Human readers

(One last thing on Niebuhr, then we'll move on, I promise.)

Reinhold Niebuhr is regarded as a "Neo-Orthodox" theologian. The "neo" there doesn't mean that he presented a new orthodoxy, but refers rather to the way that his profound consideration of sin and human nature was a reassertion of the classic biblical and Augustinian views.

On a lot of other matters, however, Niebuhr was anything but orthodox.* He did not believe in the resurrection — of Christ or of anyone else. He believed that Jesus was divine only in the most nebulous sense.

Niebuhr was, in other words, deeply orthodox on the subject of human nature and seriously heterodox on the subject of the divine. This latter heterodoxy explains why Niebuhr is out of favor with contemporary evangelical Christians.** Evangelicals ought to be more charitable to old Reinhold, however, since they tend to suffer from a mirror-image of his problem.

ArchimedesEvangelicals tend to be, in other words, deeply orthodox on the subject of the divine and seriously heterodox on the subject of human nature.

Consider evangelical hermeneutics and the epistemology that underlies them. Try to reconcile this objective certainty with the Christian belief that human beings are finite, fallible and fallen. It cannot be done. Evangelicals may nominally believe this is our state, but as soon as we pick up a Bible and begin to read they believe we turn into clear-eyed, pure-hearted, omniscient readers.

Hence the evangelical obsession with declarations of the "inerrancy" or "infaliibility" of the text. I am in no position to say whether or not such declarations are true. None of us is. As errant, fallible humans we cannot judge whether or not a text is inerrant and infallible. But even if we take it on faith that the text is all that they say it is, we're still no better off because we cannot supply this perfect text with perfect readers, or with a reading that is "inerrant" or "infallible."

It may be that the text is as they say, inerrant and infallible. But this means little more than Archimedes' claim about the lever. "Give me a place to stand and lever long enough and I will move the world," Archimedes said. And he was right — except that he didn't have a lever long enough, and that there was no place to stand, and that even if there were no human could survive to stand there.

The evangelical claims of inerrancy and infallibility, likewise, offer no place for humans to stand, no place from which human readers could approach or understand their inhuman text.

What we claim about the text cannot trump what we know about ourselves. We are finite, fallible and fallen. (And far too full of preconception and misconception to ever claim our reading of scripture is sola scriptura.) Certainty is a divine prerogative, not a human one.***

This doesn't mean that nothing is knowable, or that all readings of the text are equally valid, or any other such nonsense. But it does mean that evangelicals ought to approach scripture with a bit more, yes, Niebuhrian humility. To do otherwise is to abandon the orthodox Christian view of human nature.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* I realize that words like "orthodox" can be difficult to use in a pluralistic context. Please don't misunderstand. When I say that Niebuhr's views on the resurrection and the divinity of Christ are not the same as orthodox Christian views, I am merely being descriptive. I am not advocating the burning of heretics. I'm not even arguing here that Niebuhr's heterodox views are wrong. (I happen to think they were wrong, but that is a separate matter.) The truth or falsity of his views are not the point here — the point is that his views were something other than what Christians believe.

This phrase — "what Christians believe" — is of course also problematic. It's use and misuse as a phrase of judgment muddles its descriptive use. But that descriptive use is unavoidable and necessary. For the word "Christian" (or "Hindu," "Moslem," "Scientologist," "Cubs fan" or "Trekkie") to mean anything it needs to refer to a particular group of people and not to others. If such names and classifications did not make such distinctions, then we wouldn't need them, we could call everything by the same name. It is obviously often necessary to make such distinctions without also making judgments or implying hierarchies between groups of people, but such judgments have become so much a part of our culture that even these necessary and obviously nonjudgmental distinctions can be difficult to make without resort to exhausting lawyerly footnotes like this one.

** This and the fact that he doesn't have a program on Christian radio or cable television.

*** This is why many of our oldest stories — including some of those told in the Bible — involve the human misinterpretation of the divine word. There's a reason that the word "oracular" means "obscure, enigmatic."

CX: Typo fixed, thanks bad jim.

  • Jon Rosebaugh

    I don’t think I’m willing to abandon the notion of the Bible being inerrant. I have two reasons for this:
    1) I know people who seriously argue that the Bible has deliberately been altered by the Church (and they’re not even Da Vinci Code fans!). The very possibility that the text is open to human manipulation starts them going and there’s no way to stop them. And yes, I know this isn’t really related to inerrancy, but that’s the keyword they seize upon.
    2) But really, my main reason is that I don’t believe God makes mistakes. The human mind is abundently fallible; I have no argument with your point that we are not capable of perfectly interpreting an inerrant text. But I believe that the text is inerrant anyway, because of what I believe about the Author.

  • bulbul

    an inerrant text
    … written by HUMAN BEINGS in a HUMAN language.

  • bulbul

    Just to ilustrate, this is the Catholic view on inerrancy (or rather, the gist of it):
    Inerrancy extends to what the biblical writers intend to teach, not necessarily to what they assume or presuppose or what isn’t integral to what they assert. In order to distinguish these things, scholars must examine the kind of writing or literary genre the biblical writers employ.

  • bulbul

    we’re still no better off because we cannot supply this perfect text with perfect readers
    Wow, that sounds a lot like Eco’s theory of the distinction between the “model reader” and the “empirical reader”. The latter, on the other hand, just sees words on a page and reads them as such. For him/her, any interpretation is a good interpretation. The former, on the other hand, always looks “upon the text as a coherent whole” and constantly rechecks his interpretation against other parts of the text. More here.
    Joyce’s “ideal reader affected by an ideal insomnia” comes to mind, too :o)
    BTW, When it comes to reading and readers, Eco distinguishes three types of intention – the intention of the author, the intention of the reader and the intention of the text. Guess what category the “biblical literalists” fall into.

  • bulbul

    Crap. Strike out the first “on the other hand”.

  • bad Jim

    Um. Shouldn’t “but as soon as we pick up a Bible and being to read” read “begin to read”?
    My doubts about the possible inerrance of any text long predated my professional career, but having once spent weeks first analyzing and then meditating over the professionally translated databook for a Hitachi microprocessor, I tend to view skeptically the intelligiblity of any translated work, even one which was reasonably understood by its creators.
    As for the Bible, in what sense can pure poetry, like the Psalms, or stories like Job or Jonah, be considered literally true? Even an attitude profoundly hostile to art ought to be able to recognize it.

  • bulbul

    As for the Bible, in what sense can pure poetry, like the Psalms, or stories like Job or Jonah, be considered literally true?
    OK, Job and Jonah – MAYBE. I have seen some people speculating about what particular member of the Cetacea order it could have been and whether it was a baleen whale or a toothed whale etc. etc. etc.
    But Psalms? None whatsoever. Consider “Though I walk the valley of the shadow of death”. How high is the sun? How tall is death? Where exactly is the valley locate? Is it really a valley or rather a wadi?

  • bad Jim

    Jonah was delivered by divine express (UPS and DHL being unavailable back then) directly to Nineveh (too far inland for a cetacean to reach) exactly where he didn’t want to be.
    This is about as close to making a joke as the Bible gets (though, for all I know, elder generations were in stitches over alien idols soiled by menstrual blood or enemies laid low by hemorrhoids).

  • Scott

    The Bible should be read literally when it gives you what you want. For example, a female fundie was in charge of a group at my ex-church (part of the reason it’s my ex-church). Homosexuality an ‘abomination’? Check. “Never suffer a woman to teach”? That would mean quitting her job and giving up her power. No check. Jesus saying not to divorce? Well, that would mean no sex for manly hetero divorced males, and we can’t tell them that or they’ll leave.
    Faith, to them, means believing claims of fact. Doubt is therefore lack of ‘faith’. Therefore you need something you cannot doubt.
    It’s the same thing that leads them to place such a high emphasis on ‘Leadership’. You suffer from doubts? Find a Manly Evangelical Leader who will erase them with his personal charisma and sheer force of his Manly Evangelical Willpower.
    After all, if you cannot submit to and obey your Leader, who you can see, how can you submit to and obey God, who you can’t?

  • J

    As errant, fallible humans we cannot judge whether or not a text is inerrant and infallible.
    I reject that argument completely. Regardless of fallibility, humans are entirely capable of judging–and of correctly judging–whether or not the Bible is inerrant.
    And I’d come down pretty strongly in saying that the Bible is pretty damn fallible and errant.
    Just to pick one argument out of many, God is described as causing the sun to stop in the sky so that Joshua and his followers can finish up their battle. Setting aside the (im)moral implications of a God who wants to give you a hand as you kill people, it is impossible for the “sun to be stopped in the sky” ’cause the sun don’t move. The Earth moves. And if you stopped the Earth, gravity would be seriously diminished.
    But let’s not stop there. God “sets one light to rule the day and another to rule the night”, but as you yourself quoted from Bill Nye, there technically is only ONE light, which rules the day AND the night: The Moon provides no light of its own but merely reflects the Sun’s light from around the penumbra of the Earth.
    There’s more. There’s a LOT more.

  • J

    But really, my main reason is that I don’t believe God makes mistakes.
    I refute that statement with just two words: Skin cancer.

  • J

    But really, my main reason is that I don’t believe God makes mistakes.
    I refute that statement with just two words: Skin cancer.
    Heck, even that’s too speculative. I can do it with ONE word: Anencephaly.

  • Indecisive

    Umm, I reject inerrancy as well, but I think J’s responses to inerrancy indicate that s/he has little idea what scholars who claim inerrancy actually believe. You’re simply attacking a straw man, and ironically rejecting people for claiming a text has no error when you yourself are radically misreading your opponent’s position. Almost all inerrantists will make allowances for metaphor and at least minimal historical contextualization in theory (although it is true that they’re likely to read something literally if they think there is a legitimate literal reading); this actually does include genre considerations for all but the most radical and uneducated inerrantist literalists. That the moon is said to be the lesser light makes sense from a practical, premodern point of view, because it is the vehicle whereby we can get light at night (most nights, anyway). In fact, calling the moon a light need not even imply that the moon creates its own light! (And quick newsflash: the sun does indeed move! Indeed, their are times when it makes sense to consider the sun to be moving and the earth to be standing still; it is perfectly valid for some applications to pick a particular point of view as fixed and chart the movement of other things in relation to it (which is in fact what you did when stating the sun doesn’t move).)
    Back to communicating with people who actually deserve an intelligent response:
    Fred, the notion of human imperfection has long led me to reject the idea of inerrancy largely on pragmatic grounds, i.e., since there’s no actual way to have access to the text’s perfection, then it makes no practical difference on our ability to read and interpret the text to say that the text indeed is inerrant; if it makes no practical difference, what’s the point in talking about it. (I will make a sidenote that one’s opinion on the text’s status can influence the weight one places on the text or on their decision to let it influence their lives, but if one generally agrees, as I do, that the Bible is trustworthy and worthy to use as a guide for forming their faith community, they could very well interpret the Bible in exactly the same way as inerrantists, but without the modern epistemological baggage.) Note also that inerrancy defenders claim that it’s the original autographs that are inerrant, not what we currently have. All the original manuscripts, of course, no longer exist, and we don’t even know or completely agree on what form they came in (most fundies will reject without thought the documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch and the idea of Q as a gospel source). So technically inerrancy posits a perfection which we can never humanly perceive about texts that we can never humanly lay our eyes on. Such a shaky foundation to lay one’s beliefs on. The quite depressing upshot is that many people’s faith is shattered when they realize the impossibility of this doctrine to hold up, which too often leads to a rejection of Christianity instead of a chastening of their epistemology.

