Monday, November 29, 2010

Validity of Gospels part 2


This is the continence of the issues on Monday. I laid out a major point

I. The authority of Teaching for the Tradition

II. Eye Witness Testimony

A. Community as Author.

this leaves us with second sub point:

(B) Gospel behind the Gospels.

The Gospels we have now that we take for granted as the first and most authentic are constructed by communities, not individuals,(due to redaction, the editing process). They are composed from prior documents meaning that many of the very same reading were not the original words of authors named "Matthew, Mark, Luke, John" but already existed and already circulated in other forms. In other words, there are older "pre Gospel" Gospels. that can be dated as earlier as mid first century or so. We know this through a variety of sources.

The circulation of Gospel material can be showen in four areas:

(1) Oral tradition

(2) saying source Material

(3) Non canonical Gospels

(4) traces of pre Markan redaction(PMR) (canonical material that pre-date Mark, assumed the to be the first Gosple)

Oral tradtion in two major sources

(1) Pauline references to sayings

The great scholar Edgar Goodspeed held that oral tradition was not haphazard rumor but tightly controlled process,and that all new converts were required to learn certain oral traditions and spit them back from memory:

An Introduction to the New Testament

By Edgar J. Goodspeed
University of Chicago Press

Chicago: Illinois.

Published September 1937.

This web page is placed in the public domain by Peter Kirby and Wally Williams

Our earliest Christian literature, the letters of Paul, gives us glimpses of the form in which the story of Jesus and his teaching first circulated. That form was evidently an oral tradition, not fluid but fixed, and evidently learned by all Christians when they entered the church. This is why Paul can say, "I myself received from the Lord the account that I passed on to you," I Cor. 11:23. The words "received, passed on" [1] reflect the practice of tradition—the handing-down from one to another of a fixed form of words. How congenial this would be to the Jewish mind a moment's reflection on the Tradition of the Elders will show. The Jews at this very time possessed in Hebrew, unwritten, the scribal interpretation of the Law and in Aramaic a Targum or translation of most or all of their Scriptures. It was a point of pride with them not to commit these to writing but to preserve them.


1 Corinthians 15:3-8 has long been understood as a formula saying like a creedal statment.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1Cr 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1Cr 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

1Cr 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1Cr 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1Cr 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Two problems: (1) Doesn't conform to a canonical reading; (2) seems to contradiction the order of appearances of the epiphanies (in fact doesn't even mention the women). Nevertheless it is in general agreement with the resurrection story, and seems to indicate an oral tradition already in circulation by the AD 50s, and probably some time before that since it has had tome to be formed into a formulamatic statement.

The problem with showing Oral tradition is that we have to find it in writing and this is essentually impossible. But we do find references to it in Paul. We find the doxology and other sayings that to which he alludes.

(2)The nature of pericopes

The nature of the pericopes themselves shows us that the synoptic gosples are made up of units of oral tradition. Many skpetics seem to think that Mark indented the story in the Gospel and that's the first time they came to exist. But no, Mark wrote down stories that the chruch had told for decades. Each unit or story is called a "pericope" (per-ic-o-pee).

Prof. Felix Just, S.J.

Electronic New Testament Educational Resources

pronounced "pur-IH-cuh-pee") - an individual "passage" within the Gospels, with a distinct beginning and ending, so that it forms an independent literary "unit"; similar pericopes are often found in different places and different orders in the Gospels; pericopes can include various genres (parables, miracle stories, evangelists' summaries, etc.)

On this basis Baultmann developed "form cricisim" because the important aspect was the form the oral tradition too, weather parable, narration, or other oral form.

Saying Source Material

(1)Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas which was found in a Coptic version at Nag Hammadi, but also exists in another form in several Greek fragments, is a prime example of a saying source. The narratival elements are very minimul, amounting to things like "Jesus said" or "Mary asked him about this,and he said..." The Gospel is apt to be dismissed by conservatives and Evangelicals due to its Gnostic elements and lack of canonicity. While it is true that Thomas contains heavily Gnostic elements of the second century or latter, it also contains a core of sayings which are so close to Q sayings from the synoptics that some have proposed that it may be Q (see Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels). Be that as it may, there is good evidence that the material in Thomas comes from an independent tradition,t hat it is not merely copied out of the synoptics but represents a PMR.

Quoted on Peter Kirby's Early Christian Writtings

KIrby quoting:Ron Cameron comments on the attestation to Thomas (op. cit., p. 535):

"The one incontrovertible testimonium to Gos. Thom. is found in Hippolytus of Rome (Haer. 5.7.20). Writing between the years 222-235 C.E., Hippolytus quoes a variant of saying 4 expressly stated to be taken from a text entitled Gos. Thom. Possible references to this gospel by its title alone abound in early Christianity (e.g. Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.25.6). But such indirect attestations must be treated with care, since they might refer to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Parallels to certain sayings in Gos. Thom. are also abundant; some are found, according to Clement of Alexandria, in the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Egyptians. However, a direct dependence of Gos. Thom. upon another noncanonical gospel is problematic and extremely unlikely. The relationship of Gos. Thom. to the Diatessaron of Tatian is even more vexed, exacerbated by untold difficulties in reconstructing the textual basis of Tatian's tradition, and has not yet been resolved."

(Ron Cameron, ed., The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Gospel Texts (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press 1982), pp. 23-37.)

Kirby--In Statistical Correlation Analysis of Thomas and the Synoptics, Stevan Davies argues that the Gospel of Thomas is independent of the canonical gospels on account of differences in order of the sayings.

In his book, Stephen J. Patterson compares the wording of each saying in Thomas to its synoptic counterpart with the conclusion that Thomas represents an autonomous stream of tradition (The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, p. 18):

(Kirby quoting Patterson)"If Thomas were dependent upon the synoptic gospels, it would be possible to detect in the case of every Thomas-synoptic parallel the same tradition-historical development behind both the Thomas version of the saying and one or more of the synoptic versions. That is, Thomas' author/editor, in taking up the synoptic version, would have inherited all of the accumulated tradition-historical baggage owned by the synoptic text, and then added to it his or her own redactional twist. In the following texts this is not the case. Rather than reflecting the same tradition-historical development that stands behind their synoptic counterparts, these Thomas sayings seem to be the product of a tradition-history which, though exhibiting the same tendencies operative within the synoptic tradition, is in its own specific details quite unique. This means, of course, that these sayings are not dependent upon their synoptic counterparts, but rather derive from a parallel and separate tradition."

Stevan L. Davies, The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated and Explained (Skylight Paths Pub 2002)

(2) Pauline references

Koster theorizes that Paul probably had a saying source like that of Q avaible to him. Paul's use of Jesus' teachings indicates that he probably worked from his own saying source which contained at least aspects of Q. That indicates wide connection with the Jerusalem chruch and the proto "Orthodox" faith.

Parable of Sower 1 Corinthians 3:6 Matt.
Stumbling Stone Romans 9: 33 Jer 8:14/Synoptics
Ruling against divorce 1 cor 7:10 Mark 10:11
Support for Apostles 1 Cor 9:14 Q /Luke 10:7
Institution of Lord's Supper 1 Cor 11:23-26 Mark 14
command concerning prophets 1Cor 14:37 Synoptic
Apocalyptic saying 1 Thes. 4:15 21
Blessing of the Persecuted Romans 12:14 Q/Luke 6:27
Not repaying evil with evil Romans 12:17 and I Thes 5:15 Mark 12:12-17
Paying Taxes to authorities Romans 13:7 Mark 9:42
No Stumbling Block Romans 14:13 Mark 9:42
Nothing is unclean Romans 14:14 Mark 7:15
Thief in the Night 1 Thes 5:2 Q/ Luke 12:39
Peace among yourselves 1 Thes Mark 9:50
Have peace with Everyone Romans 12:18 Mar 9:50
Do not judge Romans 13: 10 Q /Luke 6:37

Lost Gospels

Story by Kay Albright, (785) 864-8858

University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 1997

LAWRENCE - Fragments of a fourth-century Egyptian manuscript contain a lost gospel dating from the first or second century, according to Paul Mirecki, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.

Mirecki discovered the manuscript in the vast holdings of Berlin's Egyptian Museums in 1991. The book contains a rare "dialogue gospel" with conversations between Jesus and his disciples, shedding light on the origins of early Judaisms and Christianities.

The lost gospel, whose original title has not survived, has similarities to the Gospel of John and the most famous lost gospel, the gospel of Thomas, which was discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The newly discovered gospel is written in Coptic, the ancient Egyptian language using Greek letters. Mirecki said the gospel was probably the product of a Christian minority group called Gnostics, or "knowers."

Mirecki said the discussion between Jesus and his disciples probably takes place after the resurrection, since the text is in the same literary genre as other post-resurrection dialogues, though the condition of the manuscript makes the time element difficult to determine.

"This lost gospel presents us with more primary evidence that the origins of early Christianity were far more diverse than medieval church historians would tell us," Mirecki said. "Early orthodox histories denigrated and then banished from political memory the existence of these peaceful people and their sacred texts, of which this gospel is one."

Mirecki is editing the manuscript with Charles Hedrick, professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield. Both men independently studied the manuscript while working on similar projects in Berlin.

A chance encounter at a professional convention in 1995 in Philadelphia made both men realize that they were working on the same project. They decided to collaborate, and their book will be published this summer by Brill Publishers in the Netherlands.

The calfskin manuscript is damaged, and only 15 pages remain. Mirecki said it was probably the victim of an orthodox book burning in about the fifth century.

The 34 Gospels

Bible Review, June 2002: 20-31; 46-47

Charles W. Hendrick, professor who discovered the lost Gospel of the Savior tells us

Mirecki and I are not the first scholars to find a new ancient gospel. In fact scholars now have copies of 19 gospels (either complete, in fragments or in quotations), written in the first and second centuries A.D— nine of which were discovered in the 20th century. Two more are preserved, in part, in other andent writings, and we know the names of several others, but do not have copies of them. Clearly, Luke was not exaggerating when he wrote in his opening verse: "Many undertook to compile narratives [aboutJesus]" (Luke 1:1). Every one of these gospels was deemed true and sacred by at least some early Christians

These Gospels demonstrate a great diversity among the early chruch, the diminish the claims of an orthodox purity. On the other hand, they tell us more about the historical Jesus as well. One thing they all have in common is to that they show Jesus as a historical figure, working in public and conducting his teachings before people, not as a spirit being devoid of human life.Hendrick says,"Gospels-whether canonical or not- are collections of anecdotes from Jesus' public career."

Many of these lost Gospels pre date the canonical gospels, which puts them prior to AD 60 for Mark:


The Gospel of the Saviour, too. fits this description. Contrary' to popular opinion, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not included m the canon simply because they were the earliest gospels or because they were eyewitness accounts. Some non canonical gospels are dated roughly to the same period, and the canonical gospels and other early Christian accounts appear to rely on earlier reports. Thus, as far as the physical evidence is concerned, the canonical gospels do not take precedence over the noncanonical gospels. The fragments of John, Thomas and theEgerton Gospel share the distinction of being the earliest extant pieces of Christian writing known. And although the existing manuscript evidence for Thomas dates to the mid-second century, the scholars who first published the Greek fragments held open the possibility that it was actually composed in the first century, which would put it around the time John was composed.

The unknown Gospel of Papyrus Egerton 2

The unknown Gospel of Egerton 2 was discovered in Egypt in 1935 exiting in two different manuscripts. The original editors found that the handwriting was that of a type from the late first early second century. In 1946 Goro Mayeda published a dissertation which argues for the independence of the readings from the canonical tradition. This has been debated since then and continues to be debated. Recently John B. Daniels in his Clairmont Dissertation argued for the independence of the readings from canonical sources. (John B. Daniels, The Egerton Gospel: It's place in Early Christianity, Dissertation Clairmont: CA 1990). Daniels states "Egerton's Account of Jesus healing the leaper Plausibly represents a separate tradition which did not undergo Markan redaction...Compositional choices suggest that...[the author] did not make use of the Gospel of John in canonical form." (Daniels, abstract). The unknown Gospel of Egerton 2 is remarkable still further in that it mixes Johannie language with Synoptic contexts and vice versa. which, "permits the conjecture that the author knew all and everyone of the canonical Gospels." (Joachim Jeremias, Unknown Sayings, "An Unknown Gospel with Johannine Elements" in Hennecke-Schneemelcher-Wilson, NT Apocrypha 1.96). The Unknown Gospel preserves a tradition of Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1:40-44. (Note: The independent tradition in the Diatessaran was also of the healing of the leper). There is also a version of the statement about rendering unto Caesar. Space does not permit a detailed examination of the passages to really prove Koster's point here. But just to get a taste of the differences we are talking about:

Egerton 2: "And behold a leper came to him and said "Master Jesus, wandering with lepers and eating with them in the inn, I therefore became a leper. If you will I shall be clean. Accordingly the Lord said to him "I will, be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.
Mark 1:40: And the leper came to him and beseeching him said '[master?] if you will you can make me clean. And he stretched out his hands and touched him and said "I will be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.
Egerton 2: "tell us is it permitted to give to Kings what pertains to their rule? Tell us, should we give it? But Jesus knowing their intentions got angry and said "why do you call me teacher with your mouth and do not what I say"? Mark 12:13-15: Is it permitted to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or not? But knowing their hypocrisy he said to them "why do you put me to the test, show me the coin?"


"There are two solutions that are equally improbable. It is unlikely that the pericope in Egerton 2 is an independent older tradition. It is equally hard to imagine that anyone would have deliberately composed this apophthegma by selecting sentences from three different Gospel writings. There are no analogies to this kind of Gospel composition because this pericope is neither a harmony of parallels from different Gospels, nor is it a florogelium. If one wants to uphold the hypothesis of dependence upon written Gospels one would have to assume that the pericope was written form memory....What is decisive is that there is nothing in the pericope that reveals redactional features of any of the Gospels that parallels appear. The author of Papyrus Egerton 2 uses independent building blocks of sayings for the composition of this dialogue none of the blocks have been formed by the literary activity of any previous Gospel writer. If Papyrus Egerton 2 is not dependent upon the Fourth Gospel it is an important witness to an earlier stage of development of the dialogues of the fourth Gospel....(Koester , 3.2 p.215)

Gospel of Peter

Fragments of the Gospel of Peter were found in 1886 /87 in Akhimim, upper Egypt. These framents were from the 8th or 9th century. No other fragment was found for a long time until one turned up at Oxyrahynchus, which were written in 200 AD. Bishop Serapion of Antioch made the statement prior to 200 that a Gospel had been put forward in the name of Peter. This statement is preserved by Eusebius who places Serapion around 180. But the Akhimim fragment contains three periciopes. The Resurrection, to which the guards at the tomb are witnesses, the empty tomb, or which the women are witnesses, and an epiphany of Jesus appearing to Peter and the 12, which end the book abruptly.

Many features of the Gospel of Peter are clearly from secondary sources, that is reworked versions of the canonical story. These mainly consist of 1) exaggerated miracles; 2) anti-Jewish polemic.The cross follows Jesus out of the tomb, a voice from heaven says "did you preach the gospel to all?" The cross says "Yea." And Pilate is totally exonerated, the Jews are blamed for the crucifixion. (Koester, p.218). However, "there are other traces in the Gospel of Peter which demonstrate an old and independent tradition." The way the suffering of Jesus is described by the use of passages from the old Testament without quotation formulae is, in terms of the tradition, older than the explicit scriptural proof; it represents the oldest form of the passion of Jesus. (Philipp Vielhauer, Geschichte, 646] Jurgen Denker argues that the Gospel of Peter shares this tradition of OT quotation with the Canonicals but is not dependent upon them. (In Koester p.218) Koester writes, "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" (Ibid). Said another way, the interpretation of Scripture as the formation of the passion narrative became an independent document, a ur-Gospel, as early as the middle of the first century!

Corosson's Cross Gospel is this material in the Gospel of Peter through which, with the canonicals and other non-canonical Gospels Crosson constructs a whole text. According to the theory, the earliest of all written passion narratives is given in this material, is used by Mark, Luke, Matthew, and by John, and also Peter. Peter becomes a very important 5th witness. Koester may not be as famous as Crosson but he is just as expert and just as liberal. He takes issue with Crosson on three counts:

1) no extant text,its all coming form a late copy of Peter,

2) it assumes the literary composition of latter Gospels can be understood to relate to the compositions of earlier ones;

3) Koester believes that the account ends with the empty tomb and has independent sources for the epihanal material.


"A third problem regarding Crossan's hypotheses is related specifically to the formation of reports about Jesus' trial, suffering death, burial, and resurrection. The account of the passion of Jesus must have developed quite eary because it is one and the same account that was used by Mark (and subsequently Matthew and Luke) and John and as will be argued below by the Gospel of Peter. However except for the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection in the various gospels cannot derive from a single source, they are independent of one another. Each of the authors of the extant gospels and of their secondary endings drew these epiphany stories from their own particular tradition, not form a common source." (Koester, p. 220)

"Studies of the passion narrative have shown that all gospels were dependent upon one and the same basic account of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. But this account ended with the discovery of the empty tomb. With respect to the stories of Jesus' appearances, each of the extant gospels of the canon used different traditions of epiphany stories which they appended to the one canon passion account. This also applies to the Gospel of Peter. There is no reason to assume that any of the epiphany stories at the end of the gospel derive from the same source on which the account of the passion is based."(Ibid)

So Koester differs from Crosson mainly in that he divides the epiphanies up into different sources. Another major distinction between the two is that Crosson finds the story of Jesus burial to be an interpolation from Mark to John. Koester argues that there is no evidence to understand this story as dependent upon Mark. (Ibid). Unfortunately we don't' have space to go through all of the fascinating analysis which leads Koester to his conclusions. Essentially he is comparing the placement of the pericopes and the dependence of one source upon another. What he finds is mutual use made by the canonical and Peter of a an older source that all of the barrow from, but Peter does not come by that material through the canonical, it is independent of them.

"The Gospel of Peter, as a whole, is not dependent upon any of the canonical gospels. It is a composition which is analogous to the Gospel of Mark and John. All three writings, independently of each other, use older passion narrative which is based upon an exegetical tradition that was still alive when these gospels were composed and to which the Gospel of Matthew also had access. All five gospels under consideration, Mark, John, and Peter, as well as Matthew and Luke, concluded their gospels with narratives of the appearances of Jesus on the basis of different epiphany stories that were told in different contexts. However, fragments of the epiphany story of Jesus being raised form the tomb, which the Gospel of Peter has preserved in its entirety, were employed in different literary contexts in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew." (Ibid, p. 240).

Also see my essay Have Gaurds, Will Aruge in which Jurgen Denker and Raymond Brown also agree about the independent nature of GPete. Brown made his reputation proving the case, and publishes a huge chart in Death of the Messiah which shows the interdependent nature and traces it line for line. Unfortunately I can't reproduce the chart.

What all of this means is, that there were independent traditions of the same stories, the same documents, used by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which were still alive and circulating even when these canonical gospels were written. They represent much older sources and the basic work which all of these others use, goes back to the middle of the first century. It definitely posited Jesus as a flesh and blood man, living in historical context with other humans, and dying on the cross in historical context with other humans, and raising from the dead in historical context, not in some ethereal realm or in outer space. He was not the airy fairy Gnostic redeemer of Doherty, but the living flesh and blood "Son of Man."

Moreover, since the breakdown of Ur gospel and epiphany sources (independent of each other) demands the logical necessity of still other sources, and since the other material described above amounts to the same thing, we can push the envelope even further and say that at the very latest there were independent gospel source circulating in the 40s, well within the life span of eye witnesses, which were based upon the assumption that Jesus was a flesh and blood man, that he had an historical existence. Note: all these "other Gospels" are not merely oriented around the same stories, events, or ideas, but basically they are oriented around the same sentences. There is very little actual new material in any of them, and no new stories. They all essentially assume the same sayings. There is some new material in Thomas, and others, but essentially they are all about the same things. Even the Gospel of Mary which creates a new setting, Mary discussing with the Apostles after Jesus has returned to heaven, but the words are basically patterned after the canonical gospels. It is as though there is an original repository of the words and events and all other versions follow that repository. This repository is most logically explained as the original events! Jesus actual teachings!

Canonical Gospels

The Diatessaon is an attempt at a Harmony of the four canonical Gospels. It was complied by Titian in about AD172, but it contains readings which imply that he used versions of the canonical gospels some of which contain pre markan elements.

In an article published in the Back of Helmut Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels, William L. Petersen states:

"Sometimes we stumble across readings which are arguably earlier than the present canonical text. One is Matthew 8:4 (and Parallels) where the canonical text runs "go show yourself to the priests and offer the gift which Moses commanded as a testimony to them" No fewer than 6 Diatessaronic witnesses...give the following (with minor variants) "Go show yourself to the priests and fulfill the law." With eastern and western support and no other known sources from which these Diatessaranic witnesses might have acquired the reading we must conclude that it is the reading of Tatian...The Diatessaronic reading is certainly more congielian to Judaic Christianity than than to the group which latter came to dominate the church and which edited its texts, Gentile Christians. We must hold open the possibility that the present canonical reading might be a revision of an earlier, stricter , more explicit and more Judeo-Christian text, here preserved only in the Diatessaron. (From "Titian's Diatessaron" by William L. Petersen, in Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development, Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990, p. 424)

The Jesus Narrative In Pauline Literature

Paul's allusions to the narrative relates to many points in the Gospels:

He was flesh and blood (Phil 2:6, 1 Tim 3:16)
Born from the lineage of David (Rom 1:3-4, 2 Tim 2:8)
Jesus' baptism is implied (Rom 10:9)
The last supper (1 Cor 11:23ff)
Confessed his Messiahship before Pilate (1 Tim 6:13)
Died for peoples' sins (Rom 4:25, 1 Tim 2:6)
He was killed (1 Cor 15:3, Phil 2:8)
Buried (1 Cor 15:4)
Empty tomb is implied (1 Cor 15:4)
Jesus was raised from the dead (2 Tim 2:8)
Resurrected Jesus appeared to people (1 Cor 15:4ff)
James, a former skeptics, witnessed this (1 Cor 15:7)
as did Paul (1 Cor 15:8-9)
This was reported at an early date (1 Cor 15:4-8)
He asceded to heaven, glorified and exalted (1 Tim 3:16, Phil 2:6f)
Disciples were transformed by this (1 Tim 3:16)
Disciples made the Gospel center of preaching (1 Cor 15:1-4)
Resurrection was chief validation of message (Rom 1:3-4, Rom 10:9-10)
Called Son of God (Rom 1:3-4)
Called Lord (Rom 1:4, Rom 10:9, Phil 2:11)
Called God (Phil 2:6)
Called Christ or Messiah (Rom 1:4, Phil 2:11

Summary and Conclusion

Koster and Crosson both agree that the PMR was circulating in written form with empty tomb and passion narrative, as early as 50AD

From this notion as a base line for the beginning of the process of redaction, and using the traditional dates given the final product of canonical gospels as the base line for the end of the process, we can see that it is quite probable that the canonical gospels were formed between 50 and 95 AD. It appears most likely that the early phase, from the events themselves that form the Gospel, to the circulation of a written narrative, there was a controlled oral tradition that had its hay day in the 30's-40's but probably overlapped into the 60's or 70's. The say sources began to be produced, probably in the 40's, as the first written attempt to remember Jesus' teachings. The production of a written narrative in 50, or there about, probably sparked interest among the communities of the faithful in producing their own narrative accounts; after all, they too had eye witnesses.

Between 50-70's those who gravitated toward Gnosticism began emphasizing those saying sources and narrative periscope that interested them for their seeming Gnostic elements, while the Orthodox honed their own orthodox sources that are reflected in Paul's choices of material,and latter in the canonical gospels themselves. So a great "divvying up" process began where by what would become Gnostic lore got it's start, and for that reason was weeded out of the orthodox pile of sayings and doings. By that I mean sayings Like "if you are near to the fire you are near to life" (Gospel of the Savior) or "cleave the stone and I am there" (Thomas) "If Heaven is in the clouds the birds of the air will get there before you" (Thomas) have a seeming gnostic flavor but could be construed as Orthodox. These were used by the Gnostically inclined and left by the Orthodox. That makes sense as we see the earliest battles with gnosticism beginner to heat up in the Pauline literature.

My own theory is that Mark was produced in several forms between 60-70, before finally comeing to rest in the form we know it today in 70. During that time Matthew and Luke each copied from different versions of it. John bears some commonality with Mark, according to Koester, becasue both draw upon the PMR. Thus the early formation of John began in 50-s or 60s, the great schism of the group probably happened in the 70's or 80s, with the gnostic bunching leaving for Egypt and producing their own Gnostic redaction of the gospel of John, the Orthodox group then producing the final form by adding the prologue which in effect, is the ultimate censor to those who left the group.

The Gospel material was circularizing throughout Church hsitory, form the infancy of the Church to the final production of Canonical Gospels. Thus the skeptical retort that "they weren't written until decades latter" is totally irrelevant. It is not the case,they were being written all along, and they were the product of the communities from which they sprang, the communities which originally witnessed the events and the ministry of Jesus Christ.

III. The validation of the material by extra Biblical Sources

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Historical Validity of the Gospels Grounding in Historical/Critical Methods, part 1


What ever happened to the Bible? Go on any message board where atheists congregate and start a discussion of any kind that invovles using the Bible as an authority and they will immediately say thing that sound as though the Bible doesn't even exist. The regard it as such a pile of crap they wont even tolerate the possibility that it might be defended. Today (Sunday) on CARM someone said that I have no way of distinguishing which passage are mythology and which are not. This is an atheist who knows me and knows I'm somewhat liberal. This guy as saying I can't distinguish true passages from ad ons but I just choose what I like. I listed a criteria for understanding mythology, it was a criteria based upon historical critical methods. This is what this other atheist responded. We also discussed the validation of the Bible as a historical artifact. I said the Gospels were historical artifacts that testify to the beliefs of the people who wrote them. That seems like a fairly a priori sort of statement--true by definition--but people are so bad at understanding logic they think that a priori must be a violation of logic instead a kind of logic, becuase they have been led to accept the phrase that teaches them to confuse try by definition with circular reasoning. So the second major issue for the day was historical life of Jesus and the inability of the Gospels to furnish any sort of historical documentation for the same. I listed three ways that we can validate the Gospels historically and this was one response:

Originally Posted by Westvleteren View Post
There is no method that allows the Bible to corroborate itself, as soon as you said that it nullified any possible argument you could make. Quite simply it is asinine. And no I could not care less that you are a PhD candidate as it has no bearing on the validity of your assertions.
I had said that by historical critical methods we can corroborate the Gospels as historical evidence of Jesus' existence. I also laid out an extensive criteria for determining what is mythology and what is not. I didn't claim the Bible corroborates itself. There is obviously a method or no book could ever corroborated. That method is called "historical critical method." This is so basic and these guys act like I made it up. They are practically saying there's no such thing as the historical critical. This more than more than anything shows the Orwellian nature of atheism. Anything that they can't out argue by reason or histircal fact they merely claim doesn't exist and make to go away becasue they don't like it. They just brain wash their mentions into thinking "there can't be such a thing as historical critical methods."

Doesn't it seem really imbecilic to think that there's this one book that can't be corroborated? I used three different senses in which a book can be corroborated in order to show how foolish it is to make the statment "no method could exist that would do this." Each sense in which the Gospels can be corroborated (use the Gospels since the historical Jesus was the issue) I use anaother another kind of book. Let's look at the three aspects of the historical critical method that verify the Gospels, and then at the criteria for understanding mythology from historically based writing. Three ways of corroborating the Gospels:

I. The authority of the teaching for the tradition

Most scholars point to the fact that the four canonical Gospels were already used by most of the chruch by the time of the canon[Martin Franzmann (The Word of the Lord Grows, St Louis: Concordia, 1961, 287-295)]. They bear the stamp of approval of those who were in charge of the teaching for the tradition. The problem is modern skeptics refuse to accept the facts, despise the truth, refuse to accept any sort of defense regardless of how good it is and basically refuse to even investigate the facts. If one actually examined the fact that is no way one can conclude other than that the four canonical gospels are the most logical choices of all the writings we have. Of the 34 lost gospels of which we have copies, fragments, theories, or any sort of inking only the four canonical Gospels makes sense as candidates for the canon. The Gospel according to Thomas has a historical core that probably goes back to the time of late first century. Yet it also has obviously late, maybe 3d century, heavily gnostic material. The Gospel of Peter had material that is corroborated as independent of the synoptic or of of John (see Ray Brown, Death of the Messiah) yet it encases this material in a clearly late framework. Only the canonical Gospels can be bore out as early dated, the trend is to even earlier dates, and at the same time has this vast body of attestation including the final inclusion in the canon. Skeptics also overlook the extent to which these 34 lost gospels supplement and corroborate the canonical Gospels. Most of the historical core of Thomas is in agreement with the synoptic.

American Theological Library Association

More than half of the material in the gospel of Thomas (79 sayings) is paralleled in the canonical gospels:


27 sayings are in Mark & the other synoptics;

46 parallel Q material (in Matthew & Luke)*

12 echo material special to Matthew; &

1 is only in Luke.

* [Q parallels include 7 sayings where Mark has a variant version]

Thomas is important for synoptic studies for two reasons:


Form: It proves that collections of Jesus sayings with no narrative were known in the early church. Thus, it gives indirect support to the hypothesis of a synoptic sayings source, Q.

Contents: Its version of some Jesus sayings is simpler than the synoptic parallels.

For the past 40 years scholars have debated whether Thomas is directly dependent on the synoptic gospels or not. Some have maintained the traditional view that Thomas is a 2nd or 3rd c. gnostic composition whose author extracted Jesus sayings from a Coptic translation of the NT & edited them to fit a gnostic worldview. Most recent experts on Thomas, however, regard it as an early sayings collection based on oral tradition rather than any canonical text.

There are four main reasons why scholars who have studied Thomas conclude that it is independent of synoptic tradition:


No narrative frame: If the compiler of Thomas drew these sayings from the canonical narrative gospels, he removed every trace of the stories in which the synoptic writers embed them.

Non-synoptic order: If the compiler of Thomas drew these sayings from the synoptic gospels, he totally scrambled them, separating adjoining sayings & scattering them at random. No one has yet proven that the sayings in Thomas are arranged according to any logical pattern.

Random parallels: Sayings in Thomas sometimes echo Mark, sometimes Matthew, sometimes Luke. There is no clear pattern of dependence on any one text.

More primitive form: Sayings in Thomas are often logically simpler than their synoptic counterparts. If the compiler drew these sayings from the synoptic gospels, he edited out the traits characteristic of each writer. While some synoptic parallels in Thomas have gnostic embellishments, these are easily removed.

Together these traits of Thomas make it highly unlikely that any synoptic gospel was used as its source. In fact, the random, eclectic character of the contents of Thomas makes it a more primitive composition than the synoptic sayings source that scholars call "Q." While many individual sayings in Thomas may be of late gnostic origin, the core of the collection (sayings with synoptic parallels) is probably as old or older than the composition of the canonical gospel narratives (50-90 CE). To date this gospel any later makes it hard to explain the general lack of features dependent on the synoptics.(Copyright © 1997- 2008 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.)

[For more details see Crossan, J.D. Four Other Gospels (Sonoma CA: Polebridge Press, 1992) pp. 3-38 or Patterson, S. J. in Q-Thomas Reader (Sonoma CA: Polebridge Press, 1990) pp. 77-127.]

The old independent core of Peter supports the idea of guards on the tomb, meaning it also supports the crucifixion, the tomb, and the resurrection, empty tomb.

What this means for us so far is that the stamp of approval given by inclusion in the canon means several things:

(1) it means the church as a whole already recognized those books as valid based upon the teaching handed down from the Apostles through the Bishops.

(2) That is corroborated historically and can be verified by the extra canonical materials that agree with the readings, such as Thomas and Peter.

(3) The very fact inclusion in the canon is a priori testament to this fact, since apostolic affirmation was part of the criteria.

An examination of how the canon came to be will bear this out. This is written by me based upon the Franzman source above. It's found on my website Doxa> Bible> The Canon: how do they know the got the right books?

Martin Franzmann (The Word of the Lord Grows, St Louis: Concordia, 1961, 287-295) traces the development of the canon in three stages:

*First Stage: 100-170:

In this stage there is no discussion of a canon. There is informal use of the NT writings but their usage indicates authoritative status. "What we do find in the Writings of the So called Apostolic Fathers (Clement of Rome, Epistle of Barnabas, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, the Teaching of the Twelve) is first a witness to the fact that the books destined to become the New Testament canon are there, at work in the church from the first...the influence of all types of New Testament writings (Epistles, Gospels,Johannine works, Pauline letters, catholic letters) is clearly decreeable. To judge by the evidence of this period the four Gospels and the letters of Paul were everywhere the basic units in the emerging canon of the New Testament." (Franzmann, 288)

Franzmann doesn't mention it directly but by implication (see quotation above) other books were also read in this period, but their use was unevenly speared through different churches. Each local church had it's own canon. They shared most of the New Testament writings but also preferred their own "local books," for example The Shaped of Hermas was popular in Rome (it's place of origin) and The Didache in Syria (Streeter, the Primitive Church).
At the end of this period the church is forced to deal with the question of a canon directly for the first time. The Heretic Marcion rejected the OT and revised the book of Luke. He presented a canon consisting only of his revised Luke and the letter of Paul minus the Pastoral Epistles.

*Second Stage, 170-220

The elements already present are firmed up. "Fourth fifths of the Chruche's eventual canon is already established beyond debate (Franzmann). The major documents which attest to the canon in this period are a report form the church's in Vienne and Lyon of a persecution they had undergone, sent to Asia Minor, and a work by Theophilus Bishop of Antioch in Syria. Neither list includes all 27 books, but they are substantially identical to the list we have today, and since the subject of neither work was specifically canonicity we cannot be sure why certain books aren't mentioned. The major church "Fathers" of this period are Irenaeus of Lyon, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian of Carthage. Their writings include all the 27 books except 2nd Peter. They show that there was unanimous agreement on all the books accept those that latter were disputed at the council of Niecia: Hebrews, Revelation, James, second Peter, second and third John, Judea and Revelation (which is why all of these are at the Back of the NT).

The other major document of this period is the Moratoria Fragment: The document was discovered by a Librarian in Milan in 1740, the librarian's name was Moratoria. It gives us a complete picture of the church at Rome in AD 170. The Muratorian includes 22 books, those omitted are Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, James, and one of the shorter letters of John. The document also includes a Revelation of Peter, Although it notes "some of us don't want it read in church." The Wisdom of Solemn is included but the Shaped of Hermas is rejected for it's early origin. But it is noted as not used in church.

*Third Stage: 220-400:

Origen, an Alexandrian theologian of the 3d century knew all 27 books of the Canon and was the first to take note of 2 Peter. Dionysius of Alexandrian, Origen's student, doubts the Johonnine authorship of Revelation but accepts its authority. When Euesbius, the first great historian of the Chruch discusses the canon in his Ecclesiastic Histories (325) he still has no official body of decision to appeal to. He doubts the works that were contested, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Hebrews. But what he does not doubt is the tradition that establishes the truth of Christ. He documents all ancient sources he can find, mainly Papias and Ireaeus, and others, the Bishop's lists, and expresses faith in the handing on the knowledge of truth. Cyril of Jerusalem in 350 recommends a 26 books canon (excluding Revelation) as "books recommended by all" (Franzmann 293).

"The 27 book canon...established itself in the early centuries of the church and maintained itself in the continued life of the church...they [the books of the canon] are what Athenasius called them, 'the wellsprings of salvation.' (Franzmann, 295).

The canon was the product of a process that developed over time. It was not something adopted in a weekend. The stories about putting out the lights and stealing the copies not favored by the power structure are just BS. I've tried find historical proof such going's on and there are none.

II. Eye witness testimony backing the material

There are two aspects to this issue:

(A) Community as Author.

Sketpics make a big thing out of the fact that no Gospel can be corroborated as the product of its namesake, Matthew can't be proved to have written by Matthew, and John cannot be proved to have written by John. Therefore, skeptics conclude, there's no authority of eye witness testimony. yet the skeptics are ignorant. These books don't have to have been written by members of the twelve Apostles to contain eye witness testimony. Moreover, these works are not the product of a single individual. Scholars have for some time now recognized that the true authors are whole communities (see Luke Timothy Johnson, Writings of the New Testament). This means the community was the witness. We know that these early communities lived together communally. People are aware of the old saying that the early Christians sold their goods and moved in together but no one stops to think what it means. It means they developed the story together as a community. The force of truth, the power of the eye witnesse would have prevails in dominating the discussion. Eye witnesses would have been authorities and new comers would have been students.

The Jews of the first century had an oral culture, meaning it was their tradition to pass on knowledge by word of mouth. There are various works such as Cullman's The Johanine circle. and the Student Ph.D. dissertation the Matthew School (University of Dallas) that show historical basis for the communal theory, but its' rooted in the book of Acts. Skeptics think of the spread of the Gospel through oral tradition as wild rumors in which there was fomentation time for things to speak out of control This is just a fancy out of touch with the facts. The communal setting would have offered a controlled setting in which the information could have been kept straight, the oral culture would have provided the framework; these people knew how to keep oral tradition intact.

Stephen Neil (scholar)

"No one is likely to deny that a tradition that is being handed on by word of mouth is likely to undergo modification. This is bound to happen, unless the tradition has been rigidly formulated and has been learned with careful safeguard against the intrusion of error" (The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1961, London: University of Oxford Press, 1964, p.250)

Neil adds in a fn: "This is exactly the way in which the tradition was handed on among the Jews. IT is precisely on this ground that Scandinavian scholar H. Risenfeld in an essay entitled "The Gospel Tradition and its Beginnings" (1957) has passed some rather severe strictures on the form cuticle method.

See also M. Dibelius... Neil goes on to say that there is some "flexibility" in the transmission, but nothing that would change the basic facts or the thrust of the teaching otherwise, "But there is a vast difference between recognition of this kind of flexibility, of this kind of creative working of the community on existing traditions, and the idea that the community simply invented and read back into the life of Jesus things that he had never done, and words that he had never said. When carried to its extreme this method suggests that the community had far greater creative power than the Jesus of Nazareth, faith in whom had called the community into being." (Ibid.).

Oral tradition in first-century Judaism was not uncontrolled as was/is often assumed, based on comparisons with non-Jewish models. B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans* (eds.), Authenticating the Activities of Jesus(NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998):

"...[T]he early form criticism tied the theory of oral transmission to the conjecture that Gospel traditions were mediated like folk traditions, being freely altered and even created ad hoc by various and sundry wandering charismatic jackleg preachers. This view, however, was rooted more in the eighteenth century romanticism of J. G. Herder than in an understanding of the handling of religious tradition in first-century Judaism. As O. Cullmann, B. Gerhardsson, H. Riesenfeld and R. Riesner have demonstrated, [22] the Judaism of the period treated such traditions very carefully, and the New Testament writers in numerous passages applied to apostolic traditions the same technical terminology found elsewhere in Judaism for 'delivering', 'receiving', 'learning', 'holding', 'keeping', and 'guarding', the traditioned 'teaching'. [23] In this way they both identified their traditions as 'holy word' and showed their concern for a careful and ordered transmission of it. The word and work of Jesus were an important albeit distinct part of these apostolic traditions.*

"Luke used one of the same technical terms, speaking of eyewitnesses who 'delivered to us' the things contained in his Gospel and about which his patron Theophilus had been instructed. Similarly, the amanuenses or co-worker-secretaries who composed the Gospel of John speak of the Evangelist, the beloved disciple, 'who is witnessing concerning these things and who wrote these things', as an eyewitness and a member of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples.[24] In the same connection it is not insignificant that those to whom Jesus entrusted his teachings are not called 'preachers' but 'pupils' and 'apostles', semi-technical terms for those who represent and mediate the teachings and instructions of their mentor or principal.(53-55)(corrosponding fn for Childton and evans")

Also, there wasn't an necessarily a long period of solely oral transmission as has been assumed:

"Under the influence of R. Bultmann and M. Dibelius the classical form criticism raised many doubts about the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels, but it was shaped by a number of literary and historical assumptions which themselves are increasingly seen to have a doubtful historical basis. It assumed, first of all, that the Gospel traditions were transmitted for decades exclusively in oral form and began to be fixed in writing only when the early Christian anticipation of a soon end of the world faded. This theory foundered with the discovery in 1947 of the library of the Qumran sect, a group contemporaneous with the ministry of Jesus and the early church which combined intense expectation of the End with prolific writing. Qumran shows that such expectations did not inhibit writing but actually were a spur to it. Also, the widespread literacy in first-century Palestinian Judaism [18], together with the different language backgrounds of Jesus' followers--some Greek, some Aramaic, some bilingual--would have facilitated the rapid written formulations and transmission of at least some of Jesus' teaching.[19]" (p. 53-54)

N. T. Wright, critiquing the Jesus Seminar's view of oral tradition as uncontrolled and informal based on some irrelevant research done in modern Western non-oral societies writes:

"Against this whole line of thought we must set the serious study of genuinely oral traditions that has gone on in various quarters recently. [65] (p. 112-113)**

"Communities that live in an oral culture tend to be story-telling communities. They sit around in long evenings telling and listening to stories--the same stories, over and over again. Such stories, especially when they are involved with memorable happenings that have determined in some way the existence and life of the particular group in question, acquire a fairly fixed form, down to precise phraseology (in narrative as well as in recorded speech), extremely early in their life--often within a day or so of the original incident taking place. They retain that form, and phraseology, as long as they are told. Each village and community has its recognized storytellers, the accredited bearers of its traditions; but the whole community knows the stories by heart, and if the teller varies them even slightly they will let him know in no uncertain terms. This matters quite a lot in cultures where, to this day, the desire to avoid 'shame' is a powerful motivation.

"Such cultures do also repeat, and hence transmit, proverbs, and pithy sayings. Indeed, they tend to know far more proverbs than the orally starved modern Western world. But the circulation of such individual sayings is only the tip of the iceberg; the rest is narrative, narrative with embedded dialogue, heard, repeated again and again within minutes, hours and days of the original incident, and fixed in memories the like of which few in the modern Western world can imagine. The storyteller in such a culture has no license to invent or adapt at will. The less important the story, the more the entire community, in a process that is informal but very effective, will keep a close watch on the precise form and wording with which the story is told.

In the Handbook of Biblical Social Values (2000), Jerome Neyrey says,

The people in the bilbical world are dyadic. This means that individuals basically depend on others for thier sense of identity, for their understanding of their role and status in society, for clues to the duties and rights they have, and for indications of what is honorable and shameful behavior. Such people live in a world which is clearly and extensively ordered, a system which is well known to members of the group. Individuals quickly internalize this system and depend on it for needed clues to the way their world works. . . The tradition handed down by former members of the group is presumed valid and normative. . . Group orientation is clearly expressed in the importance given to authority. (p.94-7)

see also
- Bruce Malina & Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Synoptics, and Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel on John.
- See also John Pilch, Jerome Neyrey, and David deSilva. The Context Group publications are listed here.

Be sure and tun in again on Wednesday for part 2.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy thanksgiving, I'll be back on Monday


I'll be back on monday. I'm giving myself a day off from blogging on Friday, need time for the Turkey to digest.

I have a lot to thank God for, and I pray that all my readers have good times with people they love over this holiday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ethical Discussion With Atheists on CARM


20 Nov 2010


the warrant, the thing that makes it so. what puts the force in "ought?"

Unknown atheist.

I am not sure what you mean by this. I am going to assume you mean that there are moral facts which exist in nature, and they are the basis of morality? Well if these moral facts exist, then maybe they are the basis for morality. But to my knowledge the only evidence we have for them is some peoples intuitions, which I do not trust.

Look, any time you use the term "ought" (that is what ethics is, it's how to show why something OUGHT to be done or not done) you are saying "this is what SHOULD BE."

ought = should be!

the thing that spells out a should be is a warrant. as in the phrase. "do you have a warrant?" Warrant in law means you are authorized to do something liek search a premises for something. Warrant in logic means you are authorized to draw a conclsuon from your data to your conclusion. That field that allows you to draw that conclusion si alogical piont that gives permition to think someting, in other words a good reason.

that's why I call the warrant the thing that makes it so(see above in blue). because it tells us why something should be. in so doing it sort of metaphorically gives us permission to believe that X should be.

Why is it a bad thing that our moral values reflect how we personally believe the world ought to be?


It's not. That is not give us license to do whatever seems good at the moment. There's a broader context than just individual feeling.

How does God choose his moral values, if not by his own personal fancy?
Love, God's charactor as love forms the basis of all ethical judgement. The basic grounding that makes right and wrong is the relation of an action to the motivatoin in love.

"fancy" implies either arbitrary or some from of trivial personal reference. God is not trivial, god is not just another guy. God is not a human being, he's not a big man in the sky. He's not just another guy with another opinion. God is the basis of all good by virtue of the fact that he is the source of all love (love in the sense of will to the good of the other).

Who else would be the authority and the judge but the all knowing creator? you are all knowing? you have your personal feelings. so do I? what if your personal feelings trample on my right? how does that make you more right than me just becuase you want something and I have it? There has to be arbitrating voice there that is not and is not me that says "this is not fair for you to kill this guy and take his things just because you have a personal feeling that you want them."

God's base of motivation is his character as the ground of being nad the source of love. Love is the background of the moral universe. That phrase means (rooted in St. Augustine btw) that love is the basic motivation behind all ethical stands and universals.


Does what either of us want have any bearing on reality?


On the way we perceive it.

Originally Posted by HRG View Post
"Grounding axioms" is a sufficiently vague expression, which enables its user to claim that his moral axioms are grounded, while those of his opponents aren't. In fact, what could you ground an axiom on, except another axiom ?
It would be if you were dealing with some sap who didn't study under Frederich Carney.

On the other hand you are not willing to even try to ground axioms meaning you are left with no moral philosophy and nothing but your alleged dry wit and no means of translating your value system into action.

I on the other hand have a cogent and well developed moral philosophy and I can certainly show where I ground my axioms.

See what I mean about a vague term, made even more vague by adding "adequately" ?

I see so adjectives make things more veg. there's a unique take on English.[HRG is From Austria you see.]


Could we please hear some more details about this alleged grounding process ?

How do you warrant an argument? grounding and moral axiom is nothing more than warranting a proposition. Warrant is the connecting link between the data and the conclusion.

You say math is objective. What makes it objective? what's the different between an actually objective proposition and a less subjective one? To say you have a less subjective proposition you have to compare it to something. Less subjective than what? speaking of "objective" is veg (ironically since objectivity is supposed to make things so transparent).

Mathematical assumptions are just as random and veg as any other. Why should we work in base 10 and not base 2? or base 8? It's all the same if you know how to work it right? The process is still one of logic and it's no different then words, it's just that the certainty in math comes at an earlier point, you choose which base and then you are stuck with a set of rules. The rules warrant the proposition, because they tell you which proposition to apply. But there is still an arbitrary point, it's just further up the line so to speak. no?

Warrant, connecting link, that's all basically epistemology. I think it was Simplelife who was speaking in this thread of separating ethics form epistemology? I agree with him, that is the beginner of the big mistake in western thought.

My epistemology is based upon epistemic judgment. I say we can't have absolute knowledge of reality so we must make a judgment at some point. The extent to which a proposition is warranted, or an axiom is grounded is the extent to which we choose a set of early on, and the more basic the level the more extensive the grounding.

Go back to the TS argument again. That argent connects everything to God becuase it shows the basis of all propositions, all ought, all should, all rules, all organizing becasue essence of the organizing principle. Base the axioms on the TS.

How to do that is the big problem. But go back to Fletcher there's a given at the most fundamental level, that's where I can connected being to love. I've talked about that link before. that unities the organizing principle (ordering principle) with the value system.

voila, axioms are grounded.

that doesn't mean there aren't problems to work out. there always are. That's what makes philosophy fun, otherwise logic would be bean counting.

Now the discussion turns to a guy called "Lance." I think his views really demonstrate what's wrong with humanity in this era. The blue text is what he's dealing with that I said in a previous post.

Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
the warrant, the thing that makes it so. what puts the force in "ought?"

Look, any time you use the term "ought" (that is what ethics is, it's how to show why something OUGHT to be done or not done) you are saying "this is what SHOULD BE."

ought = should be!

the thing that spells out a should be is a warrant. as in the phrase. "do you have a warrant?" Wararnt in law means you are authroized to do something liek search a premises for something. Warrant in logic means you are authorized to draw a conclsuon from your data to your conclusion. That field that allows you to draw that conclusion si alogical piont that gives permition to think someting, in other words a good reason.

that's why I call the warrant the thing that makes it so(see abvoe in blue). because it tells us why soemthin should be. in so doing it sort of metaphorically gives us persmission to believe that X should be.

I believe you are describing what I call a moral fact, here let me define it for you.
Just like a fact is something in reality which makes a descriptive statement true, a moral fact is something in reality which makes a prescriptive statement true.

Quote Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
It's not. That is not give us license to do whatever seems good at the moment. There's a broader context than just individual feeling.

I understand that the legalistic terminology you were using before was just a metaphor to describe things which make prescriptive statements true; I think that you are over extending the metaphor now with talk of license. Why don’t we break away from metaphors and speak in clear and precise terms?

All language is metaphor. However I am speaking planing. Person desire does not trump moral axioms and it doesn't make them either. Ethical values are shared values not personal feelings. Personal ethical feelings are indicative of universals, they are not warrant in themselves.

There may or may not be such a thing as a moral fact. If there are moral facts, then the corresponding prescriptive statements are true. If there are not any moral facts, then no prescriptive statements are true. You have yet to provide evidence for such a thing as a moral fact, so we are for the moment at a stalemate, as I don’t have any evidence against the existence of a moral fact.

Meta (notice "moral fact" is his term and the burden he tries to stick me with but in sort of luring me into thinking it was my assumption).

Ultimately God is, for me, the basis of all moral grounding. That's theological ethics.IN that case essence proceeds being. That's the ultimate basis for all grounding.

In talking about ethical theory which is broader than moral philosophy or theological ethics, then you have to appeal to a broader base and have agreement based upon shared values, or else either consign yourself to being ignored, or force people people do your bidding regardless of their beliefs. Oddly though my own moral philosophy frowns upon the latter so I have to find points of agreement that even atheists and theists share. Either that or don't have agreement.

Quote Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
Love, God's character as love forms the basis of all ethical judgment. The basic grounding that makes right and wrong is the relation of an action to the motivation in love.


Absolute rubbish. I believe Fat Joe says it best when he sings, “Whats luv got to do – got to do – with it?”

cute. but I suspect you have nothing to put in its place. Atheists don't like the concept of love and it makes you feel wimpy who knows. I suspect you are on some kind of hard and bitter kick but that's not important.

Nothing else makes any sense. Let's get into it and I'll prove it.

But seriously now, what has the love of a god to do with what one ought to do? Maybe this makes more sense in your head where I assume you have redefined the word ‘love’ to have something to do with morality.

(Acutally he's half right. He probably thinks of love as wanting to have sex. The Greek term translated "love" in terms of God's love in the NT--Agaope--does have to do with mortality but I didn't define it that way the Greeks did.)

There's a reason why I called it "the background of the moral universe." It's not the "up front" reason for things, it's the back reason. It's underneath all the surface stuff. That goes back to what I told Hans about the transcendental signifier. The link from organizing principle to concepts and logical conclusions, is the way in which the organizing principles creates a hierarchy of meaning. God is at the top of the hierarchy and God's character is the basis, God's nature as being itself, is the basis for love and then for ethics. the link link form love to ethics would take longer. there are more steps that's the basic idea.

God is love
God created everything
therefore, the reason for everything is love.

something like that.

Quote Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
"fancy" implies either arbitrary or some from of trivial personal reference. God is not trivial, god is not just another guy. God is not a human being, he's not a big man in the sky. He's not just another guy with another opinion. God is the basis of all good by virtue of the fact that he is the source of all love (love in the sense of will to the good of the other).

God is not trivial?


That is most definitely up to debate.


nope. Nothing could be more obvious do you not understand how logic works? why is something grounded? becasue it has a higher principle that makes it so. that's the hierarchy of reality. The thing at the top is God and that's because God is the creator of it all and the organizer. It's God's basic principles that make the hierarchy and everything that comes out of it.

Anyways there is no reason for you to assume that the personal reasoning behind why one holds a certain moral belief is trivial. Believing it is wrong to kill people because you have a deep respect for human life is in no way trivial. I think you are too quick to judge.
sure, but it's not a grounding either. It's just a personal predilection you equally have the opposite feeling. Being person is not what makes it true. look at how deeply illogical that is. What if God were a broody kid who says "I have these deep feelings too my deep feeling to send you to hell." Now well wouldn't make it right because it's a deep person feeling? If deep personal feelings are what make things right why is God's deep personal feeling not right? Then it comes down to a matter of power.

at this point most people would bring up fairness. That's not fair. o now we have somethign other than deep personal feelings. now we have a universal to deal with. right? I can follow this line of reasoning until i come to a point where I prove that he motive force behind fairness is love. the motive of justice is love and so on.

And no God is not another man with another opinion; he is another person with another opinion.


nope he's not. "HE" is the transcendental signifier, the thing that makes meaning. He is the authorized of all authorizing the thing that creates everything. Thus all tings exist for his purpose not yours not mine. one of the primary lies you have fed that God is not any better or more important than you. that is self idolatry it's the major sin of the age. of cousre God is more important than everything becuase god is the basis of all reality.


God has his own personal moral law, as we all do, which is described in the bible.

That's part of the great deception that his destructing humanity. you are fed a poison that destroys your reasonnig. Look at how totally idiomatic that idea is. It says you are just as much a god as god. but if god has person feelings then he can send you to hell you have no right to object because hey he has the feelings, that makes it right hu? why not? you want to bring something else into it like justice that means feelings aren't makes it all true.

feelings are not what makes things true. feelings tell us about reality beyond ourselves they don't' create reality in us.

There is no more moral reason to follow God’s moral law than my own.


That's a lie. It's the ultimate evil. don't you realize that's make Hitler Hitler?HU? that's he basic lie of all murderers and all dictators. put yourself above truth, deg rate and pull down form heaven the truth of reality the truth of all goodness. put up yourself on that level with no justification at all. You have no more reason why your feelings should be it than yud o why God's should not be it.


Of course he is the biggest of us all, so there is reason to follow his moral law if you value certain things, like your own life.


that has nothing to do with it. might doesn't make right. God is right because he's God--the basis of reality and the transcendental signified. I said signifier but I meant signified.
(I just didn't have the energy to do the old wind up on Ground of Being, but in fact you know to say that is the "biggest of us" is not a statement one can make about the Christian God, because that's not the ground of being,it's another thing in creation. The basis of reality can't be called "the biggest thing" that would be comparing it to something and it's totally incomparable).

I don’t know what you mean by God being the source of all love, but I have news for you; I love people and God is not involved.
wrong! we are not capable of love on our own. the only reason we can love is because we are hooked up to God. God is the source of all love. Our ability and capacity to love is a result of being made in god's image.

Quote Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
Who else would be the authority and the judge but the all knowing creator?

you are all knowing? you have your personal feelings. so do I?
stop being ridiculous. that's just self worship it's a trip. it's a silly little trip young people try and when you are old like me you will know it was a stupid mistake. feelings are not knowledge and they are not warrants for truth. you turned off the feelings that were valid warnings you turned them off ages ago.

I have studies that show that atheists have low self esteem and leads them to hate God. that sounds to me like the self worship and self idolatry is just a reaction to poor self esteem.

what do you do when personal feelings compete? why should yours be any better than mine? Kind makes you think there has to be some universal thing that everyone can appeal to hu? Well wouldn't that mind that created it all and that knows all and can get inside your head and know your feelings better than you do be the the real all knowing one? I guarantee you you do not know my feelings.

what if your personal feelings trample on my right? how does that make you more right than me just becuase you want something and I have it? There has to be orbitrating voice there that is not and is not me that says "this is not fair for you to kill this guy and take his things just because you have a personal feeling that you want them."

If God does exist, then I agree he has the authority to judge us. This is not because he is all knowing though, but because he is all powerful. The most powerful one is always able to bully everyone else into following his moral law.


so you are not cable of conceiving of right apart from being a bully? Then that doesn't really recommend you as a moral philosopher. I hate to say it if you don't understand the concept of having an ethical theory that's more advanced that just "do this or I will pound your head to jelly" then perhaps your moral philosophy is not that great hu?

If God doesn’t exist, then the next most powerful people are your government. Then it’s their law which you are judged by.

why do you equate being powerful with being right?

I understand though, that the argument you are using goes like this:
1) If people are the moral law makers, then they have the power to abuse it
2) people sometimes abuse their power
People can’t be the moral law makers

I think it is much easier to see the flaw in your reasoning when it’s put into a formal argument form.

that's not really it. tha'ts maybe a part of it.

Quote Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
God's base of motivation is his character as the ground of being nad the source of love. Love is the background of the moral universe. That phrase means (rooted in St. Augustine btw) that love is the basic motivation behind all etheical stands and universals.

Bollocks. I have moral beliefs which have nothing to do with love, and I’m sure you do to.

see your feelings are leading you astray. they are telling to reject the bias of the good. personal feelings are not always valid and they never the basis for moral axioms.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prayer 4 (final): "Abide in Me."


The attention to answered prayer and unanswered prayer is always so focused on "getting stuff" I have said this several times in the three previous sections. I stated last time I wanted to use this last one to talk about the other aspects of prayer, which is really backwards. The major point of prayer is not getting stuff and the petition type of prayer is a small segment of the whole phenomena of prayer which is complex and immense.This top still, even though not about answered prayer or "getting stuff" still runs up against the concepts and problems of faiht and other faiths because we have the problem of having faith to believe that prayer is doing something, even if it is just being near God, and we have the point about other faiths because those other guys are getting up close and personal with their concepts of God too.

One other issue must be addressed as well, that is the link between prayer and mystical expedience. Prayer is the major aspect of knowing God. Prayer is the Major way to know God! Prayer is the key to faith. Time spent in prayer is gold in the religious life becuase the exent to which one will be able to hand fast in the crisis and to hold to that which we know is true even when things look totally hopeless and we think God has abandoned us, it's all related to the time we spend in prayer. Shallow prayer life equals shallow faith. It's not related to getting things. The extent to which one is a staring lion fighting Christians is not about the number of answers one got to prayer, but the time spend feeling God's presence, and expressing love for God and receiving voe form God. These are the true maturity and faith building aspects.The key to all of that is not number of answers, but time spent on your knees in the private prayer life. That is what does it, that's what make nurture spiritual life, period.What about the other guys, the guys in other faiths who spend their time with their concept of God?

I see religious tradition as vehicle for loading the experience of God into cultural constructs and giving meaning to that which is beyond words. Certainly I embrace the Nicene creed, and I do believe that Jesus is the incarnate logos. I also believe what Paul said about God working in all cultures (Acts 17:21-29), and God placing the moral law upon the heart of all people…”their may excuse them…” (Romans 2:15). In my view the purpose of apologetics is to demonstrate the human need to know God. The basis of exclusivity in Christian tradition is not the sort of exclusivity that derides other traditions. I realize it has been so construed in the past but it need not be. It is merely the sort of exclusivity that focuses upon the efficacy of Christ in redeeption and the value that offers to the world. I am not arguing that the following is the only way to reconcile the seemingly universal nature of mystical consciousness with Christianity. It’s the way I do it. It has to do with my own theological understanding. I am not saying it’s the only possible understanding.

The Phenomenological aspects of mystical consciousness are found in the Christian tradition. The idea of “knowing Christ” the personal relationship with God all contains the elements that James incorporates into the “knowledge about” and “knowledge-by-acquaintance.” In the New Testament this is expressed in the use of different Greek words for knowledge. The words that are used when the author speaks of “knowing Christ” invariably refer to personal knowledge, personal experience, first hand knowledge of something one experiences for one’s self. One example of such as term is epiginosko. There are other Greek words that pertain to book learning and knowledge about a subject that one leanrs second hand. These words are never used to describe the relationship between believers and God or Christ.

Anotehr such word is the term first used in Pauline literature, referring to proto Gnostic groups, and it was the Orthodox Church’s term, Glnosko (1097 Strong’s) for example means: Definition

  1. to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
    1. to become known
  2. to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of
    1. to understand
    2. to know
  3. Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman
  4. to become acquainted with, to know [i]

Used in Hebrews:

Heb 3:10 "Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, 'They always go astray in their heart; And they did not know My ways'; Heb 8:11 "And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' For ALL SHALL KNOW Me, From the least to the greatest of them.” In that passage we see clearly the idea of first hand knowledge through personal experience. One does not have to be taught what one experiences first hand. It’s. “They will all know me,” means they will all first hand personal knowledge of me. This means being a Christian turns upon personal experience of God at some level. That doesn’t mean having mystical experiences saves one. We all experience God at the subliminal level but being “saved” is a matter of recognition of what we have experienced already, the thing that draws us to Christ.

  1. Like the similar and related word epiginosko. (1921 Strong’s). to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly
    1. to know accurately, know well
  2. to know
    1. to recognise
      1. by sight, hearing, of certain signs, to perceive who a person is
    2. to know i.e. to perceive
    3. to know i.e. to find out, ascertain
    4. to know i.e. to understand

Used 1Co 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 1Co 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. 1Co 16:18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. [ii]

The idea that we know “in part” might possibly include the understanding that we experience God at a subliminal level beyond words and have to encode that into cultural constructs.

The term for the knowledge used of Gnostics, Gnosis is contrasted in that even though it bears the notion of perfection knowledge, it deals more with the understanding of rules and facts, of knowing ideas and doesn’t seem to bear the idea of the personal face to face knowledge.


  1. knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding
    1. the general knowledge of Christian religion
    2. the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced
    3. esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians
    4. moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living [iii]

Another word for Knowledge that could be used for knowing Christ, but is not, a word that carries the implication of factual knowledge is isemi, which means generally just “to know.”

eb 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Another factually based word for knowing is suneidon:


  1. to see (have seen) together with others
  2. to see (have seen) in one's mind with one's self
    1. to understand, perceive, comprehend,
  3. to know with another
  4. to know in one's mind or with one's self, to be conscience of

1Co 4:4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Used: Eph 3:19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” That seems to contrast the kind of knowledge known from the heart and from experiencing God with general knowledge, including book learning.

The terms used in the NT that deal with knowing Christ are terms that relate to first hand personal knowledge, knowledge-by-acquaintance. The term Ginosko, used throughout 1 John, implies an intimate experiential level of personal knowledge.

1Jo 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 1Jo 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1Jo 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 1Jo 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 1Jo 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 1Jo 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 1Jo 2:29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. 1Jo 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 1Jo 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 1Jo 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1Jo 3:19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 1Jo 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 1Jo 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. 1Jo 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 1Jo 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 1Jo 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1Jo 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1Jo 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 1Jo 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 1Jo 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 1Jo 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

The nature of what it means to “know God” or “know Christ” in the Christian religion is this personal level of experiential knowledge.[iv]


Mystical experience is inter-subjective (subjective but experiences in very similar ways by more than one mind). As has been documented by several researchers, the same commonalities come up over and over again. All mystical experiences have characteristics of undifferentiated unity, sense of presence, feeling of bliss, noetic aspects, ineffable nature, and so forth.

The Voyle stud is one of the studies on mystical experience that talk about and use in my soon to be released book, The Trace of God. The study demonstrates that the mature end of Christianity is found in those who have mystical experiences.

From the Voyle Study:

The contemporary interest in the empirical research of mysticism can be traced to Stace’s (Stace, 1960) demarcation of the phenomenological characteristics of mystical experiences (Hood, 1975). In Stace’s conceptualization, mystical experiences had five characteristics (Hood, 1985, p.176):

1. The mystical experience is noetic. The person having the experience perceives it as a valid source of knowledge and not just a subjective experience.

2. The mystical experience is ineffable, it cannot simply be described in words.

3. The mystical experience is holy. While this is the religious aspect of the experience it is not necessarily expressed in any particular theological terms.

4. The mystical experience is profound yet enjoyable and characterized by positive affect.

5. The mystical experience is paradoxical. It defies logic. Further analysis of reported mystical experiences suggest that the one essential feature of mysticism is an experience of unity (Hood, 1985). The experience of unity involves a process of ego loss and is generally expressed in one of three ways (Hood, 1 976a). The ego is absorbed into that which transcends it, or an inward process by which the ego gains pure awareness of self, or a combination of the two.[v]

Voyle demonstrates that the mystical end of the church is the mature end. That is to say, those who experience mystical consciousness represent a much more mature form of Christianity than do those who do not. He basis this upon his study in which he compares the two groups for depth of understanding and commitment.

Does the universality of religious experience invalidate religious truth?

Atheists often argue this point. They will say “they can’t all be right because they are all so different. So how can you establish that one is right and all the others wrong? I say, sarcastically, “you mean aside from the fact that God manifested as Jesus and rose from the dead? I don’t know.” I say that sarcastically because I know it wont meaning a thing to them. They do have a good point. We can be parochial and say, “well of course my tradition is the true one and all the others are damned.” But that has some obvious drawbacks.

Religious traditions are communities of discourse, their function is to create vocabularies in which one can receive guidance form those who have gone before, and make one’s own contribution to the conversation. Thus the experiences of God are filtered through cultural constructs and the meaningful nature of those constructs is relative to the various communities in which they take place. It is perfectly plausible that there is one truth behind all religious traditions. It is possible to maintain this position as a Christian, and to remain a Bible believing evangelical who seeks to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.. In fact, the Bible teaches that very thing. Paul comes up on Mars Hill he tells the Greek philosophers “you are worshipping the right God, ‘the unknown god’ you just don’t know enough about him.” He did not tell them “O you pagans are going to hell.” Other Christians, more conservative in their understanding, have told me that he was just using that as a trick. I can’t believe that Paul was just a con man who tried to trick people. If he said it had to believe it. This is just my personal way of rationalizing this problem. I’m not saying this is the only valid Christian outlook, but I think it is a valid Christian outlook. "All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God." From a human perspective, relatively speaking from one human to another there are, of course, well meaning people. There are good people all around us, from a human perspective. Relative to the Divine however, no one is good, no one is capable of meriting salvation. We all have our sins; we all have our human frailties. We are all caught up in "height" (our ability through the image of God in which we were created to move beyond our human finitude and seek the good) and "depth" (our nature burdened in the sinful wickedness to human deceit). These are Augustinian terms and they basically mean that we are, good and bad, saint and sinner. God knows the heart, He Knows what we truly seek. God is merciful and is able to forgive our trespasses. But, if we are really well meaning toward God we will seek the truth. If we are seeking the truth than God will make it plan to us.

abide in me

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you."

~ John 15:7 ~

This is one of those passages that atheist get up set about and start saying "he will not! He will not! just shut your eyes real tight and ask for a candy bar and he wont give you one." They start blathering about amputees. They can only think in terms of a big man in the sky and getting material things because that's surface level they can only relate to the surface level. When we look at the context of this passage, we see that it begins with a discussion about the vine and branches. Christ is the vine and we are branches. Any branch that doesn't bear fruit is pruned(1-3). this probalby doesn't mean kicked out of the Kingdom but chastised, disciplined, pruning is not destruction but cutting back to help the growth process. The tells that we must abide in him for us to bear fruit. So he's not cutting immature Christians out, he's disciplining us so we grow better, we grow better the more rooted in him we are.

John 15: 5-17

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

He moves from talking about horticulture to love, he winds up saying they are not his servants but his friends. So he's showing us that through this abiding we move from the formal to the intimate from merely obeying God to really knowing God. One might argue that what he means by abide is not prayer but living, or obeying. He does speak of keeping commands. That's true and I'm not saying it means only prayer.He's talking about a total way of life. Abide in Christ means follow Jesus, do what he says, keep his commandments, think like he does, but it not limited to the surface of just obeying commands. Abiding is also prayer, the personal knowledge that is stated in the meaning of those Greek terms. The experience of God's presence comes through prayer. Prayer has to be integrated into your life in such a way it's not some boring routine that you make room for on Tuesday and Sunday morning, it's not some ritual that set aside two hours for each day. It's an integral part of the way of life. You are praying in the shower praying in the car, praying while slinging hash and so on. I also combine meditation with prayer. I think of them as going together. Mediate on God's presence is a very helpful way to abide in God. The discourse ends with "this is my command, love each other." So it's a lived practice. Prayer is not just conversing and talking and say words, any more than it is asking for things. It's "abiding" "com munition" and living the communion. Actually loving is an expression of that communion. Paul Tells us Romans 5:1 love is poured into our hearts through the holy spirit. So love itself is actually God's love flowing through us, and that is made possible by prayer and communion and mediating on God's presence and abiding in God.

A fine book in the vast body of mystical writigns in the Christian tradition is a short nice little text called The Practice of the Presence of God. by Brother Lawrence (1614-1691). He was just a monk,in France. That's really all he did other than writing this one simple little book. Yet the book has become a spiritual classic. Basically he gave his life to dish washing sense he was undercoated. that's about all he did. That is to say, all the did other than prayer. He developed a reputation by the end of his life as someone what an expert, a mystic and whose prayers were answered. That's another aspect that atheists are always overlooking. The passage above does not say "just ask and there it is, boda bing, boda boom." It says "abide in me." It's a way of life. Even getting answers to prayers is the result of abiding, it's not some automatic thing. It's an outgrowth of process of living by faith. This little monk was known for feeling God's presence. he was extremely happy washing dishes because the prayed while he washed dishes. He felts the ceiling open and heaven descend and the kitchen became the thrown room of God.

Christian Classics
Ethereal Library

Yet despite, or perhaps because of, his somewhat lowly position, his character attracted many to him. He was known for his profound peace and many came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom that he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. This work was compiled after Brother Lawrence died by one of those whom he inspired, Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with John Wesley and A. W. Tozer being among those who recommended it.

A lot of the imagery is squeamish, weepy, and doesn't communicate in this age. Yet the overall effect and tone of the book is hopeful and loving, not fearful or condemning at all. His God was love, and he uses the concept of being born again and born again imagery of nature even 500 years before it was popular to do so.

In the deep of winter, Herman looked at a barren tree, stripped of leaves and fruit, waiting silently and patiently for the sure hope of summer abundance. Gazing at the tree, Herman grasped for the first time the extravagance of God's grace and the unfailing sovereignty of divine providence. Like the tree, he himself was seemingly dead, but God had life waiting for him, and the turn of seasons would bring fullness. At that moment, he said, that leafless tree "first flashed in upon my soul the fact of God," and a love for God that never after ceased to burn. Sometime later, an injury forced his retirement from the army, and after a stint as a footman, he sought a place where he could suffer for his failures. He thus entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris as Brother Lawrence.(Ibid)

print your own copy (20 pages) here.

[i] from on line resource “crosswalk” Greek Lexicons. that means basically Strong's concordance.

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] all the material relating to Greek terms unless otherwise noted is from Cross walk

[v] Robert J. Voyle. “The Impact of Mystical Experiences on Christian Maturity.” originally published in pdf format:
google html version here: