Tuesday, January 28, 2014

IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE by Martin Heidegger

            I don’t propose to attempt any sort of reply to Martin Heidegger in this article. The purpose of this article is to explain Martin Heidegger’s thoughts, as they are found in the book, Identity and Difference. Martin Heidegger is a difficult thinker to understand, and requires a lot of work to fully appreciate his arguments. My primary goal in this article is to introduce the reader to two very important articles written by Heidegger, and, I hope, to properly explain Heidegger’s views on Being and beings.

            This book is composed of two articles written by Martin Heidegger and translated with an introduction by Joan Stambaugh. The first article, The Principle of Identity, is “the unchanged text of a lecture given on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, for the faculty day on June 27, 1957.”[1] The second article The Onto-theo-logical Constitution of Metaphysics, is “the explication that concluded a seminar during the winter semester 1956-57 on Hegel’s Science of Logic. It has in part been revised. The lecture took place on February 24, 1957.”[2]

            The first article is essential for understanding a number of themes in the second article. In the first article Heidegger discusses what is commonly known as the Principle of Identity. Most people view this principle as the fundamental principle of logic, and, this is certainly true. What most people don’t realize is that, as Heidegger points out, this principle is primarily (both in importance and in temporal order) a principle of Being. Heidegger notes that traditional portrayal of the principle, A=A, tends to cause confusion because where as “equality” implies 2 terms, “identity” implies only 1 term. As such, he proposes that the principle of identity would be better portrayed as “A is A”. The principle of identity is then seen to refer primarily to that which is, and to truly discuss identity rather than equality. Heidegger then goes on to explain that the principle is primarily claiming that it itself is the same as it itself. Heidegger then explains the history of the notion of identity, beginning with Parmenides, who is thought to have said, “‘for the same perceiving (thinking) as well as being.’”[3] Taking off from Parmenides Heidegger discusses what it could possibly mean for thinking to be the same as, or identical to, Being. This is taken to be the claim that Being and thinking belong together. Heidegger considers what must be meant by “belonging together”, and distinguishes between two approaches to understanding the meaning. The first approach understands the phrase in terms of togetherness, and the second approach understands the phrase in terms of belonging. We are then reminded that the primary characteristic of man is that he is a thinking thing. This drives us into a discussion concerning what it means for man (a thinking thing) to belong together with Being. We are told that the primary characteristic of man, to be a thinking being, just is to be open to Being. Man, then, is primarily a being that is open to Being which is presence. Heidegger tells us that Being can only be made present by Man, but man, through the tradition of Western philosophy has forgotten Being, which has fallen into oblivion. This forgetfulness of Being is what has spawned the modern technological world in which planning and organizing beings is more important that bringing Being to presence. Being and Man are challenged by the modern technological world which brings them face to face in the beings that man secures for his plans, calculations and technology. This challenge is called, by Heidegger, the framework. This framework is where we are brought to the event of appropriation where Being and man are given over to each other, and owned by each other. This event of appropriation provides the possibility for man to truly bring Being to presence, if they are brought together, if Man and being become identical. Thus, this event provides the spring board by which, if appropriated, man will be able to leap out of the western metaphysical tradition, and truly unveil Being – experiencing Being in new ways. Heidegger hopes that the modern technological age will cause the event of appropriation in which man and Being will become identical, and therefore, in which Being will be unconcealed and brought to presence. Of course this can only happen if Man is able to shed the tradition of the West. Heidegger is sceptical that this event will happen quickly.

            The second article, though not dependant on the first article, uses some of the main concepts and ideas that are explained in the first article. In the second article Heidegger seeks to explain the onto-theo-logical constitution of Metaphysics, what this means, how it has affected Being, and why, in light of all of this, western Metaphysics has misunderstood Being. Some links between the first article and the second article include the necessity to escape the metaphysical tradition of the West. In the first article Heidegger speaks of a leap out of the tradition. In the second article he speaks of a step back. He also discusses what he calls the ontological difference, which certainly means more in light of his discussion of sameness and identity in the previous article. Finally, we also find a discussion of modern technology in the second article. In order to understand this second article we must first understand some of the key terms. Perdurance means a perpetual bearing up. Arrival means presence or being brought to presence. Overwhelming seems to carry the idea of surrounding and indwelling at the same time – perhaps a mutual grounding and being grounded. Clearing is the place that is created by the Arrival of beings in Being and the Overwhelming of beings by Being. Clearing is, in a sense, the space between Being and being that illustrates the ontological difference of Being and beings which are said to be face to face. The Ontological difference is said to be the difference between Being and beings that underlies all metaphysical thought, but which is never properly analyzed.

