November 19, 2018

Another Look: How the Bible “Works” Today

Simchat Torah, Atzeret

Another Look: How the Bible “Works” Today
From 2013

Today I’d like to discuss how I think Scripture “works” in our lives today — we who live so far removed from the events it records and who live in a vastly different time and culture.

First of all, we must be willing to recognize that anyone who begins to take Scripture seriously is immediately immersed in historical questions and questions about the nature of the Bible itself.

In the churches and groups where I’ve been (primarily evangelical/fundamentalist), I don’t think this has been appreciated. Very little thought was ever given to how we came to have the Bible, how and when it was composed and edited, who the audiences were that first received the sacred writings, and how the various parts of the Bible carry on conversations with each other, reflecting diversity and development in the biblical message.

My experiences have led me to lament the Biblical illiteracy of our congregations, and that includes a lack of the most basic understanding of what kind of book the Bible is and isn’t. Most conservative evangelicals have a simplistic Sunday School grasp on the nature of Scripture. It is God’s Word, first of all, and so we tend to approach it with kid gloves, as though saying “God said it” is enough. As though God merely dropped it from heaven. As though every page and every story and poem was not forged in the blood, sweat, and tears of people who believed but needed help for their unbelief. As though the Bible has no human backstory that brought it to us. As though we could merely dust off its historical and cultural and literary characteristics and discover a purely divine message shining beneath.

Out of this naivete, we fail to appreciate the diversity of genres in Scripture and so we read its apocalyptic literature and poetry with the same literalistic mindset as when reading its historical narratives. We tend to think anything resembling historical narrative must be actual reporting of events, and we have little patience for anyone who suggests some of these might be folk tales or stories designed to make us think, laugh, or engage in discussion with one another. We flatten Scripture and fail to recognize the progress of revelation and the fact that some Scriptures are more significant than others in contributing to the overall message.

I’m not saying every church ought to be like a seminary, and every Christian a serious student of historical criticism, rhetorical criticism, literary theory, Ancient Near East history, Second Temple Judaism, life in the Greco-Roman world, and the traditions of interpretation throughout church history. However, our pastors and teachers ought to be acquainted with such matters and engaged in continuing education about them, and the church must learn not to be afraid of any learning that helps us understand the people, events, and backgrounds of the biblical story better, even if we end up being forced to reexamine some of our long held pet interpretations.

This is only one level of engaging Scripture, however, and for the vast majority of Christians, exposure to such robust and well-informed biblical and theological study will have to come through their teachers and pastors. For their part, the church’s teachers should have as one of their goals making this kind of instruction clear, understandable, and interesting so that believers can move beyond a Sunday School perspective on Scripture.

My own life, for example, has been enriched immeasurably by coming to understand more about the nature of the Tanakh (the Old Testament). Knowing that it was gathered, compiled, at least partially composed, edited, and put together after the Exile in Babylon by people who were trying to come to grips with their identity before God and in the world after having suffered such devastation has opened up a multitude of new insights for me as I read it. The Bible has a human backstory — it is not just divine truth dropped from heaven.

And I think this is where we can make a statement about how the Bible is designed to “work” in our lives.

If we take the life-settings of Scripture, the contexts in which God has acted in the past, seriously…

And if we take the authors and compilers and editors of Scripture seriously, recognizing that they worked in specific settings for particular purposes, to bring a word from God to people who needed to hear it in their context…

Then, we will recognize that the Bible is not a theological textbook characterized primarily by propositional doctrines and ethical instructions written to a universal audience, but a family story, a narrative about particular people in particular times and places who experienced God in the midst of their lives and communities.

This means that much of the Bible was not written to us directly, but it was written for us, and for all who are part of God’s family. This is our family story. It has been given as a means of shaping our identity and forming our lives in the world.

The Bible “works” in our lives when, through an ongoing process of understanding, internalizing, and contemplating our family story, we embrace our identity as God’s people and seek to live out the family identity in our own time and place.

The main way in which we approach the Bible, then, is not as students, but as heirs together.

The main way we look at the Bible is as a living ancestral record, a story which is continuing in our lives.

