Theological Novelty?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Brandon C. Jones, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    I get the vibe that many people here hold those who went before us in the tradition in contempt without even trying to understand them on their own terms in the first place. Often historical figures get used as foils to contrast one's "new insights" on Scripture and theology.

    If one's theological views are even to be taken seriously by others isn't it necessary to know the basics of theology and at least a little knowledge of the historical development of doctrine so you can actually say something accurate about the beliefs of others past or present?

    I know the mythmakers don't help things in many areas, but can't we rise above all of this?

    It's hard for me not to call this treatment of others the fruit of arrogance, but I don't know where else it would come from. Surely the perspicuity of Scripture does not divorce the individual today from the Church past or present and the communion of the saints. I'm not saying that one should drop Baptist distinctives, but this snootiness is not among them I hope. What do you think?
     
    #1 Brandon C. Jones, Feb 8, 2007
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  2. Mexdeaf

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    If you're going where I think you are with this, I'll hop on the wagon.:thumbs:

    It used to be that Christian folks could get along with one another without getting into name-calling even if they didn't completely agree how to dress, wear your hair, what music to listen to, who was elected or not and how they got elected (I ain't talking politics here you understand) or which Bible to read.

    Somewhere along the line we lost that and have gotten in the flesh. I don't see a whole lot of spiritual fruit in some of these discussions, and before you hop on my case I will humbly admit that I have contributed as much as anyone to that.:tear:

    You know some day we are all going to be in heaven together. Going to have to do some answering to the Lord when we get there if we don't take care of it down here.

    There used to be whole groups of Baptists (and even some other groups) that I looked down upon contemptuously. But the the Lord put me in places where I had to fellowship with those folks and I found out that they weren't the demons I was told (or thought) they would be. Sure enough we don't agree on every little or even some medium-sized things but we all love the Lord and want to see folks come and trust Christ as their Savior.

    Go ahead- call me a back-slider, liberal, compromiser or whatever. I know where the Bible draws the line as far as doctrine is concerned and that is where I am going to draw my lines from now on.:1_grouphug:
     
  3. Plain Old Bill

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    Amen. MexDef, The Bible is the rule of faith.Let God be true and all men liars.:godisgood:
     
  4. Pipedude

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    It's very common. To a degree, it's essentially Baptist to do that, since that's how the movement started in the Reformation era: "everybody's had it wrong until now." It's also an American tradition: "we don't care how you did it in the Old World."

    But I think you're right when you suspect arrogance. It's such a heady thing to be smarter than your parents. Some of us outgrew it, some of us didn't. Bob Dylan described it well in "My Back Pages."
     
  5. Brandon C. Jones

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    Thanks for these replies; they are helpful.

    I will say that the Reformers certainly held those who went before them with respect if you ever read their writings. The best secondary source on that is Heiko Oberman's "The Dawn of the Reformation." His older work "The Harvest of Medieval Theology" is also good. There has certainly been a shift in scholarship from the Late Medieval/Renaissance/Reformation/Early Modern period that looks at it much more holistically instead of the old myth of firm divisions between the "eras." Kristeller began this trend with his Renaissance studies in the 50s and Oberman carried this over to the Reformation. As a sidenote Oberman's biography of Luther is excellent!

    Concerning Baptists, when I read the works of Baptists like John Gill I see quite a bit of respect for the Church Fathers, medieval theologians and even contemporary non-Baptist scholars. He was a firm Baptist who appreciated the tradition.

    I particularly enjoyed the link to the foolish adolescent thinking himself to be smarter than his parents and hopefully outgroing. Thanks pipedude.

    BJ
     
  6. Pipedude

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    Just to clarify, I was saying that the Baptist movement during the Reformation was predicated on the creation of a new church with a new baptism, indicating that one's former church and former baptism were illegitimate. I wasn't suggesting that the Reformers themselves were of such a mind.
     
  7. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    [FONT=Arial, Geneva, Helvetica]Hebrewa 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.[/FONT]
     
  8. drfuss

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    I could not agree with you more. The pride/insecurity on man encourages each to think they are better than the other. We came from another denomination of many years to a Baptist church 14 years ago. People from the other denomination considered us to have stipped down in changing churches. Yep, you quessed it. The Baptists considered us to have stepped up in coming to a Baptist church. Perhaps, this tendency towards a feeling of superiority is the nature of denominations.

    Changing denominations was an interesting experience. We found both strengths and weaknesses in both denominations. We also found that each denomination had some misconceptions of what the other believed. It is easier and more self gratifying for ministers to point out what they consider the negatives about others, even if untrue, than to actually check into what the others really believe. In addition, we found that the dedication to the Lord was about the same in both denominations.

