This is a post from a discussion board on theooze many years ago. Rob sets out to mock emergent ideas about truth, certainty and the Bible…I thought it was necessary to respond with my own thoughts on the matter.

By Rob Woodrum

WARNING; long post ahead, laced with extreme sarcasm, my own personal frustrations and my attempt at venting them through the use of satire. This just seems the simplest way of expressing my own struggle to understand.

Heat waves rippled the horizon as the sun pressed its heat against the desert terrain. The tall dark man wiped a bead of perspiration from the side of his face, seemingly oblivious to the extreme temperature. It was hot, even in the shade of the large umbrella that had been stretched over his chariot.

For the third time that morning, the man had summoned his driver to pull to the side of the road, so he could concentrate on what he was reading. He moved the scroll back and forth as his eyes regained their focus, and began again to trace the Greek letters scrawled across the surface of the papyrus.

“Who are you?” he whispered to himself, hoarsely.

With a start, he suddenly realized someone was standing beside his chariot.

“Do you understand what you’re reading?” asked the stranger. He was dressed in commoner’s clothes. This was unusual behavior for a man in low position, and the dark man was intrigued.

“How can I, unless someone explains it to me? Why don’t you come up here and enlighten me?” said the dark man with an inviting wave from his hand. He held out the papyrus for the stranger to see for himself, and with a grin, inquired, “Whom is the prophet talking about? Himself, or someone else?”

“Whoa, hold on there bub,” the stranger said, pushing the papyrus aside, “let’s get some things established first. I need to know what kind of epistemology you hold to!”

“Pistol…what?” the dark man shook his head slowly, not understanding.

“You’re asking me to give you an answer, but if I do, I would be asserting that as a universal truth! How I read this bit of papyrus may be completely different from how YOU read this. Who’s to say who is right? The REAL issue is, we just don’t know for sure!”

“What are you talking about? I was just wondering who the prophet is…”

The stranger cut him off.

“Listen, first you need to examine what you hold to as true, and how you came to assess it as such! What are the community agreements that formulate your worldview? Mine are probably completely different from yours…and that is completely acceptable!” The stranger’s voice began to rise with excitement.

“You see,” the stranger continued, “I have a specific paradigm that was handed to me by my cultural upbringing, and it colors everything I view as being true. If I were to impose my preconceived evaluations of truth on this portion of papyrus, I would be asserting my view as something that must be universally agreed upon!”

“So…he’s talking about the universe?” the dark man hesitantly ventured to ask.

“Huh? NO!” said the stranger, rolling his eyes and vigorously shaking his head. “Don’t you get it? By asking me for an answer, you are falling prey to the lure of rationalism, which suggests there IS an ANSWER, instead of a process of discovery. And even there, this can’t be achieved on an individual basis, so what really needs to happen is we, you and I, need to recognize ourselves as community and find our agreement on what we perceive as a working ‘truth’”. The stranger made quotation signs with his hand as he finished his words.

“I’m a eunuch…in case you had some ideas here” the dark man was beginning to edge away from the stranger.

“Ok, look…you asked me a question, ‘what is this papyrus talking about’; and I’m telling you that I can’t answer that with any certainty, I can only give you my evaluation, but a different evaluation may be just as valid. My evaluation of this is based on the assumptions of those who went before me and who influenced my community worldview. So, in essence, I’m doing something BETTER than answering your question, I’m giving you permission to NOT KNOW! I don’t know, and now you don’t know, and we can have harmony in our mutual inability to really know anything for sure, and God is pleased with that….well, at least I think He is, I can’t really say that for sure, can I?”

“Look, I gotta’ get going now” said the dark man, his eyes darting in the direction of the chariot driver.

“Hold on bub,” the stranger said, grabbing the dark man’s shoulders, “we’re just getting started here! Let’s consider for a moment that truth emerges from cultural perception….”

The dark man shrugged off the stranger’s hands. “No, really, I have to go….I just was wondering if you knew the answer to my question, it didn’t want to get into all this other…”

“Aha! There’s the REAL issue, you’re afraid to be challenged by a new way of evaluating truth! You’re afraid of the chaos that could result from deconstructing a foundationalist approach to reasoning. That’s just arrogance, man!” The stranger’s face was turning red.

“Let go of me, I’m seriously going to hurt you if you don’t!” the dark man warned.

“Oh, I see, if I think outside of the box, and challenge you to do the same, you feel so threatened that you need to black-ball me, or discriminate against me. That’s just the reactionary attitude inherent in the….”

With one quick movement, the dark man signaled his driver to go ahead, and he deftly pushed the stranger out of his chariot at same time.

