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By: Seth Bartley

It only makes sense that this first installment of meditations be used for salutations, introductions, and clarifications of the parameters of these works as well as the character of their author.  Therefore I aim to provide a quick Question & Answer session in hopes of providing a context through which readers can better glean my meanings in later articles.  Please provide comments concerning any questions you may have which I have not adequately covered.  I will attempt to answer them in an updated edition.

Who are you?
My name is Seth Bartley and I have been working with Raymond Harris (site administrator) on various studies and projects for the past three years.  I met him while he was ministering in Indiana, USA.  I have received an Associates Degree of Philosophy from Vincennes University in Indiana and am currently a full time student at Oakland City University in Indiana.  I will graduate with a Bachelors Degree of Education May 2012.

Who are you?
Given the topics on this site readers may be more concerned with my philosophy and religious viewpoints.

Philosophically—I’m an epistemologist.  That is, my main interest when approaching a study is to discern the origins and purposes of the topic.  I believe that when one understands how and why something was created, one can understand it much easier.

Most people today divide themselves into one of two primary opposing schools of philosophy:  Relativism and Absolutism.  Relativism being, put simply, ‘all truth is relative’ (so whatever I want to be true, is) and Absolutism, to the contrary, ‘all truth is absolute’ (and the truth I support is the absolute one).  Personally, I see both Relativism and Absolutism as a “sucker’s choice” we are asked which camp we are in when in fact they are both perversions.  I see them as the two extremes of Subjectivism:  ‘truth is determined by man’.  I take an alternate path; not a middle-ground between relativism and absolutism, for that would simply be a compromise in a perverse direction.  I hold to the view of Objectivism:  ‘truth is determined independent from man’.  (For more information look up:  Gottlob Frege, Immanuel Kant)

I believe that there are many ‘truths’ but the Creator of the universe determines which truth is truly true.  We can be in line with him, slightly off, directly opposing, but He is the benchmark.  Put simply, God is truth and truth is God.  The hard part comes in figuring out who this Creator is and what He/She/It believes.  I hold that this Creator has identified himself as YHWH and is described in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Theologically—My guiding Bible verses are Deuteronomy 6.5 and Luke 10.27 which contain the thought Love the LORD your god with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (probably better translated as ‘dominion’ or ‘willpower’).”  Being that the Messiah (the physical manifestation of the Torah) identified this as the chief commandment, if someone is reaching for this but disagrees with me doctrinally I celebrate them.  I will probably talk with them, but I can’t condemn them.

I find myself in line with Paul when he said, as recorded in Acts 24.14, that I believe all things which are in accord with the Torah and I believe all things written in the Prophets. In my view, any tradition or interpretation is fine so long as it does not contradict the Word of the LORD. (Please remember my sense of Objectivism.  I mean in conflict with the Word of the LORD, not my Subjective interpretation of it; my Oral Law or Doctrine.)  Put simply, if Peter and Paul can intensely disagree about how to interpret scripture and still both get to heaven, then so can we.

In terms of my home ‘sect,’ to borrow a phrase from Paul; I was brought up in the Church of Christ and do not have any denominational affiliation at this time.  I consider myself non-denominational, which is different than inter-denominational or intra-denominational.  Please do not fear that this is a sign of a lack of faith on my part.  I believe it is in fact a source of great faith for me; I do not rely on the works of men but on the Creator Himself and His Messiah.

(Please forgive the oversimplifications, but this is intended to be a quick introduction.  I will certainly be writing articles covering these topics more thoroughly.)

Epistemology—the study of the scope and limits of human understanding.

Relativism—all truth is relative.
Absolutism—all truth is absolute.
Subjectivism—truth is determined by man.
Objectivism—truth is determined independent from man.

Denominational—having affiliation with one denomination.
Non-denominational—having no affiliation with any denomination.
Inter-denominational—having affiliation with multiple denominations.
Intra-denominational—having affiliation with one and only one denomination.

What are your articles about?
Generally they will cover one small topic I have observed regarding the fields of faith and religion.

Specifically I will spend my time in two main areas.

  • Analysis of and refection on my own studies.
  • Analysis of and reflection on another scholar’s biblical study.

(I have no doubt that there will be some articles dedicated to analyzing articles by Raymond Harris.)

I have been asked to provide my insight into issues and concerns that might add to this website and make it a more valuable faith building resource for you, the visitor.  In addition, Faith and Conviction has been very beneficial to me and I would like to do what I can to help it grow.  I will be providing a monthly article and would be happy to receive any requests for topics you would like to see covered.

Please leave a comment in regards to requests, questions, or concerns you may have.  If there is anything you believe I have not covered to your satisfaction, please inform me and I will try to address your concern in a future article or update to this Q & A.

May the LORD bless you and have a good day.