone, though I think my arguments are reasonable, Prongs (3), and (4) remove Romanism from the sphere of evidential falsifiability, and I contend that (1) is simply a dead end for Roman apologetics. Only Prong (2), outlined above [in hopefully a somewhat readable fashion] in this thread, has any chance, and, in my studies as of the present, I simply don't see any parts of the outline listed above verified or rendered highly probable. At best, they've been shown not-too-unreasonable, but as for a positive argument, that is lacking in my experience.
That is, what I've seen so far is merely exhortational arguments for already-Roman minds, lacking the neutral evidentiary value that I'd like to see.

Final paragraph, promise: I view these three threads as reasonably sound, but they could use a lot of work and cleaning up. I'm not sure as to how derivative my material is, and I certainly don't present this as some great original feat of thinking [those feats lie in various technical journals and a grad-level textbook in another field entirely]. Even making allowances that blog formats really aren't too good for serious discussion, I could've done this in a much tighter fashion, but it is too late now to change, as the effort would not be worth the reward!

Defending Romanism --- Part 2

In the previous thread, I listed four major paths for Roman apologetics:

1) RCism is completely supportable from the OT and NT.

(2) RCism is not completely supportable from the OT and NT:
(a) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, being found in "seed" form, but needs extra-Biblical evidence
(b) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, not being found in "seed" form, but extra-Biblical evidence supports the Roman superstructure added to the Bible.

(3) Independently of scripture, Romanism is true because of certain philosophical a priori assumptions, which assumptions in the end make Romanism the only thing consistent with said assumptions.

(4) RCism is true by an experiential argument or some sort of mystical experience.

In the previous thread, I offered some stream-of-consciousness styled comments as to (3) and (4) that were based on my off-and-on encounters and dealings [both aggressive and passive] with Roman Catholics. The general conclusion that I drew was that RC apologetical approaches on the lines of (3) and (4) will, to the evidential Protestant, lack any sort of evidentiary value.

I'd like to discuss Prongs (1) and (2) mentioned above, and I'll try to outline what I see as the best way to defend Roman Catholicism in a way that solid Protestants can appreciate.

Prong (1)

I've come across the idea that Roman Catholicism is directly supportable by direct appeals to the OT and NT texts. We know the texts: Mt 16, 1 Tim 3, any passage dealing with Mary, etc. In a stunning feat of intensely derivative nature, I'll point out the problems with using the first two passages above as direct prooftexts for Roman claims. The idea is to present why these texts are rather nonplussing to a good educated Protestant.

Turning to Mt 16, a proposed papistic prooftext [alliteration unintentional here] under this framework, why doesn't this passage keep us up at night hiding under the sheets at the sheer force of its claims regarding the papacy?

The answer is simple: because there is nothing in the text that begins to clearly point towards the doctrines of the papacy, even if Peter is the referent for the rock on which Christ would build His church. Read the text yourself and ask yourself if, being free of any sort of Roman conditioning, one sees apostolic succession, papal infallibility, etc. I contend that the agenda-free answer is no. Growing up, I never saw anything remotely sympathetic to Romanism in this passage. The passage doesn't contradict Romanism explicitly, but, it certainly isn't an obvious prooftext for Romanism either.

The above paragraph is still too generous, for it is quite possible that Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ is the true referent of the passage, in which case the passage can't within the realms of exegetical decency even be considered as a papistic prooftext.

My opinion on the passage [offered without argument] is that it is more likely that
Peter is the referent. But, even then, it certainly does violence to the text to view this as a case-closed sort of passage for the papacy.

Certain people have advanced possible positive directly-scriptural reasons for a Petrine papacy. One particularly obnoxious example is given here where the term "grasping at straws" is instantiated quite nicely. Relative to the papacy as we know it, this is dim light from an even dimmer bulb. Now the thesis of a Petrine primacy advanced there has some support, but, even when we take the 50 poor arguments together, we still have nothing relative to the papacy as we know it. A collection of arguments, each of which is poor, does not become any stronger when one considers the arguments as a whole. The reader can see for himself whether his opinion matches mine.

In this incredibly brief whirlwind tour, let's turn to 1 Timothy 3:16. In my Scott Hahn tapes he mentions this to a Catholic audience with the tone of "Proof Positive!" for the Roman Catholic supremacy. There, St Paul tells Timothy that he's writing instructions in case of his delay so that people will know how to conduct themselves in the household of God, for this household of God is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth. In Hahn's tape, this is trumpeted triumphantly as some great prooftext for the Roman Church's primacy.

But why? Where does the passage say anything of the sort? Answer: it doesn't. We're merely told, among other things, that (a) the household of God coincides with the church of the living God, and (b) this church of the living God is the support and bulwark of the truth. I don't know of any good Protestants who would find this shocking or newsworthy! Under prong (1) somehow the terms "Roman Catholic Church" and "church of the living God" are united in a truly magical feat of equivocation. Where is any indication given in this passage that Paul is speaking as such? There isn't any such indication. How would somebody who hasn't crossed the Tiber going to see this as a prooftext for Rome? Answer: he won't. This passage has ex post facto confirmatory value for somebody who is already predisposed to Romanism, but it never rang a Roman bell in my mind growing up or even as an adult.

In examining the purported Marian and purgatorial prooftexts, the same phenomenon has arisen. In every case bar none, the passage does not directly deal with the distinctly Roman claim being made, but is only tangentially relative to the claim. Roman Catholics who follow Prong (1) will of course want to challenge this, but from the view of sober exegesis these passages do not say what the Romanists want them to say unless one is already predisposed to the idea that Romanism is directly verifiable from Scripture. In that case, these passages have to be shoehorned into the framework.

Let it be stated [again] that all of this is well-known, and there is nothing original about what I'm saying. On a personal note, I think Prong (1) is the most irksome type of Roman apologetic, because here, in my opinion, Roman Catholicism is completely out of its league when dealing with the notion that it is supportable sole by virtue of scriptural claims. On a positive note, at least this prong of attack recognizes the currency in which Protestants deal --- that of scripture --- so perhaps I'm being unfair in my personal opinion.

In closing, in the discussion of Prong (1), I'd like to think that if sound exegesis made Rome leap from the pages of the text I'd be a papist. But, Rome just isn't there if we limit things strictly to scripture. Therefore, if I'm correct, Prong (1) fails to make any inroads to an evidential-leaning Protestant.

Defending Romanism --- Part 1

Kirk says, among other things:
But if they can support their positions from Scripture alone, then why do they need the infallible RC church? It seems inconsistent to me.
Also, don't they first have to fallibly decide that the RC church, as well as the pope, are infallible?

Since I've been thinking about posting on these sorts of things as of late, Kirk's questions are the straw that broke the camel's back, so speaking, giving me a good excuse for posting on these matters.

There are various ways of defending Roman Catholicism. Here's a brief outline, that if not exhaustive, should be close enough to being exhaustive to do the trick:

(1) RCism is completely supportable from the OT and NT.

(2) RCism is not completely supportable from the OT and NT:
(a) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, being found in "seed" form, but needs extra-Biblical evidence
(b) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, not being found in "seed" form, but extra-Biblical evidence supports the Roman superstructure added to the Bible.

(3) Independently of scripture, Romanism is true because of certain philosophical a priori assumptions, which assumptions in the end make Romanism the only thing consistent with said assumptions.

(4) RCism is true by an experiential argument or some sort of mystical experience.

In tackling these four prongs of attack, which are mixed-n-matched by Roman apologists, I'll give my own opinion on their strengths and weaknesses.

Prong (4)

This is the easiest to discuss. I have a tape of Scott Hahn who, during his days of questioning his Protestantism, still doubted the distinctly Roman doctrines or the RCC. He mentions later on the tape that while praying the Rosary [I'm not sure if it was his first time or not] he was overcome with certain mystical feelings. Presumably, this served some sort of confirmatory function in his quest to join the Roman Church.

