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October 21, 2015

Comments

Perry,

all of your responses grow from a position that the Bible is the Word of God.

That would be false. In fact only one of my statements in response to you grows from a position that the Bible is the word of God.

When I said that "Throwing what God says under the bus doesn't strike me as very loving towards God." this grows from a position that the Bible is the word of God - but my point was to draw attention to the question begging nature of your own comments.

Every other statement I said in response to you did not grow from or presuppose that the Bible is the word of God. That's easy to see if you just look at what I said. For instance I said that "That's a straw-man. No one said different opinion = wolf in sheep's clothing." That statement doesn't grow from or presuppose that the Bible is the word of God. I said "Which side-steps the question of whether (or in what sense) the Bible is God's word. Try plugging this into your statement: ..." And that statement doesn't grow from or presuppose that the Bible is the word of God (it only points that your own statement only makes sense if we presuppose that it isn't the word of God). etc.

Walk behind that starting point, and then deal with my statements. If I don't begin with premise that the Bible is inarguably tne inerrant Word of God, then I can comfortably say Yes, God is bigger than the Bible.

I did already deal with your statements: I demonstrated that they beg the question by simply assuming that the Bible is not the word of God.

Fundamentslism has a low ceiling. People are either comfortable there (there is a certain safety in being told what to believe), or they yearn for more. My journey started with R.C. Sproul's THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS, which turned my preconceived notions on their heads. Actually, Greg Koukl himself planted the seed over 20 years ago when, in a locker room, he told me he didn't believe in the Rapture. At the time, it was a scary position to question such a dogmatic Evangelical belief. I thank him for showing me nothing is above questioning, and furthermore, we should not be frightened if a formerly long-held belief needs to be ditched.

My own journey towards liberalism started when I was 6. Up until that time I had always assumed that broccoli was a horrible food. Then one day my mom said to me "Why not just try it?" I did and discovered that it was actually quite good. At the time, it was a scary bite to take. Thanks, mom, for showing me that nothing is above trying and furthermore, we shouldn't be frightened if a formerly long-held belief needs to be ditched.

Hi, a little on my background as well. As many may have figured out I too was an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian going first to a Foursquare church and then Calvary Chapel. Was born again and baptized around the age of 20 and stayed a fundie for 30 years. I have some very fond memories and some tainted ones too. The fond memories outweigh the tainted ones but none of the experiences have anything to do with my current beliefs. I understand the deep desire to defend the faith at all costs and at one time was going to sign up with STR to become an Ambassador or something like that. Before the Internet I was at the local Christian book store regularly buying up of books in regards to all issues of the faith including but not limited apologetics. One day I decide to take a small step and consider a position that would not fit into my fundamentalist dogma. It was a scary step for me. Slowly I become more open to other points of view but it was difficult. When I first felt my dogma falling apart I was sick, like when you lose a girl friend you love. I couldn't eat for weeks. So, I do regret to some extend my initial posting to this site because I don't want to hurt anybody however on the other hand I felt like speaking out because I've been holding all this inside for many years now. Most of my family are fundamental Christians and if I told them my current beliefs I sure it would cause anxiety and fear. So my posting was just to get some of this off my chest and I do wish everybody very happy lives and all the best in whatever path your faith leads you in.

Kind regards,
Mike

Mike,

I haven't had time to read WL and DGF comments. If I ever get caught up on my work I'll I may go back and read their comments and respond.

Since WL and DGF responded to you you've had time to write almost 2,000 words in response to me and in simply restating your original point two times.

Lesson:

Perry and Mike were once scared fundamentalists that weren't open to considering other viewpoints. Then one day they didn't know how to defend one of their viewpoints and now they are brave and free to make astounding logical claims like "He / they omit the OT from his statement of the NT being historically accurate implying that the OT is inaccurate."

If only the rest of us scared, closed minded fundies had the courage to admit the truth of such logic. Alas, we can but cower in the corner and envy such irrationality bravery.

