Coronavirus, Valuing Science Converging With Valuing Faith, and Jesus On Hand Washing
The error of Scientism is an error born of Non-Theism and yet that same error ((Scientism)) infects Christian premises as it leads Christians to follow suit and take  God’s Commission of “Come In And Know Me” ((…Prayer, Theology, Intimacy in & with Him…)) and pit it against  God’s Commission of “Go Out & Subdue The Earth” ((…master the created order, the physical sciences…)).
The Non-Theist’s error of Scientism just is the Christian’s error of “Commission-1 Pitted Against Commission-2” vis-à-vis Faith “vs” Science ((…wait…. for… it….)). Notice that the second half of God’s Dual-Command “just is” to appreciate & unpack and master and subdue the Created Order. It “just is” Science. Science Flourished In The Christianized Mindset. But Why? https://randalrauser.com/2018/02/biblical-god-ignorant-science/#comment-4138241674
Historically the [set] of beliefs we are operating out of with respect to reality as intelligible have not always been with us ((well, not in full)). Realism and Antirealism and “Reality Is Intelligible” all arrive out of a history of “becoming” — out from former contours of “The Gods Play & The People Pay So Reality Isn’t Intelligible”. As Jennings reminds us with a quote of William M. Walton: “The metaphysician knows that his task is to search for the ultimate foundation of the intelligibility of things.”
Before going further, a brief reminder: The error of Scientism is an error born of Non-Theism and yet that same error ((Scientism)) infects Christian premises as it leads Christians to follow suit and take  God’s Commission of “Come In And Know Me” ((…Prayer, Theology, Intimacy in & with Him…)) and pit it against  God’s Commission of “Go Out & Subdue The Earth” ((…master the created order, the physical sciences…)). The Non-Theist’s error of Scientism just is the Christian’s error of “Commission-1 Pitted Against Commission-2” vis-à-vis Faith “vs” Science. Notice that the second half of God’s Dual-Command “just is” to appreciate & unpack and master and subdue the Created Order. It “just is” Science.
Science leads us look at the concept of Gathering In Church Etc. within a pandemic and to say, “Yes of course we should take precautions and if God’s Great Commission-2 says “ABCD” well then we’ll incorporate “ABCD” into our plans and practices….” Then, from there, we know that, given God’s Commission-2 we cannot and ought not “Thumb Our Nose” at said Commission-2 by expunging/ignoring said “ABCD” and the reason WHY is that it is “Foolish to Tempt God” by pitting HIS Commission-1 against HIS Commission-2 – one against the another. Besides, there’s no need to in that sense because “We are the Church” and “The Church” is not the building down on the corner of so-and-so-avenue.
God’s Commission of “Come In And Know Me” and God’s Commission of “Go Out & Subdue The Earth” converge and speak One Language — One Metanarrative — One Metaphysic ((…wait… for… it…)) and therefore the following ends up misguided, or incomplete, or lopsided, or as a Half-Narrative: “Canceling worship services reveals a lack of trust! Gather Round Y’all!” The reply to that Half-Narrative is to fill in the Other-Half ((so to speak)) with, “Why do you put the Lord to the test?“(( Ex 17:2 & Matt 4:7)).
The way we approach that is to speak of 1. Prayer and 2. God and 3. GOD’S DUAL COMMISSION of Commission-A vis-à-vis “Come in & know Me” (Creator/Theology/Etc.) plus Commission-B vis-à-vis “Go Out & Subdue The Earth” (Created Order/Physical Sciences/Etc.). Both are a part of the Whole even as both go hand in hand even as neither lives in a vacuum.
Notice how the Non-Theistic silliness of “Weighing God In Kilograms” and of “Let’s Set Up Prayer Experiments & Claim We Can Control For the God-Factor” and “Let’s Test God And Thereby Measure God” all reduce to the Non-Theist//Atheist Strawmanning/Re-Invention of Christian premises — and — then — notice how THAT whole mess actually echoes the SAME set of errors inside of the Christian’s “Let’s Pit God’s Commission-A against God’s Commission-B” — and — then — notice how all of THOSE are nothing more than Scientism’s many self-negations showing up in various forms both inside and outside of the Church/Christianity.
Again notice that the second half of God’s Dual-Command “just is” to appreciate & unpack and subdue and master the Created Order. It “just is” Science.
