Saturday, December 24, 2011

It Really Happened

Sometimes the reality of something takes time to “hit home” with me. The reality and significance of another sibling getting married, for instance… We live in such a fast-paced fleeting society that the significance of things often fails to “stick.”

That’s not necessarily a problem. But it certainly can be!

We tend to be shortsighted toward the future and toward the past, living in the moment, allowing our sense of identity and place to slip away unchecked. Let’s take some time to consider where we fall in God’s redemptive history. Consider the reality of what He did through Christ’s incarnation – what that event meant for the human race. I must admit that, oftentimes, I take Scripture as a strictly theological resource (it certainly is that!) and forget that it is also intensely historical.

These things actually happened in time and space. Christ was born of Mary, lived a perfect life, suffered, died, and rose again that I might be reconciled with God; what a glorious reality!

 Try not to get caught up in trite symbolism this Christmas. Celebrate Christ and what He did for us!
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 ESV)


Phineas said...

Do you really expect anyone to take your blog seriously? Okay, except for the band of fundamentalists, who'll likely agree with your every word and take it, pardon the expression, 'as gospel.'

You cite theology as a personal interest. Perhaps so. But that is certainly not what you're doing here. No discerning theologian--and I have known plenty--would ever unequivocally state the contents of the Bible as fact, historic or otherwise. Any reasonable theologian, and even many believers, are wise enough to understand and accept the undercurrents of belief. To wit, belief and fact, and indeed reality, are not synonymous.

I'm not writing to be critical of your belief system. I'm suggesting that you temper your language to reflect actual facts, where they occur. Believe it or not, it will make you a stronger advocate. And it will show wisdom. People respect that, even when they may disagree.

A couple years ago, a friend asked me what time of day Jesus was crucified. After some initial embarrassment that I didn't already know, I did a little research. I answered thusly:

"According to Bible,..."

That's quite a bit different than simply saying: "3 pm. That's a fact."

As hard as it may be to do, you have got to rid yourself of the notion that the Bible 'proves' itself. That is not, by any measure, among the methods we use to constitute proof.

If His indeed is the glory, He won't mind you having enough doubt to make journey to him an authentic one.

Best of luck in that journey.

Benjamin Berkompas said...

Thanks for the comment Phineas. I would like to respond more in depth later, but for now let me just ask you this:

What you're telling me is that the stand-out feature of good theology is to always ask, "Hath God really said?"

Sounds a bit like someone we read about in Genesis 3...

More later.

Phineas said...

Am I to assume that question is rhetorical? And that the reference to the serpent is supposed to be cute? Because any reading of my second paragraph should provide the answer to your question.

It is not about questioning God--that is an entirely separate matter, which I'd happily discuss. As for what I would consider the stand-out feature of good theology, that too, is an altogether separate question.

Benjamin Berkompas said...

It wasn't intended to be rhetorical or cute.

Let me ask you a few quick questions so I can better understand where you're coming from:

1) In your view, what is reality? Can different people experience different "realities?" Is it an objective thing?

2) Do you adhere to any particular faith system?

3) What methods do/can we use to constitute proof?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Phineas said...

I would be happy to answer those and any others in due course of a discussion. They are all good and fair questions. But thus far, I have made an assertion to which you've only responded with questions, none of which are relevant to your response.

I realize you said you'd write more in-depth later, which is entirely understandable. But at this point, questions of my beliefs and faith shouldn't in any way influence your answer.

For my part, I can assure you that I will enjoin your questions after and independent of your in-depth reply.

Benjamin Berkompas said...

I haven't had time yet to address your original comment in-depth; my questions were not intended as a prerequisite for my promised response, but simply to figure out where you're coming from. You claimed that none of my questions were relevant to my response. Perhaps not. Perhaps they don't bear directly on my ability to respond, but they will certainly help me determine where to steer this discussion as we move forward.

For instance, if you and I disagree fundamentally on the definition of "reality," I will need to spend some extra time addressing that so you're clear what I believe.

Plus, you've had more opportunity to learn about what I believe by reading my past blog entries, while I'm fairly certain I don't know you and consequently have very little information to go on. If you write a blog or something like that, I'd be happy to read it.

I would like to view this as more of a conversation between you and I, and less of a "formal" debate (i.e. I present my arguments, you respond to those, I cross-examine, etc.). All in good order, of course. Sound good?

I plan on taking your original comment and addressing it in another post soon.

Take care

Phineas said...

Understood. I certainly have no objection to a conversational, less formal exchange.

I believe I understand your reaction to my reluctance to answer your questions before any detailed response on your part. Your motive for asking is fair enough; however, I still believe your response should indeed be made without foreknowledge, other that that which you already know via our brief exchanges thus far.

And don't worry about how deep to go in your answer, as that is entirely up to you. If I need clarification, I'll request it. If I need elaboration, I will so inquire.

I am under no illusion: I have made a charge that you are unwise to state the contents of the Holy Bible as historic fact. But while it may sound firm, it is not with malicious intent.

And that, it seems to me, is the heart of the matter: I have made a charge to which you're going to respond. In so doing, I expect that there could be instruction, a rebuttal, explanation, and more questions.

I am eager to have your views on reality, what constitutes proof, and so on. They will be, unless you're planning to adopt the definition of others, yours. Though likely adapted from countless generations which came before us, they will still be yours because they have been filtered through your particular understanding.

It doesn't seem to be the case, but if you tell me that it's necessary for you to have the answers, I'll provide them.

You're infinitely aware of my views on that topic, so I'll leave it up to you.

You're correct, you don't know me; nor I you. I know from your blog that you espouse Christianity, and that you're a talented artist, and virtually nothing else. But none of it informs me what makes you uniquely you. There are lots of artists and professed Christians. But none but you can be you. That's the important part.

Steve R. said...

Dear Phineas

The answer to your question is found in Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction (1:7).

Your admonition to Ben regarding his belief in the Bible as fact can only resonate from someone who does not start at the place where all knowledge resonates from. There are so many things in life both present and past that cannot be proven, yet we know they exist(ed) and are fact. Prove Hitler existed. You cannot unless you believe and have faith in pictures, writings, witnesses etc., and yet there are those today who are questioning the existence of the holocaust!

For more in depth answers I encourage you to visit this link If you are truly interested in honest debate, this link will answer many of your questions regarding the Bible's fact.

2nd Peter 1 adds additional light on the subject.

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

If you are putting such emphasis on Ben to prove the Bible is fact, I think it equally important for you to prove that it is not!

You might find this harder to do than your post would suggest. But I warn you, you might find things that you might not be prepared to encounter. God has a way of dealing with those who seek to disprove Him. Read the story of Paul before you take that step.

Steve R.

PS. Just for the record...I do not belong to any "band of fundamentalists" as you suggest for those who might have a different view from yours! sr

Phineas said...

Dear Steve R.,

Thank you for weighing in. I appreciate the interest, even though this blog is owned by another. Ben seems like a considerate individual; as such, I hope he won’t mind us ‘borrowing’ his forum for our brief exchange.

With respect, your post is not the answer to my question.

If “...fear of the Lord...” is truly the beginning of knowledge, then you are correct: I clearly do not begin at that place. You may believe that such fear is the basis for knowledge; I happily acknowledge your belief. However, as you might expect, I find that notion awfully presumptuous, and worse, distasteful.

Your use of Biblical verse to support itself has been around for centuries, but never has it escaped the charge of circular reasoning. It is not a commonly accepted practice to rely on sources to prove or define themselves. Rarely, if ever, will you see a root word in the dictionary use itself as part of the definition. But beyond that, no thinking man would ever pick up a book that opens with the line: “Everything you read herein is absolutely 100% true” without giving the alternative serious consideration. Neither should that skepticism be absent in the presence of the Bible. I don’t know of any Biblical scholar who hasn’t questioned the veracity of the scriptures.

You mentioned that “...things in life both present and past...cannot be proven...yet we know they exist...” We may agree that these ‘things’ are rooted in reality (a reality unknown to us). But they have nothing to do with facts we cannot prove. No question, terms like ‘fact’ and ‘proof’ have taken on lives of their own. You and I may (and probably do) disagree on what constitutes ‘proof,’ for it is largely based in a convention which we collectively define. But we may agree on the factual proof of Hitler’s existence. So, ‘proof,’ though somewhat elusive in a philosophical sense, definitely has it’s applications.

Contrary to your assertion, it is a time-honored tradition that the burden of proof falls upon the individual making the claim. To insist otherwise is to rely upon an argumentum ad ignorantium (“appeal to ignorance”), a form of argument which basically infers that something must be true until proven false. The same logical fallacy applies in the reverse, when one asserts that something is false because it has not been proven true. Ben made the claim, “These things actually happened...”; that puts the burden squarely on his shoulders.

As for how God deals with those who seek to disprove Him (nothing I ever asserted I am out to do, by the way), or what I like to call the “threat of Christianity,”: that alone should give any rational person pause before accepting Christianity as ‘fact’ or otherwise.

As I’ve indicated heretofore, I’m not out to suggest that anyone is wrong in their belief, or faith. Mine are questions of what constitutes fact, and whether the Bible can be construed as such. Put simply, I’m looking for more than: “The Bible is fact. The Bible says so.” Which is why I’m glad Ben agreed to tackle the topic.

Thank you again for your participation. Perhaps we’ll hear from Ben soon.