The last Theology Unplugged on “Theological Arrogence” is the most popular broadcast that I can remember. In it, I talked the need for our theology to humiliate us. I think we will continue this conversation with Sam Storms on the next broadcast. In preparation for this, I present “Getting Theologically Humiliated.”

No one likes to be told they are wrong. Correction and critique are things we go out of our way to avoid. Those who can ask the tough questions about your life—probing deep when they suspect some spiritual sickness—are not often not welcome friends. We don’t pick up the phone when they call. We avoid them at work. We don’t return their emails. Why? Because they can tell us the skinny about our life and we don’t want to hear it. We are prideful people who, like the priest, choose to walk far around the problems in our life, and we ask others to do the same.

As problematic as this mentality is with regards to things having to do with moral integrity, I believe that the problem is just as severe with regards to theological integrity.

Everyone hates to be critiqued. I remember going into seminary with a good deal of pride and arrogance. I did not recognize it at the time, but now that I look back now I can see it. I remember in my first preaching course, I could not wait to get in front of the other students and the professor and deliver my masterpiece. They would call me “Michael the Golden Mouth.” Oh yeah . . . recognition was coming. But my teacher did not see things the way my mind’s-eye had envisioned. I remember I preached for fifteen minutes on the Psalms. Afterwords I had to sit down and listen to my professor rip me to shreds in front of twenty other seminary students who gawked in fear as they knew they were next. Here is the type of critique we came to expect.

  • “Where did you come up with that? That is not in the text. Good sermon, wrong text.”
  • “You selectively used that translation because it supported your view.”
  • “That was completely boring. Your audience will be thinking about the football game within two minutes.”
  • “You need to go home and come back and tell us what the text really means.”

This hurt. Many students want to drop out of seminary after their first evaluation. We have to have post-sermon-support-groups encouraging others that this still may be God’s call for them.

Writing an exegetical paper in the New Testament department was no less fearful. Upon turning it in the comments would come back:

  • “What makes you think you can use Strong’s for your word study? Don’t you know it is outdated.”
  • “You took this completely out of context.”
  • “You cannot use a John MacArthur commentary for an exegetical. It is a preaching commentary!”
  • “Did you check your sources or did you get this from secondary sources?”
  • “How did you come up with that interpretation when the entire history of the church has failed to see it?”

In the theology department the damage got worse:

  • “You completely misrepresented your opponent. Rewrite this paper.”
  • “You are selectively quoting Luther. Did you read him yourself or get this from someone else?”
  • “Your prejudice is guiding your beliefs. Who’s to say that your mom and dad were right?”
  • “Your certainty level on this is uncalled for. You may be right, but you have to hold this in tension.”

Concerning these critiques—concerning these beatings I took—there is something you should know—most of the time I was theologically correct in my conclusions. I thought that this is all that mattered. Hey, if I did not do the word study right, who cares? As long as I came to the right answer—wasn’t this acceptable? Isn’t the right answer what we ultimately are trying to find? This was not good enough! I learned that how you come to your conclusions is just as important as the conclusions themselves. In the end, I was humiliated so that I could be humbled.

In just about every discipline of thought, you have accountability. If you are a doctor, you cannot just develop and prescribe a new medicine because your mother told you all your life that it worked. If you do, you will go to jail. As a scientist, your works will be scrutinized by your peers in published journals. As a physicist, you cannot invent a new law of nature based upon a dream or vision. As a judge, you cannot judge people based upon subjective opinions or a deep inner peace. The constitution prevents this. If you are a soldier, you cannot disregard your superior and come up with a new battle plan because you were enlightened by a new book you read on fighting techniques. In all these areas there is an accountability structure that provides discipline and guards against novelty and abuse. Within each exists a system of checks and balances that, for the most part, provides integrity. In other words, you cannot just do or believe anything. If you violate these constraints, you will be humiliated and humbled.

Sadly we have an epidemic of the lack of theological discipline in the church today. People think that they can believe and teach anything based upon a subjective experience or a provision of hope. This epidemic is caused due to lack of theological accountability. We don’t think we need people to tell us we are wrong. We don’t have any system of checks and balances; in fact, we often avoid them. We think that if we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we have license. There is no way to be humiliated so that we can be humbled.

Because of this lack of discipline we have people out there believing and teaching based upon wild hairs. They are prescribing spiritual medicine that they invented. Sadly the average person is the spiritual test rat. I wonder what the “faith-is-a-force” people did when they first got the idea that faith was a force that we could control. Did they consult anyone about this? Did they have theological advisers? Did they have someone who would tell them that they was wrong? Did they consult church history or biblical exegetes? Did they even have a method for validating their beliefs?

