Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Good Question Leads to a Good Answer (in this case)

(Click to enlarge)

I think I'm going to wait until tomorrow to answer the question on the book of Job. Just kidding! I wouldn't do that to you, fair reader. BTW, today's comic strip is unrelated to the subject, so you can just laugh without having to think ^_^

First off, Clumsy Ox had this to say:

On Job: I'm confident Job "Really happened", for several reasons:

1. Job, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad are all specifically named and their nationalities are given. Further, we have a good idea at least what those nationalities were for Job (in the land of Uz) and Eliphaz (a Temanite: descendant of Esau).
2. Ezekiel twice mentions Job alongside Daniel and Noah: classed together, if you will.
3. James mentions Job as though he were real.
4. Job's daughters are named at the end of the book.
5. Job's lifespan after the trial (though not his exact age) is given.Typically, when Scripture tells a story as a parable or allegory, it omits names and personal details. When names are included, then it references real people. And mentioning his daughters' names and his own "age" (actually longevity after the trial) are way too much detail to fit the Scriptural pattern for an allegory or parable. Elihu is a bit of an enigma, although his name and nationality are given.

Bravo! That's some solid scholarship, and some fine points! I don't know that I can disagree with that. Most excellent. Had I been claiming that Job were allegorical, you would have just proved me wrong.

I couldn't not post Ox's response (yes, I know, a double negative). First off, I know that I'm not beyond being wrong on things. However, I never considered that a necessary point to make or something of primary importance to state. I don't make any exclusive claims that my way to follow Jesus is the only way to follow Him, or that my way of thinking is the only right way of thinking. We are all wrong in many ways that we pursue Him. We can't all be right, and I can't buy that the majority of people who call themselves Christians are going to hell because they don't do it "x" way. We can only do the best we can, and if our hearts are truly after Jesus, God will honor that and show us the best way for ourselves to pursue Him. It won't look the same as many others, but God is interested in leading them on their spiritual journey, and not on our own.

Having said all that, I'll get back to my hypothetical question: What if the book of Job is allegorical? Well, what if it is? Does that really make God less trustworthy?

My answer is this: If Job is allegorical, then that does not impugn the character of God. Can we be so stuck in being literalists that we do not allow God artistic expression in His word? Yes. Most fundamentalist preachers you hear on the radio certainly are.

But, this comes across to me as all being secondary, which is why I don't want any comments saying "But Job isn't allegorical" (that's been very well established, and we were speaking hypothetically). I see the real question that most people want answered is: Are you implying that Scripture is not inerrant? If I am to have my hand forced, I would say this: All Scripture is as inerrant as God could possibly make it, in its original autographs (or, for my non-Christian friends, the original document that was written by the author of each book). We already discussed the trouble with language in an earlier post, and that is relevant to consider here, but I'll allow you to do that on your own. I don't want to sidetrack from the main issue.

Obviously what we have now is something incredibly similar to what we had in the original autographs. The Masoretes were so faithful to preserve the original Hebrew texts for the majority of the first millennia (the Jews were beyond reproach up to that time), and we now have so many more manuscripts of the Greek from the third through fifth century AD than ever before.

However, there have been scribal errors and there are regional variants in the texts. Just look at some of the numerical errors between the books of the Kings and the Chronicles. If we hold to an incredibly strict view of innerancy, which, again, the vast majority of fundamentalists and evangelicals (and fundamentalist evangelicals) I've "run" with in my lifetime have, then you have to toss everything out.

However, the "other" camp, the camp of atheists and evolutionists, don't even hold themselves to such high standards. Inerrancy has become the "red-herring" in the debate between the liberals and conservatives.

Allow me to pose the question, but in a more positive light, and completely off the continuum of modernism (which has liberalism at one end and conservatism/fundamentalism at the other). Obviously, if you're here you either believe there is a God or there may be a God. Further, if you're here and you're Christian, you believe not only that there is a God, but He sent Jesus to fulfill many things and create a new covenant with man. So, it doesn't really come down to whether or not Scripture is inerrant. The question is: Is the Bible, and by extension God, trustworthy?

To this I would shout from the top of the hills, "Yes! Yes! And a thousand times, Yes!" I believe that God is trustworthy.

My concern on this is that people who cannot fully embrace a radical view of inerrancy are often looked at as less than Christian. That isn't right. If they embrace Scripture with a high view of it as God's story for them, then they should be welcomed and loved as one of us. Further more, we can't force people into thinking that they must become modernists/fundamentalists/evangelicals/Catholics/Orthodox/Brethren just to follow Jesus. I say again, the early church developed the Apostle's Creed to guard what was essential and precious to claim that one is a follower of Christ. If they can say that, in my book, they're in.

What does it say about Christians who are quick to put down questions about inerrancy and other things without wanting to offer any respectable answers? It makes us sound like cultists or people who have something to hide. That certainly doesn't bolster anyone's faith or God's credibility. We have to give this a thorough and full treatment. I don't think God would want us to do any less. He certainly doesn't have any "skeletons" to cover up. Most modern evangelicals try so hard to make an "air-tight" case for God and the Christian faith. An "air-tight" case exists for no belief/theology/system/faith. We need to focus on being good so that as a result people will see how true Jesus' teachings are. He said they'd know us by our love. It's time to get off our butts and start living it.

I apologize for the length of this post, to my readers that this bothers. I felt like I had to give this a full treatment in one sitting or face the threat of being burned at the blogging stake (LOL).

Next week, I'm thinking of discussing "The Sinner's Prayer," and a different view on that. It'll probably get coupled with a discussion on judgment and the "Are you in or out?" mentality of the modern evangelical church.



clumsy ox said...

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the "just read the Book" approach. Much like what Anne advocates.

A couple years back, I had to decide that if I really believed Scripture was "God-breathed", it's much more powerful than I was giving it credit for. So, I started just reading it.

My consistency needs a LOT of work, but as I've just read Genesis--Revelation, over and over in the last few years, I find the Book is so much more than I expected.

Right now, I'm trying NASB. Last time, I used ESV. Before that, I used Darby several times. I'm not sure what's next, but I'm enjoying my Bible Translation Buffet. I haven't read through KJV since 1992, if I ever actually did it. Maybe KJV is next.

But I think that lines up well with your (excellent) "faith" points. If we accept that God has spoken, it's worth listening. And I'm finding (strangely) that listening seems to be even more important than analyzing.

uberstrickenfrau said...

Next week??! Gotta wait a whole week for more,ahhhh,...um.. food for thought? Cruel.

queen z said...

You know I would like to think it is allegorical simply because Jobs example of endurance makes me feel very petty in the things I complain about ;)

But that is probably not the case....I would like to pose a question...what if the Song of Solomon was not a love story between an actual man and a woman but rather a love story between God and His Church?

R said...

I believe that the Bible is trustworthy (even with some scribe errors, which are most likely from what I have heard, minor) because God says that it is. Period.

It takes faith to believe I have a brain in my head even though I can't see it. I can at least see that the Bible exists.

God gets all the credit for any artistry in any form. We as his creation, are reflections, minus our sinfulness, of his glory. If I sing, it is because He made singing beautiful. If I write beautiful stories, it is because He made writing beautiful and writes beautifully Himself. Same with any thing. He is THE ARTIST.

I just trust Him.

R said...

Good question by Queen Z. I wonder how Solomon, claiming that the chick in Song of Songs is his "only love" and then he has another seven hundred wives or so. Polygamy just bugs me.

I would lose my mind if I thought about it anymore. LOL!!

KingJaymz said...

Ox: Exactly. That is just my point. I think it's pretty annoying and pointless to try to argue for or against the Bible. In the end, it isn't the "scientific/historical facts" that we can prove about it. That is a total red-herring. It is the goodness of living out God's story in our lives that is the "proof."

usf - Naw, probably just until Monday. I might do a little more "heavy thinking" tomorrow, or I might just do something funny. I'm moving Friday through Sunday, so I may not get back here until Monday, though.

queen z - I come down in the middle and say it's both. God created sex, which makes it good. It would not be unholy or bad to have a heavily sexual book in the Bible inspired by God, intended to teach a husband and wife how to cherish and "romanticize" with each other. But, I've heard a lot of teaching about it being a love story between God and His people. Certainly, I can see something of that too. However, I look at 7:11-13 and think, "Damn, that's really overtly sexual." I don't know how else we could take it.

To borrow a line Niki stole from someone else on her sex, love and marriage blog, "Christians should be having the hottest sex." God has a vested interest in our sex lives, as His people, and I think that we have much we can learn in that category from SoS.

r - Right on. Preach it.

MugwumpMom said...

The Sinners Prayer? Looking forward to that one.

As for the Bible...you are right, there is no point in "arguing" it's inerrancy with someone who doubts it. Simply suggest that they read it for themselves..and if necessary, buy them one. Anyone who reads it with a heart to wanting to know the Truth will find that it speaks for itself, and needs no champions.

At the risk of getting cheeky, my challenge to anyone who is convinced that the Bible is just another holy book among many all claiming to be inspired, is read the others that claim to be inspired and then read the Bible. The difference is staggering.

Finally, someone very dear to me (my mother) insists that the bible was written so long ago, and has been translated so many times that it's present version is totally bastardized from it's original intent...I wonder...why do we accept that the Greek ancients (Homer, etc) have been translated with integrity, but not the Bible?

cathouse teri said...

I say everything in both literal and allegorical. Every single thing in the bible really happened. And every single thing shows us a clearer picture of Christ.

So if we say that Job is a man who was born unto trouble, and then cried out to God and God said, "This is what has to happen in order to reveal myself to them," Job responds, "Where am I in this transaction? What about ME?"

"Who exactly are YOU compared to ME? Don't be ridiculous."

Anne said...

I'm with Clumsy Ox - very good answer on Job.

I am going to reply to your comment on another post here. I DO agree its okay to question - it is because of questions that I left the error I was raised to believe. My questions were more along the line of "something's just not right here" and then finding out that what was being practiced did not line up with God's Word. That question is a lot different than whether Job was allegorical. I believe it falls in this category:

2 Timothy 2:14-17 "Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer..." NKJV

Again, it is my opinion. I didn't believe the question to be a fruit-producing question.

It breaks my heart when I hear people say things like Mugwumom's mother says. My mother says this as well - it seems to be a popular phrase. My mother hasn't even read God's word. The last time she mentioned to me that the bible was written by a "bunch of men" I quickly asked her:

Me: Do you believe in God?
Mom: Yes.
Me: Do you believe in Jesus?
Mom: Yes.
Me: Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God and came down and died on a cross for our sins?
Mom: Yes.
Me: Well the source of what you believe came from God's written word - the Bible you so easily condemn. We have to believe it all not just the parts we like and the parts we want to do.

She had nothing to say to me.