World Development Movement urges food market regulation

by Richard on July 19, 2010

From the BBC

Greater regulation of the food market should be introduced by the government to stabilise food prices, according to an anti-poverty group.

A World Development Movement report said banks which caused the financial downturn created volatile food prices.

It said bankers poured money into commodities like wheat and maize after giving up on failed mortgages.

Banks have argued that food price rises are due to increased demand from China and the use of bio-fuels.

Basic food prices increased in 2008 amid the global financial downturn.

“Bankers are to blame for price rises in coffee, chocolate and bread,” stated the report, which said that, in the UK, it was the poorest people who suffered the most.

The World Development Movement, a UK-based anti-poverty campaign group, says it seeks to “establish economic justice”, which means “the right of poor communities to determine their own path out of poverty, and an end to harmful policies which put profit before people and the environment”.

The World Development Movement has started a campaign inviting people to ring the FSA asking them to “demand the power they need to stop bankers betting on food”. The number, if you’re minded to join in, is 0845 606 1234. I’ll be dialling it tomorrow — I’ll let you know how it goes.

There’s more about the campaign here.

Although the price of many basic commodities have been driven to record levels (at least in part) by speculators, the producers have seen little of the benefit.

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1

dh 07.19.10 at 10:55 pm

Well actually while food prices have increased they still are way lower than in the past at least in the US. I know chocolate and coffee are having this issue. However, in the US we are experiencing record bumper crops in various agricultural products. I see nothing wrong with people being allowed to invest in commodities. I happen to think that it IS the increase demand from China and biofuels. It only makes sense that higher demand makes for higher prices. If one attepmts to regulate this then it only makes for even more people to be poor than otherwise. Does that seem just?

2

Richard 07.20.10 at 9:30 am

I confess to not understanding the mindset that says that if a government interferes with a market through regulation, that’s bad. But if an ‘investor’ interferes with the market by buying up a load of stuff they don’t need and have no intention of using, that’s OK.

3

Martin Freye 07.20.10 at 9:53 am

“If the Government interferes with a market through regulation” can also be rendered “If a government wants to steal voter’s money that’s bad”

4

Richard 07.20.10 at 10:41 am

I suspect that’s the nub. But to present government activity as stealing is, to my mind, utterly wrong-headed.

5

Earl 07.20.10 at 2:22 pm

Stealing? Perhaps to the ears of some that is to precise. A more apt choice of language would be “misappropriate.” But if a govt. acts ideologically t0 restrict the freedom of suppliers to buy/sell, it need not then pretend shock when those suppliers withhold or else redirect their resources or production to other points of sale. Any movement toward a centralized control of commodity production will be no more effective than a stalinist five-year plan. The best mechanism by which to provide a reliable, economical food supply is for govt. bureaucrats to be prevented from getting control of the markets in which commodities are bought and sold.

There is no possibility for govt. to regulate a market without interfering in that market. To restrict or encourage by regulation results in a supply/demand price structure that is artificial, temporary, unsupportable and unsustainable. If someone (individual or govt.) wants to address supply/demand for a commodity, let them put their money at risk. Since govt. has only the money which it takes from taxpayers, govt. can only legitimately put at risk taxpayer money if taxpayers agree to that risk. If someone pays no taxes, they should not be able to spend other people’s money to provide for themselves a benefit for which they have paid nothing. If a private producer/supplier chooses to risk their own money in a commodity market, that is entirely their own choice. They have to pay with their own money for their decisions in buying and selling. It is no different than if one buys a house expecting to later sell at a profit in an anticipated rising housing market. No rational person would think it unreasonable to consider govt. regulation to restrict profit/loss on the sale of a house to be “stealing.”

Commodity prices respond dynamically to market demand/supply. If one wishes to see lower prices for any commodity, one must increase supply or else reduce demand. Producers/sellers respond to artificially restricted prices by taking their product elsewhere for sale. It is true of wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, meat, etc. or any other good or service. If in the name of fairness the price of wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, meat, etc. is artificially restricted even by the supposed well-intentioned inept actions of govt. bureaucracy, the supply of that commodity will contract as there will be no incentive to maintain an unsupportable level of supply. Many years ago American wheat farmers produced astounding surpluses which were bought by the fed. govt. Much of this surplus found its way overseas as food aid. This suppressed the price available to farmers/producers in other nations. Exactly the same thing has been demonstrated in rice production.

6

Richard 07.20.10 at 2:29 pm

I’m not in favour of every government intervention by any means. But I’m mystified by the mindset that regards all government intervention as wrong, but is content for private corporations to manipulate the market as they like. That’s what is happening in this instance: speculators are buying up and hoarding huge quantities of basic commodities in the expectation of big price rises. And it stinks.

7

dh 07.20.10 at 3:47 pm

Richard, then we must condemn Joseph for doing the same thing. Also there is no guarantee that there would be big prices in the future. There is no “manipulating the market”.

Amen to Earl’s response. Perfectly said.

The fact remains for over a decade food prices have been stable and actually have been going down at least for a period of time during that time.

Again, perfectly said Earl.

8

Earl 07.20.10 at 3:55 pm

Business is not just sitting in a shop waiting for customer to order/buy. Business is as basic as looking at market demand/supply and anticipating how one can best invest to gain a return. To buy with the intent of later selling at a profit and not a break-even or loss is good business. To do otherwise is to guarantee you will not long remain in business. In a protected market (artificially constrained by govt. regulation) one may be insulated from the realities of external supply/demand. But the taxpayer and ultimately the consumer bears the burden of that protectionism. As once was the case with tulips (Holland) silver (Hunt brother) and housing (multiple examples), those who over-invest in anticipation of a rising market even to the point of hoarding ultimately have to deal with the realities of the markets that are free to rise and fall. It is not evil to buy low and sell high. Those who only consume and while producing nothing may not like it. But it is good business of the best kind… the kind that keeps businesses in business, employees employed and taxes being paid for goods, services bought and sold and incomes being produced. To buy and then sell at break-even or less is what stinks. That is when businesses go out of business, employees go on the unemployment line and tax receipts for local, state and federal governments decline.

9

Richard 07.20.10 at 3:57 pm

What nonsense, DH. In the story of Joseph, food was stored in a time of plenty in anticipation of lean times ahead. This was not the sort of speculation that the WDM is complaining about. In fact, Joseph serves my case rather better than yours - he was a government official regulating the market for the common good. Just the sort of person you and Earl would be complaining about!

10

Kim 07.20.10 at 4:19 pm

Bitch at government all you like - and often rightly so - but the market is manipulated all right, self-manipulated, self-regulated for a single amoral purpose - the maximisation of bucks, and devil take the hindmost.

The American Catholic theologian D. Stephen Long hits the bald eagle right on its predatory beak: “A central difficulty with the modern corporation is not its freedom from ends, but that it embodies the illusion of the modern individual, which is to say that by falsely assuming it has overcome a teleological ordering, it has forgotten the end it serves and, thus, fails to present that end for public accountabiity.”

11

dh 07.20.10 at 4:29 pm

Richard, in terms of food it IS or at least was recently a time of plenty. The supplies, up until the past year, were high in all areas of food products. The WDM is not recognizing the supply of food products. I understand that the past year cocoa and coffee are low but before then the supply was in bumper category.

In the US we have had bumper crops in wheat, corn, soy beans, etc., etc. for the past two years. The price of food prices until recently were at pretty much all time lows. Food prices is one of the factors that is actually keeping our inflation rates relatively in check. Notice I said one of the factors.

In terms of Joseph they didn’t have commodity trading. The Egyptian royalty was the exchange. I see no difference between the COMEX and Egypt Empire exchange other than Egyptian government ripping people off. Also, the people who bought from the Egyptian government had no choice but pay the prices the Royalty had for them and could not negotiate but pay whaever price the Pharoah and his minions set. The prices were way higher at any given time then otherwise.

The fact remains having formalized trading indexes actually make prices more efficient by having products “marked to market”.

Another great response from Earl that should be added to what I say here.

12

dh 07.20.10 at 4:39 pm

The market is not manipulated but the products and commodities sold in the market are “marked to market”. Like Earl said and paraphrased by me here, if the demand and supply are out of wack on a particular trade then no attempt to manipulate the market will work and the “attempted manipulator” will loose his shirt.

