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Sunday, November 05, 2006

"Mixing Faith in God with Superstition..."

By chance, or by design, while sitting in a pew this morning waiting for service to begin I opened my bible and the page to which it opened was Matthew chapter 4. And the verse that first drew my eye was verse 4.

Jesus, after being baptized by John and receiving the Holy Spirit which descended out of heaven in bodily form, went into the wilderness to fast. After 40 days in the wilds of Judea He was then tempted by the devil, who said in verse 3, 'If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.' And verse 4 reads thusly...

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
--Emphasis mine

Now for some backstory. On several occasions, and again just yesterday, ER has made known his belief that the Bible is not the word of God [correct me if I'm wrong ER]: That title is reserved for Jesus alone who is, according to the Gospel of John, the Logos. Therefore to call the Bible the word of God, which by the inspiration of God was penned by men, and is therefore NOT God; it is therefore fallible and not to be worshipped as God. As to whether or not the Bible is to be worshipped I leave for another day-- ER may well be right on that, I've never really considered it myself, though it does feel a bit like idolatry... someone please correct me if I'm wrong. So before I get into Matthew 4:4, for context here's a portion of ER's comment from yesterday...

"Either all life is sacred or not. But that is a dichotomy that the usually dichotomous conservatives eschew.

"Why? I argue that it's because they do just what they accuse those of us on the liberal side of things of doing:

"Pick and choose -- verses, emphases, interpretations -- based on their preferred outcomes, not based on what the Scripture says or does not say."
--Emphasis mine

ER was confused at my response because he didn't specifically mention the Jesus Seminars, but that is exactly what the Jesus Seminars have done since...? At least 1994 [I'm not going to waste time researching it right now]. This was my response to his comment.

"That is a very bold and revealing statement ER. Talk about dichotomies! If thou shalt not kill means thou shalt not kill how do you justify a woman's right to murder... sorry, "kill" the unborn? While at the same time defending the lives of murderers on death row?

"Sounds a lot like "Pick and choose -- verses, emphases, interpretations -- based on [one's] preferred outcome, not based on what the Scripture say or do not say."

"How many more meetings of The Jesus Seminar will it require to take all the red words out of Jesus' mouth with little footnotes that say something like, 'Bible Scholars now believe that Jesus most likely never spoke these words'...?

"Consider this:

"From Robert W. Funk, Architect and Founder of the Jesus Seminar, in a Keynote Address to the Jesus Seminar Fellows in the spring of 1994...

1. "Jesus did not ask us to believe that his death was a blood sacrifice, that he was going to die for our sins."

2. "Jesus did not ask us to believe that he was the messiah. He certainly never suggested that he was the second person of the trinity. In fact, he rarely referred to himself at all."

3. "Jesus did not call upon people to repent, or fast, or observe the sabbath. He did not threaten with hell or promise heaven."

4. "Jesus did not ask us to believe that he would be raised from the dead."

5. "Jesus did not ask us to believe that he was born of a virgin."

6. "Jesus did not regard scripture as infallible or even inspired."

"And when it came to voting among the many scholars? They use a system of colored beads which represent....

Red: Jesus undoubtedly said this or something very like it.

Pink: Jesus probably or might have said something like this.

Gray: Jesus did not say this, but the ideas are close to His own.

Black: Jesus did not say this; it represents a later tradition.

"Talk about arrogance! Two millenia after the fact to tell the people of 1st Century Christendom what Christ did or did not say? And your attitude on this issue is no different.

"Why should I believe a so called scholar when the word of God tells me to believe not every spirit? That wolves in sheeps clothing will enter the church spreading damnable heresy?..."

I'm back-tracking over old ground because it fills in the backstory of why I felt Matthew 4:4 had special meaning for me this morning. Because ER contends that the Bible cannot be trusted as the 100% recognizable word of God.

Responding in turn ER said this...

"I did see the word arrogance toward the end. Here's arrogance: Thinking that you have all the answers and that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong.

"Oh, oh, here's another thing: Mixing up faith in God with a superstition that says the KJV (or *any* other translation) is "the Word of God" when it's Jesus who is the Logos, i.e., "the Word of God." "
--Again, emphasis mine

What I take from this; what I've taken from previous similar statements is that the Bible-- Whichever the version --is not the word of God. While I agree that some versions most definitely are not the word of God, that likewise is a discussion for another time. The point in all this is, according to ER, the Bible is not the word of God.

Naturally, I take acception to this.

So, Jesus said, and I paraphrase, "man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes out of God's mouth." What word does He refer to? Every word that comes out of God's mouth. Well, if the Scriptures are not the very words of God how then are men to live a whole and complete life of faith in God? How many people actually hear the audible voice of God?

