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The Perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture

leonardlewis4
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8/21/2013 5:14:23 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I wanted to address some of dj21's concerns and the voiced concerns of the voters/comments from the following debate:

http://www.debate.org...

Concerning the Perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture:
First, the "clarity of Scripture" means that understanding is possible, not that it is necessarily easy. So what do we expect from the Bible?

It is commonly said (and rightly so), that "The Bible is the Word of God given in human words in history." In my experience, people who do not accept the Divine/human nature of the Bible tend to have irrational expectations concerning the Word of God. I use the term, "irrational", because the expectations are almost always arbitrary. If they are not arbitrary, they are often inconsistent. In other cases, the expectation will require something of Scripture (or a passage in context) that it never intended to provide--and the skeptic will jump through hoops to force their expectations on the text or the author(s) in question. An example from our debate:

| dj21: "Pro starts by reminding us that "Bible authors are no different than modern
| authors..." Wait. What?? This is the Word of God we are talking about. I think it"s
| reasonable to expect an omnipotent God to help his human vessels use figures of
| speech, metaphors and literary devices in ways that are incontrovertibly understood.

First, my actual reminder was this: "...the Bible authors are no different than modern authors with respect to their use of figures of speech, metaphors and literary devices. Scripture often speaks in the language of appearance/observation--without special regard to technical accuracy. And we do too."

Obviously, I never implied that God didn't help the authors in that regard. I simply made the point that literary/language devices were used by the Bible authors--just as they are used by modern authors and even in everyday conversation--so the modern reader should approach Scripture with this in mind.

Here, dj21 promotes his expectations of the Bible in response to his own straw man revision of my argument: "I think it's reasonable to expect an omnipotent God to help his human vessels use figures of speech, metaphors and literary devices in ways that are incontrovertibly understood."

Yes, that sounds good... But it is important to note that dj21 had to truncate my actual reminder as a contrast against which he could justify and promote his "reasonable" expectation.

Is his expectation irrational? Well, I would agree that it is "reasonable to expect God to help his human vessels use figures of speech, metaphors and literary devices"--it is reasonable because of the Bible's claim to Divine inspiration... But I would not agree with dj21's arbitrary qualification: "...in ways that are incontrovertibly understood".

Here, dj21's expectation imposes an arbitrary rule. That rule may be what dj21 requires (unconditionally) of the Bible, but there is no warrant (Biblical or otherwise) to presume that God wants all people, of all ages and all persuasions, at all times to understand every passage the same way, with an eye on the same facet of the same truth, with the same conviction and depth of understanding, for the same purposes, etc...

Consider this: Jesus often taught in parables. In many cases, even His disciples didn't fully understand what He was teaching without further explanation. Sometimes, Jesus would provide a plain explanation and other times, He would tell another (similar) parable. Moreover, when questioned about this, Jesus gave an interesting answer:

Matthew 13:10-17 (NASB)
[10] The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" [11] He replied, "Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. [12] Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

[13] This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

[14] In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ""You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. [15] For this people"s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."

[16] But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. [17] For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

The point is this: There are passages in Scripture that require more thought and more study to understand in-depth. With more study, the Scriptures tend to come alive. However, readers or hearers who willingly and unrelentingly reject the truth will likely never come to understand certain things in Scripture: (1) because they are not approaching Scripture with the openness and humility required; and (2) because (as Jesus reasoned above, knowing their hearts), it is better for them if they reject what they don't understand than to ultimately reject the truth made clear to them.

Finally, the "clarity of Scripture" is neither an absolute value nor an abstract property, but a specific function relative to its particular aim[+]... We should be mindful of what the Scriptures are aiming to communicate. For instance, some might have preferred that the beginning of the Genesis creation account should read like a cosmology textbook... But to maintain that expectation of Scripture in light of the account we were given would be to stand in willful ignorance of its particular aim.

[+] http://www.monergism.com...
thg
Posts: 520
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8/21/2013 5:50:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
What a great post, leonardlewis4! You and I may have our disagreements, but your post is a great account of some basic principles of biblical interpretation and of common misunderstandings.

I would add that one does not even need to approach the Bible with religious faith per se, or even a spiritually sensitive attitude. I believe just approaching the Bible with basic respect and openness, as one might approach any book or work of art, will yield amazing results... the Bible can change the life of even those that are resistant...as long as they just give it a modicum of intellectual and artistic respect. I dare say many don't read the Bible not because they can't buy into it intellectually, but because they are afraid of what they will encounter in it.
bulproof
Posts: 25,197
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8/21/2013 6:11:07 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 5:14:23 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
First, the "clarity of Scripture" means that understanding is possible, not that it is necessarily easy. So what do we expect from the Bible?
If you expect something before you read a book then you will never understand it.
Understanding of the written word is in no way dependent upon what you EXPECT.
EXPECTING something from a written text can only lead to misinterpretation of that text.
I hope I helped.
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin
leonardlewis4
Posts: 93
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8/21/2013 6:37:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 6:11:07 AM, bulproof wrote:
At 8/21/2013 5:14:23 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
First, the "clarity of Scripture" means that understanding is possible, not that it is necessarily easy. So what do we expect from the Bible?
If you expect something before you read a book then you will never understand it.
Understanding of the written word is in no way dependent upon what you EXPECT.
EXPECTING something from a written text can only lead to misinterpretation of that text.
I hope I helped.

