Friday, June 22, 2007

Giving notice

Although I hate to give ConcernedEngineer his own post, I've never expected to have to ban anybody before, so I guess it's good to make this all aboveboard.

ConcernedEngineer:

This is my blog, and therefore I feel responsible for keeping it a hospitable environment for discussion. Your comment spamming, backposting and intellectual arrogance do not contribute to a pleasant environment. Incidentally, neither do your malice and misogyny.

I thought that if I teased you a bit, you would understand that I find you ridiculous, and then you would lighten up or go away. Obviously I was wrong.

So because this blog has only one rule, let's go back to the rule. Please answer the following questions for me:

Obviously, you believe that God exists. Is it possible that you might be wrong, and that God does not exist?

Obviously, you consider the Bible the Inspired Word Of God. Is it possible that you might be wrong, and that people, not God, were responsible for the biblical text?

Obviously, you believe that your interpretation of the Bible is correct, even on nebulous doctrines such as trinitarianism, which are not explicitly laid out anywhere in the Bible. Is it possible that you have wrongly interpreted the Bible?

If you cannot admit your own limitations with regard to these three topics, I will invoke the one rule of this blog, and ban you from it altogether.

(Also, if any of you think I should do something different, or think I'm misapplying my own rule, please comment.)

-Me

35 comments:

ConcerenedEngineer said...

Your comment spamming, backposting and intellectual arrogance do not contribute to a pleasant environment.

Let's see:
Are you sure that I have spammed?
Are you sure that I'm arrogant?
(Are you sure that you're not arrogant?)
Are you sure that my thoughts do not "contribute"?
Are you sure this is a pleasant environment?
Are you sure this is supposed to be a pleasant environment?

If you answer any of those in the affirmative, then it appears that you are into breaking your own rules.

Blessings!

ConcernedEngineer said...

Basically, the one rule of this blog is that you must be an agnostic. But to be an agnostic when God has spoken to your clearly is to deny Jesus Christ the only Sovereign and Lord.

shane said...

Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but I am pretty sure being a prick is.

But I might be wrong. . . I've met a lot of pricks that claimed to be faithful, even orthodox in their beliefs. . . I just wish that they acted a little more like Jesus, rather than citing him as a trump card in dialog.

ConcernedEngineer said...

And you're saying that claiming that (A) is true = Being a prick.

Has it occurred to you that I am a person who is frustrated by our societies' basic refusal to acknowledge the most fundamental of truths? (Key word in that previous sentence was person). Has it occured to you that if people would humbly acknowledge truth, many things would change for the better? Has it occurred to you that God wants us all to be humble and submissive to authority?

Has it occurred to you that my intention is not to piss people off, but to provoke people to think and to humbly worship God?

shane said...

"And you're saying that claiming that (A) is true = Being a prick."

No, I'm saying you don't understand epistemological perspective that is being shared here, and your ignorance is offensive.

For instance, my grandmother was a nice person, but also racist. She grew up in a different time. I believe her attitudes were wrong, even sinful, but she was certain she was justified and Biblically in her embarrassing hate. Any attempt to talk to her about her perspective was useless, as she would neither listen nor consider any other view. Nonetheless, she would occasionally embarrass our family publicly by loudly stating how nice or clean our waitress was, "for a n****r." For some reason, she only said this sort of stuff in restaurants or church. I never understood that.

You are a person, loved as a child of God, with legitimate feelings, frustrations and perspective. What I believe we are doing is admitting that our tradition might have more in common with my grandmother than we care to admit, and you are not. It might be simple for you to say, “if our society would simply accept these things, the result would be better” except for the fact that history clearly indicates that Christian cultures are not utopian, or in many cases even very loving.

I believe that I share some of your goals, but I don’t agree with your method as you try to express it. Defending truth and seeking truth are too different things. When you seize truth and are certain, people who disagree with you are enemies. When you seek truth people who disagree with you are fellow pilgrims. The difference is important for how community is formed.

shane said...

couple of typos in that one, sorry Matt. You can correct it if you want.:)

Matthew said...

"couple of typos in that one"

Yeah, that one word has all those asterisks in it.

Really though, that's a blog comment, so typos are the norm. I would only edit it if you threatened me with bodily harm or something like that.

Colby said...

I like when you write things Shane.

ConcernedEngineer said...

