If the bible is god's handbook for man, why is it such gobbledegook?

by Aussie Oz 112 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • carpediem

    Exactly! An excellent read is "Who wrote the Bible" by Richard Elliot Friedman. Sorry if I have repeated what someone else has said - don't have time to read through all the posts.

    IMO, if an intelligent God existed then he would have communicated his existence, intentions, the meaning of life etc etc., in a clear and concise way that left no doubt whatsoever. The fact that he is hasn't shows that he either doesn't exist, or doesn't care.

  • PSacramento

    Part 6, but a relevant view/opinion (since all we cna do is state an opinion):


    Reading Scripture After Inerrancy

    How shall we read Scripture? And how shall we organize its diverse witnesses into a theological whole? These are questions that naturally come to mind once we have rejected Biblicistic inerrancy and the hermeneutical approach that it seems to imply. In this part of my discussion I will try to formulate some key elements in a theological agenda that takes Scripture seriously without entailing a docetic-like rejection of Scripture’s genuine humanity. I go into further detail in my essay.

    a. Scripture as Ancient Human Discourse

    God gave us Scripture in words written by many ancient authors in diverse social and historical contexts, so it seems to me that we best honor this design by treating the Bible as the ancient text that it is. If we wish to read the Epistle to Romans well, we will try to receive it as Paul’s words and, in doing so, to receive it by informing ourselves about the historical situation and context of Paul’s day insofar as this is feasible.

    Our attempt to discern the aims, intentions and ideas of a biblical author will not provide a “determinate meaning” that guarantees we will get Scripture right. Nevertheless, we can achieve a sufficient sense of confidence in our understanding of Scripture, even a sense of certainty, that allows us to “run with it” in our attempt to understand God and the human situation.

    Second, our attempts to read and understand Scripture should never be reduced to a singular pursuit of the author’s aims and intentions. Authors also convey unintended meanings (which careful readers might sense), and there are any number of other things that might interest readers. Good interpretation will ask questions about the author’s intentions and motivation, or even questions about what modern science can tell us about a given book of the Bible, respecting both its author and implied audience. Though historical, linguistic, sociological and theological questions may be quite foreign to the intentions of the particular biblical authors, there is no reason that readers should not put these queries to the biblical text and benefit from the answers.

    b. Discerning Unity from Biblical Diversity

    When we read the Bible with historical and contextual sensitivity, we discover fairly quickly that Scripture does not speak consistently on all matters. But in many other cases we find Scripture’s undeniable beauty, as it encourages us to love God and neighbor with a spirit of abandon and self-sacrifice. If this is right … if Scripture speaks the truth through often perceptive yet warped human horizons … then how can we piece together a useful and coherent understanding of God and of his relationship with us? How can the Bible, as a diverse and broken book, serve as a primary source of our theological insight?

    First, if we keep in mind that every text in Scripture provides an “angle” or perspective on the truth, then we are reminded thereby that all of Scripture, even its most broken elements, speak a word from God. There is no need to resort to some kind of “canon within a canon” that excludes parts of the Bible from the theological conversation.

    Second, in spite of Scripture’s obvious diversity, the overall impression is one of unity. The Bible was assembled by editors and theologians who sought to present a portrait of the human situation and of God’s redemptive plan to put it right; they were “systematic” in some respects. One result is that Scripture as a whole creates the impression of a coherent story … of what one scholar has called a “theodrama.” 1

    In particular, the shape of this biblical story explicitly points us to a third principle for organizing our theology. Namely, our theology should grant priority to Jesus Christ … to knowing him, his teachings, and the redemptive significance of his resurrection, ascension and eventual return. The entire canon of Scripture, with its first testament leading up to Jesus and the second reflecting back on his life, is oriented around the revelation of God in Christ.

    Fourth, God speaks both explicitly and implicitly in Scripture. For example, he speaks explicitly in Deuteronomy 6 when he invites us to love God with all of our heart, and in Matthew 5 when he tells us to love our enemies. In these cases the human author’s ordinary meaning stands very close to God’s meaning. God speaks implicitly in other texts, where there might be a very great distance between the human author’s meaning and God’s. Such is the case when the human author of Deuteronomy portrays God as demanding the slaughter of Canaanites. We know from elsewhere in Scripture that this portrait of God is warped and implicitly attests to the broken condition of the biblical author and of our world.

    The practical implication of a “dark text” is not that we, as modern Christians, have better insight and ethical fiber than the biblical author. Rather, the implication is that all of us are like him … all of us have “Canaanites” that we hate. So we stand together with the author of Deuteronomy as broken human beings in need of Christ.

    The task of rightly relating the Bible’s diverse texts is fostered by a fifth element in our theological reading of Scripture, which usually goes by names like “progressive revelation,” “redemptive history” or, more recently, “trajectory theology.“ All of these approaches reflect a belief that, in the nature of things, God’s continuing conversation with humanity gradually unfolds within the emerging contours of history. God speaks first through creation, then through the Old Testament, then in Christ, then in the New Testament, and then through the ever-present and continuing voice of his Spirit (including its activity in and through the Church). It is fairly easy to see that there must be something right about this progressive understanding of divine discourse, both logically and substantively. Logically, whenever God speaks to us, it goes with the territory that there is some measure of “progress” in our understanding of God.

    Will trajectory theology not lead us “wherever the winds of culture blow?” This is an understandable and very reasonable concern, and we should make every effort to insure that our theological work does not simply mime the latest social fashions. At the same time, we really must admit, I think, that trajectory theology has always been far-reaching and surprising to those on the conservative side of theology. Trajectory theology led the early (largely Jewish) Church to embrace uncircumcised Gentiles and led the later Church to renounce slavery and polygamy, two social institutions that were permitted in both Testaments. And in the case of slavery, it was indeed the “wind of culture” … especially the Enlightenment critics of Christianity … that contributed to our understanding of human freedom. 2 So we cannot easily say beforehand where (or how) the Spirit might lead us as it guides us in reading Scripture.

    Though I’ve not spelled it out up to this point, the foregoing discussion of trajectory theology implies another principle that should be at work in our reading of Scripture. Namely, a healthy use of Scripture should recognize that theology can by no means depend on Scripture only. Christian theology, as it reads and seeks to follow Scripture, must be ready to move beyond Scripture in some cases. And when it does so, this theological move is not foreign to the Bible but rather invited by it. That is, paradoxical as it might sound, it’s quite biblical to go beyond the Bible. The goal of biblically informed theology is not merely to go where the Scripture goes … we must also be ready to go where God, through Scripture, is pointing.

  • myelaine

    dear Terry...

    O you're talking to ME again!...

    you said:

    "Look at the post history on this forum. What hasn't been said over and over and over and over again? Endless chains of new people pass through newly damaged with the same "don't-know-what-hit-me" questions and puzzlements.

    There is no final thought to be had.

    As long as religion, superstition, credulous belief and blind faith operate in the world there will be battered victims.

    On the other side of that pile of human suffering we have the "True Believers" who will defend proudly to the death every jot and tiddle of something which smells of human origins. Why? Comfort and superiority. Or, intellectual laziness."...

    If you are talking to ME then I don't understand why you ask "comfort"...and "superiority" you know that I do take comfort in the scriptures...because I did ask what is going on in the world...in "man" that has caused him to be sooo depraved...it's not random violence without a cause because if we are becoming more civilized/domesticated as a species then we should have gotten better at loving our brother but we didn't. tribal mentality is still there but now we have tribes nursing their pet peeves and causing unrest because of stupid shit that has nothing to do with helping anyone or anything but everything to do with causeing division. In all of our correspondence over the years I have never even hinted at superiority over you...ever. You may say that I am intellectually lazy but that doesn't make it so...if it makes you feel better to say that and in the process intimate that you have got a good bead on everything BECAUSE you don't look to the bible or God for any answers then I can only suspect that you harbour feelings of superiority in that stance.

    For thus says the LORD:

    “ Sing with gladness for Jacob,
    And shout among the chief of the nations;
    Proclaim, give praise, and say,

    ‘ O LORD, save Your people,
    The remnant of Israel!’
    Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
    And gather them from the ends of the earth,
    Among them the blind and the lame,
    The woman with child
    And the one who labors with child, together;
    A great throng shall return there.
    They shall come with weeping,
    And with supplications I will lead them.
    I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
    In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
    For I am a Father to Israel,
    And Ephraim is My firstborn.
    “ Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
    And declare it in the isles afar off, and say,

    ‘ He who scattered Israel will gather him,
    And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’
    For the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
    And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.
    Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
    Streaming to the goodness of the LORD—
    For wheat and new wine and oil,
    For the young of the flock and the herd;
    Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
    And they shall sorrow no more at all.
    “ Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
    And the young men and the old, together;
    For I will turn their mourning to joy,
    Will comfort them,
    And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.
    I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance,
    And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.”

    Thus says the LORD:

    “ A voice was heard in Ramah,
    Lamentation and bitter weeping,
    Rachel weeping for her children,
    Refusing to be comforted for her children,
    Because they are no more.”

    Thus says the LORD:

    “ Refrain your voice from weeping,
    And your eyes from tears;
    For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD,
    And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
    There is hope in your future, says the LORD,
    That your children shall come back to their own border.
    “ I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:

    ‘ You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
    Like an untrained bull;
    Restore me, and I will return,
    For You are the LORD my God.
    Surely, after my turning, I repented;
    And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
    I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
    Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
    Is Ephraim My dear son?
    Is he a pleasant child?
    For though I spoke against him,
    I earnestly remember him still;
    Therefore My heart yearns for him;
    I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD.(jeremiah 31:7-20)

    surely nursing your pet peeves about the bible and God and Jesus are not in line with the heart of God who pleads to you from a time past in His word and through those that are committed to the work that was ordained from the foundation of the world...laboring in Jesus' name amongst the great throng. You drank bitter water that humiliated you because you are a proud man...and you now pour forth your bitter water on the rivers and springs of water...water that does not heal...

    have you, in your journeys, been restored to your "former glory" or are you still wandering in the wilderness of your "JW wasted youth"?

    ...God's heart yearns for you...and I love you dearly...not only because I've come to know you a little bit in our e-mails but because the heart of Jesus beats in me and He loves you. I know who this LOVE comes from because of the words of the bible. It is a unique and special book and I am forever thankful and well pleased to know that my God (the God of Israel) did inspire the compilation of it through His people, I accept that the bible does show/prove (to me and many others throughout time) that God is concerned for humanity and I can see that He does have a plan and that instead of me wandering around in my own wilderness...I have a purpose in His plan and I couldn't be more honored...but wouldn't you rather see me wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked?

    love michelle

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