Thursday, January 25, 2007

Paradigm shift!

Well, I am about to do something monumental.

Wait for it...

I was WRONG.

Or at least, I was making a problem unnecessarily difficult. You see, I wasn't entirely convinced that the position I outlined in my previous post was totally orthodox. Not that the JBC is declaring heresy or anything. But I was getting a slightly uneasy feeling in my stomach as I argued that God's commands in Joshua and Judges could be re-interpreted so that, wherever God is "speaking", what we're really seeing is an outdated understanding of God's permissive will; and that this could be held without any violence done to the notion of Biblical inerrancy.

Kind of like how, if I'm not totally convinced I'm doing something smart, sometimes I'll run it by Mom casually--you know, as if I was convinced it was smart--and I take careful note of her reaction. Now I may not always agree with Ma (I love you Ma) but more than once that reaction of hers has been a good "common sense" barometer.

But in this case, instead of Mom, I ran my thinking by the folks at That post was ignored rather quickly (although now it has two helpful posts by "Verbum" and, maybe less so, by "Genesis315".

Providentially, another post popped up on the same subject which got a lot more attention--I guess it had a better title. And was shorter. But I jumped right in (and, if I do say so, with some good one-liners) and what came out was some good solid apologetics, courtesy of Scott Hahn, who I haven't read much of--partially because intellectual snobbery dictates that one avoid scholars whose books appear on the shelves of kitschy Catholic gift shops. Alas this is also why I have been deprived of Fulton Sheen. Am I inconsistent for devouring essays by C.S. Lewis? Naw; I'll never read Narnia.

Anyway, what Hahn did for me was help to make an important adjustment. You see, there's a fault line somewhere between the overall Biblical doctrine of God and the way God appears in the Deuteronomical history. My mistake was not in believing that there was a fault-line, but in where I placed it. I said it may have been the incomplete understanding of God by the inspired authors. To preserve orthodoxy, one need only to move the fault-line backwards a bit--to the nature of deuteronomy - the second law - itself: a law for a broken people, which permitted evil because, given God's overarching plan for salvation, no other mode of divine intervention would be consistent with God's very self.


Matt of CG said...

You got it. Regardless of the circumstance He's gonna be as decisive as one can be. No pussyfootin' around for God. Jesus didn't die haphazardly. Am I right?

('cause im ignorant, that wasn't a rhetorical question)

Jeff said...

I'm not a Ockhamist; I believe that the crucifixion was necessary for our salvation. But "necessity" is a funny concept in God-talk. My church history professor introduced me to the notion of the "argument from piety", which he said can be seen whenever an ancient or medieval Christian author uses the word "fitting." God necessarily is; thus he "cannot" contradict himself, and in that sense there is necessity in God; yet just as there is necessity there is also freedom--in fact, a necessary freedom. This freedom becomes "determinative", in a way, for God's dealings with his creation, and so we begin to recognize patterns in salvation history. That God would operate according to patterns is not a sign of his being bound to a structure or logic greater than himself; it is rather a sign of free divine mercy, that God should see fit to make the goodness of his work intelligible to us, his miserable benefactors.

I know you have a taste for the incomprehensible, Matt, so this response should be a special treat.

Matt of CG said...

Heh, heh. Yeah, you're right. I was hit in the head with the same truth while listening to the story of the Syrophonecian Woman during mass once. I thought to myself, "He never forsook the Gentiles, why is He giving her such a hard time? Everything written of Him is an example for us. Ah, okay her "strident insistence" is an example of the degree of tenacity with which we should love and hope for Him. Yup, He already knew that everything He said and did was going to be written and passed down, otherwise He would have openly accepted her without any hassle. He flatters us so well by allowing us to understand."

Matt of CG said...

The simplest answer tends to be the right one for me. (a "Suffer unto me the little children" kinda thing.) For me, pride ( in this case, a fear of becoming intellectually narcissistic) is dangerous. I succumb to it so very easily because my peers made sure to deprive me of it growing up.