I don’t believe that the Bible is infallible or inerrant, either, though I believe it is inerrant in what it intends to teach.
So, I’m not clear how God, who tells Israelites that Sabbath-breakers are to be stoned to death, fails to square up with the Christian revelation. The statement that, “I and my Father are One” doesn’t mean, “Ignore the stuff you read in previous Testament.”
A God who would lead Christ to the slaughter seems like a God who would order Sabbath-breakers dead. A God who would feed 5,000 from a loaf and two fishes seems like a God who would bring water from a rock, or fresh quail via a sea wind. What, exactly, is the error, or the immorality?
it really is amazing how anyone can believe that the bible is inspired, given its many obvious and objective errors, not to mention the extremely sordid history behind its canonization process…if we accept that the bible is inspired, i think we have to conclude that accuracy isn’t a necessary part of that inspiration, in which case we can fairly question the value and validity of the discipline of theology, among other things…
but we might also consider the possibility that evident errors are a convenient hook for someone who wants to doubt to feel good about that doubt, and that the holy spirit has a way of neutralizing the impact of those errors in the case of someone who wants to believe…in other words, while there may be an objective reality associated with the bible, the mindset of the reader factors into the perception and reception of that reality…that is, the fact that someone can legitimately find problems with the bible is neither here nor there…the bible is its own arbiter, regardless of whether it’s accepted or rejected, or why…this type of self-contained reality is outside the range of our typically scientifically mediated ken, and presents an interesting thought puzzle…
How about the idea that the revelation of God in Jesus actually overturned parts of the Torah and the entire OT, and the views of God that were actually expressed in them? The woman caught in adultery should have been stoned to death, according to the Law. Jesus overturns that entire mandate with forgiveness. The disciples ask if they can call fire down upon those who dissed and apparently rejected the Messiah, in the same way that Elisha called down fire from God upon those who ridiculed him. Jesus told them that they didn’t even know what spirit motivated them.
God is said to have told the Israelites to wipe out the men, women, children, and even animals in a specific conquest detailed in the Torah, and then to take the unmarried virgins as war booty brides. Many of the psalms call for God’s vengeance upon and annihilation of Israel’s enemies…genocide essentially. Many of these were sung in worship in the temple. Such conquest was deemed to bring Yahweh honor and glory.
Meanwhile, Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, specifically the Roman oppressors in the land, to go the second mile for them, and to turn the other cheek. Then, the NT church is led by the Spirit to accept uncircumcised Gentiles into the people of God through faith in Christ, nothing else. All of this is found nowhere in the Torah or the entire OT, but is advocated and taught by Jesus and his followers in the NT.
This, to me, is why Jesus must be considered as the ultimate revelation of God, and why the Torah and OT can only be interpreted in light of him. It seems that God, who was often portrayed in terms of a tribal, warrior deity in the OT, was dealing with a people and their understanding of him throughout that time. IOW, the picture of God in the OT doesn’t just reflect who God is, it reflects what the Israelites, including the biblical writers, thought about who God is. It seems that God was ok with that being recorded and brought together as scriptures. It also seems that God wasn’t through revealing himself through the OT scriptures…hence Jesus.
The story of Jesus is deeply rooted in the story of Israel, their history, and their scriptures. But Jesus also burst the bounds of that story in new and surprising ways that were never expected. IOW, those scriptures were not an inerrant and infallible revelation of God. Only Jesus is. And, the fact that our picture of Jesus and God is again shaped by the NT writers, though inspired, still working within the limitations of language, culture, and human perspective, should give us humility as to our stances on truth, scriptures, and the ways we think that God could and should work in our world today.
The controversy over WO is a good example of an almost idolatrous view of scriptures run amuck. Just some thoughts, Harry.
"The General Conference Working Policy does establish the criteria for ordination. There are fifteen such criteria listed in GC Working Policy L 50, none of which refer in any way to gender. If, therefore, any individual approved by a union conference meets these fifteen criteria, the General Conference authority has been satisfied. Given that there is no gender reference in these requirements, the union conference is acting within its authority to ordain women as stated in GC Working Policy B 05. Policy exercises governance over both practice and perception. But in the case of gender issues in ordination, there is no policy. However, over a century of practice has created the perception that there is policy on this matter, and one hundred years of practice certainly does establish precedent. But it remains that policy is the issue in ordination, neither practice, precedent nor perception.
"The actions of the three GC Sessions [previously detailed] are not based on policy, leaving one to wonder what they were based on; practice, precedent, perception, or perhaps prejudice? But unless the General Conference changes its policy and takes away the authorization given in GC Working Policy B 05 to other levels of governance such as the local church regarding membership, or the local conference regarding employment, or the union conference regarding ordination, it is not free to intrude into these areas. Thus its attempt to counter the union authority in the area of ordination is a violation of its own policy.
“If the General Conference wishes to address the issue of gender in ordination to ministry, it may do so, but only after changing its policy to a straightforward requirement that ordination is male gender exclusive, forbidding the ordination of females. There is no such policy presently in existence, nor has there been in the history of the church. Practice, precedent, perception and even prejudice do not constitute a policy. Only straightforward, clearly articulated policy governs the issue of gender inclusive ordination.”
I would suggest one looks at the congruent and incongruent nature of the OT and NT in the aspect of OT Israel was a theocracy rule by church and state. The NT is “the age of the gentiles” not meant to be a theocracy on earth. There is no inconsistency simply a different time of covenant application.
Jesus claimed no earthly ruler-ship in practice of earthly authorities and referred civil matters to those who ruled over them.
God revealed Himself in the OT and NT in the developing “Kingdom of God” to come in the “now and not yet.”
He/Christ will come in the not yet “not in peace” but with a sword against the nations and evil doers. Rev.19.
What are the congruent and incongruent aspects of dispensationalism? They deny the continuity of covenants of the developing kingdom of God. The covenant of grace began after the fall not at the cross that allowed it. God’s people have always lived under the covenant of grace that “both instructs and forgives in the blood of Christ.”
It is not law in the OT and grace in the NT.
Insightful article and comments. We don’t have all the answers but the Hebrews did attribute to God everything that happened to them. Sometimes they were right; not always. My belief is that God speaks to humans where they are in time and place. That is why we don’t see an attempt at cultural change including in the NT and slavery. Unfortunately instead of progressing in our understanding, many take the biblical culture literally. But most are willing to understand the slavery issue but not the comments about women and church leadership. Who can comprehend this? Today we have more choices in our society in the western cultures at least.
Much of your response seems an elaboration on what I said, as opposed to a contradiction of it. I’m not sure if you meant it in the latter way, or the former.
@PapaAfful’s statement was that, “At times some of the things these [Old Testament writers] make God say or do are immoral.”
He then cites the command to stone Sabbath-breakers (Ex. 31:14), or the the death of Uzzah, after he touches the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:1-7;1 Chronicles 13:9-12).
Quartey’s point is, as he says, that “It is difficult to square the God Jesus reveals to us with the one that demands” such actions. “But,” he adds, “if Jesus and his ‘father are one,’ then the erroneous portrayal of God,”—presumably, two examples of which he has offered—“which Jesus came to modify, is not a true depiction of God – leading to the suspicion that the canon contains inaccurate information about God.”
So, here’s my first point: Christ IS the God of the Old Testament. God the Father and God the Son aren’t two different persons, but, along with God the Holy Spirit, a tri-personal being.
Then, secondly, Quartey does not tell us: What is the inaccurate information, in his examples, about God? Did Uzzah actually not touch the ark? Did God actually not say not to touch it?
Or, in the case of those Sabbath-breakers: Did God not actually say not to stone them? If so, what did he say should be done when they disobeyed?
My response was, I don’t find these examples problematic, and I gave examples why I do not.
Put another way, I’m not clear: What is the supposedly “erroneous portrayal of God, which Jesus came to modify”? That is, it’s not in the Old Testament. The vision of God depicted there is awesomely varied and nuanced. And, again, Christ is God.
So, now, to your comments, Frank.
In the narrative, Jesus does forgive the woman. But He also tells her to stop sinning. Even more, though, he doesn’t say, “The law which says that a woman caught in adultery is supposed to be stoned was an incorrect revelation of God.”
He doesn’t, because, first, because there is no such law: The scribes and Pharisees were selectively applying Deuteronomy 22:22–24. The man who’d committed the act with her was also supposed to be stoned. They were perpetrating a stunt, because they weren’t trying to exact justice. They were trying to trap Christ.
Secondly, and thirdly, by saying, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone,” Christ devastatingly a) affirms the appropriateness of the law, as written, and b) points out their own hypocrisy. Essentially, He was saying, “Those of you who have not fornicated with women, or cheated on your wives, throw the fist rock.” The only one who, under this standard, could have thrown it was Christ.
Read in context, the incident is a referendum on the hypocrisy of the ruling order, the insidiousness of sin, the God-ness of Christ, and the power of God to change hearts. (Recall Christ’s warning to the formerly lame man at Bethesda’s pool: “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” [John 5:14, NIV] The words He said to the woman are in that spirit.)
The story is not a referendum on the OT law, at all. God’s vision of the Israelites, carrying out capital punishment during in the wilderness, would not have been mobs of Sabbath-breakers, stoning each other, but that of a righteous people purifying sin from their midst. (Note the sober entreaty by Joshua to Achan in 7:19.)
The same goal, then—of purifying sin from their midst—was at play during the conquering of Canaan.
One, the circumstances in Canaan and Jerusalem were so widely apart, and different in time and space, that I find it odd you compare them.
Two, it’s not “genocide,” essentially, or otherwise. Genocide is what would have occurred had Israel decided, on their own, to decimate the Midianites. God cannot commit genocide against human beings, because He made them. Any such action by Him is, essentially, a recall.
Three, the actions that the Israelites carried out in Numbers 31 were, first, against themselves. In Numbers 25, where the narrative groundwork is laid, Moses says to the judges of Israel, in v. 5 “‘Each of you must kill all of his men who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.’” Israelites get offed, first.
Four, God spares the virgins because they were not involved in the licentiousness that had taken place in the Acacia Grove.
Five, the permission to take the virgin Moabite women as brides was an act of mercy on behalf of the Creator. God did not tolerate intermarriage between Israelites and foreigners, but did so, here, under extremely special circumstances. Marrying the virgin women protected them from profound vulnerability. What, should we imagine, would happen to a group of Bronze Age virgin female survivors of a massacre if they were left, on their own, to roam the countryside? Another massacre, but only after they were all raped, first.
Six, the advice Christ gives the occupied Jews under Rome, in the NT, is the advice he gives the occupied Jews under Babylon, in the OT (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
Seven, acceptance of uncircumcised Gentiles into the people of God through faith in Christ, nothing else, is what admitted Rahab into Israel (Joshua 2, 6).
Obviously, Christ is the Ultimate Revelation. But Christ quoted the OT relentlessly, and didn’t seem to express any qualms about the God of that Book.
Certainly, Israel’s prerogatives are baked into the Old Testament. The question, though, is still this: Is this depiction of God false?
I’d resist your characterization of God as “a tribal, warrior deity.” God is not Mars. If you’ve not done so, I highly suggest that you read an essay which foregrounds the NIV Study Bible’s commentary on Joshua: “The Conquest and the Ethical Question of War.”
And, again, Jesus is also the God of the Old Testament.
Desmond Ford once said, “Had Genesis 1 been inspired in purely scientific terms, we would not yet understand it. It would probably be only an equation and useless for all practical purposes.”
In a similar sense, I’m not sure if a human being could read or understand an inerrant, infallible book. Could such a book have parables? Could such a book utilize poetic devices, for example; metaphor, simile? If so, from what cultural referent, or framework, or era?
I agree with what you’ve said, here, in your penultimate paragraph, about pretty much everything, especially Christ. What I disagree with is the idea or implication that the writers of the OT were working with different subject matter, or tools, than those in the NT.
That is, a Christ so radically shaped by the OT, and, Himself, the pre-incarnate Shaper of it, cannot be seen apart from that text, whether one deems it inerrant, infallible, or not.
I couldn’t agree more with the author if I tried. I have a book called “Hard Saying of the Bible” which is almost two inches thick and the entire book is on inconsistencies with scripture. The bulk of these inconsistencies, or contradictions are not the kind that would change a theological perspective, but there are some that do.
I have explained to my Sabbath School Class on numerous occasions that biblical contradictions are very easy to demonstrate. Just look at Jesus’s last words on the cross. All of the Gospels have Him saying something different. Look at who showed up at the tomb on Sunday morning, all four have a slightly different group of individuals as well as some discrepancy as to when they arrived. This doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that there are some errors. Does it matter? In some cases yes. That is why you need to “study” the bible, not simply spout out a bunch of “proof texts”. The OT is riddled with different numbers of people killed in the same battles. I have been told by more than one Adventist Minister, that most of the numbers of men in battles in the OT are highly exaggerated.
Do not forget the simple fact that there are over 4,000 denominations in the Christian world and they all derive their beliefs from the same scriptures.
When the SS lesson was on Matthew a few quarters back, I counted the number of discrepancies at 172 contradictions just in the book of Matthew. That should give you some perspective.
God used flawed humans to convey an unflawed Savior. The author is spot on… God is infallible, biblical authors are not. So don’t make yourself look like an idiot and say that the bible does not have errors, contradictions, or inconsistencies.
During the Exodus and following it was important for God to be seen as ALL powerful. My conjecture is that with this mindset the writers of the OT in particular would attribute everything to God. If it was some other being doing bad things and God did not stop them, then He was not ALL powerful.
Matthew et. al,
Here are some excerpts from a short book which enabled me to see God and His plan of salvation as outlined in the Bible in a new way. (Please forgive the length of this comment but by providing some excerpts from linked material I hope to encourage people to make the effort to study it further.)
Concerning the nature of Scripture:
“The Bible then resembles, yet differs from, other books, just as the flesh of Christ resembles and yet differs from the flesh of other men.”
“…like Christ’s flesh, and indeed like every other revelation which God has made of Himself, the letter of Scripture is a veil quite as much as a revelation, hiding while it reveals, and yet revealing while it hides…”
Concerning the testimony of Scripture:
“I pass on now from the nature of Scripture to its teachings as to the destiny of the human race, and more especially of those who here either reject or never hear the gospel…”
“What then does Scripture say on this subject? Its testimony appears at first sight contradictory. Not only is there on the one hand law, condemning all, while on the other hand there is the gospel, with good news for every one; but further there are direct statements as to the results of these, which at first sight are apparently irreconcileable. First our Lord calls His flock “a little flock” (Luke 12:32), and states distinctly that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 20:16; 22:14); that “strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life (εἰς τὴν ζωήν), and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14); that “many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24); that while “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life (ζωὴν αἰώνιον), he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36); that “the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46; κόλασιν αἰώνιον), “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41); “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29); “the damnation of hell” (Matt. 23:33), “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44); that though “every word against the Son of Man may be forgiven, the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world (ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι), nor in that which is to come” (Matt. 12:32); and that of one at least it is true, that “good had it been for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:24)…”
“Words could not well be stronger. The difficulty is that all this is but one side of Scripture, which in other places seems to teach a very different doctrine. For instance, there are first the words of God Himself, repeated again and again by those same Apostles whom I have just quoted, that “in Abraham’s seed all the kindreds of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8); words which St. Peter expounds to mean that there shall be “a restitution of all things,” adding that “God hath spoken of this by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). St. Paul further declares this wondrous “mystery of God’s will, that He hath purposed in Himself, according to His good pleasure, to rehead (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι) and reconcile (ἀποκατάλλαξαι, to reconcile back again) unto Himself, in and by Christ, all things, whether they be things in heaven,” that is the spirit-world, where the conflict with Satan yet is (Rev. 12:7), “or things on earth,” that is this outward world, where death now reigns, and where even God’s elect are by nature children of wrath, even as other men (Eph. 1:9-10; Col. 1:20; Eph. 2:3). Further St. Paul asserts that “all creation, which now groans, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-23). In another place he declares, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19), and that Christ “took our flesh and blood, through death to destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14); that “if by the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Rom. 5:15)…”
Andrew Jukes, a 19th century English clergyman, who wrote the above words goes on to write:
“The truth which solves the riddle is to be found in those same Scriptures which seem to raise the difficulty, and lies in the mystery of the will of our ever blessed God as to the process and stages of redemption:—
(1) First, His will by some to bless and save others; by a first-born seed, “the first-born from the dead” (Col. 1:18), to save and bless the later-born:—
(2) His will therefore to work out the redemption of the lost by successive ages…or, to use the language of St. Paul, “according to the purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11):—and
(3) Lastly, His will (thus meeting the nature of our fall,) to make death, judgment, and destruction, the means and way to life, acquittal, and salvation; in other words, “through death to destroy him that has the power of death, that is the devil, and to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14).”
He then explains the only theology I have yet encountered which can reconcile all of the above (and many other) apparently contradictory passages in the Bible. It’s not Calvinism, nor Arminianism but contains truthful elements of each. It was orthodox Christianity for the first four centuries after Christ.
Do you believe Christ will touch the Mount of Olives literally?<<
Who was Zech. 14:1-4 message to? Was it to post exilic Jews encouraging them to follow covenant with promises for Jerusalem for faithfulness to covenant? Did they accept Messiah? Was Jerusalem destroyed as a result? Where is the focus of Jerusalem now according to Hebrews 12:22,23; 13:14.
So, to answer your question. The repetitive prophetic imagery of both Jerusalem and Christ coming against the nations Rev.19:11-16 remains.
Dispensationalist creating two “peoples of God” and “two Jerusalem’s” has been removed. Likewise the premise of your question.
During the Exodus and following it was important for God to be seen as ALL powerful. My conjecture is that with this mindset the writers of the OT in particular would attribute everything to God. If it was some other being doing bad things and God did not stop them, then He was not ALL powerful.<<
So Robelle you are in favor of a robotic satan and humanity that has no abilitiy to make “limited choices/freewill?”
You can’t have it both ways.
By some God is damned if He does and damned if He doesn’t…do it their way.