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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 'SECULAR'
Contrary to what might be at first imagined, this item is not the commencement of a philosophic exercise; rather is it in terms of verificatory procedure, a reference to a claim made in the Russell Report, and a long-standing Victorian law.
The Digest of Report of the Committee on Religious Education - Victoria (prepared by Planning Services Division of Education Department, after Consultation with the Chairman and a Number of Committee Members) gives a short survey on this point.
On p.19, it advises that the Report 'recommends, therefore, that provided the Crown Solicitor approves this interpretation, the Minister issue a statement encouraging the development of programs of religious education as recommended in the Report.' It envisages that the Crown Solicitor conceivably might not agree, but rather might aver that the 'recommended program of teaching cannot be seen an part of the "secular Instruction" required by the Act '. If so, the Report would have the Section 23, which is concerned, amended as necessary.
This willingness to have the term 'secular' , for whatever reason, so stretched as to incorporate the FIELD given the Committee, namely that of the meeting of education and RELIGION, is quite startling in that a contradictory is in view. However, it shows how very appropriate it has been for us to make strong endeavour to stylise the Report and its philosophy, even to our present stage; and to relate this to styles evident and influential in our times, in philosophy and theology. In so doing. we have looked at examples; but there are many other twigs of like kind on the contemporary branches of these subjects.
The zeitgeist moves this way - but we shall not at this point interrupt ourselves to pursue it; moreover we did not perform our prelude in order to repeat and amplify it: yet it has been necessary to return to its sweep momentarily. After all, it helps us to appear merely semantically aghast, retaining the perfect expectation which appeared an p.17: this SORT of seeming contradiction, semantic squall is precisely what our analysis would lead us to expect. To this extent, it is verificatory.
Now it may be thought that this is of interest; but that it scarcely warrants its own section. Quite the contrary is the case. Let us consider.
IF the religious instruction could be 'secular' (oh! of course, within the meaning of the Act, it is marvellous what the Law can do, and Dickens did not hesitate to have one of his characters call it an ass - we will not pursue this), then why should parents given freedom of withdrawing their children from RELIGIOUS instruction be so surfeited with rank and excess licence as to be allowed to withdraw their children from the ... secular religious instruction. (If this sounds less than fluent, it is to be confessed that we have not recently re-read Alice in Wonderland, and so perhaps lack the facility for virtuoso performances in contradictories).
Now the Report Digest, In a rash of intimacy, expresses the view that 'the teaching it recommends should be welcomed by all parents as its purpose is educational' (p.20).
To what this education is directed ( we hope to elaborate) ; the kind of education it implies (it is remarkable how trenchant educators can be on the importance, nay the virtual necessity of their so obvious program - ask Rousseau. figuratively, or Neill actually , or certain ostensibly Christian 'cultural' schools) ... for these things, who in the enlightened theological, social and didactic atmosphere of this country, need enquire ?
Are we not all honourable men ? - so the tenor seems to go.
Perhaps in other countries without the law, lesser breeds, such things may need analysis; and in such places, those who think parents SHOULD be of a mind with them may have to provide cogent grounds. Here, however - why! the very use of the term 'educational' ... is this not cultural , cultivated, communal, to be coveted, a synonym for enlightenment and an anodyne for angst; is it not something to be resisted only by Philistines ? No ? Then surely it is strange that the writers of this Report are in it, able to express such confidence ... about parental conformism to their program. their preference and proclivities. With humanism you often get this, for the illusion that man is centre, king and god; and the expectation that man will conform to what mankind is doing, especially in the more enlightened vistas 'he', man is gaining for himself by such an estimable proponent of philosophy as the Report might appear to be, in all its linguistic wonder: these things often tend to blind reality with a sort of 1930's optimism. We AGREE, and are on the SPREE of the upward motion to becoming all we ever could have hoped ... to be!
However, this is not musical comedy, however many comic elements seem to reside in its midst.
Looking at the presentation of the
Report writers, one finds that their grounds for presuppositions
are never observably cogent; their enquiries are typically a survey of
opinion, a declaration in more or less obvious form ( often less ) of some
form of humanistic idealism ( supra example, infra elaboration).
They expose a lack in virtual entirety of any metaphysical demonstration,
a demonstrable lack of faith indeed that anything is demonstrable in this
area, and an underlying religious seeming assurance that what they do is
Whichever road or by-road we take, the logical lacerations are not few.
That amidst all this Draconian declamation and dire diversity,
we should now trust those who make no pretensions ( at least directly
) to rational grounds requiring of us their underlying cultural preferences
( gut feelings, existential insights, reductionist oblivions of particularistic data, and so on ... ) would seem an irrationalism verging on ideational oblivion.
If, for example, Kant gains his categorical imperative from the unknown, the cognitively unconstruable, in construable terms reeking with the intelligence of the area ostensibly systematically intellectually opaque ; if Hegel builds his intellectual empire from a starting point more massive, inferentially, than its end ; if the determinist Marx exhorts us with passion to implement necessity and prescribes moral judgments from a descriptive system ; if Kierkegaard outrides revelation with revelatory force and Altizer discloses without revelation that revelation was but is not, with a force of revelatory dimensions seemingly - like Marx - seeing back of the throes of his Relativity, with absolute vision; and if their successors and purveyors, conscious and otherwise, also vaunt 'the obvious' out of intellectual quasi-oblivion - it is marvellous. It shows what humanity will call good, when it has appetite, However it gives less than no ground for unthinking adoption of 'obvious', religious - or for that matter - 'irreligious', value. It gives less than no confidence in simply taking a cultural norm in Australia because religious men have enunciated it; and because they seem graciously bent an enshrining it in our hearts and consciences.
Looking through the Report, we are not left in doubt as to the items of the obvious education and its fundamental components, ideologically. 'Education', which lends such power to the concepts (supra), is found ( Report p.143) to consist in such activities, as shall in fact 'contribute to the development in pupils of "desirable states of mind involving knowledge and understanding".' Results are all: for the same activities, we learn, may be non-educative. Yet what is desirable?
We find (p.I54) that 'education cannot be neutral on questions concerning the nature of man'. On p.III, we find that 'ethical standards as respect for persons, for the tradition of free and disciplined enquiry, and for the generally accepted procedures of a well-conducted school' are indited. They arise like a litany, interpreted as by a priest, intoned as if by some News Magazine, intent on (dare we say) indoctrination or at least (in the latter case) sales through startlement!
It is true that some of their criteria, prima facie, may appear relatively innocent; but their associations are not above reproach as we have found, so that they must be investigated. Thus the last component is circular:
How do they know this about absolutisms ? This, their revelatory specialty, without revelation, seems to take care of. They find it perhaps generally accepted to be so ? desirable to speak thus of absolutisms? and so guided by acceptation, and the acceptance of whatever acceptation they accept, they accept the desire, desire the acceptance, and in the end, have said precisely NOTHING except one thing. THIS is the way that they want it. Doubtless. However we have not learned process, far less a logical one to help us to their ... view.
Again, what is respect for persons ? It could mean a regard to the privileges they are to enjoy in freedom of speech, and the right to ruin themselves in their own way, rather then in that of their mentors. It could be more sensitive. What It does NOT mean, however, is shown by what the Report writing DOES mean in terms of respect for persons, as shown elsewhere. To this, with interest, let us repair.
It means an attitude which will 'prevent religious "tribalism" and exclusivism'. The 'scientific' approach which the Report corpus' writing carefully contrasts with the empathetic religious approach suitable for subjective employment by exponents of a religion, is to bring this boon. No more, in our respect for persons will we be prone to the social doom of believing this: that some ONE thing is right, and the others partly or wholly wrong where they contradict it.
This meaning is perfectly clear, and perfectly consistent with our previous categorical finding re absolutisms. So the absolutism which is NECESSARY is the doctrine of the depravity and original sin of categorical claims to distinctive or exclusive truth on the part of any religion. This it is absolutely wrong to do; and it is an absolutism that it is wrong. Thus absolutisms are seen to be 'destructive': EXCEPT the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY of
2) human homogenisability and
3) the orders for the immediate or early demise of what Francis Schaeffer*15 calls 'true truth'.
THAT COMPLEX TRIAD APPEARS AS NECESSARY ABSOLUTISM,
a somewhat invidious exception not noted in the Report's promulgation of
the rule, indeed of the doctrine of anti-absolutism.
It might, this (blessed? and privileged) triad perhaps, almost be given expression as a somewhat negative, pseudo-secular trinity.
In short, it simply is not nice to be right in such a way that others are wrong in this religious field.
Is THAT, however, why the Report is so impartial as to be virtually heir to the impressive cognomen 'secular'? It would not seem quite likely - not, that is, rationally. Perhaps a major virtue of this Report is its sustained allegorical character, after the fashion of Alice in Wonderland. So long as we are not intended to take it seriously, it would seem an excellent twentieth century sequel to Carroll's works say - Alice Looks at Religion. (One does not italicise it, as it is not yet - as such - published; though with such grounds as these, without great difficulty, it possibly could be! nor is one so fascinated with the undoubted skills of the Mathematics Professor who wrote the actual book on wonderland, as to find it inescapable; rather the particular study before us evokes it so monumentally as to make it seem like speaking of travel without colour, or clouds without vapour, to omit it).
Some of the 'niceness', then, of this Report absolutism (though it disdains the name, we are talking of facts and using names to describe them accurately), this quasi-infinite assumption can easily be seen in its social utility. Reader, do not quail. Did Rousseau really do much better? And It would seem doubtful if he has ever been more popular in his ideas.
WHAT utility? one may ask, for pre-occupation in this sphere seems to occur in the concern about the destructive, non-education character of such things as do not meet the moral approval of the Report. But let us actually check the word to this point in more detail now. This inclusivist (and this in an IN word, whereas exclusivist s an OUT word, if you know your social ABC), this inclusivist view 'can open up possibilities for "ecumenical" dialogue between religions' (p.133), we read. Can anything be more obviously beneficial to a good understanding than that, except perhaps that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points (though some may qualify this).
What sort of ecumenical dialogue? Why of course one lacking absolutism and religious tribalism'.
The unempathetic reader may feel there is a certain emotive tone in a tribalism*15a being an adjunct of an exclusivist religious position. However, we are assured on this very page, also helpfully in understanding this reverential thing, education, that 'the disciplines which make up "religious studies" are precisely concerned to investigate religious phenomena in such an objective and dispassionate way' - and the Report is an honourable Report (besides it is Australian, not foreign). Hence 'tribalism' it dispassionately is, if you feel your religion, well... is true!
Ah 'tribalist', that it should come to this! that you should so indulge the merely congregative and aggregative desires of you sodden heart, limp with the forest, damp with the glades, and believe something in the religious (but is it not secular ? ) field is true, without a permission, a certificate from the higher authorities on religious affairs, who dispassionately note the passionate horror of your action, and exclude it, equally dispassionately, because of the passion involved, irrational passion OF COURSE (that goes without saying, because, you see, if you SAY it, it might then be refuted - silence is the golden rule, they say).
With quiet and objective calm they can SEE the tribalism in your position, without any need of the glasses of logic, the requirements of data, the care concerning generalisation, because this is an honourable Report, and its purpose is honourable, as must be, for it is educative...
Now of course, this splendid dispassion will allow you objectively to hold any opinion you like, more or less; but if you think ever err in coming to think that it is TRUE, then beware (dispassionately, if possible). Next thing, you may start thinking it true in such a way that its flat contradiction is false - and then where would relativistic, humanistic ecumenism be? Thus we find a presupposition that such ecumenism (obviously one amenable to 'ethics'..) must be. Kant with his categorical imperative really only began... There is here that compulsive, obsessive situation, it seems, that what is said (not by God! oh no! but by man, or the Report writers' product, of someone or other for some purpose or other) must be done. Humanism like this, religion without a God who can speak, and with any god who is made by the mathematical exercises (lowest common denominator and the like) of man, is de rigueur. Why ? As with Kant's categorical imperative, it comes from the unknowable; but in this case, such is not the claim, so that it comes from the culture, psychic preferences or other non-logical arenas of thought or emotion.
Kant started something ? (in his categorical imperative*16)
... On the other hand, WHAT then did he begin?
This intolerant attitude, enshrined In the Report, relative to the actual claims of two of the world's largest religions in their classical and written expression, is, we may be relieved to find, necessarily an expression of 'respect for persons; except of course the person of God and the persons of those who love Him, and the persons of those who give a reason why the Bible is truth, and so on; these may not be respected because, without being unpleasant, they are tribalistic. THAT? abuse? of course not, they might protest. It is just that SINCE there is no truth, they might opine, therefore anyone who thinks there is tribal. Why? Y is a crooked letter and cannot be made straight, was the old saw; and perhaps the Report writers agree. No vestige, tribalistic or otherwise, for their opinion, no speck of grounds appear.
All is assumed. Nothing is shown. What is assumed is applied. It is applied psychology; but its psychology is based on ... nothing, no god, no man with revelation, only report writers and others who, disdaining truth, nevertheless know it; removing by a flick of the wrist, any talk of truth, then expound it, absolutely without access to the absolute, which of course, is absolutely self-contradictory as well as absolutely and incredibly self-assured. Is it then some self, or group of selves which are to apotheose? Where is the evidence? One prefers reason to this mute revelation which from nowhere, knows such things. Such knowledge is altogether too wonderful. Get it where it IS knowledge, or do not pretend!
As children are wont to note, it would be too ridiculous to fail to act out what one, teaches. Yet this is how it, the Report, shows (respect ) to those who are tribalists! HOW ELSE could they know truth, except by passion; how else but by left-overs of religion. The CONCEPT of truth is sovereignly dismissed and the concept of where the concept of truth comes from is assumed, all with an imperial flutter of words. It is said. It is done. They, of course (present company excepted, as is deemed fitting) do not gain their inclusivism from some tribal conference of accord where wars were found to be impractical, or from some fear of an atomic world without consensus, or from a desire for wealth. Of course not. They are an honourable body, and hence neither need to give evidence nor provide defence.
Personally, I should rather have God any day; since His book, the Bible, gives reason, protests reason, multiplies evidence, issues in Christ, makes testable predictions, accounts for history which follows it like a lamb, meets the epistemological problem without truth being accessible (on humanist grounds), by having it from God, with access as shown by means which in turn have verificatory provisions and confirmatory elements at all levels. But that is the topic of Christian Apologetics, for which see the volumes afore-noted. It is just that IT DOES PROVIDE GROUNDS, and this, it does not. Hence logically there is NO COMPARISON.
Yet, quite to the contrary, the believers in one absolute God with a mind of His own and words which He has authorised, with limitless grounds, these are spurned and given epithets which, not to make too fine a point of it, are scarcely factual or flattering within a generalisation which must rank as above all others, the generalisation of religion. It is like a teacher generalising about the knowledge of sub-primary students and University Professors in some strange way, demeaning all differentiation, because he/she happens to feel that way. DO NOT, he says, DO NOT, says she, demean me with facts, investigation or enquiry. Learn from me: I know. Absolutists are absolutely OUT!
After all, are they not wholly unredeemable by virtue of failing to be dispassionate enough to know absolutely that absolutely nothing is absolutely right in religion; and to know this as absolute knowledge. Again, the necessity of this ... logic is so clear that parents should WANT their children to gain its admittedly exotic gifts; and who would exclude children from classes in which what to the uninitiated looks like crass contradiction, even self-contradiction is permissible, and even extolled? Have not many parents felt a sneaking desire to be able to get away with such things in argumentations at home, or at work? The child to be 'educated' might be able to fulfil parental day-dreams; and this not only in religion.
Circles and Sources: Arguing in one and being the other.
We turn now from the presumably 'objective' (p.133
- "religious studies" are precisely concerned to investigate religious
phenomena*17 in such a dispassionate and
'objective way') and statedly 'impartial' (p.160 - 'educational activities
should be impartial') relegation of Biblical Christianity to tribalism
and destructive absolutism, to look at further fruitage of this system
of thought called the Report of the Committee on Religious Education.
At times the Report Religion claims statistical
support, or sociological, or simply the appeal of the desirable ( p.I43-
'Judged to be part of an educational process only if they contribute to
the development in pupils of "desirable states of mind involving knowledge
and understanding" '); what is 'most true'
( p.I09); and what avoids the 'less desirable' ( p.77 - 'the education provided ... will help students to resist the less desirable consequences of the pluralistic society').
Statistics of course do not create morality. What is described is not by any means what is prescribed. If you are to JUDGE and DETERMINE what OUGHT to be done, it is not from what IS done that you draw your information. This simple proposition if crucial in all religion; and in all logic. Events are not requisitions. They may be acted for or against; approved or disapproved by man or by God. The variety of purposes in man, and their collision in morals, militaristic panache, economic sanctions and competition, personal psychic upsets and the like, do not make at all a contribution to what should be done, to the necessities of any religion. In the end, it is man or God. It is thought about preference or it is the Maker and His thought about man (as in Amos 4:12-13).
Objectivity in the realm of value, morals and truth is not at all possible or even validly conceivable without ACCESS to what is NOT susceptible to deviation, limitation and warping, but IS able to view things as they really are by BEING IMMUNE to their variety and its protestations and aware of the realities underlying them, their obligations as created and to the Creator. Without that, there IS no religion; only a matter of psychic states, and ways of bringing them into accord if this is preferred, or not, if that is preferred.
Without truth, all talk of objectivity is myth, and the concept of direction for what is directable is never to be found by seeing what may be deemed by some, though perhaps not by others, its actual direction. What has that to do with it? If we are driving through a desert, will we look at our tyre marks to see where we SHOULD go, or where we DID go? It is time reason had access to these things, which leaves the whole Report Religion an exercise in violence, intrusiveness, vanity and futility, so that on its own presuppositions it COULD not be right, truth and obligatory. It pretensions to the contrary are merely a sort of case of sour grapes perhaps; for ITS religion CANNOT be true, so it assumes it so of all the others, with NO REPORT on the matter. THIS, it is education ? If so, being educated is no boon.
But let us return to the DESIRABLE, that code word of pseudo-morals on which the Report, as we see, repetitively fastens. What OUGHT to be desired? It is just that it is ... desirable. Never were questions begged so freely.
Now in the last case, it might be claimed that the desirable has in this instance, in this particular context been - if not defined, perhaps too much to expect - at least illustrated. It clearly excludes the action to 'exploit' and 'personal gain' malpractices. It clearly includes opportunities for choice, freedom and equity. However, references, already abundantly testified, show that 'absolutisms' and recidivist 'tribalisms' ( or 'immature' ? ) such as historic Biblical Christianity*18 would be teeming with, as shown, would scarcely be desirable. The presentation of its viewpoint, which alone objectively provides logical attestation and verification, as well as demonstration (as shown in the texts noted*18a, indeed, and never to the author's knowledge refuted, or even slightly embarrassed) was by this reader not detected in the whole 343 pages of the Report, even as a datum however maligned or detested. it is swept aside without mention, removed without ground, because presuppositions which are self-contradictory are ... in a word, 'desirable'. If this sort of approach is not Statism, what is or even COULD be! It is desired. The emperor so desires.
The combination of these considerations would scarcely encourage hope for freedom, under Report Religion rule, for such liberty as so blackballs so much (and most of the world's statistically major religionists in one stroke), is not superabundant in liberty. It is like Communism: the place is wonderfully free to anyone who agrees with the party, co-operates with the Party, and the Party defining what is right, cannot be wrong.
After all, freedom and maturity are related, we are advised
by the Report- p. 230: They 'are beginning to live appropriately
with a plurality of views and beliefs. This is not to say all senior
secondary students actually possess these qualities' ( italics added).
No indeed, for 'children with a religious upbringing tend to go on believing
in religion and miracle*19 stories until
about eleven years of age ...' ( p. 206).
