Panel Discussion 2
A panel of four philosophers and theologians discuss the application of hermeneutics to the subject of human composition. The panel responds to questions from their audience and considers what the biblical boundaries are when drafting philosophical positions on the subject.
Okay, Professor Green so, you’ll have the first opportunity to respond.
Well, first of all, let me say thank you to Doug. I have to say that I had no idea [all laugh] of our history. I was actually, we’re working on the second edition of The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels right now and so I’ve recently reread your essay and now I know [all laugh] this is the Doug who wrote the essay so thank you so much for all of the history that we’ve shared. There are a couple of things that I might talk about.
One issue is an issue of language and I’m interested in hearing both from Doug and from John on that score. Because I’m happy to be instructed on what better language to use. It seems to me that my language monism is problematic, but it’s problematic in ways that I don’t understand. That is, it’s problematic in ways, the responses don’t strike at the root of what I’m trying to say and for that reason, I wonder what is that you hear me saying that I don’t mean to say. And one of those things in particular that’s interesting, Doug, is you seem to think that I want to leave the sum of the body in the same state it was under a dualistic notion.
But if I take Soma body, the way I understand scripture in the New Testament to use it, then I can’t any longer thing of Soma in the same way. It’s one of the things that Bill Hasker talks about from time to time when he talks about the incredible things the body can do. Which the body under certain dualisms could never do. And the Soma, my understanding of New testament theology, is actually capable of far more things.
And I don’t know how to say that in a way that you guys hear. And so that’s one issue that I’d really like to have some conversation about. I don’t also, understand, Doug, it must be that I haven’t communicated well with regard to how to read Matthew 10:28. The idea that I would be suggesting that we read Matthew 10:28 per Luke, is something that I would never imagine doing. I said that only by way of saying that if one takes Matthew 10:28 as a reference from the historical Jesus, one runs into the immediate problem of the language issue and the two versions of the saying.
And if you take the Lutheran version as a representations of the historical Jesus, then Matthew 10:28 has to be understood in a different way. So somehow I haven’t communicated that well enough because you take issue with what I was actually offering as a nonsense case. The other issue that I’m not sure what you’re going to do with, with Matthew 10:28, is that it doesn’t support your view of the afterlife. It has both body and soul in Gehenna. That would not be a traditional anthropological perspective.
We disagree on the intermediate state but only you and I know that because you weren’t able to read that part of the essay. And I also have to say I don’t understand what to make of your talk about the second person of the trinity. I don’t know why my position introduces a Holy Ghost in a machine. Actually here, your position, is one of the earliest heresy’s thrown out. So I can’t imagine that’s what you’re trying to say. But the idea that there is an ontological unity in the material substance or the spiritual substance sounds like what some try to argue in the fourth century of a body that did not have a soul but had the Divine Logos. And that’s the heresy I’m talking about.
The view that’s put forward in the creeds is that Jesus is 100% human, 100% God, not part this or part that. And so I’m not sure how it is that my view is problematic and I’m not sure how your view isn’t. So I’d like to hear you say more about that. But more than anything else I appreciate the fact that you see that one of the issues we’re dealing with is what to make of texts. What to make of the larger issues. And if I could, just say one thing related to the conversation that just went on between you two.
One of the points that I think is important to make on the Hermeneutical end of things, is that science is not a new thing that people are now reading scripture from the perspective of. Science was also a perspective from which scripture was being read in the second century, in the third century, in the fourth century.
It isn’t naturalistic science. It isn’t what we today call science based on the new science that was introduced in the 17th century. But was Philo was doing, was what do you call it? Philosophical, theological science. He was reading Genesis 1:27 from the perspective of the science that he embraced. And so it’s not the case that people ever escape the scientific perspectives from which they operate. The question is, and this goes along with what you were saying, John, who’s Hermeneutic and so on. The question is, who’s science? Because science is always there. Whether we were noticing, expecting or not. So that’s an issue that I’d like for us to discuss as well.
Well, so we want to have John to have a chance to respond to Jason. Maybe let’s do that first and then we’ve got that done. And then I guess, Doug, wanna know if you have thoughts and response. John, you have thoughts and response. And we wanna get the audience in too. So maybe we’ll start with you responding to Jason.
Do I need to use the hand mic? Thanks. Yeah, I want to thank Jason for his comments. They were generous and they were perspective. So giving me the benefit of the doubt even when I perhaps, didn’t deserve it from the text. Let me just say a couple of things. I don’t want, in any way, to hermetically seal off the biblical worldview from science and philosophy.
