Saturday, August 29, 2009
Seldom has so much mischief been caused by a translation error that became institutionalized. Many use this passage to emphatically answer that men should rule over and women will have lustful sexual desire [libido] naturally exhibited to their husbands. But will the text itself bear the weight of such important claims?
How was tsuqah translated in the twelve known ancient versions of the OT (the Greek Septuragint, the Syriac Peshitta, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Old Latin, the Sahidic, the Bohairic, the Ethiopic, the Arabic etc.)? Why did the church fathers (Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanios and Jerome) seem to have translated the Hebrew word in only one way. And it is not “desire.” We need to ask if modern translators are aware of the Italian Dominican monk named Pagnino who translated the Hebrew Bible. Which was used just 7 years later as a source in the Coverdale English bible in 1528.
The Hebrew word tsuqah, now almost universally translated as ‘desire’ was previously rendered and ‘turning.’ The word appears in the Hebrew OT only 3 times. But when Pagnino went with ‘desire’ English Bibles, following Pangnino, rendered this verse and “Thy lusts shall pertain to..” Or libido and sensual desire. It is time the church returned to the real meaning of this word. It should be: ‘As a result of her sin, Eve would turn away from her sole dependence on God and turn now to her husband.’ The results are not pleasant, warned God, as he announced the curse. ‘You will be turning away from me (God) and (as a result) he will rule over you and take advantage of you.’
Now some want to change the second verb from will to shall. But the statement is only to futurity not to obligation or the normalcy of ‘must rule.’ So we may conclude that it is not lust or desire and neither is it rulership over the women as a type of ordering from God as to how relationships must be expressed.
2) 1Cor 11:3 Head of Woman is Man?
Easily one of the most difficult and debated passages in all of Paul’s epistles. So let’s pursue this from the view of the whole chapter. It goes from “head” passage to “image and glory of God while women is the glory of man” and finally, who are “the angels” in 11:10, due to whom “the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head”?
What does the word ‘head” mean. Most English readers of the text innately regard it as ruler, leader, chief, boss and director are places the mind will go almost immediately. Such an understanding of “head” as connoting “authority over” lead to interpretation of this text (and of Eph 5:22-23) as Paul’s teaching about hierarchical order in the relation between men and women. Some who stand within this interpretive tradition go so far as to posit a “chain of command,” where authority is passed along: from God to Christ to man to woman. The literal “head,” as in the NIV, implicitly suggests an interpretation along the same lines because of the common understanding of “head” in English when applied to persons in relationships such as marriage or other institutions. Common phrases like “she is head of the division” or “he is the head of his family” illustrate this everyday metaphorical meaning of “head” in our language.
Apart from the question whether this common English meaning is also the common Greek meaning of “head” when used figuratively, serious issues are raised by such an interpretation. How are we to see the relation between Christ and God? If God occupies a rank superior to Christ, then we have here a revival of the ancient heresy of “subordinationism” and a challenge to the classical doctrine of the trinity.
Further, if husbands (or men; the Greek word is the same) are under the authority of Christ, and wives (or women; the same Greek word) are under the authority of husbands/men, do we then not have a situation where women stand only in indirect relation to Christ, via their husbands and by extension, all men? A conclusion is then reached by some when they understand it as a series (God - Christ - Man - Woman) as indicating a “growing distance from God,“ or a “chain of command”. The Linguistic evidence points strongly , if not overwhelmingly, away from the common English reading of head as “chief,” “ruler,” “authority over,” though there are those scholars who would challenge this.” One, the most exhaustive Greek-English Lexicons covering Greek literature from about 900 B.C. to A.D. 600, among numerous metaphorical meanings for kephale does not give a single definition to indicate that in ordinary Greek usage it included the meaning “superior rank” or “supreme over” or “leader” or “authority.”
Second, the Septuagint didn’t include the idea of “authority over” or “headship.”
Third, nowhere else in the NT is kephale used to designate a figure of authority or mastery. So, those contemporary readers of Paul’s Greek did not hear our ‘headship” concept in this word but rather the idea of “source, origins and connections.” Cyril of Alexandria, in the 4th Century, on this text wrote: “Thus we say that the kephale of every man is Christ, because he was excellently made through him. And the kephale of woman is man, because she was taken from his flesh (in the beginning). Likewise, the kephale of Christ is God, because he is from him according to nature (John 1:1, 8:42, 13:3 etc).” Thus Paul has the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2 in mind. Though it is obvious that, in a final sense, Christ/God is also the source of the woman’s life (1Cor 11:12), Paul is here considering the sequence of creation of the human species in Genesis. This is temporal, sequential thought is taking in to account Adam as the origin of Eve’s being. Behind this temporal sequence stands God who in 1 Cor8:6 says God is the source of everything. So, the passage refers to Creation and the temporal process of how things were made in that very beginning of humankind. Nothing about hierarchical dominance and authority control in this passage.
3) 1Cor 11:7 Why is man said to be the glory of God, while woman is the glory of man?
Once again Paul seems to put women on step further removed from God than men. In brief it has to do with chapters 8-10 which deal with the issue of Christian liberty in light of true knowledge, caring love and concern for living and acting in ways which “build up” others. Paul sums up this discussion with these words: “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1Cor10:31). Concerns about propriety with regard to appearance in the context of public worship are addressed first (1Cor 2-16). From 1Cor 11:4-5 we must make some deductions from Paul’s answers. We must assume that social, cultural or ritual norms were being ignored or deliberately set aside in the context of worship.
4) 1 Timothy 2:12, 1Cor 14:34: The Meaning of Women Keeping Silent
For another time but, when we consider the role of women in the first century, Jewish people were very, very clearly oriented to thinking that women were mere chattel. What's remarkable is that the empty tomb accounts would feature only females as heroes of the story. This demonstrates that the Gospel writers recorded what happened, even if they felt it culturally embarrassing. Women had no standing in court or other places regarding testimony. Is this passage a study into principle or custom? Which way do you go on this debate? Clues for 1Cor 14 are written just a few sentences before dealing with silence in 34. A few puzzle pieces for you to bring together in literary word use similarities.
5) 1Cor 10:8 Why did Paul use the number 23,000 if what he is quoting in Numbers 25:9 records 24,000? Which text is correct? How does one square this?
Bibliography: Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, Brauch, “Hard sayings of the Bible.”
GleasonArcher, “Encyclopedia of Bible difficulties.”
1 Peter 3:1-7 has at least five words that are mirroring one another and describing the same nature of activities for the Sir and the Lady.
2x hupostaso: voluntary attitude of cooperation, carry your share of the burdens, abide with, assume your responsiblity as heirs in the grace of life, submissive.
2x anastrophe: conduct, manner and way of life, treatment, behavior.
3x phobeo: veneration, to treat with deference, reverence of husband, fearful manner, respectful.
1x hagnos (1x hagios): immaculate, clean, pure of any fault, free from carnality, chaste.
teemay': precious value, respect of one's high office, honor by reason of one's high ranking, deference, reverence, value of one's worthy price, honor.
The phrase in Hebrew is EZER KENEGDO
Genesis 2:18 should be read as, as I see it; “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding [and equal] to man.”
The Creator regarded Adam’s situation as incomplete and deficient while he was living without a proper counterpart. The Creator judged Adam’s situation quite negatively: “It is not good.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 expresses this same opinion about aloneness. Two are better that one…if one falls down…
Which category bears the evidence; we know, or will know soon, what history and custom have rendered to women; but what does tradition say versus scripture: helper for domestic servitude and female inferiority, error prone, subservient, made ontologically the same but in function less capable and hence must follow, lower rank versus strong effective help, rescuer, equal and co-regency, designed for equal merit, corresponding to and in full view of each other, to bond effectively
The role of woman as 'helper' to man in Genesis 2:18 has often been taken to mean a kind of domestic servitude and female inferiority. The term 'help-mate' is a mishearing of the AV phrase, "an help meet for him" and was used in Darby's 1884 translation, "a helpmate, his like". It is NOT a subordinate term as it is also used of God in the majority of its occurrences, (e.g., Psalm 70:5; 121:1-2) "...From where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord...". The older English term "meet", meant "appropriate" or "corresponding to".) Most translations render her (women) to be a ‘helper’ by these translations. (RSB, AB, NKJV, JB, NIV, Coverdale, Message, WEB) However perplexing these modern translations appear in uniformity, the customary translation of the two words ‘ezer k-negdo as “helper fitting him” is almost certainly wrong.
The Hebrew is )zr 'ezer, as in 'eben-ezer, 'stone of help' or Ezra 'help'. The LXX, Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, uses the word bohqos boêthos (Strong's 998) to translate 'ezer. Of its 45 uses, boêthos is used 42 times to refer to help from a stronger one, from a more secure or strengthened position, without need of reciprocal help. This strengthens the idea of 'help' as equal or superior rather than inferior. The possible root behind 'ezer may have been either '-z-r "to rescue, save" (as the Ugaritic) and or 'g-z-r meaning "to be strong". The Hebrew letter ghain probably, like Arabic, having previously had two forms implying two roots that may have later got confused when just one Phoenician sign served for both letters. The use of the root verb )zr 'âzar (Strong's 5826) in the Old Testament extends to some 80 occasions, generally of military aid, help from a position of supply or strength. Although the noun is also used of military aid (e.g., Isaiah 30:5; Ezekial 12:14; Hosea 13:9), it does not always imply a victorious intervention or superior assistance. On one occasion it is paralleled with terms for salvation and support (Isaiah 63:5) in the sense of one being leant.F1 In many of the passages it is used in parallelism to words that clearly denote strength or power. Examples are Deut 33;26 and Deut 33:29 etc.
