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« Does Apologetics Stifle the Holy Spirit? (Video) | Main | Inconsistent Same-Sex Marriage Advocates »

June 04, 2012

Comments

This is why I think using the designation "Word of God" for the entire bound volume of ancient manuscripts, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, is misleading. Each book has its own idiosyncrasies, and must be treated as an individual document. Whether or not the whole thing, or certain books, are "the Word of God" is an entirely subjective, after-the-fact opinion. "Word of God" implies inerrancy and does not allow for errata such as the last part of Mark or Matthew 27:51b-53, the "zombie" verses.

Sorry, I used "errata" incorrectly here. I meant "questionable passages."

I am what would be considered an inerrantist but I am also a presuppositionalist. Most importantly I am a Christian. Check out 2Timothy 3:16-17. Does absolute Truth exist? I believe it does.

The question is: what is "Scripture" as Timothy refers to it here? Obviously none of the New Testament books, because there was no "New Testament" when he wrote these words. And that is Timothy's opinion; whether or not we choose to agree with him is another step of faith.

Sorry again; "Paul's" opinion.

Where would we find out what God would have us know? Do you think the Bible is just another book or is it the Revelation of God?

"The Bible" is not a book, but a collection of books. The title means different things to different people, depending on whether you're Jewish, Roman Catholic, or Protestant.

If one believes these books collectively are the "Revelation of God," then that is an opinion formed years after the books were collated and called "The Bible." An individual book in the collection cannot refer to the entire collection as "Scripture" when that collection did not exist at the time of writing.

So, if one comes to the conclusion that their particular collection of books is "Scripture" (again, depending on one's religious persuasion), then this is a subjective opinion which one is certainly entitled to.

Personally, I believe the answer to the question you posed (Do you think the Bible is just another book or is it the Revelation of God?) is much more complex. I cannot answer "yes" or "no." Complexities such as the original intended audience, cultural norms, worldview, etc., all come into play. We all consider these things whether we realize it or not, else why are we choosing to not follow Levitical laws anymore? Are those words not "the Word of God?"

Perry,

I see, you're a relativist. If everybody's right then nobody's wrong.

If you don't understand The Law then you might ask questions like you ask. The answers to those questions are actually in the Bible.

Quite simply, you don't believe God is God in some capacity based on your comments.

More accurately, the Bible is letters, eyewitness accounts,poems and songs. All of which were inspired by God.

The answer to my question about the Bible being the revelation of God is yes. It is the revelation of God. Now show how your opinion makes my belief nothing more than an opinion.

Perry,

Jesus made reference to scripture. I guess you think He was just expressing an opinion too.

Billy- I admire your confidence at diagnosing my religious and philosophical beliefs. However, I think the main difference between the way we approach things is you seem to need a firm "yes" while I am quite comfortable with an "I don't know" as my final answer. I don't think that makes me a relativist; maybe more of a realist.

You leap to "all of which were inspired by God" without demonstrating how you got there.

The Word of God is something bigger than the Bible. We have fixed that appellation on the bound collection of "letters, eyewitness accounts, poems and songs," but it is much more than that. If "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God," that is bigger than a collection of manuscripts.

And, while I am sure it scratches some apologetic itch for you to say I don't believe that "God is God in some capacity," our internal logic processes things differently. I find that Evangelical Protestants experience cognitive dissonance when people don't see things the same way they do, as if everything is just so plainly obvious.

I do not think that everybody's right. I believe in God; I believe in Jesus; I think that sometimes we place too much emphasis on the Bible, as if that's all there is, and ignore the fact that there are portions of the Bible which are believed to be spurious. Yet, there they remain, and we continue to call them "the Word of God."

And yes,Jesus did indeed reference Scripture, but it logically had to be what we now call the Old Testament, since the New Testament did not yet exist. So really, Jesus has no word on that collection of books. The Church has deemed that collection to be Scripture.

Perry,

If what you have written us an accurate indication of your religious and philosophical beliefs then it really doesn't take a lot to "diagnose" what you believe. My need of a firm yes that you refer to is simply a reflection of what is evident in the Bible. You can't say you don't know because I'm telling you. The Bible us the Revelation of God. As far as you being a realist, I don't know about that.

Leaping to the conclusion, "all of which were inspired by God":
1Corinthians 2:12-13, 2Timothy 3:16-17, 2Peter1:21 and Matthew 5:17-18
This is a good place to start the leap as one might from a non secular perspective see that the Bible is self validating. What else could God's Word be? A quick search on my Bible app shows over 60 verses related to the sovereignty of God in all things. That would have to include the writing, translation and transmission of Biblical text over time to arrive at what we now call The Holy Bible.

What do you think was being referred to in John 1:1 by "The Word".

That apologetic itch is The Holy Spirit and It guides and informs my internal logic processes. You may be right about some evangelical Protestants but I don't see the relevance to our discussion.

James 2:19- you believe in God and so do the devils. I want you to know that I too believe and am willing to give God the praise He deserves. What are some of the spurious portions? Who decided they were so? What authority do those individuals have?

Jesus has no word? He created them. God is eternal. Was Jesus in your perception just a man? So now you're saying that the entire account of the New Testament only has validity because of the Church.

We're not enemies. You should really reconsider your stance on the omnipotent nature of God. I simply want to help you see the error of your viewpoints. 2Timothy2:22-26.

"us" in the first paragraph should be "is"

Billy,

I believe your making a bit of a straw man out of Perry's comments. If Perry acknowledges belief in Jesus wouldn't you rationally assume he derived that truth from scripture? Furthermore yes all scripture (graphe=words) are inspired by God, Perry doesn't deny this. We find in no verse in scripture the neccesity of an inerrantist view for salvation. You also asked what "some of the spurious portions" were.
How about the more than thirty references to the Earth being flat? Or the numerous accounts of an ancient near eastern "firmament"? Do you believe you can handle snakes and drink poison and live?

We are commanded to love God with all of our mind Billy, sometimes that means asking hard questions.

And for the record I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, He was born of a virgin, was crucified and rose again as an act of His own will as sacrificial attonement for your and my sins.

The Bible is a living book, but it does not have a life of it's own.

Steve,

I don't believe I am. The idea that the Bible is not the inspired word of God is something I can't agree with. If Perry has been reborn then that's great. Now as a brother in Christ I feel the need to tell him to beware of the subtle deceptions of today's trends. Perry seemed to take issue with the idea that all scripture was inspired by God. I never said salvation hinged on an inerrantist view. There again, these spurious portions don't seem invalid just misunderstood.

Don't forget loving Him with your heart and soul also. What's the hard question? Any question that leads to truth shouldn't be hard.

Jesus Christ is God. Yes He was born of a virgin and is The Son of God. He died because that was God's Will. Remember the part about if this cup could pass from me.....?

The Bible is obviously something that people don't take seriously enough. By the way, have you read the Bible? I mean all of it. Not just the parts that make you feel good.

Also, I retract my usage of the word spurious. I'll say those portions of the Bible that are just not understood as well.

"Scripture" is obviously not any New Testament books? Why? Only if it must mean something specific, like only Old Testament books. But, what if it meant a category of books deemed to be authoritative as the Word of God? This would include the Old Testament yes, but would also include any other writings that are to be taken as authoritative on the same level as the Old Testament, even if it hadn't been written yet. Just a thought.

Steve - thanks for the back-up and clarification.

Billy - it seems to me that you have arrived (you said you are a presuppositionalist) at the conclusion that the entire Bible is inspired, and I am asking how you got there. You have not told me.

If you say the Holy Spirit guided you there, well, you're no different than a Mormon who claims the same about the Book of Mormon. That's not good enough.

The fact that there are many schools within Christianity who come to different conclusions about portions of the Bible (young/old earth, local/global flood, Calvinism, eschatology, gifts of the Spirit, etc.), shows that while we may think we have a firm Yes, in reality, there are different ways to interpret the books of the Bible. People who read the same passages and arrive at different conclusions are not in a battle for supremacy, or to determine who is right and who is wrong. The original authors are not here for us to ask what they meant, so we do our best with the knowledge we have, knowledge that admittedly has many gaps.

I am not willing to die on the hill of a firm Yes on complete and total inspiration, especially in light of passages like the one that started this thread.

If you research this Mark passage, you will find that older manuscripts do not contain it, yet it is included with that footnote in our modern Bibles, I suppose "just in case" it is inspired. I am hoping you can see that questioning passages like this does not connote lack of faith in God, but rather a realistic approach to the ancient texts that says Yes, they may contain spurious passages. Why not? It is us who have deemed them inspired. I don't care how many self-affirming passages appear in Scripture; this is circular reasoning.

Approaching someone like me with the presumption that I am in error, rather than defending your position so that I can learn something from you, is not helpful. In fact, it would behoove all Christians to seek to learn from those they disagree with, rather than enter the conversation with "let me set you straight."

Thank you.

Perry

As a presuppositionalist I would say from the impossibility of the contrary. You really haven't offered anything except you don't know. What I don't understand is your need for me to say that I don't know.

Mormons have rewritten the Bible and if you are familiar with the Bible then it is easy to spot the flaws in their book. They also have faith in Joseph Smith more than God. By the way, Joseph Smith was a convicted con man. Yes, it is on record. Mormons fall into the biblical counterfeit category with muslims. You really should study the things you try to use as weapons in a debate.

On the interpretation of text: if I was a math teacher and there was one particularly difficult problem that resulted in different answers from the students then would it make sense to conclude that there is no right answer? Likewise, if people interpret scripture differently then it doesn't follow that there is no correct interpretation.

If an argument for an ultimate commitment isn't circular in nature then what you are arguing for is not your ultimate commitment.

It is not us who have deemed the scriptures inspired, but God through scripture.

People who have any background in textual criticism don't make the type of comments you have made about the Bible. You view it from a secular standpoint. Was this on your own or did you read it somewhere and develop faith in that alternate viewpoint?

Approaching someone like you? I asked a simple question. BTW, it wasn't a presumption. It's pretty obvious that you are in error. I didn't say anything about setting you straight. I might have insinuated it, but that was warranted due to your tone. Besides, I'm not defending myself but the unparalleled greatness and sovereignty of the Lord. I know you are mad at me, but all I wanted you to see
was that not understanding scripture doesn't make those parts of the Bible invalid or mistaken translations. We just have to pray and ask God to help us understand those more challenging sections. Trust me, people are not smarter than God.

Billy, Billy...the lack of face-to-face contact makes nuance difficult on these boards. Yes, I know all about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and the Koran. I was arguing that the approach of the Mormons to determining the "rightness" of the book is not valid, because it is experiential, much like if you approached the Bible the same way; it would be an invalid way to gauge authenticity.

You have me all figured out. Yet I am none of those things you insinuate. I am not mad at you; I have studied textual criticism; and like I said, I know all about the Mormons.

You said, I wanted you to see...that not understanding scripture doesn't make those parts of the Bible invalid or mistaken translations." And I answer - why not? What CAN'T there be invalid insertions in books of the Bible? Why CAN'T there be mistranslations? Who says? Biblical scholars have determined that there are indeed spurious (yes, spurious) passages in the Bible and have noted them as such. We have lived with them there for hundreds of years. Some think they can ultimately be explained or understood; others think they are simply later additions, spurious.

You also said, Likewise, if people interpret scripture differently then it doesn't follow that there is no correct interpretation." I agree, yet I maintain that we may ALL have it wrong, and to start accusing others (as you did me, hence my "let me set you straight" comment) of "error" is not helpful, especially since you offered no argument for your position, other than "I know I'm right."

My argument is this: The books of the Bible were written by men, some believe under the inspiration of God. Great, I have no problem with that. To PROVE this, however, is no easy task. That is all.

As I'm sure you are aware, Muslims believe the Koran IS the actual Word of God, a different position than the Christians hold about the Bible. Hence, to translate the Koran is to corrupt it. Christians hold to inspiration, a different framework.

I choose to cling to "inerrancy" and "Word of God" more lightly than you. That's it.

Now, please don't condescend to calling me in error for having a variant opinion, if you don't mind.

Let's be friends.

Perry,

Truth is consistent. Opinions can't change that.

Billy: I agree. But be careful that some elements of what you hold as "truth" may in fact be an opinion. We are all small fish in a big pond.

Yes, but I can never go wrong if I'm trusting in God and not man's perceived autonomy.

Perry,

I was wondering, since we should try to learn from people that we disagree with, if you could enlighten me about something. Pick one of the spurious portions of the Bible and in a fair amount of detail explain its faults. It seems to have been rather convincing for you. Surely you would want to help a brother out. Thank you.

Billy,

Yes I have read the Bible. I'm sorry friend but your tone is condescending and your accusations could be perceived as hurtfull. You refuse to acknowledge any objections presented by Perry or I with anything but your opinion. So in the the spirit of unity let us sit down and reason together. Can one not trust God completely and read the Bible objectively?

If you want an example: Daniel 4:10-12 Describes a tree so large that it could be viewed from "the ends of the Earth." First of all do I believe that Gob could grow a tree this large? Absolutely, we have an all powerfull God. My objection is this; there are no "ends of the Earth" the Earth is round thus continuous. If Daniel the author of the book of Daniel meant from anywhere on earth (by the ends of the earth) Billy, this is impossible, we live on a round planet that God created round.

I don't point this out to say that I don't trust, believe in, and depend upon Scripture. Exogesis is key hear. I don't expect God to have made natural scientists of early Hebrew people, or furthermore to completely replace their framework of near eastern cosmology.

At this point in a debate the correct form is to object to my claim with a logical rebuttal. If your only interested in demonizing me for asking questions, with your opinion, I'm afraid Billy that Proverbs 18:2 applies

"A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinion."

My applogies God is clearly misspelled.

Well, most of the work has been done for me. Let's begin with the passage that started this thread, Mark 16:9 to the end. Research this verse and you'll find that the earliest manuscripts do not contain it. It should be so footnoted in your Bible. If it were true, believers wouldn't die of snake bites or poison swallowing. Verdict: spurious.

Second is another passage I mentioned, Matthew 27:51b-53. Again, work has been done on this matter. This instance of Old Testament saints rising from the grave is recorded nowhere else in history, nor is it mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. Verdict: spurious.

Here's a good link on the Matthew question:

What about Matthew 27:52 and 53?

Now, granted, one must approach this with an open mind and leave all presuppositions behind. Consider the evidence and come to your own conclusions. There are many of us under the big tent of Christianity who disagree, yet live in peace with one another without resorting to name-calling. Let's keep these things business, not personal.


Billy - I should add that my post above reflects mainstream Biblical scholarship, which you will discover if you research these particular verses. I am not an outlier, nor am I in the minority on these issues.

Steve,

My tone was the result of responding to a perceived arrogance. That might just be the way he writes things. Maybe that's just how I seem in writing.

Daniel 4:10-12 is speaking of a vision as he lay in bed. You know like a dream?

And for you I have Proverbs 26:4&5.

I'll let you look that one up, you could use the practice.

Perry,

You must first prove that people who die in such a way are believers. Then the fact that everyone must die as a result of sin couldn't mean that nobody believes.


The saints being raised: many people saw it. Maybe you should consider also Lazarus and Jesus. Well, if it wasn't recorded anywhere else then it doesn't become false. Maybe you just haven't seen where it was recorded.

