September 22, 2019

N.T. Wright on The Authority of the Bible

The Little Stream. Van Gogh

N.T. Wright on The Authority of the Bible

Most heirs of the Reformation, not least evangelicals, take if for granted that we are to give scripture the primary place and that everything else has to be lined up in relation to scripture.  There is, indeed, an evangelical assumption, common in some circles, that evangelicals do not have any tradition.  We simply open the scripture, read what it says, and take it as applying to ourselves: there the matter ends, and we do not have any ‘tradition’.

This is rather like the frequent Anglican assumption (being an Anglican myself I rather cherish this) that Anglicans have no doctrine peculiar to themselves: it is merely that if something is true the Church of England believes it.  This, though not itself a refutation of the claim not to have any ‘tradition’, is for the moment sufficient indication of the inherent unlikeliness of the claim’s truth, and I am confident that most people, facing the question explicitly, will not wish that the claim be pressed.  But I still find two things to be the case, both of which give me some cause for concern.

First, there is an implied, and quite unwarranted, positivism: we imagine that we are ‘reading the text, straight’, and that if somebody disagrees with us it must be because they, unlike we ourselves, are secretly using ‘presuppositions’ of this or that sort.  This is simply naïve, and actually astonishingly arrogant and dangerous.

It fuels the second point, which is that evangelicals often use the phrase ‘authority of scripture’ when they mean the authority of evangelical, or Protestant, theology, since the assumption is made that we (evangelicals, or Protestants) are the ones who know and believe what the Bible is saying.  And, though there is more than a grain of truth in such claims, they are by no means the whole truth, and to imagine that they are is to move from theology to ideology.  If we are not careful, the phrase ‘authority of scripture’ can, by such routes, come to mean simply ‘the authority of evangelical tradition, as opposed to Catholic or rationalist ones.’

Comments

  1. “No one just follows the Bible. We interpret it as people with a past and present, and in community with others, within certain traditions, none of which is absolute. Many factors influence how we follow the Bible. None of us rises above our place in the human drama and grasps God with pure clarity, without our own baggage coming along for the ride. We all bring our broken and limited selves into how we think of God.”

    Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      the Wahabi (and their offshoots al-Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS) are VERY Certain of their Sola Scriptura.

      (To which the Christianese counter-argument is “The Koran is a FALSE SCRIPTURE! We Have God’s REAL SCRIPTURE!!!!! Which is exactly what Islam also claims about theirs.)

  2. I think it does very often imply the authority of evangelical tradition. I’ve yet to really see Sola Scriptura work, & why would it, when you consider how the Bible was put together?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > & why would it, when you consider how the Bible was put together?

      And what about ALL the things Scripture says absolutely nothing what-so-ever about?

      My beef with the belligerence pf the Sola Scriptura types is that they aren’t trying to solve real problems. If the Scriptures doesn’t address a thing they quietly put it in the not-a-real-problem column. This may be why they suffer from the Pelvic Obsession, they don’t have anything else, their world is the tiny one of Scripture alone.

      We have a Sola Scriptura running for mayor, and that is actually his platform; the answer is “Jesus”. What does Scripture say about addressing decades of discrimination against the non-white south west of the city? Tensions between communities and the police? What does Scripture say about aging infrastructure and legacy issues like lead pipes? What does Scripture say about Land Use and Transportation policies? Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! This is the – actual living breathing – logical maximum of Sola Scripture. It is a convenient form of cowardice.

      The world is old, and things are complicated, solutions are costly, and we’ve got to figure it out. Sola Everythinga, we need all the help we can get. Actual people have actual struggles.

      • thatotherjean says

        Very much this. The world and its problems are very different from the world and the problems of 2,000+ years ago. There are, of course, echoes of its previous problems, because people are still people; but the tools to find solutions, and the solutions themselves, are likely to be very different.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Three possible responses to such a situation:
          1) Adapt to the new conditions.
          2) Die out, unable to adapt.
          3) FORCE the conditions back to the old conditions.

          The Talibani Solution (aka (3) on steroids) is to FORCE the world (and society)back to the way it was 2000+ years ago. By Any Means Necessary. God Wills It!

          While Christians are (normally) not so extreme, the Solution 3 is still going to be there, beckoning.

      • I completely agree. It’s surely clear that the Biblical text only speaks to certain things, it is not a medical textbook, it is not a how-to-of-farming.

        So many times when I see someone spouting off about a ‘Biblical view of x’ it is obvious they are importing a ton of extra-Biblical information & material that is found nowhere in the text, but is somehow held up as ‘the Christian way’. It’s one of my huge issues with things like Nouthetic Counselling where they pretend the Bible is a psychological textbook, but it’s really not.
        The second problem here is that many of the current Sola Scriptura proponents have a view of the Fall in that it has changed everything, so you can’t learn from nature because it’s too damaged, so the only source left is ‘the Spirit’ which leaves us relying on some weird untestable gnosticism for information we need for life.

        Once you step outside of that into a Prima Scriptura position, where other sources of information are in play for other areas of life, then it starts to look more like real life. Neurosurgery & engineering & economics & all sorts of other complex things become possible.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The second problem here is that many of the current Sola Scriptura proponents have a view of the Fall in that it has changed everything

          i.e. The instant Adam & Ever took a bite, the entire Cosmos changed from the Quantum level up, FOREVER.

          iSchrodinger’s Cat on a Cosmic Scale.

          • Yeah, & the problem with that is that they can claim in the unfallen world that black was white & love was hate etc & you’d have no key by which to show they were wrong. Maybe it’s why the evangelical version of things – as evinced by Christianese – is so different from the human version of these things.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              At which point, any attempt to go into detail turns into handwaving speculation. Which can mean anything.

              “Yes, God CAN change a tree into a cow; but has He ever done so? Bring evidence that He did, or all this is idle speculation.”
              — some Medieval theologian who apparently reached his breaking point

  3. The immediate counter-argument is that unlike all those misled qiasi-heretics, WE have the Holy Spirit guiding our reading.

    The necessary counter-counter-argument is, “So you alone, out of all Christendom, have been given the Spirit’s true guidance?” Then back that up with a demand for proof.

  4. Robert F says

    Although the gathered canon of the New Testament came at a later period, all the texts that make it up come from an extremely early, well-attested, close to the apostolic witness strata of the earliest tradition; there is arguably no strata of tradition older or closer to the origins of Christianity that we know of than that from which the various texts of the New Testament derive, with the possible exception of Q, which, if it existed, we do not have in written or oral form, but only as a reconstruction based on modern scholarly thinkng, which necessarily must remain speculative. From a Christian perspective, there is no reason not to use this primary resource of the earliest strata of tradition, the New Testament, in making later developing traditions accountable to the apostolic witness. Insofar as Protestantism and the Reformation made that a possibility and practice, they were and remain valuable developments in the history of the Church and Christianity, despite their excesses and mistakes; after all, it’s not as if Protestants were or are the only ones who made and make big mistakes with regard to the place and authority of traditions, and the way Scripture is read through traditions.

    • Christiane says

      how wonderful for us that we live in an age where the sacred Scriptures are ‘mass-produced’ and openly sold to literate people;
      but such was not the case 2000 years ago, or even a 1000 years ago . . . illiteracy, except among clerics and some royalty was the norm and even the ‘English’ language of our day lay far into the future, and if there was an entire copy of the sacred Scriptures in the cathedral, it would have been ‘chained’ to the wall to keep it safe from theft

      Context? a time, a place, conditions, the language . . . . the difficulties of receiving and passing on intact the sacred Scriptures . . . . even in our own Western civiliztion, these difficulties might have overwhelmed . ..

      But efforts persisted. Even in the dark times in strange formerly pagan places, efforts persisted:

      https://vimeo.com/9051453

      • Robert F says

        I’m not sure how your comment is a reply to mine, Christiane. Could you expand?

        • Christiane says

          Hello Robert,

          I was thinking about your words “From a Christian perspective, there is no reason not to use this primary resource of the earliest strata of tradition, the New Testament, in making later developing traditions accountable to the apostolic witness.” ,
          when I wrote:
          ” the difficulties of receiving and passing on intact the sacred Scriptures . . . . even in our own Western civilization, these difficulties might have overwhelmed . ..”

          I do believe that the earliest Christian people had an oral (spoken) tradition of ‘the Word’ which in time was written down when Lord Christ did not return immediately as they had thought He would. But there is this history of how the Scriptures got into our hands that is remarkable indeed.

          I love the history of the Church in the British Isles, especially during the time of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the Danelaw . . . and I love the history of how sacred Scripture was preserved and passed down.