“Go, go, go!” said the dark man, as he watched the stranger tumble in the dust behind him. He still had the papyrus gripped tightly in his right hand. Looking at it for a moment, it’s tender page crumpled from the struggle, he sighed. Without looking back, he tossed it from his moving chariot, and went on his way back to Ethiopia.

sigh.

My response: by Brad Cecil

Heat waves rippled the horizon as the sun pressed its heat against the desert terrain, an oasis appeared in the distance. The tall dark man wiped a bead of perspiration from the side of his face, and instructed his driver to head toward the oasis, but after a few miles it became apparent they had experienced the dreaded desert illusion – there was no water – it just appeared that way.

For the third time that morning, the man had summoned his driver to pull to the side of the road, so he could concentrate on what he was reading. He moved the scroll back and forth as his eyes regained their focus, and began again to trace the Greek letters scrawled across the surface of the papyrus.

“Who are you?” he whispered to himself, hoarsely.

With a start, he suddenly realized someone was standing beside his chariot.

“Do you understand what you’re reading?” asked the stranger. He was dressed in commoner’s clothes. This was unusual behavior for a man in low position, and the dark man was intrigued.

“How can I, unless someone explains it to me? Why don’t you come up here and enlighten me?” said the dark man with an inviting wave from his hand. He held out the papyrus for the stranger to see for himself, and with a grin, inquired, “Whom is the prophet talking about? Himself, or someone else?”

“Whoa, hold on there bub,” the stranger said, pushing the papyrus aside, “let’s get some things established first. Do you believe that this Papyrus is the Word of God?

“What?” the dark man shook his head slowly, not understanding. “I think this was written by a man named Isaiah - is that what you are asking?”

“Before we go any further with this conversation …you must believe that this papyrus is the Word of God, because if you don’t believe this we could be reading from just any piece of literature and that would only contain ideas, this papyrus is different - it is the Word of God and contains absolute truth.”

“What are you talking about? I am almost certain a guy named Isaiah wrote this”

The stranger cut him off.

“No, Isaiah did not write this, God wrote this. God wrote through Isaiah. Isaiah did not even know what he was writing about.”

“Wait, are you sure?” the dark man hesitantly ventured to ask. “What do you mean he didn’t understand what he was writing? How is that possible?”

“God dictated these words to Isaiah. Isaiah was just the transcriber. One of the problems may be that you are reading from the Greek, you must examine the words in Hebrew, these are the actual Words God used and by reading in the Hebrew you will be able to understand the very words God used and the truth of this papyrus.”

“Wait are you saying that if I study this in Hebrew I can understand perfectly what God was saying?”

“Yes, if you know Hebrew you can understand with absolute certainty what God was trying to convey.”

“OK, I am not sure about this being the actual words from God, but for discussion sake lets say you are correct. What is this passage talking about”

“It is taking about Jesus” the stranger said, “It is clearly a pre-incarnate messianic prophecy“

“Pre in car what?” said the dark man.

“A pre-incarnate messianic prophecy, this passage is obviously about Jesus.” Said the stranger

“But, how could this be about Jesus when Isaiah lived hundreds of year before this person you speak was even born?”

The stranger responded: “Remember Isaiah didn’t write this….”

“Oh yea, God did” finished the dark man “I am sorry this gets a little confusing.”

“Don’t worry”, said the stranger “I can teach you to see many writings in this same way and also how to recognize all the false writings that claim to come from God but don’t - it gets easier as I teach you what to look for”

“That must have been weird for Isaiah to write stuff he didn’t understand, maybe there are several ways to interpret this passage?

The Stranger responded: “No there is only one correct interpretation, but if this helps you- there are many ways to apply this papyrus passage.”

“Wow” said the dark man” Just one correct interpretation – how do you know if you have interpreted the passage correctly?”

“That is easy.” said the stranger “It is authorial intent…you find the correct interpretation by simply asking what did God mean? The answer is the obvious answer. Always remember God says what he means and means what he says.”

“Could the passage have a dual meaning, maybe even contradictory meanings?” asked the dark man.

“No because that would violate the law of non-contradiction and everyone knows God would not do something illogical.”

“Wow this is great - you mean I can understand communication from God in a complete way and be absolutely certain that I am correct in my interpretation because God is logical, he never contradicts, the obvious meaning is the most likely and He even uses our language and concepts?” asked the Ethiopian

“Isn’t that Great?” asked the Stranger

“Yes, it is” said the Ethiopian “God isn’t a Mystery at all!”

The Ethiopian went with the Stranger to the land of Evangelapolis to learn how to see the whole world through this unique perspective and they both lived happily in the land where Man is big and God is small, there are no contradictions, paradoxes or mysteries, everything is easy and just as it seems and all the people sing happy songs.

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