Showing posts with label Inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inspiration. Show all posts

Monday, May 09, 2022

Anonymous Asks (196)

“Do the Bible’s claims to be true make it so?”

A claim is not proof, but neither is it nothing at all. If God really chose the medium of written communication to express himself to mankind, we would not expect him to be coy about his authorship.

As it turns out, scripture is quite frank about where it comes from.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Getting Reading Right

So I got talking with a guy the other day.

Those of you who know me know I’ve made my career among secular people. Philosophy being my thing, I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of different sorts of people — many very far from Christian. But in this case, I was talking to a youngish Christian who had been pulled sideways by reading too much of the Unitarians and various Gnostic sects before getting his grounding in scripture. He’s got shaken about the general reliability of scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and a variety of other issues, and he’s working his way through them.

I asked him what he thought was the touchstone of truth. He’d already expressed doubts about large sections of scripture, so I wanted to know what he was relying on to show him what was reliable and what wasn’t.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

When Analogies Fail

We do the best we can when we try to explain the word of God to others. It’s not always an easy task, and frequently we are in over our heads.

Sometimes we come up with our own illustrations to try to clarify a scriptural concept for our audience; to put it in terms to which they may find it easier to relate. I have heard the occasional helpful analogy over the years. I have also heard plenty that had the potential to leave a listener with entirely the wrong impression.

For instance, even with the best of intentions, the apostle Paul and the other writers of holy writ are not aptly compared to word processing programs or keyboards.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Colorblindness, Privilege and Inspiration

Dependability is a great thing.

Whenever I find myself with nothing obvious to write about, it’s a huge relief to know that in a pinch I can always rely on Rachel Held Evans to have written something worthy of polite dissection. Today is no exception.

The inimitable Ms Evans holds forth here on the subject of her own “sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” after an unfortunate non-PC slip of the tongue at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Indirect Evidence for Inspiration

In an era when not just politicians, lawyers and Muslims but average men and women increasingly play fast and loose with truth, one may forgive a little scepticism when someone makes a claim.

All scripture is breathed out by God”, Paul once wrote to Timothy.

That is a pretty significant assertion, and it is not one that can be substantiated by direct evidence. Christians cannot produce Polaroids of Paul or David in the process of writing the words of God surrounded by a nimbus or with an angel handing them a scroll. Nor can eyewitnesses confirm the presence of any Spirit Being overshadowing, indwelling, controlling or directing the authors of scripture. They are all long gone, if such witnesses ever existed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Not Her Voice

Everybody wants to be heard. That’s understandable.

To understand and be fully understood is one of the greatest possible states to which human beings may aspire. When perfection comes, “I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known,” says the apostle.

That suggests very strongly that those of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ are already as fully known as we will ever need or want to be. Think about that for a bit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A Gap Anticipated

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The Bible repeatedly claims to be God-breathed, both in its component parts and in its entirety. Statements to the effect that God has spoken are made several hundred times in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel alone, and they are sprinkled liberally through the rest of the scripture. Other writers and speakers in the Bible made similar assertions to that which Paul makes here: that the whole thing (Law, Prophets, Psalms, Letters, Gospels) is God speaking, right down its glyphs and diacritics in the original languages.

Stop and think about that a moment.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Order in Disorder

The book of Judges records some of the most distasteful tales in all of scripture, and does so unflinchingly and without a great deal of unnecessary editorializing. There is much we can learn about human nature from the first few hundred years of Israel’s possession of the land God had promised to Abraham, almost all of it predictably bad. Few would dispute that the book ends on the lowest of low notes, with the oft-repeated declaration that “In those days there was no king in Israel” and the rare editorial conclusion, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

As we might expect, everyone’s “right” turned out to be spectacularly wrong.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Getting Reading Right

The most recent version of this post is available here

Monday, January 15, 2018

The 1,600 Year Conspiracy

We made him up.

Or so goes the story. By “him” I mean Jesus Christ. By “we” I mean human beings with an agenda.

On the surface it’s not a bad thesis. After all, you can’t rigorously prove biblical inspiration. Oh, you can make the claim, and you can demonstrate from the text that the apostles, prophets and Jesus himself claimed it too. You can make the case that inspiration is a reasonable and logical inference, and you can argue it from the sorts of behaviors these supposedly sacred words produce in the lives of those who obey them.

But can you demonstrate with 100% scientific certainty that the text of our Bibles is really God speaking? No.

And if it isn’t? Well, then ... we made him up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Of Words and Wording

Which version of the Old Testament did Jesus use?

Being a Jew, one might expect him to quote from the Hebrew scriptures, which would surely have been the “official” word of God in his day. But this was not always the case. Craig Evans makes the case that the Lord often quoted from a well-known Greek translation of the proto-Masoretic Hebrew, and even occasionally from the Aramaic tradition.

If you find that odd, here’s something odder: once in a while, a non-literal translation is more useful than a literal one.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Almost But Not Quite Circular

Claims are not proof. But nobody looks for proof unless some kind of claim has first been made.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Andy Stanley’s assertion that the Genesis account of Adam and Eve is history, not just spiritually valuable mythology. For Andy, it is how Jesus spoke about Adam and Eve that is definitive.

I agree with him on at least two things: first, that Genesis is historical, and second, that the words of Christ are of vital importance to the believer. They are there to be pored over, memorized, analyzed with all the faculties God has given us, meditated upon and lived out wherever they apply to our lives.

Good so far. And then, me being me, I have to lob a monkey wrench into the machinery.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Heft and Substance of Cobweb

The other day I referenced an Andy Stanley quote about the historicity of Adam and Eve. Andy believes Adam and Eve were historical because Jesus believed they were historical — or so he argues.

I agree with Andy that Adam and Eve were real, flesh-and-blood human beings, not mere symbols or allegories. Making the first couple mythical upends a great big nasty can of worms all over the pages of our New Testament. Let’s not do that.

Unfortunately, the way Andy has framed his argument gives it the heft and substance of cobweb.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Commentariat Speaks (7)

“ ‘The Bible was codified and given to the world by the Catholic Council of Nicaea in the 4th century. It’s indisputable. The Catholic Church gave us the Bible.’

‘Er ... so what? Think God couldn’t have managed if they didn’t?’ ”

— Exchange in a website commentary

Miracles are rare things. If they weren’t, more people would believe in them. How many have there been? Christian Answers lists 124, some of which I think are a little dubious. About Religion lists 37 different miracles attributed to the Lord Jesus, but we know he did many more. When Jesus went through Galilee healing “every disease and every affliction among the people”, that had to seriously bump up the number.

The answer is probably in the tens of thousands.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

It’s Alive!

Sometimes you can learn as much by the way something is said as you can from the content of the message itself.

The incidental assumptions upon which the teaching of the apostles is based are often as fascinating and revealing as the assertions of truth themselves. Their absolute conviction with respect to the source, nature, reliability and accuracy of the word of God is the bedrock upon which every Christian doctrine rests.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Not Her Voice

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Close Encounters of the Philosophical Kind

Eric English is emerging. We’re not altogether sure what he’s emerging into, and it actually seems to be kind of intangible. I’m trying to grab onto it, and it’s floating away even as I type. Its essence is something like this:

“The WORD OF GOD is a moment that a human being encounters.”

I hope I’m not misrepresenting Mr. English’s position. He starts from the claim that the Bible is not the word of God, and that to assert that the Bible is God’s word is to diminish what it means to possess the ‘word of God’.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Does the Bible Need a Disclaimer?

Perhaps a little something like this?
The following ultra-litigation-conscious, politically correct disclaimer comes from the first page of a current reprint of G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man on my bookshelf:

“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race have changed before allowing them to read this classic work.”

I had to laugh out loud at the naivete of anyone worried about modern children reading Chesterton. The publishers are, regrettably, quite safe from legal repercussions on that front.

Monday, August 17, 2015

When Analogies Fail

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Colorblindness, Privilege and Inspiration

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Indirect Evidence for Inspiration

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Crazy Uncle

Normally, I’d leave something like this alone. It is, after all, the Huffington Post, and anything they have to say on the subject of Christianity is almost guaranteed to be dismissive, frivolous and poorly informed.

But hey, it provides a useful lead-in to something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

In an article entitled “3 Reasons Why Apostle Paul Is the Crazy Uncle No One Wants to Talk About”, Pete Enns argues that “Paul’s handling of his Bible makes him look like the crazy uncle you make excuses for or avoid entirely”.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Which Jesus Do You Worship?

The world is full of frustrated people. Some of them are even Christians. Specifically, some dissatisfied searchers are looking to understand Jesus Christ.

Now on the surface that sounds like a very good thing, doesn’t it? Pursuing understanding of the Lord Jesus is about the finest activity in which a human being can be engaged, at least in my experience.

But there are ways of pursuing the knowledge of Christ that may be quite a let-down; roads of spiritual inquiry which we may travel only to find a dead end or a bridge out.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Moment That A Human Being Encounters

A more current version of this post is available here.