Monday, August 28, 2006

Gospel Debate (4) Written Verses Living Word


In the Gospel Debate (2) John stated the following that is similar to his response to my email. Here is post #12 as well as his response to my email. It seems that the we are starting to see that how one views the Bible radically shapes how one understands the good news.

JOHN (from previous post):

For me, and officially for the ELCA, the bible is the norm and standard for faith and life. How we understand, interpret and use the standard of the Bible is informed by an awareness that there are many apparent inconsistencies and many sides to issues as presented in the Bible—often even within the same book. Applying literary, historical and sociological analysis can often help us to see this. Also, the tools of lower textual criticism—paying attention to the variances among extant manuscripts, lead us to exercise caution, since we can see that the texts as we have them have changed in transmission—sometimes in very significant ways (as with the ending to Mark’s gospel). What this boils down to for me is that the question of what you call “sufficiency” is muddled by the need to use extra-biblical resources to gain what amounts to a seldom 100% certain standard. But then, to me that’s fine, since it’s not the Written Word in the Bible that’s the ultimate Revelation-Word, but the Living Revelation-Word in Jesus Christ. Also above the written Word (for me) is the Proclaimed Word that’s inspired by this Christ. It’s these forms of the Word that produced the Word of the Bible. In other words, I see the Bible as sort of “frozen slices” of Living and Proclaimed Word, passed down to us across a chasm of time from ancient people of faith. This passing down was, of course, mediated along the way by people like medieval monks, renaissance scholars, and eventually more modern people of faith who used (and still use) use scholarly methods to aid them in transmission. And thank God for this—since these frozen slices provide the meat for countless sermons and a major vehicle for the Spirit of Christ to teach and guide the church. Have you ever stopped to think, though: what would it be like if we didn’t have the Bible? Would God’s Revelation continue to be available? My answer is yes! The Bible isn’t the source of that Revelation...it’s the Living Christ himself!

JOHN (Response to email):

"It seems to me that you want to accept the truth claim of eternal life with Christ without the truth-claim of the death He saves us from. If the Bible points us to the truth-claim of the Living Christ---what does this Christ save us from? What is that truth claim?"

I think it's not a matter of not accepting the truth claim, it's a matter of a different understanding of the nature of that truth claim, and of how it should be used.

Certainly the promise of eternal life saves us from the fear of what might happen to us after we die--whether that be eternal suffering in the flames of hell or eternal nothingness or isolation.

To me, I have the experience of salvation from that fear in the present, and that enabel me to experience a different kind of salvation here and now--a salvation for--salvation for growing in love for God and neighbor and care of God's creation. I can talk about this kind of salvation with confidence...that because in Christ I have the hope and assurance of eternal life with God, I'm freed from a self-centered preoccupation with earning my way into heaven--free to spontaneously live out a response to God's love in Christ and to leanr to follow my Lord in a life of self-emptying love and service. These are present "realities" that I can confidently bear witness to based on my own experience. I don't have the experience--and neither does anyone else--that enables me to say with any certainty what the nature is of God's salvation after death. Death is like a great curtain of mystery; the Scriptures themselves are hardly homogeneous in their portrayal of what is to come on the other side of that curtain. All I can do is trust the fundamental promse that God will hold onto me in death even as God holds onto me in life...and that somehow there wil be some way of being in relationship wiht god and wiht others i ahve known in this world...that to me is what the "resurrection of the body" means; the body is our current means of living in relationship. For me, that's enough! and for me, to say more is to get into the speculative.

This brings me to a major assumption I am aware I operate out of--you can dig into this more if you want...maybe we'll both learn something. Before you continue reading at this point, I'll need to verbally give you the "goldfish illustration," so I don't have to write it out here......in the goldfish illustration, we have a metaphor for our human limitations when it comes to comprehending the reality of God. To me, theology is "faith seeking understanding," and what I'm aware of is that I operate out of the assumption that, even though God chooses reveals God's self to us in a variety of ways, our capacity to really grasp the nature of that revelation is still limited by the gulf of "scale of being" between us and God. That is, even though God has embodied himself in Christ and inspired the writers of Scripture and others to make known to us what's important in the face of our human condition, it's all still very fuzzy to us simply because what there is to know is so far beyond us. As Paul put it, "Now we see as in a mirror dimly, then we shall see face to face." I love that, because there is the promise of a much clearer perception of the reality of God in the future...but we aren't there yet. Hence, the need for a great deal of humility when it comes to our truth claims. We can experience God through faith, but that is on a different order of knowing than, say, the claim that I am a 47 year old American male with hazel eyes and chronic rhinitis. Different orders of reality, I guess.

"I don't understand why we can take "Christ", and Savior, and Life, as truth claims and support them from the Bible, and see the same emphasis on hell, sin, wrath from the same Bible and call it "arrogant" to support those truth-claims. Is it humble to point to actual verses in the Bible that speak of Christ's saving love and arrogant to speak of what the Bible says He saves us from?"

To me, in my arrogant judgment, it's not the truth claim itself that makes it arrogant or not, but the way it's used and the impact it has on people. I can confess Christ and the salvation and life he offers--and I can even speak of his deliverence fro the powers of sin, death and the devil, and it need not oppress people if I am presenting this in a way taht folks experiecen as genuine good news for them. But if and when I start to wield Scripture, or any Biblical image, in a way that oppresses people by heaping guilt and shame on them by insisting that what i cam speaking of is objective reality that they must accept--even if my motive is to get them to the place where they can be delivered from guilt and shame through the gospel, then I think i am functioning in an arrogant and destructive way. the pharisees of jesus time appear to have been of such ilk; I know that at times my own preaching and witness has strayed into this territory.

We Lutherans like to talk about a Law/Gospel dialectic--about the need to make a clear distinction between Law and Gospel, and to use each properly. That is, the Law has a few uses, but its primary one is to show us our need and drive us to Christ. For most of us Lutherans, all good preaching has some element of both law and gospel. But our understanding of Law is that it's built into the fabric of creation, and therefore it's primarily experiential in nature. therefore, I think it's Paul who talks about the OT Law as being a "shadow of what was to come." Following Luther's lead, most Lutherans turn to the 10 commandments as a fundamental articulation of Law, and we hold them up like a mirror so that we can see ourselves in our need for god's saving help. but even the commandmetns, i think most of us would say, are subject to the transformations of time and experiecne...an example would be the commandment that prohibits coveting our neighbor's wife. We can see from it's context in the commandment that this prohibition understood woemn to be the property of men...not a view consistent with most people I know today--even the most conservative fundamentalists no longer try to justify treating women as chattel. The law is built inot the fabric of human existence, but it must be conhstantly articulated anew..and therefore handled wiht care. I do't know about baptists, but too often, we Lutheran preachers go about the task by haplessly throwing people down into the mud wiht the law so that we can hose them off with the gospel.

The point is, the gospel is not about hosing us off. We can be and are (if we feel the need and trust the promise) washed anew and cleansed of our guilt, but the real purpose of the gospel is to get us into a wholesome relationship with God, not to wash us off. If someone is already operating with a sense of being in a wholesome relationship with God, why would we want to throw themin the mud of guilt and fear of hell, just to hose them off again...unless we are simply needing to establish control? The historical context of the reformation (exsessive preaching of the Law, fear of hell or pergatory, sale of indulgences) gives me and many of my colleagues a lot of cause to be suspicious of any such leanings--in ourselves or in anyone else.

Have to get back to this later...

21 comments:

Rob Tombrella said...

"Applying literary, historical and sociological analysis can often help us to see this. Also, the tools of lower textual criticism—paying attention to the variances among extant manuscripts, lead us to exercise caution, since we can see that the texts as we have them have changed in transmission—sometimes in very significant ways (as with the ending to Mark’s gospel)."

Again, John, I respectfully ask you to show significant proof that the texts have "changed" in transmission. Where have they changed? What doctrines about God that the NT church embraced can we now flat out reject because the Scripture has been proven to have "changed" in transmission?

I'm all for textual criticism--but not when it blanks out the very words of Christ.

Are you contending that the 11 times that Jesus is quoted as preaching "hell" "where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" is a change in transmission? Did Jesus "mean" something else here? Are you saying scribes imported that and now we can reject the difficult sayings of Jesus? When Jesus called Pharisees who rejected him "twice as much the son of hell" that some scribe imported that idea--and that Jesus didn't really say that?

"Also above the written Word (for me) is the Proclaimed Word that’s inspired by this Christ. It’s these forms of the Word that produced the Word of the Bible. In other words, I see the Bible as sort of “frozen slices” of Living and Proclaimed Word, passed down to us across a chasm of time from ancient people of faith."

Never in my life have I ever heard of the use of such metaphors to distance somebody from the Bible. "Frozen slices"? "Chasm of time" "ancient people of faith?" You make the Apostle Paul sound like he's chipping his discourse on Romans 9 with a spike and hammer.

Apply a CONSISTENT hermeneutic. You are passionate about certain texts and phrases that back up your beliefs in God--owing I believe mostly to how you feel---now apply that same hermeneutic across the whole spectrum of the Bible and you will come to a more powerful view of God's grace.

Frozen slices sound tasty--like a cheescake in the freezer--but what in the world would lead you to believe that we can pick out "frozen slices" of truth from the Bible and ignore the rest?

"most Lutherans turn to the 10 commandments as a fundamental articulation of Law, and we hold them up like a mirror so that we can see ourselves in our need for god's saving help. but even the commandmetns, i think most of us would say, are subject to the transformations of time and experiecne...an example would be the commandment that prohibits coveting our neighbor's wife."

Huh? How does the command to not covet anything of my neighbor change with time and experience? Gal 3 says the law "leads us to Christ that we may be justified by faith."

We can be and are (if we feel the need and trust the promise) washed anew and cleansed of our guilt, but the real purpose of the gospel is to get us into a wholesome relationship with God, not to wash us off. If someone is already operating with a sense of being in a wholesome relationship with God, why would we want to throw themin the mud of guilt and fear of hell, just to hose them off again...unless we are simply needing to establish control?

This statement sounds wonderful but is really scary. The goal of the gospel is that sinners are brought into a wholesome relationship with God. But you indicate that someone can be operating out of sense of a wholesome relationship with God without any knowledge of their sin and rebellion against God.

Why would we preach sin, and hell, and the fear of God? Simple. Jesus did--and commands us to. Jesus went around preaching that people would repent of their sins (against a holy God) and be saved (primarily and before any other saving activity) from the wrath of a holy God into the arms of a loving God.

"If we feel the need"?

This indicates that you don't believe that man is guilty before God or in justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Luther would have never wondered if we compel people to turn from their sins to Christ "if they feel the need."

theopraxis said...

"Why would we preach sin, and hell, and the fear of God? Simple. Jesus did--and commands us to. Jesus went around preaching that people would repent of their sins (against a holy God) and be saved (primarily and before any other saving activity) from the wrath of a holy God into the arms of a loving God."

Wow, the tone of this response seems defensive; not of the Bible, but of your own personal beliefs. First of all, I thought this was to be an understanding of how and why someone from another denom thinks differently about things. But no matter what John says, you guys question him like he is an alien. I ask for you all to please read some of the Church Fathers and maybe you can understand John a little more. First of all, Jesus did preach about sin, hell, and the fear of God -- to those who were self-righteous, i.e. the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus told all those sinners so much about their sin that he was considered a drunk and glutton by the Better-Than-You Group. Jesus always preached love and forgiveness to the tax collector, prostitue, and sinner; as soon as the Jewish elite showed up he starts talking about hell. Hell would be an interesting subject to talk about, but I have yet to read John talking about hell. It has always been someone else. BTW, hell was not always understood in a Virgil and Dante way. Hell might have something to do with Gehenna. Check it out.
Second of all, where did Jesus tell us to preach hell and sin?
Finally, since this specific post is about the whether the Bible is the word of God or not-- You do understand why people in the time of Jesus wrote things down, right? They wrote things down because people were starting to forget. It was an oral culture. The idea of a textual culture did not come about until the late 15th, early 16th century. (Hmmm, what was going on during that time?) No one read for a hobby. Illitiracy was at an alltime high. If you were not born in good standing, you probably could not read, let alone write. The fact that the Bible had to be written down at all was because the People of God kept forgetting what kind of people they were supposed to be. Even when God revealed himself most fully in the person of Jesus Christ, his people still forgot. That is why Paul wrote in the first place. Then people forgot the story and Mark, Luke, Matthew wrote it down. There is evidence that Peter was the greatest disciple, so John wrote to show that as great as Peter was, there was another disciple that was the unnamed beloved disciple. Even today, we write things down because of agendas. Same way back then. Sorry for the long post.

