Monday, February 23, 2009

Does the incarnation analogy fit?

One of the issues we have been touching on is whether or not the incarnation is a fitting analogy for Scripture. I am of the opinion that it is not a helpful model.

In his chapter on the doctrine of Scripture in the helpful book Reforming or Conforming, theologian Paul Wells writes:
The analogy is not really an analogy at all in the formal sense of the word, since the mystery of the personal union of the two natures in Christ does not serve to shed light on the nature of the union in the divine-human word of Scripture. Christ and Scripture are not equivalent realities as there is but one hypostatic union. Following along this line, it can be said that "an incarnational model may not be the best because, whereas with Christ's incarnation there is one person with two natures, with Scripture there are two persons (God and the human prophet) and one nature (the one Scriptural speech act). Thus to try to make the analogy may be like comparing apples to oranges" (Henri Blocher from a review of Inspiration and Incarnation in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society).
Apples and oranges indeed. For the errantist the incarnational model serves as a way to explain the Bible's supposed errors. But what does this say about their understanding of incarnation? We already know that their doctrine of inspiration does not allow for God to ensure that His words were acurately written through human authors. Could it be that their inderstanding of incarnation allows for something less than a perfect Christ? I am only speculating. It just seems strange that a miracle as awesome as the incarnation of God in human flesh would be used as analogy to promote the idea that the Bible errs.

36 comments:

Kent Sparks said...

Hi Todd,

I don't wish to create confusion for folks who read your blog and who have no interest in learning about the problems that are foregrounded in the books by Enns and Sparks, but since the books are mentioned explicitly on your blog I suppose that some measure of respectful engagement is appropriate.

Though the incarnational model does not fit precisely in a doctrine of Scripture (notice that my book uses a different analogy), that does not mean the incarnation and its implications are irrelevant for a doctrine of Scripture. In both instances Christians claim that humanity and divinity are knitted together in some form or fashion.

Given that, I'd ask us to consider the incarnation by asking simple questions raised by Scripture itself.

Jesus is both divine and human, and those two natures do not “mix” (per Chalcedon). Do we agree? With that in mind, what does Scripture mean when it says that Jesus didn’t know when the end would come (Matt 24:36), and that he “grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52)?”

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

I don't mind at all your commenting here.

We do agree that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human.

But he is not human in the same way that I am human in that He is without sin.

As you know theologians and scholars have debated the meaning of kenosis (Phil 2) for generations. It seems to me that what the Gospel writers are referencing in the Matthew and Luke text is related to Christ's kenosis which I take to mean the ways in which he was limited in his incarnation.

What we don't know precisely is the extent of those limitations. We know they cannot mean moral limitations in that he was without sin. We also know that he periodically showed flashes of omnipotence and omniscience. There were times when he healed the sick, raised the dead, commanded nature, spoke authoritatively about the future, and revealed the private thoughts of individuals.

Based upon the texts you reference however it seems clear that Jesus limited himself in certain respects. But because the Bible does not fully tease that out I am shy to go far beyond what I have already written.

I think there is a very limited way that we can speak of Scripture as incarnational in that it reflects both divine and human dimensions. But I am thoroughly unimpressed with errantists attempts to compare the incarnation of Christ with Scripture as a way to explain supposed errors in the God's Word.

Kent Sparks said...

I think that we quite agree: Jesus had a real, flesh and blood human nature that in some way participated in our limited horizon (per Athanasius, Calvin, and just about everyone else). Though I woundn't say that Jesus showed flashes of "omnipotence" and "omniscience" in his human nature because, for instance, a human brain can't keep track of all of the electrons in the world. That is, omniscience is not a communicable attribute. What I would say (and I think that really, you'll agree) is that Jesus showed instances in which his human nature received benefits communicated from his divine nature (e.g., he knew things as a human becaue of his divinity). Of course, as you point out, the whole thing is very mysterious.

Now we get to the interesting point. If Jesus if fully human (excepting sin, as both you and Scripture point out), then in his human nature he does not know things by immediacy (as in his divine nature) but rather by interpretation. He had to learn Aramaic just like everyone, both to understand it and to speak it (even if he was really, extra special smart as a human being).

Do we agree on this?

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

I'm not willing to commit to your inferences in the final paragraph of your last post.

Jesus was fully human but he was not merely fully human. He was also fully divine. So, I do not want to make a declaritive statement like, "If Jesus is fully human (excepting sin, as both you and Scripture point out), then in his human nature he does not know things by immediacy (as in his divine nature) but rather by interpretation."

It is certainly true of me that I do not know things by immediacy but I would shy away from making a dogmatic assertion about that concerning Jesus.

We know that he grew and learned. But we also know that when he was 12 he was lecturing the experts in the temple.

Part of my growing and learning is overcoming sinful impulses and habits. Jesus certainly did not need to grow in this way. It makes me wonder if perhaps there may be other ways that Jesus' growth differed from mine and all the other non-divine humans.

Kent Sparks said...

Hi Todd:

"I'm not willing to commit to your inferences in the final paragraph of your last post ... Jesus was fully human but he was not merely fully human. He was also fully divine. ... "

Certainly Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. But again, these two natures are not blended or mixed but joined in a mysterious hypostasis. As I understand the biblical texts in our previous posts and standard theological orthodoxy, omniscience and the concomitant consequence of immediacy (as opposed to understanding by interpretation) simply aren't communicable attributes because a human brain cannot hold infinite knowledge. Jesus is omniscient in his divine nature but actually learns in his human nature.

Consequently, I would suggest that Jesus is fully human and that, if he is, he is an interpreter who learns how to understand and interpret like anyone else. To deny this strikes me as a kind of doceticism that makes Jesus human only in word but not in actuality. Your understanding of Jesus seems to imagine a Jesus who doesn't actually learn anything as a human being through interpretation but one who simply **seems** to learn by drawing upon his omniscience. If I am mischaracterizing your position, please let me know. But your description of Jesus does not sound like a Jesus who is "like us in all respects, sin excepted."

To be clear: In my view, if Jesus was human, he understood the world around him like all human beings ... by interpretation. So, for instance, let us assume that Jesus is at a dinner party with James and John, and let us further assume that James and John looked awfully similar. I am quite comfortable with a Jesus who looked across the room and thought he saw John and then, upon approaching him, discovered it was actually James.

Our discussion perhaps ends here, because we differ fundamentally on what it is to be human and what must be true of Jesus if he really is human. If one takes my path, it will eventually lead to a view of Scripture that is reflected in my book and in Pete Enns' book.

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

Clearly I reject Docetism. Jesus was a man not simply God disguised as a man. However in affirming Jesus' humanity we must also deal with the fact that He was still unique. He worked miracles and forgave sin by his own authority. He also possessed unique knowlege and insight concerning the Old Testament Scriptures (He understood that the Hebrew Scriptures spoke of Him). When he spoke he did so with all the authority of the Father.

As to your hypothetical situation about Jesus mistaking one disciple for another I can only say that the Bible never hints at such an error. My assumption would be that since he knew the very thoughts of his disciples he was also quite well equiped at telling them apart.

No, Jesus did not merely appear human. I am no docetist but neither am I an arian. When we are dealing with the dual nature of Christ we are treading out into some pretty deep waters. I want to be very careful about speaking too definitively concerning Jesus' limitations.

Kent Sparks said...

Hi Todd,

“I want to be very careful about speaking too definitively concerning Jesus' limitations.”

Of course. But I don’t think I’m asking us to be more definitive on teh issue than Scripture is. Scripture affirms the limitations of Jesus as a human being and that he is like us in all respects, sin excepted.

No, I'm quite sure that you are not a Docetist ... you affirm that Jesus was both divine and human. That is why at the essential points, we share the faith of Christian orthodoxy. Nevertheless, in my opinion your Jesus isn’t all that human if he doesn't learn and interpret ... "grow in wisdom" ... like any normal human. Your Jesus is a carpenter who can never miss the nail with his hammer, or confuse one person with another, or think that he left his bag in the bedroom when, in fact, he left it in the kitchen ... He is not like us in all ways, sin excepted. I do judge that your understanding of Jesus heads in a docetic direction ... like the Docetists, you are uncomfortable with a Jesus that is so human that he must use his human mind to figure out things (i.e., interpretation … by trial and error).

I hope that you can see there's nothing in Scripture at all that can gainsay my belief that Jesus is human in the ways that I have described. To err is fully human and is in no way sin unless it is a moral error. Jesus did not sin … but as a carpenter’s son, he did have a sore thumb …

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, were you to admit this with me, it would change your theology in drastic ways … but in my opinion, in fruitful ways as well.

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

I have no problem with the idea of Jesus missing a nail.

I also know however that when I was twelve I was in no way ready to teach the teachers of Israel. Even at that age Jesus knew he was on mission from his heavenly Father.

Jesus was like me in all ways excepting sin. Well, that one exception is a radical exception. How much about us is limited because of the taint of sin? Is it only in the readily discernable moral realm or does sin limit us in a more broad way? I think yes.

I cannot read the witness of the Gospels and conclude that there was not something unique about the humanity of Jesus. It is not that Jesus' humanity was not real humanity. But it was certainly humanity on a level that I have not experienced. I again appeal to the examples that I have already cited in this thread. I am making the assumption that we are agreed on affirming what the Gospels tell us about Jesus. I don't raise the dead, heal all diseases, and forgive sins by my own authority.

Also, Paul's hymn to Christ in Colossians is quite extraordinary. "In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell."

Harley A. said...

It is a valid analogy to the point that it illustrates that to be human is not inextricably bound with sinfulness (error). All of humanity is, indeed, bound by sin – but sinfulness is not a necessary condition of humanity.

It is a bad (or maybe off-the-point is a better term) analogy in that the traditional understanding is that the Holy Spirit was responsible for the inspiration of Scripture and not the incarnate Son.

Todd Pruitt said...

I also appeal again to Blocher's (one of the finest evangelical scholars in the world) problem with the analogy. Christ is one person with two natures. The Scripture's origins are two persons but yielding one "nature."

It seems to me the incarnational analogy needs so many qualifications that it is not really helpful.

Kent Sparks said...

... but my point, of course, is that if we observe that Jesus himself--as a full-fledged human--can make interpretive mistakes just like anyone else (because error and sin are two different things), then this observation would apply equally and even moreso to biblical authors who were not divine (like Paul).

So, there is a meaningful relationship between our Christology and our doctrine of Scripture in that the two matters are inextricably linked to Christian anthropology: what does it mean to be human and, hence, what does it mean to say that Jesus was human.

Harley A. said...

I would grant that, given your Christology, your argument is valid. I would disagree with your Christology, though, regarding His humanity.

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

It seems we have a different Christology. I don't believe that Jesus erred. He didn't err because he was perfect. He was human but his humanity was untouched by sin and all that sin brings about.

In your view, since Jesus could err, did he err in anything he told us? In other words, was his knowlege concerning salvation, his own identity, the Father, the Spirit, heaven/hell, etc flawed or incomplete? Your view seems to indicate a "yes" to that answer so please correct me if I am wrong.

threegirldad said...

in [Christ's] human nature he does not know things by immediacy (as in his divine nature) but rather by interpretation.

I don't see how that squares with passages like Matt 9:4, Matt 12:25, Luke 6:8, and Luke 11:17.

Kent Sparks said...

Good question, Todd:

Of course, if I'm quite willing to admit the God the father accommodates human errors in Scripture (which is a theme in my book), then I'm certainly not troubled to say that God the son does this as well.

