Monday, October 23, 2017

Did We Need The Government To End Private Segregation?

Hart failure

Unitarian solipsism

Recently I did another post on Dale Tuggy:

He attempted to respond: 

He's like a barfly who's too bleary-eyed to make his punches land on the target.   

At Triablogue apologist Steve Hays has posted on my critiques of purely philosophical arguments from theism to the Trinity. It is worth saying at the outset that most trinitarians don’t put any stock in such arguments. By far most have never so much as heard of them. 

Well, I don't know about that. For instance, Bruce Metzger deploys those arguments in his classic 1953 article on "The Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus Christ: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal" (Theology Today). And even though Metzger was a preeminent scholar, he wasn't a philosopher or original thinker, so he got those arguments from reading someone else. Hence, I doubt these arguments are as esoteric as Dale imagines. 

And among trinitarians with some philosophical education, enough to understand how such arguments are supposed to work, the wiser among them see how tenuous they are.

Yet he admits that Swinburne and Davis mount arguments like this. He's saying they lack wisdom? Davis teaches at Claremont, where Dale studied. Seems likely that Dale was a student of Davis. Does he think Davis is a hack? 

A very proper and reasonable skepticsm kicks in. In my view, which is also the view of many trinitarian philosophers and theologians, we should think that whether any Trinity theory is viable should depend on whether or not it best explains scripture, and not on any argument like this.

Dale talks out of both sides of his mouth. He explicitly attacks the Trinity on philosophical grounds, alleging that it violates the indiscernibility of identicals. He preemptively disallows Biblical testimony to the Trinity on philosophical grounds. 

B. Let’s reframe the issue. Instead of considering a priori arguments for Trinitarianism, suppose we consider a priori undercutters for unitarianism. These don’t propose to directly prove the Trinity. Rather, if successful, they provide indirect support for the Trinity by undermining unitarianism.

A sensible move, given the failure of philosophical Trinity arguments. We failed to get a touchtown. So, let’s re-describe the situation; actually, we were trying to merely gain five yards. But wait… did we even do that?

This is the second example of Tuggy's well-poisoning tactics. Twice in a row as he introduces the issue. 

It's not as if I'm retreating from my original position. I can't fail to hit a target I was never aiming for in the first place. I didn't fall short since that was never my goalpost. 

In addition, it's standard procedure that when philosophers have a choice between a more ambitious and a less ambitious claim to opt for the less ambitious claim. That's less demanding. That has a lower burden of proof. First-rate philosophers like Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen routinely do that. It's a perfectly legitimate move. 

interspecies intersectionalities: feminist dog training

“Roman but Not Catholic”: Authors Jerry Walls and Ken Collins

Jerry Walls and Ken Collins
Jerry Walls (l) and Ken Collins
This is part of a review series I’m going to be doing on the Jerry Walls and Ken Collins work “Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation” (Grand Rapids, Mi: Baker Academic, 2017). The work is unique in that it explores very many of the historical developments that led to the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church that we see today.

I want to first briefly talk about the authors of this work. They are not the kind of traditional authors that one might find mentioned on this blog.

For example, in an earlier comment, a good Reformed friend wrote, “Never thought I would buy a book authored by Jerry Walls”. Jerry certainly has a reputation here at Triablogue, most notably for a work and a sentiment entitled “Why I’m Not a Calvinist”.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Prophecy and hermeneutic

Background information is often useful or sometimes crucial when we interpret Scripture. Ideally, it puts us in the situation of the original audience. It helps to interpret historical narratives and ancient law codes. It helps us to understand the type of situation that NT epistles were responding to. Writers presume a body of common knowledge which the implied reader shares with the author. That fills in the gaps. Writers expect readers to grasp more than what is actually said. 

Mind you, there are pitfalls to using background information. The Bible is often countercultural, so sometimes the Bible is saying something in spite of or contrary to the social milieu. 

In addition, we can only use the evidence that's survived. But that runs the risk of stretching the surviving evidence to make it germane to something in Scripture, even if it's unrepresentative. 

But I'd like to make a different point. When it comes to Bible prophecy, especially long-range prophecy, appeal to background information poses a conundrum. There's circularity to the appeal because a scholar must have a preconception of what the oracle has reference to for him to match that against relevant background information. Conversely, he cites background information to interpret the oracle. So he uses presumptive background information to identify the prophetic referent while he uses the presumptive referent to identify suitable background material. 

Yet it only gets worse. If an oracle refers to the distant future, then the salient background information lies in the future. And the reader only knows after the fact what would constitute the salient background information. That's something we're only in a position to recognize in retrospect.

For instance, what's the relevant background information to interpret Ezk 40-48? Dan 11:40-45? Daniel's 70-week prophecy? The Olivet Discourse? The Apocalypse? The man of sin (2 Thes 2:3-10)? Depends on whether we view that as past or future. If future, we must wait for the background information. Invoking background information to interpret Bible prophecy may be prejudge the referent. We only know the historical context if we know when the event takes place or was meant to take place. 

We only know if certain background information correlates with the prophecy if we know what the prophecy means. But what if we only know what the prophecy means in light of whatever background information we use as our interpretive frame of reference? There's a mutual dependence. 

Assuming the inerrancy of Scripture, if it's fairly clear that the oracle hasn't been fulfilled in the past, then the best we can do is to imagine futuristic scenarios. 

This conundrum makes it difficult even in principle to falsify Bible prophecy. A "skeptic" might complain that this is special pleading. A face-saving out that immunizes Bible prophecy from disproof. 

By way of response:

i) Simply as a matter of hypothetical logic, the relevant background knowledge for a true prophecy must be synchronized with the timeframe of the prophetic fulfillment. If the oracle is both future and true, then it's necessarily the case that we can only identify the relevant background information with the benefit of hindsight. For that's the situation which the oracle actually pointed to. Although that may indeed be convenient for a Christian apologist, it's not an ad hoc consideration. In the nature of the case, the background information for a true prediction must peg the same timeframe. The setting, in time and place, is the same for the specific event as well as the general environment which lends interpretive clues to the outcome of the oracle. 

ii) Moreover, this isn't just hypothetical. For instance, there are credible examples of precognition in modern times.  Premonitions. Prophetic dreams. It isn't confined to Bible prophecy. And the same principle applies. A prophetic dream may be indistinguishable from an ordinary dream ahead of time. It's only if it comes true that the dreamer can look back on a chain of events leading up to its realization to perceive the context in which it occurs. That's where it fits. 

iii) In addition, consider an oracle by Ezekiel which, from the standpoint of his contemporaries, appeared to fail–yet was ultimately realized in an unexpected and humanly unforeseeable way:


Lecrae recently gave an interview that's getting some buzz:

Permit me to say at the outset that I don't listen to hip-hop/rap music, be it Christian or secular. I'm not familiar with his work.

1. I'm not quite sure why this interview has gotten so much attention. He's been saying things like this for a while now, in different venues. Perhaps the fact that John Piper wrote a sympathetic response, as well as a predictable thumbs up from Christianity Today, was the tipping-point. 

2. I don't resent what he says. He's entitled to his opinion. I don't take it personally. It doesn't put me on the defensive. What he says and does is his prerogative. 

3. His reaction is native. He's a businessman. As an entertainer, he ought to know his audience. For him to be surprised and shocked by the reaction shows how out of touch he was with a major segment of his own constituency. That's a professionally hazardous position for any performer to be in. If you alienate your fanbase, that has utterly predictable consequences. Although he should be free to say whatever he wants to, protest is a two-way street. His erstwhile fans are entitled to their opinion, too. 

4. I'd understand why he'd bristle at being characterized as a mascot for white evangelicals. 

5. He felt he had to choose between his black fanbase and his white fanbase. It was a business decision. If he didn't think he could please both factions, it's natural that he broke in the direction of his black fanbase. He's entitled to feel more at home with members of his own race. I don't fault him for that. 

6. I don't think he has a duty to be loyal to "white evangelicalism" (whatever that means). But there's the question of what he means by that. Apparently, he defines white evangelicalism in terms of a particular historical and political outlook. And he doesn't share that. Okay, that's his prerogative. 

7. I don't think of evangelicalism, or white evangelicalism in particular, as something to either be loyal to or disloyal too. Evangelicalism is a broad theological frame of reference with some political and ethical dimensions. I suppose it could be viewed a social movement with an implicit membership, but that's secondary to the underlying theological commitments. 

If I wanted to (re)classify the issue in racial categories, most of the books I own were written by white evangelicals. Bible commentaries. Systematic theologies. Ethics. Christian apologetics. Bible reference works. And so on and so forth. I generally identity with the theology. But I don't consciously relate to them in terms of a white reader engaging a white author. It's not a personal relationship. It's just about ideas.

To some degree it's filtered through the experience of an American or Englishmen or whatever. That's unavoidable. 

8. Tthese books didn't have a formative influence on my sense of who I am. They don't function as personal role-models. Rather, I bring my preexisting theological viewpoint to this reading material. I buy them and read them because I'm already sympathetic to their viewpoint.  

9. For me, there's a deja vu quality to LeCrae's complaints. I lived through the Black Power movement. I watched Tony Brown's Journal as a kid. So what he says is terribly old hat.

10. In my experience, constructive dialogue about race in America is usually futile because black and white interlocutors don't share the same the rules of evidence. Blacks like LaCrae typically base their impressions on anecdotal evidence and stories hyped by the "news" media.

White conservatives/libertarians, by contrast, typically base their impressions on comparative crime stats as well as examples of law enforcement run amok. They agree with blacks that there's a problem with our law enforcement culture, but they don't think it targets blacks. Rather, they view it in larger terms: rogue police, rogue prosecutors, a police state mentality, the "war on drugs," for-profit policing (e.g. ticket quotas, civil forfeiture), stop-and frisk, random checkpoints, the surveillance state. 

I don't deny that black Americans are sometimes abused by law enforcement. Case in point:

But are these isolated incidents, or do they reflect a pattern? That doesn't seem to be the case:

Conversely, take cases of white Americans abused by law enforcement. For instance:

If those altercations happened to black Americans, RAAN, Reformed Margins, Black Lives Matters et al. would point to that as incontrovertible evidence of structural racism. But when it happens to white Americans, that doesn't figure in their narrative. 

11. I'm interested in hearing from authentic minority voices, but that's hard to come by. And that's a problem I have with RAAN and Reformed Margins. They pose as the minority voice, but it's not a distinctively minority voice. Rather, it simply echoes the white establishment. Like a muppet show where the muppets have minority faces, but the voice and script are supplied by white academia. Minority muppets ventriloquizing white muppeteers. 

For a genuine minority perspective that presents a distinctive outsider perspective, I look to social commentators like the Pakistani born and bred Anglican Michael Nazir-Ali, Singaporean Christians like Daniel Chew and Dominic Foo, or Chinese-American missiologist Allen Yeh. 

12. How many black policemen and black judges has Lecrae spoken to? Has he made a good faith effort to get their side of the story? 

13. To what extent should your race be your frame of reference? There are more fundamental elements of self-identity than race. Take your sex (male or female). Or your family. Or your religion. Or your nationality. Or your social class. When and where you spend your formative years has tremendous impact on the person you become. 

For me, race is a window rather than a mirror. If we turn race into a mirror, the exercise becomes circular. We become very self-conscious. It degenerates in playacting. Ironically, that invites an identity crisis. We lose ourselves when we try too hard to find ourselves. When we try to fit into a preconceived role. Constantly second-guessing ourselves. Memorizing a script that someone else wrote for us. Playing the role they assigned to us. 

Why not feel free to absorb whatever is good and true in different cultures, be it art, music, philosophy, theology? You begin wherever you are. Your racial status quo is a starting-point. But you can branch out from there. 

It's misguided for Lecrae to turn this into group-loyalty oath, as if this must be a mutually exclusive choice between joining this club rather than that club. But that's not freedom. That's not authentic. That's laboring to live up to the expectations of others. But what made them the standard of comparison? Why should you be constantly glancing over your shoulder for their nodding approval? 

That's one reason we need to make the Bible our benchmark. Otherwise, we have no center. We shift back and forth in reaction to ever-shifting peer pressure. 

14. Lecrae indicated that he's trying to compose authentic black music. Screen out alien cultural contaminants. But that's silly and futile. Art and music have always been eclectic. Have always been open to outside sources of inspiration. That infuses fresh blood into art and music. Contributes to a dynamic creative synthesis. That's the difference between expressive art and music, on the one hand, and imitative art or music, on the other hand.

15. Isn't the outlook of this black man much freer and healthier than Lecrae's studied, effortful pose:

Friday, October 20, 2017

On dogs, strangers, and atheism

Atheists often say that while human life has no ultimate meaning, our lives can be meaningful based on what we personally value. In a sense that's true–because the criterion is circular: it's valuable because I value it.

Dennis Prager often cites surveys in which some pet owners say they'd save their dog rather than a stranger. That illustrates the distinction between subjective and objective value. In that respect, it makes sense for an atheist to say his life is still meaningful. But by the same token, that evinces the nihilism of atheism. The choice between saving your dog or saving a child from a burning building. From a secular standpoint, there's no reason an atheist should prioritize the child over his pet dog. But so much the worse for atheism. 

Five embryos or one five-year-old?

There's a pro-abortion thought-experiment making the rounds. If a prolifer had to choose between rescuing a 5-year-old child from burning building or five embryos, which would he opt for? The purpose of this dilemma is to expose the "hypocrisy" of the prolifer. If he'd save the child, then he doesn't really believe what he says about life beginning at conception. 

I think these two philosophers say most of what needs to be said in response to that thought-experiment:

But I'd like to make a few additional points:

i) All things being equal, it's better to save more lives than fewer lives. However, that's not an absolute consideration. Christian ethics is incompatible with raw consequentialism. Take the classic hypothetical case: should you euthanize a healthy person to harvest his organs in order to save the lives of five patients? It wouldn't be hypocritical for a Christian to let the five patients die rather than euthanize a healthy patient to supply them with life-saving organ transplants. While comparative numbers can be a relevant consideration, the issue has greater moral complexity. Comparative numbers are not necessarily a sufficient consideration. 

ii) Dennis Prager often refers to surveys in which some pet owners say that given a choice, they'd save their pet dog rather than save a stranger. That, however, is hardly a good argument for valuing the lives of animals above human life. By the same token, even if (ex hypothesi), prolifers were hypocritical on this issue, that does nothing to disprove the prolife position. 

iii) Humans are wired to aid a child in distress. From a Christian standpoint, God endowed us with that instinct. If it came down to a child who's right in front of you or five frozen embryos, it's only natural for you to opt for the child. The status of the embryonic humans, while genuine, is more abstract, more intellectual.

It's analogous to bombing the enemy at 30,000 feet rather than hand-to-hand combat. Or how we take the death of someone we know more personally than the death of someone we read about in the newspaper. That's not a question of who's more human. It's just that we're designed to respond to something more immediate.

iv) By the same token, it's duplicitous to put people in real or hypothetical situations where they have to make a snap decision, then blame them for making a snap decision. They didn't have the leisure time to engage in philosophical analysis. Moreover, they were not in a situation where they could exercise serene critical detachment. 

Embryos and Five-Year-Olds: Whom to Rescue

“This is My body”: the Lord’s supper — Mark 14:22-26

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Martyn Lloyd-Jones interview

Interesting interview:

One thing that stood out is was the interviewer's statement about the "amazing number of young people" who attended Westminster Chapel. Given the date of the interview, I assume that includes the height of the counterculture. Hippies. You might suppose young people would find MLJ too stuffy and formal. And it's not as if his church had drums and electric guitars.  But apparently, young Christians were drawn to MLJ's earnest, methodical expository preaching. Substance.  

Abortion and adoption

One popular argument for abortion goes like this: prolifers are hypocrites unless they adopt kids. 

i) I haven't seen them turn that allegation into an actual argument, but maybe I missed it. Is the argument that if more prolifers adopted kids, that would save lives?

If so, is there any demonstrable evidence that abortion rates are correlated to adoption rates? Mothers who contemplate abortion already have the option of putting their child up for adoption. Is there any demonstrable evidence that mothers contemplating abortion think, "If I knew there was a Christian couple waiting to adopt my child, I wouldn't abort it"? 

ii) I don't know the stats, but it wouldn't surprise me if Christians adopt at far higher rates than atheists.

iii) It isn't necessarily hypocritical to value life, yet not do everything you can to save lives. For instance, driving cars inevitably results in thousands of fatalities every year. Does that mean it's hypocritical to say you value life if you drive a car? 

iv) Sometimes people have prior obligations. Take a grown child who's the caregiver for an elderly parent. They're not in a position to adopt a child. They already have a full plate. 

iv) What, exactly, is the general principle which the allegation of hypocrisy exemplifies? Does it go like this: "It's hypocritical to oppose something unless you're prepared to take up the slack if you're in a position to do so"?

If so, is that a valid inference? Is that a reliable principle in general?

Is it hypocritical of me to disapprove of people who litter unless I take it upon myself to dispose of their litter?

Is it hypocritical of me to disapprove of shoplifters unless I personally reimburse the store for stolen goods? 

Is it hypocritical of me to disapprove of people who release dangerous reptiles into the Everglades unless I adopt the dangerous reptiles?

v) It's not hypocritical to have public policies that incentive parents to raise their own kids. As a rule, kids are better off with their biological parents. 

vi) In addition, it's not hypocritical to have social policies that incentive people to be responsible, productive members of society rather than freeloaders who expect others to foot the bill for their lifestyle choices. 

vii) Nowadays, you have secular progressives who lobby to prohibit Christian adoption because Christians repudiate the LGBT agenda. They are closing down Christian adoption agencies. 

Are they going to simultaneously say prolifers are hypocritical for not adopting more kids when they turn right around and prohibit prolifers from adopting kids? 

The Fall of the Roman Catholic Church

Important note: This has already happened.

For all of you naysayers out there who are prone to say “the gates of hell shall not prevail”, keep in mind here that I’m not making a prediction. I’m reporting on what has already happened. This is going to be largely a personal note, and more anecdotal than I’d like it to be. But I want to explain some of the excitement that I have right now, and some of the hope that I have for the future.

John Bugay, Cradle Catholic
John Bugay, Cradle Catholic
I’ve been dealing with Roman Catholicism for a long time. I was born into a Catholic family. I grew up Roman Catholic. It meant something to be “a good Catholic”.

On my mother’s side of the family, my great grandparents were immigrants from Slovakia. My great grandfather died when I was very young – I remember being at his deathbed at some point. My great grandmother then went to live with my Uncle Eddie, who was the sixth child in that family of six (and the youngest brother to my grandmother). They had a nice, 1950’s style brick home in one of the newer suburban areas around Pittsburgh.

My uncle just had a young family at the time. He may or may not have had one small child at the time, my cousin Michael who, oddly, was my mother’s cousin. Because of their relative age, we visited them a lot.

It was the kind of big Catholic family that was prominent back then. My great grandmother didn’t know much English, even in the early 1960’s, but the phrase I heard all the time was, “you good boy Johnny”. She said that to me all the time, and rarely did she say anything else. And I’d smile and say “thank you”. We were in church very frequently, as part of a large, extended family – weddings, baptisms, funerals. And there was much family time and fellowship. It worked that way on my mother’s side of the family, where my mother was from one of the older siblings, and also on my father’s side of the family, where he was one of the younger siblings. I had some same-aged cousins, but most of my cousins were a lot older, with families of their own.

That was the form of pre-Vatican II form of “Roman Catholicism” that I knew in the early and middle 1960’s. You didn’t get “catechized” back then. You lived it. You lived your life, and life revolved around “the Church”.

Political polarization

Some social commentators lament the degree of political polarization. But I don't seem much solution.

i) People can agree to disagree when they are free to disagree without that affecting what they do. Two people or two groups can agree to disagree so long as each side is free to act consistent with its beliefs.

But that breaks down in politics, when the disagreement concerns issues of law and public policy. In political disagreements, there are winners and losers. The winners impose their viewpoint on the losers. You are forced to do what the winners mandate. You are forced to stop doing what the winners ban. 

In addition, as gov't increasingly encroaches on every aspect of human life, the losers have too much to lose. The states are too high. 

ii) Democrats/secular progressives/SJWs don't think Republicans/Christians/conservatives are simply mistaken. Rather, they think they're downright dangerous. And that's logical given the (false) premise. If you think anthropogenic global warming poses a threat to the biosphere, then it's dangerous to oppose green policies. If you think private access to guns endangers public safety, then the gun lobby is dangerous. If you think there's a campus rape epidemic, then opposition to affirmative consent policies puts women at risk. If you think LGTB people have higher suicide rates due to social stigmatization, then that attitude puts them at risk. 

They think Christianity is dangerous because Christianity is the motivation for these dangerous attitudes. Their premise is false, and they are glaringly inconsistent (what about Islam?), but their animus towards Republicans/Christians/conservatives is understandable given their biased, blinkered outlook. 

iii) In addition, they think Republicans/Christians/conservatives are evil. They equate voter ID initiatives with voter suppression. That's "racist!". They think the only motivation to restrict or outlaw abortion is to "control women's bodies". 

They equate supporting free speech with supporting whatever the speaker says. If you defend the Constitutional rights of Nazis, you're defending Nazis! They don't differentiate "should people do x?" from "should people be free to do x?"

Given their insular, simplistic outlook, it makes sense that they view the political opposition as evil.   

Likewise, they can't imagine how a person of good will would oppose humanitarian-sounding policies like universal healthcare, universal basic income, "marriage equality". And they make no effort to acquaint themselves with the opposing side of the argument. 

iv) Because humans are social creatures, a lot of what they believe isn't based on reason and evidence, but fitting in. You think, say, and do whatever is necessary for social acceptance within your community. That's why rational persuasion is often futile, since that's not what motivates them in the first place. 

v) Constructive dialogue requires good will on the part of the dialogue partners. If, however, people are only looking out for Number One, then constructive dialogue isn't possible. They aren't truth-seekers. They disdain dutiful self-sacrifice. They wish to destroy anyone who gets in their way, anyone who inconveniences them. Yet the social fabric depends on altruism. And that's a logical position for an atheist. If this life is all there is, why should you ever subordinate your self-interest to the common good? 

vi) Nowadays, so many unbelievers have such bigoted views of Christianity, you have to peel away so many layers of ignorance and prejudice, that it's extremely time-consuming. And they're not listening anyway. Every time you talk to a new person, you have to start from scratch, because they always raise the same hackneyed objections. They don't bother to study the other side of the argument. They don't know the answers. They don't know there are any answers. 

That doesn't mean we shouldn't make the effort, but many people are a waste of time. There are not enough hours in the day to individualize, so you have to make snap decisions about where to invest your time. You can spend weeks and months pouring reason and evidence down a rat hole. So you have to make some time-management decisions. Pick a few dialogue partners. Or use a mass medium (one to many). Scatter seed. Pray that some will take root. We should do as much as we can, but we need to avoid utopian expectations. 

vii) In addition, atheism is evil. As secular progressives become more consistent, that exposes their malevolence and ill-will. Left to run its course, atheism becomes increasingly Nietzschean, increasingly sociopathic in its hatred of the defenseless and dependent (e.g. babies, children, developmentally disabled, elderly). In full rebellion agains the natural order (e.g. transgenderism). In some cases, there's no common ground left. Just their unreasoning malice. They hate the very idea of God. 

Hank Hanegraaff, Inc.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Adoption and penal substitution

Here's a neglected argument for penal substitution. The NT says Christians are heirs. And inheritance has a vicarious dimension. An heir is the beneficiary of someone else's action. An heir needn't do anything to be the beneficiary. He can simply be an heir in virtue of his relation to someone else who did something. An heir typically has an ascribed status rather than an achieved status. A status conferred on him in relation to someone else.

According to the NT, Christians are heirs in virtue of their union with Jesus. And by reason of that relation, they are heirs of salvation rather than damnation. They escape eschatological judgment they are God's adopted sons, and they enjoy that status in virtue of what God's ontological Son did on their behalf. So that has a penal dimension as well as a vicarious dimension. 

Hiding behind skepticism

A simple argument for penal substitution

There are fine-grained exegetical arguments for penal substitution by scholars like Thomas Schreiner and Simon Gathercole. But I'd like to sketch a simpler argument:

i) In the Gospels, one individual (Jesus) does something for the benefit of second parties. That's a one-to-many relationship. He takes an action for the good of many. Not something they do by themselves and for themselves, but something one individual does on behalf of others. That, in itself, is vicarious. A benefit accrues to them as if they themselves did it, when in fact someone else did it. And that's not an incidental consequence, but by design.

ii) And it has a more specific dimension. He suffers punishment. As a result, those who trust in him won't suffer eschatological judgment.   

The principle doesn't turn on a particular verbal formulation in the NT, or picturesque metaphors. It's operates at a more generic level. 

Is 76 Years Too Long to Live?

Windows into the Trinity

Indexical perspectives are a striking feature of human experience. For instance, the starting-point of science is the first-person perspective of an observer. But science attempts to translate that indexical perspective into an objective third-person description. 

If the Trinity is true, then the one God has three first-person viewpoints. Father and Son are objective to the Spirit, Son and Spirit are objective to the Father, Father and Spirit are objective to the Son. 

Unitarians say that's contradictory. Christians say that's a revealed mystery or paradox. Unitarians say that's euphemistic language to camouflage special pleading. 

An analogous indexical perspective is the insider/outsider dichotomy.  For instance, an observer can stand inside a house, viewing the outside through a window. Or the same observer can stand outside a house, viewing the inside through a window. Or an observer can stand outside, viewing another outside object. Or an observer can stand inside, viewing another inside object. But we typically think of viewing something from the inside out as contrary to viewing something from the outside in. You can experience both at different times, but you can't experience both at the same time, because these represent opposing physical positions. You can't be in two different places at once, so you can't simultaneously experience an insider as well as outsider viewpoint. Or can you?

On one occasion I was sitting in church. The sanctuary had the traditional cruciform design. I was sitting in the back of the transept, next to a corner window. From my seat, I could look outside. 

In addition, there was a corner window in the nave, at right angles to the window beside me. Sitting in the transept, I could see the nave through that window. From the inside I was looking outside back into the inside. So I simultaneously enjoyed an insider and outsider viewpoint. 

If I made that bare claim without providing the context, it might seem paradoxical or contradictory. But with a bit of additional information, it relieves the apparent contradiction. My point is that something which seems to be hopelessly contradictory may in fact be consistent, even simply so, if we see it in relation to a larger context. Just because a proposition appears to be incoherent doesn't mean there's even a presumption of actual incoherence. 

Amazon review of Roman but Not Catholic

I've posted my review of "Roman but Not Catholic" at Amazon:

Pop on over and check it out, and give me a "helpful " rating if you thought it was helpful.