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Sunday, July 6, 2008

"When Your Number Is Up" or "Sydney Episcopalian Diocese Set to Deny Physical Birth of Jesus Christ".

It's interesting what you find when you delve back through your collection of books amassed over decades of Christian life. Sometimes you can't remember from where you purchased a particular book and why you purchased it.

Well such was the circumstance when I found a book in my cupboard written by F.C. Payne as the 14th edition in 1978. The book is called "The Seal of God". In his book, the author goes into much detail about the significance of numbers in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The author presents his case that the high concentration of number sequences in both the Hebrew and Greek testify to the Divine inspiration of Scripture and the utilization of various authors over more than a millennium and who, by separation of time, could not have contrived their writings to present such unity of number sequences. I don't know the theology of F.C. Payne and I have not, in the past, made use of his propositions in my theology. I do note now, though, that nowhere does he deny the historicity of Scripture because of number sequences etc contained therein.

Contrast Payne's position with that of John Dickson and his disciples in the Sydney Episcopalian Diocese. These folk see number sequences, in particular the recurrence of the number seven (7), and automatically their brain slips into autodrive repeating "ahistorical", "ahistorical".

Well, in the sight of F.C Payne at least, for John Dickson and his disciples to be thoroughly consistent in their theology they must dismiss the wealth of historical narrative of Scripture widely accepted by the Church.

For example, the ministry of John the Baptist recorded in Mark 1: 1-8 and in John must, be rejected as history because of its overuse of the number seven (7). F.C. Payne provides the following:

"The words number 126 (18-7's)
And the syllables are 294 (42-7's)
The words in the vocabulary number 77 (sum 14) (11-7's)
The letters in the vocabulary number 427 (61-7's)
The vowels in the 427 letters are 224 (32-7's)
The consonants 203 (29-7's)
The vocabulary words used by John are 21 (3-7's)
Which leaves 56 (8-7's)
Those beginning with a vowel are 42 (6-7's)
Those beginning with a consonant 35 (5-7's)"

Payne also applies his mind to the birth of Christ recorded in Matthew 1: 18-25:

"The number of Greek words is exactly 161 (23-7's)
The numeric value of these is exactly 93,394 (13,342-7's)
The number of vocabulary words is exactly 77 (11-7's)
The numeric value of these is exactly 51,247 (7,321-7's)

Here we have a perfect, double, interlocked design covering every word and letter,which must remain constant, whilst the following designs are woven into it, and not a single letter can be altered:

There are six Greek words which are found nowhere else in Matt.

Their numeric value is exactly 5,005 (715-7's)
These six Greek words have exactly 56 letters (8-7's)

Now the first two verses, a natural division, (6-7's)
having exactly 42 words leaving 119 (17-7's)

The last verse, another natural division,
has exactly 14 words (2-7's)
leaving 147 (3-7's of 7's)

Again, the 161 words occur in 105 forms (15-7's)
The numeric value of these forms is exactly 65,429 (9,347-7's)
In these 105 forms are exactly 35 verbs (5-7's)
There are exactly 7 Proper names (7)
The number of letters in these 7 names is exactly 42 (6-7's)
There is one word 'Emanuel' used nowhere else
in the N.T.; its numeric value is 644 (92-7's)
The sum of its figures is 14 (2-7's)
Their numeric value is exactly 8,715 (1,245-7's)

Now we have another remarkable occurrence.

The angel speaks to Joseph, and although his words
form another pattern of their own, they fit exactly
into the whole!

In speaking to Joseph the angel uses of the 77 vocabulary
words exactly 28 (4-7's)
The numeric value of all the angel's words is
exactly 21,042 (3,006-7's)
The angel uses exactly 35 forms (5-7's)
These 35 forms have exactly 168 letters (24-7's)
The numeric value of these letters is
exactly 19,397 (2,771-7's)
Now the angel in using exactly 28 of the
vocabulary words leaves exactly 49 (7-7's)
In using exactly 35 forms he leaves exactly 70 (10-7's)
The sum of the figures 70 is 7, and its factors
7 + 2 + 5 is 14 (2-7's)

This by no means exhausts the passage but enough has been
shown here to show us that the design in it is not there by chance."


In light of the stance taken by John Dickson and his disciples on Genesis 1 - its high usage of the number 7 - and their subsequent consigning of this passage of Scripture to the category "ahistory", they must naturally reject the birth history of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, "No!" I hear you say, "Because, the other gospel accounts testify to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ." Nay, Nay, I say because John Dickson and his disciples have introduced an anti-Reformation methodology for interpreting Scripture. They will not allow Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17 help interpret Genesis 1 so they cannot allow the other gospel accounts to help interpret the circumstance of the appearance of Jesus Christ on earth, let alone in human form.

This dog's breakfast theology is set to drive the Sydney Episcopalian Diocese into oblivion. Take warning!

Sam

110 comments:

John said...

Dave, what say you?

Dave, what say you?

Dave, what say you?

Dave, what say you?

Dave, what say you?

Dave, what say you?

Dave, what say you?

Dissenter said...

Hi. sorry to be off topic here, buut I clicked on your link to 'Spetner's work' which took me to 'Darwinismrefuted.com'. This is an Islamic site.

It contains a large amount of very good science against the Darwin mythos, mostly lifted from ID sources, but I'm not sure if you are are (forgive me if you have said elsewhere, I haven't searched the whole site) that this is an Islamic web site which denies Jesus is the Christ ans also contains some anti-Israel material and appeals to convert to Islam?

Far be it from me to say don't link to this site, I link to it (with a warning and disclaimer) from my http://www.questiondarwin.com site, but the Islamic nature of the site is not immediately apparent and people who click on the link might not be aware of it.

PS I like Spetner, great writer.

CASE - now with holiness said...

These number people are always a bit nuts - after all they are the conspiracy theorists of theism (already a rather nutty collection of people).

PS:- evolution is the most likely answer to the origin of humans. It remains a theory because scientists are not proud enough to boast anything is absolute. Theists on the other hand are not sufficiently humble to question their own absolute - that of faith.

Eric said...

A few comments:
1: thanks for the comments from Spetners site, as you say, we can't control his links, tho'.

2. the number stuff is interesting: that the analysis can be made is curious. I think it might be one of these things that is so deeply culturally embedded that we miss the issue. I understand for ancient Jews the number stuff was very important.

Still, the point that is being made, a rather sly one, is that if one holds that a number system equates with a-historicity, then the standard is also applicable in the NT, as Sam has shown.

As to evolution: why is it the 'most likely' answer? That seems purely arbitrary; otoh, I think that special creation is the most likely answer...now where does that lead us? It requires a review of the evidence and the surrounding world-view to untangle.

The status of 'evolution' as theory or not is really neither here nor there: science is 'theory' from start to finish; theory is really all we have. It is not that scientists are not 'proud', but that methodologically theories as intellectual constructs are how science frames its discourse.

Now, if you think 'science' is not proud, just check the battle Arp has had in his work critical of the 'big bang' group of theories.

Anyway, evolution is a research hypothesis, not a theory. In Popperian terms, what is the criterion of falsifiability? Now, I am aware the Popper's approach is contested, but I think is post hoc criterion for 'theory' is not too bad. After all, it seems that if 'evolution accommodates every counter fact, then it doesn't explain anything' and there we see its undoing!

Theists...well, I'm not just any old theist, I'm a Christian: a particular sort of theist; 'faith' is not 'absolute (whatever that means) but is contingent on the words and actions of God...faith comes as the result of questioning, not in its absence. And everyone has faith: life is impossible without it; the only question is the object of one's faith and the credibility of that object for the 'faith-moment' it provides.

Eric said...

Other thoughts...
The whole idea behind Dickson's claim that the use of literary devises renders an account non-historical is quite arbitrary. All accounts include some form of literary device, if only to structure the account.

I was looking at Kay's paper over the weekend and he takes one particular device: chiasmus and quotes a scholar who points out that this was a pretty typical structuring device used in the absence of modern typographic conventions. So its like saying that any account that uses punctuation is necessarily a-historical! Yep, the Dickson view is that dumb.

Dickson also misses the big point: historical claims are determined from the text as a whole: one of the features of historical reportage is chronological reference. Genesis is full of it; its all about history from go to whoa and uses language and structures to make sure this is obvious; to everyone except Dickson, it seems. That he fails to deal with the historic markers is a further nail in his coffin of dismal hermaneutic. That is, a hermeneutic that one and a half centuries late carries on the work of post enlightenment liberalism: he's even failed to understand his own historical context and its pre-conceived opposition to orthodox readings of the Bible!!

Warwick said...

Eric, as I have said before the T/E claims are not based on a straight-forward reading of Scripture, not that it cannot be read that way, but that they are forced to read it their 'literary devices' way because their starting assumptions (i.e evolution is a proven fact)are wrong.

Also they don't seem at all concerned that their reinterpretation of Genesis destroys one of the 10 Commandments or that Jesus and the Apostles understanding of Genesis contradicts theirs.

On another site I took part in an argument about the nature of God- is the trinity a fact or not? Quite a few argued against the trinity but weakened after time and solid argument, from various bloggers. One however,(a JW I believe)would not concede one point because he could not, as his JW 'world-view' would not allow him to accept this, no matter what Biblical evidence was given. He was 'blown out of the water' but would not quit and accept the obvious because he could not. Neither can the SAD T/E's. I have met a few of the T/E scientists within the SAD and remember an argument between one and Dr Wieland of CMI. No matter what point he brought up Dr Wieland was easily able to refute it, or give an alternative explanation which fitted with Scripture. After about 40 minutes the T/E ran out of steam but would concede nothing. It was clear to me that his considerable pride was on the line. In reality he knew less science than Dr Wieland.

Therefore as neither science, Scripture or reason works I think we must all resort to prayer.

gwen said...

You guys have done it again. You have triumphed over the heretics of the Diocese.

I think fanaticism with numbers is silly and Dave Lankshear left himself open to ridicule.

Gwen

Nathan said...

This is the worst piece of syllogistic logic I have ever seen.

Honestly, if you're going to attack someone for their beliefs at least try to understand the position they come from and use a little bit of logical consistency.

Sure some literary devices may lend themselves to reading something a particular way - others may be used to reinforce a truth.

Dickson may have argued in context that the use of particular devices lend something to a particular interpretation.

To take someone else's whacked out numerology and apply the same position in the name of outing a heretic strikes me as satire bordering on the witch hunt in Monty Python.

She floats, therefore she's a witch.

Go back to school people. Noone will take you seriously while dribble like this populates your pages.

John said...

Nathan fumes: "This is the worst piece of syllogistic logic I have ever seen."

Actually, you're wrong...it has to be the rest of your "argument" that followed. It was incomprehensible.

Nathan have you even read Dickson's paper?

Nathan writes: "Dickson may have argued in context that the use of particular devices lend something to a particular interpretation.
Sure some literary devices may lend themselves to reading something a particular way - others may be used to reinforce a truth."

No, John D did not "argue" anything - he merely asserted. He failed to evince how any literary feature negates historicity. He, and his disciples, confused the IDENTIFICATION of literary devices within a text with an imagined external guiding rule that any literary feature signifies ahistoricity. That no one so far, including John D, has pointed to an objective rule that stipulates this means that his is mere assertion.

Furthermore, since it's been pointed out that the very same literary features that John D asserts rules out Genesis 1's historicity are found in historical parts of the Bible, including the Gospels, and John D doesn't conclude that these are ahistorical means his "argument" is merely a tendentious one.

John D's case is almost completely based on the inclusion of literary features. All of us here have read his paper and/or heard him speak at UNSW when he presented this heresy. You've shown that it's you who doesn't understand Dickson's argument.

Go away and do some homework before you mouth off the way you just have. Your ignorance is disturbing.

neil moore said...

Nathan, are you the Nathan who argued against theistic evolution (undecided on long ages) on the Sydney Anglican forum last year?

Neil Moore

sam drucker said...

We had a correspondent here in recent weeks who elevated the importance of the appearance of the number 7 in the Genesis 1 account so as to deny the historicity of the account.

I trust Nathan will defend the Word of our Lord more than he is prepared to defend the 'names' of the Diocese.

Sam

Ktisophilos said...

What, the same Nathan who nevertheless felt obliged to show that he was one of the boys by making unsubstantiated claims against creation scientists?

Ktisophilos said...

That E.J. Young article The Days of Genesis linked on another thread blows Dickson's numerology away:

Nor can we agree with Deimel that the writer has consistently employed seven different literary elements (the sacred number). These are said to be (1) God
said; (2) the fiat; (3) the fulfillment; (4) description of the
particular act of creation; (5) God's naming or blessing; (6) the divine satisfaction and (7) the conclusion. These seven literary elements are thought to interlock in the following fashion.
I 7 6 IV
II 6 6 V
III 5 5 VI
6 7
But is this arrangement actually found in Genesis? In the
opinion of the writer of this article these literary elements
are more accurately enumerated as follows:
I 7 II 8 III 7, 6 IV 9 V 7 VI 5, 10
Thus, on the second day there is actually a double fiat, "let
there be an expanse ... and let it be dividing". In response
to this there is also a double fulfillment, "and God made ...
and he divided". On the fifth day, to which the literary elements of the second day are supposed to correspond we find also a double fiat, "let the waters swarm ... let the birds fly". Corresponding to this, however, although three objects of his creative activity are mentioned, there is but one fulfillment, "and God created". Here, therefore, there is no perfect correspondence of form with the description of the second day.

These AngloCompromisers are evidently too arrogant to heed the great exegetes of the recent and ancient past.

Nathan said...

I was not defending Dickson - or any particular member of the Sydney Anglican Diocese - nor have I read his paper. My intention was more to disagree with the underlying assumption made in the post - if you're going to attack the Sydney Anglican's (and John Dickson) on the basis of their treatment of Genesis 1 - then by all means, do so in love - but when you apply their position on an issue that divides many Christian brothers to all theological positions (ie birth of Jesus Christ - which they quite publicly uphold) you do both yourselves, and them, a disservice.

John Dickson has many other published works - and a recent Easter television special - arguing for the historical existence of Jesus Christ - your post seems to disregard fact for the sake of rabid rabbitical hyperbole. I can only assume you were using this hyperbole as some sort of literary device that went over my head. Being of (at least) average intelligence it worries me that your argument so obviously slipped through my grasp - for the sake of clarity can I ask you to clarify your actual thesis on this issue? Are you taking umbrage with the inconsistent treatment of numbers as literary symbolism? Or do you actually believe the Sydney Anglican's are about to sensationally deny the literal birth of Christ?

The fact that my first ever post on this forum led to such vitriol leads me to the conclusion that you're not really interested in other people - and makes me question the intention behind the blog's existence. If everyone who seeks to engage with you is treated with such antipathy it's hardly serving any purpose except to stroke the egos, and stoke the fires of those who contribute.

As a bible believing Christian I find great comfort in the public defence of Jesus Christ as crucified and resurrected lord, until I see evidence of such actions from the members of this site I know which side of the fence I'll sit on.

No, I am not the same Nathan - I have not been onto the forum of which you speak in some time, and have never posted there. It strikes me as odd that you would leap to such conclusions and whip up a frenzy of posts without verifying who it is you're launching such contempt at.

