Friday, January 31, 2020

Preternatural theology


Natural theology is traditionally distinguished from revealed theology.  Natural theology is concerned with knowledge about God’s existence and nature that is available to us via the use of our natural cognitive faculties, such as by way of philosophical arguments.  It does not require an appeal to any special divine revelation, whether embodied in scripture, the teachings of a prophet backed by miracles, or what have you.  There might happen to be teachings in some source of special divine revelation that overlap with the deliverances of natural theology, but what makes something a matter of natural theology is that it can at least in principle be known apart from that.

Revealed theology is concerned with knowledge about God that is available by way of some special divine revelation, distinct from anything we know by philosophical arguments or the like.  It has a source that is supernatural in the sense of being beyond what the natural order of things is capable of producing.  That is why a miracle (a suspension of the natural order) is, in Catholic theology, taken to be a necessary condition for our knowing that something really has been divinely revealed.  The content of revealed theology might include matters that are also knowable by way of natural theology, but typically it involves matters that could not in principle be known that way.

To illustrate, an argument from motion to the existence of a divine prime unmoved mover would be an example of natural theology.  You don’t need scripture or the guidance of a prophet or the Church in order to construct such an argument, which is why a pagan thinker like Aristotle could discover it.  By contrast, that there is more than one Person in God (the doctrine of the Trinity) is an example of revealed theology.  We can know it only because it has been specially revealed, where the genuineness of the revelation is backed by miracles (such as Christ’s resurrection).  The doctrine of divine simplicity would, according to Catholic theology, be an example of something that we know both from natural theology and revealed theology.  It is knowable by purely philosophical arguments, which is why it could be arrived at by pagan thinkers like Plotinus.  But it is also a dogma of the Church, in the sense of being a teaching that Catholicism holds to have been taught infallibly under divine guidance.

Now, though in the abstract this distinction is clear and neat, in practice matters of natural and revealed theology can have a great influence on each other, and the boundaries between them are not always sharp.  Sometimes this is because revealed theology influences natural theology.  How could that be?  Well, natural theology, like any other human enterprise, can involve error.  For example, Plotinus correctly reasons to the conclusion that God must be simple or non-composite, but wrongly concludes that this rules out attributing to him anything analogous to intellect.  Hence he locates intellect in a secondary divine hypostasis.  The Catholic theologian guided by divine revelation would judge this to be an error of philosophical reasoning, and argue that in fact it is a matter of sound natural theology that both simplicity and intellect must be attributed to God.

You might think this is a cheat, but it is not.  For one thing, the Catholic theologian would give philosophical arguments for the conclusion that there is intellect in God – that is to say, arguments that in no way appeal to divine revelation, but only to purely philosophical considerations.  For another thing, even some pagan philosophers (such as Aristotle) would agree on attributing both simplicity and intellect to God.  Hence, appeal to divine revelation is not necessary for attributing both simplicity and intellect to God, even if it might guide this or that individual thinker in arriving at that conclusion.  It is not like the doctrine of the Trinity, which could not be arrived at on purely philosophical grounds.

Having said that, natural theology can guide the way that revealed theology is articulated.  For example, though the doctrine of the Trinity could not have been known through purely philosophical arguments, once we have it in hand as a result of divine revelation, philosophical analysis can affect how we understand it.  For example, it might tell us that such-and-such a way of formulating the doctrine must be wrong, because the formulation would entail polytheism, and polytheism can be known to be false both as a matter of natural theology and as a matter of revealed theology.  Or we might find that certain philosophical concepts and terminology (substance, essence, etc.) are indispensable in articulating the doctrine.

Given that grace builds upon nature rather than destroying it, we should expect that matters of supernatural or revealed theology and matters of natural theology are in practice closely interwoven even in the sources of divine revelation, and that is indeed what we find.  For example, the law given through Moses contains many components that are matters of natural law (such as the commandments against murder, stealing, and adultery) in addition to components that are matters of temporarily operative special divine law (such as the sacrificial system).  Catholic doctrinal definitions taken to be protected from error by way of special divine assistance sometimes incorporate terminology having a philosophical provenance (such as “transubstantiation,” or the characterization of the soul as the “form” of the body).

Now, all of this is intended as stage-setting for an explanation of the concept expressed in the title of this post.  What do I mean by “preternatural theology”?  What is preternatural is what is beyond the power of some part of the natural order to produce, and yet is not strictly supernatural insofar as it can be caused by some other part of the created order and not only by God. 

A stock example would be the phenomena associated with demonic possession.  Take the strange abilities exhibited by the Linda Blair character (or rather, by the evil spirit possessing her) in the movie The Exorcist – suddenly speaking in languages previously unknown to her, levitating above her bed, causing objects in her room to move without touching them, etc.  There is an obvious sense in which these are not natural.  In the ordinary course of events, these things don’t happen and people don’t have the power to make them happen.  On the other hand, they are in various respects not strictly supernatural either.  For one thing, they are not miracles, insofar as God is not the one making them happen.  For another, they are not all of themselves naturally impossible (for example, there is nothing per se impossible about a person speaking Latin, even if the Linda Blair character shouldn’t have been able to do it).  And they are produced by a demon, who is part of the natural order broadly construed just as much as we are.  The created world includes the angels and demons, and thus what they do is not of itself supernatural in the sense of being beyond the natural order altogether. 

Now, the possibility and indeed reality of a purely natural theology is something commonly and traditionally affirmed in Catholic teaching.  Human beings completely outside the orbit of Christian revelation can and sometimes do have at least an imperfect knowledge of God.  And yet scripture tells us that “all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens” (Psalm 95:5, Douay-Rheims version), and that “the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20).  How can these claims be reconciled?

The way they can be reconciled is by seeing that just as truths of natural theology and truths of revealed theology are often intermixed, so too can truths of natural theology and errors of what we might call preternatural theology be intermixed. 

Hence, consider religions like Hinduism and Islam.  Hinduism features the worship of multiple deities, such as Vishnu and Shiva, and both the fact of this multiplicity and some of the details of the cults of these gods are simply incompatible with Christian doctrine.  At the same time, there is an impressive philosophical tradition within Hinduism that includes both arguments for the existence of a divine creator and the teaching that there is a single ultimate divine reality of which the multiple deities are only manifestations.  Islam claims to be based on a special divine revelation, and that too is a claim that no Christian can accept.  But Islam too has an impressive philosophical tradition that includes powerful argumentation concerning the existence and attributes of God.

Someone could consistently both hold on scriptural grounds that the distinctive theological claims of such religions have a diabolical preternatural provenance, and allow that the errors due to that provenance are nevertheless intermixed with truths of natural theology.  A message might seem to be from God while in fact being from the devil, and yet a person who wrongly accepts that message might also have some genuine knowledge about God by way of independent philosophical arguments.  A pseudo-revelation can be mixed in with truths of natural theology, just as a genuine revelation can be mixed in with truths of natural theology. 

There are two extreme views to be avoided, then.  One error (made by some traditionalists) would be to suppose that, because a certain non-Christian religion is based on a pseudo-revelation, its adherents cannot have any genuine knowledge of God of a natural theology sort.  The other error (made by some liberals) would be to suppose that, because adherents of a certain non-Christian religion evidently do have some genuine knowledge of God of a natural theology sort, that religion’s purportedly revealed doctrines must really be at worst merely confused expressions of this natural theology and therefore more or less innocent.  In other words, the propositions:

(1) Religion R contains some false theological beliefs of diabolical origin, and

(2) Religion R contains some true theological beliefs grounded in natural theology

are consistent with one another.  One cannot appeal to (1) as a reason to reject (2) and one cannot appeal to (2) as a reason to reject (1).  This is important to keep in mind when considering issues such as whether adherents of different religions are talking about the same thing when they use the word “God.”

Further reading:





148 comments:

  1. Humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that don't fit their worldview.

    There's a perfectly natural explanation for why false religions exist: because people sporadically form falsehoods and don't seek out correction. If they sought out correction, they would become apostolic Christians. Telling them that they're Devil-worshippers is lierally demonizing them... by definition!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is it the official Catholic position that the source of those religions dogmas and beliefs are demonic interventions and deceit?

    Also, I would be very interested to see Ed saying more on the issue of demons and of demonic possessions. I think that I recall some mention in the Philosophy of Mind that cases like the multiple personality disorder could be attributed to demonic possession, but of course he didn't defend it there. What does Thomistic Philosophy say about such phenomena, how do we separate it from genuine mental illness? Does the A-T philosophy have an account of mental illness in general to contrast it with phenomena of demonic interference?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the official position of Deuteronomy 13 that miracle-workers who try to change the Torah are a test from God. "Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. God your Lord is testing you to see if you are truly able to love God your Lord with all your heart and all your soul."

      Empty tomb? So what. "God your Lord is testing you ..."

      Delete
    2. Healings are never demonic because only God can heal and raising the dead is never demonic because only God can raise the dead. You can't use that verse as an excuse for continuing to practice Judaism.

      Delete
    3. Satan isn't the "god of this world" in Judaism. He works for HaShem. Read the verse again. Who is doing the testing by sending an evil miracle-worker? "God your Lord is testing you." It doesn't say anything about demons.

      There's only one reference to the son of God in the Torah (Exodus 4:22), and no warnings about rejecting the messiah (out of 613 commandments). ALL the threats and curses pertain to deviating from the Torah. Regarding its "temporary" status, this is one of numerous refutations:

      Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath THROUGHOUT their generations as an EVERLASTING COVENANT. Between Me and the children of Israel, it is FOREVER a sign that [in] six days The Lord created the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and rested. (Exodus 31:16-17)

      So why are you worshipping a miracle-working son of God? Miracle-workers are a test and the son of God is Israel. Gentiles (like us) have a moral code, the Noahide Laws.

      Delete
    4. If you're going to babble about Christians "changing" the Pentateuch you might at least quote it without distortion: Deuteronomy 13 warns of those who lead one into worshiping strange gods, not about "changing the Torah" (which the Christians did in no sense in which the Jews didn't also).

      The Jews themselves don't follow all the Mosaic commandments, which they in fact cannot: manym for examplem pertaining to sacrifices that are commanded to be offered only in the Temple, which of course was torn down in the 1st Century Anno Domini and never restored since (whereas the Christians' still stands).

      The Jews then rely as much on allegorical, spiritual fulfillments of these laws. The difference is that where we received as revelation that the entire law is fulfilled in our Savior, and consistently apply this principle as received, the Jews must resort to a patchwork of competing exegeses and juridical decisions that admittedly have no divine warrant (putting aside the ridiculous fable that Moses received a second, unrecorded law).

      Of course the Christian position is more advanced from the Jewish, but then the Jewish is itself advanced from the Samaritan. If the Pentateuch really is the whole of Scripture, how did the Jews dare elevate their histories, songs, proverbs, prophecies, and poetry to its level? The Samaritans at least perform their sacrifices on Gerizim, even if their high priesthood did go extinct, as did the Jews' (though not the Christians').

      Delete
    5. So do you reject all books apart from the Pentateuch? Would you consider yourself a Sadducee? How do you know that those are the only books or revelation to follow? You certainly do not follow the Torah, because you do not sacrifice at the Temple.

      I think the point of the passage you mentioned is miracle workers who contradict the Torah, not those who claim to fulfill it.

      Delete
    6. In the Hebrew Bible Deut 13 starts like this: https://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et0513.htm Funny how it starts in a different place in yours. Talk about distortion.

      >The Jews themselves don't follow all the Mosaic commandments blah blah ...

      Wasn't the Temple destroyed once before? Did that cancel the "everlasting covenant," "binding for all generations"?
      The Temple will be restored and the true Messiah will perform sacrifices there. No faith will be required.

      >putting aside the ridiculous fable that Moses received a second, unrecorded law

      Show me where the Torah describes how to perform a heave offering and a wave offering, or which verses to include in tefillin. These are mentioned in the Torah but never described.

      >If the Pentateuch really is the whole of Scripture

      The Nevi’im and Ketuvim are a step lower than the Torah. They were not written by God. They were written by humans and canonized by the ‘Anshei-HaKeneset HaGedolah (the Men of the Great Assembly). They're only in the Bible until the Messianic Era.

      Please cite the chapter & verse that says the Torah will be fulfilled by the son of God.

      Delete
    7. Is it the official Catholic position that the source of those religions dogmas and beliefs are demonic interventions and deceit?

      The "official Catholic position" is that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church and other religions posses some things that are good and true, and some things that are errors.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous - here is my one shot at pointing you in a different direction.

      Deuteronomy contains a prophecy... You know the one... Deuteronomy 18:18. A prophet has indeed been raised up, and to Him we must listen (cf. Acts 3:22). To close the Torah in on itself, for at least this prophecy alone, even bracketing its actual fulfillment, is self-refuting.

      Here is a thought about the Temple - which cannot be rebuilt, even though it was tried once even while the Al-Aqsa mosque was not there (see the accounts of Theodoret, Sozomen, Socrates Scholasticus, Gregory Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom - all roughly contemporaries, some who spoke with eye-witnesses of the miracle). The destruction of Solomon's Temple was preceded by Hezekiah's Feast - quite the Passover (also preceded by a reform in Judah, which included the destruction of the Bronze Serpent Moses had set up...) Then the Temple is destroyed, everyone runs away, and it seems the Covenant is done and over due to the sins of Israel. The Temple is rebuilt, there is a celebration, but fire does not descend upon it like it did for Solomon...

      Jesus, set up on the Cross (a new lintel and doorpost for a more dignified Lamb's Blood - this time, marking the entrance to true eternal life, outside Jerusalem, that even the Assyrians which Jonah hated more than he loved his own life might be welcomed to salvation - note the reversal), like the Bronze Serpent, also led a reform in Judah and had a great feast before He was destroyed - then everyone ran away and all hope seemed lost. But Jesus was raised from the dead. The fire came down upon the new ministers where He had initiated the new ritual for Divine worship, a sacrifice of Himself, in Himself, towards Himself, and done principally by Himself, through the ministers. The same ones had accompanied Him in the Garden of Gethsemane a few days before, where that place of death recreated the ritual of Yom Kippur (notice the progression when they walk - some stop, the High Priest continues in, etc.), marking Himself as the scapegoat, covered in blood. (This was indicated also in the Baptism - which is in the lowest place on the planet by the way, an obvious cosmic sign - but He took on the sins of those on both sides of the River, and was marking Himself as being between Life, the Sea of Galilee, and Death... the Dead Sea. Closer to Death then, but in the Resurrection He stayed near the Sea of Galilee, Life.)

      It goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on. (Take a look, by the way, at the timeline of the journey to Egypt and back to Canaan, vis-a-vis the construction of the First Temple to the Second Temple, and then the period between Malachi and John the Baptist... Notice any similarity? What could it mean?) The entire force of the Torah, and the Prophets, and the History, looks to this Jesus and His Divinity. Read the Parables, and the discourses with the Pharisees. Read Paul, especially Hebrews. "I have not come to abolish the law, I have come to fulfill the law." (Mt. 5:17)

      Do not let yourself stand under the terrible curse of Isaiah - that you see and do not perceive, hear and do not understand... Jonah's plant has withered - it has been eaten by the Christ, and now the sun shines on all equally. We Goyim are late to the vineyard, but we will be paid the same wage.

      God bless you...

      Delete
    9. "My Christian Brother, with all due respect, Jesus - peace be upon him - was not the son of God. He was a great prophet. As it is written in the Koran ..."

      What's wrong with his approach? This. You don't accept the divinity of the Koran or its authority to interpret your bible. Consequently, your Moslem friend can hardly cite it as evidence like it's self-authenticating. But this is what Christians do. (Moslems also cite Deut 18:18, and Mohamed split the moon, and the Mormons had a revelation heard round the world, and on and on.)

      How do you know Deut 18 (or any of the countless verses cited) have anything to do with the New Testament? Because the NT says so? Why do you accept its authority to interpret the TaNaKh? Jesus performed miracles and Paul explained their significance vis-a-vis the TaNaKh.

      So what? And so what if Mohamed split the moon? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not worship a trinity, and the law given to Moses prohibits additions or subtractions. It doesn't say a peep about gentiles performing sacrifices for their sins to attain "salvation" either (much less a human sacrifice!) You're reading your theology into the TaNaKh. It's not there.

      The Torah explicitly states that God will test Israel with supernatural evidence on behalf of false religions. This is a chapter about epistemology, about what constitutes evidence qua evidence. Citing a miracle-worker who introduced novelties isn't evidence against it. (Mt 5:17 is as dishonest as anything ever writ. "No one comes to the father except through me" isn't a paradigm shift?)

      I once felt a terrible cognitive dissonance about the scary Old Testament and how on earth it fit together with the NT. I no longer do, because it doesn't.

      Delete
    10. CRS yes biblical typology as a cumulative case is a very strong argument for the authenticity of Christ, in addition to many other arguments.

      Delete
    11. T N,

      That does not address the question that I asked. I'm asking about the origin of those Errors according to the Church. According to Ed a lot of those errors can be attributed to demonic influences and I'm asking if that's the position of the Church or is it something upon which some theologians and Catholic philosophers may speculate freely.

      Delete
    12. @ Anonymous,

      Fair enough. Since error is not from God, but can be attributable to evil (or demons, or whatever) then yes. However, the question also has connotations that involve subjective intention. In the history of religious conflict assumptions of bad intent have, no doubt, been assumed more often than should have been, so continuing the tradition of insulting abuse is not a winning strategy for finding common ground (as, for example, the above exchange exemplifies).

      Delete
    13. Who is doing the testing by sending an evil miracle-worker? "God your Lord is testing you." It doesn't say anything about demons.

      You're accusing God of being the author of evil.

      Delete
    14. "In order that they know from the shining of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me; I am the Lord and there is no other. Who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil; I am the Lord, Who makes all these." (Isaiah 45:6-7)

      God is the author of everything other than Himself. "Lucifer" is the planet Venus. The Prophet's words, "Son of the morning," were mockingly addressed to the King of Babylon. HaSatan is not a "fallen angel" either. He is performing his assigned jobs, primarily as our accuser in the Heavenly Court. There is no independent kingdom of evil. God has no counterpart of any kind. The world unfolds according to His Providence.

      "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

      The god of this world!? Do you hear yourselves!? This is polytheism. An evil "god" is deceiving all those who reject Jesus. Deut 13 merely says God might test Israel. I don't understand how anyone can become outraged at the latter while defending the former.

      Delete
    15. Anonymous,

      I don't think you understand what monotheism actually is. Otherwise, you'd know that the existence of some god doesn't threaten the the divinity of God. The gods of the pagan faiths could all be real and it'd be wrong to worship them. That's what St. Augustine pointed out in his works.

      You also misinterpret Isaiah if you think "God creates evil" means "God creates evil miracle-workers to deceive people into leaving his own religion." Evil (Hebrew word: ra) in this context could mean moral evil or it could mean natural evils too - that is, those things that are harmful. See Psalms 34:19 "Many are the afflictions (ra) of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all." The RSV translates the Isaiah verse “I form light and create darkness, I make weal (shalom) and create woe (ra), I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Just as light's opposite is darkness, the opposite of peace is unrest or calamity, not necessarily moral evil.

      To say that God is the author of evil in the moral sense is to implicitly deny that God is all-good. For an all-good God cannot act against goodness.

      Delete
    16. @ Anonymous

      "Lucifer" is the planet Venus"?

      Oh, ok.

      Delete
    17. @Anonymous

      Well, go on and worship the Author of All Evil. Because I sure won't.

      "Because God did not make death,
      Nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
      For he fashioned all things that they might have being,
      and the creatures of the world are wholesome;
      There is not a destructive drug among them
      nor any domain of Hades on earth,
      For righteousness is undying.
      It was the wicked who with hands and words invited death,
      considered it a friend, and pined for it,
      and made a covenant with it,
      Because they deserve to be allied with it." (Wisdom 1:13-16)

      Delete
    18. >Well, go on and worship the Author of All Evil. Because I sure won't.

      Appeal to emotion is a fallacy. Appeal to maudlin sentiment is worse. Pour yourself a stiff drink and read Deut 28, starting with the 14th verse. THIS is why the Jews aren't big on new & improved stuff. (See also Leviticus 26.) Do these passages conform to your a priori conception of God? Too bad. Note well: ALL the curses are for deviating from the Torah or worshipping foreign gods: "And you shall not turn right or left from all of the words I am commanding you this day, to follow other deities to worship them." Not one word about rejecting the messiah or the son of God or the new testament.

      >I don't think you understand what monotheism actually is. Otherwise, you'd know that the existence of some god doesn't threaten the the divinity of God.

      God is the Source of all contingent reality. How could there be more than one? What would individuate them?

      >You also misinterpret Isaiah if you think "God creates evil" means "God creates evil miracle-workers to deceive people into leaving his own religion."

      Please don't put words in my mouth. That's unsanitary. Deut 13:6 ends with "so shall you clear away the evil from your midst." What evil? The prophet who leads Israel to worship foreign gods in 13:3. Who put this "evil" there in the first place? "The Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul." 13:4

      Pretend the NT doesn't exist. Just try. It's a thought experiment. How do you interpret this passage?

      Delete
    19. Appeal to emotion is a fallacy. Appeal to maudlin sentiment is worse.

      It's not an appeal to emotions it is an appeal to names. You're projecting your Jungian feeler cognition onto me. The true name of "Author of All Evil" is the true name of a very specific being, and you admitted that it's also the true name of the being you worship.

      Delete
    20. @Anonymous

      >Not one word about rejecting the messiah or the son of God or the new testament.

      I don't think you understand: how can a good God commit morally evil acts? Under a privation view of evil, evil is a privation, an inevitable result of imperfect beings (as only God can be perfect being). Making God the Author of All Evil contradicts God's Goodness.

      >God is the Source of all contingent reality. How could there be more than one? What would individuate them?

      A god is not the same as God. The gods of pagan myths (whether it be Nordic, Celtic, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Azetec, or whatever) all are contingent beings. They all began to exist at some point in time, they have emotions, physical bodies, moral flaws, etc. God (capital G) as described in Scripture as well as described in Aristotelian and Platonic philosophies, is non-contingent, eternal, perfect in every way. Pagan gods are not God. They are demons.

      >Pretend the NT doesn't exist. Just try. It's a thought experiment. How do you interpret this passage?

      Applied as consistently as possible in the way that you interpret it, we ought to reject every miracle and signs in general as signs of deception sent from God to test us. Therefore, we ought to reject all religions that use signs and wonders as evidence for their great works. Since Judaism established itself through miraculous signs, this verse, applied consistently would lead us to reject Judaism as a false religion used by God to deceive us as part of a test.

      As this is self-defeating, I propose a different interpretation of that particular verse. More likely, Moses was warning the Jews of the perils of idolatry in preparation for their encounter with the Canaanites. If any universal application is to derive from this, it'd be that worshiping foreign gods would be wrong. But the Christian God is the same God as the Jewish God, as seen in the quotes below.

      "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.'" (John 8:58)

      "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17)

      Delete
    21. >you admitted that it's also the true name of the being you worship.

      Checkmate satanist! (Is the best you can do? Really??)

      Can one believe in a God Who demands moral action from cognitive beings but didn't create a world governed by the same moral principles? If not, why? I honestly want to know. The problem of evil [sic] doesn't get off the ground for me.

      This is a thumbnail sketch of my worldview: http://www.mesora.org/13principles.html It ain't satanism. If you're not Jewish it's not a "religion" at all. It's six categorical prohibitions (idolatry, cursing God, murder, theft, illicit sex, cruelty to animals) and an injunction to enforce them.

      This week's Torah portion has a fascinating take on how God uses "evil": https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/video_cdo/aid/4259949/jewish/Got-a-Target-on-Your-Back.htm

      Delete
    22. >Since Judaism established itself through miraculous signs, this verse, applied consistently would lead us to reject Judaism as a false religion used by God to deceive us as part of a test.

      You have to be kidding. You're punting. The Israelites recieved a revelation warning them about supernatural evidence on behalf of foreign gods. How does this apply to itself? It says "gods you have not known." It doesn't say "Including this One." It's not self-defeating; it's trinity & son-of-God defeating, which were not conceptions of God they knew.

      >as seen in the quotes below

      The divinity of the NT is the point of contention. Citing it as evidence is no different than a Muslim quoting the Koran about Jesus. I'd be interested in seeing a verse or two from Deuteronomy about the son of God fulfilling the Torah ...

      Delete
    23. @Anonymous

      >Can one believe in a God Who demands moral action from cognitive beings but didn't create a world governed by the same moral principles? If not, why?

      What Balanced is pointing out is that, by making God responsible for moral evil contradicts his goodness. How can God be morally perfect and commit evil acts?

      The verse from Isaiah should best be read not as evil as in moral evil but evil as in natural evil. God allows for suffering and misfortune to occur even to the righteous (see Job for this), but this isn't the same as him being the author of evil.

      >The Israelites recieved a revelation warning them about supernatural evidence on behalf of foreign gods. How does this apply to itself?

      It applies to itself because it implicitly rejects the Thomistic principle that the true religion is proven by way of a true miracle. According to Thomistic philosophy, God uses a true miracle (such as the Resurrection) as a way of putting His stamp of approval on a particular teaching. Since you reject this criteria, and Judaism was established using miraculous works, then one could easily argue that the God of the Old Testament is a false god and that his prophets are sent by the true God to test us.

      >The divinity of the NT is the point of contention. Citing it as evidence is no different than a Muslim quoting the Koran about Jesus.

      I'm not citing the NT as Scripture. I'm citing the NT because you believe that Christians worship a different God than the Jews. They don't. They claim to be a continuation of the religion, and you characterizing the Christian God as one the Israelites didn't know is a misrepresentation of Christian teaching. It'd be just as much a misinterpretation to say (for instance) that Allah is actually a pagan moon god. That's not what Muslims actually believe, and their Scripture says as much.

      "And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, 'We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.'" (29:46)

      Delete
    24. Check your PM box, 119.

      Delete
    25. @Geocon

      >What Balanced is pointing out is that, by making God responsible for moral evil contradicts his goodness. How can God be morally perfect and commit evil acts?

      God isn’t _morally_ good or bad. Those are category errors. Brian Davies’ book on the reality of God & the problem of evil can’t be recommended too highly. Somewhere Feser writes that “God is beyond good & evil.”

      >It applies to itself because it implicitly rejects the Thomistic principle that the true religion is proven by way of a true miracle. According to Thomistic philosophy, God uses a true miracle (such as the Resurrection) as a way of putting His stamp of approval on a particular teaching.

      How is the principle of a Christian philosopher ontologically prior to a revelation from God? Aquinas drew bullseyes around the miracles in the NT. Big whoop. How did he derive this principle? One can be an Aristotelian (like Maimonides) and reject it. One can be an Aquinas fan (like me!) and reject Christianity. Aquinas’ principle isn’t true the way modus ponens is.

      This is one way of looking at the Big Picture. I’m not denying the evidence for Christianity. I’m denying that it’s evidence FOR Christianity. The question isn't whether Jesus fulfilled any prophecies; it's which ones. Trying to establish Christianity as an autonomous replacement with distinct evidence doesn't work if the Noachide can cite the same evidence. A prophet performs miracles, introduces novelties, and his followers insist the Torah has a shelf-life. What's the best explanation? There is one concise passage that explains everything in one fell-swoop. It's the simplest explanation by far. Christian opposition requires bending over backwards to deny what it obviously says and makes a priori (or Christian) assumptions about what God would or wouldn't do. The historicity of a miracle-working prophet trying to change Torah observance and traditional conceptions of God is evidence for the Divinity of Deuteronomy 13, confirming a prediction about supernatural phenomena and explaining why it came to be.

      “Although Christianity and Islam are not true, they have played a part in the Divine scheme for the redemption of the whole of humanity by spreading some sort of ethical monotheism involving an albeit incorrect idea of Messiah, Torah and Mitzvot. … Islam and Christianity are part of the overall process leading to the redemption [when] their imperfect ethical monotheism will be rectified through the adoption of the seven laws.” http://www.mesora.org/Christianity-Messiah.htm

      >Since you reject this criteria, and Judaism was established using miraculous works, then one could easily argue that the God of the Old Testament is a false god and that his prophets are sent by the true God to test us.

      Strange argument. What’s your source for rejecting the miracles of the OT in favor of some "truer God" if this principle comes straight from the OT? “God might test Israel with supernatural evidence” isn’t a free-floating a priori principle. It has a source and isn’t justifiable in its absence. You're sawin' off the branch you're sittin' on!

      >They claim to be a continuation of the religion, and you characterizing the Christian God as one the Israelites didn't know is a misrepresentation of Christian teaching.

