Eight ways evangelicals are driving Americans to atheism

@Jonathan_Burke, @Eddie - please stop with the personal attacks about each other’s credentials or personal history and keep focused on the issues at hand, otherwise it will be better for us to close this thread.


20 posts were split to a new topic: The value of a theology degree

Yes, yes, it is.

If you want to simplify it. I don’t really have much time right now, but Gregory also quoted Ezekiel in support of allegorical reading of the stated event. He saw an obvious difference between the teachings of the prophets (particularly, Ezekiel), something he called rationality, and the above mentioned plague, he called that history. Really, I don’t think I can give justice to Gregory here. If you have time, I recommend reading Gregory’s ‘Commentary on the Song of Songs’ and ‘Life of Moses’ to get his whole vision.

Perhaps you might think so, but it’s a completely valid view in Eastern Orthodoxy. Most of us, however, do reject the view that Christ died so God could forgive mankind. Here’s our view:

The article is written by Fr. Al Kimel, quotations by Fr. Herbert McCabe.

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Atonement Models: Christus Victor, et al

Is their any evidence they took an allegorical reading to the exclusion of a historical reading? It seems that the two are not necessarily in conflict.


Origen certainly didn’t take seven days of creation literary. It’s possible, if not likely, that he believed in literal Adam, though:

For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally

As for Gregory, he didn’t go as far as to say that Exodus was ahistorical, but he did say that it wouldn’t be an issue if it was:

Do not be surprised at all if both things – the death of the firstborn and the pouring out of the blood – did not happen to the Israelites and on that account reject the contemplation which we have proposed concerning the destruction of evil as if it were a fabrication without any truth.

So, it’s possible that Origen believed in literal Adam and Gregory in literal Exodus.

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I don’t know what fundamentalists are like in Australia. I do know what they are like in North America. I’ve lived here all my life.

Very, very few of the fundamentalists I have met pay much attention “historic creeds and confessions.” Most of them belong to small sects (SDA, JW, Christadelphian, etc.) which reject much of historic Christian doctrine, or go to small congregational-model churches which have very little in the way of a denominational confession (compared with the Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican etc. confessions). Most of them go to churches where at most one of the Creeds (the Apostle’s) is ever read in services, and often not even that. Some of them subscribe to a pan-denominational confession such as the Westminster, but even there, that is not a distinctive of fundamentalists, since some other Protestants (who might call themselves traditional or evangelical but not fundamentalist) also subscribe to the Westminster confession. More generally, fundamentalists tend be extreme “Bible-only” folks who have little use for tradition as such, hierarchy, learned theology, etc.; their attitude is “All I need is me and God and my Bible, and I can interpret it just fine without linguistic knowledge or theological training.”

On historical-critical method, I don’t know how broadly or loosely you are using the term, but fundamentalists who object to it usually see it (and it often has been used that way, in German, British, and American scholarship) as claiming that the Bible is a book whose composition and transmission has been riddled with human decisions and human errors, and thus is not one that can easily be seen as divinely inspired. And their reaction is entirely logical.

Of course, as I said, some historical-critical insights can be useful to people of faith. But no one who has spent as much time on the history of Biblical scholarship as I have can doubt that historical-critical study has often been employed to undermine Christian (and Jewish) faith. I know also of many Jews who lost their faith due to historical-critical scholarship regarding Mosaic authorship (and related concerns about the text).

Yes, most fundamentalists reject evolution. But their rejection, regardless of any scientific arguments they offer, is required by their method of reading Genesis. Since I don’t subscribe to that method, I am not bound to reject evolution. And I haven’t. You have failed to provide even a single statement of mine that rejects “evolution” understood as “descent with modification” (a definition Joshua accepts as a reasonable one).

I would not say that fundamentalists in principle (though often they do in practice) put “theology” ahead of science. Theology as a mere human construct, they give no authority to whatsoever; hence you own denomination’s rejection of so many cardinal tenets of the Church’s historic faith. But the Bible they regard as wholly inspired and without error. Therefore, any temporary conclusion of scientists that appears to them to contradict the Bible, they regard as erroneous. They reason that human beings, in trying to interpret nature, can make errors, but God in the Bible makes no errors. Again, this is a reasonable line of thought. Where I disagree with them is over their method of interpreting the Bible.

My question stands. I know of no theological position expressed in any denomination or confession which does not put at least some things beyond debate for those who subscribe to it. I know of no historical Christian group which says, “We will believe in the Bible wherever it leads us, even if it leads us to reject much of the historical Christian faith we learned in Sunday school from our parents, elders, and most revered pastors” – and consistently follows through with that program. You might be able to point to individuals who have done so, but for any sect, church, denomination, etc. to do so would be like playing Russian roulette. It’s a recipe for theological anarchy, as each individual church member takes the responsibility for doctrine solely into his own hands.

As you pointed out, though with a different purpose in mind, the history of Protestantism is largely a history of this anarchy, not a history of coming together. How many denominations and theologies were there in Luther’s day? And how many today? We know from the attitude of Luther and Calvin toward Anabaptists etc. that “pluralism” in Biblical interpretation was not an idea they upheld; nor did they think (as modern Americans often seem to think) that any truck driver who decides that he understands the book of Revelation (based on his understanding of King James English, and zero historical or linguistic study) should be allowed to publish, teach, or preach in Christian territories. They certainly maintained that the church had an authoritative function regarding doctrine, even if the way doctrine was arrived at was more Scripture-based than previously. But all of that is scrapped when the evangelical truck driver’s vision of Revelation is regarded as equally sound as the learned theologies of Luther, Calvin, etc. Neither Luther nor Calvin were “fundamentalists” in the current American sense of the term, though of course they were more conservative and traditional than many of their modern successors in Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, and other churches which they directly or indirectly founded.

I agree, but the position of Origen is not necessarily the position of the Eastern Orthodox Church on all matters.

But he strongly suggests that it wasn’t, at least, in the passages you’ve provided.

Eastern Orthodoxy is dogmatically minimalist, and it doesn’t have a dogma concerning whether Adam was a literal first man or not. That’s why, in Orthodoxy, you’ll find more no-Adam theologians than anywhere else, save, perhaps, the Church of England.

He suggests that God-ordained murder of first born children is ahistorical, not entire Exodus.

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I’m not trying to be aggressive here, but I can’t see the difference between saying that something is “ahistorical” and that it is “a story that someone just made up.” And if one is entitled to reject the historicity of all parts of the Bible one finds theologically offensive by saying that they are “stories someone just made up,” I don’t see how that principle can be contained and limited to certain passages of the Old Testament. For example, many find the story of Jesus and the fig tree to be offensive. So can we conclude that the event never happened, that it was put in there only as a spiritual allegory of something or other? What principles does Gregory supply to make sure that denials of historicity don’t get out of hand?

I’m not blaming you personally for Gregory’s claims, but since you cited him, apparently with approval, I’m trying to probe a little deeper. Please don’t take this as a personal attack on you or on Orthodoxy (which, based on my non-expert acquaintance, I admire in many respects).

For this one, he draws from, as I said, Ezekiel. Specifically:

The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Mind you, Gregory does take allegory further than this. But that’s something I don’t want to get into right now.

No offence taken.

I don’t contest this, though I expect that the common understanding of most E.O. adherents for centuries was that he was.

Further, I doubt that Orthodoxy thinks that the doctrine of Trinity is open for negotiation. Yet there are Protestants of a sectarian kind who are convinced that the Trinity is an unwarranted imposition of Greek-style metaphysics upon Biblical teaching. They reject the Trinity on the grounds of “Scripture alone.” I don’t think Orthodoxy is onside with that reading of the Bible. Indeed, if the Orthodox Church became convinced of such a reading of the Bible, it would have to dissolve itself, admitting its nearly 2,000-year position to be the result of a massive theological error. And this comes back to my original point, that in every official Christian position, there are non-negotiables. Thus, Burke’s complaint (expressed by quoting Noll etc.) against “apologetics rather than scholarship” could be applied against any theological position or church doctrine, in principle. Every confession, denomination, etc. contains academic and intellectual pursuits within certain parameters. If everything were open for debate in Christianity, then Christianity would be nothing but Socratic philosophizing. The distinction between sound theology and agenda-driven apologetics is actually very hard to maintain, and that is the point I was making to Burke.



