What to Do With an Errant John the Baptist?

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  • Thomas', bugger.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    Did God say? Did Jesus say?

    Many volumes have been written examining those questions by reference to scriptures which represent God saying something and Jesus saying something. The fundamentalist position doesn't change. "God said it (or Jesus said it). I believe it. That's it."

    Various mainstream approaches are a lot more nuanced than that. So far as Jesus is concerned, I remain impressed by James Dunn's classic analysis "Jesus Remembered" which is analytical approach to recovering words which Jesus may actually have uttered by looking at variations in the Synoptics. The book, which is massive, reveals the underlying naivety of the classic fundamentalist view.

    Personally I approach these questions with an open mind. And viewed in isolation it just seems silly to say about any scripture "this is authoritative" without asking the question "well what do you make of that, which seems to be saying something quite different". I'd rather we admitted that we wrestle with these issues, because scripture is a lot less perspicuous than has often been claimed. And even when it is perspicuous, we still need to question contemporary relevance.

  • Yes, it is worth wrestling with scripture concerning all our questions. Because there is an infinite depth within them which repays investigation. And it is helpful to analyse them from different perspectives because that can throw a new light on them too. And of course there is a progressive revelation across time. And an evolving hermeneutic to interrelate faith and society.

    I don't think God evolves so much as our experience of Him does. Even in the gospel accounts there is a progression from Mark's narrative of the Messiah Jesus, the Son of God (Mark 1: 1) to John's hymn to the divine Logos through whom Creation was made (John 1: 1-3). Yet they are only a few decades apart.
  • God is a concept that evolves for each of us and none of us experiences Him except ineffably.
  • God is ineffable, but we experience Him in many ways. As we are material that is part of our experience and the reason for the incarnation: 'I am with you always' (Matt 28: 20). And surely our understanding of God is intended to evolve throughout our lives. Richard Rohr has an interesting model about the spirituality of the two halves of life (Falling Upwards).
  • I don't experience Him as He is at all. I experience stories of Him. Just like everyone else I experience.
  • You couldn't experience God in His full reality as He explained to Moses. He is pure Spirit and we are not. Even theophanies are inexpressible which is why the Bible has to make use of figurative language, symbol and metaphor. A story has great power and meaning if we make it our story too. It makes us aware that there is also a spiritual dimension to life.
  • No explanation is necessary.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    You couldn't experience God in His full reality as He explained to Moses. He is pure Spirit and we are not. Even theophanies are inexpressible which is why the Bible has to make use of figurative language, symbol and metaphor. A story has great power and meaning if we make it our story too. It makes us aware that there is also a spiritual dimension to life.

    I agree.
    Martin54 wrote: »
    No explanation is necessary.

    Alas, for many of us Humming Beans, motes on a mote on a mote..., some form of explanation is necessary. That's where the stories, symbols, etc. come in.

  • Including stories of experience which has not occurred. I love stories. Mine of God is the best I can come up with with a little help from my friends.
  • I love stories, too! Especially mysteries, thrillers, and off-beat stuff...

    The Bible is sometimes rather boring in comparison, IMHO...
  • I have several series on the go. Neal Stephenson's The System of the World, China Miéville's Bas-Lag, Adrian Goldsworthy's Napoleonic Wars, Allan Massie's ...in Bordeaux, Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö's Martin Beck and a one-off non-fiction 137: Jung, Pauli, and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession by Arthur I. Miller. Only that is concurrent with one of the series of series at a time.

    The Bible is what is.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Gosh!

    I'm impressed - especially as I don't think I've heard of any of those... :flushed:

    Do any of them have lots of Thud, and Blunder, like the Bible?
    :scream:
  • Oh aye! And Miéville single-handedly invented the genre of weird fiction.
  • O no - I disagree.

    What about H P Lovecraft (1890-1937), and his weird fiction? Though I don't doubt there may be even weirder (or more errant) writers...
  • Stephen King's appalling (not in the critical sense) Revival is an homage to Lovecraft.
  • Now, I didn't know that. I shall have to seek out the said (hopefully) eldritch book!
  • @BroJames
    BroJames wrote: »
    And yet one of the Hosts has pointed out that jokiness and banter do not contribute to a serious discussion, especially with regard to a sober consideration of scriptural here texts, and especially here in Purgatory, intended for serious discussion.

    Host hat on
    Since what I said is being referred to, let me quote my actual words which were rather different from what is being said
    remember that a purely text based medium is not a good forum for reliably communicating jokiness and banter
    The point being that nuances of irony and humour can easily be lost or missed.

    Anyone who considers posters are in breach of a hostly ruling should remember that the hosts continually monitor all the active threads, and that if they consider hostly action is required they can PM a host. Shipmates should not attempt junior hosting themselves.
    Host hat off
    BroJames Purgatory Host


    How do I go about PM-ing you? How is that done?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Click on my profile picture to get to my profile and you’ll find an envelope icon labelled ‘Message’.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Or if you go to your Inbox and click New Message, when you start to type a name in the address field it brings up a list of names starting with those letters, and you can send a message from there.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited September 2019
    admin mode/

    @James Boswell II bear in mind that the Ten Commandments apply to your messages sent via this board, to, and the warning you've been given applies to them, also.

    /admin mode
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Rublev wrote: »
    I don't think doctrines can capture divine truth nearly so well. I think the problem is that they do not offer any scope for mystery, symbol or metaphor.
    I think doctrines shouldn't be thought of as roadmaps but as guardrails.

    Amen, brother! What a unique way of thinking about this.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Doctrines developed as a defence of the orthodox Christian faith against heresies. But they can become too deterministic. You can recite a Creed without thinking about it. Jesus didn't formulate a Creed. He gave us the Golden Rule instead. He taught in parables because He wanted people to think about their faith. He gave us the Lord's Prayer and asked us to remember Him in Holy Communion. But He didn't define how Christians should worship other than in spirit and in truth.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Doctrines developed as a defence of the orthodox Christian faith against heresies. But they can become too deterministic. You can recite a Creed without thinking about it. Jesus didn't formulate a Creed. He gave us the Golden Rule instead. He taught in parables because He wanted people to think about their faith. He gave us the Lord's Prayer and asked us to remember Him in Holy Communion. But He didn't define how Christians should worship other than in spirit and in truth.

    The creeds don't define worship. They don't even describe worship.
  • The main point of the Nicene Creed was to define the mystery of the Trinity God in the midst of the theological debate of C4AD. A guardrail, as you say. Personally I would find it more meaningful to say 'Jesus Christ is Lord' and reflect on it for 5 minutes. When the repentant thief recognised Jesus and declared his faith in Him, that was enough. Jesus doesn't teach him a doctrine (Luke 23: 39-43).
  • AIUI, 'Jesus [Christ] is Lord' was the earliest 'creed', (or one of them), so yes.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    The main point of the Nicene Creed was to define the mystery of the Trinity God in the midst of the theological debate of C4AD. A guardrail, as you say. Personally I would find it more meaningful to say 'Jesus Christ is Lord' and reflect on it for 5 minutes. When the repentant thief recognised Jesus and declared his faith in Him, that was enough. Jesus doesn't teach him a doctrine (Luke 23: 39-43).

    Apples and kumquats. He had very little time with the thief. He had much longer with his apostles, and taught them far more, including doctrine.

    He had only 3 years with them. He had even longer with most of us.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Jesus told Martha that there is only one thing needful (Luke 10: 42). And that's not doctrine. But to sit at His feet and listen like Mary the model disciple. We see the confirmation of this with the Samaritan woman, Blind Bartimeus and the Gadarene demoniac (who also sat at the feet of Jesus in his right mind). They only had a single life-changing encounter with Jesus. But it only takes one moment of authentic God-experience to transform your life forever.
  • Listen to... not doctrine?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    If our Lord had expounded doctrine then the NT would include it. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God. He taught with invitational and challenging parables.

    Jesus IS the doctrine. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the living hermeneutic. Jesus is the meal at Holy Communion. Jesus is the church. He is the one thing needful.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    It does.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    I must be learning gnomic. Christian doctrine is based on a retrospective understanding of the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In His life He proclaimed the good news of salvation made present in Him. The NT authors read Jesus (and the OT) backwards through the cross. Paul starts the doctrinal ball rolling with his statement that, 'Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father' (Phil 2: 11). But the rest is commentary.
  • This, from Google, may (or may not) help:

    doctrine
    noun: doctrine; plural noun: doctrines

    a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.
    "the doctrine of predestination"

    synonyms: creed, credo, dogma, belief, set of beliefs, code of belief, conviction, teaching;


    I therefore conclude that, as Jesus did indeed teach, doctrine was taught.
    IYSWIM.

  • Of course.
  • He taught the SOM. But that was a reprioritisation of the OT Law, not a doctrine. Where is Nick Tamen? This one is right up his street.
  • Please, what is the SOM?
  • The Sermon on the Mount.
  • Of course. Thank you.

    (Son of Man? Son of Mary? Sound of Music? :wink: )
  • Rublev wrote: »
    He taught the SOM. But that was a reprioritisation of the OT Law, not a doctrine. Where is Nick Tamen? This one is right up his street.
    I’m right here, and I can say I think your assumption that “this is right up my street” shows how you don’t understand my perspective as well as you think you do. I’m actually just up the street from you when it comes to a preference for story and poetry (broadly speaking) to bare doctrinal statements, and that’s despite the fact that I teach classes on the Reformed confessions.

    And I quite like mousethief’s “guardrails, not roadmaps” analogy, though personally I might say “handrails” rather than “guardrails”—there to keep us steady, but not to be gripped too tightly.

    You seem to have confused my probing about definitions on things like total depravity—meant specifically to understand what you (who had raised the subject, as I recall) understood the term to mean so as to better understand your point—as being “hung up” on definitions and doctrine.

    Which is going to bring us full circle: What do you mean by “doctrine” when you say that Jesus’s teachings are not “doctrine”? Do you mean doctrine as opposed to praxis? Do you “doctrine” only in the sense of formalized credal statements? Because, as Bishops Finger has noted, the teachings of Jesus seem to qualify as doctrine—not in the sense of a formal formulation of a mystery like the Trinity, but certainly in the sense of understanding of, say, the character of God.

    Poetry/story and doctrine/teaching need not be mutually exclusive. The parables show that, I think.
  • I love the idea that Jesus taught the Sound of Music!

    "Let's start at the very beginning... No, that's too difficult? How about, Doh a deer?"
  • That's the very vision I myself had...

    /Sorry about the silly tangent/
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Jesus and Christian Doctrine:

    (1) The living Jesus could only speak elliptically about His divine identity and mission to avoid being stoned and executed for blasphemy. John the Baptist has noticeably the same problem in John 1: 19-28.

    (2) You need the post - Resurrection perspective of Acts onwards to be able to formulate it.

    (3) You need the post - Pentecost insight of the Holy Spirit to comprehend it.
  • Rublev wrote: »

    (1) The living Jesus could only speak elliptically about His divine identity and mission to avoid being stoned and executed for blasphemy. John the Baptist has noticeably the same problem in John 1: 19-28.

    He didn't need to speak elliptically to his disciples in private, though, did he? In public, yes.

  • And yet He doesn't share with them what He shares with the Samaritan woman.

    Openness is all.
  • How do we know what he shared with the Samaritan woman, unless it was passed on to others, either by him, or by her?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    How do we know what transpired during the Temptations? Or what Jesus prayed in Gethsemane when the apostles were asleep? There was no time to pass that onto anyone before He was arrested. Unless the Risen Christ explained it later.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Well, you haven't quite answered my question, but Our Lord could have told the disciples about the Temptations shortly after his sojourn in the desert.

    As to what he said in Gethsemane, yes, maybe he told them about that after the Resurrection.

    As is so often the case, we really don't know the answer!
  • Or else we credit it to the gospel authors themselves.
  • You mean they invented it? Or perhaps picked it up by various channels, at a later date?
  • Either could be true. St Paul said that he was taught his gospel by direct revelation from the Risen Christ. And so He regarded himself as equal in authority to the other apostles, albeit 'abnormally born' out of time.
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