The question is rhetorical...

In a sense, you restated one of my points. As with the skeptic case, if a person doesn't approach the Bible with the openness and humility required to learn what it is aiming to communicate, then that person has probably already formulated unreasonable expectations. Often skeptics will approach a particular passage or account from Scripture, demanding that it provide some form of contemporary scientific or technical agreement that it never aimed to provide... In this way, the skeptic willfully ignores the particular aim of the text in question, preferring instead to hold it to an arbitrary standard.
dj21
Posts: 38
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8/21/2013 8:00:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Leonard, I agree with your assertions across the board as it pertains to individual application. Tremendous value can be gained through reading and/or study of the Bible. The same kinds of value can be gained by studying the Koran, Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Analects of Confusius, etc. They all provide valuable moral insight, valuable lesson in personal ethics, self-management, spiritual perspective and disposition, societal order, and so on. Having read all of them (and many others), I would say the teachings of Jesus approximate those of the Dhammapada and the Bhagavad Gita far more closely than the Old Testament accounts of Yahewh. Each of these scriptures offer a road to salvation, to understanding Ultimate Reality or God. What is the standard by which you judge one to be more worthwhile than another? If not reason and rationality, then what? If intuition or spirit, the direct correlation between geographic regionality and religious belief suggests to me that indoctrination is a significant factor, and likely far moreso than individual intution (I believe there are genuie seekers in all parts of the world, in all relgions... I suspect western Christendom does not have the market cornered on genuine spirituality (maybe just the opposite)). So back to the original question, if the value of the Bible is striclty subject to personal interpretation, what makes it more valuable than other holy scriptures?
Floid
Posts: 751
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8/21/2013 8:12:22 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The clarity of scripture is empirically disproved.

There are over 41,000 Christian denominations. Some of these denominations are formed because of political, personal, or other differences but many (especially the major denominations) differ on a fundamental level based on their interpretations of scripture. These denominations are founded and led by people who have devoted their lives to trying to understand scripture.

So the gist of your argument is people who find scripture unclear do so because they just haven't applied themselves or who approach it with preconceived ideas really doesn't hold up when you look at real world facts.

Scripture was written thousands of years ago by ancient and often barbaric/ignorant people. You should embrace the fact that parts are vague because that is what allows it to stay relevant in modern society. Many of the clear passages we can clearly rule out as barbaric (how to treat your slaves, a rapist should pay the woman's father and marry her) or factually wrong (account of creation).
bulproof
Posts: 25,197
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8/21/2013 8:29:59 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 6:37:56 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
At 8/21/2013 6:11:07 AM, bulproof wrote:
At 8/21/2013 5:14:23 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
First, the "clarity of Scripture" means that understanding is possible, not that it is necessarily easy. So what do we expect from the Bible?
If you expect something before you read a book then you will never understand it.
Understanding of the written word is in no way dependent upon what you EXPECT.
EXPECTING something from a written text can only lead to misinterpretation of that text.
I hope I helped.

The question is rhetorical...

In a sense, you restated one of my points. As with the skeptic case, if a person doesn't approach the Bible with the openness and humility required to learn what it is aiming to communicate, then that person has probably already formulated unreasonable expectations. Often skeptics will approach a particular passage or account from Scripture, demanding that it provide some form of contemporary scientific or technical agreement that it never aimed to provide... In this way, the skeptic willfully ignores the particular aim of the text in question, preferring instead to hold it to an arbitrary standard.

This drivel has nothing to do with what you said and I quoted.
So what do we expect from the Bible?
if a person doesn't approach the Bible with the openness and humility required
The first sentence is completely contradicted by the second.
The lie of placing the blame on the skeptic just exacerbates your dishonesty.
Lies are the only weapon of the biblical apologist. Understandable given the contradictory drivel they are attempting to defend.
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin
leonardlewis4
Posts: 93
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8/21/2013 9:09:55 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 8:29:59 AM, bulproof wrote:
At 8/21/2013 6:37:56 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
At 8/21/2013 6:11:07 AM, bulproof wrote:
At 8/21/2013 5:14:23 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
First, the "clarity of Scripture" means that understanding is possible, not that it is necessarily easy. So what do we expect from the Bible?
If you expect something before you read a book then you will never understand it.
Understanding of the written word is in no way dependent upon what you EXPECT.
EXPECTING something from a written text can only lead to misinterpretation of that text.
I hope I helped.

The question is rhetorical...

In a sense, you restated one of my points. As with the skeptic case, if a person doesn't approach the Bible with the openness and humility required to learn what it is aiming to communicate, then that person has probably already formulated unreasonable expectations. Often skeptics will approach a particular passage or account from Scripture, demanding that it provide some form of contemporary scientific or technical agreement that it never aimed to provide... In this way, the skeptic willfully ignores the particular aim of the text in question, preferring instead to hold it to an arbitrary standard.

This drivel has nothing to do with what you said and I quoted.
So what do we expect from the Bible?
if a person doesn't approach the Bible with the openness and humility required
The first sentence is completely contradicted by the second.
The lie of placing the blame on the skeptic just exacerbates your dishonesty.
Lies are the only weapon of the biblical apologist. Understandable given the contradictory drivel they are attempting to defend.

