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Defending Civilization, 2: Linking gospel-warrant and the naturally evident law of our morally governed nature


On the table is a warrant regarding the core gospel message, e.g. vid:

. . . which is foundational to the civilisation which has come down to us. In effect, the Christian synthesis of the heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome framed what became Christendom and has come down to us today, now usually styled Western Civilisation. The just linked also discusses through Schaeffer’s framework,

Extending (and correcting) Schaeffer’s vision of the course of western thought, worldviews and culture, C1 – 21

. . . how for hundreds of years, there has been a growing push in thought, culture and general society to split apart “grace and nature” or reason and revelation,

Dichotomising natrure and grace leads to disjointedness in western man’s worldview

. . . leading to a breakdown of the unifying core in both worldviews and cultural agendas. This reflects the classic problem of the one and the many.

In our time, there has been a longstanding push of dechristianisation and radical secularisation, culminating in a situation where, if one lists Christians by denom, “none” now comes out at the top of the list, alongside Catholicism and Evangelicalism. As a previous OP noted:

“‘Religious nones’ as they are called by researchers, are a diverse group made up of atheists, agnostics, the spiritual, and those who are no specific organized religion in particular. A rejection of organized religion is the common thread they share,” CNN reports.

“It is the first time we have seen this. The same questions have been asked for 44 years,” political scientist and Baptist pastor Ryan Burge told CNN. Timothy Meads, “ICYMI: ‘No Religion’ Now As Popular As Catholicism, Evangelicalism” at Townhall

Of course, this is a grab-bag category and a bit of an anomaly as a result. However, it does surface serious questions on how we form our worldviews and how we respond to readily accessible — but increasingly marginalised and often disdained — evidence that the gospel core of the Christian faith (thus the integral gospel ethics of turning from a sinful lifestyle through repentance) is actually strongly warranted. In turn, this is driven by the consideration that our thought-life is under moral government i/l/o duties to truth, right reason (thus warrant), prudence, justice etc.

So, in part, the study tracks the degree to which many have been led to doubt or dismiss that warrant, in the teeth of its actual strength.

Which, is not a healthy sign for the state of our civilisation (not to mention, our souls).

That’s why the already linked has in it a provocative remark, i/l/o the significance of serious explanatory alternatives given the twelve minimal facts about Jesus of Nazareth:

This, then, is the guilty secret at the heart of today’s hyperskepticism toward, dismissal of, apostasy from and hostility against the historic Christian faith: the evidence that warrants that faith is not only credible but strong. (I add: especially, once blatant question-begging through anti-supernaturalistic prejudice is off the table . . .

We need to soberly deal with this matter. Through, prophetically insightful intellectual and cultural leadership:

It is time for a fresh conversation, including on how the logic of being points to a necessary being world root, and how our existence as morally governed creatures leads to the need for a root of reality capable of grounding ought. Where, there is precisely one serious candidate . . . if you think not, kindly provide an alternative: ________ and warrant on comparative difficulties: ________. (Much harder to do than to dismiss rhetorically or studiously ignore.)

Namely, the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, worthy of our loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our manifest nature. This last, pointing to the significance of the natural moral law that is attested by functional consciences.

In this context, we can see the significance of Cicero’s observation in de Legibus, c. 50 BC:

—Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

It is time for a fresh, sober-minded conversation.

So, we may now freely set out to frame how that natural moral law may be drawn out, by using a first principles approach, for instance:

1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

(This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)

4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)

7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

(Thus, we see here our sense of justice for the weak, inarticulate and defenseless; starkly manifest in the difference between luring and catching a fish to become lunch and luring and despoiling then destroying a child. Such a child has not the wit nor words to plead his case, nor the strength to defeat his attacker nor yet the speed to outrun him. Where, that some take pity on the fish and will go out of their way to eat only vegetables is itself further eloquent testimony on the point. [Notice, there is no “people for the ethical treatment of fruit, root starches, grains and vegetables” movement.]

