Wednesday, May 27, 2009

God's condescension and perspicuity of Scripture

What I have been saying so far is that God has been kind enough to condescend to me ( human beings) in giving me Scripture. He speaks to me (us) using human language and he employs words that relate to human experience, even my rationality and reasoning, therefore he speaks in a manner I can understand.

Critics think that is puting God under the level of man. I think these people think I am very arrogant to suggest I can understand Scripture...

Well to quote Muhammad Ali... it is hard to be humble, when you are as great as I am. (LOL)

I hope you got a laugh at that.

Unfortunately that misses the point, because it is God who is putting himself, condescending to my level. In fact, I find the thought of God's condescension too marvellous for words. Here is God being kind enough to make me understand him. I do not understand all but I do understand some. He could have left me in the dark, but he did not and to demonstrate that love, he even sent his Son to become man, like me (you) to demonstrate what he is. Topping it all his Son even took my sins. If this condescension does not make you wanna shout, I don't know what will.

So I picked up my copy of J. T. Mueller's Christian Dogmatics who is helpful in in this regard and so on p.138. I quote (with my insertions) ...

When we say that the Holy Scripture is perspicuous, or clear, we mean that it sets forth all doctrines of salvation in words so simple and plain that they can be understood by all persons of average intelligence. The Lutheran dogmatician Baier expresses this thought as follows: "Any man acquainted with the language, possesed of a common judgement, and paying due attention to the words may learn the true sense of the words...and embrace the fundamental doctrines"...
....
Whoever, therefore, rejects the perspicuity of the Bible (papists, enthusiasts, modern rationalistic theologians) must also reject the basic truth that Scripture is the only principium cognoscendi [principle of knowing...God], thus compelling the Christian believer to base his faith upon the human expositions either of the Church or of the individual Bible scholars.

Keeping in mind the Holy Scripture is a clear book, the Christian exegete must scrupulously refrain from foisting upon its sacred text his own subjective views (eisegesis) and regard it as his sole function to exhibit the true meaning of God's clear Word (exegesis: the leading forth of the sense of Scripture); in other words, he must allow Scripture to interpret itself. Negatively the function of the Christian exegete may be described as the removal of all textual difficulties by proper grammatical instruction and of all misinterpretations by erring expositors; positively, as the exhibition of the true sense of the text in the light of its context and parallel passages.

Hence a true Christian exegete must possess the following qualifications:
a.) He must regard the whole Bible as the inerrant Word of God;
b.) He must treat Holy Scripture as a book which is clear in itself;
c.) He must conscientiously point out the real sense of the text;
d.) He must be able to refute the erroneous human opinions which false teachers or misguided orthodox theologians have foisted upon the text.


The last bit is classic.

77 comments:

Xan said...

Your connection of his points to the argument here is totally undermined in his introduction:

"...we mean that it sets forth all doctrines of salvation in words so simple and plain..." [emphasis mine]

In other words, the important stuff. Not the insignificant details about physical cosmology. Exactly what I've been saying.

Xan said...

Another place where the text you quote specifically disavows your use of it:

"Any man acquainted with the language, possesed of a common judgement, and paying due attention to the words may learn the true sense of the words...and embrace the fundamental doctrines" [emphasis mine]

L P said...

Xan,

I have considered those who confess Christ but differ with me on 24 to be Christian.

I believe things essential for our salvation. I also believe things taught in Scripture simply because they are true.

I have not said categorically people will be lost if they do not believe on 24, as Pr. Mark said people can have this felicitous inconsistency.

I have argued for 24 because I have evidence from Scripture that it is true in more than 2 passages of Scripture and because these passages witness to it I must believe it.

Political correctness is not one of my noble virtues.

Let me ask you a question, Scripture says Jesus walked on water, do you consider those who claim Christ but reject this as ever happening i.e. deny he ever did this, a prerogative not necessary to believe since anyway they believe in the Messiahship of Christ?

I hope you accord me with an answer.

Lastly, if you think I am being dogmatic about 24, you should read Mueller's (the guy I cited in the post) on p. 180 on the topic of Hexaemeron. Compared to him on this subject, I am very mild.

LPC

Xan said...

Judging the quality of other people's Christianity is more your department than mine, but my understanding is that the traditional definition is anybody who agrees to the Creeds is a Christian, so assuming this hypothetical person would do that, then yes.

There are numerous passages in Scripture, many of which I quoted, that have copious evidence of a flat, immovable earth at the center of the physical universe. Does that mean you believe it?

L P said...

Holy Scripture teaches distinctly the whole universe was created within 6 days of 24 hours each. To change the 6 days into mere moment (Athanasius, Augustine, Hilary) or to expand them to millions of years is equally contrary to Scripture.

---Mueller, ibid, p.180

Xan,

You have been tripping on this consistently and have been sadly falling into blunders in reasoning.


To affirm the essentials of salvation doctrine does not mean you negate the other parts of Scripture that it clearly teaches.

You think that to believe the essentials of salvation now implies the other teachings of Scripture may be negated or optional.

This is Gospel Reductionism. It also makes faith a form of works.

LPC

L P said...

Xan,

Can I now optionally believe Jesus walked on water since I affirm the Creed?

I did not get an answer to the point of this question.

LPC

Xan said...

You didn't? Allow me to quote myself:

...my understanding is that the traditional definition is anybody who agrees to the Creeds is a Christian, so assuming this hypothetical person would do that, then yes.

I'm not the believing police; you seem to have me confused with somebody else.

