5 Things You’re Reading, When You’re Reading The Bible

5 Things You’re Reading, When You’re Reading The Bible March 13, 2017
Dwight Stone, Flickr
Dwight Stone, Flickr

I love the Bible.

It’s why I spent eight years of my life in seminary, why I’ve served as a church pastor even when they couldn’t afford to pay me, and is why even now I end up finding Greek flashcards in the most random places in my house.

But my love for the Bible includes honesty.

When we love someone or something, it’s easy to grow to see them the way you want to see them in your mind, often overlooking obvious realities that, if acknowledged, would create more work for the relationship. I did that for many years with the Bible, but now my love for it includes a willingness to embrace it for all it is– and to be honest about that.

In my years of studying, wrestling, and growing to love the Bible deeper and more honestly, I’ve come to embrace and acknowledge that when we read the words on the page, we’re reading a lot more than just those words. So, here’s 5 things we’re reading, when we’re reading the Bible:

5. You’re reading books and letters where the primary/original meaning is what the author intended the original audience to understand.

I remember learning in Sunday School that the Bible was “God’s love letter to us.” It’s a cute idea, but is less than helpful because we’re not the original audience, and that matters.

The reality is that these are sacred books, stories, and letters, where the primary/original meaning is the meaning the original author intended to convey to the original audience– and we’re neither of those parties. It’s almost like trying to understand an inside joke; until you understand the relationship between the sender and receiver of a message, and the context of what’s being discussed, it’s easy to walk away with all sorts of broken understandings of what was really being communicated. This makes things like understanding ancient culture, customs, and general history, a critical aspect of understanding the Bible.

4. You’re reading an unfolding story of people slowly growing in their understanding of God.

For those of us who grow up in conservative traditions, we’re often taught that the nature and character of God is perfectly revealed on every page of Scripture, but that’s not actually true.

The Bible, while a collection of books spanning centuries, is ultimately an unfolding story of people trying to understand what God is like. There are glimpses of God revealed throughout the story, as well as misunderstandings about God, and even blaming horrid actions on God– but the revelation of God is a progressive revelation. The entire narrative builds towards the introduction of a main character– Jesus– who is God made flesh and reveals that the nature and character of God has often been profoundly misunderstood.

The giant twist of the story was the realization that the only way to know what God is like, is to look at what Jesus is like– everything else gets reinterpreted in light of God made flesh.

3. You’re reading the judgment call, and even bias, of a translator.

Translation may involve the same part of your brain as math, but it’s not *exact* like math. The reality is that when translating ancient manuscripts into modern language, there are words and expressions that do not have a 1 for 1 swap. You also find words that could have meant many different things in the original language, and without the ability to ask the original author which meaning they meant or which meaning the original audience most likely would have understood, you’re left with no choice but to make your best guess– and that best guess can radically change the flavor of any given passage.

Other times there is outright bias on the part of the translator to the point where they will deliberately translate something in a way that is more favorable to their opinion or position. Either way, when you read the Bible you’re already reading someone else’s best guess, or someone else’s bias.

2. You’re reading nuance in English that does not exist in Greek.

Translation isn’t just a challenge from Greek or Hebrew into English, but also brings up reverse issues: words in English that carry flavors, associations, and nuance, that would not have existed in the original language. When this happens, we are subtly led to read things into Scripture without even knowing we’re doing it– unconsciously assuming that modern or English nuance actually applies to the text.

A great example of this is the word “hell.” The NT uses three completely different words that we translate into English as hell, even though all three Greek words have different nuance– none of them being the equivalent to what we think about when we see the English word, hell. Our version of the word didn’t exist in the first century, so using the English word “hell” causes us to read a modern understanding into an ancient text, wrongly.

1. You’re reading your own beliefs, assumptions, and generational theology.

Every time you pick up a Bible, you’re reading not just words on a page but are also reading previously held beliefs and assumptions into the text. This is a version of confirmation bias, which essentially is an unwillingness (often subconscious) to have your cherished view be shaken by additional facts or information, and is a *really* hard habit to break.

If your childhood was spent being taught that X was true, when you read the Bible you’ll read it in such a way that assumes X is true. When you encounter a passage that contradicts or challenges X, you’ll naturally look for alternative ways to understand the passage so that it lines up with your unwillingness to consider that X may not be true after all.

Believe violence against enemies is ok? You’ll read that into the Bible. Taught that God is full of wrath, that there’s a great tribulation about to come upon us, and that the end is here? You’ll read that into the Bible, too. That’s because it’s natural to bring our own beliefs and assumptions to the party with us, and to read the Bible in such a way that makes it conform to the view we already hold– we all do it, we just have to learn to be aware that we’re doing it.

I grew up in the world where people had bumper stickers that said, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it,” but it’s really not that simple. The Bible is a complex collection of writings. There are translation issues, narrative issues, nuance of language issues, and the human tendency to make something conform to a previously held belief.

I think we need to be honest about that, and allow that to invite us into a posture of humility when reading the Bible.

I still love the Bible every bit as much as I loved it back then, but I love it with more honesty now– even though it creates a lot more work for the relationship.

unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com. 

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  • Matthew

    Great article. For the reasons stated above, I have moved toward believing that the community of faith (the entire church community) needs to be involved in the process of interpretation. Only as a community walking together humbly empowered by the Spirit can we more fully understand the complexities associated with the Bible.

    While I´m thankful for much of what the Reformation brought into the light theologically, I wonder if the movement didn´t also cause problems as well — e.g. everyone can read the Bible by themselves and figure out what it personally means to them in their own language.

    It´s simply not that simple.

  • Occupy Christianity

    This is a good primer on how to read and comprehend the Bible for those who are ready to hear it, but also one that is going to immediately be disregarded by Evangelicals who are not. Point #5, in particular, is problematic for them. They do believe that the Bible is God’s revealed, complete thoughts, directly applicable to all people and unchanging forever. Even things spoken directly to/about one particular person (Luke 1:45, for example) are seen as promises to all people at all times. The rest of the points are either going to be accounted for (the issue of translation bias is overcome in Evangelical thought by arguing that the Bible is infallible in the original manuscript – even though we don’t have *any* of those original manuscripts), or ignored (the issue of bringing our own biases – as we do with *any* text we read – is simply ignored by calling for a “plain reading”). So, I’m not sure how we use this. This is, in essence, preaching to the choir…how do we the convince Evangelicals that we care about these points, or even just get them to view them as valid in the first place?

  • Matthew

    There is hope Occupy Christianity. I was once a conservative evangelical who towed the party line. I´m now ready to consider the points made in this article.

    I don´t think it´s convincing arguments that will move conservative evangelicals toward a different way of seeing the Bible, but rather a movement of the Spirit in an individual heart that is simply yearning for something more.

    For me, I just kept hitting walls with my questions. Top that off with my great disappointment with the institutional church and you get someone who is now open for something new. I´ve been on the journey for about 10 years or so.

  • otrotierra

    The hegemonic U.S. Evangelical approach to “the bible” is idolatry in the form of thinly veiled self-worship. They worship their own narrow, self-serving interpretations of select sentences taken from Levitical Laws or a letter Paul of Tarsus wrote. Why bother following Jesus and enacting The Greatest Commandment when you have a number of self-sanctioned verses and catchphrases to hide behind?

  • Al Cruise

    Conservative evangelical beliefs give them the tools of “control”, control over the lives their flocks, control to influence politics, and control to influence public policies. Giving up those beliefs would mean losing the tools to unilaterally control.

  • gimpi1

    I’ve read the statement, “To take the Bible seriously, you can’t take it literally.” I think that’s true of any ancient, translated document. Between the beliefs of the original writers, their cultural biases and blind-spots and the beliefs, biases and blind-spots of the translators and our own, we’re sort of playing a game of “rumor.”

  • Donald Moeser

    Did anyone else notice that he gave no examples of these “mis-interpretations”?

  • Bob Andrews

    I think our self-proclaimed “scholar” is missing a few key aspects of the sacred text, and assuming a few others. Basically, he is providing a materialistic understanding of the sacred text, no more than what Gregory of Nyssa called “groveling” at the letter (yes a sort of fundamentalism) , and missing the spirit. to his five points.

    If he ot others wish to discuss this further, I’d be happy to engage a bit.

    5. You’re reading books and letters where the primary/original meaning is what the author intended the original audience to understand.

    Bob: They’re sacred books, but where does their sacrality come from? Is it not from the text’s divine author, who is actually (“really”) in the text? If there is a divine author, how in the world could we restrict the text’s meaning to the original human author’s intentions? Subsequently, how could we ever suggest that the idea of a love letter is only cute?

    4. You’re reading an unfolding story of people slowly growing in their understanding of God.

    Bob: Contrary! Yes, it is actually true that God’s nature and character are revealed on every page! Actually, Christ is revealed on every page! Unless, of course, we only have a materialistic view of scripture.

    The Scripture is actually a book of completed faith (Jude 3). Doctrine and articulation developed, but the faith was “once for all delivered.” Therefore, the author’s claim here of an unfolding narrative is an imposition not evident in the text’s testimony of itself, nor of the Church’s testimony of the text for centuries upon centuries. A scholar would know this!

    3. You’re reading the judgment call, and even bias, of a translator.

    Bob: Not an impactful point. The four evangelists were biased, too! They arranged their narratives deliberately. Yet, the text was divinely inspired. Human-divine text! The obvious presence of human biasedness does not preclude divine inspiration.

    Concepts such as “no other name” “son of God” “hell” can hardly be translated to subvert the original meanings too drastically. I don’t sense the impact here.

    The Westminister Confession actually answered some o fthis a long time back: The original autographs and translations are kept by God! That’s the faith!

    2. You’re reading nuance in English that does not exist in Greek.

    Bob: The challenges of a purely scientific exegesis shows up here. The Bible must be read in the context in which it was written – the faith of a living, believing, and authorized community replete with hierarchy (holy leadership)! Analyzing three ways that “hell” can be interpreted MUST consider how the church always interpreted it. Otherwise, our exegete is not reading the literature well. This is one reason why patristics must hold a degree of normative authority in the modern day.

    1. You’re reading your own beliefs, assumptions, and generational theology. And, is that all? Is their no ability to have a high degree of objectivity. He’s making some huge philosophical assumptions here – linguistic ones.

    Bob: Again, where is the divine aspect of interpretation? Where is the confidence that Christ really would be with the “teaching” Church until the end of the age? I don’t see it anywhere! That is a huge gap in his reasoning!!!!!

