Blogging can be an adventurous journey, one that can be hard on the ego. As we journey from blog to blog, we run into many different ideas and beliefs. Inevitably, we find people who have the audacity to disagree with “me”.
Want an example? Well, first I visited The oxymoron of subatomic particles (salvageable04.wordpress.com). Here I learned that the term subatomic is an oxymoron. Since I have a degree in Chemistry, I was kind of surprised I had missed that.
Then I noted a reblog.
Reblogged this on MJThompson’s Theology Blog and commented:
Today presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed in a televised interview that he would “follow the science’ [regarding covid-19]. I immediately censured his remark in contemplation of WHICH SCIENCE? Then as irony would have it, I found this worthy post. Well worth the read, it addresses my question perfectly. (from here (salvageable04.wordpress.com))
Wondering MJThompson had to say about Joe Biden and science I went to his blog. Instead of anything about Biden, I ended up reading Resurrection Reality (mjthompsons.wordpress.com). In Resurrection Reality, MJThompson argues against a claim in Encountering the Risen Jesus (vaporsinthewind.com) by Peter Ruddock. MJThompson says that a believer can proved to his or herself the truth of the resurrection.
Wondering what Encountering the Risen Jesus had to say in its defense I visited that post. Encountering the Risen Jesus is a rather long post, and it gets into issues besides proving whether the resurrection actually happened. In fact, proving whether Jesus rose from the dead is not the subject of the post. Ruddock is more interested in the significance of the resurrection event. He accepts the truth of resurrection based upon his “experience” of the significance of the resurrection. In addition, the author wants us to understand his position is more moderate and reasonable than the two other camps at the extremes.
How does Ruddock characterize the other two camps? Well, I think it best to read his post, but here it is in bite size.
In my experience, the debate is often polarised into one of two stances: either the Bible is the infallible word of God and so things happened exactly as the gospel writers say they did and we will not listen to any other position on the matter, or the Bible is demonstrably fallible and therefore we cannot take the Resurrection account seriously. I am reluctant to collapse the discussion around the Resurrection into this false dichotomy of myth vs history. We are not forced to choose: both myth and history can contain truths. Both are forms of story-telling that simply package truth differently. The binary distinction separating myth and history is a Western one, whereas the gospels – as Eastern texts – do not make such distinctions and contain elements of both. (from here (vaporsinthewind.com))
What is my objection to Ruddock’s contentions? There is a huge difference between believing the Bible is the inerrant word of God and believing the Bible is a myth. Theoretically, the Bible could be both, but which parts are true and which parts are myth? Ruddock does not want to deal with that hard nut. He sees a different prospect.
You see, as I said in my introduction, the Resurrection is a game-changer. It has the potential to radically alter our perceptions not only of ourselves, but of life itself. It is an invitation to experience reality differently. No wonder it generates such strong responses from people. To consider whether or not one accepts the Resurrection of Jesus is not simply to consider an idea to which we may or may not give consent. To consider the Resurrection of Jesus is to consider the possibility that the world may be other than we imagined it to be. And if the world is not what we thought it was, then the possibility exists – is, indeed, likely – that we belong in it differently. And that is, to say the very least, a daunting prospect. (from here (vaporsinthewind.com))
How does Ruddock argue his case for experience? He tries to paint himself as being like a member of the early church, like the Apostle Paul “experiencing” the resurrection through his Damascus road experience.
How do I react to Ruddock’s presentation? When Ruddock argues for “experiencing” the resurrection, I don’t much disagree. I just don’t place much credence in emotional experiences, and I don’t think the Apostle Paul did. When we read what Paul wrote, we discover that he was a very logical guy. Confronted by the risen Jesus Paul accepted the fact he had sinned. He repented and accepted Jesus as his Savior.
So, I don’t believe the Bible because I have had some great experience. I believe the Bible because reason demands it. I try obey the Bible because God demands it.
Do we “see the light” the way Paul did? Not exactly. Our light is the Bible. Our light is the Holy Spirit. Frankly, I think Ruddock is seeing much the same light. If we believe the Bible and words of the martyrs passed down to us from the days of the first century, then we believe Jesus rose from the dead.
Next Ruddock characterizes those two other camps, those who see the Bible as true, and those who see the Bible as mythology, those camps at the extremes.
If you examine the theology of the Bible-as-the-inerrant-Word-of-God camp closely enough, you will see that they are essentially rejecting the inclusive and non-violent way of Jesus. Their God demands retributive justice and the Risen Jesus will be the one to come back and exact it. They still embrace scapegoating violence as a viable way to create reconciliation, with God orchestrating the ultimate sacrifice. For them, the world still operates as it always has and we can continue to divide people into the righteous and the unrighteous. And the end for the unrighteous is decidedly…unpleasant.
The other camp – the throw-out-the-Resurrection-because-the-Bible-is-unreliable camp –rejects Jesus, I believe, for much the same reason: Christianity as they see it practiced by the first group does not offer any experienced reality that is superior to the one they know. Christians, they argue, are hypocritical, and religion is the cause of so much of the suffering in the world. They (rightly) see the God of Christianity as a Janus-faced tyrant who is nothing more than a projection of an equally Janus-faced humanity. And they want nothing to do with that. They do not see that their justice systems, their economies (whether capitalist or socialist) and all of their ideologies are different manifestations of the same scapegoating reality. (from here (vaporsinthewind.com))
Ruddock paints himself as the moderate. In a nutshell, here is his argument and what is wrong with it.
Argument to moderation (Latin: argumentum ad temperantiam)—also known as false equivalence, false compromise, argument from middle ground, and the golden mean fallacy—is the fallacy that the truth is a compromise between two opposite positions. (continued here (en.m.wikipedia.org))
Most of us tend to think our ourselves as moderate and reasonable. From our point of view, that is the way it looks, but there are in fact many Christian view points. Which is right? Well, each of us has to make the case as best we can as logically as we can.