Drivel, huh? Okay...

Well, I'm pretty sure that most of the thinking people who read the post will recognize a rhetorical question for what it is. It's unfortunate that you can't seem to get your mind around what I wrote, because you're only making yourself look foolish by being so unpleasant and combative without cause. The people who read your replies will immediately recognize that your abrasive comments are completely irrelevant and that you're apparently bit out of your element in this particular forum.

To all,

If I missed something here, let me know what was so deserving of bulproof's bitter response.

Thx
leonardlewis4
Posts: 93
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8/21/2013 9:16:38 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 8:12:22 AM, Floid wrote:
The clarity of scripture is empirically disproved.

There are over 41,000 Christian denominations. Some of these denominations are formed because of political, personal, or other differences but many (especially the major denominations) differ on a fundamental level based on their interpretations of scripture. These denominations are founded and led by people who have devoted their lives to trying to understand scripture.

So the gist of your argument is people who find scripture unclear do so because they just haven't applied themselves or who approach it with preconceived ideas really doesn't hold up when you look at real world facts.

Scripture was written thousands of years ago by ancient and often barbaric/ignorant people. You should embrace the fact that parts are vague because that is what allows it to stay relevant in modern society. Many of the clear passages we can clearly rule out as barbaric (how to treat your slaves, a rapist should pay the woman's father and marry her) or factually wrong (account of creation).

How thoughtful... Again, with the "ancient barbaric/ignorant people" slur, and the "God condones slavery/rape" nonsense???

Yes, they were so barbaric and ignorant, they were able to conceive of oral tradition and writings that survived and thrived for thousands of years...the rule of faith for billions throughout history and to this day.

You obviously have no idea the incomparable blessings bestowed on Western civilization by the Christian influence over the last 500 years. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad...

To all, Floid and the like are case in point from my original post.
dj21
Posts: 38
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8/21/2013 9:35:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 9:16:38 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:

How thoughtful... Again, with the "ancient barbaric/ignorant people" slur, and the "God condones slavery/rape" nonsense???

leonard, you know I like and respect you, but every now and then when you something like this, I am uncertain whether you have read all of the Old Testament. And is your dismissal of Floid's criticism any better than his dismissal of your views? There is no shortage of "barbaric" perspective in the Old Testament. I can find 50 verses of God-ordained brutality if you please, though I imagine you can easily find them via a Google search of your own.

You obviously have no idea the incomparable blessings bestowed on Western civilization by the Christian influence over the last 500 years. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad...

Is Western society, with its Christian influence (I would argue Plato had a far greater influence, having likely substantially impacted Christianity itself as well), any more moral than Eastern society has been with Confusian influence?

Put another way, western society has in general relied upon deductive reasoning (a general focus on absolutes and external reality), whereas eastern society has generally had a more inductive approach (starting from within with self-restraint, and extrapolating outward). What I find fascinating in terms of comparative religions is that every single (major) religion folds selflessness, the placation or removal of ego, to be imperative for happiness. That crede, regardless of origin, can be the basis for a very successful society.
leonardlewis4
Posts: 93
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8/21/2013 9:56:14 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 9:35:26 AM, dj21 wrote:
At 8/21/2013 9:16:38 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:

How thoughtful... Again, with the "ancient barbaric/ignorant people" slur, and the "God condones slavery/rape" nonsense???

leonard, you know I like and respect you, but every now and then when you something like this, I am uncertain whether you have read all of the Old Testament. And is your dismissal of Floid's criticism any better than his dismissal of your views? There is no shortage of "barbaric" perspective in the Old Testament. I can find 50 verses of God-ordained brutality if you please, though I imagine you can easily find them via a Google search of your own.

You obviously have no idea the incomparable blessings bestowed on Western civilization by the Christian influence over the last 500 years. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad...

Is Western society, with its Christian influence (I would argue Plato had a far greater influence, having likely substantially impacted Christianity itself as well), any more moral than Eastern society has been with Confusian influence?

Put another way, western society has in general relied upon deductive reasoning (a general focus on absolutes and external reality), whereas eastern society has generally had a more inductive approach (starting from within with self-restraint, and extrapolating outward). What I find fascinating in terms of comparative religions is that every single (major) religion folds selflessness, the placation or removal of ego, to be imperative for happiness. That crede, regardless of origin, can be the basis for a very successful society.

@dj21,

Really? You wonder if I've read the Old Testament? I appreciate that.

Honestly, I don't need Google to find the references and I don't need anyone to explain their view of how God condones rape, slavery, baby killing and any number of other detestable things... I've heard it and had that discussion 1000 times. It's just nonsensical justification for an intellectually lazy or dishonest evaluation of the Scriptures... If you approach the Bible with even the slightest grace, there's no way you come away reading all of that into the text--or into God's character (and by-proxy, Christian character) unless your presuppositions require it.

