Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 :: 11:02 PM

"Part of the challenge of history comes from allowing suspicion a proper role. Suspicion, that is, of the texts themselves, of one's colleagues' readings, and particularly of one's own. However, a caution is necessary. The guild of New Testament studies has become so used to operating with a hermaneutic of suspicion that we find ourselves trapped in our own subtleties. If two ancient writers agree about something, that proves one got it from the other. If they seem to disagree, that proves that one or both are wrong. If they say an event fulfills biblical prophesy, they made it up to look like that. If an event of saying fits a writer's theological scheme, that writer invented it. If there are two accounts of similar events, they are a 'doublet' (there was only one event); but if a single event has anything odd about it, there must have been two events, which are now conflated. And so on. Anything to show how clever we are, how subtle, to have smoked out the reality behind the text.

"But, as any author who has watched her or his books being reviewed will know, such reconstructions again and again miss the point, often wildly. If we cannot get it right when we share a culture, a period, and a language, it is highly likely that many of our subtle reconstructions of ancient texts and histories are our own unhistorical fantasies, unrecognized only because the writers are long since dead and cannot answer back.

"Suspicion is all very well; there is also such a thing as a hermeneutic of paranoia. Somebody says something, they must have a motive; therefore they must have made it up. Just because we are rightly determined to avoid a hermeneutic of credulity, that does not mean there is no such thing as appropriate trust, or even readiness to suspend disbelief for awhile, and see where it gets us." (>>)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 :: 4:35 PM

"[Avoid] performing Step 3 without the other steps." (>>)

Friday, March 13th, 2009 :: 2:06 PM

"While I agree with Ehrman that inerrancy and absolute historical truthfulness cannot be sustained when one closely reads Scripture, I do not, like Ehrman, believe that those facts mean Scripture is not the inspired word of God. Again, I see this as being a false dichotomy.

"If faith is going to continue to meet with the data of critical scholarship then I just don’t see another way around it. You certainly cannot reject data simply because it does not fit into a certain taught system of beliefs. Some may be of the opinion that 'If my beliefs don’t hold up to the facts, then so much worse for the facts!' (to paraphrase Hegel). I don’t find myself in that category. Critical scholarship brings up valid points that need to be answered, appropriated, and interwoven into Christian theology. Otherwise Christianity will be nothing more than people holding onto to untenable positions with their heads in the sand of 16th century Geneva." (>>)

Sunday, January 11th, 2009 :: 2:42 AM

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obligated to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close." (>>)

Thursday, January 1st, 2009 :: 11:22 AM

"When your view of Scripture causes you to become a miserable, argumentative, ungraceful, uncharitable, unloving, and selfish person, you have missed the purpose of Scripture." (>>)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 :: 11:26 AM

"…the fact that something happened in the Bible doesn’t mean you can use that event as authoritative and mandatory for all believers and all situations. […] Will we ever learn the lesson that a true interpreter knows his/her interpretation is a human work, and a fragile one at best?" (>>)

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 :: 3:49 PM

"… 'conservative,' inerrancy loving evangelicals who claim to be doing verse by verse exegesis are often just hanging their own thoughts and advice onto a shallow reading of the text." (>>)

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 :: 12:30 PM

"I don’t want to go the route of carbon dating or dinosaurs or ice ages or tropical plants being found in glaciers, although that is an interesting conversation…especially when someone claims that dinosaurs were placed in the earth’s crust by Satan in order to test our faith in the Bible (and, yes, people actually say such nonsense)." (>>)

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 :: 4:47 PM

"At several points when Matthew 'quotes' the Old Testament I have gone back and read what he quoted and thought, 'Did all tax collectors smoke weed in the first century, or was it just Matthew?' " (>>)

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007 :: 1:43 PM

"This is why I long for something more. This is why we all look at each other, and ask ourselves why is it that we feel this ache, and why won’t it go away? This is why we find so much beauty in the midst of so much seemingly irrational disarray. THIS is why I am broken. THIS is why my heart breaks. THIS is what is to come. THIS is what redemption is and THIS is how all is being made right." (>>)

Friday, April 13th, 2007 :: 1:07 PM

"But just like Christ was both divine and human, I believe that Scripture is both divine and human… and we need to take both into account without sacrificing the other… which is what I’m trying to do. This is called 'concursus' by B.B. Warfield, 'accommodation' by John Calvin, and the 'incarnational analogy' by Peter Enns, and I think this does the most justice to the text." (>>)

Thursday, March 29th, 2007 :: 12:22 PM

"In a similar way, some take the beginning of Genesis and attempt to turn it into a work of science in order to prove that 144 hour creationism is the truth and Darwin was a liar all along. But doing this, Scripture is taken out of the context in which it is perfect (i.e. the context of teaching us about the Triune God and the gospel) and forced into a context in which it is not perfect. This is not because something is wrong with Scripture, it is because something is wrong with us in trying to make it say something that it does not attempt to say. God has given us 'everything needed for life and godliness,' not everything we need to write a Scientific American article on the origins of the universe." (>>)

Friday, March 9th, 2007 :: 11:17 AM

"I 'used' the bible a lot…reading it topically on subjects like baptism, predestination, homosexuality, women in ministry…mostly to prove the things I was being taught at the time (Which is strange if you think about it). Back then, we called it 'defending our faith.' I'm not sure what I call it now." (>>)

Monday, September 18th, 2006 :: 9:02 AM

"It was time someone told me the facts of SBC life, and I’m glad he did. He explained it in about 10 minutes, and neither this term nor its definition made any sense to me at all. In all my reading of Scripture, I had never thought to see the Bible in the terms he explained to me. I told him this, only to learn that if I didn’t believe in a 'perfect' Bible, I couldn’t have trustworthy information about Jesus, and therefore couldn’t have a relationship with Jesus and therefore couldn’t be saved. I left feeling quite annoyed, as I left with the same high opinion of Scripture and rigorous reading habits with which I’d come in. Only now I was 'unsaved' because I didn’t understand this strange thing called 'inerrancy.' […] I knew that was wrong, and I just couldn’t be there. It wasn’t an atmosphere that could sustain relationship with Jesus, or the life of the Church in the world. I didn’t know what could." (>>)

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 :: 1:14 PM

"Others relish the battlefield; Graham now prizes peace. He is a man of unwavering faith who refuses to be judgmental; a steady social conservative in private who actually does hate the sin but loves the sinner; a resolute Christian who declines to render absolute verdicts about who will get into heaven and who will not; a man concerned about traditional morality–he is still slightly embarrassed that he kissed 'two or three girls' before he kissed his wife–who will not be dragged into what he calls the 'hot-button issues' of the hour. Graham's tranquil voice, though growing fainter, has rarely been more relevant." (>>)

Saturday, May 6th, 2006 :: 2:38 PM

"Sometimes I feel as though the church has a kind of pity for Scripture, always having to come behind it and explain everything, put everything into actionable steps, acronyms and hidden secrets, as though the original writers, and for that matter the Holy Spirit who worked in the lives of the original writers, were a bunch of illiterate hillbillies." (>>)

Monday, March 6th, 2006 :: 10:07 PM

"As for my own struggle with these ideas, I've given into the Bible, which has been a long journey. Ultimately, I have come to allow the Bible to guide my understanding of God. Scripture seems to say things I don't like and things I like, which is not unlike truth. If I read a diet book that said 'eat anything you like and you wont get fat' I wouldn't trust it." (>>)

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006 :: 7:58 PM

"Similarly, a 'literal' interpretation of the Genesis accounts is inappropriate, misleading and unworkable. It presupposes and insists upon a kind of literature and intention that is not there. In so doing it misses the symbolic richness and spiritual power of what is there. And it subjects the biblical materials, and the theology of creation, to a completely pointless and futile controversy. The first questions in interpreting any part of Scripture are always, what kind of literature is one dealing with, and what issues are being addressed? One cannot merely assume from the superficial look of the material, as it appears to modern eyes, that the material is of the same order as what we might call history or science. One must first provide strong evidence from within the passage itself, and from a careful study of the theological and cultural context of the passage, as to the specific literary form and religious concern involved. When one does this, the literalist assumptions turn out to be far afield, and to have been brought to the passage as a precondition for its acceptance." (>>)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006 :: 8:18 PM

"Once you can make scripture stand on its hind legs and dance a jig, it becomes a tame pet rather than a roaring lion. It is no longer 'authoritative' in any strict sense; that is, it may be cited as through in 'proof' of some point or other, but it is not leading the way, energizing the church with the fresh breath of God himself. The question must always be asked, whether scripture is being used to serve an existing theology or vice versa." (>>)

Thursday, February 16th, 2006 :: 5:09 PM

"…the Bible is not a guidebook on how to live a moral life or grow successful churches. Nor is it a roadmap from our world to God’s heaven: one may not use it as if were the user’s manual for an iPod. While the Bible does contain key propositional truths, it first relates a story: God created the world and its people for his own enjoyment. The creation fell. In Israel, God called together a people for himself, through which he would save the entire world. This plan has culminated in Christ and his Church. Through us, God is bringing his redemption to bear upon the world." (>>)

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 :: 3:39 PM

"Or, for further example, say someone is facing a troubled marriage. He reads and discovers a sentence in 'Walden' that says, 'I did not speak to another person for over a month.' From this, he concludes that God is telling him to not argue with his spouse. The fact that this is a universe away from what Thoreau meant with that sentence would be irrelevant. This is how we would be using 'Walden' as a 'magic book.' Recognize the method? I think we all do. […] This isn’t a book of plans, principles and magic bullets for life’s problems. It is the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. […] it is possible to be so microscopic that you do miss the most obvious point of all." (>>)

Saturday, November 26th, 2005 :: 2:44 PM

"The Bible does present us with 'mute spirits,' as explanations for a loss of speech, but I believe this is the way an ancient culture explains something that would be explained medically today. If the mute person were examined by a modern western physician, it is doubtful that exorcism would be suggested as a treatment. It is unlikely that anyone today would ask 'Who sinned? This man or his parents?' when confronted with a medical problem such as blindness. That Jesus was incarnated into this ancient world and its explanations, and ministered as an exorcist/healer in this world, is appropriate. It shouldn’t alarm any Biblical interpreter. The point of the Gospels is not Jesus’ opinion of ancient medicine or psychology. We do not expect Jesus to be giving modern explanations for conditions that we understand very differently. Jesus was a person of his time, and he viewed and responded to mental and emotional illness as a person of his time." (>>)

Saturday, November 5th, 2005 :: 9:26 AM

"Scripture, by its own attestation (2Tim. 3:16) and through its use of multiple literary forms and genres, contains more than just propositional revelation. Thus, when we reduce the content of the biblical revelation to propositions we dangerously distort the text with modern philosophical assumptions about the nature of truth and meaning. The sort of postpropositional approach to Scripture I am calling for here is not one that denies that God speaks in Scripture in propositional form, but is an approach that acknowledges that God performs many different types of speech-acts in Scripture, and insists that conveying propositional truths is often not the primary point. There are a variety of revelational media referred to and employed in Scripture (cf. Heb. 1:1-2). A postpropositional approach to Scripture places its confidence in Scripture because of its ability to 'make us wise unto salvation,' not because it is a storehouse of universal, infallible true propositions. (This, in turn, suggests that evangelicals need to adjust their truth theories to accommodate the different ways in which Scripture is true.)" (>>)

Monday, August 22nd, 2005 :: 6:55 PM

"So I think we need to let go of the Bible as a modern book, but that doesn't mean we discard it. Not at all! When we let it go as a modern answer book, we get to rediscover it for what it really is: an ancient book of incredible spiritual value for us, a kind of universal and cosmic history, a book that tells us who we are and what story we find ourselves in so that we know what to do and how to live. That letting go is going to be hard for you evangelicals." (>>)

Thursday, August 18th, 2005 :: 12:35 PM

"It strikes me how rare these kinds of words, outlines, and dissective ways of thinking are in the Bible, which preocupies itself with earthy stories rather than airy abstractions, wild poetry rather than tidy systems, personal and contextual letters rather than timeless, absolute pronouncements or propositions. I have often wondered, Why doesn't the Bible consist of an ordered schema, like the average curriculum of a semenary? Of course, I'm not against our systematic theologies. I'm begining to see them as an artifact of worship from the modern era, no less sincere or magnificant than medieval cathedrals–in fact, you could call them modern conceptual cathedrals. Rather than condemning, I am simply noticing that our systematic theologies are themselves a modern phenomenon." (>>)

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