Thread: biblical inerrancy Board: Dead Horses / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by ecumaniac (# 376) on :
 
I was wondering what you thought about the Bible being "inerrant". What does "inerrant" mean anyway?

I was listening to a lecture on the psalms and the lecturer was getting around the "violent" psalms by saying that "after all, the psalms were written by humans, so they're not actually scripture".

But all scripture is written by humans! (as far as I know!) How can something written by humans be "inerrant"?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
This thumb up for biblical inerrancy.

My belief is that the Scriptures, including the Psalms, were written by people who were inspired by God to write them, and are therefore inerrant.

While God inspires many people, to the point that virtually nothing is written without some kind of inspiration from Him, the inspiration of the Scriptures is in a class by itself. The Scriptures are Divine Revelation, meaning that every word is directly from God.

The Scriptures are therefore God Himself speaking to the human race, despite the fact that they were written by people who used terms and concepts that made sense to them, and despite the fact that the literal accuracy of Scripture is not what we would consider to be literal accuracy.

I would not consider the Bible to be very factually accurate. Nor would I consider all of it to be literally true. For example, the first 11 chapters are, I think, ancient myths - which in no way detracts from them being the Word of God.

The inerrancy of the Bible resides in the spiritual truth that it contains, which it communicates to people who understand it. While many individual statements are literally untrue in theological terms, such as that God is jealous and angry, these statements nevertheless convey a part of an overall truth - which can be understood when the Bible is considered as a whole.

Even its most immoral aspects, such as God ordering the annihilation of whole cities, or the Psalmist praying for Babylonian children to be dashed on the rocks, essentially communicate fundamental truths.

For example, the annihilation of so-called "wicked" cities communicates the power of God and the danger of opposing Him. Dashing even small children on the rocks means that even the smallest and most apparently harmless of evils are to be removed from your life. Literally, however, these actions and desires on the part of the Israelites were wicked to the extreme.

The purpose of the Bible is to lift the human race out of evil and lead them towards heaven. It can do this very effectively if it is understood and loved. However, since the human race has been, and in many ways still is, in a quite primitive and uncomprehending spiritual level, the imagery and examples of the Bible are often drawn out of and speak to those states. The Israelites were not good people, at least as they are portrayed in Scripture, but they could be used by God to teach eternal truths and to represent the path that every imperfect ordinary person can follow to heaven.

Well, I could go on and on. But that is my basic view of biblical inerrancy.

Great topic. It is important to clarify ideas on this subject on a religious website like this ship.
 


Posted by babybear (# 34) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
My belief is that the Scriptures, including the Psalms, were written by people who were inspired by God to write them, and are therefore inerrant.

My belief is that the Scriptures, including the Psalms, were written by people who were inspired by God to write them, and are therefore capable of being errant. Mistakes have been made in transcriptions and mistakes in translations.

It seems that it is the nature of people to manage to stuff up anything that we get our hands upon.

The Bible is a continuing revelation of God to his people, God explaining himself and his nature to us. This being most fully explained in the person of Jesus.

bb
 


Posted by nemo (# 2582) on :
 
^Well said, babybear! I agree. It is true that great care has been taken in translating the Bible, and that great care was taken in the ancient Hebrew vocal tradition, but people make mistakes. I believe there is a lot of truth, but you have to make sure that what you beleive from the bible doesn't contradict the observed and experienced nature of things.
 
Posted by nemo (# 2582) on :
 
^To certain extents, anyhow. I just realized that statement could be misconstrued, sorry. I do believe some things from the bible that may have been miracles, which contradict nature by definition. What I meant was basically that you do need to use judgement when reading the Bible. I can see, for instance, how a story like the creation story from Genesis might have been slightly--perhaps even accidentally--altered over the thousands of years that it was passed by mouth. Maybe things really were created in the same order that evolution scientists would purport, rather than in the order we read in Genesis.

Humans will often color things their own way, even if they don't mean to, even if it is simply subconscious. That's the same reason why, when conducting drug research using people, it is important that, not only should the test subjects not be told whether they were given a real drug or a placebo, but the researcher administering the tests should not be told either. Otherwise, they might subconsciously administer drug-effectiveness tests to the subjects in such a way as to alter the results toward his bias. (i.e.- If a doctor was doing tests for a muscle pain relieving drug that he wanted to work, he might subconsciously touch the drugged patients back more softly than the placeboed patient's back when he says "Does this hurt?")

I have a rough time accepting that what we have today is still 100% without some error.
 


Posted by Manx Taffy (# 301) on :
 
It strikes me as strange that if there was to be a totally inerrant guide to everything we need to know that Jesus did not talk about this more.

I think scripture is very valuable and contains very much truth but is neither inerrant or the supreme authority for some of the reasons held above. I don't believe God used people as human dictaphones when recording the scriptures but that the authors walked closely with God and his spirit.
 


Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
Inerrancy always strikes me as rather a defensive position. Surely there are more positive things we can say about the bible than that it has no errors. The same could be true of the phone directory, but it wouldn't make me read it. I'd rather talk about the bible's trustworthiness and its revelatory and transformative power.

I'd argue that supreme authority belongs to God alone, but that his authority is mediated to us thru the bible. It has authority because he does. I'm often struck by how seriously Jesus took the scriptures throughout the whole of his life. Those who follow him will surely want to do likewise.
 


Posted by Carys (# 78) on :
 
The biggest problem I have with the concept of Biblical inerrancy is that those who accept it generally take it to mean that it is inerrant in historical and scientific fact - thus they take Genesis literally for example, which I think does harm to the intention of the authors and of God in inspiring them and completely misses the point of the creation stories. Certainly the Bible was not written as a scientific text book and expecting it to be so leads to allsorts of problem. As to historical accuracy that seems to ignore historiography and our understanding of historical sources. However, the lack of scientific and historical 'inerrancy' does not bother me. That's not what it is about. To me the Bible is the record of God's self-revelation, his teaching the Jews about himself which prepared the way for the incarnation. Maybe I could call it inerrant in the sense that I believe the Bible to be what God wants us to have - but that is an interpretation very far removed what it is generally used and I think using that to enable me to sign a DB or some such thing would not be entirely honest.

Carys
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Steve G:
Inerrancy always strikes me as rather a defensive position. Surely there are more positive things we can say about the bible than that it has no errors.

Good point. Maybe I am misunderstanding the thrust of the word, but I had connected it mainly with the absolute truth of the Bible's theological teachings, when these are properly understood.

I don't believe at all that the Bible is free of factual and redactive errors, or that it is always literally true. The simple fact that several different versions have come down to us, and that the various gospels disagree on minor points, should demonstrate that.

But the differences between the various versions are mostly trivial, as are the disagreements between books. And finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Bible has been remarkably accurately preserved over the years.

I take great comfort in the Bible as a reliable source of the truth in theological matters. This is what inerrancy means to me.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Posted 15 April 2002 14:43

I'm not sure the clock is right.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
How about now?
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
I see no reason to treat the Bible as any different from any other man made account, written by men of God. It will have human errors, the authors will be unable to prevent their own predjudices showing through, and the people deciding what went into the canon would have had the same faults. There are some great Christian books but no-one would say that they were inerrant.

For a Christian book to be inspired by God does not mean that it's author got it 100% right.

What distinguishes the Bible is it's subject material. It contains the stories behind the evolution of the jewish faith, which set the scene. But most importantly it contains the stories which surround Jesus, written in some cases by eye witnesses. It is because Jesus was special that the Bible is special.

That's what makes the Bible important in my faith. I take what it has to say seriously, but I don't tell myself that I must believe every word. If it seems to my conscience that it is saying something wrong, I generally believe that what is said is meant, and that it is most probably wrong.

I think, in such cases, Christians often look for clever ways of interpreting what the Bible says, when the most obvious explanation is that it is plain wrong.
 


Posted by nicolemrw (# 28) on :
 
roght on, bonzo.
 
Posted by Hull Hound (# 2140) on :
 
you said it well Bonzo.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
I see no reason to treat the Bible as any different from any other man made account, written by men of God.

Is there any Christian denomination that makes this idea their official stance on the Bible? My impression is that most denominations officially consider the Bible to be the revealed Word of God.

I know that many church leaders and theologians would take this stance, but I wonder if any denomination has made it official. Probably it would be an unpopular move in many circles.
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Freddy: The Unitarian Church...

My position is that the letters (romans on...) are not inspired. I also do not believe they claim to be inspired. There is one verse that claims that all scripture is inspired, but that is obviously referring to scripture, at the time ie: OT.

Whether or not Acts is inspired is irrelevant, because it is a historical account, not necessarily inerrant, but not theological in nature.

I see no reason to believe in a literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis. I am willing to concede that the rest of the events in the OT might very well have happened. There is certainly credible evidence pointing towards the fact that the stories were NOT in fact made up at a late date to give the Israelites a "history" as a nation.
Shakespearean ASIDE:(this evidence would be that prices, ie the price of Joseph, when sold into slavery, is accurate for the culture of his time, but not for the time when critics would have us believe it is written, hence making it improbable that they knew the going rate of slaves hundreds of years after the event. Also Abraham's grim split-goat covenant with God was a common way of sealing a pact in his time, but would have been strange and remotely barbaric to the later jews.)

IMHO of course...
Atticus
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Atticus, that's right, the Unitarians.

Your other thoughts almost precisely echo my own.

I have never thought the letters were inspired, but were simply the doctrinal writings of the early church. I do consider them basically true, however, except a few of Paul's statements about women.
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Thanks Freddy,
I'll add a few more thoughts:
My general position is that while the scriptures are not necessarily insipired, God was active in preserving them. I don't believe that many of the manuscripts could have survived to create such a (for the most part) coherent view of God. What I would say about Psalms is that they were written by a man after God's own heart, and were included by God so that we would see human to relate to and to model ourselves after instead of all this big man in the sky business. Song of Solomon I would say was included to keep Christianity from losing one of the most beautiful gifts ever given to man: pornographic literature. I think i was jooking... what I meant to say was the making of the looooove. And also to let us know that He's not such a stiff after all...
Again, I would attribute this to a man, but attribute it's inclusion to Godly intervention... of sorts.
 
Posted by Ham 'n' Eggs (# 629) on :
 
"Inerrancy", when used in this context, never has a single specific meaning.

It always means what the person using it requires it to mean, no more, no less.
 


Posted by IconiumBound (# 754) on :
 
Well then, what do we mean when we say, at the end of each reading, "the word of the Lord."? Is it really that or might is be not quite that?
 
Posted by jones94026 (# 2559) on :
 
IconimBound -
For me the rituals of prayer are not expressions of my beliefs, but rituals. They bring me into communion with people past and present that seek God. Much of the language, including your example, I can't support as literal truth; but I say them anyway. I'm open about my beliefs to people close to me and no one has kicked my out yet.
 
Posted by FCB (# 1495) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ham 'n' Eggs:
"Inerrancy", when used in this context, never has a single specific meaning.

It always means what the person using it requires it to mean, no more, no less.


This thread has got me thinking about "Biblical Inerrancy" -- which is, I confess -- not something I normally think much about. In particular it's got me thinking about the notion of what it would me to say the Bible contains "errors."

To take an example: While I think the first two chapter of Genesis do not give an accurate scientific account of the world's formation, I also do not think this is a matter of "error." It is not like God wanted to give us a scientific account but muffed it. It's bad science, but then it is not intended to be science. So no "error" is involved.

Similar examples could be taken from the New Testament: e.g. the two genealogies of Jesus. Maybe the point of the genealogies is something other than giving us an accurate account of Jesus' bloodline (which they obviously can't be trying to do, since they trace the genealogies through Joseph, whom Matthew and Luke both deny is the biological father of Jesus). So it isn't as if one or the other of them has made some mistake.

I guess my general approach to the Bible is that of Origen: it is all inspired (even the Epistles and (gasp) the Apocalypse). But the difficult passages (in this case, those that cannot be literally true) are there in order to push us to read beyond the literal, to grasp the "spiritual" or "mystical" meaning of the text. Perhaps Origen learned this from the rabbi that taught him Hebrew, since it is very close to rabbinic midrash.

My point here is that "error" may not be a very helpful category when approaching the Bible.

FCB
 


Posted by babybear (# 34) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IconiumBound:
Well then, what do we mean when we say, at the end of each reading, "the word of the Lord."? Is it really that or might is be not quite that?

I never say that. The Word of God is most definitely Jesus. "The Word was made flesh and live with us for a while."

bb
 


Posted by nemo (# 2582) on :
 
FCB, an error is basically a mistake. If there are things in the Bible that are not true, there are only two options: either the incorrect info was put there by some mistake, or it was put there on purpose. In other words, either it was a lie or an error. I doubt that you are willing to purport that God purposefully placed lies in the Bible, but What else could it be?
 
Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
In the case of genesis 1, it is those who have tried to interpret it as a scientific account of creation who are in error. To ignore genre and to try to treat every part of scripture exactly the same is bound to lead to confusion. That's why the 'when correctly interpreted' phrase is crucial in any definition of inerrancy.

To argue that anything that is not literally true is either a mistake or a lie simply doesn't make sense and rather falls into the literalist trap.

Consider poetry - 'hail to thee blithe spirit, bird thou never wert'. Is this true? Literally, no - a nightingale is in fact a bird. So is the statement a lie or a mistake? Well neither, it's an attempt to communicate what a marvellous creature the nightingale is. The categories of true and false are modified by literary genre. The tricky bit is deciding which bits of scripture fall into which genre.
 


Posted by nemo (# 2582) on :
 
So you think something like the part of Genesis that lists the order in which creatures were created, might in fact be some form of poetic statement?

No matter what the purpose of the statement is, if it is false, then it is false. Poetry is accepted because we know that the author is not actually saying that the bird is literally not a bird. We know he is trying to explain how he sees it as something more than it is. But anyone would have a difficult time of explaining how giving the created order of things in the incorrect order could ever be considered a poetic or metaphorical statement of any similar measure.

To me, it is evidence that when a story gets passed by mouth over time, it gets altered a little bit here and there, even by accident in very small amounts. And no one can deny that if one part of a wholly true story has been altered, then we can call that part a "falsehood" as it relates to what was originally told.

What it all comes down to is that this "falsehood" was either placed in the Bible on purpose or by accident. If someone knew that it was an "elaboration" when they said/wrote it, then it was done on purpose. If someone thought they were doing it the right way, but messed it up, then it was done by accident. There is no escaping that fact.

To me, the only logical and resonable options are that either Moses goofed up God's original story, or it was slowly altered over time, while being passed by word of mouth, or someone responsible for passing it along changed it on purpose.

I do not see how it could have been any form of poetic statement or anything other than either a direct purposeful alteration (lie) or an accidental alteration (mistake) from the original story, given by god with the correct order.
 


Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
 
The Bible is not a book of facts, nor is it as Babybear has pointed out the word of God
but it is a way that God has choosen to reveal things to us, and even in most cases the best record we have of many of His revalations. So I think that it is inerrant in that it is exactly what He wanted us to have. It is our problem if we choose to treat poetry as science, and fail to take the bits that are relavent to one culture and make them relavent to our culture. One thing the Bible is not is a book of rules.
Perhaps it is also inerrnat in that it requires us to think and "work out our own salvation ...".
 
Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
quote:
But anyone would have a difficult time of explaining how giving the created order of things in the incorrect order could ever be considered a poetic or metaphorical statement of any similar measure.

But you have a different order in Genesis 1 from Gen 2. I find it hard to take the actual words of the Bible serioulsy, and hold to most theories of inerrancy. (I try to take the first of those options, but often fail.)
 


Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
In answer to your question, Nemo, I do think the creation account has a poetic form to it. On the first 3 days 3 'realms' are created (day and night, sky and sea, land) and on the second 3 days the occupants of these 3 realms are created (sun and moon, birds and fish, animals and humans).

I think you're right to point out the crucial factor of people recognising the literary genre they are reading. The original readers would have found this easier than us (Hebrew readers would have looked for parallelisms in poems, whereas our forms of poetry are somewhat different).

I still think you need to broaden your categories beyond literal truth, lie, or mistake. In everyday speech (not just in poetry) we say things that aren't literally true but communicate truth meaningfully (phrases like 'the sun rises in the morning', as well as irony and sarcasm). I'd be surprised if you took everthing anyone says to you as either literally true, a lie or a mistake, so why apply only these criteria to the Bible?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by nemo:
No matter what the purpose of the statement is, if it is false, then it is false.

How about allegory, parable, metaphor, or the way that you explain to a child that the reason that the sky is blue is to match her eyes?

The early Genesis stories relate the early spiritual history of the human race. There was a Golden Age. People fell away from those idyllic times - so drastically that it was predicted that God would need to come to earth. There weren't really any magic trees or talking snakes!

This doesn't make the story untrue. It is simply not a book about natural factual knowledge, as Astro points out:

quote:
Astro writes:
The Bible is not a book of facts, nor is it as Babybear has pointed out the word of God

But the Bible is the Word of God. It claims this for itself repeatedly, and Jesus many times refers to it that way. Churches traditionally regard it that way. The miracle is that Jesus was in the flesh what had previosly only been in a book.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
I am reading a really interseting book by a guy called Lee Stobel at the moment.

A journalist who has a law degree made it his task to proove that the claims about Christ were false but after his research became a Christian.

Now he has written a book about the toughest issues that face Christians.

He interviewed a number of top scientists etc and theologists concerning issues like evolution and "apparent" contradictions in the Bible.

Basically I think that we make judgements on things we don't have the full facts. More & more scientist actually believe God created the world. If you read the bible properly and apply set rules that are applied to all historical accounts then you won't find contradictions in scripure.

Isn't it worth holding on to such judgements as "the bible has many inerrancies" etc until we get our facts right!!
 


Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
The Bible is the word of God, and is therefore His word's to us. While I belive that there are some errors, there is NO THEOLOGICAL error. Yes, there aere parts that are not necssarally to be taken literally, but symbolicaly (Jesus telling us to pick up deadly snales, drink poison and to cut off arms and to pluck out eyes).
 
Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by gkbarnes:
pick up deadly snales

Sorry, I meant snakes
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
Thanks for the clarification gk a lovely image!
deadly snales: you see one heading for you and you think that you have got all the time in the world to get out of its way and so you get back to what you were doing and next thing you know: you're bitten! (or rasped, I think).
Glenn
 
Posted by nemo (# 2582) on :
 
I understand that some parts of the Bible are "poetic" or metaphorical or something of the sort at least. But I have a hard time beleiving that God would purposefully say that things were created in an order that they were not created in. I will grant that perhaps an ancient Hebrew would understand something about the verse that I might not, but I honestly find it highly unlikely that God poetically or somehow put the order of creation wrong on purpose. It seems much more logical and likely, to me anyway, that God was probably very poetic about it, but STILL got in in the right order, and that humans mixed it up somewhere along the line.
 
Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
The question of authorial intent is important here (taking God to be the author, for argument's sake). If Gen 1 was intended to give a scientific or chronological account of creation, then it would indeed be odd for God to get the order 'wrong'. But if his intention was something rather different, then the scientific accuracy of the account is less, if at all, relevent.

I would argue that Gen 1 is intended to help us see the pre-fall creation as ordered according to God's sovereignty, with humans as part of creation, but ruling it as God's vice-regents. The fall then substantially messed this up, with the relationships between humans and creation, other humans, and God all marred.

The principle of authorial intent also makes sense, for example, of some of the differences between John and the synoptics. John declares his intent in 20v31 as being to convince his readers who Jesus is. He doesn't claim to be writing biography or history, in the way that Luke does (1v1-4). That's not to say John made stuff up, but that his intent needs to influence the way we interpret what he wrote. This is true of all literature, of course, and not just the Bible.
 


Posted by Hull Hound (# 2140) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by nemo:
To me, it is evidence that when a story gets passed by mouth over time, it gets altered a little bit here and there, even by accident in very small amounts. And no one can deny that if one part of a wholly true story has been altered, then we can call that part a "falsehood" as it relates to what was originally told.

The oral tradition of the very early Church was a chance for some theology to develop too. Sometimes it takes a while for the truth to be discovered and the truth does equally come through he successive interpretations by the community.
 
Posted by Jengie (# 273) on :
 
Author intent sounds easy doesn't it.

However there are at least two ways of reading author intent. They answer the questions

What does the human author intend to communicate?

What might God see as important in this passage?

There are equally two reader intents:

What would the originally intended (by the human author) readers have heard from this passage?

What do we in the light of the full Bible and our understanding of modern society hear from this passage?

When all four agree I am suspicious that we are deluding ourselves.

Jengie
 


Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
 
I think we are getting a bit sidetracked by Genesis 1 but to join in the order is correct
1) Heaven and earth - so matter, a place to stand created first.
Now lets stand on the surface of the place called Earth
2) So it starts as a mass of dust and gas
and on day 2 the dust soilidifies into a ball of rock and the gas forms a thick clould around it. There is some liquid floating on the rock.
3) Then there is primative life on day 3. I suppose to the early Hebrews who had no microscopes to see bateria etc. plants would have been considered primative compared to say a cow.
4) The thick methane (or whatever) cloulds cleared on day 4 and hey the earthbound observer can see the Sun during the day and the Moon and stars at night. He didn't know taht they wee there before because of teh thick clould cover.
5) Next life developed in the sea and on land the flying things - ok not yet birds but even today birds are outnumbered by other flying things - the insects! So day 5 mainly invertebrates with maybe the odd fish.
6) Ah day 6 - invertebrates they come onto land.

Now try putting the above in a languauge that will be understood by a pre-scientific culture.
 


Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
Those are helpful comments. May I comment on your comments?

I wouldn't want to drive a wedge between your first 2 questions. What God intends in a passage may be more than what the human author intended (eg Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53), but the divine intent doesn't contradict the human, rather it supplements or fulfills it. Naturally, it is in the light of Christ that all scriptures take on their fullest meaning.

As for your second 2 questions, they express quite well the important difference between interpretation and application, or between what the bible meant and what it means. Again, the answer to the 2nd question cannot contradict the answer to the 1st. And obviously, what the original readers would have understood from a text should correspond closely to what the original author intended them to understand. Unless you want to go down a reader response road (which I certainly do not).
 


Posted by Jengie (# 273) on :
 
Some after thoughts on earlier post.

None of these questions are necessarily easy to separate from each other

and just to make matters worse I think the last one is covering two different reader interpretations

1) What has this passage been understood to mean historically by the Church?

2) What do I as a twentieth century christian understand by it?

If you want passages where these meanings Kaleidoscope into a complex pattern then look at the suffering servant passages in Isaiah.

Jean
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
According to the Book of Kings, the value of pi is 3. This would seem to be a definite error ...

One might also note that Jesus stated quite clearly that the Second Coming would be in the lifetime of the Disciples. So even Jesus was capable of error. Is this alarming? Not at all! He couldn't be fully human without making a few mistakes.
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Gauk:
Perhaps you'd care to be a little more precise as to approximately where in the Gospels this takes place. Or perhaps which conversation or event it coincides with. Just for the record, Jesus did return during the disciples lifetime, he rose from the dead...
 
Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
You wouldn't criticise a maths book for its theological errors, so I see little point in criticising the bible for its mathematical errors.

Jesus' reference to seeing "the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom" (Matt 16v28) is widely understood to refer to his resurrection appearances (as well as to his 2nd coming). If Jesus could be wrong about something so fundamental, I'd have trouble accepting much of what he said.
 


Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:

One might also note that Jesus stated quite clearly that the Second Coming would be in the lifetime of the Disciples. So even Jesus was capable of error.

I have to dissagree here. He was talking in a metophorical sense about His crucifixtion.
 


Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
Sorry to doyuble post, but this site is really good on supposed "errors" of the Bible.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
One can only identify the Son of Man coming in his kingdom with the brief appearances of Jesus after his resurrection if one is determined to read into the text something that avoids the possibility of Jesus being incorrect. In other words, the approach is: "Here is a difficult text. It must be right somehow. Can we twist the words to avoid the obvious meaning and find a meaning that avoids error?" I prefer to read what things say, without prejudice.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
gkbarnes - that site seems to be composed with a pre-ordained conclusion in mind. Some of the more obvious historical errors are passed over entirely. (Such as the fact that it was never required for anyone to travel to their birthplace to be taxed; this was a plot device to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.)
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

originally posted by gkbarnes:

The Bible is the word of God, and is therefore His word's to us. While I belive that there aresome errors, there is NO THEOLOGICAL error.


Surely you can't be serious?
When, for example, the Israelites entered the promised land, according to the Bible God told them to ethnically cleanse the land! If you are suggesting that this is the nature of God then you must know some other God than the one I know.
 


Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
Post by ekalb moved from the 'Golden thread of Love' to keep all our biblical inerrancy discussions on one thread

quote:
appreciate the replys guys.
Hmmmmmm....looks like I gotta try to defend my way out of this eh?

Firstly, on a very personal note, I want to say that doctrines/beliefs don't just stay in the realm of the cerebral, but they have to be lived out. And I'll admit that my belief in the inherrancy and infallibility of scripture is tough. Questions like, 'what about the apocrypha?' or 'what about genesis 1 in light of evolutionary theory?' are very challenging questions.

But I will say that there are 3 main reasons for not abandoning the belief that the Bible is a whole, perfect, and trustworthy source of God's truth:

1) First, the Bible says that it is the perfect, whole, and trustworthy word of God. While this may sound like circular reasoning, the fact is that if we believe in any part of scripture, then we by very defenition MUST believe in ALL the scripture. (I can hear the objections already ) If Isaiah says that the word of Yhwh will never pass away and we reject that idea, then what gives us the right to accept any part of Isaiah's message??? If Jesus claimed that heaven/earth would pass away before His words would, and we say 'well, some of it is here and maybe some of it is covered over there,' then why can we trust anything that he has to say???

2)Secondly, Jesus' views of the OT scriptures were that of a very 'literalist' and very authoritative interpretation.
Jesus claimed that He was the fullfilment of OT prophecy regarding the messiah (I don't deny that most of the prophecies were somewhat metaphorical). Next, Jesus used the scriptures to 'fight' the temptations of Satan. Jesus defended the doctrine of a 'literal' resurrection of the dead before the 'liberal' saducees from the OT. Jesus often said, "So that all that has been written in the scriptures may be fulfilled......" Again, in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus ends the story by saying that the truth of the OT scriptures 'should' be more convincing proof of God then even a resurrection from the dead. Need I go on?
As a Christian, I cannot deny what my master has believed about the nature of revelation/scripture. To Jesus, the OT was the exclusive truth of God on earth. (apart from His incarnation and general revelation, of course.)

3) Now I feel that I have barely scratched the surface as far as a defense goes (there are much more qualified CHristians who could do a much better job). But I want to end by saying that God can, if He wanted to, protect His scriptures through many centuries. I mean, He is God, right? Also I want to say that I would not even want to be a Christian if the Bible is not the perfect and inspired and kept word of God. Why? Because how would we ever know what parts were what? How can I trust my salvation to a book that might be wrong?
It can seem very "intellectual" and "mature" of us to say that we have to 'wade' through and critically find out what parts are true ot not, but its foolishness. Either God can and has kept HIs promise to maintian His word, or we are playing a guessing game with our souls at stake.
You can do whatever you want, but I can't have peace without first affirming (by faith, as is everything when it comes down to it) that the Bible is God's message that He has kept for us to give us light and a path to follow.
"Let God be True, and every man a liar."
Romans 3:4
thanx for be patient.

--------------------

"'If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?' When you have found the answer, go and do it."
- C.S. Lewis



 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Surely you can't be serious?
When, for example, the Israelites entered the promised land, according to the Bible God told them to ethnically cleanse the land!

No question that this is an error. God would not do such a thing.

But the Bible is also where you discover that God would not do such a thing.

It is no small thing to understand the Bible and how it works. You have to look at it as a whole to understand what is going on in those places where God supposedly directs the Israelites to mass slaughter.

Jesus several times "corrects" or reinterprets Old Testament laws. In one case He says, "Moses gave you this law allowing you to do this thing because of the hardness of your hearts" or words to that effect (Matthew 19). So the place in the Old Testament where Moses gave that law would be wrong as stated, but true as reinterpretted by Jesus.

So I do believe that the Bible is God's Word and therefore inerrant on theological matters - but only when those matters are understood in the light of all biblical teaching. A particular statement taken out of context can be untrue or misleading, but perfectly true when it is properly understood.

But of course who would be so conceited as to think that they had a correct grasp of biblical teaching? It is an area that demands humility and patience, both of which I am often short of...
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Gauk:
quote:
Gauk posted:One can only identify the Son of Man coming in his kingdom with the brief appearances of Jesus after his resurrection if one is determined to read into the text something that avoids the possibility of Jesus being incorrect. In other words, the approach is: "Here is a difficult text...

WHICH TEXT? I'd love to disagree or agree with you, but that does require some specifics... Jesus clearly alluded to his crucifixion and resurrection, but I think you are talking about some more questionable passages. WHICH ONES? a book and chapter, short quote or vague recollection of the circumstances might be helpful...
 
Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
One might also note that Jesus stated quite clearly that the Second Coming would be in the lifetime of the Disciples. So even Jesus was capable of error. Is this alarming? Not at all! He couldn't be fully human without making a few mistakes.

The quote Gauk most likely has in mind is:
Matthew Ch 16 "(27)For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father and then he will repay every man for what he has done. (28) Truly I say to you there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

I find it too much of a stretch to see this as a reference to the resurrection.

In addition, after describing events that are usually understood as the second coming (and he is not referring to the resurrection) Jesus says in Matthew 24:34 "Truly I say to you this generation will not pass away, till all these things take place." The most straightforward meaning here would be that "this generation" is the generation that Jesus is among now. Those who want to avoid Jesus thus being mistaken argue that "this generation" means the generation around at the time these things happen. Again I find this a stretch (and a bit of an odd, almost tautologous, thing to say if thats what he meant).

I think that the doctrine of the bible being inerrant in all that it affirms whether it be geography or history etc. is mistaken and unnecessary. I am short of time at present but I hope to post some reasons soon.

Glenn
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
As you may read from my other posts, I'm not gung-ho on the inerrantly inspired scripture either, but I do believe christ was inerrant. That's a toughy of a passage, possiblyon for Kerygmania. However I will note that Jesus often spoke in such a way as to be misunderstood. Riddles and rhetoric were frequent in his speeches, the disciples frequently misunderstood him, and I'm more inclined to attribute that "error" to -our misunderstanding -poor translation or -faulty gospels than I am willing to sacrifice Jesus' credibility over one word (generation).
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy

So I do believe that the Bible is God's Word and therefore inerrant on theological matters - but only when those matters are understood in the light of all biblical teaching.


So If the israelites theology was wrong when they invaded the promised land, and is corrected by the 'correct' theology of the New testament. Why is it that you can't believe that the writers of the new testament were wrong on, say, the role of women, why can't God's revelation of true theology be an ongoing thing?

The point is that the theology of the bible is inconsistent, a developing theology. It simply doesn't make sense to say it stopped developing in the first century after Christ.
 


Posted by PaulTH (# 320) on :
 
One of the big problems I have with inerrancy is that there's often more than one interpretation possible to certain Bible stories. Add to this that there are contradictory teachings and what you have is the paradoxical nature of Jesus and His message. For example in Matt 5.48 He says, "Be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect." Yet in Matt 19.26 he says that man is totaly incapable of saving himself so God has to do it for us. He speaks of eternal punishment, but also speaks of God's unfailing mercy. In John 12 He says He will draw ALL MEN to Himself when lifted up on the cross.

The fact is that it is absurd to talk of the plain meaning of scripture, it is full of paradox and eternal truths hidden behind powerful imagery. I believe in the integrity of its message, which tells us how we can go from slavery to this world and our attachments to it, to freedom in the Promised Land of God's Kingdom, but that doesn't have to mean its all pure history. The apostle John, for example, who survived to old age and was the only gospel writer to be an eye witness to the life of Jesus, wrote his gospel 50-60 years after the events, when he'd had a lifetime to meditate on the significence of Christ's words and deeds, so while I respect the integrity of his narrative, I believe many of the theological discourses given by Jesus are the results of John's meditations rather than Jesus actual words. If we are to believe the synoptic descriptions of the disciples, they wouldn't have understood a word of it during Jesus ministry.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
Bonzo,

I think that the issue being raised about God commanding the Israelites to 'cleanse' specific people groups is tough, but if an argument is trying to be made in favor of 'errancy' (for lack of a better term), then I suggest that this wouldn't be a strong way to go about it.

Even if we establish that the text really is saying that GOd wanted the Jews to kill a bunch of people it doesn't mean that scripture is flawed or errant. Such an argument is 'non sequitur' (it doesn't follow).

There may be many reasons why God would want a people group killed by the Jews. This isn't really about justifying God's apparantly 'immoral' behaviours in the Bible, but I might suggest that.......
1) He is God. He creates and He is allowed to kill at anytime. We are the clay, and He is the potter
2)We all see through 'glass darklings' this side of heaven.
3)We might be misinterpreting or confusing the text apart from the context of the OT narratives and redemption history as a whole.

So as you can see, there are good explanations out there that keep the integrity of the Bible and its' inerrancy in tact.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

There may be many reasons why God would want a people group killed by the Jews. This isn't really about justifying God's apparantly 'immoral' behaviours in the Bible, but I might suggest that.......
1) He is God. He creates and He is allowed to kill at anytime. We are the clay, and He is the potter
2)We all see through 'glass darklings' this side of heaven.
3)We might be misinterpreting or confusing the text apart from the context of the OT narratives and redemption history as a whole.

So as you can see, there are good explanations out there that keep the integrity of the Bible and its' inerrancy in tact.


That's rubbish isn't it?

1. How does the theology of 'go and slaughter your neighbour' fit with 'Love your enemies'? Your first point makes God out to be a vengeful monster who kills when he pleases and instructs humans to do his dirty work for him.

2. Your second point says that whatever the Bible says about God, we must accept it because if it appears wrong it's because we don't understand it properly! That's trying to prove it's inerrant by starting from the premise that it's inerrant.

3. ditto. except that you mention 'redemption history as a whole'. This might imply that you believe in a gradual revelation of God's nature - which is my point entirely and it's illogical to assume that the revelation should stop at the end of the first century AD.

So as you can see, you have provided no good explanations that keep the integrity of the Bible and its' inerrancy intact.

Who wrote the Bible? - fallible men.
Who decided which books went into the Bible? - fallible men.
 


Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
If we accept that God's nature and character are fully revealed in the person of Jesus, then it's not illogical to assume that God's self revelation ended when the witnesses Christ appointed had finished their work. Except of course that he continues to reveal himself by his spirit through the living word of their testimony in scripture.

It's a very limited view of God's sovereignty that doesn't allow him to work his will through human beings. It's effectively saying 'God can't do that', which is always a dangerous thing to say. The question isn't 'can he?' but 'has he?'. To which the church through history has always answered 'yes'. As you say, it is often our presuppositions that shape how we read scripture.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Glenn is quite correct about the texts I had in mind.

Another thing to bear in mind is the process by which we received the Bible. It was not written all of a piece. Most of it was composed long after the events described. Its chaotic nature is consistent with what we know historically about how it came to be written: a process of accretion from different fragments of source materials.

If you believe that the whole thing was dictated by God word for word, then you have to believe that God works in very mysterious ways indeed and has distorted His own message in very strange ways.

The argument that the Bible must be the word of God because it says it is has another problem besides circular reasoning. If you reason thus, then you must be consistent. If the Koran says that it is the word of God, then it must be also, because the same argument applies.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

If we accept that God's nature and character are fully revealed in the person of Jesus, then it's not illogical to assume that God's self revelation ended when the witnesses Christ appointed had finished their work.

A large part of the New Testament is written by Paul who was, we are told, converted on the road to Damascus and not appointed by Jesus during His lifetime. It certainly is illogical to assume that God's revelation ended when the witnesses Christ appointed had fisnished their work. There is simply no basis for this assumption.
 


Posted by andras (# 2065) on :
 
quote:
If we accept that God's nature and character are fully revealed in the person of Jesus, then it's not illogical to assume that God's self revelation ended when the witnesses Christ appointed had finished their work. Except of course that he continues to reveal himself by his spirit through the living word of their testimony in scripture.

A common but ultimately unscriptural view - for Jesus assures his disciples that the Holy Spirit will will reveal things in the future which they are not yet ready to hear or understand.

Thus the idea of continuing revelation is scriptural; or, as a friend of mine once put it, The Bible is paramount; and the Bible tells us that the Church is paramount.

John
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
So If the israelites theology was wrong when they invaded the promised land, and is corrected by the 'correct' theology of the New testament. Why is it that you can't believe that the writers of the new testament were wrong on, say, the role of women, why can't God's revelation of true theology be an ongoing thing?

The point is that individual statements in the Bible need to be tested against the combined testimony of the Bible as a whole. I agree that this applies to New Testament writers as well as Old Testament ones.

You need to have a very good understanding of the whole of Scripture in order understand any one part of it. Despite its chaotic history it is an incredibly unified work, both as to message and imagery. Inconsistent elements can be isolated and explained by comparison with the rest.

And I agree that Paul was simply wrong when he spoke about the role of women. I don't think his statements are consistent with the rest of Scripture, but I don't have time to list the reasons now.

quote:
Gauk writes:
The argument that the Bible must be the word of God because it says it is has another problem besides circular reasoning. If you reason thus, then you must be consistent. If the Koran says that it is the word of God, then it must be also, because the same argument applies.

This is right. Lots of people claim to be inspired by God, but aren't. The claim is meaningless by itself.

However, if the claim is true it is more than a little significant. This, of course, was Jesus' claim, and the stated reason for His subsequent crucifixion.

A claim of this nature has a watershed effect. If it is accepted, it has the effect of magnifying the significance of the information. If it is rejected, it is difficult for people even to take seriously even the good ideas in the information.

Christianity has traditionally accepted the claims of divine authorship. I guess that one way of looking at it nowadays is neither to accept or reject the claims, but to see them as a common feature of ancient writing.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

The point is that individual statements in the Bible need to be tested against the combined testimony of the Bible as a whole.

Yes, but most importantly, against your own concience.
 


Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
Looks like I started something here.

quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
it was never required for anyone to travel to their birthplace to be taxed; this was a plot device to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.

In the book of Daniel, Baltezer (spealing?) is mentioned as King of Babylonia. For years no-one could find any histiorical records for him, so it was presumed the book of Daniel was just a myth. Then archeologists found something that proved beyond doubt that Baltezar existed. The point is that we will find something that proves the Gospel of Luke, and we will all go "of course."

quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Surely you can't be serious?
When, for example, the Israelites entered the promised land, according to the Bible God told them to ethnically cleanse the land! If you are suggesting that this is the nature of God then you must know some other God than the one I know.

I agree that it seems very shoking to our eyes to read it. Remember, God is right. I apologise in advance for the anger that this will cause, but please let me try to explain. Physical death is never the same as eternal death (this is sounding really evil, and I apologise. It ism't meant to). What I am trying to say is that this was God's just punishment on a people who He had given ample chances to repent. Remember Jonah? I belive God would have destroyed Ninevah, if they hadn't repented.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Oh yes, Jonah and the big fish... right!
 
Posted by Steve G (# 65) on :
 
To back track slightly...

Jesus words to the 12 in John 16 that "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the spirit, comes he will guide you into all truth" are widely understood as being fulfilled in the writing of the New Testament. Jesus was granting his Apostles (including Paul) unique status as his witnesses and the founders of the church. This would seem to point to an end to the era of special revelation. This is why the later NT books place such an emphasis on recalling what has been taught and passing it on to the next generation.
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Frankly I think that the very fact that myth of inerrant scriptures has survived for so long is because there is an element of truth to it. I in no way support 100% inspiration. But there has been, over the years, more and more facts in OT and NT accounts that have been found to be historically accurate. Which would mean that these books were written, or at least the oral history started from a date much closer to the events than was previously believed.
These are not myths or fairy-tales. Neither are they necessarily flawless historical accounts. But lets not trivialize the Bible out of antagonism or reactonary or revisionist thinking. The fact is it is by FAR the most historically accurate text of all the world religions. We aren't just dealing with "another set of myths"
 
Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
 
Most of the great characters of the Bible are scumbags - murderers, liars, adulterers etc. What the Bible teaches consistantly is that God can work with such people, even genocidal Hebrews. I think that the bible is inerrant in saying that God can use such people to His glory, even if they are errant in their life.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Steve G

Jesus words to the 12 in John 16 that "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the spirit, comes he will guide you into all truth" are widely understood as being fulfilled in the writing of the New Testament.


No, Jesus words here imply that the Spirit in all our lives will guide us, through our deepening knowledge of God. There is no evidence to suggest that he was talking about the New Testament being written this is just your interpretation and has no logical foundation. Remember that each book of the Bible was written as a discreet book, The canon was compiled by men who disagreed even up to today! Texts were excluded or included on the basis of an emerging theology.

As for being 'widely understood', it might be widely understood by those who already believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but I doubt that most theologians would go along with that.

quote:

Originally posted by Atticus

The fact is it is by FAR the most historically accurate text of all the world religions. We aren't just dealing with "another set of myths"


Are you familliar with the texts of every world religion?
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
gkbarnes writes
quote:
In the book of Daniel, Baltezer (spealing?) is mentioned as King of Babylonia. For years no-one could find any histiorical records for him, so it was presumed the book of Daniel was just a myth. Then archeologists found something that proved beyond doubt that Baltezar existed. The point is that we will find something that proves the Gospel of Luke, and we will all go "of course."

This is very curious logic. Because something in the Bible turns out to be historically correct, therefore everything in the Bible is historically correct.

The point is not that we might find something that proves the Gospel of Luke, but that we already have plenty that disproves it; or at least, disproves the nativity story, which is evidently a bit of retroactive prophecy fulfillment.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
While I'm here, I might note in passing that my dictionary gives:

Inerrable - incapable of erring.
Inerrant - unerring.
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Bonzo, I should have quoted that, but I can't remember fully which author it came from. I have a friend who lived in a Morocco and I became acquainted with the Koran through him. Second hand knowledge only, but enough to convince me that the Bible is a VERY accurate book. Both compared to the apocryphal books that aren't included and compared to the Koran and the Vedas(although a hindu wouldn't necessarily claim these to be factual either)
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
This is very curious logic. Because something in the Bible turns out to be historically correct, therefore everything in the Bible is historically correct.

I don't think this was the point at all. The point is that some things that we currently think are incorrect may turn out to be historically acurate. So we should be careful about labeling questionable Bible history as wrong.

quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
The point is not that we might find something that proves the Gospel of Luke, but that we already have plenty that disproves it; or at least, disproves the nativity story, which is evidently a bit of retroactive prophecy fulfillment.

Most of the nativity story could never be either proven or disproven. The fact that it is currently thought that people were never required to return to their city of birth for a census does not necessarily mean that it was only a plot device intentioally invented by Luke. Further research may shed light on what Luke meant.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
A book I would strongly recommend is "Models for Scripture" by John Goldingay (1987: Paternoster Press). In a section on Scripture as Inspired Word he address the problems associated with inerrancy, and concludes by saying
quote:
The people of God need to be encouraged and helped to take the whole of scripture seriously, but they are more likely to make that commitment by being helped to hear scripture speak and to meet Christ through scripture than through being provided with solutions of ever-decreasing plausibility to an ever-increasing range of problems of ever-increasing triviality.

Alan
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

So the arguments don't work, eh?
Well, I think they stand up rather well if you will take a closer look:

1) You wrongfully imply that just because God would command the Jews to slaughter a people group that it automatically makes God a 'monster'. (Nice choice of words by the way. An easy way to dodge an argument is to throw in some emotionally-charged words like 'monster' or 'vengful' and misdirect the real issue.)
It is perfectly logical and justifyied to believe that God can kill humans at anytime solely because He is God. (I'm not saying GOd 'normatively' does this. He is love and He wishes to redeem rather than scrap us, but He is allowed to take away our life at anytime.) Try reading Job: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job recognized that, though we have genuine freedom, God is our maker and He has the final say.
By the way, can you prove that killing, in and of itself, is evil? It is the intent in the heart that turns 'killing' into 'murder'.

2) Far from making God evil, the text in question must be seen in God's story of redemption as a whole. In other words, God's morality and holiness don't change, but how He acts with 'changing' humans does change.

3) lastly, circular reasoning may be useless when trying to establish a fact, but it doesn't reveal whether a fact is false, know what I mean? It is circular reasoning to say that that the BIble is God's word because the Bible says so, BUT that does not mean that it isn't true.
I would not dare to be so arrogant to say that I know soooooo much that what I "perceive" to be contradictions or problems in the scriptures are indications of it's 'errancy'. COuld I be wrong? Absolutelty!

please respond.....
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Freddy's approach strikes me as special pleading.

His argument seems to me to be saying, "OK, at present X is contradicted by all other evidence. But who knows, maybe something else will turn up?"

Maybe a new moon landing will prove that the moon is made of cheese after all. Then again,
maybe it won't.

Intellectual honesty requires a fair assessment of all the evidence. Not this "I WANT the Bible to be true so I won't hear a word against it ever" approach.
 


Posted by Cusanus (# 692) on :
 
A few observations about the Bible and historicity:

1) Recent archaeological work in the Holy Land seems to be producing findings which contradict a lot of the OT picture of ancient Israel. So, while the Daniel example mentioned above may be true, the weight of current research is actually going very strongly the other way.

2) The issue with the Lukan nativity is twofold: it contradicts pretty clearly understood fact about the Roman Empire AND it contradicts the Matthaean account. If one is to argue inerrancy (rather than truth, which I'm quite prepared to acknowledge) then the intellectual gymnastics necessary to reconcile the two passages are too extreme for me to accept.

3) If God can command the Israelites to commit genocide then he isn't worth worshipping. If you could deomstrate the inerrancy of this passage, then I would gladly go to hell, rather than be in heaven with such a deity.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by ekalb
please respond.....

Doesn't seem much point in me responding. If you believe in a God that will go and tell humans to slaughter other humans, and you believe there is no difference between that God and the God who wants you to love your enemies, who forgave his crucifiers, then there's nothing I can say to persuade you. I'll just get accused of using emotive adjectives again!

The posts are there, others can make up their own mind.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Sorry Cusanus I disgree


1) Recent archeological findings have proved much of the OT like the existance of The Hittites, all the geographical place of Sodom & Gomorrah (sp)also William F Albright (famous archeologist)said "there can be no doubt that archeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the OT.

2) Like where? Just because one account says something that isn't mentioned in another doesn't make it contradictory.

The Gospels are written from different perspectives and just because one Gospel writes about one angle doesn't mean teh other angel is wrong.

EG If I was watching a parade where the Queen and Prince Phillip were at with a friend a and I go home and report this to my wife but my friends goes home and says that he saw the Queen which one of us are wrong.

Same principle as interpreting scripture.

3)Actually you ought to check why God gave such extreme instructions as both the Philistines and Cananites were corrupt people and wanted to wipe the Israelites out and they were both given warning to change their ways and turn to God in fact the Cananites had 400 years of warning.

There seems to be a lack of consistancy when interpreting scripture and otehr historical writings. We need to apply the same rules for everything. The is "innocent until proven guilty".

Also just because the Bible gives an account what happens doesn't mean that God approved of it.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Also just because the Bible gives an account what happens doesn't mean that God approved of it.

Polly,

I think you'll find, if you read Joshua, that the Bible says God told them to do it.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo

Not disagreeing with you on the fact that this is what happened.

However the starting point is that God is a Holy Sovereign God and he hates sin. He giveth and he can taketh away.

The land given to the Israelites was occupied by a people that had otehr God's, were sexually immoral and practcised sorcery andchild sacrifice. They also were given chances to turn from their ways ( same as Jonah and Nivenah but this shows when a people are challenged by God and tey repent his mercy takes place)but didn't.

It does help to try to understand the contect of something before making judgement on it!
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
I've heard of what I consider to be a very valid "one-step up" theory. Meaning God's morality isn't set in stone, or rather, God's is, but since we screw it up anyways, sometimes he uses our lack of perfection to meet other necessities
In other words, It is wrong to have sex with your sister. But then the sons of Adam didn't have much choice(this only applies to Genesis thumping literalists); it is wrong to murder, but in those days if you didn't hit first you'd be slaughtered withing the decade. In reality the Israelites where quite kind to their neighbors, at least, compared to the war practices of the times. While they indulged in genocide of the defeated, other nations were raping and torturing the defeated. While they were shaving slaves heads and putting them to work in the fields, other nations were herding them like cattle and using them to build monuments to their own vanity.
If we step away from our own limited point of view we see that in actuality God's commandements for his people(inspired or not) are far more liberal and kind-hearted than any of their contemporaries practices.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Polly,

According to the Bible God told the Israelites to go and kill the people in palestine. Is this what you believe God actually did?
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo

I have no doubt this is what was commanded.

Have a question for you.

Do you beleive that God is Holy and Sovereign and that He hates sin and that it is God's place to pass judgement?

Remember: The wages of Sin is death (Romans)
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Polly

If that's what you believe and you can't see any conflict of nature with the God of the New Testament, I think it's unlikely that I will convince you otherwise.

On the point of context. The context is that the children of Israel were being led into battle by their leadership to take over a land occupied by another people. In any war situation the leaders usually justify their actions by saying 'God is on our side'. Unlike you, I don't believe that God ever tells one nation to wipe out another, in fact I believe he tells men to do the opposite, to love them, and forgive seventy times seven whatever they have done.

quote:

You asked,

Do you beleive that God is Holy and Sovereign and that He hates sin and that it is God's place to pass judgement?


Yes I do, but I do not believe that God strives to rid the world of an entire people when he disapproves of the actions of some of them. That's ethnic cleansing, not love.

Whatever judgement God may pass upon us when we die, He certainly does not urge his followers to carry out the sentence.

If you believe that he does, then I think that's a shame.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo

The point is that there is NO diference between the God of teh OT & NT.

God is Love.

His grace endures in the OT.

EG David and Bathsheeba, Jonah and the Ninehvites to say but a few.

Is it you can't believe or you won't believe just because you don't understand?


Sometimes Bible translations don't help but you are coming from a Humanistic view.

If you have a bit of time try reading a book by Lee Strobel called " A case for faith"

He is a journalist with a Law degree who started off trying to disproove the Christian faith but spent ages examining stuff liek what we are discussing and then became a Christian.

He interviewed numerous "experts" on loads of issues including the one you raised.

Sorry for the "heated" responses but you have interpreted scripture to your point of view and haven't given any aspect of historical/archeoligical evidence to support your view and I get annoyed when non-christians do this and also if I did what you did with somethign other than teh Bible then I would get shouted down.

Scripture calls it "giving reason for your faith" - support your opinion with facts not just because you feel a certain way or read something another way.

When you provide me with "proper" facts (eg look into the situation and put it into context) then you may have some weight behind your arguement.


 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Polly,

I'm not sure what facts you mean, I've provided you with an example from the old testament in Joshua.

You say yourself that you believe that God did tell the Israelites to kill the people living if the land of Palestine, because it says so in the Bible.

I have pointed out that what the Iraelites did amounted to ethnic cleansing.

I have clearly shown the incompatibility of a God who instigates such horrors with the God of love and forgiveness found in Jesus' teachings.

Since we agree that God is consistent, I have therefore made it clear that the OT erroneously attributes the acts of the israelites to God's will.

Your reply just re-states that you believe that there is no difference between the God of the OT and the NT. You haven't offered any explanation of the apparent contradiction which I have plainly pointed out to you.

I have put the recorded acts of the Israelites in the context of the book of Joshua, that of a historical account of invading army justifying it's acts by saying that God is on it's side.

But you haven't replied with any evidence to contradict what I'm saying. You haven't supported your opinion with any facts at all.

Instead, your last post accuses me of not supporting my argument with facts or context. You point me to a book written by a man who tried to disprove the Christian faith, as if that is what I'm trying to do! You then accuse me of not providing historical or achaeolgical evidence to support my argument, as if I was saying that the killings written about in Joshua didn't happen, when we both agree they did!

May I suggest that it is you who has little weight behind your argument.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
I notice a strong convergence between this thread and the "Is God good?" thread which is running concurrently.

In particular arguments along the lines of:

1) The Bible seems to describe God acting immorally;
2) Therefore either God is immoral or the Bible is wrong.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
I agree. And it is a conundrum that I don't believe is that difficult to resolve.

The resolution, I believe, is that in the Bible many things are explained and described the way that you would describe things to a child. It is full of appearances that are not literally accurate, even though they contain truth within them.

So I believe that God did not really tell the Israelites to ethnically cleanse the land. Rather, this is what they were inclined to do, and God used their inclinations as part of the writing of the Bible.

So I think that God is good, and that the Bible is true - but only when you understand how it works.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

So I believe that God did not really tell the Israelites to ethnically cleanse the land. Rather, this is what they were inclined to do, and God used their inclinations as part of the writing of the Bible.

So the Bible is wrong when it says that God told them to do it?
 


Posted by John Holding (# 158) on :
 
And in fact they didn't do it. It is perfectly clear from Judges, Kings and Chronicles that Joshua and his people left large numbers of the original inhabitants people alive -- their descendants are alive to this day...where do you think the Palestinians came from? They are certainly not pute Arabs.

Why is it so important for God to have ordered genocide -- surely it is more typical of what we know of God from both Old and New Testaments to believe that human beings screwed it up again, especially when the books describing the events in question were first written hundreds of years after the events they claim to describe.

And, for what it's worth, Jonah is not history -- it is easily provable from internal evidence that it was written many centuries after Ninevah had been reduced to aheap of rubble. In the Jewish tradition it has never been described as, or treated as, or interpreted as the description of something that actually happened -- it is a parable.

John Holding
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,
I've been reading the 'back and forth' between you and polly.

I agree with most of what polly has said, and without offense I believe that you really havent 'grasped' the point.

You are sticking to "the god of the NT (love your neighbour...) versus the god of OT (kill everyone....)

As is rightly pointed out by Polly, God's grace is seen throughout the OT and His vengence over sin is seen throughout the NT.

But the real point is this: He is G-O-D. You cannot liken HIm to yourself and how 'you' would deal with the Pagan cultures in Canaan. The fact is, like I have already said twice, God is 'fully' justified in killing all of humanity whenever He chooses to. The amazing part is, even though we've rebelled against HIm, He chooses to be merciful.

For example, if 'Bob' owed you 10 dollars, you are completely 'justified' when you demand that 10 dollars back. But if you choose to be merciful and 'forgive' Bob's debt to you, then you are also justified in doing so.

See the difference?
GOd is not being unfair if and when He chooses to punish us (with death)for the sins we have willingly committed.

What does this all mean? -- That this text cannot "prove" that the scriptures are "errant".

Bottom line: You're views are wrong! Stop superimposing youre standards and 'postmodern' ethics onto God. He is wholly 'other' than us.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ekalb:
bonzo,
... Stop superimposing youre standards and 'postmodern' ethics onto God. He is wholly 'other' than us.

Bonzo,
If your 'postmodern' ethics mean that you are opposed to genocide then I would encourage you to stick with them!
Glenn
 


Posted by nicolemrw (# 28) on :
 
quote:
Bonzo,
If your 'postmodern' ethics mean that you are opposed to genocide then I would encourage you to stick
with them!
Glenn

amen!
 


Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
Polly,

William F Albright has been dead for 30 odd years and the quote dates from 1963. He did much of his work in the 1930s. This isn't exactly cutting edge research you're quoting here.

Albright is a maximalist in terms of Biblical archaeology (someone who thinks most of OT history can be verified archaeologically) and an outdated maximalist scholar at that.

The new work which was being referred to earlier in the thread has all been done since the 1970s - after Albright's death and has tended to a more minimalist position - ie. what has been found has tended on the whole not to support reading the Old Testament as a reliable guide to the archaeology.

There are of course areas of debate over this but no university archaology course would seriously cite Albright as an up to date authority on this without severe reservations as to the extent to which his approach has been revised and found wanting.


It looks to me like you're parroting Strobel again (as you've done previously over 'more and more' scientists allegedly supporting creationism) without showing much sign of having checked any of this out for yourself. It's starting to get a bit tedious.

Louise
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

originally posted by ekalb

Bottom line: You're views are wrong! Stop superimposing youre standards and 'postmodern' ethics onto God. He is wholly 'other' than us.


You have presented no evidence to contradict the argument, you believe that God is justified and capable of genocide and see no contradiction with the view of a loving forgiving God portrayed in the NT.

I haven't missed the point. You have your mind closed.

There are many other examples of the picture of God portrayed by the OT being different from the picture of God portrayed by Jesus. But I'll use the two stories Polly used to futher illuustrate my point (as if any futher illustration was needed).

quote:

Originally posted by polly

His grace endures in the OT.

EG David and Bathsheeba, Jonah and the Ninehvites to say but a few.


David and Bathsheba. God kills a child because of David's sin.

Jonah. God threatens the prophet Jonah (and also an entire ships crew) with death unless Jonah does what God tells him to.

The OT is riddled with it! No matter how much you say 'God is God and he is justified'. You can't keep saying that the OT understanding of God are similar to Jesus'.

No scratch that - you probably will keep saying it, even though you must know by now that you haven't got a leg to stand on.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
So the Bible is wrong when it says that God told them to do it?

It is wrong in the same sense that a mother parent is wrong when she tells little Johnny that "God won't be very happy with you if you hit your sister." The truth is that God loves Johnny whether he hits his sister or not.

Personally, I don't doubt the facts of the stories of the Old Testament. What I do doubt is that it was God Himself who told Joshua and Moses to do all that killing.

God Himself appears only in an accommodated form to people. No one can or ever could communicate directly with the God of the universe - because He is beyond all human perception. But God has always had intermediate means to communicate. In the Old Testament this was often by means of what was called "the Angel of the Lord."

With ancient peoples the divine form was often very highly accommodated to their nature. Not everything that proceeded from these angels was totally literally in accord with what we would consider to be divine. Nevertheless, it always contained divine truths within.

As a side note, the basic pattern of Joshua's conquest, as presented in the book of Joshua, was that the Israelites entered the land and were attacked by the inhabitants. The Israelites only defended themselves! Well, not quite...

Initially, Joshua attacked Jericho, in a miraculous way. Then he attcked Ai, and was defeated at first before succeeding. After that the Gibeonites made a treaty with them, by deception. Then all the kings of the south attacked, followed by all the kings of the north. The book makes it sound as if the inhabitants of the land started the whole thing, as was the case with Sihon and Og of the Amorites on the other side of the Jordan.

This is not to defend the Israelites. It is more than obvious from the Old Testament record that they were not only "stiff-necked" and rebellious, but they had extremely few redeeming qualities.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the book written through them and about them contains all wisdom. It's a miracle.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

This is truly getting tiresome.
I won't "attack" you're person, but your "views" are extremely narrowminded.

You are drawing a direct comparison between the immorality of humans killing one another because of hatred (i.e. genocide) and between God 'judging' a people-group because of their sin (i.e. justice). The comparison is faulted and dishonors God, who is perfectly loving and moral.

Your "views" fail to accept the fact that they are judging God in light of their own standards.

While I agree that a God who would commit "genocide" is not worthy to be worshipped, the text doesn't say that He committed "genocide". Rather, God chose to "punish" those people for their sins.
The difference is HUGE!

Genocide is sin. Divinely sentencing a people-group to death because of their sins is not.

I don't understand why your "views" cannot see this. God said, "don't lie, cheat, lust, etc. etc. Or else you are subject to divine punishment" But, you know what? I've disobeyed that command directly, and so has everyone else. God can enact His divine punishment on me at any time.

I will add that I am covered by Christ's blood and therefore I am justified in Christ so that I don't have to answer for my sins in that sense.
But if GOd decides to kill (yes, kill) an unrepentant sinner at any time,He is NOT WRONG for doing so. - We are the ones who have sinned, get it?

As I also said before, the amazing thing and the only hope we have, is that GOd Chooses to find another way. He did it by punishing Christ in our behalf.

People cannot, in my opinion, truly accept Christ, until they realize the very real "problem" they have.-SIN! If you don't think that we need saving from our sin then why would anyone follow Christ. I follow Him because I know that I can't make it on my own. I need help. And Christ stands their knocking at the doors of our heart offering us what we can in no way earn.......Grace, right-standing with our Maker, and love.

These truths have literally changed my life.

PS- since it is a thread about inerrancy, I will add that this defense of God's actions in the text is used to show that this text of God's "apparant" immorality can't be used to prove the 'errancy' of scripture.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Your "views" fail to accept the fact that they are judging God in light of their own standards.

My views are not attributing any genocide to God and therfore cannot be judging God. My views attribute the genocide to men.

As you well know!

You are attempting to slur my argument because you have lost your own.

Joshua is a historical account and is supported to some extent by historical, and archaeological eveidence. The genocide written about in Joshua is most probably historical fact, what is in dispute here is that God instigated it.

Your views attribute that genocide to God and say that he was justified in doing it, which is disgraceful.

Your argument grows in absurdity when the only thing it has to explain why the portrayal of God by Jesus, differs so dramatically from the portrayal of God in the OT, is that God must have changed his attitude, that he's perfectly entitled to do so and we can't hope to understand him.

Using that argument, and your closed minded refusal to use any logical reasoning, I could argue that Winnie the Pooh is the innerrant word of God.

You are starting from the premise that the Bible is inerrant - a claim made by men not God. You are refusing to use any logical reasoning to justify that position.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
On this subject Polly said earlier that:
quote:

The land given to the Israelites was occupied by a people that had otehr God's, were sexually immoral and practcised sorcery and child sacrifice.

So, in order to punish child sacrifice and make sure Isreal did not follow that example, God commands Israel to kill all the Canaanite children. This is extremely odd!

And if God was killing them only to take them to heaven, why doesn't it say so?

We must surely

be deeply suspicious of claims by anyone that God has commanded them to put someone to death.

The inerrantist approach to scripture is motivated by the idea that if the bible is Gods word then it must be perfect. But it can still be a means of revelation to us without being perfect. There are, arguably, good reasons why God would not want it to be perfect. One reason is that if it was perfect then then people would be inclined to obey and believe what it says thoughtlessly, without grappling with it and arguing with it. Blind obedience and belief('I was only obeying orders, only doing what i was told to by God') lead to immature not whole people with a developed moral sense - 'the letter kills' says Paul. Is it not an offence to non-Christians that so many Christians appear to be able to accept the clearnce of Canaan with such ease?

The doctrine of inerrancy is useless anyway. Even if the text is inerrant it still leaves open the crucial question of how we interpret it and Christian history demonstrates how diverse such interpretations can be.

But it is often useless to argue the issue with inerrantists since they have so many ways of explaining why apparent errors are not errors. Where parallel accounts of the same incident occur such as in the Gospels and in Chronicles compared with Kings errors seemingly must exist because the accounts differ. But few statements in the Bible are precise enough to be beyond ingenious harmonisation with other passages. Where we have precision such as the numbers of horses, infantry etc that differ so markedly between Kings and Chronicles they just argue that there was an error in copying the original manuscript. Other ways around problems include arguments that rely on 'God can do anything' and 'God can have reasons for his actions that are inexplicable ('My ways are not your ways' etc.)' If none of these work then just argue that the original manuscript (which we no longer have) must not have been in error.

What does this all prove? Simply that there is no error in the bible that is beyond the ingenuity of some Christian somewhere to explain away, however improbable the explanation may be.

But I can't resist throwing in a couple of examples anyway:

Glenn
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Well said Glenn.

Polly, ekalb please note.

What Glenn has just posted is a reasoned argument. It's what you need to do if you are going to persuade anyone to accept your way of thinking.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
And let us get another thing clear, not everyone argues these issues from entrenched assumptions. Sure, there are those who argue FOR inerrancy from a position where they just assume inerrancy is true and use whatever arguments they can muster to support that view. There are those who don't want the bible to be inerrant and use whatever arguments they can muster to support that view (you can sometimes spot these by their sloppy arguments).

But there are those who want to know the truth about the issue and want to know it even if it is uncomfortable. Is the Bible without error or not? They look at the Bible and what it is like, they consider it and their understanding of God, they consider the writings and arguments of others, they consider the moral and theological implications of inerrancy and non-inerrancy, their effects on how the bible should be interpreted etc. All of these are interelated and influence one another. And they try to decide what is the best explanation for the presence of apparent errors in the Bible.

Overall my view is that the best and most straightforward conclusion is that the bible is not inerrant. Others disagree.
Glenn
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Oldham:
The inerrantist approach to scripture is motivated by the idea that if the bible is Gods word then it must be perfect. But it can still be a means of revelation to us without being perfect.

The Bible can also be God's Word and perfect without necessarily being literally accurate. The fundamental point is that it is a book filled with spiritual information. It is not a history or science manual.

I am in complete agreement with Glenn and Bonzo over the bedrock idea that God does not condone, much less command, genocide. The justification that the Canaanites deserved it works fine with children and uneducated people. But it is simply not consistent with the overall view of God that Scripture teaches.

There has to be a better explanation.

The explanation that works for me is that this was an evil time in the history of the human race - the time just before the Advent. Despite the unhappy and violent nature of human interactions, God was able to use the budding technology of the time to set down a narrative that could prepare the people in Palestine for His coming. The narrative was so highly symbolic, and so cleverly written, that it both appealed to the people's national pride, and contained deep ideas within it. The violence and cruelty of the history is transformed into an account of how God drives evil out of our spiritual lives.

My fear is that people who recognize the literal inaccuracy of many parts of the Bible go on to throw out the baby with the bathwater and do not consider it a reliable source of spiritual truth.

So I agree that it is dangerous to appeal to an idea of Divine Justice to justify genocide. But I think that if people are willing to understand the Bible and recognize the nature of its wisdom, they will see it as a Divine book, which is spiritually perfect even if not always literally accurate.
 


Posted by Yaffle (# 525) on :
 
It is probably worth mentioning the following with regards to the proposition that the Bible is (or is not) inerrant.

Firstly the textual question. Which books constitute the Bible? The Ethiopian Coptic Church doesn't include Revelation (nor did the rest of us very nearly), the Roman Catholics include the Apocrypha, the Reformed Churches don't. Then of course there are those passages which were incorporated into the KJV but which modern scholars tend to leave out (Mark 16:9-20 and the passage in 1 John 7 which mentions the Holy Trinity). If you check the footnotes of any modern Bible on virtually every page you will find a comment to the effect that "other ancient authorities ..." This is because we have a variety of manuscripts of the various books of the Bible and not all of them agree. It seems to me a little pointless arguing about whether a book is inerrant when there is no settled consensus as to what it's contents are.

The second, more fundamental, objection to inerrancy is the cognitive question. Words are symbols. Human language is not an exact tool. There is no one on one correspondence between signifiers (words) and what is signified (things, concepts). To take an obvious example, if I use the word "table" it will depend on the context as to whether I am refering to a big wooden thing that I put my plate on when I am eating dinner or an arrangement of numbers in a report which was put together using an Excel Spreadsheet. If a word as basic as "table" contains this degree of ambiguity, what can we expect from terms like "God", "eternal life", "sin" and so on. The matter is further complicated by the fact that those who used the terms are separated from us by culture and by a period of millenia.

Which is not to say that God does not speak to us through the Bible, merely to say that human language remains human language even when it is used by God.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
Bonzo,

Firstly, I will admit that I have not presented my case as well as I should. For that, you have my apologies.

But did You EVEN READ my last post?

You said, in your 'response', that I attributed the genocide to God. Hello? My entire post was about how God DIDN'T commit genocide.

I didn't shift the argument, I have said/am saying that genocide is something men do to one another out of hatred.

In CONTRAST, God may kill a group of people for their sins (not out of hatred, envy, etc.) and be justified for doing so.

Every one of your responses have been nothing more than MIS-interpretations of my argument and refutations of those misinterpretations. In other words, stop making "Straw Men" arguments.

Have you tried refuting my analogies (which I have made)?

I have drawn out (twice now) the "qualitative" difference between 'divine punishment' and 'genocide'. Please READ them at least once before trying to refute them (it Helps!).

In response to your last post I have two things to say:

1) Yes, I am starting from an intrinsic belief in the Bible as God's perfect word. So what? can you prove that this belief hinders my ability to make arguments. You are also starting your arguments from intrinsic beliefs too. (You appear to believe in the transcendant value of logic and reason for one.) I'm not saying that your beliefs are wrong, but merely saying that we are "enclosed unto faith". It's an old saying that means that humans are, by nature, 'faith-beings': We 'believe' in our existence, we 'believe' in the existence of other minds, we 'believe' in the value and validity of empirically-derived truth claims, etc. etc. So, don't assume that my 'beliefs' hinder me from arguing properly anymore than your 'beliefs' do, ok?

