Posts tagged ‘inerrancy’
Every so often I am simply astonished by how theologically minded individuals can perform radical surgery on the Bible to cop out of adherence to moral depravities. What further amuses me is the blatantly ignorant “there are no Biblical contradictions” statement. Biblical depravity and contradiction always rears its head whenever criticism of the Old Testament is at hand. Defenders of Biblical integrity then argue that we cannot know God’s plan and so examples of child sacrifice and genocide may be brushed aside – sometimes God just needs to get his hands dirty to get the job done (and because those Egyptians and Hittites were going to sheol anyway). But do these sweeping apologetic brushes do for the law what they can do for their god’s character?
Any Biblical scholar, Christian or otherwise, knows that the Jewish religion is built on a strictly adhered to and enforced law of God, the Mitzvah: the 613 commands found in the Torah. This law is somewhat problematic for contemporary Biblical literalists for several reasons, the most obvious being that it just isn’t cool to put people to death for everything anymore…
In my last semester of my undergraduate studies, I took a seminar course on the early Christian church in Thessalonika. Much of the source material was, of course, Paul’s “first” letter to the Thessalonians – that is, the first letter that shows up in the Christian canon and that we have available to us. During my research for my term paper I came across some interesting statements regarding Paul, made by some very famous people in the last several centuries (there are several lists like this on the internet). It appears that Benjamin Franklin serendipitously anticipated this onslaught against Paul when he declared at Samuel Hemphill’s synod trial, “A virtuous heretic shall be saved before a wicked Christian.” Has modernity and postmodernity declared war on Paul? Are the attacks warranted? How do contemporary theologians defend such assaults?
St. Paul then, it seems, preach’d another and quite different Gospel from what was preach’d by Peter and the other Apostles. (Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher, 1737)
Yesterday, I wrote an article which offered a radically different interpretation of the Adam and Eve story. I do love the stories of Genesis. They are obviously of timeless quality and influence. I was raised to believe that these amazing, but bizarre stories are true – literally true – the Divine account of the universal and human origins. A recent poll done by USA Today shows that 66 percent of American adults are of the opinion that God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years.I now believe that the book of Genesis like much of the Old Testament, is mythology. Hermann Gϋnkel in his book Genesis long ago laid out the different types of mythology (or as he called them, legends) contained in Genesis, and how to interpret them as ancient myth that make sense to the modern reader. Gϋnkel emphasizes that myth in Genesis is not fiction, rather it is legend that “adopts and works over certain data which come from reflexion, tradition or observation”.
I want to write my thoughts on the legend of how the human language became confused – The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). As a Christian, I was taught that the scattering of the languages was a result of the pride and pretension of humanity…
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, From the Ghent altarpiece by Jan van Eyckand brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. – Genesis 2:18-20 (NKJV)
I have always loved the creation stories in the Bible. They were probably among the first things that I read in Scripture, since I remember them from early childhood, and also they are in the front of the book! Christians have interpreted Genesis 2 and 3, the famous story of the Garden of Eden, to be the Fall of Man and the origin of Sin.
Salvation, as preached from Christian Pulpits seems very simple to the faithful. Most Christians insist that there is but one Name by which we all must be saved. Pastors generally have it down pat – and it makes sense if you follow the logic of Christian Evangelists and not think too hard about it. The laity trusts the authority of the Church. But if we put away our Four Spiritual Laws pamphlets and Chick Tracts and see what the Bible actually says about Salvation, it gets hairy. It is no wonder theologians have struggled with these issues for centuries.
Here are a few passages that come off the top of my head. Mind you, there are plenty more:
- John 3:16 says if we believe in him (the only begotten Son) we will have eternal life. Simple enough.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved by God’s grace and not by works. Cool.
In my humble, non-scholarly opinion, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ either happened precisely as stated in the Gospels, or it is myth. I see no room for a historicized Jesus who was crucified for some crime, and who was later diefied. I think the Bible leaves us with only two hardline options.
I am not impressed with the supposed ‘Messianic Prophecies” of Scripture. The Gospel of Matthew in particular seems obsessed with citing Old Testament passages as foreshadows for the future life and ministry of Jesus Christ. However, most who have studied these passages will come to the conclusion that most are taken out of context, irrelevant, or even in a few cases, misquoted. Messianic Prophecy of the type that Matthew utilizes is extremely unimpressive to me. It is little more than prooftexting and cherry-picking of Scriptures by the Evangelist. As a matter of fact, the book that did grave damage to my Christian faith was Herbert Lockyer’s All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible. That evangelical book showed me beyond all doubt what a smokescreen ‘Messianic Prophecy’ really is.