People Wrote It, You Believe Them, That Settles…Nothing

David Hayward's cartoon above gets at an important issue. I suspect that very few of the Bible's authors actually thought in this way. Most genuinely believed that their dreams, their sense of conviction, indicated that God had appointed them. Some are fairly clear that they are human beings like any others, researching, discerning, and writing in a manner that requires no special divine intervention.

But what happens next – and what happens today – are the crux of the matter. The words of prophets, the letts of Paul, other writings, come to be gathered in a collection, and esteemed together as “the Word of God.” And then people later still who have no idea who gathered these texts or why have the audacity to claim “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

The Bible itself shows the problem with that stance. In Jeremiah we see prophet pitted against prophet. In the New Testament we are told to be discerning even with respect to spirits, not to mention the people who claim authority or inspiration by appealing to them. In the New Testament we also see a latecomer to the Christian faith challenging an apostle and eyewitness as being wrong.

If you idolize the Bible, instead of reading and understanding it, then you might opt for the inane bumper sticker slogans that so many in our time seem to like. But if you actually read the Bible, and learn about its history, and reflect on the significance of its contents, you will probably be more inclined to recognize a much more complex state of affairs:

People spoke it, others wrote it, still others copied it, still others collected the writings together, still others elevated the collection to the level of Scripture, others claimed that collection to be the Word of God, then the words of God.

And that doesn't “settle it.” The Bible tells me so.

 

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Given that you self-identify as a Christian, how do you reconcile your view of the Scriptures with the one the Scriptures indicate that He held?

    • TrevorN

      What makes you think there’s only “one view” in the scriptures?

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        I’m asking about the view that Christ held. Do you think that the Scriptures ascribe more than one point of view on this subject to him?

        Personally, I think his point of view is as easily discerned as James’ is – even though the views themselves are quite different.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          You are referring to the same Jesus who said that the law about divorce reflected Moses’ concession and not God’s perfect will, right?

          Haven’t we discussed this before?

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            If we have, I don’t recall a reply from you any more satisfying than the one you just gave.

            Do you really think that Jesus saying that what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy must be understood in the light of what he had written in Genesis constitutes a denial of his belief that Moses spoke for God?

            Rather than seeking to be contentious, I am genuinely curious as to how you find your “low” view of Scripture compatible with the “high” one held by the Christ you claim to be following. I’m not saying that you can’t have a good answer; I’m only saying that I cannot figure out in advance what good answer you could possibly have. Please surprise me.

            • veryrarelystable

              Yeah, you’re right, the bible is full of Jesus saying, “just check the scriptures”, “make sure you carry a set of scroll round with you and consult them”, “everyone needs to get to know the bible more, even those books which are not yet written”, “this’ll be Christianity – follow the bible”. Oh wait, no he didn’t.

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                Straw man.

                • veryrarelystable

                  Unsatisfying response. Try again.

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    You expect me to defend an argument I am not making?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I suspect he expects you to indicate how your view differs from that of modern-day fundamentalists who look things up in convenient pocket-sized Bibles that Jesus and his followers in the first century did not have.

                    • veryrarelystable

                      That’s only a tiny part of what I was saying. Jesus’ view of scripture is not the view that modern fundamentalists nor other christians have. As most people couldn’t read, the scriptures simply weren’t something they were expected to become so familiar with. According to the synoptics, Jesus’ main method of teaching was not to quote scripture, examine its meaning and draw out theological lessons. Instead it was to make up stories to which his listeners could relate without reading-skills. Modern-day christianity was totally impossible – no New Testament nor any indication that any such work was on its way; Jesus did not say “there will rise up authors after me who will write accounts and letters that are to be scriptures, and you will read them in your personal life and in church every Sunday (and more). This is not a religion he expected nor founded.

                      Yes he used texts considered scriptural from time to time (if you believe the gospel writers) but not in the way modern christians think.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Neither the literacy rates of 1st-century Jews nor the teaching methods of Jesus are in question here. What’s in question is whether or not the Scriptures are the word of God. The original post claims they are not. I pointed out that this contradicts Jesus, who believed that Moses and the prophets spoke not for themselves but for God.

                      That within the Scriptures we find occasions where the writers might speak of a personal matter, or even confess some weakness or sin, doesn’t negate the prevailing dynamic that these speakers and writers were bringing a message from God to others.

                      I should not have to account for every abuse or perversion of this point in order to make it.

                    • veryrarelystable

                      I’m not asking you to answer for “every abuse or perversion”. I’m just pointing out that no Christian holds the same view as Jesus about scriptures.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      You haven’t made that case. You simply invoked certain negative stereotypes of what you consider to be Bible-idolizing Christians.

                      It is quite possible to hold to the same view of Scripture that Jesus held, whether in antiquity when the Scriptures were fewer in number or in modern when they are greater. The quanity is a different issue from the quality.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      ” I pointed out that this contradicts Jesus, who believed that Moses and the prophets spoke not for themselves but for God.”

                      How do you know that? You might say that Luke and John record that Jesus had a high view of Scripture. Well, how do you know that they accurately recorded what He said?

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Bob,

                      If you don’t believe that we have any reliable accounts of what Jesus said then discusions about what he believed are nothing more than conjecture. And arguments about what he believed would be an utter waste of time.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      Your response is true, but beside the point. Anybody can believe anything and make up post hoc reasons to try to justify their belief. The important thing is just how much can you actually defend, without resorting to special pleading?

                      It’s one thing to claim verbal plenary inspiration of scripture, for example which, IMO, is special pleading. It’s quite another to say, “given everything written about Jesus, both canonical and non; and given the tradition that was handed down from the people who claimed to know him, and given how we think his life, death, and resurrection can be fit into one interpretation of the Tanakh, we think we’ve been able to put together a pretty good record of what He said and did.”

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Bob,

                      The point of the original post was that it’s foolish to consider the Scriptures as having come from God. Even on your view, I don’t see how you reach the conclusion that Jesus believed this to be the case.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      I don’t see that as the point of the original post. Rather, I think the point is that it’s foolish to believe that something is from God for the wrong reasons; or to make up pious sounding reasons when the actual reason is “consensus” (or, in more theological parlance, “tradition.”) The Church does itself no good by promulgating pious, but wrong, explanations.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Bob,

                      Given that you are only eschewing invalid reasons for believing that the Scriptures are from God, is it the case that you believe that there are valid reasons for believing so?

