Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

I’d like to share a brief thought on an issue that comes up with surprising frequency. Very often, when discussing the Bible’s teachings with others, I am told that I am going about it the wrong way by trying to understand what the Bible says using my reasoning. There are many variations on this theme:

  • You can’t understand the Bible with your intellect because the Bible is spiritual.
  • You can’t understand the Bible using reason because God is beyond reason.
  • You can’t understand the Bible on your own because you need ______________ (our church, our bishops, the magisterium, a living prophet, additional scripture, the priesthood, a burning in the bosom, revelation from the Holy Spirit, our organization, our literature, etc.).

You get the idea. Suffice it to say, I’m doing it all wrong. Or so I’m told. We’re talking about the Bible, I make some point about what it’s saying in context or some such thing, and all of a sudden a penalty flag is on the field. The ref announces “Offside!” and the ball is taken by the other team. (I almost never use football analogies, so that one’s for my friends in Alabama.) Read the rest of this entry »

Books have an enormous power to shape the way we think and in turn the way we live. Obviously, as a Christian, the books of the Bible are for me both foundational and transformative. Other books, though not inspired or authoritative, have helped me to think about the Bible, its teachings, and its truth claims. I present here a list of books by fifteen different authors. I make no claims here about these being the greatest or most important books of their kind, although in some cases I think this assessment might apply. They happen to have been especially formative for me, either in kindling interest in a certain subject or in reorienting my way of thinking about a subject. I have listed them in roughly the order in which I read them, though my recollection in this regard may not always be correct. Read the rest of this entry »

In an essay on BeliefNet entitled “How I Went from There to Here: Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue,” Tony Jones explains why as a Christian (of an “emergent” point of view) he has come to defend publicly the rights of gay people to get married. There are several legitimate approaches from which one might critique Jones’s piece (biblical, theological, political, etc.), but I will focus in this post on the logical fallacies of his arguments. I am putting the focus on logic here because it turns out that these fallacies are extremely common in polemics defending same-sex relations in general and same-sex marriage in particular. I am also starting with a logical critique because, frankly, I am tired of defenders of same-sex marriage claiming that their opponents have no response other than to quote the same Bible verses over and over.

Early in his essay, Jones manages to commit three logical fallacies in one sentence (one of which is repeated twice in the following sentence). Read the rest of this entry »