I found this site from someone else's blog on a quiet day at work.

Ktisophilos said...

Stop whinging. The people who founded this blog not only defend the Jesus who died and rose, but also the reason that He came to die. This foundation for the gospel is denied by Moore. That is, the historical fall of our first parents, "the first man, Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45) and Eve "the mother of all the living" (Gen. 3:19). Adam's sin brought not only human death (Romans 5:12-19, 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 26, 45), but also a curse on the entire creation (Romans 8:18-22). So Jesus, "the last Adam", brought Resurrection from the Dead.

The AngloMoore compromise with evolution entails that death has always been with us, and that there was no historical first man Adam. So they undermine the crucial teaching that "the wages of sin is death". This is the bad news, without which the Good News of Jesus as the one who paid the penalty for us and conquered death makes no sense.

This particular thread was a very fair and effective reductio ad absurdum of Dickson's attempt to deny that Genesis is history.

Nathan said...

The problem with "reductio ad absurdum" based arguments is that they pretty much universally are absurd - they disregard essential tools of exegesis like context...

I'm not sure why you've drawn your line in the sand here - and not with the thousands of other liberal movements corrupting the teachings of Christianity (ie the rest of the Anglican movement).

To throw charges of heresy and apostacy - which I can only surmise is pretty much your position on these brothers in Christ - on the basis of this particular issue seems strange. Sure, their interpretation of Genesis - and the resulting theological implications may be sinful - but surely not unforgivable. I see no shade of grace in your positioning and fear you are adding a sola to the teachings of the gospel...

Sola dies septenary...

I'm not sure I find any biblical basis for such a position.

Nathan said...

Also, in response to John's criticism earlier - my initial post did not contain a skerrick of "syllogistic logic" - nor was that its intention.

I simply pointed out what i believed were inconsistencies in the logic of the post - and what problems I had with the way this site engages in presenting its core issue.

Warwick said...

Nathan until now I have been content to just to read the debate involving you but feel I would now like to make a comment.

Those who write against the general creationist belief here usually end up making a comment that we are majoring Genesis creation to the exclusion of the Gospel. However some of us are old enough to have seen other denominations slide into liberalism. I am sure you would not like to see the SAD head that way. From my experience, and that of people older than me, the signs of liberalism creep into Genesis first, with the denial of its absolute historicity. It has generally been that the leaders of this slide have become convinced of long-ages and theistic evolution (L/A,T/E) and then reinterpreted Genesis one through this new belief. It has become their new 'glasses' if you like.

I am a Christened and confirmed Anglican and became truly Christian (as opposed to just a church-goer) in the Anglican church. So I can assure you that my involvement here is not some sign of anti-Anglicanism, just the opposite. I have watched the L/A,T/E view creep into the SAD and discussed it at length with Anglican minister friends and can assure you that many are passionalely opposed to this view as they also see it as the beginning of the slide into liberalism.

As has been said on this thread, and others, Genesis is the foundation of the Gospel. The L/A T/E view corrupts the historical foundation of the Gospel rendering it into some sort of story, written to contradict the EE. It is also a different view than that espoused by Jesus and the apostles. For one example Jesus said man was made at the beginning of the creation whereas the L/A, T/E view has man appearing at almost the end. How many times can we contradict what Jesus taught before we are actually in opposition to Him?

It is somewhat like the JW's who insist they are Christian while reinterpreting Scripture away from its clear meaning, denying Jesus' deity. They also have interpretation 'glasses' reinterpreting any verse which promotes the idea that Jesus was God on earth. This is their starting bias and anything in Scripture which disagrees with this is, and must be reinterpreted to fit with the starting bias.

I am sure you would love to see JW's liberated from their error which will almost certainly prevent their gaining eternal life.

It is the same with those who hold to the L/A, T/E view that Scriptures outside of Genesis are reinterpreted through their particular glasses.


If you sense some sharpness or overreaction from bloggers here it is that none of us want to sit by and see the SAD destroyed like most Anglicanism has been elsewhere in Australia.

Nathan said...

I would contend that Jesus is actually the centre of the Gospel - and that he must be the glasses that colour the view of our faith. I believe the Sydney Anglican Diocese is pretty good at bringing Jesus to the front and centre of the Christian faith. My own connection to the diocese is loose - my parents were members when I was born - I (and they) am now a Queensland Presbyterian - about as far removed as can be.

I am not liberal, nor am I particularly convicted of either view on Genesis - in my mind it is not the central question of faith.

I'd be interested to know whether you guys use 2 ways to live in evangelism (or if you even bother evangelising rather than casting stones at your brothers in Christ) with it's Genesis 1 centred understanding of the gospel message (ie creation and fall are vital to the understanding of the mission of Christ) or if it has been tainted by the fact that it was written by a Jensen.

I think the JW comparison is misleading - the JW's slip into liberalism/dodgy theology was born, in my understanding, from a denial of the Lordship of Christ - or at the very least the theology of the trinity. A very different slippery slope... that nobody can fairly throw at the Sydney Anglicans.

Your comment about the Sydney Anglicans not becoming like the rest of the Anglican/Episcopalian movement is interestingly timed - I would think you would be celebrating their adherence to the fundamental supremacy of scripture in the face of cultural relativism - rather than condemning them for their particular point of difference with your theology.

Why "Sydney Anglican Heretics" and not "Hillsong Heretics" or "Baptist heretics"... like I said before your positioning and ludicrous claims are nothing but rabid rabbitical hyperbole - and in my opinion are divisive, unhelpful and not the "truth in love" or "salt and light" in nature.

You can throw all the Genesis proof texts you want at anybody you want - but at the end of the day the medium is as important as the message - particularly for the benefit of "outsiders" whom you are not serving in any way with this blog.

Warwick said...

Nathan you wrote:

'I would contend that Jesus is actually the centre of the Gospel - and that he must be the glasses that colour the view of our faith.'

Then should we not accept His view of Genesis 1?

Remenber Revelation 14:6,7 says that the eternal Gospel is to worship the creator.

'I am not liberal,'

I didn't say you were.

'nor am I particularly convicted of either view on Genesis - in my mind it is not the central question of faith.'

But it is the real foundation of the real Gospel, the real reason Jesus really came to really die and really rise again that we might be really saved and have a real eternal life. If Genesis isn't literally true then why did Jesus come, and why did He have to die. Or is it just some mind-game, some philosophical exercise?

'I'd be interested to know whether you guys use 2 ways to live in evangelism (or if you even bother evangelising..'

Nathan as you have opened the gate then let me say I gave thirteen years of my life, hard long days often of 18 hours, for little money and at risk of my health, often away from my family, dedicated to evangelism here and overseas. Now retired I continue.

You sure picked a poor horse to ride there Nathan!

'I think the JW comparison is misleading'

I believe you are wrong. No comparison is perfect but the point is that both the L/A,T/E brigade and the JW's reinterpret sections of Scripture for non-Biblical reasons.

'Your comment about the Sydney Anglicans not becoming like the rest of the Anglican/Episcopalian movement is interestingly timed - I would think you would be celebrating their adherence to the fundamental supremacy of scripture in the face of cultural relativism - rather than condemning them for their particular point of difference with your theology.'

You expose yourself here Nathan. This isn't 'our' theology but the orthodox view of Scripture espoused by leading Christians since day one.

I think it strange that the SAD is rock hard against the ordination of women and the admittance of practising homosexuals, but as weak as water on the foundation of the Gospel.-Psalm 11:3 'When the foundations are being destroyed what can the righteous do?'

If there was death before sin then how can death be an enemy? The very idea ruins the thrust of the Gospel.

'Why "Sydney Anglican Heretics" and not "Hillsong Heretics"'

Who would bother with Hillsong, it's not to be compared to the SAD. There is hope for the SAD but it would take a mighty miracle to fix Hillsong.

'like I said before your positioning and ludicrous claims are nothing but rabid rabbitical hyperbole - and in my opinion are divisive, unhelpful and not the "truth in love" or "salt and light" in nature.'

Sadly Nathan truth is, and always was divisive. But it does not destroy but compromise with worldly philosophies does destroy, as history of our faith shows. Luther was so divisive wasn't he Nathan, but he was right to be so wasn't he?

'You can throw all the Genesis proof texts you want at anybody you want..'

That is interesting Nathan, as you claim to be somewhat on the fence but like members of the SAD take little notice of what Jesus and the apostles believe about Genesis. No proof in Biblical texts for you hey Nathan?

'particularly for the benefit of "outsiders" whom you are not serving in any way with this blog.'

I am not this blog, I am an individual and have no need to defend my Christian beliefs or my 'track-record' before you. I don't even know who you are! I don't even know if your name actually is Nathan!

I and countless others know how I have contended long and hard for the Truth of Scripture, and the Gospel, and continue to do so though 'retired.' I have seen many many people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ with a rock-hard faith in all His living Word, with no need to bow the knee to the worldly philosophies of fallible sinful men who were not there and who lie.

What's your track-record like Nathan?

Ps don't confuse rejection of and antipathy towards an anti-Biblical view as being rejection of any individual. As the saying goes Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner.

John said...

Nathan,

I am usually not in the business of comparing lengths...but I wonder how many times you've actually been beaten up or threatened with death for the Gospel? Come on, you opened this one up. Let's view your pedigree.

John said...

Nathan,

I've just read your blogs.

What chutzpah to come on here and rant about us and attack our many decades of life in Christ when the best you can do is to talk about chicken, what people should buy you for your wedding etc etc.

Listen child, get some intelligence you silly little boy and get serious about Christ. How dare you lecture us. You are vain, selfish, and an air-headed 25 y.o. to boot.

In traditional Jewish culture a man doesn't even open his mouth when he is in the presence of his elders until he is at least 30 years of age. Now that's wisdom!

Nathan said...

Dear John,

Rejecting people's opinions on the basis of age? Interesting.

My blog does not present itself as anything more than a collection of responses to news stories I encounter - and an insight into my daily life for friends and family who I live thousands of kilometres away from.

I'm glad you checked it out though. Feel free to comment on any of the articles that tickle your fancy.

My statments were not intended to be construed as "lectures" I was merely questioning the method behind your apparent madness.

Warwick, I don't think my "I'm not liberal" was aimed at you - it was more positioning myself for the benefit of other commenters - who seemed confused on the matter of the existence of other Nathans in this world. I said it to clarify where I am approaching the issues from.

To question "runs on the board" so to speak in terms of persecution is counterintuitive. I am, and always have been, open about my faith. I am actively involved in church life - and have previously been involved in university ministry. As John kindly pointed out, I am young - but Jesus was not so dismissive of "children" - ignore and reject the voice of youth at your peril John.

I find it hard to believe that someone of your vintage would act in such a churlish and offensive manner when dealing with anybody - let alone a Christian brother.

I don't recall ranting.

Warwick, my question regarding evangelism was not designed to be offensive - although I will grant that it could be taken that way - the nature of my inquiry was more focused on your views of 2 Ways to Live - as a Sydney Anglican production that starts with creation and the fall... My problem with those of your ilk (and like I said I'm ambivalent on the issue of origins - I think it's secondary to the message of Christ and him crucified) is that you often spend your time tilting at this particular windmill rather than engaging in any meaningful discourse with non-Christians. I'm glad to hear this is not the case with you.

I wasn't dismissing your "proof texts" I guess I was taking issue with your use of scripture with malevolent intent when dealing with your Christian brothers - there is no love in the way John deals with dissenters on this blog.

I find it hard to believe John has love for anybody who disagrees with him.

neil moore said...

Nathan, I made a mistake in suggesting you were someone who engaged on the Anglican forum. It was not meant to be detrimental because the person I confused you with was someone who we here would partially agree with and this blog was commenced to defend him and others under attack on that site. I think you are a little sensitive and preconditioned to use emotional language.

Nathan, you said "To throw charges of heresy and apostacy - which I can only surmise is pretty much your position on these brothers in Christ". Question: Who here has charged those with whom we are at odds as having committed apostasy? I must have missed that. Don't try to convince me that heresy and apostasy are the same thing.

Most of us here are Sydney Anglicans and deplore the trend in theology which is just where the liberals in past times launched their departure from God's word.

Yes, I have used 2 Ways to Live I used to have no real problem with it (thus dismissing your insinuation of my contempt for Philip Jensen - your comment betrays your willingness to pass snide, emotive comments when you can) but I have found that a tractarian approach to evangelism tends to compartmentalise the person I am evangelising. Each person is an individual and time is needed to relate to the person and find the 'point of entry' to meet the need. Tractarian evangelism is for those not confident of sharing the gospel with the lost.

In closing, I read Sam's blog as having a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the inconsistency applied in the treatment of numerology by John Dickson & Co. We will have to wait till he gets back for confirmation. He is on the road a bit.

Neil Moore

Nathan said...

Neil,

Thanks for your response - I wasn't worried about your question - just what I interpreted to be a snide "what the same Nathan who..." assumption made by Ktisophilos...

From what I've heard the 2 ways to live "tract" was actually meant to be a framework for an evangelical understanding of the gospel - and hence the Sydney Anglican position.

I agree with what you said regarding evangelism needing to be based on individual circumstances.

When I said:
"I'd be interested to know whether you guys use 2 ways to live in evangelism (or if you even bother evangelising rather than casting stones at your brothers in Christ) with it's Genesis 1 centred understanding of the gospel message (ie creation and fall are vital to the understanding of the mission of Christ) or if it has been tainted by the fact that it was written by a Jensen."

I was simply trying to point out that the predominant evangelistic philosophy of the Sydney Anglican's is centred on the literal truth of the fall of man tainting God's good and perfect creation. I suspect other members of this blog do hold Phillip Jensen in contempt.

Any emotive language or vitriol in my posts is largely directed at John - having read some back issues of this blog where he attacks others with a particularly poisonous tongue I can only assume he holds those in a state of "heresy" as defined on this blog as being apostate. I would be interested to see how many other posters here share that sentiment.

I'd say there are plenty of other "flash points" for liberalism - I don't think this is the sole issue. I think being too easily influenced by culture rather than being an influencer of culture is where the "liberal" church has gone wrong.

I think the fact that you and yours are so ready to decry a chapter of a denomination as "heretics" without any disclaimers (which have been included in this comment thread - ie you, Neil, still consider them brothers) betrays a willingness to cast snide emotive comments at others you do not know with a broad stroke of arrogance.

This is not a vehicle of humble rebuke - it is a playhouse for those like John who wish to cast stones at others behind a wall of anonymity.

I can only hope you keep treating visitors with the sort of welcome I have received because it certainly won't keep them here for long.

Warwick said...

Nathan you wrote:

'I was simply trying to point out that the predominant evangelistic philosophy of the Sydney Anglican's is centred on the literal truth of the fall of man.......'

BTW I have never met or heard Philip Jensen and know little of him. I have conversely met and talked with Peter Jensen and to say the least found him somewhat evasive. However I do admire his courage in standing up against various anti-Christian journalists. If only he could also stand up against those who teach evolution which undermines the Gospel.