      I'm denying the truth/coherency of the trinity, which isn't found in the Torah. I'm equally critical of Jewish additions: http://www.mesora.org/ToharHayihud.pdf

      >It'd be just as much a misinterpretation to say (for instance) that Allah is actually a pagan moon god.

      Allah is metaphysically identical to HaShem. It’s the authority of Mohammed and the Koran I’d dispute.

      Delete
    26. @Anonymous

      >God isn’t _morally_ good or bad. Those are category errors.

      I'm not attributing "goodness" to God in a univocal sense, so this point is moot. Even if God is "beyond good and evil" in the sense that he's not bound by the human senses of those terms, he's still perfectly good, correct? Then my point still stands. If God is the Author of Evil in the sense you mean it, then we cannot attribute benevolence to him in any meaningful sense.

      >How is the principle of a Christian philosopher ontologically prior to a revelation from God?

      In order to know whether a particular religion is the true religion, there must be some universally-applicable criteria. Considering that Jews, Christians, and Muslims point to miracles as evidence for their faith, it seems like evidence for miracles is evidence for a particular faith.

      You seem to want to say "you can only use miracles as evidence for Judaism. You can't use it for evidence of any other religion." Is this not the case? Also, citing Deuteronomy 13 won't help your case, as the interpretation of it is what's in contention.

      >I'm denying the truth/coherency of the trinity, which isn't found in the Torah.

      I deny the truth/coherency of Judaism as it exists in the modern day. So what? I don't claim that Jews and Muslims worship a God foreign to ours. The burden is on you to show that the Deuteronomy 13 excludes Christianity and Islam. The way I read it, it excludes idolatry/paganism.

      Delete
    27. @Mister Geocon
      I really don't understand the continued slander about "Rabbinic" Judaism, which is just normative Judaism used by Christians and Muslims today. Just read this:
      https://nojesus4jews.weebly.com/sophiees-blog/lies-about-rabbinical-judaism-the-rabbis-reversed-judaism
      This debunks that claim that in a Protocols of Elders of Zion style, the Rabbis with their manipulative ways tricked the Jewish people into accepting a new type of Judaism that they invented just so we Jews don't accept the true lord and savior JC... oh man the conspiracy theories... wild west out here.

      Delete
    28. > Can one believe in a God Who demands moral action from cognitive beings but didn't create a world governed by the same moral principles?

      No.

      > If not, why?

      Because that would be, were it true, reverse psychology and reverse logic. Reverse psychology is how parents bring up freak type children because those children think in reverse logic.

      > This debunks that claim that in a Protocols of Elders of Zion style, the Rabbis with their manipulative ways tricked the Jewish people into accepting a new type of Judaism that they invented just so we Jews don't accept the true lord and savior JC..

      Correct. The Jews have always accepted Rabbinical Judaism out of their own free will.

      > The question isn't whether Jesus fulfilled any prophecies; it's which ones.

      Let's grant that Jesus Christ didn't fulfill all of the messianic prophecies. Did he fulfill some of them? If he fulfilled at least one--regardless if he was a heretic by claiming to be God--then at the very least he is an archetype of the messiah like Cyrus the Great.

      Delete
    29. @BalancedTryteOperators
      i don't get it.. even if JC fufilled 1 of the messianic prophecies.. why does he get a free pass to return to finish the job? why can't other messiah claimants like Bar Kokhba get a second or third coming? why can't my grandpa get a second coming? i'm confused..

      Delete
    30. why can't David Ben Gurion get a second coming, i mean he gathered a lot of jews back to the land of Israel.. he could be the messiah you never know, sure seems like he fulfilled one of the requirements. he could come back to finish the job

      Delete
    31. @David I didn't say Jesus must fulfill the rest. I said if Jesus fulfilled at least one prophecy--again regardless if he was a pagan, because Cyrus was also a pagan but nonetheless a type of messiah, then that would AT LEAST make him a messiah archetype like Cyrus.

      Delete
    32. @David Yusupov

      >I really don't understand the continued slander about "Rabbinic" Judaism, which is just normative Judaism used by Christians and Muslims today.

      So you deny that Rabbinical Judaism is in any way different to Second Temple Judaism? There's no differences whatsoever? None?

      >Blah Blah Blah Protocols of the Elders of Zion

      Nobody here believes that a book that plagiarized a French fictional novel and claimed to be non-fiction is real. Are you saying that only people who read and believe the Protocols could possibly disagree with you?

      Delete
    33. @mister geocon
      If you actually read that article that I sent you, you would realize that there's nothing to deny this is an unsubstantiated canard that Christians and Muslims have been making to add validity to their religions. Christians claim that the rabbis changed Judaism with no real evidence painting the picture of a scheming rabbi straight out of the protocols of the learned elders of zion. And to add validity to their religion muslims claim just like the Christians that the rabbis again, straight out of the anti semitic protocols of the elders of zion textbook, changed Judaism AND the Torah, so it goes one step further than the Christians. So to answer your question, I don't "deny" anything because there isnt anything to deny it's a baseless claim.

      Delete
    34. @Mister Geocon

      Considering that Jews, Christians, and Muslims point to miracles as evidence for their faith, it seems like evidence for miracles is evidence for a particular faith.

      Regarding Islam this is wrong, or at the very least seriously misleading. The Quran explicitly states that Muhammad was not given the "signs" given to previous prophets. Traditionally Muhammad is indeed credited with a few miracles, but most are not canonical (that is, they need not be believed by the faithful) and the ones that are canonical are not intended to prove the truth of the Islamic religion since they had no witnesses (e.g., the mi'raj.

      Several Quranic verses make this clear:

      Say, "I hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe." (7:188).

      Then would you possibly leave [out] some of what is revealed to you, or is your breast constrained by it because they say, "Why has there not been sent down to him a treasure or come with him an angel?" But you are only a warner. And Allah is Disposer of all things. (11:12).

      And those who disbelieved say, "Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?" You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (13:7).

      But they say, "Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord?" Say, "The signs are only with Allah, and I am only a clear warner." (29:50).

      Delete
    35. @David Yusupov 9:32

      It seems to me your comment is as uncharitable towards Christians and Jews as you claim they are towards Jews. In the mainstream of neither religion is the alleged distortion held to have been done intentionally and with evil intent, no matter what some fringe individuals might have held at various times.

      Christians, if I understand correctly, claim that Jews have a true revelation from God, but they misunderstood it. This is quite different from "they knowingly falsified it". To claim that would be quite astounding, in my view, for if Jewish leaders (say, the Pharisees) were willing to adulterate their religion for wordly reasons, surely they would have done so in a way to bring it into compliance with Greco-Roman paganism.

      The Muslim view is different, but neither does it claim Jews and Christians knowingly "changed" their revelations. The claim is, rather, that the original revelations have been lost. They have just not been preserved up to our time. There is no chain of transmission (isnad) from their purported authors to the text we have today (unlike, it is claimed, there is both for the Quran and for the most trustworthy Hadith). Not for nothing Muslims will happily point out to the rediscovery of the law under King Josiah as proof that revelation had been lost, and will support modern theories such as the Q source of the Gospels as showing that the original claims of "Christianity" were much more modest that the finished product's.

      As a result, for Muslims, the actually existing texts of both the Tanakh and the New Testament are a mixture of truth and error, of some remnants of the original revelations given to the various prophets with extraneous materials - which, let me emphasize, need not have been put there maliciously. It could be just the result of pious individuals trying - and failing - to recover what they could of revelations that had been lost. The point is, since we cannot tell anymore what is trustworthy and what is not in the current text of the Bible, we should put our trust only in what is accepted as surely divinely revealed (the Quran) tells us about prophets earlier than Muhammad.

      Delete
    36. @Al
      All nice theories but just like mister geodon, it's clear that you didn't read the article I sent, or didn't do any proper research on the Jewish point of view before hopping on the "it was changed/ distorted/ lost/ corrupted" bandwagon.

      Delete
    37. Christians respect the Jewish fables due to the authority of the Church. The Church itself does not derive its authority from the Jewish fables. This argument was given by Belloc.

      Delete
    38. @David Yusupof

      Your original comment said Christians and Muslims claim "the rabbis changed Judaism". In neither case is the claim exact, for the reasons I set out in my response. It seems to me you didn't do any proper research on the Christian and Muslim points of view before hopping on the "they hold Protocols of the Elders of Zion-tier conspiracy theories against Jews" bandwadgon. Maybe I'm misundertanding your claim?

      And what it is about the Jewish point of view I'm missing? I think the Jewish point of view is simply, "we have the real revelation God sent down and we have not misunderstood it nor lost it". I certainly don't claim to know Jewish claims in any depth but I would be surprised to be wrong in this.

      Delete
    39. @Al
      Still haven't read that article I see.. I didn't hop on any bandwagon portraying rabbis in a certain way as diabolical or scheming is exactly how they are portrayed in anti semitic works like the POTEZ. As for researching the Christian and Islamic side of the argument, I'll have you know that I do that all the time.. I mean why would I be on Fesers blog if I didn't look at what other people besides Jews are writing. I was just sick and tired of people making the same debunked accusations against our Rabbis. Now, as for the Torah being corrupted which is a common Islamic claim, most of the "evidence" that I've seen Muslims provide to substantiate this claim comes from secular atheist bible critics who rely too much on vague conjecture and idiotic things like the Documentary Hypothesis. As for you looking into the Jewish point of view which i doubt you really have.. here's some material you can start with:
      Who Really Wrote the Bible?
      https://www.amazon.com/dp/0980076307/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Dg8nEbNZQGEZB
      Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/0190658800/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Nh8nEbHXXYBQQ
      http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_text.html

      Delete
    40. @Geocon

      >In order to know whether a particular religion is the true religion, there must be some universally-applicable criteria. Considering that Jews, Christians, and Muslims point to miracles as evidence for their faith, it seems like evidence for miracles is evidence for a particular faith.

      How does Aquinas' principle adjudicate between miracles from different traditions? It's worse than useless if it can't. Deut 13 puts the kibosh on any miracles performed on behalf of "gods which you have not known."

      1) When did the Israelites worship a son of God? Please cite the chapter and verse. There is only one reference to the son of God in the Torah: Exodus 4:22. There is one reference to God being a man: Numbers 23:19. There are no references to it eventually being "fulfilled" by a miracle-worker.

      2) When did they conceive of God as a triune being? Deut 6:4 is absolutely foundational: http://www.jewfaq.org/shemaref.htm.

      Given 1 & 2, Jesus represented "gods which you have not known." Game over.

      >You seem to want to say "you can only use miracles as evidence for Judaism."

      What I'm saying is that given 1 & 2, any miracles performed by "the son of God" who said "no one comes to the father except through me" (among other novelties, like he and the father being one) are fulfillments of Deut 13. This isn't the God that took them out of Egypt.

      >citing Deuteronomy 13 won't help your case, as the interpretation of it is what's in contention.

      What contention? Are you sticking with the claim that it's self-referentially inconsistent? You'll need to argue for that position. My question was this: What’s your source for rejecting the Torah in favor of some "truer God"? The criteria in Deut 13 comes from the Torah. It isn’t some free-floating universally applicable a priori thingamajig. It has a source and isn’t justifiable in its absence.

      Originally I wrote: "Pretend the NT doesn't exist. Just try. It's a thought experiment. How do you interpret this passage (Deut 13)?"

      You wrote: "Applied as consistently as possible in the way that you interpret it, we ought to reject every miracle and signs in general as signs of deception sent from God to test us"

      I mostly agree, though I'd pick nits with the term "deception" and it would only be miracles that flatly contradict the Torah. What Deut 13 says is that Aquinas is wrong. Supernatural evidence doesn't necessarily prove anything.

      >The burden is on you to show that the Deuteronomy 13 excludes Christianity and Islam. The way I read it, it excludes idolatry/paganism.

      Actually the "burden of proof" is on any religion that claims 1 & 2. But if you want a demonstration of the idolatrous nature of the trinity, see this: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide/comments/c8x3sh/the_essential_shamanstk_idolatry_is_worshiping

      Delete
    41. I'm very proud of the fact that I asked a question that left him lost for words :D For reference, this was the question:

      I said if Jesus fulfilled at least one prophecy--again regardless if he was a pagan, because Cyrus was also a pagan but nonetheless a type of messiah, then that would AT LEAST make him a messiah archetype like Cyrus.

      (Implicit question: why do you think Jesus Christ is not a messianic archetype, regardless of his beliefs of his own Judaism or apistasy, if he fulfilled AT LEAST ONE prophecy?)

      Delete
    42. I've been skimming through.

      Is there really confusion as to the whole miracle supports a religion thing?!

      It's not difficult. If a someone claims to speak for God and performs miracles *which we have good reason* to be believe happened, then its evidence that God has shown said person to be representing him.

      Ofcourse the details matter. Maybe someone performs a miracle but makes no religious claims. There are cases where a miracle doesn't have any religious significance (someone prays to get healed and does).

      Does this leave the abrahamic Faith's in a stalemate because they all *claim* miracles prove their religion? No because it's not simple claims but the *evidence* that matters. And you can compare and contrast evidence between miracle claims to see which stack up.

      Also, if you're going to compare the torah to the new testament historically, good luck. Its *incredibly difficult to historically judge most of the Torah (and so judge its miracles). Its from a time where little external evidence can be checked

      Delete
    43. Let's consider Deuteronomy 13 a little more carefully. What does it say should be done with this evil false prophet? It says:

      "But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst."

      That's exactly what happened to Jesus, and what was the result? He was raised from the dead. That, I would argue, is the one thing God could *not* do to the Deut. 13 prophet, because by raising him from the dead, He would be keeping the people from "purg[ing] the evil from [their] midst." In fact, Jesus came back and founded the church.

      So I think the resurrection is the one miracle that your theory can NOT countenance, precisely because of the words of Deut. 13. It is uniquely a way for God to show His endorsement of Jesus the Christ's teachings.

      Delete
    44. @SMack

      I can't state the problem better than this:

      >If the Torah does not authorize the rise of chrstianity, then chrstianity simply cannot be true, regardless of how many miracles it claims--even when they are witnessed publicly.

      >What chrstianity lives or dies by is its claim to be the "fulfillment" of Judaism. Even if all its miracles or its other claims are true, if it is not the fulfillment of Judaism, then it is not what it claims to be and must be rejected.