The inappropriate view of the Report Religion's prescribed perspective, nevertheless, needs attention. It relates to the soul of the artist in the matter of looking at other religions ( p.I60- 'the sort of enquiry called for is akin to the study of literature and similarly requires a 'sensitive and artistic heart' ).Quite simply, essentially the soul of the artist is the one needed for those who are to possess the appropriate view. One sees in other words, what is passing, the production of this or that culture or psyche, appreciates, savours its 'nose' and passes on the gallery of religions with sophisticated penchants, now here, now there, for the artistic palette of the spiritual artist.
Unfortunately for this missionary minded report religion presentation, more than the soul of an artist is needed if truth is to be found; and if it is not found, there is nothing to be provided. The bank is empty, the verbal fiduciary institution is vain; and there is nothing to provide from such a source, quite literally, but empty words. There is however more to do than to listen to them; it is on the other hand, necessary to refute them.
But the Report Religion has more to say about itself. Let us look.
It is necessary then to possess an engaging awareness of the supra-rational ( p. 132), of course non-absolutist, non- miraculous, non-tribalistic, scientifically demythologisable*20estate of one's religion. This it is which tends to spell the great success story for Religious Education. We may note in passing that it would spell ipso facto the second death of absolutist Jesus Christ whose birth and resurrection are alike miraculous in Biblical definition (pp.22-3 supra - Appendix infra ) and crucial by Biblical interpretation (ibid). It is interesting how differently it is done in the 20th century, vis-à-vis the 1st: the former with ruinous, irrational words, the latter with ruinous, unreasonable nails. The result on the mind of the recipient may be similar; on the Christ, however, there is something different about continuing the assault in a wholly unreasoned way, now as at the first. It is in some ways like addressing the existence of Israel, post-Hitler, with distaste... as 'undesirable' or 'inappropriate', or 'tribalistic'...
As for the Bible, its absolutist claims would seem strangely 'immature' by relativistic religious Report standards - which, as shown, cannot themselves be acceptable logically, since they repeatedly violate fundamental logical canons. The Bible however ? its claims to objective, to be of rational validity, to absolute truth are numerous, intense and ultimate (Romans 1:18-19. I Peter 3:15, Isaiah 48:1 1-5, Acts 1:3,, II Corinthians 10:5, Amos 3:5-7, John 8:46, Psalm 96:5, Isaiah 43:3 9-10, 44:6 etc.).
They are distinctive, contra-distinctive and exclusive - well seen in summary form in John 14:6, 15:22-24.
We find then that the desirability, the 'appropriateness' of the 'secular' Report Religion, scarcely make for freedom or equity towards the non-conformist religious position. That is, towards what would be effectually so if the Report Religion were implemented, only to become one more mistaken religion, oppressing with force and irrational word-nails, thus managing to deny opportunity for free expression, and State teaching to those who want truth, and insist on logic.
It is, as so often with intemperate clamour in the field of religion, that this may not be MEANT; it is just that the colossal self-assurance of those who (in this case) do not act in the name of the God who is there, but in terms of cultural exhibits in the field of religion, leads to their ACTING. How ? With regard to what is 'inappropriate', rather as some parents might. Children are to be 'educated' out of what is not fitting, into what is, and they are the tailors. The customer is irrelevant in this, that he gets what is DEEMED to be appropriate. May heaven have mercy on this country if such intemperance ever replace reason, free speech and opportunity for the free use of State resources for purpose other than arbitrary, irrational and discriminatory religion, let alone one which is 'secular' for the better preservation of wit.
What then? Not only is there this new Establishment showing its cultural breeding, but in this Report, there is implied a dismissal of a logical* 21 coherent system with claims to absolute truth, and this on the part of and for the succour of a system which itself not susceptible to rational validation but rather is self-invalidating (supra) ... Such a result in indeed scarcely to be desired.
This however is not all. Not only, then, is the Report Religion deemed desirable and appropriate, as also to be dealing - though truth be in absentia - with what is 'most true'; it also has other dignities.
Thus it is involved in the mystic pursuit of pursuit of
'authentic community'*22 . Perhaps if it
be communal in this decade, and existentially authentic (has a reek of
truth? a gut flow? a sensation of reality?' an involving 'word of religion'
- p.96 - more precisely 'religious words' but the former gives the sense
of the censors, perhaps, better), it is clearly, what shall we say,
sociologically 'good' ? even 'desirable'? But these are conundrums
we must leave with and for the Report Religion.
There is no need for us to accept its terminological and metaphysical impedimenta
or to waltz in its seemingly endless circles.
These then, since they are unquestionably imports, are merely smuggled in, without licence or acknowledgment of the event.
But why these values? How would Muhammad*23a respond, and is he - that is, was he not in some way involved - shall we say - in a religion? It seems to have been rather popular and would seem not entirely hidden from view. Is it not THERE? And was not he in some sense religious? There is, one recalls, no question of being normative. THAT is what the Report at least ... SAYS.
It Is a marvellous thing. You could understand what might be Muhammad's feelings. Why here this Report - so impartial, craving indeed by semantic torture to have its view conceived as 'secular' (p.278) whilst specifically contrary in statement - is being exclusive! It is so esoteric and eclectic as to embrace both supernatural religion (admittedly somewhat distantly) and 'religion' as a dimension of the secular and natural (p.130), even to the rarefied extreme of 'living out one's ordinary secular life with "ultimate concern" .' Yet it simply embraces (what else?) with all fervent warmth indeed, such highly particular values as 'love'. (It is not stated which of 'love's' multiform rarefactions and condensations may be in mind - however the term sounds 'good'. This, you see, is very academic and educated.) 'Love' is embraced and 'tolerance'!
It is, Muhammad might allege, impossible. They have judged him in advance. If they have the truth, why all this talk of searching for it? If they do not have it, why all this (in that case) merely crass prejudice. Now he might be mollified by the thought that at least, as far as supernatural Biblical Christianity is concerned, the Report Religion:
1) neither loves it (it is 'destructive' and 'tribalistic' qua absolutist, and hence quite unlovely: indeed, such absolutist things should not be fostered by the mature),
2) nor apparently thinks it worthy of any substantial attention.
On the other hand, he might be the more incensed on realising that the Report exhibits an intolerance of the highest metaphysical order to such Christianity, without providing anything to defend its own implicit bureaucratic revelation, or even metaphysics, whilst with negative attention to Biblical Christianity, defiling his religion in harsh and censorious criticism of just the same ilk. Muhammad's glorious conception of needful intolerance, from absolutist sources, what of that, then ? It slights him whilst using his own attitude just slighted, in outcome, without the frankness as to the ... income.
Whilst thus speaking, the Report submerges in deep waters:
It hates exclusivism whilst displaying it.
The plaint would have a point. How can they consistently be so much to so many so impartially; yet elevate these particularistic values so assuredly? It is as if they were Communists restrictively redefining democracy to consist with needful authoritarian rule (by the people of course. whoever they may be, when not in prison or becoming non-persons by the dicta of authority); or neo-orthodox theologians re-defining the 'virgin birth' to mean 'God is gracious' in some similar feet of semantics.