Nathan I believe the SAD clings to parts of Genesis 1, only those which do not conflict with its L/A,T/E reinterpretive 'glasses.' A fair question to sort this out is whether they argee with Jesus that man was made at the beginning of the creation. You must know they don't, either ignoring it and refusing to answer questions or coming up with silly cpomments like-the sixth day isn't the beginning! They say this as if it justifies their anti-Biblical belief that man appeared billions of years after the beginning.

Therefore how can you say they hold to the truth of Genesis when their view opposes what the Creator said? Please answer.

'I'd say there are plenty of other "flash points" for liberalism - I don't think this is the sole issue. I think being too easily influenced by culture rather than being an influencer of culture is where the "liberal" church has gone wrong.'

There could be Nathan but I have never come accross one. As I have told you I spent 13 years in full-time evangelism, here and overseas, and many years since then. From my experience almost every liberal gave increasing acceptance of evolution as the reason for their slide downwards into liberalism.

As a representative of them consider the once famous evangelist Charles Templeton who wrote a book 'Farewell to God.

I this book he documented that his increasing belief in evolution totally destroyed his faith and he died having rejected Christ. Some can somehow balance two opposing worldviews in their one faith but more can't and Templeton is a well know representative of these. They are well aware that Biblical creation and evolution are two diametrically opposed views of origins. What an eternal pity that no one was there to answer Templetons simple to answer questions and doubts.

What a loss for him and for Christianity!

I think you are right about culture in that as more and more people are educated into evolutionary the culture which pervades our western society, less and less are prepared to take Christianity seriously. Some years ago the now missionary Craig Tasker wrote to me asking for help with his work at a Sydney university. He wrote that their surveys showed that 85% of those entering the university believed in a real God. This didn't make them all Christians but it is a good place to start, isn't it. He said further that at the end of the second year the same survey showed that now only 15% still had the same belief in God, because of their evolutionary indoctrination. How do you reach these people who no longer believe in God beccause of their indoctrination? By telling them that God used evolution? They mostly know this is not plausible as evolution needs no god.

You can either ignore or reject these examples but they are just two real-life examples. There are many many more.

I find exactly the same thing with French university students when I preach there each year.

BTW I can't speak for others but I have supplied my full name and the church I attend on a number of occasions. This lead one AngloNasty bright spark to write to my denominational head, and my pastor, attacking my stance saying I wasn't a suitable person to belong to this church. We all had a great laugh about this. One commented with words such as-Is Warwick upsetting the liberals again!

Nathan John gets a little stroppy on occasions however his language is no stronger than that used by some members of the SAD to describe creationists-hillbillies, morons, internet trolls and worse. You need to understand that his annoyance is fuelled by the anti-Biblical views pushed by members of the SAD, destructive faith destroying views.

Nathan said...

I guess I am yet to have any Sydney Anglicans use such words/language in my dialogues with them.

I have met both Jensens - I have met many other Sydney Anglicans - I find their fellowship agreeable as an evangelical. I don't find many other denominational groups promoting the inerrancy of scripture in the same way they do. I understand those behind this blog who interpret their interpretation of inerrancy as being in error. My experience of the Sydney Anglican's I have mixed, mingled and fellowshipped with in my year's of Christian life - which has been from an early age despite John being so willing to dismiss my opinion - has been largely loving, positive and open fellowship where unity un the gospel is celebrated. Unlike here, I'll leave you with this quote from John, who has never met me:

"Listen child, get some intelligence you silly little boy and get serious about Christ. How dare you lecture us. You are vain, selfish, and an air-headed 25 y.o. to boot."

Warwick said...

Nathan being in Scriptural error doesn't make people disagreeable or unpleasant. I have met numerous JW's who were extremely pleasant people. One very pleasant JW visited me for months. I have met many humble, loving, earnest Mormons but I am sure you would agree they are not saved and are leading others to hell.

I am also sure if we met satan he would be very handsome and appealing. If he wasn't he would scare people away, not attract them. It is not what people are which is evil but what they do. I believe many in the SAD are convinced they are on the right path. However if that path is not the path Christ has made then they are in error and leading others astray.

I notice you, like most others, have avoided answering my question about man being made at the beginning of creation. This says more than words.

As regards innerancy of Scripture I spoke in about 600 churches in my 13 years in ministry and found other denominations which hold to the innerancy of scripture right from the first verse. Some Anglicans do but I have only been abused for my efforts in one denomination. I spoke in a number of RC churches and received a far better reception there!

I remember one Northside Anglican church where one of the ministers shouted rudely at me when I was speaking-fool, liar he said. He was a liberal plant in the church, did not believe in God's miracles and thought it didn't matter if Jesus actually rose from the dead or not. He was then removed from his preaching position by the senior minister, who had no idea of the deceitful way he was using language, appearing to mean one thing while meaning something else. He said the Bible was truth but when questioned said it wasn't historical fact. How can it be truth and not fact I asked. Apparently in some Anglican circles truth just means that something has spiritual value, while historical fact is called true Truth. How devious!

In this same church, also during my talk a member,a scientist, shouted out that I was a liar, lying about a point I made about biology.

I found this to be offensive and challenged him to apologize, explain exactly where I was wrong, or debate me on the issue before the church. The coward wouldn't agree to any of the three options.

In my 13 years numerous ministers and church members who disagreed with my position wrote to commend me for my passion for the Gospel and for my even-handed approach.

In denominations such as the Baptist church one pastors recommendation was usually enough for me to be invited to speak at other churches of that denomination. Do you see where I am headed? Regularly when I phoned Anglican ministers, despite having Anglican ministers recommendations I received abrupt and sometimes rude refusals. Even refusals to meet with me to discuss the matter. Some, obviously primed by liars within the denomination, told me that they would not have such as me in their pulpit as they 'knew' I taught that you have to believe in 6-day creation to be saved etc. Not tue! Within this denomination, and some others there are numerous untruths spread about, concerning what creationists are supposed to believe, and teach. Sometimes spread by people who know they are not telling the truth.

The only reason I can see for such hate and deceit is that the creation-evangelism message shows them up as liberal compromisers. Embarassed by 'hillbillies!

The only other denomination to behave similarly was the Uniting Church where many churches (but definitely not all) were passionately liberal and told me to get lost.

You don't have problems because you don't challenge their ideas.

anonymous said...

"Listen child, get some intelligence you silly little boy and get serious about Christ. How dare you lecture us. You are vain, selfish, and an air-headed 25 y.o. to boot."
Don't let it bother you too much, Nathan. When you strip away all the bluster, abusive language, hubris, and arrogance in john's comment you get to the powerful heart of his argument.

Actually, looking back at what john wrote, it's clear that when you strip away his bluster, abusive language, hubris, and arrogance you'll find there's nothing left.

Nathan said...

Warwick,

You hear volumes when only paperbacks exist - I did not answer your question because I missed it.

I am thoroughly unconvinced by evolution - I think it's shoddy science based on a poor starting hypothesis - however, I am not completely against the concept of an old earth. I do not claim to be a science - nor a linguist - but writing I understand - I don't think Genesis fully expounds the majesty of creation, or the process - I think it is a theological lesson for the people of Israel about why they should worship our holy God who created all things. And humanities complete rejection of God's rule. I am open to the possibility of seven literal days, I am open to the possibility of 7 billion years - I just don't think that matters. Do I think God interacts with his people in the OT? Yes. Do I think Jesus was the human manifestation of God who was the Christ predicted by the law and the prophets? Yes. Do I think humanity has rejected God since the beginning of time? Yes.

I do wonder if the "death" referred to in the New Testament refers to God's judgement for disobedience - rather than animal/physical death.

Your experiences in ministry are sadly a representation of the depravity of mankind - however, I'm sure you'd agree there are many in your camp who do your arguments a disservice by making belief in a 7 day creation mandatory. There is nothing in this blog to commend adhering to your point of view on the Sydney Anglican Diocese as worthwhile.

I wonder if the distinction Neil made on apostacy and heresy was perhaps misleading. Essentially those behind this blog are accusing the Sydney Anglicans of being false teachers - and the warnings regarding false teachers are stronger than those regarding non-believers.

I can only speak from my experience with seven day creationists when it comes to what I think they believe - the fact that you don't see it as essential to salvation but contribute to this blog concerns me.

Warwick said...

Nathan you missed the question. But now you haven't, and you still didn't answer it.

Jesus said man was made at the beginning of the creation but the L/A, T/E's have him appearing at all but the end.

You wrote: 'I was simply trying to point out that the predominant evangelistic philosophy of the Sydney Anglican's is centred on the literal truth of the fall of man tainting God's good and perfect creation.'

How can their evangelistic philosophy be centred on the literal truth of the fall when they reject what Jesus says about Genesis? This makes no sense.

It is obvious to many that they reinterpret Genesis because they have accepted evolution and their litterary theories are but post-acceptance justification.

I do not know of any creationist who makes belief in 6-day creation necessary for salvation. This is a story some members of the SAD promote. I have heard it all over the place.

The argument with these members of the SAD is that they are reinterpreting Genesis away from its straight-forward meaning undermining the historical foundation for the Gospel. They are leading people away, bit by bit, from the truth of God's Word, following in the footsteps of others who are now thoroughly liberal. Their beliefs, their increasingly liberal views are nothing new.

I like you see no reason to accept microbe to man evolution as fact and also see nothing convincing in the old-earth belief. Every system they propose to prove an old earth is based upon untestable assumptions and significant exceptions occur.

I agree that Genesis does not fully expound the majesty of creation as it is a factual day by day, step account of what was done. The psalms do a far more glorious portrayal of Gods amazing creation and His power, as that is their purpose.

neil moore said...

Nathan, actually we are six-day creationists. Perhaps a moot point but with some we have to be exact otherwise their bent to attack at every point will be handed a weapon.

Nathan, you said: "I'd say there are plenty of other "flash points" for liberalism - I don't think this is the sole issue. I think being too easily influenced by culture rather than being an influencer of culture is where the 'liberal' church has gone wrong."

Somewhere way back on this site Sam Drucker wrote a blog called "Did God Really Say?" and he referred to "The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative - A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics" written by Hans W. Frei. This was helpful to me because it charted for me the steps taken by the Church we now call liberal. Obviously there is much more in Frei's study which I now can say I have read. The now liberal Church's reading of Genesis as historical narrative was the first to go. The conservative Church held on but today I see that Church, evidenced now in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, taking that same first step of the liberal Church more than a century ago.

I agree with your view that culture has influenced the liberal Church but culture has been the influence in downplaying the historicity of the Genesis account of origins.

Concerning John, I'll leave it to him to respond to you. However, I see him using strong speech (but for him only in times of frustration) but not, in most instances, as strong as some Sydney Anglicans on the Diocesan web forum. Warwick has mentioned this but I would just add that one correspondent there described YEC's as parasites living off the host (Christianity) and will eventually destroy the host.

That is bad, real bad! I know you can't apologise for this and I don't expect you to. But it chief among other poisonous comments which spawned this site. I think someone else said it before but I'll say it again. This site is the product of the mind of some in the Diocese. It would not exist but for them.

On the Diocese as a whole I love it for its defence of the Bible in the past. Its defence has been breached on Genesis but I still remain a Sydney Anglican fighting for a return to days of triumph in the Lord of days past.

What I have noticed, and it was brought to mind in your comment of praise for the Diocese, is that there is an air of pride or arrogance thriving in the Diocese and this is dangerous and must be repented of. I am resolve to knock this when I see it on display.

Well, that's enough from me ... no, wait! I'll just take up something else you said.

If you and I take God at His word as we do, how do you fit millions or billions of years for the age of the earth (or the universe for that matter) from what God said in Exodus 20:11?

Cheers,
Neil

Dissenter said...

Hi. On the underlying question 'are evolution and authentic Christianity compatible', I would like to share this poem by Thomas Hardy, the Victorian writer and intellectual who, like many another such, abandoned Christianity after reading Darwin.
'by their fruits shall ye know them'

The Respectable Burgher on "The Higher Criticism" by Thomas Hardy

Since Reverend Doctors now declare
That clerks and people must prepare
To doubt if Adam ever were;
To hold the flood a local scare;
To argue, though the stolid stare,
That everything had happened ere
The prophets to its happening sware;
That David was no giant-slayer,
Nor one to call a God-obeyer
In certain details we could spare,
But rather was a debonair
Shrewd bandit, skilled as banjo-player:
That Solomon sang the fleshly Fair,
And gave the Church no thought whate'er;
That Esther with her royal wear,
And Mordecai, the son of Jair,
And Joshua's triumphs, Job's despair,
And Balaam's ass's bitter blare;
Nebuchadnezzar's furnace-flare,
And Daniel and the den affair,
And other stories rich and rare,
Were writ to make old doctrine wear
Something of a romantic air:
That the Nain widow's only heir,
And Lazarus with cadaverous glare
(As done in oils by Piombo's care)
Did not return from Sheol's lair:
That Jael set a fiendish snare,
That Pontius Pilate acted square,
That never a sword cut Malchus' ear
And (but for shame I must forbear)
That -- -- (*)did not reappear! . . .
- Since thus they hint, nor turn a hair,
All churchgoing will I forswear,
And sit on Sundays in my chair,
And read that moderate man Voltaire.(**)

(*) -- -- presumably stands for Jesus Christ. It was a little too strong in Vioctorian times to actually deny the ressurection right out, but as we see, that is the end plint oif denying the creation an Fall)
(**)Voltaire was of course a radical anti-clerical atheist

the point of this poem is that if priests and preachers tell us that Genesis and other Old Testament stories are merely fables, open to man's re-interpretation in the light of secular science, then probably so is the New Testament and the Resurrection, so why bother with the Christian religion at all? That is a road which has been taken by many.

Evolution has been described as 'the most powerful engine of atheism ever invented' and so it is. How comfortable should that make theiostic evolutionists feel? Biblical Christianity and protons to people evolution do not mix. Atheists and Muslims seem to understand this, when with the bishops get it?

Please pass this poem on, it makes the point very well-by one who gave up Christ for Darwin.

John said...

1. Late in this blog Nathan paints himself as an innocent victim and unfairly targeted. Yet, he cast the first stone by shooting this as his FIRST comment: "Go back to school people. Noone will take you seriously while dribble like this populates your pages."

2. Nathan said: "Dickson may have argued in context that the use of particular devices lend something to a particular interpretation."

Yet he admits he's never read the paper but wants to shoot his mouth off. And you object that I point out that you are young. The quickness to open your mouth without doing the commonsense homework of reading Dickson's paper belies your demand that we should listen to you.

3. Nathan, you rave about logic, syllogisms etc, but you have yet to explain exactly where in our case we demonstrate such fallacies.

The liberal case for the non-historicity of Genesis 1 - contrary to the vast majority of the Church's own testimony - in John Dickson's argument is that the Holy Spirit copied a pagan text called the Enuma Elish and that literary features within Genesis 1 mean that it cannot be taken as such.

I'll leave the EE for another time as I'm preparing a blog which shows that their scholarship, so-called, is decades out of date and that EE as we have it cannot predate the 5 Books of Moses.

