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October 08, 2004

Comments

Chris Jones

"Scripture is not an all-or-nothing proposition. I can be skeptical about some things in Scripture, without having to reject it in its entirety."

True. But if Scripture is to mean anything, there must be a standard by which to discern its meaning as a whole - an underlying "hypothesis" which gives to the whole of Scripture a coherent meaning. What, for you, is that standard? and how does it lead you to classify different parts of the New Testament as more or less reliable?

And is it the same standard as that of the historic Church? If not, why not?

D. C.

Conscience, I think. It would be unwise not to take into account the views of others past and present. But ultimately, each of us is accountable for the life decisions we make; we can't use "I was only following Scripture" as an excuse.

David Huff

Chris wrote:
But if Scripture is to mean anything, there must be a standard by which to discern its meaning as a whole - an underlying "hypothesis" which gives to the whole of Scripture a coherent meaning.

This strikes me as an example of a category of logical fallacy known as Category Errors, specifically one of Composition. " Because the parts of a whole have a certain property, it is argued that the whole has that property."

Wayne Abbott

I would call into question the idea that the whole of Scripture has a coherent meaning. The different books were written by different people who had quite contradictory ideas about what God is like. It is true that we may certainly find similarities in some of their views, but from my study, the contradictions are simply too great to postulate a unifying coherence.

An example may help:
How can we reconcile the picture of God as one who orders the wholesale slaughter of infants and children (Samuel's God) with a God who tells us to love other people as we love ourself (Jesus' God)?

Mike

The God of Samuel and the God of Jesus are the same God, just different covenants. The old was fulfilled and replaced by the new. New rules, new ideals, new standards.

Mike

There is an underlying standard to all of your essays, DC- and that standard is your lack of trust in the divine inspiration of the Bible. You consistently argue or posit writings that contest the Word, using the basis of human fallibility as justification for arguing it's Divine capacity. Until you come to grips with that FACT, you'll always be a questioner, and not necessarily a Christian. Be careful bud.

anga

please study your article very very carefully and you will find how completely 'unreliable' it is. you see? your eyes have been blinded to your own shortcomings and you don't know. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life", saith He.

May He open your eyes to the darkness you are in that you may stagger towards the light and find the 'only' Truth. peace.

Jason

DC,

as a non-believer (some call me atheist), this has been an intriguing article to stumble upon. frankly, i am at a loss as to understand how you can display such sound logic and skepticism, yet at the same time maintain a claim to be christian, or even religious at all. sincerely, i do not mean to sound as though i'm criticizing or challenging you or your ideas. it is just that i do not understand your position. if you acknowledge the shortcomings of scripture, pertaining to it's accuracy and historical validity, then what can you possibly base your faith on?

i can understand maybe seeing an allegorical and metaphorical value in the bible. as a non-believer, that is about all i can afford it, and only in certain places. But you say you are christian, which is to say that you do in fact have faith about certain metaphysical matters. how can you believe in a heaven or hell if the very source and support for that idea is something that you admit is not reliable?

i submitted my email in order to post this message, please contact me. your position is very interesting and new to me, as such i believe i can learn quite a bit from you.

Steven S

Hey DC,

As a pursuer of truth, I applaud your pursuit of it...

I don't want to challenge you on the level of trusting something that (to your eyes) seems untrustworthy. This seems to me to devalue Jesus as a rational human being, as if He wouldn't encourage us to pursue truth, no matter the cost! (One of my favorite philosophers says, "If there is a better way, Jesus will be the first one to urge you to take it, and if you don't believe that, you don't have a very high view of Him.")

However, it seems that some of the points you make/dispute are failing to take certain things into account. You talk about the failure of witnesses in our system. But there isn't really anything approaching a 1-to-1 analogy between an observer of an event trying to remember details of the event that are not integrated in significant ways with the event itself (ie, the color of a hat during combat), and observations made about an individual with whom you have spent 3+ years with 24/7 (ie. the disciples recalling from memory sermons Jesus gave multiple times in multiple settings throughout the course of His ministry that were directly integrated to His life, teaching, ministry, and theirs). In point of fact, people have an very significant increase in ability to remember when the content is within a consistent narrative as opposed to simple rote factual memorization, precisely because that content is imbued with significance by its place within the story.

Also, you correctly point out that people consistently throughout history have died for things, implying that this doesn't necessitate the resurrection accounts to be true simply because individuals died for believing it. But you fail to point out that many of the early Christians were in the historically unique position to know by direct personal observation whether or not the whole thing were a hoax and chose to die for their King anyway.

(Here is where I think dealing with history is important: the disciples were followers of a Messiah who, by definition was not the Messiah. Crucifixion was Rome's way of dealing with rebels, and a Messianic claimant could only be considered a Messiah as long as he was around to threaten rebellion. Once crucified, what could possibly have convinced these Jewish disciples to die for their Christ knowing he had failed at being the Christ?! This is where the historian must acknowledge that something of tremendous significance must have happened. If the Resurrection didn't happen, then we must postulate something to take into account the facts that we do have.)

I do humbly submit that you are looking at things anachronistically. Not that I am in a position to challenge your credentials as a historian (I am not) but that it seems you are reading things from the perspective of a 21st Century western litigator, as opposed to a 1st Century Jew.

You cite NT Wright; he would be an example of someone I would be curious to see you interact with on a more consistent level. What are your thoughts on the main thrusts of argument he makes in his "Christian Origins" Series? If you have not read this yet, are you planning on it?

Thanks for your time and energy in response!

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