Good Theology

September 24, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 9:18 pm   Category: Theology

What constitutes good theology?

One might assume that good theology always equals true theology. But based on D&C section 19 I am not sold on that assumption. When I read section 19 I am reminded of the movie line “You can’t handle the truth!” . Further, I gather from section 19 that God has somewhat of a utilitarian view of good theology. That is, the revelation seems to indicate that God is more interested in our actions than our beliefs and if believing something that isn’t entirely accurate leads to right behavior God doesn’t mind the incorrect belief flourishing. If that is true, the best theology is the theology that leads to the best behavior in humans.

But even if the best theology is the theology that leads to the best behavior in humans, we must deal with the problem that people are not all alike. While theology X might be optimal for leading you to right behavior in your life, I might behave best by believing theology Y. So within Mormonism perhaps God goes with as close to a “one size fits all” theology as he can? That might explain the complete lack of a formalized and systematic theology in Mormonism too…

What do you think constitutes good theology?

47 Comments »

  1. I believe God entertains any theology available to the degree he can use it to inspire people to do good, but stops short of promoting actual falsehoods. Approximations, on the other hand – there is always good to be found in approximations.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 24, 2009 @ 10:38 pm

  2. Geoff J: I want the truth!

    God: You can’t handle the truth! …I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 24, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

  3. I want the truth. I may be naive, but I still want it. There is something uncomfortable about the idea that something different from the truth will bring better short term results.

    Yet, it is clear that God expects us to operate on partial information, so at the very least we are not given the whole truth.

    So to answer the question – perhaps good theology is that which brings the most people towards immortality and eternal life. And perhaps partial truth brings the best overall results.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — September 25, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  4. Yeah, I’ll go with truth. But good theology always take into account our limited epistemological perspective and what it is possible for humans to know given our horizon.

    Comment by Blake — September 25, 2009 @ 8:21 am

  5. I would say that God rarely reveals precepts other than to those who have an inkling they might be true in the first place.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 25, 2009 @ 9:07 am

  6. I would say that God rarely reveals precepts other than to those who have an inkling they might be true in the first place.

    I tend to think that the truth is continually before/available to us but that we only grasp/accept the part we want.

    D&C 89:31 Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.

    Still, both perspectives puts the onus squarely on us.

    Comment by A. Davis — September 25, 2009 @ 9:15 am

  7. We all like the full truth in theory, but I am not so sure we like it in practice. Reminds me of the 5 year old who would much rather believe in a literal Santa Claus than learn the truth about Christmas presents even though the truth about Christmas presents is beautiful as well. Section 19 seems to indicate that our God is not so different in his parenting of us regarding useful non-truths than I am with my 5 year old when it comes to believing in Santa. That is, I don’t discourage it and I even subtly encourage it because it make them happy now because I know later they will learn what I know and not be damaged by the transition.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  8. Eric: perhaps good theology is that which brings the most people towards immortality and eternal life

    This of course (like my post) is built on theological/metaphysical assumptions — namely that we need to be led to immortality and eternal life lest we not attain them.

    If “men are that they might have joy” proves to be a metaphysical claim then from a utilitarian lens good theology is theology that leads humans to joy.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 9:37 am

  9. We all like the full truth in theory, but I am not so sure we like it in practice.

    Perhaps we should distinguish between truth as an ontological term vs. truth as descriptor of consequences of behaviors.

    E.g.
    God has a body with 10 fingers and toes
    vs
    Forgiving others leads to inner peace.

    Comment by A. Davis — September 25, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  10. But good theology always take into account our limited epistemological perspective and what it is possible for humans to know given our horizon.

    I think this is quite important and sadly neglected too often.

    That said I think there are and ought be two movements in theology. One is arguing for a particular view of what is true. Let’s call this the systematic theology perspective. The other is more interested in questions and the range of possibilities our theology entails. It’s less concerned with what is true than what is possible within the given narratives.

    I think it’s difficult to keep that epistemological humility that Blake mentions unless we recognize the many ways of reading the texts we have.

    Comment by Clark — September 25, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  11. I think that is a good idea A. Davis. It seems to me that we should all be able to handle truth about the fundamental laws of the universe (the eternal “laws of the harvest” as it were).

    To extend my analogy, a five year old should be taught to not be cruel to others even if she benefits from believing in Santa at that age still.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  12. I’m not sure that I’m theologically minded enough to join in on this discussion, so I apologize if I don’t offer anything new.

    This also may be a threadjack, but since D&C 19 seems to have been a partial impetus for the post, maybe not. I’m not sure that D&C 19 necessarily has to be read to mean that God ever misled us. Especially for all of us, who have had this as part of our theological understanding ever since we were born, or at least ever since we were introduced to the LDS scriptures, we cannot claim to have been misled.

    And, since in the verses it appears the Lord claims he is explaining this so we/they can be like His apostles (which must be apostles of a previous dispensation), they must have known about it, too. So, I’m not sure we can make a good argument about who actually has been misled.

    Also, (similar to D&C 76 and the after life) just because we now know more about endless damnation, doesn’t mean we really know what endless damnation means.

    Anyway, more to the post’s point, it seems like we’ve ruled out completeness as the best metric for theology, at least for us mortals. Perhaps, though, we could define completeness in simpler terms, as in the complete truth necessary for salvation, though that may be a subset of all truth.

    And, as if my post isn’t long or unsubstantial enough, the Santa Claus reference reminds me of my friend who found out Santa Claus was not true right around the time he first remembered hearing the Joseph Smith First Vision story, and it made him think maybe that was a big lie, too. At any rate, I’m a bit of a scrooge, and will probably never let my children develop a belief in Santa Claus anyway, so I can’t relate to that analogy as a whole.

    Comment by Commenter — September 25, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  13. I tend to think that the truth is continually before/available to us but that we only grasp/accept the part we want.

    I think in epistemological terms that is essentially correct, but that confirmation by inspiration is a far more efficient way of learning the approximate truth of something than conducting a research project, if indeed real world experiments are often required to make practical principles stick.

    One some issues knowledge by any other means is completely impractical. No telescope is likely to tell you what heaven is like, nor can any number of experiments tell you which ordinances God endorses.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 25, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

  14. Commenter,

    The point about section 19 here (and in the post I linked to) is not that God misled any of us individually, rather it is that God allows misleading information to be in canonized scriptures when it serves his greater objectives.

    Perhaps, though, we could define completeness in simpler terms, as in the complete truth necessary for salvation

    This is based on the theological assumption that other theological assumptions like universalism are not correct, so it is sort of circular logic to use that as a metric to decide whether a theology is complete or not. If it starts with the wrong theological assumptions it certainly can’t be considered complete.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  15. I think that with a few significant exceptions narrative theology is superfluous. And again with the same exceptions, who really cares about *how* we read a text.

    The truth of any remotely pragmatic principle is determinable by empirical and spiritual means, and the text is nothing other than a shortcut or a summary of things that previous inspired authors have deemed to be reliable.

    For example, sometimes Paul reads like a closet Calvinist. Who cares? A relatively simple theological argument is adequate to demonstrate that scholastic Calvinism is not only dubious, it is practically absurd, approximating the theology of having no theology – stuff happens, and God did it. Without the questionable superstructure of classical theism (which apparently was around in Paul’s time), no one in their right mind would be likely to take it seriously.

    Scriptures are useful as a common heritage, a common language, and a doctrinal reference – to keep a group of believers more or less on the same page. Beyond that, slavish devotion to the text, or to the understanding of the author at the time in which he wrote it, only rarely rises above the level of a historical exercise.

    Theology, even natural theology, tempered by experience and inspiration, runs circles around the limitations of almost any particular text. That is why the anti-theological instinct is so impoverished. We are going to have a random grab bag of principles, but we are not going to think about whether they make any sense, not even in the very terms that the original authors thought about to be able to put pen to paper in the first place.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 25, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  16. Theology, even natural theology, tempered by experience and inspiration, runs circles around the limitations of almost any particular text. That is why the anti-theological instinct is so impoverished.

    Hehe. Awesome Mark.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  17. Mark brings up a really good point though. One definition of good theology might be an internally consistent and a coherent theology. Interestingly, while Calvinism achieves a level of internal consistency it ends up painting God as a cruel, sadistic narcissist in the end.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  18. I think a good theology probably ought to adequately deal with the problem of evil — both the logical problem and the lesser problem. Calvinism fails this test. Most free will theologies in Christianity (including Mormon variations) get past the logical problem (because with free will God does not directly cause all evil) but fail to compellingly answer the problems of explaining an occasionally intervening God.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 25, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

  19. Correct me (a lot) if I’m wrong, but it seems like these passages are more Book of Mormon directed than Bible (scripture rather than current theological debate seems to be the target). So possibly this is to temper the Book of Mormon expressions like 2 Nephi 1:13 or 2 Nephi 1:22 or 2 Nephi 9:19, etc. Perhaps, given these texts and others like them D&C 19 separates the eternal tormenting “place” from the eternal torment “experience.” Or something like that.

    Comment by WVS — September 25, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

  20. The “truth” is an interesting thing. Have I told you the truth if it results in actions that would not be how you would act if you really understood the entire context?

    Abraham in Egypt and Sarah as his sister. It got him treated by Pharaoh the way he would have been had his status been truly understood.

    Once one acknowledges that our understanding is limited by our context and the weakness of our language, then the real question becomes just what flaws in understanding are acceptable to God and which ones are not.

    Comment by Stephen M (ethesis) — September 25, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  21. Perhaps our doctrine has always been what we accused all other of being, scripture mixed with the philosophies of man. Since the revelatory process proceeds from God through the free agents of human senses, it never gets put on paper perfectly. God then spends the period of time following a revelatory event purifying the message.

    Perhaps we can say our doctrine (our understanding of the revelation) today is more pure (more in line with God’s intent) than the day it was given.

    Comment by Patrick — September 25, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  22. Good theology is doctrine that is pure and without mystery. Personally I think there is more to what the Lord is speaking of in section 19 than we think. First off we need to look at who he is addressing. He is ultimately addressing the unrepentant who remain that way after the millennium and resurrection. This is who he is speaking of. Now as to the type of suffering. He doesn’t necessarily say that he allowed us to be misled for his sake and cause, no not at all. All he clarifies here is that even as he is an eternal being, that he shall go on forever, so to is his punishment to those who remain unrepentant.

    In simple terms it merely means that the punishment could go on forever- as Long as the Lord goes on forever, but also that it can be stopped or ended. Obviously there is the logic that it can only stop if one repents. As this applies to the sons of perdition, we may have an interesting doctrine in the making because it allows for even the sons of perdition to have an end to their suffering at some point. I once read another text, an old revelation given decades ago to a man in Chicago (non-LDS). The text explained very well this same concept but in much greater detail.

    It explained that the institution of hell is an eternal designation unto all who would remain disobedient. For some the term must be met- just like an actual prison sentence, while for others they could be released when they finally repented. The logic of it is as stated- As long as one “eternally” remains disobedient, they shall suffer “eternally” in hell, meaning that it goes on forever until they change, because hell itself is not going anywhere.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — September 25, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  23. Thanks Geoff. Sounds like we think alike on this matter.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 25, 2009 @ 11:15 pm

  24. I think good theology is revealed to us line upon line, precept upon precept, hopefully with a few dispensations of greater amounts now and then.

    Comment by Mike — September 26, 2009 @ 4:09 am

  25. Yes. But since when has anything been revealed to anyone without them thinking about it first? Barring extraordinary circumstances…

    Comment by Mark D. — September 26, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  26. Good theology: Doing what’s right for the best reason you can come up with.

    Comment by Jack — September 26, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  27. 21. Perhaps our doctrine has always been what we accused all other of being, scripture mixed with the philosophies of man.

    Perhaps a deconstruction of that phrase would be interesting. Is Satan saying a falsehood here? (I don’t think so.) But at the same time, is he not simply describing to the messengers the fallen human condition? How can anything we communicate not be tainted with the philosophies of men? Reading it this way, Satan is describing something that is almost inevitable in the way we learn and teach. We keep promises, wait for messages from Father, and then immediately those new teachings are integrated into our man-philosophies. The ones we inevitably carry around in our minds.

    Thanks, 21, you’ve given me some interesting food for thought.

    Comment by BHodges — October 1, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  28. maybe the truth matters
    2 Thessalonians 2:10-11
    And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    Comment by Patricia — June 22, 2010 @ 9:18 am

  29. I suspect you are missing the point of this conversation Patricia.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 22, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  30. I think taking D&C 19 as any kind of “theology” per se is reading way more into it than can be justified.

    [But then, perhaps that is what "theology" is all about? Speculating well-beyond what can be supported by any text!]

    D&C 19 is not a work of “theology”. It was a revelation given through Joseph TO Martin Harris to get Harris to change HIS behavior, not to get everyone to change their behavior. Any so-called “theology” contained in it must be interpreted with that purpose in mind and should not be interpreted, therefore, as generic, universal “theology” or “commandment” for all people at all times in all places.

    The bottom line “point” of the revelation was to get Martin Harris to mortgage his farm to publish the Book of Mormon. Printers wanted nothing to do with publishing the BOM, some for religious reasons, and many because they feared nobody would want it and it would not sell. Joseph, Oliver, and Martin could only get a publisher if payment could be assured. That is why Harris mortgaged his farm, over the protests of his wife, who is considered by many historians to have been the person who stole the 116 pages.

    Of all people, Martin Harris himself feared the BOM would fail to sell, and he would literally lose his farm. This was a rational fear, as the The people of Palmyra and vicinity had heard of the coming publication of the BOM and had organized a boycott and protests.

    Joseph Knight recalls:

    “[Harris] Came to us and after Compliments he says, ‘The Books will not sell for no Body wants them.’ Joseph says, ‘I think they will sell well.’ Says he, ‘I want a Commandment [revelation].’ ‘Why,’ says Joseph, ‘fulfill what you have got.’ ‘But,’ says he, ‘I must have a Commandment.’ Joseph put him off. But he insisted three or four times he must have a Commandment. [The following day] he got up and said he must have a Commandment to Joseph and went home. And along in the after part of the Day Joseph and Oliver Received a Commandment which is in Book of Covenants [D&C 19].”

    All the so-called “theological” talk of “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment”, as well as the “milk” versus “meat” concepts are incidental to the fact that Joseph was dependent on Martin for getting the BOM published, and Martin was having to contend with his wife over funding such a venture, and they were all facing the opposition of the “people of Palmyra and vicinity”.

    Drawing general LDS theological implications from D&C 19 would be like drawing theological implications from a personal father’s blessing given me by my dad.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  31. Dan,

    Yes, we discussed D&C 19 at some length in this thread (your point largely coming out in Kurt’s comment #70 and the huge argument that followed). I understand your point, but I don’t fully agree. The revelations of the D&C were not published for merely historical value. Joseph Smith didn’t publish his revelations simply to record the things that happened. You can tell by the edits he made in preparation for publication that he intended the revelations to be applied more generally than you have suggested.

    That said, I agree that we need to be very careful in understanding the historical setting for the revelation and its meaning at the time it was given to interpret it responsibly. I see in D&C 19 many verses at the beginning of the section which are not limited in scope to the situation of Martin Harris. You say that the “so-called” theological talk is incidental to the historical setting, but I disagree entirley. You may care more about the historical setting, but that is not a very good reason to ignore the other parts of the revelation. Nothing about it being incidental calls into question the content of the theological talk at the beginning of the revelation. I think you are way off base in your conclusions.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 29, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  32. Dan,

    I am baffled by your comment. D&C 19 is as canonized as any other scripture in our standard works. Are you saying it is uniquely not “theology” or that none of our canonized scriptures should be considered “theology”?

    If it reveals things about God and how God thinks and works then it certainly is an important contributor to any version of a Mormon theology.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 11:57 am

  33. Jacob,

    I agree with your point:

    Nothing about it being incidental calls into question the content of the theological talk at the beginning of the revelation.

    But my point is that there is nothing about the historical context or the text itself that supports the assumption that a coherent, unified theology underpins the revelation. That is the implication of my saying it is not a theological revelation in any way. It was not intended as such, and it is a distortion (reading too much into it) to blithely treat it as if it was.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  34. Geoff J.

    My response to Jacob applies equally to your comment.

    Strictly speaking, I am saying that MOST of what we have in the scriptures (especially the D&C) are not deliberate theological efforts. They were “revelations” or “instruction” or someone’s “opinion” (albeit often an ancient person’s opinion) about dealings in their context and worldview. As such, when we know that a “revelation” such as D&C 19 was a revelation given through Joseph Smith TO Martin Harris, and was not a deliberate discourse on a specific theological point, then we shoulde not take it as “theology”. If we do, we are interpolating our own wishful thinking into the text and, perhaps, leading ourselves astray.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  35. Dan: But my point is that there is nothing about the historical context or the text itself that supports the assumption that a coherent, unified theology underpins the revelation.

    No one here assumed section 19 does that.

    But that does not mean the revelation in section 19 should be dismissed when discussing Mormon theology either. I gathered from your initial comment that you were saying we should ignore section 19 when we try to piece together a coherent Mormon theology.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  36. Dan: D&C 19 was a revelation given through Joseph Smith TO Martin Harris, and was not a deliberate discourse on a specific theological point

    But in this case it doesn’t matter who the revelation was directed toward. If God says: “I am God and this is why I did X, Y, or Z way back when” it is utterly moot who God is talking to. The important part is that it is God telling someone something about Himself. And since theology is literally the study of God clearly something like that would be an important data point.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  37. Geoff,

    But in this case it doesn’t matter who the revelation was directed toward. If God says: “I am God and this is why I did X, Y, or Z way back when” it is utterly moot who God is talking to.

    There is the neo-Platonism sneaking in.

    It absolutely DOES matter to whom a revelation is directed and the purposes for which it was given. More importantly, it ignores the fact that a great deal of language and literature is filled with inert matter – words that are used inadvertently and are extraneous to the point of the “revelation” or writing. Extrapolating significant theological conclusions from such “inert matter” is not only wrong, but very dangerous.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  38. Geoff (#36)

    I gathered from your initial comment that you were saying we should ignore section 19 when we try to piece together a coherent Mormon theology.

    That is exactly what I am saying.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  39. Moreover, I am suggesting that the effort to “piece together a coherent Mormon theology” presumes (perhaps erroneously) that such a coherent theology even exists (hidden behind the writings and revelations of disparate “prophets” and authors), least of all should be “pieced together”.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  40. Dan,

    If you are of the opinion that there can never be a coherent Mormon theology then we probably are speaking past each other.

    Of course I don’t know what you even would mean by that. Are you claiming Mormonism is just false? Are you of the opinion that humans simply can never understand how God and the universe work so we should stop trying?

    Look, we have revelations from God that are about God. If we assume those revelations are reliable then we can indeed use them to try to study God and understand God better. That is what theology is.

    If you are opposed to theology in general all I can say is The Thang may not be your thang since we spend a lot of time on discussing God and the way the universe works (aka theology) here.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  41. Geoff,

    I can see already that failing to read carefully seems to be infecting several on these boards.

    If you read what I posted carefully, you will see that I have never said “there can never be a coherent Mormon theology”, nor that “Mormonism is just false”, nor that “humans simply can never understand how God and the universwe work…”

    How you go about failing to read carefully what I posted, and then erroneously attribute to me a large number of ideas, is exactly the same kind of problem I see with the failures to read D&C 19 carefully, and erroneously attributing many ideas to that revelation in the name of “theology”.

    I am not opposed to “theology”… just poor theology.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  42. Sorry, let me correct that…

    “very poor and baseless theology” is what I meant to write.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  43. Dan,

    Ok so that clarifies some things. So what in your estimation would serve as a solid foundation for a Mormon theology?

    The reason I ask is because you seem anxious to throw parts of our canon out the window. If we can’t rely on the canon to give us clues about God what should we look to instead? Or maybe you have parts of the canon you find more reliable than others? I am trying to understand where you are coming from here.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  44. Geoff,

    Once again, I have nowhere recommended “throwing parts of our canon out the window”. Indeed, I have merely encouraged that we not try to wrest from the canon more than can be supported, and this can best be done by a very careful and strict reading revolving around the obvious purpose of the text and the known historical context. It is obvious that this revelation was an “answer” to Martin Harris’ concerns. This was the “commandment” he was seeking. Its purpose was to get Martin to hand over the $3,000 or $5,000. It was not requested or meant to be anything more than that. It was obviously never meant to be a theological exegesis, nor to support theological speculation. Other parts of the canon, and certain authors, are obviously and deliberately “theological” and are meant to be taken as such. But not nearly as many as most of us assume. We get bad theology when we base our speculations on non-theological material.

    Comment by Dan — June 29, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  45. Dan,

    You seem like a pretty smart guy. So I hope you won’t be offended when I point out that your argument is completely ludicrous.

    As I understand your argument, you are basically saying that because the revelation in section 19 was directed toward Martin Harris the places where God explains some eternal truths should be ignored.

    The obvious problem with this logic is that major portions of the D&C are also revelations directed to specific individuals. Should we discount what God says about himself in those sections as well? When God explains some eternal truth to Martin Harris are we to assume God was not telling the truth?

    Look, the obvious fact is that God made some claims about himself and about the nature of the universe in section 19. You can either believe those records are accurate descriptions of the universe or not. But the fact that God revealed those things in a revelation that was directed to Martin Harris is utterly beside the point. Either the revelations are accurate or they aren’t. If the revelation is accurate then it must be included as a piece of any Mormon theology.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

  46. By the way Dan, you are up in the night when you claim certain scriptures were deliberately “theological” and others are not theological. It almost sounds like you have invented some private meaning of the word “theology” that only you know about. Theology is the study of God. If God says something about himself in a canonized revelation then by definition that is a useful theological passage.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  47. Its purpose was to get Martin to hand over the $3,000 or $5,000.

    Obviously, texts don’t don’t have a purpose in and of themselves. So, I assume you mean either that God’s purpose in giving the revelation was to convince Martin Harris to do something, or you mean that Joseph Smith’s purpose in dictating the revelation was to get Martin Harris to do something. Which of those is it, or did you have something else in mind?

    It was not requested or meant to be anything more than that.

    You base this declaration on what evidence? You are demanding a very “strict” reading based on what seems to me to be a very subjective standard. Obviously God can decide to expound on whatever he wants while answering someone’s question. Answers commonly take on greater scope than the request that initiated them.

    It was obviously never meant to be a theological exegesis

    Of course I agree, since there is nothing in the revelation that suggests it is interpreting a separate text.

    …nor to support theological speculation

    I see you claiming this over and over, but I don’t see you backing it up with any compelling reason or any specific criteria for when something can support theological speculation.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 29, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

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