Integrity of belief is essential for every Christian. We all need trustworthy sources to which we can turn to test our beliefs. We need to have learned how to handle the Scriptures properly. We need to learn not only the right beliefs, but how to come to the right beliefs the right way. We all need to be humbled . . . often. We even need to get the snot kicked out every once in a while. We need battle scars of discipline. We need to have friendships with people who will tell us we are in left field. We need to fear discipline enough that we will think twice about believing or teaching something novel.

In the early church Christians went through a rigorous discipleship process (notice the connection between disciple and discipline). Once you became a Christian you went through a three year boot camp. You were called a catechumen, derived from the Greek katechein, meaning “to teach” or instruct.” For three years your theology was shaped and scrutinized by superiors in the church. Did you get that? Three years. During this time your superior(s) mentored you through the faith. We see this illustrated in ancient church documents such as the Apostolic Traditions, the Apostolic Constitutions, the Canons of Hippolytus, and the Testamentum Domini. The church would not accept a new convert to the faith without this rigorous discipleship process. They took serious Christ’s command to “make disciples.”

From the Didascalia Apostolorum we read, “When the heathen desire and promise to repent, saying ‘We believe,’ we receive them into the congregation so that they may hear the word, but do not receive them into communion until the receive they seal and are fully initiated” (2.39).

This initiation did not come for three full years. Why? For two reasons. 1) The early church did not assume that a profession of faith was sincere, having seen many who once professed and then turned away either in doctrine or in practice. 2) They wanted to ensure the health and stability of the new converts belief.

Cyril of Jerusalem reflects on the importance of theological stability: “Let me compare the catechizing to a building. Unless we methodically bind and joint the whole structure together, we shall have leaks and dry rot, and all our previous exertions will be wasted” (Prochatechesis 11). This training provided a fail-safe that Christianity would be represented correctly and that the “believers” would truly believe, knowing what they were getting themselves into. In other words, they gave them an opportunity not to believe so that they might truly believe.

This process may seem extreme to us today, but consider where we are at. Once one becomes a Christian, the most they normally receive is a four week membership class that deals less with theology and more with church polity. But for the most part they don’t even get this. We tell them to ask Christ into their heart then we send them on their way with our blessing. In reality, we don’t know what has been created. At best, we have just placed a new born baby on the streets telling them to be filled and happy.

Is it any wonder that the church has such an epidemic for theological integrity? Should we really expect any different?

Who are we accountable to for our beliefs? When we get a wild hair about some theological issue, where do we turn? Better, where does this wild hair come from and who gave us the right to have a wild hair? “Wild.” Look it up in the dictionary and you will see that it means “undisciplined, unruly, or lawless.”

We need serious theological training. We need discipline. We need to be humiliated theologically. We need to know that we cannot do whatever we want with Christian belief and expect there to be so many lab rats available. If you have not been trained theologically, you need to be. This does not mean that you have read a book or two on theology, but you need to be in some sort of program that systematically, from beginning to end, takes you through the Christian faith, teaching you not only what to think and believe, but how to think and believe. We all need to be critiqued, disciplined, and humbled. We need more spiritual black eyes. We also need to be prepared to do the same with others.

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 13:10 By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.

Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored.

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    37 replies to "Getting Theologically Humiliated"

    • EricW

      “Sadly we have an epidemic of theological discipline in the church today.”

      Or perhaps: “Sadly we have an epidemic of undisciplined theology in the church today.”

      – – –

      Sadly, I suspect that a large number of pastors who got the kind of dressing-down that you got in seminary would storm out of the room in anger, instead of let themselves be humbled. I know that one of my former pastors did not take kindly to being corrected, even in private.

      I hope I’m wrong.

    • C Michael Patton

      Ummm…yeah Eric. That works better. Don’t you ever try to correct me again!

    • Warren Lamb

      Very timely post, for sure, and there are many of us who have long been decrying the lack of solid theological training and the depressing depth of biblical illiteracy in our leadership (which, of course, translates to lack of training for those following the leaders). And, some of us – present company included, I know – have devoted ourselves to turning the tide.

      The question remains: Are we making a difference?

      We have to believe that we are, or why else would we remain at the wheel? Why else would we willingly face the snubbings and sneerings and scoffings of those who believe that everyone has the “right” to call themself a Christian if they want to – after all, who is to say who really is or isn’t a Christian – and those who think that we are too demanding and too restrictive and too narrow-minded?

      Good word here, Michael. And, much more irenically presented than I have done of late. Perhaps I can “creatively borrow” some of your verbage…

    • mbaker

      CMP,

      I was totally syncing with you until you said this:

      “We need serious theological training. We need discipline. We need to be humiliated theologically. We need to know that we cannot do whatever we want with Christian belief and expect there to be so many lab rats available. If you have not been trained theologically, you need to be. This does not mean that you have read a book or two on theology, but you need to be in some sort of program that systematically, from beginning to end, takes you through the Christian faith, teaching you not only what to think and believe, but how to think and believe.”

      Does that mean it is the Bible, the Holy Spirit, AND serious formal theological training (vis a vis seminaries, etc;) that we need to effectively understand what God is saying?

