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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:06 pm 
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I haven't forgotten, but I haven't gotten to it either. Thank you for the reminder.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:56 pm 
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Of course there is such a thing as the objective meaning of a text, and of course (I hope) I am not claiming that the Bible is so hopelessly obscure as to remain sealed to anyone who does not read it through the seer stones of the Magisterium.

What I am claiming is that there is no such thing as approaching a text in a way that lets it speak for itself absent any premises that the reader brings to the text. For an example that you and I both accept, we both approach a Biblical text with the pre-existing belief that it is the inspired Word of God and that there is something in the text worth knowing.

When St. Paul wrote to the Galatians (mutatis mutandis for all texts of Scripture), he didn't expect that text to speak for itself. He expected it to be read in a very definite context, that being the context of what he had already told the Galatians and whatever else he believed they knew about Christianity. We know some of what he'd told the Galatians because he repeats it in the letter; the rest we are left to infer from his other letters, which of course assumes we understood them correctly in the first place. Again, I am not arguing that the texts are hopelessly obscure; I am saying that it is a hopeless task to attempt to read them without antecedent beliefs giving them theological context.

You might say that, knowing no theological system in advance, you would find a distinction between inheritance and entrance in the text of Galatians (and more elsewhere), but in fact there's no way to make that experiment. There has not been a person for well over a thousand years who encountered the Bible with no idea what it contains and no thought what it might mean.

Even those who consciously said, "I am setting aside all previous interpretations of Scripture and will read only what's there" (e.g., the Campbells) didn't do so in reality. They were rejecting a system of teaching and so were inclined not to find certain things in Scripture taught by the system/s they were rejecting (e.g., the Trinity and the divinity of Christ).

So we always, unavoidably, attempt to understand the Bible in a given pre-existing context. If we find it impossible to understand, then either our understanding is inadequate or we need to revisit the context in which we're reading it.

    It may startle those who are but acquainted with the popular writings of this day, yet, I believe, the most accurate consideration of the subject will lead us to acquiesce in the statement, as a general truth, that the doctrines in question have never been learned merely from Scripture. Surely the Sacred Volume was never intended, and is not adapted, to teach us our creed; however certain it is that we can prove our creed from it, when it has once been taught us, and in spite of individual producible exceptions to the general rule. From the very first, that rule has been, as a matter of fact, that the Church should teach the truth, and then should appeal to Scripture in vindication of its own teaching. And from the first, it has been the error of heretics to neglect the information thus provided for them, and to attempt of themselves a work to which they are unequal, the eliciting a systematic doctrine from the scattered notices of the truth which Scripture contains. Such men act, in the solemn concerns of religion, the part of the self-sufficient natural philosopher, who should obstinately reject Newton's theory of gravitation, and endeavour, with talents inadequate to the task, to strike out some theory of motion by himself. The insufficiency of the mere private study of Holy Scripture for arriving at the exact and entire truth which Scripture really contains, is shown by the fact, that creeds and teachers have ever been divinely provided, and by the discordance of opinions which exists wherever those aids are thrown aside; as it is also shown by the very structure of the Bible itself. And if this be so, it follows that, while inquirers and neophytes in the first centuries lawfully used the inspired writings for the purposes of morals and for instruction in the rudiments of the faith, they still might need the teaching of the Church as a key to the collection of passages which related to the mysteries of the Gospel, passages which are obscure from the necessity of combining and receiving them all.

John Henry Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century, Chapter I, section 3, subsection 2.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:59 am 
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Don't you think there is a vast difference between on one hand denying that " there is such a thing as the objective meaning of a text" and claiming that "the Bible is so hopelessly obscure as to remain sealed to anyone who does not read it through the seer stones of the Magisterium," versus on the other hand "there is no such thing as approaching a text in a way that lets it speak for itself absent any premises that the reader brings to the text."

It seems like your argument is a false dilemma. I simply don't see any evidence that because we all have presuppositions that we bring to the text, therefore Scripture is not clear enough to be understood on its own terms. Again, I'd just point you to your own post. Or how about the Newman quote? You expect us to read and understand that.

Not buying it, Obi. The point is that there is an objective meaning of the text. If you deny that, then it applies to all texts equally. If you affirm that, it applies to all texts equally. You can't deny it because then your own post and everything your church has ever written would be meaningless, with meaning only being found in reader response. If you affirm it so as to affirm the meaningfulness of your church's teachings, then you affirm it of the biblical text. So when I go to Galatians and say that I'm simply reading the text as it is, that's a claim you can't dismiss on the grounds that it needs to be read through the magisterium. If you think that the magisterium provides some specific context that changes the objective meaning of the Galatian text, then do the work of providing your sources. Show me where the words mean something else, objectively, in this context you are saying is so important. That's what lexicographers do. And if you have no such evidence, then why believe it other than blind faith? You would literally be saying that you are believing something not only in the absence of evidence but when the evidence positively contradicts your position.

I think that's doubly important in a book like Galatians. Here we have Paul talking to people he personally taught who had been confused by other people personally taught by the people Jesus and His disciples personally taught. It was so bad that no less than Peter and Barnabas were led astray! The entire presumption of the authority of your magisterium is the deposit of faith is faithfully handed down through apostolic succession, that we ought to try to read the texts the way the church fathers did the first few hundred years of the church. And yet, here we have, in the first few dozen years of the church major confusion. This is exactly why I say that not only should we let the text be the text and look at its objective meaning, but we make a positive mistake when we appeal to your magisterium. In the first place, I strongly doubt you can provide the kind of lexicographical data from your magisterial authority to change the objective meaning of the text; and second, even if you could provide a very limited amount, the entire message of Galatians (as well as 1 and 2 Corinthians, of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, of 1-2 John, of Jude, of 1-2 Peter, of the Gospel of John, and of Colossians) is that errors are quick to accumulate when you get away from the written word. That's why I have said before that my prediction, my expectation, is that when you look at doctrinal development after the apostolic age, you should see a move away from the written text. And that's what happened. It wasn't until we committed to the text as written that we got back to teaching what Paul taught. Yes, Luther more or less started that, but even he couldn't get rid of all of those presuppositions you talked about (e.g., his amillennialism simply can't be defended from Scripture). And we're still trying to get away from them (so you have dispensationalists still stupidly arguing that the seven churches of the revelation represent seven church ages, or Southern Baptist preachers insisting that "repent" means "to turn from sin"). But we are getting better.

So, yes, Obi, the Scriptures are very, very clear. The problem is that we have difficulty approaching them honestly. Instead of acknowledging our eisogesis when others point it out (which is one of the most important roles of the community), we defend it. That's wrong and dishonest (in my own opinion, of course).


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:12 am 
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Tell me: Did you approach the Scriptures on your own, with no prior information, and decide, "Oh! There's a distinction between inheriting and entering the kingdom!" Or did someone teach you that such a distinction exists and where support for it might be found, and you went and looked, and darned if it doesn't look like it's there? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

The difference between you and me is not that my reading of Scripture comes through a theological lens and yours doesn't. The difference is that I acknowledge it.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:28 am 
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Again with the misrepresentation, Obi. To not have a lens does not mean that that someone else doesn't point something out to you that you had not seen before. That is exactly what makes objectivity objective. The word "enter" means "enter." The word "inherit" means "inherit." I had always assumed they meant the same thing because I'd been taught the passages all referred to "going to heaven." When someone pointed it out, it was immediately obvious. There are times when people try to point out distinctions that, objectively, I simply don't think exists. The classic example is a friend of mine who thinks that there is a distinction between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. I looked at the data I was presented and simply didn't see sufficient evidence that the words refer to different subjects.

Point is, the perspicuity of Scripture doesn't entail that teaching isn't possible. That's a straw man not worth your fire, and if that's what it meant, I wouldn't but it either. On the other hand, my argument remains untouched. I point out what a text says. You can disagree, and that's fine. Show me why. If I'm objectively wrong, show my where. Show me the evidence. Show me what the words mean in their own contexts. Don't defend mere eisogesis. And if you insist on defending eisogesis, I'll write that off as worse than blind faith, because you now have not only unfounded, baseless affirmation, but you compound the error with affirming without evidence that for which there is evidence of the contrary position!

And that's why I said this is a terrible apologetic approach for you to take. The Newman quote only makes it worse. You are conceding the Scriptures to people like me, saying that they don't teach truth at all, but they only illustrate your beliefs when convenient. And of all the things I don't buy, Obi, that's at the top of the list.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:45 am 
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Why don't we do a case study? Let's look at Gal 4:4-7, since you brought that passage up. You say that teaches "that salvation comes through Divine filiation--adoption as sons/daughters, which then makes us heirs." Let's see your exegesis. I'll offer mine. Let's look at the objective meaning of the text you say you believe exists. That's our common ground. You brought it up, so you go first (besides, I've already given a quick overview how I see that passage, anyway, so it's doubly your turn).


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:10 am 
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I am not the only one mischaracterizing beliefs, if indeed I am doing so. Newman didn't say what you say he says, and I don't say it either.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:12 am 
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And I cannot argue Catholicism on the basis of perspicuous Scriptures because I don't believe it and the Church doesn't believe it. So if you say, "It turns me off from Catholicism when you say that the Scriptures aren't perspicuous" (which is, by the way, what Newman and I are saying, not that they are a blank text into which we may read anything at all by the Church's dictate), well, then that's a problem you have with Catholicism which I can't do anything about.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:18 am 
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I'm pointing out what I see as the necessary consequences of what I see your (and Newman's) position to be. And I'm not saying denying the perspicuity of Scripture turns me off of Catholicism. I'm saying the underlying reasoning for the denial does. Your position is logically self-refuting, and that's a problem that I can't do anything about. Moreover, by refusing to argue from Scripture, we revisit my basic point, which is that you concede Scripture to me. That's nothing less than a full admission on your part that your faith in indefensible from Scripture and needs some other lens to change the objective meaning of the text itself. In other words, the necessary and unavoidable conclusion is that you can't be Catholic without embracing eisogesis as a matter of principle, and then being inconsistent by denying the need for the same when reading the actual church's documents. And all this in the face of the historical evidence against your fundamental assumptions found in the NT itself. I expected more. I have a hard time respecting blind, self-contradictory faith.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:24 am 
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One qualification: it isn't true, of course, that you can't be Catholic without embracing eisogesis. That's too broad of a statement. I should say you can't be a Catholic of the type you and others on this board defend without embracing eisogesis. Most people will never get to do the level of study the laymen on this board, much less you, have done. So they are well within their warrant to take what you say as sufficient to ground their beliefs. But people like you and me are in a different category. And, of course, there are Catholics who hold to a different interpretation of Catholicism, as you well know. You would probably say that they aren't "good" Catholics or not consistent Catholics or whatever. But they say the same about you. I think there is a real strand of Catholicism that doesn't have the Watchtowerish, self-refuting magesterial problem that you do. So please take my very direct and admittedly pointed criticism above with reference to the particular intended target--not Catholicism in general but only the specific form of Catholicism we tend to talk about here and which I know you openly advocate for and defend.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:34 am 
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I don't recognize the positions I hold in the positions you attribute to me, which is a pretty good sign that we're talking past each other at this point. I don't think my position is illogical; I think yours is. But I do not like antagonistic debate and would rather not get further into it.

I don't have a good Catholic reference on Galatians handy at the moment, nor do I have a source handy for divine filiation and soteriology. I know where I can look, but I'm sick and it's nasty outside, so I'm not going looking at the moment.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:33 pm 
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Well I hope and pray you feel better soon. I take it your lack of recognition of the position I'm ascribing to you to be a recognition that if my assessment is correct, then there is no way I could be rationally warranted in holding it. So a proper discussion would be whether or not I've understood the implications of your position. You say no. I say that, with all due respect, you've just not thought through it clearly enough. But I also understand and appreciate your desire not to comment further at this time. Again, I'm sorry you're ill. Praying for your quick recovery.

If you do decide you'd like to look at Galatians as a case study, I think it would be an interesting application of our respective positions. But either way, I'm sure it's not the last time it will come up. I do hope my pointed assessments didn't come across as disrespectful. That's certainly never the intention!


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:39 pm 
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Thank you for your patience and understanding. I took no disrespect from it.

I'm starting to feel better, though they're still going to get about a two minute homily this weekend because that's about all my voice is good for.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:18 pm 
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Quote:
I say that, with all due respect, you've just not thought through it clearly enough.
And I would say the same for you; it's always easier to see someone else's blind spot. That's why I don't find this approach to conversation terribly fruitful.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 2:03 pm 
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I, on the contrary, find it eminently fruitful. I would assume that you have had people point out errors in your thinking before, and that while such error is frustrating (and some might even say painful) to see in one's self, the experience is all the same something we are most grateful for. It has certainly happened to me, and I strongly suspect that given how many times and how many ways I have gone over this topic in my mind and have repeatedly come to the same conclusion despite very honest and forceful attempts to rebut the idea and yet always failed to do so, if I my position is in error then the only hope I have of seeing it is if someone else can point me to a fact to which I have been blind. Now, perhaps you doubt my sincerity or even my ability to acknowledge such an error were it to be demonstrated. I wouldn't blame you at all for such doubt given how often you encounter idiots on this board. I've seen them myself. But I do know myself, and, again, I think it would be fruitful.

Does that mean I expect such correction? Of course not. I have, as I said, worked very hard to refute these ideas and constantly cannot do so. But that hardly means the conversation is futile. Now, perhaps you hold to a similar attitude that I do. Somehow I doubt it simply because I've heard you say in the past that it is wrong--I think you've even said it is sinful--to honestly consider the possibility that Catholicism is wrong. So you simply aren't permitted to question yourself in the same way I am. Suffice it to say that's another part of what I see as the fundamental problem. And maybe that's why you think it's futile.

But I still say it isn't, and that, again, is why I think a case study of Gal 4:4-7 would be a great discussion to have. Because then, I get the benefit of having someone question my methodology in a way I'm simply not capable of doing myself, and you get the benefit of demonstrating a proper Catholic method of exegesis to those following the thread (assuming there are any). Of course, the risk in such a discussion is that you give me a platform to further my arguments against your very basic assumptions, and I would take absolutely zero offense nor would I think any less of you, this board, or any members if it's decided that this is simply not the appropriate venue for that. I post regularly at another site where atheists are permitted to question, but there is a line in which open attacks are just not tolerated. I've always said this is your house and I'm a guest in it. Or to use another example, there was a time when I considered bringing in advocates of other faith groups to teach my students in advanced apologetics courses, and ultimately decided (with the help of some very wise counsel from others) that such was inappropriate. It would have been wrong to give the seminary lectern to people to use as a platform to blaspheme God, no matter how good their intentions (and mine).

So all of the above is just disclaimer. I think a case study exegesis would be very helpful, but if you decline or if it just isn't appropriate, I completely understand. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:28 pm 
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I don't find it fruitful because I can't do it well--I get upset very easily when people can't see what seems to me to be obvious truth. This is not helpful for me physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It may well be fruitful for others. It just isn't for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:33 pm 
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I find the question odd, it never occurred to me that the two expressions might mean two different things, I just assumed that like most people he used different metaphors for the same thing in different situations.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:09 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I don't find it fruitful because I can't do it well--I get upset very easily when people can't see what seems to me to be obvious truth. This is not helpful for me physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It may well be fruitful for others. It just isn't for me.

:(

Okay


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:11 pm 
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I will still root up an explanation of the passage in question at some point, when I don't have to risk life and limb walking across the street to my office where my reference books are. If I can't find enough there, I may have to wait until academic libraries are open again.


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Entering and Inheriting the Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:32 pm 
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Jack, do you have a preferred translation of the Bible? Or one that you would like me to avoid at all costs? I'm willing to get down and dirty with Greek, but English is an easier place to start.


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