The main tools we use are meditation, imagination, discussion, and commemoration.

Our churches build the life of the community around an ongoing immersion in the story.

There may be other ways of doing this, but I’ve found nothing better than being part of a congregation that keeps the annual Church Calendar with a variety of celebrations and customs, following lectionaries and other guides to Scripture, marking the daily hours of prayer and praying the Psalms, using contemplative Bible reading practices such as lectio divina, and participating in liturgical worship that dramatizes Christ and the Gospel every Sunday in words and sacred actions.

The Bible “works” best in a “family” way.

Comments

  1. Richard Hershberger says:

    This is the modernism vs. fundamentalism debate in a nutshell. There is some irony that trying to approach the Bible like it was originally intended constitutes “modernism.”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Nah.

      Doesn’t it seem odd that from contemplative reading and liturgy comes the equating with Modernism?

      Fundamentalism is not anti-modern; fundamentalism is ignorance and fear, so it is anti-everything.

      The church’s situation is the moral and intellectual failure of the clerical class, full stop.

      There is so much hope in the conversations I overhear, many very entertaining and insightful, about the morality of various Marvel superheroes|comics, the statistics and strategies of athletes, or even the Christian college freshmen arguing about some obscure Theology or what not. Most people are smart, and most enjoy having knowledge. That their leaders have failed to give it to them is not on them as much as on their leaders|teachers; there is not a “vs” in this. It is that our religious leaders are corrupt, incompetent, or [mostly IMNSHO] just cowards (they have the courage to speak truth . . . in private). 🙁

      If this was some kind of meme-clash it would be easier. Sadly, it is humans being human. I miss seeing the world as a matrix of meme-clashes, that was easier. And the ugly beautiful mess that is humanity, it is right there in Scripture.

      • ATW, though I think the first part of your counterpoint was a bit strong (arguing over semantics, maybe), I think your last two paragraphs are spot-on. Well said.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > counterpoint was a bit strong (arguing over semantics, maybe)

          Could be, I accept that.

          Yet “semantics” is what is used to term seemingly any given thing into “that’s X vs. Y”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Fundamentalism is not anti-modern; fundamentalism is ignorance and fear, so it is anti-everything.

        Anti-everything except itself.
        (Isn’t that a definition of Solipsism?)

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Fundamentalists war with each other all the time.

          Who invites a Fundamentalist to a party?

          • –> “Who invites a Fundamentalist to a party?”

            I might invite them once, but probably not again…LOL.

            And there must be a light bulb joke here somewhere, “How many fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb?”

          • Who invites a Fundamentalist to a party?

            They’ve been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb, along with the rest of us riffraff.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Fundamentalists war with each other all the time.

            “These guys do NOT hang out together. The Universe Cannot Have Two Centers.”
            — Kooks Magazine

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Great post.

  3. I’m reading a book right now by a Jungian analyst named Edward Edinger about the apocalypse archetype. He looks at Revelation from a psychological, not literal, point of view. The jist is that apocalypse represents the dawning of light. It is the awakening of the God-image through violent upheaval in the mind and the soul. The very ironic part is that because of all of the internal upheaval that he says the book is pointing to, there will very likely be a literal external upheaval of great consequence. Full circle to literalism. He does not say that is absolutely inevitable and believes it could be avoided or softened. He also believes that some aspects have played out through history but essentially it turns out to be a dire warning of things to come when viewed from a Jungian perspective. Isn’t that something! Who’d a thunk?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In practice, the only “dire warning” is to get the mark scared enough to walk the aisle and buy the fire insurance.

      As for the horrors of What Is To Come, they REJOICE in its lip-smacking details.

      I believer IMonk has covered this in “Hell House – An Evangelism Eager to Leave”.

  4. We are often assured that we are entering, or have entered, both a “post-literate” age where people derive more sensory input from visual rather than literary stimuli, and a “post-Christian” age, where the domination of our culture by Christian values and thought is in decline, i.e., “secularization”.

    Both of these descriptors do seem true on at least some level. Might there be a relationship?