My point is, if you really hold to that shallow view, it isn't because you approached the Bible with an attitude to learn what it was intended to communicate--rather, your expectations are unreasonable or your presuppositions preclude any other view (as explained in my initial post).
annanicole
Posts: 19,782
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8/21/2013 10:23:58 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
OP by leonard = basically correct
Madcornishbiker: "No, I don't need a dictionary, I know how scripture uses words and that is all I need to now."
dj21
Posts: 38
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8/21/2013 11:36:39 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Honestly, I don't need Google to find the references and I don't need anyone to explain their view of how God condones rape, slavery, baby killing and any number of other detestable things... I've heard it and had that discussion 1000 times. It's just nonsensical justification for an intellectually lazy or dishonest evaluation of the Scriptures... If you approach the Bible with even the slightest grace, there's no way you come away reading all of that into the text--or into God's character (and by-proxy, Christian character) unless your presuppositions require it.

I did not mean to sound insulting, I'm sorry it came off that way. So you acknowledge that there are things in the Old Testament that, taken at face value, could seem unusually violent or even disturbing. Such things are not in the Dhammapada. They are not in the Bhagavad Gita. Confucius never suggests killing on men, women and children in a conquered land. And yet suggests something akin to each of the "Fruits of the Spirit" 500 years before the New Testament was compiled. Point being, the standard to which those Old Testament verses are being compared is not random. Those three compositions I mention are contemporary to the Old Testament. Perhaps not incidentally, the Koran, which is also a holy scripture of Yahweh, does have a more combatant tone. But if those Eastern books of wisdom could do without commands of wonton violence, why not the Old Testament too? Is it likely that an unchanging God both commanded the Israelites to kill men, women and children in a conquered land, then also command us to "turn the other cheek" to our enemies? Do these not strike you as distinctly different approaches to dealing with opposition?


My point is, if you really hold to that shallow view, it isn't because you approached the Bible with an attitude to learn what it was intended to communicate--rather, your expectations are unreasonable or your presuppositions preclude any other view (as explained in my initial post).

It seems to me quite the contrary. It seems to me that the only way the question of O.T. violent references can be dismissed is with the self-confirming presumption that since God is Holy and Righteous (as stated elsewhere in the Bible, and thus unquestionably True), that those violent references could not possibly be meant as it reads at first glance.

So who is relying more heavily on presumption?
bornofgod
Posts: 11,322
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8/21/2013 11:44:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 5:14:23 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
I wanted to address some of dj21's concerns and the voiced concerns of the voters/comments from the following debate:

http://www.debate.org...

Concerning the Perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture:
First, the "clarity of Scripture" means that understanding is possible, not that it is necessarily easy. So what do we expect from the Bible?

It is commonly said (and rightly so), that "The Bible is the Word of God given in human words in history." In my experience, people who do not accept the Divine/human nature of the Bible tend to have irrational expectations concerning the Word of God. I use the term, "irrational", because the expectations are almost always arbitrary. If they are not arbitrary, they are often inconsistent. In other cases, the expectation will require something of Scripture (or a passage in context) that it never intended to provide--and the skeptic will jump through hoops to force their expectations on the text or the author(s) in question. An example from our debate:

| dj21: "Pro starts by reminding us that "Bible authors are no different than modern
| authors..." Wait. What?? This is the Word of God we are talking about. I think it"s
| reasonable to expect an omnipotent God to help his human vessels use figures of
| speech, metaphors and literary devices in ways that are incontrovertibly understood.

First, my actual reminder was this: "...the Bible authors are no different than modern authors with respect to their use of figures of speech, metaphors and literary devices. Scripture often speaks in the language of appearance/observation--without special regard to technical accuracy. And we do too."

Obviously, I never implied that God didn't help the authors in that regard. I simply made the point that literary/language devices were used by the Bible authors--just as they are used by modern authors and even in everyday conversation--so the modern reader should approach Scripture with this in mind.

Here, dj21 promotes his expectations of the Bible in response to his own straw man revision of my argument: "I think it's reasonable to expect an omnipotent God to help his human vessels use figures of speech, metaphors and literary devices in ways that are incontrovertibly understood."

Yes, that sounds good... But it is important to note that dj21 had to truncate my actual reminder as a contrast against which he could justify and promote his "reasonable" expectation.

Is his expectation irrational? Well, I would agree that it is "reasonable to expect God to help his human vessels use figures of speech, metaphors and literary devices"--it is reasonable because of the Bible's claim to Divine inspiration... But I would not agree with dj21's arbitrary qualification: "...in ways that are incontrovertibly understood".

Here, dj21's expectation imposes an arbitrary rule. That rule may be what dj21 requires (unconditionally) of the Bible, but there is no warrant (Biblical or otherwise) to presume that God wants all people, of all ages and all persuasions, at all times to understand every passage the same way, with an eye on the same facet of the same truth, with the same conviction and depth of understanding, for the same purposes, etc...

Consider this: Jesus often taught in parables. In many cases, even His disciples didn't fully understand what He was teaching without further explanation. Sometimes, Jesus would provide a plain explanation and other times, He would tell another (similar) parable. Moreover, when questioned about this, Jesus gave an interesting answer:

Matthew 13:10-17 (NASB)
[10] The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" [11] He replied, "Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. [12] Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

[13] This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

[14] In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ""You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. [15] For this people"s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."

[16] But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. [17] For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

The point is this: There are passages in Scripture that require more thought and more study to understand in-depth. With more study, the Scriptures tend to come alive. However, readers or hearers who willingly and unrelentingly reject the truth will likely never come to understand certain things in Scripture: (1) because they are not approaching Scripture with the openness and humility required; and (2) because (as Jesus reasoned above, knowing their hearts), it is better for them if they reject what they don't understand than to ultimately reject the truth made clear to them.

Finally, the "clarity of Scripture" is neither an absolute value nor an abstract property, but a specific function relative to its particular aim[+]... We should be mindful of what the Scriptures are aiming to communicate. For instance, some might have preferred that the beginning of the Genesis creation account should read like a cosmology textbook... But to maintain that expectation of Scripture in light of the account we were given would be to stand in willful ignorance of its particular aim.

[+] http://www.monergism.com...

No sinner can understand the prophecies of God. The prophecies were meant for God's saints to read so He can interpret them and add to the clarity of the invisible Christ within His mind, which is also my mind where I get the words He gives me to write these comments and OP's in this forum.

Christians are very deceived sinners who think they're saints or someone special to our Creator. They are only sinners who's flesh will perish in this first age without any knowledge to understand how they were created or how they'll live in Paradise in their new bodies of flesh. Unless you're chosen to be a believer of the gospel we saints preach, you'll remain clueless of God's eternal plan. If you're a believer, you will listen to the message in my testimonies here in this forum.
dj21
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8/21/2013 11:52:51 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The follow-on observation is that, if one is seeking wisdom and life guidance, writings like the Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, etc (many, many others) can provide useful instruction without a hint of violence. So why choose guidance from the Bible (including the Old Testament, which include these various very violent accounts)? Because, through the account of Jesus, in claims exclusive truth. This brings two very salient points to the table: 1) It claims exclusive knowledge (there is no other path to God). The others do not claim this (not even the Koran does). 2) It bases its claims upon, to a large degree, historical veracity: the life and death of Jesus, as a historical figure. It places itself into specific time and space, and makes specific claims about "objective" reality. On what basis do you attempt to makes sense of the world around you? When I present "Leviathan" to you, as written by Thomas Hobbes, and call it The Word of God. What methods would you use to disprove my claim. Reason? Some other methodology that exclude the use of reason? Why should the same faculty - reason - be used in determining the veracity of the Bible's claims?
dj21
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8/21/2013 12:12:50 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 11:52:51 AM, dj21 wrote:
Why should the same faculty - reason - be used in determining the veracity of the Bible's claims?

Sorry, that should have said:
Why should the same faculty - reason - NOT be used in determining the veracity of the Bible's claims? Do you fear that brushing aside some of the ultra-violent accounts in the Old Testament based on a larger context sets standard for writing inspired by an Omniscient and perfectly Righteous God that is lower than appropriate? If material like which (which so contrary to what Jesus taught in the same book) does not deserve careful inspection and understanding, what kind of material would? If you can brush that material aside and consider it valid, why can not a different reader brush aside the resurrection and consider it valid? Are you both not picking and choosing parts to ignore because it doesn't fit with a (preconceived) whole?
bornofgod
Posts: 11,322
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8/21/2013 12:17:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 11:52:51 AM, dj21 wrote:
The follow-on observation is that, if one is seeking wisdom and life guidance, writings like the Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, etc (many, many others) can provide useful instruction without a hint of violence. So why choose guidance from the Bible (including the Old Testament, which include these various very violent accounts)? Because, through the account of Jesus, in claims exclusive truth. This brings two very salient points to the table: 1) It claims exclusive knowledge (there is no other path to God). The others do not claim this (not even the Koran does). 2) It bases its claims upon, to a large degree, historical veracity: the life and death of Jesus, as a historical figure. It places itself into specific time and space, and makes specific claims about "objective" reality. On what basis do you attempt to makes sense of the world around you? When I present "Leviathan" to you, as written by Thomas Hobbes, and call it The Word of God. What methods would you use to disprove my claim. Reason? Some other methodology that exclude the use of reason? Why should the same faculty - reason - be used in determining the veracity of the Bible's claims?

The Trut created good and evil as a deception so obtaining the Truth isn't about how good you can make yourself. The Truth chooses who He gives His knowledge to but this was established long before this earth appeared.

Ephesians 1
1: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus:
2: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
5: He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
9: For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ
10: as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11: In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will,
12: we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.
13: In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
14: which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
dj21
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8/21/2013 12:25:52 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 12:17:49 PM, bornofgod wrote:

Thanks bornofgod. I am aware of Reformed theology. It begs the question:

If God predestined you for salvation and me for damnation, what is the point? What is God's motivation in creating this movie?

I'll use myself as an example. I was a born-again, spirit-filled Christian for over 30 years.
Following reformed logic:
I was one of the chosen. I couldn't resist God's call if I had wanted. I was a preordained Saint.
But then I found all these contradictions, etc. and decided I couldn't be a Christian anymore.
So now I was never a Christian to begin with, right? Not REALLY.

So what do we learn from that little excercise?
1) One can never know if one is a Christian or not.
2) Even if one did know, (according to Reformed Theology) there is nothing to be done about it.

So what's the point?
Floid
Posts: 751
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8/21/2013 1:17:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
How thoughtful... Again, with the "ancient barbaric/ignorant people" slur, and the "God condones slavery/rape" nonsense???

Leviticus 25:44-46
44 ""Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Exactly how much time have you spend reading the Bible? For someone claiming people need to study it more it appears you don't even know what is in the first few chapters.

You obviously have no idea the incomparable blessings bestowed on Western civilization by the Christian influence over the last 500 years. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad...

Please elaborate, what blessings did religion give to Western civilization?

The struggle against religion has given us some obvious blessings such as constitutional government and democracy, but I don't think religion gets credit for what people did in opposition to it.
leonardlewis4
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8/21/2013 3:33:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 1:17:16 PM, Floid wrote:
How thoughtful... Again, with the "ancient barbaric/ignorant people" slur, and the "God condones slavery/rape" nonsense???

Leviticus 25:44-46
44 ""Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Exactly how much time have you spend reading the Bible? For someone claiming people need to study it more it appears you don't even know what is in the first few chapters.


Exactly how willfully biased must you be to take a couple verses out of context and ignore the fact that God's Laws for Israel concerning slavery were very strictly purposed to serve and ultimately redeem the poor from circumstances that in any other culture would have required lifelong servitude?

Moreover, so much of the Mosaic Law was focused on eliminating the circumstances that led people to sell themselves into slavery in the first place, it is obvious that God is not condoning slavery as we know it (in light of more recent history). Slavery in ancient Israel looked nothing at all like the more recent institutions of slavery in other civilizations:

Of course, these distinctions are often overlooked or ignored... For instance, if anyone was caught capturing and selling another person into slavery, the Mosaic Law required that they be executed. We also have to remember, there were no welfare programs or safety-nets (as we know them) in ancient times. The Mosaic Law concerning debt, slavery, charity, etc...was actually a quite "progressive" safety-net. Poverty often required people to sell themselves or family members into slavery. Slavery (in most cases) would have been better than death--even in other civilizations. "Slavery" (if you can call it that) under the Mosaic Law provided a person with food, shelter and other protections/benefits in exchange for labor. It was certainly nothing comparable to the kind of oppression they experienced in Egypt.

There were certainly rules concerning slavery in the Bible, but those rules in the Law were purposed primarily to protect the slave. Injuring or killing a slave carried severe consequences, with some offenses punishable by death. Also, the Children of Israel were not permitted to enslave their fellow Israelites, even in the case of debt... There was a contract of hired servitude in that case, but it was not an indefinite contract. The maximum length of servitude was 7 years or to the year of jubilee (every 50 years), whichever came first. In every sense, the slave owner was encouraged by the Law to treat his "slave" (native or foreign) with the highest dignity.

According to your logic, God condones divorce as well. But according to the Bible, God hates divorce. Also according to the Bible, God permitted it and provided strict laws around it because of sinful man--not wanting them to find other ways to rid themselves of a wife. In this way he used something that He does not condone as a means to accomplish a greater good. The same is true of the Mosaic Law concerning slavery.

Read the whole thing... You might actually understand God's purposes.

Finally... When someone claims that God condones slavery, the usual implication is that Christians do in some sense as well (by not denying that mean ole' God). However, that notion is completely ignorant of the fact that--even if God did "condone" slavery in Israel to serve some purpose--the Old Covenant Mosaic Law is not binding for the Christian--that it is largely descriptive (in a historical/back-story sense) and not prescriptive for the Christian who, according to the New Covenant, is bound only by the Law of Christ (the Law of Love).
Hvaniratha
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8/21/2013 3:59:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
" They should fully instruct such, as are capable of learning, from among the people of the world, who do not understand the Creator, nor the details regarding his miraculous spiritual creation. "
-- Denkard, book 4

The Scriptures of the Denkard are not clear ! They are often mysterious and hard to understand. When I read the " Bible " and when I read the " Avesta " sometimes the " Avesta " is easier to understand. And the " Avesta " itself says that no one can understand it perfectly!
bornofgod
Posts: 11,322
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8/21/2013 5:11:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 12:25:52 PM, dj21 wrote:
At 8/21/2013 12:17:49 PM, bornofgod wrote:

Thanks bornofgod. I am aware of Reformed theology. It begs the question:

If God predestined you for salvation and me for damnation, what is the point? What is God's motivation in creating this movie?

I'll use myself as an example. I was a born-again, spirit-filled Christian for over 30 years.
Following reformed logic:
I was one of the chosen. I couldn't resist God's call if I had wanted. I was a preordained Saint.
But then I found all these contradictions, etc. and decided I couldn't be a Christian anymore.
So now I was never a Christian to begin with, right? Not REALLY.

So what do we learn from that little excercise?
1) One can never know if one is a Christian or not.
2) Even if one did know, (according to Reformed Theology) there is nothing to be done about it.

So what's the point?

The only point to this first age was for God to connect with His servant ( Christ ) in the mind of HIs prophets and us saints and use us for His purpose to reveal who we are and what His eternal plan is from the invisible. The written prophecies and everything we speak are called testimonies of the Christ we witness within our minds, which is the mind of God where all God's creation exists in the form of wavelengths of energy. Wavelengths of energy are bits of information that are spoken into existence by the voice of God, which is the Christ, or Word of God, also known as the gospel that we preach.

Once God finishes revealing how He created us by using my flesh, this age will end according to God's plan for this first age. None of this will be remembered as it is destroyed on the "Last Day" of this age. Check out this following prophecy;

Isaiah 65
16: So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hid from my eyes.
17: "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
18: But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19: I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.

As we awaken in our new flesh in Paradise, we won't remember what happened in the first age where God connected with His servant and taught us about the future and how we're created. We saints will awaken, knowing our Creator within His mind to be used to speak the new language into existence. We'll learn that all God's people will be reborn as men, formed in the flesh of a male and female to be eternal partners.

We saints won't have any male or female gender to be used for having children. We only exist to speak new knowledge into the language for men to understand each other's stories of what happened in their visions and dreams.

If you're interested, I can tell you a lot about how we'll live in the next age.
dj21
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8/21/2013 7:52:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
If you're interested, I can tell you a lot about how we'll live in the next age.

I appreciate the offer, but I am much more curious about what value you find is this belief. Do you believe you have any say in whether you are one of God's saints?
Floid
Posts: 751
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8/21/2013 8:03:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Exactly how willfully biased must you be to take a couple verses out of context and ignore the fact that God's Laws for Israel concerning slavery were very strictly purposed to serve and ultimately redeem the poor from circumstances that in any other culture would have required lifelong servitude?

So slavery is ok as long as it serves God's purpose? I think that argument was used up through the 1860s... sorry if I don't find that convincing.

, it is obvious that God is not condoning slavery as we know it (in light of more recent history). Slavery in ancient Israel looked nothing at all like the more recent institutions of slavery in other civilizations:

Really? I am pretty sure the slaves in America were taken from other countries. You are right though, There are some slight differences.

Injuring or killing a slave carried severe consequences, with some offenses punishable by death.

Exodus 21:20-21 NAB
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.

The more contemporary slave master's were not punished if their slaves died instantly. God however was much more progressive than that, you can only beat your slaves almost to death... You convinced me, the Bible must bet he work of of a smart and loving god and not ancient, barbaric men.

"Slavery" (if you can call it that) under the Mosaic Law provided a person with food, shelter and other protections/benefits in exchange for labor.

So did European/American slave masters... I think you are missing the entire idea of why slavery is wrong which is incredibly sad.

Slavery (in most cases) would have been better than death--even in other civilizations.

So have you reduced justifying Biblical laws all the way down to saying "well that is better than death". That is setting the bar pretty low, especially for a book supposedly detailing the commandments of an omnipotent God. Living in North Korea would probably be better than death... that doesn't mean anything the North Korean government does is right.

Read the whole thing... You might actually understand God's purposes.

I noticed you didn't address the rape part at all. Before I bother reading more of the Bible (actually I was an active Christian for over 20 years and have read the whole thing) why don't you cover it too.

Let me guess, getting raped is better than death so it doesn't matter how twisted God's laws are there either.
leonardlewis4
Posts: 93
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8/22/2013 7:47:34 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/21/2013 8:03:30 PM, Floid wrote:
Exactly how willfully biased must you be to take a couple verses out of context and ignore the fact that God's Laws for Israel concerning slavery were very strictly purposed to serve and ultimately redeem the poor from circumstances that in any other culture would have required lifelong servitude?

So slavery is ok as long as it serves God's purpose? I think that argument was used up through the 1860s... sorry if I don't find that convincing.

, it is obvious that God is not condoning slavery as we know it (in light of more recent history). Slavery in ancient Israel looked nothing at all like the more recent institutions of slavery in other civilizations:

Really? I am pretty sure the slaves in America were taken from other countries. You are right though, There are some slight differences.

Injuring or killing a slave carried severe consequences, with some offenses punishable by death.

Exodus 21:20-21 NAB
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.

The more contemporary slave master's were not punished if their slaves died instantly. God however was much more progressive than that, you can only beat your slaves almost to death... You convinced me, the Bible must bet he work of of a smart and loving god and not ancient, barbaric men.

"Slavery" (if you can call it that) under the Mosaic Law provided a person with food, shelter and other protections/benefits in exchange for labor.

So did European/American slave masters... I think you are missing the entire idea of why slavery is wrong which is incredibly sad.

Slavery (in most cases) would have been better than death--even in other civilizations.

So have you reduced justifying Biblical laws all the way down to saying "well that is better than death". That is setting the bar pretty low, especially for a book supposedly detailing the commandments of an omnipotent God. Living in North Korea would probably be better than death... that doesn't mean anything the North Korean government does is right.


Read the whole thing... You might actually understand God's purposes.

I noticed you didn't address the rape part at all. Before I bother reading more of the Bible (actually I was an active Christian for over 20 years and have read the whole thing) why don't you cover it too.

Let me guess, getting raped is better than death so it doesn't matter how twisted God's laws are there either.

I didn't address the rape part because it is the same principle. There is an overarching theme of redemption throughout the Mosaic Law... What do you think would happen to a woman who was raped then, given the ancient middle-eastern culture? First, no one would have her... In other civilizations, she'd likely be destitute or forced into prostitution. The Mosaic Law was practical and required that the offender provide for the victim for the rest of her life. The most practical way to accomplish that in that culture was marriage.

