Monday, November 30, 2009

International Hot Tub: Round 3

(For an introduction to the intent and explanation of the name of this series, please see the introduction. Though this is presented as a two party debate on one level, comments and responses are still fully welcomed to all posts in the comments section as a way to help extend the debate and bring other voices into it.)

Guest Post by Andy Snyder:

Sorry this is so late; life happened. I’ll try to get the following responses up within a week of Adam’s posts.

My first issue here is why my complaint should be expressed “openly” at all. You said, “By ‘expressed openly’ I mean within the limits of human finitude but without excluding the possibility of the objectivity and freedom of God beyond those limits.” I understand you to mean the argument for Christianity can proceed if one is open to the possibility of the supernatural. I see no argument presented here which would make me open to the supernatural or any concept of God. The argument that I need to consider Jesus’ claims on his own terms is anachronistic and doesn’t take seriously the modern scientific world view. Jesus presented himself to a culture that assumed theism of one sort or another. This gave an inherent shape to the presentation of his message, as the majority of the ancient world believed in the divine. Back then the question was not, “Do you believe in God?” but was instead “What God do you believe in?” My problem of struggling with the existence of God was not something Jesus addressed in his message; therefore his gospel cannot be considered meaningfully until the bigger abstract issue of the existence of God is dealt with first.

Second, even if I’m open to the supernatural, I see no reason why Christianity should be given special consideration above all other claims of the supernatural. Couldn’t your second paragraph just as easily ended with “Enter the prophet Muhammad” “Enter Buddha” “Enter Apollo” etc? All religions are realities presented as both sensible and intelligible; I don’t understand why we should skip straight to Christianity and ignore other major claims to the supernatural.

Third, even if I consider Christianity on its own terms, I would argue its subjects (God/Yahweh/Jesus/The Holy Spirit) have been suspiciously absent for quite some time. Simply put, theophanies have a shelf life and the resurrection of Jesus has long past its expiration date. There is biblical president for this: In John it is written,

“ ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ” (John 20:24-29)

Here Jesus reveals two things: the need for humans to experience tangible proof of his divine claims and the difficulty to marshal belief when humans don’t have that first hand experience. Most scholars date this gospel only 60 years after the time of Jesus. That the author included this saying of Jesus implies his audience, only two or three generations removed from the life of Jesus, was struggling with his claim to be God. It is infinitely harder to believe now, as we are thousands of years and generations removed from the last significant theophany Christianity attests to. Experiencing the story, the gospel, and Christ’s ethics expressed through his church 2000 years later is not a meaningful substitute for an unequivocal biblical theophany of God. You won’t apologize for this tension and that’s fine, but neither will I for claiming a victory here.

“Of course there are other ostensibly plausible interpretations of these events. You've offered a common and compelling one, the one of the linear evolution of human understanding where we go from mythology, to religion, to naturalistic science. This story is forceful and persuasive, except for the fact that it offers no proof of itself. It is just as liable to the charge of total fabrication as is any meta-narrative of human or cosmic history.” So what do you make of the microwave background, Hubble’s constant, the fossil record (the Neanderthal, Lucy), spontaneous mutation, etc? These things certainly seem to be proof or at least evidence that the development of the universe proposed through the modern scientific worldview is valid.

On the final issue of worldviews being neutral, I propose there is a common underpinning in all cultural perspectives. Although it’s not neutral, it’s at the foundation of the human experience and is therefore a universal beginning point to evaluate any and all worldviews we might hold: humans are pattern-seeking. Whether it is Native Americans noticing the migration routes of the buffalo, ancient Athenian astrologers noticing the same shapes in the heavens reoccur year after year, or even a modern theologian looking for patterns in TF Torrance’s thought, our species universally takes notice of phenomena reoccurring and gives explanations for them. I propose that a worldview should be judged on how internally consistent its patterns to understand the world are. I not going to post my criticisms on the Christian perspective, but only want to offer this as a beginning point for comparative discussion of worldviews.

Thus endeth the response…what say you?

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Humiliation of Testifying

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (1 Pet 3:15). I know I'm not the only one who would say I'm not very good at following the advise of the last part of this verse. In the course of debates over faith (as will soon resume in the International Hot Tub series after the Thanksgiving intermission is over) or points of theology, I can often be overzealous and thus less than gentle or respectful. But lately I'm realizing that part of this failure stems from not following the first part of this verse, setting apart Christ as Lord, in the context of explaining and defending my faith.

The problem comes from equating certainty with demonstrable proof. A Christian can be "sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1); that is, a Christian can have certainty of their faith, but only by not having it in him/herself but by faith in Christ. In other words, as a Christian I am certain of something I absolutely cannot prove to others or even to myself. It is Christ that proves himself, both to me and to those to whom I testify about him. Christ has and does prove himself to me by constantly reforming my life and thought (there is a lot to reform; its taking a while) and therefore I must speak of him. But I cannot repeat to others the proof of himself he has given to me; he must prove himself to them also. This is humiliating to me.

When I testify not only of the existence of God in Christ, but of his infinite goodness and faithfulness in him, I constantly put myself up to questioning. It is my impulse as a man, an "intellectual", an American, a human, for crying out loud, to answer these questions with overwhelming logic and clarity. But this can only fail, and failure is humiliating. We make huge claims as Christians. Can we really offer no proof, no evidence? Of course, we can point to the historical evidence and the evidence of our own changed (however minimally) lives, but certainly the person questioning cannot find these things, especially on our frail lips, sufficient evidence to become a Christian. But this usually only goads me on to pile the rhetoric higher, push the logic farther, make the case, make the sale. I'm usually totally unaware of the point where it stops being about Christ and becomes about me winning the argument. Someone would have to be an idiot to become a Christian because I won an argument, but this kind of apologetics presupposes that they should. But what CAN I do? I must give an answer for the hope that I have. How do I do that without making it about my superior argumentative skills? I am learning that the answer is to constantly and ruthlessly point away from myself to Christ.

Christ must always be the justification for my faith in him; it cannot reside in me or be put into my control. This is a part of justification by grace alone; all of us can only know Christ by the grace of God, not by reason alone or empirical observation alone. Thus I can only answer everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have by setting apart Christ as Lord in my heart, by pointing away from myself, and all of my logic and certainty, to him; he is the reason. Only he can be the reason for others to hope as well. I cannot give them faith; I can only point to the grace that has given me faith and gives it freely to all who ask in Christ's name.

When I understand this, gentleness and respect for others is a necessary byproduct. I assume this is coming; God isn't through with me yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

International Hot Tub: Round 2

(For an introduction to the intent and explanation of the name of this series, please see the introduction. Though this is presented as a two party debate on one level, comments and responses are still fully welcomed to all posts in the comments section as a way to help extend the debate and bring other voices into it.)

Your position, "God is not real because I cannot sense God as I sense the rest of reality," is quite well and boldly expressed. As an open question, it brings us as humans right to the point at which the gospel speaks. As a final conclusion, it blindly assumes victory after having slain only a straw man.

By "expressed openly" I mean within the limits of human finitude but without excluding the possibility of the objectivity and freedom of God beyond those limits. We can't intelligently say, "God doesn't exist because I can't touch him", while you could say that apart from Christ "God is not real to me because he has not made himself real for me within the limitations that my knowledge is necessarily bound to." For me as a human to know something or someone is real, that reality must present itself as both sensible and intelligible. Enter Jesus Christ.

The Gospel tells us that God, who cannot be touched or fully comprehended, has condescended to make himself known to us within the physical and intelligible limitations of human life and speech by becoming incarnated in Jesus Christ. God made himself knowable by presenting himself within our touchable and intelligible realm. However, even this is still not on the terms you describe. To touch Jesus' skin and hear his words was not to touch God directly or hear him directly, but to touch and hear that in which God had made himself fully present and through which he made himself known. In other words, one can take a position of doubt, saying Jesus was merely a man, his words merely human words. No overwhelming logical argument can fully refute this doubt. But for those, as Jesus said, "with ears to hear", God made and continues to make himself fully knowable in the sensible and intelligible reality of the man Jesus Christ.

"Did you just say 'continues to make'? Jesus isn't walking the earth today!" Yes, but God's taking human form and human speech in Jesus Christ as the Incarnation of his eternal Word has forged a new knowledge of himself in humanity that perpetuates itself through those who know it, the church. You can see and hear the church, understand its proclamation of the risen and everliving Christ; these are sense experiences you cannot deny having, it is just a question of your willingness to receive them as communicative of knowledge of God. How do we know God is communicating himself through the church's proclamation? You must approach God through them and see if he is there to be found. How? Through the means appropriate to him: prayer and worship.

This is the message of Christianity. Your fundamental argument, "God is not real because I cannot sense God as I sense the rest of reality," has met a counter claim. If you have made your argument "openly", you must consider the church's proclamation of Jesus Christ, God come among us in our sphere of observability, and make your judgement. As it is, your argument, if expressed in a closed way, is a rejection only of a straw man, something other than the Christian God who is defined by untouchability but has nevertheless taken on touchability for you and for me. This seems to be your complaint though: God is too untouchable in his eternal nature and too touchable in his human mediation. This is just complaining that God is too God.

At this point, the first two categories of tangible experiences of God you mentioned I would consider dealt with. Christians, having heard the voice of the eternal God in the proclamation of the gospel and thus having learned to correlate events and realities in this world, both fantastic and mundane, with their source and meaning in the eternal love and will of God for us in Christ, interpret both fortuitous synchronicity and pretty sunsets as the Creator speaking in his creation. Of course these things cannot prove the validity of this theological interpretation; that can only be validated by a prior encounter with God in his gospel. Of course there are other ostensibly plausible interpretations of these events. You've offered a common and compelling one, the one of the linear evolution of human understanding where we go from mythology, to religion, to naturalistic science. This story is forceful and persuasive, except for the fact that it offers no proof of itself. It is just as liable to the charge of total fabrication as is any meta-narrative of human or cosmic history. Just as the Christians' interpretation works perfectly well if God exists, so does yours if God doesn't exist. But this does nothing by way of offering any evidence for or against God's existence. Lets come back to that shortly.

Your point about Christians not believing in the God of the Bible I found totally compelling and convicting. You're right; most Christians don't really believe in the God of the Bible. The Bible presents us with something quite alien to our experiences, what Karl Barth called "a strange new world". Liberal Christianity explains all this away and repackages the Christian message as human progress, or social or personal enlightenment (God-lite). On the other side, fanatical Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity seems to deny the tension and convince themselves that they see pillars of fire and so on. Really, though, both are doing the same thing; reducing the Creator to the sphere of the created. The rest of us fall feebly somewhere in between. For myself, I seek to believe and be faithful to the God of the Bible, but I'm constantly faced with my incompetence in this regard; I can't help but feel a serious conflict between the world the Bible depicts, one in which God is seemingly ever present, active, and articulate, and my own world which feels much less spectacular. But this tension is necessary. If the Bible and the God whose revelation it mediates to me weren't so wholly other from the world of my experiences and expectations, it could not call me out of myself to a faith whose center is another Being entirely. It is a tension that seizes me, calls me to repentance for trying to resolve, and produces faith and hope in the man at the center of that tension. If the story of that man were pure mythology, I could easily dismiss it and there would be no tension. If it conformed to my experience and expectation, it would reveal nothing to me. This tension you have so well named here I will not apologize for leaving unresolved. God speaks in that tension and moves to resolve it himself in the fulfillment of history yet to come in Christ's return.

Let me finish by coming back to the issue of the equal footing of internally consistent worldviews. Both Christianity and atheism provide ways of looking at the world that accord fairly well within themselves. Their starting points, however, cannot be arrived at neutrally, but are bound up with the view of the world they provide. You have spoken of the experience of others from a worldview of unbelief; you answered Jesus' "who do they say that I am?" from a standpoint hostile to faith. Now he asks you "who do you say that I am?" This question cannot be answered neutrally. It calls your self and everything you think into question. You cannot evade the question with appeals to presuppositions about sense or evidence. If Christ confronts you, it is he and he alone on whom your answer must be based. Is Christ a liar? Is the proclamation and fellowship of his church a fraud? If you would answer yes, it cannot be because you can't touch God. You need to reject the actual message as it presents itself to you, not a caricature of it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

International Hot Tub: Round 1

(For an introduction to the intent and explanation of the name of this series, please see the introduction).

EDIT: Though this is presented as a two party debate on one level, comments and responses are still fully welcomed to all posts in the comments section as a way to help extend the debate and bring other voices into it.

Guest Post by Andy Snyder:

Like Adam said in the intro, we are starting from the beginning here. I’ve moved on since we’ve started this discussion and would not call myself an atheist, agnostic, theist, or a Christian; confused is the best word to describe me these days. At any rate, I hope this discussion can bring more clarity to me and anyone else who reads it. For now I will play devil’s advocate and put forward the argument I originally brought to Adam a year and a half ago. That said; let’s begin with my basic complaint.

Here is my foundational argument: the existence of God is suspect because I don’t have experience of God; I have not seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled the thing called God. Given that the senses are the tools I posses to bring reality to my mind, and that none of these senses have brought me unequivocal information of the reality of God, the existence of God is doubtful. Simply put, God is not real because I cannot sense God as I sense the rest of reality. This is the same line of reasoning I would put to the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the tooth fairy; I don’t experience them, therefore they are not real. Nonetheless, three arguments are often put forward for peoples’ tangible experience of God: supernatural provision, natural revelation, and direct revelation. Let’s deal with each in turn.

We’ve all heard accounts of God’s supernatural provision, stories of synchronicity and the miraculous. If you’ve attended an Evangelical Church for any length of time you’ve heard these sorts of tales (money provided at the right time, an illness cured, etc.) all of which are understood as divine provision. These claims seem to be nothing more than a theological mode of interpreting reality rather than divine experience. I believe this because the same people who attribute the good in life to God have a similar theological understanding when bad things happen. When someone dies it was God’s time to take them, or when a family loses their home God is opening new doors for them. What’s more likely, that a supernatural being arbitrarily blesses some and denies others, or that good and bad things happen to everyone and those that assume God’s existence have a theological understanding for both situations? The occurrences of so-called supernatural provision are nothing more than attributing the good that happens in life to God, not tangible experiences of God.

Another argument put forward as experience of the divine is natural revelation: the encounter of the divine through the natural world. Sam, a surfer friend of mine, told me he experiences God when he is out on the ocean among the waves, taking in the seemingly infinite horizon, and in general being in awe at the size and beauty of nature. We’ve all had similar experiences. Whether we were taking in the immensity of the Grand Canyon or staring open mouthed at the uncountable stars in the night sky, we’ve all been made to feel small and been humbled by the immensity of the natural world. I argue the appropriation of this bigness to God finds its cause in the human inclination to categorize and give meaning to the world around us; what I mean is our species doesn’t deal well with ambiguity and has a natural tendency to give fanciful explanations when truth is not self-evident. For example the old Norsemen needed an explanation of this awe inspiring thunderous sound that came from the sky, so they told each other it was the god Thor smashing his hammer in the heavens. We now know that the exchange of electrons between the atmosphere and the earth happens in the event of a lighting strike, which sends pressure through the air making thunder; the explanation of a seemingly incomprehensible event has been given language through science and thus we discarded the theological explanation. Likewise the Jews gave us a story of the origin of humanity in the first chapters of Genesis where Yahweh created the heavens and the earth, fashioned mankind from dirt, and breathed into them life. We now know that Yahweh had nothing to do with our origins, the world exploded into existence through the big bang, and we evolved slowly and painfully over millions of years. As science continues to give us language and empirical truth about reality, fewer and fewer humans will have a need to attribute the awe-inspiring complexity of the world to God. Theological explanations are reflexive and traditional, meaning it’s what we’ve always said; as science more completely permeates our culture with its explanations, we will eventually abandon the theological explanations all together. Simply put, natural revelation is not evidence of God, but rather evidence of the great lengths humans will go to make sense of a complex world.

The final category of divine experience is direct revelation: this is the category where people claim to have directly seen, smelled, tasted, heard, and/or touched God. We can subdivide this into two smaller categories: direct revelation of the bible and direct revelation of today. In the bible we read of a God who from time to time would reveal himself to humanity in extremely tangible ways: as a the pillar of fire in the desert, as blinding glory revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai, as risen from the grave bearing mortal wounds, as tongues of fire descending on the early church, etc. The only point to make here is the most obvious: God doesn’t do this sort of thing anymore. How many people reading this post have seen Yahweh, the risen Christ, or had tongues of fire descend on them? I think it’s very telling that Pentecostals (the denomination that claims to receive direct revelation from the Holy Spirit in the form of prophecy and divine utterance) are generally treated as a crazy sect by the rest of Christianity. Why? Because, unlike the Pentecostals, most followers of God don’t believe in the God they read about in the bible; they believe in a mitigated God, or “God light”. “God light” behaves much differently than the God of the bible: God of the bible parted the Red Sea, “God light” gives fuzzy warm feelings when the lighting and music are right; God of the bible sent fire from heaven burning water soaked bulls proving he was the one true god, “God light” helps us make decisions in a way that is hardly distinguishable from our own autonomy, morality, and common sense. The point is Christians’ expectation of the reality of God has lessened considerably from the God expressed in the bible because they know he is not real in the way they read in scripture. This is a step in the right direction; I’m simply taking it a bit further and saying he never manifested himself in any way whatsoever, because he was never real in the first place.

On the issue of direct revelation of today, it’s fairly commonplace to hear the phrases, “I think the God is telling me…” “The Holy Spirit is teaching me…” in Evangelical circles. On the surface this can sound like God is whispering in his followers’ ears. From my own experience, when I pressed people making this claim to explain what they meant (including a couple prominent pastors of a local churches) all they really mean is they are following a gut-feeling, or an intuition. Like I said before this so-called “leading of the Holy Spirit” seemed hardly discernible from what these people knew to be right anyways. On the issue of those who have claimed to have seen, smelled, tasted, touched, and/or felt God through some theophanic encounter: most of them are locked up in padded rooms or are the lead pastors of Pentecostal congregations. That is all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Introducing International Hot Tub!

My friend Andy Snyder and I are starting a new series here on Draw Nigh in which he and I will debate the existence of God. The title I have (unilaterally) chosen for this series is International Hot Tub. Allow me to explain:

Andy and I have been friends for about 12 years, since I joined a punk band he helped start called Craig's Brother. Since then, he and I have been in two other bands together, Too Bad Eugene, and Thrush. Thrush practiced at my parents' house and after practice we would often hang out in my parents' hot tub (in a totally platonic and hetero way). As Andy and our drummer Kyle started questioning the Christianity of their upbringing, and actually belief in God in general, this topic began to be a dominating theme of our hot tub conversations. These hot tub sessions ended up outlasting the band. But now, alas, I have moved to Scotland to pursue my possibly deluded understanding of God and the hot tub has gone cold...

This series is intended to internationalize and digitalize the hot tub. We want to open our discussion up to others to participate so we will basically start the debate over, which is pretty much what we did every time we got in the hot tub. Please join in with comments if you resonate with either position, if you want to further an argument, or if you think both of us are missing something.

Andy will go first sometime in the next day or so and then I'll post a response in the following couple of days, and then we'll proceed back and forth this way until we feel like stopping. Though both of us have a background in biblical and theological studies, we're aiming to keep this readable and understandable for anyone no matter what their background. Neither of us intend to make our entire case all at once; hopefully we'll build through the ongoing discussion to our full arguments over time. The reason for this is that I think it would put a lot of people off to read a comprehensive argument from either one of us all at once, so we'll try to make it like a live debate, keeping our opening statements and responses to reasonable lengths. Maybe we can get some of the other guys in the band to chime in once the conversation gets going. I can just picture us all in our underwear, I mean bathing suits, drinking Pacificos and getting philosophical. Ah, memories.