A survey of 'ezer's 20 or so uses reveals strong contexts and parallel terms for might or power, not one of service or slavery. A better and new translation: "I will make a power/strength corresponding to/equal to man." A relationship of equals. In short, it should be suggested that we translate Genesis 2:18 as “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding [and equal] to man.” F.F. Bruce says and Freedman even suggests on the basis of later Hebrew that the second word in the Hebrew expression found in the verse should be rendered ‘equal to him.’ Heightened in Genesis 2:23 where the phrase “ bone of my bones” has an idiomatic sense of “one of us” or in effect “our equal” or “corresponding sameness.”
The last part of v.18 reads literally as "I will make him for him a helper as in front of him." The phrase 'as in front of him', kenegdô, occurs only here and in v.20, and suggests correspondence, with the new creation (woman) being neither inferior nor superior, but equal. The substantive, negdo, means 'that which is conspicuous, in full view of, in front of', the related noun, nagid, means a 'ruler' or 'prince', and the verb, nagad, means to 'declare, tell, expound, reveal, announce' (interesting in the light of the denial of women teachers by some) or 'go ahead'. This last one suggests 'achievement, pioneering, risk and deliberate thrust into the unknown'.
Thus anyone attempting to use v.18 to put women down or dismiss their ministry is in danger of having the Hebrew words thrown back at them as rather suggesting woman's superiority, ability to declare, teach, expound and reveal, and to be a pioneering leader out in front! In Rabbinic Hebrew, kenegdô is translated as 'corresponding to'. Gretchen Gabelein Hull coins the helpful phrase of woman as "'completer', not his competitor."
Genesis 1:26-28 should be taken as an a priori interpreter of 2:18, as it precedes it, and both are pre-Fall statements. Here, dominion, image, and blessing are conferred upon man, but the text continues, 'let them have dominion ...', 'them' could conceivably refer to all 'male-kind' or the generic inclusive term, 'man-kind'. Since, literally speaking, only Adam and Eve then existed, and the creative blessing to 'go forth and multiply' needed to be spoken over the first couple in order to put the rest of us here on this planet, it would suggest that the 'them' referred to is Adam and Eve. Indeed 1:27-28 elucidates: "male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion ..."
Thus, as Galatians 3:28 ("there is neither male nor female, all are one in Christ") interprets the other New Testament statements of Paul, so Genesis 1:28 interprets other Old Testament statements, for Scripture must interpret Scripture.
The idea of joint dominion as joint heirs is not alien to the rest of the Bible. In the Old Testament women could inherit in the absence of male heirs, and 1 Peter 3:7 speaks of "being heirs together of the grace of life."
Sonship, and its companion ideas of inheritance and access to God as Father, is a privilege of both men and women in Christ (cf. John 1:12; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Though the politically incorrect use of a male term to describe a male and female privilege does not deny its 'equal opportunities' application (cf. later, where bishop, elder and particularly, deacon, were male terms but could include females such as Phoebe). Further, sonship also implies the priesthood and ministry of all believers (1 Peter 2:9), male and female alike.
So we should neither make man superior nor woman inferior. She corresponds to man as left is to right, different yet equal, taken from his side, not his head nor his foot. The customs and subjugation that suggest woman is lesser and only fit for laborer 'helper' duties would have to place God as a helper and employee also. As I would not consign ‘God is my helper’ only to the kitchen and laundry sink neither is women!
The biblical case against the women having access to various authority depends primarily on three New Testament texts: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (veiling of women); 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (silence of women); 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (silence of women).
Opponents of women’s ordination will often point to Ephesians 5:21-33 (submission of wives to husbands) and Genesis 2 (secondary creation of women) to buttress their position, as well as to Jesus’ choice of twelve males as his most intimate disciples. Now I happen to believe that all of these biblical passages, when rightly understood, actually support the ordination of women. But I will grant that, on the surface, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Corinthians 14, and 1 Timothy 2 appear to oppose this practice.
Yet the passages I have just mentioned are not all the Bible has to say about women in positions of authority in God’s kingdom. In fact, there are many, many passages that either portray women in positions of authority or provide theological support for this perspective. Let me mention some of the main passages:
Genesis 1:26-28 - Man and woman created in God’s image; Man and woman given the command to fill the earth and subdue it.
Genesis 2:18 - Woman is created as a “helper” for the man. Ezer, the Hebrew word for “helper,” almost always refers to a stronger person, and, in the Old Testament, usually to God.
Judges 4-5 - Deborah was a prophetess and judge of Israel, with obvious and divinely endorsed authority over Israelite men.
Luke 8:1-3 - Jesus had many women among his entourage of disciples. Women were the first at the tomb after the resurrection; and, as such, they were the first to broadcast His victory over death (Luke 23:55-24:11). Matthew, Mark, and Luke all called attention to the loyal women who participated in Jesus' Galilean ministry and followed Him all the way to the cross and the grave. They shared the greatest news: “He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5 NRSV).
John 20 - The resurrected Jesus chose a woman to be the first “evangelist” who bore witness to his resurrection.
Acts 2:17-18 - In fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, the Holy Spirit is poured out on men and women, and it is stated that women will prophesy.
Romans 16:1-2 - Phoebe is a minister (Gk. diakonos) and someone whose authority should be respected by the Roman church.
Romans 16:7 - Junia is named as a prominent apostle. (Most likely reading, in my opinion, among several options.)
1 Corinthians 7:4 - A wife has authority over her husband’s body, even as he has authority over hers.
1 Corinthians 11:5 - Women pray and prophesy in church.
Philippians 4:2-3 - Euodia and Syntyche are leaders in the Philippian church and Paul’s co-workers.
Titus 2:3 - Older women are “to teach what is good.”
Revelation 2:18-29 - The church in Thyatira accepts a woman as a prophet and a teacher. This acceptance is never criticized, only the content of her teaching.
Of course I could point to many other passages that, in my opinion, support the ministry of women beyond teaching small children in seperate rooms. And, of course, I realize that those who oppose the principle of women have their own ways of interpreting the passages I have just mentioned. But even the staunchest opponents of women’s use of their talents would have to admit that these passages, at least on the surface, suggest that God can and does use women in positions of distinct authority in his ministry, even in positions of wise complimentary authority over men.
Responsible, respectful, in the lead and with corresponding sameness.
"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6, NKJV)
In the age-old debate of male-female blame various accusations have been leveled. Was Eve weaker? Certainly Paul describes her as the one who, unlike Adam, was deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3) and who transgressed (parabasiv parabasis Strong's #3847) first (1 Timothy 2:13-14) but elsewhere he regards sin (amartia hamartia Strong's #266) as having entered the world through one man's disobedience (Romans 5:12,19).
Many have responded to this by saying that Adam should have known better, you can't blame Eve; he was his own man he need not have eaten too; Adam should have taught Eve the commandment better - it was poor discipleship and headship.
I was recently asked the following question as the crux of the larger condition of how translations can effect the very essence of the meaning of an important event:
A friend of mine is having a lively discussion about whether or not Eve had her husband "with" her when the serpent beguiled her resulting in their eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The CONTEXT indicates that Adam was "with her" when she was being beguiled by the serpent. “...she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6, KJV) My friend is saying that the punctuation indicates that he was NOT "with" her like I am supposing. I pointed out that the King James translators put the punctuation in there, and there ISN'T any punctuation in Hebrew.
The respondent is correct, there was no punctuation in the Hebrew. In fact, the New King James Version tries to make the actions even more separated by adding a period and capitalizing the new action “…and ate. She also gave…”, forming a new version of the Gap Theory, allowing eons of time between her eating and her giving to her husband later at home:
“…she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, NKJV)
Calvin ( whom I find a great expositor) disputed Adam's presence with Eve during this encounter: “From these words, some conjecture that Adam was present when his wife was tempted and persuaded by the serpent, which is by no means credible.” (Calvin, on Genesis 3:6)
Rather than not “credible” it is incredible that some would try to read obvious words so obtusely so as to excuse Adam from implication. In the original Hebrew the connecting "ands" indicate a running narrative with what has gone before and after and not a huge time delay with Eve going off to find her husband several hours afterwards. It could have said “she gave to her husband later” but doesn't.
Literally the Hebrew reads:
“…and-she-took from-its-fruit and-she-ate and-she-gave also-to-her-man with-her and-he-ate.”
Furthermore, the word "with", Hebrew )Ie ‘im, implies joint action, as indicated in its dictionary entry in the authoritative HALOT Hebrew lexicon, “communal action or action in company...”.
Backing up a bit it is interesting to note that in each of verses 1-5 of Genesis 3, whilst the conversation is between the woman and the serpent, all of the statements are “you” and “we”. One thing the King James Version did have right, irrespective of its added punctuation, was an obvious distinction between you singular and you plural. Throughout these verses it is “ye” not “thou” and so it appears the serpent was talking about both Adam and Eve, if not to both Adam and Eve.
