RE: Another postmortem reply

Dick Fischer (
Tue, 11 Jun 1996 19:07:15 -0500

Dean wrote:

>I like to think of the Genesis account as a low resolution picture given
>by the Holy Spirit to all people as a good representation of what really
>happened. It is not false, but it is not highly detailed. And it must fit
>the level of understanding of all people at all times.

That's a great comment, and something that could be explored. We believed
the earth was flat. Augustine considered that from his understanding of
the Bible. We learned the earth was a globe. Should we have known that
from Scripture? Christ said when he returned some would be awake and some
sleeping. Not on a flat earth. Everyone would sleep or be awake at the
same time. The crisis passed, but what happened to the Scripture verses
that convinced us of a flat earth. They're still there, but now they don't
convince us the earth is flat anymore.

The next crisis concerned the geocentric earth. Copernicus and Galileo put
us on the right track. What is notable is that the Bible had not warned its
readers about this revelation of science to come. Our forefathers had been
allowed to hold erroneous convictions in the realm of earth science without
the Bible trying to thrust them into the near modern age with a jargon that
could not have been understood at the time.

I believe we have a living and timeless Bible. In addition to the other
remarkable claims we could make about Scripture, we could add one more.
God's written Word seems to be able to adapt to whatever we learn, whenever
we learn it. The reason for versatility is understandable. The Bible had
to survive through diverse periods of history and be as relevant to the monks
of the Middle Ages as it will be to future spacemen. Space travelers and
Middle Age monks do not share the same world view, but all can benefit from
the same eternal message from a changeless God.

A phrase I have toyed with to describe this characteristic is "purposeful
agility." Comments?

Dick Fischer