      As a lay Christian who has been humiliated by my LACK of seminary training, by so called trained theologians who were actually in error themselves, could you expand upon that a little more? I’m just wondering where do we draw the line?

      Trust me, I’m not saying we shouldn’t delve deeper, because I strive to understand what the Bible is teaching, but just asking do we lay Chrisitians really need to have formal training to be able to separate truth from error biblically? Where does discernment enter into it?

    • John From Down Under

      We need battle scars of discipline

      Michael before I quote this on my FB wall, I’ll exercise some authorial integrity and check that this is a CMP original and not a paraphrase of someone else 😉

    • Warren Lamb

      @mbaker

      Where does this discernment come from? Is there a foundation to it? Is it based in something that is objectiveley true and, therefore, is known to others as well? Before you answer “From the Holy Spirit,” we need to remember that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to believers from the beginning, so we are part of a continuity of faith and discernment, not new revelation…

    • mbaker

      Warren,

      I think you are assuming that is where I am coming from. Actually just the opposite. I was part of hyper-charismania for a while that taught that we should ONLY go by what our ‘trained’ leaders taught about the Holy Spirit, simply because they were ‘trained’. Unfortunately, I fell for that. I am just saying how does the ordinary person understand what the Bible is saying correctly? Obviously the majority of us don’t or won’t have formal seminary training to get that. I am just saying is that necessarily a requirement to do so to properly understand what Christianity is teaching?

    • Hodge

      mbaker,

      There aren’t a whole lot of trained theologians within the hyper-charismatic movement. You have people who have gone to seminary, but it’s not that rigorous, trust me. 😉

      I think a systematic theology program everyone should go through is called the Church. The problem is that churches are too busy impressing and stimulating people so that they don’t lose numbers that theology is pushed to special studies on other nights or nonexistent altogether; but I agree with Michael, everyone needs to go through it. If your church is not doing this, find one that is.

    • mbaker

      Hodge,

      Thankfully I now have that one that does, but not from the standpoint that we need to be trained theologians to understand the Bible, only that it is our pastor’s job, who HAVE been trained to properly educate us in it, to do THEIR job the right way. And if they are taking that responsibility as shephards seriously, and following the Bible, they are more interested in training up true disciples, not just wasting their education by giving lip service to their own brand of Christianity.

      So, I absolutely agree with you when you say:

      “The problem is that churches are too busy impressing and stimulating people so that they don’t lose numbers that theology is pushed to special studies on other nights or nonexistent altogether.”

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • Paige-Patric Samuels

      We have a series endemic when it comes to to theology, one of the all to obvious situation is the elutriation of the Word of God the bible and an over emphasis on spirt.
      This is apparent in Pentecostal and Charismatic movement as they serve 17% of the believing evangelicals today within Christendom. What has happened in these circles is a lack of Reflective practice, the central goal of theology is to understand and describe what we believe as Christians, what we hold to be true given our faith in Jesus Christ. The role of theology then enables us to critically reflect through examining and reexamine ones ones own epistemology. The major problem with most believers is that they have not been able to do any real deductive reflections, as a result, he/she will arrive at a logical conclusion based upon the assumptions that he/she have unearth.
      this reflective practicum is a series of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
      this is not done in an arm chair, rather, it is conducted within the confines of a theological seminary, as I went through seminary college in the UK, At Trinity Dublin; it was more cognitive and reflective in thinking , where one had to conduct a series of questions, What, Why, When, Who. and in our research, it would involve looking at the source and the bases of our source, and the validity and reliability of that assumption. Today reflective thinking in theology requires how relevant is our theology in a postmodern culture, how do we engage in a secular vacuum. Going to college/University enable me as well as others to look at these question and engage and articulate our faith in the light of new truth.
      Soil Deo goria

    • ScottL

      The whole 3-year wait thing sounds very intensive, and I have heard it quoted a few times, but those in Acts had no problem immediately baptising those newly born again.

      Now, in the early church, one might argue it was mainly Jewish and they did have some background in the faith already. But now that it is mainly ‘Gentile’, then we have a different story.

      This is worth considering, but you must remember that Samaritans and Gentiles alike in Acts were immediately baptised and drawn into the community of faith.

      I am all up for strong teaching and discipleship. It is for our health. But, to quote something in the article – Good illustration, wrong time to make it. 😉

    • JohnC

      Good post Michael. Like the first poster, I have seen far too many friends (including myself) grow angry at the thought of having to wait for ministry and be rebuked. Sometimes I get a feel that to some, being a pastor is a checklist of education then being the “nicest guy around”.

