Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Little Things.

It's finding stuff like this that make it worth growing sunflowers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Too comfortable

"Feeling free from constraint, free to act on one's wishes, means reaching a balance between the wishes, the imagination and the ability to act: one feels free in so far as the imagination is not greater than one's actual desires, while neither of the two reaches beyond the ability to act. the balance may therefore be established and kept unimpaired in two different ways either by tapering, cutting down the desires and/or imagination, or by expanding ones ability to act. Once the balance is achieved, and as long as it stays intact, 'liberation' is a meaningless slogan, lacking motivational force.  

"...It could be the case that the will to improvement has been frustrated or not allowed to arise in the first place (fore example by the pressure of the 'reality principle' exerted, according to Sigmund Freud, on the human drive to pleasure and happiness); intentions, whether really experienced or just imaginable, have been cut down to the size of the ability to act, and particularly the ability to act reasonably- with a chance of success. On the other hand, it could be the case that through the direct manipulation of the intentions- some sort of 'brainwashing',- one could never put the 'objective' ability to act to the test, let alone find out what they really are, and therefore would set the ambitions below the level of the 'objective' freedom.  

"...One such issue was the possibility that what feels like freedom is not in fact freedom at all; that people may be satisfied with their lot even though that lot were fare fro being 'objectively' satisfactory; that living in slavery, they feel free and so experience no urge to liberate themselves, thus forsaking or forfeiting the chance of becoming genuinely free. "
pg. 17 
Liquid Modernity
Zygmunt Bauman
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: 
“ ‘Why do the nations rage 
and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand 
and the rulers gather together 
against the Lord 
and against his Anointed One.' Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4: 23-31 (NIV)  

In my college years I ran with a Charismatic/Pentecostal crowd.  I actually had a pretty decent prayer life during that part of my history.  I would go for long walks around the campus, sometimes sitting up at the top of the bleachers at the football field, talking to God.  I prayed with friends too.  It wasn't uncommon to be involved in a late night, sometimes impromptu, hours long prayer meeting.  We would meet with friends in someone's apartment discuss the Bible and pray for what we saw as God's Kingdom to come.  

We were passionate in our prayer lives, both individual and corporate.  We were conspirators.  We prayed about our interactions with our friends, asking that they “saw Jesus” in us.  We lifted up our classmates and teachers to a loving God.  We fervently believed that is was God's will, and consequently our will, that everyone we know be “saved”.   We prayed about how we were going to make ends meet until our student loan or Pell Grant checks were going to be available.  We also wanted God  to change us, to make us into the image of Jesus (granted, we kind of had figured out what that meant and knew what we would end up looking like). And...  we actually saw what appeared to be God intervening and people's lives changing.

Looking back I can see legitimate prayer taking place in my life.  It was often times motivated by an acknowledgement of my inability to control certain things in my life or in the life of others and a real dependence upon God.  I really wanted to see people's lives changed for the better, even if that change was actually wasn't enough to correspond with what it really meant to be truly saved in the sense that the New Testament talks about.   

I'm in a different place now.  Looking back I consider my previous way of viewing the world as truncated and incomplete.  I no longer view the Gospel as only about being “saved”.  I see focusing on people's status being changed from the out-group of  “the lost” to the in-group of “the saved” as an easy and unfalsifiable substitute for the real point of the Gospel, someone's life totally reorienting around the teachings of Jesus in the context of a community submitting to the rule, kingdom, of God now. I was blind to certain forms of freedom that the Gospel brought. I would go so far as to say I was participating in a system that by it's design (not necessarily intent) hid some of these deficiencies from view.  Following certain expected norms that reinforced systemic evils (the abuse of the poor by free market capitalism in Third World countries, marginalizing those of different religions, political ideology, or sexual orientation, to name a few) was labeled as unquestioned and unmitigated virtues.  