However, plenty of people (documented here) have shown that the very SAME literary features are found in, inter alia, the Gospels. Now the SADs, like Dickson, would not for one second deny the Gospels' historicity on this basis. So why do they in Genesis 1? It's clear that it is obviously something OUTSIDE the text which decides this for them. Outside the text is what liberals do.

Nathan said...

I would think it comes down to a question of differences between historical literature and scientific literature.

As I have said before I am not convinced by either position, and am happy to remain in Christ centred ignorance.

My point was that I found this light hearted blog entry pretty trite and completely dismissive of context.

We know that the Sydney Anglican Diocese, and John Dickson staunchly uphold the historical accuracy of the gospels. If you're going to cast stones at least do it in a logical manner.

I am broadly familiar with much of John Dickson's work - from Swordfish TV, through to Zed(???) Magazine, his published apologetics books, and his recent "The Christ Files" special. As an outsider to the broader debate underpinning this page - and as a fan of logic - I was trying to highlight that you do yourselves, and your argument, a disservice by publishing such dribble. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you publish such libellous rubbish?

My understanding of Dickson's, and the broader position taken by the Sydney Anglican church, is to treat Genesis 1 - 11 as being teachings from Moses to the Jewish nation regarding the "origins of creation" - not in a specific, scientific, historic account - but a broadbrush God created with order and purpose in mind and man stuffed it up. They then couple this with what modern science "reveals" about creation to come up with a consistent doctrine. Whether you agree or disagree with the six day creation/old earth I think this is theologically (rather than scientifically) consistent.

They obviously - in practice and doctrine - deal differently with the gospels.

"Well, in the sight of F.C Payne at least, for John Dickson and his disciples to be thoroughly consistent in their theology they must dismiss the wealth of historical narrative of Scripture widely accepted by the Church."

That was a logical fallacy - on which this poorly constructed syllogism was based.

The logic suggesting all parts of the bible must be treated as the same type of literature for the sake of interpretation is false.

We are equipped - as were the nation of Israel to distinguish between poetry, historial narrative, parrables (allegory), the laws, the prophets, and the epistles.


The New Testament goes as far as to make that distinction for us (eg Luke 16:16, and Eph 5:19, Col 3:16 - whicj prescribe particular uses for "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs").

Provided that we share a common understanding that "all scripture is God breathed" and hold it thus inerrant - I think the way we choose to prayerfully critically think through hermenutics and exegesis can include using scientific research and archeaology as secondary texts.

While I agree that the New Testament contains references to the creation account - and I agree this lends some weight to the argument for reading the 6 days as 6 days - I also don't think this is a knock down argument for an old earth. I think if the account was a familiar "doctrine" for understanding the origin of mankind it makes sense to refer to it.

I remain unconvinced that it's a pivotal issue for understanding the gospel - and also convinced that you are going about presenting your issue in an entirely uncompelling manner.

I apologise for my original harsh analysis of this post - but John your response only seeks to reinforce my initial feelings. The fact that others feel the need to act as your apologists while trying to respond with clarity to emerging issues is an unhelpful distraction.

Nathan said...

And John,

That was the conclusion of my first comment - not my first comment. To suggest otherwise is misleading. You disregard the context - it comes after the body of what I believe is fair criticism of this post.

John said...

Nathan,

I happened to see the bottom of your second last entry first and was going to accept your apology but now I've read the two I've decided that you don't really maen it because you've demonstrated what is typical of SADS (yes, I know you're not but a bit of their haughtiness has rubbed off!): give with one and then immediately grab back, with interest, with the other. You don't apologise, young man, and then insult in the same breath.

But that aside - I am not at all peeved by your lack of sincerity - a few points.

1. Young Nathan, you may be a "fan" of logic, whatever that means (on the same meaningful level as a fan of truth, I suppose!), but some of us actually have degrees in the subject. You know, sat exams, wrote papers etc. So I guess if you're a "fan" then some of us must be coaches of this footie team you follow.

2. Speaking of logic, or lack of, Nathan opens his tale with, "I would think it comes down to a question of differences between historical literature and scientific literature."

Nathan, that is what is called a straw-man argument. Who said anything about Genesis 1 being scientific? It's very easy to demolish your opponent's argument that is not actually his.

3. Thus spake Nathan: "My understanding of Dickson's, and the broader position taken by the Sydney Anglican church, is to treat Genesis 1 - 11 as being teachings from Moses to the Jewish nation regarding the "origins of creation" - not in a specific, scientific, historic account - but a broadbrush God created with order and purpose in mind and man stuffed it up."

Gee, I didn't know that. Thanks for that Nathan.

Now, why don't you go away and read Dickson's paper. Dave Lankshear has it on his blog. It might save us a whole lot of time repeating Dickson's exact argument i.e. the details, again. You obviously don't understand his case. Why? Because you haven't done the logical thing and familiarised yourself with it. Punishment? Give me 40 post hoc ergo propter hoc situps and an enthymematic 20 laps.

4.Our argument "Well, in the sight of F.C Payne at least, for John Dickson and his disciples to be thoroughly consistent in their theology they must dismiss the wealth of historical narrative of Scripture widely accepted by the Church."

Nathan utters an utterance in reponse to our above argument: "That was a logical fallacy - on which this poorly constructed syllogism was based.

The logic suggesting all parts of the bible must be treated as the same type of literature for the sake of interpretation is false."

Again, misrepresentation of our argument and a complete lack of understanding of Dickson's case. Dickson says that Genesis 1 is replete in literary features such as chiasmus, repetition, parallelism, numbers etc, and these are not found in any commonly accepted historical narrative. Thus, the conclusion to Dickson's syllogism is that Genesis 1 can't be taken as history.

So what would falsify Dickson's case, Nathan, fan of logic? Wouldn't it be if one could demonstrate that these same literary features ARE found in passages that are more or less uniformly accepted as historical? Well, wouldn't it be?

And they ARE in all historical passages, like John's account of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection, the giving of the law at Mt Sinai, the various incidents in Abraham's life etc etc etc.

So, do you now get it, mate? Dickson and his worshippers can't have it both ways. If these literary devices indicate ahistoricity, then material in the Gospels should be also judged ahistorical. If you don't like that conclusion, then one has to give up stating that these literary devices mean that Genesis 1 is ahistorical. It's kindergarten logic!

5. So, Nathan, the time has come to show us whether you're a time waster or a serious student of logic. Tell us on what basis would you say that Exodus 31, where God speaks face-to-face with Moses and says that He created everything in 6 days, can be twisted and stretched to mean not 6 days? If you really believe that the Holy Spirit is the real author of the Bible, please tell me a mere puppy in Scripture how epistemically you can derive it to not be 6 days when God says He did do it in 6 days? Tell me why the 4th commandment should be seen as not meaning 6 days when it says 6 days. That is, on what basis should I read something as being the exact opposite of what it says it says?

Nathan said...

I'm not arguing with Dickson - nor agreeing - I'm arguing with the logic of this particular post on this particular blog.

I just don't think that holding one position leads by necessity to holding the other - particularly when Dickson is on the record on the matter of the historicity of the gospels.

You can ignore context all you like John. And you can make vague references to "degrees" that "some" of you might hold. I hold a degree. I'd be interested to know how many of you do actually have degrees in logic - or anything close to the fields discussed on the blog. Is "0" considered a number - that is a very broad statement you made and is particularly broad and all inclusive of a team of eight(?) contributors. If your logic is consistent with your grammatical prowess - I read some back issues where you offered your expertise and proceeded to use "your" in the place of "you're" - then I'm not really impressed.

I find your method of picking and choosing snippets of a statement with no regard for the context to be slightly bemusing.

My comment regarding history vs science was a summary sentence of the diocean view. I have read Unnatural Enemies - so I feel like I have some idea where they are coming from - even though I don't entirely agree with the book, I agree with the premise - that the two are not opposed.

"The logic suggesting all parts of the bible must be treated as the same type of literature for the sake of interpretation is false."

I don't believe I was misrepresenting the argument of this post.

Here's the way I interpreted the logic in the original post.

1. John Dickson has recently released a paper that suggests the presence of number patterns in Genesis 1 make it more likely to be a non literal account.

2. John Dickson is a respected Sydney Anglican.

3. The Gospel contains number patterns.

Conclusion: All Sydney Anglicans must therefore logically decide that the gospels are not a literal account...

Am I right so far?

Here's where the logical conventions go out the window...

The Sydney Anglican Diocese is a broad church filled with different interpretations of different scriptural issues - all under the authority of scripture. John Dickson has plenty to say on "evangelism" that a number of Sydney Anglicans (including, I believe, the Archbishop) have a problem with... to suggest his views will always guide the diocese is false.

The great majority (I haven't counted them all up) of John Dickson's works attest to, and even explicitly proclaim the literal and historical truth of the gospels - he obviously does not feel this is not incompatible with his current paper. It is unconscionable to ignore this when making the argument this post on your blog tries to make.

I believe, like John Dickson, that the veracity of Christianity does not hinge on the six days of creation - but on the historical existence of Jesus and that he did that which the gospel accounts claimed, and that he was God.

I'm not here to argue point 5 - as I have said on numerous occasions I am not interested in disputing any interpretation of Genesis 1. I don't think it's an issue - and while I don't have a preference either way I think there's plenty of science with the hypothesis (or agenda) that God does not exist where the end results back up the starting hypothesis. I am willing to dismiss this science and trust that God created the world. Be it in 6 days or 6 billion years, it doesn't worry me. I contend that Dickson, and the Sydney Anglican Diocese have got their intentions in the right place - grounded in Jesus, his historical existence his lordship, and his role as saviour of those who call on his name.

John, please don't call me mate - we're clearly not friends and you clearly do not extend brotherly Christian love in my direction. Your comments are neither God honouring rebuke or encouragement. I was not apologising to you specifically - but to the readers of this blog generally for the tone in which I ended my initial post. Your whole position rests on an interpretation of Genesis as being the basis of scientific understanding of creation - to suggest otherwise is to split hairs.

John said...

Dissenter,

Brilliant poem.

But of course evolution's just a side issue and really has no part to play in someone's accepting or rejecting Christ! At least that's what the SADs like to say to people.

anonymous said...

So what would falsify Dickson's case, Nathan, fan of logic? Wouldn't it be if one could demonstrate that these same literary features ARE found in passages that are more or less uniformly accepted as historical? Well, wouldn't it be?

And they ARE in all historical passages, like John's account of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection, the giving of the law at Mt Sinai, the various incidents in Abraham's life etc etc etc.


Well there's another fallacy: that assertion is proof. I can do that one: "the Bible's full of examples of texts using all the literary devices in Gen 1 in contexts which are clearly not meant to be taken literally." I could strengthen my argument: "It's obvious."

Nathan said...

Anon,

I think you could probably have just taken this bit:

"And they ARE in all historical passages"

To demonstrate John's inability to argue with coherence.

I can think of plenty of historical passages that don't contain number patterns... unless the chapter and verse symbols count... but John, surely even you know these were put in by the translators...

John said...

1. Nathan wrote: "I just don't think that holding one position leads by necessity to holding the other - particularly when Dickson is on the record on the matter of the historicity of the gospels."

This is why you are but a "fan" of logic. You've taken the New Age view of reality i.e. contested the Laws of Non-Contradiction and Excluded Middle as being necessarily binding here.

Nathan, you are an adult so I can't really excuse your arrogance. You're a time-waster but worse still, you actually think you can debate us when you clearly don't understand Dickson's argument. I won't bother going through it again but you are devoid of rationality as per above point.

2. Some of us have no degree, some one, some many, including Master's, and others a PhD in science. But that is neither here not there, as you can't even follow a clear argument put forward by the person who indirectly began this thread i.e. John Dickson.

As a teacher, if I'd been marking a paper by you in which you argued against a person but had not bothered to even read the paper which the polemic was centred around, I would have no hestitation in failing you. This is either the sign of pure stupidity or unrivalled arrogance. You choose.

3. Nathan sowed together this serial piece of irrationality and misrepresentation: "Here's the way I interpreted the logic in the original post.

a. John Dickson has recently released a paper that suggests the presence of number patterns in Genesis 1 make it more likely to be a non literal account.

b. John Dickson is a respected Sydney Anglican.

c. The Gospel contains number patterns.

Conclusion: All Sydney Anglicans must therefore logically decide that the gospels are not a literal account...

Am I right so far?"

No Nathan, you're not.

The first mistake you make was to "interpret" my argument. You don't interpret my argument: you read it as it is. I know what I think. I know what I wrote. I expressed myself accurately. It doesn't need Nathan's irrational interpretation to tidy it up.

And this is why you guys fail to understand perspicuous Scripture - you want to interpret it rather than letting scripture speak for itself. One interprets scripture according to a preconceived game plan. In this context i.e. Genesis 1, it's through uniformitarianism, or at least a doctrine that's been greatly influenced by this atheist theory.

Dickson's putative respectability factor has nothing to do with the argument. Because you're basically dishonest or stupid you've thrown this in to muddy the waters as well as to present a clearly tendentious argument. It was Dave Lankshear who suggested that Dickson's PhD and standing in the community were relevant factors. So, Nathan, are you dishonest or stupid?

No, even if your attempt at putting forward a valid syllogism were not so feckless, we don't believe that "all Sydney Anglicans must therefore logically decide that the gospels are not a literal account". That does not follow from anything in the premisses and so either you've not been able to follow your own syllogism to its "rational" end or there is an enthymeme floating around. Do tell us, fan of logic.

What our point was, was that if you push the John Dickson line then you should, as a matter of logical consistency, apply that rule to all Scripture where these literary devices appear. Now if you can't at this very late stage see the logical issue at stake here then this site is not really for you...mate.

Speaking of rules, the Dickson argument generated a rule i.e. literary features = ahistoricity. It's either a specific rule only applicable to Genesis 1, and can be dismissed as ad hockery to tendentiously support his belief in long ages (though Dickson is evasive to even tell us what he holds to be true on this point!) or a universal.

If a particular rule then it's arbitrary and can only rely on evidence from within the text to support it. Since nothing in the text can be exegetically drawn out to base this claim upon - it would only be circular, in any case - then we again can dismissm it as meaningless.

Now if it is a universal rule - and Dickson implies this by his claiming that such literary devices do not occur in actual historical passages - then a reader is well within his epistemic rights to ask, "On what basis can you make a universal claim like this?" To say that these literary devices do not occur in historical passages begs the question that this is what defines historicity in Hebrew.

4. Nathan tells himself he's landed a KO: "Here's where the logical conventions go out the window...The Sydney Anglican Diocese is a broad church filled with different interpretations of different scriptural issues - all under the authority of scripture. John Dickson has plenty to say on "evangelism" that a number of Sydney Anglicans (including, I believe, the Archbishop) have a problem with... to suggest his views will always guide the diocese is false."

Yes, that does follow if your point b. and conclusion above were relevant in our case against Dickson. And of course they're not.

Once again, an example of the dishonesty or stupidity of someone who wants to play around with plain Scripture and the lengths they'll go to to "prove" their case i.e. they will invent or imagine ANYTHING, including falsly representing someone or lying to cover their butt.

5. Most of the remainder of your argument is a distortion of what we are claiming, so I won't respond in any detail. But let me throw up an analogy.

Let's say Dickson had said this: This car is a sport's car as it has a red paintjob. Now, someone who hears this would rightly conclude from Dickson's proposition means that any red car is a sport's car.

At the very moment a deliciously fast silver Bugatti murmurs past.
Hang on - this car is not red but certainly is a sport's car. John Dickson's case is thrown out by a single instance of a non-red sport's car.

Have you got that, Nathan, fan of logic?

6. Nathan dishonestly and evasively slides around my point about Exodus 31 which records in direct speech that "I, YHWH, created everything in 6 days.", by stating that, "I'm not here to argue point 5 - as I have said on numerous occasions I am not interested in disputing any interpretation of Genesis 1."

No, Nathan, you are a dishonest man (or you need glasses!). I never said Genesis 1 here but Exodus 31, a verse which Deliverance-like hog-ties you into a corner.

The Creator, our God, directly speaks to Moses and tells him that "I created everything in 6 days." It's not about interpretation, Mr Dishonesty, but about reading God's direct speech to Moses.

Repent, son, or you may be open to the charge of calling the Holy Spirit a deceiver and God a liar.

But of course, if you want to explain why you're not, let's hear your next piece of paralogism.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Nathan quotes me: "And [literary features] ARE in all historical passages"

He then throws down what he belives to be the Ace of Spades and says: "To demonstrate John's inability to argue with coherence...I can think of plenty of historical passages that don't contain number patterns"

But of course, Nathan, who routinely misuses precise philosophical terms, omits my previous and following linking statements, which are: "So what would falsify Dickson's case, Nathan, fan of logic? Wouldn't it be if one could demonstrate that these same literary features ARE found in passages that are more or less uniformly accepted as historical? Well, wouldn't it be?

And they ARE in all historical passages, like John's account of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection, the giving of the law at Mt Sinai, the various incidents in Abraham's life etc etc etc."

Nathan the fool can't even read that I didn't mean all passages that are historical have literary devices (they very well may, but since I haven't investigated it I can't say), but that ones that are broadly accepted by ALL conservative Christians as being historical (and then I give a few choice examples i.e. the end of Jesus' life, Abraham, the giving of the law), then they would have to reject these as being historical if they believe that Dickson's rule holds.

But of course, honesty and reading accurately a very easy counterargument is just too much of a burden for Nathan here who prefers to distort, misrepresent, lie, deceive, and evade logic, while all the time claiming he's a master of the subject.

Next!

John said...

The true biblical conservatives: 537

Vs

The faux biblical conservatives: half a point for turning up

John said...

I wrote: "So what would falsify Dickson's case, Nathan, fan of logic? Wouldn't it be if one could demonstrate that these same literary features ARE found in passages that are more or less uniformly accepted as historical? Well, wouldn't it be?

And they ARE in all historical passages, like John's account of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection, the giving of the law at Mt Sinai, the various incidents in Abraham's life etc etc etc."

Anon replies: "Well there's another fallacy: that assertion is proof. I can do that one: "the Bible's full of examples of texts using all the literary devices in Gen 1 in contexts which are clearly not meant to be taken literally." I could strengthen my argument: "It's obvious."

Hey, Anon, are you another "fan" of logic like young Nathan here? Certainly seems you are, judging by your complete wilful act of ignorance, except you are even more stupid or dishonest than Nathan.

Let's begin to hound you into disappearing.

Fool, it was Dickson who brought in the literary feature argument, not I. He made an implied universal claim that the inclusion of literary features in a passage renders it ahistorical.

Fool, Dickson's syllogism runs like this:

If P, then Q
P
Therefore Q, where P stands for ‘literary devices’ and Q is ‘ahistoricity’.

So, by denying the consequent we arrive at:

Not Q, then not P.

Not Q

Therefore not P

Now if Dickson's syllogism is sound then there can never be a passage where not Q is true and not P false. That is, there should be no passage that is historical and at the same time it isn't the case that it doesn't contain literary features i.e. that it contains literary features. In other words, according to Dickson, no historical passage can contain literary features.

Fool, I don't accept Dickson's premiss in the first place. My argument is based only on HIS syllogism.

Fool, as for being mere assertion, the statement is actually irrelevant. But to assist you out of your stupidity, read e.g. Kay's paper, which has the relevant academic proof from a plethora of even liberal scholars who have pointed out these very same literary features in the Bible's historical texts AND ancient secular historiography.

Fool, if you had bothered to read the blog you would have previously seen the reference to this article and others which show that Dickson's case is non-existent. But instead you just opened your mouth and let the world see your stupidity and irrationality.

F is for fool and Fail in 1st year logic.

anonymous said...

Hey, Anon, are you another "fan" of logic like young Nathan here? Certainly seems you are, judging by your complete wilful act of ignorance, except you are even more stupid or dishonest than Nathan.
Not a fan of your logic, john-boy, since it takes the form:

1. Develop a lame and largely irrelevant argument which generally fails to understand the point and addresses completely irrelevant points;

2. Add abuse, bluster, arrogance;

3. Throw in the names of logical fallacies which are relevant to the straw man you've created;

4. Add more abuse to strengthen the case.

Yep, profound and powerful logic at work there john-boy. Just not the sort of logic I'm a fan of.

Fool, as for being mere assertion, the statement is actually irrelevant.
I see, you think proof by assertion is irrelevant, I guess that's because your so fond of employing the technique (once you scrape away the abuse and juvenile name-calling).

But to assist you out of your stupidity, read e.g. Kay's paper, which has the relevant academic proof from a plethora of even liberal scholars who have pointed out these very same literary features in the Bible's historical texts AND ancient secular historiography.
Hopefully you don't mean the twaddle in Journal of Creation 21.2 (2007) which completely misses the point? If you mean another paper, perhaps you could post it online so we could all have a look.

neil moore said...

No case is made by Anonymous by referring to a paper as "twaddle" and "missing the point".

Justify please!

Neil Moore

Nathan said...

Dear John, fan of phalanges,

I'm afraid we have to break up. I'm not really interested in being subjected to anymore of your incoherent abuse and distortion of everything I say.

From what I can see the original post was written by Sam Drucker - not by John.

I have not pointed out anything to do with anything you have said John - my comments were regarding the logic of the original post.

I feel the original post was riddled with paranoid hyperbole - it took no external factors into account - ie the published body of John Dickson's work. It simply took one treatement of one passage and extrapolated without obeying any conventions of argument - claiming the view of "logical consistency" where no basic conventions of logic were obeyed.

John, fan of feet - do you truly believe that John Dickson is about to come out and deny the physical birth of Jesus Christ? Are you that stupid. John Dickson's credibility as an apologist - credibility he has spent years developing with the academic community as a historian and philosopher - would be shot to bits were he to so spectacularly back down.

John, lover of toes, if you were "my teacher" I would quit school. You are poisonous, vapid and nasty - I don't see any of these characteristics listed in the fruits of the spirit. Methinks your weighting of particular passages of scripture is misplaced. Perhaps you should be focusing on what Jesus actually taught - rather than harranguiing his followers and browbeating those who are your brethren.

What say you John, lover of feet?

John said...

Oh, too hot in the kitchen for you lads? Too bad.

John said...

Anon and Nathan,

It's wise that you've put in for a discontinue as I would have had to fail you.

That you have convinced yourselves that you have actually unpacked your proposition that we don't understand Dickson's case, that you possess a secret knowledge that no one else is privy to, that somehow, without stating what exactly it is that eludes us, that there is a true meaning to Dickson's paper, that a gnostic insight is the way to go, only demonstrates that you have forgotten your medication for the last few weeks.

When you want to bring honesty to a debate please return and debate the issue. But don't bring along this moral highground that vomits from your orifices and accuse me of being rude etc. You guys came on an initiated the rudeness. I just am tired of smiling to cowards who really aren't at all tough, they like putting out but hate receiving and then complain when their actions are called by what they are: stupid and dishonest.

This is the type of effeminate hypocrisy I've always hated about Christians. Thank God that it's Christ who makes Christianity what it is and not guys like you who can't even explain what their case is but accuse someone engaging on the issue that they don't know waht they are talking about. I mean, look at you Nathan: You couldn't even bother to read Dickson's paper yet you wanted to enter the fray on this isssue. This is why I characterised you as being arrogantly stupid.

John said...

Everyone,

I'd like you to know what sort of maladjusted "Christian" guy ol' Nathan is. Here is a quote from his blog where he sets out his superiority. Here is a puppy slagging off men and women who have had sometimes decades of life experience that this lovely man thinks is somehow worthless.

Nathan, you are a very good reason why young people shouldn't be listened to - you know nothing.

Oh yeh, the other vain, immature whinge he had. He doesn't stop at a stop sign, gets a ticket and then blames the cop.

Let's hear a pearl of wisdom from Mr 20-odd y.o: "Mature aged students though - the ones who through lack of better judgement thought that asking pointless hypothetical questions, that have no real application in the world they're so much more familiar with than the run-of-the-mill high school graduate, were actually improving the quality of the education of the younger "peers" who were just so lucky to have the benefit of their company in class - they are the worst kind of animal. Their existence is so pointless and vacuous that one wonders why they didn’t stick with whatever mediocre career path they were no doubt traversing when they decided "a law degree will no doubt aid my slowing ascent up the corporate ladder and keep the yapping jaws of the generation below me who already boast multiple paper qualifications thanks to the somewhat new university policy of maximising revenue through double degrees away from my heels for just that little bit longer...And that ladies and gentlemen, along with the fact that I wanted to salvage part of my soul, is why I dropped law – and also why I’m glad I don’t have to sit through a lecture with mature aged students who are being “retrained” or “reeducated” or “reskilled” on the company credit card. I’m also startled by the realisation that my peers (ala Ben) are now exactly that type of person."

Yep, no one is as clever as young Nathan. No one can think logically as well as he. What a savant!

Nathan said...

Dickson's paper was irrelevant to the issue I had with this post.

The issue was with the sensationalised heading, the shoddy premise underlying the argument and the underhanded hyperbole in the post.

Like I've argued the whole way through - the post was stupid. I have no issue with you taking issue with Dickson's paper - you're completely entitled to. But to take it and smear an entire diocese and suggest that this latest paper somehow will lead to Dickson undergoing a Copernicun revolution is ridiculous.

John, by all means, read my blog. In context my blog is a lighthearted response to things I confront in my life, in the papers and observations about what I encounter. It is predominantly for my friends and family as I said before, but I guess it is for my amusement - and I don't deny I suffer from "the arrogance of youth." I am a sinner - and for that I repent. I really do fail to see how my blog is relevant to this discussion.

Nathan said...

John,

I can only assume you're a mature aged student, who lives in Townsville and witnessed the stop sign incident and differs with my version of events? Or that your name is a pseudonym and we're actually aquaintences in real life? These are the only reasons I can think of for you feeling in a position to pass judgement on me.

Otherwise you're just a sad, sad, old man. I can't begin to understand how depressing your life must be if you spend so much of your time filling the internet with vile bilious rantings targetted not at those you don't identify with - but those you do.

gwen said...

I thought you left, Nathan. Did your "arrogance of youth" bring you back?

Gwen

Nathan said...

Gwen,

I thought John's quite personal attack deserved a response.

John said...

I'll make it even more personal.

Tell me on your blog where you have discussed anything Christian.

Your blogs seem to match the vain, shallow and worldly person you've shown yourself to be. That you dropped out of law school and took up, what was that again, media studies, only proves why you can't follow an argument, you make rash conclusions based on your own arguments and not the one presented, and generally present a complete disdain for truth.

Nathan you're a dishonest, self-centred lad who pushes into a subject which he has no insight into. In other words, you're a time waster.

You're still living under a haze of self-delusional rhetoric (rhetoric, isn't that the "degree" you earned) that persuades its owner that he's got the intellectual baggage, the background detail and the opponents' argument understood.

Nathan said...

John,

right from the beginning I was studying law and journalism.

I persisted with journalism because I believe communication is helpful for ministry - and I was more interested in serving my local church than finishing a law degree that would burden me with a large debt to pay - and prevent me entering into vocational ministry - which is my plan. I'll leave judging my suitability for that to people who know the real me - not the facet of me that is my blog.

I'll point you to my second most recent post which addressed the sanctity of life and reality of death in the context of a recent news story.

http://nathanintownsville.blogspot.com/2007/11/rack-off-lefty-scum.html

this one

this one

this one

this one

and this one

All deal with Christian issues. In fact - if you'd bothered to search my blog for the word "Christian" you'd have noticed quite a few posts.

See John, I have a couple of friends, you know, people who like me, who are non-Christians and regularly read my blog. I like them to get an insight into how Christians think through issues like the separation of church and state etc - but I also like to maintain a long distance relationship with them as I'm in Townsville - and this blog is an opportunity for some regular contact.

You John, are not contributing to a blog "seasoned with salt" for the benefit of outsiders - but are flooding the internet with poison. Men of your age and wisdom should no better - although I note your favourite activities, as listed in your profile are defacing private property, purposefully wasting the time of your fellow man, and dishonest fraud. So I won't take your rebukes to heart.

John said...

OK, so I apologise for the aChristian stuff. My mistake.
But my other comments still stand.

neil moore said...

Nathan, this blog has from the very beginning has addressed the integrity of the Word of God. The concern of posters here has been the departure of the Sydney Anglican Diocese from the conviction of the Word of God on the matter of origins.

Since you came onto this site other posters and myself have attempted to engage you on the Word of God (Warwick on Mark, John on Exodus 31 and myself on Exodus 20) but you have repeatedly avoided this engagement.

You therefore serve no worthwhile purpose here. Please go back into the world of your blogspot and leave this site to the theologically minded. I have been patient long enough

Neil Moore

Nathan said...

Neil,

My issue with this post had nothing to do with its scriptural content - and I have no issue with any of the scriptural issues raised - I agree that Exodus 20 says what it says - and has bearing on interpretation of Genesis 1. I also don't think adhering to six day creation is vital to evangelical Christianity.

I'm not here to take issue with your issues - although I have a few - my comment took issue with this particular post, and subsequent comments took issue with John's treatment of my comments.

John said...

Nathan,

Have you even bothered to read Dickson's paper, yet?

Nathan said...

Yes John, I have. I assume it's the paper published on Public Christianity.

It was thought provoking.

I fail to see how it was relevant to my response to THIS particular post. On THIS particular blog - and the logic contained therein.

I will state again - my issue isn't with your disagreement with Dickson's paper - I feel you are free to do so - and I think Christianity by its very nature (ie made up of sinful humans) will always be riddled with disputes on issues of doctrine and theology.

My problem is with the logic that says "because in this instance Dickson feels this way he must therefore feel this way in all future instances."

My problem was also with the sensationalised headline - and the fact that the central argument of the post failed to take the entire body of Dickson's work into account when casting its judgement on him, and by association the Sydney Anglican Diocese.

Subsequently I was troubled by the reception my questioning received - and the treatment I received for daring to question the premise of this post. Wild aspersions were cast in my direction - and none of you (to my knowledge) has ever met me.

I have since trawled the archives of this blog - and have come to the conclusion that those who have traversed a similar path to me in the past and have since left chose a wise course of action.