The 'values' of the Report are by no means meaningless, even if they have glorious possibilities for ambiguity. Lodged practically within their serene and secret importation, is the proclivity for oppressive power; and we turn to this later in terms of the 'right of withdrawal' (of students from religious classes) and related topics.
The exclusion of classic Old Testament Judaism, Koran Mohammedanism and Biblical Christianity at their foundations *23 , is perhaps merely matter for adjustment (through their claims to the institution in the State, of other beliefs, prescribed for all gods and men who really wish to be thought of as desirable).
But to the consideration and statement of the Creed of the Report Religion, not less obvious because unnamed, we must direct these things: sufficient for now that we have again sighted it.
We were, then, engaged in noting the authentic, objective, impartial and non-normative CLAIM of the Report Religion, with some thoughts on its practice. We did this immediately following our exposure of our now quite familiar creedal items relating to absolutism tribalism and so on; and we were pressing on to discover further desiderata of this non-normative norm, this intolerant tolerance, this objective subjectivism, this non-established, establishmentarian Report Religion, created for the service of the secular 'all', through the religious 'all', which is defined as seemed ... best.
After all, if we do not excavate its depths, codify its
conceptions, or if so be, incorporate its creed, who will?
... that is the question. In this respect at least, the Report does not
seem especially strident - in its own cause! It seems rather
almost derelict in desire to codify its mandatory conceptions. We must
therefore look harder at:
the reluctant religion.
FOR SECTION III
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 'SECULAR'
*15 Schaeffer in his Escape from Reason, I.V.F. I968, p.2I.
*15a The even more diverting and malapropos element of this denigration wrought in the Report writers' product is this: take one case, that of The Bible. What then of the Old Testament ? Is that, being exceedingly absolutist, not merely speaking of God as the I AM, but the ONLY ONE, and the ONE whose words will be fulfilled in entire contradistinction to any nameable alternative (which claim as shown in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, is intensively fulfilled - should any reader happen to have a scientific bent of mind) : is that then tribalistic ?
Illuminatingly, neither literally nor metaphorically. The latter because of its quality, which transcends all science BY NEVER NEEDING REVISION of its predictive capabilities, since they are assuredly exact at ALL times; the former, for another reason. After all, there were 12 tribes, if you want the word to have some meaning, in Israel. It was NOT a tribalism, and an endeavour to link absolutism to tribalism, as in the Report, therefore, is merely one more case of - let us mimic it - terminological inexactitude.
It is a NATIONAL product, with INTERNATIONAL RAMIFICATIONS, like NAZISM, COMMUNISM and IMPERIALISM, SOCIALISM and EMPIRICISM. It is less tribalist, if you want to be metaphorical, than philosophies, which tend even to be PERSONAL! (is that the most hideous of all, then? scarcely). It is less so than university oriented phalanxes of philosophy, since these tend to come in schools WITHIN a nation.
On the contrary, the Bible - and in particular the Old Testament provided through the Jews - is a national thing, wrought by MANY people in VARIOUS TRIBES over MANY CENTURIES, from that nation; and it is one commanding NATIONAL acceptance, providing NATIONAL judgments (which incidentally were rigorously carried out, though often delayed till no return was permissible, with mercy keenly evident). It is an INTERNATIONAL thing, with judgments on MANY nations proposed and DELIVERED IN HISTORY (a sort of laboratory for such things, where the credentials of predictions can be tested, concerning nations, cities and peoples) - you see that eminently in Jeremiah 1 and 25, for example; but also, for our own day, in Matthew 24 where the WORLD is the site of judgments stipulated, itemised and concerted in a pattern for a time. Currently, in our contemporary situation, that is exactingly being fulfilled to the letter. (No, dear critic, 'letter' is not synonymous for 'literalism', but is a metaphor indicating that whatever is written will precisely be done, not in some vague and inexact manner; but that as it is stated, so it will be. Scientists are familiar with this sort of measurable realism, and others need to be more so in many cases. It is in its place, a good test.)
The more likely candidate for the epithet, tribalist, would be educational philosophers opining in a sort of censorious heap, an intra-mural sub-section of University thought, so that they are NOT ONLY within a nation, but within a University. There was no consensus. This author, for his part, had only contempt for the absent logic and present discrimination, based on presuppositions internally self-contradictory, such as is found in the philosophy of the Report. It is true that tribe, if you want the word, is to be found in parallel if not identical aspects of the zeitgeist, here and there, in dispersions; but the very thing we got in this Report, like the one in South Australia, is distinctively opaque, and has, like some opals, to go to the other extreme, a peculiar opacity of its own.
Imperative See Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason., Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
*17 See Bibliography re Dr Gordon Clark, for years, the Chairman of Butler University Philosophy Department, Cleveland, Ohio, and Appendix.
Dr Clark's work on Religion, Reason and Revelation has a most interesting and explicit passage dealing with the concept of unity of religions ( vide p.I9 supra on which also reference, is made to this present footnote), and the religious phenomena approach such as appears in the Report. It is worthy of inclusion at this point as exposing in a slightly different way, the presuppostionalism of the Report type approach.
A pertinent extract from pp. 20-23 of this volume
of Dr Clark, follows:
The method is unsatisfactory because it requires at the outset the knowledge it aims to obtain at the end. In order to discover the common element 'in all religions, it would first be necessary to distinguish religions from all non-religious phenomena. If there were an authoritative list of religions, a student could begin to examine them for a common element. But before the common element is known, how could an authoritative list be compiled ? If Lewis Carroll tells Alice to examine all Snarks and find the common nature of the Snark, Alice, at least in her waking moments, would not know whether all the objects before her were snarks or even whether any of them were. Now,we are not In a much better position then Alice would be. In our attempt to find the common nature of religion, we believe we are safe in assuming that Christianity and Mohammedanism are religions. But is Hinayana Buddhism a religion ? If it is, then a belief in God is not essential to religion; but if a belief in God is essential then this form of Buddhism is not a religion. Should we examine Buddhism or not ? Should we include Buddhism on our list? To answer this question one would first have to know the essential nature of religion, and yet this essential nature is the still unknown object of search. It does not help to advise us to begin with a smaller undisputed list. In the first place, there is no undisputed list at all. Until religion is known, nothing can be placed on the list. And in the second place, even if we had a small undisputed list, its common elements could not be assumed to be the nature of religion, for with religion, even more than with botany, the common element of a longer list is not likely to be the common element first observed in the shorter list.
