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Authority of Scripture

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In this OP I wish to challenge an assumption.  In several threads I contended that much of the early chapters in Genesis were of mythic material and not to be taken as strict history—whether or not there was a massive flood in the remote past, a Christian is not obliged to assume that it was global, nor that a single vessel once carried two of every species (excluding fish) for nearly (or just over) a year.  To this contention I (and others) were met with the accusation that I have subjected Scripture to my own authority; the implication being that one can (and should) be wholly submitted to Scripture.  I have thought long about the accusation and have come to two conclusions:  yes, I do; and so do you.  I will take another controversial topic to make my point.

 

In Genesis 1 beasts are clearly created before man and woman on the sixth day.  But when we turn to chapter 2 it appears they (as well as birds) are created after man but before woman: that is, the Hebrew and the logical sequence of the narrative all suggest this—so much so that if all we had were chapter two, there would be no question as to the order in which beast, bird, and mankind were created.  Now, if one held Scripture as the sole authority for one’s beliefs, he would conclude that both were true.  I do not mean he would dismiss the two as contradictory accounts—I mean he would maintain that contradictions were completely reconcilable with his conviction that Scripture were inspired.  If such a person actually I exists, I have never met him; for one of the few philosophical maxims that remains today is the principle of non-contradiction—if the Bible is truly inerrant, then it must be free of contradiction: hence the several maneuvers made by pious Christians to reconcile the apparent discrepancy.  Some conclude that, despite the Hebrew and the narrative sequence, the beasts and birds mentioned in chapter 2 are referring to creatures already made.  Others, like myself, maintain that the two accounts are chiefly thematic, rather than historically chronological (obviously there is chronology involved: wherever there is a narrative there must be sequence.  But the point of Genesis 1 and two is not to give an historical account of creation).  Whichever is right (if either) is not the point of this OP.  The point is that both readers feel the need to reconcile the two chapters of Genesis with the principle of non-contradiction; but whence does this principle derive?  It cannot derive from Scripture.  Even if we found a Hebrew or Greek (or Aramaic) word corresponding to the English “contradiction” within a proposition condemning the concept, still this would merely be one more proposition at odds with certain other propositions.  The fact is that the principle is derived not from Scripture but from Reason. The shortest reflection on this discovery will show that very few Bible readers truly embrace Scripture as their sole or even highest authority.  Wherever there is a discrepancy in Scripture, it is reason which has exposed it; and wherever there is felt the need to resolve it, it is reason which issues this demand.  Wherever a solution is offered, it is reason which has discovered it.  Both the threatened principle, the need for a solution to the threat, and the solution itself all find their source in Reason, not Scripture.  But this is just another way of saying that Scripture is obligated to something other than reason.   If Scripture is truly inspired, it must meet certain criteria; criteria imposed upon it from without.

The practical result of this thesis is small but important.  The answer to such rhetorical outbursts as, “Who are you to determine which parts of Scripture are literal and which are not;” or “Who are you to question Scripture?!” is, “I am a thinking person, endowed by God with Reason.” But it would be better to drop these accusations altogether: for, as the old saying goes, wherever a finger is pointed at someone else, three are pointed at one’s self.  We are all demanding of Scripture certain characteristics to meet our own definition of “inspired”.  I do not require of it inerrancy; some do.  But the principle of non-contradiction is, to some degree, always operating.

 

clb

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I would think that it would depend on the scripture you were commenting on......    we have thousands of manuscripts of parts of the bible and these manuscripts do not all agree on some of the wording....   then there is the translation problem from Hebrew and Greek to English...

 

If  the Bible is the totally inerrant word of God, I would think that it would be the original manuscript which unfortunately we do not have....

 

I can tell you that there are no English Bibles that would fit that description simply from the different Greek words that are translated "love" in English.    The story of Jesus asking Peter if he loved him three times would be an example.    While it really doesn't pertain to anything critical in any salvation way,it is an example of the problems we can have if we put total faith in what something means in English.

 

Oh, and btw,  Jesus asked Peter a different question the third time.....   and that question would hurt any of us.   It was not that he had asked the question for a third time, it was the question he asked.