Hi, a little on my background as well. As many may have figured out I too was an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian going first to a Foursquare church and then Calvary Chapel. Was born again and baptized around the age of 20 and stayed a fundie for 30 years. I have some very fond memories and some tainted ones too. The fond memories outweigh the tainted ones but none of the experiences have anything to do with my current beliefs. I understand the deep desire to defend the faith at all costs and at one time was going to sign up with STR to become an Ambassador or something like that. Before the Internet I was at the local Christian book store regularly buying up of books in regards to all issues of the faith including but not limited apologetics. One day I decide to take a small step and consider a position that would not fit into my fundamentalist dogma. It was a scary step for me. Slowly I become more open to other points of view but it was difficult. When I first felt my dogma falling apart I was sick, like when you lose a girl friend you love. I couldn't eat for weeks. So, I do regret to some extend my initial posting to this site because I don't want to hurt anybody however on the other hand I felt like speaking out because I've been holding all this inside for many years now. Most of my family are fundamental Christians and if I told them my current beliefs I sure it would cause anxiety and fear. So my posting was just to get some of this off my chest and I do wish everybody very happy lives and all the best in whatever path your faith leads you in.

Kind regards,
Mike

Sorry, I posted twice my accident.

I didn't respond to those other guys because I didn't realize they had addressed their comments to me. Others were objecting to the 12 statements and I thought their comments were point at some one else.

Best regards,
Mike

Remington - tone down the snark, please. It's not necessary. It's an all too-typical fundamentalist response to an alternate viewpoint. Rise above.

I can only say that my faith in God is no less now than when I considered myself an Evangelical. I don't see my faith in God as dependent on agreeing to certain dogmas. Faith is faith, not a set of supposedly evidential beliefs.

God's blessings to you all.

Perry,

Tone down the caricatures of fundamentalism, please. It's not necessary. It's an all too-typical liberal response to an alternate viewpoint. Rise above.

Perry,

On a more serious note: the Bible itself uses what can be called "snark" (e.g., Elijah). Furthermore, my "snark" exposes the shallowness of the patronizing picture you are trying to paint of fundamentalists.

That you were a scared fundy doesn't mean anything to me, since I'm not a scared fundy. If someone else here is a scared fundy then they should realize they have no reason to be scared even if they are and remain a fundy. Grand standing on your ability to face facts rings hollow given the poor showing made here in dealing with facts and arguments.

All right. You win. I'm not trying to win converts, just share my point of view. All the best to you.

I hereby declare that everything that Remington's great-grandson writes will be true.

In a thousand years, someone with too much time on his hands, maybe his name is D.G. Fischer XLIV, looks at a book written by Remington's great-grandson, let's say that its title is My Dog Rover. He also reads the comments in this blog (remember, he has too much time on his hands). He then says that WL endorsed everything in My Dog Rover as true.

But an oh-so clever commentator, also with far too much time on his hands, says "You idiot DGF XLIV! My Dog Rover wasn't written when WL was alive...so you see WL couldn't have endorsed everything it says as true."

Is it simply a matter of opinion whether WL endorsed My Dog Rover as true?

Perry:

"Fundamentslism has a low ceiling. People are either comfortable there (there is a certain safety in being told what to believe), or they yearn for more. My journey started with R.C. Sproul's THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS."

You are exactly right... fundamentalism has a low ceiling... That's because God's Word doesn't leave a lot of room for distortion or stretching or hammering. It says what is says. Given the choice (thankfully) I prefer to draw my instruction and knowledge from the Word of God rather than the word of RC Sproul. In short, my journey started with Jesus, and I continue to walk with Him rather than accepting the doctrine of men.

Moreover, I don't understand why you're insinuating that fundamentalism is not a good thing, other than it being too restrictive for your lifestyle. Every true Christian is a fundamentalist... that's what the term means... fundamental. If you reject the fundamental teachings of Christ, you are rejecting Christ. How does this escape you? I think you may be experiencing the delusion which men spread. Try to stick with God's Word.

If you try to perform complex math without applying its fundamentals, you will fail. You cannot do Calculus unless you follow the fundamental rules of addition, subtraction, etc.

Seriously, friend... If you are rejecting fundamentalism, you need to lay aside your RC Sproul books for awhile and do more study in the Word of God. I have nothing against RC Sproul or any other man until he departs from the clear teaching of the Bible.

Pray about it...

"Pray about it" is simply a way of saying "once you see it my way, you'll be alright."

You must step away from dogma in order to see it for what it is.

Many Christians, men and women of sincere faith, approach the Bible with a prayerful attitude, desiring to know the "truth." Even then, they walk away with different conclusions. That's the result of any reader interacting with a text. The Bible is not exempt from that approach.