Let's say that Hahn is generally correct in reporting truthfully his experience. That is, suppose that in praying the Rosary, he really was overcome with feelings and such as described in his audiocassette tape. Does this count as actual evidence for the Roman Church?

The answer seems to depend on if one is favorably or unfavorably disposed towards Rome in the first place. A Protestant such as myself who finds much of Rome to be in serious error if not damnable error can accept the veracity of Hahn's experience in a way that is wholly inconsistent with the premise that Romanism is true, for one possibility is that such an experience is diabolical in origin. Personally speaking, even though I don't consider Hahn to be the sharpest blade in the drawer, I don't have any reason to doubt his experience. But I do openly and freely doubt its source. Perhaps it is a self-induced psychological reaction, perhaps it is diabolical. There is no way of telling. Regardless, it doesn't bolster the Roman claim.

On the other hand, assume that I'm favorably disposed towards Rome. Even in this situation, Hahn's experience, being personal, and so far as I know and remember unattested by eyewitnesses, lacks evidentiary value. It may have happened, but the apologetical value is lacking. Now if Hahn has a track record of miracles or the supernatural [such as Paul or the other Apostles], then I'm willing to count this as evidence for Rome. So far as I know, Hahn doesn't have a track record of such supernaturalities, and hence even if I were sympathetic to Rome, it would still be hard to view this as any sort of evidence.

Now some people would be more friendly towards experiential arguments that are unattested by eyewitnesses or corroboration. I'm not. Therefore, speaking only for myself, I find Prong (4) utterly useless in making headway towards a Protestant. It probably makes good programming on the EWTN channel, though.

Prong (3)

The second prong to briefly discuss is Prong (3). In speaking with Romanists over the years, this is really what I've seen to be the main apologetic method when one knocks down the flimsy evidential supports for Romanism. Here are some of the assumptions that I've seen and heard from people, whether on the internet or through friends or in person:

(i) God wouldn't leave Christians without an infallible arbiter
(ii) God wouldn't leave Christians to be in error for 1500 years [until the Reformation]
(iii) There must be some sort of succession, whether apostolic, doctrinal, etc.
(iv) Related to (iii), barring some sort of direct line of succession, the link with truth is lost or in peril
(v) The Christian Church has to share various attributes with the "Old Testament Church"
(vi) Scriptural revelation can't possibly be enough.

Now if some of the assumptions in this admittedly incomplete list are in fact true, then a lot of Protestantism is in trouble! Also, let it be stated that there is nothing particularly invidious about these assumptions, as they're quite natural, stemming from a quest for absolute certainty [instead of epistemic probability].

But are they true?

This is where the rubber meets the road. Where is it stated in scripture, or where is it a corollary to the world-at-large that, say, Christians need some sort of infallible arbiter, whether a man or institution? It would be nice to have one, of course, but who says life has to be easy and straightforward?

The Roman apologetic for something like (i) breaks down precisely when one asks the obvious question of just why we need an infallible arbiter? In my experience, I haven't seen anything resembling a powerful or convincing argument as to why we need one. And, viewing Rome through historical eyes, the so-called infallible arbiter that Papists claim to have hasn't really done the job.

Another common Roman apologetic is the idea that if Protestants are true, then for a span of 1000-1500 years, most Christians were in serious error, and such a thing is a priori unthinkable to the Romanist sympathizer. Here though, what causes the difficulty for the Romanist? Surely, people can be wrong. And, people can be wrong for a long time. On top of that, majorities can be horribly incorrect. The strength of the Roman assumption here really dissipates when one is not swayed by the fallacy of the majority.

Now the Romanist is not being inconsistent by bringing the issue of alleged historical discontinuity up, since the Romanist is obligated to follow the idea of succession through. So, I'm not charging the Romanist with inconsistency here. The charge is that the Romanist is not dealing with Protestant currency here, and the whole argument from historical continuity won't have any evidentiary value to somebody like me.

[Note: the claims for Roman historical continuity and Protestant discontinuity are greatly exaggerated by a good portion of the Roman apologetics that I've seen.]