Eve may have been deceived but she silently gave to Adam, who, without comment, ate. There is nothing to indicate that she was a “temptress” as von Rad describes her (Genesis, p.87) or full of an “impure look…, infected with the poison of concupiscence”, as Calvin commented on Genesis 3:6, or indeed that she even “persuaded her husband” (The New Bible Commentary). She simply gave, Adam took, “Hers is a sin of initiative. His is a sin of accepting and acquiescence”, says Hamilton (NICOT, Genesis 1-17, p.191). No conversation is indicated as Adam was there and had heard the whole dialogue.
It is again significant that in the following verse it is only after both have eaten that “Then the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:7). If Adam had not been present and there had been a delay before his eating too, Eve's eyes would already have been opened to her deed, her nakedness, and her sin, and would have rushed home, fully clothed, to deceive Adam or more probably hide from her husband as well as from her God.
That Adam was there all along in his silence is indeed curious but it would seem that his presence is implied. Perhaps Adam was observing Eve listen to the serpent, they had no reason not to listen as they did not yet know evil existed, and holding back himself, but accepting for Eve to make the first move. Of course, later, he was going to be able to say, in the classic double pass-the-buck statement, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate” (Genesis 3:12), blaming God for giving him Eve and Eve for giving him the fruit!
In conclusion, Eve, and Adam, and therefore “Mankind” were present and in communal participation, have joint and several liability on their actions. Which is “an undertaking by a group of two or more people to be responsible, either individually or jointly, for any liability which may exist after any member or members have failed to meet their obligations”.
Friday, August 28, 2009
What in the world is Apologetics?
This is going to be what this course is about. The discipline and science of apologetics. Which in the world of theology is a separate science to theology itself. The science of apologetics is to provide and intellectual defense for the truth claims of the Christian faith. This is the type of help that would result in knowing what to believe and why to believe it. This is the task of what apologetics is about.
The Greek word is apologia: the term means to give a defense or reply or answer. 1 Peter 3 uses this word as an admonition with respect to this aspect; to be able and be ready to give a response to the hope that is in us. That we would stop the mouths of the obstreperous and unbridled and those that revile these same claims would be ashamed. At this time in the church they needed to have a defense for all the accusations and charges to the Christian community. At the beginning it was The demand for Emperor worship and the saying of Kaiser Kurios and the true life story of Justin Martyr and his defense of the reality of the true God. The charge that Christians were atheists. Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna and his discourse with the Emperor Antoninus Pius The charge that they were cannibals. The eating and drinking of Christ’s body and the rumor of this spread throughout Rome. A clarification needed to be made. Again, a sound and cogent apologetic was the tact.
A new world view had been given a new ethic to be enunciated. Not just a new religion but a new philosophy. As Greek ideas were waning, at this time, in the schools of new-Platonism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Aristotelians and other systems competing with Christianity in this beginning period. Our early forbearers were able to make a clarifying response to these schools of thought. They dueled with the best philosophers of their day. They appealed to the LOGOS. John introduced this concept in John 1:1. The Greeks used this concept for centuries and the Christian used this as the concept of Christ as Lord.
A full orbed Apologetic
The way in which the Church engages in apologetic answers, when challenged or when there is an objection, we have to respond to it. It must be by point by point by point. That you deliver the truth claims of who Christ is. One might say one’s defensive stance.
The positive or offensive position would be to construct a whole philosophical defense of Christianity that should be applicable to every culture and every theological environment which the Church ever finds itself. A case for the Truth.
Christians have wrestled with the best strategy for presenting the best case. So where do you start?
You might say that the first method is the case for the existence for God. But others argue for a historical approach. So there can be differences in which may be the most appropriate method, In this course we will discuss some of these different approaches.
A Reformed view: Why convince others to moral ascent if it is a Herculean waste of time?
If we can’t convert thru savvy and compelling reason, why bother? Why do it if it can’t, in the end, bring faith and conversion to anybody?
1 Peter 3:15: This is a mandate to do specific kinds of things. To have tools and to use them. To have weapons and to be able to know tactics of skill and use and a manner and attitude of delivery. To be wise and winsome.
Is Christianity true? What is faith and what is credulity?
If these tools are rational and supportive they should verify the truth claims of Christianity rather than it be demolished. We should have nothing to be afraid of from reason or scientific inquiry. It is our ally and asset. If we do have fear from those levels of opposition then, perhaps, what we have is not faith at all but credulity (willingness to believe or trust too readily, esp. without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility. )
There are a lot people that claim to have faith but really are just superstitious people. They may even be fortunate enough to believe all the right things, but, for the wrong reasons. We are supposed to be able to tell the world what we believe, but, also, WHY we believe it.
Calvin and the obstreperous:
He made a distinction between proof and persuasion. You can marshal evidence that is demonstrable. That is overwhelmingly and objectively sound to the point that they actually prove the thesis and yet have people remain unpersuaded by it. So, the task is not to persuade but to form a proof that is unassailable. A sound argument. Even if it is somewhat offensive.
The story of Charlie and his thinking that he is dead. His wife tries to persuade him. Then his Doctor tries to persuade him. Then a psychiatrist tries to prove to him he is alive. Nothing was going to persuade him that he wasn’t dead, because he didn’t want to believe.
Axiom: people convinced against their will hold their original opinions still.
Victories in debate don’t happen immediately but when one loses they know it. They may not admit it or submit to it but when they lay their head on their pillow and sleep they will know it.
To give protection to young Christians to these ideas of contrary argument. Also, the avalanche of challenges from scholars or other skeptics. Just to paralyze you and embarrass and intimidate you can render you paralyzed, But there is a body of knowledge that can answer these skeptics. Here we will get the assistance of help from others. This is why this task is so important.
If you would like to go over any of this, you can contact me: email@example.com
Faith vs. credulity
Review: 1 Peter 3:15, and to give a cogent reason and why do you believe it. Defend the honor of Christ. For people will say, I understand partially what you believe but they will ask why. Substantiate the content of our faith and why it’s legitimate to be proclaimed.
Christianity involves, not only the proper proclamation of events and the evidence, but a defense of why it is so. Peter writing to his readers in 56 AD. that it was not clever myths or fables we offer you but we declare what we have seen and heard.…
Luke begins his telling of events that he researched carefully, as a historian as well as a doctor, what the eye witness accounts were. Pursuing what the life of Christ was like. Drawing on the original sources of those who had been actual witnesses to these various events.. Like in a courtroom of our time we would bring in direct witness to give a testimony to the truth or falsehood of what is being avowed. So the New Testament does the same sort of thing.
Last session Sproul recalled the dilemma that those who are in the Reformed faith have. That is, nobody comes to the Living God unless God the Holy Spirit first brings the character of change to a person. But it doesn’t void us from our place to reason and teach and speak and study. But it is God who brings the increase not us.
So, there are those that will say I don’t need to do anything for that would go against the spiritual work that must come from God. We shouldn’t study or work on philosophy because that will get in the way of the Spirit. Don’t be vain in knowledge, they‘ll say. In as much as one can be wise, how can you beware but by being aware. It is a necessity to pay attention to the world philosophies around you. You will not be seduced if you have paid heed to the content they have to offer first.
Pre-evangelism and Post evangelism, Short review
First, Justification is by faith alone. So, what kind of faith saves. All the Apostles, including James says something on this and what results from true faith. What an evidence of faith is. A living faith is what it is called. But not a meritorious faith that we come to the table with or provide on our own. Justification is by Faith alone but not by a Faith that is alone
What is it that comprises faith. What levels or nuances must come together. Here are 3.
1) Notitia: When we say we are justified by faith it has to have a content. A faith in what is what you should ask. Faith in Banana-mango juice, faith in Buddha? We have this idea in our culture that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Ohhhh my! Does that mean I can put my trust in Satan and be saved? Or the OT people, could trust in Baal or Asteroth and other Canaanite deities? Of course, the answer we provide is no-no-no. This has to do with the content. Christianity is such that it needs a certain level of information about the person and qualifications of Jesus Christ first.
This is all apart of the “notes” or “data” or notitia. This is the information part of faith. Before saving faith can come they must have required information of the content that they are asked to believe. And that involves the mind. That involves information that people can understand. Before you can call upon the LORD you must know why you must call upon him. Yes, if you are wondering here, you need understanding and information prior to faith.
2) Assensus: Which is simply the Latin word for intellectual assent. If I say to you do you believe that G. Washington was the first president of the United States. If you said yes, it doesn’t mean that you put your personal trust in GW to have power over you. Just that he is who he was in history. I’m asking if your mind gives assent to the proposition that GW was the first President.
(Their is a whole movement today in contemporary theology that says propositions have nothing to do with faith. That the bible only has to do with relationships. And it is relationships that count and not propositions. These people say that all I have to do is have a personal relationship with Jesus. And then with that, they say, I don’t need doctrine and I don’t need theology. I don’t need to affirm any creed about Christ, just Christ. I don’t believe in propositions-I believe in Jesus. He is a person not a proposition. You here this quite often, don’t you. You say you have a personal relationship with Jesus but if it is not the same as the “notitia”, the facts and data of who He is, for then you might be having a relationship with a corpse or a myth or a fable. All the things we say about Jesus must be true, outside of relationship or believe. What we say about Jesus, what we believe about Jesus must be understood thru the mind-saying yes-to the propositions of truth.)
3) Fiducia: This portion can only be engendered by the work of the Spirit. It is a personal trust and reliance on Christ; that aspect which is an affection that flows out of a new heart and new mind.
