Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cherished Assumptions -> Deconstructed

AKMA offer this excellent piece:

To oversimplify: If you want to elicit agreement with your thesis, you should not simply assert claims you suppose to be true (perhaps even self-evidently so), but present your reader with reasons to think that your claims are true, and that they add up to the thesis you propose. Some of your reasons may indeed strike some of your readers as self-evident, but if everything you think were equally self-evident to your reader, you wouldn’t need to persuade her of anything. If your reader disagrees with you about something, we have grounds for suspecting that she doubts a reason that you regard as sound, or that she doesn’t follow a chain of implications that you take as granted. Further, the more a writer takes for granted, the more likely he has overlooked (or deliberately elided) a fallacious inference in his own reasoning. The more carefully you write out your argument, the better you protect yourself from your own fallibility.

I'm currently preparing my lectures for the presitgious Summer Camp 2006. It's a gathering of around 500+ highschool students to have fun, encounter with the Divine Spirit of YHWH, and learn more about the Christian faith. I've been given the diverse tasks of speaking on ethics, then exegesis and finally questions surrounding the validity of the Christian Worldview.
In preparing, I've read Richard Hays' beautiful book: The Moral Vision of the New Testament. It's a rather painful excercise in having my cherished assumptions tested and buried by Hays exegetical [s]word. So if you want an apt example of what AKMA is referring to, see Hays' work.
Not only is his discussion on method superb, but his application to the five contemporary issues he deals with [violence, divorce, homosexuality, ethinicity, and abortion] is as brilliant an analysis as one could ask for. I'm particularly impressed with his argument against abortion. For so long I had merely rehearsed the tired proof-texts of those unwilling to rigorously think through the issues and so this was a hurrican, blowing away the fog of half-understood pseudo-morality and fashionable compromise, that I had held for a time. For instance, Hays writes:
As God's creatures, we are stewards who bear life in trust. To terminate a pregnancy is not only to commit an act of violence but also to assume responsibility for destroying a work of God, "from who are all things and for whom we exist" [1 Cor 8:6].
There might be circumstances in which we would deem the termination of such life warranted, but the burden of proof lies heavily upon any decision to undertake such an extreme action.
I shall hopefully post more on Hays comments on Divorce and Remarriage as I part ways at some junctures and the interaction in this blog-arena may provide some sparring partners who will enhance understanding on this burdened topic.

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