YET/BUT/WAIT – well okay we see that science & faith speak of one whole — “…but what about regular persecution? Should we go to Church then…?” That is “that“ and “Everything” isn’t always “that” with respect to Gathering-In-His-Name. YES, SURE, there ARE cases where good’ol-fashioned ((non-pandemic Etc. Etc.)) hate and persecution leads to various threats of Law Suits or Jail or Physical Persecution and evils of that nature and YES such fact-sets DO/WOULD lead us to “Go To Church And Just Trust God With Whatever Happens” depending on variables. But notice that THAT situation and set of causes/effects is NOT the set of causes/effects which we find in trying to Pit God Against God vis-à-vis Commission-1 Against Commission-2 vis-à-vis “Testing-God” vis-à-vis “Faith vs. Science” vis-à-vis the [Anti-Scriptural||Anti-Scientific] error of, “Don’t Employ Sound Medicine Or Else You Are Revealing A Lack of Faith!”
A pamphlet was written in 1527 by Martin Luther and it looked at the question of, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague” as a plague had overtaken Luther’s city of Wittenberg. While Luther did slip into the edges of Occasionalism ((God Causes Everything)) from time to time, he rightly shows the convergence of God’s Commission-1 with God’s Commission-2 with the following:
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
A Few References For Context:
- “Science Flourished In The Christianized Mindset. But Why?” https://randalrauser.com/2018/02/biblical-god-ignorant-science/#comment-4138241674
- “C. S. Lewis on the Coronavirus” – by Matt Smethurst https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/cs-lewis-coronavirus/
- “Living with Contagious Uncertainty” – by Ben McFarland https://biologos.org/post/living-with-contagious-uncertainty/
Gratuitous Evil? Jesus And Hand Washing?
Let’s start with a basic lens on how to define or view the phrase of “God-Does-X-With-All-Things” for a brief look at Gratuitous Evil and then we will move on to whether or not Jesus condemns handwashing.
As we start from the General and move to the Specific we find that out Non-Theist friends sloppily equate [Atheists Do Evil Things] to [Christians Do Evil Things] to [Evil Exists] and then somehow connect those dots to [The Christian Metaphysic Defines All Of That As Good]. That leaves our Non-Theist friends failing to distinguish *—ism* (paradigm) from *—ist* (person). Zooming in to Natural Evils we find that whatever “Event” ((Corona Virus, Natural Evils, Etc.)) one claims as a part of that sort of sloppy “God-Causes-Everything ((and so God caused Event X too etc.))” ends up as a misguided and even incoherent claim.
Coherence and precision arrive, instead, by the claim that “God-Uses-Everything ((and so God uses this Event X too etc.))” rather than by the error of Occasionalism ((God Causes Everything)). The fact that God-Uses-Everything finds that when we unpack Causality and Contingency and Intentionality and “Being Itself as The-Good-Itself” we in fact retain coherence. Otherwise the incoherence of Occasionalism and the incoherence of “The Greater Good” Fallacy arrive. It seems painfully obvious that Christianity is not Pantheism and so “ontological distinctions” would naturally arrive there. However, when “Agenda” presses upon the Will/Emotions it seems a handful of Christianity’s critics allow sloppiness to blur those hard distinctions. Tedious.
Speaking of tedium – one more time: Christianity is not Pantheism and so “ontological distinctions” again press in all over again – contrary to sloppiness which blurs those hard distinctions.
That Is Why We Arrive At: Gratuitous Evil is a Metaphysical Impossibility:
Well, that is if we are discussing logical impossibilities BOTH within Non-Theism AND within the Christian Metaphysic. And, as expected, that logical impossibility is present in both but for very different reasons.
Objective||Irreducible ((…as opposed to Subjective/Reducible…)) Moral Facts at reality’s rock-bottom — or we can say the Objective Fact of Objective Evil — or we can say the Objective Incline of Better/Worse — or we can say the Objective Ought-Be — or we can say any such Objective ((…not subjective…)) “Incline/Decline” does NOT fit within the paradigm of Metaphysical Naturalism. The reason why is because there are no such Objective||Irreducible Moral Facts at reality’s rock-bottom given Metaphysical Naturalism ((…see https://metachristianity.com/objective-and-irreducible-evil-exists-therefore-objective-and-irreducible-good-exists-therefore-god-exists/ …)). Then – from there – we find that for all the same reasons ((therefore)) it is the case that [Gratuitous Evil] doesn’t fit into Metaphysical Naturalism either because Objective Evil does not exist therein.