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      Sure. But that’s because I hold that all truth, whether it’s a collection of a certain set of writings, or Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, or even nature itself are from God. IMO, Einstein was just as inspired as Paul.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Einstein made no claim to be speaking on behalf of the Lord; Moses and the Prophets did. Either Moses and the Prophets were telling the truth, in which case their writings carry more weight than Einstein’s, or they were lying, in which case their writings carry less weight than his. To equate their truth content is just equivocation.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      Whether or not someone claims to be speaking on behalf of the Lord has no bearing on the truth or falsity of what they say. “Many will come in my name saying…” You have to judge the content of the message, not the messenger.

                      What Einstein said is just as true as what, say, Moses said. Now, if you want to assign weight to truth, I find that problematic. I don’t think truth is disconnected, any more than I think God is disconnected. It’s all part of one whole. Nor do I think that one part of God is more weighty that another part of God, since God has neither parts nor weights. So why do you think truth does?

                      You’re trying to impose a “sacred/secular” division to truth, which I don’t think any more exists that the “clergy/laity” distinction, as I already said.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      You lept over the key issue. Moses and the Prophets claimed to be speaking on behalf of the Lord. In doing so, they were either telling the truth or lying. Make your choice.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      The dichotomy is whether they were correct or mistaken, not really whether they were telling the truth or lying, surely.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Ian, there’s no practical difference between the two. If they were mistaken rather than intentionally lying, their claim is still untrue – and therefore the practical equivalent of a lie.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      I think the difference is significant, because the kinds of arguments you can marshall against the two dichotomies are different. So for making progress in this discussion it might be helpful to be clearer on which is in your mind.

                      Of course, you’re free to say that you are using “lying” to mean “telling an untruth, whether intentionally or not”. But I think that would make a difference to be explicit about that.

                      Being clear would make it less likely that you start out meaning lying in that encompassing way, and then use arguments which rely on its narrower sense of “intentional deceit”.

                      Just my 2c.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Ian,

                      I think distinguishing a person who is intentionally deceitful from one who is honestly mistaken is a helpful idea when it comes to determining the degree of culpability for promulgating a falsehood. That arena, however, is not where my thoughts or the orginal post is focused.

                      Rather, the focus is on whether these writings (i.e. the Scriptures) that have come to us consist of messages that originated in the heart of God, or, like Einstein’s books, in the hearts of men.

                      It is quite similar to the question Jesus asked the Pharisees: “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” In other words, was it something that John, in his most earnest and pious thinking, thought was a good idea for pleasing God…or was it something that God sent him to do?

                      Jesus wasn’t asking the Pharisees to decide if John was intentionally deceiving or honestly mistaken. He was asking if John’s mission was John’s idea or God’s. They knew the import and implications of the question, which is why they equivocated instead of giving a direct answer.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Mike, I don’t think we’re disagreeing. That’s not quite what I mean.

                      Let’s say there are three categories: Being Correct, Being Mistaken, and Being Deceitful.

                      All I mean is, generally, if you ask if someone is lying or telling the truth, it is easy for the person hearing you to infer that you are putting the important divide between Being Mistaken and Being Deceitful. So, it isn’t uncommon for someone to be spoken of as telling the truth, if they are mistaken.

                      But you actually want to put the divide between being Correct and being Mistaken. Which is fine. I don’t disagree that’s where it belongs in this discussion (hence my interjection).

                      All I was saying is that the language of ‘telling the truth or lying’ to me (and it seems to Bob, since several of his responses argue the point) more naturally implies the first distinction than the second. And that the important distinction seems to be between whether they are right or wrong. That the word ‘lying’ means something different to you is fine, it is just about being clear. Otherwise we can spend forever arguing about things we agree on, or worse, arguing about the definition of words.

                      In discussions we should all be flexible and smart enough to make adjustments in the way we hear words used by others, even if the definition that person uses aren’t one’s we’d use ourself normally. There is no point arguing over what words ‘really mean’. So I’m not saying you are wrong, I just wanted to be clear what it was you are saying.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      So here is my question, rephrased in your language:

                      Jesus believed that Moses and the Prophets were correct and not mistaken (i.e. right and not wrong) when they said that they brought messages from God, and thus he considered their messages the word of God. If you call yourself a Christian, why don’t you agree with him?

                      This was my question to James about his post – a question he has yet to clearly answer. As for Bob, he has dodged it, too, and I don’t think this re-wording is going to make him any more willing to answer it than he has been.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Thanks for the clarification. I too am interested to know to what extent different Christians consider the beliefs of Jesus to be authoritative. Given what James has said before about Jesus’s comments about Genesis, I strongly suspect he doesn’t think modern Christians should model their beliefs about scripture on Jesus. But I’ll shut up now and let the conversation happen ;)

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      It strikes me as an altogether odd notion that a Christian would not consider the beliefs of Christ authoritative. That would seem to be the defining characteristic of someone who chose not to be a Christian.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      It doesn’t strike me as odd at all. I think the idea that the incarnated Jesus was omniscient doesn’t strike me at all as being part of a core Christianity, now or historically. In fact the super-human earthly-Jesus thread of Christian tradition is rather a minor one.

                      So if Jesus is not all-knowing as a human being from the moment of his birth, then presumably he’d have said and thought things he was taught about the world that were typical of his time and culture. And if those things are wrong, then so was he. So it is perfectly reasonable to look at the gospel tradition with the hard-won knowledge of the last 2000 years, and try to separate things he couldn’t possibly have known the truth of, from the principles he taught, which are still valid.

                      The latter quest isn’t mine, as a non-Christian, of course, but it strikes me as perfectly reasonable that one approaches the recorded teachings of Jesus that way.

                      The idea that ‘a belief in a Jesus who knew everything’ is a litmus test for authentic faith seems very contrived to me.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Then it is a contrivance of your own making, for I did not say anything about Jesus being omnisicent in the flesh nor do I even think it.

                      If being a Christian means considering Jesus as something other than “Lord” (i.e. “authoritative”) – a point on which the New Testament writers could not be more unified, then please tell me what that something other is.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Okay, don’t take my terminology too seriously. I’m not trying to mis-characterise you. I’ve no dog in the race. I’m just trying to express the line of thought. I get you disagree, but I’m not sure where along the line you depart!

                      If Jesus isn’t all-knowing, then he can be wrong, right?

                      If Jesus can be wrong, then he isn’t authoritative in general.

                      Now one can certainly say that there are times at which Jesus is authoritative, while still allowing that he could have erred. Two spring to mind:

                      1. We believe the bible is authoritative, so any words of Jesus recorded in the bible are therefore authoritative.

                      2. When Jesus spoke about God directly, then he was authoritative, because while his knowledge about earthly matters was perfectly human, his direct knowledge of God was ultimate.

                      In either case, one could say:

                      I believe when Jesus identifies the commands of God in Mark 7:9-13, he is authoritative – those commands are from God given through Moses. When Jesus discusses the divorce law in Mark 10, he is correct in saying that those laws were from Moses, not directly from God.

                      On the other question, about “Lord”, you might be using ‘authoritative’ in two different ways.

                      There is authoritative in the sense of authoritative teaching, i.e. of being an authority on a topic; and there is authoritative in the sense of having power over something or someone. The latter is the sense used in comparisons with earthly rulers, such as Lords or Kings.

                      Now, one can argue that the latter historically implied the former, but you can’t just pull in every association to a metaphor.

                      The New Testament couldn’t be clearer that Jesus is the Lord of Christians, and that God has authority over them. But it does not follow that, just because the same word is used in English, the NT teaches that Jesus’s teachings are supreme and final. In fact, the epistles suggest that Jesus’s earthly teachings were a very minor part of early Christian piety. They are barely mentioned. And, in Paul, when he does mention them on a couple of occasions, he goes on to reinterpret them or disagree with them.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord” and do not do the things that I say?” Woud this not define “Lord” in the sense that Jesus and his earliest followers used it?

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Yes, exactly.

                      Though one has to be careful not to read too much into one use of a word. Even if it had said “Why do you call me Lord, but not believe that everything I say is true,” I’m not sure you could read too much into that. Certainly if you were mining my comments for the ways I use a word, and base an argument about my worldview on it, you’d end up in the wrong place more often than not.

                      But we definitely have to be careful not to take words with multiple meanings in English, treat them as a unified concept, and read them back into the NT. Particularly not by proof-texting things that, if you squint, kindof suggest something similar to the point you’re making and then conclude you’re right. Which is what I suspect you’re doing with that quote.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      If Luke 6:46 were the only passage in the New Testament to which we could look for an understanding of what Jesus and His earliest disicples meant when they used the word “Lord,” then your cautions might be more appropriate. However, the New Testament is replete with references to this word, and leave us hard-pressed to think that this title Jesus was given doesn’t carry with it some sort of “authoritative” status.

                      Unless perhaps you think that Jesus was intended to have the same sort of authority as that possessed by England’s monarchs – which is certainly the way many Christians behave today.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Where did England’s monarchs come into it? The words in Greek and Hebrew (and, by reconstruction Aramaic) are common enough, and we can, by looking at the respective corpora, find out the ways in which they were used. I assume the England monarch is some strange combination of derision and weird American historical education.

                      hard-pressed to think that this title Jesus was given doesn’t carry with it some sort of “authoritative” status.

                      I said explicitly that, above. I’ve no idea where you got this response from. But if you’re not going to read, or take the time to understand what is written to you, there’s no point having the conversation.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      What the response follows from is your insistence that what Jesus believed about Moses and the Prophets should not be considered normative for those who call themselves by his name.

                      In any case, it’s fine with me to stop the conversation.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Hmm… But that wasn’t what I said. Or if it was, it wasn’t what I meant.

                      In conversations about what constitutes Christianity with me, you have to remember that I am always going to approach the conversation with a kind of meta-hat on, because I literally have no dog in the race.

                      So, your approach seems fine to me. It is one I’m familiar with. Of course it isn’t a position I hold, but it would be odd if I did, surely, given I don’t believe in God at all.

                      But, the position you’re arguing against (which may or may not be James’s position) is also familiar and understandable to me.

                      So if you say you find it odd, I can perhaps try to help explain why I don’t find it odd. I can express alternate understandings, and perhaps even defend them from facile mischaracterisations, and encourage you to see them in their own terms, rather than through the lens of your rightness.

                      But I don’t believe them any more than I believe your theology.

                      So I am definitely not insisting that “what Jesus believed about Moses and the Prophets should not be considered normative”, I am merely trying to explain why it isn’t considered normative by some.

                      I can also indicate where I think things that seem so obvious to you (like the association of Lord and authority of interpretation) would be seen differently by others. Why it isn’t so simply obvious if you don’t share your presuppositions. But if that conversation is to be anything other than a waste of time, it involves you trying to understand. So a response like the previous one about English monarchs and me supposedly denying that Lord connotes authority is just weird.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I wish more Christians today realized that they do accept beliefs about the cosmos and many other things that the historical Jesus didn’t and couldn’t have held to. They approach Scripture not in the manner that Jesus and other first century Jews did, but very differently. But perhaps grasping those points requires study. That is why I have focused on the example that I have, Mike. Do you accept that the “laws of Moses” reflect Moses’ will, at least in places, rather than the divine will? If not, then in what sense is your approach to those texts allegedly the same as that of Jesus?

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      I understand and agree, but that’s not the question being asked, is it?

                      There are a few issues.

                      1. Can we know what Jesus thought to be true on any topic?

                      – Let’s not fall into the everything-or-nothing trap, we can’t know everything he thought, but can we know some things?

                      2. If so, is Jesus’s view of the source of authority of some parts of the OT one of those things?

                      – So your response suggests that you think the answer is yes – you think that in some cases we can know that Jesus thought of some parts of the Torah reflected Moses will. This is a statement of what Jesus believed, based on the gospel text, in particular Jesus’s teaching on divorce, right?

                      3. If so, among those parts of the OT where we can get such information, are the parts of the OT where Jesus identifies Mose’s words with the commands of God (e.g. Mark 7:9-13)?

                      4. If so, should Christians agree with Jesus that those parts are actually from God and that the author was merely the messenger?

                      That seems to be Mike’s line of questioning.

                      I would have expected you to say yes to 3 and no to 4.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      By the way, Ian, you and James have on several occasions characterized Jesus’ explanation of the divorce issue in Mark 10 as an invention of Moses added to the word of God that he was sent to deliver. I don’t understand Jesus to be saying that at all.

                      Moses wrote Genesis for God just as much as he wrote Deuteronomy for God. The difference was that the divorce ordinance was a part of the temporal law that God was giving through Moses to ancient Israel. It was written for an ANE culture. It was not intended to apply to all people for all time. That God accommodates the hardness of our hearts is a sign of His wisdom and mercy.

                      In other words, it was God making an accommodation through Moses – not Moses editorializing.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      You’re free to see things in whatever way you like. Theology is infinitely creative. As we’ve seen before, there is literally no conceivable contradiction that can’t be resolved. And no explanation too tortuous that someone could not believe it.

                      I don’t think it was quite ‘an invention of Moses added to the word of God’. I think Jesus just disagreed with it. He disagreed with various OT passages, and was is portrayed in the gospels as being quite free with interpreting them away. Much as modern Christians do with bits of the bible that don’t fit their theology. Much as you’ve done with Mark 10, above.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      I see Jesus showing only reverence for, and trust in, what God spoke through Moses and the Prophets. While he never disagreed with them, there are, of course, occasions where he exercised his God-ordained responsibility as Israel’s Messiah to explain how their words were to be understood in the light of resurrection and the new creation which would flow from his mission.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      My point exactly :)

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Oh, how I wish that it were.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      I really don’t think you do wish it were ;)

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I don’t think that any of the Bible is “from God” in the sense that conservatives use that language, as though it were something that can be shown to have originated outside of the minds of the human authors. It may or may not have done, but I don’t think that anyone can demonstrate that it did. And so I treat these texts as the work of ancient human beings directing attention to transcendent realities and values. And I see Jesus in this instance using the Bible in a manner that is in keeping with that – playing one text off against another, in the interest of protecting women from an approach to divorce that left them extremely vulnerable in this patriarchal society. I follow Jesus’ example in this, not because I can show it to have a supernatural origin, but because I believe it to be a contextual example of doing the right thing, defending the powerless and disenfranchised.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      James, the Gospels are clear that Jesus viewed the writings of Moses and the Prophets as the word of God. That those writers might have occasionally spoken something of their own minds on a subject would be taken as exceptions to, not revocations of, that rule. I don’t see why we today can’t adopt that same point of view.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      Maybe we need to back up to make sure we agree on what the key issue is. I think that Moses was telling the truth. I also think that Einstein was telling the truth. I think that it is immaterial whether or not one claims to be speaking on behalf of the Lord. After all, Joseph Smith [et. al.] claimed to be speaking on behalf of the Lord. It adds nothing to the truth or falsity of their statements. So I don’t understand why you keep focusing on it.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      Einstein never claimed to be bringing messages from God to others, so he and his writings are out of scope for this discussion. Moses and the Prophets did make such a claim and they were either right or wrong to have done so. If their claim was true, then it’s altogether appropriate to refer to the messages they brought as the word of God.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      Einstein never claimed to be bringing messages from God to others, so he and his writings are out of scope for this discussion.

                      So you say, but my claim is that your edict is based on a faulty premise. All truth is from God; except in one case, the messenger is secondary to the message. You’re putting the emphasis on the wrong thing.

                      then it’s altogether appropriate to refer to the messages they brought as the word of God.

                      So it’s appropriate to say that some truths are not the word of God? Tell me, what is true that isn’t from God?

                    • veryrarelystable

                      Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you *were* talking about Jesus’ view of scriptures. Must be my mistake!

              • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                The gospels do happen to record Jesus saying, “just check the scriptures.” Should I list some of the passages?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              You seem not to be taking seriously the range of ways that Jesus used Scripture, including some very creative arguments that nullified laws in favor of principles and prioritized some things more than others. Calling a view of Scripture a “high” or “low” view is just a PR exercise. Many call their view high but do not take seriously the depictions in the NT of how Jesus and his followers utilized these texts.

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                I suppose it’s possible that some use “high” or “low” as a PR exercise, but I mean it to distinguish between whether one views the ideas in the writings to have been instigated by God or man.

                Clearly, Jesus viewed Moses, David, Isaiah, and the other prophets to be speaking on behalf of God. You seem to be using the variety of ways in which Jesus applied their writings to claim that he did not regard them to be speaking for God. That would have Jesus contradicting himself.

                According to the Gospels, Jesus staked his life on the belief that God spoke through Moses and the Prophets. If you believe that this calls for care in how we interpret what those writings say, then I am with you. But if you are saying that we should regard the Scriptures as the words of men the way we would any other literature, then you have distanced yourself from the person you claim to be following.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  Jesus clearly didn’t think that Moses being sent by God or soeaking for God meant that he always did so, or did so inerrantly. Even as divine spokesman, he could apparently give laws which were his own concessions rather than expressions of the divine will. Can your approach to the Bible take that completely seriously?

                  Perhaps we should also discuss why you assume that Jesus couldn’t contradict himself…

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    You seem to be saying in this answer that you believe Moses was indeed a spokesman for God, albeit one who was capable of digressing into personal views on occasion. That contradicts the thrust of your original post, which was to say that the Scriptures should not be regarded as the word of God. May I conclude that your view is that the Scriptures are a mixture of the word of God and the word of man, requiring discernment to separate the one from the other?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      How would that differ from simply “picking and choosing” some things and calling them “the Word of God”? It seems to me better to recognize that these people who we seeking to point others towards God, and to represent what they believed God wanted to say, and did so as fallible human beings. Seeking the God they pointed to seems more in keeping with their aim than seeking to identify some of their words as actually being God’s words.

                    • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                      So, in your view, Jesus was saying to his followers, “Don’t believe that the messages of Moses and the Prophets were from God, but do believe in the God that they mistakenly believed was giving them the messages.”

                      It seems an absurd point of view to hold, and altogether impossible to reconcile with the view of Scripture attributed to Jesus in the Gospels.

        • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

          There’s a good book on this by Steve Moyise called “Jesus and Scripture” which takes a detailed look at the different ways Jesus used different parts of scripture, connecting them to later Christian understanding of scripture and particularly to contemporary Jewish use. It isn’t at all clear that Jesus has one point of view without nuance on the use or status of scriptures in our OT (as the book shows in detail, our OT was not fixed at the time, so what constitutes ‘scripture’ for Jesus is a little hard to pin down, though many books are long-established by his time). In fact, Moyise looks at the range of interpretive techniques in detail, and the range of scholarly opinions on the matter too.

          As always it is easy to make handwaving generalizations, but it is worth engaging with what the NT actually says in detail. I recommend Moyise’s book.

          Incidentally, since nobody is in any rush to read things that disagree with them, I’d add that Moyise roughly concurs with your intuition on Jesus’s opinion: he did see particular scriptures as authoritative on the basis of them being messages from God.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            Then without having read the book, and relying entirely on your testimony about it, I am happy to submit it as proof of the fact that one can believe that Jesus did regard Moses and the Prophets as conveying messages for God without necessarily embracing handwaving generalizations of the kind that upset James and veryrarelystable.

            Just because someone believes something that you disbelieve doesn’t mean that they must believe it in the same way that you’ve always disbelieved it.

            • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

              Hello Mike.

              Like Evangelical scholar N.T. Wright believes, I don’t think that a true incarnation of God can mean Jesus was omniscient and inerrant. I believe he was also a Jew of his time and took for granted some historical Jewish beliefs we now know are false.

              That said it is obvious that while he did believe that Moses was inspired he didn’t consider him as inerrant as the sermon on the mount clearly shows.

              Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

              Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

              http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                Lothar,

                I avoid discussions that use the word “inerrant” because I believe that they obscure the point at hand. Such discussions tend to major on minors – seeking to camp on any seeming discrepancy in details so as to undermine the claim of inerrancy.

                I prefer to focus the important question of whether or not a prophet or Jesus wrote on spoke in his own name or in the name of God. If the prophets are speaking for God, we owe them a extra level of attention that they are not owed if they are simply giving us their own best ideas.

          • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

            Just because someone believes something that you disbelieve doesn’t mean that they must believe it in the same way that you’ve always disbelieved it.

            Yes indeed.

            • Craig Black

              Does anyone want to explore the possibility that Jesus was wrong about his view of the scriptures? Or if that is too heretical then perhaps the gospel writers may have misrepresented Jesus views? For example, if we concede that the gospel writers were fallible people, they could have injected their own opinions into the gospels, and it may be up to us to discern the truth.

              • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                If it is up to us to discern “the truth” (whatever that may be), how will you know what it is? If Jesus is wrong about Scripture, then maybe Moses was wrong about Torah, and maybe Scripture is wrong about Scripture. Where, then, is truth? How do you prove it?

                • Craig Black

                  Excellent question. That gets right to the heart of the issue. How do we know what is true? Note that we have this problem to some degree even if we consider the scriptures infallible. The easy answer here is to say that reason and science is the path to the truth, but that would be too easy. You are probably querying what sort of spiritual content can be proven to be true, a question that science can’t answer.

                  I am going to answer this question, but you probably won’t like the answer. My personal investigations lead me to the conclusion that there is not way to prove that a particular spiritual perspective is the truth or not. The only things we can label with truth value with authority are those things confirmed by science.

                  However, we can say that certain spiritual notions are helpful to certain people from a subjective point of view. It is perfectly valid to say, “I find the notion that there is an afterlife agreeable and reassuring. It has helped me tremendously through very difficult times.”

                  Thus, the domain of spirituality becomes less about finding the “one true philosophy” and more about what is helpful to the individual. Note that what is helpful to one person may not be helpful to everyone else. Ultimately I have concluded that there is no “one true philosophy”, or if there is, there is no way for me to prove it to be so.

                  • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                    Your conclusion, beginning with “my personal investigations…” is interesting, because I had a very similar conversation with my associate pastor last week. I very much disagree with the Protestant/Evangelical separation of truth into two classes, i.e. theological/salvific and everything else. It’s the Protestant equivalent of the Catholic clergy/laity distinction. Both are convenient rationalizations used to enforce a false-to-fact status quo. IMO, truth is truth. He responded, “can trigonometry lead you to salvation?” The point being that just because he can’t see a connection doesn’t mean that the connection doesn’t exist. The jury is out on this point, but I think I can see a glimmer of how to connect the two.

                    I also find interesting the near adulation of science as the only sure means to truth. Clearly, science is only directly applicable to the examination of repeatable aspects of nature. Science cannot tell you if I rolled a die and it came up three before I wrote this post. The only way you can know that is if I told you what happened, and you trust me; you saw it yourself and you trust your senses (ignoring the bong hits prior to posting), or there were witnesses to the event and you trust them. But even that is, at best, a conditional result based upon the past veracity of the parties involved.

                    Christianity is first and foremost based on a supposed historical event: the Resurrection of Jesus. As such, it isn’t repeatable, and therefore outside the direct realm of science. At best, we can use science the way a forensic technician uses DNA to try to show the guilt or innocence of someone on trial. Personally, I think that unbiased examination of the evidence shows that Jesus did, in fact, rise. YMMV.

                    “Ultimately I have concluded that there is no “one true philosophy”, or if there is, there is no way for me to prove it to be so.”

                    These kinds of self-referential statements are full of logical pitfalls. See Gödel, for example.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Hmmm… not sure you understand what science is there. Science is definitely not confined to repeatable aspects of anything. Science, in the sense that you’re arguing against, is merely empiricism that does not assume privileged observer status.

                      There may, in fact, be ways to determine the roll of your dice. At least with the help of plausible techniques. By scanning your brain, for example. Science, in this sense, is also perfect at home with witness testimony. Plenty of science gets done with human testimony in the loop. But ultimately there are plenty of historical things that are beyond empirical access. That isn’t to say that science has nothing to say about them. Science is not, generally, about what happens or can happen, but more often about reconstructing the probability distributions. So science can say that a die roll on a fair die we have no empirical access to had a 1/6 chance of being a 3. This is not a ‘no result’. This is a very important concrete result. Science can exclude all kinds of events, or at least relegate them to vanishing possibilities. You didn’t roll a 7 on a d6.

                      Science can say that people don’t rise from the dead. Therefore Jesus didn’t. You don’t need a time machine for that. Science can say that no amount of earnest believers outweighs the impossibility of resurrection from autolytic death. Science can say that, to within an arbitrary large probability, supernatural phenomena are psychological effects. And so on.

                      See Gödel, for example.