It is clear from Matthew 4:4 that Jesus was referring to the books of the Law and the Prophets, what we today call the Old Testament. If nothing else, Jesus considered the Old Testament to be the word of God. Now, whether it was a living, breathing word of God as many evangelicals today consider it... Well, I believe it's safe to assume that since God changes not-- is the same yesterday, today, and forever --then the Old Testament was still alive and breathing when Jesus referred to it as the word of God, and still is today!

In Matthew 4:5-10 the devil tempts Him twice more, and Jesus rebukes him with scripture each time. Now consider this: If the Old Testament scriptures were not authoritative, as proceeding from the very mouth of God, would the devil have been genuinely rebuked and left Jesus to be administered to by Angels?

If anyone needs a reason to believe the Bible IS the word of God, the very fact that Jesus considered it so should be proof enough. Since Jesus is God manifest in the flesh*, no higher authority exists.

Does anyone have anything to add?

* 1Timothy 3:16

"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

By the way. I use e-Sword at home: "The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge." It is a Bible program, and one of the best tools I have for studying the scripture. Best thing about it is it's completely free. Free program download, free translations downloads, free commentaries, maps, and reference materials. Free, free, free. I invite you all to check it out.


Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

This is that "either-or" thing again.

I never said the Bible wasn't authoritative. It is. Absolutely

The Bible is inspired by God -- but I absolutely disagree that it is infallible or inerrant, in any of its present forms OR in the original. What I consider superstition is the idea that God dictated it to those who wrote the words. That, itself, is an extrabiblical interpretation of the Bible. It's a cultural tradition that is not shared by all of Christendom and never *has* been shared by all of Christendom.

The Bible is sufficient unto salvation -- but the Bible does not save. Jesus saves.

The Bible is the single most important witness to the Word of God. But it is not the only witness to the word of God, that is, Jesus.

I do not adhere to the notion that the Bible *is* the "word of God." I think that's a colloquialism without much meaning and to so doggedly defend it as meaning anything is, I believe, a form of bibliolatry.

I am among those Christians who embrace a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, as well as the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. The church I belong to has roots in the "covenantal" tradition -- meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. (It's very "Baptist" that way.

Christ alone is Head of the church. "We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith, (receiving) the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith."

Other points:

On, "God does not change":

God remains immutable, but humankind's relationship and understanding of God change through history, and therefore no theological truths, as understood by humankind, are necessarily fixed. ("Some liberals do not maintain that God is immutable, but instead assert that God changes alongside creation. The rationale being that an immutable God in a changing universe would eventually result in a gulf separating creator from creation.")


If you characterize me as *for* abortion, or even personally OK with it, that's an incorrect characterization. People who are pro choice are not pro abortion no matter how much you and others wish it were that easy.


If you characrerize me as tolerant of risky, devil-may-care homosexual, or heterosexual, behavior, please stop. Bad, stupid behavior is bad, stupid behavior, and bringing harm to our bodies, as the temple of the Holy Spirit that lives within, is wrong.

The problem is this: Those who are so worked up over homosexuality concentrate on sex acts; those of us who strive to extend God's grace to all, whether we like them, are comnfortable around them, approve of them or whatever, concentrate on relationships, especially loving relationships, and doubly especially God's loving relationships with all who call upon the name of the Lord and are saved.

I do not doubt that God works in the hearts of all believers to effect salvation, as well as to begin the process of making them holy. However, I do not dare to look at any other individual Christian, or group of them (say, homosexual Christians) and claim that they can't be Christians because their lifestyle, or any other behavior, doesn't exactly line up with my own ideas of what it means to live the Christian life. That is PRECISELY the kind of judging we are specifically admonished not to do.

Please Google "liberal Christianity" and Wikipedia, for more.

November 05, 2006 10:09 PM  
Blogger ELAshley said...

My purpose was not to 'call you out' and I think, judging by the tone of your comment, that you got that. My only desire was to address the "Word of God" issue as I perceived it from your several comments here and elsewhere. And also to testify to what God had shown me this morning.

Thank you for your courteous reply. We are still in disagreement on a few issues but what else is new?


November 05, 2006 10:47 PM  
Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Leftist "Christians" : Having the appearance of godliness but denying the power thereof...

November 06, 2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Oh, I know, EL. I got it. It did give me an opportunity to restate some things in a kind of testimony.

Re, "denying the power thereof."
I deny no power of God. What I deny is the need for the false certainty that comes with a literal reading of the Bible.

November 06, 2006 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a papist, but I think there are myriad signs that Jesus claimed to be the messiah. One that is really strong is that where John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God. (John 1:29) I couldn't find the location of the one that immediatly came to mind- -Jesus suggests that the Apostles might leave him, and Peter says to Him, "Where would we go? You have the words of everlasting life."

November 13, 2006 6:35 PM  

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