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Source: (consider it) Thread: Did Moses exist and does it matter?
chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The liberal thought on this subject is surprisingly binary, to judge from this thread. We either read the Bible for encouragement, or we read for some glimmers of fact, as seen through a glass darkly. But never the twain shall meet!

A complete strawman - equally I could say that the conservative position in this thread is that unless you read for perfect propositional truth you can't possibly get any encouragement out of the Bible.
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SvitlanaV2
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chris stiles

Well, to me, the more liberal emphasis so far has been on how the Bible provides encouragement regardless of any factual elements. The implication is that it's improper to want to have something of both. But I fully accept that others may have read the thread differently.

Perhaps there are indeed evangelicals who believe that without a fully factual approach there's no encouragement to be had in the Bible.

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Gwai
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SvitlanaV2, I promise you that I have had the misfortune to meet many. Actually, many of the evangelicals on the ship have been a breath of sanity to me as they make me realize there are not only a few reasonable evangelicals whose beliefs are not based on exclusion and anti-intellectualism, and insularity. In fact there are many who call themselves and think through their beliefs etc.
All the same there will always be the classic divides. Liberals are accused of not taking the bible seriously. Evangelicals are accused of making everything black and white.

By the way, I would say that the bible provides Truth regardless of whether it provides accurate history. It may not suit you, and clearly you do not believe it, but when people like me say that Moses is a reality whether or not he's historical, we do believe we are taking Moses seriously and faithfully.

--------------------
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

Perhaps there are indeed evangelicals who believe that without a fully factual approach there's no encouragement to be had in the Bible.

Well, I'm actually from the conservative evangelical world, and yes there are loads of these sorts of people.
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SvitlanaV2
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Gwai

Thanks for that. As someone who's worshipped with a moderately liberal (or liberal evangelical) denomination for most of my life I'd never dream of saying that liberals don't take the Bible seriously. We all have our own journey to take, as it should be.

I just wish that our clergy would be braver and more open about these things. I might be convinced if I saw that the mythologising path was really making a difference in the pews, but it never gets an honest airing. Maybe I'm just haunting the wrong pews, but there's a split in church life that makes me uneasy. The laity/clergy divide is part of it, but maybe it's more broadly a sociological thing. Anyway, I suppose we all do the best we can in the search for Truth.

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Gwai
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Agreed that many (most, I suspect) are too afraid of their own beliefs to investigate them. Sigh.

--------------------
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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Gamaliel
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I think the clergy/laity divide can be part of the issue but I think it runs deeper than that.

It's a tricky one, because the idea of an interventionist God who is going to help you sort out your problems certainly has legs in the right contexts - even if can be seen simply as a placebo effect. I actually think it's a lot more than that ...

I think there can be binary approaches on both sides of the argument. I'm not sure I'm picking up an overly binary approach from the liberals here ... Hatless, for instance, entertains the possibility that there was an Exodus of sorts ...

It strikes me that on the other side of the coin there isn't even an acknowledgement that there might be mythological elements in the story at all. It has to be propositionally true at all points otherwise it isn't worth bothering with.

Now that's what I call a binary approach.

Like Chris Stiles, I'm rather inclined to cut the clergy a bit more slack on this one. It's a tricky position to be in. That said, I wish some of them would trust the capacity of their own congregations though and tell it like it is ... putting forth both the pros and cons and the arguments from both sides.

It strikes me that a lot of clergy - of all denominations - spend years acquiring knowledge at seminary which they never actually use when it comes to dealing with their congregations week by week ... they're too frightened of scaring the horses. It's a lot easier to present a join-the-dots, Janet-and-John approach.

That said, I know clergy in both liberal and evangelical settings who apply themselves diligently to preaching intelligently and so on. I'm sure many of the clergy and ministers and what-not here aboard Ship do.

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Ad Orientem
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I for one think that it's important that Moses existed. Let's say Moses is "A" and that Christ is "B". Not only would I consider A to be a figure of B but I believe that God actually did B because he actually did A. We see this way of thinking throughout the scriptures. In the Old Testament, for instance, God constantly reminds the unfaithful Israelites "Did I not take you from the land of Egypt etc." I would argue the same for the flood, creation and so on, that because God actually did these things we should believe in the resurrection too.
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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, to me, the more liberal emphasis so far has been on how the Bible provides encouragement regardless of any factual elements. The implication is that it's improper to want to have something of both. But I fully accept that others may have read the thread differently.

