Board index Faith and Knowledge

How do we know what we know, and what is faith all about

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby Bad Monkey » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:17 pm

Which is still a completely different type of evidence than direct revelation. Abraham, Moses, and Paul all claimed direct conversations with God. We have documents from hundreds of years after the event. Paul holds up Abraham as a role model for faith, when we can't have the same experiences that gave Abraham his certainty.
Bad Monkey
 

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby jimwalton » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:18 pm

You're right that it's a different kind of evidence, but it's not a different kind of faith. Paul holds up Abraham as a role model for faith, not because he saw God directly or received direct revelation, but because he followed God based on the evidence he had. That same course is all that is expected of us. We are not required or expected to have the same experiences as other believers. That's never the point.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5132
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby Mr. Bojangles » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:27 pm

> His point was that seeing wasn't necessary for belief, not that evidence wasn't necessary.

These are contradictory statements. "Seeing" and "evidence" are the same thing.

> We know the tomb was empty

No we don't. In fact, there is no evidence that there was ever even a tomb at all. The empty tomb story has no attestation before Mark's Gospel or independently of Mark's Gospel. The other Gospels got it from Mark. Mark is the one and only independent source for the empty tomb, and Mark was written 40 years after the crucifixion by a nonwitness living outside of Palestine. This is an author who we know employed fiction and made stuff up elsewhere in his book (throughout it really). A tomb burial would be historically implausible in the first place, and Mark says that no one was ever told about it. Mark appears to have invented the empty tomb himself. Paul doesn't know about it. Does that mean there could not have been a tomb? No, but it is absolutely false to say we know there was one. In fact, there probably was not one. Crucifixion victims were usually either left on the cross to rot or disposed of in mass criminals' graves. They were not permitted "honorable burials" by the Romans or by Jewish law.

There are significant scholars who don't believe there ever was a tomb at all (JD Crossan, Bart Ehrman). Nothing about the tomb can be claimed as knowledge, but even if there was an empty tomb, a missing body is evidence for nothing but a missing body.

> Of course there are. Peter, John, and others.

We have nothing from Peter or John or from others. The Epistles of Peter (an John and James and Jude) are pseudoepigraphs - forgeries. So were several of Paul's letters. NT scholars also believe that all of the traditional authorship attributions of the Gospels are spurious. We do not have a single word that was actually written by a disciple or by anyone who knew Jesus.

> This is simply untrue. No one argues that all the gospels were written after AD 100.

Not all, but John is dated around 100-110 for its final form. Luke is dated at least in the 90's as well.

> I couldn't disagree more. We can talk about this as you wish.

You would lose badly on this. I don't recommend trying to defend inerrancy. It's indefensible.

> King Hezekiah. We have his royal seal. His tunnel has been found. He is on other archaeological artifacts. He is established as a historical reality.

So what? What does this have to do with Jesus? Nobody thinks that nothing in the Bible is historical, but the archaeological and historical record shows far more things that the Bible is about than wrong about. Schliemann found Troy? Does that prove everything in the Iliad is true?
Mr. Bojangles
 

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby jimwalton » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:30 pm

> The empty tomb story has no attestation before Mark's Gospel or independently of Mark's Gospel.

The empty tomb has very early attestation. Paul's "creed" in 1 Cor. 15.3-5 is regarded by virtually all scholars as having come from within 2-5 years of Jesus's death (including Gerd Ludemann, Gerd Theissen, Annette Merz, Bauckham, Crossley, Habermas, Kee, Koester, Barclay, Barnett, Burridge and Gould, Dunn, Englebrecht, Goulder, Hays, Shanks and Witherington, Wedderburn). Form critical analysis of the segment reveals even earlier stages of its development. Even the Jesus Seminar dates it at AD 33.

> We have nothing from Peter or John or from others. The Epistles of Peter (an John and James and Jude) are pseudoepigraphs - forgeries.

We could have a long discussion about this, and obviously I have evidence to the contrary. But even if we stick with 1 Cor. 15, we have an account from very early, and from an initially hostile source.

> NT scholars also believe that all of the traditional authorship attributions of the Gospels are spurious.

Again, a long conversation. The evidence is against this position.

> Not all, but John is dated around 100-110 for its final form. Luke is dated at least in the 90's as well

John is generally dated somewhere in the 90s. Luke is often dated in the 70s-80s, but I think there's substantial evidence for it having been written in the early 60s.

> You would lose badly on this. I don't recommend trying to defend inerrancy. It's indefensible.

I'm not trying to defend inerrancy. It's an inadequate term for the discussion at hand. What I would argue against is that "The Bible is filled with errors, demonstrable falsehoods and contradictions."

> "King Hezekiah." So what? What does this have to do with Jesus?

Nothing. What it is is an answer to your request for "one example" of historicity in the Bible. That's all. You said, "Name one example." So I did.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5132
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby Trickster » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:37 pm

When I talk to friends I get responses. When I talk to God I do not. I'm not talking about praying to win the lottery. I'm talking about having a relationship.

When you talk to people you get feedback. They answer questions and ask questions of their own. God doesn't do that. I'm just talking to myself. I'm about as with God as I am with Andromeda. Only at least the galaxy is something I can see in the night sky.

> As far as revelations, I don't get them either. What I know about God I have learned from the Bible.

Does that mean you get no responses from prayer either? That your faith is based on your understanding of the word, not some personal two way relationship with God or Jesus or an angel.

That's what I mean by prayer unanswered. Not that I asked god for material goods and didn't get them. We both know that 'ask and you shall receive' prosperity gospel is bunk. I am talking about getting a response. Getting an answer to the "are you there, God?"
Trickster
 

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby jimwalton » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:42 pm

> When I talk to friends I get responses. When I talk to God I do not.

Yeah, God doesn't talk to me during prayer, either. Prayer is when I talk to Him. I wouldn't consider that God has ever spoken to me during a prayer.

> When you talk to people you get feedback. ... God doesn't do that.

Right. The Bible is where I get feedback from God. But it's certainly not like a relationship with a person that you can see and discuss things with. It's a relationship between a human and God, so I don't really expect to get that kind of feedback, or to hear a voice, or anything like that.

> Does that mean you get no responses from prayer either?

No, it just means that I don't get revelations. I feel like there have been times when God has answered my prayers, and plenty of times when he hasn't. My relationship with Him isn't based in what He does for me or how many things on my prayer list He gives me, but in who He is and who I am.

> Getting an answer to the "are you there, God?"

Sometimes I get an answer to this and sometimes I don't.

Maybe I can explain it this way. Sorry it's so long.

I'll start with the book of Job. It deals with the dicey question of "Can righteous people expect to be blessed at a higher rate than average? Can we rightfully expect that God will actively and obviously bless the righteous and harass the wicked?" The answer of the book is a resounding NO. Practically speaking, if God were to bless the righteous at a higher rate, the first effect we would expect to see is people acting righteously just to get the prize, which, of course, wouldn’t be acting righteously. It would only be a show to force the hand of God. Secondly, the motives of any and every "righteous" person will come under question, because the idea of “blessing” will even subconsciously be lurking. Ultimately, such a policy will devastate any notion of righteousness on the earth.

But what if the righteous fare worse than the average? That scrapes against all sense of justice. What kind of God punishes his own people by deliberately making things worse for them. Ultimately, such a policy will frustrate any motivation toward righteousness.

Is there a 3rd choice, where it all seems haphazard, non-sensical, unpredictable, and sometimes just downright irrational? Our choices are actually narrow: God be accused of ruining righteousness because he blesses people, God be accused of unjust cruelty because he doesn't bless people, or God be accused of not even being there in any detectable way. Hm. Sounds like a Catch-23, -24, and -25.

Maybe there's another choice. Maybe it's really hard to tell where the blessings of God are and where they aren’t, but people with eyes to see, who learn to recognize the hand of God, see them in enough quantity to bring a smile to their face and a word of praise to their lips. As far as others can tell, it's just the law of averages. It’s not unlike a wife who learns her husband's mannerisms so well that she can see the signs of his love that others easily miss.

Let's move on to the second angle. Maybe prayer is like the moral of Job. "Can I rightfully expect that God will actively and obviously answer my prayers at a rate greater than average?" It's an intriguing proposition. The answer should be "Of course." Practically speaking, if God were to answer the prayers of his people at a higher rate than average, I would form certain (no doubt self-oriented and self-centered) expectations about how I can, more often than not, get what I want. It's an insidious attitude, but impossible to avoid. Yes, look at me—I can turn the hand of God. The motives of every pray-er would come under question, because the idea of "control" will even subconsciously be lurking. Ultimately, the such a policy will devastate the purity of the human heart. Prayer was not given to people to make them master over God.

But what if my prayers are the kiss of death? If I pray for it, I can almost guarantee you that it won't happen. What kind of tragic relationship with God is THAT?

Is there a 3rd choice, where where it all seems haphazard, non-sensical, unpredictable, and sometimes just downright irrational? Our choices are actually narrow: God will be accused of ruining godly hearts because he has an OBLIGATION to answer prayers for them at a higher rate, and we all know about the corrupting leverage of power; God will be accused of cruelty as he deliberately ignores the cries of his people when he has asked them to pray to him, or God will be accused of cavalier apathy because he’s not responsive in any detectable way. Hm.

Maybe there’s another choice. Let’s talk about the reality of prayer. I talk to God, most of the time, not to get stuff out of him, but because I want to talk to him. I love him, and I want a relationship with him. So I talk. Just as I talk to my spouse, I am invited to talk to God about anything. It’s my relationship, not a wish list. He’s not Santa Claus, but my God.

I have learned (at least) three things from the Bible about prayer that I wish to bring out here. First, almost all of what God promises to do for me in Scripture is internal, not circumstantial. If I follow the Bible, if I'm going to ask anything from God in prayer, it's 90% of the time going to pertain to inner qualities: patience, strength, clarity of thought, the power of the Spirit, and the like. This is what the Bible instructs me to ask for. Second, almost all of what God does circumstantially is through other people. If God is going to answer my prayers about something in my circumstances, it will likely happen through rather normal means: the actions or words of a person, something I read, a thought in my head. But how am I supposed to tell what is normal occurrence and what is God’s hand? A Secret Service agent is trained to look for certain things, and when in a crowd, he knows what to look for and how to recognize it. His eyes are different than mine. So also an accountant poring over ledgers, a hunter in the wild, a detective on the scene, a psychologist in a session, or a teacher assessing her pupils. Our training legitimately affects what we see, how we interpret it, and our attitude about it. So also a Christian. Through reading the Bible, and growing in our Christian walk, we are trained to see the hand of God; we understand how he works, what his activity looks like, and how to recognize it. Others will just see normal things, no different than if I were to look over ledger books or go hunting. I wo'’t see squat. The trained eye will see another world.

Third, answers are often not what I had in mind. In the Bible people prayed for stuff, and as you analyze the story and its causes and effects, you see that they got what they prayed for, but not at all what they prayed for. It’s like the poem:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise...
I asked for power, that I might have praise from men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things...
I got nothing I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.

For instance, in the OT, the Assyrian army was threatening Jerusalem. They had already crushed and burned the cities of Judah; now the capital was in the crosshairs. The king and the prophet prayed for Jerusalem to be spared. Over the course of the next period of time, a rat infestation annihilated the Assyrian camp with disease, and they had to withdraw. Well, that’s not quite what the king probably had in mind, but it was an answer to the prayer. Then it tells us that the Assyrian emperor was murdered by his own sons. That was 20 years later, but still considered an answer to the same prayer. Weird, huh? But that's what I’m talking about. Once you understand how God works, you see things that others think "just happened."

So what is prayer? Seeking the pleasure of God's company. I talk to him because I love him. If it's all gimme-gimme-gimme—well, who wants a friend like that? He's not the fairy God-Father. We shut out the noise of the earth to commune with the song of heaven. And life goes on with its blessings and tragedies. My circumstantial life is no different than anyone else's, but my inner life is a treasure trove of immense difference. I have learned to see the hand of God around me, and it often surprises me in all its forms. God is all around me, actively at work. Do I get what I pray for? Only like the poem. Not what I ask for, but answers none the less. God is taking care of me. Sure, I get stones some days and fish others; some days I’m Job, some I’m in mountain mode. I never hear a voice, and I’ve learned not to trust the thoughts that come to me in prayer. Some are trustworthy, and some aren’t. They need to be assessed, because my mind is an unreliable source. I talk to God in prayer; he talks to me through his Word.

Hurling hope and faith into the darkness? No, just a sometimes peaceful and sometimes agitated heart taking time to talk it over with the Lord. Sometimes I try to picture him when I talk. Not the old guy with the geezer beard, but the fathomless I AM beyond space and time. My mind gets lost in the immensity and grandeur, but it helps orient me to whom I’m really speaking. I talk in real words, not grandiose poetic ones.

Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is anything but a smooth road. But I’m learning. Just like I'm learning how to be a good husband. One of these days, I'll catch on a little better. Meanwhile I show my love in every way I can. Good communication is an important part of that picture.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5132
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby Trickster » Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:24 pm

> I'll start with the book of Job. It deals with the dicey question of "Can righteous people expect to be blessed at a higher rate than average? Can we rightfully expect that God will actively and obviously bless the righteous and harass the wicked?" The answer of the book is a resounding NO. Practically speaking, if God were to bless the righteous at a higher rate, the first effect we would expect to see is people acting righteously just to get the prize, which, of course, wouldn’t be acting righteously. It would only be a show to force the hand of God. Secondly, the motives of any and every "righteous" person will come under question, because the idea of “blessing” will even subconsciously be lurking. Ultimately, such a policy will devastate any notion of righteousness on the earth.

Then why have heavenly rewards? Wouldn't that destroy righteousness? Now instead of rewarding practicality we only reward a combination of practicality and gullibility or reward good deeds regardless of belief.

But if belief is part of righteousness, then how does proof deny goodness? Wouldn't blessing people who behave the way God wants them to provide positive feedback and encourage us to be good with God?

I don't understand the negatives of providing proof of existence. To you the book is proof. So as far as you understand he has proven he exists by inspiring people to write a book about him. So your faith is based on proof, from your point of view.

In that case do you believe the righteous are reward and the wicked punished in the hereafter? Because if you do then there is no logical difference in God providing you proof through the book and providing me proof through statistically significant benefits of one belief over another.
Trickster
 

Re: Paul is wrong about Abraham's faith

Postby jimwalton » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:35 pm

> Then why have heavenly rewards? Wouldn't that destroy righteousness?

It doesn't destroy righteousness at all. Heaven has nothing to do with being good. The Bible doesn't teach that good people go to heaven and that bad people don't. It teaches instead that people who have the nature of Jesus go to heaven, and people who choose to retain their sin nature don't. So heavenly rewards doesn't destroy righteousness.

In my opinion, heavenly rewards are a non-issue. I'm interested in the relationship with God and in being in his presence. Rewards are nothing. If he has any rewards for me, I'll just give them back to Him anyway, since they are only because of Him.

> Now instead of rewarding practicality we only reward a combination of practicality and gullibility or reward good deeds regardless of belief.

There's hardly anything true about this statement. It's hard to know where to begin. God doesn't reward practicality. Heaven isn't a reward for practicality. Neither Christianity nor heaven have anything to do with gullibility. I'm just at a loss for how to respond to a statement like this. I'm guessing there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding embedded in it.

> But if belief is part of righteousness, then how does proof deny goodness?

You lost me here. Why do you say belief is part of righteousness, and how does proof deny goodness? I don't understand.

> Wouldn't blessing people who behave the way God wants them to provide positive feedback and encourage us to be good with God?

Yes, it might, but it might also, as I said, motivate people to be good for the wrong reasons and to attain the wrong goals. It's ultimately self-defeating.

> I don't understand the negatives of providing proof of existence.

Hmm. Not sure what you mean here. I've been saying that faith is based in evidence and comes from evidence. I believe because of the evidence I have. If you're talking about the existence of God, there are no negatives to providing proof of existence. Evidence is a good thing, and expected.

> So as far as you understand he has proven he exists by inspiring people to write a book about him.

No, this isn't correct either. God has proven he exists by the logical arguments for the existence of God, by what I know about science, and by my experience and the similar experiences of billions of others.

> In that case do you believe the righteous are reward and the wicked punished in the hereafter?

I believe that the people who have the nature of Jesus are rewarded and the people who retain the nature of sin are punished in the afterlife.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:35 pm.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5132
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Previous

Return to Faith and Knowledge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


cron