Monday, 12 February 2018

Monday quote

Belief that a man is born in a prison cell is distinct from the belief that the man is incapable of acknowledging that he is in a prison cell and accepting help to escape when it is clearly offered.

Leighton Flowers.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Monday quote

Of all ignorance, the ignorance of the educated is the most dangerous. Not only are educated people likely to have more influence, they are the last people to suspect that they don't know what they are talking about when they go outside their narrow fields.

Thomas Sowell.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Monday quote

We want to receive forgiveness dispensed from a fire hose, and we want to ladle it out with a teaspoon. But Jesus came to save us from our parsimonious selves.

Douglas Wilson, Hebrews Through New Eyes.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Restating our opponent's perspective

Social media has been abuzz about an interview of Jordan Peterson by Channel 4 News in the UK. This kind of thing would usually frustrate me but the interviewer so often misrepresented and mischaracterised Peterson it made the whole think farcical and therefore amusing. Perhaps the funniest comment was by John C. Wright,
Please count the number of times in this video the female interviewer says the words “so what you are saying is” and then count the number of times the male interviewee agrees and says, “Yes you have understood me exactly.”

By my count, the first number is infinite, and the second is zero.
Though I agree with some things that Peterson says and disagree with others, it seems that Cathy Newman was not even interested in understanding his position, whether that be because of ignorance or intentional distortion. There are things to be learned from this episode such as claims of subsequent threats against Newman were generally false and therefore we need to be suspicious of many claims by the media. Or that requesting your allies to refrain from bad behaviour will be used by your enemies as justification that such behaviour is occurring. But there was a comment made in the Atlantic which is worth highlighting. Conor Friedersdorf writes about an interview technique that he sees used increasingly frequently: where the interviewer restates the interviewee's response in his own words,
Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.
After going through several examples Friedersdorf comes to this conclusion,
Newman repeatedly poses as if she is holding a controversialist accountable, when in fact, for the duration of the interview, it is she that is “stirring things up” and “whipping people into a state of anger.” 
Exactly. The divisive person paints his opponent as divisive. This is the problem many have with the left. It is not just that we disagree with their position, it is the dishonesty combined with the fact that they are being divisive at the same time claiming that their opponents are the divisive ones. It is rank hypocrisy.

Creating dissension for the sake of it is a tactic of the evil one. It is to be avoided. Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to get along (Phi 4:2). Elsewhere he says to warn a divisive person twice before having nothing further to do with them (Tit 3:10).

Now I have left leaning friends that are very honest, and I grant that many people on the left and right genuinely believe things that happen to be false. Further, this tactic is wrong when those on the right (or purported to be so) use it. But the use of this technique is an argument that the media (predominantly the left learning) are biased against righteousness: they use tools of the Devil. I am not saying here that the left are against truth because they are often wrong (though I think they are), I am saying that they are the most guilty of deliberately mischaracterising their opponents to justify their own narrative.

Friedersdorf concludes that he  wrote his article as,
an argument that the effects of the approach used in this interview are pernicious.
Exactly. We restate our opponent's perspective so that they may clarify whether or not we understand them. Not so that we can put lies in their mouths, lies that they do not even believe.

One may argue, what of rhetoric? Is not rhetoric the same kind of method we use in debates to win arguments?

In short, no. The point of rhetoric well done is to appeal to emotion in making an argument. But the man of God is only to use rhetoric in pursuit of the truth. Showing the consequences of an opponent's argument is not the same as saying he holds to premises that he most certainly does not.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Saved through childbearing

The interpretation of "saved through childbearing" in Paul's first letter to Timothy is enigmatic with a surplus of suggestions as to its meaning. Is Paul talking about Eve here, or a woman, or all women? Why does he change from the singular to the plural? Paul writes,
Likewise also the women should adorn themselves in respectably, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing, but with good deeds which are fitting for women who profess godliness. A woman must learn in quietness with all submission. But I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was deceived, came into transgression. But she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control. (1 Timothy 2)

A common interpretation is to see the salvation through childbearing to be a reference back to Eve, and then incorporating all women if they continue in faith, love and holiness with self-control. The childbearing would refer to Eve being the ancestor of Jesus and the promise of deliverance in the curse on the serpent. That Eve will be saved (future tense) seems slightly unusual although it may be that this is used because of its application to other women that Paul then makes. But why just women? Surely men are also saved through Jesus and must continue in faith.

The following is a possible solution. The Greek word gyne is usually translated "women" in this passage. Were the term to mean "wife" in this context this could modify how we read Paul here. The passage would read,
Likewise also wives should adorn themselves in respectably, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing, but with good deeds which are fitting for wives who profess godliness. A wife must learn in quietness with all submission. But I do not permit a wife to teach or to exercise authority over her husband, but to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but [his] wife, because she was deceived, came into transgression. But she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control.

Thus when Paul talks of "saving through childbearing," he may be referring back to this sentence: "I do not permit a wife to teach or to exercise authority over her husband". If so, then it makes sense for him to use the singular "she": the wife of her husband. But when Paul adds the qualification to continue in faith, this qualification refers to all wives, not the exemplar wife Paul was specifying in his original instruction.

What does Paul mean by saved through childbearing? Childbearing may well be a synecdoche for raising children. The curse in Genesis is likely a synecdoche as conception is hardly painful. That is, a wife can and will be saved in the role of motherhood even if such a role may seem less prominent in the church. Of course a wife who raises children must still remain faithful to Christ in that role and Paul specifies this.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Monday quote

If your life is Christ, then your death will be only more of Christ, forever. If your life is only Christlessness, then your death will be only more Christlessness, forever. That's not fundamentalism, that's the law of non-contradiction.

Peter Kreeft, Jesus-Shock.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Monday quote

Few are so conformist as rebellious youth.

Theodore Dalrymple

Monday, 8 January 2018

Monday quote

The standard for how fast and in what direction the car should go cannot be how fast and in what direction the car is currently going.

Douglas Wilson, The Deluded Atheist.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Monday quote

Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.

Jaroslav Pelikan.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Monday quote

Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: "a virgin's womb and an empty tomb". Jesus entered our world through a door marked,"No Entrance" and left through a door marked "No Exit."

Peter Larson

Monday, 18 December 2017

Monday quote

Legalism arises when Christian communities try to have the fruit of discernment (the ability to make fine distinctions) without having the maturity that is necessary.

Douglas Wilson, Hebrews Through New Eyes.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Monday quote

Sober advice to keep quiet and carry a large stick trumps sounding off while wielding a toothpick.

Victor Davis Hanson

Monday, 4 December 2017

Monday quote

The up-coming generation don’t seem to realise that democracy has two drivers: the right to advocate, and the right to dissent. It would quite possibly come as a surprise to many to learn that the latter persists even after legislation has been passed.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Monday quote

God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not rule you.

Jon Bloom.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Monday quote

The atheistic view of evil is totally inadequate in light of reality. It is subjective, arbitrary, and meaningless.

Steve Kumar and Jonathan Sarfati. Christianity for Skeptics, p56.

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