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Now, if one held Scripture as the sole authority for one’s beliefs, he would conclude that both were true.  I do not mean he would dismiss the two as contradictory accounts—I mean he would maintain that contradictions were completely reconcilable with his conviction that Scripture were inspired.  If such a person actually I exists, I have never met him; for one of the few philosophical maxims that remains today is the principle of non-contradiction—if the Bible is truly inerrant, then it must be free of contradiction: hence the several maneuvers made by pious Christians to reconcile the apparent discrepancy.

 

So is the Bible the sole authority for your beliefs, or do you have more than one authority upon which you base your faith?

 

Do you believe that the Bible has genuine contradictions that cannot be resolved?

 

I do not require of it inerrancy; some do.

 

 

Do you require inerrancy where your eternal salvation is concerned?   Is it okay with you if the Gospel is full of contradictions?

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Something that helps me to understand the bible is I look at it like a big puzzle with lots of pieces. The bible says all scripture is God breathed, so I try to fit all the pieces/scriptures together to form one picture. By doing this I have been able to find some teachings out there to be false because certian pieces dont fit. And the more I do this I find all the pieces do fit together. Basicly i use scripture to interpret scripture.

just wondering connor, are you saved? I saw on your profile you had requested a status change. I only mention this because I have seen several people say they didnt understand the bible before they were saved, and after they had been saved the scriptures came to life for them. Your current (at the time I wrote this) status is seeker and I am not exactly certian what that means.

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First of all, I believe the Bible is inerrant, and that the Genesis account of creation is a fact.  I also believe Noah's flood is exactly as recorded, and that it covered the entire earth.  There is no contradiction in Genesis with regard to God creating man.  In Genesis chapter one, it simply records the fact that God created man in his image.  This is interesting to me, because in a way, God did create Adam before Eve, but in another way, God created Adam and Eve at the same time.  In the mind of God, both Adam and Eve existed, just as in the mind of God, the prophet Jeremiah existed before he was created in the womb.  Eve is part of Adam.  She is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.  Before God placed Adam in a deep sleep, Eve was one of Adam's ribs.  In that sense, she already existed, and in the mind of God, she already existed.  I will also reveal to you another mystery.  The Bible says that when a man and woman get married, they become one flesh.  The carnal way to look at this is to say they become intimate and one that way, but spiritually, the rib that was taken from the man is restored, and he and the woman are one complete person.  Genesis chapter one is just speaking in general terms of the creation of mankind, and God mentions creating mankind male and female.  In Genesis chapter 2, we see the exact account of how the woman was formed, and the reason why she was formed.  There is no contradiction. 

 

The stories in Genesis are not mythology.  They are absolute facts, and I trust them above any science book when it comes to telling me about the creation and I trust it above any history book when it comes to the history of the world in it's infancy. 

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Something that helps me to understand the bible is I look at it like a big puzzle with lots of pieces. The bible says all scripture is God breathed, so I try to fit all the pieces/scriptures together to form one picture. By doing this I have been able to find some teachings out there to be false because certian pieces dont fit. And the more I do this I find all the pieces do fit together. Basicly i use scripture to interpret scripture.

just wondering connor, are you saved? I saw on your profile you had requested a status change. I only mention this because I have seen several people say they didnt understand the bible before they were saved, and after they had been saved the scriptures came to life for them. Your current (at the time I wrote this) status is seeker and I am not exactly certian what that means.

 

I am a believer.  When I joined this forum I do not recall being asked for my status; apparently the default was "non-believer".  At least that was how I was tagged.  I requested a status change but because of "questionable doctrine" I was "upgrated" to Seeker until "further notice".  I am fine with that.  We are all seeking, are we not?

 

clb

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I am a believer.  When I joined this forum I do not recall being asked for my status; apparently the default was "non-believer".  At least that was how I was tagged.  I requested a status change but because of "questionable doctrine" I was "upgrated" to Seeker until "further notice".  I am fine with that.  We are all seeking, are we not?

 

clb

 

 

The default status is that of a member. An admin has to change the status of a member to Non-Believer or Seeker. That is most often due to a post that points to the person's belief regarding Jesus Christ.

God bless,

GE

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Now, if one held Scripture as the sole authority for one’s beliefs, he would conclude that both were true.  I do not mean he would dismiss the two as contradictory accounts—I mean he would maintain that contradictions were completely reconcilable with his conviction that Scripture were inspired.  If such a person actually I exists, I have never met him; for one of the few philosophical maxims that remains today is the principle of non-contradiction—if the Bible is truly inerrant, then it must be free of contradiction: hence the several maneuvers made by pious Christians to reconcile the apparent discrepancy.

So is the Bible the sole authority for your beliefs, or do you have more than one authority upon which you base your faith?

 

I have already stated no, and equally, neither do you.  Reason is an authority. If it were not, you would never set out to resolve apparent contradictions.


Do you believe that the Bible has genuine contradictions that cannot be resolved?

UP to date, yes.  There are apparent contradictions in the Bible to which I have found no convincing solution.  If I should find solutions to them, I would be happy.  But it does not keep me up at night.

 

 

I do not require of it inerrancy; some do.


Do you require inerrancy where your eternal salvation is concerned?   Is it okay with you if the Gospel is full of contradictions?

 

Behind this question lies the enormous difference between you and me.  I treat the Bible as if it were any historical document; only then do I discover that it is much more than that; and only  from this approach do I let Scripture tell me how it is inspired.  You (seem to) start with your own definition of inspiration, i.e. inerrancy; therefore you are forced to embrace what appears to me to be the most implausible solutions to apparent contradictions.  My faith is not in inerrancy.  My faith is in Jesus.  My examination of Scripture has led me to believe that He was raised from the dead.  The obvious retort is, “how can you trust those documents?”  Same way I trust any historical document.  The Christian answer to the Jesus puzzle is the BEST explanation.  I have looked at alternative explanations and found them weak; what’s more, they all have naturalistic/materialistic assumptions underpinning them, which are philosophical, not historical, positions—a philosophy which my own reasoning has found bogus.

 

There is something even intellectually perverse in the fiercest advocates for inerrancy.  Again, someone asks me “why do you trust the Bible if you don’t believe in inerrancy?”  As if simply saying it is inerrant suddenly solves the whole problem!  Inerrancy simply means completely trustworthy—so inerrantists are basically saying that they “know the Bible is trustworthy because it is completely trustworthy”. Viciously circular.  To the man who claims the Bible is inerrant because he has examined every one of its discrepancies and found them resolvable, I can respect.  But very few meet that description ( I have met none).  Most begin with the assumption that it is inerrant, and then proceed to prove it's inerrant!  And of course the imagination of the fanatic is inexhaustible--characteristic of the fanatic is unquestioned belief in the teeth of overwhelming, reliable adverse evidence.  I am not a fanatic.
 
Put another way,I see the doctrine of inerrancy as merely a safeguard against doubt: (most) inerrantists hail the Bible as inerrant because they do not like the implications of it containing errors: like a man who claims a ladder is safe because he can’t stand the thought of falling.  I think for some people, this is condonable, perhaps even advisable. There are certain minds or temperaments that are simply not equipped to meet head-on difficult theological questions. Let them remain under the comforting illusion of inerrancy.  If a placebo counters the symptoms, then take the placebo.  But they should not criticize people who want real medicine, no matter how bitter it tastes.  I seek truth, at any cost.
 
clb
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First of all, I believe the Bible is inerrant, and that the Genesis account of creation is a fact.  I also believe Noah's flood is exactly as recorded, and that it covered the entire earth.  There is no contradiction in Genesis with regard to God creating man.  In Genesis chapter one, it simply records the fact that God created man in his image.  This is interesting to me, because in a way, God did create Adam before Eve, but in another way, God created Adam and Eve at the same time.  In the mind of God, both Adam and Eve existed, just as in the mind of God, the prophet Jeremiah existed before he was created in the womb.  Eve is part of Adam.  She is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.  Before God placed Adam in a deep sleep, Eve was one of Adam's ribs.  In that sense, she already existed, and in the mind of God, she already existed.  I will also reveal to you another mystery.  The Bible says that when a man and woman get married, they become one flesh.  The carnal way to look at this is to say they become intimate and one that way, but spiritually, the rib that was taken from the man is restored, and he and the woman are one complete person.  Genesis chapter one is just speaking in general terms of the creation of mankind, and God mentions creating mankind male and female.  In Genesis chapter 2, we see the exact account of how the woman was formed, and the reason why she was formed.  There is no contradiction. 

 

The stories in Genesis are not mythology.  They are absolute facts, and I trust them above any science book when it comes to telling me about the creation and I trust it above any history book when it comes to the history of the world in it's infancy. 

 

Do you believe the Bible is inerrant because you have examined it impartially and found it contained no errors; or did you begin with inerrancy?

 

An analogy.  Someone I respect hands me a book of mathematical equations and tells me it is the work of the greatest mathematician ever.  Do I first open the book and examine it for myself to see if that is true, or do I assume it is true, open it, and allow even what seems like errors to alter my entire understanding of math?

 

clb

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In this OP I wish to challenge an assumption.  In several threads I contended that much of the early chapters in Genesis were of mythic material and not to be taken as strict history—whether or not there was a massive flood in the remote past, a Christian is not obliged to assume that it was global, nor that a single vessel once carried two of every species (excluding fish) for nearly (or just over) a year.  To this contention I (and others) were met with the accusation that I have subjected Scripture to my own authority; the implication being that one can (and should) be wholly submitted to Scripture.  I have thought long about the accusation and have come to two conclusions:  yes, I do; and so do you.  I will take another controversial topic to make my point.

 

In Genesis 1 beasts are clearly created before man and woman on the sixth day.  But when we turn to chapter 2 it appears they (as well as birds) are created after man but before woman: that is, the Hebrew and the logical sequence of the narrative all suggest this—so much so that if all we had were chapter two, there would be no question as to the order in which beast, bird, and mankind were created.  Now, if one held Scripture as the sole authority for one’s beliefs, he would conclude that both were true.  I do not mean he would dismiss the two as contradictory accounts—I mean he would maintain that contradictions were completely reconcilable with his conviction that Scripture were inspired.  If such a person actually I exists, I have never met him; for one of the few philosophical maxims that remains today is the principle of non-contradiction—if the Bible is truly inerrant, then it must be free of contradiction: hence the several maneuvers made by pious Christians to reconcile the apparent discrepancy.  Some conclude that, despite the Hebrew and the narrative sequence, the beasts and birds mentioned in chapter 2 are referring to creatures already made.  Others, like myself, maintain that the two accounts are chiefly thematic, rather than historically chronological (obviously there is chronology involved: wherever there is a narrative there must be sequence.  But the point of Genesis 1 and two is not to give an historical account of creation).  Whichever is right (if either) is not the point of this OP.  The point is that both readers feel the need to reconcile the two chapters of Genesis with the principle of non-contradiction; but whence does this principle derive?  It cannot derive from Scripture.  Even if we found a Hebrew or Greek (or Aramaic) word corresponding to the English “contradiction” within a proposition condemning the concept, still this would merely be one more proposition at odds with certain other propositions.  The fact is that the principle is derived not from Scripture but from Reason. The shortest reflection on this discovery will show that very few Bible readers truly embrace Scripture as their sole or even highest authority.  Wherever there is a discrepancy in Scripture, it is reason which has exposed it; and wherever there is felt the need to resolve it, it is reason which issues this demand.  Wherever a solution is offered, it is reason which has discovered it.  Both the threatened principle, the need for a solution to the threat, and the solution itself all find their source in Reason, not Scripture.  But this is just another way of saying that Scripture is obligated to something other than reason.   If Scripture is truly inspired, it must meet certain criteria; criteria imposed upon it from without.

The practical result of this thesis is small but important.  The answer to such rhetorical outbursts as, “Who are you to determine which parts of Scripture are literal and which are not;” or “Who are you to question Scripture?!” is, “I am a thinking person, endowed by God with Reason.” But it would be better to drop these accusations altogether: for, as the old saying goes, wherever a finger is pointed at someone else, three are pointed at one’s self.  We are all demanding of Scripture certain characteristics to meet our own definition of “inspired”.  I do not require of it inerrancy; some do.  But the principle of non-contradiction is, to some degree, always operating.

 

clb

 

Are you speaking of Genesis 1:1–2:3, Genesis 2:4-22?

 

As I understand it among Christians there are 3 camps when it comes to the creation of the world:

A. YEC (Young Earth Creationists)

B. OEC (Old Earth Creationists)

C. Evolutionists

 

God bless,

GE

 

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