Inerrant Bible, fallible interpretation?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Matt Black, May 31, 2006.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    This has always kind of bugged me: the Christians who insist on Biblical inerrancy are often also those who deny that there is any kind of infallible teaching authority to interpret the Bible. So what's the point? What's the point of having an infallible Bible if the best we poor humans can come up with is a fallible interpretation?
     
  2. jtown5

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    Pointless

    Our messages and those of any proclaimer should be just as inspired when we speak them as they were when God gave the orinal message to the writers. We have a duty to say what God says, that takes inspiration. This inspiration should not be of human origin. The Holy Spirit is the proclaimer. Matthew 10:18-20 paraphrased (take no thought what you will say when you stand(preach,teach) to be judged(we are judge more harshly that teach the Word)for in that hour I will speak through you). Let each vesel given to proclamtion be yielded in this mind, for it is Christ in you who speaks, thus is infallibility certain.

    Blessings,
    Jtown5
     
  3. mman

    mman
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    We can know the truth (John 8:32), but just because we believe something does not make it truth (II Tim 4:1-4). Some people don't want the truth, because it is not pleasant to the ears, but would rather hear a message that is pleasing to the ears. I can't think of anything more pleasing to the ears than "once you are saved, there is nothing you can do to lose your salvation" and "belief only will save you". How could this be relaxed any futher???

    Some people do not have a love for the truth and will be condemned (II Thess 2:10-12).

    Few people "find" the narrow way (Matt 7:14). God is looking for people who are dilligently seeking him (Heb 11:6), not for people who are "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph 4:14).

    If all intrepretation were inerrent, it would not be possible for those "which are untaught and unstable" to "twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." - II Pet 3:16
     
  4. Matt Black

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    So what's the point of an inerrant Bible then?
     
  5. J. Jump

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    I think it's been pretty well said, but we are not guaranteed an infallible interpretation of Scripture. We have the Perfect teacher in the Holy Spirit, but as mman said we can choose to either believe the Spirit or not.

    The Spirit has not taught all of these different doctrines, so it is our duty to pray and seek the Truth and then believe it when it is revealed to us. And this Truth can be revealed directly to us through the Spirit and the Scriptures in combonation or the Spirit can use a preacher/teacher to preach the Truth. But that doesn't mean that all preachers and teachers are teaching the Truth.
     
  6. J. Jump

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    The point of an inerrant Bible is so that we can know that the God we serve is perfect. Because if He wasn't then he would be just like us only a lot smarter, but still not perfect.

    Why would anyone want to serve and/or worship an imperfect god?

    With the inerrancy of the Bible we can know that there is one singular Truth, and that if we will listen to the Spirit He will guide us into that Truth.

    Unfortunately some don't want to be guided. They instead want to see what they want to see in Scripture. (On a side not I think that is true of all of us to some extent, because I'm not sure that anyone [human being] that is that has 100% of the truth - I'm still trying to figure out if that is a possibility given our fallen nature)
     
  7. Jim1999

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    I believe plenary, verbal inspiration applies to the original documents, but not to any subsequent translation. Personally, I believe that the thoughts have been preserved in that we have sufficient information, when correctly understood, leaves us with the words of God. Do I have chapter and verse to support this? No!

    So far as fallible people making incorrect interpretations, we have this in all literature. People can lend their own undrstanding to common literature, such as Milton, Shakespeare and even common law. This is why we have supreme courts and judicial enquiries. Even lawyers, schooled in the laws of the land, differ in their interpretation of those laws.

    This is also why we have rules of interpretation; hermeneutics. This is why we have theology; the orderly garden of the whole of scripture. This is why we compare scripture with scripture to determine what is a right understanding.

    If we spent as much time seeing the positive aspects of the Word of God, as we spend tearing it apart, we would have sufficient information to bring us to a knowledge of the truth.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  8. music4Him

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    The bible isn't the problem... its the men who get the wrong interpretation or those who twist scripures to suit their needs. I like what Paul said...


    1Cor 2:2-5

    2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

    3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

    4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

    5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    :praise: :Fish:
     
  9. Matt Black

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    But, given that men consistently get the wrong interpretation, what's the point?
     
  10. Jim1999

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    Matt, maybe that just means we ought not to be so dogmatic, and allow that others may just be right.

    I always like that story about the "many mansions in heaven." The new member of heaven's families, enquires about the different mansions prepared by God. The guide says, That mansion is for the Anglicans. They think they are the only ones here.

    Cheers, mate,

    Jim
     
  11. music4Him

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    Well the point???
    Well maybe we ought to let the women have a go at it? :wavey:

    **music4Him ducking for cover** :laugh: :D :smilewinkgrin:
     
  12. Matt Black

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    :laugh::thumbs:
     
  13. Chemnitz

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    What's the point? Matt, you sound rather defeatist. At least in God's Word, there is something in this world that we can point to and say this is absolutely perfectly true. Don't let human imperfection denegrate God's perfection.

    I get the feeling you are reacting to the people who insist upon personal interpretation. Coming from a confessional background not something I can exactly relate to, because we believe interpretation should happen in the community of believers not in isolation. This is why we insist that exigetical studies take into account historical and contemporary thought.

    Besides the striving for greater understanding of God's perfect word is the goal of every Christian.

     
  14. Matt Black

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    You gauge correctly. I just get a bit tired of arguments which purport to end with "Scripture says..."
     
  15. Chemnitz

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    Oh yes, I love those kind of arguments. I once read a website laying out why Rock music is evil and what makes good Christian music and they quoted a verse in isolation, as they usually do on this site. This particular verse was funny because taken in context they were arguing for Christians to be dancing around the city streets like a harlot. Interesting stuff when you are at the same time accusing rock music of that very thing.

    I'll be honest though it is an easy trap to fall in.
     
  16. stan the man

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    Private judgement (part 1)
    (Here is a little bit of history) This doctrine was created and defined as a deliberate reaction against and rejection of historic Christian teaching. Ever since the earliest days of Church history, Christians had held that theology must be formulated according to three principles—Apostolic Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, and the Apostolic Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church. The first two of these provided the data necessary to conduct theological investigation while the third served to authoritatively formulate the correct interpretation of the data presented by the two material sources. Thus Scripture and Tradition served as material principles of theology, while the Magisterium, by enabling us to know with certainty the correct interpretation of this material, served as a formal principle of theology.

    Because the Protestant Reformers wished to hold teachings which were completely foreign to historic Christian theology, they had to reject the historic Christian method of formulating theology, and thus could not continue to accept the three principles of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. They had to reject the teachings of the Magisterium because the Magisterium disagreed with them, and they likewise had to reject Tradition as a source, for it also disagreed with them. They were thus left in the position of trying to formulate theology in terms of a single principle—Scripture—and thus the doctrine of sola scriptura was born.

    All of this is admitted, with varying qualifiers, by Protestant historians, as it is simply a historical fact that the doctrine of sola scriptura arose later in history than the original teachings of the Reformers. The Reformers proposed these teachings to the Church and, when the Magisterium refused to change it position and reaffirmed the historic Christian teachings on these matters, the Reformers were forced to eliminate both Magisterium and history (Tradition) from their theological method.

    If the Magisterium, contrary to its mission and its indefectability, had changed its position and rejected the historic Christian teachings in favor of the new Protestant ones, then hypothetically it would not have needed rejection. A version of sola scriptura might have arisen in which only eliminated Apostolic Tradition. Sola scriptura would then have meant that one was to base one's theology on the material presented in Scripture alone but as interpreted by the living Christian Magisterium.

    However, the Magisterium was prevented from endorsing the new Protestant doctrines by its indefectability in its mission of upholding the historic Christian teachings, and so such a version of sola scriptura never arose. The Magisterium, along with Apostolic Tradition, had to go and be excluded from the theological method of the Protestants.

    Thus if one were today to propose a "Scripture only, but as interpreted by a Magisterium" model for theology, it would be immediately and roundly rejected by the Protestant community (except perhaps in a few small, radical sects) as being no true theory of sola scriptura at all. The term "only" in "Scripture only" must be taken not only to exclude other material principles of theology (like Tradition) but also other formal principles of theology (like the Magisterium).

    But if one has cut loose the historic Christian principle of formulating the matter of theology into distinct, concrete doctrines then what is one going to use in its place? How is one to formulate doctrines if one has rejected what has historically been the formal principle? What formal principal will you propose in its place?

    This was a question put by Catholics to Luther and the other Protestants, who answered that, in the absence of some group of Christians who were divinely commissioned with the task of formulating the material of theology, the individual himself must be divinely commissioned with this task. Thus the doctrine of an absolute right to private judgment—to deciding for oneself what the correct interpretation of Scripture is—was created.

    Christians, of course, had always taught a right to private judgment—that the every individual had the right to think on and interpret the Scriptures for himself (this is why the Scriptures were read out loud at Mass, so that even the illiterate could hear them and think about their meaning). The exercise of private judgment was fine and wholesome and to be encouraged by all possible means so long as it was not used to reject those doctrines which had been determined by Christ's appointed teachers (the Magisterium) to represent the authentic teachings of the Bible.

    Thus Christians had historically taught a right to private judgment, but not an absolute right that overthrew the teaching authority which Christ himself set up in his Church by gifting it with official teachers, as the New Testament itself declares (Ephesians 4:11). On any area in which the teaching authority of Christ's Church had not spoken (which was and is the great majority of areas), private judgment was permitted. It was only when a doctrine which had already been established to be true, such as the Trinity, the fully Divinity and humanity of Christ, the atoning death and resurrection of Christ, the efficacy of the sacraments, etc.—that private judgment was limited.

    In order to throw off the Magisterium's teachings, however, the Reformers had to get past this limitation, and so they asserted an unconditional, absolute right to private judgment, according to which the individual had a right to disagree and to publicly teach contrary to even those doctrines that Christ's teaching authority had already established as true.

    This was necessary as an answer to the Catholic question, "Who are you to overturn a historic Christian teaching which has already been settled by the Magisterium? You are not even a member of that body, much less the whole of it, and such doctrines can never change to begin with." In the face of this question, the Reformers were driven to answer, "We do not need to be the whole of the Magisterium, or even individual members of it, for every Christian has the right to settle every single doctrine on his own and is not bound in conscience to accept the rulings of the teachers which, we admit, Christ intended his Church to have."

    Thus the doctrine of private judgment became a necessary component of the doctrine of sola scriptura. Scripture itself would be the sole material principle for theology, and the judgment of the individual would be the sole formal principle, as no other source could ultimately and authoritatively tell the believer what was the correct interpretation of Scripture. Any theory which said that there was a magisterial group of Christians who were to interpret the Scriptures on behalf on the individual would be vigorously opposed.

    That is odd because, in several ways, that is exactly how the doctrine is applied in Protestant churches. Even though every member of the congregation has the theoretical right to interpret the Scriptures for himself, the vast majority of them do not.

    There may, in any given congregation, be a number of theologically inclined people who make a serious study of the Bible, but the average person simply listens to the exposition given to the Scriptures in the Sunday sermon or weekday Bible study and accepts it. The pastor or Bible study leader sketches out what his view of the Scripture is, and it is not rigorously questioned by the average listener. The average person does not go out and get commentaries from opposing viewpoints, compare them to the pastor's view, and then do a rigorous analysis of the arguments on both sides.

    (to be continued)
     
  17. Matt Black

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    If I may interject at this point with a couple of observations on what you have written so far:-

    1. Where is the teaching Magisterium of the Church after the Great Schism of 1054? If the Church is divided from that point in history (which history demonstrates that it is), then is not the Magisterium also divided? Where does that leave us epistemologically?

    2. The Catholic Magisterium did change its position during the Reformation, specifically in the Counter-Reformation at Trent, when it condemned the sale of indulgences and also took a side-swipe at the late medieval scholasticism of the likes of Biel, which amounted in practice to a form of salvation by works.

    3. I don't think that many who subscribe to sola scriptura in theory think that Scripture is the only doctrinal source in practice, just the supreme authority by which all other sources are to be measured and the bedrock on which they are all to be grounded. That doesn't of course solve the epistemological problem presented by multiple interpretations but does I hope at least clarify the poisition of most Protestants.
     
    #17 Matt Black, May 31, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2006
  18. Eric B

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    No, they rejected the magisterium because the magisterium contradicted scripture, and the magisterium appealed to "tradition" to justify itself, but the tradition was never some separate body of teaching totally different from what was written.
     
  19. mman

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    To those who are lost, who do not have a love for the truth, who worship according to doctrines of men, an inerrant bible is of no value.

    To those who love the truth, who dilligently seek God, it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16), it thoroughly equips man (II Tim 3:16-17), gives us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness (II Pet 1:3).

    The key is that we all must give dilligence to know how to rightly handle or divide the word of God (II Tim 2:15).

    God never intended for denominations (I Cor 1). Division is always condemned. Unity is always endorsed. There is but one Faith (Eph 4:4-6). Division comes from man wanting to worship God in His own way, rather than on what God wants. Unity is possible or God gave us instructions that we cannot keep.

    Without the inerrant bible, we could not know truth (Jn 8:32, 17:17). We could not worship God in the right way. We MUST worship God in truth (Jn 4:24). Truth never contradicts itself.

    Take baptism in water for example.

    Either:
    1) Baptism is for the remission of sins and is necessary for salvation

    or

    2) Baptism is an outward sign done after you are saved, therefore unessential for salvation

    Both statements cannot be the truth, and neither may be true, but one thing is for certain, they both aren't true.

    All one has to do is go to the scripture and see all that God has said on the subject. You either accept it by faith or reject it. Many may try to explain it away with all kind of elaborate theories and mental gymnastics, however, truth is truth, no matter what you or I believe. As long as man has free will, there will be many ways to "worship" God, however, God requires that true worship will be done in truth. Without the inerrant word, this would be impossible.
     
  20. Matt Black

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    But doesn't the debate about baptism just prove my point? Both side of the debate can quote Scripture at each other until they're blue in the face, but if it was that obvious, one would have convinced the other long before now.

    Also, last time I looked, it was Jesus Who saves me, not the Bible or whether or not I consider it inerrant.
     

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