            When Heidegger says that Metaphysics is onto-theo-logical, he takes the time to explain what he means by this combined word. When he says that Metaphysics is theological, his claim can be divided into two main points: logical and theo. He says, “If science must begin with God, then it is the science of God: theology.”[4] Why is Metaphysics Theo-logical? Because it distinguishes Being and being, and then poses Being as the ultimate ground of all being. This concept of a first cause (ground) is then said to be God. Because Metaphysics deals with Being it is said to be ontology. Thus, Metaphysics is said to be Onto-theo-logical.

            Heidegger’s next question is, “How does the Deity enter Philosophy?” In essence, the answer has to do with man’s desires (or interpretation of the Being of being - worldview) and man’s error concerning the ontological difference. In other words, Heidegger is saying that philosophical theology is due to faulty thinking and a preconceived ideas. The first way in which God entered philosophy, according to Heidegger is through the thoughts of the thinker. He says, that if Philosophy is thinking that freely and spontaneously involves itself with beings as beings, then the Deity can only enter philosophy if philosophy requires and determines “that” and “how” the Deity will enter.[5] The idea here is that philosophy as thinking is an activity that is being actively engaged in by the thinker and which concerns beings. As such, the only way that a god of any type could enter philosophy would be if the thinker introduces God into philosophy as he considers the question of beings and Being. Heidegger’s contention is that Metaphysical thinking introduced God as the ultimate being that is the Ground of the Being of all beings, as well as the ground of his own Being.[6] This introduction could only have been due to the thinker bringing God in where there was, according to Heidegger, no need of him.

The second reason why God was introduced into Metaphysics is due to erroneous thinking on the part of the Metaphysicians who, though they were aware of the ontological difference, did not step into the difference, but created a distinction. Once God is introduced into metaphysics as the Being that grounds all beings, including himself, a barrier that is impossible to traverse is set up between beings and Being. Being (God) is seen to be the grounding ground of all beings which are in turn grounded by the ultimate ground. The ontological difference is made into a distinction.[7]

The error of the metaphysicians is to not realise that difference also implies sameness. The difference between Being and beings is not a distinction, it is not a division; rather, it is an opening. It opens up Being to man by letting him see Being in the beings. Being just is the Being of beings and is only known in beings which supremely are. This is where overwhelming and arrival come into play. Being overwhelms beings, and beings bring Being to presence. It should be said, in fact, that whereas Being grounds all beings, beings, in their own way (probably by the fact that they bring Being to presence in the fact that they are) ground Being. Thus there is a constant “circling of Being and beings around each other”.[8] When man is open to the Being of beings, Being arrives in beings. There is, here, no room for the God of philosophy, nor, even, of Christian Theology.

If it is true that Being is nothing more than the Being of beings, then, Heidegger claims, there is either no room for a first ground or cause of all that is, or that first cause is himself one of the beings which comes to presence when man is open to Being. God, then, becomes a being on the same level as all of the others – a being that is possessed by Being. Heidegger concludes, “This ground itself needs to be properly accounted for by that for which it accounts, that is, by the causation through the supremely original matter—and that is the cause as causa sui. This is the right name for the god of philosophy. Man can neither pray nor sacrifice to this god. Before the causa sui, man can neither fall to his knees in awe nor can he play music and dance before this god. The god-less thinking which must abandon the god of philosophy, god as causa sui, is thus perhaps closer to the divine God. Here this means only: god-less thinking is more open to Him than onto-theo-logic would like to admit.”[9]

If Heidegger is right, then philosophical theology is misguided and Christianity a lie. The question, of course, is just this: Is Heidegger right? The Christian philosopher and theologian is left with this question.




[1]Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (1969; repr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 21.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Martin Heidegger, The Principle of Identity, in Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (1969; repr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 27. This translation is certainly debatable.

[4]Martin Heidegger, The Onto-theo-logical Constitution of Metaphysics, in Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (1969; repr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 54.

[5]Ibid., 56.

[6]Ibid., 58-60, 70, 72. I personally see hints of the claim, of René Descartes, that God is self-causing or self-sustaining. (cf. René Descartes, First Reply by Descartes to Caterus, in The Philosophical Works of Descartes,  trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross (1911; repr., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 2:14, 15. René Descartes, Arguments Demonstrating the Existence of God, in The Philosophical Works of Descartes,  trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross (1911; repr., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 2: 55.)

[7]Ibid., 62.

[8]Ibid., 69.

[9]Ibid., 72.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A REFLECTION ON AN ELEMENT OF CLASSICAL AND PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS

A thought I just had as I am studying Van Til's "The Defense of the Faith".