Rob Tombrella said...

Theopraxis--

Welcome to the conversation! Glad you have found us! I don't have time to respond to the meat of the post but let me address a couple of things.

"Wow, the tone of this response seems defensive; not of the Bible, but of your own personal beliefs."

It is impossible for both of us to speak of these things completely objectively. The whole point of this is that we have a personal belief in these views. The tone might reflect that on occassion but this is probably owing to the breakdown of written communication. I want my words to reflect the passion of my heart, the way a doctor would speak passionately about a cure for lukemia. But I don't want to reflect the pride that God resists.

We are both defending personal beliefs---but we do this as friends. I want to maintain that tone throughout our discussion.

"First of all, I thought this was to be an understanding of how and why someone from another denom thinks differently about things. But no matter what John says, you guys question him like he is an alien."

It is impossible to get a real grasp of how someone believes without questions--and lots of them. I can't speak for John, but I hope that that has not been his experience. We really want to learn a view that is alien to us--and we have consistently applauded John for being the only one up till now to represent an ELCA view of the gospel. Way to go John.

Mike McVey said...

Somebody must have hit a nerve. Goodness, Rob. Do you think you can be a little more defensive? There is so much to respond to that I don't know where to start. Significant proof that the texts have "changed" is the Dead Sea Scrolls vs. the MS scripts for the OT. As far as the NT goes, even Geisler and Erickson admit that there were several "changed" documents circulating as early as 100 AD. The problem is that for all the documents we have, none are the originals -- and most likely we will not ever discover the originals, because of this we will never know exactly what the originals said. Does this mean we are to flat out reject any of scripture? Of course not, and John has made no mention of rejecting scripture. What I read him saying is that if we understand a little bit of the context that each author is coming from, we might have a better idea of how to understand what they are saying. The fact that men picked out which scripture was more holy than another and that around 300 AD, that seems to tell me that something else is going on here. We have no problem accepting a political driven canon by Constantine, but you have a problem with indisputable fact that there are discrepancies in the different manuscripts? There is no way to respond to that. My only question is which takes more faith? None of us are smart enough to prove God. Men (& women) who are much smarter than us have tried and failed. The reason why I study the Bible and believe it inspired is because I believe that in reading it the Word of God changes our lives and makes us become new creatures. The Word of God is Jesus Christ, not a paper pope! Is the Bible higher than God or is God higher than the Bible?

John said...

I’m curious where you find Jesus explicitly commanding you to “preach sin, and hell, and the fear of God”? I think I can find places where you might eisegete this, but don’t know of anywhere it can be exegeted. I know in John Jesus speaks of the Spirit coming to ‘convict the world of sin’; in John the risen Christ also gives the disciples authority to forgive or not to forgive sins, and says “as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Perhaps it’s passages like this that you read as a commandment to preach sin, hell and fear of God. If this is the case, I have to say that I don’t read these passages the same way. Even Jesus’ commandment to love one another as I have loved you, I read in the overall context of John as calling and shaping the church to incarnate God’s unconditional, reconciling love—just as the Lord Jesus himself did.

I’m sorry if my statement about the purpose of the gospel scares you in some way—perhaps that’s something to explore more in depth? It appears that, from your perspective, it’s crucial that people recognize their sinfulness before God in order to have a wholesome relationship with God. I think Luther probably would have agreed with you. But he was living in a time when, for centuries, the church’s oppressive teachings about God combined with the sense of fear of judgment that came with coping with the Plague, malnutrition, and other widespread threats to existence led people to experience. My reading is that we (you and I and most people in our part of the world—certainly not everyone) live in a very different world today. The nature of many peoples’ experience is shaped by modern psychology (a philosophical world-view) that leads many to reject other peoples’ attempts to induce guilt, and by a drastically better standard of living and health. In this situation, I don’t find everyone ready to acknowledge their brokenness. Most, (if not all) will probably come to some point in their life when they are ready or able to acknowledge it on some level, and in such times we should be ready to witness to the good news of God’s forgiveness of sin and salvation from the power of sin, death and the devil. These are like ‘cracks” into which the light of the gospel can be shined into the dark spaces and corners that we all harbor. But to go around pounding these doctrines into peoples’ heads…I’m sorry, but if you want to speak of consistency, let’s talk about being consistent in love and in an effective witness to the gospel. My sense of the task we are given is that it’s more like lovers courting beloved…and not like cattle herders whipping and prodding folks into a relationship with God.

Not sure if I understand what your beef is with picking and choosing “slices of frozen truth.” We all give more or less weight to various Scripture. We all make use of certain texts and tend to leave others be, or at least, to emphasize them less than others. These are interpretive choices we all make.

As for the proof you ask of changes I transmission, I would refer you to the ending to the gospel of Mark. In some of the most ancient manuscripts, the gospel ends with vs. 8: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” I’ll just paste in the footnote form the NRSV on the remainder of the chapter: “Some of the most ancient authorities bring the book to a close at the end of verse 8. One authority concludes the book with the shorter ending; others include the shorter ending and then continue with verses 9-20. In most authorities verses 9-20 follow immediately after verse 8, though in some of these authorities the passage is marked as being doubtful.” This gospel has a very different (for me, more powerful) impact reading with the shorter ending than it does with the longer one.

One major example among many, many others.

Finally, I don’t see myself “distancing” from the bible, but rather keeping in focus the very real distance in time and circumstances that exist between me and the bible. It doesn’t mean god can’t address me on a very personal and powerful level through the Bible—God has and continues to do this quite a bit. But it gives me what I consider a healthy critical suspicion of what I percieve God to be saying to me. As Luther put it, “the Spirit is constantly whispering in my ear…but the devil is also whispering in the other ear.”

Rob Tombrella said...

Before we go any further--let me do a better job of clearing the air.

After reading my first post I can see pride in my heart. This should come as no surprise because I am a proud person in need of God's powerful grace hourly. I can see a mocking tone that's not helpful. The Bible has as much to say in how we speak as in what we speak. I want to grow in speaking the truth "in love." I apologize to John if I did a straw man.

Having said that--I want to communicate the reason there is passion behind my questions is not a love for debate--but a love for Jesus. I too believe that the Bible functions to continually lead us to Christ--that "these are the Scriptures that testify about Me" and that one can be passionate about the written Word and still refuse to come to Christ that they may have life (John 5:39).

But this Christ--this Living Word--this Sender of the Holy Spirit who dwells in the hearts of His people will be our Judge very soon(Matt 7:23; Acts 10:42, 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 2 Tim 4:1,8; Heb 10:30, 12:23, 13:4; 1 Pet 4:6; Rev 11:18, 18:8, 19:11).

We will all stand before Christ and give an account of our lives. Our only hope--and the only hope of the world is if this Judge is also our personal Savior. Only if we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone will any man stand in that day.

The beloved disciple who leaned his head against the soft chest of Jesus also says that one day Jesus will "tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty (Rev. 19:15)."

My belief in this as an actual day in which many people will marvel that they are not saved because they sought to justify themselves through their own righteousness and false gods(Rev. 9:20)propels me to get the gospel right, and get the gospel out.

But let me do this in love. I will post my original response to John's email in the next couple of days.

Chris said...

I have followed this debate from afar and nearly commented several times. As I have read this debate, I have seen one side question the accuracy of select portions of Holy Scripture. The danger with this perspective is that it allows the reader to selectively choose which Scriptures are trustworthy and which are not.

If the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit and a reflection of God's perfect character, then picking and choosing which verses or passages to accept or reject says a great deal about how we view God Himself.

Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 5:18). So if the Bible is in error then you must conclude that Jesus was in error too. If Jesus was wrong, then we really have problems.....

Rob Tombrella said...

Chris--

my point exactly. If you position John against Matt, Mark and Luke and imply that that they were in error--you have to say that Jesus was in error. That when he warned people that hell is a place where "the fire is not quenched" that he either did NOT say that, or he was wrong and was warning them falsely.

This, because there is nothing else you can do with that phrase except conclude that
1. hell is real
2. hell is miserable
3. hell is forever

Aaron said...

Mike,
you said, "As far as the NT goes, even Geisler and Erickson admit that there were several "changed" documents circulating as early as 100 AD. The problem is that for all the documents we have, none are the originals -- and most likely we will not ever discover the originals, because of this we will never know exactly what the originals said."
This is true to a degree, however, to avoid the radical misunderstanding that I think some may be drawing from this, Erickson, and Geisler would still hold to a "Full Inerrancy". Geisler and others wrote a book on Inerrancy that argues against your view that "we will never know exactly what the originals said". See also Erickson's chapter on Inerrancy where he says, (on p. 265 of the 2nd ed. of "Christian Theology"),"The doctrine of inerrancy applies in the strict sense only to the originals, but in a derivative sense to copies and translations, that is, to the extent that they reflect the original. This view is often ridiculed as a subterfuge, and it is pointed out that no one has seen the inerrant autographs. Yet, as Carl Henry has pointed out, no one has seen the errant originals either." "In a world in which there are so many erroneous conceptions and so many opinions, the Bible is a sure source of guidance. For when correctly interpreted, it can be fully relied on in all that it teaches. It is a sure, dependable, and trustworthy authority."
It seems that you do have some use for the Bible, but to cavalierly dismiss certain doctrines that are not politically correct, (now, I am not assuming that that is your driving motivation), by simply stating that the Bible is not always reliable, is just not honest. Be specific. Even the texts that textual criticism has shown to be questionable are not the sole support for major doctrines.
Additionally, I do appreciate the manner in which this "debate" has carried for the most part. I think that Rob and John have both modeled humility while not compromising the certainty with which they hold to their respective beliefs, let us all follow that example.

Mike McVey said...

Okay, first of all, I want to apologize to anyone that has been offended by my bluntness and possible harshness. I have read every single post and every single comment. I am not basing what I say on something loose that is irrelevant. At first, I think there was a genuine sense of understanding a brother (John) who looked at scripture differently than you. But the past few comments before I posted had been very harsh and moved beyond what was being said. Rob, thank you for addressing that.

Second of all, John is by no means in the minority of thinking the way he does. Even though Texas is fairly limited in theological diversity (that is without being labeled a liberal), it is by no means the norm of the country or the world. His type of thinking is not something that comes with post-modernism, but actually modernism. That means since the 15th century. Yes, I agree, I might come off a little scathing, but it is never love for one another when ganging up on someone who believes different. Again, this may look like I'm reading into something that is not there, but I have had friends of mine who have read this and asked how Christians can act like this to one another. Didn't Jesus say something like, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another"? Or was it, "They will know you are my disciples by believing that a book that became canonized almost 300 years after my death is inerrant"?

For the record, the burden of proof is not on me to show how the Bible is not inerrant. The burden is on anyone who says it is. And I was not pitting John against the synops. I was just saying that there was a different community to whom the Gospel of John was written to. Since I do not believe that God told man exactly what to write down, this does not challenge what I believe. I think and believe that every single book of the Bible was written to a specific and unique context. I believe that even though each book was written to a certain unique social context, that the truths spoken to each culture is timely.

Tony Sok said...

Hey brothers, sorry for the long absence. I thank God for genuine disagreement's between brother's and sister's in Christ. This may sound like I'm on the other side of the pendulum when Scripture testifies to us to have a bond of unity.

Unity yes, love; all the more. But is it not the case that it is easy to show love to those whom we agree with. But is not love truly put to the test and displayed when there is genuine disagreement between parties? Isn't this this priciple addressed when Jesus says love your enemies. (Don't get me wrong I would consider none of those who disagree with me on positions of the faith to be an enemy who are in Christ). Let us show the world how we can engage in debate with a spirit of love towards a bond of unity.

Two things I have seen personally in my life through this dialogue are: (1) a refinement of what I believe and (2)a deeper love for Jesus and the pursuit of truth.

I would agree with you Mike that is debate goes back into the 15th century during the Enlightenment and rationalism of the day. Such works by Hume, Kant, Brunner, Ritschl and other's have greatly impacted much thinking.

Mike could you clarify for me why the burden of proof is on the inerrantist?

Mike McVey said...

"Mike could you clarify for me why the burden of proof is on the inerrantist? "

I can certainly try :0) For me, the 66 canonized books of the Bible are inspired by God for the purpose of all things necessary to salvation and Christian living. As soon as I say that, I'm afraid someone will ask, "So you just pick and choose what is necessary and what isn't?" My answer would be, no. I think all of scripture is necessary for the above purposes. Because I have now made a specific claim about the scripture, the burden is on me to "prove" or "explain" my statement. But that is not the statement that at present (though maybe in the near future) that is in discussion. This "debate" is whether what John has to say can be considered if the Bible is inerrant. He skips that step by saying, no, the Bible is not inerrant. This does not appear to be a problem for him (or for me anymore). If it is in your thinking that the Bible is inerrant, then the pressure is on you to try and make sense of John's statements--not him. From my perspective there are three options. 1) Completely reject what he has to say (which would be stupid and defeat the whole purpose of this blog). 2) Try to understand what he has to say through your current epistemological framework, or 3) learn a new epistemological framework to make sense of what he has to say.

This might have seen off subject, but if you are a theology nerd like me, then its fun. But let me try another way. The way I'm understanding everybody that is not John (and if I'm wrong, please tell me) is that whether or not the Bible is inerrant is the same kind of data as 1+1=2. The way I'm understanding John is that there are different systems of understanding data. In a Euclidian world 1+1 does =2. But not all of math is Euclidian. In fact, since the calculus, we have found a curvature to time and space, and though 99.9% of the way you and I use math on a day to day basis, 1+1=2,etc. But there are certain levels of math that the logic of 1+1=2, etc. does not work. All of this is to say that there is nothing wrong if you believe the Bible is inerrant. But do not expect to understand everything John has to say if you believe it. I was not able to understand it until my epistemological framework changed.

My answer comes in the form of a question. Why do you hold the NT to be inerrant? It is easy for me to understand why you would believe for the OT to be -- you could even contextually use scripture to prove your point. But the NT does not have the same kind of foundation to use scripture to prove scripture is inerrant. So again, my question to all.

Why do you hold the NT to be inerrant?

Palmernate said...
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Palmernate said...

Speaking for myself. I hold to the inerrancy of the bible because of God's Character. I don't begin to start analyzing Scripture on my own analysis using logic to determine which part of the Bible to believe. rather I try to start with God's character. As I said last post we must be careful when we play Bible buffet. Are we evaluating Scripture and God or are we letting God evaluate us through Scripture? I would ask you who do you think God is and what is he like?

Its no easy thing to ponder, even with Help from J.I. Packer. But we know God is ultimately Good and ultimately Just. the bible must be without error or God's goodness and justice comes into question. That proposition leads us to some serious problems.

Palmernate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Palmernate said...

Also, please listen to link if you have time. Its not necessarily a defense of inerrancy rather a testimony to once inerrancy is upheld how that can be applied in the church and bear tremendous fruit. The sermon is from Rob's and my pastor Craig Cabaniss.

http://www.gracechurchfrisco.org/index.php/audio/

its welcome home series #2

Tony Sok said...

Mike, thanks for your post, brother. I would hold with you that Scripture bears truth to all things pertaining and neccessary for salvation and Christian living, but would ask is it inerrant only in this? Although I believe Scripture is sufficient in it's testimony concerning salvation and faith (and this is the the major message of the Bible), it is a part and not the whole summary of the Bible. I think that this is why many have moved away from saying the Bible is infallible and have moved into inerrancy. Obviously we could discuss this at a different time.

I would account and affirm for a logical, non-contradictory truth, although I would be hesistant to strictly apply it in propositional truth statements, grounded in rational and logic, namely because many of the major doctrines foundational to Christianity are grounded in "mystery" where logic and understanding are beyond the comphrehension of man. His ways are not are ways. But in saying this, I do believe Christiantiy can give a rational account only if it's not divorced from faith. I don't think it would be wise now to discuss foundationalism.

Mike, that is a good question, on why should one (in this case me) hold to the NT to be inerrant. To be honest from what I've read (and I'm thankful for the honesty from Richard Gaffin and what he's wrote on inerrancy and how the Bible has come to be as it is now), and have at times wondered why is the Spephard of Hermas, some of Paul's other's writing, and so forth not included in the canon. Inspiration and apostolicity have usually been the answers given to account for this, but one wonders was not other letters of Peter and Paul's also apostolic in nature and guided under the inspiration of the Spirit? Do I wonder why in Anthanasis' Easter message why this book in in agreement, and why this book or that is disputed? Or why Justin Marytr includes the books he does as authoratative. The only answer I can see is the same answer Merideth Kline gives, in that the finalization of the canon is by the providence of God. Many would consider this a cheap cop-out, but truthfully and honestly this is the only answer I can give looking at the historical data of Church History; mainly the Early Church Fathers, and the various councils and debates.

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