Caveats & Continuance

Good morning friends – – much later in the day than I normally write.

Before the day’s errands and activities I wanted to presage my return to Romans tomorrow.  It’s been one quarter of a year since I last wrote about Christianity’s greatest letter.  Russell asked me to pause and address some of the caveats and limitations to this approach.

At the foundation, Romans 1 speaks of a supernatural God.

My caveats:

1)  There may not be a supernatural anything – – I believe that there is, but you are not obliged to join that belief.  By definition I cannot provide natural evidence for the supernatural – – that would betray a misunderstanding of the dichotomy – – if there is one.  Neither do I understand the beauty and reality of mathematics at its most abstract, but I trust that many theories of reality are more likely to be true because the mathematics is beautiful – – before empiric proof is offered.

2)  Scripture may not be reliable – – I believe that it is, but you are not obliged to join that belief.  The detour into the phraseology of inerrancy was a useful one to me.  The words that I’ll stand with are inspired (God breathed) and profitable (useful).  That’s what scripture says about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16 (my second favorite 3:16 verse in the New Testament).  I’ve entertained arguments from the ridiculous (Jesus is a fictional character and the whole of scripture is a successful conspiracy) to the sublime (did God change or change his approach to us as he allowed us to evolve?).

3)  Saints may be hypocrites – – I believe that many (myself chief amongst them) are.  Is that a defect in conception or execution?  I argue the latter.

4)  I don’t see a conflict between science, philosophy, or faith.  I’ve read the classic about evolutionary psychology and largely agree.  I’ve also immersed myself in history and the study of other faiths.  I’m metacognitively aware of the influence of my upbringing, although I likely grossly underestimate it.  So, my bad nature could be explained by my selfish genes or by sin.  My good nature could be explained by kin selection or by redemption and the Holy Spirit.  The fact remains that I am broken and seek mending.  Others do too.

My continuance:

What do I find in Romans?  The big: now what?  Why present it here?

I’m doing my best to erect an honest interpretation of one portion of scripture that commands my conscience and guides my life.  Either believers or skeptics can call me out if its made of straw.  The reason I presented my caveats?  I don’t propose to resolve God’s existence by the arguments of my short lifetime.  But I do need a way to live now and I believe that following Christ offers me a life worth living — examined, thoughtful, saturated with a care for justice and mercy.  You may not share my urgency.  You may offer other ways to live well, and honestly I hope you do.  I’ll borrow from the best parts and agree wherever I can.  But why not present the reasons I have, the best that I know how?

Tomorrow:  Romans 2: 4-5

Pascal

–1:16

 

3 comments

  1. “I’ve entertained arguments from the ridiculous […] to the sublime […]”

    Your example of a “ridiculous” argument is one I would like to discuss more–I’ve heard this argued before in a way that deserves a response. Also, to someone who has never explored it, Christianity might sound quite ridiculous, too.

    It’s a strong word, and it slams doors in faces. It’s even kind of belittling—what does it say about my intelligence if I struggle with an argument you deem ridiculous (without a post fully addressing it, at least not to my recollection). I know that slamming doors or making readers feel belittled is not your intent here and not at all who you are–just telling you as a “friend” how it might be perceived by some.

    Gentleness and respect 🙂
    -CC

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    1. From the ridiculous to the sublime is an idiom that was popular in my parents’ day, and I was their youngest child. Using it makes me feel older than I already do.

      No CC — I’m not trying to inflame or offend. But I have entertained the argument seriously and put more time into it than most who make it. Studying history is indeed a pleasure and has boundary conditions similar to engineering or science. The argument that Jesus was fictional is pretty soundly refuted by Will Durant who is my favorite historian.

      Why isn’t anyone arguing that Plato is fictional? The door isn’t slammed, and the argument can develop. I’m probably on better ground when I address my own arguments, but occasionally content requires conclusions. I’ll hold the conclusion open and agree that I could be wrong. For someone seeking reasons not to believe – – there are much better ones to address.

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      1. Since I’m seeking reasons TO believe, not reasons NOT TO believe, I’ll read Durant—and then we can open up the conversation.

        Glad to see you back in Romans!

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