“Silly” Arguments

The attempts of liberals to interpret Scripture according to their own would-be autonomous categories have always struck me as exercises in futility due to the admission that they have already rejected Scripture anyway. The lengths to which people will go in an attempt to justify sin in themselves and in others are rather incredible. One can know this by taking a look at how one attempts to justify one’s own sin. [Edit: Payton Alexander has expressed to me that he does not wish to be labeled a liberal. I cannot find any place where I have given him that label.]

Payton Alexander has written in response to a post written by a friend of mine (“Machen”) after having contacted William D. Lindsey – an openly homosexual Roman Catholic blogger – for help. Payton labels my friend’s argument “silly” and provides a portion of Mr. Lindsey’s email immediately afterward.

Even without having attacked my argument, Machen’s own argument regarding Leviticus is silly.

In my research for this article, I contacted William Lindsey about Machen’s argument via email. Among other things, he had this to say (my notes are in brackets):

1. He emphasizes repeatedly that Paul’s intent is to condemn “homosexual practice.” Yet he launches into an argument which focuses exclusively on forbidding male homosexual contact, as if “homosexual practice” is equivalent to male homosexual behavior. Homosexual women: you have a free pass!

2. He dismisses the powerful and significant argument that Paul uses a neologism in this passage, when koine Greek of his period had specific and well-understood words to describe homosexuality. And he does so by suggesting that Paul is trying to replicate in Greek a Hebrew phrase; when Paul is writing for and communicating with people who are culturally Greek and not Hebrews at all, for the most part!

This would imply that Paul’s intent is to equate the gospel with Jewish law and custom, something he vehemently works against in writings like Galatians. Not to mention the fact that nobody would have noticed the reference at all.

But to point out the obvious–that koite often refers to sexual contact in Greek–is really to say nothing at all, nothing significant about this word for his argument. He seems to think that by making this etymological point he proves that the word refers to homosexual sex when joined with the word “arsenos.” [Of course, I have already shown what “arsenokoitai” means. It is not in conflict with Machen’s etymological point here, either, as it definitely would have included homosexual sex. What Machen does not realize is that it must have been homosexual sex in the context of prostitution, as I said earlier.]

He’s arguing that because Paul was intent on communicating clearly, he adopted a mysterious and totally undefined new word! And that he did so while addressing a Greek audience, in order to play on an understanding of a Hebrew text with which they were not familiar, because they were culturally Greek and not Hebrew at all.

He’ll have to do far better to build a convincing argument. If so much hinges on condemning homosexuality, why would the person who thinks that everything hinges on it resort to such intricate, unexpected verbal tactics to communicate a very plain point that could easily have been communicated in the plain Greek that the people to whom he was writing spoke?

Mr. Lindsey believes that Machen is “suggesting that Paul is trying to replicate in Greek a Hebrew phrase; when Paul is writing for and communicating with people who are culturally Greek and not Hebrews at all, for the most part!” Yet Machen is suggesting that Paul is getting his language from the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. So Paul is not “trying to replicate in Greek a Hebrew phrase” even though doing so was a common practice. While Paul is the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’ it is absurd to suggest that there were no Jewish people around especially given Paul’s being Jewish. There were Greeks or Gentiles present as well and Jews affected by Hellenization. The last group mentioned read from the Septuagint which New Testament authors would actually quote from.

Mr. Lindsey writes that “This would imply that Paul’s intent is to equate the gospel with Jewish law and custom, something he vehemently works against in writings like Galatians.” Quoting and alluding to the Old Testament does not at all imply that an author is equating the Gospel with Jewish law and custom. Paul argues in Galatians that the Gospel was preached in the Old Testament. Mr. Lindsey states [Edit: Payton has informed me that he made an error in his post. The statement in question is not written by Mr. Lindsey but instead by Payton.] that it is a “fact that nobody would have noticed the reference at all.”  Why [Payton] would be so bold as to assert this as “fact” is unknown to me but there were those who unlike [Payton] knew Scripture.

Mr. Lindsey continues, “He’s arguing that because Paul was intent on communicating clearly, he adopted a mysterious and totally undefined new word!” Just prior to Mr. Lindsey’s misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this point of the argument Mr. Lindsey inconsistently states that the meaning of one of the Greek terms in question is “obvious”. Setting the inconsistency aside it has already been explained that the word is neither “mysterious” nor “undefined”. Mr. Lindsey states that Paul “adopted a mysterious and totally undefined new word” and follows by stating that “he did so while addressing a Greek audience, in order to play on an understanding of a Hebrew text with which they were not familiar, because they were culturally Greek and not Hebrew at all.” Again Paul’s “audience” could not have been exclusively Greek and Paul is not working from a Hebrew text. [Edit: Payton claims that Mr. Lindsey likely agrees with me that Paul is not working from a Hebrew text. I am not sure how this squares with Mr. Lindsey’s insistence that the argument is “suggesting that Paul is trying to replicate in Greek a Hebrew phrase.” ] Mr. Lindsey’s claims are quite confused.

Mr. Lindsey asks, “If so much hinges on condemning homosexuality, why would the person who thinks that everything hinges on it resort to such intricate, unexpected verbal tactics to communicate a very plain point that could easily have been communicated in the plain Greek that the people to whom he was writing spoke?” It is not clear to me what Mr. Lindsey means by “so much” hinging on condemning homosexuality or why he believes that the explanation provided consists of “intricate, unexpected verbal tactics” any more than a liberal’s attempt to explain away the clear teachings of the passages in question.


3 Comments

Payton

Your response is epic. WHAT?!?! The U.S.S. Maine??? Blown up in Havana!?!?!

I was literally blasted back to the late 19th century.

Nice to see you’ve read my article. I knew you’d have something to say 😀

I posted a comment on UP in response, sorry in advance if it’s disorganized. It took me FOREVER to get the new commenting system to work on my computer…

I’m going to be really happy if you get my jokes at the top of this comment btw

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chrisbolt

I have made some comments in the post in light of the concerns you raised in your comment at UP.


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