You can point back to a culture about which you obviously know very little and armchair quarterback for God and Moses, but it requires a really arrogant stance to do so.

If you don't see the redemption themes, it is probably (in part), because you refuse to approach the text in an unbiased way (see original post) and refrain from taking a verse here or there out of context. The Law, taken as a whole, points forward to the redemptive work of Christ. Throughout the Law are types and shadows that point forward to Jesus Christ as the substance and fulfillment... Where the Law is purposefully insufficient (e.g. the Law never saved anyone), Christ is the consummate redeemer who reconciles all things to Himself. Of course, the unbeliever won't accept that; but then, ignoring that makes it almost impossible to see the purposes of God in the design and implementation of the Mosaic Law.
Floid
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8/22/2013 8:31:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
There is an overarching theme of redemption throughout the Mosaic Law... What do you think would happen to a woman who was raped then, given the ancient middle-eastern culture? First, no one would have her... In other civilizations, she'd likely be destitute or forced into prostitution.

That is the problem... nothing in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) rises above the action of ancient, barbaric people. So on one hand you claim the Bible is the work of an omnipotent God but on the other hand you restrict that God to not being able to elevate his people above their ancient, barbaric ways.

The logical explanation for this is there is no omnipotent God in the mix, it is just a book detailing the workings of an group of people some 3,000 years ago. But that point seems beyond you, instead you view it as some strange mix of God was dealt this crappy hand of having to try to improve the lives of these people so he made a few minor tweaks such as you can't beat your slaves to death or if a man rapes a woman he has to pay her father and marry her.

You can point back to a culture about which you obviously know very little and armchair quarterback for God and Moses, but it requires a really arrogant stance to do so.

If stating rape and slavery is wrong is arrogant then guilty as charged.

If you don't see the redemption themes, it is probably (in part), because you refuse to approach the text in an unbiased way (see original post) and refrain from taking a verse here or there out of context. The Law, taken as a whole, points forward to the redemptive work of Christ.

You are right, I am incapable of seeing how an omnipotent being can redeem itself from green lighting rape and slavery, ordering genocide, or killing children.

My favorite set of verses in the entire Bible:

2 Kings 2:23-25

23 Then he (Elisha) went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, "Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!" 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number.

The work of a divine being or the laws, accounts, and fantasies of a barbaric people?
dj21
Posts: 38
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8/22/2013 8:44:07 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/22/2013 7:47:34 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
... because you refuse to approach the text in an unbiased way (see original post)

leonard, do you believe anyone can ever view anything in an unbiased way? We have been pre-conditioned by innumerable environmental factors before we can ever speak. How much moreso by the time we contemplate matters like textual interpretation? Is a Christian - who has built their life around a value & belief system that is premised upon the Bible being God's word - better able to "objectively" view the Bible?
leonardlewis4
Posts: 93
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8/22/2013 9:44:34 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/22/2013 8:44:07 AM, dj21 wrote:
At 8/22/2013 7:47:34 AM, leonardlewis4 wrote:
... because you refuse to approach the text in an unbiased way (see original post)

leonard, do you believe anyone can ever view anything in an unbiased way? We have been pre-conditioned by innumerable environmental factors before we can ever speak. How much moreso by the time we contemplate matters like textual interpretation? Is a Christian - who has built their life around a value & belief system that is premised upon the Bible being God's word - better able to "objectively" view the Bible?

That's why I said "see original post"... I think I made it clear what I meant by unbiased. Obviously, there are always presuppositions by which we interpret information, but those don't necessarily rise to the level of bias.

The question is, are you (a) willing to approach a work (the Bible, or any other that makes truth claims) with a view to learn what it aims to communicate; or (b) have you already decided, in large part, what you believe it is "saying"?

If (b), then you'll likely interpret nearly everything by a wrong hermeneutic.

For example, if you have already decided that the aim of the Bible's record of the Old Covenant Mosaic Law is merely prescriptive, then you are bound to assume that Christians should either believe it and follow it, or that they are inconsistent if they don't. Even if you believe that it was merely prescriptive for ancient Israel, you are missing several things that the Bible communicates clearly:
- The purposes of the Law (hint: it isn't merely a theocratic form of civil government)
- The overarching themes within the Law (sanctifying, sacrificial, redemptive, light unto the nations, etc...)
- The specific types and shadows in the Law (pointing forward to Christ)
- etc...

However, if you are willing to take approach (a), there are several factors that come into play to provide a proper understanding:
- Historical context
- Literary context
- Questions of the author's content/meaning
- Hermeneutics (determining contemporary relevance)

Now, all of that may sound very complicated... But we can either consider those things and gain a greater understanding of the work in question, or we can proceed with willful ignorance and impose our own interpretive rules and meaning.

Personally, I don't know why anyone would want to waste time and mental effort with a work like the Bible if, in the end, they come away imposing their own rules of interpretation and meaning upon the text. Why not, rather, discover those things from the text itself? Certainly, we can use external compliments, but the text speaks for itself (for the most part) in this regard.

As I said in the beginning of my original post: The "clarity of Scripture" means that it can be understood--not necessarily that it is always easy to understand.