Certain members of the Hunt family tried to corner the market in silver and for a couple of years during high inflation in the late 70’s and 80’s until supply of silver in the market was higher than was expected recognizing the Hunts actually didn’t have as high a percentage of the total supply of silver and they eventually lost their shirt and one of them actually went close to bankruptcy.

The same thing goes for that UK Cocoa Speculator. Eventually either he will not have enough capital to obtain a high enough cocoa to “corner the market” or the supply of cocoa will be high enough that no attempt to corner the market is possible. Supply and demand always win out over time. If one looks at corn, wheat, soy beans no one was complainning about the low price of those prices many of which were at all time lows. Even with an increase it is still lower than what it was at one time if one factors in inflation.

13

Earl 07.20.10 at 6:43 pm

To reword the Prophet Gump, “Nonsense is as nonsense does.” Joseph served the Pharaoh as a effective PM, but the consequences of his diligence was that the govt. was left in control of the means of production - i.e., land, etc. The market was removed from the control of those who producers/buyers/sellers and put in the hands of a despot. In that era the realities of transporting large quantities of grain, etc. precluded any possibility of a producer being able to go beyond kingdom borders to seek a broader market price. This combined with circumstances of drought were used to victimize owner/operators for the ultimate benefit of the Pharaoh and his administration… not unlike recent actions by the U.S. congress to defraud G.M. bondholders, give stock to unions and of course satisfy the socialist agenda of the current administration in washington.

14

Earl 07.20.10 at 6:55 pm

Ignoring the sad demonstration of a limited vocabulary, the “market” is not a singularity but a plurality in which demand and supply are determined by the actions and interactions of individuals whose motivations reflect their own priorities. Some are only driven by money. Some invest with a eye to faith, social or ethical concerns. In that last regard, those of us who invest with such concerns accept that our choice may limit our opportunities. It is not evil for a business to seek to maximize profit. Short sighted maximization w/o any eye for future profitability, etc., will result in such a business falling behind competitors or even failing. The observations of Long are less than impressive given that he has no market experience.

15

Earl 07.20.10 at 7:32 pm

DH… Thank you for your kind words.

Commodity supplies are dynamic impacted by a variety of factors. For instance in my area an ongoing drought recently broke with the result that producers expect to have very good harvest of cereal grains. Nut production is not expected to be very good (except in the well fertilized halls of state and federal government). After a number of break-even years, the prospect of profitability is encouraging producers to consider how to best plan for the next year.

It was only a few years ago that due to overproduction corn was selling for prices seen in the 1950’s. The price of tractors, fuel, labor, transport, etc. had all increased by many multiples but the price of the corn being sold was only pennies different from 40 years previously. I have no problem with a producer being able to sell corn at $6-7 bushel (June 2008). Given the cost of production, that is a equitable and sustainable market price. Since 1960 annual inflation in the U.S. has been 4.07% with the result that a dollar in 1960 had the same buying power as $7.35 in 2010. Data from the USDA and various market review bulletins establish that the price of a broad range of commodities has trended overall downward since 1960. This is a trend that continues.

Given the realities of the cost of production, current ave. cash prices of $3.22 and futures prices of approx. $3.90 are not at all inflated. Let those who are critical compare what a dollar bought in say 1960 with the values of that dollar in today’s market, look at the current cash price for corn and try to conclude that the price received is anything less than equitable to the consumer.

I agree that food prices in the U.S. are relatively low and that this has had a happy consequence for inflation. The benefit has also extended to those nations which are net food importers.

In the ancient world it is a matter of fact that trading in food stuffs, metals, wood, etc. was common. It is a fact that this trading was conducted under firm monarchical control. Such control limited not only economic opportunity but individual personal freedom of thought and movement. The development of modern exchanges have greatly facilitated personal independence. The grudging acceptance of market realities even in the few communist nations yet remaining in existence.

16

dh 07.20.10 at 7:52 pm

Wow, Earl, your additional postings were even more of a clarification. I hope you feel the same toward my response as well. :)

BTW and a side note somewhat unrelated: You might beinterested in a paper I did when I got my BS in Finance degree. I did a paper on the “petroluem vs. oil byproducts spread). This paper proved the inefficiency of the petroleum market where arbitrage risk free return can be obtained. When one looks at the seasonailty of oil and its byproducts, the price of the commodities should efficiently reflect the knowledge that heating oil is higher in the winter and lower in the summer and gasoline/petrol should be higher in the summer and lower in the winter. However, there happens to be a statistical difference that shouldn’t be there. Therefore if one borrowed enough money to do the futures contracts position in relation to the spot position for the summer and the then a technical “infinite percentage rate return” (the definition of arbitrage) can be obtained.

aka: In June buy the spot heating oil sell the January heating oil future in June. In January sell the spot unleaded gasoline and buy the June unleaded gaoline future in January. Borrow enough money to more than cover the transportation costs, commissions on the transactions and enough to do at a level to make enough due to the small amount of difference inequality between the positions. (might require millions of dollars for each particular trade)

17

Tony Buglass 07.20.10 at 10:30 pm

DH - “You might beinterested in a paper I did when I got my BS in Finance degree.”

I rather hope that degree was a BSc, rather than a BS, if I understand US colloquiallisms correctly… ;)

I struggled to scrape a Grade 6 O-level in Maths (in the days when there were such things - it was the lowest possible pass level, but it WAS a pass), so I dip my toe very tentatively into such a topic. My problem is as Richard indicates: if private business invests in futures so as to manipulate the market, it is seen as a Good Thing, while if governments do precisely the same thing, it is a Bad Thing? Forgive my confusion, but I can’t see how that works. If any investment or manipulation drives up the price of food for the poorest in the world, it has to be wrong. If food (or the raw materials which affect the price of food) is manipulated for the purpose of profit rather than the purpose of ensuring a more efficient supply of food for the whole world, that must be abusive of process, and ethically wrong, surely.

Again, forgive my ignorance, but as a simple believer (with a very simple level of mathematical understanding), is it so wrong to believe that people matter more than profit? Some of my friends have smiled pityingly and said something about laws of economics, and I dimly see a point to their arguments, but am I so wrong to believe that economics is something which is at the service of God’s Kingdom, rather than the other way round?

18

Earl 07.21.10 at 1:38 am

It is perfectly legitimate for a private business to use its own resources to take advantage of a market. It is not legitimate for a govt. to use the tax money of taxpayers to manipulate a market. There is a lot more that can be said, but that is about the minimum that will suffice.

Suppose Winnie the Pooh wants to invest in honey futures. Suppose Eeyore stridently advises him against such a plan. If Pooh is correct, he ends up with a sweet return. If he is wrong, he has to eat his loss and listen to Eeyore say, “I told you so!” That is business. If Christopher Robin decides that the price of honey in the Hundred Acre Wood is to high and that it must be lowered… then that is most assuredly manipulation. It does not matter if Christopher Robin justifies his manipulation in the name of fairness to the rest of the honey eaters in the Hundred Acre Wood or perhaps simply wants to gain support for re-election as administrator of the Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh must eat his loss not because he was unwise but because Christopher Robin artificially manipulated the market price for honey. Pooh has ever right to buy and then sell honey to anyone who wants to buy it. It is his honey. It is his decision… risk and gain/loss. Christopher Robin has no right to decide if Pooh is making to much profit on his honey and how much or little price he must set on his honey. His interference in the honey market is simply manipulation.

If there is a genuine concern to see to it that the price of commodities is kept artificially below market so as to ensure affordable adequate food for all, then someone must bear that cost as govt. does not produce anything… it only spends tax payers money. The govt. must enter the market place and obtain the good/service required. By not paying the market price, the seller is forced to suffer a loss. In a free society no govt. can take property without just equitable compensation. To legislate otherwise is unjust and unconscionable. If society as a whole chooses to value low cost food, then society as a whole must subsidize its production and distribution.

People matter. Producers are people. Consumers are people. Producers have every right to seek to make the greatest possible profit. Consumers have the right to seek the best possible prices. Consumers have the right to use their dollars to vote for those goods and services which they most desire and value. Producers can either supply that demand or go out of business while another producer responds to consumers.

It may be that we want something more than a mere market based moneyed exchange economy. Perhaps we would desire a system wherein value and exchange is less about individuals and profit and more about society and shared good. Exchange models such as described in the O.T. might be a starting point. One might also look at the practices of the primitive Church in Acts. both depended upon faith assumptions that are not the norm for a secular post-modern culture. Recent communist bloc experiments in collective economics conducted with bayonets, barbed wire and concrete walls were never inspiring. A practical, workable, more ethical and humane system of exchange can be introduced. But it cannot be accomplished by artificially constricting economic opportunity. It can only be accomplished by bringing men and women to a saving knowledge of Christ as Savior and Lord.

19

Kim 07.21.10 at 6:09 am

Wow, Earl, that was completely awesome and amazing. And you are sooo right about the commie experiments. I’ll be packing my magnum and wire-cutters when I head off to hospital later today to visit some of my sick folk here in Swansea where they’ve got that evil, tax-sapping NHS. I’m afraid we’re a bit thin in the UK on the saving knowledge of Christ as Savior and Lord which y’all got in the US of A, where the sick poor folk are such an inspiration and what taxes you have are not wasted on health care but are spent on such splendid projects of equal opportunity as prisons (along, of course, with the compassionate input of private enterprise), and such upbuilding undertakings as the war in Afghanistan which we are so obviously winning and which is spreading democracy like blood and ridding the world of terrorists. I mean, why use taxes to help people that should be friggin’ helping themselves when we can use them to impoverish and kill people in the precious name of Jesus? Let’s just let the arms manufacturers and the pharmaceuticals get on with their kingdom-work. Mind, we too are doing our bit here as far as the war goes, bless our coalition government, and will also be doing the Lord’s work - anonymously of course - in renewing our WMD system known as Trident. Promises to do something green with those goddam taxes have been scotched, but hey, what has the planet ever done for us besides providing oil? I apologise for not having all those impressive lies and damn lies - sorry, I mean “statistics” - to hand that flow like Pooh Bear’s honey from your mouth, but not all of us have had the good fortune of taking Voodoo 101-102. Anyway, thanks again, Eral, for another great response, and for adding another brick to the building of Babel, er, I mean the New Jerusalem.

20

Beth 07.21.10 at 12:43 pm

Remember to breathe slowly and deeply, Kimmy…

21

Kim 07.21.10 at 2:10 pm

You gotta Jonathan Swift it!

22

dh 07.21.10 at 3:24 pm

Kim, I love the red-herrings in this discussion. Seems like from this discussion we are having a bumper crop in pickled herring. :)

No one is saying we shouldn’t help the poor or that people and organizations shouldn’t do all they can to help the poor. However, we mustn’t do things that create more poor people than othrwise.

Futures contracts do NOT manipulate the market as Earl showed in the previous response and analogy. Like he said what if the government got involved in the futures market or commodities market and the price went in the opposite position of the trades? The poor would be hurt even more and there would be an outcry. The fact remains

Kim, you seemed to totally missed Earls last paragraph in his previous post. I think if you read it you would find he is way more generous than you are making him out to be and also very biblical in what he is saying.

23

dh 07.21.10 at 3:34 pm

Tony, BS vs. BSc, very funny. :) At least you know I can appreciate good humor when I see it even from you. I know we disagree to a point but I appreciated, you might be surprised, by your previous post. I agree that we need systems to help the poor but within the laws of Economics we must do things to prevent a greater number of new poor people as well. I understand your “dilema” that I perceive in your response. There is a balance. I consider this issue more of a “risk/reward” issue. We take risks everyday no different than investors taking risks everyday. If there are vehicles in place to minimize that risk then we shouldn’t be negative about it. The same goes for everyday life. I see the parable of the talents, I know it is a Spiritual aspect, but it can apply to in the natural as well. If the use of investing is so bad as Richard and others make it out to be then why would He use it as an example in a positive light? Jesus never used bad things in a positive light way.

24

dh 07.21.10 at 3:36 pm

Tony, BTW if you are curious, I got a Bachelor of Science in Finance. I also happen to have my Master in Business Adminstration with an emphesis in Finance as well.

I’m not “showing off” but this is more for curiosity sake and I hope you would take it that way.

I pray Tony you have a wonderful day as well as to all who are posting. :)

25

dh 07.21.10 at 3:47 pm

“In January sell the spot unleaded gasoline and buy the June unleaded gaoline future in January.”

Wow even us graduate degree people can make a mistake. This trade should be in the opposite:

In January buy spot unleaded gasoline and sell the June unleaded gasoline future in January.

If seasonality exists in gasoline and heating oil, like there is, then one should take the risk by doing what Joseph did in Egypt with wheat by buying unleaded gasoline when demand for gas is low in January and selling unleaded gasoline in June when the demand for gas is high.

Wow this discussion is giving me gas. Lord knows I’m full of it. Ain’t that right Kim and Tony. :)

26

vai 07.21.10 at 3:50 pm

@DH I think the report is not denying that factors such as falling production due to climate change, the increased use of biofuels and increased demand for meat cause the gradual and long-term of food prices. It is saying, however, that the short term, drastic spikes and falls in food prices are caused by speculation. This speculation is the root cause of the price instability that plagues poor farmers, and wreaks havoc on their ability to plan crop quotas. For example, the proce of cocoa is the highest it has been in 30 years, farmers might plant a huge crop it for the next harvest, only to find that the prices have plummetted. Fluctuating prices make food unaffordable for impoverished urban consumers as well.

WDM’s call to impose stricter regulations on food speculation aims to curb the worst of the fallout from unregulated food speculation. While it acknowledges that some speculation is needed to manage the risk of price changs for farmers and processors of food, the excessive speculation on food prices by bankers simply for the sake of profit is causing unneccessary fluctuations in food prices. By regulating this process more strictly, commodity futures can again be used as a form of insurance for farmers, their originally intended purpose.

27

dh 07.21.10 at 6:22 pm

But Vai, the amount of supply of cocoa is very very low as compared with the past several years of bumper crops ad we all know the demand for cocoa is relatively inelastic as people always love cocoa. At least I do. :) It also seems to me your farmer thing doesn’t work if the prices are what you say a 30 year high. Farmers currently in the spot market are getting the highest ever for the crops. No one can predict future cocoa prices for if prices fall as you say the speculators will loose their shirt and it will be an incentive to not do those type of trades in the future or at the levels they were doing originally.

This cocoa speculator will find out like the Hunts did with Silver that there is more than enough supply, even with it being dramatically diminished currently, to keep him from “cornering the market” like is being attempted. At least at the moment farmers are getting higher prices for their spot cocoa. :) Also farmers should be able to use futures markets as insurance as you mentioned and also if they have a bumper crop next year store it for higher prices in the future.

Also isn’t cocoa a luxury food? I see no one complaining at cocoa for the years prior to this year when the price of cocoa was going down in terms of impoverished people buying cocoa. Only when it is high do people complain. When food is affordable from higher supply then one shouldn’t complain when prices are higher in the future.

Like the song says “What comes up must come down”. The price of cocoa for the longest time go lower and lowertill it got to a price that it had no choice but go up at which point the speculators had no choice but to go in helping farmers in the future to get a higher price than previously.

28

Earl 07.21.10 at 8:09 pm

Kim! I can feel the love! I can just feel it all over the place! May you today indeed be used of God to bless the hearts and lives of those to whom you minister! Doubtless many will be followers of Christ. You will also have numerous fruitful opportunities to share the Gospel with lost men and women. May God bless your every effort to share Christ!

Now as to the rest of your thoughts, I must say, “Where is the love? Where is the love?” You need to go to the kitchen, get some ice from the freezer and hold it to your head while you chill out.

Now as to integrity and honesty, please note that the information on general commodity price trends, etc. is accurate. If that information has been presented dishonestly, please demonstrate that dishonesty in fact or presentation. Otherwise one must suppose that, lacking support one seeks to best affirm ones own position by “shouting loudly.”

Your assumptions as to my educational process are mistaken as introductory courses in Voodoo were only required of English and other liberal arts majors.

29

Earl 07.21.10 at 8:39 pm

Specific to cocoa, production is driven by many factors that combine to produce demand. Suppliers must gauge what will be their return if they plant/do not plant cocoa, peanuts, wheat, etc. None of these markets are insulated from the effect of either to little/to much supply or failure to accurately anticipate demand. In the U.S. almost 100 years ago market structures were put in place to allow corn farmers greater certainty in price expectation. There is no reason for private businesses can not use a similar method with cocoa. The consequence would be greater certainty for the producer and stability for the consumer. It is certainly a market option to which producers and buyers can choose to agree. For the govt. to mandate such a method is a unjustifiable manipulation of the market.

Prior to WWII, approximately 71% of American lived on a farm. Today less than 4% are employed in agriculture. Reality is that poor farmers in developing nations face the same economies of scale that is the primary competitive reality that has virtually eliminated the family farm in America. Those who idolize a return to that agrarian idyllic do not appear eager to break out the shovels and hoes to plant and maintain sustainable food plots in their backyards. Given that reality, farmers must use their best judgment in planting, harvesting and selling their crops. There is no role for govt. in that process. Price is not stable… neither at the farm, market or point of sale. Price is dynamic and volatile. A farmer may very well plant the right crop or the wrong crop. The rain may come at the needed times. There may be a drought. Invasive pest may destroy some or all of the crop. It may arrive at the point of sale in poor condition due to lack of available transport or lack of suitable storage space. The farmer might end up with a tremendous profit or a devastating loss. The fairest and most equitable method of providing what consumers want at a price they are willing to pay is to allow their demand for a particular commodity, good or service to interact with available supply.

30

Tony Buglass 07.21.10 at 10:01 pm

DH: “I got a Bachelor of Science in Finance. I also happen to have my Master in Business Adminstration with an emphesis in Finance as well.”

So pleased it wasn’t a BS…

Just so you know, I did a BA (Theology) at Bristol University, including biblical studies, biblical languages, some comparative religion and philosophy of religion, and 19th and 20th C church history and theology; I think every one of the courses I did has been of some use in my subsequent ministry. Latterly I have completed a MTh through North West University (South Africa) via distance learning: my thesis was on the historicity of the resurrection, and i was awarded a distinction. The graduation ceremony will be in October in South Africa House in Trafalgar Square (the ceremonies only happen every two years).

So when we disagree on biblical or historical stuff, I do so on the basis of a fair amount of study. I defer to your greater understanding of economics, but I still ponder the question which I raised earlier: “am I so wrong to believe that economics is something which is at the service of God’s Kingdom, rather than the other way round?”

31

dh 07.21.10 at 10:29 pm

Tony, I’m glad that you can see that I’m not full of BS. :) Kim, just so you know I’m not cursing here. Just kidding guys and having some fun. :)

I agree with your pondering of the question on economics. That is why I’m facinated by the parable of the talents and as you probably already know, historically a talent was a unit of money not the talent that we in modern day understand it to be. A talent was equivilent to a years wage. The ones that risked it were the greatest in the Kingdom. The one that hid it, even what he had, was taken away. This can apply to natural things as well as Spiritual that many people correctly identify from the parable. Kind of a multi-faceted life aplication. Also, if investing was so evil then Christ wouldn’t have used it as an example as something positive.

It was very interesting to see you education background. Congratulations on your latest Mth. :) If your thesis showed that Jesus’s resurrection actually occurred in everyway like I assume from the discussions we have had, then it is great to know that while we disagree we can call each other “friends” as the Apostle Paul mentions in his discussions. :) If my assumption is incorrect I will continue to pray that God would reveal Himself to you. However, I have no reason to believe that you don’t believe in the resurrection in every way of Christ. :)

I know we disagree on occasion, but my views are a culmination of many different peoples views that have furthered my Faith. They happen to have many more theology degrees similar to the ones you have. BTW, it would be interesting to here a discussion with you and 7 theologians of your choosing in conjunction with Josh McDowell, John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, Ravi Zacharias, John Piper, Charles Swindoll, Chuck Colson, Lee Stroble, etc. I mention that to show you that my view,while not fully scholarly (if that is a word), is based on a fair amount of study as well.

The most important thing is in all of this is that I respect you and I hope you to have the same for me like I observe from our latest discussion.

32

Kim 07.21.10 at 10:30 pm

Of course I love you, Earl! Hence my earnest desire for you to be free from the principalities and powers of global capitalism, with its idol of the unregulated market, its inbuilt homage to antagonism and avarice, and its outcomes in the human havoc of poverty and violence, a system in which both you and I are in bondage and complicit, but of which you are also an apologist. And the notion that we can work out polities of “humane exchange” if only everyone takes Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour - well, only a fool could believe such nonsense, or a knave such mischief.

Thus do I share Christ with you. It’s just that, as Flannery O’Connor, with her own tart tongue, once put it, “to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”

33

dh 07.21.10 at 10:34 pm

Tony, South Africa house near Trafalgar Square? My wife and I were there last year and I saw the South Africa house. :) As an admonishment to myself and to you as well, may we not have our physical head knowledge get in the way from what is important in Christ and to fully know Him as He is kown. :) God bless you in your ministry Tony and may many people enter the Kingdom of heaven through your ministry.

I echo that for you too Kim. :)

34

dh 07.21.10 at 10:39 pm

“And the notion that we can work out polities of “humane exchange” if only everyone takes Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour - well, only a fool could believe such nonsense, or a knave such mischief. Thus, in fact, do we remain in bondage.”

I thought the term fool was made toward those who say there is no God aka “Only a fool says there is no God.” (not saying that you believe this just making a point with your term “fool”. The Apostle Paul says we are a peculiar people in reference to what people outside of the Kingdom feel about those in the Kingdom. So for me I consider it all joy to be considered a fool for the sake of Christ. “takes Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour” isn’t that what Paul spells out in Romans with regard to the person of confession being made?

35

dh 07.21.10 at 10:39 pm

“person” purpose. Sorry typo. :)

36

Earl 07.22.10 at 12:20 am

Ah Kim… I can feel the vibe! Somebody break out the bread and wine because it’s time to dine! Of course in this case we are separated by a little more than a common language. The Atlantic not withstanding, maybe we share more than simply what separates us.

If the wild kingdom of this world is to become the Peaceable Kingdom of our Lord, it will take something more substantial than a sense of shared humanity. The less than remarkable success of the League of Nations and the United Nations is stark proof that even with the best of intentions, such short cuts produce not results but dead ends. Now by contrast the record of Christian faith has a substantial positive record especially as it touches upon the status and place of women and children. This is well demonstrated throughout the continent of Africa where personal faith in Christ has remarkably impacted lives of individuals and nations.

Personally I do not consider capitalism to be uniquely anointed of God. If you can demonstrate a system that will produce more opportunity for personal freedom of choice and self-determination, I’ll be glad to listen. But I am not interested in any alternative that does not offer genuine significant systemic improvement for the individual. I am not prepared to countenance the selective advantaging of one person at another persons loss with the excuse that it is only fair, just, etc. Until then I will live with the imperfections of capitalism rather that accept the greater failings of either socialism, communism or despotism. If to some this sounds like an apologetic understand that from my perspective I see it as simply a recognition of reality. I am not into pretending. That sort of thing is for children. I am not into escapist fantasy. That is the stock and trade of romance novels. In the everyday living of everyday living capitalism offers the individual and society as a whole the best opportunity for freedom, independence of action and achievement. I have yet to find an alternative economic structure that produces equal much less superior results. Perhaps it is instructive that societies generally move from barter to moneyed structures of exchange and then develop (!!!!) markets!!!! I can find no instance where people freely choose to revert from the freedom of capitalism to the restrictions of a less free structure. But in recent years the world has seen numerous nations abandon centrally planned and administered systems of control to enthusiastically embrace the freedom of opportunity and self-determination found in capitalism. The scale involved spans oceans, languages, cultures and nationalities. To hear it one need only listen. To see it one need only open ones eyes.

37

Tony Buglass 07.22.10 at 11:11 am

DH: “…my views are a culmination of many different peoples views that have furthered my Faith. They happen to have many more theology degrees similar to the ones you have. ”

Which isn’t really the point - we could be in danger of a kind of academic poker here: “I’ll see your published writers, and raise you 5 professors…” The scholars I read and discussed with during my research include many world leading university professors and teachers - I haven’t attempted to count their doctorates. They also include a wide range of views with which I disagree - it’s important to engage with those views, to understand why they’re there. My point is not the number of scholars I can cite, but the study and reflection I have personally done in this specific field.

To answer your question about my thesis - yes, I believe the resurrection actually happened. In principle, resurrection is the most implausible event (dead people generally stay dead, historically speaking), but while there are many alternative explanations for parts of the evidence, the only one that satisfactorily explains the whole range of evidence is the fact of the resurrection. History deals with probability rather than certainty, so my conclusion is that the resurrection is both the most implausible yet most probable solution to the question of the origins of the NT resurrection traditions.

It’s a bit like the forensic examination of a bomb crater: you can examine the crater, the distance things have been thrown, residue, etc, and deduce how big the bomb was, how it was dropped, etc, even though you cannot recreate the explosion itself. Or working back mathematically to the Big Bang - you can get to within a millisecond of he Event, but cannot recreate the Event itself. The resurrection was the Big Bang that started a shock wave which is still expanding.

38

dh 07.22.10 at 4:24 pm

Tony, I know you have done a lot of scholarly research. The point I was trying to make is that others have done the exact same thing and my views seems to match the analysis they have found as well. The point I was tryng to make is that I too have done study and reflection as well. While it might not be specifically scholarly as you have done, it shouldn’t be looked down in a less than positive light.

Here is something off track:
My dad was in seminary and they were talking about the Red/Reed Sea and how it was only 6 inches deep and not as deep as the Red Sea, etc., etc. etc.. My dad piped up and said,” Wow you truly do must believe in miracles. Your understanding of the Reed Sea is even more of a miracle to believe that 6 inches of water would encompass the Egyptian army like it says in Scripture. The whole class roared with laughter and the professor immediately changed the subject.” :)

Back on track:
I find it interesting that you say history deals with probablity as opposed to certainty. I think some of history is that way but much of history is not. We know WWII occurred, have videos, etc. We are certain that it occured. I think from many of the scholars that have inspired me Dr. Lee Stoble is one that was an ex-atheist who is a Believer by looking at the evidence. He comes from a standpoint after years of scholarly research found the certainty of the resurrection, Scripture, etc. For me what is great about miracles in Scripture and the resurrection is that it is certain that it happened. Not all things that are certain need to be recreated.

What is great to see is that after years of study you have found as well that the resurrection actually happened. I kind of see your study as to how much of a miracle Jesus’s resurrection was. When one looks at that then one can how God is a miracle working God. :)

On a total side not totally on different subject but on “miracles” my elder at my church gave a sermon on his testimony. Our elder, lets name him John, spoke about his testimony of how he came to Christ. John for years was scared of death but had a wonderful education in Law for a lawyer. He said he was a good person, went to church, got good grade but knew something was missing with his fear of death. John got married. He and his wife went to visist his brother in law in CA. Lomg story short they find a guy unconscience from drugs and the brother in law said “We need to take care of this guy.” So they put him in the car and decided that he couldn’t stay at the broher in laws house but they wanted to take care of him. They asked him his name and all he said was “Trujillo”. So they decided to go to a grocery store to find a phone book to call. The phone book at 200 Trujillo’s in LA. So the brother in law said “We need to pray.” John questioned praying but did so anyway. He told his brother in law that he felt that he needed to call this specific phone number. The brother in law called and told the lady the whole story. The lady interuppted and asked, “Are you an angel?” My son ran away from home and is a drug addict. He ran away from home 2 weeks ago and I cannot find him. Where is he so I can pick him up?” John, my elder, got on his knees and immediately ask Jesus in his heart. John, the elder, said I had always been a Thomas and now I knew there was not doubt that Jesus was the only answer for that situation and for his eternal life. He said before that time I knew I was facing a life of eternal death but the moment I got on my knees I knew without a shadow of doubt that my eternal life was secure. He is now the head elder in our church and after speaking with him and hearing him speak several times has wonderful fruit as a Christian.

39

PamBG 07.22.10 at 8:42 pm

Hey, I’ve got a Master in Finance AND a Master in Theology! Do I win? :D

And DH, I think your dad was right about the Red/Reed Sea. I believe that there are miracles around us every day. What I don’t believe is that God breaks the laws of nature every single day in order to reward people for their belief in “whatever”.

40

dh 07.22.10 at 9:35 pm

PamBG, My dad was being sarcastic based on the assumption of his so-called “facts” to let him know indirectly that his idea that it was Reed Sea was wrong or at least that Sea was much bigger than what the professor was letting on. I consider it a miracle and a fact that the Red Sea parted and that there was dry ground just like it says and that the rest of the story happened just like it says. What he was pointing out to the professor was the professors attempt to diminish the miracle by saying the Israelites crossed over in just 6 inches of water when the professors attempt to diminish the miracle made even greater problems with the professors little excercise and so-called exmplaination. Hense the laughter in the room by the other students and the professor changing the subject thereafter.

BTW, did I say that God breaks the laws of nature everyday? However, I’m not going to say He doesn’t do it at all like you seem to imply. Also it isn’t to “reward people for their belief in whatever” but for God to reveal Himself to people so that they can have an opportunity to give their lives to Him. Does God do this sort of thing every single day? Maybe not or at the very least not observed every single day but I’m not going to place limits on God to say that He doesn’t do this sort of thing.

I’m sorry you are not inspired by the testimony of the elder of my church. I wonder if you are even inspired by the Apostle Paul’s road to Damascus experience. God broke the Laws of nature there. I personally don’t see why He can’t do it today. I thank God every day that He is a miracle working God but my Faith in God is not placed solely on Him breaking Laws of nature other than My Faith by placing my entire life in His death and resurrection to receive eternal life as opposed to eternal death and to have a relationship with Him while on this earth for greater fulfillment as well.

41

PamBG 07.23.10 at 2:02 am

DH, and I’m sorry that you don’t believe that God is everywhere and that he has to show himself in a dog-and-pony show in order for you to believe in him and think he’s really real.

And I know your dad was being sarcastic. And I’m not. :D

42

Kim 07.23.10 at 7:07 am

I just picked this up from Cynthia Nielsen, at her blog Per Caritatem, on “Friedrich Hayek, economist, philosopher, self-professed promoter of liberalism even writing an essay to distance himself from conservatism, ardent defender of free-market capitalism,” and though an atheist, the economic mentor of many conservative Christians.

Cynthia cites Jung Mo Sung: “[I]f it is true that we cannot sufficiently understand the factors and dynamics of the market so that we can intervene in it, how can we know that the market always produces beneficial effects or that it is essentially a ‘force for good’? Is knowing that the market always produces beneficial effects not a pretension of knowledge of the market? Since one cannot prove this providential character of the market, we have here a ‘leap of faith’ in the affirmation of the essentially beneficent quality of free market.”

Cynthia concludes: Hayek “held to a (obviously non-theistic) view of evolutionary morality, which as I understand it … suggests that we move beyond primitive instincts - ‘rules of solidarity and altruism’ and ‘treat[ing] all men as neighbors.’ Why? ‘For those now living within the extended order gain from not treating one another as neighbors, and by applying, in their interactions, rules of the extended order [="free market economy"]—instead of the rules of solidarity and altruism.’ Somehow, I just don’t think Jesus would approve.”

43

Tony Buglass 07.23.10 at 9:13 am

DH: “…others have done the exact same thing and my views seems to match the analysis they have found as well.”

Because you only read those who are ’sound’? (ie those who agree with you?)

DH: ” We know WWII occurred, have videos, etc. We are certain that it occured.”

“We are certain” is a conclusion, not evidence or fact; it is essentially a faith statement. At this stage in history, we remember a time of conflict, which we call WW2. Was it a world war? Or (as the great historian AJP Taylor argued) a collection of interconnected conflicts? Did it start when Germany invaded Poland? When Britain and France declared war on Germany? When Japan invaded Manchuria? When did it change from a European war to a world war? When the US came in? When Germany invaded Russia? Did it end in Europe on May 8th or May 9th 1945, or when the formal state of war ended in 1950? And how will all of this look in a century or two, when there are no eyewitness memories? The apparent certainties are nowhere near as certain as they appear at first glance - even so-called hard evidence such as video clips mean little without an interpretative context, and that is where we begin to talk about degrees of probability.