    Of course the same problem is here on BB between the Calvinists, Non-Calvinists, and others. The difference here is there is an opportunity to respond. There is no opportunity to respond publically to a misleading sermon.
     
  9. skypair

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    See, I take exceptions to these remarks...

    Are you saying "understanding them" socially -- and how they hated Jews or martyred those who disagreed?

    Are you talking about "understanding" their theology and their method and ignoring the mass of scriptural evidence that proves them wrong?

    Are you talking about ignoring their limitations -- there were, for one, few Bibles and most of them in the Latin "vulgar." One "theologian" of the era was "saved" for 2 years during which sprititually nacient period (hadn't even left Catholicism yet) he wrote his Augustinian and Greek mythology tinged theological masterpiece! Are you talking about ignoring these limitations and the limited access to scripture such a member studying to be a lawyer would have in his former RCC church.

    Just precisely what would an expositor of truth have to do to not be accused by you of disrespecting them (as you here have just disrespected said expositor)? Would you have him feed himself on faulty doctrines? No. You already do not accept educated, scriptural critique, do you? You actually want everyone to turn their backs on the facts and unite under one flawed theology. Isn't that it?

    The "gift" of prophecy (1Cor 12:10) is NOT given to smooth things over, brandon. The "gift" of the prophet is to "tell it like it is." If your ears "itch" for fantasy (which your complaint seems to indicate), you certainly don't want to hear from any prophets in response to your OP, do you?

    skypair
     
    #9 skypair, Feb 11, 2007
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  10. Brandon C. Jones

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    Skypair your post is filled with myths and contempt; yes that is the attitude I'm talking about. Where does it come from in your case? I'll tell you exactly what an "expositor" or one who fancies himself to be a prophet needs to do to dodge the charge of disrespect. Follow a sound methdology in presenting the views of others so you present what really was their view to begin with and then oppose it. Is that so hard?

    I actually want people to follow the facts, not myths. Your backhanded treatment of Calvin and his era is case in point. You know nothing about the late Medieval/Renaissance/Reformation era except that you are better than anyone from that period or any prior period except for the Apostles and their friends (I guess; is that your attitude here?). To be sure, one can go overboard and present myths of the opposite nature where certain figures are superhuman heroes; I want none of that either. The truth is in between and good historians will help you find it if you want to. My beef is that too many people act like experts on Church History without doing good research and just pass on tertiary junk about people in Church History with such arrogance that it is sickening to me.

    I don't want people to unite under one flawed theology but unite under what unites us: Christ, the early church, and the communion of the saints. Those who went before us held the same essential beliefs that we do and to hold them in contempt seems like something less than the gift of prophecy to me.

    Holding Christians in the past with contempt is unbecoming of a Christian today in my opinion. You can respect them and try to understand them on their own terms without affirming every little bit or even no bits of their theology. Believe me it's possible.
     
    #10 Brandon C. Jones, Feb 11, 2007
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  11. skypair

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    Brandon -- I figured you were "calling me out" -- along with others perhaps. What is so hard about understanding that by now we are all steeped in Calvinism through responding to the false assertions of Calvinists? We have "gone the extra mile" in researching your views. Would it be hard for you to consider ours? Here's a list of you assertions that are found wanting? Please don't take it personally as if I disrespect you, though, as seems to be the tenor of your complaint. I reserve my venom, I hope, for false testimony and false doctrines of men.

    TULIP -- every one is invented and false

    predestination -- simply saying that all life is fate (fatalism) or else God isn't sovereign.

    Words like "all," "whosoever," "elect," "personal faith," "premissive will," "foreknow," "regeneration," "general and particular calling," "common and special grace," "soul and spirit," etc. These all have "special meanings" that avoid the literal understanding of the Bible.

    This theology and the one that preceded it were "working models," brandon. But when exceptions are discovered to paradigms, they are usually reconstructed (except in the case of Islam, for instance). Face it, Christianity was immature even as late as the Reformation! There were only a few sects that saw the truth as different than both RCC and Reform Theology.

    The sad part about it is that y'all say that this or that is the "hiddem wisdom of God" whenever you don't understand. How many times have I heard a Calvinists say or write "we ought not inquire of the counsel God keeps for Himself alone?" How do they know what counsel that is unless the dismiss as "secret" everything they don't understand?? And then turn around to demand that we don't know it either! Talk about intellectual snobbery!

    "Systematic Theology" is merely Calvin's "God in a box." But they have the chutzbah to say that WE try to put God in a box is we try to explain something the goes right over their heads.

