Slippery Slopes

Since writing this post about how Christians are accused of resorting to the slippery slope fallacy when arguing against homosexuality, I’ve wanted to post some examples about what actual slippery slopes look like. I finally got the gumption to seek out a certain ad campaign that made a meme out of slippery slope arguments, which turned out to be by DirectTV.

Just as a reminder, the Fallacy Files defines the slippery slope in this way:

If A happens, then by a gradual series of small steps through B, C,…, X, Y, eventually Z will happen, too.
Z should not happen.
Therefore, A should not happen, either.

The Fallacy Files also has this to say about the slippery slope:

This type of argument is by no means invariably fallacious, but the strength of the argument is inversely proportional to the number of steps between A and Z, and directly proportional to the causal strength of the connections between adjacent steps. If there are many intervening steps, and the causal connections between them are weak, or even unknown, then the resulting argument will be very weak, if not downright fallacious.

As you can see, the commercials lampoon slippery slope arguments by having many steps with weak causal connections between them, making them “very weak, if not downright fallacious.”

On the other hand, the case for polygamy – which Christians are mocked as appealing to the slippery slope for even bringing up – sits on entirely the same ground as that of “gay marriage,” as proven by the favorable decision granted to the Brown family of Utah (of Sister Wives fame). Their argument “relied primarily on the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the Texas law banning sodomy, which was celebrated by gay rights advocates.”

All this is just to say: do not be cowed into silence by the slippery slope accusation. Know your fallacies, and be ready to explain to others why this argument is not a fallacious slippery slope.

Posted in Critical Thinking/Discernment | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Is Scriptural Interpretation Possible?

Just a brief note on the canard I’ve heard a lot this week that “there are just so many different interpretations of Scripture” (and therefore it can’t be held up as authoritative, even in discussions amongst Christians).

  1. What is it about the existence of a plurality of interpretations for a text that rules out the existence of one correct interpretation? Or even one that is discernible by human minds?
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  2. By way of analogy, if my wife writes me a note to tell me that “we need milk from the store,” and I interpret that to mean I should pick up eggs instead (regardless of how I come to this interpretation of what are clear words on the page), does that render the original meaning lost or void?
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  3. If not, how many additional, varying interpretations would I need to get on the note before I would be able to come home to my wife empty-handed and reasonably explain that her note was indecipherable? Five? Fifty? Fifty-thousand? What is the magic number? Can I get out of the doghouse by pleading that her note was not that clear – after all, so many people disagreed on what it meant?

I was told that “You can’t base faith on scripture alone, relationship is key and we have to be open to learning from others and what it means to them or we will never truly understand what love was meant to be.”

  1. If, as is alleged, everyone has a different interpretation of Scripture, and this means that Scripture lacks the ability to have an authoritative voice, why is it that the shifting opinions of the masses on what relationship and love are has more weight? Is this not just as, if not more subjective?
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  2. Or is it that, far from being opposed, subjectivity is the sanctuary of the liberal Christian, as it gives shelter to any departures from orthodoxy by granting a sanctified and unassailable higher ground status to whatever are the current trends in cultural thought?
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  3. And if so, then the attack on the authority of Scripture is not that it is unclear (as they will say), but that it is too clear. It cuts against the cultural grain, and must be watered down to the point where its voice is no more authoritative than whoever is interpreting it at any given time. In this way, its voice becomes synonymous with that of the cultural cacophony, and the democratic tyranny of the masses takes its place as what we should harken to and align our minds with.
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  4. Though the refrain is heard loudly that Scripture should be abandoned in favor of “following Jesus,” it must be pointed out that this Jesus said that His words will never pass away. Apparently that promise only applies to the words themselves, not their understanding.
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  5. And if we cannot treat Scripture as authoritative due to (ostensibly) everyone having their own interpretation of the texts, then it certainly isn’t an authoritative source on Jesus either. Ergo, their “just follow Jesus” mantra really means “just follow my interpretation of Jesus,” which is distinct from Chuck’s interpretation, and Bob’s interpretation, and Pete’s interpretation, and so on ad nauseam. What makes their interpretation authoritative all of a sudden?

Postmodernism. It sucks, folks.

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Stayin’ Alive

I’ve begun listening to the course, “The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World” with professor Robert Garland.  I’m in lecture 2, where he identifies the two central themes of the course.  One is how climate and geography shape human life, but the other is the one that perked my ears more, all the way down to how Prof. Garland expressed it, which was thusly: “How all human beings are subjugated to that most basic imperative of existence: merely keeping themselves alive.”

This is interesting to me on multiple levels.

1) It is a true statement, as far as it goes.  But it is a statement that only reflects truth in a post-fall world.  Before the fall, keeping oneself alive was not a “basic imperative of existence”, because the nature of existence itself was one devoid of death.

2) Mankind’s principle struggle since the fall has been one of fighting to maintain something as close to a pre-fall state as possible.  Whereas, before the fall, continued life was a given, subsequently it has become only possible (in the raw physical sense) through continued striving and effort on the part of man himself.  Before the fall, God completely and totally sustained man’s life – after the fall, he has given part of that responsibility to man (“you will be like God” indeed), who is insufficient for the task and always ultimately fails; he does not have life in himself as God does.

3) Only one man does have life in himself: the Son (John 5:25).  And in a twist, he is the one who, though God, did not count equality with God something to be held onto at all costs (Phil. 2:6).  Also in a twist, he tells men that the way to find life is to lose it for his sake (Matt. 10:39).

4) The use of the word “subjugated” by professor Garland is noteworthy.  To subjugate is to bring under dominion or control.  To use language in this way, the good professor is suggesting that death, and our efforts to avoid it, has us in bondage.  This idea is scriptural in the sense that sin is said to be the cause of death, and those perishing are said to be slaves to sin (the book of Romans is great on this).

5) But notice again that our efforts to avoid death are included in the idea of being subjugated.  Indeed, all our efforts to seek life through the law must end in death, as Paul says in Romans 7:10 – “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.”

6) In the final analysis, Jesus changes the basic imperative of existence from keeping ourselves alive to letting him kill us.  A dead slave no longer has to serve his old master – he has been freed from that subjugation.  Jesus then raises us unto himself, all within baptism, unto a new life where he is again the only one responsible for keeping us alive.  And he does all things well.

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The Blue Tarp of Doom

Years and years ago I went to a weekend youth retreat with some kids from church at the Roman Nose State Park campgrounds.  There was a big hill leading up to the mess hall there, and at one particular point the organizers covered one side of it with a shiny, low-friction tarp.  They then set some water hoses at the top, allowing it to cascade to the bottom end and create a muddy pool, which we kids had hours of fun sliding into.  That was a slippery slope.

Nowadays I don’t do much slip-n-slide, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean I’m done with slippery slopes.  As logical fallacies go, it’s the one I’ve been accused of committing the most often, and always in the context of an argument over homosexual “marriage”.

Here’s what happens.

1) The advocate asserts that the marriage applicants in question are consenting adults (and/or are not hurting anyone, should be free to marry whom they love, only want to have the love they share be publicly recognized, ad nauseum).

2) I respond that their arguments are equally applicable to incest, and ask if they are willing to live consistently with that reasoning.

3) They accuse me of resorting to the slippery slope fallacy, and all my attempts to explain that, no, I’m actually exposing the fallacious nature of their logic fall upon deaf ears.

That said, I’m going to use this space to provide that explanation in full so that, though I expect the deaf will remain deaf until and unless the Lord changes them, others of my persuasion can at least have my comments without me having to yell over the taunting.

The slippery slope fallacy itself is explained this way by one of my favorite fallacy websites, The Fallacy Files:

If A happens, then by a gradual series of small steps through BC,…, XY, eventually Z will happen, too.
Z should not happen.
Therefore, A should not happen, either.

Now, as far as it goes, I agree that this is poor reasoning.  However, as the Fallacy Files points out:

This type of argument is by no means invariably fallacious, but the strength of the argument is inversely proportional to the number of steps between A and Z, and directly proportional to the causal strength of the connections between adjacent steps. If there are many intervening steps, and the causal connections between them are weak, or even unknown, then the resulting argument will be very weak, if not downright fallacious.

As an aside, does that describe the link between gay marriage and, say, polygamy or incest?  Are there tons of intervening steps, with weak or unknown causal connections?

We have to look no further than Utah’s recent reversal of a ban on polygamy for our answer.  The lawsuit that brought about this decision was of the Brown family of Sister Wives fame, whose argument “relied primarily on the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the Texas law banning sodomy, which was celebrated by gay rights advocates.”

Hmm, yeah, definitely a tenuous connection guys.

But that’s actually a minor point, because – as you will please note – my argument has never hinged on the idea that one thing will lead to another and pretty soon you’ll have 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria.  (We miss you Harold Ramis!)

Actually, my argument is more simple: what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

See, I don’t know for sure and for certain that creating a category of gay marriage will also end up creating one for incestuous marriage, or bestiality marriage, or any other such thing.  It might.  I’d wager it will.  But I’m not going to base my whole argument on my predictions for a future that might not happen.

Instead, I want to press for consistency.  This person is lobbying for gay marriage on the basis that these folks are consenting adults?  Okay, then why can’t incestuous couples lobby on those grounds?  I’m not saying they will (which would be a step towards a slippery slope argument), I’m saying that, given the premise that consenting adulthood is all that matters, what’s stopping them?  And if we’re willing to accept that premise, how can we oppose them if they do?

This presentation leaves the person with three options.

A) Live with the glaring inconsistency in their thinking – welcome to cognitive dissonance
B) Resolve the inconsistency by granting that incestuous couples too should get brought on the happy marriage bus
C) Resolve the inconsistency by acknowledging that their reasoning is faulty and they have not presented a convincing argument for gay marriage

Of course, this leaves out the fourth option, which is D) take me to task about how I’m making an appeal to the slippery slope fallacy, which I would be remiss not to mention as its the one everyone I’ve spoken with on the opposite side of this issue resorts to.

And this is why, despite my best efforts, we always end up right back in the mud below the blue tarp of doom.

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The Creation Debate | A Chi Files reflection

So the much hyped Creation Debate took place last night.  In the time since, I’ve read a comment or two, but no one that I’ve encountered is really looking at this from quite the angle I am, so I’ll go ahead and speak up.

Real quick, let’s have a round of applause for Ken Ham and Bill Nye for making it through what could have easily been a rancorous debate with minimal barbs and jabs, and absolutely no outbursts or loss of cool.

Great, okay, so to begin then.

  • The debate question itself (“Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”), while reasonable and even appropriate for this debate, put the creation side at a disadvantage from the start.  The phrasing of the question  necessarily put Ham on the defensive, as he had to take the affirmative and thus defend it from Nye.
  • Nye, on the other hand, as the one taking a negative stance on the question, was left free to throw objection after objection Ham’s way without necessarily having to defend his own view from criticism. (Continue reading to find out why I say necessarily.)
  • Ham was also obligated to use up valuable time defining terms and distinguishing between historical and physical science, since Nye certainly wasn’t going to do it.  Indeed, Nye came in and immediately set about attempting to erase Ham’s carefully drawn lines, obfuscating what should have been an obvious and agreed upon distinction (and I don’t think Ham ever recovered from this).
  • Nye for his part did not even stick strictly to the debate question.  His Noah’s ark presentation was extensive, but it was simply not germane to the question of origins, strictly speaking.  What it did was undermine the Genesis narrative – which of course is the primary reference point for origins from a Christian perspective – and introduce what would have amounted to a rabbit trail for Ham to have to chase after to reassert Genesis’ accuracy in a strong way.  It was a masterfully executed debating tactic that succeeded in throwing dust in the air.
  • Nye continued to be all over the board, taking advantage of the common debate tactic known sometimes as “scattergun” or “shotgun”, where many objections are thrown out in rapid succession.  It’s difficult to counter simply because for any objection or error that takes one minute to state, five to ten minutes will be required to answer it well.  As Ham pointed out tongue-in-cheek, answering all of Nye’s assertions would have taken “millions of years”.
  • To his credit, Ham stuck to the debate topic well.  Unfortunately, this is lost on a lot of folks who blame Ham for not dealing with Nye’s points more directly.  What they miss is that Ham was the one sticking to the agreed-upon debating question and did not let himself get distracted by Nye’s ADD approach.  Nye’s points deserve rebuttal, and Ham did well by pointing the interested to the AiG website where those can be found in an unabridged form.
  • I do have criticisms for Ham though, such as that he wasted too much time with videos from Christian, young-earth creationist scientists.  I can abide one or two as Ham’s goal was clearly to answer Nye’s claim that us folks who hold to YEC can’t be real or serious scientists (as presented in several of Nye’s internet videos), and that needed to be done.  However, to continue to belabor the point once established was redundant.
  • It was also clear that Ham – usually a very skilled presenter – was uncharacteristically nervous during his times to speak (stumbling over his words more than a few times), and much less at ease than the fluid Nye.  It’s my theory that Ham was feeling the weight of the need to perform for his Christian base, and also for all the unbelievers who might be swayed by the debate.  Nye’s strength was his confidence (some might say overconfidence), and he was able to push on easily even in the midst of a predominantly harsh studio audience, as well as when his jokes bombed.  This shows what a double-edged sword aggressive promotion of such an event can be when all the attention makes you choke, and less attention might have made a better performance.
  • On the other hand, this difference in performance also shows something deeper about the two men I think.  For Nye, this debate was inconsequential in an ultimate sense.  He claims to be patriotic, and thus wants his country to be competitive scientifically, which he believes can only happen if people abandon a creation model of origins in favor of an evolutionary one; but even that goal is somewhat of an abstraction, so there’s no real pressure on him.  Ham, quite conversely, wants to see people saved unto eternity, and the creation issue is the hill he has encamped upon to fight towards that end.  In sum, the stakes were much higher for Ham than for Nye in an ultimate sense, and for anyone who was paying attention: it showed.
  • The bottom line issue with the debate is that it needs to be had at a more presuppositional level.  The answer to the question “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” is wholly presupposition dependent (that is, how and by what standard do we evaluate the evidence?).  We can go back and forth on the evidence issue ’til the cows come home, or evolve into something else, but that again comes back to presuppositions.  Ham did touch on this, but oh how I wish he’d worked in his “glasses” slides I’ve seen in so many of his presentations.
  • It’s easy for me to armchair quarterback from here, but if I were to give just one thing I wish Ham had done differently, it would be this.  I wish he would have spent at least half of his time belaboring the fact that we and Nye differ on how to answer the debate question, and in what ways (an inherently presuppositional topic).  The remainder of the time should have been spent 1. showing that ours is the more consistent approach (consistent both within itself and with the observable world), and 2. showing where Nye’s worldview falls apart and fails to account for the evidence in specific ways (hence why I said “necessarily” above).

I could go on, there’s much more to say (including how bad the actual debate format was), but I promised my fiance a date night tonight, and I need to go make good on that.

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Multiverse? Wherefore art thou Multiverse?

I read an opinion piece today by theoretical physicist Andrei Linde on why he thinks we need to abandon the traditional conception of the universe (i.e. one whole “uni” containing di-”verse” parts) in favor of the multiverse theory (which posits multiple universes).

Allow me to pull a quote from near the end, where he gives what amounts to his second argument for pitching the traditional universe in the waste bin – the first having been string theory (which is by no means devoid of detractors, as this accompanying piece illustrates).

And then there is something else.  There are many strange coincidences in our world. The mass of the electron is 2000 times smaller than the mass of the proton. Why? The only known reason is that if it would change few times, life as we know it would be impossible. The masses of the proton and neutron almost coincide. Why? If one of their masses would change just a little, life as we know it would be impossible. The energy of empty space in our part of the universe is not zero, but a tiny number, more than a hundred orders of magnitude below the naive theoretical expectations. Why? The only known explanation is that we would be unable to live in the world with a much larger energy of vacuum.

The relation between our properties and the properties of the world is called the anthropic principle. But if the universe were given to us in one copy, this relation would not help. We would need to speculate about the divine cause making the universe custom built for humans. Meanwhile, in the multiverse consisting of many different parts with different properties, the correlation between our properties and the properties of the part of the world where we can live makes perfect sense.

- Uniformity And Uniqueness Of The Universe (bold mine)

So it would appear that, in the final analysis, the multiverse theory is the necessary rescuing device to escape the obvious implications as highlighted above.  That is, if there are 10500 universes out there, surely one of them would hit the right lottery numbers to become the clearly-taylored-to-human-life specimen we ourselves inhabit.  But to think that we inhabit the only universe there is?  Well, even some dyed-in-the-wool naturalists start getting uncomfortable with that level of coincidence, and it really is interesting to see Linde make what amounts to a nearly explicit admission of this.  Especially earlier in the article where he boasts that this speculation is in principle unfalsifiable – making it a claim to faith more removed from evidence than he could ever claim about Christianity (see 1st Cor. 15 for instance).

Two additional things I will just note here in passing.

1. It used to be that the naturalists argued that evolution was a plausible explanation for the origin of man, “given enough time”.  Now that it has been proven that – no matter which model of our universe you use and how much you want to stretch it out – there simply is not enough time to accomplish even the most basic of steps required by evolution, we see a turning to the multiverse theory.  The reason is that this theory grants a practically infinite number of universes where every conceivable possibility is realized, including naturalistic evolution.  Quantity of time turned out to be a dead end, so quantity of universes is the next step for them.

2. As I’ve noted elsewhere in the past, the multiverse theory presents a logical/philosophical problem all its own for the atheist.  That is: if the multiverse exists, and every alternate possibility pops up in some corner of the far-flung multiverse or another, then an omnipresent God would exist in one of these ostensible universes… in which case, being omnipresent, He would exist in all of them.  Now what?

Lastly, you can watch John Warwick Montgomery deal with the multiverse and other related-ness here.

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Lowered prophetic standards

So now that Ariel Sharon has died, I keep hearing about this “prophesy” given by the deceased Rabbi Kaduri that the Messiah would not return until after Sharon’s death.

Ignoring the obvious questions about the identity of this messiah in Kaduri’s mind – issues which I have no real knowledge of, much less the desire to pursue – I just have to raise a skeptical hand about this supposed prophesy for a second.

Prophesies come in different shapes, sizes, forms, and flavors, I get that.  But how is it that there’s such fervor over this one?  Isn’t a prophesy of this nature somewhat similar to me claiming that the Jesus won’t return until after this blog is posted?  I mean, once that threshold is crossed, isn’t it kind of obvious that his return will be after the given event?  And how much does that really tell us, anyway?

Does it tell us how long after Sharon’s death?  That’s an entirely different question, and one which I’ve yet to see anyone speculate on, least of all Kaduri.  Maybe he did, but you’d think that would be front and center of all the mentions of it, which it ain’t.

At any rate, it seems to me that there’s enough to mull over in the prophesies actually contained in Scripture to get too sidetracked with this.  That’s some weighty stuff.  This?  This just seems to be evangelical mysticism manifesting itself in the lowering of prophetic standards.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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“Kumbaya” is still not the national anthem

Picture with me a homicide scene.  The killer has been caught, literally red handed, standing over the body of the person whose life he stole.  Continue to imagine as the police take him into custody; it’s pretty cut-and-dry but there is due process to carry out.  However, instead of reading him his rights, they read the following list:

“Theft, perjury, embezzlement, prostitution, public intoxication, possession of an illegal substance…”

Puzzled, as anyone would be in his situation, the suspect (who we know as the murderer) asks, “What are you talking about?”

To which the officers respond, “Well, we just wanted you to know that murder isn’t the only offense we take people into custody for.”

Four months later, the trial is concluded, and the jury is brought out to give the verdict.

“We the jury acknowledge that there are many prosecutable offenses, among them being bribery, extortion, domestic disturbance, failure to stop at a red light, unauthorized entry of a private dwelling, animal cruelty…” and so on ad nauseum.  The list continues on and on, but somehow never comes to the verdict on this particular case of murder, which happens to be the only offense in a long list of possible offenses that those present are interested in at the moment.  Asked about it, the jury with much trepidation responds that they did not want to seem “intolerant” or “bigoted” by offering a verdict without affirming that murder is not the only offense a jury might need to rule on.

Ludicrous.  PC BS on steroids.

Maybe you already see where this is going, but allow me a quick departure to set up the point all the clearer.

