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Where do errors arise in biblical interpretation?

The first is misreading the text, the second is misunderstanding the context, and the third is not reading that section in light of the whole of that section.

The fourth is forgetting who it addresses--that is to say (allegorically) people of a certain heart or disposition.

The fifth is seeing these words distinct from a life that has been lived.

The sixth is to see the Old Testament without considering and making it separate from Wisdom, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and to see the New as separate from Christ's example.

The seventh is to see the Old Testament radically distinct from the New--what does Christ cast aside, what does He fulfill, and what does He do in His life?



We, first of all, are so easily lead into error. Furthermore, the impious, atheistic, agnostic, lukewarm, and indifferent will never read the Scriptures accurately. This does not mean the words are inaccessible; it is quite the opposite. The text is "not laid bare to mere children" but it "does not exhaust its riches to the wise and the learned" (Augustine). If all these errors are accounted for--no small task--and yet those words are not lived, their reading of it will amount to nothing.

If one comes to Scripture seeking honor or pride he will leave as a fool with neither. For the proud "puff up their chest" but the pious man "strikes his breast" (Augustine, Confessions, Book X). For "who could stand before you?" (Ps 130:3). The men above, the worst being the impious and indifferent, cannot access Scripture precisely because they deny (the possibility) of its truth. No man assents to what he does not trust or believe, but if this is so he cannot criticize such a text and life properly--he searches the words but does not see the grammar; he sees the story but not the lesson.


But to those Christians, those who look with disdain and haughty pity at those atheists and agnostics, you are even bigger fools! And perhaps I am chief among them if I dwell with them (that is, Christians such as these). For "Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord God. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?" (Ez 18:23). Likewise "I have no pleasure in the death [i.e., both physical death and those who live wickedly and disassociate themselves from God] of anyone who dies, says the Lord God. Return and live!" (Ez 18:32). Rather, you Christians who are no better than those ancient Jews, you puff yourselves up and yet in your hearts you "sacrifice to false gods" such as pride, honor, praise, haughtiness, among many other things. When you live so as to defame Christ, that is to say without mercy, kindness, compassion, and patience for the sinner--even despite his obstinate heart!--and bear His mark upon you in such a manner, you give just cause for non-believers to hate you, and unjust cause to hate Christ!


To my faithful brothers and sisters, assuredly greater than me, remember to "love thy enemy" and in all things be patient, kind, and loving. We are weak and, as the Jews, "chosen from the least of (the) peoples" (cf., Duet 7:6-7). Yet "[I endure all things]for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:10b). Do not forget that it is by His grace that we are where we are--do not ridicule those who are suffering physically, emotionally, or spiritually. For "Anyone who oppresses the poor [of any sort] is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God." (Prv 14:31), and all men are made in the image of God. Pray, brothers and sisters, for our own salvation, but more so for the salvation of the world and that "sinners may return to you" (Ps 51:13b).

Do not condescend--though I am often a principle offender--but "build the kingdom of God" (cf., 1 Thes 5:11). We must live Christ's life, and in doing so in our own individual way, we, as a people of one heart and mind, offer the greatest counter and defense of our faith. The joy that comes from Christ is due to each man, and it is not to be hidden or reserved for the few. Whether it is your work, intellect, prayer, community, or silence, let each of these in some small way speak of Christ. And when we fail in this, regret but do not despair. Rise and walk again, "carry your cross and follow me" (cf Lk 14:27).


Remember, then, that the greatest source of biblical errors is failing to live out a biblical life (i.e., Christ's life) and be challenged by it.

In order to live it you must pray it.
In order to pray it you must understand it.
In order to understand it you must study it.
In order to to study it you must read it.


-M
This piece came to me midday. I was contemplating holding off on it until I did my "Interpretation" piece, but I felt this was distinct enough. Beside, if I repeat myself a little in the future, it will probably be with greater clarity. I hope.

The purpose of this piece and its genesis came about by arguing with many concerning biblical interpretation. Much of it deals with those of a protestant disposition or background (but are now atheists).

Though this reflection is far from perfect and, in fact, perhaps not as strong as some would like, I think the latter 2/3, which is more an exhortation is worthwhile.

Criticisms more than welcome. The fool must be taught wisdom.

-M

____
Edit: Changed a few embarrassing spelling and syntax errors.
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:iconderroflcopter:
Derroflcopter Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014
"Furthermore, the impious, atheistic, agnostic, lukewarm, and indifferent will never read the Scriptures accurately."
I disagree. I think it's possible for non-Christians to read scripture about as accurately as Christians do, just not in the same way or for the same reasons. It's also totally possible for even well-meaning Christians to totally mess up their interpretation, as I just witnessed today with a fundamentalist using John 1 to try to say that the "Word of God" (which she took to be the Bible rather than Jesus Christ, the divine logos) is co-eternal and one with God. She just said revelation (in all of its glory in our lowly, ambiguous human language) = the Revelator. Yeah.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I disagree. I think it's possible for non-Christians to read scripture about as accurately as Christians do, just not in the same way or for the same reasons.

That sort of describes "accuracy" in this way: I shoot at a target at hit the ground, but it's accurate because that's where I was aiming. "Different ways and for different reasons" (paraphrased) just means that the Bible is someone's own personal interpretive slate.

I agree that well-meaning Christians, learned ones, bad ones, and everything in between can screw up Scripture. That's nothing new to me. But that's why there are standards beyond personal apprehension and interpretation that help illuminate the passages of Scripture.

Scripture is also a guide to spirituality and morals. Thus people who do not live moral lives (or spiritual ones) cannot apprehend in their current state the power of the text from an interpretive standpoint. In the aspect of conversion of heart and mind, Scripture holds greater power than any one man's interpretation, because at the point it's the work of the Spirit.

I just witnessed today with a fundamentalist using John 1 to try to say that the "Word of God" (which she took to be the Bible rather than Jesus Christ, the divine logos) is co-eternal and one with God. She just said revelation (in all of its glory in our lowly, ambiguous human language) = the Revelator. Yeah.

The "Bible" is co-eternal and one with God? *Sigh*

Many Christians are woefully ignorant of history, let alone Scripture. (and as for Revelator.... language).

This piece is old, too (2011). I've been hoping to update some of my stances.

Thanks for your comment.
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:iconreasonablebeliever:
ReasonableBeliever Featured By Owner May 18, 2014
the Bible is very hard to understand, atheist like to cherry-pick verses to show how "evil" our book is. If they read the books (cause the bible is a collection of books) in context, like your suppose to, there would be no debate.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner May 19, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
So how else is one supposed to interpret the Biblical God's bloodlust and acceptance of pedophilia? Context really doesn't help at all.
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:iconmetaknight964:
MetaKnight964 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2014
God has no pedophilia or bloodlust you're just sick-minded.
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:iconreasonablebeliever:
ReasonableBeliever Featured By Owner May 19, 2014
Old Testament my friend, read New Testament.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner May 19, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
1) The NT isn't much better in this regard. On top of that, Jesus says that he comes to preserve the old laws.

2) The OT is canon, is it not? If so, then my criticism still stands.
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:iconreasonablebeliever:
ReasonableBeliever Featured By Owner May 20, 2014
1. Why isn't it? show me the verse when he says it, he obviously says he is the truth, the way, and the life. So He's the new way.

2. Yes, so? doesn't mean anything. The old testament gives stories to teach lessons and talks about the coming messiah, which I fulfilled in the new testament. If you don't believe in god, god never killed anyone or said any of those things. read in context my friend.

look, We'll agree to disagree, if you want to continue send me a note ;)
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner May 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Well, maybe.

Even believers have debated Scripture since the beginning. Debate and multivalence isn't necessarily bad. But a plurality of ideas isn't necessarily always good either. It's never quite so easy.
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:iconreasonablebeliever:
ReasonableBeliever Featured By Owner May 19, 2014
Hmm, true true. Catholics for the win! :D
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:iconunclerice:
UncleRice Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It is a very complex book that was written for a very different culture than ours. As much as some like to paint it as evil, the reality was the neighbors of the Israelites and Early Christians were far worse. The Bible promoted a level of equality and good behavior that was superior to their neighbors who killed for fun, practiced human sacrifice, and treated women like cattle.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
who killed for fun

And the Israelites (if you believe the Bible) committed genocide against entire cities (including slaughtering young children) and indulged in pedophilia with their God's blessing.

practiced human sacrifice

Actually, the Biblical God also accepted human sacrifices.

treated women like cattle

In other words, just like the Israelites. Not that the original statement is true; last I saw, Egyptians had less institutionalized misogyny than the Israelites.
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:iconmetaknight964:
MetaKnight964 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2014
You need to stop spreading lies, including mixing truth with lies.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Everything I said there is accurate. The Biblical God tells the Israelites to kill the inhabitants of an entire city (including babies) save for the virgin girls, whom they were to "keep alive for themselves." If that isn't endorsing pedophilia, one has to wonder what it is.

There are several passages which shows God accepting human sacrifices (Japheth's daughter being one of them).

The Israelites treated women shamefully. The Egyptians treated women more like people than the Israelites ever did.
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:iconmetaknight964:
MetaKnight964 Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2014
When you brag about being right/accurate it can only mean the opposite. And God only ordered the execution of evil unrepentant people, and in attempt to make God and his people/followers look bad you try to make the terrible people they killed seem innocent/pure and pretend God accepts human sacrifices.


I sometimes take long to respond because I get a lot of replies from bigoted/intolerant people and terrible liars (like you). And also it just slips my mind sometimes.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
And God only ordered the execution of evil unrepentant people

Explain this line from Numbers 31, then:

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

While we're at it, explain this line from Hosea 13:

Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

Explain to me what those children and infants did to deserve being put to the sword. Besides, if your God(s) are okay with the summary execution of people who do not follow a specific religion, he is a tyrant who deserves to be overthrown, and those who stick with him are morally bankrupt.

If your God is so good and just, why did he demand all of those civilians to be killed, yet paid no heed to the atrocities committed by the Nazis?

and pretend God accepts human sacrifices.

Umm, what? Human sacrifice is explicitly mentioned in the Bible as something good little followers could get away with.

First off, there's the whole Isaac story, where God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. This means he was going to slit Isaac's throat, gut him, dismember him, then set his body on fire. One can only imagine what Isaac was thinking, since he is implied to be a child.

Then there's this one from Judges 11 skepticsannotatedbible.com/jg/… . Jephthath promises to make a burnt offering of the first person to greet him on return from his military campaign if God helps him win. He winds up sacrificing his daughter.

Finally, there's the war booty doled out in Numbers 31, which included the girls (none older than about 12) whom the Israelites were instructed to "keep alive for themselves." A portion of them were to be given to the Levite priests. In context, this is a human sacrifice, since the offering given the Levites also included animals.

So yes, your God(s) accepted human sacrifice; your own holy book states it outright. You might want to actually read the Bible someday, and not just the parts your pastor tells you to read.

I sometimes take long to respond because I get a lot of replies from bigoted/intolerant people and terrible liars (like you).

Since when did criticism become "intolerant?" No idea is sacred; any idea must stand on its own merits. If you find criticism so bad, maybe your idea was terrible to begin with.
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:iconmetaknight964:
MetaKnight964 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2014
There's no evidence Isaac was a child or that he was forced to be sacrificed or that he was frightened, and I see the divine intervention part went over your head. You haven't given criticism, just lies/slander (mixed with some truth). Those interpretations of Numbers 31 and Hosea 13 is just 1 of many so it's gonna take more than that to change my beliefs. The girls had to be taken in by certain people being they're evil parents and teachers were dead. The Bible doesn't mention God ever accepting human sacrifice no matter how much you want it to. And There's no proof God ordered his people to kill the people mentioned in Hosea 13. Also don't lecture me, and ideas have nothing to do with this. One more thing, I don't have a pastor, don't make assumptions about me to protect your ego.
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:iconmclandis:
Mclandis Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
There's no evidence Isaac was a child or that he was forced to be sacrificed or that he was frightened, and I see the divine intervention part went over your head

If read the Bible yes there is. There are several things we can conclude by reading the story alone:

1) The Bible never states Isaac's age, so he could have been an adult. However, Abraham is stated to have picked Isaac up and laid him down upon the alter (implying either on his back or laying face down). If Isaac is an adult, then Abraham is either very strong or Isaac is small and thin. Neither is stated and Isaac is Abraham's only child at that point, so the default implication is that Isaac is a child. Furthermore, if Isaac were an adult, he would already be married with children of his own given the time period. Again, this means the default assumption is that Isaac is still a child.

2) Abraham states that he and Isaac are going to "worship" on the mountain top. When Isaac asks Abraham where the sacrificial animal is, Abraham does not tell him the complete truth, meaning that Isaac is misled into believing that this is a regular burnt offering until his own father comes after him with a knife. Yes, this means he is being forced into being the sacrifice.

3) "Divine intervention" is irrelevant to my point. If Yaweh is omniscient, he already knows what Abraham will do ahead of time, so the whole thing is just needless suffering for Abraham (he's about to silt his only child's throat) and shear terror for Isaac (his own father is coming after him with a knife while he's helpless). That is evil in multiple ways; being good is about protecting the innocent, not abusing them.

 Those interpretations of Numbers 31 and Hosea 13 is just 1 of many so it's gonna take more than that to change my beliefs.

Interpretation? I used the literal words of the Bible. There isn't much room for interpretation here, and the Bible is fairly unambiguous that these passages are to be taken as a literal war history of the Hebrews. I love how some Christians insist the Bible is literal until they read the nasty parts.

The girls had to be taken in by certain people being they're evil parents and teachers were dead.

The Israelites could have instead, ya know, not committed genocide. Apparently, murdering an entire city, including the male babies (so much for the pro-life claims eh?), can be excused when your god(s) tell you to do it.

So, the best your god(s) could think of for what to do with those girls was "keep the alive for yourselves," aka slavery? An omnipotent and good deity could have come up with any number of outcomes which did not require such bloodshed and enslavement. By the way, the Israelites would have treated them as concubines, so Yaweh would be the perfect guest for Chris Hansen.

The Bible doesn't mention God ever accepting human sacrifice no matter how much you want it to.

The Bible doesn't he doesn't accept it, either. Again, if you actually bother to read the Bible, he does accept human sacrifices.

This is Numbers 31: skepticsannotatedbible.com/num…
Giving people as "an offering to the Lord" is an unambiguous human sacrifice (those people, by the way, were the Midianite girls who we were discussing above).

Here's Judges 11: skepticsannotatedbible.com/jg/…
Jephthath explicitly makes a pact with Yaweh saying he he will make a burnt offering of the first person who comes to meet him if Yaweh grants him a military victory. Yaweh does exactly that, and Jephthath winds up sacrificing his daughter. Yaweh does not refuse this pact, by the way, so he expects Jephthath to uphold his end of the bargain. Again, this is very clearly a human sacrifice; there is no other interpretation without serious intellectual dishonesty. Ironically, had this story not been in the Bible, Christians everywhere would call it a satanic ritual, yet because it is a Biblical story, the same Christians have no problems with the story.

And There's no proof God ordered his people to kill the people mentioned in Hosea 13.

Only if you verse 4 of the chapter, which states that Yaweh himself is speaking. So yes, your deity is stating that very line about killing babies and pregnant women: skepticsannotatedbible.com/hos…

 Also don't lecture me, and ideas have nothing to do with this.

You're the one who said criticism is intolerance, even though it most definitely is not. There are no beliefs which are so sacred as to be immune to outside criticism.

One more thing, I don't have a pastor

Then you should have no problems reading the Bible with an inquiring and open mind. It has all of the evil bits that I've stated, and much more; the open-minded tend to realize early on that the Biblical God is evil.
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(1 Reply)
:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
While the "culture" claim may also be true, it's always worthwhile to point out that Scripture captures more than 1,200 years by textual dating (and oral tradition perhaps goes much longer). Thus there isn't one "different culture" but in fact many, many cultures that are represented in Scripture and in the people of God.

Not only is it a story of Israel's (the people's) virtue, but also their many mistakes and misappropriations of God's word. We never think of the prophets or moreso kings, judges, and leaders doing what is contrary to the law. Furthermore, how well Israel and the Rabbis were to record it.
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:iconkyrtuck:
kyrtuck Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Somehow I don't think I misread the Book of Leviticus sucking so much. I don't think I misread all the inane "such and such married whats his face" geneaology stuff. I don't think I misread all the OT battles and their completely improbable head counts. I don't think I misread God hardening people's hearts. I don't think I misread Jesus willingly choosing to go to the cross making it all look like suicide. I don't think I misread Paul's homophobia and saying "women shouldn't teach men". I don't think I misread the insane monster infested heap of batshit that is Book of Revelations.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Sounds like you studied it pretty well.
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:iconopinionsprofile:
OpinionsProfile Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014
I have read it and find it to be a reprehensible book on the whole: opinionsprofile.deviantart.com…
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014
The bible is full of vile things that no amount of context can justify, especially in a book that supposedly is a moral guide to life. How does context justify rape, murder, genocide, infanticide and other intolerable cruelties? I can think of no legitimate excuse. I was a christian for a very long time- I know the bible, and it played its part in making me an atheist. 
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
"Context" is a loose way of putting it. Again, this piece is about study.

If you think every phrase in Scripture is a "moral guide for life" then you were not taught how to read the Bible, simply given a vague ideology or a dull tool to apply to the entirety of a book, really a series of books, that must be approached jointly (as a whole) and individually from their own context.
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014
To me, it comes off as yet another attempt at justifying the bible, despite its injustifiability- intellectually and morally. 

That is what it purports to be, both at anintellectual platform as well as a broader subject- a guide for life, the actual word of god given to humanity. One wonders why such a book, either written by god himself or inspired directly by him, would neglect to condemn simple things like rape or bullying, but endorses child abuse and slavery. And if it is not the word of god, then what good is it to a believer?
(That's a very serious question on that last part.)
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
If you're claiming "that what it purports to be" you have to provide evidence that it speaks about itself as an "antiintellectual platform" (which it does not).

You, taking the cue from other Christian groups who believe in "sola scriptura," hold that the Bible is merely "a guide for life" when even Scripture speaks of extra-scriptural things as being guides for life (e.g., other people, teaching practices, laws, etc.). Likewise saying "actual word of God given to humanity" is a phrase by which a number of people may presume a number of things about the words and the phrase. It's vague and leaves itself open to many errors.

Likewise, many have tried to quote the obvious contradictions you state but do so, again, without any ounce of literary criticism. Anyone can ignorantly comment on words, believer or not. I've never seen a law that said, "As the Bible says: rape women." If we can find no such laws on systems of law made from Scripture it seems likely that WE have misinterpreted the word.
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014
I did not say it purports itself to be something as an "anti-intellectual platform", no. I said that it purports to be the word of god, a moral guide. Is this incorrect? 

I didn't suggest that a christian had to take it as the only guide to life, no. So, which one is it- the literal word of god, inspired by god but flawed by man's hand, or simply done by man's hand? 

The bible does not actually say "rape women", but that's not what I said. What I do say is this: the bible sees fit to clearly condemn murder, theft and perjury, but to my knowledge it never clearly says "don't rape". That's a serious problem for a book held up to be just and righteous- especially when it contains genocide, terror and all manners of evils which no amount of context can justify, if the book is meant to be seen as a message from god to mankind. 
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:icondarkriderdlmc:
DarkRiderDLMC Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2014
I don't think God (whatever or whoever it may be) cares which of the many paths available one follows to find it.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
And what leads you to that conclusion?

It's a nice thought, but it should be grounded and supported by some rationale.
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:icondarkriderdlmc:
DarkRiderDLMC Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014
Well, every "Good Book" of the three main religions claims that the God it holds the Holy Words of is The God, The One True God, The Only True God, Accept No Substitutions, Etc.

There is only one way for all three to be right, if the "Good Books" are the words of man, not God and whatever God is, he/she/it had no favorites among the children, didn't bother to write a tract for them to follow and hopes that each of us will grow enough during our allotted time to not totally shame him/her/it - they are all praying to the same entity, which they've cloaked in various descriptions to allow them selves to get a "feel" for something so much more infinite than themselves.

Of course, it's just as likely that the various Gods of the Good Books are no more relevant to reality than the Easter Bunny or Great Cluck, other than the millions of savageries committed in their various names.

I, like any other believer or non-believer, have a theory without fact to back it up.
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:iconazabachesilver:
AzabacheSilver Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It took me a while to realize that God wants everyone to come to him.  It's too easy to condemn others to push yourself up only in your own eyes.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
Tread lightly on the esoteric talk. I find no foundation for saying a person without faith cannot understand scripture--this statement is baseless and only leads to an elitist mentality. Like there can only be a select elect that can lead, which is just the case. God uses all people of all walks of life. And scripture is certainly not encrypted.
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:iconvader999:
Vader999 Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012
A person without faith can't understand scripture because he cannot understand its context. The context of an all powerful God acting through a small group of people in a manner that the Christian God does seems weird and contradictory to earthly eyes, but in the eyes of faith makes perfect sense. Even Peter was guilty of seeing things in such a context, and Jesus rebuked him for seeing things not the way God sees it, but the way man sees it. You can't see things the way God sees things without faith in Him, which is the first, basic building block of understanding, knowing, and loving God. It's the kind of thinking that narrows the understanding of God and rather, makes God look like an asshole, a jerk or a bully, without seeing things from HIS point of view, and act which can only be accomplished in faith.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
Disagree with your assertions here.
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:iconvader999:
Vader999 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
In faith and in good works one can understand God. But without faith, without trust in God, we have nothing but ourselves and our possessions, which will either come and go or stay at God's command. But faith in Him is something hat nobody can takeaway, and that is the singular thread by which we commune with God through prayer. To properly pray, one must have faith.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
That has nothing to do with the context. We are speaking about understanding scripture. And you are creating a false dichotomy
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:iconvader999:
Vader999 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
It has everything to do with the context. Understanding scripture requires a point of view coming from faith.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
no it doesn't. That's a fallacy
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:iconvader999:
Vader999 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
The book itself sees things from a faith based point of view. That says volumes about your erroneous thought.
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(1 Reply)
:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Sorry, but it doesn't. Many people can read words but not understanding. We expect the same from doctors about medicine, scientists in their field, and many others of many other things. It's not elitist but simply the way it is. Scripture is easy to access but difficult to fully imbibe and understand. It is easy to enter into but can confound even the most educated.

If you also read Scripture you would see that God gives some the gift of interpretation, teaching, or prophecy among other things. Scripture also speaks of leaders selected, not to reign as heartless kings, but men elevated from the people the have come from to be leaders. This is in many books of Scripture, Thesselonians and Romans for starters. God uses all people in all walks of life but with many different gifts, some more public and others more private.

Scripture is not encrypted like a secret text, as if it were Gnostic, but to those who hate God, do not desire wisdom, or are committed to sin they will neither heed wise words (whether from Scripture or men) nor really understand Scriture. Even Scripture says that the wicked man and the non-believe (both not always the same thing, mind you) are thrown into confusion by the word of God.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
I'm sad you feel this way. But we understand only by the word--and how do we hear the word? Often, I think it's all these preachings, teachings and prophecings that do a great deal to damn Christianity. God's word is very self-explanatory. Further disagreement on scripture is not misunderstanding of scripture. I know plenty of people that understand the ideas put forth by scripture but they simply reject God and scripture. This isn't even a matter to debate--it's a matter of fact. So I agree, people are given differing gifts. And perhaps we can say teaching is one of them--but teaching does not need to involve de-encription of text. We don't need lessons of root words to dig out deeper means. And usually the cultural context is in the literal context of the passage. When reading Philippians it is obvious that Paul is in bondage and we don't need a commentary to tell us this... just for example. Literary understanding should be obtainable by anyone with an ability to read.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You shouldn't feel sad because I don't think you really understand what I'm saying in full. In fact this quote should have allayed some of your sadness:
We, first of all, are so easily lead into error. Furthermore, the impious, atheistic, agnostic, lukewarm, and indifferent will never read the Scriptures accurately. This does not mean the words are inaccessible; it is quite the opposite. The text is "not laid bare to mere children" but it "does not exhaust its riches to the wise and the learned" (Augustine). If all these errors are accounted for--no small task--and yet those words are not lived, their reading of it will amount to nothing.


God's word is very self-explanatory. Further disagreement on scripture is not misunderstanding of scripture. I know plenty of people that understand the ideas put forth by scripture but they simply reject God and scripture.

I did not say they could comprehend nothing, but they will not see it clearly. Scripture is written for the unbeliever and believer alike, but so that both may believe and hope in what is promised and not as mere amusement or as a pick-and-choose buffet. This goes for Christians and non-Christians.

But the totality of it is the wisdom of God as applied to human life. If we can't figure out our own lives we may also have difficulties reading Scripture. Comprehending its full cohesion is likewise a difficult task that not all can complete.

Likewise, even simple and self-explanatory things can be misunderstood, misread, or rejected, so it doesn't really help to say "God's word is self-explanatory." If it was, all would believe.

God's word is very self-explanatory. Further disagreement on scripture is not misunderstanding of scripture. I know plenty of people that understand the ideas put forth by scripture but they simply reject God and scripture.

You'd probably be surprised that it's not always the case.

When reading Philippians it is obvious that Paul is in bondage and we don't need a commentary to tell us this... just for example.

Ha ha, yes, but why he is in bondage, where he writes from, who he is writing to may also give helpful clues and hints as to what he's saying more clearly. Again, Scripture is written for all, but we can also very easily ignore the many contexts--this can be done by something as simple as inattention. Not sure why you have to have a mini-war against reading Scripture more properly when I'm suggesting further study, prayer, and time with it.
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
You say, "If it was, all would believe."
Which is logical fallacy.
You also say, "Comprehending its full cohesion is likewise a difficult task that not all can complete."
To which I say, so what?! The greater interwoven specifics of scripture do not pertain to the broader story of redemption. Or more specifically--lets not major in the minor specifics that do not necessarily lead one to christ--but in fact lead down a path of bigotry and division.

You Say, "...but we can also very easily ignore the many contexts--this can be done by something as simple as inattention."
Please, explain to me how if Christ crucified is the foundational understanding, than how can a minor misconception of context be a major issue?

This "mini-war" is about dogmatic approaches to scripture. We have thousands of translations that individuals can jump between at a click of a button. We can see context and text from many different perspectives all day long. If a person wants to dig deep--books are available everywhere. Commentaries, dictionaries, hebrew-greek-arabic concordances, etc... am I to agree that we should discount all these works and say a person should have a spiritual awakening before they can make sense of scripture??? That just is absurd, and is an insult of all our past scholars.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Yup, just a logical fallacy. Nothing deficient on your end.

To which I say, so what?! The greater interwoven specifics of scripture do not pertain to the broader story of redemption. Or more specifically--lets not major in the minor specifics that do not necessarily lead one to christ--but in fact lead down a path of bigotry and division.

When done poorly. Or does Scripture not have many layers of cohesion?

Please, explain to me how if Christ crucified is the foundational understanding, than how can a minor misconception of context be a major issue?

Look to other things in your life to see where this is the case.

The Apostles were with Christ and made mistakes by simple inttetion or by misunderstandings. We are the beneficiaries of them and the communities that produced Scripture. Much like sin, a minor sin can be the cause of a greater sin. A minor misunderstanding the grounds for greater ones.

This "mini-war" is about dogmatic approaches to scripture. We have thousands of translations that individuals can jump between at a click of a button. We can see context and text from many different perspectives all day long.

I see. So what was dogmatic about this piece again?
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:iconchristian-student:
Christian-Student Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
you, "I see. So what was dogmatic about this piece again?"
I'll give an example of a thought based in dogmatism, taken from your post, "Furthermore, the impious, atheistic, agnostic, lukewarm, and indifferent will never read the Scriptures accurately."
If this above statement isn't dogmatic, I don't know the meaning of the word.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I see, so when Scripture says that that's the case, and when you advocate the simplicity of the dictates of Scripture, I'm being dogmatic.

Rather, it's you who are being needlessly dogmatic with claims of "it's all just so simple, it's just about salvation and the small stuff doesn't matter" (and the like). Or as you said, "The greater interwoven specifics of scripture do not pertain to the broader story of redemption. Or more specifically--lets not major in the minor specifics that do not necessarily lead one to christ.</i>"


Dogmatism leads to bigotry when coupled with fanaticism, but it seems like your own hidden dogmatism leads you to fruitless confrontation.
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(1 Reply)
:iconmichelehansen:
MicheleHansen Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Your closing statement reminds me of a statement I once heard at a Lectors' seminar. "EAT THIS BOOK!!!" i.e. If you don't know The Word, you can't properly proclaim The Word.

Been a long time since I stood at tha Ambo, and I don't miss it. I'm back singing in the choir. :D :la:
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ha ha, nice. Yes, I just was instituted as a lector this year and prefer it over the choir, so you can have it!
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:icontillshilohcomes:
TillShilohComes Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2012
Just found this one. Very well written. Well done!
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks!
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