Re: Something must change

Robert L. Miller (
Mon, 17 Aug 1998 21:39:24 -0700

George Murphy wrote:

> Robert L. Miller wrote:
> >
> > George Murphy wrote in part:
> >
> > > The basic problem to which Howard's post calls our attention is not the _truth_
> > > of Scripture but the character or genre of biblical accounts. As long as Christians
> > > keep thinking that the Bible can be true only if it is accurate historical narrative,
> > > the church will be bogged down in fruitless concordism. (& to forestall a common
> > > objection, I'm not saying that biblical accounts are _in_accurate history. Some of them
> > > are not to be read as history in the modern sense at all.
> >
> > And I think the basic problem is who decides what the "character or genre of biblical
> > accounts" is? Who decides which biblical interpretation is the correct one? What authority
> > can we appeal to for the correct answer? We Christians have been having heated arguments
> > (wars?) over just this point for almost 2000 years. Howard implies that we can settle
> > questions by the community entering into sincere give and take discussions a la scientific
> > discussions. But one man's historical narrative is another man's allegory. ( Were the
> > characters in Luke 16:19-31 real people?) I suspect we will never come to agreement on
> > biblical authority this side of heaven. How do we get out of this cul de sac?
> It's true that we'll never have complete agreement on this, nor do we need to.
> But a fundamental problem is the assumption which many conservative Christians, and also
> many rationalistic atheists make - that accounts can be true only if they are accurate
> historical or scientific accounts in the modern sense. With that assumption, Jonah can
> be "true" only if Nineveh really was 3 days walk across, there really was a "King of
> Nineveh", all the _animals_ of Nineveh really were covered in sackcloth, &c.
> To put it bluntly, this assumption is wrong, & the only way of getting some
> degree of agreement among Christians in this area is for people to stop making it. Then
> we can debate the historical character of this or that account without the idea that
> showing a biblical story to be fictional, or editorialized, or in any way not meeting
> modern canons of strict historical accuracy, would make the Bible false.
> George L. Murphy