There’s No Biblical Solution to Your Problem

Richard Beck says “biblical” doesn’t mean what you think it means:

Recently I was invited to be a part of a conversation regarding how a community I’m associated with should approach a controversial topic. The stated goal of the conversation is to think about what a “biblical” approach would be regarding this issue.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the word biblical and about what it might mean.

Here’s my basic observation: Whatever biblical means it doesn’t mean biblical.

Read the rest: Experimental Theology: “Biblical” as a Sociological Stress Test.

  • http://pomoxian.com Henry Michael Imler

    Amen, amen, amen.

    I’ve always pushed people to use “Christian” instead (and I’m aware of the problems there, but at least it’s honest(er) about the stance being more embedded, more transition-bound, etc.

    • simon

      Shame on you Henry – shurely its obvious than in any debate between “Christian” and “non-Christian”, God is on the side of the Christian, even if they are an idiot. But in the more complex debate between two “Christians” then the “biblical-Christian” is the one with God on their side and therefore right.
      In the case of two biblical Christians disagreeing consult the “Born again- “New Testament-”, “Spirit filled-” and “Really true-” rules, but not necessarily in that order.

      In the case of a tie look for the most worn out clasp on the antagonists copy of the KJV.

      • http://henryimler.com Henry Michael Imler

        Simon, as a recovering fundie (Christian Church, Stone Campbell flavor), shame is always upon me. ;)

        • simon

          Oooh Stone Campbell – bless you brother. :-)

          • http://henryimler.com Henry Michael Imler

            Thanks, Simon. It has been a long, good road out.

  • http://finalinsurrection.blogspot.com/ Lock – The Troll

    I have noticed that Tony seems to be hyperly acute to word defining.

    Very good article.

  • Jesse

    It might be a good guess that those who are asking whether X is biblical are assuming that biblical truth is consistent, systematic, logical, etc. As such, they will take doctrine Y or Z and address it to the question of the “biblicity” ( I know, not a word) of some other thing.

    Your conclusion, it would seem Richard, is a bit of a fallacy. If 50 people come to the Bible and all 50 people come to different positions as to what it is teaching, it would even still be a fallacy to conclude there is no definite earmark that we could call “biblical”; that is the fallacy of induction and asserting the consequent. For, some people come to different conclusions for reasons usually not even exegetical. A liberal who doesn’t believe in miracles is doubtless going to interpret Jesus feeding of the 5000 differently. Likewise, the person who sees the greatest good the ultimate happiness of man is going to feel a bit uneasy about Paul the Apostle’s discourse in the 9th chapter of Romans and so interpret it is quite differently. Or what of the cultural relativist and Paul’s commands for married women to submit to their husbands? The point is that the actual words of the Bible are not the source of the vast majority of differing interpretations, but the unwillingness to receive what is today considered “culturally irrelevant”. The Bible isn’t a wax nose that we all can just make it say whatever we want. The grammar itself won’t allow for that.

    But this does not change what is actually “biblical”. What is observed is not, as you called it, a “sociological stress test”, but the fact that, as sinners, we approach the Bible with presuppositions. We might even say that the reason that two individuals can fight over what is “biblical” and what is not is because we are sinful and are often blinded by our own depravity. We approach the Bible thinking we already know what it SHOULD say.

  • Chris Criminger

    What is biblical? I’ll bite . . . . whatever it is, I don’t think it is a sociological stress test. Maybe we should immerse ouselves into the writers of scripture and try to understand what they or the early church thought biblical means. Even if we want to define it differently today, we ought to at least come to terms with what the original writers might have thought it meant. I seriously doubt the biblical writers themselves viewed scripture as a sociological stress test. Of course, it may not matter to some what the biblical writers menat at all. I am thinking of the debate today over the Constitution between those who want judges who represent the intentionality of it to those who take an expansionist viewpoint. I know the same debate and diversity exists among Evangelicals today. But again, I wonder how far can the term evangelical stretch? A growing number of people today don’t even know what the term means anymore because its meaning is being stretched to cover almost everything and everyone.

  • Kevin Gasser

    I don’t think that definitions are biblical.

  • Scot Miller

    There is neither a single “biblical solution,” nor is there a single “Christian solution” to problems. The Bible isn’t a single book, but a collection of books with various viewpoints and solutions that sometimes even conflict with each other when taken literally. (Good grief, some of the individual books actually disagree with themselves, like the conflicting accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.) There are many answers and solutions, and they don’t always agree, which makes the search for a single “biblical” solution the search for a chimera.

    Moreover, there are many Christianities, not just one (which I suppose what Richard Beck is trying to get at without actually saying it). “Christianity” and “Christian theology” is an abstract notion that finds concrete expression in particular communities in particular places at particular times and informed by particular traditions. Various communities are like the tiles in a mosaic that form the abstract idea of what is “Christian.” None of them alone is “Christian,” yet there would be nothing “Christian” without the individual communities.


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