Re: Does the Bible teach a flat earth?

From: Peter Ruest (
Date: Mon Dec 30 2002 - 00:53:49 EST

  • Next message: John Burgeson: "Re: Does the Bible teach a flat earth?"

    George Murphy wrote:
    > The trouble with the statement that "the Bible is a human
    >document" is that it's
    > usually assumed tacitly - both by "liberals" and "conservatives" -
    >that that would mean
    > that it _wasn't_ "a divine document." The church would have been
    >much better off if it
    > had realized from the beginning the close parallel between our
    >understanding of
    > scripture and christology. Jesus is fully human - and as a fully
    >human being he is the
    > Word of God. The Bible is a collection of human documents, subject
    >to all the vagaries
    > of human authorship. And as a human document it is the witness to
    >the Word of God.
    > It is no accident that some liberals who one-sidedly
    >emphasize the human
    > character of scripture also have trouble with the credal statement
    >that Christ is "true
    > God of true God." And it is also no accident that some
    >conservatives who one-sidedly
    > emphasize that the Bible is the Word of God think of Christ as God
    >just temporarily
    > dressed up as a human.
    > Shalom,
    > George

    The close parallel between scripture and christology is
    very important. Just as Jesus is "fully human and fully divine", so is
    scripture. But what does "fully human and fully divine" mean? Certainly,
    Jesus being "fully human" does not mean that during his earthly life he
    was "nothing but" human! Jesus did empty himself, but (according to
    Phil. 2) in the sense of not using any divine power, or any other
    privilege beyond what the poorest humans had, for _his own_ benefit.

    But he certainly kept exercising his divine power where this was shown
    him by the Father to be appropriate in the pursuance of his task, like
    raising the dead, healing the sick, casting out demons, changing water
    into wine, walking on the surface of the lake, stilling the storm, etc.
    He retained the power to command legions of angels. He knew what was in
    men's hearts, what they thought, etc. He uttered many prophecies
    concerning the near to very far future. He knew of the many prophecies
    in "all the scriptures ... concerning himself" - prophecies none of his
    contemporaries recognized as such. With a power that astonished and
    scared all his contemporaries and silenced their leading theologians,
    the carpenter expounded the true meaning of the Scriptures they had
    missed - no one ever taught like that.

    There was indeed a severe kenosis, but we must not overextend it above
    what Scripture teaches us. He did share our human nature completely, but
    not to the complete exclusion of his divinity. This is underscored by
    the virgin birth and by his sinlessness.

    Can we conclude that Jesus didn't know anything his contemporaries
    didn't know? I doubt very much that this conclusion would be correct,
    although I would agree that during his human life he didn't know
    everything God knows. But where exactly is the line? We don't know.

    Similarly with Scripture: the conclusion that none of the biblical
    authors could write anything not known by his contemporaries would be
    claiming too much. God is free to reveal himself in ways he deems
    appropriate. We know that Jesus spoke to his contemporaries in a way
    they could understand if they wanted to. But we believe - in the same
    words - he also speaks to us in a way we can understand (without being
    experts of Ancient Near Eastern specialties). To exclusively apply
    rulers external to the bible to decide what is meant by the text, and
    what the writer "could not know", and what is incorrect, or what is
    "ancient mythology" is _not_ proper hermeneutics for a text which is not
    only "fully human", but also "fully divine". I think the proper respect
    for God requires a corresponding respect for God's Word (both Jesus and
    Scripture - and I would add Creation), which can only be met by a
    readiness to try to harmonize aspects which appear contradictory at
    first sight.


    Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    <> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)

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