    What you are really asking is for truth to "cave" so that we don't have to face it anymore. Well, just like you won't "cave" or study our assertions, we don't cave to your groundless "truth," either.

    skypair
     
    #11 skypair, Feb 11, 2007
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  12. Brandon C. Jones

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    Wow! I guess everything is filtered through Calvinist soteriology for people on both sides of the debate. I'm speechless because my post concerns something much larger than that. Would you mind answering where this attitude comes from though since that was the main reason for the OP? I'm just trying to be charitable to this attitude and I don't want to charge one with arrogance until hearing his/her case: that's all.
     
    #12 Brandon C. Jones, Feb 11, 2007
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  13. skypair

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    First let's dispense with the false denial. You said, "Skypair your post is filled with myths and contempt; yes that is the attitude I'm talking about." That is NOT, IMO, "being charitable" nor is it "not charging one with arrogance until hearing his/her case."

    Well, it "must" be filtered through Calvinism with Calvinists. Those and the ECF are the ones that you propose some of us don't understand as I read your comments. I don't assume that you think their Catholic predecessors were any more worthy of respect, do you? Were you suggesting that the Reformers should have understood and 'respected' the Catholics systems of indulgences? or "works salvation?" You bet your booty that is going to make a difference in our "communion" with them!

    skypair
     
    #13 skypair, Feb 11, 2007
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  14. Brandon C. Jones

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    Well my apologies because you're right; it's hard for me to suspend this charge of arrogance and I'm sorry. I humbly ask for your forgiveness.

    As to the rest:

    Personally, I think the Catholic predecessors of the Reformers are worthy of much respect and I'm not as quick to condemn them because I've read them and think many of them were strong Christians (I've learned from many of them, too many to name here). I recommend reading some Heiko Oberman on the Reformers and their Catholic predecessors; you might be surprised what you see. Don't forget the Eastern tradition in all of this too. Do you really think Luther and other sixteenth century Reformers were the first to challenge indulgences, transubstantiation, etc. You'll find Catholicism to be much less monolithic prior to the Counter-Reformation if you ever bothered to research things. BTW the very name Protestant and the very word "reformation" imply a unity that once was.

    Your post is filled with myths and contempt and that's a charitable assessment IMO. What's your sources for all of your claims above because they seem faulty to me? Are your dismal opinions of Church History the fruit of your own research on the matter? What are your sources for your claims? I don't gloss the ugly things from Church History but that's no excuse to have a hermeneutic of suspicion with all who went before us that disagree with our brand of theology.

    Regarding Calvinism, well there's a lot of issues thanks to myths on both sides. Some calvinists I think would do well to revisit the primary sources coupled with the guidance of some excellent secondary sources (I constantly mention Oberman, Muller, and Steinmetz). I also am not convinced that the Reformers got Augustine right regarding his view of predestination and its relationship to foreknowledge and perseverance. I am fairly certain that some of them don't honor the tone of those in the tradition that believed in predestination and how they presented it under providence and God's wisdom; Augustine himself is far more cautious about making Christianity appear deterministic with such doctrine. I do think the Pelagian controversy caused him to overreact on some things (i.e., his view of baptism).

    Those are all things that should get sorted out but take a lot of work to do so and are outside of the scope of a thread like this. I'll give you my opinion: the moderate versions of both calvinist and arminian soteriology are so close together that the differences to me appear immaterial and are nothing to get so worked up about. I don't think we'll overcome the differences down here because such is part of paradoxes in theology where things are a little too much over my head like God's relationship with His creation. I suppose that's why I think the 30+ page threads of people talking past each other are not helpful so I usually refrain from commenting on them. I try to help disabuse what people from the tradition believed because it seems that too many people think they know Church History but show that they don't when the make such bold, but false, assertions.

    I am honestly trying to understand you Skypair so my apologies for speaking for your motives because when others do that to me it drives me crazy too. You did help me by explaining your motives. If it's to demonstrate that calvinist soteriology is incorrect, then I think you are overstating your case and throwing out the baby with the bathwater. But at least I understand your motives. :)

    Cheers,
    BJ
     
    #14 Brandon C. Jones, Feb 11, 2007
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  15. Humblesmith

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    I am finding that I tend to appreciate the older theologians. Thomas Aquinas, for example, has many great insights into the nature of God, and has a theology and philosophy that will hold up under the attacks of many who are outside the church.
    Further, the older theologians have typically been tested by time. The weaker ones will get forgotten about over time, and the stronger ones are still held to be valuable.
     
  16. Brandon C. Jones

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    You are correct Hubblesmith. I've found that after actually reading Thomas that he believes that there are distinctions in the Godhead, but for him a "real distinction" is that between two beings, so he's not a tritheist. I've also found that he believes that faith is the foundation for one to contemplate God and his five ways assume faith and they just get a sliver of the mighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph. I've also found that he believed that the fall affected man quite a bit by throwing his faculties upside down where they mislead him. Yes, he and others have withstood the test of time and people are still discussing their theology hundreds of years later.