To respond to your Mueller quote, the same applies to geocentrism and flat-earch. You still have not yet satisfactorily differentiated 144-hour Creation from those ideas. You are being inconsistent here. If it's poetry or point-of-view, then that works for Creation also. You're using special pleading, and assuming your conclusions.

Past Elder said...

If I may quote myself, or, vide infra if you prefer:

Propositional logic is not part of revelation. It is part of natural wisdom. God's condescension does not consist in saying here is revelation, now understand it in terms of what you have anyway.

To borrow from St Paul, you are a Greek looking for wisdom.

Steve Martin said...

You can do all of those things (at the end of your post) and still not have to believe the Bible came down from heaven with a bow tied around it.

You can believe all those things and still believe that the Bible is fully a product of man and God.

You can believe all those things while trusting that God uses fallible 'things' for His infallible purpose.

At least,a great many people are able to.

L P said...

Xan,

Thanks.

Therefore your position is that people do not have to believe what Scripture said about Jesus, such as him walking on water, so long as they belive he is Messiah.


My position...

NO, they should believe that he walked on water as Scripture says.

Why? Because Scripture testifies to it. Because to disbelieve what Scripture testifies is to question the truthfulness of Scripture.

This effectively questions the Messiahship of Jesus.

When the Scripture says that these where written that you may believe that Jesus was Messiah, it meant that all of these details are being given so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.

The walking on water is proof of his Messiahship.

My position is simple, believe everything the Scripture testifies because all of them were written with a purpose - Christ has come.

These things were written to support the Gospel such that if they are false or disbelieved, the support of the Gospel is weakened and the truth of it is questioned.

If you do not see the connection, I can not help you there. This entire deliveration should be more than adequate attempt to help.

I quoted Mueller whom you quoted against my position, yet whom I showed shared mine on 24.

Mueller could have said 24 was optional since it does not touch on Salvation. Yet no, but was more stern.

His position is the same as mine on this point. I believe 24 because and simply because that is what the Scripture says.

If I am a fool, I have said I donot mind that. I already believe things that are not verified by sense experience nor by science so called.

LPC

L P said...

PE.

I will repeat some of what I said to you and would add some more...

Firstly, wisdom has nothing to do with this. Christ has already become my wisdom.

Propositional logic is not part of revelation.

........

No, it is embedded and part of it because revelation uses human language. Human language encloses propositional logic. This is what Beier calls "common judgement".

If you also do not see the connection, I can not make it any simpler.

I understand that you now go to an LC-MS church right?

Incidentally Mueller was an LC-MS dogmatician who shares my idea about 24, whom you do not share. Even after saying about doctrines of salvation etc. he was more adamant on 24 than I am.

God's condescension does not consist in saying here is revelation, now understand it in terms of what you have anyway.
......

You mentioned this in the other combox, I do not know what to make of it because in a way this is a strawman arguement. So you must have some point you are making that is why you brought this up, perhaps you are saying that the Bible is not as perspicous as I suppose?

So I have a few questions...

a.) What does God's revelation consist of?
b.) You imply that the "terms" of what I have are not adequate, can you give an example of these "terms" that I must have.

Let me re-iterate, wisdom has nothing to do with this.

The issue here is perspicuity of Scripture and the points I am making for it. That it is inerrant and sufficient. That it is clear and understandable. I deny that there are contradictions in it. There may be mysteries or paradoxes but they are not contradictions.

So your foisting St. Paul to this discussion as if I am a Greek seeking wisdom is indeed a straw man.


LPC

L P said...

SM.

You can believe all those things while trusting that God uses fallible 'things' for His infallible purpose.
Agree, but Scripture is not one of those fallible 'things'.

LPC

Xan said...

You've just conflated everything. Your question was very specific: would such a person be a Christian. I said yes. Now you say he "should" believe it. That's a completely different question.

When somebody describes himself as a Christian, do you then go through the entire Bible with him and quiz him on every detail before you agree to call him that yourself? It would be silly. That's what the Creeds are for.


Observe this argument: only a perfect human being is qualified to preach the Gospel. Hearing the Gospel from a man who is in any way imperfect would undermine it entirely. To question the character of your pastor is to question the Messiahship of Christ.

This is an old heresy, of course, but it's awfully similar to your argument...

L P said...

Xan,

Read again. I did not ask if the person was still a Christian. Of course he is. I also clarified from you your position by asking for an answer so please do not blame me for your own words.

The question I asked from you was was this - can he now disbelieve that Jesus walked on water, now that he believes Jesus is Messia?.

You said yes. Because that is all that matters correct? that Jesus is Messiah.

My position is 2 Tim 3:16, all scripture is profitable...

Furthermore, per Mk 16:16 to believe the Gospel is necessary for Salvation.

However, my position is that all of Scripture must be believed to coherence of the doctrine of salvation , not for salvation per se but for coherence in the logic of salvation.

This is similar to what the Athanasian Creed says re:Trinity.

At the end it says there you can not be saved if you reject this, what that meant was that it will make the doctrine of salvation/atonement incoherent.

My example would be the thief at cross.


LPC

Steve Martin said...

"but Scripture is not one of those fallible 'things'."

The message, no. The book, yes.

Even our Lord was made up of flesh and blood.

For the life of me, I cannot understand the need to hold onto this notion of the requirement for perfection of ink on paper bound in leather.

L P said...

SM,

BEcause Jesus says so see Lk 16:17

LPC

Steve Martin said...

LP,

What, may I ask, has that to do with whether every jot and tittle in that book is absolutetly perfect?

Christians walk by faith, not by sight.

I trust that His Word is true...all of it...in spite of any mistakes man may have made in the compilation and translation of manuscripts that make up a book that contains that inerrant Word.

You are a smart guy, LP.

Your bias here (I believe) is keeping you from getting your head around this concept.

But... I love you, anyway!

Jim Pierce said...

"There are numerous passages in Scripture, many of which I quoted, that have copious evidence of a flat, immovable earth at the center of the physical universe."Hi Xan,

A couple points are worth noting here. First, there are a few passages in the scriptures those of us with a modern view of the universe have construed as claiming the earth is flat and at the center of the universe. No where in the scriptures will you find a statement about the exact shape of the earth or its location in the cosmos. Secondly, what you will find is arguably phenomenological language, such as in the scriptures where the sun and the moon are halted in the sky during the course of a battle. The only reason to take such language out of its context that I can think of (e.g. describing historical events from an earth bound perspective, or the use of colloquialisms such as in the Psalms talking about the "pillars" of the earth)is to set up a straw man argument that the scriptures are wrong about the cosmos. The slight of hand here is to prop up empirical science above scripture from which to also interpret it. This type of hermeneutic can lead to all sorts of nasty problems such as denying a literal incarnation of God the Son because it is illogical that the finite can contain the infinite, or denying the resurrection, since there is no physical evidence that the dead can actually return to life after a certain period of time; namely, after three days.

L P said...

SM,

Thanks for the love bro, likewise ;-)

No matter how heated the differences have been, I have never said nor implied those who disagreed were not Christians.

What I have argued for is the thesis that the Gospel has a foundation and if that foundation is denied or a part of it, the coherence of the Gospel comes to question, in other words to paraphrase Anselm, the logic of God Incarnate becomes a farce.


Coherence, that is where I am at.

LPC

L P said...

Jim,

You have articulated the connection better than I could.

LPC

Acroamaticus said...

Lito,
Good to see you've got hold of a copy of Mueller. His work is very serviceable as a guide to the orthodox Lutheran tradition of dogmatics. You know it's a condensed version of Franz Pieper's much larger work? Often a scripture text or other reference will seem a bit obscure in Mueller, but you must realise his work is a like a marginal gloss on a much larger, centuries old tradition - tradition in the good sense, that is!;o). The main shortcoming is that he (& Pieper) generally doesn't include the exegesis of the scripture texts he draws a point from; for that you have to go back in the tradition, which unfortunately isn't always available in English.

L P said...

Pr. M.

I woke up one morning with Ex 20:11 twirling in my head. After going back to it, the more it convinced me that days in Gen 1 was meant to be 24.

Last couple of days I went to check with Mueller and you are he does not have exegesis only reference but that is understandable cause he would have to increase the volume of his book.

There was never a hint in my mind that my take on Ex 20:11 was a spark of genius. Far from it.

I just concluded that surely the ancients must have seen this passage before and must have used it to interpret 24.

We must follow wherever the word of God leads us even if it means braking down our preconceived notions dictated by science, tradition or sense perception.

We walk by faith and not by sight, correct?

LPC

Past Elder said...

Moving up from the other post as requested, and in line with what has become typical here, having to say things several times to try to extract them from what they are forced into:

No I did not say the Jews will not let you "join the club". Re those who do not convert, I said Gentiles since they are not under the Law may not undertake full observance of the Law even though they acknowledge the God of Israel, and re conversion, since there is no need for a Gentile to convert and since being a Jew contains many more obligations than bind the Gentile conversion is discouraged however if the person persists and shows they really understand what they would be undertaking it can happen.

Finally, since the Law not just accuses but also offers the mercy and forgiveness of God to Jew and Gentile alike upon repentance, a Messiah offering what is already there would clearly not be the Messiah at all so you would not, in Jewish belief, "still be in your sins".

Xan said...

LP,

Your post may not "attribute wisdom to the atheist because they do not believe in 24", but it certainly does attribute wisdom to the Christian who becomes an atheist for not subscribing to 24.

Deny it all you like, but that is what you said. And if we're to judge beliefs by their "consequences", as you said we should, yours has lost some serious credibility because of it.

joel in ga said...

If anything, the Bible is too perspicuous. The most painful difficulties of interpretation come when we don't want to accept the plain meaning of the words of Scripture.

L P said...

Joel,

Thanks for this because this is what I am trying to say.

It is indeed a bias to say in places that Scripture is vague when in fact it is clear.

We all have biases, but the best bias to have is that one supported by Scripture.

It is just so hard for people to be released from their dependence on modern cultural interpretation of the Bible.

I did not use to believe in 24, in fact I was sceptical of it. But when I went back to the text and did some serious research on the linguistic use of 'yom' I came back realizing this is what Scripture says, it must be believed and followed wherever it leads.

For example - I went to 1 Cor 10:16 and that verse convinced me that the bread and wine must be treated as body and blood of Christ. I did not use to hold this belief in the Supper, I was Calvinistic on this.

Just a cursory reading of the BoC we can readily see that it is replete with Scripture references because the authors were directing the reader to the meaning of Scripture and is appealing to the reasonableness of their case.

Some in their fight against rationalism wind up throwing rationality out the door too and hence without using so many words by their exposition, they wind up implying there is no rationality in Scripture.

What happens when this is done?

It opens the door for saying that everything becomes a pious opinion and it leads back to the middle ages wherein the people let the priests do the reading and studying of Scripture for them. It leads us back to the dark ages, where the Scripture is locked.

Chaos.

Is it any wonder why Lutherans rank down the scale of ardent Bible readers?


LPC

Acroamaticus said...

Lito,

Yes, by faith - Hebrews 11:1-3. Interestingly, I have an essay by a well-known liberal Lutheran OT theologian, Terence Fretheim, in which he strongly makes the case that the author of Gen 1 intended to teach creation in six ordinary days - but at the end Fretheim says he doesn't believe it (contra Hebrews 11:3?)because in his view God was condescending to our limited understanding. I can't follow him to that point, but the essay itself disposes of a number of objections to the literal exegesis. Btw, he also, if memory serves correct, mentions the Ex 20:11 passage as scripture interpreting scripture in reference to the Gen 1 days.

Yes, Mueller's work was/is a condensed dogmatics text for the classroom, it assumes students will do the exegesis or that it is done elsewhere, which saved the author space (he does sometimes engage in exegesis, though usually only brief - I believe Mueller obtained his doctorate in the OT, btw, so it's not that he couldn't exegete!!). I mentioned this point not specificaly in reference to the creation issue but as a more general observation as it has sometimes been a criticism of Lutheran orthodox dogmatics like the Mueller-Pieper tradition. Modern dogmaticians tend to include more exegesis in their works, which is surely a good thing - they can no longer assume peope know the texts (the sedes doctrinae - seat of the doctrine, where each doctrine or article of faith is found in scripture).

PS
Just before posting this comment I read your previous comment and Joel's. Yes, that's the problem, scripture is sometimes too clear, Joel!
I agree too, Lito, we need a renewal of bible study and sound hermeneutics in the LCA - this came out clearly during the women's ordination debate

Xan said...

From reading the Gospels, when do you expect the end of the world to occur? When do you see the apostles expecting it?

If you're consistent, and give our modern perspective no hearing, then you must believe that the world ended in the 1st century, during the lifetimes of the apostles. Any other interpretation is letting your reason cloud Scripture, because that is surely the easiest interpretation.

L P said...

Pr. M.

I was an atheist at uni(a bit about my self) and when I was studying philo of science, the philosophers I have read even alluded to the need of belief before knowledge can come. So in a way without acknowledging it, at hindsight this is an echoing of Heb 11:1-3. Of course, what they are saying came through observation - that some presupposition (belief) is necessary prior to grasping or understanding.

I think Fretheim (I am not familiar with this scholar) is missing what it means for God to condescend to our level, i.e., use our language. When God condescends using our language he makes statements that are always true in reality indeed. Fretheim seems to look at God then as like the father who teaches his kid there is a Santa Claus to make his child behave. Then allows his child to mature and figure it out that Santa Claus is myth. In effect, God deceives.

Scripture is too clear, in fact it so clear we just deny its clarity and confuse ourselves.

LPC

L P said...

Xan,

Scripture interprets Scripture.

We do not only have the four Gospels as Scripture, we also have the Epistles of the Apostles, so 1 Th 4:13-17.

LPC

Unlikely said...

Scripture does interpret scripture; but it doesn't argue for its own innerancy. Thats an 18th century American invention that wasn't part of Luther's call to Sola Scriptura. Interpreting scripture plainly was; but not calling it inerrant if doesn't claim it in itself.

L P said...

Unlikely,

Scripture if it is inspired will be inerrant that is a necessary consequence of being God breathed or God inspired.


I also have another evidence, Christ argues for it - Lk 16:17.

Why will you use scripture to interpret scripture if in the first place it has errors? Goodness you could be using an erroneous part to interpret a true statement.

Only an incoherent mind will do that under that premise.

America is indeed the new Babylon and is indeed responsible for many evils in the world's society and religion, producing innumerable cults and she takes the bacon in that regard, but this is not one of them.

Having an inerrant scripture is not an American discovery, goodness, that would mean she is capable of spotting what is right and she is beyond that.

LPC

Xan said...

Why would I listen to a pastor if he sometimes makes a mistake? If he were to, I don't know, refer to Nero when he meant Claudius, then mightn't he be wrong about all that salvation stuff too?

And let me get this straight: a correct idea couldn't come from America? hmm, seems like I'd have a big handicap in realizing the "truth" then. That must be why I'm finding this so unconvincing. </sarcasm>

(In any case, America wasn't anything approaching what you would call Babylon in the 18th century.)

Steve Martin said...

America is made up of millions of people. Many (thousands, millions?) know the Truth and are in Christ. Millions are not.

What does that have to do with the price of eggs in Alaska?

The Bible is the cradle that the Christ Child is laid in. It contains the Truth. It contains what is worthy of worship...it is not worthy of worship in and of itself.

Imperfect means to a perfect End.

That is how our Lord operates.

L P said...

Xan,

That form of reasoning you presented is bull headed.

Scripture never says that our pastors are infallible.

Of course, if you consider the pastor as a mini-pope you can get that cross wired thinking.

Recall that it is the Pope who claims for himself infallibility.

Protestant pastors do not have such a claim.

The Bereans in Acts tested what St. Paul had to say against Scripture and even Paul pronounced anathema on themselves if they preach things contrary to the Gospel Gal 1:8.

My banter on America being a type of Babylon is a form of sarcasm against Unlikely's pinning of what is theologically wrong to Americans.

There is just too much of this bogey man mentality running around and the bogey man is American Evangelicalism.

There are many errors in American Evangelicalism, but affirming an inerrant Bible is not one of them.

American Evangelicalism needs Reformation.

Semper Reformanda.

LPC

Steve Martin said...

L.P.,

I think Xan's point is that if we NEED a perfect book to contain the Word, then why is it that we do NOT NEED a perfect pastor, to contain and proclaim the Word?

Books are paper, leather, and ink. The Bible is a book.

The Bible just so happens to contain God's perfect Word within it...just as a pastor, or you or I, or the imperfect elements of water, bread and wine contain God's perfect Word within them...when accompanied by His promises.

Lucian said...

Why are there Genesis-literalists (Creationists) and Revelation-literalists, but no Daniel-literalists? Why hasn't the World ended 2,500 yrs ago, as Daniel so `perspicuously` said it would? If Moses was a Prophet, then his Book is a prophecy about the past. (And what verse of the Bible says that all of it has to be interpreted in the same manner? Sola Scriptura, right?)

Jim Pierce said...

I have some questions for Xan and Steve who are arguing against the inerrancy of scripture.

What methodology are you employing to determine which parts of scripture contain error and which do not?

Concerning that methodology, is it itself infallible? I can guess it is taken to be fallible and in which case, please explain to me how you can be sure that your methodology provides certainty that you are reading a part of the biblical text that is actually an error? Or, is it that you simply don't have certainty, but instead you have accepted the idea that you are dealing with text that is "probably not genuine" as judged along some sort of scale?

I heartily agree with Lito on many of the points he has raised. The inerrancy of scripture follows from God's perfection. Indeed, it makes good sense that the biblical text we have today is what God Himself has provided to us. I think it would be strange that Jesus would tell us to search the scriptures, for in them we find words about Him and eternal life, and those very scriptures could possibly contain errors about Him and eternal life.

If we are claiming that the scriptures contain errors, then how do we guard against reducing the entire text into a collection of important documents which inspire faith, but are no different than the collection of Aristotle's works, lets say, which may inspire some to believe in a "prime mover"? Can we say of Aristotle's works, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my book 'Metaphysics' will never pass away"? (Compare with Matthew 24:35) It is strange that the Apostles transmit the words of Jesus orally and in writing, claiming they are His very words. That isn't so? Even more strange is that Jesus tells the Apostles to repeat all that He commanded (Matt. 28) and we expect to only get a garbled transmission of His words in our modern day Biblical text? In other words, somehow Jesus drops the ball and we are only getting a percentage of His words?

In which case, just what are the genuine words of Jesus that the four Gospels transmit to us today? Are they 80/20 words? 80% the words of Christ and 20% baloney? Perhaps the words themselves don't matter, but it is the "message" that is 100% faithful to the... err... uh... words of God? How do we judge the "message" in this case? Against what? The words of God which we can't know are really His words, since the text contains errors and therefore so could the message?

Steve you write, "The Bible just so happens to contain God's perfect Word within it...." Against what are you measuring? Surely if measuring against some rule, then the scale reveals what is perfect? In which case would we know which are the perfect words? Or are we dealing with guesses and chance? "The Bible just happens" to contain God's perfect word.... We are to believe this occurred by happenstance and not divine providence?

O.k. I have more than just a couple questions in the above. :-) Of course, it is obvious which questions are rhetorical.

L P said...

Spot on Jim.

I am interested as to how these questions are answered.

LPC

L P said...

SM,

My answer is because no where does it say that the pastor is inspired. He can only side with the truth and since he is both sinner and saint Scripture told us to use it as yardstick.

I now like to play devil's advocate.

I have a question.

You said that God can use imperfect means to bring a perfect end.

What is your basis for saying this? What is your basis in other words that this maxim is true?

LPC

Xan said...

no where does it say that the pastor is inspired

Luke 10:16 - He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

Jim, the main problem is that inerrancy advocates are casting Truth, as found in the Bible, into something that either agrees or disagrees with our modern view of the world. It's a false dichotomy.

Lito, may I ask what your basis for your faith is? Surely you don't believe the Bible is true simply because it says it's inspired, so what is it that got you to believe in the first place? The answer to that question is very likely the answer to the question you've posed.

Xan said...

I should clarify: into something that either agrees or disagrees with our modern view of the world, on the modern view's own terms.

L P said...

Xan,

I believe the Bible because Jesus says it is true (i.e, it is never false) and cannot be broken (will never fail in what it says, i.e. mislead).

Is this the same as your answer?

If so, you contradicted yourself because you claim it can have errors, do you not? Do you not also agree to the statement that it is an imperfect book that can have a perfect outcome?

Actually my view of 24 is hardly a modern conception.

Scripture tells the truth, you either agree with its text or you don't.

Man's modern view or traditional view plays secondary part in my take on it. The issue is what does the text say and what does it mean?

The issue is coherence, and coherence can have no contradictions.

If you believe that truth can have contradictions then we are poles apart. Scriptural Truth is not absurd and is not irrational. It has rationality although not rationalistic..

LPC

Xan said...

If you believe that truth can have contradictions then we are poles apart.Really? Can you explain your belief on predestination?

L P said...

Labeling a paradox as a contradiction is a blunder.

Paradoxes are apparent because we do not have enough information, but they are not contradictions when all things are considered.

So once more, where did you get the idea that God uses imperfect means to result in a perfect end?

What is your authority for saying this, is this a sense observation? A hunch a gut feel?


LPC

Xan said...

He uses Mary to build the body of Christ, he uses all-too-human pastors to preach his word and administer the Sacraments, and he uses the writings of a handful of first-century men to deliver accounts of Christ's time on earth to us.

The Lutheran view of "single" predestination is a contradiction. It fails logic completely. It's not a matter of having too little information, it's simply that Logic is not identical with Truth.

L P said...

Xan,

Enthusiam is rejection of the means of grace - Word and Sacrament.

Although God uses people such as pastors, he is not the means of grace. He is not the objective means of God in fact as I said he can only side with the truth, he is not the source of truth - Scripture is.

I know why you can not answer my question because you know that in order for you to say that God uses imperfect things to arrive at perfect ends, you know you have to refer to Scripture, but you are stuck because you just shoot yourself in allowing Scripture to be wrong. So even that maxim is not verified to be true.

Lutheran view is consistent with the logic of Scripture it is not consistent with rationalism.

I as a Lutheran claim rationality in Scripture, I reject rationalism in interpreting it. On example of this rejection is the non-belief in 24. I reject the non-belief in 24 because non-24 is a form of rationalism with science so called.


LPC

L P said...

Xan,

Enthusiam is rejection of the means of grace - Word and Sacrament.

Although God uses people such as pastors, he is not the means of grace. He is not the objective means of God in fact as I said he can only side with the truth, he is not the source of truth - Scripture is.

I know why you can not answer my question because you know that in order for you to say that God uses imperfect things to arrive at perfect ends, you know you have to refer to Scripture, but you are stuck because you just shoot yourself in allowing Scripture to be wrong. So even that maxim is not verified to be true.

Lutheran view is consistent with the logic of Scripture it is not consistent with rationalism.

I as a Lutheran claim rationality in Scripture, I reject rationalism in interpreting it. On example of this rejection is the non-belief in 24. I reject the non-belief in 24 because non-24 is a form of rationalism with science so called.


LPC

Xan said...

Scripture is not the source of truth, God is. Scripture is the vehicle.

Scripture is not a means of grace. The Word is. Scripture is the vehicle.

If man cannot achieve his own salvation, and if any who are saved were chosen before the foundation of the world, then the rest are reprobates. QED. That's logic, and it's unassailable.

There is nothing logical about single predestination. It is the best illustration that God does not fit into your A vs Not A box.

L P said...

Xan,

By your reasoning, if God is the author of Scripture and if God inspired Scripture then God can write something that misleads.

It is impossible for God to lie, i.e., mislead. He said that himself in Scripture.

Now in your saying that Scripture is not the source of truth you have disassociated God from his word, detached him from his means of grace.

In saying that what God reveals can be false, you are actually contradicting Jesus who said it cannot fail.

Then, God could use by your reasoning, the Baghavad Gitta or the I-Ching, anyway God can use falsehood to bring what is true. By your reasoning then, God could use the Koran to bring you to the truth, no?

Lutheranism claims consistency with Scripture it does not claim consistency with rationalism. It claims rationality in Scripture but must not be willy nilly interpreted rationalistically, but rather Scripture interprets Scripture.

Single predestination accounts well the biblical data.

Can you give a scripture that says exactly in no uncertain terms that God *predestined* someone to damnation? On the other hand come to think of it, even if you could, Scripture can be anyway wrong in your exposition so this becomes not an exercise in theology but philosophy (natural).

LPC

Xan said...

Scripture is the source of truth? You honestly contend that?

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. ...so he must have come from Scripture?

That doesn't make any sense, and it certainly lends credence to those who claim that Protestants are Bible-worshipers. Because if the Bible is the source of Truth, it must be your God. Right?

L P said...

Xan,

So do you claim to know God and know Jesus being the way the truth and the life.

Just tell me how and where did you get that information that Jesus is the way the truth and the life?


How did you know Jesus said or is the way the truth and the life?


Is this some special revelation that Jesus gave you personally?

LPC

Xan said...

Lito,

I've asked this before:

How and where did you get the information that the Bible is true revelation? Is it from reading the Bible itself? (Obviously it can't be.)

IIRC, you said it was because Jesus said so.

Then allow me to ask... Is this some special revelation that Jesus gave you personally?

See, the source of truth is in fact the Holy Spirit in both your case and mine.

L P said...

Xan,

I understand the question.

I am believing what Jesus said about Scripture which is in Scripture as well. My starting point is Jesus as recorded in Scripture.

Indeed we have the same source, except that the question is which one is a coherent position.

My source is the Scripture attested by Jesus which is infallible.

Your source is Scripture attested by Jesus which can be erroneous.

This is where our differences are.

LPC

Steve Martin said...

'In the begining was the Bible, and the Bible was with God and the Bible was God.'

I have used this illustration before.

I hope you see the ridiculous nature of that twisting of scripture.

What parts of the Bible can be trusted? All of it can be. All of it is the truth.

We allow for errors of historical context and other human frailties.

So what?

Does faith mean nothing? Does everything have to be nailed to the floor like the Muslims do it?

Scripture interprets Scripture. That is my measurement.

It's all true. I don't need a perfect book to tell me that, anymore than two slightly different accounts of the hit and run accident nullify that the accident happened.

Jim Pierce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Pierce said...

"Jim, the main problem is that inerrancy advocates are casting Truth, as found in the Bible, into something that either agrees or disagrees with our modern view of the world. It's a false dichotomy."Xan, that is a possibility, but you didn't interact with my questions. Btw, I am an inerrancy advocate. You'll have to pry inerrancy from my cold dead fingers before I give it up. ;-) (Just a little humor there.)

Steve,

You write, "It's all true. I don't need a perfect book to tell me that...."I read that and I think I see where there may be a possible disconnect and that is over the meaning of "inerrancy". I could be wrong, but I do not think those who hold the position of inerrancy are claiming that the scriptures don't contain any apparent discrepancies. Indeed, years ago I had a great conversation with Dr. Ronald Youngblood on this very issue and he pointed out to me that the scriptures are inerrant in principle and that any potential "errors" that are discovered in the text are simply that: potential errors. There are enough scriptures that tell us that the revealed word of God transmitted to us in our bibles is truth and comes from God. That is a principle which tells us that His word is infallible and error free.

Indeed, you correctly point out that "It's all true". If it is ALL true, then that means it is error free. Since when is the truth flawed? The truth of God is perfect. He gave us His perfect word and chose the vehicle to carry that word. It is the means through which He chose to continue to communicate with us.

Anyway, I have to run and I have more to write, but it will have to wait until another day. :)

Steve Martin said...

Jim,

We ought to use language properly.

Inerrant means without error.

In my comments (over and over and over) I stated that while there might be human errors, the message is inerrant. The message is infallible.

That many hold the book to be "perfect" and without, or incapable of containing errors, makes Christians (in my opinion) look like religious fools.

We walk by faith and not by sight.

I trust that the message is true.

The book, as the man Jesus Himself, is made up of earthly elements.

God's Word and faith in that Word is what gives the book, the man, the bread, the wine, the water, it's perfection.

Thanks, Jim.

Jim Pierce said...

Steve,

I should have been much clearer. Inerrancy is attributed to the original autographs and not to subsequent copies and translations. So, when I talk about the bible I carry around as being the "inerrant word of God", I am actually referring to a principle that applies to it because of the nature of the original texts. I am not aware of anyone who actually argues that the particular text they carry around is inerrant. You know... it could be that a word had not been printed in that person's version and an apparent error now exists. But, that word would exist in the original autograph.

I hope that helps to clarify what I was getting at.

Past Elder said...

Original autograph "inerrancy" only doesn't even matter.

We do not have the original autographs. End of story.

So we say there was this book once that was inerrant and infallible but we don't have it any more, just copies, or alleged copies since we can neither verify nor falsify that they are indeed copies, and translations therefrom.

None of which is really an issue unless one tries to confine Scripture into the parametres of a legal brief or a propositional set in classic logic.

Do you turn to the Bible because you believe in Jesus, or turn to Jesus because you believe in the Bible.

Jim Pierce said...

"So we say there was this book once that was inerrant and infallible but we don't have it any more, just copies, or alleged copies since we can neither verify nor falsify that they are indeed copies, and translations therefrom."


PE, you have raised a good objection, but it is not sufficient reason for abandoning inerrancy of the original texts. I understand the manuscript evidence for the Bible is enormous and I see no reason to think that the original texts, presumably lost (in time they could be dug up out of the sand), haven't been satisfactorily reconstructed. In short, there are excellent reasons for believing in the integrity of the copies of we have.

Of course, one can raise doubt about the text as a matter of argument, but they can't seriously engage the empirical evidence and deny that we don't have excellent evidence providing certainty over the accuracy of the copies we do have of the originals.

"None of which is really an issue unless one tries to confine Scripture into the parametres of a legal brief or a propositional set in classic logic."


I'm not following you here.

"Do you turn to the Bible because you believe in Jesus, or turn to Jesus because you believe in the Bible."

PE, your dichotomy doesn't make sense to me. Are you implying that knowledge of Christ is somehow immediate and given to us apart from the Holy Scriptures?

If you are asking me why I "turn to the Bible" as far as reading it is concerned, I do so because I believe it is the revealed word of God. In the bible we find the words that tell us about our Lord and Savior and His very words. Words that build faith in our hearts.

Doug said...

No such thing as some sort of other immediate knowledge.

We do indeed find in the Bible words that tell us about our Lord and Saviour. Nor do I think good translations from copies removes that.

A condescension from the divine to the human indeed.

But if we are going to take it to where, for example, "day" in Genesis creation accounts must mean 24 hours or else everything else falls apart at worst or is wobbly at best, then missing inerrant documents for which we have excellent evidence that our copies are OK is not good enough. If you're going to demand of it the kind of rigour associated with, say, a propositional set in classic logic, then you either have that set or you don't.

Jim Pierce said...

Doug,

What I am not understanding with your response is what sort of exactness you require from the Holy Bible.

Regarding the idea that proponents of innerancy require a sort of rigor as found in set theory with that of inerrancy, I am not sure that is a good example for your point and is likely a straw man. Perhaps I am still misunderstanding, but I think a better point is over whether or not we can expect the same sort of certainty regarding the words of the bible as we have in the solution of a mathematics problem. I don't think the question is whether or not we treat the biblical text with mathematical rigor (or, set theory etc.), but whether or not we can be certain that the words we read in the scriptures are in fact true. But, this is all really a different subject matter than that of the inerrancy of scripture, and is more of a discussion over the methods by which we know that the text we have today is an accurate representation of the original documents. As far as I am concerned, (Which means nothing to anyone else, btw. There's that whole saying about opinions and (fill in the blank).) the discussion of inerrancy is a doctrinal one. If the bible tells us that the words of God are truth, and I know that it does, then what does that mean about the collection of those words?

Any way... I am going to make this my last posting on this subject, since I am not going to convince anyone to accept inerrancy.

Thanks for the dialogue.

L P said...

PE.

All your rhetorical questions are equally applicable to you. You believe the Scripture is inspired correct?

Now as usual, you have a skillful way of stating something that contradicts yourself.

So if you believe that Scripture is inspired, can you care to explain how it can be erroneous in some parts?

LPC

L P said...

Doug,

I contend that the statements in the Bible are propositionally true statements.

I follow the Christian community in their traditional belief that the Scripture is complete. Therefore if we do find Paul's letter to Laodecia, we will not open up the canon to make room for it.

You are arguing from silence in saying that there are inerrant documents not in our canon as if it is not complete.

Of course I am coming from a presuposition that the statements in the Bible are propositionally true by definition of it being God breathed.


I come from the point that Scripture by its clarity is coherent as a whole. I believe there is rationality in Scripture but it should not be rationalistically be read. To claim rationality does not mean we claim advocacy with rationalism.

Coming to your last point, I do contend that I do have the set, it is complete by virtue of it having such a tradition. A topic that may be related but not necessarily equal to this is canonical criticism.

LPC

L P said...

SM,

Firstly I like to ask, do you think the BoC is a correct exposition of Scripture?

I ask this because you use the word 'Word'. In the BoC, the word 'Word' is taken in two senses - a.) as a reference to the Gospel, b.) as a reference to Scripture.

You use Word in the case of a.) almost always. This is not the way the BoC uses it in that exclusive sense. Scripture is both Law and Gospel, both of them is the Word of God, both together reflect Christ.


Therefore, it is a disconnect indeed to say you can extract the Word from Scripture and to grant at the same time that the text in Scripture have errors.

I am at a loss as to how you are able to do that.

LPC.

Doug said...

What does this have to do with what books are in the Bible? we were talking about having only supposed copies of books in the Bible, not which books are in the Bible?

Look, if you give inerrancy only to the original documents and we do not have those documents any more, that has nothing to do with the canon being complete. It is complete. We don't have originals of any of the books in it, not that there are lost books not in the canon at all.

Sounds like your faith rests on tradition about the Bible rather than the Bible itself.

L P said...

Doug,

Look, if you give inerrancy only to the original documents and we do not have those documents any more, that has nothing to do with the canon being complete.

...

I regret you are mistaken and taken the same blunder as Past Elder. I do not claim inerrancy for the originals only. So all of your arguments are irrelevant to my case because your assumption about my position is wrong, sorry about that but you have to do a bit more reading on the water that passed under this head.

No I believe the copies that we have itself are inerrant.

The issue of copies was not an issue with Jesus when he said what he said in John 5:47. Jesus never talked about original copies etc and what have you, he was not bothered with it, so do I.

LPC

Jim Pierce said...

OK this will be my last post. :-)

Doug,

Lito didn't mention inerrancy for the originals only. I did. I could be mistaken and it just might extend to the copies, too. I admit my ignorance on that point. When I was a pentecostal years ago, my church taught that only the originals were inerrant. Thanks to this discussion, and all of you, I will be digging deeper into the doctrine of inerrancy to find were inerrancy extends.

Lito,

If you have a good resource on this topic, please post it here or contact me through my email address found on my profile at my blog, Confessional's Bytes.

Thank you. :)

Doug said...

Well I guess I better start writing like it's a paper in school if I'm going to post here.

Who said the originals only are inerrant was no more my point that what books are in the Bible. And it doesn't matter. Put it this way then, if one gives inerrancy only to the original documents etc.

It's about the position, not about who takes it. And it's clear you give an inerrancy to the copies we have too. That's why I wrote that your doing that then rests on tradition rather than the Bible itself.

Man, you guys talk about reading the text of a translation of a copy of a lost original for the so called plain meaning of its words, and can't even read a comment in a combox without getting it messed up.

L P said...

Doug,

In addition to posting like writing paper, you just need to be clear and patient with the rest of the posters, because the object of discussion is at least to clarify for yourself and the one reading, the soundness of yours and his position. Also above all, direct the post to the poster you are responding --- by name.

That would have helped in understanding who you were addressing.

re: Tradition on the canon.

You speak as if having a belief that has input from tradition is a bad thing. Tradition act as a witness. However tradition is testable. We can use it to verify or negate it because the truth is out there.

Take Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant groups, these differ as to the number of books in the OT canon. They do not differ however on the NT canon. I believe the Protestants are in a very good position in following Judaism for the canon of their OT.

Therefore, for the tradition that our present NT is not complete, I have not heard of such tradition at any rate, such tradition did not survive. Further for the tradition that the Jewish OT Canon is not complete (they discounted of course the deutero-canonicals), I have not heard of it either.

To insinuate that believing in tradition is as if it is a bad thing is not enough, you need to demonstrate that the belief I have is wrong because it does not comply with the truth.

Your valid option in this case is to demonstrate that the tradition I believe re: canon completeness, is erroneous, i.e. does not comply with the facts.

LPC

L P said...

Jim,

The position you have been seeing foisted against mine is the resurrection of the Rogers-McKim proposal on Scripture. Briefly, this is the position that Scripture is infallible only when it comes to salvation matters but it can be erroneous in other things. This was a 1980s proposal.

Commenters against the inerrantist position may not label themselves as coming from the Rogers-McKim school of thought but latent ideas do trickle down to where we live.

I will post on this and email you as well on some references. It will be sometime next week though.

God bless,

LPC

Jim Pierce said...

Thanks Lito. I look forward to the references.

Doug said...

You didn't get it? I didn't say a thing about the canon not being complete. It was about copies and originals of what is in the complete canon.

I did read through some of the "water" as you called it.

Maybe you'd do better to stick to what people actually do say rather than what you think they say "as if" or insinuate and then tell them what their next step ought to be.

Out.

L P said...

Doug,

Thanks for clarifying, I can see now that when you mean missing inerrant documents you mean the missing original.

So my point is still valid I think because your point is irrelevant to mine.

Out.


Well said, :-)

LPC

Xan said...

You don't hear inerrancy advocates calling themselves part of the Geisler/Nix school of thought from the '80s.

You don't hear 144-hour Creationists calling themselves part of the 7th Day Adventist Church of the 19th century.

But latent ideas do trickle down to where we live.

L P said...

Fair comment.

But it is actually the Woodbridge or the Radmacher/Preus gang.

LPC