So, you can’t go straight to 3 without attaining number 1 and 2. Sproul repeats; having 1 and 2 without 3 will get you no where. But you can’t have 3 all by itself either. Remember, statements about faith have to be tied to this ‘apologitic’ regard for right information. When the surrounding citizenry thought that Christians were cannibals the task of the apologist was to say, no-no-no this is wrong “information.” They were responding to a distortion. Let me clarify for you what the New Testament says. So you will have a correct understanding of what the information is. So with rightly understood facts, at least, you will know what I am stating. You may reject it, but you won’t be reaching for a ‘straw-man’ rationale but will be rejecting Jesus on the principle propositions itself.
*Again, we are living in a time of “fideism” which says, I don’t have to have a reason to what I believe. I can just say God told me what to do apart from scriptural integrity. I just close my eyes, scrunch my nose and try real hard and will just believe in a Jesus with my own faith. And that is all I have to do. I will take this ‘blind leap of faith’ into his arms. It gives Sproul a pain in his foot that shoots all the way up his back. Because, he says, the Bible never tells you to take a leap of faith into the darkness. It says, on the contrary, to leap out of the darkness and into the light. And that is not a blind process. The NT calls us to be rooted and grounded in what God does and He makes it very clear that what you do, then, is framed by truth.
Sproul’s example that supports his case is Paul of Tarsus at Mars Hill where he spoke to the sophisticated crowd and said, in your former days of ignorance God overlooked your inattention but now he commands everyone every where to have a transformational change (repent.) Because he has appointed a day where he will judge all. By that one who he has proven to be so. He didn’t do this in secret. Paul said to King Agrippa, these things were not done in a hidden corner, but publicly.
Do you see the difference between the various faith aspects. Are we to have no proven facts, no valid first person historical reports, no witness accounts to a resurrection but were asked to just believe anyway. This is not faith but credulity. This is superstition. The task of apologetics is to show that the evidence that the NT calls us to commit our life to is compelling evidence and worthy of your full effort. And that takes a lot of work. And many of us would rather duck our responsibility of doing the homework and wrestling with the problems and answering objections and would rather just say, just take it on faith. That is the ultimate cop-out. We honor Christ by offering the cogency of the truth claims of the scripture. Even as God does.
Ÿ When God sends Moses to Pharaohs court to tell him to let the Hebrew people go so they may worship me on this mountain Moses responds by how exactly is this going to happen. Who am I. How are they going to know. God responds by telling Moses to put his hand in his shirt and He will show Moses how we will show them. Well, the point is that Pharaoh would, in the end, not deny this power and proof.
That is why we have to do the work before the Spirit does his work. Because the Spirit does not ask people to put their trust and affection and faith in nonsense or absurdity or unsubstantiated truth claims. That is why we have the testimony of the scriptures for our consideration.
* 2 times Sproul talks on a contemporary faith distortion that is readily seen in the American church if not worldwide.
Credulity: noun --willingness to believe or trust too readily, esp. without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility
Four steps backwards
We are here today and thru this series to learn and to be able to give intellectual truth claims of and about Christ and Christianity.
science of epistemology
One of the first things we have to grapple with is our strategy of developing an intellectual defense. This will come thru the science of epistemology. And because you may not be familiar with this concept let’s take a few minutes to explain what it is and why it important to the science of apologetics.
It is a subdivision of philosophy that focus’s its attention on how do we know what we know. How can we either verify or falsify claims to truth. And in life we use this all time. You will say something and one will come back with “how do you know this to be so.” So you give a reason back and forth and so on. You want to substantiate your claim with some sort of basis of knowledge. We could split this into two groups:
1. So your first group will be those who put their accent on their senses. An example might be the person who claims there is no God because if God can’t be touched or seen and such, then it can’t be known. It must, they say, come thru the 5 senses.
2. The second group will put the accent on the mind and the process of formal reason. Like the Missourian who say prove it to me.
So when we come to the idea of truth, what are the elements that are necessary for us to know that anything is true. Now, there have been different approaches to epistemology and especially as it relates to apologetics.
1. The first are those who find the only method to be rooted and grounded in how it relates to the historical record and information that is known thru the 5 senses.
2. The next says , no-no-no, the only way to know is thru logical deduction.
3. Then there are those who think you have to presuppose or assume it from the first step or outset.
So there are in house differences that one will have to deal with in order to be able to establish a sound defense.
Okay, now Sproul is going to come at this slightly backward in two senses. So he gives an example of a class he gave at Temple University in which he lectured on Historic Atheism. An he gave an academic requirement that each student read the primary sources from the most formidable from western theoretical thought. People like John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, John Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Albert Kaufman and others. As we examined these prodigious authors, who were atheists, and their writings we found and paid close attention to the way in which these opponents of theism established there negative case. And looking at this from the back door they noticed a pattern emerging.
The pattern was that all these men in their arguments against theism attacked one or more of 4 basic epistemological premises.
Let’s explain or at least itemize what they are: The four foundational premises that were attacked by these atheists were:
1. The law of non-contradiction: In order to destroy the case for God some philosophers argue against the very foundational laws of reason themselves. This being the preeminent one.
2. The law of causality: You know what this is basically--cause and effect.
3. Basic reliability of sense perception: How are human senses working and what happens with them. The basic trust in the basic reliability of the senses. Not the perfect reliability.
4. Analogical use of language:
So quickly there you have them. Sproul will answer them in much more depth later. But by the back door you should understand that these esteemed atheists, these opponents directly of Christianity, of the last 150 years tried to dismantle it by negotiating one or more of these 4 principles of knowledge to their favor.
Never negotiate these 4 away
So let’s be careful, you who are reading this, that you develop a careful understanding of these 4 by never, yes, never, negotiating them away. For if you do you will be giving ground that may be fatal to your case to the non-believer and for God himself. For there are Christian apologetic systems out there today that do surrender one or more of these 4. Which Sproul thinks is a serious enterprise to be involved in and a flawed error.
This is the first back door method. One of induction and the process of seeing what the atheist saw as important to their case. How do they proceed and what their assumptions are in the development of their arguments. To see if those assumptions are sound.
The 2nd is to look and see what epistemological premises are assumed and used regularly by sacred scripture. Because it is scripture that is our final authority as Christians. The bible is concerned about ultimate truth is not a technical book on epistemology. The bible does not give us a philosophical analysis on how rationality relates to sense perception or how sense perception relates to the anagogic use of language. But as we proceed and how scripture develops we will see, therein, certain assumptions, or what Sproul is going to call here, pre-suppositions. Prior assumptions that the bible makes in communicating its content to whomever hears or reads it. These assumptions or suppositions are what come from God himself. So I assume they are built into to the creature as God has made that creature. As a thinking creature, as a sensing creature as a communicating creature and so on.
In the bible there is a tacit assumption of the validity of the law of non-contradiction. For it is assumed that the truth is not contradictory.
There is a discernible difference between obedience and the opposite. If God tells us to do A then we are not to disobey by doing non-A. We are not permitted to behave in a manner that contradicts what God commands. So, in the primary sense, we are to operate within the framework of this law of non-contradiction. Without this law, not one sentence in the bible would be intelligible. (He says more later, this time is just a reconnaissance mission. Were just going over the broad landscape.)
Is the law of causality assumed in the bible?
Every time an appeal is made in the bible to the evidential value of a miracle there is the assumption of the reliability of the law of causality. An example would be when Jesus spoke to those and said, “If you won’t believe me for my words then believe me for my works.” A divine cause for the supernatural results that came. For without this law being valid then the resurrection and all other things would be invalid. This is vital to apologetics.
Can we be deceived with our senses?
Sure. Augustine used a famous example to show the limits of reliability of sense perception. Which was the “bent oar” analogy. Where in a boat you put your oar in the water and in the light of day it appears to have been bent at the water line. Well we know it is, today, because light refracts but with just your senses at your disposal you would think it was physically altered. It appears that we can be deceived by apparent reality. This just proves that there are limits to our senses being trusted. But it doesn’t mean that our senses are altogether unreliable. For physical science rests on our ability to observe, test and examine conclusions.
Lastly, Analogies or similarities about God are not to be taken seriously because it can’t describe meaningfully or adequately about a transcendent entity.
This is where much of the discussion against Christianity in 20th century philosophy. Stating that religious statements don’t tell us anything about external reality they just tell us about ourselves. They just show us in emotive statements. Our emotions and religious feelings. But they have no counter part in objective reality. Because human language is inherently incapable of rising above the realm of humanity to speak about the meaning of a uncreated being.
So if Christianity is going to survive these attacks that come as the basis of language not being able to convey truth we have to construct some basis of ANALOGY as to how God is like us. In order for there to be meaningful discourse about him. An example of this type of analogy would be in the 1st book of the bible where it is said and asserted that God created man in His image. ….. And in his likeness. There is an analogy between the Creator and the creature. This, then, makes discussion about Him possible.
Next time and in subsequent episodes we will look at each of these 4 individually and see how each is important to the science of epistemology and the defense of truth.
1. Law of Non-Contradiction
2. defending faith, 11-21-08: Part 2: Contradictions; never - paradox; yes - mystery; yes - antimony; no.
Law of Non-Contradiction
R.C. Sproul has been teaching for over 40 years. He has been able to discern over time that students coming into his classes were starting to come in with changing assumptions on how knowledge works. Harold Bloom wrote a surprising, at the time, book called the “Closing of the American Mind.” Where he states, even in the first page, that 95% of students coming into college are assuming a philosophy of relativism. And those ideas they come into college with by the end of college will be set in concrete. He states that the modern American academic community has a perspective and mind that is closed to objective truth. The truth is now perceived and taught as being subjective. As a matter of preference.
