Re: The Whole Bible Revealed in Zechariah (was Re: NT truth...)

From: Don Winterstein <dfwinterstein@msn.com>
Date: Sat Jan 17 2004 - 05:06:31 EST

Peter Ruest wrote:

"(1) The biblical text is the only objective data (in the scientific
sense) that we have, and that can also be verified by anyone else."

Don: The text of course is very valuable; I've never said otherwise. But who says the Word of God is "objective data"? Throughout the Bible the Word acts on and changes people. Scriptures provide data, but the Word implements God's power on earth.

Peter: "(2) The effect of reading a biblical text is primarily subjective, and
its reality can be verified in exceptional cases only."

Don: True. If the effect on a person is not subjective, it's not an effect. If that effect then leads a person to proclaim a message about God (Word of God), then indeed you have no scientific way of verifying its validity. But when have things ever been different?

If the person says things that sound loony, then you can reject him or her out of hand, right? Yet The Gospel of John movie portrayed Jesus--accurately--as saying loony things, as someone we today would instantly judge to be delusional. Only his miracles rescue him from that verdict. [It's not that the movie said anything new; after all, it presented the Gospel verbatim. It's just that I've always found it easy to slide by the responses of Jesus' opponents when reading, but the movie doesn't allow it. You can ignore his opponents when reading but not when viewing.]

Yet we are warned not to believe messengers just because they work miracles! So whaddaya gonna do? Be like a Pharisee and reject everyone you disagree with? The easiest solution is to assume that everything that needs to be done has already been done, so you can just reject everyone who says anything that sounds new. This is the position that most Christians have taken, I think. It's almost certainly an important reason why YEC is so easy for so many of them to swallow. But it's a position that makes it difficult for God to succeed in proclaiming a new-sounding Word that may be particularly relevant for our time.

Peter: "...The fact that God has chosen
to use biblical texts as a means of revelation (by consolidating and
fixing oral communications in written form) shows that the biblical
texts have to be considered as, at least, a means of conveying God's
Word, no matter how any hearers or readers may receive it."

Don: As I've said many times, the texts can become God's Word to people as they read; but if no one reads them, they are just texts. Texts are objects; God's Word is not an object.

Peter: "This interpretation of John 1:1 is in conflict with the entire tenor of
Scripture."

Don: Let's ignore this, I don't want to defend it. (See my response to George.)

Don

 

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Peter Ruest
  To: Don Winterstein
  Cc: gmurphy@raex.com ; asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 9:49 PM
  Subject: Re: The Whole Bible Revealed in Zechariah (was Re: NT truth...)

  Don Winterstein wrote:

> George Murphy wrote (among other things):
>
> "c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the =
> written Word=20
> of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they =
> record and=20
> announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's =
> Spirit speaks=20
> to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service =
> in the world."
>
> But this is a church-generated quote, IMO not inspired. None of your =
> _own_ points as I understand them support the notion that the canonical =
> Scriptures in whole or in part are per se the Word of God. =20
>
> I understand that the above quoted statement is commonly held to be true =
> among Protestant Christians, but I don't think it is consistent with =
> scriptural usage of "Word of God," "Word of the Lord," "Word" or any =
> equivalent. When did this concept of the "written Word of God" first =
> gain currency among Christians? (I'd guess not until after the =
> Reformation, but I suspect you can do better than guess.) =20
>
> My own view, which I believe I can well support from Scripture (even =
> though I haven't yet gotten to first base with Richard), is that the =
> Word of God is much more dynamic than any written text, and that no =
> written text as such is worthy of being called "the Word of God." When =
> a person _reads_ the written text, it can become the Word of God to that =
> person; but the written text per se is not the Word of God. God's =
> Spirit cannot speak through those written words unless they are read. =20

  There are some problems with this view:
  (1) The biblical text is the only objective data (in the scientific
  sense) that we have, and that can also be verified by anyone else.
  (2) The effect of reading a biblical text is primarily subjective, and
  its reality can be verified in exceptional cases only. In addition to
  the problems of the interpretation of the text, there is the problem of
  the interpretation of its effects on the reader, which makes its status
  even less reliable.
  (3) The effect of a text on a reader can only be secondary to the text
  itself. Of course, God's Spirit can work in an individual's heart even
  without the use of any biblical text, but the fact that God has chosen
  to use biblical texts as a means of revelation (by consolidating and
  fixing oral communications in written form) shows that the biblical
  texts have to be considered as, at least, a means of conveying God's
  Word, no matter how any hearers or readers may receive it.

  "But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to
  them, 'Thus says the Lord God'; he that will hear, let him hear; and he
  that will refuse to hear, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious
  house" (Ez. 3:27). This characterization of the inscripturated Word of
  God and it's recipients is parallel to the one given for the incarnated
  Word of God: "But he looked at them and said, 'What then is this that is
  written: >The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head
  of the corner<? Every one that falls on that stone will be broken to
  pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him.'" (Luke 20:18).
  This doesn't sound like lack of dynamism, although the will of the
  recipient is respected.

  To say that a biblical text can only "become" the Word of God for a
  given person, if that person reads it (and presumably reacts favorably),
  is an altogether too feeble notion of a text given by God (however its
  inspiration happened in detail). God's Word - even in the sense of the
  texts to which he had committed it - is powerful in its own right,
  independent of its reception. "Is not my word like fire, says the Lord,
  and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:29). In
  view of the consummation of the times, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth
  will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Mat. 24:35). What
  would these statements refer to if not to the biblical texts as a whole,
  providentially purposed as canonical by God and later recognized as such
  by the Church? God's inscripturated Word is not powerful due to its
  being written, but due to the power and will of its original Author, but
  because it is written and kept without changing (to all practical
  purposes), it remains available as God's message of grace and judgment.

> Without in-depth familiarity with certain of the writings of the =
> prophets, a person is not likely to see even a hint of Christ in them. =
> For example, suppose the man in the street happened upon the 35th =
> chapter of Ezekiel--someone who was unlikely to have any preconceived =
> notions about the true status of the writing. That chapter would not be =
> the Word of God to that person. So not every word in the canon is the =
> Word of God to every person at all times. For many people many of the =
> words are totally irrelevant much of the time. In order to be the Word =
> of God for a person, it must be relevant to the person. =20
>
> Better yet, take almost any chapter of Leviticus. How relevant to the =
> man on the street would most such chapters be? =20

  This judgment is a consequence of your inadequate definition of the
  biblical texts as only "becoming" the Word of God. If its preexistence
  in God's mind is taken into consideration, your caveats are irrelevant.
  The important question is, what is God's purpose in having such and such
  a text included in the canonical Scriptures.
   
> Ultimately I'm asserting that the Word of God involves action of God on =
> his creation accompanied by a response on the part of some portion of =
> that creation. Both elements are necessary. If there is no response, =
> it was not the Word. The Source (Christ) does not become the Word until =
> he interacts with some targeted portion of the creation. Until he =
> interacts he remains strictly latent, as before the Big Bang--still a =
> Person but not yet the Word. (I then interpret John 1:1 as designating =
> the one who was to _become_ the Word as the Word, making use of =
> hindsight. If the world had never come into existence, he would not be =
> the Word. He existed before creation, but he was not the Word before =
> creation.) =20
>
> Don

  This interpretation of John 1:1 is in conflict with the entire tenor of
  Scripture. Reading "became" for "was" may sometimes be possible in
  Hebrew, but not in Greek, as I recollect (specialists may correct me).
  Also, the immediate context of John 1:1-3 (even v.1 alone) shows such an
  interpretation to be inconsistent: "(1) In the beginning was the Word,
  and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the
  beginning with God; (3) all things were made through him, and without
  him was not anything made that was made." You would have to selectively
  change the 3rd "was" into "became", without changing the others, and
  would still run into trouble with Christ's preexistence and
  participation in creation. You effectively equate God's "Word" with
  God's creative power in creation and in his work in individuals' hearts.
  But this work is otherwise specifically attributed to the Holy Spirit.
  Why and how then is Christ God's Word? Making him "latent", in any
  sense, in his preexistence, would seem to downgrade him to less than
  God.

  Peter

  --
  Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
  <pruest@dplanet.ch> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
  "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Sat Jan 17 05:04:27 2004

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