Hays’s self-inflicted dental injury
That horrible cracking sound…
That horrible cracking sound…
His little teeth can’t seem to find it, though. It’s so off-the-cuff that much of it is irrelevant.
Hays ignores my central point against McClatchie, by the way, which was pointing out his use of the equivocal term “trinitarian.” I guess that makes sense, though, as it was not a refutable point!
I had been arguing that Luke, as far as Acts 2 goes, seems not to think that belief in the Trinity or belief in the Incarnation are required for salvation. His summary of Peter’s sermon just has no trace of such claims. But the people respond to what he does say, and are saved. In urging the contrary, McLatchie had opined that Luke in Acts couldn’t be expected to use later, technical language for the Trinity.
Well, sure! I said,
The use of “philosophical categories” (i.e. terms) is irrelevant. I would count it here if in any way, the tripersonal God were mentioned as such, or the “deity of Christ” or the two natures of Jesus were taught. The terms needn’t have time-traveled back from Constantinople (381) or Chalcedon (451). Any sort of explicit statement or clear implication would do.
Hays: That’s the tactic of framing an issue to the advantage of your own position. Why require an “explicit statement”? “Clear implication” in reference to what?
Oddly, Hays jumps up and objects, as if the idea of a clear implication was in any way controversial. It is just a conclusion that any competent reader, in that place and time, would draw from what was said. But he can’t stop himself from charging that, somehow, I’m playing dirty here, with my tricky “framing.”
I then said,
Next, McLatchie serves up an example of the fulfillment fallacy.
And I didn’t just say this, I gave an analysis of the argument, which is obviously invalid. An invalid argument is what a (formal) fallacy is. There are only two ways to refute this.
Seemingly unable to do either, Hays ignores the argument in question, and cries “foul.”
i) Here Dale resorts to well-poisoning tactic by inventing a prejudicial label which he slaps onto Trinitarian hermeneutics.
Yawn. It’s no use to glorify an invalid argument with the label “Trinitarian hermeneutic.”
Then, overconfidently, Hays states that he’s already well refuted my dastardly objection.
ii) In addition, Dale is appealing to his refuted arguments:
I’m sure we’ll all rush over there and see how Hays shows that this argument is valid, or that this is not the form of reasoning in question. Again,
Next, I pointed out that McLatchie incoherently asserts both that Jesus and God are numerically one, and that they nonetheless differ.
Amazingly, Mr. McLatchie celebrates having (he thinks) proved the numerical identity of Yahweh and Jesus, and then immediately mentions that they qualitatively differ!…Right Jesus received the spirit from the Father. (Acts 2:33) The Father didn’t receive his spirit from anyone. It follows that they are numerically two. Mr. McLatchie needs to learn this self-evident truth, the indiscernibility of identicals, and then theologize (and interpret scripture) accordingly.
Here, Hays gets philosophical:
ii) The indiscernibility of identicals isn’t Dale’s starting-point. For instance, Dale believes in the reality of change. He takes that as his standard of comparison. Yet change makes something different. So is it the same thing?
That forces Dale to weaken the indiscernibility of identicals to make room for his common sense belief that personal identity is consistent with change.
If you want an example of a philosopher who takes the indiscernibility of identicals as his standard of comparison, consider McTaggart. He denies the reality of time because he takes the indiscernibility of identicals as his starting-point and standard of comparison. Dale does the opposite.
Ironically, Dale is, in that respect, using the same methodology as Trinitarians. Our understanding of reality conditions our metaphysical commitments.
It is true that by the “indiscernibility of identicals” many philosophers and logicians mean a purely formal principle, which is stated with a background presupposition that all truths are timeless, so it mentions nothing about the same time or eternity. But I’ve been pretty clear about what I mean by the term. I don’t know what he means here by “starting point,” nor do I see any “irony” here. Generally, when Hays, in interacting with me, starts riffing on the metaphysics of time or personal identity, it is because he wants to deny this:
Things which differ are two (i.e. are not numerically identical)
which is premise 2 in this argument, an argument to which McClatchie and Hays seem to lack any good reply. To put it differently, nothing can, either at one time or in eternity, be and not be some way. Ridiculously, Hays denies this. Why? Because his confused, pop-evangelical theology says that Jesus just is God and vice-versa. And yet all Christians think, on scriptural grounds, that God and Jesus have differed. So this self-evident truth, Hays reasons, has got to go!
Epistemically, this is indefensible. The above principle is just as evident to Hays as it is to me. It has the same epistemic status as countless other principles he’d insist on, like the validity of modus ponens. He employs it all the time without realizing it. It’s probably unfortunate for him that he heard it from me. If he’d heard it from someone on his theological team, his head would immediately nob. “Yes, that is obvious.” But coming from me, it just must be the product of some ungodly speculations. It must be, ’cause it helps to make a problem for my obviously-correct theology!
Well, no, it’s not. Basically every one of these worked out Trinity theories is designed to be consistent with the indiscernibility of identicals. That’s because these philosophers (with the exception of the logically idiosyncratic Geach) see that it is self-evident that if some x and some y actually differ (or have differed, or will differ, or even just could differ) that it is false that x = y. Understanding this is just part of understanding our concept of (numerical) identity. Many times, a philosopher will explain identity as that relation which necessarily: is reflexive, transitive, and symmetrical, and which forces absolute indiscernibility.
A better trained and more cool-headed Reformed thinker, like Dr. James Anderson, who is used to separating the obvious from the controversial, looks this (premise 2) and says to himself, “Yes, that’s right. If I’m going to object, I’m going to look elsewhere in the argument.” He proceeds to give a motivation for denying another premise – a response which is to the point.
Put the teeth away, Steve Hays. You’re only breaking them on this iron-solid truth. Reason is our friend, and we shouldn’t bite her. We need her to do theology and apologetics. She’s God’s good gift to us.
A piece of advice for consumers of apologetics out there: if you’re reading an apologist and he routinely scoffs at a self-evident truth, or routinely tries to knaw on the messenger who pointed it out, move on. You’re just dealing with a passionate partisan on behalf of pet theories, a brawler. A brawler can be fun to watch, I know. But the “wisdom from above” knows when to yield (James 3:17), and won’t come on like this: