Last week, I posted an article on hermeneutics both here and on my personal blog. Whoda thunk that this would be the trigger of a bizarre discussion trying to justify homosexual practice (within a monogamous relationship) as being congruent with the kingdom. What it has become, though, is a primer on why the ‘reader-response’ hermeneutic is so dangerous (just as dangerous as Chris P’s literalist hermeneutics, if not more so).

The conversation started like this:

Mark: My Hermeneutic is that everything a Christian really needs to know was said by Jesus himself. That’s why one would call himself a “Christian” instead of something else. All other text in the Bible is relatively minor supporting material. My greatest religious conflicts of opinion arise with people who prefer to give emphasis to Paul’s writings even when it directly contradicts Jesus’ instructions. I have never understood a person who thinks the words of a mere prophet are somehow equal in weight to words spoken by God himself.

Me: Just wondering – Where do you find Jesus and Paul in conflict?

Mark: The first glaring example that comes to mind is that Paul hates Gays. Jesus does not.

And then it spiraled out from there. Here are a few quotes from the conversation, though I would suggest going and reading for yourself (and commenting, if you’d like):

Mark: My question is this. Why do the Ten commandments specifically and clearly forbid lying, stealing, adultery and greed (thou shalt not covet) but yet the Ten Commandments say nothing about homosexuality? This is a point that should not be ignored. This clearly tells me that God does not view committed, monogamous homosexual relationships the same as he views lying, stealing, adultery and greed or he would have said so. Its also very clear in my soul that they are not the same. The commandments are believed to be as old as five thousand years. They have stood the test of time. Then, many thousands of years after the ten commandments were issued by God to mankind, Jesus came to Earth to challenge the significant sins of that day and once again God is completely silent about committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. This second indication from God himself confirms to me very clearly that monogamous homosexual relationships are not a very significant sin if indeed a sin at all.

I believe that Christians should focus on what God actually said (and what he didn’t say) and not worry much about words or meanings that mere people invented and tried to put in God’s mouth. People have been trying to use God to bolster their own profits and egos since the beginning of time.

A smidgen of my response:

Me: You said:

Its also very clear in my soul that they are not the same.

Once again, you have described a “reader-response” hermeneutic in which there is no rule which determines the meaning of scripture other than what is felt by the reader. This has never been an acceptable means of interpreting scripture, especially in Jesus’ day.

Parts of Mark’s Response:

Mark: You are replowing well plowed ground here but you are not addressing my point which is that God didn’t say these words, Paul did. Paul is not God.

The hermeneutic at work in your logic is “reader response”, a subset of eisegesis, which is not an acceptable hermeneutic for scripture.

To restate my point once again, I’m not interested in what or Paul (or any other mere mortal) thinks is an acceptable hermeneutic for scripture. I’m only interested in what God thinks. Paul is only useful to the extent that Paul’s words help me understand the mind of God.

And this:

Mark: Let me respond to this with a theoretically extreme example:

There are passages in the Bible where its claimed that God gives permission for the Israelites to murder women and children in cold blood and take the land for themselves. If someone came along with a logically air tight hermeneutic that requires that I also kill women and children and take their land I will say “NO!”. I will not do that. If I am then asked to show where the Bible says I don’t have to kill women and children, I will simply say that I don’t need to turn to the Bible because its written on my soul and I will not do it no matter what the Bible says.

My point is that there are “soul” issues that outrank the printed word. It is not a “reader-response” hermeneutic to refuse to kill women and children. Likewise, I know in my soul that life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships are not the same kind of sin as murder, adultry, lying, stealing and greed. Take special notice that I did not say homosexuality wasn’t a sin, just not the same kind as those listed in the Ten Commandments.

God was not silent in Torah on homosexual sin – it is specifically enumerated in a list of sexual sins in the details of the Law. To suggest that it not being “in the Ten Commandments” completely ignores what God passed down to the people through Moses in the Torah.

Quoting the Torah is always a tricky business. Leviticus is especially interesting.
Did you notice that Leviticus 18 does not forbid having sexual relations with one’s own daughter or one’s own slave? Why is that? Does that mean its ok? Also, in Leviticus 18:17 it says “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter.” This means that I can have sex with either the woman or her daughter but not both. Focusing on the Ten Commandments and what Jesus actually said helps clear away all this clutter and confusion.

To restate my point. God was indeed silent in the Ten Commandments and Jesus was also silent on the issue of life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. This tells me clearly that if its a sin then it isn’t a very important one, not as important as murder, adultry, theft, lying and greed.

My argument is that the mainstream Christian churches of today are applying their own “reader-response” hermeneutic by reducing the sins of adultery, lying and greed to lower importance while raising the issue of homosexuality to extreme proportions.

And here’s part of my last comment (where we’re at now):

Me: if you do not believe what he wrote is inspired, then you basically have no basis for hermeneutics, as you’ve denied the basic inspiration of the Bible. If that’s the case, then we really have no place for discussion, because you believe that the Bible is optional. However, if you believe the Bible is inspired by God and written by men being directed by the Holy Spirit, then it doesn’t matter if it came literally from God’s mouth (which all of the Torah did) or from Paul’s pen directed by God.

[...] It has nothing to do with my like or dislike for homosexual relationships – I have a number of gay friends who I pray for on a regular basis. They do not ‘creep me out’, nor are they ‘distasteful’ to me any more than other friends who sin in other ways – lying, cheating, being drunk, etc. I has nothing to do with what I want scripture to say – it is just what it says. I have no say in the matter.

[...] Jesus was not silent on the subject – he said For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ‘Sexual Immorality’ for EVERY first century Jew – including Jesus – is based upon where it is defined, that being Torah. Therefore, homosexual practice of any kind is included.

I do not say this because I want it to be that way. For the sake of those who have such temptation and inclinations, I wish it was not a sin, but God defines what sin is – not me – so I have to accept that.

My point is that I’m only interested in what God has to say in the matter.

And you’ve also made it clear that you don’t wish to hear what He has to say on the subject. It’s not a matter of ‘reader-response’ hermeneutics on the part of modern churches that SOME tend to treat homosexual practice as having ‘higher importance’ than other sins.

[...] just because some churches are poor-to-awful witnesses when it comes to their treatment of homosexual practice does not justify an opposite reaction, making homosexual practice a lesser sin – or no sin at all…

I wondered how long it would be until I started getting responses from the left of myself on either of these blogs. This past year has been surreal, finding out that there are folks to the right of me. Aside from 2007, this is more in line with the discussions I’m used to…

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72 Comments(+Add)

1   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
January 12th, 2008 at 1:08 am

I think his starting premise is faulty…

He seems to indicate that some sins are ‘lesser’ sins, and some sins are ‘greater’ sins.

This is an incorrect assumption. The wages of SIN is death. Sin is sin. That’s why this knee jerk reaction to Christians overemphasizing homosexual sin (by under emphasizing it) is incorrect to start with.

Other than that, I think you soundly debated this one out Chris. If man is the authority on how the Bible is read, or not read, or understood, then some people will just not hear you out.

You were right to say that you guys have no place for discussion, if he can’t agree that the Bible is God’s Word. Then there is no standard, because many is completely subjective and has no basis for right and wrong outside of God’s standard. If the Bible is taken out of the discussion, you can make morality out to be whatever you want it to be. You were in a tough position Chris, I think you handled it well.

Joe

2   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
January 12th, 2008 at 8:18 am

Wow! I can be hard-headed…but not THAT hard-headed! Not much you can do with that one. You were way more patient than I would have been.

3   Sandman    
January 12th, 2008 at 10:13 am

You know, I’ve had this discussion with gays who have an agenda to make it look like God has no problem with homosexual acting out and in fact, endorses it. It’s just another case of someone trying to find a loophole that does not exist.

My responses have always been along these lines:

Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.
The law is not just the first ten commandments (see love God above all, love your neighbor as yourself are the two greatest, but not mentioned), but all 600+ laws and instructions from the OT.

In point of fact, Jesus intensified the law to show how sinful and in need of saving we all are, right down to the things we say and the things we think, not just what we do. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Jesus covered fornication (gay or straight) under lust.

Cain murdered Abel before “You shall not murder” was given to Moses, yet Cain was still guilty before God and cursed. He was even warned after his offering that sin is crouching at his door; it desired to have him…

Sodom and Gommorah didn’t even have ten righteous men to be found to save them from destruction.

Since folks like Mark are the ones saying God has no problem with their behavior, the burden of proof is on them to show where in the Bible the eternal principle is something other than moral purity, monogamy, one man cleaving to one woman for life. (And before anyone mentions Solomon, I Kings 3-10 glows about him; chapter 11 is where the other shoe drops.)

4   Neil    
January 12th, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Chris L.,

When you got to the point where Mark said the things written on his soul trumped the things written in the Bible it was game over as far as any hermeneutic other than “What is right in their on eyes…”

Neil

5   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
January 12th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Chris,
I think you did an excellent job of handling that. It seems that poor guy is just over-correcting. In a way I really feel bad for people like that, because they’ve probably really been hurt by Christians at some point.

I do think his point about Jesus and Paul being at odds with one another is something a lot of Christians kind of do assume. I think a lot of people present them in kind of a good cop/bad cop sort of way. Sure Jesus said we have to love one another, but Paul says that we need to be harsh, etc. It’s really just that they don’t look at Scripture in it’s entirety.

Sandman,
I agree with the bulk of what you’re saying, but I don’t know that would say Jesus intensified the law. When He gave the Sermon on the Mount, He wasn’t “tightening the screws”, so to speak. He was really pointing out the Pharisees’ lack of understanding of the purpose of the law. They were the ones intensifying the law, or making it more burdensome. They were concerned with the external, but Jesus said the Kingdom would deal with the heart.

6   Sandman    
January 12th, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Phil,

When I say intensify, I’m not saying Jesus is tightening the screws. Jesus said “you have heard it said…but I say…” It’s not just an issue obeying the letter of the law, but the spririt of the law as well, which is what Jesus introduced all, and with which, showed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

7   Mark    
January 12th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

I just found out that I was being cross posted over here.

If you guys didn’t like my previous comments already cross posted here concerning the currently popular yet significantly flawed hermeneutics which can be affectionately summarized as “God hates fags” then you might also really enjoy getting worked up over my most recent comments.

Chris L wrote:
“You will notice that I did not bring this subject up, BtW, so please don’t accuse me of holding this stance – because I don’t.”

I responded:
“Actually, this homosexuality discussion is just one example of my hermeneutic of separating the words of God from the words of men and giving a priority to God’s words. Another example that we can discuss later is Paul’s obnoxious and violent attitude that I believe is completely contradictory to Jesus’ instructions for how Christians should behave. But then again, Paul is a reformed murderer so it is understandable that in the soul of a cold blooded killer there would be lingering violent tendencies.

I wonder how many Christians would not have suffered at the hands of Paul if he had followed his God given “soul” instead of blindly following his flawed Jewish hermeneutic that [he believed] required him to murder Christians.”

8   Mark    
January 12th, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Chris L wrote:
>”I wondered how long it would be until I started
>getting responses from the left of myself on either
>of these blogs.”

Its interesting to note that I’m not homosexual. I enjoy joking with my friends that I’m such a flaming heterosexual, my own body repulses me. I also vote republican and I think that George Bush is one of the best Presidents we have had since Reagan. I also think that students should be free to pray in school whenever they want and that the flaws in evolution theory should be critically discussed in all public schools and that creation theory should be allowed to challenge all competing ideas.

I am a little concerned that only a portion of my comments were posted here by Chris. In the interest of fairness, you should go over to the other blog and read all my comments before judging my point of view.

http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/?p=191#comments

9   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 12th, 2008 at 11:47 pm

Mark – if you look in the OP above, I sent them to the article over on fishing – I was not trying to be unfair to you – I was trying to bring more folks into the conversation…

10   Mark    
January 13th, 2008 at 10:10 am

You might notice that I use the term “logical quagmire” quite often. I selected the word “quagmire” carefully. It does not imply logical error. The logical thinking you guys use to dig down into scripture is fine but it often leads to strange results that, in my view, conflict with Jesus’ instructions. Paul’s logical hermeneutics lead him down a murderous path until God had to intervene to straighten him out.

The logical quagmire I’m most interested in discussing at this moment is why did God give us the long and gritty details in Leviticus 18 (although sex with daughters and sex with slaves is conspicuously absent) when all those prohibitions are clearly already forbidden by the simple rules that you can’t have sex until you are married and then after marriage you can only have sex with your own wife? Is there something else going on in Leviticus 18 that the currently popular hermeneutics is ignoring?

11   Mark    
January 13th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Chris L wrote:
>”Whoda thunk that this would be the trigger of a
>bizarre discussion trying to justify homosexual
>practice (within a monogamous relationship)
>as being congruent with the kingdom”

I still don’t understand what is so “bizarre” about the idea that if God is going to send to hell homosexuals who are involved in a life long, committed, monogamous relationship then why didn’t he bother to mention it specifically in the ten commandments and why did Jesus not bother to mention it while he was walking the Earth? I’m looking for an answer other than “find a pastor or elder with lots of church credentials and just blindly believe what he tells you”

Also I would like to clarify an important point. I’m not saying that homosexual practice is “congruent with the kingdom”. I’m saying that Christians need to instead be worrying about much more important sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, divorce, adultery and coveting. Once a Christian has conquered all those planks in his own eyes should he put any time or effort into worrying about the life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships of other Christians.

12   nc    
January 13th, 2008 at 9:22 pm

hmmmm…I dunno if we can “carte blanche” diminish “reader response”. We can’t escape ourselves…so in a sense all reading is a confluence of author/text/reader. The issue is privileging one over the other. The interesting thing is that many “confessional” readings (i.e. denominationally driven, etc.) are in reality “reader based” theories of approaching the text that are no different than feminist theories, liberation theories, marxist theories, etc. etc. of reading. The thing that makes some of them insidious is they claim to be purely “authorial” or “textual” and fail to admit they have prior commitments to their engagement of whatever they’re reading

13   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 14th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

NC,

I dunno if we can “carte blanche” diminish “reader response”. We can’t escape ourselves…so in a sense all reading is a confluence of author/text/reader. The issue is privileging one over the other.

A similar term for the “reader-response” hermeneutic is eisegesis – where you come to to scripture with what you want it to say, and then you discount or ignore those scriptures which conflict and only emphasize those which support it.

In the cast of the current conversation, this is what is going on:

Torah? It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t written in the Ten Commandments (ignoring what they are in the narrative).

The gospels: They don’t really matter outside of what is literally said, ignoring what is meant by the words. (In this case, that “sexual immorality” is left to the eye of the beholder since it HAS TO BE separated from Lev. 18 to match the reader’s responsive thesis).

The epistles: Paul was a bigot and they don’t matter.

The bottom line is, if you don’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture, then you might as well not claim it as any more authoritative than Paradise Lost. If you do believe in inerrancy, then the next step is to let scripture inform you rather than the reverse. It’s not always easy, whereas it IS pretty easy to slip into trying to make the Bible say what you wish it said.

14   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 14th, 2008 at 2:58 pm

why did God give us the long and gritty details in Leviticus 18 (although sex with daughters and sex with slaves is conspicuously absent) when all those prohibitions are clearly already forbidden by the simple rules that you can’t have sex until you are married and then after marriage you can only have sex with your own wife? Is there something else going on in Leviticus 18 that the currently popular hermeneutics is ignoring?

In Hebrew understanding, once a man had sexual relations with a woman, they were “one flesh” with them. If both had been virgins (or were divorced or widowed), they were then considered to be married, ceremony or not. If one was married, it was a case of adultery.

When the Torah was given, mankind was several thousand years from understanding genetics. Thus, instructions were given in Lev 18:6 not to have sexual relations with a close relative. Then, to define “close relative”, Lev 18:7-18 were given.

Lev 18:19-21 cover sexual practices that were related to fertility worship of Caanan’s gods – sex during menstruation (the pagans did this as a way of ‘giving’ blood to the gods so that they would sympathetically grant fertility to the crops, the herds and the people) – orgies (often held in high places to try to get the gods to copulate and bring fertility) – child sacrifice (also done during times of famine to bring fertility).

Lev 18:22-23 then dealt with sexual practices which did not involve a man and a woman, but which were also covered under “sexual immorality” – homosexuality and bestiality.

So, why didn’t God try to just write it as don’t “have sex until you are married and then after marriage you can only have sex with your own wife?” Probably because, as evidenced throughout scripture and our own experience, man will always look for a loophole. Also, because the mortality rate was so high and the discovery of the genetics of inbreeding was still millenia off…

15   Neil    
January 14th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Mark,

God does not send anyone to Hell based on their sins. People are condemned to Hell based on being born sinners, or another way of putting it – they are “sent” to Hell because of sin not sins. So the issue of God sending homosexuals to Hell who are in a long-term, loving and committed relationship is moot to the discussion.

Neil

16   Sandman    
January 14th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Chris L, that was a great explanation for those willing to hear it.

Something else to consider:

Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is love God with all your heart, mind and soul. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Since neither of these are specifically enumerated in the Ten Commandments, is it a big deal or a small infraction to break them?

Lastly, in light of James 2:10, isn’t the issue of what sins Jesus came to address moot?

17   Sandman    
January 14th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Wow, two comments in a row containing the word “moot.”

18   Neil    
January 14th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Mark,

The issue of homosexuality in this case is just an example of your hermeneutic that we believe is flawed. You have driven an unwarranted wedge between Jesus and Paul – which allows you to accept the things you like and reject the things you don’t.

But as soon as you say that Paul’s comments are not Bible worthy because he didn’t follow what was written on is soul – you’ve started judging the content of the Bible on your own terms as opposed to letting the Bible judge you.

19   Neil    
January 14th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Mark,

The bottom line is, if we accept your hermeneutic, then we have gutted the Bible of ALL its relevance. Once we admit/allow parts to be removed, we have removed the whole.

Neil

20   Mark    
January 15th, 2008 at 12:22 am

Neil wrote:
>”if we accept your hermeneutic, then we have
>gutted the Bible of ALL its relevance.”

The words God personally etched in stone and handed to mankind and the words that he spoke while walking the Earth in the form of a man will always be relevant.

>”Once we admit/allow parts to be removed, we have
>removed the whole.”

Gosh, this sounds like you are hopelessly immersed in “brick world” thinking. My hermeneutic prefers springs over bricks. You can probably tell who I’ve been reading lately.

My hermeneutic requires that we always keep in mind that God is the only relevance. We should be very careful not to worship one of God’s books or God’s prophets over God himself because when God returns we might just try to kill him once again because of our clever and logical (but yet tragically flawed) hermeneutics that erroneously lead us to believe that he really isn’t the “God of the Bible”.

Let me say it again because its such an important point. We murdered God the first time around because of our clever but flawed hermeneutics. The blood is on our hands. Shouldn’t we try to be a bit more careful the second time around?

21   Neil    
January 15th, 2008 at 12:58 am

I understand brickology and springology, but even springs are attached to a framework. I find your framework lacking, or weak since you have created a false-dichotomy between the words spoken by God and those inspired by him, though written by others. Therefore, all Scripture is inspired… not just the parts we like.

So for example, it would be just as poor a hermeneutic to lessen Paul (compared to the red letters) as it would be to lesson Isaiah (compared to what Moses dictated)

I’m not hopelessly immersed in a brick world, I can spring as it were… but I’m not gonna jettison springs based on my feeling about their subject matter.

Neil

22   Neil    
January 15th, 2008 at 1:00 am

You are correct – we should be extremely careful how we handle the word of God, and that care would dictate we not just erase the parts our souls may object to… though I don’t think it was a poor hermeneutic that sent Christ to the cross.

Neil

23   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 15th, 2008 at 9:48 am

Mark,

The ‘brick’ vs. ’spring’ analogy was also primarily directed at systematic theology (in which each doctrine builds upon another doctrine) as compared to the theology of the first century during Jesus’ time, where orthopraxy and practical doctrine were much more in the forefront.

Additionally, the analogy Bell uses doesn’t say ‘toss out the springs’ or the Ten Commandments are all that matters (or hold some level of primacy). Rather, it says to examine them – find out what the scriptures say vs. all of the ’stuff’ added based on Catholic and/or Reformed traditions and systems.

The example he used with the Virgin Birth didn’t say to toss it out (in fact, he reaffirms his belief in it), but to examine it for what it true and what has been added. You may not be familiar with Catholicism, but there are a number of ‘bricks’ that have been built upon Mary – perpetual virginity, sinless nature, direct ascent to heaven, etc. – which do not come from scripture. Some protestant traditions have also added ‘bricks’ – that Mary’s virginity was required because of original sin through Adam, etc.

So, examining ‘homosexuality’ as a topic, using the same analogy, would say that there are things that have been added by the church – such as treating those who are active homosexuals as greater sinners than those who are habitual liars, or labeling someone a homosexual sinner because of the temptation (even if they have not acted out upon it) – which should be jettisoned. However, per Neil’s follow-up, there is still a framework to which the springs are attached, and that is scripture (ALL of it, not just what is convenient).

Did you read the link on the Ten Commandments I sent you? God did not put them in stone because they were greater than all other laws. He put them in stone as the mark of a covenant, which in the ancient world included a high-level summary of a binding contract/covenant.

__________

Also, my comment in the OP about you being “to the left” of me was not a political statement, but a theological one. One of the trademarks of liberal theology is the use of eisegesis and discounting both the OT and the writings of Paul because of their non-politically-correct ramifications.

24   Mark    
January 16th, 2008 at 9:16 am

Neil wrote:
>”I don’t think it was a poor hermeneutic that
>sent Christ to the cross.”

You make it sound like you think God killed Jesus and not us.

It was not only poor hermeneutics but also a hermeneutic failure on the part of the highest ranking, most educated, most powerful religious leaders of that day. Because of their arrogant failure they killed the very savior for which they had been waiting a thousand years. What more tragic story could have ever been conceived or told?

The blood of the torture and murder of Jesus is indeed on our hands. By trying to destroy the man we destroyed ourselves.

The most amazing miracle of all time is that God choose to take Jesus’ blood from our hands and put it in a cup and offer it as a gift of new life for anyone who would accept it.

God did not kill Jesus. We did.

Don’t let the gift confuse you about the crime or who is responsible for that crime.

25   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 16th, 2008 at 9:41 am

It was not only poor hermeneutics but also a hermeneutic failure on the part of the highest ranking, most educated, most powerful religious leaders of that day.

Mark,

It was not a failure of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) with the Sanhedrin (which was behind the effort to kill Jesus), but rather that Jesus was a threat to their source of wealth, power and prestige.

Certainly, there was a failure on the part of the zealot movement and many of Jesus’ followers (who were of ‘orthodox’ (not like modern orthodox) or ‘pharisee’ in theology) who expected him to be a conquering Messiah. But the key culprits – the Sadducee party – were already in bed with the Romans, and had self-interest in mind, not service to God.

26   Neil    
January 16th, 2008 at 10:36 am

Mark,

If I’m guilty of making it sound like God killed Jesus, then you are guilty of making it sound like Jesus’ death was some kind of historical accident or that it could/should have been avoided.

The truth lies somewhere in between – I suppose… how’s that for being “springy?”

The Scriptures make it clear that those who literally killed Jesus were responsible for it, Scriptures also make it clear that “we” are as culpable as them… yet the whole thing, the provision of a sacrifice, was initiated by God the Father – so, take you pick as to whose “fault” it was…

27   Joe C    http://www.joe4gzus.blogspot.com
January 16th, 2008 at 10:47 am

God’s doing, through sinful man.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed…
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. Isaiah 53: 5, 10

I think that’s a Biblical answer to “who dun it”.

Joe

28   Neil    
January 16th, 2008 at 10:56 am

Unless of course you “write-off” Isaiah because it’s not directly from the “mouth” of God.

I’m not trying to be snarky, just applying Mark’s hermeneutic – He dismisses Paul because he only wants to “hear what God says on the matter” and his soul feels (what was that exact term, mark?) Paul is wrong so he should be redacted from the Scriptures.

Well, Isaiah is not God either, so what do we care what he had to say about Christ’s death?

Neil

29   Mark    
January 16th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

Neil, your response did seem to be getting a bit snarky. I don’t recall ever using the term “write-off”. I said God’s prophets such as Paul are not co-equal with God, thus their writings are considered supporting material in my hermeneutic. They are not “written-off” but Paul can’t come along later and add condemnation for something that Jesus never bothered to mention. You are also running wild and loose with my mention of soul issues. My hermeneutic does not rely on what the reader feels God’s words ought to be, as you imply. It is not a “reader-response” hermeneutic to notice that the Commandment says thou shall not commit adultery. The Commandment does not say homosexuality and it doesn’t even say “various sexual sins”. It talks only about adultery. If that commandment was really a summary title for Leviticus then why does it say adultery instead of something more generic? There are valid questions here that you are choosing to ignore. You (or was it Chris?) also haven’t addressed all the other prohibitions in Leviticus that modern day Christians routinely choose to ignore. Why do you get to pick and choose what parts of Leviticus you obey?

While we are on the subject of readers of the Bible putting their feelings above the words, why is it that some Christians protest in groups waving signs that say “God hates fags” but not very many Christians hang outside of churches where divorced people are marrying their second (or third or fourth) spouse waving signs saying “God hates adulterers”?? No one is waving signs that say “God hates coveters” yet these are actual sins mentioned in the Commandments. If you were honest with yourself you would admit that, even though not mentioned anywhere in the Ten Commandments, homosexuality is clearly an emotional issue for many Christians thus they are putting their feelings above the text.

In summary, it just isn’t credible for you to imply that there is no “reader-response” in your hermeneutics. I see “reader-response” all over your hermeneutics that you aren’t willing to admit.

30   Mark    
January 16th, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Neil wrote:
>”… then you are guilty of making it sound like Jesus’
>death was some kind of historical accident or that it
>could/should have been avoided.”

If mankind has free will then Jesus’ death could/should have been avoided. If mankind does not have free will then all our sins are God’s fault and not ours.

Take your pick.

What would the world look like if all the faithful had stopped just before nailing Jesus to the cross and stood together and held hands and looked up into the sky and affirmed that God’s commandments forbid murder so we aren’t going to kill this man today. We could have all shouted toward heaven: “Yes, we have thousands of years of murder and killing and blood on our hands but we decide not to kill today!”

God would have had to come up with something else to secure our salvation but that still would have been a day that would have made me proud go be a human being.

31   Mark    
January 16th, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Neil wrote:
>”I understand brickology and springology, but even
>springs are attached to a framework.”

The “framework” of my hermeneutics is the actual words etched in stone or spoken by God himself. The words of the prophets are springs.

[It is rumored that Art Garfunkel says the words of the prophets are written on subway walls.]

32   Neil    
January 16th, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Mark,

If I have written too much into your soulish motivations – I apologize.

Chris has sufficiently addressed the issue of homosexuality and the corpus of the Law – beyond just the 10 that you favor.

As for Fred Phelps and why more of us don’t model his behavior in other areas – not sure of the relevance so I’ll move on…

I see no point in re-hashing the arguments of why ALL Scripture is inspired – equally. Intersetingly, in the inspiration passage “Scripture” is singular – one Scripture.

As for your views on Christ’s death – interesting, not very biblical from my pov, but interesting.

Neil

33   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
January 17th, 2008 at 6:38 am

God did not kill Jesus. We did.

Matt 20:28 “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matt 27: 50. And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

I think that should clear up who killed Jesus.

He gave up His own Life… no one took it from Him.

iggy

34   Mark    
January 17th, 2008 at 8:27 am

Iggy,

Interesting point.

Let me clarify by saying that yes, Jesus gave up his own life but we had the free will to refuse to participate. Our free choice to participate in Jesus’ death makes us guilty of murdering the savior for which we had been waiting over a thousand years. There is nothing more tragic. We did not harm God by murdering Jesus. We only hurt ourselves.

35   Mark    
January 17th, 2008 at 8:36 am

Neil wrote:
>”Chris has sufficiently addressed the issue of
>homosexuality and the corpus of the Law –
>beyond just the 10 that you favor.”

Neil!

You did it again.

They are not the 10 that “I FAVOR”. They are the ten that God chose to etch in the stone. God chose no others to put on the stone. All I’m doing is noticing that fact while other hermeneutics choose to ignore it.

Chris has sufficiently addressed the issue of homosexuality and the corpus of the Law – beyond just the 10 that you favor.

36   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 17th, 2008 at 10:03 am

They are not the 10 that “I FAVOR”. They are the ten that God chose to etch in the stone. God chose no others to put on the stone.

That’s the problem, Mark – you DO purposely favor them over all of God’s other commands from Torah by ignoring the entire practice of covenants in the Hebrew culture.

We have examples of dozens, if not hundreds, of ancient covenants. I have now given you a link to a much deeper explanation of this, but you’ve chosen to ignore it. You have no “hermeneutic” – you’ve made it up as you’ve gone along. In the history of Judiasm and Christianity, there is no record of ANY group holding the Ten Commandments in primacy over all of Torah. None. You’re all by yourself on this, and it seems a bit arrogant to suggest that in the 5,000 years since the giving of Torah, that you are the first to understand it correctly.

God put the Ten Commandments on stone – the full set on each tablet – as the preamble and summary of the covenant. The entirety of the covenant He dictated to Moses, who dutifully passed it on in the Torah. You can choose to ignore it. In fact, you have.

It’s not that “other hermeneutics choose to ignore it” – it is that NO hermeneutic in the expanse of time has held the Ten Commandments in primacy over the whole. None. You may be smart, but I think, in this case, we’re going to have to go with the prophets, Jesus, Paul and the folks who had the entirety of scripture memorized and completely dedicated their lives to it…

37   Neil    
January 17th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Mark,

“They are not the 10 that ‘I FAVOR’. They are the ten that God chose to etch in the stone. God chose no others to put on the stone. All I’m doing is noticing that fact while other hermeneutics choose to ignore it.”

My apologies for saying you favor them.

Other hermeneutics do not ignore the fact that those 10 were etched in stone. They just choose to take the whole council of God as one unit – not something that we can place into a hierarchy based on “author.”

What you are doing, when you say Paul addresses things not addressed by Jesus (and therefore dismiss them), is to minimize the sovereignty of God when it comes to his ability and willingness to insure that the Word of God is truly the Word of God.

I say you dismiss them because you are, when you choose to say Paul was wrong – for whatever reason, you dismiss him. And in the process you say that God has not (Through lack of ability or willingness) kept his word intact.

Neil

38   Mark    
January 18th, 2008 at 8:02 am

Neil wrote:
>”Other hermeneutics do not ignore the fact that
>those 10 were etched in stone. They just choose
>to take the whole council of God as one unit – not
>something that we can place into a hierarchy
>I say you dismiss them because you are, when
>you choose to say Paul was wrong – for whatever
>reason, you dismiss him.

So help me understand how I can turn the page of my bible from Leviticus 18 over to Leviticus 19:19 and see the commands “Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed” and “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material”

In my hermeneutic, since these instructions are not in the Ten Commandments and I don’t recall Jesus speaking about them so they are considered supporting material.

If I understand your hermeneutic correctly you claim that ALL text in the Bible is equal.

So I have to ask.

Do you follow these instructions?

If not then what clever rationale do you use in order to try and convince yourself that it really isn’t a “reader-response” hermeneutic??

39   Mark    
January 18th, 2008 at 8:32 am

Chris L wrote:
>”God put the Ten Commandments on stone – the
>full set on each tablet – as the preamble and
>summary of the covenant. The entirety of the
>covenant He dictated to Moses, who dutifully
>passed it on in the Torah. You can choose to
>ignore it. In fact, you have.

On the contrary, from my point of view it seems clear that it is you who is ignoring the fact that the Commandment says “Adultery”. It says only “Adultery” and does not mention any other kind of sexual sin. The word “Adultery” is clearly not a summary statement for all sexual sin. It is a specific statement covering only one specific kind of sexual sin.

Its interesting to notice how the different hermeneutic techniques choose to ignore different parts of the Bible and then any argument that subsequently ensues always seems to boil down to who thinks they have the more clever rationale.

Tell me, Chris, if all “sins” in the Bible are equal then what is your hermeneutical rationale for why you don’t have to make sure you don’t wear any clothing made of two different kinds of material as required by Leviticus 19:19?

40   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
January 18th, 2008 at 9:01 am

Mark,
I have kind of followed this conversation, but I probably haven’t read all the comments as in-depth as I should. Anyway, in response to your most recent comments, I would say that ever since the events that are recorded in the book of Acts are recorded, the Church has divided the moral laws of the OT from the ceremonial ones.

In Chapter 15 of Acts, the Council at Jerusalem wrote a letter to Gentile believers and it only gave them a few requirements:

(v. 28-29)It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

The interesting thing is that all of these things had to do with idol worship. They believed that these were the bare minimum things needed to maintain separation from Pagan practice. Food sacrificed to idols isn’t a real problem in our day, but sexual sin is. I believe it is still an area where the Church needs to maintain some separation.

The Law was never about what you can do and still be good. It was about obedience for the sake of honoring God. Even to OT Jews, it wasn’t seens as a mere list of rules and regulations, or a works-based righteousness. This is something of a myth that has been perpetuated for a long time in the Church.

41   Cindy    
January 18th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Comment from Mark
Time: January 13, 2008, 12:11 pm

“…Also I would like to clarify an important point. I’m not saying that homosexual practice is “congruent with the kingdom”. I’m saying that Christians need to instead be worrying about much more important sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, divorce, adultery and coveting. Once a Christian has conquered all those planks in his own eyes should he put any time or effort into worrying about the life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships of other Christians.”

Mark,
I am confused. You state over and over again how you wish Christians would use the Ten Commandments as their guide to focus on the most important sins, yet in the above statement you mention “divorce”.

Where, etched in stone, given to Moses by God, is the mention of divorce as a sin? Your rationale seems flawed.

42   Mark    
January 19th, 2008 at 2:55 am

Hi, Cindy.

I believe that Christians should focus on what God actually said (and what he didn’t say).

God’s prophets are not co-equal with God, thus their writings are considered to be supporting material in my hermeneutic.

My understanding of the Bible is that God went to a lot of trouble to put ten commandments on stone tablets and then he went to even more trouble to come to Earth in person to speak to us directly in the form of Jesus.

The homosexuality/Leviticus discussion was only one small example of the logical quagmires that can be avoided by focusing on what God actually said to us by either his own voice or his own writing upon stone tablets.

Jesus did talk specifically about divorce but not about homosexuality.

In summary, if God didn’t mention it directly then Christians shouldn’t spend much time worrying about it.

43   Mark    
January 19th, 2008 at 3:11 am

Phil Miller wrote:

In Chapter 15 of Acts…

(v. 28-29)It seemed good to the Holy Spirit

Phil, isn’t it amazing they said it only “seemed good”??

Its almost as if they weren’t sure and were taking their best guess. I wish that all Christians would be so humble in their attempts to understand the mind of God.

It does indeed seem like Paul and Leviticus don’t like the act of homosexuality but it also seems like Leviticus is only talking about homosexual orgies as part of worshipping other gods. It also seems like Leviticus commands us not to wear clothing made of two different kinds of materials. Am I going to hell because the label on my shirt says “80 percent cotton 20 percent wool”?? We need to be very careful about what the Bible seems to be saying because its very complicated and logical quagmires are found around every corner. I find it much easier to understand the mind of God by focusing on what he actually said to us directly through the Commandments and his own spoken words.

44   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
January 19th, 2008 at 8:46 am

if God didn’t mention it directly then Christians shouldn’t spend much time worrying about it.

I admit I haven’t read this thread in minute detail, but THIS statement pretty much leaves the door wide open in several areas.

45   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
January 19th, 2008 at 8:46 am

Sorry about the all bold post…forgot to close a tag.

46   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 19th, 2008 at 9:40 am

NP, Keith…

This isn’t even “emergent”/”emerging” – it’s further to the left than “liberal theology”.

Mark’s “hermeneutic” (using the term VERY loosely here) basically throws out everything not written on stone tablets (ignoring exactly what the tablets were) or red ink as optional supporting material that might or might not be considered, based upon the whim of the reader.

47   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 19th, 2008 at 9:45 am

Mark,

Leviticus 18 is a expansion on the definition of “sexual sin”, with ‘adultery’ being the primary (summary) sin in the preamble (”Ten Commandment”). Lev. 18 is not a summation of ways to avoid worshipping other gods.

The items you’ve cited in other chapters (hybrid cloth, etc.) were part of ceremonial law (which is part of the Mosaic covenant that was not passed on as a requirement of Gentile Christians in Acts 15.

The primary flaw in your entire “hermeneutic” is that you pretty much flat-out ignore WHAT the Ten Commandments are, which dooms you to failure of interpretation at the start. If you can’t advance beyond this, you’ve basically hit the point where this will just become a circular argument.

So – if you ever come to a decision that the Bible, beyond the red letters and the Ten Commandments, is something more than “optional”, we can continue this. Otherwise, it’s probably just best to drop it.

48   Neil    
January 19th, 2008 at 10:38 am

If I understand your hermeneutic correctly you claim that ALL text in the Bible is equal.So I have to ask.

Do you follow these instructions?  – Mark

  – Mark 

To say that all the text is equal does not mean all is followed equally. I won’ take the bandwidth to site examples – it’s too obvious.

Neil

49   F Whittenburg    http://www.christiannewbirth.com
January 19th, 2008 at 11:09 am

Sandman said: “Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is love God with all your heart, mind and soul. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Since neither of these are specifically enumerated in the Ten Commandments, is it a big deal or a small infraction to break them?”

Good point Sandman, but I have observed people trying to keep these commandents in the power and determination of the flesh. There is no spiritual power in the flesh of the heart, it must be circumcised by the Lord (Col 2:9-12 KJV) to successfully keep the great commandments.

And the Lord they God will CIRCUMCISE THINE HEART, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live (Deuteronomy 30:6 KJV).

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:26-28 KJV).

The “circumcision of the heart” was the true circumcision that was the seal of the covenant with Abraham and not the circumcision of the flesh of the physical body (Romans 4:9-14 KJV). This is where the Jewish priest missed it in their understanding of the “sinful flesh”.

The flesh of the physical body is not the “sinful flesh” that needs to be circumsised as a seal of righteousness.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is WITHOUT the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18 KJV).

The physical body just gets the blame for the “sins of the flesh”. The physical body can only do what a wicked heart or a defiled mind tell it to do. I wrote a whole chapter on the “spiritual circumsicion” in my ebook When Faith Came called “Understanding Circumsicion”. It is the “spiritual circumsicion” event that opens up access to the spiritual world to the believer.

F Whittenburg
http://www.christiannewbirth.com/whenfaithcame.html

50   Neil    
January 19th, 2008 at 11:25 am

I believe that Christians should focus on what God actually said (and what he didn’t say). God’s prophets are not co-equal with God, thus their writings are considered to be supporting material in my hermeneutic….In summary, if God didn’t mention it directly then Christians shouldn’t spend much time worrying about it. – Mark

– MarkProblem:
- “prophetic writings are supporting material”; this may be true (to some extent), but then you take it a step further by saying we can dismiss portions because it contradicts. Worse yet, the contradiction is base on an argument from silence – e.g. “Since Jesus never said…”

Problem:
- “God’s prophets are not co-equal with God, thus their writings are considered to be supporting material in my hermeneutic….”; Again, true God and the prophets are not equal, but your “thus” goes too far. Being non-equal does not necessitate inferior writing – particularly if you take “inspiration” seriously… God saw to it that the prophet’s words were as accurate and of equal standing as his own because, ultimately, they were all his words.

Problem:
- “…if God didn’t mention it directly then Christians shouldn’t spend much time worrying about it”; Pretty much the same as above – this is a false wedge. If you believe that the Bible was inspired, that the Holy Spirit carried the writers along, then all words carry equal weight. In effect you are denying verbal inspiration.

Neil

51   Mark    
January 19th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Chris L wrote:

The primary flaw in your entire “hermeneutic” is that you pretty much flat-out ignore WHAT the Ten Commandments are, which dooms you to failure of interpretation at the start. If you can’t advance beyond this, you’ve basically hit the point where this will just become a circular argument.

Under most circumstances I would agree that circular arguments are not a good use of one’s time but in this case a few trips around the Ferris wheel might still have some value. Your claim that the Commandment “thou shall not commit adultery” is really a summary statement representing all of Leviticus 18 (but not the prohibition against wearing two kinds of cloth in Leviticus 19) encouraged me to go find my Bible, brush the dust off, open it and take another look at Leviticus.

I would argue that any discussion which inspires us to go take another look in our Bibles is a good discussion. The fact that my Bible had dust on it is a personal embarrassment for me. I do use biblegateway.com a lot. Can I use that as an excuse?

Perhaps we should change Rob Bell’s statement around a little bit and say: “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi but not in the dust from your bible”.

52   Neil    
January 19th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Mark,

I’m glad to hear your are shaking off the dust of your Bible – and yes, as far as I’m concerned you can use “I do use biblegateway.com a lot” as an excuse – so to speak. God’s word is God’s word whether ink on paper or electrically charged liquid crystals.

I also think it great to have discussion like you and Chris L. are having. But, considering the discussion you and I are having I ask – how seriously do you take the Bible if you are willing to dismiss some of the parts that are not written in stone by God, or in red letters?

I encourage you though, to reconsider the “whole” of the word of God. That is – unless you are willing to say that parts of the Bible are wrong, that the whole Bible cannot be trusted, that God has not protected this single book as a whole document – the red letters are no more “valuable” or “binding” than the black.

Neil

53   Mark    
January 19th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Sandman wrote:

Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is love God with all your heart, mind and soul. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Since neither of these are specifically enumerated in the Ten Commandments, is it a big deal or a small infraction to break them?

If you have been following closely the several explanations of my hermeneutic, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you when I answer that Jesus’ personal response above is the last and highest word on the subject. That’s why I call myself a “Christian” because I go with what Christ had to say over and above all else. If I ever had to choose between the Ten commandments and the words of Jesus himself I would choose to take Jesus’ word over anything else. However, I can’t imagine this ever being a problem with the Ten Commandments since they so totally and completely harmonize with Jesus’ two commandments, one is from the point of view of the law and the other from love and compassion.

54   Mark    
January 20th, 2008 at 9:46 am

Once upon a time I wrote:

… if all “sins” in the Bible are equal then what is your hermeneutical rationale for why you don’t have to make sure you don’t wear any clothing made of two different kinds of material as required by Leviticus 19:19?

Chris L wrote:

The items you’ve cited in other chapters (hybrid cloth, etc.) were part of ceremonial law (which is part of the Mosaic covenant that was not passed on as a requirement of Gentile Christians in Acts 15.

Its a bit confusing for me when you claim that the prohibition against two kinds of cloth is only ceremonial because if you take a close look at Leviticus 19, the cloth rule is part of a long list of moral laws not ceremonial ones. Here are just a few examples of that list in Leviticus 19:

11 ” ‘Do not steal.
” ‘Do not lie.
” ‘Do not deceive one another.

13 ” ‘Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him.
” ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.

14 ” ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD.

15 ” ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

16 ” ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
” ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.

17 ” ‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.

18 ” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

19 ” ‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.
” ‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
” ‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

20 ” ‘If a man sleeps with a woman who is a slave girl promised to another man…

Hey, take another look at that last one. The Bible, once again, says its ok to have sex with your slave girl if she is not promised to another man. The Bible is clearly condoning sex with slaves and daughters yet the currently popular hermeneutics to which you subscribe seems to be just waving its hands and pretending that these passages don’t exist.

Chris L wrote:

The primary flaw in your entire “hermeneutic” is that you pretty much flat-out ignore WHAT the Ten Commandments are, which dooms you to failure of interpretation at the start.

From my point of view I’m not ignoring what the Ten Commandments are. In fact, per your instructions, I’m reading Leviticus (all of Leviticus) and there is a lot of shocking stuff there that you don’t seem to want to deal with.

From reading Leviticus, its also clear that the old testament considers women and slaves to be mere property for a man to buy and sell and to have sexual relations whenever he desires as long as the girl is not “promised” to another “man”. Your hermeneutic seems to say that elevating the status of women (and slave girls) to full fledged human beings is nothing more than a “reader-response” hermeneutic and thus should be avoided.

It seems so obvious to me that you are just picking and choosing your own favored parts of the Bible to enforce and other parts to ignore. It seems you do all this while accusing others of “reader-response” hermeneutics. These techniques of the currently popular hermeneutics which you support seem outrageously disingenuous and self serving.

Phil Miller wrote:

In Chapter 15 of Acts, the Council at Jerusalem wrote a letter to Gentile believers and it only gave them a few requirements:

(v. 28-29)It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

I just noticed that this passage in the Bible says “It seemed good to … us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements. Isn’t that exactly the “reader-response” hermeneutic about which you guys have been scolding me?

55   Sandman    
January 20th, 2008 at 11:28 am

Mark,

God spoke directly to Moses. Don’t what more you can ask for regarding God’s word on a matter.

Since the Apostles, and Paul was one of them, were taught by the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the same, at first blush it seems you’re trying to go the Ayn Rand route (if it isn’t rational to me, discard it), or you’re going the “god of your understanding” approach.

Nothing new under the sun. People have been trying to strip the Bible of it power for millennia.

56   Mark    
January 20th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Mark,

God spoke directly to Moses. [I] Don’t [know] what more you can ask for regarding God’s word on a matter.

I could ask that God come down to Earth himself and address all the people instead of just whispering privately to Moses. Guess what? He did just that in the form of Jesus.

That’s why I call myself a “Christian” instead of a “Mosesian”

Since the Apostles, and Paul was one of them, were taught by the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the same, at first blush it seems you’re trying to go the Ayn Rand route (if it isn’t rational to me, discard it), or you’re going the “god of your understanding” approach.

It seems arrogant to me to say anything other than “this is my best understanding of how God wants the world to be”. How confident can you be of your own Biblical interpretations before you become guilty of trying to be a god yourself?

Nothing new under the sun. People have been trying to strip the Bible of it power for millennia.

I’m trying to find out who stripped the Bible of its authority to allow the owning and the raping of slave girls per Leviticus 19:20 as long as they haven’t been “promised” to another man and who was it who dared go against the bible and ban sexual relations with your own daughters even though Leviticus 18 does not forbid such behavior? Are you saying that Ayn Rand is the one who banned slavery and rape? Have you even read Leviticus 18 & 19??

My quest is to figure out which rules in Leviticus you say I can ignore and which ones you claim “strip the Bible of its power”. I don’t understand the rationale behind your decisions so I’m asking for clarification.

57   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 20th, 2008 at 3:34 pm

I’m trying to find out who stripped the Bible of its authority to allow the owning and the raping of slave girls per Leviticus 19:20 as long as they haven’t been “promised” to another man and who was it who dared go against the bible and ban sexual relations with your own daughters even though Leviticus 18 does not forbid such behavior? Are you saying that Ayn Rand is the one who banned slavery and rape? Have you even read Leviticus 18 & 19??

My quest is to figure out which rules in Leviticus you say I can ignore and which ones you claim “strip the Bible of its power”. I don’t understand the rationale behind your decisions so I’m asking for clarification.

1) Leviticus 18 does NOT permit sexual relations with your daughter – it specifically says that you cannot have sexual relations with a woman and her daughter. If you are her father, then you’ve already had sex with her mother. No need to spell it out separately. I’ve already pointed this out to you – are you just dense?

2) Leviticus 19:20 does not allow for ‘rape’ of a slave girl promised to someone else. It does not allow you to marry (or try to force marriage by having sex with) someone else’s servant. As has been noted by numerous scholars – Jewish and Christian – this was not a statement permitting slavery, but rather one protecting slaves in that culture, by preventing rape.

3) Acts 15 outlines what parts of the Torah – in terms of prohibition – are to be followed by Gentiles. As such, you need to trace back from these to where they line up in Leviticus. Sexual sin is defined primarily in Lev 18, whereas “blood” sins (like murder) and such are defined elsewhere in Leviticus. What is NOT included in Acts 15’s prohibitions is Jewish cleanliness and ceremonial law (which the things like ‘mixed cloth’, ‘clipped beards’ and such in Lev 19 are part of).

58   Sandman    
January 20th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

No, Mark, I’m not playing your game. Chris L answered your questions, as did others.

All the OT laws and animal sacrifices were meant to guide, teach and point the way to the perfect sacrifice God would one day send. I’ve been following this thread and watching you ignore or object to every cogent argument, appeal and apology given so far. It gives the apprearance that you’re not reading for understanding, but just reading to respond.

Everything you’ve said so far has largely had this Gnostic hint of “I know more than the rest of you–I have the truth.”
Again, you’re not saying anything that hasn’t already been confronted and dealt with by the Apostles, and in their own lifetimes no less. So maybe you might want to examine your motives behind why you’re devoting so much energy to sowing chaos and ignoring the full counsel of God as revealed in Holy Writ.

59   Mark    
January 20th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Sandman wrote:

No, Mark, I’m not playing your game.

Colossians 4:6

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

1 Peter 3:15
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

60   Sandman    
January 21st, 2008 at 1:34 am

Luke 4:23
“…Physician, heal yourself!” (Red letters, too.)

You’ve asked your questions and gotten your answers. There comes a point when one has to stop asking, “But why?” to the nth iteration.

2 Timothy 2:23
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”

61   Mark    
January 21st, 2008 at 8:48 am

Sandman wrote:
“There comes a point when one has to stop asking…”

2 Timothy 2:23
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”

Sandman, please read 2 Timothy 2:23 again carefully.

If you think this conversation has gone on too long then you certainly have the right to remain silent and not continue to participate.

62   Sandman    
January 21st, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Mark,

Use of the elipsis (…) says to the reader, “I’m leaving out a section of text for the sake of brevity; you can trust that in doing this, I’m not altering the meaning or intent of the writer.”

What you’ve done is say, “I’m leaving out a section of text…; you can trust that in doing this, I’m … altering the meaning … intent of the writer.”

Secondly, since 2 Timothy is not actually Jesus speaking, we just ignore that, right?

Lastly, if you think you’re not getting answers that are congruent with your way of thinking, it’s on you to look elsewhere for what you seek, or change your way of thinking.

63   Mark    
January 21st, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Sandman wrote:

Mark,

Use of the elipsis (…) says to the reader….

Sandman, I have no idea why you are rambling on about ellipses but don’t bother to explain further because to tell the truth I’m not all that interested.

Secondly, since 2 Timothy is not actually Jesus speaking, we just ignore that, right?

I had this discussion and clarification just recently with Neil. You must have missed it. Consider it a homework assignment for you to go back and study the response already given above.

By the way, 2 Timothy 2:23 (and 2:24) contains significant wisdom for you in this very conversation at this very moment. I encourage you to reconsider reading, understanding and then following Timothy’s instructions. They were meant for you.

Lastly, if you think you’re not getting answers that are congruent with your way of thinking, it’s on you to look elsewhere…

On the contrary, Chris L and Neil have submitted very thoughtful and intelligent responses to my questions. (even if Chris has to sometimes tell me twice :-) I appreciate their efforts. On the other hand, some of the most recent comments have begun to get rather snarky and self-aggrandizing. Not to worry. This is the Internet and the occasional childish burst of useless noise is to be expected.

64   Neil    
January 21st, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Mark,

I find the argument on the category of the law (ceremonial vs. civil vs. moral) to be irrelevant. The bottom line is we now live under a new covenant not the old. Therefore trying to figure out which article of the Law we must obey is moot. As far as I’m concerned it’s a minor discussion compared to you assertion that the Bible is contradictory. (cf. my comments from Jan. 19, 12:25)

Thanks for your kind words.

Neil

65   Mark    
January 24th, 2008 at 8:48 am

From the beginning of this conversation I have tried to explain that modern day Christians gloss over many logical quagmires caused by the popular hermeneutics of today.

So far we have been focusing on Homosexuality and how it is cleverly and carefully connected to adultry and also carefully and cleverly disconnected from wearing two different kinds of cloth by today’s popular hermeneutics.

Below is an example of another kind of logical quagmire. How can you require today’s christians to believe in the resurrection of Jesus in order for them to avoid hell unless you also condemn all Christians who lived in Jesus’ day but died before Jesus was resurrected?

Here is what was claimed over at another blog called:

http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2008/01/20/the-effects-of-denying-the-resurrection/

>”Those who deny the resurrection are not born of the Spirit,
>despite their claims. If they were born-again the Spirit would
>testify the truth of the Scripture to them.”

>” You can’t deny the foundation of the faith and simultaneously
>claim to be of the faith.”

And here is my reply:

>Does this mean that anyone who died before
>Jesus was resurrected is now in hell? If you
>read the Bible more carefully, you will notice
>that Jesus directly told people that they could be
>saved simply by believing in him. Jesus never
>said that they must wait for his death and
>resurrection and believe in that. This is one
>of many logical quagmires that Christians
>currently practice.

66   Mark    
January 24th, 2008 at 9:00 am

Neil wrote:
>”…trying to figure out which article of the Law we
>must obey is moot. As far as I’m concerned it’s a
>minor discussion compared to you assertion that
>the Bible is contradictory.”

Hey!! There is that word, “moot”, again!

Neil, would it help for me to clarify by saying that it isn’t the Bible that is contradictory. It is our currently popular but significantly flawed hermeneutics that is making the Bible appear to be contradictory? Thus, when we find the correct hermeneutic then the Bible will appear to contain no contradictions.

67   Mark    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2008/01/the_hermeneutic.html#more
January 27th, 2008 at 11:47 am

Scot McKnight is quoted over at the Christianity Today website:

>”I’m curious why one of my friends dismisses the
>Friday-evening-to-Saturday-evening Sabbath
>observance as “not for us today” but insists that
>capital punishment can’t be dismissed because
>it’s in the Old Testament.”

I see that Scot and I have the same questions. Why are some parts of the Bible allowed to be ignored yet others are not? Why do some Christians accuse others of “reader-response” hermeneutics all the while applying their own “Reader-response” hermeneutic to the Bible.

68   Mark    
January 28th, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Comment from Chris L
>I’m pretty sure that every writer for this site
>respects Walter Martin, and none of us believe
>that his three marriages detract from the truth
>in his teaching.

Isn’t this just another great example of Christians ignoring parts of the Bible that they don’t find convenient all the while accusing others of “reader-response” hermeneutics?

69   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 28th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

No, mark – someone having a divorce doesn’t have an impact on whether or not something they taught contains truth or not…

70   Mark    
January 29th, 2008 at 9:24 am

My point isn’t really whether the Bible has truth or not but how people choose to obey that truth or ignore it. Why is it currently popular for Christians to desperately want to “fix” gay people yet no one is trying to “fix” divorced people and get them back with their first spouse.

This is just another example of “reader-response” hermeneutics downplaying the sexual sin of marrying and having sex with others after divorce, something which Jesus clearly forbids, but you and the church accept it without comment yet the current mainstream Christian attitude is that life long, committed, monogamous homosexual relationships are an abhorrent violation of scripture that must be corrected immediately even though Jesus never bothered to mentioned it.

Don’t you see how this whole discussion is just dripping with irony?

All hermeneutics are “reader-response” hermeneutics.

71   Neil    
January 29th, 2008 at 10:15 am

Why is it currently popular for Christians to desperately want to “fix” gay people yet no one is trying to “fix” divorced people and get them back with their first spouse. – Mark

Mark,

In many ways I agree with you. Homosexuality has been a sin that the American Evangelical church has been obsessed with for too long. I’m not ready to ignore the parts of the Bible that you do – but I agree that “we” have focused on it while “excusing” other sins.

That said, I think your use of “fix” in relation to gays and “no one” in relation to addressing divorce are overly loaded. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of ministries dedicated to marriage.

Getting off the illustration and back to the issue – how the American church has addressed or ignored certain sins is still moot to the discussion of whether not said action is sin.

I stand on the fact that God superintended the giving of his revelation to the point that he was able to assure that the black letters are as valuable as the red.

Neil

72   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
January 29th, 2008 at 10:15 am

Mark,

You have clearly demonstrated that a) you don’t understand what hermeneutics is, and b) as a result, you have no clue what “reader response” hermeneutics are, either.

Most certainly the church has not responded, in recent years, in an equal manner toward divorce, fornication, etc. as it has toward homosexual sin. This is not because the latter is not a sin, or because it should be “lowered” to the attitude toward other sexual sins – rather, it is because the others should be raised to the same view as being sin that must be dealt with.

FYI – we’re in the process of shutting down old comment threads, particularly when they cease any forward momentum, and as such, I’m closing this one down…