Another tack that the Romanist can take is to say something as follows: You know more than Early Church Father X? That's bold. If it is bold, so be it. I'm perfectly willing to state in public that yes, it is quite possible for an educated Protestant who has carefully studied scripture to speak more soundly about it than many of the ancient authors. This isn't to act in a chronologically chauvinistic fashion, since we're not dismissing the ancients as superstitious primitives. But the ancients need to be subjected to the same scrutiny as any other writer. And, if the ancients go against scripture, then the verdict against them can proceed just as confidently as a negative verdict goes out against modernist theologians today.

In my experience, most Romanists with whom I have dealt know more about "The Church" than they do the Biblical texts, or, when they deal with the Biblical texts, their work is completely amateurish and semi-literate at best. When somebody who fits this description has asked me about my boldness in saying that venerable Father X from long ago is in error on a certain point, they're not even familiar with the broad Biblical background on which I base my objection.

In conclusion to this point, then, merely pointing out the audacity that the ancients were in error on a lot of things doesn't really have any capital with the Protesants, and the issue is not brokered by bringing up this point.

The other assumptions that I've seen, (iii)-(vi), are perfectly reasonable, but, as stated above [and I fear I'm getting horribly repetitive], the evidence for their truth really isn't there in scripture. This admission that the Romanist assumptions are reasonable isn't damaging to the Protestant case in the slightest, for their negations are also reasonable. Just as positing some sort of necessity for succession isn't silly, one could also state the negation [that it is quite possible that succession is not a vital ingredient] with the same degree of plausibility.

The Roman Catholic will convince this Protestant to cross the Tiber and kiss the Pope's ring precisely when assumptions such as (i)-(vi) can be demonstrated or at least established to a stronger degree than their negations.

The behavior of Roman Catholics when cornered on evidence, in my experience, as been to retreat back to these seemingly unfalsifiable assumptions. Given the lack of evidence for Romanism, such a maneuver is expected. The behavior here isn't too different than when Darwinists abandon giving evidence for their position and merely posit that science has to be done according to materialistic principles, and Darwinism, being the only position consonant with materialistic principles, therefore holds.

This post is getting long by blog standards, and I'll terminate it here. Prongs (1) and (2) will be discussed in the next thread.

[Yet to edit]

Friday, June 10, 2005

Things I've Learned From Certain Roman Catholic Internet Apologists

It has become easier over the years to admit defeat or general ignorance. Thankfully, the Roman Catholic internet apologists are there to correct my errant ways.

(1) I didn't know that scriptural references to Peter could be transferred to the papacy.

I always thought that references to Peter referred to Peter. But now, I can approach Mt 16 in a whole new way.

(2) I didn't know that the NT references to ekklesia meant the Roman Catholic Church.

I always had this strange idea that, depending on context, ekklesia could mean one or more of several things: a home meeting group, the body of all believers of Christ, etc. Now I finally understand 1 Tim 3:16!

(3) I didn't know that those who weren't Roman Catholics weren't allowed to cite or reference the writings of the Early Church Fathers because some of the ECF's have positions that go against Evangelical positions.

Perhaps we can all have the local Roman Catholic parishes sign our permission slips next time we want to read some ECF material. Also, who knew that the ECF's support Roman Catholicism as it is today?

(4) I didn't know that the differences between Trent and Vatican II can be waved off.

I'm anathema, no I'm not. I'm anathema, no I'm not. I'm anathema, no I'm not. Words don't mean that much, even in a conciliar setting, I suppose.

The following two are related:

(5) I didn't know that you can simultaneously have liberal theologians in high and influential places but not have this cause any great alarm, since "they don't speak for the church."

(6) I didn't know that Roman Catholic laymen can pontificate on whether said theologians [who are in good standing with the RCC] are truly "Roman Catholic" or not.

One would think there is a problem with people [having no ecclesiastical standing in Rome] saying that other people, such as Brown and Fitzmeyer, who have ecclesiasitcal standing, aren't "real Catholics." But this isn't the case --- the rules of Roman apologetics, as practiced by its more eager enthusiasts on the internet are different than thought.

