It ain’t happening.
I keep hoping people will understand when I attack Aristotelian epistemology and European tribal mythology. I keep hoping they’ll recognize all those unconscious assumptions about life, the universe and everything. I pray that they learn the very different approach necessary to understand the Bible. More than that, it is the necessary intellectual approach to understand life, the universe and everything as God revealed it.
Apparently there are educated people out there who read my efforts and it just doesn’t happen. Somewhere between my keyboard and their brain is a short circuit. I confess it could well be I lack the writing talent, but I’m not sure what I can do about it. There are plenty of folks for whom the whole thing is simply over their heads. Scary to me is how many there are. As someone who once worked in public education, I understand all too well why there are so many like that. Public education in America is designed to make them that way. I keep praying God does something to give folks a chance to break out the intellectual bondage so they can serve Him as full participants, as shepherds instead of sheep.
It’s good we have people who recognize that the Bible is not a science book. It’s good we have a smaller number who realize the Bible is not a history book, either. Big as it is, the Bible is actually pretty minimal. It’s just barely enough for a human to begin training their intellect to obey the Spirit of God.
So if you read the Law of Moses, you understand from the narrative that it can’t possibly cover every detail of life a human is likely to encounter just in the context in which is the Law is revealed. There were lots of questions because real world situations don’t always fit the rather simple declarations of God’s Laws. The Law included provisions for selecting wiser heads and prophets to help clarify things. Moses was taught by his father-in-law not to assume he was the only one who could understand the Law. Moses and his readers were supposed to wait on God to raise up folks who could read the text and see between the lines what it was God was trying to convey, a truth about life on this fallen plane of existence.
The Hebrew mind, if it worked well at all, assumed truth was impossible to reduce to mere words. Truth was the Person of God Almighty, and our best hope was something in a written narrative could give us a clue. There is no matrix of truth the mind can plumb with logic; there is only the Person of the Living God. The mind is supposed to extrapolate based on underlying moral truths too difficult for words. Try as I might to contrast this with the Aristotelian expectation of defining an objective body of truth, I still run into people who read my stuff and demand I adhere to Aristotelian forms of expression.
There are people out there who will read this very blog post and still do that.
The Hebrew Scriptures do not address every question likely to occur in our minds. It didn’t address every question likely to occur to Ancient Hebrew minds, much less our Post-modern Western minds. A critical element is in the question: Why state the obvious? If everyone is expected to believe a certain fundamental truth, why need we mention it? So very much of Hebrew Scripture was a reaction to falsehood, not an organized attempt to catalog a full discussion of reality. For us, there are huge gaps in the Bible narrative. The purpose of putting the Old Covenant into a written form was not so you could analyze and know, but so you could obey.
It’s no different in the New Testament. There are lots of things Jesus never addressed in the Gospel narrative. Maybe He did address some of those questions in real life, but we have no record of it. Instead, we have a record of things He said and did in reaction to the concerns of the day and time of those men who wrote those narratives. Our job as scholars is to reconstruct the context of the narrative as much as we can, but surely the rest is simply resting in the Holy Spirit.
We take it as an article of faith that God would not leave us high and dry on essentials, and that the Bible must be enough. Whatever it is we really need must be there, somewhere. And it is, but if we approach with the wrong frame of mind, we are sure to get the wrong answers, because we’ll ask the wrong questions. Aristotelian minds want information for analysis, something they can harness under their human logic. Such minds presume to own the data as masters of understanding, rather than be owned by it. The Hebrew Bible calls that demand “fallen nature.” That is, the very assumption truth can be held in human intelligence is the very nature of what happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden eating the Forbidden Fruit — it was the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. That word “knowledge” implies one who makes executive decisions as if he were the designer. We want to see the plans for the universe on our level. God said, “Nope. That’s above your existential level.”
The Bible teaches almost nothing about the knowledge of being, and very little about doing, because it is all about morality. It teaches moral understanding.