Tonight I read Trevin Wax’s Duck Dynasty Debrief (linked from Steve Hays’ excellent critique of it).  In his post, Mr. Wax commented that:

[Phil Robertson] minimized the pervasiveness of sin in the way he commented on the issue. (He implied that sexual sin was an irrational choice. But isn’t every sin irrational?…)

Wax is not the only person to make statements like this in the course of the whole Robertson dust-up, but every time I hear something along these lines the picture of the scenario I opened with comes to mind.  It seems that, when it comes to homosexuality, we cannot call one sin out and just deal with it – as would be the case in a court of law.  We’ve got to cover our butts by mentioning every other besetting sin under the sun so people know (somehow) that we’re not haters.

Said another way, it seems as if much of the evangelical response, when the particular sin of homosexuality is on the table for discussion, is to divert the conversation to the myriad sins that are possible while neglecting to come down specifically on the one in question.  Or, at best, they might offer a “yes, that’s a sin,” but then rather anxiously move the conversation onwards to “but there are lots of sins, let’s talk about some we can agree more on!”

One wonders if those evangelicals who were uncomfortable with Robertson’s direct treatment of the subject were so because the man went for the jugular of the modern clash between Christian and secular ethics and didn’t play around with those sins that are, currently, “safe” to criticize.  He identified the strongest point of antithesis between the two moralities in our time and poked it.  Hard.  And the reaction that provoked proved that “kumbaya” is still not the national anthem, much as they wish it was.

One wonders if evangelicals like Wax would have told William Wilberforce that, as he confronted the premier moral issue of his time, he should make sure not to minimize the pervasiveness of sin with his focus on the slave trade.

After all, Will, isn’t every sin enslaving?

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The afterlife of the ancients

I read someone on the web today positing that at the time of Moses there was “no belief in heaven and hell… nor were there firm beliefs about the afterlife.”  I’m no expert in the ancient near-east, but this assertion strikes me as wrong on multiple levels and I just wanted to comment on it.

For the sake of keeping this brief, let’s grant the benefit of the doubt and guess that when the author said there was “no belief in heaven and hell” at that time he means that folks did not have a conception of the “afterlife” that at death one was either endowed with wings and inclined to sit on clouds playing a harp all day, or else tormented in the bowels of the earth by red satyrs with pitchforks.  That’s fine, I don’t believe that either.*

Instead, let me just focus on the idea from the second clause above about the afterlife.  Now, I’m not sure what the author would consider a “firm belief about the afterlife” or what constitutes a lack thereof.  How many people must staunchly hold a belief about the afterlife for us to admit there was such?  And must those beliefs be uniform, or is there room for variation in beliefs about the hereafter while still counting as “firm” beliefs?  I don’t know, but it seems to me that any criteria that would rule out the ancient world having “firm beliefs about the afterlife” would also rule out the modern world having them, or vice-versa.

At any rate, I’m quite sure the ancient Egyptians (for one) had a fairly intricate theology of death.  One example, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, dates to around the time of Moses, and it deals extensively with laying out its view of the afterlife.  This includes, incidentally, dealing with the concept of a paradise for the departed.

But what about God’s people?  Any evidence that they had any conception of an afterlife beyond simply “sheol” that far back?

Actually yes.  I’d point to the 19th chapter of Job, where we read…

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

I think the argument can be well made that this represents an intimation, if not a full-fledged understanding, of the Resurrection on the part of Job.  And, given that the length of his lifespan has led many (including myself) to believe that he was of a generation well prior to Moses, this would demonstrate a clear expectation of, not just an afterlife, but a new life in the body among God’s people even before the Torah was even jotted down.

_________________________________________________

*For what I do believe on this subject, listen in to my podcast here starting at 28:25.  (Might have to open it in a new window to select the time.)

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Allies, yes. But allies over the gospel? That is the question.

Pastor Brown has written a spot on piece about the trend in today’s battles over sexuality and abortion that see Lutherans allying themselves ever more closely with Roman Catholics.

As he points out, there’s nothing wrong with this in principle.  We can fight against gay marriage and abortion to some degree side-by-side with those whose theology we disagree with (as even Southern Baptist Albert Mohler has said recently to a group of Mormons at BYU: “I don’t believe we will be going to heaven together, but we may well be going to jail together” – or something to that effect).  But when we start taking their premises about God and the Gospel – the premises that drive their conclusions about how and why to fight the culture wars and are often manifestly different from ours – and incorporating them into our own theology, we make a grievous error, paving the road to hell with our good intentions.

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