I run with a different crowd now.  I'm a participant in a liturgical tradition, Episcopal in particular.  Our congregation appears to be in the process of rising from the dead.  We have gone from a situation where we fully expected to shut the doors in a year to a place where we are growing.  We're reevaluating our current ministry model to try to eliminate the rigid distinction between clergy and laity and reform our theology and practice to having the Body of Christ actually address the needs of the Body of Christ and surrounding community rather than place the responsibility on the 'professional religious' folks in our midst.   Our little congregation is taking on an interesting flavor that melds a Charismatic pneumatology and a strong Social Justice streak.    

Additionally I have a group of friends with which I regularly meet to consume irresponsible amounts of caffeine and discuss theology.  We lament how our current vocations and lifestyles aren't congruent with the Gospel.  We hatch grand schemes on how to reconfigure our communities of faith to be a source of God's blessing and an outpost of God's Kingdom in our local community.  Two of our congregations are participating in a growing network that is feeding the people of our town.  

But...  despite our needs, despite our love for God and the Gospel, we simply don't have passionate vigorous corporate prayer lives (to be fair, I don't personally have a vigorous prayer life).  Why?

(I began writing after this point in a corporate first person (We) standpoint.  I don't feel comfortable with that in that I can't pretend to be the exemplar for the world I now live in.  I will use first person singular in order to more honestly and responsibly express my concerns).

Many options seem to present themselves. Below is a small sampling:

Have I begun the process of, on a functional level, jettisoning an otherworldly Santa Claus figure that I call God?  Have I taken full responsibility and control for my own life and my moral choices and in a faithfulness to God's agenda/Kingdom begun to move through the world as if God was not responsible for the world around me, but I am?

Has the world evolved in light of the presence of the Gospel into a world less hostile to that Gospel?  Does attempting to live out that Gospel require less conflict with the “principalities and powers”, thus necessitating less in the way of passionate situational prayer to walk in the way of Jesus?

Or, have I traded blindness to part of the Gospel for blindness to parts of what I walked away from?  Have I stopped drinking the fundamentalist Cool-Aid to drinking deeply of the spirits of the Enlightenment?  Was I sold a bill of goods, a world view that mollifies me, that makes me comfortable with my incremental 'improvement' in how I spend my money, or how I view those, both near and far, that are less financially, mentally, or physically well off than I am?  Am I still at peace with the world at large because I do not yet understand how pervasive, how radically different than the status quo, the Gospel actually is?  Am I still part of the problem?

I know some of my compatriots may feel comfortable dismissing the parts of the New Testament that depict corporate prayer to an interventionist God as ancient superstition.  I can't.  Label me a primitive and I shall put the button right next to the ones labelled “heretic” and “savage” and I will wear them all with pride.  I'm fine with being viewed as a fool by some, but I cannot simply be satisfied that the parts of the New Testament that don't match up to my life are the things that must be scratched out. 

I speak on the behalf of justice at my place of work.  I'm a member of my congregation's Vestry and I try to advocate for us to spend ourselves on the behalf of those outside the congregation.  I meet with my friends and discuss how God want's us to live his Kingdom in the here and now.  I try to be more responsible with how and where I spend my money so as to at least reduce my participation in systemic evil.  

But I have no battles.  It's all so damned abstract and slow.  Is this right?  Is this how the Kingdom is to come?  I have no need to pray, to wrestle with God, in a real way.  Or, is it more accurate that I am blind to my need?  Have I labelled my inadequacies as normal, my impotence as virtue?  

I was not made for this.  I was made to have an enemy, be it just an abstraction.  The whole peace as an absence of war thing is gonna drive me insane.  

God, I'm afraid to ask this, but would you mind slapping me around a bit?  Crush my illusions, offend my sensibilities.  Set me free from my prison of comfort. 

That creepy feeling I'm missing something.

Something is rolling around in my head and I'm trying to articulate it in an intelligible manner, but  it's just not working yet.

This is a decent depiction of my current mood.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

If I knew what I was doing, I'd be dangerous.

No deep thoughts or rants this time.  Just stuff in my yard.

My neighbor says she has a fig tree, and apparently this is runner from it that has crossed under the fence.  I'm trying to both ground-layer it and air layer it at the same time.  If it works, I'll have two trees instead of just a runner under the fence.