    Thomas is a good example of theological novelty that is informed with the basics and the tradition. He said quite a bit of new things in his day but they were well grounded.

    PS-I love his anthropology and think it's the most defensible one for dualists
     
  17. GordonSlocum

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    I suppose you might have known I would jump in here to give my nickels worth. So it is and so I am.

    After reading several of the post the one word the comes to me is "pride". I see an attitude of arrogance from Calvinist supporters that tries to silence all others with "what happened to civility" trash talk. I see through that kind of Prideful arrogant belittlement trash talk. Its that kind of better than though garbage that fuels dissention not the truth and exposure and direct approach that is needed to clear away the dross taught by these so called deified dead men of the past.

    Here is where I stand on all books and authors whenever. Read them and leave them and never deify them.

    Now, if you think when you "slap me in the face" illustration here, as in the days of old that we are going to do the duel thing as if it is the proper protocol you are sick and warped to even consider such a notion. What does this illustration mean from my perspective? Glad you ask. It means that as long as the game is played by your rules and as long as you can get an audience to listen you are the one in control. Your rules don't apply in my ball field. If you can't stand on your own two feet you are going to go down to defeat. You may think you are on top and dignified and proper and so smug and cute but you are fare from it.

    You want people like me to respect Calvin. It will never happen. Calvin was a murder and a persecutor of other believers and used the government to get his way. I see nothing in that man to emulate or follow much less his false teaching.

    So why do you, who ever you are, enjoy rubbing a person like this wayward soul like John Calvin in my face. Stay with the Book.

    Guess what it is OK to have a reference, but constant, on going Calvin this and Calvin that and Whoever this and that only shows that you can not think for yourself.

    I said it somewhere earlier:

    Catholics deify the Popes
    Calvinist deify Calvin
    Christians deify Christ who is deity.

    I do love everyone.

    Calvinism leads to dead orthodoxies, and then to liberalism. Look at what happened to England, and New England. You find a Calvinist Church and follow its history and you will find a dead church that is not growing, winning the lost and making an impact in lives around the world.

    Let me tell you a story. I was a member of a Calvinist Church once for real upon a time. Prior to me becoming a member they had fired a Calvinistic preacher because of his dry bone Calvinism. They hired another Calvinist but they really did not know it all together until later on. He kept his Calvinistic views to himself. The church grew. The members started an evangelistic outreach. Please note the members were not Calvinistic at all. The church grew. I was ask to head up the Missions board and I did for around 6 years. We were strong in missions and our church grew but then the unthinkable happened. An assistant pastor was hired when the former one left to pastor a church. This person was a solid 5 pointer. Shortly after he was there the Calvinistic trash started to show itself. Family after family left. The church that was growing now is dying.

    As the story goes. The Pastor resigned under pressure and the trouble maker was fired so to speak. It took about 7 or 8 years for this local church to rebound and now is a solid outreach body of believer in the community.

    Everywhere I have been as a believer form September 20, 1970 Calvinism has been a death blow to local churches. It is a fatalistic doctrine and kills the missionary zeal and binds the members up in elitism‘, and self gratification of a so called self righteousness that I liken to the Pharisees of the NT.

    If you are a God fearing real born again believe and you have been trapped into this crazy off beat Calvinist stuff I feel sorry for you. I hope you will forsake this false doctrine and return to the truth.

    By the way it is OK to read and study and search and consider all angles, beliefs, etc. However, is it possible they you Calvinist can address the Scripture and stand on your own two feet? You can't win an audience by your endless reference to your dead false teacher John Calvin. What do you say for yourself. Can you stand on your own two feet and explain the Scripture as you understand it? Can you do your own work? I don't think most Calvinist can. I have not see much of it on forums were most Calvinist hang out. Its one of the few places they can go to get an audience. Better here than in churches running of good people off and killing the love of Jesus in Churches to a dead debate over a false teacher.
     
    #17 GordonSlocum, Feb 13, 2007
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  18. Brandon C. Jones

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    Fair enough, but I'll ask you Gordon what I asked Skypair. Where does this attitude come from? I'd also ask for your sources but my guess is your answer is the same as his...nothing. Are you like him and feel the need to filter everything through calvinist soteriology and its correctness or incorrectness?

    I've never deified any writer, but I don't feel the need to smear writers who write things that I disagree with. But then again since I can't think for myself maybe that's a virtue I haven't learned yet :)
     
    #18 Brandon C. Jones, Feb 13, 2007
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