I just don’t want them getting confused ’cause Joel is right that often people have tried to say, the Bible teaches and now it turns out to be Cartesianism, or Platonism or Aristotelianism or something like this. I don’t want that. And it’s the wrong way to read scripture. But scripture is realistic and it does give us a worldview and I think it’s in the biblical worldview that we had something that’s universal, it’s cross cultural, and it endures through the ages.
And that’s the framework from which we do science. In my tradition, Abraham Piper is the Christian worldview from which we engage in the sciences and in philosophy. But we don’t think the Bible gives us a straightforward philosophy so I was trying to make that distinction. So cut off some, perhaps wrong, philosophical and, or, scientific readings of the Bible in your sense, Joel. I’m not sure that I’m always, I mean, I’m a Westminster confession that way, I think the Bible is the final authority and I’m just gonna confess that ahead of time.
And so I’m not going to agree quite that those serve as privilege, take priority when conflicts arise. My Bible’s gonna be right unless it’s showed to be wrong. And maybe some, I mean okay, the age of the Earth or whatever it is. People don’t read it that way. There were times when, I don’t care what science says, I’m gonna stick to something. I’m sticking to historical Adam and Eve right now even though I know all about the out of Africa kind of hypothesis and that stuff.
And Christian physicists and cosmologists had to do that for a very long time when physics said the universe is everlasting. Didn’t have a beginning. I mean, we got off the hook in the 1950’s and 60’s when the Big Bang came along and everybody breathed a collective sigh of relief. But before that, Christian, intelligent, scientifically trained Christians just needed to bite the bullet and confess creation ex nihilo no matter what science said. And I’m stickin’ with them. But what you say about the integration, and I mean that’s very, very good. And at the time I would’ve said it so I thank you for that.
Okay, so Doug and John, did you want to have a little interaction with Joel about the things that he raised?
Sure, yeah. I’ll try to respond to some of Joel’s questions. The language question that Joel also pitched to John. I’ll go first on that. I guess my concern is to use our terms more carefully. I don’t mind your use of the term monism. The idea that humans are made of one substance. My objection was it sounds like when you use the phrase, the essential unity of human existence, that that was interchangeable with the word monism.
Now, indeed, monism may be is interchangeable with that phrase but that phrase is not only and always equal to monism. All that to say, is I think a dualist can insist upon the essential unity of human existence. So the widespread New Testament scholarship trend is to focus on the essential unity of human existence does not mean that they’re all monists now. And it’s why I’ve liked John’s, the title for your position, which looks like it changed. It used to be holistic dualism. Now it’s dualistic wholism. [laughing]
It was pointed out to me that scripture does emphasize unity first. Not like Joel, but if it came from Joel, I would’ve accepted it. I would’ve accepted it.
So I think, I kind of like that we’re all together on that idea. That monism doesn’t have the corner on the unity market. So that’s what I was getting at in that language issue. The interpretation of Matthew 10:28. There’s two legs to that verse. Matthew 10:28 the passage that says, don’t be afraid of those who can kill a body but cannot kill the soul. Instead fear him who can destroy both the body and the soul in hell.
It’s interesting, I think you’re right. So, monists have trouble with the first leg and dualists will have trouble with the second leg of that passage. But a full bodied history, yeah, it’s kind of funny. A full-bodied, a robust, holistic dualism, actually believes that second leg pretty strongly because we think that there’s a general resurrection and people will suffer bodily in hell. So I don’t think it’s as problematic as it might look on the surface.
And then, I’m sorry. I was running out of time and so I rushed through my stuff on the incarnation. Which is, given church history, is a terrible thing to rush through. Your explanation of incarnation. So I’m sorry about that. What I was trying to get at is, dualism, understanding human composition as containing both physical and non physical components has a place for the incarnation to happen. If Jesus of Nazareth was only a physical person, then how did the non physical, second person of the trinity, get in there?
And that’s where Gilbert Ryles, ghost of the machine, dualism, actually comes to rest on a monistic view. I think that on monistic account, Jesus of Nazareth was a full human without the second person of the trinity being there. And the second person of the trinity gets in there. Then what is his death experience? The body part dies and the spirit part gets whisped away. But on a dualist account where Jesus of Nazareth is 100% human and 100% divine, when he dies the spiritual and physical parts are violently rendered apart from one another.
