Monday 12 March 2012

The Christotelical Time Machine

(This post follows on from Demon out - demon in.)

"I'm just off to tell Moses what he means to say."
Problem number one with Christian Smith's "time machine hermeneutic"?  It's riddled with supercessionism.  Hebrew Bible?  What Hebrew Bible?  The Jewish scriptures are, according to this bizarre theology, no such thing.  Jews, ancient or modern, are completely clueless about their true intent.
[W]e always read scripture Christocentrically, christologically, and christotelically...
Christotelically?  It ain't in the Merriam-Webster.  Ain't in the Oxford, and lawdy, it ain't in the Chambers either.  Check that ultimate authority on all things - Wikipedia - and, oh dear, it is still missing in action.   From what I can gather, the term (Christotelical) was coined (cooked up) by Peter Enns in the Westminster Theological Journal, where a great many other things have been creatively cooked over the years.  Enns simply tortured the Greek word telos till it screamed for mercy, then bunged it together with the front end of christology.  Gimme a break!  Quidditch will enter the Chambers before this bit of fatuous nonsense.

Oh, sorry, I forgot; it already has.

But back to Smith's amazing christotelical time machine!  How anyone can maintain this supercessionist bulldust on this side of the Shoah defies comprehension, and yet Smith seems totally oblivious to the problem.  This incredibly myopic theory requires us to believe that nobody could possibly, truly, understand the books of Job, Jeremiah or Psalms, for example, until the Council of Nicea rolled around.  Too bad if you were Job, Jeremiah, a psalmist or a Second Temple Jew... and too bad if you're a twenty-first century Jew.  Which is, of course, the position taken by Al Mohler and former Southern Baptist President Bailey Smith.
With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew. (source
Talk about dripping condescension!  Nope, more likely it's Mohler and the Smiths that are clueless.

To be clear, I'm not even vaguely suggesting that the author of The Bible Made Impossible is anti-semitic, any more than Barth was.  To read his book is to appreciate a genuine effort to move evangelicalism onward from crass biblicism, and that's got to be a good thing.  But reading the Bible backward as he advocates it certainly does disenfranchise everyone who can't bring themselves to stand in line and salute along with the disciples of bog-standard trinitarian orthodoxy.

So to point out the issue of supercessionism is only to state the obvious.  A backward reading of the Bible poses even broader problems, and one suspects that not even the ghost of Karl Barth could paper over those cracks.

To be continued.


  1. Hey, "The Ex-Christadelphian" is up to 53 followers now, I must be doing something right. It's probably that freaking time machine. Not the Christotelical one - the other one. You know, the one that depends on gullibility of Xians who think that the voice in the burning bush was Jesus and the one like unto the son of man in the book of Daniel, well, that was Jesus too. Of course, Melchizedek was Jesus, no question about it...

    Hey, come to think of it, maybe the angel of the Lord speaking through Balaam's ass was Jesus too - probably was.

    All we need to do, really, is just rewrite the OT and replace the Lord with Jesus, replace angel with Jesus, the son of man with Jesus, Melchizedek with Jesus. Heck, the three men that visited Abraham was none other than Jesus, the holy spirit Jesus and Jesus himself. That's so easy to understand once you understand the Trinity of Jesus.

  2. Speaking out of Balaam's ass, indeed! I'm pretty sure Jesus was speaking out of his OWN ass. That's my belief so others should respect it.

  3. So, Nick, do you prefer Gandhi?


  4. I prefer the plain unvarnished truth. I can deal with it.

    I have no taste for myths. No Gandhi and his Hinduism. No Islam. No Christianity. No Mormonism. In short, no BS. Reality will do just fine for me.

  5. Unless I miss my guess, Bob, "The Skeptic" is not Nick.

    By the way, the PT forum is now public and you are unlocked.

  6. But Skeptic, ignoring our myths is all kinds of foolishness, almost as bad as taking them literally.

    The late, great, Joseph Campbell felt that our myths were our only access to our true selves. Once you remove the divity, but begin to recognize the divine in all of us, your whole camera angle view of the world changes.

  7. Thanks for the invite, Corky. Sadly, I got the feeling that I'd been disfellowshipped by the atheists and agnostics. So, apparently some friendships actually can be based soley on nonbelief. But, it's all good. Part of further education, I guess.


  8. Gavin:

    This is not meant to be a post.

    Could you pass along something to Douglas Becker for me?


    -- Neotherm

  9. Baywolf,

    I don't "ignore" our myths. I simply recognize them as myths. I certainly don't pretend them to be true, or partially true, nor do I use them to guide my life.

    I'm much the same as you. I'm guessing that you ignore the Greek myths, Norse myths, Hindu myths, Aztec myths, etc. I'm guessing you ignore ALL myths except the christian myths. If I'm right about this, then you and I are much the same. I just believe one fewer set of myths than you.

    You say I should recognize the "divine in all of us", but that statement means very little on its own. Can you to define exactly what that means, and provide some evidence that it exists?

  10. Neo: Would be happy to, but I don't have either your email address or Douglas' at hand.

  11. Skeptic,

    {BUZZ} Wrong! I don't ignore any of the myths; Norse, Egyptian, Greek, American Indian, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other. They all have merit and value in understanding who we are.

    And, yes, I could provide a detailed explanation of what I mean by the divine, but I sense that it would be a waste of both of our time.

    It's out there if you really want to find out.

  12. Baywolfe, I can agree that myths have value in that they give us clues as to our collective past, and how our primitive ancestors did their best to make sense of the world.

    Your definition of the divine? Yes you're probably right, that would be a waste of both of our time. It's out there and I've crossed paths with it many times.

    Frankly, as I said before, perhaps some need fairy tales and find some benefit in them, but as for me, I find great comfort in just sticking to reality. The truth is really a lot more interesting and a lot more exciting than religion.