Whereas, the objective fact of Evil and of Better/Worse and of Ought-Be and of any such “Incline/Decline” DOES fit within the Christian Metaphysic. And – then – we find that [Gratuitous Evil] CANNOT fit within the Christian Metaphysic given the painfully obvious fact that ANY Mutable & Contingent Vector ((so to speak)) CANNOT even in principle out-reach / out-cause / somehow contain / somehow man-handle the Timeless & Immutable & Necessary Being. And, also, in the reverse, we find that the Timeless & Immutable & Necessary Being “Cannot-Not-Contain” or “Cannot-Not-Man-Handle” ((..what in fact metaphysically out-weighs what…)) ANY/All mutable & contingent vectors.
An Excerpt For Context:
The point of this series of numbers is to build on the prior paragraphs here and to then simply springboard from one basic concept to the next basic concept in order to provide a general “Lens” on how to look at the phrase “God Does X With All-Things”. So, with that said:
Evil and the Goodness of God: The Greater Good reality with respect to [All Things] is true and is a valid statement about [All Things].  Scripture affirms possible but not necessary evil given God’s decree of the Imago Dei with respect to “The Adamic’s” intentional / volitional authority to choose possible Worlds there within the Edenic. See both  and . Irreducible Intentionality streams from Irreducible Being vis-à-vis God as the ground of all such “ontics”.  If we subtract God from the equation – and land in Minus-God: [All Things] whether good or evil or any amalgamation thereof which stream out of The Adamic in number  *are* fundamentally and ontologically gratuitous “at bottom“. Indeed, but for God and His Hand, “purpose” finds no grounding, and hence “Minus God” leaves all lines gratuitous.  But God. Full stop. And God is the Necessary Being. Hence, this  *necessarily* subsumes  which *necessarily* subsumes  which *necessarily* subsumes .  Creating and decreeing a coin is not decreeing or creating two separate faces, so to speak. It is creating *one* ontological reality with multiple sides. It is *one* creative act – it is *one* decree ((…and of course the Trinity is like that even as unicity in marriage / love is like that…)). God’s Own Being and Decree guarantees that, grounds that.  In all directions, there can be no such thing, no such creation, no such decree, as a one sided coin. God cannot do nonsense ((…it’s not an insult to God to state that He cannot do nonsense…)).  God cannot, ever, create and decree and by creating and decreeing then somehow lose control should He grant (any number of) possible worlds to volitional agents. God Decrees Intentionality vis-à-vis the Imago Dei and thereby permits volitional/causal agents to freely motion amid the possibility of isolation ((self)) vs. the possibility of community ((self-other)) and there is nothing that can rationally find that topography “evil” – else love’s motions amid self/other would be defined as evil and we are faced with a reduction to absurdity.  God uses [All Things] for good and yet greater good and yet greater good. Glory to glory, as it were. He does not “only” use evil. But [All Things].  *God* is our guarantee and our sure anchor in all these things, whether we speak of our own frail attempts at good, or whether we speak of horrific evil, or whether we cannot speak at all but can only pray for we know not what. All appeals start and stop in His Decree, and He has decreed and declared His love for us. [10A] God is reality’s Anchor. Literally. And therefore our Anchor. Literally. God is our A and our Z. “You are my hope Lord, in you do I trust.” [10B] As describe earlier, [All Things], not “only” evil things, are used by God, purposed by God, for The Good, the Greater Good, and so on. That reality grounds purpose throughout reality wherever the “Adamic’s” feet shall traverse. There is no number of possible worlds which God can grant the volitional being which can cause God to lose control. (It’s unfortunate that that last sentence even has to be stated). [10C] That which exists by God’s Decree is that which cannot be otherwise. Hence, such cannot be charged with being gratuitous simply by sheer definition and sheer necessity, else we must call God’s Decree pointless. If God values, and decrees, the Imago Dei, well then we come upon what cannot be a one sided reality there in Eden amid Self/Other, Man/God, but rather we come upon that which is by necessity a two sided reality with respect to God and the Adamic, or the Adamic and God.  Therein, again from earlier: [A] God uses [All Things] for good and yet greater good and yet greater good. Glory to glory, as it were. He does not “only” use evil. But [All Things]. [B] *God* is our guarantee and our sure anchor in all these things, whether we speak of our own frail attempts at good, or whether we speak of horrific evil, or whether we cannot speak at all but can only pray for we know not what. All appeals start and stop in His Decree, and He has decreed and declared His love for us. [C] God is reality’s Anchor. Literally. And therefore our Anchor. Literally. God is our A and our Z. “You are my hope Lord, in you do I trust.”
Jesus And Hand Washing? What’s Up With That?
There is a common one-verse strawman which comes up from time to time in which it is claimed that Jesus condemns hand washing ((…despite the fact that the first century custom evolved out of Old Covenant instructions to Priests…)). R. Rauser cautions that we error in cases like this in still another way: “…. straight from fundamentalist proof-texting that disregards context and treats the Bible as a grab-bag of divinely revealed insights into science and other fields….” While its tedious to have to remind folks of over and over, it is sad but true that, of course. There is the fact that Jesus’ first century Jewish listeners knew exactly what Jesus was affirming and condemning and that is too often lost in such one-verse silliness – whether such is a one-verse Theology or whether such is a one-verse Strawman.
Notice the “Source” of “Final Definitions”. Saying The Good is based on the Bible is like saying Physics “comes from” (…the Ontic and so on…) the physics book over there on the shelf. It’s an obvious strawman to claim that within Christendom The Good in fact “comes from” something created and world-contingent given that “it” (The Good) just is *GOD* (in Christendom). The same goes for all things Sinai too given that Moral Excellence is defined (in Scripture) as that which precedes, outdistances, out-performs, and leaves behind, all things Sinai.
Short version: On Christ’s teaching one can wash one’s hands. That wasn’t the target. The agenda was Law and Religious Pride. When Christ defines the THOUGHT of adultery to sin and claims that one does or did with one’s body is not relevant, He is NOT telling us to do with our bodies as we please. But of course various Critics know that Christ is speaking of Law and Ego here and they also know that Law and Religious Pride yield HARM. And yet….as Christ addresses said Harm our Non-Theist friends still insist on another “one-verse-metaphysic” and, so, they opine.
Avoiding the “one-verse-metaphysic” silliness of our Non-Theist friends: The key to the meaning of any verse comes from the paragraph, not just from the individual words, and then the key to the meaning of any paragraph comes from the chapter, not just from the individual paragraphs, and then the key to the meaning of any chapter comes from the specific book, not just from the individual chapters, and then the key to the meaning of any individual book in Scripture comes from the Whole Metanarrative that is [Scripture] and not just from the individual books, and then the key to the meaning of the Metanarrative comes from logical lucidity vis-à-vis ontological referents in a specific Metaphysic, not just from [The-Bible], and then the key to the meaning of the Map that is the Metaphysic comes from the Terrain that is the Trinitarian Life and not just from the Metaphysic, and that Terrain sums to Timeless Reciprocity & Ceaseless Self-Giving vis-a-vis Processions vis-a-vis the Trinitarian Life even as robust explanatory power on all fronts teaches us hat just as it is incoherent to say “Physics” somehow “Comes-From” that physics book over there on the shelf, so too it is incoherent to say that Metaphysical Naturalism or that the Christian Metaphysic either does or “can in principle” somehow “Come-From” ANY-thing that reduces to a World-Contingent Explanatory Terminus.
The following is a brief reply to a Critic who genuinely believed in his “one-verse-metaphysic” strawman:
“….is it all too esoteric here? Really? You implied Christ forbids washing hands. Your words. He poo-poos washing hands. I gave another lens: the Christian lens in which Christ doesn’t forbid washing hands and doesn’t poo-poo it. He isn’t even addressing it… Are you denying the proverbial “Target” of Law, Religious Pride, and Man’s Nature? You seem to be. Are you conflating categories with respect to material / immaterial? Body / Motive? You seem to be. Are you interested in interfacing with the *actual* Christian metaphysic? When you read “…be as doves…” you opine that we are to “…lay eggs…” Why? Too confusing? Do a little homework with respect to science and with respect to interpreting reality as reliable and predictable. Recall that the conceptual reference frame of The God’s Played & The People Paid saturates the landscape and that is why the conceptual mindset of God Loves Us and Revealing Truth to us weighs in amid a final intelligibility with respect to Cosmos, Man, & the Immaterial (God/Being) is all historically divergent – that’s not complicated. Those are all fairly wide and accessible umbrellas….. Again from earlier – “…Science flourished in the Christianized mindset… but why…?” as per https://randalrauser.com/2018/02/biblical-god-ignorant-science/#comment-4138241674 …”
The following are all in one thread/discussion as it moves in ((mostly)) chronological order and they are provided for context as we look at Christ and Hand Washing:
Jesus And Handwashing Batch 1 of 5
Jesus & Handwashing Batch 2
Jesus & Handwashing Batch 3
Jesus & Handwashing Batch 4
Jesus & Handwashing Batch 5 of 5