Re: Living and dying with Inaccurate History (fwd)

Rodney Dunning (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 19:45:30 -0500 (EST)

On Sun, 2 Mar 1997, Glenn Morton wrote:

> In such cases, I would suggest that the "fulfillment" of the "prophecy" is
> more a matter of what the reader reads into such a passage. As far as I am
> concerned, if a prophecy does not make specific predictions, in clear
> language, it would hardly count. If you say 'Bulls will run on Wall Street"
> This can be taken in two ways: literally male bovines trotting down that
> street (which has happened in the past when TV advertisements were filmed)
> or the stock market will go up. Is the prophecy fulfilled if EITHER event
> occurs? How do I know? That would be useless as a test of someone's
> prophetic skill.
> If you are depending upon figurative language for prophecy, an extrabiblical
> example might suffice to show the problem.

Well, I was actually thinking about BIBLICAL examples of figurative
language in prophecy. Consider Isaiah 58:11,

And the LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your desire with good things,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters fail not.

I'm really confused by what you've written. What do you mean when you
say prophecies of this type do not count? Is Isaiah 58:11, which clearly
contains figurative language, exempt from the standard established
in Deuteronomy? Do we simply not bother with the question of whether it
will ever (or already has) come true? Despite the presence of figurative
language, I don't think it's THAT hard to tell what Isaiah (and God) is

But now we are talking about prophecy! I'm more interested in Genesis. If
Isaiah 58:11 can pass the test established in Deuteronomy without its
language being meant literally, then why can't Genesis? (It seems your
point was that the only way for Genesis to pass the test in Deuteronomy,
the only for it to be true, was for it to be literal history.)

> Are we Christians willing to let secular science make more specific
> predictions of the future than God, speaking through man, is able to
> accomplish? What kind of God is this?

This is really amazing, Glenn. Pray tell, what control do we have over
the specificity of predictions made by God? As I recall, it is a general
rule of biblical prophecy to avoid specific dates for events (there is
certainly no specific date given in Isaiah 58). Yet any good astronomer
can make EXTREMELY specific predictions regarding the timing of celestial
events. Does this mean that to save God's reputation, we must somehow
read into biblical prophecy a specificity regarding dates that matches that
of modern day astronomy? This would be ridiculous amount of control over
the text. And what does it mean when circumstances totally external (and
unrelated) to the text itself are determining our interpretation of what it

> Me too. I love hard difficult issues. I love have the most difficult
> counters to my position thrown at me, and I love to throw as hard a set of
> arguments back. Thanks for the opportunity to do this.

My pleasure. But I hope we can move back to discussing Genesis.

Rodney Dunning
voice: 910.759.4977 or 910.759.4980
fax: 910.759.6142