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Dane Cook and Our Funny Problem with the Word “All”

(Written 1.October.2013)

Today I find myself here—ruefully admitting something that pains me every time I’m forced to acknowledge it:
There was a time I once enjoyed Dane Cook.


There it is.
Shocking, I know.

Paul rudd double take

I mean, maybe I’m alone in this, or maybe there are a few of you that are still in the closet about it. You used to have a cd or two of his as well at one point, but then you laced up your boots, moved into adulthood and stopped hanging out with(or even acknowledging)…well, those who might still say they like and enjoy Dane Cook.
If you still like him, I’m sorry.
If you at some point in your life enjoyed him, and have since moved forward but refuse to admit that you even once liked him, I’m sorry.
But if you’re like me in that you can openly—to a welcoming group of fellow individuals, admit that even though you harbor disdain for him now, you once were on that Band Wagon, you once liked Dane Cook, then you’ll understand what I’m going to be getting at.

In the bathroom of where I work is a framed copy of an old newspaper cover page from 1898. Every time I go in there and…well, do what I do, I stare at it and read the main story.
Over and over and over again this happens, as can be deduced…and every time I stand there, with a bit more than just time in my hands, I read through the Headline and I always find myself frustrated with how it’s written.
Here it is below:

Dewey's Victory

And here’s why I get frustrated, because when I read it, my thoughts usually flow something like this:

Not a serious casualty sustained in destroying the spanish fleet.
(Okay, other than that word “destroying,” there wasn’t any serious casualties. Must’ve been a peaceful resolution…)

And then I get down to the forth sub-line:

Spanish lost eleven ships and 300 men killed and 600 men wounded.
(GAH! Those are what I would call “SERIOUS CASUALTIES!”)

If you’re going to say there wasn’t a serious casualty sustained, then I’m gonna assume that means across the board. If you wish to convey that you mean specifically, “our side,” then include that. “Not a serious AMERICAN casualty sustained in destroying the Spanish fleet.”
Makes more sense to me reading it.
The meaning is clear, and right there, conveyed in the text.

Now I know what you might say, “Christian, it’s implied in it sayingdestroying the Spanish fleet. See, the Spanish fleet is destroyed, which obviously means casualties on their side.”
But then, that means you and I have differing opinions about grammar articles and the use of “definite” over “indefinite” articles. And we can debate back and forth and get all muddled up in the rules, and use the text to help affirm the rule we stand by, rather than simply looking at the text, and using it to formulate the rule…

Hopefully by now you’re guessing that I’m probably talking about more than just this old newspaper article that I—in the long run could care less about, but find useful in outlining a deeper problem.

You see, there’s this little word that pops up throughout the Bible that’s been quite a problem for many. And that word—as the title of this post might suggest, is ALL. Now, I never really took grammar in High School (as much of my writing more than likely suggests), but I’ve done a decent go-round looking up everything from grammatical articles to indefinite pronouns to quantifiers, all in hopes of really coming to some sort of well rounded understanding of that word…
And–if you fancy, HERE is just one of the great sites I found that helps both in understanding the usage, and solidifying my point.

The thing is, I’m not really wishing to argue that my point is right, or that my way of viewing the text, or my rules are the right ones.
And while I may know a lot more than I did before about all those things—while I may have gleaned some ability to aptly argue my point that many people see the use of “all” in certain Scripture passages as a partitive article, or a mere Universal indefinite pronoun that doesn’t really mean all just like when you say “everybody had some pie” you don’t really mean everybody in existence; what’s clear is that it seems we’re all just arguing the choice of rule rather than the text. You’re not arguing that the Bible’s use of the word ALL doesn’t mean all, you’re arguing that your chosen rule of definition is right in defining the Bible’s use of the word all.

So I don’t want to do that.

Because that’s not what I’m arguing.
That’s not even what I’m saying.

Because I think the problem isn’t whether or not which one of us takes the Bible literally, but that I don’t think any of us take the Bible literally enough.

Because I’m not arguing that my rule for understanding the Bible’s use of the word “all” is the right way of understanding/interpreting the text, but that I think maybe we should let the text define our rules.

I’m saying that I believe the story should dictate what we think and how we formulate our thoughts and our very existence, not used as proof that how we’re already thinking, how we’ve already formulated our thoughts, and how we already believe to be our existence is right.

Which brings me back to Dane Cook.

And this bit:

See the thing is, when it comes to stories that are outside ourselves, we don’t really have any way of knowing whether or not what is said is what is. We believe there can’t have been 1000 firefighters in one street, or someone took a hundred hour nap because our logic and our experience and our philosophies and our theologies and dogmas and rules say that it just isn’t feasible—it’s just not possible.
So passages like Isaiah 45:22-23 (and it’s parallels: Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10) are read, where it says things like EVERY tongue will swear allegiance, or John 12:32 where Jesus says that on the Cross is where He will draw ALL to himself, or Rom. 5:18, Rom. 11:32, 1 Cor. 15:22, Col. 1:20, and so on, (For more on this subject and all the references, here’s some reading) and then argue how–like 1000 firefighters or a hundred hour nap or not a [single] serious casualty sustained in destruction, it’s just not possible to mean ALL.
And you argue about context and implication, and when and what and why and how “all” literally means “ALL” and when it means “some things” or “only the new things, the saved things, the things that have chosen…wisely.”
Decision Monk

But then…you’re not arguing the text.
You’re arguing your rules.

You’re not arguing THE LOGOS (The Logic—the Word, made Flesh and dwelt among us).
You’re arguing YOUR logos, your logic.

It’s impossible to have 1000 firefighters on one street or take a 100 hour nap or for God to restore, redeem, reconcile ALL things, ALL men, ALL. Everyone.

With God, ALL THINGS are possible.

And now you have to further ask yourself, what’s your definition and rule about this use of ALL? Matt. 19: 26, Luke 1: 38, Cause this–like your definition and rule of the other uses of ALL will make or break your definition and rule about God.
And now you see that how you “choose” what the definition of ALL (in the Bible) means, shapes just what kind of God you may “choose” to follow.

Does “ALL THINGS are possible for Godnot really mean ALL THINGS?
Well then God isn’t Sovereign.

Does the redemption of ALL THINGS, the restoration of ALL THINGS, the reconciliation of ALL THINGS (Yes, even Dane Cook) not really mean that ALL THINGS will be redeemed, restored, reconciled?
Well then God isn’t Love.

But if we take the Bible more literally than it seems we do, if the story means–literally, ALL THINGS; then God IS Sovereign, for *literally* ALL THINGS are possible for God. And God IS Love. For *literally*, God WILL (and–by Jesus, HAS) redeem ALL THINGS, restore ALL THINGS, reconcile ALL THINGS.

And while Dewey’s Victory may contain the implication that the Spanish fleet looses 11 ships and 900 men are either dead or seriously injured, God’s Victory is not the same as any of man’s victories.

And so then the question is this:

What does it look like when God is Victorious?

UPDATE (20.February.2020): You can now find my official book proposal and finalized introduction (as well as a free chapter, by visiting the valuable resources, links, reads, and views link)

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