Re: Seely's Views 2

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Tue Aug 31 2004 - 05:45:45 EDT

MessagePHS: You seem to be getting closer to understanding.

GRM: Oh good, I have been working towards that for decades! :-)

It's time for me to pile on and join the others who've been telling Glenn where he's wrong. :-)

Glenn, coming as you do from a YEC background, you seem to have swallowed the "Wonderful One-Hoss Shay" view of the Bible common to some YECs, namely, that every part of the Bible is perfectly created and is as good as every other part. The whole will last intact until the Second Coming, at which time it will be superseded by God himself in person. If any part of it can be shown to be imperfect, it's authority fails and the whole thing becomes completely worthless. That's why it's important for those who think of the Bible in this way to defend their view of its perfection to the death. Their faith depends on having a perfect book.

In reality, as I'm sure you know, the Bible is a collection of ancient writings from many different authors from many different periods. Those who collected the writings for the canon may have been pious, intelligent and knowledgeable, but they were nevertheless human. We have no assurance that they included all the appropriate writings or that they did not include some that don't really belong. Furthermore, while I accept the divine inspiration of the entire Bible, I'm 100% convinced that the level of divine inspiration varies considerably from one writing to the next, where by "level of divine inspiration" I mean the degree to which the writing reveals universal truths of God. I suspect every Christian who's read the Bible would agree.

Given such facts and convictions, it would not be at all unreasonable for an intelligent, educated person in our day simply to declare that this or that writing in the collection was included in error and was never truly divinely inspired. Martin Luther on occasion was inclined to reject both James and Revelation; and Revelation had a particularly difficult time making the original cut. A contemporary scientist who felt Genesis 1-11 requires a literal interpretation could simply eliminate those chapters from his personal canon. To do so, of course, would have consequences: He would thereby sever an important part of his connection to Christian tradition and to other Christians. But there would be no reasonable grounds for denying such person a right to be called Christian.

Well, if we're free to downgrade or throw out writings we don't like, where would be the basis for faith? The true basis for faith is not the book but the Person. The encounter with the Person is at the heart of faith. Such encounter rarely if ever gives detailed factual information about the Person, but it often stimulates a vigorous search for corroborating witness in the world: That is, the first time one has an intense experience of God, one urgently needs to interpret such experience, and the quickest way to do that is to find others who have had similar experience. The Church has such others, and the Bible records details of many such experiences. As a result, the person who has had the encounter finds support in other Christians and in the Bible. The Bible becomes valued because it supports and enhances the incipient faith.

For most Christians the personal encounter comes through the preaching of the Gospel in one form or another. That encounter is at the heart of faith. Genesis 1-11 likely has little or nothing to do with the faith in the initial stages, but when the person expands his knowledge of Christianity and confronts those parts of the Bible, he does not lose his faith if he cannot take them literally, but rather he interprets them in a way that is consistent both with his personal encounter and with his outside knowledge of the world. If parts of the Bible that he finds strange threaten to destroy his faith, the correct response for him is to take refuge in and strengthen the personal encounter and then revisit and reinterpret those strange parts, ideally with input from more mature Christians.

To require God to jump through hoops of our design is the way of doubting Thomas: "Unless God does this or that in the way I prescribe, I'm never going to believe." Jesus was gentle with Thomas, but Thomas' way was inferior to the way of those who believe on the basis of the personal encounter.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Glenn Morton<>
  Sent: Friday, August 27, 2004 7:20 PM
  Subject: RE: Seely's Views 2

    -----Original Message-----
    From:<> []
    Sent: Friday, August 27, 2004 7:35 PM
    Subject: Re: Seely's Views 2

    Glenn wrote

      GRM: It seems to me that humans can also find out history for themselves. Why did God inspire an account at all? If, as you speaking for God's intention say, God doesn't want to reveal anything we can figure out, why then Genesis 1-11? Is it merely a humanly written fable of no import? If it is divinely inspired then it means that the Deity inspired a false story, which is worse than saying the account is not inspired but written by man. It seems to me that the above tries to have it both ways. You don't want God accountable for the false story which we have been handed and which is claimed to have been inspired. But then you also do want the account to be a story inspired by God which accommodates to the science of the day.

    PHS: You seem to be getting closer to understanding.

    GRM: Oh good, I have been working towards that for decades! :-)

    PHS: God can inspire a writer to employ the scientific ideas of his own day (including prehistory) in order to communicate spiritual truths. Inspiration sometimes encompasses accommodation. The ancient science is accommodated; the spiritual truths are revealed. Both are inspired.

     GRm: Unfortunately, Paul, you didn't understand what I was saying. Why isn't history left for us to discover for ourselves? Why did we need God to inspire a person of 5000 years ago to write a story which accomodated to the science of the day and thus didn't tell us the truth?
Received on Tue Aug 31 05:55:19 2004

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