                      You may want to re-read Gödel, and figure out why his theorems didn’t negate themselves. Dilettante philosopher’s ideas of what Gödel’s incompleteness theorem implies are often rather laughable.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      There may, in fact, be ways to determine the roll of your dice. … By scanning your brain, for example.

                      That would only tell you, at the point in time of the scan, that I believed that I rolled a three. The scan would also tell you that I happen to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

                      Doesn’t help you there.

                      But ultimately there are plenty of historical things that are beyond empirical access.

                      I believe I said that.

                      Science can say that people don’t rise from the dead.

                      Only because it has overstepped its bounds. That’s the point. In our experience, and in a naturalistic framework where some processes are irreversible, it doesn’t happen.

                      Dilettante philosopher’s ideas of what Gödel’s incompleteness theorem implies are often rather laughable.

                      Is the statement, “Ultimately I have concluded that there is no ‘one true philosophy’” true or false?

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Doesn’t help you there.

                      Of course it does. Because truth is not some platonic absolute. All truth is probabilistic, and, depending on what we found in the scan, we could have varying degrees of certainty about your roll.

                      Presuming that knowledge is a predicate is the category mistake you’re making.

                      I believe I said that.

                      You did, but as I went on to show, lack of direct access doesn’t mean science can’t provide important and useful information about them.

                      Only because it has overstepped its bounds.

                      I get that you want to put bounds on it and are upset when it crosses them. Presumably so you can avoid facing up to what it says about the things you want to hide from it.

                      Regardless, I don’t accept that statement. At least you’re going to have to do better at showing why empiricism has ‘bounds’ that it should not cross, and why you think you’re correct in the bounds you’ve identified for it.

                      Is the statement, “Ultimately I have concluded that there is no ‘one true philosophy’” true or false?

                      More predicates?

                      It could be either. I don’t personally care to find out whether the speaker genuinely concludes that. Notwithstanding the linguistic dance we could do on the definition of ‘concludes’.

                      What you mean is “is the statement ‘there is no one-true-philosophy’ true or false”. To that the answer is, it depends. For some meanings of ‘philosophy’ the answer may be yes, or no, without contradiction. For other meanings of ‘philosophy’ the question may be absurd, for other meanings it may be indeterminate. Remember Wittgenstein – before assuming a philosophical problem is worth answering, make sure it is not just a trick of language.

                      I’ve met philosophy students who’ve confidently told me that, for example, Ayer’s logical positivism is clearly nonsense because it defeats itself. Few have actually read Ayer’s work to see why their criticism is so naive.

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      Because truth is not some platonic absolute.

                      So what probability should I assign to the truth of this statement?

                      Presumably so you can avoid facing up to what it says about the things you want to hide from it.

                      Such as?

                      The irony is not lost on me that you’re trying to convince me of the falsity of my position since there’s no truth to be found. “Everything is false” is a self-defeating statement.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Such as?

                      That science cannot impinge on your belief in the resurrection of Jesus.

                      “Everything is false” is a self-defeating statement.

                      Wow. You really haven’t heard a word I’ve written have you?

                      That you read “all truth is probabilistic” as being in any way similar to “everything is false” demonstrates the philosophical mistake I think you’re making.

                      I mean, of course we might disagree, but surely you can see there’s a difference?

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Missed this one:

                      So what probability should I assign to the truth of this statement?

                      As near to 100% or to 0% as you care, depending on the interpretation of a sentence snatched from an argument and forced to make sense without context.

                      The statement was intended to communicate my description of scientific truth, which in turn was a response to you saying that accessing empirical data on your die roll didn’t help me to determine what happened.

                      Language is always used in a context. Philosophical language in the context of an argument. To pull it out and expect it to do work for which it wasn’t intended is a common enough debating tactic. But it shouldn’t be confused for actually making progress in any way.

                      My point is that you have created an idea of science, that, while useful to yourself in protecting your beliefs, does not correspond with the way science is actually used, what scientists claim of it, nor the results it provides; your ideas about the ways in which philosophical and linguistic tricks can do real work in understanding what is real are naive; and the basis of these problems is your opinion that “truth is truth”. In that context, I don’t think the sentence

                      Because truth is not some platonic absolute.

                      is problematic, is it?

                    • http://stablecross.com Bob Felts

                      As near to 100% or to 0% as you care…

                      So I give it 0% and you give it 99.999%. That leaves us no common ground for discussion because we can’t seem to make any progress in iterating toward something we can agree on.

                      My point is that you have created an idea of science, that, while useful to yourself in protecting your beliefs…

                      I do have an engineering degree including three semesters of physics, many semesters of calculus and other math; thermodynamics, chemistry, materials science, astronomy, … But I also know that materialism is a proper subset of theism and that while science can say a supernatural event is unlikely, it does so on the basis of a) methodological naturalism and b) the principle of induction. Neither of which are sufficient, IMO, to override the historical evidence for the Resurrection. YMMV.

                      As to “platonic absolutes”, leaving aside platonism, is the law of (non)contradiction 100% true, 0% true, or indeterminate?

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      Hmmm… I’m not sure what you aren’t understanding about what I’m saying. But your response isn’t even disagreeing, it is just ignoring.

                      is the law of (non)contradiction 100% true, 0% true, or indeterminate?

                      Again, it depends. In an abstract formal system such as boolean logic it can hold, by definition. It is normally axiomatic in such systems (though not always, there are non-bivalent logics). In mathematical systems with probabilistic or fuzzy logics it may not hold at all (although, depending on the logical calculus, one might have a corresponding rule that allows one to calculate exclusive probabilities, and those rules may reduce to noncontradiction in extremum). For real truth claims about the real world, it is often leads to incorrect conclusions, because real truth claims rarely have excludable middles, and that is a very common mistake in reasoning. The closer one can map one’s domain of concern in real world to a chosen abstract formal system in which noncontradiction holds, the more confident one can be in using it.

                    • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                      But I also know that materialism is a proper subset of theism

                      Please demonstrate this knowledge then. If knowledge is warranted true belief, at least demonstrate that it is warranted, preferably without assuming things like platonic truth. I suspect what you mean by “know” here is “I’ve decided to believe this, because it fits my religious convictions.” Which is fine, you can define ‘know’ that way, but it doesn’t match well with your insistence that truth is a platonic absolute.

                      Science is only de-facto materialist. It is only materialist to the extent that material reality is the only thing that exists. Were the supernatural anything but a psychological invention, it would be amenable to empirical understanding. Since the supernatural is a psychological invention, it is amenable to empirical understanding as for any other psychological trait.

                    • Craig Black

                      My point regarding science is it seems to be the only domain that seems worthy to speak from authority. It is the one subject, excepting mathematics, that seems to result in the greatest measure of consensus. But even science can never know things with 100% certainty. If science isn’t completely authoritative, what authority do we have with the historical truth, for example. Thus, I lean toward agnosticism in many arenas that others have no problems speaking with authority. Science is our best attempt at truth. It is not necessarily perfect, but it is the only domain where I don’t feel like I have to be an agnostic for lack of evidence.

                      Regarding whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, I am skeptical, but open-minded. We already know there are great miracle claims here in the 21st century. The late Sattya Sai Baba, the Hindu spiritual leader, was said to perform all the miracles of Jesus, including raising the dead, allegedly attested to by thousands of contemporaneous eye witnesses that can still be interviewed today. These claims seem more convincing to me than ancient accounts from prescientific religionists, and yet both of us would probably agree the claims regarding Sai Baba hold very little weight.

                      Regarding there being no one true philosophy, it is a natural conclusion regarding how little we know with authority, and how difficult it is to come to consensus. With spiritual notions there is simply no consensus, even and especially among experts in the field of philosophy and theology. If even the experts can’t agree on these ideas how would you expect me to make a firm conclusion? No, it doesn’t make sense to proclaim a one true philosophy, at least not here and now in the 21st century.

              • http://irrco.wordpress.com/ Ian

                That would certainly be my position. I see no more reason to think Jesus was infallable in his perception of what God was saying or had said than any of the authors of the bible or any religious leader before or since.

                But Mike knows that’s my opinion. And given that Mike started this conversation by presuming that Christ is the model, I thought it wasn’t helpful to go back into that. Given that I don’t know your thoughts on it though, I’m happy for you to!

                So there are two points you raise, which are different, I think.

                1. Is the reporting of Jesus’s view of scripture trustworthy? Are we just reading what the gospel authors thought Jesus might have thought?

                2. If we can get at an authentic opinion of Jesus, does it matter what he thought? Should Jesus’s opinion of scripture be the model for contemporary folk with a modern understanding of myth and comparative religion?

                Both good points. What do you think?

                • Craig Black

                  Yes. I agree with your analysis. I personally don’t believe that there exists a “one true philosophy”, or if it does exist there is no way to confirm/prove it to be so. However, I personally prefer to think from a Pantheistic perspective, where I view all things, and especially living things as facets and expressions of God. Jesus was indeed an expression of God, but so was the Buddha, and so are you and so am I. God transcends a single personality and rather expresses itself holistically through all of creation.

                  And I would agree with you in that I think that the Christ consciousness is emergent in all of creation, and continually reveals itself through the process of cosmic, biological, social, etc. evolution. As our religions evolve, they tend to become more sophisticated. Thus, our ideas about religion today may very well be far more sophisticated then those held in ancient times. I see all things as fallible but in a sense perfect in that we are evolving towards perfection. Anyway, my 2 cents.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    The Jews didn’t believe the biblical texts were inerrant, or that they should be taken literally. Then, for over 1800 years the christian church didn’t believe the biblical texts were inerrant.

    This idea only came up in 1870, or so.

    I think that it took great arrogance to discount 1800 years of christians as being inferior to the new christians who supposedly, FINALLY got it right.

    There are books and dozens of articles which explain why NOT taking the bible literally, is the better way to understand it. It seems like those who believe in inerrancy, have no interest in understanding how scripture can be valid, even if not taken literally, and as inerrant.

    You gotta read points of view that are different from your own to gain a deeper understanding of just about any concept.

    • http://aaronsisk.com/ Lou Ambers

      As far as taking the Bible literally, we need only look at the book of Hebrews. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” So if Christ spoke in parables, logic dictates that the father would have done so as well.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello James.

    I keep telling Evangelicals that there is some really immoral stuff in the Bible and many of them get quite indignant and answer me (sometimes in quite a nasty way): “how dare you call into question the Almighty!”.

    As you most likely well know, responding that I don’t call God into question but human thoughts about Him isn’t very helpful in such a context.

    While I might concede that the temptation of the serpent “Did God really say that…?” can be real at times, the opposite error “Did NOT God really say that (homosexuality is sinful) or (genocide is sometimes okay)?” seems to be much more widespread.

    It is obvious that different Biblical writers had contradictory theologies.

    But are there places in the OT where one author explicitly rejects theological ideas of another one?

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      The alteration between swords into ploughshares and vice versa shows interaction, which may or may not be direct. And Daniel turns Jeremiah’s 70 years into 70 weeks of years. Ezekiel challenges the notion of corporate guilt that is assumed in earlier literature, and the Book of Job challenges at the very least one way of understanding the Book of Proverbs. So yes, a few examples do come to mind.

  • dangjin

    people are always trying to change the divine nature of the Bible to a human one, so that they do not have to feel guilty about altering, adding to, subtracting from God’s word when they import their own beliefs.

    People like the above author, want to change God’s word to one that has never been attested to in history, has never been quoted, copied, written etc., the people who do this are not trying to bring God’s word to others but their own false beliefs and false ideas.

    • arcseconds

      People are always trying to change the human nature of the Bible to an entirely divine one, so they can avoid thinking about the text and its history, and continue to insist that their interpretation of the text is the only, true, and obvious understanding of it, and indeed, to continue to pretend it isn’t an interpretation at all.

      Such people import their own beliefs to the Bible just as much as anyone else, they’re just not as honest about it.

    • Oswald Carnes

      “people are always trying to change the divine nature of the Bible ”
      And there it is. Why bother trying to hide it anymore? These people worship a manmade object. There’s a word for that, and not a positive one.

    • http://aaronsisk.com/ Lou Ambers

      Could you please provide me the scriptures from which this concept of the divinity of the Bible is derived?

  • http://aaronsisk.com/ Lou Ambers

    This is something I’ve been thinking about recently: How do we know that the scriptures were ever intended to be “infallible” or “the word of God?” What scripture says this? If we get this from where Paul says that all scripture is God-breathed then we need to reference that concept with the only other example we have of something being God-breathed, man, and man is by no means perfect. So if our only other point of reference in all of the universe for something being “God-breathed” is not perfect, where do get this idea from? The argument can be made that man was MADE perfect but as soon as we had any part in it, we screwed it all up so that argument quickly falls apart when applied to the Bible. Also, the Bible can’t refer to itself before it exists, so when scripture says that his word is living and active, I don’t believe it is speaking of the Bible, it is speaking of Jesus and the Spirit of God. John pretty clearly spells it out, Jesus IS the Word. The Word became flesh and didn’t subsequently become a book. Jesus was the Word on Earth when he was alive and when he left, he sent the “Helper” to guide us in his absence. Jesus didn’t write any books nor did anyone write them while he was alive, so the most logical conclusion was that He, as the Word, sent the Holy Spirit to be the Word in his physical absence from the Earth. I think that the Word uses the Bible to speak to us but I don’t think the Bible IS the word. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Bible to be a trustworthy document, but it is by no means perfect. To believe that God took an active role in the creation of every Bible and essentially suspended free will to ensure that each Bible was created perfectly and without error is, to me, a bit childish and simple. Perfect has a particular meaning; you cannot be more or less perfect, you can just be perfect or not perfect. Think about the different translations of the Bible, if you prefer one over another or think one to be more accurate than another, you are saying that one is more perfect than the other. Essentially, you truly cannot believe that the Bible is infallible at that point without specifying a particular translation as such. If the Bible had this supernatural divinity then there would be one “perfect” translation and all others would be heretical copies. I think the Word of God and the Gospel are bigger than the Bible. God is bigger than the Bible. Since the beginning of man, God has accomplished his plans in spite of us humans, so what makes us think this is any different? Anyway, my two cents on the topic and just what’s been rolling around in my head the last year or so.

  • Ozwalt

    All of these comments and arguments about whether or not Old and/or New Testament scriptures are inerrant are silly. If I believe or disbelieve that the world is 6500 years old or that Adam was or was not truly the first person, that belief does not effect the status of my salvation. If I believe that homosexuality is a matter for consenting adults and believe we should treat them like human beings and allow them to get married, it does not effect the status of my salvation. Abortion rights arguments? It doesn’t effect my salvation. Pick an issue. So, why the HELL do we Christians spend so much time griping at each other about minutiae instead of fulfilling the two greatest commandments (Love God, and love everyone else) and the great commission (grow God’s kingdom) as directed by Jesus? Seems like he simplified it for us, and seems like we’re choosing to ignore him and instead return to the age of the Pharisees.

    • http://aaronsisk.com/ Lou Ambers

      On this note, one of the things that has really caught my attention recently is the parable of the sheep and the goats. I think Jesus was a very deliberate man with his words; we must not only take into account what he said, but also what he did not say. The thing that struck me was that Jesus has the opportunity to tell us how it’s all going to go down in the end, but he doesn’t say “You held this theology, you saved this many people, you preached the Gospel to this many people…” He says
      “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
      Growing up a Christian in America, that passage is not emphasized so much. If you were to ask Christians what Jesus says about “Judgement Day” do you think you would hear anything like this? But that’s exactly what he’s describing. One thing that has really impressed itself upon my mind is that Jesus never forces, coerces, or shames anyone into following him. The rich young ruler decides to opt out of selling everything he has and giving the money to the poor and Jesus just lets him walk away. He doesn’t pull the angry street preacher move and start yelling that the guy’s going to hell; he just lets him go. Jesus is not about people feeling forced into following him; he is interested in people following him of their own choice. We make a pretty big mess of things pretty frequently. The whole “Moral Majority” community and this idea that we have to legislate Christianity to bring the Kingdom to Earth or whatever other nonsense is just that, nonsense. I think there’s a lot of people out there that feel like they’re being persecuted for being a Christian when, in actuality, it’s just because they’re an asshole. As for people of the world, Paul makes it really clear in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 “What business is it of mine to Judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” Paul literally says it is none of our business to judge people of the world. In light of that scripture, I really can’t see any biblical basis for legislating Christian values. The only exception to that being abortion. I say that because all politics aside, scientifically, once a new set of DNA is created, that is a human; it’s the only accurate and objective way to define when life begins. Now, if you want to have a discussion on “personhood” and when a citizen is granted civil rights, that’s different (although the argument still is not logically sound due to the fact that across the globe we have moved away from granting people “civil rights” available to citizens only, and aligning ourselves with the “human rights” model, granting people certain rights like the right to not be murdered universally and not limiting that to citizens). I believe it is an issue of murder; however, as far as a biblical argument goes, the OT was pretty laissez-fair with regards to parents killing their children. As far as that society was concerned, your kids were your property and you had the right to end their life if you saw it fit to do so. Anyway, making my way back from that tangent… I agree with you. I would also go so far as to say that we waste time/money/energy on spending insane amounts of money for TVs, high-end audio, lights, etc for churches. I do IT and high end home theater for a living and have had numerous churches as clients and the amount of money some of these places spend just makes me sick to my stomach. I feel like asking them, “That’s great you have the money to buy all of this stuff, I’m sure there are no homeless or hungry or thirsty in your area, right? You made sure everyone was fed and clothed before you spent this $35,000 on a new audio system for your worship band, right?” I was praying one day and felt God showing me a picture, a challenge. I was at the throne being judged. On one side of the throne was all of the garbage I had wasted my money on in my life, laptops, computers, TVs, gadgets, etc. and on the other side were all of the people I could have fed with that money, all the kids I could have clothed and housed, all the good I could have done with my “talents.” Here I am at the throne and God just has two words for me, “Explain this.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/safeworship Americans United For Safer Rel

    How is it that over 34,000, divided Christian denominations disagree, often altogether, with what just one Man said? Furthermore, most of denominational leaders claim that their way of understanding The God in Christ is the “only” true way. The first words God ever spoke to the collective children of Israel is, “Behold Israel. The Lord thy God is One.” Then Jesus came along and prayed that his church be “one” in heart and mind. Then Apostle Paul, who preached against religious division, preached also that the church is supposed to be, “…one body.”

    No matter how you slice a cabbage all you get is more cabbage, not cabbage, bananas and apples. Not so with the insanity of Christianity today.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X