2) You said that I havn't really given evidence of my claim that there is no difference between the 'god' of the OT and the 'god' of the NT. - Guilty as charged.
So here goes,
God's love in the OT:
Gen.18.20-33
Exod.34.6-7
Is.49.14-15
Jer.3.19
Ps.136
Lam.3.25-33
Zech.7.8-10
God's wrath in the NT:
Matt.21.12-13
Mrk.8.33
Acts 5.1-11
Heb.10.30-31
2Pet.2.4-10
Rev.19.15

The whole point of this is biblical inerrancy, right?
While belief in the inerrancy of scripture is something to be taken, primarily, on faith, the fact is that your arguments are weak.
You say that it was the Hebrews who actually committed "genocide". If that was true and if the Bible attributed God as the instigator of this "genocide", then you would have a point. The argument 'hinges' on whether this was "genocide" or not.
Like I said, the text does not consider it genocide (You are arguing against the authorial intent/interpretation of the text), and secondly, there is a 'good' and 'reasonable' alternative explanation which fits the authorial intent of the passage: namely, God was divinely judging the 'sinners' for their sin.

Please, if you are serious at all about this, read my response and then respond.
 


Posted by Cusanus (# 692) on :
 
Posted by Polly:
quote:
2) Like where? Just because one account says something that isn't mentioned in another doesn't make it contradictory.

As well the example mentioned above, there's the issue of chronology. Matthew has Jesus born under Herod the Great (i.e before 4 BC). Luke has him born when Quirinius was legate of Syria and Cilicia (i.e after 6 AD). They can't both be right. And attempts by literalists to argue that somehow Quirinius was legate before this, or that Luke is referring to the census before Quirinius was legate are very dodgy to say the least.
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
A general point: one of the problems of arguing this issue is the translation people are using. The NIV will be the translation most used by inerrantists, but it has been translated by a group who come from a premise of at least 'infallibility'. Arguably that has led them to take a translation line thought less likely in some verses, because (quite properly from their point of view) they see an inconsistency with other parts of the Bible as an argument against a particular translation.

So, for example, Gen 2:19 is in the pluperfect tense in the NIV - God HAD formed the beasts before he brought them to Adam for naming. The NRSV, the NJB, the REB and even the KJV all say 'God formed', making the creation of man prior to that of the animals and thus a contradiction of 1:24-26. It's logical from the standpoint of infallibility/inerrancy, but AIUI the more natural translation is perfect rather than pluperfect.

The other point is that Polly keeps referring to Lee Strobel's book and must be wondering why everyone else either ignores it or dismisses it. There's a very good review by Jeff Lowder - admittedly hostile, but closely reasoned and ready to give him his due where appropriate - at this site . To reproduce just a short extract:
'Strobel did not interview any critics of Christian apologetics, even though he attacks such individuals in his book. For example, Strobel devotes an entire chapter to his interview of Greg Boyd (an outspoken faultfinder of the Jesus Seminar), yet Strobel never interviewed a single member of the Jesus Seminar itself! Likewise, he repeatedly criticizes Michael Martin, author of Case Against Christianity, but he never bothered to get Martin's responses to those attacks. This hardly constitutes balanced reporting on Strobel's part'

Personally I am always rather suspicious of those who claim to have been totally sceptical about Christianity when starting to write their book/article and then to have been converted by the time they finish. It's a good rhetorical device, but it's been done to death (UK readers only have to look at any article by Colin Wilson about the supernatural appearing in the Daily Mail...).

In fact, having just done another search... here is a page on a Christian website where -if you look carefully - you will find that Strobel admits the book was written when he was already a Christian. He says it 'retraces' the path that he followed, but I would submit that it is very difficult to do that with honesty. It's certainly not the book of 'A journalist who has a law degree [who] made it his task to prove that the claims about Christ were false but after his research became a Christian' as Polly originally wrote, and many readers of Strobel seem to believe - presumably because they take his description in the book to be literally true...

[ 22 April 2002: Message edited by: Erin ]
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
Arggh! Dunno what I did, but can someone please fix the code...?
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
I thought that was rather clever, Mike!

It seems to me that the inerrant position must come from prejudgement of the issues. Could one take the Bible as we receive it, read it, assess it impartially, and come to the conclusion that it is an inerrant text? I rather doubt it.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by elkab

I didn't shift the argument, I have said/am saying that genocide is something men do to one another out of hatred.

In CONTRAST, God may kill a group of people for their sins (not out of hatred, envy, etc.) and be justified for doing so.


What you were saying is that my argument judges God. My argument is that God did not instigate the genocide, men did. Therefore how can my argument be a judgement of God?

I said your argument attributed the Genocide to God because that's exactly what it does. To argue that God has the right to take life away might hold some weight, but for God to compel humans to perform the acts for him is genocide. You're surely not saying that every israelite wept tears of love as they chopped the heads off the babies, that is beyond belief in any rational thinking.

Ah, but you're not rational are you? You imply so here.

quote:

(You appear to believe in the transcendant value of logic and reason for one.)

If we don't apply logic and reason then we can successfully argue that the Bible is the work of little green men from Mars. All we have to do is say that's what we believe.

The biggest problem is that the thing you seem to have complete faith in, is a claim made, not by God but by men! Namely that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

The Bible doesn't say that it is inerrant. The majority of theologians don't believe that it's inerrant. But you do! And you dont allow, even your own mind, to use logic to justify that absurd claim.

I have never denied that there are instances in the OT where God shows love. Nor have I denied that there are instances in the NT where God's wrath is mentioned. But just because God shows wrath in the NT doesnt mean that he slaughters one person for another's wrongdoing. Also it doesn't mean that he gets men to do it for him.

You believe that God instigated the killing of innocent people (babies would have been put to death) and used men to do it, rather than taking their lives directly. I say that the only reason you believe that is that you are starting from the (man made) premise that the Bible is inerrant.

Show me somewhere that Jesus told people to slaughter children. Turning over tables and hitting a few donkeys with some string won't do.
 


Posted by andras (# 2065) on :
 
quote:
Luke has him born when Quirinius was legate of Syria and Cilicia (i.e after 6 AD). They can't both be right. And attempts by literalists to argue that somehow Quirinius was legate before this, or that Luke is referring to the census before Quirinius was legate are very dodgy to say the least.

Although I'm not a supporter of the Inerrancy of Scripture line, we need to be a little clearer here about the Greek.

The relevant word is 'protos', which indeed generally means 'first'; however, it can also mean 'before' (and is indeed used with that meaning elsewhere in the Gospels), and the Lucan passage could certainly be read as 'This was the census before Quirinius was "kurios" of Syria'

John
 


Posted by SteveWal (# 307) on :
 
Seems to me that one of the problems with the inerrantist view is that it has a basically positivist view of truth.

Thus, the only "true" truth (to use a phrase I think Francis Shaeffer used) is historical and scientific factual truth. Any other kind of truth, such as analogy, poetry or any kind of truth which can't be backed up by reference to "fact" could be seen to be based on a "lie."

Thus, Jonah has to be swallowed by a whale because otherwise it would be fiction, and that would be a "lie". It doesn't occur to them that fiction is as good a way of conveying truth as a historical account; if not better, because it doesn't have to prove anything. Jesus himself used parables (which are fictional) in order to convey spiritual truth. There is no reason to suppose that the writers and compilers of the Bible were not often doing this.

There's also a sense in which the Bible is a response to God's revelatation as much as it is a record of it. See the Psalms where the writers are shouting at God for being supposedly unfair.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
It seems to me that the inerrant position must come from prejudgement of the issues. Could one take the Bible as we receive it, read it, assess it impartially, and come to the conclusion that it is an inerrant text? I rather doubt it.

You seem to be assuming that inerrancy and literalism are the same thing. Inerrancy is about the truth of its spiritual teaching when it is properly understood. Literalism is about the exact date and circumstances under which things happened.

Literalism is such an easy target that I don't know why we are even bothering to talk about it. But the holiness and spiritual truth of Scripture is something that Christianity has always accepted.

The Bible repeatedly claims that it is the holy Word of God and that everything in it is true. An impartial observer could not help but notice these statements. You can accept or reject them, but the church has historically accepted the truth of the Bible.

For example:

quote:

"The entirety of Your Word is truth." Psalm 119.160
"The Word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40.8
"Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Matthew 4.4
"He who received the seed on the good ground is he who hears the Word and understands it, and bears fruit." Matthew 13.23
"The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life." John 6.63
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." Luke 21.33
"Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law until all is fulfilled." Matthew 5.18
"You make the Word of God of no effect because of your traditions." Mark 7.13

The "Word of God" in the Old Testament is identified with the law of Moses (as in Psalm 119) and with the statements of the prophets ("Hear the Word of the Lord"). In the New Testament it is identified as the entire Old Testament (Luke 24.44), the words of Jesus, and of course as Jesus Himself.

I think we need to clarify the distinction between the truth of the religious doctrine that is the purpose of the Bible, and the minor discrepancies within the Bible account and between the various versions of the Bible. These discepancies are so minor that you need to be looking for errors to notice them, and they have virtually no effect on the actual spiritual teachings of the Bible.

a person who considers themself tostands forever, and that "one jot and one title" shall not fail from it.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Whoops! That last paragraph is an error. Sorry.
 
Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Sorry folks but can't reply to things over weekends as don't have a PC at home!!.

The whole genocide/judgement thing is all based on how people read scripture. You are taking it on face value not really knowing teh context of everything going on.

Yes I agree that it is really hard to see anything but contradictions in Scripture and that God seems to be inconsistant in teh OT and NT.

However whatever list anyone provides and I try to give (IMHO) answers there will always be more examples and guess what I don't know all the answers.

There are now more "experts" and books by "experts" around if anyone wants to know more about issues.

Go and be adventurous and read a little!!

Those of you don't believe things is it because of understanding or simply because you won't?

I question the fact that just because it is hard to understand something in scripture we judge it to being "dodgy".

I have to also point out that there were a few times when God "killed" a number of Israelites.

The challenge by Levite priests to Moses' leadership for one.

What does this tell me about God.

Well (IMHO again!) he does hold his anger back time and tme again and His Mercy and Love do prevail .

However when someone ( group of/ peoples) continue to ignore His calling to repent and continue practices like child sacrifice and rape etc should God continue to "ignore" it because He is a mercyful God or should something be done.

I don't pretend to fully understand the issue but if it really is a stumbling block to your faith then either research the whole thing properly or let go.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Louise

Have just read you post from a while back!!

You sound as if you have greater knowledge over the archeological stuff than me.

Not got a problem with that.

However my understanding was that Albright still carries a certain amount of weight and his theory is still a theory and an option and hasn't been proved wrong.

The point I was trying to make was that certain people on this thread have read pasrt of scripture and made judgements on it not being open minded enough to either do further research or listen to other points of view.

I don't claim to be an expert but have done some research just to be able to give reason for my faith.


 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
[QB]
You seem to be assuming that inerrancy and literalism are the same thing. Inerrancy is about the truth of its spiritual teaching when it is properly understood. Literalism is about the exact date and circumstances under which things happened.
QB]

In that case, how can one judge inerrancy at all? Particularly when hedged about with phrases like "when properly understood" (trans.: "when interpreted by me"). There is no reference point for judging the truth of spritual teaching except our own faith. References to the Bible commenting on itself won't do, as the holy book of any religion can say the same thing.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
In that case, how can one judge inerrancy at all? Particularly when hedged about with phrases like "when properly understood" (trans.: "when interpreted by me"). There is no reference point for judging the truth of spritual teaching except our own faith. References to the Bible commenting on itself won't do, as the holy book of any religion can say the same thing.

You've got it exactly. This is why it is a point of faith. Christians supposedly believe in the claims of the Bible, even though there is no objective way of proving such things as the resurrection. Surely no one could objectively demonstrate that God became man and walked on this earth. That would be absurd.

As for phrases like "when properly understood" (trans.: "when interpreted by me"), this is not as subjective as you might think. The Bible has a remarkable internal consistency and pattern. Passages are properly understood when they are measured against and compared with many other passages. This is not easy, and it is why we need "experts." But you are right that it is also somewhat subjective, so people are likely to disagree about it. I'm no expert, myself.

Fundamentally, however, the idea that the Bible is a divinely perfect book is a matter of faith. Faith is supported by reason and logic, but is not proved by them. To me it is compelling and logical that God would cause a book like this to exist. But this isn't the kind of thing that gets proved. If it does not make sense, however, who is going to accept it?
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Polly
The whole genocide/judgement thing is all based on how people read scripture. You are taking it on face value not really knowing teh context of everything going on.

You're doing it again, Polly. It's the people who believe in an inerrant view of scripture who are taking it at face value.

quote:

Yes I agree that it is really hard to see anything but contradictions in Scripture and that God seems to be inconsistant in teh OT and NT.

Then why not accept that there are inconsistencies. What harm will it do? You can still believe in God, still be a Christian.

quote:

Go and be adventurous and read a little!!

You're rather assuming that people haven't. And you're rather assuming that you have.

quote:

Those of you don't believe things is it because of understanding or simply because you won't?

That's really insulting. I won't believe in an inerrant Bible because the evidence doesn't support it. As you say yourself 'it is really hard to see anything but contradictions in Scripture and that God seems to be inconsistant in the OT and NT'.

quote:

I question the fact that just because it is hard to understand something in scripture we judge it to being "dodgy".

I question the fact that when something in scripture obviously means what it says, some people will believe that black is white to support their man made view, that the Bible is inerrant.

quote:

I have to also point out that there were a few times when God "killed" a number of Israelites.

Oh! so that makes it alright then. 2 wrongs make a right don't they?

quote:

However when someone ( group of/ peoples) continue to ignore His calling to repent and continue practices like child sacrifice and rape etc should God continue to "ignore" it because He is a mercyful God or should something be done.

Like killing them all including their children? Something was done - God sent Jesus.

quote:

I don't pretend to fully understand the issue but if it really is a stumbling block to your faith then either research the whole thing properly or let go.

It is no stumbling block to my faith. It seems to be to yours. You seem to be treating the Bible and the people who wrote it as if they ARE God. I believe in a good God and men that err.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Freddy

Fundamentally, however, the idea that the Bible is a divinely perfect book is a matter of faith. Faith is supported by reason and logic, but is not proved by them. To me it is compelling and logical that God would cause a book like this to exist. But this isn't the kind of thing that gets proved. If it does not make sense, however, who is going to accept it?


I quite agree that it is a matter of faith, but it is not supported by logical reasoning. What I don't understand is why it should be important for you that it contains no errors. Surely that would exault it's writers and compilers to god-like status (unerring) at least for the time they spent writing it.

So it's quite true that it's a matter of faith, but it's misplaced faith.

I have to say also that it's this misplaced faith which causes so many people to dismiss Christians as crackpots! It serves to keep reasoning people from taking what you say seriously.

In short it works against God.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
What I don't understand is why it should be important for you that it contains no errors. Surely that would exault it's writers and compilers to god-like status (unerring) at least for the time they spent writing it.

The whole idea of calling it the "Word of God" is that it comes from God, not people. The writers were simply carriers of the message, not gods themselves.

The reason that it needs to be "error free" - by which I do not mean that it does not sometimes seem to present false ideas, or that it is literally accurate - is that its author is God. As a concept this idea is so frequently stated and exalted in Scripture that accepting it is implicit in accepting Christianity.

quote:
I have to say also that it's this misplaced faith which causes so many people to dismiss Christians as crackpots! It serves to keep reasoning people from taking what you say seriously. In short it works against God.

That's a surprising statement. Believing in Scripture, as Christians have believed since the Gospels were written, goes against God?

I certainly agree that you have to have a resonable way of accounting for the discrepancies, inconsistencies, and apparent errors of both fact and theology in the Bible.

Christianity is a religion which asks you to believe that God came to earth, performed all kinds of miracles, and yet was killed by the people. This is as strange an idea as has ever existed. It's not any stranger to believe that the account of His life was also given from God.

But if there is simply no such thing as divine revelation, then why not just come out and say so?
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

You have once again bulit your 'straw man' out of something that I have said and used it to disarm my argument.

I AM rational. You have made a very illogical leap by assuming that a positive deduction of your belief in the value of logic and reason means that I somehow MUST believe the opposite.....Very sloppy bonzo.
The point of that sentence was merely to show you that everyone holds to certain 'core' beliefs. It wasn't about me NOT valuing reason. I think reason is one of the greatest human qualities.
Maybe I should rethink my deduction that you are rational? (read my posts "carefully" if you want to respond)

Anyways, onto the points of your post.
Finally, you have acknowledged the very real, very qualitative difference between genocide and divine punishment.
But then you fall back to your emotionally-charged rhetoric. "chopping heads off babies". I'm not even saying that that wasn't what happened when the Hebrews killed the people-groups in Caanan. What I am saying is that the real argument is unaffected by it. So what if God instigated HIs "punishment" of people which included the massacre of babies. Does this somehow make any difference? I have said that all people deserve death by nature (read Ps 51).

If God wants to excercise His RIGHT to kill these people, than who are you to stand back and draw the limitations of what and who God can and cannot destroy. Also, God can use men as HIs instruments of punishment much like He uses us as His instruments of grace through the gospel.

Now I don't want to see your next post with a quote from me (ripped aout of context) about how it doesn't matter if God kills babies. I'm not saying that. I AM saying that God has the divine right to kill babies for the reason of sin. Please represent my argument truthfully.

You still have not given any evidence that what God did in Joshua is "genocide". All you have done is "banked" on the idea that killing women and children in certain ways is somehow universally, under any circumstances, for deity and mortal alike evil. - Very hard to prove.

I, on the other hand, have given good evidence that the text is referring to divine punishment. The authorial intent/interpretation favors this, the argument from the relational dynamic 'difference' between Creator and created shows this, and now I await your response.

SHow me that God is committing genocide here.
Don't just tell me what the Jews did and how you perceive it to be bad. I want "evidence" if this is worth continuing.
 


Posted by nicolemrw (# 28) on :
 
quote:
If God wants to excercise His RIGHT to kill these people, than who are you to stand back and draw the limitations of what and who God can and cannot destroy.

but god didn't. people did. they claimed that god told them to.

lots and lots of people kill other people and claim that god told them to. they generally either get convicted of murder, or put away for a long time til they get better.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ekalb:
If God wants to excercise His RIGHT to kill these people, than who are you to stand back and draw the limitations of what and who God can and cannot destroy.

I'm with Bonzo here. God does not destroy, punish, or kill anyone. He especially does not kill innocent victims. This is inconsistent with the idea of God given, as a whole, in Scripture.

I appreciate the desire to justify what parts of the Bible actually say. They do, it is true, frequently refer to Divine punishment, and Joshua is written as though God commanded Joshua to slaughter whole cities.

I think that it is more accurate and consistent with the Bible, however, to realize that references to divine anger and punishment are written according to the appearance, and are not literally true.

This is not to say that the evil are not punished. The law of divine order is that all good and all evil returns to the one doing it. The evil essentially punish themselves, or are punished by others like themselves. But the punishment does not come from God. He grieves at their punishment, and would end it if this were possible without destroying human freedom.

This particular stumbling block is, I think, a big one for many people.
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:

There are now more "experts" and books by "experts" around if anyone wants to know more about issues.

Go and be adventurous and read a little!!

Those of you don't believe things is it because of understanding or simply because you won't?


I rather agree with Bonzo; for the reasons I've already explained, if you come in with Lee Strobel as a source, those of us who've read more rigorous analyses are not going to be impressed.

If you are indeed prepared to be adventurous and read a little, I'd suggest any or all of the following for starters:

'The Gospels & Jesus', Stanton
'The Living World of the Old Testament' Anderson
'The Historical Figure of Jesus' E P Sanders

And perhaps someone else who knows it can post the name of the book where NT Wright and Marcus Borg go head to head - my copy is on loan to someone else at present and I can't remember the title. That would be a very good antidote to Strobel - it does what Strobel says he is doing and doesn't...

These aren't heavy books, though they're certainly more demanding than Strobel. None of them are from extreme positions either, they are all from more or less the centre of academic theology. But they'll open your eyes to the breadth of knowledge and belief that is out there in Christendom. I'd particularly recommend the Anderson one for a view of the Old Testament, but if you pick it up second hand or from a library get the latest edition you can find so that you get an up-to-date view.
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Well, well, well....

It's been interesting reading.

I used to be an inerrantist. I used the same lines of argument as Polly and Ekalb are doing here.

But they didn't work.

I couldn't love a God who ordered the slaughter of children. Of the innocent along with the guilty.

This could have been a problem. But when I looked at what Jesus was like, I realised there was no problem. This image of God was flawed.

It has to be.

Let's get real for a moment, folks. Imagine that during a prayer meeting, someone does the "Thus saith the Lord" thing, and tells you that a given list of wrongdoers are to be brutally slaughtered by you. God's had enough of them, they've had their warnings, and the time's up. Oh, and you're to kill their children and pets too. And raze their houses to the ground.

Now, would you really think that was God? No. And why not? Because it would be out of character.

Comprendez?
 


Posted by nicolemrw (# 28) on :
 
thank you karl. that was more or less what i was getting at.
 
Posted by Mr. Zero (# 1973) on :
 
The book Mike is talking about is 'The meaning of Jesus'. This link will take you to it.

[replaced long URL to remove horizontal scroll]

[ 22 April 2002: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Freddy

The reason that it needs to be "error free" - by which I do not mean that it does not sometimes seem to present false ideas, or that it is literally accurate - is that its author is God. As a concept this idea is so frequently stated and exalted in Scripture that accepting it is implicit in accepting Christianity.


Does this mean that in your view I am not a Christian?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Does this mean that in your view I am not a Christian?

I don't know if you are a Christian or not - or for that matter if I am one.

I only meant that accepting the truth of the message of the Bible as something that is from God has always been considered to be a fairly normal aspect of Christianity. Certainly there can be differences of opinion about what constitutes "accepting" this. But if someone says they are a Christian most people would expect that they believe in the Bible.

Someone might accept its general message as having a divine origin, but the details as having their origin in the minds of the writers. This is fine with me.

Whatever part of the Bible is from God, however, ought to be considered in some sense to be perfect and holy. At least that is what I would expect.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
ok, it seems that I am slightly out-numbered.

Well lets start with nicole's response:

You rightly point out that 'men' did the killing. But if you will re-read my post, you will see that I said that God can choose to use men (or animals, or angels, etc, etc) to do His will. I even point out that in the NT it is 'men' that are used by GOd to administer the gospel of His mercy. So, whats the problem if He uses 'men' to administer His justice too?

Now freddys response:

You say that "God does not destoy, punish, or kill". Well, that is one HUGE claim. I wonder how you would attempt to sustain the claim. My claim is that God 'does' destroy, punish, and kill, - but only for justified reasons and only out of His desire for good towards His creation.
But more importantly (and something that no one on this thread has really tried to defeat yet), is the 'qualitative' diference between 'Creator' and 'created'.
For instance, as I write this post I am crafting each sentence towards my purpose. If a word or phrase is not where I want it, I have full control over erasing it or moving it elsewhere. No one else can erase my words or craft it, - it is 'mine'. Mine to make, and mine to change, and mine to erase if I so choose. Are you seeing the point yet?

God's relationship to humans is more complex than my relationship to my post, but the "me-post" example above 'does' represent a very real aspect between God and man.
True, God is our Father. In the person of Christ, God is our saviour and brother, BUT never forget that He has always been, and always will be our MAKER.

God DOES have the RIGHT to kill his creation, not merely because He is stronger, but because He has a very real 'ownership' over us. Christian Humility is based on this fact. Thats why Abraham spoke to God saying, "I am nothing more than dust." Obviously, Abraham didn't have a self-esteem problem, but when we face the One who made us (crafted us and formed us to His will and purpose) I think we would all realize how small we are in comparison.

The point is that God, because He is Creator, has the 'unique' right and priviledge of deciding when -if at all- a person should die for their sins.

Attempts by bonzo and freddy to 'superimpose' human rights and priviledges onto God is foolish. St. Paul said it profoundly in Romans 9: "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall What is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"

Because this is about "Biblical Inerrancy", not to mention for those who are wondering what this has to do with it, I am showing that no one can use the slaughters in the book of Joshua as proof of the 'errancy' of scripture. Some have said that because it attributes 'genocide' to GOd that the text cannot be truly inerrant then.
The fault with this argument is that the text does NOT attribute 'genocide' to God, rather the authorial intent/interpretation points towards 'divine punishment'. Furthermore, I have spent many posts clearly showing that 'divine punishment' is valid, logical, consistent with the revealed nature of God in the rest of scripture, and therefore negates the attempt to use the 'genocidal-god' argument.

respond please....
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
This thread has moved on a bit since I last logged in, but however, to return to:

quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
To me it is compelling and logical that God would cause a book like this to exist. But this isn't the kind of thing that gets proved. If it does not make sense, however, who is going to accept it?

The problem here, as I see it, is that if it is logical for God to cause a book of instruction to exist, it is also logical for God to make it very clear what those instructions are, and that this book is God's word. Otherwise the exercise becomes self-defeating. The fact that so much effort is required to interpret the Bible, and that so many different interpretations can evidently be made, suggests that, as a book, it is not very well designed. If we impute that it came from the Great Designer we reach the unpalatable conclusion that either He isn't able to express Himself very well, or He is teasing us with deliberate obfuscation.

It is rather easier to defend the position that the books of the Bible represent successive attempts by men to put down what they perceived, not always inerrantly, of Divine Truth, diluted with a large amount of historical, genealogical and other miscellaneous material.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
It comes down to what purpose God had in giving us the Bible. If (for example) he wanted to give us a book of rules for every situation or a systematic theology then he clearly failed.

However, I don't believe that is what he wanted to give us. I believe that God wants us to freely enter a dynamic relationship with him. One of the primary ways God has chosen to communicate with us is through the Bible; the nature of the Bible is therefore dictated by the requirements of the type of relationship he wants to have with us.

God relates to us as individuals; therefore the Bible needs to deliver a slightly different message to each of us. He also relates to us as a community (on many different levels from small groups to the entire human race) which constrains how varied that message can be.

God wants us to come to him freely, so his message can't be irrefutable. And he wants us to exercise our freedom within that relationship so the Bible can't be totally prescriptive about doctrine or behaviour.

God wants us to us our gifts and abilities, including the ability (corporately and individually) to question and debate the Bible to gain greater understanding. And since God is infinite trying to communicate with finite beings then the Bible would be expected to contain plenty to engage our minds.

I think that the books we have actually suit Gods purpose pretty well. Whereas, a set of divinely dictated totally inerrant writings wouldn't be as suitable.

Alan
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

I have a pet hamster. It's mine. I bought it I own it. It's mine to feed. It's mine to chop the feet off (in a loving and caring way of course).

God, through Jesus has shown me, that he is loving and forgiving. He has shown me that he would rather forgive than condemn his own murderers. He wants me to be the same sort of person as him.

If I hear voices in my head which I believe is God telling me to kill the family next door who are abusing their children, including killing the children, should I do it?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I believe that God wants us to freely enter a dynamic relationship with him. One of the primary ways God has chosen to communicate with us is through the Bible; the nature of the Bible is therefore dictated by the requirements of the type of relationship he wants to have with us.

Thank you, Alan. Once again, beautifully stated and reasoned.

The key word, I think, is freedom. The nature of the book is that you can get much or little out of it according to your own free choice and interest. In one sense it is true, but in another sense it is all wrong.

This is the point of Jesus' words to His disciples when they asked why He so often spoke in parables:

quote:
Matthew 13.14
Hearing you will hear and not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive.
For the heart of this people has grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their heart and turn,
So that I should heal them.

The statement is paradoxical, since you would think that Jesus would want to heal them. But the meaning is that He is not going to heal them unless they want to be healed. If they don't wish to understand they will not understand.

The Bible is written to facilitate an individual and unique relationship between each person and God.

So in one sense I agree that the Bible is filled with apparent mistakes and misleading ideas, both of fact and of doctrine. But in a more fundamental sense I believe that it was written by God, or caused by Him to be written, in a particular way for a particular purpose. It is therefore a perfect book, and will not fail to accomplish His purpose, which is to cause people to freely love Him and one another. As Isaiah said:

quote:
Isaiah 55
For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there but water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater,
So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.


 
Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo said
quote:
I have a pet hamster. It's mine. I bought it I own it. It's mine to feed. It's mine to chop the feet off (in a loving and caring way of course).

If you created the Hamster and gave it life then the answer would be yes do with it what you like but you didn't create the Hamster and it was a gift to you to look after.

Bonzo your analogy was bad.

The point with did God order the killing/genocide/judgement of anyone let alone a "nation" has to be taken has to be taken an example at a time. No sweeping statements that all such instances were or weren't of God can not be made. I haven't made any statements like this.

However do I believe that some of God's people acted out of their own iniative in such ways ( eg King Saul) yes!

Do I belive that God used inidviduals to act out "His" judgement (Joshua) Yes.

In fact with Joshua after they had taken the land the Israelites were given precise instructions and when someone (sorry don'ta have a bible handy or able remember the guys name)disobeyed that his whole family were taken any killed.

The fact is that God hates Sin but also cares for His people ( don't misread me on this as he cares for everyone) and so when HIs people have been in danger there have been numerous examples where God has protected His peole eitehr by supernatural means or (IMHO) commanding His people to "War".

Do I understand it - not really but I won't make judgement on something I have little understanding of. As God said to Job "Who are you to instruct and know the ways of God Almighty".

What I do know is that if there was something that troubled me and I needed to clarify specific aspect of scripture I can do some own research rather than make my own judgements like a few are doing on this thread.

I am not going to be able to convince you Bonzo of anything purely because the issue is yours and you aren't being open minded enough to even look at the options let alone listen to an "amatuer" like me trying to help you.

If you have any knowledge or qualifications in the subject of Biblical History lets hear it because at least you would have a leg to stand on.


[UBB fixed]

[ 23 April 2002: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

originally posted by polly

If you created the Hamster and gave it life then the answer would be yes do with it what you like but you didn't create the Hamster and it was a gift to you to look after.


So if I had created the hamster then it would not be cruel?

quote:

Also posted by polly

Do I understand it - not really but I won't make judgement on something I have little understanding of. As God said to Job "Who are you to instruct and know the ways of God Almighty".


But by believing the Bible to be the implicit word of God you ARE making a judgement. A judgement which is not necessary for you to be a Christian. God never said that the book of Joshua should be considered to be inerrant MEN did that!
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
Bonzo

I'm not sure I totally agree with Polly's response, but your analogy 'is' bad.

It is true that you would not have 'created' the hamster. My analogy worked (ie. me 'creating' the post) but a hamster would be a relationship of steward-creation, not creator-creation.

The difference is still there. Further, I would ask you why you would cut your hamster's legs off, etc.? You imply that the act is done in some sadistic sense, in which case you have missed the point yet again.

You're right, GOd is a God of love. Try looking at it this way: All of humanity has sinned, done horrible things to each other and totally failed the purpose for which we were created in the first place.
The really awesome part of the whole thing is that God hasn't killed everyone already. He is a God who 'chooses' to redeem rather than scrapping humanity and starting again.

So, afraid your analogy just won't work. God is love, but equally He is justice. God knows when a group of people 'need' to be punished for their sins and He also knows when you or I 'need' redemption. It's His choice to do either and He is fully justified to do either.

"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." Rom.9.15
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Perfect? Really? All those genealogies cause us to love God and one another better? It's news to me.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

So you are saying that if, hypothetically, I was able to create a hamster, and I chopped it's legs off that it would not be a cruel thing to do?

You ask me why I would want to do it. I wouldn't, I'm not cruel.

But you seem to be arguing that because I created it that doing so would not be cruel.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo said

quote:
But you seem to be arguing that because I created it that doing so would not be cruel.

This is where you are missing the point as if you could create the Hamster then it would be your right to do with it what you like whether you leave it to grow old and die or whether you did want to chop its legs off.

As you can't create a hamster then you can't tell the one who did create them whether He is right or wrong to do what He wants.

Bonzo said

quote:
But by believing the Bible to be the implicit word of God you ARE making a judgement. A judgement which is not necessary for you to be a Christian. God never said that the book of Joshua should be considered to be inerrant MEN did that!

No by doing research and asking questions and trying to find answers by eitehr books or speaking to people who do know such things do I believe that the Bible is true.

"All scripture is God breathed...." 1/2?? Tim 3 v 16

Suggest you try it.

Bonzo also said:

quote:
But you seem to be arguing that because I created it that doing so would not be cruel

I might find it hard to understand not think what I do but it is not my place to pass judgement on you if that is what you chose to do and if you decided to explain your reasons to me than fine if not fine again.


[UBB fixed]

[ 23 April 2002: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

No by doing research and asking questions and trying to find answers by eitehr books or speaking to people who do know such things do I believe that the Bible is true.

You have either been very unlucky or very selective in your research.
 


Posted by Mrs Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
quote:
You have either been very unlucky or very selective in your research.

That's a bit harsh ....

Surely this is one of those chicken and egg things. People who believe that the Bible is true will seek out books by Stobel and his ilk so they can back up their arguements. Someone who believes the opposite is more likely to find other books like the ones Mike recommended.

Years of library work has convinced me that no one comes to this sort of issue with an open mind - but instead seeks out stuff that will enable them to argue their views better However, before anyone jumps up and down, I'm not saying that views don't change.

Tubbs
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Quite true Tubbs, but polly has implied on more than one occasion that by doing research we would all come round to her point of view, presumably because the weight of evidence is wholly in her favour. I was implying that this is not the case.
 
Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo said:

quote:

You have either been very unlucky or very selective in your research.


That is an extremely judgemental comment if I ever heard one.

When you have done research to say otherwise and instead of using your own opinions then you may get others paying more attention to you.

Besides I don't know many people who would say that the likes of Wayne Grudem, Charles Colson and Lee Strobel (to name but a few) have got it wrong.

Until then your point is still seriously flawed and the way you interpret scripture and then use it to your own ends is how fundamentalists work


 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
I always feel that quoting books you have read is a bit like pulling rank in an argument. It's a bit like saying 'My argument is better than yours because I have read more books'. In a forum such as this one, people don't usually have the time to read every book another person suggests. Certainly they wouldn't get time to read the book and re-post with their findings. Books are therefore used rather like playing cards.

Here some to add to the hand which opposes inerrancy.

James Barr - Escaping from fundamentalism.

In which he successfully argues that you can not believe parts of the Bible and still be an Evangelical.

John Barton - What is the Bible?
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Sorry the last post was ambiguous it should have read:

James Barr - Escaping from fundamentalism

In which he successfully argues that you can
disbelieve parts of the Bible and still be an Evangelical.
 


Posted by Clyde (# 752) on :
 
I'm very impressed with the arguments put forward on this topic. But at the end of the day isn't it all about the Grace of God revealed in the life of Jesus?
Each of us will form a view of the Bible and we Christians will never reach agreement.
So, dear shipmates, don't worry your brains too much, because the finished work of Christ requires no addition from us.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Clyde,

I agree with you when you say that it's 'all about the Grace of God revealed in the life of Jesus'.

But IMO the concept of Biblical inerrancy stands in the way of many people believing in Christ.

It is precisely because it's all about the God of grace, that it is necessary to dispell the myth of this wrathful vengeful God.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
It is precisely because it's all about the God of grace, that it is necessary to dispell the myth of this wrathful vengeful God.

Oh, is this where you are coming from? Well that's a pretty good point! I agree wholeheartedly.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:

What I do know is that if there was something that troubled me and I needed to clarify specific aspect of scripture I can do some own research rather than make my own judgements like a few are doing on this thread.


Polly,
In the above quote you are critical of people making their own judgements (you made similar comments earlier about this).

This kind of comment is made from time to time here in Purgatory but would you please consider the following before you post it again!

Glenn
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
Ekalb,

The book of Joshua describes God as commanding and aiding the extermination of various Canaanite tribes. Since the Concise Oxford English dictionary defines genocide as ‘the extermination of a nation, race etc.’ it is not unreasonable to say that, if Joshua is without error than God committed genocide.

You wish to show that God did not commit genocide and your strategy is, in effect, to redefine genocide to something like ‘the extermination of a nation, race etc. unless commanded by God as punishment for sin.’ This challenges people, like myself and Bonzo, to show that the clearance of Canaan was not a punishment for sin. One obvious point we could make here is that the extermination involved babies who are surely innocent. However, you pre-empt this by stating that all people, including babies, are sinners deserving of punishment for sin.

What we end up with in your view is the conclusion that the clearance of Canaan cannot be used to prove that the bible is not inerrant.

But the price to pay for such a conclusion is a heavy one. If I am trying to decide whether or not to believe that the bible is without error then it would appear that if I decide in favour of inerrancy I will be committed to at least the following views:

I will inevitably have to draw the conclusion that there had better be some exceptionally strong reasons for me to adopt the view that the bible is without error if I am going to have to end up holding this kind of view of God. I do not see how anyone can be happy with these views of God. They give a picture of God, which many find morally repugnant, and which many would find does not inspire worship and respect.

I do not believe that the case for inerrancy is a strong one anyway. But presumably you do. What reasons do you have for being committed to inerrancy, Ekalb?

Glenn
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Oldham:
But the price to pay for such a conclusion is a heavy one.

I am in agreement with most of this post if you define "inerrancy" in a strictly literal way. As soon as you have God Himself commanding genocide you are in trouble.

It would be great, however, to have someone defining some kind of middle ground. Otherwise it sounds as though we are assigning no divinity at all to the Bible. This causes the difficulty of dealing with the Bible's endless claims to divinity, if not strict inerrance.

The price to pay for the conclusion that the Bible does not necessarily contain divine truth is also a heavy one:

1. If Christianity's main tenets are founded on the assumption that the Bible is true, what happens to Christianity if the Bible is no longer believed?

2. If the Bible message is accepted in the main, but it is acknowledged that large parts of it are purely man-made, doesn't this leave every biblical statement open to question?

3. If there is no belief in the reality of divine revelation, this threatens the legitimacy of all religious systems.

4. If you believe that morality is affected by belief, then you might worry that the loss of belief will lead to an increase in the kind of immoral behavior that is hurtful to society in general.

These kinds of fears are taken seriously by many people, and so they feel obligated to accept biblical statements - even when they make no sense or run contrary to other biblical statements. Certainly churches are profoundly affected by this kind of reasoning. No Christian church has formally repudiated the book of Joshua.

For myself, the way out of the equally valid problems with either position is to accept the idea of an allegorical aspect to the Bible. So that even though God Himself would never order the destruction of the actual Canaanites, He does order the destruction of the evils that they represent in our own lives. This way the book is absolutely divine, but adapted to the nature of the people of that time. Yet in its meaning it is adapted to the people of all times.

But whatever device a person adopts, I think it is important to acknowledge that you pay a price if you acknowledge the literal truth of the Bible, and you also pay one if you deny the divine inspiration of the Bible.

Unfortunately, it seems as though it is hard to define the middle ground.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
Bonzo,

My argument was NOT that if you had 'created' the hamster, then you would be justified to cut its legs off. That's why I asked the question in my post 'Why?' would you cut the legs off. Further, I suggested that you were implying a "sadistic" motive for doing so. (again, read the post thoroughly before responding)

In short, I'm not saying that God just goes around sadistically killing things out of boredom or pleasure, rather He will kill humans when they have crossed the boundaries that He has set for us. Or He might have mercy and not kill us. BUT either way, God is justified. Not because the Bible 'just says so', but because God is privy to the unique ownership over all creation.

I might add, that if you "could" create a hamster, then you would be (for all practicality) the hamster's 'god'.
And if you were the kind of 'god' that would sadistically rip the legs of your creation then I might argue that the hamster may not even think it evil. As 'god' over your hamster, you (by your nature and ethics/lack of ethics) would define the hamster's worldview and sense of right and wrong.

What am I saying? Basically that you cannot just use a "theoretical" universe in which cutting legs off its creation is the norm for divine actions and somehow compare it to this universe in which right and wrong are defined by the true God's nature and ethics.
---It's apples and oranges.-Can't draw a valid comparison.

Well, I want to say more, but I gotta go. I'll be back to explore this inerrancy thing later.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
Glen,

appreciate the reponse.
Frankly, you bring some rather good points.

I'm WAY too tired to go into all the reasons for me holding to inerrancy, But I will (for now) try to answer your post's points:

First, you're right that 'genocide' may be the correct 'technical' term for the events described in Joshua. I am not so much trying to 're-define' the term as I am trying to separate the 'stigma' of inherent immorality attached to it by bonzo.
'Genocide', as being implicitly defined by bonzo, has been an inherently 'evil' slaughter, initiated by God, executed by the ancient Hebrews upon particular Canaanite tribes.

What I have been showing is the qualitative diference between 'that kind' of genocide and divine punishment. But I see that you have grasped my argument rather well already so I won't re-state it.

You seem to have a problem with the doctrine of original sin. Christians have always firmly held to this teaching that even babies (yes, even cute little babies) are born with a disposition towards wrong-doing. Now, many Christians argue that God doesn't judge babies until they have reached an 'age of moral responsibility'. - I also hold to this. This, though, can be a 'can-of-worms' in itself and I will simply say that if it is true that humanity is a 'fallen' race, and if it is true that because of our falleness, all humans are at enmity with God by nature, then I don't see the problem with my initial argument. (Scripture does support the above premises and, therefore, my syllogism does have weight.)

All humans 'deserve' death due to sin, and if God decides to enact His justice, then He is allowed to.

Also, I would point out that you wrongfully assume that there is some limitation to the 'form' of God's justice. So, then how is God supposed to 'rightly' enact His divine justice upon sinful man??? I don't think that there is a problem with God using other men to do His will (i.e. justice, grace).
Further, I would say that God is 'extremely' compassionate in dealing with our sin and with what His 'just' nature compels of Him. It is a 'tension' within the divine mind, and like I have posted early, is the 'problem' that Christ came to fix.

LAstly, God isn't "incapable" of giving His people the land peacefully. For one, humans have genuine free will and God has genuine sovereignty. It is unfair of you to try and defeat my argument by throwing in something as complex and multi-faceted as human freedom/divine sovereingty. It's not as black and white as you paint it (This is not a concession to your point, by the way, rather I can't spend the time on such a large issue. -another thread, maybe?).
Also, I recommend Deut.7 for reading. It gives one reason for God desiring to kill the Canaanite tribes in the promised land: namely, that the tribes would 'corrupt' the message and purpose God had given the Hebrews.


There may be equally logical answers to these questions which do not support inerrancy, but my purpose is to show that someone CAN hold to inerrancy without being epistemologically 'sloppy'. holding to inerrancy is not like believing in the 'tooth fairy'. Inerrancy is a logically-consistent, albeit debated, outworking of the Christian faith and what our 'book' strongly supports.

sorry for the grammar and sentence structures, I'm really tired.
 


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ekalb:
Glen,
You seem to have a problem with the doctrine of original sin. Christians have always firmly held to this teaching that even babies (yes, even cute little babies) are born with a disposition towards wrong-doing. Now, many Christians argue that God doesn't judge babies until they have reached an 'age of moral responsibility'. - I also hold to this. This, though, can be a 'can-of-worms' in itself and I will simply say that if it is true that humanity is a 'fallen' race, and if it is true that because of our falleness, all humans are at enmity with God by nature, then I don't see the problem with my initial argument. (Scripture does support the above premises and, therefore, my syllogism does have weight.)


Erm, be careful - sin is not the same as wickedness and evil - that is an interpretation which comes out of a change in the use of the word in English. Properly, sin is falling short of perfection - and failing to be perfect need not in all cases imply wickedness, which is something else again (though clearly a form of sin).

Unless St. Paul is errant, clearly judgement upon sin is contingent on the knowledge of good and evil, perfect and imperfect.

quote:

All humans 'deserve' death due to sin, and if God decides to enact His justice, then He is allowed to.


...that's not the only interpretation; firstly, evil is usually associated with punishment, sure, but again sin is not the same, thus imperfection - sin - does not necessarily lead to punishment.

Rather, the railing of Jesus and Paul against the focus upon sinfulness as a measure of justification, is to point out not the wickedness of all people, but their lack of perfection. If you compare one against another, the only inarguable position is that perfection is required, thus no-one can say that on their behaviour they are owed justification. Therefore, only God can dispense justification, because human laws can provide none, and human power none either.

God, therefore, places a justification by covenant or faith, comparing not one persons temptations, talents, etc. beside anothers, but requiring instead relationship with Him. Thus, however fallen one person has been, however imperfect their history were it known and humanly judged, God's mercy and love are greater. No gap is so wide God cannot bridge it or His power redeem, which given the insufficiency of human justice and power only serves to illuminate His majesty.


quote:

Inerrancy is a logically-consistent, albeit debated, outworking of the Christian faith and what our 'book' strongly supports.


...erm, Genesis, and the origin of the Jewish people, are both factually assailable. Internal inconsistencies about teachings and facts - what sort of inerrant is that? Inerrancy has its own consistent internal rationale, but it creates inconsistency in the text it purports to be totally authorative, and that text is testably inaccurate in fact.

I don't personally believe these problems are as significant as some folks think, but by going out on a limb we invite being hoisted by our own petard.

Reducing inerrancy to things spiritual nearly works - but not in the final analysis perfectly.

Anyhow, it depends on whether you see the bible as a map or as a compass - I trust it totally as I would a compass to show me magnetic north (properly used), I don't think its a map telling me absolutely everything.

Off now to take my bearings...
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Glenn Posted
quote:
when you strongly imply that there is a difference between making one’s own judgement and doing research you ignore the fact that many of us here in Purgatory have years of research behind us already on issues like these. You therefore leave yourself wide open to the accusation that the only reason you believe we have not been doing research is because we have not arrived at the same opinion as you.

I can't respond to all your comments so sorry for being selective.

Firstly apologies to anyone who feels this way.

Secondly I have never de-valued anyones own opinion just because it differs from my own and that was never my intention.

I have also never said that I am an expert on any given subject or believed that there are no other people on this board who have either done research on any given subject or that no-one here is an expert in any field.

The point I am trying to make is this:

The Bible is made up of many different books by a wide range of people from different backgrounds dated 1000's of years old.

How can we possibly understand it all and whats more a number of the accounts in in various translations do not help either.

I believe there has to be a reason for all the scriptural writings to be in the Bible. Some more obvious than others and some God "had" included for reasons known to Himself.

In general we know more now about Biblical times than ever through various bits of research etc and really have to dig deep to understand scripture.

With your comment above (even though I haven't read every post) I haven't seen anyone else quoting stuff on the things that they know.

If you or someone else has insight into anything than lets see it. It would be really helpful. Until then is it not just your opinion against my opinion etc??

quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
It is precisely because it's all about the God of grace, that it is necessary to dispell the myth of this wrathful vengeful God.

On a side issue God does say that Vengence is His.

Also see my comments above to Glen concerning Scripture etc.

IMO scripture must be treated like any other "historical" writing. That is give it the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise.

In a court of law we wouldn't say someone is guilty on the face of a statement but cross examine it with other means.

I do believe like you God is a God of love.

And yes I struggle hugely with many different bits of scripture.

If I had a friend or family member whose only reason for not coming to faith was this whole thing about Joshua I would do my best to do research and help give reason for what I felt it was saying.

This is all I have tried to say to you and others. If it is a problem with you and your faith instead of reading it at face value try to find out the whole context of it and if you still come to teh same conclusion then you cross that bridge if and whne you get to it.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by ekalb

I might add, that if you "could" create a hamster, then you would be (for all practicality) the hamster's 'god'. And if you were the kind of 'god' that would sadistically rip the legs of your creation then I might argue that the hamster may not even think it evil. As 'god' over your hamster, you (by your nature and ethics/lack of ethics) would define the hamster's worldview and sense of right and wrong.


So if hypothetically I could create a hamster, a being which could feel pain, a being which felt distress, but it was entirely my own work. You are saying that the hamster couldn't blame me for cutting it's legs off, but you as an equal being to me you would call me 'sadistic'.

What I'm getting at here is that cruelty is cruelty whoever does it. If the person who commits cruelty knows how much pain, terror, suffering they are causing, then it's cruel absolutely. It doesn't matter if I created the Hamster of not, I know it can feel, I know it can suffer, I know it can feel afraid. Therefore, having created it, I would be (as you have now admitted) being sadistic.

So you say:


I presume you also believe:

Therefore
If God is truthful, when he defines our sense of right and wrong he will do so truthfully.
If God is consistent then we should, by our defined sense of right and wrong, be able to spot where inconsistensies in God's nature happen. If God is loving we should accept the parts of the Bible where a loving God is portrayed, and reject, as errant, the parts where God is reported to commit genocide.
 
Posted by Clyde (# 752) on :
 
From a Hamster.
Why don't you humans sort out your own problems without bringing us into it.
It's really is quite simple. Either 'God
is Love' or He isn't!
Regards
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
From Freddy:

1. If Christianity's main tenets are founded on the assumption that the Bible is true, what happens to Christianity if the Bible is no longer believed?

Let us say "substantially true" rather than "inerrantly true" and Christianity can survive.

2. If the Bible message is accepted in the main, but it is acknowledged that large parts of it are purely man-made, doesn't this leave every biblical statement open to question?

Yes, but that is not a bad thing.

3. If there is no belief in the reality of divine revelation, this threatens the legitimacy of all religious systems.

Not at all! Besides, there is a difference between divine revelation in the sense of dictating a holy text, and other forms of revelation.

4. If you believe that morality is affected by belief, then you might worry that the loss of belief will lead to an increase in the kind of immoral behavior that is hurtful to society in general.

Too late for that now ...

By the way, about this hamster. Maybe you yourself can't create a hamster, but you can create a human child. It is not moral to chop your children's legs off, whether you created them or not.
 


Posted by Carys (# 78) on :
 
quote:
Otherwise it sounds as though we are assigning no divinity at all to the Bible. This causes the difficulty of dealing with the Bible's endless claims to divinity, if not strict inerrance.

The Bible does not claim to be divine, divinely inspired perhaps, but it is not itself God and no where claims to be.

Carys
 


Posted by Yaffle (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Polly:

quote:
IMO scripture must be treated like any other "historical" writing. That is give it the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise.

Now this is something I do know about. [I]Nothing[/I} is given the benefit of the doubt in historical enquiry. A proper scepticism about one's sources is one of the attributes of the historian. It is the application of this attitude to the Bible that creates one of the major doubts as to it's inerrancy.

For example, according to scholars, the history of Israel we find in the early books of the Bible is the creation of a religious elite during the exile (i.e. 700 years or so after the events described). Furthermore the history they describe bears little relation to the history of Israel as discovered by archeologists. (Thus Whybray - The Making of the Pentateuch).

Doubtless other views can be taken, but the point is that no historian worthy of the name would take the Bible or any other documentary source at face value.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by carys

The Bible does not claim to be divine, divinely inspired perhaps, but it is not itself God and no where claims to be.


Actually the Bible doesn't even claim that all the Bible is divinely inspired. Only 'scripture' is claimed to be divinely inspired. What constitued scripture at that time is very unclear. It might well have not included the book of Joshua which might have been considered to be a historical account rather than scripture.

Certainly the verse which says 'all scripture is inspired by God', could not have been referring to any of the books of the NT.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Carys:
The Bible does not claim to be divine, divinely inspired perhaps, but it is not itself God and no where claims to be.

It's true that it never says, "the words of this book are God Himself." But it comes close. It says:

"And the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1

This can be interpretted as not referring to the Word as the Scriptures, but to the Word as a philosophical concept that was "in the beginning" with God, which the written Word was not. Nevertheless, the word is identified with Scripture in hundreds of bible passages that begin "the Word of the Lord" and go on to make various statements as if they are directly from God.

Other passages ascribe divine qualities to Scripture:
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." Luke 4
"The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever." Psalm 119.160
Jesus said, "The words I speak to you are spirit and are life." John 6.63

The language itself of Scripture makes divine claims, including over 70 references to "My word" or "My words," referring to what He has said in Scripture, over 250 references to "Word of the Lord," referring to specific sayings in Scripture, and 50 references to the "Word of God." These labels identify the book as divine, if they are accepted.

These things may be described as saying that the bible is divinely inspired. But "divinely inspired" can be another way of saying that they are divine, and therefore holy and true. Or it can mean that God in some sense inspired these words, just as He inspires each one of us.

The Bible, I think, claims to be directly from God in a special way, so that it is a divine book containing divine truth.

I don't think, however, that this means that it claims to be literally accurate in a worldly sense. It is about spiritual, not natural, truth.
 


Posted by Polly (# 1107) on :
 
Bonzo posted
quote:
Certainly the verse which says 'all scripture is inspired by God', could not have been referring to any of the books of the NT.

I have always viewed by faith as a choice as in I can either believe what the Bibles says or not.

Bonzo it sounds as if you have already chosen to be selective concerning the bits you believe and don't believe.

You haven't said whether you have properly examined the bits you have struggled with so I really don't know what more to say to you.

I beleive what I do because I had to see whether the bible was true or not and after various things have come to the conclusion I have.

I don't agree that you have been particuarly openminded about this whole issue and the point was yours to disproove and not mine to proove as I wasn't the one with the problem.

At the end of the day as I said it is a choice. Hope you find some peace of mind over the whole issue as I have said all I can so am off to another thread now!!
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Actually, polly, the OP says:

quote:

But all scripture is written by humans! (as far as I know!) How can something written by humans be "inerrant"?

Which makes the point yours to prove and mine to defend.

To be honest I feel quite sorry for you. I'm not trying to be patronising here, I really do.

When faced with a wealth of evidence to the contrary you won't allow your opinion to change, which makes you a slave to that opinion. Jesus is the truth, the truth that sets us free. But your faith traps you and confines you.

How can you expect anyone to see the liberation that Jesus offers in a faith like that?

Go on, let go, it's safe. I survived.
 


Posted by Carys (# 78) on :
 
quote:
It's true that it never says, "the words of this book are God Himself." But it comes close. It says:

"And the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1

This can be interpretted as not referring to the Word as the Scriptures, but to the Word as a philosophical concept that was "in the beginning" with God, which the written Word was not. Nevertheless, the word is identified with Scripture in hundreds of bible passages that begin "the Word of the Lord" and go on to make various statements as if they are directly from God.


John 1 is refering to Jesus as the Word 'who became flesh and dwelt among us' rather than to the scriptures.

I'm not saying that the Bible isn't divinely inspired, but pointing out that it does not claim divinity for itself as you said. It might be that we're using words in different ways. But as my words aren't me, so God's words aren't God.

Carys
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Actually, I fail to see how the Bible can refer to itself, since as a construct it postdates any of the actual writing in it. The Bible on our bookshelves is an amalgam of texts accepted as a corpus, and which exludes a large number of other similar texts (the various apocrypha).

Nowhere does the Bible comment on which texts are scriptural and reliable and which are not. The selection was made much later, and now we take it largely on trust.
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ekalb:
You seem to have a problem with the doctrine of original sin. Christians have always firmly held to this teaching that even babies (yes, even cute little babies) are born with a disposition towards wrong-doing.

A disposition towards wrongdoing and guilt are two completely different things, however. Babies have no guilt. They have no actual sin to repent of. They are innocent. This has ALWAYS been the teaching of the Orthodox Church, for as far back as you can look.

quote:
Now, many Christians argue that God doesn't judge babies until they have reached an 'age of moral responsibility'. - I also hold to this. This, though, can be a 'can-of-worms' in itself and I will simply say that if it is true that humanity is a 'fallen' race, and if it is true that because of our falleness, all humans are at enmity with God by nature, then I don't see the problem with my initial argument.

All humans are not at enmity with God by nature. 'Let the children come to me, and hinder them not: of such is the Kingdom of God.' Unless you would want to say that the Kingdom of God is at enmity with God, which is nonsense.

quote:
All humans 'deserve' death due to sin, and if God decides to enact His justice, then He is allowed to.

Sorry, bzzzzt, try again. All humans do not deserve death due to sin. Innocent babies who have not sinned do not deserve death.

Reader Alexis
aut malus homo aut Orthodox guy
 


Posted by Mrs Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
It's a long time since I did A Level RE but the Word (or Logos) referred to in John refers to Christ rather than the Word of God aka The Bible. The only claim that the Bible makes for itself is in Timothy when Paul (?) writes that all Scripture is God Breathed and useful for instruction etc ...

I don't think that means that The Bible is claiming that it is 100% accurate as it's the Word of God written down by and translated by people ... All of whom will bring something of themselves to it. Just as when we read it we bring something of ourselves to it and will intrepret the same stuff completely differently.

Tubbs
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Carys:
John 1 is refering to Jesus as the Word 'who became flesh and dwelt among us' rather than to the scriptures.

I certainly believe that Jesus was the Word made flesh. But why does this mean that He was not the Scriptures made flesh? He says repeatedly that He came to fulfill the Scriptures, as in Matthew:
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5.17).

To me this means that He was the Word made flesh, and that the term identifies the Word with both the Law and the Prophets as well as with Jesus.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
Actually, I fail to see how the Bible can refer to itself, since as a construct it postdates any of the actual writing in it. The Bible on our bookshelves is an amalgam of texts accepted as a corpus, and which exludes a large number of other similar texts (the various apocrypha).

Nowhere does the Bible comment on which texts are scriptural and reliable and which are not. The selection was made much later, and now we take it largely on trust.


This is a very good point, and I have always wondered how Christians resolved it to themselves.

Jesus referred to the Law and the Prophets, and also the Psalms - thereby going a long way to defining the Old Testament canon, since these are known entities. But it certainly leaves gaps of uncertainty, especially with the New Testament.

Swedenborgians have a canon which we take to be divinely revealed. This seems to me to be the only logical way out of this question. But then, of course, how do we know that this canon is actually divinely revealed? So the question is ultimately impossible to resolve with certainty...
 


Posted by Mrs Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
I looked this up ... In RE I was taught Logos referred to Christ and in the context of John, also referred to the creative word of God that breathed life into the World ... Which was the same as Christ. As this defination from the CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY states

quote:
The Greek word for "word." Mentioned only in the writings of John. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word [logos] and the Word [logos] was with God and the Word [logos] was God." The Logos is sometimes used to refer to the second person of the Trinity as the Son in preincarnate form. Jesus is the word [logos] made flesh (John 1:1,14).

However, I did find this defination on Gospelcom

quote:
One of two Greek words in the New Testament which refer to the "Word of God." The other is rhema. Though the Bible uses the two words interchangeably, in Word-Faith (aka "name it and claim it" - Tubbs) theology, logos is said to be the "written Word of God," while rhema is considered the "spoken Word of God."

In this doctrine, Logos refers to the Bible. Extra-Biblical revelation, said to be rhema, is to be rejected if it contradicts Logos.

The danger of the rhema vs. logos doctrines can be seen in some of the current renewal and revival movements, where experience and extra-Biblical revelation are increasingly taking precedence over the written Word of God. The renewal and revival movements have adopted this doctrine, because it fits in with their view that the Church is to be lead and taught by prophets and apostles who, they claim, reveal things that were previously "hidden".


Think I'll stick with me RE teacher

Tubbs
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mrs Tubbs:
I looked this up ... In RE I was taught Logos referred to Christ and in the context of John, also referred to the creative word of God that breathed life into the World ... Which was the same as Christ.

I was taught the same thing, and it is certainly true. But the logos isn't only Jesus.

The Word "logos" is used one hundred times in the gospels alone - far more frequently than "rhema," which occurs only about twenty-five times. It is the logos that is the seed in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). It is the logos that is the "Word of God" where Jesus says, "By your traditions you make the Word of God of no effect" (Mark 7.13).

The logic is very simple. Jesus came to teach the truth, which is also the role of the Word of God. Therefore the two are identified.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Freddy

So in your view, is the Bible saying 'In the beginning was the Bible and the Bible was with God and the Bible was God'?
 


Posted by Dyfrig (# 15) on :
 
Usage of "word" is varied in the scriptures.

In the Psalms, e.g. "Your word is a lamp unto my feet", it refers specifically to Torah.

"The word of YHWH" was what the prophets spoke.

As Mrs T has pointed out, it also has connection to the creative power of YHWH - "YHWH said, 'Let there be light'" etc.

John may well be playing a little game - he not only has the above in mind when he says "in the beginning was the Word", but also the Greek philosophical category of the "logos. This is probable because he refers to the "arche", i.e. the beginning, which alludes to someone or other of the early philosphers who introduced the concept of there being a beginning principle - the "arche". For John, the Word in all its meanings is finally and definitively enfleshed in Jesus, not in a book or in an intellectual process.

There's also the idea of the "kerygma", the preaching of the Church, through which at least Paul considered God's grace to be imparted (i.e. the act of proclamation was sacramental in and of itself).

The only reference to scriptural authority in scripture is the one in Timothy referred to above, and as this was probably written in the 60s / 70s of the first century, predates 80% of the written NT and the closing of the Jewish canon at Jamnia, therefore cannot be taken to be anything more than saying that the accepted scriptures of the synagogue at that time (most probably the Torah and the Prophets, the Psalms and some wisdom literature) had value in the formation of the community. As the Christian canon is not settled till about 200 (and, in the case of Revelation's acceptance in the East, 600) then ideas of the Bible as "the Word of God" are anachronistic in NT times. I'm not sure where it arises, but it becomes shorthand for the Bible in post-Reformation times.
 


Posted by Mrs Tubbs (# 440) on :
 
Dryfig,

Those RE lessons are all flooding back. (Am now remembering how long ago they were :eek

So ... what about the extra books like Tobit etc? How come they never made the final cut?

Tubbs
 


Posted by Yaffle (# 525) on :
 
Unless anyone can point to a medieval heretic I've never heard of the idea of the Bible as the word of God is a reformation idea.

Luther appealed to scripture in claiming that the Roman Catholic Church was incorrect in it's teachings. His opponents pointed out that the canon of scripture was chosen by the Church and that therefore the idea that scripture was an independent standard by which to judge the Church was intellectually incoherent.

So if the Bible is inerrant God apparently was pleased to let His Church spend the first 1500 years of its existence in ignorance of this.

Dyfrig - how do you arrive at a figure of 80%?

BTW, would it be provocative to point out that Jesus' attitude to the Bible was to say "ye have heard it said" followed by "but I say unto you" and St Paul, of course, abandoned the Law to great indignation from Jews and Jewish Christians.

Incidentally I find it very difficult to imagine that St Paul wrote 1 Corinthians as a definitive guide for Christians in all times and all places as he expected the world to end shortly after it was written.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
The mention of Martin Luther reminded me of something I said earlier in the thread about our understanding of God being the result of all the years of theology during and since the Bible. There have been many cul-de-sac explored along the way and not every step has been a forward one but theology does seem to be improving the view of God.

Now if the grass roots church was based on the theological thinking of today instead of the prejudices of the Victorians, we might get somewhere.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Yaffle:
Unless anyone can point to a medieval heretic I've never heard of the idea of the Bible as the word of God is a reformation idea.

What about Augustine?

quote:

“You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.” - Augustine of Hippo, 5th century

It amazes me that anyone could think that the idea of Scripture being the Word of God is a reformation idea. It is stated word for word in both the Old and the New Testament.

It is true that they at no point had the Scriptures collected together while they were being written, but the prophets called what they wrote the "Word of the Lord," and Jesus called the Law and the Prophets "The Word of God" (Mark 7.13), and He spoke of His own words "spirit and life" (John 6.63). It would be inconceivable for early Christians not to have referred to His words as having divine authority.

quote:
Bonzo writes
So in your view, is the Bible saying 'In the beginning was the Bible and the Bible was with God and the Bible was God'?

No. It is saying "In the beginning was the Divine Truth, and the Divine Truth was with God and the Divine Truth was God...And the Divine Truth was made flesh and dwelt among us."

The Divine Truth and the Word of God are the same thing. This is why the one on the white horse in Revelation 19 is called the Word of God - because the understanding of the Divine Truth is what, in the end, will bring about the happy changes that are described in the end of that book.
 


Posted by Scot (# 2095) on :
 
Perhaps the question is not whether the Bible is the word of God, but whether it is the 'definitive' word of God. His truth can and does reside in other places than the Bible.

I think it is important to remember that the Bible is not an authority unto itself. The authority belongs to God, not the book. It is altogether dangerous to make an idol of scripture. What if I misinterpret or misapply a passage, and then assign the full 'authority of Scripture' to my mistake? The further I go, the less faith I place in sola scriptura.

Oh geez, are they going to kick me out of evangelical protestantism?

scot
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Freddy

If you're saying that the 'word' in John chapter 1 equates to both Jesus and the Bible. I have to say that that I don't believe that he was writing about any part of the Bible but about Jesus alone.

However, if he was referring to anything written, it seems to me that it could not be the Bible in it's entirety as we currently know it, because the canon wasn't compiled by then (and is even today subject to much disagreement).

No, if he was referring to anything written, he was referring to any writing which is divinely inspired, and also the divinely inspired spoken word etc. which could apply to Christian books today. In other words not solely to the canon and not necessarily referring to all the canon. The same is true of the other instances where you say the Bible refers to itself as the word of God.

In short, if it refers to any written word, it refers to divine truth wherever it crops up, yesterday, today, tommorrow.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
Ekalb,
Thanks for your cordial response to mine. I'm afraid that I have time only for a brief response to yours.

I’ll skip the original sin issue for the moment and focus on the issue of the book of Joshua’s portrayal of God as using the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites, men women and children.

The reason this is a problem I that I find it hard to see it as other than very cruel to require people to kill others. This is perhaps especially so in the kind of very bloody close quarters way that is that it would then have been (though killing at a distance is dangerously desensitising. Such an experience is often traumatising. I find it extremely problematic to worship a God capable of that kind of thing when he could have done things differently. If God wanted the Canaanites dead, he could have accomplished it himself without getting human agents to do it for him. He is indeed seen by the writers of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers as thoroughly capable of this. There is, for example, the story of the flood. Even more pertinently there are the accounts of God wishing to personally and directly destroy the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 32:9-10 and Numbers 14:14). I am unable to find sufficient reason for him not to do likewise in the case of the Canaanites.

And could he not have given the land to Israel peacefully? I agree that the issue of free will is a difficult one but the OT God seems to disregard it at times. He does after all, harden men’s hearts on quite a few occasions. Why could he not have softened them?

I hope to say a little shortly in response to Freddy’s appeal for exposition of a middle ground position between inerrancy and total scepticism about the bible.
Glenn
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
if he was referring to anything written, it seems to me that it could not be the Bible in it's entirety as we currently know it, because the canon wasn't compiled by then (and is even today subject to much disagreement).
No, if he was referring to anything written, he was referring to any writing which is divinely inspired.

Now you're getting closer to where I can agree!

In one sense, the Word of God is a universal thing, covering virtually all writing and speech that is consistent with love to God and love to the neighbor. Everything that is good and true is inspired by God.

But in its more usual and stricter sense the Word of God is limited to what can legitimately be called "divine revelation" or messages received somehow directly from God. The real problem with this is establishing its legitimacy. I can claim that everything I write is from divine revelation, but who would believe me?

But perhaps the real question is whether there IS such a thing as divine revelation - that is, a message received and accurately transcribed into writing, or otherwise communicated to others, that is actually directly from God. Does this really happen?

In any case, when Jesus referred to the Word of God, or to the Scriptures, He was, I agree, often speaking in a broad sense about the Divine Truth itself. But "the Scriptures" and the "Word of God" that He refers to also have a very specific meaning, since it is obvious that He literally means the Law and the Prophets, as well as the Psalms.

Does Jesus also mean "the Gospel" when He speaks about those who receive the Word? "Repent and believe in the Gospel" are the first words He says in the gospel of Mark. Of course it is true that the gospel had not yet been written when He said that.

But the fact that the written Bible as we know it was not complete when Jesus spoke about the "Word of God" is not really an issue. As to its real message the Word is the same from beginning to end, although it is far more obscure and easy to misunderstand the farther back you go. So even having a part of the Bible would sufficient for Jesus to make those statements. They would apply to the rest later, as they were written and gathered.

Moses strictly commanded Israel, "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it" (Deuteronomy 4.2). And he says this 270 pages into a book that is now 1809 pages long! In one sense they paid no attendtion to Moses and added 1600 more pages. But in another sense nothing was added - because the message throughout is the same.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

In one sense, the Word of God is a universal thing, covering virtually all writing and speech that is consistent with love to God and love to the neighbor. Everything that is good and true is inspired by God.

But in its more usual and stricter sense the Word of God is limited to what can legitimately be called "divine revelation" or messages received somehow directly from God. The real problem with this is establishing its legitimacy. I can claim that everything I write is from divine revelation, but who would believe me?


What an interesting idea.

And one with which I couldn't disagree more!

You started off well when you said in one sense that 'The Word' applied to 'all writing and speech that is consistent with love to God and love to the neighbor' (I would have added deeds too).

But then you bugger it up by saying that divine revelation is something different from this.

Jesus refers to the books of the OT and uses the passages he is quoting as truth in some cases, but then he says things like 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'. He's not saying that every part of the OT is the Word of God, rather, he explicitly corrects some of it.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
He's not saying that every part of the OT is the Word of God, rather, he explicitly corrects some of it.

I would say He was explicitly explaining it. But the explanation, it is true, involved correction as well. Still, He did maintain that He came not to destroy but to fulfil the Law.

The pattern, as I understand it, is to gradually move from a more simplistic and childlike explanation to a more sophisticated one.

But I understand you to be saying that there is nothing that we could call divine revelation, other than the inspiration that all people may receive from God. Is this right?
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
glen,

First, I just want to say that I appreciate your 'cordial' responses too.

I will admit that there are some verses of scripture that, as a Christian who holds to inerrancy, I just wish weren't there. They are 'problem passages', for lack of a better term.

But if you will note that I did finish my post explaining that my purpose is to show that one can hold to inerrancy while being epistemologically responsible.

I can't completely answer the question, -'Why did God use the Hebrews to kill a bunch of Canaanites?', But no more than can an 'errantist' answer the scripture references that explicitly declare the unique and flawless quality of the scriptures or Christ's interpretation of the OT as literal and completely authoritative.

I'm NOT saying that there aren't reasonable answers that might support 'errancy' to the above questions, - I know that there are. But I am saying that there are also reasonable answers to support 'innerancy'.

So where does that leave us? Well, without denying the value of this debate, I would say that innerancy is something that I take primarily on faith. I have found that it is NOT illogical and unreasonable to believe innerancy. Furthermore, (and as an existential argument) I would say that my faith greatly benefits from my innerancy-belief. I think it is more faithful to the views of the OT prophets, NT apostles, and CHrist Himself to accept the Bible as innerant.

So, like I have been saying, no one can give undeniable 'proof' that the Bible is innerant, but for those that believe it is, they can be fully justified in that belief.
Again, holding to inerrancy is NOTHING like believing in the tooth fairy. The former can be justified on a rational basis, the latter cannot.

Hence, [trying to get back to your post] I have argued that God is justified to kill the Canaanites for their sin.
You object with a question: Why can't God just kill the Canaanites Himself? Well, you rightly point out the instances in scripture where God does indeed 'take matters into His own hands'. But I still don't see any force to your argument. So, God sometimes uses men to enact His will, sometimes He does it Himself, sometimes He even uses donkeys, - So what?
I'm afraid the argument is non sequitur.

On the issue of free will/divine sovereignty, I will just say that I could very easily take one scripture out of either testaments to exemplify a given situation that 'seems' to explicitly 'proove' either human freedom or divine sovereignty. Both are true but both cannot co-exist in our minds easily at all. It is a classical example of antinomy. Once again I suggest that we could discuss this on another thread.

So little time and so many posts to reply to. [sigh]

I would like to hear back from you Glen....
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
mousetheif,

My response:

You say that the belief that babies are 'innocent' has always been held by the Orthodox church. Just a quick question: Is this the 'institution' with a capital "O", or are you referring to what the Church (universal) has held to?

I will await your answer for that one, but let's get on to the real issue.

If I am interpreting you correctly (forgive me if I am not), you seem to be saying that there is a difference between 'guilt' and 'falleness'. I don't really disagree with you on that, rather I disagree with the conclusion you draw out of that.

True, the ability/disposition to sin cannot be held against someone as guilt. But I would say that the cause(falleness/disposition towards sin) will always lead to the effect (sin itself), and therefore gulit of sin. The bottom line is this: babies go to heaven if they die NOT because they are 'innocent', rather it is because they are not 'accountable'. Further, sin is not something you "do", instead it is a lack of something (i.e. murder is a lack of forgiveness; lying is a lack of truth-telling, etc.)

I really have a problem with your scripture "proof". While it is true that Jesus may very well have been saying that children (under the age of moral-accountability) belong to heaven, it in NO way means that humanity is "ok" with God until a certain age.

Don't ignore the rest of the biblical witness if you want to "proove" something with any piece of it. St. Paul explicitly says that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of GOd."

Humans are born with the "deficiency" of sin. It is an illness. The symptoms are lust, hate, lying, murder,etc, but the illness itself is the reason we are 'spiritually-sick' towards God. This is why the gospel is so freeing. Jesus didn't die and rise so that I wouldn't lust, hate, etc, etc, instead Jesus died and rose so that I would be 'spiritually-healthy'. The symptoms of spiritual health are love, compassion, purity, etc. etc.
The difference is HUGE. So, babies don't necessarily exhibit the symptoms of the illness, but they are infected. They are saved by God, because they are not old enough to choose/reject the cure.

But this thread isn't about original sin, now is it?
 


Posted by Yaffle (# 525) on :
 
Originally posted by Freddy:

quote:
What about Augustine?

---------------------------------------------
“You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.” - Augustine of Hippo, 5th century
---------------------------------------------

It amazes me that anyone could think that the idea of Scripture being the Word of God is a reformation idea. It is stated word for word in both the Old and the New Testament.


Saying that the Word of God extends through Scripture is not the same as saying that Scripture is the Word of God. Augustine's position has been neatly summed up, by J.J. O'Donnell, as follows.

quote:
In this world, this faith is manifest, above all, in Christ. Before Christ there had been intimations, and after him reactions; but Christ himself is the Word of God itself. His incarnation is the central act of revelation. Second to Christ in the worldly order, there is the church, endowed expressly by Christ with the authority of the spirit and, in Christ's absence, designated the arbiter of Christian doctrine. Third in order comes scripture, with the New Testament holding the key for a proper reading of the Old.

This site gives more details of Augustine's position.

In fairness, Freddy, I suspect that your definition of inerrancy and Augustine's view of Scripture are not miles apart. But to suggest that the Reformed view of Scripture as the Word of God and Augustine's view of Scripture as containing or pointing to the Word of God is to confuse two quite distinct view points.
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
IMO scripture must be treated like any other "historical" writing. That is give it the benefit of doubt until proven otherwise.

In a court of law we wouldn't say someone is guilty on the face of a statement but cross examine it with other means.


Very good points, in (IMHO) a very good post, though I agree with the previous post that history does not, in fact, give the benefit of the doubt in this way. But great that you want to approach it in a historical and evaluating way. In that case, I would really REALLY recommend you get hold of the book I rerferred to before 'The Meaning of Jesus'. It's written by NT Wright and Marcus Borg. The former is a moderately conservative and evangelical writer, the latter a more radical one. They have a lot of respect for each other, and put forward their opposing views on who Jesus was, what he did, how he died, what the resurrection was/meant. I'm sure you would really get a lot from it, and it fits the criteria you set out here absolutely perfectly.

quote:
This is all I have tried to say to you and others. If it is a problem with you and your faith instead of reading it at face value try to find out the whole context of it and if you still come to teh same conclusion then you cross that bridge if and whne you get to it.

I think, really, that's what many of us are trying to say to you too. I take the point that Mrs Tubbs makes that people often read what they agree with rather than what they disagree with. Having said that, I was recommended to Wright as someone I (as a liberal) would be able to read without spitting, but who would challenge my views, and I've found that very useful.

The real problem I have with people like Colson and Strobel isn't that they are evangelical, it's that they are not scholars. You need to read people who actually know the arguments and can give you views on them.

You ask at one point for the qualifications of those who are responding to you. I don't want to claim too much for mine, but Readers have a three year training that at least gives us an appreciation of how little we know at the end of it... Maybe it would help if I gave a VERY brief snapshot of some of the basic views of some of the Bible held by the mainstream of academics.

The first five books come from a variety of sources, often contradictory. They were edited together during or after the exile; ie around 500BC, many centuries after the events recorded.

There are two separate main threads of history, the Deuteronomic history and the Chronicler's history, which again record separate traditions, and are not entirely compatible.

None of the gospels were written by apostles, though John may be a source for the gospel which bears his name. They are not independent: Luke and Matthew both drew on (and altered) Mark and another now lost source known as Q. The extent to which John knew the other gospels is debatable.

Paul almost certainly did not write the letters to Timothy or Titus, and may well not have written Colossians or Ephesians. 2 Corinthians is a patchwork of several bits from different letters, though probably all written by Paul.

Peter didn't write 2 Peter and quite probably didn't write 1 Peter. The John who wrote the epistles isn't the John behind the gospel, nor is the John who wrote Revelation.

That, if you like, is the academic mainsteam view of the background in which the debate about the Bible takes place. But given that consensus it's hard to see how or why the Bible would be the inerrant word of God. It's certainly a place where we find God speaking to us, IMO, but it doesn't mean we have to defend every single word as being precisely what God wanted it to be. It just doesn't seem to be that sort of book.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by ekalb

I can't completely answer the question, -'Why did God use the Hebrews to kill a bunch of Canaanites?', But no more than can an 'errantist' answer the scripture references that explicitly declare the unique and flawless quality of the scriptures or Christ's interpretation of the OT as literal and completely authoritative.

I'm NOT saying that there aren't reasonable answers that might support 'errancy' to the above questions, - I know that there are. But I am saying that there are also reasonable answers to support 'innerancy'.


I'm sorry, but I just can't let you get away with this.

You say that you can't find an answer to the question 'Why did God use the Hebrews to kill a bunch of Canaanites?'.

Then you say 'I am saying that there are also reasonable answers to support innerancy'.

You admit to a gap in your reasoning, a point which you just can't answer. Then you insist your argument is reasonable!

You also say 'But no more than can an errantist answer the scripture references that explicitly declare the unique and flawless quality of the scriptures or Christ's interpretation of the OT as literal and completely authoritative.'

You haven't pointed out one single logical flaw in an the 'errantist' argument. There have been 100% rational arguments presented to explain Christ's interpretation of the OT, which you have been unable to refute. But an 'errantist' wouldn't even need to make those arguments, he could just say that it's not rational to try to prove that the Bible is inerrant by using what the the Bible says about itself. That in itself is a rational explanation.

Is your real problem that you don't want to accept that the Bible might have errors, because you think that would damage your faith?
 


Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
quote:

The first five books come from a variety of sources, often contradictory. They were edited together during or after the exile; ie around 500BC, many centuries after the events recorded.

There are two separate main threads of history, the Deuteronomic history and the Chronicler's history, which again record separate traditions, and are not entirely compatible.

None of the gospels were written by apostles, though John may be a source for the gospel which bears his name. They are not independent: Luke and Matthew both drew on (and altered) Mark and another now lost source known as Q. The extent to which John knew the other gospels is debatable.

Paul almost certainly did not write the letters to Timothy or Titus, and may well not have written Colossians or Ephesians. 2 Corinthians is a patchwork of several bits from different letters, though probably all written by Paul.

Peter didn't write 2 Peter and quite probably didn't write 1 Peter. The John who wrote the epistles isn't the John behind the gospel, nor is the John who wrote Revelation.

[/QB]


Have to disagree with you there.

What you say on the first 5 books of the Bible, sounds like the JepD theory. See here for reasons why it is wrong (in my opinion).

The early Church Farthers didn't doubt that the New Testenment was written by whoever (either Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Paul and Jude).

You can see the rest of the site above by cliking here.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Yaffle:
In fairness, Freddy, I suspect that your definition of inerrancy and Augustine's view of Scripture are not miles apart. But to suggest that the Reformed view of Scripture as the Word of God and Augustine's view of Scripture as containing or pointing to the Word of God is to confuse two quite distinct view points.

Hmmm. Maybe I am closer to Augustine's view.

I have stated numerous times that I do not believe in a literal interpretation of Scripture.

I don't think that God Himself really commanded the slaughter of Philistines, or was angry with Israel, or "repented" of having made man.

The Divine Truth is contained within the letter of Scripture. The letter is still holy and Divine, but only because of the truth that lies within it - to be opened, as Jesus opened up many of the laws of Moses, by intelligent and consistent interpretation.

So maybe we agree after all.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

But I understand you to be saying that there is nothing that we could call divine revelation, other than the inspiration that all people may receive from God. Is this right?


Freddy,

I'm saying that when John refers to 'the Word', if he is, in any way, alluding to written revelation (in addittion to refering to Christ), then he is alluding to any and all written divine revelation (and probably to speech and deeds too) and there is no reason to suggest that he treats the Bible as a special category of written revelation.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
there is no reason to suggest that he treats the Bible as a special category of written revelation.

Here I was getting all cozy with you and feeling that we agreed on just about everything...

"No reason to suggest" that John treats the Bible as a special category? This might be true if John did not use the word "logos" elsewhere. But He uses it about twenty more times, in various contexts. It is used over two hundred times in the rest of the gospels.

I would think that the logical way to investigate this would be to look at how John and the other gospel writers used the word "logos" and draw conclusions from this as to what John meant by "logos" in John 1.

In John the word "logos" is used 22 times. Most of these references are to Jesus' own words, as in the phrase, "If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8.31

Five times John makes reference to "His word" or "Thy word," as in "But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, you do not believe" (John 5.38). Several times Jesus identifies His own words with the words of the Father (John 12.49, 14.24, 17.14).

Twice He is referring explicitly to the Hebrew Scriptures: "He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)." John 10.35

In other gospels the "logos" refers even more explicitly to the Law and the Prophets, such as where Jesus criticizes the leadership for making "the word of God of none effect" (Mark 7.13).

So there is not "no reason to suggest" that Jesus and John identified the "word" with the Scriptures. You are correct in saying that the Word in its essence is the Divine Truth, and that this is the real meaning whenever John or any of the other gospel writers use the term. However, they all also specifically identify the term with the Scriptures and the specific words of Jesus.

I am with you in saying that the "Word of God" is something much bigger than can be contained in any book. It is a large concept, and one that shows itself in a variety of ways. But you can't say that John and the other gospel writers do not also identify the Scriptures in a special way with the term.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Have to agree with Mike here. The synopsis of biblical authorship is based on sound historical study, whereas the "rebuttal" linked by gkbarnes is superficial and tendentious.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Well we really aren't far apart. I haven't said that John's meaning when he uses logos is not a reference to divine truth in scripture. I have just said that in his opening paragraph (in the beginning was the word etc.) he uses it to mean Christ not scripture.

Now, possibly he means to play on words identifying Christ with divine truth and in other parts of the gospel he uses logos to refer to the divine truth in scripture. However that doesn't mean he is singling scripture out as a special source of divine truth. Nor is he saying that all of scripture is divine truth. He is just saying that scripture is one of many sources of divine truth, Christ himself being another, the words of God the Father revealed to Jesus being another and the word of God living in mens hearts being another.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Agreed.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Seems fair enough to me!
 
Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by gkbarnes:
Have to disagree with you there.

What you say on the first 5 books of the Bible, sounds like the JepD theory. See here for reasons why it is wrong (in my opinion).

The early Church Farthers didn't doubt that the New Testenment was written by whoever (either Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Paul and Jude).


I didn't say that I agreed with everything I posted... Personally I doubt the theory of Q, and like the idea that Luke worked from Matthew and Mark, but that's a minority view, mainly pushed in the UK by Michael Goulder. I specifically said I was posting the mainstream academic view.

I deliberately didn't put the full JEPD theory either, because that is under attack in academia as well, but not by those who think that the Pentateuch was written by Moses; rather by those who criticise the whole idea of analysing the books into tiny pieces. The idea of multiple sources is still the mainstream, AIUI.

The early fathers did indeed doubt the authorship of books like Revelation and (especially) 2 Peter, that's why they were not used in some churches, and don't appear on some of the lists of books of the Bible until quite close to the canon being decided.

Biblequery is a site which has a particular aim (to defend inerrancy) and does it well. But it doesn't represent mainstream academic Bible study.
 


Posted by gkbarnes (# 1894) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mike Truman:
I didn't say that I agreed with everything I posted...

I apologise for misrepresenting your views on that Mike Truman.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
by bonzo:
quote:
You say that you can't find an answer to the question 'Why did God use the Hebrews to kill a bunch of Canaanites?'.

Then you say 'I am saying that there are also reasonable answers to support innerancy'.

You admit to a gap in your reasoning, a point which you just can't answer. Then you insist your argument is reasonable!



I am SICK (repeat SICK) of your inability to debate my posts properly bonzo!

Your above quote again misrepresents what I was 'actually' saying. It is a straw man argument. STOP IT!

I did not say that I could not answer the question of why God killed the Canaanites through the Hebrew people, rather I said that I could not answer the question "completely". (Do you see the diference?)

There is no "gap" in logic or reason regarding what I said. I am merely admitting what is true for everyone else here: namely, that we are not omniscient.

But not being able to answer every aspect of a given question does not imply that one must be irrational.

Whether you agree with the answers I have given regarding God and the 'genocide' in the book of Joshua or not, at least you should agree that I have given reasoned and logical answers that makes sense. I'm not saying that there aren't other, equally logical answers to the question. Rather I'm saying that an 'innerrantist' can believe in innerrancy and live a valid and justified epistemology.

You claim that 'errantists' can merely point to the 'circular reasoning' (employed by many inerrantists) as proof that inerrantists argue in an unreasoned manner.

Well, despite the fact that I have 'already' answered that on a previous post, here goes:
Circular reasoning cannot be used to identify of confirm a "suspected" or "hypothesized" truth claim. But circular reasoning CAN validly represent a "known" truth claim.
In other words, I can't use circular reasoning to sway you to believe in inerrancy, but I can use it validly to confirm its truth for me. It is not illogical.

Your posts are getting worse, bonzo. Either start arguing properly (by reading my posts and representing my side of the debate truthfully) or I will refuse to reply to your "posts". Frankly, it is a waste of my time right now.
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
Jesus loves you and he likes to kill babies. Please tell me one way that I could trust a God that demands the slaughter of newly born children. That inerrant belief in the Bible has nothing to do with love. In that view, God shows his love by deciding not to kill us. You can go through all of the mental gymnastics that you like to try to justify it, but it won't change the basic information. God allows people to be born inherently evil so that he can be justified in punishing them arbitrarily. I find it terrifying that any human could make the following statement...
quote:
By the way, can you prove that killing, in and of itself, is evil? It is the intent in the heart that turns 'killing' into 'murder'.

I'm killing you because I love you.
Hail Hitler!
 
Posted by Ham 'n' Eggs (# 629) on :
 
I hate to butt into a thread that is sliding nicely into Hell, but I will anyway.

Inerrancy has not been clearly defined on this thread. Most posters appear to be making their own assumptions about it. It is another of those words that mean different things to different people. Choose your own connotations to attach to it to support your personal prejudices against those people whom you perceive to be at the opposite extreme from you. Those of us that gravitate towards the centre will chat amongst ourselves.

A couple of points that are regularly mentioned on the Ship, but appear to be persistently ignored by those with an axe to grind:

Back to the flame-war...
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
OK, so I came out of the gates a bit hot. I will try to say this more calmly. Before I say anything, I want to say that, based on previous discussions, I think ekalb is a nice guy. It's the ideas that he is presenting that I find to be incredible.

I attempted to harmonize an inerrant concept of the Bible for many years (10+). The deeper I dove into the scriptures, the more difficult I found it was to make any sense of it. I don't have a problem with the historical discrepancies, such as, did Judus hang himself or did he fall and spill his guts? What disturbed me was the contradictions and incomprehensibility of some of the key concepts as I understood them at the time. Some of these are:
1. If we are predestined, how can we be held responsible for our actions?
2. How did Jesus save us?
3. Harmonization of the wrath of God and love.
4. Claims that Christians have peace and stop sinning.
5. That an intervening type of God allows evil.
6. That God answers all our prayers if we have the faith of a mustard seed.
7. Expectations for us to achieve perfection.
8. The apparent non-existence of the intervening kind of God.
9. And so on...

There's no need to discuss these topics here. There are other threads for that. Suffice to say, I think that some of these concepts are irreconcilable without driving a person's brain towards insanity. My brain felt thoroughly pickled while trying to maintain these paradoxes.

Whatever you do, please don't say that God intended the Israelites to go and kill the Mama's and the babies. If you are going to stick to inerrancy, say that you don't understand it and that it doesn't make sense. Say that something got messed up in the translation. Say that there is some key information left out. But don't say it's good for God to command people to wipe out entire nations including women, children and animals because they aren't good enough or because they needed to be killed to make way for Jesus.

If you are going to stick to the idea that God intended genocide, then admit that God is an imperfect lover. It's easy to bring up the original sin issue, but it doesn't solve anything. If we are sinful from birth, unable to avoid evil, how can God judge us for that? How can we be judged for something beyond our control? That would be like punishing a child for not being able to do calculus. That God is so obsessed about sin and judgment that his love is obliterated. It's possible that God is like that, but I don't trust him to take care of me, my wife or my kids.

The Bible is a collection of many books of varied levels of (in?)errancy. Don't force people to throw out the whole book for the sake of keeping one or two of the nastiest passages.

Freehand
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
elkab,

If I have misrepresented your arguments then I unresevedly apologise. Perhaps I should explain:

You say.

quote:

I did not say that I could not answer the question of why God killed the Canaanites through the Hebrew people, rather I said that I could not answer the question "completely". (Do you see the diference?)

I do see the difference. The same difference exists in the following statement.

I was not able to jump over the river.
I was not able to jump over the river completely.

To say that in both sentences the person was not able to jump over the river, is correct.

You have used some rational argument to arrive at the point you have reached but you now face an impass, a gap in logical reason which you cannot resolve. You put this down to not being able to fully understand the mind of God (maybe God somehow did it out of love, in God's way of thinking which we can't hope to understand) and say you need faith to bridge the gap.

But you are missing the obvious! What if your argument is wrong???

'Errantists' have conducted the same exercise of logic and not reached an impass.

I will continue to call genocide 'genocide', because that's what it is, no matter whether it's done by a creator or not.

If you say that it's God's right to do it, I will still call it genocide.

The fact is that even if you could have known the mind of God when (you say) he insighted these dreadful acts of genocide, it is impossible that any God could do this without being cruel. There isn't another explanation.

If God did it then God was cruel.

It would be cruel if I cut the feet off my hypothetical hamster which I myself had created, because the hamster will suffer
My being it's creator does not matter, the poor little thing would suffer and if you saw me doing it you would call me sadistic.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
freehand and bonzo,

First off, thank-you for your apology bonzo (as far as I am concerned, all is forgiven. I hope you will forgive my impatience in the last post).

by freehand:

quote:
Whatever you do, please don't say that God intended the Israelites to go and kill the Mama's and the babies. If you are going to stick to inerrancy, say that you don't understand it and that it doesn't make sense. Say that something got messed up in the translation. Say that there is some key information left out. But don't say it's good for God to command people to wipe out entire nations including women, children and animals because they aren't good enough or because they needed to be killed to make way for Jesus.



Freehand, I know where you're coming from. It's not like the slaughter of women and children in Joshua is some kind of cold, historical fact to me. I wish to God that it didn't ever happen; just like I wish to God that the Holocaust and Sept.11 never happened. Of course, the diference here is that the 'genocide' in Joshua is attributed to God's will.

So what do I do with it? Well, I think that I have shown that to beleive that God enacted 'divine punishment' upon the Canaanite tribes is reasonable and justified for anyone who would believe it. But I still have to live this 'belief' out, right? Sure, it may protect my innerancy-doctrine, but what does it do to my relationship with GOd? Can I trust Him, who kills women and children?

These are real questions that I have had to work through. But I think that it would be wrong for me to extract one quality of God (i.e. love, or compassion) at the expense of the other qualities of God.

The same scriptures that say that "GOd is love" also say that "God is a consuming fire".

Now I believe that God is perfect. I also believe that God gave men free moral choice and reason. HUmans rebelled against the perfect God and I believe that humanity is responsible for humanities suferrings.

I gave the analogy before that goes like this:

Bob owes you ten dollars. If you demand that ten dollars back, you are justified to do so because it is Bob who owes you. But if you choose to forgive Bob's debt instead, then you are also justified.


I'm not trying to get 'preachy' here, but I want to show that to believe in a God of love, doesn't mean you have to 'sacrifice' God's justice. He is both love and justice.-That's what makes Him perfect.

Freehand/bonzo, if you guys are struggling with a God who claims to be love and yet does things that can seem so cold sometimes, I recommned that you read Habukkuk. He is known as the "doubting prophet". He questions God's goodness. Also I highly recommend Psalm 73. It is a beautiful description of a believer who struggles with God's love and justice.
Also, I encourage you to look to Jesus' death in the gospels. In Jesus, we see a God who (because of His holiness and perfection must set right the wrongs we have made) but He doesn't stay in His 'ivory tower', rather He comes down to suffer "for" us.

let me know what you think......

PS - sorry for such a "personal" post, but I thought it might help.
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
Blake (ekalb), thanks for a calm response.
quote:
Freehand, I know where you're coming from. It's not like the slaughter of women and children in Joshua is some kind of cold, historical fact to me. I wish to God that it didn't ever happen.

Well, I'm relieved to hear that.
quote:
Well, I think that I have shown that to believe that God enacted 'divine punishment' upon the Canaanite tribes is reasonable and justified for anyone who would believe it.

I think that the only person that you have convinced is yourself and other people that are already emotionally invested in the idea. The "divine" genocide of the Canaanites is neither reasonable nor justified. The concept is so far removed from sanity and love that many of us cannot comprehend it.

Your conclusions are based upon the presupposition that the Bible is inerrant. If that assumption results in something ridiculous (God sanctioned baby killing), then perhaps it is time to revisit those assumptions.

What would happen if the Bible is not perfect? Would the world fall apart? Would God be offended? Would we go to hell? I recommend that you pursue the opposite side of the argument. God can take the heat. God is big enough to bear the scrutiny. He won't be intimidated or offended. If God corresponds to the truth, then the truth will be shown wherever we search honestly. The arms of Grace can reach us all, even agnostics like me. Thank God I'm agnostic!

Take care and have fun,
God be with you (if He exists),

Freehand
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
Oh yeah, I will check into the passages you mentioned. Thanks.
 
Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
Darn! I came out with both guns blazing again. I don't take anything back, but please understand that this is just my opinion. It's conceivable that I could be wrong.

Ekalb, thanks for your personal sharing. It does help. May God be with you in your search to understand the love and justice of God. Meanwhile, I will be on my search for the possible existence of the God. I am glad that our paths have crossed.

Freehand
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

Many thanks for your forgiveness.

I totally agree with Freehand's posts and I too will check out the passages you mentioned.

May I suggest that if Bob owes you ten dollars and you know that by demanding it back it will put him in dire financial need, that it is wrong to demand it back.

I would like to point out my real concern, the real reason why I find the position you have taken up such a problem.

It seems to me that over the centuries people have justified horrendous acts of violence, and cruelty, by using the argument that it was God's will. No, I'm not saying that you do this, but if your ideas prevail, it allows such people to get away with using those ideas as a legitimate explanation of their evil deeds.

Furthermore if your ideas prevail, and are generally understood by people to be the standard views of Christians, it allows people to justifiably call us a crackpot religion. It stands in the way of those people ever coming to God.

Now I'm not saying that just because ideas can be misused it makes those ideas wrong. What I am saying is that there are some very good reasons why you should want to accept that the Bible contains errors. There is much to be gained for the furtherance of the Kingdom, if the Bible is understood to contain truth, but not be inerrant.

Once, many years ago now, like Freehand, I held the view that the Bible was inerrant. I was the only one in my Biology class at school who spoke out against the theory of evolution. I'm afraid I wasn't a very good advert for Christ. I changed my views for the same reasons as Freehand changed his.

So where am I now? In a word: liberated. Free to get on with God's work. Free to understand God in whatever way I can. Free to believe in a God of love who never stops loving. Free to tell warmongers that they are wrong. etc.

Come on in. The water's lovely!

God be with you (He does exist IMO)
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
Bob owes you ten dollars. If you demand that ten dollars back, you are justified to do so because it is Bob who owes you. But if you choose to forgive Bob's debt instead, then you are also justified.

But are you justified in killing Bob? Part of the problem with the way that God's justice is portrayed is that the punishments are out of all proportion to the crime. So some of these Amalekites are a bit loose in the sexual mores? Slaughter the lot of them! They worship the wrong god? Kill them all! Frankly, this is not justice.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
The most common definition of inerrancy would appear to be the belief that the Scriptures in their original text (which of course we do not have available to us) were without error. This view of inerrancy appears to be subscribed to by a majority of Evangelicals.

Oh, I like it! An assertion which cannot be tested in any way because these original texts have conveniently disappeared. But that would seem to allow that God took care to deliver an inerrant scripture to mankind, but didn't bother protecting it from becoming corrupted.
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
quote:
Part of the problem with the way that God's justice is portrayed is that the punishments are out of all proportion to the crime.

That is exactly my problem with the slaughter of the Canaanites. I can understand punishment, but not when it far outstrips the original sin.

And that was my problem with the concept of hell as eternal punishment by God for finite sins. I lived in fear every day. Agnosticism was my salvation.

The only way eternal punishment can be justified is if people are born infinitely bad but that is problematic too. Why would a loving God punish something that people have no control over?

The Bible is quite vague on hell in that the concept of hell is buried within parables and symbolic visions. No need to pursue that tangent here unless we want to discuss the literalistic + inerrant view of scripture.

Freehand
 


Posted by jasonc (# 2425) on :
 
Lot's of talk here about God and genocide in Joshua and how we as Christiams should interpret this. Surely the first thing we need to consider is who the author is. Though this is something we don't know, we do know that the author conceived God as being fully involved in history, indeed how people relate to God and the perfection of the performance of God's Commandments effects history. This is surely a way of understanding the world at that time and culture. The question now, is do we conceive of God the same way as the author did, do we make sense of our world in the same way? I would suggest not, though there may be similarities we are of a different time with different tools (science, philosophy, sociology, psychology etc etc)for understanding ourselves and our world.
 
Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
freehand/bonzo/everyone else,

sorry guys. I've been rather busy these last few days and just now am able to respond.

I was just about to talk about something when I saw that jasonc has already touched on it.

I, myself, am appalled at the slaughters in the bible. Even though I think GOd is justified in them. It's a tension in my faith. But I don't think that I can 'overstate' the very real diference in 'quality' between God as 'Creator' and us as 'creation'. My emotions aside (not that they are unimportant), I cannot judge GOd as if He were a human. It would be wrong for a human to kill someone just because they have been wronged by them - WHY? because only GOd as "MAKER" has the unique perogative to "UN-MAKE" anything.

God isn't sinning when He slaughters people who have sinned against Him. If GOd did not punish them (which would violate His MANY promises to judge humanity) then God could be called 'unjustified' in His actions.
The old 'Well, GOd is love, right?' answer just is too shallow to fit reality. I suggest that if your definition of love is to allow the loved one to get away with wrongs just because you wouldn't want to 'upset' them, then maybe you should try to redefine love. I think love involves discipline and punishment. My parents disciplined and punished me when I was younger. Not because it 'felt right', but because their love for me (a true love) desired my "long-time" good over my "short-time" pain of punishment.
Love compels us to want the loved one to be the best they can be. In GOd's case, God wants us to be the morally best that we can be. If that means that He will cause us pain (in the short-term) for a long-term gain then I see His love all the more. (read 1Cor.13 again- "love delights in the truth...delights in righteouseness, but hates sin")
Now if your like me, you are wondering how a slaughter of a particular Canaanite tribe could discipline them? Well, I can't give an answer that fully satisfies that, but I do know that God does everything out of His desire to see good in His creation. The bible, on a side note, doesn't deny the apparant paradox between God's love and the apparantly 'ruthless' acts of God. (Job, Jeremiah, etc.) ANd again, He has the final say in who, how, and when humans die. God doesn't have to 'clear' things with us if He will do something. He does ask us to 'trust' HIm and His goodness though.- the theme of Habukukk and ps.73 for two recent examples.
For some (like me), this is enough. For others (whoever you are), the answer doesn't 'cut it'.

It is not like there is an easy answer to any of this, but I might say that I have 'weathered' the storms of doubts and problems that go along with being an inerrantist and I don't feel hindered or constrained by the doctrine at all. Rather, I feel very liberated by it. Sure, I can't "completely" answer all the 'hard passages' in scripture, but I see God's love in HIs 'gift' of an inerrant 'book'. I'm not naive enough to think that the bible is 'perfect' in its description of scientific matters or in every historical variable.- THat wasn't its purpose.
My view is that God inspired certain humans to write "revealed" knowledge regarding GOd or His will. I don't think GOd used "human typewriters". He didn't control every letter, instead He used the level of knowledge that the individual had, along with the individual personality to communicate inerrant truths.

Circularly reasoned as it is, inerrancy is far more faithful to the overall teaching on scripture/revealed knowledge within the bible. I'm glad that I know that the scriptures are God's truth (not 'this part' or 'that part' of it). I am guided by its completetly authoritative teachings and continually (and this may be the most important part) challenged and 'pierced' by it. The scriptures hit me on a very real level that I have never experienced elsewhere.

I can be accused of being closeminded, but I 'know' this to be true.

May God correct me if I am wrong.

PS - forgive yet another 'personal' post. I have been guilty of horrible grammar and sloppy argumentation on this one. But my point, which is of the highest importance, still comes through. - I hope
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
I have to disagree with you there. When God gave us consciences, I think he intended us to use them. If something is cruel, it's cruel, and it doesn't matter who does it. If it right for God to unmake his creation just because his creation doesn't understand or agree with his place in the world, it would be right for parents to kill their children for minor misdemeanors.

I can say that I believe that it is right for us to "judge God" because I also believe that God is such that He could never be judged adversely, because doing evil is not in His nature. Therefore - any report that God has done evil things is, to my mind, a false report. If I see in the newspaper a report that things fall upwards in Trinidad, what is my reaction? To believe that gravity doesn't work in Trinidad (because it says so in the newspaper)? Or to disbelieve the newspaper because I know that things can't fall upwards?
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

I think your last post comes the closest we are going to get to your admitting that there is a logical gap in your argument.

Your premise that it is wrong for us to 'judge God' is IMO an illogical statement for reasons which I have outlined previously and to which you still have provided no conradicting response. Furthermore I fail to see how the people who chose which books should comprise the canon, could have excluded any texts, if they didn't 'judge God' in exactly the way you are saying men should not.

Do you consider the apocrypha to be inerrant?

Cruelty is cruelty because of the suffering it causes, not because of the nature of the perpetrator. If it can be shown that sufferring could be avioded, as is clearly the case in the passages from Joshua, then to inflict that suffering is cruel.

You say that 'inerrancy is far more faithful to the overall teaching on scripture/revealed knowledge within the bible.', but IMO the picture of a developing understanding of God, by man, leaps out of the pages of the Bible. As the theology emerges through the OT to the NT, the Bible becomes more consistent with the picture of God we know today because mankind's understanding of God has developed.

This has to be a more consistent picture because it doesn't encounter the problems that, you admit, inerrancy does.

I question your wisdom in weathering 'the storms of doubt and problems that go along with the problems of being an inerrantist'. I would, once again, invite you to ask yourself why you have started with the premise of inerrancy in the first place? What does it gain you? What will you lose if you choose a different premise?

It seems to me that you percieve the inerrancy of the Bible to be of such high importance that you have elevated the men who wrote it, and the men who compiled it to the status of God. IMO this is both unwise and unjustified.
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
ekalb, I like your personal posts. No apology required.
quote:
Circularly reasoned as it is, inerrancy is far more faithful to the overall teaching on scripture/revealed knowledge within the bible. I'm glad that I know that the scriptures are God's truth (not 'this part' or 'that part' of it). I am guided by its completely authoritative teachings and continually (and this may be the most important part) challenged and 'pierced' by it. The scriptures hit me on a very real level that I have never experienced elsewhere.

It sounds like you have a living and dynamic faith. Now I've got a different question for you.

Let's say the Bible is internally consistent in every respect (not that I think it is). It's not difficult to come up with hundreds of different internally consistent religious systems. Internal consistency does not at all guarantee that a system is correct. On what basis do you believe that the Bible is inerrant?

Is it because a bunch of guys got together in a room and argued about which books should be in the Bible? Some books barely made it in while other books barely slipped out. These many pieces of manuscript are thrown together in one binding and it is assumed that it is one book that is 100% inspired. Everything else is less than inspired. It just seems so unlikely to me that there aren't a few glitches with such a huge compendium of books written by so many people over such a long time, translated several times from ancient languages.

So, why do you believe that the Bible is inerrant? Is it an assumption? If the assumption results in some weird ideas, then perhaps it is time to revisit the assumption.

I'm not saying that you have to see it my way. I'm just suggesting that you get both sides of the story. You've given a lot of energy to the inerrant side of the issue. Why not look at the inspired-but-not-perfect side of the spectrum? Then, after giving both sides a fair shake, you can decide on the truth without being biased by presuppositions.

Like I said before, God won't wack you. He loves you and is happy for you to look into things. He's not afraid of questions. He's big enough to take it. It isn't doubting God to doubt the Bible (unless the Bible=God). When you search for the truth openly and honestly, you will find it. If God corresponds to the truth, then you will find Him. Look in new places and find Him smiling in places that you never expected. I just can't believe that God is uptight about everyone believing in the Bible word-for-word without error.

It's comforting (and disturbing) to know exactly that the Bible is perfect and that there won't be some weird thing that's going to mess stuff up. However, I don't think life is that simple. If you aren't ready for this approach, that's fine. You will get into it sooner or later (or not). Just keep on loving people and don't tell them that God likes to kill babies.

Have a good day,

Freehand
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
I feel an analogy with Goedel's Theorem coming on ...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freehand:
It's comforting (and disturbing) to know exactly that the Bible is perfect and that there won't be some weird thing that's going to mess stuff up. However, I don't think life is that simple. If you aren't ready for this approach, that's fine.

I would think, in this day and age, that the more difficult thing would be to believe that there is actually such a thing as divine revelation.

Not that divine revelation would produce a Bible that is literally accurate in all its details, but that God would give, and miraculously preserve, a Bible that faithfully communicates what He wishes to communicate.

Can a reasonable person not believe that?
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
To believe that, you have to answer to yourself why God would choose to make His message so obscure, ambiguous, and padded out with extraneous material.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
To believe that, you have to answer to yourself why God would choose to make His message so obscure, ambiguous, and padded out with extraneous material.

This isn't that hard. God always operates as though He doesn't exist. People are completely free to believe in Him or not.

There is nothing wrong with examining the evidence and drawing your own conclusions. It just seems reasonable to me to postulate the existence of a supernatural God who is able to make the Bible happen - by apparently natural means (except, of course, for the miracles, revelations, etc.).

As for the message being obscure, ambiguous, and padded out with extraneous material, I see this as a device which allows a very sophisticated and divine message to be imparted to, and by means of, a primitive, unsophisticated, and even wicked population.

To my mind the symbolic and obscure nature of the Bible is an absolutely brilliant device, enabling God to reach into a spiritually dark world, and pull it into the light.

When I look at the alternatives to this idea, and there are many reasonable alternatives, I simply do not find them to be as adequate. In my opinion, adequacy is everything.
 


Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
There is much to be gained for the furtherance of the Kingdom, if the Bible is understood to contain truth, but not be inerrant.

[/QB]


Sorry to single you out Bonzo - I don't mean to in particular but it's just that the little segment above which I have brutally prised out of it's original context points towards a problem and a question I would direct to all those who would espouse an 'errantist' position:if the Bible is merely a book which 'contains truth', then who arbitrates which bits are truth and which are not, and by what right? If you are arguing that it all comes down to individual conscience or something similar(which bits are truth and which are not), then to my mind
this is a recipe for anarchic relativism in interpreting scripture.

I think that the problem a lot of us who espouse an inerrantist (as opposed to literalist - there is a difference) position have with accommodating varying degrees of 'errancy'is that once you call into question the inerrancy point, that begs a whole load of other questions - is scripture divinely inspired (and if so, to what extent), can we trust God, which bits of scripture can we trust and how/why (see above) etc. So, those of you who don't like the nasty parts of scripture (and FWIW I don't like them either!)and how they affect your image of God, please remember also that we have a whole host of problems and 'issues' with an 'errantist' position likewise.

Sorry, don't know whether that takes the discussion forward at all - just thought I'd stick my oar in!

Yours in Christ

Matt
 


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
a problem and a question I would direct to all those who would espouse an 'errantist' position:if the Bible is merely a book which 'contains truth', then who arbitrates which bits are truth and which are not, and by what right? If you are arguing that it all comes down to individual conscience or something similar(which bits are truth and which are not), then to my mind
this is a recipe for anarchic relativism in interpreting scripture.

I think that the problem a lot of us who espouse an inerrantist (as opposed to literalist - there is a difference) position have with accommodating varying degrees of 'errancy'is that once you call into question the inerrancy point, that begs a whole load of other questions - is scripture divinely inspired (and if so, to what extent), can we trust God, which bits of scripture can we trust and how/why (see above) etc. So, those of you who don't like the nasty parts of scripture (and FWIW I don't like them either!)and how they affect your image of God, please remember also that we have a whole host of problems and 'issues' with an 'errantist' position likewise.


Sorry, Matt, but your proposed inerrant but not literal position inherently faces the same challenge - which parts are literal and which parts are not?

Any position, whether you wish to label it errant or inerrant faces the same challenge - if not all parts are of the same nature, how do you determine which nature a given part is.

Some points are easy - Song of Solomon being poetry for instance, rather than history.

Some points are hard - for instance, the Gospels disagree on the exact form of a given teaching. We clearly have to take one version, and we can't just take the one that seems "right" or is more liberal/less liberal - I think that any of these end up being personal judgements. One may have one's own consistent frame of reference, put to prove it is more correct than another is, frankly, close to impossible.

Positing errant versus inerrant is merely a smoke-screen. Indeed, where does one become the other? Simply the adoption of a self-defined label of "I believe the Bible to be Spiritually without error", which seems to be the difference, doesn't fill me with much confidence as to either being anything other than badge-wearing. What is "spiritual" and what is not? What is the hallmark of "spiritually inspired" even? If you don't have a definition, it's meaningless.

I'd rather (perhaps being cussedly contrary) take the view the other way about. Anything short of literalism seems to in fact rather resonate with Henry James's oft quoted phrase "Excellence does not require perfection.". If the Bible isn't simply a literal handbook, then that doesn't stop it being a lodestone, and whether you project onto that property "errancy" or "inerrancy" seems irrelevant.

FWIW, I don't see myself as errantist or inerrantist; whatever label you happen to be in love with, you still need to interpret the Bible, you still have to determine and live out your response to it, and you're still going to have to take responsibility to God and his people as to the course of your discipleship.

Oh well, must bale out of an incomplete post...
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
a problem and a question I would direct to all those who would espouse an 'errantist' position:if the Bible is merely a book which 'contains truth', then who arbitrates which bits are truth and which are not[?]

The Church.

quote:
and by what right?

Because the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Because the keys to the kingdom were given to the Apostles and their spiritual heirs, the bishops. Because it is the body of Christ on earth.

This, anyway, is what the Orthodox might reply to such questions.

Reader Alexis
spam spam spam spam Orthodox guy spam spam and spam
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
The Church...
This, anyway, is what the Orthodox might reply to such questions.

Good answer. Although I might disagree with individual interpretations, this at least imposes some kind of order on the understanding of Scripture.

As a Swedenborgian I would say that "who arbitrates which bits are truth and which are not" are the voluminous writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, which Swedenborgians take to be divine revelation - and therefore inerrant themselves.

Without either confidence in the church or some further revelation as arbiter, however, the question of who decides what is true is a pretty sticky one.
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
As a Swedenborgian I would say that "who arbitrates which bits are truth and which are not" are the voluminous writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, which Swedenborgians take to be divine revelation - and therefore inerrant themselves.

Are there ever disagreements about what some particular statement of Swedenborg means? If so how are THESE decided?

Not meaning to be divisive, but nonetheless inquisitive.

Reader Alexis
a far from infallible Orthodox guy

[ 30 April 2002: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
I think I should clarify my position a little better.

Yes, I am an 'inerrantist'. No, I don't believe that the Bible is to be interpreted in a 'word-for-word-literal-approach'.

I acknowledge that the Bible was written in specific cultures and times and genres which makes necessary the skill of hermenutics.

Is there any special 'aura' that surrounds the Bible? -No Does being a Christian automatically make you able to rightly interpret scripture? -No

For freehand and Bonzo (and whoever else), I would like to say that I am not as naive regarding the complexities and problems of inerrancy as maybe you think. I have studied the 'history' of the Bible. I realize that it wasn't just 'zapped' into the hands of believers. Rather it was written over a period of 1500 years, with over 40 authors, being scrutinized and questioned before acceptance into the cannon which we now know. -Not very pretty is it? But for those who because of the above realities find it hard to believe, I want to suggest that God is not 'efficient'. quickness or neatness aren't described as necessary properties of perfection. Maybe this helps, maybe it doesn't; regardless, there it is.

I don't think that I will try to defend the Joshua 'genocide' again. It seems that both sides of the debate have said their due. I will just say that I do believe in a GOd who loves and (for freehand) a GOd who doesn't like to kill babies (I hope you realize that I never tried to justify a God who 'likes' to kill babies. Rather I attempted to justify a God who, because of the perogatives of being God, can take the lives of sinful humans without being a sadistic or malevolant being.) By the way, YOu are absolutely Right-On about God 'wanting' us to seek the Truth even if it means doubting the bible or His goodness. I couldn't agree more!

I do accept inerrancy on many assumptions. I have tested those assumptions and feel satisfied in their validity (I'm not denying the reality of lingering problems, though).

I think that I have been very reasonable and logical in attempting to defend inerrancy. I am honest about the reality that I take inerrancy 'primarily' on faith (I think that some 'errantists' have yet to realize that they base their arguments on many 'beliefs' as well).

I have to go, but maybe I will come back and attempt to further clarify what I define as inerrancy.
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
quote:
...and (for freehand) a God who doesn't like to kill babies (I hope you realize that I never tried to justify a God who 'likes' to kill babies.

I know. I was just teasing. My hyperbolistic tendencies were taking over. If I have offended you, I apologize.
quote:
I think that I have been very reasonable and logical in attempting to defend inerrancy.

You have been more than kind.

Freehand
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Are there ever disagreements about what some particular statement of Swedenborg means? If so how are THESE decided?

There are. But fortunately Swedenborg is remarkably consistent and systematic. Most disagreements are solved fairly easily by competent scholars. There are inevitably some issues that remain points of disagreement, but they are few and minor. There is no particular means for deciding them, other than scholarship. The church hierarchy does not make pronouncements.

I don't know how many other religious systems work this way - relying on some defined body of doctrine that is seen as authoritative. Unfortunately their systems are only useful within their own body of believers.

I tend to see Christianity as a whole as in the difficult situation of having issues that can't be resolved outside of an authoritative church hierarchy and tradition, or some further revelation. These are both helpful, but only within the scope of those particular organizations. They do not provide credible answers for Christian scholars who have a broader focus, such as N.T. Wright, Marcus Borg, or John Crossan.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Matt Black

if the Bible is merely a book which 'contains truth', then who arbitrates which bits are truth and which are not, and by what right?


I don't think it's necessary or desirable for any human to arbitrate which bits are truth or not. We should think for ourselves, because that provides the most fertile ground for the furtherance of the Kingdom.

The moment someone starts saying you must believe this of that without it being open to rational examination you will find thinking people will have nothing to do with the church.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
Ekalb,
thanks for your postings, their integrity and for the personal touch to them too. Frustratingly for me I am so pressed for time at the moment I have only time to catch up with this thread and post this short note. I will try to give my non-inerrantist equivalent soon.

As to a definition of inerrancy THE CHICAGO STATEMENT ON BIBLICAL INERRANCY can be found at this site just go to Bible and you'll find it: Center for reformed theology and apologetics I think people like Packer and John Wenham et al were involded in this.

Finally, seeing that you are from Canada brought to mind something I heard years ago about a radio announcer there who said: "this is the Canadian Broadcorping Castration." An absolute gem!
Glenn
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
THE CHICAGO STATEMENT ON BIBLICAL INERRANCY

I've briefly scanned this site. On the face of it, it seems to be doing what inerrantists throughout the ages have done, which is to state that the Bible is inerrant, without offering one reasoned argument for why it should be so.

It then goes on to say that if you question the inerrancy of scripture that you are being disloyal to God!

I have rarely seen any more deliberately misleading or offensive document in my life!
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
I've briefly scanned this site. On the face of it, it seems to be doing what inerrantists throughout the ages have done, which is to state that the Bible is inerrant, without offering one reasoned argument for why it should be so.

Reasons? You need stinking REASONS?! What kind of Christian are you?!

Reader Alexis
tongue-in-cheek Orthodox guy
 


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
On reviewing this thread, I can't see much (indeed anything) which defines what is "theological" or "spiritual" which can be easily separated from "the rest" of the Bible - any takers on the inerrantist side?

Phrases such as "theologically inerrant" are meaningless unless some semantics are placed upon them - I don't think we have many literalists here, but if the Bible isn't purely made of "theologically inerrant" stuff, how do I tell the difference?
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
God always operates as though He doesn't exist. People are completely free to believe in Him or not.

Nice one! Except they go to Hell if they exercise their freedom of choice not to believe in Him.

What you are saying, as I understand it, is that the Bible is deliberately obscure so that people can ignore it if they like. Even, in fact, to encourage people to ignore it, so that only a few dedicated souls will take the time and trouble to search and find all the helpful material contained therein. This is teasing behaviour. Einstein famously remarked that God does not play dice. Perhaps crossword puzzles are more His style?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
Nice one! Except they go to Hell if they exercise their freedom of choice not to believe in Him. ?

Except that hell in this system is not divinely imposed eternal punishment, but merely the intrinsic happiness or unhappiness associated with various loves and behaviors.

quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
What you are saying, as I understand it, is that the Bible is deliberately obscure so that people can ignore it if they like. Even, in fact, to encourage people to ignore it, so that only a few dedicated souls will take the time and trouble to search and find all the helpful material contained therein. This is teasing behaviour. Einstein famously remarked that God does not play dice. Perhaps crossword puzzles are more His style?

I have never heard this described as teasing behavior. That's good. Good point! A picture of God emerges as the player of a giant game with humanity, fooling and fiddling with us at every turn. I agree that this seems a little on the devious side and would be inconsistent with what we know of God. Maybe not quite on the order of killing babies...

Let's review the alternatives:
1. There is no God.
2. There is a God, but He is unable to communicate with humanity.
3. There is a God, and He is able to communicate with humanity, but He does it obscurely, and it is received differently by people according to various factors.
4. There is a God, and He communicates clearly with humanity.

I vote for 4! But if the Bible doesn't match your definition of "clear," then which would you go for?

Many Bible statements refer to the obscurity of the divine message - notably repeated references to Isaiah 6.9 in response to the disciples' question about Jesus' use of parables (Matthew 13.14, Mark 4.12, Luke 8.10). Is this teasing behavior? It does sound like it.

My thought is that it is like the answers that people give to the questions of children, when they know that the children aren't old enough or in the right frame of mind to understand the answer.

Fortunately, we have the promise in John 16 that this kind of information will not always be presented so obscurely. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language. But the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father." John 16.25

I think that is a pretty interesting prediction, and goes some way toward admitting to the truth of what you are saying!
 


Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
(Responding to gbuchanan and Mousethief)

Gbuchanan - re: inerrant vs literalist - I agree with you that similar dilemmas of 'sifting' apply...up to a point: I think that the main difference is that with determining which parts are literal and which are poetry, metaphorical, symbolic etc we have a wealth of Biblical scholarship, commentaries, teaching sources etc from which to draw, whereas with determining which parts are inerrant, it seems to boil down to a matter of personal opinion eg: "I don't like this bit so it must be a mistake/ God didn't mean it to be there or if He did then He got it wrong" (at least that's the way it seems from some of the posts on this thread); I accept that archaeology and historical research should also assist but they are in part evolving sciences. I don't accept that personal opinion alone is a valid criterion upon which to judge scripture
- IMHO it should be the opinion of the Church....which brings me on to...

Mousethief - I agree wholeheartedly with you that it is the Church that should interpret scripture - BUT - that then leads us onto the sticky problem of defining the Church. (We've had that out on the ecumenism and deciding doctrine threads, passim, and I guess you would say that it's the Orthodox Church, by and large, and I guess I'd disagree with you on that point, by and large!)

What I was trying to say is that just as you guys who to a greater or lesser extent subscribe to some form of errancy have problems with and require us to defend an inerrantist stance, so equally does your position create problems for us re trustworthiness, divine input etc. So far I have not seen those concerns adequately addressed...over to you!

Yours in Christ

Matt
What I was trying to point out
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Matt:

Well said that no matter which way you slice it, it's fraught with difficulties. There is no easy solution to any of the problems life poses: and finding (and hewing to) the "right" solution requires both shrewdness of thought and childlike innocence.

You probably don't want to know my definition of "Church."

Reader Alexis
innocent as a serpent and shrewd as a child Orthodox guy
 


Posted by Our Saviour Tortoise (# 2742) on :
 
I don't know about the rest of you, but if to believe the Bible I have to believe that God really told Joshua to kill all the men, women and children, and hamstring the animals too, then I'm outta here!
 
Posted by 'Chorister (# 473) on :
 
Welcome OST - I reckon the bible would make more sense if the details are treated with a pinch of salt, and the overall messages are sought out, in the manner of Aesop's fables (eg. the hare and the Tortoise )- find the message in the myth. Perhaps if this attitude towards the bible was given official recognition more people might read and take notice of it. As it is, most people seem to say 'I don't believe it literally, therefore it has no meaning, therefore I won't bother to read it.' What a shame.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Our Saviour Tortoise:
I don't know about the rest of you, but if to believe the Bible I have to believe that God really told Joshua to kill all the men, women and children, and hamstring the animals too, then I'm outta here!

I'm sure that almost everyone here agrees with that.

The question is whether this then defeats all the Bible's claims to divine authorship. Or is there a way around this problem that leaves divine authorship intact?
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:

Let's review the alternatives:
1. There is no God.
2. There is a God, but He is unable to communicate with humanity.
3. There is a God, and He is able to communicate with humanity, but He does it obscurely, and it is received differently by people according to various factors.
4. There is a God, and He communicates clearly with humanity.

I vote for 4!


I vote for 3. If God REALLY wanted to communicate with us clearly, we would have no doubt about his meaning. Rather like Terry Pratchett's gods on Dunmanifestin', to say 'God wants to kill babies' would result in the clouds above us forming the message 'Oh no he doesn't, sunshine'.

In fact I'd go so far as to say that IMHO 4 can't logically be correct. Since there is so much confusion amongst Christians as to what the Bible DOES mean, and since even those who support a literal or inerrant view tend to agree that there are difficult passages in it, surely it follows that for one reason or another God has not chosen to communicate with us clearly?

If God had chosen a clear and 'inerrant' method of communication:
- there would only have been one version of the Bible preserved
- there would only be one gospel
- there would be no peculiar doublets in the Pentateuch
- there would be instructions that meant nothing to the writers but which were perfectly clear to us: eg 'when a world leader rises some 1900 years after my Son's death and tries to persecute my people the Jews, you are to prevent him from gaining power'. And no, strange interpretations of Daniel and Revelation don't count...

And so on. The logical choice for a believer is surely 3. God chooses not to communicate with us clearly and directly because that isn't the relationship he wants with us. When my daughter was 6 I told her what to do. Now she's 16, most of the time I try to reason with her...
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Look at it this way.

If you say the Bible is the complete authority, completely inerrant, you elevate the writers and compilers up to the status of God. Which is wrong.

If you then say that the church is the complete authority on the Bible, deciding which bits are wrong and which bits are right you elevate the Church to the status of God. Which is wrong.

If you say that an individual's conscience is the authority then you elevate the conscience of the individual to the status of God. Which is wrong.

So what you have to say is that nothing is inerrant apart from God himself. To seek God's way we need to read the Bible, listen to the Church and listen to our own consciences. However after doing all that and giving it our most honest shot, we cannot say with certainty that we will always be right so we must never be too dogmatic.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
It would be hard to put it better than Mike has done above.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
OK. I guess you are right. I change my vote to 3.

Well said, Mike!
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
I had a big realization last night. Many people accept beliefs based on what seems to work or make sense to them rather than based on an objective basis. For example, some people might accept inerrancy because they see God working in the lives of people around them that also accept inerrancy. They look and belief system resulting from an inerrant assumption and it mostly makes sense to them. They apply it in their own lives and it seems to work. From this place, the "leap of faith" to assume inerrancy is not too large and as long as it keeps working, more or less, they stick to it.

The reason I have a real problem with inerrancy is because I am disillusioned with the churches that assume inerrancy. I grew up in the assumption of inerrancy and it was drilled into me from a young age. However, I always felt that something was missing. The church made claims that Jesus was amazing and that everything should be better, but it never seemed that people really believed that God was real. I tried a variety of different churches, but I couldn't find anything that filled that missing hole.

I examine the scriptures more deeply and the harder it looked the less it made sense. I tried harder and harder to make it work, but the paradoxes grew in proportion to the attention to the book. Eventually, it was requiring extraordinary mental energy to hold it together.

About the same time, I came to the realization that the God that I believed in was threatening me with hell to try to get me to love him. When I realized that the underlying foundation of the relationship was fear, my belief in God melted away. It was truly a release.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to be agnostic. I just think that it's very clear, as has been well stated above, that there is no solid basis for the assumption of inerrancy. I find the scriptures to be internally inconsistent when the assumption of inerrancy is in place. I like Bonzo's three pronged approach that he mentions above. The truth comes from the church, the bible and the individual in concert. Perhaps it comes from other places.

It will take a terrible lot of convincing before I fully trust any religious system that does not have an objective basis of belief. This doesn't mean that I can't have fun looking.

Freehand
 


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
I'd agree with Mike - I go for 3.

Freehand, what can one ever mean by "objective"? "Objective" itself tends to require some base assumptions - it then comes down to whether you accept those or not.

e.g. Science starts out with a belief you can systematically explain natural physical processes - if you don't happen to believe that, then it's just bunkum. (NB as a scientist, I happen to go along with the assumption there).

Once one discounts, e.g. the appeal to authority or appeal to nature, very little in the human order of things is actually provably objective. Though, again, I happen to think that most things are "objective" at a "working definition" level, which is good enough for me.

Anyhow, objective requires a context - what's yours? From that, what is objective about errancy?

NB: I still don't side with either group on this.
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
gbuchanan, I wasn't exactly clear on how I was using the term objective. I guess that I was mainly contrasting it with subjective (it seems to be right). What I am looking for is some pointer outside of the Bible that is able to verify that the Bible is inerrant. There are several ways that this could happen.

Can it be proven that the Bible was written by God and documented without errors? I don't think so because we were not there when it was written. There are "thus saith the Lord" passages, but how do we know that they were documented or translated clearly? Anyone can say they have a vision from God. If I believed every person that said they had a vision from God, then I would probably end up in a mental institution.

So what other kinds of evidence could we have? The inerrancy of the Bible would be a tenable point if it is found to be beautifully consistent. I don't find it consistent. The closer that I look, the more inconsistent it seems. We've been talking about the inconsistency between "God is love" and "God commanded people to commit genocide." There are other foundational issues that I have problems with.

I guess another kind of evidence would be if the Bible was shown to work. Does it change the lives of people that believe it to be inerrant? That's pretty hard to judge, but perhaps it describes why some people believe it. This is a line of thought that I did not consider because I have felt something missing in church for so long. Christians are really great people, but I don't see the level of transformation that is claimed in the Bible.

I agree that some sort of base assumption is required. I am making the assumption that a book that is inerrant should not contradict itself. There are a number of contradictions that I just can't swallow any more. I know that there are harmonizations, but, to me, they don't justify the tremendous scope of the contradictions. So, for myself, I have disproven the concept of inerrancy. This doesn't mean that I have disproven the entire Bible. It just means that certain concepts are unreconcilable. To disprove the entire Bible, I would have to disprove every sentence. That would be an impossible task.

In addition, the concept of inerrancy typically goes along with a rejection of the authority of the church councils. This rejects the very source of the Bible itself. It was a church council that chose the manuscripts for the Bible. All of the church councils are rejected aside from the one council that picked the Bible. This, to me, also undermines the authority of the Bible. For this reason, Mousetheif's approach appeals to me. However, it doesn't necessarily solve anything. It pushes the question back to whether I have confidence in the church. This is an even bigger task that can probably only be accomplished through spending time in fellowship with other believers (which I am still doing btw) and in learning the teachings of the church.

Science is good at describing things that happen consistently and can be measured. God does not appear to be consistent or quantifiable.

I think that 1, 2 and 3 are possible. I have to rule out 4.

There's my take,

Freehand
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by gbuchanan:
On reviewing this thread, I can't see much (indeed anything) which defines what is "theological" or "spiritual" which can be easily separated from "the rest" of the Bible - any takers on the inerrantist side?

Phrases such as "theologically inerrant" are meaningless unless some semantics are placed upon them - I don't think we have many literalists here, but if the Bible isn't purely made of "theologically inerrant" stuff, how do I tell the difference?


This is a good question, and not an easy one to answer.

You might say that the stories may have the numbers or the actions wrong, but that the teachings are correct.

This, however, I think we agree, just doesn't hold up. There are teachings that Moses gave that are completely, and rightly, contradicted by Jesus. There are declarations attributed to God Himself ("Let Me alone, that I may destroy them!" Exodus 32.10) that couldn't possibly have really come from God.

So it is no easy trick to tease out what is purely spiritual.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
first, I want to thank freehand and glen for their kind posts.

THough I am an 'inerrantist', I highly respect the very real, very honest objections to inerrancy that have been raised by the more skeptical among us.
If I might be so bold as to speak for the 'average' Christian, I think that there is a "little skeptic" that resides within all believers too. It is that little voice that gets in the way at the most inapropriate times.

This post is not about the 'tension' of faith that exists in Christians, but I think that inerrantists have often been unfortunately stereotyped.

I think a lot of the problem stems from the close relationship that 'inerrancy' and 'fundamentalism' has. There are many ill-learned pastors and priests who will universally condemn a certain segment of society (i.e. homosexuals, psychics, etc.) to hell and rationalize it with the flawless authority of scripture. (Yikes)
Likewise, there are hosts of Christian believers who 'wear a mask of confidence' about the Bible when, inwardly, there are genuine doubts. - This gives a very inacurrate picture and understanding of what I consider to be the 'pilgrimage' of the Christian faith.

I think that we have to be VERY careful in our exegesis of Biblical texts for one. But the fact remains that there just aren't any easy answers as to believing the Bible to be inerrant. Furthermore, the fact that 'inerrnacy' lacks a coherent and standardized 'defenition doesn't help matters. - Some "inerrantists" condemn other "inerrantists" for holding to evolution for an example.

I feel like I am rambling on, so I'll just say that I do believe that God can communicate "clearly" to us. It remains to be seen what we would define as clear communication though, much less if God has used 'maximum' clarity in the bible, or even if He wants to clearly communicate.

Personally, I agree with scripture that "SUrely, [God] [is] a God who hides [Himself]."
I don't think the real issue is whether we can "proove" GOd or the Bible through empiracle means (Although, I do think God has given us a logical and reasonable faith), rather I agree with Thomas Cahill in his book on the Jews, - We must believe in God as one believes in his friend or family member. God is a person. We are persons. SOmetimes I doubt my friends love or intentions regarding me, as sometimes I doubt God's love and intentions regarding me. The point is that the doubts are (as they are in the scriptures) revolving God's character not His existence.

Wow! I apologize for getting off track here. I'm sure that I can subjectively tie this in with biblical inerrnacy somehow.

I'll be back to continue this very profitable debate later.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by ekalb

Likewise, there are hosts of Christian believers who 'wear a mask of confidence' about the Bible when, inwardly, there are genuine doubts. - This gives a very inacurrate picture and understanding of what I consider to be the 'pilgrimage' of the Christian faith.


For once we agree, This dishonesty about one's doubts is a large part of the reason why inerrancy remains a widespread view (though I'm sure it's no longer the view of the average Christian).

It's hardly surprising that people are dishonest about their doubts. The Chigago Statement On Bilical Inerrancy which has been referenced on this thread says 'To Stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master'. People in churches controlled by this wholly unacceptable view would have to be very strong to 'come out' about their doubts.

Consequently inerrancy remains largely unquestioned in such places. If people were honest, then inerrancy would have been consigned to the scrap heap, as an irrational doctrine, long ago.

The vocal nature of such people (despite their doubt) has served to put a great many people off the Christian faith.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Freehand spake thus:

quote:
About the same time, I came to the realization that the God that I believed in was threatening me with hell to try to get me to love him. When I realized that the underlying foundation of the relationship was fear, my belief in God melted away. It was truly a release

This is a bit off-topic, but the above reminded me of a hymn line which goes (roughly) thus:

"Oh God, we praise Thee not because
We hope for Heaven thereby"

Which always provoked the thought in me, "Who do you think you're fooling, sunshine?"

------

"If it's anything about a cake, Sir, I don't know anything about it, and besides, it was only a small cake." - Bunter
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
About the same time, I came to the realization that the God that I believed in was threatening me with hell to try to get me to love him. When I realized that the underlying foundation of the relationship was fear, my belief in God melted away. It was truly a release

It would truly be a release not to believe in such a God. For some reason (I take no credit) I've never believed in such a God, and it was quite a search to find a church that didn't have such a God (along with other features I won't go into here). Thankfully, I have found one at last.

Reader Alexis
thankful Orthodox guy
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

You're right. It is unfortunate that many Christians and churches don't feel comfortable to vocalize the doubts they have about inerrancy. No more unfortunate, though, than it is to see Christians walking into church on sunday morning wearing a fake smile and acting like all is right with the world, even though their life is falling apart. -very sad indeed.

But I hope you are not making the asumption that an 'examined' belief system would result in the nullification of said system.

I, myself, have been honest about the doubts I have regarding the inerrancy of scripture. I have 'examined' my inerrantist position, seen the problems with it, wondered why God didn't make inerrancy 'just obvious' to huamnity, and YET, I am still an inerrantist. Why?
Well, frankly speaking, I don't see that the 'errantist' side has had much better luck in 'proving' errancy. The vast majority of arguments become stalemated in presuppostitons and unanswerable queries.

Like I have said before, I think inerrancy and errancy are both justifiable systems of belief and thinking. Neither can be accused of being epistemologically sloppy.

So bonzo, take a second and think about what you are claiming. If more of Christendom had (in past centuries) critically analyzed their belief in inerrancy, would that have really necessitated the removal of the doctrine itself? -Unlikely.

In my opinion, it is those that live an 'examined' system of belief that usually have the strongest faith (purely my opinon though).
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

I am claiming that, if the inerrant view was allowed to be openly debated, the view would all but disappear, because as I have said many times in this thread, it is unsupported by logic.

However much you state to the contrary, an errantist view is supported by logic.

We have been through this many times in this thread. I have provided evidence that the Bible is not inerrant which you have been unable to refute. That's all I have to do to show that inerrancy is an unworkable argument.

I may not be able to get you to accept this, but others reading this thread will be able to see it as clear as daylight!
 


Posted by Freehand (# 144) on :
 
The appropriate starting point would be not to assume anything. Don't assume that it's inerrant or errant.
quote:
Well, frankly speaking, I don't see that the 'errantist' side has had much better luck in 'proving' errancy. The vast majority of arguments become stalemated in presuppostitons and unanswerable queries.

Actually, inerrancy is a much bigger assumption. It is a big assumption to think that a sprawling book written by 40 (or so) people over 100's of years is completely without error. To prove that claim, it is necessary to prove every verse to be correct. The 'errantist' only has to find one error to to pop the claim to 100% inerrancy.

The errors can be harmonized by the inerrentist and we can argue over these points for years. Eventually it gets to the point where the harmonised meaning is IMO so far removed from the original content that the term inerrant is misleading.

Please note: I am not saying that the Bible is all wrong. Perhaps most of it is correct. I'm just saying that it's not 100% perfect.

Freehand
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

unfortunately, you missed the piont of what I was saying.

I wasn't saying that 'errancy' is "unsupported" by logic. - I know that it is. Likewise, inerrancy is supported by logic.

As freehand rightly points out, inerrancy probably demands the larger 'leap' in faith to believe, but the point is that it is not "illogical" to believe. I think you have a serious lack of understanding in regards to what is "logical" and what is "provable". I'm not saying inerrancy is provable, I am saying that it is logical.

COntrary to your opinion (for that is what you are promoting), inerrancy is held by many reasonable people who have tested their faith and found it satisfactory for their epistemological worldview.

To make the claim that only an unthinking or illogical person would cling to inerrancy is about the most unsupported and unreasonable claim I have ever heard anybody make.

Inerrancy is NOT like believeing in 'Santa Claus'. The former can be justified on logical grounds, the latter cannot.

I'm not sure why you cannot understand that. I'm not asking you to beleive in inerrancy, but you should acknowledge that it is a justifiable view.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Inerrancy is just like believing in Santa Claus. It has no basis in logic. There is no rational reason to believe the Bible to be inerrant. It is entirely based on a leap of faith, which is made for no logical reason. It involves the complete and wholesale rejection of scientific understanding of the origins of man. It necessitates belief in a god who deliberately commits barbarous acts. It is wholly inconsistent within it own sphere of argument. In short it is a completely potty thing to believe in. Yet so many people are cowed into acceptance of it by people saying you're not a proper Christian if you question it. It's 100% bollocks! It is not something which is an alternative possibility, it's something which has been disproved 1000 times over.

And any logical person can see that!
 


Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
Bonzo,

Can I refer you to the Purgatory Guidelines?

quote:
5. Be courteous in your debating style – Apologise when you err; apologies are always well-received here. Take personal offense or disagreements to the Hell board, where they won't bother other posters.

