20 October 2021
This may be a little too cerebral for some readers.
It's normally pointless to discuss philosophical basics. Most people don't understand the discussion, and those who do often don't actually walk by it, and cannot seem to translate it very well for those who lack their intellectual background. In other words, genuine philosophical erudition serves mostly as a social divider. The elite get to use it, but everyone else is fed some kind of dumbed-down crap. If you are going to propose a fundamental philosophy, you have to ensure it gets translated into the culture, or it accomplishes nothing.
There's nothing wrong with proposing a philosophical basis for starting a new culture, or renewing an older one, as long as you include the very practical necessity of withdrawing from the existing culture that is objectionable. It's very short-sighted to build up some educated noble class while letting the rest of society rumble around in ignorance. If the whole idea is to establish a standard of truth, then it needs to be everyone's truth. If you can't get your truth pushed into the society as a whole, at least in some measure, then you haven't accomplished anything by establishing what truth is. It's just an intellectual amusement.
The Bible does propose a standard of defining truth, and does have a distinct plan for building a society based on truth. This standard is what's behind the whole concept of covenant and building a covenant community. Unfortunately, the entire Church History of the West rests on philosophical assumptions quite different from those in the Bible. The last Apostle wasn't even in his grave when the next generation of church leadership began slipping off down into the Hellenistic philosophical assumptions of reality, and abandoned the Hebrew outlook of the Bible.
That Hebraic philosophical outlook is very hard to explain in part because nobody adheres to it as part of a current living culture. It's exceedingly difficult to go back and pick over the ancient ruins of Hebrew culture when people have been so very busy, and work so very hard to bury it. Just a couple of centuries before Jesus was born, the leadership of the Israeli remnant had begun to destroy everything their Hebrew heritage gave them with a fervor that they never had in preserving that Hebrew intellectual approach. We associate that shift into Hellenistic thought with the Pharisees. In the long run, Pharisaism triumphed as the controlling identity of what it meant to be Jewish, and it was built on a foundation of contempt for the ancient Hebrew philosophical assumptions. Thus, Jews of today are not even the same people as Old Testament Israel, at least when it comes to cultural orientation.
This Hellenized intellectual atmosphere was behind the Judaizers Paul faced in the churches he planted. It's almost impossible to discern historically just how much their Judaizing efforts to infest the First Century churches with that same rational approach affected things, but we see the second generation of apostolic leadership in the churches already far down the path of Hellenized philosophical assumptions. Anyone with a modicum of understanding of the history of philosophy can see that Jesus fought hard to restore the Hebraic foundations to understanding the Covenant of Moses, just as all the Old Testament prophets did before Him. The covenant nation kept wandering from that approach before the Exile.
Let's look at some very broad generalities. First, the Bible says repeatedly that our current reality is fallen. That is, what we have is not ultimate reality, but something broken, deceptive and not at all representative of what God intended. It's not that God was caught off guard by the sin in the Garden, but His planned response was to force humanity into a mortal existence that was intentionally designed to be deceptive. No matter what you do, the real truth of things is not obtainable on a human level.
Granted, it will most certainly appear to fallen humans that their broken reality is trustworthy, and that it can be discerned reliably, at least in theory. To the fallen human mind, the assumption that reality is consistent, and that there is at least the possibility of studying it with senses and reason, and formulating a valid "truth" about this fallen reality. If that were true, miracles could not exist, and the Spirit Realm could not exist.
Thus, all the miracles cited in the Bible are excluded by the common rational approach. They didn't happen, because every one of them arose from principles that exceed human perception and reasons. Scripture flatly states that the how of miracles (and curses) is not discernible by human capabilities.
However, Scripture also says that it's possible for humans to come to an understanding of how miracles work if they demote human capabilities to a position below faith. That word "faith" in the Bible is not used to indicate a body of belief or some kind of intellectual orientation. It is used to indicate a faculty higher than the sensory and reasoning capabilities.
More in the next post.
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