You sirs (and mam I believe in one case) are people of the lowest order - who do not seek to identify false teachers - as you claim. But add to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ - and cause division amongst brothers. To paraphrase Paul.

I am happy to stand on the fruits of my labour in the Lord - and happy to judge the Anglican diocese on the fruits of theirs.

I find yours wanting - I see no demonstration (particularly on your part John) of the fruits of the spirit.

And to paraphrase the Black Eyed Peas - I find myself asking "where is the love" - which is afterall, that by which we are to be known and recognised as the people of Christ.

Warwick said...

Nathan you write of divisions, and Paul but I see Paul in Romans 16:17pointing out that it is those who speak contrary to the teachings received who cause the divisions. You do not paraphrase him but dishonestly distort what he said.


Considering who causes the division: do you say that Dickson et al have a view of Genesis in line with the NT teaching Paul spoke of, or not? For example Jesus says man was made at the beginning of the creation, doesn't He? Dickson et al teach that man arrived after billions of years, almost at the very end. The NT teaches that Adam was the first man who sinned, bringing the curse, and death with it, into creation. Dickson et al say no, death has always been here as long as life has existed. Therefore who is it who causes divisions?

It is crude of you to call us people of the lowest order as the purpose here is to defend Christianity against poor theology which is leading the church into liberalism, as others in the past led many other streams of Anglicanism (and other denominations) astray.

I am not offended by your condemnation as I feel you are part of the problem, not a supporter of the truth of God's Word. I think you are just an arguer, a debater, for the sake of debate.

The love Nathan is that we to a person toil purely in the hope that those, whose anti-Biblical theology we oppose, will see the truth and turn away from their down-hill path to liberalism. We here all know people who have seen the truth and have expressed their thanks to us for showing them the way.

It is a lie, and a joke to say we who Believe His Word is Truth, from word one, add anything to the Gospel, when in reality the false theology we oppose removes something from it, its historical foundation. Cheap innacurate shot, and straight from the 'Bag the Bible believers' manual.

John said...

Nathan,

Now that I know you've read the paper, please inform us where we are wrong to say that Dickson's argument is that Genesis 1 is not history because of the inclusion of particular literary features. Here is the relevant quote from Dickson's paper:

"A similar situation pertains to the first book of the Bible. Genesis 1 is not written in apocalyptic, of course, but it is composed in a style quite unlike
the ‘historical narrative’ of, say, the Gospels in their accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. There is no getting around the fact that the Gospels writers were claiming to write history at that point—whether or not readers end
up accepting what is reported. Genesis 1, on the other hand, is not written in the style we normally associate with historical report. It is difficult even
to describe the passage as prose. The original Hebrew of this passage is marked by intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition
and the lavish use of number symbolism. These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose.
This observation must be given some weight. While on literary grounds one cannot say that the world was not created in six days, one can safely conclude that the concerns of Genesis 1 lie elsewhere than providing a cosmic chronology. The genre of our text suggests that the author
intended to convey his meaning through subtle and sophisticated means, not through the surface plot of the narrative (i.e. creation in six days)."

Nathan said...

Straw man John. Straw man - I have not argued that regarding Dickson's paper - that is a fair representation of his paper. The title of the paper is the "Genre of Genesis" - his paper does not address the use of literary devices in the whole bible - simply in Genesis.

It's clear that you differ with Dickson on this interpretation - as is your right. I don't believe disagreeing with an interpretation while holding scripture as "inerrant" and "authorative", and the "word of God" constitutes heresy. It may be wrong. I'm not sure I can hold to the idea that any time we get something wrong in the bible we are "heretics" - more sinful humans. If you changed the title of your blog to "Sydney Anglican Sinners" or were simply a Sydney Answers in Genesis chapter then that would be fine. I'd be supportive of your right to do that - provided you preach Christ crucified.

I for one rejoice in the fact that the Sydney Anglican Diocese preaches Christ crucified - Philippians 1:18 - and would rejoice with you in your ministry were I convinced that you were doing the same.

neil moore said...

I sat in the audience one night at New College when John Dickson presented his paper and I observed a man in question time ask John Dickson whether God was speaking the truth about His creative activity He refers to in Exodus 20:11. I was astounded to hear John Dickson say that God was using a literary device when speaking at Exodus 20:11.

So John Dickson does not confine his literary device application to Genesis.

John Disckson is an influential man in the Sydney Diocese. Something is written about him in just about every edition of Southern Cross - the Diocesan Newspaper. His methodology has potential to influence the Diocese.

So when does Johnnie and Joanie Pewsitter read Scripture and determine when God is using a literary device in apparently historical narrative? Well they must defer to John Dickson or his followers. This smells like a return to Popery - something the Protestant Church threw off centuries ago. Nathan is an unwitting advocate of this "return to Egypt".

Neil Moore

Warwick said...

I was at that same talk and it was obvious to me that Dickson does not take Genesis as history. Bits may be history but the rest seems to be the great unknowable, a text so full of literary devices that it cannot be taken as historical narrative. The problem being that Jesus and the apostles quoted from it, and referred to it as historical fact, the basis of the Gospel.

As Dickson et al disagree they are in fact disagreeing with Jesus. Surley this places them in another camp.

It indeed smells like a return to popery where the 'great man' pontificates and the peasants are expected to accept his rambliongs as the Word of God.

You don't like the term heretic but what better term could be applied to people who are leading the unwitting away from the historical basis for the Gospel?

What they are doing, what other Anglicans have done before them will lead many away from saving faith. Heretic seems too weak a word to describe such people.

Nathan said...

I would suggest that as a matter of consistency John Dickson must interpret any reference to the "creation account" as employing a literary device. It would be inconsistent to do otherwise.

I don't see them applying it to the "historical Jesus" - or his miracles.

I don't believe that a different interpretation of Genesis 1 (and any passage that refers directly to Genesis 1) will prevent the holder from being saved. Surely, if they are in error it's a forgivable sin - I don't believe it constitutes blaspheming the spirit.

Warwick and Neil - perhaps you can tell me at what point you believe saving faith is lost?

Warwick said...

Nathan as I see it the LA/TE view removes the historical foundation for the Gospel. If there is no real historical basis for the Gospel then why did Jesus actually have to historically die for something which never historically happened, as described? Maybe the liberals are correct when they say Jesus did not literally die or rise again, it was just a spiritual lesson? How can a LA,Te person say they are wrong?

Can you still be a Christian if you say Jesus did not die and rise again? The liberals say you can! But scripture says you can't.

THe NT says the wages of sin is death and that death came into the world through Adam, that Jesus came to physically die to pay the price of sin. What is sin, it's rebellion against God isn't it and the NT says rebellion is what Adam actually did.

Also the LA,TE view contradicts Jesus and the apostles teaching on Genesis. How many times can someone reject what the NT teaches on sin/salvation before they are teaching another Gospel?

How can anyone insist they follow Jesus as Lord, Creator, and Redeemer while rejecting what He says?

Is it a 'forgiveable sin' if someone who claims to be Christian rejects, the straight-forward view of Genesis as attested to in the NT, preferring the evolutionary view of men who weren't there over the Word of the God who was there and cannot lie? I don't think so

Nathan maybe you can tell us at which verse Genesis stops being some purely spiritual lesson and becomes factual history?

I notice you persistently refuse to answer questions on Jesus saying man was made at the beginning of the creation?

You have also not commented on your misuse of Romans 16:17.

John said...

Nathan said: "I would suggest that as a matter of consistency John Dickson must interpret any reference to the "creation account" as employing a literary device. It would be inconsistent to do otherwise."

No! You still do not understand the argument. You want to reinvent his argument i.e. do a postmodernist twist.

You have displayed an arrant lack of logic here. You've actually reversed and added to Dickson's argument. You've said that if it refers to creation then it must have literary devices. Dickson didn't say this. He actually said if it contains literary devices it can't be history. It has nothing to do with whether or not it concerns creation.

Look, I'll isolate Dickosn's claim, not your imagined idea about what he said:

"Genesis 1, on the other hand, is not written in the style we normally associate with historical report. It is difficult even
to describe the passage as prose. The original Hebrew of this passage is marked by intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition
and the lavish use of number symbolism. These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose."

Please say you understand now. Because Genesis 1 contains these literary features and [putatively] other historical passages don't, then Genesis 1 can't be historical. That is, the inclusion of chiasmus etc means a passage isn't historical prose.

Please say you can understand Dickson's really basic argument.

neil moore said...

This is really becoming a waste fo time trying to communicate with Nathan. He just cannot grasp simple concepts or the thread of an argument.

Anything to defend the men of the Diocese - even a nonsensical argument - seems to be his motivation. In this he follows the path of several who have gone before him. This 'halo effect' of the Diocese and some of its men does not serve the Name of the Lord, particularly when their irreverent treatment of the Word of God is exposed here time and time again. Repentance is required from them not rationalising their sin.

I just can't go on with Nathan. I have important things to do like preparing future blogs on this site. Like Dave Lankshear, Nathan is off my list.

Neil Moore

anonymous said...

"Genesis 1, on the other hand, is not written in the style we normally associate with historical report. It is difficult even to describe the passage as prose. The original Hebrew of this passage is marked by intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition and the lavish use of number symbolism. These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose."

Please say you understand now. Because Genesis 1 contains these literary features and [putatively] other historical passages don't, then Genesis 1 can't be historical. That is, the inclusion of chiasmus etc means a passage isn't historical prose.


So the basic points are:

1. Genesis 1 contains intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition and the lavish use of number symbolism.

2. Unequivocal examples of "historical prose" from the Bible do not contain a conglomeration of stylistic features such as intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition and the lavish use of number symbolism.

Dickson thus concludes that this clear distinction sets Genesis 1 apart from "historical prose."

SAHs and YECS claim either that these are unimportant and irrelevant to the meaning of Genesis 1 and that they should be ignored or else that they ARE found elsewhere in unambiguous examples of historiography (although no example has been cited which actually does contain a similar accumulation of stylistic features).

The latter forms of argument are about equivalent to either (1) the words "once upon a time" at the beginning of a narrative in an English text are unimportant and irrelevant to the truthfulness and historical accuracy of the text, or (2) many undisputed pieces of English language historiography begin with "once upon a time..."

John said...

1. Anon wrote:"(although no example has been cited which actually does contain a similar accumulation of stylistic features)."

Anon also wrote earlier: "Hopefully you don't mean [Kay's] twaddle in Journal of Creation 21.2 (2007) which completely misses the point?"

I would have thought by the latter comment you had actually read the JoC article. The article cites a number of scholars who have identified these very same literary features in many other parts of the Bible, all of which ARE historical e.g. the trial and crucifixion account in John's Gospel. (I can't provide details because I don't have the article in front of me, but since you say you have read it then you'll know that this true.)

So why do you say that there has been no examples cited when we have referred to these?

2. If the specific literary features cited by Dickson do in fact determine meaning, please tell us on what basis they do. That is, where can we find the rule external to Genesis 1 that guides Dickson to claim this?

3. The analogy is irrelevant. We don't need to remove ourselves one step from the actual. We have Dickson's very precise argument as above i.e. "The original Hebrew of this passage is marked by intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition
and the lavish use of number symbolism. These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose."

None of us here is interested in being led of the actual argument. It's a very easy argument to understand that Dickson has made. You don't need a degree in biblical history to grasp it. Anyone with an ability to read English and who isn't braindead can grasp HIS argument i.e. if a passage has literary devices it AIN'T history.

Anon, you may be in an industry where you can bend truth but logic keeps us honest. Both you and Nathan are attempting to play with logic and logic won't allow it. People who try to bend logic to fit their agenda only have one name: they're called dishonest.

John said...

Anon,

So tell all of us, at the time of your calling it twaddle, had you read Kay's article?

anonymous said...

Anon also wrote earlier: "Hopefully you don't mean [Kay's] twaddle in Journal of Creation 21.2 (2007) which completely misses the point?"

I would have thought by the latter comment you had actually read the JoC article. The article cites a number of scholars who have identified these very same literary features in many other parts of the Bible, all of which ARE historical e.g. the trial and crucifixion account in John's Gospel. (I can't provide details because I don't have the article in front of me, but since you say you have read it then you'll know that this true.)


The article cited above does not include the information you claim. Perhaps part II does, but I have not cited that article above and have not yet seen a copy of it. If you believe it provides decisive information then I'd be quite happy for you to quote the relevant details here.

2. If the specific literary features cited by Dickson do in fact determine meaning, please tell us on what basis they do. That is, where can we find the rule external to Genesis 1 that guides Dickson to claim this?

Where does Dickson claim that literary features alone determine meaning? Your counterpoint is to imply that words alone create meaning without any regard for the form. Or do you do allow syntactical features to have some impact on the meaning of words? Then you arbitrarily draw the line in the sand and imply that other features of the text have no bearing on meaning.

3. The analogy is irrelevant. We don't need to remove ourselves one step from the actual. We have Dickson's very precise argument as above i.e. "The original Hebrew of this passage is marked by intricate structure, rhythm, parallelism, chiasmus, repetition and the lavish use of number symbolism. These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose."

None of us here is interested in being led of the actual argument. It's a very easy argument to understand that Dickson has made. You don't need a degree in biblical history to grasp it. Anyone with an ability to read English and who isn't braindead can grasp HIS argument i.e. if a passage has literary devices it AIN'T history.


OK, you've now successfully argued that you are braindead. Good work.

Dickson's argument is rather more subtle than you've managed to grasp, although you are correct to repeatedly note that it isn't rocket science. As I said before, he's argued that clear examples of biblical historiography do not employ such an accumulation of literary devices as found in Genesis 1, Genesis 1 does have them, the difference is significant and should not be ignored. This does not deny that historiography must be devoid of all literary devices (indeed, it is difficult to write extended texts without employing some literary devices from time to time).

So if you really do have clear examples of historiography employing all the literary features Dickson identified in Genesis 1, now's the time to share them with the rest of us.

Anon, you may be in an industry where you can bend truth but logic keeps us honest. Both you and Nathan are attempting to play with logic and logic won't allow it. People who try to bend logic to fit their agenda only have one name: they're called dishonest.

Ah, john, now playing your games again by making irrelevant and unsupported claims based on your straw-man reading of others. It's obviously time to throw in a comment like "john, you may continue to feel it is appropriate to tell lies about your opponents' arguments and misrepresent them, but we value accuracy and truth." Those who label the honest 'dishonest' can hardly be trusted.

John said...

1. Yes, Anon, the relevant information is in part 2.

2. Anon wrote: "Dickson's argument is rather more subtle than you've managed to grasp, although you are correct to repeatedly note that it isn't rocket science. "

Please, what subtlety of Dickosn's argument have we missed?

3. Anon said: "As I said before, he's argued that clear examples of biblical historiography do not employ such an accumulation of literary devices as found in Genesis 1, Genesis 1 does have them, the difference is significant and should not be ignored."

Sorry, Anon, but I must have missed that. Where did you actually state that you agree with Dickson's position?

4. Anon wrote: "This does not deny that historiography must be devoid of all literary devices (indeed, it is difficult to write extended texts without employing some literary devices from time to time)."

Now having 2 bob each way are we?

Actually, at this point, I'm not particularly interested in your ideas about rules-of-thumb. I want to demonstrate that DICKSON'S argument doesn't hold together.

One can't have it both ways (unless you have a preference for New Age "logic"). Either John's right and you won't find examples of literary features he's listed in historiographic sections. Or he's wrong and you will find these literary features in historiographic sections of the Bible (and outside the Bible), which means the SADs can throw his thesis out and never bring it into a discussion again.

Dickson has set literary features as a test for identifying historiography. Let's see if his litmus test works.

anonymous said...

1. Yes, Anon, the relevant information is in part 2.

But you're keeping it secret? Surely you can cite one example from it here?

I'll get hold of it at some point, but the opportunity won't arise for a while.

2. Anon wrote: "Dickson's argument is rather more subtle than you've managed to grasp, although you are correct to repeatedly note that it isn't rocket science. "

Please, what subtlety of Dickosn's argument have we missed?


You're right, it isn't all that subtle, which makes it all the more surprising that you've missed it. What are you missing? The ones you've also missed from my previous comment: let me quote it again for you and try and highlight the bits you're missing:

... clear examples of biblical historiography do not employ such an accumulation of literary devices as found in Genesis 1, Genesis 1 does have them, the difference is significant and should not be ignored.

It's not an argument over the presence verses the absence of literary devices: that is an invalid black and white distinction you've tried to introduce in order to find some way to counter his point.

Sorry, Anon, but I must have missed that. Where did you actually state that you agree with Dickson's position?

My reference in "as I said before" was an allusion to my point (2) in the same post.

4. Anon wrote: "This does not deny that historiography must be devoid of all literary devices (indeed, it is difficult to write extended texts without employing some literary devices from time to time)."

Now having 2 bob each way are we?


No. I'm simply explaining exactly what Dickson says according to the very words you quoted: "These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose." See the word "together"? It is not there just to fill in a bit of space in the sentence.

Actually, at this point, I'm not particularly interested in your ideas about rules-of-thumb. I want to demonstrate that DICKSON'S argument doesn't hold together.

Fine, then perhaps you should present them accurately.

One can't have it both ways (unless you have a preference for New Age "logic"). Either John's right and you won't find examples of literary features he's listed in historiographic sections. Or he's wrong and you will find these literary features in historiographic sections of the Bible (and outside the Bible), which means the SADs can throw his thesis out and never bring it into a discussion again.

And there you go misrepresenting his argument in order to demonise him on your blog. You should have written "either John's right and you won't find examples of all the literary features he's listed together in historiographic sections. Or he's wrong and you will find these literary features together in historiographic sections of the Bible..."

Dickson has set literary features as a test for identifying historiography. Let's see if his litmus test works.

It has to go both ways: can you explain why you should ignore them, or cite clear examples where such an array of literary features appear together in an unequivocally historiographical text?

John said...

Before we begin this mad exercise in casuistry, three questions:

1. Why has no other person apart from Dickson, in the whole history of the Church, not noticed that it is these literary features which make Genesis 1 ahistorical?

2. On what epistemological basis is Dickson warranted to say that it is THIS sum total appearance of these literary devices in Genesis 1, in contradistinction to only a putative one or two in accepted historiographical passages, that determines it to be ahistorical?

3. What other passages can you nominate, which we all agree are ahistorical, that abundantly display all these literary features in similar vein to Genesis 1?

anonymous said...

Before we begin this mad exercise in casuistry...

john, you're too late, your casuistry began long ago. Nonetheless, it is good of you to admit to your methodological preferences.

1. Why has no other person apart from Dickson, in the whole history of the Church, not noticed that it is these literary features which make Genesis 1 ahistorical?

You don't seriously believe this stuff all originates with Dickson, do you? Blocher makes similar claims, John C. Collins, Longman, to name but a few. But why does that matter? Are you now going to appeal to authority?

2. On what epistemological basis is Dickson warranted to say that it is THIS sum total appearance of these literary devices in Genesis 1, in contradistinction to only a putative one or two in accepted historiographical passages, that determines it to be ahistorical?

Can't you deal with the questions on the table before you? Is your response simply to throw out more questions in the hope that we'll all forget that you haven't addressed the significant issues raised already?

Why don't you get out your copy of Kay's second article and cite some of the passages you have so confidently asserted overthrow Dickson's claims, or are you now backing away from that claim?

3. What other passages can you nominate, which we all agree are ahistorical, that abundantly display all these literary features in similar vein to Genesis 1?

Well, previously you said you were not interested in what I thought but were interested in Dickson's argument. Now you've changed tack and instead want to know my opinions? Why is that? Now that your spurious arguments have been laid bare are you going to avoid the issue, change the topic, and hope no-one notices?

Now, as it happens, I can think of at least one passage off the top of my head that meets the criteria established above. But then I would want to qualify the a-historical vs. historical disjunction you (and many of you comrades) are so fond of trying to foist upon your opponents.

So when you go some way towards addressing the questions and issues raised earlier rather than trying to divert the discussion, and when you offer up some examples of the passages in Kay's article which you claim prove your case, then I'll happily move to discuss these issues.

gwen said...

John said: "Anyone with an ability to read English and who isn't braindead can grasp HIS argument i.e. if a passage has literary devices it AIN'T history."

and Anonymous replied: "OK, you've now successfully argued that you are braindead. Good work."

and I say that Anonymous makes an incorrect assertion and lacking logic. If an intelligent person and an unintelligent person (who is colloquially called "braindead')
reach the same conclusion on a matter this outcome does not make the intelligent person "braindead".

Gwen

anonymous said...

Actually, gwen, it is more like this: if a purportedly intelligent person claims that the only type of person not to be able to understand an argument is brain-dead but cannot themselves understand the argument, then they must be brain-dead by their own definition.

Now since your contribution completely fails to address any of the pertinent issues and can't even grasp the point it addresses, it would probably be better if you just stick to reading.

John said...

I asked: "What other passages can you nominate, which we all agree are ahistorical, that abundantly display all these literary features in similar vein to Genesis 1?"

Anon replies: "Well, previously you said you were not interested in what I thought but were interested in Dickson's argument. Now you've changed tack and instead want to know my opinions?"

Apparently got tickets on yourself.

And I'm still not interested in your OPINION but in the facts. You've put your hand up for Dickson and claimed that the inclusion of the word "together", as in "These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose", somehow means that we should ignore the predominating view of the Church that Genesis 1 is history.

Since you believe that the inclusion of these devices means that Genesis 1 isn't history then I believe it is quite appropriate to ask you to show us other passages where all these devices appear and it is unanimous that these passages are not history. After all, it's a novel theory that your supporting one that really doesn't find a place in Church history until quite late.

anonymous said...

Since you believe that the inclusion of these devices means that Genesis 1 isn't history then I believe it is quite appropriate to ask you to show us other passages where all these devices appear and it is unanimous that these passages are not history.

I assume, by virtue of the fact that you're avoiding returning to your previous assertions about Dickson's logic and argument, that you concede that you were barking up the wrong tree before.

Since you're also avoiding providing any evidence in support of your claim that Dickson is wrong because Marc Kay has identified historiographical passages which do contain the literary features Dickson identifies in Genesis 1 it seems clear that Kay's article has made the same mistake and is thus guilty of both misrepresenting Dickson and is also guilty of the sort of logically spurious argument you seem so fond of accusing others of committing. (I mean, the jibe about me believing that Gen 1 is not history reflects an inability to read or understand my previous caveat about the disjunction you make.)

So instead of addressing any of the previous issues, you just want to ignore the problems they've raised for your arguments and try another tack. But john, the problems don't go away if you ignore them, they're still there you know. The fact that Dickson has demonstrated that Genesis 1 doesn't look like normal historiography in the OT remains unexplained. In fact, it is precisely because you ignore the differences that you misinterpret the text so badly!

After all, it's a novel theory that your supporting one that really doesn't find a place in Church history until quite late.

So now back to the appeal to authority, and another spurious one at that. The history of interpretation of Genesis 1 is not as uniform as you imply, and you ought to know that. Furthermore, this argument means you also must believe it is heretical to speak of the Earth going around the Sun!

Come on, john, put up or shut up: let's have some answers instead of blatant attempts to avoid problems with your previous claims and arguments, or else let's hear you own up to your indiscretions. Then it will be appropriate to move to the next issue.

John said...

1. Anon wrote: "I assume, by virtue of the fact that you're avoiding returning to your previous assertions about Dickson's logic and argument, that you concede that you were barking up the wrong tree before."

No, by no means I'm not conceding. You haven't proved a thing yet -you've merely supported Dickson's assertion that "These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose."

You and Dickson have made this claim. Remember it was Dickson who publicly presented the paper and now you rush to his defence. The ball is in your court. I will quite happily present my case soon but I thought it reasonable for you to provide us with unambiguous examples of non-poetic, non-historical writing. Is that really too much to ask? I mean, there must be a plethora of examples for you and Dickson to claim this.

2. The fact that Dickson used the word 'together' doesn't kill off the argument. Of the 5 or so devices Dickson listed, what if a passage had only 4 or 3 etc? At what point does it stop being non-history and suddenly become history? What objective standard does a layman use to measure the divide between history and non-history? And where does this rule originate?

3. The word 'together' then tacitly concedes that these same literary devices can in fact appear in historiography, something Dickson doesn't openly admit. Surely, if this were what he meant why did he not mention that all these features do appear in writing which is clearly historiographical?

4. You keep on repeating the mantra "The fact that Dickson has demonstrated that Genesis 1 doesn't look like normal historiography in the OT remains unexplained." But you still haven't proved this. Show us (a) a number of passages that have all these literary features present and which you and I can agree are not historiographical material (b) passages which have less than the number of Dickson's lised devices but which are more than, say, 2. [I realise that the above is slightly repetitious of point 2 but forgive me for that]
Surely it would be beneficial for the discussion to contrast these apples and oranges so we can all see the differences rather than talking so vaguely and theoretically.

5. Anon wrote: "So now back to the appeal to authority, and another spurious one at that. The history of interpretation of Genesis 1 is not as uniform as you imply, and you ought to know that."

It's hardly irrational to uphold what was virtually a unanimous belief pre-Darwin i.e. that the world was young and that the days of Genesis 1, Exodus 20 and 31 meant 6 actual, successive days. The few exceptions to this appear to have been influenced by extra-biblical considerations. Even Dickson's list of who didn't believe in 6 days as 6 days is not exactly correct (can we please address this at a later time?!)

6. He also said: "Furthermore, this argument means you also must believe it is heretical to speak of the Earth going around the Sun!"

Why would it be?

gwen said...

Anonymous said: "Actually, gwen, it is more like this: if a purportedly intelligent person claims that the only type of person not to be able to understand an argument is brain-dead but cannot themselves understand the argument, then they must be brain-dead by their own definition."

Actually, NO! You have by no means demonstrated your case that John cannot understand the argument.

What I said still holds. Please raise the merit of your argument or you still receive a fail mark.

Gwen

anonymous said...

1. Anon wrote: "I assume, by virtue of the fact that you're avoiding returning to your previous assertions about Dickson's logic and argument, that you concede that you were barking up the wrong tree before."

No, by no means I'm not conceding. You haven't proved a thing yet -you've merely supported Dickson's assertion that "These features are not observed together in those parts of the Bible we recognize as historical prose."


On the contrary, john, I think we've now demonstrated that you are unable to back up your assertion that the features Dickson identifies are found in biblical historiography. If that is not the case, your consistent failure to provide the evidence you claim to have is puzzling. Your response is simply to ask a different question in the hope that this issue will pass away.

You and Dickson have made this claim. Remember it was Dickson who publicly presented the paper and now you rush to his defence. The ball is in your court. I will quite happily present my case soon but I thought it reasonable for you to provide us with unambiguous examples of non-poetic, non-historical writing. Is that really too much to ask? I mean, there must be a plethora of examples for you and Dickson to claim this.

There you go again. I'm afraid you're wrong: the ball remains in your court because you have not provided the evidence to back up your original claims and keep insisting that we ignore that and move to a different issue. How about this, john, let's address the initial problem first before we start introducing additional matters. Let's see your evidence. You claimed Dickson's argument was invalid based on these examples you supposedly have, but fail to provide them. You point to an article by Marc Kay, but seem unable to provide any example from that article. Instead, you want to move to a different question.

2. The fact that Dickson used the word 'together' doesn't kill off the argument. Of the 5 or so devices Dickson listed, what if a passage had only 4 or 3 etc? At what point does it stop being non-history and suddenly become history? What objective standard does a layman use to measure the divide between history and non-history? And where does this rule originate?

I see now that you're trying to move the goalposts! Previously you claimed to have counter-examples, but now it seems you need to adjust the requirements so that your proof-texts are going to accomplish the task. It seems patently clear, at this point, that your famous logic has been proven to be entirely spurious because you were unable to grasp Dickson's supposedly simple and obvious claim.

3. The word 'together' then tacitly concedes that these same literary devices can in fact appear in historiography, something Dickson doesn't openly admit. Surely, if this were what he meant why did he not mention that all these features do appear in writing which is clearly historiographical?

That's certainly pushing the semantics a bit, don't you think? Go back and read what you've written and think about it for a bit. Had he used your second sentence, most readers would have come away thinking that he was implying that Gen 1 was entirely normal historiographical writing. Somehow I don't think that was his point.

Show us (a) a number of passages that have all these literary features present and which you and I can agree are not historiographical material...

Aside from moving the goalposts, you are unjustifiably inverting the argument. You continue to prevaricate in an attempt to avoid providing the evidence in support of your initial claim, evidence that you said was readily available but seems to elude you now.

It's not hard, john. Just give us one example. You said you could.

Or admit you had it wrong from the beginning.

Then let's address these other issues.

anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Actually, gwen, it is more like this: if a purportedly intelligent person claims that the only type of person not to be able to understand an argument is brain-dead but cannot themselves understand the argument, then they must be brain-dead by their own definition."

Actually, NO! You have by no means demonstrated your case that John cannot understand the argument.

What I said still holds. Please raise the merit of your argument or you still receive a fail mark.


Ah, gwen. Your approach to this discussion is simply to throw in a comment which has the argumentative force of "you're wrong." In light of this, asking me to "raise the merit" of my argument sounds a little hollow.

As for "receive a fail mark," gwen, it seems clear that you are entirely unqualified to be making any such assessment if you cannot clearly see through john's attempts to avoid acknowledging that he has misunderstood Dickson's argument.

As I said before, if you have nothing meaningful to contribute, kindly save me the bandwidth of having to download your pointless remarks.

John said...

OK, Anon, just this once and then you have to give the evidence that we've asked for or you have to go away because I feel that all you're doing is playing a children's game about control and it's getting very boring. From the very beginning of your coming onto this blog you were aggressive and rud. You didn't like that the fact that we don't abide by the Anglo rules of niceness and give as good as we get.

The Flood account, which Jesus and Peter both upheld as historical, contains chiasmus, repetition, parallelism, intricate structure and a heavy dependency on numbers.

