A little clarification


In my last post, I said something that might need a little clarification.

When I said that there were “inconsistencies that arise when taking the Bible as [the] only creed” I didn’t mean to imply that there are inconsistencies within the Bible. Instead, I was trying to say that the interpretations that we come up with are somewhat inconsistent. This is most apparent when it comes to determining which passages we take literally and which we decide are figurative or no longer applicable.

Let me know if further clarification is needed.

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  1. Jonathan Reinhardt
    December 19, 2008 at 4:50 pm — Reply

    I think it’s clear what you mean, and it’s clear that you’re right.

    Reading like the author of the different biblical books intended their writing to be read is an acquired skill that takes study, intelligence, and careful thinking. It’s not always obvious. And there are some parts of the Bible that cannot be taken literally or historically — like Revelation (written like all other allegories of the time), Ruth (written as a short story), and parts of Genesis (written like all other creation myths from the area). That doesn’t mean they aren’t true. It just means they need to be understood as part of the genre they are meant to be. And we haven’t been very good at explaining how we make those choices and what our reasons for them are.

    It’s also clear that when people read the Bible like the CofC does, they are using quite a few theological concepts that are extrabiblical, just without acknowledging that this is what they’re doing. For instance, we interpret Paul as “obvious” on issues like sin, when really we’re reading according to the commentary Augustine wrote, which has by now become so ingrained in Christian thinking that it seems obvious. We read Paul and John and Hebrews as “obvious” on issues like salvation, when really what we’re using is the language developed by medieval thinkers like Anselm and Abelard.

    So when we say we use the Bible as our only creed, that’s a great principle to have. We just need to be more open (with ourselves and others) about how we interpret the Bible to tell us what that creed is. I think a lot of our internal troubles come from our lack of willingness to say out loud what we all know — that one of our core principles doesn’t pan out: The idea that you can give anyone a Bible who can read, and each person, if they’re honest and unbiased and reasonable, will come up with the same interpretation of what the Bible says and means. In real life, each person comes up with a different opinion.

    What we need to talk about more than anything, then, is how we understand the Holy Spirit. After all, our unrealistic core principle relies on the idea that the Holy Spirit won’t let anybody who is earnest and studious and prayerful misread God’s Word — or even read it with a slightly, equally valid interpretation, as traditionally we hold that there is only ONE valid interpretation. And one reason the denomination is struggling, as Todd said, is because the questions that little tidbit raises scares people so much that they’d rather not talk about it and hope it’ll go away instead. And pounce on anyone who might bring it up.

  2. December 23, 2008 at 12:26 am — Reply

    Define inconsistencies in the Bible.

    First I suppose we should deal with all of the inconsistencies with our own nations history. If we can get those figured out then maybe that would be a start.

    I guess if George Washington didn’t really cut down a cherry tree then everything else about him is bunk, not true and never happened. The dollar bill is in need of redesign.

    Who really was the first president………

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A little clarification