We look back upon the record and we see a small handful of amazing people who worked from even less of that written record than we have, yet they had the most amazing depth of insight. And then they were commissioned to either write or edit the writing of more of that narrative. They weren’t necessarily brilliant linguists; some couldn’t even read or write. They were morally brilliant. Jesus was morally precocious. Such was the single distinguishing human character trait He carried — maximum human moral genius. If there is one thing on which we ought to focus our searching, it’s not rules and principles, but moral apprehension. Not formulating moral principles, but learning the moral fabric woven into Creation already as a living thing. Moral truth is a reflection of the character of God, insofar as He requires us to know Him.
A Hebrew writer would never write it like that, because writing it that way comes from a question that would not occur to him. Only by careful hindsight do we recognize that most of what Jesus said in His disputes with the Pharisees was over this very problem, in that the Pharisees were too Aristotelian. They had made a god of their logical system for understanding Moses, and it was not the logic of Moses by any means. The Pharisees insisted Moses was propositional truth (without using those words), and this was a clear departure from how the Hebrew intellect approached things up to the time when Hellenism was sold to them around 300 BC.
The Bible was intended for reading with the power of the Holy Spirit, not with the power of mere human logic. It was not intended to produce uniformity of thought and action, but unity of commitment to Jesus Christ. Don’t confuse them. The unifying power of the Spirit cannot be expressed in terms humans can understand, much less control. If you try to squeeze from Scripture a theology and practice by which you command others to obey as if unto God, you are not bringing glory to the name of Jesus Christ; you are still just another Pharisee.
So I’m obviously not a Fundamentalist at all, and not really an evangelical, though my choice of words sometimes sounds like them. And I am certainly not any kind of liberal by common definitions. I’m a Christian Mystic, an ultimate primitivist. I don’t do propositional teaching. I’ve offered here adequate explanation why not, but I’ll be glad to elucidate further, if you want it. Just ask.
Somewhere out there, someone’s going to read this and it will cross his mind to demand I answer all his questions with propositional statements. It ain’t happening.
It’s not straightforward to install, but VMWare Player for Linux works very well on RHEL 6 and clones (I’m using Scientific Linux 6). However, XP does not work properly as a client, and you may not get it running at all. I had no trouble with Win2K once I got SP4 and the final rollup installed. Without those, you can’t install the VMWare drivers to make Windows run right. With the drivers installed, it’s fully integrated with the host system desktop and allows me to run a lot of software that WINE cannot handle. For security reasons, I don’t allow the VM to connect to the Internet, but it’s easy to share folders between the host and VM once you set it up. Now, under Windows 7, VMWare took quite a bit of power and was pretty slow. Under SL6, it takes some power to load, but then runs about as quietly as if I were running Win2K itself. I haven’t tried the built-in KVM because kernel level stuff is simply not necessary for this and way too complicated. The other desktop VMs seem more difficult in the descriptions so I went with what I knew.
Capitalism is bad. It’s a cruel and heartless economic system. Socialism and Communism are also very bad, and Fascism is worst of all. All of them are very bad because all of them are inherently materialistic. Each of them treats material goods and creature comfort as god. Humans become no more than a resource, rather than the whole point of things. God said we are designed to live under a tribal government with a family economic system. The modern secular state is one of Satan’s major accomplishments on earth.
In this real world, the American political system and culture are so horrifically evil from the very start, no economic system will work. Places like Europe are socially more boring, but the politics avoid the extremes of what people can tolerate, for the most part. Their governments and economic policies have a human face, where ours is all fangs and hatred. But socialism works out tolerably well there, compared to the idiocy of our welfare-warfare state system. Honestly, if I had the means, I’d rather live in Europe somewhere, but not the UK. I’m sure that leaks out in my writings.
My current fiction series will end with chapter 11. I already have a part 2 ready and I’m working on part 3. Same characters, similar geography, etc., but the core mission becomes steadily more obvious. I’ll keep posting it here, so if this fiction bores you, you’ll probably lose interest in this blog. Right now, this is something really important to me.