We all belong to different schools within Christianity; otherwise, there would be no denominational differences. Are you suggesting one denomination (yours) is correct, then, and all others are in error?

I have studied the Bible extensively too, and have walked away with maybe different conclusions than you. That makes you and me neither right nor wrong. We have just reached different conclusions, that's all.

Perry-

I think if two people reach contrary conclusions, at least one of them is wrong.

"I think if two people reach contrary conclusions, at least one of them is wrong."

In some cases, yes. In terms of Biblical interpretation, I think not. There is much we don't know or understand. A translation of the Biblical books into English or any other language already carries with it some degree of others deciding meaning for us. Otherwise, why so many schools within Christianity? Maybe both of those people are wrong.

I am comfortable with "I don't know" as a final answer; I don't need to be "right."

>> I am comfortable with "I don't know" as a final answer; I don't need to be "right."

And yet, there is the need to address those matters that are "wrong" in light of Scriptures.

Much of the discussion reminds me of the "book report." In relating the contents and intents on a student's selection, I am open to many interpretations; but I need to be wary of expressions that demonstrate that the book was not read at all, or question some idea that seems to prove a superficial reading.

As to the point made some time back about the superior debating qualities of Richard Dawkins and his bunch ... talk about drop jaw disbelief!

Dawkins tends not to debate "people of faith" due to an alleged inadequacy of academic acumen ... so he says. The truth is he had once done so in defense of his "God Delusion." The Dawkins-Lennox debate was clearly won by Lennox, whose cheerful disposition showed his opponent merely a sour curmudgeon. When William Lane Craig came to the UK, the top four members of the British Humanist Society passed on the opportunity to debate Craig. Kudos to the fellow who accepted (Law, I believe, was his name) who did face Craig, but the debate was hardly a refutation of the theist position.

Here is a link of a Sam Harris vs William Lane Craig debate, it is only a short 10 minute video of Mr. Harris' rebuttal but please watch it in its entirety and then go back and watch the full debate. The full debate lasts over 2 hours so you need a lot of time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HthQ6a7FZeA


It's not a matter of interpretation, Perry, its a matter of logic. If you an I hold incompatible views, one of us is wrong. We might both be wrong, but at least one of us is wrong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HthQ6a7FZeA

Classic example of cherry-picking. Ten minutes of Harris offering The Problem of Evil Argument. Not a second of WLC. Even the title of the site is demeaning: Dr. Harris versus "Dr." Craig. Typical new atheist view: if not in agreement with new atheist dogma, you end up less than academic.

I've seen many WLC contra mundum atheistae debates. It goes: WLC offers argument(s) for God, such as the kalaam cosmological argument or the moral argument. Opponent counters by avoiding these arguments and hoisting the line such as Harris offers. WLC responds in more than "God is mysterious" to refute. Opponent refuses to address original point WLC and turns to moral monster mentality. The only advantage the opponent has is speaking last (Law held this advantage, plus he did, to his credit, begin to attack the cosmological and moral arguments).
So, as to watching the full two hour debate, I'll pass.

I've most likely seen this one anyway.

My point (and WL's as well) is the lack of logical thought at times. Case in point:

Dawkins' request to his listeners at the Reason Rally for the use of ad hominem and appeals to ridicule in addressing theists. The use of logical fallacy says little for the logical capabilities.

Larry Krauss' use of noise-makers in his debates in Australia with WLC. Infantile.

TD, I know the point you wish to make is that atheists do well in debate. I've listened to enough Unbelievable! debates (UK radio show which holds to a high standard of integrity in allowing both sides to express opinion clearly without bias) to know this for a fact.

I just also know of times they don't do as well or as commendably as they should.

Sir, there were some points I felt that were better expressed by Mr Harris than if I had tried myself and it saved me for doing a lot of typing. Sam Harris is dispassionate, funny and has a common sense logic to his arguments.

Regarding Perry, in my opinion, he is just being courteous and polite blogger, not wanting to step on anyones toes. I'm sure Perry and everyone of us understand the rudimentary logic involved.

I am trying, really, I am...and thank you!

As I glanced through the blog I noticed things got a little crazy or as one put it snarky, I think that is the word used. That really saddened and disappointed me. Someone mentioned Elijah as justifying the snarkiness however here is what your Lord said:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

And here is some advice from Paul:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


TD-

I took Perry at his word.

He said that in some matters, in particular in Biblical interpretation, there is no right or wrong. I assume that he believes that in some matters, in particular in Biblical interpretation, there is no right or wrong.

In light of the fact operation of logical principles is central to the argument under discussion, I would hope that when Perry, verbally denies the core logical principle that for any two incompatible claims at least one is false, that he really is denying it and not trying to spare anyone's feelings.

The operation of logical principles is central to the argument under discussion. If Perry really thinks that logical principles operate the same in the area of Biblical interpretation as they do everywhere else in human thought, but then says that they don't operate the same, don't you see how he would be sowing confusion?

I don't think Perry is the kind of guy who does that.

Perry,

Wisdom Lover wrote:

I think if two people reach contrary conclusions, at least one of them is wrong

You responded:

In some cases, yes. In terms of Biblical interpretation, I think not.

Not in some cases -- In all cases.

What I may not have said too eloquently, I will try to place in a real-life situation:

There are several schools of eschatology within Christianity: premillenial, postmillenial, amillenial, and preterist (I may have missed one). Proponents of each school have studied the Bible, and have come to different conclusions. Is one right and the others wrong? Maybe, but not entirely. Are all right? Probably not. May all views contain elements of truth? Quite possibly.

Assuming all proponents are of sincere faith and motives, is it necessary to argue "I'm right, and you're wrong?" Or is it more helpful to listen, ask questions, and maybe walk away a little more knowledgeable?

Does it help to say "Pray about it?" "Study harder?" "Don't listen to men, just trust the Lord?" It is rather insulting to assume you have studied better or harder than the other guy.

No one has studied the Bible without the aid of those who have come before us. People who write books about the Bible have studied, too, most certainly. Our internal logic works hand-in-hand with our understanding and we deem one view more plausible than the other. This goes for a myriad of other Biblical schools (Calvinism, for example).

That's my point - we all study, and may come to different conclusions. We shouldn't become embattled over it. Let us learn from each other.

Peace, my brothers.

Regarding Perry, in my opinion, he is just being courteous and polite blogger,

Thank you, Captain Obvious!!

If nothing is achieved in this wonderful line of posts, let it be declared that I have always known Perry Shields to be an elegant responder to all matters he takes care to offer opinion. No rancor but the best in that mode called the gentle art of self-expression.

If we fail to agree (happens you know), we still regard each other with the respect deserved.

Bravo, Perry. And good night.

But I have been known to say nasty things about people's grandmothers. And I steal cookies.

Am grateful for civil discourse on Christian blogs because they are so few and far between. You have the typical, all-knowing Christian(s) (as witnessed here) who are apparently entitled to their condescension and snarky attitudes, and then you have those who graciously, thoughtfully express their thoughts - not trying to lead anyone astray, not trying to weaken anyone's faith, but simply with questions and study that (reasonably) lead to more questions in hopes of finding answers. Out of a love for Christ there are those seeking answers - and out of pride, those seekers are knocked down "in Jesus name." Thank you, Perry, Mike, and DG Fischer for your humility, humor, and insights. To God be the Glory and may we all learn from each other. God forbid we ever believe we've nothing left to learn. Grace and peace.

is it necessary to argue "I'm right, and you're wrong?" Or is it more helpful to listen, ask questions, and maybe walk away a little more knowledgeable?
If your view is incompatible with mine "I'm right, you're wrong" goes without saying. For it is implicit in the very fact that I have my view. This does not stop me from listening, asking questions etc. Nor do I see why I should see the slightest tension in these two approaches.

A good night's rest and now ready to conclude my thoughts.

>> There are several schools of eschatology within Christianity: premillenial, postmillenial, amillenial, and preterist (I may have missed one). Proponents of each school have studied the Bible, and have come to different conclusions

Yes, and in time all but one (granting WL's point that all may be wrong) will be proven wrong. The question is when "it" was wrong, when proven so, when the idea was expressed, or when the idea was first conceived in thought?

A fair comparison. We are ready for the World Series. Royals. Mets. There will be advocates for both teams. One will be backing the "wrong" team. Now, time will tell for those who say "The *** will win the World Series." And are backing the loser.

Now, when is "wrong"? From the moment this assertion is made, or after the last out? Is it more "wrong" if the Series is over in four games (earlier if the winners have a sizable lead in the early innings?) or less "wrong" if it runs the full seven (with the last game going into extra innings)?

