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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Biblical Inerrancy IV: Revelation, General and Specific

God’s friendship with men begins and grows through speech; His to us in revelation, and ours to Him in prayer and praise. Though I cannot see God, He and I can yet be personal friends, because in revelation He talks to me.
- J.I. Packer


We previously covered the ground rules and introduction to the series, reduced confusion by separating terms and ideas often confused with inerrancy, identified the faulty arguments against inerrancy, and defined inerrancy. If you haven’t reviewed these, please do!

There are two basic building blocks to any faith system – ontological (who God is) and epistemological (how we know God). While the two are certainly intertwined, we can only develop ontological ideas through epistemology. How can we know God?

Unlike the gods of the imagination and the gods made of wood and stone, our God speaks! (Deut 4:33). We call the ways God speaks “revelation”, how he reveals himself to us. If it were not for the fact that he has spoken, we could not know him. Revelation can be practically defined as "the unveiling of something that is hidden so that it may be seen and known for what it is.” It is not the creation of truth into existence, but exposing the truth present and making it known. A simple metaphor: an auction of a painting under cloth, and the moment when the cloth is pulled away is revelation. The auctioneer did not make the painting, but he revealed it. God’s truth is not created in revelation but made known in it. Thus, every truth we know given to us by revelation is given to us as an act of God’s grace. Without it we would be left in the dark. Karl Barth wrote, “God did not have to tell us these things but in his grace did. There can be arrogant professors of science, English, history, etc, but there can be no proud theologian, because every truth they study is given to them by grace.” Revelation is not a matter of human discovery, but of divine disclosure.

The Bible speaks of the revelation of God; that he has chosen what to reveal of himself. In Psalm 19 we read of how the created order speaks of God’s nature. Matthew 11 shows that God reveals some things to some and keeps them from others, and only God himself knows everything about God: At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. See also Matthew 16:13-17. We need revelation because God is transcendent because He is so much greater than us, He is holy, He is pure, He’s beyond our comprehension. We’re fallen and finite. Thus we need Him to do something to bring us to Him. This gulf can only be reached, not by man reaching in through human exploration of someone, but given by God. The fullest and most direct is the Incarnation (God coming to Earth as the man, Jesus Christ), but all revelation is from God. He must bridge the gulf.

There are two primary divisions of revelation – general and specific (often called ‘special’).

General Revelation

General revelation is general in its scope and its substance. It reveals God’s power, wisdom, etc. There are two avenues of general revelation – creation and the conscience of man.

Romans 1 gives a detailed description of the revelation of creation: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. Creation attests to God’s existence, power and glory.

Man’s conscience is the other avenue of general revelation. As demonstrated in Romans 2, man’s conscience is the revelation of God written on man’s hearts, expressed in moral sensibility, moral action and moral judgment; “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

These things are true across time and across cultures. When Abraham tells the king of Egypt that Sarah is his sister, we all, whoever and wherever we are, recognize that he has lied and that it is wrong. Thou shalt not steal is universal, as are other moral laws of God.

Specific Revelation

It is specific in scope and substance. Scope – it is given to some, not to all: to Abraham, and no one else; to Israel, not Egypt, not Babylon. It is more specific in detail – we learn of the trinity not through the heavens, but through His Word, as well as his purposes, plans & will, the duties of man. We have the moral law upon our hearts, but we learn in greater detail through special revelation. God chose when to speak and how – creation, the flood, the selection of Israel, the giving of the law, and the Incarnation occurred at specific times. There are four types of specific revelation.

1) Personal Encounter: God confronting and talking to people. Examples include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, and Mary. Think of the burning bush – God speaking directly to an individual, which is not shared (at least in actual experience) with anyone else.

2) Mighty Act: God’s action (aside from speaking) that is an amazing work – creation, the Exodus, the Assyrian plague (2 Kings 19 & Is 36-39), the Cross & the Resurrection. While acts such as the burning bush or Jonah’s survival in the belly of a whale are also mighty acts, they are acts between God and an individual. Mighty acts are acts of God that involve whole groups, in a revelation that can be attested to by more than one individual.

3) Propositional Revelation: Revelation in the form of human language. It includes poetic, narrative, parable, didactic statements. It is a larger category than Scripture (an obvious example of propositional revelation), because it includes things said that were not recorded (as stated at the end of the Gospel of St. John for example). Read Peter’s sermon to Cornelius in Acts 10. It only takes 20 seconds to read aloud – do we think Peter spoke a 20 second sermon that lead to the conversion of a whole group of Gentiles? Obviously not!

4) Incarnation: Is all three of the avenues of special revelation taken together. In fact, it is the greatest example of each. Deut 18:15 was fulfilled! Jesus quotes Moses – “You have heard that it was said” then goes on to say, “But I say unto you”! How can he speak with more authority than Moses? Because he is the Incarnation of God himself! Moses brought them the words from God, but Jesus, as God, could tell them exactly what his intent with the giving of the law was!

What is the importance of special revelation? It is the only way that the gospel is delivered (Psalm 19:7-11, Hebrews 2:3, 2 Tim 3:15) and because it is specific, it must be obeyed. Also, if special revelation is the only method of salvation, we must bring the gospel to all – 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 shows how it is through the preaching of the word that men are saved, and Acts 4:2 and Roman 10:8-17 demonstrates that faith in Jesus Christ specifically heard through the proclamation of propositional revelation, is the only way to come to eternal life.

Without God’s interpretations of His actions, they would not have been fully understood. Many witnessed the Exodus out of Egypt, the Babylonian captivity of Israel, the death of Christ, or the empty tomb. But all did not see the same meaning in these acts. Only God’s revelation can tell us, for example, that the crucifixion of Christ was “for our sins”. Unless God reveals the meaning of his actions, we can never be sure of their full significance.

A revelation through words is also necessary for personal relationship. The warm personal relationships of life are carried on by means of conversation, and the deaf man is largely severed from those relationships. The soundless world is far more frustrating than the sightless world. Radio drama is entertaining, but a television drama without its soundtrack is robbed of meaning. In life as in drama it is the word which carries the meaning; it is the word which is the element of cohesion; and it is the word which is the necessary presupposition for warm personal friendships. God’s special revelation is designed for personal fellowship, and this requires words so that we might understand the actions of God and respond to them.

It is necessary to note here that there is no conflict (despite the assertions of some) between Christ as the personal Word of God and God’s verbal Word. It is, of course, possible to focus on the words of Scripture without fellowshipping with the living Word of whom it speaks – this is a real danger in legalist fundamentalism in particular. Indeed, some of the Jews in Jesus’ day studied the Scriptures intently, believing (truthfully) them to give the way of life. But Jesus told them, “It is these [Scriptures] that bear witness of me; and you are unwilling to come to me, that you might have life” (John 5:39-40). Unfortunately some “Bible-believing” people know all about the Bible, but they do not have a living relationship with Christ.

Yet, according to the Scriptures, there can be no real separation between the written words and the personal Word. In our own communication with another person, his or her words are the way we get to know that person’s thoughts and feelings. In a real sense a person’s words are an extension of that individual as he or she seeks to bridge the distance between himself or herself and another. The assertion that we cannot know someone through their words is illogical, for “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh”. We cannot understand actions without words to express the intentions and beliefs of the person who makes those actions. I and Mary Beth both have read books by Marcus Borg, but unless we tell you what we think of those books and why we read them, you have no idea how we relate to those books. Similarly, the living God who came to earth in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, reveals his heart and mind to humanity through the medium of language, the verbal word of God.

A warning comes with these revelations – these specific revelations exist, which eliminates the use of our intuitions to determine if or how they happened or not. Our intuitions, unless we are people who spend hours a day for years investing in Scripture, are shaped primarily by our culture, our experiences, and our emotions, and are hence notoriously unreliable, because they are not a revelation by God, but a creation of man and his surroundings.

Jesus no longer walks among us as a man. The Holy Spirit communicates with men, but how can one man know if the Spirit has communicated with another man, or if he is mistaken? We cannot exclusively rely upon personal communication with God for our doctrine and directions. A good example is the Worldwide Anglican Communion. The Western, affluent arm of the communion has significant numbers who claim that homosexual ordination is acceptable. The rest of the communion disagrees. Both claim communion with the spirit and agreement in their local church communities. Therefore, the only final and authoritative source of revelation must be an inerrant Scripture, which can be read by all men, and can help us discern when men are speaking from the influence of the spirit, or from the influence of something else in matters of doctrine, faith, and practice.

Obviously many do not always agree. Those who disagree on the roles of these types of revelation and how they relate to an inerrant scripture are the subject of the next post, “Alternate Views of Scripture”, which will be followed by the conclusion to the series, “Why It Matters” that will defend the need for inerrancy.

38 Comments:

  • Hammer, I’m glad you mentioned the Romans 1 passage:

    For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    I wonder how you (or anyone else who might like to answer) reconcile the above with the idea that only special revelation—not general—is the catalyst for regeneration (Matthew 16:13-20, John 3:1-21, 8:37-47, 17:14, 17, etc.). I’m particularly curious about how, exactly, the notion that “they are without excuse” is logically consistent with the fact that God has “blinded the eyes” of those to whom He chose, and chooses, not to reveal Himself (Isaiah 6:9-10, Romans 9:6-7, 13, 17, 22, etc.).

    [Note: I’m not simply trying to stir the pot; I just thought that this particular post in the series—on Biblical inerrancy no less—presented a good opportunity to clear-up an apparent contradiction. Now, I have an answer to my question, but I wanted to compare it to another’s.]

    By Blogger Robert, at 9/24/2006 01:20:00 PM  

  • Robert,
    I'm going to bail on the question - not because I don't think it is important, but because I think that the subject is off the path of the direction that I'd like the comments to take.

    That said, if no one has comments in the main thread by Thursday, I'll hop on it!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/25/2006 01:01:00 PM  

  • I have another question that perhaps you won't want to dive into right now, but I think goes to the heart of this discussion. My problem is we know beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible is not inerrant. Neither one of us wants to get into science versus religion thing right now, we have had that debate many times, but this leads to another question.

    If you believed, like me, that parts of the Bible were in direct conflict with reality and therefore could not be inerrant, what would the correct approach to the Bible and Christianity be?

    Would the Bible need to be rejected completely as a lie? It would seem this is the logical conclusion of your approach. Is there any other avenue for one like me?

    By Blogger Mark, at 9/25/2006 06:10:00 PM  

  • Mark,
    Did you read my post defining inerrancy? If you had, you would think that "parts of the Bible were in direct conflict with reality and therefore could not be inerrant"...

    unless, of course, you don't believe in God, or like some professing Christians, don't believe in a God who actually does anything.

    Take, for example, the narrative of Jonah and the whale. It doesn't matter one bit that a man cannot survive for three days in the digestive tract of a great sea creature. God kept Jonah alive supernaturally. A rejection of the story based merely upon "men can't live in whales" is beyond declaring that God is not omnipotent, but is actually a declaration that God is impotent to do anything at all.

    I'm not explaining away every passage you don't like as "supernatural", but when God is involved in the human narrative, he does what he wishes.

    There is a big difference between, "Jim prayed to God that he would be able to pay off his daughter's slavery bond. Jim was told in a vision to mix coal and lead in a bag and God would provide payment. Jim was doubtful, but he obeyed and mixed the little bit of coal he had with and a small bar of lead in a bag, and when he opened the bag, there was gold inside! God had provided for his daughter's freedom!"; and "Jim mixed coal and lead in a bag. Coal mixed with lead will make gold. That made the lead turn to gold. Now Jim was rich."

    Get it?

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/26/2006 05:28:00 PM  

  • I wasn't talking about miracles. Just because I can't turn lead to gold doesn't mean God can't. Also, I have no problem believing in things I can't directly observer or can't be explained with science; I believe in many such things. I'm not even complaining about the supernatural.

    You can tell me God turned lead into gold and I'm fine, but you can't tell my the lead I'm holding is gold. That is what I mean by "direct conflict with reality."

    The universe is significantly older than 10,000 years; we know that beyond a reasonable doubt. Your theology insists I lie to myself about that or reject your religion completely. The choice is clear.

    I was expecting that answer but hoping for something where you honestly attempted to put yourself in my shoes.

    By Blogger Mark, at 9/27/2006 03:54:00 AM  

  • "the only final and authoritative source of revelation must be an inerrant Scripture"

    This claim may be fine, but is open to misinterpretation.

    (a) "final" - means that the Bible has the last word, once correctly interpreted (see the definition of inerrancy). It doesn't mean "final in time". God has revealed a great many new things to the Church since the books of the Bible were written - the composition of the Bible itself, for example, and the contents of the catholic creeds. These new things must be compared with the revelation of God in Scripture, but may also require that we reinterpret that Scripture to accomodate the new things we are taught. Such reinterpretation must be undertaken with great care but it has happened several times (at least) in the history of the Church and will doubtless happen again.

    (b)"authoritative" - again, gains meaning only in the context of the Church. The Bible does not have a meaning in isolation. It only has meaning when read under God in the Church. As with the definition of inerrancy, the act of interpretation is part of what gives the Bible its authority.

    (c) "the only final and authoritative source of revelation" - is not the Bible. The final and authoritive source of revelation is God. God the Holy Spirit is the channel through which we are given these revelations. The Bible is a record of God's self-revelations, and contains everything necessary for salvation. But it is not itself the final source. God will never contradict the Bible - but does cause us to change how we have understood it. You rightly point out that we must have a referent against which to judge God's words. But God's words are still God's. We ignore them at our peril.
    This may sound like playing with words, but it is actually an essential concept to get right. The Bible is what it only because it reflects the greater glory of God. A creation can never be the "final and authoritative source" of anything.

    (d) "an inerrant Scripture" - when understood as you defined it previously. The Bible as a set of words has neither meaning nor authority. Only in the act of interpretation within the Church does it gain either. And, with them, inerrancy. But the Body is not all of one mind on many things. Which raises issues with the "inerrant" truth in such circumstances.

    So, if I can perhaps rephrase your sentence, let me know whether it's still OK with you:
    "the ultimate authoritative revelation must be an inerrant Scripture read in the community of faith..."

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 05:46:00 AM  

  • Mark,
    "Your theology insists I lie to myself about that or reject your religion completely. The choice is clear."

    You will be glad, then, to hear that a great many Christians have a different theology. A great many of us understand how to read myth and poetry as myth and poetry. We can take the Bible as the inerrant, truthful and authoritative self-revelation of God, without requiring us to believe seven impossible things before breakfast.

    There is a difference between factual and true that some people find hard to grasp, especially those steeped in Modernism. Despite the many flaws it has, Postmodernism has nonetheless delivered a devastating critique of Modernism and its reliance on objective factuality as the prime conduit of truth. Learning once more to read the Bible through non-Modern eyes is invaluable (not denying what we have learned, but not imposing false categories on it either).

    I hope that helps somewhat!

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 05:52:00 AM  

  • Mark, where does the Bible explicitly say that the earth is only 10,000 years old?

    Also, I wonder if you can point out other specific instances where the Bible is in "direct conflict with reality"?


    John: ”God has revealed a great many new things to the Church since the books of the Bible were written - the composition of the Bible itself, for example…”

    You’ll have to do better than “the composition of the Bible” to support a claim such as that.

    ”The Bible does not have a meaning in isolation. It only has meaning when read under God in the Church.”

    Yeah, and if a tree falls in the forest, it won’t make a sound.

    ”The Bible as a set of words has neither meaning nor authority. Only in the act of interpretation within the Church does it gain either.”

    Words mean things; specifically, they mean what the author or speaker intend.

    By Blogger Robert, at 9/27/2006 08:36:00 AM  

  • Robert,
    "You’ll have to do better than “the composition of the Bible” to support a claim such as that."

    Well, I did add another example in the sentence you quoted (the catholic creeds). There are plenty of others, but it wasn't appropriate or (I thought) necessary to list them in a post to which the point was tangential. A belief that all revelation from God ceased when the Bible had been written is not consonant with orthodox Christianity - it is a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit. Read the many different sorts of "revelation" Hammer discussed for some indications of the sorts of thing that God still says in revelation to us.

    As for the rest, I don't subscribe to your highly Modernist understanding of truth, but we knew that already. Meaning occurs only in the mind, whether of the writer or the reader - the written words are a medium of communication; they are not meaning itself. To understand the Bible correctly, it must be interpreted correctly (as Hammer laid out in his definition of inerrancy). It can be interpreted correctly only in the community of faith led by God. Biblical interpretation is not an exercise for the individual in isolation - although we can and should read by ourselves, our understanding must be informed and corrected by the community of faith.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 09:41:00 AM  

  • Hammer,
    Oh, and one other thing. The "only" in that sentence is definitely wrong. The Bible is not the only place in which we find revelation. The Bible itself tells us as much, and your list contains several sources outside the Bible. You may have noticed I omitted this word from my reformulation - it wasn't accidental, but I did forget to list it!

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 11:30:00 AM  

  • Mark, I'm responding to you by using John's comments from above. Remember, we aren't supposed to worship a god that the church tells us to worship-one that may be inferior to their "bigness", but we are to worship Jesus Christ.

    ”The Bible does not have a meaning in isolation. It only has meaning when read under God in the Church.”

    Ugh. One must decide whether or not he or she needs an intermediary between their study of the Bible and Christ. The Bible tells me I don't, and I shouldn't.

    Remember that the 12 apostles names are carved in the stone in Revelation-not the remainder of the apostlistic succession! Please also remember that we have one way to salvation-one particular situation: "Believeth in Him". Not sacraments. This is a creation of religion.

    ”The Bible as a set of words has neither meaning nor authority. Only in the act of interpretation within the Church does it gain either.”

    Wrong again. Believe it or not, someone reading the Bible, absent of the RC church's interpretation, is gaining both meaning AND authority. God, through the Bible gives them this-Not the church!

    Being a Christian does not mean being a member of the Roman Catholic Church. It means being a member of the body of Christ which is accomplished by faith and trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sins.

    It means that you do not add your works to His work. Membership in a church doesn't forgive sins. Doing works of penance doesn't forgive sins. Praying to Mary doesn't forgive sins. Forgiveness is received in the faithful trust and acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

    You must trust Jesus, God in flesh, for the forgiveness of sins, not a man made ritual and certainly not the catholic saints. Even though Roman Catholic Church affirms the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and His physical resurrection, it greatly errs in its doctrine of salvation by adding works to salvation.

    I just wanted to offer that up. Religion isn't salvation. Jesus Christ is.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/27/2006 11:51:00 AM  

  • RT,
    "”The Bible does not have a meaning in isolation. It only has meaning when read under God in the Church.”
    Ugh. One must decide whether or not he or she needs an intermediary between their study of the Bible and Christ. The Bible tells me I don't, and I shouldn't.
    "

    How, though, does one person in isolation test their understanding? How do they work out whether they are reading the correct meaning or are wrong, or even deceiving themselves? This isn't about requiring an intermediary between us and God - it's about discerning whether we are truly hearing God or not. Only in community with our brothers and sisters in Christ can this testing be done. It is impossible for anyone to police their own understanding of God. If we try to understand God all by ourselves, we cut ourselves off from the wisdom of those who trod this road before us, and open ourselves up to errors both old and new.

    And I never said anything about the RC Church so I'm going to disregard all that rant. I'm not Roman Catholic myself, so I'm hardly likely to say that one must submit to the Bishop of Rome! I suspect that you saw the word "catholic" in the phrase "catholic creeds" and leapt to the wrong conclusion. The catholic creeds are the universal creeds to which all churches assent - the Apostle's creed and the Nicene creed are the main ones.

    "The Bible as a set of words has neither meaning nor authority. Only in the act of interpretation within the Church does it gain either.”
    someone reading the Bible ... is gaining both meaning AND authority.
    "

    Which is exactly what I said, so we clearly agree on the basics of this - it is the act of reading (which means interpreting, both Hammer and I are happy using that term in this context) that gives someone the meaning. If the Bible isn't read, it has no meaning. So, submission to the wisdom of the wider Body is the only issue. (This doesn't mean that the individual doesn't hear God when reading, but that this hearing is only tested and affirmed in the community.) If you remove the idea of the RC church from this picture, do you still deny that we should read the Bible as part of the community of faith? Or do you hold that the individual is supreme?

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 12:13:00 PM  

  • I wanted to add, since my last post appeared to be an attack on the RC church, that it is not.

    I disagree, wholeheartedly with the RC church's doctrine, as well as their stance that they are the "true church".

    That said, there aren't denominations in heaven. There are only the saved-That is the precursor! Who is saved, and who isn't?

    By the liberal application perspective, we have no way of knowing, and the path is wider than what the Bible specifies, due to "new personal revelations", "church interpretation", and liberal applications of scripture, not based on beliefs in inerrancy.

    The summary of commentary seems to be that the Bible names the only path to salvation as being a belief (knowing what they are believing) and following (living out a life for the Christ that was described in the Bible) of the one true Christ. Some believe that-others do not.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/27/2006 12:14:00 PM  

  • John,

    In recent comments here and elsewhere, I have been hearing about "the church", "the sacraments", "chuch interpretation", etc.

    I didn't say you were RC. I have no idea what you are. I was speaking to Mark, because your comments about church interpretation are the same as RC view.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/27/2006 12:17:00 PM  

  • How, though, does one person in isolation test their understanding? How do they work out whether they are reading the correct meaning or are wrong, or even deceiving themselves?

    The test is if it is in opposition to Scripture. These churches that teach things that are in opposition to Scripture, and then pass it off as "authority" are false teachers. Where did they get their authority? God wouldn't grant authority to go against His Word. He is not a God of confusion.

    False teachers exist, and the true test is whether or not it is Biblical-not whether or not a church leader/council says it is right despite it lacking truth.

    Thanks for the discussion. I've said enough!

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/27/2006 12:24:00 PM  

  • RT,
    "your comments about church interpretation are the same as RC view"

    No they aren't. My views are, in this respect only, rather similar to the RC view. That's no reason to launch into a lengthy rant against the RC Church when it's got nothing to do with the current debate.

    "The test is if it is in opposition to Scripture."

    But, if Hammer is correct, then we can only determine the inerrant meaning of Scripture after it has been correctly interpreted. That is, the correct meaning cannot be detected without correct interpretation. And how can one determine the correct interpetation? Clearly, it cannot be "tested against Scripture" for we then have a circular definition - interpretation tested by an interpreted Scripture.

    The orthodox answer is that the community of faith (the wider Church) is the conduit for that assessment to take place. The communion of saints hears God's voice more clearly and accurately than any one person in isolation. This is the position that I have been attempting to articulate. The other alternative is the Modernist "supreme individual" in which each individual places their own vision highest - a very non-biblical view.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 12:46:00 PM  

  • The Bible has already been interpreted correctly. I am asserting that a departure from this, (as we have seen in the more recent past) is a result of cultural influence into the church-not the other way around. I don't wish to receive my "authority" from man/men, who have departed from the Bible.

    That's my take. I know you disagree. It's all good. That's why there are different denominations, and why I attend church where the word is taught as literally as possible.

    In other words, things like communion are done, baptism, prayer, study, teaching, fellowship...that's it. The pastor yields to the Bible having ultimate authority, and sola scriptura and inerrancy is a cornerstone.

    I offered information to Mark about my view of the RC church, since they were related to a few of your comments to Mark-ie: church interpretation of the Word because it has no authority without the church, etc. Since I don't know what your church is, I saw connections, and offered them to Mark, as not being the universal opinion of Christians.

    I have no intention on any discussion further. I didn't mean to imply you were RC or anything else-just drew parallels.

    I just wanted to clarify that what you called a "rant" was quite related to the comments.

    By Blogger Rightthinker, at 9/27/2006 02:16:00 PM  

  • John,
    Well, your responses were exactly what I expected, and are all addressed in the next two posts, so I won't respond here to them - except to provide clarity where you seem to be confused.

    A review of the definition post makes it clear that the only "interpretation" necessary relates to understanding the meaning of the author in his place and time. Hence, the very specific verbiage, when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and the means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purposes for which it was given. Inerrancy is about the meaning of the author, not the meaning the reader attributes to the text himself or the meaning the reader's community attributes to it. There is no wide reaching felxibility that you seek to attach to my definition. I know you call what you believe "inerrancy", yet it is fundamentally different from what I have defined. I'll define your for everyone in the next post.

    The creeds and the canon, unlike anything propsed by theologians in the past 150 years, are explcitly Biblical. There is nothing in the creed not found explicitly in scripture. Thus, nothing "new" there.

    That said, I didn't imply it was the final revelation in time, but the final authoritative revelation. Your revelation due to a personal encounter can be a true revelation - it simply cannot contradict Scripture. By the way, "reinterpreting" to mean something completely different is still contradiction. For example, "a bishop must be the husband of one wife" reinterpreted as "a bishop must be a person of any sex who is not married to more than one person of any sex" are contradiction. One states "only men married to a woman", the other "anybody not a polygamist".

    Authority has nothing to do with interpretation (except as noted above), nor the church. That is, of course, at odds with the RC view - but that is in the next post as well.

    The Bible is not a "record of revelation". It is itself revelation. Of course it is not the source of revelation - but it is final and authoritative next to other forms of revelation. The term source was not used to mean "the beginning or place of origin of revelation", but "a place in which revelation is found", just like the other sources I listed. I thought you understood that.

    Also, John, you are under the faulty Modernist paradigm, not Robert. Perhaps you should start with researching the sources and theological implications of Modernism before you attribute your own error to others! What do you consider the primary tenet of Modernism (note - I'd really like you to pursue this on your blog, since it's kind of extra to this thread)?

    Ah yes, community. I challenged you on this before. We'll get there again, later.

    Mark,
    I'm not sure where you got the idea that I, or the Scriptures, insist that the earth is 10k old. There are several ways to look at the information we have in Scripture and science - some included a gap in between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, others look at the fundamental flaws in carbon dating's underlying assumptions. Nothing in the creed mentions a 10,000 year old earth belief either - many godly Christian men don't believe that.

    I have put myself in your shoes, so I wonder - Was that the best you could come up with? Surely there has to be more than something you heard from some Bible-basher to keep you from belief...

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/27/2006 03:30:00 PM  

  • I chose to go with the 10,000 year point because it seemed the simplest. 10,000 years is the maximum age Young Earth Creationists give to the universe; see an very convoluted attempt to work around that here at AIG. Basically I'm talking about the whole of Genesis.

    We've had many discussions on evolution, young earth, etc., so I didn't think there was any need to get into the details; you already know where I stand. This has nothing to do with Bible bashing and everything to do with science bashing.

    But that discussion is tangental to the one you are trying to have. My point is your version of Biblical inerrancy creates a theology that rejects science and rejects me.

    What you fail to see is you are pushing people away. Everyone one here agrees that the Truth that matters for salvation has nothing to do with evolution, the age of the universe or science. But your theology forces me to reject your religion before I can even get to the point of salvation.

    People always talk of the world attacking Christianity, pushing it away. What you don't realize is you are the ones doing most of the pushing. Or at least, doing your part.

    By Blogger Mark, at 9/27/2006 03:57:00 PM  

  • Mark,
    It appears to us that you choose a position of "Young Earth Creationists" because it enables you to justify rejection of Scripture. We both know that many adherents of full inerrancy do not hold to a young earth age.

    The Bible does not reject science in any fashion.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/27/2006 04:08:00 PM  

  • We both know that many adherents of full inerrancy do not hold to a young earth age.

    Actually, I do not know that. How do they justify that belief? I've actually agreed with your definition of inerrancy so far and don't see how an inerrant Genesis doesn't directly contradict science. The only way you handle it is to reject very large sums of scientific consensus and replace it with ... something else entirely.

    It appears to us that you choose a position of "Young Earth Creationists" because it enables you to justify rejection of Scripture.

    Sigh... If you need to believe that don't let me stop you.

    By Blogger Mark, at 9/27/2006 05:33:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    "your responses were exactly what I expected, and are all addressed in the next two posts"

    Excellent - I look forward to reading them.

    Now, before commenting on the rest of your reply, I'd like to reiterate what I said at the start of that last comment: I think I agree with your formulation with a few caveats. Most of what I said was explicitly to clarify what I believed you were saying, to avoid confusion (as with "final" meaning "ultimate authority" rather than "last in time", or of "source of revelation" as a potentially confusing choice of words). However, there are some issues where we still disagree.

    "Inerrancy is about the meaning of the author, not the meaning the reader attributes to the text"

    So, you are interested only in the intentions of the human author? Or of the divine author? Do you believe that each passage has one and only one meaning? Does God not speak different things to different people at different times through the same passages? (A little history should indicate that the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes".)

    The meaning intended by the author is important, I don't question that. The question is whether that intention is a limit on what the Bible can say (and say inerrantly). For example, Paul intended his comments about women's dress and behaviour in church to be followed exactly, yet none of us (I don't think) expects women to keep their heads covered and to be silent all the time in church. (I know you don't accept women in leadership, but are they not even allowed to lead prayers, or read the Scripture, or sing the hymns?) His intention is less important than the message behind that, which is about keeping good order in services. Which level of "intention" is to be privileged here? How do we establish it?

    Or, to take another well-worn example, the anti-slavery campaigners in the UK were inspired by their new understanding of God and, through that, the Bible - that slavery was an abomination in the sight of God. The problem is that this message is found nowhere in the intentions of the authors of the Bible - they all seem to have been comfortable with the concept. Where, in the inerrancy of Scripture, is this message that is held by pretty much all Christians? It is a message that is derived from the inerrant teachings of the Bible, but not from the intentions of its authors.

    And if you say that the intentions are God's, we then have a question that I alluded to above (and that is directly relevant to that previous example). Does God have multiple intentions for many (even most) things He says? God has set a great many things in motion when people have read His word. And, presumably, He intended all those things. Yet the words themselves do not carry the full weight of those intentions - they cannot. Only the Spirit at work in the reader can make these connections and reveal these meanings.

    Thus, I believe, we cannot exclude the reader's actions in deducing meaning from the Bible. This is not at all to say that the reader is free to take whatever she wants from the Bible - there's no "wide reaching flexibility". Rather, it is to say that the Holy Spirit is at work in us as we read. If we try and understand what happens when we read the Bible (which includes inerrancy) without making room for God, we've missed the elephant in the room.

    "The creeds and the canon, unlike anything propsed by theologians in the past 150 years, are explcitly Biblical. There is nothing in the creed not found explicitly in scripture. Thus, nothing "new" there."

    I assume you're not suggesting that there's a cutoff point at 150 years ago when God stopped revealing new things? And even if you were, that was far too strong. "Anything proposed by theologians in the past 150 years" covers a huge amount of ground, including some important advances in evangelical thinking.

    As for there being nothing in the creeds that isn't explicitly in the Bible, try the sections about Jesus from the Nicene creed:
    "We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, light from light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Substance with the Father
    "
    Most of that isn't explicit in the Bible ("true God from true God", "one Substance" and so on). Or consider the Creed of Nicaea, which was the first official formulation of the idea that Jesus is God, just as much as the Father is (after the arguments between the Sabellians and the Arians, who made equal and opposite errors about Christ). Or consider Chalcedon, which formalised the idea of Christ having two natures, neither confused nor divided etc. None of these ideas is explicit in the Bible, and yet are recognised as true revelations from God.

    If you don't see any of that, let's raise the issue of slavery again. Or of the place of women in church and society. These are new things not found in the intentions of the biblical writers, nor explicitly in their writings. They are things that we believe God has told us that change how we read the Bible. Which teaching to slaves was "inerrant"? The literal text that they should not seek freedom, or the later claim that they should do so?


    Apologies that this comment is a bit scrappy but there's a lot to deal with and I'm not, to be honest, sure of the best way of getting my meaning across. The thrust remains, though - I don't have a huge issue with what you said, especially if you can go along with the way I rephrased that crucial final assertion. Mostly, I was simply trying to clarify what I thought you were saying, and I got it mostly right. We still disagree about a few things (mostly about the role of the reader, I think)

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 9/27/2006 06:12:00 PM  

  • John,
    I don’t mind scrappy, as long as clarity is the goal.

    I find your assertion that everything contained in the creed is not explicitly stated in Scripture to be, well, ludicrous. That Nicea was the first “official” notion of the deity of Christ is of no consequence. It also happened to be the first “official” council. Duh.

    The deity of Christ is explicit, and the Biblical sources of the creeds are as well. I will provide one or two explicit examples of each. John 8:58, Phil 2:6 (Christ is God) John 3:16 (begotten, not made), John 1:1, John 8:58 (one being with the father), 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, John 3:19 (light from light), John 17:3, 1st John 5:20 (true God from True God).

    I am intimately familiar with Chalcedon, Nicea, Constantinople, etc. History is on the side of inerrancy. God is indivisible – “hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is one”. What should strike many about the creeds and the Christian faith in general is the doctrine of the Trinity. Such an idea is completely foreign to the mind of man, yet the church chose to stick with it. Why? Because Scripture is clear that there is one God, that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Spirit is God. A simple acknowledgement that Christ was God and man is sufficient. “Homousious” is not, in any fashion, something that conflicts with Scripture. As I said, Scripture is not the only source of revelation, merely the final authority on matters of revelation.

    This is why your examples of women and slavery are, honestly, irrelevant to an attempt to deny the authority of Scripture over all other forms of revelation. As you note, slavery is not explicitly condemned in the Bible. (Your idea that seeking freedom is prohibited indicates a need for you to actually read the passages when you bring them up. 1 Corinthians 7 clearly states that slaves may avail themselves of freedom when the opportunity arises.) Thus, a revelation that slavery is an abomination to God (which I have not ascribed inerrancy to but agree with) is certainly possible. However, that revelation cannot be used to force others to attest to it, because it is not an authoritative revelation for anyone who has not received it. In contrast, we have all received Scripture.

    I have no idea what you mean when you say “the place of women in church and society. These are new things not found in the intentions of the biblical writers, nor explicitly in their writings. They are things that we believe God has told us that change how we read the Bible.”

    Who is “we”?

    What does the Bible say about the place of women in the church that you think has changed? About the place of women in society? The reason we know that Paul’s comment about women was in relation to an ordered worship is that it explicitly says so!

    Again, I return to my initial assertion – inerrancy lies in the intentions of the writer. Yes, there can be multiple intentions, just as with any human action. However, the theological wings of the past 150-200 years that have sprung up think that we can come up with something completely alien to the clear intentions of the authors and call it “interpretation”. That is what inerrancy stands against. My goal isn’t for you to agree that the text is fully inerrant, but to fence it from the other “inerrancies” claimed by those who think the Bible is, well, less inerrant.

    No one is excluding God and the Spirit from revelation. What an inerrant scripture held with the intent of the authors as communicated prevents "communities" from using a claimed "Revelation" from the "Spirit" to declare something heretofore unthinkable in the name of Christ.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 9/29/2006 03:13:00 PM  

  • There are two basic building blocks to any faith system – ontological (who God is) and epistemological (how we know God). While the two are certainly intertwined, we can only develop ontological ideas through epistemology. How can we know God?

    This is picky, but's that's technically not correct. Ontology or metaphysics is about what there is and what it's like, and epistemology is about the status of our knowledge and beliefs. It's not through the study of knowledge and beliefs that we come to know about God. Studying the nature of justifying beliefs and so on doesn't tell us anything about whether there is a God.

    We do need to do epistemology if we want to establish how it is that we know about God. We need to know about epistemology to know whether our metaphysical beliefs are justified, but I think that's a very different matter. I don't think we need to know our beliefs are justified for them to be justified. We can come to know about God simply by reading the Bible and trusting that it's God's word. You don't need to prove that the Bible is reliable to do that, and so you don't need to do epistemology to have the right ontological views.

    I'm not pointing this out just to make some distinctions. I think these are important distinctions, and a whole bunch of epistemological theses rely on confusing them in ways that sound a lot like the statement you made. People will say that we can't overcome epistemological objections about our beliefs in God, and thus we can never know God. The problem is that you don't need to do epistemology at all to know God, because whether God exists (and the Bible speaks truly of God) is independent of how well-grounded our beliefs in God are. Therefore, whether we know God is independent of whether we can prove that we know God.

    By Blogger Jeremy Pierce, at 9/30/2006 05:21:00 PM  

  • John, he said "the only final and authoritative source of revelation must be an inerrant Scripture". I'm not sure how his recognition of other sources of revelation undermines that claim. If he had said "the only source of revelation must be an inerrant Scripture" then I'd see a problem, but I don't see how there's a conflict with what he said, since those other sources aren't both final and authoritative.

    Also, I think it's one thing to say that people are a guard on our interpretation and that in community we're more likely to get the right interpretation. It's quite another to say that we can't get the right interpretation simply by reading the Bible. You sound like you're saying the second thing, and I can't see how that's motivated. All I've seen you argue for is the first thing.

    I don't think your circularity argument can work in a way that doesn't create problems for your own view. If it's circular to test an interpretation against scripture, then how does the community do so? The community has to test the interpretation against the community's interpretation of scripture. Isn't that just as circular?

    By Blogger Jeremy Pierce, at 9/30/2006 06:02:00 PM  

  • Mark, I've discussed exactly why inerrancy does not require a 10,000-year view here. I should emphasize that this is the mainstream, standard view among biblical scholars, both believing and not believing.

    By Blogger Jeremy Pierce, at 9/30/2006 06:02:00 PM  

  • Jeremy,

    Thanks for the link. I've heard many people claim the Bible should be taken less literally when it comes to creation, but I've yet to see an argument based on the scripture itself rather than what appeared to be a point of convenience.

    I see you also hint at accepting evolution of man, but I couldn't find an article on evolution specifically; do you have a link to such an article?

    By Blogger Mark, at 10/02/2006 03:25:00 PM  

  • Jeremy,
    Thanks for your comment - perhaps I was too brief in my description of ontology, epistemology and their use. I try to keep my posts as short as I can without sacrificing important aspects.

    We do need to do epistemology if we want to establish how it is that we know about God. That's what I wanted to emphasize - that there are ways we can know, that we need to know what those ways are, and that those ways are reliable (yet one is the most reliable to us today).

    Hang around for the rest - your contirbutions are always appreciated!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 10/06/2006 02:25:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    Sorry - I meant to reply here a while ago. For now, I just want to clarify this idea that the teaching of the creeds isn't explicit in the Bible. By that, I do not (of course) mean that one cannot find explicit support for them in the Bible. The point, though, is that the teaching is not clear, unambiguous and straightforward in the Bible. Take, for example, a section of one of the readings we had in the lectionary last Sunday in the CofE - Hebrews 1:1-4. In this passage, it is clearly taught that Jesus became superior to the angels - which means that He was at some point inferior to them. This is dangerously close to adoptionism. Now, we can understand this passage within an orthodox Trinitarian understanding. But, on its face, this passage teaches something different and must be reconciled.

    And this is what I meant - the NT nowhere contains a section setting out orthodox Christology. Rather, orthodoxy was formulated much later (based on the teachings of the apostles as handed down, and the witness of the Spirit in the Church), and justified using portions of the NT. In doing this, though, certain portions of the NT were privileged over other portions, and certain descriptions of Jesus were privileged over other descriptions. Now, of course, I agree that orthodoxy has it right. But the point is that the NT does not with one clear voice proclaim this orthodoxy.

    Does that make my point clearer?

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 10/10/2006 04:21:00 AM  

  • The point, though, is that the teaching is not clear, unambiguous and straightforward in the Bible. Take, for example Hebrews 1:4- "Having become so much better than the angels..." In this passage, it is clearly taught that Jesus became superior to the angels - which means that He was at some point inferior to them. This is dangerously close to adoptionism. Now, we can understand this passage within an orthodox Trinitarian understanding. But, on its face, this passage teaches something different and must be reconciled.

    The problem here is that you are taking this Scripture verse out of context and not reading the section in its entirety where it IS reconciled. It's very clear and not ambiguous at all. You'll have to come up with a better example than this if you're trying to use it to prove a point.

    which means that He was at some point inferior to them

    The "some point" couldn't be clearer a little further in Hebrews 2:9: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God might taste death for everyone." There are two whole chapters stating how superior Christ is to the angels (and always was from the beginning of time with the exception of when He made Himself lower to stoop down to "taste death" for us), so I don't think this makes your point any clearer.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 10/10/2006 01:32:00 PM  

  • I don't endorse the contemporary consensus in science on human origins. I just think that we should be open to it, since it is the best scientific account there is. The best scientific account of a given time may turn out to be wrong, but I don't think science and scripture should conflict if we've got the right science and the right interpretation of scripture. We should be open to having the wrong scientific account, but we should also be open to having the wrong interpretation of scripture. In this case I'm not sure we should close the door on the second option, even if there are good biblical reasons for not wanting such a conclusion.

    By Blogger Jeremy Pierce, at 10/11/2006 11:40:00 AM  

  • Hebrews 2:5-12 was supposed to be part of the reading for Sunday. In the ECUSA, it was 1:1-2:12. I guess we don't use the lectionary as thoroughly as we thought...

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 10/11/2006 04:21:00 PM  

  • MrsHammer,
    All I can say is that I don't think you're reading that section of Hebrews very carefully at all. Almost every quotation cited in chapter 1 stands for the assertion that Jesus became superior to the angels. Chapter 2 is little better - it continually compares Christ to the angels, and says that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels - not that He became lower so that He might return to the heights, please notice! It seems that, here, Jesus was created lower than the angels. The only verse that leans towards an orthodox Christology is 1:10, which shows Christ as having created the world. All the rest of chapter 1 (including references to "son" - all of which are initially addressed to the kings of Israel so cannot be simply read as synonymous with a trinitarian Son) indicates much more an adoptionist style of thinking. Indeed, chapter 2 is not much better, There is verse 9, which has this notion that "Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour" - but notice that it still doesn't say that Jesus had been higher than the angels before this! It says that He was first lower and then higher.

    I am not at all saying that one cannot interpret this section in line with orthodox Christology. However, it is certainly easily amenable to an adoptionist reading as well - and arguably leans more in that direction. My point was that, although one can certainly defend orthodoxy from the Bible (no great surprise there!), one can also defend quite well certain positions condemned as heresy, such as adoptionism. This passage from Hebrews is one of the most straightforward in the way it talks about the nature of Christ; the problem is that the nature it talks about is not obviously orthodox! It even declares that Jesus had to be made perfect (2:10)!

    Is my point any clearer yet? The NT does not declare simply and with one voice an orthodox Christology - because orthodox Christology was only formulated long after the NT was written. There is no place where the creeds are set forth in their fully developed splendour. Rather, we have hints and suggestions, allusions and even occasional outright statements. When we want to derive the creeds from the Bible, we must disregard or, at best, de-emphasise certain sections in order to let us do so. That is, we have to let the interpretation of one section control the interpretation of another. And which sections we choose as controlling will affect the resultant theology.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 10/11/2006 05:57:00 PM  

  • Stuff and nonsense, John.

    I continue to be impressed with the lengths you go in your ad hoc arguments. Whatever it takes to try to push that particular point at that particular time.

    You completely made up the idea that the word "made" somehow eliminates a previous state, and "became" demands it. Both Greek words (elattoomai, "make less or become less" and ginomai, come to exist or become) and both English words imply a change of status that does not reflect what it was before. In Scripture, nothing is to meant to be interpreted intentionally apart from the rest. While many Christians in the world do not have an entire Bible to read, you do.

    That's the worst argument I've ever seen you put forth. The creeds are specifically supported Scripturally. The NT does have the same high Christology as a fundamental witness within it and throughout it. It is a Christ-centered book.

    All heresies have had their verses, John. Quoting one and claiming it supports a heresy is to ignore the body of Scripture and tradition.

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 10/12/2006 01:49:00 PM  

  • John,
    I'm not quite sure then, if you are indeed arguing that Christ was a created being, and even created lower than the angels, why you claim to be Christian and not indeed a Jehovah's Witness. This is a belief more inline with the JW religion... You'd better go re-read Hebrews and find a church that doesn't teach false doctrines about Christ. That's scary if that's indeed what was taught in your church.

    By Blogger mrshammer, at 10/12/2006 02:28:00 PM  

  • Honey,
    He's not claiming that. He's claiming the passage can be read as such. It only can as an isolated cerse. That's why I said, "All heresies have their verses". Conversely, orthodoxy has the witness of the entire Scripture.

    The lectionary would have to chop out a lot more doctrine than it already does for them to start denying the divinity of Christ!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 10/12/2006 03:16:00 PM  

  • Hammer,
    "In Scripture, nothing is to meant to be interpreted intentionally apart from the rest. While many Christians in the world do not have an entire Bible to read, you do."

    I totally agree. My point, though, was that one can perfectly well defend heterodox positions from the Bible - and not merely on a verse-by-verse basis.

    The whole of chapters 1 and 2 of Hebrews stress how Jesus was lower than the angels and became higher, seated at the right hand of God. It even (as I said) says that Jesus became perfect through suffering. It talks about how Jesus came to sit in the highest place and have the highest name - it does not talk about how Jesus is God from eternity and has always had the highest place. The emphasis of this passage is not the same as that of orthodox Christology. It can, of course, be read in that framework, but it's close to the borders. If it was taken as the passage that gave the definitive statement on Christ's nature, the rest of the NT witness would be read in its light, rather than vice versa. And this would result in a rather different Christology, one much closer to adoptionism.

    This isn't about what is the correct way to read the Bible. I am pointing out that saying that the creeds are identical to the Biblical witness is to misread the Bible. The creeds are much simpler and more coherent than the NT. As such, they must miss things out. Their purpose is to codify that which is implied or deduced from the Scriptures. They are not simple exegesis but political, controlling documents (albeit ones that summarise spiritual truths).

    "Conversely, orthodoxy has the witness of the entire Scripture."

    You're still missing my point. Orthodoxy can accomodate and contain the whole of Scripture. Heresy cannot - that's how we know it's heresy. But it is not true that orthodoxy is trivially deducible from Scripture. The exercise of interpretation took centuries before formulations were agreed. Great figures in the Church's history have held positions that were subsequently condemned as heresy (Origen, for example).

    And, even within orthodoxy, there are many different theologies possible, depending on which parts of the Bible we take to be controlling. For example, do we take the teaching of Law as normative, or the teaching of grace? Do we stress a God of Love or a God of Wrath? These questions change how we understand the Scripture in serious ways.

    pax et bonum

    By Blogger John, at 10/13/2006 07:04:00 AM  

  • "...there are many different theologies possible, depending on which parts of the Bible we take to be controlling."

    I don't know about anyone else, but I take every part of the Bible to be controlling, based on Scripture that teaches that the entire Bible is valid and as important-every verse.

    Obviously, as Hammer has pointed out in the past, not every verse has the same impact on us, but all are equally important.

    It seems that a balance between all parts of the Bible is of key importance. REading one on the basis of interpretation via another. If it isn't in alignment, it is man-made, and not God-breathed. Paul, in Acts 17:11 gives us a clear understanding there. Although, it doesn't much matter if a church has designated that Acts 17:11 isn't controlling, LOL!

    Hebrews 7:7 is also a good definition of how tradition is secondary to teh Bible, regardless of what tradition says. The lesser is blessed by the greater.

    Taking verses and chapters out, based on chosen descriptions of what is more important, doesn't give us the full-picture of who Christ is, what his sacrifice was, why we must be saved, what happens if we aren't.

    The Bible is for tradition (orthodoxy) where it supports the teachings of the apostles-2 Thesselonians 2:15, and is consistent with biblical revelation. Yet, it is against tradition when it "transgresses the commands of God"-Matt. 15:3.

    By Jesus' own words, tradition is not to transgress or contradict the commands of God. In other words, it should be in harmony with biblical teaching and not oppose it in any way.

    The Bible clearly tells us that it is the standard of truth. We are not to exceed what the Scriptures say. "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other,"-1 Cor. 4:6. This seems like the clear picture of tradition via full inerrancy.

    It is clear now for me, how certain groups/churches/traditions justify their following a purely humanitarian Jesus. They don't bother with the parts where he isn't! See Revelation, Isaiah, etc, LOL! They don't follow (IMO) the "full Jesus".

    I have no intention on arguing these points. This is just my own understanding of how certain groups arrive at their view of the Bible, and how they are so far from sola scriptura.

    By Blogger Rightthinker2, at 10/13/2006 11:31:00 AM  

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