The point is that the scientific approach to evidence is different in history. In physics or chemistry, an experiment can be conducted to replicate an event. That is not possible in historical study. We cannot recreate the resurrection, we can only piece together the evidence (the fall-out from the ‘bang’), assess the most probable causes for the various bits of evidence. Like you, I know people who have been persuaded by the evidence (most famously, Frank Morison, who went on to write “Who Moved The Stone?” - you’d enjoy that, I think). However, the fact that many others (including believing Christians) see other possible explanations within the matrix of evidence shows that it isn’t as black and white a case as some of us would like it to be. My personal certainty that Jesus was raised from the dead is like yours, a step of faith reaching beyond the evidence.

44

Richard 07.23.10 at 9:54 am

DH’s story about his dad and the seminary professor is a very helpful one as a simple case study in how complicated it can be to assess even a simple bit of historical evidence.

DH tells this story certain that it happened as he tells it and that it happened to his father in seminary.(I’m sure of this because he’s told us it before, more or less word for word) Fwiw, I’m sure he is being truthful.

However, there must be more to the story than DH’s account. For one thing, I’m certain that I heard it when I was a teenager. I’ve a feeling that I heard from my dad (though not in the first person) but it might have been at a meeting I was at with my dad. It must have been in the 70s (because my dad died in 1979). So the story must have been in pretty wide circulation. And if my vague feeling isn’t convincing, a litttle googling will reveal the same story around the internet (here, here, here and here for example).

This is a trivial example, I know. But untangling the “truth” of the story’s ‘authorship would be anything but trivial — and would miss the story’s main purpose, which is a slightly amusing poke-in-the-eye to a certain kind of Biblical scholarship.

45

PamBG 07.23.10 at 11:11 am

I think I’ve heard it too. It’s one of a number of “slam, dunk” arguments that is supposed to dispose of historical criticism in a single blow.

Just for the sake of argument, too. I don’t consider that disagreeing that the bible is verbally inspired, inerrant and infallible makes a person a scriptural or theological “liberal”.

46

Earl 07.23.10 at 2:21 pm

“Dog and pony…” Interesting… a omnipresent God enters the human experience wearing a Klingon cloaking device. How very… “compelling?”

47

Earl 07.23.10 at 2:38 pm

Irrespective of JMS lament, markets are as variable as the individuals and interest that produce them. The assertion that market operations follow a beneficial predicate is the logical expectation of a self-interest rather than self-destruction. To affirm otherwise requires more than a mere “leap of faith,” it requires nothing less than a exercise in fantasy. A profit driven market based economic structure can be replaced by a different rule of economic order. Jesus spoke specifically to this matter. If Christians want to reinvent the economic order along the lines of this different rule, we will have to begin at the beginning… by bringing at least the majority and hopefully the whole of a lost world to a knowledge of Christ as Savior and Lord. To seek to establish such a economic revision on non-existent social assumptions is to seek to build on wood, hay and stubble

48

dh 07.23.10 at 4:46 pm

Richard, this story in fact DID happen. This was in his Seminary in Missouri. I take issue in you questioning the truth of this story of my dad for it DID occur.

PamBG, you say ” I’m sorry that you don’t believe that God is everywhere and that he has to show himself in a dog-and-pony show in order for you to believe in him and think he’s really real.” Wow, did you even read my post? I never said that God break laws of nature every day. I don’t need a “dog and pony show to know God is real. I do believe that the miracles of Jesus in Scripture are things we can look to as one of many many things to know that God is real. I also don’t believe that God doesn’t do these things.

Tony, if one wants to talk about dog and pony shows, it seems to me to go on and one in the details of WWII when we all know that WWII certainly occurred (period). and that is the point I was trying to make. All of the other questions and statements within the WWII comment seem to be “red-herrings” from what I was saying.

Tony, I like what you said here. “My personal certainty that Jesus was raised from the dead is like yours, a step of faith reaching beyond the evidence.” However, the evidence of Jesus’s death and resurrection are overwhelming.

49

dh 07.23.10 at 4:47 pm

Earl, I’m in total agreement with your latest response.

50

Richard 07.23.10 at 5:01 pm

DH, I’m sorry that you’ve read my comment with insufficient attention. I specifically said that I believed you were being truthful. As am I when I say that I’d heard this story long before you related it here. Did you follow any of the links to other instances of the story? I’m not saying you’re telling fibs. Only that it isn’t the whole story.

51

dh 07.23.10 at 5:45 pm

I see but Richard these stories might appear to be similar but how I relayed my dad’s specific experience at his specific seminary in the State of Missouri is exact in every way. I don’t deny your as well but that was a totally different seminary and a totally different class and while similar it is different. Does that make sense? For my dad it was the entire story for I relayed the entire story my dad personally experienced while he was in a seminary class in the State of Missouri. While it may be interesting to read others similar stories, those are not the same story that my dad specifically experienced. Does that make sense?

Thank you for believing me. Hopefully this latest explaination will assist as well in understanding. For the stories are not in relation to the same exact class but multiple different classes at multiple different seminaries. The story of my dad’s seminary class and what he experienced is how I stated it word for word.

52

Earl 07.23.10 at 6:18 pm

“We know WWII occurred.” “It is essentially a faith statement.” Anyone who wants to seriously pretend that WWII was only a “time of conflict,” etc. needs to take a walk. They need to take a walk through London… Berlin… Manchuria… Tokyo… Hiroshima… Nagasaki. The scars and living witnesses remain. They need to take a walk along the coastal environs of Normandy and the nearby graveyards on the bluffs overlooking the invasion beaches and the small villages nearby. The scars and living witnesses remain. They need to keep on walking through France and Belgium. They need to keep on walking through Poland and Germany. They need to at least cast a brief glance at what remains of the camps where millions were exterminated on a industrialized scale. They need to walk through Stalingrad. And they need to walk through Nuremberg. The scars and living witnesses remain. Those who now argue such nice distinctions are not unlike teenagers arguing the merits of various types of tires and engine modifications for race cars featured on the cover of Car and Driver magazine.

53

Kim 07.23.10 at 7:29 pm

I read Who Moved the Stone? shortly after I became a Christian. Thank God! If I’d read it before, I could well still be a pagan.

Why do I say that? It is not only because, as Rowan Williams observes, “As far as the historical question goes, it is clear that the scholarly analysis of the resurrection narratives has not yielded a single compelling resolution to the numerous difficulties that the texts pose.” More fundamentally still, as resurrection is “a paraphrase of the word ‘God’” (Barth), any deity whose existence could be empirically demonstrated would, in fact, be a creature, i.e., not God at all. Again, of course the gospel witness to the resurrection is testimonial, not evidentiary (certainly not in the modern historical sense of the word), but if it were evidentiary, then what? Tony is right - we would be dealing in probabilities, and a faith based on probabilities - well, imagine saying, with the creed, “I believe it is highly probable that on the third day he rose again”, or “I believe that on the third day he rose again - until the next archaeological dig around Jerusalem, when I’ll have to check out the journals to make sure my faith is still rational.”

A hypothesis that God exists cannot be a hypothesis that God exists. We do not infer God from the way the world is, just the reverse, we infer the way the world is from (our faith in) God.

54

dh 07.23.10 at 7:41 pm

“We do not infer God from the way the world is, just the reverse, we infer the way the world is from (our faith in) God.”

I believe it is an equal combination of both. It doesn’t have to be eaither or. I’m not saying it is solely non-hypothesis without Faith nor should it be looked at solely by Faith without understanding that God literally existed and was resurrected.

“any deity whose existence could be empirically demonstrated would, in fact, be a creature, i.e., not God at all.” Well that is if you don’t believe in that the true God is Trinitarian in nature and as such Jesus in the fleash was and still is by being resurrected, God.

55

dh 07.23.10 at 7:44 pm

“I believe that on the third day he rose again - until the next archaeological dig around Jerusalem, when I’ll have to check out the journals to make sure my faith is still rational.”

Well Kim, you sound like Thomas, “Until I touch and feel the scares in your side and touch His hand I cannot Believe. Then Jesus said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet Believe.” :)

Romans 1, not in reference to the sins reference but other things, mentioned that we are “Without excuse” in reference to Faith and lack of Faith.

56

Kim 07.23.10 at 8:24 pm

I think, Earl, taking him for an idiot - it’s probably the view from your high horse - you miss Tony’s point. Things have happened in history. These are called “facts”, we speak of discovering (not inventing) them, and some of them are verifiable, more or less,and when they are, some people use them to write histories. These people are called historians. But the histories historians write, unless they are trivial or misleading, are not just compilations of facts, they are deployments of facts-as-evidence for particular readings, i.e., interpretations, of the past. The Cambridge University historian Richard J. Evans (in a book I would highly recommend, In Defence of History) puts it succintly thus: “Facts … precede interpretation conceptually, while interpretation precedes evidence.”

The past is open to distortion and exploitation. The US history textbooks I read in high school in the sixties were highly tendentious accounts and largely unwitting apologies for the myth of American exceptionalism. And some folk read the Bible (or the Koran) as a “book of facts” and deploy it unconscionable ways. I think Tony - he’s not a Holocaust denier, for Pete’s sake! - is simply calling for a bit of critical vigilance when we read or write history. It’s not exactly (I think he’d agree) hermeneutical rocket science.

57

dh 07.23.10 at 8:39 pm

Kim, Earl never said that or implied that Tony was a Holocost denier. He was pointing out how”Off the wall” it is to say in reference to WWII: “It is essentially a faith statement.”

If one wants to look at the US, the US was “exceptional” in WWII as were all of the Allies in WWII. I will say that if it wasn’t for the US Europe would have been overrun by the Nazi’s and Richard and others might be speaking German as opposed to English. If one wants to call that a myth then I would say shows ones American diminishism (not a word but trying to make a point). :)

I also I take issue to place the Bible at the same level as the Koran.”There truly is no comparison.

58

Earl 07.23.10 at 8:50 pm

Ah… Kim… how gratifying. In what you write one can always expect to hear echos of Christian love. It appear that you got Tony’s point. And it appears that you got the point made in response. Imagine that! The communication cycle is complete.

As regards histories and the historians who write them, some are credible. Then some are simply the product of fertile imaginations that serve the higher power of an agenda. The painful experience you decry from the 60’s is now mirrored in the experience of those who must deal with history books massaged to present “informed” perspective more supportive of a “broader agenda.”

59

Kim 07.23.10 at 9:50 pm

“Echoes” - with an “e”.

60

Earl 07.23.10 at 10:05 pm

Alas… spelling was never my strong suit.

61

Kim 07.23.10 at 10:15 pm

One corrects those one loves.

62

Earl 07.23.10 at 10:39 pm

I can “feel” the love!

63

Tony Buglass 07.23.10 at 11:18 pm

Earl: “Anyone who wants to seriously pretend that WWII was only a “time of conflict,” etc. needs to take a walk.”

I have. I’ve been there. As far afield as at least one of he battle-sites on the Eastern Front, and last week my wife and I were among the villages and town which would have been directly under the Luftwaffe’s path to London 70 years ago, and very aware of the nearness of those memories. Read again what I wrote. I never for a moment denied that WW2 happened. I argued that our interpretation of it as an event is just that - an interpretation, defining the events in a given way. As such it is a faith-position. Read AJP Taylor. I have read histories of the last war by British, US, German, Russian and Swiss historians - all quite different in their views, I can tell you.

64

Tony Buglass 07.23.10 at 11:30 pm

DH: “I will say that if it wasn’t for the US Europe would have been overrun by the Nazi’s and Richard and others might be speaking German as opposed to English. If one wants to call that a myth then I would say shows ones American diminishism”

Without the US, it would indeed have been a different story. But without the UK standing alone for 2 years, in the face of American isolationism, I doubt you’d have joined in what many saw as a European war. Yes, Churchill and Roosevelt cooked up Land-Lease, without which Britain would have been bankrupt by the end of 1940 and forced to sue for peace, but Britain paid for what we got, and were still paying that war debt until just a few years ago.

As for myth - well, I suspect you don’t understand the word. It doesn’t mean fairy-story or lie. It means a narrative with a meaning. It doesn’t have to be historical, but it may be. 1940 has become mythological for the British psyche - people still talk about the Dunkirk spirit. The event was real enough: we stood alone against Germany, managed to retrieve enough of an army to envisage fighting on, and faced an aerial attack preparatory to invasion. Now, the facts are that Dunkirk was catastrophic defeat, that the Luftwaffe threw away the Battle of Britain when they turned from attacks on RAF bases and went to London, and that Operation Seelowe would almost certainly have failed because the Germans didn’t have the technology to force a Channel crossing and support it. None of that was known or even apparent at the time, which is why the experience was powerful enough to become part of British mythology. Against Bultmann, I would argue in agreement with Pannenberg that myth can indeed be historical.

65

Tony Buglass 07.23.10 at 11:38 pm

As for “Who Moved The Stone”, I read it over 30 years ago, and was impressed. Then I began my degree, and started seeing the loopholes and weaknesses in his argument (hardly surprising, for one who was a lawyer not a biblical scholar, who did not understand the nuances of the material he was examining); it was that which first sowed the seed of an idea - what would happen if someone did the same project, but with proper critical scholarship? That was what I tried to do in my MTh thesis, and was gratified to see other scholars covering the same ground in similar ways - Dale Allison, N T Wright, J D G Dunn, G Theissen, and others. Not Barth, I’m afraid. Hence my conclusion, which I mentioned earlier.

66

PamBG 07.24.10 at 1:04 am

I don’t need a “dog and pony show to know God is real. I do believe that the miracles of Jesus in Scripture are things we can look to as one of many many things to know that God is real. I also don’t believe that God doesn’t do these things.

So, I’m curious. The little story you told suggests that it’s fairly important to you to make fun of people who don’t share your belief that God parted the Red Sea like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. Why does it matter? Does my thinking that God probably didn’t act in that way diminish God? Does it diminish your faith in God? I don’t need you to believe as I do. Why do you need me to believe as you do?

67

Earl 07.24.10 at 2:19 am

I read what was written beginning with “We are certain… ” and continuing to “…degrees of probability.” I took particular note of “…we remember a time of conflict, which we call WW2. Was it a world war? Or (as the great historian AJP Taylor argued) a collection of interconnected conflicts?” I also noted the concluding statement, “The apparent certainties are nowhere near as certain as they appear at first glance - even so-called hard evidence such as video clips mean little without an interpretative context, and that is where we begin to talk about degrees of probability.” Your explanation in response is sufficient. From my perspective, if a historian is to tell the facts of history, let them tell the facts and let the reader draw their own conclusions. If a historian presumes to offer their interpretation of those facts, then call that interpretation what it is, opinion. But do not pretend that opinion is fact.

68

Kim 07.24.10 at 8:01 am

Again, Earl, with your 19th century positivist concept of history (haven’t you read Carr, Elton, White, Evans, archaeologists and genealogists like Foucault, and black, feminist, etc. historians?), you miss the point: when an historian “tell[s] the facts”, unless he is writing an almanac, ipso facto (!) he offers an interpretation. The very selection of which facts he tells is an interpretive act. Good historians ply their craft honestly and conscientiously; bad, tendentious historians, like the purveyors of national myths (in Tony’s sense of the term) abuse the great and important intellectual enterprise of historiography.

Finally, on “love”. You interpret the word quasi-romantically as referring to a feeling. I interpret the word - with the New Testament - as a willing of the other’s good, issuing, where possible, in specific actions. Love can exist with anger, and one can love someone without liking them (your enemies, for example, as our Lord urged, and as Martin Luther King famously reiterated). I haven’t met you, so I don’t know whether I like you. I obviously think your views are usually wrong and sometimes dangerous. However I wish you blessing, not ill. Ergo I love you.

69

Earl 07.24.10 at 3:33 pm

Historians do from a wealth of information select those facts which they consider significant and most worthy of note. The rub comes in how that material is selected and presented. Your complaint concerning history textbooks of the 1960’s illustrates the highly objectionable subordination of truth to political and social agenda that is now demonstrated in the history textbooks of this era. To produce and publish such propaganda under the label of history is not only a failure of integrity and conscience but an abuse of both the subject and the reading audience. By your estimate it earlier produced a national mythology that was dishonest and self-serving. In this era it produces a mythology that is dishonest and self-destructive.