What WL speaks of is logic at its most formal. If "A," then "non-A" is impossible. the establishing of true determining that which is false.

>>God forbid we ever believe we've nothing left to learn.

Granted. But I would be more frightened in denial of what Scriptures clear states and what we could easily learn, except for simply sinful pride.

And Christ states more than "Love one another." (Important an easy on the mind).

He also stated "Take up your cross and follow Me." (Important, but makes one uncomfortable).

"They will lay their hands on you and persecute you." (Important, but makes one pause).

In short, the full teaching of Jesus, which needs constant study, and respect for the document which offers Gospel which makes fullest sense in the shadow of Law.

My last comments for this post. And I return ..

Grace and peace.

As I glanced through the blog I noticed things got a little crazy or as one put it snarky, I think that is the word used. That really saddened and disappointed me.
What a bunch of baloney. This is just the typical partisanship I would expect. I only got snarky with Perry when Perry got condescending towards fundamentalists. Mike jumped in on the condescension. But Perry and Mike get a free pass on his condescending tone towards fundamentalism and Perry gets to act like the injured doe by the fact that I exposed the hollowness of his and Mike's anecdotal caricature.
Someone mentioned Elijah as justifying the snarkiness however here is what your Lord said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." And here is some advice from Paul: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I don't presume that Perry is my brother. I don't know anything about Perry except that he rejects fundamentalism and Perry thinks doctrines are "man-made" (his words). By his own confession that would seem to imply that doctrines like the physical resurrection or the doctrine of the trinity are man-made. That puts Perry outside the camp of Christianity.

Also, you can't isolate what Jesus and Paul said about love and ignore how they actually interacted with people. Paul was "snarky" (Gal. 5:12). People like to duck behind isolated verses of Jesus being accepting or loving while ignoring Jesus' calling people "vipers". When I quoted the verse warning about wolves Perry's response was about cultish name calling. But I was quoting Jesus, so by Perry's standard Jesus is also guilty of being unloving (unless he thinks it's loving to be guilty of cultish name calling).

That's a typical leftist strategy: you can dish out whatever condescension you please, but if anyone replies to you with a their own serrated edge then you act hurt and make the focus to shame them.

It's easy to play these sorts of games:

Sorry, Talking Donkey, but I seem to recall Jesus saying something about loving one another. And I just don't think your partisanship support for Perry and his condescending attitude towards fundamentalists is very loving towards me. I was very saddened and disappointed when I read it. Remember that all men will know you are Christ's disciple by your love. And also remember the fruit of the Spirit, Talking Donkey, against such things there is no law.

But now that we've all talked enough about how Perry

Comment was cut off:

But now that we've all talked enough about how Perry has been injured by what was surely the most egregious attack delivered thus far in 2015, by yours truly, perhaps we can drop the circle-the-wagons-for-my-party shame game and talk about the issues themselves.

Can Perry coherently claim that doctrines are man-made? I asked him a long time ago whether this meant doctrines like "God is love" etc. are man made and I never got an answer. Or why should we move from the possibility of different, opposing doctrines having only elements of truth in each to the conclusion that it's actually the case that different, opposing doctrines only have elements of the truth in each?

DGFischer,

If I say, “The Royals will win the World Series,” I am either wrong or right from the moment the words come out of my mouth.

Just because we do not have the definitive answer at the time I make the claim, it doesn’t refute the fact that I am either wrong or right at the moment I make the claim.

That’s way it’s a totally normal and rational thing to say after the Series, “Ha! You said the Royals would win, but you were wrong”.

Whatever makes ya'll better Christians, I'm all for it.

Good Morning Remington,

Thank you for typing out my full name, I appreciate that.

Nonetheless you seem incapable of just saying "sorry" and meaning it, you are always on the attack. The very least you could do is leave your sarcastic tone behind. You can spot a wolf a mile away but can't recognize a clanging cymbal. You are filled with knowledge but thats it.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.…

2 Peter 2:16 (well - revised version let's say)
But Remington was stopped from his mad course when a talking donkey rebuked him with a human voice.

Observing I see:

Mike Evans wrote:

I say keep the faith dude if that is your comfort zone.

I picked this quote because it sums up Mike’s and others tone on this thread. It’s the, “I’m open-minded, no one knows who is right, but it’s not you” tone.

Others frequently play this card then inevitably they play the victim.

Finally, they pat themselves on the back for being the most civil and loving.

It’s just so boring, isn’t it?

It’s amazing I made it through the thread.

But, Mike, Perry and Cindy – just to beat you to it, I always try to be civil and I try to love everyone!

I'm just point out my opinion and what I see.

Happy posting!

Hi, immediately after I wrote and posted "I say keep the faith dude if that is your comfort zone" I was regretful. However then the attacks came and I forgot to apologize for the condensing tone, which I do now. I am sorry, please pardon me.

Kind regards,
Mike

Talking Donkey,

I see nothing to apologize for. The only two offending posts I made (the broccoli parody and the "us scared fundy" spelling-out of how Mike and Perry were framing the opposition) are rather mild and hardly worth all the hubbub that you and others are trying to make of it. Perry and Mike took on a condescending tone towards fundamentalists and I poked fun at it.

It's a distraction technique. People care more about whether you're wearing a (false) smile on your face and speaking in a sing-song tone as you condescend to those who disagree with you than the substance of what you're actually saying.

But Remington was stopped from his mad course when a talking donkey rebuked him with a human voice.

Ever heard of the humble brag?

So, moving past the victim and shame focus that we often love to indulge in...

If doctrines are man made, does this include doctrines like the doctrine of the Trinity?

Or does Perry want to qualify the claim to say that some doctrines are man made and some are not?

If the latter is the case, then the original claim Perry made about doctrines being man made doesn't do anything to address the issues at hand: which ones are man made and why should we think so?

Granting that it's possible that no theological position has the "whole truth" why should we think it's actually the case that some particular doctrine (e.g., the NT teaching that Jesus is God) is only a vague approximation at some truth? It's possible that Perry is only dreaming this whole conversation right now... But clearly the mere possibility of such a thing does not warrant Perry's thinking it is so.

Please read my post a few above this where I use eschatology as an example. I have tried to condense my point there. Thank you.

Perry,

Your post using eschatology as an example is exactly what I had in mind when I talked about moving from possibility to actuality (or probability for that matter).

Is one right and the others wrong? Maybe, but not entirely.

Pointing out that it's possible one is right and all the others are wrong is dialectically useless. It's possible that you're dreaming right now.

What you need to do is give us some reason to think the position is actually not entirely wrong.

Are all right? Probably not.

Since the views are mutually exclusive there is no "probably" about it. They are certainly not.


May all views contain elements of truth? Quite possibly.

Again, speaking of mere possibility is dialectically useless. If we are going to think that all views contain elements of truth then we should have some reason for thinking so and may turn out that the "truths" in these other views are adequately represented in one view such and that, thus, they are irrelevant to our rejection of the over all view itself.

Assuming all proponents are of sincere faith and motives, is it necessary to argue "I'm right, and you're wrong?" Or is it more helpful to listen, ask questions, and maybe walk away a little more knowledgeable?

This is assuming an entire ideology where sincerity matters than truth. That's a foreign ideology to the Bible. Paul lamented that the Jews had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

That's my point - we all study, and may come to different conclusions. We shouldn't become embattled over it. Let us learn from each other.

You speak in broad generalizations and assume that this can be applied to any specific case we come along. Jesus didn't approach any viewpoint as if it were a matter of indifference what conclusion we came to. Neither did Paul. Some differences (e.g., eschatology) are minor and some (e.g., the deity of Christ) are not.

Like I said...whatever makes us better Christians, I'm all for it.

Perry,

Like I said...whatever makes us better Christians, I'm all for it.

Most Christians are. However, sometimes what makes us better Christians is the messy pursuit of accurate knowledge.

WisdomLover said:
I think if two people reach contrary conclusions, at least one of them is wrong.

It's not a matter of interpretation, Perry, its a matter of logic. If you an I hold incompatible views, one of us is wrong. We might both be wrong, but at least one of us is wrong.

KWM said:
Not in some cases -- In all cases.

I couldn't agree more with both of you, and I can't understand why so many people have distorted views of truth.

There is only one truth although many versions, or interpretations exist.

One dictionary defines truth simply as reality, which clearly supports the argument for objective truth. Whatever actually happened in the past or will happen in the future is truth, regardless of whether it was witnessed, or how it's interpreted.