That’s what death is. So now the second person of the trinity does experience death. It’s not just the spirit part whisping away but it’s a true death. So I wasn’t trying to commit any heresy like some people might suggest that monism is more likely to be slipping into one of the historic heresy’s. Did that help? [laughing]
Well, we can debate that.
Let me respond to Joel. I have an issue
The language you’re using apart is already problematic as a description of the incarnation. But I’m not sure we’re gonna solve that issue here.
So the features or aspects or yeah, yeah.
Joel, what you call monism, I think I agree with almost without qualification. I would have a problem if you think that means that constitutionally there couldn’t be two inputs to constitute one substance. Aristotle is a monist in the sense that a human being is a single thing. But form and matter are metaphysically irreducibly different and so he’s a dualist with respect to constituent development, whatever you want to call.
Although he’s a monist with respect to one substance. So monism gets used in a whole bunch of different ways. My big problem, as you know, is when monism means that it’s not possible for persons to exist immaterially. Then I think it conflicts with scripture and I don’t think that a lot of monism or all momisms entail that. I mean, I think that Dean Zimmerman, the fissure thing, whatever you think of that as science and philosophy would be a form of monism where an intermediate state where personal dichotomy would be possible.
And so for monism to just entail the denial of an intermediate state, or even the possibility of an intermediate state, that’s a Greek idea, man. I just think that’s all confused. But with respect to the unity of human nature and the unity of the human life and the unity of human ministry. I mean, when you write about that stuff I totally agree with you. So maybe that’s what I mean by wholism or integral. But I think that’s where the tradition was.
I mean, St. Augustus said the soul as a whole is in every part of the body, in every hair follicle. And Thomas Aquinas would’ve said the same thing. And when I read 16th and 17th and 18th century and 19th and 20th century reformed dogmaticians from my own tradition. I mean the emphasis on unity and integration and where these things start and the other one stops is so totally different. When I hear you criticize traditional dualists who are tricotomists, I would totally agree that people who read the Bible like that, that’s kind of odd. I just don’t think that most of the tradition did that. Certainly not in my tradition.
In fact, there’s a Dutch synod. A Dutch reformed synod around 1650 that condemned a cart because he was too rationalist and he was too dualist. This is a Dutch reformed synod at a church. They wanted much more integration spiritually, in terms of ministry in the world. So in our tradition, Piper, Mather, these guys, every square inch in Christian newspapers and universities and everything, they’re dualists. And there was just never any problem with this. Matthew, I don’t see what the problem is because there’s a resurrection to judgment. Book of Revelation. So that’s what it means when God destroys both body and soul in Gehenna. You get eternal death body and soul.
There are people in this life that can just kill you but your soul can go to be with the Lord or it can go to the holding pen for Gehenna. But then there’s a final resurrection to judgment. Now Matthew doesn’t go into all that stuff. But as you know, there are at least some in second temple Judaism that hold that view. And Matthew is consistent with that view as it is with a kind of a monism or anything like that. I don’t think it’s any more trouble for dualist than it is for monist. Was there anything else?
I’m not sure. We’ll keep going and see.
Do you want to? So Joel, do you want to respond and I’ll open it up to
Well, let me say one thing that occurs to me as I listen to John. One of the issues between John and me is that I’m not reformed.
John: Yet. [laughing] Those who be called be sanctified and those
When you talk about the doctrinal tradition, you’re talking about the reformed tradition more than you are talking abut my Wesleyan tradition.
Yeah, I mean, I’ve read Wesley. Look, you want to know what my name is? John Wesley.
There is hope.
John Wesley. [laughing] But I’m a Calvinist, okay? Well, Wesley, I mean.
But the 39 articles of our church don’t address, for example, the intermediate state in the way that your tradition requires an intermediate state.
Well, they just took it’s truth for granted. [laughing]
Well, we’ve got moving microphones and I’m sure plenty of you have questions. I see questions in back there. Here’s Richard. Go ahead, Richard.
Thank you. I wonder if the speakers would become a little clearer about what they think they’re doing by having new takes. I think a lot of what they said suggested they are trying an intermediate state, one, defined original meaning of the text. Now, if that’s right, then it’s highly ambiguous because then what’s counts is the text and it depends on who is supposed to be its author.
If the text, as we all know, the Bible is put together by little snippets being added to another snippets being put together into streams being put together into books being put together into an Old Testament and so on. And the meaning of a passage is going to depend on what larger hole it seemed to belong to. So as it were, just to take one example, the prophecy of Isaiah. A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. In it’s original meaning I suppose this was the prophecy to King Ahab that he would bear a son.
But if it’s seen as part of a larger Bible and quoted by Matthew is it, as having a certain, having application to Christ and this is seen as a whole book then? Does this later part tells us how it’s supposed to be interpreted. That’s what it means. And then, secondly, it all depends on who you think the author of a part is. If you think it’s the human writer who wrote it down then it’s gonna mean one thing. Because you interpret a text in the light of the beliefs of who you believe to be the author.
Because if you know the author believes so and so, and the text seems to be pretty incompatible with that, you interpret the text in a metaphorical sense. Okay. So the text is gonna mean one thing if you think it’s written by Isaiah and quite another thing if you think it’s written or inspired by God. Because God knows certain things that Isaiah doesn’t know. Now, coming to the particular issue at stake, which is the compatibility of certain things in the Bible with certain philosophical, scientific issues about the nature of human beings. Now, God presumably knows the answer to these questions.
And if you think the text was written by God, although superficially he thought it was written by someone else who had rather less good news. You wouldn’t interpret it as in terms of the human authors view, you would interpret it in the light of God’s view and you would see this as a rather unsatisfactory why or a metaphorical way or having some other meaning, then what you would interpret it as having if you thought a human author was doing this. Now, so it all depends on what you think you’re doing by humaneutics. And this is brought out, for example, very clearly in Augustine’s approach to scripture. And let’s take his commentary on Genesis. His commentary on Genesis, the one day in the [mumbles].
What he is investigating here is the compatibility of the opening chapters of Genesis with what, on the whole, he believed, on the basis of Greek science. And there are certain passages which are superficially incompatible with Greek science and he tries to reconcile them. But he says, in a very crucial point. He said, should he turn out, the Greek science really does establish so and so. He doesn’t say we must reinterpret scripture. He says that would show what scripture originally meant. That would show what God meant by the scripture.
So, I wonder if perhaps, if you would invite us as to what you are doing when you are trying to find the original meaning of the text. Because there are various ways in which you might understand original meaning of the text.
Well, yeah. It’s why my paper, alone was 40 minutes. Couldn’t do much more than scratch the surface. But the problems you pose are genuine problems but they certainly have been understood by the hermeneutical tradition. There’s a distinction between trying to find out what Isaiah meant or if they’re in a particular passage and if you think there are multiple authors to Isaiah. The point would be that somebody redacted the text and put it together so that we have a single canonical book.
And now the job is whatever was meant by the individual authors, it forms a hole. A contextual whole. And then you try to interpret all the verses and the light and the whole structure of the book. But the tradition never played off God the Holy Spirit from the human authors. In fact, the scripture says that God inspired. All scripture is inspired of God and the text, right. And so one tries to read the book as having a certain, a particular book as having integrity. But then the book within the canon as a whole all the wile assuming that God the Holy Spirit is behind the whole process.
And that’s the movement form exegesis to the interpretation of scripture as a whole. And if the New Testament takes and and Old Testament text, it could be both true that it meant one thing at the Old Testament, and by God’s providence and the inspiration of scripture, it means what Matthew says it means in the New Testament. And so it goes with the views of all and with everything. And then it’s the interpretation of the church.
Because God gives scripture through the church. Jesus didn’t hand the New Testament to Peter just before he ascended into heaven. He went into heaven and then he inspired the scriptures and the church put canon together and the church interprets the canon and I think the church is wrong in interpreting scripture is really quite important. Even though I’m a Protestant, [Richard mumbling]
Richard: The human author might be confused about what this text means.
I don’t disagree with that.
I said, I don’t disagree with that.
All right. Well in that case, the human author, if you are trying to find out what the human author meant by and you acknowledge God as the inspirer of scripture they’re not dictating every word, and therefore the human author might have one understanding and God might have another understanding.
I sure thought that what you should be looking for is what God meant by the scripture not what the human author meant. A pardonable way to find that out is to find out God’s other beliefs. And if God knows the truth about my body, when we have discovered and to the extent that we have discovered that we’ve discovered something about God’s beliefs. And so something about what God meant by the text.
Well, see I don’t disagree with that either. And in my paper, I mean maybe I wasn’t quite articulate, but I don’t ever think that I referred to what the human author meant. What I asked was what the text meant at the time when it was written. So maybe we have knowledge of an author, maybe we have knowledge of the communities interpretation.
But in the end, if I think that God inspired the text then it’s really what God intends to teach through the text, then that I did say when I, in the section, when I moved from individual exegesis to the formulation of biblical doctrine as a whole then it’s what God intends to teach the church for all time and all places. So as complicated as getting the right answer to these questions is, the Christian tradition has had a good solid method and I think a good view of the conclusions of that method when it works. And I think that we assume that it works really quite regularly and how we should stick with the church as taught until we have really good reason to give it up.
Let me just say one more thing about this where I might disagree with you. I’m not sure. And that is, it sounds to me like I can have access to God’s mind without referencing scripture and what I’d like to say is that scripture is part of how we know God’s mind though God has more books, as it were, than scripture. God has the book of the world he’s created.
So I’m not sure that I want to go all the way down the road with you on this one. I think of Luke, for example, my favorite example. Luke likes to say that we interpret scripture by means of God’s purpose, God’s boule, his agenda. But Luke also understands that we know God’s purpose through scripture so that there’s a circularity at work between what God has appurposed and how we understand scripture.
So what we need is an authorized hermenute who turns out in the gospel of Luke to be Jesus whom we trust as one who understands God’s purpose and therefore reads scripture well and therefore understands God’s purpose and therefore reads scripture well. So I want to ensure that my hermeneutic includes not only the kind of issues you might have been thinking about but also scripture itself.
Let’s let Tim into the conversation in back.
All right. My question is also a hermeneutical question. It’s different from, but I think complimentary to Richard’s. His is more of a kind of full scale assault whereas I’m trying to poke a little bit I think at John. In the first instance, just because your paper talked about this, bu I’d be happy for others to address it too.
It’s just the question, can you allow space for an author of scripture to either express or possibly intimate a view on something, including human nature as a particular case, where that not be something that’s being taught by scripture? Even though it is being expressed by the author in scripture or perhaps better hint to that. So an example would be the writer, early chapters of Genesis, I think there’s clear, very strong reason to think there’s an expression or intimation of the three storied universe conception, but we don’t think scripture teaches that.
And I’m not saying all of your case for what Paul’s anthropology could easily fall into that model, but in some cases I’m just worried that you would want to point to certain text where you’re saying, look, it’s clear Paul’s probably thinking along these lines. But it’s not clear to me that we’ve got to immediately conclude, ah, that’s being taught by scripture. The way to think about human beings.
No, I think that’s an important distinction and I would certainly conceive that. I think the formula is that scripture is infallible and true in all that it teaches. And now that raises the hermeneutical question, well, what does it teach? And so then we go back through the circle again. And Jason is right. Sometimes when we learn things about science then it does help us figure out what scripture actually meant.
And I think that’s what Augustine meant with respect to Greek science in the early chapters of Genesis as well. I mean, I’m not a recent creation. It’s okay. I think the universe is as old as the scientists say that it is and it has unfolded and developed and all that sort of thing. And the Genesis writers had no idea about that and neither did Saint Paul. But I still think that they do teach that God has structured the universe and God placed humans at the center of the universe as a mediator between heaven and earth in a certain way.
And that’s what imaging God is about and having dominion and reflecting glory back to God. And those things are enduring teachings and they would apply as true no matter what the scientific worldview is. There’s lots of things. I, myself, I know that Paul would not have allowed women to be ordained. I myself, understand scripture in such a way that that might not be the enduring teaching of scripture for once and for all.
I mean, that looks to me a little bit, I don’t want to get into that or get anything going but I’m giving you an illustration of many things that I think at in scripture. But just ’cause it’s in scripture or Paul thought this, that doesn’t mean that that’s infallible. But there are ways of trying to identify what he teaches and what he doesn’t. And we just don’t always agree about that.
Okay. There’s a hand up. Ah, there we go. Go ahead, you, yeah.
Yeah, thank you for Professor Cooper or any of you who don’t. I’m a missionary to Jewish people and a specialist in Jewish studies though no in this area of the Hebraic view of human nature, human anthropology so much. But I’m researching and wanting to write an essay on recovering the Hebraic roots of the faith, both to build bridges with the Jewish people, but also for our own sake in the church.
Do you think it’s accurate to construct a Hebraic holism as a view of human nature, to call it Hebraic Holism. Is there enough Hebraic worldview in scripture that we can call it Hebraic and have it be an accurate, biblical worldview, objectively, of human nature. Is there a Hebraic, holistic, view of human nature. Or do we have to call it something else beyond Hebraic?
Well, that’s a really interesting question. Because if you read the Old Testament and then you do anthropological studies, I mean this sort of animism that you find in many tribal cultures and pretty literate societies and that sort of thing, would be quite similar to this sort of holism that is Hebrew.
So that doesn’t mean it’s not uniquely inspired or normative or something like this. It’s just that we overdo the uniqueness of this sometimes. Quite a few Greeks that also have an animistic view and it’s much less, I mean Plato, and Parmenides and Pythagoras were exceptions to the Greek. You know, Greek and dualism is a bad mistake. The dualists among the Greek’s were also in the minority as far as I can tell. Professor Swinburne knows a lot more about the history of philosophy than I do. So we have to be real careful with this.
But then, once again, if you want to construct this thing. I mean, I am in conversation with at last two rabbi’s, one very conservative and the other rather liberal. And you’re gonna get two different versions of what Hebraic holism stands for. Joel’s gonna agree with me on that. There’s the different Jewish traditions and they weren’t even at the time of Jesus. I mean, the Sadducee’s and the Pharisees didn’t agree on this.
So we have to be careful, once again, developing large abstractions and then finding them in the text. I totally agree with that. And we’re all prone to it and it’s an ongoing process of trying to purify our souls from those things but Hebrew Holism versus Greek dualism or anything other thing like this is just an abstraction. It never really existed.
Okay. In back, yeah.
Attendee: I have a question for Professor Green. I have a question regarding your comment on Matthew 10:28, a verse that prima facie support dualism. I remember, if I remember correctly, you made a point that this verse can be taken to represent Christ’s views because Christs language was Aramaic whereas the Matthew passage was written in Greek. But my question is why can’t we just extend this same reasoning to all the sayings of Christ such that we’ll end up with agnosticism with the respect to what Christ’s views actually were.
Agnosticism. If you universalize that. [mumbles]
Oh, if I understand your question correctly, you’re maybe suggesting that I have a slippery slope argument. And you may remember from my comment that I said, one can’t take this text simply as the word’s of Jesus of Nazareth.
And the word simply there is the important word. If one wants to talk about what Jesus actually said, then a good bit more work needs to be done than simply quoting an English translation of a Greek text that presumably is representing an Aramaic saying. That’s all I was trying to say. That it’s not simply the case that one can read off of the English text that uses the word soul and assume therefore that Jesus is a body soul dualist.
This gentleman in front has had his hand up for a little while. Maybe we can get him. Right.
This remarking question is directed to all the speakers. Your papers have treated us to the sits-oom-laven of this New Testament scriptures. The methodology of Herman Unix. Intellectual history. Now for those of us who are interested in the bottom line. Yes or no, is there a discernible philosophical anthropology in the New Testament scriptures? Is there a philosophy of mind that the New Testament scripture teaches or is
Is there a philosophy in mind did you say?
[Dark Haired Attendee] Yes.
I don’t think that there is one explicitly taught. And I’m going to be open to the philosophers to say whether one is entailed by what scripture teaches. My own view is that there are several different philosophical views, okay. Augustine and Aquinas and maybe the fissure view or whatever it is.
There’s several of ’em that would be consistent with both the sort of, Joel’s monism or my holism or integral existence on the one hand. And then what I want an intermediate state before final resurrection would be consistent with both. If that’s the actual redemptive narrative of what happens to us them we have to have a metaphysics about human nature that doesn’t undercut that. But whether at the end of the day there’s just one philosophical position that captures that, I’m not convinced of that yet.
Or maybe it’s like this, that we’ve got to put all the philosophical views side-by-side and then see whether one is better than the other ones on all other issues and also this issue. And then that would be the philosophical position that has king of the hill because it would be warranted by scripture and it would be warranted by philosophical reason. And philosophers who are reasonable people would all be able to see that it was. [Dark Haired Attendee Mumbles]
Not a, if you mean by a philosophical of Cartesianism versus Kantianism versus Husserl versus, you know, William James verses, no, no, no, no, no. The Bible is not that specific.
