Friday, October 06, 2006

Interesting Conversation

I've been using up my time and energy in this discussion at a rather inflammatory blog called Kill The Afterlife. I know that many of you do not share my love of discussing moral, theological and philosophic issues with atheists, but for those few of you who do, check out the discussion.


Aaron Kinney said...

Hey nice blog!

For those readers here who dont know, Kill The Afterlife is my blog.

Yes, its deliberately inflammatory. But, its inflammatory towards religion/afterlife and crazy actions done by those who believe in, and in the name of, religion/afterlife.

I try hard to insult belief systems themselves, and not the actual people who engage me over there that believe in Godly things.

I think youll see that in the comments with Sandalstraps, we are managing to have a respectful and thought provoking dialogue.

And I just found out that Sandal and me are BOTH 27! Cool :)

Tyler Simons said...

I'm 27, too! For another 6 days!

Thanks for the heads up, Strapso. I had the opportunity to sort out a few things in an overly long comment.

Aaron wrote:

Kill The Afterlife is my blog.

Yes, its deliberately inflammatory. But, its inflammatory towards religion/afterlife and crazy actions done by those who believe in, and in the name of, religion/afterlife.

For the record, the idea of "religion" to which KtA is inflammatory is an arbitrarily narrow one that in no way exhausts the realm of actually-existing religions. He might want to read this exceprt from a history of religions text by J.Z. Smith clarifying the problems with the idea of "religion."

Troy said...

Most interesting. Neitzche has many children...thinking of "Morality as Anti-Nature" as I read some of the posts.

The one thing that surprised me was your denial, in some sense, of Christ's deity. I have not read you on that before. But then that teaching is such a Mystery...certainly Jesus could have been God's unique agent in history...his son in fact, sent to the vineyard after the prophets, and not been a partaker of the Divine nature. That Paul and the Johannine community thought so seems beyond debate. The issues run deep, however.

Did Jesus have a special relationship with the Father or not? Did he pre-exist or not? Was his divinity assumed only after his resurrection? How was he able to do such amazing things and continually speak in such a grandiose terms of himself yet still claim he came to serve? Lots of mysteries, but the unique nature of Jesus' story seems clear. I would agree that in whatever sense Christ was divine he was surely limited. Looking at what God must be and what man is, Jesus' mind as a man must have been much more of the latter.

I think it's great you do what you do, Chris.

I would note, Aaron, that insulting belief systems is very hard to separate from actually insulting those who hold them. This must be remembered by theists and atheists alike (ah, I am making an ethical imperative). Respecting diverse views is one of Sandalstraps' strengths, I think.

Incidentally, I'm way over 27.

Amy said...

Well written and presented, Chris. Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less. Gosh, I hope we're in some of the same classes when you return to LPTS...

My only qualm was your use of the phrase "sola scriptura." You seem to be associating it with biblical literalism. While it does, indeed, mean "Scripture alone," within the reformed tradition, sola scripture refers to the importance of an individual reading and interpretation of scripture. It means, for us, that the meaning of a passage is not something that is simply dictated by outside authorities, but discerned by individual study. In this way, it is tied to the priesthood of all believers.

In this example, it is the literalist reading that is dictated from outside; sola scriptura allows the participant to read for herself and decide whether to reject or accept the dictates of previous interpretation.

However, that's only one gliche I see in an otherwise strong discussion. Thanks for guiding us to it!

Amy said...

BTW, it's another 10 months until I turn 27 - I'm lagging behind!

Sandalstraps said...

Thanks to all for your comments both here and there!


I hear your concerns about my Christology, and I'll do my best to answer them.

As concerns the role of Jesus as the Christ, the Annointed of God, I am an adoptionist. That is, Jesus became the Christ when the Holy Spirit (literally the Breath of God) descended on him at his baptism. Part of my basis for that comes from the Gospel of Mark, which as you know predates the other synoptics, and far predates the Gospel of John. Mark has no miraculous birth stories, and no divine Logos hymn. I think that, in its Christology, it best captures the views of the earliest Christians. The later stories are embellishments which come out of the fertile soil of the Roman Empire, as Christians developed their Christology in dialog with other groups.

I'm not sure what to make of the historicity of many of the stories in the Gospel, though as you well know, historicity is not my primary concern. I do believe, at the very least, that the disciples experienced the resurrected Jesus, and their experience then points strongly to the reality (in some form, even if not literally physical) of that resurrection.

I also find it hard to dismiss all of the healing stories out of hand, as they are so prevalent in the available literature about Jesus. I suspect that if you surveyed people in first century Palestine, you'd find that if they knew anything at all about Jesus, they knew that he healed people.

Incarnational theology is very important for me, even if I deny the literal incarnation, if by literal incarnation we mean "God made flesh." Incarnational theology, for me, more means "God revealed through flesh." As such, Jesus reveals (at least in part - I doubt that there could be a perfect, comprehensive revelation) the nature and concerns of God, by virtue of, as you alluded to, his unique relationship with God.

But the uniqueness of that relationship is one of degree rather than of kind. Jesus as the Annointed of God ushers us into a kind of relationship with God very much like his own, which is part of what we mean when we call him the Christ, and part of what I mean when I say that I experience God through Jesus.

But I think that saying that Jesus is literally God creates some serious problems, which I may address later.

Sandalstraps said...


I hear your concern as well. I used sola scriptura very narrowly, in response to the comment

You have nothing to justify your position except scriptures, which are simply fictions written by power-hungry men.

I was using it more as a literary device, a way of describing the charge that I have nothing to support my position than scripture, rather than as a carefully considered theological descriptor.

I do not shared the reformed position concerning scripture, but neither did I mean to impugn it by making it equivalent to literalism.

In other words, I apologize for taking too much liberty with a very specific theological term. Such is the difficulty of trying to do both good theology and good literature.

Sandalstraps said...

Oh, yeah, and...


Happy impending birthday!

Tyler Simons said...


By the way, I thought you were thinking of law school. Have plans changed?

Sandalstraps said...


I'm definitely not going to law school, for reasons which have been discussed in earlier posts. I'm still looking for a job, but I'm also applying to go back to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to work on a Masters of Arts in Religion (MAR) and a Masters of Theology (ThM) as preparation for a PhD or ThD program, probably in theological ethics.

Tyler Simons said...

If there's even a small chance you might be able to move, you should apply at the UofC, too! Come North and visit at least.

Sandalstraps said...


I'll have to move at some point, because I can't do the doctoral work I want to do in the Louisville Metro area. But I can't move for another couple of years, so I'll knock the Masters degrees out here.

I still have contacts (like our own Amy, not to mention the professors) at the Presbyterian Seminary here, and they've been recruiting me to come back. In fact, if it weren't for my former advisor visiting this blog and then contacting me about it, I might not be going back to school.

Funny how things work out.

But I'll definitely put U of C on my list of schools to consider for my doctoral work, and I'd love to get up to Chicago for a visit sometime long before then. I love the Windy City, but haven't been there in over 9 years.