10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like .”) Thus also,

11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

(NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.

* F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia. (I add: as the God of ethical theism is a serious candidate necessary being, if he is possible he exists in at least one world and so also in all possible worlds as framework for a world to be. Those who infer or assert that God does not exist take up the burden to show that God is impossible of being; one that we may confidently hold, they cannot carry out successfully.)

So, we can see how a stable community can be built, framed on responsible, reasonable principles, many of them manifestations of the sort of natural law that Cicero and many others have discussed. In this framework, responsible government may then extend through civil law framed on justice and good community order. END

I never said, or implied, you were an idiot, kf, nor do I consider the ideas in your philosophy arbitrary. If you would like us to not personalise and polarize, I'd suggest you try to be accurate in characterizing what other people say and believe. hazel
H, false. The fact is, that arguments and rationality depend crucially on our being under moral government through duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc; on pain of collapse into nihilistic chaos. And indeed, your arguments also appeal to such, though in a fallacious pattern, Leff's grand sez who -- personalise, polarise, dismiss by implication. Your problem is that you don't like necessary, self-evident truths that we recognise rather than make up, individually or collectively. Such relativism and/or subjectivism, fail. So, it's not oh that IDiot KF is imposing his arbitrary notions and forcing us into his box (see the attack the man rather than address the issue fallacy in your comment?) but rather that certain things are self-evident. Here, moral government of our rational life, thus also the need for bridging the IS-OUGHT gap at the only place that can be done: world-root. We face a necessary being source of the worlds, which needs to be inherently good. Unpalatable to many, but a serious challenge nonetheless. And one that is pivotal to returning our civilisation to moral sanity, so that it can turn back from the cliff edge before it crumbles underfoot. KF kairosfocus
Hi BB. Have you quit beating your wife? :-) Kf’s questions are like that. He provides no room for anything but his own understanding of the words and phrases he uses, so there is no room for distinctions. In Lakoff’s terms, he supplies the one and only one framework for the discussion, and insists that his framework is true, so no matter what you say, if you don’t agree with him you are still beating your wife. So good luck! hazel
BB, I am pretty sure you understand the self-referential incoherence I pointed out. But, let's cut to the chase scene: do you or do you not acknowledge that we have known duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to justice? Why, or why not. KF PS: I point out, that the very fact of your attempt to persuade us by argument implies that you depend on such known duties on our part. So, is that knowledge of duty, of moral government, real or delusional? kairosfocus
Good point, fellow traveller! :-) People of our ilk need to stick together even if we disagree. :-) hazel
Hazel@28, for whatever reason, KF equates all who disagree with him as “fellow travellers” , or of “your ilk”. Even if you and I disagree on some fundamental things, which we have, he perceives us as one and the same. The enemy. Brother Brian
I agree, but what I was referring directly to was why he referred me to what he wrote you about conditioning. hazel
What in the world are you talking about???
I’m sure that it makes perfect sense to KF. And I honestly believe that it does. But it requires so many undemonstrated presumptions for his claims to be true that they approach the absurd. I just wish that he would attempt to satisfactorily address any one of these necessary presumptions rather than try to draw grandiose conclusions from them. Things like “necessary being”, “under moral governance”, “duty to truth”, the necessary grounding of OUGHT, self evident truths, and many more. Brother Brian
BB, if you imply conditioning as driving sense of duty, you imply straightaway that there is grand, pervasive delusion, undermining mindedness.
I have a list of things (education, feedback) which require a rational mind to interpret. Yet you jump straight to conditioning. But even if all we had was conditioning, that wouldn’t make it delusional. It would just make it functional. If we were raised to believe that gravity can’t affect us, I doubt very much whether that conditioning would survive a generation or two.
Secondly as a practical matter it is reflexive in a second sense: you just confessed to being a manipulator who acts in disregard to truth, right reason, prudence and justice etc. That is, you just told us your credibility is zero.
