Becoming a True Christian Scholar: Some Recommendations, Part 1

Reprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

In run-of-the-mill conservative Christianity in general and Baptist Fundamentalism in particular there is, and has long been, an indigenous and deeply in-grained distrust and suspicion of highly educated men within our ranks. But this does not in the least reduce or detract from the great service and essential value such men have provided to Biblical Christianity through the centuries. If we may quote Erasmus (1466-1536) on Christianity’s debt to scholars:

Let it be remembered that the heretics were refuted by the scholars, and much more by the scholars than by the martyrs. By dying for a conviction a man proves only that he is sincere, not that he is right.1

In spite of this historic and continuing debt, there has been a parallel perverse distrust and contempt toward Christian scholars (even devout and spiritually-minded ones) by much of conservative evangelical Christianity. I recall well a conversation I was party to some 25 years and more ago with an independent, fundamental Baptist pastor—a man who himself had been unable to complete even a basic, un-demanding three-year Bible institute degree, a deficiency he had not remedied by extensive personal study in succeeding years—in which he told me that “I just don’t trust men with a lot of education.” As though abject ignorance somehow made a man more spiritual and useful to God!

John Gill (1697-1771) wrote a scathing rebuke of this absurd perspective nearly 250 years ago:

Here I cannot but observe the amazing ignorance and stupidity of some persons, who take it into their heads to decry learning and learned men; for what would they have done for a Bible, had it not been for them as instruments? and if they had it, so as to have been capable of reading it, God must have wrought a miracle for them; and continued that miracle in every nation, in every age, and to every individual; I mean the gift of tongues, in a supernatural way, as he bestowed upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost; which there is no reason in the world ever to have expected. Bless God, therefore, and be thankful that God has, in his providence, raised up such men to translate the Bible into the mother-tongue of every nation, and particularly ours; and that he still continues to raise up such who are able to defend the translations made, against erroneous persons, and enemies of the truth; and to correct and amend it in lesser matters, in which it may have failed, and clear and illustrate it by their learned notes upon it.2

All other things being equal—zeal, dedication, faithfulness, opportunity, personal ability—the man with the better education will do the better, more effective and more far-reaching work. Consider the case of the Apostles. All of the original twelve, as far as we can tell, apparently came from what today would be called “blue collar” occupations, rather than from the “professional” or “academic” classes (Matthew Levi, as a tax collector, may be an exception, depending on how one classifies government bureaucrats!). Peter and John were expressly described by their adversaries as uneducated and ordinary men (Acts 4:13).

Example of the apostles

Even so, the Apostles did excellent work in evangelizing Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to some degree further afield. But who was it that planted the gospel throughout Asia, Greece, the islands of the Mediterranean and beyond? It was the formally—and highly—educated former Pharisee and student of the learned Rabbi Gamaliel, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. And what was Paul’s testimony in this regard? That, by the grace of God upon him, he labored more extensively, and effectively, than the rest (I Cor. 15:9-10). It is a certainty that Paul’s extensive training in Hebrew Bible and Rabbinics were essential to his accomplishing what he accomplished, and in writing what he wrote—the doctrinal heart of the New Testament, Romans through Philemon.

Reaching back to the Old Testament, let us not forget that when God brought His people out of Egypt, His chosen leader was Moses, a man educated in “all the wisdom of Egypt,” (Acts 7:22). And the leading spokesman for God during the Babylonian captivity was the man Daniel, who providentially was trained at the king’s expense in the learning and language of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:5).

Church history

In ecclesiastical history, we often see that the highly educated made contributions that greatly overshadowed the achievements of men of lesser training.

Wycliffe, a university professor at Oxford, produced the first complete English Bible, which he could not have done without his mastery of Latin.

All the leading Reformers in Europe, and many of the less prominent ones, were highly educated men, men thoroughly versed in Latin, Greek, often Hebrew and sometimes Aramaic and Syriac, and with a strong familiarity with both classical and Christian literature stretching back to antiquity (which constituted virtually the whole of collective “knowledge” in that era)—Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Tyndale, Melanchthon, Beza, even Menno Simons and many more. Without their extensive knowledge of languages and literature, they could not have made their vernacular Bible translations (which gave the unlearned masses access to Divine revelation), nor written their treatises, commentaries and tracts that shook Europe, and beyond.