    • Karen

      I am blessed to see such an article as this one. For many years, wherever I went online to some spiritual forum, I discovered it took a very short time to find out what that congregation or denomination was all about…because their church emphasis and issues were always at the forefront. All other issues dropped out quickly due to lack of interest. I believe that, if the number is true, if we have over 40,000 Christian denominations world-wide, is because people have not been able to reconcile, and these splits and arguments show that people have not been able to resolve and agree on doctrinal issues. People do not even realize that they became victims of past arguments when certain questions arise and have no idea where the hostility came from. Furthermore, we have entered a time with the internet, that the misfits who don’t exactly believe the way that others do, come to the internet to find others that agree, but have a hard time. For those others want you to agree with them. If you don’t, you are booted out. So we have the scenario of everyone wanting to belong somewhere, but no one is tolerant of anyone else (my way or the highway and the elitist bunch thinking–no one is saved but them) unless you bend. So, I began to see, it is not about seeking Truth but it is about seeking a Following. (More to follow)

    • Karen

      One thing that gave me such peace of mind, was one day I was reading John 9, and I put my feet in the shoes of the blind man and thought about it. How easy it was for him to believe in the God Who stood before Him and Healed him and he could see! BUT there are also many in the New Testament who did not have it so easy (to believe). After Jesus fed the thousands, the Pharisees came to HIM and asked for a sign.
      Even more, Jesus seemed to often say, after HE healed someone, Go thy way, thy faith has saved you. HE did not knuckle them down and say you had to do this or that and learn all this doctrine first.
      It was belief HE was/is looking for. Trust in Him.

      And I really see that everyone is on their own road to God.
      Some have it really easy and see many things, while others do not have it easy at all.

      And I think that is what we are seeing today; those that are not seeing, and their walk is very difficult…

      I think this is why things have become so hard.

    • A. Amos Love

      And just where are we supposed to go to get this theological training?
      We have thousands of denominations, all with seminaries, and “ALL”
      disagree about something. How do you know who is teaching lies?

      We are warned many times to NOT trust in man.
      Jer 17:5 …Cursed be the man that trusteth in man…
      Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words…
      2Thes 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means…
      1John 3:7 Little children, Let no man deceive you …

      The Bible warns about 1-False apostles. 2- Many false prophets.
      3- False teachers. 4- False brethren. 5- False Christ’s (false anointed ones).
      6- Deceitful workers.7- Evil workers. 8- Dogs and Swine.

      Seems the seminaries, and “Steeple Corporations” aren’t doing
      a very good job training pastors and leaders. The stats are horrible.

      http://pastoralcareinc.com/WhyPastoralCare/Statistics.php

      # 80% of pastors’ spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
      # 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
      …………..Many pastor’s children do not attend church now
      ……………because of what the church has done to their parents.
      # 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.

      There’s also a book out titled “Leaders who last”
      The front cover of the book says, “Only 30% of leaders last.”
      Doesn’t that mean, 70% of leaders don’t last – FAIL.
      Seems like a very dangerous “position” to assume. “Leader.”
      And wannabee pastors and leaders continue to pay hugh sums of money
      thinking they are getting proper “theological training.”

      No, I don’t think “theological training” from seminaries, and
      501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax deductible, Religious Corporations, is working.
      “The Religious System” of today is a mess.

      Think I’ll stick with Jesus for proper training.

      John 6:45
      It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.

    • nazaroo

      As someone self-taught in so many Christian areas of study, I have to say something like what Gandalf said, when presented with the mail-shirt and sword of Frodo by the Sargent of the Black Gate:

      “These we will take, – in memory of our friends.” (not the offer of surrender terms).

      Whatever demoralization we often face as Christians, we should persevere and continue to stand, and not be bluffed or conned by the enemies of faith.

      peace
      Nazaroo

    • kwilson

      “In the early church Christians went through a rigorous discipleship process (notice the connection between disciple and discipline). Once you became a Christian you went through a three year boot camp.”

      A very good idea. However, in most evangelical churches today, even the suggestion of this is rebuffed as unnecessary, lacking in faith and too time consuming for busy people. A few sermons and a ‘life group’ (that should read ‘bunch of people wandering around the truth with little knowledgeable guidance’) are seen as the substitute.

      Having suggested the idea of studying catechism and similar material as necessary in several forums, and being met with a firm yawn, I can testify that we are indeed a long way from the Kansas of Reformation, Dorothy.

      Mores the pity…

    • Wolf Veizer

      CMP,

      Is it ok to ask you a question directly? It would be wonderfully enlightening to get your personal view on this.

      How do you, as a theologian, consider what you do to be humble? It seems that encouraging other people to accept ancient documents and the structure of Christianity as if they were representations of revelatory knowledge from an all-knowing and morally impeccable being would require a nearly unfathomable degree of certainty.

      How did you arrive at the point where you were so confident in your own conclusions on the infallibility of these human-authored texts and socially derived thought systems, to such a degree that you could advise others to base their entire lives on them? Or perhaps you gained knowledge that this faith and these texts were transcendently guided by divinity, so how did you gain the certitude to assert this?

      Given that many people choose different life paths based on the content of these ancient documents on which you’ve founded your worldview, what was necessary before you were willing to take such a strong stance as you now do?

      And from where do you derive the kind of certainty necessary to tell an individual, wholly and thoroughly confident that his worldview of Islam and the Quran are right, is actually wrong?

      Did this certainty grow over time, or did you get this sense of certainty in a short instant? Can you describe it?

      Please understand that this is asked only with the sincerest curiosity. The mind of a theologian appears to be a fascinating place, so perhaps you can shine some light on it for us!

    • C Michael Patton

      Wolf,

      This is really off track, but I would say that all of your questions would be answered by this: I believe Christ rose from the grave. There are implications to this that extend into my entire worldview.

      I don’t think it is prideful to believe a historical event as true, especially since, in my opinion, the evidence all points in this direction.

    • nazaroo

      EDITED FOR SELF PROMOTION AND BEING OFF TOPIC

    • C Michael Patton

      Please try to stay on topic. Read the rules. Don’t self promote.

    • Ken G.

      Michael,

      I don’t think wolf’s questions were OT at all. I for one would love to see you answer them.

      He never did say that believing an event was historical was prideful. It wouldn’t be prideful if you stopped at that.

      I think he was asking how you are SO certain about an event that happened 2000 years ago, and the supposed doctrine that it is interpreted to support, that you can tell other people they should change the way they live their lives. You clearly have a ton of other assumptions you think you can make based on that belief, which does start to smack of pride-

      Especially when there are so many people who have more education than you do who are equally confident that your “historical” “fact” is wrong.

    • C Michael Patton

      Ken,

      I am not sure what you mean by “so” certian. I believe it and my certianty of it is relative to the type of grounding you are looking for. I believe lots of historical events, but in all of these I would never label myself as “so” certain. Certitude comes in all shapes and sizes. There is emotional certianty, emperical certianty, logical certianty, spiritual certiantly, and the cumulatetive certianty.

      All of these together create the Christian’s level of certianty. I am not sure how it is prideful to take these and ground myself in them.

      I just left GA where there is a very real cultural debate where a certian segment of the population believes that NASA faked the landing on the moon. Is it prideful for one to go against this movement and believe in the landing on the moon?

      I think you are defining pride in a very different way. Pride is a high sense of one’s personal status. I can assure you that it is not pride that makes me think that Christ rose from the grace. It is simply a level of conviction. Just because you believe something that is going to demand that alternative conclusions are wrong does not make one prideful.

      But, again, way off topic (not to mention that this post is a little too old for me to engage in this way. I rarely engage in posts at all!)

    • Wolf Veizer

      CMP,

      (Again, its not clear why you claim this is OT, when it clearly is not.)

      You have a habit – and this is an observation, not at all a criticism – of stating one belief and ignoring all actual questions. The problem with that approach is that the statement of your faith does not address the questions asked.

      We all know you accept the resurrection as history. We also know that you assume a lot of other things because you feel justified doing so, based on your belief in this.

      But that wasn’t the question. It is always convenient to answer the “implications of a real resurrection are many.” But you can’t actually claim to have some superhuman ability to just “know” that the resurrection was historical (do you?). You had to arrive at that conclusion either because you sensed it was right, or because you used the rational tools of your brain to decide it was right.

      The point was never to convince you to change your decision about what you think is true. It seems pretty clear that you are convinced, for whatever reason, that you already have it right. One could easily pick an argument with you about whether your claim for the historicity of the resurrection is accurate, but that won’t serve us here.

      The question is how one arrives at a point where he is so convinced of one truth that he can elaborately describe opinions in fields as diverse as cosmology, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, without apparent knowledge of the current content in these fields, and without yielding any evidence for such opinions. You suggest people make life changing decisions based on YOUR certainty.

      You aren’t even being asked to defend your actual belief.

      So the question still stands as posed, and we curiously await your answer. Just how did you arrive at this stunning degree of certainty?

    • C Michael Patton

      Wolf, you must have missed 23.

      I don’t really get where you are going. The only thing I can do is repeat what I said in 23. The next question has to do with justification of the various levels of epistemic certitude as compared to every other option that is out there, probable or not. You have a certain criteria that you are looking for which you believe justifies a level of certitude (and pride, I suppose). We would have to match up our criteria and then discuss according to our agreement therein.

      Therefore, it comes down to assumptions, any of which I am willing to explain (and have done so many times on this blog). However, my statement still stands that it would be so far off the subject of this post that I cannot go there. You must understand the nature of these blog posts and my time commitment to engagement.

      However, you may say that this is not off topic. But since I wrote the blog post and see nothing more than an ancillary connection to being theologically humiliated (creativity can create an ancillary connection to anything!), I will have to (humbly!) say that you are wrong.