Leave my presuppositions behind? Ever heard of the myth of neutrality? I don't want to use your presuppositions. I haven't called any names until your buddy Steve called me a fool. Maybe you should tell him.


To close: Romans 3:4

Steve/Perry

I don't want this discussion to become polluted with rancor so i will extend an apology to both of you for any rudeness conveyed on my part. We don't see things in the same way and that's okay. There is absolute Truth and I want to be motivated in the interest of aligning my views with that Truth. I just don't think it is located where you guys say it is.

Billy,

I did not call you a fool. I pointed out that Scripture labels those as fools who are only interested in their own opinions. I ask your forgiveness if my words were perceived as antogonistic. I agree that God is always right. It seems to me that the base of the argument is critical thinking. I have no interest in being right for the sake of an argument. My interest lies in the ability to study to show myself approved to God, a workman who need not be ashamed.

Are we sure of what were disagreeing on?

1. Jesus Christ is Lord and saviour...check
2. We have all been given this good news through scripture inspired by God written by men......check
3. Said scripture is without error.....?

Is this the problem?

This is the disagreement. I don't know that it is a problem for me if you don't agree with me. I'm sure millions of people would disagree with me on lots of topics.

Steve,

One more thing, how could I be trusting my opinions if what I am trusting is written in the Bible? Those aren't my opinions. I didn't write anything in the Bible. I don't understand the logic there.

Ponder this and let me know what you think: 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Billy - you say how could I be trusting my opinions if what I am trusting is written in the Bible? We all filter what we read through our personal lens. The myth of neutrality you speak of makes it nigh impossible to read the Bible as if God were speaking directly to us, regardless of how our internal logic processes the text. There is no pastor alive who preaches, nor any Christian who reads the Bible in a totally pure, unfiltered fashion without their preconceived biases getting in the way. You read a text and form an opinion; that's the normal way humans interpret media. If I read you correctly, you assume that when you read the Bible you are privy to the pure, unaltered, unfiltered Word of God. Well, okay then. But when someone else with the same pure motives reads the same Bible you do, does some research, and reaches different conclusions, what then? Are they automatically wrong because they don't agree with you?

It doesn't sound to me as if you have done any work on the two passages I mentioned. It sounds like you are completely trusting your own interpretation and logic. If you had done research, you would discover that my opinions are aligned with mainstream Biblical scholarship on these issues. I have studied these verses.

Perhaps you are saying you are NOT aligned with mainstream Biblical scholarship, and that is your right.

I wish you well and that's about all I can say. As Groucho Marx once said, "You go Uruguay and I'll go mine."

Sounds like a good idea.

In my haste I almost sided with Groucho. However when I get a chance I will point out yet another of your many logical flaws.

Billy,

Paul wasn't adressing scripture in this passage. Thessalonians is one of the earliest written letters of Paul's so do you see that it's very unlikely if not impossible that by "Word of God" in your mentioned verse he meant "the Bible". While it sounds good to suit your point the verse is simply not applicable to the discussion.

Billy I believe in total depravity. Not in the sense that we are ultimately deprave, but instead every function of what is man(including our mind and ability to reason) is affected by the curse and thus effected by depravity.

My argument in a whole is that God is right. I believe everything He said. Even if I find contradictory claims within the Bible or claims based in the Bible that are contradicted by science.

Belief in perfection in the Bible is not commanded by God in the Bible. Belief in Jesus Christ is.

I believe that both 2nd Corinthians 3:6 and Galations 4 and 5 are appropriate for our discusion.

Billy I have two questions for you.

1. Is God's absolute truth observable within the Bible?

2. Is God's absolute truth observable within nature?

Steve

Were you referring to 1 Thessalonians 2:13? I was actually switching gears with that verse. What I was wanting to emphasize was how Paul says that they thanked God that the people received the word of God as what it really is and was at work in them as believers. This is how I view a persons ability to understand the things that God shows them. I don't claim to understand everything in the Bible, but I want to. I think Paul was talking about the Gospel.

