[sword-devel] EarlyFathers Genbook

DM Smith dmsmith555 at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 8 14:00:35 MST 2008

On Jun 8, 2008, at 3:30 PM, Brian J. Dumont wrote:

>> If this is one huge module it's not a big problem because casual  
>> readers
>> will avoid it and people can see what it is. It's also easy to add a
>> notice in the About section. However, if the module is chopped in  
>> pieces
>> it's harder to say whether some module is part of this compilation  
>> or a
>> respectable work on its own. A notice in About section is again good.
>> But it should be decided on case by case basis by someone who knows  
>> the
>> content.
> I'd strongly be in favor of a notice in the About section that this
> module contains a wide swath of texts of interest to Biblical  
> scholars,
> including documents that have historically and currently are  
> considered
> heretical as well as documents which have been widely accepted in
> mainstream Christianity.
> I see no need to try to sort out which ones are and which are not
> acceptable; but the fact that we have an "unorthodox" category and  
> have
> *not* placed this text into that category is sufficient reason to  
> add a
> notice.
> I don't think it's a totally fair to compare "Pilgrim's Progress" to
> "The Gospel of Thomas"; they are of a totally different nature.  One
> purports to be historical fact and one does not.  I agree that we all
> need to learn to think more critically, and wouldn't consider removing
> these documents; they have a very real place in Biblical study and  
> are a
> great addition to Sword's library.  Nonetheless it is appropriate to
> give a disclaimer.

Personally, I don't mind a disclaimer if it is worded well. But I have  
several problems with the identification of heretical material.

Heresy is is not a clearly defined word. Some popular definitions I  
have recently heard in practice:
1) Any deviation from what I believe as fundamental to my belief. (I  
find that too many people/churches major on the minors, calling them  
2) Any deviation from what my church teaches.
3) Any belief in what my church teaches as wrong.
	Tongues, Music, good works.
	(Anecdote: I talked to someone who believe that all modern Christian  
choruses were of the devil. Only the hymns were sacred. Turns out that  
her notion of sacred hymns dated to popular Christian songs when she  
was in college in the 40's)
4) Any deviation from historical Christianity. What's historical?  
Since Christ? Since Luther? Since Calvin? Since the mid 1850's? Since  
I became a believer?
	Pentecostalism, Charismatic teaching
	Luther's teachings
	Calvin's teachings
	Armenian's teachings

As Peter pointed out, the notion of heresy differs over time.

By nature, we are culturally syncretic without knowing it. (Syncretism  
is a major problem that missionaries battle.)

Personally, I don't think we should sit as an editorial board  
identifying the value of module content. (Though I agree that the  
"Gospel of Thomas" is heretical.)

If the "Early Church Fathers" is presented as a single module, the  
above disclaimer is fine. But if the module is broken into parts, the  
problem is that a given part (now module) may be entirely fine, but we  
have lead the reader to think that something in it is heretical. And  
if a part is entirely heretical, we may have led the reader to the  
conclusion that part is fine.

We may not know it, but some of the people that we collaborate with  
here probably don't share our same beliefs. I think we just share the  
same practical goals (perhaps with different motivations).

I've said my piece and have my peace:)

In Him,

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