I guess I can see that. Not sure I'm still not sure I'm totally on board with the whole rationally explaining the Trinity, however I think I see what you're saying. (that's it's not irrational, like square circle?)
That's exactly what I'm saying. One way I've described Christian doctrine is that often times we are left with explaining three things:
1) A belief is not self-contradictory or in contradiction to another belief
2) We explain the "what"
3) We explain the "why"
Very, very, very rarely can we explain the "how," and when it comes to God's interactions or God's nature, we can never
explain the how. That is where scholasticism fails is that it often times attempts to explain the how
. Look at the Incarnation:
"What" is the Incarnation? It is Jesus Christ having both a Divine nature and human nature. "Why" the Incarnation? For the salvation of humanity. Can I show the Incarnation to be non-contradictory? Yes. "How" did the Incarnation occur? I don't know.
So when we look to the Trinity, essentially the only thing we can do is explain that the Trinity is not contradictory and that should God be absolutely loving, a Trinitarian concept is a necessary belief (Swinburn offers possibly the best explanation on this issue that I've ever seen). Beyond that, however, there's not much we can say - and even in our aforementioned explanations, we're still approaching the issue apophatically.
Good points on both counts. I guess I'm more in line with the idea that "losing" a debate is sometimes more important because it shows we are firm enough in our faith to admit "we don't know" and to just say, I believe this by faith, not because it is provable beyond any reasonable doubt. I know people who doubt the Resurrection, or God's existence, as I have at times in my life, and I know non-Christians (people of other faiths) who just don't see the "proof" we people like Craig often claim. I've found that the most open dialogue is to admit, "I believe this because it is faith, not blind faith, but in the end it is faith". That's what I don't like about some apologists is that they are so darn certain they are right, that you should be convinced simply based on the fact THEY are convinced. At least how that's how they come off. Where as I think the best we can do is to lay down our reasons and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Hope that makes sense.
That makes perfect sense and that was actually Francis Schaeffer's approach to apologetics, which is why I wish more Protestant apologists (and Roman Catholic apologists) would follow in his footsteps. Rather than laying down facts (which he did do), he applied it personally to the person's life, showing them through their personal lives how God existed. I believe that to be a far superior way, but certainly not conducive in an academic debate.
But it still falls in the field of the critical historical method. We don't just accept everything at it's "plain sense" meaning because it might have meant something radically different 1000 years ago, or 3000 years ago. You're right, it has been around since the beginning which is why I personally do not feel threatened, or that critical study of the Bible threatens our faith at all. It has been around, but really was forgotten for much of Christian history. (as far as I can tell) What the modern critical study of the Bible has done different though is to take away the miraculous. This is done because if we accept miracles, which ones do we accept? Do we accept the miracle of Julius Caesar being born of a virgin? etc. This is the critical historian's argument anyway.
Right, and I can see the value in having a strict hermeneutic that would allow us to determine the probability of miracles in the Bible vs miracle claims in other works of history. At the same time, this is also why we have to be careful.
The biggest complaint I have against such a critical method is it ignores tradition, as though the earliest members of the Church were too ignorant to get anything right and we in the 21st century have to make the corrections for them.
Can you prove a miracle though? I dunno. Even with miracles that happen today, can we "prove" it was a miracle? I mean to those who do not accept miracles? I don't know. I'm skeptical of a lot of "miracles" I read about (weeping/bleeding/blinking icons etc, monks conjuring Greek pastries out of thin air, etc) I DO believe miracles can and do happen, but if we can "prove" it scientifically, would people still see it as a "miracle"? What is a miracle anyways? What's the definition of a miracle? Part of me wants to say that if we "prove" a miracle we're sort of reducing the thing to the realm of mundane and every day. How would we go about proving Jesus walked on water? I don't know . . . I guess I'm just not interested in proving it because the miracle is a sign that points to something much deeper than just Jesus being a superman who can control nature.
I would say we can prove a miracle, but we don't always have to appeal to science in order to prove something. That borders on a Humean explanation of miracles, which has been outright rejected by even atheists. Not saying you're adopting it, just that it sounds eerily close.
The reason it has been rejected is that it would force us to reject anything
in history because it can't be "proved" scientifically. Did Alexander the Great actually exist, or was he a mythical figure invented by Greek invaders to justify their expansionism? Scientifically we can't prove he did exist - what we have are texts. We can't point to the statues, because there are statues of Zeus, Aphrodite, etc. Just as they were conjured up, so too could Alexander the Great be conjured up.