(7) I didn't know that the doctrines of Roman Catholicism are "2000 years old" while Protestant doctrines are merely about a quarter of as many years old.

That's strange --- my NT is about 1900 years old according to conservative dating schemes, and I purportedly let the NT texts act as normalizers on doctrine. Oh well, don't let anything get in the way of triumphalistic jingoism!

What's the point of this? As I see it, RC apologetics as I've seen on the internet isn't dishonest, but merely lazy. One the one hand, the distinctly Roman parts of Roman Catholicism are trumpeted as Biblically supportable, as if the RC team has earned a hard-fought road victory against the Protestants on the Protestant home field; on the other hand, one has appeals to such vagaries such as the development of doctrine, progressive revelation, and unfalsifiable philosophical a priori premises that make RCism strong already with or without scripture. Throw in a self-selecting tradition and you've reached the realm of unfalsifiability as found in such -ism's as Darwinism, Marxism, and global warming-ism. One gets to the point where nothing counts as evidence against Rome, but just about everything counts as evidence for Rome.

It's a nice game if you can rig it that way. The careful reader should note that I'm not arguing against Rome here, but merely against the lazy paint-by-numbers apologetics of Rome's more ardent admirers who occupy the internet.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Making Up For Lost Time

Upon being dragged back to the Christian Church over a decade ago, I was then immediately put to the test relative to my intellectual doubts and the fact that much of my life and thought would have to be changed or suppressed.

At the time, one of my pastors told me the following: don't fall into the trap of reading more about the Bible than the Biblical texts themselves. This wasn't a call to anti-intellectualism, but merely an admonition that apologetics was pointless unless I knew what I was defending, not to mention that a prayerful reading of scripture is spiritual nourishment. One can get so busy defending scripture or one's viewpoints relative to scripture that one actually leaves scripture behind to study arguments for/against one's position.

What happened over the decade that followed that admonition?

The answer is classic PP for anybody who knew me and still knows me. I completely ignored my pastor's advice and thought I knew myself better in this respect.

Over the decade, I studied many things --- NT Greek, OT Hebrew, critical theories relative to the OT and NT [nothing too specialized though], authorship and textual questions regarding most of the NT writings [long since forgotten], Roman Catholicism, countercultism, etc etc etc. What I didn't do very often was to enjoy the fruits of being an automath and enjoy the Biblical texts on their own. The Bible could wait --- there was this next book to read about the Bible, and hence the sacred text could wait a little longer.

It isn't as if in the process of treating the Bible like chopped liver [or hot dog filler, take your pick] I fell away, starting my own girlie mag and running a crack ring while adopting the worst points of Arianism, Sabellianism, Monophysitism, Apollinarianism, Montanism, Atheism, etc and starting some super-heresy. But, the lack of a continual grappling with God's revelation on its own terms [or turf, so to speak] resulted in a great amount of knowledge that helped in an academic sense, but not in spiritual sense. I could defend the conservative view of authorship on, say, the Fourth Gospel [namely, that the Apostle John wrote it], but the actual contents of this gospel were not as well-appropriated because the gospel itself collected dust.

This sort of behavior continued for close to a decade. I am thankful that, in this decade, most if not all of the "big questions" I had regarding Christianity and its viability relative to other worldviews were answered to what I consider my rigorous standards. The most important question --- is Christianity true? --- has been evidentially answered in a highly probable affirmative. But the "apologetic decade" of my life has sort of wound itself down in a natural way.

Now, I don't consider myself a closet-apologist anymore. The apologetical material is there, but I'm merely happy now to be a glorified Bible student. The joy in being a mere Bible reader is not mystical, and there is no charismatic activity on my end. However, after a decade of approaching scripture with my apologetical shields in the "up" position, it is a simple pleasure to read scripture through the so-called "lens of faith."

This simple pleasure is actually something that shouldn't be a new feeling had I listened to my pastor some 10 years ago!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Posting Resumes Friday

I try to put something up on a near-daily basis here at the Pedantic Protestant. However, work is conspiring to keep me away from Blogger.