If you want to argue in this sort of tone with ekalb then you need to start a thread in Hell to do so. (ekalb if you're planning to reply in kind - then you should start a thread on the Hell board calling Bonzo to account)

If this sort of tone continues on this thread, then I will move the entire thread to Hell.

Louise
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

I apologise for my tone, the reason I used it was because you consistently accuse me of misunderstanding you or misrepresenting you or missing the point. I understand you perfectly well and I have never knowingly misrepresented you and I have not missed the point - I just think your point is wrong.

I stand by the substance of what I have said. This is not a personal argument between you and me, but it would be wrong of me not to continue to state categorically that inerrancy is an irrational belief.

However Louise is right, I did post angry and exasperated, and a more considered response would have been more appropriate.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,
I'm a logical person, and I don't see it that way. Of course, you probably don't consider me logical.

Again, I am utterly amazed at the 'leaps in logic' that you are taking to prove your point. It would appear that you really don't understand the nature between what is 'proovable' and what is 'logical'. Something does NOT have to be provable to be logical.

For instance, you would say that other minds exist, right? Well, the existence of other minds is wholly un-proovable. You cannot empiracly proove that your friend's or parent's minds actually exist. Yet, is completely logical to believe that other minds do exist.

Bonzo, there are many people in the world that claim, "I won't believe it until it can be scientifically established".

The problem with that statement and approach to any truth claim is that it is 'self-referentially-inconsistent'. In other words, science and empiracism has grown out of numerous 'core' beliefs that can not be scientifically verified themselves.

If you think that you can 'prove' something by the scientific method, then it is only fair of you to admit that you are "believing" in some very unprovable truth claims: namely, the existence of order in nature, the reality of truth, the concept that our natural senses actually transmit valid data to our minds, and so forth.

Don't misinterpret me, - I also believe in the value of the scientific method, but I acknowledge that humans are, by nature, 'faith beings'. We are bound to belief. For you to make the assumption that the errantist side of the debate is employing objective verification techniques while the inerrantists are 'just believing' is very unfair of you bonzo.

Both sides have 'belief systems' at their core. It is merely a fact of life.

Please don't send me a post saying that I don't believe in reason or the value of science, -we have been through this before.
I am willing to debate the evidence for both sides of the debate but NOT if you continue to stereotype every inerrantist as an unthinking, illogical fool who clings to inerrancy because they are scared of hellfire. That is simply not true.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo/louise

sorry guys, I just saw the above posts before I posted mine. Sorry if the tone is a bit negative.

I do think that you have, and continually, misrepresent my argument, bonzo. But I hold no personal quarell with you. I am content to continue this debate.

I will try to keep it civil.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
In any system of reason and logic there are various possibilities. It is, of course, possible that Santa Claus really does exist and that or parents fooled us into thinking it was them.

However scientists refer to something being illogical they mean that you start with a theory and try to disprove it. Once disproven it is said to be illogical.

Of course we then have to define proof. If you started with the theory that all coal was white, to disprove it I would simply need to produce a piece of coal that was black. You might argue that it's white and that we couldn't see it properly. But you'd be laughed at by any rational person.

I have shown over the course of this thread that inerrancy is disproven. I have taken one of many examples of a cruel act which is ascribed to God by the OT and compared that to the love of God described by Jesus.

Your response was to say that, because God was doing it, it was not cruel because he created the beings it was done to.

I pointed out that If I made a being and I was cruel to it, you, as my equal, would call me cruel (in fact you referred to it as sadism). You have given no logical response to this. All you have done is restate your original argument that God cannot be cruel because he made us. Your argument therfore stands disproved unless you have an alternative stance to take.

You then admitted that to take your stance required a leap of faith. You carried on to say that both sides of the argument require a leap of faith.

I'll take you back to the coal example. My leap of faith would be to believe my eyes. Your leap of faith would be to believe that everybody, inculding yourself, couldn't see properly.

You might say that believing that all coal is white is logical but I don't.
 


Posted by splodge (# 156) on :
 
While I'm not an inerrantist, its not surprising many christians have a problem letting go of the idea of inerrancy. To think that the principle source of our religious ideas is full of errors would suggest we can have no confidence in it at all. To the average lay person christian or non christian no "middle ground" seems to be possible: they say "either we can rely on this religious book or we can't." After all they would have reservations about buying a cookery book, a car engine manual or encyclopaedia that was said to be full of errors.
However if you told them that the purpose of the cookery book was not to give recipes for dinner but to reveal how cookery has evolved from primitive times to today, noting ignorant cooks of the past but seeing their ideas foreshadowed in and progressing later cooking, then they might be interested. Also if the cookery book was to show the providential enlightening of cooks and that the truth about cooking is that its eternal yet multicultural, always challenging & transcends simple catergories of good/bad, right or wrong ...
- then they might, if they wanted a really profound and challenging book on cooking, still like to read old recipies notwithstanding the fact some such recipes if tried today would make one's dinner guests offended or violently ill.

Two propositions -
1. the bible is a book recording people's encounter with God and reflection - oft times crude and limited (we are no better)- of what God is doing in human history. It contains many facts, some more important that others. However it intention is not to give us facts. To argue over factual errors is rather to miss the point.
2. I believe in providence, so I believe whats in the bible, God wants to be there. Even the gory bits where God it thought of as an ogre by the biblical writers.
However the assumption in the errancy v inerrancy debate has been that the bible contains a series of propositions for us to believe which are either right or wrong.
I know that while its nigh well impossible for our culture to think of truth other than as a series of logical-verbal propositions, I suspect the divine truth of the bible is much profounder than that.
(Perhaps its not a book of facts (inc theological facts) but a mirror in which we discover ourselves or designed like a Zen Koan to challenge our presumption and lead us into asking the profoundest questions about life including the nature of religous truth...)
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
I have taken one of many examples of a cruel act which is ascribed to God by the OT and compared that to the love of God described by Jesus.

This seems to be the major sticking point here.

It looks to me as though the "inerrancy" argument isn't going to go anywhere because of this.

I was hoping that the Bible could still be "inerrant" without having God commanding the killing of babies, and by overlooking the minor contradictions and discrepancies in, for example, the gospel stories.

I now give up on that, and am content to simply say that I accept the Bible's claim to divine authorship.

For what it is worth, let me say a word about why Joshua might legitimately and logically be seen as having a divine origin, despite all the baby killing that goes on.

It is only because the fundamental message is that if you obey and trust in God, He will be on your side, protect you, and give you success against your enemies. This is the message repeated in virtually every chapter from Genesis to Zechariah - and especially in Joshua.

The message becomes markedly more sophisticated as you proceed through the Old Testament, and becomes increasingly focused on morality, humility, kindness, and mercy.

In Joshua, however, the message is pure and simple. God will destroy your enemies big or small, man or woman, adult or child. It is manifestly barbaric. But that is not the way it seems when you feel desperately threatened by your enemies. Then you think that the only good Philistine is a dead Philistine.

This is not to justify the literal actions of Joshua and the Israelites of that period. It is, however, to justify the logic of the message as an important step in the development of faith in God. The most general ideas come first. The finer points are acquired in time.

So without literally having God Himself order the destruction of Canaanite women and children, I can believe in the divine authorship of the book of Joshua. God allowed Himself to be understood and presented in that way - a way that makes pure sense to children and unsophisticated people.

I believe that every word of Scripture is from God - allowing, of course, for a certain percentage of errors in transmission over the years. In that sense it is inerrant, because it is divine. But I don't think that it is literally without factual error, or that it does not incorporate the points of view and prejudices of the many people who actually penned it.

But if "inerrancy" means that God is a baby-killer, this argument won't go anywhere. In my opinion.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by splodge:
2. I believe in providence, so I believe whats in the bible, God wants to be there. Even the gory bits where God is thought of as an ogre by the biblical writers.

That's it. That's what I meant to say. Thanks Splodge.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Both Splodge's and Freddy's stance are, IMO, reasonable positions to take. I would argue that such positions actually serve to strengthen the credibility of Christianity especially in today's questioning western culture.

I'm closest to Splodges cookery manual except that I believe the cookery has evolved still further since the manual was completed, and is still evolving.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

ok,I'm gonna make this quick.

You're coal example is far too black and white (no pun intended) to rightly compare it with inerrancy/errancy.

You're right though, if you could show but one single error in scripture then that one error would 'logically' infer that inerrancy cannot be.

You've brought up some good objections to innerrancy, but none that I have not heard in the past. You say that I have not answered you're 'response' about you creating a hamster/whatever and then killing it and how I, as an equal, would call you cruel.

Well, I did answer that. About 2 pages back I posted you saying that the hamster analogy is ridiculous. Why? First, because it's apples and oranges. You're trying to hypothesize a 'theoretical' universe wherin killing (sadistically) you're hamster-creations is the normative action for you, their god. Further, it is a universe that apparantly is polytheistic. You say that I would be your equal and call you cruel. This also implies a universe with a transcedatory moral law above even its gods.

I'm not splitting hairs here. Bonzo, the analogy is so far removed from the universe that we do know that it cannot be successfully applied.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
I'm not sure that I'm following how inerrancy is supported by logic. Unless by a system that can be summarised approximately as: "It is logical that God that would want to convey His message accurately to mankind, therefore He did." One can make all sorts of logical deductions about this, that and the other, but unless the premises are correct, the logicality goes for naught.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:
Well, I did answer that. About 2 pages back I posted you saying that the hamster analogy is ridiculous. Why? First, because it's apples and oranges. You're trying to hypothesize a 'theoretical' universe wherin killing (sadistically) you're hamster-creations is the normative action for you, their god. Further, it is a universe that apparantly is polytheistic. You say that I would be your equal and call you cruel. This also implies a universe with a transcedatory moral law above even its gods.

In hypothesising this theoretical universe I'm showing that it can be considered cruel to cause unnecessary suffering to something you have created. It doesn't have to be polytheistic I would know that chopping the feet of my hamster is cruel without you coming along! I only put you there to help you to realise it!

Let's approach it a different way. How can we say that God is a loving God without judging God?

When you say that genocide is not cruel because a creator did it, and to call the creator cruel is judging God. Then by the same token it must be judging God to say that He is loving.

In fact by the same token we can say nothing whatsoever about the nature of God because that would be judging God.

One thing we certainly could not say about God is that he wishes to communicate with men through the Bible, that would be judging God (by your argument).

Man has the knowledge of good and evil (in your inerrant book he got it when he ate the fruit from the tree). He is able to see a cruel act and understand it to be cruel. When any suffering is inflicted unecessarily on any creature capable of feelings it is cruelty. To argue otherwise is meaningless.

The coal analogy is a pretty good comparison!
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
I'm not sure that I'm following how inerrancy is supported by logic.

How about the logic that without religious knowledge that is believed to be accurate there can be no belief, and therefore no religion.

Believing it doesn't make it accurate, of course, and there is a certain amount of uncertainty in everything about religion. But no one has faith in things that they know or suspect to be untrue.

So if you are going to believe something, it is unlikely that the basis of belief will be simply random. If a person believes in Jesus because of the testimony of the Bible, they must have some confidence in the truth, on some level, of this testimony.

I understand that this confidence can range from "there is some core of truth" to "every word is true." But the "every word is true" approach has been the traditional Christian viewpoint for 2000 years. It is logical within its own framework, even if it is illogical that God would command the killing of babies, or that every detail could be literally true, such as Cain finding a wife even though there were no other humans yet.
 


Posted by andras (# 2065) on :
 
quote:
But the "every word is true" approach has been the traditional Christian viewpoint for 2000 years.

It may have been commonly held among uneducated people, but the notion that every word is literally true would have moved educated people like Alcuin to tears of laughter - or possibly frustration. 'Genesis tells the story of the making of the world after the manner of a poem' was his comment on it.

John
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Very true, John. Another way to put it is that this has been the public and official teaching of the church. But it is hard to believe that the majority of Christian scholars over the ages have privately, or even not so privately, thought this way.

Of course it is one thing to consider the creation story to be an allegory, and another to deny the truth of such things as the resurrection of Christ.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
[sigh]

bonzo, please don't get angry, but it is very frustrating to debate something I have never argued. I know you're frustrated because I have accussed you of using 'straw men' arguments against me. - I intended nothing else than to point out the facts.

Here is what I am talking about:

by bonzo:

quote:
When you say that genocide is not cruel because a creator did it, and to call the creator cruel is judging God. Then by the same token it must be judging God to say that He is loving.

In fact by the same token we can say nothing whatsoever about the nature of God because that would be judging God.

One thing we certainly could not say about God is that he wishes to communicate with men through the Bible, that would be judging God (by your argument).



You are arguing against something I have never said.
I 'have' said that it would be wrong to assume that we can superimpose the moral and perogative dynamics of humanity onto deity, but I am not saying that we can't 'say things about God'.

Further, I haven't tried to argue that inerrancy is obvious or even necessary for faith. I hope you realize that my purpose, in this discussion, is to show that anyone who holds to inerrancy is 'justified' to do so. 'Justified' doesn't mean we have all the answers. It doesn't even mean that 'errancy' has weak objections to inerrancy; rather, justified means that a Christian can believe the Bible to be inerrant without violating reason and logic.

It seems that both of us are unwilling to progress this debate any further and for that I apologize (I haven't always been fair in this debate), but if you want to continue I am willing. I ask only that you 'thoroughly' read my posts before responding. I will try to do the same.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb

My apologies if I have misunderstood, but when you said:

quote:

Your "views" fail to accept the fact that they are judging God in light of their own standards

What exactly did you mean?

If in your opinion we can say things about God then it follows that we can say that committing genocide is not in his nature.

Since the Bible says that God did do this then it's obvious, by logic, that the Bible is wrong on this point.

There is someone who is not prepared to debate. All you do is keep insisting that an argument which is so obviously flawed is logical.

You may feel that your stance is justified. That you have proved that to believe in Biblical inerrancy is a rational, logical thing to do. But you have only convinced one person ... yourself ekalb.
 


Posted by andras (# 2065) on :
 
quote:
Of course it is one thing to consider the creation story to be an allegory, and another to deny the truth of such things as the resurrection of Christ.

Indeed so - though the church has certainly had clergy who have taken the position that the resurrection stories are only true in some non-literal sense for at least a couple of hundred years. I wonder who was the first to come clean in public on this position - didn't one of the mediaeval popes talk of having been served well by this myth of a resurrected Christ?

John
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Yes. It was Pope Leo X. He supposedly said, "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"

Of course if he had gone public with this declaration he would not have been pope. And if the church itself had announced this, it would no longer be a church.

So despite the skepticism of many of the individuals involved, church organizations perpetuate certain ideas as the basis for their existence.
 


Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
Against my will I get drawn back to this thread. I fight against its sinister attraction for days, and then succumb and take a look. All I find are the same old arguments going round and round - no progress is ever made because (IMHO) one side is not prepared to listen to the other.

Hosts of Purgatory
Now hear my plea!
Send this to Dead Horses
And save our sanity!

(Almost as good as the spells the Charmed ones use, I think.)
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

That quote is merely saying that we can't judge God in the same way we judge oneself or another human. It is exactly what I said in my last post. It is wrong to think that God and humanity can be 'talked about' on the same level. Clearly there are diferences. God has some very unique abilities and perogatives that humanity does not. Further, humanity can sin and be evil where as God is perfect.
So, what I am saying is that we should be 'careful' when saying things about God and His nature because He is unique.

That said, I agree with you that we can say positive statements about God's nature. Some folk only think we can affirm what God is not, but I do think that we can affirm what GOd is.


bonzo, the real issue in the particular debate that we are sharing is 'what is the correct interpretation of the Joshua genocide?'. You interpret it to be a cruel act, unbecoming of God and therefore see it as an error within the bible. I interpret it as an act of divine punishment, wholly justifiable within the parameters of divine perogatives and therefore view the scriptures as inerrant.

You must recognize that both views are acceptable on rational grounds. However, both are un-provable. You cannot guarantee that my interpretation of divine punishment is wrong and I cannot absolutely say that your errancy view is wrong either.

Maybe I am the only one that I have convinced of inerrancy If so, that does not mean that my arguments are flawed.

Before I go, I would like to know, bonzo, whether you are a 'logical positivist'. From your arguments and appeals I would guess you are, but I might be wrong.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
I'm coming to the conclusion that the Bible is actually to complex to describe as either inerrant or not-inerrant (I'm not sure that's the same as errant).

I've said before (I can't recall if it was on this or another thread) that I'm intrigued by the use of the phrase "Word of God" to describe both the Bible and Christ. The Bible, like Christ, is both human and divine.
The words of Scripture are fully the work of fallible human authors (and later editors and compilers) and subject to all their weaknesses, prejudice and failings. As such it cannot possibly be inerrant.

They are also fully the word of God who is perfect and faithful. As such it cannot possibly be anything but inerrant.

So, just as we follow a Christ who is simultaneously and inseperably fully human and fully divine we also have Scriptures which are simultaneously and inseperably fully of human and divine origin.

Just a few thoughts to digest,

Alan
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by ekalb:
the real issue in the particular debate that we are sharing is 'what is the correct interpretation of the Joshua genocide?'.

Several of us have offered positions on this Joshua issue other than Bonzo's. My heart is with you, kalb, but I don't think that you need to interpret the Joshua genocide as directly commanded by God in order to believe that God is the author of Scripture.

Do you see no other alternative? You have only responded to Bonzo's hard line on this.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb

Then I did not misunderstand you.

Though we can't say that for God to act in a certain way judging Him by human standards, you seem to be saying that you can say that for God to behave in a particular way would be against His own standards.

We must be able to do this or we would not be able to say that He is loving or just.

So by that token it is obvious that if we God were to act in the genocidal way described in Joshua, by his own standards of love and justice he would have been wrong to act in that way. Since he is true to his own standards then it follows that God did not commit genocide.

Alan,

quote:

I've said before (I can't recall if it was on this or another thread) that I'm intrigued by the use of the phrase "Word of God" to describe both the Bible and Christ. The Bible, like Christ, is both human and divine.
The words of Scripture are fully the work of fallible human authors (and later editors and compilers) and subject to all their weaknesses, prejudice and failings. As such it cannot possibly be inerrant.

They are also fully the word of God who is perfect and faithful. As such it cannot possibly be anything but inerrant.


But the whole world is God's creation and by the same argument cannot be inerrant since it must be exactly the way God wanted it?

Is that what you're saying? There are no errant people in this world?
 


Posted by Ham 'n' Eggs (# 629) on :
 
I'm inclined to agree with Alan.

I'm rather coming to the conclusion that the whole inerrant/non-inerrant black/white thang is very much a product of the modernist perspective employed by both the evangelical and liberal traditions.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Is that what you're saying? There are no errant people in this world?

No, I'm saying that there are, and never have been, any perfect people in the world (with one exception, but he didn't write any of the Bible). Therefore the Bible, being the work of imperfect people and the perfect God both cannot be inerrant and must be inerrant.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Alan,

I think I accept the following as a rational view, If this is what you're saying then I think it's worth looking at:-

That the Bible is inerrant in the sense that God is perfect and faithful and so the Bible is the way it is because that's the way God has designed the world.

Consider this :

The existence of Hitler, the way he was, his hatred of the Jews are all part of God's plan for the world. Hitler happened in a world for which God has a plan and a purpose.

Of course that doesn't mean that Hitler was not wrong in what he did, It just means that his wrongdoing is in some way it is part of the plan.

In the same way the genocide committed by Joshua is wrong and the Bible is incorrect to say that God sanctioned it, but the Bible is that way becasue it is part of God's plan.

If we accept this point of view we must treat the Bible as a book containing human errors. But we would be right in asking what God's purpose is in allowing the human errors to be there as they may be important in understanding the wider, inerrant, plan.

This IMO is a reasonable line of argument. I'm not sure if I agree with it or not, but if it's in any way what you're driving at then I would like to see where it goes.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
No, I suppose where I'm coming to is the conclusion that the Bible is a paradox. The Bible is of fully (fallible) human origin and it is of fully (infallible) divine origin. To try to say of one part "this is inspired truth" and of another "this is fallibly human" is similar to saying of Christ "here he acts as God" and "there he's a man" (which is some heresy or another - if FrG is reading this I'm sure he can tell us which heresy). The Church spent centuries and however many councils to define precisely the indivisible human and divine nature of Christ, right now I wish that a similar amount of effort had gone into defining something similar in describing the Bible.

So, just to make sure there is no more life in the Joshua genocide dead horse. The Bible says that God ordered the slaughter of the Caananites; in saying this it is simultaneously entirely accurate and entirely wrong.

If that's not clear it's probably a combination of me getting myself confused and needing a bit of sleep

Alan
 


Posted by splodge (# 156) on :
 
On the genocide issue - I believe Joshua (or the writer of the book of Joshua) believed that God had commanded killing of the cannanites - but I don't think Joshua was right so what do I "get" from this story?. Actually rather than this being a case of genocide as such the policy of Joshua's brand of bronze age nomads was ethnic cleansing in that it seems that by having a some high profile masacres these were aimed at scaring the rest of the cannanites to leave: more Bosnia than Auswitz.
However, it does seem impossible to square a God who loves with a God who wants ethnic cleansing. I don't believe that this is the lesson that should be drawn however. But, one theme that the stories seem to seek to reinforce is the idea of divine judgement. The idea of divine judgement comes not from revelation but from man's experience of nature and the attempt to square the belief that God is utterly in control with the reality of evil.

There is a stream of thought in the bible that considers, in the final analysis, all destruction and death itself as divine judgement upon sin and we know that death is no respecter of persons or ages.
A very high monotheism makes God ultimately responsible for all events including the demise of the innocent as well as the grossly sinful; it is said that everyone is destroyed because all are interconnected, equally contaminated by original sin etc.

What happened to the canaanites is, in this contaxt, simply an accelerated judgement that happens to us all. We may feel repugnance at what happened to the canaanites because we believe God is love. However this is not simply a biblical problem, it is greatest theological problem: called the "Problem of Evil". Indeed, you, me and everyone are destined to die as well as the poor old cannanites. Well poor us too.
The Joshua story only throws the problem of evil into sharp relief, but it won't go away whether the Joshua story is history or fiction. Indeed the theme of divine judgement is as all pervasive in scripture as the theme of love and mercy.

No, and I don't like the idea of divine judgement either.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Splodge

That's interesting, It doesn't get round the problem of Joshua and the canaanites in the sense that we cannot justify genocide (Cannan Bosnia or Auswitz) or attribute it to God. But it does move the argument on to the big question of why is dying (and life sometimes) such a bag of shit.

When something bad happens to us, I don't think we are being punished for our wrong (disabled people are no more sinful than the rest of us). Nor do I think that death is necessarily a punishment (though it's a bugger I'll admit!).

I agree that the Bible does seem to point to divine judgement in a threatening tone and this is present in both the OT and NT.

I might be wrong but I don't see any mention of sons being killed for the sins of their fathers in the NT. Are there any examples of instances where God uses men to exact punishment on other men in the NT? If there are they are certainly not the main thrust of the NT.

The concept of judgement certainly pervades the whole Bible, but in the NT I think it centres upon judgement of your own wrongdoing, not judgement of a nation for the wrongdoing of some people within that nation.

It brings me closer to the picture of a developing theology. It makes me even more convinced that the Bible is not a conclusion but a documented starting point from which mankind has developed ideas and morality which have superceded some of the ideas of the Bible just as the NT seems to supercede some of the commonly held values of the OT.

I'm not saying, just because we have problems with the concept of divine judgement, we should start to say that the Bible is obviously wrong on this subject (though it's possible). Rather we should never be too hard line in our viewpoint, just because the Bible says something. We have to consider it and weigh the odds, and even then we might be none the wiser.

From looking at your earlier posts I don't think we're very far apart. Are we?
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Alan,

I've thought hard about your paradox idea, I don't think I can agree for the following reason.

People hold to a paradox of Jesus being fully man and fully God because the Bible doesn't hold evidence to suggest that Jesus was sinful (he was inerrant).

Suppose for example the gospels had contained a story about Jesus, at the age of 17, two timing his girfriends. It would then be impossible for the unblemished lamb idea to be understood. After reading the things he later did, people might say that he was a man inspired by God, but I don't think they would have said he was God.

The Bible, as you have said, does contain errors, so it's fine to say it's inspired by God but not fine to say it's inerrant (equating it with God).

Does that make sense?
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
If the bible is errant, then that is because all language, all communication itself is errant.

Otherwise it is inerrant.

When God said to Moses to leave Him alone while he annihilated Israel, He meant it.

The fact that He didn't reveals far more to me about God, who negotiated with Abraham for the annihilation of the cities of the plain too, than a God who really didn't, really couldn't say that and that the Bible is therefore errant because our liberal induction isn't - which reveals a lot about our limitations for accepting God at His word.

The hard, old school, bronze-age, lethal God who revealed Himself in Christ as more gracious than we can possibly imagine.

So apart from the Bible being wrong when it doesn't suit our liberalism, where else is it wrong?
 


Posted by blackbird (# 1387) on :
 
maybe when it's used in a spirit of exclusivity, hatred, domination, humiliation, superiority or plain self-righteousness that at base level equals the opposite of compassion and love to another human being which is what i think Jesus came to teach us about.

imagine if you will, every bible and written word relating to it in the world disappears one night and we are left to cope in this world based on the spirit of Jesus's message. if we were able to do that, we might be okay. now imagine everyone has a bible but no spirit of compassion. sound scarily familiar?

i can accept that God is The Word and is inerrant, but not that the bible is The Word...too much like saying the collar is the dog.

(glad you're not mad on cold north wind, m.
)
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
Bonzo, just to make it clear I am not equating the Bible with God. I am drawing an analogy from the paradox of the human and divine nature of Christ to the human and divine origin of the Bible. Like all analogies it is not perfect, but seems an interesting place to start a change in direction on this thread.

(as an aside, since this thread isn't about the nature of Christ as such, there is a difference between Christ being human and being a sinner)
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
Nicely put BB, nicely put.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Alan,

Your argument is interesting. I would like it to work. It would be a very good way to say that everbody's right on this thread! Then we'd all be happy.

But, for me, it can't work. I'm not saying that the Bible has errors just because it was written by men who are fallible. I'm saying that it has errors because those errors are self evident.

In the paradox of Jesus (fully God and fully man). The paradox only works where errors in Jesus' character are not self evident. If he had self evident errors then he would be just a good man, not both God and man.

You couldn't say that Jesus was fully God and also fully man, if Jesus could be shown to be a sinner (As it is, He isn't, so perhaps you can say it).

You couldn't say that the Bible has errors (because it was written by man) and does not have errors (because the Bible was written by God), if the Bible can be shown to have errors (which is the case).

I'm not disputing that there is a difference between Christ being human and being a sinner.

I realise that you are not equating the Bible with God but I'm pointing out that when your analogy is applied to the Bible that an inerrant Bible is like an inerrant Jesus. In the Bible's case it has demonstrable errors, in Jesus' case He hasn't.

As you say analogies are not perfect but I can't see how this analogy helps us unless we can make these comparisons.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,

Those "errors" in the bible aren't exactly "evident" to me and whole lot of other, rational, Christians.

Whether you think that the alternative answers are bunk or not, the fact is that there are logically-consistent answers to the so-called errors that do enable a Christian to keep inerrancy intact.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
ekalb,

We've been through this. I'm not going to argue with you on the subject anymore because you are not going to change your point of view no matter what I say.

IMO you have to abandon reason to believe the bible to be inerrant.
 


Posted by shoewoman (# 1618) on :
 
Hmmm.... four things come to my mind when I read this.
Firstly, what strikes me is that the Bible is not mentioned in the Creed. I never have to say "I believe in the Bible", and I'm certainly glad of that.
Secondly, I find it fairly difficult to claim inerrancy, because there is nothing like a true first edition. Our present Bibles are a conglomerate of several thousand manuscripts from more than a thousand years, with significant differencies between them.
Thirdly, the Gospel of John starts with the statement that Christ is the personified Word of God, therefore the Bible can be nothing more (nor less) than a faithful report on this.
Fourth, if God humbled himself to become a man with all the limitations of humanity, including the danger to be mistaken for a mere man, why shouldn't he humble himself accordingly in a book, even including the danger of literary weaknesses or maybe errors? Is there anything wrong with a God who does this? That sounds to me like one of the Pharisees claiming that God could never become the kind of man to lose a trial and end up at a cross.
 
Posted by shoewoman (# 1618) on :
 
While I'm at it (sorry to doublepost) - Luther used the criterion "was Christum treibet" for evaluating biblical passages, meaning "whatever shows us what Christ is like and what he wants and does". I find this extremely useful. For example, it is clear that God is love and not anger, because of Jesus. So, even if God gets angry, his anger is not the central point of the biblical text - which is not saying that it is untrue. Therefore, I can discuss certain passages a bit more detached.
 
Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
Bonzo

You too are intransigent.

And I dare to suggest have copped out by refusing to use your intellect to even posit the proposition that the Bible is inerrant and run with that.

It's easy to run with errancy, we can make God in our liberal image.

But what if you were wrong? We are commanded to love God with all of our mind, all of our intellect, yours is obviously superior to mine, so would you do me the favour of running with at least the posit that it is reasonable to regard the Bible as inerrant?

Just try the proposition on for size? If you won't question our capacity to reason we won't question your capacity to submit to God as He appears to reveal Himself by His word.

So please do reason with us.

Where us can the dialectic go?
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
bonzo,


quote:
We've been through this. I'm not going to argue with you on the subject anymore because you are not going to change your point of view no matter what I say.

IMO you have to abandon reason to believe the bible to be inerrant.


I could be wrong, but I don't remember "having to change one's point of view" as a prerequisite for debating.
-Maybe I'll go look at the guidelines again.

Bonzo, if you don't want to debate anymore that's your choice, but I (if I were you that is) would stay away from such 'blanket statements' as you have made, - quite unfair to stereotype the 'inerrantists' like that.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
I'm pointing out that when your analogy is applied to the Bible that an inerrant Bible is like an inerrant Jesus. In the Bible's case it has demonstrable errors, in Jesus' case He hasn't.

Jesus was the perfect human being; evidence that Jesus sinned doesn't make him more human (infact, arguably it makes him less human). But as a human being, even perfect, there were things he couldn't do - eg: be in two places at once.

Whether the writers of the Bible were perfect is largely irrelevant; even if they were perfect they still wouldn't be writing inerrant Scripture because of the inherent limitations of language and how much humans can actually understand. That is why I say that since the evidence is that the Bible was written by apparently free acting human beings the Bible cannot be inerrant.

The main point from the analogy is, I think, that just as saying "Christ was human" is accurate and true it is also so inadequate a description of his nature that it is actually inaccurate and false; the same goes of saying "Christ is God". Likewise, although saying "the Bible is inerrant" is true and accurate it is also false and inaccurate; the same for "the Bible is not inerrant".

I'm still not sure if I'm making myself clear.

Alan
 


Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
ekalb:
quote:
the fact is that there are logically-consistent answers to the so-called errors that do enable a Christian to keep inerrancy intact.

Sorry, no evidence has been supplied on this thread to back up this claim.

Bonzo:

quote:
IMO you have to abandon reason to believe the bible to be inerrant.

By contrast, this thread has provided a lot of evidence to support this assertion.

IMHO that is.
 


Posted by ekalb (# 2642) on :
 
wanderer,

It seems that I have had to spend much of my time fighting 'opinions' and 'rhetoric' rather than actual arguments lately.

Your 'opinion' is plainly wrong. There 'have' been arguments and evidences put forth by the inerrantists on this thread - I suggest that you go back and read some.

You might agree with them or you might think that they are the worst arguments/evidences you have ever read, but to deny that they have been posted is simply foolish.

I will debate 'calm', 'thought-out' responses, not your 'opinions' please.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Martin PC not

And I dare to suggest have copped out by refusing to use your intellect to even posit the proposition that the Bible is inerrant and run with that.


I used to believe that the Bible was inerrant. I found it was a view that I could not support in many a debate such as this one.

quote:

Originally posted by Alan Cresswell

Jesus was the perfect human being; evidence that Jesus sinned doesn't make him more human (infact, arguably it makes him less human). But as a human being, even perfect, there were things he couldn't do - eg: be in two places at once.


Not sure you are making yourself clear on this point. How can Jesus sinning make him less human?

The point I was making is that Jesus sinning makes him less Godlike. If you believe in a perfect God it makes him not God.

On the rest of it I think you are clear but I can't agree for the reasons I have stated earlier.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
The main point from the analogy is, I think, that just as saying "Christ was human" is accurate and true it is also so inadequate a description of his nature that it is actually inaccurate and false; the same goes of saying "Christ is God". Likewise, although saying "the Bible is inerrant" is true and accurate it is also false and inaccurate; the same for "the Bible is not inerrant".

This seems pretty clear to me, and in the main I agree.

But instead of saying that the Bible is fully human and fully divine, I would say that although it appears to be fully human it is actually fully divine. Or that it is human on the outside but divine on the inside. That is, that it is full of errors, inaccuracies, and appearances in its literal sense, but it holds God within it in a miraculous way.

So it is both full of errors and absolutely true at the same time.

Makes sense to me anyway.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Ok Alan & Freddy,

So that we understand one another fully,
give me some non-slippery answers to these two questions before we go further. I think it would help me to understand better where you're coming from if I knew your position on these issues.

Do you believe that God created the world in six days (24hrs each)? Or do you believe the world has evolved over millions of years?

and

Do you believe, that when the Bible says that God told Joshua to kill everyone in Jericho and Ai that that is what God actually did?
 


Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
quote:
There 'have' been arguments and evidences put forth by the inerrantists on this thread - I suggest that you go back and read some.

You might agree with them or you might think that they are the worst arguments/evidences you have ever read, but to deny that they have been posted is simply foolish.


I wasn't denying that inerrantists have posted many things, it was the "logically consistent" description I was questioning.

Call that my "opinion" by all means but, having sadly read the whole thread, you haven't convinced me that you are using logic.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Do you believe that God created the world in six days (24hrs each)? Or do you believe the world has evolved over millions of years?


God created the universe over a period of approximately 15 billion years through natural processes of physical and biological evolution. To read the Genesis accounts as science does a great injustice to the passages. Check out my posts on the various Creation/Evolution threads or my website for more details.

quote:
Do you believe, that when the Bible says that God told Joshua to kill everyone in Jericho and Ai that that is what God actually did?

You just want to find if there's still life in this equine? I'll admit I have real difficulties with this passage, which is why I didn't comment on it earlier, and am only commenting now in direct response to this question.

Though I can see, and accept, the clear theological teaching about the need to completely irradicate that which is sinful in our old lives when we come to Christ. And I also see that God may be acting in judgement on them, though I don't recall anywhere in the account in Joshua to state that God was judging them. However, God acting in this way is at odds with much of the rest of Scripture. The obvious explanation, especially given as the instructions to destroy Jericho are in Joshuas words not "the Lord said...", is that Joshua didn't understand God perfectly and got a bit carried away. Thus, the account is accurate but God didn't actually order it. I accept there's spiritual truth there that doesn't depend on the inerrancy or otherwise of the account; but I wouldn't let this (or similar) passage dictate my view of God or Scripture.

These two examples show the human origins of the Bible; they contain description of events from the perspective of the background and knowledge of the original authors. They still do, however, contain words that speak a message relevant to us today showing their divine origin.

But, as I said earlier in this thread (about 2/3 of the way down p3) I don't actually accept the Bible is inerrant, indeed I said

quote:
I think that the books we have actually suit Gods purpose pretty well. Whereas, a set of divinely dictated totally inerrant writings wouldn't be as suitable.
So, I wouldn't expect the Bible to be inerrant any more than I would expect Jesus to be able to be in two places at once despite being God. Whereas "errors" in the life of Christ would imply he wasn't God, errors in Scripture don't necessarily imply the Bible isn't the word of God since I don't think that inerrancy is part of Gods purpose in giving us the Bible.

Alan
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Then, Alan, I do understand where you're coming from, I wouldn't go as far as you have on the divine authorship question, but there is logical consistency to what you are saying. I have to admit that your idea is a plausible way of looking at the Bible, though I would argue that it is not the most plausible.

It's a shame that the length of the argument on the Joshua story in this thread has caused so many to cry 'dead horse'. It's one of many examples which I could have chosen which rather than being 'dead horses' should make clear that a literal interpretation on the Bible is unfounded in logic.

We need to get this literalist view out of the way before we can make progress on the issue of whether, and why the Bible is a specially inspired book.

IMO the 'inerrancy issue' which causes the most problem, for believers and would be believers, is the high profile literalist, creationist view which does damage to the message of Christianity.

If, however, you believe the Bible to be a uniquely special set of writings, without claiming literal correctness, then you hold one plausible view amongst a variety of plausible views. This does no damage to Christ, rather it confirms the broadness of His Church which IMO is a wonderful thing.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Do you believe that God created the world in six days (24hrs each)? Or do you believe the world has evolved over millions of years??

I am with Alan. God guides the evolutionary process in completely invisible ways, so that all changes proceed according to the phsical laws known to science.

The Bible is not about physical creation but about the spiritual recreation of the human race. So these early stories are an allegroy describing in general terms the spiritual history of humanity, as it was understood by those who created the stories that were later written down in the early part of Genesis.

quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
Do you believe, that when the Bible says that God told Joshua to kill everyone in Jericho and Ai that that is what God actually did?

No. The purpose of these stories is to reinforce the concept that obedience to God brings blessings.

The entire concept of God promising Abraham and his descendents a particular piece of land, which they are to wrest from the inhabitants, is wrong from beginning to end. The Bible is about spiritual things, not real estate. "Canaan" stands for heaven, and "casting out the uncircumcized" means to get rid of the things in your life that stand between you and heaven.

But this does not mean that the stories are simply mistaken. As Abraham, Joshua and other Old Testament characters understood it, God was telling them to do these things. In these centuries before the incarnation, there simply were not people who could be led and taught more directly, or who were able to transmit a clearer divine message.

The miracle is that, despite the deficiencies of these people, God was able to guide them to record and preserve a message that holds the truth within it, even where it is not literally true. The challenge, then, is to interpret it in a consistent and logical way.
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
Well it looks like, if I keep quiet, you have your wish Bonzo.

Intellectually and morally inferior 'Literalism' is only positable by people with nasty, illiberal skeletons in the cupboard?

God is Love therefore He didn't order the genocide of the Amorites?

That deals with literalism?

That makes it intellectually impossible to pursue the proposition that God is Love and He DID order the genocide of the Amorites?

Or just dispositionally impossible?

By the way are there literary forms which combine the mythic and the literal? So that Genesis 1-2 is easily reconciled as perfectly historically precise about named individuals and mythic, allegorical about Days of Creation. Or literal about recreation?

Could Noah be true? Jonah? Could God be a faithful and true witness to His intervention in history? Or did God have to bow to our ignorance and tell us fairy stories?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not:
By the way are there literary forms which combine the mythic and the literal?

A beautiful idea. The metaphoric aspect of the events of the Bible do not necessarily negate their literal reality.

Although I believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are pure allegory, with no literal basis in the events as described, I believe that the entire rest of the Bible happened as described.

It was important that these events actually take place.

The reason is that just as these events had to be described as they were in order to fill the requirements of the divine metaphor, they also needed to TAKE PLACE as described in order fulfil those same requirements. They pre-figured Jesus and His wor. If they had not happened then Jesus would have needed to come the moment Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden.

Does that make any sense?
 


Posted by Ham 'n' Eggs (# 629) on :
 
Bonzo - do you have any non-selfjustifying basis for believing that the use of reason is pre-eminent? Or have you assumed it, or been taught it and accepted it without question?
 
Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
Where I get confused is with those who want not to take 7 day creation literally as Martin does, or to take the first 11 chapters of Genesis non-literally as Freddy does, but then to say that the rest did happen as literally written. Where do you draw the line?

As a non-literalist I apply more or less the same principles to the whole text - I know empirically that God speaks to me through it, but my view on whether it literally happened is more or less a 'balance of probabilities' test, though I can't ignore the baggage I bring with me.

What I can't see is how Martin can look at the 7 days as mythic, but not to apply the same principle to the rest of Genesis, which certainly READS like myth to me - it has the story forms and conventions of myth. Where is the dividing line?

That's not an attack, btw. I'd like to know the answer, I genuinely don't understand the mindset. I understand a rigid literalism rather more easily, even though I don't agree with it.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Me too Mike.

quote:

Originally posted by Ham 'n' Eggs

Bonzo - do you have any non-selfjustifying basis for believing that the use of reason is pre-eminent? Or have you assumed it, or been taught it and accepted it without question?


I have no basis to believe that the use of reason is pre-eminent other than reason is the thing God has given us to decide what is right or wrong.

(For those who don't know what pre-eminent is the dictionary says 'excelling others; distinguished beyond others in some quality' I didn't know either)

You can say 'I think therefore I am'. But that isn't necessarily true since you might be mad and therefore your logic might be twisted.

What I question is people who say they use reason and clearly do not. I'm quite happy to accept a literalist who says (on a regular basis) that their idea has no basis in reason.

Does that make sense?

Martin PC not

I'm sorry, I've rather ignored your posts so far. The reason is that up until the penultimate one, I hadn't understood a single one (on any thread!).

Your last post I think I fully understood about half of. My intellect is not as great as you imagine! Could you re-phrase it in plainer English? Are your question marks rhetorical or are you expecting an answer. What does dispositionally impossible mean. And what are nasty, illiberal skeletons in the cupboard?

I'm not trying to be funny - I just, plain, don't understand you. Please try to talk down to me at a level we can both understand.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mike Truman:
Where I get confused is with those who want not to take 7 day creation literally as Martin does, or to take the first 11 chapters of Genesis non-literally as Freddy does, but then to say that the rest did happen as literally written. Where do you draw the line?

I can certainly understand the question. As I see it there is no way of escaping the need to draw a line somewhere.

No one disputes that at least some of the biblical characters are genuine historical figures, and that at least some of the events actually took place. It is certainly reasonable to accept the historicity of those things in the Bible that can be independently confirmed, and to see the rest of it as "history metaphorized," as Marcus Borg puts it. I happen to believe that more of it actually happened - for the reason explained above in my last post.

To my mind, however, the first eleven chapters are clearly set apart, along with Job, and actually can't have happened as written. But the rest is all within the realm of possibility, assuming miracles are possible.

I realize that it is far-fetched to think that actual conversations could have been preserved over centuries before they were written down, or that Jonah was eaten by a fish and lived. But the acceptance of the possibility of miracles is pretty much a given in Christianity.

Probably the biggest question is whether the Bible is in any sense a book specially written and preserved by God, or if it is simply another ancient book - that has just happened to be central to the belief system of a third of the people on this planet.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
I can see that many people would draw a line in different places.

What I don't see is why they need to draw a hard and fast line.

Ask me about most of the Bible and I'll say things like:

'There's a fair chance this is what happened'

or:

'I think that it's unlikely that this is true'

There are only a few parts where I have to say:

'To believe this then you've got to abandon reason'

If it could be true why not say so? If you've got good reason to believe it not to be true then argue your point.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
What I don't see is why they need to draw a hard and fast line.
If it could be true why not say so? If you've got good reason to believe it not to be true then argue your point.

Can't argue with the logic there.

The only question is what is riding on the belief. Jesus said many times that various things happened for the purpose of "fulfilling the Scriptures." If you accept any of the line of reasoning about various biblical events being somehow imperative, then this opens the door to seeing some kind of imperative in the Old Testament as well.

So it may not be simply a bunch of unrelated historical information that is easy for a believer to take or leave piece by piece. It presents itself as a cohesive whole - whether it really is or not. Calling part of it into question may or may not have logical consequences for the rest of it as well.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
IMO It isn't simply a bunch of unrelated historical information that is easy for a believer to take or leave piece by piece.

But, IMO, it doesn't present itself as a cohesive whole.

Take Isiah chapter 53 as the best example of scripture being fulfilled (there are many others).

But is the story of Samson as cohesive?
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
But is the story of Samson as cohesive?

It depends how you interpret it. My belief is that every detail of the Samson story has parallels in the life of Jesus. For example:

1. Samson's physical strength pre-figured the spiritual strength of Jesus.
2. The source of Samson's strength being his hair is reflected in the source of Jesus' stength being the literal Word of God.
3. Samson being a Nazarite has possible linguistic connection to Jesus being a Nazarene.
4. Samson's weakness for women pre-figures the ardent love that Jesus felt for Jerusalem or the church, the "daughter of Zion."
5. Samson killed more of the enemy with his death than in his lifetime, as is also true of Jesus.

I could go on, but you see what I mean. Maybe a lot of these are, or seem, far-fetched, but if you approach the Bible with this kind of mindset it is not hard to see these kinds of connections. They could be all wrong, but I find them fascinating.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
But you can approach Winnie the Pooh and the Honey tree in the same way.


The honey is like the reward in heaven.
The bees are like the sins which prevent us from getting there.
The tree is like the cross, the honey is only obtainable by coming to the cross.

Etc.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
But you can approach Winnie the Pooh and the Honey tree in the same way.

That's right. So it may be totally meaningless.

The compelling reason for me to believe in something like this is a feeling that there must be some sense to all this somewhere. If there is a God in heaven then He must have some kind of plan and system that is somehow graspable.

So starting from the assumption that it makes sense, perhaps I am willing to grasp at straws to see how it makes sense. Or maybe they are more than straws. Who can say? All I know is that I find it very interesting and helpful in my life. It just seems that it should all fit together into a sensible system.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
How about the logic that without religious knowledge that is believed to be accurate there can be no belief, and therefore no religion.

Sorry to turn back to several days ago, but I've been away. I really fail to follow the logic of the above as applied to this discussion. I don't think anyone has advanced the proposition that nothing in the Bible is accurate.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
I don't think anyone has advanced the proposition that nothing in the Bible is accurate.

Sorry. I didn't mean that anyone had. What I meant was to comment on the reliability of the knowledge. If the account in general is not considered to be reliable then it is hard to base a religion on it.

If I read an article in a newspaper I don't have to feel that every detail is exactly accurate to have confidence in the general veracity of the story. At some point, however, if enough details are called into question the whole shebang starts to go out the window.
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:

Probably the biggest question is whether the Bible is in any sense a book specially written and preserved by God, or if it is simply another ancient book - that has just happened to be central to the belief system of a third of the people on this planet.

Ah, an example of my favourite bit from 'Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. Wehn confronted with the horns of a dilemma there are many better things to do than be impaled on either of them, of which the best is to grab hold of the horns and vault onto the bull's back...

I don't accept the dichotomy. I don't belive that the Bible is 'just another ancient book', empirically God speaks to me through it like no other, and I respect the weight of tradition that says the church has found God in it. What I question is whether it is necessary to believe it is literally true in order for God to speak through it.

I would suggest that you yourself would answer 'no' to that - you surely find God speaking to you in the story of creation, the story of the fall, the story of Noah. Why then can God not be speaking through a story of Moses, a story of the wandering in the wilderness, a story of Jonah?

My point is that there is no reason for drawing the line where you draw it. If miracles can happen, the flood could have happened and left no sign. Jonah is as much a mythical tale in its form as Noah, and I don't understand how one would draw a line between them.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mike Truman:
What I question is whether it is necessary to believe it is literally true in order for God to speak through it.

You correctly guess my answer. It might all be made up. But if it is made up by God it is different than if people just made it up. God in a sense speaks through everything, so I understand that no one is denying His ability to speak through Scripture. I think the question is whether and how the Bible is different than other books. But of course all books are different from each other.

quote:
Originally posted by Mike Truman:
Jonah is as much a mythical tale in its form as Noah, and I don't understand how one would draw a line between them.

Good point. Daniel also has that feel. I draw the line where I do only because this is what my religion teaches and it makes sense to me. It would make perhaps equal sense to draw it any number of other ways - including not to draw it at all.

Some parts of the Bible seem like fact, others like fiction, some are possibly verifiable, others not. But the more I am able to distinguish the true and literal from the untrue and metaphorical, the more help it is in deciding life questions like whether anything happens to you after death and whether it is OK to get a divorce.

The Bible claims to be a vehicle for bringing happiness and peace to this earth. At least that's how I read it. So it is no small task to figure out how to hold it in your mind.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

Originally posted by Mike Truman

I don't accept the dichotomy. I don't belive that the Bible is 'just another ancient book', empirically God speaks to me through it like no other, and I respect the weight of tradition that says the church has found God in it. What I question is whether it is necessary to believe it is literally true in order for God to speak through it.



Nor do I think the Bible is just another book. For me, it's most special aspect is that it contains the stories about Jesus who is special. God definitely does speak to me through the Bible. But I can't remember the last time he spoke to me through Deuteronomy. For me there are large parts of the Bible which are less special, less inspired by God, than many Christian books.
 


Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
I would also question what we mean by God speaking through the Bible. The two main views would seem to be:

1) God decides the Bible is necessary and picks someone to reveal his message to, who then acts as a sort of celestial scribe.

2) Various people attempt to put down in words what they perceive of God. Some have a very clear vision of God's nature, others have a less clear vision.

IMO position 2 is much to be preferred. It's those authors with a cloudier perception who imagine that God orders genocides. Also, it puts the responsibility for vagaries in Scriptural writing on the human authors, whereas with position 1 you have to conclude either that God really wanted everything in the Bible to be as it is, or He was a poor dictator. But even with position 2, one can still say that God speaks to us through the text.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
IMO position 2 is much to be preferred.

I agree, except that where does that leave God? He is powerless to produce a written revelation?

Certainly in one sense position 2 is the way the process seems to take place. Although the descriptions themselves often speak of a quite clear revelation, more like position 1. But anyone can claim anything, and if I were to claim that God speaks to you through me you would be justified in doubting the validity of what I was saying - and my sanity.

The objections to position 1 are all valid. The solution that appeals to me is that God works within the parameters of position 2 to create a written revelation that is interiorly perfect despite being exteriorly flawed. The idea being that people will eventually discover the real meaning - but only when they are ready and willing to find it.

I admit to being unable to accept a world in which God is not ultimately in charge. I will therefore do anythng to rationalize my way into that world.
 


Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
quote:
I agree, except that where does that leave God? He is powerless to produce a written revelation?

Why powerless? He could have dictated a written revelation, just as he could have created the world in six days, in that he is able to do either of thse things. It just seems to me he chose not to.
 
Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
quote:

I agree, except that where does that leave God? He is powerless to produce a written revelation?
...
I admit to being unable to accept a world in which God is not ultimately in charge. I will therefore do anythng to rationalize my way into that world.

There are so many things which point to a world where God is not in charge. Look around and you wil see good people suffer horrible ilnesses, natural disasters occur and bad people amass huge wealth.

The big question is not whether, but why God doesn't take charge?

So why should the Bible be any different?

God's revelation to us is incomplete in what he shows us through our world. Why should it be complete in what he shows us in the Bible?
 


Posted by Mike Truman (# 1518) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I draw the line where I do only because this is what my religion teaches and it makes sense to me. It would make perhaps equal sense to draw it any number of other ways - including not to draw it at all.

Fair enough. As a matter of interest, do you take that as a final position ('I can't go further than this or important bits of my faith start to drop off') or as your position for the time being?

quote:
But the more I am able to distinguish the true and literal from the untrue and metaphorical, the more help it is in deciding life questions

To my own surprise, as I went through the process of doubting more and more of the literal truth, I haven't found it changes the value of the Bible texts. In fact if anything I've found it makes them deeper.

It depends, I suppose, on how you use them in the first place, and I agree that if I don't believe the 'red letter' passages were all said by Jesus then I don't have the same 'the Bible says, so I will do...' reaction. But on the whole it is what the STORY says that matters most to me. The fact that I think exile was historical but exodus was mostly not doesn't actually change the meaning of either, or indeed the meaning of the two combined.

Gauk: I must be feeling really contrary.. Again, I won't take either of those two positions. I'm nearest to 2 - it's the record of how people saw their encounter with God, BUT EVEN SO God speaks through it to us in a very special way. For me, God has not controlled the words or the contents, but uses them to speak to us.


[fixed UBB]

[ 08 May 2002: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
There are so many things which point to a world where God is not in charge.

It's not that He is not in charge, but that He doesn't seem to be in charge.

God allows unhappy and evil things to happen for the sake of a greater long-run good, which is the freedom of the human race. But all the time He is guiding the human race so that in the long run people will, of their own free will, choose to move away from the things that cause pain and towards those that bring happiness.

The Bible is the same way, as you say. The Lord's influence is often hard to see, or apparently absent, but is there nevertheless. This makes sense to me, as Bible interpretation seems legitimate to me, but I understand that not everyone would go for this approach.

These two elements, God's guidance of the writing of the Word and His guidance of the human race, coincide in the idea that He guides the human race primarily through the Word - which people can take or leave as they wish.

So in the end we can take it or leave it, or see it any number of ways. Each way has its own legitimacy.
 


Posted by Bonzo (# 2481) on :
 
Well if it helps you to think of the Bible as totally inspired, and you're not trying to say that your way is right, and you're recognising that it may not be the most obvious explanation, then I've got no problem with that stance.

However I think there is more to be gained from assuming that the Bible is the fallible work of men who were inspired to greater or lesser degrees.
 


Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Bonzo:
and you're recognising that it may not be the most obvious explanation, then I've got no problem with that stance.

Once again we are in harmony.
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
Damn, you guys are good.

I'm sorry for being unclear and will happily expand, especially on the most excellent question of drawing the line between the Biblically historic (but otherwise NOT historic, i.e. non-substantiated by other documents and archaeology) and the allegorical.

I'm afraid I can do it right here, right now, because I'm so simplistic: If a geneology, with lifespans is given, it is absolute.

(Both of Jesus' can be reconciled by BOTH being Joseph's: one his bloodline and one his adopting Father's bloodline IF his blood-father had died and his mother remarried. That, I believe, but will have to research to confirm, was the Jewish tradition at the time.)

So I have NO reason to doubt the creation of Adam and Eve by fiat, the former from river-bank mud, either at the end of a literal week of the RE-creation of life on Earth.

I certainly don't accept the evolutionary explanation, why on Earth, as a non-materialist due to its utter failure to explain the major transitions of creation, should I?

I similarly have no reason to doubt Noah's flood, particularly as the counter current into the Black Sea with its ancient, splash drowned sites, is its echo.

So why should I doubt any specific miracle? The Red Sea parting? Joshua's long day? Hezekiah's 20 minute rewinding of the sundial? Jonah? Etc, etc.

If I can swallow the incarnation, I can swallow the Heilesgeschicht that validates it and is validated by it.

To simplistic I'm sure.
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
Argh! Double-post, sorry:

So I have NO reason to doubt the creation of Adam and Eve by fiat, the former from river-bank mud, either at the end of a literal week of the RE-creation of life on Earth OR as the pinnacle of a timelessly mythically portrayed 12-15 billion year old creation process.

ToO simplistic, I'm sure
..-
 


Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
quote:
ToO simplistic, I'm sure

Yes.


Incidentally, a question for our resident doctor (AC) is it even possible for the waters of the earth to cover the whole earth? (I personally hold that "whole earth" is referring to the exploredland mass of the time, and might have a very small area)
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
The volume of water in the Earth's crust and mantle - the fountains of the deep - far outweighs the volume in the Oceans.

Mt. Ararat is 14 thousand ft high I think. The Pacific is on average 10 thousand feet deep. So a global ocean-ridge volcanic and atmospheric miracle would be required to double the volume of water on the surface. All land ice melting and thermal expansion wouldn't do it.
 


Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not:
The volume of water in the Earth's crust and mantle - the fountains of the deep - far outweighs the volume in the Oceans.

Source?

Reader Alexis
skeptical Orthodox guy
 


Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
I'll research it, but the mantle is 1800 mile deep liquid rock which has water as a chemical constituent. Rock without water in it don't look like rock. Lava, from the mantle, behaves according to how much water it has in it. The splashier and runnier, the more it has.
 
Posted by shoewoman (# 1618) on :
 
What I would like to know, Martin PC Not, is if you think it is necessary for living with God to believe in all this. I mean, if you are happy with it, that's fine, but do you consider it a necessary element of Christian faith? If so, why? Because I don't.
 
Posted by Martin PC not (# 368) on :
 
One of my favourite songs is by Porgy, I think (it might be Sportin' Life), in Porgy and Bess: 'It ain't necessarily so.'. So Schuhfrau, kein problem.

I'm just the guy on the bus trying to get home and respect intellectuality in Christians but start to lose it when all they - some Christians - can do is embrace every materialistic fad when materialism and 'scientism' - my term - is so woefully intellectualy inadequate, it seems to me (and Brian Appleyard, an agnostic), it just suits liberal rationalism.

It also smacks of elitism, esotericism.

But what do I know?

Tschuss!
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Atticus:
Incidentally, a question for our resident doctor (AC) is it even possible for the waters of the earth to cover the whole earth? (I personally hold that "whole earth" is referring to the exploredland mass of the time, and might have a very small area)

Theoretically, yes if it was fairly local.

The size of the known world at the time is irrelevent; there's no barrier around it to prevent the flood draining away so the flood would either have to be very local (ie: the filling of the Black Sea basin) or global. Having said that, Mesopotamia is generally low lying compared to the surrounding territory so to flood this area (but not cover the mountain chains to the north and east and the highground of Saudia Arabia to the south west) a depth of only 100-200m would be needed - that would still need 44750000 km3 of water (a mere 3%) of the volume of the oceans. The melting of all the earths ice caps coupled with thermal expansion of water would result in such a rise in sea water. There is, however, a problem with this: it would need a very rapid melting of ice and global warming, normally such a change in sea level would take centuries, even accelerated by industrial CO2 emissions we are currently seeing sea level changes that will be a few metres in the time scale of decades. From the Biblical account such a sea level change would need to happen over a few months - and, of course, all freeze up again on a similar time scale. I can see no way such a major climatical catastrophy could physically occur.

Of course, if you wanted a truely global flood you'd need a couple of km of water (and you'd still have the highest mountains above water) almost doubling the volume of the oceans. Absolutely no way.

Alan
 


Posted by Laura (# 10) on :
 
Administrator Hat /On

What's that sound I hear, my friends? What's that sound? I believe it's a faint, croaking sort of neighing! Yes, my friends, this horse has been dying for quite some time. I declare it DEAD.

You all can keep on, of course, over at the board where we keep this sort of thing.

Miserere Dominum horsie mortuus est.

Amen.
 


Posted by duchess (# 2764) on :
 
I need to say something here...if you are turned off by reading drippy gleeful accolades don't read this...

<ebullient bubble starts here> I am only on page 5 of this thread...I tried to stop myself after page 2 but could not...it is so refreshing to read such deep, intelligent quotes from everyone. Do you all realise how RARE that is in the Christian World of the Internet?

I have my views (which are obvious by my label of myself in my profile) but I will keep them to myself...until I am done reading all 8 (gasp!) pages of this mis-mash of theological banging of head.

I just had to drop in and say this, you all ROCK MY WORLD (yes, even you whom I thouroughly disagree with you).

<ebullient bubble ends here>


I do hope that when I post my views later (got 3 more pgs to read thru first), y'all will be nicer to me then you were to that little rodent. Poor little guy!
 


Posted by duchess (# 2764) on :
 
7 not 8...it just SEEMS like 8
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
Posted by Glen moved from Purgatory

quote:

Purgatory can be a cruel place. I read the inerrancy thread, sat down to compose a contribution and when I log on again the thread has been declared a dead horse!
So here is my effort shamelessly mounted on a new horse with a possibly less than convincing name.

Ekalb,
Thanks for your postings on the inerrancy thread – I appreciated their personal aspects.

Your interaction with Bonzo lead me to write the following which relates to the issue of epistemology and logic.

Like you I do not believe that there are knock down (unassailable) arguments for or against biblical inerrancy. To some non-inerrantists (Bonzo) that may sound odd or strained since to them the bible so clearly contains contradictions that it cannot be inerrant. I greatly sympathise with this view, but what is a knock down argument for them is clearly not seen that way by others. It all has to do with how belief in inerrancy fits within a whole set of other beliefs about other matters. For inerrantists these other matters outweigh the impact of alleged contradictions in the bible. The other reasons for inerrancy allow them to accept the often intensely strained explanations given to account for alleged errors.

A metaphor that I find extremely helpful in this connection is one used by the philosopher Susan Haack. She likens epistemology to doing a crossword. When you try and solve a crossword you have to do two things at the same time: get the answers to fit the clues and get the answers to fit in with each other. Logically it is possible for there to be more than one solution to a crossword. The different sets of answers may fit the clues and each other.

In practice you may be so certain of the answer to one clue that you are prepared to reject the most obvious answer to another clue because it doesn’t fit with the answer you are most certain of. So people like Wenham and Packer appear to be certain that Jesus believed in the inerrancy of scripture and that Jesus, being God must be right. Being certain of that when they are faced with the clue given by the many apparent errors in the bible they feel that they cannot draw the obvious answer from that clue: that the bible contains errors. Like Ekalb, they live with the tension that creates because the other beliefs seem sufficiently secure and in tune with other clues.

Speaking personally, I spent the first ten years or so of my Christian life holding more or less to an inerrantist view of the bible. At first because that was the brand of Christianity I came to faith in, but later for reasons like Wenham and Packers. Over time, however the strain of trying to fit that ‘inerrancy’ into the crossword lead me to the view that the more reasonable approach was to give up inerrancy. The factors that lead me to abandon that position were many. As someone who had done a biology degree I eventually found young earth creationism, and anti-evolutionism impossible to agree with. This meant that I could no longer take parts of the OT as literally true. I also found that reading stuff on biblical criticism alerted me to the many differences in the gospel accounts. There were moral problems with conservative positions on issues like the position of women, homosexuality etc. There were theological problems with conservative views on other religions. I began to be less happy with the view of Jesus approach to scripture presented by Wenham and Packer – Jesus seems to be far more liberal in his approach to scripture than they would hold.

In the end it seems to me that the whole picture makes more sense if the bible is not seen as inerrant. But, of course saying that the bible is not inerrant is to say very, very little indeed about what it is. In that sense non-inerrantism is not a position but a huge range of possible positions. One may adopt the (still too conservative for my taste) positions like that of John Goldingay and IH Marshall and be non-inerrantist.

One of the saddest aspects of the inerrantist approach over the last few decades has been the tendency of some inerrantists to say that either the bible is inerrant or it is useless. Said of any other book such a statement would leap out at you as being so obviously sheer nonsense you’d laugh at it. But by saying it so earnestly they have managed to make it a shibboleth for many Christians.

My view is similar to others expressed earlier in this thread. The bible gives us a fascinating and mixed bag of writings, which convey all sorts of views to us and in amongst them are views of God and his attitudes and relationship to the world. These views and understandings developed and changed with time. But I have run out of time! More later I hope.

Glenn

--------------------

'This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute.' -Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)



 
Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
Laura:
quote:
What's that sound I hear, my friends? What's that sound? I believe it's a faint, croaking sort of neighing! Yes, my friends, this horse has been dying for quite some time. I declare it DEAD.

You all can keep on, of course, over at the board where we keep this sort of thing.



Thank you, thank you, thank you! For some reason I don't fully understand it takes a great weight off my mind to have someone else acknowledge that this discussion was running round in circles. Thank you.
 
Posted by Atticus (# 2212) on :
 
Thanks for the responses, AC and Martin, I've often argued that very point, but had nothing but common sense to back me up. Now I can quote two unknown internet chatters, chuckle.

The way I see it, regardless of your view of Scriptures (errant or inerrant) tolerance and open-mindedness is called for. Christianity has an embarrassing history of repressing truth just because it doesn't coincide with the "Living Word" as we perceive it. Frankly the more heretics we have saying "It might not be inerrant!" (myself included) the less likely we are to be proven fools by the Copernicus', Galileos and Darwins of our time.
(if "The Word" really is living, it should have no trouble flexing with the times.)
 


Posted by Laura (# 10) on :
 
*bump*
 
Posted by Lyda Rose of Sharon (# 4544) on :
 
I guess "How do we set our morality?" [Snore] wore everyone out, Laura.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
I must be some sort of glutton for punishment, either that or awfully bored. But, that morality thread in one of it's excursions into what should have been on this thread covered material not here (yes, I just read this thread in totality and copied the relevant posts here [Eek!] )

--------------------------------------------------
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot :
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
To go back to the beginning of this thread, I wanted to debate how we set our morality.

I have set my belief that the Bible is the ultimate, deciding authority.

...

The response to my position has been to question the Bible’s justification of itself as God’s word – that this is a circular argument.

...

So, why do I accept the Bible as authoritative over my reasoning? Because it claims to be God’s word, and claims that God reveals himself through his word, and experience shows this to be true – the more I submit myself to it, the more I discover God’s wonderful revelation.

Now, you started this thread by saying you want to debate how we set morality, and you've reiterated it here. Then you follow it up with 'I have set my belief that the Bible is the ultimate, deciding authority'. So er, why did you do that then? Because someone told you to? Just felt like it?

Today, I think I might set my belief that whether the toast lands butter side down will be the ultimate, deciding authority.

You are very right that the response to your position is to question 'the Bible's justification of itself as God's word' but certainly not from me because 'this is a circular argument'. I couldn't give a fig if it was a circular argument. I want to know where 'the Bible justifies itself as God's word'; where 'it claims to be God's word' and where 'it claims that God reveals himself through his word'.

I can accept the prophetic books and the Revelation as such eg. 'The words of Jeremiah... the Word of the Lord came to him...'; 'The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.' because these assert themselves to be prophecies from the Lord.

I can also accept the words recorded as being Christ's in the Gospels as 'from the Lord'.

But as soon as you start talking sexual morality (I notice homosexuality is a concern for you) those places are not where you look for guidance.

It's Paul's epistles that are the guiding light, aren't they? Now, that's not a bad thing really. In fact, I quite like St Paul. But, it is not God's Word!

I even accept where Paul says 'not I but the Lord':
quote:
1Cor7:
10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

Do you notice what he says then:
quote:
12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord
He doesn't dare to ask them to modify their behaviour as an instrument of the Word of God - because God did not say those things - He/Jesus said the bit about divorce that's why Paul can command it as a command from God. But apart from that he is asking them to adhere to moral standards by virtue of being a person with authority to set moral standards.

If St Paul doesn't dare to command those things of people as the Word of God - how do you dare to?!

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
want to know where 'the Bible justifies itself as God's word'; where 'it claims to be God's word' and where 'it claims that God reveals himself through his word'.

Fair enough. How about...

1 Thes 2:13 "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe."

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

And interstingly, Hebrews 3:7
"So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert..."
Its the Holy Spirit who is speaking - but the quote is from a psalm witten by a man. So the man writes the words, but it is God's Spirit who speaks.

This is an important point for those who say "I listen to the Spirit, so don't need the authority of the Bible". The Spirit has already spoken through the Bible - so we need to test everything we think he might be saying by what he has already said with authority - his word.

There's loads more I could quote.
quote:
It's Paul's epistles that are the guiding light, aren't they? Now, that's not a bad thing really. In fact, I quite like St Paul. But, it is not God's Word!
Intersetingly, even Paul's words are called scripture - God's word. For again here is a man writing, but the Spirit speaking. So Peter says,

"He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction."

quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot :
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
...I want to know where 'the Bible justifies itself as God's word'; where 'it claims to be God's word' and where 'it claims that God reveals himself through his word'.

Fair enough. How about...

1 Thes 2:13 "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe."

Merp! Reverse! Reverse!

Paul was passionate about one thing, that was to preach the Good News of Christ Crucified. And Paul himself makes a distinction between what is a command from God and what is his desire for the standard of moral conduct of Christians in the various Churches. Anyway, if all the prescriptive (not in a perjorative sense) bits of Acts are the Word of God, it rather makes the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection a by-word. So nice try, but no cigar.

Now I am not saying that Paul's teachings in the Epistles are without merit. But they should be recognised for what they are: exhortations to a moral standard by a person in authority. And exhortations for a specific time and place. Not words from a mouthpiece for God. And the only one that he says is of God concerns divorce which unlike homosexuality is one of the ones that is often considered negotiable!
quote:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Merp! Don't think so. See 2 Timothy 3:15
quote:
15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Paul's (or whoever wrote Timothy, tis unimportant) letters are believed to predate the Gospels. How old is Timothy? 20, 25? It's likely the Holy Scriptures referred to here are the OT. Paul never claims to have written scripture. Scripture is, as it asserts here, God-breathed. He expressly states that what he says is 'I, not the Lord' - more evidence that what he writes is *not* Scripture. Are you going to insist that Paul wrote scripture when he himself never insisted?!
quote:
Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.
So, I contend again, that except where he notes otherwise, Paul's letters are the writings of someone with authority and trustworthy in interpreting a godly way to live. But not timeless, excisable-as- written-and-transportable-to-modern-life words from the Lord. So, some bits of the Bible you are calling the Word of God and using as your ultimate external authority, are the judgements of a man who has distilled the essence of how to live like Christ, for the people. There are other holy people: Popes, bishops, saints through the ages that are capable of doing this.
quote:
And interstingly, Hebrews 3:7
"So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert..."
Its the Holy Spirit who is speaking - but the quote is from a psalm witten by a man. So the man writes the words, but it is God's Spirit who speaks.