      You can certainly find dozens of posts on this blog that debate the merits of the resurrection (and, hence, whether it is prideful to believe such) and I am sure that I will write more in the future, But, for now, you will just have to concede to my belief, fallible it may be, that this is off subject. And we need not debate whether it is off topic or not!

    • Ken G.

      Michael,

      Is it really that complicated? Why “so” certain? Why does it indicate pride?

      It seems like all of that has already been explained. And the moon-expedition conspiracy theory is hardly a good defense.

      Very, very few in mainstream academia attest to that conspiracy theory, while a huge number of them (I would venture the vast, vast majority) soundly reject the solemn historicity of your resurrection story. Most importantly, though, they are not trying to tell people what is right or wrong about the way they live their lives based on some historical event, all while not having evidence of their various stemming opinions.

      Maybe you underestimate the amount of sway a “theologian” like yourself has over people. You have already challenged Stephen Hawking, all of mainstream biology, and much more just in the short time I’ve been reading this blog. Yet you always base your opinion on everything BUT the evidence that’s actually relevant, and then when you’re questioned you simply say you have religious beliefs that justify it.

      Your definition of pride is great – very relevant. So can you explain how you derived such a high view of yourself that you can use your assumptions to steer the very lives of scores of other humans?

      And it would still be interesting for you to actually answer Wolf’s questions… (But we’ll understand if you are too busy).

    • C Michael Patton

      Oh, its not too bad today. I am just sitting here at the Credo House listening to some lectures.

      You said: “You have already challenged Stephen Hawking, all of mainstream biology, and much more just in the short time I’ve been reading this blog. Yet you always base your opinion on everything BUT the evidence that’s actually relevant, and then when you’re questioned you simply say you have religious beliefs that justify it.”

      The issue of biology I can only assume that you are talking about the Turkey Buzzard question? I was not challenging biology. I was asking a question. Whatever context you took the question may have been based on your assumptions about how others you have encountered have dealt with such. It might interest you to believe that I learned much from that thread. I have no need to ask such questions of evolutionists any longer as I now understand much better. In short, it was not a challenge. I don’t think I have ever challenged biology on this site, but I could be wrong.

      Concerning Hawking, I simply dealt with the philosophy behind some of the cliff notes of his new book. I took his philosophy and attempted to show how it parallels Christianity’s. It was not an issue of cosmology, but of philosophy.

      However, there is a bigger issue on the table here, I think. When I write, I write to different type of people. Most of the time I write to those who already believe the way I do. Sometimes I write to challenge them and others I write to encourage them. Often I write very personally to show my own struggles. Very rarely to I write to people who don’t agree with me in a way that demonstrates some sort of assumed authority.

      If you have ever taken any of my classes in The Theology Program you would see that I lay out the various options. I work under the philosophy that it is best to educate rather than indoctrinate. My prior assumption about the power of the Holy Spirit gives me comfort in such a methodology. I believe that two people who have the same information can come to drastically different conclusions. The reason for this is not as simple as saying that we are going to believe only according to our prior convictions, culture, or upbringing (although those do have a large part to play), but because one cannot accept the truths about Christ outside of the intervention of God. After all, my worldview demands such a stance (1 Cor. 2).

      1 Cor. 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

      Now, this is not merely a “punt” to the Spirit, but an underlying assumption that Christians must have when we teach or preach.

      I don’t know either you or Wolf so I don’t know if you are Christians. Either way, I am not undermining the validity of your questions in certain context. They are wonderful questions. But to say How are you so certain about such and such truth? Or, I think, more precisely, How are you so certain as to preach such and such truth as truth? requires that we define who my assumed audience is. One speaks to those who already believe someone landed on the moon with a different tone and level of assumed conviction than does one who is trying to educate a skeptic.

      Could there be pride in both of these? Sure. But education does not assume pride. Preaching does not assume pride. Pride is an attitude of arrogance that is intrinsic to the person, not the conviction.

    • Wolf Veizer

      CMP,

      Sorry to have gone off topic then. The post topic was all about checking academically and authoritatively and wisely to test ones theological structure and beliefs, before bing swayed by sundry opinions based incorrectly or insubstantially. It seemed asking how you derived your theological underpinnings was a fair question, but perhaps not.

      It’s especially confusing that this could have been off topic, given the nature of your blog to begin with. It seems you find it on topic when the theologians on your blog opine on every non-theolgoical topic available.

      It also is unfortunate that we spent so much time discussing explanations of the original question. A bried explanation of how you experienced a revelation or how you rationally decided your belief system (or whatever combination) would have taken up less of your important time than the explanations you gave of why the question was off topic. It is unfortunate.

    • C Michael Patton

      Wolf,

      In essence, you seem to be either asking me to to defend why I believe in the resurrection or to explain how my defense is not arrogant. I am not sure which.