Nor is Buddhism the only or most embarrassing difficulty. Consider communism. Ostensibly it is the enemy of all religion, fundamentally and vociferously anti-religious. Indeed, it is religiously anti-religious. Its anti-religious zeal makes it a religion for its adherents. Should the student of religion therefore list communism as one of the world religions and search for the common denominator of communism, Christianity and Buddhism? How could the student decide what to do? Unless he first knows what religion is, he will not know whether or not to examine communism along with the others in the hope of discovering the essential nature of religion.
In addition to this objection to the method, there is also an objection to the usual conclusions it offers. Let it be assumed that Christianity, Mohammedanism and even Buddhism have been examined. Perhaps it is claimed that the common element is a belief in an Original Being. The Phraseology in which such common elements are stated must be so general and is interpreted by the various religions in such incompatible and antagonistic ways that nothing common seems to remain but a name or empty form of words. Original Being for Buddhism may be Nirvana; for Christianity it is the Trinity; for communism it is the atoms. But if the Trinity is spirit and not matter, if the atoms are matter and not spirit, and if Nirvana is neither, it is hard to see that there is any real element in common. Original Being is just a name, a name of nothing, a sound in the air.
Common Human Needs
If in answer to this criticism, it be said that the three original beings perform analogous functions in the three systems, and that this function is a real common element, the reply will be a repetition of the argument. The defense often speaks of the several religions fulfilling the needs of their adherents and thus the common factor in all religions is that they satisfy certain needs, However, this answer will not do. It will not do because the several religions do not agree on what a man needs. Of course there can be verbal agreement that men need what is good for them, but when the specific contents of the good or the need are spelled out, they will be found to differ. Does man need the heaven where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, or does man need Nirvana and personal extinction? No devout Christian will admit that Nirvana or atoms can perform the same function that the Trinity does; nor will the communist or Buddhist admit that the Trinity can do what Nirvana or atoms can do. Only the critics who have no religion can so light-heartedly identify them. The adherents themselves do not claim that their Original Being performs the same function that is claimed for the original Being of other religions. Function and need, like original Being, are nothing but empty names. There is therefore no element in common among those phenomena that are popularly designated as religious.
What then is religion ? Colloquially the word is applied to Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and Christianity. But because it is vague, it can be applied to communism also. Then the definitions of religion take on the form of "what a man will live and die for." Such definitions are completely without content and do not specify any definite subject of scientific investigation.
Conversely, to have a definite and meaningful subject of study, the colloquial and empty word must be relinquished. and some specific contents must be selected. For example. the word God cannot be just any first principle. The Deus sive Natura of Spinoza and the God of Abraham Isaac, and Jacob, as Pascal saw so well, are not the same thing. Nor can salvation mean both Nirvana and heaven, Therefore, if we wish to use the word religion, we must define it particularly. We may wish to discuss Mohammedanism, or we may wish to discuss Christianity. In this sense there are religions, even though there is no religion. True, it may be difficult to define Christianity or Mohammedanism, but it is not impossible. We may to alter the colloquial meaning somewhat in the interests or precision, but the technical definition will not be so far from the common meaning as to be absurd. At any rate, we need clear-cut concepts to avoid confusion. When a term like God is stretched to include every first principle that anybody has ever thought of, and every fetish, spirit, and superstition, though these are not first principles, the term means nothing. As Hegel insisted, every determination Is a negation. Or as Aristotle argued, a term not only must mean something. It also must mean not-something. After centuries of philosophic discussion, it ought not to be necessary to defend the indispensability of unequivocal language; but such is the chaos in discussions in religion and such is the antipathy toward taking a particular point of view that the disastrous results of vague generalities call for emphasis. Let us therefore try to avoid confusion by being explicit. Most words in the dictionary have threes four or even five somewhat different meaning; but if any word had a thousand meanings, or better, if any one word could stand for every other word in the dictionary, nobody could tell what it meant. If a word means everything, it means nothing. To have no definite or limited meaning is to have no meaning at all.
*18 *19 Re these points on HISTORICAL BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY and MIRACLES, see Appendix by that name.
*18a Reason for Faith, as noted, has been superseded by The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, a trilogy, with That Magnificent Rock, in the company of the other 18 volumes of this set, now on the Web and in CD-ROM version, available. All are encouraged to seek an answer for the faith. The faith stands, and logic knows no other attestation. This is precisely what is demonstrated. Any willing to use logical considerations is free to challenge. None has succeeded. When one is defending an innocent man, it is so much easier than seeking to acquit a murderer.
Moreover, since one has found in logic and life alike, that the Lord is the living God, without limit, He is able to act on His own behalf, unlike the Baals and bewildered of this world (cf. Luke 21:14-15 for example). God is gloriously alive, one finds, and to be alive in His presence is found alike, to be glorious. Psalm 107 shows some of the vicissitudes; for the Christian, the cost is not too great, for what can compare with the sublimity of infinity, which is also a PERSON! That this is so is shown in the works noted; but it can be experienced only in the heart and mind and soul of the person interested, so that the Bible says this (Psalm 34:8): "Taste and see that the Lord is good!"
P.158 of the Report. Here we find an intrinsic mythological category in 'religion' is a most 'helpful' proposition; just as we also read, science can help in the interpretation of the myth (p.I33). For myths and the mythopaeic reality, on the contrary, see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp.252H-I, 303, 305, 308ff., 378-385, and index.
Let us take here just one section of these references.
In the first of these, myth is defined as "the imagination of results without adeqaute cause, for the satisfaction of desire".
Observing that Polish geneticist, Professor Maciej Giertych, Head of the Genetics Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kornik, declares a relevant fact, we note the marvellous satisfaction of desire which is enshrined in a view which proceeds as if the fact were unheard of, or the attestation unknown.
The continued insistence, despite lack of current or past evidence, current or past means of performance the alleged marvels of self-control and self-creation from nothing, a clear contradiction in terms, or from something adequate - already there, which merely begs the question; the lack of principles for the purpose; the opposition of fundamental laws of science to the whole charade That Magnificent Rock pp. 199ff. ); the constant re-iteration of the 'hope' that despite these adversities, and the incredible sudden proliferation of life in a multitude of designs and forms in the Cambrian epoch, near the first, an anti-verification of the first order which is at once fatal to all gradualism: yet the book of nature wrote itself, being its own author, this is a myth to end them all. Thus the code was its own composer, and what shows all the actions of our own creations, though far greater in brilliance, is nevertheless its own author, minus means: this is a myth of a category all of its own.
The myth, likewise, that the absolute
God who DID attest that He created, in the Bible, and then stopped, as
the evidence continually confirms in the outworkings of the fact, DID NOT
DO SO, and CANNOT TALK and HAS NOTHING TO SAY to a race which works as
this one does, is even more profound. As HIS CREATION, it is abused; as
ITS CREATOR He has attested enormous works of speech, in commenting on
what we are about, providing remedy for it, and indicating the fatality
of ignoring that remedy. Myth is desire at work; evidence is fromGod at
work. It is necessary to examine the evidence. This is done in the 22 works
on this site, in great detail and with monolithic results. The ONE MYTH
is that God did not create and is speechless.