Requiring this shibboleth is an underhanded way to stamp out any speech that the general community doesn't like. Now, I'm not opposed to stamping out ungodly speech, but I absolutely am opposed to stamping out the Word of God as it is.

To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God (James 4). The world gets together and rails against Christ (Psalm 2). The religious ones play semantic games to silence the proclamation of God's truth.

You are comparing me to your racist grandmother. My grandfather was also racist. But I'm not racist, so I fail to see the connection. You seem to be asserting that by refusing to offer a shibboleth that I am "a prick."

I'm not saying that I am without sin. God knows I am not. But this worldly foolishness that masquerades as profound wisdom has got to be confronted. By refusing to acknowledge some simple truths as absolute truth, sinners are constantly giving themselves an out so that they don't have to deal with truth and reality as it is.

And if that gets me banned, then I shake the dust off my feet.

Quit screwing around with God's word!

shane said...

"By refusing to acknowledge some simple truths as absolute truth, sinners are constantly giving themselves an out"

I don't think it's refusing to acknowledge absolute truth, it's clearly stating with humility that no one person in the discussion has a stranglehold on absolute truth. Read Job in light of Deuteronomy, or James in light of Galatians. Even Scripture itself is a conversation of different people naming what it means to be a believer in God.

I am not saying you are a racist, and I apologize if it sounded that way. I am saying that our tradition and ways of reading and interacting with Scripture has led us to blind spots (like our grandparents failure to recognize the dehumanization of others) and missing the idea that our worldview or metanarrative might not be 100% what God intended is a better means of communicating the gospel to those who are intelligent and educated. Our ancestors have been wrong. There is no reason to believe we might not be wrong too.

IMO (and I might be wrong, I am sincerely sure you are an excellent and loving person and we would get along if we went to the same church or were neighbors) what makes your perspective seem suspect is certainty. Engaging in mission or evangelism work without admitting the possibility that you might be the one converted is insincere and unauthentic. That's not putting God in the marketplace with every other belief system; it is respecting the dignity and intelligence of the person you are speaking to.

ConcernedEngineer said...

I don't think it's refusing to acknowledge absolute truth, it's clearly stating with humility that no one person in the discussion has a stranglehold on absolute truth.

This is our fundamental disagreement. Firstly, when you admit that you might be wrong, you are giving up the acknowledgment that the truth to which you hold might be absolute. Let's stay logical.

Secondly, giving up the strength of your conviction does not equal humility. Also, retaining the strength of a conviction does not necessarily equal pride or humility.

A proud man can play semantic games and make liberal people think he is the most humble man around. (Bill Clinton was excellent at this). A humble man is one who humbly acknowledges truth and reality for what it is, and he finds his confidence, righteousness, and salvation in Christ alone. He also freely acknowledges his sins - calling them by their biblical name - not in a legalistic way - but in a way that truly glorifies God.

It is seen by many as humble to desire to "dialogue" with non-believers. It is seen as arrogant to "preach" to non-believers. And so many people preach dialogue rather than preach Christ. And while they may be open to a dialogue on whether or not dialogue should be the goal, they are not open to any claims to absolute truth. Why? Because fundamentally, they have maken an idol out of dialogue. They are "fundamentalist dialogonians." That is their one absolute. Any other claims of absolute truth kill dialogue, so they attack those who proclaim absolute truth as arrogant.

But a person who proclaims absolute truth is only arrogant if he is arrogant.

It is not humble to say that God is no more righteous than Job's friends.

It is not humble to say that Korah might have been right and Moses might have been wrong.

It is not humble to say that it might not be wrong to call a black man a n*gg*r.

Often times, this desire to "level the epistemological playing field" is really nothing more than arrogant people expressing their envy in an arrogant way. And if you call them out on this, then they accuse you of being arrogant and of wanting to be on a power trip. It doesn't matter that you're perfectly content worshipping God; the envious and arrogant will try to destroy you, because they are envious and arrogant.

Please read the following essay prayerfully and carefully.

http://www.credenda.org/issues/18-3thema.php

Matthew said...

OK, CE, you've done your job and witnessed to the heathens. They've rejected you.

Now dust off your feet, or whatever it is you do to make yourself feel like Super Righteous Prophet Man, and go on your way.

shane said...

I don’t understand, do you humbly admit that you are the conduit for absolute truth in this dialog, or are you humbly stating that your mind is better attuned to deciphering the apparently clear and simple statements God is making to all of us?

We agree that we disagree. But what’s the point of talking to you if you are the true source of God's wisdom or truth? Where is your blog that I might go and learn? Were you there when God plumbed the depth of the ocean and the sea was told, “this far, but no farther?” Then how dare you speak as if you were?

Epistemological humility: individuals have a limited scope of experience and understanding. I am not admitting that the truth I hold is not absolute, I am stating my grasp is not complete . . . where I once thought it was okay to label a person as a ‘fagot,’ I now see the power that language has over identity, and realize my limited power to create a reality in another person’s mind actually does something to the way they see themselves in light of God. So I don’t do that anymore, because doing so is destructive, and Jesus isn’t destructive. I know the limits and the power of my intellectual grasp, and I do not think myself more highly of myself than I ought.

I engaged the article. The move to identify the objectivity of Scripture (which has been refined and approved by the community of faith for centuries, and even now continues to be tested and approved) with any individual is at best extremely risky and at worst sinful. Throughout history too many human beings have claimed divine right (W claims his policy is directed by what God tells him and his gut more than trained advisors and history) and acted in malice, ruining the welfare of other human beings. I choose not to have that kind of audacity, and choose to find the streams within our movement that do the same.

Matthew said...

Incidentally, Shane is my hero.

ConcernedEngineer said...

But what’s the point of talking to you if you are the true source of God's wisdom or truth?

Well, the intellectual jab aside (I'm not the only source of truth, but what I speak is God's truth), the point of talking with me is that you could learn something.

I admit that I am human and that I am capable of error. I admit that I can learn from others. But I assert that there are moral absolutes.

Lying is wrong.
Rape is wrong.
Stealing is wrong.
Murder is wrong.
Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners.
etc etc.

You are right that we must be very careful before saying, "This is the truth of God." But that doesn't mean that we can never humbly say, "This is the truth of God."

Here is the link to my blog:
meditationsofdan.blogspot.com

The move to identify the objectivity of Scripture (which has been refined and approved by the community of faith for centuries, and even now continues to be tested and approved) with any individual is at best extremely risky and at worst sinful.

A life without taking risks is a life that is not lived to the full. A man of faith steps out in faith - often. We do need to be careful, but we need not be so cowardly and cautious that we never step out. In point of fact, it is too risky to never take any risks in life. That said, if you don't know that you have heard from God, you should never talk as if you have.

I'm not saying I'm any better than any of you, so how about easing off the vicious attacks Matthew?

Matthew said...

Go away.

Seth said...

Dear Concerned Engineer,

I am glad that you "admit that you are human." Only two men who lived before you, sir, have raised the question in the minds of those who heard their words of not only "Who are you?" but "What are you?"

They were, of course, Jesus Christ and the Buddha - Satan's vicious tool of meditation and chanting.

If I may have the temerity, I would with trepidation suggest that in your list of moral absolutes - lying is wrong, rape is wrong, etc. - you seem to have omitted that one and singular absolute of utmost importance and a moral truth that you have justifiably not questioned precisely because, indeed, it is so absolute and obvious. You should have added, sir:

"I am right."

And, I think, just for good measure and emphasis:

"Because I said so."

For as to why anyone should believe your interpretation of scripture as inerrant and your various particular readings of it on homosexuality etc. - well, you have left this unexplained.

Yet is not divinely inspired mystery to be revered? For this day, I hear and learn. This day I am born anew. This day I accept the Jesus Christ of Concerned Engineer as my personal Savior, repenting of any thoughts that are not those of Concerned Engineer.

Thank you and again. Better than St. Peter, sir, you not only stand at the pearly gates but usher in those of us far weaker than yourself in faith and intellect - we lost lambs of the world who are sore in need of that extra shepherd, the one who was crucified not by ancient Romans but, nearly as bad, repeatedly annoyed by the silly, lesser thoughts of people who disagree with you. And yet as Christ's sword and shield and all around body guard of whom surely He says, "What would I do without Concerned Engineer?" you persist until, one by one, we are saved or at least you've steamrolled over the threat of your own unexamined assumptions with a bunch of blunt assertions that you repeat without demonstrating. One of those.

But again, mystery, especially as vituperative, snide, and condescending illogic, is a marvel and a God-blessing.

I pray for Matthew. His star shines so much dimmer than yours - it is evident, from this whole exchange, that even his IQ must be far less. I entreat that you have patience, that you pray with me for his soul, and that he somehow gets his mind around that simple yet profound truth:

Concerned Engineer is right.

God Bless,

Seth

scoots said...

CE: I really don’t get it. We’re not asking you to say, “There are no moral absolutes.” We’re not asking you to say, “The Bible isn’t really the inerrant Word of God.”

Matthew might or might not agree with either of those statements (well, I’m pretty sure he agrees with the second), but in my experience he’s pretty open to discussion with people (like me) who disagree with him about a lot of things that he and I both find very important.

All we’re asking (if I understand correctly) is for you to say: “I believe with all my heart that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, and that I’m interpreting it correctly, and that the entire world needs to hear it; but I may be wrong.”

Surely at some point in your adult life you have come to a different belief about something in Scripture you thought was really important. Even a lot of conservative people understand Paul’s idea of justification by faith differently than they did before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. And that’s a doctrine that millions of people regard as the heart of Christian theology.

How foolish would those people have felt if they had insisted, before that discovery, that there was no way they were wrong?

Sometimes we’re surprised by new things we learn, precisely because we didn’t think we’d ever change our mind on some particular point. This is the only reason it’s worthwhile to talk to other people about theology, rather than just thinking more about it individually.

If you don’t think it’s possible that you could learn something important from any of us--or from some future manuscript discovery that might illuminate some Scripture text as meaning something we wouldn’t have imagined--then I can’t see why it would be worth my time to write anything more to you.

P.S. Share is my hero too.

scoots said...

Er, Shane.

Matthew said...

"in my experience he’s pretty open to discussion with people (like me) who disagree with him about a lot of things that he and I both find very important."

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Scoots. Actually, thanks for that entire comment. You and Shane are doing a much better job of communicating those ideas than I am.

Matthew said...

Also, Seth surpasses me in witty sarcasm. I should definitely retire. =)

ConcernedEngineer said...

Seth,
Your wit amazes me. Congratulations on the intelligence you display while mocking me. I am in awe. You are obviously one smart cookie.

And not only that, but your humility, understanding, and compassion is absolutely overwhelming.

Scoots,
Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem sinners to myself.

On that statement, there is no way that I am wrong. That statement is absolutely true.

scoots said...

CE said: Scoots, Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem sinners to (sic) myself.

Er, I’ll assume you mean “himself,” before Seth jumps on you with the messiah complex talk again.

I certainly agree that that statement is true. In fact, I’ve staked my life’s work and countless hours of prayer, church attendance, discussion, etc., on that fact.

But I still have to admit that it may be wrong. The Christian faith might somehow be a big lie. That doesn’t make me an agnostic; it just means I have to have faith that it’s true.

Under Matt’s terms (which I find pretty reasonable), I, for one, don’t see any way forward from here.

Seth said...

Scoots

I don't know... I think you may have caught him in a Freudian slip there...

"Concerned"engineer

Engineer, I am not worthy that you come under my spoof. Speak but the word of righteous condemnation and my soul will be kneeled.

As to me, I am no more of a smart cookie than one of little note yet long remembered who said to the one whose mind you know: "Prophesy to us - who is it that strikes you then?"

ConcernedEngineer said...

Scoots,
Yes. That was a rather embarassing slip. Fortunately God knows what I meant.

Let me ask you this: If you are married (or ever intend to be married) do you intend to tell your wife, "Sweetheart, I think I love you, but I may be wrong." After all, Jeremiah asserted that the heart is wicked and deceitful. For all you know, you might end up divorced, bankrupt, homeless, and addicted to crack in 10 years, so how can you say to your wife with certainty that you love her?

The answer of course is BY FAITH. And this faith is not to be humanistic. You should not think for a second that you have reason to put confidence in yourself and your own ability to make a marriage be successful. No. You need to put your faith and trust in God.

God desires to know us to be known by us as a husband knows his wife. We, the church, are the bride of Christ. What kind of wife do you think God wants for His Son? Do you think He wants His people to be unsure of His love? Do you think He wants His bride to be insecure?

Now, you can't fake faith, confidence, and security. But if for whatever reason you are lacking in faith, lacking in confidence, and/or lacking in security, there is nothing humble about staying forever in such a condition. In fact, to stay in such a position is to walk in rebellion. God gives faith to His people, and it is our responsibility to fan into flame the gift that God gives us.

Committing ourselves to a position of eternal insecurity is foolish, dangerous, and immoral. It also breaks God's heart. There is nothing humble about it.

God is worthy of our praise. He is faithful and trustworthy. Trustworty. He is worthy of our total trust. That's what saving faith is all about.

ConcernedEngineer said...

Matthew,
Since I'm such a stickler for sound doctrine, would you mind editting the blasphemy I inadvertantly posted? Christ died to redeem sinners to HIMSELF.

But it is cool to think that the atoning sacrifice that Christ made at the cross doesn't only redeem sinners to God, but it also destroys the dividing wall of hostility between people like Matthew and myself.

For Christ's sake, Matthew, let us be friends. I believe the sacrifice Christ made at the cross is a big enough sacrifice for Matthew and I to be friends. What do you think, Matthew? Perhaps God wants to use this dialogue to teach us both a huge lesson in forebearance and humility.

God bless.

Matthew said...

"Christ died to redeem sinners to HIMSELF."

I can't edit comments, just delete them. Rest assured that everyone knew what you meant, and if they didn't, your clarification clarifies it.

"For Christ's sake, Matthew, let us be friends."

I think it would be a little dishonest to describe us as friends, but I certainly would prefer a cordial relationship to an antagonistic one.

Regarding this blog, though, the difficulty is that it's intended for discussion, and if everyone except you accepts the possibility that they might be wrong about a given proposition, we can't really have a meaningful discussion.

I respect your expressions of total confidence as your attempts to do something that you think is morally good, but insisting that you could not possibly be wrong rules out any possibility of open dialog. If you ever decide that you want to investigate the truth of your theology instead of asserting the truth of your theology, please come back and talk with us.

ConcernedEngineer said...

Before I depart from this blog for good, I would strongly encourage you (for your own sake, not for mine) to answer the questions I posed in my previous posts regarding the security that God desires for His bride - aka the community of believers known as the church.

I also want everyone to have the full opportunity to confess whatever sins might have been committed in the recent posts on this blog.

Finally, I am trying to challenge every reader to recognize the ridiculousness of this blog's one rule, and to put pressure on Matthew to change the rule.

Have a wonderful day - walking in faith, humility, and confidence.

ConcernedEngineer said...

Before you all decide to reject my assertions, I would encourage you to consider the fact that when Jesus came to a certain town, performed miracles, and ruined the local economy (by sending a bunch of pigs into a river to be drowned), when the townspeople requested for Jesus to leave, he left. And - if I have this right - he never returned.

I'm not just another guy on the internet. I am speaking and preaching that which is in line with sound doctrine. Therefore, for your own sakes, do not reject me, because to reject me is to reject Him. I am an ambassador of Christ.

Jesus is not anything like a modern liberal. Do not attempt to create Jesus in your own image.

Richard said...

Matthew,
I think you summarized the issue nicely. I think that this the main issue here: Dialogue vs. Preaching.

You dialogue when you feel like you might learn something from your conversation partner. The potential for ideological change is taken as a given. The situation is epistemologically symmetrical and egalitarian.

You preach when you know the truth and your conversation partner does not. This presumes an epistemological asymmetry: I am right and you are wrong.

CE wants to preach on a blog where you defined norm to be dialogical. Thus, he's breaking the rules of your community.

ConcernedEngineer said...

Richard,

That is absolutely correct. I am not only breaking the rule, but I am openly attacking the rule as ungodly.

Egalitarianism is false and is often pushed in the name of justice by the envious.

Amadeus was a great movie.

To exalt dialogue as the highest goal is to give in to idolatry.

Richard said...

CE: "because to reject me is to reject Him"

Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that.
William Shakespeare, "King Lear", Act 3 scene 4

ConcernedEngineer said...

Matthew may be the authority of this community - the benevolent despot - but there is a higher authority to whom he and each of us will answer.

Richard said...

CE,
On a biblical note, consider Matthew 28: 16-20:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Note that the gospel message is given to those who both believe and to those who have doubts. The point is, Matthew's call to be both a Christian and a doubter is completely consistent with Scripture. By contrast, the position you are staking out is not biblical.

Matthew said...

"That is absolutely correct. I am not only breaking the rule, but I am openly attacking the rule as ungodly. "

That's your call.

I am now closing comments on this post. I am also enabling comment moderation. CE, your comments will be automatically removed until you agree to adhere to the rules of this blog.