I guess that is one way to win an argument. Put words in someone else’s mouth and claim victory. Let’s put this to the test. Do you honestly believe that an entire society that lies and cheats can survive for hundreds of generations? So, if we are “conditioned” (using your words) to tell the truth and not lie, wouldn’t that that be to our benefit? And the benefit of society? And wouldn’t it benefit our children to “condition” them to the same things that helped us thrive in society? Brother Brian
What in the world are you talking about??? hazel
H, please consider the just above. KF kairosfocus
BB, if you imply conditioning as driving sense of duty, you imply straightaway that there is grand, pervasive delusion, undermining mindedness. Which is self-referential and incoherent thus self-falsifying. Secondly as a practical matter it is reflexive in a second sense: you just confessed to being a manipulator who acts in disregard to truth, right reason, prudence and justice etc. That is, you just told us your credibility is zero. I suggest, you reconsider. KF kairosfocus
H, we are morally governed creatures under known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc.
Yes, education, indoctrination, repetition and feedback (positive and negative) are very adept at instilling in is rules that we follow, that we feel very uncomfortable (guilty) when we don’t follow them, and that we expect others should follow as well. Someone with serious OCD have the same “symptoms”. Brother Brian
H, we are morally governed creatures under known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc. That is itself full of worldview level import, regarding the credible root of reality -- which happens to be relevant to the focus of this OP. It also directly applies to our challenge to respond to evidence, again relevant to the focus of the OP. KF kairosfocus
kf, the things that the think you have presented key evidence for are not always either what I (or others) think are the most interesting aspects of the topic and/or we disagree with the strength of the evidence that you consider key. What you think is a side track others think is an appropriate track, one reason being that specifics are often more illuminating than generalities. I'll also note that your OP's are often so extensive and perhaps a bit convoluted that I (and I imagine others) don't actually read them in their entirety, but rather respond to a sentence or subtopic that jumps out at us as interesting. hazel
BB, I will simply comment to you that you have led a campaign of side tracking distraction. That is enough. KF kairosfocus
H, what you have complained against indicates directly that you are not interacting with key evidence. KF kairosfocus
If you don’t want actual discussion with people who disagree with you, just post your stuff and close the comments immediately.
Which will be the death of this blog. Just look at the most popular posts of the last 30 days. What do they have in common? Brother Brian
kf, I don't "refuse to interact with material evidence." I haven't been posting because the repetition has gotten tiresome, and that's my choice. And in a discussion forum, almost always the thread finds a focus and diverges from what is perhaps the intended main topic. That's what happens when people discuss things: they get side-tracked and go off on tangents, based on their interests. If you don't want actual discussion with people who disagree with you, just post your stuff and close the comments immediately. Those of us (and we are few) that engage your posts might be happy to just go away, hazel
H, I will note your refusal to interact with material evidence does not change its substantial relevance. The derailing by tangents is also a relevant consideration. If such proceeds further, cross thread, due action will be taken. KF PS: The structure of worldviews in general and of moral government in particular points to a finitely remote root of reality. The moral part implies that root is adequate to ground morality, which points to an inherently good being. Likewise, on evidence, the institutionally dominant ideology of our day, evolutionary materialistic scientism, is self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying, as well as begging some fairly big questions. It is also inherently amoral, thus anti-civilisational. Which are all fairly significant results. PPS: This thread demonstrates already that insistence on side tracking can and does occur regardless of topic. kairosfocus
Comments are thankfully closed because some people derail the thread with topics they love to bring up, but nobody else cares about Eugen
And he just posted on a quantum gravity video and closed comments. Why? There is no way forbidden topics could pop up there, I wouldn't think. But I'll mention here (and probably have before) that I just read Carlo Rovelli's book Reality Is Not What It Seems, which is about quantum loop gravity theory. I wonder what "food for thought" kf thinks is in the hour long video. Too bad we can't ask him! :-) hazel