  • Matthew

    What teaching church is Christ with? Roman Catholic? Eastern Orthodox? Protestant (liberal mainline, conservative evangelical, progressive, etc.)? Anabaptist? Quaker?

  • Matthew

    I’m nearly certain if you ask for examples he will provide them. Either in the comment section, past articles, or future blog posts.

  • This is possibly my favorite article you’ve written.

  • Dan Tucker

    I remember the bumper sticker, too. Some folks in my upbring simplified the saying to ¨The Bible says it, that settles it.¨ Another reason I am formerly fundie. . . . Cheers!

  • Hi Bob,

    I brought your comment out of moderation, because I think your objections, even if worded strongly, are probably standard quasi-Evangelical-Reformed objections and are worth having in the discussion and interacting with.

    I’ll follow your enumeration.

    5. I don’t see how considering the Bible to have God in the process affects Ben’s point. There is no reason to assume that, because God “breathed out” a Scripture, that it is therefore automatically intended for all people at all times.

    For instance, in 2 Timothy 4:13, Paul asks Timothy to bring him his cloak from Troas along with some books, etc. that he left there. This is clearly meant for the original audience and not some universal nugget of divine wisdom we’re all supposed to get some deeply transcendent truth out of.

    Whatever our doctrine of inspiration might be, the fact we cannot escape is that human beings with different brains, backgrounds, and circumstances wrote the writings that ended up in the canon, and they did so in their own voice using their own brains. This is why, for instance, 1 Peter and 2 Peter vary so widely in their quality of Greek, or why Isaiah focuses on Edom and Assyria and Egypt, yet Matthew barely mentions any of them.

    This is why, for instance, when Paul writes a letter to the first century Roman church, we understand it best when we understand the circumstances and concerns of that early church, because that’s what it is! It’s a letter to them. It’s not a general, ahistorical theological treatise that dropped out of the sky. If it were truly, by divine purview, meant to be equally of service to later readers as the present readers, one wonders why it’s in Greek. In fact, one wonders why God even waited. Why produce Psalms from David and prophecies from Ezekiel? Why not just deliver as much as possible in one go?

    “Love letter” is cute because it does not begin to describe the genre or purpose of the overwhelming majority of the biblical text, with the possible exception of Song of Solomon.

    4. It’s interesting that you quote Jude to establish that the Bible is a “completed” book of faith since Jude was not the last book to be written in the New Testament. So, according to you, we should cut out any book written after Jude, which means we are likely cutting out Revelation, the Gospel of John, and the epistles attributed to John.

    Or, perhaps when Jude 3 talks about the faith entrusted to the saints, it doesn’t mean the New Testament canon of Scripture that would be closed many, many years later.

    Ben’s point is that the Bible shows an evolution in understanding of God. Assuming you believe Jesus brought newer or at least a clearer revelation of God, you have to admit that as well. Especially in the far flung centuries covered by the Old Testament, we see a people grappling with a God they do not fully understand at first, and some things always remain a mystery. It is not as though Israelites in the 8th century BC understood God in the same way that Martin Luther did. There has been a historical progression in this understanding and interaction, and the progression is actually captured in the Bible itself.

    3. This is interesting in light of your response to #5, because it indicates that despite inspiration, the biblical authors still communicated through their own biases and concerns. So, which is it? Is the Bible a book full of writings that transcend normal human communication boundaries, or does it take the form of normal human communication boundaries?

    Nevertheless, as someone who translates Greek not infrequently, I can assure you that translation is a very difficult issue with a lot of decisions that have to be made, even to the point of which manuscript you’re going to go with from time to time. And the example of “hell” is exactly the one Ben used and for good reason – “hell” to us means a place of fiery torment a soul goes to after death. “Gehenna” is a reference to a valley outside of Jerusalem. The word that’s most often translated “hell” in the Gospels is actually “Gehenna.” For an interpreter to mean Jesus is talking about an eternal punishment rather than a temporal fate, the translator has to opt for “hell.” But is that what Jesus meant? It’s not the word he used.

    The Westminster Confession is often hilarious in its statements, but the one you quoted is possibly my favorite. “We don’t have the original manuscripts and no translator has ever seen them, but trust us, they are inspired and perfect. Granted, since they are no longer around, that statement is more or less useless, but ORTHODOXY!”

    2. We agree that the Bible must be read in the context in which it was written (But why? I thought you said the Bible transcends author intent and historical circumstances? Why even care about the context or the original community if that’s true?), but then you go on to talk about the way the church has “always” interpreted it, as if those people were the original context or were more or less unified on these meanings, neither of which is true.

    For instance, by the time you get to the early church fathers, they are culturally worlds away from the New Testament. They are Greco-Roman theologians and philosophers, not Judean fishermen. We actually know more, today, about first century Judea and Judaism than they did. Couple that with the fact that some of those fathers actually wanted to actively divorce the Bible from its original context to free it from any kind of Jewish understanding or influence, that they felt should be replaced by the predominantly Gentile church.

    Then, you get the history of theology, which reveals widespread disagreement about many core issues. You mentioned the WCF, earlier. Samuel Bolton, commenting on the Westminster Assembly, records five different views in the Assembly on the validity of the Mosaic Law. What you see in the WCF is the product of compromise and majority votes. It gives the illusion of a unified statement. And the further you go back in history, the more widespread the disagreement becomes until someone holds a Council and threatens to exile, kill, or at least excommunicate anyone who won’t get on board with the decision (see Nicea).

    1. This is just a fact that’s part of the church’s struggle with her writings. We have a theology in our head that often controls our reading of texts because that’s what we expect to find there, so we do. A lot of the things we say are “plainly taught in Scripture” are only plain because that’s what we learned was there, and so we see it.

    For instance, you brought up the point that Jesus would be with the Church until the end of the age.

    Well, first of all, he didn’t. He said he would be with his disciples until the end of the age. You assume that applies to the whole church. Further, you assume that “end of the age” means “end of time,” although that is not at all how “aion” is used in Scripture. “End of the age” probably means the aftermath of the conflict with Rome.

    You may disagree, but that’s exactly Ben’s point. We read it different ways because of what we were taught.

  • I know what you mean. The biggest challenge is every day is not to be afraid. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6a9aacb24f3a0e0a95b8ae2fc7f8a19be28a26487f0cfa9e8e293d201f8c32a8.jpg

  • ashpenaz

    For instance, the author of Leviticus was not looking at two men with an inborn orientation trying to form a lifelong, monogamous relationship. Nor was Paul. Their words are about pagan temple practices. “Homosexual” (our word) and “arsenkoitai” (their word) are not describing the same thing. “Eunuch” is the closest Scriptural word to our understanding of gender non-binary.

    It’s interesting that people who won’t go see a Shakespeare play because they can’t follow the language–English–claim to know what a word means from a 2000 year-old text in a different language.

  • My prophetic abilities tell me that, if he had, there would be a good chunk of commenters bent on responding to the examples and not to the main point of the article.

  • In fairness, the little dog looks like a scrapper. I’d give him a wide berth, too.

  • That last paragraph is an example I use all the time. People need someone to explain Shakespeare’s language to them, but these millennia old writings from the Levant translated to English are so clear any idiot should agree with me. I mean, them.

  • Donald Moeser

    Well. . by not being specific and speaking in generalization, it’s like accusing someone of something without reference. It’s what children do.
    So, the question to the author would be, “what brought you to this conclusion”?

  • Donald Moeser

    “Conservatives” you say”?

  • Donald Moeser

    Those that belong to Jesus understand that the word of God is Spirit revealed and God Breathed (and secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven) has been given to those He has Called. Matt. 13:11 if you don’t mind.

    I agree to the fact that both the old Covenant and the new and Everlasting Covenant, is written literally and with similes, metaphors, idioms, euphemism, hyperbolies, parables and especially allegories. For some a bit of greek and Hebrew are needed along with a study of hermeneutics for the deeper truths. But the core meanings are for even the most novice until they come to a maturity. . . . if they so choose.

    But what we’ve been seeing of late is both the “pick and choose” verses one want’s, and questioning the verses that do not fit their life styles, and not just homosexuals and the pro-abortion.

    Yes, mistakes, mis-interpretations and hypocrisy may exist, but “they” will not count when you and I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

    With that in mind, I wouldn’t be concerned about anyone but myself or with those I teach.
    But then. . . . . that’s just me.

  • Timothy Weston

    I have seen shirts and hats that say those.

  • Herm

    Donald, for your response to be so defensive it has to mean that the Spirit of truth has not come to you, as it is written.

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

    Donald, you don’t seem to understand that “Rabbi” means master. It is written that you can only have one master.

    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Matthew 23:8-12 (NIV2011)

    Donald, how many teachers do you have beyond the Spirit of truth available to you. If actually with and in the Teacher do you need a Bible to know the truth, especially as a sibling of Jesus today, as it is written?

    So, what brought you to your conclusion?

  • Herm

    Donald, do you teach this to your flock, as it is written?

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

    And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Luke 14:26-27 (NIV2011)

    Jesus’ church worships only in spirit and in the Spirit. The temple raised in three days is where the only Holy of Holies exists. The only High Priest forever administers all with and in His parishioners.

    There is no physical church of Jesus Christ on earth outside the spirit hearts and minds of those who do belong to Jesus, His pupils (disciples), as His siblings in God today.

    So it is written and I didn’t see it there until I was taught directly by the Teacher according to the Instructor and our Father’s will, 23 years after I graduated seminary. I was blind teaching the blind. Now I see and only point to He who is the Teacher forever.

    Perhaps, you should revisit in all humility before our Father and Messiah to truly understand who and what the Bible has been directing you to but you have not seen for the very reasons of Spirit behind Dr. Corey’s article of faith and direct relationship.

  • Richard Ettelson

    These points are no less true for the Jewish communuty I’m a part of. Thanks, I enjoy your blog!

  • Herm

    Yes, I believe that is what he said.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    As a child I accepted whatever my Sunday school teachers taught. As I grew up I began to question what I had been taught. I never believed the Bible to be inerrant, but I did see it as the inspired Word of God. After I took Education for Ministry (Episcopal church study) I began to see the Bible as the response of God’s faithful people with regards to how they related to God. The Bible is not a history or science book, but a book about our salvation history with God. I also learned that the Hebrews had no word for secular so to them whatever happened God was responsible. Made me realize that God wasn’t violent and I stopped thinking of the Bible as the inspired Word. The people who wrote the Bible were human, not perfect, so they sometimes misinterpreted what they they “heard” God telling them. After reading what you said in #4 and the fact the word “salvation” is a loaded term, I am leaning towards not calling the Bible salvation history lest people think I am meaning only Christians are saved. I believe saving is something God does not us.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    You just wrote a great comment. I found meaning for me in it and in Ben’s post as well. Thanks.

  • Donald Moeser

    That sure is lumping a lot of people in one category, not to mention the accusations.
    But then, that’s how some folks, the PPC, show love.

  • baroquenspirit

    Gordon-Connell and Fuller, where the author studied, are both Evangelical Seminaries. I have studied at four different Evangelical institutions of higher learning. All of them taught these principles. My college was not as strong on #4, but all three seminaries were. I think people often assume the SBC is the only representative of Evangelicalism. This isn’t the case. Also, a number of folks in this thread may need to reread #1! :-)

  • Matthew

    So evangelism was only supposed to be done until the conflict with Rome?

    On another note … I´m wondering why we even have the Bible? These letters and books that were compiled over many years which speak only to a specific audience at a specific time in a specific cultural context.

    Wouldn´t it have been easier to simply pass on the teachings of the apostles orally? I struggle with what place the Bible is supposed to have in the life of the church and in the life of the individual believer.

    It shouldn´t be this complicated Phil.

  • Bones

    The Reformed Church of Bob.

  • Bones

    “For he who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40)

    Interesting how Matthew turned Mark around and reversed it……and we know which interpretation most Christians have.

  • Bones

    Seemed obvious to me.

    Which article were you reading?

  • Bones

    I think I have a better understanding of the word of God (ie man) than you…..and no it isn’t God-breathed.

  • Bones

    I think you just proved his point.

  • Ron McPherson

    Fantastic article Ben

  • Ron McPherson

    Ok this was brilliant. Just sayin

  • Nimblewill

    I am beginning to understand that the bible also offers up two witnesses. Grace and Law. When we study pairs we see this clearly and Paul outlines it in Galatians. Going back to the two trees we see it all the way through scripture. We can have either one we want.

  • Herm

    Thank you Donald. This is the only one of my responses to you that you feel capable of responding to. Let us continue this thread that you started.

    Please, tell us what is your definition of conservative evangelical. While you are at it expand to tell us what “conservatives” mean to you, please.

    Oh, and break out “PPC” so all will know what you are saying beyond “Pay-Per-Click”.

  • Michael D

    Thanks, Benjamin, for working to save God’s message from circular reasoning and cherry picking people promoting their smaller, meaner God.

  • Herm

    Matthew, to know God is with us today, to answer your question, is not that complicated. What is complicated is that I have yet to read any of the authors of the Bible asking to become a compilation of God words. Why don’t we take all the writings and recordings of all time inspired by God and compile them all into one book and call that the one single word of God?

    This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

    John 21:24-25 (NIV2011)

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we too could in all humility and faith pray directly to God with the same effect? Despite all the tampering of mankind, picking and choosing under political duress what authors to publish in the Bible, the message is irrefutably conveyed that we, too, can do as they did with the same result today. Simply put!

    No child of God has ever been left orphaned because our Father provides the Teacher, the Spirit of truth, available to each of us.

    God is not dead or absent. I don’t need a scrapbook to remember a great-great-great grandfather I never met to know God in a divine familial way today. All of us can be just as filled today with the Holy Spirit as were they of Acts 4:31. Please, don’t add this writing to Sacred Scripture for interpretation but go to whom I am pointing toward for I testify in the always fresh Living Testament in Him you will find the teachings of the apostles are passed down orally, for those who hear, from the mouth of the one Teacher. This isn’t a study that I am teaching. This is a testimony of my, hopefully our, living relationship with and in the one Teacher, the one Instructor, and our one Father written of in the Bible.

    Did I just make it too complicated in six paragraphs compared to the 66 books of equally authorized spoken words of God?

  • I hear what you’re saying, but I think this is one of those things where the connection is virtually a given. We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of Christian denominations that disagree on various points, and they can’t all be correct about everything. Somebody is misinterpreting something, or maybe everybody is misinterpreting everything, but the one thing that can’t be the case is that nobody is misinterpreting anything.

    Since the article posits that the ways we identify misinterpretations is subject to our own biases, I think it’s pretty classy that it doesn’t proceed to point out specific misinterpretations from specific groups from the author’s own standpoint.

  • Donald Moeser

    Either it’s too early in the morning, or we’ve gotten off track. . . . .but I’ve missed the point of your replies.

    Or, are you implying that only a portion of the Bible is Truth?

    “do you need a Bible to know the truth,. . . ” Or, are you suggesting that by belonging to the Living God, Jesus, the Fullness of the Godhead. . . the Bible is not where to find the Truth of God.

  • Donald Moeser

    Conservative hmmmm. . . . . against abortion, illegal drugs, pedophilia, Sharia Law, rioting on campuses to keep certain speakers from voicing their views, uncontrolled government, the War on Police, racism Black and White, sending our military and resources all over the world for no good reason. For, drug testing for all getting welfare, welfare work program for those able to, i.e. CCC., school choice, balanced budget, etc.
    Evangelical is simply sharing the message of Jesus with others

  • Herm

    Donald, you make my point. What I just offered you was a specific example and you misinterpreted the point. It is not what is written that is the point at all … but what is written is pointing to for truth and the word of God today as then is the point.

    Dr. Corey did no more than draw attention to the fact that if the word of God is not directly on point for you, which the dead Bible cannot be, then it is in itself a generalization that may or may not apply to your needs as a little child of God, sibling disciple of Jesus.

    Just to be drawn to this forum says you probably have more than enough specifics “of these “mis-interpretations””.

  • Donald Moeser

    “This is the only one of my responses to you that you feel capable of responding to”
    What did I miss? Keep in mind that I’m doing “battle” with just about every other person on this particular blog.

  • Donald Moeser

    As a matter of fact. . . . yes I do. . . . among the rest of scripture.

    I teach, including those in the “inner city”, but I have no flock. I’m not a Pastor.

  • Donald Moeser

    To be honest, I actually forgot that this wasn’t the Progress Pathos Christian blog.
    What’s happened is that all of a sudden, those believed to have voted for the Donald (Evangelicals ?) are not truly Christian and are to be chastised and avoided.

  • Donald Moeser

    I know what you mean.
    I’ve seen bumper stickers reading “Pro Choice” on one side and “Save the Whales” on the other.

  • Actually, it should be this complicated. We are two thousand years away from ancient writings produced in a culture very different than ours. It should be hard for us to understand them. I’d automatically distrust any interpretation of Scripture that just took the words at face value.

    It might not be so complicated if the Church had done a good job of carrying forward the social and hermeneutical world of the Bible such that we had that automatically passed down and part of our normal environment for understanding the writings. Then, it’d just be our default. But we cut that out pretty early on, so here we are. Now we’ve preserved theology for the ages instead of the narratives.

    Your first question has a lot of assumptions in it. All I said was that Jesus was speaking to a group of disciples, and his comment, “I will be with you until the end of the age” probably fit their understanding of end of the age, which was “big disruption in the world as we’re used to it.” Historically, for first century Jews, that would have probably been the destruction of the Temple in the war with Rome. I did not say anything about “evangelism,” because Jesus does not connect “evangelism” with the end of the age, nor is his instructions to make disciples probably equivalent to what we think of, today, as evangelism. According to Paul, the gospel had, in fact, gone out through the whole world (Col. 1:6, 23; Rom. 1:8, 10:18).

    Now, we might read Jesus’ words and use them to understand our present context. For both Jesus and Paul, the world was the Roman Empire. We know, today, that the world is much larger. We also have the Spirit, which the disciples did not have when Jesus spoke to them. For those reasons and others, we might also decide that we still have work to do carrying the gospel into the world and that Jesus is with us in our ages as well, but that’s extrapolation on our part and not something the text actually says.

    Strictly speaking from the text, Jesus told a specific group of people to make disciples of the nations, and he would be with them to the end of the age they were presently experiencing. He does not turn to the camera and say, “And what I’m saying to them, I also mean for anyone who might read this someday, too. That’s you!” That is an extrapolation we have to make. That doesn’t make the extrapolation -wrong-, but it does illustrate how quickly we read those texts with our own scenario in the forefront.

    Why do we even have the Bible? Well, if the New Testament use of the Old Testament is our guide, the Bible helps us understand our story. We’re currently living our own story in the 21st century, but it is not a story that popped out of nowhere. It is part of a larger stream, and the Bible gives us insight into the narrative and identities that have shaped us, today. Also, as the New Testament authors demonstrate, we can use these stories from the past to help us understand our own, such as when Matthew will take an ancient word about Ramah and apply it to Bethlehem. The story allows him to basically say, “You remember that? You remember what was happening there? Well, this is that all over again.” We can use the past to help us understand our present experiences and struggles. They are not novel in many ways, and we can find resonance with our forefathers in the desert and in the hills of Judea.

    It may have been that if the church had pursued carrying on her narrative and passing it down from generation to generation, we would have writings added to the Bible. Or that made people uncomfortable, maybe another set of helpful books as the people of God in each age (and different lands as the story grew) told their stories and wrote their letters. Over time, faith communities would have found at least some of them to be very useful and speaking to a wide amount of our experience and would have held them together as special, useful writings. This was, in essence, how our biblical canon was initially formed.

  • apoxbeonyou

    We are trying, but you keep posting. Just kidding. :P

    I don’t support the whole pointing at others and saying they aren’t a Christian. It is *never* helpful; it’s more of an ego trip for the one making the accusation. Plus it’s the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy.

    More important, the term ‘Christian’ is supposed to be an adjective, not a noun. It’s not a ticket to a club; it’s supposed to describe the Jesus-like things we DO.

  • So, are you actually wanting to discuss the article, or is this so you can grind an axe? I’m not really interested in a discussion where the central thesis is that you believe Ben is chronically wrong about everything. If that’s the case, I’m not sure why you’d even care what he has to say about anything.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Phil.

  • You know, I was thinking (you make me think, Matthew, and for that, I am always grateful), as academic as some of this may sound, there’s an irony to all this.

    Somewhere, a teenage boy is sitting under a tree with his Bible and a journal. He reads a Psalm and thinks, “Wow, this really captures what I’m going through right now,” and he journals about it and prays about it.

    Although there may be some issues with that approach, I believe he’s actually -closer- to the proper use of Scripture than the theologian who reads that same Psalm and declares it to be a clear teaching of the sovereign election of God.

  • Jeff Preuss

    “I don’t support the whole pointing at others and saying they aren’t a Christian. It is *never* helpful”

  • Jeff Preuss

    “That sure is lumping a lot of people in one category, not to mention the accusations.”

    Also those who really like to toss around the term “Lefties,” amiright?

  • Herm

    Why are you not pointing to the one Teacher who knows much more what the “inner city” needs than do you and the Bible? The Bible is in no way the word of God buts certainly does point to the words of God!

    Why are you teaching beyond testifying to your relationship with and in the Spirit of truth, who equally is available to the entire world, to each of mankind in God’s image which is only spirit, today as way back then to boldly speak the word of God without a Bible?

  • Realist1234

    Ben, you should read David Lamb’s book ‘God Behaving Badly’. It might make you re-examine your assumptions about the God of the Old Testament.

    ‘Taught that God is full of wrath, that there’s a great tribulation about to come upon us, and that the end is here? You’ll read that into the Bible, too. That’s because it’s natural to bring our own beliefs and assumptions to the party with us, and to read the Bible in such a way that makes it conform to the view we already hold– we all do it, we just have to learn to be aware that we’re doing it.’

    – well not FULL of wrath, but does God demonstrate His wrath sometimes? yes.
    – a great tribulation? well yes, a primarily Jewish tribulation happened in Jerusalem in AD 70, but you shouldnt assume the whole of the NT teaching on the subject refers to that, which you seem to be implying. It is likely John’s Revelation, for example, wasnt written until the AD 90s, long after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
    – and yes, we all do it, including ‘progressives’ who seem to always assume the ‘evangelical’ view must be wrong.

  • Herm

    Realist1234, some of us are not assuming. God is not conjecture to be studied and bantered about. Some of us have been taught that God never did subscribe to an eye for an eye though this was taught in the name of God. If you cannot get beyond the Bible you will not know this to be true for it is only in who the Bible, and Jesus’ ministry, points directly to from whom any of mankind can find the truth and nothing but the truth, for certain.

  • Ron McPherson

    So only conservatives are against pedophilia? Dang

  • Tim

    Also: “You’re reading nuance in English that does not exist in Greek.” And just as importantly, you’re reading English that does not carry some nuance that is present in Greek.

  • Donald Moeser

    Pray tell, how did you come up with a reply like this.

  • I sense that the Bible is the greatest barrier to God. Not necessarily so, but if read as if written by God Itself, instead of as a series of books written by people, full of errors, and contradictions as all human works are, then it will be a barrier.

  • Ron McPherson

    You wrote:
    “Conservative hmmmm. . . . . against abortion, illegal drugs, pedophilia,…”

    Just wasn’t sure why you felt the need to include that one on the list especially. Other than pedophiles, who isn’t against that one? Or for that matter, illegal drugs as well?

  • Ron McPherson

    I see a distinction between asserting something SHOULD be legalized vs being FOR illegal drugs.

  • James Quinn

    You do really that when someone has two master degrees and an earned PhD from theological seminaries, they are not “self proclaimed” scholars, right? Just like your primary care doctor isn’t a “self proclaimed” physician.

  • Against Sharia Law! Hilarious.

  • On what basis do you conclude that “the core meanings are for even the most novice?”

    Are you saying that a 21st century American can pick up a translation of a 2000 year old Judean text and basically get it right off the bat? Do you think the same thing about Plato or Chaucer?

  • Matthew

    So in your opinion Phil … based on your understanding of Matthew 28 … what is disciple making and what should evangelism in the modern day look like (if in fact we should even be doing evangelism)?

    Also … currently I´m reading the Orthodox Study Bible produced by theologians associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church. They note on Colossians 1:6 the following:

    “Note the gospel is the same in Colosse as in all the world indicating the catholic (universal) nature of the faith in the first century.”

    Any idea what they are talking about compared to your points re: this particular verse?

  • Bones

    What if the teenage guy sitting under a tree reads about putting gays to death??????

  • Bones

    Of course it would….

    I would argue that the gospel in John and Revelation is different to the gospel in Mark.

    That comment by the Orthodox represents a naive view of the first Christians.

  • Bones

    What’s a PC?

    Btw our far right party over here is campaigning for the legalisation of marijuana.

  • Bones

    That’s interesting because paedophilia seems to be particularly rampant in conservative organisations.

  • Bones

    Wasn’t George W Bush an Evangelical…..Don’t Evangelicals like throwing money at Israel to steal Palestinian land?

    I find it interesting the way American Christian conservatives enmesh conservative politics as if they are in some way related.

    They aren’t.

    You’d be flat out finding Conservative Christians in other western countries with such a limited conservative view on government.

  • Bones

    wtf does smoking marijuana have to do with anything?

    Oh yeah Jesus was against weed,…..and dancing……and condoms……and coffee……and alcohol…….and basketball…….and baseball…….and NFL……

    (No really, Jesus hates American sports – they suck and are as boring as hell – he prefers rugby and cricket)

  • Bones

    What’s really funny is people who are Right to Life and anti-global warming…….

  • Bones

    I find it interesting that conservatives want to drop all government regulations for businesses but increase government regulations on individuals and their behaviour.

  • Ron McPherson

    You can’t see the difference between saying someone is for illegal drugs vs someone who is in favor of actually legalizing something? Marijuana IS legal in a few states but not most others. So if I live in Colorado where it’s legal does that mean I’m not for illegal drugs, but if I live in Tennessee where it’s not does that mean I am? The only determining factor being where I have my mail delivered?

  • And there’s one of the issues, right? The things we come up with reading all by ourselves.

  • Bones

    Treating it as a health problem more than a law enforcement problem.

    The big stick approach isn’t working.

    Do people really need to go to jail because they have a couple of grams of weed and a bong in the boot?

  • Ron McPherson

    I’m not quite sure exactly what he meant. To me, it means being against obtaining drugs in an illegal manner.

  • Matthew

    Isn’t “bong in the boot” a song from the 60’s?

  • Matthew

    What about Australia Rules Football?

  • Matthew

    We need teachers and according to scripture they are held to a higher standard somehow.

  • Ron McPherson

    Are you also against the consumption of any form of alcohol? I could make this same argument with that

  • Jeff Preuss

    Some like to come up with long lists of things Jesus is clearly against.

  • Ron McPherson

    “I’m against alcohol being used to excess. Given the way it’s used I really would prefer if it were illegal, but its not down to me. And some wine is considered to be good for the heart. You didn’t answer my question though.”

    Ok, your response is actually helpful in crafting mine. Here goes: I’m against drugs being used to excess. Given that some can be used to improve the health or manage the intense discomfort of some, I would prefer they be legalized however if properly regulated.

  • Ron McPherson

    Which is precisely what Jesus encountered in his day. He put forth the great commandment in Matt 22:35-40 which should permeate and filter our reading of the texts. Incredibly though, when I go down that road some biblicist will invariably push back on me. Ironic how outcasts and sinners will accept this but hardcore religionists often wont

  • Ron McPherson

    To me “against illegal drugs” is such a general statement that it’s a bit of a waste debating its merits when I don’t even know what it means. At any rate, I’m not even sure what ‘should all drugs be legalized even means?’

  • Ron McPherson

    And I stated what my understanding of that was with reference to that comment, but you don’t think my definition is what most people would think it means. So if the statement is truly subjective, that mystifying I suppose, then correct, I don’t see the point in debating. For instance, some substances are legal in some states, but in other states not. So it’s illogical for anybody to make that claim with marijuana in mind because, by pure definition, it is not an an illegal drug in some areas.

  • Donald Moeser

    “The Bible is in no way the word of God. . . . ”
    If that’s what you truly believe, the it’s a waste of both our time. . . . .and that’s fine.

  • Donald Moeser

    What this means is; that there is no Salvation, no other name under Heaven by which we are saved.. . . .except Jesus.
    That’s pretty easy for most all to understand.

  • Donald Moeser

    You are correct. . . . . I stand corrected.

  • Donald Moeser

    I made a mistake being on several blogs at one time.
    I thought this was the Progressive Pathos Christian.

  • Donald Moeser

    The question was what “conservatives” believe, And to be honest, I don’t like to use that term anymore. . . . because there are too many meanings.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Why would you consider it a waste of time to discuss and debate points of theology with someone who does not believe the Bible is the Word of God?

  • Herm

    Donald, if you read the scriptures you will see that is exactly what it says, “it is not the word of God”. Your time is wasted because you don’t have the Advocate in you to teach you the truth.

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

    Do you really believe Jesus quit talking to us at the end of the Bible? You are a sham!!!

  • Herm

    Donald, you have made many mistakes here. If you wish to challenge at least back it up with actual scripture you say supports your arguments.

  • Ah, quoting Peter’s testimony before the Sanhedrin. So, what does Peter mean when he tells the Sanhedrin that only Jesus can save them? A novice should be able to understand this, right? What does this have to do with Peter being on trial before the Sanhedrin?

  • As to your first question, one of the key differences is that we are not staring down the barrels of an impending eschatological crisis nor are we on the cusp of the new formation of the kingdom of God. However, Jesus is still Lord and we who follow his God are still in communities that still testify to that reality as well as a hope for the renewal of creation.

    I’d say, then, that our evangelism/disciple-making probably shifts back more to the common mode of this happening in the history of the people of God. Namely, that we are God’s people in the world living out the kingdom as counter-cultural communities that embody in concrete historical reality what God wants the world to be, and in the name of Jesus we invite the nations to abandon the normal things that define them and be part of a better world – a project that blesses both the individual and the community. In this sense, our mission in the world is what Israel’s mission was always supposed to be – be a model of love, justice, peace, forgiveness, healing, and faithfulness and bless the nations as a result.

    We call people to leave one world defined by ego, violence, wealth, power (the way it is normally considered), and identity that comes from the institution that defines you and die to that world, only to be reborn in a world that is defined by forgiving, restoring, caring for the poor and the widow, embracing those who have been ostracized, and basically living as a colony of new creation -now- even as we look forward to a day when the whole world will look like this. In this world, Jesus – Jesus the just and compassionate – is king and present with us by the Spirit. The good news in our age is that these communities exist and God has made promises not only to see these people through whatever storms may come in history, but ultimately to transform the world. We believe that, and our lives are testimonies to that.

    I admit it lacks some of the existential oomph of impending destruction in Gehenna, but that’s just where we’re at.

    As to the note by our Eastern fathers, they sound right to me. Paul (or whoever ended up putting Colossians together) notes that the gospel is bearing fruit in the whole world – at the time of his writing, no less. Whatever Paul conceived of as “world evangelism” seems to have been accomplished from his standpoint. And the gospel would have been the same in Paul’s day, because Paul IS staring down the barrels of an impending eschatological crisis – the one Jesus warned about.

    But Paul also is observing this gospel spreading to the Gentiles and the effects it is having on those who come to believe the message. In fact, this occupies a place in virtually all of his letters, this phenomenon. And as he reflects on the “to the Jews first, then the Gentiles” dynamic which shaped not only Jesus’ mission in the world, but also the proclamation of the gospel, he and the other apostles begin to see that pattern in the impending judgement as well.

    The only thing I might note is that, when we talk about the “catholic nature of the faith in the first century,” obviously we need to take that with a grain of salt. The core message and response may have been catholic, and if that’s what we mean by “the faith,” that’s fine. But if what we mean by “the faith” is historic church doctrine, then that would be a mistake. Paul’s letters alone establish that the early faith communities were not united in all their teachings.

  • Donald Moeser

    “Donald, you have made many mistakes here”
    And I’m to respond to exactly which mistakes??

  • Donald Moeser

    Or, is this what you’re referring to?

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
    16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
    17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV)
    9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
    10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    Romans 1:24-27 (NIV)
    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
    25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.
    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
    27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

  • Donald Moeser

    Jesus to John Revelation 11:1-2 (NIV)
    1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there.
    2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.

    John’s vision had to be before AD 70 since the temple was still standing.

  • Donald Moeser

    Old Covenant scripture meaning exactly what it said. Just as Saul was commanded to wipe our the entire Amalekite Nation.

    Even as a hyperbole, this has a totally understandable meaning of warning against lust.
    Matthew 5:27- “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’
    28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
    29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

    The mistake homosexuals have is,that they are singled out for reproof, whereas Jesus speaks against all fornication, hetero or homo. One no worse than the other.

  • Herm


    You do know that the New Testament wasn’t even a gleam in the eye of those who compiled that Paul’s letter to Timothy into it, don’t you? What Scripture might Paul be speaking about? … the one that declared an eye for an eye?

    Think about what Jesus is directly quoted to have said by the disciple who witnessed it:

    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    John 4:23-24 (NIV2011)

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    John 14:15-21 (NIV2011)

    “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

    John 15:26-27 (NIV2011)

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

    This is directly relative to the word of God long before the New Testament Bible was compiled:

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    By your fruit I don’t believe you have heard the word:

    “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

    Luke 8:11-15 (NIV2011)

    Donald, unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit you cannot speak the word of God. You tell me where Jesus ever said He would leave a written word of God. You are not with or in the Spirit of truth when you pretend that you’ve found God in any book. The Bible certainly points to exactly and the only Way to find God, be with God and be in God and that isn’t the book but the relationship with the Advocate that children of God not be left orphans after Jesus ascended.

    Now to your introduced gay bashing, you make me sick when you bring your filth into our temple. Let me take you to church, please;

    These are the two commandments ALL the law and prophets hang on:

    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV2011)

    This is the sum of the law and prophets which preceded Jesus by centuries:

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets

    Matthew 7:12 (NIV2011)

    This is all you must do to live:

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    Luke 10:25-28 (NIV2011)

    This is what must be done to become a pupil of Christ and His sibling in God today:

    Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Luke 14:25-27 (NIV2011)

    You show me one place where the only Judge that counts toward eternal life ever said that consensual intimate relationships between consenting adults would keep the participants from eternal life, becoming a disciple of His, or keep them from becoming children of God.

    I can show you where Jesus made it very clear that without being immersed in the Holy Spirit forever you will die.

    Yes, Donald, you’ve made lots of errors here in your hollow judgments. Stay and learn but know that you will be called for your destructive misguided judgments that are not our Lord God’s teaching.

    God is capable enough to judge and correct others that have no affect on you or yours without your help. Even Paul only counseled the churches he was establishing to only admonish brothers and sisters within, and he was wrong to do so.

    It did not go unnoticed that you mouth the teaching of modern day Pharisees and teachers of the law that are not the teaching of the one Teacher:

    For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 5:20 (NIV2011)

    Good News for today, the Holy Spirit is in your midst if only you in all humility seek Him, see Him and accept Him as your only teacher. I have and I do speak the word of God boldly, without fear or shame.

  • jekylldoc

    I believe saving is something God does through us. Philippians 2:12-13.

  • jekylldoc

    The guy under the tree reading Psalms is getting the poetical inspiration aspect: the lightning strike of spiritual vision. It’s difficult to read any of the ancient statutes that way, including purity codes and family law. But the same immediacy is likely to see the tribal “honor killing” flavor of those passages and recognize that we don’t live that way anymore.

  • Ron McPherson

    Great stuff Phil.
    Please write a book : )

  • Matthew


  • Matthew

    Thanks for always taking so much time to help out Phil. It certainly means a lot to me and I am sure others who are also reading.

    Pardon me, though, but I´m still a little confused re: the evangelism question. What world evangelism had been accomplished in Paul´s time?

  • Matthew

    Maybe you can write a book as well Ron, though what I really wonder is what a book authored by Bones would be like :-) :-) :-)!

  • Bones

    I find it weird that Jesus is against the same things that I’m against.

  • Bones

    Jesus would be great at Centre Half Forward.

  • Bones

    Except it was relating a past event.

  • Ron McPherson

    Ha! Bones’ would need disclaimer in front. Something like parental discretion is advised, though no doubt would be a bestseller

  • Realist1234

    -You’re assuming the ‘temple’ (naos) is referring to the literal physical Temple in Jerusalem.
    – Even if that assumption is correct, how do you know the text does not imply the Temple will be rebuilt at some point following its destruction in AD 70 ? (it was, remember, destroyed and rebuilt prior to AD 70)
    – If literal, I am not aware Jerusalem was ‘trampled on’ for 3 1/2 years by the Romans at the time.
    – I tend to view it symbolically, as the ‘temple’ is, for example, referred to symbolise Christian and Jewish believers elsewhere in the NT (eg Corinthians, Ephesian, 1 Peter etc). And it appears to be the same in other parts of Revelation, eg 3 and 13.
    – it is telling that John does not actually ‘measure’ the temple at this time, but only later when he begins to measure the ‘new Jerusalem’.

    But I accept there can be different understandings given Revelation’s nature.

  • Realist1234

    Actually, both Old and New Testament language only refers to the physical acts of sex contact between 2 men or women. It is irrelevant ‘why’ they are doing it or within what context. The behaviour is what is condemned.

  • Well, remember, Paul’s “world” is the Roman Empire. He means that the news that the kingdom has arrived, that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and has been made Lord, and that this means the coming judgement is right at the doorstep – that news has spread through the Empire.

  • Matthew

    Is the news different for us all now in the post modern era?

  • Ron McPherson

    But being homosexual cannot be reduced to merely a sexual lust, right?

  • Donald Moeser

    “What does this have to do with Peter being on trial before the Sanhedrin”?
    Maybe I missed something here. I assumed we were talking about Salvation in Christ alone.

  • Yes. The kingdom is no longer at hand – it arrived 2000 years ago – and the judgement against Judea and the Empire is no longer impending – both were resolved centuries ago as well.

    Although some of the core truths are still the case – Jesus is risen and God has made him Lord and Christ – we’re in a different historical position than the world at Paul’s time. While we might look forward to a renewed creation, general resurrection of the dead, destruction of death, etc., our imminent eschatological crises might not be the same or not as imminent. Maybe the rise of secularism or even the destruction of the environment might be our crises. This is where we have to rely on our own prophets.

  • Donald Moeser

    ‘A “sham” you say. It figures.

    Thus ends this exchange in the usual manner. I knew better when we started, but I went ahead and wasted the time.

  • But the context of your quote is that Peter has been brought on trial before the Sanhedrin, and then he says the bit about no other name under heaven by which we are saved. What does this mean to members of the Sanhedrin?

    Come on; you said a total novice should know this stuff.

  • Donald Moeser

    Indeed, the temple of the Living God dwells within each of us who follow Jesus.
    And yes, we now walk in the Heavenly Jerusalem, Heb. 12:23 I believe.
    Thus my personal domain, , , newjerusalem.world

  • Donald Moeser

    If all scripture (the 66 books of the Old and New Covenant) is not God breathed and revealed by the Holy ‘Spirit then the discussion falls into general theology or “religion’. . . . Mormonism, Islam, Hindu, etc.

    The latter being that which I don’t believe is the Word of God. But of course, that’s just my opinion.

  • Donald Moeser

    I am a total and complete supporter of the Palestinian cause and try to share the reasons why with my blinded brethren. . . . to no avail. I’m called anit-semetic. . . . and I could care less. If I had the money, I would be in Gaza to offer whatever resources I have.

  • Donald Moeser

    Correct. It is not “being” something one way or the other. It was about Lust in general, practicing fornication .and lust goes well beyond sexual issues

  • Jeff Preuss

    None of that answers the question I asked you. EDIT to say: why is it then a waste of time for you?

  • Herm

    Why do you associate lust with homosexuality?

    Why do you associate my comment, that you respond to, with lust?

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ [Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21] But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

    Matthew 5:38-39 (NIV2011)

    Which Lord do you follow?

  • Herm

    Donald, you feign piety while judging as an authority on a subject we already have one Teacher forever with whom you disagree with. If you were only seeking to win an intellectual debate then you have truly wasted your time. If you were honestly seeking our one Teacher and have begun to question your motives then your time with us will not have been wasted. We, at best, here are not the teachers or the judges but are happy to be found as little children of God testifying to the instructions of our Lord Brother. You are welcomed to learn with us.

  • Realist1234

    Its a shame that is now your view of the Bible. So much for ministry ‘education’. The fact is, salvation comes from the Jews, because that was God’s plan all along. So the Old Testament is primarily the history of God’s dealings with the Jewish people from whom the Messiah and Saviour was to come (hence God’s violence against other peoples who wanted to wipe out the Israelites).

    You’re right, God is the One who does the ‘saving’, but only through the Son. There is no other way.

  • Realist1234

    Are you a Jewish believer in the Messiah Jesus? If you dont mind me asking.

  • Realist1234

    Indeed. Sad that humans are the only species who kill their young before theyre even born.

  • Donald Moeser

    Well said.
    Strange, but it seems to be no big deal for so many Christians.

  • Herm

    The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the LORD by giving the equivalent value, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; for a female, set her value at thirty shekels; for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels; for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver; for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels. If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, the person being dedicated is to be presented to the priest, who will set the value according to what the one making the vow can afford.

    Leviticus 27:1-8 (NIV2011)

    Strange, that humans are the only species touted to have been gifted the image of God who has no value for life less than one month out of the womb.

    Strange, that humans are the only species that sends their educated, healthy young out to war abroad to die in defense of their unique traditions while sacrificing the mother they know for a fetus they don’t.

    … but that seems to be no big deal for so many christians.

  • Oh, ha! Thanks, I appreciate the compliment. Things the world doesn’t need #89,223.

    I am actually working on a small group book for new believers who don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, now. It actually takes that focus of them being called into the kingdom and tries to help put some concrete direction around that.

    I do have a blog that, like, 3 people read. I don’t really route it around because it’s pretty much just for me (my name is nowhere on it and comments are not turned on), but it’s me working through biblical passages in a more devotional way and, on Sundays, I usually write an op-ed piece on some topic which my friends tell me they enjoy a lot more than my attempts to be devotional. It’s at https://nextcreation.wordpress.com/ and the posting schedule is entirely chaotic.

  • Ron McPherson

    Excellent. Thanks so much!

  • Matthew

    What was imminent then and why isn´t it stll imminent now Phil? Jesus still has yet to return …

    Also … was Paul preaching a different gospel than Jesus? Should we preach a different gospel today versus what Paul and Jesus preached in their time and context?

  • Well, but he has from the narrative of the first century. Apocalyptic predictions of the future (or retrospectives on history) from both the Old Testament and intertestamental literature often depict God as physically present executing the events, even though in the actual historical playout of these realities, God doesn’t physically come down and start breaking Assyrian spears or what have you. The language means He has come in the sense that the historical events playing out are the form in which His visitation and acting in history takes, much like the view in the first century that the Roman Empire was the physical manifestation of Satan and his demons.

    I guess, if we were looking for a more literal fulfillment, we could look at some of Josephus’ more spectacular passages describing the destruction of Jerusalem, like the comet that hung in the sky in the shape of a sword, or the heavenly army that appeared in the sky, but I personally don’t think that’s necessary.

    The Temple was destroyed and the power structure there broken. Caesar eventually declared Jesus as Lord of the Roman Empire and put an end to Christian persecution. The apocalyptic events pertinent to the world of the Bible’s original audience have come and gone. Those ages have come to a close.

    Paul was preaching a different gospel than Jesus in the sense that Jesus was not proclaiming that he had risen from the dead, since he had not done that, yet, and all the ramifications that come from that. That was a key point in the gospel preached by Paul and the apostles, but obviously nonsensical for Jesus himself to proclaim.

    But other than that aspect, I don’t know why the basic proclamation would be different. The kingdom has come; judgement is about to fall on first the Jew then the Gentile, but God will save His faithful through the disaster just as He has in the past, the coming of the Spirit means the Day of the Lord is at hand, etc.

    Those judgements came and went. In the aftermath, we still have the risen Lord Jesus and we still have the faithful people of God, but the concrete historical disasters are past us. In fact, the disasters as directly pertinent to Israel were past us by the time the early church fathers get involved, and I suspect their hijacking of the story into a narrative about the transmigration of the immortal soul comes from them trying to make sense of the gospel in their world of Greco-Roman philosophy rather than trying to make sense of it in its original world of first century Judaism.

  • Matthew

    Really good stuff Phil, although admittedly I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the historical-narrative hermenuetical approach. I spent some time today reading posts on Perriman´s blog and I have to say the more I read his stuff, the more confused I get (and I thought I was pretty good at theology :-)!!).

    My confusion probably comes more from years of thinking in one direction rather than from Perriman´s style of writing and explaining things. I´m finding it incredibly challenging to move between paradigms. As such I always appreciate your help.

    Have a good weekend.

  • And there’s always the teeny, tiny possibility that I could just be wrong, too.

  • Matthew

    Now THAT´S truly reassuring :-) :-)

  • Ron McPherson

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your thoughts from the link you pointed me to. For years I’ve read my own bias ONTO the text rather than just accepting the text as it was actually written. There is much I still must overcome in the sense of de-programming. Accepting scripture ‘as written’ will actually ease the tension, I think, when viewed from the lenses of both the original writers and hearers. Doesn’t getting in their shoes better inform our role as contemporary citizens of the kingdom rather than the centuries old model of trying artfully to essentially ‘systematize’ it all together? Doesn’t this historical approach actually free up the Spirit to speak into our lives in more pragmatic ways? At any rate, keep up the good work. Ben has had an incredible influence in opening up my world, allowing God out of my theological box, and your stuff is helping me continue the journey. Blessings brother!


  • Ron,

    You said it so beautifully. It really does serve the dual purpose of getting us closer to the actual heartbeat of the biblical text as well as allowing us to carry that forward into our own context, whatever it looks like. I find that the colors of Scripture get a lot more vibrant as we see them against the backdrop of the original context and concerns instead of fodder for our post-Reformation systematic theology textbooks.

  • Matthew

    If I could make a suggestion Phil …

    I think you and Andrew Perriman need to do a “For Dummies” introductory, 101 version of this historical-narrative hermeneutical approach.

    It would be really beneficial for us “it takes some of us longer” types :-) :-)!

  • Ha! Well, Andrew is always writing three books at once, it seems, in between church planting. I don’t know if one is a For Dummies version, though. I would be very interested from a psychological perspective to see him write something that he considered “introductory.”

    If it’s any consolation, I ran across Andrew when I was doing a study on Revelation, and I found him almost impenetrable. But what I saw right away is that he was really interested in getting at the historical narrative in the minds of the biblical readers and writers, and I was really into that as I felt it made a lot of jigsaw pieces fit in a more cohesive manner than traditional systematic theology. So, I just kind of stuck with it and, over time, began to understand him better, and even though we don’t always end up at the same place, that -way of thinking- through the Scriptures has been invaluable to me. It was slow going, though, despite my zeal for the project.

    I think probably the thing that makes it a struggle isn’t so much Andrew as it is how we’re preconditioned to read the Bible with our theological categories as the controlling narrative for a passage. So, when we read the word “salvation” in a passage, for instance, we automatically fill that in with our content.

    What looking at it from a more historical, narrative orientation demands that we do is pretend that we don’t know what salvation means in that particular passage, and we let the passage, context, and overall historical situation at the time help flesh that out for us. So, in one passage, salvation might mean surviving the Assyrian invasion without allying with Egypt. In another passage, salvation might be making it through a Philistine blockade to get back to Jerusalem. But the one thing we begin to notice is that salvation is always something concrete and historical.

    So, by the time we get to the New Testament, if we’re going to make it a theological story about “spiritual realities,” we’d better have a good reason from the text or surrounding context to think that would be the most natural way of understanding it.

  • Matthew

    It´s certainly a more robust approach compared to most Sunday school lessons:-)

  • Oscar Scott Oliver

    Thanks. I have come to see that the Bible is written in the vernacular which means figures of speech including idioms. A good example is “God hardening Pharaoh’s heart.” It’s an Egyptian idiom which means that God did not actively soften Pharaoh’s heart but left him to his own passions. I read that in a book edited by Walter Kaiser.

  • Matthew

    Phil … in one sense the messianic Kingdom of God was announced and came into being during Jesus´ life and ministry, death and resurrection. In another sense it was delayed. This “delay” is a major contributor (I think) to why Jews don´t accept Jesus´ messianic claims.

    Why didn´t the fullness of the kingdom come in 2000 years ago?

  • What do you mean the “fullness” of the kingdom?

  • Matthew

    Well … maybe I mean that why wasn´t it all completed and finished at the cross … no more Roman occupation, new heavens, new earth, resurrection, etc.

    Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, he said it was at hand, he did the things of the kingdom during his public life and ministry, yet we are still waiting … no?

  • Herm

    Matthew, is not the word all as in, “all authority in heaven and on earth“, an indication that the fullness of the kingdom has been fulfilled for the last 1,984 years?

  • Herm

    Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

    Matthew 16:23 (NIV2011)

  • Ok, hold the phone.

    I would argue that what we think of when we think of new heavens, new earth, and a general resurrection are threads of Jewish eschatology that are not necessarily connected with the coming of the kingdom. There is little indication that, despite a vibrant hope for the restoration of Israel under a Davidic king, this was linked to the idea that this also entailed the kinds of things you and I think about when we think about a new heavens and earth and general resurrection like the end of Revelation describes.

    In Isaiah 65, for example, we have a prophecy of God bringing judgement on Israel, and this is followed by the creation of a new heavens and earth, but look at what that looks like. Jerusalem’s trials and weeping will be over. People will live longer lives, but not indefinite resurrected lives (“One who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred years will be accursed.”). Israel will own her own land, again, and will enjoy the fruits of her own labor, and violence and disaster will be so far from them that even the animals won’t eat each other. Children will no longer be born into disaster.

    It’s an idyllic picture, but it’s not Revelation 19ff, and it’s certainly not our typical ideas about the end of the world. It’s basically life as usual, except really great. Now, was there also a Jewish expectation for a general resurrection and a world free from death and evil? I’d say yes, but their expectations for the kingdom don’t really entail that. We’re the ones that smoosh it all together.

    Now, the question about the Roman occupation is a good one and no doubt was a big issue in the early church when Jesus died and not much seemed to change. Although, interestingly, the objections Paul deals with the most with respect to his fellow Jews seem to revolve around not the Roman occupation, but the fact that Jesus was crucified and, as such, accursed by God.

    But what we see unfolding in the apostolic letters is that the events they are expecting happen in two stages – first the Jew, then the Gentile. I think the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation illustrates these expectations, but the interesting thing is, when Jesus is fighting his enemies in Revelation, he kills them “with a sword from his mouth.” When we think about that image coupled with things like Paul’s expectations for the future and his experience of what happened when the gospel went out to the Gentiles, he (and others) foresee the Empire coming down via conversion. So, it’s the activity of the risen Christ in the power of the Spirit that brings down the Empire.

    And historically, this is what happens. Whatever else we might think about Constantine and whether or not what he did was a good idea, the one thing we can say is that he declared Jesus lord of the Roman Empire and put an end to the persecution of Christians. Once again, not advocating any of how that happened or what the fallout was, but Christianity does conquer the Empire in a very concrete and political way, and if you go to Rome, today, you might notice the whole affair still has a bit of an impact.

    And so, if by “fullness of the kingdom” we confine ourselves to the expectations of God’s faithful people having their property restored and living out long, peaceful lives on the foundations of an empire that was conquered by Jesus, you get that – at least as much as you’re going to get in a concrete historical reality in the late ancient world.

    One could argue that none of that was perfect and that several difficult things still plagued believers, but that’s always been the case. Even under the idyllic rule of King David, it was hardly a perfect kingdom free of any kind of troubles whatsoever. And it’s that kingdom that Israel was expecting would be restored, not necessarily our ideas of a perfect world.

  • You cannot.

  • I doubt Paul would have agreed with your talking points.
    2 Timothy 3:15-17
    (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    Commentary, “At the time Paul wrote this, “all scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable” referred to the Old Testament. Paul probably did not know that what he was writing would become Scripture. In a similar manner, but with far greater accuracy and consequences, there is nothing extraneous in God’s Word. We are to live by every Word of God (Matthew 4:4).”

  • Ron McPherson

    And I personally know a man whose father in law suffered profoundly with cancer but could get relief from pain from marijuana.

  • Ron McPherson

    Regarding abortion: when you admitted in another thread that you would still be for making abortions illegal, even if you KNEW it would ultimately result in MORE deaths to the mother, that’s when I knew we were at an impasse

  • Ron McPherson

    No that won’t fly. My question to you at that time was borne from what saves the most lives. The question I posed to you in hypothetical terms was this: if you knew for a fact that making abortion illegal actually resulted in more lives being lost (to both mother and child), you still said you would advocate it being illegal. And to me, that’s placing more of a premium on a belief system than on the actual individual.

  • Ron McPherson

    Eva, my point is that this is a very complicated issue involving all lives. I absolutely am not in favor of abortion being used as a means of birth control. But what I am saying is that lives matter (ALL lives). Mother and child both. And if more mothers actually lose their lives through performing unsafe, illegal abortions, them that’s something we all must grapple with. We can debate as nauseum what the data suggests or the validity of it. But surely you and I can both agree that the best outcome is for the most lives to be saved, however that may look. We really never get anywhere on this, so I’ll move on. Peace

  • Herm

    God did and does.

    I’ll make you a deal. You find a way to abolish the legalized killing of educated, physically and mentally healthy children in the prime of their life and I will find a way to abolish the legalized killing of unborn children.

  • Ron McPherson

    I’m moving on. Peace

  • Herm

    By your logic the parents gave life and are free to take it away.

    Where do you find that to God all life is of equal value? Please, I would like to know.

  • Herm

    By your logic if a child chooses to use drugs that is a decision they made so all drugs should be legal, and driving before 16 years of age, and …

  • Herm

    Eva, I would like to know, really, where you find that God gives all life equal value, please.

    Who gave God life?

  • Herm

    No Eva, you have not convinced me. I am a little child who came to Jesus. All of our animal species, to continue to survive as mankind, has the instinct to propagate and protect our young no different than any other surviving species on earth. Many animal species on earth, to remain strong, actually eat their young who are too weak to benefit the species. No Eva, I am not condoning that members of mankind eat their young for we are above that having the advantage of the spirit image of God that enables us to adapt with far more burdens than other species.

    By witness in the Old Testament this is the God who spared King David by killing King David’s son for the life of Uriah.

    Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

    Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die.”

    After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”

    2 Samuel 12:13-18 (NIV2011)

    It is all good that your maternal instincts feel so strongly to protect the helpless young but I don’t believe that you can find that God, from within the Bible, loves all stages of human life equally. God needed David but not David’s son.

  • Herm

    Oh come on Eva, why did God give us the power, all animals on earth and some plants, to take life if “He is the one who should choose the time our bodies return to dust and our spirits return to Him in the afterlife“?

    You’re wearing blinders to the reality of God if you believe we, as mankind, don’t have some responsibility to choose when our bodies and/or specie returns to dust. In the Spirit there is no afterlife for the life we are born into by God is now as Their children.

    You keep putting your own spin on life and it is not reality.

    You ignore that David’s son’s life was of less value to God than David’s. If God saw all human life as equal in value then David would have paid the price with his life not his son’s.

  • Herm

    Eva, mankind is the only animal on earth made with the image of God, which is spirit manifested in heart, soul, strength, mind; the likeness of God. The physical that you were born into as an animal in the likeness of all other animals on earth is not spirit. According to the spirit defined in the Bible the spirit of mankind allows us the ability to rule over all other physical life on earth.

    All physical life is finite and will return to the elements of the planet from whence it came. Spirit life is infinite subject only to awareness to be considered alive. When born into God our spirit is no longer simply aware of the image but is one with God in spirit feeding off of each others’ reciprocal love to live. It is at that moment that our awareness is expanded to be potentially alive from then unto the end of eternity thanks to having become immersed in the Spirit of truth that has appeared as a dove to those seeing the birth occur.

    You clearly do not understand God beyond what your church and community of physical birth has taught you.

  • maggie1112

    Benjamin Corey shows
    himself to be a poor scholar for someone who says he has spent the last 8
    years studying the Bible. Learned men have been studying the same Book
    for thousands of years and have a much richer understanding than Corey
    has managed to discern. I could site these scholars but the Bible
    speaks best for itself in passages such as 2 Peter 1:20-21, ” . . . no
    prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no
    prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as
    they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” and 2 Timothy 3:16, “All
    Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for
    reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”. For
    anyone sincerely interested in knowing more about how God testifies to
    His written Word, here is a 40 minute message that scratches the
    surface. http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=319171933501.

  • Matthew

    Wow Phil … this is certainly timely. I´m currently reading a book by Rabbi Milton Steinberg entitled “Basic Judaism”.

    In it the rabbi asserts that the idea of the kingdom of God is the greatest gift Israel has given mankind. The Jewish traditionalists call it a perfected society of perfected men. That sounds a bit more “perfect” than what you describe :-).

    I wish I could email you the three pages or so in this book about the kingdom of God. Really good stuff!

  • I don’t know what you mean by the Jewish traditionalists. In the Sifra (Kedoshim 19), it refers to the Israelites accepting the yoke of the Kingdom of God at Mount Sinai. The Book of Jubilees 12:19 depicts Abraham as taking on God’s dominion as part of his role, which makes him king of the world according to the Sifre, Deut. 313. Lek Lekha in the Tanakh says that every proselyte takes upon themselves the kingdom of God. And according to Josephus, the kingdom of God was the basis of the Zealots refusing to recognize any human king.

    Milton Steinberg is an amazing thinker, but we also have to keep in mind that he was a Reconstructionist and led a Reformed Jewish congregation, so how much his own interpretations resembled Jesus’ or the Old Testament is something we’d have to take a look at, I guess. I haven’t read the book. That wouldn’t make his interpretations for our age wrong, necessarily, but I’d be hesitant to read his views back into the Old Testament the same way I’d be hesitant to read John Calvin’s views back into Paul.

  • Matthew

    What is all this “our age” versus “another age” talk Phil?

    I believe Milton Steinberg is talking about more orthodox Jews when he attempts to explain what the traditionalists believe about the kingdom of God.

  • Ages are periods of time characterized by a certain state of affairs. For instance, the Industrial Age is not the Bronze Age, etc. So, when I say “our age,” I mean “the way the world is for us today” as opposed to, say, the ancient world or the world of the Reformers or what have you.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Phil.

  • Steven Watson

    At the root of Aussie Rules was keeping cricketers fit in the winter… which probably makes it the only legitimate football code. :-)

  • Ron McPherson

    But the 66 book compilation of the biblical canon in use today did not exist in its present form when those passages you referenced were written. It’s a gigantic stretch to believe that Paul, when penning those words to Timothy, had in mind a book tucked under our arms, translated into the English language, transliterated from Greek and Hebrew texts originally written thousands of years prior. Any and all translations (including KJV, NIV, NASB, and on and on) must ‘interpret’ what they believe the original manuscripts said (even though those original manuscripts do not even exist today as far as we know). In fact, there is disagreement even today on what constitutes ‘God’s written word,’ even among Christians. Does it include the apocrypha? Some say yes, some say no. What manuscripts did not make the canon because a council of men decided to leave them out? What did the NT people of God do for the first three centuries without benefit of the leather bound parchments we use today? To be taken seriously as Christians, we have to be willing to acknowledge these issues. Ben is just offering an honest assessment.

    Peace and blessings

  • Matthew

    2 Timothy 3:16 seems to be the “go to” verse for proving that 66 books are inerrant and cannot be questioned. Is this really what the verse is teaching? What scripture(s) was Paul really talking about?

  • Jeff Preuss

    As for 2 Timothy 3:16:
    KJV: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

    Aramaic in plain English: “Every writing which is written by The Spirit is profitable for teaching, for correction, for direction and for a course in righteousness,”

    Both those translations (and several others) offer a different perspective on the nature of the words in Scripture. One says all Scripture is inspired by God, and the other implies there is a chance some “writing” is not written by the Spirit.

    At the end of the day, the people who decided what ‘counts’ as the Scriptures (or which writings were of the Spirit) were men, so we rely upon their interpretation of which texts are considered acceptable. And, you are relying on your personal interpretation, by using a particular translation of that verse, and not others…to back up your assessment that Ben is a “poor scholar.”

    To reiterate: “3. You’re reading the judgment call, and even bias, of a translator.” You just happen to believe your particular translation is the only possible ‘right’ one. It doesn’t make Ben a poor scholar to point out there are other translations.

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah, I used to read that 2 Timothy passage as if Paul had a bible in his hand at the time he wrote it, and then stuck the 2 Timothy letter in with the rest of the books and, viola, the NT canon was born. I don’t think it quite happened that way ; )

  • Dr Who

    Yeah, and “Bring back the death penalty” on one side and “Ban abortion” on the other. Go figure…

  • Rihari_Wilson

    Is it not only by Grace that any law can be followed, albeit with many failures? And only by Grace that we can be saved in spite of the failures.

  • Andris Stanga

    Wow! You know scholars who have studied for thousands of years! Are they even human? I never met anyone that old! You learned your logic from them? Must be true in that case….

  • Andris Stanga

    The canon is something ‘canonised’ by the authority of Rome, and originally this was a young emperor not long converted from Mithraism called Constantine. In theory he asked a whole bunch of bishops to help him, but was known to override the consensus decision for his own (inexperienced) preferences. The result was a collection of 70 books plus 7 other permitted apocryphal books. The 66 books is not the canon, but the Protestant editing of the canon. They chose not to include 2 of the books of history (1 & 2 Maccabees), The Wisdom of Solomon, and I think the other one was Esdras, but someone may correct me. It certainly helps to understand what the Bible is about when you know the history of it. And some here have been quoting 2 Timothy 3:16, not realising that it in no way refers to the New Testament. The latter had not even been written! It’s kind of an example in point of the need to know what the original author means for his original audience. What was scripture to Paul who, as the Sanhedrin member Saul was a highly educated rabbi? It was certainly a lot more than we have included in our Old Testament! There’s a lot to this, and only the insecure are swift to attack those who make them think again about what they thought they knew.

  • Ada Choi

    Hello Benjamin L. Corey, thanks for sharing this information about 5 things to know while reading the Bible. Yes, I love to learn different languages. When I learned the Hebrew language by using the flashcards that I have purchased from Carddia, I found it very easy and learned Hebrew. And after reading this book I felt proud that I learned the Hebrew language also read Bible language through flashcards.

  • liberalinlove

    Perfect example of what Benjamin Corey was talking about. In the past I would have said the same thing. And then I realized my fear in letting God teach me so that my own private interpretation may not circumvent God’s meaning.
    I am sure you do not apply this scripture as read and understood a century ago. Hubris is a strange commodity.
    “A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 22:5
    Remember when your reference was written IT was not considered scripture and most likely was speaking of the Old Testament.

  • How do we really know if any of it is true? Perhaps it is all a complete fabrication, handed down and embellished over time. Who was actually there recording exactly what was said at the time it was said? No reporters. No cameras. No pen and paper. I’m not saying it is not true, just offering food for thought.

  • elvira

    Aramaic? But the NT was originally written in Greek.

  • Jeff Preuss

    That was just the name of the translation I referenced. One of a number available on biblehub.com. I am not aware of the specifics of what language is translated from which.

    There’s a wikipedia entry for the translation which states:
    “The hypothesis of an Aramaic original for the New Testament holds that the original text of the New Testament was not written in Greek, as held by the majority of scholars, but in the Aramaic language, which was the language of Jesus and the Apostles.”

    So, there is apparently some debate as to the original language.

    [Edit: whoops. I misspelled ‘there.’]

  • D.M.S.

    Peace and blessings my arse.
    Mr. Wolf wrote his own book
    ‘ doctrines of demons ‘.
    False, fake doctrine is your game,
    Mr. Wolf.
    You’re trying to tell the Christian world that the KJV, NASB, and the NIV are false scripture.
    I’ve never even seen a satanic bible.
    But I’m pretty sure that you have cases of them to pass out to your congregation.

  • Ron McPherson

    “You’re trying to tell the Christian world that the KJV, NASB, and the NIV are false scripture.”

    Good to see you continue to bear false witness, either that or you have reading comprehension issues .

  • D.M.S.

    Good to see that you’re keeping up your end.
    Of spreading more of your master satans LIES to the world.

  • Ron McPherson

    Um, where did I say that the KJV, NASB, and the NIV are false scripture? I said that the “KJV, NIV, NASB and on and on” must ‘interpret’ what they believe the original manuscripts said. That’s just a reality. But somehow you took that and leaped to the accusation that I said they were “false scripture” lol. You just operate in a reality all your own don’t you?

    And by the way, are you the one who said that versions other than KJV and NKJV were perverted, or was that someone else?

  • D.M.S.

    LOL… There are many scholars that state that we have the original manuscripts.
    So who’s telling the truth your scholars or mine.
    Is Benjamin Corey one of your scholars?
    See you give the idea in your presentation that these bibles can’t be trusted. If You can give an inkling of doubt.
    Your master Deciever wins.
    That’s what fake, false teachers like you and Herm try to do is give as much doubt as possible.
    Like your manure about Mathew only being written for the Jews of that time only.
    You’re doing the same thing now trying to put doubt in our conversation. That’s what false, fake teachers such as yourselves do with Christian scripture you sow the seeds of doubt. You probably work for MSNBC or CNN they deliver fake, made up news everyday.
    You get on the job training to LIE to Christians.

  • YellowBird

    i really appreciated this essay. two years into deconditioning from the F-EV tradition, i’ve been missing reading the bible. but every time i try, what still jumps off the pages ends up being all the wrong-headed stuff i was ingrained with for most of my life. i havent yet been able to remove those lenses even tho i now recognize they give a very skewed image. but i do still believe there is much value & wisdom to be found in those ancient writings so i’m working toward a place where i can start fresh, able to see what i’m reading without toxic fundamentalist overlay. what you have written here helps me move forward a little more. thank you for sharing this wisdom gained from your own journey forward

  • YellowBird


  • YellowBird

    i have to think that “lust” refers in the fullest sense to “greed” in general, and that weaponizing the term into an attack on specific people groups/social categories causes it to completely lose its real meaning.

    what if we, as individual people, just thought in terms of, the bible can teach us to Stop. Being. Greedy. and then allowed that lesson to apply in whatever ways its relevant throughout our own lives?

  • YellowBird

    i’m about a year late coming into this whole conversation (‘scuse me pls) – but ecstatic to be here reading this entire dialogue! after 2 years deconditioning from nearly a lifetime in the F-EV tradition (multigen Biola family to be exact) i have begun trying to unravel the tangles of my socio-religious understandings… only to discover the more i attempt to study the history of our religion, the more deeply tangled it becomes!
    thank you Matthew for asking in such well-stated ways so many of the very questions my poor brain struggles to even coherently formulate – and thank you Phil Ledgerwood for taking the time to so thoughtfully lay out your detailed responses. i’ll continue my best efforts to study lessons from humankind’s past and attempt to figure out how to properly apply real wisdom to my present & future… i feel that i’ve seen glimmers of Light but also as if my brain is unable to fully comprehend what my soul is struggling to perceive… like a near-sighted person straining to see the stars out in space, only able to recognize something brightly shimmering far, far away

  • YellowBird

    ooh! i second that emotion :)

  • YellowBird

    erm, arriving here a year late, but i guess thats relevant because what has happened in the mean time is a bunch of the Big Name Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, plus the Donald, his Core Team, and several of his family members have all made Official Pronouncements to the effect that all those NOT on board his train are not truly “Christian” (etc & whatever that even means to them…)

  • YellowBird

    a couple hundred years ago it was a “sin” for ladies to wear pants. in some christian cultures it still is today.
    50 years ago it was a “sin” for ladies to show up in church w/o hats & gloves.
    ladies had to wear their hats through the service – but it was a “sin” for men to keep their hats on indoors.
    30 years ago it was a “sin” to show up in anything other than your Sunday Best
    in some american christian cultures its still a “sin” for ladies to go outdoors w hair uncovered or use makeup
    in plenty of american christian cultures it’s a “sin” to gamble, play card games, smoke tobacco or even drink coffee
    in apostle Paul’s opinion, it was evidently a “sin” for women to sit in worship meetings with men, some still agree today
    lots of modern american christians believe its a “sin” to have tattoos or pierced jewelry
    not too long ago guitars were called “the devils instrument” and it was a dire “sin” to play one, especially in church
    some american christian cultures still forbid dancing as a “sin”
    some believe eating pork or shellfish is a “sin”. other say making any rules about foods is a “sin”
    some christian cultures say its a “sin” to meet for church on saturday, others that its a “sin” to meet on sunday
    the ancient hebrew men wore gold earrings – many modern christian cultures say its a “sin” for men to wear earrings of any kind
    then theres the whole debate over “mortal sins” vs “sins of commission” vs “sins of omission” vs “sins of ignorance” vs “used to be sin but not now becoz Age Of Grace” etc etc
    seems like a lot of christians are sure focussed on the concept of sins but really dont agree on much about any specifics.
    lots of finger-pointing and guilting and condemnation tho
    especially in Fundamentalist & Evangelical (fundy-lite) circles…cant speak for other branches, F/EV was my religious life experience

  • TrishinTexas

    Inspiring essay! I am going to share it with our Saving Jesus class at church because it helps one appreciate the value of the mindset, context, and intent of the messages as originally relayed. When such things are understood, the truth and beauty of God’s message is allowed to shine through.

  • Cordel

    Peter had been told by God that he could eat all the foods condemned in the old testament, and yet you believe that every other word in it was inspired by God and therefore invaluable? It is too bad that you could not listen to the wisdom in what Benjamin said. I find it interesting that those who believe in ONE GOD believe that He brought no word to the Chinese, the Indians, the Japanese, all of the other peoples of the world. I find that especially amazing when I discover the Golden Rule in every major philosophy in the world. It also amazes me that the Golden Rule is the one rule in the Bible that evangelical Christians seem to ignore.

  • God did not tell Peter that – you conclude incorrectly on that point.
    Ben and wisdom are not compatible – most of his interpretations are entirely his own and very, very flawed.
    If you would study biblical history you would learn where those races came from and that they had the Word of God in the beginning. They diverged from there.
    Golden Rule – does that mean the killer of Doctor (butcher) Tiller should be set free? Or, do you have an excuse for baby killing?

  • Bones

    Lol a 40 minute sermon by some fundy nutter is evidence……

    I see your nonsense and counter it with

    4/9/2016 “Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy” Bishop John Shelby Spong


    Oh and it goes for 1 hour 50 minutes….

  • Bones

    “LOL… There are many scholars that state that we have the original manuscripts.”

    Really? Which scholars are these?

    Where are they then?

    If the copies we have are originals than the books of the Bible were written centuries later.

  • D.M.S.

    Christ Jesus is my Lord and Savior.
    We all have to accept Him by faith or perish in hell for eternity.

  • Bones

    Swap Jesus Christ for favourite dogmatic belief……

    Just empty threats….made out of fear and ignorance.

  • Bones

    I asked you a question which you replied with incoherent nonsense.

    Did you do the same at school?

    Teacher: What’s 2+2 , DMS?

    DMS: Christ Jesus is my Lord and Savior.
    We all have to accept Him by faith or perish in hell for eternity.

    I want to know where these original versions of the New Testament are.

    You made the claim.

    It’s the first I’ve heard of it and would be a completely amazing find, given that the only manuscripts we have are dated centuries later.

  • Connie Beane

    The first thing you need to do is define which “the bible” you mean. Most Americans think that “the bible” is the KJV or one of its derivatives. As my brother-in-law responded when his brother once asked him which bible he was referring to in one of their discussions, “Why, the HOLY Bible of course!” Anyone who has studied the matter even casually knows that “the bible” is a recent construct, cobbled together from a handful of translations of ancient books, some of them chosen from two or more available translations at that. You should also be aware that there are books in the Roman Catholic “the bible” which are not in the Protestant “the bible.” Trying to pick universal truths out of “the bible” is therefore a slippery matter.