I am Calvinistic in my understanding. I didn't try to be. One day my friend asked me a series of questions that I, unpersuaded, acknowledged that I agree with and then realized that calvinists and myself think alike. I was surprised. I live in an area dominated by southern baptists so some of my views are not popular; mainly limited atonement. My point is, I do believe in total depravity. I don't try to, I just do.

I believe God as well. Interestingly enough, I believe God has shown me things and then I find similar instances in the Bible that confirm the "life lessons".

I know what you're saying about belief in Christ. I think commanding belief in the perfection of the Bible is a somewhat odd concept. I think God could maintain the Bible to ensure that Christians have an accurate guide to help us in life.

They are appropriate as well as Romans 7.

If I understand your questions I would have to say yes to both. At least with the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Sometimes I have a hard time describing what I mean when I say that God has shown me things. Some of which I can't even describe in words because I can't usually find a good reference point from which to launch the exposition. That may seem strange but I don't think I am alone.

No Billy your not alone at all in that.

I to have many Theistic views that I simply can't put my finger on the direct source of there Genesis. The only rational (and also supported by scripture) explanation I have for this is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in me. Teaching me. Glad we see eye to eye on that brother:)

Steve

Hi!

"Belief in perfection in the Bible is not commanded by God in the Bible. Belief in Jesus Christ is."

Would you say that Jesus was perfect?

Louis,

"Would you say that Jesus was perfect?"

Yes I absolutely would. I could only say so because the Bible says so. I phrased that sentence wrong. The idea that the Bible as a document is perfect and we as believers are commanded by God to believe it is, is what I was adressing. I believe that it is complete or perfect for thoroughly equiping the man of God for all good works or righteousness depending on the translation one uses as 2nd Timothy states.

Steve

I think that the way Greg puts it might be helpful in our thinking about this issue of inerrancy of the bible. It is inerrant in what it affirms. As an example, it never affirms that the earth has four corners. It merely uses the expression to affirm something completely different and unrelated to the issue of the shape of the earth. Do you think that might be helpful?

Louis,

"It is inerrant in what it affirms"

I couldn't agree more and yes this is most definitely helpful. My question becomes; was the purpose of the Bible to explain "all things" to us or the truths that relate directly to God and His charector including His relationship to man; past, present, and future?

Furthermore at what point is exogesis neccesary in our attempt to understand the lesser exclamated points of scripture?

Interesting. Of course, the now dead snake handler could have done what the Snake man http://www.snakeman.com.au does with his deadly snakes. He has them surgically modified so that they cannot give a fatal bite, by having their venom glands removed. The snakes look normal, keep their fangs, but if and when the bite happens, nothing else does.

Steve

"My question becomes; was the purpose of the Bible to explain "all things" to us or the truths that relate directly to God and His charector including His relationship to man; past, present, and future? "

I don't think it was meant to explain all things. It seems to me more of a blueprint for restoration of a broken relationship between man and god. The extent that our understanding of god's nature and character and the world around us is necessary to mending that relationship is what has been revealed in the text. The reason that some of the writing seems out of clear focus to so many is because its focus is on the main ideas that matter, while leaving the less (or perhaps not at all) important periphery out of focus.

"Furthermore at what point is exogesis neccesary in our attempt to understand the lesser exclamated points of scripture? "

As every blueprint, the bible has a purpose. What does not serve that purpose is not something that we need worry about that much. Which is why I think the things it affirms are important, because they are key elements of the blueprint and the grand plan of God.

Louis, I could not agree more!

Thank God for common sense!
And talking common sense and the original story, I note that if a snake shows and ruins your party, get the horses and everyone else out of the way! Best to call a reptile catcher or handler to deal with the problem.
All the best

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