Further to Hazel@11, I would argue that my comments, and yours and DaveS’ spoke directly to the OP that KF closed comments on. Essentially the OP was about the inappropriate use by the court to impose laws that violate the constitution and what he perceives as “natural law”. KF was the one who raised issues such as extending rights to LGBQ people and allowing same sex marriage to try to make his point.. He insists that he has provided conclusive rationale as to why this was the case and the fundamental reasons why these should not be granted, and blames others when his arguments fail. I find that most of KF’s start from premises that have not been demonstrated conclusively (ie, under the governance of objective morality, the grounding of OUGGT, a necessary being, etc.). And it is possible that he is correct in all of this and, as such, his other arguments make rational sense. But until his premises can be demonstrated to be true, the rest is just speculation. Brother Brian
kf, regarding your closing comments on the law thread: if you didn't repetitively respond with the same stuff every time someone responded, I think the discussions would die sooner. You keep things going because it just takes a small comment to get another 1000 words out of you. Learn to let things go. My 2 cents. Another point. Very few people are interested in these broad topics that are important to you: evolutionally materialistic scientism (or whatever the recurring phrase you use is), the downfall of civilization, the root of reality, etc. have been brought up ad infinitum. Most people are interested in specific issues as they occur in their everyday lives, and your above-mentioned recurring topics don't really qualify. Another 2 cents. hazel
F/N" King Alfred the Great of the West Saxons (and it seems de facto King of England as victor over the Danes as last king standing), laying out foundations of the Common Law system that set the frame for law of the English-speaking peoples, in his Book of Dooms, c 890 AD:
Dooms. The Lord was speaking these words to Moyse [= Moses], and thus quoth; I am the Lord thine God. I led thee out of the Egyptians’ lands, and of their bondage 1. Love thou not other strange gods ever me. 2. Call not thou mine name in idleness, for that thou art not guiltless with me, if thou in idleness callest mine name. 3. Mind that thou hallow the rest-day. Work you six days, and on the seventh rest you. For that in six days Christ wrought heavens and earth, seas, and all shapen things that in them are, and rested him on the seventh day: and for that the Lord hallowed it. 4. Honour thine father and thine mother that the Lord gave thee : that thou be the longer living on earth. 5. Slay thou not. 6?. Commit thou not adultery. 7. Steal thou not . 8. Say thou not leasing witness. 9. Wish not thou thy neighbour’s goods with untight. 10. Work thou not to thyself golden gods or silvern. [–> scan not guaranteed 100%] 11. These are the dooms that thou shalt set them . . . . 49. These are dooms that the Almighty God himself was speaking to Moses, and bade him to hold, and, since the Lord’s onebegotten son, our God, that is, healing Christ, on middle earth came [–> “In the year of our Lord . . .” and now you know where “middle earth” comes from], he quoth that he came not these biddings to break nor to forbid, but with all good to eke them, and mild-heartedness and lowly-mindedness to learn [ –> teach, Alfred here alludes to and enfolds in the foundations, the Sermon on the Mount of Matt 5 – 7]. Then after his throes [sufferings], ere that his apostles were gone through all the earth to learn [teach], and then yet that they were together, many heathen nations they turned to God. While they all together were, they send erranddoers to Antioch and to Syria, Christ’s law to learn [teach]. When they understood that it speeded them not, then sent they an errand-writing to them. This is then that errand-writing that the apostles sent to Antioch, and to Syria, and to Cilicia, that are now from heathen nations turned to Christ. The apostles and the elder brethren wish you health. And we make known to you, that we have heard that some of our fellows with our words to you have come, and bade you a heavier wise [way or law] to hold, than we bade them, and have too much misled you with manifold biddings, and your souls more perverted than they have righted. Then we assembled us about that, and to us all it seemed good, that we should send Paul and Barnabas, men that will their souls sell [give] for the Lord’s name. With them we sent Judas and Silas, that they to you the ilk [same] may say. To the Holy Ghost it was thought and to us, that we none burden on you should not set, over that to you was needful to hold, that is then, that ye forbear that ye devil-gilds [idols] worship, and taste blood and things strangled, and from fornication, and that ye will that other men do not to you, do ye not that to other men. [–> Yes, the Golden Rule of Moshe, of Yeshva and of Paulo, Apostolo Mart, is right there too.] From this one doom a man may think that he should doom [judge] every one rightly: he need keep no other doom-book. Let him thmk [take care] that he doom to no man that he would not that he doom to him, if he sought doom over him. [–> This is essentially the point that Locke cited from “the judicious [Anglican Canon, Richard] Hooker [in his Ecclesiastical Polity 1594+]” when in his 2nd treatise on civil gov’t, he grounded the rights – lawfulness principle at the heart of modern liberty and democracy, cf. OP and here] Since that, it happened that many nations took to Christ’s faith; there were many synods through all the middle earth gathered, and eke throughout the English race, they took to Christ’s faith, of holy bishops’, and eke of other exalted witan [wise men]. They then set forth, for their mild-heartedness, that Christ learned [taught], at almost every misdeed, that the worldly lords might, with their leave, without sin, at the first guilt, take their fee-boot that they then appointed; except in treason against a lord, to which they durst not declare no mild-hearted ness, for that the God Almighty doomed none to them that slighted him, nor Christ God’s son doomed none to him that sold him to death, and he bade to love a lord as himself. They then in many synods set a boot for many misdeeds of men ; and in many synod books they wrote, here, one doom, there, another. I then, Alfred king, gathered these together, and bade to write many of those that our foregoers held,—those that to me seemed good: and many of those that seemed not good, I set aside with mine witan’s counsel, and in other wise bade to hold them: for that I durst not venture much of mine own to set in writing, for that it was unknown to me what of this would be liking to those that were after us. But those that I met with either in Ine’s days mine kinsman, or in Offa’s, king of Mercia, or in Ethelbryte’s that first took baptism in the English race,—they that seemed to me the lightest, I gathered them herein and let alone the others. I then, Alfred, king of the West Saxons, shewed these to all mine witan, and they then said that that all seemed good to them to hold . . .
Yup, God, Moses, the Decalogue and the Golden Rule as well as the AD 48/49 Jerusalem Council. KF PS: 182 hit count. kairosfocus
I thought this OP would get far more attention than it is. Brother Brian
F/N3: NT Scholar Craig Evans also has some food for thought that we need to face. 2004 U of Calgary Benthal Public Lecture:
The story told in the New Testament Gospels—in contrast to the greatly embellished versions found in the Gospel of Peter and other writings— smacks of verisimilitude. The women went to the tomb to mourn privately and to perform duties fully in step with Jewish burial customs. They expected to find the body of Jesus; ideas of resurrection were the last thing on their minds. The careful attention given the temporary tomb is exactly what we should expect. Pious fiction—like that seen in the Gospel of Peter— would emphasize other things. Archaeology can neither prove nor disprove the resurrection, but it can and has shed important light on the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and missing corpse . . . . Research in the historical Jesus has taken several positive steps in recent years. Archaeology, remarkable literary discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and progress in reassessing the social, economic, and political setting of first-century Palestine have been major factors. Notwithstanding the eccentricities and skepticism of the Jesus Seminar [--> which was lionised by the media for many years], the persistent trend in recent years is to see the Gospels as essentially reliable, especially when properly understood, and to view the historical Jesus in terms much closer to Christianity’s traditional understanding, i.e., as proclaimer of God’s rule, as understanding himself as the Lord’s anointed, and, indeed, as God’s own son, destined to rule Israel. But this does not mean that the historical Jesus that has begun to emerge in recent years is simply a throwback to the traditional portrait. The picture of Jesus that has emerged is more finely nuanced, more obviously Jewish, and in some ways more unpredictable than ever. The last word on the subject has not been written and probably never will be. Ongoing discovery and further investigation will likely force us to make further revisions as we read and read again the old Gospel stories and try to come to grips with the life of this remarkable Galilean Jew.
KF kairosfocus
F/N2: Nor, should we forget the force of Barrister Morison's challenge:
[N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus’ resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 – 115.]
KF kairosfocus
F/N: It is also relevant to note Barnett's summary on the report of C1 to early C2 non-Christian sources . . . the first general sources to come down to us, including state documents relating to the Bithynia letter of accusation and trials:
On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions: Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 - 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 - 36). [Tacitus] The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus] Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer] His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny] He was called "the Christ." [Josephus] His followers were called "Christians." [Tacitus, Pliny] They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny] It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer] His brother was James. [Josephus] [Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31. Cf. McDowell & Wilson, He Walked Among Us (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) for more details; free for download here.]
Again, marginalised but relevant information. We need to ask some pointed questions on how the history of the Christian synthesis is being treated, given its foundational importance to our civilisation. KF kairosfocus
F/N: Focus, noting more on the "nones," brings out the underlying gaps in what people understand and acknowledge vs what they could relatively easily access (apart from message dominance and Overton Window silencing/bandwagon effects):
The term “nones” is a misleading descriptor of this growing demographic. Pew found 46 million adults now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, but aren’t necessarily devoid of religion and spiritual belief. The study found that of the unaffiliated: 68% say they believe in God 37% classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” 33% say religion has importance in their lives 21% pray every day Even though, 5% attend worship services weekly 63% say religion is losing its influence on American life 67% say churches/religious organizations are too involved with politics Pew researchers admit the weakness of the term “nones,” emphasizing “the absence of a religious affiliation does not necessarily indicate an absence of religious beliefs or practices.” Of the 46 million unaffiliated adults, only 28% (13 million) describe themselves as atheists or agnostics (only 6% of U.S. public). University of Connecticut’s Sociologist of Religion Bradley Wright, who has examined the report, clarifies, “Many of the ‘nones’ have strong spiritual & religious beliefs; they just don’t affiliate with a particular religion.”
We may pause to see how this same fact is framed by Laderman at Huffington Post (which manifestly is a participant in the guilty secret):
I have seen the future of religion in America, and its name is “none.” Yet another survey just recently published and publicized is emphasizing what is now an undeniable trend on the American religious landscape: increasing, if not historic, numbers of Americans are claiming no religious affiliation when asked to state their religious identity, and more and more are embracing “spirituality” as an alternative religious brand that is not tradition-specific, but is more in line with the democratic spirit of individual tastes.
The secularist triumphalism implicit in this last contrasts with what the structure of the "nones" manifestly reflects, a want of awareness of warrant relative to the gospel. (And, we hardly need to detain ourselves with attempts to set up and knock over strawman caricatures of the point Haberman et al have put on the table: there is a cluster of historically credible facts on the table that need to be adequately and responsibly addressed.) What we are dealing with is a failure of those who shape what is perceived as knowledge, leading to one facet of a spreading disaffection that points to a civilisation weighed in the balance and found wanting. KF PS: I think -- given the strength of the core warrant on the gospel -- a clip from 252 in the nones thread is relevant to the notion that (presumably because "faith" is viewed as essentially subjective and lacking warrant) we may freely take up and promote any particular opinion or views on scripture and linked theology as we please. For, duties to truth, warrant and prudence cannot be so easily evaded as many evidently imagine:
Maybe I should give a summary of my advice as to when one has enough knowledge base for a responsible, semi independent exposition of scripture. On hearing a text or topic, you instantly, automatically have a cross-referenced, chronologically developed awareness of the whole counsel of scripture on the topic, with onward topics back to the core of Christian theology. Simultaneously, you should be able to recognise and correctly integrate the content of the creedal summary known as the Nicene Creed into a similar cross-referenced framework and can address or better anticipate typical objections and misunderstandings. Further, one should be able to summarise the core warrant for the Christian faith and in a nutshell answer common objections. In addition, one should be able to use standard original language tools, so that one can reasonably refer to standard explanations of key terms in the original, Strongs being the key first level source. If you cannot meet these criteria, you are in no position to responsibly expound or frame teachings soundly. Notice, I here speak at lay level; at professional level, we are talking courses in original languages, exposure to systematic theology, training in relevant disciplines and more. A professional theologian needs at least a Masters as initial level, and the research doctorate is the standard full professional level. Far too many underqualified and ill informed people venture out, imagining that they know more than they do and dismissing due correction of their blunders.