There are those whose concept of love is rooted in the paperback world of Harlequin romances. Mine is drawn from the pages of the N.T. Therein one reads of how people of remarkably different origin and experience found a common faith in Christ. If there is more than the distance of a similar language and a dissimilar background between us, it may be that the very fact we have any interaction at all stems from a similar common commitment to Christ. Jesus commanded us to love one another. Such love is not an emotion but a choice. The same is true of liking. It is debatable just how well one can love anyone without making an effort to like them. The consequence of doing otherwise would at a minimum be confusing. Perhaps the greatest barrier to genuine love is that it is very hard to affirm a person while at the same time discounting/disparaging what they themselves affirm. In all your protest you are not always wrong. In all my affirmations I am not always right. I pray that God will richly bless us all as we share in serving Him. And I pray that God will bless you.

70

dh 07.26.10 at 5:40 pm

Because the Bible says what happened with regard to the events regarding the Exodus. I have no reason to doubt that the way Scripture says the events of the Exodus are different. When Scripture says specifically that something happened and a prophessor says otherwise then one must beg the question as to why one feels to need to attempt to change what God specifically said in His word regarding the events? For me you are focusing more on the question of Faith. I’m focusing on what Scripture says. The story more beggs the question as to why people choose not to take Scripture for what it says. As evident by what my dad experienced, it seems to me why7 not believe what Scripture specifically says then to attempt to change the story that God specifically says in His Word? Also, I’m not saying that the Charlton Heston “Ten Commandments” Exodus was how it happened but it is pretty close. At the same time, when one looks at Scripture I’ll stick with what Scripture says that the water was as high as the Red Sea as opposed to 6 inches as evident in thinking it was the Reed Sea. I find it humorous that the double standard to promote the view that it was 6 inches of water shows a God who took that 6 inches of water and encompassed the army that was attemptiong to attack the Israelities leaving in the Exodus.

If one wants to look at “ridicule”, I see more professors “ridiculing” my Dad and I’s view than the other way around. Dad was trying to “make fun” of the professor but point out the flaws in his argument and put aside the predispositions the professor had toward the miracles of the Exodus that Scripture specifically says. There is a big difference.

Let me turn the question around, why do professors and others feel the need to ridicule those who believe in innecrancy of Scripture when many scholars believe that like Lee Stroble, Gregory Koukl, J.I. Packer
Tim Challies and the like.

71

Tony Buglass 07.27.10 at 10:17 am

“For me you are focusing more on the question of Faith. I’m focusing on what Scripture says. The story more beggs the question as to why people choose not to take Scripture for what it says.”

But that IS a question of faith. Your emphasis on ‘what scripture says’ is an expression of your faith in the historical reliability of scripture. There is no hard archaeological evidence to support it. There is plenty of linguistic and textual evidence to question that interpretation (although I agree - to suggest that the so-called Reed Sea was only 6 inches deep was a bit silly). There are two quite different accounts of the crossing in Ex.14 - one which deal with a strong wind blowing all night and the sea withdrawing, the other describing walls of water on either side, which looks like an interpolation into the Ex.14 prose account by influence from the Ex.15 verse account. There is also the linguistic question about whether “yam suph” refers to the Red Sea or the Reed Sea (where the Great Bitter Lakes are now, IIRC). There is also evidence within the linguistic traditions that this crossing was not by the whole of Israel, but that this was the experience of one group of the tribes, while others went by a much more northerly route; what became Israel’s salvation history has adopted his story as applying to the whole of Israel, not just the group that took the southerly route.

Now, of course you will disagree entirely with what I have just suggested, and no doubt argue that it is part of the same liberal and unbelieving stuff as was spouted by your Dad’s Professor. That is your prerogative. However, those alternate explanations were offered because of the evidence in the texts and (in some places) the archaeology, suggesting that the salvation-history narrative is more salvation history than history. Personally, I think there is a lot more real history there than some would affirm, but the point is that you will not persuade anyone by simply affirming inerrancy (which the Bible itself never does) and not engaging with the evidence.

72

dh 07.27.10 at 4:36 pm

Well, how about the predisposition of those who project the so-called linguistic and textual evidence that you so readily proclaim? I know many scholars and theologians who happen to have evidence as well that support the view I happen to hold in opposite of those you proclaim. These people also happen to “engage the evidence” as well. Also just because some linguistic traditions say something doesn’t mean that they are necessarily a “more accurate portrayal” of what happened. The view I hold is not solely based on innerancy of Scripture even tho it is part of the reason for my view.

“There are two quite different accounts of the crossing in Ex.14 - one which deal with a strong wind blowing all night and the sea withdrawing, the other describing walls of water on either side, which looks like an interpolation into the Ex.14 prose account by influence from the Ex.15 verse account. ”

These are two different accounts but one account. The walls of water were on either side by God using a strong wind blowing all night. Just because one verse gives more detail than the other doesn’t mean they contradict. That is the problem that people who don’t believe the view I hold. They point to two different Scriptures and do a “self-fulfilled prophesy” to attempt to show that they contradict when one looks at it they don’t. It happens one verse gives an overview and the other gives further detail. That happens in literature all the time but people don’t suggest they contradict why then think that regarding this particular Scripture?

73

dh 07.27.10 at 4:37 pm

“These are NOT two different accounts but one account.” sorry for the typo

74

Tony Buglass 07.27.10 at 7:27 pm

“Well, how about the predisposition of those who project the so-called linguistic and textual evidence that you so readily proclaim?”

Everybody has a predisposition, through which they address the evidence. A good critical approach is aware of the predisposition, and able to distance itself sufficiently to see the evidence as it really is, not as it would prefer to see it.

My predisposition is to trust the reliability of scripture. However, if I discover hard evidence that what the Bible says cannot be true, I cannot ignore that, and have to ask what that evidence implies for my understanding of that passage in particular and the Bible in general. For example, if an OT narrative describes the burning of a town (as happens several times in Joshua), but excavation of the site shows that the town was never burned, I have to accept that as fact. It doesn’t harm my overall view of scripture, but it does remind me that the oldest traditions were transmitted orally for many generations before they were written down, and some stories may have developed somewhat in the telling.

The British Methodist Church expresses that in its doctrinal standards thus:
“The doctrines of the evangelical faith which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds are based upon the divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice.”
The point is that there is a subtle distinction between the divine revelation and the scriptures in which it is given. Within the Church there is a wide spectrum of views and interpretation of scripture, all of which can still affirm that doctrinal position.

75

dh 07.27.10 at 7:50 pm

“For example, if an OT narrative describes the burning of a town (as happens several times in Joshua), but excavation of the site shows that the town was never burned, I have to accept that as fact.”

Well maybe there is additional evidence that isn’t made available yet in the natural? Maybe over the thousands of years the evidence of the “burning” went away? Many times in archeology “time” can remove evidence.

“A good critical approach is aware of the predisposition, and able to distance itself sufficiently to see the evidence as it really is, not as it would prefer to see it.”

I see many people who hold your view who are projecting your view not “practice as you are preaching, Tony” as evident by the professor my dad ran into. I see many people on your view rejecting much evidence in archeology, linguistic and textual things that support the view that I and others hold. When I read Lee Stroble, Gregory Koukl, J.I. Packer
Tim Challies and the like my Faith in God is renewed to know how consistent God is and therefore consistent God’s Word is.

I however, do see your point ,while I happen to somewhat strongly disagree. :)

76

Tony Buglass 07.27.10 at 9:43 pm

“Maybe over the thousands of years the evidence of the “burning” went away? Many times in archeology “time” can remove evidence.”

Nope. Burning leaves a layer of ash and charcoal which appears as a black line around a trench at a dig. It has been observed many times, at many sites, of all ages. This is just wishful thinking on your part.

77

dh 07.27.10 at 9:48 pm

I know many times that that is the case but you are correct that that is not always the case. You may think it is wishful thinking but we all know that over time much so-called “evidence” is unable to be observed and/or magnified to appear of something that is so-called “evidence” that it is not depending on the situation.

78

dh 07.27.10 at 9:50 pm

Let me rephrase the first sentence (haven’t had my lunch yet :) )
“I know you are correct that many times that that is the case. However that is not always the case.

Sorry about that. Like Guns and Roses say “Just a little patience”. :)

79

DaveW 07.29.10 at 12:01 am

dh,

Where is your evidence of cities that have burnt with no archaeological evidence? Especially evidence from other sources than scripture.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>