Yes, as I said, I am not contesting the prophetic or mystical writings in the Bibles as not being revelations from God.
quote:
quote:
Coot:
It's Paul's epistles that are the guiding light, aren't they? Now, that's not a bad thing really. In fact, I quite like St Paul. But, it is not God's Word!

Fish Fish:
Intersetingly, even Paul's words are called scripture - God's word. For again here is a man writing, but the Spirit speaking. So Peter says,
quote:
2 Peter 3: 16
He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.


τας λοιπας γραφας - what is translated as 'the other Scriptures'. This is hardly a clincher that Paul's writings are scriptures. I don't pretend to have a knowledge of NT gk, but from a bit of overlap as a native modern gk speaker, 'γραφας' (someone correct me if wrong) is a common or garden word meaning 'documents/writings'. He doesn't say Holy Scriptures like in 2 Tim 3:15.
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
2 Peter 3: 16
He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures , to their own destruction.

quote:
τας λοιπας γραφας - what is translated as 'the other Scriptures'. This is hardly a clincher that Paul's writings are scriptures. I don't pretend to have a knowledge of NT gk, but from a bit of overlap as a native modern gk speaker, 'γραφας' (someone correct me if wrong) is a common or garden word meaning 'documents/writings'. He doesn't say Holy Scriptures like in 2 Tim 3:15.

Actually, they use exactly the same word (though one is accusative, the other imperative) - and its the word consistently used in the NT for "scriptures" (Matt 21:42, John 5:39 etc.) I don't have time to deal with the rest - and its dead horse teretory - but Peter is definately calling Paul's writings scriptures on a par with the OT writings.
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
No, he's calling both "Writings" - the translation of Graphas. That's all "Scripture" means as well - "The Writings".

If I use the same word for "cats" as in domestic moggies, and "cats" as in the family Felidae, does it follow that I'm saying that tigers and Tiddles are the same kind of thing?

quote:
Originally posted by Talitha:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Actually, they use exactly the same word (though one is accusative, the other imperative) - and its the word consistently used in the NT for "scriptures"

I'm not a Greek scholar either, but I very much doubt that the word is used in the imperative.

(And Paul said to them, 'Scriptures!' And they scripturesed. Go on, Fish Fish, go and scriptures for us.)

quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
I know it isn't, unless Imperative stopped being a verb mood and became a noun case since I left school.

But I let it pass.

quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
I know it isn't, unless Imperative stopped being a verb mood and became a noun case since I left school.

But I let it pass.

Not sure when you graduated (probably circa when I did), but I'm pretty sure it hasn't.
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
No, he's calling both "Writings" - the translation of Graphas. That's all "Scripture" means as well - "The Writings".

If I use the same word for "cats" as in domestic moggies, and "cats" as in the family Felidae, does it follow that I'm saying that tigers and Tiddles are the same kind of thing?

Sorry everyone - another brif dip into the debate which I hope to return to properly tonight.

But for now let me say I got "The Imperative" bit wrong - sorry. however, the nown we're quoting (don't know how to type greek!) appears 51 times in the NT, and every time is translated "Scriptures". Peter himself uses it 2 other times in his letters, and uses it to mean scriptures there. So, by any standard law of interpretation, the reference in 2 Peter 3:16 should be translated "scriptures" - unless you come to the text determined to prove otherwise...

quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
No, he's calling both "Writings" - the translation of Graphas. That's all "Scripture" means as well - "The Writings".
...

Fish Fish:
...
the nown we're quoting (don't know how to type greek!) appears 51 times in the NT, and every time is translated "Scriptures". Peter himself uses it 2 other times in his letters, and uses it to mean scriptures there. So, by any standard law of interpretation, the reference in 2 Peter 3:15 should be translated "scriptures" - unless you come to the text determined to prove otherwise...

Well no, actually

I am using as my source Bible Gateway's NIV and NT Greek versions:
quote:
See Bible Gateway's text of 2 Tim 3:15:
15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

What Timothy has known from his youth are 'the Holy Scriptures', which are obviously OT scripture. In the NT Greek that is 'τα ιερα γραμματα' [the Holy Writings] which is different from 'τας (λοιπας) γραφας' [the (other) writings/documents] that Peter says of Paul's letters (NIV and Gk). I don't think that shows that Paul's writings are on par with the Holy Scripture of the OT.
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
Well, after doing my hostly duties, I've just had another read of this whole thread. Not sure why I have given it so much of my time, possibly a morbid fascination with your stubbornness (coff coff, I mean, 'conviction'), Fish Fish.

I noticed I said 'Acts' when I meant 'NT'; referring to the prescriptive parts of the Bible - Acts of course being traditionally accepted as 'descriptive' rather than 'prescriptive' in more literalist evangelical circles.

Also that imperative/accusative thing; I think you may have been meaning fem. singular: 'τας (...) γραφας' (2Tim3:16) and plural: 'τας (...) γραφας' (2Pet3:16). But my point as mentioned above, is that 2Tim3:15 refers to a different word in the neut. plural: 'τα (ιερα) γραμματα'; for the OT writings.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
No, he's calling both "Writings" - the translation of Graphas. That's all "Scripture" means as well - "The Writings".
...

Fish Fish:
...
the nown we're quoting (don't know how to type greek!) appears 51 times in the NT, and every time is translated "Scriptures". Peter himself uses it 2 other times in his letters, and uses it to mean scriptures there. So, by any standard law of interpretation, the reference in 2 Peter 3:15 should be translated "scriptures" - unless you come to the text determined to prove otherwise...

Well no, actually

I am using as my source Bible Gateway's NIV and NT Greek versions:
quote:
See Bible Gateway's text of 2 Tim 3:15:
15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

What Timothy has known from his youth are 'the Holy Scriptures', which are obviously OT scripture. In the NT Greek that is 'τα ιερα γραμματα' [the Holy Writings] which is different from 'τας(λοιπας) γραφας' [the (other) writings/documents] that Peter says of Paul's letters (NIV and Gk). I don't think that shows that Paul's writings are on par with the Holy Scripture of the OT.

The trouble is, wherever else the word is used, it is used to mean the scriptures. For example, take Matthew 22:29
quote:
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
He uses exactly the same words in Greek for "the" and "scriptures/writings". (See also Luke 24:32, 24:45, John 5:39 etc). The only difference is the insertion of the word "other" in Peter's letter. If all the other examples really refer to scriptures, why should we translate the majority as "Scriptures" and only Peter's as "writings"?

I hope you saw my appology to you in Hell ("I want to appologise to Mr Coot for suggesting that he may be intelectually dishonest - that was unfair of me and I'm sorry"). But I must admit, I really cannot see any reason to justify your interpretation!!!

quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
Regarding 'tas grafas' and Scriptures. I guess a salient point here is authorship and who is speaking in the writing. For instance there is a tradition that Mark's gospel is written down from an account by Peter, who in turn got the juicy bits from the BVM. So maybe I would be more convinced if 'tas grafas' was used in that gospel (as I haven't conducted a systematic study I don't know - pls tell me if you or other posters do) to mean the OT, but yet, if the word is used by Jesus it still does not mean that the use of Jesus is the same as the use of Peter.

I think the significant thing for me is that when Paul wanted to stress the OT (the recognised God-inspired writings of the time) he used the 'iepa' (Holy) 'grammata' (writings; a diff. word to 'grafas' - sorry writing this quickly and not using the Char. Map). My view is at odds with say, the Orthodox view, who do see 2Pet3:16 (according to their study bible - a plot! a plot! - no really, I was just reading it to um, see what they think) as evidence that Peter considers Paul's writings on par with the OT.

My personal view is that Peter uses 'tas grafas' because he is referring to both the (considered to be by them) God-breathed writings of the OT and the apostles' writings, but not because they are all in the same category of writings.

Like I said before, even if I was incontrovertibly shown that Paul's writings were God-breathed, it would make little difference to me, because I take as my cue the Orthodox position (for example - no really, I'm not succumbing) which is that the Bible should not be read apart from the Church. And, they were the first (and continue), so, they should know!

Thankyou also, for your apology.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
Regarding 'tas grafas' and Scriptures. I guess a salient point here is authorship and who is speaking in the writing. For instance there is a tradition that Mark's gospel is written down from an account by Peter, who in turn got the juicy bits from the BVM. So maybe I would be more convinced if 'tas grafas' was used in that gospel

p.s. Try Mark 12:24, and almost the same, 14;49
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
What I'm looking for more is where the author uses the word to describe what Jesus is doing, rather than the words out of Jesus' mouth (and that the author is the same author of the letters called Peter). In other words, strong evidence for me would be a piece of writing attributed to Peter where he says eg. 'Jesus read from the Scriptures'. Rather than Jesus saying 'Today this Scripture etc', because that could be purely writing down the words as Jesus spoke them.

But still, have just done a perfunctory search (I'm not set up for this - any useful books I have are packed in a box) and find Acts 18:28
quote:
28For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Even though Acts is not considered to be by same writer as the letters I find this more persuasive because it shows 'των γραφων' (plural possessive) being used specifically for the OT scriptures. If this noun also was used by Peter (or author of the letters) elsewhere to mean the OT scriptures, then I think I would accept it as solid evidence.

So I'll move to accepting that Paul's writings were held with the same esteem as the OT scriptures , but I don't see this as demonstrating them god-breathed... I mean, he says they're not in parts!!!

But my interest in pursuing this relates back to your OP, which is to determine whether or not (I think so and am yet to be shown otherwise) if you set your morality by the Bible (specifically the epistles), you are setting it to the moral standards of a man. I am not contesting that he was a man with authority with the power and right to set those moral standards, but the significance is: the moral standards of God are the same yesterday, today, tomorrow; whereas the moral standards of the man are constrained by his context.

In other words, the crucial point is: are the (1 example) Pauline epistles 'God-Breathed'? - I think they themselves don't assert this. Also, I would like to examine the structure of that sentence 2Tim3:16 a bit more closely and I'll start a thread in Kerygmania presently if it has not already been done there or in DH. (Hosts, please advise if this is dead horse territory)


 
Posted by Opthalmos (# 3256) on :
 
Why oh why oh why oh why oh why...
 
Posted by Grits (# 4169) on :
 
Alan Cresswell, you're my hero!!! [Big Grin]
 
Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
 
Alan is going to heaven when he dies. But until then, he'll be at the funny farm. [Biased]
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Opthalmos:
Why oh why oh why oh why oh why...

Because I found it to be an interesting discussion, that should have been here in the first place, even though my knowledge of greek is insufficient to actually contribute. I put it here because I was interesting in knowing if there was anything else anyone has to add ... I'd have done it sooner but didn't have time.
 
Posted by Opthalmos (# 3256) on :
 
Fair enough! [Smile]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Young Mr. Coot:
So I'll move to accepting that Paul's writings were held with the same esteem as the OT scriptures , but I don't see this as demonstrating them god-breathed... I mean, he says they're not in parts!!!

Logic -
Paul says All Scripture is God-breathed
Peter says Paul's writings are scripture
Thus Paul's writings are also God breathed

The fact that Paul says "All" scriptures are God breathed, but the Bible is not complete when he wrote this, is no argument against his writings being God breathed. We didn't have to wait for the Bible to be complete before Genesis became God breathed - each book was breathed, and the totality at the time of Paul's writing we all God breathed, and now the Bible is complete, its all scripture, and all God breathed.

quote:
if you set your morality by the Bible (specifically the epistles), you are setting it to the moral standards of a man. I am not contesting that he was a man with authority with the power and right to set those moral standards, but the significance is: the moral standards of God are the same yesterday, today, tomorrow; whereas the moral standards of the man are constrained by his context.
These are simultaniously the writings of a man and yet the writings of God. God breathes, man writes. So the standards absolutely are the those of God - and setting our morals by the epistles is setting them by God's standards.

How can man write and yet God be authoritative. Thats the mystery of God's providence. Another example of this mystery is the cross - It's God's will that Jesus dies, and so he controls all the people to get Jesus crucified just as planned - even to the point where Jesus legs are not broken to fulfill prophecy. Yet those who crucified Jesus are free people doing what they wanted to do. God breathes, but people act.

And we believe this in practice - otherwise we do we pray for God to act in people's lives? People are totally free - yet God can act to infulence them.

Perhaps this is a whole new thread! How does God guide us and preserve our freedom. Fun!

[ 11. February 2004, 08:32: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Godfather Avatar (# 4513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Logic -
Paul says All Scripture is God-breathed
Peter says Paul's writings are scripture
Thus Paul's writings are also God breathed

Er, you've missed out the bit where you prove they both understand "scripture" to mean the same thing, or where either of them is necessarily correct in what they say.

And that's even assuming your premises are correct -- I may have become confused, but I thought Mr Coot cited two different words, graphas and grammas?

Incidentally, if "all" scripture is God-breathed, that presumably includes the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Adi Granth and so on. Or does Paul not necessarily mean "all" scripture?
quote:
It's God's will that Jesus dies, and so he controls all the people to get Jesus crucified just as planned
Eek. How horrible. What exactly do you base that on, then?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
Er, you've missed out the bit where you prove they both understand "scripture" to mean the same thing, or where either of them is necessarily correct in what they say.

And that's even assuming your premises are correct -- I may have become confused, but I thought Mr Coot cited two different words, graphas and grammas?

Nope - we've agreed that isn't the case - its the same word. You'll have to follow the discussion above for that.

quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
Incidentally, if "all" scripture is God-breathed, that presumably includes the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Adi Granth and so on. Or does Paul not necessarily mean "all" scripture?

All scripture from the Christian God - the God Paul defines as "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ".

quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
Eek. How horrible. What exactly do you base that on, then?

That would be the Bible! Which bit makes you go eek?! I feel a new thread coming on...!
 
Posted by Godfather Avatar (# 4513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Nope - we've agreed that isn't the case - its the same word. You'll have to follow the discussion above for that.

Ah, fair enough.
quote:
All scripture from the Christian God - the God Paul defines as "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ".
You see, I don't see Paul specifying that. I see that as your interpretation of the word "scripture".
quote:
That would be the Bible!
And more specifically? Where does the Bible suggest that Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod and the mob who asked for Barabbas rather than Jesus did so at God's behest?
quote:
Which bit makes you go eek?!
Largely the idea that God would desire such a thing, or inflict the guilt of responsibility for it on human beings.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
You see, I don't see Paul specifying that. I see that as your interpretation of the word "scripture".

Well, I'm not sure I can quote Chapter and Verse on this - But Paul's overall theology is that Jesus is God's son, and the unique revelation of God, and the sole way of salvation. It woyuuld be rather odd if he thought other writings, which say that Jesus is not these things, and thus contradict Paul, are in any way God breathed.

quote:
Where does the Bible suggest that Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod and the mob who asked for Barabbas rather than Jesus did so at God's behest?
Try Mat 26:20-25 where Jesus prophesies Judas will betray him - How could Jesus do this confiently unless he knew Judas would do it? In some sense Judas is completely responsible for denying Jesus (see Acts 1:18), but in another sense he is guided by God to fulfill Jesus' prophecy.

[Edited to fix UBB code]

[ 12. February 2004, 07:45: Message edited by: TonyK ]
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
You see, I don't see Paul specifying that. I see that as your interpretation of the word "scripture".

Well, I'm not sure I can quote Chapter and Verse on this - But Paul's overall theology is that Jesus is God's son, and the unique revelation of God, and the sole way of salvation. It woyuuld be rather odd if he thought other writings, which say that Jesus is not these things, and thus contradict Paul, are in any way God breathed.
But, what about other "scriptures"? The Didache, or assorted Jewish writings (some of which are in the Scriptures according to a very large number of Christians)? They don't all contradict Paul yet most Biblical Inerrantists say they aren't Scripture. Yet James, which arguably does present a significantly different theology to Paul, is presumably one of the God-breathed Scriptures.
 
Posted by Godfather Avatar (# 4513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:It [would] be rather odd if he thought other writings, which say that Jesus is not these things, and thus contradict Paul, are in any way God breathed.
I'm quite sure that the Bhagavad-Gita says nothing at all about Jesus.

Alan's point is more sensible, though, and bears significantly on your argument here. Given that there was no canon of Christian "scripture" at the time he was writing, how on Earth are we to know what Paul considered God-breathed?
quote:
Try Mat 26:20-25 where Jesus prophesies Judas will betray him - How could Jesus do this confiently unless he knew Judas would do it?
Oh, that's feeble. He doesn't even name his betrayer, until Judas gives himself away. And how would he have known? Well, according to the story, he's God. Foreknowledge is one of God's traditional attributes. It's a far cry from that to saying that God / Jesus is responsible for Judas's actions, or that they happened according to his / their will.

You're making huge assumptions in both these cases, and they come from places entirely other than the Bible.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
But, what about other "scriptures"? The Didache, or assorted Jewish writings (some of which are in the Scriptures according to a very large number of Christians)? They don't all contradict Paul yet most Biblical Inerrantists say they aren't Scripture. Yet James, which arguably does present a significantly different theology to Paul, is presumably one of the God-breathed Scriptures.

The Didache was only found relatively recenlty - and while definately an ancient writing, it contradics the rest of the NT in many places. For example, it says appostles must not stay in a city for more than 2 days - but Paul stays in Corinth for over a year. There are lots of rules about when you can and can't fast etc - which is very pharisaicle. So I think it right to assume its not God breathed.

As for James - there's no contradiction - he simply uses some similare words to Paul, but in a different sense and with different application. Its easy enough to resolve any supposed conflict.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
Alan's point is more sensible, though, and bears significantly on your argument here. Given that there was no canon of Christian "scripture" at the time he was writing, how on Earth are we to know what Paul considered God-breathed?

Paul recognised that all scriptures are God breathed.
He didn't "self attest"
That doesn't matter because others recognised his writings as scripture, and thus Giod breathed.


quote:
Oh, that's feeble. He doesn't even name his betrayer, until Judas gives himself away. And how would he have known? Well, according to the story, he's God. Foreknowledge is one of God's traditional attributes. It's a far cry from that to saying that God / Jesus is responsible for Judas's actions, or that they happened according to his / their will.
I'm definately not saying Jesus was responsible for Judas' actions. But I am saying God is in control in such a way as to guide events to the conclusion he wants:

quote:
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please...What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.
(Isaiah 46:9-11)

He is providently in control, yet preserves our responsibility for the actions we choose. So, he can authoritatively guide the scriptures (God breathed), but preserve human "freedom" to write as they choose.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
I think I know what Fish fish is getting at, and, in a sense, [shock horror] I agree with him.

Are we actually talking about God working through the contingency of human action to produce His intended end result? This is fair enough; God used my parents' free choices about what to do one night back in the summer of '67, and further back, the chance event of my father joining my mother's dancing class. God worked through the chance mutation and natural selection of the evolutionary process to create the human race in the first place. And so on and so forth.

What I don't see here is any direct evidence that God did work in this manner to produce a Scripture that is inspired in the way Fish Fish thinks it is.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
I think I know what Fish fish is getting at, and, in a sense, [shock horror] I agree with him.

[Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!] [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
What I don't see here is any direct evidence that God did work in this manner to produce a Scripture that is inspired in the way Fish Fish thinks it is.

"...God breathed..."
More convincingly, perhaps, is what I quoted above...

quote:
Hebrews 3:7
"So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert..."
Its the Holy Spirit who is speaking - but the quote is from a psalm witten by a man. So the man writes the words, but it is God's Spirit who speaks.


 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
Actually, I find "God-breathed" and "profitable for..." rather a weak claim compared with the inerrancy and "actual Word of God" doctrines that are hung upon it. In Genesis Adam's life was "God breathed" but it didn't make him perfect by a long shot, as evidenced by his rather easily accomplished transition to the Dark Side.

Your quote from Hebrews shows that the writer equates the message of the Psalm with the message of the Holy Spirit. This is, again, a far cry from inerrancy. Moreover, the Psalm is interesting - it starts talking as if God, in the first person. The bit actually quoted is presented specifically as God speaking. Most Scripture is not like this; it speaks about God in the third person.
 
Posted by The Coot (# 220) on :
 
Grafas and grammata are the plurals (Nom. f; Nom. neut.) of 2 different words (From 2 Pet and 2 Tim respectively). If you look at the last post in the list cut and pasted by Alan (You're a titan, Mr Creswell); you'll see that I conceded (well semi) the point based on an occurrence of the word 'grafas' in Acts 18:28 which is 'commentary' rather than a quote of someone speaking.

I didn't find the Mark gospel quote of 'grafas' strong - as we were looking for an occasion of 'grafas' by the hand or dictation of Peter (or the write of Peter) where he clearly meant the OT scriptures and the occurrence in Mark was out of the mouth of Jesus.

However, the Acts quote must refer to the Holy Scriptures of the OT (strong) - since the Scriptures/grafas were used to prove to Jews that Jesus was the Christ - hence they can only be the OT.

Why I do not fully concede the point is that there is still a weakness in that (I don't believe, correct me if wrong) the writer of Acts is not the writer of the Petrine Epistles; and the use of the word grafas might vary from writer to writer.

[I'm sure you will all be pleased to hear I'm currently researching the grammatical structure of 2 Tim 3: 16 - intuitively I'd read the Gk as 'All God-breathed and useful scripture is for...']

But like I said before, I rely on holy, wise and learned people to tell me what the Scriptures mean. Because I am not those things, and there is no way the Scriptures are plain - for a start they are in translation of an effectively dead language (NT/koine Gk). Its nearest relative, 'katharevousa' stopped being the official language of Greece in about 1979. Official language = use in official things; ordinary people can barely understand it.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
The Didache was only found relatively recenlty - and while definately an ancient writing, it contradics the rest of the NT in many places. For example, it says appostles must not stay in a city for more than 2 days - but Paul stays in Corinth for over a year. There are lots of rules about when you can and can't fast etc - which is very pharisaicle. So I think it right to assume its not God breathed.

My books are on the other side of the Atlantic at the moment, and I've better things to be doing while visiting my fiance on Valentines Day than Google stuff, but I'm pretty sure the Didache has been known for a long time. I've certainly seen references to it used by several posters on the Ship over the years to demonstrate the antiquity of several church practices. If someone hasn't filled in the details by the time I'm home I'll have a check on that.

quote:
As for James - there's no contradiction - he simply uses some similare words to Paul, but in a different sense and with different application. Its easy enough to resolve any supposed conflict.
Actually I agree that the supposed conflict is largely non-existant, mostly in a matter of emphasis rather than the underlying message. That hasn't stopped people like Luther being very dismissive of this "epistle of straw".
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
The Didache was known to Eusebius, and according to the Catholic encyclopedia,

quote:
St. Athanasius and Rufinus add the "Teaching" to the sapiential and other deutero-canonical books. (Rufinus gives the curious alternative title "Judicium Petri".) It has a similar place in the lists of Nicephorus, Pseudo-Anastasius, and Pseudo-Athanasius (Synopsis). The Pseudo-Cyprianic "Adversus Aleatores" quotes it by name. Unacknowledged citations are very common, if less certain. The "Two Ways" appears in Barnabas, cc. xviii-xx, sometimes word for word, sometimes added to, dislocated, or abridged, and Barn., iv, 9 is from Didache, xvi, 2-3, or vice versa. Hermas, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen seem to use the work, and so in the West do Optatus and the "Gesta apud Zenophilum". The Didascalia Apostolorum (q. v.) are founded upon the Didache. The Apostolic church ordinance has used a part, the Apostolic Constitutions have embodied the Didascalia. There are echoes in Justin, Tatian, Theophilus, Cyprian, and Lactantius.
It was "rediscovered" in a codex from a monastery in the Holy Land in 1873 and first published (in the modern era) in 1883.

I was less successful in determining when it was "lost" and whether the churches of the east (Orthodox, Monophysite, Nestorian, or otherwise) were sitting on it while the west lacked it (as is, alas, too often the case). But anyway this is a start to a SOF didachology.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
Thanks Mousethief, I could have guessed it would be one of our Orthodox friends who'd teach me something new about the Didache.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Posted by Father Gregory in Purgatory
quote:
Just to add a little more to the cake mix, (and I know all you guys won't agree with this by a long way); in the Orthodox Church we place great store by how the fathers interpreted Scripture. We don't say that this THE way but we do give their interpretations a certain priority in hermeneutics. If of course something crops up that they were not asked to address or didn't know then we simply proceed on the basis of their method and approach. Since this was itself a catholic (inclusive) mind we feel safe doing that ... but as for some bright spark who has just had a really cool idea about this, that or the other verse .... well, we submit that to the critique of others. It may be true, it may not. Only the mind of the Church (the scribes and editors of God's Word) can do that safely and rescue us from the vagaries of idiosyncratic interpretations penned by individuals no matter how learned.
I have to say this isn't that far from the way I would use an evangelical commentator I respect to help me interpret the Bible. Of course if there is a huge body of opinion from people who's views I respect I will lean towards their interpretation.
I suppose the difference is that I wouldn't view it as authoritative, and I wouldn't want it to become an accepted or formalised interpretative framework, because I do believe in (and many of you will think I am mad) in the perspicuity of Scripture to the individual. I don't trust the "mind of the church" as a whole to interpret on my behalf. And I'm glad Matin Luther didn't too. [Razz]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Hi Lep,

Glad you've decided to pop over here, as I was kinda keen to explore some inerrancy themes with you.

I guess my main issue with inerrancy is that if you come to the text with an explicit idea of interpretting such that it doesn't err, than you aren't actually creating the best circumstance for impartial understanding of the text and thus 'true meaning' of the text.

I'm thinking of some of the more interesting ideas suggested to resolve supposed 'errors' in the text (Judas's death as case in point...)

AB
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
I guess it's a matter of emphasis Leprechaun. There is also the issue of the dependability of previous commentary. As far as the Orthodox are concerned we tend only to trust learned saints of proven pedigree. We make a distinction between formal teaching and theological opinion in that regard.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:

I guess my main issue with inerrancy is that if you come to the text with an explicit idea of interpretting such that it doesn't err, than you aren't actually creating the best circumstance for impartial understanding of the text and thus 'true meaning' of the text.

AB

I have a confession. I have not read this whole thread. Neither am I going to. So if all of this has been said before, forgive me.
For me, its a character of God issue. The reason I come to the Bible with a presumption of inerrancy now, is because I have come to know the God of the Bible as one who only speaks the truth.
Coming knowing the author of the text will therefore only help me understand it better rather than obscuring the meaning.
I am assuming we all agree with that description of God's character.
So I think you are left with choices, of watering down the idea of inspiration (saying there are mistakes, but they are not God's, which is the path of most liberal scholarship) or opting for inerrancy, within the bounds of genre and subject matter (which are big caveats.)
Simply put, that's why I believe it.

Er...not sure what else to say...

[ 17. February 2004, 13:25: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Dear Leprechaun

God speaks through the Bible ... certainly ... but he still speaks through fallible human agents. We are not like Muslims who believe that Allah simply dictated to Muhammad what he should write.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
Dear Leprechaun

God speaks through the Bible ... certainly ... but he still speaks through fallible human agents. We are not like Muslims who believe that Allah simply dictated to Muhammad what he should write.

I don't disagree with this. But the Bible assures us in many places that its words are "the word of the Lord" even though they are spoken to us through human people. This part of the great richness and variety of the Bible, yet it doesn't undermine its reliability. IMO anyway.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
I don't think it makes any such claim.

It claims from place to place that a given passage is "the Word of the Lord", but the text itself as a whole, no, not that I can see.
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
I agree Karl. We need to factor into that the variant manuscripts, the extra-ending to St. Mark's gospel, the woman caught in adultery add-on in St. John etc. Of course in Islam, Caliph Uthman had all the variant texts of the Qur'an destroyed so there could be no obvious challenge to claims of Qur'anic inerrancy from text variancy. More honestly IMO the Church zealously kept all the variant MSS. We may not be talking here about errancy in relation to these comparative vatiants ... but we are certainly not positing:- "God says ... write this ..." Of course it has always puzzled me why Protestant Christians don't follow through the logic of this and ascribe to the Church community and authors their proper roles in God guided / inspired Tradition. Well, maybe some do but it rather weakens Sola Scriptura doesn't it? Needless to say I do accept the Bible as God's Word but not divorced from the fallible elements that comprise its human expression. More importantly the Word is the Logos. We believe in a Person, not a Book.

[ 17. February 2004, 14:47: Message edited by: Fr. Gregory ]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
The reason I come to the Bible with a presumption of inerrancy now, is because I have come to know the God of the Bible as one who only speaks the truth.

Though that begs the question "what is truth?". Is it possible the something factually incorrect could be truth? If so, is it wrong to interpret the Bible to maintain our interpretation of truth?

Food for thought...

AB
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
I agree Karl....Needless to say I do accept the Bible as God's Word but not divorced from the fallible elements that comprise its human expression. More importantly the Word is the Logos. We believe in a Person, not a Book. [/QB]

I am a little bit confused as how you agree with Karl's statement that the Bible is not the word of the Lord, and then later in the post say that you believe it is.
The Jesus/Bible dialectic when it comes to the phrase "word of the Lord" is one I am familiar with, but think it is a strange discussion - revelation is through words, ultimately THE word made flesh, but even our revelation of Him comes through words. According to you, a lot of which could be mistaken. Which Jesus do you actually believe in then?
Karl, there is another thread on this, I can't remember where - most specifically 2 Tim 3:16, but this covers a whole range of issues about apostolic authority, canonisation, and the Jewish view of the OT that I can't be bothered with. If you don't accept the whole Bible as verbally inspired there is no reason to accept it as inerrant, I agree.

AB, you big postmodern you! [Two face] Personally I'm not a big fan of saying something can be true without it being true. But there you go...
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Oh, and the other thing I meant to say,
My point in my previous post was not that the whole Bible is God's word (although I think it is) but that in the OT the "word of the Lord" often came through human agents while still being called "the word of the Lord". As such I have no concptual problem with believing that to be true of the whole Bible, even though it was not "dictated".
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Yes, I'm sorry Leprechaun. I had not read Karl's post carefully enough. I don't agree with him on that. The whole Bible is the Word of the Lord ... but that doesn't mean that I take it to be inerrant ... eg., which would involve accepting the cosmology / creation process description of Genesis.

You rightly refer to the subset category of prophetic inspiration and utterance as from God.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
eg., which would involve accepting the cosmology / creation process description of Genesis.

Well I'm not sure it would particularly, although I know lots of people who would stone me for saying so. I think I believe that the Bible is inerrant, but because of the genre of Genesis don't think it is trying to describe cosmology
quote:

You rightly refer to the subset category of prophetic inspiration and utterance as from God.]

So, just to clarify, do you think those bits are inerrant, even though they were delivered through people, and often, not in the first person?
 
Posted by CorgiGreta (# 443) on :
 
In my opinion, the 500 pound gorilla is not inerrancy, but the great leap from that notion to the idea that the Bible provides simple, authoritative, indisputalbe answers to every moral issue we individually and collectively confront.

I'm sorry, but I am unable to find more than a scant few issues that I can resolve with a simple "The Bible says....." solution. I find that I have to work through these issues carefully and prayerfully in fear and trembling, and having done so, to nevertheless respect and even love those who reach opposite conslusions (and who in many cases seem to damn and demonize me for my conclusions)

Greta
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Let's move away slightly from "thus saith the Lord" and consider Samuel's proclamation of the divine ban against the Amalekites. Was that inerrant? Did God really want all those poor benighted souls put to the sword? Uhmmmm.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CorgiGreta:
In my opinion, the 500 pound gorilla is not inerrancy, but the great leap from that notion to the idea that the Bible provides simple, authoritative, indisputalbe answers to every moral issue we individually and collectively confront.

I'm sorry, but I am unable to find more than a scant few issues that I can resolve with a simple "The Bible says....." solution. I find that I have to work through these issues carefully and prayerfully in fear and trembling, and having done so, to nevertheless respect and even love those who reach opposite conslusions (and who in many cases seem to damn and demonize me for my conclusions)

Greta

I agree with this. I'm nt sure who this is aimed at? I hope I haven't suggested that questions as to how to apply the Bible's teaching today aren't difficult.
FG, I will address your issue when I have more time.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
AB, you big postmodern you! [Two face] Personally I'm not a big fan of saying something can be true without it being true. But there you go...

Well, indeed - but I think post-modernism has some interesting questions - such as what constitutes truth.

I do think, as moderns, we have become too bogged down with 'facts' as truth, and have lost, say, the truth of a myth. But we are conditioned to view truth in a particular way - even my mind has a reaction to reading the word truth next to myth. Yet if Genesis 1-3 can be genred as myth (which I think you agree with Lep) then one can see the truth it contains, whilst being, as a source of factual information, untrue. I would use Jesus' parables as a second example - factually untrue, yet a rich container of truth, just expressed in a different style to a factual account.

So if one has travelled to an acceptance that facts are no longer necessarily needed to convey truth, then is it just a short step to claim that possible factual 'errors' or biases are not necessarily important in the conveyance of truth, nor threats to God's character?

AB
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:

I do think, as moderns, we have become too bogged down with 'facts' as truth, and have lost, say, the truth of a myth. But we are conditioned to view truth in a particular way - even my mind has a reaction to reading the word truth next to myth. Yet if Genesis 1-3 can be genred as myth (which I think you agree with Lep) then one can see the truth it contains, whilst being, as a source of factual information, untrue.

Hmmm. I see what you mean. I think the word myth, implies that the things did not happen. I certainly don't think that is the case for Genesis 1-3, merely that they may not be trying to provide a chronological historical account. In fact clearly they aren't because the events overlap. I think there is a subtle but important line by from saying something masquerading as truth (and Genesis "this is the account of the heavens and the earth..." implies that it does claim truth) isn't true, and saying this something doesn't claim to be true. This would certainly be the case for the parables, which I don't think Jesus ever says are true stories.

quote:

So if one has travelled to an acceptance that facts are no longer necessarily needed to convey truth, then is it just a short step to claim that possible factual 'errors' or biases are not necessarily important in the conveyance of truth, nor threats to God's character?

As I said above, this, in my view is quite a large step. From saying God expresses truth by means other than factual accounts, to God expresses truth by things that are factually false. I think this would rightly raise a question for people about whether God could be trusted at all.

FG - aside from the specific point that you raise, your logic seems to be "I can't believe God would say that, therefore it must be a mistake". I don't think that's a great line of argument as the whole Christian faith rests on God doing things which we find hard to believe (incarnation, atonement, resurrection)
I don't understand a lot of things God says or does. But Jesus assures me that God's words are true and that he is always just. That is enough.

Also, I believe that there will be a day of judgement when people who look even a lot less guilty than the Amalekites and their deviant sexual pratcices and child sacrifices looked, will face God's judgement. So, yes, I do believe that Samuel spoke for God when he said those things. Call me barbaric if you will.
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
You're defending a barbaric God. You are a promoter (unwittingly) of atheism. Nothing personal! [Biased] [Razz] [Help]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Well people have called me many things in the past, but never a promoter of atheism. How exciting. [Razz]
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
The problem is not "I can't believe God would say that", it's "a loving, merciful and forgiving God as revealed by Jesus is at odds with the God apparently revealed here".

On a personal level, it's "and this violent, barbaric bastard of a God wants me to serve Him out of love? Get out of it!"
 
Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CorgiGreta:
In my opinion, the 500 pound gorilla is not inerrancy, but the great leap from that notion to the idea that the Bible provides simple, authoritative, indisputalbe answers to every moral issue we individually and collectively confront.

Yes. Exactly. Even if every word in 2 Chronicles is true, as I'm not Jewish, I'm not a king, I'm not walking after the iniquities of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and the Assyrians aren't about to carry me off into captivity; it is not always clear what they are saying to me right now. If anything.

Using the Bible to to inform the way I handle my credit card account is at best problematic, and certainly bears thinking about at least twice.
 
Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
Hmmm. I see what you mean. I think the word myth, implies that the things did not happen. I certainly don't think that is the case for Genesis 1-3, merely that they may not be trying to provide a chronological historical account. In fact clearly they aren't because the events overlap. I think there is a subtle but important line by from saying something masquerading as truth (and Genesis "this is the account of the heavens and the earth..." implies that it does claim truth) isn't true, and saying this something doesn't claim to be true. This would certainly be the case for the parables, which I don't think Jesus ever says are true stories.

Yes.

Genesis is historically true, though written in rather allusive language.

And the action of Genesis 2.7 took about 3 billion years.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
The problem is not "I can't believe God would say that", it's "a loving, merciful and forgiving God as revealed by Jesus is at odds with the God apparently revealed here".

On a personal level, it's "and this violent, barbaric bastard of a God wants me to serve Him out of love? Get out of it!"

This is a partcularly weak argument from someone who believes that the records of Jesus life could well be full of factual mistakes.

What if I say the only bits of the Gospels I believe are those that show Jesus as angry? Fits perfectly well then.

I do love God for his holiness. I do love him that he will some day put the whole world to rights, and make peopele face up to the consequences of their actions. I do love him that even though he hates sin that much, he sent Jesus so we could be saved.
And I love Jesus for all those things too.

Your non-acceptance of what the Bible says about judgement is merely a symptom of the fact that you don't accept what it says about sin, and about God. As I said, there is no reason to accept what it says about these things if you don't believe the words are inspired.

Ken. I'm not sure who you think disagrees with you or Corgi on this. It isn't me.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
On a personal level, it's "and this violent, barbaric bastard of a God wants me to serve Him out of love? Get out of it!"

Would God be loving if he didn't punish sin?
Would he be loving if he turned a blind eye to the victims of the holocaust and left it unpunished?
Would he be loving if he shrugged his shoulders at al-Qaida and left the terrorists unpunished?
No - he'd be an indifferent, cruel, uncaring God.

There is good news - God does not let sin go unpunished.

But thats bad news for me - because I am a sinner.

But its great news that Jesus died in my place.

How I love God for his justice and fairness. And how I love him since his love for me is so great that he is punished in my place.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
I don't get it. Really I don't.

Let's get this straight.

Most of my family are not Christians. Consequently, according to traditional, bible-based, fundamentalist if you like, theology, they are going to burn in agony for eternity.

And you expect me to love God for this?

No way.

[ 18. February 2004, 13:20: Message edited by: Karl - Liberal Backslider ]
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
On a personal level, it's "and this violent, barbaric bastard of a God wants me to serve Him out of love? Get out of it!"

Would God be loving if he didn't punish sin?

Would he be loving if he turned a blind eye to the victims of the holocaust and left it unpunished?

Would he be loving if he shrugged his shoulders at al-Qaida and left the terrorists unpunished?
No - he'd be an indifferent, cruel, uncaring God.[/qb]

Classic tactic, this, Fish Fish. Point to the very worst atrocities as if they were representative of the point at issue. They are not.

The point is not whether God punishes Al-Qaeda. It is, in this particular case, that God allegedly told Joshua to go in and slay men, women and children, in a manner that had anyone else done it would probably be used in your example along with the Nazis and Al-Qaeda. Indeed, the only actions I can think of in recent years comparable with the conquest of Canaan as allegedly ordered by God were perpetrated by Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot. Perhaps they were actually agents of God's wrath, and not bad guys at all?

quote:
There is good news - God does not let sin go unpunished.

But thats bad news for me - because I am a sinner.

Can't be both.

quote:
But its great news that Jesus died in my place.

How I love God for his justice and fairness. And how I love him since his love for me is so great that he is punished in my place.

Shame He wasn't in such a good mood when He gave Joshua his mass murder orders, wasn't it?
 
Posted by MatrixUK (# 3452) on :
 
Karl - If only you'd get saved, and maybe if you'd been a christian for as long as fish fish, then you'd understand...

Regards
M UK
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
I don't get it. Really I don't.

What's the most serious sin in the Bible? Is is terrorism? Genocide? Or is it rebellion against God?

It seems that its rebellion against God that is the ultimate sin, (which of course leads to the others). I've been studying Amos recenly. The 1st few chapters list the sins of the nations, which get increasingly serious and gross. But then God turns to Judah, his own people - and their sin is the worst of all "...I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees..." (Amos 2:4)

Your responses take a human centred view of sin. But God's view of sin is different. He hates rebellion against him. And so he hates the rebellion of al-Qaida, and he hates the rebellion of the Amekelites, and he hates my rebellion as well.

But he gives me the choice - rebel, and reap the consequences (be without him who I reject for ever), or repent.

And this isn't just an OT view. Its consistent throughout the whole Bible. And Jesus taught this himself...

quote:
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.
Mark 8:38
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
In other words, the answer to the question:

quote:
Most of my family are not Christians. Consequently, according to traditional, bible-based, fundamentalist if you like, theology, they are going to burn in agony for eternity.

And you expect me to love God for this?

Is "Yes"?

Well, you know what you can do with it. I don't see anything holy, just or good about this image of God whatsoever.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Would God be loving if he didn't punish sin?
Would he be loving if he turned a blind eye to the victims of the holocaust and left it unpunished?
Would he be loving if he shrugged his shoulders at al-Qaida and left the terrorists unpunished?
No - he'd be an indifferent, cruel, uncaring God.

There is good news - God does not let sin go unpunished.

But thats bad news for me - because I am a sinner.

But its great news that Jesus died in my place.

How I love God for his justice and fairness. And how I love him since his love for me is so great that he is punished in my place.

Whilst I'm sure you are aware of it, and will surely dismiss it nevertheless, I feel I ought to point you towards the thread on Substitionary Atonement to reveal that not everyone has your take on justice, sin and mercy.

But avoiding that particular topic - Fish Fish, do you think that everyone deserves a horrible gruesome death as recompense for not always knowing differently? Specifically thinking of Joshua 6-10 here, were God orders the bloody genocide of an entire race, women and children too. I would much rather believe in an errant Bible, than assume that the Lord I love, is the Lord who commanded that.

AB
 
Posted by MatrixUK (# 3452) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
But avoiding that particular topic - Fish Fish, do you think...
AB

I wonder if the question should have stopped just there?

Regards
M UK
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Cross posted with Karl, nice to know we are thinking along similar lines [Smile]

Fish Fish, don't suppose you could try a slightly less confrontational conversation style, could you? Something less along the lines of, this is the truth, accept it, and more along the lines of, this is how I see it.

It'd save me calling you down to the hot place, y'see.

AB

[ 18. February 2004, 13:49: Message edited by: AB ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Fish Fish, don't suppose you could try a slightly less confrontational conversation style, could you? Something less along the lines of, this is the truth, accept it, and more along the lines of, this is how I see it.

Ok, sorry - sometimes what seems reasonable when huredly typed here comes across as confrontational - so I appologise for that.

In my defence, others make equal claims to know the truth with statements such as
quote:
Originally posted by MatrixUK:
Karl - If only you'd get saved, and maybe if you'd been a christian for as long as fish fish, then you'd understand...


 
Posted by MatrixUK (# 3452) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Fish Fish, don't suppose you could try a slightly less confrontational conversation style, could you? Something less along the lines of, this is the truth, accept it, and more along the lines of, this is how I see it.

Ok, sorry - sometimes what seems reasonable when huredly typed here comes across as confrontational - so I appologise for that.

In my defence, others make equal claims to know the truth with statements such as
quote:
Originally posted by MatrixUK:
Karl - If only you'd get saved, and maybe if you'd been a christian for as long as fish fish, then you'd understand...


[Killing me] [Killing me] [Ultra confused] [Killing me] [Killing me]
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Dear Fish Fish

quote:
What's the most serious sin in the Bible? Is is terrorism? Genocide? Or is it rebellion against God?

It seems that its rebellion against God that is the ultimate sin, (which of course leads to the others).

So God commands genocide as a punishment for the ultimate sin of rebelling against him?

Do you realise that this is precisely the rhetoric that Al-Quaida uses to defend its jihad against the godless west? Yet, you say that God punishes Al-Quaida. Surely by your description God is on the side of Al-Quaida? If you respond that Al-Quaida are worshipping a false God ... even Satan ... could that not be the charge laid against anyone who believes in a genocidal God? Is that not just another coal on the fire of atheism?

Biblical inerrancy is heady dangerous stuff. In the wrong hands it can easily lead to international terrorism ... Christian or Islamic. I am sure you are sincere and mean well but not every inerrantist with a political agenda in the name of God is like yourself. Be careful what you preach.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
Dear Fish Fish
So God commands genocide as a punishment for the ultimate sin of rebelling against him?

When a nation starts burning its children as sacrifices, and other oher revolting sins, and is in total rebellion to God (Deut 25:18), what should God do? Sit and watch?

It seems to me that God needed to act before this revolting cancer spread to other nations around about.

Crucially, Israel was not to feel smug or self righteous about their participation in God's judgment - "It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations..." (Deut 9:5)

quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
Biblical inerrancy is heady dangerous stuff. In the wrong hands it can easily lead to international terrorism ...

It seems to me that this danger can be applied more easily to those who reject innerancy. If we reject Biblical authority, then we assume the right to determine our own rules, and moral chaos ensues...
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
I simply went into a meeting at work, and came out to find that this discussion on inerrancy has been hijacked into a discussion about terrorism/genocide/ whether we should love God etc.

I think I may have inadvertently caused this. Many apologies if I did.

However, I will say that the argument of "I just don't accept that this can be true" is both philisophically, and logically extremely weak, not based on historical evidence, or any sensible hermeneutic consideration. That's what I want to talk about. If others don't want to, then fine, but I'm not going to join in any discussion that lacks any logical coherence.

IF you want to discuss how those extremely difficult passages of the OT should be applied in the light of the NT with some sort of Biblical theology hermeneutic, I am happy to do that. But not here on this thread about inerrancy.

And I'm also upset that what was a measured discussion in which I was learning a lot, as well as putting forward my own opinions, has now turned into a party political slanging match. If you want to indulge in that, go and do it in Hell. I want to have an intelligent conversation about the matter in hand. Can we do that?
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
Dear Fish Fish
So God commands genocide as a punishment for the ultimate sin of rebelling against him?

When a nation starts burning its children as sacrifices, and other oher revolting sins, and is in total rebellion to God (Deut 25:18), what should God do? Sit and watch?
The answer according to the Book of Joshua appears to be "kill all the children". There is some kind of non-sequitur between "These people are terrible, killing their children" and "Therefore, I'm going to get Joshua to kill them all, including the children I'm so concerned about".

quote:
It seems to me that God needed to act before this revolting cancer spread to other nations around about.
But you also miss Fr Greg's point. I think you'll find that Al Qaeda think they need to act to prevent the "cancer" of western secularism and imperialism from infecting the good Muslim world.

quote:
Crucially, Israel was not to feel smug or self righteous about their participation in God's judgment - "It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations..." (Deut 9:5)
Genocide's OK as long as the culture you are destroying has nasty enough people in it?

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
Biblical inerrancy is heady dangerous stuff. In the wrong hands it can easily lead to international terrorism ...

It seems to me that this danger can be applied more easily to those who reject innerancy. If we reject Biblical authority, then we assume the right to determine our own rules, and moral chaos ensues...
I'd rather the rational own rules of most of the people I know than the authority that commends genocide.

[ 18. February 2004, 15:09: Message edited by: Karl - Liberal Backslider ]
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
Fish Fish,
This whole Joshua/genocide argument was made and discussed at length right at the beginning of this thread on pages 2-4 onwards.

When you contribute to a Dead Horse thread you are expected to have read the whole thread and to have made some effort to digest the arguments. Otherwise people just end up repeating the same old arguments which other posters have answered over and over again and we don't get anywhere new.

I suggest you go back and read the original discussion of this and then raise any points you don't think have been answered already.

L.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
Fish Fish,
This whole Joshua/genocide argument was made and discussed at length right at the beginning of this thread on pages 2-4 onwards.


To be fair Louise, it was Father G who raised the genocide thing, and that was to answer me. I haven't read the whole thread so the repetition is probably my fault.
Sorry.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Louise:
Fish Fish,
This whole Joshua/genocide argument was made and discussed at length right at the beginning of this thread on pages 2-4 onwards.

Erm, yeah - I was responding to what others had raised on this issue. But I'm sure I stoked the flames! Sorry again, everyone, for being too blunt in my postings here.


Can I move the argument away from the trench warfare on genocide, and raise an issue I raised in a thread on morality (which was then shot as a dead horse). I find this quite a compelling argument - and would welcome comments on what you may see as its weaknesses.

So here's a rehashed version of my argument for accepting the Bible as irrerant. It is related, I think, to whats come before about tricky passages and contradictions:


The more I read the Bible, the less "contradictions" I find. I used to see millions. I don’t see so many now. The vast majority of the Bible ties together wonderfully – with common themes, prophecies, and fulfilled prophecies etc. Since its written by many different people over many centuries and many places, this alone is a remarkable thing. And compelling evidence for the Bible’s authority as the revealed word of God. That’s probably the main reason I started taking it as God's word.

But I freely admit I find some bizarre stuff, and a number of verses which seem contradictory, or at odds with scientific theory etc. My argument is that, if there is an explanation that resolves an apparent contradiction, its fair to accept this explanation.

Lets assume 5% of the Bible is made up of these allegedly contradictory texts. One person states categorically that they contradict with the rest of the text, or with modern science etc. Another person says they can be solved. Both people can claim to have equally valid opinions. The latter looks stupid as they seem to contradict a considerable weight of scientific evidence etc.

But I believe they look stupid because the "contradiction" is seen in isolation from the rest of the Bible. When I realise that 95% of the Bible ties together beautifully, that gives much more weight to those arguing for solutions to the “contradictions”. If you like, the weight of evidence for the consistency of the Bible is so strong, that when we find one of those problems, any proposed solution isn’t just a “fly in the face of science” type argument. It carries much more weight than that.

Now I took the number as 5%. But the number of apparent contradictions is, I would suggest, much much smaller than that. There are some verses about Pi, rabbits chewing cud, and no doubt some others. But compared to the rest of the Bible’s consistent message, any solution to these minor problems of little significance must be much more compelling than you are giving credit. I would go further, and say the solutions are almost unavoidable!

So – to summarise – I find the Bible compelling as it is so consistent – and the inconsistencies are so minor. What an incredible book (books!) it is.


I'd love to know your comments on this.

Cheers,

FishFish
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
This is true Louise .. it "were me wat dun it." I tagged on to the end of this thread being brought here by something else. I couldn't face reading it all. It just struck me as an apposite example.

Fish Fish

Why is it so important to you that the Bible has it ALL right?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
Fish Fish

Why is it so important to you that the Bible has it ALL right?

If it is, then we have an authoritative gold mine from God and this would be marvelous, and could transform the debates riddling the church, and revitalise all we do.

If it isn't, then the way I'm living my life and building my faith could change rather radically. My life has been shaped by an increasing conviction that the Bible is God's word. But I don't want to preserve this if there are good reasons not to.

Does that make sense?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
p.s. Cos it seems to me that (say) 95% is so consistent, then there's a lot of momentum to show that the rest is actually consistant too.
 
Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
 
quote:
If it is, then we have an authoritative gold mine from God and this would be marvelous, and could transform the debates riddling the church, and revitalise all we do.

Um... yes that's what people thought at the Reformation and we all know how that transformed debates leading to no-one disagreeing on anything, no differences of interpretation and everything being settled once and for all.

Not.

L.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
But Louise, all we have to do is read it the exact same way that FishFish does, and then we'll all be in agreement.
 
Posted by MatrixUK (# 3452) on :
 
But MT, in order to do that we'll all need to get saved, then fishfish's crusade will be over here and we'll be robbed of his excellent posts...

My, it's a great idea!

M UK

[ 19. February 2004, 08:26: Message edited by: MatrixUK ]
 
Posted by Fr. Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Dear FishFish

If it could be proved that there truly was 5% inconsistency ... non-inerrancy if you like ... how would that affect your faith?

I know it's hypothetical and probably an impossible speculation for yourself but I am genuinely interested in how you would adapt ... or not as the case might be.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fr. Gregory:
If it could be proved that there truly was 5% inconsistency ... non-inerrancy if you like ... how would that affect your faith?

I know it's hypothetical and probably an impossible speculation for yourself but I am genuinely interested in how you would adapt ... or not as the case might be.

Its not a hypothetical speculation! As I tried to say above, I've come to the conclusion of innerancy, not becuase I have any reason to, excpet I think the evidence pushes me in that direction. I'm not the inflexable bigott I'm sometimes portrayed as - thats too easy an insult!

But, to answer your question, I guess I would want to see the proof. And I'd want to wait a while as well. Sometimes what seems like proof today will lose credibility tomorrow.

But if there was real proof, I guess I'd have to think through how I work out my faith. I guess I wouldn't lose my faith - but I'd lose confidence in how I know anything at all about God.

However, I've yet to see such a proof! There are things that trouble me, and questions I ask (not least about Genocide) - but it seems to me there are valid answers to these questions. And as the weight of evidence for consistency seems way higher than 95%, then these expanations carry much to make them believable.

Hope I've answered your question?

[ 19. February 2004, 10:19: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
But Louise, all we have to do is read it the exact same way that FishFish does, and then we'll all be in agreement.

The way I read your response, you are agreeing with absolutely everything I say. I understand that you think I am the wisest thread writer you have ever encountered.

Is this valid reading of what you wrote? Is it an valid interpretation which is as equally valid to any other interpretation of your text?! If not, then why are all interpretations of the Bible meant to be equally valid?!
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Fish Fish,

Perhaps truth rests with more than just facts. Perhaps truth is much more about how it brings about redemption and love and all things Christ-like.

I could therefore happily see more than one valid 'truth'. For the Truth is found in Jesus Christ alone and all truths lead to him - but not necessarily with facts.

AB
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MatrixUK:
Karl - If only you'd get saved, and maybe if you'd been a christian for as long as fish fish, then you'd understand...

quote:
Originally posted by MatrixUK:
But MT, in order to do that we'll all need to get saved, then fishfish's crusade will be over here and we'll be robbed of his excellent posts...

My, it's a great idea!

Matrix, I'm enjoying reading this thread. Do you think you could see your way to dispensing with the hit and run personal attacks?

Thanks.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Matrix, I'm enjoying reading this thread. Do you think you could see your way to dispensing with the hit and run personal attacks?

Thanks.

Seconded.

[ 19. February 2004, 11:22: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Fish Fish,

Perhaps truth rests with more than just facts. Perhaps truth is much more about how it brings about redemption and love and all things Christ-like.

I could therefore happily see more than one valid 'truth'. For the Truth is found in Jesus Christ alone and all truths lead to him - but not necessarily with facts.

AB

I (think) I agree with this. Did you think I wouldn't? Perhaps I'm missing something! Sorry - Fish have tiny brains!!
 
Posted by MatrixUK (# 3452) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by MatrixUK:
Karl - If only you'd get saved, and maybe if you'd been a christian for as long as fish fish, then you'd understand...

quote:
Originally posted by MatrixUK:
But MT, in order to do that we'll all need to get saved, then fishfish's crusade will be over here and we'll be robbed of his excellent posts...

My, it's a great idea!

Matrix, I'm enjoying reading this thread. Do you think you could see your way to dispensing with the hit and run personal attacks?

Thanks.

These are not personal attacks, merely amusing (i hope) comments that seek to point out the oversimplicity or narrow-mindedness that lies behind certain posts. If, however, you would like to see an example of a personal attack, i refer you to my recent posts in hell. Alternatively, you could call me there and experience them for yourself.

You may disagree, that's your perogative, and you could ask for a ruling from an A or H.

Regards
M UK
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
If not, then why are all interpretations of the Bible meant to be equally valid?!

False dichotomy. There is a hell of a lot of real estate between "This interpretation is the only valid one" and "All interpretations are equally valid."

Let's say just for grins that there is only one valid interpretation. Okay, which one is it? Yours? Mine? The Roman Catholic Church's? The Southern Baptist Convention's?

Merely admitting to the fact that not all interpretations are equally valid doesn't all of a sudden make the Bible self-interpreting. It isn't now and never has been. This is the problem I have with your not-terribly-touching naïveté. Your sarcasm, on the other hand, is just lame. [Disappointed]

[not all spellings are equally valid either [Hot and Hormonal] ]

[ 19. February 2004, 20:03: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by CorgiGreta (# 443) on :
 
What Mousethief said, and to beat my portion of the horse yet again, I submit that even if there were interpretational agreement in whole or in part, there will necessarily be wide variation on application of scripture to real-life situations.

Let's assume that we all agree that the Sabbath should be kept holy. Fine, but which day is the Sabbath? At what times does it begin and end? Is necessary labor permitted? What constitutes necessary labor? Can we hire unbelievers to do our work for us on the Sabbath? Is sport allowed? All sports? Spectator events? Can one drive on the Sabbath? Can one go on a pleasure drive? If so, what if the car needs gas or breaks down? And on and on and on......

Greta
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Would God be loving if he didn't punish sin?

Yeah, sure, why not?

quote:
Would he be loving if he turned a blind eye to the victims of the holocaust and left it unpunished?
How does punishing the perpetrators help the victims? Why is punishment the only response that isn't "turning a blind eye"?

quote:
Would he be loving if he shrugged his shoulders at al-Qaida and left the terrorists unpunished?
False dichotomy. There are a myriad of other choices between revenge (sorry punishment) and "shrugging his shoulders".

quote:
No - he'd be an indifferent, cruel, uncaring God.
I don't buy it.

quote:
There is good news - God does not let sin go unpunished.
This is good news? Dude, that's messed up.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
[QUOTE]QUOTE]False dichotomy. There is a hell of a lot of real estate between "This interpretation is the only valid one" and "All interpretations are equally valid."

Fair enough. Absiolutely right. I've never claimed to have the true interpretation. I'm just argueing that there is truth, and (in this thread) that the Bible is an innerant document, and so a great source for that truth. But I don't ever claim to be the sole authoritative interpreter of that truth!

There's a big difference between an innerance book and claiming to have an innerant interpretation of the book. The latter would be arrogance - but the former can be an oppinion held with humilty. Perhaps the confusion is why "conservatives" are often called arrogant?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Would God be loving if he didn't punish sin?

Yeah, sure, why not?
Is it loving to the victim of sin foir God to shrug his shoulders and over look their pain?

I guess we are all happy to believe the Bible's teaching that God is love - but less happy to acccept he is a fair judge. So, perhaps I should change my statement to "Would God be fair and just if he didn't punish sin?"

And thats what I mean when I say

quote:
No - he'd be an indifferent, cruel, uncaring God.
Hope that makes sense


quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
There is good news - God does not let sin go unpunished.
This is good news? Dude, that's messed up.
I think its good news when we take into account he provides a complete and perfect means of forgiveness and cleansing through his own death. Wow - I consider that to be very good news!!!
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
If we are not punished for our sin, then God does let sin go unpunished.

I call that good news. You call it unjust. I know which I hope for.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
Actually, I find "God-breathed" and "profitable for..." rather a weak claim compared with the inerrancy and "actual Word of God" doctrines that are hung upon it. In Genesis Adam's life was "God breathed" but it didn't make him perfect by a long shot, as evidenced by his rather easily accomplished transition to the Dark Side.

Sorry - I forgot to respond to this a week or so ago!

Since its the writings that are God breathed this must surely be understood as a metaphor for speaking the words of scripture?

Try also 2 Peter 1:20-21

quote:
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The ultimate source of prophetic writings was not man (though he wrote them and shaped them and his personality can be seen in them) but God writing through man.

Add to that the very frequent phrase "Thus says the Lord" in the OT applied to much of its text, and we build a picture of the authority of the scriptrues

And since God cannot lie (2 Sam 7:28, Titus 1:2, Heb 6:18), then the scriptures are true and without error. And God's word is even the ultimate standard of truth, according to Jesus "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17)

Sorry for the delay in response to this! [Smile]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
If we are not punished for our sin, then God does let sin go unpunished.

I call that good news. You call it unjust. I know which I hope for.

I'm just going by what the Bible seems to say!

quote:
The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.

Proverbs 11:20-21

quote:
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

Nahum 1:3

But Jesus was punished in our place

quote:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Is it loving to the victim of sin foir God to shrug his shoulders and over look their pain?

Imagine I punched you in the face.

Which of the following scenarios is the most loving towards you (and, if you like, me):

a) Your dad comes over and punches me in the face
b) Your dad comes over and breaks my kneecaps
c) Your dad sits you on his knee, buys you an ice-cream and mops up your bloody nose whilst listening to what you have to say.
d) Your dad does (a) or (b) AND (c)
e) Your dad comes to find out why I punched you in the face and tries to work through my anger issues with me.
f) Your dad does (c) AND (e)

IMHO, punishment is only useful if we learn from it. But then, I'm a goddam left-winger, so what do I know.
 
Posted by Belle (# 4792) on :
 
Isn't it the case that you can't prove that the Bible is inerrant simply by saying it's consistent? In fact, you can't prove it's inerrant at all. You can believe that it's inerrant - or have faith that it's inerrant - but that's a different thing. It seems to me that it's pointless to keep on discussing that - why not move the debate to where it's really at - whether or not it we can end up in the same place spiritually speaking from both sides of the debate. I believe that we can (in as much as 2 Christians would ever agree that they are in the same place as someone else who doesn't 100% agree with them on every point of theology!). Possibly someone like Fish Fish believes that we can't.

Isn't the debate simply a question of whether it's a problem if you don't believe the Bible is inerrant? I don't believe the bible is inerrant. I think it's a response to God by man - not an intervention by God to man. I'm not saying by that that God doesn't exist - or that Jesus himself can't have been an intervention by God in our world. As far as I can see, neither of those two things stands or falls by whether or not the Bible is inerrant. That doesn't mean that it, or what it says become any less important - or that we need to study it any less. So what are the problems inherent in my view? Are they real or simply perceived? Or are they real problems if not checked by the application of church tradition and reason?
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
IMHO, punishment is only useful if we learn from it. But then, I'm a goddam left-winger, so what do I know.
In that case I think it would be best if we didn't punish people for committing crimes at all. Let's just work out who's most likely to commit a crime and teach them not to with a bit of punishment.
After all, if moral culpability has nothing to do with punishment, and its only relevant to education, there's no point in waiting for the person to commit the crime, is there?

[ 20. February 2004, 15:09: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
In that case I think it would be best if we didn't punish people for committing crimes at all. Let's just work out who's most likely to commit a crime and teach them not to with a bit of punishment.

With respect, you're talking rubbish. [Big Grin]

Punishment works because of cause and correlation. If no crime/sin has been committed, then there is no link to forge to encourage the perpertrator not to re-offend.

An animal, or a child, will associate the punishment with the "crime" and learn not to do it again. If you're punishing for any other reason, it's just plain masochism.

Punishment must have a reason. If it's not to teach the offender, then what is it?
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
Punishment works because of cause and correlation.

Which is why it so often doesn't work at all.

A consequence that is separated from the antecedent behavior by time, by intervening events, by illogical reasoning on the part of the person, by impaired cognitive abilities, or by any other thing may end up being connected with the wrong thing. So, for example, when a child is playing in the street, if you call them to come to you out of the street, then smack their bottom (or whatever you're going to do), it's quite likely that the child will associate the consequence, not with being in the street, but with leaving the street, or with coming to you.

quote:
Originally posted by fish fish:
I guess we are all happy to believe the Bible's teaching that God is love - but less happy to acccept he is a fair judge. So, perhaps I should change my statement to "Would God be fair and just if he didn't punish sin?"

And the answer to that question is, "No." God is not fair and just. And why should he be?

Fairness and justice are tools for teaching us how to treat each other. And God commanded us to be fair and just in the OT -- "an eye for an eye" and all that.

But when God became incarnate for our sake, he told us that to be fair and just wasn't good enough any more. Instead, we are to be like God, who is not fair and just, but who is Love and the lover of mankind.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
[qb]In that case I think it would be best if we didn't punish people for committing crimes at all. Let's just work out who's most likely to commit a crime and teach them not to with a bit of punishment.

With respect, you're talking rubbish. [Big Grin]

Punishment works because of cause and correlation. If no crime/sin has been committed, then there is no link to forge to encourage the perpertrator not to re-offend.


With respect. I am not.
the point I was making is that you were oversimplifying your theories of punishment. Rehabilitative is fine, but, as you rightly point out, there must always be a punitive link. Punishment will always be linked to the commission of wrongdoing, because it is punishment. So it is "rubbish" to say the main point is to change the behaviour of the offender. If so then we would try to do it before they offend. It will always be linked to wrongdoing - that is fairness or justice as we all understand it. Retribution will always be at least part of punishment
It does not therefore make God a sadist that he uses punishment retributively for eternity (although he does, throughout the OT especially, use it to correct) Retribution for wrongdoing is the core of punishment, says our moral consience. God works the same way.

[ 20. February 2004, 16:06: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
Rehabilitative is fine, but, as you rightly point out, there must always be a punitive link.

Not quite what I was trying to say. I was saying that if punishment is to rehabilitate, there must be a link between the crime committed and the punishment. Without the link, it won't work.

quote:
So it is "rubbish" to say the main point is to change the behaviour of the offender. If so then we would try to do it before they offend.
Only if we were mind readers. You may think it rubbish to say that the point of punishment is is rehabilitate. I, on the other hand, believe it is one of the hall marks of civilisation. I believe Socrates agreed with me.

quote:
Retribution for wrongdoing is the core of punishment, says our moral consience. God works the same way.
Funny how Jesus didn't, though.

[ 20. February 2004, 16:17: Message edited by: Stoo ]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Not quite what I was trying to say. I was saying that if punishment is to rehabilitate, there must be a link between the crime committed and the punishment. Without the link, it won't work.

Er..yes. A punitive link.
quote:

Only if we were mind readers. You may think it rubbish to say that the point of punishment is is rehabilitate. I, on the other hand, believe it is one of the hall marks of civilisation. I believe Socrates agreed with me.

Thare are plenty of ways to discover the likely groups of people to commit particular crimes. In your view - punish them! Stop them behaving that way!
We can't though, because read my lips Crime is linked to punishment. Punitively.
quote:

Funny how Jesus didn't, though.

Er,..yes, he went round demanding that people who had done nothing wrong be punished all the time. [brick wall]
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
We're arguing at cross purposes.

I am saying that punishment should have one purpose only - to rehabilitate. Any other purpose is, in my opinion, morally suspect.

I believe that Jesus specifically taught that we should not punish for the sake of retribution. (Matthew 5:38-44)

I believe that if we can rehabilitate without punishment, we should.
 
Posted by Lyda Rose of Sharon (# 4544) on :
 
quote Leprechaun-
quote:
It does not therefore make God a sadist that he uses punishment retributively for eternity (although he does, throughout the OT especially, use it to correct) Retribution for wrongdoing is the core of punishment, says our moral consience. God works the same way.

This is where a non-inerrantist asks whether the biblical authors might have made God somewhat in their own images.

"Eye for an eye" is just so damned satisfying!
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
I am saying that we all believe that the only people who should be punished are those who have done something wrong.

There is a clear link between crime and punishment in the way we think about justice, whether you call that "punitive" or "desert", shown in the way that we ALWAYS link punishment to the commission of a crime. While it may sometimes be to reform, it can only really be punishment if the person committed a wrong in the first place.

In Matthew 5 Jesus is, you are right, saying that WE should not seek retributive justice against people who wrong US. I believe this precisely because God will seek it. So the state in Romans 14 is an instrument of God's justice, and God will avenge those who reject Jesus in hebrews.

God treats us with grace, but only because justice was served on Jesus. God's punishment eventually be eternal because people DESERVE it, not because it will make them better.

What has this to do with inerrancy?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
In Matthew 5 Jesus is, you are right, saying that WE should not seek retributive justice against people who wrong US. I believe this precisely because God will seek it. So the state in Romans 14 is an instrument of God's justice, and God will avenge those who reject Jesus in hebrews.

I think this is right. As an individual I am not to take retribution into my own hands (which could turn into uncontrolled or unfair vengeance). But Jesus is not teaching that society should turn the cheek or should not punish - Society needs impartial judges to make those decisions on our behalf.

But being totally fair and having view of the full picture, God is able to judge fairly and punish justly.

[ 20. February 2004, 16:48: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
In Matthew 5 Jesus is, you are right, saying that WE should not seek retributive justice against people who wrong US. I believe this precisely because God will seek it.

But if I, a mere human, can get it into my head that people do not deserve to be punished for wronging me, but rather taught so as not to do the same again, does that not make me more loving than the god portrayed in the OT?

I don't for one minute believe that Jesus taught the masses not to stone the woman caught in adultery because it was something God was saving for himself.

quote:
What has this to do with inerrancy?
I dunno about you, but in my mind, it's all to do with whether the God of Vengeance found in some places in the Bible is an accurate portrayal. I think he's an excuse for selfish behaviour, personally.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
[qb]In Matthew 5 Jesus is, you are right, saying that WE should not seek retributive justice against people who wrong US. I believe this precisely because God will seek it.

But if I, a mere human, can get it into my head that people do not deserve to be punished for wronging me, but rather taught so as not to do the same again, does that not make me more loving than the god portrayed in the OT?

No, because you are not God. Ultimately it is not important if people wrong you. But if people live in God's creation ignoring Him, giver of life and everything good, THAT is wrong. THAT is important. God's glory does matter.
Its worth saying as well that God does use punishment to reform temporally , a sign of his great mercy, but ultimately, in eternity it is about what people deserve.
quote:

I don't for one minute believe that Jesus taught the masses not to stone the woman caught in adultery because it was something God was saving for himself.

Neither do I! My question is, why not? If she was caught in adultery, deliberately breaking God's commands why wasn't she punished by a just God? The answer is the cross, but I have had this discussion several times over on the PSA thread. I am not doing it again.
quote:
I dunno about you, but in my mind, it's all to do with whether the God of Vengeance found in some places in the Bible is an accurate portrayal. I think he's an excuse for selfish behaviour, personally.
There are a two issues here:
1) This all rests on an assumption that God cannot be both just AND merciful. As such, "errancy" is just making God smaller than he is because I can't understand him.
2) This reveals the true nature of doubting the Bible's veracity. Despite the protests of it being about archaeology and hermeneutics it turns out you don't accept it is true because you don't like what it says. Its interesting that you think the God of OT and the God of the NT are different, but you could reject the picture given in the Gospels of Jesus as inaccurate, and "choose" the OT God.
But you don't. You read selectively to find a God you like, and say that anything that doesn't fit in with him is a mistake. You choose the God that suits 21st century liberal values best. (and in fact, I think the "choice" is not a real choice because Jesus perfectly portrays the God of justice and mercy of the OT )

It is your call to read the Bible that way if you want. But don't say the inerrantist is the one throwing their brain away.

[ 20. February 2004, 17:13: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
But you don't. You read selectively to find a God you like, and say that anything that doesn't fit in with him is a mistake.

No offence, Lep. But that's exactly what you are doing. Please don't assume that your point of view is free of all subjectivity.

Oh and I believe God is defined by love, not by justice; that he is just for love's sake, not loving for justice's sake. Punishment, then, to me must be in the interest of love - and not because he has some rep to keep.

AB

[ 20. February 2004, 18:00: Message edited by: AB ]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
[qb]But you don't. You read selectively to find a God you like, and say that anything that doesn't fit in with him is a mistake.

No offence, Lep. But that's exactly what you are doing. Please don't assume that your point of view is free of all subjectivity.

AB,
How can that be what I am doing as I am the one saying that there are no mistakes?
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Splitting hairs...

I see a representation of God I dislike, so consider the possibility of a mistake, weigh up the wealth of information I have at my disposal, Biblical and other, and make a decision.

You see a representation of God you dislike, 'resolve' the difference to preserve continuity in scripture and are happy to see mistakes in our logic/sinful nature/human otherness.

We are simply rolling our dice on different tables. But we are both still playing the same game.

AB
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Same game different rules.
Which makes it a different game... [Ultra confused]

The difference being I would never come to the conclusion that I am right and the Bible is wrong.

Its fine to have the discussion about any of these issues (PSA being one - yes I noticed your conversation on the Sytx, so why not bring that up again) but also innerancy, the character of God. Etc.

But every time I think I'm finding a way through the haze you move the goalposts, by saying
"yes we were talking about interpreting the Bible, but now we are talking about what I find most satisfactory or reasonable".

The other interesting thing about my rules is that I can still be left with a God I struggle with. You can't. Well you can, but only insofar as you are comfortable with him. Only inasmuch as he is reasonable You (and I don't mean just you AB but all the people round here who play by your rules) ALWAYS seem to end with a God who thinks that you are fine. That you are comfortable with. I end up with a God who I cannot fathom; his awesome holiness or deep mercy. A God that I can't box.

You know I've played the philosophy game and the pick holes in the argument game lots. But I'm feeling sick of it now. This all just feels too big to play wordgames over, and I'm not sure its a good part of me that wants to argue everyhting down to the nth degree. I just want to know God better.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
The other interesting thing about my rules is that I can still be left with a God I struggle with. You can't.
Bollocks. Struggling with God? Welcome to my world.

quote:
Well you can, but only insofar as you are comfortable with him.
You really haven't got a clue about how I "am" with God, so don't try to imagine you do.

quote:
Only inasmuch as he is reasonable You (and I don't mean just you AB but all the people round here who play by your rules) ALWAYS seem to end with a God who thinks that you are fine.
Utter bullshit. This is the problem I have with you that is rapidly heading Hellward - you impune my (and other non-inerrancists) motives continuously. Your mantra is "You just don't like what it says so you say it isn't true". We try to explain the real basis of our position, but you prefer to carry on with your impuning. I get this sort of false witness with Young Earth Creationists, and I can handle you just as well as I can handle those dweebs.

quote:
That you are comfortable with. I end up with a God who I cannot fathom; his awesome holiness or deep mercy. A God that I can't box.
How weird. We end up with the same one. But if I follow your rules, I end up with a God who is misogynistic, homophobic, capricious, internally contraditory, genocidal, and quite frankly the only awsome thing about Him is His gittishness. Now, you may think I should sit back and accept this God, who in the words of Terry Pratchett's Ephebian is "A real bastard of a God", but I'm going to try to find the real one, who I suspect is rather more like Jesus appears to have been.

Meanwhile, one step further down this line and I'll see you in Hell.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
What I completely fail to understand with those of you who reject the innerancy of the Bible is how you know anything about God at all. You reject what you don't like, and accept what you do like.

So how do you know anything about God? And how do you defend your theology against the accusation that you are making God in your own image?

I honstly don't understand this!!!

[ 20. February 2004, 19:58: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
Goes for you as well Fish fish. Retract the "reject what you don't like" or enjoy the delights of Hell. Your choice.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What I completely fail to understand with those of you who reject the innerancy of the Bible is how you know anything about God at all. You reject what you don't like, and accept what you do like.

Why do I fecking bother. Post after post explaining my actual approach to Scripture, and still I get this crap flung back.

quote:
So how do you know anything about God? And how do you defend your theology against the accusation that you are making God in your own image?

I honstly don't understand this!!!

Then READ MY FECKING POSTS!

If you need it explaining any more clearly, Hell will be the only possible place.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Karl,

1) this was not directed at you but to people on this thread who EXPLICITLY SAID it was because they did not like the picture of God the OT that they would not accept it. I was merely pointing out that from an errancy point of view to pick some bits an not other requires some other agenda. I also already explained on the other thread why I don't buy the "Its not like jesus" line if you accept those accounts are errant too. But no, don't feel under obligation to answer that, just rant away if you want to.

2) But now you come to mention it, the last paragraph of your post sums up exactly the attitude I am talking about - I don't like him so I don't believe in Him

3) there is no evidence At ALL in the Gospels that Jesus thought the God of the Jewish Scriptures was a mistaken and inaccurate interpretation. In fact he claims to be Him, without qualification.

4) This is exactly the same phenomena as when you say "the Bible contradicts itself" and I say "no it doesn't". And you say "oh yes it does and I don't want to hear about why it doesn't" Only I haven't gone off the deep end yet.

5) I am SO sick of this discussion. "All views are welcome" unless you disagree with some of the old guard and their early 20th century liberal theology. In which case we'll call you to Hell and slag you off. Whatever.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Lep,

I can only agree with Karl, in so much as you've totally caricatured my point of view.

I reject inerrancy and PSA, not because I want an easy ride from God, but because I want to believe that God is different from all the crap down here. That that shimmer of goodness I can feel deep down is God's image in me. I want a God I can turn to in genuine worship, not a sense of fear.

Jesus commanded that we judge 'false' teachers by their fruit. I may suggest you have criticised our thinking without once thinking of our 'fruit', I think this is why you've offended some of us.

In seeing God as pure Love and Mercy I don't write myself a free ticket to salvation - actually it means I realise how utter rubbish I am compared to Him and it makes me realise that no matter how many theoretical arguments I might bring up about being justified by faith alone, I become more aware of the obligation I have to live my life a certain way.

I am continually challenged by God, and by what the Bible says - really, did you think otherwise? I could point to many lukewarm inerrant-believing-PSA-secure Christians who provide a counter point that a particular philosophy/theology does not a true believer make.

AB
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
Right. The correct course is to accept a God who is revealed as being misogynistic, homophobic, capricious, internally contraditory, genocidal, and quite frankly the only awsome thing about Him is His gittishness.

Atheism suddenly looks very attractive.

Fortunately, so does finding out what God is really like.

I'm not on the verge of calling you to Hell because you disagree with me; I'm on the verge because I'm pissed off by your constant willful misrepresentation of my position.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What I completely fail to understand with those of you who reject the innerancy of the Bible is how you know anything about God at all. You reject what you don't like, and accept what you do like.

Speaking for myself, and probably many others in the category of those who "reject inerrancy", we know about God because the Bible doesn't have to be inerrant to speak truly about him. And, indeed, assuming the Bible to be inerrant doesn't stop it speaking falsely about him - as the discussion here about whether God ordered the massacre of innocents has highlighted.

And, of course, we're not picking and choosing based on our preferences. We're interpreting the whole witness of Scripture within a framework of what we consider to be the most reasonable approach to the true nature of Scripture ... which happens to be that inerrancy is a totally inappropriate paradigm to use.

And, it's not as though we're doing anything novel. Infact, in terms of historical Christianity, inerrancy is the novelty.

quote:
And how do you defend your theology against the accusation that you are making God in your own image?
Well, that's easy. We simply deny it. We are seeking to understand God as he is. We could just as easily ask you to defend yourself against the same accusation ... how do you defend the position that God is the sort of God who gives an inerrant Bible?

quote:
I honstly don't understand this!!!
Well, seeing as what you don't understand isn't the position of many of us that is hardly surprising. Find out what it is we actually believe, rather than base your arguments on assumptions of what you think we believe, and you may find you understand us better (agreement with us isn't required).
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What I completely fail to understand with those of you who reject the innerancy of the Bible is how you know anything about God at all. You reject what you don't like, and accept what you do like.

So how do you know anything about God? And how do you defend your theology against the accusation that you are making God in your own image?

I honstly don't understand this!!!

Fish Fish,

Because, it's not about knowing, it's about walking with, and in the example of, our Lord Jesus. The Bible is profitable for this, but it's no substitute for walking with the Man Himself. [Big Grin]

So we find bits of the OT questionable? If the OT was enough to root our theology in, well, we wouldn't have needed Jesus at all, would we? And Jesus was quite, quite critical about those who had the character of God all figured out from Scripture. White washed tombs, indeed...

AB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
So we find bits of the OT questionable? If the OT was enough to root our theology in, well, we wouldn't have needed Jesus at all, would we? And Jesus was quite, quite critical about those who had the character of God all figured out from Scripture. White washed tombs, indeed...

AB

No - what he objected to was not their view of scripture, it was that they were spiritually dead, and didn't apply the scriptures to themselves.

Jesus has the highest view of scripture (and holiness) of anyone I've ever heard of -

quote:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17ff

quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Because, it's not about knowing, it's about walking with, and in the example of, our Lord Jesus. The Bible is profitable for this, but it's no substitute for walking with the Man Himself

But if you have no absolutely authoritative knowledge of God, other than your reasoning, or experience, then how can you claim to know God, or even know you are walking with him? For your experiences or reasoning are subjective, aren't they? But if we have an innerant Bible, we have an authoritative source to go to to seek the truth about God. We may interpret it differently - but so long as we are seeking what it says rather than wjhat we want it to say, we are seeking God's revelation of himself rather than our reasonings about him. And thus we can truly hope to be walking with the real God, and not a God made in our image.

[ 20. February 2004, 20:44: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
quote:
You (and I don't mean just you AB but all the people round here who play by your rules) ALWAYS seem to end with a God who thinks that you are fine. That you are comfortable with. I end up with a God who I cannot fathom; his awesome holiness or deep mercy. A God that I can't box.
This is one of the most patronising, ignorant and just plain wrong statements I have ever read aboard the Ship. I was going to deal with it in detail, but Karl beat me to it.

quote:
I just want to know God better.
Same here. When I read the Psalmist's words: One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life something inside me does a leap. Yes, that's the one thing that I want. Trouble is getting there (but that's another issue). However both of your statements, in context, carried the clear assumption that you have a mysterious God who you want to know better, and those of us who don't agree with you don't.

I have friends right across the Christian spectrum, from fluffy liberal through to hard line fundementalist. I can discuss the Bible with them, argue with them, disagree with them. Yet it is clear that they all have the same desire to know God better, and their love for God is shown in their lives by their love for the neighbours.

Leprechaun and FishFish I am struggling to love you, because I am commanded to do so in the pages of the Bible. But when you come out with statements like the above I find it very hard. I have no idea what you are like in "real life", all I know of you is what you have posted here. On that evidence, the fruit I see you bearing is arrogance, lack of love and judgementalism. The Bible contains warnings about all these things, and warns me to be on my guard against those who bear such fruits.

However I may well be wrong here. Can we leave things as, you are searching for God in your way, I am searching for God in mine, and then simply honour one another's search?
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But if you have no absolutely authoritative knowledge of God, other than your reasoning, or experience, then how can you claim to know God, or even know you are walking with him?

I agree. Except, of course, in that we do have authoritative knowledge of and about God ... it's called the Bible. It's just not an inerrant Bible, it's the Bible I believe God wanted us to have.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Fish Fish,

Accepted on the pharisees issue. It was a cheap shot typed without thinking it through. Forgive me.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But if you have no absolutely authoritative knowledge of God, other than your reasoning, or experience, then how can you claim to know God, or even know you are walking with him? For your experiences or reasoning are subjective, aren't they? But if we have an innerant Bible, we have an authoritative source to go to to seek the truth about God. We may interpret it differently - but so long as we are seeking what it says rather than wjhat we want it to say, we are seeking God's revelation of himself rather than our reasonings about him. And thus we can truly hope to be walking with the real God, and not a God made in our image.

Where does the spirit fit into all of this? Is he just there to ensure we don't misunderstand scripture? Or perhaps guide our consciences too? Prophetic revelations of God's will? My point is that we can relegate the spirit out of the equation completely if truth is found via human reasoning in a book alone.

AB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Fish Fish,

Accepted on the pharisees issue. It was a cheap shot typed without thinking it through. Forgive me.

No worries! Speaking for myself, I find it so easy to type first and think later. And the trouble with typing is the irony or humour etc is so easily lost when read in black and white by someone else. Anway - thats me! Cheers!!


quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Where does the spirit fit into all of this? Is he just there to ensure we don't misunderstand scripture? Or perhaps guide our consciences too? Prophetic revelations of God's will? My point is that we can relegate the spirit out of the equation completely if truth is found via human reasoning in a book alone.

I completely agree - we need the Spirit. But aren't we encouraged to test everything, or test every spirit? How can we do this is we don't have an authoritative standard by which to test.

If we don't test, or qualify what the Spirit says, we can get into some deep waters. So we need an innerant scripture to authoritatively help us judge right from wrong.

(In another thread I banged on forever about the Yorkshire Ripper thinking he was led by the Spirit - but he needed to test the 'spirit' against the Word. But I seemed to get into deep water cos everyone though I was saying liberals were the same as the Yorkshire Ripper. So I won't do that here! [Biased] )
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I agree. Except, of course, in that we do have authoritative knowledge of and about God ... it's called the Bible. It's just not an inerrant Bible, it's the Bible I believe God wanted us to have.

But if its not inerrant, I don't see how can it be authoritative? Because if its flawed, the whole thing unravels. Anyone can dismiss anything they don't like in it becuase they can argue "that passage is a human error." Where does the authority lie with such a process? Can we claim it lies in the Bible?!
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
...people on this thread who EXPLICITLY SAID it was because they did not like the picture of God the OT that they would not accept it.

I am, I'm sure, one of these people.

God knows I've tried to reconcile these images. I've spent years in charismatic churches, in Christian Unions, in cell groups, in debates and discussions with friends, in private "Quiet Times" trying to come up with ways of understanding God, as he's revealed in the Bible, as a whole being.

I haven't been able to come up with any satisfactory answer.

Sure, I've come up with "answers", but they don't fit well. It's like trying to fit odd jigsaw pieces together.

God makes more sense to me when he's not some schizophrenic being for whom I'm trying to come up with excuses. Maybe he shouldn't make sense. I don't believe, however, I should find myself to be more compassionate than God. I don't believe I should find myself in a position where I'm questioning his morality.

As to making him more comfortable? I believe in a God who tells me to love my enemies, who tells me to put myself last, who tells me to see Christ in everyone I deal with, and treat them accordingly. That's not comfortable - it's damn nigh on impossible.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Wanderer:
Leprechaun and FishFish I am struggling to love you, because I am commanded to do so in the pages of the Bible. But when you come out with statements like the above I find it very hard. I have no idea what you are like in "real life", all I know of you is what you have posted here. On that evidence, the fruit I see you bearing is arrogance, lack of love and judgementalism. The Bible contains warnings about all these things, and warns me to be on my guard against those who bear such fruits.

I'm really sorry that's how I'm coming across. [Hot and Hormonal] I don't want to be arrogant.

Can I, in my defence, suggest that my possition is not arrogant - its not a belief in me being totally right (cos I honestly believe I'm open to challenge and change), but a deffence of the Bible being right. I'm the first to admit I am flawed and a fool - but also want to be the first to be guided by that claims neither to be flawed or foolish.

Can I suggest, however, that an assumption to know what is right and wrong, and what is flawed, and what is clearly human error, is edging towards arrognace? I'm not saying you personally are arrogant - I have no idea about that. But I am suggesting that to assume personal authority rather than submit to an external authority (the scriptures) is akin to arrogance.

[Confused] [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
Maybe he shouldn't make sense.

To be honest, I'd be worried if my puny brain, the size of an orange, can ever even begin to make sense of the creator of the whole universe! If I could, I'd suspect he was a creation of my puny brain. The fact that he doesn't always make sense to my thick brain (eg the trinity!) makes revelation seem that bit more likely!!
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
But you don't. You read selectively to find a God you like, and say that anything that doesn't fit in with him is a mistake.

On the contrary, we do exactly the same thing as you do: we start by deciding what God is like, and then any scripture passage that seems to agree with our point of view is evidence, and any that seems to weigh against it is difficult and needs to be understood in the light of blah blah blah. In short, it gets explained away. Whether it is explained away by calling it a "mistake" or by subtler means is hardly material.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I completely agree - we need the Spirit. But aren't we encouraged to test everything, or test every spirit? How can we do this is we don't have an authoritative standard by which to test.

So those who wrote and collected the New Testament -- what authoritative standard did they use? Clearly not the Spirit, by your account, since the Spirit must be tested by something else. But not the NT either because that is what was being tested. By the OT? The plain meaning of the NT contradicts the plain meaning of the OT in a thousand and one places.

Those who believe the NT to be "inerrant" never seem to have a reasonable theory about where it came from -- and we all know it didn't just fall out of heaven, in white leather and with two colours of ink, in 99AD.
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
[Aside]

I have to say, I've never really bought the "you're not supposed to be able to understand it, but you must believe it" argument. It's always seemed a convenient excuse for sloppy thinking to me.

[/Aside]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
[aside]

Stoo, isn't all thinking about God sloppy almost by definition?

[/aside]
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But if its not inerrant, I don't see how can it be authoritative? Because if its flawed, the whole thing unravels. Anyone can dismiss anything they don't like in it becuase they can argue "that passage is a human error." Where does the authority lie with such a process? Can we claim it lies in the Bible?!

First, IMNSHO, the authority does not, and cannot, lie in the Bible, and to say that it does is nothing less than idolatry. It replaces the Holy Spirit of God with something else.

God gave us the Bible, and the Bible is authoritative, but that does not mean that it is inerrant.

Look, this can't be all that hard to understand. Authority and inerrancy are not the same thing. The Constitution of the United States is authoritative, if you live in the US. It's not inerrant. The editor I work with is authoritative. She's not inerrant. The fact that the Constitution and the editor are not inerrant does not in any way diminish their authority. Our system of government does not unravel because the Constitution is not inerrant. My work does not unravel because the editor is not inerrant.

Authority does not require inerrancy.

Saying that does not mean that we despise the authority, don't take it seriously, or think we can just pick and choose the parts we like.

Think about going to doctors. You don't think doctors are inerrant. Nor do you think they are lacking in authority. A board-certified pediatric neurologist is certainly an authority in their area of expertise, and you'd be stupid to dismiss what they told you just because you didn't like it or it made you uncomfortable. On the other hand, you'd also be stupid to believe everything they said, just because the doctor said it. In the first place, the doctor could be wrong. In the second place, the doctor could be right, and you could have misunderstood.

The fact that the doctor is not inerrant does not mean that "the whole thing unravels." Nor does the fact that the Bible is not inerrant mean that "the whole thing unravels."

Rather, it means that we trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into the Truth. He said he would, and we believe him.
 
Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
 
Fishfish:
quote:
I'm really sorry that's how I'm coming across. I don't want to be arrogant.
Thank you for replying so graciously.

I'm not going to post here any more as - for me - this is truly a Dead Horse; I'll just get on with life as best I know how. But I will say I was enormously impressed with Josephine's last post. Once again she produces an analogy that, to me, illuminates the whole process. How does she do it? (And why hasn't she written a book explaining basic Christian doctrine?)
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Fair enough. Absiolutely right. I've never claimed to have the true interpretation. I'm just argueing that there is truth, and (in this thread) that the Bible is an innerant document, and so a great source for that truth. But I don't ever claim to be the sole authoritative interpreter of that truth!

There's a big difference between an innerance book and claiming to have an innerant interpretation of the book. The latter would be arrogance - but the former can be an oppinion held with humilty. Perhaps the confusion is why "conservatives" are often called arrogant?

But an inerrant book without an inerrant interpretation is about as useful as a foolproof safe full of gold without a key or a combination. The treasure is in there all right, but there's no way to get it out.

Although with the Bible it's trickier than that -- you may THINK you've gotten the truth out, but you can never be sure, because interpretations aren't inerrant, only the scriptures themselves. How is that more helpful than a Bible that may have errors? The interpretation is where the application lies -- and a Bible you can't apply to your life is pretty useless. So given that the interpretation and hence the application isn't inerrant, exactly what good does inerrancy do for us?
 
Posted by Eanswyth (# 3363) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Wanderer:
<snip> But I will say I was enormously impressed with Josephine's last post. Once again she produces an analogy that, to me, illuminates the whole process. How does she do it? (And why hasn't she written a book explaining basic Christian doctrine?)

I'll second the motion.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
Sorry, got to go out for the day in 2 mins, so won't reply fully today.

But

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Authority does not require inerrancy.

True. And your analogies of other documents which aren'r innerant are useful analogies.

The trouble is, the Bible is not any other doccument. It claims to be God's revelations of himself. He claims to tell the truth. The Bible claims to be a truthful representation of God's word, faithfully recorded, and fully inspired, even breathed by God. So its different from your man made document analogies.

So while authority doesn't require innerancy, if the Bible is innerant, then it has more authority than any other document.

And yes, (in answer to someone else!) we will constantly have to refine our interpretation as the interpretation is not innerant - but if we're aiming to get that interpretation honed, then we're all going in the same direction in seeking the truth extracted from the Word.


quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Rather, it means that we trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into the Truth. He said he would, and we believe him.

How does the HS guide you?
How do you test what he says?
He tells us to test- and gives us the tool to test with. Abandon the innerancy of the tool, and you abandon the full authority, introduce the right of the individual to pick what (s)he likes, and thus lose the authority.

Sorry not responded to evrything. Really must go... [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

[ 21. February 2004, 07:54: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Abandon the innerancy of the tool, and you abandon the full authority, introduce the right of the individual to pick what (s)he likes, and thus lose the authority.

p.s. IMHO (avoiduing arrogance!!! [Biased] )
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
Fish: I'm not sure that the situation of abandoning inerrancy is as dire as you proclaim. Crossing the line between authority and inerrancy does not necessarily set the reader up for any greater risk of error, but does set the reader up for different kinds of error. An "inerrantist" approach to the Bible can lead the reader to assume that bombing abortion clinics is okay, or even a divine calling. Of course similarly an "errantist" approach to the Bible could reinforce the reader's own preconceptions with equally disastrous results. How ever we approach the Bible, without a Divine miracle we will muck up at some point.

By assuming that there may be errors in the Bible, the process of interpreting scripture simply includes a few extra possible understandings of a passage.

Having said that, while I am probably moving slowly towards a more open view of scripture, when push comes to shove I guess I'm an inerrantist. Partly for some of the reasons given throughout this thread (not that I could bring myself to thoroughly read it all - sorry, it's just so damn long!) But the main reason I suspect that I default to inerrancy is (confession time) simple convenience. [Disappointed] I find it quite convenient to be able to point to a rule carved in stone. And frankly, that's not a very good reason.

There is, of course, also the fear of cocking up. Somewhere at the back of my mind I'm sure I'd rather mistakenly think that God was serious about sin (and fitting that into an understanding of His perfect loving) than mistakenly think that He was softer than He actually is. A variation on Pascal's wager, it's better to be too strict and miss a bit of fun than to be too lax and miss the boat to heaven.

Which I guess is all a way of saying I have issues that aren't exactly conducive to clear thinking on the matter. That's not to say that the more objectie sounding arguments that I won't reproduce here have less merit. But it is frustrating how many complications subjectivity can create in such an issue.

But I'll keep watching this thread and wrestling with God. And hey, I'm reading Leviticus at the moment so if that doesn't drive the need to view scripture as inerrant from me then I don't know what will. [Smile]
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
So while authority doesn't require innerancy, if the Bible is innerant, then it has more authority than any other document.

I'd go farther, FishFish. I'd say that the Bible has more authority than any other document. The fact that it's an icon of the Most High God, divinely inspired, and given to and accepted by the Church, is all the authority it needs. You don't have to add inerrancy to it to make it more than it is.

(And, for the record, I'm neither an errantist nor an inerrantist. Those are not categories that I find useful, nor are they categories the Church has historically used in understanding the Holy Scriptures.)

quote:
And yes, (in answer to someone else!) we will constantly have to refine our interpretation as the interpretation is not innerant - but if we're aiming to get that interpretation honed, then we're all going in the same direction in seeking the truth extracted from the Word.
If you and I are both seeking the truth, the one who Is the Truth said we'd find Him. Whether the Bible is inerrant or not is irrelevant to His promise, it seems to me.

quote:
How does the HS guide you?
How do you test what he says?
He tells us to test- and gives us the tool to test with. Abandon the innerancy of the tool, and you abandon the full authority, introduce the right of the individual to pick what (s)he likes, and thus lose the authority.

I'm not sure I understand you. Are you saying that we should use the Bible to test God? May it never be so! We don't test God!

Or are you saying that use the Bible to test the Bible? That's like saying I'll use this scale to weigh this scale -- absurd.

Furthermore, I have never said (nor have the "errantists" on this thread argued) that the individual has the right to pick and choose what he likes from the Holy Scriptures. Your argument is a non sequiter, which fact has been pointed out to you many times.

I am not an errantist.

I do not simply pick and choose which parts of the Bible to accept as written, and which to accept an alternative explanation for, any more than you do.

For you to suggest such is not only an error, it's an insult.

Now, you asked how we know what the Holy Spirit is saying -- do you want an answer? I can provide one. Or do you want to continue bearing false witness against your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let me know.
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
(And, for the record, I'm neither an errantist nor an inerrantist. Those are not categories that I find useful, nor are they categories the Church has historically used in understanding the Holy Scriptures.)

I'd have to agree that the terminology is unnatural and divisive. This factor contributes to my own struggle to see which side of the "line" I fit on. I guess from the inerrant doctrinal position the line looks like it is there, as the inerrant position is an all or nothing position. From my current position it's a rather wide fuzzy line. In my previous post I used the terminology as a convenient label, but it didn't really reflect the issue as I hoped it would (that bloody convenience thing again, getting in the way. [Mad] )

To Fish Fish;
It seems to me that you have a struggle believing that God is big enough to communicate with other Christians without having the hammer of inerrant scripture to whack them with. It comes across like you don't trust Him, and so need the hefty, harder to refute words carved in stone. I don't know if this is truly what you are feeling, but it's what I'm naturally reading from your posts.
 
Posted by Fen (# 4052) on :
 
Inerrancy is something I've defended to the hilt in the past (on another website), I've followed this discussion for a while & just wanted to throw one thing in, on a point that often seems to slip by without comment.

quote:
And, it's not as though we're doing anything novel. Infact, in terms of historical Christianity, inerrancy is the novelty.
How far back do we need to go for it not to be a "novelty"?

quote:
"For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the Ms. [manuscript] is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it."

Augustine, To Jerome, Epistle 82, 1:3

I'm no historian, so maybe you can put me right here, but looking at this, the concept of inerrancy seems to me to be as much of a "novelty" as the Trinity or the Incarnation; maybe it didn't get a creed all to itself but maybe it just didn't need one at the time like those two doctrines did. (From the little that I know, I thought that such disputes as led to the formation of the creeds were due to varying interpretations of scripture anyway, rather than either side rejecting their authority.) If no-one before Augustine stated it quite so explicitly then couldn't it have been an assumption; inerrancy wouldn't need to be stated until someone suggested errancy? [Paranoid]

I know Augustine wasn't inerrant; but I like this approach to the scriptures. Particularly the last 7 words... [Biased]

In Jesus,

Fen

[ 22. February 2004, 02:46: Message edited by: Fen ]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
After the storm of controversy on Friday night, I'm peeping my head above the parapet again to say a couple of things.

First, I wrote
quote:
You (and I don't mean just you AB but all the people round here who play by your rules) ALWAYS seem to end with a God who thinks that you are fine. That you are comfortable with. I end up with a God who I cannot fathom; his awesome holiness or deep mercy. A God that I can't box.
This was patronising. It came out wrong. Its the sort of thing that you can say in a conversation because you can nuance it more, and go further to explain what you mean, not post on a website. In saying that, we are on a website chat here, so it was stupid of me to even go there. I certainly did not mean to imply (as its clear that I did) that no one except me is ever challenged by the Bible. No excuses. Sorry.

Secondly,
Karl, I am sorry for putting forward the same argument more than once, and for annoying you. BUT (and sorry there's a but in this sentence) there were people advancing the argument that they "couldn't/wouldn't/didn't want" to accept this historicity of the OT just because of its content, on this thread. Maybe I misunderstood but that's what they seemed to be saying. So please, if people don't want to have the "pick and choose" argument levelled against them, then please don't say that's what you are doing. KLB, I know that's not what you were saying, so I didn't mean to include you in my blunderbuss approach. After that I just got carried away.

Thirdly,
On the OT stuff, I don't buy the alternative "the OT is overrruled or radically reinterpreted by Jesus" approach. This is for two reasons
1) It requires you to take a view that the Gospels and Gospel writers were more truthful or less errant than any writers of the OT. Is this just because they are later, just because they are accounts of Jesus life? I really don't get this. It can't be just because they are later, because I think a lot of the stuff people are objecting to as inconsistent with the Gospels comes up elsewhere in the NT, in later documents..can anyone explain this?
2) I read all of Matthew's Gospel yesterday and noticed a couple of things. First, (and I noted this down) Jesus and/or Matthew and JTB make at least as many references to/threats of judgement, as they make commands to love or descriptions of love. So I can't see that the idea that Jesus is abrogating that aspect of the OT at all. Secondly, I can find no evidence that Jesus wanted to try and overrule even the most fanciful parts of the OT, which surely would have been something he would have made a big deal of if he had wanted to. Even in the "but I say to you" passages in Chapter 5, he prefaces it all with a stern warning about not wanting to take away a single jot from the law and the prophets, and he refers to Jonah as an authority, he talks about the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah. The only hint that he seeks to do anything to change the revelation of God in the OT was in the "new wineskins" passage, and even that is fairly oblique.

In short, I do think that if Jesus was attempting to make such a change to the way we understand God, he surely would have made a bigger deal of it. I certainly don't think such a wholesale rewriting of the understanding of God of the OT can be justified from the text as I think people are suggesting here.

Finally, can I just ask for tolerance. In the same way that many of you seem to be coming from a background of accepting all views as valid, I am coming from a background where people talk in absolutes and are not offended by others doing that. I have been trying (honestly) to modify my approach for interacting with people here, and sometimes can't quite express it as I want to in those terms. I hope, even though people like mine and FF's views are different, they are still welcome here, so you'll bear with our way of discussing even when it gets on your nerves, as we'll try to approach you on your terms.

Pax.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fen:
quote:
And, it's not as though we're doing anything novel. Infact, in terms of historical Christianity, inerrancy is the novelty.
How far back do we need to go for it not to be a "novelty"?

[followed by quote from Augustine]

I think things are a lot more complex than that. I've been trying to find his actual words online (without luck I'm afraid), but in Genesis according to the Literal Sense I.39 Augustine warns people not to bring discredit on the Christian faith by treating the Bible as a source of astronomical information non-Christians now to be incorrect. Clearly, Augustine didn't consider Genesis to be inerrant in respect to astronomical truths. Similar things can be said about people such as Origin, who appear at first to hold to Biblical Inerrancy, but on closer inspection seem to hold a position somewhat different from what many people today take to be meant by the phrase. They tend to hold to inerrancy in the Bible teaching theological truth, but are not pressing that inerrancy to scientific or historical truth.

quote:
I like this approach to the scriptures. Particularly the last 7 words... ("I myself have failed to understand it.") [Biased]

I, likewise, particularly like those last seven words. They are, of course, true whether or not one accepts Biblical inerrancy.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
So those who wrote and collected the New Testament -- what authoritative standard did they use? Clearly not the Spirit, by your account, since the Spirit must be tested by something else. But not the NT either because that is what was being tested. By the OT? The plain meaning of the NT contradicts the plain meaning of the OT in a thousand and one places.

Those who believe the NT to be "inerrant" never seem to have a reasonable theory about where it came from -- and we all know it didn't just fall out of heaven, in white leather and with two colours of ink, in 99AD.

The NT was compiled by the church recognising the writings of the Apostles - those who had met and were commisioned by the risen JC. The early church didn't impose itself on the texts, so much as recognise which were authentic writings of those commisioned by Jesus. In a sense, they discovered the NT! Just as, I guess, Newton discovered gravity. This discoverey of the NT makes sense when we see the NT writings hang together, and the other non-NT writings are so completely differnet in style and content.

So, no it didn't fall from heaven ready bound in leather. But it was sort of discovered and recognised over time.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
An "inerrantist" approach to the Bible can lead the reader to assume that bombing abortion clinics is okay, or even a divine calling.

I'm sorry, I can't get my head round this one! How does a belief in innerancy lead someone to murder?! The person committed to innerancy must take seriously the command not to murder. Where is the command to take the life of an abortionist?!

On the other hand, those who do not accept innerancy assume the right of judgment on moral issues, ignoring the moral judgments in the Bible that they find unnaceptable, and so IMHO are more likely to become the murderers!


quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
By assuming that there may be errors in the Bible, the process of interpreting scripture simply includes a few extra possible understandings of a passage.

No, its much bigger than that I'm afraid. If one assumes errors, one assumes the ability to spot the errors, and the right to choose which bits of the Bible you find authoritative, and which you want to dismiss as down to human error. The whole authority of scripture unravels before your eyes. Declare one tiny bit of Scripture in error, and we permit anyone to dismiss any commandment they like as human error.


quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
I do not simply pick and choose which parts of the Bible to accept as written, and which to accept an alternative explanation for, any more than you do.

For you to suggest such is not only an error, it's an insult.

I'm afraid there is a difference. I am assumming that the Bible contains no mistakes. So I come to it submitting to it as God revealed, perfect, holy, divine authority to tell me about God and Jesus and salvation etc.

But if one believes there are errors, one has to, in some sense, assume authority over the text to discern which parts are mistakes and which we can thus ignore. If one believes there are errors, but decides not to discern them or make judgments, then I'd suggest one is being rather stupid - submitting blindly to a document which you belive to be flawed.

So I'm sorry if you find it insulting when this difference is discussed - but I can't see how there is not a fundamental difference here.

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Now, you asked how we know what the Holy Spirit is saying -- do you want an answer? I can provide one. Or do you want to continue bearing false witness against your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Yes please - I'd love to know!!! [Yipee]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
To Fish Fish;
It seems to me that you have a struggle believing that God is big enough to communicate with other Christians without having the hammer of inerrant scripture to whack them with. It comes across like you don't trust Him, and so need the hefty, harder to refute words carved in stone. I don't know if this is truly what you are feeling, but it's what I'm naturally reading from your posts.

I'm sorry that's the impression you have. In my defence I'd say that I trust a much bigger and more sovereign God than you give me credit for. I trust a God who is able to communicate clearly and has chosen to do so. But if I abandon innerancy, I weaken God, saying he is either unable or unwilling to commmunicate clearly to us.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
After the storm of controversy on Friday night, I'm peeping my head above the parapet again to say a couple of things...
...Pax.

I want to simply put [Overused] - but then I'll be accused of idolatry, and thus inconsistancy with the Bible. But I guess you know what I mean.

Lep - [Overused]
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Declare one tiny bit of Scripture in error, and we permit anyone to dismiss any commandment they like as human error.
quote:


Not true at all, as I'll show in a moment.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by josephine:
Now, you asked how we know what the Holy Spirit is saying -- do you want an answer? I can provide one. Or do you want to continue bearing false witness against your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Yes please - I'd love to know!!! [/QB]
What I'm about to explain is how the Orthodox understand Holy Scriptures. I'm neither theologian nor saint, so my explanation is not inerrant. And there are others on this thread who are not Orthodox; I'm not pretending to speak for them. They might have a different explanation.

Caveats aside, then, in the Orthodox Church, we believe that God has completely and perfectly revealed himself in the Person of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. In his Incarnation he gave us everything we need to know him perfectly. There was nothing left to be revealed. It's all there for us to see; nothing is hidden, nothing is held back.

Unfortunately, the fact that we're all stupid and sinful means that we don't always "get it," so in his mercy and love, he gave us the Holy Spirit, with the promise that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. The Spirit gives us many things to make sure we have what we need to get it right -- the liturgies and prayers of the Church, the holy icons, the lives of the saints, and most particularly, the Holy Scriptures, which are the crown and glory of Holy Tradition. The Scriptures, the written Word of God, are the most detailed and most intricate icon we have of our Lord Jesus, the living Word of God.

But, as was noted by St. Vincent of Lerins over 1500 years ago, there are as many different ways of understanding the Holy Scriptures as there are people reading them. So how do we know whether we understand it correctly or not?

Because God revealed himself fully, without holding anything back, we are to prefer the understandings of the Scriptures the Church has held from the beginning to anything new. That is the principal we call antiquity, and it's why we reject novelty. If a doctrine suddenly appears -- as the Rapture did, about 100 years or so ago -- we reject it as a novelty. If it were true, we believe the Holy Spirit would have made sure we got it a long time ago.

The next principal is universality. That simply means that, since the Holy Spirit is given to the Church as a whole, to all Christians, if you have one person, or a small group, teaching X, and the rest of the Church believes Y, then Y is more likely to be right. God doesn't play favorites. He doesn't withhold the truth from one group of Christians and reveal it to another. It's all there for everyone to see.

It was on the basis of antiquity and universality that I realized I had always been wrong about the saints and about icons. I had always rejected them because, based on my own understanding of the Scriptures (colored, as it was, by my experience living in a late-twentieth-century democracy, where I bow to no one). But then I realized that the Church had, from the very beginning, honored the saints, and had had icons from the beginning. And those practices had never, ever died out, but had been part of the universal practice, faith, and experience of the Church. My opinion was tested by the Church, by the Holy Spirit, and found wanting. So, rather than deciding to hold on to what I preferred, and what made sense to me, I rejected what I liked, and embraced something foreign and strange, because it was true.

The third principal used to understand the Holy Scriptures is consensus -- to be explicit, the consensus of those who have clearly led a blameless and holy life, who by their lives and by their deaths, they showed us that they truly knew God. If there is a question that can't be answered by antiquity and universality, then you look to the saints, the holy ones, and see if there is a consensus in their believes, if there is something that all of them held to be true. If so, you should prefer the doctrines they held to anything that someone like me believes.

This process, far from leading us to dismiss anything we don't like as error, leads us to the truth, even when (as it usually is) the truth is uncomfortable, because it is guided by the Holy Spirit, and it is tested, bit by bit, by the experience of the whole Church.

If you want to see the outcome of using the process, I'd suggest you read the life of Fr. Arseny of Russia, or St. John of San Francisco, or St. Innocent of Alaska. They show you where our process leads.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Fish Fish,

Just because one does not use an inerrant Bible to make moral decisions, it does not make that person immoral. It simply means their moral choices are founded on something else - and it doesn't mean that something else can't have authority either.

For me, I am happy to base my moral decisions on the commandments of Jesus to love my God with all my mind, body and soul, and to love my neighbour as myself. I don't need an inerrant Bible to trust those commandments as I see them mirrored in life as the way we should live. All of my moral choices (as Jesus indicates) should be based on this.

Lep,

I'll hold my hand up and say that I chose to reject inerrancy because I couldn't reconcile bits of the OT with my faith. It came down to a simple choice of preserving my faith or losing it. Please don't assume I took this decision lightly (and that hasn't been implied, I'm just heading you off), because it involved a long black 'night' of the soul (lasting months) an awful lot of a prayer and was, in all intents and purposes, a last resort.

AB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
Thanks for that Josephine. I guess I agree with a lot of what you say.

My resonse is to say there is a danger in giving the church the authority that you do. For example...

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
The next principal is universality. That simply means that, since the Holy Spirit is given to the Church as a whole, to all Christians, if you have one person, or a small group, teaching X, and the rest of the Church believes Y, then Y is more likely to be right. God doesn't play favorites. He doesn't withhold the truth from one group of Christians and reveal it to another. It's all there for everyone to see.

If we go for a simple majority, then indulgences were absolutely fine and dandy because most people used them in Medievil times, and the reformation was mistaken. (Though of course, as Orthadox, I guess you might think the reformation was indeed mistaken).

If the church is the interpreting authoirty, then we can make mistakes like this. Churches tend to be led - and leaders are sinful individuals who can easily lead the majority astray.

So, I think a preferable model is to make Scripture the authority. If its innerancy is assumed, then we "sit under" scripture, and seek scripture to interpret scripture. So rather than the church being the arbiter, the Bible is. And where there are disagreements, we need to all seek to submit again to the Bible, to assess again our preconceptions, and seek again to work out what its saying. Thats hard work, and disagreements can arrise (as did with the doctrine of the Trinity) - but when scripture is the authority, unanimity is more likely then when the church or human wisdom is supreme (as happened with the doctrine of the Trinity).

[ 22. February 2004, 16:52: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
If we go for a simple majority, then indulgences were absolutely fine and dandy because most people used them in Medievil times, and the reformation was mistaken.

I think you might need to widen your perspective. Indulgances might have been acceptable for a majority of Christians in Western Europe just prior to the Reformation, but in terms of the history of Christianity prior to that and including Christians outwith Western Europe (including the Orthodox) then you may well find that even a "simple majority" wouldn't be met - and if you weigh in with the "spiritual depth" of those who cmae before or since (much theological thought behind indulgances seems, to me, to be very lightweight) then the case for indulgances becomes very weak indeed.

The Reformation, in many senses, was not a sudden swing to sola scriptura, but a rediscovery of earlier theological thought - which happened to include a greater emphasis on Scripture. If Orthodoxy was better known in Western Europe I'd guess that many Reformers might well have headed in that direction.
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
An "inerrantist" approach to the Bible can lead the reader to assume that bombing abortion clinics is okay, or even a divine calling.

I'm sorry, I can't get my head round this one! How does a belief in innerancy lead someone to murder?! The person committed to innerancy must take seriously the command not to murder. Where is the command to take the life of an abortionist?!
As I see it, most (if not all) of the idiots who are bombing abortion clinics are fundamentalists, who believe in an inerrant bible. They read the OT accounts and see how God commands His people to go and kill evildoers. They see abortionists as evildoers who need to be removed. They start to believe that they have this same scriptural call to cleanse society of this scourge. Yes, it is a bit of a stretch, but no more a stretch than some other examples given of the risks of rejecting inerrancy.

I was not saying that an inerrant approach to the bible would necessarily come up with this conclusion. (As I said, I personally normally land up with the inerrant line.) But I was pointing out that assuming inerrancy will not protect one from serious error.

[ 22. February 2004, 18:44: Message edited by: kiwigoldfish ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
If we go for a simple majority, then indulgences were absolutely fine and dandy because most people used them in Medievil times, and the reformation was mistaken.

I think you might need to widen your perspective. Indulgances might have been acceptable for a majority of Christians in Western Europe just prior to the Reformation, but in terms of the history of Christianity prior to that and including Christians outwith Western Europe (including the Orthodox) then you may well find that even a "simple majority" wouldn't be met...
Fair enough - my illustration perhaps fails historically. But perhaps not - the majority in the RC church perhaps did adopt indulgencies. No matter - at very least it demonstrates the weakness of the "majority" determining theology.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
...But I was pointing out that assuming inerrancy will not protect one from serious error.

Happy to agree with this point. We will have nut cases who misinterpret innerant scriptures (anti-abortionists) and nut cases who hear God outside the scriptures (Yorkshire Ripper) - innerancy probaly makes no difference to nutters. But for everyone else, in determining truth and righteousness, I still hold that an innerant scripture are our strongest standpoint.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
.........or it might be if inerrancy was in any way credible.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
.........or it might be if inerrancy was in any way credible.

Well, I'm glad we've sorted that out then! You're post has won me over! I submit!!
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Fair enough - my illustration perhaps fails historically. But perhaps not - the majority in the RC church perhaps did adopt indulgencies. No matter - at very least it demonstrates the weakness of the "majority" determining theology.

Fish Fish, the test is not what a simple majority of Christians at one place and time believe. If it were, we would all be Arians now.

To determine the truth, you apply all three principles -- antiquity, universality, consensus. Indulgences were unknown in antiquity, so they fail right there. As has already been pointed out to you, they were not accepted by a majority of Christians even in the middle ages, so they fail on universality. And if you look to the teachings of the most faithful, most holy believers, you don't see anything anywhere that smacks of indulgences.

We don't vote on doctrine. It's not a matter of majority rules. Democracy doesn't dictate dogma.

But the Holy Spirit leads the Church. Always, in all places, at all times.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
But the Holy Spirit leads the Church. Always, in all places, at all times.

Fair enough. I don't dispute this.

The problem is, the church is made up of flawed sinful people, who can err and stray in all sorts of directions.

Lets use an example - the Bible teaches X. But the church wants to go headlong down path Y. How does the church know not to take that path unless it turns to the scriptures? Does the Spirit simply change everyone's mind? No. The Spirit uses what he has already said (the Bible) as the means to guide us and correct us.

So yes, the Spirit guides us. but he has given us the authoritative reference so we can see how he guides us.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Actually, Fish Fish, I want to suggest something. Maybe we don't need to 'know'. Whatever the theological ramification of the incarnation, mankind's relationship with God changed. Out went covenant agreement, in came relationship language.

Maybe actually God wants us to reach out to Him, and not just follow the manual which he supplied. Lest we forget that Truth is Jesus, the Bible just points us to Him. But to Jesus does my loyality lie, and He has authority over me. The Bible is useful in this, but perhaps not essential as 2 Timothy 3:16 hints at.

AB
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Lets use an example - the Bible teaches X. But the church wants to go headlong down path Y. How does the church know not to take that path unless it turns to the scriptures?

Antiquity. Universality. Consensus.

The way to avoid error isn't to trust the Bible and mistrust the Church. It is the Church, after all, who told you what writings to accept as Scripture. Without the Church, you could have no Bible. Without the Bible, you'd still have the Church.

So we accept the Bible, and understand it as the Church teaches us to understand it, according to the principles I have explained. If you follow those principles, you cannot go headlong down a wrong path.

Let's back up a bit, Fish Fish. If you have just the Bible, how do you know that you understand it correctly? How do you know whether you're to take your enemies babies and dash their heads against the stones? How do you know whether you're to sell all that you have and give it to the poor? How do you know whether women are to cover their heads in Church? What authority do you have to guide you in the correct understanding of Scripture other than your own self?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Actually, Fish Fish, I want to suggest something. Maybe we don't need to 'know'. Whatever the theological ramification of the incarnation, mankind's relationship with God changed. Out went covenant agreement, in came relationship language.

Now, I don't want to seem to simply disagree with everything! But I disagree! The whole of the OT is about a relationship with God. God calls Abraham into a relationship with him, and promises relationship with his descendents. He brings them out of Egypt to have a relationship with them. This is the covenant - a covenant of relationship. This is fundamentally the same in NT - God does the work, and comes to us to establish a relationship with us. So, in that sense, I think it wrong to say "mankind's relationship with God changed" in this way.

And again I find myself asking, in response to
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Maybe actually God wants us to reach out to Him, and not just follow the manual which he supplied.

...how do we know we are truly communicating or reaching out to him if we discredit what he has given us - that which time and time and time again claims "thus says the Lord"?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Let's back up a bit, Fish Fish. If you have just the Bible, how do you know that you understand it correctly? How do you know whether you're to take your enemies babies and dash their heads against the stones? How do you know whether you're to sell all that you have and give it to the poor? How do you know whether women are to cover their heads in Church? What authority do you have to guide you in the correct understanding of Scripture other than your own self?

I'm sorry - this is going in circles, and I'm sure I've done this before! But, in summary...

If I don't accept innerancy, then in some sense I (or some human institution) am the arbiter or authority - in some sense I assume the right to "sit over" the Bible. In the end, then, what a preson says has authoirty over what God says. This is a weak standpoint.

If I accept the Bible is innerant, then is is an authority that I "sit under". I constantly seek to understand it better. The more I go on, the more I understand, and the more my oppinion is moulded to what the Bible teaches.

When the bible teaches tricky things (such as you have quoted), do I become the arbiter (and sit over the text, over what God says), or do I sit under it and try and workl out the full picture? I do the latter - seeking to understand the context of the tricky passages, and how they are understood in other parts of the Bible whcih teaches us how we are to understand them.

So, for example, in answer to one of the issues you raise:

Taking a verse out of context, we could conclude that the Bible tells us of people wanting to smash babies heads against rocks - so we should do the same.

But in its context, smashing baby's heads is a cry of anger and pain from Israel in captivity - it doesn't claim to be prescriptive of how we are to behave - it seems instead to be descriptive of how they were feeling. When interpreted by the rest of scripture, we build a picture of a people in rebellion who should turn back to God in repentance rather than smash babies heads against rocks.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
So we accept the Bible, and understand it as the Church teaches us to understand it, according to the principles I have explained. If you follow those principles, you cannot go headlong down a wrong path.

p.s. We are told that this is not the case. We are warned frequently about false teachers - who can and do lead churches astray. But how do we make a judgment about false teachers and what they teach if we have no bedroack, no absolute, no standard by which to measure?

It seems to me that you instead believe in the innerancy of the church!!! Now, with 2000 years of church history, I'd say that's a hard position to defend.
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But how do we make a judgment about false teachers and what they teach if we have no bedroack, no absolute, no standard by which to measure?

Antiquity. Universality. Consensus.

quote:
It seems to me that you instead believe in the innerancy of the church!!!
I do not believe in inerrancy. Not of the Bible. Not of the Church. Not of anything. It is not a concept that has any use or value to me.

However, the Holy Scriptures themselves declare that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. I think that should be good enough for both of us.
I don't believe in inerrancy. Not of the Bible, not of the Church. It is a novel concept, foreign to the C
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
The whole of the OT is about a relationship with God. God calls Abraham into a relationship with him, and promises relationship with his descendents. He brings them out of Egypt to have a relationship with them. This is the covenant - a covenant of relationship. This is fundamentally the same in NT - God does the work, and comes to us to establish a relationship with us. So, in that sense, I think it wrong to say "mankind's relationship with God changed" in this way.

Fish Fish, I don't think you understand. The nature of mankind's relationship with God changed with Jesus Christ. I must have done. The Law fulfilled, the curtain torn, surely you must agree that we are no longer 'owned' by the covenant, but now by Jesus Christ.

Under the covenant it was important to 'know' because deviation from the Law was a serious serious thing, likely to result in the exile of the people from the promise land. However, we have grace, we are to strive for perfection, but to know that our treasure is assured despite our sinfulness.

Under the convenant we had a system of laws to obey - our morality laid out. Under Jesus those commandments effectively reduced to the two moral commands of "love your God with all your mind, body and soul, and love your neighbour as yourself". Commands which are absolute in morality, yet subjective in application.

I simply don't think that 'knowing' is as important in our everyday relationship with God as it was back then for we have Jesus now. 2 Tim 3:15 hints at that. It is not faith in the Bible that makes salvation, but faith in Jesus Christ. Scripture is useful for this, but I find nothing in the Bible to say that is essential.

You will repeat, I'm sure, that we are told to test everything. Yes, how about testing them against the commands of our Lord to observe the fruits of 'teachers' and weighing them with the two greatest commandments to see how they fair. One does not need an innerrant Bible to make a judgement call on that basis.

AB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But how do we make a judgment about false teachers and what they teach if we have no bedroack, no absolute, no standard by which to measure?

Antiquity. Universality. Consensus.
But this can take 100's of years to filter through. That 100's of years - whole life time's of people being taught flasely while the church gets round to sorting out what it believes. Sorting out what the Spirit is saying - when the Spirit has already said everything we need to know and conveniently had it written it down for us!! If I take your doctine, I'm reinventing the wheel, very slowly indeed, when I can take the book off the shelf and read!

Furthermore, you do indeed have a view of the innerancy of the church long term if you belive what you say:

quote:
So we accept the Bible, and understand it as the Church teaches us to understand it, according to the principles I have explained. If you follow those principles, you cannot go headlong down a wrong path.

 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Fish Fish, I don't think you understand. The nature of mankind's relationship with God changed with Jesus Christ. I must have done. The Law fulfilled, the curtain torn, surely you must agree that we are no longer 'owned' by the covenant, but now by Jesus Christ.

Yep - I agree with this.

quote:
Originally posted by AB:
However, we have grace, we are to strive for perfection, but to know that our treasure is assured despite our sinfulness.

Yes, agreed. Yes, we are to strive for perfection. Yes our salvation is assured.

But assurance does not free us to sin. We are, as you say, to strive for perfection. How can we do this unless we have an incling of what perfection is?!! Do you realy believe God lays down all his moral expectations in the OT, and then wipes all that out in the new? So we can live as we want? Where did Jesus teach that?

Presumably, if I follow your logic, the more we sin, the more grace we recieve? You are suggesting that grace is a licence to ignore what God has taught in the past. Almost a licence to sin.

Can I suggest you read Romans 6. It lays out that we are no longer slaves to sin - and so should commit ourselves fully to a holy life. We are very much bound to righteousness and holiness. A few quotes from it in response to what you are suggesting:

quote:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Romans 6:1-2

quote:
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Romans 6:15


quote:
Originally posted by AB:
[QUOTE] I simply don't think that 'knowing' is as important in our everyday relationship with God as it was back then for we have Jesus now.

Please tell me where you get a scriptural justifcation for this, because IMHO I really don't think you are correct!
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
You will repeat, I'm sure, that we are told to test everything. Yes, how about testing them against the commands of our Lord to observe the fruits of 'teachers' and weighing them with the two greatest commandments to see how they fair. One does not need an innerrant Bible to make a judgement call on that basis.[/QB][/QUOTE]

But don't you see, because you have rejected the innerancy of the Bible it is YOU who decides that these are the greatest commanments and YOU who decide that we only test against what Jesus said. YOU have become the authority, sitting over the Bible, determining what is true and acceptable. Who one heaven or earth gives you that right?!!!!
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Fish Fish,

I have to warn you, I am so utterly annoyed at you at the moment that I have had to slow down and stop myself posting something rash and which I will later regret. I shall try and be reasoned, but please do not take my efforts at being polite to mean that I don't think you have been smug, patronising and glib.

Why are you quoting Romans 6 to me? That's not be standpoint at all, nor is it the logical conclusion of my thinking. Please don't create a straw man of my position and please don't assume I have never read Romans 6. Just because I reject inerrancy, doesn't mean that I don't study my Bible and be challenged by it's contents.

And as for your second post addressed to me, well - where do I start? First off, it's Jesus who claimed that the 2 commandments were greatest and that everything hangs on those points. Secondly so I decide to test things on Jesus' teaching, and not on scripture whole - you decide to test things on scripture whole - so what's the problem. Either way, our moral guide is outside of our self, and either way we are attempting to take God as our guide - so what's the problem?

quote:
YOU have become the authority, sitting over the Bible, determining what is true and acceptable. Who one heaven or earth gives you that right?!!!!

Fish Fish, this is just offensive, not indicative of my position and as such I will not answer it.

..

Ok, now that that is taken care of, let's get back to business.

I wasn't saying that knowing isn't important, but that certainity isn't as crucial to our relationship with God as it was under the covenant. Under the covenant it was salvic, under grace it is not - Christ is.

But let me ask you the reverse - where does it claim that certainty in scriptures is essential to salvation?

AB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Fish Fish,

I have to warn you, I am so utterly annoyed at you at the moment that I have had to slow down and stop myself posting something rash and which I will later regret. I shall try and be reasoned, but please do not take my efforts at being polite to mean that I don't think you have been smug, patronising and glib.

Why are you quoting Romans 6 to me? That's not be standpoint at all, nor is it the logical conclusion of my thinking. Please don't create a straw man of my position and please don't assume I have never read Romans 6. Just because I reject inerrancy, doesn't mean that I don't study my Bible and be challenged by it's contents.

I am sorry. This posting lark is quite tricky, getting the hang of what people are saying. So, sorry for misunderstanding you.

The trouble is, I am talking absolutes, and you are not, so there is bound to be misunderstanding here. As I will no doubt now prove...!

quote:
Originally posted by AB:
And as for your second post addressed to me, well - where do I start? First off, it's Jesus who claimed that the 2 commandments were greatest and that everything hangs on those points.

Let me try again. If you say that the scriptures have flaws in them, then we are at liberty to discuss to what extent the flaws stretch thoughout the Bible. That, I would suggest, is a fairly arbitrary decision. You have concluded that "it's Jesus who claimed that the 2 commandments were greatest and that everything hangs on those points" - but it would be an equally fair conclusion to say that, the passage where Jesus is recorded as making these claims, is one of the passages in error.

You have decided this is not the case. By whose authority? Its your decision to accept the authority of this passage. So you are making an authoritative judgement over the Bible.

On my behalf, it is true that I am making a judgement that the Bible is innerant - based on its claim to be God's word. So i accept this claim, and seek to know what it says rather than seek to know what I find acceptable for it to say. There is a world of difference.

quote:
Originally posted by AB:
But let me ask you the reverse - where does it claim that certainty in scriptures is essential to salvation?

I've never claimed that cos the Bible doesn't claim that. But I would claim those who reject biblical innerancy remove the anchor of their faith and can drift into any area of false teaching that they choose to accept. They may or may not danger their salvation depending on what particular teaching they choose to adopt.

[ 23. February 2004, 10:41: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Fish-Fish, I apologise for my arrogant quip earlier. It didn't help the discussion and so I am sorry. Please allow me to respond to this, however.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish-Fish

But this can take 100's of years to filter through. That 100's of years - whole life time's of people being taught flasely while the church gets round to sorting out what it believes. Sorting out what the Spirit is saying - when the Spirit has already said everything we need to know and conveniently had it written it down for us!! If I take your doctine, I'm reinventing the wheel, very slowly indeed, when I can take the book off the shelf and

But the Biblical canon took lifetimes to decide upon and there were many, many, many generations of men and women who lived, worked, worshipped and died before St. Paul was ever born. Therefore, your objections to Josephine's arguement based on length of time strike me as, perhaps, besides the point.

In any case, being inspired by God is not the same as being written by God or dictated word for word by the Holy Spirit. For example, I can be inspired by a beautiful sunset to paint a picture, by a scene of devastation to write a poem, by a lover to write a song. In each case however it is me, and not the source of my inspiration, that creates the painting, poem or song.

For me, an insistence on an inerrant Bible is actually damaging because, I believe, there is evidence of scientific, historical, geographical and literary errors in the Bible, as well as misqoutes etc. Therefore, to insist that the Bible must stand or fall on the perfection of every verse is, for me, to inisist that the Bible must fall.

Moreover, the fact that there are errors, discreptancies and contradictions in and between between the four canonical actually seems to me to add to their validity, not detract from it. If there were no contractions at all, I would suspect collusion. I would suspect that four clever crooks had cooked up a scam and a con. However, the fact that some of the gospels are not very well written is evidence against this.

Police witness statements of events we know to have happened often show some contradiction in the detail. For example, Witness A may state that the get-away car was red while Witness B is sure that the car was blue. The prescence of comparable errors in the gospels strongly suggests that they were written by honest men who had either seen the events themselves or had heard about them from people who had. It suggests that the evangelists were genuine, not collusionists.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I can take the book off the shelf and read!

Which brings us back to the question Josephine asked, and I seem to have missed your answer too, namely
quote:
If you have just the Bible, how do you know that you understand it correctly?
Basically, whether the Bible is inerrant or not, you can't just take it off the shelf and read it. You have to do something else to ensure you've understood it correctly. For most evangelicals that would be through application of reason and learning (your own, plus that of others through study groups, commentaries, sermons etc) within a context set by the traditions of that group.

So, for example, when you read Pauls instructions about women having their heads covered some would take that literally as meaning they must wear hats, others wouldn't - and both groups could well believe the Bible to be inerrant. Why do they come to different conclusions? A large part of it would be the tradition of their church.

It is when I see such examples of people accepting Biblical inerrancy, and yet coming to such different conclusions (albeit, about what IMO is a secondary issue) that I simply see no value in inerrancy as a doctrine. An Inerrant Bible is no different from an "errant" one if it isn't clear enough to be understood by all without ambiguity.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio The Dork

Moreover, the fact that there are errors, discreptancies and contradictions in and between between the four canonical actually seems to me to add to their validity, not detract from it

This should read:

Moreover, the fact that there are errors, discreptancies and contradictions in and between the four canonical gospels actually seems to me to add to their validity, not detract from it.

[Hot and Hormonal] [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Papio - did you consider changing the spelling of "discrepancies" in your post as well? [Razz]

Alan wrote
quote:
An Inerrant Bible is no different from an "errant" one if it isn't clear enough to be understood by all without ambiguity.
I had convinced myself that I wasn't going to weigh in on this debate any more, and I'm not really, just to say that Alan while I see your point, I think you have overstated it. Inerrancy doesn't provide "pop the question through the grinder" answers to every question, but it does considerably narrow the field of interpretations by ruling out those that plainly contradict the rest of the Bible.

While this is not a simple answer to many of the hard questions we face, it does provide a solid framework to operate in, and there is a plain difference between doing Interpretative stuff with an inerrant presumption, and doing it without.
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Antiquity. Universality. Consensus.

But this can take 100's of years to filter through. That 100's of years - whole life time's of people being taught flasely while the church gets round to sorting out what it believes.
Yeah, it's worked out that way from time to time. And you know what? That's okay. We're not saved on the basis of doctrinal perfection. We're saved based on the mercy and grace and love of the Most High God.

quote:
Sorting out what the Spirit is saying - when the Spirit has already said everything we need to know and conveniently had it written it down for us!!
This gets back to my question, that you haven't answered, and that Alan courteously repeated.

The Spirit already said everything you need to know. So how do you know that God is Three Persons with one Nature? That Jesus Christ, our Lord, is one Person with two Natures? How do you know whether to call Mary, our Lord's Mother, the Mother of God, or the Mother of Christ, or simply the Mother of Jesus -- and how do you know whether it matters? How do you know whether icons are the necessary implication of the Incarnation of God, or whether they are idols?

Those things took many years for the Church to work out. Give me chapter and verse on any of them. Please be sure your citation is so clear and unambiguous that it's impossible to interpret it in any way except the way you, in your wisdom and humility, say it should be interpreted.

quote:
Furthermore, you do indeed have a view of the innerancy of the church long term if you belive what you say:

quote:
So we accept the Bible, and understand it as the Church teaches us to understand it, according to the principles I have explained. If you follow those principles, you cannot go headlong down a wrong path.

Read my lips, Fish Fish. I do not believe in inerrancy. Not of the Bible. Not of the Church.

You seem to have a real talent for telling other people what they believe, rather than paying attention to what they tell you they believe. Rather than saying, "you do indeed believe X," as if you know more about what I believe than I do (this being one of the big reasons that people keep telling you that you come across as arrogant) why don't you try saying, "I don't understand -- doesn't Y imply X?" It would be more respectful, and you just might learn something.
 
Posted by CorgiGreta (# 443) on :
 
I think that the Church has been quite consistent over the centuries in regard to core beliefs, the very basics of Christianity. Fundamentsl heresy has been quite rare and for, the most part, short-lived. The essence of the Holy Faith has been kept intact, and the Gates of Hell, as promised by Our Lord, have not prevailed against the Church.

The many disagreements and alleged and actual errors have been over those things that I think we must admit are of secondary importance. I would submit that the notion of inerrancy is illustrative of just such relative trivia.

Greta
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
(Pops head above parapet for a quick pot-shot)

Lep, you wrote:
quote:
Inerrancy doesn't provide "pop the question through the grinder" answers to every question, but it does considerably narrow the field of interpretations by ruling out those that plainly contradict the rest of the Bible.

But surely no-one here is saying that the Bible has no validity whatsoever. I'm certainly no inerrantist, as you know, but I certainly evaluate what I believe the Bible is saying by taking note of whether an interpretation is in line with the whole of the Bible. That's just good practice. Nothing in a non-inerrantist position prevents such good practice. The important thing to me (and it's been said many times before on this thread) is whether or not the Bible is authoritative, not whether or not it is inerrant.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by josephine:
Antiquity. Universality. Consensus.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But this can take 100's of years to filter through. That 100's of years - whole life time's of people being taught flasely while the church gets round to sorting out what it believes.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah, it's worked out that way from time to time. And you know what? That's okay. We're not saved on the basis of doctrinal perfection. We're saved based on the mercy and grace and love of the Most High God.

Josephine, as always [Overused] [Overused]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
JJ wrote
Lep, you wrote:
quote:
Inerrancy doesn't provide "pop the question through the grinder" answers to every question, but it does considerably narrow the field of interpretations by ruling out those that plainly contradict the rest of the Bible.

But surely no-one here is saying that the Bible has no validity whatsoever. I'm certainly no inerrantist, as you know, but I certainly evaluate what I believe the Bible is saying by taking note of whether an interpretation is in line with the whole of the Bible.
But JJ, even our discussion here goes to show that being an inerrantist (for better or worse, this is not meant to be a moral judgement) limits the number of possible interpretations.
So my view on errancy/inerrancy prohibits me from using the Gospels to interpret the OT to mean that the "genocides" of the Joshua did not happen. Now I know a lot of you think that is ridiculous, let's not get started on the rights and wrongs, but it is merely one example of how believing in inerrancy means that the possible applications are more limited.

I agree, the issues of authority and inerrancy are getting confused here, they are linked, but I see that the Bible can have authority without being inerrant. I honestly still don't know or see HOW that can work actually practically in your life, and what is to stop you adopting the "pick and choose approach" but I don't expect anyone to be able to try and explain that to me here, and it probably belongs on the interpretation thread.

Sorry to break the trend of worshipping Josephine, but I am not sure that you give the whole issue of false teaching the weight or seriousness that the NT writers give it. Well over half the NT epistles are written to combat particular heresies (some in the strongest of terms), and Jesus warns about this repeatedly. Inerancy is not a panacea for this problem, I'm not suggesting that at all, but it does, as I have said above, limit the interpretative options.

Those are pragmatic considerations, I am convinced that the Bible teaches its own inerrancy too. Just so we are clear.

[ 23. February 2004, 15:43: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Fish-Fish, I apologise for my arrogant quip earlier. It didn't help the discussion and so I am sorry.

No worries! [Biased]

quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
In any case, being inspired by God is not the same as being written by God or dictated word for word by the Holy Spirit. For example, I can be inspired by a beautiful sunset to paint a picture, by a scene of devastation to write a poem, by a lover to write a song. In each case however it is me, and not the source of my inspiration, that creates the painting, poem or song.

Ok, fair point about the Bible not being [i] written [/] by God. It is clearly written by men - we see their characters clearly on each page. However, the Bible claims much more than inspiration - it claims things such as "Thus says the Lord", and "God breathed" - implying the words do come from his mouth. I'm afraid I'll be repeating myself if I go back on what I've already posted above on this. Suffice to say, the claim is for the Bible to be more than inspired, but to be fully guided by God, and thus essentially innerant.

quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
For me, an insistence on an inerrant Bible is actually damaging because, I believe, there is evidence of scientific, historical, geographical and literary errors in the Bible, as well as misqoutes etc.

2 points in summary of what I've previously posted
1. We need to read each verse within its context and within it's genre to make sure its making a scientific claim, or if its poetic language etc which may remove the apparent contradiction.

2. Regarding alleged contradticions, I'll repost what i said before as no one has ever really responded to this - and its my main reason for believing in innerancy:


The more I read the Bible, the less "contradictions" I find. I used to see millions. I don’t see so many now. The vast majority of the Bible ties together wonderfully – with common themes, prophecies, and fulfilled prophecies etc. Since its written by many different people over many centuries and many places, this alone is a remarkable thing. And compelling evidence for the Bible’s authority as the revealed word of God. That’s probably the main reason I started taking it as God's word.

But I freely admit I find some bizarre stuff, and a number of verses which seem contradictory, or at odds with scientific theory etc. My argument is that, if there is an explanation that resolves an apparent contradiction, its fair to accept this explanation.

Lets assume 5% of the Bible is made up of these allegedly contradictory texts. One person states categorically that they contradict with the rest of the text, or with modern science etc. Another person says they can be solved. Both people can claim to have equally valid opinions. The latter looks stupid as they seem to contradict a considerable weight of scientific evidence etc.

But I believe they look stupid because the "contradiction" is seen in isolation from the rest of the Bible. When I realise that 95% of the Bible ties together beautifully, that gives much more weight to those arguing for solutions to the “contradictions”. If you like, the weight of evidence for the consistency of the Bible is so strong, that when we find one of those problems, any proposed solution isn’t just a “fly in the face of science” type argument. It carries much more weight than that.

Now I took the number as 5%. But the number of apparent contradictions is, I would suggest, much much smaller than that. There are some verses about Pi, rabbits chewing cud, and no doubt some others. But compared to the rest of the Bible’s consistent message, any solution to these minor problems of little significance must be much more compelling than you are giving credit. I would go further, and say the solutions are almost unavoidable!

So – to summarise – I find the Bible compelling as it is so consistent – and the inconsistencies are so minor. What an incredible book (books!) it is.


For me, an insistence on an inerrant Bible is actually damaging because, I believe, there is evidence of scientific, historical, geographical and literary errors in the Bible, as well as misqoutes etc. Therefore, to insist that the Bible must stand or fall on the perfection of every verse is, for me, to inisist that the Bible must fall.

Moreover, the fact that there are errors, discreptancies and contradictions in and between between the four canonical actually seems to me to add to their validity, not detract from it. If there were no contractions at all, I would suspect collusion. I would suspect that four clever crooks had cooked up a scam and a con. However, the fact that some of the gospels are not very well written is evidence against this.

Police witness statements of events we know to have happened often show some contradiction in the detail. For example, Witness A may state that the get-away car was red while Witness B is sure that the car was blue. The prescence of comparable errors in the gospels strongly suggests that they were written by honest men who had either seen the events themselves or had heard about them from people who had. It suggests that the evangelists were genuine, not collusionists. [/QB][/QUOTE]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Yeah, it's worked out that way from time to time. And you know what? That's okay. We're not saved on the basis of doctrinal perfection. We're saved based on the mercy and grace and love of the Most High God.

Agreed. Absolutely agreed. But, if we take up the anchor of the authority of the Bible, then we can drift into areas of false teaching or worse that definately can endanger our salvation.

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
This gets back to my question, that you haven't answered, and that Alan courteously repeated.

The Spirit already said everything you need to know. So how do you know that God is Three Persons with one Nature? That Jesus Christ, our Lord, is one Person with two Natures? How do you know whether to call Mary, our Lord's Mother, the Mother of God, or the Mother of Christ, or simply the Mother of Jesus -- and how do you know whether it matters? How do you know whether icons are the necessary implication of the Incarnation of God, or whether they are idols?

I don't propose to answer each of the examples you raise as I haven't time I'm afraid. But, in general response:-

The Bible tells us everything we need to know for salvation. It gives us frameworks and guidelines how to work out how to behave etc. The authority of the Bible has been essential in determining church doctrine. The church has wrestled with big doctrinal issues over many years - but concluded that the scriptures teach the trinity and dual personality of God. The church submitted itself to the authority of the scriptures in coming to these conclusions. And that is what I am arguing for here. Of course the church should work out its doctrine, and it may take centuries. But if it does so submitting to the authority of the Bible, rather than its own collective wisdom, then I believe the church will have good reason to beleive it has discovered the truth.

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Read my lips, Fish Fish. I do not believe in inerrancy. Not of the Bible. Not of the Church.

You seem to have a real talent for telling other people what they believe, rather than paying attention to what they tell you they believe. Rather than saying, "you do indeed believe X," as if you know more about what I believe than I do (this being one of the big reasons that people keep telling you that you come across as arrogant) why don't you try saying, "I don't understand -- doesn't Y imply X?" It would be more respectful, and you just might learn something.

I am really sorry for offending or upsetting you, and for attempting to tell you what you belive. I am sorry that each time I post here I seem to cut corners to save a bit of time, and tread toes in so doing. Sorry! [Hot and Hormonal]

It still seems to be, however, that if you do believe the following statement to be true, (" If you follow those principles, you cannot go headlong down a wrong path. ") then you believe that the church CANNOT go down the wrong path, thus it CANNOT err or stray, and thus CANNOT be in error, and so by definition is innerant. So, you may say "Read my lips, Fish Fish. I do not believe in inerrancy. Not of the Bible. Not of the Church." but it seems to me that you are contradicting yourself, for in practice it seems to me that you do believe in the innerancy of the church.

Sorry if that treads on your toes [Hot and Hormonal] [Hot and Hormonal] [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
A Final, general point, to no one in particular. And I know I'm repeating myself, but...

Everyone seems to be happy to agree that the Bible has authority. But if we (as individuals, or the church) have the right to dismiss even the smallest bit as error, then we have assumed authority over the Bible. And thus the Bible loses its authority. How can we claim it has authority over us if we have the authority to dismiss the bits we think are in error?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
For me, an insistence on an inerrant Bible is actually damaging because, I believe, there is evidence of scientific, historical, geographical and literary errors in the Bible, as well as misqoutes etc. Therefore, to insist that the Bible must stand or fall on the perfection of every verse is, for me, to inisist that the Bible must fall.

Moreover, the fact that there are errors, discreptancies and contradictions in and between between the four canonical actually seems to me to add to their validity, not detract from it. If there were no contractions at all, I would suspect collusion. I would suspect that four clever crooks had cooked up a scam and a con. However, the fact that some of the gospels are not very well written is evidence against this.

Police witness statements of events we know to have happened often show some contradiction in the detail. For example, Witness A may state that the get-away car was red while Witness B is sure that the car was blue. The prescence of comparable errors in the gospels strongly suggests that they were written by honest men who had either seen the events themselves or had heard about them from people who had. It suggests that the evangelists were genuine, not collusionists.

Oops - three posts above, these last 3 paragraphas are a quote that I forgot to delete, and not what I wanted to say! If a host would be able to delete those, and this email, then that would be fantastic [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

[ 23. February 2004, 16:15: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Chesterbelloc (# 3128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
This gets back to my question, that you haven't answered, and that Alan courteously repeated.

The Spirit already said everything you need to know. So how do you know that God is Three Persons with one Nature? That Jesus Christ, our Lord, is one Person with two Natures? How do you know whether to call Mary, our Lord's Mother, the Mother of God, or the Mother of Christ, or simply the Mother of Jesus -- and how do you know whether it matters? How do you know whether icons are the necessary implication of the Incarnation of God, or whether they are idols?

I don't propose to answer each of the examples you raise as I haven't time I'm afraid.

That's a pity then, FF, because I'm guessing that you absolutely need to address such examples for your position to be even vaguely comprehensible, let alone coherent or convincing, to most of us.

I'm having genuine difficulty in seeing how, after repeated attempts by many different posters, you could fail to see the importance of this challenge to your position.

CB
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Fish Fish,

Time to move this on to a slightly different footing. If God wanted a purely clear cut document spelling everything out clearly then:

#1 Why didn't He ensure the Bible more clearly defined itself that way? This debate shows that it isn't.

#2 Why didn't He better protect it against translation errors (for an example, see Psalm 40(v6) and Hebrews 10(v5), spot anything at odds?

#3 Why does He allow honest believers, praying for guidance to come to alternative interpretations?

Serious questions, not challenges. They are some barriers between me and inerrancy.

AB
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
if we... have the right to dismiss even the smallest bit as error, then we have assumed authority over the Bible. And thus the Bible loses its authority.

I corrected my boss' maths the other day.

Does that mean I'm now in charge? I do hope I'll be paid accordingly.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
I'm having genuine difficulty in seeing how, after repeated attempts by many different posters, you could fail to see the importance of this challenge to your position.

CB

Hi - I've tried to answer it in principle -

quote:
The Bible tells us everything we need to know for salvation. It gives us frameworks and guidelines how to work out how to behave etc. The authority of the Bible has been essential in determining church doctrine. The church has wrestled with big doctrinal issues over many years - but concluded that the scriptures teach the trinity and dual personality of God. The church submitted itself to the authority of the scriptures in coming to these conclusions. And that is what I am arguing for here. Of course the church should work out its doctrine, and it may take centuries. But if it does so submitting to the authority of the Bible, rather than its own collective wisdom, then I believe the church will have good reason to beleive it has discovered the truth.

 
Posted by Chesterbelloc (# 3128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
I'm having genuine difficulty in seeing how, after repeated attempts by many different posters, you could fail to see the importance of this challenge to your position.

CB

Hi - I've tried to answer it in principle -

quote:
The Bible tells us everything we need to know for salvation. It gives us frameworks and guidelines how to work out how to behave etc. The authority of the Bible has been essential in determining church doctrine. The church has wrestled with big doctrinal issues over many years - but concluded that the scriptures teach the trinity and dual personality of God. The church submitted itself to the authority of the scriptures in coming to these conclusions. And that is what I am arguing for here. Of course the church should work out its doctrine, and it may take centuries. But if it does so submitting to the authority of the Bible, rather than its own collective wisdom, then I believe the church will have good reason to beleive it has discovered the truth.

But, FF, (and I'm very far from being the first to point this out here) there are many different and coherent ways of reading Scripture that would legitimate a unitarian position as well as a trintarian one. Your example merely shows that a "plain reading" does not yield the right answer alone - which is precisely why the Church needed to sort out it's Christological position in lengthy and difficult Council gatherings. Of course the doctrine of the triune nature of the Godhead is not contrary to Scripture, but it isn't the only way to read Scripture with integrity either. The Spirit guided the Church into that truth, but it was a particularly complicated and drawn-out process. If Scripture were clear on the issue, it just would not have needed to be that way.

If (as you seem to admit yourself) it isn't so straightforwardly "plain", it is you who have to explain why not, since you are arguing that Scripture is clear and consistent on all important teachings. If it isn't clear that God is triune from Scripture, why not?

Why would working out important truths about the Godhead take centuries of Church attention if it were plain? How could the Church fail to use her "collective wisdom" in praying her way through such controversies? How would the Church even know if she were "submitting to the authority of the Bible" without applying such wisdom?

CB
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
our discussion here goes to show that being an inerrantist (for better or worse, this is not meant to be a moral judgement) limits the number of possible interpretations.

I'll agree inerrancy results in limits of interpretation. But then again so does any other view of Scripture, at least those views that hold that Scripture has a level of authority. In many cases, we will end up with the same problems and solutions for many "problem passages". For example, whether or not we accept Biblical inerrancy we object to the apparent barbarism of God ordering the genocide of Caananites - and many of us see this as a "problem" because it is at odds with other Biblical expressions of the nature of God (rather than just "we don't like it") and seek to address it by reference to other Biblical passages. By accepting Biblical authority, whether or not we accept inerrancy, we use the same approach for the same reason to these problems.

But, there are areas where our approach may differ. For example, I would be highly sceptical of an idea that depends on the sun standing still during the battle with the Amorites (Joshua 10) being an actual historical event. It is standard interpretative practice not to hang any doctrine on a single text (again, whether or not Scripture is inerrant). A potential problem with inerrancy is that it forces one to put more importance on individual texts than I would be comfortable with - though I'm aware that there are usually "solutions" to these ... of the "ever-decreasing plausibility to an ever-increasing range of problems of ever-increasing triviality" type mentioned in my quote from Goldingay earlier in this thread (and the morality thread).
 
Posted by Godfather Avatar (# 4513) on :
 
In subsequent posts, Fish Fish wrote:
quote:
2. Regarding alleged contradticions, I'll repost what i said before as no one has ever really responded to this
and:
quote:
I don't propose to answer each of the examples you raise as I haven't time I'm afraid.
And you express surprise that people find you arrogant? You really do take the biscuit, Fish Fish.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
In subsequent posts, Fish Fish wrote:
quote:
2. Regarding alleged contradticions, I'll repost what i said before as no one has ever really responded to this
and:
quote:
I don't propose to answer each of the examples you raise as I haven't time I'm afraid.
And you express surprise that people find you arrogant? You really do take the biscuit, Fish Fish.

Thanks for the biscuit.

In my defence,

1. I did go on to answer the question by explaining some principles - which hopefully began to answer the specific examples raised.

2. No one answered my question - and thats why I thought I might repost it - and also as it answered a question raised of me.

So my hypocrisy and arrogance are not perhaps quite as huge as you suggest, and so I'll pass back the biscuit. But thanks anyway! [Yipee]
 
Posted by Godfather Avatar (# 4513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
2. No one answered my question - and thats why I thought I might repost it - and also as it answered a question raised of me.

OK, then -- rather more constructively:

Before being convinced by your argument from consistency, I'd expect to see a statistical analysis of how many inconsistencies and errors one might expect from a set of texts of this range and antiquity (which is probably impossible to come by anyway), rather than relying on your subjective expectations. I'd expect this -- and the necessary subsequent examinations of the texts to see how many of these there actually are -- to be carried out by somebody rather more disinterested than your good self.

If this established an unexpected degree of consistency, I'd want to know whether this could be explained by the fact that the texts were transmitted, copied, translated and interpreted in cultures which had an interest in creating an apparently consistent body of work.

I'd ask to know whether you'd examined the similarly varied sacred texts of, say, Hinduism or Buddhism to see if they convinced you on similar grounds.

And I'd certainly want to know why -- given that there are many fewer inconsistencies in the Old Testament than there are between the Old and the New -- you hadn't found Judaism an even more convincing religion than Christianity.

Any thoughts?
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
1. I did go on to answer the question by explaining some principles - which hopefully began to answer the specific examples raised.

They don't, as chesterbelloc has pointed out.

Please pick one example from my list, and show how the plain reading of Scripture unambiguously supports whatever your position is, and how any alternative reading is clearly and unequivocally wrong.

If the Bible alone is the supreme authority, without reference to or need for interpretation by the Church, you shouldn't have any trouble at all.

Pick one. If not the Trinity, how about Mary? Is it legitimate to call her the Mother of God or not? Is it necessary? Is it irrelevant?

If you don't like that, pick something else. How about infant baptism. Can infants be baptized? Should they be? Scripture verses only, now. I expect you to show me an explanation that can't be interpreted any other way without doing violence to the Scriptures, and that requires nothing outside the Scriptures to understand it clearly.

I'm waiting.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
Please pick one example from my list, and show how the plain reading of Scripture unambiguously supports whatever your position is, and how any alternative reading is clearly and unequivocally wrong.

If the Bible alone is the supreme authority, without reference to or need for interpretation by the Church, you shouldn't have any trouble at all.

Ok. I'll have a stab at answering this - but can I flag up the one heck of day I've just had?!! [Frown] And can I also suggest that I'm not the only person who comes across as aggressive, arrogant, or patronising on this site? For myself, I try to avoid personal insults in my posts. I don't think they are helpful in the debate. And when i am on the receiving end - I do find it rather agrivating that while I am trying my hardest to answer questions and interact with Christians from another perspective, that I am constantly slammed for being arrogant etc. That's not a criticism of anyone in particular - its just an observation as the person most often as the object of those accusations. But again, I appologise for the times when I am overly blunt.

In response to your post...
I think I'm being slightly misunderstood here. I don't believe I have argued that "the Bible alone is the supreme authority, [which does not need] reference to or need for interpretation by the Church." I think what I've argued for, is that the church has a very special role, even unique role, in setting doctrine and in interpreting the Bible.

But I am suggesting that the church should submit itself to the authority of scripture when formulating its doctrine and morality. The church has been given a gold mine - an authoritative source and reference for determining its doctrine - the Bible. The Bible is not laid out as a doctrine text book, and so we have to work hard to understand it in formulating our doctrines.

So - you ask for an example. Let me take the Trinity. As I understand things, the reason we have the doctrine of the Trinity is because of the texts in the Bible that say that Jesus and the Father are one, that the Spirit is God, and passages that mention all three together. The doctrine of the Trinity is not spelt out in the the Bible. However, it seems to be assumed that God is triune (ege in the passages above). The early church, in an attempt to summarise the texts, came up with the doctrine of the Trinity. This was the church sitting under the scriptures, trying to make best sense of them, and not trying to impose any agenda to have a triune God!

I would argue that the doctrine of the trinity still is subserviant to the Bible. The Bible is set and authoritative - but the doctrine is a sort of systematic summary of the text. The text is set, but the doctrine is open for improvement as we understand the text better. So, yes, the doctrines can take centuries and longer to hone and formulate (I was wrong to mock the long time scales before - sorry). We may yet improve this summary of God as we come to understand the text more.

Now it is clear, that on some issues, there is not an obvious clear reading of scripture. What do we do in this case? I am arguing that the church works hard on understanding what the Bible does say on the issue. And, yes, many will disagree on the conclusion. Concensus may take centuries. But concensus will not be reached if we do not have an authoritative foundation on which doctrine is built. If the Bible is not authoritative (and even if its not innerant), then we lose the boundaries within which we work. I think Leprachaun said it much more clearly:

quote:
Inerrancy doesn't provide "pop the question through the grinder" answers to every question, but it does considerably narrow the field of interpretations by ruling out those that plainly contradict the rest of the Bible.

While this is not a simple answer to many of the hard questions we face, it does provide a solid framework to operate in, and there is a plain difference between doing Interpretative stuff with an inerrant presumption, and doing it without.

If we abandon innerancy, and assume some authority
over the text, then we remove the boundaries God has set in place to help us and guide us.

I hope this is a clearer explanation of my understanding of scripture, and how we decide our doctrine.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
Before being convinced by your argument from consistency, I'd expect to see a statistical analysis of how many inconsistencies and errors one might expect from a set of texts of this range and antiquity (which is probably impossible to come by anyway), rather than relying on your subjective expectations. I'd expect this -- and the necessary subsequent examinations of the texts to see how many of these there actually are -- to be carried out by somebody rather more disinterested than your good self...[etc]

I don't have such statistics. This is simply annecdotal. But it seems to me, that when we talk of errors in the Bible, there are remarkably few considering the size of text, and most are of the order of a couple of numbers here and there etc. That is not to dismiss them as unimportant - but to observe that it seems increadible to me how consistant the Bible is in doctrine and morality.
And how, in almost every case, there are valid and sensible explanations of the so called errors.

But this is annecdotal. How would you measure errors statistically?!
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
#1 Why didn't He ensure the Bible more clearly defined itself that way? This debate shows that it isn't.

I don't agree that the Bible isn't crystal clear in declaring itself to be God's authoritative word! Do I have to go over the reaosns I believe this again?


quote:
Originally posted by AB:
#2 Why didn't He better protect it against translation errors (for an example, see Psalm 40(v6) and Hebrews 10(v5), spot anything at odds?

My argument above is that, if there is a good explanation for such apparent error, since the error is so small when compared to the overall amazing consistance of the Bible, then explanations to questions such as yours carry immense weight.


quote:
Originally posted by AB:
#3 Why does He allow honest believers, praying for guidance to come to alternative interpretations?

I've answered that in part above.

Sorry - I know these are hardly adequate - but I'm so knackered now, that I'll have to submit to the superior authority of my bed, and dealing with the mauling I'll receive in the morning!

Good night!
 
Posted by Chesterbelloc (# 3128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I am suggesting that the church should submit itself to the authority of scripture when formulating its doctrine and morality. The church has been given a gold mine - an authoritative source and reference for determining its doctrine - the Bible. The Bible is not laid out as a doctrine text book, and so we have to work hard to understand it in formulating our doctrines.

But, FF, I repeat: who is to decide precisely what "the authority of the Scriptures" is? You speak as if it were clear from the Scriptures themselves what "authority" they have. This is nonsense. The Church herself decided which of the texts was to be received as "authoritative" (and in what way), not the other way around!

The authority belongs, not to words written down by witnesses to the truth, but to the Word whose body is the Church, through and in the Holy Spirit. There would still be a Church without the Scriptures, but not Scriptures without that Church - that is just the way the Godhead has chosen to operate in the world. The Church herself is the continuation of the revelation of God to the world - the Scriptures are the Church's, not the Church the manifestation of the Scriptures.
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:

So - you ask for an example. Let me take the Trinity. As I understand things, the reason we have the doctrine of the Trinity is because of the texts in the Bible that say that Jesus and the Father are one, that the Spirit is God, and passages that mention all three together. The doctrine of the Trinity is not spelt out in the the Bible. However, it seems to be assumed that God is triune (ege in the passages above). The early church, in an attempt to summarise the texts, came up with the doctrine of the Trinity. This was the church sitting under the scriptures, trying to make best sense of them, and not trying to impose any agenda to have a triune God!

The doctrine of the Trinity as a "summary" of the texts is an idea that I admit to finding utterly bizarre! Also, your implicit dichotomy between slavish binding to the strict "plain" reading of the Scriptures and "trying to impose an agenda" is plain false. The Scriptures were one hugely important tool for the Church in trying to formulate for herself who Christ is, but how could the Church have come to the authoritative conclusion on the person of Christ with just the texts? So huge and central a doctrine soc clearly derivable from a braod overview of some particularly tricky texts, without using her "accumulated wisdom"? You really believe that? No additional help upon the special intercession of the Spirit? I really don't understand that, which is why I'm left really scratching my head at the following:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I would argue that the doctrine of the trinity still is subserviant to the Bible. The Bible is set and authoritative - but the doctrine is a sort of systematic summary of the text. The text is set, but the doctrine is open for improvement as we understand the text better. So, yes, the doctrines can take centuries and longer to hone and formulate (I was wrong to mock the long time scales before - sorry). We may yet improve this summary of God as we come to understand the text more.

The text is set as what? It's not a bus timetable. So the text is such that, even after all the Councils and centuries of controversies, we can't be sure we've got it right evwen yet? What kind of plain authoritative text is this?
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
Thanks for this debate so far. Please avoid killing each other, so far we seem to have at least agreed that that would be bad. [Razz]

I have decided that I really don't like the term "inerrant." It's got a lot of baggage for different people.

A better word (as I see it) is "perfect" - which may look like a kind of a weird distinction, but as I see it inerrant is a very exacting term, whereas perfect has a lot more room to move. (One error disproves strict inerrancy.) They are perfect inasmuch as they are designed by God, inbreathed by Him, and fulfil His purpose. It's perfect for what it's for. Of course, that word has a lot of baggage too. But it's how I see it.

I struggle to accept the standpoint often quoted that "the original manuscripts are inerrant, but some typos may have slipped in with time." That just looks sloppy on God's part. Actually I prefer the traditional Jewish understanding that they actually improved with time, which makes the scriptures far more of a community production than an individual job. (Something akin to antiquity, universality and consensus.)

We need to wrestle. I don't think it's a simple as being "under or over" the scriptures. It's about being under God and His authority, and (in my life) walking around the scriptures, looking at them this way and that, wrestling with them - not so much under them but under God. And as I do this I grow. God's authority comes through the scriptures, through the church (institutionally and relationally) and through experience and personal revelation by His Spirit. It is God who is over all these methods, not the Bible. And from what I'm reading here from other posters, they aren't assuming personal authority over the Bible, but acknowledging a wider view of authority.

I also find it very difficult to justify inerrancy only from the Bible (which would mean that the doctrine of inerrancy comes from one of those errant sources.)

Finally, let's not become distracted by discussing a doctrine of scriptures. We could spend an awful lot of time talking about how valid an approach to reading them is, and forget to actually read them.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:

#1 Why didn't He ensure the Bible more clearly defined itself that way? This debate shows that it isn't.

If I may be permitted to slightly nuance FF's answer here, as, I think has been made clear, for may people here authority and inerrancy do not imply one another.(so the answer "it is authoritative" is not sufficient in itself) And apologies for repeating myself, as I think I wrote this somewhere else. I think that inerrancy follows from the character of God as revealed in the Bible, and believing that God verbally inspired it. Now, as I have said elsewhere, if you do not believe that the Bible is inspired ("breathed/spirited out") by God, there is no need to even have this discussion.
But if you do, and you believe that God is as he says he is in the Bible, then for his words to be perfect simply follows. And in fact, this is spelt out in many places, not least in Psalm 119 the Bible's longest chapter.
I think that's while we will probably find, as has become apparent earlier in this discussion, that our differences over error, underneath it all, probably boil down to differences in understanding what it means for Scripture to be God-breathed.
That's partly why this discussion has become a bit circular. So in answer to your question AB (and you are not going to like this, and neither are you Karl, be warned) I think that God doesn't need to use the word inerrant of his words, or a particular document, because to say that's someone's words are untrue is a slight on their character. As such, God establishes his character and leaves us to accept the implications about the things he says.
We had a practical example of this in our little fracas earlier on this thread, where Karl took something I said about something He said to be an indictment of his character. Its that type of thing.

Oh, one more thing, I would be quite happy to ditch the word inerrant if it has baggage for people, and go with perfect instead. Maybe that's better because its actually a word the Bible uses repeatedly of itself. But I don't think that implies any less of a standard of accuracy...

[ 24. February 2004, 08:30: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
But, FF, I repeat: who is to decide precisely what "the authority of the Scriptures" is? You speak as if it were clear from the Scriptures themselves what "authority" they have. This is nonsense. The Church herself decided which of the texts was to be received as "authoritative" (and in what way), not the other way around!

No, its not nonsense! Its too easy to dismiss my position as nonsense!! And I have answered this before.

I don't see the church as sitting over the texts, in editorship, deciding which were in and which were out, and chopping the bits they didn't like. Rather, the church recognised the scriptures when they read them - their authority was apparent - their apostolic authoriship was their mark of authenticity - and also their consistency with the rest of scripture. When you compare the Biblical books with those which were rejected, these rejected texts massively contradict / teach different things about God etc.

So, in summary - the church recognised what was given rather than sitting over the text and editting it.

quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The Church herself is the continuation of the revelation of God to the world

Agreed. But in order for the church to operate within some God given boundaries, and knowing that people will err and stray unless they have some boundaries, God has given us the scriptures. If you abandon their authority, or water their authority down, then the church can drift into all sorts of heresy - as indeed it did pre-reformation.

quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The doctrine of the Trinity as a "summary" of the texts is an idea that I admit to finding utterly bizarre!

Ok then - how did we get the doctrine of the trinity if not by formalising what is written in the scriptures?


quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
No additional help upon the special intercession of the Spirit?

You misunderstand me. I am NOT saying the church is not invoved in interpreting the scriptures or forming doctrine. I am NOT saying the Spirit is not massively involved. But what I AM saying is that the Spirit has already spoken to us with authority, and so we can test what we think the Spirit may be saying to us today by comparing with what he has said in the past, becasue he does not change.

quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The text is set as what? It's not a bus timetable. So the text is such that, even after all the Councils and centuries of controversies, we can't be sure we've got it right evwen yet? What kind of plain authoritative text is this?

The text isn't changing. Its set.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
Oh, one more thing, I would be quite happy to ditch the word inerrant if it has baggage for people, and go with perfect instead. Maybe that's better because its actually a word the Bible uses repeatedly of itself. But I don't think that implies any less of a standard of accuracy...

I think I agree - but again so long as perfect means completely perfect - ie without error! [Biased]
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
Fish Fish said:
quote:
.....what I AM saying is that the Spirit has already spoken to us with authority, and so we can test what we think the Spirit may be saying to us today by comparing with what he has said in the past, becasue he does not change.

But communication is a relationship involving more than just God. God (in Christ or in Spirit) may not have changed, but we his people have. Why then must both the message and its meaning be unchanging when the context in which they are received has changed? I don't understand.

It has always seemed to me that we are happy to accept that context has changed when it suits us - a relatively non contentious example being Paul's prohibition of women even speaking in Church (1 Corinthians 14 I think) - but less comfortable when it does not. Surely we are forever moving on? Why then should not the meaning of scripture be different for us in our different context? Or did Paul really mean that my wife can't read next week's lesson?

Honestly, this business of scripture being hard and fast, as if context has absolutely no bearing, baffles me.
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
One further question:

quote:
The text isn't changing. Its set.
What language is it set in?
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Lep, you wrote
quote:
our differences over error, underneath it all, probably boil down to differences in understanding what it means for Scripture to be God-breathed.

I think that for most of us, you are right.

But I don't think that this necessarily follows:
quote:
I think that God doesn't need to use the word inerrant of his words, or a particular document, because to say that's someone's words are untrue is a slight on their character. As such, God establishes his character and leaves us to accept the implications about the things he says.

Why do I say this. Clearly, at face value, what you say is true. However:

1) The process by which we received the scriptures was not one of divine dictation. I don't think even the most ardent inerrantist would argue for that. Thus the possibility exists, as it were, that God's words, if you like, were misheard by the human authors. This implies no slight on God's character.

2) There is no reason to interpret scriptural "perfection", to use the current in term, to mean "inerrant". Many would argue that "perfection" refers to fitness for purpose. Thus, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul," is just a poetic way of saying, "one of the best paths towards spiritual refreshment is Bible reading," a sentiment with which we would probably all agree. I would submit that the inerrancy or otherwise of the text has no bearing upon its efficacy to be a vehicle through which the Holy Spirit can interact with an individual. Indeed, it is at least possible that 2Tim 3:16 (the "God-breathed" scripture) refers to the present inspiration, rather than the original inspiration of the text.

3)It is at least possible, surely you would agree, that God does not want a cut-and-dried, infallible Bible, because the purpose of the Scriptures is to lead us into relationship with the Word, that is Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, rather than have us follow a rule-book.

Of course, you could argue that, in much the same way as those who do not see the bible as inerrant sometime accuse inerrantists of manipulating the scriptures to fit a pre-determined doctrine, that I am guilty of the same process in reverse. I don't think that it's true, but I accept is a difficult argument to counter.

I think that, for me, inerrancy is problematic because, if we have an inerrant text, we have a self-contradictory text, and that I would have problems with. The Joshua account of the disposession and genocide of the Canaanites is not some minor discrepency that can be ironed out by textual reinterpretation in due course, as Fish Fish seems to believe (hope I'm not putting words in your mouth, FF.) Nor is it a case of "God knows the whole picture, you do not". That would be apalling relativism. If the Joshua account is true, (wrt God's instructions, rather than the historical facts) then Jesus was wrong when He said "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father", because there is no way to could reconcile such an incomprehensibly evil act with the Jesus we read of in the New Testament, or whom I see incarnated in my brothers and sisters.


Fish Fish, you wrote:
quote:
But in order for the church to operate within some God given boundaries, and knowing that people will err and stray unless they have some boundaries, God has given us the scriptures. If you abandon their authority, or water their authority down, then the church can drift into all sorts of heresy - as indeed it did pre-reformation.

And have Protestant groups been any better Post-Reformation? There are at least as many examples of inerrantist-type belief leading into heresy and error. For every Torquemada, I can quote a Matthew Hopkins, for every Borgia Pope, a Jim Jones (not the Bish of Liverpool, the guy in the central American Jungle). Holding doctines of inerrancy seems at least as poor as the alternative view in preventing error.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Honestly, this business of scripture being hard and fast, as if context has absolutely no bearing, baffles me.
PnP, I can't (honestly) work out if you are being obtuse or not. No one is suggesting that context has no relevance, merely that changing contexts cannot force us to accept that the Bible truth must be doubted.
Your 1 Cor 14 example, makes it sound like those who believe in the Bible's "perfection" simply assume that this command is not relevant because our cultural context has changed.
Of course there is more to it than this, and there is a lot of hard study to be done as to what Paul means here, as there were clearly women taking an active part in church life in Paul's churches, and an expectation in 1 Cor 11 that they will be "praying and prophesying". So obviously even the Corinthian context was complicated and mixed, and believing in "perfection" does not stop you appreciating and working this out. In fact, if anything, it makes you more committed to this process, because you are determined not to write one or other reference off as an error.

Everyone can pick one text and show where, on an unconsidered view, the other point of view is wrong. Can we please (and I am trying not to sound narky here) try to actually understand what the opposing view is, and how it works before setting up straw men to knock them down?

I hold my hands up as someone who has made this mistake in the other direction before, and want to underline that it did not get us anywhere..
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Lep Qouth

I think that God doesn't need to use the word inerrant of his words, or a particular document, because to say that's someone's words are untrue is a slight on their character

Given that I (and, I think, my fellow non-inerrantists) are saying that the Bible is God's word in less than a totally literal sense, in what way is this a condemnation of our position?

I don't think that Karl or anybody else here is attempting to insult God or blaspheme his character! [Confused]

[ 24. February 2004, 10:52: Message edited by: Papio ]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Lep Qouth

I think that God doesn't need to use the word inerrant of his words, or a particular document, because to say that's someone's words are untrue is a slight on their character

Given that I (and, I think, my fellow non-inerrantists) are saying that the Bible is God's word in less than a totally literal sense, in what way is this a condemnation of our position?

I don't think that Karl or anybody else here is attempting to insult God or blaspheme his character! [Confused]

Exactly my point Papio - the issue is inspiriation not inerrancy really. I was not trying to condemn your position, merely point out the logical conclusion of my own position on inspiration.

I am, like FF, convinced of the practical benefits of inerrancy for authority, certainty etc. However the main reason I believe it is because I believe in the character of God and his verbal inspiration of the Bible. That's why I believe in inerrancy, and that's why (re the question I was actually answering) I don't think inerrancy is mentioned plainly. I think it is to be assumed from the character of God and the nature of the Scriptures. Of course if we disagree on either of those (and there are clearly disagreements on both on this thread) we will disagree on this issue. Of course, its a viscious circle, because the only authority I can appeal from my position is the Bible, while others will say "that part you are appealing to is incorrect" but such is the nature of the debate.
So I was not trying to insult you, merely answer the question in hand.
JJ, I am very interested in the ideas in your post, but must actually do some work on my real job now. Maybe later...

PS Why did I "quoth" this quote. I am trying to work out if this was an implied insult or not, do feel free to explain.
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
quote:
PnP, I can't (honestly) work out if you are being obtuse or not. No one is suggesting that context has no relevance, merely that changing contexts cannot force us to accept that the Bible truth must be doubted.
Forgive me. I come to the debate having just been in correspondance elsewhere with a Presbyterian clergyman who has argued that there is no room for 'interpretation' of scripture. Believe it or not, such a view - that context has no bearing - is held by some, even if not by contributors to this thread.

quote:
Your 1 Cor 14 example, makes it sound like those who believe in the Bible's "perfection" simply assume that this command is not relevant because our cultural context has changed.
If the Bible is perfect (and all of it is of equal weight, a view I assume Fish Fish holds btw) then if Paul says "I do not permit women to speak in Church" then that is hard and fast. Isn't it? Of course it is mighty complicated, but complicated context doesn't undermine unambiguous commandment if you believe that the Word of God is set for all times and places.

quote:
Can we please (and I am trying not to sound narky here) try to actually understand what the opposing view is, and how it works before setting up straw men to knock them down?

I've been trying to understand the views expressed by those who believe the Bible to be a) error free and b) not open to debate (as to its meaning) for a very long time. I apologise if the tone of my posts gives any other impression.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
PS Why did I "quoth" this quote. I am trying to work out if this was an implied insult or not, do feel free to explain.
It wasn't.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
And have Protestant groups been any better Post-Reformation? There are at least as many examples of inerrantist-type belief leading into heresy and error. For every Torquemada, I can quote a Matthew Hopkins, for every Borgia Pope, a Jim Jones (not the Bish of Liverpool, the guy in the central American Jungle). Holding doctines of inerrancy seems at least as poor as the alternative view in preventing error.

Yep - can't deny that!

I guess that just reinforces the need for the church and accountability - and if the church as a whole holds to the innerancy and authority of scripture, then when a group starts erring (as with your examples), then the church has the authoritative texts to use in its correcting and rebuking. But lose the scriptual authority, and the sects will still go AWOL - but the church doesn't have the tools with which to correct them.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
If the Bible is perfect (and all of it is of equal weight, a view I assume Fish Fish holds btw)...

Yes, but interpreted by other texts, taken in context, etc. So I echo Lep when he talks about the hard work we need to do with these texts.
 
Posted by Belle (# 4792) on :
 
So, it's not so much that it's an inerrant text - more that there is an inerrant interpretation?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Belle:
So, it's not so much that it's an inerrant text - more that there is an inerrant interpretation?

Not sure where you get this from - but I'll repsond for myself - No! I'm arguing that we have an innerant text with a flawed interpetation which is constantly being honed and improved.
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
If the Bible is perfect (and all of it is of equal weight, a view I assume Fish Fish holds btw)...

Yes, but interpreted by other texts, taken in context, etc.
Just curious... each verse is as important as those that come before and after? Is each word as important too?
 
Posted by Belle (# 4792) on :
 
Just to explain my comment... you seem (to me) to be saying that the Bible is perfect, or inerrant, but requires study to understand it properly - whether that is to reconcile apparent inconsistencies or draw the fullest meaning from the text. You seem therefore, to accept the fact that everyone who reads the Bible interprets it - whatever the criteria they use to do so. To me, that implies that you believe the interpretation you subscribe to is inerrant - otherwise there would be no reason to think that 'your' reading of the scriptures was any more likely to be the 'true' reading than anyone else's - whether or not they believed there was an inerrant meaning there to be uncovered.

In fact - whether or not there is a true or inerrant meaning becomes academic, since it is not possible to discern whose understanding is the inerrant one by appeal to a text we all admit is open to interpretation.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Belle:

In fact - whether or not there is a true or inerrant meaning becomes academic, since it is not possible to discern whose understanding is the inerrant one by appeal to a text we all admit is open to interpretation.

Belle,
you make a good point, but I think it may be the same one made by Alan above. In a sense I agree, discussing inerrancy is really only scratching what the real issue is, about inspiration and authority. It certainly doesn't stand alone as a doctrine.
When discussing this with Alan I pointed out that the interpretations are limited considerably by holding to inerrancy. And while it does not provide automatic answers to difficult questions, it is interesting to note that the Christians who hold to an inerrantist viewpoint do tend to agree about a number of other issues that a lot of us would disagree about here - models of the atonement, nature of heaven and hell etc.

I don't think anyone is (I am certainly not) making the claim that inerrancy posits easy answers to every hermenutical question.
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
quote:
When discussing this with Alan I pointed out that the interpretations are limited considerably by holding to inerrancy.
By limiting possible interpretations, aren't you in danger of missing the correct one?! [Big Grin]

Seriously, interpretations they remain, human interpretations at that, and therefore no more guaranteed to be correct than the interpretation of one who does not hold to inerrancy. Above all else, it is possible that the interpretation which gives rise to the inerrancy claim in the first place may be false. At least, that's how it seems to me.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Fish Fish, you wrote
quote:
I guess that just reinforces the need for the church and accountability - and if the church as a whole holds to the innerancy and authority of scripture, then when a group starts erring (as with your examples), then the church has the authoritative texts to use in its correcting and rebuking. But lose the scriptual authority, and the sects will still go AWOL - but the church doesn't have the tools with which to correct them.
But the whole basis of my argument is that the scriptures are, indeed, authoritative, and thus useful as per 2Tim 3:16, for the above purposes, and that authority is in no way diminished by jettisoning inerrancy, which (as I guess you know by now) I believe to be a doctrine that weakens scripture's position rather than enhances it, because it requires one to believe in, as it were, two impossible things before breakfast.

Lep, you wrote:

quote:
And while it does not provide automatic answers to difficult questions, it is interesting to note that the Christians who hold to an inerrantist viewpoint do tend to agree about a number of other issues that a lot of us would disagree about here - models of the atonement, nature of heaven and hell etc.

I think that very possibly this is true, but is it because coming from an inerrantist background will automatically lead one to particular views of atonement, heaven or hell, etc, or because the culture of churches which espouse inerrancy also espouse the aforsaid points of view. In other words, does the doctinal standpoint on these issues come from the bible, or do we read the Bible in the light of our doctrinal standpoint, and therefore see in it what we expect to see. Please note, I am not saying that is the case, certainly not for any of the posters here. But I do believe that some people imbibe the whole PSA/Inerrancy/literal hell belief set from, as it were, their mother's milk, without actually examining the bases of these belief sets too carefully.

I say this with some reason. I became a Christian in a church that was staunchly conservative Evangelical. The aforementioned assumptions were there in the background, if not often stated. I have to say that, when I read the Bible, these assumptions made no sense whatsoever to me. I just didn't see them in the texts. So, for me, reading the Bible contradicted, rather than fortified those belief sets. What I did find was a book (or rather books) told the story of the centuries of strugle between a God who passionately wanted to reveal Himself to humankind, and those same people who, for the most part, and with some glorious exceptions, through ignorance, predjudice and sometimes downright cussedness, were determined not to hear. And ultimately, that desire on God's part was fulfilled in Jesus.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Lep,

I wanted to make a point about the character of God argument, which you've used a few times on this and other threads.

I hope I don't misrepresent your position here, but my understanding of it was that God is always truthful, the Bible is God's word, and is thus also true. God is incapable of making mistakes, thus the Bible too is free of mistakes.

It is a compelling argument to be sure, and we should not dismiss it lightly - however, I would like to add a few more coals on the fire, as it were.

I would say another facet of God is that He is a power-sharing God. He wants us to be involved in the process of salvation and redemption. Thus he spoke through Prophets, rather than directly. Thus he gave His Law via Moses, rather than directly. Thus His church was formed to spread the gospel, rather than just He revealing Himself to the world.

I would hope you would agree so far?

Now I think it is fair to say that this power-sharing plan is something of a risk. God knows our nature, and that we will always muck things up. Indeed both the Bible and history are littered with examples of us mucking up God's plan (countless exiles for rebelling, the crusades etc..)

I would say that this power-sharing facet of the character of God is important. We are fallible, God uses us despite our fallibility.

My point, therefore, is why God can't use a fallible Bible too? If God's redemptive message can still win out through the muddy waters of our collective witnesses, can't it also win out through the odd mistake and bias here and there? Why, since we represent God down here, aren't we perfect and innerrant? Or why doesn't God use agents who are?

And a quick bonus question for Fish Fish. If you were talking to a non-Christian who positively couldn't stomach the thought of divine genocide in Joshua, yet was hungry to know Jesus - would you break down that barrier between him and His Lord? Or would you insist that he take the whole package or nothing? (this is a situation I quite often find myself in, by the way).

AB
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
And while it does not provide automatic answers to difficult questions, it is interesting to note that the Christians who hold to an inerrantist viewpoint do tend to agree about a number of other issues that a lot of us would disagree about here - models of the atonement, nature of heaven and hell etc.

And this couldn't have anything to do with the similarity of their backgrounds, ecclesiastically-wise-speaking? [Roll Eyes]

[ 24. February 2004, 20:19: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
Just curious... each verse is as important as those that come before and after? Is each word as important too?

Erm - not each English word as they are always only an approximate translation.

But is each verse as important as another - I guess not - I guess we'd lose a lot if we lost Jesu claiming to be the way truth and life or a passage on the resurrection, but less if we lost the fact that Jesus caught 153 fish.

Not sure the implication of this, and not thought it through - so I reserve the right to backtrack if someone points out my whole argument collapses on this point!!!
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
But the whole basis of my argument is that the scriptures are, indeed, authoritative, and thus useful as per 2Tim 3:16, for the above purposes, and that authority is in no way diminished by jettisoning inerrancy, which (as I guess you know by now)

I'm in serious danger of repetative strain injury by typing the same thing so many times! But here goes...

If you accept that there are errors in the text, then you assume the authority to determine those errors. You assume authority over the text. How, then, can you claim that is has authority over you?

I know I've asked this a thousand times. but I don't recall an answer to this fundamental problem. Sorry if I've missed it!
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
And a quick bonus question for Fish Fish. If you were talking to a non-Christian who positively couldn't stomach the thought of divine genocide in Joshua, yet was hungry to know Jesus - would you break down that barrier between him and His Lord? Or would you insist that he take the whole package or nothing? (this is a situation I quite often find myself in, by the way).

AB

I think I said above that salvation is not dependent on accepting the innerancy of the scriptures. So, no, I would (and do) urge them to consider Jesus, and if they can't accept the other stuff but accept him then great.

When I became a Christian I believed very little of the Bible. My conviction of innerancy has developped over time (joining this debate has made me think it all through more deeply that I ever have done - and convinced me more than ever that innernacy makes sense and is right!). It develops, as Lep says, with a greater understanding of the nature of God. So, let them leap on board with Jesus - and the rest may well follow.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
My experience has been the opposite - I was an inerrancist, but gradually realised I could not accept the conclusions of inerrancy - divine approval of Joshua's genocides being just one such conclusion.

But surely you've already appointed yourself as authority anyway? By what authority do you accept the Bible's claims (as you see them) and reject the claims of the Koran or the Vedas?

[ 24. February 2004, 21:47: Message edited by: Karl - Liberal Backslider ]
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
If you accept that there are errors in the text, then you assume the authority to determine those errors. You assume authority over the text. How, then, can you claim that is has authority over you?

I wouldn't say that this is necessarily so. I see it more as a case of recognising God's authority, over us and the scriptures (He is bigger than them, let's not lose sight of that.)

The difference in viewpoints on this issue seems to be that you accept a clear line of authority, God at the top, then the Scriptures under God, then the church under the Scriptures under God - something akin to military ranking (is that an accurate surmise?)

I would tend to see it more like all creation (including the Scriptures) under God, and humankind in particular under His authority through whatever means He delegates His authority, which can even be cyclical or reciprocal chains of command, depending on the issue. God's authority came through the words of a donkey at one point, yet I don't think that this means that we should now rank underneath donkeys in the chain of command, although in a way, at that point, Balaam did.

A less trivial example is the council at Jerusalem, to discuss the Gentile issue. Those guys could have talked around in circles debating the circumcision thing, but suddenly the attention turned not just to biblical precepts, but experience. (Acts 15:12.) And in that instance, by recognising where God was at, they actually tested the scriptures against their experience, which is back to front from what we are normally told. At other times they tested experience against scripture - but at all times they assumed that they were under God's authority.

(None of this approach that I have outlined necessarily judges the scriptures as being prone to error, or without error. I agree with Josephine that the distinction is unhelpful.)

Rather than assuming authority over the text, from what I've read here the non-inerrant approach would seek God's authority over the text, and more importantly their own lives. Yes, motives and preconceoptions will muddy the issue, but I don't think the position is as untenable as you imply.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
FF, you wrote
quote:
If you accept that there are errors in the text, then you assume the authority to determine those errors. You assume authority over the text. How, then, can you claim that is has authority over you?

Well I sort of see your point, but authority doesn't really work that way. I guess if the bible were a single text, then you would indeed be in authority over it if you were to make a judgement on its inspiration and accuracy. But as you yourself pointed out, not every text is of equal value to the church. And it is the church that gave us the scriptures. I hear the argument that what they did was to recognise the pre-existing inspiration of those texts, but, by your argument of above, it is clear that the church took authority to judge that level of inspiration. John is in, Thomas is out. If it was capable of doing it then, whilst still considering itself to be under the authority of those scriptures, or more importantly, of God, it is capable of the same task now.

But I disagree with the implied dichotomy between being under the authority of the scriptures, and judging from those scriptures whether they are, in certain instances, wrong.

The analogy earlier on this thread with the US Constitution (with the usual caveats of not taking the analogy too far) seems to me right. No-one would claim the Constitution is infallible or inerrant, yet it gives authority to the US state. There is even a Supreme Court whose function (as I understand it) is to sort out the implications of the Constitution and to ammend it as necessary. So, by your logic, the Supreme Court has authority over the constitution, yet the Supreme Court sees itself as the servant of the Constitution, and draws its authority from the Constitution. So I don't see that there is any necessary contradiction in having a non-inerrant source of authority.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
JJ, your post had me pondering most of the day yesterday, v interesting. Here's my thoughts:
quote:

1) The process by which we received the scriptures was not one of divine dictation. I don't think even the most ardent inerrantist would argue for that. Thus the possibility exists, as it were, that God's words, if you like, were misheard by the human authors. This implies no slight on God's character.

I think that this is certainly, in theory a possibility. However, I think there is ample evidence in the Bible that God did not expect the Scriptures to be seen in this way. Eg - the minor prophets are basically sermons condemning God's people for not listening to Deteronomy. Never once is the caveat given that Moses could have got it down wrong, this is never even floated as a possibility. It would be quite unfair of God to expect obedience to things he hadn't said. Similarly, Jesus in Matthew 5 is determined that not even a jot of the Law and the Prophets should be sidelined or ignored, and this is also seen in Pauline thought - Romans 15 "whatever is written is former days is for our benefit". I certainly think in the later writings if there were parts of God's word that were not really his word, he would have made it clear, rather than constantly berating/encouraging based on the complete obedience to it. This is obviously open to the riposte that you think the bits of the Bible I have pointed out are errors (!) but there is nothing I can do about that.

quote:

2) There is no reason to interpret scriptural "perfection", to use the current in term, to mean "inerrant". Many would argue that "perfection" refers to fitness for purpose. Thus, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul," is just a poetic way of saying, "one of the best paths towards spiritual refreshment is Bible reading," a sentiment with which we would probably all agree. I would submit that the inerrancy or otherwise of the text has no bearing upon its efficacy to be a vehicle through which the Holy Spirit can interact with an individual. Indeed, it is at least possible that 2Tim 3:16 (the "God-breathed" scripture) refers to the present inspiration, rather than the original inspiration of the text.

But is the Bible fit for the purpose which we (at least I) claim it is fit for if it is unreliable? Can it introduce us to the true God, and be the introduction point for a relationship of faith (which means taking promises as reliable and trusting them) if it is not in fact trustworthy? I think there is also something here about the fact that God bases his relationship with people, and his expectation that they should trust him on the fact that his actions and words have been true and trustworthy in the past. Certainly throughout Deuteronomy he expresses this sentiment repeatedly. I would submit that the Bible is not fit for this purpose, to bring us to faith in God's promises, if in itself it is not trustworthy. No matter what you think about the tenses in 2 Tim 3:16 the Bible is supposed to make us "wise for salvation".

quote:
It is at least possible, surely you would agree, that God does not want a cut-and-dried, infallible Bible, because the purpose of the Scriptures is to lead us into relationship with the Word, that is Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, rather than have us follow a rule-book.

Hmmm, I wouldn't agree. I don't think the Bible ever makes this distinction between grace and truth. Truth leads us to grace, and grace keeps us in truth. I think (perhaps because of your experience of Conv evo Christians) you make a link between legalism and inerrancy that shouldn't follow. Truth leads us to relationship, rather than blocking us from it. In fact, I can only really get to know you, if you are telling me the truth about yourself.
quote:

If the Joshua account is true, (wrt God's instructions, rather than the historical facts) then Jesus was wrong when He said "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father", because there is no way to could reconcile such an incomprehensibly evil act with the Jesus we read of in the New Testament, or whom I see incarnated in my brothers and sisters.

JJ, we have already discussed this on the PSA thread, and you know that I do not accept this. I would refer you to my earlier post where I talked about the relationship between the Jesus of the Gospels and the God of the OT. Its interesting, even if you do write off the OT God as being inconsistent, that we have that same Jesus (recorded by the same author if you accept Johannine authorship) promising to kill someone's children because they have lead God's people away from the truth. This sounds quite like the rationale for getting rid of the Canaanites in Joshua, that they will lead God's people astray...Anyway, this may need another thread..
AB, you wrote:
quote:

My point, therefore, is why God can't use a fallible Bible too? If God's redemptive message can still win out through the muddy waters of our collective witnesses, can't it also win out through the odd mistake and bias here and there? Why, since we represent God down here, aren't we perfect and innerrant? Or why doesn't God use agents who are?

AB, I don't think I said that God couldn't use a fallible Bible. Of course he could. I am saying that he chooses not to; he expects us to put such high stock on his words, (to stake our eternity on his promises being true no less) that he himself makes the link between his words and his character that his words are to be viewed as he is. Now if there was any hint that God didn't stand by some of the things he has revealed then I would think you have a point, but I would also be wondering what reason I have to trust his promises in the Gospel. I think your point is about us and our fallibility is good, but the fact that we are fallible and God's word is not is why I would, in evangelism always want to keep the message the central thing, and my life as a pointer to it, rather than "our lives are the message" that you hear people say. But that's another debate.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
we have that same Jesus (recorded by the same author if you accept Johannine authorship) promising to kill someone's children because they have lead God's people away from the truth.
Where, exactly?

You now have me scared.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
quote:
we have that same Jesus (recorded by the same author if you accept Johannine authorship) promising to kill someone's children because they have lead God's people away from the truth.
Where, exactly?

You now have me scared.

Revelation

Ah yes, I meant to say "if you accept Joahnnine authorship of Revelation". Apologies. Its in Rev 2:23.

[ 25. February 2004, 08:52: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Lep,

quote:
I don't think I said that God couldn't use a fallible Bible. Of course he could. I am saying that he chooses not to; he expects us to put such high stock on his words, (to stake our eternity on his promises being true no less) that he himself makes the link between his words and his character that his words are to be viewed as he is.
Sorry Lep, I wasn't implying that you thought that God was incapable of using a fallible Bible, but I was trying to point out that you feel God is 'constrained' by His character - and I was trying to counter that by sharing the the realm of teaching and proclaiming with us fallibles indicates that it's perhaps not as clear cut as we would like. If God is willing and able (in His character) to allow us humans to misrepresent Him, why then the special case for the Bible?

If your answer above is about how we might know the character of God, I may ask how many Biblical characters were able to without the help of the combined Bible, or, in some cases, even the Law.

quote:
...but I would also be wondering what reason I have to trust his promises in the Gospel
By seeing them mirrored in life? By seeing, in your life, that God is in control? And, to put it Biblically: "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether [Jesus'] teaching comes from God or whether [He] speaks on [His] own. (John 7:17)

I am happy that the Gospels are accurate, because they are a source of wisdom for my life. Because I don't think there are credible historical criticisms of them and because archeology seems to back them up.

AB
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
quote:
we have that same Jesus (recorded by the same author if you accept Johannine authorship) promising to kill someone's children because they have lead God's people away from the truth.
Where, exactly?

You now have me scared.

Revelation

Ah yes, I meant to say "if you accept Joahnnine authorship of Revelation". Apologies. Its in Rev 2:23.

I think that particular passage is open to a non-literal translation, myself.

A literal translation gives us a Jesus who says "Suffer the little children, unless I don't like their mother in which case I'll murder the little bastards" - doesn't quite work, really.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
quote:
we have that same Jesus (recorded by the same author if you accept Johannine authorship) promising to kill someone's children because they have lead God's people away from the truth.
Where, exactly?

You now have me scared.

Revelation

Ah yes, I meant to say "if you accept Joahnnine authorship of Revelation". Apologies. Its in Rev 2:23.

I think that particular passage is open to a non-literal translation, myself.

A literal translation gives us a Jesus who says "Suffer the little children, unless I don't like their mother in which case I'll murder the little bastards" - doesn't quite work, really.

Thank you for your reply in such non-pejorative, objective terms. Revelation 2 is clearly describing a situation where Jesus "doesn't like" Jezebel. [Roll Eyes] [Disappointed]

As you are well aware there is another thread on literality. We can continue this discussion there if you like. To what end I'm not sure.
In the mean time, with reference to this discussion, I would say, that even if this does mean Jezebel's followers (which I think it might) the principle of what I was originally saying about the OT still applies.

PS In the same way you don't like being called a liar, I don't like being talked to like an idiot. Just so you know.

[ 25. February 2004, 09:37: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
My apologies if you thought I was talking to you like an idiot. I was merely expressing my opinions on the passage and the reason I find a literal interpretation incompatible with Jesus as He is otherwise revealed. Again, my apologies if you took it differently.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
My apologies if you thought I was talking to you like an idiot. I was merely expressing my opinions on the passage and the reason I find a literal interpretation incompatible with Jesus as He is otherwise revealed. Again, my apologies if you took it differently.

Thank you. Most gracious. I appreciate it.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
AB,

In principle I do see what you mean, I do, but

1) God makes a big deal about his words showing what he is like, and especially in Deuteronomy, that his words are true and hence the basis of believing that he is faithful, and the basis of believing that his people should be faitful to Him. So answer - God can/could use fallible words to work, but he doesn't, he does it through truth, because it shows what he is like. (That's not just a logical argument, as I said, I think God makes that link repeatedly)

I wonder does your doctrine of errancy extend to our moral behaviour - that we have to be faithful to God, only to a certain extent, and not entirely truthful and faithful in everything we do?

2) Faith, throughout the Bible, is trusting a promise which is extended in words. (from Abraham onwards) We need to have reason to believe that the one speaking those words is trustworthy, and my reason is that he says he is. If he's got some thing wrong, he may have got this wrong.
I don't know about your life, but sometimes I can't see God working at all, I don't understand what he is at. Why believe that God is faithful then? because it is his character...
But if his words cannot be trusted, if he puts "thus says the Lord" to things which he did not actually say and/or mean, well why trust Him when things are difficult...?

Faith is not a blind leap in the dark, it is about trusting a God who can be trusted.

This 2nd point is an argument from experience for the practical effects of inerrancy, and is potentially weakened by that - its not just a case of believing inerrancy because I have to, but I do think what I have described is a practical effect of saying "the Bible is God-breathed but it makes mistakes".
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Hi Lep

Warning : Long Post Alert!!!

Good post of 0928!

There's a lot in there, so maybe I'll tacle it bit by bet, and see how far I get before I have to go out.

The first thing that strikes me is that, in trying to point out why I believe inerrancy to be a mistaken doctrine, I'm aware that it could seem to others that I'm debunking the accuracy and reliability of the scriptures per se. This is not the case, and any such inference is due entirely to my ineptitude in expressing myself. In fact I do believe the scriptures to be inspired, reliable and authoritative when taken as a whole, and with appropriate weight given to progressive revelation. I realise this is a different understanding to yours, but I believe it is still a high view of scripture.

I take the point about the minor Prophets, and this is powerful evidence to the authenticity of the general thrust of the law, that is, you shouldn't opress the poor or go after foreign gods (do you like the "reduced shakespeare" version of the Torah?) . On the other hand, you dont get many passages in the Prophets condemning Israel for failing to exterminate the Canaanites, which could, concieveably imply... but no, we'd better not go there. [Devil]

With regards to the NT, I think that Jesus was actually far more free in his interpretation of OT scriptures than you seem to imply. It's certainly true he endorsed in actuality some figurative prophecy ("Today, in your hearing, this scripture is fulfilled") and it is also true, as you quoted, that he declared that not a jot or tittle should be altered. But then he went on to do precisely that, "You have heard it said...but I say..". Now of course, you will no doubt describe this as looking beneath the words of the Law to what was always there, but not seen. But it is still a radical revision of the Law. If we obey Jesus command not to retaliate, then we are not being bound by an eye for an eye. I realise there are constructions which have been used by christians down the years to square this particular circle, but I think that progressive revelation is as good a way of understanding what is happening as any other schema. Similarly, Paul was no longer bound by Jewish dietary rules, and had some very dismissive view s on the Law, especially in Galatians where the law, as a principle, is most clearly identified with the Law, as in the Torah. To say "whatever was written in former days was for our benefit", is not to imply that everything that was written was 100% correct. In fact, in the context, Paul was trying to moderate an over zealous interpretation of the OT (see Romans 14). The Romans were missing the point by following the letter of the Law. So far from urging complete obedience to this bit of the Law (the dietary regulations) Paul was pressing for tolerance, for putting others first, in place of slavish obedience (all food is clean, but it is wrong to eat anything that causes another to stumble).

You wrote:
quote:
This is obviously open to the riposte that you think the bits of the Bible I have pointed out are errors (!) but there is nothing I can do about that.

, ad so, of course, I wouldn't make that riposte!! [Biased] [Big Grin] [Two face]

quote:
But is the Bible fit for the purpose which we (at least I) claim it is fit for if it is unreliable? Can it introduce us to the true God, and be the introduction point for a relationship of faith (which means taking promises as reliable and trusting them) if it is not in fact trustworthy?
But our faith is not in the Bible, it is in Jesus. An introductory point is just that, it is not a complete representation. We know His promises are true because we find them to be so. I feel sure that, in your own personal experience, important though the Bible clearly is to you, it is a relatively small, if central part of your relationship with God. It is a useful tool, no doubt it helped you to come to faith, and continues to help you grow in faith, but it is God's actions, not his words, that save you, as it does me. I contend that to say the bible is not inerrant is not the same as to say it is untrustworthy, as a whole, but merely that, in certain parts, it expresses sentimets that are not those of the Divine authour (though, of course, they are those of the human author.) As for it "making us wise unto salvation", of course it does, it's what we have, but it insufficient in and of itself. It might tell us all we need to know to be saved, but it is the Holy Spirit who does the saving, not the words of the book, be they ever so inspired.

Oh well, times up. I'll get back to you later, or maybe tomorrow with the rest of my thoughts.

One last thing. I said a little yesterday about my background. On re-reading it, I think the way in which I put it was a little too negative, and this was confirmed to me when you picked up on it in some comments you made. In fact, the church where I became a Christian was a fine church, built of godly men and women who loved the Lord. I was privileged to be a member. Nor was it legalistic, in fact, quite the reverse. The only point I was making was that it seemed many of the doctines were just accepted because they were there, nobody thought to question them. I guess they felt they had more important things to do, like spreading the good news. Just for the record [Biased]
 
Posted by Talitha (# 5085) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Taking a verse out of context, we could conclude that the Bible tells us of people wanting to smash babies heads against rocks - so we should do the same.

But in its context, smashing baby's heads is a cry of anger and pain from Israel in captivity - it doesn't claim to be prescriptive of how we are to behave - it seems instead to be descriptive of how they were feeling. When interpreted by the rest of scripture, we build a picture of a people in rebellion who should turn back to God in repentance rather than smash babies heads against rocks.

Fish Fish, how is that not "sitting over" the text, and elevating your own reason above the plain words? Why is it any different from when other people do that with other passages?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
A less trivial example is the council at Jerusalem, to discuss the Gentile issue. Those guys could have talked around in circles debating the circumcision thing, but suddenly the attention turned not just to biblical precepts, but experience. (Acts 15:12.) And in that instance, by recognising where God was at, they actually tested the scriptures against their experience, which is back to front from what we are normally told. At other times they tested experience against scripture - but at all times they assumed that they were under God's authority.

Can I first of all echo all that Leprachaun has said about the character of God being revealed in his words, and his words being true. I think that is an excellent and convincing argument.

As for the example from Acts - I don't think its as clear cut as you present. The expereinces Paul and Barnabas report are the product of their thier proclamation of the gospel - a gospel based on OT prophecies (God's word) and Jesus' teaching (God's word). Through this gospel, gentiles were being saved (v11). Their experience was confirming the revelation from God and what Jesus taught. But the theology came first. Others were still catching up to revelation from Jesus.

quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
Rather than assuming authority over the text, from what I've read here the non-inerrant approach would seek God's authority over the text, and more importantly their own lives. Yes, motives and preconceoptions will muddy the issue, but I don't think the position is as untenable as you imply.

So far we've been defending the claim for the Bible's innerancy and truth as God's pure revelation. The argument against innerancy has been largely based on "error" texts. I have argued that, if there are solutions to these minority of texts, we should take these solutions seriously.

Perhaps if we are to treat the Bible as more of a human struggle to reach God, or more possitively than that, as an authoritative but errant text - if we are to treat it in this way, are there passages to tell us this is how to treat it? For I agree with Lep when he says that the Bible doesn't point out errors or appologise for mistakes. So, if we are to treat it as errant - are there any texts which tell us to treat it as you suggest?!
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
The analogy earlier on this thread with the US Constitution (with the usual caveats of not taking the analogy too far) seems to me right. No-one would claim the Constitution is infallible or inerrant, yet it gives authority to the US state. There is even a Supreme Court whose function (as I understand it) is to sort out the implications of the Constitution and to ammend it as necessary. So, by your logic, the Supreme Court has authority over the constitution, yet the Supreme Court sees itself as the servant of the Constitution, and draws its authority from the Constitution. So I don't see that there is any necessary contradiction in having a non-inerrant source of authority.

But I really don't think this is a fair ananolgy for the Constitution does not claim to be the revelation of God to man - it doesn't claim the same level of authority. It doesn't claim to be written by perfect people.

The Bible claims to be the self revelation of a perfect God. As Lep has argued, God's nature gives us reason to belive the authority and innerancy of his words in a way that is never claimed for the Constitution.

When we talk about God, and God's word, authority is weakened greatly if we lose his ability to communicate innerantly.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
p.s. Sorry - I keep forgetting to use the correct phrasiology such as IMHO! Sorry if I am edging on arrogancy again! [Biased] [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Talitha:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Taking a verse out of context, we could conclude that the Bible tells us of people wanting to smash babies heads against rocks - so we should do the same.

But in its context, smashing baby's heads is a cry of anger and pain from Israel in captivity - it doesn't claim to be prescriptive of how we are to behave - it seems instead to be descriptive of how they were feeling. When interpreted by the rest of scripture, we build a picture of a people in rebellion who should turn back to God in repentance rather than smash babies heads against rocks.

Fish Fish, how is that not "sitting over" the text, and elevating your own reason above the plain words? Why is it any different from when other people do that with other passages?
Good question! I think because

a) Context is important if we are going to treat the Bible seriously and not simply "proof text" - it respects the text and writters intention.

b) Its not so much me trying to find a clever interpretation, and thus sit over the text - its more an attempt to let the text interpret the text - and so sitting under the whole text.

Not sure if that makes sense! Sorry if not. I'll try again at midnight when I'm clearer?!! [Frown]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
So all non-inerrantists ignore the context and try to use the Bible to make themselves feel smart?
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Just a quicke before the school run!

FF, you wrote
quote:
But I really don't think this is a fair ananolgy for the Constitution does not claim to be the revelation of God to man - it doesn't claim the same level of authority. It doesn't claim to be written by perfect people.

But that is precisely my point. If a text which has no pretentions to inspiration can, notwithstanding any flaws within it, be universally regarded as authoritative within its own sphere, how much more can a text which we all, I think, agree is inspired to a greater or lesser extent. Clearly, its authority will be enhanced compared to such a text, not diminished. Yet no-one in the States, as far as I know, wants to throw out the constitution because it is not perfect.

quote:
Its not so much me trying to find a clever interpretation, and thus sit over the text - its more an attempt to let the text interpret the text - and so sitting under the whole text.

But this is precisely the process which leads many non-inerrantists to question the Joshua texts. If it is wrong for people to smash babies heads against walls in Babylon, it is wrong for them to do it in Canaan, and for the same reason. If we come across a text which indicates that God is asking people to do that, then that text is, IMHO in error, because it is clearly against the teaching of the rest of the Bible, and most especially the teaching of Jesus. Spiritualise it all one likes, those were real people being murdered in a most brutal and horrific way. I don't see how anyone could believe this was commanded by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Fish Fish, how is that not "sitting over" the text, and elevating your own reason above the plain words? Why is it any different from when other people do that with other passages?

Good question! I think because

a) Context is important if we are going to treat the Bible seriously and not simply "proof text" - it respects the text and writters intention.

b) Its not so much me trying to find a clever interpretation, and thus sit over the text - its more an attempt to let the text interpret the text - and so sitting under the whole text.[/QB][/QUOTE]

I see. So when I read the Holy Scriptures and try to understand them with the help of Holy Spirit, I am trying to be clever, and trying to sit over the Bible as its judge.

When you do it, it's different.

Thank you for clarifying that.

FWIW, Fish Fish, adding "IMHO" or "ISTM" to a post that is deeply and inherently disrespectful doesn't make it less disrespectful. I believe you when you say that you aren't intending to insult everyone who disagrees with you, which is why I haven't called you to Hell yet. (That, and the fact that I have other, rather more pressing, matters that require my attention this week.)

Furthermore, what I have seen leads me to believe that you're quite capable of listening to others with respect, and of understanding what they say to you. Given a few more posts like the one I just quoted, though, and I may have to rethink my assessment of your abilities.

Try, just this once, Fish Fish, to hear what I'm saying, not what you've already decided I must mean. I am neither an errantist nor an inerrantist. I believe, as you have said that you believe, that the Bible must be interpreted, in context, to be for us what God intends it to be. I believe, as you have said that you believe, that the Church is part of that context in which it must be interpreted.

But I believe that the final arbiter of correct interpretation is not me, but the Church. Instead of trusting myself to get it right, all by my lonesome, I trust the accumulated wisdom and holiness of the people of all places and times who have loved and served God. I know that I may sin in such a way that I drive God's Holy Spirit away from me, and while I pray that I do not, I trust, with all my heart, that the Holy Spirit has not and will not ever leave the Church. God never said that the gates of Hell would not prevail over me, nor that I am the butress and foundation of the Truth, but he said those things of the Church.

Therefore, I submit myself to the Bible, and not to the Bible as I understand it (because I know that, in my weakness and sin, I can twist the words to mean whatever I want them to mean), but the Bible as it has been revealed to, entrusted to, and interpreted by the Church, which is the very Body of Christ.

I understand how that's different from what you do. What I fail to understand is how my approach implies that I'm just trying to be clever, how it implies that I just want to set myself up as an authority over the Bible.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Right, this constitution thing.

The reason that it is authoritative while not being inerrant is because everyone agrees to abide by it or is forced to abide by it even where they disgaree with it. The problem is that those who do not take an inerrant view on the Bible do not do the same.
If you are saying that you disgaree with the Bible, but you are willing to abide by what it says ( regarding, eg, God's character as revealed in the Joshua story) then this discussion becomes entirely pointless.

But this is manifestly not the approach of come posters here - the approach is, I'm sure this is mistaken so I do not have to accept it. As such, the authority of the Bible is undermined, and so the analogy (like even the best analogies) does not stretch far enough.

Now, JJ, the progressive revelation point. I suppose you surprised me by how much I agree with you. All I am saying is that revelation is progressive in that it reveals MORE of God, but not that it contradicts what God has said before. If it does we are left with the dilemma of a God who asks us to stake our souls on his honesty an trustworthiness, but who also contradicts himself.
I don't think any of the points you make about the law deny inerrancy. It does not require you to say "the law was mistaken or wrong" to take Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount or Paul's in Romans seriously. I think either Jesus or Paul would have been horrified at that thought, indeed Paul spends much of Romans defending the law as a good thing from God. The law, according to Paul testifies to Christ, so yes revelation is progressive, but not self contradictory. Yes things apply differently now, but that does not mean they were wrong before. You are right to say Paul was trying to modify a wrong interpretation of the law, but I think it is too far to go to draw from this that Paul was contradicting the law, or to use the common currency, denying its absolute inspiration and inerrancy. He was merely pointing out what the law was for.

As for this...
quote:
It might tell us all we need to know to be saved, but it is the Holy Spirit who does the saving, not the words of the book, be they ever so inspired.

this is very interesting stuff indeed. It seems to me that God never makes this distinction between "I spoke these words" and "I work through my Spirit". Rather because God's words are "spirited/inspired/breathed" by Him they do indeed do his work. This is not to take away from the Holy Spirit's work at all, because he brings these words to us, and if the word is living, it is because it is brought by the Spirit, but it deos mean that putting our faith in God's words is trusting God.

Anyway, that is slightly off the point. I think what I am saying is that there is no point in saying "I think JJ is truthful, but the things he says aren't true". A truthful person tells the truth. That's what I meant when I said the Bible is only fit for purpose if it is truthful, because God can only be trusted if his words are trustworthy. I can only get to know him if the things he says about himself are true.

Of course I know that you don't doubt this about God, and again I think the issue here is "in what sense are the Bible God's words".

One final thing, and I hope this comes out right.
This
quote:
I don't see how anyone could believe this was commanded by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

is an argument my heart has a great deal of sympathy with . I really can understand the emotional appeal of it, but it does not actually address the can of worms it opens.
Why did God then let his people believe it was Him who said these things for centuries if it was not? Why didn't Jesus (or Paul) say "that part of Joshua that you thought was Scripture is mistaken, it wasn't of God", and in fact use God's acts of judgement in the OT as models of what will happen to those who reject Jesus?
Why does Paul use God's judgement of 23 000 of his own people in the desert as a warning to us if God is not responsible for such acts?
Why is God portrayed in Revelation as bringing destruction on the earth if that is not his nature?
Why is God deliberately misleading us if he is not really like that? And if he is, how can we know that his promise to rescue us if we trust Jesus is real?
Now, that whole issue probably needs a separate thread, I am not asking for definitve answers to all of those questions here, but simply to point out that this argument raises far more questions about God's character than it answers.

Can I just say thanks as well, to everyone who has posted recently, I feel like we aren't going round in endless circles now, but are reaching the intellectual heart of the argument. Cheerz.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
So all non-inerrantists ignore the context and try to use the Bible to make themselves feel smart?

Sorry - this isn't what I meant at all - but I can completely see how that comes accross - so applogies. What I was saying about "clever interpretations" was in no way a dig at anyone but myself. It sometimes looks like "innerantists" have to make some very clever interpretations to get themselves out of tricky situations or genocidal passages. I was trying to deffend myself against that accusation. So total appologies to Papio and Josephine for my mistake. I hope you can see I was not trying to cause offence, or claim it was you doing the clever interpretations. [Hot and Hormonal]


quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
But I believe that the final arbiter of correct interpretation is not me, but the Church. Instead of trusting myself to get it right, all by my lonesome, I trust the accumulated wisdom and holiness of the people of all places and times who have loved and served God. I know that I may sin in such a way that I drive God's Holy Spirit away from me, and while I pray that I do not, I trust, with all my heart, that the Holy Spirit has not and will not ever leave the Church. God never said that the gates of Hell would not prevail over me, nor that I am the butress and foundation of the Truth, but he said those things of the Church.

Therefore, I submit myself to the Bible, and not to the Bible as I understand it (because I know that, in my weakness and sin, I can twist the words to mean whatever I want them to mean), but the Bible as it has been revealed to, entrusted to, and interpreted by the Church, which is the very Body of Christ.

Sorry - the reason I keep slipping between "you" and "the church" as the arbiters of truth is that I see both the individual and the church as flawed and sinful. So when we are talking of innerancy, the opposite is sometimes summarised by me as "You" meaning either "you" or "The Church". But of course, there is a difference between individuals and the church as you rightly point out. So, sorry again for when I use the phrases interchangably.

But I believe the problem is the same. Even though the church is blessed with the HS, and even though there is tons of wisdom in the church, there is also tons of sin, and lots of agenda's which cloud and complicate any discussions. And this is why I believe the church both can and does err and wander from the truth. It seems to me that the only conceivable way to avoid this is to accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God - God speaking to his church in a form we can refer to and study and submit to as wise and God given.

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
I understand how that's different from what you do. What I fail to understand is how my approach implies that I'm just trying to be clever, how it implies that I just want to set myself up as an authority over the Bible.

Sorry - again I was not implying you were trying to be clever. And you clearly don't want to set yourself as authority over the Bible. Many people don't. But what I am arguing for is that the logic that, if we think we (individually or the church) have the right to spot Biblical errors, then logically we (individually or the church) are claiming to be superior or authoritative over the text.

Hope thats understandable. [Confused]

(p.s. By saying "I was not claiming you were trying to be clever" I was not therefore claiming you are thick... [Eek!] )
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But I believe the problem is the same. Even though the church is blessed with the HS, and even though there is tons of wisdom in the church, there is also tons of sin, and lots of agenda's which cloud and complicate any discussions. And this is why I believe the church both can and does err and wander from the truth. It seems to me that the only conceivable way to avoid this is to accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God - God speaking to his church in a form we can refer to and study and submit to as wise and God given.

This doesn't jive with my understanding of what the Bible says about the Church. The Church (not the Bible) is the ground and pillar of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), and our Lord promised that He would establish it so that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Which is, taken at face value, the basic Orthodox take on it.
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
A less trivial example is the council at Jerusalem ... blah blah ... but at all times they assumed that they were under God's authority.

Can I first of all echo all that Leprachaun has said about the character of God being revealed in his words, and his words being true. I think that is an excellent and convincing argument.

As for the example from Acts - I don't think its as clear cut as you present. The expereinces Paul and Barnabas report are the product of their thier proclamation of the gospel - a gospel based on OT prophecies (God's word) and Jesus' teaching (God's word). Through this gospel, gentiles were being saved (v11). Their experience was confirming the revelation from God and what Jesus taught. But the theology came first. Others were still catching up to revelation from Jesus.

The point that I was making was specifically about the covenant requirement for circumcision. It is impossible to equivocally prove from the OT that circumcision was no longer mandatory. Some of the pro-circ lobby could have refused to listen to Paul and Barnabbas's reports that God was indeed blessing the Gentiles on the basis that the Scriptures were pretty darn clear on the issue. Instead they recognised the work of God, and saw His authority coming down separately from scriptural revelation.

My point was not that the circumcision covenant was an OT error, but that the early church had no problem accepting authority based on whether it was a fallible source (Paul and Barnabbas were presumably fallible, subjective experience is also fallible.) I was specifically looking at the issue you raised regarding whether or not we could judge a source of authority, and pointing out that authority comes from all directions, it's not a simple one way flow model.

None of which excludes the possibility of infallible scriptures (please remember that this tends to be my default setting.) I'm just teasing out little sub issues along the way, in what is actually a quite a complex issue.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
But I believe the problem is the same. Even though the church is blessed with the HS, and even though there is tons of wisdom in the church, there is also tons of sin, and lots of agenda's which cloud and complicate any discussions. And this is why I believe the church both can and does err and wander from the truth. It seems to me that the only conceivable way to avoid this is to accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God - God speaking to his church in a form we can refer to and study and submit to as wise and God given.

This doesn't jive with my understanding of what the Bible says about the Church. The Church (not the Bible) is the ground and pillar of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), and our Lord promised that He would establish it so that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Which is, taken at face value, the basic Orthodox take on it.
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth. The solution for Timothy is to follow the Apostle's teaching - "the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." (1:10-11) which we now have as our NT.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
The point that I was making was specifically about the covenant requirement for circumcision. It is impossible to equivocally prove from the OT that circumcision was no longer mandatory. Some of the pro-circ lobby could have refused to listen to Paul and Barnabbas's reports that God was indeed blessing the Gentiles on the basis that the Scriptures were pretty darn clear on the issue. Instead they recognised the work of God, and saw His authority coming down separately from scriptural revelation.

My point was not that the circumcision covenant was an OT error, but that the early church had no problem accepting authority based on whether it was a fallible source (Paul and Barnabbas were presumably fallible, subjective experience is also fallible.) I was specifically looking at the issue you raised regarding whether or not we could judge a source of authority, and pointing out that authority comes from all directions, it's not a simple one way flow model.

None of which excludes the possibility of infallible scriptures (please remember that this tends to be my default setting.) I'm just teasing out little sub issues along the way, in what is actually a quite a complex issue.

I guess my answer to this would be the same as the post above - these are the apostles, comissioned by Jesus, and different from us. Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines. And while the doctrines could not perhaps be worked out from the OT, they were an reasonable conclusion from what Jesus had taught - and the appostles knew what he had taught them and commissioned them to teach.
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth. The solution for Timothy is to follow the Apostle's teaching - "the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." (1:10-11) which we now have as our NT.

Kind of a moot point really, considering Paul spends a considerable amount of time in the first chapter underlining his own fallibility. If the gospel was entrusted to a fallible person, surely it could be entrusted to a fallible Church and contained within errant scriptures?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth. The solution for Timothy is to follow the Apostle's teaching - "the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." (1:10-11) which we now have as our NT.

Kind of a moot point really, considering Paul spends a considerable amount of time in the first chapter underlining his own fallibility. If the gospel was entrusted to a fallible person, surely it could be entrusted to a fallible Church and contained within errant scriptures?
Paul seems confident about his teaching - but his authoritative teaching is confirmed by another apostle, Peter, when he writes (with a very high view of scripture) -"Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:16)
 
Posted by kiwigoldfish (# 5512) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I guess my answer to this would be the same as the post above - these are the apostles, comissioned by Jesus, and different from us. Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines. And while the doctrines could not perhaps be worked out from the OT, they were an reasonable conclusion from what Jesus had taught - and the appostles knew what he had taught them and commissioned them to teach.

Fair enough.

However this debate is destined to go around in circles, because acceptance of any given case for either "non-inerrancy" or "inerrancy" is going to depend an awful lot on our presumptions on either position (apologies to all - including myself - for using the unhelpful terminology, but based on what has been posted we roughly understand what is meant by the terms don't we?)

So your explanations of the "gaps" or issues people see in inerrancy are adequate defence if you begin with the presumption of inerrancy. But they are inadequate if you begin with the presumption of non-inerrancy. And vice versa.

So satisfying me won't be quite enough here. [Razz]

Meanwhile I just hop from camp to camp to enjoy the view and play devil's advocate from time to time. [Angel] [Two face] [Devil]
 
Posted by Godfather Avatar (# 4513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines.

OK, I understand that you believe God guided them to infallibility on these matters. But where does the idea that this guidance was unique come from? What makes you believe that the insights of these men were more special than those of (say) the author of the Gospel of Thomas, or indeed your own?

[ 26. February 2004, 08:48: Message edited by: Godfather Avatar ]
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
Struggling with this...

Quoting from Fish Fish's post above

quote:
these are the apostles, comissioned by Jesus, and different from us.
Different from us in what way? Being commisioned by Jesus? Aren't we all called by Christ? Or were they somehow 'better placed' than us because of their proximity to the incarnate God, whereas we have the Holy Spirit? Don't get me wrong - we owe so much of our faith to the witness of the early church and the apostles in particular, but I don't see why we should regard their relationship with God in Trinity to be any more special than ours.

quote:
Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines.
Again, why were these people 'uniquely guided by God'? Isn't that a straight-jacketing of God? Can't God continue to guide his people in respect of doctrine?

Apologies if all these questions sound simplistically stupid, but I'm really struggling to understand the points being made.
 
Posted by Chesterbelloc (# 3128) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I don't see the church as sitting over the texts, in editorship, deciding which were in and which were out, and chopping the bits they didn't like. Rather, the church recognised the scriptures when they read them - their authority was apparent - their apostolic authoriship was their mark of authenticity - and also their consistency with the rest of scripture. When you compare the Biblical books with those which were rejected, these rejected texts massively contradict / teach different things about God etc.

So, in summary - the church recognised what was given rather than sitting over the text and editting it.

First, let me just say that if the authority of the books in question were so apparent to the Church at the time, it puzzles me that there was any need for the lengthy and complex process of Conciliar discernment that led to the formation of the Canon in the first place.

Remember, the Church had been on the go for hundreds of years before the Canon had been fixed, and for all that time had been living as the Body of Christ. The Church was not waiting to "get the message" about the Scriptures so it could start being the Church properly. The Church, using her discernment in the Spirit and her accumulated wisdom and experience of being the Church, tested the available writings against this background and discerned their authority accordingly. This is far from the subservient approach you, FF, imagine. In order to recognise that authority, the Church needed already to have known Christ's authority through the whole apostolic deposit and the Spirit's careful moulding - all of this before the determination of the Canon! The Church didn't need the Scriptures' authority for her life - Christ and the Spirit founded the Church directly - but the Scriptures needed the Church's seal so that their authority could be recognised.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The Church herself is the continuation of the revelation of God to the world

Agreed. But in order for the church to operate within some God given boundaries, and knowing that people will err and stray unless they have some boundaries, God has given us the scriptures. If you abandon their authority, or water their authority down, then the church can drift into all sorts of heresy - as indeed it did pre-reformation.
This is just to assume that the Scriptures are the supreme and sole authority for the Church. I reject both those claims ( apart from anything else, they are both very late ideas, not significantly pre-dating the Protestant reformation), and refer you to my answer of some moments ago.
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The doctrine of the Trinity as a "summary" of the texts is an idea that I admit to finding utterly bizarre!

Ok then - how did we get the doctrine of the trinity if not by formalising what is written in the scriptures?
By the careful process of discernment in the Spirit, and from her accumulated wisdom and experinece of being Christ's Body, using sacred scripture as one very important resource. I find it impossible to see how it could have been so dogmatically determined by proof texting, as you seem to suggest.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I am NOT saying the church is not invoved in interpreting the scriptures or forming doctrine. I am NOT saying the Spirit is not massively involved. But what I AM saying is that the Spirit has already spoken to us with authority, and so we can test what we think the Spirit may be saying to us today by comparing with what he has said in the past, becasue he does not change.

But you are already assuming that the Spirit has nothing to add to our understanding other that through what has been revealed in the Books! The Spirit does not change in that the Spirit does not contradict Itself, but the Spirit lives and speaks to the Church constantly as the Church needs to hear and learn - it's just not all repetition, you know! If the Spirit had said everything that was required in Scripture, there would be no need for continued discernment once we'd got the "plain" meaning of the Scriptures sorted out. The Spirit is not a voice or a message but a Person of the Godhead. Words alone, no matter how inspired, will not exhaust the message to the Church - the dialogue between God and the Church is a living personal one.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The text is set as what? It's not a bus timetable. So the text is such that, even after all the Councils and centuries of controversies, we can't be sure we've got it right evwen yet? What kind of plain authoritative text is this?

The text isn't changing. Its set.
But the dialogue between the Church and her Lord is not "set". The Scriptures are just one interpretative tool for the discernment of God's life-giving Word.

Again, I repeat: if the Bible is the sort of plainly and supremely authoritative text you claim, why the honest and godly disagreement between His people, or the need for lengthy "interpretative" processes?

CB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
So your explanations of the "gaps" or issues people see in inerrancy are adequate defence if you begin with the presumption of inerrancy. But they are inadequate if you begin with the presumption of non-inerrancy. And vice versa.

Oh, I think you are absolutely right! My defence on the grounds of solutions to tricky passages being available doesn't cerry much weight if you don't beleive innerancy. But its added weight if

1. We acknowledge the vast majority of the text (written by many people over many centuries) is hugely consistant - I think this gives added weight to the argument

2. What Lep said above about no one in the Bible correcting previous bits - saying "oops, God didn't say this" or "the writer was wrong to say that".

3. the nature of God and truth we've been discussing

So its a weak argument on its own. But added to the others, its a lot stronger I feel.
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
We acknowledge the vast majority of the text (written by many people over many centuries) is hugely consistant - I think this gives added weight to the argument

I have to confess, I don't quite understand this. Are you arguing that the broad agreement between the individual books of the Bible is a pointer to its inerrancy?

The reason I'm confused is that the Bible could have contained different texts, which weren't quite so consistant. The books of the Bible were chosen, at least in part, precisely because they were in agreement with each other, and not just with each other, but with the ideas of the compilers of the canon.

Or have I misread you?
 
Posted by dyfrig (# 15) on :
 
Consistency of theme is hardly surprising in a collection of texts about God collected by a God-centred community who believed that it was important to preserve stuff about God. It's like saying a stamp collector consistently applied herself to Philately.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The Spirit does not change in that the Spirit does not contradict Itself, but the Spirit lives and speaks to the Church constantly as the Church needs to hear and learn - it's just not all repetition, you know!

While I'm not sure I agree with this (I don't know about FF, I suspect not) it is not the point if this discussion. The point is the one that you make. That the Spirit does not contradict what he has said before. The discussion we have been having is about whether errors in the Bible show that it does contradict itself (either because He made a mistake, or as most people seem to be saying, because He didn't inspire it effectively). No one is arguing here (I don't think) that He does not give more revelation (either in the NT or now) but simply whether there are errors based de facto on supposed contradictions.

Thus, while all this discussion wbout authority and interpretation is very interesting, I'm not REALLY sure if it helps us deal with the inerrancy issue. Am I being thick? Possibly.

Perhaps someone would like to do a post summing up this thread so far to see if I can follow... [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth.

So Paul lied then when he said the church was the ground and pillar of the truth?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
OK, I understand that you believe God guided them to infallibility on these matters. But where does the idea that this guidance was unique come from? What makes you believe that the insights of these men were more special than those of (say) the author of the Gospel of Thomas, or indeed your own?

quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
Different from us in what way? Being commisioned by Jesus? Aren't we all called by Christ? Or were they somehow 'better placed' than us because of their proximity to the incarnate God, whereas we have the Holy Spirit? Don't get me wrong - we owe so much of our faith to the witness of the early church and the apostles in particular, but I don't see why we should regard their relationship with God in Trinity to be any more special than ours.

The apostles are different from us in being specially commissioned by the risen Jesus as his messengers - it seems they are different from us as disciples - So, they are specially blessed with the HS to accurately remember and record what Jesus said (John 14:26). And they speak authoritatively from God (2 Peter 3:2). So, they teach in a way that we do not.

quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
Again, why were these people 'uniquely guided by God'? Isn't that a straight-jacketing of God? Can't God continue to guide his people in respect of doctrine?

That seems to me what we are being told in the NT. But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.


quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
First, let me just say that if the authority of the books in question were so apparent to the Church at the time, it puzzles me that there was any need for the lengthy and complex process of Conciliar discernment that led to the formation of the Canon in the first place.

Sorry - will have to place my hands up to ignorance about this church history. But, it still seems to me, that what we have in the NT today is the apostles teaching - and waht was rejected was seen to not be their teaching. Sorry to not know more on this!


quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
Again, I repeat: if the Bible is the sort of plainly and supremely authoritative text you claim, why the honest and godly disagreement between His people, or the need for lengthy "interpretative" processes?

CB

Part of the answer must be that "ignorant and unstable people distort [the scriptures] ...to their own destruction." (2Peter 3:16)! [Two face]

And, as Jesus said "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25) - implying the scriptures are clear, but these people were unbeleiving.

The Bible claims to be clear - so even the Simple can be made wise - "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple." (psalm 19:7)

So, if the Bible claims itself to be clear, perhaps the problem is not with the Bible, but with us sinful people who bring our own agendas to it.

(Sorry if this is controversial or anoying or just inadequate - I'm totally knackered!)

[ 26. February 2004, 21:40: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
I have to confess, I don't quite understand this. Are you arguing that the broad agreement between the individual books of the Bible is a pointer to its inerrancy?

Yes. But more than broad agreement - the consistant message of God's love and justice, the prophecies fulfilled, etc...


quote:
Originally posted by dyfrig:
Consistency of theme is hardly surprising in a collection of texts about God collected by a God-centred community who believed that it was important to preserve stuff about God. It's like saying a stamp collector consistently applied herself to Philately.

No - the consistance is much more than that. Wew could gather texts from many religions which talk about God, wut banging them together in the same book would not give us a consistant picture of God at all. So, I would suggest, you are way underestimating the consistancy of message in the Bible.

And since it was written by many people over many centuries, some of whom didn't know what others had written, I find its consitancy totally amazing.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth.

So Paul lied then when he said the church was the ground and pillar of the truth?
No - The fact that there are false teachers aplently teaching un-truth is clear evidence that Paul does not always believe every church is the ground and pillar of the truth. The church is the ground and pillar of the truth when it is basing its teaching on the truth - and Paul explains that is found in the apostles teaching etc...
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
And since it was written by many people over many centuries, some of whom didn't know what others had written, I find its consitancy totally amazing.

But the point is, the books were picked precisely because they were consistant. You might as well argue that it's amazing that all the plays in a Shakespearian anthology were written by Shakespeare.
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What Lep said above about no one in the Bible correcting previous bits - saying "oops, God didn't say this" or "the writer was wrong to say that".

From Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' ,But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ....
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
No - The fact that there are false teachers aplently teaching un-truth is clear evidence that Paul does not always believe every church is the ground and pillar of the truth.

This is your spin. This isn't what Paul said. You don't believe what Paul said. Hypocrite.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
No - The fact that there are false teachers aplently teaching un-truth is clear evidence that Paul does not always believe every church is the ground and pillar of the truth.

This is your spin. This isn't what Paul said. You don't believe what Paul said. Hypocrite.
Oh come on! You are proof texting - the very thing "innerantists" are accused of! Lets read what Paul says about the church in the context of the letter, and even the verses around it. Either he is completely schizophrenic in saying the church is the source of truth in one sentance and prone to error in another - or he was qualifying what he meant. Please lets read everything that he says rather than take it out of context.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
And since it was written by many people over many centuries, some of whom didn't know what others had written, I find its consitancy totally amazing.

But the point is, the books were picked precisely because they were consistant. You might as well argue that it's amazing that all the plays in a Shakespearian anthology were written by Shakespeare.
No - they were picked because of their apostolic authorship.
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What Lep said above about no one in the Bible correcting previous bits - saying "oops, God didn't say this" or "the writer was wrong to say that".

From Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' ,But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ...

At first glance it seems you have a good point. Jesus does seemt o be correcting the OT. However...

Quoting these 2 comands, Jesus does not correct them - he simply applies them more deeply.

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. ...

This OT law was reigning in vengeance - restricting it to an eye for an eye. Jesus again takes the principle of reigning in vengeance, and applies it even more stringently. So he is not correcting it in the sense of "This is totally wrong" - rather (as above) "This is good, apply it more deeply"


quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ....

"Love your neighbour" is an OT quote, whuich again Jesus reinforces. "Hate your enemy" is not an OT quote - its a misquote, perhaps by the pharisees, excusing hatred and vengeance. So Jesus is not correcting the OT, but a misquotation.

Hope that helps.
 
Posted by Stoo (# 254) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
No - they were picked because of their apostolic authorship.

And the Church Fathers who compiled the Bible confirmed the "apostleship" (I'm assuming you're talking both OT and NT authors here) of the authors how, exactly?
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
Again, why were these people 'uniquely guided by God'? Isn't that a straight-jacketing of God? Can't God continue to guide his people in respect of doctrine?

To which Fish Fish replied:
That seems to me what we are being told in the NT. But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.


But as others have said, this assumes that we have nothing more to learn beyond what has already been revealed, that God has nothing more to say to us, even though we are constantly seeking renewal in faith and witness.

Chesterbelloc sums this up eloquently above:
quote:
If the Spirit had said everything that was required in Scripture, there would be no need for continued discernment once we'd got the "plain" meaning of the Scriptures sorted out. The Spirit is not a voice or a message but a Person of the Godhead. Words alone, no matter how inspired, will not exhaust the message to the Church - the dialogue between God and the Church is a living personal one.

P'n'p
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
But as others have said, this assumes that we have nothing more to learn beyond what has already been revealed, that God has nothing more to say to us, even though we are constantly seeking renewal in faith and witness.

Chesterbelloc sums this up eloquently above:
quote:
If the Spirit had said everything that was required in Scripture, there would be no need for continued discernment once we'd got the "plain" meaning of the Scriptures sorted out. The Spirit is not a voice or a message but a Person of the Godhead. Words alone, no matter how inspired, will not exhaust the message to the Church - the dialogue between God and the Church is a living personal one.

P'n'p
No one is arguing that the Spirit can't guide or continue to reveal to us!!!

Read my quote again - But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.

[ 27. February 2004, 08:07: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Either he is completely schizophrenic in saying the church is the source of truth in one sentance and prone to error in another - or he was qualifying what he meant.

Woah there skippy. I've read this comparison with schizophrenia in another essay on innerrancy before and it really bothers me.

It's like HIDEOUSLY offensive to those who have suffered with or who have loved ones who suffer with it (as I do) as it in no-way represents the actual condition. Please, Fish Fish, never use that example again. [Mad]

Right, let's carry on.

AB
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Either he is completely schizophrenic in saying the church is the source of truth in one sentance and prone to error in another - or he was qualifying what he meant.

Woah there skippy. I've read this comparison with schizophrenia in another essay on innerrancy before and it really bothers me.

It's like HIDEOUSLY offensive to those who have suffered with or who have loved ones who suffer with it (as I do) as it in no-way represents the actual condition. Please, Fish Fish, never use that example again. [Mad]

Right, let's carry on.

AB

Sorry - terrible example. I totally retract that. [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Well, what a wide range of issues we are discussing on this thread. We have moved right on to guidance now I see.

Is there ANY chance of ANYONE posting something to do with inerrancy any time soon? [Mad]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
No probs Fish Fish, and thanks.

AB
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by FF:

No one is arguing that the Spirit can't guide or continue to reveal to us!!!

Fish Fish, I did read your quote very carefully:

quote:
But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.

What you seem to me to be saying is that the Spirit cannot reveal to us anything new, that everything that has to be said has already been said, that the boundaries have been fixed.

You are saying that - you, human, fallible, certainly not omnicient, are making that judgement, when God Almighty might (just might) have different ideas.

I don't mean to get hellish with this, but it seems to me that sometimes we are in danger of making the same mistakes that the ultra-religious of the first century made. They had a firm idea of what God had said and meant, and it had been written down. They had a clear notion of what the Messiah would be and would do, within the established boundaries. They held those beliefs firmly and sincerely, and could back them up with proof texts. And yet, for all that, they were missing the point.

God is too big to be put in boxes. We are too small to say 'the boundaries have been set'.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
PnP wrote:
God is too big to be put in boxes. We are too small to say 'the boundaries have been set'.

Ah, now I can see what this has to do with inerrancy. This is a character of God issue again - does God say things and then contradict himself? He says he doesn't. Our whole faith relies on Him not doing that.

That is why the Bible remains a solid guide, not because we are boxing God, but because he can be trusted to stick by what he says. That's just the way he is. As our discussion about application earlier showed, this really does not limit God to not doing things in new ways if he wants to, just not doing them in a way that is inconsistent with his trustworthy character. Which he wouldn't anyway.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
This is a character of God issue again - does God say things and then contradict himself? He says he doesn't. Our whole faith relies on Him not doing that.

But this is based on a very specific (and 'modern') take on truth, vis that it is only expressed through facts. God could remain consistent in expressing truth through a message that might be factually untrue or factually changing. This need not be an 'error' but simply a different way of communicating truth.

Say I'm describing a person to you, Lep. If you are very tall, I might describe the person as very short. If you were very short, I might describe the person as very tall. Both true, both false, yet both describing the same thing.

AB
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
Lep says:

quote:
Ah, now I can see what this has to do with inerrancy. This is a character of God issue again - does God say things and then contradict himself? He says he doesn't. Our whole faith relies on Him not doing that.

That is why the Bible remains a solid guide, not because we are boxing God, but because he can be trusted to stick by what he says.....

Glad you feel we're back on track. In response to this comment, I'd add two things.

Firstly, about God and contradiction. I would argue that because our relationship with God is a moving one, then God saying something which to our (imperfect) understanding appears contradictory is not necessarily so. Thus, for example, I argue that God approves of gay relationships founded in love. On the one hand, this may be contradicting God's dictate (given through Moses or Paul), on the other it is wholly consistent with the pattern (nay commandment) given by Jesus of approving of love wherever and whenever it is found. I underline that our understanding is imperfect but so too then is our ability to say that there is or is not contradiction.

Secondly, God can be trusted to stick by what he says, of course, but can he be trusted - no that expression is wrong - can we bind him to stick to what others said on his behalf. Can you bind him to stick to the wisdom you have received? I can't.

Neither can I bind God to the wisdom received by those who first spoke, wrote, selected, translated and for that matter, preached the Gospel of Christ. That's not to dismiss any of it; on the contrary, as we all agree, without the Bible our faith would be something different entirely. But I cannot raise the Bible to the same level of authority as God in the Trinity, so I must allow for the Spirit to guide and communicate if we have previously misunderstood something (eg on the right to call women to the priesthood).

(And I use the issue of gay relationships and ordination of women only as illustrations; I don't want to go further on those themes which are Dead Horses elsewhere).
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:

Firstly, about God and contradiction. I would argue that because our relationship with God is a moving one, then God saying something which to our (imperfect) understanding appears contradictory is not necessarily so. Thus, for example, I argue that God approves of gay relationships founded in love. On the one hand, this may be contradicting God's dictate (given through Moses or Paul), on the other it is wholly consistent with the pattern (nay commandment) given by Jesus of approving of love wherever and whenever it is found. I underline that our understanding is imperfect but so too then is our ability to say that there is or is not contradiction.

I'm nervous about commenting on the example you use for the dead horse reason. So I'll steer clear. But as, you rightly say, our ability to spot contradiction is so skewed, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to build a whole theology on the assumption that there are contradictions and that we can spot them, as "errancy" does. It assumes a level of intelligence and theological clarity on our part that the Bible writers did not have.

quote:

Secondly, God can be trusted to stick by what he says, of course, but can he be trusted - no that expression is wrong - can we bind him to stick to what others said on his behalf. Can you bind him to stick to the wisdom you have received? I can't.


As I have said before, and as you point out, the real issue is inspiration - if you don't believe in verbal inspiration there's no reason to accept inerrancy. I do believe God "inspired" the Bible writers in ways he does not do to me.

As for the old "the Bible isn't God" thing - yeah I see what you mean, but again as I've said before, to separate a person's words from them ie "I trust the person, but not the things they say" is nonsense. That's not meant to be patronising of your position at all, again it highlights that the difference is to do with the way in which we believe the Bible to be God breathed.
I am somewhat confused about your hermeneutic though. You seem to pass all parts of the Bible through a sift of Jesus' words - if they contradict his words they must be wrong. What gives you such faith that the writers of the Gospels were able to authoritatively and accurately record his words, but the writers of the OT and Paul might have been mistaken in passing on God's words? How do you decide which is an "errant" and which is an "inerrant" part? Not being obtuse, genuinely interested.

AB. Old chum.
We've been through this truth thing before haven't we? I do believe God can pass on truth in other ways, apart from factual truth. I do not believe he can or does pass on truth through factual error. This, to me, would be a dissemblance of the worst kind if that was his explanation of how his words can be true, while actually being false. Maybe I am a modernist in that. I think God is too then. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Sorry, I've been away from the discussion for a bit, work and all that, you know [Roll Eyes] . Things have moved on a bit, and I've been somewhat remiss in answering some of the points with which I had earlier committed myself to deal. I don't want to take us back too much, but I do want to answer one point from Lep.

You wrote this
quote:
Truth leads us to relationship, rather than blocking us from it. In fact, I can only really get to know you, if you are telling me the truth about yourself.

I agree with the basic slant of this, as far as it goes. Of course, in denying inerrancy, I am not denying the truth of the Bible, no, really, I'm not, I'm just saying that in some places, some authors got it wrong. The question that this seems to posit for you is, why has an omnipotent God allowed such errors to go uncorrected. It was this impled question that I was seeking to address. If I could just deconstruct your scenario for a moment. You are right in saying that all constructive relationships rely on truth. Certainly, there is no future in a relationship based on a lie. However, the basis of our relationship with God is in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The bible is (or may be, for some, even most,) important, but it is not the basis, per se, of our relationship. Just bear with me, whilst I develop this. In a human relationship, whilst truth must always be present, it is not necessary, or even desireable, that it be totally revealed, at every stage in that relationship. A child will know that her mother loves her from birth, but won't understand, or even know that she is, say, a doctor, until much later on. Is she diminished by being unknowing of this truth? Not at all.

Or consider when that child grows up, and starts to become interested in finding a life partner. Is not the mystery, the quest to know more about a potential mate, a vital part in the growth of that relationship. She may well ask friends of her putative husband for background. Some may say one thing, some another, some may be positive, some negative, some accurate, some inaccurate. But it is when she meets him, gets to know him, that she knows the truth.

This is analogous to progressive revelation IMV. Of course, you may respond, you are not talking about additional information, but the replacement of faulty information with a different truth. So let us carry on further, with a scientific analogy, if I can.

Newton devised his laws of motion in the 17 century. For two hundred or so years, scientists were convinced that they described the way the world worked. Then came quantum mechanics. We now know that Newtons laws, whilst still having empirical validity on a macro scale, are an inadeqate way of describing physics. The point I am making is that Newton's laws were as good as it was possible to get in the 17C. He was a pretty bright guy, but had he been 10 times more clever, he could not have communicated quantum physics to his contemporaries. Why? Because they had not been prepared. Newton himself, in a very convenient quote, assigned his farsightedness to the acheivements of others, in his "on giants shoulders." Does this mean that Einstein was cleverer than Newton, or that we're superior to those Restoration types. No, it means that we are making use of the accumulated wisdom of those last 300 years.

Is it so different in the spiritual realm. Joshua could only understand what life had prepared him to understand. His experience limited what he could hear from God. Within his own experience, of near-eastern Bronze age tribal war-gods, he was being faithful in what he recorded, I guess. But the idea of a God who was absolute love, of someone like Jesus, would have been waaaay beyond his ability to imagine, let alone express.

I once read an article which summed up this situation very well, I think. The author compared God's revelation to us (meaning his ongoing revelation, through the Spirit, rather than the Bible) as being like the output of all the world's radio stations. They transmit regardless of whether anyone out there is listening or not (I'm not implying this is not personal communication; it is only an analogy). As he so eruditely put it, God is always "Godding". At various times, we switch on our radio. Sometimes it comes in loud and clear. Sometimes it breaks up, and we get only a partial reception. Sometimes, we have to upgrade our radio (intensify our prayer life?) to receive the fainter transmissions. We may even misunderstand completely the nature of a particular programme, but there's always another along to correct us in a moment. So maybe Joshua had a crystal set, and Jesus taught us how to tune in our DAB receivers. In all cases, it is relationship that is key. Without relationship, the bible really is not fit for purpose. It is because that relationship is possible, that it can make us "wise unto salvation".
 
Posted by Ponty'n'pop (# 5198) on :
 
Replying to Leprachaun again

quote:
But as, you rightly say, our ability to spot contradiction is so skewed, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to build a whole theology on the assumption that there are contradictions and that we can spot them, as "errancy" does. It assumes a level of intelligence and theological clarity on our part that the Bible writers did not have.
a) I'm not building a whole theology on an assumption that there are contradictions; my theology (if it's mine) is built around the belief that God makes scripture relevant for today and in that, the relationship between God, scripture and the Church is forever changing (even if God doesn't change...)
b) Similarly, I don't think it assumes either intelligence or theological clarity (you mean more advanced?) that Biblical writers did not have. It assumes that they are different, framed by context, and personally, I think it is daft to argue otherwise.

You then ask

quote:
You seem to pass all parts of the Bible through a sift of Jesus' words - if they contradict his words they must be wrong. What gives you such faith that the writers of the Gospels were able to authoritatively and accurately record his words, but the writers of the OT and Paul might have been mistaken in passing on God's words?
Oh, there's nothing in particular which gives the Gospel writers greater authority. I suppose it's a fairly undeveloped part of my hermeneutic (learn a new word every day...) but if called to account for why I personally give more weight to the words that Jesus said (or should that be 'reported to have said'? [Smile] ) then it can be nothing other than my own personal, private experience of God, which, thus far at least has been primarily supported by Christ's teaching of love and acceptance rather than, er.., some of the less tolerant examples of behaviour which the Bible provides and in parts even advocates.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Sorry to double post, couple of other things:

This isn't intended to be a cheap shot, believe me, but
quote:
But as, you rightly say, our ability to spot contradiction is so skewed, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to build a whole theology on the assumption that there are contradictions and that we can spot them, as "errancy" does.
seems to me to put the cart before the horse. I would have thought that the default theology of the Christian church is not inerrancy, but the Orthodox Position (TM). It is rather that inerrantist position seeks to build a theology based on inerrancy. As evidence for this, I suggest that it is unture that non-inerrancy (rather than errancy, which I accept as shorthand, but does rather give the impression that it is the possible errors, rather than the possibility of errors, which become important ) requires:-

a)Errors, which it does not. It merely acknowledges that such errors are possible, and gives a way of handling them. Non inerrancy does not fall to pieces should the Bible prove to be completely error free. The reverse, however, is not true.

b) The ability to spot them. I think it is a bit of a caricature to imagine all us non-inerrantists going through the bible with a fine tooth comb looking for errors with which to confront our inerrantist co-religionists. I think it is quite clear from the content of this thread, which has been mercifully short of references to pi or pictures of Jesus astride a pair of young equines, that non-inerrantists are seeking to understand how inconsistances can be dealt with when they do arise (not saying, of course, that inerrantists are not trying to do the same). For me, I don't welcome such inconsistances, but they don't trouble me, because I have a means of dealing with them that I find less convoluted and semantic than those commonly employed by some inerrantists.

quote:
It assumes a level of intelligence and theological clarity on our part that the Bible writers did not have.
I have tried to address this in my, unfortunately rambling and lengthy, previous post.

quote:
I do not believe he can or does pass on truth through factual error. This, to me, would be a dissemblance of the worst kind if that was his explanation of how his words can be true, while actually being false.
That brings us back to the question of to what extent the Bible is God's word, and to what extent it is the words of the human author. There is also the question of genre, and how we understand it. For example, is a historical book, (say, Ruth) historical in the modern sense of the word, or is it a book trying to show how
1) David's family had a history of dealing with God
2) Faithfulness is good
3) God accepts Gentiles who have a heart for him,
etc etc.

Not saying that Ruth is unhistorical, just pointing out that God's agenda, the author's agend, and our agenda may not necessarily coincide, and thus I feel that your above statement is a bit sweeping. I can think of plenty of ways in which something which is factually incorrect, or something which is factually correct but incorrectly reported, could be used by God to express truth.

Which brings us on to a question to which I would like someone on the inerrantist side to respond, viz, what do you understand by verbal inspiration. Does it imply the human author choosing every original word according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Does it mean the author is conscious that he is writing an inspired text. I have never believed either of these to be so, and had always assumed that, apart from a few die-hard literalists, my view was shared by most christians. I thought they wrote what they wrote, and that over time the community (Church Fathers or OT eldership) discerned that, yes, this person wrote what they wrote beccause God had touched them in the writing.

Is this what you guys out there think? If it isn't, then is this the root of the inerrancy/non-inerrancy debate?
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Oh, one further point. Lep, you wrote:
quote:
What gives you such faith that the writers of the Gospels were able to authoritatively and accurately record his words, but the writers of the OT and Paul might have been mistaken in passing on God's words?

Guess it's because I have a relationship with Jesus, but I don't have one with Paul or Samuel [Two face]
 
Posted by Divine Outlaw-Dwarf (# 2252) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
That brings us back to the question of to what extent the Bible is God's word, and to what extent it is the words of the human author.

I think this is a false dichotomy. If, as Christians, we believe that Jesus was truly God and truly human, then there is at least one case in which the words of (a) human being are also God's words. Yet, even, in the case of Jesus those words were mediated by the imprecisions of human langauge, socially and historically conditioned - dare I say, factually inaccurate and imperfect, in somce instances. Far from being failings, these point to the necessarily analogical relationship between divinity and humanity, and the social and historical mediation of God in history. Could this understanding of the Incarnate Word help our view of the Scriptural Word?
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
I can think of plenty of ways in which something which is factually incorrect, or something which is factually correct but incorrectly reported, could be used by God to express truth.

And, indeed, the Bible contains many examples of exactly this sort or "errant" accounts nevertheless expressing truth - presumably in the manner God intends.

For example, Jesus (and several others) routinely used parables. The truth of a parable isn't dependant on whether a man travelling to Jericho was set upon by thieves and cared for by a Samaritan (as a random example).

Likewise, if the intent of a historical passage is to teach something other than history then the truth conveyed by that passage is true irrespective of how accurately it describes the historical events.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Thanks D O-D.

I agree absolutely with what you say, but I was really fishing to see what inerrantists felt about the precise words used by biblical writers (not so much Jesus, as those who recorded him, John, Paul, Peter and the writers of the Old Testament. Do they feel their words were, in some way, "dictated" by the Spirit, and do they believe that they were aware of that process at the time of writing.

quote:
Far from being failings, these point to the necessarily analogical relationship between divinity and humanity, and the social and historical mediation of God in history. Could this understanding of the Incarnate Word help our view of the Scriptural Word?
That's my view also, but I could never have phrased it so eloquently [Overused]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
From Fish Fish

So total appologies to Papio and Josephine for my mistake.

I cannot speak for Josephine, but it's fine so far as I am concerned. [Smile] I sometimes phrase things badly as well. [Eek!]
 
Posted by josephine (# 3899) on :
 
Likewise for me.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Kudos to Jolly Jape for a pair of posts which, while long, are well worth reading. [Overused] I don't agree with 100% of what you say, but I am working from a methodology (if that's not too highfalutin' a word) that is very similar to your way of approaching the whole question.

Somebody said something about semantics -- I wonder if really we don't have a key here to understanding part of the problem. When we find an obvious contradiction or inaccuracy in scripture -- pi being rounded off to 3, or the same group of people being counted in two different places and coming up with different numbers, to give a couple of quick-and-dirty examples, one group will say "this is an error but that doesn't bug us" and work with it in their way. The other group, having an abhorration to the word "error", will use some other word, but "work around" the innacuracy/contradiction in much the same way.

I wonder if it would be useful to set aside the word "error" and its derivatives (including the ever-so-unfortunate "inerrancy") and look instead on the ways we use to work around apparent contradictions/inaccuracies in the text(s).

Just a thought.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
Thanks echoed to JJ for his thoughtful, interesting and erudite posts.

This is all really helpful for understanding other people's positions, but I hasn't shifted my conviction I am afraid. Let me just to reply to a number of points in turn:

1) The stuff in your "first post" about the different ways revelation progressed. I can see your point. But again I can find no internal evidence in the Bible that later Bible writers or Jesus himself meant us to treat the earlier Bible writers as having a "badly tuned" radio to God's voice. Just the opposite in fact, as in terms of weight, the NT writers certainly seem to be constantly encourage a reference to the earlier Scriptures as a reliable contact point and measure of the truth. If there was any hint that the earlier Scriptures were to be regarded as unreliable (rather than just incomplete) then I could begin to have some sympathy with your point of view.
To me JJ it seems that your approach is posited on the conclusion you draw that the God of the OT particlularly in passages like the Joshua one (or presumably Sodom and Gomorrah, or the descriptions of God's punishment in the minor prophets etc) are incompatible with the later revelation of Jesus. As I said in one of my previous posts I have grave struggles with this too. But I can find no evidence that any of the Bible writers themsleves came to this conclusion. Not even a hint. (I've said in previous posts why I'm not convinced about the Matthew 5 examples, which seem to be the main point of reference in this regard) To me, then, trusting as I do that the Bible writers were in some way "inspired" in a way that I am not (more on that later) , I find it best to submit my concluding to their approach, which never casts doubts on the reality of the events in the OT as far as I can see.
This is why I don't agree with MT - I think there is a qualitative difference between the 2 approaches.
Could I also point out (again not meant to be a cheap shot) that the "errancy" (bad word I know) approach could be, on your reasoning just as much a product of our culture as Joshua's approach was to listening to God. So we, western libertarians that we are find the "cheapness of life" expressed in some passages unacceptable so we seek a way round it. Considering that this is our cultural conditioning, I find that "we find it illogical" argument unconvincing.
The question then, comes down to whether Jesus really does give us cause to doubt the veracity of other Scriptures, and as I have said I am yet to be convinced that he does. Until someone shows me that he does, then I will remain convinced that supposed contradictions are fault with me than with the text.

2) DOD's post - again I see what you mean, but I can see again no internal evidence that we are to regard Jesus representation of God to us as faulted or stained by his humanity, rather he was God revealing himself to us in a human for so we could understand. Aside from the hermeneutical problem your view leaves us with (which things were human and which were from God) I would have thought the NT writers would give us some indication of this. To be honest your post was a bit over my head (bear of little brain) so I may be oversimplifiying.

3) The factual incorrect expressing truth thing. Hmmm, the parable thing is a good example. What God could possibly want to have been expressing about himself by fabricating the stories in Joshua remains slightly beyond me! [Razz]
No really, I do see your point, but I don't see that a God who expects us to bank on his honesty would put his name to words that describe events as real which did not happen. I don't find the "internal witness" argument convincing either, because it seems to me that the Bible is constantly warning us about the deceitfulness of our hearts, and their inability to tell us the truth contrasted to the reliability of God's words to reveal the truth, to cut through our sinful self deception.

3) Which brings us on to JJ's question about inspiration.
quote:
Which brings us on to a question to which I would like someone on the inerrantist side to respond, viz, what do you understand by verbal inspiration. Does it imply the human author choosing every original word according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Does it mean the author is conscious that he is writing an inspired text. I have never believed either of these to be so, and had always assumed that, apart from a few die-hard literalists, my view was shared by most christians. I thought they wrote what they wrote, and that over time the community (Church Fathers or OT eldership) discerned that, yes, this person wrote what they wrote beccause God had touched them in the writing.

Hmm, I think neither of these views (surprisingly). It seems to me that the Bible gives us very little clue of the mechanics of how God inspired it. Occasioanlly we get an insight (Daniels' dreams and John in Revelation, Peter's description of prephecy in 2 Peter) but the true answer to this is the cop-out I don't know. What I think it does say is that
- the words can be relied on as God's words or promises
- practically speaking, the words are to be treated this way, with God's authority and importantly for this debate as an expression of God's character
I certainly take a stronger view than the one you express of it being recognised that God had touched the writers, rather the church recognised God's authoratative voice through the Scriptures. I don't buy the Orthodox position that the church then has authority over the Scriptures (hope I've got that right, orthodox correct me if wrong please!), because it seems to me the church recognised the inspiration of some texts because they acknowledged their own obedience to them was required. One way I heard it explained that I found helpful was that the church was like a child turning round and recognising its mother when it got to an age of self awareness. certainly it seems to me that the model the Bible itself give us is that God's words formed the church, rather than the other way round.

That last bit is a short answer to a very big question, so I'm sure more will be required. But JJ I do think that this is the basic point of contention as to why inerrancy makes sense to some and not others - it boils down to what inspiration is...

Thanks all for getting this far in this mammoth post!
L.
 
Posted by Divine Outlaw-Dwarf (# 2252) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:


2) DOD's post - again I see what you mean, but I can see again no internal evidence that we are to regard Jesus representation of God to us as faulted or stained by his humanity, rather he was God revealing himself to us in a human for so we could understand. Aside from the hermeneutical problem your view leaves us with (which things were human and which were from God) I would have thought the NT writers would give us some indication of this. To be honest your post was a bit over my head (bear of little brain) so I may be oversimplifiying.


Not faulted or stained no! But mediated. The only way God, or anyone else, can talk to us is to use an accepted system of signs, shared understandings and conventional meanings. The only way God as a, human being, can talk to us is as a human being with social/ historical conditioning and common assumptions of his time. We need to escape from the (gnostic) idea of pure revelation, unsullied by history and society, whether in our approach to Christ or to the Bible. What is of God/ what is of humanity is a false dichotomy, certainly with regard to Christ, but 'what is of enduring value/ what are we to derive from this' is a fair question. I would say it is answered by shared reading within the community of faith, in the context of Tradition, praying for the guidance of the Spirit. As we mull over the scriptures within the Church we develop convictions about what is important. And yes, we disagree - but, in a sense, that is a sign that the tradition is still alive.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Divine Outlaw-Dwarf:

The only way God as a, human being, can talk to us is as a human being with social/ historical conditioning and common assumptions of his time.

I don't think I disagree with this as a general principle. The discussion is about error - so if you are saying that because communicated through a particular place and time, that means some of the record was mistaken , then I disagree.
If you are saying that God left the common assumptions of the time in the text, unchallenged as part of the revelation, then again I disagree, because what would that be apart from a taint of our humanity? And actually God seemed pretty determined to challenge the popular assumptions about himself, and that includes Jesus too!
But as far as understanding the text, and understanding the context in which it was spoken, and appreciating the views of church history on it, you will find those who hold to inerrancy amongst the most committed to these things.
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
Lep,

#1 And what was Jesus if not 'tainted' by our humanity? Why can't scriptures be so natured? Can they be considered, like Jesus (and thus in character with God's revelation) 100% man and 100% from God?

#2 Sorry to keep harping on about truth - but your stumbling block is that it's not in God's character to be 'untrue' thus there can be no errors. Yet this is entirely based on a system that says that truth cannot be expressed through flawed, imperfect means. Thus if the Bible is "the very perfect word of God" then any erring fact is seen to be in contradiction to his nature, and thus cannot be in error because it is "the very perfect word of God". If however, it is God's truth expressed through potentially flawed human means, then any erring fact is not in contradiction to God's character, since the error is ours, not God's - yet God's truth lives on in spite.

So, the character of God argument cannot successfully be used outside of it's prior assumptions, vis about inspiration.

So it comes down to how we have made our decision of inspiration, and whether we are willing to examine that assumption.

AB
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Lep,

#1 And what was Jesus if not 'tainted' by our humanity? Why can't scriptures be so natured? Can they be considered, like Jesus (and thus in character with God's revelation) 100% man and 100% from God?

This was my point I think. Jesus was 100% man and yet an accurate perfect revelation of God. This is exactly what I am claiming for the Scriptures. The argument that an analogy with Christ allows for error in the Scriptures assumes that Christ was not able to represent God's perfection to us. It was that with which I was disagreeing.
quote:

#2 Sorry to keep harping on about truth - but your stumbling block is that it's not in God's character to be 'untrue' thus there can be no errors. Yet this is entirely based on a system that says that truth cannot be expressed through flawed, imperfect means.

No, that truth cannot be properly expressed through something that makes a claim to be historically true, but is in fact not. (well some truth may be expressed through this, but it would be wrong to say that it is de facto true) And that, if there was any reason why we should view God's earlier revelation of himself in the Bible as flawed he would have
a) told us this and
b) not harped on at length about how disobedient his people had been to his earlier revelation of himself.

quote:

So it comes down to how we have made our decision of inspiration, and whether we are willing to examine that assumption.


Agreed. [Smile]
 
Posted by AB (# 4060) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
The argument that an analogy with Christ allows for error in the Scriptures assumes that Christ was not able to represent God's perfection to us. It was that with which I was disagreeing.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, not my point. My point was that humanity is flawed, just by taking on our skin, by walking our world, he was taking on all of our crappiness - yet through all of that showed God's nature. God gave up part of his 'perfection' to share with us our humanity - why not also with the Bible too? If the Bible contains errors, it only reflects badly on God if he was responsible for them - and that is an assumption that I don't make.

quote:
No, that truth cannot be properly expressed through something that makes a claim to be historically true, but is in fact not. (well some truth may be expressed through this, but it would be wrong to say that it is de facto true) And that, if there was any reason why we should view God's earlier revelation of himself in the Bible as flawed he would have
a) told us this and
b) not harped on at length about how disobedient his people had been to his earlier revelation of himself.

Oh come on Lep - of course truth can be expressed through flawed reports, if you free yourself from the requirements that it has to be only expressed through facts. Is the message of Jonah deminished if you don't take it that he was literally in the belly of a fish? Is the message of Genesis deminished if you don't believe there actually was a talking snake? Is the message of Joshua deminshed if you don't believe God commanded a bloody genocide?

Why would Jesus have to point out the historical problems with the OT to his contemporaries who had no call to disbelieve anything there at the time? It's in no way proof that there isn't errors in the OT, all it is proof of is that there was no recorded explanation of such to 1st century jews. And also, if truth need not be damaged by errors in the text, why point it out?

Of course God has a pop at his disobedient people, but that is in no way based on anything with or without errors. They had a nailed down covenant that they repeatedly broke - again I'm baffled as to how you think it's relevant to inerrancy? Why should an historical bias in the recording of the events of the jews mean that the Law was invalid?

AB
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, not my point.

Right. Well I think it was DOD's point to which, you will find, I was originally responding.
quote:

My point was that humanity is flawed, just by taking on our skin, by walking our world, he was taking on all of our crappiness - yet through all of that showed God's nature. God gave up part of his 'perfection' to share with us our humanity - why not also with the Bible too?

Ab, again I say I don't disagree with this. Of course God expressing himself in a way which we understand is always going to have to accomodate himself to our small minds and finite brains. But I actually think this backs up my position more than yours. If God was able to do this in Christ while still accurately representing himself, then why not in the Bible? Just because God was accomodating himself to us does not necessarily or even by extrapolation imply errors in this revelation.
quote:

If the Bible contains errors, it only reflects badly on God if he was responsible for them - and that is an assumption that I don't make.

As you rightly said in your last post this is an issue of understanding inspiration, which we have been circling around for a while. I would say I'm not sure that God gives us any indication in the other texts that these were not his words, and that he is not responsible for revealing them (quite the opposite in fact) so that will remain my default position unless I can find indications in the text to the contrary.
quote:

Oh come on Lep - of course truth can be expressed through flawed reports, if you free yourself from the requirements that it has to be only expressed through facts. Is the message of Jonah deminished if you don't take it that he was literally in the belly of a fish?

Er...yes. Sort of undermines Jesus' parallel with the resurrection as a real event doesn't it?
quote:

Is the message of Genesis deminished if you don't believe there actually was a talking snake?
Is the message of Joshua deminshed if you don't believe God commanded a bloody genocide?

Ah, I see what you are getting at now. I think the issue with Genesis and Joshua are probably issues of genre - does it purport to be an historical fact? I'm not sure Genesis does completely, and there is certainly symbolism mixed in with the reality. The Bible itself also gives us reason to believe that the snake is symbolic of the Devil as he is pictured as a snake elsewhere.

With Joshua we have a record of God speaking into the life of his historical people, an event which he later reminds them of as real example of his faithfulness. To say that that factual instance of God speaking is an error of historical record is entirely different from saying that some of Genesis is symbolic.


quote:

Why would Jesus have to point out the historical problems with the OT to his contemporaries who had no call to disbelieve anything there at the time?

Because according to your own earlier argument Jesus was revealing a God entirely different in character to the God of Joshua that these people believed in. That seems to be your starting point for assuming mistakes in Joshua. If Jesus was assuming these real mistakes which were so at odds with the real God, and he was doing his best to reveal God to us I would certainly have expected him to point out human errors in earlier revelation, rather than backing them up (as he does in the Jonah example), and it seems, treating the whole thing as authoritative and faultless in Matthew 5.

quote:

Of course God has a pop at his disobedient people, but that is in no way based on anything with or without errors. They had a nailed down covenant that they repeatedly broke - again I'm baffled as to how you think it's relevant to inerrancy?

My assumption, and again, it may not be one you share, I don't know, is that if God was holding the people so firmly to obedience to the law and the prophets he would have been kind and just enough to point out to them the bits that were not from him so they wouldn't be castigated for disobeying and disbelieving those parts. Those events and laws which you seem to be so quick to write off as mistaken or irrelevant, it seems to me the minor prophets would have been appalled at that approach as would Jesus himself.

I don't really like "what if" arguments - Like "what if the Bible has errors, wwouldn't it also say this" but as I said in an earlier post I think assuming errors in God's revelation because there are things we can't process about God's character actually raises far more problems about God's consistency and reliability than it solves.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Lep, you wrote:
quote:
If God was able to do this in Christ while still accurately representing himself, then why not in the Bible? Just because God was accomodating himself to us does not necessarily or even by extrapolation imply errors in this revelation.

No one has suggested that it did. I think that there is a difference of approach here. ISTM that you are arguing from a philosophical position that deduces infallibility to be true, because the alternative is not acceptable to you . You believe that it attacks the basis of the faith, the trustworthiness of God, etc.

I, on the other hand, and I guess AB and others, come to this from a completely different direction. We examine the text, and find things in it that, if present in any other text, would be regarded as errors, mistakes, inconsistancies, whatever. We conclude from this that it is possible that the scriptures could contain errors.

We see no reason why the errors in source material should detract from God's character. In fact, the errors that the Bible may (or may not) contain are in no way necessary to this approach, they merely catalyse the process. If I can say this clearly, I would probably still reject inerrancy even if I was convinced that the Bible, in fact, had no errors in it. I would do so because I find no evidence from the Scriptures that Jesus, or any of the writers of the scriptures, regarded their work as inerrant, in the way that we commonly use the word.

That Jesus quoted the bible does not mean that he necessarily had a view of it that we would recognise as inerrant. He was much more concerned, ISTM with the inner meaning than the historical truth. We believe in the resurrection because He is risen, not because Jonah (to use an example which, I guess we would both think of as being an OT parable, rather than history) was spewed out of a great fish after three days, even if Jesus himself used the example to get the point across. That he did so tells us very little about what he thought of the passage, except that he knew it would be familiar to his listeners.
 
Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
Joshua's going to rear his head again isn't he?

The problem I have with putting my inability to accept the genocides as God-ordained as mere cultural conditioning, is that as far as I can see, this means that:

(a) Genocide isn't really wrong - it's just our modern liberal society that thinks it is.

Therefore:

(b) Pol Pot's and Al Qaeada's actions are not inherently evil, and it's only we Western liberals who (wrongly) have a problem with it.

This is a point I cannot get to. I cannot find a way of seeing genocide as anything other than inherently evil - ergo, God would not command it.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Lep, you wrote:
quote:
If God was able to do this in Christ while still accurately representing himself, then why not in the Bible? Just because God was accomodating himself to us does not necessarily or even by extrapolation imply errors in this revelation.

No one has suggested that it did.

I think AB did actually
quote:

"What was Jesus if not tainted by our humanity"

Maybe I misunderstood.
quote:

I think that there is a difference of approach here. ISTM that you are arguing from a philosophical position that deduces infallibility to be true, because the alternative is not acceptable to you . You believe that it attacks the basis of the faith, the trustworthiness of God, etc.

We see no reason why the errors in source material should detract from God's character.

I agree with this. My point is that the Bible necessarily requires a different approach than other texts because it claims to be the revelation of true honest and trustworthy God. If you don't accept that, that is your call,but I don't think anyone is disputing that. As I have said many times, what and how people reveal things about themselves shows something about them. If God does this inaccurately, and even moreso does not correct previous errors that were brought into the text by human intervention, then what does that say about Him?

quote:

That he did so tells us very little about what he thought of the passage, except that he knew it would be familiar to his listeners.

I'm afraid on this particular text, I entirely disagree. Jesus, if quoting in this way something he knew to be untrue is both
1) allowing us to think the resurrection might not be true
2) is lying when he says that the men of Nineveh will condemn "this generation" because they didn't in reality repent at Jonah's preaching.

His point relies on the story having actually happened.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
I'm afraid on this particular text, I entirely disagree. Jesus, if quoting in this way something he knew to be untrue is both
1) allowing us to think the resurrection might not be true
2) is lying when he says that the men of Nineveh will condemn "this generation" because they didn't in reality repent at Jonah's preaching.

His point relies on the story having actually happened.

I don't think the last sentence follows at all. In what way does Jesus resurrection depend on the Jonah account being true. If I tell you that I followed in the footsteps of some fictional character, say, one of the pilgrims in Canterbury Tales, would you be justified in deducing that I am not telling the truth because the person never existed, and therefore had no feet in whose steps I could follow, or would you just think I'd been on a journey from Southwark to the county town of Kent.

The point about how much Jesus, limited (not flawed) by his humanity, knew about things that he would not, as an ordinary, reasonably well educated, first century Jewish man, have otherwise known, is a moot point and discussion of it would also probably derail this thread. However, I don't think it takes away anything from Jesus words whether or not those particular passages from the prophets were historically true. To accept that Jesus was working in such a literal frame of mind would require one to believe that the inhabitants of Nineveh would act as prosecutors and judges over the lives of Jesus' contemporaries, and that, I'm pretty sure, is somewhere that you wouldn't want to go, theologically. So if he was talking in metaphor, why is it necessary that his reference text be anything other than metaphor.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
JJ,
discussion of this text would require its own thread in kerygmania. So I am going to resist the urge to comment on your post on this, apart from registering my disagreement.
[Paranoid]
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
I don't think we need a discussion of the text. Just an interpretation which requires the Jonah story to be historically accurate.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I don't think we need a discussion of the text. Just an interpretation which requires the Jonah story to be historically accurate.

Very well.


I tried to do a link here to Mattew 12 but it wouldn't work.

Certainly, it seems to me manifestly unlikely that Jesus would tell people that the men of Nineveh would condemn them at the judgement if the men of Nineveh, in his opinion never actually existed. (no matter what your theology of this is, even if it means "when you see the men of Nineveh at the resurrection you will be condemned".)
Similarly, it rather undermines his comparison with himself and the grave if Jonah wasn't actually in the belly of the whale for three days, but that was merely a story, when he seems to be using it as an example of a real miraculous sign analagous to the resurrection, that (in the same way as the resurrection) proves something to be true.
In what way could it possibly be a reference to the resurrection (a real event) if the original event was not real?
In answer to JJ's question, we don't need Jonah to be true to prove the resurrection, but had Jonah not been a true story then how could Jesus have demonstrated his point to the people at the time?

The stuff about "gnosis" and what Jesus knew or didn't know is indeed a moot point, but it may be a discussion we need to have, if you think that Jesus was referring to it as a real event but that he didn't know that it was actually a fiction.

Again, though, aside from the textual discussion, I do not see why you don't believe in a God who communicates consistently. I'm sorry in advance if this is offensive, but while I can understand your hesitations about the Joshua passage, I cannot understand them here. We believe in a trustworthy God, who can do miracles, Jesus refers to this story in a sense that in no way doubts its' reliability- WHY cast doubt on its truthfulness, and search out explanations for it otherwise? The Bible is full of God doing unlikely things. The Joshua argument I can understand, and I am thinking about it to post a reply, but this hardly seems worth using as a plank in the argument unless (as JJ said earlier he wasn't) you are LOOKING for errors.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Lep, I'm sorry that a response to, what I consider to be a throwaway example from AB's post has generated such heat. I can sort of see, in retrospect, why my post pressed the wrong buttons, but that was not the intention. In fact, I had assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that it was likely that you believed Jonah to be a parable, rather than a historical text. For that presumption, I unreservedly apologise [Tear] . My intention was not to "cast doubt" on this passage.

To me, this particular matter seems to be one of interpreting the genre, rather than of inerrancy per se. That is, I think that I could conceive of someone holding an inerrantist view, who still might not consider Jonah to be a "history". I have certainly heard that view propounded by those whose inerrantist qualifications are otherwise impeccable.

The point I was making was that whether the passage is, or was ever intended to be, historically accurate or not, (a genre question; we both believe it is "true", but disagree as to what "true" implies) I don't see that implies anything about the historicity of the resurrection.

So I don't think it is a totally fair criticism to say that this is a plank in my argument against inerrancy. It was just something that came up, and which I responded to according to my reading of the text.

Nevertheless, I apologise for derailing the thread, (and winding you up!!)

Pax
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Oops, for clarity, I should point out that the "passage" mentioned in paragraph 3 of my last post was, of course, Jonah and not Matthew 12.

(Missed the !!%$@## edit window -- again!!)
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Just because Jonah didn't exist doesn't mean Ninevah didn't exist. David Copperfield wasn't a real person but that doesn't make London fictional.
 
Posted by Ann (# 94) on :
 
I read somewhere that "in the belly of a fish" was a figure of speech with the same meaning as "on the horns of a dilemma". I can't substantiate this and it could well have been wishful thinking by someone trying to beat the extraordinary out of Scripture. Either way, it doesn't stop Jonah from being commissioned to call the citizens of Ninevah to repentance and being torn between doing God's will and letting a (to him) dispised city perish.
 
Posted by Leprechaun (# 5408) on :
 
As I was concerned, the thread seems to have gone off on a Jonah tangent. I don't really want to say more on that (apart from to thank JJ for his, once again, very gracious apology)
Can I just clarify, I think there are a number of key issues here:

1) In what sense is the Bible "God's word"?
2) What is truth - what type of "truth" claim does the Bible make? (incl. issues of genre)
3)Is Jesus inconsistent with the God of the Old Testament? (incl. the Joshua stuff...)

Are these the main issues, or have I missed any?
 
Posted by Fish Fish (# 5448) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
3)Is Jesus inconsistent with the God of the Old Testament? (incl. the Joshua stuff...)

quote:
Originally posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider:
This is a point I cannot get to. I cannot find a way of seeing genocide as anything other than inherently evil - ergo, God would not command it.

Can I respond to this issue, with something I've been thinking about. I hope this isn't another tangent, but a defence of what seems to be the trickiest part of the Bible. If this is a tangent, then I'm really sorry for raising it again!!!

I guess we'd all agree that God is loving and patient. The assumption is that, because he is loving and patient, he is thus incapable of the actions against nations such as the Amalekites.

But what does it mean for God to be patient? If God's patience never runs out, and if he is never provoked into action by sinful nations, then is God patient at all? If God never loses his patience with a sinful nation, then its not patience - its indifference. Indifference at their sin, their total and constant rebellion against him, their child sacrifice etc.

ISTM that God is not indifferent to these people's sins - "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." as Peter puts it.

But eventually, if after warning and prophets etc, God choses to act against a people who are so abhorant to him, why should that suprise or offend us? For in the end God will judge all people, and perhaps cast people into hell (as Jesus frequenlty affirms). If this is the case, then why is it wrong for God to sometimes bring that judgement forward to judge people on earth.

The OT is full of "natural" disasters being used by God to judge nations, including his own people. Why is it so much worse for him to use his people to be his agents of judgement instead of fire, the weather, locusts etc?

And since Jesus talks of God judging, casting people into hell etc - and since in the end these "genoicde" passages are claiming to be about God's judgment - is the OT at all inconsistent with Jesus message of a patient and loving God who also is a judge?

I'm sure this will be provocative! And again, sorry if its a tangent. Feel free to ignore this, or tell me its a tangent and I'll shut up! But I feel we need to perhaps defend even these most difficult passages if we are to deffend the innerancy of the text.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
1) In what sense is the Bible "God's word"?

In the sense that God speaks through the words on the page as they are read (rarely IME), but more especially when expounded and meditated on (which automatically roles interpretation into the process of hearing God speak).

quote:
2) What is truth - what type of "truth" claim does the Bible make? (incl. issues of genre)
Now, that's a big question. I don't think "truth" and "factual accuracy" are necessarily mutually dependant. A "lie" can speak truth (eg: through parables), and something factually accurate can lie.