These are green sunflower from seed that I saved from last  year.  They are substantially thinner and more delicate than the other sunflowers growing elsewhere.  I have to spray a rotten egg mixture on them once a week to keep the neighborhood deer from munching them (I learned the hard way for two years in a row).

These are a mixture of red and yellow sunflowers that are from saved seed.  In fact, this is the third generation.  To be fair, I always add some yellow seed, because the red seems more prominent when they cross pollenate.

These are various cuttings.  A couple of different colors of geranium (peach and red), two different colors of lantana (red/orange and purple), a rose bush (red), a trumpet vine (looks like it might not make it) and a table grape.

And this is a successful Jasmine cutting propagation. I got it from a fence behind a local chocolate shop.  I'm really happy this one took because all my attempts last year failed miserably.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I don't live up to my own standards.  I eat too much.  I buy food out from people who don't get paid enough, wrapped in plastic and paper that will simply be thrown in the trash immediately after I eat. I drive more than I have to. I occasionally use styrofoam cups because it is easier than going to get a washable cup. I use plastic cutlery out of convenience and then toss it in the trash.

I work for the government.  I work for Caesar.  I actually had to swear to protect the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.  I am a gatekeeper of the Prison Industrial Complex.  I work in a situation where I must occasionally recommend that people be sentenced to prison when I know that after they are incarcerated and get out they will be more of a threat to the community as well as being more damaged as people. (Yes, I do believe some people should go to prison.)  I make more than the median income in my home community, and I spend every dollar every paycheck.  

I live in a three bedroom house with only one other person.  I have three televisions in my house and one of them is nearly always on.  I don't know my neighbors.  I live too far away from the people in my life that matter to have regular contact with them.   

I've always played the game with myself that I'm making progress because at least I know I'm not living up to Kingdom standards and that it bothers me.

“The key to understanding this parable lies in grasping how one's very religious convictions can actually fuel actions that would stand opposed to them.  In the above example we can imagine the businessman thinking that his faith in Christ and his involvement in a local church are what encourages him to pose certain ethical questions about the industry he works in, questions about the type of investments his bank backs, the damage of debilitating international interest rates, and the greed that fuels so many of the decisions that the bank makes on a daily basis.

“He thinks that it is his faith that pushes him to influence banking decisions in a manner that includes the consideration of moral issues.  Although he is a tough and committed businessman who is making a great deal of money, he knows deep in his heart that he is a Christian who does not place his true value on earthly treasure.  Indeed, his attempt to influence the bank in ethical ways hint at this deep truth: namely, that he does not take the world of making money and business success too seriously.  It is what he does in order to provide for his family and the local church, but it is not who he is. 

“However, in contrast to this commonsense view of the situation, let us offers a different interpretation.  In contrast to the idea that the man's faith is the deep inner truth that prevents him from fully engaging in a heartless capitalistic drive for wealth, one could say that it is precisely his faith in God that enables him to be a hard-nosed businessman man in the first place. While slightly moderating his drive for financial success at any cost, his supposedly true inner identity simply acts as the fuel that powers his work by allowing him to escape from facing up to the reality of his actions.  In Christianity as a religion without religion one cannot make this distinction between one's action and ones beliefs.”

pp.  164-165

The Fidelity of Betrayal

Peter Rollins

I'm a putz and I need to do something different with my life.  

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm an immigrant.  I don't mean in a geopolitical sense.  I was born and raised here in the United States and continue to reside here.  That being said, my roots and upbringing were in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas and I now live in Northern California, nearly 2000 miles away.  If we moved this little journey across The Pond to Europe, I'd be living in a totally different nation, with a different language, food, and social norms.  Even here in the great homogenous hulk that is the United States there are subtle differences in culture and language between Texas and California.

One peculiarity about me is that despite where I was born and raised, I don't have much of a detectable Texan accent.  I'm not accent free mind you, but it mostly hovers just below the surface.  It comes out when I'm very tired, nervous, or angry.  I also noticed it poked it's head out when I used to voice-chat with people from Texas while I played games over the internet.  It may have been a subtle desire to establish rapport, to fit in, to feel at home.  