Two points, however:

(1) Because the incarnate son is the highest and best of revelation, we cannot see the accommodations because there is nothing higher, clearer, or better to which we can compare his words. So, for instance, what Jesus told us about the Father was subject to the limitations of human minds and speech, such that it entailed some manner of deviation from a "true picture" of God. As Chrysostom said, in revelation, we see God, not as he really is, but in a way that humans can behold him." Example: though the teaching of Jesus on divorce was undoubtedly accommodated to our human horizon, we cannot see the manner or degree of accommodation because we have no higher source of moral vision than Jesus.

(2) Nevertheless, accommodations to human finiteness can sometimes be visible in the teachings of Jesus. This is possible when the questions in play are not things that must be specially revealed but rather things that are available through natural or general revelation. Example 1 (from the OT): we can see the accommodation in Genesis to "waters above the heavens" because we can compare that to what we have learned from science. Example 2 (from Jesus): we can see the accommodation when Jesus attributes the Pentateuch to Moses because we can see that much of it was written long after Moses lived.

Theology involves making judgments about where Christ and Scripture speak with finality and where they speak provisionally by accommodating themselves to human viewpoints that eventually turn out to be mistaken.

Dear Threegirldad: I like that name ... I'm a two girler. To be clear, what I'm getting at is this: when Scripture tells us that Jesus "grows in wisdom," "doesn't know the time of the end," and is like us in all respects excepting sin, then this means (to me, at least) that his knowledge of the world was coming via interpretaiton and not immediacy. Immediacy is a consequence of omniscience ... it does not figure out by looking and thinking because it has immediate knowledge. Jesus had this in his divine nature, but his human nature was not omnisicient.

Kent Sparks said...

Harley A: I understand completely. I'm not really bent on converting people to my views. But there are many of us out there who could never remain Christians if it entailed believing in a six day creation, or a literal flood, or a bible free from human errors.

So, even if I am totally wrong about all of this, it remains the case that this is my way of making some sense of faith. Apart from it, I simply wouldn't be a Christian.

toothdoc said...

Dr. Sparks,
You are obviously a very learned man, certainly smarter than me in regards to rhetoric, logic and philosophy. However, your last post seemed quite illogical. You said:
"So, even if I am totally wrong about all of this, it remains the case that this is my way of making some sense of faith. Apart from it, I simply wouldn't be a Christian."

My understanding of what you are saying there is that you are willing to be wrong in regards to God and Scripture (even at the cost of your eternal soul) simply because your, admittedly, limited human mind cannot reconcile God's word? Surely this is not what you mean, I expect it is your way of politely saying that you think all of us are morons.

Finally, to all the wise theologians who post on this blog I have a question: At what point do we stop seeing the forest for the trees? I don't mean to imply that these issues are not important, they are literally of the upmost importance. What I mean is that we begin to parse writings that parsed writings that summarized impressions of someones view of their translation of scripture - forgetting (or ignoring) that "all scripture is God breathed."

Todd Pruitt said...

Ric,

Having met Kent, I can assure you that he is not saying that anyone is a moron. He is really kind.

I do understand your frustration of what must seem like endless reductionism.

As an inerrantist I share your incredulity over what feel like attacks upon the Scriptures. Errantists believe they are helping by warning us against going out on an intellectually untenable limb. Of course I disagree. Having been educated exclusively by errantists I can say that the mountain of evangelical scholarship that supports inerrancy has convinced me.

Ryan H. said...

I am cautious about trying to precisely "nail down" the details of Incarnation, and I am even more cautious about apply such speculation (which in truth, is all it is) to theological formulation.

As orthodox Christian belief states, we must hold that Christ is fully human and fully divine, and how that ultimately plays out must be understood as mystery. Trying to parse that out too much is inherently problematic, and I suggest that it may be even dangerous. In some places, Christian theology must learn to leave mystery as mystery.

To suggest that for Christ to be human indicates that he erred (we must also define error in this discussion; I would suggest that it is one thing to miss a nail, but there is a world of difference between missing a nail and to speak what is essentially falsehood, whether intentionally or unintentionally), is effectively a denial of Christ's perfect divinity, and once accepted, collapses the entire Christian faith like a deck of cards.

But I am curious, Kent. You suggested that "though the teaching of Jesus on divorce was undoubtedly accommodated to our human horizon, we cannot see the manner or degree of accommodation because we have no higher source of moral vision than Jesus." Would you mind elaborating on that?

threegirldad said...

But there are many of us out there who could never remain Christians if it entailed believing in a six day creation, or a literal flood, or a bible free from human errors.

So, if I'm understanding correctly, you find those views to be a stumbling block, so to speak.

You don't mention the Resurrection, so I'm left wondering which category you place it in.

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

Thanks for being willing to wade into the waters here.

Obviously I disagree with you about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. It seems that portions of the Pentateuch came along after Moses but I am persuaded to accept its essentially Mosaic authorship.

Within the Pentatech itself there is no place that says, "Moses wrote this." However the New Testament and the Lord Jesus himself attributes the Pentateuch to Moses. I am also persuaded that there is internal evidence within the Penteteuch that indicates Mosaic authorship.

In both university and seminary all of my profs (to my knowledge) were out of the Wellhausen school of thought. So I was taught that the only viable option for the Pentateuch was the Documentary Hypothesis. I remain, however, unimpressed.

As you know it was not out of place at all in ancient cultures to attribute authorship to someone who did not necessarily contribute all the material personally. So by attributing the Penteteuch to Moses was not an error even if certain portions were added after Moses.

To say that Moses was not responsible for the Pentateuch would make Jesus and the New Testament mistaken. Obviously I do not accept this.

Jesus' indication that he did not know the exact time of the parousia is certainly an inter-Trinitarian mystery. But to simply say that Jesus couldn't know it because he was a man is not consistent with the New Testament evidence of Jesus' supernatural knowledge.

It seems to me that the text reads with a bit of incredulity. Jesus seems to be explaining his lack of knowlege concerning the parousia as if it is an out of the ordinary circumstance. It does not read as if Jesus expected everyone to know this knowledge was veiled from Him because, after all, he was just a man. It reads as if it is something exceptional.

Again the New Testament clearly reveals Jesus as posssessing knowledge and abilities that are supernatural. Do we agree that the miracles and supernatural knowledge of Jesus are factual accounts?

Kent Sparks said...

So much to talk about … isn’t God interesting?

I apologize for this long post, but there is much that requires some response.

(1) toothdoc said...

“your last post seemed quite illogical … My understanding of what you are saying there is that you are willing to be wrong in regards to God and Scripture …”

RESP: It’s not a matter of “willing” to be wrong. What I am saying is that what I call FI (fundamentalistic inerrancy, in which the human authors of Scripture never err) strikes me as impossible because of the overwhelming evidence against it. But let us suppose that, nevertheless, I really am wrong and that those who believe in FI are right. My main point for FIers is this: It is far better for me (and those like me) to embrace Christ through my faulty, bumbling efforts to make sense of my faith than to simply give up my faith. Just today I received yet another of many emails in which evangelicals who no longer buy FI are helped and strengthened in their faith. What I’m saying is this: while my theological work sometimes looks dangerous to people who desperately need FI to be true (notice the all-or-nothing urgency in Ryan H’s post), it is absolutely essential for those who can’t by FI.

“I expect it is your way of politely saying that you think all of us are morons.”

RESP: Jesus warned us against thinking of people in this way. I certainly don’t think that you are morons, but I certainly do think that FI is totally impossible. Similarly, I suspect that you don’t think that I am a moron, and you also think that my views are totally impossible.

I suspect (and only suspect) that your impression of my arrogance comes from the assumption that I reject FI because, ultimately, I don’t respect God and defiantly stand against his word. Personally, I’ve decided not to connect theological ideas and beliefs with judgments about character … the Pharisees, Levites, and Priests had the right theology … but the Samaritan heretic had love for God and his neighbor.

(2) Ryan H. said...

“it is one thing to miss a nail, but there is a world of difference between missing a nail and to speak what is essentially falsehood …”

RESP: Actually, my point is precisely that there is not a difference. Once we admit that Jesus is exercising his human nature by interpretation and not by depending upon divine immediacy, then this will have the same implications for hammering nails as for all acts of interpretation … error is possible and inevitable.

“You suggested that "though the teaching of Jesus on divorce was undoubtedly accommodated than Jesus." Would you mind elaborating on that?

RESP: Accommodation is visible when we can see beyond it from other sources of information. There is no source of insight on divorce, natural or special, that can go beyond Jesus himself.

(3) threegirldad said...

“You don't mention the Resurrection, so I'm left wondering which category you place it in.”

RESP: There’s plenty of evidence (in my opinion) against a six day creation and a literal, world-wide flood … but so far as I know, there’s no evidence against the resurrection.

(4) Todd Pruitt said...

“Thanks for being willing to wade into the waters here.”

RESP: Thanks to you as well.

“Obviously I disagree with you about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch …”.

RESP: Understandable … the illustration was from my point of view.

“I was taught that the only viable option for the Pentateuch was the Documentary Hypothesis. I remain, however, unimpressed.”

RESP: Interesting, once I understood the hypothesis and the evidence, I was utterly shocked at how much sense it made. It was like a light came on …

“To say that Moses was not responsible for the Pentateuch would make Jesus and the New Testament mistaken.”

RESP: Or, to make them accommodations to first century Judaism.

“Again the New Testament clearly reveals Jesus as possessing knowledge and abilities that are supernatural. Do we agree that the miracles and supernatural knowledge of Jesus are factual accounts?”

RESP: I do believe that Jesus did miracles and that many or most of the miracle accounts in Scripture are historical. However, it is likely that Jesus’ actual miracles spawned some apocryphal stories that ended up on the gospels.

FINAL POINT: I decided to engage this post for two reasons. First, I wanted to point out that, although the incarnation and inscripturation are not precisely the same thing, our doctrine of the incarnation will have implications for inscripturation. If I believe that even Jesus errs in his humanity, then it will certainly mean that biblical authors can err. Secondly, I wanted to express my opinion that the work being done in my book, and in Pete Enns’ book, is intended to be constructive and not destructive. And for many people that I know, the books have turned out to serve precisely that purpose.

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

Thanks again for taking the time to engage in conversation. I appreciate your honesty and tone.

Now, if I could just change your mind...

I believe the Bible's inerrancy because I see more evidence for it than for, say, the documentary hypothesis. After seminary I was shocked to find the mountain of evangelical scholarship that answered Wellhausen et.al.

I also saw that the inerrancy position does not insist on a young earth as some seem to assume.

For those interested in reading an outstanding treatment on Genesis, check out Bruce Waltke's fine commentary on Genesis. Also, Henri Blocher's book "In The Beginning" is excellent.

I am almost done reading Greg Beale's fine book "The Erosion of Inerrancy." For anyone interested in the current debate, it is must reading.

Harley A. said...

Sorry, I just couldn’t leave it alone…

“RESP: There’s plenty of evidence (in my opinion) against a six day creation and a literal, world-wide flood … but so far as I know, there’s no evidence against the resurrection.”

I would say quite the opposite is true. In the last 2,000 years, billions of people have died and not been resurrected. I’d argue there are mountains of observable, repeatable data that would cast extreme doubt on the resurrection (just going on evidence). How do I know Spong isn’t right in his analysis? Do I trust Sparks over Spong?

threegirldad said...

Once we admit that Jesus is exercising his human nature by interpretation and not by depending upon divine immediacy...

What does this mean in relation to the passages I mentioned previously? For example:

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?"

Are you saying that this is an example of Jesus being merely clairvoyant?

Todd Pruitt said...

threegirldad,

What you are citing is exactly why historic orthodoxy has never maintained that Jesus erred or made mistakes. To say that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature does not demand a conclusion that Jesus erred. This is why hypothetical examples had to be used. There are NO examples from the New Testament.

I know errantists who would never suggest such that Jesus erred or made mistakes.

To affirm Jesus' genuine humanity is not to suggest that his humanity was precisely like my humanity. The fact that Jesus was without sin means far more than simply not doing immoral things. His mind, will, and emotions were untouched by the fall. That puts Jesus in a radically different category than any of us.

What is more, as you point out, there is much in the New Testament affirming that Jesus was human in a unique way. Who among us has special access to the Father's mind? Who among us knows the manner and time of our death? Who among us can read the thoughts of others? Who among us was capable of instructing the teachers of Israel at 12 years old? Who among us has raised the dead or forgiven sins?

Of course I am operating under the assumption that what the New Testament tells us about Jesus is actually reliable. Once that is off the table, however, then all bets are off.

Kent Sparks said...

Hi Todd,

"This is why hypothetical examples had to be used."

To be fair, because you believe all of my arguements are wrong, all of my examples will strike you as hypothetical.

I deeply respect you and understand your commitments. And I look forward to e- and lunch conversations in the future.

Best,
Kent

Todd Pruitt said...

Kent,

Thanks for the participation. I too look forward to future conversations.

P.S.

I'm hoping to follow your advice about catching the show out at the Gershwin if I can find an evening that will work.

Aaron said...

Hi Dr. Kent and Todd,

I have learned alot from your conversations here. Makes we want to go back and read more and perhaps enroll in some theology and history courses.

Kent, having sat under your teaching, I appreciate your intellectual honesty, personal warmth and pastoral approach-- bringing your personal faith into congruence and alignment with your scholarship. BTW, can i get an autographed copy of your book :)

Not knowing Todd personally yet, except being his Facebook "friend" (which is where I found out about this "e-conversation/debate,") i appreciate your ministry, and also the prayer week sessions on Trinity and prayer which i have listened to on MP3.

True confessions: I hold to FI as a pragmatist. To me the other option is too scary and open for my mind to get around, and for me to operate under.

As a non-theologian and not a true primary English speaker, I can only say that words often fail to capture reality. Is this why sometimes in Scripture worship is expressed in wordless silence? So at best on this side of eternity, the medium of inspired human words attempt to capture/describe reality seen through a glass dimly. This can be the nidus of interesting conversations in our city over God's primary language and whether any of His thoughts can be captured adequately once translated. :)

I always thought that Jesus humanity probably included a true childhood, so that He did not declare upon birth His nature verbally, but that probably as suggested by my wife, perhaps also "nibbled His toes as a baby."

Blessings in the journey.

Kent Sparks said...

Threegirldad et al:

Just in case you feel the need for further clarification, please contact me via email at ksparks@eastern.edu.

Mike said...

Todd and Kent...prob needless for me to say this but thoroughly enjoyed this interaction. I really appreciate the perspectives expressed here...all perspectives.

Todd, I will keep my promise (in an earlier post) to read Beale's book....Kent, as always, you are the hand that reaches out to help those in need, especially those of us who would have fallen away except for honest engagement of these issues.

Kent Sparks said...

Thanks, Mike. We all help each other ... to each is given a gift ...

threegirldad said...

except for honest engagement of these issues

Wow. That was really uncalled for.

Mike said...

"except for honest engagement of these issues...Wow. That was really uncalled for."

I did not mean it to be (or sound) offensive...but nevertheless it is a statement for which I will not apologize for...It is just my perspective.

Mike said...

just to be clear my statement about "honest engagement" is not directed to a particular person (i.e. Todd or anyone else on this blog) just how I feel about evangelicalism as a whole.

threegirldad said...

Mike,

I see. Well, thanks for the clarification.

I feel the exact same way in the opposite direction...