Now that is quite a sad commentary but when you live for even 24 hours of time you don’t live as a relativist. Because in day to day activities you can’t survive if you employ the practices of relativism. At an intersection you see a truck coming down the street in the corner of your eye. You don’t say to yourself that it is just a relative thing that I choose to believe. It isn’t really coming down the intersection. Illusion and reality will come crashing together if relativism succeeds.
People assume, even when they deny it, a certain amount or some rational framework for the world in which they live. The assumption for that objective framework of reality is necessary for any science to take place.
Aristotle's philosphical inquiry
It was Aristotle in his philosophical inquiry, centuries ago, developed theories of physics, chemistry, drama, ethics, biology and was prodigious in the scope of his learning. But he also developed what has now been termed Aristotelian logic. Now when Aristotle developed his theories of logic he made the statement that logic is the “Organon” of all science. That is, logic itself is not a science. Rather, logic is an instrument that is a necessary tool for all science. That is, what Aristotle said it was a necessary condition for any meaningful communication. If I say for example, that this piece of chalk I hold in my hand is not a piece of chalk I can’t communicate anything intelligible to you when I make such a statement. When I do it in hushed and serious tones with much intensity can anyone figure out that it is just a series of nonsense statements (maybe an African Bishop could.) This is a purposed violation of the law of non contradiction. And we see it in a thousand fronts in our society today. Which is why we are here today, to be adept at this.
In this series I will show you time and again how the law of Law of non contradiction (hence LNC) and the principles of logic are violated in attempts to undermine Christian theism.
Example of with a Dr. of Engineering at Carnegie/Mellon. He states that there is no rational evidence for God thru science. So Sproul discusses this with him over a cup of coffee. They agree on certain established premises and then Sproul says that logic must conclude that God exists. But he refused to go there. He grant that the argument is compelling and the logic demands that I must affirm the existence of God -- but -- I don’t believe in logic. ( He would of said at the start of their talk that he does ascribe to logic for it is half of the scientific method and he can’t deny there rules.) But he retreated to the position of denying the validity of logic. When talking about a salt shaker he would become rational but when it came to God, no-go.
He makes this observation about LNC: it is easy to deny the law but all denials are forced and temporary. So, they only deny the validity of this law when it suits them. When they want to avoid a conclusion that they don’t want to have to debate and embrace. When dealing in argument and philosophical debate and theological discussion that when the opponent denies the LNC the argument is over. There is no need to go any further with your interlocutor if they say they don’t believe in rationality . They are saying that there alternative must rule of Christian theism though it is manifestly irrational. OK. That is all that this example of this discussion was able to show. That is what apologetics does. If you’re going to be rational and reasonable then you have to affirm the existence of God. And if the only way one can deny the existence of God is by denying logic then go ahead and do it.
What is most critical in our day is the triumph of irrationalism not over just the secular mindset but over the Christian community also. Where we have seen the impact of existential philosophy make inroads deeply into Christian orthodoxy. When I go to seminaries and colleges today and walk in the door I find that the student has already been convinced by the secular world that truth can be contradictory and irrational. That the bible can be incoherent and double-truthed, but, it is still the word that God put in a book. Quite astonishing.
In neo-orthodoxy there are two leading exponents who are Karl Barth and Ammel Brunner who, both, were intensively influenced by existential thought. One of them was Soren Kierkegaard who took a new position towards reason. Not to say his thinking was brand new for aspects of his philosophical underpinnings have been around in other forms.
Created by God or Man
Some early Christians wanted to eradicate the influence of Aristotle from Christian ideas. For they thought that they only needed what they thought was there’s alone. But, keep in mind, Aristotle didn’t create or originate logic. Anymore than Columbus invented America. What he did was discover what was already there. Rules that are built in to the human mind and the conditions for human beings to carry on meaningful discourse. He discovered and defined principles of reasoning that are already built in to your humanity by your creator. By the God who is not the author of confusion and who is not irrational or absurd. He speaks in a coherent and intelligible way as to be understood by God’s creature’s. A necessary condition for this is that he not speak with a forked tongue but by cogency. Hence the law of non-contradiction.
He repeats that the influence of neo-orthodoxy by the likes of Barth and Brunner has been extensive in the first part of the 20th century. Barth wrote a commentary on Romans and it was said that it was a bomb shell that fell on the playground of the theologians. He made this observation about Romans, “unless the Christian is able to uphold both poles of a contradiction then the Christian has not gone to maturity.” So, the mark of maturity is to affirm both sides of a contradiction. Also, his compatriot Ammel Bruhner made this observation, “contradiction is the hallmark of truth.”
It is a slight step to say that contradiction is permissible and allowable. We can have them and live with them and embrace them. Can we? But then we step next to not only embracing them but glorying in them because they are the very hallmark of truth.
Now let’s apply these ideas to scripture
His favorite application is to go back to Genesis 3 and to the first couple. And God sets down a series of principles. And he says all the fruits of the trees around the land you may eat but one is off limits. That one will, if eaten, is going to make you die.
Translate that to a logical proposition: If A then B.
Then, next, the Serpent comes and discourses. He says with craft some items of interest and then proceeds to the heart of the issue and says you will not die but rather will be like God himself.
Translate that to a logical proposition: If A then non-B.
Adam could have said that, in terms of Aristotelian logic, well Mr. Serpent that is a direct contradiction from what my Creator said just a little while ago. But they say to themselves, ha-ha, based on new forms of thinking , I must embrace the contradiction as the very part of all truth, and because the Serpent stated a contradiction, which we must embrace, then the serpent must be an ambassador for one of the poles of the truth. As it were, a representative for God, they say. So they go on to say, that must be the logical case. And as a mature being, able to see both sides of truth -- not only should I eat of this tree but -- I must eat.
I have tried to reduce this example to its ultimate absurdity. For if you can affirm contradictions as true, then there is no possible way to delineate between truth and falsehood, good and evil, obedience and the opposite, between the things of God and the opposite and between Christ and the anti-type. What, you can tell me, that you can embrace both these poles, as if all is truth? As if, Christ is both himself and his antithesis; at the same time and in the same relationship?
Nothing is more seductive to the truth of God then to cut away at the very fiber of truth itself.
This law, LNC, has no content to it. If you’re embracing logic you are not embracing any information or content or any premises. All logic does is measure the relationship between premises and between propositions. So, if I make two statements we can see if they are, consistent and coherent or contradictory. You apply the rules of logic to see whether my conclusions really follow from my premises.
In the classic syllogism: you have a 1st premise and then you have a 2nd. You have two propositions and how do they relate? If --- on the first premise it is true, then manifestly, if --- on the second it is true; then there is no -- if -- to the conclusion. It is a must.
All men are mortal
Socrates is a man, therefore
Socrates is a mortal.
The truth of your conclusion is made by the validity of your argument. There are rules that measure the relationship of ideas. Logic is like a policeman that God has put in the brain of human beings. To blow the whistle as to recognize the lie. The whistle blows when things don’t compute. A computer in the brain that functions to make things rational and a test of coherency.
Some definitions and asides
1. law of non contradiction: one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.
2. According to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, this is a fundamental principle of thought, which is so basic that it can be successfully argued for merely by showing that any opponents of the principle must be using it (and thus be committed to it) themselves.
3. Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned." Avicenna, Medieval Philosopher.
4. Socrates states, "It's plain that the same thing won't be willing at the same time to do or suffer opposites with respect to the same part and in relation to the same thing" (436BC).
defending faith, 11-21-08
2. Contradictions never - paradox; yes - mystery; yes - antimony; no
We have been examining in our course on apologetics some ideas or concepts which are very closely related to each other and that they can be and frequently are confused with one another. We start out with three major categories of contradiction, paradox and mystery. With an extra added called antinomy. Some use this term as a synonym for paradox but in classical and historic cases antimony has been a synonym for contradiction. To muddy the waters even more and you were to go to recent English dictionaries and look up the word contradiction you will find synonyms for this word as both antinomy and paradox. Yikes. Sproul is laboring quite hard to present these words with their proper meaning and you look at these synonym relationships and how do we overcome this confusion of these terms. Where the lexicographer ‘s now are saying these words are almost synonymous. How do we explain that? Well in language as often been fluid. So when a lexicographer sets about the task of finding a words meaning he does three things. Finds the etymology of a word. Contradiction comes from Latin for the speak against. Next is usage through history. And the subtle shifts it might go through. The last is by contemporary usage. How is it used it today. If it is used incorrectly often enough it will take on the meaning of how it is used today.
So since we are talking in a theological sense we will want to use the terms in that sense. When students come to college and embrace as viable the world view of relativism they are in essence saying that they can hold both ’poles’ of a contradiction. Which Sproul says is fatal to Christianity and is slanderous to the Spirit of God. To have God be speaking in contradictions is like having God speak with a ‘forked tongue.’ Which, therefore, is untrustworthy. Because what He says means what it says and cannot mean what He doesn’t say in the same place and in the same relationship. So some will try to get around this by saying God has a greater position of logic which allows God to violate these laws of logic. In essence, saying that we as men can be demonstrated to be liars if we violate the law of contradiction but God can do both because He is some higher form of Being. And logic to Him can be both true and not true at the same time. In a higher and transcendent view of course. This view is epidemic in the Church today. So if that is taken to it’s logical conclusion it will be fatal to the Christian faith. Because that would mean, practically speaking, that you cannot trust a single word God has ever said because lurking behind what He says is some ‘higher form of logic’ that makes it possible, in the final analysis, for Him to mean the exact antithesis of what He has spoken to us in His word. And ultimately by divine logic Christ could be the antiChrist and the anti-Christ could be Christ. And we would have no way of knowing the difference.
The scripture includes many statements about what mystery is and how we should understand this. The Trinity is defined as one in essence three in person. I don’t think there is anyone who can penetrate that concept of the trinity. Or in the same way, can anyone understand the two natures of Christ. Which is a human nature and a divine nature. Historically what the Church has done in defining the nature of Christ is to say that he is “vera homo vera devious. Truly man and truly God. Distinct but perfectly united with each other in such a way that they are not confused or mixed, separated or divided. And these are the four negatives used at the council of Chalcedon in 451AD. But all it really accomplished is that it put a fence around our understanding of the incarnation and then said ‘we don’t know how these two natures coexist in one person in the mystery of this birth and we haven’t penetrated how it works. In this council it is saying what it is not and not saying what it is. It leaves the two natures of Jesus as a mystery for future consideration. We don’t understand with our finite minds the trinity or the mind of Christ. “The finite cannot grasp the infinite.”
Will we ever have a comprehensive knowledge of God?
The mysterious nature of something does not vitiate it’s reality. If that were the case then modern science would collapse under it’s own weight. There are prizes out there for the one who can unravel completely what gravity is. There are still disputes about what the nature of motion and time. Elements that are hidden and are mysterious to our discovery. One can become an expert on a particular thing but there are still questions for discovery.
Mystery: meaning is seen as something was once hidden but has now become available and manifest
Paul is fond of using the word musterion (Gk) which is mystery in English. For him its meaning is seen as something was once hidden but has now become available and manifest. For example, in the Old Testament that when the Redeemer would come he would create a church that not only was for Jewish people but all others as well. A mystery that is now revealed in the new covenant. This does not mean that now all is revealed and there are no other mysteries now.
Rules that were already functioning about the relationships amongst propositions and statements
How does the term mystery relate to contradiction. They have something crucial in common. That is unintelligibility. A present lack of understanding. If I say to you that a piece of chalk is not a piece of chalk, that I use contradictory statements about a piece of chalk, what have you learned about this chalk? Nothing. Because my statement is gibberish. Earlier in a lesson we said that Aristotle set forth or described the rules of logic. Some think he invented logic but he no more invented logic that Columbus invented America. He set forth rules that were already functioning about the relationships amongst propositions and statements. Even though Aristotle studied several sciences he said that logic itself was not a science. He called it the ‘Organon’ or instrument and starter for all science. You have to have logic to be able to understand anything. In fact logic is a half of the scientific method. The other half is inductive where you gather data bits and through experiments. When you try to make sense of a group of data you step into the realm of deduction and the process of logical thought. So Aristotle said that laws of contradiction were a prerequisite for meaningful discourse. For intelligible communication.
You may have listened to an expert and he was speaking mysteries. I may not understand a mystery but I also don’t understand contradictions. We have a similar response because these words have this commonality but the words mean a radically different approach. Unintelligible is not the same as hidden and not known yet. We may discover the meaning of a mystery but we will never get gibberish. Mystery is a legitimate element of knowledge and of the pursuit of truth.
Even God can’t understand a contradiction. Because a contradiction by its inherent nature is not intelligible.
We can embrace and use mystery which Christianity admits to and is stated as such in the Bible but we don’t admit that there are ever contradictions.
Law of Causality
We are here again today to study four principles of knowledge that are crucial for any sound defense of Christianity. Principles that are constantly under attack by those who deny the existence of God and even those who do say there is a God but want him in there own image.
We have taken on and isolated four non-negotiable principles that are:
1. necessary to all human knowledge,
2. assumed by all people
3. assumed also, in the texts of the 66 books of the bible.
The four are of the greatest necessity: 1. the Law of non-contradiction, 2. the law of causality, 3. the basic reliability of sense perception and 4. the analogical use of language.
Last time we looked at LNC and found that all denials of it are forced and temporary. We cannot, on a day to day basis, survive without it. Something that at the same time that -- is and isn’t -- is impossible in the same place and in the same relationship.
The Law of Causality (LC) was used in a formidable way throughout all of history of western theoretical thought. Which was used to argue for the existence of God by reasoning by the appearance of this world and back to the “original cause.” An adequate and sufficient cause that would explain this world and all of this universe. So thinkers throughout this long period, reasoned from a causal base, back to God as the originator of the ‘first causes.’ When you go back to Aristotle, he says that God is the ‘first cause because all things, thereafter, require a cause.’
Every effect must have a cause
Since the 18th century considerable skepticism has grown against the Law of cause and effect or LC. If you have read Bertrand Russell’s book “Why I am not a Christian” he gives his own personal testimony to his pilgrimage with respect to theism. As a boy growing up he was deeply impressed with the argument for the existence of God that was based upon the need for a “first cause.” Which is based upon the Law of Causality. And so as a young boy he embraced the idea of the existence of God. Until he read and essay by John Stuart Mill who raised this basic objection against causal thinking. Mill said it this way, “everything requires a cause, then, manifestly, God would require a cause. And so whoever caused God would require a cause.” You, in his mind, cannot reason back to God on the basis of the principle that everything must have a cause. Now, then, when Bertrand Russell read this essay at 17. He said it was an epiphany for him and he realized that the law of cause and effect would not lead you to the conclusion of a first cause but would lead you on a endless regress that would get you, in the final analysis, not to God but to nowhere. So he, therefore, denied the utility of arguing for the existence of God on this basis of this law of causality.
Let me respond to this very briefly, and simply. Mill was a brilliantly and classically trained thinker. But he made a fundamental and foundational error in his thinking with respect to causality. The error was the error of definition. He assumed that the definition of LC was that “everything must have a cause.” And if this were true -- that reasoning back to the very beginning was a cause -- Mill’s thinking would be valid. Let’s put it in simple terms. The example of “two little boys” and they were sitting around and the one boy said, “where did the trees come from?” His friend said, “God mad the trees.” Where did flowers come from? Well, God made the flowers. Okay, he says, where did you come from? God made me. Then he says, Who mad God? His partner said, God made himself. This, seems, so profound. But, no no no no no, God can’t make himself.
The point is we don’t have to have an antecedent cause for God. He is an “uncaused cause.” You don’t have to provide a cause for an eternal being. The problem here is with the definition. Rather than Mills explanation; the definition stated properly, says, “every effect must have a antecedent cause.” If Mills had been working with that definition of causality he would have never got himself into the mess he did. He would not have lead Russell into the same morass of confusion. ( An asides, Russell maintained this till the day he died. That error of thinking. Everything must have a cause then an effect, is wrong. But every effect must have a cause. If we can find something that does not have an effect, something that has the power of being - within itself - is from eternity. That kind of thing would not be an effect. When we define the character of God we say the God is a self-existent eternal being who is independent, underived, non-contingent, and un-caused. If so then, not an effect. Only things that are made are effects.
What is a formal truth?
“Every effect must have a cause“…Is a statement that we say is formally true. What is a formal truth? That which is analytically true. (Oops, he just made it more abstract.) It is that which is true by definition. If you analyze, in this sentence, the words and their relationship to each other, you will see that the whole of the statement is true and by definition, has to be true.
An example would be, a bachelor is a unmarried man. You have the subject which is bachelor. Next in the sentence you say something about the bachelor to describe him. You predicate something about the bachelor. What do you find out about the bachelor that you didn’t already know in the subject? The answer is, in an analytic statement you don’t learn anything else about the bachelor given in the predicate that was stated in the subject. A triangle has three sides. It is true by definition.
What is an effect? Something that was made, produced, happened - or - something that was caused. By definition an effect has a cause by something else.
What is a cause? What does a cause do? It makes an effect. Something cannot both be an effect and a cause at the same time in the same relationship. In this most rudimentary of understandings it is an extension of the law of non-contradiction.
This formal truth or principle doesn’t teach anything directly about reality. It doesn’t say that outside somewhere there aren’t other things that are uncaused. But hypothetically we can say that in all the things outside of us, the planes-birds-trees-cars are effects. Then we know for sure that they have causes.
If something is an effect
It must have a cause
If you can prove that something is an effect then you can establish it had some kind of antecedent cause.
Sproul wrote a book a few years back and there was a written criticism from a philosopher that came back and it detailed one substantive criticism. Sproul will not allow for an uncaused effect. So Sproul wrote him a nice letter back. He said your right I won’t allow for it. I thought this stance was a virtue and not a vice? So he asked him if he could give an example, anywhere in the universe, of where there is an uncaused effect. He didn’t write him back with the answer, as of yet.
Next time I will deal with David Hume’s classic analysis against causality.
That is just one reason for all the avalanche of doubt on these causal principles which are used to try to demolish classical theism. Next time I will deal with David Hume’s critical analysis of causality, the British empirical philosopher. His watershed critique on causality has lead many later thinkers to believe that Hume demolished the very definition of causality. Who want to avoid and deny the enormous power of causal thought that drives people to give a sufficient cause for effects that we recognize to be effects.
Every effect must have a cause = everything must have a cause?
No, they are not equal or the same.
Some of the far reaching and diverse thinking that utilizes LC
1. Aristotle and his Posterior Analytics and Metaphysics
2. Determinism and existentialism in which the universe is no more than a chain of events following on after another according to the law of cause and effect.
3. Using the scientific method, scientists set up experiments to determine causality in the physical world.
4. Physicists conclude that certain elemental forces: gravity the strong and weak nuclear forces, and electromagnetism are said to be the four fundamental forces which are the causes of all other events in the universe. Causality is hard to interpret to ordinary language from many different physical theories. One problem is typified by the moon's gravity. It isn't accurate to say, "the moon exerts a gravitic pull and then the tides rise." In Newtonian mechanics gravity, rather, is a law expressing a constant observable relationship among masses, and the movement of the tides is an example of that relationship. There are no discrete events or "pulls" that can be said to precede the rising of tides. Interpreting gravity causally is even more complicated in general relativity. Another important implication of Causality in physics is its intimate connection to the Second Law of Thermodynamics Quantum mechanics is yet another branch of physics in which the nature of causality is somewhat unclear
5. Cosmological argument One of the classic arguments for the existence of God is known as the "Cosmological argument" or "First cause" argument. It works from the premise that every natural event is the effect of a cause. If this is so, then the events that caused today's events must have had causes themselves, which must have had causes, and so forth. If the chain never ends, then one must uphold the hypothesis of an "actual infinite", which is often regarded as problematic, see Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel. If the chain does end, it must end with a non-natural or supernatural cause at the start of the natural world -- e.g. a creation by God.
6. Karma is the belief held by some major religions that a person's actions cause certain effects in the current life and/or in future life, positively or negatively. For example, if a person always does good deeds then it is believed that he or she will be "rewarded" for his or her behavior with fortunate events such as avoiding fatal accident or winning the lottery. If he or she always commits antagonistic behaviors, then it is believed that he will be punished with unfortunate events. In Buddhist philosophy, especially Zen, the word karma simply means the law of cause and effect, i.e. Causality.
More on causality which leads into the reliability of sense perception
Welcome again to Christian apologetics. We are in the middle, now, of looking at those elements of knowledge, of the science of epistemology, that are essential to coming to a sound defense of the truth of theism.
Last time we dealt with the Law of Causality and we were careful to show that the proper definition was very important. Which is defined in this way, that for every effect there must be an antecedent cause.
Today we will look at the more critical analysis of this Law that was offered by an 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume. In his inquiry into these matters of causality made some important observations.
Customary relationships or relationships of contiguity
What we observe when we see things happening around us are what he calls relationships that he calls customary. Customary relationships or relationships of contiguity. As a property line between to pieces of property are said to be contiguous along that line of the two different properties.
So when we see events take place or transpire in the external world, when one thing follows another, and we assume that the one thing causes that which follows it. Because they follow in sequence on a regular basis. So for example, on a regular basis it rains and when it rains the grass gets wet. So there is a customary relationship between raining and wet grass. It happens in such regular intervals that we come to the conclusion that the causes of the grasses becoming wet is the rain which precedes it.
Now you look at me and think to yourself, Is this guy (Sproul) really raising such an obvious conclusion. Because everybody knows that the rain is the cause of wet grass. In ordinary experience that is the way we think because that it is the way it seems to us with our naked vision. We also are accustomed to thinking in this way.
But how do we know that in between -- the falling of the rain and the dampening of the grass -- some invisible cause comes in and intercedes for the rain and is the real cause for the effect of the grass becoming wet.
Isn't this an utterly stupid assumption to make? Isn’t it obvious?
From a philosophical consideration and in light of 17th and 18th century penetrating questions that were being asked about understanding external reality and the forces that are in effect -- making happen what makes it happen. In regard to Descartes school and his theory of Interactionism or Spinoza or Leibniz in other areas of the world. For they postulated invisible causes that were not seen for that which you observe empirically. There was and is a great controversy, in philosophy, about actual causes.
Let’s try an illustration: What is it that makes us sick from time to time?
When this happens we might go in to get blood tests , throat cultures and such which are placed under microscopes. Where we find that antibodies are at work infecting our well being that are invisible to the naked eye. Without the discovery of microscopes we would of never imagined that the causes for our diseases were what they are presumed to be today. It was not that long ago that people were talking about animal spirits invading our bodies and going up and down our arms and so forth.
The microscope has opened up a whole new world to realities that are truly there and are making an impact on our lives. But is a ‘bug’ we pick up seen by us? No.
What Hume was doing, from a scientific analysis was -- there are all sorts of things going on that we don’t perceive. We don’t ever see from our senses.
So we make assumptions -- because one thing follows another -- therefore that is the cause.
Causal thinking, ladies and gentlemen, is at the heart of the scientific inquiry. It is at the heart of medicine also. We are asking a medical staff, when unknown circumstances hit, to determine and ascertain what is the cause of our illness. We want a determination of the cause so they can come up with a treatment that will cure the disease we have. If we can’t determine what is wrong and don’t have a proper diagnosis it is very difficult to find the proper remedy. This is also the case in biology and chemistry and astronomy.
The principle of Causality is presumed… constantly.
To say it another way, Casual thinking is at the heart of natural sciences. Now you can imagine the crisis that came about in the 18th century when this very learned scholar in Scotland raised questions about scientific ability to determine and isolate causes. Hume used a famous illustration that is called the “pool ball illustration.” Which if you can imagine the flat green table with pockets in the corners and sides and a queball and the object ball. You get this ball in the corner pocket by your arm swinging the stick which strikes the que which strikes the 8-ball which is deposited in the pocket that you aimed for. A sequence of causal actions was necessary for this to happen. Does anybody see the invisible force from stick to ball? Do you see a force when the one ball strikes another? No. What we see is one thing following another. This is what is called a Customary or contiguous Relationship.
What Hume is saying is you don’t see causality. You see actions in sequence. The example you may have heard, which is a fallacy, is when a rooster crows and, then, the sun comes up. The farmer, oddly, thought the sounds of the rooster was the cause of the sun rising. Is the farmer wrong?
post hoc ergo propter hoc
This is the informal fallacy in logic called ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc.’ Which translates, after this therefore because of this. Just because something happens after something else does not mean that the previous thing had anything to do with that which came after. Things seem connected but that doesn’t establish a relationship of causality!
This is a brief analysis of David Hume’s work on the problems with types of causality. Since then, you have had all sorts of people assuming (a leaping and attaching meaning in their minds from the events of Hume; in itself a possible fallacy) what Hume did with his analysis was demolish the very Law of Causality. Which, Sproul states, he did not do. He actually came to the conclusion… It is one thing to say that there are forces that I can’t see or that I don’t know are causing something. But it is another to say that ‘nothing’ caused this thing to happen.
When we apply the Law of Causality to the external world we have to face the limitations of sense perception that David Hume sets forth. We don’t have to jettison the principle of cause and effect because of perception limitations. It still is a fact that if something is an effect then, indeed, it was caused by something other than itself. That has to be true no matter how many experiments you make. This is a formal argument (from the last paper).
On to the third principle: Basic reliability of sense perception
This is the 3rd principle we will talk on, the basic reliability of sense perception. We can show that we don’t have ‘perfect’ perception of reality. This is why machines are used to heighten our senses in perceiving things. Why Sproul describes here what Hume worked out is he shows these very limits of human sense perception and the power of that ability. Hume shows those limits.
So we find we cannot penetrate to the invisible realm. Where, perhaps all sorts of unseen forces are at work. Not the least of which is the power of God. Scripture says in Him we move and breath and have our being. Take the part where “in God we move…” One of the assumptions of Christian truth is the principle that ‘nothing can move in this world apart from the power of God.’ We can say that I, as a human, have the power to drop something out of my hand down onto the floor but I am, at best, a secondary cause. I can’t even open my finger to start my action apart from the power of God. The power of God is invisible.
So this analysis of Hume is compatible to Christian theism in that there are limits to human perception thru the senses. There can be no power except for God, which is the power-supply for all motion and because he is invisible no amount of empirical research will get to the heart of the matter. That’s it , the statement is -- to get to the heart of matter -- to get to the heart of the motion of matter.
So this analysis of Hume is compatible to Christian theism in that there are limits to human perception thru the senses. But he took it to a place where he tried to reduce it to a place where all science that depends on sense perception to a place of outright skepticism. It is said of Hume that he was the graveyard of British empiricism. Hume’s description of the skepticism of perceiving forces went to the demolition of causal thinking.
For if you take away causal thinking, you take away both Christian theism but you take away science also.
These factors made Immanuel Kant spend the latter parts of his life in resurrecting the validity of causality and basic reliability of sense perception as it related to science and theism.
My senses cannot give me a comprehensive view of reality.
BUT, the only link I have, though, from the interior chamber of my mind -- my thinking part -- to the external world, the only transition I have from the mind to you (the external world) is through my senses. My body is the bridge from my body to my mind to the world.
What is Mind?
Dr. Gartner used to answer that question with his quip, “what is mind?…no matter… what is matter, then?…never mind.” This thought says there is a fundamental distinction between materiality or corporal reality and that which is nonphysical. And an idea or thought in mind maybe linked to a physical cause with it’s physical stimulation of synapses’ and the like in the physical part of the brain but it is one thing to say that the physical brain gives rise to thinking it is another to say that thinking itself is physical. We don’t want to do that.
My thinking, my conscious awareness of things is nonphysical. I cannot have any thoughts about you (in the external world) or about the world outside in my mind except through my senses. So as imperfect as my senses maybe that is the only avenue I have to physical reality outside of myself.
I can retreat into my own mind and make deductions about what may or may not be out there. But I have no real contact with the world out there except through my senses. That is why it is axiomatic that in modern science and Biblical studies is to operate with the assumption that our basic equipment, that we have, the faculties of knowing, that God has given us; such as the five we might have in their full abilities, is reliable enough for us to act upon. I might think that this or that caused a yellow light is going to turn red but I trust my senses and their reliability that I well stop for the light, even if I think that a demon turned it red.
This is the way the Bible speaks when Peter refers to the reason not to believe in craftily and cleverly devised myths and fables. But we believe what we have seen with our eyes and heard with our hears. Here is a biblical presentation of this basic reliability of our senses being able to be trusted. Even the assumption, in scripture that we can see causal relationships in this world. It is assumed throughout the entirety of scripture.
These 3 principles, we have discussed so far, are non-negotiable to Christian apologetics.
Addendum: and to use for everyday situations and thinking
Post hoc ergo propter hoc, It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause, coincidental correlation or correlation not causation. It is subtly different from the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc, in which the chronological ordering of a correlation is insignificant. Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection. Most familiarly, many superstitious beliefs and magical thinking arise from this fallacy.
The fourth principle of knowledge: the analogical use of language
Welcome back to our pursuit of Apologetics. There is in this journey, a basic aspect of necessary conditions for knowledge that we haven’t covered yet. Today we will discuss the Analogical use of language. You might think this is a most esoteric term to the lay person as it relates to knowledge and apologetics in our day. So today what is this issue all about. Remember that these studies came out of our inductive study of atheism. The classic arguments that the greatest minds have waged against Judeo-Christianity. And that there are certain elements of their thinking that were consistently present in the critics, which were the denial of one or more of these four principles of knowledge.
Now we come to the last of the four, the aspect of language.
In the 20th century in the contemporary philosophy of this period we saw a shift to a concern with human language. And in the midst of this shift came a controversy that is know as the God-talk Controversy. You may not be familiar with this but what came out of this is was a movement in theology called “Theothanatology “ or the “death of God movement.” All sorts of philosophers and theologians were announcing this death declaration. What was behind this concept was a crisis in the philosophy of language. It had it’s roots, first of all, with a group in Great Britain which was called Logical Positivism. In this movement one of the central theses was the central principle of the law of verification. Well, we all know how to verify something. But this word comes from the word “truth” and it means to authenticate and show that something is true. If I make a claim and I don’t back it up my claim is not verifiable. If I can prove the claim then I have verified it.
This principle stated that only those statements are deemed to be true and can be verified must be done so -- empirically. Or, only statements that can be verified are empirically true statements. Now to show that something is true on can use sense perception to show it is true. So for example, if I say there is gold in Alaska the only way I can prove that this is true is to go to Alaska and find some gold. Then I can demonstrate that it is empirically true. The five senses determine that it so.
This had a tremendous influence on these communities of thinkers. Until somebody said, with what should have been obvious from the out set, that the law of verification, itself, can not be verified empirically. It is simply a gratuitous premise. And with that this school of thought somewhat retreated. But not completely, for in spite of that stumbling block, the guns of ‘verification’ and their criticisms were to take aim on historic theism. With their emphasis to the respect, in their minds, to language about God.
analogy of gold in Alaska
Critics were saying that statements about God cannot be proven in anyway scientifically. Because no one can see or touch God. You can’t subject God to a test either in the laboratory or other analysis. The idea of God remains unprovable, unverifiable, but also un falsifiable. (As an aside; a lot of Christians use this technique also to not have to reckon with logical thinking) Many Christians take comfort in the idea that things that they say they believe cannot be proven false. But something that cannot be proven false does not mean that it is true. For example, if I tell you I believe in ghosts and someone asks me if you have seen some and I say of course. Do we have any scientific evidence for ghosts? You might say no but there is a reason for that, ghosts don’t like scientists. Any time that scientists come around with measuring devices to detect the premise of ghosts the ghosts leave because it is apart of their ghostly nature to flee from scientists. Therefore scientists have never been able to verify them. That somebody deposit’s a believe like this can neither prove or disprove the truth of his premise. But neither can anybody prove him wrong. The impossibility of falsifying his statement is built into the premise. That is what you would call cheating in the theoretical realm of thought. In this vocation it is harder to falsify a statement than to verify one. Let’s revisit our analogy of gold in Alaska. We have stated how we can prove there is gold there. But what if he says there is no gold up there. How would you falsify that claim? Go up there and look around a while? Does that prove that the statement is false? But what does it take to prove the false case; that you must search all of the territory and at every depth. And if you excavated the whole area and said there was no gold, therefore, we (the scientists) falsified the statement that there is gold in Alaska. But they will say you missed a grain in Denali. Go search again you haven’t proven you case. Anyway, it is much harder to falsify than to verify.
However with logic it is an other matter
So this is what they say; since there is no physical prove for God’s existence and following basic rules of verification statements about God are at best emotive. That is, language about God is emotive. When I say I believe in God I am not saying anything meaningful about what exists outside of me all I’m doing is telling you something about me. That I believe and have emotion or passion bound up with the idea that God exists.
There was a discussion Sproul had with a student some years ago who asked him if he believed in God. Sproul said yes and the student went on to say do you pray and sing and read about God? The answer was yes. And all these things are meaningful? Yes Sproul said. The student’s conclusion was that for Sproul, God exists. But I don’t believe in God. And find nothing meaningful about the existence of a God. So for me God does not exist. Sproul says then, this is relativism with a vengeance. He says, to the student we are not talking about the same thing. When I assert the existence of God I am asserting the existence of a being that is apart from me. Outside of me and not apart of my subjectivity and emotional makeup. All my singing and praying and attending does not have the ‘power’ to create him. If it did, I’m simply diluted and wrong. But if the God I’m talking about does exist all of your unbelief and disinterest in him does not have the ‘power’ to annihilate him.
an extremely skeptical approach to the idea of God
Let’s keep this in view. When we talk about God we are talking about the objective existence of God and not my subjective feeling about him. This movement reduced ‘talk of God’ to human emotions. Therefore they claim, statements about God say nothing meaningful about objective reality outside of the people who are making the claims. Now that is an extremely skeptical approach to the idea of God. You have to ask what is behind that. Well, one of the main things behind it was the struggle in the 19th and 20th century to redefine what religion was. With movements having a massive impact in trying to change historic Christianity. In naturalistic terms. Remember, the single most important affirmation of the Enlightenment of the 18th century was, the very key to the Enlightenment, that the God-hypothesis (the idea of God) is no longer necessary to explain the presence and the origin of the universe or the origin of human life. Before the Enlightenment most secular people were very impressed with the classical arguments for the existence of God and as a necessary postulate to explain the universe and human life. The Enlightenment produced a believable alternative for creation and made an impact on western culture and thinking to this day. Not everyone certainly agreed with all these new principles but the emphasis was that they no longer needed to affirm the existence of God. The second key was, science makes known that life and the universe came and come about through a process called ‘spontaneous generation.’ That became the scientifically acceptable alternative to creation. The claim that things just pop into existence on their own. (later in this course we will take a close look at this concept.) But, here, I’m trying to explain how and where this crisis of language came from. The 18th century, following on the heels of this original criticism, sought to accommodate this criticism by reconstructing Christianity in naturalistic terms. Then 19th century liberalism rejected anything supernatural in historic Christianity. They used revision tactics to state that the old testament was written not before an event but after and as an after action report. No real supernatural events just editorial comment. All aspects of intervention were rejected as mythological accretions into the historic documents. The emphasis, then, as it matriculated into society, became for Christianity just the platitudes of love of others and a sociological agenda of humanitarianism. All this taking place on the natural sphere with no need to have a vertical need for believe in a creator. This was the concept of a naturalized religion. This was then married to the philosophy of the 19th century to the rising establishment of evolution or what is called immenetistic. The theology, then, that came to prevail was pantheistic. God is not something that is beyond and distinct from the universe but, if God exists, he exists as a part of this universe. We understand pantheism in it’s simplest form to mean: everything is God, God is all and all is God.
If everything is God and all is God, then, the word God does not refer to anything in particular
Now think of that statement linguistically. If everything is God and all is God, then, the word God does not refer to anything particular. If it refers to everything in general it refers to nothing in particular. The word has no particular significance. This concept of immanence brought a crisis of language. Whether you could speak meaningfully about God at all. This provoked a crisis in theology and philosophy in the 20th century against liberalism and there was an attempt to reconstruct the ascendance of God. A sense in which God is above and beyond the universe and the stream of history. This renewed emphasis of trying to redeem Christianity from liberalism and restore the supernatural. Now when one attempts to correct the errors of your predecessor you can make the pendulum swing too far in the other direction and to an over correction. This is what happened when they came up with the notion of ‘Wholly Other.’ God is so different from the universe we must flee from identifying God at all with the universe, as pantheism does. He exists totally away from nature. God is completely different from the human.
Now as well meaning as this may seem, it paved the way for an even worse crisis of how one uses language about God. So in our next session we will see how this came to pass.