Now you tell us when historicity begins or is lost when literary features drop out or appear.

It's incredible that the Church had to wait for 2,000 years until Dickson and you came along before our blindness to Genesis 1's not being historical writing was removed. What a God we have there. Just imagine, the Church got it wrong all that time. Luther, Calvin, Theophilus, Rambam, Aquinas, Augustine, Lightfoot etc etc were all blind.

I've hardly moved the goalpoasts. You've contended that because I've asked you to show the evidence for Dickson's theory i.e. examples of non-historiographic material which contain these devices and historiographic material which doesn't, then this means I've altered the terms of debate. Oh, surely you can do better than that. You're like a little spoilt child who wants everything his own way.

gwen said...

Because Anonymous continues in a mistaken belief that he has proved his alleagtion of John being "brain-dead" I must declare Anonymous to be a failure.

In addition to that Anonymous has a lot of false pride. I must therefore ask Anonymous:

Anonymous, who is Jesus Christ to you?

Gwen

neil moore said...

Look, its not a matter for Christians as to what John Dickson or blustering followers of him say about the Word of God.

It is really only a matter for followers of Jesus Christ as to what the Word says.

If Genesis 1 was unsupported by other Scriptural passages then I could understand a degree of contention. However, the very utterances of God Himself found at Exodus 20:11 and 31:17ff render a seamless confirmation of Genesis 1.

Leave it lawyers and others to search for moot points to undermine the clear Word of God.

As for my family and I, we will follow the very Words of God. Our trust is in God not in men.

Neil Moore

anonymous said...

OK, Anon, just this once and then you have to give the evidence that we've asked for or you have to go away because I feel that all you're doing is playing a children's game about control and it's getting very boring.

Coming from you, john, that's rich.

From the very beginning of your coming onto this blog you were aggressive and rud. You didn't like that the fact that we don't abide by the Anglo rules of niceness and give as good as we get.

Do you see the logical inconsistency in your above statement? Probably not. In actuality I've modelled my responses on your own fine aggressive and "rud" work.

The Flood account, which Jesus and Peter both upheld as historical, contains chiasmus, repetition, parallelism, intricate structure and a heavy dependency on numbers.

ROFL. No, really. Is that it? Don't you remember your original claim:

But to assist you out of your stupidity, read e.g. Kay's paper, which has the relevant academic proof from a plethora of even liberal scholars who have pointed out these very same literary features in the Bible's historical texts AND ancient secular historiography.

I was under the impression that you were claiming that you could provide a reference to some text which even liberal scholars agreed was historiography, but instead you point to the flood narrative. That's tantamount to arguing that the story of the Three Little Pigs is historically true by pointing to Goldilocks and the Three Bears since it includes similar literary devices.

Of course I like the way you had to throw in the reference to Jesus and Peter, because it's clear that you are entirely aware of just how weak your case is. Or perhaps you think that all readers of the text were just as incapable as you seem to be of escaping from the simplistic but entirely spurious disjunction you've sought to establish between literal history and non-history.

Come on, john. According to you Kay has provided plenty of examples from historiographical texts. Let's be generous and allow anything from Gen 12-50, the remainder of the Pentateuch, the Deuteronomic History, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah. If you have half a brain you'd be aware that this is in itself quite generous, since many liberal scholars will assign most of this to be entirely fictional. So I've allowed far more leeway here than the liberal scholars Kay has found would have available to them, so surely that's not a problem?

It's incredible that the Church had to wait for 2,000 years until Dickson and you came along before our blindness to Genesis 1's not being historical writing was removed.

Well, we had to wait about 1950 years before scientific creationism got hold of the text and abused it. Then we had to wait about 1500 years before we decided that the language in the Bible about the earth being fixed was figurative. But, of course, there you go again trying to foist your simplistic and naive disjunction on the text. It has to be your type of history or no history at all. That straw man reflects either hubris or stupidity, or perhaps both.

I've hardly moved the goalpoasts. You've contended that because I've asked you to show the evidence for Dickson's theory i.e. examples of non-historiographic material which contain these devices and historiographic material which doesn't, then this means I've altered the terms of debate. Oh, surely you can do better than that. You're like a little spoilt child who wants everything his own way.

You crack me up, john. The discussion begins with you claiming you have proof, but when asked to provide it you try to avoid doing so by asking different questions and demanding answers. You now complain that by asking that you actually back up your assertions that I'm behaving like a spoilt child. Such a good argument, that one:

john: "I've got proof that you're wrong!"

anon: "Show it to me!"

john: "You're acting like a spoilt child, wanting your own way!"

You should go into professional debating. You'd win loads of arguments with that technique.

Warwick said...

Anon I have enjoyed the exchange here and now have a couple of questions:

1) Where in the Bible does it say the earth is 'fixed?'

2) Where and how does 'scientific creationism' get hold of the text and abuse it?

I would truly appreciate answers, answers with specifics please.

anonymous said...

neil moore said:

If Genesis 1 was unsupported by other Scriptural passages then I could understand a degree of contention. However, the very utterances of God Himself found at Exodus 20:11 and 31:17ff render a seamless confirmation of Genesis 1.

I really can't believe you're still trotting that out, as if it is a compelling argument. I suppose that when you hear a reference to the good samaritan in a sermon that you think that's proof that he was a real historical figure.

But frankly, like warwick's latest comment and like john's frequent attempts to change the issue at hand, if we start addressing these questions in detail we're never going to get to the bottom of john and Kay's claims about the insignificance of the literary features of Genesis 1. If you want to go and amuse yourself with other issues, why not go look at a site like this one which I just found.

anonymous said...

Because Anonymous continues in a mistaken belief that he has proved his alleagtion of John being "brain-dead" I must declare Anonymous to be a failure.

Thanks, gwen, but as we've noted you've demonstrated absolutely no qualification to allow you to make such a judgment, and repeating it only highlights your own inability to follow the argument.

Anonymous, who is Jesus Christ to you?

He is Lord. However, unlike contributors to this site, I am not willing to accept just about any theological position so long as the person agrees with your particular spurious interpretation of Genesis 1-11.

Warwick said...

Anon, I don't think I made a comment. I only asked pertinent questions.

You made the claims and I quite fairly asked you to defend them. If you aren't prepared to defend claims then don't make them.

I can only assume that you realize your statemtnts are baseless, and don't in reality don't help your case.

Warwick said...

Please excuse my mistakes. The last sentence should have read

'I can only assume that you realize your statements are baseless, and in reality don't help your case.'

anonymous said...

warwick said:
Anon, I don't think I made a comment. I only asked pertinent questions.

"Comment" is a generic description of posts to the discussion. If you look at the box where you type you see it labelled "Leave your comment." In that sense you made a comment.

You made the claims and I quite fairly asked you to defend them. If you aren't prepared to defend claims then don't make them.

I'm quite happy to defend them just as soon as we resolve the first issue we've been addressing. As I said, if we start discussing these matters, john will have his way because his mistakes would be allowed to stand.

Warwick said...

Anon comments or not they are questions.

I am not part of your argument but picked up the two points regarding which I posed my questions.

You made these comments as pillars of your argument but I wonder if they would in fact support anything. I am sure you are well able to answer my questions without losing your train of thought or your flow.

BTW why do you hide your name? Mine is well known and I think you should use your correct name and supply your full name if asked, as I have done.

Warwick said...

Anon quite some time ago I went to a talk John Dickson gave on his view of Genesis 1 and must admit I was underwhelmed. It was in my opinion rather fluffy and intensely hypothetical, bearing little resemblance to that written in the Bible.

Today I had a look at one of his articles and saw:

'While on literary grounds one cannot say that the world was not created in six days, one can safely conclude that the concerns of Genesis 1 lie elsewhere than providing a cosmic chronology.'

I really haven't been following the debate between you and John but what Dickson wrote seems to disagree with your stance.

He says there is no reason to take the days of Genesis 1 as other than earth-rotation days but that the point isn't to give a cosmic chronology! I am sure God had a number of things he wanted to communicate to us about His mighty creative power however he goes to all necessary lengths to describe what a day is so the time frame is an integral part of His message.

So after all the argument and ridicule, he accepts we are quite entitled to hold to 6 earth-rotation day creation. And we know that Jesus says man was made at the beginning of this creation we live in. This of course contradicts the theistic evolutionary view which has man appearing out of animal gloom almost at the end, relatively recently in long-age thinking. The opposite of Jesus' words.

Hasn't he shot himself in the foot?

Next he will be saying he belives in a world-wide flood of Noah.

neil moore said...

Anonymous made the following statement:

"I really can't believe you're still trotting that out, as if it is a compelling argument. I suppose that when you hear a reference to the good samaritan in a sermon that you think that's proof that he was a real historical figure."

Well, Anonymous, it is compelling if God is true to His Word.

You can believe what you like and bear the consequences of that. God said what He said about His creation of the heavens, the earth and the sea and all that is in them (as recorded in Exodus 20:11). You can discount or deny the truth of what God was saying but you are expressing a lack of faith in God.

There is no valid comparison with the Lord Jesus speaking of a real or fictional person such as a Samaritan when teaching a point to his hearers about loving their neighbour as themselves.

Why not go all the way and deny that all of the Lord Jesus' utterances about the future are describing actual events.

I suppose, by your standard, Jesus when speaking of the eighteen men killed by the falling tower, was speaking of an a-historical event? If not, what rule do you apply and what difference is there from what God is saying as recorded in Exodus 20:11.

No, either wittingly or unwittingly you would have Christians descend into confusion as to what is real and what is not real.

I note your response to Gwen and I am left with some questions. Is Jesus Christ ruling your life and, if so, why?

Neil Moore

Warwick said...

Neil I see no good reason to believe that Jesus may have been talking of a real person, none at all. However His point was to illustrate what being a good neighbour is.

How anon connects Genesis 1, and Exodus 20 with the parable of the Good Samaritan beats me. I have seen this twisted reasoning before and didn't get the connection then or now.

Maybe I have missed something Neil (haven't had my coffee yet) but is Anon suggesting the commandment about the Sabbath wasn't to be taken literally? And that God did not connect his literal 6-day creation with His literal 6-day week and literal 7th day of rest?

gwen said...

Anonymous said: "He is Lord."

Any child can get that answer out of a comic book.

Who is Jesus Christ to you, or, Lord of what?

Gwen

neil moore said...

Warwick, your comment about the Sabbath for Israel is correct.

This highlights the stupidity these people invoke when they try to dismantle the Word of God. Take something out and so much more falls out as well. There is a great interweaving of truth in the things God says.

I am now doubting that Anonymous is a Christian at all if he is not prepared to take God at His Word when He says things He has done or will do.

Neil Moore

Warwick said...

Anon/John I am still awaiting answers o my questions to you:

1) Where in the Bible does it say the earth is 'fixed?'

2) Where and how does 'scientific creationism' get hold of the text and abuse it?

I would truly appreciate answers, answers with specifics please.

Critias said...

Hm, amusing back and forth here...I wish I could join in, but...what the heck.

First, its funny that someone has called himself anonymous on a blog that requires identity: funny as in 'ha ha'. I think its pretty cute, actually (wish I'd thought of it, in fact).

What gets me about this, and sorry for not reading over 100 comments, life is too short. How I read Dickson's paper was that the literary overwhelms the literal; but why? There are a whole lot of devices, or alleged devices, used in Gen 1 but the argument has to be made as to why they singly or together mitigate its literalness, particularly when JD's essay does not grapple with either the literature that opposes his view, or the grammatical structure that I understand Gen 1 has. Surely understanding the text has to start there, and not with the somewhat subjective, or indeed, arbitrary assignment of 'literaryness' to suspected 'devices'. At some level all writing uses 'devices'. It is simply part of writing; so perhaps it is with Gen. 1.

And then, the case has to be made that some so called devices are not a report of events: numbers, repetition, etc. A case has to be made that there were not 6 days, and that the repetition (God's words) did not happen. I don't see how this can be done and we are left with the text as it reads 'on its face.'

I also read in a comment that God did not mean to put out cosmological ideas in Gen 1. Well, how would one know that? Because I think that is the very point of the account: it gives us our setting, it tells us the origin of all things, it eliminates alternative explanations (that lead away from God) and so dishonours our creator: Paul talks about this in Roms. 1. It also gives our knowing and 'being' a concrete 'realist' basis; and thus:

The other point is that I think there is a philosophical postition, a somewhat idealist one, at work in JD and others, that allows the attempt to sever the account from its direct meaning. This amounts to adopting a non-biblical position to criticise the Bible: hardly a cogent approach, IMO.

Warwick said...

Anon/John(another John) seems to have scarpered. Pity I would have liked answers to my questions.

While doing a spot of reading I came across the following quote:

'If one is disinclined to surrender to God one is inclined to read the text in the light of our own culture. Are we submitting to the picture of God in Scripture? Or are we putting ourselves over Scripture and rewriting it in terms of our own preferences?' This was written by Kenneth Matthews who at the time was Old Testament scholar at Alabama's Samford University. It was quoted in 'Time' on November 4th 1996, page 79 'Genesis Reconsidered.' He was commenting on Genesis chapters 1-11.

I think this quote relevant as it accurately exposes what the long-age theistic evolutionist does, in reinterpreting Genesis 1 etc, to conform to the dominant evolutionary world-view.

What else explains their convoluted complicated ducking and weaving through Scripture?

Eric said...

Critias is right; there are literary devices throughout the Bible; consider, as a quick example, Paul in 1 Cor 12:4-6, an elegant device that relates spiritual gifts to the triune God. Romans 12:7-8 has a nice turn of phrase too: a sort of elegantly varied rhythm (in the English, I expect in the Gk too). Do we therefore reject that Paul penned these as factual or real? Do we relegate them to taking them 'seriously but not literally'? I don't think so.

The whole idea of using something as arbitrary as the use of 'some' literary devices to deny that a particular passage is the account of events is troubling; particularly when we know that the Lord spoke to Moses 'face to face' and not in any metaphorical way (I'll hunt up more on this); e.g. Ex 33:11.

I also find it troubling that some people would think that a piece of pagan story-telling would be allowed into the 'word of God' when so much of the OT is about God's judgement upon syncretism...yet Dave and the SADists would have it that this very thing has been incorporated into the most significant opening of the revelation! That just defies logic. It also misunderstands the radical purity that was sought by the Jews, and the very un-mythic tone of all the OT: the whole thing is about history, events, actual occurances, and it is they that make Israel's religion real, and not just a bunch of stories. So how could it all just be based on a 'bunch of stories'. Dave is just doing the work of Herder and Gunkel a century or so after they had their hey day.

Eric said...

The passage I was after was Numbers 12:8:

NASB:
"With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?"

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
I speak with him face to face, plainly and not in riddles. He even sees the form of the LORD. Why weren't you afraid to criticize my servant Moses?"

Which sort of goes against God speaking obscurely, as not to a friend! Thus it is exegetically fair to take Genesis 1 at face value, and not as something written with such 'art' as to render its direct meaning inaccurate with some sort of 'hidden' meaning awaiting the genius of a hermeneutic influenced by an approach to history that denies God from the outset...if this is the SAD way, it is the way to perdition, IMO.

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