You have to believe in Hell, Predestination, Election and the Book of Revelation

On last week’s TNT I said something that I have heard a lot of positive – and some negative – feedback on. I thought it would be good to continue the conversation here on the blog.

 My assertion was that: If you are a Christian, you have to believe something about hell. It is just not an option to say “I don’t believe in hell”.  The word ‘hell’ is in the English version of the Bible and you can’t just say, as a Christian, that you don’t believe it. You can hold that it was a burning garbage dump in a valley outside Jerusalem that Jesus makes a poetic illusion to … but you have to believe something about hell. 

I would go on to broaden that assertion. I would say that you must believe in predestination, election, and the Book of Revelation.

All 4 of these are topics that l have personally heard people say “I don’t believe in __”

  • You have to believe something about hell.
  • You have to believe something about predestination.
  • You have to believe something about election.
  • You have to believe something about the Book of Revelation.

It is is just not an option to say “I don’t believe in hell”.  Jesus did.  If you are a Christian, you have to hold some belief about it.

Paul spoke of predestination. Election is a theme in scripture. You can’t just say ‘I don’t believe in Revelation’.  You can object to how some people interpret and preach the Book of Revelation … but you can’t ‘not believe’ it.

 Why It Matters: 

I come from an Evangelical-Charismatic background and am now employed at a Mainline church and attend a Mainline school.  I am passionate that thoughtful progressive Christians can not make the same mistake that Liberals made in the past century. By ‘de-mythologizing’ the Bible they undercut the very foundation that the tradition is built on.

It is like sawing the very branch that your a sitting on … on the tree side of the branch! What do you think is going to happen? You are left no place to perch.

I love Biblical Scholarship. I delight in post-modern and progressive theology. I take seriously the post-colonial critique and the perspective of feminists and queer theory. But it does us no good if we know what we don’t believe about something but do not have the ability to present in a constructive way what we do believe about those very subjects.

There is so little value in participating in a community based on a tradition where one does not believe in the very words of that faith’s sacred text.

Why even do it?  I think that is why so many ‘nones’ have just opted out. I actually greatly respect those who participate in the emergent conversation and who are valiantly attempting to update their denomination from within. It is far easier to just walk away from the entire project all together … and many have.

So How Do I Do It? 

Predestination:  Forget about the historical hyper-Calvinist understanding that you ‘don’t believe in”. Romans 8:29 says “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Who did God foreknow? Everyone.  What are they predestined to? To be conformed to the image of the Son.  Does everyone arrive at their destination? No.

Predestination might be, what some Process thinkers would be called, an ‘initial aim’. It is God’s desire for all. God doesn’t always get what God wants ( see 1Timothy 2:4).

 Election: Karl Barth said it clearly. God elected Jesus. All humanity is involved in that election. All who are ‘in Christ’ are elect.

 The Book of Revelation: You may not like the ‘Left Behind’ / Hal Lidsey / Jack Van Impe interpretation of the Book of Revelation … but you can’t, as a Christian, say that you don’t believe in it.  It’s in the Bible. You have to believe something about it.

The Book of Revelation was a political critique of the Roman Empire of the first two centuries written in the genre of the ‘apocalyptic’. It is not predictive of the 21st century. But we don’t want to throw it away!  What we need, more than ever, is to imitate it and write an apocalyptic critique of our as-it structures, systems and institutions of injustice and our empire. We need a prophetic imagination.

You can’t say, as a Christian, that you don’t believe in this stuff. You have to believe something about this stuff. My suggestion is that we just believe more informed better stuff about these topics. The simple fact is that we are community of people centered about a sacred text and it is simply not acceptable to say ‘I don’t believe in something’. We are free to not believe in some people’s interpretation – but we have to believe something about it. 

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? 

 

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60 comments
tom c
tom c

I see I'm late to the party... I just listened to the podcast in question, and this exact portion of it raised my hackles quite a bit.

 

It's not a good argument if it has the form "The Bible refers to X; therefore, a Christian must have an opinion about X." Why should anyone think that all Christians have an epistemic responsibility concerning everything that is in the Bible? It seems to me that suspending judgement is a reasonable position to have on a question, to suspend the having of an opinion when it is not obvious what to think or when the evidence available does not support one view over another. Furthermore, since the Bible as we know it didn't exist yet for the first several generations of Christians, they could not have held opinions about all of its contents. So, is this just a responsibility for contemporary Christians? Lastly, whose Bible are we talking about (i.e., which Biblical canon are we talking about - Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox)? Given these concerns, I don't agree with Bo's Biblical requirement for Christians. I would not even say that a Biblical theologian has to have an opinion about each and every X if X is in the Bible.

 

I take it that Bo is concerned that contemporary liberal-progressive leaning Christians might have a tendency to overlook or downplay the importance of the Bible (this seems to be a reasonable concern). This tendency might be, in part, the residue of the de-mythologizing of the Bible that took place in previous generations. The solution to this problem is not to demand that Christians engage all parts of the Bible. What is needed are good arguments for, or useful demonstrations of, the promise of Biblical engagement for contemporary Christians. In general, this podcast is really great at doing these things...

 

 

 

 

jamesdutton25
jamesdutton25

I really enjoyed this post, Bo! One thing that I have been reflecting on a lot lately is avoiding generalizations when talking about what we "do believe in" and "don't believe in." The particular phrase that is like nails on a chalkboard whenever I hear it is, "The Bible says...". My typical response is to shrug and simply say, "Well, the Bible says a lot."

That's my passive-agressive/non-productive way of saying that the Bible is more of a library than a book, consisting of "books" that have been added to/deleted from and changed by scores of writers, scribes, editors, communities, translators...basically, anyone who has gotten there hands on it. All of this change (as you, with your comprehensive George Fox Evangelical Seminary education should know *wink*) happened over more than a thousand years....A THOUSAND YEARS! So whenever someone say, "The Bible says..." they're implying that all of these authors, storytellers, scribes, editors, priests, translators over a thousand years were all on the same page theologically about whatever it is you are touting by saying, "The Bible says...". It'd be like saying, "Well, movies say that it's important to not lie to your wife." ...But, what movie? Surely not every movie "says" that. We have to be more specific when talking about the Bible. We need to say things like, "Paul says in Romans..." or "we read in Job that..." (and then hopefully some good exegesis follows).

Why am I saying this? Well, because even the most stringent atheist can probably find SOMETHING in the Bible that they agree with, and on the other side the most passionate inerrantist (if they're being honest) can probably find something in the Bible that they DON'T agree with.

The Bible is too complicated to begin any sentence with "the Bible is...". Whoever does begin sentences this way probably thinks they are smarter than they actually are.

theBoSanders
theBoSanders

@AndAFool well if people would stop being reactive and saying stupid crap then I wouldn't have to ;)

MarshallPease
MarshallPease

"if it occurs in the English version of the bible then we should account for it at some level and not dismiss it outright" 

There you go. "Bible as Scripture", Bebbington.

Yes we should think about stuff, and if we don't have a shared vocabulary we can't talk. But it sounds as though you want us to have our minds made up about things ... "Well, do you believe??" Whereas we should be better off if there were a broad category, "I don't know how that works out. Don't understand it, personally." Actually the best response might be "Let's sit down andunpack terms for a while." 

 

ChrisWick
ChrisWick

Spent a night thinking about this, since I almost always regret firing off any kind of comment on anything without sitting on it for a bit. I think the problem I'm having with your post is that, sure, as a Christian I believe something about these particular subjects but I also believe something about Paul calling people dogs. I also believe something about talking donkeys. I wouldn't say, "I don't believe in . . . " when referring to them but I don't have a problem saying I don't care about them.

 

As you point out, it's in our sacred scriptural tradition so I "believe" something about it but I don't think this is the actual conversation you want us to have.  I think what you're trying to get us to admit is that these topics, predestination, hell, election, have some position of particular importance in our tradition and as Christians we need to have considered, specifically, these particular ideas which have been brought forward out of our communal religious narrative. I believe something about hell, but I reject the idea that the topic of hell has any relevance to my personal faith or the path I walk down with my family. I have thoughts about the Revelation, but they're not any more important to me than my thoughts about Micah or 1 Thessalonians. I don't think I would categorize my thoughts on any particular text as a "belief," but I understand that's a quibble that doesn't address your central premise. I can't speak for others, but I'm simply not going to let Barth, Grenz, Tilich, (or Clayton or Schleiermacher) or anyone else determine what "must" be of core importance and addressed directly in my theology. 

Kurt_S
Kurt_S

Thanks Bo! It has being quite a long time since I have even read these words aloud! I use to follow a theologian by the name of Baxter Kruger who's whole work was orientated towards a new understanding of these historical words.  I know in my own youth I found it extremely difficult to approach these topics just because of there history and the intimidation I felt from the people having these conversations that included these words. I really appreciate when you say that there is little value in participating in a community where one does not believe in the words of that faiths sacred text. As much as I struggle with my readings of scripture, I do believe what you say to be true. To engage significantly with the text is to do so on a holistic level, recognizing the significance of all its parts, not just the ones that affirm my intellectual beliefs.  I am still attempting to voice out my opinions on subjects such as these but am I on the same page?  

 

If so, I wonder how I or we might be better able to approach these words/topics in a communal setting that doesn't start in a place of anger or dis-belief?

 

Always appreciate what you have to say Bo, even when it hurts haha! 

Josephanfuso
Josephanfuso

Is there a reason you didn't add homosexuality to your list of things you "have to believe something about?" It's "in the Bible," too.

kenzlo
kenzlo

Great post. It is something that I haven't thought through that much. Some of these things I don't like about our faith are there no matter my opinion. What matters is how I believe in them. I think you gave very good examples. Particularly with predestination and election. I hadn't thought of them that way.

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

Great thoughts Bo. I'm with you that progressives can't slip too far into liberalism of the past. The creative spirit of the Bible is something we should attempt to engage and emulate, not throw away.

ngilmour
ngilmour

When you said this on the podcast, @Bo Sanders , I immediately thought, "Yes, I think that Lindbeck is rubbing off on him."  His distinction between doctrine (the system of vocabularies and symbols and narratives that constitute a faith tradition) and theology (the ongoing practice of interpreting doctrine for the sake of the faith community) is definitely at play here, and I agree with you that being part of the constellation of Christian traditions means dealing with the "raw materials" in some way.

 

I'll also say that the book of Revelation continues to be a locus for interesting discussion in my own forays into theology.  (I spend most of my time as a mild-mannered English professor, of course.)  What bugs me most is not the "I don't believe in Revelation" riff (which I've not actually encountered, which might be why it doesn't bother me) but the declarations "It's allegorical" and "I'm not a literalist," which seem to be shibboleths for a certain caste of liberal Christians who needn't be bothered with providing actual readings of the book.  I appreciate that this post at least points in the direction of a reading, one that I'd tweak to emphasize divine agency more than a process dude might but nonetheless one that I can recognize as a reading rather than a dodge. 

 

Or, since brevity is the soul of wit, I'll be brief and say, "Good show!"

joelkuhlin
joelkuhlin

When reading your text I am reminded of an interview with John Milbank where he claims that an Anglican priest have to believe in angels and demons, i.e. the whole shabang, but not all Christians! 

Would you go so far as to include the virgin birth, miracles etc in your thesis of what a Christian must believe?

Milbank

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

I notice you left off a scriptural reference for election (the specific term). For me and maybe for others, Barth doesn't cut it as a reference for something you're saying we all 'need' to believe something about. (Barth is replete with things I don't think I need to believe anything about one way or another). I'm curious where you go for election.

 

I also quibble - I mean, come on,  your post title invites it. There is a problem with saying: 'The Bible in English translation uses the word "predestination", so you have to believe something about predestination.' That is such a tremendously loaded word, and is not of course a Greek word (proorizo, right?), and 99% of Christians who actually have a Greek lexicon to refer to will have one written by people from a Christian point of view. But Paul regularly uses Greek words in ways that we can't find a lot of examples of outside the NT. To me there are important differences between "You need to deal with Romans 8:29 somehow, you can't just ignore it" and "You must believe something about predestination and election". Now, I'm not a Greek scholar - not even close - but simply in referencing "predestination" you are already, in my view, in danger of talking far more about Calvin than  you are about Paul. The door there is definitely open. Maybe 'proorizo' is really clear and I'm just spinning my wheels, but say "predestination" and we'll think of Calvin, and Paul certainly did not when he wrote it. That's a big issue.

 

Lastly (for now)...so I have to believe something about predestination. Am I allowed to believe: "Paul probably believed in some form of predestination, and he speculated that God predestined some to be Jesus-like and some not, and Paul was very likely incorrect." (Spoiler: that is what I believe, as of right now, about predestination) Do I have to first believe that Paul was channeling metaphysical truth, and then decide what to believe about predestination? Can we put predestination on the same shelf as some stuff Paul says about women, or his apparent understanding of slavery? Or his belief that there are three layers of heavens up above his head somewhere?

 

(I also note that your explanation of predestination makes predestination no longer meaningfully predestination. Predestination implies that one has the power to 'destin', to make something inevitably occur. Now that's a bit of a wiggle from a man claiming we all must believe something about predestination :)

 

Lastly-lastly, just to round things out - clearly ignoring Revelation is just being lazy :)

BoEberle
BoEberle

Like Zizek points out that most congregants just outsource their belief to the pastor who believes in all the orthodox teachings on their behalf because no one truly understands them in their own right, I'll just defer to the "pastoral" authority of the ultra liberal scholars like Borg and Crossan. I believe what they believe. Good enough? I'm no biblical scholar or confessional theologian!  ; ) 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @tom c I'm not only concerned with the historic liberal slide ... I am also addressing the new evangelical "Love Wins" readership who says simply "Yah, I don't believe in hell anymore."   My assertion is that you don't get to do that. It is lazy. Believe SOMETHING about it... anything at all ... but don't cheat folks in the culture who are listening in to a gutted and empty response. 

 

I like many many of your points.  I just had to clarify that one thing.  

 

also - I'm not sure about your epistemology thing. I'm not defending pre-modern epistomology (I'm not sure if this is what you were saying). I challenge it all the time. The sentence "Why should anyone think that all Christians have an epistemic responsibility concerning everything that is in the Bible?" threw me off ...  can you clarify that a little bit for me?   -Bo  

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @ChrisWick I was with you! ... until that last sentence.  Up till that point you were doing exactly the kind of thing I am hoping for and would love to be in dialogue with.  Great stuff. 

 

Then ... comes that last sentence. I just want to be clear: I never said "core" and I never said that Theologians get to determine what counts as that.   I disagree with both of those things strongly. 

What I DID say was that if it occurs in the English version of the bible then we should account for it at some level and not dismiss it outright.  That is my big point... and you were doing that! Until that last sentence ;)   -Bo   I loved your note though ! 

 

p.s. Barth is simply how I get out of that ONE pickle. Nothing more.  The text of scripture provides the 'centering' impulse for this. Not John Cobb (Faniac!) or even a denomination. 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @Kurt_S Thank you so much for writing!  I'm glad that you picked up on the "little value in participating in a community where one does not believe in the words of that faiths sacred text" line.  It is my favorite in the whole piece :) 

 

So here are my quick thoughts about framing up this constructive communal approach. 

1) Can we access what the writers meant in their historical context?  Don't get bogged down in the 3-tiered universe or greek metaphysics yet ... just what did the understand and what would they have meant by this. That is #1

 

2) Introduce some moderate but innovative approach like N.T. Wright's 'How can the Bible be Authoritative" http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Bible_Authoritative.htm which is how I got into this. 

 

3) Push as a group to say what it the farthest-out-thing we could believe about this and still be 'in bounds' ;p   Then sit with it.  See how it fits. Some will pull back. Some will grow comfortable. Others will acclimate and then say 'hey ... maybe this isn't the farthest out.' 

 

That's how I would (and have) start with a group dynamic.  -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @kellenfreeman Thanks!   Keep in mind, I probably believe stuff that many would classify as 'left leaning'  :)  my only point is that you have to believe something about these issues if your are going to be a Christian.  You don't have to believe in rote every article of Christian History (how would one?)  but it's not enough to say "I don't believe in that".  It has to be 'I don't hold to that theory' or 'that is not my understanding'.  

Glad you found this distinction helpful!  -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @pluralform Yep :)  RIght on the money!  -Bo  

 

of course, one of the best things that we can do is help those who are so passionate about 'knowing the Bible' while maybe not know as much 'about' the Bible, that it IS written with a creative spirit and imparts to us creative Spirit :)   

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @ngilmour  @Bo Sanders I am smiling ear to ear :)   Both paragraphs were right on. 

 

When your people say 'alegory' it is the same thing I was referencing - just a bit stronger. Lastly, if you and I were having a coffee together this morning, and you brought up divine agency ... as a person who came to this stuff after being charismatic - your going to have to bring some pretty good stuff to the table to get me to sign off on chucking that term around. I need to see something beside speculation and vocabulary !  (not saying this to you but just in general).

 

It seems to me that this God hasn't been seen around these parts in a while :)  -Bo  

 

p.s. This is the source of the only area of tension between Tripp and me. Tripp is saying to the philosophers 'there is a real God who really acts and is an actual ontological referent to our god-talk'.   I am saying to the charismatic 'there is no such thing as the super-natural. Knock it off.'  But the gap between us is small :) 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @joelkuhlin Good clarification!  I am NOT saying what Milbank is saying.  I don't believe IN angels and demons ... I'm saying that one has to believe something ABOUT them - since they are in the Bible. 

 

SO glad you asked this question!  That is a vital difference!  

 

and yes.  I have written on Angels and Demons here. I have dealt with the virgin birth. I am talked about miracles until I am blue-in-the-face :)   Here is an example of my empassioned pleas to get rid of the 'super-natural' so that there can once again be room for the miraculous. .. an actual term from scripture - unlike 'super-natural'. 

http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2011/12/19/making-sense-of-miracles/

 

Thanks again for writing in.  I would love to continue this convo!   -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @DouglasHagler Thank you for the amazing note!  I just want to clarify something first: I did not said that you had to believe what Barth says. It was int he section called 'so how do "I" do it",   It was not in the 'you have to believe something' section.  I think that is important. 

 

And pay not attention to the fact that I do not quote Barth is any other area of my theological endeavors. I usually preface every every reference to Barth with 'even Karl Barth..." and kind of a - don't think this is 'too wild' Mr. Conservative - even Karl Barth ..." 

 

And yes: it would have been far more accurate to entitle the post "You have to account for or address Romans 8:29 is some way" :)   - which is, in the end, what I am saying. You got me. 

 

And no: I don't think that what you did with Paul's 'mistaken view' of predestination counts as what I'm calling for ;p   That would be the exact thing I'm trying to steer away from!

 

Thanks again for the fantastic note. -Bo  

p.s. I just focused on the use of English as a populist theologian in this case not as a pastoral one. But you make a great point! 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @BoEberle Now, one place where I would contest Zizek's claim - and I'm not sure how long Zizek has been in pastoral ministry ;) - is how it actually functions at actual churches.  He is of course correct about that at fundamentalist-conservative-and many evangelical/charismatic churches... except that the people often believe as much or more than the pastor!

and in many other traditions and denominations, the pastor may have had training or access to very good scholarship but it is her/his people that are so intent on straight forward-elementary readings.  

 

So in the end, Bo East, I'm gunna go with 'no'  - IMHO that is not enough :) -Bo West 

tom c
tom c

 @BoSanders Thanks for your reply. What I mean by "epistemic responsibility" is the idea that people have duties regarding the forming or revising of their beliefs. It's an idea that emerged explicitly in late 19th century philosophy (e.g. Clifford's essay "The Ethics of Belief") but to some extent is implied in any philosophical study of the difference between belief and knowledge and how to get from the former to the latter. So, when thinking of epistemic responsibility, I think of what our "ought's" and "should's" are when it comes to our intellectual life. I read your remarks as indicating an epistemic duty that all Christians have regarding the entirety of the contents of the Bible (i.e. some belief regarding everything in it).

ChrisWick
ChrisWick

 @BoSanders  @ChrisWick You're right about the last sentence, I left it as is because I thought my post was already getting too long even though I knew it didn't belong. Your honor, please strike it from the record!

 

I think what I was trying to address with that last bit was the idea that, simply because something is in Scripture, we need to have an articulated (or articulate-able) belief about it. While this is probably true, I think the reason that you called out election, predestination, hell, and Revelation is because theologians throughout the centuries have told us that these topics are important and must be part of our pursuit of a systematic theology. In some way, it seems that we have given away the authority to read Scripture and study tradition in order to determine for ourselves which elements are necessary and sufficient for us to craft a theological credo that holds water. 

 

Revelation has nothing to do with my eschatological beliefs and is of only passing interest to me as an historical work - why must I have a belief associated with it; simply because it's an integral part of the history of systematic theology? To be clear, I think we're on the same page I just wanted to explain what made me leap to that last sentence and what I really meant to add by including it.

 

I totally grok what you say about having to "account for it at some level and not dismiss it outright" if it appears in our English bible but I think it might have been worth adding some items to the list that aren't hot button topics or chapters of a theology text. I'd expand what you said and say we must account for the cursing of fig trees, the possession of swine by demons, the healing of a Centurion's boy, the repudiation of the Syrophoenician woman, the slaughter of <insert city> by Jacob, and a million other things that are in our Scripture. I would never say I don't believe in any of these things (which, I gather, sort of means I wasn't the target audience for this post) but most of them hold rather trifling positions in and little implication to the framework of my theology.

 

I think the responsibility lies on us as theologians to have a credo that is robust enough that we never have to say, "I don't believe in . . ." but instead gives us the ability to sit down and think (talk) creatively about God with others. I'd go so far as to say that this should extend to all Holy Scripture whether it comes from a Christian, Judaic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other faith tradition. Pick a random story out of Chronicles or out of the Bhagavad Gita and ask me what I believe about it and I'll probably have the same initial response, "Not much at all, tell me what it means to you?" 

ngilmour
ngilmour

 @BoSanders  @Bo Sanders Again, Bo, don't apologize--we're sparring, and I can take a punch! ;)

 

When I write about divine agency, I have in mind the Christological and the eschatological mainly, but you're right that I would hold that "There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamed of in your philosophy." :)  I prioritize things thus for a few reasons:

1) The main "places" I see divine agency being important are not in my own individual story but in the grand narrative that lays claim on me.  So I'd want to say that YHWH acts in the creation and the Exodus and the return from Babylonian exile and in other such defining moments for the faith.  I'd also want to say that the incarnation is an act of God, though I don't want to turn this into a virgin-birth thread, so I'll leave that one there.

 

Beyond those things, I'd say that the apocalyptic vision at the core of the New Testament invites readers to imagine a grand world-story (I'm reluctant to call it a metanarrative, but I don't want to turn this into a Lyotard thread) in which God assures the faithful with a vision of eternal life that will come to consummation.  To say that my own comings and goings are up for grabs is fine and Boethian; to subject the eschaton to the same winds of Fortuna loses, I think, the heart of the gospel of the Kingdom.  To do otherwise, in my view, is to trade a God who is to be feared for a God who is to be pitied, the moral voice to whom nobody listens and who must be rescued by the powerful among men.  (Gender reference intentional there.) 

 

I'm far more inclined to see the NT as a world-story in which the role of the faithful is to bear witness, in word and in visible love, but not to "make things happen."  I realize that big hunks of Christendom would label that stance "irresponsible," but I'd maintain that the difference there has more to do with differing conceptions of the responsibility of the faithful and less to do with the moral failings of one side or the other.  If one conception of the faithful's "responsibility" is right, then the other is wrong, and that's why I think it's quite important for us to keep making the cases for the respective camps--God willing, the folks in the wrong will realize it at some point!

 

2) As a non-Pentecostal who's a professor at a Pentecostal college, I imagine I'm almost as vehement as you are with regards to opposing a sensibility that holds acts of God as divine responses to pious stimuli rather than undetermined and unpredictable (in other words free) acts.  I much prefer the rich theology of Daniel 3:17-18, in which the young Hebrew men say that YHWH might deliver them from the fire, but even if YHWH doesn't, they will not bow down.  (I initially wrote "back down," which shows just how often rock and roll gets into my theology.)  So we're both bothered by the same peccadillos there, man.

 

3) As one response to your P.S., I know well that you and Tripp differ on that point.  I'm inclined to start from a medieval rather than an Enlightenment concept of natura ("those powers proper to a class of beings" rather than "that which happens in the actual world"), so to say that a moment is "supernatural," in my mind, is to say that God gives a mortal (perhaps an Isaiah, perhaps a John of Patmos) the momentary super-natural gift of seeing what humans, by nature, cannot see.  I'm far less inclined to say that a semeion is supernatural and more inclined to say that such sign-giving is precisely in the nature of God.  Again, to my mind, that God does not always give such a sign when asked is a testimony to the freedom of God, not to any sort of materialism. 

 

4) As a second response to your P.S. I think it's great that you and Tripp agree on so many things, and I think that's one strong feature of TNT--you two can play off of and build upon one another's points to demonstrate how theology can work in real-time.  I think that we CHP hosts offer a different service, namely showing that a conservative Calvinist and an existentialist Barthian and a wannabe Radical Orthodox Anabaptist (I'll let you guess which of us is which) can keep disagreeing with each other without taking our respective toys and going home.  Again, that's why I keep listening to one show and recording the other. :)

 

Wow, that was a long comment.  Sorry I'm so windy.

Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat

 @BoSanders  @joelkuhlin Bo, I am not sure that you are really clarifying things. Your title says "You have to believe "IN" Hell, Predestination, Election and the Book of Revelation". Now you are saying that you have to believe something "ABOUT" them. Saying that you don't believe in them is saying how you relate to a specific ideology or Biblical reality. It is saying what you think about them.

 

For instance, in this post you just said "I don't believe in angels and demons.." Aren't the people that you are criticizing doing just the same thing? These same people are not denying that these things are in the Bible, they are denying the truth of them in our current reality, which is exactly what you are doing. 

 

I think a healthier approach lies in Brueggemann's interview, where he talks about an untamed Bible that needs to be dialogically understood. In the same way I think that all of the above needs to be weighed in tension and understood in the context of the chorus of narratives that make up creation. I think this is the heart of what you are saying, and I feel like this potentially might be missed because of the focus of what you are or are not believing in or about.

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

 @BoSanders Re: populist theology, that's what I figured.

 

So, what is it you're saying? Because from my point of view, I am doing exactly what you are calling for, just probably not in a way you'd want. What is it that I have to do - do I have to take anything Paul wrote as from God? Is legit to take it as 'just' written by Paul (which is what I do right now)? What about saying 'Paul was wrong on this one' is not accounting for Romans 8:29 in some way?

 

It sounds like, if I may say so, there is a thing behind your thing.

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

 @BoSanders  @BoEberle Detour: this is an interesting issue, given that when clergy are polled, they almost invariably report less "faith"/"orthodoxy" than their congregants when they are in turn polled. So is it possible that congregants are outsourcing their beliefs to what is in effect their own projection of what those beliefs should be?

 

So, in a context where for many, merely holding a certain notion can mean eternal redemption or damnation, is (almost) no one talking about the notions they actually hold?

 

Wouldn't it be scarier and better and more interesting if clergy were all more honest?

 

(Says the unemployed clergyperson.)

ngilmour
ngilmour

 @BoSanders  @BoEberle I don't know that your sociological distinction holds up, Bo West.  At least in online encounters, I've seen far more appeals to authority, citing "Biblical scholarship" as if it were a monolith, from liberals than from right-wingers.  In my own experience, the conservatives are much more interested in seeing the argument worked out than in "experts say that..." claims.

ngilmour
ngilmour

 @DavidThePirate You're free to say that this is inadequate, but I'm inclined to modify slightly what Luther writes in "On the Freedom of a Christian" and say that God's freedom from dependence on mortals means that we're free to think of our neighbor's welfare rather than God's. So we take care of the poor and the planet and such not because if we don't God is going to suffer but because if we do, our neighbor will benefit.

 

When I said that my own comings and goings are up for grabs, I mean that I want to assert two things at the same time:

1) My own life is subject to Fortuna, the unpredictable and unreliable flux of events that leaves the wicked in good places (sometimes) and the righteous in the pits (sometimes). In other words, the promises of God might well be deferred beyond the span of my own days walking about and breathing air.

2) The history of the world, taken at large, will ultimately vindicate the righteousness of Christ and result in the deliverance of the world.  If the span of my own days does not vindicate God's goodness, the grand finale of creation will.

 

I know that such a schema is likely too disjointed for many, and my own Enlightenment-trained ear balks as well.  But as far as I can tell from a couple decades teaching the Bible, that's where the complex witness of those texts points.

DavidThePirate
DavidThePirate

 @ngilmour I get this objection. You can say that an understanding of divine agency that places great emphasis on people's willingness to act inevitably leads to people to forcefully seize power — through a vote, crusade or other violent means. I also frequently see the problem on the opposite side, though, where God's work is so utterly independent of human action, that the most "faithful" thing believers can do is to completely use up and destroy the Earth, knowing that God can/will act independently to recreate all things. To say the former view equates God's work simply to the action of a human is just as risky as saying the former means people have no duty to act responsibly. The immense human capacity for evil must be accounted for regardless.

 

What I intended to get at, though, was that if we agree that YHWH does act — whether through persuasive partnerships or a more deterministic control — that action is translated through the created order of things. If EVERYONE can say "my own comings and goings are up for grabs" then what channel is the divine will absolutely guaranteed to be manifest through in the future?

ngilmour
ngilmour

 @DavidThePirate If God is basically an agent with the same degree of capacity to effect change that a human being has, or if God actually has less such capacity, then your objection makes sense.  However, the picture that I see when I'm reading around in the NT is one in which God as an agent has much more capacity so that justice/righteousness/dikaiosyne is something that God can promise in good faith, where the promises of benefaction on the parts of those who "lord it over" are at best overreaches and at worst outright lies.  

 

Ethically, the danger I see is that, if God is incapable of bringing about justice/righteousness/dikaiosyne, then mortals have more impetus to seize power and "make things happen" in the name of God.  I see that mentality not only in obvious places like Urban II's Crusade sermon but also in people's calls to rally 51% of a popular vote so that 49% of a place's population have to live in OUR world.  In both cases, I'd much prefer a picture of things in which God's justice/righteousness/dikaiosyne is something to which we invite people but never attempt to force on the world.  But if there's no God who's eventually going to bring that about, then someone's got to, more than likely someone with a gun.

DavidThePirate
DavidThePirate

 @ngilmour  This conversation on divine agency is something I've been going back and forth on for the past year or so. One of your comments nailed the initial dilemma that upset my previously tightly knit and delicately balanced theology of freedom, providence, and evil.

 

"To say that my own comings and goings are up for grabs is fine and Boethian; to subject the eschaton to the same winds of Fortuna loses, I think, the heart of the gospel of the Kingdom."

 

This distinction between an individual's freedom to act against divine will, without upsetting the larger winds of history, seems false to me. Isn't history, the eschaton, and the fruition of God's Commonwealth bound up with the many, many, many choices that, in sum, make up the "comings and goings" of all humanity, or all life? How can I say that I have freedom, but the rest of creation does not?

Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat

 @BoSanders Thanks for your clarifications and for recognizing my intentions.

The reason I slathered Brueggemann was because I had heard Tripp in his latest interview talking about similar things in regards to texts reflecting the character of God. And Brueggemann was clear in carefully laying out his intentions to not write off difficult texts as human projections as much as calling the texts we like as divinely inspired. He continued on in the interview to describe a disputational way to approach the Bible. From what I took from the interview the approach was a framework for working out the narratives of scripture in a healthy way.

You said that you would hesitate to slather this approach over every issue. Off the top of my head I am not aware of any other approaches that would be helpful in addressing the Bible in general. If you got any let me know.

The other thing that is in the back of my mind is mr Rollins, and the word "believe". Thinking about the way we live, our actions, needs to be apart of this discussion as well. Pistis has a lot more to it than mental ascent.

I read your Demon's post and it seems to me that your actions do communicate what you say you think too (i.e. your doors and windows approach) 

 

ps. I feel like your other title - "You have to do something with Romans 8:29"  and feel it agrees with the content of your well written post. 

 

Love how you guys are provoking discussion and dialogue! Keep the brew coming!!

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @Mountain Goat  Hmmmmm - while I agree and affirm many things that you stated in your comment, I am slightly thrown off by two things you used to frame it initially:

1) Don't get distracted by the title. As I have already admitted to someone who would have preffered the post be called "You have to do something with Romans 8:29" ... the title is to draw attention - the content in the body of the post. 

2) I did not say the angels comment 'in the post' it was in a comment about another author.  I believe something about demons. I have even said that 'in demons' in the post "Dealing with Demons - a progressive take"  http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2012/06/04/dealing-with-demons-a-progressive-take/ 

 

Having said all that - I get what you are saying (and agree with much of the intent), BUT I would hesitate to slather Brueggemann's disputational approach over every issue.  

 

I have accounted for demons. I believe in demons. I just don't believe what those in 1st apparently did nor what those who practice 'spiritual warfare' do.  It's not the same.  I would object as strenuously if someone said "I don't believe in demons." I would say "You have to believe SOMEthing about them. Jesus did."  ;p 

 

-Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @DouglasHagler My affirming comment was to the 'against' post.  not the long one. 

 

I hate that responses are not attached to their parent comment.  BOOOOOO Livefyre 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @DouglasHagler You make an excellent series of points here.  But I just needed you to make it (and not me)  ;p  -Bo 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @danhauge  @DouglasHagler  Yah ... I think you nailed it Dan.  In fact, as I was driving (since my last response) and I was gunna offer up something very similar.  So here are my quick thoughts!  (thanks for sticking with the convo by the way) 

 

1) I should be more clear why I would not say "Paul was wrong" about say women's head coverings.  It would be like saying Casey Up To Bat was wrong.  It just doesn't fit as a sentence. 

 

2) I am all about evolving interpretations and emergent hermeneutics. In fact, most days of the week I am getting in trouble for updating translations. It is kinda fun to be the conservative for a day :)

 

3) It's not anachronistic because I am not asking Paul to think about gender what we do. He didn't know what we know. That doesn't make him wrong. He really believed that. I look at it as a snapshot developmentally. 

 

4) This is our funny divergence: you say "I would say the text itself is still tied to authorial intent (and maybe this is where we would most disagree)-- to which I would say YES!!!! 

BUT THEN .... you take a sharp left where I take a sharp right when you say"  so we can still call the text itself "wrong" while acknowledging that our theological understanding of the point at issue has 'evolved'.  

I literally laughed out loud in surprise!  I thought it was SU funny that our last sentences would be so different when everything up to that point was nearly parallel :)

 

thanks for helping think through some of my approach and it's implications  -Bo   

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

 @BoSanders I would also say, much more briefly (I'm wordy today), that there is no reason whatsoever that people (you and I) cannot be formed BY reacting AGAINST. If you read Job, you are reading the record of a community that was being formed BY reading AGAINST the utterly opposed theology, also found throughout scripture, that says "God rewards the just and punishes the unjust." Jesus formed his Disciples BY reacting AGAINST various aspects of Temple Judaism and Roman Empire. And on and on. In fact, I'd hazard to say that the majority of the Bible is people being formed BY reacting AGAINST :)

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

 @BoSanders Ok, I read the post to which you linked (re-read it, that is, since I remember reading it the first time) and my thought in response is that you might be confusing uses of the Bible. On the one hand, there is looking in the Bible for specific truths - God predestined X, or Paul wrote Y, etc. Assertions that authors of books of the Bible make that might or might not be true in the common sense of true. Ex: God commanded genocide against the Amorites. Jesus said to love your neighbor. The apostle Mark that Paul mentions wrote the Gospel of Mark. And so on.

 

On the other hand is the devotional function of the Bible, and in my view, this may or may not depend on how we decide on claims that the Bible contains. Paul can be wrong about something, and the Bible can still function devotionally. Ex: sometimes my wife is wrong, but being devoted to her is still a good and meaningful thing for me. It is a relationship, but not primarily a relationship with doctrines or terminology or even metaphysical truth-claims. It has to be more.

 

My devotional use of Paul being wrong might be as follows (I'm just making this up now): In Paul's context, he had to deal with hard truths. Christians being imprisoned, beaten, tortured and executed. The Gospel message(s) spreading, but sometimes frustratingly slowly. He had to balance this with his trust that God controls what happens and that God had to know all of this would come about. So Paul decided that God knew the future, and chose that some people would be redeemed to be more like Christ and others not. So people rejecting the Gospel(s) isn't them failing God - it might just be that some will listen and some not. Dust off your feet and move on to the next town, etc. Others are destined to hear, regardless of evangelical skills. It's God's work, and we can trust that. Awesome.

 

I don't believe that God controls events, because I can't make sense of that metaphysically, morally, theologically or scientifically. I also face some problems Paul did, and have similar questions. The devotional point is: how do I deal with those questions, with the resources that I have now? I can read with Paul or against Paul. I can use him as a resource in an infinite variety of ways.

 

See, for me, there is nothing devotional about just absorbing an interpretation and then reiterating it. The devotional aspect is you get in there and you do the work. The Bible doesn't resolve struggles, it elucidates them in excruciating (pun intended) detail, precisely because it is a record of our ancestors struggles. But it is not a replacement for our own work, and it is not a list of bullet-points to which we give cognitive assent.

 

So Paul can be wrong - on the three floaty realms, on women's head-gear and authority, etc., and I can say that because I struggled with those questions and that's where I ended up (granted, I haven't struggled with those particulars in a long time). Paul can be a resource whether he wrote the letters or not. Paul can be wrong and it doesn't impact whether I have a devotional engagement with the text, because devotion isn't "Where are the answers in this book?", devotion is "Welcome to the dojo." or "Welcome to the table."

danhauge
danhauge

 @BoSanders  @DouglasHagler Well, I guess I find myself scratching my head at the way you are framing the issue, so it's possible we might just be at an impasse in how we understand the frame.

 

I'll also say that I'd like to apologize a bit for the punchy tone of the language, as I re-read my own post it sounds a bit more accusatory than I would like, so that was kind of lazy writing.

 

BUT--I still don't completely get the way you are framing this. You say that you agree with me on how to understand the head coverings issue--but if that is true, then it is fully possible in principle to say "Paul was wrong" about something. Changing the issue (to hell, for example) doesn't change the principle. It seems like you do allow for Paul being wrong on some things, but not more central questions (like hell)--do I get that distinction correct?

 

Then I'll look at your last main point:  " I am not trying to make first century authors say things that we believe in the 21st. That would be anachronistic. I am simply accounting for what they DID believe in the 1st and how that might be translated or accounted for in the 21st.  That, as I understand it, is not anachronistic. "

 

I think I agree with this, mostly: this process of translating and accounting for the 21st century is all well and good--but I would argue that this theological process of translating concepts is still very compatible with saying that certain texts are "wrong" in how they understood the issue. When I referred to 'evolution' I referred to how we understand an issue (like gender), and that will change, but I would say the text itself is still tied to authorial intent (and maybe this is where we would most disagree)--so we can still call the text itself "wrong" while acknowledging that our theological understanding of the point at issue has 'evolved'

 

Maybe we just hear the word "wrong" in different ways?

 

Anyway, thanks for your response--also respectfully,

 

dan

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @danhauge  @DouglasHagler I OBJECT! I strenuously disagree with the entire way that you have introduced and framed your critique. 

First: yes. I am not going to say that the Bible was wrong. I can say about such things as women wearing head coverings exactly what you say. That is not the same as saying "I don't believe in hell."  Or Paul was wrong. Those are not the same.

 

Second: you can't accuse me of unnecessarily complicated & anachronistic readings and then say that 'Paul is wrong' it is a more direct and historically honest way. 

 

You also implied that I make scripture say something different than what it really said BUT THEN go on to do that very thing and call it 'evolution'. I object to the whole way that this is structured. It is convoluted. 

 

So lets start again:  I am not trying to make first century authors say things that we believe in the 21st. That would be anachronistic. I am simply accounting for what they DID believe in the 1st and how that might be translated or accounted for in the 21st.  That, as I understand it, is not anachronistic. 

 

I like many things that you said in your comment - and agree with the positive things you said about scripture wholeheartedly.  I am suspicious that we are not that far apart on scripture - but your framing of the critique has distracted me. respectfully -Bo 

danhauge
danhauge

 @BoSanders  @DouglasHagler To correct myself: I do believe that better readings of Scripture are often more complex and nuanced, and that we can lose the richness of Scripture by not going deeper, and better understanding the historical and narrative context. So I'm down with that. 

 

But I still think that sometimes we try so hard to give a reading that works with contemporary theology that we end up being anachronistic, loosing the text from its historical moorings and thinking (hoping) that first century authors may have meant something more like what 21st century theologians would want to say.

danhauge
danhauge

 @BoSanders  @DouglasHagler I would suggest, Bo, that it is your personal discomfort in saying 'the Bible is wrong' that pushes you toward unnecessarily complicated accounts of how Scripture might really be saying something different than what it actually says, if we just frame it in a nuanced and complicated enough way. So some of your 'third way' readings end up being theologically very interesting, but historically anachronistic. Whereas people who are willing to say 'this didn't really happen' or 'Paul got this one wrong' are actually just expressing theology that you in fact agree with, just in a more direct and historically honest way.

 

For example, It is possible to say "Paul thought women should wear head coverings for reasons we just don't buy anymore", and still be offering a constructive theology (if not, perhaps, a constructive reading of 1 Corinthians 11), because we can say that our view of gender and tradition actually has evolved over time, that the Spirit could well be an instigator in that evolution, and that the nature of Scripture is such that we are invited to say "this is an incomplete understanding of God" while still respecting the process of receiving God's revelation that Scripture recounts. That is a way of saying 'Paul was wrong' from our standards of what we understand about God, but still offering a constructive theology.

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @DouglasHagler  I am just not comfortable saying that 'the Bible is wrong'.  It is this, then, that forms my 'thing behind the thing' that you are sensing. 

Here is a post where I try to read the Bible this tricky 3rd way: http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2012/03/01/reading-the-bible-that-tricky-3rd-way/

In that post I say "those who spend the most time with the Bible know less about it but make greater claims for it than those who do more scholarship on it but may have little faith in it."

 

What if instead of saying 'Paul was wrong on this' you presented a constructive interpretation / alternative framed in the positive to give people something to be formed BY and not just AGAINST ?  

 

I think that is what I am asking for.   -Bo 

DouglasHagler
DouglasHagler

 @BoSanders  @DouglasHagler  @BoEberle I think it would be cool to form a secret society where we meet in dimly lit backrooms and abandoned buildings to whisper truths too terrible to say aloud as clergy.

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @BoEberle  I read your comment this morning (that starts "so the reason I mentioned the whole Zizek")  and I have given in most of the day to see if I changed my mind ... but I have not so I will respond :)

 

I think you may making a mountain out of a mole hill. - I am also not sure how far apart we really are here. Maybe we are very far... 

 

First off - I am not putting you in a corner by asserting that people who self-identify as Christian need to believe something about the stuff Bible :) 

 

Second - believing that they are poetic illusions, or symbols that stand for something else IS addressing them (at least initially). 

 

Third -  just because you got burned coming out of the same background I did, doesn't mean that you can just say "Borg" when asked about a Bible passage :p that is exACTLY what I am saying that we can not do. 

 

Lastly - Zizek is fun. It is fun to play with words and ideas. I like Zizek. I quote Zizek.  But what I am asserting here is that there needs to be a constructive presentation of the elements of scripture if we are to hope for a people formed into a community that both participates in the tradition and holds some continuity with the faith.

 

Yes, I sound a little like Lindbeck and MacIntryre here ...  but I am really comfortable with this assertion. 

 

Respectfully and lovingly  -BoDaddy 

BoEberle
BoEberle

 @ngilmour  @BoSanders Right, but I think it's more akin to liberal/secular institutions represent external, "objective" reason which liberals (modernly) put their trust in (the analog is the Catholic church) and conservative Protestants insist on having their own private reason-faith. Liberty is an exception in that it seems to reflect the former with its own internal logic etc. I dont think that conservatives are inclined towards sapere aude, as you say, because they don't "dare" to acknowledge reason outside the bounds of confessional theology and the church. They insis on doing things themselves, i.e. starting from within their own ideological framework, which leads them in circles. It's not about "knowing," there is nothing the conservatives are off learning and risking that liberals are not because, I would argue, they are in a bubble. Sometimes they get a finger or toe outside the bubble (radical orthodoxy perhaps) but that hardly amounts to progress.  

ngilmour
ngilmour

 @BoEberle  @BoSanders Certainly, Bo-East, I wouldn't deny that conservatives can arrive at some goofy places with their own devices.  My point was only that there's more confidence in their own devices.  Against my own intuitions, it seems to be the conservatives who are more inclined towards sapere aude when it comes to theology.

 

Also, I think that liberals can be just as skeptical of Ph.D-granting institutions just as easily as conservatives can.  Want a Rorshach test on that?  "Bill Williams, who earned his Ph.D in theology from Liberty University..." :)

BoEberle
BoEberle

 @BoSanders  @ngilmour Also more to Nate's point about liberals appealing to authority while conservatives "like to see the argument." In one sense, conservatives are more postmoder, or I would claim radically protestant, than liberals. The Reformation privatized faith, became anti-instiutional (like postmodernism) and even became hostile to reason against revelation, faith etc (Luther, Calvin, Barth...) So when conservatives want to "work out the argument" or see it for themselves, I think there is something interesting going on.

 

"Reason" is privatized much like faith, i.e. rationality is a personal matter because it is really a form of faith (because conservatives correlate the two, hence apologetics). Liberals, on the other hand, are not radically skeptical of institutions that grant PhDs to experts in subjects, for example, and do not take reason as a private matter (and are less likely to accept "reasonable" arguments for things like Creationism) but still, like conservatives, place their "faith" is a kind of reason but are reticent to speak outside of their purview. Conservatives and liberals both like reason, but the former, I argue, based on a radicalized protestant understanding of faith, does not accept the authority of reason in the form of experts because it is, for them, akin to a Priest or the Pope intervening in their faith. The downside of this is that liberals are much less engaged in these issues (tragically) and are less likely to have informed, worked out positions. They are more "Catholic" in the sense that others can believe for them. Conservatives place faith in their own ability to reason, and as normal non-experts (not by virtue of being conservative) bad arguments and positions can bound which undergird their ideology that is threatened by real scholarship. Hence conservatives are a kind of unconscious postmodern relativist. Just thinking out loud here, surely it is more nuanced than I allowed ...

BoEberle
BoEberle

 @BoSanders  @ngilmour So the reason I mentioned the whole Zizek 'belief on behalf of' thing is this: I feel as if Bo (daddy/west) is trying to put me in a corner. While I agree it's important for positions on these issues to exist (somewhere) I tongue in cheek defer to Dom Crossan because this isn't how I conceive of Christianity in the first place. I don't see Christianity (or religion in general) to be composed to doctrines i.e. propositional statements that are to be affirmed or denied. If you want to play that game (I'm obviously not a pastor, and I am not trivializing it) I respect you... there are lots of great theologians who do the scripture, heaven, hell, revelation thing well. Those just aren't categories relevant to my idea of religion. Essentially, just by telling me I HAVE to have a position on scripture, even if it is a "low" view, I should defend that position, etc, I think starts with the premise of the importance of a certain set of issues. Bo is defining and limiting the conversation before it even starts. This might be how you have to do it out there in the "real world" (god bless all of you), but I'm just not interested in these topics because I dealt with them so much when I was still in the conservative evangelical world I don't think I have to let those same issues define the conversation now. My constructive projects have not to do with the content of these types of positions, but even more so about why they exist in the first place and draw our attention and hostility. Therefore, if pressed, sure, I'll say go read Marcus Borg if you MUST know what to think about these things, but I think the discourse might be a bit superficial if that's the extent of our theology (and Bo did not imply this) but I am sensitive to how the conversation is defined from the start. Bo wants to say we must have a position on these issues, but I want to have a position on these kind of issues on the whole, i.e. they stand for something else, they ideological in nature, etc. I don't think that position is even on the spectrum of say universalism/eternal conscious torment. It's another conversation that doesnt always take theology on its own terms. Another Zizekism, "we only feel free because we lack the language to articulate our unfreedom..." I wonder if these age old protestant argument keep us from thinking about truly novel and revolutionary Christianity? If we say "THESE" are the issues from the get go, aren't we playing the game of our opponents? Or maybe they're still important to us. I don't know! Cheers! 

BoSanders
BoSanders moderator

 @ngilmour  @BoEberle Probably a good distinction and one that I have certainly seen as well.   There actually is a whole conversation to be had on this ... in fact, I can tell you that this very subject is the exact reason that I did not attend a PhD at one school I had been accepted to for this very issue.  Maybe I'll write that up for tomorrow :) 

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