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Re: quad questions

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  • hamgears
    Thanks for your comments, Ulysses. I particularly liked this: The adherent= to radical sola scriptura basically says something like this: I can understand
    Message 1 of 4 , May 4, 2004
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      Thanks for your comments, Ulysses. I particularly liked this: The adherent=
      to
      radical sola scriptura
      basically says something like this: "I can understand scripture perfectly
      well. I don't need you. I don't need God's church. I don't need scholars.
      I don't need the thousands of years of deep Christian thinking. I have
      eyes; all I have to do is open the book and there it is, plain for me to
      see. And if you can't see the Bible the same way I do…well, there's just
      something wrong with you then." And I think you went on to say this
      fragmented way of looking at things is not what God intended.

      But how are we to judge the validity of a theology? Is the quad a means =
      of
      trying to do that?
      Lately, I've been reading a book, "The Path of Perfect Love," by Diogenes=

      Allen, who teaches philosophy at Princeton Seminary. He seems to make a
      case for generally orthodox Christian beliefs.
      He says perfect love is what God intends us to aspire to (even though we =

      can't achieve it completely or really come anywhere close). He defines perf=
      ect
      love as perfect recognition that you are just one center of reality (and
      consciousness) among many, that others have rights, wishes, feelings and
      exist as real individuals.
      And he argues that this goal makes sense because the closer we come to it=
      ,
      the closer we come to apprehending reality as it really is. (This would se=
      em
      to be a good appeal to reason).
      However, he goes on to say that this is the way (perfect love) the three =

      persons of the Trinity perceive and relate to each other (in perfect love) =
      and
      that God created us as an act of love, giving up something of his own power=
      to
      let us exist.
      I haven't finished the book yet. So, I don't know all the arguments Allen=
      will
      give for his theology. But one thing he's said in what I've read so far is =
      that he
      values the ideas he has put forth because they counter process theology.
      What do you suppose he could mean by that?
      I guess what I am asking is how do theologians work? Do they try to com=
      e
      up with theologies they like better than what others have put forward? For=

      instance, Allen says that process theology gives only a God of limited powe=
      r.
      And presumably, his theology puts forth a God of unlimited power. So does =

      that make his theology better?
      As I mentioned before, Outler tries to suggest that Tillich's theology d=
      oesn't
      provide for holy living.
      I suppose this makes sense. Someone could criticize Nietzsche's
      philosophy as tending to lead to ideas of a master race and fascism.
      But is it correct to judge a philosophy or theology as being lacking bec=
      ause
      it doesn't provide for all of things we'd like life and the world to be?
      That sounds a bit like theologians are creating "pie in the sky," which =
      is
      probably what some philosophers accuse them of. I know that's not true. Bu=
      t
      how does one judge a theology?
      Why should I make a decision to accept Allen's theology beyond just sayi=
      ng
      that I like it because it supplies many of the things I am looking for in a=

      theology (as if it were a car I'm shopping for)?

      Larry
    • Ulysses Castillo
      Hi, Forgive me that I can only be brief today. The Quadrilateral is, in my thinking, a means of trying to judge the validity (truthfulness?, accuracy?) of a
      Message 2 of 4 , May 4, 2004
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        Hi,

        Forgive me that I can only be brief today.

        The Quadrilateral is, in my thinking, a means of trying to judge the
        validity (truthfulness?, accuracy?) of a doctrine. But it should be
        recognized as something that is itself an imperfect means, and no one has
        yet come up with a perfect means (and we have good reasons to believe that
        no one will).

        From a purely philosophical perspective, the means (tests, criteria,
        methodology, whatever) of discerning truth are:
        1. logical consistency – does the argument logically cohere?
        2. empirical adequacy – does the empirical evidence weigh for or
        against the argument? How strongly?
        3. existential viability -- does the argument fit with how I
        experience and perceive the world? Does it actually answer the question?
        4. explanatory power – does the argument answer more questions or
        answer questions more completely than the alternatives?

        I believe the quadrilateral is this sort of methodology (more or less
        anyway) put into a Christian context, with God as the ultimate objective
        arbiter of who is right and who is wrong (a major advantage over non-theist
        positions in that they have no objective arbiter), and until we see him
        face-to-face, scripture must “speak” for him.

        Theologians, when they ponder some bit of doctrine, are hopefully trying to
        discern which doctrinal expression comes closest to being God’s own
        expression. Of course, you are doing the same thing when you read the work
        of theologians.

        If you read process theology and others who write against process theology
        and hopefully provide alternative views, you will use some combination of
        these criteria to decide whose thinking is best. The objections you note
        (that process theology leads to a less-powerful God) have to be weighed. Is
        the objection true? (Does it really lead to that?) Is the objection valid?
        (is God really all-powerful?). Does the objection matter? (is God being
        all-powerful important to God, your life and the world?). If so, then the
        theology fails to have sufficient logical consistency, existential
        relevance, and explanatory power. If you believe scripture says God really
        is all-powerful and process theology really says God isn’t, and if it really
        matters, then something is really wrong with process theology--unless all
        the other alternatives are even worse. Or from the Wesleyan Quad
        standpoint, it fails to have sufficient reason, experience, and scriptural
        support (and probably tradition too). Of course, whether process theology
        makes a less-powerful God is only one of the questions to ask of it, and
        learning which questions are the right questions to ask is even tougher than
        analyzing the answers! (Which is why I spend so much time reading
        point-counterpoint type books, which help me see both sides to get a clearer
        picture of a doctrine and its issues).

        It is interesting that you said: “Someone could criticize Nietzsche's
        philosophy as tending to lead to ideas of a master race and fascism.”
        Because of course Nietzsche would not only agree with the critic, he wouldn’
        t consider it a criticism. Which brings up our worldview. The way we view
        the world will largely determine how much certain arguments make sense. Two
        different people with different worldviews will perceive the same evidence
        in different ways, the same logical argument in different ways, the same
        existential viability in different ways. And I really don’t know how to get
        a person who has a different worldview to see that your worldview is better
        if he really doesn’t believe it is. It’s this existential aspect that I
        think makes this whole process a whole lot harder and a whole lot more gray
        instead of black-and-white.

        It’s this existential aspect that is the main reason why I’m not a
        Calvinist. Because, Calvinism, from a certain viewpoint, is pretty
        logically consistent, fairly empirically adequate (scripturally), and has a
        decent level of explanatory power. But it doesn’t fit the way I perceive
        God, myself, and the world around me—it completely lacks existential viabili
        ty. I can’t perceive the kind of God and the kind of world that Calvinists
        perceive. And because of that, the logical arguments and empirical evidence
        pretty much fall apart.

        All I can say is, in the end, God is the one who will decide, and all our
        cloudy thinking will be brought to light. I hope I haven’t made things
        cloudier for you than they were before.

        Ulysses




        -----Original Message-----
        From: hamgears [mailto:lmitchell@...]
        Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2004 2:51 PM
        To: wesleyantheology@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [Wesleyan Theology] Re: quad questions

        Thanks for your comments, Ulysses. I particularly liked this: The adherent=
        to
        radical sola scriptura
        basically says something like this: "I can understand scripture perfectly
        well. I don't need you. I don't need God's church. I don't need scholars.
        I don't need the thousands of years of deep Christian thinking. I have
        eyes; all I have to do is open the book and there it is, plain for me to
        see. And if you can't see the Bible the same way I do…well, there's just
        something wrong with you then." And I think you went on to say this
        fragmented way of looking at things is not what God intended.

        But how are we to judge the validity of a theology? Is the quad a means =
        of
        trying to do that?
        Lately, I've been reading a book, "The Path of Perfect Love," by Diogenes=

        Allen, who teaches philosophy at Princeton Seminary. He seems to make a
        case for generally orthodox Christian beliefs.
        He says perfect love is what God intends us to aspire to (even though we =

        can't achieve it completely or really come anywhere close). He defines perf=
        ect
        love as perfect recognition that you are just one center of reality (and
        consciousness) among many, that others have rights, wishes, feelings and
        exist as real individuals.
        And he argues that this goal makes sense because the closer we come to it=
        ,
        the closer we come to apprehending reality as it really is. (This would se=
        em
        to be a good appeal to reason).
        However, he goes on to say that this is the way (perfect love) the three =

        persons of the Trinity perceive and relate to each other (in perfect love) =
        and
        that God created us as an act of love, giving up something of his own power=
        to
        let us exist.
        I haven't finished the book yet. So, I don't know all the arguments Allen=
        will
        give for his theology. But one thing he's said in what I've read so far is =
        that he
        values the ideas he has put forth because they counter process theology.
        What do you suppose he could mean by that?
        I guess what I am asking is how do theologians work? Do they try to com=
        e
        up with theologies they like better than what others have put forward? For=

        instance, Allen says that process theology gives only a God of limited powe=
        r.
        And presumably, his theology puts forth a God of unlimited power. So does =

        that make his theology better?
        As I mentioned before, Outler tries to suggest that Tillich's theology d=
        oesn't
        provide for holy living.
        I suppose this makes sense. Someone could criticize Nietzsche's
        philosophy as tending to lead to ideas of a master race and fascism.
        But is it correct to judge a philosophy or theology as being lacking bec=
        ause
        it doesn't provide for all of things we'd like life and the world to be?
        That sounds a bit like theologians are creating "pie in the sky," which =
        is
        probably what some philosophers accuse them of. I know that's not true. Bu=
        t
        how does one judge a theology?
        Why should I make a decision to accept Allen's theology beyond just sayi=
        ng
        that I like it because it supplies many of the things I am looking for in a=

        theology (as if it were a car I'm shopping for)?

        Larry












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