Brainlessness (was Re: Frustrations (was Re: Randomness))

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 17:04:31 EDT

  • Next message: Jim Eisele: "Who wrote the Bible? (was other stuff)"

    These comments are made only to try to clarify the
    points being made. Bear in mind, I am not saying that
    any conclusions are wrong, I am trying to point out
    the problems inherent in making the conclusions that
    Jim tries to make. Ironically, I would probably
    consider myself fairly conservative in terms of
    Biblical interpretation, but I find the lack of a
    semblance of appreciation of the problems of
    interpretation hugely troublesome for the reasons
    briefly touched upon below. Likewise, the persistent
    name-calling associated with the advocacy of a
    position does not make that position any more correct
    (in fact, some would argue it underscores the weakness
    of the claim).

    Jim, you cannot be serious (nor could any conservative
    theologian) in writing that "God wrote the Bible" as
    if He physically put pen to paper. That is really a
    huge definitional leap from the Bible consists of
    God-inspired writings, written by human beings.

    More fundamentally, where does the "Bible" say that
    all the books of the Bible are written by God? Most
    citations regarding the trustworthiness of scripture
    are absolutely inapposite to the New Testament since
    the books of the New Testament were not canonical
    (indeed nothing was canonical before the church
    councils) until well after the last document that is
    contained in the New Testament was written.
    Likewise, the Old Testament canon currently differs
    among denominations and the definition of what a Jew
    considered scripture between, say 100 BC and 200 AD,
    depended upon the tradition of the Jew (obviously some
    writings, such as the Pentateuch would be accepted by
    all as scripture and canonical to the extent the Jews
    worried about which writings were canonical, which is
    to say not that much), because the particular Jewish
    tradition determined what was "scripture" and the
    ecumenical councils decided which New Testament books
    to be included in the canon. Technically, there were
    no New Testament scriptures, as such, before the
    canonical councils. So, your assertion logically
    falls on its face right there, unless you include at a
    minimum another premise that God put into the heads of
    the ecumenical councils the absolute truth about which
    books to be included as part of the canon of the New
    Testament (which I am not necessarily disputing).

    Moreover, does your denomination include the Apocrypha
    as part of the "Bible"? If not, on what basis would
    you reject the books in the Apocrypha as NOT being
    inspired by God?

    I generally sympathize with your desire to have a
    clear cut, bright line, but your view is really overly
    simplistic in this regard.

    Bear in mind, I am not saying that any book of the
    Bible is not literally true nor that it is not
    inspired by God (I think I am still staying away from
    heresy so far). I am simply saying that none of your
    arguments make it the actual case that a particular
    book of the Bible is literally true however you
    interpret what is a literal meaning of the text.
    Neither does your assertion show that the books of the
    Bible were inspired by God. You have an overly
    simplistic conception of what constitutes the truth of
    the text since there is no such thing as completely
    literal or more appropriately self-evident meanings.

    I am not one to call overly simplistic approaches to
    complex issues as either sad or wrong -- indeed, the
    result might be true. However, I find nothing
    fruitful in dogmatically (I am using dogma in the
    pejorative popular sense here) asserting that an
    overly simplistic conclusion is self-evident, and do
    find such assertions sad.

    My biggest concern in these issues is that folks who
    demand their particular literal interpretation of a
    particular scripture play into the hands of skeptics
    and atheists and helps them to be able to paint
    Christianity as irrational or absurd. Simplistically,
    you can say that this is God's will, but I am
    extremely concerned as a Christian that my actions and
    preconceptions do not drive away individuals from
    faith in Jesus as the Christ.

    You seem insistent that your version has to be the
    true version and if someone does not see that, then
    they are somehow defective. Likewise, you seem quite
    untroubled that a person would either lose faith or
    not come to Christ because they do not accept your
    interpretation of any particular portion of the Bible.
      This may not be the case, but it appears to be the
    case and this is what I find sad.

    Bear in mind, I am not saying that your conclusions
    are wrong. Nor am I saying that all things in the
    Bible are negotiable. Christianity does clearly make
    some truth claims with a capital T.

    I am saying that to expand those truth claims
    unnecessarily and to assert or imply that those
    additional truth claims are the central part of
    Christianity or necessary for Christian faith is a

    --- Jim Eisele <> wrote:
    > Terry writes
    > >If I were to list for you all the
    > >Biblical proof-texts and arguments that we
    > Calvinists use to argue
    > >that God controls everything even the minutest
    > detail of his creation
    > >(casting of the lot, hairs on the head, death of a
    > sparrow, etc.),
    > How sad is this? Not this part of Terry's post.
    > The fact that Terry
    > felt a need to post this. God
    > A) Created the heavens and the earth
    > B) Decides who's going to heaven
    > Surely this list can do a better job of remembering
    > that God is God.
    > I will go a 1/2 step further. There are
    > "conservatives" on this list.
    > I, for one, find "liberal" theology brainless.
    > "Conservative" theology - God wrote the Bible. It
    > is truth.
    > "Liberal" theology -
    > See, I can't even come up with a definition!
    > Jim Eisele
    > Genesis in Question

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