Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Brief Statement and Defense of Original Sin


In his delightful labor, Reformed Dogmatics, Herman Bavinck writes, “The point of the “fall” narrative in Genesis is to point to the human desire for autonomy from God. To “know good and evil” is to become the determiner of good and evil; it is to decide for oneself what is right and wrong and not submit to any external law. In short, to seek the knowledge of good and evil is to desire emancipation from God; it is to want to be “like God.” The temptation and fall of man is a tragedy that no human being is capable of escaping. Man’s desire was a desire planted in his mind by the fallen angel, Lucifer. And Lucifer’s fall was along the very same lines as man’s fall. Lucifer sought to surpass the greatness of the glory of his Maker. Adam, no less than Lucifer found the idea seemingly irresistible. He bought the story hook, like, and forbidden fruit.

In terms of the narrative laid down in Genesis, one has only two choices. Either the narrative is a straightforward account of actual history or it is myth or some other genre. The trouble with taking Genesis any other way than simple, honest historical narrative is that there seems to be no good reason offered by those who take it as such, that does not itself reduce to an arbitrary rescuing device designed to save their prior philosophical commitments. There are no objective literary rules that lend themselves to the view that this account is legend, myth or even poetry. The literature and grammar of the text demand historical narrative as the genre. The only way to arrive at any other conclusion is to formulate a philosophical approach to Scripture as a whole that is informed by something other than Scripture itself, say modern historical critical methods that are themselves entangled in numerous difficulties, contradictions, and obvious controversies. The fact is that the historical character of Genesis 3 has been something that the Church has maintained for centuries. Only in the shadows of modernity do we have competing views offered for what the account actually reflects. One has to ask if such modern notions are the product of faithfulness to the biblical text, or perhaps the outcome of unbelief borne out of the very fall it seeks to interpret.

Orthodox Christianity has held that the temptation and subsequent fall of Adam and Eve into sin was an actual historical event that happened just as Genesis describes. John Frame tells us, “The normative definition of sin (“sin is lawlessness, 1 Jn. 3:4) is often prominent in Scripture, especially because the first sin was disobedience to a specific divine command. Adam decided to reject the law of God in place of his own law. We do not have to observe humanity very long before we see men doing the very same thing today. There is an enormous distaste for law even within the ranks of the Christian community. Men despise an overpowering imposition, even if it is God’s overpowering imposition. Observe how Christ is offered to men in modern times. There idea that God demands repentance and complete surrender has been displaced and God is not pictured as a kind old father begging people to just give him a chance and if they do, he will show them just how happy and satisfied he can make them. That is NOT the gospel! But that is what you hear, or nearly hear, in nearly every Church in the Western hemisphere. That message is designed to accommodate the law-hating reality that is at the very core of humanity. Sin is lawlessness.

John Gill writes, “Adam, being the common parent of mankind, may be considered as the ground of the derivation of a corrupt nature to them.” He goes on to say, “Adam stood in the relation of a federal head to his posterity.” As a result of the fall, Scripture reveals that all men now are born guilty and corrupt before an infinitely holy God. This guilt is what we refer to in theology as reatus poenae. We are born in the state of being found guilty as criminals in relation to the divine law.  This condition we designate original guilt. Death serves as the overwhelming evidence for this doctrine. Paul tells us that sin entered the world through one man and infected everyone and we see this is the case because all men die. Paul tells us that through the transgression of one man, all men became condemned. Through one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners. It was not through actual transgression that we were condemned and made to be sinners but rather through Adam who stands as our federal head. In Adam, all die. (Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:22)

Not only are we born into this world with original guilt, we are also born into a state of original corruption. Eph. 2:3 explains that all men live in the lusts of their flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and mind, and are by nature children of wrath. Berkhof writes, “But original sin is not merely negative; it is also an inherent positive disposition toward sin.” (Systematic Theology) Col. 1:21 informs us that all men are alienated from God, hostile in mind and engaged in evil deeds. That an infant is born in this state is exegetically irrefutable. Just as Adam was created in the image of God and then corrupted that image, Seth was born in the corrupted image of his father and his children after him and their children after them. Paul described this condition in more detail in the New Testament. In Romans 8:7, he informs us that the mind that is set on the flesh (all unregenerate minds) is hostile toward God and it does not submit to the law of God and indeed is not even able to do so. The reason this is the case has nothing to do with what men do, but rather, what men are from birth. Men are born natural haters of God. That is the state of original pollution or corruption into which all men are born. Francis Turretin, in his Institutes writes, “The necessity of regeneration without which no one can see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). For why ought men to be renewed by regeneration unless he is naturally corrupt by generation?” Paul, writing to the Corinthian Church says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14) All men are natural men until the Spirit of God regenerates their being.

“There is, indeed, nothing that man’s nature seeks more eagerly than to be flattered.” (John Calvin, The Institutes) We see, even in my dispute with Dan Trabue, one position that elevates humanity, giving it the greatest benefit of the doubt, even placing it in a position to make moral judgments about how God handles His own guilty creation, juxtaposed against my position, which seeks to exonerate and defend the actions of the Creator as, set down in Sacred Scripture. Calvin writes, “Yet it is at the same time to be noted that the first man revolted from God’s authority, not only because he was seized by Satan’s blandishments, but also because, contemptuous of truth, he turned aside to falsehood. And surely, once we hold God’s Word in contempt, we shake off all reverence for him.” Indeed, the denial that Scripture is binding, authoritative, authored by God for a very unique purpose is nothing short of holding God in contempt. “Therefore all of us, who have descended from impure seed, are born infected with the contagion of sin. In fact, before we saw the light of this life we were soiled and spotted in God’s sight.” (Calvin, see Job 14:4)

Modernism, and I speak of the philosophy, seeks to elevate man above his supposed ancient religious superstitions. The law of God is viewed as an ancient mechanism produced by evolution designed to preserve men until he could evolve into a more enlightened state. Once there, man could discard such silly mechanism and replace them with things like science. In so doing, man has simply replaced one religious commitment with another. Science seeks to displace the sort of laws found in religious ideals like the law of God. Just like Adam, man desires to remove the weight of the law of God and wants to replace it with a law of his own. That is, man wants to determine for himself what is good and evil. The corruption that began so long ago in the garden continues to express itself to even much greater degrees in our own day. The denial of original sin is a denial of the force and binding nature of the law of God itself. It is a doctrine that seeks complete freedom from the Creator. Jesus warned that lawlessness would increase in the last days. Paul tells us that the man of lawlessness must be revealed before the second coming of our Lord. Sometimes I wonder if the man of lawlessness is more like an ideal state or condition of mankind in general as he seeks to destroy any traces of the law of God in his own existence.

If Dan is right and original sin is a false doctrine, then one has to wonder in great bewilderment how sin has become so pervasive. If he is right, what need have we of a Savior or Redeemer? If man is a sinner because he sins and there is nothing corrupt about his natural state, then it follows that he could, if he willed, avoid sin altogether. And if that is actually the state of affairs that has obtained, Christianity is nothing more than a superfluous religion that is in some ways very fascinating, but in others quite insane.

Original sin points us back to the place of the law of God and its prominence in the reality of human affairs. For the Church, original sin reminds us of our desperate need for a Savior, a Redeemer, One Who will rescue us from our helpless condition. However, this also points out the need for the Church to never leave behind such topics in her preaching, her teaching, and her discipleship. The lawlessness we see in the Church is more than just a little disturbing. Christian pastors, teachers, and Christians mock law keeping all across the Church. It is as if grace has destroyed the idea of divine law. Yet, John tells us that those who claim to love God but who refuse to obey His law are liars. How can it be that the Church has come to hate the law of God so intensely? Many ignorantly refer to divine law keeping as legalism. One pastor I know constantly framed it up as list keeping. Moreover, because he was too vague in what he meant, people thought that Christianity had no ethic by which to order practical living. The love of God expressed in Christ points to the law of God violated by humanity. Christ did not come to negate the divine law. He upheld the law of God. He fulfilled the Law of Moses. Christians without law cannot be a city set on a hill for all to see.

The denial of original sin is a denial of biblical Christianity. The denial of the binding and authoritative nature of Scripture is a denial of biblical Christianity. The denial of God’s righteous nature in how He judges unbelievers, even young ones, is a denial of biblical Christianity. The denial of God’s design for marriage is a denial of biblical Christianity. The endorsement of gay sex under any circumstances is a rejection and denial of law of God over the area of human sexuality and is itself a denial of biblical Christianity. For this reason, the Church, throughout the centuries and from her early beginning, insisted on basic confessions of belief before she would either baptize or receive into membership anyone claiming to know Christ. We must purge the heretical leaven from the Church because it spreads like a cancer and will infect the entire body eventually and the results will be nothing short of cataclysmic.


74 comments:

  1. Now there are some real plain English words!!
    Excellent Post!!
    KG

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  2. "In terms of the narrative laid down in Genesis, one has only two choices. Either the narrative is a straightforward account of actual history or it is myth or some other genre."
    Ed, it seems to me there are more than two choices there: "straightforward account" ... "myth" ..."some other genre"?

    "The literature and grammar of the text demand historical narrative as the genre." Why? Would the same apply to Luke 10:30-35? or Luke 15:11-32. I think you are confusing varieties of language (literal -- metaphor) with referents (real -- imaginary).

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. The Genesis account of creation indicates that the author intended it to be nothing other than historical fact. To compare ancient Hebrew writings with NT Greek parables is comparing apples to oranges. You must find an example in ancient Hebrew with the same structure as Genesis and show that clearly, the other record is parabolic, myth, imaginary. The only other option is to look for evidence in the NT that the Genesis account should not be taken as simple history. But everywhere the Genesis account is referenced throughout Scripture, it is referenced as literal history. All the exegetical evidence points in one lop-sided direction: real history.

      Later OT references indicate Adam was a historical figure. The NT references indicate Adam was historical. Jesus accepts the historical reality of Adam. Luke includes Adam in Christ's genealogy. Paul compares refers to Adam in a historical sense. The evidence is quite overwhelming.

      This points us to the question of motivation. Given a simple reading of Genesis, the other references of Adam in both testaments, and the significance of an actual historical fall to the Christian faith, what reason might someone have to relegate Adam to myth or parable? It certainly does not seem plausible to say that the exegetical evidence led one to conclude that Adam was not historical. If not exegesis, then what?

      It is because you are attempting to do something else that you must do something with Adam. In other words, a historical creation account is getting in your way. I would suggest that a historical Genesis in one way or another threatens your paradigm. A simple, honest reading of Scripture from beginning to end points to Genesis as real history. Only modern men who have objections to orthodox Christianity and her teachings attempt to dispense with the creation account as simple, real, actual history.

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    3. "The Genesis account of creation indicates that the author intended it to be nothing other than historical fact." Ed, again, HOW? What indicators are there IN THE GENESIS ACCOUNT that do as you claim?

      "To compare ancient Hebrew writings with NT Greek parables is comparing apples to oranges." Ed, not relevant! Again what indicators are there in these NT parables, that these are not referring to actual events? You continue to confuse historical/imaginary events and the type of language used to describe them.

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    4. PS Can you claim that you have never heard or said "the Good Samaritan..." and not known exactly what you are referring to?

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    5. If I applied your strategy to Scripture, I could never tell the difference between a parable and actual history. Parables are short stories set in a worldly context designed to teach one general spiritual truth.

      History is detailed traces movements, names, times, events, dates, times, etc. In VERY rare exceptions do we see controversy over whether or not a story is history or parable. In fact, I can think of only one.

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    6. What strategy is that? I am asking you to give indicators from a text that it is to be read as "actual history" or a "parable". You still haven't done that. How do you apply your characterisation of "parables"?
      "History is detailed traces movements, names, times, events, dates, times, [sic.] etc." So is any reasonable novel "history"?

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  3. The Genesis account of creation indicates that the author intended it to be nothing other than historical fact.

    Support? You state this as if it were a given. I don't accept it as a given, you'll have to provide support for this claim.

    Further, you'd also need to tell us are all other ancient texts (ones you'd say are mythic/figurative "obviously") are they "indicating" that they are to be taken as literal history, if we use the same measure that you are applying to Genesis?

    But everywhere the Genesis account is referenced throughout Scripture, it is referenced as literal history.

    This is a repeatedly unsubstantiated claim. Do people within the Bible speak of stories found in Genesis as a point of reference? Yes, they do. But so do I, but I don't necessarily believe these stories represent literal history.

    The claim "If anyone references a story in Genesis, therefore they take it as literal history" is demonstrably false, so do you have any support for this claim beyond just the claim itself?

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    1. The evidence is overwhelming Dan. Genealogies, Christ used Adam in a literal way, Paul placed Adam alongside Christ, etc. Exegetically speaking, the evidence is staggering. You have to run outside Scripture and into modern philosophy in order to get to your conclusion. Just like Adam, they transgressed the covenant. In Adam, we die, in Christ we live...literally Dan. begat, begat, begat, begat, so says Luke all the way to Seth and then to Adam right down to Christ. If Scripture is our authority and plain language rules apply, the evidence is staggering.

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  4. But everywhere the Genesis account is referenced throughout Scripture, it is referenced as literal history. All the exegetical evidence points in one lop-sided direction: real history.


    Dan Trabue, teaching the Sunday School class:

    Hey Kids, today we're looking at the story of Jonah, found in the Bible. Jonah was a fella who lived a long time ago and God had a special call for him: God wanted Jonah to go to a town called Ninevah and preach about God, warning people not to do the wrong, but to seek the right ways... Jonah did NOT want to go to Ninevah - they were ugly, BAD people - so he ran away on a boat to "hide" from God.

    Of course, you can't hide from God and a great storm arose while Jonah was on the boat. Jonah jumped overboard and was prepared to die, but he was swallowed by a BIG fish. After 3 days in the fish, Jonah was ready to do anything to get out of that smelly belly! He prayed for help from God and the great big fish had a great big BARF - BLEHHH! - and out Jonah came on the shores of Ninevah, where he preached to the people about God and the town got SAVED!

    Now, nowhere in that story that I have, at times, talked about in Sunday School, did I mention that I did or did not believe it was a literal story. The literality of the story is not the point! The point is not running from God, the point is not hating the Others, the point is being faithful, etc. Now, by your apparent measure, you would conclude, "Dan MUST believe the story was a literally historical story that happened just as he said it did..." But I don't.

    Do you see the problem with your criteria? It is NOT exegetical, it is eisegetical. You are reading INTO the story something that is culturally acceptable to you, not something the story demands.

    What is your measure? Or are you prepared to admit that perhaps you have misspoke?

    Dan

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    1. No such town as Nineveh? A literal town with a literal God and a non-literal prophet. That makes a lot of sense Dan. Again, you repeatedly demonstrate that your criteria for interpreting Scripture is your philosophy, not Scripture itself.

      If you just reads Jonah's story and assumes that God can do these things, which He can, one has no reason to think it is a parable or non-literal. The only way I can conclude that Jonah was NOT historical is if I introduce a foreign element into the text. Parables are remarkably different.

      2 Kings 14:23-28 mention Jonah as a real, historical figure. Jesus referred to Jonah in parallel to what was about to happen to him using the real life fish event as a type of death and resurrection of Messiah. Just as Jonah was 3 days in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man will be 3 days in the belly of the earth.

      Parables do not contain the sort of detail, like names, names of fathers, etc. that Jonah contains. If Jonah were a parable, we could safely say that this parable contains more superfluous information that any parable in the history of the Scripture. But it is NOT a parable. There is nothing parabolic about it. And the ONLY reason you want it to be a parable is that the story offends your intellectual senses. You don't like the fish story and that is what motivates your interpretation. I, on the other hand, affirm God can do such things as preserve a man alive in a fish for three days without a problem and therefore, I take the text at face value because the usual markers of parable are everywhere absent from Jonah.

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  5. So, the Epic of Gilgamesh MUST be literal history because it mentions names and places and tells the story as if it really happened?

    Do you see the problem with your whimsical criteria? By your measure, EVERY ancient story is telling factual history.

    Where am I mistaken? How is Gilgamesh "obviously" figurative but the Tower of Babel "obviously" literal history?

    I need some specific criteria.

    And I didn't say that Jonah was a parable. At all. I said that I take it figuratively, not as literally factual history.

    You do know the difference, right?

    You have made reference to "usual markers" and detail names but you have not said what any of that means in reference to other ancient myths.

    Do you take Gilgamesh to be literal history? Why not?

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    1. We are discussing the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, a work that is the ONLY ONE of its kind. It is truly unique. Therefore, it is illegitimate to compare with other writings that not only are of a completely different nature, but they serve a completely natural purpose of an itty bitty human author with impure, ungodly goals, ambitions and motives.

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    2. According to what literary experts is it "truly unique..."? That is, amongst what peer-reviewed scholars, not "all the people who agree with me agree with me on this point..."?

      Do you have any?

      What sets it apart, textually, contextually, from Gilgamesh?

      You're making claims with no support, Ed. Do you see the problem expecting people to accept something that seems on the face of it hard to believe because "Ed says so, so, you should agree..."?

      Do you have anything more than your say so (or the say so of every single person in history who has agreed with you)?

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  6. Do you believe the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man to be a parable or literal history?

    It is not identified as a parable. It includes names and specific places and events.

    By your measure, it is not a parable, and literal angels literally carry dead believers to the side of a literal Abraham (not God). Additionally, Lazarus made no confession of faith and did not repent of any sins. In the literal story, he was taken to Abraham's side because he was poor in this life, if you take it literally. Taken literally, people in hell or hades can communicate across a great chasm to Abraham, presumably in heaven. Do you take all of that literally?

    By your rather whimsical measure it is not a parable, but literal history, it would seem. Want to clarify?

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    1. I hold that Lazarus was literal history. The absence of Lazarus' actually repentance is irrelevant. We can deduce that Lazarus was a righteous man because of where he went after death.

      Who knows what people in hell can and cannot do. The parable indicates that the structure at that time would support such communication and I have no valid reason to reject the possibility. Do you?

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  7. Because it reads like a parable, like figurative language. It has all the "markers" of figurative language and nothing to indicate that it's literal history.

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    1. Because this situation contains both elements, it is not as easy to decide. Hence, my position is not dogmatic in this case. Nevertheless, that some believe it to be history while others believe it is a parable is reasonable.

      I do not worry about those who think it a parable on literary and exegetical grounds. Rather, I recoil at those who take that path on philosophical grounds.

      I believe the story is history because it is too specific, using names such as Lazarus and Abraham. There is no earthly allegory here. The truth taught is direct. Parables use an earthly here and now context to teach a spiritual truth by way of allegory while this story is set in the afterlife. If it is a parable, it is a very unique one to say the least.

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    2. Again Ed, are you not confusing different uses/types of language (figurative or non-figurative) with the things etc. being referred to (actual or not)? Can you not see that distinction? "Saint George killed the dragon" is non-figurative language used to refer to a non-event. "Saint George blew the dragon away" is figurative language referring to a non-event. "There was once a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho" in Luke 10 is non-figurative language referring to a non-event.
      What is there about names of characters that turns the events being referred to into history? What are your literary/exegetical grounds here? It seems they are more philosophical rather than textual?

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    3. Parables are by nature not interested in granularity which is why they typically do not contain something as specific as a name. If you do not think so, then you hold an odd position. That Lazarus and the Rich Man could be taken as actual history is not a new idea. The story is controversial in that respect.

      Parables are pretty easy to identify. As I said, only one that I can think of is seriously disputed. As for trying to turn every offensive story in the Bible into a parable, well, that is the practice of unbelieving quibblers who don't want historic Christianity and so they attempt to illegitimately turn it on its head, making it more tolerable towards and consistent with their autonomous, ungodly philosophy.

      If you rules are applied, I could say Christ was a parable. I could say the whole of Scripture was a parable and there are morons who do just that. But such tactics are not sound literary tactics derived from good exegetical practice. They are decisions resulting from ungodly and unbelieving philosophy being imposed on Scripture because these men do not find the God revealed there very attractive. They do not like His demanding nature, how He ordered Israel to destroy the other nations, that He confines men to eternal damnation who have the audacity to reject Him, how He requires faith in Christ alone for salvation, etc.

      The truth is, you have internal vested motivations to be able to turn Scripture into parables. And that is what drives your desire to quibble with me on the subject.

      There is literally a mountain of exegetical evidence supporting a literal historic creation event, a literal Adam and Eve, etc. There are no good reasons, internal to the text of Scripture, to attempt to turn the creation account into myth. The only device you have in your hands is a philosophical one. And that one, when applied arbitrarily as you and your friend Dan does, destroys any hope whatsoever of a history of redemption put down in the Sacred Text of Scripture. That is an indisputable fact.

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    4. "Parables are by nature not interested in granularity which is why they typically do not contain something as specific as a name." Ed, who are you quoting here and what do they mean?

      "If you [sic.] rules are applied, I could say Christ was a parable." Ed How would/could my characterisation of language produce this? That is EXACTLY what I am not saying.

      "And that is what drives your desire to quibble with me on the subject." Ed, I guess if someone disagrees with you they are quibbling. Is the difference between form and meaning a quibble? Makes translation rather difficult.

      "There is literally a mountain of exegetical evidence" I am assuming you are being funny here?

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    5. I am not being funny. You are clearly not one who subscribes to the faith. Your problem is not one of not understanding the literary rules around allegory, metaphor, parable, and historical narrative. It is one of rank unbelief. What you end up with is a parable telling a parable. Yet Christian who study scripture seem to have no problem recognizing the difference between a parable and history. If you can't tell the difference I would suggest Craig Bloomberg's book, "Interpreting the Parables." It is excellent. Come back after you have read it. For history, maybe read Koestenberger's "An Invitation to Biblical Interpretation."

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    6. "You are clearly not one who subscribes to the faith. ... It is one of rank unbelief." Huh? Where did this come from?

      "...literally a mountain..." "I am not being funny". Ed, did you understand my original "quibble"? How is the "exegetical evidence" a literal mountain?

      "What you end up with is a parable telling a parable." Ed, again, do you understand what "genre" means?

      "Yet Christian [sic.] who study scripture seem to have no problem recognizing the difference between a parable and history." I completely agree. Yet as far as the Genesis narrative goes you and Dan have come to different conclusions. His seemed to be based on evidence in the text itself and considering its apparent genre.Yours seem to be based on presuppositions but lack support from the text itself and its apparent genre.

      Isn't there a story about an old preacher's notes: argument weak, shout here?
      Peace

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    7. Ed, I have browsed through Blomberg and Koestenberger & Patterson. What now?

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    8. Am I talking to an individual who openly professes to love Christ? Just want to understand who you really are.

      Non-literal language does NOT include literal genealogies. How simple is that? It is VERY simple. Parables contain no where NEAR the sort of details and accounts we see in Genesis.

      If you cannot explain Genesis 5 in a straightforward manner, then you cannot reasonably conclude that Genesis is parable.

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    9. It would take several weeks to work through those works. Both of them are sizable volumes.

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    10. Non-literal language does NOT include literal genealogies. How simple is that?

      Says who? On what authority are you making this claim, Ed? Claims by themselves are not support.
      And I don't think anyone is saying that Genesis is specifically parable, just that there is figurative language and sometimes mythic markers in play.

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    11. Ed, I thought you had already decided whether I was a follower of Jesus or not :-)

      I said "I have browsed through ..." So what did you doubt?
      Ed: "It would take several weeks to work through those works" Why would I need to "work through them" when I am already familiar with what they are talking about and have no argument with their approach.
      I did notice that K&P did regard not distinguishing sense and reference as an exegetical fallacy whereas you regard it as a quibble and you continue to say things like: "Non-literal language does NOT include literal genealogies." Dan seems to follow K&P here.
      Please, Ed, think about how you are coming across to people throughout the world as Dan encourages you to do,

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    12. And just for the record I have never concluded that Genesis is a parable,

      I noticed also that K&P also said "the linguistic forms in which Scripture has come down to us ... are a reflection of the historical-cultural world in which God chose to reveal himself to his people in both Testaments.
      In fact the failure to appreciate that we are dealing here with _language_, [their emphasis] which by its very nature is subjective and varied in style and often eludes being reduced to a simple formula or rigid dictionary definitions, hinders much of common biblical interpretation." [p.623]
      Maybe Dan is closer to K&P than you are?

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    13. Proof that you do NOT understand what you are reading. The section you are quoting from concerns Word meanings and the often naive and simplistic approaches that result in numerous fallacies. The whole point is that words must be understood within their context and semantic field. This is completely unrelated to the desire of people to illegitimately classify historical narrative as parable or non-literal.

      We could classify Dan's mistake and yours under category 5: Improper appeal to alleged parallels. Smarten up anonymous. You need to identify yourself as a follower of Christ or not. Otherwise I am going to delete your posts.

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    14. I am a follower of Christ.
      Ed, on the contrary it seems that you are the one who does not understand the significance of what you read. The quote from p.623 does NT apply only to words.If it is the exegetical fallacy that you are referring to here then it does apply to your use of "literal" and "figurative". These two words refer to type of language used. The reality that each refers to can be, for instance, historical or not. In mixing this distinction you are confusing sense and reference, form or meaning.
      Peace

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    15. Interestingly, the device your website uses to check that I am not a robot illustrates your approach to language and culture. The pictures of, for example 'soup' or 'sandwich' might not be the same in cultures other than the USA. Did you consider this?

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    16. Why don't you illustrate for us how that works when one is determining the genre of a particular discourse. How us how individual word meanings actually aid in determine x is a parable and y is historical narrative.

      As soon as you attempt to do this, you will find that semantics are not very helpful in identifying the difference between a parable and genuine history. I will say the same thing to you that I said to Dan: how can Genesis 1-5 be parable when it is littered with detail after detail and it culminates in a real genealogy? Parables do NOT include genealogy and the fact that a genealogy is present would immediately PRECLUDE a story from being non-literay and require a literal historical approach to its contents.

      Just concentrate on this point in your response, otherwise, I will delete your post. No more rabbits. I am closing this discussion.

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    17. Ed, you keep saying this...

      Parables do NOT include genealogy and the fact that a genealogy is present would immediately PRECLUDE a story from being non-literay

      And I'm not saying you're wrong, but I keep asking, "ON WHAT BASIS do you know this?" Says who? On whose authority is this a real claim of yours a real thing? Or are you simply saying, "It SEEMS TO ME, ED, that this is the case..."?

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  9. So, here's what I'm hearing from Ed and where he needs to go from here to actually make his case, rather than just make an unsupported claim and treat it as if it should be heeded blindly...

    1. Parables never use names.

    Support?

    You might make a case that Jesus' parables that he identifies specifically as parables always are nameless, but "parables" don't begin and end with Jesus and Jesus is not limited to the one style he most used in these texts.

    2. Genesis self-identifies as "always factually historic" in nature because of "markers..." and other clues.

    Support beyond the claim?

    Says who? What "markers"?

    One can EASILY point to the markers of Myth/figurative language in Genesis... the whole trope of "and THAT is why there is a rainbow in the sky" and "and THAT is how the snake lost his legs..." and "and THAT is how languages developed..." are clearly mythic markers to anyone not blinded by tradition and culture.

    What "markers" demands that Genesis must be taken as literally within its own text?

    3. The other books of the bible reference stories from within Genesis, therefore all biblical texts demand a literally factual history treatment of Genesis.

    Support beyond the claim?

    Again, I have already demonstrated that people can and do refer to stories point blank without necessarily endorsing a historical treatment of them. I do it all the time.

    The mere mentioning of a story does not mean that the one who cites the story is demanding that it is and must be treated as factual history.

    Do you have any support beyond just the empty claim, the claim that has already been demonstrated to be false?

    4. That the OT is "truly unique" and "one of a kind..."

    Says who? On what basis? In what sense?

    Do you have any support or is this just another empty and unsupported claim?

    You've made many claims, Ed. Do you have support for any of them beyond the claim?

    If it's only "I claim this, but I can't support it..." don't you think that honesty demands that you make it clear that these are unsupported claims... just your human hunch?

    Dan

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    1. I have given enough evidence to support the conclusion that the Genesis account is actual history.

      Can you tell us why we are wrong to understand Genesis as history. In other words, what is your evidence in support that Genesis is a parable or non-literal? What exegetical support can you offer? Referring to extra-biblical literature will be rejected out of hand.

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  10. There is literally a mountain of exegetical evidence supporting a literal historic creation event, a literal Adam and Eve, etc. There are no good reasons, internal to the text of Scripture, to attempt to turn the creation account into myth

    Please provide just a bit of that "mountain of evidence..." A claim does not equal evidence. "I reallyreallyreally think this makes most sense" does not equal evidence. "Everyone I know who agrees with me agrees with me on this point" does not equal evidence.

    Any hard data?

    There is plenty of hard scientific data not to take Genesis as a literal scientific/historical representation of the beginnings of earth or humanity. That Genesis reads internally like myth (...and THAT is how woman came to be..., etc) is textual reason to take it as figurative/non-literal. I've provided reasons why we don't need to insist upon it literally, so you can't say "there are no good reasons..." You can say, "there are reasons I don't find compelling" but you can't ignore the reality or existence of the reasons, not in good faith.

    And that one, when applied arbitrarily as you and your friend Dan does, destroys any hope whatsoever of a history of redemption

    Not arbitrary at all. When I read Gilgamesh, it READS like myth, like figurative language by the very same standards that I apply to Genesis. I'm consistent, not arbitrary. I think they both read like figurative language, internally, plus, they both come from a time period prior to the era of Modern History-telling that didn't begin until 500 BC - 500 AD. I am consistent, not arbitrary.

    You, on the other hand, appear to be appealing to arbitrary exceptions for Genesis that you don't consistently apply to other ancient writings. That's arbitrary, that's inconsistent, not what I'm doing.

    And just because Genesis appears clearly to be using figurative language does not in any way diminish the glory of God's love and grace, how could it? That you operate from a position of allegiance to your tradition and fears of "what if it isn't literal..." does not mean that there are not reasons to take God's grace and love as reality.

    How does a mythic Genesis in any way diminish the teachings of our Lord, Jesus?

    Dan

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    1. Already done Dan. I am not going to just repeat myself over and over and over again. The burden is on you to prove, exegetically, why Genesis is non-literal as opposed to historical.

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    2. Your problem is that you treat Scripture as if it were the literary productions of ungodly men and nothing more. Your starting point is outside the realm of Christian standards. If you want to continue to call yourself a Christian, then your going to have to honor our standards. Otherwise, you get the right foot of fellowship.

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  11. Consider this example, Ed.

    You claimed that we can "know" biblical characters considered Genesis to be literal history because they reference Adam and Jonah. And that certainly COULD be one interpretation of the texts.

    But I demonstrated that there exists many people, myself included and probably yourself included, who will reference a story or characters in a story NOT because they are saying "that story represents literal factual history," but because it is a known story with relevance to a conversation.

    So, I provided SUPPORT for my claim that "just because someone mentions a story or character does not prove they are insisting upon a literally factual interpretation of the story." My claim is fully supported and is valid. It can't be denied.

    Now, from there, we could talk about, "Well, how often does it happen that people reference characters that they don't believe to be from literal history without noting that?" and I don't have the answer to that question, nor do you. We could also discuss, "Well, is it likely that these people were taking it as literal history or not?" and we could discuss the pros and cons.

    But the point is, I provided solid, clearly rational and obvious support for my argument, I didn't just say, "Paul says "Adam" therefore, Paul thinks Genesis is literally factual history..." and leave it at that. The claim does not equal support, see?

    Put another way, no one is disagreeing about whether or not Paul said, "For as in Adam, all die. Even so in Christ are all made alive" The question is, is this necessarily indicating that we must accept a literally factual Genesis. I would say, no, clearly this is metaphor, not insisting upon a literal Genesis. You disagree.

    Okay, no problem, disagreements happen. The point remains: Disagreement over the factual nature of Genesis is not indicative of non-belief in God or hatred of the Bible or dismissing the Bible. It's a disagreement over interpretation, no more, no less. And disagreements about whether one human interpretation is better than another is not life or death, it's not grounds for rejection of the Other. It's just a simple human disagreement about a topic that can NOT be proven one way or the other (well, the 6,000 year old world interpretation can be disproven if one accepts science and facts, but generally...)

    Do you have support BEYOND the simple claim that "Paul says "Adam...""?

    Dan

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  12. The burden is on you to prove, exegetically, why Genesis is non-literal as opposed to historical.

    Already done. Or at least, I've already provided my reasons why one should consider some of these stories as figurative/mythic.

    Myths have in common the explaining of complex real world phenomenon through allegorical story.

    "and THAT is why the rainbow is in the sky..."
    "and THAT is how the zebra got its stripes..."
    "and THAT is why different languages developed..."
    "and THAT is why birds fly..."
    "and THAT is why the snake crawls..."

    These lines all read like myth, not like scientific, historic documentation.

    Just like many of the psalms read like poetry and we interpret the genre as Poetry, rightly, because they READ like poetry. Why wouldn't we?

    Similarly, when texts in Genesis read like myth and conflict with known science, why would we insist upon treating it like a historic/scientific genre when it reads like myth?

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  13. Now, you may ultimately consider my view (if you give it a try) and decide, "Hmmm, no, I just don't think it reads like myth. I do see the similarities, but I think it reads more like literal history, told in the more modern sense of that idea..." but you can't say that my reasoning is baseless or not reasoned or hostile to the Bible.

    It's just a reasonable interpretation that we disagree about, no more.

    Dan

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  14. In other words, what is your evidence in support that Genesis is a parable or non-literal? What exegetical support can you offer? Referring to extra-biblical literature will be rejected out of hand.

    Why? If someone claims that the passage that speaks of the "four corners of the world" MUST be taken literally to mean that the world is a flat square/rectangle, what is wrong with pointing out the reality that we can physically look at the world now and see that this is a bad interpretation?

    Nothing.

    If someone is claiming that people can NOT cite a story without insisting upon a literal interpretation, what is wrong with pointing out in the real world that this does happen?

    You aren't anti-reason or anti-science, are you? And by "anti-science," I mean that you aren't opposed to looking at hard data to support claims, are you?

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    1. Genesis 5 is about as compelling as any record could be for concluding that Adam was a literal historical figure. One does not use genealogies in parables or myth or in non-literal literature. If you can read Genesis 5 and still argue that Genesis does not portray Adam as literal then you're just being dishonest. And your argument for a non-literal Adam is not based on honest inquiry but rather a philosophical desire, a deep wish on your part. And I suspect that that wish is based on other wishes you have about what you want Christianity to be Dan. But Christianity is not pliable. Truth is inflexible. Either you take Christianity and all that comes with it, or you take nothing at all. Paul without controversy, when he spoke about Adam believed he was speaking about a literal man.

      Just how much of Scripture do you want to reduce to myth Dan? All of it? If Adam goes, so does Noah. And if Noah goes, the entire history of Israel goes with him. But we know that Israel has roots leading back to these ancient men. Where is your arbitrary line drawn Dan?

      I don't know how many different ways this can be argued but you are coming up short in every arena at this point. Just say you don't believe because you either can't believe it or you simply choose NOT to believe it. But don't pretend that you have good reasons for not believing it. You don't. Perhaps you have swallowed evolutionary theory hook, line, and sinker and this gets in the way.

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  15. One does not use genealogies in parables or myth or in non-literal literature.

    Support for this claim, please?

    I can do the same thing with Genesis 5 and provide support:

    "Look at Genesis 5. They list people living to be over 900 years old. In the real world, that simply does not happen, CLEARLY then, this can not be taken as literal history, factually told."

    The support for my claim is the reality that people simply don't live to be 900 years old, especially not back then when by all the data, lifespans were shorter, not longer. I have thus made a claim and supported it with facts and known science.

    You, on the other hand, have made a claim. I'm asking if you have anything, anything at all, to support the claim "One does not use genealogies in parables or myth or in non-literal literature."

    According to what research or what study or what reasoning is this the case? You can't just make an empty claim and expect people to bow down to a claim from some guy on the internet simply because he made it authoritatively. Data, man, provide support!

    your argument for a non-literal Adam is not based on honest inquiry but rather a philosophical desire, a deep wish on your part.

    Factually, this is simply not the case. Remember, I started from a literalist, conservative position/background. I had to abandon a demand for a literal Genesis NOT because of any wish on my part to do so - I already believed it - but simply because the Bible does not support any such demand and I wanted to be faithful to what the Bible actually says, not what the traditions of humans said.

    how much of Scripture do you want to reduce to myth Dan? All of it? If Adam goes, so does Noah. And if Noah goes, the entire history of Israel goes with him. But we know that Israel has roots leading back to these ancient men. Where is your arbitrary line drawn Dan?

    First of all, it's not "reducing" a story to say, "this appears to be in the mythic/figurative genre," any more than it is to say "that appears to be in a poetic/figurative genre..." You are treating the notion of figurative language in Genesis as if it were an insult, rather than just a reasoned opinion about a genre.

    Is it an insult to consider Psalm 23 to be figurative and poetic, in genre, and that God is not literally a shepherd, herding people who are literally sheep? No, of course not.

    You ought not take reasoned differences of opinion about genre as an insult, it's not rational, it comes off as a rather emotional, whimsical and unnecessarily defensive response, rather than a reasoned adult study of literature.

    2. I take any passage that appears to be figurative to be figurative. You do, too. You don't take Psalm 23 literally, but you do take Jesus' story literal. Just as I do.

    We simply disagree about whether Adam is literal or figurative.

    I draw the line wherever I find it most reasonable and biblical to do so, just as you do.

    Where do you draw the line? Is it not on "well, this text appears to be in the poetic genre, and that line appears to be figurative, and that line seems to me to be more literally historic in nature..."? If so, how are you doing anything differently than I am?

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  16. If I may, Ed, here's an example of where you're going wrong when it comes to a good will, respectful conversation about a given topic to ad hom fallacies, false witness and slander...

    If you can read Genesis 5 and still argue that Genesis does not portray Adam as literal then you're just being dishonest. And your argument for a non-literal Adam is not based on honest inquiry but rather a philosophical desire

    Note: When you read Genesis 5 and find in it a reason to take Adam's story as literally factual, I did not question your motives, your honesty, your good intentions, your reason. I simply disagreed. But instead of polite disagreement about an IDEA, you resort to attacks on the person and demonstrably false claims.

    I am not being dishonest, I read Genesis 5 sincerely and with an open mind and immediately, I'm confronted with what seems to me to be honestly rational reasons not to take it literally.

    Where is the evidence - ANY hard data at all - that some people have lived to be over 900 years old? Do you have even one shred of evidence? If not, then how can you call it dishonest that I find that to be a marker that this story is not literally factual?

    Again, I would point to the person who would insist upon a flat, rectangular earth based on "the four corners" passage. We can look at real world data to reckon that that interpretation is not a reasonable one to hold, that this passage would make more sense taken figuratively.

    Do you agree?

    If you agree there and allow that people can reasonably look at real world data to dismiss a literal interpretation, why not in Genesis 5?

    Why engage in the attack on my motives, motives which you do not have access to? Your reasoning is leading you to demonstrably false conclusions, brother, why go there?

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    1. The Scripture is my evidence Dan. It is not something to agree or disagree about. It is something to be believed or rejected. You reject the record of Scripture. Scripture is not FULLY TRUSTWORTHY. That is not a Christian position. Your motive is to accept science so-called and to force science upon Scripture as if science is trustworthy and Scripture is not.

      I attack your motives because there is no such thing as neutrality. Everyone has a motive. Defending your paradigm is your motive. That is why I go after your motive. In so doing, I am rejecting your paradigm. The point is that your paradigm is not Christian. It is unbelieving top to bottom. You say Lord, Lord, but then reject the very Lord whose name you call on. Jesus spoke of this on more than one occasion.

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  17. The Scripture is my evidence Dan. It is not something to agree or disagree about. It is something to be believed or rejected. You reject the record of Scripture.

    Ed, again, we are BOTH looking at Scripture. We are BOTH seeing Paul say "As in Adam, all die..." That is not in debate. What is at question is, "Does Paul saying that mean that Paul insisted that Adam was literal?"

    You can't say, "I think Paul meant to insist upon a literal Adam, therefore, Paul insisted upon a literal Adam..." that is circular argument based upon your hunch, not upon scripture. It's question begging.

    Do you understand the rational fallacy you're engaging in here?

    Put another way, if a person existed who insisted upon a square, flat earth and they said to you, "You reject Scripture and God because you do not interpret this scripture as literal science/literal fact..." is that rational? No, of course not. You disagree with his literal interpretation, that is not the same as rejecting the Bible.

    By the measure you are using, I could say, "Ed, you do not believe that the Bible is FULLY TRUSTWORTHY because you are embracing science and rejecting scripture as literally written!" could I not? You would have the same dilemma and it would NOT be because of anything other than a simple disagreement about interpretation.

    "The Scripture is my evidence" is question begging.

    The question is, "Is this Scripture literal or figurative?" To call upon that same scripture as a "proof" of the question is question begging. It's a logical, rational fallacy.

    Don't you see?

    As to your second paragraphs, each of those claims are demonstrably false. I was a conservative Christian, Ed, I believed in a literal Bible in the same sense that you do. I had no motive to change away from that view, it was taking the Bible literally and seriously that led me away from the view that this was biblical, because the Bible does not teach that.

    Your reasoning is leading you to false conclusions which is leading you to make false claims that you can not support.

    I'm guessing you just can't see that, but I do pray that your eyes will be open and your heart softened and your mind open to facts.

    In Christ and with the love of God,

    Dan

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    1. Why should Adam NOT be taken as literal? Why should the age of these men when they died NOT be taken as literal?

      The Scripture is my evidence is NOT question begging. What is question begging is your insistence that we cannot take these very plain records literal as we have for centuries. Your the new guy with the new view. The burden is on you.

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  18. Scripture is MY evidence, too, Ed. Adam's story READS like myth, not like history.

    What is your evidence to the guy who says you are wrong to take "four corners" figuratively? Nothing in Scripture tells you that is metaphor.

    You're the guy who, in addition to the obvious "feel" and read of myth, wants to deny scientific facts in favor of a traditional ancient interpretation. The burden of proof is on you.

    Why shouldn't we take it as figurative when all evidence points to that?

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  19. The Scripture is my evidence is NOT question begging.

    The question: Is Adam's story more mythic or literal history?

    Ed... All scripture stories like this are historic in nature, therefore, Adam's story is historic, not mythic.

    That is question begging, just as if an atheist said... "All scripture is fiction therefore, Adam's story is fiction..."

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  20. No Dan. I have asked you to justify your conclusion that Adam must be understood as non-literal. You fail to understand that when you point to things like how old the Scripture says they were when they died, that you are imposing an unjustified presupposition on the text. It looks likje this:

    People could NEVER have lived until they were 900 years old. Scripture says x was 900 when he died. Therefore, Scripture must be using non-literal language.

    Your philosophical commitment that people cannot and do not and never have lived to age 900 is what drives your interpretation of Scripture.

    I have been arguing this since day 1 with you. And you still don't get it.

    My argument is that Scripture plainly says in plain language that x lived to be 900. Since Scripture is to be interpreted using the normal rules of language and since there is no reason for me to take the text as anything but a literal record of how old x was, then x must have lived 900 years.

    The first five chapters of Genesis indicate Adam was historic. Chapter five represents the summary of Adam's genealogy. No reason to take it as anything but Adams genealogy. Chapter six begins to talk about Noah and his family. These are directly located within Adam's genealogy. 1 Chronicles records the genealogy of Adam all the way down to Abraham. Again, more reason to take Adam as historic. Job mentions Adam and his sin in relation to his own sin in Job 31:33. Hosea the prophet says the people have broken the covenant just like Adam did in Hos. 6:7. Jump to Luke's inclusion of Adam in his genealogy which takes us from Adam to Christ. Jesus' remarks about Adam point to his historicity. Paul's language about Adam does the same. The ancient Jew believed in a literal first pair in the garden and so all the apostles would have held this view. Jude mentions Adam as well in a historical sense.

    Other than the Gilgamesh, what do you have to offer as support for your decision that Adam must be taken as non-literal.

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  21. There is not a single text in all of ancient writings that are written in what you would agree is a historic style of literally factual history. The era of modern history-telling does not begin, say the scholars and all the data, until 500 BC - 500 AD.

    The people then, by all data, just do not appear to have told history in a style similar to how we do it today. JUST LIKE they did not write in English. English was a language that did not exist then and we do not expect them to have written in English. Modern factual history-telling did not exist back then, and we have no reason to suspect that they did.

    That's one bit of evidence. But that's not the evidence that made me switch back in my more conservative days.

    What ultimately caused me to switch was that some of these ancient stories do NOT read like literally factual history. When you say "the first five chapters of Genesis indicate that Adam was historic..." you are basing that on WHAT? Because while they are clearly stories that include Adam, they do not, TO ME, demand to be taken literally, just from the text itself. From the text, itself, it reads like non-literal history, more like myth.

    So, ON WHAT BASIS do you make the claim that the first five chapters indicate Adam was historic? The first 20 chapters of Gone with the Wind indicates that Scarlett was historic by your measure. It's not a rational measure, it's an emotional, culturally-based measure. You have provided no data to support these claims you keep making, why not?

    So, back to evidence: By all means, provide some DATA that supports a literally 900 year-living tribe of people.

    Provide some DATA that supports literally factual history from prior to 500 BC - do you have even ONE text from that period that you would classify as literal history, even ONE?

    Provide some DATA that somehow, despite all hard data, the earth is only 6,000 years old.

    Provide some DATA that the Bible itself INSISTS upon a literal interpretation? Where does Jesus or Paul or ANY ONE AT ALL within the pages of the Bible insist that these ancient texts MUST be taken literally?

    Obviously, they all are NOT taken literally, as you will agree there is figurative poetry, figurative parables, figurative language used. So, GIVEN that you already agree that some language in the bible is figurative, on what basis and on WHAT DATA do you insist that you have the authority to decide which ones MUST be taken as literal history, when the Bible does not make that claim and hard data does not support the claim?

    It's all about the data, Ed, and you've provided none.

    What do you say to the man who insists you must take the "four corners" literally? Would you answer that question? If you did, it might be informative to this conversation.

    Dan

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  22. there is no reason for me to take the text as anything but a literal record of how old x was, then x must have lived 900 years.

    Of course, there is, Ed. The REALITY that people do not live and never HAVE lived to be 900 years old is reason to suspect that at least that number does not literally represent literally 900 earth years as we know it. We have NO BIBLICAL reason to insist upon taking it literally. None. And reality gives us reason to not treat it as literally.

    So, given NO biblical support for this insistence on a literally 900 year old man and MUCH factual support NOT to take it literally, why would we?

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    1. Okay Dan. I really do have to put a stop to this. I have been very patient with your desires to twist the truth and challenge traditional Christianity. But I am afraid the time has come for me to stop it. I pray God grants you repentance. Any additional posts will be deleted. You have no interest in understanding Scripture. Your only interest is to make Scripture fit your scheme, your paradigm, your philosophy. The reformers taught us that Scripture only does its work in us when it actually threatens us. It threatens our beliefs, our behaviors, our idols. Every time we touch the text, threat exists. Either Scripture threatens us or we threaten Scripture. No more responses Dan. We are done. I cannot engage in an endless debate.

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  23. It's not debate, Ed. It's me, asking some reasonable and respectful questions. Why does that terrify you so? If you can't answer the questions, saying, "I can't answer" is an acceptable response. But banning that which you won't answer is not the way to Truth.

    Be better than that, Ed.

    You are free to delete, of course, but what does that say about you? I have been respectful, I have been polite to a fault. I have humbly offered some opinions that I have been clear are MY opinions and have respectfully asked reasonable questions that you have not addressed. What does it say about you that you would ban someone like this?

    Where is the love? Where is the intellectual honesty and open mind?

    And speaking of love, you have said that people like me should be evangelized. What must I do to be saved in addition to the points you've already stated, which I've already done?

    If you're worried about my salvation and love me with the love of God (as I DO love you, Ed, with the love of God), why not answer that question and tell me what I must do to be saved? OR since I've already been saved by orthodox Christian standards (by your own testimony!), why not end the slander and false witness and apologize for the error?

    I am guess it's because you are just too blinded (I don't mean this in a mean spirit, just as a guess to explain what's going on) by your cultural allegiances and religious biases that you can't see the errors you're making, the false witness and slander you are perpetuating, the sin you are continuing in. May God grant us all wisdom and grace and insight and a fearless ability to discuss things respectfully with those with whom we disagree.

    In Christ my Lord,

    Dan

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    1. Why can't you see that what you think are reasonable questions or unreasonable questions is based on your philosophy, not Hebrew Syntax and exegesis? You example of a story versus history is a perfect example. I can place Alice in Wonderland on a table alongside Bruce Shelley's "Church History in Plain Language" or even Masur's "The Civil War: A Concise History and everyone can tell the different RIGHT AWAY.

      This is your last chance Dan to tell me why you think Adam is non-literal. What is your argument. Why have you arrived at such a conclusion THAT YOU KNOW contradicts thousands of years of Jewish and Christian teaching?

      Why can't men live to 900+ years in Scripture? What is your basis for claiming that such language MUST be non-literal.

      If you won't simply answer these in a couple of paragraphs, I will delete your comments.

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  26. All you had to do Dan was answer my questions simply and directly. And you refused.

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  27. I don't know what you're asking for, Ed. I've offered my reasons repeatedly. Here, let me walk you through it, step by step...

    Gen 1:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

    This READS like mythology, not like science or history. It is beautiful, poetic, imaginative-sounding, wondrous, mystical, Truth-full sounding... but it does not read like science OR history to me.

    Do you understand that? "In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth..." This sounds like any other myth. Consider...

    "In the beginning there was only the mists. There was no world then, only the white, yellow, blue, black, silver, and red mists floating in the air..."

    Navajo Creation myth

    "When in the height heaven was not named,
    And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
    And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
    And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
    Their waters were mingled together,
    And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen"

    Sumerian Creation myth

    "AT the beginning the world was a waste of water called Nu. and it was the abode of the Great Father. He was Nu, for he was the deep, and he gave being unto the sun god... The god of brightness first appeared as a shining egg which floated upon the water's breast, and the spirits of the deep..."

    Egyptian Creation myth

    I could go on, but do you see the resemblance? How it's more poetic and metaphorical in nature?

    Genesis 1:1 READS like myth, not like science or history. That is evidence, that is a reason to think this.

    What is wrong with this thinking?

    continued...

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    1. I understand you are illegitimately imposing modern categories on the most unique book in all the world. Do you now think it possible that myths may have indeed borrowed from such accounts in ancient oral tradition? Do you think that myths have absolutely NO basis in reality at all, not even the slightest point of contact? That would seem to be a very odd view Dan.

      You seem to be imposing something external to the text upon the text.

      So you first point is that Genesis resembles other myths, therefore it must be myth also. Very, very weak.

      Concerning other creation myths, I hope you understand that such myths should be anticipated given the condition of man. Why should false versions of the true account surprise us?

      It is your attempt to reduce Scripture to the level of these other accounts, hence implying that Scripture is to the Jew what the Navajo myth is to the Indian that your larger problem emerges.

      That is no evidence, Dan. Your argument looks like this:

      1. Genesis 1 sounds like other creation myths.
      2. Therefore, Genesis 1 actually IS myth.

      2 does NOT follow from 1. It is a very bad argument. Competing myths do not serve as evidence against the historicity of Genesis.

      The very troubling problem with your view is that you do not make a distinction between competing myths and the nature of Scripture Dan. Exegetically speaking, we have no reason to take the historicity of Genesis, something that is connected to real, actual, traceable history and turn it into myth.

      Look, you want Genesis to be a myth. You don't want it to be history. That is the problem.

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  28. Moving on, we find the "days of creation" described thusly...

    And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”

    And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.


    "and there was evening and there was morning, the first day..." VERY beautiful, very poetic language. But it doesn't read like history.

    And what rational reason would there be to presume that if God inspired stories of creation, that God would inspire them to be written in a scientific/factually historic manner to a people who were prior to the notions of science or factual history as we moderns speak of history?

    I can continue, but I hope you get the gist. I could continue to point to the "and that is why the serpent crawls..." and the similarity to other myths that do that, but I have already done so.

    So, the gist of my point is that I consider the text to be more mythic, to be employing figurative, poetic language precisely because that is how the text SEEMS to be written and because it precisely does NOT appear to be written in a literally factual manner. So...

    1. Since it SEEMS to be written that way, clearly;
    2. Since there is no hard data to support a demand to take it as a more modern, literal history;
    3. Since this is before the time period of modern history telling;
    4. Since the Bible makes no demands that it must be taken literally - NOT ONE;
    5. Since a literal interpetation would conflict with known science - the natural laws that God created this world to work within;

    Since all of this, I have no reason that I know of to take it literally, OTHER than the tradition of some people. But tradition alone is insufficient grounds when it conflicts with reality as we know it and with the Bible itself.

    What is wrong, specifically, with this answer? How is it in any way more demeaning or "twisting" of Scripture to say this than whatever reason you would offer for the still-unanswered "four winds" question? I suspect that if you DID answer the "four winds" question, your answer would be almost identical to mine: We simply have no reason to demand it must be literal and plenty of reason to expect - even KNOW - that it can't be literal.

    That is my answer, it is a reasoned answer, respectfully submitted. If you disagree, that's fine, but tell me what specifically is rationally or biblically mistaken about my answer, because I honestly can see no mistakes in my reasoning.

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ed...

    Why can't men live to 900+ years in Scripture? What is your basis for claiming that such language MUST be non-literal.


    Because, in the real world, the human body is not physiologically capable of living that long. Ask any doctor and they'll tell you. Given, then, that it's not a possibility in the real world - just as it's not possible that the world is a flat rectangle with "four corners" - and given that I have no reason to think it should be taken literally, I simply have no reason to take it literally. The Bible does not demand it, the text does not demand it, reason demands against it, data demands against it.

    But do I state that other people "MUST" agree with me on this point? No, if you want to believe in 900 year old people sans any evidence, knock yerself out. I'll politely disagree, that's all. No, you are the one that is insisting that others MUST agree with your position. What is your basis for claiming that people MUST agree with your literal opinion?

    ReplyDelete
  30. And why would you delete a reasonable question like: On what basis do you ban people?

    How can I know what NOT to do if you won't provide a guideline for holding a conversation with you?

    I've been respectful.
    I've been loving.
    I have not demanded that you MUST agree with me if you want to be a Christian.
    I have not suggested disagreeing with me is the same as twisting the Bible.
    I have merely respectfully offered my opinions and politely asked questions that I believe point to holes in your reasoning - questions that have often gone unanswered.

    What am I doing wrong to cause you to want to ban me?

    How can people know unless you tell them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are not banned Dan. You are always welcome to comment on other topics that I blog about. I am just at the end of this one.

      Delete
  31. Your argument looks like this:

    1. Genesis 1 sounds like other creation myths.
    2. Therefore, Genesis 1 actually IS myth.

    2 does NOT follow from 1. It is a very bad argument. Competing myths do not serve as evidence against the historicity of Genesis.


    And is your argument not the same...

    Your argument looks like this:

    1. Genesis 1 reads like history (to me).
    2. Therefore, Genesis 1 actually IS history.

    2 does NOT follow from 1. It is a very bad argument. Competing myths do not serve as evidence against the historicity of Genesis.

    And that is not the sum total of my argument.

    My argument is

    1. Genesis reads like myth and poetic/figurative language (and as a point of fact, it does, it is very similar to other myths)
    2. Genesis does NOT read like literal factual history (this is a matter of opinion, I suppose)
    3. There are no known - not one - examples of modern linear literally factual history prior to ~500 BC - 500 AD
    4. The Bible makes no demands that Genesis must be taken literally
    5. If a text reports something outside/beyond known factual data, it is much more likely that the text is employing figurative language of some sort, since known data is demonstrable;
    6. Anyone insisting that supernatural events should be taken literally, the onus is on them to support the claim;
    7. YOU almost certainly agree with these last two, as you would disagree with anyone demanding that a literal interpretation of "four corners" MUST be taken literally.

    Given all of that, and given that you almost certainly agree with my reasoning process on the text of "four corners," I have no reason to think that Adam's story MUST be taken literally and if one does not take it literally, one is as an infidel or a liar.

    Ed...

    you want Genesis to be a myth. You don't want it to be history. That is the problem.

    Again, factually mistaken. I believed in a literal Genesis. I did NOT "want" it to be a myth, in fact, the notion was a bit troubling to me, as it was contrary to the human traditions I was immersed in. But ultimately, the traditions did not hold up to more rational, biblical examination.

    You really could clear this up by telling us all: On what basis would you disagree with the notion of a literal "four corners..."?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan, that is not my argument. I introduced the Christian tradition, literally thousands of years of history, theology, and confessions. I introduced genealogies, genre, other references to Adam, etc. You appeal to extra biblical sources as if they are even relevant. They are not.

      The debate is over as is the conversation. There is no end to it. Nothing I say will get you to believe. I am sure you are a likable guy Dan. I think you are very pleasant. But we cannot continue this quibble...at least not on this subject. Perhaps you will find my next post stimulating as well.

      Delete
  32. In case Dan and Anonymous are still reading comments, I will post a final piece on why Genesis 1-5 is historical narrative as opposed to parable. That post will provide a brief summary of the argument. It will not convince either man to move from their position because they operate from the standpoint of unbelief. That is to say, their view is not based on strong evidence, literary analysis, exegetical investigation, or any other method of handling the biblical text. It is based on a prior philosophical commitment, a deeply held belief that neither of them can afford to give up for fear that doing so will compromise their worldview.

    ReplyDelete

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