The fabled blind men who encountered the elephant all gave different observations, but that didn't change the elephant.

This has been a thoroughly enjoyable discussion, but for the most part I would have to agree with Mike and Perry.

If the 12 statements listed in the original post are the basis of an argument for an inerrant Bible, then there isn't much solid ground to stand on, particularly in those statements that assume the truth of words in the Bible to support the conclusion of the truth of the words in the Bible.

I find nothing in the Bible or anywhere else to confirm that Jesus claimed to be God, that the words of the Bible are the 'actual' words of God, or that 'historically reliable' translates to 'every word is true'. This may hinder my ability to 'prove' the truth of the Bible or of God, but that's not my purpose. What it does not hinder is my ability to find truth within the Bible, to walk with God or to follow the example of Jesus. In fact I think it helps me to do all three with a clearer picture of truth and of God's message.

The Bible prompts us always to seek the truth first and foremost through our own personal interaction with God. Jesus prompts us to use his life as an example and guide for own life, especially what is important to our purpose and how we interact with God and others. The Bible, the life of Jesus, evidence of miracles and the actions and words of those who walk with God are the 'finger that points to the moon', not the moon itself or even solid 'proof' that the moon exists.

So, at the risk of being misunderstood despite my best intentions, I will write here my own interpretation of the truth I have found:

1. The 'Word of God' is the pure message of God for humanity.

2. This pure message of God is as unchanging and eternally present as God Himself.
This message includes an understanding of God, His purpose for humanity and His individual call to each of us to fulfil our unique and special role in that purpose. As such, it cannot be reduced to a single discourse that is understood by the diversity of human experience across our past, present and future.

3. The Bible contains the pure message of God within a changing discourse, as interpreted by individuals at various points in the history of a limited cultural group.
Despite the best intentions, the purity of the message in the Bible is subject to the limitations of human thought, motivations and language within the various historical, cultural, political and religious contexts of author, translator and reader.

4. Jesus is the pure message of God 'become flesh'.
The life of Jesus is the most accurate empirical interpretation of God's message to humanity. The potential of a global humanity interacting with God and with each other in the way Jesus taught us by his example is the ultimate hope for all Creation.

Now, just because someone deviates from tradition or accepted Christian doctrine does not make them your enemy. Jesus taught us that. If these statements render me un-Christian in your book, then so be it - I'm not after your approval. I am simply sharing my faith as commanded by God.

Personally, I wish every Christian had the faith that Mike and Perry have shown. Faith is courage after all, not ignorance, in the face of uncertainty. It is a journey towards truth, not a fixed bunker in a war zone.

Courage, peace and love to you all.

I find nothing in the Bible or anywhere else to confirm that (A) Jesus claimed to be God, that (B) the words of the Bible are the 'actual' words of God, or that (C) 'historically reliable' translates to 'every word is true'. (Lettering added by me)
On item A, try reading the Bible again, bearing in mind that the simple absence of the phrase "I am God" attributed to Jesus is not even close to a sufficient basis for denying that He made no claims of deity.

On item B, the claim that the Bible is the word of God is the conclusion of the argument Tim gave above. Having been given a proof for that conclusion, were you thinking that even if that proof were successful, that the conclusion would still need to be proven? Does one need to always prove a second time the conclusion of one's proof.

It's like Tim said this:

  1. All men are mortal.
  2. Socrates is a man.
  3. So, Socrates is mortal.
And then you say "But I don't see any reason to think Socrates is mortal." Lines 1 and 2 are the reasons to think that. What on earth did you expect?

Sorry, but your quibble about item B doesn't make a lick of sense, and really just displays a fogginess on your part about how proofs even work.

On item C, it is no part of the argument that historically reliable implies "every word is true". It does imply things like "Jesus once uttered the words translated as 'Before Abraham was, I AM'" and "Jesus died on a cross", and "Augustus decreed a census while Herod was living." etc.

On your own personal theology, thanks for sharing.

You talk a lot about what God commands and pure messages from God and what not, but if the Bible isn't the Word of God, then your talk is full of sound and fury, but in the end, signifies nothing.

For example, how on earth do you have the first clue about whether God commanded you to 'share your faith'?

Personally, I wish every Christian had the faith that Mike and Perry have shown. Faith is courage after all, not ignorance, in the face of uncertainty. It is a journey towards truth, not a fixed bunker in a war zone.
What faith do you think Mike and Perry have shown? They've described the progressive loss of elements of their faith.

Perry at one point did make this nonsensical claim

I can only say that my faith in God is no less now than when I considered myself an Evangelical. I don't see my faith in God as dependent on agreeing to certain dogmas. Faith is faith, not a set of supposedly evidential beliefs.
Does his faith in God not depend on the dogma that God exists?

Words have meaning.

On this issue of courage in the face of uncertainty. It sounds just wuuunderful.

Precisely what cowardice in the face of uncertainty do you think has been displayed in the comments of those who disagree with Mike and Perry?

For that matter, what uncertainty have we even seen in this thread?

The only uncertainty I really have is uncertainty that a serious doubt was ever even raised by Mike or Perry. So honestly, no one's courage in the face of uncertainty has really been so much as tested.

Why do you think faith is a journey? Where on earth did you get that? That seems like a category error to me. Like talking about the way red smells.

Who said ever said faith is a bunker in a war zone? Certainly not me...that seems as much a category error as the claim that faith is a journey.

But, true or false, it's really neither here nor there. The question before us is whether the Bible is the Word of God. Who cares whether faith is a journey? Does it help us to decide that question?

WisdomLover said:

The question before us is whether the Bible is the Word of God.


One of the main reasons I believe the Bible is the Word of God is because it's simply implausible to believe that forty non-contemporaneous authors, could have colluded to bring forth such a coherent, unified message. In my opinion, divine inspiration can be the only logical explanation.



By wading into the Word of God looking for contradictions you will find them.

. . . I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes . . .


Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient . . .


As a young Christian I wrestled with many controversial issues in the Bible which seemed contradictory. I often tried to hammer my theology to fit the mold of modern science. Only when I stopped trying to chew the tough meat, and started drinking the sincere milk did I begin to grow spiritually.



By drinking the milk I learned what it really means to be born again. A baby is totally dependent on its parents and cannot question their wisdom. It doesn't know anything and must trust them for everything... nourishment, shelter, etc.



I gradually learned to let go of those things which I don't understand and focus on those which I do. I try to trust God to reveal what He wants, when He wants.



Through forty years of studying the Bible I've had to adjust my theology many times, but I can honestly say it has mostly been toward a more literal interpretation of the Bible, rather than a metaphorical one.



So, to answer the question, yes, the Bible is the Word of God, but I don't think it will be proven logically or scientifically. If you approach it trying to disprove it, you will succeed. (The knowledge of this world is foolishness to God.) But, if you sincerely seek truth you will find it in the Bible.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.


I pity people like Mike, Perry, and Carmel, who are wrestling with scripture, trying to hammer it to fit their theology rather than allowing the Word to mean what it says. I just cannot understand how anyone with more than a fifth grade reading comprehension could conclude that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. It makes me wonder if Carmel has ever actually read the Bible.



But rather than argue with them I prefer to pray for them. If they are seeking the truth they will find it.

Allen-

It seems that you are taking a foundationalist approach rather than a coherentist approach to Scripture. You start with known building blocks and build your theology based on them. You justify a theological claim, because it is based on a known foundation. Not necessarily because it all fits together in a consistent and coherent package.

I agree with that approach.

That said, I don't have much respect for the so-called Bible 'contradictions'. They are, for the most part, pretty lame.

WisdomLover said:

That said, I don't have much respect for the so-called Bible 'contradictions'. They are, for the most part, pretty lame.


I'm not sure I understand what you're saying,WL, or maybe I didn't clearly explain myself.

I don't respect the so-called "contradictions" either... not anymore that is. I've learned not to dwell on those things which I'm unable to explain, and to trust that they will be revealed when God chooses reveal them.

For example, there used to be times that something I'd read or heard could throw me into a tailspin because I didn't have an answer. I'd try to hammer my theology to resolve the so-called "descrepancy" and by doing so, allow doubt to creep in.



Experience has taught me not to doubt God's word anymore. The "discrepancies" which I thought existed were never, in fact, discrepancies, but my own lack of understanding. That's why, whenever I come up against a "seeming" contradiction now, I try not to lean on my own understanding, but to trust that God will reveal the answer in his His own time.

Apologies for the messy posts... I'm still getting used to the HTML tags.

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