      >It cannot "prove" that it is the fulfillment of Judaism by merely quoting its own sources and its own claims, but this is all it has ever done or all that it will ever do, for the simple reason that the Hebrew Bible says absolutely nothing about Jsus or chrstianity--unless one grants chrstianity the right to authoritatively interpret it. And one who does this believes in chrstianity already.

      >Does the Hebrew Bible obviously and objectively authorize chrstianity apart from chrstianity's own interpretations? No it does not. So chrstianity must be rejected, whether Jsus was "born of a virgin," "rose from the dead," or anything else.

      >Judaism is based on the Revelation at Sinai, in light of which all other claims of revelation must be judged. The eisegesis of chrstianity into that Revelation is just that: a foreign intrusion made in light of a later claim to "revelation." But later claims to revelation do not sit in judgment on Sinai. It sits in judgment on them.

      >By what authority to you accept the gospel and its interpretation of the Hebrew Bible? Its own? That of Jsus? That of the Church? You realize none of that is any different from accepting mormonism in the name of Joseph Smith, right? No . . . you obviously don't.

      >Do any of you out there even understand what I'm saying? That the Torah either explicitly declares itself a temporary "preparation" for the coming demigod messiah or else this claim is groundless and based on nothing but its own assumptions?

      >Considering that the Torah had been given a thousand years prior, and made it very clear that it was to be adhered to for all time, the glorious resurrection of Jsus is irrelevant.

      >"It was Christ, too, Who revealed Himself to Moses and led the Jews to Palestine."

      >I am quite aware that this is chrstianity's claim. But Israel received the Torah from HaShem, not Jsus. That Jsus is (lehavdil!) HaShem is a chrstian claim that comes entirely from chrstianity. It does not come from the Hebrew Bible. Once again you are assuming your conclusion without proving it. Are you intentionally being illogical, or can you simply not say anything else?

      >On what grounds to chrstians even believe the "new testament" or the church has the competence to authoritatively interpret the Hebrew Bible? Can you ever see this assumption for what it is? Are you all really under some sort of spell that prevents you from seeing the logical fallacy you are trapped in? https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide/comments/8iuvvc/the_quotable_zionist_conspirator_if_the_torah

      Delete
    45. Appealing to REDDIT of all the damned and judged by God places on the Internet?! Are you going to appeal to 4chan in your next comment?!

      "Never Go on Reddit" - Neil Cicierega

      Delete
    46. @BalancedTryteOperators

      He's a former catholic. He knows more about your religion than you do. And he'd never make an absurd ad hominem argument about the source of a position, where it's posted. Fyi, it was on Free Republic originally. (As if blogspot makes statements true!)

      I notice you ignored the argument. Because you have to.

      Delete
    47. @Anonymous,

      Well, you're dodging my point. My point was aimed at a particular that you (really, your source) made, and I refuted it. That is, I showed that, contra your claim, Jesus' miracles and resurrection cannot consistently be accepted and Him still rejected, even in light of Deut. 13.

      Instead of responding in any way to what I said, you moved on to another point. Your new point is that Jesus cannot be Messiah unless the Torah authorizes Him. I agree. Of course, as a Christian, I will say that Deut. 18 is that authorization (and that, as the OT prophets laid out, the OT was permanent in principle but not in fact, because too often violated). You say that's not true, but all you're offering is question-begging against me. I'm going to say, of course, that Jesus' miracles are precisely Divine authorization of this interpretation, which is coherent with the Torah, the prophets, and the history of Israel.

      That's an argument for Christianity. You've given nothing to refute it.

      Delete
    48. Oh, and by the way -- it's not that the church, per se, or any human, has the authority to interpret the Torah. But God does, and that's what He did when He raised Jesus from the dead. (You'll dissent, of course. But you're allowing the resurrection, so I see your dissent as impotent.)

      Delete
    49. @SMack

      >Let's consider Deuteronomy 13 a little more carefully. What does it say should be done with this evil false prophet?

      “YOU SHALL NOT HEED THE WORDS OF THAT PROPHET, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your God, is testing you. … You shall follow the Lord, your God, fear Him, keep His commandments, heed His voice, worship Him, and cleave to Him.” 13:4-5

      “For you shall hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you THIS DAY, to do that which is proper in the eyes of the Lord, your God.” 13:19

      Under what conditions does it say they should follow the prophet? As I’ve posted above, in the Hebrew Bible this chapter begins with “Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.” (It’s the last verse of chap 12 in your bible). Where are the extra instructions about dropping the “everlasting covenant” “binding for all your generations” in favor of a whole new interface iff he says he’s the son of God and does X?

      > He was raised from the dead. That, I would argue, is the one thing God could *not* do to the Deut. 13 prophet, because by raising him from the dead, He would be keeping the people from "purg[ing] the evil from [their] midst."

      It says to kill the prophet. “Purging the evil” is defined as doing this. How did Jesus remain in the “midst” of the Torah True community who didn’t follow him? Why can’t the test be ongoing, or have more than one ultimate purpose (like introducing the world to the “Old Testament” and it’s key concepts?)

      >So I think the resurrection is the one miracle that your theory can NOT countenance, precisely because of the words of Deut. 13. It is uniquely a way for God to show His endorsement of Jesus the Christ's teachings.

      And Deut 13 says this where? Show me “worship Jesus the Christ” in the Torah. Or anywhere. You can't. Maybe my previous post wasn’t misdirected.

      Here’s some good resources on Deut 18:
      http://thejewishhome.org/counter/Deut18.pdf

      https://nojesus4jews.weebly.com/365-prophecy-index.html


      Delete
    50. If killing Him was supposed to purge the evil, then it certainly failed, didn't it? That's why we're having this conversation. And it failed precisely because God resurrected him.

      Contra the words of Deut. 13.

      I already read that stuff on Deut. 18. I get that that's the Jewish position. But I don't think that holding that and also accepting the resurrection is consistent.

      What is your position on the prophets, btw? I know you don't view them as equal to the Torah. But do you view them as wrong?

      Delete
    51. @SMack

      1) The Torah explicitly says God will use supernatural evidence on behalf of false religions to test Israel. False religions are identified as those recognizing “gods which you have not known.”

      2) The Torah contains NOTHING about Jesus the Christ, son of God, who is also fully God, the "symbolic fulfillment" of the Law and messianic prophecies. That's emphatically not the God who took them out of Egypt, who commanded the following:

      And I will establish My covenant between Me and between you and between your seed after you THROUGHOUT their generations as an EVERLASTING COVENANT. (Genesis 17:7)

      And [Passover] shall be for you as a memorial, and you shall celebrate it as a festival for the Lord; THROUGHOUT your generations, you shall celebrate it as an EVERLASTING STATUTE. (Exodus 12:14)

      Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath THROUGHOUT their generations as an EVERLASTING COVENANT. BETWEEN ME AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, it is _FOREVER_ a sign that [in] six days The Lord created the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and rested. (Exodus 31:16-17)

      [This is] an ETERNAL STATUTE for ALL your generations, in all your dwelling places: You shall not eat any blood or fat. (Lev. 3:17)

      [Yom Kippur] is a Sabbath of rest for you, and you shall afflict yourselves. It is an ETERNAL STATUTE. (Lev. 16:31)

      And you shall celebrate [Succoth] as a festival to the Lord for seven days in the year. [It is] an ETERNAL STATUTE throughout your generations [that] you celebrate it in the seventh month. (Lev. 23:41)

      Do not add to the word which I command you, nor diminish from it, to observe the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2, 13:1)

      Please show me the Torah source of your claim that Special Miracles on behalf of Jesus the Christ, son of God, who is also fully God, the "symbolic fulfillment" of the Law and messianic prophecies cancels or changes any of the above.

      Regarding the Prophets, I admire William Craig's honesty:

      >When you look at the prophecies in the Old Testament they give virtually no clue that Messiah isn’t going to be this triumphant king.

      >This is what was supposed to happen. His government was supposed to be without end, and he was supposed to rule in Jerusalem. So scholars are generally agreed that you can’t explain the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection by saying they went back to the Old Testament and found these proof texts that would lead them to think that he is risen from the dead. Those proof texts just aren’t there.

      >I think we need to be quite candid with our Jewish friends and say apart from the event of Jesus and what happened, you wouldn’t ever think that these prophesies were talking about these things.

      >[H]ow does Paul interpret this problem? He says, whenever Jews read the Scriptures, a veil lies over their minds so that they can’t understand it. He says only when a person comes to the Lord is the veil removed, and he says this comes from the Spirit of Christ.

      >Now prior to Jesus, [Isaiah 53] wasn’t read in that way. That wasn’t read as being a Messianic passage. Even in that passage, I think the resurrection is hinted at, but it is not something that you would infer unless you were looking for it.” https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide/comments/9m71k7/william_craig_when_you_look_at_the_prophecies_in

      There's no "veil" over my mind. To the contrary. BTW, where does Paul get his authority? Nathan of Gaza, too, had a dream: https://scholarship.tricolib.brynmawr.edu/bitstream/handle/10066/8207/2012BenjaminP_thesis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

      Delete
    52. EDIT: I forgot some "everlasting" stuff. Easy to do. It's everywhere.

      And God said: "This is the sign of the covenant, which I am placing between Me and between you, and between every living soul that is with you, FOR EVERLASTING GENERATIONS. … And the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will see it, to remember THE EVERLASTING COVENANT between God and between every living creature among all flesh, which is on the earth." (Genesis 9:12,16)

      What's contained in this covenant? Was God wrong to assign it to "everlasting generations"?

      False starts appear in Acts 15 and Jubilees. The Talmud has discussions dating from the early second temple period.

      Delete
    53. Yes, it was everlasting if they didn't break it. If they did, they would be scattered and driven away, and etc. They were.

      You didn't directly answer my question, by the way -- please do. Do you believe the prophets were of God / telling truth?

      Delete
    54. @SMack

      >it was everlasting if they didn't break it.

      Source?

      >If they did, they would be scattered and driven away, and etc. They were.

      And what does Deut. 30:1-10 say? "The Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you. ... And you will return and listen to the voice of the Lord, and fulfill ALL His commandments, which I command you THIS DAY. ... For the Lord will once again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your forefathers, when you obey the Lord, your God, to observe His commandments and His statutes WRITTEN IN THIS TORAH SCROLL."

      For the last time: Where does He command them to follow the son of God?

      >Do you believe the prophets were of God / telling truth?

      The Nevi’im (Prophets) are a step lower than the Torah. They were not written by God Himself. They were written by the Prophets in their own words under the spirit of nevu’ah (prophecy). They are not higher than the Torah. If any prophet had ever prophesied that one day the Torah would be “fulfilled” and replaced by something else, he would have been put to death as a false prophet; and certainly his “prophecy” would not have been canonized by the ‘Anshei-HaKeneset HaGedolah (the Men of the Great Assembly), which was made up of genuine Prophets and Biblical figures like Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Malachi, Mordecai (of the Purim story), and the High Priests Yehoshua and Shimon HaTzaddik.

      The Nevi'im and Ketuvim were canonized to be read only until the coming of Mashiach, after which they will no longer be relevant. In the Messianic era, only the Torah and the Scroll of Esther will still be retained and read liturgically in the prayer service as they are today.

      Big fan of Hosea: For the children of Israel shall remain for many days, having neither king, nor prince, nor sacrifice, nor pillar, nor ephod nor teraphim. Afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God and David their king, and they shall come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness at the end of days. (Hosea 3:4-5)

      Delete
    55. "For the last time: Where does He command them to follow the son of God?"

      In Deut. 18, of course. But we're not going to agree about this point.

      I mean, he doesn't call him that. But he doesn't call him anything. Where in the Constitution does it say to make Donald Trump President?

      As for Deut. 30: indeed, and they were brought back from exile to the land. And the prophets who predicted both the exile and the return predicted Christ. For example, Jeremiah 31:31-34:

      “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

      Delete
    56. >Where in the Constitution does it say to make Donald Trump President?

      This is not remotely analogous to the question "Where in the Torah does it tell us Who to worship as God?"

      >And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord

      But I'm trying to teach you about God and you're trying to teach me. How can Jeremiah 31 apply to the NT or the current situation? Nobody agrees on theology. Our conversation is proof that this verse doesn't apply to the NT. You're quoting it because your bible contains a NT and you simply assume its authority from the get-go. (I did this too when I was a Christian.)

      That passage says a new covenant between Israel and Judah. Where are the instructions for gentiles? You didn't respond to my question about God's covenant with them:

      And God said: "This is the sign of the covenant, which I am placing between Me and between you, and between every living soul that is with you, FOR EVERLASTING GENERATIONS. … And the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will see it, to remember THE EVERLASTING COVENANT between God and between every living creature among all flesh, which is on the earth." (Genesis 9:12,16)

      Was God wrong to assign it to "everlasting generations"? False starts appear in Acts 15 and Jubilees. The Talmud has discussions dating from the early second temple period, which is long before your religion started. The NT has no authority to add or subtract from it.

      Delete
    57. Returning to an earlier theme on whether God causes "evil," Aquinas on predestination is a revelation: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide/comments/f0dlfn/catholic_predestination

      Tell me more about how mean God would be to test Israel with a miracle-worker. (Free will "problem" my eye.)

      Per Maimonides, something like "free will" is baked into reality. For instance, the very chosen-ness of Israel was an historic contingency: If Abraham hadn't rediscovered monotheism with a cosmo argument, if it had been a Navajo, then his descendants would have had big brother status among the nations and the Torah would have been set in Nevada (I'd love to read the one where it's the Irish. We'd botch things in different and interesting ways.) Hezekiah could have launched the Messianic Era but didn't share his good news with the gentiles. The Exodus could have culminated in the Messianic Era: https://www.amazon.com/Exodus-You-Almost-Passed-Over/dp/0997347600

      Predestination is Squaresville, daddy-o. There's no predestined salvation from eternal damnation in the TaNaKh.

      Delete
    58. The point is that Jeremiah 31 says that there will be a new covenant and it will be unlike the old; contra your assertion that the old must be eternal *no matter what happens.*

      I'm not sure what your point about the Noahic covenant is. That's a different covenant than the one with Israel / Moses. Why are you quoting Gen. 9?

      Also, I'm quoting from the OT, not from the NT, so I don't see why you're accusing me of circular reasoning. You just said you do accept the prophets.

      Delete
    59. @SMack

      The point is that this has nothing to do with the NT. Jeremiah 31:30-34 wasn’t fulfilled during the first century. It contains two prophecies: the ingathering of the Jewish People to Israel and universal knowledge of God. I can check Drudge and see these haven’t happened. What law was written on the hearts of everyone in the house of Israel and the house of Judah, given which they no longer need to teach each other about God? Israel is a secular democracy (groan!) and the earth is sunk in theological darkness.