      But you must understand that if you are asking me to defend all the reasons why I believe in the resurrection of Christ in the comment section here is not only off topic, but unreasonable. For one, this blog has dozens of posts on the subject. For another, I can’t spend my time writing what would amount to be 10,000 words on such a topic in the comments section here. However, if you are serious about why I believe such, I would suggest you read my other posts. Better, you could pick up Habermas and Licona’s book on the subject. It pretty much square with them with the additional belief about cultural impact through history.

      If you are asking the second question, then I think I responded to such in #27. If that does not help you, it is really the best I got. I am willing to entertain follow-ups to that if you wish as I am just hanging out writing right now.

    • C Michael Patton

      I will repeat the main point of 27 here for you Wolf:

      When I write, I write to different type of people. Most of the time I write to those who already believe the way I do. Sometimes I write to challenge them and others I write to encourage them. Often I write very personally to show my own struggles. Very rarely to I write to people who don’t agree with me in a way that demonstrates some sort of assumed authority.

      If you have ever taken any of my classes in The Theology Program you would see that I lay out the various options. I work under the philosophy that it is best to educate rather than indoctrinate. My prior assumption about the power of the Holy Spirit gives me comfort in such a methodology. I believe that two people who have the same information can come to drastically different conclusions. The reason for this is not as simple as saying that we are going to believe only according to our prior convictions, culture, or upbringing (although those do have a large part to play), but because one cannot accept the truths about Christ outside of the intervention of God. After all, my worldview demands such a stance (1 Cor. 2).

      1 Cor. 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

      Now, this is not merely a “punt” to the Spirit, but an underlying assumption that Christians must have when we teach or preach.

      I don’t know either you or Wolf so I don’t know if you are Christians. Either way, I am not undermining the validity of your questions in certain context. They are wonderful questions. But to say How are you so certain about such and such truth? Or, I think, more precisely, How are you so certain as to preach such and such truth as truth? requires that we define who my assumed audience is. One speaks to those who already believe someone landed on the moon with a different tone and level of assumed conviction than does one who is trying to educate a skeptic.

      Could there be pride in both of these? Sure. But education does not assume pride. Preaching does not assume pride. Pride is an attitude of arrogance that is intrinsic to the person, not the conviction.

    • Karen

      Greetings. Just a quick note; perhaps it will help. I noticed the question on resurrection…which obviously makes it a question if this was God Who died and rose from the dead..
      .
      Just one tiny facet of why it was God Who died for us (and able to rise again)…

      So much of the OT is about Blood Covenants. A Blood Covenant could not be broken. If one of the parties of a Blood Covenant BROKE the covenant, that one had to die. Moses and his people made a Blood Covenant with God at the base of the mountain. They promised to obey the Blood Covenant, which actually in this case was a Law Contract. They promised God they would obey these Laws and it was a Blood Covenant. The problem was, they could not keep the Law perfectly, and nor can we. We are in the same boat. And this is the amazing thing, GOD came to earth to die in our place. What we deserved, He took upon Himself. We broke the Laws of God, but God took our place. HE died in our place, and Jesus said HE fulfilled the Law.
      Thereby, the One Who came to save us, was Perfect. He was God. God shed His Blood for us. He died, and rose again (John 2:19-21).

      I say that just to say one tiny aspect of our Amazing Lord, Who died for us and why. But this also shows that it was God Who died for us because that was the Blood Covenant…it was made between man and God. And it was God Who took our place. What we deserved, fell upon HIM.

      God bless you all in Jesus’ Name.

    • Wolf Veizer

      It’s great that you were able to find time. Perhaps this will turn out to be a productive exchange.

      You were never asked to defend the resurrection. That would be off topic. The original question was merely an expression of curiosity into the process that you think led you your current position.

      So, on to your response:

      You keep speaking in very general terms about audience base and epistemic classes of certainty. It seems you are beating around a bush that neednt be there.

      Whether you are CMP, or Steinberg, Miller, St. Augustine, or whoever, you have still made decisions. You clearly take your opinions with the highest regard for your own decision making skills, as you see fit to spread your opinions about en masse on the greatest variety of subjects, encouraging or discouraging people to change their lives (for better or worse). You can argue your lack of pride all day long, and perhaps you simply do have a very, very high regard for your own decision-making and this is just “humble” and sincere confidence.

      Of course due to your own neurobiological weaknesses (which you seem blissfully unaware of, or which you unustifiably yet conveniently *assume* you are not hindered by), and championing a worldview as you do, your confidence is misplaced and inappropriate.
      It might have been appropriate in the state of ignorance present when your sacred texts were composed, but it is inexcusable in the 21st century. (Please do correct if you have some kind of evidence otherwise. And you need not waste time with the “I can only give non-observational, untestable evidence” – unless you would grace us by actually describing if you have found even ONE piece of evidence not derived from observation or brain sensation – you’d have a first in theological history).