There may be a few days' delay depending on long a certain project takes! If you're bored or want good reading material [or both], and if you're sympathetic to the PP way of thinking about things [if there is such a way], you'll find the blogs listed at this site interesting and perhaps enjoyable.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Clown Eucharist

I'm still in "lazy mode" regarding finding some material, and today is no different, though the travel fatigue and the effects of a busy week have worn off. I was going to post something more serious today, but Steve at Triablogue, via an email, informed me of the following tidbit, and, while not exactly breaking news, it is worth sharing. It also meets the day's quota for copy!

Basically, the gist of the post is that a New York church celebrated the Eucharist clown-style. Check out the pictures of people decked out as circus refugees.

One only wonders if, after handing out the elements of the sacrament, the people in charge started blowing up balloons and making dog-shapes out of them. Alternatively, perhaps the people at the table started juggling the elements while riding unicycles. The service wouldn't be complete without hitting the minister [or priest] with a cream pie during the benediction.

What ideas for the Clown Eucharist can the Pedantic Protestantistas offer, if any?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

[Really Bad and Technically Incorrect] Haiku Poetry Applied to a Minimal Trinity Doctrine

Jesus is true man
But He's full of deity
So He's God as well

The Father is God
Did you even doubt that fact?
If you did you're toast

Who is the third guy?
Oh yes, the Holy Spirit
Totally divine

Jesus is the Son
He's not the Father, okay?
Sabellius, ick!

Spirit is distinct
Neither is he Son nor Pop
Please don't confound them!

We stop at this point
The rest is speculative
Proceed at great risk!

Comment: It sure beats translating the Athanasian Symbol into Japanese! =D

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Improve Your Atheist Education and Morale

My friend Lydia points this link out to me:

How to Educate an Atheist

Particularly pique-ish to the Pedantic Protestant was the following excerpt:
Singing atheistic songs is a powerful but usually overlooked educational tool. Music brings people together by creating community spirit, stirring the emotions and educating the heart not just the head. Religious leaders understand this lesson very well and use music as an essential part of religions training. Unfortunately, few atheists' leaders have provided moving songs for their groups. However, there is no reason why atheists cannot create new words to the stirring music of hymns. Indeed, this is precisely what Barbara Stocker did in writing new words for the best known of all American hymn tunes, Amazing Grace, which she called Amazing Place (copyright 1998 Barbara Hamill Stocker).

Amazing place, this world I find,
No gods nor creed need be.
I once believed, but now my mind
Unbound, at last is free.

A mind that's free to plan and build
For all humanity
Will find its life and dreams fulfilled
In true eupraxophy

I need not strive for heaven above
Nor fear no hell below.
So free to live in peace and love
In kinship I will grow.

No prayer of mine need e're be heard,
Just rationality,
For reason reigns o'er holy word
For all humanity.

PP Commentary:

(1) The lyric "No gods nor creed need be" is a bit, shall we say, creedal? It reminds me of an ad that I saw for a liberal church once that proudly stated something to the effect that their creed was to be creedless. The lyric probably means no religious creed. But even then, atheism presents itself as a type of negation of Christianity. It is just as "religious" to deny Christianity as it is to affirm it, as the negation of a religious proposition X is itself a religious proposition.

(2) Singing atheist songs, for whatever reason, reminds the PP of communists and collectivsts singing the Internationale. [Scroll to the bottom of that page to see the lyrics.] It just doesn't seem natural.

(3) "A mind that's free to plan and build; For all humanity; Will find its life and dreams fulfilled; In true eupraxophy" sounds rather collectivist, doesn't it? This reminds the PP of some of the great sweeping claims regarding "humanity" in the abstract made by communist intellectuals that he's seen over the years!

(4) The appeal to "rationality" is standard fare for the atheist mindset. They're the rational ones, rah rah rah.

(5) One would think that the atheist, free of the shackles of superstition, blessed with the superrational mind that allows him to see through religion and oppression [not to mention sexism, racism, homophobia, nonecosustainability, logocentrism, etc], would already have a very high morale. After all, you've come a long way, baby, in leaving behind those dead guys who wrote those silly things in the Bible.
Shouldn't you already have a high morale? And as for the idea that songs stir the emotions, isn't emotionalism a charge that the atheist side lobbies relentlessly at Christians? The same comments go as for "educating the heart" above.

(6) For all of the self-congratulatory praises and self-justifications that freethinkers and atheists apply to themselves, some of them sure seem like they want the outward trappings of our Christian superstition. Why not divorce completely from we troglodytic primitives who probably think that there are little angels behind the light switch to make it work?

I've seen the same phenomenon when an atheist eulogizes another atheist. The deceased is spoken of in grand metaphysical terms that are absolutely meaningless [apart from emotional effect] if everything can be explained in terms of matter, energy, space, and time. The man who weeps over his parent and offers grand sweeping spiritual praise, say, should stop weeping. Doesn't he know that his weeping has no ontological basis since his parent, being dead, is no more, and anyway the universe will collapse in a heat death under certain cosmological models, hence no more space, time, etc? The parent really is worthless [as is everybody]. Also, the weeping should stop: it is doubtless explainable as something that conferred some survival advantage to homo sapiens long, long ago.

Friday, June 03, 2005

And I'm the Pedantic Protestantte

Another sign of the apocalypse! The text is given below.

New Bible Shows Christ as a Woman, God as Female
Tuesday May 31, 5:20 am ET
Publication in Response to Empowerment of Women in Society

WASHINGTON, May 31 /PRNewswire/ -- A new edition of the Gospels of the Bible for the first time shows Christ as a woman, named Judith Christ of Nazareth, and God as female. In all other respects, the classic texts of the Gospels remain unchanged.
The publisher, LBI Institute, has released this new Bible entitled: "Judith Christ of Nazareth, The Gospels of the Bible, Corrected to Reflect that Christ Was a Woman, Extracted from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John." The book is available in bookstores and online.

"This long-awaited revised text of the Gospels makes the moral message of Christ more accessible to many, and more illuminating to all," says Billie Shakespeare, V.P. for the publisher. "It is empowering. We published this new Bible to acknowledge the rise of women in society."

This new Bible includes: The Parable of the Prodigal Daughter, The Lady's Prayer, and other revised favorite passages, such as:

* Her birth -- Luke 2:4 And Joseph went to Bethlehem. 5 To be enrolled
with Mary, his wife, who was then pregnant. 7 And she brought forth
her firstborn child. 21 And her name was chosen to be Judith.

* Her crucifixion -- John 19:17 And She bearing her cross went forth. 18
There they crucified Judith.

* Her resurrection -- Matthew 28:1 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
came to see the tomb. 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be
afraid, for I know that you seek Judith who was crucified." 6 "She is
not here; for She is risen."

"Judith Christ of Nazareth, The Gospels of the Bible, Corrected to Reflect that Christ Was a Woman, Extracted from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John," $19.95, LBI Institute, available online and at bookstores, ISBN 0966143728 [paperback], ISBN 0966143736 [hardbound]. Click



This is the state to which feminism and progressivism have come. People are not to be "empowered" or "illuminated" by the actual text, but by a textual fiction that has no correspondence in reality. What does this say about the potential reader or readers, if they need an altered text with altered characters to achieve whatever empowerment and illumination is to be had.

Another point is just why, if one is going to alter the text to make it fit one's progressive mentalities, why choose something like the gospels? Why not just make something up instead? After all, allegiance to truth is apparently nothing worth pursuing by the people above, so why not just go full bore and create something that will be truly illuminating and empowering? Since the gospels contain such unempowering doctrines such as the impossibility of man [whoops: Womankind] to meet God's standard of righteousness, the obstinacy of man [whoops: The Sisterhood], and a whole bunch of other things that are offensive relative to our sophisticated and superstition-free age, why keep these in there?

So to the sensitive feminists and progressive wannabes: You go, girl!

[PP Coffee Mug to Steve Hays for alerting me about this!]