Instead, based on everything we know about the evidence we have, there's an absurdly high probability that Alexander the Great actually existed. Likewise with miracle claims, we can examine everything surrounding the claim and determine if it's probable or not. Thus, the "proof" speaks in terms of probability - in fact, that's what "proof" means in almost every situation. Even in science when we "prove" something we're simply saying, "This is the most likely explanation."
This doesn't take away from the miracle at all, because what we're seeking to prove can't be repeated. We're simply deducing the authenticity of the miracle claim. So while you might be skeptical of some miracle claims (as am I), there are instances where we can say that a miracle is probable.
An example I like to use is that of my cousin's husband and that of a good friend of mine. My cousin's husband has built his entire "ministry" on producing miracles. So when he says that he touched someone's broken leg and the person was healed, I'm skeptical. When I ask, "Can I meet this person" his response is, "Even if you did you wouldn't believe, so no." My friend, on the other hand, has opened four orphanages in Sudan and doesn't go around claiming miracles. But he did admit to me one day that he watched a little boy die and raise back to life as though nothing had happened. He said this served as a sign from the local village that he and the man he was with were speaking of the true God. My friend is educated, doesn't claim miracles, and openly admits that he has no explanation for what he saw, and hasn't laid claim to any other miracles. He has said that if I ever go over to Africa with him, he'll take me to meet the boy and the villagers (and there's a good chance that I'll take him up on that offer).
In those two situations, I am justified in being skeptical in the first instance. In the second instance, though I certainly have a hard time believing the miracle occurred, I have no legitimate reason to doubt it unless I turn to naturalism (which as a Christian I cannot do). I would contend the same standard, or a similar standard, can be applied to Scripture and other texts on miracles. Admittedly this is not easy, because it's hard for those of us in the West to embrace miracles, but I do think it's the correct approach.
Fair enough. I'm not "convinced" by either one, I think the Polycarp theory is pretty sound, but it's not convincing....I say I just don't know. I lean towards it, but in the end it's Scripture and so it's just not a concern one way or the other. We'll just have to agree to disagree!
I think that's a fair view to have - "no matter what, this is Scripture so the author is irrelevant to me."
But we will probably continue to agree to disagree on the authorship.
But would we even bother to try and convince a mentally insane individual of this? What I mean is if we could take a flat earther into space, and prove to them the world is round, and they STILL denied it's round but it is in fact flat, is the evidence being misinterpreted or is the guy simply insane? Would we even bother to argue with someone about that at that point? To me, some evidence simply speak for itself, and the evidence proves something is true or false whether anyone believes it or not. Truth isn't determined by opinions, it just is.
Certainly with the Bible and critical scholarship things aren't nearly as clear as the world being round, but nothing in history is . . . again it comes down to what's most probable. The example of the bleeding man just doesn't fit because that is a test that can repeated over and ever, history happens once and that's it.
We're all a little insane. After all, we have this world around us that stands as perfect evidence for the existence of God, but we deny that either intellectually or by our lives. Are we to say that atheists are insane for denying the existence of God, or to call God a liar for saying that creation stands as a testament to His glory? Neither alternative seems palatable to me.
I would argue that if we took a flat-earther into space and he still denied the earth was round, I'd ask him why. Why does he believe that? Once his presuppositions were put forth, I'd go after his presuppositions.
In Christian apologetics we should do the same thing (which is why I'm not big on the evidential approach), but in the end there must be a calling and movement of the Holy Spirit and a response by the person. Admittedly there are some things in Christianity that, though rational (or at least not irrational), cannot be believed absent of the revelation of the Spirit. This doesn't mean we can't offer sound arguments for believing in such things, just that those arguments alone won't convince people (unless, of course, the Spirit has been working on the person and the person is responding).
Again, fair enough. As you said, I just find these very interesting and fascinating issues. As an Orthodox Christian I know the Bible is a product of the Church, written by men within the Church all for various reasons and to different communities with different problems and I simply like to piece together why such and such thing was written, to whom, when, and piece together all these different issues. I think the critical method does a pretty good job of shedding light on such issues, and that's why I'm interested in it and have studied this stuff for year. I realize not everyone is interested in it, or even cares . . . that's fine too. Everyone's spiritual journey and spiritual walk is different, this is a part of mine and I'm certainly not trying to force it upon anyone else. Just enjoy the dialogue and learning experience of seeing other folks views. You've given me some interesting things to think on and I'm glad for that. If only all "debates" could go this well . . . .
I've enjoyed the discussion and have learned a lot from it. If more debates went this way, the world would probably be a better place - though I'm sure there are times where being stubborn and obstinate are appropriate.