F/N: I wish to follow up a little bit. As, while opinion surveys can track perceptions (and trends across time), one of their inherent flaws is that they cannot in themselves tell truth, quality of warrant or degree of prudence in forming views. Especially, as we know that there is often a sense of pressure to conform to views perceived as dominant . . . part of the Overton Window effect. So, as we see the survey that across 40+ years has tracked the rise of "nones" we need to ask, what is the underlying dynamic? Is it driven by actual warrant relative to what we can credibly know or should know? Or, prudence regarding what we do not know enough to determine for ourselves (and so should seek education from the genuinely expert and demonstrably sound)? This can be hard to answer, but it is a key consideration as we ponder the health of our civilisation. We can actually answer, relative to the core warrant for the gospel (thus, for its integral ethics of purity and discipleship). For, precisely across said 40+ years, there has been a response built up at top flight academic level to many decades of popular and academic skepticism about the Christian faith. Which, happens to lie at the core of the Christian synthesis which shaped how our civilisation drew on and synthesised the heritage of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome (which in turn built on the earlier developments in the river valley civilisations and the fertile crescent, as our alphabetic system of writing exemplifies). That Christian faith with its integral ethics has also served to motivate reform movements, especially after the invention of printing, rise of mass literacy and development of public opinion drove the democratising forces that transformed government systems in the aftermath of the reformation (especially in Britain and its daughter states). For, the minimal facts approach (see earlier discussion or links from the OP) was able to identify up to a dozen facts that represent more or less an implicit general picture of the historical core of the founding events and personalities of the Christian faith. An inference to best explanation and comparative difficulties assessment then yields fairly decisive results, once question-begging anti-supernaturalism is set aside. First, the sorts of hyperskeptical theories that have often been touted since C17 - 18, collapse; they cannot account for the credible facts. Second, there are two men standing: [A] an utterly implausible mass hallucination, or else [B] the often unwelcome historic Christian view that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross, was buried and rose again with 500 witnesses that could not be silenced. In short, the media-amplified, heavily promoted popular skepticism and linked promotion of cultural marxist style narratives of oppression and scandal, as well as the myths in the genre of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code etc hide a guilty secret: the evidence that warrants the core of the historic Christian faith is not only credible but strong. Which establishes a centre of authentic authority, the risen Christ and his message. In that light, let us observe from the article H has linked:
Previous Pew Research Center studies have shown that the share of Americans who believe in God with absolute certainty has declined in recent years, while the share saying they have doubts about God’s existence – or that they do not believe in God at all – has grown. These trends raise a series of questions: When respondents say they don’t believe in God, what are they rejecting? Are they rejecting belief in any higher power or spiritual force in the universe? Or are they rejecting only a traditional Christian idea of God – perhaps recalling images of a bearded man in the sky? Conversely, when respondents say they do believe in God, what do they believe in – God as described in the Bible, or some other spiritual force or supreme being? . . . . A new Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults finds that one-third of Americans say they do not believe in the God of the Bible, but that they do believe there is some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe. A slim majority of Americans (56%) say they believe in God “as described in the Bible.” And one-in-ten do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force. In the U.S., belief in a deity is common even among the religiously unaffiliated – a group composed of those who identify themselves, religiously, as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” and sometimes referred to, collectively, as religious “nones.” Indeed, nearly three-quarters of religious “nones” (72%) believe in a higher power of some kind, even if not in God as described in the Bible. The survey questions that mention the Bible do not specify any particular verses or translations, leaving that up to each respondent’s understanding. But it is clear from questions elsewhere in the survey that Americans who say they believe in God “as described in the Bible” generally envision an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving deity who determines most or all of what happens in their lives. By contrast, people who say they believe in a “higher power or spiritual force” – but not in God as described in the Bible – are much less likely to believe in a deity who is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent and active in human affairs . . . . Nearly eight-in-ten U.S. adults think God or a higher power has protected them, and two-thirds say they have been rewarded by the Almighty. By comparison, somewhat fewer see God as judgmental and punitive. Six-in-ten Americans say God or a higher power will judge all people on what they have done, and four-in-ten say they have been punished by God or the spiritual force they believe is at work in the universe. In addition, the survey finds that three-quarters of American adults say they try to talk to God (or another higher power in the universe), and about three-in-ten U.S. adults say God (or a higher power) talks back. The survey also asked, separately, about rates of prayer. People who pray on a regular basis are especially likely to say that they speak to God and that God speaks to them. But the survey shows that praying and talking to God are not fully interchangeable. For example, four-in-ten people (39%) who say they seldom or never pray nonetheless report that they talk to God.
What is this picture representing i/l/o the parallel but largely unreported trend of the weight of historical evidence on the merits? For one, the public by and large does not know that balance. This reflects message dominance in the media and education systems, also among the pundit classes. The guilty secret counts. Second, we have an appalling theological illiteracy, tracked by failure to understand that prayer is conversation with God, not just petitioning him. This reflects, in turn, radical secularisation and a failure of basiic Christian Education, multiplied by the message dominance problem. Similarly, it reflects ignorance of the implications of our being morally governed creatures with responsible, rational freedom, that leads to needing a root of reality capable of adequately sustaining ought; which is already a serious warning sign for our civilisation as this means that the moral fabric of the civilisation is disintegrating. A trend, we can see all around us. The incidence of people who report experiences with God in the context of prayer and life carries with it a further serious implication: if just one person has actually so experienced God in action, the God who answers prayer with power is real. If not, that so many are deluded brings the rational credibility of the human mind into question. That is, the spectre of grand delusion lurks -- yet another troubling implication of atheistical views. In short, we have here the elements of a reformation if there is a mass response to the force of the minimal facts discussion. But where there is a revival, there is always going to be a resistance, one that here has message dominance but such dominance covers over a guilty secret. Which feeds a further trend, the uneasy and rising skepticism ever so many ordinary people hold towards the power centres, the decision-making governance classes and their publicists/popularisers in the education systems and the media. Disaffection -- that fatal political disease -- is spreading, moving towards withdrawal of the consent of the governed. (Which, of course, is precisely what things like Brexit votes, the rise of the rust belt deplorables and widespread doubts on allegedly scientifically founded policies are signs of.) Our civilisation is being weighed in the balances and so far it is found sadly wanting. KF kairosfocus
H, we have already addressed warrant for the gospel, which is solid and which then leads to a sound systematic understanding of God and related things. Grudem is available at web archive, a good start point of reference, being a short introductory Systematics, only 1200 pp. More in-depth more comprehensive works are accessible, though I have a liking for Finney's work, as that has track record of supporting a major awakening. Let me add, the thesis on root of being for a world with morally governed creatures gives a useful way in from logic of being, i.e. the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. The next issue is, restoring a civilisation that has lost its way (in ways Schaeffer et al help us to understand). For that, the natural law f/w outlined in the OP will be helpful. KF kairosfocus
https://www.pewforum.org/2018/04/25/when-americans-say-they-believe-in-god-what-do-they-mean/ hazel
Defending Civilization, 2: Linking gospel-warrant and the naturally evident law of our morally governed nature kairosfocus

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