Well, I suppose it is a matter of taste. But if I spent two years watching people fail to convince YECs on the idea that a “day” was equal to “eons”… then an analysis saying nobody actually died in the final plague of Exodus seems WAYYYYY over the top!


Ah, okay. Yeah, Trinity is not negotiable.

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I’m not sure how you would “weigh” Gregory’s position: he says, no first born were literally killed in the 10th plague … and that the term “first born” is a figurative reference to the sources or triggers of evil… not to real people.

Perhaps buried in the details, Gregory suggests the 10th plague merely gave the first born a case of flu and fever (to support the historical reality that SOMETHING happened)… but I don’t know the details enough to know how he answers the question of what the 10th plague looked like to the Egyptians and the Hebrew.

But, in my view, it seems clear that Gregory proposes a figurative interpretation that does exclude a historical reading … nobody died… something non-human died, or symbolically died.

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And it’s fair for Gregory to refer to another passage from the Bible. I don’t criticize him for doing so. Naturally a theologian will try to make everything in the Bible fit. The problem arises only when he suggests that what looks like a historical account of the plague upon the first-born isn’t actually a historical account. It forces him to conclude either “The author of Exodus just made up a story that isn’t true about God, and we aren’t obligated to treat that debased picture of God as inspired,” or “The story is true on a spiritual level even though it never really happened.” But if he takes the latter route, then he has to provide the “spiritual” meaning of slaughtering the first-born. The little bit I saw in the article wasn’t very convincing regarding the “spiritual” meaning.

Ok so you seem completely unaware of the Charismatics, Pentecostals, evangelicals, Baptists (especially the Southern Baptists), and other large, denominational, confessional churches.

Yep, this flags you as a fundamentalist. Everything about your theology, your hermeneutical approach, your opposition to evolution, and your opposition to the historical critical method, just screams “pre-modern”.


You can’t conceal the fact that you reject evolution.

  1. You’re an outspoken cdesignproponentist.
  2. You argue consistently against evolution.
  3. You defend ID as opposed to evolution.
  4. You refuse to accept the modern evolutionary synthesis.
  5. You repeatedly use weasel words to try and make it sound like you don’t reject evolution, when all your actions show otherwise. Hiding behind a minimalist definition of “descent with modification” highlights this distinctly.

But often they do in practice; you said it right there. And you do the same. You’re a fundamentalist.

My original comment was this.

Evangelicas are strongly encouraged to ensure their theological conclusions agree with evangelical creeds and preconceptions,and strongly discouraged from independent thought which may result in disagreement with mainstream evangelical thought.

You asked " How is this different from any brand of Christian theology?". I gave you several examples of Christian churches and groups which don’t follow this, which permit independent thought even if it disagrees with the church’s confessional theology. You didn’t address any of them.

Now you’re retreating to " I know of no theological position expressed in any denomination or confession which does not put at least some things beyond debate for those who subscribe to it". Very telling.

The rest of what you wrote is typical pre-modern (even pre-Renaissance), thinking; “Obey the church, obey your theological masters, believe the creeds, you have no business thinking for yourself, obey, obey”.


93 posts were split to a new topic: Eddie, Evolution, and Consensus

I think there is something more basic going on. I think it has more to do with how people came into the faith to begin with. This is my own speculation on the matter that involves some ill-formed armchair psychology, so everyone can feel free to disagree.

I think there are those who join the church because of tradition and a need for authority. Some of them grew up in the church, and they may be there just because of life’s momentum. Others are looking for something to guide their lives, and they latch onto biblical authority as a set of rules to follow. These types of people can be chased away from the church if the actions of other Christians and certain theologies call that authority and tradition into question.

Then there are those who have a spiritual or religious experience. For them, it isn’t about the physical church or the human congregation. I think this group is much less susceptible to the problems listed at the website you cited.

Like I said, these are my own flawed and probably wrong insights into the issue, but perhaps others can find a nugget of wisdom in there somewhere.


6 posts were split to a new topic: The value of Wikipedia