      Why don’t Christians quote verses 29-30, which seem to belie the concept of vicarious atonement. “Everyone shall die for his own iniquity.” That's weird. And there’s the awkward verse 36: “If the heavens above will be measured and the foundations of the earth below will be fathomed, I too will reject all the seed of Israel because of all they did, says the Lord.”

      >and it will be unlike the old; contra your assertion that the old must be eternal *no matter what happens.*

      My assertion? I quoted umpteen passages written by Almighty God on the eternal contents of the Torah, practically begged you for anything about Jesus the Christ, and you said “Where in the Constitution does it say to make Donald Trump President.”

      Where does Jeremiah say the old covenant is canceled, that it’s not eternal? Hebrews 8:13 says that, Jeremiah doesn’t. The only difference between the two covenants is where they reside. The original Sinai Covenant was placed in the mouths of the Israelites: Exodus 13:9 – “And it shall be to you for a sign upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, in order that the Torah of the Lord shall be in your mouth.” This contract was verbally agreed to, as indicated in Exodus 24:3,7. Jeremiah says, "I will inscribe it upon their heart." It says nothing about canceling the Torah; it describes a new means of access that won’t require theological debate. We're not waiting for "the end of the world" or "doomsday" or the world burning up. We're waiting for the Kingdom of God on earth--literally, complete with universal knowledge of God and world peace. This is what the Prophets were prophesying about.

      > I don't see why you're accusing me of circular reasoning.

      I don’t accept the NT’s authority to interpret the TaNaKh. Period. You’re quoting its deceptively truncated proof-text and Rube Goldberg interpretation like it flows organically from what Jeremiah wrote. It obviously doesn’t. Again, are we or are we not trying to teach each other about God? How is this compatible with verse 33? Don’t let cognitive dissonance + the sunk-cost fallacy guide your theology.

      >You just said you do accept the prophets.

      Testify: Isaiah 2:1-4, Ezekiel 37:24-28, Zechariah 8:22-23, Micah 4:1-3, and countless others that have nada to do with Jesus. It must be that “veil” covering my mind that Paul writes about. I can’t find one reference to Jesus the son of God anywhere in the Prophets.

      > I'm not sure what your point about the Noahic covenant is. That's a different covenant than the one with Israel / Moses.

      It was just another example of an everlasting covenant, only it applies to all non-Jewish human for everlasting generations. Most of the laws in the Torah don’t apply to gentiles then or now.

      Delete
    60. EDIT: Again, are we or are we not trying to teach each other about God? How is this compatible with verse _34_?

      How can anyone cite this on behalf of the NT?! Because the NT says so.

      Delete
    61. Too late to get in the weeds, but I would like to make a general comment. It is my general impression that Anonymous is proceeding as if modern Judaism (in whatever form you take it) is not itself a re-interpretation of the Torah inside a specific tradition, which is a preposterous proposition. There is no more temple; no longer sacrifices are being offered to Yaweh; if we go through the prescriptions of the Mosaic law I am pretty sure many of them have been laid to the wayside. To take on the hard task of exegesis of the passages of the Old Testament is all a necessary part of the argument between Christians and Jews, and it will depend on the assumptions one brings to the table and the priors one has. Presumably, Anonymous accepts the Old Testament as authoritative and the true voice of God on some kind of argument that attests it as divine revelation; so does the Christian, whose starting point is the resurrection of the Lord, and through which lens the Old Testament must be interpreted. Anonymous protests. As per my reasons above, he protests too much.

      Delete
    62. >Too late to get in the weeds

      You could at least read the posts.

      >There is no more temple; no longer sacrifices are being offered to Yaweh; if we go through the prescriptions of the Mosaic law I am pretty sure many of them have been laid to the wayside.

      Deja vu ad infinitum. Hosea 3 says what? "For the children of Israel shall remain for many days, having neither king, nor prince, nor sacrifice, nor pillar, nor ephod nor teraphim. Afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God and David their king, and they shall come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness at the END OF DAYS."

      The "evidence" you cited against Judaism was foretold by the Prophets and Deut 28 (also cited above). It's actually evidence for my religion. In the "end of days," after a brutal exile, Israel will have a King and they'll seek "the Lord their God." Has this happened? It doesn't say a word about any son of God replacing the Torah's Laws. It doesn't say to worship the Messiah as a deity either. You're doing it wrong.

      >the Christian, whose starting point is the resurrection of the Lord, and through which lens the Old Testament must be interpreted.

      Because ... the NT says so, the authority of which is the point in contention. Who's on first?

      You know that exhaustion you feel when your protestant friends rattle off their fave verses "proving" the solas, and you have to break it to them that only the magisterium has the sacred authority to interpret scripture, that Marty & Co. may as well be pitching Jainism? That's my position against the NT. The Torah is the heritage of Jacob. In the end of days Israel will have a King and a Temple where he performs animal sacrifices (those scary ones that Leviticus says are eternal).


      >To take on the hard task of exegesis of the passages of the Old Testament is all a necessary part of the argument between Christians and Jews, and it will depend on the assumptions one brings to the table and the priors one has.

      It's a hard task for you because the TaNaKh never says it's going to be replaced by Jesus the son of God. Philosophic conservative here. My dear liberal friend, new things have to establish themselves against that which has already been established. Israel read the Torah without the NT for over a thousand years. Your "priors" include the truth of your conclusion, that you have the authority to reinterpret the Hebrew Bible. How do you respond to Moslems and Mormons who have their own consequent-affirming priors regarding the NT? Do you treat it as serious evidence requiring the "hard task of exegesis"?

      Delete
    63. So, we can each assert our own interpretations back and forth to each other ad infinitum, and you can keep saying I'm quoting the NT when I'm not, and etc.

      I'm making arguments only from what YOU accept as Scripture. Whatever Jeremiah 31 means, it is clear that it means that the covenant that you keep asserting cannot possibly ever be changed or replaced is, in fact, going to be changed and/or replaced.

      That's not me saying anything about Jesus, or Paul, or anything else. It's me saying something about you, to wit: you're wrong about the Mosaic covenant.

      "It was just another example of an everlasting covenant, only it applies to all non-Jewish human for everlasting generations. Most of the laws in the Torah don’t apply to gentiles then or now."

      Agreed.

      Delete
    64. @SMack

      >we can each assert our own interpretations back and forth to each other ad infinitum

      Back and forth? I'm still waiting for your interpretation of the passage that says we won't have to teach each other about God because "they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest." Zero is a long way from ad infinitum. I've told you what it means and how it can't possibly apply to any period in the last 2k years. You haven't responded. Do you think you can just flash the words NEW COVENANT and I'll fall into some trance? For the last time:

      1) Are we teaching each other about God? It sure seems like it. I deny that Jesus was divine in any way. I maintain that HaShem alone Is God, that the TaNaKh never authorizes Jesus or Paul or Mohammed or John Smith, that the only True Religion was given at Sinai and all subsequent claimants are imposters. This is what I've been trying to teach you about God. And you're trying to teach me I'm wrong.

      2) How is #1 compatible with a new covenant characterized by no one teaching each other about God? Are we currently in the Messianic Era? Did Jesus usher it in? Why are strangers debating fundamental issues in theology/ontology during a new covenant when "no longer shall one teach his neighbor or [shall] one [teach] his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest"?

      >I'm making arguments only from what YOU accept as Scripture.

      Heh. And it’s just an amazing coincidence the passage is identical to the one in Hebrews, which conveniently chops off verses that refute the meaning your religion asserts. Shame on me for noticing, and demonstrating it doesn't stand alone or mean what you think.

      >Whatever Jeremiah 31 means,

      Whatever? Dude, don’t harsh my mellow with all your Bible words. Whatever it means it has to mean what you keep repeating and you can ignore my arguments. I haven’t seen such a stirring use of ‘whatever’ since Hegel.

      >it is clear that it means that the covenant that you keep asserting cannot possibly ever be changed or replaced is, in fact, going to be changed and/or replaced.

      I quoted a verse you conveniently omitted: If the heavens above will be measured and the foundations of the earth below will be fathomed, I too will reject all the seed of Israel because of all they did, says the Lord. 31:36

      Does your interpretation of Jeremiah 31 entail that Israel will lose their status as God's Chosen Nation? Don't be coy. This isn't a Jane Austen novel. We both know it does. How is that interpretation compatible with this verse?

      If you agree that the Noachide Covenant is everlasting, what difference does it make what arrangements God makes with Israel? Nothing hinges on Jeremiah 31 for us. It explicitly says a covenant between Judah and Israel. Show me the new covenant with gentiles in Jeremiah. You can't, so why are you quoting it.

      Delete
    65. A little less attitude there would go a long way, my dude.

      "Back and forth? I'm still waiting for your interpretation of the passage that says we won't have to teach each other about God because 'they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest.'"

      That will be fulfilled at the eschaton.

      And no, Israel will never cease being a nation before Him. There will always indeed be a remnant.

      Incidentally, who's selectively quoting now? v. 37:

      "Thus says the Lord:
      “If the heavens above can be measured,
      and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
      then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
      for all that they have done,
      declares the Lord.”"

      So He says He will not reject ALL the offspring of Israel. He does not say that at every intermediate time, they will be the unique chosen nation and nobody else will be grafted in. Much as you might try to sneak the word "Chosen nation" into the passage where it is not.

      Yes, we're trying to teach each other about God. See above.

      You too must accept that there are multi-part fulfilments of prophecy. After all, there is no sacrifice system being practiced today, notwithstanding the "forevers."

      Incidentally, a question: the Jews being driven from Israel and the collapse of the sacrificial system is clearly, in the Torah, a punishment for breaking the covenant. How, according to you, did they do that during the second temple period?

      Delete
    66. Ultimately, it is God who interprets Himself. You are ignoring His clear work interpreting Himself, rejecting a prophet who never taught anybody to worship any God but Jehovah, and whom God accredited by resurrection (something never dreamed of in Deut. 13); at your peril. I pray you will renounce your rebellion against God's anointed.

      Delete
    67. @SMack

      >That will be fulfilled at the eschaton.

      Which means this prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled. Thanks. That’s what I’ve been saying. Kinda zaps the evidence for your position that this covenant (whatever it is) already replaced the old one.

      Where does Jeremiah mention an eschaton? He doesn’t. That’s an epicycle posited by your church (along with grafting). Judah & Israel will have God’s Law inscribed upon their hearts AND no longer shall one teach his neighbor about God. They go together. You can’t have this new covenant absent its definitive features.

      >You too must accept that there are multi-part fulfilments of prophecy

      I’ve cited several prophecies that haven’t been fulfilled in this thread, like the one in Hosea involving the end of days.

      >at your peril. I pray you will renounce your rebellion against God's anointed.

      Speaking of prophecies unfulfilled, when was Jesus anointed king of Israel? He simply fails ALL the Messianic requirements: http://thejewishhome.org/counter/Wanted.pdf

      Do you really think God tortures people for having the wrong theology? Condolences. That’s defamation of character, and it's not in the TaNaKh. Our differences go far deeper than this verse or that. They're different paradigms: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide/comments/8jk2g1/a_noachides_response_to_chrstianity

      Peace out.

      Delete
    68. "Which means this prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled. Thanks. That’s what I’ve been saying. Kinda zaps the evidence for your position that this covenant (whatever it is) already replaced the old one."

      So you agree that the old covenant will be replaced. That's all I've been saying.

      Delete
    69. "You know that exhaustion you feel when your protestant friends rattle off their fave verses "proving" the solas, and you have to break it to them that only the magisterium has the sacred authority to interpret scripture"

      You are arguing like a tiresome protestant, I will give you that, but for your information what you quote is not (part of the) the argument against Sola Scriptura. And since you are quoting the purported argument approvingly, and since it is a patent case of question begging, it follows you are begging the question, and admit it implicitly.

      "Because ... the NT says so, the authority of which is the point in contention. Who's on first?"

      Don't be an idiot. There is more historical evidence for the resurrection than for any of the miracles testified in the Old Testament; taking your objection to your logical conclusion, why the heck do you believe God gave a divine revelation to the Jewish people in the first place? You may not find the evidence for the resurrection anywhere near compelling, but reducing it to a mere question of authority of the NT is just dumbassery. And no, my point of contention was not whether the NT has authority or not.

      "It's a hard task for you because the TaNaKh never says it's going to be replaced by Jesus the son of God. Philosophic conservative here. My dear liberal friend, new things have to establish themselves against that which has already been established. Israel read the Torah without the NT for over a thousand years. Your "priors" include the truth of your conclusion, that you have the authority to reinterpret the Hebrew Bible."

      I do not know how you manage to pull "liberal friend" from your ass, as I am neither a liberal (political or otherwise) nor your friend. Your mischaracterizations are also tiresome: that it is a hard task is not because of what the Tanakh says or does not say (what a stupid aside), it is simply an empirical fact -- it is not like there is wholesale agreement over the meaning of the OT. That Israel read the Torah without the NT is a quite obvious historical fact that solves nothing. My point was that to talk of Christians "re-interpreting" as if you yourself are not engaging in an interpretative act, is nothing but pure delusion. It has nothing to do with authority.

      And since this is going nowhere, I beg your leave.

      Delete
    70. @ grodrigues

      > I beg your leave.

      Is this Henry James?

      > idiot… dumbassery… stupid…

      Nope.

      >There is more historical evidence for the resurrection than for any of the miracles testified in the Old Testament

      I’m not denying the resurrection; I’M DENYING IT’S EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY. Wrap your mind around that argument. It’s the new kid on the block. I’m pulling the rug out from under you. The TaNaKh says God will send prophets to test Israel with miracles on behalf of bogus religions. It never, not once, not anywhere says the son of God will fulfill it. My explanatory paradigm explains this better than yours. That’s my argument. Maybe you can respond to it. Pro-tip: read the failed attempts above before trying.

      > why the heck do you believe God gave a divine revelation to the Jewish people in the first place?

      Ahem: http://www.mesora.org/god. Didn’t Jesus believe in it? He not only affirmed Moses’ authorship of the Torah, he spoke of the days of Noah. Jesus wasn’t a reform rabbi. If there's no reason to believe in the Revelation at Sinai why the heck do you follow someone who claimed to fulfill the Law given there? This. Makes. No. Sense. And it's nothing short of hypocrisy to chide someone who believes what your lord & savior explicitly affirmed.

      > it is not like there is wholesale agreement over the meaning of the OT.

      Who does it say has the authority to interpret it? The heritage of ___? The Torah isn’t addressed to gentiles at all.

      General point that’s been raised several times: Deut 18 refers to a prophet. “I will set up a prophet for them from among their brothers like you, and I will put My words into his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him.” In the Hebrew Bible, every single prophet and prophetess without exception was a human being with a human mommy & daddy. A prophet is a mortal who has a vision of HaShem, receives a message and puts it into his own words. Prophets have different levels of access, with Moses having the greatest. The Christian claim is that Jesus was God. You don’t get to redefine ‘prophet’ like this. (Or to redefine ‘Messiah.’ Or twist Deut 6:4 into a trinity.) Parse Deut 18 with the prophet = God: “I will put My words into My mouth, and he/I/we will speak to them all that I command Me/us/them.” Makes perfect sense!

      Delete
    71. Man, I can be a jerk! My apologies for the attitude. I'm funnier in person. (Well, less awful.)

      My points stand, of course.

      Note to Dr. Feser: for some of us you're the Indiana Jones of Classical Theism. Word.

      Delete
    72. There is literally nothing a Christian can do or say to convince the other anon of the veracity of Christianity.
      Even though he is interpreting the Scriptures himself and liable to error, if you propose Christian interpretations, he can just say that they are Christian interpretations and thereby false; if you show some authenticating miracle, well, then that just may be God making it appear as though something is authentic, even when the miracle is precisely antithetical to the resolution of the problem of a false prophet (putting him to death).
      In this way, if these assumptions are held firmly, there is no way to accept the Christian revelation. This does seem to me as a veil against truth indeed.

      If one is absolutely closed to any other possible interpretations of Scripture, the exercise is pointless, but if any (and I mean any) doubt is to be had about any of the possible interpretations, one should at least be open to the truth.

      You will note the plural character of the word God in Scripture (Elohim). Secondly, you can note a couple times where it sure seems like God is not only One Person in Scripture:
      Isaiah 48:11-16
      Or consider the emphases on thrice times: "Holy, Holy, Holy"
      Or the blessing in Numbers 6:22.
      Or how Eli knew Samuel was called by the LORD by the third time he was called.
      Could it not be that there was some sort of recognition of the persons of God? Even that which demonstrates Divine Unity: "The Lord your God is One Lord" has this character of thrice naming the LORD. (By the way, we believe in Divine Unity, but do note that the "one" here (echad) is the same as the "one" flesh a man and woman are made unto in marriage.)
      After all, was it not He who said, ‘Let US make man in OUR Image, after OUR likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth"?

      If Jesus is who He said He is, then He would know the proper interpretation in contrast to all the varying schools of thought.
      If you read the Old Testament slowly and carefully, and then slowly and carefully read the New Testament, it becomes very clear that the New is so very Jewish with so many fulfillments and allusions.
      You say the Commandments are said to be forever. Though that is how it is often translated, the literal meaning of the word (olam) is "long duration", "until the end of a period of time", etc. Le-olam means "unto an age" and ad-olam means "until an age". Sometimes the usage can even mean only until the end of a man's life, such as in Exodus 14:13. Dueternomy 23:3 uses the term when it explicitly mentions a point of time that it either points to or beyond, i.e. the 10th generation. As a Christian, the actual definition of the words sort of perfectly describe them. We believe Christ fulfilled the Law and established a New Covenant for all peoples.

      The interpretation of Deuternomy as being against Christ presupposes that Christ is asking people to worship other gods, but that is precisely the opposite of what He does. He explicitly supports Moses. He tells others to keep the Commandments. It is AFTER He is risen from the dead is the commission given to baptize all people: The Church (as it is today) was established after He rose from the dead! You cannot put Him to death! It was after He fulfilled the Law!
      Shall you say, "Nay, though He has done great works and come back from the dead and, if He be a truth-teller, knows perfectly the Torah and the correct oral tradition, my rabbi and I more correctly interpret the Scriptures"? Please, don't!

      Delete
    73. As an Orthodox Jew, I've always been dumbfounded by the argument from ressurection so many apologists use. It all rest on an assumption that supernatural occurrences are signs of vindication, which if you read the OT without your Jesus glasses on, would prove worthless. Sheesh.

      Delete
  3. Great article!

    This should be very helpful with apologetic's and catechism.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting post, Edward. I note that in your post on Geach, you say:

    '[...] it cannot be emphasized too strongly that the propositions that God is simple, immutable, eternal, and knows even the future free actions of his rational creatures, are all de fide teachings of the Church.'

    You go on to add:

    'The point is that, as Geach says, “we dare not be complacent” about the question.'

    What is complacency if not a failure to question? And what is a de fide teaching if not something that cannot be questioned?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think that the syllogism you've constructed it quite right. I believe that Ed meant by this to say that "We should not grow complacent and forget that these things are true".

      Delete
  5. I was discussing with someone the issue of whether those of other religious belief, e.g. Muslims, believe in the same God. I found that the person I was discussing this with had an unspoken assumption that admitting that these others worshipped the same God necessarily meant that their religions were equally valid, also true revealed religions & equally salvific.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Catholic Church teaches that "elements of sanctification and truth" exist outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church, but "These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity." (Lumnen Gentium, paragraph 22)

      So truths exist outside the Church's visible structure, but those truths "gifts belonging to the Church" and call those who posses them to Catholic unity.

      Delete
  6. how is energy, fields, prime matter, and other things like that contingent and dependent on other things? I don’t see how these are purely simple and or contingent

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are composites of act and potency. Act being a possessed attribute like mass and potency being a way in which they can be different, e.g. in regards to spatial location. Also don't conflate terms, since prime matter is no matter like you imagine it. Energy fields cannot be purely non-composite simples if they can be distinguished from one another or if they can be put into parts.
      Use rhe search function of this blog, this question comes up repeatedly

      Delete
    2. Energy is contingent on there being something for it to characterize in the first place. Energy is a property of already existing things.

      Delete
  7. There is also the possibility that ideas of God in false religions are corrupted vestiges of revelation. Wouldn't make those religions any less false though.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The propositions illuminated in this post are the answer to much of the confusion people seem to have on what Vatican II meant by the fullness of truth subsisting in the Catholic Church.

    Vat II's expression, when compared to historical expressions, are just two sides of the same coin: the previous formulations meant to convey that those outside are just all wrong, and those inside are just all right. In using the expression “the fullness of truth ‘subsists in’ the Catholic Church”, Vat II intended to acknowledge that the truths we see outside the visible confines of the Church, exist there **because of the Catholic Church**, not in spite of it. It’s the Church saying “everything you’ve got that’s good? Yeah, the Catholic Church put it there”.

    When ya really think about it, it is the ultimate “gotcha”. Rad Trads (no disrespect in the term) should love this formulation and yet they rail against it. Oy Vey!

    More from R.R. Reno’s talk from the Thomistic Institute: https://soundcloud.com/thomisticinstitute/dr-r-r-reno-lumen-gentium-the

    P.S. Let the screaming begin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T N, I agree with what you said. Except certain parts, which I don't agree with.

      The Catholic Church is a specific institution that was started during a specific period of time: Christ prepared it during his 3 years of ministry, and it began its visible existence at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But there are religions that precede Catholicism in time, that have truths of natural theology embedded in them. They didn't "get" those truths because the Catholic CHURCH put them there.

      What VII means is that the truths belong to the Catholic Church, on account of all truth belonging to God, and all theological truth pushing every person toward participation in the Catholic Church. Judaism has truths about God, not because the Church that started existence 2000 years ago put them there - God put them there. But God did so to guide them into faith in the Divine Redeemer to come, which faith is the SAME faith as the faith in the Catholic Church. The faith of Abraham was Catholic faith, he was accounted saved in virtue of his great faith in the Christ to come, and was therefore a participant in Christ's Body - which subsists in the Catholic Church.

      It’s the Church saying “everything you’ve got that’s good? Yeah, the Catholic Church put it there”.

      the previous formulations meant to convey that those outside are just all wrong, and those inside are just all right.

      I have never seen a formulation from before VII that said "those inside are just all right", and I have only rarely met a Traditionalist who says "those outside are just all wrong." Surely many Rad-Trads don't say Protestants who agree that Christ is God are "all wrong".

      Delete
    2. @ Tony,

      You are correct and my comments were meant to be aphoristic.

      Delete
    3. @ Tony,

      The reason I expressed it the way I did is because so many people now are (rightly) upset about the obvious problems with Francis, then they watch the Taylor Marshall videos and suddenly they no longer bother with nuanced understanding of the issues and just go berserk as soon as they hear trigger words like "subsists", or "Vat II", or whatever.

      Using the expressions I did was to shock them out of the zombie like responses I get from people on this issue.

      Delete
  9. Regarding the preternatural powers of angels and demons, how far does their power go in principle?

    The magicians of Exodus prompt the question:

    1) Do they have the ability to change the underlying form of material things and so to transform something into something else? Even to change non-living things into living things (e.g. sticks into snakes)?

    Feser did mention in one of his blog posts that to change the very form of a thing requires a lot of power, and that to go beyond that is essentially divine power to affect the very being of things, so it would seem angels should be able to change the forms of material things since they are the highest genus of created being possible.

    Another thing mentioned in this post is how demons can move objects around, which prompts another question:

    2) Can they move objects around in an immaterial fashion, without needing to generate a physical force to make an object move?

    Because the abstract, pure potency of an object being capable of being moved through space doesn't require anything material, and so this opens up the possibility that angels are capable of actualising potencies in a strictly immaterial and purely formal fashion that doesn't require any physical causation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angels can't heal (Psalm 103:3) and angels can't resurrect the dead. If they could change the underlying form of things, then they should be able to heal, which is a contradiction. Meanwhile God did change Moses's nonliving staff into a living snake.

      Not even Raphael the Archangel can heal. Raphael means "Medicine of God." He's only medicine God uses.

      Delete
    2. The Psalm doesn't say anything about only God being able to heal absolutely. Just because it comes after mentioning God forgiving sins doesn't meam it's in the same category of divine prerogative as forgiveness of sins. If that were taken literally than this would mean doctors and natural medicine don't really heal but that it's miraculous action done by God instead.

      Also, to heal someone doesn't require changing the underlying form of anything. What I meant primarily by the ability to change the underlying form of anything is stuff like turning water into gold for example.

      Delete
    3. If that were taken literally than this would mean doctors and natural medicine don't really heal but that it's miraculous action done by God instead.

      Medical healing is just natural regeneration facilitated by technology. Healing that goes beyond natural regeneration is done only by God and no one else.

      Delete
    4. To change something into something else?
      Doesn't it happen all the time?
      I burn something--and I change the substantial form.

      Sticks into snake? I see no reason why it would necessarily require divine power.

      As I understand, the divine power is essential to create a rational soul. Other souls or living beings can be created naturally.

      Delete
    5. @Gyan do you believe an angel has the power to turn a boy into a real girl? That is, with fully-functional uterine reproductive organs and everything that goes along with them?

      Delete
    6. To turn a boy into a girl?
      I see no reason why it must be beyond human power.

      Delete
    7. Someone's sex is part of the being of Homo sapiens sapiens. Humans can give SRS+HRT but those are violence (in the correct, metaphysical sense of the word) done to a healthy body. But I don't think humans can alter the being of a man's body to be like that of a woman's, and neither can angels. Especially in the most important aspect of being: pregnancy.

      Delete
    8. @BTO,


      It depends on what type of healing is supernatural. Do healings done directly by God count as supernatural? Trivially yes. But what type of healings are angels capable? Are all healings not done by God in the natural regeneration category simply by virtue of being not done by God? If that's the case then yes, but that doesn't exclude angels from preternaturally being able to cure diseases and heal people.

      Delete
  10. "Preternatural" also applies to the design of the natural world. It can (somewhat) be explained by natural causes but is rightly associated with God.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Preternatural events are, of course, not necessarily limited to religious contexts. Figures like Hobbes, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Hume, et. Al. created counterintuitive theories of self-interest that turned out to be highly beneficial for society despite the predictable objections of the religious/social establishment and even contemporary enlightenment figures like Rousseau.

    Because of these theories, self-interests harnessed through market mechanisms have produced wide-spread material wealth unimaginable by our ancestors. A supply chain of self-interested parties can produce something as mundane as the pillow you sleep on with very little thought, or effort, or expense on your part as to how it occurs. You don’t have to raise a sheep, harvest the wool, weave the cloth, etc. What accounts for this emergent order? How is it that a chain of self-interested actors can cumulatively create such a preternatural social benefit?

    That’s not to say that there are no problems or that the need for moral oversight (of whatever form that may take) is unnecessary. It’s to point out that something in the fabric of reality tends toward “the good” by default it seems--as long as we don’t engineer ways to sabotage it, which, of course, we always will.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I’m not denying the evidence for Christianity. I’m denying that it’s evidence FOR Christianity.

    This is an extremely important point. I understand Mr Feser is writing, or planning to write, a book specifically on Catholic apologetics, which I intend to read as soon as it hits the presses, and I would really like to see him dealing with this head on. In fact, I don't know any Christian apologists who do (and I will gratefully accept recommendations from more learned commenters).

    As far as I can tell, Christian apologetics usually focuses on proving Christ's resurrection (quite rightly, of course), but having done that it seems to think it's job is done. But it is not. Both Judaism and Islam need not be disproved by the Resurrection alone.

    The mainstream position within both Judaism and Islam, as far as I understand it, is to deny the resurrection. Jews will usually claim Jesus was an impostor, while Muslims will say he was substituted and was not the person nailed to the cross at calvary. But neither position, AFAIK, is de fide and both Jews and Muslims could accept the Resurrection without thereby granting that Christianity is true.

    The Anonymous Noahide commenting above just showed how Jews could do it by appealing to Deuteronomy 13. The Resurrection is true, God did it, and it was just a test (which Christians are failing). This might be true, or not, but it is certainly compatible with Deut 13.

    Muslims also need not have any great trouble accepting that Jesus was resurrected. The mainstream claim is already that he was taken bodily to heaven after the "substitution" (which is necessary, since he'll come back to inaugurate the end times), so you just have to abandon the "substitution" - which is just a theory theologians came up with and which gained widespread support, but is not de fide and is not in the Quran. The prophet Jesus was murdered, Allah resurrected him, then Allah took him up to heaven. No big deal. The real question here is, "did prophet Jesus teach the distinctively Christian doctrines?", and here the Muslim answer is "no". The Resurrection on its own makes no difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This might be an original argument. Screw the anonymity: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide/wiki/faq

      Delete
    2. We can prove the muslim and jewish wrong. Their explanations can be prove wrong and are ad hoc.

      "I’m not denying the evidence for Christianity. I’m denying that it’s evidence FOR Christianity"

      What is the Resurrection supposed to proved?
      The Jesus Christ's claims and what those claims were? One of them that He was God.

      It's not that you can accept the Resurrection and deny His claims.

      We can elaborate on that. I'm busy at the moment

      Delete
  13. Mostly OT: can anyone explain why the opponent is not called to task for saying that God is in a genus of intellective/intelligent things?

    This part of the In Sent is arguing that humans can know truths without the aid of grace. The objector in arg. 5 says...

    "... quaecumque sunt in genere aliquo, reducuntur sicut in causam in unum primum, quod est maximum in genere illo. Sed primum in genere intellectivorum est ipse Deus. Ergo est maxime intelligens, et causa intelligendi omnibus intelligentibus," In II Sent. 28.1.5 arg 5. ["... whatever things are in any genus are reduced to one first thing as though to their cause, and that thing is the greatest in that genus. But the first in the genus of intellective things is God Himself. Therefore He is maximally intelligent and is the cause of understanding in all intelligent things."]

    In the reply, ad 5, the Thomas voice disagrees with the contention that all human knowledge is by direct influence of grace, but he does not contest the statement that God is first "in the genus of intellective things."

    Since Aquinas had early in his career, in the De Ente et Essentia, argued that God can't be in any genus because His essence is identical with His existence, it would seem that arg. 5 should have been written differently.

    Thoughts? Is Aquinas just allowing his objector to speak loosely, or does he have a theory of generic inclusion by reduction such that he can allow both that God is in a genus by reduction and that God is per se in no genus? (The distinction between real and logical genera might be in play here, but I'm not sure that that distinction would rescue God from being an instance of a kind even if the kind is only a logical and not a natural one.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't know how to articulate the reality of demonic possession

    ReplyDelete
  15. All argumentation must presuppose the reality of truth. That truth is real is a first principle, which cannot be argued or proven in any way, but must simply be presumed, before any argumentation is possible.

    Now, in John 14:6, Jesus claims to be "the truth". Now, natural theology holds that (1) God just is Being, itself, (2) Being is convertible with truth, leading to (3) God just is Truth, itself. Thus, we have here an instance of revealed theology agreeing with natural theology.

    So, arguments which prove the existence and attributes of God, as it turns out, must assume the reality of God (as Truth). I do not take this to mean that the arguments of natural theology are circular, since it is specifically God *as Truth* that proves the existence of God *as Being*.

    Rather, I take this to demonstrate that Hebrews 11:6, which says "...without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." In other words, in order to know God, one must have unwavering faith in the reality of truth (this is where the modernists fail) as a first principle; thence, knowing God as Being, we can then know God as Truth. Herein we find God to be both the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Jimmy

      You're roughly giving the argument from reason (i.e. naturalism can't explain an abstract, objective, and mind independent standard). However, if you present this to an atheist, you're going to have a lot of work to do to prove that "Being is convertible with truth".

      Delete
  16. This post by Prof. Feser also sheds some light on the controversy at Abu Dhasbi where the Pope listed 5 things, most of which were God’s express will (such as sexual difference), and 1 was his permissive will (different religions): "The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings." Thus, this could have been understood to imply different religions were expressly willed by God which would be false. This was subsequently clarified as referring to His permissive will in the general audience on April 3rd at Rome as well as at an Asian bishop’s conference (the latter made public by Abp. Schneider). I find it unfortunate that this distinction will not be made in the version of the statement sent to Catholic institutions for “study “– just the original with the ambiguity. But so it is- as Pope Francis isn’t the type of Pope who seems to care about these, in my mind, critical distinctions. But I don’t want to rehash that or get into the merits of the recent accusations against Pope Francis.

    One additional thing that could have been said looks back to the Church Fathers and is illuminated by this post of Mr. Feser’s. One of the statements at Vatican II was: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions”. From Nostra Aetate. Of course, this idea goes back to principles enunciated by St. Augustine: typically formulated as “taking the gold out of Egypt” in an allusion to the Exodus. Thus, Augustine and the early fathers often found in Greek religion/philosophy many truths mixed in with falsehoods. They kept the former and rejected the latter. And they viewed such truths as a “preparation for the Gospel”. Preparing souls to receive the Gospel is also God’s express will.

    Moreover as Prof. Feser demonstrates, it is also apparently God’s express will for natural theology to lead to a greater knowledge of Him (and the Truth).
    So we could say:
    1)It is God’s permissive will to allow religions other than the Catholic faith.
    2) Given their permitted existence, any expression of truth in these religions as a result of natural theology is God’s express will. Importantly, it is also God’s express will that these truths be a preparation for the Gospel.

    I note that these sorts of considerations were already elaborated in Dominus Iesus which I recommend everyone read (and which Abp. Schneider referenced in his comments on this controversy).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Todd

      I completely agree. I might add that it was with no small amount of controversy that a pagan philosophy (Aristotelian philosophy) was merged with Christian revelation in the middle ages.

      Vat II must be interpreted in accord with tradition. This is not only a common sense requirement of the faithful, but an explicit affirmation of the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium (Dominus Jesus for example, as you point out).

      The problem with the Abu Dhabi statement is that the words say something that is clearly not in accord with tradition. In order to rise to the level of heresy, there must be a continual and persistent rejection of church teaching. It's pretty difficult to make anything good from the Abu Dhabi statement (and many other things Francis does and says), but none of them has risen to a contradiction within church teaching itself. If such a thing we're to occur, I would not be able to remain Catholic and would probably face the abyss with Nietzsche. What other option would there be?

      Delete
    2. I'd also say Vat II is not a mistake to be tolerated, but a positive good. In sum total, it's a statement on why every non-Catholic should be Catholic.

      Delete
    3. Todd

      Your second point doesn't seem to follow. There's quite a difference between picking true from false philosophical ideas, and doing it when the subject is another religion. Regarding them as a preparation for the gospel isn't what St. Augustine had in mind.

      Truths in other religions are mostly not the fruit of natural theology. Mythology is largely the work of imagination. It may also have darker origins which shall remain nameless, as well as some "contamination" from contact with true religion. The most overtly diabolical cults contains some truths.

      Delete
    4. Thanks James. I was building on Prof Feser's argument and his conclusions (which I agree with). So one of those conclusions very much stood at least for the proposition that "Truths in other religions ARE mostly the fruit of natural theology." He also addresses your point about dark theological forces. So I think you are disagreeing with Prof Feser (fair enough) as well as me. Be interested in your view of Dominus Iesus.

      Delete
  17. I'm not sure your proposition is what he had in mind. The Islamic belief in God was borrowed from Christianity and its philosophy is also largely borrowed. Hindu philosophy might have been influenced as well. Confucius didn't use philosophy to establish the existence of God at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ James

      If Islam borrowed so much from Christianity, then there clearly is "much that is good" that is not to be rejected.

      Furthermore, there is a difference between someone who knowingly and persistently rejects the truth when it is presented to them, and someone who has inherited another tradition and is ignorant of the truth though no fault of their own.

      Delete
    2. T.N.
      I agree with you about people in other religions. As there can only be one true religion, the others, well... Naturally they would contain different proportions of truth, but as unities, the conclusion is inescapable.


      Todd, I believe Dominus Iesus was more about other Christian Churches on this score. Therefore their component of natural theology would be irrelevant as what religious truths they have are borrowed.

      Delete
    3. James - re-read Dominus Iesus. It was about both other Christian ecclesial communities and Churches and also non-christian religions. You'll see elements that can correspond to what I am saying. Sorry too busy to quote and point out which is really what I should do.

      Delete
  18. The Lonely ProfessorFebruary 5, 2020 at 9:13 AM

    "Revealed theology is concerned with knowledge about God that is available by way of some special divine revelation, distinct from anything we know by philosophical arguments or the like. It has a source that is supernatural in the sense of being beyond what the natural order of things is capable of producing. That is why a miracle (a suspension of the natural order) is, in Catholic theology, taken to be a necessary condition for our knowing that something really has been divinely revealed."

    Stock Catholic apologetics, via arguments like this one ("miracles prove the truth of Catholicism"), always elides the following crucial questions, since they belay the claims of Catholicism that there is nothing supernatural in other religions, that Catholicism is "obviously" true for one of good will and in possession of sufficient evidence, and that there is nothing whatsoever subjective about revelation or its acceptance (that would be "Modernism").

    1) Why assume that that something beyond the natural order of things necessarily for supernatural revelation/knowledge must necessarily take place in the external world? Why can't it be one's intellect that can be endowed with a supernatural power to grasp things it couldn't via its natural powers alone?

    2) There is an essential epistemological difference between a miracle known via first-hand experience and the second-hand claim of a miracle by someone else (or the third-hand claim of a claim), which is all that is available epistemologically at the present time, whether Catholic apologists are honest enough to admit it or not. Now one may well believe the claimants to be credible and believe them, but this is, at bottom, human, and not Divine, faith, which is fallible (humans can be deceived or lying).

    3) And again, if the epistemological path to recognition of Divine revelation contains, as a necessary and sufficient condition, the recognition of a miracle, the entire process is one of inference from data, which the human intellect is entirely capable of performing unaided. If the condition is not sufficient, but only necessary, then what else (specifically) gets one to such recognition?

    4) We are able to have only a limited knowledge of "the natural order of things". Yes, we have in many cases detailed knowledge of the physical, material world, such that we know that my cup won't just fly off my desk and smash into the wall by its own power or that of the desk or anything else in the room. But what we don't have is sufficient knowledge of the spiritual realm and the powers spiritual entities have over the material world. If an angel (or demon) caused my cup to fly across the room, it is a not a "miracle" if to do such a thing is in the natural power of an angel strictly speaking, even if it is the sort of thing angels do not often do. How can it ever be proven that any claimed miracle is not something an angel would be capable of performing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the claims of Catholicism that there is nothing supernatural in other religions, that Catholicism is "obviously" true for one of good will and in possession of sufficient evidence, and that there is nothing whatsoever subjective about revelation or its acceptance (that would be "Modernism").

      Literally none of these are "claims of Catholicism": it has never been a Catholic doctrine that there is nothing supernatural in other religions; Catholic doctrine implies that someone of good will with sufficient evidence has all that is necessary for justifiably believing; Modernism is not the claim that there is something subjective about revelation or its acceptance but the claim that subjective experience has completely primacy over reason and external authority. Even suggesting that the claims you list are Catholic doctrine is immensely stupid -- Catholicism is required by its fundamental doctrines to hold that the revelation given to Judaism is supernatural, and the Old Testament has multiple cases of people who are not Jews (and a fortiori not Christians) having interactions with God. Faith is by definition not going to be 'obviously true' in the sense that sense perception, demonstration, or self-evidence are obvious; and that reason is only preparatory and you can't reason your way to faith is itself a Catholic doctrine. And everyone holds that there is something subjective about the acceptance of revelation; acceptance is by definition a subjective act.

      Delete
  19. That was a good answer with one caveat. The Catholic Church doesn't regard the Old Testament as another religion. These comments are interesting though.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ed, can you recommend a book of pure natural theology, that shows something like how far natural theology, in total isolation from any revelation, can get us? Is there any comprehensive work like this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you read 'Right and Reason' by Fr. Austin Fagothey? It covers all the broad ethical topics from an A-T natural law perspective. There's a free archived version of the book here: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015072108122&view=1up&seq=12

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I have not read that.

      Delete
  21. What does Feser mean "backed by a miracle"? There are miracle (things that can't be explained by placebo) claims in all religions and cultures. How do you know Jesus wasn't evil, casted out demons because he was in cahoots with them, fooled his apostles, and was crucified for his sin? "But God raised him!" How do you know his soul didn't go to the devil and that the devil didn't give it back to the body? God could have allowed Jesus to come back to life, and live 40 more sinful days before he went to the mountain with evil intent and God swooped him up.

    Why believe in something for which you have no evidence?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I just don't get this jewish argument, really. I saw it before here:https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/was-god-deceiving-his-people-by-raising-jesus/

    But it did not make sense to me. If you go to Deuteronomy 13 it is pretty easy to see how things would happen:

    1. God would give to some bad person the power to make miracles as a test to Israel.

    2. Some people who did not love the Lord enough would abandon Judaism.

    3. This false prophet would be killed, showing his gods are false.

    4. The jews would know this prophet was fake and continue in their Judaism.

    Ok. Simply a test and that is all.

    To the jew them, Jesus got the power to make miracles to test people and He was killed, but them God ressurected Him exactly like He said it would happen?

    This makes no sense to me. Why would God just do that? This is literally the best way to say "Oh, Jesus is actually right, btw". Can't complain that someone failed the test if you break the rules like that!

    Now, a interesting thing in my read: could a muslim also agree that the ressurection happened(or that it seemed to happen, since most believe Jesus was not killed but seemed only) and still be a muslim?

    Both Judaism and Islam(and don't get me wrong guys, i say that with the most respect i can) seems way harder to argue for that Christianity, since the ressurection seems the miracle where naturalistic explanations fails most(at least of the ancient world). A muslim or jew using the ressurection AS proof of is faith is actually pretty clever.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Jesus never said he would be resurrected. Also remember God "works in mysterious ways". There are resurrection claims all the time in India. Miracles are not evidence because you can't show who they come from or what they mean

    ReplyDelete
  24. Man, how did i managed to get "resurrect" wrong four times...

    @anon

    "Jesus never said he would be resurrected."

    That depends on if you think the Gospels are a trustworthy collection of sayings of Jesus. Since the Gospels seems pretty good at this, the Parable of The Wicked Husbandmen is clearly historic and suggest Jesus knew about His death, and the idea of a death messiah is so bizarre to a jew, it seems very, very unlikely to the apostles to made that idea up. It actually makes them look bad, since it means they did not get it for 3 years.

    About the rest of the post, would God just straight up contradict the rule He made? How could someone be blamed them for being a christian?

    And i doubt there is one miracle in India with so good arguments as Jesus resurrection. Not to mention the jewish context of the resurrection and the thing about we and our possibility of rulling almost all forms of Hinduism out by philosohy alone.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Jesus knew they were going to kill him maybe. That doesn't mean he predicted he would be resurrected. A Jew would say that God allowed the devil to give Jesus his soul back in order to bring out a greater good and test our faith in one person being in God. Miraculous things happen all the time, in every culture and every religion and every region. The Gospels are Christian writings, so maybe they are not objective. The Bible has the bad people doing miracles. There is no proof resurrection must be for an incarnated God alone. Christians think they know why God does things, even though they themselves say he acts in mysterious ways

    Why would you dismiss Hinduism out of hand? Aquinas had nothing but bogus arguments that there are only three people in God. Hinduism would say we are all persons of God, and like Jesus do not know everything in our state. We are here to experience another reality besides being God

    ReplyDelete
  26. Maybe God allows miracles from good and bad people merely in order to make us marvel at the supernatural. Maybe we shouldn't draw any other conclusion about the message of the miracle

    ReplyDelete
  27. @anon

    "Jesus knew they were going to kill him maybe. That doesn't mean he predicted he would be resurrected."

    This is not the case on the Gospels:

    "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again." Mark 8:31

    "When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief." Matthew 17:22-23

    "Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-19.

    And so on...

    The idea that the disciples invented the predictions afther His death seems desperate, since:

    1. Inventing it would be unnecessary, since they could just say that Jesus explained everything to them after the resurrection.

    2. It makes them look silly, since they where with Him for so long and never got the message.

    3. It is a idea so away from Judaism. There where others who claimed to be the messiah and where killed by this, their followers just got back home.

    The idea that the Church invented it after the death of the disciples is also weak, since not only you got what was said above but:

    1. St. Paul knew the apostles and he believed in the resurrection. If you go to First Corinthians(made in like, the year 55) he clearly quotes a tradition that came years before.

    2. Disciples of the apostles like St. Clement and St. Ignacious clearly believed in the resurrection on the basis of the testimony of the Twelve.

    3. The Gospels are pretty early in history, seeing that Luke Acts was at minimum made in the same year as his Gospel and it ends in like, the year 62(Mark is even earlier). So the apostles would not let someone just invent all these predictions, let alone get the respect that the Gospels aways had.

    So, the idea that Jesus did not teached He would die and come back is not what evidence suggests. This mean that resurrecting Him would be just the perfect way to make the Twelve and the early Church believe.

    "A Jew would say that God allowed the devil to give Jesus his soul back in order to bring out a greater good and test our faith in one person being in God."

    Would a jew say that?

    "See now that I, I am HE, And there is no god with me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal, And there is none that delivereth out of my hand," Deuteronomy 32:39.

    Only God can "make alive". Not to mention, do you really believe the idea that God "test" to Israel(it is what Deuteronomy 13 is about) would involve He disrespecting His own rules and literally tricking everybody so much? Would God give a faker a miracle with way more proof that any of His true religion?

    Is this more plausible that your interpretation of the Scripture being just wrong? Is this really the best explanation?

    "Why would you dismiss Hinduism out of hand?"

    Most of it is not monotheist, so any good argument for God break these traditions legs. From what i know, the monotheist versions of Hinduism need to accept the Upanishads, who seems from the little i read of them not really monotheistics(just look at Madhvacharya difficult with Tat Twam Asi), and also seems to accept things like reencarnation.

    "Aquinas had nothing but bogus arguments that there are only three people in God."

    He really could not prove the Trinity and admited it. But his other arguments where cool.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Look Talmid, arguing for religious proof from miracles is wrong. Yes, I blame Christians for looking for signs. Everywhere there are strange happenings. There are thousands of shows, podcasts, and accounts of people witnessing bizarre things in this world. It was in Hinduism for Dummies, a book that has nothing to do with this debate, where I read that there are resurrection claims all the time in India. I don't care if you have a couple extra ancient documents that claim Jesus was God. I read a lot of Heidegger these days. In our "thrown" world we can expect weird things to happen, miraculous things even. Everyone is free to believe in which ones they want. Again, the JEWS claimed in their Bible that God gave signs to counter the devil's signs, and maybe according to their theology resurrection was too much to ask of the devil. But I reject Judaism. They would reject Christianity as well because it says there is a Trinity, and they would consider this "obviously wrong", the resurrection a problem to be dealt with with faith. It's must wrong for Christians to pile up some ancient documents and say "the pile is high enough so everyone must reasonably believe it". That's just crap and unrealistic. Naïve

    ReplyDelete
  29. @anon

    Dude, is very simple: the resurrection is history. You just read all the information we have on Jesus and realize that the only serious explanation for the events about His death and the start of the church is that He truly resurrected and appeared to the disciples. Once you realize that, you know that what He teached is true and that Christianity is the way to go, just that. This is how you study history.

    Some indians can claim they resurrected someone all they want, but do they give any reason to believe in that? I don't remember seeing one hindu miracle with good proof, really.

    Really, show me:

    1. Any miracle of a Indian faith that don't have a reasonable good naturalistic explanation

    2. A good naturalistic explanation of the events that happened after Jesus crucifixion
    (You need both, for Christianity could explain a miracle in another faith)

    If all the evidence points to Jesus being resurrected, we should believe it happened. You will not find people being this picky about others historical events like Plato writing the Republic or the Fall of Jerusalem to the babylonians...

    ReplyDelete
  30. A miracle claim is like every other event. You look at the data, look at the possible explanations and see what the best one is.

    If you don't have any a priori reason to deny a particular religion X(like it being metaphysically wrong or other religion having stronger support) and the miracle claim is best explained as a genuine supernatural event, this can be support to this religion X being true.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Suppose you hear a podcast about someone falling off a cliff and later being seen. You don't realize how often these things happened or are claimed. You should not believe in all of them, and one of the ones I don't believe i n is this one from 2000 years ago. Debate over

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But if there are stories of people falling off a cliff and later being seen, these are vastly different stories from the Resurrection - and perhaps some of them are also miracles (who knows).

      There are at some factors that are very striking about the Resurrection, I'll just mention a few, 1) the fact that it was tied to a religious context involving God and a person of the moral and intellectual caliber of Jesus, who had also been teaching people about the love of God and the need for a virtuous life, and had also been healing people. And was talking about how God was Lord over Life and Death, and suggesting that he himself was divine and one with God, and could destroy a temple and raise it in three days, etc. If we're to think "who is God more likely a priori to have raised from the dead, some random guy named Bob who had a car accident, or Jesus?" I think the answer is obvious. A priori it is absurd to compare the Resurrection with any random miraculous allegation out there. The very manner in which the Resurrection (or its claim) has completely transformed the world and human history adds even more signficiance.
      2) the fact that the appearances of Jesus were claimed by many, many people, at different places and different times; to individuals and to multitudes also; even to people who were hostile to the gospel or skeptical, such as James and Paul;
      3) the fact that the disciples and many others really came to believe that Jesus was alive, and would insist on that very strongly, despite the fact that such an idea was quite alien for people at that time (apparitions of the deceased were far more likely to make people think they're ghosts, that the person really is dead, etc; jews also had no concept of that kind of raising messiah at the time, the disciples would be ostracised by the people, etc);
      4) the sudden change and bold proclamation of the Resurection on the part of the disciples who had been scared, hiding, disappointed, etc. They defied the authorities and insisted on preaching what they had "seen", even if that meant they would be heavily ostracized. People converted. This bold proclamation was maintained even in the face of serious persecution and death, and no one recanted, etc;

      Some of these factors may require more extensive discussion, but the point is that one shouldn't simply dismiss the Resurrection as "just another" "random" miracle claim. One should engage with the argument.

      Delete
    2. It's not right to try to force people into a religion by a historical argument like this. It's shows weak faith and narrowness of mind. Humans accept probability. Maybe Trump is an alien. Maybe global warming is a conspiracy. But you can't claim everyone or anyone must accept all religious claims. So it's probable to accept some. If someone wants to reject Jesus and not be a nerd, that is his right

      Delete
  32. @anon

    I invite you to look at the evidence to this case. Here would probably be a good start: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/historical-jesus/jesus-resurrection/

    You should probably also look if you have any reason to not want to accept the resurrection. There is a lot of skepticism when we talk about this event that you don't see in history in general, is only when the subject is Jesus.

    If you don't think it makes sense because the idea of a miracle seems nonsense, Dr. Feser or Dr. Craig could take care of that. Intelectual objections are pretty easy to deal really, especially because the only waiy to reject a priori the Resurrection Hypothesis would be to show there is no God or that miracles are not possible.

    ReplyDelete
  33. We all have the right to discard at least one alleged miracle in our lives

    ReplyDelete
  34. Catholics are allowed to smoke and drimk. So in the game of life they take chances. With the Jesus story we are not even taking a risk in rejecting it as one of the few extraordinary events we don't believe in. How do you Thomists reconcile your God with the Quantum Eraser Experiment?

    ReplyDelete
  35. By some sort of Pascal Wager alone you should take a look at Jesus resurrection*, really. Taking a risk here is literally being a idiot. In just a few hours or days of research(or maybe way more, who knows) you could get a pretty sweet deal.

    About quantum: who cares? there is like nine million interpretations of these experiments and no one has any reason to choose one or another. Someone who claims it proves there is no God is like a atheist version of quantum mystics.

    This interview that Ed linked before is quite interesting: https://iai.tv/video/tim-maudlin-in-depth-interview-quantum-theory

    *yes, looking at evidence to Christianity(and also Judaism and Islam) is more important by Pascal Wager that looking at faiths like Hinduism, since the first is exclusivistic and the other pluralistic, so missing Christianity is way more dangerous

    ReplyDelete
  36. Pascals wager is logically illegal, not to mention it's intellectual trolling. Suppose we find an African religion that says you will feel infinite pain if you don't join them, compared to which the Catholic hell is heaven. Suddenly the shoes on the other foot but you would cry fowl. Jesus warned of looking for signs. This ridiculous attempt to weigh 2000 year old claims in order to determine what to believe is ruled out once you've experienced enough strange, unexplainable, zanny things in your life. The quantum eraser is one example out of countless ones. You're not offering a sweet deal. Evangelizing with yellowed papers is just pooping on everyone's party

    ReplyDelete
  37. To sum up, the premise i deny is that miracle claims are to be treated as all other historical claims. Rationally we only have to accept a vague majority of them, and we can conclude whatever we like from them. Maybe your God doesn't approve in believing in Jesus over a wager. Maybe he disapproves of using the historical argument to win over people

    ReplyDelete
  38. @anon

    I'am not saying you should believe by Pascal Wager, what i'am saying is that not looking at the evidence is stupid if you think like Pascal.
    To help you see why:

    - If you look up for evidence for the resurrection and it did not happened, you just waste some time.

    - If you look up for evidence for the resurrection and it did happen, you could get salvation.

    - If you do not look up for evidence of the resurrection and it did not happen, you get to not lose your time.

    - If you do not look up for evidence of the resurrection and it did happen, you could end up losing salvation.

    Can anyone really think that not even bothering to look at evidence you have no reason to reject a priori is wise in this case? Only a lazy fool would think like that.

    "To sum up, the premise i deny is that miracle claims are to be treated as all other historical claims."

    And what argument you offer for that? Do you have any reason to reject a miracle as impossible?

    What is the diference between Jesus resurrection and Plato writing the Republic? None, is just that very few people get bothered by the implications of what the philosopher did.

    Really, stop being lazy. If there are other faiths making claims, look at what claims would be possible and research they as well. You have little to lose and everything to gain by finding out if some religion is right.

    "Maybe he disapproves of using the historical argument to win over people"

    You mean like St. Paul used to do? I'am pretty sure this argument is licit to use. What reason you have to think the contrary?

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have every right to deny that historical miracle claims shouldn't rule my life. They seem important to you, but what way the soap goes down the drain in the shower tells me more about reality than claims about Jesus, which appear to contradict each other anyway, telling me not be bother. I am an existentialist, I project the truth while accepting it. I believe cyanide is poison for different reasons then you.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Maybe God wants you to be an existentialist

    ReplyDelete
  41. Buddhists and Daoists are existentialists. With the organized religions, Islam has a powerful pedigree of organizstion. They don't think God gives miracles often, so huge claims based on miracles are disqualified a priori for them. I stay away from organized religion because it makes people act crazy. The Muslims slaying populations is just a repeat of what the people of Moses did in the bible, so I lump them all together, and live my life without them. Catholics take a fallible decree by a Pope saying Aquinas was great and for the rest of their lives make themselves give preference to his thinking. Such lack of reasons for action

    ReplyDelete
  42. @anon

    So, do not want to have your life "ruled" by a miracle, hun? Now i get it! you don't like the idea of Christianity being true, so you run from the possible evidence like it is a plague because you are afraid that the evidence is strong enough to force you to rethink your life. Is a pretty pathetic and cowardly way of living, but i guess is the best a existencialist can do.

    Well, i'am not a psicologist or a spiritual director or anything that can help, so i guess this talk is useless and i must try to help in another way(which i'am afraid you would not like). This is it, i guess.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Threatening because you lost the argument. That's how Christians are. The new Testament was clearly written by Christians, has a lot of apparent contradictions between the books, and so its just not enough evidence to support a huge claim such as this which requires massive evidence. I know I squashed your Christian trolling and I'm not sorry. You're not invited to the party tonight. Peace out

    ReplyDelete
  44. @anon

    Strange words if you are responding to me, but okay. Emotions do that.

    And this claim, like any other historical claim, does not need "massive evidence". The resurrection hypothesis only needs to be the best explanation for the data, since the others explanations are, quite frankly, very weak(and i mean veeery weak), this hypothesis wins easily.

    And we don't need to assume than the NT is perfect to the hypothesis to get of of the ground(even if we forget that most "contradictions" in it are not real). You would be amazed if you saw how inferior than the NT are most trusted historical sources of the ancient world. Most ancient biographies or works of history where:

    1. Made with clear agendas;

    2. Made even centurys after the event and

    3. had few copies that are still around.

    Except for maybe 1(i mean, the apostles are not that well represented on the Gospels, so we can discuss this), the NT is free from these problems, the negation of this is only a sign of ignorance necessary to fall in conspiracy theorys about the subject.

    They say a existencialist is the guy that take life as it is, that don't think with the herd, that don't accept ilusions even if depression will come, so be a real existencialist and see for yourself if you are right! Refusing to have more that a superficial opinion on a serious topic is the most herd-like atitude i can think of, is pure intellectual weakness. You are better than that.

    ReplyDelete