But most times, it's pretty much undetectable. I think it's lack of prevalence is most probably due to the fact that when I was growing up I was told by my “yankee” father that several idiosyncratic Texan pronunciations made me sound uneducated.  I have no intent to make that sound negative.  I'm actually glad that I don't have a readily distinguishable accent.  It allows me to blend in a bit more.   

Having lived here in Northern California for nearly a decade I've picked up some of the things that make it different from where I was born.  Northern Californians say the word “bye” in a way that is some where between “buy” and “baa”, the sound we say sheep make.  Sometimes the word “almond” looses it's “l” and sounds like “amond”, but “Walmart” mundanely does not become “Wa-mart”. (Life is full of little disappointments.)  On a political/cultural level, there are many more laws here but less perceived moral restraint based upon assumed religious values.

Occasionally I run into fellow transplants.  More often than not I recognize their speech patterns first.  When I approach them I may or may not put on the accent.  The larger the group, the more apt I am to drop into a Texas drawl.  If it is only one, I may keep my enigmatic vanilla speech patters in place, but I start asking questions about where they are from and I see if I can drop a few geographical references that only a native would know.  Then they can drop their guard and we can talk.

I can relate to them in a way that a native Californian can't.  I know that a recent visitor from Texas expects the stereotypical Californian to be a deeply tanned liberal vegetarian who has spent most summers at the beach.  (yes, I'm purposely being ridiculously hyperbolic) I know that when they say “mexican food” what they really mean is TexMex, it must be spicy, and at least one item on the plate must be covered in melted cheese.  When they say they want a “coke” it could be any of a myriad of carbonated beverages, and when they want a hamburger, they are probably thinking more of a Whataburger (with bacon and jalepenos. Yummy) than In-n-Out. 

In my estimation a more significant immigration in my life was moving from a modern propositionally oriented faith to a postmodern faith that is a bit more mystical in orientation.  I wasn't born here in  Postmodernity, I travelled here from somewhere else.  

I can remember reading the Bible attempting to connect the dots in the text to unlock it's secrets, to be 'moved by the Spirit' as I read the text for myself.  I remember the heady intoxication of being certain of the clearly present Truth, it was right there in the text (never mind that many friends were certain that the truth was something else based upon the same text). 

It was good to know that due to my acceptance of God's free gift of Jesus, through grace by faith I was one of God's chosen.  I was different from the lost, those that could not see the truth because they were spiritually blind.  Some of them were blinded by their sin, some by their intellect, some by their man-made traditions. 

I longed to see the lost saved, to say the Sinners' Prayer and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  I wanted to see them delivered from their sins of accepting Evolution over the Bible, of their chosen homosexuality, of their Pro-Choice political views.  

Then I moved.  

As I moved through life and found out more about the world I live in I became more and more impressed with this Jesus fellow.  Not only was he Lord and Savior, but he was brilliant as well.  I began to see genius in how he handled interpersonal, sociological, economic, and political issues.   I began to see Jesus as someone that wasn't just reciting idealistic poetry that can never be really lived, but as someone that saw the particulars of the world He lived in, the world I now live in, and had some real strategies to make a difference.  His followers seemed pretty bright too.  They understood that the answer to life's problems wasn't just about pie in the sky by and by.  It was about living as if God was in control now.  Living as if Jesus was King, not Caesar.  

I also saw that I had been wrong.  That I had mistaken how I made connections in the texts, my interpretation of the Bible, for the Bible.  My theological constructs, my tradition (that I called Sola Scriptura), were in my head, not in the text, and should not be weighted as much as the text.  

I found out that I had mistaken my view of certain parts of the Bible for an accurate representation of the scientific world.  This wasn't a new error.  My predecessors, Martin Luther and John Calvin had done the same thing when they opposed the Heliocentric model of the Solar System by quoting scripture to the contrary.  I guess there's worse company in which to be. 

Finding people who believed in Evolution, or were involved in loving committed relationships with people of the same gender who obviously loved the Lord also cracked my worldview open.  It is easy to characterize certain classes of people as hating God if you don't know any one in that class.  It becomes harder to ascribe a fatal flaw to someone and use it to dismiss their views and life outright when you get to know them and love them. 