      Perhaps the most interesting paragraph in your response was this…

      : “I believe that two people who have the same information can come to drastically different conclusions. The reason for…

    • Wolf Veizer

      … And we continue…

      :”Now, this is not merely a “punt” to the Spirit, but an underlying assumption that Christians must have when we teach or preach. ”

      Ok, so we have openly established that you need no evidence because of this assumption (that you “have to” make to remain even slightly self-consistent in your Christian beliefs, but that again you have offered no evidence for). Now let’s play the same game you tried to play with your flawed analysis of Hawking’s work, because it actually works here.

      Where does your assumptive regression stop? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit because you believe the Bible? Do you believe in the Bible because of the (supposed)historical support for the resurrection? Pick one. Or name another one. You choose.

      Now, back, *again*, to the original question. Explain how you reached such incredible certainty that you could establish opinions you feel justified in using to change the course of others’ lives, all based on whatever your assumptive basis is.

      Again, not asking for evidence for it. Asking HOW. Was there a revelatory moment? Was it you, using your rational, conscious thought? Did you unconsciously just “accept” it as true?

      As previously stated, a brief answer would be great, so you neednt find an hour or two to respond in detail.

    • C Michael Patton

      “Ok, so we have openly established that you need no evidence because of this assumption.”

      Not at all. It is the the evidence is ineffective without the Holy Spirit. Christianity does not exist outside of the evidence, but there is a hostility toward God that makes the evidence ineffective outside his intervention.

      Isaiah 40-48 point out how faith without evidence is lunacy and outside of God’s pattern of establishing himself.

      You see how this is getting off topic now. There is simply too much prolegomena that has to be established before our assumptions, yours and mine, are established. You initial question was just too broad and filled with so much baggage (not that that is bad) that this post cannot possibly facilitate all that is needed.

    • C Michael Patton

      Again, I don’t believe that is it an act of pride to follow where I believe the evidence to lead, anymore than it is prideful to believe Kennedy was shot or the Holocaust happened. You talk about valid alternative opinions and this can only take place under your assumed worldview where there can be valid opinions (better, substantial opinions) that God does not exist. But again, I have to say that this does not fit if my worldview is true. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can allow us to release our antagonism and accept the truth.

      If you want me to step over to your worldview and argue from there, then we would be having a different conversation. But you can no more ask me to do that than for me to ask you to do the same for me.

      The only thing that I can say from my island to yours is that belief in the resurrection is not prideful but perfectly reasonable. You should be able to admit this much. It is also, outside of anti-supernaturalism, the simplest answer to the evidence. To believe in what is the simplest answer is not arrogant anymore than believing that the plane I will get on is not going to crash. It is simply the most reasonable.

      I hope that at least helps you to see why I don’t believe what I do (in its simplest form) is not necessarily arrogant.

      However, does such a role give me an opportunity for arrogance? Absolutely. Do I have to guard against it? Yes. Even more so than most other professions. Can what I do be completely controlled by arrogance? Yes. I could name many who are in my field that would describe. Do I ever fall into arrogance? Yes. Does that mean that what I do must always out of necessity be an arrogant occupation? No. Does this mean that if one says that what they say is true to the exclusion of others options is arrogant? No. Could be, but it does not need to be.

      Hope that answers your questions sufficiently my friend.

    • Wolf Veizer

      CMP,

      You’ve now chosen at least 2-3 times to avoid answering my questions and instead give a very lengthy and time-consuming answer that is very unrelated. That would be fine if you were actually addressing the issue, or at least effective if your audience was sufficiently confused by the subject to think you’d meaningfully done so.

      In this case you’ve done neither. So, you’ll be left one last time with a simple restatement of the question, addressing briefly one thing you said, and you can decide once more whether to answer the question or avoid it.

      You said:

      :”It is the the evidence is ineffective without the Holy Spirit. Christianity does not exist outside of the evidence, but there is a hostility toward God that makes the evidence ineffective outside his intervention…
      …The Holy Spirit is the only one who can allow us to release our antagonism and accept the truth.”

      Has it ever occurred to you that this is a proposition? Either it’s true or its false. Now, how did you come to know that it’s true?

      Do you actually suppose yourself to have come to know the propositional value of this statement about the Holy Spirit *without having to consider evidence* for it? You can’t have a pre-evidential axiom if you arrived at it via evidence. So did you wake up *just knowing it* one day?

      In fact, if you can answer that one question, it is probably nugatory to waste any of your time on addressing anything else in this response.

      We’ll stop there. It seems that finally the question has been put in simple enough terms that there shouldn’t be any confusion answering it.

    • Mary

      Hi michael,
      This is my first day looking around your blog. I enjoyed it and will come again. Curiously I wonder why Wolf ventures here at all since it seems he is looking for an argument rather than information. He appears to come with his mind closed and I thought you were very gracious in your response not rising to the bait dropped. So far from what I have been reading you do what is your intent…encourage. Thanks and I’ll be back.
      Mary, and a grandmother in Oregon

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