    After all, Christianity is fundamentally literary is it not? Christians are “people of the book” whether they read it or have it read to them. And as much as they may demur, Christians mirror the larger culture in their attitudes and practices. People who don’t read newspapers and magazines and other books anymore aren’t going to read the Bible either. And the Bible is hard read.

    As literary values decline wouldn’t it be natural that systems of thought based on those values also decline?

    • Dana Ames says:

      I think calling Christians “people of the book” is problematic. I realize that designation in contemporary lingo puts us in the category of monotheistic religions descended from Abraham. However, it was first used to describe Islam, and it’s too close for my comfort to worshiping the book (which I believe even Muslims do not do). It reflects our reverence not of Scripture, but of the Printing Press – “if it’s in writing, it must be so.”

      A faith tradition is defined by whom/what it worships. In that context, there are sacred writings.

      Dana

      • Actually the term “people of the book” originated in Islam as a reference to Judaism and Christianity with whom is shares the idea of scripture. The Quran does not claim to be the only scripture but the last and final scripture.

        I take your point but what do we know about what we worship but from sacred writings? More specifically what do we know about Jesus but from the New Testament? This modern attempt in some quarters to separate Jesus from the Bible testifies to the point I’m making. At the very least, no matter what else he may be, Jesus is a character in a book.

        • Dana Ames says:

          I take your point, too, Stephen. I do need to ask, though, how the Christians of the first number of years went about announcing the good news without a book. Even between Christ’s ascension and when St Paul started to write, it was about 20 years. What did Christians do in the meantime? For them, Jesus was *more* than a character in a book. Just sayin’.

          Dana

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > we are entering, or have entered, both a “post-literate” age

      Nah. Such a concept is statistically absurd. We are generating and consuming more text than ever before. Book sales remain strong. There are MORE book stores in America TODAY than last year, and the year before that.

      Respectfully, such an assertion may be common, even popularly accepted, but it is utterly indefensible.

      > where the domination of our culture by Christian values and thought is in decline

      This depends on how serious one believes we ever considered them, how pervasively one believes they were practiced. I don’t believe it. America has been a ruthlessly secular place from the jump, with Fundamentalist pockets happy to categorize out of the way any particular fundamental that would impede local industry.

      • Well I was responding to a claim, not simply making a claim. We can debate “post” whatever but it is extremely myopic not to appreciate how much less literate our culture is than in the past. One need only read Civil War era letters written by common citizens to appreciate that. But literacy is more than simply book sales (which of course include millions of unread Bibles and millions of over read star biographies). Literacy is a certain distinctive approach to thought and shared concepts.

        America was designed to be secular and so secularity has ben a constant factor in our society of course. But I’m not talking about who tithes and regularly attends Church. Our culture from the onset has ben suffused with Christian concepts and metaphors and stories. Now that is changing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      We are often assured that we are entering, or have entered, both a “post-literate” age where people derive more sensory input from visual rather than literary stimuli…

      i.e. Back to “Monkey See, Monkey Do”.

  5. senecagriggs says:

    OPTION B:

    God is actually the author of Holy Scripture; Therefore it does not matter in what era or culture the words appeared.

    God has never been limited by the era, the culture or the scribes. He is beyond time and space be it 3,000 BC or 2018 A.D. There is No opposing force that can limit Him.

    Unlike Bill Gates, he requires no updates for His word to mankind. NO UPDATES: Rev. 22

    OF COURSE I realize that denizens of I-monk do not believe this but it’s quite logical actually. If God is God, He is not limited in giving mankind His plan/His words. Neither time, space, nor culture can hem God in.

    So there is the great divide between conservative Evangelicals and everybody else. Evangelicals believe, due to its author, that Scripture stands across the span of human existence.

    Non Evangelicals think Scriptures is limited by the culture and era; therefore, like Windows, requires periodic updates.

    There is nothing on this planet that is comparable to Holy Scripture. It is timeless indeed.

    • Michael Bell says:

      Seneca,

      I would be interested how you interpret Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 4:13.

      Here we have a direct command from Paul. How do you apply it today?

    • “God is actually the author of Holy Scripture”—No, he is not. Many books of the Bible tell you who the author is, many don’t. If you said, “God is actually the inspiration to the authors of Holy Scripture”, the writers at Internet Monk would agree with you. Which is what Scripture claims for itself in 2 Peter 2:20: “…but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The only thing God ever wrote Himself was the 10 commandments on the tablets of stone He gave to Moses.

      “God has never been limited by the era, the culture or the scribes. He is beyond time and space be it 3,000 BC or 2018 A.D. There is No opposing force that can limit Him.” Nobody at I-Monk has ever said that God can be limited by an opposing force—total strawman. But He can choose to limit Himself—right? That is His prerogative—else humans do not have free will.

      “Unlike Bill Gates, he requires no updates for His word to mankind. NO UPDATES: Rev. 22”. And what was the New Testament if it wasn’t an update to the Old? Also you are confusing the words of Scripture with the understanding or interpretation of Scripture. His words don’t necessarily require updates, but our understanding most certainly does. That was the Apostle Paul’s greatest battle—with those believing Jews who wanted the Gentiles to come under the law. They did not understand the UPDATE. Furthermore, I don’t see you justifying slavery, like the Southern Baptists did at one time. Even they now realize their understanding needed UPDATING.

      “OF COURSE I realize that denizens of I-monk do not believe this but it’s quite logical actually. If God is God, He is not limited in giving mankind His plan/His words. Neither time, space, nor culture can hem God in.” Again, strawman arguments. Nobody at I-Monk ever says God is limited, but we certainly affirm that human understanding is limited. You conflate your limited understanding and interpretations of God’s Word with the words themselves. Again, to be clear, it is your understanding that needs to be updated, not the Scriptures.

      “There is nothing on this planet that is comparable to Holy Scripture. It is timeless indeed.” You confuse the incidentals of Scripture with the message of Scripture. The Message-Incident Principle asserts that the spiritual truths in the Bible are inerrant because they are absolutely true. These eternal truths are what the foundation of Christianity is. So, for example, in Genesis 1 the central message of faith is that God is the creator, the creation is good, and humans are created in the image of God. God then accommodated the ancient authors understanding of nature, which is only incidental to the truth God was trying to communicate. A New Testament example would be in Philippians 2:9-11 where Paul says:
      “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
      Most Christian rarely think of the phrase “under the earth” but a better translation of the Greek word for “under the earth” would be “down in the underworld”. This reflects Paul’s and other ancients understanding of the “3-Tier Universe”. However, the truth of the Philippians passage does not hinge on Paul’s ancient understanding of how the cosmos was constructed (incidental) but rather the message is that Jesus is Lord over the entire creation. You have been instructed this way many times but you refuse instruction. The unchanging eternal Word of God is Jesus. The inspired or God-breathed Scriptures point us infallibly and authoritatively to Him.

    • So do you require your wife to have her head covered in church? Or to be silent in church? Would you require a runaway slave from, say Sudan, to return to his or her master? If what you are saying – that ‘God’s word’ requires no updating and has equal validity in all cultures then these things must be done – the Bible commands it! If, however, the Bible reflects the values and culture in which it was written (i.e., God gave certain commands because they were necessary/relevant/useful/helpful/good in a particular culture that may not have that same relevance or value in another culture) then one must read it with a little more nuance (and intelligence) than you suggest.

    • “Unlike Bill Gates, he requires no updates for His word to mankind. NO UPDATES: Rev. 22”

      Uh, if you actually studied Revelation, you would understand that those ‘warnings’ refer specifically to the ‘words of the prophecy of THIS book’ – the book of Revelation, not Scripture as a whole (cf. 1:3). If one is going to argue about (and quote) Scripture one should actually read it.

    • –> “Unlike Bill Gates, he requires no updates for His word to mankind. NO UPDATES…”

      Umm, yeah, right. I guess we can ignore that whole Old Testament to New Testament “update”. (Good thing that happened before your time, then.)

    • Wow, Seneca, that’s some high-falutin’ language, and it seems you have achieved your purpose of getting everyone stirred up.

      There’s so much to argue with one hardly knows where to start, so let me just say, your position is utterly ridiculous, completely without support except for the subjective “faith” of those who say so, entirely devoid of appreciation for a God who works in and through time and culture-bound human beings, and not faithful to the text that we actually have before us.

      And who in the world has ever suggested the the scriptures need periodic updates?

      My friend, I wonder about your capacity to read, reason, and relate sometimes.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        I realized that he has either no ability or inclination to engage in an apology for his views. He is the internet equivalent of a bully or a loudmouth. The best remedy is to ignore him.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Translation:
      “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! AL’LAH’U AKBAR!”

    • Dave Greene says:

      “Unlike Bill Gates, he requires no updates for His word to mankind. NO UPDATES: Rev. 22”

      It is my understanding that some of the NT books were written after Revelation. If this is so then how does Rev. 22 apply to the NT cannon as a whole rather than just Revelation itself?

  6. Seneca, I would also be interested how you interpret Matthew 19:8, where Jesus credits Moses, NOT GOD, with the Mosaic law about certificates of divorce.

    Here we have Jesus directly attributing a clear teaching of Scripture to someone *other than God*, and Jesus’ clear rejection of that teaching.

    How do you square that circle?

  7. Dana Ames says:

    Once again, the conversation is about Interpretation…

    I’m a non-Evangelical. You’re right, Sen, that I don’t I believe that it is Scripture that stands across time. As Mike/Geologist said, it is Jesus Christ who stands across time. It is he whom I worship, not the Bible – even as we In my faith community call the Bible “Holy Scripture” and venerate it just as we venerate icons – with a kiss.

    Dana

    • senecagriggs says:

      Dana, you would know better than me but does the Orthodox Church separate the Christ from Scripture?

      • Dana Ames says:

        I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “separate Christ from Scripture.” What do I know is that I hear more Scripture read out loud or chanted in any Orthodox service than I ever heard in several months of Sundays as an Evangelical. We read whole pericopes for the Epistle and Gospel, not just a verse or two. There are whole Psalms or large parts of them that open every service. Several Psalm verses are chanted as responses before the Epistle and Gospel readings. There are OT readings for Vespers services as well, and even more of them during Lent. There are many scriptural allusions within the prayers of the Divine Liturgy (I read somewhere that someone counted 95), so if one is familiar with Scripture, one will catch the drift. Orthodox people have always been expected to read Scripture if literate and able to obtain copies of it,as a whole, or Gospels or a Psalter.

        Dana

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Most conservative evangelicals have a simplistic Sunday School grasp on the nature of Scripture. It is God’s Word, first of all, and so we tend to approach it with kid gloves, as though saying “God said it” is enough. As though God merely dropped it from heaven.

    No different than how the Wahabi treat their Koran — as a word-for-word Party Line to be memorized and rewordgitated as conditioned reflex. “GOD SAITH!”

  9. senecagriggs says:

    “Headless Unicorn Guy says:
    August 24, 2018 at 3:03 pm
    Translation:
    “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! AL’LAH’U AKBAR!”

    Ken, an unserious reply to a serious debate.

    • What debate? You have made no reply to any of the objections we have raised above. Frankly, I am more of the mind that HUG’a approach to your posts – reductio ad absurdum mockery – is the proper one. You just lob rhetorical bombs and don’t have the guts to deal with our arguments. So why not?

    • Patriciamc says:

      You didn’t comment during the Adam and Eve post a couple of days ago. It’s an excellent post.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Patricia; I can’t comment about everything I might have an issue with. I just can’t. I’ve long since made it know my belief that Adam and Eve were the first flesh and blood people.

  10. senecagriggs says:

    C.M., on Internetmonk – my evangelical conservatism is certainly an outlier. Is it an outlier from the millenia of church teaching? Not at all.

    C.M., who’s moved? The Evangelicals? No – we haven’t moved.

    I will say this, the remnant who hold to the beliefs about Scripture I have expressed is small, has always been small and will, during this Earth’s existence, continue to be small. But the remnant is always there. Me ‘n you will pass away but being born this very day are men and women who will hold to immutable Scripture; the remnant if you will.