So get ready for some lively discussion. Round 1 coming soon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Symphony of Science

If you haven't seen this, be prepared to be swept away into the cosmos. The guy that made it has a website here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Holding Scripture Together

My Christian college and seminary experiences revealed to me an alarming tendency in academic biblical studies to split the Bible apart. The use of the "analogy of Scripture", or the practice of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, holding a clear passage up to help shed light on an obscure one, is falling into more and more ill regard by professional biblical scholars, particularly when applied across authors. I grant that it is good interpretive practice to allow each author of Scripture, and indeed each individual book, to express its own voice and to be interpreted according to its own internal semantic activity without having outside theological notions foisted on it before it is done speaking. I learned this the hard way in my first semester as a biblical studies major in college when I cited a passage in the Gospel of John in an exegesis paper on a passage in Acts. I've never seen red ink scream so loudly. But in seminary in particular I noticed the growing popularity of resisting all attempts to synthesize or harmonize not just historical accounts (like having Jesus cleanse the temple twice because of the chronological discrepancies between the synoptic gospels and John, which I agree should be rejected) but even theological or ethical contradictions. It appears to be fashionable to speak of "New Testament theologies" and to even celebrate the apparent "pluralism" found in the New Testament communities.

For example, the tension the church has long wrestled with between Paul's emphasis on grace and James' emphasis on works, one I had long before learned to understand in terms of different rhetorical situations, Paul addressing Christian identity (Romans and Galatians) and James addressing Christian ethics, were dealt with in one of my seminary classes as an actual contradiction that neither could nor should be harmonized. When asked the obvious question, "so which one is right?", the professor just shrugged his shoulders and said something like "we need to adjust our understanding of Scripture to make room for contradictory positions."

This is wrong, and not for the reasons a fundamentalist might claim like "the Bible cannot have contradictions." Its wrong because the professor thought he had come to an appropriate end of the conversation with this comment, like his task was merely to lay bare what each biblical author thought was true and then show, with profound post-modern hipness, how they didn't agree about what was true. It is wrong because the real task of biblical interpretation, though it certainly involves appreciating tensions in the biblical text, is to go beyond them, coming to understand what each biblical author is telling us about God and then to move on to a direct understanding of that reality within God, a movement we are enabled to make through the Self-revelation of God in Christ and the regeneration of the Spirit. Since there is only one God, we cannot be satisfied with the conclusion that the biblical authors disagree - we must penetrate into the cohesion of the biblical testimony to be found within the singular objective reality of God Himself.

T. F. Torrance writes,
A great deal has been made in modern biblical scholarship of what is called the 'pluralism' manifest in the New Testament writings, and that is understandable once they are subjected to critical analysis apart from the basic framework of the New Testament in which they are set. But a very different picture emerges when we attend to the actual scope within which they have arisen and taken shape. Then for all their rich diversity they are found to have a deep underlying unity in Jesus Christ the incarnate and risen Lord, who is the dynamic center and the objective focus of their creative integration. But that calls for a way of interpretation in which the images or patterns at the linguistic and theological levels are stereoscopically coordinated in our viewing, for it is through the scope of their conjoint reference that real meaning and coherence come to light (Divine Meaning, 106).
Torrance offers exactly this kind of interpretive approach in his brilliant book, Divine Meaning. In it he speaks of coordinating the semantic function of biblical statements with their syntactic function (by which he means the intertextual organization and focus across the whole canon, pointing to the sovereign organization of the revelatory events in the whole history of Israel and Christ) so that a common exegetical framework emerges, which then becomes the controlling center of biblical interpretation - this framework he rightly takes to be the incarnation, life (teachings and deeds), death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ (113-118).

It is precisely this kind of exegetical framework (disparagingly spoken of as "creedal", which sounds like a compliment to me) which is enthusiastically rejected by so many biblical scholars, even those employed by educational institutions with an evangelical mission. It is rejected because it is perceived to be forcing the Bible into an agreement based on external theological decisions made by later church councils. It is rejected so that "the Bible can speak for itself." But the Bible can only speak for itself if it is listened to, which is exactly how those creedal frameworks emerged (particularly the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, to Torrance's mind and my own). Interpreting the Bible according to the analogy of Scripture and regula fidei (the rule of faith, i.e. the early catholic creeds) is not forcing the Bible to agree but discerning its objective internal agreement. Rejecting this will inevitably lead to focusing on peripheral and even exegetically forced disagreements. In this case the bible cannot be authoritative for Christian thinking. How could it? How can one submit his/her mind to the authority of contradictory thinking? One is then left wondering why these biblical scholars who have freed themselves from creedal thinking are given jobs in evangelical education institutions. How are they helping the church by teaching fractured interpretation techniques of a book that cannot wield any authority?