Not so much improper as missing the point. If you get wound up about whether or not an 800 pound gorilla really did walk into a bar and get hung up on whether or not it could really order a beer, you're missing the point of the story. Rather like getting hung up about whether or not "a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho".

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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SvitlanaV2
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Jesus didn't claim that the Good Samaritan was a real person, did he? But I think the main difference is that the Exodus story very much involves God in the action. We can be inspired to do great things by the Samaritan, but Exodus tells us something about God as well as people. Whether or not God was involved seems relevant to the story, and relevant to what we can expect of God today.

There are no doubt personal as well as cultural reasons why the mythologising process is a challenge to me. To me, theology must be practical, grounded in experience, otherwise I don't find it very interesting. I'd rather read sociology, which at least takes ordinary people's faith seriously rather than as an anthropological appendage to the real stuff that happens in theological colleges and vicarage studies.

What I need to see is how the mythologising process might work on the ground for the common good, ideally with priest and people striving together to reach an understanding. If - in the absence of scientific proof either way - all it does is make it harder to have faith (as hatless and I agreed earlier), then I'm not sure how it helps. But I do accept that it clearly does help some people to pursue their faith. I absolutely think we need more churches where people are able to work these things out in community rather than on their own.

Anyway, I've definitely begun to repeat myself, so I'll let you all get back to Moses.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Jesus didn't claim that the Good Samaritan was a real person, did he?

No. Once again, if you're trying to figure out whether the story "really happened", you're missing the point.

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
But I think the main difference is that the Exodus story very much involves God in the action. We can be inspired to do great things by the Samaritan, but Exodus tells us something about God as well as people.

Some would say that the tale of the good Samaritan tells us something about God too. Origen seems to have been of that opinion, for example.

Still, if it didn't really happen does that mean that it has nothing to tell us about people or God?

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

What I need to see is how the mythologising process might work on the ground for the common good, ideally with priest and people striving together to reach an understanding.

Because stories touch us at a deeper level than the intellectual. This is why films are so popular and powerful imo.

When those stories are about God, they touch us in an emotional and spiritual way which can deeply affect the way we see him and other people - and this will, in turn, affect the way we behave towards them both.

When those stories are true they will do this. (True in the deepest sense - teaching us about the character of God. Not true in the 'this happened word for word' sense.)

[ 11. September 2013, 06:26: Message edited by: Boogie ]

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Aaaah, but how do you know it did?

My view wasn't under question: someone else's was.

For the record, my view is one of faith and trust. Boogie's - in using "know" - suggests concrete evidence, which I'm asking for.

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Gamaliel
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Which is rather the point I was trying to make, ExclamationMark.

Whatever view we take on this it boils down to a 'faith-position'. Whether yours, mine, Boogie's, anyone else's.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

Some would say that the tale of the good Samaritan tells us something about God too. Origen seems to have been of that opinion, for example.

Still, if it didn't really happen does that mean that it has nothing to tell us about people or God?

Well, Christians say that the Bible is the Word of God, which means that God is 'involved' in the whole text, in one way or another. But some texts are obviously more explicit about God than others.

The Bible tells us to some extent what God thinks or feels, how God envisions morality and judges human behaviour. However, it also seems inclined to tell us what God does , how he gets involved with human beings. Once we mythologise the whole text, then what God does becomes very unclear. Perhaps God remains an administrator, someone who generates emails, directives, clarifies company policy, so to speak. But he doesn't get his hands dirty - only symbolically. 'We're all in this together' comes to mind!

I think there's a socio-cultural issue here. Christians who lead fairly comfortable lives don't actually need God to do very much, other than to affirm our choices, drop a bit of advice sometimes and help us maintain our way of life. From this perspective, a mythologised, less tangible display of God's presence isn't really a problem.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
T
What I need to see is how the mythologising process might work on the ground for the common good, ideally with priest and people striving together to reach an understanding.

Though again this still seems to an argument from adverse consequences though reversed around somewhat.

quote:

Once we mythologise the whole text, then what God does becomes very unclear.

No one in this thread has claimed the whole text is mythological, not once.

What has happened is that biblical scholarship has forced upon us the conclusion that some parts of scripture were composed in a much more complex manner than was traditionally understood. Ironically the reason we are here is *because* of generations of scholars who took the Bible very seriously and so sought to understand it in depth.

quote:

Perhaps God remains an administrator, someone who generates emails, directives, clarifies company policy, so to speak.

I have seen this same argument deployed by con-evos who were arguing against any form of redaction in text composition. Of course in their particular reading of the Chicago statement there is no particular role for 'inspired editor'.
You see a variant of this in EE's various posts - hence my question about Talmudic/Misnahic information being used by NT authors.

For the record I don't think anyone in this thread is arguing for a deist conception of God (God as administrator).

Ultimately our comfort has to be based in truth for it to be real on anything more than a superficial level. Which is why I want to seek out the truth - no matter how personally unconformable that might be.

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SvitlanaV2
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chris

As I said, I'm not aware of any scholarship that affirms Moses' non-existence. In that gap, I don't see it as a denial of scholarship to proceed on the basis that God had a powerful and miraculous role to play during the time when a Moses figure supposedly lived.

Regarding my back-to-front approach to theology as you see it, my view is that all theology arises out of lived experience and struggle. On other words, it's subjective. Mainstream Western theology likes to see itself as somewhat beyond all that, which is why I'm not as fascinated by it as I might be. Both you and many traditional evangelicals would probably disagree with me on that score. Never mind!

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Which is rather the point I was trying to make, ExclamationMark.

Whatever view we take on this it boils down to a 'faith-position'. Whether yours, mine, Boogie's, anyone else's.

True except that Boogie used "know" not "believe" - which indicates a step or two beyond faith.

Know is a concrete assertion based on evidence: I'm interested in what that evidence might be.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:

As I said, I'm not aware of any scholarship that affirms Moses' non-existence.

I don't think anyone was saying that there was any particularly - Moses in this context was merely a talisman for a wider issue.

Still - if you don't care whether or not Moses existed as long as the stories affected you on a subjective level why do you even care about this thread ? [Biased]

Oh .. and truth is not just a *western* pre-occupation.

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Gamaliel
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SvitlanaV2, whether the stories about Moses are objectively true or 'mythologised' to some extent they certainly arose from struggle and from hands-gettiing-dirty and so on. The whole thing came out of the 'desert experience', if you like - early Semitic tribes with grit and sand between their toes getting to grips with the concept that God is One and not some pantheon of mini-gods which demanded human sacrifice and so forth.

That remains true whether we see it as a progressive development or gradual unveiling in Hebrew thinking or a once-for-all-dropped-down-from-heaven-on-tablets-of-stone thing.

As for who is being binary now, don't you think that you might be heading in a binary direction by insisting that inner-city folks or people enduring hardship, oppression etc etc are the only ones who 'need' the concept of an interventionist God?

I think if I were some aristocrat on some swish estate somewhere and I discovered that my child had leukaemia I might resort to prayer or call upon God in someway - even if my prayers were not subsequently answered.

I can see what you're saying but taken to its logical conclusion it implies that only the poor and the dispossessed have any need of a concept of deity and everyone else can do without it.

Is that what you are saying?

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:

Still - if you don't care whether or not Moses existed as long as the stories affected you on a subjective level why do you even care about this thread ? [Biased]


It's subjectively meaningful to me that Moses (or a Moses figure) existed, because his and his people's experiences with God help to validate my own search for experiences with God.

There's an old song with a chorus that goes: 'It is no secret what God can do/What he's done for others, he'll do for you.' But the mythologising discourse makes it very difficult to know what he's actually done for others. And if I can't have faith in what he's done for others, why should I have faith that he'll do anything in particular for me? Who am I, after all? I don't deserve special treatment.

quote:

Oh .. and truth is not just a *western* pre-occupation.

Truth isn't necessarily understood the same way by everyone, nor arrived at by the same means.
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Gwai
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If the Moses story belongs in the bible, which I think no one here is disputing, then we can still take it as part of a communication from God whether or not Moses was real. In other words, I'd say that either way you can safely take it that what God did for Moses he will do for us, in that sense SvitlanaV2.

--------------------
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
It's subjectively meaningful to me that Moses (or a Moses figure) existed

No, it's subjectively meaningful to you that Moses *objectively* existed. After all, otherwise you could find the same solace in the story of Tobit.

quote:

Truth isn't necessarily understood the same way by everyone, nor arrived at by the same means.

Everyone has various ways in which they understand truth - and they switch between these depending on context. That a certain range of responses are culturally peculiar is a fairly misleading Orientalism.
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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by Gwai:
If the Moses story belongs in the bible, which I think no one here is disputing, then we can still take it as part of a communication from God whether or not Moses was real. In other words, I'd say that either way you can safely take it that what God did for Moses he will do for us, in that sense SvitlanaV2.

But...if God never actually led the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt what's to say that he will actually lead us from the bondage of sin and death? The former is clearly a figure of the latter but if the former is just some myth, that God never actualy did any of those things, then our belief in the resurrection is rather vain too.
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Gwai
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If God led the Israelites out bit by bit instead of in one big swoop, the promise is no less real. Heck, I have no reason to argue that God didn't somehow lead the Israelites out of bondage, but if God hadn't, she could still say just as these people in this myth that is believed were led out of bondage, so will you people who really do exist be led out of bondage.

--------------------
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
It's subjectively meaningful to you that Moses *objectively* existed. After all, otherwise you could find the same solace in the story of Tobit.

In that case, you could say that most (better not say all!) Christians subjectively believe that God objectively exists. We all exist between subjectivity and objectivity on that score. But faith itself is a matter of subjectivity, ISTM.

quote:


Everyone has various ways in which they understand truth - and they switch between these depending on context. That a certain range of responses are culturally peculiar is a fairly misleading Orientalism.

Hmmm. It's a challenging point. On the one hand, cultures are in a constant state of change. On the other, despite globalisation, hybridisation and all the other catch-words, cultures remain distinct from each other. Almost every priest has had exposure to Western theology, because that's presumably what's taught in seminaries across the world. Yet the finished product in terms of ordained clergy and actual congregations isn't quite the same thing everywhere. There are other influences at play.
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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Yet the finished product in terms of ordained clergy and actual congregations isn't quite the same thing everywhere. There are other influences at play.

Yeah .. but an example; I've know a number of really humbly educated ministers who work in deprived areas in India, and even they are quite clear that the truth claims of the resurrection is different truth claims of the Bhagavad Gita.

In fact, far from considering the difference to be a western imposition, they spend years teaching their community the difference between the two.

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SvitlanaV2
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These ministers probably wouldn't be Christians if they felt entirely negative about Christianity (or Anglicanism, Methodism, etc.) being a 'Western imposition'. But the very fact that they have to teach about the Bhagavad Gita suggests that there are other spiritual and probably cultural influences at work in their congregations, and possibly in their own recent heritage.
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EtymologicalEvangelical
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2
Christians who lead fairly comfortable lives don't actually need God to do very much, other than to affirm our choices, drop a bit of advice sometimes and help us maintain our way of life. From this perspective, a mythologised, less tangible display of God's presence isn't really a problem.

In fact, it's a wonderful convenience! A real God who has to intervene in real events is the God on whom the genuinely needy depend. For everyone else, an anaemic 'God' quietly relegated to semi-existence, who is not permitted to tread on the manicured lawns of our semi-detached spiritual lives, who mustn't be allowed to turn up uninvited and embarrass us with his frightfully unreasonable demands and messy miracles, is the God of the mythologisers and literary manipulators. It's so much easier to 'worship' an intellectually satisfying theological idea, than "the consuming fire" who commands us to relinquish control of our lives to Him. And a character in a story is rather less unsettling than the Lord of history to whom we must all give an account of ourselves!

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You can argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome': but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, 'Rice is unwholesome, but I'm not saying this is true'. CS Lewis

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
It's subjectively meaningful to me that Moses (or a Moses figure) existed, because his and his people's experiences with God help to validate my own search for experiences with God.

There's an old song with a chorus that goes: 'It is no secret what God can do/What he's done for others, he'll do for you.' But the mythologising discourse makes it very difficult to know what he's actually done for others. And if I can't have faith in what he's done for others, why should I have faith that he'll do anything in particular for me?

Just out of curiosity, how often have you needed Red Sea-sized bodies of water parted? While I can appreciate this pragmatic "what's in it for me?" sort of theology, is the death of the firstborn of your oppressors really something you encounter on a frequent enough basis to attribute it to divine agency?

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
quote:
Originally posted by Plique-à-jour:
if Jesus was mistaken about a man who lived around 1500 years before He did, we have no intellectually consistent basis for believing that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, performed miracles of a far greater order.

For me that smacks of Monophysitism. Jesus the finite man was restricted to having contemporary bog-standard human knowledge and experience unless things were specifically revealed by the Holy Spirit. He gave up his omniscience as well as his omnipotence. It's even possible he made a mistake when recalling scripture.

In Jesus the Divine and human natures collided. His miracles primarily came out of that divine nature. His knowledge of Moses came out of the mundane experience of humanity. He learnt about Moses the same way as we do, by reading and discussing the scriptures. He wasn't born with some special full-knowledge of the universe including how historically accurate the stories of Moses were.

That you should have had to explicate this goperryrevs, astounds me.

A perfect reconciliation of faith and rationality.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Just out of curiosity, how often have you needed Red Sea-sized bodies of water parted? While I can appreciate this pragmatic "what's in it for me?" sort of theology, is the death of the firstborn of your oppressors really something you encounter on a frequent enough basis to attribute it to divine agency?

The death of the firstborn, along with the plagues, are presumably meant to indicate God's power, and his judge and execute punishment. In this case, I suppose it would be in my own interests not to believe in this sort of thing, because I would obviously prefer not to be judged or punished!! The more liberal perspective has one over on me there, so I put my hands up!

I don't need the Red Sea to part just at the moment. But as Ad Orientem says, many of us hope to meet with God at the resurrection of the dead. Yet if the Red Sea event was symbolic, maybe the references to the resurrection of the dead are also symbolic? Is it harder for God to part the Red Sea than to raise the dead (some of whose atoms could now be scattered across the universe)?

As I've said, I think everyone's faith, or indeed, non-faith, is subjective, so I don't think it's possible to avoid a 'what's in it for me?' approach. Our subjectivity does include more than ourselves, but in a pluralistic environment where we're often not expected to share our religious beliefs even with family members let alone the wider world co-opting other people into our faith hopes and expectations is something of a challenge. We pray for their general well-being, and for God to be with them, however that might manifest itself. And there's the struggle for justice, of course.

[ 11. September 2013, 20:21: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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mousethief

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Fascinating thread. Some thoughts....

quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
If we are all actually just "atheists in denial" and the Christian life is really nothing more than spiritual masturbation, then of course we can live with a Bible that makes truth claims that are actually not true. <snip>

I prefer to take the 'literal' approach.

Golly, I wonder if there are any positions in between those two?

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
So your 'small problem' is only a problem if you insist on the story of Moses, say, as necessarily having to be objectively and historically true in every respect.

This speaks exactly to how modern fundamentalism is in fact thoroughly modernist.

quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
If Moses did not exist, it does not follow that Jesus did not exist.

But if we believe that Moses did not exist, despite the Bible giving the opposite impression, then we could argue the same for Jesus.

You appear to be treating "The Bible" as an undifferentiated lump, rather than a collection of writings by different authors from vastly different places and cultures written in at least three different languages over the course of several hundreds or thousands of years.

quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
Could you please explain why God would refer to an imaginary event as if it were true? And why would God command his people to repent of their evil (which includes "bearing false witness") by means of a lie?

You're arguing in a circle. Part of what is at stake is whether non-literally-true mythos can be considered a "lie" at all. To say it can't be because if it were it would be a lie is not a valid form of argument.

quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The 3 Little Pigs

Now, come on Gamaliel - you've gone too far this time. The 3 little pigs a myth? What would the Orthodox Church say about that?
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Sorry, I'm straying onto Mousethief territory and he does this - and much else besides - far better than I can.

I don't know about that. But I'll give you what I have.

The ancient Fathers are not of one mind about the Three Little Pigs. Chrysostom accepts their tale as gospel (the Grimm one, not the Perrault version), while Basil and Gregory Nanzianzen both believe it is meant to be an allegory, and that the historical underlayment (if any) is not important.

Thus, as no Ecumenical Council has ruled on this issue, and the hymns of the church do not compel us to believe their story is as historical as Heroditus, we must conclude that this is not a dogma or doctrine of the church, but a matter of pious opinion.

quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
It's generally pretty obvious which bits of the Bible are symbolic and are parabolic, and which are not to be read in that way. If we really cannot see the difference, then, frankly, anything goes.

This is the Great Evangelical Lie. It is part and parcel with the absurd idea that scriptures are self-interpreting and that there is a "literal meaning" that is equally accessible to all honest comers, and that Catholics, liberals, and other non-Evangelicals are being bloody-minded in not simply accepting it at face value.

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
My problem is, if God never actually does anything other than put his stamp on a range of edifying fictional stories, then why does God matter?

You are playing the all-or-nothing game here. If Moses is not a historical character (in the plain modern sense of the term), then EVERYTHING in the Bible must be pious fiction as well. Truly this is lazy thinking.

quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, to me, the more liberal emphasis so far has been on how the Bible provides encouragement regardless of any factual elements. The implication is that it's improper to want to have something of both. But I fully accept that others may have read the thread differently.

It seems to me the liberal claim is not that it's improper, but that it doesn't matter. It is the conservative that makes the either-or dichotomy. Either every miracle in the Bible is true, or it's all a pack of lies. Either every character in the bible is historical, or they're all made up out of whole cloth. That is the conservative claim, not the liberal claim.

quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Perhaps there are indeed evangelicals who believe that without a fully factual approach there's no encouragement to be had in the Bible.

Well, I'm actually from the conservative evangelical world, and yes there are loads of these sorts of people.
Ditto and ditto.

quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
[qb]Once we mythologise the whole text, then what God does becomes very unclear.

No one in this thread has claimed the whole text is mythological, not once.
Although the literalists have more than once accused the non-literalists of doing so.

quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
But...if God never actually led the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt what's to say that he will actually lead us from the bondage of sin and death? The former is clearly a figure of the latter but if the former is just some myth, that God never actualy did any of those things, then our belief in the resurrection is rather vain too.

One can as readily argue, if God never really ran out to greet the Prodigal as in our Lord's parable, if it's all just a pious myth with no historical antecedents, who's to say that God will greet us if we come to him in repentance? If that never really happened, than our belief in the forgiveness of God is rather vain.

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Martin60
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I can't believe it. I'm a flamin' LIBERAL! How did this happen?!

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
As for who is being binary now, don't you think that you might be heading in a binary direction by insisting that inner-city folks or people enduring hardship, oppression etc etc are the only ones who 'need' the concept of an interventionist God?

I think if I were some aristocrat on some swish estate somewhere and I discovered that my child had leukaemia I might resort to prayer or call upon God in someway - even if my prayers were not subsequently answered.

I can see what you're saying but taken to its logical conclusion it implies that only the poor and the dispossessed have any need of a concept of deity and everyone else can do without it.

Is that what you are saying?

Well, the liberation theologians say that God has a bias to the poor.... That's a subjective position, though! It's quite true that well-off people face disasters, so 'poverty' in this respect isn't always about money, but may be about need of various kinds. We all have the right to turn to God for his blessings.

quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
You are playing the all-or-nothing game here. If Moses is not a historical character (in the plain modern sense of the term), then EVERYTHING in the Bible must be pious fiction as well. Truly this is lazy thinking

To be fair to me, when I asked chris stiles if Moses had been proven not to have been a real character he said that that wasn't the point, but that
quote:
Moses in this context was merely a talisman for a wider issue.

The point is that the mythologising discourse might be applied to other parts of the Bible, depending on what the scholarship throws up. Regarding certain other parts of the Bible I might be less concerned, depending on the focus of the story. My main issue here is with the implication that God helped the people of Israel symbolically, while we expect him to help us practically, if not in life then in the transition to the afterlife. I'm not hung up on precise historical details, but if God was unwilling or unable to do mighty things at a key point in Jewish history then to me, it throws into doubt what mighty things God would be willing or able to do for us. Maybe my faith is just too weak.

I accept that this thing about what God did and does is an irrelevant concern to many on this thread. To be honest, it's mostly in talking about it here that I realise it's a concern for me!

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
My main issue here is with the implication that God helped the people of Israel symbolically, while we expect him to help us practically, if not in life then in the transition to the afterlife.

I think this misrepresents the argument. It's not that he helped them symbolically. He helped them literally, and that help is symbolically represented in the person of Moses and the tales about him.

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Ad Orientem
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Eh?
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Timothy the Obscure

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Oh, come on AO. Try it this way. It isn't so much that the "liberals" and the "conservatives" have different answers as that they are asking different questions. The "conservatives" (who, as mousethief pointed out, are actually thoroughgoing modernists) are asking "what do these revealed facts prove, deductively, about how we should believe and worship? (and why everyone else should do it the same way we do)." The "liberals" (I'm using the scare quotes because the "liberal" position is, AIUI, a very mainstream Jewish (and, indeed, Christian) approach to hermeneutics that actually predates the "conservative" one by several centuries) ask "How does this story illuminate God's relationship with his people and what does it mean for us today?" The former is a logical-legalistic mode of reasoning, the latter is more akin to literary criticism.

An analogy might be "What does Hamlet tell us about the law of royal succession in Denmark?" vs. "What does Hamlet reveal about emotional tensions within families?"

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When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
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Ad Orientem
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Personally I'm not interested in the liberal v neo-conservative protestant point. My disdain for both is equal. I just don't get the mythologising bit, you know, God literally helped them (what, like lending them a fiver for petrol or something?) and a Moses myth was created around it. Whilst I certainly believe that the same parts of the scripture can be understood in more than way at the same time I'm alarmed at the readiness to disregard the literal approach, and for what? Lack of physical evidence? (Good luck in finding such evidence for the resurrection, by the way). The Fathers must be turning in their graves.
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Svit - the death of the firstborn paints God in a rather better light if it's mythological rather than literal - is it really a good God who thinks that killing thousands of children is a good way to punish the leader of a country?

Though I'm aware that here I'm using argument from adverse consequences [Biased]

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Plique-à-jour
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
quote:
Originally posted by goperryrevs:
quote:
Originally posted by Plique-à-jour:
if Jesus was mistaken about a man who lived around 1500 years before He did, we have no intellectually consistent basis for believing that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, performed miracles of a far greater order.

For me that smacks of Monophysitism. Jesus the finite man was restricted to having contemporary bog-standard human knowledge and experience unless things were specifically revealed by the Holy Spirit. He gave up his omniscience as well as his omnipotence. It's even possible he made a mistake when recalling scripture.

In Jesus the Divine and human natures collided. His miracles primarily came out of that divine nature. His knowledge of Moses came out of the mundane experience of humanity. He learnt about Moses the same way as we do, by reading and discussing the scriptures. He wasn't born with some special full-knowledge of the universe including how historically accurate the stories of Moses were.

That you should have had to explicate this goperryrevs, astounds me.

A perfect reconciliation of faith and rationality.

It wasn't neccesary to 'explicate' it, because goperryrevs had missed the point.

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Personally I'm not interested in the liberal v neo-conservative protestant point. My disdain for both is equal. I just don't get the mythologising bit, you know, God literally helped them (what, like lending them a fiver for petrol or something?) and a Moses myth was created around it. Whilst I certainly believe that the same parts of the scripture can be understood in more than way at the same time I'm alarmed at the readiness to disregard the literal approach, and for what? Lack of physical evidence? (Good luck in finding such evidence for the resurrection, by the way). The Fathers must be turning in their graves.

There wasn't particularly good reason for a Church Father, circa 500AD, to reject the Exodus as a historical narrative. We do know rather more about the relative states of Egypt and Canaan circa 1200BC than the Fathers did. Personally, I do believe that there was a historical Moses and Exodus behind the stories but I believe it on the basis of educated guesswork. I think that if the Fathers had had the archaeological and historical knowledge available to us they would probably have come to the conclusion that Moses anticipated mythologically and typologically what Christ fulfilled historically and literally. I'm sure Gregory of Nyssa believed that Moses was a historical figure but not one word of his Life of Moses is invalidated by modern archaeology.

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Martin60
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In that case I'm in excellent company.

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Martin60
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Plique-à-jour

In the interest of being eponymous in your holy name together, it is you who are in the dark.

Unless you are radiating beyond the visible spectrum or my eyes are too dim to see.

There is no intellectual inconsistency whatsoever in Jesus' humanity rendering it impossible for Him to transcend the epistemology of His culture while still being the AGENT of the miraculous.

For, being 100% human He performed no miracles whatsoever. Ever.

His 100% divinity transcended the culture 'IT' had shaped, in consciousness only.

Before He was baptized at 30 the Holy Spirit performed NO miracles at His behest.

No intellectual inconsistency there.

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Love wins

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Plique-à-jour
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
@Plique-a-Jour - fair enough and guilty as charged. I had admitted that I was being patronising, though, to be fair and I'd have thought the rank of three smilies would have been sufficient to indicate that I was being tongue-in-cheek and also ironic - because I'm no more of a scholar than your good self.

I am a scholar, though not of the Bible. I always assume people use smilies so they don't have to reword something that came out as they meant it to, but don't have to deal with the anticipated reaction. I never use them myself.


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I s'pose there was a certain ad hominem aspect too in the sense that I'm afraid that EE's rather binary approach - and I'm not the only one who notices this - does tend to wind me up the wrong way. I suspect I may have been inadvertently tarring you with the same brush.

That I was patronising, yes I accept that.

That I was being nasty and spiteful ...

I didn't say that, just that you were being unpleasant. I'm glad you accept that you were being patronising.


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I apologise if I caused offence.

Good, thank you.


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The other thing I'd say - and this isn't a defence necessarily - is that I'm often thinking on the hoof and my posts can be rambling - I accept that.

I can see how this can be irritating. 'He does accept the historicity of Moses ... oh now he doesn't ... ah, now he does ...' and so on.

I will try to adjust this style in future.

I wasn't irritated, I just wondered whether you did or not, and if you did, why. I'm sorry if my question seemed impatient.


quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Meanwhile, yes, I accept your rebuff and agree with many of the points you've made. With your permission, I may use them myself elsewhere in a different context.

I'm a bit of a Magpie too, I'm afraid.

[Biased]

Good! By all means, I'm glad to be of help.

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Plique-à-jour
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Plique-à-jour

In the interest of being eponymous in your holy name together, it is you who are in the dark.

Unless you are radiating beyond the visible spectrum or my eyes are too dim to see.

There is no intellectual inconsistency whatsoever in Jesus' humanity rendering it impossible for Him to transcend the epistemology of His culture while still being the AGENT of the miraculous.

For, being 100% human He performed no miracles whatsoever. Ever.

His 100% divinity transcended the culture 'IT' had shaped, in consciousness only.

Before He was baptized at 30 the Holy Spirit performed NO miracles at His behest.

No intellectual inconsistency there.

I'm not sure what it is you're responding to that I've written.

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Martin60
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Such is life.

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Plique-à-jour
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In case you're referring to what I think you're referring to, Martin, let me clarify again: if we say that by Jesus's time, there was no way for Jesus to have known, as a human, that Moses was a myth, then we must acknowledge that the same is true for us and Jesus. Explaining how the fully divine human born of a virgin who flew up into the air after coming back from the dead didn't know that Moses was invented is not the work we have cut out for us.

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Martin60
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Mary couldn't fly.

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Plique-à-jour
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I assume from your flippancy that you get my point now. Glad to be of help.

[ 16. September 2013, 23:12: Message edited by: Plique-à-jour ]

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