    • “my evangelical conservatism is certainly an outlier. Is it an outlier from the millenia of church teaching? Not at all.”

      So you also hold to infant baptism, episcopal governance in the Church, and ecclesiastical infallibility? If the church was wrong about those, why not this?

      “I will say this, the remnant who hold to the beliefs about Scripture I have expressed is small, has always been small and will, during this Earth’s existence, continue to be small. But the remnant is always there.”

      Zeal for anything other than Christ is wasted effort.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “I will say this, the remnant who hold to the beliefs about Scripture I have expressed is small, has always been small and will, during this Earth’s existence, continue to be small. But the remnant is always there.”

        And guess WHO counts himself as part of that Righteous Remnant?
        That’s one of the warning signs.

    • There have also always been a number of people who believe the earth is flat. That in itself does not make it so. And that is not an answer to any of the responses to your original post above. it is just a restatement of HUG’s point ‘IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!’

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You do know how the current Flat Earth movement began?

        It started in Victorian times with something called “Zetetic Astronomy” whose stated purpose was “To Defend the Truth of SCRIPTURE against Godless Science So-Called”. Said TRUTH of SCRIPTURE being not Six-Day YEC but The Earth Is Flat. (Tactics and Shticks and Debates and Teach the Controversy very familiar to anyone who follows Ken Ham et al.)

        And at least as late as the 1970s there was still some of that remaining. The front page of the Flat Earth Society newspaper reprinted in Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief has a secondary headline of “TWO WITNESSES DECLARE EARTH FLAT”. (Note the specific mention of TWO Witnesses.) The accompanying picture under this headline is a pic of a man and a woman, both with intense eyes. The man looks like an Old Testament Prophet, beard and all; the shorter woman appears unkempt and nondescript. Both look like they’ve been baptized in not just vinegar but battery acid.

    • Re: the remnant: Far as I can tell, Jesus is the God of those passed over by god and history, that is, the unelected preterite. “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Yeah, that Rabbi from Nazareth had a habit of snubbing the Righteous God Squadders and hanging out with all the freaks and losers.

  11. seneca griggs says:

    I WISH TO PUBLICALLY NOTE:

    Because my conservative theology is certainly an outlier on Imonk,

    I’m okay if there is a consensus to “vote me off the island.” I actually would understand. The general theological consensus on Imonk is not mine.

    Internetmonk is about the “post Evangelical wilderness” and I’m all about the surely of Scripture across time and space where there is no wilderness to which God has condemned His children.

    So I’m good with the consensus whatever it might be. Sen

    • So you WANT to provoke a reaction, is it? 🙂

      If you actually *gave reasons* for why you believe what you believe, and dialogued with us instead of endlessly repeating the same old talking points, and didn’t act like you were automatically the Only Guardian of Truth in a sea of heretics, you might find we’d actually be disposed to civil discussion. So ask yourself – do you really want to talk, or do you want to play the martyr?

    • Michael Bell says:

      Still looking for an answer to my question in this post and my last post.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Sorry Mike I hadn’t gotten back to you.

        Yes I DO think the verse in Timothy is also inspired under God’s inspiration. Why is it included? I don’t know? Do I believe it is “spirit breathed?” Absolutely.

    • Seneca, I know my response was strong, but no one wants to “vote you off the island.” It’s just that you do what many biblicists do. You simply cited a faith position as if that ends the discussion. And again, your position missed the mark. No one is saying here that scripture has changed, whatever that might mean. However the very fact that there is a “history of interpretation” about the Bible shows that our understanding of this book has changed continually.

      It has been an excruciating ordeal for conservative evangelicals to try and come to terms with the unprecedented advances in human knowledge that we’ve had in the past 200 years or so. Just as Copernicus and Galileo forced a drastic change in Christian theology and the way people read the scriptures, so all these advances must make us consider how they might alter our understanding of the Bible and many traditional teachings. This is not “moving away” from some fixed standard, it is simply trying to be God’s people today and not 500 years ago.

    • Michael Bell says:

      Seneca I might also note that to you most everyone else on here looks to be theological Liberals. To theological Liberals most everyone on here looks to be theologically conservative.

      In many of my settings I am the conservative voice.

      Nothing Chaplain Mike wrote here is theologically liberal, it just looks that way from your perspective.

      Most of what he wrote here I learned in my theological education at a very evangelical school.

    • Jimmy’s (Seneca) intent, wherever you find him, is to put forward an unthinking Conservative ‘inerrancy of Scripture’ position, as though it was law. Most of those who hold the same doctrine don’t recognise their own understanding as an interpretation, only as the Truth everyone else must fall in line with. It doesn’t matter that many of those he lobs these ‘truth’ grenades towards have at one time held the same position, & have moved away from it only because they have discovered 2 things: the first, that the Bible itself doesn’t function like they say it should if that is true, it doesn’t even speak about itself in the required way; & secondly, that that definition of ‘inerrancy’ is incredibly recent. It is not how the church has ever read the Bible, until the last 100 years or so. Even if it’s the Bible itself that had led people on to rejecting their former understanding of it, somehow this will still be considered suspect.

      Thankfully, we owe our allegiance to Christ & we read his words to find & follow him, not to prop up a conservative interpretation based on modern thinking. Salvation is not dependent on believing in Biblical Inerrancy in this form.

      Never, in many years of seeing Jimmy (Seneca) comment in various places, & also on his own blog, have I ever seen him waver, question or reflect in any way on the beliefs he holds, or act respectfully towards those who have moved on from those beliefs for non-libertarian reasons. I suspect they form the foundation of something he is unable to question, psychologically, & so that it how they need to be understood.

    • Patriciamc says:

      Your conservatism is not an outlier here at IM, but your ability to pat yourself on the back is.

    • Seneca, don’t forget what Blake said. “Without contraries there is no progression.”

      If you weren’t here who would show us the error of our ways? And don’t you rather have an obligation to remain? Are you really going to take the responsibility of abandoning us to our fate? Remember what happened to Jonah.

    • Vote you off the island? What gave you the idea that this is a democracy?

  12. Christiane says:

    ‘Logos’ 🙂

    IF
    the Bible were found in some post-apocalyptic time eons after the Great Trump Nuclear War ends civilization-as-we-knew-it;
    THEN
    our long-distant future ‘human’ cousins might, in time, figure out what it meant, and take some comfort in it as we have done; so yes, I see the transcendental possibilities of sacred Scripture to reach those for whom it was also intended.

    in my own view, the Bible as it is today is the Church’s book by virtue of the Councils and the Scriptoriums down through the centuries that took what the early Church considered as part of the ‘deposit of faith’ and preserved the written word and handed it down for future generations . . . . even the ones for whom ‘Church’ today is a large stage in an auditorium focused on the production of an entertaining experience for the members who sit and do not participate actively in what they call a ‘worship service’. Even for them, who do not stand when the Gospels are read, or kneel for the most sacred verses, or pray aloud together the Lord’s Prayer as He Himself taught it to His followers . . . maybe even ESPECIALLY for them who have no ‘liturgy’ or ‘catechism’ or Church history or ‘tradition’ or Creeds from ancient days. . . . so they would have something to anchor them to the faith of Christ.

    I’d say that we cannot ‘limit’ the potential of sacred Scripture to reach and change the lives of human persons.

    I am not ‘fundamentalist’, no. But I see in the sacred Scriptures something of a kind of ‘incarnation’ of the ‘Logos’, yes . . . . not so much a ‘miracle’, but as a work of mercy began thousands of years ago by those who felt moved to begin and then it was continued . . . . . 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).
    You see, 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.

    Generations upon generations were involved in this great work of receiving, preserving, and passing on sacred Scripture, so I think there is something in that of hope for the Scriptures to be able to touch the lives of future generations to come.

    From the time of Aiden coming to Lindisfarne, many centuries would go by again before the invention of the printing press. For those centuries, we should remember and be thankful for the ones who by candle-light and by hand, copied the Word for the future of our kind.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Christiane, that’s ROMISH.

      Don’t you know that NOTHING existed between the “Holy History” of the Book of Acts & Revelation (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away) and The Founding of Our One True New Testament Church last week by Reverend Apostle Joe Soap?

  13. Meanwhile I’m still wondering about that interesting book Radagast mentioned reading a few posts back…

    Currently reading a book which looks at the Old Testament through the influences of the Elohist, Yahwist, Deuteronomist, and Priest… interesting read….

  14. senecagriggs says:

    beaker –
    “Never, in many years of seeing Jimmy (Seneca) comment in various places, & also on his own blog, have I ever seen him waver, question or reflect in any way on the beliefs he holds, or act respectfully towards those who have moved on from those beliefs for non-libertarian reasons. I suspect they form the foundation of something he is unable to question, psychologically, & so that it how they need to be understood.”
    __________

    According to the blog commenters; I’ve always failed the psych eval. smile

    • Ronald Avra says:

      Why you should take pride in being a petty thug is beyond me. Obstinate, arrogant ignorance is not the mark of a faithful remnant; you exhibit absolutely no evidence of Christian humility. You are an an exemplar of everything I do not wish to be. If it gratifies you to continually remind me, have at it.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Another failed psych eval – sigh et tu Ron?

        • Ronald Avra says:

          Seneca, you are so blindly sure of yourself. If you hold to the validity of scripture, you are aware that there is going to be a judgement of the living and the dead. I will content myself to wait and see how you fare at that ‘examination.’ See you there.

          • senecagriggs says:

            Ron, I would fare poorly – of course. But Jesus stands in my place for the judgment. That’s is what GRACE is.

            What I believe with all my heart; If you would know God’s will and how we should then live, it’s all there in Scripture and anybody with an 8th grade education can understand it. If you take your theology/doctrine from the current culture, you will be wrong.

            As for my comments; if you will pay careful attention you will note I do not attack individuals; I DO disagree with individual’s theology and doctrine and let my disagreements be known.

            BUT I actually have no history of treating individual commenters badly on this blog or on others.

            Sen

            • Ronald Avra says:

              My conviction is that you have no knowledge of or interest in the ‘scriptures’ that you claim to revere. For instance, your reference to Rev 22 and the admonition to not add to or subtract from the contents of the book. It is quite clear that the reference applies specifically to the ‘book’ of Revelation itself, and not to the entire canon. You’ve encountered this concept before, I’m sure and have elected to disregard it, not because it fails the ‘eight grade’ level of understanding criterion, but because it would rob you of a favored canard to lob at the ‘progressive’s.’ Again, willful, obstinate ignorance will not be a defense at the judgement.

              • Ronald Avra says:

                Grace does not cover willful, obstinate ignorance. You might consider forgoing your golf game for the next couple of weeks to review your crib sheets.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                Who needs “knowledge or interest” when You BE-LEEEEEEEVE?

                Pietism + Entropy + Time = True Believer with own Reality.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              Then how’d you get Moderated and/or Banned from a couple Spiritual Abuse blogs only to keep sneaking in under new handles? If it swims like a Troll and quacks like a Troll…

    • Maybe you should be more concerned about the Fruit test, rather than the psych eval. I know I am. I understand that opposition is what you’re after Jimmy, is that the love for others Christ talks of?

      • senecagriggs says:

        Beaker, off topic – I think you mentioned, a few years back, going thru a divorce. I actually hope you’re doing well because divorces tend to be brutal.

        • Thanks for your concern Jimmy. The divorce was not as tough as the marriage, thank God. I hope you & yours are well.

  15. seneca griggs says:

    Remarkably well actually – dryly

    There is GRACE for all who will receive it.

    • Ronald Avra says:

      It is clearly absent in yourself.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Heavens Ron, it’s not my grace. It’s God’s grace.

        • Ronald Avra says:

          It is quite evident God’s grace is absent as well. You are nothing more than a whitewashed tomb, filled with decay and filth. You claim to present civil dialogue but it is merely a veneer that obscures your perverse obsession to dominate every environment you enter. An ‘eight grader’ could discern that.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      There is this theological term called “Invincible Ignorance”, type example “The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs” (who wouldn’t be taken in) in Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle