Friday, September 23, 2011

September 2011 E-Block

The new E-Block went out yesterday -- here's what it has cooking.

The Musicians' Gambit: To make this one more interesting, I now turn the series back in time to some groups that were the rage when I still thought music was cool. I'll have a look at the classic group Petra. The goal here will be to see if Christian music has gotten any less substantive since their time. (The answer from this one is...yes, it has!)

Cruel Vegetable Soup: I was feeling masochistic again, so I obliged a reader request to have a look at a rather loony fellow who insists that the Bible is all hot about vegetarianism and animal cruelty. How loony is he? His whole case amounts to conveniently hypothesizing textual changes (eg, it was actually Cain, not Abel, who sacrificed a sheep, and much of Leviticus is a fraud) and accepting as valid any apocryphal text he can lay his hands on -- including some relatively modern forgeries.

Ride in the Reconstruction Zone: I read another 500+ pages of R. J. Rushdoony and still couldn't find anything that controversial, other than some possible research flubs. The man could at least make it interesting by proposing something radical, like clown school uniforms. Sheesh.

Carl Medearis, Part 2. Speaking of sheesh, I also did Part 2 and last of a review of the work of Carl Medearis. The fun one here was a screwup he had with respect to honor and shame, that deserves a reprint here:

115 -- Thankfully, Medearis here at least admits to the importance of sound doctrine (even as he had been saying the opposite up until now). However, he advises against "lead[ing] a conversation with doctrine rather than Jesus Himself." And this means what exactly? That's not too clear. He tells a story of having ignored a Muslim doctor who interrupted a Bible study he held with other Muslim doctors by asking his fellow Muslims how they could sit with someone who believed Jesus had been crucified. Rather than answer the man, the host asked him to join the study, which proved embarrassing to the man.

I detect some problems here. The first is that these Muslims (who were from Lebanon) undoubtedly adhered to an honor-shame social view. In that light, the host's refusal to answer the question -- whether Medearis understood so or not -- was actually a shaming device which told the man that his question wasn't worthy of being answered. So in a nutshell, Medearis has mistaken a public shaming for not wanting to "lead with doctrine." And he has also offered an example that would have failed miserably had the group been made up instead of American atheists, for example.

Second, there is nothing "doctrinal" about Jesus being crucified. That is a matter of historic fact or not. Muslim insistence that Jesus was not crucified is, to put it bluntly, an embarrassing contrivance. (And for that reason, the public shaming of the man was all the more appropriate.)

Finally, in light of all this, Medearis is wrong to suppose that this shows that "fighting over doctrine" would have been "a huge error" any time such a situation arises. It would not have been at all times. In this group, he tells us, everyone was a doctor; they were all social equals, and the host was quite able to respond in kind as he did. The situation would have been quite different had the objector been a social superior to the host -- or an inferior. Medearis has unwittingly fallen for the sort of one-size-fits-all methodology for which he expresses disdain.

John Loftus' new book: Also speaking of sheesh, I did a brief review of Loftus' The End of Christianity. Why brief? Because 8 of the 14 chapters are "been therem done that". The rest are just silly stuff.

The Ticker will be off a few days as I attend some USDA training -- may be back next Friday, or the Monday after.

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