Thinking outside the Bible box

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Alcott, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. Alcott

    Alcott
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Messages:
    7,454
    Likes Received:
    93
    This OP will probably not be very well focused, and the title itself may cause it to be avoided. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how, or to what extent, we allow our thinking to be “boxed in” by biblical passages, often obscure ones, and we don’t allow our reasoning processes to function completely and objectively. For most Bible-believing Christians this automatically points toward the evolution of life, and obviously that would have to be included. But that is not the emphasis with which I am beginning this discussion. Since the Bible does refer to the sun ‘rising’ and ‘setting,’ that was used centuries ago to “prove” that any model of the universe which was not geocentric was inevitably wrong. Now, there are some, very few, who still hold to such a model, while the vast majority accept that what we perceive as sunrise and sunset are the result of the rotation of the earth as it orbits the focus of our solar system, the sun, which is a star like billions of others. So then, most Christians admit that those who rejected anything other than a geocentric universe let their thinking be boxed into the Bible as it had been historically understood, and that it was written—must have been written—to relate to the only human vantage point, which did inherently suggest the sun rises and sets. In this case, we can then go over the entire Bible and then point out, competently, that there is no passage that states the earth does not turn or that the sun does orbit the earth; or, like “liberals,” we can resign to the idea that since the Bible was written to ancient peoples according to their ancient understanding, then anything the Bible says is subject to being amended, declared metaphorical or allegorical, or ignored altogether according to our ‘modern’ understanding.

    I don’t have much personal support for either of these chief protocols (and I am avoiding consideration of the extremes of becoming a flat-earther or an atheist). In the first, it would appear we had been deliberately misled and had scientific progress thwarted for centuries with the idea of an earth-revolving sun; and also, for instance, of diseases being caused by demons and/or as punishments. In the second, the gospel can ultimately have no meaning, and God can be whatever we choose him/her/it to be. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that even the New Testament writers saw relevance in the first choice, that scripture passages did not actually mean what they would have inevitably been understood to mean for centuries—the best example being Paul’s declaring that the children of Abraham, the children of promise, being those who believe God, and not exclusively the physical descendents of Abraham through Isaac and Jaocb. Actually, this would be an example confirming both the ‘liberal’ and the ‘conservative reexamined’ positions—liberal in that it’s not only the tribes of Israel that can share in the favor and mercy of God, and conservatively reexamined in that there are passages which indicate that has always been the case, though they may be paradoxed by certain other passages.

    To avoid making this OP too long (if it’s not too late to say that), what in our practical applications today would all this mean? Alright-- for instance, do we believe there is life, in particular intelligent life, elsewhere in the galaxy? Personally, I don’t. But I can’t say I base my opinion on anything the Bible says. I base it on the great multiplicities of highly unlikely conditions we happen to have here on earth… the sun is anomalous in that it is a single star with no known companion star, that we have an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, oceans that fill 70% of our planet, that we are located neither too close to our star to vaporize not too far to freeze (making organic matter immobile), that our solar system has a giant gas planet that keeps the vast majority of space debris in a belt well outside the ‘rocky’ planets, that our solar system is apparently located on a spiral arm of the galaxy where stars are far apart and thus our system is not easily perturbed by other stars, et al, et al. Optimistic SETI researchers want to believe that the galaxy is “teeming’ with life, so they take Drakes’ Equation and plug in their optimistic numbers that indicate there may be a million intelligent technical civilizations in the galaxy; therefore they have a different “box” from the Bible to declare their hypotheses. But true logical, critical thinking (they say) has no room for biases. I don't see how they think they are both right and optimistic. But one thing is for certain in this example: no appeal to the Bible (or any holy book) will change their perspective. It will take reasoning skills; outside any box, including the Bible—not just one box versus another box.
     
  2. Watchman

    Watchman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,706
    Likes Received:
    0
    My only comment here is that today meteorologists (weathermen if you will) say "The sun will rise...and set..." don't they know better? Of course they do. They, as well as God, speaks to us the way we commonly understand and speak. God did not give us HIs word to instruct us in astronomy, but to be a revealing of Himself, His Son and how we are to live.
     
  3. Alcott

    Alcott
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Messages:
    7,454
    Likes Received:
    93
    Yes, that's largely the point. If we were to confine our thinking to inside the Bible box, we would put ourselves in company with the tormentors of Galileo, based upon literalism. Nevertheless, 'liberals' are likely also to say "God did not give us HIs word to instruct us in astronomy, but to be a revealing of Himself, His Son and how we are to live," with a little twist on that last phrase; e.g., fornication and homosexuality are normal and right. Or, since God [supposing he was really behilnd it] told us the sun rises and sets metaphorically, then his standards of how to live may be metaphorical.
     
  4. Watchman

    Watchman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,706
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, and here in is a big problem in reading Gods word and having a proper interpretation of it. When do we take the Bible to be speaking metaphorically (allegory) or literally? I feel the safest rule is to take a literal sense, unless the literal sense makes no sense.
    So, in your example: has God changed His mind about homosexuality?
    How about adulterers and adultresses today-a capital offense? No, God has not changed His mind about those things-the dispensation has changed from the one under the Law, to the age of grace.
    Our mission is to seek to save the lost, those who do such things, not to stone them!
     

Share This Page

Loading...