Just post the Second Table of the Law?

A judge in a Virginia lawsuit over posting the Ten Commandments in a public school has proposed cutting out the first few that are about God and allowing the rest of them to be displayed.  (The so-called “First Table” is about love of God; the “Second Table” is about love of neighbor.)

Could the Ten Commandments be reduced to six, a federal judge asked Monday.

Would that neutralize the religious overtones of a commandments display that has the Giles County School Board in legal hot water?

That unorthodox suggestion was made by Judge Michael Urbanski during oral arguments over whether the display amounts to a governmental endorsement of religion, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by a student at Narrows High School.

After raising many pointed questions about whether the commandments pass legal muster, the judge referred the case to mediation – with a suggestion:

Remove the first four commandments, which are clearly religious in nature, and leave the remaining six, which make more secular commands, such as do not kill or steal.

Ever since the lawsuit was filed in September amid heated community reaction, school officials have said the display is not religious because it also includes historical documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

“If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?’” Urbanski asked during a motions hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

“But if it’s really about God, then they wouldn’t be willing to do that.”

via Cut Ten Commandments down to 6? – Roanoke.com.

(The discussion uses Protestant numbering, rather than the Catholic and Lutheran numbering, which considers “no other gods” and “no graven images” to be part of the same commandment, counting two commandments against coveting, one about property and the other about relationships.  By that reckoning, the First Table contains three commandments and the Second Table seven.)

If we are to post the Commandments in the public square, would this be a solution?  Would it be better than nothing? Or would nothing be better?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Virginia has a venerable history of such a thing, dating back to Thomas Jefferson’s modification of the New Testament.

  • Pete

    Virginia has a venerable history of such a thing, dating back to Thomas Jefferson’s modification of the New Testament.

  • Pete

    Unorthodox suggestion, indeed.

  • Pete

    Unorthodox suggestion, indeed.

  • Gary

    This decision reminds me of Solomon’s decision to cut the baby in half.

  • Gary

    This decision reminds me of Solomon’s decision to cut the baby in half.

  • Michael B.

    I more more put off by how incomplete the 10 commandments are. Why no commandment against rape for example?

    Also, isn’t the commandment that puts a man’s wife in the same category as a man’s house, property, and donkey kind of offensive?

  • Michael B.

    I more more put off by how incomplete the 10 commandments are. Why no commandment against rape for example?

    Also, isn’t the commandment that puts a man’s wife in the same category as a man’s house, property, and donkey kind of offensive?

  • larry

    There are so many directions one could go with this. While Luther has even pointed out that heathen can employ the law in the earthly kingdom just as much as could a Christianized country I think he still had in mind that God, though hidden due to inherent theologies of glory (i.e. a TOG presupposes at least a reference to God), was somewhere in the field. However, to have a rank “atheist” seven commandments is laughable. For why should more or less “accidental beings” care about other “accidental beings” both in between the poles ‘infinitely coming from no where’ and ‘infinitely going to no where’. I.e. why would fire care about harming his neighbor wood.

  • larry

    There are so many directions one could go with this. While Luther has even pointed out that heathen can employ the law in the earthly kingdom just as much as could a Christianized country I think he still had in mind that God, though hidden due to inherent theologies of glory (i.e. a TOG presupposes at least a reference to God), was somewhere in the field. However, to have a rank “atheist” seven commandments is laughable. For why should more or less “accidental beings” care about other “accidental beings” both in between the poles ‘infinitely coming from no where’ and ‘infinitely going to no where’. I.e. why would fire care about harming his neighbor wood.

  • Dan Kempin

    Larry, #5

    “to have a rank “atheist” seven commandments is laughable.,”

    Agreed. Without any moral authority, they are literally the “suggestions” rather than commandments.

  • Dan Kempin

    Larry, #5

    “to have a rank “atheist” seven commandments is laughable.,”

    Agreed. Without any moral authority, they are literally the “suggestions” rather than commandments.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Interesting. I would think that even this would be offensive to the die-hard atheist, because it doesn’t change the fact that those commandments were put forth by God Himself verbally, and this is understood by even unbelievers.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Interesting. I would think that even this would be offensive to the die-hard atheist, because it doesn’t change the fact that those commandments were put forth by God Himself verbally, and this is understood by even unbelievers.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Oh, that judgie-wudgie! Such Solomonic wisdom, offering to cut the baby in half like that…

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Oh, that judgie-wudgie! Such Solomonic wisdom, offering to cut the baby in half like that…

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Leave them all.

    Just call them ‘The 10 Suggestions’.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    Leave them all.

    Just call them ‘The 10 Suggestions’.

  • Kirk

    Can someone please remind my why this is even a fight worth having?

  • Kirk

    Can someone please remind my why this is even a fight worth having?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @10 Don’t you know we are a Christian nation and Christians are known by the ten commandments. If we lose those we lose our identity.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @10 Don’t you know we are a Christian nation and Christians are known by the ten commandments. If we lose those we lose our identity.

  • Trey

    I think this is a good idea because atheists can be moral people and the second table tells us what we should do and should not. Atheists may not understand where these moral duties come from, but the point in the civil realm is to bring order. This will lay the foundation for the preaching of the gospel.

    @michael b. rape is included in the adultery commandment (6 if Lutheran, 7th if Reformed). The commandments need unpacking which God does in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

  • Trey

    I think this is a good idea because atheists can be moral people and the second table tells us what we should do and should not. Atheists may not understand where these moral duties come from, but the point in the civil realm is to bring order. This will lay the foundation for the preaching of the gospel.

    @michael b. rape is included in the adultery commandment (6 if Lutheran, 7th if Reformed). The commandments need unpacking which God does in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > the second table tells us what we should do and should not.

    Then Atheists and Liberals should be cool with posting just that portion of the 10 commandments, since they’re really into telling the rest of us what to do or not.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > the second table tells us what we should do and should not.

    Then Atheists and Liberals should be cool with posting just that portion of the 10 commandments, since they’re really into telling the rest of us what to do or not.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Also, isn’t the commandment that puts a man’s wife in the same category as a man’s house, property, and donkey kind of offensive?

    I don’t see where you get that. The commandment is against the sin of coveting. It applies to the person doing the coveting, not the person or thing that the person wants. Look at it from the other direction. It has do with the motivation of people. It is an injunction against covetousness. Only a few examples are listed and then it says not to covet anything.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/command.htm

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Also, isn’t the commandment that puts a man’s wife in the same category as a man’s house, property, and donkey kind of offensive?

    I don’t see where you get that. The commandment is against the sin of coveting. It applies to the person doing the coveting, not the person or thing that the person wants. Look at it from the other direction. It has do with the motivation of people. It is an injunction against covetousness. Only a few examples are listed and then it says not to covet anything.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/command.htm

  • Kirk

    @11

    Can’t tell if serious…

  • Kirk

    @11

    Can’t tell if serious…

  • Momof3intenn

    “If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?’”

    The legal argument is that it is an “historical document” just like the Bill of Rights, Declaration, etc., so the judge’s argument would not be acceptable unless the “God” parts of the Declaration, et al. be removed as well. Oh wait, aren’t some groups trying to do that already…

  • Momof3intenn

    “If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?’”

    The legal argument is that it is an “historical document” just like the Bill of Rights, Declaration, etc., so the judge’s argument would not be acceptable unless the “God” parts of the Declaration, et al. be removed as well. Oh wait, aren’t some groups trying to do that already…

  • Jon

    M3iT has it right.

    The reason they are there is because of history of the law, not because they actually are laws to follow–they are not the law; the law of the state is what counts.

    I’m sure freedom of or from religionists would also find offensive some things in the Code of Hamurabi, or other ancient religious-influenced laws, were they to be displayed.

  • Jon

    M3iT has it right.

    The reason they are there is because of history of the law, not because they actually are laws to follow–they are not the law; the law of the state is what counts.

    I’m sure freedom of or from religionists would also find offensive some things in the Code of Hamurabi, or other ancient religious-influenced laws, were they to be displayed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    History is offensive.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    History is offensive.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @15 Seriously…sarcastic. :p

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @15 Seriously…sarcastic. :p

  • cbaggettjr

    Seems like a slippery slope to me. Politicians will definitely want to remove adultery and false witness right after every mention of God is expunged.

  • cbaggettjr

    Seems like a slippery slope to me. Politicians will definitely want to remove adultery and false witness right after every mention of God is expunged.

  • Pete

    Wondering. Any support out there for the sentiment that this was Jesus’ idea first? When He (John 13) issued His “new command” it was “love one another as I have loved you”. Sounds “second table” to me. Isn’t the implication there that He’s got the first table/living God part covered for us. In terms of loving God, we can’t and won’t – He does and did: for us. All that remains for us to do (again, imperfectly on our own, perfectly through Him) is to love our neighbor by not killing him, seducing his wife, stealing from him, etc. Just askin’.

  • Pete

    Wondering. Any support out there for the sentiment that this was Jesus’ idea first? When He (John 13) issued His “new command” it was “love one another as I have loved you”. Sounds “second table” to me. Isn’t the implication there that He’s got the first table/living God part covered for us. In terms of loving God, we can’t and won’t – He does and did: for us. All that remains for us to do (again, imperfectly on our own, perfectly through Him) is to love our neighbor by not killing him, seducing his wife, stealing from him, etc. Just askin’.

  • Pete

    Augh – typo!! “first table/LOVING God” was what I meant. Gotta fire the spell-checker .

  • Pete

    Augh – typo!! “first table/LOVING God” was what I meant. Gotta fire the spell-checker .

  • Tom Hering

    A slippery slope is why we only have Ten Commandments.

  • Tom Hering

    A slippery slope is why we only have Ten Commandments.

  • mikeb

    Tom @ 23

    That table must have had prohibitions against rape, slavery, and telemarketing during the dinner hour…

  • mikeb

    Tom @ 23

    That table must have had prohibitions against rape, slavery, and telemarketing during the dinner hour…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    If we let them remove the “first table” from courtroom displays, then how are people supposed to learn about Jesus?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    If we let them remove the “first table” from courtroom displays, then how are people supposed to learn about Jesus?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael B.
    I think the 6th commandment, as well as the fifth are quite sufficient enough to cover the the supposed problem you bring up.
    Perhaps I should have just ignored your comment like the rest of the people. But if you are going to be our resident atheist/agnostic or whatever, I’ll be wanting you to up your game and to come up with more intelligent problems for us to grapple with.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael B.
    I think the 6th commandment, as well as the fifth are quite sufficient enough to cover the the supposed problem you bring up.
    Perhaps I should have just ignored your comment like the rest of the people. But if you are going to be our resident atheist/agnostic or whatever, I’ll be wanting you to up your game and to come up with more intelligent problems for us to grapple with.

  • formerly just steve

    tODD, by 501(c)(3) organizations.

  • formerly just steve

    tODD, by 501(c)(3) organizations.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    The Ten Commandments used to be a cultural universal held in common by the entire mainstream of America. Protestants, Jews Catholics, Unitarians and even freethinkers didn’t mind the Ten Commandments as a culturally universal abstract representation of the Law.

    However the new populations taking over America tend to ally with groups that hate most things traditionally associated with America.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    The Ten Commandments used to be a cultural universal held in common by the entire mainstream of America. Protestants, Jews Catholics, Unitarians and even freethinkers didn’t mind the Ten Commandments as a culturally universal abstract representation of the Law.

    However the new populations taking over America tend to ally with groups that hate most things traditionally associated with America.

  • Michael B.

    “rape is included in the adultery commandment”

    No it isn’t. Rape and adultery are completely different offensives. Read the definitions. Or just consider spousal rape.

  • Michael B.

    “rape is included in the adultery commandment”

    No it isn’t. Rape and adultery are completely different offensives. Read the definitions. Or just consider spousal rape.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg
  • Jerome McCollom

    Why would it offend me as an atheist? I don’t find them sacred and I am tired of the religious rightwing trying to use them to convert the children of people like me, by putting them on school walls.

  • Jerome McCollom

    Why would it offend me as an atheist? I don’t find them sacred and I am tired of the religious rightwing trying to use them to convert the children of people like me, by putting them on school walls.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. said (@29):

    No it isn’t. Rape and adultery are completely different offensives. Read the definitions. Or just consider spousal rape.

    Sigh. Bror was right (@26). Better informed critics, please.

    Next you’ll be telling me that anger isn’t covered by any of the Commandments, too.

    If you take that bait, might I suggest you read Matthew 5. Having done so, I invite you to again consider Bror’s and Trey’s (@12) points in reply to your claim (@4).

    You appear to have a very rudimentary grasp of the Ten Commandments, especially for someone talking to Christians, and most especially for someone doing so on a blog frequented by Lutherans.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. said (@29):

    No it isn’t. Rape and adultery are completely different offensives. Read the definitions. Or just consider spousal rape.

    Sigh. Bror was right (@26). Better informed critics, please.

    Next you’ll be telling me that anger isn’t covered by any of the Commandments, too.

    If you take that bait, might I suggest you read Matthew 5. Having done so, I invite you to again consider Bror’s and Trey’s (@12) points in reply to your claim (@4).

    You appear to have a very rudimentary grasp of the Ten Commandments, especially for someone talking to Christians, and most especially for someone doing so on a blog frequented by Lutherans.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 32 – I like Michael’s line of reasoning. If I am ever tempted to adultery, I can avoid that major Ten Commandment sin and simply go find some poor woman to rape which is merely a minor Levitical sin similar to beating my oxen – not a big deal. Problem solved and my sin is thereby mitigated, excused even, right? Right? Help a brother out, here.

  • SKPeterson

    Todd @ 32 – I like Michael’s line of reasoning. If I am ever tempted to adultery, I can avoid that major Ten Commandment sin and simply go find some poor woman to rape which is merely a minor Levitical sin similar to beating my oxen – not a big deal. Problem solved and my sin is thereby mitigated, excused even, right? Right? Help a brother out, here.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd
    “If you take that bait, might I suggest you read Matthew 5.”

    The second half of Matthew 5 is one of my most disliked passages in all of scripture.
    “love your enemy” — so I should love a terrorist?
    “anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. ” — love to see anybody defend that.
    “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” — This always seemed dangerously close to thought-crime to me.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd
    “If you take that bait, might I suggest you read Matthew 5.”

    The second half of Matthew 5 is one of my most disliked passages in all of scripture.
    “love your enemy” — so I should love a terrorist?
    “anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. ” — love to see anybody defend that.
    “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” — This always seemed dangerously close to thought-crime to me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B said (@34):

    The second half of Matthew 5 is one of my most disliked passages in all of scripture.

    O…kay. Congratulations?

    so I should love a terrorist?

    The text isn’t that hard to understand. That doesn’t mean it’s at all easy to do. But I’m beginning to suspect that you think that all commandments in the Bible need to be reworked to mean something that’s palatable to your sentiments. Something, it would seem, that doesn’t challenge you.

    Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out that Jesus loved those who hated him — even, yes, those who killed him — and died for their sins. He died for yours, even if you don’t think too highly of his teachings, Michael.

    You said:

    “anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. ” — love to see anybody defend that.

    This just seems to say so much about your approach to the Bible. Do you really think that nobody has an answer for Biblical passages? Do you think everyone picks and chooses passages based on how much they like them, as you seem to do?

    That said, there are different approaches to understanding verses. Different ways, as it were, to defend them. I’m no Greek scholar, but my pastors (who are) have informed me that most English translations fail to truly convey what the Greek does in the passage you quoted. It’s in the middle voice (I believe, between active and passive), and could perhaps more accurately (if more awkwardly) be translated as “anyone who marries a divorced woman connects her to adultery”. Something like that.

    Anyhow, I, um, defend that passage.

    There’s also your take on the “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully” passage:

    This always seemed dangerously close to thought-crime to me.

    Um … ? We are talking about God here. He’s omniscient. All sins flow out of our sinful hearts and minds. So …

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B said (@34):

    The second half of Matthew 5 is one of my most disliked passages in all of scripture.

    O…kay. Congratulations?

    so I should love a terrorist?

    The text isn’t that hard to understand. That doesn’t mean it’s at all easy to do. But I’m beginning to suspect that you think that all commandments in the Bible need to be reworked to mean something that’s palatable to your sentiments. Something, it would seem, that doesn’t challenge you.

    Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out that Jesus loved those who hated him — even, yes, those who killed him — and died for their sins. He died for yours, even if you don’t think too highly of his teachings, Michael.

    You said:

    “anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. ” — love to see anybody defend that.

    This just seems to say so much about your approach to the Bible. Do you really think that nobody has an answer for Biblical passages? Do you think everyone picks and chooses passages based on how much they like them, as you seem to do?

    That said, there are different approaches to understanding verses. Different ways, as it were, to defend them. I’m no Greek scholar, but my pastors (who are) have informed me that most English translations fail to truly convey what the Greek does in the passage you quoted. It’s in the middle voice (I believe, between active and passive), and could perhaps more accurately (if more awkwardly) be translated as “anyone who marries a divorced woman connects her to adultery”. Something like that.

    Anyhow, I, um, defend that passage.

    There’s also your take on the “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully” passage:

    This always seemed dangerously close to thought-crime to me.

    Um … ? We are talking about God here. He’s omniscient. All sins flow out of our sinful hearts and minds. So …

  • G Zagnoli

    I see nothing wrong with it, as long as no mention of God is associated with it. In fact I wish that was all that was allowed these days. I think that we should be fighting to get all religion out of the public eduation system.
    I for one would have my children learn about their religion at home, and at church, especially if as a Christian, I have no other choice than to hand them over to the state for an education,

  • G Zagnoli

    I see nothing wrong with it, as long as no mention of God is associated with it. In fact I wish that was all that was allowed these days. I think that we should be fighting to get all religion out of the public eduation system.
    I for one would have my children learn about their religion at home, and at church, especially if as a Christian, I have no other choice than to hand them over to the state for an education,

  • Michael B.

    @Todd@35

    “I’m no Greek scholar, but my pastors (who are) have informed me that most English translations fail to truly convey what the Greek does in the passage you quoted. It’s in the middle voice (I believe, between active and passive), and could perhaps more accurately (if more awkwardly) be translated as “anyone who marries a divorced woman connects her to adultery”. Something like that.”

    Interesting. I’m no Greek scholar either, so I wouldn’t know. However, when I’m told that a verse is badly translated, I can’t help but wonder, what other verses are mistranslated? If you can’t trust the translation, you can’t trust your Bible.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd@35

    “I’m no Greek scholar, but my pastors (who are) have informed me that most English translations fail to truly convey what the Greek does in the passage you quoted. It’s in the middle voice (I believe, between active and passive), and could perhaps more accurately (if more awkwardly) be translated as “anyone who marries a divorced woman connects her to adultery”. Something like that.”

    Interesting. I’m no Greek scholar either, so I wouldn’t know. However, when I’m told that a verse is badly translated, I can’t help but wonder, what other verses are mistranslated? If you can’t trust the translation, you can’t trust your Bible.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@37) said:

    If you can’t trust the translation, you can’t trust your Bible.

    Really? Where’d you get that goofy notion? I suppose you’d also tell someone in a literature class that if their copy of Cervantes used a suboptimal translation in one particular passage that the whole translation was untrustworthy. Which, just so I’m clear here, would be a ridiculous claim.

    Look, I don’t know about you, but I don’t belong to the church of the New International Version. Nor do I stay at home, locked in my room, just “my Bible and me”. I belong to a church. My church has full-time employees whose job it is to teach me about God’s Word. To this end, they have studied ancient Greek and Hebrew. Now, for convenience’s sake, we all use one particular translation in our worship services, and typically in Bible study situations as well (though I’ve been to plenty of Bible studies where more than one translation was present and read from).

    But we don’t derive our theology solely from one particular translation — to be honest, that’s mainly what sects and cults do. Quite a number of translations will do, because there are several out there that are competent.

    That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, and my pastor is competent to tell me so — and even to explain why, and why one might translate a passage this way or that way.

    Honestly, where do you get your ideas on translation?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@37) said:

    If you can’t trust the translation, you can’t trust your Bible.

    Really? Where’d you get that goofy notion? I suppose you’d also tell someone in a literature class that if their copy of Cervantes used a suboptimal translation in one particular passage that the whole translation was untrustworthy. Which, just so I’m clear here, would be a ridiculous claim.

    Look, I don’t know about you, but I don’t belong to the church of the New International Version. Nor do I stay at home, locked in my room, just “my Bible and me”. I belong to a church. My church has full-time employees whose job it is to teach me about God’s Word. To this end, they have studied ancient Greek and Hebrew. Now, for convenience’s sake, we all use one particular translation in our worship services, and typically in Bible study situations as well (though I’ve been to plenty of Bible studies where more than one translation was present and read from).

    But we don’t derive our theology solely from one particular translation — to be honest, that’s mainly what sects and cults do. Quite a number of translations will do, because there are several out there that are competent.

    That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, and my pastor is competent to tell me so — and even to explain why, and why one might translate a passage this way or that way.

    Honestly, where do you get your ideas on translation?

  • Michael B.

    @Todd
    “I suppose you’d also tell someone in a literature class that if their copy of Cervantes used a suboptimal translation in one particular passage that the whole translation was untrustworthy. Which, just so I’m clear here, would be a ridiculous claim.”

    No, but your text is only as good as the translation. If any part of the translation has an error, then your text as a whole has an error. So you may dismiss any ideas of “inerrancy”.

    On a side note, I didn’t mention this in my last post, but your reasoning about Matthew allowing a man to marry a divorced women sounds an awful lot like the “logic” that liberal Christians often use to say that the Bible is okay with homosexuals.

  • Michael B.

    @Todd
    “I suppose you’d also tell someone in a literature class that if their copy of Cervantes used a suboptimal translation in one particular passage that the whole translation was untrustworthy. Which, just so I’m clear here, would be a ridiculous claim.”

    No, but your text is only as good as the translation. If any part of the translation has an error, then your text as a whole has an error. So you may dismiss any ideas of “inerrancy”.

    On a side note, I didn’t mention this in my last post, but your reasoning about Matthew allowing a man to marry a divorced women sounds an awful lot like the “logic” that liberal Christians often use to say that the Bible is okay with homosexuals.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@39) said:

    your text is only as good as the translation.

    I suppose, at a facile level, this is true, but I have already noted that we have recourse not only to more than one acceptable translation, but also to trained theological experts who can render alternate translations or expound upon translation choices in certain passages. In short, while any one text may only be as good as its translation, my understanding isn’t limited by any one text.

    If any part of the translation has an error, then your text as a whole has an error.

    Tautology! … (Does, does that sentence of yours seem meaningful to you? Because it certainly doesn’t to me.)

    So you may dismiss any ideas of “inerrancy”.

    Honestly, where do you get these ideas? Nobody is claiming that any language-specific translation is inerrant! (Okay, maybe a few, fringe KJV-only types, but you don’t exactly see tons of those around these parts.) I can claim that Scripture is inerrant while still believing that the NIV could be improved in a few spots. Better-informed critics, please.

    your reasoning about Matthew allowing a man to marry a divorced women sounds an awful lot like the “logic” that liberal Christians often use to say that the Bible is okay with homosexuals.

    Am I supposed to respond to this? Because there’s not exactly much to respond to here. I mean … okay. It “sounds like” that. Whee?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael B. (@39) said:

    your text is only as good as the translation.

    I suppose, at a facile level, this is true, but I have already noted that we have recourse not only to more than one acceptable translation, but also to trained theological experts who can render alternate translations or expound upon translation choices in certain passages. In short, while any one text may only be as good as its translation, my understanding isn’t limited by any one text.

    If any part of the translation has an error, then your text as a whole has an error.

    Tautology! … (Does, does that sentence of yours seem meaningful to you? Because it certainly doesn’t to me.)

    So you may dismiss any ideas of “inerrancy”.

    Honestly, where do you get these ideas? Nobody is claiming that any language-specific translation is inerrant! (Okay, maybe a few, fringe KJV-only types, but you don’t exactly see tons of those around these parts.) I can claim that Scripture is inerrant while still believing that the NIV could be improved in a few spots. Better-informed critics, please.

    your reasoning about Matthew allowing a man to marry a divorced women sounds an awful lot like the “logic” that liberal Christians often use to say that the Bible is okay with homosexuals.

    Am I supposed to respond to this? Because there’s not exactly much to respond to here. I mean … okay. It “sounds like” that. Whee?