There is an inverse proportion between what is most knowable in itself, and what is easiest for man, by nature, to know. One of the essential differences between classical apologetics and presuppositional apologetics is that classical apologetics begins with what is easiest for man, by nature, to know, and seeks to bring man to that which can be known by man of that which is most knowable in itself; presuppositional apologetics begins by claiming that one must presuppose that that which is most knowable in itself is true in order to truly know that which is easiest for man, by nature, to know, and then seeks to show man that even those things which are easiest for him to know only get their truest "meaning" when understood in light of that which is most knowable in itself.


Though there may be some major difficulties with one (or both) of these approaches, it is important to note that they neither contradict, nor exclude, each other. Both approaches (in at least this one element) can and should be used in any well rounded apologetics.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A PERSPECTIVE ON PERSPECTIVES ON THE ENDING OF MARK – A BOOK REVIEW

Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 views. Edited by David Alan Black. Nashville, TN: B&H Academics, 2008. 145 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-080544762-0.

            Biblical apologetics could be described as the act of giving a defense of the Christian scriptures. In order to give a reasoned critique of the Christian scriptures one needs to understand the methods, issues, and arguments surrounding the study of the biblical manuscripts, both interior and exterior critiques. One of the most important issues for the defense of the canonical Gospels is the question of the ending of the Gospel of Mark. Most textual issues have to do with word variation, or the occasional phrase, but with the Gospel of Mark we are dealing with textual variants which bring into question the entire ending of Marks Gospel (16:9-20). Of course the amount of reading that would be necessary to understand the issues is enormous, that it is important for anyone who wishes to begin researching these subjects to have access to a good introductory text which not only articulates the main difficulties, but also provides the necessary references that the interested researcher can use to further pursue his studies. This is why multiple view books, in general, are so important. This book review will be considering Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views. Due to the nature of multiple views books I will not be able to interact with the arguments that are proposed by the individual authors. This review will begin be explaining the purpose of this book, and continue by providing an overview of the authors who collaborated in this book, their respective positions and the relative use of this book.

            This book is the product of a conference that was held at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2007. The purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to the issues surrounding the final 11 verses of the Gospel of Mark (16:9-20). It seems that a number of early and reliable manuscripts do not include these verses, and the early church fathers, in general, seem to know nothing of them. However, the great majority of the extant manuscripts of Mark do include these verses, and many of the medieval theologians both accepted and argued for the authenticity of these verses. The questions that the authors of this book are attempting to answer are, “are these verses authentic (meaning, are they the original ending of Mark)? If so, among other things, why are there so many early manuscripts that don’t include it, and why would all the variations? If not, then why, among other things, do almost all later manuscripts include them? The editor, David Alan Black, has done a wonderful job of providing four different perspectives on this issue.

            The authors who participate in this book are, in the order that they appear in the book, Daniel Wallace, Maurice A. Robinson, J. Keith Elliott, David Alan Black, and Darrell L. Bock. Daniel Wallace, who is professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, presents arguments in favor of the claim that Mark intentionally ended his gospel at Mark 16:8. As such he argues that the long ending (vv. 9-20) and the other shorter variations are later non-canonical additions to the gospel. Maurice A. Robinson, who is professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, presents, in what is probably the longest chapter of the book, a multitude of arguments in favor of the claim that Mark intended for his gospel to include vv. 9-20. J. Keith Elliott, professor of New Testament Textual Criticism at the University of Leeds, argues not only that vv. 9-20 are inauthentic (and therefore later non-canonical additions), but also, that the original ending of the gospel of Mark has been lost. The fourth position is presented by David Alan Black, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Black’s position is much more nuanced than the others in that he argues, based upon some elaborate theories concerning the history of the redaction of the gospels, that the original version of the gospel of Mark (which is, in fact, the testimony of Peter, as recorded by Mark) did not include vv. 9-20, but that Mark later wrote vv. 9-20 in order to present a completed gospel record in honor of the Apostle Peter. The final essay in the book is written by Darrell L. Bock, research professor of New Testament studies and professor of Spiritual Development and Culture at Dallas Theological Seminary, with the purpose of giving a critical overview and critique of the 4 views that are presented in this book.


            The editor of this book, David Alan Black, has succeeded in providing the interested reader with a valuable introduction to the issues surrounding the questioned ending of the Gospel of Mark. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in biblical apologetics, textual criticism, or manuscript issues as a valuable introduction to a major textual difficulty. This book not only presents 4 very different views on the issue at hand, but also provides the reader with important reference material that will enable the reader to continue researching this issue. This book will be of use to anybody who is studying the gospel of Mark, or who is studying theology and desires to use the gospel of Mark in the development of their views.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A KIERKEGAARDIAN LOOK AT MODERN APOLOGETICS: A Book Review of The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner

The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context. Myron Bradley Penner. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013. 180 pp. $16.60. ISBN 978-0-8010-3598-2.

            Christian apologetics, broadly defined, is the defense of the truth of Christianity. In this definition there are three terms that need further elaboration: defense, truth, and Christianity. The vast majority of faithful Christian witnesses throughout the history of the Christian church have understood this definition of Christian apologetics as referring to the demonstration (in action and speech) of the truth (broadly understood as the notion that the truth claims of Christianity, which include claims that can be analysed by the historian, archaeologist, theologian and philosopher, when put to the test will be found to accurately reflect both past history and present reality) of Christianity (the sum total of beliefs that are believed by Christians and which affect their lives, intellects and understanding of the world).

It is no secret that both the basic philosophical assumptions that underlie this demonstration, as well as the ways in which this demonstration is carried out, have changed over the years. If we were to put brackets around the various changes we might generally note the methods and assumptions of the early and medieval church (roughly 33-1400s),[1] the methods and assumptions of the modern era (roughly 1400s-1800s), and, more recently, the methods and assumptions of contemporary Christianity (roughly 1800s-now). It should come as no surprise to realize that the different historical divisions of Christian apologetics match, roughly the historical divisions of philosophy and theology. Man is not an island unto himself, and the great thinkers of Christianity – the great theologians, philosophers and apologists – have influenced and been influenced by the other great thinkers that either preceded them or were their contemporaries. One should always be suspicious of someone who says they are not influenced by anybody other than the scriptures.[2] Myron Bradley Penner, working within this broad historical scheme, has written The End of Apologetics because he is convinced that returning to a pre-modern way of understanding Christianity is untenable, the modern understanding of Christianity is riddled with errors, and, therefore, that if Christians are to continue being true witnesses of Christ in our contemporary world, then we must embrace a post-modern understanding of our world and of Christianity. In this book review I will begin by noting the author’s purpose and basic contention, I will then note how he goes about trying to convince us of the truth of his claims.[3] Finally I will give a brief overview of the relative importance, contingent truth and subjective use of the author’s prophetic appeal.

Myron Penner does not hide the fact that he is primarily influenced by Soren Kierkegaard.[4] What he does not reveal, but which is obvious to the attentive reader, is that he is also heavily influenced by Heidegger and his followers. Penner is a thoroughly existentialist, “post-modern”,[5] thinker, who happens to accept, as true,[6] the claims of Christianity.[7] This book is essentially an attack on modern apologetics.[8] Even the inattentive reader will feel the author’s frustration with the contemporary apologetics enterprise. The overall theme of the book can be summed up as, “how we say or believe something is as important as what we say or believe.”[9] The basic argument of the book is presented in the form of a tri-lemma.[10] Penner certainly agrees with the claim that even today we need to present a defense of the Christian faith. He notes that there are three possible ways of approaching this defense: a pre-modern stance, a modern stance, or some form of post-modern stance. Penner then claims that returning to a pre-modern (pre-1400) understanding is no longer a tenable approach.[11] This would mean that we must either use the Modern approach or the Post-modern approach. Penner begins by noting that he assumes (the truth of?) a post-modern view,[12] and then spends about half of this book attempting to show that the Modern approach is not tenable. According to Penner he will not be presenting arguments, but attempting to show that the modern perspective is untenable by attempting “to make the modern apologetic paradigm look bad by using different metaphors than those it employs and, in a sense, by changing the subject in the hope that I might outflank objections by painting a picture that resonates deeply with Christians.”[13] In other words he wishes to attack the modern view a form of reductio ad absurdum. The author seeks to demonstrate that modern apologetics is based upon a faulty epistemological foundation. On this point I tend to agree with the author that modern epistemology, which can be traced back to René Descartes, and which attempts to found itself on concepts instead of Being, is bankrupt, and causes more problems than solutions. It should be noted, however, that even if modern Christian apologetics has a faulty or weak starting point, this does not mean that all of its claims are therefore false, or that that its attempts to defend the truth of Christianity are ways of denying Christ.[14] Penner proposes that the modern enterprise of apologetics is a fractured conglomeration of pre-modern claims that are held together with the glue and tape of modern epistemological categories. If, as many philosophers and historians of philosophy have been claiming for years, almost all of contemporary philosophical problems can be retraced to Descartes (and perhaps Suarez); and if modern apologetics relies upon the philosophical understanding of this world that was the direct result of Descartes philosophical system; then contemporary apologetics will be in as much trouble as contemporary philosophy. The author’s claim, in light of the above, is that Christians need, therefore, a new way of defending the faith.[15] If the Pre-modern stance and the modern stance are both untenable, then the Post-modern stance is the only stance left. The other half of the book is used to explain how Penner understands the notion of a post-modern witness to Christianity.

The book is divided into an Introduction, 5 chapters and an Epilogue. In chapter 1 Penner attacks the modern apologetics enterprise primarily by attempting to demonstrate that a number of well-known contemporary apologists, and methods,[16] are incoherent in their claims. Chapter 2 is an exposition of Kierkegaard’s view of apologetics, and his distinction between the genius and the apostle. In chapter 3 Penner begins discussing his understanding of what it means to be a Christian witness. Chapters 4 and 5 continue this discussion of Christian witness with an eye to the question of truth and the presentation of truth to others. In chapter 4 Penner revisits contemporary apologetics and attempts to show that it holds a false view of truth. In chapter 5 Penner explains how Christian witness is “political”.[17]

This book a well-written and interesting read. Unfortunately the index is not very helpful for further research, so I would advise that, if one wishes to read this book in order to understand it, the reader notes the pages on which important concepts and claims can be found. The author also brings up a number of important points concerning how Christians should interact with those who disagree with them.[18] The general theme of the book is, “how we say or believe something is as important as what we say or believe.”[19] This is a fair point,[20] and insomuch as he is discussing the importance of lovingly interacting with other as people, not as prey, but as persons, he has a lot to teach the reader. However, that being said, his argument falls prey to two major difficulties: (1) he does not successfully demonstrate that contemporary apologetics, based as it is on modern philosophy, is inherently false, and (2) he simply assumes that the pre-modern stance is untenable. As such his argument, presented in the form of a tri-lemma, fails.

It is my belief that this book sows the seeds of the destruction of the truth of Christianity. The authors’ position that truth is that which edifies, implies that only that which edifies is true. One of the questions that I would ask to such a claim is, how do you determine what truly is edifying, and what is not edifying? Is this determined by the individual person, by a society or culture, by some belief system, by Myron Penner? If we have no way of knowing what it means to edify, then we have no way of determining which beliefs edify and which don’t, and, therefore, no way of knowing which beliefs are true, and which aren’t. If this is the case, then Islam may be true, and Christianity false. Atheism may be true and all other belief systems false. The author takes on so many difficult concepts in this work that one could give an unending list of major difficulties and important questions that his work brings to the mind of the attentive reader. The author of this book would have benefited greatly from extended intentional interaction with Aquinas, and serious interaction with the Question of Being as asked by Aristotle and Aquinas.

I find that, though I enjoyed reading the book, I cannot recommend it to anyone who does not already have a good foundation in Christian philosophy and apologetics. I could see this book as a useful addition in an advanced course on apologetics and post-modern thought.


[1]The modern period is typically said to begin in the 1500s, however, it seems to me that the modern philosophical reformation would not have been possible if it had not been for the philosophical environment of the 1400s.

[2]The reality is, especially since the introduction of public schooling, that every educated person (possessing at least a basic elementary education) has been influenced by the way of thinking of those great thinkers, that either preceded them or were their contemporaries, before they even realized that they were being influenced. Not only that, but if they went to church at a young age, and were taught by a pastor or Sunday school teacher, then their way of understanding the world was influenced by these educated people whose thinking was, in turn, influenced by the great thinkers, that either preceded them or were their contemporaries. Anyone who does not study the history of thought (philosophy and theology) and who has not submitted their own thoughts to critical analysis will be enslaved to the thoughts of those who taught them in their youth, and those who continue to teach them.

[3]The irony of this sentence will be immediately evident to anybody who attentively reads this book.

[4]Myron Bradley Penner, The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2013), 13.

[5]Penner defines Post-modern as, “a kind of self-reflexive condition that emerges as modernity becomes conscious or aware of itself as modernity…a condition, or set of attitudes, dispositions, and practices, that is aware of itself as modern and aware that modernity’s claims to rational superiority are deeply problematic. (Ibid., 13.)”

[6]Truth, for Penner, is that which is edifying (Ibid., 140.). “If some piece of communication – whether an argument or a propositional assertion – is not edifying, it is not the truth. (Ibid., 41.)”

[7]According to Penner the truth claims of Christianity are, “second-order, contingent, perspectival truths that do not give us God’s perspective on himself, but nevertheless are normative for us. (Ibid., 123.) Concerning “second-order” truth, see Ibid., 114-115. Such truth is possible, but not necessarily, false. The question that I would ask at this point is, does a “truth claim” that is potentially false, qualify as truth, error or just opinion?

[8]Ibid., 4.

[9]Ibid., 140.

[10]I personally find the logical way in which he presents his arguments somewhat ironic.

[11]Ibid., 8fn19, 73-74. The author does not argue for this claim, nor explain why pre-modernity is no longer tenable. He simply claims that it is untenable.

[12]Ibid., 14.

[13]Ibid., 14-15.

[14]Ibid., 162-163.

[15]Ibid., 12.

[16]He bases his analysis of the methods of apologetics on the book edited by Steven B. Cowan, Five Views on Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000). He claims that all of the methods presented in these books are essentially modern, even presuppositionalism (Ibid., 36fn37). I would note that presuppositionalism is modern in the same sense that Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and their followers are modern. They are modern in that they accept (in some cases blindly) Kant’s critique of knowledge. In this sense Penner himself is modern. However, in a deeper sense, presuppositionalism, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Penner are all post-modern in that they all accept a hermeneutics of reality, the notion that man’s knowledge of whatever he can know is necessarily influenced by a basic set of unanalysable and untestable beliefs from which he cannot escape. That is, there is no objective (outside position) from which man can analyse or test his “worldview” or “interpretative structure”.

[17]Ibid., 139.

[18]Interestingly enough I found that the author’s way of interacting with some of the great contemporary Christian apologists (such as William Lane Craig, Douglas Groothius, etc.) was inappropriate. The author was constantly claiming that they act out of wrong motivations and intentions. He was constantly complaining that their methods of apologetics demonstrate that they don’t care about the people they are addressing as people, but only about the argument (cf. Ibid., 149-150.). It was my impression that nobody can know the motivations or intentions of another. As such Penners complaints are misplaced and inappropriate.

[19]Ibid., 140.

[20]So long as it be noted that how a person believes x is no guarantee that God will justify them. On the contrary, if x is not the gospel, then regardless of how a person believes x, they will not be saved. Therefore, there is a very important sense in which the theme of the book is, itself, false. How you believe is not nearly as important as what you believe. However, there is sense in which it is true that how you believe x will show whether or not you really believe x. For example, if belief system x claims that one must love their neighbour, and treat them as one would wish to be treated; and if I claim to believe system x; then I should love my neighbour and treat them as I wish to be treated. If I don’t do so, then my actions provide good evidence that I don’t believe system x. Note, what it means to love one’s neighbour, should not be defined by one’s neighbour.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quelques Conclusions en Rapport avec l'Appel de Dieu dans le Nouveau Testament

L’appel des Apôtres et l’appel des Croyants

Ce que le Nouveau Testament enseigne au sujet de l’appel

            Le mot appel (gr. κλητὸς) a comme sens de base, d’être invité. C’est un mot qui est utilisé en rapport avec une invitation à un souper. Par exemple, si je t’invite chez moi pour un souper, alors tu as reçu un appel (gr. κλητὸς). Donc, la notion d’appel implique, implicitement, la possibilité de refusé l’invitation. Si je t’invite pour souper tu as reçu un appel, tu pourrais toujours décliner parce que tu es occupé, ou tu sais que je ne cuisine pas bien. Donc, le mot appel (gr. κλητὸς) implique une invitation et la possibilité de l’accepté ou de le refuser. Avec cette notion nous pouvons, maintenant, regarder les écritures.

Quand on examine ce que le Nouveau Testament enseigne au sujet de l’appel on voit que ce terme est utilisé quasiment toujours pour parler d’une invitation, de l’action d’invité quelqu’un, ou du fait d’être nommé ou appelé quelque chose. (Pour voir les textes qui parle de l'appel, ainsi qu'un analyse préliminaires des textes, voit mes deux publications blogue à cette sujet: 1, 2.) La majeure partie des versets qui utilisent ce terme l’utilise pour parler de l’acte d’appeler ou inviter quelqu’un. Ceci mis de côté nous voyons qu’il y a 49 sections, d’un ou de plusieurs versets, qui parle de l’appel de Dieu. De ces 49 : 2 parle de la nature de celui qui a fait l’appelle, et ne mentionne l’appel qu’en parlant de celui qui vous a appelé;[1] 1 parle de la nature de l’appel;[2] 1 parle de la relation entre l’appel de Dieu et son dessein;[3] 2 font appel à l’appel des Juifs;[4] 10 parle du fait que les chrétiens était appelé par Dieu sans préciser rien de plus, souvent parlant seulement d’un groupe d’appelés;[5] 14 indique que Dieu appelle ceux qui ont cru en Jésus-Christ de vivre un vie sainte (parfois il parle de la sanctification, parfois de la liberté, ou de la paix);[6] 4 sections parlent de l’état d’un personne (son statut sociale, son occupation, etc.) comme un appel;[7] 8 versets parle de l’invitation de Dieu de passé l’éternité avec lui;[8] 3 parle de l’appel de Paul pour devenir un apôtre.[9] Il y a 4 autres versets qui utilisent le terme en question de façon très générale.[10]


L’appel au Salut

On peut tout de suite noter que Dieu nous invite à accepter le sacrifice de Jésus pour nos péchés, et qu’un des conséquences du fait d’accepté cette invitation/appel est la vie éternelle. Nous avons le choix de répondre à l’appel/invitation de façon négative – on peut dire « non, merci. » Il n’y a aucun verset dans le Nouveau Testament qui enseigne que seulement ceux qui vont répondre par un « oui » sont invité/appelé par Dieu. Le seul verset dans le Nouveau Testament qui parle du fait qu’on était appelé au salut est 2 Thess. 2 :13-14. « Quant à nous, frères bien-aimés par le Seigneur, nous devons continuellement rendre grâces à Dieu à votre sujet, car Dieu vous a choisis (εἱλατο) dès le commencement pour le salut, par la sanctification de l’Esprit et par la foi en la vérité. C’est à cela aussi qu’il vous a appelés (ἐκάλεσεν) par notre Évangile, pour que vous possédiez la gloire de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ. » Notez, dans ces versets, la relation entre le choix de Dieu[11] et l'appel/invitation au salut (2 Thess. 2:13). C'est intéressante à noter que le choix de Dieu est ‘dès le commencement’, ce qui fait surtout référence au fait que c'est un décision qui n'était pas pris en rapport (ou après, ou en conséquence) avec notre choix d'accepté l'invitation (2 Thess. 2:14), ce n'est pas un décision temporelle (Dieu n'est pas mesuré par le temps), donc, il n'y a aucun contradiction à dire que Dieu à choisis pour le salut, ceux qui ont choisi, de façon libre, d'accepter son invitation à être sauvé. (Le choix de Dieu est à l'extérieur du temps, le choix du croyant est à l'intérieur du temps, donc, d'un sens, le choix de Dieu et le choix de l'homme est simultané.) 

 Quand on parle des appelés comme un groupe, on fait référence à ceux qui ont répondu de façon positive à l’appel de Dieu. Ceci n’est pas un contradiction ou problème d’incohérence. Au contraire, la Bible est claire que ce n’est pas tous ceux qui sont appelé qui vont être sauvé. Seulement ceux qui répondent à l’appel vont être sauvé, et on peut nommer ces dernières « les appelés ». Il faut noter que les apôtres ont reçu un appel spécial. Ils étaient non-seulement appelé à accepter Jésus comme Dieu, et son sacrifice pour leurs péchés, mais, aussi, à devenir les messagers spéciale de Jésus à tout le monde (apôtres), et d’être la fondation de l’Église.


L’appel à un Ministère

            C’est devenu normale, dans l’église évangélique de parler d’un appel au ministère. On entend souvent, lorsqu’on considère un homme pour le ministère, des gens qui demande au sujet de son appel. On entend des questions comme : Quand as-tu reçu ton appel au ministère? Tu es appelé à quel type de ministère? Notre survol des versets du Nouveau Testament dévoile un fait intéressant : il n’y a aucun verset biblique qui soutient cette notion. Les seules versets dans le Nouveau Testament qui parle d’un appelle de Dieu au « ministère » sont en rapport avec l’appelle de Paul à être Apôtre.[12] Évidement on parle ici d’un rôle important et unique dans l’église. Après la mort des apôtres il n’a pas eu un autre Apôtre.

Les seules autres versets dans le Nouveau Testament qui semblerait avoir un rapport avec l’appelle de Dieu et notre état de vie (sociale, éducationnelle, ou occupationnelle) ne disent rien au sujet d’un appelle au ministère, ni, même, à une occupation (vocation?) quelconque.[13] Certes, ces versets lient l'appel de Dieu avec notre état dans la vie, mais, notez que notre état dans la vie n'a aucun rapport avec l'appel de Dieu. C'est à dire, Dieu aurait pu nous appeler/invité au salut, quand on était pauvre, non-éduqués, des esclaves, ou, de l’autre côté, riches, très éduqué ou propriétaires. De plus, Paul nous explique que, malgré le fait qu’on devrait être heureux (contenter) là où on se trouve, on ne devrait pas avoir aucune honte à vouloir changer notre état d’être. Nous pourrions changer notre état dans la vie si on voudrait, et ça ne changerais, du tout, l’appel de Dieu pour nous, parce que son appel est, premièrement, au salut, et deuxièmement, à la sanctification. On pourrait s'enrichir ou s'appauvrir (de façon volontaire ou involontaire), s'instruire ou négligé notre éducation, on pourrait même changer notre occupation, devenir missionnaire ou ancien (pasteur),[14] mais toutes ces changement n'affecte en rien l'appel ou invitation de Dieu pour nous.


L’appel de Dieu pour ceux qui croient dans le témoignage des Apôtres

            À quoi, alors, est-ce que nous, ceux qui croient en Jésus pour le pardon de nos péchés, sommes appelés ? Le Nouveau Testament nous donne une réponse à cette question. Nous sommes appelés à : (1) être saints,[15] (2) à vivre dans la paix,[16] (3) à la liberté,[17] (4) marché digne de notre appelle,[18] (5) à la sanctification,[19] (6) la souffrance,[20] (7) bénir les autres,[21] (8) la gloire et vertu de Jésus,[22] (9) à affermir et démontrer que nous avons répondu à l’appel et que nous faisons vraiment partie des élus.[23] On pourrait argumenter que plusieurs des buts que je viens de énuméré sont pareil, mais j’ai décidé de les énumérés de cette façon pour démontrer la variété des choses à lequel les chrétiens sont appelés. En fin du compte on voit que les croyants sont seulement appelés à émulé leur maître – Jésus le Messie. Je dis seulement, mais on comprend que c’est un gros « seulement ». Le défi est énorme. Mais celui qui s’affiche comme croyant est en train de dire, je relève le défis sachant que « Sa divine puissance nous a donné tout ce qui contribue à la vie et à la piété, en nous faisant connaître celui qui nous a appelés (καλέσαντος) par [à] sa propre gloire et par [à] sa vertu. »[24] Celui qui n’est pas prêt à relever ce défi ne devrait pas se dire croyant !



[1]Cf. 1 Thess. 5:24, 2 Tim. 1 :9.

[2]Cf. Rom. 11 :29.

[3]Rom. 8 :28-30.

[4]Cf. Rom. 9 :26, Héb. 11 :8.

[5]Cf. Rom. 1 :6, 9 :24, Gal. 1 :6, Héb. 3 :1, 5 :4, Jac. 2 :7, 1 Pie. 2 :9, 1 Jn. 3 :1, Jude 1, Apo. 17:14.

[6]Cf. Rom. 1 :7, 1 Cor. 1 :2, 1 Cor. 7 :15, Gal. 5 :13, Éph. 4 :1, Col. 3 :15, 1 Thess. 2 :12, 1 Thess. 4 :7, 1 Pie. 1 :15, 1 Pie. 2 :20b-21, 1 Pie. 3 :8-9, 2 Pie. 1 :3, 2 Pie. 1 :10, 2 Thess. 1 :11.

[7]Cf. 1 Cor. 1 :26, 7 :17, 7 :20, 7 :21-24. Il faut noter que, dans 1 Cor. 7, Paul parle de l’état de la personne au moment qu’il était sauvé. Il conseil que si le personne (par exemple un esclave) à l’opportunité de changé son état, qu’il le prenne, si non, qu’il soit heureux là où il est.

[8]Cf. 1 Cor. 1 :9, Éph. 1 :18, 4 :4, Phil. 3 :14, 2 Thess. 2 :13-14, 1 Tim. 6 :12, Héb. 9 :15, 1 Pie. 5 :10.

[9]Cf. Rom. 1 :1, 1 Cor. 1 :1, Gal. 1 :15-16a.

[10]Cf. Mt. 22:14, 1 Cor. 1 :23-24, Gal. 5 :8, Héb. 2 :11.

 [11]Un autre sujet qu’on va devoir aborder plus tard, mais qui est lié à la question de l’appel de Dieu au salut.

[12]Cf. Rom. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:15-16a.

[13]Cf. 1 Cor. 1 :26, 7 :17, 7 :20, 7 :21-24.

[14]Paul nous explique, en 1 Tim. 3 :1, « Cette parole est certaine : si quelqu’un aspire à la charge d’évêque, il désire une belle activité. ». Tu n’es pas ancien/évêque/pasteur, mais tu veux l’être? Tu désires une bonne chose, maintenant, pour être ancien, tu dois qualifier. Tu dois être dans une communauté de croyants, et tu dois avoir tous les qualifications listé en 1 Tim. 3 :1-7 et Tite 1 :5-9. Une chose que tu n’as pas besoin est un appel!

[15]Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1 :2, 1 Pie. 1 :15.

[16]1 Cor. 7:15, Col. 3 :15.

[17]Gal. 5:13.

[18]Éph. 4:1, 1 Thess. 2:12, 2 Thess. 1:11.

[19]1 Thess. 4:7.

[20]1 Pie. 2:20b-21.

[21]1 Pie. 3:8-9.

[22]2 Pie. 1 :3.

[23]2 Pie. 1:10.

[24]2 Pie. 1:3. J’ai ajouté en lettres gras le mot « à », parce que le mot « par » qu’on retrouve dans plusieurs traductions n’est pas présente dans le texte grecque. Le mot qui se trouve dans les textes grecques peut être traduit soit « par » ou « à ». Étant donné le contexte d’1 Pie. 1 :3-10, je crois que la meilleur traduction est « à ». Donc, ce verset devrait dire, « Sa divine puissance nous a donné tout ce qui contribue à la vie et à la piété, en nous faisant connaître celui qui nous a appelés (καλέσαντος) à sa propre gloire et à sa vertu. » comme on le voit traduit dans l’English Standard Version, « His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. »