Monday, October 28, 2013

Are You REALLY, REALLY Sure?

2013-10-12 Sunrise - John Vincent 
If you’ve been following our last several posts, we started with this sunrise.  We pointed out that there was only few ways to be sure whether this was a sunrise or sunset.  Then photographer could tell us which it was, we could know the direction he was facing to take the picture, or we could be there and see whether the sun was rising or setting.  That’s true of determining spiritual truth, as well.  Let’s explore that.

As we get to today’s discussion, we need a quick look at what the previous two posts showed us.  In “Are You Sure?”, we spent a lot of time talking about a doctrine that always gets a lot of attention, tongues.  As we mentioned at the beginning of the next post, we could have used baptismal regeneration or any of the other controversial doctrinal discussions.  The point was that all sides of those came out of study of the document considered the source.  No matter what side of any of those controversies you’re on, someone is right on, someone has allowed human interpretation to creep in.  When we move on to the second installment, “Are You REALLY Sure?”, we see the Pharisees doing much the same thing.

There was a difference with the Pharisees, though.  If most modern day theologians honestly come to right and wrong conclusions out of their understanding of the Word of God, the same can’t be said of the Pharisees.  Where Satan said he would be greater than God (Isaiah 14:13-14), the Pharisees had no such illusion.  But they used religion to gain power and wealth, wielding political clout along with the rulers of the land.  The additional laws weren’t innocent misunderstandings.  They were willful weapons to wield control over the people.  Where the Roman conquerors oppressed the Israelites with strict laws and taxes, the Pharisees did likewise with tithes and religious ordinances.  Part of their error was self indulgence, but their willful misinterpretation of Scripture misrepresented God by perverting His Word with things that weren’t there.  They placed their opinion on a higher plane than Scripture.

Proverbs 30:5-6 (KJV)  Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.  Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
 
Scripture is a standard.  And that standard isn’t the King James version or the Douay-Rheims, but the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.  The copies we have of those are closer in time to Christ’s earthly life and with fewer variances than documents that are accepted as an accurate representation of Shakespeare’s writing.  That we would use different rules for document veracity is just a double standard.  But that’s a discussion for another day.
 
The fact that we can question what we call the Bible is an interesting part of the “Is it sunrise or sunset?” conundrum.  There are those who say the copies of the original texts vary sufficiently that we can’t say they’re accurate.  Others say that, whether accurate or not, those variations may make the doctrine questionable.  And some say that both of those come into play.  But we’re talking about documents that have an interesting history.
 
The Israelites and the Old Testament prophets accepted that the Torah (including the Ten Commandments) was from God.  David accepted that, along with the writings of the prophets up to his time.  Jesus vouched for that, including all the prophets up to His walk on earth.  And, finally, the early church fathers included the material to be considered as the proper New Testament.  In each of these, there was a standard of what was considered Scripture and, therefore, what we as followers of the Judeo Christian God should believe and follow.  Which brings me to a unique problem.
 
Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV)  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
 
Christianity seems to be the only world religion where there are those who claim to be among its believers, but will still suggest that Scripture is not Scripture.  And that’s where my problem is.  If one says that some or all of the Bible is not acceptable as Scripture, then how does one determine which is true and which isn’t?  
 
Let’s say I have a two page document and I say they’re accurate, except the fourth paragraph on the first page and the second paragraph on the second page.  Then you come along and say that you see it as accurate, but it’s the very first and very last paragraphs which have problems.  Two different opinions.  Pure logic says they can’t both be right.  Which means that both of us have placed our opinions above the standard, which is the document.
 
Isaiah 55:8 (KJV)  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
 
There’s a logic issue I haven’t gotten an answer for, yet.  If one says one believes in the Sonship and/or the Godhood of Jesus, how can one not accept the only document that fully describes why one should believe that?  Doesn’t it follow that not believing the Bible is accurate then leaves only personal opinion to validate those claims?  There’s nothing to suggest that one opinion of which parts are correct is any more valid than another, differing opinion.

As we pointed out when we started this series, there are standards to determine if the photograph is a sunrise or a sunset.  If we dismiss some of that information or misinterpret it, that doesn’t make the information in those standards any less valid.  The same with the Bible.  If any of us are going to claim to be Christian, then that standard is important.  And it shouldn’t be the document that’s considered at fault, but the scribes, translators, and interpreters.  Our opinions, if formed without real study, are nothing greater than any other piece of fiction.  It may have a basis in fact, but no solid proof.

That’s exactly the point.  Without a standard, there is no basis of proof.  The knowledge that science gives us is vast.  And there are huge segments of it that are totally different from what we thought we knew 10 years ago.  It’s a strong guideline, but not a standard.  So, what are you taking as your standard, today?

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