I quite agree. I think the reality is that philosophy of mind has developed categories that are actually quite alien to the thought processes that we find going on in the New Testament. The reason that I use the simple term, what I think is a simple term, monism, is that I think it is compatible with a range of possibilities that are represented by various viewpoints. Whether that’s, I forget who’s name it is, deep physicalism, I have colleagues who think that non-reductive physicalism is the appropriate response.
I have colleagues who think about emergent monism and I think that monism is compatible with a whole range of things. In fact, I think that the that work I try to do, is mostly a way of pushing aside the far right and the far left of the choices that are available to us today so that in spite of what appear to be differences between myself and say, John Cooper, we’re actually much closer to each other in the middle than either of us is to the other end of the spectrum.
John: I agree.
That we’re apart of. And I’m quite happy to say the New Testament is supportive of those kinds of things even if I disagree with John on details. In part because I think the New Testament doesn’t speak with the kind of, single, philosophical voice that would satisfy my philosophical friends in the 21st century.
[Dark Haired Attendee] Let me ask a question. What is, I’m going to make it as simple as possible. What is our hope? What is our resurrection? What is gonna happen? When I die, let’s make this as simple as possible, when I die, what does the scripture teach?
You are going to be with the Lord. [laughing] [clapping] See, but that’s not philosophy. That’s the gospel, man. It’s true. It’s real. It’s ontic but it’s not ontology. So Heidegger distinguishes between ontic and ontology. This is not theory. This is not philosophy.
This is just the truth of the matter. Now exactly what that’s going to be like, I don’t know. My mother’s there. She used to ask me when I was writin’ a book, John, what’s gonna happen, you know? To try to tell her. My mother passed away. Now my mother knows. She’s with the Lord and she could write the book. [laughing]
John, let me ask you. One way of hearing you is that you think the scripture is committed to a future resurrection and an intermediate state. And there are different philosophical anthropologies that can accommodate that data. Some of which are monistic, materialists, others are more dualist. Is it? Are we hearing your right?
I think that’s right. See, I would still prefer. I mean, non reductive is really necessary because the phenomenology of consciousness and just empirical. The distinction that Professor Swinburne started with this morning. I mean, that’s absolutely not overcomeable. And any kind of monism is gonna have trouble with this. Now whether you get two substances from that I don’t know. I do prefer kind of a dual dimension or dual ingredient or however you’re gonna go. There’s a lot of good reasons for philosophical dualism.
But those are philosophical issues. And I’m interested in them, and I used to work with them, but I’ve become a theologian. And so now I’m coming at it from the other side. I’m trying to be as clear as I think I can be about what scripture teaches. And there’s nothing original in what I say. I mean, it’s basically what the tradition has been saying all along in a variety of ways. But that’s, when you die, you are immediately in the presence of the Lord. Whatever that is like. And then, when it’s time for the resurrection, however the two times are related, that’s what’s going to happen.
[Dark Haired Attendee] You say you will be with the Lord. [mumbling]
Wait. You got a body double or? [Dark haired attendee mumbling question] Well I’m not sure any philosophy is being presupposed by that statement. You have some idea about who you are? I mean, you know who you are, right? I don’t know you yet. We haven’t met. [Dark haired man mumbled response] Okay, well, maybe you don’t need a theologian maybe you need to talk to somebody else. [laughing]
John, there was one line in your paper that I think speaks to this gentleman’s question. You said, there’s no single passage of scripture that covers all the data, that provides all the information for a full-bodied, philosophical answer to the anthropological composition question. But you did say that you thought your holistic dualism, or dualistic holism, holistic dualism is the. You thought that your view.
Closer. Closer to [mumbles] so I want holism.
That you suggested that your view is the one that most easily handles all the snippets of scriptural data. Now you didn’t’ say it that way.
No, I said the ecumenical Christian.
Yeah, yeah, right. So I think that is getting at this gentleman’s question.
Yeah, but I don’t take that to be philosophical. I take that to be the church’s creed based on its reading of scripture. But this is realism. [Dark haired attendee mumbling question] No, it’s not the church’s creed. It’s Thomas’ elaboration of his own philosophical articulation of the Christian faith. But he starts from scripture.
And he comments on Lombard and so this is like four levels removed from the doctrine of the church. He doesn’t contradict it he explicates it. But I’m not quite sure that, you know, Thomas’s notion of the subtle body that’s going to be able to sort of float around and stuff like this, is the way it’s gonna be. I mean, that looks to me like it’s a little Aristotelian science in there, a little.