Bible: Some Have Enough, Others Can’t Get Enough

***This post is a continuation from the thread on Prop. 8, which became a discussion on the Biblical interpretation and Christianity, among other things.***


A few biblical questions:

  • What kind of role does the Bible play in your life?
  • Do you view the Bible to be infallible? If so, do you believe the words or the message to be infallible?
  • With so many people (even in the same religion or faith group) disagreeing on interpretation of verses in the Bible, is an objective and “true” interpretation possible? How would you propose it?
  • Where do you get your interpretation from? Do you rely on scholars, commentaries, feelings, or a combination of the three?
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About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

28 responses to “Bible: Some Have Enough, Others Can’t Get Enough

  • Anonymous

    George:

    While I completely agree that biblical scholars are not completely agreed on the meaning of Romans 1, I do question one who allows their understanding of the bible to rest in the hands of “scholars” whose own lives are shrouded in obscurity and I venture to say, certainly not the holy material in many cases that I would want to pattern my life after. Just because someone has a PHD or a Masters or belongs to a prestigious research society, or has doctorates, does not automatically make that person an expert. Jesus and Paul repeatedly condemn those who are wise in the world (aka scholars) but whose lives are completely deviant from purity. We all agree there are plenty of educated crooks, but I have yet to meet the person, who LIVES their life based on the bible, regardless of their education, who does not have something worthwhile to offer humanity. Our society is too full of people with no concept of morals, virtue, and integrity, but an abundance of useless facts and figures, diplomas, degrees, and other ostentatious displays of knowledge which truly spiritually profit neither them or society a whit.

    Although the question of the condemnation of homosexuality may perhaps be confused after Romans 1, it certainly should not be when Romans 6, (effeminate… shall not inherit the kingdom of God), the old testament condemnation of the behavior with death, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for this sin (it is laughable to think some people believe this is a punishment for a lack of hospitality, if that were true David committed the mother of inhospitalities with his treatment of Uriah, and God certainly didn’t treat him with the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and even ventured to describe him as a man after his own heart), and that all sex outside of marriage is forbidden in bible.

    I really am confused when you say passages have been mistranslated. Do you mean to say that the 5,000 copies of the original manuscripts which are used as the basis for the King James Bible and which agree in 90% of their content with the remaining 10% being mere spelling errors and nothing doctrinal is mistranslated. Either my understanding of your usage of mistranslated is incorrect or perhaps the bible is not mistranslated.

    Linking slavery, harsh treatment of women, and harsh punishments with the bible is certainly a common reproach hears these days. However, a close scrutiny shows that the bible was used incorrectly by slaveholders, and correctly by abolitionists to lead to the end of slavery. Women are said to have an inferior role in bible, although I submit to you can you find anywhere in history where a mighty nation was led by women? Cleopatra? Queen Elizabeth? Margaret Thatcher? Catherine the Great? Of course these are all women and leaders in their own right, but they pale in comparison to Lincoln, to Caesar, to Napoleon, to Christ, to Gandhi, to King David, to the Apostle Paul, to Hannibal, to Washington. If we continue to persist in this process of taking women out of her intended sphere, we shall continue to reap the rewards of this. As we sit now, we have a devastating economic situation, due to greed and a general lack of morals, we have illegitimacy rates skyrocketing, abortions following suit, and we still struggle to make woman what she was never intended to be. How much more of these sorry results must we reap before we realize the error of our ways. So instead of denouncing the bible, for merely depicting a truth, why can we not accept that perhaps there is truth to the woman being created for the man, and the man having the duty of loving his wife as Christ loved the church. And as for harsh punishments, a basic knowledge of the bible yields the understanding to the true seeker that punishments and chastisements, are intended to make chaste, and that by learning we are made better, and we have a chance at a freedome from sin and it’s penalties. This of course takes work. Now, people do one of three things when they see work, some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. The work required to understand and LIVE by the bible, understandably is very unfair to certain liberals, who would prefer the artificial, fairy tale beauty that we are born into and remain all our lives, to the reality of life being what we make it through our choices.

  • adam

    “I do question one who allows their understanding of the bible to rest in the hands of “scholars””Not that we should leave our spiritual life up to academics, but I am curious. Where do you get your understanding of the bible? I ask that sincerely. I would like to better understand your process.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Adam,

    I do understand and appreciate your question and it’s spirit. Understanding is gained only by adherence to the commands of God, I believe. Naturally, that presents the question, “What are the commands of God, are there not so many religions”? Yes, there are, but it is the duty of every individual to search out which adhere to the bible. “But they all say they are the only ones”. Certainly they do, what else would they say, but “by their fruits ye shall know them”. So when a religion teaches that bishops are to be celibate and the book of Timothy expressly teaches that a bishop must be the husband of one wife, it is quite clear to see what God says and what the religion says. The question then becomes “Do I wish to obey God, or a man made religion?”. The answer overwhelmingly is many choose to obey a man made religion.

    Christ’s words in the Beautitudes are “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. So only those who obey God’s commands of abstaining from any sexual acts outside of marriage, not drinking, not cursing and swearing, not sitting in front of the T.V. for hours on end watching the most godless material (there is the discovery channel and History channel, but television in general is mostly a direct violation of Christ’s command that if a man look at a woman to lust after her, he hath committed adultery already in his heart”, not to mention the repeated violations of Christ’s command to harm no man) and giving their lives in unselfish, altruistic, service of others can understand the teachings of the bible.

    The best way I heard it explained was by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace, when one of his characters tries to explain righteousness to a person seeking. The explanation was that the gospel and its understanding was like the purest water poured into an earthen cup. We are the earthen cup, and when the purity of the gospel is poured into us you can easily imagine how soiled and muddy that pure water quickly becomes. It is only by ridding ourselves of the covetousness, fornication, uncleanness, adultery, lying, stealing, cheating, looking at indecency, envying, drug-use, gambling, drunkenness, and partying, and putting on the fruits of purity which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

    If we are not at war with the lust that is naturally in every one of us, than via hatred, envy, jealousy, attitudes, discontent or some other way, we will be at war with our fellow humans. I prefer to fight the battle within, practicing self-denial, and self-control, and to die leaving a legacy of sacrifice, of love, of gentleness, kindness and above all else a conscience void of offense toward God or man.

    Hope this helps explain my views,I welcome your response, and, having enjoyed your last blog I really look forward to responding to that as well.

  • adam

    Hi, I appreciate you sharing your beliefs, but it doesn’t seem like you answered the questions… I am interested in how you view the Bible, and why. I have to admit, of all religious people I have had the hardest time understanding those who view the bible to be infallible. Not because of that fact, per se, but I don’t understand how people can take a book, like the Bible, and declare it is from God without question. Also, what do people like that do with teachings that no longer apply? What about teachings that are contradictory? Also, what makes Paul or Timothy or anyone else the voice of God more than any other prophet or apostle?

    I sincerely want to understand, why is it that just because certain writings happened to make it into a book we now call “the bible” that those are the only writings that are of God?

    When someone says, “it’s in the Bible so God said it” I cringe. Why has God limited himself to one book, with contents and interpretations that we cannot agree on? Example, the other day an acquaintance of mine was offering his view that spanking (as a form of discipline for children) was “biblical.” What do you do when another Christian comes along and says, “no, it’s not biblical”… ? My point is I don’t think there is any universal standard of how to interpret biblical scripture.

    I also would still like to know whether you consider the message of the bible or the words themselves to be infallible…

    Is this making sense? I really would like to understand you better.

  • adam

    To be more clear (hopefully), it seems to me that something is only biblical when one agrees with what is being said. If one doesn’t agree, then it is not of God. I don’t think that’s what you are saying, but it comes across that way.

    I do however, respect and share–not all, obviously, but many of–your beliefs and values.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Adam,

    It is very hard to accept the bible as infallible for many reasons. Too many to list here, as a matter of fact. As far as teachings that no longer apply, do you have examples? I may be able to help a little. The Old Testament is not the Law. So anyone looking to the Old Testament solely (some of it is reinforced by Christ) for instruction is going to come up with scornful remarks like the bible prohibits working on the Sabbath, or you have to sacricice animals, or you can’t touch certain kinds of meat. The Old Testament is for our learning as Paul writes in Romans of the New Testament. There are certain principles which are very applicable today, but Christ died to nail the old law to the cross. Therefore we are under Christ’s law and will be judged under it.

    I have yet to see contradictory teachings, though I have to say without wisdom and an honest search it is very easy to find a multitude of contradictions. I gladly welcome examples of honest contradictions. There are plenty of notorious “contradictions”. The earth is billions of years old, yet the bible shows only 6,000 years is one. There are plenty of studies supporting the 6,000 year figure (the young earth theory) among which some cite that if the moon moves away from earth by a certain fixed distance every year. This is proven by astronomers. So if the earth is billions of years old and you multiply it by this constant annual distance, the moon would have had to be touching the earth! I’ve never heard anyone theorize the moon came from the earth. For every “contradiction” there is understanding. I welcome any supposed contradictions, for if there is one error in the bible, I am wrong.

    Paul and Timothy (who didn’t actually write a book, the book bearing his name is a letter to him from Paul) are no more the voices of the bible, than any other apostle or writer of the bible, with the exception of Jesus, who never sinned.

    I’m a little confused with the difficulty at understanding how God could limit himself to one book. The repeated message through the Old and New Testament is that there is One God, One Message, and One Word. Naturally every religion makes similar claims, but none has the power of revealed prophecy, the archaeological evidence, and the contemporary, undisputed claims of miracles the Bible does.

    Now, this definitely does not sound politically correct, but the bible does endorse spanking. In moderation, and with love, but it does say “spare the rod and spoil the child”. It also says “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”. Additionally it says, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”. Lastly it says, “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell”. Now this is not endorsing child abuse, but as a child I got some pretty sound lickings, and I am none the worse for them today. Children aren’t born with self discipline, and those children who are not taught it while young, unfortunately never develop it. Now there is this “love” movement where you love your child and never spank him because that might harm his self esteem. Utter nonsense. The harm done by not teaching the child there are consequences for wrong actions, will be repaid by life, who will certainly reward a wayward adult with no self-discipline with prison or worse. That does not mean all children need to be spanked, and that a child who is not spanked will be a criminal, but it is a good idea. It is never to be done in anger, or abused, and it should never be done when the parent is all discipline and no love.

    I believe with proper study (daily) and application (daily) there certainly is a universal standard of interpreting the bible. Like I mentioned earlier, there are clear discrepancies in some interpretations and what the bible actually says. One will never know it if study and application of the bible are not performed. If the bible is not your life, it will not make any sense to you. It is no good to read it a few times or even a hundred times. It is a useless fairytale in the hands of anyone who merely reads it and does not try to pattern their life by it. It is little wonder that you hear so many people saying there are some mighty fine stories in there, but it’s not true, or others say, there’s so many interpretations”. You can be sure there is no real study and application there. For when a person applies it, there life changes (I know, mine has). They experience harmony, peace, and serenity with humanity. They experience the love of God, that can only come when our lives are right by him, and they come to understand that the love of God, transcends that of any man (or woman, and even the beautiful love found in the marriage between a man and a woman) on the face of the earth.

    In conclusion, the words I speak are not my own. The doctrine I endorse is older than me by thousands of years. I am a man just like any other, and have the same base desires as all men. I do not speak about what appeals to me, but what I have lived my life by. If I spoke merely about what was appealing I would endorse those sins the bible specifically condemns. For they are full of temporary pleasure. God’s word is described in Hebrews as a sharp sword of the spirit, that pierces to our hearts. It shows who we truly are, so that God’s will may be done in our lives, and what is not of God is purified. God never recommends we think about getting rid of ungodliness or pleasure in it. He commands with the penalty of eternal death for disobedience. So if anything I have said can be found to disagree with the united message of God as found in the KJV, I am certainly welcome to hear it. It is only by correction one grows. Also when you say, ” it seems to me that something is only biblical when one agrees with what is being said. If one doesn’t agree, then it is not of God”, that suggests that my words are being viewed as opinion, or truth that exists only in my mind but cannot be objectively proved outside of it. This would be true if you can scripturally show (using context, and knowing the harmony of the scriptures) where God’s word clearly opposes mine. For if my words and God’s words differ, and you can prove it, you need pay me no further attention. But if it be of God, then come what may, I will unflinchingly stand by it.

  • adam

    Thanks for the lengthy explanation. I am beginning to understand you a little better. Much of what you say, including knowing the goodness of something by living it and finding the fruits, I agree with.

    As for what is “biblical” and what is not, I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied.

    I do believe in absolute, objective truth, but there are plenty of people who claim to believe in the bible who disagree. Some of them have to be wrong, and we ALL see through a glass darkly. We use our human apparatus to interpret and understand.

    “I’m a little confused with the difficulty at understanding how God could limit himself to one book. The repeated message through the Old and New Testament is that there is One God, One Message, and One Word.”This is a key point in our discussion, I think. You are confused at this, and I’m confused on the other side. 🙂 When you say “one message, one word” are you taking that to literally refer to the bible? To me, God’s “one message” or “one word” refers to all truth, which is found in a lot of places. This is for sure where LDS and trad. Christians differ.

  • adam

    Our discussion makes a lot of sense in light of viewing “the message” as only the bible vs. any and all revealed truth.

    Thanks for being patient with me. I really do want to understand my traditional Christian friends and acquaintances better. I still can’t quite grasp the “only the bible” idea. It just doesn’t work for me. Example, what does one call all the writings before they were in the bible? I am still wondering, do you believe the “message” is infallible, or the “exact words”? From what you have said, I’m guessing you would say message…

  • Anonymous

    Hi Adam and anonymous,

    This is Ron – for some reason I was unable to post under my name.

    Anyway

    I agree with Adam about how confusing sola scriptura is. As you know, I used to be Protestant before I recognized the notion that Christ called us to use the Bible Alone as our authority was unheard of before Luther in 1514 AD and is, ironically, unbiblical! In fact, Paul tells us to go to the church, submitting to its authority 1 Corinthians 6:4. Also, the Bible never declares itself as the final authority – 1 Timothy 15 is the sole scripture that Protestants rely on and it is a stretch to say the least.

    Because I was unable to reconcile the concept of Sola Scriptura with the early church and the Bible, I began investigating the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. After two years of study, I realized that Luther had no choice but to move the authority Christ placed upon Peter Matt 16:18 and shift it to the Bible alone ( verse ?)in order to break away from the Catholic church.

    As far as anonymous’ observation that the Roman and Orthodox Churches prohibit Bishops to be married and therefore concluding that both churches must be man-made, was the Apostle and Bishop Paul apostate? He wasn’t married…..neither were many of the leaders of the early church. Paul actually advocates for committed Christians to forgo marriage.

    As I look back on my Protestant days I am thankful for the Biblical foundation they provided me, however they also provided me with with many teachings that simply do not make sense.

    1. Sola Scriptura (served a purpose for Luther, but simply does not fit with the beliefs of the early church and is unbiblical)
    2. The Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, which I learned in my Protestant Church were written by the Catholic Church and therefore, extra-biblical sources of truth.
    3. The very Bible that I was taught to be all-authoritative was canonized and compiled by the Catholic Church.
    4. I was taught as a Protestant that baptism was not redemptive – AND I was taught that the Bible was the final authority – yet according to John 3:5
    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit – baptism is a critical component for my salvation.
    5. The New Testament was not even written down until at least 50 years after Christ’s death and was not canonized until the 4th century – many early Christian churches considered the Sheppard of Hermas and the Didache as sacred scriptures before God declared through his church what is scripture and what is not.

    I joined the Roman Catholic Church 1 year later.

  • Anonymous

    Also, Bishops in the Catholic Church are not forced to be unmarried – they can choose to marry and not become leaders in the Church. In addition, Anglican / Episcopal ordained priests that convert to Catholicism are still priests even when they are married.

  • Allie

    As a side note, and an example of how certain scriptures can be interpreted differently, I read a booklet on “spare the rod, spoil the child” when I was in college, which defined the rod as a shepherd’s staff, used not to beat, but to guide and direct.

    I was spanked a few times as a child, and I don’t think it damaged me, but I don’t think it’s the most effective parenting method either. Especially since most parents spank out of frustration rather than a real desire to teach their children.

  • adam

    Ron, thank you for sharing the process you experienced. I am very appreciative of our friendship and my views of Catholic theology have changed dramatically (for the better) since I’ve known you.

    Allie, that is an interesting interpretation. While I like it, and it makes sense to me, I wonder if that was indeed the original intent of the writer.

    Fwiw, I don’t think I was damaged by spanking either, but I agree, it often happens out of frustration. Personally I have committed not to do it, but I don’t necessarily condemn the practice either. I do believe it can cause more aggression in kids, and I often think it’s an easy way out sometimes. I think we would all agree that natural consequences, if applicable, are the best. So many parents don’t let their kids face natural consequences, and that is more abusive than spanking, imo.

  • Allie

    My main point was, you can believe the bible to be infallible (I don’t, but that’s not relevant to my point) but that doesn’t mean that everything in it is easy to understand, and that our human interpretations of it are always accurate.

    Just because we may think we understand what the bible says about homosexuality, doesn’t mean we really do.

  • adam

    But Allie, I think anonymous’ point above (and other fundamentalist Christians) is that if you don’t really understand what the bible says, then you have not really lived it or followed its teachings. Is that accurate, anonymous?

  • Anonymous

    Hello Ron,

    This is Subwarrior, and I, like you, am unable to use my name. I appreciated your response, and had some questions. In your first paragraph, you stated 1 Cor 6:4. This is an excellent scripture, however in context, Paul is talking to those who are going outside of church jurisdiction to the law in disputes. Paul is endorsing matters OF THIS EARTH be handled before church authority. This is not saying that if a church practices what is not in the bible, that the church authority is to be accepted.
    The Old Testament is full of prophets withstanding kings when they transgressed God’s commands (Nathan to David, Samuel to Saul, Michaiah to Ahab, and Isaiah and Jeremiah to some of their contemporary kings), while the New Testament has Paul withstanding Peter to the face when he set an example of hypocrisy to the Jews. Peter behaved like a Gentile when around the Gentiles, but separated himself when the Jews were around. Peter was the leadership of the church. Also Romans 10:17 states “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Faith is our belief, and this cannot come without God’s word. It certainly does not come by the endorsement of church authority. Christ specifically told those who chose to follow the reigning authority of the Pharisees, and reject the words he had of God, that “they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God”. This is in John 12:43. Those who denied the miracle Christ did in restoring sight, did so because they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue by the church authority. So I venture to say, that the church authority without God’s authority is merely manmade tyranny. When a church is by God’s word, it is an authority, but when it contradicts, it is to be resisted, for God’s law supercedes that of the church. That kind of thinking is what kept Catholics and Protestants from resisting Hitler, what kept slaveholders citing God while mistreating slaves, and what kept people following the church in it’s bloody purges of the Spanish Inquisition. Admittedly these are extreme examples, but God’s law’s supremacy over earthly authority can never be overemphasized.

    Jn 17:17 sees Christ in his beautiful prayer saying “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth”. We are not sanctified by a church, but by our adherence to God’s commands, and these commands include obedience to authority, which itself adheres to God’s. Yet, when church authority is against God’s authority, obedience to God is to resist this authority, even to the death.

    While God does say in Matt 16:18 that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, he also says we are to be judged on our adherence to Jesus new law, John 12:48. The new law never advocates violating the words of Christ, to obey a man made organization, so the scriptures do supercede even ecclesiastical authority. Christ repeatedly says, “my words are life”, “and ye shall know the truth (his words) and they shall set you free)”, and lastly, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”. No church has the ability to confer the power a man gains by obedience to the Word of the New Testament. That said, when a church complies with the teachings of the bible, it is a supreme authority.

    Paul did say it was good to be celibate, but he never said it was necessary, and stated explicitly in his letter to Timothy that a bishop must be the husband of one wife, because if he didn’t know how to run his own home, how would he run the house of God?! He also said in 1 Cor “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.”. So he says they have not sinned, and he spares them any trouble. So where does one get the idea of celibacy for church leadership? Christ was and Paul was, but neither one commanded others to be. Furthermore, Peter, who was a bishop, was married!

    Also Ron, I am not sure what Protestant Denomination, you attended, but in mine Baptism is absolutely essential, for exactly the reasons you mentioned, among others. As a member of the Catholic church, you are taught that you have original sin, found nowhere in the New TEstament, and explicitly condemned in Old Testament (Ezekiel 18). Also baptims very definition means burial in water, yet the Catholics sprinkle innocent infants. Now, I don’t know about you, but I know I did the majority of the things that needed to be repented of after I was a child. So, how can you be washed from your sins before you even do them?

    Thank you Adam, your final point is was what I meant and follows Christ’s teaching that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall know God”. It also says in James that we cannot even love if we are not pure, and purity is not obtained without rigorous self denial and constant immersion in the Word. It is quite easy to study not a whit, and go through life. Ignorance is bliss, but also, the only reward for doing what is easy, is it is easy. Knowledge (especially that of self) is power, yet is never gained without sedulous hard work! There is no shortcut for hard work!

  • ron

    Thanks for your comments, SW. I appreciated reading your post, however I am having difficulty responding to you for several reasons:
    1. As far, as I know you have not told anyone on this board what your theological background is or what kind of church you are currently attending. I have clearly stated that I am Catholic and Adam has been straightforward about being LDS, what is your background? The reason this information is important for our discussion is that you have the advantage of picking and choosing from a variety of doctrinal differences between your theological understanding and ours, yet we are unable to respond in an informed manner because we do not have a full understanding of where you are coming from. Yes, I realize that you probably believe that you are coming from the Biblical perspective and it should be obvious because all Biblical truth is clearly stated (and if we do not agree with your interpretation, which is the same as God’s interpretation – you can always dismiss our perspective as “out of context” or that we simply are outside the true faith and therefore doomed to wander around blinded to the truth of the Word), however I have to reject this point of view based on my experience dealing with Protestants – especially of the conservative ilk. The fact is, none of you seem to agree on the truth that is so clearly stated in the Bible unless you are rallying together to confront a potential heretic.
    2. You post failed to address the man-made doctrine of sola scriptura – yes, you did weave a complicated, piecework post about how church authority that contradicts God’s Word is evil and man-made, but you never presented any evidence for sola scriptura in the Bible or the early church. All I can say is, I agree with you; according to the teachings of my church and the Bible all doctrine that contradicts God’s Word is false doctrine – case closed.
    Now that I presented my initial misgivings regarding this discussion, I will address a few issue I have with the information you presented in your post.

    [B]In your first paragraph, you stated 1 Cor 6:4. This is an excellent scripture, however in context, Paul is talking to those who are going outside of church jurisdiction to the law in disputes. Paul is endorsing matters OF THIS EARTH be handled before church authority. This is not saying that if a church practices what is not in the bible, that the church authority is to be accepted.[/B]

    1. We agree 1 Cor 6:4 is an excellent example of scripture.
    2. I worry about the phrase “in context” – are we talking about the context of the culture and time it was written? The context of the audience Paul was addressing? The context of 21st century church practices? The context of your private interpretation of scripture?
    3. In your attempt to dismiss my point, that Paul was trying to assert the God-given authority given to the church (review Matt. 16 – with an emphasis on the passing on of the “keys to the Kingdom to Peter); you have only proven my point that the church has the authority to determine all disputes – as Paul states, even judicial disputes.
    4. Once again, I agree with you – if the church teaches (if practicing what is not Biblical was a criteria for dismissing Biblical teaching from others or ourselves we simply would not have access to Biblical teaching! We have all sinned and fallen short, remember?).
    5. If the church has no authority, the Bible is simply a collection of ancient texts thrown together by a heretical body of sinners – how can it be authoritative?
    Here is what I have written so far – I will continue to address your post – I am simply worried that I will be unable to post the entire response due to length.

  • ron

    SW: The Old Testament is full of prophets withstanding kings when they transgressed God’s commands (Nathan to David, Samuel to Saul, Michaiah to Ahab, and Isaiah and Jeremiah to some of their contemporary kings), while the New Testament has Paul withstanding Peter to the face when he set an example of hypocrisy to the Jews.

    R: Indeed. The Old Testament is full of sinners who were blessed by God and placed in authority over His people despite their sins. Obviously Peter received Paul’s correction because the church today is following Paul’s teachings on this topic. Paul was simply following Christ’s teachings in a more complete manner – gentiles should not have to be converted to Judaism before becoming Christian – Peter was guilty of being short-sighted (not surprising if you have read about his character), rather than being wrong.

    SW: Also Romans 10:17 states “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Faith is our belief, and this cannot come without God’s word. It certainly does not come by the endorsement of church authority.

    R: I agree, God’s Word is authoritative. Why are you setting this discussion up as a dichotomy? We either place our faith in the Bible (true) OR we are endorsing church authority (false) – this is a false dichotomy. The Church was given the authority to preach God’s Word so we could all listen to it in Matt. 16.

    SW: Christ specifically told those who chose to follow the reigning authority of the Pharisees, and reject the words he had of God, that “they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God”.

    R: I disagree. Jesus taught in the Temple and He followed every law of the Temple perfectly. Yes he criticized the Pharisees (not their blind followers) for being too dogmatic – no one (except Him) could live up to their teachings – not even them, therefore they were hypocrites. Instead, Jesus taught a merciful doctrine of love and action – His people were no longer judged by an external law – we were called to internal the law into our hearts and live it out. Before He died on the Cross and was raised into heaven, Jesus promised that not even the gates of hell will overcome His Church. Unfortunately, for the Pharisees, they were unable to soften their hearts enough to accept the teaching of Christ – but the fact is, the early church was started in the Jewish Temple – early followers were Messianic Jews. Indeed, Christ came to fulfill the law, not throw it out.

    SW: This is in John 12:43. Those who denied the miracle Christ did in restoring sight did so because they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue by the church authority.

    R: I disagree – early Christians still worshiped in the Temple after Christ’s death. It was only after Paul’s missionary work that Christians slowly started breaking away from the Jewish Temple.

    SW: So I venture to say, that the church authority without God’s authority is merely man-made tyranny.

    R: No argument here.

    When a church is by God’s word, it is an authority, but when it contradicts, it is to be resisted, for God’s law supersedes that of the church.

    R: Truth always supersedes falsehood.

    SW: That kind of thinking is what kept Catholics and Protestants from resisting Hitler, what kept slaveholders citing God while mistreating slaves, and what kept people following the church in it’s bloody purges of the Spanish Inquisition. Admittedly these are extreme examples, but God’s law’s supremacy over earthly authority can never be overemphasized.

    R: None of your examples have anything to do with the authority of the church to safeguard and teach God’s Word.

    The 2 paragraphs that follow are simply emphasizing what you have already stated – that any church that does not teach God’s Word is not to be considered an authority. Agreed.

    SW: Paul did say it was good to be celibate, but he never said it was necessary, and stated explicitly in his letter to Timothy that a bishop must be the husband of one wife, because if he didn’t know how to run his own home, how would he run the house of God?!

    R: Paul was limiting elders to only having one wife, which was against the pagan practice of having multiply wives and mistresses.

    It is dogmatic to use what Paul said to a specific church in order to curb their rampant immorality, in order to condemn a practice which honors another one of Paul’s statements found in 1 Corinthians 7:1. In addition, as I stated before – Bishops can leave their positions to marry while still remaining non-practicing Bishops. They can also choose not to be bishops or priests in the first place.

    It is interesting to me that this verse is usually over-emphasized by folks who disagree with the Catholic Church and belong to churches who allow women to speak in church without covering their heads….hmmm.

    SW: He also said in 1 Cor “But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.”. So he says they have not sinned, and he spares them any trouble. So where does one get the idea of celibacy for church leadership? Christ was and Paul was, but neither one commanded others to be. Furthermore, Peter, who was a bishop, was married!

    R: You will have to read your church history to find the answer to that question.

    SW: Also Ron, I am not sure what Protestant Denomination, you attended, but in mine Baptism is absolutely essential, for exactly the reasons you mentioned, among others. As a member of the Catholic Church, you are taught that you have original sin, found nowhere in the New Testament, and explicitly condemned in Old Testament (Ezekiel 18). Also baptims very definition means burial in water, yet the Catholics sprinkle innocent infants. Now, I don’t know about you, but I know I did the majority of the things that needed to be repented of after I was a child. So, how can you be washed from your sins before you even do them?

    R: I would love to have a further discussion on this issue, but it is essential that I know your church background before it will be meaningful.

    To sum up our discussion, you have done a nice job of pointing out that any authority that teaches doctrine which contradicts God’s Word is false. Although you have insinuated that the Catholic Church fall under this category, you are not even close to proving it. Finally, you have failed to address the issue of sola scriptura – where is it found in the Bible? Where are the examples of the teaching in the early church? How do you reconciled Luther’s rebellion from God’s Church with Christ’s and the Apostle’s emphasis on unity amongst believers? How do you rationalize your belief that the Bible is the sole authority AND the fact that the Catholic Church (based on church authority) determined which books were going to be included and the order they would appears.

    Thanks for the engaging conversation.

    -Ron

  • Ron

    What kind of role does the Bible play in your life?

    R: The Bible and the Catholic Church are dual authorities in my life.

    Do you view the Bible to be infallible? If so, do you believe the words or the message to be infallible?

    R: The message of the Bible is infallible.

    With so many people (even in the same religion or faith group) disagreeing on interpretation of verses in the Bible, is an objective and “true” interpretation possible? How would you propose it?

    R: I believe that objective truth can be determined in about 3/4 of the Bible. The meaning determined in the rest of the Bible is open to private revelation – as long as the interpretation does not contradict the rest of the Bible. I believe that we have to rely on the Church to define the 3/4 portion of doctrine where objective truth can be determined.

    Where do you get your interpretation from? Do you rely on scholars, commentaries, feelings, or a combination of the three?

    R: The Catholic Catechism / commentaries / scholars / private revelation.

    Finally, we are going to be judged by how well we loved, not how much we know about the Bible. Too many people reverse this idea. Frankly, doctrine should be the hobby of a Christian who is working full time in the role of serving and loving others.

    -Ron

  • adam

    “working full time in the role of serving and loving others”Well said Ron. We should all be more concerned about this, and less so about doctrinal differences or quibbles.

  • Nathan R

    Growing up a Latter-Day Saint I had always been aware that we believed the Bible to be the word of God , “AS FAR AS IT IS TRANSLATED CORRECTLY.” But it wasn’t until recently that I began to study the origin and history of the books of the Bible. I am currently reading Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason.” He uses the Bible itself to show the many contradictions and errors.

    So I now look back on my Mormon beliefs from my upbringing and wonder, “just how much of it wasn’t translated correctly?”

    I have always had a very difficult time with the stories in which the Israelites annihilated another group in the name of God. It is such Biblical account that lead to me questioning the Bible.

    It is my hope that all religious individuals will stop and question their faith and their scriptures when it requires them to act contrary to their values. If we all did, maybe 9.11 could have been avoided.

    So to answer the questions, I do believe in parts of the Bible. For I believe it does contain truths. But when the Bible contradicts a value that I know to be true, and a value that is essential for peaceful coexistence then I feel it my obligation to be skeptical.

    It is my belief that adherence to personal values over adherence to religion that keep such atrocities such as 9.11 and biblical genocides from happening.

    We may claim that WE are the right ones! Our Church is True! Our Scriptures and infallible! Just as the catholic church is true to the Catholics and the Muslim church to the Muslims.

    So when using the Bible in a debate about prop 8 I then find debating the Bible meaning useless. For whether or not we believe the Bible to be true, the question still remains, what right do we have to enforce those beliefs on others. Had I been alive during the time of Moses, I hope for one of two things. First, that the stories have been improperly handed down through the generations. Or second, I would have had the courage to act according to my conscience and refused to murder in the name of my God.

  • adam

    Good points Nathan. I felt a huge sense of religious liberation when I stopped trying to practice shoddy apologetics for WHY God would command so many people to be killed, etc. etc. and finally allowed myself to consider who was actually doing the writing, what they may have believed, and the fact that we all are limited in understanding to some degree, along a spectrum.

  • Ron

    It is interesting to me how consistently humans simply do not understand the ways of God. The Pharisees are great illustrations of the human condition in this regard. They were unable to recognize the Messiah (a figure they spent their lives training to identify – someone they devoted their very beings to seek out)because they used human criteria to assess God. Our current fixation with correct dogma seems to echo this age old problem. We are all guilty of this – Catholics with their devotion to ritual, Protestants with their Bible worship and LDS with their white knuckle, gut wrenching struggle to remained exclusive, yet “fit in” with mainstream Christianity. The fact is we all need to resist our innate desires to be special and unique….we are all brothers and sisters of the one true God and we need to start treating each other as such. As CS Lewis said in the best writing he ever produced “The Weight of Glory” that we have no idea how magnificent / how precious God views people we meet everyday….we are called to love them without reason, without regard to correct doctrine. Indeed, we are called to be reckless in our love and service to our brothers and sisters. St. Francis was the second best example of this reckless love – exquisitely unbridled in his expression of God’s love. If you are interested in his life – read Bonaventure’s biography / Chesterton’s biography or watch “Brother Son Sister Moon”

    God Bless us all.

    -R

  • Andrew Price

    Adam – thank you for your email – I think it speaks volumes that I posted a comment on the ‘ Mormon Matters ‘ blog which was not allowed , it was a quote from Orson Pratt’s -The Seer concerning God the Father’s marriage to the Virgin Mary . Truth is not frightened of transparancy .

  • adamf

    Andrew, I would love to hear your take on the questions in this post, i.e. how you feel and think about the bible.

    Your comment was not allowed because it was not related to the post. The quote is obviously related to Mormonism, but if you look around I’m sure you’ll find another post on that blog that suits your comment better.

    Same goes here, please stick to the topic. I really do want to know what you think about the bible, regarding the questions in the post.

    Thank you!

  • Andrew Price

    Adam – You need to grasp that there are people out there in the big wide world ie Christians who do not buy into the cringing sentimentality of Mormon culture as expressed by most of the contributers of the other blog . Since the said contributers expressed a confidence in the eternal state of the Mormon bishop who died . It is absolutely on topic to dicuss the Mormon Jesus since the gentleman if he was trusting in a lie cannot be in eternal bliss . You can be sure if I speak about the word of God I will also be speaking about the God of the Bible .

    What is your opinion concerning the Song of Solomon ?

  • adamf

    Lol, okay. No problem. I’m well aware that there are people who don’t believe in Mormonism… 🙂

    I also apologize that I seemed to have made you defensive (e.g. “it is absolutely on topic”).

    You still have not answered my questions though, and again, I really do want to understand your views on the Bible regarding the questions in the post here. Again, I humbly ask for you to refrain from attacking, and just share what you believe. The purpose of this post is to help understand other’s views on the bible.

    I promise you, that if you take that approach you are more likely to save souls than you are with your current methods.

    I will wait for your answers, as I sincerely want to know what you think, and if you have any other questions for me (in addition to the Song of Solomon) I will address them. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Admin – can I say – I truly, truly hate this blog – for some reason I have to post at least three times before my post actually gets posted – ugh

    Now to Andrew,

    here is a post I published on the original blog you and Adam were discussing this topic on – I decided not to modify it.

    Andrew,

    How unfortunate it is to read a comment like the one you left here – a man died and you are only concerned about promoting your own agenda. Is it that important for you to be right? Is your message so weak that you need to kick people while they are down? Obviously you are not concerned about sharing the love of Jesus – telling people that they are wrong and that people they care about are in Hell is only useful in promoting your narrow-minded view of reality, not sharing the gospel. You have the same mentality of a shoe salesman who ridicules the customer for wearing the shoes he walked in with and then expecting him to buy the product you are selling. Privately, I believe you are only concerned about bolstering your own position in order to convince yourself of the beliefs you hold to be true. Rather than sounding convinced – you appear unsure of your position. Indeed, if someone begged you to share your truth with them I think you would hesitate – you belong to a group that needs opposition to exist. If everyone accepted Jesus on your terms, your group would start purging your own members because without an enemy your ideology would have no foundation or purpose.

    Here is a quick story – There once was a tribe of people in New Guinea who were discovered by some well meaning missionaries. The missionaries wanted to share Jesus with the people because they were obviously lost, but first they decided that the tribe needed to improve their health because they were dying of Malaria and other water-born illnesses. So, they decided to install 3 wells in the area that would deliver freshwater to the tribe – sounds great, right? Well, the people were slow to accept the new magic of receiving water from a pump instead of drinking from streams, but finally, they learned how to use the new technology and people stopped dying of water-born illnesses. After several years the tribe adapted to their new way of life and their new religion, but there were still problems – members that converted to Jesus lost their old ways and their meaning in life – they lost their identity. Families that once lived in harmony were suddenly at war with each other because of an ideology. Instead of Jesus, the missionaries brought strife and discord – ironically, even the wells that the missionaries installed in the beginning yielding freshwater, also delivered arsenic, which resulted in 40% of the members of the tribe developing terminal cancer. Most of the tribe had developed immunity to the water-born viruses, but all were susceptible to the cancer. The moral of the story is – 1) make sure that you understand the ramifications of your actions – you are responsible!! 2) We are all sinners and as Paul says we all have a limited view of the truth 3) The ends do not justify the means! 4) Being right is about Pride not sharing the gospel 5) Do not be a jerk – sounds simple, but if you are living for Pride and not Jesus it feels nature to be a jerk.

    Go read the Posionwood Bible, spend twenty years loving people for Christ (find yourself in Christ) and then come back and witness to the “lost Mormons” – until then, you are simply hurting people, not sharing Christ. I will be praying for you.

    -R

    I would love to continue this discussion over email – rlussier777@gmail.com

  • adamf

    R, I will look into the comment issue. I personally have not had a problem with it, but it seems that some have. Thanks for the notice.

    The post R was referring to above is from MormonMatters.

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