          If you trace the history of sacred Scripture in Britain from the King James Bible back into previous centuries, you will come to Tyndale, Wyclif, and before them, Alcuin.
          And before Alcuin, to Ceolfrith and to the ‘Lindisfarne Gospels’ which were copied and illuminated beautifully (in the tradition of the Book of Kells) in the ‘scriptorium’ room at Lindisfarne Abbey (founded by Aiden).
          The tradition of the ‘scriptoriums’ (rooms where Scripture was copied by hand) goes back even further to the time of the Septuagint scholars who were set to work on the island in the harbor of Alexandria and produced a Greek translation of the Old Testament, through Saint Jerome and his Vulgate tradition, through Cassiodorus and his reworking of Jerome’s Vulgate of the old Latin texts.

          The Lindisfarne Gospels represent the ancient tradition of ‘receiving what was handed down and preserving it to pass on intact’, and in the scriptorium on Lindisfarne, the hand-written sacred texts were copied with great care according to that tradition.
          The printing-press would not be invented for another eight centuries into the future, so these monastic scriptoriums were an important connection for the sacred writings to be preserved and passed on.

          It’s good to know something of the history of how sacred Scripture ended up in our hands . . . there was a long line of people who cared greatly that this should happen, and they too were members of the Body of Christ and a part of the heritage of all Christian people.

          BTW, the first Viking raid in the 900’s was an attack on Lindisfarne, where the monastery was plundered and where many were slaughtered. That also, is a famous part of British history and soon the Vikings made colonies in Britain and for a time a portion of Britain was ruled by them during the ‘Danelaw’. They were converted to Christianity . . . so their forbears came to rob and kill, and instead their descendents found a ‘pearl of great price’, the holy faith of Our Lord.
          Not a bad thing to know about, I think.

          P.S. The ancient Anglo-Saxon Chronicles tell of that first Viking raid on ‘Holy Island’ ( Lindisfarne ).

          Robert, asking me to ‘expand’ is not always convenient, LOL, I tend to write volumes at times which weighs down a discussion rather than puts light on it. 🙂

  5. He goes on to say:

    “There is a time to grow up in reading the Bible as in everything else. There is a time to take the doctrine of inspiration seriously. And my contention here is that evangelicalism has usually done no better than those it sometimes attacks in taking inspiration seriously. Methodologically, evangelical handling of scripture has fallen into the same traps as most other movements, even if we have found ways of appearing to extricate ourselves…The problem with all such solutions as to how to use the Bible is that they belittle the Bible and exalt something else. Basically they imply—and this is what I mean when I say that they offer too low a view of scripture—that God has, after all, given us the wrong sort of book and it is our job to turn it into the right sort of book by engaging in these hermeneutical moves, translation procedures or whatever.”

  6. senecagriggs says

    ” The world and its problems are very different from the world and the problems of 2,000+ years ago”

    ___________

    And here is where I disagree. Pride, jealousy, ego, love, hate, family, work, worship, taxes, conscription, relationships – nothing has changed in the last 6,000 years.

    The Scripture speaks to ALL of these things.

    “There is nothing new under the sun.”

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      If the Bible has an answer to everything, can it recommend a good plumber?
      In all seriousness, the Bible answers the things it answers, and steers the reader in ways the reader may not eben understand, but if it had a plain, obvious and consistent answer to every important question which could be easily discerned by anyone reading it, people wouldn’t still be asking the same questions 2000 years later.
      https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/mh059/so_this_is_where_we_finally_got_the_bible_right/

    • Riiiiiight. Since day 1, mankind has always been forced to struggle with issues such as nuclear proliferation…(one of infinite examples)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > And here is where I disagree. Pride, jealousy, ego, love, hate, family, work,
      > worship, taxes, conscription, relationships – nothing has changed in the last 6,000 years

      Rhetorical cop out. Your response is standard deflection.

      Those are not “problems”. They are “vices”.

    • I’m afraid that just about all of those have changed, and many in the last 200 years, much less 6000 years. Family relationships, just to name one, have changed dramatically since Roman times (even among those who hold to a ‘biblical family’ model [they really don’t]). Did your parents decide who you would marry? They did in biblical times, and that is part of the ‘biblical family’ model.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        For instance, up until around 100 years ago, the gender color code in the USA was Pink = Boy, Blue = Girl. No Exceptions.

    • David Cornwell says

      OK, let’s just start with one of your words: “family.” Now explain it to me on the basis of scripture alone. Start with the Old Testament, please. Give me family advice. I’ll pass it on to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Explain it all from birth until college graduation at least. Don’t use disconnected verses strung together topically in some kind of “chain.” It must be coherent, culturally relevant, and free of jargon. Don’t start with some book (James Dobson ex).

      • David Cornwell says

        Sorry Greg, I didn’t see your comment before I wrote mine. But we both want the same answer from senecagriggs says.

        Waiting patiently.

      • David Cornwell says

        Also Mr Griggs: Please explain to me the proper place of women in a family and in a church. Maybe you know more than I do.

  7. john barry says

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDtabTufxao

    or Violinist on the Cupola as we say in the west.

    Love the movie, love the story. Traditions are made by who? What happened to the match maker?

    How many young people are going to stand when they hear Handel’s Messiah. Now I would stand if I could see Handel’s Messiah.

    If only I were a rich man.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Love the movie, love the story.

      Same.

      > Traditions are made by who?

      The survivors! 🙂

      > What happened to the match maker?

      She became a mobile phone app.

  8. Adam Tauno Williams says

    There is a good tradition, also anti-tradition, in the Talmudic tradition.
    In that tradition Scripture gets to wander all over board.

  9. senecagriggs says

    The human condition; unchanged since the fall.

    • We get it – you have no intentions of doing anything but repeating the same bald assertions you’ve always made, and simply ignoring all the counterpoints we raise. Aren’t you bored of all this yet?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1

      • senecagriggs says

        So many “counterpoints” are simply frivolous Eeyore.
        _________

        Frankly so much of the comments on I-Monk seem to be about debunking Scripture Eeyore.

        I-Monk is more friendly to atheists than it is to Scripture. Kind a strange.

        ___________________

        My comments represent Evangelical beliefs. Your represent progressive religion. There is a significant difference.

        • Actually Seneca, most of us do take Scripture seriously (which is what the quote by NT Wright is about). I spent many years (too many) and a lot of money (way too much money) studying it because the Sunday School answers we usually hear from you simply don’t do justice to the Bible. As I said in a discussion with my daughter’s pastor once, i did not come to the conclusions i hold because I don’t take the Bible seriously; I came to those conclusions because I do. It is those who are satisfied with simplistic answers to complex questions that don’t take the Bible seriously.

          Apparently all the counterpoints are frivolous since i don’t believe I’ve seen you answer any with any credible arguments. Ever.

        • Seneca, you must know by now that that isn’t true – it’s not at all about ‘debunking Scripture’, but debunking the over-confident evangelical interpretation of Scripture, which is not the same thing as the Scripture.

          Here’s a good chunk from the passage above which says the same thing:’ First, there is an implied, and quite unwarranted, positivism: we imagine that we are ‘reading the text, straight’, and that if somebody disagrees with us it must be because they, unlike we ourselves, are secretly using ‘presuppositions’ of this or that sort. This is simply naïve, and actually astonishingly arrogant and dangerous.

          It fuels the second point, which is that evangelicals often use the phrase ‘authority of scripture’ when they mean the authority of evangelical, or Protestant, theology, since the assumption is made that we (evangelicals, or Protestants) are the ones who know and believe what the Bible is saying.’

          Do you really not get it?

          And of course iMonk is kind to atheists, but to say the robust discussion of Scriptural authority & interpretation is unfriendly to Scripture itself isn’t true. And I must say I am amazed that you’ve only just read the whole Bible through, seriously? I’d read the whole thing through 4 times at least by the age of 30, & the NT many many more times. Maybe those who’ve read it more are less able to see it as some kind of straightforward textbook.

        • David Cornwell says

          senecagriggs says “I-Monk is more friendly to atheists than it is to Scripture. Kinda strange.”

          I think you are confused. I-Monk is more friendly to atheists than it is to those who consider themselves to have all the answers and a perfect interpretation of scripture. Many atheists have a more coherent argument than you. Some have actually chosen to be atheists because of the likes of evangelicals like you. I have an atheist friend who is far easier to talk with; a kind and gentle man who tried to be a Christian, but in the end, turned away. Yet he probably comes closer to following the Sermon on the Mount than most evangelicals these days. I don’t agree with him, but he doesn’t push his way of thinking on me.

        • “My comments represent Evangelical beliefs. Your represent progressive religion. There is a significant difference.”

          That there is. But perhaps the greatest difference is your consistent close-mindedness, your lack of any curiosity as to why many of us are no longer evangelicals, and your lack of empathy for… well, just about anybody but you. You say you think atheists are more welcome than Scripture? Well, read Scripture and take a hard look at Jesus’ attitude towards those His culture considered “sinners” versus His attitude towards the twisted interpretations the Pharisees had of Scripture. The answer is right there, if you have eyes to see.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Sometimes all you can cling to is that Rabbi from Nazareth snubbed the Righteous God Squadders to hang out with freaks and losers like you & me.

    • Christiane says

      Hello Senecagriggs,

      I do disagree with what you said, this:

      “The human condition; unchanged since the fall.”

      I’d say our humanity has become very much changed by the Incarnation of Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran martyr, explains it here:

      “Bonhoeffer on the Incarnation:
      “” We now know that we have been taken up and borne in the humanity of Jesus, and therefore that new nature we now enjoy means that we too must bear the sins and sorrows of others.

      THE INCARNATE LORD MAKES HIS FOLLOWERS THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF ALL HUMANITY.

      The “philanthropy” of God (Titus 3:4) revealed in the Incarnation is the ground of Christian love toward all on earth that bear the name of human.

      The form of Christ incarnate makes the Church into the Body of Christ. All the sorrows of humanity falls upon that form, and only through that form can they be borne.

      The earthly form of Christ is the form that died on the cross. The image of God is the image of Christ crucified. It is to this image that the life of the disciples must be conformed: in other words, they must be conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:4).
      The Christian life is a life of crucifixion.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

  10. senecagriggs says

    BTW, the Old Testament actually dealt with human waste { plumbers] issues. It’s an amazing book.

    I’m betting when Dad got out the cart to head down town, one of the kids yelled “shotgun.”

    • Wow, can you point me at the verse that tells me how to fix my leaky kitchen tap?

      • senecagriggs says

        Indeed Christiane

        In the last couple of years, our church has had 3 different times in which ALL we did was read Scripture – for about an hour straight, 3 5 minute breaks.

        I’m certainly not against liturgy – generally it is indeed Scripture.

    • What does the OT say about the proper percentage blend of cotton and polyester? Asking for a friend.

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound as sarcastic as my post actually came across, but the point still stands.

      I found the book The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith very helpful on all this. He eventually became a Catholic due to the realisation that everyone has a tradition they refer to outside of the text, whether they recognise it or not.

  11. Burro (Mule) says

    In other newsthis year to get us to , for almost 12 years after becoming Orthodox, I almost never ventured into the Old Testament. Only during Great Lent and durings one of the more major feasts are there any readings from the Old Testament. Add to that, my Old Testament grew about 15% so it was no longer true for me to say that I had read the “whole Bible”.

    It’s kind of a shame, but a preoccupation with knowing the contents of the more obscure portions of Scripture, along with using the Scripturs to ‘prove a point’ are kind of looked down in among the Orthodox. Familiarity with the Scruiptures is seen as something Protestant “fanatics” and “Bible pounders” are known for, not repsectable Orthodox.

    This year, for some reason, the Orthodox have discovered the Bible, and our parish has a program designed to have us read the Bible through. Since our Ecclesiastical year ends in September, I’m starting a little late, but I guess I can catch up next year. It’s good that someone is finally encouraging me to read the books of the Maccabees, Judith, and Sirach.

    For the longest time, I ought into the old Protestant lie that the Catholics (and by extension, the Orthodox) didn’t have an encyclopaedic familiarity of the Scriptures becasue they weren’t Really Born Again, didn’t Have The Spirit of Christ, or worse, that they were Forbidden to read The Scriptures by their venal clergy because the Bible so CLEARLY teaches Protestantism from beginning to end, and they wanted to keep the sheep in the fold so they could continue to fleece them.

    I’m not familiar with Latin Catholicism, but if you are a devout Eastern Christian, you will know enough about the contents of the Scriptures from the cycle of services to be as good a Christian as you need to be. It is hard for me to see what kind of benefit would accrue from reading the Scriptures in a serial fashion, but I guess I’m going to find out.

    • senecagriggs says

      Should be interesting; last year for the first time in my life I read thru the Scriptures. Daily you read some O.T. Scriptures, some Psalms/Proverbs and some N.T.

    • “This year, for some reason, the Orthodox have discovered the Bible…”

      Best line of the year so far.

      But be careful. Most atheists I know began their slide into perdition by…you guessed it…reading the Bible.

      ps I can see why Church groups do it this way but I must say reading the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation is absolutely the worst way to do it.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        I can see the benefit. In the Protestant canon, you read the historical books first, which give you the sweep of Hebrew history; then the poetry, and afterwards, the prophets, which if you knew nothing about the history would be kind of confusing.

        The Ortho canon is different, even from the Roman. We go through the histories to Chronicles, then the Prophets starting with Jonah (?), and finally, the Wisdom books, of which Daniel is one.

  12. John ( Bull ) Barry says

    Burro/Mule, The Bible is a story of love giving us the Gospel, Jesus. To read , study and try to understand the Bible on a personal level to me seems ok but that is my heritage. A lot of people here quote Tolkien,, C.S. Lewis , Chesterton and others, would it not be better for me to have and read the books myself and then I could put a value judgement on what is said about the books.
    Who ever controls the medium controls the message. We all know before the printing press and coming out of the dark ages only the learned , nobles and clergy were literate . No doubt that reading and studying the Bible in the Catholic faith is not the cornerstone it is in the Protestant churches. The Bible is where we learn about Jesus, is it not?

    • “would it not be better for me to have and read the books myself and then I could put a value judgement on what is said about the books”

      By all means, read them yourself – but recognize that you are reading books that were written thousands of years ago, in different languages, in different geographic and cultural contexts, and that what you *are* reading has already been pre-interpreted to a certain extent by whoever translated them into English.

      • john/Bull Barry says

        Eeyore, absolutely your statement is true about the Bible and every ;piece of ancient text that we have translated, preserved and passed down. So the same would apply to any form of communication passed down though the ages, traditions, rituals , celebrations and story telling. However , I do think there is great benefit in self study, reading and following the teaching of any faith you follow. Of course with so many translations of the Bible the accuracy is only as good as the scholar and his intent.

        So many here experts on Tolkien how close are all the movies to the heart of the books. Again who controls the media has great power. However as with the Rosetta Stone, there can some degree of satisfaction that the heart of the Bible is as it was intended. That is why I go with the King James version, but the one he wrote in Cleveland not the LA translation.

    • Christiane says

      J.B.
      Catholics ‘pray’ the Scriptures. Look at our liturgy. It’s filled with Scripture. Is possible that Catholics hear far more of the Bible at Church than some denominations where ‘liturgy’ is replaced by lengthy ‘sermons’. We hear it in the context of the ‘Church Year’, which follows the life of Christ. All related OT verses connected to Christ are included in the liturgy according to what celebration or observance is going on. So we get the ‘connection’ of Christ to both Testaments in our ‘way of praying’, our ‘service of the Word’.
      And then, for the part of the liturgy that surrounds the Eucharist, look at the words spoken by the priest and by the congregation . . . it’s right out of Scripture.

  13. senecagriggs says

    If you want to understand humanity; read Scripture. It really is ALL THERE in detail. If you wish to be freed from your sinfulness and hopelessness, read Scripture.

    • Which parts? I would certainly NOT recommend that someone struggling with depression and hopelessness read Ecclesiastes…

  14. senecagriggs says

    David Cornwell says
    June 24, 2019 at 1:17 pm
    OK, let’s just start with one of your words: “family.” Now explain it to me on the basis of scripture alone. Start with the Old Testament, please. Give me family advice. I’ll pass it on to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Explain it all from birth until college graduation at least. Don’t use disconnected verses strung together topically in some kind of “chain.” It must be coherent, culturally relevant, and free of jargon. Don’t start with some book (James Dobson ex).
    ____________

    That’s the frivolous part. Comments are by their nature – brief.
    ___________-

    Family Advice; be the best Godly Dad you can be – with the Lord’s help. Not only will you immediate family benefit, the family members yet to be born will benefit.

    5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

    9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
    __________

    • So those decrees to which you refer include prohibitions on eating certain foods, mixing fabrics in clothing, planting more than one kind of crop in your garden, and instructions for those who sell their daughters as slaves (Ex 21). If you wear cotton/polyester shirts you have broken God’s law and may incur the curses of Duet.28. If you eat shrimp you are in trouble – can’t go to church. Have you EVER sinned intentionally? According to Num 15:30-31 there is no forgiveness – he shall be cut off from his people, his iniquity shall be upon him. It IS all that simple isn’t it? The Bible says it so that settles it?

      • senecagriggs says

        Dear Greg,

        Moral Laws

        Civil Laws

        Ceremonial Laws. – fitting to a theocracy

        ___________

        The Moral Law remains

        • That is interesting. Jesus said that not one iota of the Law would pass away until all is fulfilled. He didn’t say not one iota of the moral portion of the Law. James says that if you break any commandment of the Law you are guilty of breaking all. And no Jew, of whom we have any ancient writing (including Paul), ever perceived the Law as anything but a unity. Breaking the Law (no pun intended) into binding and non-binding parts was a Christian innovation with absolutely no support from the Bible. To a Jew (to this day) breaking any part is breaking the Law.

          The bottom line on the OT Law is that it is the document that regulated the covenant God made with national Israel (cf. Ex. 19), and there are many parallels to other ancient near eastern treaties (suzerainty treaties). The very verses you quote from Deut. 4 make clear this is a covenant with national Israel (cf. 4:13). The reason Christians (and Gentiles in general) are not under the Law (any of it), and never were, is that we were never a party to the covenant God made with national Israel (the Mosaic/Deuteronomic covenant). As Christians we are under a different covenant (the New Covenant) and a different law – the Law of Christ. That is why we can eat pork chops and such – Gentiles always could! The Law never applied to Gentiles (or Christians), and they will not be judged by it. As Paul says in Rom. 3:19, the Law ‘speaks’ to those under it (literally ‘in’ it), not everyone.

          So the decrees and laws you point to in your quote never applied to anyone but national Israel, and certainly not Christians. We do have teaching in the New Testament that applies to Christians, and there are moral principles in the Old Testament that we can learn from, and some of which reveal the will of God for Christians. And certainly wisdom is to be found in the Old Testament, but it is often wisdom specific to ancient life and culture with little application today.

          And your family advice: ‘be the best Godly Dad you can be’ is hardly biblical guidance on family life. What exactly does that mean? Where exactly does the Bible tell us how to do that? Is it in Proverbs, where we can easily find conflicting instructions? Where is the ‘parenting’ chapter of the instruction manual?

          • senecagriggs says

            You’re swinging the bat but missing the ball.

            • Which says nothing about what you are objecting to, let alone why.

            • You probably need to do some reading in current mainstream evangelical New Testament theology. You’ll find that is where many evangelical NT scholars are these days.

        • Ah, that (in)famous trifecta – the “moral”, “civil”, and “ceremonial” laws. You must realize that nobody, NOBODY in Scripture treated them as such. It’s always all treated as a single, unified whole. An ancient Jew would never have categorized any individual law by those standards – EVERY law was moral, civil, and ceremonial as far as they were concerned. And the NT, from Jesus to Hebrews (especially Hebrews!) says that the Law – the ENTIRE OT Law – *no longer applies to any of us*. It has been fulfilled in Christ, and is passing away.

  15. senecagriggs says

    I quite willing to discuss ONE THING, I-monkers, so pick wisely. None of this, “but what about…..?”

    You’re going to pick one and one only. Not two, not three, not multiples – one thing

    Pick one thing.
    ___________

    It’s not that you’ll be convinced, and I certainly will not abandon Scripture as the source of all knowledge about God and His plan for fallen humanity.

    BUT, the Evangelical spine is REMARKABLY Logical. It’s amazing actually

    • The evangelical spine so rigidly logical that it cracks rather than bends under any significant weight it’s asked to carry.

    • Be careful – ‘logical’ is an idea firmly established by modernism, and you have told us you are not a modernist! 🙂

    • We’re not asking you to abandon Scripture. We’re asking you to abandon the notion that you already know exactly what it means. The fact that you apparently can’t (or won’t) tell the difference between those two things is the real problem.

  16. Christiane says

    from the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 11

    ” 25 At that time Jesus declared,
    “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
    because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned,
    and revealed them to little children
    . 26 Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight”