Monday, January 09, 2006

The Inerrancy of Scripture III

When it comes to Jesus it may be alot more necessary to believe He was a historical figure. In fact you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesnt believe He was historical. It would be impossible to explain many things about our history without a man named Jesus who died and rose again. If he did not live He wouldn't have had followers, if He did not rise again they wouldn't have kept following (no one would follow a dead Messiah... read the Maccabees). But it's not my belief that he came along time ago that makes me His follower, it's the fact that I believe he is here now and calls us to follow Him now. Someone can actually follow Jesus without a history lesson.

For me it is also important that Jesus came into history because I believe the Kingdom of God is here. I believe that the Kingdom of God is historical reality either now and/or in the future. Jesus coming into history helps make sense of that. Heaven is not some transcendant "pie-in-the-dky." It is here for us and it will continue to change the world within history.

when it comes to what is allegory and what is literal I don't get to draw the line, it seems to me that the Bible does. Scripture, if we know it well enough, will reveal what is truly important within itself. You must always ask yourself what the text is really trying to say. And we must alway treat the text as it is and not make it whatever we want it to be. You'll find in reading my blog I usually interperet scripture historically. I always ask the question, what did this mean to the writer in his place in history? Because we cannot argue that the writer didn't live, he must have, he wrote. I also ask what did it mean (in case of a story) for the character (Jesus, Paul, Moses, etc.) in his/her place in history. becuase the writer must have written with that question in mind (weather the story actually happened or not). What cannot be argues is that the text itself is historical, it was written by a real person in real history. And we must always examine the text consiouely.

Some books to spark your interest on these issues: Adventures in Missing the Point by McLaren and Campolo, The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright, Christian College Christian Calling Particularly Keith Reeves’ chapter, The meaning of Jesus by Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright, Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (AMAZING BOOK), why not The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, and the Historical figure of Jesus by E.P. Saunders.

45 comments:

Maryellen said...

I'm not sure you can historically prove the resurection, although there is a lot of evidence to support it. other than that, i agree with you points. blessings on this up coming semester.

WES ELLIS said...

I guess you're right Maryellen, proof is a strong word. I should have said there is very reasonable evidence.

Mike Exum said...

excellent list of books

I too read a lot of N.T. Wright. I have been heavily influenced by his historical approach.

A couple of his former students, Walsh and Keesmaat, wrote a powerful book putting much of his analysis in contemporary application. It is called COLOSSIANS REMIXED: SUBVERTING THE EMPIRE. I highly recommend it.

Good blog, keep up the good work.

Many blessings...

WES ELLIS said...

Mike,
Thanks... I've actually heard of that book but haven't yet had the chance to read it.

Have you read "For All God's Worth" by N.T. Wright?

Pastor Art said...

Much of those who espouse this “inspiration - sola scriptura line of thinking are beginning to sound like Gnostics to me. This inner voice (they call it the Holy Spirit) teaches me I do not need any outside resources and only those who think in this way “the ones with this particular view point - knowledge base” can really understand and speak truth. Are we watching the birth of a new Gnostic movement? Some of this is tongue in cheek but…

John Wesley and the Methodists after him set forth solid percepts of testing truth when faced with an atmosphere much like the one we live in today. The foundations were being moved and had been for a couple hundred years. He spoke in this whirlwind, reason. How do we understand find and propagate truth through the generations.

We first study and understand Scripture in its setting. Proper exegesis, we must come to the text void of as much baggage as possible. This is why the next precepts are applied by the careful faithful Christian in an effort to achieve this.

We then consult tradition which is the history of thought on the Scriptures at hand. This consultation must start with the commentators closest to the Scriptures in thought and history. Therefore the starting point must be what have the Jews said then subsequent influences because the best witness is the closest witness.

Reason or consistent logical conclusions, as we might say it today. We have been given minds we can understand reality and tell the difference between that and fantasy or conjecture. Confusion is not the standard of Yahweh’s Kingdom.

Then experience some of this entails the witness of His Spirit to our spirit. However that does not complete the idea of experience. The method known as the scientific method needs to be applied here. Is it normative not personal - objective not subjective - is it repeatable or incidental, these are good starting questions.

Sola anything contradicts the Scriptural president of two or three witnesses to find a thing true. That even contradicts the nature of Yahweh who is not sola but trinity.
Pastor Art

WES ELLIS said...

Pastor Art,
yes... We need other resourses to help us understand the bible. The idea that we can just stick to the bible alone is irresponseble.

There are alot of things that guide us to the truth in the scripture.

Jason S said...

All this is is postmodernism at its best.
"After all, no one can really understand the bible bc we are not God." "What's true for you may not be true for me."
"One must study Hebrew or Greek to truly understand the context."
"The bible is inspired, but may not reflect reality"
"Hath God really said?"
"What is the gospel?"
"You can have heaven on earth"


If I remeber correctly, Satan was the first to use this line of reasoning in the garden of Eden.

WES ELLIS said...

Thanks Jason,
Once again you've completely missed the point.

Pastor Art said...

jason get of it no one mentioned any of those topics or concepts. did you read what was writen? the careful exsamanation of the TEXT is the focuse not rejection!
Pastor Art
sorry Wes for the sharp answer on your blog

WES ELLIS said...

Sorry Jason,
I guess I'm still learning patience.

Yes... ok this might be a little post modern but no we're not thinking like the Devil. Everything I question and every observation I make is in submission to Scriptural authority and, ultimately, God's authority. The Holy Spirit is my teacher.

Please try to understnad what we are saying.

WES ELLIS said...

Thank you Pastor Art. Don't be sorry. I appretiate your comment.And yes you're right, no one was bringing up those concepts in this post.

Jason S said...

These topics have been brought up by Art in the past and are a reflection of the conversation on this blog the past few days.

It is interesting how Art characterizes others as gnostic when it is he who claims to have the corner on true interpretation bc of his studies.
Do you think for one moment that the translators knew a little something about the cultures? Is it possible that the early church fathers knew a little bit about the context in which the scriptures were written? How about the reformers?
I have read all of the above and interestingly, they all believed that Abraham was a real person, and they knew what the gospel was.

I have studied under those that know the original languages, the culture and the context that the scriptures were written in.

In addition, I use Strongs and Vines for helps.

Am I now qualified Art?

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
good for you I'm glad you're so educated. I wish your education was reflected in your comments. If you read the Church fathers and the reformers there was constant debate about the gospel. They had to come up with creeds to explain some of their conclusions. The reformation was a result, in part, of disagreement on how one can be saved and what happens to them when they die. We're in the same tradition. I know what the gospel is but I don't try to chrystalize it and claim that I totally understand it. Even C.S. Lewis questioned the gospel.

i understnad you are very set in your ways and sometimes that's ok. I don't expect you to be in agreement with me but I will ask that you be respectful to me and my fellow bloggers. Realize this is just a blog. It's not the end of the world if something unconfortable comes us. it's ok for you to disagree with me and it's ok for me to disagree with you.

Mike Exum said...

Wes,

Michael Exum here... I saw your comment on my blog. Glad to have you visit. Please come again.

I like yours too. I will be revisiting.

I thumbed through your discussion here. I know that "gnostic" vibe. I have bumped into it head on where I go to church. I think I was very much headed down a similar road before I studied a little philosophy in college. It can be very frustrating to deal with. I simpathize with Pastor Art's observation.

Part of me sympathizes with Jason too. I'm not sure I know why. If he sniffed an attitude in Pastor Arts comment that actually suggests that Pastor Art has it all sowed up, then he is right to challenge it. I am not sure I sniffed it myself, but if it is there it is a worthy challenge. Perhaps my approach would differ, but it seems to me that all of us in this conversation would take a conservative approach. Perhaps we are not really that different. I dont know. I only just read a few lines from each, and have never met or experienced any of the participants before.

A little humility on all our parts, and I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit and even small voices in each of us will honor each other as Bros.

Jesus is Lord! That is not in dispute here, as far as Ive seen. And that is so deeply foundational for our love and care as we explore life and scripture etc...

Many blessings...

Jason S said...

One of the main reasons that creeds were established was bc heresies were rampant just as they are today. In order to protect and instuct the flock such were necessary.
The problem is that people claim that the bible is authoritative and then place themselves in authority over it by denying the truths within it. Or, they say that absolute truth cannot be known because we are fallible humans. Scripture plainly denies these assertions.
"Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth."
"These things I have written you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life."
It is obvious that there are truths that can be known and that all is not relative.

WES ELLIS said...

I finally agree with you Jason,
I've never suggested that we cant know truth in fact I believe we can. Of course there are some things we won't know and just won't be able to figure out for sure but every question has a right answer in every situation. Dallas Willard is working on a book, I believe, on a reformed view of epistomology. He suggests that not only can we know things but we can know morals as well and can therefore teach them.

I don't think epistemology was ever a disagreement between us.

Jason S said...

Wes- Well, then I apologize for assuming that you didn't believe in absolute truth. You are the first emergent that I have encountered that does

By the way, what are some of the things that you believe that we can't know, other than matters like the timing of Christ's return.

WES ELLIS said...

The thing with "emergents" (and let me tell you, I hate that label) is they usually don't deny that there is an answer that you might call absolute but they usually understnad that truth is alot harder than just one answer. There is a multitude of right ways to handle things and there are many wrong ways to handle things. I am concerned with finding the healthiest possible way to handle things. We have to be sensetive and even intimate with a situation before we can provide an answer. Another thing is that emergents (including myself) usually try to stay honest with themselves, there are things we just don't know and we should not be afraid to say "I don't know."

There are alot of things we can't know, at least not now. We cannot fully grasp God, for example. Thomas Aquinas once said "No created intellect can comprehend God wholly." Augustine gives a similar statement in his book 'Exposistions on the Psalms' saying "God is always greater, however much we may have grown."(p.262) No matter how close we may think we're getting God wil always be greater. Luther said it like this, "God has hidden himself in Christ." Carl Barth even suggested that all knowledge of Christ begins with the knowledge of His "hiddenness." Theologians have discussed it for years; our minds are just too small. It is not that there is no truth about God and it's not that we can't know God at all but we must accept that God is infinate. And an infinate God cannot be fully grasped by finite minds.

"To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
-1Timothy 1:17

Jason S said...

I understand fully that we can never completely understand the mind of God, but we do have His word which gives to us the wisdom which leads to salvation.

By the way, if someone were to ask you how one can inherit eternal life, what would you tell him?

WES ELLIS said...

Yes the scriptures do give us some of God's wisdom and they do teach us and correct us and all those other things that help us live life. And yes, it does teach us about salvation.

To, as you say, inherit eternal life Jesus is our only hope. Following Him brings salvation and Life abundantly.

Jason S said...

Wes- Can you explain your answer? How does one get to heaven? Is it based on performance?
Who goes to hell?

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
I don't know much beyond my answer. Who goes to hell? well, of course, it's the people who don't follow Jesus. Now, the nature of following Jesus is debatable. IS it based solely on an indidviduals intellectual decision on who Jesus is? Does someone really have to know the name and hisory of Jesus in oder to follow Him? these question are much harder to answer.

Based on performance? no, but it does have something to do with the way you live your life. I guess your eternal destination, heaven or hell, has something to do with your present reality. wether you end up experienceing Hell or Heaven has something to do with how you respond to the heaven and hell in our world today. Jesus mission was about bringing heaven to this reality. If we share that same mission, through the Power of the Holy Spirit it will become our eternal reality.

Jason S said...

Wes- Can't you at least cite some scripture verses about salvation?
How closely do you have to follow Jesus to go to heaven?

Where does the bible talk about hell on earth?

WES ELLIS said...

Jesus said "I came that you may have life more abundantly" He also said, "God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world but that through Him the world might be saved."

There are alot of references to salvation through Jesus.

Hell being here is an anciet belief and Jesus follows the tradition. Jesus talk of Hell being here but He talk of it being eternal more often because that was not the popular belief. Jesus spoke of Gehena which was an actual place outside of Jeruselem which was nicknamed the "place of whipping and gnashing of teeth" and the "place where fire never dies." It was a dump. This symbolism gives us a picture of an horible exsistence. Jesus took an already esistent belief of Hell here and made it something that lasted forever. The Hell refered to in The Old Testament (sheh-ole') is usually best translated "a hole" or a "Pit" or "the grave" (check your strongs) and it's usually referring to a present physical state.

The grave [Hell] wrapped its ropes around me;death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the LORD;
yes, I called to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry reached his ears.
2 Sammuel 22:6

There are alot of references like this one.

Jason S said...

On what basis is one justified through Jesus?

Jason S said...

2 Samuel 2:26 is referring to David's brush with death and how the Lord delivered him from the hand of Saul. He of course is speaking figuratively when he says that Sheol surrounded him. Clearly not a reference to hell on earth.

Jason S said...

John 3:18 he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

What's your take on this verse.

WES ELLIS said...

Jason... Thanks for all your questions but I think if you want to know what I believe you might just continue reading my blog in future. i think I've expressed to you some of what I believe about slavation and Hell and all the things your asking me about. I know there's much more to discuss but I'm not sure that this is quite the best way to do it; going back and forth. I hope you'll consider what I've presented and do some study of your own about the suggestions I've made. Consider them... study them... and only ask me questions if you have some interst in accepting what I have to say. If you're only out to control the conversation and prove me wrong then I'm wasting my time.

If you'd really like to know more I encourage you to read some of the books I suggested earlier. If you decide that books are a waste of time and you just want to "stick to the only book God wrote, the Bible" then God bless you in that journey.

Jason S said...

I guess I am quite concerned that you can't explain to me how one is justified. How can you know if you are truly saved if you don't have a grasp on this issue?


I'm not concerned about proving you wrong, but as Paul says in 2 Corinthians, "Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith, test yourselves."

WES ELLIS said...

Jason,
that's a very good verse to use in this situation. Test yourself... don't test me. I've been testing myself this entire time... that is why we question things like the gospel.

I am confortable in my salvation and I have a very good grasp on the concept of justicication... why would you assume that I can't explain it? simply because I didn't answer you?

Jason S said...

I can't for a moment understand why you wouldn't answer me.
What is the problem?

WES ELLIS said...

thanks for the interesting conversation. there's no problem.

WES ELLIS said...

Maybe I'll answe your question in a later post. Thanks for the food for thought.

Jason S said...

Are you always this evasive when it comes to sharing your faith? Is it an emergent thing?

WES ELLIS said...

I'm not evasive, you're reading my blog right now aren't you? What do you think I'm blogging about? My faith. that's far from evasive.

Are you always this pushy and arrogant? is it a non-emergent thing?

No wonder so many people hate Christians.

this conversation has to end somewhere.

Jason S said...

I asked a simple question and you have yet to answer it. Is this how christians are to communicate with each other?
God forbid!

Jason S said...

Wes said..."No wonder so many people hate Christians."

"Do not be surprised if the world hates you. If you were of the world, the world would love you."

"I slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you."

I for one expect the world to hate me, because the world hated the Lord of Glory.

WES ELLIS said...

Thanks for the great verse references... I disagree with your interperetation. I thought that Jesus message was about love... People often hate Christians because they're lives do not consist with their message. Please consider being assertive and being loving at the same time.

Thanks for the great conversation once again... I hope that you'll continue reading my blog. Hopefully you'll get a better idea of where I'm coming from.

God bless.

Jason S said...

Wes said.."I disagree with your interperetation."

John 15:8 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me."

According to Jesus, the world hates Christians because they do not know the Father and hate the truth.

I have not said anything to you that was not loving. In fact it was you that implied that I was stupid when you said "no wonder people think Christians are stupid." You also implied that I was someone that is easy to hate when you said, "no wonder people hate Christians."

WES ELLIS said...

Sorry if you read it like that.

Mike Exum said...

Jason,

Do you see your relentless questions as loving? What are you achieving? It looks like a power trip from my view point. In fact it looks like you are trying to make Wes look stupid from my view point. Can you explain how it is not?

How about I draw the fire on me for a while. Give Wes a break. I think he has been deeply tested by you. Take me on for a while instead!!!

I get the sense that your questions do not really seek either your own edification or anybody elses. This has become a full blown interrogation. Questioning people is one way of making power plays. It says, in a sense, that "I get to examine you". Yet, it always leaves you looking like you are just asking a harmless question. But there is more to it than that. And it does not look loving or Christian to go around trying to prove people wrong.

Several suggested readings have been put forth. If your questions are so innocent and truth seeking, go read some of them. If you still think the teachers people like Wes and I have been reading are off base, then come make a case.

I do not agree with everything Wes says either. But I do not interrogate him to death. If I raise an issue with him, I will let him wrestle with it, not hound him about it.

Wes has demonstrated great love for Jesus, and his neighbor. He has demonstrated it toward you, and then has apologized when his frustration with you came out ugly. He has done a superb job of it. In doing this, he has proven himself to fulfill the two greatest commands of the entire Bible. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets, I interpret that to cover the whole enchilada, hang on these 2. This means that if he gets this right, he gets it all right. If he blows it here, he blows the whole thing.

I think he is shining.

I hate to imagine what this "Christian" questioning to death of a fellow pilgrim looks like to a non-Christian observer who might read this. It repels me, and I am a believer!!

Do you think your endless questions are attractive to outside observers? Do you think Jesus did this to people He disagreed with? Did Paul? Who benefits? How? How about I ask you some questions?

Jason S said...

Mike- I asked you some questions and you have yet to reply.

Wes has been spewing forth false doctrine and I am calling him on it. Do me a favor and check the record...How did Paul and Jesus handle such a peron? Was Jesus unloving when he told the rulers that they were of their father the devil? Was Paul unloving when he told the Judaizers that they should go emasculate themselves?

Love is impossible without the truth and Wes is perverting the gospel.

Mike Exum said...

Jason,

It is you that speaks untruth here. Check the record. I replied to you directly two times already.

Now your cards are out on the table: You have an agenda here that has nothing to do with learning and growing or sharing and edification. Your questions are not innocent or disinterested; they were intended as an offense all along, huh? They are intended to "call" Wes out on his "false doctrine". If it is a debate you want, why not come clean with it to begin with? Why all the passive/aggressiveness? That actually is not loving; it is deeply manipulative. Very unChristlike.

Have some humility. Treat people better.

Have you got a verse for how "love is impossible without the truth"?

I do not see any possitive achievement in your questions. Do you?

I, for one, was ejoying this blog before I realized just how offensive you are willing to carry on. If you wanted to make a point that Wes is promoting false doctrine, you have now done so. Why not dust your feet and move on?

Otherwise, I suggest you follow the Ben Witherington rules for blog etiquette, and move your ugly comments/questions to private email.

Jason S said...

Mike- please show me where you responded to these questions.."You mention faith, but what is your faith based on? One can have faith in Christ, but what are you exactly trusting Him for?"

By the way, it is not neccessarily a debate I am looking for, but rather I am following scriptures's commands to rebuke and correct those that distort the gospel of Christ.

Why do you assume that Wes is a Christian? Is it because he talks about love so freely? There are many followers of Buddha and Confuscious that I am certain love even more than Wes.

What makes a Christian? Well for one it is adhering to biblical doctrine. If Wes denied the deity of Christ, would you still call him a Christian? Then why is it tolerable for him to deny that salvation is by grace through faith and not of your own good works? He is on record as saying that one is saved by following Christ, but what does that mean? You sound intent on fulfilling the law by loving God and your neighbor, but have you for one moment loved God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?
This is exactly why Paul said, "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for through the law comes the knowledge of sin."

Finally, you suggest that I read Campolo and others. Let's see if you can pick up on this contradiction...Campolo also teaches that Christianity is loving God and your neighbor and doctrine is unimportant.
Well, how is it that he teaches that God's mercy may extend to Muslims who for one are worshipping a false God with all their heart, not to mention that they deny the deity of Christ? See why I don't neccessarily feel the need to read any of his works?

WES ELLIS said...

I'm gonna bring this to a close! (I'll be deleting any post which attempts to continue the conversation... sorry but it's just gotta end here)

We've all presented a pretty good argument I think and it's getting us no where. I hope that this conversation will somehow profit all of us down the road. Thanks!