In the following centuries, highly educated men were the leaders in Christianity. Some were formally trained—the men of the Westminster Assembly, the Puritans in general, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Adoniram Judson—while others, lacking “higher education,” were self-taught: John Gill, William Carey (who never spent a day in college, yet mastered numerous languages and was in his day acknowledged as the world’s greatest living linguist), and Spurgeon, to note only a few. And even men who began with essentially no education at all nevertheless saw the need to inform their minds in preparation for God’s service—John Newton (the converted slaver who studied Latin and Greek after entering the ministry), D. L. Moody and Gipsy Smith to list some few obvious examples. None of these men decried learning and learned men, but valued their own education and prized what other men’s minds had made available to them through their writings.

The truth be told, Christian scholars of the 19th and previous centuries were as a class far better educated individually than today’s scholars. Consider Henry Alford’s famous commentary in 4 volumes, The Greek Testament. Published in the 1860s, it regularly quotes various texts and authors in Latin, Greek, German, French and other languages, with the unspoken assumption that of course his readers had no need of translation of any of these. That we collectively fall far short of the achievements of earlier generations of Christian scholars is to our great loss, and embarrassment. Our need is not for fewer scholars today—we very much need many more than we have.

I am by no means arguing that education is a substitute for spirituality, or that it can make up for defective devotion or commitment, but I am arguing that extensive education can be a mighty adjunct to spirituality, devotion and commitment in the work of God, and we are desperately in need of a continually-maturing “crop” of new Fundamentalist scholars, if we are to do the work of the ministry as effectively as we ought in this and future generations. Education is not an end in itself, but a means to a very important end.

Notes

1 Erasmus of Christendom by Roland Bainton, New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1969, p. 22

2 A Body of Divinity, Sovereign Grace reprint, 1971, pp. 13-14

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Stephen Schwenke's picture

I encourage our people to educate themselves to the best of their ability. But I also believe that some people can be educated out of their own intellect. I had one person tell me that they had more questions coming out of Bible college than they had going in. That is the result of a "scholar" attempting to impress his young students with his great intellect rather than prepare them for the work of the ministry.
The one big problem with "scholars" is their snobbish response to the "uneducated." The "scholars" declare that a person is "unqualified" to speak in their "field" if they don't have a long string of degrees behind their name. There is danger and fallacy in that position, yet it has crept into our fundamental circles. And even then, if they don't have a degree from their own particular "approved" schools, then that person is also summarily dismissed.
What ever happened to just believing the Bible?
The distrust Mr. Kutilek refers to in the fundamental circles in regards to the "scholars" is two-fold.
1. It is ALWAYS the "scholars" and schools that breed apostacy.
2. "Scholars" end up setting themselves up as the authority over the word of God. They lend themselves to the Nicolaitan philosophy, even when they don't intend to, and maybe without them even realizing what they are doing.

The historic baptist position has been that our authority is in the word of God, not in any Scholar.
I am not against scholarship, per se, just the abuse of it.
However, God has used many "uneducated" men to great purposes - Lester Roloff, Dwight Moody, and Charles Spurgeon all come to mind. Further, there are many unnamed men who pastored unnamed churches all over the entire planet who have done more for Christ in regards to the Scriptural mandates of evangelism and discipleship than the accumulated efforts of many "scholars" who did nothing more than accumulate knowledge.

Pastor Steve Schwenke
Liberty Baptist Church
Amarillo, TX

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
I think the trend RPittman was addressing is attempting to use the term 'Christian' as a marketing tool, not just doing one's labor as unto the Lord. I would expect Christian plumbers to do their best work and charge a reasonable price because they are a Christian and should hold themselves to a higher standard... but I have to say that I expect that of everyone I do business with... so it isn't a particularly 'Christian-y' ethic as much as a good business practice for anyone who expects to increase their customer base.

Yeah... agree. I don't like to see marketed Christianity where it isn't relevant. That is, to the plumber it's extremely relevant. He is striving to do all to the glory of God. But what makes his work uniquely Christian is why he does it and, to a lesser degree, how (ethics: but even most of that is not uniquely Christian, really). So there is not really a "Christian way" to do the work other than to do with a certain motivation and a concern for quality and ethics that a has a certain Christian motivation behind it.
... and that is really not marketable. That is, to the consumer, it makes no difference why he does quality work, shows up on time, does things honestly, etc. So the "Christianess" of it is really the worker's concern, not the consumer's.

How does that relate to scholarship? Well, certainly the why factors are fundamental to making a Christian scholar's work "Christian." Beyond that, there's alot of overlap in the how. Excellence in the quality of the work itself is much the same whether you're a Christian or an atheist.

Maybe Roland was talking about marketing, but I don't think marketing has much to do with scholarship. Haven't seen any yellow vans with "Christian Scholars R Us" on the side lately. Biggrin

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Much I'd like to interact with here so... separate post is better maybe?

Stephen Schwenke wrote:
I encourage our people to educate themselves to the best of their ability. But I also believe that some people can be educated out of their own intellect. I had one person tell me that they had more questions coming out of Bible college than they had going in. That is the result of a "scholar" attempting to impress his young students with his great intellect rather than prepare them for the work of the ministry.

On the first part: yes, I have seen that happen... educated beyond ability to grasp and use. It is one factor in not pursuing further education myself. That is, I have a tendency to get absorbed in ever increasing levels of detail until I am wholly consumed by a very, very small question. Find it hard to come up for air and consider how the subject matter matters to anyone or anything.
So I could be happy enough becoming the world's foremost expert on the fifth name in the first genealogy in Chronicles (random example) or something like that, but I don't think this is my calling.

As for leaving college with more questions. That sounds like a good thing to me, depending on the nature of the questions, I guess. With so much there to know, you don't begin to know what you need to know until you know what you don't know, you know?

I don't think it's fair to generalize that anything like this is the result of a scholar trying to impress students with his brain. How would anybody know what has motivated the prof? But if he's smart, God made him that way and he sinning if he doesn't use it. This often looks like showing off to those lack that set of skills.

Stephen wrote:
The one big problem with "scholars" is their snobbish response to the "uneducated." The "scholars" declare that a person is "unqualified" to speak in their "field" if they don't have a long string of degrees behind their name. There is danger and fallacy in that position, yet it has crept into our fundamental circles. And even then, if they don't have a degree from their own particular "approved" schools, then that person is also summarily dismissed.

I have rarely seen this happen. I have often seen ignorant views/people dismissed. And ignorance tends to correlate with reading and reading tends to correlate with degrees. We all know there are exceptions, but they stand out because they are exceptions.
Folks who are ignorant on a subject don't like having their views dismissed (it's happened to me often enough, so I know). But it's not inappropriate. If you don't know, you don't know.
It's kind of like me talking to an avid golfer about how to improve his swing. He's pretty silly if he doesn't point out that I'm completely ignorant on the subject.

Stephen wrote:

What ever happened to just believing the Bible?
The distrust Mr. Kutilek refers to in the fundamental circles in regards to the "scholars" is two-fold.
1. It is ALWAYS the "scholars" and schools that breed apostacy.
2. "Scholars" end up setting themselves up as the authority over the word of God. They lend themselves to the Nicolaitan philosophy, even when they don't intend to, and maybe without them even realizing what they are doing.

"Just believing the Bible." The trouble with that is that we do not come to the Bible with a blank slate. We read it and interpret it according ideas already in our heads. IOW, you can't believe much of the Bible until you believe some things about the Bible and some things about portions of the Bible and characters in the Bible and relationships between sections of the Bible, and the world the Bible was written in, etc.

Also need to point out that though apostasy has always come from scholars (this is not true, though... Joseph Smith, Charles Russel?), the rejecting of apostasy has usually come from scholars as well.... which is to say that people expert in the Bible have really lead in the doctrine of the church pretty much from the first councils onward.

The generalization that "scholars end up setting themselves up as the authority" is interesting. Lots of scholars don't do this and lots of non-scholars do. The generalization doesn't seem very useful.

Stephen wrote:
The historic baptist position has been that our authority is in the word of God, not in any Scholar.

Nobody's questioning that here, certainly not Mr.Kutilek.

Stephen wrote:
However, God has used many "uneducated" men to great purposes - Lester Roloff, Dwight Moody, and Charles Spurgeon all come to mind. Further, there are many unnamed men who pastored unnamed churches all over the entire planet who have done more for Christ in regards to the Scriptural mandates of evangelism and discipleship than the accumulated efforts of many "scholars" who did nothing more than accumulate knowledge.

The first half of this assertion is not in dispute. Kutilek is pretty clear on that if you read both parts of the series. It's about what makes one more capable not about what not about what makes somebody completely capable or incapable... i.e., "other things being equal, you're more useful educated than otherwise."

I don't know much about "scholars who did nothing more than accumulate knowledge." In my worldview, truth is an inherently powerful thing. So if the "knowledge" is knowledge of the truth, I don't know how it's possible to accumulate it without there being some impact on your thinking and your choices. It can be hard to see exactly how in every case, but ideas do have consequences. And even when the consequences are not visible, God sees the mind and heart and is glorified better or worse even based on what happens only inside the brain case.

RPittman's picture

Susan wrote:
And what about Solomon? Would any of us consider him qualified to teach in our churches?
Simply put--NO! Solomon is an enigma much like Samson, who is listed as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11. In the OT, wisdom (חכמה) is more about skill than intellectual or academic prowess. Thus, wisdom at in OT wisdom literature is more a skill of living or living life well than one's intellectual attainments. Yet, Solomon, who was credited as being the wisest man alive, made some major gaffes at least in later life. It is interesting that Jesus Christ placed Himself squarely in the head of the Solomonic wisdom tradition when he said, "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42)." So, what can we conclude? Although Solomon was flawed in his personal life, his wisdom teachings are sound. Because of his personal failings, we might not be able to have him speak in our pulpits today but we can use his wisdom teachings. One thing that we must remember is that Solomon lived in a different time and place where his behavior was viewed in an entirely different light (e.g. polygamy was practiced and accepted--even David had multiple wives). God sovereignly used fallible human beings such as Samson and Solomon to accomplish His will, to achieve His purpose, and to bring glory to Himself. Even so, there remains some mystery about Solomon and Samson but God is the righteous Judge.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It is hard to fit Solomon in a NT church setting. Since the pastoral epistles provide specific qualifications for the office of a bishop, we should expect the rules to be a bit different.
But was he an intellectual and is that presented as a positive thing in his case? Yes to both. I was going to plug the Scripture reference in but I've got to take the kids to school now and don't have it handy.

...
OK, here's the passage I had in mind:

1 Ki 4:32–34 He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. 33 Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. 34 And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

Since this is "wisdom" people came to "hear," it is not purely skill that is in view. He was giving them actual information that he had accumulated through his own study.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
It is hard to fit Solomon in a NT church setting. Since the pastoral epistles provide specific qualifications for the office of a bishop, we should expect the rules to be a bit different.
But was he an intellectual and is that presented as a positive thing in his case? Yes to both. I was going to plug the Scripture reference in but I've got to take the kids to school now and don't have it handy.

...
OK, here's the passage I had in mind:

1 Ki 4:32–34 He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. 33 Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. 34 And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

Since this is "wisdom" people came to "hear," it is not purely skill that is in view. He was giving them actual information that he had accumulated through his own study.

Aaron, I'm not sure that you're making the correct inference here. I don't think the Scriptures support that Solomon was an intellectual in the sense you are saying. As I understand your inference, Solomon had a intellectual understanding of the natural world in pretty the same way as a biologist or naturalist would today. I think not. If so, our knowledge (i.e. what you're calling "wisdom") exceeds Solomon's by far. The Scripture is obviously referring to Solomon's use of these things in his proverbs as he taught in the wisdom tradition and made application to life. It was very clever and ingenious how he used naturally observable things to illustrate, compare, contrast, and teach. It is not as if he was teaching new scientific or biological information, but Solomon used common and everyday things (i.e. things commonly known) to skillfully teach and illustrate profound lessons. Furthermore, this is not wisdom that Solomon gained from study and education but it is wisdom given by God. It was a God-given ability The kings and queens of the earth came to hear his skillful exposition of the profundities of life. Aaron, I fear that your exposition is superficial and faulty.

Quote:
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
(1 Kings 4:29-34)

Please note two important points:

1. The Scriptures specifically state that Solomon's wisdom came from God. There is nothing indicating education or study.

2. Solomon's wisdom is compared to the Eastern Wisdom Tradition, specifically the Egyptian Wisdom Tradition, and specific men of the Eastern Wisdom Tradition are named. This is indicative of the type of wisdom referenced. We morph the Scriptures when we try to put it in a modern context. It is NOT rational intellectualism.

RPittman's picture

Quote:
Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like. (2 Chronicles 1:10-12)

Quote:
And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart. (2 Chronicles 9:22-23)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

My point is a much simpler one.
Solomon used his intellect and, yes, studied the world around him and this was a good thing. I think that's pretty much what I said before, and all I meant to say. "Modern" has nothing to do with it.

RPittman wrote:
1. The Scriptures specifically state that Solomon's wisdom came from God. There is nothing indicating education or study.

Yes, his wisdom came from God, but this does not mean he didn't study. Every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). The Israelite's victories in Canaan came from God but they still had to fight (e.g., Josh.10:8). David attributed to God his ability to "leap over a wall" but he still had to use his muscles (Psalm18:29).

God is able to act directly to produce a result, of course, but He usually uses secondary causes.

All I'm saying is that it's important that we not view our brains as the enemy of devotion and service to God. The Devil did not invent the intellect or study, God did.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
My point is a much simpler one.
Solomon used his intellect and, yes, studied the world around him and this was a good thing. I think that's pretty much what I said before, and all I meant to say. "Modern" has nothing to do with it.
RPittman wrote:
1. The Scriptures specifically state that Solomon's wisdom came from God. There is nothing indicating education or study.

Yes, his wisdom came from God, but this does not mean he didn't study.

So what? No one has said that he didn't. It is just that education and study was not the source of Solomon's wisdom.
Quote:
Every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). The Israelite's victories in Canaan came from God but they still had to fight (e.g., Josh.10:8). David attributed to God his ability to "leap over a wall" but he still had to use his muscles (Psalm18:29).
No, this is pretty lame reasoning. I suppose Samson's strength came from pumping iron too. And he had the right genetics to give him bulk.
Quote:

God is able to act directly to produce a result, of course, but He usually uses secondary causes.

Is this Scripture or your opinion?
Quote:

All I'm saying is that it's important that we not view our brains as the enemy of devotion and service to God. The Devil did not invent the intellect or study, God did.

How do you know Solomon "studied the world around him"? Scripture doesn't say. This is purely speculative to fit your own neat conceptualization of Solomon and his intellectual prowess. This, I believe, is eisegesis.

Again, you and I operate from different paradigm, although you will not admit it. You look for natural (i.e. rationalistic explanations within the realm of natural phenomena) explanations whereas I accept it by faith as a work of God without speculation or rationalization.

Although I do not necessarily "view our brains as the enemy of devotion and service to God," I do see our minds as the locus of pride and the originator of many things against God. Scripture warn us about our minds are subject to corruption, vanity, and pride.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Amazing post. Just amazing.

For now, I'll just point out that Scripture tells us where pride comes from and the preferred biblical term is "heart."
2 Chron. 32:26
Isaiah 9:9
Jer. 48:29
Jer. 49:16
Dan. 5:20
Obadiah 3

There are also a couple of references linking pride and intellect. Certainly there is an intellectual component sometimes. As you say, the Scriptures do warn that our minds are "subject to corruption, vanity and pride" etc. They also warn that every part of our being is susceptible to corruption of one sort or another. There is no biblical justification for viewing the intellect with greater suspicion than any other aspect of our being.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

RP wrote:
So what? No one has said that he didn't [study ]. It is just that education and study was not the source of Solomon's wisdom.

I've already said God was the source of his wisdom... and that he also studied. Are you suggesting that Solomon studied but it was a complete waste of time because nothing came of it?

RP wrote:
Aaron wrote:
Every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). The Israelite's victories in Canaan came from God but they still had to fight (e.g., Josh.10:8). David attributed to God his ability to "leap over a wall" but he still had to use his muscles (Psalm18:29).
No, this is pretty lame reasoning. I suppose Samson's strength came from pumping iron too. And he had the right genetics to give him bulk.

Hmmm.... so one example of God producing a result directly proves that He never produces a result indirectly?
Did David not have to use his muscles? Did Isreal not have to fight? Does every good gift not come from the Father of Lights?
These examples are just a few among many that prove God uses secondary causes and that something that comes "from Him" can still be accurately said to have come "from our efforts." The biblical way to think is to recognize He holds our breath in His hand (Dan. 5:23). We don't even exhale without Him. But we still use our diaphragms. It's both-and, not either-or.

RP wrote:
Aaron wrote:
God is able to act directly to produce a result, of course, but He usually uses secondary causes.

Is this Scripture or your opinion?
I think you know the answer to that. Even when He parts the Red Sea He employs an east wind.

RP wrote:
How do you know Solomon "studied the world around him"? Scripture doesn't say. This is purely speculative to fit your own neat conceptualization of Solomon and his intellectual prowess. This, I believe, is eisegesis.

Are you suggesting God imparted detailed knowledge of trees and birds etc. directly to Solomon's brain? This is not impossible, of course, but who is doing the esegesis? People normally acquire knowledge by study and so it is not not eisegetical to suppose that study was involved. Of course, anybody rich enough to not have to labor for a wage all day could study the same things Solomon did, but it seems that God gifted him to understand and retain what he studied to a superlative degree.

RP wrote:
Again, you and I operate from different paradigm, although you will not admit it. You look for natural (i.e. rationalistic explanations within the realm of natural phenomena) explanations whereas I accept it by faith as a work of God without speculation or rationalization.

Different paradigm... Roland, I mean this in the nicest possible way, but I don't believe you have a paradigm. You've never articulated one despite having made that claim/accusation dozens of times.
Christian faith is a response to what God has said. When He has not said, "faith" has nothing to do with it. It's presumption or intuition or whatever.

He has not said that He imparted wisdom to Solomon's mind with zero effort from Solomon. So who's doing the speculating?

Of course, we can't prove either that he did study or that he didn't. But I've already explained why these two options are not equally likely.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
RP wrote:
So what? No one has said that he didn't [study ]. It is just that education and study was not the source of Solomon's wisdom.

I've already said God was the source of his wisdom... and that he also studied. Are you suggesting that Solomon studied but it was a complete waste of time because nothing came of it?

RP wrote:
Aaron wrote:
Every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). The Israelite's victories in Canaan came from God but they still had to fight (e.g., Josh.10:8). David attributed to God his ability to "leap over a wall" but he still had to use his muscles (Psalm18:29).
No, this is pretty lame reasoning. I suppose Samson's strength came from pumping iron too. And he had the right genetics to give him bulk.

Hmmm.... so one example of God producing a result directly proves that He never produces a result indirectly?
Never said or implied this.
Quote:

Did David not have to use his muscles? Did Isreal not have to fight? Does every good gift not come from the Father of Lights?
Inanities . . . immaterial and irrelevant.
Quote:

These examples are just a few among many that prove God uses secondary causes and that something that comes "from Him" can still be accurately said to have come "from our efforts." The biblical way to think is to recognize He holds our breath in His hand (Dan. 5:23). We don't even exhale without Him. But we still use our diaphragms. It's both-and, not either-or.
This strays far from anything I addressed. You trying to prove points that I never questioned.
Quote:

RP wrote:
Aaron wrote:
God is able to act directly to produce a result, of course, but He usually uses secondary causes.

Is this Scripture or your opinion?
I think you know the answer to that. Even when He parts the Red Sea He employs an east wind.
I did not question God's use of secondary causes but you state a conclusion. I questioned whether it was your opinion or Scripture.
Quote:

RP wrote:
How do you know Solomon "studied the world around him"? Scripture doesn't say. This is purely speculative to fit your own neat conceptualization of Solomon and his intellectual prowess. This, I believe, is eisegesis.

Are you suggesting God imparted detailed knowledge of trees and birds etc. directly to Solomon's brain? This is not impossible, of course, but who is doing the esegesis? People normally acquire knowledge by study and so it is not not eisegetical to suppose that study was involved. Of course, anybody rich enough to not have to labor for a wage all day could study the same things Solomon did, but it seems that God gifted him to understand and retain what he studied to a superlative degree.
I'm not suggesting anything except that you have no Scriptural basis that infers Solomon's wisdom came from natural processes. All we know is what Scripture states. Anything more is speculation.
Quote:

RP wrote:
Again, you and I operate from different paradigm, although you will not admit it. You look for natural (i.e. rationalistic explanations within the realm of natural phenomena) explanations whereas I accept it by faith as a work of God without speculation or rationalization.

Different paradigm... Roland, I mean this in the nicest possible way, but I don't believe you have a paradigm. You've never articulated one despite having made that claim/accusation dozens of times.
Christian faith is a response to what God has said. When He has not said, "faith" has nothing to do with it. It's presumption or intuition or whatever.
I've stated repeatedly that my paradigm is similar to a Pre-modern paradigm. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, go do some research.
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He has not said that He imparted wisdom to Solomon's mind with zero effort from Solomon. So who's doing the speculating?
I didn't say this either.
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Of course, we can't prove either that he did study or that he didn't. But I've already explained why these two options are not equally likely.


Aaron, this is honestly a waste of time and bandwidth. You are attributing all kinds of things to me that I have not said. You are inferring certain things where no inferences are indicated. Your argument pretty much inane and ridiculous. I have no desire to engage in repartee.

As for my paradigm, I am working through it. Quite frankly, I had hoped to have some honest, intellectual critiques of my ideas on SI. So far, I gotten little of value because most are seem interested in sophomoric debates more suited for the college dorm than an exchange between men of the world. Obviously, I don't have the time to lay out everything in detail supported by cogent argument. Whenever I broach an idea, it gets sidetracked and nitpicked with all sorts of specious reasoning. I lose the momentum and usually walk away from the quagmire and someone accuses me of having no substance.

Well, sink your teeth into this. I have suggested repeatedly that Modernity or Modernist epistemology has been rendered impotent by Post-modernist arguments. Furthermore, Fundamentalists have traditionally used Modernist epistemology for their refutation of Modernism but we are now faced with the looming prospect that this epistemological is about to fold or is crumbling. So, where do we go from here? This is the difference between paradigms. What was the epistemology of Christians before Modernity? What is my paradigm? It is similar, although not identical, to a Pre-modern paradigm of faith and reason. And if you don't understand what I'm proposing, go do your own homework. I didn't develop my thoughts in a vacuum. What amazes me is that so many on SI are ignorant of a paradigm shift that is apparent or becoming apparent to the rest of the world. Perhaps we have insulated ourselves too much.

And here I go again . . . I've wasted time to no purpose . . . that's the end as far as I'm concerned.

BTW, we're way off topic . . . I ask your indulgence and forgiveness for going astray on this topic . . . .

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Quote:
Aaron, this is honestly a waste of time and bandwidth. You are attributing all kinds of things to me that I have not said. You are inferring certain things where no inferences are indicated. Your argument pretty much inane and ridiculous.

Presumably your posts had some kind of point. It was quite clear that the point was trying to reject my claim that Solomon used his intellect and studied and that Scripture presents this as a good thing.
Your counterargument did indeed deny (or at least question) that he studied, and labeled my point about secondary causes as contrary to faith.

So I offered more evidence that he probably studied and cross examined your case against both that and secondary causes in general... and pointed out what you had left unanswered.
That's what happened here. I wonder sometimes if we're reading the same thread.

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