Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Inerrancy of Scripture II

I first of all want to clarify that I believe that the scriptures are true. They are beautifully accurate historically and practically.

The stories told in the Old Testament and especially in the Torah are based on Oral tradition. The stories existed for centuries. The stories purpose was to give Israel identity, to inform them of where they'd been so that they might decide where they are going. What we have to question, every time we read it, is whether the point that was being made needed historical accuracy for it to be conveyed.

for example; the point of the person of Abraham, in the book of Genesis, is to explain the covenant between God and His people. To not only explain it's origin (Abraham) but it's nature of being passed "from generation to generation" (to Isaac and Jacob). The stories were true. An actual covenant was made to God's people and it was passed from generation to generation. With this all in mind we must ask, did it have to be a man named Abraham? Does the story have to be 100% historically accurate for it to be true? Would God be lying if it wasn't historically accurate?

The point of the Bible is that the stories are true, not weather they actually happened.

As you'll notice this opens up a whole new series of questions. And that's ok. If you read the Bible with an open heart then it'll always bring up tons of questions, possibly more questions than answers.

What you'll find, if you study history, is that there is a great majority of stories in the bible that are well verified by history and some that have very little real historical backup at this point. If history repeats itself then we will soon find explanations for the stories that can't yet be verified (like much of the book of Joshua). Abraham's described to have lived in a real place (Haran, Genesis 12.4) that we know really existed. This suggests to me that he was probably real. There are also other things that suggest his historicity which we will not discuss here. But we still have to ask the tough questions. What if there was no historical verification to scripture?

We have this beautiful concept called faith. It is one I will always base my life around. I have faith that the Bible is true. Not blind faith (I don't study for no reason) but faith indeed. And it is with faith that we approach the Bible. Faith is a non-negotiable.

26 comments:

Jason S said...

You said..."The point of the Bible is that the stories are true, not weather they actually happened."

How can a story be true if it didn't happen?

If I gave a police officer a report of a ficticious murder that I supposedly witnessed, would the story be true?

WES ELLIS said...

Sorry Jason,
You're missing my point completely. The bible is not always an historical document and it is rarely a report like the one in your example.

Think of peotry. Now If a police officer asked for an account you would never recite a poem to him. There is alot of peotry in the bible. The point of the stories in scripture is not always to give an account of what actually happened. you have to focus on what the scripture is trying to tell you. What's the point of the story? it won't always be history.

Jason S said...

You said..."With this all in mind we must ask, did it have to be a man named Abraham? Does the story have to be 100% historically accurate for it to be true?"

This particular passage of scripture is not poetry, it is history, so your argument does not fly.
Sure there is poetry in scripture, but in many cases, even the poetry is prophetic, hence, it too is God breathed.

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
Apply what I've already said to Abraham's story. What's it really trying to tell us? It's an explaination and description of the covenant. It's never promised to us that is literal. Poetry was my easy example. in this case we ask, what's the point. This story explains the covenant and its nature. It can be argued that it's history (a view point which you have expressed). It doesn't have to have happened for it to still accomplish its goal. Obviousely something like it happened but it certainly is not obviouse that it occured verbatim. The point is a sort of history and it is very possible that it is aligorical history. It gives us an Idea f how this whole covenant thing works.

I hope my explaination makes sense this time. I appretiate your involvement in this discussion. I don't expect you to agree with me but I hope you'll continue to adress what I'm saying.

Jason S said...

How can this be anything but history considering that I have already pointed out that Abraham was an ancestor of Jesus?
Why would God refer to Himself as the God of someone that may never have actually existed?

WES ELLIS said...

the culture was very different. What was God really saying when He said "God of Abraham?" in their culture they understood Abraham was their ancestor. They were his descendants they knew God as the God of Abraham so that's how He reffered to himself.

I will often refer to the book of Moses but I don't believe that Moses actually sat down and wrote it all. We atribute the books to Moses out of tradition. make sense?

Jason S said...

Jesus said that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. I'll take His word for it.

So, obviously if Abraham had descendents, then he was a historical figure, right?

God also referred to Himself in such a way to differentiate Himself from all of the pagan gods of the day.

WES ELLIS said...

you're right about the third point. But who's o say Jesus didn't attribute the Torah to Moses the way everyone else was. Moses is not considered the official author of the Torah by most historians. It's very hard to substantiate based on the format of the text.

And yet, traditionally speaking, Abraham had ancstors and if it's not allegory then yes, he's an historical figure. But what if it is allegory...?

Jason S said...

It can't be an allegory if he had ancestors!

You said.."But who's o say Jesus didn't attribute the Torah to Moses the way everyone else was."

Are you insinuating that Jesus may have been wrong?

By the way, if someone were to ask you who Jesus was, what would you tell him?

WES ELLIS said...

I've pretty much exhausted the subject so I won't argue. My argument would be redundant. If you want to know how it could be allegory and how Jesus could say it was Moses' book and not be lying do two things. First re-read all that I've already told you and then see what you can find out about the jewish tradition of Jesus day. You'll find that Jesus wasn't lying at all and that he wasn't wrong. You'll also find that Moses Probably didn't write the Torah himself.

to answer your question about who i think Jesus was would take a long time. People have filled books about Jesus and still didn't cover everything. In short I believe that Jesus was a Rabbi who came to show His people what it really looks like to live the Torah. He also came to establish a new kind of kingdom, where the first would be last and He would rein. He also came to bring ultimate salvation to everyone in every nation. He was a man and is also YHWH, the one true God, and through the power of His resurrection we can be saved and live a life of freedom from the curse.

This little description might lead us to more questions than answers but the truth often does.

Jason S said...

You said.."He also came to bring ultimate salvation to everyone in every nation."

This needs further clarification. Are you a universalist?

Jason S said...

You said.."and through the power of His resurrection we can be saved and live a life of freedom from the curse."

Tell me, have you been freed from the curse already?

WES ELLIS said...

As I said this description opens up alot of questions.

Am I universalist? Hell no... (that's a joke, get it... Hell... think about it). I believe there is a reality called Hell and many people will experience it both here and into eternity.

WES ELLIS said...

Yes I'm free from it but it's still everywhere I look. We're all free but we sometimes choose to live in slavery. The curse will always be around us but we don't have to lose to it... but we do have to deal with it.

WES ELLIS said...

correction:
Hopefully the curse will not always be around us.

Jason S said...

If you are free from the curse, how do you explain the fact that you are aging?

What do you mean about hell being here? And, according to your theology, who goes to the literal hell?

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
I'll answer your question by suggesting some books.

There's a chapter by Tony Campolo in "Adventures In Missing The Point" called "The Kingdom Of God."

"Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell pages 147-150 (but read the whole book if you get a chance).

Chapter two of "The Challenge Of Jesus" by N.T. Wright

Especially!!!! the chapter called "The Eternal kind of life Now" in "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard.

These books changed my life and are written by people much more credible than me. If you've never read Dallas Willard you should consider it. His work is outstanding.

WES ELLIS said...

here's some quotes from a few of those books:

"...Hell: a way, a place, a realm absent of how God desires things to be. We can bring heaven to earth; we can bring hell to earth... For Jesus Heaven and Hell were present realities... For Jesus the question wasn't, how do I get into heaven? but how do I bring heaven here?"
-Rob Bell

"Throughout his [Jesus] brief public career Jesus spoke and acted as if God's plan for salvation and justice...was being unveiled through his own presesnce"
"He told the story of the Kingdom in such a way as to indicate that Israel's long exile was finally coming to it's close." "...A kingdom that would overturn all other agendas..." "...we now implement that work today... to implement the redemption of our world."
-N.T. Wright

"God's Kingdom is a new society that Jesus wants to create in this world- within human history, not after the Second Coming or a future apocalypse or anything else. But right now."
"Dispensationalists -that is, fundamentalists and most evangelicals - contended that the world was a sinking ship, and that time and efforts were better spent trying to get people off the ship and saved before it went under... The only problem, however, was how such bad news could really be good news..."
-Tony Campolo

I encourage you to read these books before you argue with their suggestions.

Jason S said...

Thanks for the recommendation, but I'll stick to the only book that God wrote, the bible.
And according to the book of revelation, the curse won't be lifted until the Lord returns to establish His kingdom.

WES ELLIS said...

Your first statement breaks my heart. No wonder people think christians are stupid.

You can't interperet the Bible without knowing something about it. Books help for that. If I could just read the bible and get all my answers I'd be wasting my money on school.

WES ELLIS said...

And by the way... if you were just gonna stick to the bible you wouldn't be asking for my opinion... unless of course you care more about proving me wrong than actually hearing what I have to say...

Jason S said...

"All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate and equipped for every good work."

Doesn't sound like I need to read anything from Godless men like Bell or Campolo to have a relationship with my Lord and Savior.

Pastor Art said...

The confluence of truth and setting makes Scripture inspired. For Yahweh to inform me of Himself through the setting of the unreaced tribesmen of the Amazon River basin is the work of a fool. But if Yahweh sets a standard for His revealing of Himself makes it understandable and open for all then calls out from those who have come to understand people vocationed to take the foundational truth conveyed within the historical setting and trans - culturally communicate the “truth” then I can know Him understand the truth and have a living growing interaction with Him and become a citizen in the Kingdom now and yet to be. But the key lies in taking the historical setting’s understand to the contemporary setting.
Pastor Art

WES ELLIS said...

good points Pastor Art... thanks.

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
I hope you don't really mean to be so insulting. Please think about what you're saying. I've enjoyed this conversation, thanks for your thoughts. At least we agree that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

eddie said...

"Jesus said that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. I'll take His word for it."

Hahahaha - ROFLOL - that IS hillarious. Thanks for this gem.

:-)