Friday, March 31, 2006

S.O.D.O.M. - III

Police take homeless woman's newborn child away from her. Here.

It never ceases to amaze me how fucking oppressive and evil the governmental authorities have become. To think they can kidnap a woman's child because she is homeless is not just a social injustice, it is a moral outrage, a violation of the inalienable rights given to men by God, and a descrecration of the Constitution.

In the end, she walks away. But what else is she going to do when she has nothing--no power at all to stand up against a tyranical government that does as it wishes? Who will stand up for the powerless? Who will fight to protect the weak from their oppressors? Who will defend the rights of the poor and helpless?

Let it be those who call themselves by the name of Christ.

The Nature of Scripture 4

(continued from The Nature of Scripture 3)

In terms of the historical view of scripture, the world-view and story will always be the same despite the details. So story and world-view would fall closest to the idea of “inerrancy” since they must transcend culture and details and be true in their own right. The details would then serve to inform us that it is so (or not). And it would be completely possible for details to come along and replace, nullify, fulfill, subvert, or otherwise reorganize that story and world-view in the world in ways that conflict, contradict, or become errors when set into the linear reliance of the traditional model.

According to the historical model, the vice of the other is that in its insistence on preserving truth and keeping relativism at bay, it actually requires scripture to lose the truth of the string which formed it and then relies on individuals to relativistically reconstruct that missing string—to pick and chose how the details fit together to make sense as decided by their own biases, culture, viewpoints, and perspectives (which, undoubtedly, will be nothing like the string they were meant to have when they first read it).

Since this model rests on a pre-existing string and that string stretches across the details and is available for all to examine on a more obvious base, it seems less likely that picking and choosing or losing truth will occur. Finding the over-arching story and world-view should theoretically be much easier and have less variants in interpretation than trying to make individual details fit together. Understand the string (world-view and story) and all the details will fall in place and begin to make sense in all their difference capacities and contexts. Understand all the details and there may be no hope of ever finding the string without creating one arbitrarily, most likely very different from the original, and running into constant conflict and problems no only with the details, but with the great variety of ways other people put them together—a major problem in much of Protestantism today.

This view of scripture would lower the activity of “doctrine forming” from its high pedestal and raise up story and world-view to define and determine, to understand and to act. Christianity would become less about facts you believe and more about a story you are living and enacting (not that the facts one believes should disappear—I am not saying that). Instead of falling into legalism or relativism, this model would embrace freedom and variety while moving forward in a specific direction that is vitally and definitively important to Christian faith and life. The Bible would become not some book with a bunch of rules and intellectual truths, but a way of understanding what it means to be Christian in former days and then what it means to carry on that Christianity today. Just as the scriptures, which contain the word of God, went out into the world, so our lives would become like the scriptures, a complete package showing a story and world-view based on the same which formed scripture, but ours would make better sense in our culture and time in the details of our lives. This wouldn't be “biblical Christianity” in the sense that is most often referred to (i.e., believing all these lists of correct beliefs about morals and doctrine and theology), this would be Christianity as a kind of bible itself, as a carrier of the word of God in its own being that is a force to be reckoned with in the lives of men.

(End of parts 1, 2, and 3)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Nature of Scripture 3

(continued from The Nature of Scripture 2)

The traditional view of scripture treats the biblical texts like a cause, the effect of which (through connecting individual details together) is the formation of a theology, moral, ethic, universal principle, truth system, etc. The obvious benefit is that it always has something to say—relevance—to any culture, time, or context. The question is whether what it has so say from this model is in any sense true.

A better view would treat scripture as an end product or effect. Scripture writers took for granted that a fundamental string already existed and wrote their texts under the assumption that because their readers already had the string, they only had to describe details accordingly. In this model, the pre-existing string is narrative/story and world-view. Details (like verses, words, and grammatical constructions) are branches that veer off and away from the string in order to bring that world-view and story into context with a multifaceted and changing world. This is shown in the following graphical representation:

This is what I call the historical view of scripture. The details only have meaning in association with the string from which they originate and how they make that world-view and story make sense in the world outside the string into which they reach. Therefore, the details can sometimes be drastically different or even conflicting and contradictory if compared to each other, since their origin may occur in different places on the string and reach out into different contexts in the world. Instead of judging the truth of a matter by making sure individual details connect, this model allows for individual details to say different things at different times for different purposes according to where on the story and world-view those details emerge without losing truth, without resorting to relativism, and without destroying the entire system.

It is therefore the world-view and narrative that is the focus and is most important in scripture--not the individual details and grammatical pieces. The details come from the string, not the string from the details. Although the details change based on the string and based on the world into which they reach, the string remains the same despite the details or the world outside it.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Nature of Scripture 2

(continued from The Nature of Scripture 1)

This model for the nature of scripture leads further into two pressures for its acceptance: the fear of relativism and the loss of truth. If you reject one of the details, then what is to stop you from arbitrarily picking and choosing which details suit the string you want to create, which, inevitably, will not be anything like the string you were intended to know by putting all the details together “correctly”? (Of course, this fails for numerous reasons—not the least being what exactly “correctly” means—but we'll hold off on that until the next model.) The point is that if you ignore one detail that conflicts with others, then you must be doing so in order to avoid the reality of that detail for the purposes of propping up a false string.

The model furthers this in that it treats theology like a house of cards. Remove one detail and the whole thing falls down. So you have an insistence on every single detail being required—i.e. inerrancy. If any part is not true, the whole is false, therefore every part must be true. Saying the Bible is errant in any place will destroy the entire foundation for a Christian's understanding of truth as presupposed by the traditional model. This is why so many Christians believe (rightly according to this model) that unless you believe scripture is inerrant, you have no basis for knowing truth and cannot be a Christian. And, like we said, the fear of relativism—of picking and choosing what one wants to believe—is another motivating factor to sustain the model.

But what if the nature of scripture and how we approach it was different? What if there was another model? What would it look like? How would it change the situation? I will explore this in the next post.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Nature of Scripture 1

Most Evangelicals or Protestants look at scripture as a mass of small, disconnected details that must be arranged and placed together into a straight line so that it forms a working and coherent system. Thus, a detail can have dramatic consequences on the whole because importance is placed on each detail in order to align them together into a complete line or unified string. See the following graphical representation:

This is where grammatical meanings of words and phrases become of vital importance. Great time is spent dissecting bits of script to come to a pure understanding of the construction since what is most important are the individual pieces or details (which also leads to a focus on literal meaning and plain sense interpretation).

Harmonization, whereby less clear and seemingly conflicting texts are understood in light of ones that are supposedly clear as day, is also a key player in approaching scripture in this model. Why? Because the unified whole depends on each detail fitting together. If a detail doesn't fit, then this calls into question the overall structure and meaning—i.e. an individual detail can destroy the whole string like one weak link in a chain.

Thus, for instance, it becomes a major issue whether or not there is an article in John 1:1 because something as seemingly insignificant as a few letters can destroy an entire theology since details must support one another in order to form a complete string. This is why proof-texting--reference to a single or dozen individual, de-contexualized verses—is so important. Back it up with scripture, the Evangelical or Protestant will say, by which they mean, following this model, show me how all these details make sense together. And they will probably point to one or a dozen different details that conflict with your theological string and therefore can have tyrannical vetoing power over the whole.

(to be continued)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Christianity is Built On...

the blood of martyrs, beginning with the first one to have his blood shed—Christ.

Abdul is being released from the Afghan courts, but he will likely still be killed by the Muslims in his country.
“Cut off his head! We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so that there is nothing left in his flesh”
--Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Msoque (here)
“We must set an example. ... He must be hanged.”
--Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque (here)
But Abdul welcomes death for Christ's sake and will be a witness in his country in the same way that Christians for centuries have been a witness to theirs. Take up your cross and follow Yeshua, Abdul. Give your life as a ransom for others. Maybe some day I will stand in your place and gladly give my flesh to be destroyed to proclaim the name of my savior.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Anniversary of the Book of Mormon

The BoM was published on this date 176 years ago.

I asked the same thing of Christianity before I came to faith and I will ask the same of Mormonism: show me the evidence and I'll believe. Show me the source documents that the BoM came from and I will investigate them and come to a fair, honest, and reasonable conclusion.
"...he [Lehi] was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed-that these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time."
1 Nephi 17b-19b
Let me see these plates of brass. Surely they haven't perished; surely they have gone to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of Lehi's seed, unless the book is a lie. So show me the brass plates. That's all I ask.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

S.O.D.O.M. - II

In case you haven't been following the case of the man who is on the verge of being sentenced with execution because he left Islam (see The Peace and Mercy of Islam), due to international pressures, there has been an attempt to excuse this crime punishable by death through a plea of insanity. Because he refuses to re-convert to Islam as his government requires, the tyrant labels him insane and institutionalizes him. Instead of being brutally killed by the recorded instruction of a court of law in the public eye, the dissident dies slowly and painfully in the dark where nobody can hear his cries or see his injustice and challenge it.

We here in the nation of the Burning Towers can learn something from Afghanistan. The illegal and unconstitutional wire-tapping done under the umbrella of national security--or the Patriot Act itself--are ways of side-stepping the processes that exist and were put in place to protect us from a tyrannical government like Afghanistan's. And we have allowed it because of a label: terrorism.

Christians, listen up, because this is going to hit you faster than others and you may find yourself standing in Abdul's place. If you can be labeled or possibly linked to a label of some type like terrorism—maybe racism—your rights and liberties can be bypassed and unlawful control or injustice perpetrated on you in this very country. And it will be accomplished by leaders who you elected.
“Even in the United States the standards for civil commitment are lower than those for criminal imprisonment; the Supreme Court found that the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” was not necessary for civil commitment in Addington v. Texas.”
--from "Human Rights Abuses in Mental Institutions Common Worldwide, Perlin Says”

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Peace and Mercy of Islam

A man named Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan who is an “apostate of Islam” because he stopped being a Muslim many years ago when he converted to Christianity, is on trial for his life.
"Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told him if he regrets what he did [renounces Christianity and accepts Islam under violent coercion], then we will forgive him [he may only be tortured, humiliated, imprisoned for life, or mutilated]."
--Ansarullah Mawlafizada, taken from here
The majority of Muslims in Afghanistan agree--since he has become a Christian (meaning since he has rejected Islam), he must be beheaded...or executed in whatever inhuman, barbaric means that will take.

This is the mercy and peace of the Islamic God as evidenced by an entire country that is calling for his blood in the name of Muhammad and with their own scriptures and state constitution founded on those scriptures backing them up.

Some report that this situation is an example of religious intolerance and anti-Christian hatred and bigotry. They are right. But it is more so--and critically more so--a situation of Hitlerian oppression, injustice, and fascism. It is a situation in which if you don't believe what the tyrant tells you and do what he commands, your life is forfeit.

The blatant hypocrisy, barbarity, and inhumanity of Islam is made evident in the fact that when someone set a Qur'an on a toilet and when pictures of Muhammad were published in a foreign newspaper, the Islamic world rioted for weeks... but when a human being refuses to believe what Muslims tell him to believe and refuses to worship a god that Muslims tell him to worship, not only do they call for his execution, they also lambaste the world (that they had previously rioted against) for “interfering with their own affairs”.

More. More.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Gospel Account

Below is most of the translation of a Greek papyrus recording an event in the life of Yeshua which does not appear in any Gospel or Church Father. It seems to be genuine and authentic, not only in descriptions of the Temple and its Priesthood, but in the character of Yeshua.

"Taking them along, he went into the place of purification itself and wandered around in the temple. Then a certain high priest of the Pharisees named Levi came toward them and said to the savior, "Who permitted you to wander in this place of purification and to see these holy vessels, even though you have not bathed and the feet of your disciples have not been washed? And now that you have defiled it, you walk around in this pure area of the temple where only a person who has bathed and changed his clothes can walk, and even such a person does not dare to look upon these holy vessels."

Standing nearby with his disciples, the savior replied, "Since you are here in the temple too, are you clean?"

The Pharisee said to him, "I am clean. For I bathed in the pool of David. I went down into the pool by one set of stairs and came back out by another. Then I put on white clothes and they were clean. And then I came and looked at these holy vessels."

Replying to him, the savior said, "Woe to blind people who do not see! You have washed in the gushing waters that dogs and pigs are thrown into day and night. And when you washed yourself, you scrubbed the outer layer of skin, the layer of skin that prostitutes and flute-girls anoint and wash and scrub when they put on make up to become the desire of the men. But inside they are filled with scorpions and all unrighteousness. But my disciples and I, whom you say have not washed, we have washed in waters of eternal life that come from the God of heaven."

--translation of Oxyrhynchus 840 by Andrew Bernhard
Go here for more information.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Humanism, All Things Are Arbitrary

"For a humanist, the final thing which exists—that is, the impersonal universe—is neutral and silent about right and wrong, cruelty and non-cruelty. Humanism has no way to provide absolutes. Thus, as a consistent result of humanism’s position, humanism in private morals and political life is left with that which is arbitrary."
--Francis Schaefer, How Should We Then Live?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Defiled, Law-Breaking Passover (That Pleased God)

An incredible event occurs in the Chronicler's history of Israel in which the people return to Yahweh with their whole hearts after having turned away from him for so long and treated him with contempt. They throw down the altars and cleanse their city of idolatry and evil. In order to show that they have come back to their god, the people determine to re-instigate the ceremony of Passover commanded in Torah, which had not been kept in a long time. Unfortunately, they are unable to keep it on the day (or its alternate) commanded by Law. Additionally, they are forced to break other portions of the Law related to cleanliness and purification. Great multitudes--including four of the twelve tribes--take the Passover defiled in disobedience to the direct commandments of God.

Despite doing the rituals of Law defiled and unclean and on a day forbidden to its practice, because of her heart, Yahweh forgives Israel, returns to her, and blesses her. Instead of celebrating for one week, the people extend Passover for two and it becomes one of the greatest Passovers in Israel's history.
"Because many in the assembly had not consecrated themselves, the Levites slaughtered the Passover lambs of all who were ceremonially unclean and could not consecrate their sacrifice to the Lord. The majority of many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun were ceremonially unclean, yet they ate the Passover in violation of what is prescribed in the law. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: May the Lord, who is good, forgive everyone who has determined to follow God, the Lord God of his ancestors, even if he is not ceremonially clean according to the standards of the temple. The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people....The entire assembly then decided to celebrate for seven more days; so they joyfully celebrated for seven more days....There was a great celebration in Jerusalem, unlike anything that had occurred in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon son of David of Israel. The priests and Levites got up and pronounced blessings on the people. The Lord responded favorably to them as their prayers reached his holy dwelling place in heaven."
--2 Chronicles 30:17-20, 23, 26-27, NET

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Stage of Truth

I place reason before scripture because all men have reason, not all men have scripture. This doesn't mean that reason is infallible, but that the infallible must be received by the fallible-nothing comes to man except it passes through his reason. Also, reason is the seat of philosophy. One's philosophy will always be the determining factor, is the hardest thing to change, but should reflect and be directed by those sources immediately following-general and special revelation.

The two revelations stand equal to each other on the stage because they must compliment one another. Just as Yeshua did not proclaim the kingdom of Yahweh without performing healings and other mighty deeds in the physical world or just as we have history and creation to look at for verification of those things Yahweh might have said, so there cannot be one without the other.

Tradition stands close behind because of community. The Spirit works primarily in community, not individuals. Community is part of general and specific revelation. If tradition (whether community or otherwise) contradicts or opposes general and specific revelation, revelation has precedence. This is probably where the rubber meets the road most often in life.

Experience and emotion are at the back, emotion being last of all. This isn't to say they have no value, but those at the front of the Stage should eclipse their value, not be eclipsed by them.

S.O.D.O.M. - I

The S.O.D.O.M. files (short for Statehood Oppressive, Dying Of Madness) are dedicated to exposing elements of the U.S. government, politics, law, and so forth that are destroying our nation and people. It is, in other words, something of a record of the fall of the United States as it descends into a pit of economic futility, social oppression, moral outrage, injustice, legislative absurdity, and where liberty and right is violated and destroyed. Welcome to the nation of the Burning Towers.

Today's feature comes from the author of "Jurassic Park", Michael Chrichton, and discusses one aspect of the absurdity that our government is enforcing on us in terms of "intellectual property".

This Essay Breaks the Law
Published: March 19, 2006

• The Earth revolves around the Sun.
• The speed of light is a constant.
• Apples fall to earth because of gravity.
• Elevated blood sugar is linked to diabetes.
• Elevated uric acid is linked to gout.
• Elevated homocysteine is linked to heart disease.
• Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins.

ACTUALLY, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees...
Read more.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Philo's Logos, the Second God

"No mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the Second Deity, who is the Word of the Supreme Being..."
--Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis 2:62
Philo's Greek is clear: The Logos (The Word) is a second god (Deuteros Theos), not the same being as God the Father, although both are identified as Yahweh. One (the Word) is inferior to the other (the Father):
"But he who is superior to the Word holds his rank..."
--Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis 2:62
In context, Philo says these two things concerning the beginning of creation.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
--John 1:1, ASV
Our 1st Century Hellenistic-Jewish friend, Philo, would agree. He would say Yahweh is numerically two gods, the second god (the Word) was with God in the beginning, and both are God.

Abomination of Desolation

"His forces will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary, stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."
--Daniel 11:31, NET
Most Christians are familiar with this Danielic term. They may not know, however, that many Jews in the century before Yeshua understood it to be speaking of Antiochus IV Epiphanes' desecration of the Temple by building therein an altar to Zeus and sacrificing a pig (unclean animal) upon it.
"Now the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred forty and fifth year, they set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar, and builded idol altars throughout the cities of Juda on every side."
--1 Maccabees 1:54, KJV

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Origins of a Name

The title of this blogspot, Deus Creator Omnium, comes from a Latin hymn of the church father Ambrose of Milan, teacher of St. Augustine in the 4th Century (and partly responsible for his conversion to Christianity).

"God, Creator of earth and sky,
Ruling the firmament on high,
Clothing the day with robes of light,
Blessing with gracious sleep the night."
--stanza 1 from The English Hymnal by Charles Bigg
For more on Ambrose see the following Wiki page.

Raison d'etre

Deus Creator Omnium is a temporary home until completion of my personal web space, Echo of Eden.

It's primary objective is to document and wrestle with ideas, information, or arguments related to Biblical studies and Theology and has been tailored to that end. It will also serve as a forum for other subjects touching on the multifaceted spectrum of human existence.

Comments, critiques, and complaints are welcome.