I have become the foreigner now.  I am the one living outside the land of certainty and God's favor.  I am the one 'blinded by intellect' and my association with sinners.  

Ah, but I can still recognize the accent of those from my land of origin.  I can see their unease when I begin to talk of things that don't line up with their interpretational matrix of scripture, and are therefore 'unbiblical'.  I understand that I can appear as “one of them”.  I understand the judgement some of them have for me, but I love them.  How can I but love them, they are from the land of my birth. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lots of excuses, no good reasons.

I've got to get back to this.  For the last few months I haven't done jack on this thing.  Even before I essentially stopped all together I hadn't posted anything of substance for quite a while.

Well, I've essentially been addicted to my damned X-Box 360 (note the box to the right of this post.  I may well strip that from the blog in the not too distant future).  I've been X-Box free for about 2 weeks now and am contemplating selling it outright.  Not wasting brain cells in front of the machine has afforded me substantially more time to read.  

Also, my wife accidently cooked her Macbook a couple of months ago, so I'm sharing my 'puter now.  My blogging is essentially something I do while I'm doing other things during the course of an evening.  Well, I just don't have the free form time to do that anymore.  We're working on a possible solution to this, but that is quite possibly months off still.  

Meanwhile, back on the ranch...

A couple of days ago I was involved in an exchange on Sola Scriptura on Emergent Village's website.   Here is the thread.  I'm going to cut and paste my first comment and all the relevant responses there after.  I'm going to post in an unedited format, with all typos included.  It was tempting to clean it up, but I don't want to change someone else's words and I don't want clean mine up and leave someone else's dirty.  So, here it is. 

46 Patrick Boatman May 28, 01:52 AM

I whole heartedly agree with your “Prima Scriptura” stance. I would go so far as to say that is the stance of the New Testament writers as well.

The writers of the NT were’nt a Sola Scriptura crowd. Paul references Jewish tradition, which he validates and expands upon in 1 Cor 10 when he talks of the rock that followed Israel. Paul quotes gentile philosophers (Titus, the comment about Cretans comes to mind, among other quotes) when making his points at times, even preaching to the throng on Mars hill by quoting pagan religious texts. The book of Jude quotes apocryphal texts to make a point (the argument over Moses’ body). When we set a standard of Sola Scriptura we are actually setting a different standard than the writers of scripture adhered to. If a document or person quotes philosophers, pagan religious texts, and religious traditions to make it’s points, it can’t really be called Sola Scriptura, can it? Can I do those things and call myself Sola Scriptura? :)

Sola Scriptura itself is an extrabiblical tradition.

Another note is that if one listens and considers when someone says something is “biblical” in a Sola Scriptura sense what they more often than not mean is that it is consistent with their interpretation of scripture (be it personal or traditional). If something is not explicitly stated in scripture, but is rather inferred based upon scripture then it is interpretation, a process that happens in the mind of the interpreter. Whether that inference is accurate or not is secondary to the fact that the cognitive process of interpretation does not carry the authoritative weight that scripture does. Some people, quite innocently and naively, equate their interpretation of scripture with scripture, then mistake a disagreement with their interpretation with a disagreement with scripture.

Hopefully that was at least somewhat coherent. The tiny window one types in makes it hard to check for logical continuity. :)

47 rick May 29, 02:41 AM

I’m not sure what Patrick is talking about but it is not Sola Scriptura. There is nothing that prevents a preacher from quoting the Beatles or Bob Dylan or Desmond Tutu in a sermon. As long as new doctrine is not being expressed and that it does not contradict the scriptures and that it is not placed on the same level as the revealed word.

Here’s what Sola Scriptura is: Sola scriptura is the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible or inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, Sola Scriptura demands that no doctrine is to be admitted or confessed that is not found directly or logically within Scripture. However, Sola Scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers and is a formal principle of Protestantism today.

48 James May 29, 03:09 AM

Amen, Rick. I find it interesting that no one has replied/debated you. Solid truth will do that I guess. It’s funny how “high intellect” can really become a stumbling block when dealing with a relatively simple truth. I love Jesus!!! Hangest thou in there everyone, just don’t hangest yourself!

49 James May 29, 03:17 AM

Oh, I almost forgot….I also know why I love Jesus! Blessings.

50 Patrick Boatman May 29, 03:32 AM

Both Jude and 1 Cor 10 include information from extrabiblical sources, an apocryphal book and Jewish tradition that “is not found directly or logically within Scripture” treating the events described as real events, but having no support other than the extrabiblical sources, to make their doctrinal point. They fail your test of Sola Scriptura.

Secondly, your inclusion of the term “logically” makes the mistake of equating an inference with Scripture. Logical inference is an operation that takes place in your (or whoever wrote your definition) head and is not scripture. Even if the thinker is brilliant, the inferences is not Scripture. It mistakes interpretation for the Scripture itself. And 30,000 Protestant denominations and growing is a fairly good indication that different people infer differently.

Thirdly, your appeal to “foundational” and “formal principle”s of protestantism is an appeal to tradition that I simply don’t find compelling. (nope, I’m not RC)

51 rick May 29, 06:01 AM

Patrick: The Bible is an original document composed of remembered accounts, spoken sermons, the Sayings of Quoleth, Solomons songs, Davids poems, Pharoh’s comments, Greek plays, popular songs, quotes from satan, quotes from books that are not now existant, the finger of God, Hebrew commentaries and many other sources. It has 66 authors (if not more) and was all inspired by the Holy Spirit. Once the canon was complete the authors admonished us to not add or take away a word. Jesus said “For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.” I think John Calvin and Martin Luther and the reformers were smart enough to figure that out. That has nothing to do with the principal of Sola Scriptura.

(BTW, I can’t imagine Brian McLaren agreeing that the smallest letter or little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] of hebrew scripture is critically important)

That’s not my definition of Sola Scriptura, it is Wikipedia’s. I suppose I could have quoted a number of others. The author is saying that if we can’t logically infer a doctrine from the text then one should not give it creedence. For example, the trinity is a logical inference. Leprachauns are not. The point of Sola Scriptura is that we don’t give equal weight to the Koran and we don’t give equal weight to traditions such as selling indulgences. Emergents like Tony Jones and Brian McLaren want to say that we can never really know the truth of the Bible completely therefore everyone’s opinions are equally valid and should be respected. Whereas I believe that if you are advocating worshipping angels I can appeal to the Bible to determine whether the practice is valid. The fact that it may be an old tradition would not sway me. The RC church rules by absolute papal authority. I suppose Papal authority is an alternative to denominations. Another way to look at denominations is that diversity is healthy and that they add flavor.

Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers and is a formal principle of Protestantism today.” I am not making an appeal, this is just a statement of fact. A historian making an observation.

OK. So you are not a protestant.

53 Patrick Boatman May 29, 08:49 AM

yes, I’m fully aware of the way the Bible has been cobbled together over it’s history. I think you would agree that it didn’t get faxed from heaven, similar to the Islamic view of the Qur’an. It was written by people. People that apparently used a different standard of what can be used in the formation of one’s beliefs. The did use extra-biblical materials and considered them authoritative. You’ve set up a standard of what God can use that they would fail.

On the “jots and tittles”, it might be interesting to find out if they were present in the oldest manuscripts, before vowel points were added to the text. But that is another matter all together. :)

I’m not Brian Mclaren, nor am I Tony Jones. If you want to talk to them, that would be fine. As for me, I will speak for me, about the issues previously discussed, rather than get into a discussion about personalities.

On Sola Scriptura… the moment one has begun to use logic (to which I am not opposed, but would rather advocate for) one has moved beyond the text into one’s own mind and therefore gone beyond the text and away from Sola Scriptura. When one uses logic, inference, it takes place in the mind, which does not carry the same weight as Scripture. The moment anyone says anything that is not a specific quote of the text one has moved away from Sola Scriptura. In fact, I would assert the very process of translating scripture (which I have no problem with, but would advocate) moves beyond Sola Scriptura because the process of translation require interpretation. Reading a text that is not in the original language takes one outside Sola Scriptura.

Next point, to assert one believes in Sola Scriptura is to affirm a tradition, therefore making the assertion a performative contradiction. The very affirmation negates the affirmation.

Doctrines are comprised (accurately or inaccurately) of dots connected in one’s head, outside the text. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity (which I believe and affirm) is reached by just such a process of inference/logic. An interesting twist on this is that unless everyone in your congregation can specifically line by line cite the scriptures (the process aside) to support the Trinity, the believe it based upon tradition. So, many people in your congregation most probably believe an inference (not Sola Scriptura) based upon a tradition (not Sola Scriptura). Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with that, but it is not Sola Scriptura.

Prima Scriptura puts scripture, the Bible in particular, first in the process of navigating faith. It does not “give equal weight to the Koran” or “give equal weight to traditions such as selling indulgences”. If this is your understanding of Prima Scriptura, then you misunderstand.

On Jones and McLaren… whereas they probably do think we can’t know the meaning of the Bible exhaustively, as do I, your statements of “everyone’s opinions are equally valid” does not follow. I’ve read or heard nothing from either indicating such a stance. It is however a common misrepresentation/misunderstanding of the “emergent” position. You might try looking into the difference between infinite (anything goes) and tranfinite (a bounded set with internal variation). Even at that, this is dragging personalities into the discussion. They can speak for themselves. You’re stuck speaking to me. :)

I am not arguing against the existence of denominations, I am simply pointing to them as pretty compelling evidence that the process of inference is not infallible. Not everyone can be “right” about everything, and have so much variation.

54 Patrick Boatman May 29, 08:59 AM

Crapnoid! I mistyped… it should be transfinite, not tranfinite.

57 Joe White May 29, 08:16 PM

Patrick Boatman wrote:

On Sola Scriptura… the moment one has begun to use logic (to which I am not opposed, but would rather advocate for) one has moved beyond the text into one’s own mind and therefore gone beyond the text and away from Sola Scriptura.”

This is a caricature of Sola Scriptura, not the real thing.

Patrick, if you want to reject Sola Scriptura, reject the real deal, not your strawman.

58 Patrick Boatman May 29, 08:44 PM

Joe… I’m addressing issues that are typically ignored because they are inconvenient.

The cognitive process that is interpretation exists whether or not one is comfortable with it. If Sola Scriptura was really “scripture only” then everyone that espoused it would agree on all issues. It is a misnomer. It only really makes sense in a universe that doesn’t exist. One in which one, anyone, can just read the text and KNOW what it means. In the universe that does exist, everyone that KNOWS, unfortunately KNOWS something different than the next guy.

I know that most men, including those at ease with
problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept
even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such
as would oblige them to admit the falsity of
conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to
colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others,
and which they have woven, thread by thread into the
fabric of their lives.”

Leo Tolstoy

60 rick May 29, 11:26 PM

Patrick, you are getting lost here. God can compose scripture any way He wishes and once He does we are obligated to study it, memorize it, repeat it to our children, not add or take away from it and pay attention to every jot and title no matter how He composed it. Agreed? Just because God composed scripture from a variety of sources does not give you license today to pick and choose traditions and elevate them to the level of scripture (or as you put it, use extra-biblical materials and consider them authoritative) or to reject any scripture that you have deemed, mere tradition and not inspired. Agreed?

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2Timothy

Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” 2 Peter

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.”

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matthew

Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.” Mark

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.”

(Jesus used a logical inference here and established a hermeneutical principal that scripture comments on itself and can be comprehended)

This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture.” 2 Peter.

You are getting lost in epistemology. Your issue is not just with logical inferences, because everything that we read and see is mediated by our brain, our culture etc. Your problem is a technical one of how do we know what we know, or epistemology. Logic is woven into everything we read and understand. However, just because we know in part or understand in part does not remove from us the obligation to be obedient to what we understand. Nor does it negate the fact that there is truth in the bible that can be known. Just because we can never exhaustively and perfectly know a thing doesn’t mean we are not obligated to read, believe and obey. We are expected to wrestle with scripture using our God-Imaged logical ability to arrive at an implicit and singular meaning of scripture. If we have any error it is because we do not know the scriptures, as Jesus said.

Why do you have a problem with the principal that “the Bible is the only infallible or inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, Sola Scriptura demands that no doctrine is to be admitted or confessed that is not found directly or logically within Scripture.”

Do you have another tradition or book that is more reliable than the Bible? If so, we’d like to know. Is the Bible in error? What authority did you use to arrive at that conclusion? Do you have some other Christian doctrines that you’ve arrived at in a text outside the Bible? We’d like to know.

61 Patrick Boatman May 30, 12:23 AM

“Why do you have a problem with the principal that “the Bible is the only infallible or inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, Sola Scriptura demands that no doctrine is to be admitted or confessed that is not found directly or logically within Scripture.” ”

First off, the article is about Sola Scriptura, not infallibility. Secondly, that is a tradition ABOUT (I don’t mean to be perceived as yelling, just want to emphasize the word) the Bible. Notice the above statement is not scripture, it is a statement about scripture based on inference, and is therefore a traditon. I’m not willing to accept your particular tradition. Not acknowledging something as a tradition does not make it cease to be a tradition. You continue to mistake (a common mistake) your interpretation for scripture. The statement above is not scripture.

Nice block of quotes. I have no problem with anything they say.

Here’s an interesting juxtaposition

God can compose scripture any way He wishes” … Rick

This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him”… Scripture.

I’m gonna go with scripture’s description of itself rather than your description of it.

Yes, I do think that Scripture God-Breathed, just like God breathed into Adam, Jesus breathed on the disciples, the breath of God brought beasts to life in Hebrew literature.

Yes, Jesus did appear to use logic in making connections, and I once again (having never argued once against it) would affirm the use of logic. That is not Sola Scriptura. Logic (as a human operation) is fallible (It CAN fail). Rejection of a human interpretive matrix, yours in particular, is not rejection of scripture.

Your arguments are imbedded with multiple inferences and traditions that are not acknowledged as things that occur outside of the text. I do not accept your interpretation of the text. I do not accept your traditions about the text. I do accept the text in the context of what the text says about itself. Failure to accept your interpretation and tradition is not a failure to accept the text.

Your questions about infallibility are off topic. You’re questions about me and my particular doctrinal beliefs are off topic. This article and chain of response is about Sola Scriptura, not me, not Brian Mclaren, not Tony Jones, not infallibility, not about relativism (which I reject). You’re beginning to change the subject and I have no desire to keep shifting premises when a previous premise doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. That could go on for ever. :-)

62 Joe White My 30, 12:30 AM

Patrick Boatman wrote:

The cognitive process that is interpretation exists whether or not one is comfortable with it. If Sola Scriptura was really “scripture only” then everyone that espoused it would agree on all issues.”


That’s akin to saying ‘if the scripture were true, everyone would believe it’.

63 Patrick Boatman May 30, 12:35 AM

Sorry, that was incredibly tortured logic on your part. Talk about a strawman.

If you’re gonna go there, have fun. I’m out because this has ceased to be rational dialogue. Have fun arguing against the imaginary me. The real me is going somewhere else.

64 Patrick Boatman May 30, 12:45 AM

That being said, i will probably cut and paste this dialogue to my blog. It’s been a while since I’ve posted something substantial there.

65 rick May 30, 01:20 AM

Patrick: Sorry. I was trying to stick with the definition of Sola Scriptura which describes the Bible as infallible or innerrant. Those were rhetorical questions at the end, not personal. Each one was based on a point contained in the definition of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is only a principal, not scripture. But I believe it is a principal that Jesus and the writers of the new testament seem to promote (that’s why the scipture quotes). Sorry for monopolizing space on this issue. You may be right, and I may be wrong but it’s fun to learn. I will be quiet now. God Bless you.

66 Patrick Boatman May 30, 01:26 AM

Rick, my bad. I failed to distinguish between you and Joe White. He’s the one arguing against an imaginary me.

Even at that I’m gonna step away too. God Bless. :)