Biblical Christianity avoids the error of announcing truth from a basis which does not incorporate it, and by a method which does not allow it. Its perspective is claimed to be derived directly by the initiative and action of the Creator, who does not inhabit a relativistic system conditioning His views or limiting His insight. Further argumentation for its necessary truth is provided in my Reason for Faith (see *18a supra). Further apologetics from Professors Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark and Francis Schaeffer appear with some breadth in the Bibliography. All these appproaches avoid the step of arguing for God what He should say. Finite psycho-analysis of the infinite Being is too preposterous to bear rational enquiry; whilst on the other hand, the minimal powers needed for His products is a just ground for the exercise of logic.
The Report, p.238, declares:
'Clearly the commitment of principal and teachers to the
search for truth and the pursuit of authentic community is crucial' (italics
Here it is of interest to consider the foundations in the Koran, giving therefrom indications of exclusivism, attitude and warfare, concisely but relevantly to our point . ( Cf. p.56 infra.) We shall use the translation of Muhammed Zaffrula Khan , from The Quran, 1971.
Warlike attitudes are found on pp.18 and 20, as follows:
(I) 'When you meet in battle those who have disbelieved, smite their necks; and after the slaughter fasten tight the bonds, until the war lays aside its burden...'
(2) 'Fight In the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but transgress not. Surely Allah loves not the transgressors. Once they start the fighting, kill them wherever you meet them, and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for aggression is more heinous than killing. But fight them not in the proximity of the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you therein; should they fight you even there, then fight them: such is the requital or these disbelievers. Then if they desist, surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. Fight them until, all aggression ceases and religion is professed for the pleasure of Allahalone.' (Italics added.)
There is, it is true, some emphasis amid these writings on mercy, on being careful not to initiate physical violence but it is also true that there is a certain remorselessness about the consequences to those involving themselves in the turmoils of the followers of Muhammad with fighting. Indeed, , the italicised portion indicates the response is to continue until 'religion is professed for the pleasure of Allah alone'. Now the pleasures designated for what is conceived of as Allah- these are not lacking in distinctiveness.
First, as to the authority claimed for the book depicting these ( p.48), we read: 'He it is who has sent down to the the Book; in it there are verses that are fundamental - they are the basics of the Book - and there are others which are allegoric ... none knows the meaning thereof except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge: these last affirm We believe in it, all of it is from our Lord...' emphasis added.) There is no trivial suggestion of authority.
It is authority to kill, to kill incessantly till Allah's pleasure is deemed met in the professions made concerning religion. In view of the allegation that it is ALLAH'S WORD, it is perfectly clear that violence and authority, absolutism and absolute power of life and death with absolute insistence where occasion arises, on Allah's words, as specified, being the RULE for all concerned. This is the most absolute of absolutisms. It is evidentially inadequate and incomparable with the Bible; and uses force in the realm of faith in a way which mocks the reality of what faith is, making freedom a mere merchandise, rather than the ground of the disability of this world, through sin. Nevertheless, what some 800,000,000 are professedly believers in, in this world, is this particularly dominant form of absolutism. In view of the evidential situation, it is all the more so; in view of the approach to religious freedom, it is even more so (cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 50ff., 65ff., 91, 829-831, 986-994, 1080-1082, 1186A-C.)
Second, as to pleasure in being contradicted (
a sort of negative profession), we find regarding what is conceived
of as Allah, we find regarding what is conceived of as Allah (p.34): 'Fighting
in it is a great evil; but to hinder people from the way of Allah and to
deny Him and to profane the sanctity of the Sacred Mosque... is a much
greater evil in the sight of Allah; and
disorder is a worse evil than killing.
They will not stop fighting you until they turn you back from your Faith, if they can.' ( Emphasis added.)
Again, some exposure of the attitude of what is termed Allah is shown on p. 4I: 'Allah is the friend of those who believe,' we read. We also find : 'Those who disbelieve their friends are those who hinder people from following the right path; they bring them out of light into every kind of darkness. These are Inmates of the Fire: therein shall they abide'.
Confirming that this attitude is by no means casual, we find ( p.26): 'Some people adopt objects of worship other then Allah and love them as they should love Allah, but those who believe love Allah most. Those who are guilty of such transgression, if they could perceive now the hour when they shall find themselves face to face with the punishment, they would realise that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe In punishment ... the end of all their striving is only a bundle of regrets and ... they will not find a way of deliverance from the Fire.'
Thomas Altizer, who frankly reveals his view in 'The Gospel of Christian Atheism', has marked affinities with this Report Religion, in that work. Thus he speaks vehemently against absolute moral codes, an absolute God, vigorously for liberation from such imposed restrictions and imposes massive ethical restrictions of his own - for their own good - on the presentation by Christians of the Biblical word as actual truth exclusive of what contradicts it.
As in the Report Religion, this last is seen as repressive, indeed retrogressive, looking back to an earlier stage of formulation ( a 'fault' shared with such an item as 2+2=4 , in fact ) and should be avoided by those looking for a kingdom of liberation where mature men may dwell. The maturity of course would consist in following his moral codes, absolutely, and not following those of the Bible, by deleting the absolute, and becoming it, without undue modesty, to the point at issue.
He too looks for the manifestation of what the Report calls the 'underlying unity' ( in his case, it takes a particular form: a dialectical consummation coming with necessity - it would seem we need not pursue the programming problem of this necessity, far loss the programmer - the sufficient propulsive power and information imparting source for the unfolding series. Here also it is to be on his ( Altizer's ) prescription and with his restrictions. As with the Report Religion, we do not need to ask for evidence and reason for such authority, newly erected for our liberation; unlike the case of Biblical prophets, there is no specific basis in assessable evidence, power or supernatural claim and fulfilment. It would all but seem that to him the supernatural comes easily, in that he has but to open his own mouth, and the presuppositions roll as from some assembly line.
However, for the 'educated'? and the rational, EVIDENCE IS ALWAYS NEEDED. We believe, but from a communication assessable; and when we DO believe, then we can follow. But as for following the irrational, the authoritarian, venturesomely expressed, whether by the Report Religion or Altizer, rational prudence cautions otherwise. After all, if they have it, they can show it. If they lack it, they cannot. Since they want it, if they have it, they will show it. They do not show it. End of case.
Nevertheless, in the most intricate of paradoxes, Report Religion, like Altizer, and perhaps in some dependence on his talk of dialectic, which in itself does nothing but move about, TELLS us what to believe in the ways precisely exposed above, and ALSO tells us the need to act like educated people; but these two, THEIR religion and EDUCATED CARE are mutually exclusive, as we have just seen, in this case.
One can see too the resemblance in Altizer's work, to the Report Religion in that each religion has an 'inner logic' of its own: for Altizer, again, this is particularised, as noted, in that there is this movement of the dialectic. It is unfortunate that it seems made by nobody, conditions all things in its enfoldings, and is understood despite this absolutely, with a brilliance so great that it even transgresses the limitations of the system it has created. This, it mould therefore seem, is a marvellous and genuine myth. It has reached highest honours of its kind. In the case of the Report Religion, to call absolute work, qua absolutist, such as exists in the Bible, 'myth' in the face of its being the precise opposite in rational, testable, unconditional, continuing verifiability, is perhaps some form of defence. It is contra-factual, like the other myth just noted, in this 'secular' approach.
Now it is to be noted that the Report Religion is not so specific as Altizer: but its harmony is intense with the underlying structure of this atheistic thought, in the respects observed.
One can feel the relevant 'liberation' : no longer is any absolute 'god' thundering away with absolute morals and requirements: Christ takes care of all that and he himself, in this saga, this improvised scenario using a great figure dominating history (in his predictions by their accuracy, and in His fulfilments of those of the Old Testament, merely to begin!) being swallowed up, in some unintelligible and incoherent manner, into man. ( This seems. if nothing more,, a very great convenience where authority may be a problem.
To re-create Christ after one's own image, or desire, or both, however, though truly what is found in the ultra-historical pronouncements of the Koran, many centuries after His coming, is not a work of ... scholarship, or particularly eminent in ... 'educated' adornment. A mine of subjectivity devoid of evidence, and contrary to all evidence (see, for example, The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Chs. 6, 8, 9), it transgressed basic discipline regarding sources and historical verifiability. It makes history the plaything of philosophy; whereas it has to occur by virtue of what has the power to make it so, not in imagination, but in impactive reality.
Moreover, Christ was not dependent on war-like forces, such as Muhammad used, such as Communism notoriously has used, such as the Inquisition undoubtedly and for grievous centuries used (cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 844ff., 903ff., 923-924, 949-955, 1033-1041); nor is His way asking for more than free commitment, as distinct from sanctions imposed by human authorities on unbelievers. The fact that it does not need them is merely one more verification of its historical accuracy and truth. It is true that results will always accrue when truth is ignored, but these are not aggravated by human forces pushing their allegedly 'true' wares by sanctions, where Jesus the Christ is concerned; for such is not the way of the Gospel (cf. John 3:17).
These were not needed; they were indeed withstood by the Lord, and used in the performance of His pre-announced, remedial and vicarious sacrificial plan of salvation. The truth, as Christ called Himself (John 14:6) was not something that achieved by violence what could be demonstrated objectively without it. In extreme weakness of one man, is the extreme strength of His word demonstrated, when it overcomes all the power of the world, and has indicated many hundreds of years in advance, JUST HOW this will be done; then proceeding to do it!
The power to make history, then, is allied to the power to predict it, and both are verified as found in Christ Jesus. Jointly they become again, in verification, a test-oriented index to the scope of His claims.
Not merely is this so, but to remove the Old Testament predicted deity of Christ (as in Psalm 45,2,110, Micah 5, Zechariah 12:10) is like deciding to re-define Marxism, despite Marx's testimonies, as a form of cannibalistic 'capitalism'! It is disingenuous, and scarcely ingenious; merely blatant and patently a weaving of the contraries with a sort of philosophic adventurism, which lacks what it needs: facts, evidence, method, rational constraint and conclusive force to overthrow the primary documents. (On that, it is illuminating to see C.S. Lewis, a prodigious scholar in the field of ancient documents, in his words as noted in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, pp. 864-865, in the context of pp. 861ff.).
It is indeed not an inner, but an outer and testable logic which is needed when one wishes to re-write history with historical pen. After all, Christ HAD to CONVINCE that He was the Messiah, and Paul had to CONVINCE many, both Jews and Gentiles, that He had fulfilled the requirements and predictions of the scriptures to the 't'; and this had to be in the very face of those with the motivation and incensed anger of Christ's murderers, who in essence were both numerous and powerful, since it was a combine that did the thing; and, indeed, what had to be convincing was simply that He had fulfilled all the requirements of miracle performance as in Isaiah 35, of birth, date, tribe, power of speech, power of rising from the dead, being killed by the Jewish authorities, rising from the dead and so on. This is indicated in somewhat summary form in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 755ff..
As Gladstone put it, If you want to found a new religion, rise from the dead. In this case, it was far more demanding. You had to have all the other qualifications simultaneously, and have had such powers exhibited and expressed before you did it. If you are God, it is not too difficult. If you are not, your powers over history and flesh are not of the dimension required. In the HISTORICAL setting, the desire to exterminate you and your claims would be extreme, and your critics exceedingly well-informed, especially on your predicted base, the Old Testament.
Thus quite apart from the logical necessities that the Bible is demonstrably the word of the assuredly extant God Almighty (as exhibited in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, and That Magnificent Rock especially), there is this inoperable history, within which, with sweeping pen but without sweeping powers, such users of a famous name without authority or ground for belief, such novel religionists must operate in such cases. It cannot be subverted by mere imagination, residing alone. Indeed, one cannot but indicate that if you want to found a new religion, in contrast with what has been founded in history, and contrary to its records, it is better to do it by virtue of your own powers, indicating why you should have this prerogative; than using the name of somebody else, who made the impact and achieved the results which led to the religion.
To do that is a form of historical plagiarism which does
nothing to give the sort of evidence required of the founder in the beginning,
in order to create what in fact followed. Parasitic philosophies
are not at all the same as historical power to actualise. Nor is even that
remotely similar to the constraints of the Bible in its Old Testament format,
both for the nature of the One who should fulfil its requirements, and
for the coverage of history which for hundreds of years it had provided
in explicit verification of its authority. Nor for that matter, is it at
all the same as having this same figure, here Jesus Christ, actually making
His own coverage of history, in precise conformity to the Old Testament
but with much in addition, in such a style as to have it also, in just
that power exhibited on earth, conforming to what He declared The
Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Ch.8).
Indeed, without the ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF and KNOWLEDGE OF the supreme Being,
there is no way ANY claims about the nature of truth and hence of obligation
could even possibly arise! (op.cit. pp.
934ff., and Ch.3).
So what is left ? Well there is Altizer, and were he to have access to a Report Religion, there would apparently be the same sort of problem as for the less specific but cognate Report:
Such a person as that may with some small measure of autonomy pursue ... the necessary course.
It could only be through a lapse in his reasoning powers, however. He is not likely to keep much semblance of autonomy after that, for the milieu concocted for the Report Religion is as indicated above, a wholly authoritarian one.