Friday, April 27, 2007

Some Theological Questions About Scripture

What would the implication be for Christianity if the Bible were proven conclusively to not be the 100% inspired Word of God? Would "orthodox" Christianity disappear or would it alter?

Is Scripture intended to be a standard we measure up to or the revelation of God's working throughout history as told through the eyes of the men and women who experienced it? And if it's not the standard we measure up to and it is a narrative, how does that change how we should use the Bible in everyday life and in worship? It honestly seems to me that the second way of looking at it lessens a great deal the use of the Bible as a bludgeon to beat sinners into submission.

Just some thoughts on a Friday that I'm curious to hear others' perspectives on.


Scott said...

How about instead of an either/or it's both?

That it is inspired by God but intended to be a narrative not interpreted with a hyper-literal hermeneutic?

What if God had this disseminated to His original audience in ways that they could understand and relate to using symbolism, fable, parable, and commands and the import is first and foremost historical? And that the implications for us is the rediscovery of community and redemption. Of living together as God's people being the Kingdom come?

judy thomas said...

Of course, the Bible is narrative and literature, neither of which can be interpreted LITERALLY. After hearing Amy Jill for a while, I am really into questioning the translations of the Bible. Who chose the words to translate the Greek, etc. into? What was their agenda? Which original source did they choose, and how did they interpret it in their culture?

Thomas+ said...

How about this:

If I ran George Washington down with my Hummer, would he still be on the one dollar bill?

The question Phil asks is just as silly: "What would the implication be for Christianity if the Bible were proven conclusively to not be the 100% inspired Word of God?"

"proven conclusively"? What does that even mean in the context of the Bible? "100% inspired word of God" Like Ivory soap or something?

The reason I'm challenging my boy Phil is that you simply cannot "prove" or disprove God's inspiration. It would be akin to being God himself. Where would your evidence come from? What would you accept as conclusive? Why do you get to make that decision, unless you are God?

We have to choose to trust the Christian metanarrative or reject it. We can not prove or disprove it. We can defend or attack it, but proof, either legal or scientific, has no bearing.

I would even go so far as to say that those who think they can prove or disprove it have already shown that they have a fundamental misconception of the essence of faith, truth, and religion.

Thomas+ said...

Oh, by the way, of course you can interpret narrative literally. As in: today I drove my car to Target. There, a narrative that you may, and should, interpret literally.

Justin said...


I interpreted Phil's question to basically mean if something in the bible was proven to not be the way it was written. Say we find out the records in the bible are falsehoods after weighing new historical data? How would that affect our faith?

I know in many fundamentalist churches, inerrancy is preached to the point of denying sound science because the bible says God created the earth in 6 literal days, while convienently ignoring the fact one of God's "days" happened before there were sun and moon. Not sure how a day can happen without a sun to be revolving around.

Anyway, he's just saying if a situation came along like that, how would that change christendom

Tony Arnold said...

Spot on Thomas!

judy thomas said...

To Thomas:

One sentence does not a narrative make.

Thomas+ said...

From "narrative (noun) 1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious." So, yes, I can have a one sentence account of events, i.e. a one sentence narrative.

My point is that narratives can easily be literally true. The fact that the Bible is filled with narratives does not in-and-of itself suggest that one or more of those narratives are not literally true, or at least meant to be read as literally true. I am not claiming that are or or not; I'm just saying narratives and literature--biographies for instance--are filled with literal events retold for future generations, as well as fiction and myth and everything else.

My objection to Phil is based on the question he asked, taken literally in this case :) Perhaps his question is about something like creation. If it is, we could easily get into discussions of the various ways of understanding Genesis One, for instance.

As an example, my faith does not require a literal seven day creation. Perhaps there was one, perhaps there wasn't, really doesn't matter to me.

However, my faith does require a literal resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There is no way that science could ever prove that this did or did not occur (hence part of my objection to Phil's question). So, I don't have a way to meaningfully engage the question other than to point out its absurdity (hence my George Washington remark).

I would ask Phil's question this way. "If Jesus wasn't physically raised from the dead, what difference does that have to your faith?" And, I would answer that one with St. Paul, that we are "more to be pitied than all other people."

Jim said...

Some times I wonder if, when God inspired the writers of the Bible, He inspired them to write it simply in language His children would understand. As in See God. See God create.

belinda said...

Scott/Judy Thomas - right on track! The Bible as we know it uses lots of figurative terms, i.e, 40 days and 40 nights. It's put into terms we can understand, not literal. The transcript is not "inspired" as we've sometimes been taught - it's written by the followers. Notice it's in third person. And written much after the time. The King James version, which is what all of us have been exposed to, was published in the 1640s. What was before that?? Sadly, so many Americans think we have THE inspired word of God in the King James Bible. Do some checking on your own. There were many more books in the originals scrolls.

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