  • pharoute

    posits a perfection which we can never humanly perceive about texts that we can never humanly lay our eyes on.”
    I thought the Qu’ran was a self-referencing inerrancy text. Wasn’t Mohammed take up to Heaven and shown the real, as is, no “elohim” and “yhwh-ist” scribes messing things up text by an angel?

  • bulbul

    I think J’s responses to inerrancy indicate that s/he has little idea what scholars who claim inerrancy actually believe
    Not to mention that he probably hadn’t read the Catholic definition of inerrancy provided by me.
    Wasn’t Mohammed take up to Heaven and shown the real, as is, no “elohim” and “yhwh-ist” scribes messing things up text by an angel?
    Well, he was taken up to heaven. Whether there is a heavenly Quran is disputed by Muslim theologians. In any case, Quran was recited to the prophet by Gabriel and he then passed it on. The text itself was officially recorded during the reign of Uthman (cca. 630-656) and due to certain textual and linguistic issues, there are actually 10 versions of the Quran, but they differ only slightly.
    As for the inerrancy, it is a different issue in islam. The Quran is much more poetic in its homiletic parts and much more legalistic in its legal parts, allowing much freer interpretation in the former and much stricter in the latter.

  • J

    So technically inerrancy posits a perfection which we can never humanly perceive about texts that we can never humanly lay our eyes on. Such a shaky foundation to lay one’s beliefs on. The quite depressing upshot is that many people’s faith is shattered when they realize the impossibility of this doctrine to hold up, which too often leads to a rejection of Christianity instead of a chastening of their epistemology.
    Huh?
    I’m with Scott on this whole thing. Elaine Pagels said something like, “Many people assume that biblical interpretation is simply ideology under another name.”
    And that, my friends, is exactly what I assume. I’m with Katha Pollitt on this: The Bible “means” exactly what the people citing it want it to mean at the time and place they cite it.
    Cynical? No: merely correct.

  • J

    Sorry, maybe that was a little short of me. Let me be more deliberative.
    Here’s something from The Varieties of Religious Experience:
    Thus if our theory of revelation-value were to affirm that any book, to possess it, must have been composed automatically or not by the free caprice of the writer, or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare ill at our hands. But if, on the other hand, our theory should allow that a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions and deliberate human composition, if only it be a true record of the inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the crises of their fate, then the verdict would be much more favorable.
    James and I wouldn’t get along, I don’t think, because I DON’T accept that “a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions and deliberate human composition.” Sorry but I expect more from “a revelation.” If a “holy” book does indeed contain “scientific and historic errors and . . .local or personal passions” then no, I don’t accept it as being revelatory. It might well be “a true record of the inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the crises of their fate,” but I just seem to be missing the leap-of-logic in which we therefore elevate it to “revelation” status.
    And my objections to James just keep on coming:
    Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations… and frequently they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as pathological.
    I don’t understand why they aren’t classed as pathological. Religious thought and religious thinkers seems to get a pass from the logical and moral rules the rest of us are obliged to follow.

  • bulbul

    The Bible “means” exactly what the people citing it want it to mean at the time and place they cite it.
    To continue with Eco references: this is also known as “using the text”, which is in sharp contrast to “interpreting the text”. Basically the same difference as between masturbation and sex – might look like the same thing, but it sure as hell ain’t.
    To say that many (if not most) people have ‘interpreted’ (read: ‘used’) the Bible based on their own preconceptions and goals is merely stating a fact. But to conclude from this that the Bible has no actual meaning (which, FYI, is a pretty well defined semiotic, linguistic and philosophical concept) … As you said, I just seem to be missing the leap-of-logic. And a mighty leap it is, too.
    I’m not familiar with Katha Pollitt, but the way you quote her (?), she seems to describe the standard practice of text users, i.e. “Biblical literalists”: pick a verse that supports your agenda and forget the rest of the text.
    J, got anything to say about the definition of inerrancy I provided or to the remarks concerning “reading the text as a whole”?

  • bulbul

    Elaine Pagels said something like, “Many people assume that biblical interpretation is simply ideology under another name.”
    That’s a very good point. But couldn’t the same be said about any other science* when the basic rules of scientific conduct are disregarded? History becomes propaganda, biology becomes warfare, jurisprudence becomes oppression theory…
    *Because that’s what exegesis/hermeneutics is.

  • wintermute

    Note also that inerrancy defenders claim that it’s the original autographs that are inerrant, not what we currently have.
    Except for those who claim that the KJV is inerrant (see Jack Chick, for example). I’m pretty sure that there are people who hold other translations to be inerrant, as well, but 5 minutes with Google doesn’t reveal them.

  • Beth

    “…many people’s faith is shattered when they realize the impossibility of this doctrine to hold up, which too often leads to a rejection of Christianity instead of a chastening of their epistemology.”
    Huh?
    ….
    I DON’T accept that “a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions and deliberate human composition.” Sorry but I expect more from “a revelation.”
    It’s kind of funny that you don’t get what Indecisive was saying, since you seem to be a prime example of it.
    I don’t understand why they aren’t classed as pathological.
    Maybe you should consider why falling into trances, hearing voices, etc. are ordinarily classed as pathological in the first place.

  • McJulie

    I thought the Qu’ran was a self-referencing inerrancy textTradition has that the Koran was dictated by God directly to Mohammad, and the only legitimate Koran is the one in the original Arabic, so there is a greater claim to inerrancy — one author, no translation.
    However, the issue of interpretation still looms just as large as it does in Christianity — even larger.
    But none of this should be a surprise to anyone who’s ever taken an English lit class. With a modern novel, there’s (usually) no debate over who wrote it or what the correct text is, but debates over what it “really” means can still be passionate.
    When people claim their own views are based on their belief in Biblical “inerrancy” they are really claiming inerrency of interpretation — in other words, they are claiming their own inerrancy.
    Or, more typically, the inerrancy of somebody like James Dobson.

  • Angelika

    I used to believe in Biblical inerrancy, too, until I actually read the book. Since then I’m wondering how to read and interpret the Bible properly.
    I find it interesting, that the people who put together the canon, which is nowadays our common Bible, put books together that are not 100% in agreement with each other (like the two genealogies of Jesus.) I assume these people were literate enough to notice the differences. So obviously, they wouldn’t have considered the texts as inerrant either.
    The Bible helped generations of believers to find their way to God. It helped a lot of people to endure hard times and to adopt higher morals. Efforts of reform of the Church often started by people actually reading the Bible – From that observation I conclude, that the Bible’s teaching on the relationship of God and men and on the way humans should behave is mostly sound and good. However, there are those passages that I really don’t know how to handle like Timothy 2.11 -15.
    ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.’
    Apart from Paul’s argument being particularly unconvincing: (We read in Genesis that Adam, too, ate and therefore sinned. If he wasn’t deceived, does that mean he sinned with full purpose of sinning? How then does that make him better? And if we are talking about order of creation, shouldn’t be all humans silent during worship and listen to the birds singing, that had been around much longer?) It also isn’t much fun to be supposed to believe oneself is of lesser value that the other half of the human populations. – So my inclination is to reject that passage as nonsense revealing no more than a flaw in Paul’s character and read on, until I reach the next passage I might not like. However, if I reject that one too, I’ll end up with a Bible that simply caters to my very own opinions and I needn’t bother to read it at all.
    Any ideas how to deal with this kind of difficulty?

  • J

    I’m not familiar with Katha Pollitt…
    Feminist commentator for The Nation
    “…but the way you quote her (?), she seems to describe the standard practice of text users, i.e. “Biblical literalists”
    Actually she was talking about both them and liberal Christians who claim there is nothing objectionable about the Bible: That, “you just need to interpret it right.” I don’t see the point. I’ve decided to believe what I feel is right is right and I’m not going to be too miffed whether it is or is not in the Bible. I call it “gastrointestinal reasoning”; that which turns my stomach, I reject.
    For that same reason, I cited Elaine Pagels (“those cynical about biblical interpretation or unfamiliar with it believe that it is simply ideology under another name”) as an example of what I reject because I for one have never read any religious writer whose ideology wasn’t suspiciously well-aligned with their biblical interpreation. Or vice versa.
    But couldn’t the same be said about any other science* . . .*Because that’s what exegesis/hermeneutics is.
    Maybe. But if exegesis is a science, then exegetical writers are piss-poor scientists: How many authors of bible commentaries do you think are prepared to revise their “theories” in the light of new evidence? Or do you simply not believe there IS any good evidence?
    Too, if exegesis is a science, then wouldn’t we be rejecting old interpretations in favor of new ones?
    Face it: Biblical interpretation is inextricably tangled up with actual faith, theology, and religious practice to be a ‘science’.
    J, got anything to say about the definition of inerrancy I provided or to the remarks concerning “reading the text as a whole”?

  • bulbul

    Maybe.
    No, no maybe. Definitely.
    But if exegesis is a science, then exegetical writers are piss-poor scientists.
    That is, unfortunately, true of many exegetes. Not all of them, though. Let’s face it, do you know the field well enough to make such a statement? I sure don’t.
    Biblical interpretation is inextricably tangled up with actual faith, theology, and religious practice to be a ‘science’.
    So is economy, history, psychology…

  • Jeff

    It seems to me that the model for self-correcting inerrancy is the Coucil of Elders of the Latter-Day saints (aka Mormons). Something comes up which seems to contrdict the book of Mormon? One of the Elders will “have a vision” which explains the discrepancy. Thus the religion is alway inerrant, yet in touch with the times.

  • Skyknight

    I think the idea is to try to interpret the Bible (or other religious/philosophical work of your choice) in as machine-like a manner as possible. In other words, no letting emotion, desire for power, preconceived notions or the like sway you. Think of it this way: How would the cosmos (which is as bias-less as you can get) construe it?

  • Duane

    I think the idea is to try to interpret the Bible (or other religious/philosophical work of your choice) in as machine-like a manner as possible. In other words, no letting emotion, desire for power, preconceived notions or the like sway you. Think of it this way: How would the cosmos (which is as bias-less as you can get) construe it?
    My cosmos or your cosmos?

  • Duane

    The Bible should be read literally when it gives you what you want. For example, a female fundie was in charge of a group at my ex-church (part of the reason it’s my ex-church). Homosexuality an ‘abomination’? Check. “Never suffer a woman to teach”? That would mean quitting her job and giving up her power. No check. Jesus saying not to divorce? Well, that would mean no sex for manly hetero divorced males, and we can’t tell them that or they’ll leave.
    Faith, to them, means believing claims of fact. Doubt is therefore lack of ‘faith’. Therefore you need something you cannot doubt.
    It’s the same thing that leads them to place such a high emphasis on ‘Leadership’. You suffer from doubts? Find a Manly Evangelical Leader who will erase them with his personal charisma and sheer force of his Manly Evangelical Willpower.
    After all, if you cannot submit to and obey your Leader, who you can see, how can you submit to and obey God, who you can’t?
    Did you say you left the church because a female was in charge of a group or did I misunderstand?

  • Skyknight

    Duane:
    My cosmos or your cosmos?
    Our cosmos. I have no patience for anything that looks even a little like solipsism (part of why I hate Ayn Rand so much).

  • wintermute

    Did you say you left the church because a female was in charge of a group or did I misunderstand?
    I understood is as being because a fundie was in charge, but now that you mention it, that really ought to be cleared up…

  • Pandu

    This is an interesting topic. I’m sorry I arrived a few days late.
    The idea of the inerrancy of the Bible was imposed by the Church, which compiled the book to support their various goals. This concept long preceeded the Church, but it does not rightly apply to the Bible. Several thousand years ago Srila Vyasadev, the literary incarnation of Godhead, dictated the Vedanta Sutras, which directly describe the Absolute Truth. He then elaborated on this work in the Bhagavat-purana, which gives more detail about the Personality of Godhead in His various forms.
    In the 14th century, the Supreme Personality of Godhead explained the process for understanding scripture:
    CC ?di 7.106: The Lord said, “Ved?nta philosophy consists of words spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead N?r?ya?a in the form of Vy?sadeva.
    CC ?di 7.107: “The material defects of mistakes, illusions, cheating and sensory inefficiency do not exist in the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
    CC ?di 7.108: “The Absolute Truth is described in the Upani?ads and Brahma-s?tra, but one must understand the verses as they are. That is the supreme glory in understanding.”
    He later explained the value of the scriptures of meat-eaters as follows:
    CC ?di 17.167: “There are many mistakes and illusions in your scriptures. Their compilers, not knowing the essence of knowledge, gave orders that were against reason and argument.”
    The Lord explaines later:
    CC Madhya 6.134: “For each s?tra the direct meaning must be accepted without interpretation. However, you simply abandon the direct meaning and proceed with your imaginative interpretation.
    CC Madhya 6.135: “Although there is other evidence, the evidence given in the Vedic version must be taken as foremost. Vedic versions understood directly are first-class evidence.”
    CC Madhya 6.137: “The Vedic statements are self-evident. Whatever is stated there must be accepted. If we interpret according to our own imagination, the authority of the Vedas is immediately lost.”
    http://caitanyacaritamrta.com/adi/7/en
    http://caitanyacaritamrta.com/adi/17/en
    http://caitanyacaritamrta.com/madhya/6/en

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  • Duane

    I understood is as being because a fundie was in charge, but now that you mention it, that really ought to be cleared up…
    Well, I read it first as a problem with fundies but then I thought what kind of non-fundie church has a fundie in charge of a group harshing our Jesus-Is-Love-mellow?.
    And then I thought it must be a fundie church since that’s where fundies (and liberal-haters like Scott) hang out. Writing down the equation, we quickly see that the two fundies cancel each other out leaving us with one uppity female.
    Maybe Scott will jump in and elucidate us.
    *waves full bottle of Captain Morgan tantalizingly*
    *waits 15 minutes*
    *waves not-so-full bottle of Captain Morgan tantalizingly*

  • Scott

    And then I thought it must be a fundie church since that’s where fundies (and liberal-haters like Scott) hang out.
    Actually, it was a PCUSA church that the fundies tried to hijack. I left because the fundies were in charge, not because the fundie was female. Maybe if you stopped taking swigs from the Capt Morgan bottle you’re waving you might have understood what I was saying. Personally, I’m not into rum.
    Sorry, I forgot; I argued against liberalism and therefore must hate women because its easier to dismiss those who disagree w/ you if you simply label opposition as ‘hate’. Silly me – I just thought I had an issue w/ hypocritical fundies. Thanks for clarifying what I believe for me.

  • Duane

    Actually, it was a PCUSA church that the fundies tried to hijack. I left because the fundies were in charge, not because the fundie was female.
    So the fundies were trying to hijack the church because they were in charge so you left the church because this one lady was a hypocrite.
    Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Duane

    So the fundies were trying to hijack the church because they were in charge so you left the church because this one lady was a hypocrite.
    Thanks for clearing that up.
    Just curious, if that hypocritical lady had become aware of her rightful place and true Biblical role and stepped down to let a man lead the group, would you still be going to that church?

  • Skyknight

    I think it’s more that Scott was holding out that the fundamentalists would lose their grip (his pessimism about human righteousness and potential for perfection can only go so far…), and this confirmed that it wasn’t about to happen.

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